The Fatemasters Almanac
Through the Breach RPG
Through the Breach is a tabletop roleplaying game set in the world of Malifaux. Players take on the roles of various citizens, such as Gunfighters, Drudges, Dabblers, and Entertainers. Each of these characters is as unique as the players themselves. These are the Fated. As a Fated, you know your future, it has been told to you, as cryptic as the sparrow on a moonless night. It is your task to rush headlong into the arms of destiny, or to carve your own future.
One player takes on the role of the Fatemaster. It is his duty to craft the legends of the other players, to narrate the story of Malifaux in his own vision, and to move each Fated along towards the moment when they must choose between their fortune and their soul.
Through the Breach is a card-driven RPG, with actions resolved through the reveal of cards from a communal Fate Deck. Each player, however, has a Twist Deck of their own, and they can use these cards to push fate towards their own desires. The Fatemaster, however, relies on no such randomness. He is the lord of providence, after all. It is his task to weave a story, and if he dares to touch the Fate Deck… there are repercussions.
After reading over the ‘Fated Almanac’ I was keen to see more of the world of Malifaux and the ‘Fatemasters Almanac’ does not disappoint. At a five-chapter, 226-page book, it makes not only effective use of space, but the overall layout and artwork choices make this a beautiful book to own. Having also now seen a physical copy at my FLGS, I’d say these are some of the smoother products on the market right now. I seriously thought about skimming the first chapter ‘Fatemastering’ so that I had an overall impression of the tone of gamesmastering that Wyrd prefers and instead found that it warrants close attention. I’d recommend this chapter as reading for any GM, as it goes much deeper than any other guide I’ve read to date, and incorporates a lot of current discussion into the chapter. Besides general advice on running and pacing the game, it delves into ‘Getting to Yes’ (the notion of ‘yes, but…’ to encourage player interaction and investment rather than a simple ‘no’ to player ideas), ‘Actions have Consequences’ (my favourite section in this chapter by far, and a subject that RPG books like this need to address), as well as running prologues and epilogues (these terms have specific meanings in ‘Into the Breach’, but should be adapted to other games). This sets high hopes for the rest of the book. ‘Secrets of Malifaux’ introduces the Fatemaster to the world in more depth and goes to great lengths to illustrate how daily life ‘works’ in the game. This can be used for set pieces, backdrops to scenes, or as plot hooks and encounters. As someone not terribly familiar with the miniatures game, I found this easy to understand (and in fact absolutely necessary) and could think of ideas immediately for fleshing out scenes and bringing the world to life. ‘The Lost City’ then deals with how to create stories in Malifaux. This deals with how to construct stories generally, but then adds in Malifaux-specific elements and how to make the games personally relevant to the characters. It offers many more opportunities than just ‘loot and pillage’ (although that is certainly possible) and plays back to the lessons from the first chapter to illustrate ideas. This leads of course into ‘Dramatic Encounters’ which gives a range of adversaries and allies, motivations, schemes, intrigue, and stat blocks. You’ll get a lot of ideas from this chapter and the anecdotal additions provide some in-game flavour for the factions. Lastly, the book gives you some ‘Advanced Pursuits’ and is mainly mechanical in nature, providing options for Death Marshalls, Freikorpsman, Steamfitter, Grave Servant, and Torakage. I haven’t played the game enough to meaningfully evaluate content from the perspective of rules, but these are options readily identifiable to those who have played the miniatures game. If you intend to run ‘Into the Breach’ this purchase is non-negotiable in my mind. It makes an excellent addition to the ‘Fated Almanac’ and manages to deliver an incredibly practical tome that will serve any Fatemaster well. The ideas alone are well-worth the purchase, and I especially appreciated that the authors do not assume the reader is familiar with (or has played) the miniatures game. This was a particularly valuable design decision as it means the world can be enjoyed by those who have no interest in miniatures, whilst also offering an enhanced appreciation of the world for those who do. I will continue to have a high interest in pursuing this game and further offerings from Wyrd. The high expectations and hopes after reading the first chapter were certainly met.