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  • Your Top 5 Dark Eras

    So with three books in the Dark Eras series and almost 40 Eras, I think it is a good time to start comparing which of the Eras through the whole line are the most favored in the forums. As naming only one favored Era is too difficult for me, I think that having a list of your top 5 Eras, as well as why you chose them, would be a nice evaluation for such a thing. Besides, seeing why people love certain Eras over the others could be an interesting thing all by its own right.

    Anyway, my top 5 Eras are as the follows-

    1) Sundered World- I mean, how can't it be in the top of the list? Its level of weirdness and how it shows the difference between the modern setting and the ancient one is just awesome, and it also have dared to tackle some of the most difficult mysteries of the setting and gave some awesome answers for them.

    2) Hunger in the Black Land- a newcomer which quickly became one of my favorites, this Era is, again, so weird and old, and gives you a very different experience than the modern setting, while covering all kinds of crossover madness which competes with Malta's writeup in the Pack. I mean- mesoamerican prometheans in Egypt? Awesome.

    3) After the Fall- one of the more modern Eras, it is just full of so many delicate and cool plot hooks, starting with the collapse of the God Machine with the Byzantine Empire, presenting the rise of Dracula and finishing with what I think it the best crossover sidebar in the whole series.

    4) Fallen Blossoms- as an anime person an an hunter fan, the fact that this Era came only fourth just means to show you how awesome are the three other Eras are, IMO. In early 2e, Tokyo was always the kitchen sink of the CofD, and Edo took it to the next level, presenting you with the finale installment of the Hototogisu, the strange Otodo and the very dramatic feeling of monsters lurking in plain sight while a parliament of horrors takes shape.

    5) Doubting Souls- not, the 5th Era was very hard for me to choose, but in the end, I must go with my heart and my heart is Hunter. I must say that when I first heard about the Salem Witch Trails as an Era I had my doubts, but the presentation and paranoia of that Era, with hunters turning against each other while monsters leave the chaos and let the mortals kill each other was really amazing, IMO. Also, it gave us the Scarlet Watch, which are among my favorite Compacts by far.

    Honorary mentions- 1001 Nightmares (the muslim covenants were great, even if I'm ambivalent about the new Clan), Requiem for the Regina (for giving us the Weihan Cynn, which are my favorite covenant), Fall of Isireon (the immortals expansion was amazing, and the whole failing prophecy thing was awesome plot hook), the Seven Wonders (miasma and support for playable Fetches), To the Strongest (like, seriously, a really good Era which does not make it to the list just by not being an Hunter Era)

    Anyway, those are mine- what about yours?


    My Homebrew Signature

    "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

    I now blog in here

  • #2
    I had to divide mine into the eras I liked the most personally, and the eras whose design I think is overall strongest and best executed, because some of these eras rate very differently on each list. My number one favorite era doesn't even rate an honorable mention in my opinion of overall worksmanship and universality. It's messy and lacks focus. But I love it so much.

    My Personal Favorite Five:
    1. Beneath the Skin. Juicy, punchy, filled with plot hooks and ideas, and that Fortean high strangeness I come to the Chronicles of Darkness for.
    2. Forsaken by Rome. Tight pitch with a martial focus that fits the Forsaken, combines well with Requiem for Rome without at all being dependent on it, good mechanical support.
    3. The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Again, juicy, punchy, filled with hooks, merging a joyful indulgence in the fun of the pirate genre with an appreciation for the fascinating history and people of the time.
    4. A Handful of Dust. Evocative, thematic, complements the genre of Promethean effortlessly. The Hollow are not only a nice touch, but their Dust Devils remain the only 1e Mockery of Pandorans that I found interesting and positively productive of new ideas and angles.
    5. The Sundered World. An alien and pulp atmosphere that doesn't sacrifice an understanding of real world history. This is one of those settings that contributes both to games in that era and games set long after, with an elegant expansion on the nature of the forebears of the shartha.
    Honorable Mentions: Princes of the Conquered Land, The Seven Wonders, The Reign of Terror

    The Best Designed Four:
    1. The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. The perfect combination of dense, versatile content, tight focus, historical interest, and freewheeling fun. The sweet spot.
    2. To the Strongest. A rich setting that expands Mage's history with philosophies that fit their experience of the setting without being reductionist or cartoonish, and adapts Mage's genre of cryptoarchaeology to Naga kingdoms and lost giants. Dense, consistent, and powerful.
    3. The Sundered World. Playable, rich in unique details, and a setting that inspires exciting ideas for games of all eras.
    4. Forsaken by Rome. Smoothly tuned for playability and immediate access of plot hooks and angles, fused with engaging historical flavor.
    Honorable Mentions: Princes of the Conquered Land, A Handful of Dust, Hunger in the Black Land, Light of the Sun

    I cannot currently decide which of the honorable mentions takes the fifth position in the Best Designed Five; I need time to read and digest further. But it's one of those.
    Last edited by Stupid Loserman; 01-28-2020, 02:01 AM.

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    • #3
      So removing the elephant from my post’s room, One Thousand and One Nightmares will always have a special place in my heart both as my first freelance project and a really freaking cool idea. Probably a bit to egotistical to include my own work on my list, so it gets its own special spot.

      5. Fall of Iserion - Just oozes flavour and set the stage for Mummy 2e
      4. Forsaken by Rome - Pure/Forsaken mashups are a favourite of mine in Werewolf and this era executes on it so well.
      3. Princes of the Conquered Land - The fact this is relegated to number 3 shows how strong this list is. All of the top three are masterclass in making crossover work, but this one is the best at blending the games’ mechanics. And it enlivens a (sadly) obscure bit of African history, which is always a win.
      2. Hunger in the Black Land - I love ancient Egypt. I love crossover. I love Werewolf. I love Promethean. I have a soft spot for Beast. I just love everything about this era.
      1. Sundered World - Pangeans single handedly launch a thousand plot ships, both Modern and Historical. This era set the standard for what Dark Eras can be.

      Really though, it’s a stiff competition. I could easily do a top ten or fifteen and still feel like I’m leaving out something super deserving.

      (And I reserve tne right to change my mind once I give DE2 a proper, not still in development read where I can just be a fan again)
      Last edited by Second Chances; 01-28-2020, 02:52 AM.


      Freelancer (He/His Pronouns): CofD - Dark Eras 2, Kith and Kin, Mummy 2e, Oak Ash and Thorn, Contagion RMCs; Scion - Mysteries of the World, Wild Hunt

      CofD booklists: Beast I Changeling | Demon | Deviant (TBA) | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire | Werewolf (WIP)

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      • #4
        I don’t think To The Strongest gets enough love for really enriching MtA setting as a whole by identifying the historic context of the Diamond Order ideology, and being a cool setting in its own right at the same time.


        Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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        • #5
          I don’t love Mage and actively dislike Werewolf, but my top 2 are To The Strongest and The Sundered World.

          As an aside, I don’t like Forsaken By Rome, because it does Magna Mater so poorly.
          Last edited by atamajakki; 01-31-2020, 03:13 AM.


          Remi. she/her. game designer.

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          • #6
            I did not know you actively disliked Werewolf.


            Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
            Female pronouns, please.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
              I did not know you actively disliked Werewolf.
              My hot take that I would prefer not to fight about is that it’s always felt like it should be called Shaman: the Forsaken and you happen to turn into wolves sometimes. I’m just also not super hooked by the gameline’s mythology. Skinchangers getting an Era in DE1 was a very pleasant surprise.


              Remi. she/her. game designer.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by atamajakki View Post

                My hot take that I would prefer not to fight about is that it’s always felt like it should be called Shaman: the Forsaken and you happen to turn into wolves sometimes. I’m just also not super hooked by the gameline’s mythology. Skinchangers getting an Era in DE1 was a very pleasant surprise.
                Cool, thanks for explaining.


                Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                Female pronouns, please.

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                • #9
                  Second Chances I loved A Thousand and One Nightmares!!! Defo one of my favorite eras. I stayed up till 1:30 reading it when I was supposed to be texting my boyfriend and I didn’t even notice what time it was.

                  Question though. Who created the Rosetta Stone that made the Refrain readable after all this time?


                  The die is cast.

                  Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon

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                  • #10
                    Thank you! That is an intentional mystery left for storytellers to fill in the blanks for themselves.


                    Freelancer (He/His Pronouns): CofD - Dark Eras 2, Kith and Kin, Mummy 2e, Oak Ash and Thorn, Contagion RMCs; Scion - Mysteries of the World, Wild Hunt

                    CofD booklists: Beast I Changeling | Demon | Deviant (TBA) | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire | Werewolf (WIP)

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                    • #11
                      What if it was created by the Loyalists of the Final Dynasty around the time of the Roman conquest so that future generations would be able to translate the old writing and the old ways of Egypt wouldn't be totally forgotten even if the Romans tried to stamp them out? The real Rosetta Stone could be used to translate any hieroglyphs (it's so famous they even named a language course after it), so maybe it wasn't specificially intended to translate the Refrain in particular.


                      The die is cast.

                      Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon

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                      • #12
                        I haven't fully taken in DE2 yet apart from 1001 Nightmares (which I really like), so my choices are all from DE1 and DEC:

                        1. Sundered World: This is the Era by which all others must be judged. It should be a whole book. To put it another way, it's one of those pieces of writing that's so fucking good that it actually makes me a little envious.
                        2. Requiem for Regina: The "What Is to Come" section for Vampire is almost worth the price of admission alone, and Elizabethan England is such a perfect fit for Requiem and Changeling.
                        3. Forsaken by Rome: I just love anything involving Rome, and this was the foundation of a really fun chronicle I ran (for Vampire, not for Werewolf)
                        4. The Soulless and the Dead: New Promethean splat and an updated Morbus? Sign me up. The great plague is also a fascinating miniature apocalypse.
                        5. The Year Without a Summer: It's really more of a chronicle seed than an era, but I really like that chronicle seed.



                        Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

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                        • #13
                          I'm still reading through DE2, but as the best of the others go-I don't do top [arbitrary number] if that number is larger than a third of the total-it's more accurate to say I do top third of the material. To Wit, DE 1 has a top 5, DEC has a top 3, and DE2 has a top four. After all of that, I might pick my top five from the lot, but in the mean time:

                          DARK ERAS TOP 5

                          5)The Wolf and the Raven-
                          On the one hand, call this a stand in for all the favorites that don't make this list because they share similar characteristics to it, namely After the Fall, Lily, Sabre, and Thorn, A Grimm Dark Era, The Ruins of Empire, God's Own Country, and The Bowery Dogs. All of them are really strong Eras that I loved to read and would happily play in, and in fact a number of them impressed me with how good they were despite seeming the most lamely easy comparisons there were. But of that bunch, The Wolf and the Raven is the clear standout for being a Era I had NO expectations for and was instead blown away by how in-depth, on-point, and sheerly awesome it was. Hearthglass Beads are still really adorable, I still want to play a Hunter in Darkness who has wrong someone else, and as it turns out Viking werewolves are as cool as they sound. The major disappointment is that the Sin-Eaters weren't well integrated and given much teeth, and of course it's not as strong as some of the other entries from the book, LIKE

                          4)Beneath the Skin-This era is really fucking great the more you actually know about the Aztecs, and as a personal nerd for that civilization both pre- and post-Mormonism (I used archaeology to argue for the faith, and I used EVEN BETTER archeology to argue against it), I've never felt so personally rewarded by a piece of fiction about the Aztecs-but honestly, this Era is also a Master Class in picking a theme and sticking to it. Wildly inventive at all times, the Era takes it's transformative and transitional themes and plays them to the god damned hilt, creating a game of faces that you want to play just for the freedom to change in. Hard not love something this true to understanding and crazily fun at the same time.

                          3)Fallen Blossoms-The Olivia Hill split from Onyx Path remains a complicated wound for me, and while it opened up the guzzle of joy that is #iHunt and Olivia's other streams of creativity, Fallen Blossoms is a solid reminder of the loss. Hunter has never been so rooted in it's local world as it has been here, and few Westerner pieces of fiction do as good a job of peeling away the anime sheen over Japanese history and getting into the love for the much more complicated and messy legacy of the nation. The unification theme and employment of class strata throughout Hunter's approaches and undestanding is also such a powerful depiction of the myths that make societies flow while also clearly demonstrating how the center can't hold, being proudly heroic and collected without denying the setup for tragedies that such nation building invariably courts. I'm even MORE of a nerd for this kind of look on Japan, so yeah, this was my jam, and remains the era I'm most likely to run.

                          2)To The Strongest-What a weird world we live in where this isn't the best Era of this book. Not only did this completely change the game for Mage the Awakening and the collective appreciation for the gameline prior to Mage's actual Second Edition, but it really changed the entire language of historical gaming within the Chronicles World-no longer idle curiosities for people bored with the conventional gameplay, To the Strongest established the idea that Things Come From Places and got people excited in the idea of how both the real world and the fictional worlds grew and came to be. It also seemlessly dealt with the popular Ascensionism-driven conception of magic and mythology (even outside of Chronicles) and firmly flipped the script in a thoroughly satisfying way. It's also a hell of a time for player agency and good game direction, because players being able to be the cause of major game elements is basically awesome. Also, holy shit all the learning-this was the Era that established that Dark Eras was a springboard for solid learning experiences, and got a whole bunch of fantasy nerds to take History way more seriously. I mean, fuck, this era is good. Why is it second again?

                          1)The Sundered World-OH, RIGHT. The Pre-Apocalypse of Near-Pre-History is here. I remember people wondering what could possibly be the appeal of Neolithic gaming, and that question never occuring on the forums since it's release. Brutal and powerful, game-changing while being game-affirming, a natural feel of crossover, just REALLY god damn evocative-can I actually list something this era did badly? To The Strongest set the standard when the pre-release draft was out, but The Sundered World blew it out of the water and became THE BENCHMARK for all eras to fall short of after the final release. It's really just fucking awesome, and if you've read it, you know it, and if you haven't, I'm not sure I have words to explain how good it is that isn't better summarized by "Read the god damned era." This challenged a lot of my conceptions on what could be good and fun and won-so now I'm always compromised. Just JESUS CHRIST WOW.

                          DARK ERAS COMPANION TOP 3

                          3)Forsaken By Rome-There's a moral to the collected story of Dark Eras, and that moral is pretty much "Werewolf Eras Will Always Be Awesome". Forsaken By Rome not only gave us our first taste of a much improved Pure, but it honestly is second only to To The Strongest for basically dissolving the fantasy alliances and getting your characters into the actual history and politics of it's day, and breaks down the Roman glamour by applying Uratha wildness to their empire and conquests, punches up with the Germanian forces in a way that is evocative and cool, and then re-establishes the reasons you're probably a Rome Nerd with much of the same tools. History needs not be much more wild to trump fantasy, and this era delivers on that promise, but still is great horror fantasy all the same.

                          2)Princes of the Conquered Land-Honestly, if Sundered World hadn't stolen the crown, this would be the gold standard for crossover among the eras. Taking a look at a people and a time that is somehow shockingly ignored a lot in our day and age and really delivering on everything important and cool about knowing about the Shona, Princes is one of those clear-cut cases for spec fic to dive outside of it's more tired expectations to deliver engaging materal-I did not realize I was so bored of European settings until Princes kicked my ass. That Crossover Element is also Big, providing a solid metaphysical look that challenged assumptions, built worlds, and was just really fun to see in play-and it CLEARLY set the stage for Dark Eras 2 Crossover Approach that has Worked Stupidly Well So Far. But really, between this, Black Panther, and Orun, I'm quite ready for afro-spec-fic to take the hell over.

                          1)Fall of Isireion-In a Post Mummy 2E world, the sheer awesome of this era might be a little more lost than it was at the time-but bridging multiple time eras together, updating immortals and providing Sekhem Sorcerers, and just really being an awesome moment in time that broke the narrative people had on how Mummy would always have been a great way to feel acknowledged as a Curse fan-but then the era reminds you that the Ptolemaic Reign was fascinating, Cleopatra was a god damn boss, and ties the mysticism of the time into a Really Big Ass Metaphysical Possibility and there's just a whole metric shit ton to play with. The romance and instability of the era is infectious, and there really was no better way to kick up the fervor for Dark Eras after the lull of the first book.

                          So what will be my favorite of Dark Eras 2? Stay Tuned...Like, weeks from now, because I'm busy, kids.


                          Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                          The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                          Female pronouns, please.

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                          • #14
                            Beneath the Skin is an underrated winner. I adore the anachronistic Demon elements to bits.

                            I just wish we got an entire book of The Sundered World. Literally every possible gameline makes me excited.


                            Remi. she/her. game designer.

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                            • #15
                              Huh, doing it by book is a better idea. I may edit my post accordingly. Of the three books, I think Dark Eras 2 is the constantly strongest. But biases.


                              Freelancer (He/His Pronouns): CofD - Dark Eras 2, Kith and Kin, Mummy 2e, Oak Ash and Thorn, Contagion RMCs; Scion - Mysteries of the World, Wild Hunt

                              CofD booklists: Beast I Changeling | Demon | Deviant (TBA) | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire | Werewolf (WIP)

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