-== What is it? ==-
The Esoterror Factbook (EF) is a supplement written for The Esoterrorists. It is published by Pelgrane Press and written by Robin Laws. The book has additional background information, setting material (NPC and locations), optional rules, and a mini-campaign setting where the PC can play in the paramilitary arm of the Ordo Veritatis (OV) called the Special Suppression Forces (SSF).
The book has a color cover and an entirely black and white interior. The book is 8 1/2? x 11″ and is 150 pages in length. It includes a detailed table of contents, a one page glossary, and an index. I have not played a game using this supplement (i.e. I have only read the book).
-== What I Like ==-
When I read The Esoterrorists my biggest complaint was with the lack of background material on the OV. The information in the main book is very sparse. Well…here it is in the first section of EF. This information really explains the OV and how they operate in the field. There is a lot of fantastic detail here. Frankly this section should be added to the main rulebook if Pelgrane ever decides to release an updated version of the main rulebook.
Following this is a section about the SSF. It is fairly short and would appeal to those who want to play The Esoterrorists with a stronger military presence. Personally I think the key to the system and the genre is the investigation aspect so I was not super keen on this section.
After the SSF material is a section with optional combat rules. I like the way these are approached as the GM is encouraged to pick and choose from the options to select the ones they want use. I really liked several of these rules and my combat hungry players would pick up on several of them very quickly. The Critical Hits rule is simple and nicely done.
I loved the section called The Enemy. This section covers various enemy personality types and how they can be interrogated effectively. The way this section is written makes it a blast to read and really informative. I really think this section should be read by most players and GM who are playing in ANY genre where people are being interrogated. This section is frankly that good.
The setting information includes data on suspected cells and their key members. I really enjoyed how Robin tied all of these together. The bits that connect the various factions really makes them feel realistic.
Locations where events have occurred in the past (aka LMSLs (Low Membrane Strength Locations)) are also covered. These LMSLs range from prefabricated houses to a meteor crater north of Siberia. These again tie back to the cells and suspected Esoterrorists in a very organic fashion. This setting material is really fantastic stuff that every GM can adapt to their campaign.
Jerome Huguenin did a great job on the cover for The Esoterror Factbook. The shadow in the background is creepy and it is tons of fun examining the cover closely to find that extra clue. I also think the pinkish coloring is different and catches your attention from across the room.
-== What I Don’t Like ==-
One of my few complaints with the book is the busy and dark interior layout. I am fine with artistic layouts but especially in a book like this with supplemental information that could be referenced often it needs to be readable.
-== Summary ==-
To put it mildly this book is a fantastic addition to The Esoterrorist product line. I honestly think that this might be one of the best supplemental books that I have read for ANY setting…it is that good. If you are going to buy The Esoterrorists save your money until you can both the main rulebook AND this one. The book sells for $29.95 which feels a bit high but not outrageously so. You can get a copy from Noble Knight Games at this URL for $24.95. You can get a copy at Amazon.com at this URL for $29.95. Finally they have it in PDF format at DriveThruRPG for $14.95 at this URL. Wow! $14.95 is cheap! I may have to get the PDF version too.
I give it 9 out of 10 paws.