Spite follows Dread as another game in the Book of Pandemonium series. The players impersonate down-and-out humans transformed by a mysterious figure into Zealots, whose job is to fight supernatural entities – this time not demons but angels.
The year 2008. On August 8th, an army of angels arrived on Earth, destroying the Triad area of North California and wiping out one and a half million people. Immediately, the area was sealed off and a news blackout imposed. The official version speaks about a terrorist nuclear attack. However, the thing that tried to kill you the other night sure as hell wasn’t a terrorist…
During character creation you may choose one of the five archetypes (called Personas), each of which offers a different attitude, style and special abilities. For example, the Crusader excels at protecting others, the Sinner is a more efficient killer, and the Prophet might have visions of places the Zealots should visit next. Also, although there are the same classes to choose from as in Dread (a Fighter, an Investigator, and a Sorcerer), the number of abilities available to them has been increased. This way, the characters are well-rounded and slightly more powerful than Disciples from the previous game.
Another novelty is the introduction of the powerful spells called Imprecations, which are used against monster-angels capable of turning whole cities to dust. Invoking a rain of meteorites, surrounding yourself with a skyscraper-size exoskeleton, creating the Biblical pillar of fire – you name it. The downside is that those spells consume the energy of innocent civilians and bring to life different kinds of lesser angels. So you defeat the big guy, but then you end up having to deal with an infestation of the small ones.
The basic thing about angels: they are attracted to sin. Each and every one of them hunts for a specific kind of sinner. They don’t care about collateral damage and often kill innocents in an attempt to make them martyrs. A very interesting suggestion appeared in Wake: The Second Creed of Pandemonium – their original mission was to hunt demons, but after reaching Earth they realized how much they hated sinful humanity and forgot their original purpose.
Usually, the Zealots face the Seraphim, a rank of angels which includes three different types similar to the demonic ones in Dread. We also get the Ophanim (already mentioned monster-angels), the Rephaim (lesser angels), and my favorites: the Erelim, merciless cyberangels specializing in killing both Zealots and Disciples. Moreover, a set of traditional monsters may be introduced into the setting at the GM’s discretion.
Spite uses the fast and furious Disciple 12 mechanics with some add-ons like aiming, partial cover, area attacks, and extended advancement rules. The two really cool things are War Machines and Osteons. The former are vehicles equipped with extra stuff like a chainsaw or a flamethrower, whereas the latter are magic-imbued weapons containing bits torn from the flesh of a dead angel. Sick and fun, these additions perfectly suit the mood of the game.
Apart from setting information and a lot of GM advice, the Director’s section has a fantastic chapter on clandestine organizations that have had some dealings with angels or demons. Many historical references are included: the war against Japan, South American dictatorships, Iraq. A great source if you want to give your campaign a global spin.
Spite, simply speaking, is Dread on steroids. Twice as large and with a better layout, not to mention the amazing pictures of the antagonists, it is still a game about exactly the same thing done in the very same way. Nevertheless, even though Dread irrevocably holds the title of my favorite game ever, I have to admit that Spite gives you more bang for your buck and so far remains the best one in the Pandemonium series.