Book of Bone and Ebony

"If you're looking for a superb resource for Abyssals, I would definitely advise getting The Book of Bone and Ebony. But, there were a few low points and disappointments found..."

Reviewed by Bri Anderson

I got this book a while back and had been waiting for it. I had a mix of anticipation and worry. I hoped that the book would be full of interesting and thought provoking. I feared that it wasn't going to be as good as I wanted.

Overall, it was good. The fact that struck me is that while Exalted: The Abyssals had alot of nods to Wraith, this book had quite a bit less that was a homage {or more} to the game. As such, I'm going to be comparing the material, and noting any sections that might have material that could be used for a Wraith game {with modifications}.



Honestly, there's nothing here that is surprising for an Exalted supplement. Mentions what each chapter is, and that this is a supplement meant to work with Exalted: The Abyssals. One note of mention in this section is the fact that some parts of the book assume you have Savant and Sorcerer. While the book is not required, the artifacts and some parts of the necromancy section use terms or systems for technical purposes.



This section is fantastic, there's no other way to describe it. It's short, but describes Stygia: its history, it's structure, figures and society, but the real part of interest is the metaphysics. The whole nature of Stygia is one of magic and purpose.

I have to say that while not everything was of use to Wraith, the metaphysics really added quite a bit of flavor. I'll admit, I've never really been able to get into sourcebooks based on locations, but this treatment drew me in and I wanted to read more. It was rife with fodder for building on, especially the ways that ghostly needs alter the regular actions of a city. An excellent chapter by my viewpoint.

I think that the figures and areas of Stygia could be easily fit into Wraith, with a few exceptions. The Order of the Dual Monarch was something that just makes sense in Wraith or Exalted. The districts are the sorts of things that really provide a sense of both the fantastic and yet a sort of creepy dusty world.


The Arts of the Dead

This section really about doubles the different Arcanoi that ghosts are capable of learning. They have been divided into "Common" arts and families of "Uncommon" arts.

The common arts have a good number of effective and useful Arcanoi that will make a ghost characters even more viable than before. When combined with some of the uncommon arts, a wide spectrum of Arcanoi purposes is achieved. There's everything from war charms to charms for merchants and even charms dedicated to the law and order of the Underworld.

One minor problem I found was with Evoke the Ancient Clay - Arcanoi dedicated to slowly learning to enter Creation materially. While alot of the different charms were interesting, they seemed to be based on something of a fallacy. The description of the family of Arcanoi mentions "Materialize", except that charm is not one of the Arcanoi. The current Arcanoi set down in Exalted: The Abyssals are very different than Materialize. This really makes some of the basis for these charms off.

As to Wraith, most of these Arcanoi effects are just drawn from Wraith. There are a few in the common arts that are new, but some of those are probably more suitable to Exalted than Wraith. But, there was a very specific uncommon Arcanoi - Shadow Constraint Craft - that was wonderful. It deals with the laws, taboos, and the breakers of these in the Underworld. While I won't go into it too deeply, I do think it's fantastic and able to be converted.


The Wonders of the Dead

This section is dedicated to the artifacts of the Underworld. Most of them are new and serve a number of different purposes. There are a few that I might question the power of, but in general they are good and provide a nice range of abilities.

One minor problem I had with this section was a lack of explanation. While it can be assumed that all of the artifacts are designed to only work in Shadowlands and the Underworld, there was at least one that meant for Creation also. There were others that seemed as if they could work in both Creation and the Underworld. Still, I was happier with this section than I was disappointed.

Most of these are easily able to be moved to Wraith without any problem. Even the artifact rating for most won't have to be altered. With a few exceptions, many of which are weapons, the themes of Wraith and world fit with the artifacts. The biggest problem would be modifying certain Essence mentions and expenditures.


Creations of Bone

While I expected mostly war machines, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this chapter filled in alot of questions and empty spots in other areas of the Deathlord's armies.

First, zombies are dealt with. This includes methods of using, production, "healing" and integration with mortal soldiers. Part of this was also additions to Soul Brand and an improved version. Next were the tactics and some new additions to ghosts.

Nemessaries are also here, with a few new Arcanoi, but that's not the most important addition. That would be the new inclusion of specially-made bodies that can be custom-made to fit different circumstances. There were also a few artifacts and items designed to aid Nemessaries, including a set of necromantic "living" armor that can greatly aid them or mortal warriors. Most importantly, there were a number of ways of preventing or reversing rot.

Next was the section dealing with the creation of war machines. This included a number of tactics, ways of repair, and expanded rules on their creation. This includes two improved versions of Walking War Machine, statistics of undead made using them, and an entirely new spell that allows for more deadly sorts of weapons using the power of Oblivion in ways beyond simple increased physical prowess. Also, this includes additions that can be added while making the war machine.

Then the different machines. Most include the difficulty to produce them. Overall, I was pleased, though not all of the war machines were as inventive as I could have hoped. Still, even those weren't that lacking, and some were quite novel.

This section is probably the one that is least useful for Wraith. There was almost nothing that would really help for it. Nemmesary bodies might, except it's not really that fitting for the game. There were two flying machines that might work, and one was actually unique. It was the only one that was produced using the corpus of ghosts Moliated together. While horrific, it was similar to some other Wraith war devices mentioned.



This section had a few mentions of mortal ways of dealing with the undead. Then it gets right into the actual spells. One thing I noticed was that there were a number of spells dealing with affecting ghosts and quite a number others that are designed to use or work with the undead. Part of this is the number that count as counterspells and are similarly fast acting.

The part that was surprising is the number of spells that are effective in Creation and on the living. While most of the spells still are most effective on the dead, they are still able to work on the living. Also, multiple spells dedicated to the manipulation of Shadowlands, creation of them {or pseudo-Shadowlands}, and to travel between Creation and the Underworld. Quite a few of the spells create items for the use of the Necromancer through the subjugation or destruction of ghosts.

Alot of extra space was conserved by putting similar spells under a single entry. The most surprising part is the few spells designed to kill the living by harnessing energy of death. Some people will find this disappointing and not keeping with some of the description provided in Exalted: The Abyssals. One thing that definitely struck me was that some spells seemed slightly unbalanced, and others were less than useful, especially given the cost. Alot of the shadowlands spells, and a bit less of the labyrinth were excellent, but alot less of the void circle was so good.

This chapter has really nothing of any real use for Wraith.


Creatures of the Underworld

The number and types of Plasmics are superb. While a few were boring, there were a number that were interesting. Each is divided according to the place they are found and how powerful they are. And with the end of the book, there is a short description of multiple scenarios dealing with him and Juggernaut.

This is another section full of information and tools for the Wraith ST to use. While a number of them will need to be altered slightly to fit the power of Wraith, the amount of fresh material was pleasantly surprising to me.



If you're looking for a superb resource for Abyssals, I would definitely advise getting The Book of Bone and Ebony. But, there were a few low points and disappointments found. It seems like some of the subsections may have been poorly planned or not researched enough when producing them. This was a bit of a detraction from it, and while I did enjoy the book and find it extremely useful, I have to admit these flaws.

So, conservatively I'm giving it a 3.5 skulls out of 5.

Reviews on the Wraith Project are the opinions of those reviewers, and are not necessarily those of the Wraith Project themselves. If you disagree with this review, send in another one. If you still feel like strangling the reviewer, see an analyst.