Dark Dealings (a kinda review of Esoteric Enterprises, part one)

I recently bought an OSR game called Esoteric Enterprises – Adventures in the Occult Underground. Here I'll write a bit about it, as it it hits several of my sweet spots.

What I have is the Player Book, and a counterpart for the GM is apparently in the cards.
As it is an OSR game, you could certainly use monsters and such from other games with next to no fuss. Unless you are a beginner GM, this book definitely has got you well covered. If you are a neophyte player, the book has a short but quite useful section helping you understand what you are getting yourself into.

The game is placed in the present day, albeit with a thriving occult underground. Charm-peddlers, vagrants, thieves and arcane wide boys mingle with sorcerers and unearthly creatures in the dark places under our cities. The player characters are shady individuals navigating this world for profit and power.

There's a big dark town, it's a place I've found

The character classes are as follows:

The Bodyguard is a class which will often serve as a protector, defending other player characters. It has  a lot of hit points and is more alert than the other classes. I could easily imagine this class as a sorcere’s lieutenant, a survivalist, or a distraught ‘normie’ searching for a lost relative.

The Criminal need not be an actual criminal, but often is. The class provides a lot of non-combat skills, and with the right allocation of these could be a burglar, a hacker, a grifter or a translator of esoteric texts.

The Doctor is a healer, a medic, but also something of a mad scientist. They can act as a field surgeon and life-sver, but it is strongly suggested that the class is attracted to the occult underground out of an interest in performing decidedly unethical experiments at the crossroads of medicine and magic. The rules for these experiments are quite light, and seems to rely on creativity and rulings over rules.

The Explorer is a hobbyist, and urban explorer who has been fascinated with, or roped into the underworld. The class is nimble and stealthy, but lacks the other classes’ basic knowledge of weapons. It is a good class for a fish out of water character, a tenderfoot equally appalled and attracted to this new world of rough wonders.

The Mercenary is a fighter. Here the game takes a page from Lamentations of the Flame Princess by having the Mercenary be the only class whose to-hit bonus increases with levels. The Mercenary is the assassin, the gun for hire, the vigilante, or the mob heavy.

The Mystic is a magic-user class, and its magic comes from a relationship with a higher entity. Examples of these entities are given later in the book, but the text here suggest that the player and GM work out what the Mystic’s patron is like. The Mystic relies on its Charm skill to gain its magic power, and a failure to sweet talk the patron makes the character a target of its wrath/inherent chaotic nature/sense of humor.

The Occultist is the other magic-user class, and is closer to the ‘usual’ OSR wizard. The class has a limited number of spells available each day, but may cast these safely. They may also try for higher level spells (from a grimoire, say) but this risks a backlash.

An occult tome could be part of your starting equipment.

The Spook(s) are a category class. It is meant to form the basis for any uncanny or non-human creature you might want to play, from a fairy maiden to a werewolf, from a deep one hybrid to an ifrit. The player must choose a category for their Spook (like Fair Folk, Undead etc.) which gives some advantages and problems. Then they must pick a starting power. What you get is a member of your species that is just getting into its own. Your vampire or yeti might not have all the powers you expect them to have, but with time (and levels) they will.

Stop taking pictures! I'm new at this!

I have yet to play the game, but this seems to be a good compromise between a ton of ‘monster classes’ and hand-waving this trope of modern horror and urban fantasy.

To be continued...


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