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Valkyrie Magazine and RPGnet are happy to provide this review.

The Book of Chantries
Mage: the Ascension Supplement
White Wolf
182pp - [sterling]9.99

<Body Text>After buying Mage and being hooked, I eagerly awaited the inevitable supplements that would render the game playable without vast amounts of legwork from me. White Wolf don't disappoint - too much . . .

Chantries are the sanctums where mages pursue their studies and the bases from which they wage the Ascension War. The most interesting Chantries aren't on earth at all, but exist in custom-built Horizon Realms where the creators define the laws of reality so as to work magick without fear of Paradox. Awkwardly, Horizon Realms need to be powered from Nodes on earth and these Nodes are vulnerable to raiders - but then, you can never be completely safe, can you?

A lot of the background material is familiar from Ars Magica: there are four "seasons" in a Chantry's life cycle and communities of human "acolytes" keep the place ticking over.

Ten Chantries are described in detail: seven Tradition Chantries including hoary old Doissetep (graduates of Ars Magica will pore over this intently), a nasty Euthanatos graveyard in the Shade Realm of Entropy, a tribe Native American Dreamspeakers in a Wild West paradise, a lost city controlled by Aztec refugees and a haunted house in Chicago where some groovy Hollow Ones hang out.

The interesting places are the Technomancer "Constructs": MECHA is a prison dimension like something out of Blake's Seven, Null-B is different from how it's described in the Mage rulebook and Moreauvia (ho! ho!) is a jungle world where the Progenitors breed mutant beast-men. This section also gives a lot of information about the ground-level organisation of the Technocracy. These Chantries and the NPCs running them are by far the most interesting in the book: perhaps we ought to be playing a different game called Technomancer: the Angst.

Two unpleasant Nephandi "Labyrinths" are described, one, the House of the Jade Demon, set in Chicago's Chinatown and right out of Fu Manchu.

Every Chantry is listed with its Cabals, Nodes, earthly aspects, research facilities and internal and external politics, concluding with several story ideas. NPC profiles are given for sample mages, all with ridiculously high Arete scores.

A scenario is included but I wish it were otherwise. White Wolf have already demonstrated that they can ignore all their own advice when it comes to published scenarios: here is no exception. The PCs are passive spectators in a linear plot and the Chantry itself is a lousy example of its kind, being a pokey out-of-the-way place with no Horizon Realm or politics to explore.

The book concludes with systems for Chantry design, Nodes (contradicting the Mage rulebook) and new Rotes for making use of Nodes - all very valuable but it should have been in the original rules. There's a shoddy "creation point" system for PC Chantries, but no one has bothered to check the maths, so best ignore it.

All in all, a mixed bag, but, so pivotal are Chantries in most Mage chronicles, this sourcebook ends up being invaluable - until a more comprehensive 2nd Edition rulebook arrives.

Jonathan Rowe

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