“... Whereas the previous books focused upon interpersonal dynamics, outside antagonists or locations as conflict instigators, here it is entirely dependent on the situations the characters may find themselves in or their encounters while trying to survive and fight back...” (p. 95, “Vignettes of Horror”)
The Orphan-Grinders is the fifth book in the Orpheus series of game books. This book begins the ending of the game line as the hinted at secrets are pushed to the fore. There’s a hungry spirit across the Shroud, and its name is Grandmother.
Grandma, it seems, is the reason behind the whole Spectre invasion and the thing with Bishop (as he believed that he was going to do an end-run around her and become a god, too bad he failed). Every hive of Spectres that can be found is part of her flesh and her plan to force her way into the physical realm. The number of Spectres outnumbers those in the crucible (possibly the whole world), so what hope is there.
Despite this book’s enumeration of the species of Spectres found currently in the World of Darkness, and the minor new Horrors each has, even counting the fact that the Spectre Hivemind keeps close enough tabs on the characters that each encounter with a group of Spectres better understands the crucible’s tactics, there’s hope. One hyphenated title: Orphan-Grinders.
Yes, its also the book’s title, but Orphan-Grinders are more than just a new Shade, these are reformed Spectres (nice, huh?). And Spectres that came back from the clutches of both overriding Spite and over-controlling Grandmother. Now that’s hope. Because anything that come back from the love-hate relationship-bond of the Hivemind can’t be all bad. Their just powerful and capable fighters of Spectres on their own.
These new fighters in the hereafter’s last war (okay, that’s my view of it) are inclined to be dark and slightly inhuman (after all, they come from the wrong side of the conflict, having lost their humanity once already to boot). They have Spite inclined powers and Horrors that come from their connection to the Spectres and Grandmother.
Orphan-Grinders also covers what is happening in the current now of the metaplot. As Grandmother pushes her way into the world, things happen. Government agencies come out of the shadows to reveal their Spectre fighting arsenal, the new shade comes about as Spectres are redeemed, and the crucible gets help from an odd source—a Spectre itself.
It seems there is more in store for the final Orpheus as a war is also raging beyond the Shroud, one that Grandmother is poised to win, but the character’s are primed to spoil.
Overall, Orphan-Grinders is a nice, fast-pace tale-of-destruction-as-its-happening book. The writing covers the new Shade, its Horrors, and the Spectre ranks it came from in some detail, as well as covers the redemption of those lost to the Hivemind. This book begins to close several doors of the Orpheus world, even after having destroyed much of it to start with. Storytellers wishing for a more normative conclusion to their chronicles may wish to completely review this book, as it might just change the very nature that the story ends, as the ending looms in the Underworld.