“... They say war is hell, but no war is more hellish than those battles that take place between Spectres. No war has even been so vicious, so violent or so absolute as that unfolding between the Malfeans and Grandmother...” (p. 114, “Dark Battles”)
There’s a war brewing, and unfortunately, its about to cross over into the lands of the living. Spectres, once thought to be just engines of Grandmothers army, are actually split into two alliances—those fighting in Grandmother’s army and those in league with the Malfeans, remnants of Wraith: the Oblivion’s legacy. The two sides are trying to out-do each other before Grandmother gets things together and pushes across the Stormwall and feeds on the world.
Like all movie or television endings, Orpheus is trying to go out with a last hurrah and End Game is that attempt. While not a bad book, taken in context of the series story arcs, the book is hampered by the lack of an ending that resolves the world nicely (meaning properly resolved, not an actual nice ending). Though it lacks the Time of Judgment logo, End Game could be easily seen as the Orpheus equivalent to Vampire: the Masquerade’s Gehenna, in that it packs in lots of scenarios, offers some thoughts on endings, but doesn’t offer up a “canon” conclusion.
End Game gives lots of advice to the Storyteller, not surprising as this book is mostly a Storyteller’s reference. It covers ways of keeping the game fresh, how to incorporate new characters, should older one’s perish somehow, new powers and, for the player hanging in this long, a new shade—the Marrow, the shape-shifter ghost. A characters horrors go up to the “fourth-tier” now, but can’t enter play without the characters crossing the Stormwall into the Underworld. The same can be said about the new Vitality Emblems, solid forms of Vitality that can only be generated with entry to the Underwold.
Once the characters crossover, they are embroiled in the events that are devastating the lands of the dead—the Spectre Breed Wars and the battle for control of the Underworld. Basically, it boils down to which flavor or side of evil the characters want to take, or whether or not they’re willing to try to correct Grandmother’s mistake (that being, crossing the Stormwall to devour the living). The Malfeans want the characters to run interference for them to keep Grandmother from knowing their plans (which she does know, because every Spectre is connected to the Hive-Mind). With deals offered by many of the back-biting Malfeans, the characters may end up working for the Malfean goals, but all the Malfeans. The may choose to go hack away at the Spectres until they die (at this point, it seems likely that it’s the characters’ deaths, not the Spectres that seems most probable) or negotiate with Grandmother for a resolution to the whole eating the world thing.
Overall, End Game is a book about endings. Endings for the ghost stories that the series postulated at the beginning. With no “true” ending, Storytellers can pick and choose their endings, or use the book as a guide for their own. Those wishing to complete the metaplot offered by the series should feel inclined to pick the book up, and the Storytellers wanting notes on the new powers that come from crossing the Stormwall should contemplate picking up as well. Those who seek a solid resolution to their chronicles may find this book a bit disjointed at the ending chapters to get a nice ending.