Incidents are exactly that: a series of occurrences that comprise the substance of the mission. One-shot missions consist of these four phases. Longer adventures can consist of multiple missions strung together in a sequence. On the whole, I find it to be a clear, intuitive introduction-escalation-resolution-denouement structure for interactive storytelling. It avoids the standard initial infodump and instead holds exposition until after the mechanics, and it makes the lore engaging by relating it to the characters and by presenting it through in-world documents.
During my readthrough, I noted several typos, malaprops, some awkward phrasing, and other linguistic infelicities in the text. Never Going Home provides a nice overview of World War I without delving into the deep nuances and details. It gives just enough information for Narrators and players to feel immersed and orient themselves in the game, and it also points to additional materials that players can reference to for further research. Scattered throughout the book, readers will find documents like telegrams, letters, and journal entries.
This spans daily life in the trenches to their first encounter with the Others to their desertion of duty in favor of preserving their humanity and fighting a greater threat. All of these documents have genuine character, and they successfully translate the more general descriptions and information into concrete events and scenes.
These serve as good illustrations and inspiration for Narrators, whether they adopt the broad strokes or incorporate the smaller details into their games. Supporting documents, antagonist stat blocks, and some illustrations are presented as overlaid sheets, and these use different typefaces to create the impression of being hand- or typewritten.
Paging through the book feels like looking through a dossier or facsimile of historic documents. The margins are also very, very lean, with some text on the inner edges becoming difficult to read. Altogether, the pages tend to feel rather crowded.
This can be interpreted as emulating to the cramped, claustrophobic conditions of the trenches and foxholes or as a nod toward wartime paper scarcity—hence the need to fit as much onto a page as possible—but to me, it seems more like a miscalculation than an intentional choice. Never Going Home opens with a brief overview of its concept and the nature of RPGs before delving directly into combat mechanics, Whispers, character creation, then proceeding to the more lore-heavy sections.
After more detailed guidance for Narrators, it concludes with a set of three prefabbed adventures. The book includes a table of contents, but this tends to be rather broad. There are no discrete or explicit chapter divisions or breaks within the text, and the minimal margins leave no room for running headers. At over pages, all of which are relatively homogeneous—blocks of text against an old-paper ground with mostly monochrome illustrations—the book could have used some supporting apparatuses and more visually distinctive markers to assist navigation.
Instead, the art focuses on the dehumanizing and isolating effects. Throughout the book, different designs are represented, and this variety maintains a consistent visual motif without becoming repetitive or dull. In the absence of facial expressions, stance and posture speak volumes when conveying attitude and affect.
Antagonists like cultists, the disfigured, rot breeders, and others are superficially indistinguishable from human soldiers. Monsters like the trench gremlins are humanoid but with distorted or malformed proportions. The trenchstalker in particular has a humanoid frame, but the similarity ends there; its eyeless, elongated head is all mouth, and this emphasis on a single vaguely human but distinctly predatory feature at the expense of others creates a strong sense of uncanny similarity that is alien and unsettling.
On the other side, human soldiers often carry fetishes and tomes, display runes carved into their sabers and rifles and even flesh , and bear other occult accessories. Some previously human characters like veil priests even sport additional eye lenses on their masks, suggesting the visage beneath has warped and mutated—but leaving room for us to imagine precisely how.
But beyond that, they re-emphasize how easy it is for a human to become a monster when acting as an agent of powers greater than themselves. Despite some material issues, I still really like Never Going Home.
The book has some flaws, but I think it uses a solid middle-weight system, the concept is compelling, and the creative writing and art support it quite well. Liber Ludorum is entirely reader-funded. Please consider lending your support. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email.
Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content World War I was a landmark historical event. Never Going Home. Published by Wet Ink Games. System design by Brandon K. Aten and Matthew Orr. Art by Charles Ferguson-Avery.
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