This book basically comes in two parts: the first part deals with the mechanics of creating and running alternate dimensions in your game and the second part provides some twelve exemplar dimensions ready for use. The Introduction explains all this and more, and notes that this is one of the harder parts of the game for the Referee to get across, seeing as the players have no experience of such a thing... a little odd as we do not have experience of quite a lot of stuff that's already cropped up in Dark Conspiracy!
First up, The Meta-verse gets quite meta-physical about the whole concept, claiming that any Referee wanting to use other dimensions needs to understand this... as it happens, although I find it fascinating to read, I disagree: one of my most successful Dark Conspiracy games involved the characters travelling to an alternate dimension and trying to find their way back, all without any concept in my head or theirs about how it 'worked' - it just did! They got there because they were standing beside a nuclear bomb that went off (triggering a full five minutes of "We're all dead" before I could get their attention) which just happened to be sitting on an undefined 'dimension portal' that went "Ahhh, energy" and diverted the explosion to power itself. The place they landed in was one where magic worked, and after a fair few entertaining adventures) a powerful mage got them back home (and came along, to everyone's amusement). But here the dimension was a plot device, nobody needed to understand it. This theoretical discussion, however, provides a lot of underpinning background that enables a measure of logic, so those players who want to figure out how they work have something to discover. It also allows for an impressive array of different types of alternate dimension without losing consistency.
There's all manner of stuff about visitors to a dimension becoming 'assimilated' into its physical laws, and then we move on to Interstices: The Interdimensional Spaces. These gaps in the fabric of the meta-verse are quite scary, there's nothing there at all. Yet people can go there, although few do on purpose, and visitors risk insanity. Throughout, examples and apposite rules are provided... even for those who want to fight whilst in different dimensions. We find out about Interdimensional Travel and how it works - and how to administer it from a game mechanical standpoint. There are basically two ways to travel between dimensions: using the Dimension Walk skill or using an interdimensional device, and both are explained at length with all the rules you need to run them. Apparently to close a device you need a 'dampening metal' to seal it, which produces images of something wet to my mind... I usually dampen somthing by pouring water on it. Background and history of dimensional travel is also covered, so we find out when assorted Dark Minions first found out about it themselves.
Once your head has stopped reeling from all the theory, interesting though it is, there's a section on Using Protodimensions in a Campaign. There's a lot of good advice here about making them integral to your plotline, not merely a nice bit of windowdressing to say "Hey, here's something really weird". Things like ensuring your Bad Guys have good reason for being there or using them, things like determining locations where you can travel from, or deciding that with the proper skill or device you can go from wherever you happen to be. There's a brief note on designing them, then we're off on the survey of the sample ones. Many are really quite strange, not just a different place that isn't on Earth, but places where physical laws work differently and it's going to get very comfusing real quick! They're quite fun and may give you ideas for adventure.
As a book of two parts, the first bit - the nuts and bolts of how to make alternate dimensions work in your game - is excellent. The sample ones are all a bit weird, and it depends what you are looking for in your dimensions. In the game I referred to earlier, there wasn't much odd about where the party ended up. It was based on the world of Conan the Barbarian, low-tech swords and sandals and the odd powerful mage, one of whom they managed to befriend in order to get home... but until then it was an 'aternate world' where things like gravity and even their firearms and laptops worked (until they ran out of bullets and the batteries went flat). That worked for us, but if you want something really odd to send your party to, there are some strange ones here.
Return to Proto-Dimensions Sourcebook page.
Reviewed: 23 October 2017