Product Review:
Dark Matter

From: Brian-Joseph Baker
Date: Saturday November 8th , 2003

At first cursory glance through the Dark Matter setting book for the Alternity system, one would think that they were dierctly ripping off their material from Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green, but upon further reading, that isnt exactly the case.

Dark Matter uses popular conspiracy fiction from sources such as "The X-Files", "Men in Black", "Millenium", etc,.., and combines it all together into one definitive setting based around the concepts of Global Conspiracies, Alien Invasions, Ancient Arcane Magics, and quite a few other topics into one book that is fairly easy to reference.

Now many of you are probably asking yourselves why should I buy this book when I can get the same type of material from Call of Cthulhu scenerios and the Delta Green source books ? Well, to put it simply, its not all the same material, TSR/WotC, when they put out this book definitely created a setting that was could stand on its own.

The drawbacks of the setting is that all of the stats for it are based off of the clunky Alternity system that was the precursor to the D20 System that everyone loves to hate.

Can this material be ported over to BRP? I would say without a doubt in my mind yes. What it comes down to is how much time and effort you as a Keeper would like to put into the creation of your campaign world. Using Dark Matter as your base, while working in the Cthulhu Mythos elements turns this truly dark setting into something that could blast the Sanity from any group of Investigators.

The folks at TSR/WotC definitely did their homework on the source material for this book.

As of recently, I'd hazard a guess to say within the last 3 months, WotC put out a book that has revised Dark Matter setting material for their D20 Modern Setting and System. Using the D20 Cthulhu rules and D20 Modern Menace (the book I just mentioned), a Keeper is ltiterally ready to go and start a Cthulhu campaign that has the ability to blow the minds of his or her players.

Is there a way to convert the D20 Modern Menace/Dark Matter material over to BRP ? Yes, but I know I'm going to hear some groans over this one, you would need to purchase a copy of the D20 Cthulhu rules,as that core book as a conversion system set up in the back of the book to convert BRP characters over to D20 Cthulhu. But with some clever backwards engineering, a creative Keeper can easily convert this material over.

Style and Graphically, this book is beautiful. It has a hard cover with some of the best artwork I have see in a long time for this genre of RPG. The interior of the book is full color, and just as the cover work, the art in the book gives off a definite creepy evil world conspiracy vibe that just makes your skin craw after looking it it. After reading the book, one begins to wonder where the line of fiction and reality have become blurred and which is real and which is fiction.

The sad part of it is that Dark Matter, the book that this review is for, has been out of print for at least 3 1/2 years. But if you are just looking for the source material, the you can find it in the D20 Modern Menace book that was just released. It is still possible to find copies of Dark Matter in used book stores and especially on Ebay and Amazon. But I will warn you, you will be paying a pretty penny for the copies that you will be finding on Auction through Ebay, because the Sellers know exactly how much this book is worth to a GameMaster, and they mark up the starting prices accordingly.

Is it worth it? In the opinion of this Keeper and Review, I say most definitely.

I give this book 4 ()out of 5 Scarabs. 4 simply because it doesn't have BRP rule, otherwise it would have a 5 Scarabs rating.