Awakened is the first commercial release for Three Fourteen Games. Originally written in Spanish by Enrique Camino, the scenario is a non-setting-specific one set in modern times, but adaptable to the Twenties as well.
We begin Awakened with the author informing us that it is based on “an unusual premise.” Sadly, the next sentence informs us that the premise is that all the characters wake up in a strange location with no memory of how they got there, which is more of a convention of the genre. The location, in this case, is an isolated hotel in Texas, which is lovingly described and illustrated. The three characters – the author suggests the pre-gens be used, as do I – should make a grisly discovery shortly after their arrival, leading them to seek out what happened during their short-term memory loss.
For the most part, the characters will only be interacting with each other, which brings motivation of these characters to the fore. Frankly, the reasons behind the characters’ actions during their blackout seem contrived – you’d never look at their descriptions given and conclude, “Oh, yes, they’re capable of doing this.” We do get an interesting sub-plot that might lead to some tension, but it’s never explained why these people who crossed paths for that incident would come together again years later. The players will likely leave wondering what happened, and the GM won’t have a better idea either.
I like the way the hotel itself is fleshed out, though perhaps it has erred on the side of too much information. As such, if your group is one to obsess over small details, you might want to clean up some of this or try a different scenario. Nonetheless, it’s quite an impressive amount of work to put into a single setting.
I should also add that the entire work, from the maps to the photographs to the handouts, is visually stunning. The editors have reached the logical conclusion that, since they don’t need to worry about the costs of print production, that they can just go to town on this. I’d suggest that others thinking about PDF releases that aren’t part of a line requiring consistency take a look at this one, to show that a PDF doesn’t need to be black text on a white background with muddy grey illustrations.
This is a product that displays high production values and that shows the signs of careful design, but yet, I’m hesitant to recommend it. I hope the publishers’ next release will overcome some of these difficulties, as it’s clear everyone involved was quite talented and passionate.