Block By Bloody Block is a supplement for Hunter: the Vigil, and has previously only been available as a PDF-only product. Later it became one of the few titles available (so far) in White Wolf’s DriveThruRPG PoD (print-on-demand) system, so I decided to give it a try. The book is now also available as a “normal” retail store copy, my edition is the PoD one. To cut a medium-length story short: I was quite happy with the process and the end result. I ordered the book via DriveThru as normal, except that I specified that I wanted a print copy, gave them my address, and paid some extra for shipping to Finland (not something you need for PDFs, naturally). The store notified me that it’ll take a while to print the book, after which it would be sent to me. About 2.5 weeks after the order it arrived in my mailbox in fine condition, and the total price including postage was a bit under 13 euros. Not bad. The book was printed by Lightning Source UK, and it’s hard to tell it’s a PoD book unless you take a close look at some details. The printing is crisp and the binding seems sturdy. There’s a small white border at the top and bottom which is a bit uneven and something you’d probably not get in a “normal” print run, but honestly, this is good enough quality and close enough to a normally printed book that it’s fine with me. Especially since the total price ended up being reasonable and below what it would cost in a store.
So there’s that about the new “print on demand” system, what about the book itself? I’m happy to report that it’s good stuff. It’s a “neighborhood building kit” for Hunter, and contains a pile of sample neighborhoods to drop into your game, all suitably generic so that they can be easily modified – though of course they are based on U.S. locations and need a bit more work to move to some other places. Each place contains a general description, a group which controls it (many but not all antagonistic), some mechanical details on what it would take to grab control of the area, and some NPC writeups. The neighborhoods all mesh together and the groups contain references to each other, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts; you could just use this as your game world city, adding some actual place names here and there and doing modifications as needed. Or, of course, you could just grab a few nice ideas and locations from here and insert them into your game. Both work.
In a way, this is a “light” version of the huge Damnation City city-building book for Vampire, which (as far as I know) contains more elaborate mechanics for generating game world cities. This book has simpler mechanics, but does contain a few side bars on how to integrate with Damnation City if needed.
The neighborhoods are generally very interesting, especially so for the NPC motivations, and the writing is excellent – it was a good and entertaining read. I suspect any Hunter game could benefit from some of the ideas here, and many of the places and NPCs here could just as easily be inserted into a generic urban fantasy/horror game. Also, I liked the structure of the book, it was clearly organized and the way the neighborhood information was presented made sense – the graphic diagrams of NPC interactions and opinions were an especially nice touch. Well worth a look, in my opinion.