Whispers in the Dark
Author: Matt Corely
Publisher: Saturday Morning Scenarios
Page Count: 12
Available Formats: PDF
PDF (DTRPG) – $1.99
In late Victorian Era England, naughty children were told stories of a hopping devil that would spirit them away for their misdeeds, pranks, and shenanigans. If they weren’t good little boys and girls, this springing devil would find them, scare them near to death, and if they were especially wicked, take them away.
Spring-Heeled Jack is universally described as a fiend with clawed hands and glowing eyes. The “spring” in his name is derived from his uncanny and preternatural jumping ability. Spring-Heeled Jack is reported to have a wide array of appearances, including varying attire, gender, and mannerisms. One 1838 report even claims he vomited balls of blue-white flame. Historically sightings were limited to 19th century England, albeit with regional variances; it is easy to envision such a character in other urban settings during this period.
With a modest number of reported sightings regarding Spring-Heeled Jack, some from prominent English society members, Jack can easily serve as a unique antagonist in any 19th-century game. This is exactly what the author, Matt Corely, did with this supplement. Presenting Spring-Heeled Jack as a playable antagonist befitting the period.
Spring-Heeled Jack is a 12-page* supplement written for the Whispers in the Dark roleplaying game, a game set in the American Victorian Era. The supplement provides a historical overview of Spring-Heeled Jack’s sightings beginning in the 1830s and into the Victorian Era. This historical overview is a fun, short read, but readers wanting a deeper understanding of Spring-Heeled Jack’s urban legend are advised to do additional research. Furthermore, Spring-Heeled Jack and Jack the Ripper are entirely different legends that should not be confused with one another.
Spring-Heeled Jack is presented in two fully stated versions—Gentleman Jack and Devil Jack. The supplement has three ways to present Jack within Whispers in the Dark stories—anti-hero, prankster, or malevolent villain. The Gentleman Jack is more suited as the anti-hero or the prankster, while the Devil Jack is best suited as the malevolent villain but can easily take on the prankster’s persona. Regardless of how the GM presents Jack, each entry has a scenario hook that showcases this particular version of Jack. Other than the stat blocks, it’s a system-agnostic product, and GMs should little difficulty using the information (or converting the stats) in other game systems.
* Note: although 12 pages in length, only six pages present gaming content. The remaining pages are cover, advertisements, and front and back matter (e.g., credits and OGL).
I enjoy brief supplements like these, especially if they are focused on urban legends. More so, if I can easily adapt the information to a variety of game systems. Spring-Heeled Jack’s stories transcend specific locations and are easily dropped in any other Victorian or Gothic urban setting. The layout and art style is in keeping with the Whispers in the Dark: Quickstart Rules, and the information is adaptable to other games of the same time period. Spring-Heeled Jack hits the mark for me. It is short, concise, and well put together.
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