Nephilim (role-playing game)
Front cover of the Nephilim rulebook
|Publication date||1992 1st ed (French)
1994 1st ed (English)
|Genre(s)||Occult, Modern, Historical|
Nephilim is a role-playing game about powerful elemental entities reincarnating into human beings. The players take the roles of these beings as they adapt to their newly symbiotic existence and learn the secrets hidden behind veils of obscurity and mysticism, seeking the path toward enlightenment, Agartha. The game contains much symbolism, primarily related to the Hermetic tradition.
The game was originally published in 1992 by the French company Multisim. The first edition used the Chaosium "Basic Role Playing" principles, and in 1994 was translated into English by Chaosium as well, with some additional research and writings by Kenneth Hite.
Since then, Nephilim had three other editions (all three in French, from Multisim/Mnémos) - the second edition was still akin to the BRP system while the third edition, Nephilim : La Révélation (The Revelation) uses a radically different, descriptor-based, system. It also introduces Ar-Kaïm and intuitive magic in the style of Mage: The Ascension (although based on elements and words instead of spheres). The fourth edition has its own unique system as well, using a scale ranging from 1 to 25 and difficulty multipliers to obtain percentages. Its core book as for the first two editions is centered on Nephilim.
Nephilim is a game based on the idea that since ancient times there have been spirits without bodies who, given the right circumstances can take over the body of a human and use it until it dies, then try to find another body. These spirits are the Nephilim.
Players get to choose one of five types of Nephilim. Within each of these types are different species of Nephilim. Each type of element or "Ka" has different strong points. Fire Nephilim (Pyrim) tend to be aggressive, Earth Nephilim (Faërim) are caretakers and healers, Air Nephilim (Éolim) are intellectuals, Water Nephilim (Hydrim) relate to change and movement and Moon Nephilim (Onirim) are secretive and manipulative. They are also defined by the major Arcana they choose to follow.
The spirit of the Nephilim takes over the body of a human and tries to gain the skills and knowledge the human has, while avoiding the Immortals' enemies. The Nephilim's ultimate goal is to attain Agharta, a form of spiritual illumination. Other races have a similar goal.
Nephilim can be set in any times from ancient Egypt to present day or the future.
Besides the Nephilim (elementals of Fire, Earth, Air, Water and Moon), the players can play Selenim ("Vampires" of the Dark Moon, an element created by an ancient race that is unstable and corrupts Nephilim) or Ar-Kaïm (Astrological unstable mutants, introduced in the Third Edition).
Several human secret organizations know of the existence of the Nephilim. Most of these organizations oppose or hunt the Nephilim, but some are sympathetic to their cause. The Templars is one of the primary sources of antagonists for Nephilim, who along with the Rosicrucians supply the most organized opposition. The Order of the Black Star possess many magical secrets, but are fewer in numbers and less likely to team up against Nephilim.
Nephilim uses the Basic Role-Playing system used in many other Chaosium products, such as Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon and RuneQuest. It is expanded to suit the setting, amongst other things each nephilim has a set of elemental attributes influencing the body in which it resides.
Chaosium published the following books in its version of Nephilim RPG, until its discontinuation:
- Nephilim : Occult Roleplaying : Core Rule Book;
- Chronicle of the Awakenings : contains more Incarnation Eras and Gamemaster resources;
- Secret Societies : has information on human occult organizations and how they interact with Nephilim;
- Major Arcana : very detailed information about the Arcana, the Nephilim Organizations and many campaign ideas.
- Gamemaster's Companion : optional rules and resources;
- Serpent Moon : a series of four adventures that can be made into a campaign;
- Liber Ka : alternative rules for magic, of the western ceremonial type (subtler effects, no Hollywood flash-bang magic).
In addition, Chaosium published a Gamemaster's Veil and Character Dossiers.
Some of the books published for Nephilim's Third Edition (by MultiSim in French) include:
- Nephilim : La Révélation : Core Rule Book;
- Arcanes mineurs : has information on human occult organizations and how they interact with Nephilim;
- Guide du maître de jeu : optional rules and resources;
- "Nephilim: Initiation" by UbIK: a quick start version of "Nephilim: La Revelation" done in 80 pages, copyrighted 2004