It’s a big day for fans of Malifaux: Through the Breach, as the newest expansion book From Nightmares released on Feb 26th! This book expands upon the lore of the Neverborn, the mysterious and deadly natives of Malifaux, as well as adding in seven new Dasic pursuits, six Advanced pursuits, a new character creation process, and a ton of other goodies. Is this expansion worth it? Find out in my Malifaux From Nightmares Review!
If you’re new to Malifaux: Through the Breach, we have several other posts about the game you can check out to learn about one of our all-time favorite TTRPGs!
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All Trademarks, including Malifaux, places, things and character names and their distinctive likenesses are property of Wyrd Miniatures, LLC.
As a side note, I had the chance to participate in the beta testing of From Nightmares and received playtest credit in the book. While I did receive a free pdf copy of the final version, all opinions and views expressed are of my own, and not of Wyrd.
Through the Breach From Nightmares Review
To give a little bit of reference, Wyrd successfully ran a Kickstarter for Through the Breach back in 2012. The original production plan was for six expansion books, each detailing a different faction within Malifaux. Into the Steam, Under Quarantine, and Into the Bayou came out as intended, while In the Guild Wars became Above the Law. However, my most anticipated title was From Nightmares, an expansion dedicated to exploring the dark denizens of Malifaux, which also included rules for creating Fated Neverborn. At this point, lore for the Neverborn was tantalizingly sparse, even in the miniatures game. It’s not a stretch to say that many players were eagerly waiting for its release.
Time passed and the first four expansions released in yearly intervals. The last book, Above the Law, released in October 2018, though no news surfaced about the next expansion. In 2019, a Facebook poster asked about the possible release of the Neverborn book. We learned that lead designer and writer Mason Crawford left Wyrd, and the possibility of further expansions was minimal. Many dreaded that Through the Breach was no longer supported by Wyrd. Thankfully, this was not the case as Wyrd hired Matt Majarucon to take over the lead design role. Two years later, we finally have the Neverborn backstory to explore!
With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff!
Overview -- Player options
From Nightmares is jam-packed full of grim goodies for both Players and Fatemasters, least of which is the full history of the Neverborn! While I won’t discuss this in-depth to avoid spoilers, I was very satisfied with the details regarding the Tyrant Wars and how the Neverborn became the twisted creatures we all know and love. Better yet, there’s still plenty of mystery to be had, allowing Fatemasters to fill in the blanks with their own details if needed.
The next big feature of From Nightmares is the all-new Bloodline Tarot, which allows players to make a “Twisted” character that represents one of the four main Neverborn types: Woes, Nightmares, Mimics, and Nephilim. Unlike normal Fated, these Twisted characters gain “Gifts of Darkness” both at creation and as general talents to allow for gruesome customization.
Pursuits get quite a bit of love in this expansion, with 7 new options for “human” and Neverborn Fated. These pursuits definitely fit the dark aesthetic of the Neverborn and include highlights such as the Boogeyman, the Harrowed, the Cutthroat, and the Behemoth. One pursuit in particular that was highly requested is the Manifester pursuit, which focuses heavily on the Prestidigitation skill. In addition to the basic pursuits, players get access to new Advanced pursuits as well. Fated may find themselves in pursuit of monsters with the Neverborn Hunter pursuit, or entertain/frighten as a Puppeteer. Fun fact: Evil puppetmaster Collodi was the first master I learned to play in the Malifaux minis game, and I’ll never forgive Wyrd for what they did to him (#JusticeforCollodi). My favorite advanced pursuit though has to be the Supplicant of Autumn, simply because of the unbelievable amount of power that it comes with. Some might argue that it’s overpowered, but lore-wise it is not only hard to get but the power is conditional too, which limits where you can go or fight. I say if the Gamemaster thinks a character earned this advanced pursuit, then go for it! All in all, I look forward to introducing these pursuits to my players very soon.
Overview -- Talents, Magic and Equipment
Each Through the Breach expansion comes with a slew of new Talents, Magic, and other goodies, and From Nightmares is no different. There’s a lot of variety that leans into the Neverborn theme, but the one new addition I want to focus on is the brand new Transmogrification Magia. In past books, magic (or magia) falls under one of the five main magical skills: Counter-Spelling, Enchanting, Necromancy, Sorcery, and Prestidigitation. With Transmogrification, players can cast spells of this new style using different skills based on what origin they have — Neverborn characters use Enchanting while non-Neverborn use Necromancy. This may not seem big, but this opens the door for new kinds of Magia in future expansions that aren’t tied to the main five skills. I’d love to see new magia tied to Ten Thunders lore or even something developed Earthside.
Another fun new addition is the Plants of Malifaux included with equipment. This acts both like a catalog for ingredients as well as natural hazards for players to encounter in the wild. Granted, mostly everything in here is hazardous, at least to non-Neverborn, but there’s quite a bit to enjoy!
Lastly, we have the Bestiary. Unsurprisingly, this section focuses entirely on different Neverborn foes found across Malifaux. While some monsters are repeats from past books (Terror Tots, Young Nephilim), it makes sense to include them alongside their larger (and vastly different) siblings. Fortunately, most of the other Fatemaster characters included in the bestiary are great additions to the roster as a whole. I especially enjoy the new puppet creations, which tie into a feature I’ll discuss in a moment.
It wouldn’t be much of a Malifaux From Nightmares review if I didn’t highlight the parts I liked or had concerns over. Let’s get to it!
Plus Flip: The synergy between the different Gifts of Darkness. Many of the race-specific Gifts seem like they’d make for amazing combos. For example, Nightmares gain access to a talent that allows them to teleport short distances without incurring disengaging strikes. When paired with other Gifts, this turns them into very mobile damage dealers. I’m sure there are some great non-Gift talents that would make these abilities shine!
Minus Flip: Staying with the Gift of Darkness theme — I wasn’t as big a fan of the Nephilim options. Most are variations of physical attributes that, sure, work well, but seem lacking compared to the others. It’s not something that prevents me from enjoying the race, but I’d be happy if the Nephilim received a few more talents in future supplements.
Plus Flip: One new thing that From Nightmares offers is the opportunity to make a new Monster Subordinate, known as the Headliner. These puppets have the opportunity to grow with their own talents, and even become player characters in their own right! Wyrd included special rules to allow players to make these puppet Headliners with their own destinies and pursuit path. I think this is a brilliant new addition to the game!
Minus Flip: This one is less “Dislike” and more “could use some more fine-tuning” — Out of all of the new Pursuits, I feel like the Painkiller has the coolest idea, but doesn’t quite resonate with me in terms of gameplay. The other pursuits feel like they are powerful on their own, and don’t necessarily need talents acquired from other pursuits to make the most of their power. That doesn’t appear to be the case with the Painkiller. Most of the talents revolve around minimalizing wounds and critical effects, but it seems like the Painkiller needs other talents to really shine (or even survive). There’s stuff to love about it, but it just happens to be my least favorite of the new pursuits.
Plus Flip: Despite the lengthier production time and lead designer change on From Nightmares, Wyrd’s design updates for in-book art and type made a huge impact on the visual appeal. Previous books have all had the same mix of sepia tone with aged-appearing graphics. From Nightmares introduces a cleaner feel to the layout, while still adding fun graphic elements to the pages, like the Neverborn “script” on the page margins. The book is a little easier to read and the pages themselves feel less dark overall, which is funny considering the content within.
If From Nightmares is any indication of what’s to come for Malifaux: Through the Breach, then consider me hyped for the next book (Ten Thunders maybe?). I think this expansion is a worthy addition to any Fatemaster’s collection, if even for just the lore alone. There’s lots to enjoy in this book, but don’t forget Malifaux’s mantra:
Bad Things Happen
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