The layout in Calm Before the Storm smoothly fits its Werewolf base. The fonts are kind of wild and scratchy. Wickedly cool totems are watermarked into the pages. The only aspect that confuses me still is what the border is supposed to be. Because of its color, I feel like its supposed to be tree bark; however, the name of the group keeps me thinking that it’s rain falling on glass. Despite this mystery, it proves to have a great bordering effect.
This package’s artwork is a bit strange. On a positive note, the lupine sketches are ferocious and delicious. On the negative side, Bridgette Byrne looks as if she may be a zombie. I’m not sure about the stats on a Zombie Garou, but I’m guessing overkill. For a Werewolf package, I’d like to see two character sketches. One in the human form and one in the Garou form. Face it, these are the two forms players are bound to shift to. The shift does exist as a watermark on the character sheets, which is cool. Also, the four-page character distinction breaks here. Each character gets six pages of attention (the booklet is even a tad bigger at 37 pages).
David Hall’s writing considers all the usual questions these packages tend to raise. His five characters have good reason to be together, but enough hidden luggage to summon great in-game interactions. His play support suggests links to some of the SAS games, particularly Parlor Games. One thing Hall did that I found useful in playing these characters with friends is this: he suggests what kind of player might best benefit from each character. It would be harder, though not impossible, to make these distinctions with strangers at a convention. The difficult part would be Tara as you ask the group who would like to be the manipulator seeking an Alpha position.
[4 of 5 Stars!]