Cawnpore and Perseus are available in the Createspace eStore and on Amazon.com where, if you order a physical copy of the books, you get the ebook for free. They are also available as ebooks on every ereader out there.

Phantom Badger Light Assault Vehicle

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The US Navy needed a small, light combat vehicle for reconnaissance, rescue, or combat situations that could be dropped from the V-22 OSprey. What they got was the Phantom Badger by Boeing. It crams a 240hp multi-fuel motor and five personnel into a jeep-like chassis that is just 60 inches wide, barely 13 feet long and has a range of roughly 300 miles.

The Phantom Badger has four wheel drive and steering, allowing for incredibly tight turning radiuses, and can ford up to three foot deep waters, hit 80mph on a paved road, and has interchangeable parts with most other US military vehicles, as well as a modular rear deck that can be reconfigured with a simple wench set.

The craft can either use a .50 caliber M2A1 machinegun on the rollbar behind the driver’s compartment; and two M249 5.56mm SAW for the two rear-facing seats; or it can carry up to six litters for wounded. One can be carried in a V-22, two in a Chinook helicopter or C-130, and ten can fit in a C-17 transport.

PM: +1   RED: 4   CRUS: 50   MAX: 80   RNG: 300   FCE: 2   STR: 5   COST: n/a

GM Information: The Phantom Badger receives a +1EF for off-road conditions. In a roll-over crash, the passengers receive the same damage as the craft, rather than one WL lower.

Do you want a certain font from your computer on your iPad? Hit the App Store and search for Any Font. It’s a $1.99 app (last time i checked) that allows you to do just that. You can do a sync through iTune with it, but I tried loading a few .tff files into a folder on Dropbox, then opened them on the iPad. Dropbox, of course, can’t view them, but you “Open with…”, then choose AnyFont. The fonts appear in that app, you check them, hit install, and the app will bounce you through Safari to the Settings, where you will get a dialogue that looks a lot like the updater (probably is.) Install. Open up your Pages, or what have you and there’s your new font.

Is it worth $2? Do you need certain fonts to work with between your desktop, laptop, or what have you? Then yes. Otherwise…well, I’m gonna say “yes”, but I absolutely needed/wanted Bank Gothic on the iPad.

A few months back I did a review of the initial “beta” release of the new Firefly role playing game by Margaret Weiss Productions. The physical book is yet to arrive, but the .pdf went on sale a few days ago. I’ve gotten a copy of the game and just finished perusing it. So…review time!

The electronic book is 367 pages (including two for the covers) and is $19.99  on DriveThruRPG.com . As I expect from MWP, the art direction, layout, and overall look of the book is superb: full-color with a nice sepia-toned page color that evokes old paper, yet has tabs that give it a more modern flavor. The font will be great in print, but the serif is a bit difficult to read on the iPad’s screen (non-Retina) for my LASIK-modified, slightly farsighted eyes. Most of the art is either screencaps from Firefly episodes, or photos of models in appropriate clothing, etc. The text box sidebars occasionally get a bit busy. The weakest link in the art direction is with the character archetype pages, where the standard quality of RPG artwork reigns. It’s not terrible, but when compared to the original photo material, it stands out as anachronistic.

There is an excellent episode guide to the series that acts as a framework for presenting NPCs (or GMCs, as the game refers to them), spacecraft, and other episode-specific items. There’s an almanac to the ‘Verse that utilizes what looks to be the Quantum Mechanix Map of the Verse.

The rules set is very similar to the excellent Marvel Heroic Roleplaying that the jerks at Marvel pulled the plug on — in other words, a fusion of FATE and Cortex. For those who have played FATE, it will be mostly familiar, except for the use of standard polyhedral dice (d4-d12, no d20) rather than Fate Dice. The characters have three attributes: Mental, Physical, and Social, they have distinctions similar to the aspects of Fate, and skills from d4 (untrained) to d12. You put together a dice pool of applicable attributes, distinctions, and skills (plus other dice with use of distinctions and plot points, etc.) Ships or other vehicles of significance also have similar stats and are built almost the same way.

The mechanic is player dice pool vs. a game master dice pool that is either based on the same elements for the GMCs, or on a scene difficulty (d4 to d12) and any scene distinctions, assets, or complications. The GM decides what the stakes are in a test, or in combat a defender chooses the outcome. It’s easy enough to get a hold on the basics, but some of my players have found the ability to basically do whatever you can explain/pay for with plot points adds “too many moving parts” and makes it difficult to track what is going on.  While I don’t find it that complicated, I can see where — especially for new players and GMs — the looseness of the rules might be confusing. As with MHR, Firefly might benefit from GMs ignoring a lot of what you can do with plot points and “Big Damn Hero” dice, etc…

The appendix has a Chinese glossary to help players achieve the appropriate feel of the ‘Verse, as well as a master distinctions list to help build a character. There’s a schematic of Serenity (which looks to be based on the Quantum Mechanix material, as well), with close ups of her control console and engine, as well as the Maps of the ‘Verse. Lastly, there are interactive character and ship ships you can modify and save. (There are also free sheets on Drive Thru.)

Substance: 5 out of 5 — the book covers the series very well, has a complete rules set that doesn’t require any splatbooks (though I’m sure they’re coming…) Style: 4 out of 5 — the writing has the folksy tone of the show, and this might bother some (but I doubt it will the target demographic), the page design is mostly great but can be a bit busy here and there, and the character archetype and example artwork is sub-par compared to the rest of the book, otherwise it would be a 5 out of 5.

So…is it worth $19.99? If you are going to buy the book, no; go through MWP and order up the physical book/pdf combo. If you just want the e-book, yes — it’s worth it.

At some point in the near future, I’m hoping to do an alpha/beta test and run the same one-shot using this rule set, then the original Cortex rules from Serenity, then give a better comparison review.

 

Looks like the .pdf version of Firefly has dropped, which means the physical copies of the book should be getting printed soon. That puts it on target for the early June date that Amazon is showing.

Here are a few special-operations weapons for your James bond:007 RPG campaign…

HECKLER & KOCH P11 Underwater Pistol

p11Developed in the 1970s, the P11 is a bulky weapon for use by combat divers. It uses five battery-ignited sold rocket propelled 7.62x100mm darts, each in their own barrel. The weapon cannot be reloaded by the operator, but must be returned to H&K. The range of the weapon varies according to the depth of the operator, and is only good for 100 feet or so in air.

PM: 0   S/R: 1   AMMO: 5   DC: G   CLOS: 0-1   LONG: 6-10   CON: +1   JAM: 98+   DRAW: -1   RL: n/a

GM Information: The P11 has a PM: -2 and ranges of CLOS: 0-2 and LONG: 4-10 in the atmosphere. For every 20′ depth after the first, the LONG: range decreases by one. Once the lower rating of long range is equal to close, all shots are long range.

On the Russian side of the fence:

SPP-1 Underwater Pistol

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Made by TOZ (Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod) in 1971, the SPP-1 fires 4.5x40mmR steel darts each in one of the four barrels of the pistol. Unlike the P11, the SPP-1 has a break-open action allowing the operator to reload the weapon. The barrels are smooth-bored and use hydrostatic effects to stabilize the round; in the air, the weapon is highly inaccurate.

PM: 0   S/R: 2   AMMO: 4   DC: F   CLOS: 0-1   LONG: 4-8   CON: +1   JAM: 94+ (98+ for M version)   DRAW: -1   RL: 4

GM Information: The SPP-1 has a PM: -2 and ranges of CLOS: 0-1 and LONG: 4-6 in the atmosphere. For every 20′ depth after the first, the LONG: range decreases by one. Once the lower rating of long range is equal to close, all shots are long range.

APS 5.66×39mm MPS Underwater Assault Rifle

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The APS was specially designed for Russian combat divers and uses a proprietary 5.66mm round that fires a steel dart from a specialized rifle casing. The gun is a smoothbore and uses hydrodynamics to stabilize the round. Out of the water, it is inaccurate, short-ranged, and without the buffering effect of water in the action, sees a dramatic rise in wear from use.

PM: 0   S/R: 2/6   AMMO: 26   DC: H/J   CLOS: 0-2   LONG: 6-10   CON: n/a   JAM: 93+  DRAW: -3   RL: 2

GM Information: The APS has a PM: -1 and ranges of CLOS: 0-1 and LONG: 6-15 in the atmosphere. For every 20′ depth after the first, the LONG: range decreases by one. Once the lower rating of long range is equal to 2, all shots are long range. Used in air, the APS has a JAM of 90+, but the action is rendered useless on a jam and cannot be repaired in the field.

And the newest entry by the Russian military is the:

ADS 5.45mm Amphibious Rifle

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Designed to overcome the inherent issues of an underwater weapon, the ADS was designed to be used in water or in the air, using a standard AK-74 magazine for 5.4rx39mm ammunition. Spetnatz and combat divers need to carry two different types of ammunition (the 5.45x39mm PSP for underwater, and any of the standard 5.45mm on land) to use the weapon, but the action does not suffer damage as the old APS did, and the effectiveness of the weapon is retained on land.

PM: 0   S/R: 2/10   AMMO: 30   CLOS: 0-20   LONG: 40-90   CON: n/a   JAM: 98+   DRAW: -3   RL: 2

GM Information: the range of the ADS is CLOS: 0-4 and LONG: 7-14 in the water, with -1 to the LONG range for every 30′ below the first. When the lower number of the LONG range reaches 4, all shots are long range.

For the VOG-25 40mm grenades used in the launcher:

PM: 0   S/R: 1/2   AMMO: 1   DC: J (area)   CLOS: 0-30   LONG: 40-120   CON: n/a   JAM: 99   DRAW: -3   RL: 1

James Kerwin brings us an updated look at Čapek’s fictional world:

Yes, the game is defunct. I still like it. And one thing i noticed wasn’t present in the otherwise excellent modeling of the comic book style is knockback in fights or throwing things. Anyone familiar with Fate will now tell you the answer (as I’m about to…otherwise, I would be writing this): it’s a Complication. You want to have the Hulk run into a bad guy and knock him through a building? The Complication is “distance” and the you probably need to throw a plot point and add another effect die for damage to the building to put the target baddie through it.

Similarly, if Captain America wanted to toss a Hydra bad guy over a railing into the water below, it’s a Complication — say, Out of the Fight d6. To get rid of the distance complication, they would have to do some kind of run/climb/fly/movement action with the effect die knocking down the complication.

There you go — now start knocking the bad guys around!

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