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.

Coming soon: Hercules, the follow-up to Perseus.

You wish…

So, there’s the chance of a second game group and a day of play in the offing for me. After some Wild_Talents-232x300blathering at each other, we’ve seem to come to the conclusion a superhero campaign might be the best received. The GM is looking to do a gritty superhero game. The idea seems to be to shoot for a The Dark Knight Returns sort of flavor.

The system he’s suggesting for the action is Wild Talents — a superhero game by Arc Dream Publishing from back around 2006. It was a follow-on game/setting to Godlike, a “gritty superhero game set in WWII” that prided itself on losing the spandex. Wild Talents had some good talent on it. Wild Talents is being pitched on Arc Dream’s page as leaving the characters more vulnerable physically and motivationally. “All too superhuman” is the catch phrase, which implies a game where the character’s are “appropriately” angsty and “realistic.”

I’m reviewing the ebook, as I don’t have a physical copy. The layout and look is good, but the writing is a bit dry. As to the system, it uses the “One Roll Engine” which is, I suspect, an attempt to speed play and make it easier. It might play that way (haven’t actually played yet…), but it reads as paradoxically complex for a single roll mechanic.

It’s a dice pool game. Collect d10s according a skill or power rating. You look for matches. The highest matched dice is the “height” — how well you succeeded, the number of matches is the “width” or how fast you succeeded (or did damage in combat.) There’s a difficulty scale from 0-10, and the situational modifiers pull or give dice. for simplicity sake, you are limited to rolling no more than 10 dice. Sounds easy…;til you get to dice “types”; there’s a litany of them — regular, hard, and wiggle, penalty and gobble, and you can add expert or fixed or squishy dice… Hard dice do a fixed result, wiggle can be modulated in their effect by the player; penalty and gobble dice are tied to difficulty — losing dice due to a situation, or losing their number of matches if they are beaten in a contest.

It could be an easy set of rules to play, but reading the book, it doesn’t come off that way.

Characters have six stats that can have regular, hard, or wiggle dice. There’s skills. The powers are hyperstats (superhuman stats), hyperskills, or “miracles” (powers.) The dice ratings are linked to examples of how much you could lift, how smart or persuasive you are, etc. Powers have flaws, pretty standard for supers games.

Combat is pretty straightforward, if you find the basic mechanic straightforward. There’s also a ‘damage silhouette’ with a certain amount of boxes of shock or lethal damage you can take.

There’s an alternate history for the campaign at the end that isn’t bad, and allows for a universe in which supers haven’t just shown up.

Overall, the basic idea of the “realistic” superhero game is pretty hard to pull off. If you’re going to add in actual powers, instead of just playing Batman, these assumptions won’t play very well with creatures like Superman or Wolverine. Verisimilitude is going to come more from the universe, than how “messed up” the characters are going to get. The One Roll Engine reads as terribly clunky, but I suspect this could be an artifact of the description of the mechanic in the book — I’ll hold judgment until it’s played.

Substance: The setting is well fleshed out without being too restrictive, and the rules cover the necessaries for playing a superhero game: 4 of 5. Style: the layout is good, the art is darkly atmospheric, in keeping with the style of the setting, but is average “game art” quality. The writing is surprisingly stilted and occasionally confusing for the people they had on the book: 3 out of 5.

Is it worth it? I honestly don’t know yet, but based off reading the game, if you want a “realistic” superhero game where the characters will get mashed up instead of riding through a lot of fighting — almost the antithesis of a supers setting — you could find a system for modern settings that accounted for, or could be adapted for, lower level powers. If you’re looking to do four color or even The Avengers cinematic-style supering, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.

Postscript: When I decided to take a crack at a “realistic” superheroes game, one of the things I also did was to make supers a historical artifact — we bent history to include alternate events with supers involved. Instead of going for the “look how real this is; the characters really get hurt!” angle, I went for more social restrictions. Sure you can knock down a building with your bare hands, but can you afford the lawsuit? Do you have a license to use your heat powers as a welder? does you wife know you were out all night fighting the sexy supervillainess? Shame you didn’t bring allies to back you up that nothing happened! This universe assumed the supers were willing to most act inside the law, but there were hints that most the governments of the world were just blustering and hoping these new gods wouldn’t just run roughshod over everything.

Should be interesting to see someone else’s take on supers.

Something I’m cooking up for the 1950 and 1970s period of our Atomic Robo game:

WHEELMAN

The wheelman is an expert with a vehicle (usually car, truck, boat…) and is often hired to get people in and out of a mission safely. The thought here is to emulate the bootlegger turned racer or getaway driver.

Skills: Contacts, Mechanic, Notice, Vehicles

Improvements: Specialize two trained skills.

Sample Stunts:

Duck in That Alley!: For a Fate Point, use Vehicle instead of Stealth to hide from a pursuer.

Just a Good Ol’ Boy: +2 with Vehicle skill to create an advantage when attempting a fancy stunt.

Peddle to the Metal: +1 to vehicle test when overcoming in a chase.

Rev’ It: Use Vehicle instead of Provoke when in a vehicle.

She’ll Hold Together: The vehicle driven has an Armor: 2.

Snagged from wishforagiraffe on Reddit.

guardfox

With the new year now kicked off and our Battlestar Galactica  game in the final stretch, I’ve been hardening my choices for running a game after the end of Galactica and the main contenders are:

Atomic Robo — It’s Fate, but I like the ability to do a variety of genres under the banner of pulp adventure. The idea is to have a modern team whose adventures spur a flashback period adventure that will ultimately affect what the modern team is doing. I can do ’30s pulp, WWII action in the Captain America vein, 1950s-80s Cold War spy-fi, with some ’70s blacksploitation and ’80s Miami Vice vibe, 1990s computers and rogue states spy-fi, and 2000s terrorism stuff with a science backdrop.

Space: 1889 — Having pretty much given up on seeing the Revelations of Mars book for Hollow Earth Expedition anytime in the near future, I’m looking at this old classic. I haven’t run this setting in over a decade and I kinda miss it. Now the question is if I use the Ubiquity rules from Chronicle City, or Cortex, which the group likes and is used to from Battlestar Galactica.

Playtesting of a certain new version of a certain spy game named for a certain British superspy — I’m looking at getting to playtesting of Double Aught this year. The campaign might revolve around a private intelligence and security agency that gets hired by governments to do the stuff they can afford to get caught doing.

On top of these choice, one of our number is supposed to be running a supernatural horror game.

On to the next adventure!

Tonight was one of those nights where it seems nothing and way too much happened in the game. We continued on from the last session where the fleet had found an old colony world of the Kobolians, Argos. They investigated, retrieved some DNA-based data storage, including the DNA and mind-states of six Lords of Kobol. Their resident lord, Athena, is unsure they should reconstitute them. She doesn’t think that waking thousands of years later to their culture destroyed will make these “gods” each to manage.

But they also have two other big problems: Argos is a habitable world for a tired fleet. The civilians are ready to give it a go on this uninhabited, but habitable world. The civilians want to stop. The second: they have found out the Blaze — Hades — escaped the destruction of Kobol and is regrouping with the remnants of his Cylon followers at a nearby world the humanoid Cylons (Seraph, as they are now known) “recovered” 200 years ago by force. A recon mission shows four basestars, and on the surface, Hades’ commandstar (a super-basestar, if you will.) He is conducting some kind of operation at the ruins of a large city centered on a huge skyscraper. Athena thinks he might have a shard of a Titan (a Ship of Lights) hidden there.

There was a lot of character interaction, including a dream sequence for the Leoben-ish character, who dreams of a great battle under the three faces of Hecate between centurions and Seraph on both sides, and Athena and Hades. In the end, Athena reveals herself to be an angelic creature — wings and all — who burns away Hades (and everyone else.)

A plan of attack is formed. They had established that the Cylons can imprint new memories and consciousness on those Seraph bodies still in storage on the resurrection ship. Also, their recon vessels are not being identified by the Cylons at the Blaze’s rally point; the centurions cannot tell the humanoids apart. Athena is going to implant new Seraph with the memories of her fellow lords, slip into Hades area of operations on the ground, and stop him before he can recover the shard and either become a real threat again, or worse…if it’s from Hecate’s body, possibly attempt to break causality (the only real immutable law of existence) which could go so far as to unmake everything.

Meanwhile, the fleet — Galactica leading Cygnus, their pocket escort, and Basestar 19 — will hit the Cylons in orbit and when the time is right, nuke the grounded commandstar. If they pull this off, they destroy the Blaze forever, and end the Sacred Cycle once and for all.

To do this, they are taking the massive risk of leaving the civilians at Argos, with only a few squadrons of rebel raiders and heavy raiders for protection.

Monday: the denouement of a four year long campaign.

Here’s a site with a nice random name generator for RPGs. Pick the gender and the general nationality and hit generate.

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