While I was part of the initial playtesting, I hadn’t read the finished product until I had a little time on planes while running around the country on ‘vacation’ (seeing family.) Evil Hat has the print version in the final works, but the pdf is available through their preorder or Drive Thru. Behold! The dramatic reveal!

Robo-Cover-600px

The system is Fate, tweaked a bit for the universe of Atomic Robo, but the basic mechanics are unchanged. Character creation is fast and “no-math” — the player choses the usual concept descriptor, a couple of their modes (ex. Action, Science, Intrigue) and their skills lump under those. Those odes with the same skills stack, so a character with, say, a vehicles skill in three modes would place it under the highest mode with the +4, then add two more for the synergy with the other modes. It’s easier than it is to describe.

You can have a character slapped together in minutes and be playing, and the rules allow for tweaking your character on the fly, and whenever you hit a particular milestone connected to the adventure or character.

The main additions to the rules are in the area of “brainstorming” science ideas, in which the players get to use their skills to try and figure out a science conundrum, then the one with the best quasi-applicable idea gets to define how the bad guy or mcGuffin for the adventure works (“The giant ants were obviously created by radiation!”) As for the rest of the mechanics, it’s Fate. It you aren’t familiar with the mechanics, you can find them for free on the interwebz. Have a look, if your puny mammaliam brains can conceive it!

On to the book itself — it’s very well laid out, easy to read, and captures the flavor of Atomic Robo and the related Real Science Adventures comics very well. Explanation blurbs with pics of characters from the series help you understand the mechanics, or just amuse you. They have Dr. Dinosaur — that alone was work the price of admission for me. Do not question it!

The book does an excellent job of laying out the timeline of Robo’s adventures, describing the various organizations in competition, and has rules for the kind of support the organizations can provide and how the characters’ adventures affect them.

So is it worth the $35? How can you even ask that? It’s got robots, and science!, and punching…and dinosaurs and stuff. The layout and utility of the e-book is better than most , but I’ve got one of the final pre-release copies and the hyperlinks to jump around the book weren’t enabled yet. I assume they will be in the current or future releases. The substance? The new rules help capture the flavor of the comics, and the book gives a pretty decent introduction into the world of Atomic Robo for those who are uninitiated, but this book has a pretty specific demographic — fans of the comics — so they could always crack open the original material, if need be. The rule book is very good about pointing you and the right series and issue of the comic that ties to the material in the background sections.

It’s a buy, especially if you’re a Tesladyne booster.

UPDATE: I received the physical book today from Evil Hat. The $35 gets you the book and a free e-book download. The look of the pdf is preserved in the softback book, which has a nice satin finish to it, and is slightly smaller than usual for a game book at what looks to be a 6.5″x10.25″ aspect. (I didn’t measure it, but should be close.) Still worth it.

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