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Improv for Gamers
by John D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2018 08:25:03

I've purchased and reviewed Improv for Gamers. Check it out here.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Improv for Gamers
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Uprising: The Dystopian Universe RPG
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/07/2018 02:41:14

https://www.teilzeithelden.de/2018/11/07/rezension-uprising-vive-la-resistance/

Vive la Résistance! Wird es eurem Team gelingen, vor den Gendarmen der Regierung zu entkommen, die Ketten der Augmented Reality zu sprengen und Paris Nouveau in die Freiheit zu führen? Und werdet Ihr den Verräter in eurer Mitte rechtzeitig enttarnen?

Bei Uprising geht es darum, Angehörige einer bewaffneten Widerstandsgruppe gegen ein unterdrückendes System in der näheren Zukunft zu spielen. Das Ganze basiert auf dem Fate-Regelwerk. Uprising tritt mit dem Anspruch auf, ein schnelles Spiel zu sein, und setzt sich zum Ziel, in nur einer Sitzung die Fate-typische Weltenerschaffung, die Charaktererschaffung sowie ca. zwei Missionen abzuhandeln, was durch einen Praxistest bestätigt wurde. Dabei ist das Ziel, die Regierung zu besiegen, dermaßen präsent, dass dieses Kampagnenziel tatsächlich das Spiel beendet. Man soll Uprising quasi durchspielen können. Ein weiterer wichtiger Punkt ist das Misstrauen der SCs untereinander, weil jeder über ein Geheimnis verfügt, das den anderen SCs das Leben schwer macht, wobei tatsächlich einer der SCs auch ein Maulwurf der Regierung sein kann.

Die Spielwelt Nach einem nicht näher definierten Atomkrieg mussten die Überlebenden sich inmitten radioaktiver Verseuchung und zerstörter Infrastruktur neu organisieren, was dann in Form von abgeschotteten Stadtstaaten geschah, u.a. Paris Nouveau, wo die Handlung spielt.

Paris Nouveau wurde auf den Ruinen des in der Seine versinkenden Paris gegründet, wobei das alte Paris als la Cave unterhalb der neuen Stadt als Ruinenstadt und Rückzugsort der Résistance liegt. Darüber auf Pfeilern errichtet liegt la Bas, was im Wesentlichen ein riesiger Beton-Klotz ist, der mit den Wohneinheiten der Einwohner vollgestopft ist. Darüber erhebt sich L’Aerie, ein dem Eiffelturm nachempfundener Wolkenkratzer, der der Oberschicht als Wohnort dient; dessen Spitze wird L’Apogée genannt, wo die High Society sowie die Regierung untergebracht sind.

Vive la Résistance! Die Gesellschaft ist in drei Schichten unterteilt: An der Spitze steht La Societé, die Oberschicht, die auf Kosten der anderen Schichten ein Leben in Luxus führt, der z.T. mit Augmented oder Virtual Reality (AR bzw. VR) aufgewertet wird. Les Élites, die Spitze der Societé, hat aber nicht einmal das nötig.

Darunter als breite Masse leben Les Citoyens, die gewöhnlichen Bürger. Ab dem 11. Geburtstag bekommen sie ein neural casing installiert, dass ihr Leben mittels Augmented Reality mit angenehmeren Oberflächen für alle Sinne überzieht, was bitter nötig, da die Wände in La Bas blanker Beton sind, die Nahrung aus den Ausscheidungen der Einwohner gewonnenes Artificial Proteine Extract (APE) ist, die Kleidung ziemlich abgerissen ist und dank Wasserrationierung die Körperhygiene der Insassen in La Bas sicherlich überblendet werden muss. Das neural casing als Implantat ist allerdings für einen Citoyen unbezahlbar, weswegen er einen Konzern als Sponsor benötigt, für den er letztlich 80 Stunden pro Woche arbeiten muss, um seine Schulden zu tilgen zu versuchen, was aber unmöglich ist. Nach spätestens dreißig Jahren gibt das neural casing ohnehin seinen Geist auf, und der betreffende Citoyen stirbt und wird zu APE verarbeitet. Letztlich sind Les Citoyens wie Strafgefangene in einem stereotypen US-Gefängnis, nur dass durch die AR es meistens nicht so aussieht. Je weiter man aber von L’Apogée entfernt ist, desto schlechter ist die Übertragung, so dass in den unteren Ebenen von La Bas das APE wieder so schmeckt, wie es das eigentlich tut.

Darunter stehen Les Exilés, Leute ohne neural casing, sei es, weil sie außerhalb von Paris Nouveau geboren wurden, oder sei es, weil ihnen zur Strafe das neural casing zerstört wurde. Diese sind nun völlig der Willkür der Gendarmerie ausgeliefert und müssen, nur um zu überleben, die Tätigkeiten verrichten, für die sich selbst Les Citoyens zu fein sind, vergleichbar mit den SIN-losen bei Shadowrun.

Dagegen wehrt sich La Résistance, eine bewaffnete Widerstandsgruppe, die die Regierung niederwerfen, die Betäubung, Überwachung und Ausbeutung der Massen durch das neural casing beenden und das Terraforming-Programm wiederaufleben lassen will bzw. verkünden will, dass man außerhalb von Paris Nouveau wieder leben kann.

Dabei wird sehr auf Ambivalenz geachtet: Bei mehreren Missionen im Buch stellt man fest, dass La Résistance zweifelhafte Mittel einsetzt, die Konzerne z.T. Gutes tun etc., so dass die anfängliche Schwarz-Weiß-Malerei deutliche Schattierungen erhält: Kämpfen wir wirklich auf der richtigen Seite?

Insgesamt präsentiert sich das Setting aber als Mischung aus Shadowrun, Paranoia und Matrix. Während zu Beginn die Fronten klar zu sein scheinen, stellt sich die Sachlage von Mission zu Mission immer ambivalenter dar, so dass die Charaktere immer öfter vor einem Dilemma stehen.

Die Regeln Die Regeln von Uprising sind grundsätzlich Fate Core. Über die Sinnhaftigkeit oder Funktionalität der Fate-Regeln an sich kann es bei der Rezension eines konkreten Fate-Settings nicht gehen. Diese Regeln vorausgesetzt, gehe ich nun auf die wesentlichen Abweichungen ein:

Die Regeln wurden deutlich entschlackt, bei einem Fate-Spiel ist das schon einmal eine Ansage. Es gibt nur vier means genannte Fertigkeiten: Fight, Manipulate, Maneuver und Observe. Verglichen mit den Methoden aus TurboFate sind die means – wie der Praxistest gezeigt hat - deutlich griffiger, ein Schlag ins Gesicht erfordert eine Probe auf Fight, sich am Gegner vorbeizuschlängeln eine Probe auf Maneuver. Aber wie die TurboFate-Methoden kann man je nach Beschreibung auch andere means benutzen: Will man sich durch die Reihe der Gegner hindurchrempeln, würde man auf Fight würfeln, ein Schuss mit dem Scharfschützengewehr vom Hausdach an der Oberseite von La Bas würde ggf. auch über Observe abgehandelt werden. Allerdings gibt es Boni wie zusätzliche Schübe, wenn man suited means verwendet, also z.B. Fight, um Schaden zu verursachen. Aber griffiger und damit schneller als die Methoden von TurboFate ist es sicherlich.

Der Schaden wird nicht wie bei Fate Core über Stress und Konsequenzen abgehandelt, sondern direkt über Zustände, wie sie das Fate-Handbuch kennt; je nachdem, welches Template man bei der Charaktererschaffung (s.u.) benutzt, sind dies durchaus andere Zustände. Dadurch muss man nicht lange überlegen, welche Konsequenz nun ein Treffer hat.

Neben den bei Fate üblichen Fate-Punkten gibt es noch sogenannten Blowback. Bestimmte in der Mission genannte Situationen und Aktionen der Spielercharaktere geben dem Spielleiter Blowback, z.B. wenn die SCs nicht heimlich vorgehen, sondern den LKW in die Luft sprengen. Blowback-Punkte können vom SL eingesetzt werden, um ganz konkrete, vorher in der Mission definierte Effekte oder Ereignisse zu erzeugen wie z.B. einen weiteren Trupp Gendarmen die Szenerie betreten lassen oder einen SC mit dem Marked-to-death-Zustand tatsächlich sterben zu lassen. Blowback-Punkte sind also zweckgebundene Fate-Punkte. Stattdessen hätte man aus den Aktionen der Charaktere aber auch Situationsaspekte herleiten können, die man über die normalen Fate-Punkte gegen die SCs reizt. Andererseits ist hier viel klarer geregelt, wofür Blowback verwendet werden kann. Der Fluss der Blowback-Punkte erfordert weniger Entscheidungen und beschleunigt so das Spiel, weil sie automatisch generiert werden. Im Praxistest benötigte ich als SL oft keine Fate-Punkte, um den Testspielern das Leben schwer zu machen, da ich einen regelmäßigen Strom von Blowback-Punkten zur Verfügung hatte. Gerade an einem müden Freitagabend empfand ich das als sehr entlastend.

Charaktererschaffung Charaktere werden eigentlich wie bei Fate üblich erschaffen, allerdings ist die Charaktererschaffung deutlich gelenkt durch die 3x3 Templates, für die man sich entscheidet: Für jede der drei Gesellschaftsschichten existieren drei Templates, aus denen man wählen kann. Bei jedem Template hat man die Wahl zwischen drei verschiedenen Verteilungen der Punkte für die means, so dass man eine zur Rolle passende stimmige Verteilung beschleunigt erhält. Jedes Template definiert durch einen individuellen Satz an Fragen die Aspekte, die den Charakter ausmachen: Wer einen Soldier spielt, erhält durch den Template andere Verteilungsmuster für seine means, andere Fragen zu seinen Aspekten, andere Zustände für Verwundungen im Kampf und andere optionale Stunts, als wenn er einen Hacker spielt. Ein Stunt ist verpflichtend durch die Gesellschaftsschicht, ansonsten hat man eine begrenzte Auswahl je nach Template. Dadurch, dass es durch die Templates so vordefiniert ist, beschleunigt sich die Charaktererschaffung, weil viele Überlegungen bereits vorweg genommen wurden: Wer einen Blueblood spielt, kann und muss sich nicht überlegen, ob er Fight auf 3 setzt. Das spart Zeit, passt zur Rolle, negiert aber ungewöhnliche Kombinationen. Die Charaktere bleiben so etwas stereotyp. Im Praxistest kam selbst der Spieler, der sich mit Entscheidungen notorisch schwer tut, zügig zu einem Ergebnis.

Ein wichtiger Punkt sind die Geheimnisse, die jeder Charakter hat. Dazu wählen die Spieler gemeinsam Geheimnis-Karten aus, der Spielleiter mischt noch eine oder bei großen Gruppen mehrere Spion-Karten darunter. Nun zieht jeder Spieler reihum zwei Karten, behält eine und steckt die andere zurück. So hat jeder Charakter ein schmutziges Geheimnis, und alle wissen, dass einer der Charaktere ein Maulwurf der Regierung sein könnte. Indem die Karten zugelost werden, ist auch sichergestellt, dass in einander sehr vertrauten Runden die Identität des Spions ein Geheimnis bleibt. Ansonsten wüsste ich in meiner Stammrunde schon durch die Personen am Spieltisch genau, welcher Mitspieler bei einer völlig freien Wahl sich die Rolle des Verräters ausgesucht hätte. Nun ist es ein Geheimnis, jeder verdächtigt jeden.

Die Charakterentwicklung ist untypisch für Fate: Wer bestimmte Aktionen in einer Mission durchführt, erhält sogenannte Advancement-Points. Diese kann er während der Mission gegen Fate-Punkte eintauschen oder nach der Mission für eine Steigerung eines means sowie einen neuen Stunt einsetzen. Was Advancement-Points bringt, wird durch die Mission vom SL im Vorfeld bestimmt und ist durch das Template sowie das Geheimnis festgelegt. Im Praxistest empfanden es die Spieler als hilfreich, ihrer Rolle entsprechend zu handeln, weil sie für dafür unmittelbar und transparent belohnt werden.

Als weitere „Charaktere“ werden La Résistance und die Regierung gemeinsam geschaffen, die mit jeweils zwei Aspekten und Stunts versehen werden. Je nachdem, wie die Missionen laufen, erhalten auch La Résistance und die Regierung Advancement-Points, die die Möglichkeiten der beiden Organisationen verbessern. Der letzte Stunt im Entwicklungsdiagramm der jeweiligen Organisation leitet die Endgame Mission ein, mit deren Abschluss meistens das Spiel auf die eine oder andere Weise beendet ist: Hat die Résistance gewonnen oder wurde sie von der Regierung zerschlagen?

Weiterer Inhalt Neben einigen vorgefertigten NSCs ist eine beachtliche Sammlung von 17 Missionen als Vorlage für eigene Missionen enthalten. Sie veranschaulichen sehr praktisch, wie die Fate-untypischen Elemente wie Advancement für SCs, Résistance und Regierung sowie Blowback in das Spiel eingebaut werden können. Was sich im Regeltext noch sehr abstrakt las, wurde mir nach der vierten Mission völlig klar. Die 17 sehr an Shadowrun erinnernden Missionen sind angenehm vielfältig: Neben Überfall- und Sabotage-Missionen gibt es Spionageabwehr, die Suche nach Verbündeten, das Kapern des AR-Signals und anderes. Von der Menge her sollten sie ausreichen, um eine der beiden Endgame Missions zu erreichen, auch wenn gegen Ende eigene Missionen die Entwicklung glaubwürdiger machen würde. Vom Ablauf her wirken die Missionen manchmal, vor allem die späteren, etwas vage, was aber Fate-typisch ist und durch sachgerechten Einsatz der Aspekte und Zonen aufgefangen wird. Letztlich ist die Kampagne sinnvoll aufgebaut und geeignet, im sogenannten Kurzen Spiel die Kampagne zu einem Ende zu führen. Für das Lange Spiel reicht die Menge der vorgefertigten Missionen aber nicht aus. Besonders passend finde ich auch einen bestimmten Serienbösewicht der Kampagne, der zur Not geklont wiederkehrt, gleich, wie oft er getötet wird.

Eine Beispielrebellion wird in den Regelbeispielen und erzählenden Texten vor Augen geführt, die auch den Umweg über die Suche nach dem Maulwurf im Team zeigt. Den dort genannten Figuren kann man als NSCs in den Missionen begegnen und findet diese Figuren auch in den Innenillustrationen wieder.

Erscheinungsbild Das vollfarbige PDF ist v.a. in schwarz, weiß, grau und rot gehalten. Graphiken und Bilder sind etwas spärlich gehalten und beschränken sich auf Charakterbilder diverser NSCs sowie zweiseitige Szenenbilder zu den Kapitelanfängen. Dafür sind die Bilder aber auch hochwertig. Die Schrift ist leserlich, durch farbige Hervorhebungen gut gegliedert. Auch als Buch mit 308 Seiten in annähernd DIN C5 dürfte es handlich genug für den Transport sein. Insgesamt ein solides Buch, das aber nicht wegen des Designs gekauft werden dürfte.

Fazit Uprising stellt den Widerstandskampf der kleinen Résistance gegen das Unterdrückungsregime im futuristischen Paris Nouveau dar. Durch ein klar definiertes Ende – Sieg oder Niederlage der Résistance – ist der Rahmen überschaubar. Durch eine sehr gelenkte Charaktererschaffung kann man sehr schnell das Spiel beginnen, da die Wahlmöglichkeiten bei der Charaktererschaffung auf das Spielziel hin fokussiert und begrenzt wurden, was allerdings auf Kosten der Individualität geht.

Wenn man einen Widerstandskampf gegen einen totalitären Überwachungsstaat voller Intrigen, persönlicher Ziele und der Angst vor einem Verräter spielen will, den man in sicherlich zehn Sitzungen zu einem klar definierten Ende führen kann, ist man bei Uprising goldrichtig. Schneller Start, klares Ziel und die Regulierung gegenseitigen Misstrauens sind die Stärken dieses Spiels.

Zu etwas anderem ist Uprising aber nicht zu gebrauchen, da alle enthaltenen Mechaniken darauf abzielen. Uprising ist ein hochspezialisiertes Spiel nach Fate-Regeln, dass die eine Sache, die es können will, sehr gut kann, alles andere aber nahezu gar nicht oder nur mit viel Eigenleistung, wobei Regelneuerungen wie Advancement-Points und Blowback auch für eigene Fate-Spiele einen Blick wert sind.

Der größte Haken aber ist meiner Meinung nach, dass sich nach einmaligen Durchspielen der Kampagne der Zweck des Spiels in dieser Spielrunde erübrigt hat: Es ist ein Spiel, das für exakt eine einzige Kampagne ausgelegt ist.

Der Ersteindruck basiert auf der Lektüre des PDFs sowie einem Praxistest in Form eines One Shots.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Uprising: The Dystopian Universe RPG
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Monster of the Week
by Tyson W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/03/2018 23:49:13

Monster of the Week is a fun game. I love urban fantasy shows like Buffy, Angel, and YuYu Hakusho. I had never played a Powered by the Apocolypse game before this one. Now this is one of my favorite games. It's a game that doesn't take a lot of prep, and it's quite simple. So simple that you don't even really need to make a character. Just pick a playbook that appeals to you, and go from there. I do think that at least one of the playbooks is a bit too powerful, (the Divine) and I was afraid of it becoming a battle between me and him. As a Keeper, I find it very easy to run this game. Having a simple three-act story, not unlike an episode of one of the TV shows that inspired this game. The players will usually mess up the story, but that's the joy of these kinds of games.

Most of my experience with this game is as a Keeper. As of writing this, I've played one session as a Professional. I found the system to be oddly liberating, not needing to worry about what kind of armor, or what kind of weapons I have. Weapons do from 1 to 3 damage, and armor just acts as a soak for damage. As an experienced roleplayer, it is liberating, but some newer players may be slightly confused by the vague nature of the "moves."

Monster of the Week is now one of my go-to games. It's a game that takes basically no prep, and is very fun when you succeed, and when you fail. Recommended.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster of the Week
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Tachyon Squadron
by Geoffrey S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2018 04:59:12

This is a read review of the pdf, which I kickstarted. Disclaimer : I translated some past FATE products from Evil Hat, in French.

Summary :

A nice product, with some strong parts (system for fighter space fights, new rules…) and some very weak points (world building). A must have if you want to play star fighter pilots. If you want a full fleshed space opera Fate game, I think you may still use it for fighter rules.

Content description : It starts with some general information about the world of Tachyon Squadron, and what are the difference with regular Fate.

Second main part is character creation. There are several good things here, for example the Decompression Aspect. Pity the precise rule is not explained from start and you have to wait for 80 pages to understand it fully. Theres is not even a direct link to the rule. Another good thing is the Gear Stunts rules which I appreciate : it helps maximize rolls, instead of a static bonus, and you have as much of them as you want, allowing PC to stack equipments. Can probably be used on other Fate games gear heavy, like Transhumanity Fate.

Then engagement rules. Its it 47 pages long, the biggest chunk of the book. It is a bit more crunchy than your average Fate, but not that much and gives players and GM plenty of options to represent spatial fights. Extended exemples provide good insights on this sub system. It ends with a 6 pages details on aerial fighter terminology, maneuvers and so on. A very good bit ! The only lacking point is a capital ship against capital ship rule, probably excluded out of complexity and lack of space.

After that you have some data one the Tahcyonverse, 13 pages long. It has some interesting story seeds but not much else. It tries to give some general background information about the Draconic system, a secessionist system from a imperialistic Dominion, which was at war with the Terran centric, democratic-in-words Republic supporting the secessionist. A handful of places in the system are described, quite generic.

Next part deals with pilots life, on missions and off-duty. Only 9 pages long, it gives some good examples of Players activities, with mechanical effects.

GMing : 13 pages on how to build and run an interesting militray campaign, and spatial encounters . Ships : 19 pages, with small and large ships, military and civilian. Pretty standard in here. People of interest : 6 pages. Pregenerated characters : 11 pages 2 scenarios : 13 pages, one against pirates, one against the big bad empire. Quick reference sheet, PC Starfighter sheet, and a blanck PC sheet

Art : good, without much else. It is done in a comic tone, but may have benefitted from a darker tone, to fit the theme.

Layout : if you know a the Fate worlds product line, you will be right at home here.

What I liked :

  • Unified stress rules. Stress disappears when the PC take actions to relieve it. It may push the boundaries of plausabilitiy but it may be interesting from a story perspective. GM has to be careful about PC exposition, since it may end with one player taking all light on systemic bar brawls.
  • gear stunt rule : this one was missing for games where stacking equipment is a part of the setting. It is pretty simple and intelligent
  • Engagements rules : already described . It may even stand as a mini spatial game, on par with some board game.

Could have been even better with :

  • capital ships rules. 'Cause if the PCs have to protect a warship it has to be used on something, like the bad guy capital ship / station / you name it…
  • better world buidling. The conflict is pretty uninteresting and mostly incoherent. You have to defend a Macguffin state from big mustache baddies with some support from small mustach no-as-baddies. You fight here because you believe in the cause, but it quite unclear why the Draconic state is much better at anything than the Dominion. How it got ride of it in the first place anyway ? Without any serious military power, it is unclear how it has not been crushed right from the start by the Dominion. NPC described are mostly monodimensional but it fits the genre. The biggest lack is the absence of handful of baddies : the GM has to build them from scratch ; it could have been great to have two admirals / officers, and a roster of four / five antagonist pilots to give more personality at the opposition and some NPC aspects for the GM to throw Fate Points at them. Crap, the GMing tips even advice you to do so, but prefer to spend 11 pages on pregenerated PC. In all honesty, the pregen PC could be used for this, but you have to tweak them.
  • broader focus. The game is meant for playing spatial fighter pilots in a mercenary unit. With almost two hundred pages and 12 dollars later, it delivers but you are not going anywhere else, unless you do some heavy work of background writing, and rules hacking from an Evil Hat toolkit or from another game, like Diaspora.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tachyon Squadron
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Monster of the Week
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/21/2018 15:18:29

Sitting down to write a review of Monster of the Week while being a guy who can't abide essentially any episode of Supernatural you care to name, and who only really liked Buffy: The Vampire Slayer for the side characters is an exercise in trying to refocus on "but is this really FOR me?" Let's at least step back a little and try to see where this work fits in the history of the genre.

While episodic action-adventure shows have been common on television since the earliest days, the combination of horror, episodic enemies and recurring protagonists first came about in the cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969. Before that time, episodic horror was the realm of the anthology series (Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, etc.) or the soap opera - always an innovator in television (Dark Shadows). The Scooby-Doo formula would be refined in more standard dramas like Kolchak, The Night Stalker, and was a consistent theme in cartoons like The Real Ghostbusters. The formula is this: The characters, intertwined in various ways, with strong relationships and connections to each other, face a supernatural evil. The evil grows in intensity, the characters face setbacks and attempt to save each other and the world, and ultimately the (seemingly) supernatural evil is defeated, and the characters return to the status quo. The classic show that combined the episodic and the serial in this field was Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which ran for seven seasons on TV and another five in comics, which attempted to make the relationship web of the characters more serial, while the episodic threats were loosely connected, the characters facing a "Big Bad", as they self-referentially called it, at the end of each season.

At its most successful, BTVS was able to transcend the formula, but it often did so in ways that displayed the weakness of the formula itself. When BTVS elevated its supporting cast, it showed the web of deep, interwoven relationships that had developed over the seasons, and the changes the characters had gone through - like a serial show, like a soap opera. When it played with its own presentation (a silent episode, a musical episode) it showed how much greater range its performers had than the formula really required of them. While incredibly influential and successful, BTVS actually had threaded a very tight needle. Followups (Angel, Supernatural) seemed unable to replicate this, with good reason.

The monster-of-the-week genre is one that, ironically, the RPG hobby had developed far more aggressively and in-depth than television had. Call of Cthulhu's module play often emphasized the idea of the location-based scenarios - investigators came to a place, summoned by a letter from their favorite cousin or hunting buddy, came across horrible supernatural events and the survivors emerged shaken but ready to go to the next, unrelated scenario. Indeed, the idea of serial characters moving through a series of episodes has always been the standard setup for horror RPGs! This means Monster of the Week, the game, has a very difficult remit. It has to convince you that it actually brings something different to the table than Literally All The Other Horror RPGs Out There, because this subgenre has been ours longer than it has been anyone else's. We got here first. Buffy's the latecomer.

So, taking that very careful question, what does Monster of the Week bring to the table, there's several elements that combine both to make it an extremely good game in certain circumstances and a very boring one in others.

First, it does a great job of connecting the characters to each other, and using those relationships as the basis for the world. You are giong to be playing episodes of a show that is in its third season. Stuff has happened before. Nobody is going to be "but vampires don't exist!", the most boring thing ever to appear in monster of the week properties. So from a player perspective, it does a good job of bringing you into the dynamic of these kinds of properties. Nobody is going to be lost on the sidelines of a Monster of the Week game.

Second, it does a good job of funnelizing play - meaning that there is always a mechanical way forward. You are never stuck going "well, these werewolves are immune to silver, so NOW what do we do?" There's a simple, basic set of moves (this is a quasi-Powered By The Apocalypse game) that will always provoke you (or send you tumbling) forward through the plot of the scenario. You ascertain the nature of the threat, encounter it once or twice, learn its weakness, and defeat it.

What this means is that for one-shots and for brief campaigns - say, five or six sessions - Monster of the Week is ideal. But these same advantages begin to wear thin as the formula begins to show through. From a GM perspective, there's so little mechanical variation in your options for designing monsters, and none at all for responding to player character actions, that after you do 3-4 episodes, you've literally done everything you're going to ever do in the game. At least the players have their relationships to leap back onto, and a set of moves they can get themselves tangled up in; your options are much more constrained. Compare this to the role of the GM in Apocalypse World, where complicating the situation by introducing a new threat is as simple as coming up with something and saying it happens. The reification of the monster's weakness into a game mechanical token which must be delivered when and only when the players strike one of the moves that generate it means that a lot of the creativity of the GM side is just not there. (Compare, say, to Call of Cthulhu, where every player has 70-odd skills and is clambering all over your monster asking you what happens when they do something involving Botany.)

So that's that - and that was my experience with it. When I ran it once, it sang. When I ran 2-3 sessions of it, it was incredible. But at around session 6 I felt that, as a GM, I'd seen all it could do, and the prospect of more just seemed entirely too dreary. So in that respect, Monster of the Week fails to rise above the typical horror RPG, and, like most of the cultural content it is perching atop of, can't rise to the heights of Buffy-at-its-best. But surely it's better than Supernatural-at-its-worst. And the exceptional, fast-moving quality of the game makes it ideal for one-shot and convention play, so I can urge you to play in those social circumstances with an unqualified recommendation. Just keep an eye out for how the game's structure constrains you.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster of the Week
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Tachyon Squadron
by Dillard R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/16/2018 23:59:46

BLUF: It is a good supplement. Not exceptional. Space Opera/Military Sci-Fi mash-up...maybe.

Good. You can always use a scyfy military game. I loved BSG and Space Above and Beyond so this is right up my alley. I love Military Sci-Fi, such as the Fleet series. The tropes put forward in this title are to be expected based on the bibliography in the back of the book.

I like the new mechanics presented in this book. They include a new engagement process to conflict for Dogfighting that I really like. It puts tactics in there as more than a place holder. I used to read all the stories of fighter combat in WWI, WWII, and Korean War. This is faithful and not complicated, and really captures the excitement of aerial combat. (It even has a copy of Boelke's Dicta!) Stress for PCs is handled differently. For those familiar with Fate you will immediatly recognize the simplified use of the stress track common to NPCs in the regular game. (I don't think the change was necessary as someone that has played Fate for years now) Character creation supports building PCs that are aerial gunslingers. You can almost feel the swagger. As for Aspects the new addition to the mix is "Decompression" it takes the place of a Trouble. You have a healthy and an unhealthy way to decompress from the stress of being a fighter pilot. Of course these provide you with great plot hooks. You have a different way to approach Stunts. You have familiar Personal Stunts (2 free the rest cost refresh) and Gear Stunts which are not like Extras! Gear stunts allow you to "Maximize" your dice. Say you have a peice of gear that gives you technical advice when you roll 4dF you can change one of the dice from a 0 or - to a +. You can do this for a max of two dice per roll using two different pieces of gear. I love this mechanic. It is crunchier than normal and makes gear helpful but not overpowering. (You can have as many pieces of gear as the GM allows)

Not so good. I miss the Tazio Bettin and Enrica Eren Angiolini art that came with the old Fate books. This is of course a personal observation. To me the art in this book is simplistic and a bit muddled. I don't feel that there is the art that evokes the look and feel of a fighter or spaceship. The nose art on fighters is a thing in the campaign.It is mentioned specifically but the examples shown just seem way out of touch with real nose art. There are a plethora of examples of real nose art (and fanciful nose art) on the interwebs use that (and it makes me wonder if the artist even tried to do the same). I am also disappointed in the choice to use bizarre personal pronouns. Referring to an individual as "they" in character descriptions is disruptive to the reader. I lost count of the number of paragraphs I had to reread b/c someone couldn't just say him/he/her/she. I also find it disconcerting that the authors thought it was necessary to add in the sexual orientations and attitudes of the pregen PCs. Of the 6 PCs we have two people who are gay, one transgendered, one asexual (?!?), one that sleeps around so much they don't recognize past partners, and finally one that used to have a partner of the opposite sex (but not anymore). Not one happily married heterosexual? Why? I don't know! We also have two religions represented, Islam and Hindu. Where are the Buddists and the Christians? If you have political correctness tendencies please keep them to yourself. This is a game. Not your soap box. This isn't the first time I have disagreed with a personal ideology being given prominent place in an Evil Hat product. We have enough division over sexuality, political ideology, and religion in this world we don't need more in the gaming community. Rein it in. Please make games, not statements.

If you don't mind (or approve of) political correctness with you games and you love Space Opera space combat you will love this unabashedly. If you don't want to have someone pushing their ideology on you, you will need to ignore the political correctness schtick to get at the meat of the game. For me this is an acceptable attempt at a Space Opera game. It also captures the excitement and panache of aerial combat without ignoring the tactical side. Without the PC stuff I'd have given this 5 stars.

If I were sitting at a table with friends I would "x-card" these topics.

EDIT: You are part of the Draconis Volunteer Group or DVG. Given the situation and the obvious similarities I am very surprised that the history of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) or Flying Tigers isn't mentioned at all.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tachyon Squadron
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The Crisp Line • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2018 11:46:37

Another excellent World of Adventure for Fate Core.

This is an interesting campaign world that could easily be played dark and dystopian, or lightened up to be more "YA" adventure with animal powers if that strikes your fancy.

The main reason I am writing a review is to point out that I think the "genetic enhancement package' system used in this world could make a great template for a low to medium powers supers game focusing on super-skills and moderate super powers.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Crisp Line • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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It's Not My Fault! (A Fate Accelerated Character & Situation Generator)
by Kris S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2018 13:53:01

(These comments apply to this product and to the "Fantastic" add-on.) I have now tried this product out twice: once to introduce a father and daughter as new players to the system, and once at a convention where around seven people wanted to play, some experienced with Fate. For the first group I threw together a simple battle using these cards, justified as part of an arena scenario. We stopped after the battle, but I later saw the father GMing a Fate session of his own. At the convention, we put together a scene where the heroes were being menaced by an evil priest and his Cage of Blood, as I tried to explain the system and use the cards to help people understand their characters. The players took to it quickly; the turning point came when the orc character decided he was going to "interrogate the lute" and spend a fate point to declare that it was capable of speech. We ended up putting on a fantasy death metal concert that led to a demon appearing in the mosh pit while our imp gadgeteer used a remarkably effective prince disguise to perform with the evil lute.

In other words, this product let my groups put together some fun little scenarios on the fly and introduce new players to the system easily. My only regret here is that I should have bought the actual printed cards, rather than trying to save by doing print-and-play (which ended up being more trouble than the savings were worth).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
It's Not My Fault! (A Fate Accelerated Character & Situation Generator)
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Monster of the Week
by Jonathan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/09/2018 12:25:57

Great PbtA game. Have used this for a series of one shots when traveling with friends and it was really easy for a tabletop beginners to pickup the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster of the Week
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SLIP • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
by Travis M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2018 21:18:07

The Short Version:

I really enjoyed this. Not only do I like the specific theme, but it also opened my eyes to some new ways of thinking about Fate in general, and how to think about scenarios, villains, and "The Bronze Rule."

The Longer Version:

http://www.rpgrambler.com/2018/05/rambler-reviews-slip-world-of-adventure.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SLIP • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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Grimoire • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
by Jeff P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2018 18:18:41

I generally find that some FATE worlds do it for me, and some don't, but just about every FATE world has something that I can borrow (steal?) for my game.

"Grimoire" was a pleasant surprise, all the way around. There isn't anything about this setting that I didn't like. Recognizing, though, that not everyone shares my exact tastes, here's a quick review. Yes, I'm a fan of this one, but I hope my review will suffice to let you know if "Grimoire" will do it for you-- or if it won't.

The most interesting mechanical twist in "Grimoire" is that it provides an entirely new spin on magic for FATE Core! If you're of a certain age (read: 'old'), you might remember the Eternal Champions line of fantasy roleplaying games by Chaosium, "Stormbringer" and "Hawkmoon," both based upon the fiction of Michael Moorecock. What set these games apart (mumble mumble, handwave) years ago is that their magic system was entirely based upon summoning extraplanar entities, beings which were generally much more powerful than the player characters, and then either bargaining with them or magically compelling them to serve you. This form of sorcery was dangerous, often as dangerous as anything else in the game, and that danger factor resulted in immensely powerful characters who were often doomed for dabbling in dark forces which they couldn't entirely control (mwaaa-hwaaa-haaaa, sinister laugh, and CUT!, fade to black).

Well, the magic system in "Grimoire" is a lot like that. Here, of course, the entities in question are reflected by Aspects, rather than a series of godlike numbers which dwarf the characters' own attribute ratings, making the imbalance of power between summonee and summoner a bit less daunting... at first. You see, "Grimoire" also introduces rules for 'indebtedness' to these malignant entities, so while the astral bugaboos that you summoned for protection might or might not pose a dire risk to you at the very outset, calling upon them for additional services does give them a bit of added leverage over you. These beings are a form of immense power, bottled up in your back pocket, which you hope to be able to use sparingly, if at all, all the while remaining mindful that the imbalance of power which leans in your favor today could shift away from you at almost any given time once you let the genie out of the bottle.

Honestly, you could port these rules over to any fantasy setting and have a complete magical system, ready-to-run, as long as you aren't hung up on the idea that magic = spells. If that's your thing, or if you want a magic system where the players have a more primary role in creating magical effects (as oppsed to the more secondary, behind-the-scenes role of conjuring and attempting to compel the entities which fill that more primary magical role), "Grimoire" might not be for you.

Setting-wise, the game does what it needs to do. Player characters are warlocks, capable of summoning daemons, malignant extraplanar entities, and that makes them valuable assets for the rich and powerful. A few factions are detailed in somewhat cursory manner, several places are described, and a couple of NPCs are identified. This should be more than enough background info for most FATE GMs to jump into. Character creation rules are suitably modified to support the rules for warlock magic and to support the setting presented.

Really, the meat of "Grimoire" is its unique magic system, which fully delivers upon its particular concept of how magic works in this game. The focus of this world is 100% about warlocks, who serve as a weapon in the arsenal of a powerful elite. You won't find elves or dwarves here, although of course it'd be a simple matter to Aspect some up if that's your thing. If you're looking for a dungeon crawl, or want something with an old-school D&D feel to it, I'd suggest the FATE Freeport Companion. But if you want a refreshingly different type of fantasy game-- one where magic is dark, mysterious, unpredictable, menacing, and more than a little dangerous-- this is a nifty little FATE world which stands tall on its own merits.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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Fate Core System
by trace l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2018 17:42:59

While I can't say I adore the system after trying it, I believe that to be a matter of taste. The quality of the material provided within the manual is solid, though. It's very clear throughout and gives reasonable examples. The fact that it consistently shows the same material as is available elsewhere in the text can be a good or bad thing depending on perspective, but I appreciated it.

Like I said, after playing with it a bit it wasn't exactly my cup of tea. That being said, for the price it's well worth a look if it's of any interest. If nothing else, it has fun ideas you can put towards campaigns in other systems if you fancy. Definitely worth a purchase if it seems of interest.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Core System
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Fate Horror Toolkit
by the h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2018 17:28:30

This is an interesting mess of a supplement. I'm hopefully going to be writing a more in-depth critique over the next few days, because I've got quite a lot to say about it, but here are some general points:

  • Given that most of the introduction is centred around player consent and comfort, returning to that theme at the start of several chapters feels redundant. I'm glad this stuff's in here, and I'd definitely rather have too much than too little, but it comes back a lot.
  • Somewhat related, and something of a nitpick: why is there a Dresden Files Accelerated page reference every time conditions come up, even though the introduction specifically notes that condition rules are available elsewhere (including in this very book)?
  • The use of conditions in general is more often questionable than fully justified. They often come across as a much more complicated way of doing something that could just as easily be achieved with consequences, stunts, or some other existing feature.
  • The book generally takes too long to say what it needs to. I'm not sure we really need, for example, a full six pages describing how to give a monster aspects and skills, which are already the heart and soul of the system. I don't have a problem with advice as opposed to rules content, but a concerning amount of this book isn't really either of the above.
  • A particularly egregious example of this problem: four pages on gore. It's pretty much just "use aspects or the Bronze Rule, stunts can make people resistant because stunts can do things like that", but in far, far more words.
  • Consumable aspects are fantastic. The whole survival framework is smart and well-structured, and it's easily the best chapter on offer; my only complaint is that survival games feel like they might deserve more space than a single chapter.
  • The feminine horror chapter feels like a flabbier, less focused take on Sarah Richardson's excellent piece in the Fate Codex (which makes sense since she has a writing credit for this). The connection to femininity for a lot of the listed themes is tenuous or unclear, and nowhere is this more blatant than with feminine horror aspects: they don't feel distinctly feminine, and, worse, the supercharged fate points they grant completely undermine the sense of helplessness they're meant to evoke.
  • The Scooby-Doo chapter (sorry, I can't think of it as anything else) is fun and looks mostly sound, but a framework aimed at children feels very out of place in a book with this title, this cover art, and the dark, mature material featured elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with it but I'm not sure it belongs here.

All in all, the Horror Toolkit is a solid attempt to justify Fate for a genre it's arguably not all that suited to. I'm not sure I'd recommend it, but it's definitely an interesting piece, and horror enthusiasts may find some broad ideas and advice worth using even if the specifics aren't always well-executed.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Horror Toolkit
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Fate Horror Toolkit
by David M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2018 11:47:01

This is an excellent Fate Core supplement. The mechanics blend seamlessly with those of the core rules to provide the GM with the means to present horror in a game. You can take a little bit and add it to an existing campaign, or build a complete horror-themed world. The discussions of horror tropes alone are worth the price, and because the toolkit offers guidance as well as mechanics, it can be used in a system-independent way.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Horror Toolkit
by Anton B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2018 01:48:33

This is a "how to" guide, not a toolkit. Too low number of new mechanics and extras.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Totally understand where you're coming from, but it's worth noting that the Toolkit line is going to contain no small amount of "pure advice" content, as the Horror Toolkit does (along with a number of new mechanics, extras, and techniques). Our goal is to create something that's useful not only to Fate GMs but to folks looking to take the advice content and apply it to other games and systems.
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