Savage Worlds of Science Fiction

I’ve recently finished reading two very different systems dealing with the science fiction genre. The first was Harp SF, a…

SFC_Cover_WebI’ve recently finished reading two very different systems dealing with the science fiction genre. The first was Harp SF, a very dense, very simulationist game. I’ll be reviewing that one, soon. The other was the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion and, as you might guess if you know Savage Worlds, it was far less dense and far more focused on having fun than on getting every detail right. As happens often with Savage Worlds, I was left with a mild feeling of incompleteness when I finished the book yet also felt like I’d been given exactly the right amount of information and rules.

If you’ve read any of the three previous Savage World’s Companions, the format of this one will be very familiar. It starts with player character information, including ways to create player character races and a few races that are appropriate to the sci-fi genre using those rules. One of the most interesting of these examples is the insect aliens, who have both the mute and outsiders hindrances built into them. This combination seems rife for roleplaying opportunities for someone playing one in a mixed group. Another interesting choice are the Deaders which are sentient space zombies using the classic sci fi genre trope of space slugs controlling humanoid corpses. There is also a short section of both edges and hindrances specific both to the genre and to the rules presented later in the book.

Also for the benefit of the players is a pretty extensive list of high tech equipment with everything from stealth suits to cyber decks. The largest portion by far is the weapons section. Rules for almost any high tech weapon a person could want from vibro blades to rail guns is included and, just as large as the personal weapon section is the vehicle based weapons. Exactly how these can be used is unclear at first but becomes important later in the book.

Motobushido

There was a great war and your side lost. You are one of the last remnants of a society that…

motobushidoThere was a great war and your side lost. You are one of the last remnants of a society that is no longer wanted or needed. All that is left to you is four things; your sword, your bike, your honor, and your pack. You were once a samurai in service to something greater than yourself and now you just seek to balance these four things. You are never more than seven breaths away from death and strive to live your life by this tenet.

This is one of the ideas that the game Motobushido tries to capture. The players in this role playing game take on the guise of members of a samurai motorcycle gang that moves from town to town living by a code that is dying since they lost the great war sometime in the past.

DriveThru RPG Reviews: Machine Tractor Station Kharkov-37… A Perfect Adventure!

The historic horrors inflicted on the Russian people during the collectivization process were terrible, if a bit mundane in the…

CHA0310a
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The historic horrors inflicted on the Russian people during the collectivization process were terrible, if a bit mundane in the grand scheme of things.  Sure, people were starved, left to freeze, slaughtered and forced to move off their ancestral homelands.  But at least their souls were not torn apart.  Throw in a cosmic horror from the depths of space and an unbearable life becomes a terrifying tragedy.  This is just the kind of dark environment that is perfect for a Call of Cthulhu adventure.  This collectivization is exactly the setting for the adventure Machine Tractor Station Kharkov-37.

In case anyone is confused about just how bleak the setting is coming into the adventure, one of the first things the adventure tells the players and game master is that there is no way of winning the adventure.  In fact, there is a big chance that all the characters will not survive.  This will be a strange paradigm to a lot of players, who are accustomed to the kind of adventures that might be difficult but are beatable like most D&D standards.  But there is nothing more Lovecraftian than a story where the most even the smartest, strongest and most skilled individual can hope for is survival.

DriveThruRPG Reviews: The Tower By The Sea… An Excellent Adventure!

Nights of the Crusades is a bit of a deceptive game.  The core rule book is relatively short, but covers…

The Tower by the Sea
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Nights of the Crusades is a bit of a deceptive game.  The core rule book is relatively short, but covers a great deal of ground and is impressively simulationist in its rules.  People fooled by the size of the game into thinking it is a “storyteller” game might be disappointed by just how many rules there are, though the capacity to tell good stories with the game (not to mention the mechanic to tell good stories within  the game) is undeniable.  The Nights of the Crusades adventure, The Tower by the Sea is equally hard to pin down.  At first, it seems to be a fairly straightforward adventure, but it does not take long before it proves to be something surprisingly more given what a small space the adventure takes up.

As mentioned, the storytelling aspect of Nights of the Crusades is as much in character as it is a part of the game as a whole.  There are extensive rules for in character storytelling and rewards for it in the game.  To help GM’s come up with stories for their NPC’s and to help with the feel of the area where the adventure takes place, a synopsis of the voyages of Sinbad are included.  Of course, everyone knows Sinbad was buckling swashes centuries before Johnny Depp was flouncing around the Carribean, but few people probably know the actual stories that make up his seven voyages.  They are surprisingly dark and twisted, particularly the 4th and actually fit well with the grim, frightening atmosphere of Nights of the Crusades.