Firefly: Pirates & Bounty Hunters

Firefly: Pirates & Bounty Hunters 

From: Gale Force 9

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

Firefly: Pirates & Bounty Hunters is a new board game expansion from Gale Force 9.

As I have mentioned previously, the Firefly base game has virtually no in-game player interaction. Admittedly, you can occasionally snatch a Crew card from another player or steer the Alliance Cruiser or Reaver Cutter towards them under the right circumstances, but otherwise it’s multi-player solitaire all the way. The Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion seeks to provide options in that regard.

From the back of the box:
Aggressive new leaders specialize in anti-social strategies while Lawmen reward those bringing justice to the ‘Verse.

At the heart of this expansion are the mechanics for Boarding Tests and Showdowns. A boarding test allows a player to use a Work action to gain access to another ship on the same space. This involves making a tech or negotiate roll of six or better (the former reflecting the hacking of the target’s security systems, and the latter reflecting bluffing the target into allowing you aboard). Once aboard, a showdown is initiated by both players rolling the skill of their choice. Though not explicitly required, players should probably be encouraged to come up with a rationale on how some of the more unusual skill combinations interact. If the boarding player gets the higher result, he takes what he came for. If the defending player has the higher result or there’s a tie, the boarding player risks getting crew killed.

Before you commit any piracy, an appropriate Contact card must be possessed. Depending on which contact it was obtained from, there may be restrictions on what sort of ships it can be used against. Once you’re in the same space as an eligible target, a boarding test followed by a showdown can be attempted. If successful, the pirates may take the amount of goods listed for the job. However, the smash and grab nature of a pirate raid means that anything kept in the target ship’s stash is off-limits. Not only is this thematically appropriate, but it also gives the stash a real purpose. In the base game, the only time the stash would come into play was with a Customs Inspection encounter, and that could be ignored by simply being Solid with Harken.

Bounty hunting is more varied in how it can be conducted. Throughout the game, a set of three Bounty cards will be on display to indicate which crew cards have a reward being offered for their capture and is reset whenever the Alliance Cruiser card is drawn. The most risk-intensive method occurs when the fugitive is part of another ship’s crew. Capture requires a successful boarding test and showdown. If the target happens to be in a Supply card discard pile, you must go to the appropriate planet. Once there, all that is required is a successful showdown against the target’s best skill. The easiest occurs when the fugitive is part of your own crew. Simply go to the Drop-Off location and collect the reward. However, this method comes at the price of all your crew becoming Disgruntled (how would you feel about the possibility that your captain might turn you in if the money was good?). However the capture is made, the bounty card is claimed and replaced with a new card in the line-up. It’s then all a matter of getting to the listed drop-off location and collecting the reward, at which point the crew card is removed from the game. Until you make it there, though, other ships may attempt to jump your bounty by successfully boarding your ship and engaging in a successful showdown. A successful bounty jump also provides the option of having the fugitive join your crew (assuming there’s an available space) without having to pay the hiring cost.

From the rulebook:
If boarding rivals’ ships, stealing their stuff and bushwhacking their crew, sounds like fun to you, read on! A pirate’s trove of shiny bits and dirty deeds awaits. If these cut-throat methods don’t appeal to your delicate sensibilities, you may want to put this rulebook down and crawl away like an itty bitty bug.

It’s not just new mechanics and cards that are included. Two new ships are introduced in the form of the Walden and the Interceptor (which appeared in the TV episodes Out of Gas and Objects in Space, respectively) for those bored with a plain old Firefly. The Walden is geared towards piracy, as it has lots of cargo space for looted goods. It also comes with a special ability allowing for the collection of additional goodies from a successful piracy job. However, the sluggishness of its drive core makes it a real tub speed-wise. What’s more, it can’t be swapped out for a better one. The Interceptor is blindingly fast and fuel efficient, as well as having an easier time making boarding tests. It also has fewer crew and ship upgrade slots, cutting back on potential versatility. Even more limiting is the minimal cargo space, making most delivery and piracy jobs infeasible. Anyone flying in this ship will be sticking to crime jobs and bounty hunting.

In conclusion, the multi-player options provided are very much geared towards players comfortable with regular backstabbing. If such an aggressive approach doesn’t turn you off, Pirates & Bounty Hunters is one of those relatively rare expansions that manages to enhance the base game as well as add to it.

Rating: 18

Product Summary

Firefly: Pirates & Bounty Hunters

From: Gale Force 9

Type of Game: Board Game Expansion

Game Design by: Sean Sweigart and Aaron Dill

Design Direction by: John Kovaleski

Graphic Design by: Gale Force Nine Studio

Game Components Included: 30 Supply cards, 25 Contact cards, 20 Bounty cards, 2 Leader cards, 2 Starting Drive Core cards, 2 Ship cards, 3 Story cards, 5 Cargo/Contraband tokens, 5 Passenger/Fugitive tokens, 5 Parts tokens, 10 Fuel tokens, 4 Disgruntled tokens, 5 Warrant/Goal tokens, 7 Haven/Destination tokens, 1 Walden model, 1 Interceptor model

Retail Price: $29.99

Number of Players: 2-6

Player Ages: 13+

Play Time: 2 hours

Website: http://www.fireflythegame.com/

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

Spandex City/X-tra Ball Ice Cream

Spandex City (the leading family-friendly gaming venue in Charlotte, NC) and JustUs Productions (creators of MACE, Charlotte’s largest annual gaming convention) are proud to bring you micro-MACE, a new monthly gaming event hosted at X-tra Ball Ice Cream & Pinball.

micro-MACE is a FREE family-friendly event on the first Saturday of each month. Meet up at X-tra Ball from 6 pm to 9 pm for a fun evening of board games, card games, and role-playing games. X-tra Ball (2910 Mt.Holly-Huntersville Rd., Charlotte, NC 28214) is in the same shopping center as Spandex City, and it’s the perfect site for micro-MACE based on the proven formula:

Gaming + Ice Cream = Everybody wins!

All games will be open to anyone who wants to join in, and no pre-registration is necessary. Plus, every month, one random attendee will receive a FREE PASS to the next full MACE convention!

This is a great chance to make new friends, try new games, and introduce others to your favorite games. Spandex City will provide demo games, but feel free to bring whatever games you like. If you plan to run a role-playing game, make sure that you bring pre-generated characters so that new players can easily join in on the fun.

Interview with April & Kevin Cox, of KnA Games

April & Kevin Cox make up KnA Games and are currently Kickstarting a board game, Space Movers. They took a few minutes of their time to answer some questions about his Kickstarter.

Thank you April & Kevin Cox for taking the time to answer a few questions. Tell us a little about yourself and your gaming experience.

We are a couple of reluctant adults that remain kids at heart. For fun, we love to watch movies and play games. Kevin probably has about 10 more years of gaming experience, but we’ve been playing board games together for over 20 years. He grew up playing games like Stop Thief and Dark Tower. I grew up playing Monopoly and Life. He introduced me to Magic and Eurorails in the early 90’s and I was hooked!

How did the Space Movers come about ?

Space Movers is something we began working on about 3 years ago. Kevin initially came up with the idea of the theme and basic structure of the game. Over a couple of years we spent a little time developing the game. Late last year we learned about Kickstarter and went into high gear polishing the game so that we could release it this year.

Could you give us a brief description of the game and why you are so passionate about it.

Space Movers is a cooperative adventure that incorporates story, strategy and balance. You work as a crew to complete 5 objectives to win the game. During play you will have to deliver cargo from planet to planet to gain resources that allow you to keep flying. There are several other things you have to juggle during gameplay, like events that can alter the rules of the game and the evil UO that will chase you across the system in an effort to interrogate one of the crew members. Space Movers is the type of game that has you feeling like you have complete control in the beginning and like you’re barely hanging on by the end!

Honestly, we are passionate about the game because we really believe it is good. Not that we can take all the credit for that. Since we began demoing the game over the summer, we have had great feedback that has resulted in changes to improve the game tremendously.

How does the comic book tie into the game?

The comic gives you a backstory for the characters and helps you to connect to them. We developed a small bio for each of the characters to help us determine what their special abilities would be in the game. That led to the idea of doing a more complete story that explained why the characters ended up together on the Liberty. The added benefit is that you feel as if you know these characters and inevitably identify with one or more of them, even though you’ve never met them before.

The art for the game and comics is phenomenal. Who does the art and what inspires it?

Kevin did the graphic design for the game board, game box and the cards. All the illustration of the characters and ships in the comic and the game were done by Jon Hrubesch. And phenomenal is a great way to describe his talent! We have been so fortunate to have him involved in this project.

What do you feel separates it from other cooperative games of its nature?

Probably the most unique thing about Space Movers is the dice mechanic that is used to complete skill checks. Each player controls a die specific to their character. To complete skill checks, dice are rolled one at a time on a roll mat inside the game box lid. Multiple players can be involved in each check and they are able to try and change the result of previously rolled dice.

What do you see for the future of Space Movers?

The possibilities for expansions are endless. We will be releasing more Objective card sets and Random Objectives like we have in the initial game, along with more roll mats. We would like to also release an expansion with miniatures for the ships and characters. Eventually we hope to release a new game with a new location for our crew to explore along with another comic book to continue their story.

Interview with Duncan Davis, Sherwood Games

Duncan Davis of Sherwood Games is currently Kickstarting a card game, Missing Link.  He took a few minutes of his time to answer some questions about his Kickstarter.

Tell us a little about yourself and your gaming experience.

Hello everyone! My name is Duncan Davis and I am a game designer. During the day, I am a Ph. D. Chemical Engineer at North Carolina State University. I work with polymer origami (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjfhfqAv1mI). I am the 2nd of 5 children and have been playing games like Bridge, Magic the Gathering, and Acquire since I was 6 years old. I grow up in Rhode Island – the smallest state with the biggest imagination!

How did Missing Link come about?

Missing Link came about because I once took a physiology exam to test creativity and one of the questions was to come up with as many ways to use a brick in a given amount of time. I had a lot of fun with the question and tweaked the idea a bit to turn it into a group deduction game.

Could you give us a brief description of the game and why you are so passionate about it? 

The active player draws two objects from the deck, reveals one object, and keeps the other one hidden. That player provides hints to help the other players guess the name of the hidden object. The trick is that all the hints must be true about both of the objects.

For example: If you had an apple card and a skyscraper card, you might reveal the skyscraper and and say “Both objects are associated with New York,” “These are both bigger than a strawberry,” etc. When someone shouts out APPLE! They get one card and you keep the other. The first player to get to 7 cards wins.

Each card is a one-word, physical object. This helps because people always have physical characteristics to work with – you can always compare size. The active player has 2 minutes to get another player to guess the hidden object (although new players get to wave this time limit).

What do you feel separates it from other party games of its nature?

Missing Link makes you think in a very different way than any other game on the market. You are restricted in what you can say in a very interesting way and many times you have to take a few turns before you get a handle on the game. One of the goals I have as a designer is to make fun games that secretly teach you something important without the player realizing. Missing Link does this beautifully because it helps players become more creative. By making you think in a new way and compare things with nothing in common, you have to be creative with your hints. A Wack on the Side of the Head is my basis for making this claim – if you are interested in creativity, I highly suggest you read it (it is a quick read)!
What do you see for the future of Missing Link?

If Missing Link does well, I plan on releasing a ‘dirty’ expansion focused more on adults. I think that players will have a blast trying to compare objects that are more risqué then an apple and an elephant.

5 Questions with Michael Lawson, MACE 2014 GM of Brain Case Trophies Events!

Tell us a little about yourself and your experience in gaming?
Hello! My name is Michael Lawson. I am 48 years old and I currently live in the Atlanta Metro Area. I am originally from the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and that’s where I started gaming in… oh, 1980 or so. AD&D, Gamma World, Boot Hill, Top Secret – all the TSR games from back in the day. Other games include Traveller and Space Opera. And Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. I guess that makes it about 34 years of gaming. Still having fun!
What is Novus Ordo Seclorum?  How did you get involved?
Novus Ordo Seclorum is a Chicago based group of gamers who have been bringing their “A”-game to Gen Con since 1985. My first Novus round was back in Milwaukee, the last year Gen Con was in Milwaukee (2001?). The experience forever changed me and showed me what horror role-playing was all about – or what it could be. Every year after that event (held in the locker room of the ice arena where the RPGA games were held, across from the main convention hall!), I have tried my best to get into their games. And it’s hard to do considering there are more people who want to play than open slots. They run the Cthulhu Masters tournament, and in some years, a Novus Round (both elimination style tournaments, where 1 or 2 players from each session advance to the next round, until there is a final round and a winner proclaimed). Other Novus games come up occasionally that are not run tourney-style. I can tell you this, if you see one, get a ticket if you can. You will have great fun and role-play with some of the best RPG’ers out there! I got to the point where the only games I go to play at Gen Con are Novus rounds. For me, others just don’t compare… with the exception of the “You Too Can Cthulhu” games. They’re run by folks from Minneapolis/St. Paul MN who have ran the Masters a time or two as well. The year before last, I made it to the finals for the Masters. Awesome fun, but the Mi-Go Brain Case Trophy still eludes me! Last year I tried my hand at helping out to run the Novus games. I realized how much hard work it is! I think going forward, I will play Novus rounds at GenCon, and that is why I’ve started to look for events like MACE, where I can run a CoC game and to help “pay it forward”. By that I mean, take what I have learned on how and why Novus rounds are such a blast, and try to create a similar experience for other players. Above all, it has to be fun for everyone.
How would you describe the perfect game for you as a player?
Perfect game? I’ll say it again: it has to be fun for everyone at the table. Then, I suppose the best games I’ve been in is where the players are able to carry the story forward. A GM can stage the scene, but the particular script is best when it comes from each player as their character. The perfect game for me is one where the story takes on a life of its own… and becomes a shared collective experience for players as well as the GM. Each player stays in character 100% of the time (because they want to and just are in character, 1st person) and table-talk and meta-gaming is kept to a minimum. You know you’ve been in a great role playing game when everyone stays at the table, talking about their shared experience, their characters, the story… it just is apparent when the game has transcended and become more of an experience then an event at a convention. Atmosphere, props… music… anything that helps to craft that experience goes a long way in helping with the suspension of belief which is I believe is core to “my perfect game as a player”.
What makes the Lovecraftian Horror most appealing to you?
Good question. I guess it has to do with how precarious our existence is… how chaotic, random, cold and indifferent the universe is, in my opinion. Despite all our technology and hubris, we really don’t know what’s out there, do we? Or what the “true nature” of reality is. People say, “Every thing happens for a reason”. Malarkey. Most everything is the result of an innumerable number of events that came before it that set things in motion… in combination with even more random factors that simply happen for no reason. Lovecraftian horror admits to the reader the truth that our minds and our capability of understanding the true nature of the Universe – is limited. Very limited. As a protagonist in a Call of Cthulhu scenario – at the game table, or as a character in a story – characters most often start out as “regular” people… who for various reasons, get caught up in some horrible fate that gives them insight into this “horror of knowing” and/or glimpses of some awful “thing which should not be”. Characters become “tainted” by this knowledge and most often pay a price for it. Remember, Call of Cthulhu is the only game I know of where you can have a great time and still see your character go insane, die… or worse…
What other games are you involved with?
Sadly, since moving to Atlanta I don’t get to play much (hint: I’m always on the look out for a good group of RPG’ers to play with in the Atlanta area!). Other games I like to play: Pathfinder. Hated DND 4. Excited to try DND 5, I hear they fixed it. Traveller is a classic game I still enjoy. I’ll try any role-playing game. My buddy in Atlanta is teaching me to play StarFleet Battles (a board game – I probably got the name wrong). “Are you a werewolf” is fun. I just bought the card game “Gloom” at GenCon – hoping to get my family to play as they don’t enjoy role-playing like I do. I can say I’ve had some of the best time gaming ever in LARPS at cons. I’ve also had the worst time ever playing in LARPS at cons… so I know they can be very fun… you just have to know which ones to sign up for. Oh! One of the best RPG games I have ever played campaign style (non-con, regular weekend schedule with friends) was a Star Wars game, which is no longer in print. I have come to learn there have been several versions of Star Wars RPG… wish I could remember the exact name/version of that one! The game system was awesome and I was so surprised at how well the game mechanics for being a Jedi worked. It was fun! I want to play again. I have to say one of the biggest reasons I love classic Call of Cthulhu is the game system. Its so light-weight, it doesn’t get in the way… and puts the emphasis on role-playing, and of course, having fun.

The Dawn Colonies

115844The Dawn Colonies
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Dawn Colonies is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

I asked John Watts once what TV show he would relate his setting to, I predicted correctly that he feels it was most like Firefly.  In many ways, it really has that feel – the grittiness, and the feeling of being a western in space.  However, at the same time, it addresses a lot of the things that Firefly and the subsequent RPGs ignored – the realism, the vastness of space and the isolation one planet can feel.  It keeps a lot of the adventure local, instead of planet hopping across the universe.  It is that sense that makes it attractive to me.

Expanding out past the Clement Sector, the fine people at Gypsy Knights take you to a new sector of space called the Tranquility Sector, which is located near the Clement Sector and connects to the Cascadia subsector of Clement.  As opposed to Clement, Tranquility is a frontier, where the factions of the Clement sector have moved past their disconnection from Earth and followed their continued desire to human colonize the region.

From the website:
“Four colonies on the edge of the frontier!”

There are four colonies presented in this sourcebook, each less than 50 years old.   They are fairly young as compared to the Clement sector, still struggling and developing to live on their own.  There are also several unexplored systems with simple letter-number designations left for GMs and players to adventure to.

The Cascadia Colonization Authority (an organization from the Clement Sector) was primarily involved in the settling of two of the worlds, Dawn and Tranquility.  Although considered independent worlds, they have considerable ties back to the Cascadian government.  Dawn, the more populous world, is quite literally a frontier farm world, with two major cities and controlled by the Lawson family.  Tranquility is a mining world in the neighboring hex to Dawn and supports a small mining facility.

Argos Prime is an independent world primarily colonized by ethic Slavs and Greeks from Clement.  It is a cold world, with much of surface covered in snow and sea-sized sheets of ice.  The population primarily lives under these sheets of ice and these “ice windows” are also a tourist attraction.

Bicocca is the final and youngest of the new worlds, settled by colonists of Italian descent.  It is seeking out any and all colonists willing to come and is slowly growing as a settled world. Bicocca is an earth-twin that has one small city that houses almost 1300 colonists.  It is a world with a lot of potential for growth and colonization, and that potential is waiting to be tapped by the players.  It is a simple and very welcoming world and a great colony to originate a character from.

In each system entry, a little more detail is given about other worlds in the system.  Sometimes these worlds are uninhabited and are waiting to be explored while others have outposts on them.  But most of the solid bodies in each system are at least mapped out with very attractive full color rendering.

From the website:
“The Dawn Colonies are the only settled worlds in Tranquility Sector.  Located to trailing of Clement Sector, Dawn Subsector is the spearhead of colonization into this new sector.  The last stops before heading into the unknown!”

Following the system descriptions, a short section on making characters from this subsector is presented.  It contains a simple table of backgrounds skills for character from each of the colony worlds.

Key to a “frontier” region of space is the adventuring and encounters.  It is totally different from adventuring within civilized space.  The final pages of the book are dedicated to just that.  It mentions the published adventure series that is also available in PDF but also describes ways that a GM can design adventures and the various ways characters can find it in the Dawn subsector.  Dawn subsector is significantly different from the other subsectors of this line and I am glad they put this in the book to get that point across.  One very good idea is a way that a GM can make the Dawn subsector his or her own: base an entire campaign on the settlement of one single system.  The text gives enough ideas and inspiration for conflicting interests from the Cascadia subsector and the growing criminal elements within Dawn.  A GM could have years of adventuring with just that, with a little work.

The book closes with random encounter tables and stats for various creatures found in this region, enhancing the “frontier” feel just a little further.  Call me petty, but I like to have a picture of the creature along with those stats but I understand that art for that can be expensive.

In conclusion, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the first half of the book when I first got into it, but as I read through it, it got better.  It is not one of Gypsy Knights best works but it does create a new level of potential in the Clement sector setting.  It also can be used in other Traveller settings if a GM so chooses.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG SupplementThe Dawn Colonies” check them out at their website http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com .

Codex Rating: 12

Product Summary

The Dawn Colonies
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Type of Game: RPG Supplement
Author: John Watts
Cover Art: Fotoila: Algol
Artists: George Ebersole, Ian Stead, kraifreedom, Angela Harburn
Editor: Curtis Rickman
Number of Pages: 50
Game Components Included: One PDF sourcebook
Game Components Not Included: Core Traveller rule books
Retail Price: $6.99 (US)
Website: www.gypsyknightsgames.com  

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Rapture: The End of Days RPG

Rapture: The End of Days RPG
From: StoryWeaver Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Rapture: The End of Days RPG is a new RPG Core Rulebook from StoryWeaver Games.

The Rapture has been the subject of various books and movies and all have approached it from a similar fashion – portraying it as something in the near and foreseeable future.  No one that I have seen before this game has ventured out and asked the question “What if it happens way far in the future after man has found ways off this world?”  Rapture: The End of Days is a game about that very thing.

From page # 5:
“Welcome to the end of days … After centuries of war and strife, seven great nations arose to enter an uneasy peace.  Humanity was once again rebuilding, with science blossoming and a new discoveries heralding a true renaissance.”

SETTING

The book opens with a focus on the rules system but to me, it’s the setting that really sells it for me.  So that is what I am going to cover first.  The game itself has a strong focus on storytelling and plot, and less on rules, so it only made sense to start wherethe story begins – the setting.

Players are characters called Mortals – human beings that were living or otherwise located in one of the disparate colonies spread out over the known worlds – called Human Occupied Space.  The year is 2645 and The Rapture happened.  The Earth went through years of war, rebuilding and finally prosperity under a new order and after colonizing many extra-solar worlds, God decided to fulfill his Biblical promise.  All the worthy souls on Earth (those that believed in God’s Word) were accepted into Heaven while the others were left behind, including all the souls on the extra-solar colonies.  Meanwhile, the gates of Hell have opened on Earth and demons are pouring out, claiming domain on humanity’s once beloved home.

Why, do you ask?  That was my first question going in and they have a very inventive and creative explanation that sits at the core of the game setting.  Heaven, Hell and Creation all sit in parallel dimensions.  For every location in Creation, there is an equal location in both Heaven and Hell.  Unfortunately because of their nature, demons never bothered to create space travel to traverse their version of space, so for now, Mortals on other colonies were saved simply by distance.  But demons can find ways around that and do so when they can – like entering Creation on Earth and finding a means to travel within Creation to the other colonies.  Also, a less-than scrupulous human could summon a demon from beyond to any world in space; however, that is a rather arduous task.

The book describes the stellar-political topography of a post-Rapture Human Occupied Space, giving the history of and general political structure of each of the major Earth powers that have colonized the known worlds.  These include the Sino Block (part of Asia primarily dominated by the Chinese), North American Alliance (a socialist alliance of the remnants of the US and part of the American continents after the collapse of the US Government), the Southern Union (parts of Southeast Asia and Australia), and the Democractic Russian Union (a Representative Republic Russia reborn out of the ashes of a chaotic Russia).  Along with these faction are the Corporate entities that dominate certain regions of space.  There are eleven corporations listed and all have very unique and interesting backgrounds.

There are several dozen colonized worlds, some Earth-like (Earth Analogues) and others terraformed.  The Earth analogues are not perfect copies of Earth but at least have the basis to minimally sustain human life.  Technology covers the rest of it in some way or another.  The terraformed planets are expected to take multiple generations to complete, and the results are not guaranteed.  There are also “orbitals” or space stations that maintain populations.  There are also abandoned colony ships called space hulks that are still being used by fringe groups.

Below the national or corporate identity, some characters might have an affiliation with a known faction.  Factions here are presented mostly as religious groups, like Xeno Retionalism (people that believe this “Rapture” is some kind of alien attack), Paganism (a blanket group that covers any non-Judeo Christian or Islamic based group), Biblical Inerrancy (groups that believe their version of the Bible is the true Word of God), and Humanist Emancipationism (a strange group that believe that God made a mistake starting the End of Days).

Technology in 2645 is not all that much different than what we are familiar with, to some degree, at least according to the writers.  The “cyberpunk revolution” never happened and the tech just got bigger (or smaller), faster and better.  Two major advancements help conquer the tyranny of stellar distances – Photonic Teleportation Arrays (PTAs – communication devices that allow for near instantaneous communication over stellar distances) and Gravity Drives (allowing for travel over stellar distances in relatively shorter periods of time while isolating the vessels from the effects of relativity and time dilation).

Man not only faces the danger of space and the alien worlds they live on, they face the new threats from the Rapture and from Hell.  The creatures are presented in the same style as the rules (see below) – rules light and simple.  They range from the generic Unclean Spirit, the fallen angels of Legion, and Zombies.  There are also alien predators like the Dragons of Brilliance, Shark Gods, and Cannibahls.  There are also more modern threats like Insane AIs.

Supernatural powers exist but are treated very Biblically.  Anything that is not of God is evil and thus much of the powers are routed in evil, hubris or Satan.  Man continues to latch on to the hubris of human science and rationalization, so not many humans have powers.  Many creatures; however, have them and they are expanded up in this book  The most a human can do is exorcism and that is not an easy task to do.

From the website:
“The legions of Satan are real… And they are coming for you.”

SYSTEM

The designers of the system called it “rules light” and “a narrative system”, with a strong focus on story and character and less on combat, tactical and technical stuff.  They also say upfront that this is not a good beginners RPG.  I found that honest and to the point.  I admire a writer with that level of honesty.

Character generation system is usually where you get the initial feel of the system and this game is no different.  Creating a character in Rapture is very rules light and simple.  There are 3 primary stats (Mens or Minds, Corpus or Body, and Potentia or Soul) and the rest is content that the player makes up.  There is a real simple skill list where a player picks 3 to be good at and the rest are left alone.  In total, there are 10 easy steps to creating a character and much of it is like “Choose a Profession… Any Profession is fine” or “Write down a Personal Goal” or “Write down your Redemption Task.”

The main way to gain experience and grow is to die.  The experience stays with the player and affects the next character he brings in.  If a character dies in some glorious, biblical, self-sacrificing way or in a way that really drives the story, the group of players can vote on it.  If the death was voted to be suitably memorable, then the next character that is brought in gains an extra attribute point.  This is a very unique concept and a real differentiator to the system.

The system is basically a d10 dice pool system. One of the three primary attributes is always rolled and if a Hero’s Skill applies, add more dice to the pool.   The GM determines a Target Number between 2 and 10, and in most cases the Challenge will require between 1 to 3 dice to be equal or greater to succeed.  Challenges and Combat are very abstract and sometimes, especially in the case of combat, can be decided in one role.  Combat is very abstract and designed to be simple but deadly.

As the game has a horror component to it, there is a Fear system.  True to the spirit of the entire system, it is simple but it also interesting unique and creative.  Fear are points that build up during the course of an adventure, either through taking damage or experiencing something horrific.  But there is a good side as well as a bad side to them, thus there is no choice or test when a character takes Fear points.  As a character accumulates Fear, he gains extra dice in his physical stat.  However, the down side to Fear is the that it effects the other two stats equally in a negative way.  There are ways to overcome one’s Fear but it is difficult and has consequences.

Hand in hand with Fear is Madness.  What horror game would this be without some kind of sanity.  Madness in this game is caused by a specific type of Unclean Spirit called a Madness Spirit.  For those previously effected by such spirits, gaming Fear can cause manifestations of this madness.  There is a simple system and a table to consult and the players is asked to roleplay the madness in whatever manner moves the story along well.

Another aspect of this game that I find interesting is common to a lot of these rules light games.  The players have nearly as much control over the story as the GM.  In certain situations, the GM is encouraged to let the players describe situations after Challenge tests, etc.  This is not overly unique but it does make the game interesting and more attractive to those that like these types of narrative games.

In conclusion, my first impression of the game is that it was a little too “hippy” for me and I wasn’t sure about it.  Being a Christian, the subject matter did not put me off at all and in fact, drove my curiosity.  As read, the setting was very attractive and I kept on thinking of it in terms of other systems like Savage Worlds or True20.  But in truth, although those game systems would be interesting to try for this setting, it would be a totally different experience and certain aspects of the game would be lost.  The system itself fits perfectly for what the writer wishes to accomplish.  It’s elegantly designed for the setting and very simple.  It has a certain nuance to it that makes it engaging and I am already thinking of ways to run this at my next con.

For more details on StoryWeaver Games and their new RPG Core RulebookRapture: The End of Days RPG  ” check them out at their website http://www.storyweaver.com.

Codex Rating: 16

 Product Summary

Rapture: The End of Days RPG
From: StoryWeaver Games
Type of Game: RPG Core Rulebook
Written by: Joe Sweeney
Contributing Authors: Ray Duell
Game Design by: : Joe Sweeney
Art by: Kascha Sweeney, Mark Person
Number of Pages: 133
Game Components Included: 1 core rulebook (PDF)
Retail Price: $14.95(US)
Website: www.storyweaver.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Interview with Eloy Lasanta, creator of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 2nd Ed.

Interview with Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games, and Kickstarter for Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 2nd Ed.
Hello, Mr. Lasanta.  Thanks for taking the time to interview with us again and spotlighting your Kickstarter, Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 2e.

Thanks for having me!

How did the Kickstarter for Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 2e come about?

Well, we released the first edition of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. (API) almost six years ago. While the game line has been successful and is still picking up new fans all the time (mostly from conventions), we at Third Eye Games decided it was time to update the system to the caliber of our current design philosophy. Along with that, we decided to advance the timeline of the setting a bit as well and pump it full of  more awesomeness. It took a lot of thought to really decide if API would receive a second edition, but in the end we’re VERY happy with the stellar version of the game we’ll be releasing soon after the Kickstarter.

What are the major changes to Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. from 1st edition to 2nd edition?

Oh, I already started to touch on this in the last question. Essentially, we’ve taken the framework that existed mechanically for Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. and rebuilt it. So, it’s essentially the same game, but fine-tuned to really deliver the best API experience that it can. Instead of generic Passions, we’ve now got company specific Reasons. Instead of lists of Skills and different skills working different ways, we’ve streamlined the mechanics so it all plays smoothly. Instead of hyper-strategic combat, we’ve reduced it to what will give the most strategy without as much math. Every decision made for API has been to make the gameplay better and root out the things that may have complicated the first edition.
Best part is that all of the new things we’ve created for Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 2nd Ed (API2E) will also be converted to Savage Worlds, so that our Savage fans can integrate these new additions into their games as well!
Beyond the elevator pitch, how would you describe Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. to a person that has never heard of it?
The elevator pitch, of course, being: “Action Horror RPG with a twist of humor.” It basically takes all my favorite things from media like Men in Black, Hellboy, Ghost Busters or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and mashes it all into a single RPG which is full of monsters to slay, negotiations to be made and laughs to be had in-between. You can play as one of 20 different races, from humans to giant fish demons to slime creatures. This game isn’t just about taking out bad guys, though. Sometimes, it’s just to maintain the piece or whatever else the company needs you to do (on a budget). There are a lot of different approaches to staying in the black, and it’s up to the agents to pick the correct route that will please the company the most.
What inspired you to create the world of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.? 

Great question! I was honestly looking for a kind of game like this to play that appealed to my mechanical sensibilities. The closest was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, which was great but carried a lot of baggage along with it that either made it harder to find players or to play outside of the established plot when you could. So, i started from scratch and took it a step further… “What if you were enlisted to help fight against and regulate demons on Earth, but what if it wasn’t a government thing? What if it was a company who also had to stay in business?” Then Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. was born (of course, that was a placeholder name that the playtesters loved, so we kept it).

Among other things, I think it was also my inability to run anything without a little bit of horror in it. The “twist of humor” part of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. is just as important as the action or the horror parts, because it adds the kind of levity and fun into the game (and the setting) that I love. There are a lot of games out there to take themselves way too seriously, and API isn’t one of them. I wanted more than just “the latest dark monster hunting game.” I wanted something that was unique and really filled a niche that I could feel proud to put my name on.

What are you most proud of with respect to Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.?

I think I’m most proud of API’s longevity. Six years of sales is not by accident. I’ve seen a lot of games be released and then go out to pasture and not so for Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. I think it strikes a chord with fans of twists on pop culture monsters and general humor hidden underneath all the horror of the game line. Along with the original corebook, we’ve released 5 sourcebooks for API (API Worldwide: Canada, Demon Codex: Lochs, API Worldwide: Europe, Demon Codex: Spectrals and API Worldwide: South America), each adding to the world in new and crazy ways. That’s why the current Kickstarter has goals to update these sourcebooks to both the new 2E rules, as well as Savage Worlds. It’s out biggest undertaking with a Kickstarter we’ve ever done, and I think Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. deserves the honor, being our first and long-running game line.

What is in the future for Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. once this Kickstarter gets funded?

Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. will continue beyond the Kickstarter. After we get all of the current sourcebooks updated to both the API2E and Savage Worlds systems, it’ll be about continuing the game line with both systems going forward as well. The next book in the line, which already has a lot of material written for it, will be Demon Codex: Burners with API Worldwide: Japan to follow close behind. There are a lot of great things in API’s future once this Kickstarter is done.

Assuming you find time to play, what are you playing these days?

I do play on occasion, usually card/board games that I get to play with my kids. Been playing a lot of Sentinels of the Multiverse in that respect. Been playing some of the Firefly RPG from Margaret Weis Productions, which is pretty awesome, and I may be joining a group soon to play some 5E (haven’t gotten the chance to play that one yet). So, I’m doing pretty well with playing lately (which is a lot more gaming than I’ve gotten in the last year).

Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us.  Good luck with your Kickstarter.

Thanks a lot, Ron!

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide
From: Paizo Publishing, LLC
Reviewed by: Steve Constant

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide is a supplemental guide for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game from Paizo Publishing, LLC. It is to be used with the Iron Gods Adventure Path or to introduce super-science into any campaign.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – Arthur C. Clark

With that introductory quote, Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide makes the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game one the most diverse sandbox roleplaying game settings.

(Sorry Savage Worlds. Please don’t blackmail me.)

I think it’s fantastic, to quote my favorite Doctor. And terrifying. Here’s why – this roleplaying supplement book is the end product of all the players constantly requesting and asking their game masters to allow them to use items and weapons not found in their campaign’s fantasy setting. Starting with the mighty Gary Gygax and the published 1980 adventure module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, it continued on through each version of Dungeons & Dragons until the creation of Pathfinder by Paizo.

Each time, the introduction of a science fiction motif into a fantasy genre game has only resulted in a few cool gadgets, weird alien monsters, a few crashed spaceships-themed dungeons, and a new roleplaying game or two. But now, with Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide, something else has occurred – it is a new science fiction genre game using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules set. And, even more strangely and amazingly, it works.

This supplement is divided into three parts. The first is ‘Technology in the World.’ It breaks down new Feats, Spells, Skills, and Class Abilities that can be used with super-science. The second is ‘Technological Equipment.’  It is a staggering thirty-six pages of new technology-based gear with art and in-game uses. The third is ‘Technological Hazards and Artifacts.’  This covers the odds and ins of using technology and how they have interacted with the Pathfinder campaign setting.

The first section, ‘Technology in the World,’ borrowed lessons learned from psionics and added game mechanics to an existing system, simple and sweet. With a single Feat, pre-existing Skills gain new uses for technological items. The Feats also add to the flavor of setting by adding anti-technology sentiment, thus helping characters who care nothing for super-science by just smashing it to bits. New Spells and Class Archetypes allow for genre-specific modifications of the core classes. Plus the addition of a new prestige class, Technomancer, allows for multiclassing in Pathfinder when in recent additions to the game it seems as though it hasn’t been encouraged.

The second section, ‘Technological Equipment,’ is overwhelming. It is the reason why this book was written. New and unique weapons, armors, pharmaceuticals, cybertech, and technological gear is organized simply with easy-to-read reference charts. It is also important to note that this isn’t all of the super-science gear that will be in Pathfinder. Some technological gear was presented in Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars and will be introduced throughout the Iron Gods Adventure Path.

The final section, ‘Technological Hazards and Artifacts,’ introduces realistically scary dangers that the players will face and treasures they could find. Timeworn rules set, radiation, technological traps, and insane artificial intelligences are detailed, along with treasures that are standard items in true science fiction-based roleplaying games, such as powered armor.

Conclusion? I equate the Technology Guide to the psionic rules set of Dungeons and Dragons game. Each game master must make a decision – whether or not to allow psionics into their campaigns. Super-science will have the same unbalancing effect as psionics. It will be just as complicated and hard to follow. Unless the campaign is focused on this specific area, such as Dark Sun setting for psionics and Iron Gods Adventure Path for super-science, I highly suggest keeping these additional rules sets locked away from players for ease of game play.

Note: I cannot wait to see more technology-based items for Pathfinder. I personally don’t mind shooting a red dragon in the wing with a rail gun to bring it down. It should be interesting to see how the rest of the Pathfinder community reacts to such an overwhelming science fiction theme in a fantasy game.

Iron Gods is the fifteen Adventure Path published by Paizo Publishing.

Codex Rating: 17

Product Summary

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide
From: Paizo Publishing, LLC
Type of Game: RPG Supplement Rulebook
Authors: James Jacobs and Russ Taylor
Cover Artist: Kerem Beyit
Interior Artists: Helge C. Balzer, Sara Betsy, Milivoj Ceran, Yanni Davros, Joel Hustak, Eric Lofgren, Sam Manley, Leonardo Meschini, Alexander Nanitch kov, Antoine Roi, Mac Smith, Bryan Syme, Jose Vega, Chris Waller, Daniel Warren, and Joe Wilson
Creative Director: James Jacobs
Editor-in-Chief: F. Wesley Schneider
Managing Editor: James L. Sutter
Lead Developer: Mark Moreland
Senior Developer: Rob McCreary
Developers: Logan Bonner, john Compton, Adam Daigle, Mark Moreland, Patrick Renie, and Owen K.C. Stephens
Associate Editors: Judy Bauer and Christopher Carey
Editors: Justin Juan, Ryan Macklin, and Matthew Simmons
Lead Designer: Jason Bulmahn
Designer: Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Managing Art Director: Sarah E. Robinson
Senior Art Director: Andrew Vallas
Art Director: Sonja Morris
Graphic Designers: Emily Crowell and Ben Mouch
Number of Pages: 68 page rulebook
Game Components Included: Pathfinder supplement handbook
Retail Price: $19.99(US)
PDF Price: $13.99(US)

Website: www.paizo.com/