From: Catalyst Game Labs
Reviewed by:W. E. Mitchell
Cosmic Patrol is a new RPG from Catalyst Games Labs.
Cosmic Patrol is a very simple, story centric RPG system. Players take turns narrating their characters’ actions, shooting up slathering beasts from Planet X and battling through space pirates. The person controlling the action, the Lead Narrator, awards great storytelling and the role is shifted through the players during the session. This unique mechanic leads to a varied and fun experience that harkens back to the days of Flash Gordon and Have Space Suit, Will Travel.
From the back cover:
“In Cosmic Patrol, players take the role of patrolmen — the first line of defense for humans in a dangerous galaxy.”
The core mechanic of the game is extremely simple. Character sheets, or dossiers, for patrolmen fit on one side of a standard 3×5 index card. There are six base stats that form the basis for making up the three main types of obstacles encountered in the course of play. The six stats are: brawn, brains, charisma, combat, a special ability, and luck. Each stat is assigned a dice type that represents how good a particular patrolmen is in that area D4, D6, D8, D10 or D12. The better they are at the stat, the higher the dice number.
When patrolmen encounter a challenge, a test, or combat, they roll the dice associated with the appropriate stat as determined by the Lead Narrator (LN) and a D12. Then they add any situational modifiers stated by the LN. For instance, it’s raining acid or the gravity generator went out so this task is really difficult. The roll by the patrolmen is then opposed by the LN who rolls a single D20 on behalf of the NPC or cruel galaxy or malfunctioning doo-hicky. If the patrolmen’s roll (stat die + D12 + Modifiers) is greater than the LN’s D20 then the situation is resolved in the patrolmen’s favor.
Each of the different types of encounters are a variation of that system. Health is straightforward – they can take one or two hits before being knocked out, then they die. This is mediated by armor, cover or other equipment. Each challenge, test or combat is a single part of the whole story. How each patrolmen acts in these scenes is determined by cues on the dossier. These cues are an important part of the narrative building aspect of the game system. They let the player know what the patrolman’s personality is and how they should act based on a simple set of pulpy one liners. Cosmic Patrol really comes into its own when it comes to how the story is built and told.
From the back cover:
“Cosmic Patrol is a rules-light RPG… that is all about creating a story.”
The unique aspect of Cosmic Patrol is the group aspect of building the narrative and taking turns being the Lead Narrator (LN). A campaign is made up of missions that have cues and guidelines that let the players know what kind of story is going to happen. The also serve as prompts to get the creative goo pumping in how the players will narrate the actions of their patrolmen and how they’ll direct the action when they take their turn as LN. The LN describes the scenes and runs the combat, challenges and tests. They award good narrations from players and judicate disputes. The idea with the setting is to have fun and to build off of each other in what happens. The amount of fun will be determined by the players themselves.
In conclusion, this system is one of the lightest, simplest table top RPG rule systems I have used. It relies heavily on the narrator to set the tone and resolve disputes. The character sheets are small and simple and everything is straight forward. While the golden age pulp sci-fi setting is fun, the system is easily adjusted to a variety of sci-fi settings. Players who prefer rule dense systems like Pathfinder or Torg will find this RPG to be a little lean. A whole lot of fun to burn through an afternoon with friends.
For more details on Catalyst Game Labs and their new RPG “Cosmic Patrol” check them out at their website http://www.catalystgamelabs.com/, and at all of your local game stores.
Codex Rating: 16
From: Catalyst Game Labs
Type of Game: RPG
Written by: Randall N. Bills
Contributing Authors: Matt Heerdt, Jason Schmetzer, Phillip A. Lee
Game Design by: Randall N. Bills
Developed by: Randall N. Bills
Cover Art by: Leanne Buckley
Additional Art by: Leanne Buckley
Game Components Included: Sourcebook, Stock Characters
Game Components Not Included: Dice, Maps and Minis, Index Cards
Retail Price: $24.99(US)
Retail Price: $30.03 (Can)
Number of Players: 3 – 6
Player Ages: 8-80
Play Time: Varies
Item Number: C-CAT60000
Reviewed by: W. E. Mitchell