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Infestation: An RPG of Bugs and Heroes

Infestation: An RPG of Bugs and Heroes

From: Third Eye Games

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

The concept of an RPG where you play as an animal dates all the way back to the early ampersand-crazy days, when Dennis Sustare and Scott Robinson adapted Richard Adams’ Watership Down into Bunnies & Burrows. Infestation: An RPG of Bugs and Heroes explores a different area of this niche genre by focusing on insects.

From page 8:
Even with this fight over territory overtaking much of their headspace, a bug’s life is not much different now than before. They exist to serve their colony or tribe, making sure their people have enough food and security to continue growing and taking more of This House for themselves. However, each one now also has a sense of adventure boiling inside its thorax, pushing them to venture further than their instincts tell them they should or attempting to take on predators they would have previously run from.

Chapter One starts off by giving an overview of the setting. The premise is that the insects of a particular house were granted sentience. The how and why are left to the discretion of the Hive Master (i.e. GM). This is followed with an overview of the different types of bugs which have gained sentience (as not all bugs have been so gifted) and their typical personality traits. The overall impression is like a cross between A Bug’s Life and Redwall.

Chapter Two goes over the process of character creation. Selecting a bug type determines the starting values of your attributes (Body, Mind, Charm, and Instinct) as well as what Qualities are automatically received. Additional points are then spent on increasing the attributes. The bug is then rounded out with the selection of Qualities. A bug starts with three Attribute Qualities (which mostly provide bonus dice in certain situations) and two Item Qualities (essentially your gear). Alternatively, Quality points may be spent to take Bug Magic, which comes in two varieties. Concoctions produce a one-off effect that require some basic items to employ. Rituals (which may not be taken during character creation) produce more permanent effects that can only be performed once and require unusual materials, the gathering of which can be its own adventure.

Chapter Three focuses on the house in which these bugs live, referred to in the game text as This House. A general overview is provided for each room type. These are given whimsical names like the Carpet Desert (living room) and the Deep Dark (basement), providing a vibe reminiscent of Low Life. A series of charts for generating random room Qualities and determining which bug types dominate a particular room help out in further customizing This House.

Chapter Four covers the game mechanics, which employ Third Eye’s Pip System. This involves rolling six-siders of two different colors (white and black are used in the text, but any two distinct colors work). When a task is attempted, the player rolls white dice equal to the attribute being used and black dice equal to the difficulty assigned by the Hive Master. Each die with a result of four or better counts as a success. The task succeeds if more white dice have successes and fails if more black dice have successes. If there’s a net of three or more successes (or three or more fails), a great success (or critical failure) is achieved (as appropriate), while a tie counts as a success with complications. A multitude of examples are provided on how each of the attributes can be employed. Opposed rolls work in a similar fashion, but with the attribute the target chooses to resist with being the task’s difficulty. Combat is similarly straightforward. Initiative totals are determined by rolling a die and adding it to your Instinct. Attacks use opposed rolls, inflicting Hits to the resisting attribute. Once sufficient Hits are taken to an attribute (based on the number of linked Qualities possessed), it cannot be used until some healing is applied. This can be accomplished through eating, resting or using Bug Magic.

From page 17:
Why do Giants squish bugs, though? No one truly knows, but many believe it is because bugs now hold the secret to life itself. If bugs are allowed to prosper in This House, they could theoretically move on to populate the world and eradicate Giants forever. It could also be because some bugs keep them around to feed on their blood.

Chapter Five provides advice for a Hive Master on running a game. Much of what gets covered is fairly typical of GM advice chapters seen in other RPGs, which more experienced GMs can probably skim over. Suggestions of the sort of adventures which can occur in Infestation warrant more attention due to the highly unconventional nature of the setting. Following this is a bestiary listing the sort of hazards a bug is likely to encounter in an adventure. The chapter concludes with two scenario outlines. The first involves dealing with a rival bug tribe from outside moving in on This House. The second concerns a toothpick jousting tournament which the various tribes of This House are competing in.

In conclusion, the niche nature of the setting means it won’t have an especially broad appeal. But if you’re the sort who thinks that A Bug’s Life is unfairly maligned, the simple mechanics of the Pip System make playing out similarly themed adventures a breeze.

Rating: 17

Product Summary

Infestation: AN RPG of Bugs and Heroes

From: Third Eye Games

Type of Game: RPG

Written by: Eloy Lasanta, Jacob Wood, and Amanda Milner

Cover Art by: Melissa Gay

Interior Art by: Melissa Gay

Number of Pages: 103

Retail Price (PDF): $8.99

Retail Price (black and white print): $13.49

Retail Price (color print): $22.49

Website: http://thirdeyegames.net/

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

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!

Interview with Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games

Eloy Lasanta is owner of Third Eye Games. Their latest setting is AMP: Year One.

To start off, tell us about yourself and your history in gaming.

I’ve been gaming since 1993 (wow, that makes me feel old) and started my days with RIFTS. I was fairly loyal and played that for years (in addition to pretty much anything else Palladium put out, including Heroes Unlimited). I moved on to White Wolf games and played a lot of Kindred of the East and Changeling: The Dreaming (both under appreciated games, in my opinion). In between all of that, I’ve played a slew of other games like D&D, Hollow Earth Expedition and Fates Worse Than Death, just to name a few. I’m kind of a game-hopper, always trying to find the new game I can try and integrate into my brain and possibly carry over lessons to other games I may play.

Describe AMP: Year One for us in the form of an elevator pitch.

Sure! AMP: Year One is a ten-one supers RPG about regular people suddenly developing powers in the modern day and how they handle this change in their life. Do they continue on like nothing has happened? Do they use their powers for personal gain? Or do they attempt acts of heroism? Their new life is full of danger and hard choices.

Oh, what’s the system like? It’s simple, logical, flexible and approachable, without it having so many choices that players become deer in the headlights. All checks are reduced down to a roll of a 1d20 + a combination of Skills and other modifiers against a Target Number, meet or beat to succeed. Easy to learn and implement and great for new players or those new to supers RPGs.

What works of fiction helped inspire AMP: Year One?

I’d be remise if I didn’t mention X-men, first and foremost. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about the movies, cartoons or comics, X-Men is a huge influence on the feel and ideas of AMP: Year One. People with powers that make them feel like freaks (and sometimes turn them into them) and the danger of letting anyone find out what you truly are are two ideas that resonate a lot within our setting. A couple of other obvious influences are both Heroes, by Tim Kring, and Alphas, by Zak Penn, who I bet were also influenced by X-Men. The movie Push, starring Chris Evans, was another that really influences how the world was setup and how AMPs relate to each other.

What aspects of AMP: Year One do you believe cause it to stand out from other supers settings on the RPG market?

I think one thing that makes AMP: Year One stand out is how rooted it is. There aren’t any alien invasions or robots around every corner. It’s more about how AMP’s relate to each other in a harsh world, as well as the very real threat of humanity. Some may think “but an AMP has superpowers and they can beat up anyone,” but that becomes less the case when mob rule sets in. Humans are scary.

It is also very much about the existence of new beings with powers today. Not based in a world where heroes and villains have run around destroying public property for decades. I think it takes wiping the slate clean and starting fresh to make something that truly stands out, and that’s what AMP: Year One does. It takes away any preconceived notions of what you thought a supers RPG should be and replaces it with a new amazing experience.

If AMP: Year One proves to be successful, are there any additional supplements you would like to publish for the setting?

I’m happy to announce that AMP: Year One has already hit it’s funding goal on Kickstarter, which is pretty amazing. Not only do we have stretch goals to make this corebook as awesome as possible, but we have a five year series planned for the AMP line. AMP: Year Two, obviously following Year One. Each one introduces a new piece of the continuing story, additional powers and character options, and a slew of fun! AMP: Year Two is already in development as we speak.