Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Some Reviews From Recent Shopping

Spending more time with amphibians than gaming online now but this is my recent bedtime reading. I seem to get more interactions there. Getting more dungeon and dragon mags so will go through some of these in future.

Metamorphosis Alpha: Doom on the Warden
A goodman games adventure by Jim Ward. It id similar to the B&W adventures that first came out for the Goodman Games edition of the game. But it has a colour cover hardback. Art and maps are great. It doesn't feel like an adventure with a story or a plot. It explore a new area which is a common play mode for the game. It features a level map and a very powerful bunker in the middle and a military AI at odds with the warden. The wilderness area has lots of weird mutant flowers and berries that lots of gamers might find fun and could be re-used. The enemies are pretty tough.  The art and maps are good but I'm not sure if the value is high especially with the current Kickstarted book in production (hoping lots of art was just placeholders for the final version - a mix of amazing and bad and retro pulp and pretty inconsistent). Its not great value and Im unsure if hardback was worth it for a 30pg adventure plus pregens. 

FrontierSpace RPG
I like the 2 book covers connect into one artwork. In anyways a creation based on Star Frontiers vibe but obviously without IP like races. A few differences are the core races, antigravity (i liked star frontiers lacked anti-gravity and effect on ships), its own setting and some other stuff. It has the vibe quite well. I have played and read lots of travellers but always found it obsessed with heists and military and a few things I find clunky in the setting despite the incredible effort to rationalise and detail. Star frontiers I found cleaner and it felt like an earlier phase of space civilisation vs the thousands of years in Traveller over a vast area you could never see in play. Star frontiers stuff felt new and exciting and you could get to know the frontier and it felt like you were exploring new stuff for the first time. FrontierSpace continues these ideas, is clean and simple. Well illustrated for equipment and vehicles. Missiles and drones seem dated and limited in choice. I do like the summaries of equipment and the tables are very readable. I like the layouts and most of the art. Robots are good. The Referee Handbook has lots of options and tools to make planets, alien races, creatures, psionics and more. It does have tables to generate flawed and improved tech designs for guns, robots and robots. Lots of good space hazard details on table,  mechanical troubles, artefacts, prototype tech, bases and some very nice maps I was inspired by. I would consider playing this more than many SF games as it is clean, organised and has good detail. Skills are interesting too. Id still use BRP Ringworld cos I only know BX, BRP and TSR Marvel but I did enjoy star frontiers box sets (Zebulons guide core mechanic changes and some tech was not for me. The fandom of Star Frontiers is pretty good and the magazines have been stunning (plus lots of Dragon and Ares magazines). Looking at my shelves Star Frontiers and seems more appealing than most to play.

Afterthought: Has bizarre comment about sentient humanoids must be standard for possibly god reasons which i found out of tone with whole game. Precursors or something but seemed out of place in sf game.

Mutant Epoch:
The Mall of Doom
Beyond Red Crater
The Flesh Weavers
(Content Warning)
So I have written fondly of this game before. I use bits of this game and Gammaworld and Darwin's world. The Illustrations are one of the best features and the dense content. A few features of these adventures. They are written like choose your own adventure books and could be solo played and it would help a new DM. You could even re-run them with different results. Box text is less handy for the experienced referee but ok for solo or noob. I've found a few modern games that go for this approach. It is less useful for veterans and it can be hard to find stuff or change if you want it. Despite the huge detail of the world sandbox, these adventures are more linear. It is worth pointing out from reading these they have ethical problems so unsuited to children and some adults. I have commented this game deals with the consequences of being captured. The game features lots of thing like body horror and I was connected to a club where women asked no more alien pregnancy plots in games because they were sick of it. In some ways, the game is brave and realistic for detailing what the monsters do to players and there are reminders in the setting everywhere. Quite a few things for the game include slavery, rape, prostitution, drug abuse, cannibalism amped up beyond any other game. I regret stupid stuff like this in my younger days and how I handled it and would be more careful now. I wouldn't run it with strangers at a con or an open club game - id want players who I knew would react without traumatising them. Autonomy removal in games has lots of problems that most games give you more freedom than you enjoy in life. So in Mutant Epoch if monsters get you they will have sex with you, enslave you, kill you, eat you or all the above. Lots of stuff features say gratefully women you save falling into your arms (no twinks sorry), sexual situations and women victims. 

So my mum ran prisons and I imagine she would say something like this. The monsters won't care about your gender, men will be sex slaves and raped too like the film Deliverance and I'm pretty sure many male players would freak out if their characters were raped. These are encounters where monsters will target attractive females so as the game Is I might be reluctant to play one as the game is. Darwin's world has women less common for reasons and I don't think people consider the effects on sexual culture. The game features lots of monsters that prey sexually on humans using them as reproduction puppets or using appearance to lure (men mostly in this case). If you think your male players won't enjoy being raped your female players will like it less too. As my Mum said men get raped in war and prison and possibly cope worse than women do especially as it doesn't fit the narrative of male mythology. Men in prison don't think of themselves as gay or bi despite sexual conduct and this is a huge can of worms that shouldn't come up in games with your friends. These Issues can destroy your gaming group. Despite these problems, the game is still interesting but having read 3 more books inline the elephant in the room got bigger. Using slavers and sexual predators as villains might be ok but just the issues can trigger some people for mentioning these things. Some of these issues open more cans of worms Villains who don't do anything to deserve killing are a problem too so navigating between these for your group is a thing. 

I prefer to have adventures with a non-fiction approach to locations so I can do as I please with them but there is plenty here to plunder for post apoc games despite the format of the adventure. These adventures have stories and narrative. 
The Mall of Doom has players hired to find missing people in a village. The village has a thriving cult which turns out to be connected to the problem. It has lots of good exploration, hazards and the mall shop tables could be reused for any ruins and this makes the book a good sourcebook. The bad guys are bad and killing them and saving people and rewards are good and there are some good climax boss fights. There are notes on expanding the adventure, maps and art are excellent.
Beyond Red Crater features a dome complex with lots of secrets and great maps and scenes to show players at some key crossroads with a referee map with section numbers to the adventure text which is brilliant and needs to be seen more. You get a chance to go to space here which I always like (then goto metamorphosis alpha setting).  

The Flesh weavers start in a hotel in town where players are resting subject to a horrible monster attack. The monsters are very wet-puppet John Carpenter Thing-like and gross with lots of details and variations. The monsters are really horrible and If you get bitten you might meet it later with your face. So the players are awoken by violence then recruited to hunt and kill these horrible creatures. I'd possibly make them a bioweapon gone rogue and link to some of the Darwins World campaigns detailing such things in The Last God. It's shorter but has a film vibe and could be run in a session or longer. 

All three use the Pitford setting area. There are other smaller adventures for the game available also which are pretty good read also. I do recommend this game but not for squeamish and I recommend some caution with presenting them. They do read well and organisation works sometimes I wish was more modular. Crossroads gazetteer is a huge thick book with post-Apoc settings for years and each location even building has its own encounter tables I would like to be more accessible. Value for money with content and art is good and even though text is crammed in it is mostly readable.

I found another game referring to autism as a partially retarded mutation.

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