It doesn’t happen often that I cover computer games on this blog, but there are a few exceptions to the rule. Today I want to make such an exception for The Banner Saga, an epic roleplaying game inspired by Viking legends, which I picked up from Steam this weekend. Even if you are an avid tabletop gamer, there’s much to love in The Banner Saga.
The first thing you’ll notice is the beautiful, handpainted artwork that gives the game its distinctive style. Nowadays computer games often use 3D graphics but The Banner Saga’s presentation harkens back to the golden age of 2D adventure games. I’ve included a couple of screenshots below for your convenience.
In The Banner Saga you control the fate of two groups of people: an army of varl (huge horned giants) accompanied by the son of the human king and his retinue and a group of human refugees fleeing from the dredge. The dredge are the main antagonists of the story, large golem-like creatures who are waging a terrible war against varl and humans alike. The game confronts the player with a lot of difficult situations and more often then not you have to make hard choices and every decision has dire consequences. Do you allow a group of fighters you meet on the road join your army or you let them fend for themselves? Do you charge into battle or do you pick a more defensive stance? Do you fight against your fellow men or do you avoid that? Do you buy more supplies for your army, or do you acquire items which will help you during battles? Every bad decision may lead to the loss of lives.
Some of you might actually already have heard about this, but I thought I’d share it anyway. Modiphius, the publisher who has brought us the excellent Achtung! Cthulhu setting for Savage Worlds and Call of Cthulhu, is currently running a Kickstarter for the third edition of Mutant Chronicles. Yes, you read that right, Mutant Chronicles is back!
Back in the 1990s Mutant Chronicles was a game I was extremely excited about. The setting combines Sci Fi, horror, and post-apocalyptic elements. Some aspects reminded me of Warhammer 40K, but that was actually a good thing. But it was still unique and original enough to stand on its own feet.
Alas the rules (especially the 1st edition ones) were not exactly to my liking, and I always felt that the setting had a couple of holes and inconsistencies. But I am confident that Modiphius’ 3rd Edition will fix this issues.
The Kickstarter’s goal was set at £11,000 which had been reached extremely fast. At the time of this writing several stretch goals have been reached and you still have about 25 days to decide if you want to back this project or not.
To learn more about Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition, check out its Kickstarter project page.
First things first: this is not a review. I have bought a copy of this game a couple of days ago and I just wanted to share my thoughts on it. With this out of the way, let’s have a look at Rogue Space.
I faintly remember that I already looked at Rogue Space ages ago, but dismissed it for some reason I can’t remember. Rogue Space is a rules-lite SF roleplaying game written by C.R. Brandon that is available as a free pocketmod edition (which includes the most basic rules) and a 114-paged PDF or softcover book available from Lulu (for about 7€ and 12€ respectively).
What interested me in Rogue Space in the first place was the fact that it had ultra-light rules. The older I get the more I tend towards more rules-lite games and especially SF games are usually a bit more crunchy than its fantasy counterparts. So Rogue Space is a welcome change.
Rogue Space uses a simple task resolution system, where you check against a difficulty number set by the GM with the respective attribute + 2d6. If you roll higher than the difficulty number, you succeed. The five attributes used are Fighting, Acquiring, Science, Empathy, and Repair. The hitpoints of the character (and attribute bonuses) are determined by what character archetype you choose. Rogue Space offers the choice between Soldier, Scoundrel, and Technician which should be pretty self-explanatory. These archetypes form the starting point of the character, but are not classes. How you develop your character over a longer campaign is totally up to you.
What I like a lot is that basically everything else is optional. There are optional Psi rules, alien races, cybernetics, specialist skills, and even magic. The book contains rules for starships (which is a must for a SF game) and even with all the options added the rules are still very light. I haven’t had the chance to run this game yet, but it looks like my perfect game.
From what I’ve seen so far Rogue Space can be used with almost every genre. As far as I know someone already created a Mass Effect conversion (which is always a plus). The artwork and layout of the book are nothing special, but that’s only a minor quibble. Overall Rogue Space looks like a very cool rules-lite SF game.