Category Archives: Reviews & First Looks

First Look: Apocalypse Prevention Inc. 2nd Edition

imageBack in 2011 Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games graciously provided me with a review copy of his roleplaying game Apocalypse Prevention Inc. Recently he released a 2nd edition of his game, so he asked me to have a second look.  You can check out my review of the first edition here.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the 2nd edition of API is a much better looking book (or PDF in the case of the digital edition). The cover artwork gives you a great impression of what the game is all about. In API you play the hard-working employees of the Apocalypse Prevention Inc., the only organization standing between us and impending doom in a world where the supernatural is a thing. Think of Men in Black but with the supernatural instead of aliens. The other thing the game has in common with MiB is the humor. API doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes, there can be horror, but it is always contrasted by some tongue-in-cheek humor.

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The layout of the 231-paged PDF is a small improvement over the 1st edition. The “faux clipboard” look works pretty well in my opinion. The artwork is pretty nice too and was obviously created by the same artists as in the previous edition. At first I thought a couple of images were reused, but on a second look I noticed that it’s actually all new artwork especially created for this edition.

I have to admit I haven’t had the time to give everything a closer look, but I noticed a couple of changes from the 1st edition. The most obvious addition are the new races. Players get to choose from a couple of new races including (but not limited to) the dragon-like Draconi, Hunchbacks, the devilish Inciters, the slimy Mucks, and the metallic Synchrons.

Skills have been overhauled as well. Fighting skills have been included in the general skill list and some skills have been combined into new ones. While I was leafing through the book I got the impression that the 2nd edition is a bit lighter and more streamlined than the 1st edition.

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But don’t get me wrong, API’s mechanics are still pretty crunchy and especially combat offers a huge amount of options. Overall the game seems to be all about providing players with a lot of interesting options. The number of playable races is quite huge, there are countless gifts and drawbacks that allow you to further customize your characters and in addition to that the game has pretty large sections on Fighting Styles, Cyberware, and Magic.

Having that many options also means that you can easily use API 2nd edition to run games in different setting. You don’t like some of the races? Just throw them out! You prefer a cyberpunk game with no magic? No problem! Even though the game mixes horror and comedy, you can probably focus on the one or the other.

So is API 2nd Edition worth you money? If you already own the 1st edition and liked it, I’m pretty sure you’ll love the new edition. The rules have been overhauled and there are a lot of new options. It’s also easier on the eyes as well. If you haven’t checked out API at all, I recommend giving API 2nd edition a closer look.

The PDF version of Apocalypse Prevention Inc. 2nd Edition is available through DriveThruRPG and sets you back $14.99.

Preview: Cypher System Rulebook

Recently a couple of fellow bloggers had the opportunity to look at Monte Cook Games upcoming Cypher System Rulebook. Since I wasn’t among the lucky ones, I got in touch with Shanna Germain and she was nice enough to tell me who to contact. And lo and behold, a couple of hours later, I had the PDF in my Monte Cook Games store account. Excitement ensued!

So what’s the Cypher System? The Cypher System is the rules system powering both Numenera and The Strange. The Cypher System Rulebook is a variant of those rules designed to fit various genres. With this book you can play games in the Modern age (with or without supernatural elements) or in the Science Fiction, Superhero, Fantasy, and Horror genres.

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Overall the book is gorgeous. As with the other Monte Cook Games products’ it has a clear and easy-to-read layout and awesome artwork. I can’t wait to get the printed version as soon as it hits the shelves! The PDF contains 416 pages, so the hardcover book will be a veritable  tome. Since it contains no setting information it’s all rules. But don’t fret, the actual rules are only a couple of pages. The rest of the book focuses on how to run the game and contains countless foci, descriptors, and cyphers.

Continue reading Preview: Cypher System Rulebook

First Look: Strange Stars

Strange Stars by Armchair Planet is a game setting book of a kind you don’t see that often nowadays – it’s system-less. The 32-paged PDF contains a complete space opera universe for you and your friends to play in, with whatever rules you deem fit for the task.

imageThe artwork and layout of the book are top-notch and the artwork has a strong 1970’s vibe. The setting mixes elements from the golden age of space opra with more modern ideas like transhumanism.

You might think that $9.99 might be a bit much for a 32-paged PDF but considering the high quality of the artwork and the cool ideas contained in these pages, the price is more than fair. I included a piece of artwork to the right as an example. I guess it also shows what I meant with “a 1970s vibe”. Zwinkerndes Smiley

What I really love about this little book is that it doesn’t provide you with a complete setting, but with broad strokes of a setting with some details thrown in (like the character in the image above). There’s definitely enough material to get you started, but not enough to choke the GM’s imagination. The “bottom up” approach taken in the book helps to evoke images of a huge universe players can explore – much like throwaway lines like “I made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs” etc. made the original Star Wars feel so much greater.

imageStrange Stars assumes hyperspace gates which allow travel of interstellar distances and the book provides several maps which show how the various systems and sectors are connected. Each of the sectors and planets is described in some detail, so that you have a general idea of how the Strange Stars look like.

The majority of the book gives some information on the various planets, alien species, and interstellar empires of the setting. The emphasis is on “some” here, because no aspect of the setting is fully fledged out, there’s always enough space for your own ideas. The information which is there is often weird, exciting and just plain awesome. Leafing through Strange Stars feels much like watching Star Wars for the first time. Trey Causey, the author of the setting, did an awesome job creating something which just screams “PLAY ME!”.

If you don’t mind that the book doesn’t contain any mechanics, it’s an awesome value even for its rather high price. The artwork contained in the book is definitely worth the money and the setting itself is just awesome with a capital A. Alas the only weak point of the product is the cover artwork. For some reason it just doesn’t look as great though it’s still fine. As far as I know there are at least two books planned by Armchair Planet containing rules for Strange Stars: one for Stars Without Number and another for Fate Core, but I am pretty sure a veteran GM can easily adopt the setting to any system.

P.S.: Strange Stars is currently part of RPGNow’s Science Fiction Month Sale. You can get it for the reduced price of $8.49 now. This deal is valid until the end of the month.