Friday, August 31, 2012

Joss Whedon SHIELD series





I am really excited to hear that Joss will be returning to television. I watched Buffy, and Angel, and Dollhouse, and Firefly religiously. I am a fan. The news that Joss is writing/directing a new TV pilot called SHIELD, based in the Avengers movie universe for ABC/Disney is pretty darned exciting!

But, I am trying to get my brain around what that is going to look like. You see, I am also a huge comic book fan and I keep waiting for television to take the plunge and "go spandex" as it were. Sure, I enjoy Alphas, and Heroes, and No Ordinary Family. But, where are the costumes? Why is television so afraid of the costumed superhero? Movies have done it successfully. There's Watchmen, and Kick-Ass, and X-men: First Class, and obviously the Avengers, to name a few. So, I know it can be done. But, I fear it isn't going to be ... That SHIELD is really just going to be another "cop/military/spy show" clone. A sort of NCIS/Homeland thing. Not, that I dislike these kinds of shows, just that TV has enough of them already. I want my costumed supers.

Still, one must have faith, and Joss has a knack for taking a genre and turning it on its ear. And, he's a comic book fan too. So, with that in mind, I try to imagine this new series in the best possible light. To my mind it should be sleek and sexy, part 1960's era Mission Impossible, part Sean Connery's James Bond, part Sucker Punch, with some Scott Pilgrim thrown in. Everyone involved would do well to watch X-Men: First Class to get some ideas about style.

I imagine that the show will have a few "super" agents along the lines of Black Widow and Hawkeye (as they were depicted in the Avengers movie they were more "agent" less "super.") These "supers" will walk along side some well trained "normals." An ensemble of 8 or 9 key players. I see a very isolated microverse where we get the SHIELD helicarrier and it's inhabitants separated from the world (very Dollhouse like) especially at first.

And to satiate the comic fan in me ... It should have super villains ... Real super villains, MODOK, Fin Fang Foom, Kang the Conquerer, Ultron, etc. I see Joss creating a TV comic book universe where normal people must battle the super fantastical every week ... Yeah! That could be cool.

And although my dream of having Joss relaunch Blake's 7 may never happen, I am pretty excited that the SyFy Channel is taking a look at bringing that show back!

Ahh, good times to be geek!


Regards,



Jeff


Friday, August 24, 2012

Doctor Who COOL!!




This might be the coolest thing I have ever seen.

Also, starting Monday, August 27th and running through Friday on BBC1's YouTube channel is the web series, "Pond Life." The series features Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as Amy and Rory and will look at their adventures between trips on the TARDIS. Then on Saturday, Sept. 1 the new season of Doctor Who will finally premier! Hurray!! (Thanks to Ain't it Cool News!)


Regards,


Jeff

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shadow Era





I have written more than one entry in the past promoting free RPG's that you can print and play at your tabletop with your friends, but I don't believe I have ever talked about free-to-play computer games.

I am of mixed-emotions when it comes to micro-transaction driven MMORPG's ... I used to play City of Heroes, but had to stop because I simply didn't play enough to justify the expense. You would think that the free-to-play micro-transaction model would have been the perfect solution. But, I tried it ... And the game had lost something for me ... It just didn't feel "right" somehow. I certainly emphasized with Codex when she found herself fighting to save "her" game from the doom that is the micro-transaction and *gasp* "Apps!" in this past season of "The Guild."

Anyway, when it comes to things like this, I tend to be "dubious" at best. There is a fine line to be walked here. The producers of a game need to entice you as a player into spending a little something or they won't be able to stay in business. At the same time, the "free" experience has to be rich and full enough that players are excited to play the game without feeling that they are "cheating" themselves somehow by not spending money on the game.

There's a kind of "beggars can't be choosers" stigma behind "free to play games," I think. But, if I feel like the free game play experience is designed as nothing more than an advertisement for the "full version" of a game, I feel gypped. It would be like watching broadcast television (remember that?) where it showed nothing but infomercials ... Hmmm ... isn't that what happened to broadcast television? Some things in our world are just wrong. Shadow Era isn't one of them.

Shadow Era is a collectable trading card game. The game is making it's "physical" debut (real cards made of paper and ink) at GenCon Indy right now. So, it seems like a great time for this post. This is a review of the electronic version of the trading card game. I have played it on the iPad and on Windows PC. I have friends who play with their Android phones and tablets. The diversity of platforms that the game supports is a real boon, and I have managed to talk a handful of my friends into playing the game with me.

The game is a lot like Magic the Gathering and games of that ilk and doesn't do anything terribly new. This, to me isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you are familiar with games of this type, you will have no trouble learning Shadow Era. I hadn't played Magic since its 4th Edition, but I felt at home with Shadow Era in no time.

When you sign up for the game (A wonderfully painless process of entering an email address and choosing a password - no waiting; you are playing instantly ... This alone scores high marks with me!) you're given a free starter deck and asked to choose a "Hero." The Hero that you choose determines what sorts and combinations of cards you'll be able to play.

For my first Hero, I chose a Priest, and I got some cards that allowed my Hero to heal herself or her allies. Healing is a Priest ABILITY card. Only a Priest Hero deck can be built to include such a card. I also had Human Ability cards like, "Campfire Stories" that healed all of my allies a little and let me draw a card. And Neutral Ability cards like "Rain Delay" that keeps all allies from fighting for a turn in the hopes that you might draw just the card you need.

In Shadow Era each Hero will belong to one of two factions: Human (which you can think of as the side of 'Light') and Shadow (which one might think of as the side of 'Darkness'.) In the example above I mention abilities related to faction and abilities that are neutral. My Hero is part of the Human faction so she can use Human Abilities to build her deck. She can't include Shadow Abilities in her deck. A hero of either faction can use Neutral Abilities.

Your starter deck will have cards in it that are made just for your hero and you will start playing the game immediately. The help text/tutorial is actually helpful as you play your first games and I had a grasp of things after a game or two.

You can play online with your friends or with random players seeded to play against you based upon your skill and experience. But ...not immediately. Your starter deck is 30 cards, but it requires 40 cards to play online. Now you could hit the in game store and buy more cards immediately with real money, but I wouldn't recommend it.

The game gives experience as you play against the computer. When you level up you earn crystals. In a few levels you have enough "crystals" to get a booster pack or another starter. You can earn those extra 10 cards in no time, and while you're at it, you are learning to play the game and your deck. Personally, I think making players play the game against the computer for a bit before letting them jump into the competitiveness of the online experience is very wise.

The in game rewards that allow you to earn more cards are very fair. I was able to tweak and fine tune my Priest Deck into exactly what I wanted without spending a penny, and I never felt frustrated through the process. Now, that said, I also want to try a Rogue Deck, and a Warrior Deck, and a Hunter Deck, and a Mage Deck. Ah, well ... That's a lot of cards, and if I want to do that, I'm going to have to invest some real cash ... Or play ... A LOT. Fortunately, the crystals that you trade for booster packs are very reasonably priced.

The developers have balanced the free vs. pay pendulum perfectly. And, did I mention the game is fun?

As an RPG Gamer, I love the idea of a deck strategy that is built around a Hero and their Allies. I read somewhere that Shadow Era is very much like the World of Warcraft collectible card game in this regard. I have never played the WoW card game, but the comparison seems logical.

Your starter deck is like a pre-gen character you get to start adventuring. As your character gains experience and you learn the game, you begin to want to create your own character. Building a deck for Shadow Era is a lot like creating that character.

There are 5 kinds of cards in Shadow Era:

The Hero - Every deck has just one of these. The Hero is the foundation around which the entire deck is built.

Allies - these are minor supporting characters, they have their own attack and health totals, and most have special abilities. All Allies are connected to a faction, either Human Allies or Shadow Allies.

Abilities - I mentioned these earlier. These are things that your Hero can do. They tend to be used once and then gone, unlike allies who stick around until they are killed in battle or eliminated some other way. There is a special category of ability called an attachment that hooks onto a Hero or Ally and helps them out in some way. These tend to stick around until your opponent is able to use a counter ability to get rid of them.

Items - There are three types of items, Weapons, Armor, and Artifacts. Weapons and Armor have limited durability and will wear out after a few uses. Artifacts can stick around a long time if your opponent doesn't have an Ability card to play that can get rid of them. Weapons and Armor are equipped by your Hero. Without a weapon your Hero can't attack and must expend abilities to damage his opponent's Hero and her Allies.

Between Item Durability, and Ally Health, and Hero Health, and Shadow Points, (Oops ... knew I forgot something!) Shadow Era requires an awful lot of bookkeeping. Fortunately, bookkeeping is something computers handle easily, and while playing on my iPad, everything happens naturally, and I don't really have to think about it. I will be curious to see how the printed physical version of the card game fairs.

Above, I mention: Shadow Points. There is one final layer of strategy to consider when you choose your Hero. Every Hero has a Shadow Ability (even the Human ones!) and this ability can really have an effect on the game. My Priest Hero has the ability to Heal an Ally for 3 Health, at the cost of 3 Shadow Points.

Shadow Points are the currency for Hero special powers. Every turn your Shadow Point total increases by 1, but using your Hero's Shadow Ability diminishes this total, and the points have to build up in order for you to use your Shadow Ability again. The other cards in your deck also have a 'cost' for play. As you play, you can assign one card each turn as a 'resource.' This card is lost as an Ally, Item or Ability, but it can now be used to 'pay' for other cards, allowing you to bring them into play.

Unlike Shadow Points, Resource Cards aren't expended when you use them, they stick around to be used again and again. As long as you continue to 'sacrifice' a card to your Resource pile, your available resources will grow, 1 Resource in the first turn, 2 in the second, 3 in the third and so on. Most cards cost between 2 and 5 resources to play. There is a real strategy in choosing which cards you can sacrifice and which cards you need to hold onto so you can play them.

Game play has been designed from the ground up for online. On your turn only you are able to act and the same for your opponent. There are no 'interrupts' and when playing online against other real people you have a time constraint. This panicked me in my first few games, but it's really plenty of time, while still making certain each match moves along at a healthy pace. This is also another good reason to spend that time playing against the computer. The computer games will pause for you indefinitely allowing you to read the text of every card for as long as you might need to understand them.

The cards are gorgeous ... Really beautiful ... And the latest release includes digital foils of common cards that are just spectacular! Anyway ... If you enjoy trading card games and get the chance ... Check out: Shadow Era. You'll be glad you did!

Regards,



Jeff

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Five by Five Character Sheet + Some Optional Rules






Recently, Michael Wolf of Stargazer's World posted a plug for Five by Five. Thanks Michael! He also asked if I had ever created a character sheet for Five by Five. As it happens, the last time we played (a Zombie Apocalypse game) one of my players ("Hi, Starbuck!") created a character sheet for me.

I posted about the character sheet then, but the character sheet has changed a little since that post and since Michael was kind enough to ask about it, I thought I would go ahead and do an updated post.

Since the completion of the Five by Five ver. 2 rulebook, a small number of rules changes have occured and are included with the new character sheet.

The new rules and other changes are:

Notice that at the top of the sheet where the various trait ranks are displayed, I have: "Poor -5."

That's your weakness trait.

I changed the term from "Weakness" to "Poor" because players found the term "Weakness" misleading.

People kept wanting to take traits like, "Sensitive to sunlight." This was not the intent of the Weak Trait. It is meant to convey a skill or ability that most take for granted, but that your character struggles with, like: "Cooking" if you can't boil water, or "Smooth Talker" for someone who always gets tongue tied.

You can't roll a -5 or less. This is meant to be interpreted as "roll -1d5" or "roll one less five-sided die." That is, roll 1 die rather than 2, and a result of 0 is (as always) a success.

This isn't new, just a clarification. In the rulebook I use 1/2 to describe a weak trait. I am not sure which manner of notation is best. I changed this to create some consistency in the way the numbers are presented. Neither notation is particularly intuitive.

The other ranks that need explanation are: "Advanced Master" and "Advanced Legendary."

I am playing with the idea of Advanced Traits. These are a special category of traits that can never be used "Untrained." It includes things like, "Brain Surgery," and "Fly Like a Bird."

My idea is that such traits always suffer a Rank Shift Penalty of -2. This pushes the "Untrained" version of such a trait off the chart (making it impossible) and makes the "Novice" version of the trait perform as "Poor." (Do you want to be operated on by a "novice" brain surgeon?)

The new columns are added to create room for advancing players to use their doubles to buy Advanced Skill Ranks at the Master and Legendary levels. The Advanced Skills need to be recorded at their actual level in order to track Doubles Costs appropriately, and then the Rank Shifts applied. Next, there are those boxes with the words: Agility, Brawn, Cognition, and Determination. I borrowed these from A+ Fantasy. For Five by Five, let's call them, "Talents."

One of my players was consistently bothered by the idea that all untrained tasks default to the same baseline for every person. He wanted a more broad reflection of natural affinities like: intelligence, strength, or dexterity.

I had left these out of Five by Five intentionally in the interest of keeping things simple and streamlined, but finally, I relented.

Talents have one word descriptors that determine how they are used.

Challenged - You have trouble with all tasks related to this particular talent. You can notate a "Challenged" talent by placing a subtraction sign ( - ) in the box for that talent.

Normal - Just like any other average person, you are not particularly good or bad at things related to this talent. You don't do anything to notate a "Normal" talent. Just leave the box empty.

Gifted - You are good with all tasks related to this talent. You can notate a "Gifted" talent by placing an addition sign ( + ) in the box for that talent.

By default, everyone is considered to be normal and these boxes are empty.

Talents are optional.

Just ignore the boxes if you aren't going to use the optional talent rules and everything works just as written in the rulebook.

If you do want to use talents in your game, they work like this:

In order to have a Gifted Talent you must also take a Challenged Talent.

For any task related to a Gifted Talent you get a +1 positive rank shift.

For any task related to a Challenged Talent you get a -1 negative rank shift.

That's it for talents.

If you use these rules, you must always consider which talent a task is based upon before rolling a 5x5 action check. Using the rules for talents, not every untrained person will perform every task the same.

Finally, the character sheet shows Experience Points rather than Doubles ... I am considering moving away from Doubles and using Experience points instead. Use whichever you like and keep track of it in this space.

If you want to continue to use Doubles, consider your group's style of play. A group that fights numerous combats in a session will acquire a much higher number of Doubles, than a group that spends a lot of time role-playing. Also, longer sessions will produce higher numbers of Doubles than shorter sessions.

The Doubles requirements for character improvement listed in the rulebook are the result of playtests set in a superhero universe. This style of play was very combat intensive. Since recording these results I have found that other styles of play that are less combat oriented produce much smaller numbers of Doubles.

If you use Doubles your referee will want to adjust the Doubles requirements so that an average session will produce enough Doubles for a player to raise an "Untraned" trait up one notch to "Novice" after one or two game sessions. (The superhero playtest that I ran averaged 15 to 30 doubles per player each game.)

If you want to change to an Experience Point based model, the referee can simply award 15 to 30 experience points to each player following an average game session.

And ... That's the Five by Five character sheet.

I've added these notes and the character sheet onto the existing Five by Five rules document, so just download Five by Five using the link to the right and you'll find the character sheet in the back of the book.

Thanks!


Jeff

Friday, August 3, 2012

Supercrew Review from Game Cryer





The following very excellent review of the Supercrew was originally published on "Game Cryer" and is reprinted here by kind permission of the author.

*******************

http://gamecryer.com/2009/05/30/the-supercrew/
Posted by Steve Darlington on Saturday, May 30th, 2009

RPGs may have begun their journey with fantasy, but from very early on roleplaying and superheroes have been almost inseparable. After all, roleplaying lets us be like our greatest heroes, and for many of us, comic superheroes are our favorite heroes of all. But as long as there have been superhero RPGs there has been the problem with them: most RPGs work by listing the rules on what people can and can’t do, and superheroes are all about breaking those rules. Various solutions have been presented over the years, but perhaps none so distinctive or so clever as that presented in The Supercrew, a brand new Swedish RPG by Tobias Radesäter. Thanks to the wonders of the modern age it’s available to anyone across the world, in English or the original Swedish, in PDF form or a glossy 30 page print-on-demand comic book thanks to the benevolence of Lulu.com

You read that correctly: the entire RPG is in fact a comic book, in full color and a rather jaunty, fun style. Using such a device is risky but Radesäter is deft enough to make it cute and wry without ever being saccharine or condescending. He’s also a great artist and uses comic panels with great skill. The end result is an RPG that’s not just easy to understand but fun to read and communicates its simple but elegant system more effectively and pleasantly than anything else I’ve ever seen. It helps of course that the system is so simple and elegant, reducing everything to a universal mechanic of pooled six-siders, yet still modeling every superpower you can imagine while providing dramatic and intriguing mechanical results that feed the players’ imagination and drive the story. Just as it’s amazing that such a great RPG can fit into a mere 30 colorful pages, it’s amazing that so much game can arise from such a simple system.

The Supercrew has much in common with other simple, one-mechanic d6 systems like that in Over the Edge or the also-cutely-illustrated Risus. As with both systems, players define their abilities to be whatever they want: what matters is the number of dice you roll. In Supercrew, everyone has just three stats. One is associated with one die, one with two dice and one with three. In superhero terms, the two is your most reliable power, the one is the one you fail at most and the three is the big gun you can only pull out for the big finish or amazing victory. In fact, you can only roll your three dice stat by spending a hero point, which you get for “falling down” (ie being reduced to no hit points) or for using your one die stat. This is akin to Hero Points in Green Ronin’s Mutants & Masterminds, which you can only get for losing a battle or suffering complications.

There’s more subtlety here than just mimicking the pacing of a comic book. Games where you can choose your own stats have always suffered from the problem of expansive definitions: players - no matter how collaborative they try to be - will always try to define their best mechanical powers to be as expansive as possible, so they can roll them as often as possible. There is of course nothing inherently wrong with this: for one thing, it encourages creativity and unique game situations; Risus devotes a major rules section to explaining how the cooking skill could be used to defeat ninjas. What’s great about Supercrew’s mechanic is that it loses none of this creativity but still drives players to use their lesser stats. And it does it without using a scarcity mechanic like Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. As long as players are happy to fail, they can keep powering up. This is a beautiful combination of gamist and narrativist mechanics, and one of the few that not only recognizes that players can have both drives simultaneously but caters to both (and in a simple fashion, without the structuralism issues of Wushu).

(There’s also some deep narrative subtlety in choosing your powers. For example, Batman is the world’s greatest detective but in any given story, he usually takes a long time to figure out he’s being set up by the Riddler - and once he does, it’s a an ever-reliable batarang that saves the day. So it might be that his Detective powers would be his one-die stat. Extension work on narrative progression as compared to character power is left to the interested reader.)

It should be said though that failure is rare: a success is any roll of a 4, 5 or 6, and 6s explode, allowing a single roll to generate high successes. This is another elegant mechanic, providing a large range of possibilities and large amounts of information from a really simple dice roll. It is also optional - many situations only need one success to pass. But Supercrew doesn’t rest on its laurels: success count is what it produces and it doesn’t leave them lying around ignored. All tests in the game, no matter what is being done, are based on success counts. Akin to Wushu, Inspectres or skill challenges in 4E, every problem requires a number of successes to solve - but what those successes (and failures) represent is left entirely up to the players and GM (and without demanding one party or another narrate, which is one of the terribly restrictive parts of several indie RPGs like OctaNe and Dust Devils).

The example in the book is stopping the villains from escaping from a bank robbery, a task requiring three successes (from all the heroes). Flying superhero Bullfinch flies up high to see where they are going but rolls zero successes. The player decides that bad guy Fiat Lux clips him with a light ray, knocking him out of the sky. This doesn’t count as actual damage however, just no progress towards the goal.

“Combat” works much the same way as these tests except that the tests can fight back. Having generated the successes to stop Fiat Lux, this notorious villain distracts the Supercrew battling him by starting a fire. Like the escape, the fire has a number of successes to be “defeated” (as do the heroes) but now it also gets stat rolls of its own. Each round, everyone rolls the stat they want to use, and the highest success also goes first. When attacked (be it by a light ray of Fiat Lux or smoke from a fire) heroes can just roll a “reflex defense” of one die to resist, or use a power – but the latter is only possible if they haven’t acted yet, or if they cancel their intended action. In short, they have to take the pain if they want to do as much damage back. This again mimics comics well, where a lot of fights aren’t about trading blows back and forth so much as heroes using their powers to resist attacks until they see an opening.

Damage is the difference in success levels. If heroes take three damage they are knocked out for the scene; if the fire or bad guy or whatever takes their Toughness in damage, they are defeated (for whatever that means). A lot of simple, narrative RPGs turn bad guys into situations; by going the other way and turning situations into bad guys, Supercrew allows situations to have personality. This drives emotional game play, as players will feel angry at the fire when it “attacks” them with smoke or falling masonry, and again drives narrative, as villains and hazards typically work exactly the same way, literally speaking, in most comic stories (see for example, the Batman arc about the earthquake in Gotham City, or any Spiderman comic where dealing with Aunt May is just as crucial as dealing with Dr Octopus).

The other great thing about this system is it allows massive combats to be resolved with simple mechanics, a typical bugbear of superhero games. A hundred ninjas or the Legion of Doom can be just one hazard. And yet they won’t end up feeling the same because like heroes, challenges get tricks they can use to power up their rolls.

For heroes, these are always the same: the ability to re-roll one die roll, the ability to say you generate two successes and the ability to make one die rolled a five (thus adding a simple success). Each hero can do each of these once per game (or story, if you prefer) and again, it’s up to them to interpret them. Typically they are defined at chargen and linked to a particular ability but they needn’t be, and they can link to any ability. You might want your three-dice ability to be generally very reliable, thus linking it to the “two successes” trick, but on the other hand, maybe you want it to be something that is wildly unpredictable, generating a wide range of successes as your power rages out of control, so the “re-roll” trick is a better choice. Choosing when to use these powers and how they help allows players some mechanical depth and fosters further creativity. Meanwhile, the GM isn’t left out, deciding when his Fire will use its “Falling Masonry” trick to do more damage (and drive up the narrative tension).

Unfortunately, Supercrew only provides examples of hazards and villains, not any tips, guides or rules for generating their tricks and powers and Toughness levels. This is a massive flaw in the game and even the list of excellent and flavorful examples can’t quite make up for it. We can only hope and pray that Radesäter releases a GM guide or adventure anthology as soon as possible (or allows me to write one, hint hint) to fill this gap. This would also be awesome because we’d get to hear more about the Supercrew, and they are very cool indeed.

As mentioned above, the entire RPG is told in comic form. Much of this involves an authorial insert character explaining his RPG while wandering around an underground “RPG design lab”, allowing hilarious bits of satire and slapstick to go on in the background. But his examples are all drawn from the Supercrew whose continuing exploits against the evil Fiat Lux grow ever more complex and explosive as the mechanics to support such things are provided. Thus when we know all the rules, we are rewarded with the big-time showdown.

And for all the genius of the game so far, the genius I’ve gone at lengths to describe already, all of it is nothing compared to the staggering genius of this book’s construction and presentation. I’ve always, always been adamant that the most unsung aspect of RPG design is presentation, so that reading the book is not just enjoyable but causes the information to be “taught” in the most elegant way, using style and layout and tempo to teach invisibly, sending the theme and shape of the game into the player’s mind without them even realizing it. But to date no game has ever come anywhere near the teaching mastery of Supercrew. The simple act of explaining the system driving the story rewards the reader for their understanding and makes them eager to read ever onward. Yes, the story is simplistic and the heroism child-like and four-color, but it’s still fun and immensely engaging. It helps a lot that the heroes have a Swedish flair to them (most notably Captain Sweden himself), preventing them from being too similar to American clones. It also rescues them from the bane of 99% of superhero RPGs and settings, which is to be drenched in American comic lore (no, I really do not give a flying fruit bat about the various “ages”, mister designer) and the deconstructionism or “irony” that inevitably brings with it (Truth and Justice, I’m looking at you). All too often, taking superheroes seriously or intellectually crushes the life out of them, and this is true in RPGs as well as comics.

Supercrew is in no danger of this. It is furiously, unstoppably fun, on every page. It is also, despite its brilliant design and nods to satire, gorgeously simple in all the best senses. In fact, if it weren’t for a single swear word, it would be a fantastic RPG for children. It helps immensely in all these regards that it is - like its inspiration - a thirty-page comic book that you can carry anywhere. I have seen nothing so tragic in RPG emulation design as the recent Mouse Guard RPG, where a light-as-a-feather comic book was emulated with a giant brick of an RPG. That was so wrong it caused me physical pain.

In a day and age where more and more game designers are realizing that carting stuff around is a major issue (and is why PDFs are so important), Supercrew is leading the pack with an RPG that is staggeringly complete and enduringly useful in a package more portable than an Kindle. And universal too - although it is full of a love for superheroes, the system will work with nearly anything. In an age of coffee table books, Supercrew also remains a beautiful game, with Radesäter’s art shining off every page and begging to be shown off. And in a lovely conceit, Radesäter emphasizes the lesson of his RPG writing in character design, demanding that players draw their characters and color them in. It’s a little lame and a little forced, but it is so in the same style as the rest of the RPG: with a sense of fun and wonder and engagement that awakens the childlike joy of creation that RPGs can so often bring forth - but so often fail to.

In an age of high-criticism (such as we are in), there is a constant danger in any art form of thinking that light-hearted, whimsical or simplistic works cannot be immensely intelligent, critically observant and unbelievably accomplished. Supercrew is the absolute destruction of that idea, being all three of the latter things without ever once sacrificing the former three. It is light in every possible sense of the word, and it gives off light, illuminating the gaming world, inspiring designers with its genius and players with its uncontained spirit of fun and wonder. It enlightens the mind, engages the heart and warms the soul, and what more could we ask for.

Style: 5 (Undoubtedly the best-written RPG in the entire history of the hobby)
Substance: 5 (One of most elegant and richest simple systems you will find)

*******************

I realize that I have been going a bit nuts over the Supercrew here of late, but I really feel the game is well worth its praise, and as it's now a few years old and the original buzz about it may have died down to make room for the next "new" thing. I really want to do my part to make sure this little gem doesn't vanish into obscurity. It deserves so much better.

Regards,



Jeff Moore