Saturday, February 18, 2012
Tommy's Take on Olympian Breed, Devil's Night and Altus Adventum
Everything in today's batch of reviews has something in common: It's all completely free in PDF format at RPGNow!
OLYMPIAN BREED SETTING PRIMER
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The first release by new Savage Worlds licensee Palewolf Publishing is a the basic character generation primer for their new line of Greek Myth-themed adventures. The PCs are Demigods - spawn of mortals and Gods - and so have an extra edge on the rest of the world. Olympian Breed uses the Super Powers Companion (with a modified Edge that lowers the amount of points available to spend, reducing the power level hat your standard Super Powers Companion game is going to have). The primer also includes a Hindrance for those watched closely by the Gods, as well as a map of ancient Greece, some setting-appropriate equipment and a character sheet.
WHAT WORKS: The big hook for me is the use of the Super Powers Companion combined with the Greek myth hook...two things I love very much. That, and it's free.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, there's just not a ton of material here, mostly a few pieces of equipment, as well as the new Edge and Hindrance. It's also at least a three product buy-in to really get rolling, as you need the Savage Worlds rules, the Supers Companion and the first adventure. The primer also says you would need the Fantasy Companion, but other information I have received indicates that's not necessarily the case.
CONCLUSION: They've hooked me into checking out at least Act One to see what it's like, with the "Greek Myth plus Super Powers Companion" hook. I'm a sucker for new fiddly bits, so I would have certainly enjoyed more Edges and Hindrances and so on, especially since there is no setting book available, just a series of adventures. You can also check out the Olympian Breed pre-gen freebie file to get a feel for the kinds of characters that "fit" the setting.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This is a freebie adventure for Deadlands Reloaded released by Pinnacle around Halloween, in no small part to tie in with the release of the Savage Worlds Horror Companion. As you may know, I'm a huge fan of Savage Worlds and I'm a huge fan of Deadlands. In true Deadlands fashion, it is a unique mix of elements, in this case mad science and black magic. The PCs get involved in a crazed revenge plot gone wrong and are the only hope for raising a group of kids from a coma, but have to deal with a demented invention and a force from Hell.
WHAT WORKS: I like when Deadlands products show off the range of the setting, and this freebie does a pretty good job with that. If the PCs can figure out the root cause of the issue, it's even worse - there are bad guys and wronged parties on both sides of things...but, luckily, there are also "acceptable targets" to take out, too.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Not really a quibble, as this is pretty much an excuse to push the Horror Companion, but you do NEED the Horror Companion in order to get the full use of this product, because the Big Bad of the adventure (and their henchmen) are in that book and not this PDF...but this is advertised up front (and it is a freebie).
CONCLUSION: Not the most inspired Deadlands adventure, but far from the worst...and I am a huge fan of the Horror Companion, considering it one of the most worthwhile Savage Worlds purchases ever.
ALTUS ADVENTUM PRIMER
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: I feel very bad about this one, because I was asked to review this quite a while back, apparently misplaced the file, and have let WAY too much time go by without touching it. Altus Adventum is isn't a retroclone, but it is an attempt at recapturing earlier experiences with fantasy RPGs. The primer is a very meaty 92 page document that covers character generation, combat, skills and even a selection of monsters. Literally everything you need for at least an adventure or two is right here, completely free. The races are fantasy standards (human, elf, dwarf, halfling, gnome) with six attributes (Strength, Agility, Endurance, Intllect, Willpower and Luck) that run a range of 1-100. Combat uses dice pools in which each side compares the highest die in their pools for success. Magic is also included in this primer, with nine different forms to choose from, all operating off of the same basic mechanic, but with tweaks for the type you use. The monsters included cover basic animals as well as orcs, red caps, carnivorous plants and plenty more.
WHAT WORKS: For a free product, this primer has a ton of usable material in it. I mean, we're talking more than some smaller commercial PDF releases. I'm not sure what's missing from the main core book, but it is 204 pages, so presumably there is quite a bit extra there above and beyond the impressive amount of material here.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK: If you've gotten used to RPGs that tend towards using unified mechanics, Altus Adventum's different approach to combat versus skill checks is going to annoy you.
CONCLUSION: Look, I can't complain much about an incredibly complete free product. The primer covers all the rules you need to play, including skills, combat and magic, and even includes a decent amount of setting material, monsters and magical items. If you have any interest in checking out an another fantasy RPG, you have no reason not to at least download the primer...there is ample material here to decide if the full game is worth your purchase or not.