Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tommy's Take on Olympus, Inc.

I was going to open with something witty...but I'm not very witty.



Today I'm reviewing Olympus, Inc. by Fabled Environments, powered by Savage Worlds!



ETHICS IN GAMING JOURNALISM DISCLAIMER: I received a review PDF of Olympus, Inc. and this review contains affiliate links to RPGNow. Purchases made through those links may provide a portion of the sales to me and this blog, usually in the form of store credit, which typically gets turned into more material for the blog.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Key facts off the bat:

  • Olympus, Inc. requires a set of Savage Worlds rules to use. It also requires the Super Powers Companion.
  • The PDF is full color, with hardcover and softcover options available for purchase. The PDF is going to run you $20, while with softcover is $30 and the hardcover is $50.
  • The book is 128 pages.
So what's the premise? It's pretty much Greek myth, though it's advanced to the modern age, and the Greek Gods - locked in a holy war with the Titans - have become significantly depowered and control multinational corporations (as part of the Olympus, Inc. conglomerate) that look after their interests. The Titans have Titan Corp, a multinational conglomerate that acts in opposition to The Olympians. Now, it's not all boardroom dealings and corporate maneuvering...while your characters MAY be pencil pushers, they also have superhuman powers derived from a divine bloodline that'll have to get put to use in harrowing missions.

Of the 13 Corporations (and bloodlines) represented in Olympus, Inc., six are included in this book:

  • Aphrodite, whose corporate holdings encompass the world's top online dating service, as well as cosmetics and fashion designs.
  • Apollo, purveyor of music, medicine and energy.
  • Ares, who is largely into the military industrial complex.
  • Dionysus, who dabbles heavily in drugs and alcohol, primarily.
  • Hermes, whose company specializes in communications.
  • And Zeus, who also dabbles in energy, travel and "global justice".
As noted above, this setting calls for the use of the Super Powers Handbook, as the Demigods that the players will create all have abilities far above those of mortal men. For instance, a Venusian Paragon (of Aphrodite's bloodline) may have powers that increase their powers of manipulation, from physical beauty to a commanding presence. A Martial (Ares) Paragon may be able to generate a melee weapon from thin air, punch those who are at range or jack up their Parry score. The Jovian (Zeus) Paragons can fly and unleash lighting bolts, as well as harness the winds and thunder. All Paragons can choose from a Universal list of powers as well (though these are limited, such as Ageless and Divine Attribute). There are Demihuman Bloodlines as well, with the two included in this book being Minospawn (like the Minotaur) and the Satyr. Lastly, some Demigods are Proteans, who have a muddled Bloodline and can manifest powers from any of the Bloodlines.

SIX POINTS:
  • Going the Super Powers Companion route is great. I love the powers system in the Super Powers companion, and between the new powers presented in this book, and the Bloodline limits, it gets the effect of the setting across with flexibility. Only six Olympian Bloodlines are present here, with more coming, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more Demihumans as well.
  • The "Masquerade" is in full effect. That is, "normal" people are not supposed to be exposed to the divine powers in play, and doing so will violate the Nemesis Law, and summon the goddess Nemesis. That's bad. And Nemesis is...mercurial. Maybe she strikes you blind. Maybe she ignores you. Maybe she cuts off all of your powers. Maybe she approves, and boosts your trait and damage rolls (that one's rare...don't count on it happening). So...be careful when using your powers around normal people.
  • There is a super powerful metal floating around called orichalcum, and if you can get your hands on it, you'll want to. A number of creatures are resistant to normal damage, such as the Neo Sphinx pictured on the cover, and orichalcum weapons and bullets even that score up pretty quickly.
  • The writing assumes a heftier level of knowledge regarding Greek myth than I was prepared for, as I couldn't suss out from the writing who the 13 corporations were ran by, for sure, once you got past the six specifically spelled out in the book. This confusion stemmed from 14 Greek Gods name checked in the backstory, with none of them specifically excluded from Olympus, Inc., even though 13 corporations make up the conglomerate. Incidentally, this gets further confused with the number of Paragon bloodlines - 12, not 13 or 14. A couple of the NPCs and businesses were jarring to me, such as club owner Orlando Jones, who is an urban nymph and not a famous voice actor and former MadTV and Sleepy Hollow star. Another one that caused a double take is Dionysus' Cumulus Production Group, which produces movies, TV shows and stage shows, not to be confused with real life Cumulus Media, which is the second largest radio broadcaster in the US.
  • Olympus, Inc. modifies traditional Savage Worlds rules a bit, dumping Lockpicking for Intrusion and Hacking. It also adds a number of suitable new Edges and Hindrances. Hindrances such as Carousing - in which you have to resist being swept up in parties - are appropriate for most Greek God types. Lazy is another one, which requires you to muster force of will in order to complete a task in the same amount of time as a normal individual. Tragic Doom can be Minor or Major, and if it's Major, it means your existence is definitely going off the rails eventually.
  • A random adventure generator is included, in lieu of Savage Tales or a Plot Point Campaign, and it is structured differently than many of the generators out there. You draw four cards to determine the Scenario, the Antagonist, the Motivation and the Reward (all based on suit), and then you go back card to card and use the value to determine the Main Theme, the Start, the Twist and the Main Scene. I love a good random generator, as you all know, and I especially love it if it is constructed differently than ones before.
CONCLUSION: I do love Greek Myths and I love the Super Powers Companion power rules way more than I do the base Savage Worlds rules. I totally believe that was the right way to take this project, rather than shoehorning God level powers into pools of power points. The Nemesis Law also does a great job of explaining why the Demigods don't just run roughshod over everyone, as she can lay her punishment down at anytime and is apparently functionally untouchable, at least in that regard. The concept is certainly unique. The closest thing I can recall to it is Corporia, which is Arthurian legend in a corporate setting. Interestingly, while that one has an AI name M.E.R.L.I.N. - which is said to be THE Merlin - the current incarnation of the Oracle at Delphi in Olympus, Inc. is also a computer. 

This is certainly one of the most unique Savage settings I've ever seen, in concept and implementation. I do look forward to seeing the remaining six (or however many) Bloodlines unveiled. My biggest complaint is the tightness of the setting material, namely which of the Gods are behind Olympus, Inc. and which Bloodlines are still being propagated as that material wasn't immediately obvious from reading the PDF or from searching it. While I don't know that Corporate Greek Gods would be an easy selling for my pool of players (such as it is), I applaud Fabled Environments for doing something new and compelling, both thematically and mechanically.