Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tommy's Take on Hacking 2.0, IZ GM Screen and Oktobermen


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This mini PDF requires Savage Worlds and Interface Zero for maximum use, as it is an overhaul of the hacking rules from Interface Zero. The PDF has a short intro from Gun Metal Games' David Jarvis, explaining why this document was released (folks having issues with the hacking/virtual world/etc)...IZ 2.0 is coming later this year and will provide both Basic and Advanced Hacking rules. This document is presenting the Basic rules in advance of IZ 2.0's release. Some of the changes on the character creation end is that Hacking gets its own skill, some Edges have been removed (like Programming 101 and Advanced Programming) and new Edges are introduced (Cool Under Pressure lets you ignore penalties when a system goes on Active Alert and Interference makes you harder to hack, for example). There are also three Hacker specific Hindrances, with advice warning the GM to not allow them if a character who isn't REALLY a Hacker is trying to take a Hindrance that won't affect him. Hyper Gloves are also introduced (the first example that comes to mind to me is the FBI Agent from Heavy Rain, but you have seen them in various other media). The system for Hyper Gloves is pretty simple, a basic stat set that can be upgraded. The Gloves determine everything for the Hacker: Armor, Damage, Hacking Bonus and Range and can be set into three modes: Control (in case you need to manipulate a gun turret or an elevator), Edit (for heavy changes to things) and Destruction (when you need to inflict damage). Additionally, Hyper Gloves have additional MODS that can be used to provide extra bonuses. The hacking itself takes up the final few pages: Essentially, it's a normal skill roll in Savage Worlds, with the level of security providing a penalty to the roll and the Hyper Glove and/or Edges providing a bonus. Unlike most skill rolls, however, Hacking is NEVER without risk: Any Hacking roll failure will have consequences (determined on a die roll against the table appropriate to the type of security firewall).

WHAT WORKS: That cover art is awesome. I'm not sure what it has to do with Hacking, but that is probably the single most compelling piece of artwork I have seen on an Interface Zero product. I like the Hyper Gloves a lot. It's a clean, easy to modify system that fits the Savage Worlds vein.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, if you're planning on buying IZ 2.0, you might not want to pay for content that's going to be in the eventual release.

CONClUSION: Though designed for Interface Zero, there's not much here that you can't use without it, and it's both inexpensively priced and not a huge document, so if you are running any kind of game in which futuristic hacking would be helpful, it's worth a pick-up. Interface Zero got kicked around (a tad unfairly) for changing "too much" about Savage Worlds, but this is a step back to the feel of SW without sacrificing the unique flavor of IZ.


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: GM Screen's as we know them are fading fast. There was a Savage Worlds GM screen a while back that was clear plastic panels that you could slip cardboard panels for the game you were running in. The Interface Zero GM screen is along those lines...a "do it yourself" GM screen. The three art panels consist of some gorgeously thematic art, running a decent range of IZ material, including an android, cyborgs and mercenaries...(and a cyberpunk street samurai looking figure). The three rules panels include the Gritty damage rules, Zeek fatigue and the Hacking 2.0 rules.

WHAT WORKS: Great art, all the relevant IZ setting rules...about what you would want from a GM screen.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: It feels a TAD cluttered...but there's just a metric crap ton of tables on this thing.

CONCLUSION: Unless you hate GM screens, this is a very good pick-up for $3 if you have access to a good printer. Much better deal than the $20 GM screen standard we've seen in the past, especially if you have one of the clear Savage Worlds screens to slide the panels into.


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Oktobermen is "issue 1" in the Due Vigilance line, fitting in the same universe as the Smoke & Mirrors supplement I reviewed back in January. This is the ICONS version of said product, $5.99 for a 19 page PDF filled with a team of supernatural killers and assassins. Oktobermen is more than just a villain book. I mean, it IS a villain book, but it includes a relationship map for the six members of the Oktobermen, complete with a paragraph on each of the six explaining their viewpoints. The book also includes four common sets of tactics employed by the Oktobermen. The bulk of the book is taken up by the character bios and stats for the six members:

Bookbinder - An escapee from a mysterious organization called The Library, Bookbinder is the most reluctant of the Oktobermen, having joined up when Springheel Jack saved her from The Library. The can use magic in some powerful and freaky ways, like trapping people in stories or summoning literary characters to do her bidding.

The Floating Skull - He is not unlike a D&D Demilich, the floating skull of a powerful sorcerer. He can never use the same spell on a given target more than once. Luckily, he knows 666 of them.

Hexenwulf - Hexenwulf is a werewolf, but not of the common type. No, he's a werewolf of the "wearing wolf skins" type. Heavily resistant to magic, so he's usually the lead man in taking out sorcerers.

L'Enfant Terrible - The prototypical Creepy Kid, born with a soul of evil. Often used to take people by surprised...has a "bodyguard" named Mr. Bear who has a VERY disturbing secret.

Sister Sanguine - A creepy (ex)nun who answers to evil fae and gains powers from drinking blood.

Springheel Jack - A half-demon in charge of The Oktobermen, Springheel Jack is on a quest to consume take a number of souls and become a Lord of Hell. There is even a sidebar explaining how to alter his stats if he succeeds.

Also included are four plot seeds (including two related NPCs) and a set of standees fot the Oktobermen.

WHAT WORKS: Some GREAT character concepts here, as well as some nice tidbits hinting at the larger world (like The Library). I also love the amount of detail as to how the villains operate and treat each other, making this more than just a set of stats.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: My only real complaint is the dramatic art shift from the cover to the interior. I don't think either one is inherently better than the other, though the cover seems to fit the source material better, while the latter fits the ICONS feel better.

CONCLUSION: Another fantastic product by Vigilance Press, providing a slew of baddies that are just downright frightening (in power level as well as concept). At one point, this product wasn't going to be released for ICONS, but I'm glad it ultimately was.

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