I gave a first take review a while back and I want to elaborate on some things.
The first glance review can be found here. Some discussions on RPG Twitter about freelance RPG writing and just creating RPGs in general got me thinking about this book. That, and my physical copy came in the mail the other day. I’m pretty excited about the game itself.
To sort of echo what I and others have said about the book already, the production quality and the system are excellent. The physical book is marvelous and even comes with a cloth bookmark sewn in. The game mechanics up through what should have been the GM section are outstanding, well-written and easy for new players familiar with D&D to pick up.
Everything from Page 206 onward should have been handed back to the writers, carved up with red ink and exclamation points.
Needs work! Where’s the rest of this?! What were you thinking here? Have you ever run a game in your life? Pages 223-226!?! Where’s the GM Section?! MORE MONSTERS! Did you get in a hurry? Why did you give up?
Sorry, Renegade and RPG family, but I’m really gonna harsh this one. I really felt there needed to be an apology for the non player specific parts of the book. You can’t call it a “Core” rulebook and ignore the GM’s needs entirely.
I get that Renegade wants to sell us more sourcebooks. That’s how most RPGs make money. The company produces a main book with solid mechanics and then lots of sourcebooks with more GM advice, monsters, in this case canon characters, and so on. I have a major issue with the way Renegade handled this in a $55 hardcover and charging print prices for the pdf.
If your main book, and this applies to any RPG that has typographical, formatting and text errors on top of entire sections of the book people feel are missing or poorly done? It’s time to have a long chat with your staff before they do anything else with any other books.
*Please note, I’m being a big meanie here and I hope I don’t trigger anyone at Renegade. Notice I said, “a long chat,” and not “fired outright.” The writers did a good job right up to the monsters and GM sections. Then it’s like they just got in too big of a hurry or something? Or they just gave up to go work on GI Joe and Transformers? I just can’t tell what happened.
I feel bad blowing off this sort of steam on the nice folks at Renegade in public. As an editor, I would have the decency to call you into my office and go over everything quietly in person. I admire and respect what you did, we just needed way more of it. If it helps any, I had two different college professors chew my fanny over my lack of compassion and people skills as an editor.
They should have called it “Book 1” or “Player’s Guide.” I would have felt better going in knowing that the GMs Section wouldn’t be anything spectacular. (Or have one in the book at all for that matter.) I would have also liked to know the monsters were only a sample or examples instead of all-we’re-getting-until-???
Here’s a list of suggested fixes.
No red ink on this one. I promise. I’m probably going to rewrite the monster section and post it on my site somewhere eventually. The rest could come from Renegade as an addendum or something? Or more likely go in another sourcebook at some indeterminate time down the road.
First, the monster section is a good rough start.
– You’ve mentioned Threat Level, but we have no definition to go with it. A breakdown of the monster stat blocks would have been useful a few pages preceding the monster stats.
– The included creatures were cute. More example creatures would have been great.
– GMs would benefit from a quick and dirty monster creation system complete with scaling.
– What was the point of including Finster if you weren’t going to do more named characters such as Rita, Goldar or Zed?
– If a creature has the potential to go “Mega Mode,” why not include the stats for the giant version alongside the regular sized one? What’s the point of having Zords and Megazords if we never get to really use them?
Second, you mentioned an experience system earlier in the book, but then never gave the GM any kind of guidelines for giving out experience. How is this relevant to the players? Okay, some characters start out at higher levels. Why not start everyone at Level 3 and enjoy the full benefits of Zord ownership?
Third, that adventure has got to go. I feel like somewhere there’s a GM at a convention game wondering where his ICONS module went. It’s like someone took a convention game for some other superhero RPG and slapped a Rangers nametag on it. It felt very gamey and not very Ranger-y. Where’s the real Putty battle? When does Morphin become a really good idea?
– Why not include an adventure where the teens with attitudes get their Morphers? Or the team meeting their Zords for the first time?
– Or maybe do a section of scenarios that could build into larger adventures.
– Why not include an adventure format? The Power Rangers TV show tends to follow a set formula. Why not use that in the RPG? It might lead to shorter sessions, but it would be a lot of fun!
– Advice and a scenario for the group’s first Megazord battle would have been fun. What’s more gamer oriented than a giant robot battle?
Fourth, You included a great deal of description about Angel Grove. Could this space have lent itself better to other areas such as a Monster section and a GM section? Why go to the trouble and leave out the map? Couldn’t Angel Grove be a sourcebook in and of itself?
Fifth: If you are concerned with new GM’s running the game for the first time, you’re going to have to give them a lot more than three or four pages to help them learn their part in the game. Advice on building monsters and creating encounters would be extremely helpful to new GMs. If other RPGs can do entire books on the subject, surely we can do better than three or four pages.
Until next time, may the power protect you!