I wanted to go with some that are maybe not as well known as Starfinder. With Spelljammer coming for D&D in August, I wanted to throw some alternatives out ahead of time.
In the mood for a Sci-Fi RPG? Please take a look at these games.
May Fourth’s article got me in the mood for a space game again. There are heaps I could mention. I wanted to go with some that are maybe not as well known as Starfinder. With Spelljammer coming for D&D in August, I wanted to throw some alternatives out ahead of time.
Frontierspace byDwD Games. With a new (*highly controversial) version of Star Frontiers on the horizon, Frontierspace is a beautiful tribute to the original Star Frontiers. There’s also a Star Frontiers magazine called Frontier Explorer that was producing exciting new content for Star Frontiers/Frontierspace until it came to a screeching halt recently with Issue 36 Spring 2022 being the last one.
Frontierspace is a solidly written game by fans of Star Frontiers. It’s a bit more of a hard sci-fi game as opposed to space opera in my opinion. Although it is far from the hard sci-fi game that Traveler is. Frontierspace has just enough science crunch without being a lesson in astrophysics and aerospace engineering.
The only kind of downer about this game is that DwD has been quiet for a couple of years now. With Frontier Explorer ending, there’s really not much going on in terms of new material. Many players really enjoyed Star Frontiers and this game really brings back that nostalgia.
Galaxy Prime by Epic Age Media. This game actually reminds me a little bit of the original Star Wars RPG. I love the huge selection of playable races in this game. The thing that drew me to this game is the simplicity of the game. There are a lot of neat supplements and scenarios, too.
This game is also beautiful because exploration could be a big part of the game. Space is infinite. One doesn’t necessarily need to stick to the known galaxy. Player Characters can go explore as much as they wish in any game.
The game has kind of that harder Aliens edge in some ways. The politics and racial interactions are a cross between Babylon 5 and early Star Trek. The core book is open enough that the GM could literally determine everything and just play the game as desired. I miss Babylon 5, personally.
ICRPG by Runehammer Games. Specifically Warp Shell. The system is phenomenal. The campaign is very well designed. It’s got kind of a Farscape vibe to it. Warp Shell goes epic if you like. I know I talk about ICRPG a lot on this blog, but it’s because the quality of this game is so good!
System beauty aside, your ship, aka the Warp Shell, has a mind of its own. I once played in a Shatterzone game like this and it was awesome! So, you may never know where you’re going to end up each week. Plus there’s a cool element resembling the Classic Star Trek episode, “The Doomsday Machine.”
Runehammer also has a game called Viking Death Squad which reminds me a bit of Mutant Chronicles and Warhammer 40K.
Hunt the Wicked by Sigil Stone Publishing. If you like Mandalorian and/or Cowboy Bebop and want to chase criminals all over known space, then this game is for you! The system is okay. I just like the basic premise of the game.
What’s not to love when you’re running your own company of bounty hunters/mercenaries? Keep bringing in the big bounty heads and keep your crew and yourself afloat. Please, this time- No Disintegrations!
Added bonus: The Quick Start Rules are FREE on DriveThruRPG.
Shatterzone Reprinted by Precis Intermedia. This game was originally produced by West End Games as part of their Masterbook line. One of the main premises of this game is the nigh impenetrable barrier separating the Core worlds from the rest of the galaxy. However, ships have recently figured out how to get through the ‘Zone.
Sign up for a corporation or the mighty Fleet and explore the galaxy. Powered armor, cool starships, interesting species, and fun gear are all part of the adventures. It’s a little bit like Star Wars, and a bit of Cyberpunk. Well worth checking out. Ownership of the MasterBook Rules is helpful, but not entirely necessary with the reprints.
I mentioned Shatterzone because it’s an old favorite that was given new life by Precis Intermedia. These folks have been doing a great job of breathing new life into old games, much like our friends at Epic Age Media above.
I may have to do another article on this particular subject as the five I’ve listed barely scratch the surface of the planet when it comes to sci-fi space gaming. I like talking about some of the smaller games because they’re easier on the wallet, especially in pdf. Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen more games. I didn’t mention some of the big ones or some of the indie games that cover this subject so very well.
Hope you’re having a great weekend. There’s a whole summer of gaming ahead for many of us. Thanks for being here. Have fun!
I love that some of the older playable races are once again featured and revised. We see the presence of the Aasimar, Eladrin, Genasi, Goliaths, and Shifters. Yay!
We also get to play around with several anthropomorphic races such as the Tabaxi (Cat people,) Harengon, (Bunny folk,) and Tortles (Turtle folk.)
Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse dropped finally.
Unless you picked it up as part of the holiday gift set or acquired it digitally from D&D Beyond, the book finally made an appearance on the 17th. I’m excited to do more of a detailed review later. Right now I’m excited by what I’ve seen at first glance.
Big changes to the way we create characters on the horizon from what I can see here.
Gone are the days of ability score bonuses or penalties for different races. You may either increase a single attribute by +2 and another by +1 OR do +1, +1, +1 across three different attributes. There are still no penalties. Long gone are the days of the frail elf or puny halfling. Why shouldn’t a fairy have an 18 STR? Seems really logical.
I really like the included racial traits. It’s a grab and go as opposed to an ala carte situation as was originally rumored. (*People who’ve had the book since January are mocking me right now.) I’m happy for that because it takes some of the confusion out of character creation.
Bunnies and turtles and Gith, oh my!
I know most of the races presented are from other books, but I wanted to call attention to a couple of things. I am absolutely thrilled to see certain races which I’ll get into in just a moment. Not to sound racist irl, but I think there are also some very questionable choices in their selection of in-game PC races.
I love that some of the older playable races are once again featured and revised. We see the presence of the Aasimar, Eladrin, Genasi, Goliaths, and Shifters. Yay!
We also get to play around with several anthropomorphic races such as the Tabaxi (Cat people,) Harengon, (Bunny folk,) and Tortles (Turtle folk.) Of course everyone’s favorite bird races are represented as well with the Aaracokra and the Kenku. That’s all well and good. I love cat girls and bunnies. (I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a furry sometimes. Lol!)
That’s where my love affair with the various races pretty much ends. Minotaurs are in Dragonlance and are kind of a tip of the hat to WoW’s Tauren. Okay. We get Orcs and Goblins in other games, sure. Why not?
But then we get into territory that I think is going to be omitted or at least discussed heavily in my campaign. Bugbears? Hobgoblins? Lizard Folk are known in my campaign for being involved in a lot of very bad stuff. Yuan-Ti are likewise considered bad news if encountered.
And the Gith?!? Even if they weren’t overpowered, are considered “monsters” in the classic sense of the word in my world. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe every monster race in the books should be welcome in every civilized fantasy society. Not every inn in the game has to look like the famous Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars.
I don’t know about other DMs and what they allow necessarily. I’ve been in games where certain races are pretty much TOS (Terminate On Sight. Thanks G-Unit.) Duergar, Kobolds, Bugbears, Hobgoblins and anything reptilian would be shot on sight or chased away from human, elf, or halfling settlements. No, it doesn’t have to be that way in every campaign and there certainly could be a rare outcast from Gith or Bugbear society, but in most games I’ve been in, it would be hella rare.
*DISCLAIMER* Please note! It is NOT okay to treat people like crap in the real world for any reason. Please be kind and understanding when it comes to race, gender, sexual preference, age, and any other form of diversity in the real world! It’s okay to explore some concepts in fantasy, but keep it on the table. The real world is tough enough without us making life harder on ourselves.
Please do whatever you want in your campaign. My opinion is just that- an opinion. What I do in my games may vary dramatically from what others allow/disallow. Whatever is most fun for you and your group? Do THAT!
The rest of the book, the monsters- are phenomenal!
What makes Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse stand out are the particularly nasty creatures contained therein. I’m not going to list off all the monsters here. I’m sure there’s a Table of Contents posted online somewhere.
What I will say is that I’m stoked to see some of the things from older supplements find their way into 5E. We get a huge spread of demons, devils and fiends to torment the PCs with. A lot of the undead types are throwbacks to other editions. Elementals play a huge role in the Multiverse.
I’m most impressed with the interplanar monsters from the Fiend Folio making a comeback. I used to use some of these creatures back when and I’m excited they’re officially back. Bodak, Draegloth, Froghemoth, Howlers, Leucrotta, Quicklings, and Rutterkin are statted out and ready to go again. I couldn’t be happier about it.
It’s also nice having some of the quick reference blocks like Bard and Warlord as examples. Being able to insert an Archdruid or any other premade NPC stat block at a glance is a nice touch. We can always go back and alter specifics later. I like having things like this handy when players put me on the spot.
I’m hoping Planescape or something similar is on the horizon.
I would really like to see WotC do more with the various planes and planar travel now that this book is in hand. I’m happy to see many of my old favorites such as the Astral Dreadnought and the Giff back again. IIRC the Giff were actually first featured in Spelljammer, but I might be wrong? I don’t normally do a lot of plane-hopping in my games, but this really does bring back that Manual of the Planes feel.
This also makes me question whether Spelljammer may actually be worth a look now. Originally I said, “No” when I saw Spelljammer. If the delivery on the Spelljammer books are this excellent in quality, I might reconsider at least enough to pick up the monster book.
Thank you for stopping by. I had more I wanted to discuss, but the new Mordenkainen book really stood out today. Heck, I’m probably not getting back to 5E until summer, but now I’m excited to DM again. Have a great week!
Anime 5E is here! Due to hit the shelves of your FLGS sometime around June 1. I backed it on Kickstarter and it’s brilliant!
As JJ Walker would say, this book is, “Dyn-O-Mite!”
Back before my employment status changed, I invested in several Kickstarters. This one in particular was very worth the money. Tired of regular 5E D&D? Dyskami fixes that and then some with Anime 5E. Here’s the link for DriveThruRPG
Just a brief rundown of some of the things you’ll find:
New character race options: Neko, Kodama, and even Greys!
New character class options: Ninja, Samurai, Magical Girl, Pet Monster Trainer and more!
New character size options. Play it small or huge. Either way, it’s covered.
So many new character options in and out of combat, I can’t list them all.
New magical and non-magical gear. What book would be complete without it?
New monsters. That’s what sold me along with some other concepts.
High-Flying, kick-butt anime/manga action from the minds that brought us the original Big Eyes, Small Mouth.
A solid mix of classic Tolkien-esque fantasy action combined with crazy anime fantasy action. Run a game in the style of Record of the Lodoss Wars, Naruto, Ninja Scroll, Afro Samurai, Samurai Champloo, Inu Yasha, Sailor Moon, Ranma, Pokemon and so many more.
I was a fan of this project way before it came about.
I’m a long, long time BESM fan. I’ve followed it since First Edition, no less. Third Ed was hard to get a hold of, but I finally did. I’ll write a broader BESM review in the future. I have a lot of wonderful memories and fond moments with BESM and it’s one of my favorite games to work with.
The same can be said of good old D20 BESM. Anime 5E took the raw Rules As Written and turned them into something phenomenal as only the creators of BESM could. I understand anime is as much styles as rules sets, but they added to D&D 5E in new and intriguing ways.
I love the attitude. The look of the product throughout is phenomenal. Really, I don’t know much else they could have added.
Old fans of my previous blog know I don’t use the term “alien” because it is offensive to many beings. I’m a friend to any being from another world who wishes to visit Earth. Now, if you’re wondering why I mention it in the gaming review of Anime 5E, it’s because one of the player races included is the Greys.
If I make one character to play this game, it’s going to be one of these guys. I think they’re pretty cool. I mean, not Magical Cat Girl cool, maybe, but still pretty friggin sweet!
I may not put out any material for this game any time soon, being entangled in three solid projects and possibly adding a fourth. This book really takes the frustration out of 5E and makes it fast, loose, and playable again. Hiyah!
Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. I hope you’ll give Anime 5E a chance.
Probably not the most monumental thing to ever happen in the world. But it’s exciting for me! A short while back, Hankerin Ferinale announced that ICRPG Masters Edition was going to be available as Print On Demand from DriveThruRPG. This was awesome! Monumental!
No offense to the nice folks at Modiphius, but I really didn’t have the scratch to buy the $50 hardcover plus shipping. I’ve noticed our FLGS don’t readily carry it. (I checked stores in two states, sadly.) $50 is a lot of money for me these days.
So I ordered it online and the wait began. I perched on our mailbox day and night waiting for it to arrive. This happened with Mecha Hack as well because I love the Brandish Gilhelm (aka Hankerin) artwork. The artwork is only matched by the brilliant game design. ICRPG never disappoints.
I loved the last edition of ICRPG so much. I was overjoyed Runehammer (aka Hankerin, aka Brandish) had made this book available for almost a third of the hardcover price. Of course, I poured over the pdf like crazy, but I love a physical copy of any game, especially this one.
Full confession: I’m biased toward ICRPG and have been since I discovered the game years ago.
So, briefly- ICRPG is simple, adaptable to any setting, brilliantly designed, and has revolutionized games outside of itself. Masters comes with ICRPG Worlds built into it. This game gave us Old Grognards a new way to look at adventure, room, and combat design. Hankerin is clearly a veteran of many RPG campaigns in several genres and it shows in the way ICRPG is written.
The Index Card portion of the name is legit on several levels. It’s a good way to organize as a GM. The game literally encourages this. It’s a brilliant way to keep track of rooms, traps, monsters, spacecraft… You get the idea. Professor Dungeon Master of YouTube fame has latched onto this game and for good reason.
My own campaign settings will be getting dusted off soon.
The nice thing about Masters is that the actual mechanics haven’t changed too much. I’m looking to pull out my ICRPG samurai campaign and maybe putting it out soon. I’ve contemplated a few other games using these rules as well. My meager artistic skills are not as impressive as Brandish’s, though.
ICRPG is a dream to run and create more content for GMs. I really can’t say too many good things about it. Players can pick up these rules in less time than D&D 5E or faster if they’re familiar with any D20 game.
Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you! Please try ICRPG if the opportunity presents. It really is worth a try.
Also, thank you Runehammer for putting out such an awesome game. I can’t tell you how much fun I have designing game worlds for this system. Your hard work makes a lot of joy possible. You rock!
I kept seeing this game go by in various places and I finally got curious. While I have sort of a love-hate relationship with horror games, this got my attention because it’s more focused on the good guys. I prefer my horror games to be A.) Not completely hopeless for the PCs, and B.) Told from the perspective of regular people fighting the darkness. Monster of the Week gets it done for the most part.
A friend on RPG Twitter mentioned this as their favorite game and I became curious. My first venture into the Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) system was with Henshin:Sentai the RPG and I have to say left a bad taste in my mouth. I still kinda feel like PbtA is a bit restrictive in terms of the PC actions and character creation. It feels to me like we’re constantly using Pre-gen characters. A lot of experienced gamers prefer to customize heavily.
I will say this game truly inspired me to go back to my old Hunters Hunted and Call of Cthulhu: Delta Green notes. I’ve always wanted to run a sort of detective agency mystery/horror game. My wife is a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. I’m big on Evil Dead/Army of Darkness. I also have my own personal freaky experiences to draw from if so desired.
Honestly, I love horror movies. I see so many things that are just laughably stupid. No one in their right mind would do some of the things characters in horror movies do and I find it amazing that some of the simplest solutions to these paranormal terrors are often overlooked.
I have so many scenarios in mind for this game already, I’m having trouble writing them all down fast enough. I’m inspired. Don’t know if I’ll have a group or if this will be an online game just yet, but I’m excited nonetheless.
One thing I really admire about the game is that they seem to have a playbook for just about everyone. Great job! It does take some of the analysis paralysis out of character creation.
Evil Hat delivers once again!
I’m a big fan of FATE as well. Part of the appeal of Monster of the Week was the quality that comes with all of the games I’ve seen from Evil Hat. (*Minus Thirsty Sword Lesbians because I haven’t read through it yet.) These folks also write a heck of a sourcebook, IMO.
I’m talking about Tome of Mysteries for Monster of the Week. They added more moves, playbooks, and a bunch of GM Advice. I felt some of the moves they added in this book were overdue and excellent additions. The GM support for MotW in general has been awesome. It has made setting up a sandbox easier for this game and dispelled some of my long-held beliefs about writing for horror games. I give it a huge thumbs up.
I can’t wait to get a chance to try this game out. I have a LOT of projects in the works right now. I hope to get some of my series outline posted eventually, as soon as my calendar clears up.
Thank you for stopping by. Happy May Day. I appreciate you!
I promise I will not intentionally raise anyone’s dander with these articles. Truth is, all editions of the game have their loveable strong points.
This is right up there with Star Wars vs Star Trek in terms of internet forum “debates.”
Let’s face it, debating on the interweb is like running on a treadmill backwards. No matter how far you think you’re getting, you’re still not going anywhere. You’re better off whizzing on an electric fence.
But seriously, debating politics would be more effective. We’re still here talking about D&D editions, but I’m having fun today. Have you seen BECMI? It’s what I grew up running. It’s a good basic edition of D&D, possibly the simplest definition of any RPG anywhere. It’s a solid game.
‘Twas a sad day when they took the “A” out of AD&D.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was arguably one of the best editions of the game ever created. It built upon the basic game and had all kinds of awesomeness going for it. It also had more professionally written modules than pretty much any other game I’ve ever seen. (*Professionally as in by the folks at T$R.) It also had a really nice combat system, a few class options that never came back, and some of the best RPG sourcebooks ever written. When most people talk about Old School Roleplaying, this is what they mean. Good times.
2nd Ed AD&D might be my other favorite edition of the game. The initiative system in this game is probably my favorite way of doing initiative that has never been duplicated except maybe in Castles & Crusades by Troll Lord Games. This edition removed some of the classes from the previous edition, but introduced Kits. Kits were fun.
Later 2nd Ed gave us some of the greatest RPG sourcebooks ever written. Encyclopedia Magic and the spell compendiums for priests and mages were amazing! I keep mind easily
*Side Note: If you keep your eyes open, sometimes you can score C&C Player’s Handbook for free.
Then 3rd Edition and the OGL happened.
I own more books for 3rd Ed and 3.5 than the rest of my collection combined. I love 3.5. It also had the best computer program. The world of third party source material would see a golden age. Very good times indeed.
I think some of the best campaigns and campaign worlds hatched from 3rd Ed. I just received my copy of Iron Kingdoms RPG recently. IIRC, that started in 3rd Ed, skipped an edition, and picked up steam again in 5th. (See what I did there? Steam? LOL!)
3rd was also where Eberron started. I remember submitting my pitch to WotC. The anticipation on announcement day was so thick and I was on pins and needles the whole time. Alas, I did not make the grade. My campaign world may never see the light of day. Who knows?
3rd is also where D20 Modern and a few dozen other spinoff d20 based games came from. The most notable is probably Pathfinder. Personally, I think PF came about because 3rd Ed fans didn’t want to let the edition go. Although it might be a D&D spinoff, it’s still an outstanding RPG.
Mutants & Masterminds is another d20 based game that arose from those days. It has also evolved considerably from its humble roots into one of the most famous superhero RPGs of all time. It really shows how much mileage was possible from the OGL.
My favorite d20 based games were conversions of other classics. Boot Hill, Deadlands, 7th Seas, Traveler, and even World of Darkness joined the d20 revolution. One could probably look on Spycraft somewhere in that mix, too. I was sort of Top Secret S.I. only modernized. We also got a d20 Star Wars, which was amazing to run. (I miss that game so freakin much.)
Dungeon Crawl Classics started out as third party modules for 3rd Ed. It grew into its own rulebooks and campaign world. Even though it has more of that OSR vibe going for it now, it was an old school riff off of 3rd Ed back then.
We’ll talk more about Third, Fourth and Fifth editions later. Have a happy and safe weekend! See you soon.
So far I have very, very good things to say about this game. Renegade has outdone themselves on this in terms of RPG playability and nostalgia/fan content.
I’m pretty excited about this!
I’ve only been waiting something like, 35+ years for this one. Yo Joe!
Foreword by Luke Gygax. Unbelievable. I’ll have a full review up when I’ve had more time to drool over this book. My physical copy showed up and the pdf dropped. (Giddy noises.)
So far, it’s been flashbacks and good crunch.
While I’m still pretty much obsessed with Renegade’s other recent release, Power Rangers RPG, I will say GI Joe is very impressive so far. They seem to have gotten their acts together between books somehow. The system is the same Essence20 System used for Power Rangers. It’s a much better fit for this game.
I grew up playing with GI Joe toys among other things. I remember pretty much all of the characters listed in the book and wondered about several they haven’t mentioned. I think the sourcebooks for this game have the potential to be loaded with awesomeness.
The art in this book brings back so many fond memories of both the toys and their packaging. I’ve lost track of the “oh yeah” moments looking back after opening this book. There are characters, vehicles and stories in here that I haven’t thought about in years.
I remember when I was first introduced to roleplaying games for the first time when I was nine and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a GI Joe game.”
Other than Spycraft and Cartoon Action Hour, I don’t remember anyone really doing much of a knockoff. It’s just way better with the actual GI Joe cartoon art and characters. Conveniently, Hasbro appears to be working closely with Renegade on GI Joe, Transformers, and even My Little Pony.
As another side note, I absolutely adore the book referring to “Knowing is half the battle,” throughout. I still think there should be extra XP given if characters want to do a public service announcement vignette between episodes.
I sincerely hope they put together sourcebooks with more Joes, Cobras, and lots of vehicles very soon. Renegade seems pretty determined all around on this one. I also should mention that another dream come true is on the horizon- Transformers RPG. Imagine the crossover between GI Joe and Transformers in an RPG. Almost as good as that movie we’ve always wanted.
Thank you for being here. Stay safe. Stay hydrated. More to come.
Putting together Monster of the Week stat tables for Power Rangers RPG. Please send help. Lol!
Dear Renegade Studios,
Thank you for finally giving Game Masters a “Fan Preview Guide to Power Rangers Role Playing Game Threats.” This sounds vastly better than just telling us to wing it. I appreciate your efforts. I was glad you mentioned this at Renegade Con.
Here’s what else is needed:
I’m still going to build my own spreadsheet to make things easier to break down as monsters go from normal/Large size to “Mega Mode”(as I call it,) or Gigantic in game terms. Things such as damage, Speed, area effect and Toughness should logically improve. The table on Page 168 of the Core Rulebook is a big help.
I’m still making a spreadsheet that breaks down the formula from the FAQ and the “Fan Preview.” Still not sure why they’re calling it that, but okay. I’ll publish it here and to some of the RPG social media when it’s done. I think Renegade has done an okay job explaining everything so far, but it’s nice to have a visual representation, too.
Oh, and on a side note, why does a 140′ tall chicken need Stealth? Couldn’t those points gone into something useful? I mean, really, guys?
I can crunch numbers all day.
As I’m planning to. I’ve already got my spreadsheet in motion entering Size, Health, Toughness, Evasion, Willpower, Cleverness, attacks, etc trying to find some correlations amongst Threat Level and experience awards. I’m still trying to extrapolate some sort of experience system for taking down the weekly threats. I feel like there needs to be a bell curve here, but it may slope. Renegade has now given us some kind of indication of threat levels, but no XP awards yet. Much like D&D, it’s still got some growing to do in that regard.
Trying not to turn this article into math class. I’ve crunched and optimized stat blocks in other systems, many of which are miniatures wargames. I can make a peak performing battle mech from scratch or choose based on tonnages and types available. All I need is a calculator and a piece of notebook paper. These days we have spreadsheet programs to do it for us, thankfully.
I’ll post my findings in a somewhat generic fashion when I’m done, since the verdict is still out on any kind of Community Creator program or OGL. Hopefully, Renegade Con Virtual shed some light on the subject over the weekend. I wasn’t able to attend due to family obligations but I’m scrounging around to get filled in.
Until then, game on. Have a great week! Please stay safe, stay hydrated, and pass the slide rule. If anyone needs me, I’ll be swimming in the numbers. Thank you!
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 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.
In all fairness, I can only give this game 3 out of 5 stars. I really want this game to do well. It has a lot going for it. There are three major improvements that would help.
I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a new release.
I’ll be posting a short review on Renegade’s website sometime soon as well. My loving wife, knowing my love of the TV series, gave me a pdf copy of the new Power Rangers RPG from Renegade. I’m pretty excited! If you’re a fan of the show or just a fan of superhero roleplaying in general, this book is a treat. I’ve been playing and making homebrew campaigns set in the Morphin universe for years, but it’s difficult to publish something when multimillion dollar corporations can sick their legal teams on you. Luckily, Renegade Studios is doing everything the right way and it’s awesome!
The book jumps right into the action helping you get your character made. Character creation is handled similarly to D&D 5E. No real surprises from what is essentially a heavily hacked D20 game in those regards. Please note, this is not intended as disrespect. There are a LOT of derivative D20 games out there and this one is definitely ahead of the curve. I suspect Renegade is trying to pull players in from 5E, given they both same parent company.
If this is what the Essence system is going to bring to the GI Joe and Transformers RPGs, I’m all about it. The system is really smooth in appearance from the outset. It combines some of the character development aspects from FATE and Powered By the Apocalypse that we like, but still has freeform character creation enough to prevent cookie-cutter characters. For example, you can build a Red Ranger as a class clown who takes care of his aging grandmother. The combinations of Origins, Roles, Influences, Hang Ups, character bonds, and so forth are going to lead to endless degrees of interesting characters.
The system itself reminds me a little bit of Savage Worlds or Cortex in that you get to add in different dice from a d2 (Coin) all the way to a d12 to your roll depending on your skill. Sure, certain ranger types are going to be more prone to certain categories. Blue Rangers get a bonus to Smarts, for example, but the system allows enough flexibility for anyone to be good at almost anything. Yes, you really can make a Green Ranger belly dancer who is also intimidating in heavy armor. The baseline stats are Strength, Speed, Smarts, and Social. This is one place were the game moves away from D20’s normal 6 stat spread. (Think of Speed being a little like Dex in most D20 games.) Skill tests work much the way one would expect in a D20 game.
I should mention there are rules for playing rangers outside of the regular Ranger Spectrum, such as the famous White Ranger. However, the book ONLY gives us the rules for White. Gold, Purple, Grey, and so on are promised in a later sourcebook which has not been announced yet. No surprise that sourcebooks are already in the works. I can imagine potential for dozens of them. I doubt we’ll see them open up an OGL because of the Power Rangers Trademark, though.
Combat looks smooth in the Essence System.
I haven’t tried combat yet, but it looks much like what you’d expect from an episode of the TV show. Putties go boom in one hit. Bad guys require a concerted effort from the team. Zord/Megazord battles are huge. Think I’m going to make some house rules for civilians caught in the crossfire, but that’s another matter entirely. You can’t expect the writers to do everything up front, right?
It’s most of what you would expect from D20 system combat in terms of initiative, movement, and actions. It will look a lot like D&D up until you go to attack and do damage. Getting knocked out as a Ranger pretty much looks like it does on TV- oops, there goes your armor and good night. Same thing with losing a Zord battle. I was surprised vehicles can actually explode in the rpg, claiming the lives of the occupants. That’s a little meatier than the TV series.
I should mention you get to customize your character’s loadout from the very beginning. You get to define your character’s weapons, fighting style, even your Zord from the get-go. That’s pretty darn cool. They give plenty of examples throughout, but you’re free to do as you choose.
I love that they’ve worked out the scaling all the way from human size all the way up to Megazord/Gigantic Monster size. Combat looks to be pretty well written if you want to have your character take on something 10 times normal size. The writers have a good sense of scale. Humans are squishy. Watch where you step. The column shifts kinda gave me Marvel Superheroes flashbacks from back in the day. Lol!
Chapter 11: Exploration confused me a little at first. Like, why are we talking about medieval fantasy style exploration in a day and age where we have Zords, satellite GPS, and infrared imaging? The rest of the chapter made sense dealing with different environments and conditions. Maybe the chapter could have been named differently?
The other thing I have to laugh about is you can make this game as campy as a 1960’s superhero TV show or as gritty as the “bootleg” short film with Katee Sackhoff as Kimberly. (That movie was dark, btw.) Personally, I’m leaning a little more toward the Mighty Morphin era and the more recent major motion picture in terms of “realism.”
The art in this book is top notch. The graphics and layout are phenomenal. I think a lot of credit should be given to the design team in terms of art and layout.
I give this game Three out of Five Stars. Here’s why:
Access to more seasons of the TV series.
Monsters! It needs so many more.
A more defined GM Section.
A different adventure entirely.
A little less gamey, a little more Morphin.
Little things like a map of Angel Grove, experience, etc…
To be very clear, I don’t hate this game. I really want it to be more mighty! I truly wanted to be absolutely in love with this game. I’m still stoked to run it for my kids. I really do like the game, but I think it needs some improvements. I hope someone at Renegade hears my pleas for improvement.
This game does an awesome job emulating the early seasons of the TV series. I suspect there might be some copyright/Trademark issues which is why a lot of the later Ranger teams don’t get mentioned? Hopefully they do Samurai and Megaforce down the road. My kids love those series. I’m big on the plot and Zords from both myself. Gosei is probably my favorite Ranger commander ever.
I felt the thing most seriously lacking from this first book: Monsters! Other than the Putties and a few examples, we don’t get much for monsters. Rita and Zed are mentioned, but no stats yet. Goldar is mentioned, but no stats. So far the Mighty Morphin area has been the main focus for bad guys. I hope someday we’ll get to see other seasons’ villains.
This book would have really benefitted from a quick and dirty monster creation system, maybe even a set of tables to quickly make the monster of the week. Also, as crunchy as the rest of the system seems to be, I wish they had gone into more detail about what happens when a monster goes Mega Mode. Right now there are two stat blocks for everything and I think it could be simplified to one stat block with dual listings. I kinda wonder if they’re leading up to a Monster Manual type book, but I haven’t heard anything specific about sourcebooks yet. (I think my wallet just cringed a little.) There is so much room for diverse monsters in Power Rangers from the extremely silly pineapple-octopus all the way to murderous giant robot bristling with firepower.
The other thing I think needed improvement was the adventure section. It’s a good intro adventure, I guess. Were it written for any other rpg, it would work pretty much as well. It does not scream “Power Rangers episode” at me. To me, it seems like it would be more at home as a convention game, maybe? I was hoping for more of an introductory adventure where the group receives their power coins for the first time, maybe a little more obvious monster fight, and more of an obvious BBEG. Without getting into spoilers, I think it’s a little game-y and not as much Ranger-y?
I found leveling up to be another source of mild confusion. We get a tiny bit of it on page 19. What we don’t get is any kind of experience system, guidelines or GM advice. I’ve been a GM for decades, so I’m just going to hand out levels as I see fit, but they really gave us nothing to work with here. It’s like Renegade is winding up for a GM’s Manual or something. I would have liked more specifics up front.
Personally, I would have rather they left the adventure out of the book entirely in place of more monsters, the other ranger aspects, more weapon and Zord design options, and a thorough GM section. Sorry, I’m still in shock that the entire GM section was basically three pages and spent one page explaining gamer terms to new players. It’s an extremely player heavy focus throughout. Maybe I’m just an Old Grognard, but it seems like a little more effort could have been focused on GMs in a $55 hardcover intro to the system and the world.
There are some minor things that bother me about this book. A map of Angel Grove would have been nice. I would have liked to have seen more back-and-forth between Alpha 5 and Zordon in the text portions. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of Alpha 5 and I could have seen a lot less of him. I think they could have maybe used that space for GM tips or even comic panels for other characters.
Overall, great job. A few adjustments would have made it 5 stars. I’m sure there are good things coming in the weeks and months ahead.
TL;DR: Great game. Great genre emulation. Needs a bigger, better monster section, monster creation rules, and a LOT more of a GM section. Great D20 mechanics. Beautiful artwork. Definitely a good first attempt on the part of Renegade Studios.