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SINS - The Core Rulebook
Publisher: First Falling Leaf
by Dacar A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/07/2019 03:51:44

First, a disclaimer: I'm a backer of the game from the KS campaign 2 years ago or so. No other connection to authors except occasional talk on Discord.

SINS is a curious case. It's a post-apocalyptic game, offering a standard package of devastated, zombie-infested world, closer to "the Walking Dead" than any zombie apocalypse settings (there are cultures, organizations, secret societies and religious orders). The catch is, using standard mode of play, you're essentially a zombie, not a generic shambler but ass-kicking monstrosity, also the one which remebers its humanity and strives to balance the human nature with monstrous urges. You also look pretty human, in most cases actually but not always. Seems familiar? Yup. It's part zombie post-apocalypse, part World of Darkness (Wraith: the Oblivion and Kindred of the East mostly), part BESM/OVA with a lot of anime stylistics and part Exalted, but don't tell the last to the authors, they don't like mentioning the last one :).

For such an ecclectic bunch the game is neat, and you don't see seams on this Frankensteinian monster of the setting. The main premise can be shortened to "everything you know, but different way". The world is devastated -- not by freak of nature or folly of human, but by planned extinction plan of some yet-to-be-revealed outer space entity (plan that gone south by the way, so at least the entity is not omnipotent). Zombies roam the wastes, but they are far from anything you could suspect -- they don't eat brains, human meat or anything at all, they simply seem to draw sustenance from slaughter and destruction. They also evolve into bigger and more horrific forms until they form gargantuan abomination (and everything is screwed then horribly). Characters are sort-of Exalts from the game you should not mention, not created by bengin gods, but by utterely alien entities, the by-product of botched extinction plan. They have kick-ass, anime-styled powers (including the ability of transforming into small-size mecha) but also they have a monstrous anti-soul that can sometimes turn them into dangerous monsters, and its agenda is to achieve the state permanently (you can scream "Wraith" but it's more "Kindred of the East"). Ah, also to become one you must die, turn into the zombie and then hope the rest will go smoothly (because only two first parts are foolproof). You can be killed, "diablerized" Vampire way or turned into even more monstrous zombie at the end, and there is no third chance anyway (dead protagonists are simply anihilated, they don't have any hope for afterlife, unlike more normal denizens of the setting). If you love ecclectic, baroque settings, you'll probably love this one.

Mechanics of the game is also familiar, yet different. It has a lot of Storyteller vibe - success based mechanics, health levels, skills and attributes and such. It is D6 based (instead of D10) and you roll only attributes, skills set target number to get successes. Difficulty is a minimum success level, and extra successes you can use to improve damage, get job faster and such. Combat is long-turn based (I haven't seen that approach for a long time) so the rolls are abstract, one hit roll can be translated into many exchanges of blows that all were parried except the last one, which made damage. It works well and didn't gave me too many headaches.

The book is nice and layout proffesional. The only thing I could criticize is a low number of artwork, all with distinctive but boring on the longer term style. Don't get me wrong, these are nice and proffesional graphics, but I'm accustomed to more variety in style, especially for a book that big (it's a standard monstrous "brick" of old, not these newer booklet-style, low page count games like many Powered by Apocalypse books, so while PbtA also are artwork-low one-artist productions, it's less problematic). There are glitches in the layout but they are surprisingly rare. Material is presented nicely, there are some worse moments (like presenting the mechanics for "normal people" first, where it's not essentially a game about "normal people"), but I've seen worse, and this is their first product.

You also should check "Dead City" scenario, but it surprisingly uses slightly different mechanics (newer? older?) and it's not about badass supers in post-apo society but about normal lame-ass random guys put in the middle of zombie outbreak in present time, but still it's neat and nicely connected to the main game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
SINS - The Core Rulebook
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Demon Hunters: A Comedy of Terrors
Publisher: Dead Gentlemen Productions, LLC
by Martin F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/28/2016 05:49:26

Not sure how to say. It's awesome. Really.

Not sure if I ever will run any session of it, I'm not especially into "humour games", but it is great as a book for reading, a source of well-thought mechanics and much more. I couldn't stop laughing during reading of that.

Setting: I read original Demon Hunters book previously and despite it was a "work of humour" too, I felt it much more seriously written. Also, Cortex classic mechanics was... well, classic. And not the best one. This one is more witty, full of fanservice and geeky humor (not that about Spock and Kirk one though), and it is the most important added value, because more serious urban fantasy settings are available in hordes, not to mention systems about secret organization created to save the world (from really gritty Esoterrorists to comparably ironic Laundry).

Current mechanics: is somewhere between Fate Core, Fate Accelerated and Cortex Plus Adventure, so it is lightweight, fun to use and unfortunately not for everyone (C+ has somewhat lower entry treshold because in most implementations "aspects" (a.k.a. distinctions) are pre-generated there). So people who don't like Fate-powered and Fate-inspired games won't find this one good too.

So, good piece of RPG, but probably not for everyone.

Mandatory conflict of interests note: Author of this post is a Kickstarter supporter of this game. No other affiliations with Dead Gentelmen Productions, LLc detected.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Hunters: A Comedy of Terrors
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D6xD6 RPG Core Book
Publisher: Lester Smith Games
by Martin F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/28/2014 10:13:58

I hate to disagree with first reviewer, but I don't think it is so bad they wrote. Curious enough, the main point of that review is seemingly horrible layout of the book, but I didn't see anything like that there. I'm not saying that layout is great, because it is the weakest point of the product, but it can be ignored, especially when you're not a typography geek, but gamer who look for something to play.

Unfortunately, I'm both, so I can't say that book is laid out perfectly, personally I think that for such a short and compact set of rules, one-column layout, like that used i Fate Accelerated would be much better. I also prefer that sort of rules presentation - with "meat" put in main text and some explanation in sidebars. Two-column is good for text-heavy rulebooks with hundreds of pages, and even then sidebars help (but I saw books like that laid out in one column, like Apocalypse World and followers, and it worked too). I personally don't like title font too, but I don't think that personal tastes are good basis for reviewing anything.

Artwork is ok, although it is on nearly-homeopathic level, and I have a strange feeling, that setting graphics for Blood Types setting bleed out into universal rules part. Basic artwork is well, basic, nothing more, I don't think that they're good or bad, but it is a pain of most universal systems. Blood Types graphic is better, but it is only one minimalistic setting from many, so it shouldn't be so many artworks for that (especially when for example Ghost of a Chance has almost none of it). Again, I understand people who hate photoshops, but I wouldn't call things I don't like "trash", only "it is not my style".

Thing that this book rules is its content. Rules are short and concise, easy to understand and implement. Of course, adding some more text to explain better some things (like focus, which is perfectly logical to me, but I met some people who had problem with understanding how it works) would be nice. But it is playable even now, and it short form can be considered a form of art too.

Idea, that setting can be put into 2500 words with introductory scenario could seem insane at start, but authors managed to do that, with better or worse results. Ghost of a Chance and Blood Types managed to do that, but it was not so hard, because these are real world-based settings, so describing many things was not necessary. World of Zero shines there, because setting is quite weird and alien, and yet author managed to put it into required word count. World of Esfah is not so good case, because it mostly references outside work, and it is hard to be used without that (mostly free) material. Also, I personally don't like that one setting at all, but I'm not a fan of "classic fantasy", so maybe I'm not a right person to review any such setting.

I can't agree with somewhat harsh descriptions like "trash", "garbage" and such, personally I don't think that any system should be described with these words, and I saw many bad systems here, some priced much higher than these three bucks, and some not deserving even one star. Personally, I'd not to set a price for that book, leaving it to "pay what you want" level, and use feedback to improve product before giving print versions. But it is cheap, playable and looking not so bad. So I give four stars - mostly as encouragement for creators, because otherwise I'd like to set to three.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
D6xD6 RPG Core Book
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