Catalyst Game Labs has teamed-up with Valiant Comics to create an RPG based on their superhero series, and the Unity crossover event is front and centre in this quick start preview version of the game. This small booklet, released in time for Free Comic Book Day, introduces the basic of the game and setting along with a short adventure that raises more questions about the full version than actually builds excitement for it.
The core of the game is derived from CGL's pulp sci-fi game, Cosmic Patrol. In which players roll a small dice pool based on stats, powers and bonus factors against the npc/obstacles single d20. It's an interesting statistical gimmick that creates a fun asymmetry between PCs and the world around them. The game eschews a traditional Game Master in favour of a Lead Narrator which sets the scene and rolls dice for the other guys, the wrinkle is that position rotates scene to scene. How this works in the context of the included adventure, the folio does not answer .Speaking of adventures, the one included, based on the opening of last year's Unity storyline, is railroaded as all get out. It barely offers up the concept of branching the storyline by offering a binary conclusion that feels more like a win/loss state than a true story break.
The guide takes a few cues from the lamented Marvel Heroic Roleplaying by offering lead characters from the comics as playable characters; including, Harada, Eternal Warrior, Ninjak, and Livewire. In addition to stats and powers have both Tags and Cues. These are simple descriptors or short phrases to help guide play without mechanical elements. There are also lots of them, characters have a list of at least nine Cues and five Tags, the pre-scripted events in the adventure also come with a stack of tags and cues. I am not sure why these exist. There is a intent toward Fate-style aspects in these but the lack of any mechanical element or truly codified narrative bent they just come as fluff, pure and simple.
This may not be the best foot forward to this game, but the dice mechanics and some of the ideas present in the setting leave me curious for the full game. The quickstart guide can be downloaded at this webpage along with more information about the full game.
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