August 6th, 2004

  • zamiel

Review: Red Dwarf RPG

Well, you knew it was coming. Don't pretend like I didn't warn you.

Deep 7 has done the world a great international service in making Red Dwarf into an RPG. I say this not only as a happy consumer of toast, and British comedy, but as a tremendous consumer of myriad RPG mechanical systems with a definite affinity for minimalistic designs. While RD isn't quite as minimalist as other systems I've lauded over the past few years, its certainly not in any way substandard.

But, let's be up-front here. You can get the hard stats off the actual web site. 176 pages. Hardbound. The art consists of the few crew shots released by the original creators and a whole lot of nicely B&W'd captures from the DVDs. The layout is amazingly clean and crisp, with a good use of negative space, the font is nice, and overall the production values are pretty much the rival of anything else on the mid-tier of RPG releases this year. Deep 7 should feel no shame in charging $35 for this book.

There, now all the basics are out of the way. Here's where my good bits kick in.

Basically, the real scoop is this: If you're an old school gamer, you remember the Paranoia games of old. The funny ones. The ones where you and your buds sat around the gaming table, maybe had a beer and some pretzels, ran around a crazy world, made truly horrid puns and pop-culture references, threw a few dice, and talked about the stuff that happened in-game to folks in the office the next day.

And they laughed.

This is that game again.

Oh, its not really set in Alpha or Beta Complex; the Red Dwarf (or whatever you decide to name your alternate) is more than funny enough in and of itself, and doesn't need a cast of thousands to make with the mockery. No, RD makes do with a handful, like the series, and just gets its jollies putting them through the grinder, three million miles from Earth where the Jupiter II just was never cool enough to go. What it does crank out is high-quality jollies on a regular basis, and that's just from reading the text (save for an odd lapse, to be mentioned later).

You can create your own alternate crew quickly with the skill-based point-allocation system. Personally, I've grown away from the Stat+Skill system in design, but they make it do journeyman work here, wedding it to a 2d6 roll-under die mechanic. Skills aren't grown out of all proportion; the Skill list is roughly twenty entries and distributed between Stats. Damage is more of a saving throw system to stay on your feet rather than a HP accounting system, a fact I rather appreciate. In fact, mechanically the system is about as stripped down as you can get and still maintain a middle-of-the-road sense of "crunch."

Character generation is based on an archetype system that generally gives a couple free points in Skill and usually an Advantage or Limitation. (That Smeghead is a listed Limitation speaks to the flexibility of the authors, possibly involving leather straps.) Humans, Cats, Holograms, Iguanas, Rabbits, Mechanoids and Simuloids are all valid character archetypes, but its the work of moments to add whatever perverse concept your devious mind can imagine.

Thematically, well, if you've watched Red Dwarf, you know what to expect. Its funny stuff, typically at the expense of the protagonists (as one hesitates to refer to them as heroes). While running comedy games is one of the hardest vocations a GM (or AI, in this case, playing the ship's 6000 IQ computer) can take up, RD is remarkably forthright and clever in helping out in every way possible, including both excellent discussion of the hows and whys, plus a rather funny-in-and-of-itself Random Scenario Generator that probably turns out material better than the bulk of D20 products released this year. Then again, so does Cat. I digress ...

The worst of the book's bad points is the chapter on historical Earth, circa the creation of the Red Dwarf. Its as if someone reached into the author's head and turned off the expression of their Funny Gene, resulting in a largely leaden, dry, even boring discussion of stuff that's pretty much all but useless anyway to nearly every AI's game. I'd much rather have had a very brief episode outline for the first few seasons in its stead.

Save that, the book is an absolute marvel to read and should fit neatly on everyone's bookshelves, lest they've been custom modified to only hold MET books, you poor bastard.

Final Rating: A+.

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Exalted Open Community

yu_shanYu-shan is now open. The Gates of Creation welcome one and all Exalted to tell of their deeds in the light against the darkness of non-creation, against the endless death.

At first this was to be a closed game, but now, I welcome all. I shall be your admin and mod for the community. Please, in character discussion, storytelling, and such are as welcome as out of character.

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Pinky Scumbag


I did a stupid thing a few days ago, and picked up the core book for a game I have heard nothing about. It's called A/State.

It's fairly new, but has anyone actually played a session or started a campaign of it?

I'm interested to hear about mechanics, and just general thoughts of setting, concepts and first impressions
Steve latest

Gaming Blues.........

I have been playing RPG's for a long time now and I have always enjoyed it but lately I have not been having very much fun. I think it has to do with the fact that the main group I game with is a) up in Temecula (that is a long ass drive on Friday evening when you are in San Diego) b) the main GM in our group changes the game we are playing almost every other week. We make characters and play the game for a few sessions and then he decides he wants to run a different game and we have to make all new characters. We have not completed one campaign since I started gaming with them almost 3 years ago. We have come close but never actually finished.

I think that to really enjoy a game you have to be able to flesh out your character and really get to know their quirks. The best games I have played were with my old group in Simi Valley. We had games that lasted for months (even a couple of years) where I played the same character until we either finished the campaign or the character was killed and I had to make another one. The best example is a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game my friend John ran. It lasted over 2 years (with a few breaks here and there to play a different ongoing D&D game just to break the monotony). I played a total of 2 characters in that game 1 Glasswalker Garou and 1 Immortal (think Highlander type character). The Glasswalker lasted over a year before he was killed, and the Immortal finished out the game. I got to know both characters very well and really enjoyed playing them each week. I enjoyed not only playing the character's strengths but having to deal with their weaknesses as well. That is almost more fun for me.

I miss that feeling. Anyone else ever have this feeling?
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