Monday 8 February 2010

A Time of War

A Time of War, the Battletech RPG is finally out (in pdf form at least) and I managed to get it at a discount by taking advantage of the Beta release offer from BattleCorps, a month back, including a free upgrade to the newly available final release version.

Like a lot of systems, the Character Generation is a bit involved till you get the hang of it, but the Beta test crew have ironed out a few quirks, like the low starting xp that prevented the creation of decent Mechwarrior Officers and numerous template point errors. The extra 500 starting xp helps a lot, and the moving of the first aging table category to 25 from 21, makes having to access the table much less likely during character creation. The trickiest part of generation is probably the balancing of the positive and negative Traits, due to the required quantitising of xp values to the mandatory 100xp levels.

Turns are 5 seconds long, half that of Battletech so not fully compatible with the boardgame, but that not really important as Mech vs Squashes would lead to a very short campaign.

I use to buy RPGs and supplements like other people buy paperback books, just to enjoy reading them. But I've run out of room to store any more of them, and being the type who never throws anything out theres no space that's going to magically appear. In that way the spate of pdf releases is a bit of a godsend. Have resisted updating my existing stuff but It does allow me the have a library on a key-fob. I'm restricted to reading them on my laptop at the moment, but waiting for a proper, but considering I can have multiple tomes open at a time it takes up a lot less space.

Cataylst Games do quite a bit of support for their games via pdf's, with various freebies such as pre-generated mech sheets and quick start rules and primers, strangely enough for their upcoming Leviathans game they are charging for similar sample material. They also allow a free download of any updated versions of previously bought books; and have done this recently with the core Battletech rules, Total Warfare.

Possibly the most off-beat amongst my pdf's is the pairing of the Cold City - Hot War rules by Contested Ground Studios. The first is set in 1950's Cold War Berlin, with monsters lurking behind the scenes; the second is a follow-on, set in London during the aftermath of a 1960's apocalyptic war, with the monsters being used as terror weapons by both Warsaw Pact and NATO. Not sure of the system of setting the characters against each other is to my tastes (It works in Paranoia because that game is played for laughs) but the two campaign settings still holds good. A fine example of how a small company can put out and distribute a quality product in both Hard and Electronic form.

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