Category Archives: Review

Review: Dragon Age Roleplaying Game

Your humble author, a mere scribe in the service of the Chantry, was recently tasked with conducting an in-depth review of the impressive document compiled by the fine folk of the Green Ronin publishing house. This document, titled ‘Dragon Age Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook’, purports to be able to cover any eventuality that the peoples of Thedas may encounter in their everyday lives.

It is my hope that my examination, as presented here, will allow you to be able to draw your own conclusions regarding the veracity of this claim and the importance that the text places upon the heroes it strives to portray.

Presentation

The first noticeable thing upon opening the tome is the clarity of the text and the clear layout. Whilst this scribe has some niggles concerning the organisation of the work itself, for the most part it is a pleasure to read and to reference as needed.

Full colour art is lavishly displayed throughout and both chapter and heading breaks are clearly demarcated. There is little to say about the layout and general art design of the work, save that it is polished to a high degree and complements the paper stock.

The information contained with the book is well organised and excellently indexed leading to little time wasted when searching for relevant information. In many ways, the work mirrors that of the Chant of Light and with a little study could easily become as familiar a text among those who are required to know it.

Setting

The continent of Thedas is well documented, thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of Brother Ferdinand Genitivi, and some of that information is reprinted here. While by no means presenting a detail analysis of the known world, the work presents a comprehensive overview of the peoples that make up our land, their cultures and some of the more prominent organisations.

Because of the easy availability of information concerning Thedas, I will say nothing else save that the information contained within will answer the vast majority of questions you may have.

Mechanics

In darkened rooms and smoky bars the continent over, it is possible to find groups of people engaged in a most peculiar activity. When conflicts become difficult to require resolution, Thedosians employ their own, unique method that I have been lead to believe is known as AGE, or the Adventure Game Engine. AGE refers to the principle of rolling three six-sided dice to resolve almost all problems. Depending on the numbers rolled, the ‘test’, as most problems are known, succeeds or fails, with some dice combinations resulting in so-called ‘Stunt Points’ that can be used to gain extra benefits.

Thedosians use the common six-sided dice for everything, applying and subtracting modifiers as necessary. This approach presents a simple, but streamlined, process to conflict resolution and one that is easily understood.

This humble author has been informed that, in practice, the three classes the work divides Thedosians, from every conceivable background, into work extremely well and present a wide variety of scope for an accurate representation of the people that inhabit Thedas, whether human, elf, dwarf or qunari.

For those concerned with such things, mages utilise a system they call ‘Mana Points’ to cast Circle-approved spells.  The document itself lists several non-approved spells, but this scribe was reassured that no-one would actually cast them.

Conclusions

Green Ronin’s work is an incredibly robust document that provides all the information needed to construct the lives of any number of Thedosians. Using their unique AGE mechanic, conflicts and tests of any kind can be resolved swiftly and simply, allowing more time to be spent enjoying Thedosian life and the experiences inherent within it.

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Review: Kaiju Incorporated

For clarity’s sake, in most instances the word ’employee’ is used below to denote players.

In case my introduction isn’t clear, I was given a review copy of the above RPG by Evil Hat Productions. Other than this, I am unaffiliated with Evil Hat Productions.

– Bubbles / Ryan


This analyst was recently given a copy of the document ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ by Evil Hat Productions to review. ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ is presented as a modification of the existing set of rules known as Fate Core and is intended as a training document for potential employees considering a role within one of the many corporations dedicated to cleaning up after kaiju attacks in order to harvest their materials and make a profit from the ensuing products and technologies.

These employees are not presented as the Aces in charge of the battlerobos that defend the helpless from the many kaiju in the world, but as the members of the corporation that are necessary to its survival; the cogs in the machine. Labourers, researchers and other positions related to fieldwork are presented within as possible training schemes and employee archetypes.

Presentation

The presentation throughout is slick and of the quality we have come to expect from Evil Hat Productions. Text and titles are of a sufficiently different font to allow for easy reading.

The dossier is filled with colourful, evocative artwork of high enough quality that this analyst found himself desiring more, possibly in the form of a limited run comic series. Whilst certainly not necessary to convey its report, Evil Hat have chosen their art well and it provides some useful visual reference for the themes of the document.

Setting

The high quality art is paired well with the text. Constant references to the vital corporate structures that keep this world running, as well as important protocols and processes, thoroughly ground the entire document and matches the mechanics presented within.

As ever, one’s first engagement with the information contained within the training material (after necessary paperwork) is the vitally important job interview. This helps to ground the experience and the provided testimonials (example) help to convey the atmosphere the document aims to create.

No report on kaiju attacks, and the corporations involved with the clean-up of such, would be complete without a timeline of the catastrophes plaguing our world, as well as detailed files on the kaiju and those corporate heroes profiting from them. Whilst little information is given on the so called ‘Aces’ whose job it is to stop the kaiju, employees will begin their career well versed in the dangers they may face and the potential employers that the industry has built up around them.

Mechanics

The material, based as it is upon an existing framework of established practices, is up front about the ways in which it differs from the norm. This is particularly useful for analysts and employees who have a large amount of experience with the framework known as ‘Fate Core’.

Employees are given 4 modes to receive possible training in. These modes encompass every facet of an employee’s life and provide further possible training in the form of ‘Skills’. Each mode has 3 Skills in which an employee can be trained, with all employees receiving different amounts of training depending upon their experiences, personality and role. With 12 Skills available, employees receive focused training in 3 and choose one of those 3 to become specialised in.  In this manner, an employee can be chosen who has the right skill-set for the team they are to work with whilst remaining flexible enough to deal with any situation.

Of a more worrying nature, some employees are able to undergo a hybridisation process that links them inextricably with the kaiju and their employer. This genetic alteration brings to mind the B-movies of yesteryear, perfectly in line with the rest of the document.

The training material places a large amount of emphasis on team-work and planning. When a report comes through of a kaiju attack, the employees and their handler are encouraged to work together to discover the specifics of the attack and to plan accordingly. Each phase of the plan is then undertaken and detailed later in an after-action report. This bureaucratic necessity allows the employees to determine whether they were successful in cleaning up after the kaiju attack, or whether the problem(s) remain(s). It is then up to them to decide whether or not the problem is for someone else to sort out.

This process allows for some repetition of scenarios, especially in a training context, in order to experiment and develop the team-work skills required to deal with a high level alert.

Conclusions

Overall, the document meets my expectations from a company such as Evil Hat Productions. High-quality production and research skills have been paired with a razor sharp understanding of modern kaiju harvesting methods and corporations to produce a design and training document sufficient to teach new employees all the skills and knowledge they will need to successfully deal with the aftermath of a kaiju attack.

It is this analyst’s view that ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ be treated as an essential document for all members of the Fate, and kaiju, communities, effective immediately.

The accompanying training exercises, presented as a card game, are also to be considered highly informative and a worthwhile investment.