Monday, December 16, 2013

Bulletproof Blues Breakdown and Review - Brandon Blackmoor

BULLETPROOF BLUES BREAKDOWN AND REVIEW

253 Pages

The game is Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 United States Licence except for the Basics part by Greg Stolze and GM Advice.

There is an SRD here :- http://ogc.rpglibrary.org/index.php?title=Bulletproof_Blues

Genre Suitability:
Artwork: Very basic black and white, mostly look like villains.

Introduction

Page 2 - a rules light game set in the world of the Kalos Comics.  A four colour universe but similar to the real world.  Somewhat dubious about rules light and 253 pages appearing in the same document, however.

Posthumans - Appeared after WWII

Fall of Paragon - Justifiers killed by their former teammate. Atlanta destroyed, Singapore sunk.  Mentioned a non-US place in the first page.  Bonus points for them.  Bulletproof Blues is set just after this crossover.

What is a Roleplaying Game? - Page 4

Why write Bulletproof Blues given many other games.  Wanted something more like The Authority or Planetary... BASH, Capes, Icons are too light for this when the tried them.  That is certainly true.  They tried Mutants & Masterminds and Wild Talents.  A bit odd they didn't try the obvious Hero, GURPS Supers and Superworld...for Authority type brutal.  Or DC Heroes with one more realistic genre rules.  Not 'lite' rules of course any of those three, so that could be why.

Ground Rules - Page 5

Don't abuse the system, common sense, avoid arguments, respect genre conventions, no running out of bullets or cosmic gadget recharges.  Super science doesn't get to the marketplace.

Core Mechanics - Page 7

Roll 2d6, count the dots and add the result to a relevant attribute.  This is compared to a difficulty number...often 12.  A guideline table is given with some probability examples from Impaired Human to Godlike.  Nigh-impossible is 21.

Plots Points - Page 8

Start with one, get more for being entertaining or interesting or when GM goes fiat or makes things more difficult.

Benchmarks - Page 8

Table for lifting, throwing, breaking, moving.  Rank 14 Strength can lift 10 million tons and break Kirbium.  Marvel Super Heroes Unearthly would be 8 on this scale.  100 tons.

Glossary - Page 11


BASICS - Page 13

A Greg Stolze gaming overview about what the RPG thing is.  On what to do, fun, troublemakers, setting, behaviour, etc.


CREATION - Page 25

Making a character...there is a free helper at drivethrurpg.  You can send yours in to their wiki.

Sobriquet - Name/catchphrase 'Smartest Woman in New Zealand'
Background - Personality, Description, History
Origin - Alien, Altered, Artificial, Aspect, Engineered, Equipped, Zenith
Archetypes - Beanstalk, Calculator, Cannon, Clay, Dolphin, Elemental, Gadget, Hammer, Mirror, Rocket, Shadow, Sword, Tank
Motivations - Adventure, Anger, Audacity, Control, Curiosity, Enthusiasm, Faith, Glory, Guilt, Honor, Individualism, Justice, Love, Materialism, Mentoring, Nobility, Passion, Pride, Protection, Rebellion, Responsibility, Serenity, Traditionalism, Vengeance,
Complications - Enemy, Gruesome, Outsider, Uncontrolled Power, Vulnerability

Points and Power Level - Page 43

Characters are made with character points.  Then there's a Power Level table.
Normal Joe is 20 points - Rank 2 benchmark
Global Guardian is 70 points - Rank 8 benchmark ...the Unearthly MSH level from before.
Nightblack would be in the City Defender 50 point range.
Page 45 has a Villain counterpart to this.

Improving - Slow, as per the genre.  Experience is given at the end of a story arc of a few sessions. Gives a table, 1 for playing enthusiastically, 1 for roleplaying, 1 for being clever...and suggests awarding these to different players.

Attributes - Page 46

Brawn, Agility, Reason, Willpower, Prowess [Fighting], Accuracy [Ranged Shots], Endurance


Modelling Nightback, we'd take:
5 Brawn
5 Agility
4 Reason
4 Willpower
6 Prowess
6 Accuracy
3 Endurance

33 points.

Skills - Page 49

Background, Expertise Areas. A Table of Typical skill groups is given, including the associated attribute. Examples like Survival group or Deception group.

Advantages - Page 57

Another game with the in-betweeners like Mental Calculator or Unsettling.

Powers - Page 62

Typical powers, with Activation and Task Roll and Range information with the character creation cost.  It is a quite short list with some generics.

Looking like one of the generics would be used for Darkness if building Nightblack again...and Strike is a Prowess power. Take 5 ranks of Darkness for 15 and one rank of Strike for 1.

So Element Mastery: Darkness and is 3 Character Points per rank.
Strike does mention Sword in the description and does Brawn +1 or the Power Rank whichever is greater.


Powers Modiers - Page 125

Enhancements like explosive effect, area, increased range.  Advice on New Powers you make up and meta roleplay type powers.

Equipment - Page 129

A list of weapons, including a Nausea-inducing pistol and Speech-suppression pistol and a Pacification rifle. Vehicles include Aircraft Carrier and Dirigible.


Actions - Page 133

Time and benchmarks (never seen anyone use a hawksbill sea turtle as a weight benchmark before!), range bands for the various ranks.

When your movement action starts talking about standing up from prone positions and things of that ilk you aren't too light, either.

Four kinds in a round - free, movement, task and roleplay.  Actions also have reactions.


Rolling Dice - Page 142

Unopposed task difficulties and modifiers like trying to hit a fast moving target.

Opposed Task number is 8 plus the defender's relevant attribute, including modifiers.

Tasks can be Extended.  Failure paragraph suggests success at a cost rather than grinding things to a halt if tasks are failed, which is good advice.

Taking the Average and Taking the Max...an automatic 7 roll if under no pressure for difficulty 7 or less tasks and an automatic 12 if you have no time limit.  Either require no penalty for failure.  Don't be boring add-ons...very good.

Extreme Success if if you beat the Task Number by three or more.  If fighting, you may take it as an Overwhelming, Smashing or Staggering bonus.


Combat - Page 147

This is simulataneous, basically and depends on what makes sense...where determination is needed, use Perception, Agility and Willpower in order to break ties.  Then the usual Delay, Attack, Combining attacks into one to increase damage and Co-ordinating to asssist someone with an attack to make it easier.  Good rules to have.  Some other manoeuvres as well, Ram, Slam, Taunt, Distract.  Defensiev as well like Block and Dodge.

Damage - Page 155

What if it is explosive, penetrating, stunning or that sort of thing.  Protection ratings, recovery and death.  A rating of the negative of your current Endurance is likely dead, with a more four-colour possibility for return than something like The Authority.

Plot Points - Page 157

Automatic success, Inspiration, Power Boost, Power Stunt, Rally, Retcon.

The Environment - Page 160

Breathing and not, burning, the usual. Darkness, Dehydration.  Earth's core is hot Rank 14.  Pathogens and Poison for if you want to know what Rank VX Nerve Agents are.  Pressure, Radiation, Sleep, Starvation. Vacuum.


THE KALOS UNIVERSE - Page 168

Part of a larger Kalos multiverse.  Earth-0, this one.  To shorthand its existence in 196,883 dimensional space.

Atlantis and Lemuria, Extraterrestrials.

Posthumans - Page 170

Fewer than 800 posthumans worldwide.  200 in North America. 100 in the USA. Let's see, 300 million of 7 billion. 4-5% of the world population and 12.5% of the lot.  That's a much greater than slightly more average tendency to migrate to the USA.  No reason for which is given?

Corporations - Page 171
Governments - Page 174
Subversive Organisations - Page 176 - Aegis, ASGARD, GORGON, Jade Moon Society, Project Genesis
Technology - Page 180 - Armour, Energy, Genetics, Time/Dimensional Travel,
Magic & the Supernatural - Page 182


GM ADVICE - Page 185

Again by Greg Stolze, hence not being Creative Commons again.
Basic Duties, Plot, The Hook, Rising Action, Paper Tigers, Climax, Falling Action, Conflict, Keeping the Villain Alive, Rules Resolution, Character, Description.

GM's Advanced Duties - Page 200

Tone Control, Leadership, Fair Conflict,

Characters - Page 203

A few to get you started.  Always a good idea to get into a game straight away.

Blueshift,
Grimknight,
Manticore, Monolith,

Villains - Page 218

Chthyra, Crocolisk,
Ganyeka,
Karen X,
Master Sin, Miasma (and the Fume Troopers),

Creative Commons License - 240
OGL - 242

INDEX - 244-249




Genre Suitability: A wide variety of superheroics from Mystery Men to Cosmic.  Suggests that it is going for The Authority or Planetary.  There's isn't really any in-game evidence to support that this is the specific frame of reference.  The Kalos Universe appears to be a standard US four-colour slightly more modern setting.  Doesn't remotely read Titans punching the heads off despots in the way that Brave New World does.  This is an absolutely good game for running any of the usual variety of superhero games...you could Wildstorm tweak it if you wanted, certainly.  Maybe they will have some genre rules or suggestions in their upcoming mentioned second edition.  Bulletproof Bumblers, Brawlers, Blues, Bastards, etc. or something like that. For a range form comedy through to nasty.

The name definitely suggests more of a downer than you get when reading it.
Artwork: Colour, sparse, basic with a little public domain.


2 0ut of 10 Price (lower is cheaper per page)
8 out of 10 Length (lower is shorter)
7 out of 10 Complexity (lower is easier)
8 out of 10 Playability
5 out of 10 Artwork

8 out of 10 Overall

This is an attractively designed game, Creative Commons with a great value price.  Any fan of superhero games can certainly risk their not quite 5 bucks and be very happy with the results.  I don't agree with the rules light mention.  Neither is it overly complex though.  Somewhere right around DC Heroes with benchmarks and target numbers with some additional rules on top of that.  I'd call it moderately complicated.  The rules section takes up the first 160+ pages but the Kalos setting has a little in it, too.  You get a feel that is somewhere between DC Heroes and Marvel Super Heroes with the ranks and tables I think.  The example setting would be useful for someone new to the type of game.

Definitely recommended for those that like the moderate level of gaming complexity or crunch a la Villains & Vigilantes, Super Squadron, Golden Heroes/Squadron UK, Icons, Marvel Super Heroes, DC Heroes, Brave New World etc.

Fans of superhero games in general will definitely find it a worthwhile and very cheap investment.

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