Superlink Secret Files: Organized Crime
From: TPK Productions
Reviewed by: Ron McClung
Superlink Secret Files: Organized Crime is a new Mutants & Masterminds d20 Supplement from TPK Productions.
This PDF is part of a series called Superlink Secret Files. This is the first of the series. This and future additions of this series will be collections of antagonists, rivals, and supporting cast members for a Mutants & Masterminds (M&M) campaign. Organized Crime itself contains five “dark & gritty” criminal groups geared towards the more darker super hero games.Although super heroes are not my first favorite style of gaming, I have been known to do it. I have been impressed with past products put out by TPK and this one already impressed me at first glance by the layout and cover art.
From page # 3:
"Know your enemy.”
As said, contained within are several crime organizations for a dark super hero gaming universe in Mutants & Masterminds. They are presented in the PDF in order of visibility, meaning the first one is the group most likely known to a given party and so on. These organizations are generally associated to the Powers That Be setting (introduced by the Escape from Alcatraz! supplement, which I also reviewed), but can be imported into any setting with a little adjustment.
Each entry follows a similar format, starting with an Introduction (a general description of how the organization came to be); Public Knowledge (information that investigators might discover if they research the criminal organization - just use the DC vs. an investigator's gathering information roll); Spotlight Characters (which have more detailed notes on history, abilities, and appearance); General Personnel (minions and other allies of the organization); Relations (a general discussion of the criminal organization's relations with other criminal groups); and an In Play section (ideas for the GM on how to use the organization).
The Deep Six, the first and most known of all these groups, is a group of super-villains with a tragic origin. The insidious group is made up of five death row inmates and a priest transformed into walking corpses by an experimental nerve gas. When they said "dark and gritty," they meant dark and gritty. This is a pretty horrific group and include the following: Horatio R. Hades - A level 10 sociopath serial killer who now is in a state of perpetual rot and has the ability to spread the zombie disease; Femme Fatale - The level 10 queen of the Deep Six who sucks life force to keep her human appearance; Yorick - a level 12 floating skull that has the ability to animate objects including his own clothing; Roadkill - the Deep Six level 11 brick with immense strength and invulnerability; Hellmouth - psychopathic mutated and abused boy-turned-zombie; and Dominican - a zombie of an insane priest who is a sadistic torturer of innocent people.
The Black Brigade is a mercenary group and revel in chaos and destruction of a military insurrection to the streets. Lead by the Black Colonel (how original...), this group of Third World military rejects and otherwise-unemployed professional soldiers hire themselves out to the highest bidder, may it be a terrorist state, drug cartel, or the mob. It is a very large army made up of a mixture of psychopaths willing to follow any order given for the money. However, there is a very interesting secret about their leader that I will not reveal here, but I find very interesting and something I can see used in a superhero game very well. This section also supplies complete stats of the standard members of the Black Brigade, Captain Bryant (an NPC a GM can use to introduce the Black Brigade to the players), and some of the hardware commonly used by the Black Brigade (for example LAWs Rocket, Hummer and Black Helicopters).
From page #2:
“ ...history and identity are unknown to the general public. Even those few vigilantes and veteran cops who have heard of him have never seen him. He may, infact, be a myth ....”
The Golden Don is a Hermetic magician and head of the Balsamo mob family. His Golden Boy button-men are backed up by supernatural beings from the ten worlds of the mystic Sephiroth. He is the most feared mob boss in the city. Using his magical abilities to gain his power in the underground, Frederico Balsamo (the original Golden Don) over the first half of the 20th century strengthened his position through any means possible. Working the likes of Aleister Crowley and the Corleone mob of New York City, he became a very powerful man by mid-century. After his untimely death, his son Giovanni took over, using the same skills in magic to maintain the Balsamo Empire. Combining two super-hero genre archetypes - the mob boss and the renegade sorcerer - this antagonist creates interesting possibilities. This section contains the stats for the Golden Don as well as a standard samples of a family crony and "magical allies."
The One is a street gang made up of superhuman teens with a variety of abilities. They are led by a proto-fascist named Rule who is a mystery to authorities and controls his gang with an iron fist. The major players of the gang range from level 7 to 9 and have some interesting powers. All six superhuman members of the gang are stat'ed out and are presented as antagonists for a teen or young superhero team.
The Mathematician is probably the most intriguing of all the villains presented here. He is a secret crime kingpin who sits at the center of a complex and sinister web that is so overwhelmingly complex that all Gather Information skills against his organization automatically fail. So strange and mysterious, you are introduced to him by first reading a long story that sounds like a huge SAT word problem. Actually, it is a long convoluted plot of unfortunate circumstances, what seemed to be small crimes and random events. In actuality, it is just another complex plot mastered by the Mathematician. This is the kind of villain I like.
For all entries, the "In-Play" section supplies enough interesting GM-insight into each group and a few good "nuggets" of inspiration to create ways to integrate the group into your campaign. I found these inspiring and useful. As mentioned above, it also supplies a box called Public Knowledge, containing the DC for an investigator's Gathering Information roll to find out information on the group. These are very handy and I like the design concept.
With regard to layout, I was a little disappointed with the art this time. Escape from Alcatraz! had some seriously good art, but this fell short of that by a mile. It is less professional and more like what you would expect from a second-rate PDF.
In conclusion, this is a good e-book for anyone looking for new antagonists in the M&M campaign. It is also good for most any superhero game if you are willing to do a little conversion, because it does have quite a bit of storyline ideas. Some of these can even be used in other genres, with a little tweaking. One of the hardest things in any game is finding a good and challenging villain for your players and these are some pretty good ones. All the ideas are reasonably inspired and idea-provoking. I would recommend this to anyone who might need a new villain.
For more details on TPK Productions and their new Mutants & Masterminds d20 Supplement “Superlink Secret Files: Organized Crime” check them out at their website http://webpages.charter.net/jtondro/tpk.html, and at rpgnow.com.