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Hc Svnt Dracones
Publisher: Weapons Grade Funk
by Stephen L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/29/2015 21:02:50
The Disclosure: Did not back this game on Kickstarter.

The TL:DR- In short, this is probably one of the best sci-fi RPGs I picked up in a long time, easily the best one since I was introduced to Eclipse Phase or Mongoose Traveller. At the very least it stands right next to Ironclaw under "furry RPGs I would recommend to nonfurry friends." It's not without flaws as I will list below but really, there are worse sci-fi RPGs on DrivethruRPG selling for much more then Hc Svnt Dracones. I mean come on, it's a good, almost three hundred page PDF selling for less then the price of a fast food combo meal.

The Rundown- As stated above, do not let the pseudo-intellectualism about "being human without being human" fool you, this is a furry RPG. That being said, there's a lot of fun things for everyone here, non-furries included, and no shortage of Stuff To Do. Since comparisons to Eclipse Phase are inevitable, here's where the two mostly overlap. Like in Eclipse Phase, humanity screwed up and lost Earth. Unlike Eclipse Phase, we kind of went extinct in the process (at least as far as anyone knows) and are survived by human-animal hybrids known as Vectors. Over the centuries that followed, the Vectors have explored the solar system and developed their own hyper-capitalist society, stirring up all manner of trouble in the process. It's this world of covert corporate warfare and cosmic horror that the players function in, one session could have the party involved in the conflict between Spyglass and the Inner Ring Police Force while the next could entail surviving a sudden Whisper outbreak on a remote colony (Whispers being monsters made of crystallized blood, one of the four (technically five) cosmic horrors mentioned in the setting.) The urban jungles of Mars and the living jungles of Venus are very well embellished; Earth, Luna, and the moons of Jupiter understandably less so (Earth and Luna are post-apocalyptic wastelands the Vectors have no real contact with while the moons of Jupiter are lightly colonized.) Curiously the asteroid belt is not mentioned at all, perhaps something the author is saving for later supplements. So there's plenty of places to go and things to see and do, from Pulse's gladiatorial arenas to the research stations on Io and Ganymede.

The Sticking Points- Let me begin by admitting I'm digging pretty deep here as this is a pretty fun game but, if I have to sit down and really think of one thing I don't like... besides the name being a bit of a mouthful that is. As mentioned, the game has an abundance of Stuff To Do but suffers from a shortage of Stuff To Do Things With. While the attribute system is surprisingly genius despite its complex initial appearance, options start to narrow further in. The equipment section is sparse but functional, disappointing considering how creative some of the items are (the Self-Assembly Module comes to my mind, a colony of programmable construction nanites stored in a hive the size of a softball.) The selection of Vectors are a similar story, five families each consisting of four specific species (except for the Avians who get three) plus one generic "uberspecies" like "dog", "cat", or "bird." But at least with the Vectors its easy to homebrew new families if you're particularly impatient. But then we get to the seven mega-corporations the players are supposed to start as the citizen-employees of. If the seven big corps have a flaw, it's that they're fairly narrow in focus, at least as far as character gen is concerned. Now, players get to pick two corps at character gen (the one that raised/educated you and the one that hired/trained you) and can broaden their skill selection that way but at the same time it seems odd that a corp like the Inner Ring Police Force (security company that produces PC storm troopers and police detectives basically) doesn't have a cybercrime division; especially considering their rival corporation is Spyglass, a corporation that appears to consist entirely of computer hackers and cyberninjas. Basically, if the system has a flaw, it doesn't reward you quite as much for doubling down with a corp as it does for spreading out. But on the plus side the creator seems to be a fairly responsive fellow and this complaint could very well become irrelevant in the next supplement or update of the core rules.

Overall, a solid game and a publisher I will be supporting in the future.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hc Svnt Dracones
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Free20: Details of the Future
Publisher: Skortched Urf' Studios
by Stephen L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/17/2012 22:21:04
Cons: The description overstates the amount of actually convertible material here. Most of the ideas and tables in here are too heavily dependent on the Otherverse America fluff to be easily adapted to other settings. A couple of the topics and items stray into "you did not just go there" territory (such as the "accidentally shot your best friend" traumatic past option) or are handled in an almost insultingly trivial manner (such as the entire Serial Killer/Sexual Predator section.) Overall, about half the material is too political to make much sense outside of an Otherverse America game.

Pros: It's free. There are about a dozen entries in the Street Vendor section who can be easily divorced from their political allegiance and dropped into a Shadowrun or Cyberpunk game without too much effort. And about half of the tattoo ideas are apolitical enough that they would make sense in a cyberpunk verse that isn't as politically-focused as Otherverse. Did I mention it's free?

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Free20: Details of the Future
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Otherverse America Campaign Setting
Publisher: Skortched Urf' Studios
by Stephen L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/17/2012 21:50:40
It feels bad rating something free so lowly but honestly... I guess I should start from the beginning.

Otherverse America is a near-future cyberpunk campaign setting designed by Skortched Urf' Studios. It's the near-future and the Abortion Wars have finally ended yet neither the pro-life Lifers nor the pro-choice Choicers are ready to give up just yet. Honestly this summery should have set off alarm bells in my head. In my experience politics and entertainment are like cough syrup and ice cream, most of us can't live without them yet mixed together they form an awful mess that no one with any brains would want to eat. So naturally I was a little apprehensive, but for the price of free I'd take the risk of Otherverse America turning out to be a Pen and Paper soapbox for one side or the other.

Unfortunately, the free PDF is such a disorganized mess I can't even begin to tell you what I'm supposed to be reading let alone whether or not it manages to be entertaining or apolitical. First of all, the PDF lacks a table of contents. For a small PDF up to ten or twenty pages, that could be forgiven. But for 256 pages? I'm not familiar with composing PDFs but is a table of contents really much to ask for in a document that big? Unfortunately it only gets worse...

Someone at Skortched Urf', in their infinite wisdom, decided to toss the traditional format of separating fluff and mechanics into neat orderly chapters in favor of literally mixing the two elements together. The end result is something that reads like a history textbook, gameplay mechanics serve as breaks between pages of lore explaining the fictional series of events leading up to 2091 AD when the game takes place... There's obviously a game in here but it's buried under such a mess of largely irrelevant text I'd be pressed to tell you if it was any good or not.

Bottom Line: While you shouldn't expect much for free, you should definitely expect more then what you get here. Simply put, this is a train wreck.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Otherverse America Campaign Setting
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