I recently purchased Kazei 5 for a couple of reasons. I’m a hero system player and aspiring GM but don’t really have the skill in the system to work out the true crunch of the system – so I need a framework to hang things off of.
Secondly, with the new Hero 6th edition I don’t want to go through and try to convert things from 5th ed.
Finally, I’m a little tired of the generic fantasy settings and wanted something more modern.
Kazei 5 works on all of these and does so very well. Considering that the book has been created more by fans and freelancers as opposed to a company of paid staff, the professionalism of the book is even more impressive.
I have the bookmarked PDF version through choice – I live in an isolated area and prefer to receive things quickly rather than waiting a week. I also like the ability to search for text. But a hardcopy version is available for those that prefer.
After the introduction, which explains a few of the setting assumptions and concepts, the book goes into specifics concerning many of the powers and abilities that will effect characters; namely Cyberware, Cyborgs, Cyberspace, Espers and Mecha. While I consider cyberware and cyborgs merely an extension of the same thing, this is probably going to be a major part of the game so extra coverage is justified. The cyberspace rules could use a little work in my opinion but are innovative in approaching what could be a problematic rules area.
The book also explains that you can remove any or all of these concepts and the system still works. In my campaign, since I’m not a big fan of Mecha, my plan is to change (nerf) it to more powered armor rather than giant robots.
The real meat of the book comes next where it talks about character options, how skills can be customised, etc. It then goes into specialist equipment characters (and NPCs) can have. It uses the system described in the Hero book Dark Champions and it is very useful to have access to that as the list provided in Kazei 5 is not comprehensive and even suggests that Dark Champions supplement this. However, the equipment that is included is definitely well thought out.
The next section, also very meaty, contains details of the future timeline for Kazei 5 as well as details of what has happened on each continent. It does include a great deal of detail on what has happened in the US and South East Asia – Japan and China specifically but there is plenty of scope for a GM to set campaigns elsewhere. Indeed, I plan on setting my own game in Melbourne, Australia. This is my favourite section of the book and I can’t help thinking perhaps it should have been earlier in the book which would have helped me make sense of some of the things that came before. Still, this is a minor quibble and doesn’t really detract from the book itself.
Finally there are some NPCs which help expand the US and SEA sections of the world as well as providing me the vital templates I’ll need to fashion my own NPCs. As well there is a GM only section which reveals many of the secrets of the campaign as well as a ‘future timeline’, a feature I haven’t seen before but I find very useful and intriguing.
All and all, Kazei 5 is an excellent book for anyone who wants to start or play in a cyberpunk, anime or even a futuristic Dark Champions setting. The permutations are somewhat endless – the concepts of zero zones could be expanded into a post apocalyptic campaign. For myself, I’m not terribly keen on the anime elements like ‘cat girls’, but they are easily edited out without getting rid of other game elements. It’s given me pretty much everything I want.
4 out of 5