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Rapture: The End of Days. Theological Sci-Fi Horror Core Rules $14.95
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Rapture: The End of Days.   Theological Sci-Fi Horror Core Rules
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Rapture: The End of Days. Theological Sci-Fi Horror Core Rules
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Carl P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/04/2012 02:26:25

At the risk of giving away my opinion in the very first line of a review: 'Rapture' is a game that deserves far more attention than it gets. I first played Rapture shortly after it was released and the very idea was enough to get me interested. Theological horror in space with a decidedly Ridley Scott's 'Alien' feel? Yes please.

'Rapture' is, at the time of writing, only available in PDF form and that's what I'm working with for this review. The 'Rapture' core package includes the rulebook, designed to be read on an iPad or similar tablet and also an editable PDF version of the character sheet, a poster with a map of the Rapture galaxy and details on humanity's population across the stars, some example schematics of space ships and a flyer directing us to the Story Weaver Facebook page. The Human Occupied Space poster is a great addition. That's a very useful tool for introducing the game to players and for coming up with story hooks. The example spaceships is cool, too and I just know that there are players out there who like to have everything mapped for them. I'm not one of them but that's beside the point. The character sheet is exactly what it should be and don't get me wrong, I love an editable PDF for character sheets. But I do wonder if it's necessary in a game where characters are expected to die often. For pre-made characters in a convention style game, it's awesome. But for regular games or campaigns, I can't recommend making all your characters this way. And then there's the flyer – it's a flyer. What can I say?

Okay! Now onto the meat. How is the actual 'Rapture' book? Well, it's concise and heavy and clear. The first part of the book explains the rules. The explanation is broken up to changes, beginning with the basics of character sheets and the core mechanic, then adding the additional systems such as fear, damage and madness in following chapters. While it should be an obvious choice to do it this way, it seems this is the first place a lot of RPG books miss the mark. To be fair, Rapture has the advantage of being a very simple and rules light system. But I'd hate to make it sound like the writer hasn't done an excellent job of laying out the book. Everything is also very concise and clear. It doesn't spend a lot of time clarifying and re clarifying rules endlessly. This is a book that makes itself so clear the first time, that it doesn't need to keep explaining itself.

The rest of the book, and probably the majority of the 'Rapture' core book is the setting. 'Rapture' is set in our world, in our galaxy, several hundred years in the future. Everything from technology to society and religion has changed and that's a lot of time to catch up on before you start playing. Fortunately the theme of 'clear and concise' continues right through the setting information. With all this history of the setting to explain, 'Rapture' makes a point of giving you all the details you'll need and then moving on to what's next. It's tight and without room for question. And that's a point I'd like to linger on for a moment. 'Rapture' does not leave room for question in any aspect of its setting, history or cosmology. Nothing is obscure, nothing is open to interpretation. The setting for 'Rapture' is the setting for 'Rapture'. I can't tell you if this is good or bad, it just is and it's something that stands out for the game.

'Rapture's setting details include include descriptions and mechanics of monsters, equipment, space ships and population counts for star systems colonised by humanity. There's also a lot of details about the history, about the political and philosophical factions that have grown in this world's history. All of this culminates in what's happening within these factions in the present of the 'Rapture' universe. After the setting and the monsters and some GM advice has all been dished out, the book finishes with some short story ideas. They're quick and usable, but I always find these kinds of features in an RPG book are more useful for giving you an idea of the kinds of games you can run, as opposed to being actual adventures you can run. 'Rapture' keeps to the status-quo. Their story seeds do the job without being mind blowing – but saying something is successful if not astounding is hardly a criticism.

So all this means that in just 133 pages, the 'Rapture' core book is a rulebook for players, a rule book for GMs and a setting book. That's a lot to cover in a small space and that makes the 'Rapture' book quite a meaty piece of RPG literature. Between you and me, I call this a win. 'Rapture' is honest and treats the reader like they're an intelligent and experienced gamer. This book knows what it wants to do and how it wants to accomplish those goals and, from where I'm sitting, it succeeds on all counts. The writing is tight and clear, the art is excellent and if you can excuse the occasional typo, the 'Rapture' core book could be the beginning of a great RPG experience.

The 'Rapture' book confesses that this is not the place to begin playing RPGs, but perhaps it is. 'Rapture' is a great example of how varied, how creative and how thoughtful an RPG can be. 'Rapture' isn't for kids and it's not a light hearted adventure game but if you're looking for something new, something entirely – almost obsessively – focused on creating thrilling narratives, then you'll be struggling to find something better.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rapture: The End of Days. Theological Sci-Fi Horror Core Rules
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Devon K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2011 20:10:29

Ah, Rapture! Several weeks ago a friend told me about this game, and I promptly forgot about it until I saw it floating around here on DriveThru. The premise is very religious in nature. God has returned and taken the righteous unto him, and cleansed the Earth by fire. And only the Earth. Man's outworld colonies and expansion efforts were of, apparently, no interest to him. As Earth served as the communications hub for all of Man's endeavors, everyone is instantaneously plunged into a communications blackout, without any idea as to what is going on. This premise is very interesting and provides a lot of ideas and problems to explore. The rules are very simple and are very easy to get the hang of. Creating your PC is a simple and quick task. Yet, for it's simplicity, some of the things that define your character will make for extremely interesting PC/PC interaction. With each PC having a differing religious view and/or political allegiance, the possibility for amazing fireworks is unlimited. The layout of the book was good, although the white text on black background made me go cross-eyed for the first few pages until my eyes got used to it. Also, the text was rife with spelling and grammar errors. However, these are extremely minor complaints and I don't feel that they detract from the book or the game much, if at all. This book is a quick read and the material is well presented and easy to understand. Despite it's flaws, I think this is a great game with a great setting and a good presentation!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rapture: The End of Days. Theological Sci-Fi Horror Core Rules
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Hero A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/04/2011 15:31:09

First point - brilliant setting idea and a great use of survival horror tropes. Second point - a nice simple (and much needed after combat) experience system. Third point - I'm a sucker for rules lite, character driven games, and this delivers, especially for large combat. Fourth point - fear rules, best I've seen in ages, an advantage in fight/flight but a serious problem with anything else.

General points - I've not yet Gm'ed this but have discussed points with players and they are keen, just mentioning the basic concept of the game world seems to get people interested.

THE BAD - no printer friendly version. The white text on black background is great for tablets but of no use when you want to print out pages for quick references. Yes, paper is so last century but I don't want to hand over my 'master copy' for players to see equipment rules when they could sneak a peek at something I don't want them to see. Seeing as StoryWeaver have packed so much into this bundle, a print version friendly edition of the game is a bit of an oversight. This loses it a point for grading.

Overall - As a Gm, I can see much fun with this setting and rules system. I particularly like the rules surrounding extra's for extra dice and for experience. It has a polished look which will be great in book or tablet form but ignores print friendly needs, such as character sheets and item lists

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Good point on the print friendly version. We've seen the market move rapidly away from print yourself versions - especially for larger works like Rapture. The Benefits of going ebook format are just too compelling, so we put all our design effort into that format. Still, if you think it's needed, then it is. (The customer is always right!) I'll get to work on a print friendly version over the next month. Stay tuned for black and white, paper-gobbling madness!
Rapture: The End of Days. Theological Sci-Fi Horror Core Rules
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Greg S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2011 00:54:59

This is the most clever, original setting concept I've seen since Day After Ragnarok. Someone really needs to make a film of this, right now.

The Storyweaver system might be a little narrative-heavy for some players (like mine), but you could just as easily port the setting and ideas over any another gritty system (Nemesis leaps to mind...)

Well supported with maps and char sheet, the overall aesthetic standard is high - the art is often on the disturbing side of moody. Occasional proofing errors have slipped through, but when the core idea is so inspired, who cares that much?

The fact that the pdf is formatted for iPad is appreciated.

A brilliant concept, backed up solidly - worth checking out.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rapture: The End of Days. Theological Sci-Fi Horror Core Rules
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Erathoniel W. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/30/2011 19:55:17

I'm gonna start this review off with a disclaimer: The concepts of Armageddon and rapture are those things that are sort of a theological black sheep. Some people believe in them, others don't, and anything involving a biblical apocalypse is somewhat of a touchy subject in between most any sects of Christian faith, and certainly between other faiths. As such, a lot of people will find a lot of things in this book, at the least, very politically incorrect. As such, I will limit my review primarily to mechanical and mundane setting critiques (and my traditional digital art griping, but that's me).

I like this book. It feels very much like a theological sci-fi horror, so it achieves everything it sets out to.

Starting off, let's look at the horror stuff. I'm not much of a horror guy, so it's a little beyond my comfort limit, but it's definitely very in tune with Christian theology and the sort of bad things that happen there.

Science-fiction wise, it's pretty hard with the exception of FTL (which good attempts are made to explain with theoretical methods, so it gets a couple points, even though it's a big theoretical) and a couple of things intended to build up a sense of demon-based intervention. I'm gonna take a moment here to point out what I view as a potential inconsistency involving demons here: the game acknowledges evolution as a mechanism created by God, but then disavows disease (and mental disorders too, but that's the thing everyone would attribute to a possession) as a thing of evil spirits (which admittedly transfer from host to host and involve bacterial/viral vectors), which can seem a little inconsistent at first (though it's actually not, but comes really close to being). A note to make is that they do carefully delineate that this is for their setting only, and shouldn't lead to people getting exorcisms for the common cold.

The mechanics are simple, but very, very quick, lending more of a hand to a storytelling format. I actually found that a lot of it made good sense, though I question some of the stats in the Gamemaster's section (there's an emphasis on one demon being weak to fire, which I could see, but the first thing every player will do is kill everything that isn't emitting flames with fire, so it's potentially a poor gameplay decision). Characters are similarly quick to make. Another thing to note about the rules is that for relatively simple character creation a rather different character can be created.

The system for "Extras" is one of the most interesting ways I've seen to reward players for followers while making them both incredibly useful and expendable. It also serves as a buffer for the game's very high (potentially, killer GM'ing is endorsed to such an extent as it benefits the plot, putting it in the upper acceptable bracket of aggression encouragement) mortality rate.

Ok, art gripes. I actually like the art in this a lot. It feels sort of sci-fi grungy apocalypse doom candy shiny fun dark to me, if I were to suddenly lose half of my vocabulary. The cover art is probably enough to show what I mean, a sort of hypersaturated super-dark thing I can only describe in terms that make no sense to anyone but me. I will say this though, it averts my normal "just a lot of photoshop filters over a normal image" gripe, despite the fact that that is what I believe it to be, because it actually feels good and useful. As a minor typesetting gripe, the columns of text don't quite line up, causing my obsessive side to shine through. However, it does a good job of not hurting one's eyes. At one or two parts, I saw some art that didn't fade smoothly into the background, but that's another one of my pet peeves that most people don't seem to care about.

There are also a few homophone/similar spelling word misuse errors, and a few punctuation and grammatical issues, but by the time I get to nit-picking about art and grammar, that means I've run out of actual gripes (which, you will notice, none of were directed towards the system, which is a badge of honor since I can usually find something to dislike). Seriously, though, angels are good, angles are the sort of thing you worry about when building stuff.

I guess if I had to gripe about one part of the system, it would be that the damage dice that are rolled are six-sided, while all other dice are ten-sided. That's how solid the system is (though it is minimalistic and simple, that's not always a bad thing).

Given that all my gripes had to do with the un-political correctness (which I'm not terribly up in arms about), and art/typesetting/grammar gripes, since the setting is well-thought through and has a strong connection to its subject matter, I'll give it a five for making me think, and generally being a fun, enjoyable read when I wasn't nit-picking. Also, the game does a good job of mixing various cultural, religious and political ideologies, even though the strength is primarily in political and cultural ideologies, since the religious focus is entirely Judeo-Christian (and, ostensibly, Muslim, though I didn't see much evidence for that and I wouldn't if there was). That said, it might be hard to find a group willing to play this (at least if you go into all the gory details all at once, if you ease in it may be more tolerable, but reading all the game in one sitting would be a major speed bump for some groups). Also, the price could be an issue, but with the amount of content (maps and an interactive character sheet that can be printed) that comes bundled with it, Rapture: The End of Days shows much more value than some other products.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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