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Publisher: Contested Ground Studios
by Scott F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2011 16:00:21

This is definitely a true Gothic Horror game that scares the pants off my players, and that's a pretty hard thing to do in a "Speculative Fiction" game, let alone a Science Fiction one. The claustrophobic, conspiratorial, and violent nature of this game is beautifully designed easy to read, packed with information about a city you can't get of, yet provides for endless adventuring opportunities. It's just a shame that the majority of the artwork wasn't more dynamic and original, a fair amount coming from public domain sources.

A nice return to old school gaming with sleek new designs. a|state is very similar in nature to 1st generation games by FGU, such as Aftermath; or Iron Crown Enterprises to which it is very reminiscent of the 4th ed. Rolemaster FRP detail to combat and character creation. The Point Cost and Template system provides the purchasing power for your ten mental and physical Attributes, your Secondary Attributes, Wealth, Social Class, Education; which in turn, determine your Point Cost for Skills. Traits (or Advantages/Disadvantages) subtract and add to initial point cost. Using a simple d100 engine, this makes it incredibly easy to modify most of the major rolls.

Although it has ties to the past, with semi-complex character creation and combat/vehicle combat systems, it hasn't been avoiding modern minimalist systems. Incorporating sleek new design elements - such as rolling against your Attributes and only rolling against Skills only if it's justifiable; an innovative experience point system in which the players rate each others role playing and can create new traits, archetypes, templates, ; getting the players themselves to motivate the gaming, sometimes using the "Paranoia" technique of "you say it, you've played it" to push the characters into a fast, furious thinking on their toes actors, which in turn motivates the actors to react than do nothing at all. And as long as there's a reaction, a subtle Magguffin is often enough to get the characters creating their own paranoid adventures (which are usually well founded), in a city with almost endless story potential.

Luckily, the system is designed to be tinkered with. so adding "house rules" is something I highly encourage. Adding those rules that you just "can't get rid of" improves the game tenfold. I plan on running this for a while.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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