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Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook $24.99 $4.99
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Jens A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2012 12:43:12
I was excited to discover Cosmic Patrol, but after reading the rules was disappointed by the game mechanics.

The system is slightly like a simplified FATE, in that characters have a fixed set of skills augmented by freeform "Cues", a health track of checkboxes, and a supply of powerful "plot points" that can be spent to re-roll or declare facts. Unfortunately the Cues have no mechanical affect at all; they're just there to remind the player of their character's personality and suggest likely actions. This seems like a real waste, compared to the richness of FATE's Aspects.

Cosmic Patrol has a GM (called the "Lead Narrator") but, unusually, the role rotates between players, with a different player as LN in each game "scene". Within a scene, players take turns narrating their characters' actions round-robin, with the LN narrating her PCs as well as the NPC / world actions. I haven't played the game yet, but I'm skeptical how well this will work in practice — it seems like a conflict of roles, in comparison to a truly GM-less game like Universalis, where the characters are, essentially, owned cooperatively.

The setting of the game is good, though, and there's a lot of setting in the book: a ten-page (appropriately pulpy) short story; 16 pages of history and world descriptions; 44 pages of premade PCs, NPCs and alien monsters; and finally seven two-page scenario descriptions (which are long on narration and color, but short on details of how to run them.)

Ultimately, the game mechanics felt too in-between to me: not as rich as the FATE engine in the very-similar Bulldogs, and yet more traditional than a story-game like Danger Patrol. I liked the setting, but, like most homebrewed RPG settings, I'm left feeling that I could have come up with something as good by myself given time.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
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