Splicers is a game from Palladium Books that offers one of the most unique, interesting, and perhaps disturbing settings of any role-playing game that I have played. It is part of Palladium's megaverse--a shared universe of games that you can port characters between. Other such games include 'After the Bomb', 'Dead Reign', 'Rifts', the game of interdimensional adventures that is best known for tying the megaverse together.
Splicers is set in a post-apocalyptic world in a far-off future perhaps on earth or on a human colony on another planet (no one is quite sure). Humanity struggles against an advanced computer intelligence known as NEXUS, that has conquered the world with its army of robots. Fairly standard sci-fi stuff so far--but with a few unique twists. The computer has unleashed a plague of nano-bots on the world that has infected all non-precious metals, it lies dormant, ready to infect and kill any human that even touches metal. Humans, being left without their standard metal-based weapons, turned to alien bio-engineering technologies to manufacture weapons to fight the robotic threat. Such weapons are grown by the so-called 'engineers' and 'librarians'--creatures that are part-human, part alien brain-shaped tentacle monsters connected to a 'gene pool'--a chemical bath that they use to engineer new life forms.
Human society is organized into houses run by powerful warlords that maintain armies to fight the robotic threat. Players in Splicers play a warrior in one of the human armies. They fight against the robotic threat in one of three ways: with the use of bio-engineered weapons, by modifying their own bodies to make themselves into powerful bio-weapons, or in a few cases, by being one of the lucky few who are immune to the nano-bot plague and using the robots' own weapons against them. The first group of warriors includes occupational character classes (called OCC's) that wear living suits of armor that give them incredible abilities. This includes archangels, who wear light armor that gives them the power of flight, roughnecks--who serve as the infantry of the human armies, and dreadguard--heavily armed and armored troops. The self- modified classes include bionics--societal outcasts turned into living weapons. Then we have some of the weirder OCCs that help make this game really interesting: skinjobs--stealth experts who have volunteered to be flayed and have their skin replaced with skin like that of a chamelon. There are the scarecrows--powerful enforcers who drink the librarians' brain fluid to gain incredible power of speed, strength, and near-invulnerability. Then there the game's healing class, saints. Not your typical healers, saints have volunteered to have their abdomens torn out and replaced with an alien brain monster that will some day grow into a librarian. Like I said, this is not your typical sci-fi RPG. And to round out the OCC list, there are also the technojackers--humans immune to the nanobot plague who wield traditional, metal-based technology.
The character creation process is rather involved in this game. Palladium games have a mostly universal system for the character creation process, which has a detailed list of specialized skills that players can pick from. Splicers has this as well, but with the addition of skill 'profiles' by which players choose a set of core skills relevant to their character, before picking individual skills. This can make character creation a bit easier. Though, the process does take time and preparation, it lends itself well to making characters for longer campaigns, with a well fleshed-out background. Characters wearing bio-armor suits in Splicers also experience the unique process of creating suits of living armor--a process that is highly customizable and lets your imagination run wild. Those with OCCs such as Dreadguard are able to create a suit of armor with a pool of bio-energy points with a wide range of options for combat, movement, defense, sensory, survival, etc. Ever want a suit of armor with hooved feet and tentacles that shoots webs, with echo-location and electric resistance? This is the game for you. You can even give it some tiger stripes for a few extra bio-energy points.
Overall, Splicers is one of the craziest and most interesting games I've ever played. It does a great job of building a rich and original world with minimal detail that leaves the game master a lot of flexibility to add their own touch. This is a great game for a long campaign, and it is well worth the investment of time that character creation takes. If you're looking for a game that's more sophisticated and creative than the typical fantasy or sci-fi setting, Splicers is something to take a look at. Though the rules are a bit more sophisticated and in-depth than the simpler systems we see these days, it is a truly unique and rewarding role-playing experience.
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