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    Fiasco: American Disasters
    Publisher: Bully Pulpit Games
    by Jim H. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 12/27/2012 14:36:33

    The thing to keep in mind regarding Fiasco: American Disasters is, "It's only five bucks." It's not brimful of content like The Fiasco Companion was, but it's cheaper. You get 8 pages of "Trainwreck Mode" rules for running mini-campaigns, a one-page Trainwreck-Mode filmography, and then 31 pages devoted to the three new playsets, including the typically gorgeous playset cover illustrations. As a nice touch, the Poppleton Mall playset includes a mall floor plan. The remaining pages are front and end-matter.

    The playsets themselves seem top-notch. I haven't tried them yet, but on reading they stand up well to good playsets I have played. Rainbow Mountain especially repays study for how, with its repeated mentions of literal farmer's daughter Cindy Peppering, a playset designer can bake quite a lot of narrative...encouragement into a playset's "random" elements.

    But I really bought this for the Trainwreck-Mode rules, and on a read-through the Trainwreck-Mode rules are...okay. They're warranted for up to about three sessions of play. So don't buy F:AD thinking you're going to be able to get four seasons of Breaking Bad-like roleplaying out of it. They're also a little sketchy. I'd have paid more for more depth, such as:

    • Trainwreck-tuned Tilt and Aftermath tables
    • The same sort of examples of play we got in Fiasco and Fiasco Companion

    I'd love to see Bully Pulpit revisit Trainwreck-mode play as a full-bore supplement. In the meantime, what's here will get us started. And considering the price and the excellence of the playsets, this existing supplement is very much worth your money.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Fiasco: American Disasters
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    Nobilis: The Essentials, Volume 1
    Publisher: Jenna Katerin Moran
    by Jim H. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 04/21/2011 23:29:55

    Nobilis 3e is the latest edition of a cult classic, but it's a great game in its own right - by far the best and most playable edition yet. If you liked PLAYING the earlier editions you'll LOVE playing this one. If the previous edition seemed somehow too austere and self-contained to you to imagine using, you should find the new edition positively welcoming. If you valued the Hogshead edition for its style and atmosphere, you'll do best approaching the EOS-Sama edition on its own terms. If you're new to Nobilis, you've picked the right edition.

    As a text, Nobilis 3e is lively, inviting and personal. As a set of rules, it's usable, simple, and surprisingly deep. As a revision, it's downright bold. Like previous editions, Nobilis is a diceless, resource-management system. Like previous editions, Nobilis PCs are defined by four attributes.

    Two of the four attributes are completely different. I wouldn't expect that radical a rethinking by any designer, especially not of a game that seemed as "finished" as Nobilis. But the changes are excellent. The new Persona attribute is the game's killer app, not least because you can finally turn someone into a frog (if you're the power of Frogs!). Treasure replaces Realm, which will be a relief to every player who ever put points into Realm and then had trouble using it in-game. The conflict system has been completely overhauled, and is a lot of fun now. The Projects system provides a way to pace and resolve player-driven plot lines. The Lifepath character-creation system is first of all a creative prompt for players, but it's also a fantastic generator of player-hooks for the GM.

    I've enjoyed playing this edition, beginning in the playtest period and continuing past the end of playtesting because it's just too enjoyable to stop. If you like hidden-reality fantasy - Roger Zelazny; Neil Gaiman; Stephen R. Donaldson; Jack Kirby et al; If you enjoy games ranging from White Wolf to Amber to Over the Edge; If you like armchair philosophy AND a good kung fu flick; if you think game sessions should be able to move freely among comedy, majesty and tragedy; there's a very good chance you're going to like this game.

    I'll ding the book for the following things. I wish there was more GM advice and explicit tools. The lifepaths and Projects system are, truth to tell, awesome GM tools, but they're not quite called out as such. The campaign-prep chapter that Jenna Moran guide; I'd kill for something on that level in Nobilis 3e. The much-debated art is hit-or-miss with me. I'm not part of the manga generation, so a lot of it is just outside my wheelhouse. It does have some nice pieces, and others that aren't to my taste, and some that probably count as bad on their own terms. I care a little about this, but you don't play the art. You play the game. And the game is solid.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Nobilis: The Essentials, Volume 1
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