Ring Side Report-RPG Review of AMP: Year One and Attack of the Buzz

Product– AMP: Year One

Producer– Third Eye Games

Price– ~$15 here http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/132784/AMP-Year-One

TL; DR– Want some amazingly customizable superheroes? Look here! 93%

 

Basics– When they showed up, everything changed.  AMP is a near future, heroic RPG.  Players take the roles of super humans in 2015.  The mutants have only been around and in large numbers for about a year, and the world isn’t really read for what they have to offer.  Will you fight to save mankind or destroy it?  Are you here to put these monsters in their place or will you stand with the mutants?  All of these are important questions that you will have to answer as you struggle to find where you fit in.

 

Mechanics or Crunch-This is a new RPG theme and with a ton of new mechanics.  Let’s do a rundown of some of the high points that are offer.

Base mechanic-This game has echoes of its d20 past, and I mean that in a good way.  Everything in this game is a d20 + skill A + skill B or d20 + 1 1/2 skill A.  That’s it.  It’s simple, it’s quick, and it’s fun to play.  Want to treat an animal’s wound?  That’s a d20 + beast handling + medicine.  Want to shoot a gun?  That’s d20 +marksmanship*1.5.  Simple enough.  It only gets slow when both the target and the attacker have to roll to determine if a hit is a success.  In my game, I found myself just saying 10 plus the skills for the attack or defense.  That change made my game run just a bit quicker.

Character Generation-This character generation is complex but has several walkthroughs.  This is a true everything point by.  You can really screw up your character if you try to min/max and fail horribly!  Everything from your speed, to your health, to your attacks is all bought via points.  You don’t have to take any points in speed, but you will move really slowly.  I love this style of customization, but newer RPG players really need to look over the example characters to make a useable character.  Unlike DnD5e where you make about five choices, when you make your character in AMP, you have at least 20+ decisions to make.  It’s easy to do as the math of the system doesn’t operate like the point buy from Shadowrun 4e, but don’t expect your first character to be made in five minutes.

Loyalties-One thing I wanted to point out from the character generation was loyalties.  This game has lots of different themes that are really well integrated into the mechanics.  One way that is done is with loyalties.  When you make a character you decide how important various aspects of your life are.  These range from your community, yourself, and to lovers you may have.  Each rank in these provides in game bonuses with ranks varying from rank zero to rank five.  I like the addition of mechanical benefits from role-playing choices, and these loyalty ranks really provide that connection.

Powers-It wouldn’t be a superhero RPG without superhero powers.  Powers come from several different general areas ranging from batteries (you store up energy) to behemoths (you are the Hulk!).  These powers all have augmentations that provide extra benefits like the behemoth has the crush augmentation that adds extra damage on melee attacks or the bolt ability which allows you to fire elemental blasts at people.  Most of these powers are dependent to on Juice.  Juice can be thought of as adrenalin, and it powers the superpowers of the heroes and villains.  Each broad category has a number of smaller augments that you get as you level up in the power.  Some categories have several different augmentations, while some only have a few.  It’s a quick and easy way to broadly provide the foundation for lots of different hero powers, options, and flavors.  Some of the names might be somewhat confusing, but looking over the powers the descriptions provide the rules and the story to how each power works.

Summary-The mechanics of this book are well done.  The game provides near endless customization and the ability to create the heroes and villains you want to be and see.  The new ideas such as the loyalties are excellent mechanics that other RPGs should employ that really developed the mechanics and the theme together.  However, this isn’t perfect.  Some aspects are a tad fiddly such as rolling for both attack and defense on both sides of the GM screen.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, but sometimes dealing with the amount of rolling in combat can be annoying.  Also, character generation is somewhat difficult.  If you know what you’re doing, you get all the tools you need to make any hero, but if you are just by yourself readying a character for a friend’s game, you might be lost in the amount of options you have to choose from.  4.75/5

 

Theme or Fluff- The basic story of AMP year One is that after World War I governments around the world worked on a super soldier project to stop war altogether.  Over the generations, the children of the experiments developed these super powers and passed them on.  Now, lots of super powered people are emerging.  How will the world change because of this?  What kind of person will you be?  This is a standard comic book intro, and this is semi-cheesy.  But, its super powered people.  You have to expect a little cheese in that territory.  Just look at the number to times Batman has died and come back to understand.  While it might not be my absolute favorite intro story, it does leave a lot of room for the GM to design a story in the near future world of 2015.  The first half of the book describes the history of the future, and provides lots of different story hooks as well as doing an excellent job of introducing the various groups at play in the lives of the mutants. Does this feel like the X-Men?  Good!  This RPG specifically mentions that as one of the main inspirations behind the themes of the game.  And since there is no currently published X-Men RPG out there, this is the best solution if you want to play in that world.  I think AMP does a great job driving home its theme while providing lots of different stories for the GM to run. 4.75.5

 

Execution– AMP is done fairly well.  The powers section is a bit wordy, but all the powers get nice flow charts explaining what augments you have to take to take the next one.  A little more art would be nice as well as color, but for a black and white book, it’s done really well.  The font, words, and layout all work well, and the hyperlinks don’t make my iPad slow to a crawl.  I would have liked a few more pre-generated antagonists for the PCs to face as well as a better guide on how to generate encounters.  But, on the whole this is a well done book that was fun to read. 4.5/5

 

Summary-If you want to play a free form superhero RPG?  Then, pick up this book.  The mechanics are simple, the powers work well, and the execution is great.  I have my minor gripes, but overall, this is a fun super hero RPG that isn’t too crazy or cheesy.  The world is fresh and interesting while providing enough open-endedness to give the GMs free reign in the stories they want to tell.  I was actually pretty entertained by the story that this book had to tell.  Since the tile of the book is AMP Year One, I hope the authors keep up with other AMP books or splat books to keep the metastory going.  93 %

 

How about two products today?  Here is the first adventure for the AMP Year One RPG-Attack of the Buzz!

 

Product– Attack of the Buzz

Producer– Third Eye Games

Price– ~$3 here http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/137727/Attack-of-the-Buzz-Adventure-for-AMP-Year-One

TL; DR– Know your group, and this will be a blast. 90%

 

Basics- Alice, Texas is under attack! Not by the mutants that are running around but by bees! Hundreds have died, and no one knows why the bees won’t give up attacking people.  Can you and the other AMPs you travel with find out how to prevent the bees from killing the town or will you end up like the rest of the town?

 

Mechanics or Crunch-The adventure is a fun one, but there are some problems depending on who is playing.  This isn’t a bad adventure for mechanics as everything presented makes sense in the AMP work and is balanced, but bees are swarms.  And, swarms are always hard to fight.  Especially with new characters.  Some characters will be completely useless for some of the major scenes in this adventure.  If you have a super computer hacker, then that character will spend most of his/her time running from the bees.  It’s a bold move for the first adventure put out by a system to feature swarms as the main villain, and I think it hurts the fun a bit.  However, the adventure does provide some new powers as well some equipment to help smart players.  What’s here is good, but the mileage your players will get out of the module really depends on who is at the table. 4/5

 

Theme or Fluff-This is one of the major events in the AMP Year One story.  My players enjoyed being part of the world and solving a major mystery that is presented in the main book.  It was fun for the players to work out how to solve some problems as well as fighting for their lives!  Also, the major groups all have reasons to send characters to this location helps me as a GM bring all the players to this location while still allowing the players to be whatever they want to be.  I didn’t feel like I had to shoehorn my players into this one size fits all adventure. 5/5

 

Execution-This product was laid out like the AMP Year One core book.  Overall, that’s good as I like the text, font, and layout, but I felt this lacked a few things.  Alice, Texas doesn’t have a map.  That was somewhat troubling.  However, I did like the fact that there is some new art like the main villain and the bees attacking the town. The art was well done, conveyed the sense of terror from a bee swarm attacking people, but didn’t go gory.  The RPG was still pretty age neutral, and that makes the super hero genera fun.  I would have liked a bit more art, but for the price of the module, it’s worth it.  4.5/5

 

Summary-As a mod that’s a cold intro to the system, this one might not be favorite.  The main enemies that are thrown against the player are kind of hard to deal with when players have limited resources and powers.  That said, if your players know that swarms are a problem here and they can plan accordingly, then this is a fun module.  I’d like a bit more to the module like a map, but for the price, I had fun and so did my players.  It’s a quicker mod as it doesn’t have tons of scenes, but that’s not a large problem.  If you need your AMP fix and want to learn one of the major secrets in the AMP world, this is a great way to get some more of the system. 90%

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