Product-Uber RPG: Steampunk
System– Uber RPG
Producer– Uber Goober Games
TL; DR– A dense, but good, all purpose steampunk RPG. 82%
Basics-Have a steampunk idea in your head, but don’t have a way to execute it? This is the RPG for you. Uber RPG: Steampunk is a generic system designed to allow players and GMs to build the Steampunk world they want. Let’s dig into the individual parts.
Theme or Fluff- Usually I look at the mechanics of a book first, but this RPG’s theme needs a bit of an introduction First. Uber RPG: Steampunk is designed to be completely setting agnostic. If you want superhero Steampunk, then you can make this game superhero Steampunk. You want fantasy Steampunk, here you go. Magic? Same deal. That’s great, but you now have to bring many more of your own ideas to the party. The book does have examples of what kind of worlds you can build, but you’re the director on this one. This level of freedom is a double edged sword as now a GM and the players have to do much more of the heavy lifting instead of letting the RPG come prebuilt and prepackaged with its own world. The Steampunk is strong in this one as the author spends an incredible amount of time describing steampunk and the different forms of it. That is an excellent introduction to anyone who isn’t sure what Steampunk is. But, the saying “good at everything, master of nothing” kind of creeps in as so many different ideas a brought forth with only a little focus on each one. 4.25/5
Mechanics or Crunch– The system is a d6 based system. It’s quick and painless when you know what you’re doing. Let’s break down the different areas of the game.
Character Generation-Characters are made via a point buy system. As with the theme, anything goes as long as you all agree with what you want in your world. Several different examples of prebuilt characters are in the book, so you get a great idea of how to build a character. Look at the examples as your character build can kill you if you do it wrong! There is that much freedom here. If you know what you want, you can build that person from the get go. However, if you go in blind, you can make some serious mistakes that will end you in the first fight you get into.
Base Mechanic-This system is a d6 based system, but does not use the standard two numbers are good/one bad mechanic. Fives are one success, six’s are two successes, and ones represent complications. Every roll is mostly independent of any other number with successes dictating how well you succeed at a task. Dice pools are made in the standard attribute + skill ranks method common to d6 systems. If you roll more ones than total successes a botch happens where the GM dictates your failure somehow. This system is meant to speed up the game as the size of your dice pool can also dictate automatic successes. The larger the pool, the mightier the task you are assumed to instantly succeed at. I think that’s an awesome addition to the rules of any RPG. You reward players for building in one direction, but don’t slow the game down having to make them roll the dice.
Powers-This game uses powers to determine your attacks and other actions. Since the game doesn’t have one setting, Uber RPG: Steampunk gives you the ability to build whatever power you need ranging from magic missiles to Tesla coil ray guns. Each power builds a Mighty Dice Pool which keeps powers balanced. It’s easy to build lots of different powers quickly, and the balance also keeps things working like clockwork (Ha, Ha, Steampunk pun!) during combat. Powers can also be pushed which means that you roll extra dice or do extra effects, but this comes at the cost of doing damage to yourself or reducing the Mighty Dice Pool of your weapon. This represents over exerting yourself, running out of ammo for the gun, or causing some Steampunk device to go haywire.
Combat-Combat is quick and deadly! Each turn players get to announce and perform an action in descending dexterity order. Attacks use the Mighty Dice Pool determined earlier during character creation. Some powers reduce the effectiveness of an attack, but aside from that, there is no set number to determine if an attack hits and how hard. Characters do not have hit points. Instead, characters have conditions ranging from stunned (out of combat for one turn) to dead. After your attack with a power, you determine the number of success you got on your roll and compare that on a chart to the constitution of the target. Some powers and abilities reduce the dice pool rolled, but beyond that there is no defense roll or armor class from the target. It quick, clean, and very deadly!
Summary-This is well done universal system. You get all the toys you could ask for, but you have to build them yourself. Again, that’s heavy lifting for the GM as well as the players. Combats quick, but you do give up some say in what happens as aside from some powers, you don’t get to determine how attack affect you. This system works well if you invest time into it, but you do have to invest that time. You can also see the LARP roots in this system keeping combat quick and focusing on the narrative on the encounter rather than the numbers of the encounter. 4.5/5
Execution– I like the system, but the book itself has a classic case of text book problem. The book is incredibly full of information leading to several pages of text with few pictures. The text is small, but you can easily resize on an iPad if you read the PDF. I do like the quick summary of the game in the first few pages, but the sheer number of pages with text explaining everything in this book makes the book drag a bit. The content is good, but more pictures and white space would really help this one. 3.5/5
Summary-If you want flexibility; this is the system for you. The rules are well done to the point that anything anybody could want to make happen can happen. The theme is light, but that’s a direct result of the book being open to anybody who wants to make their own Steampunk game. The mechanics really reinforce that theme of open Steampunk design by focusing on balancing all the different things people could create. I do like the balance presented in this game. My only real concern with this game is it gets lost in its own open design and the density of material presented. The art is good, but there just isn’t enough of it. And, white space is your friend! However, if you can get past the problem of getting too much in a book, and don’t mind completely building your own world and powers, this book is a well stocked tool box for building your own Steampunk world. 82%