System– Flux System
Producer– Brabblemark Press
TL; DR– Night Watch played with a quicker, simpler version of Shadowrun. 99%
Basics– Time for an Arthurian Knight in Media Corp! In Corporia, players take rolls in the Knightwatch, humans touched by the flux, who now take up arms against the reincarnated forces that once King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table fought. With a reincarnated Lancelot and M.E.R.L.I.N., the supercomputer, at your side, can you put down the forces of Chaos?
Mechanics or Crunch– Like any full RPG, let’s break this one down into its base parts.
Base Mechanic-The Flux System- I can write the entire rules of the flux system down in a tweet- Roll 2d6 (called flux dice), take high die roll, add ability (called core values) and skill, consult GM. Done. That’s the entire base rules-for EVERYTHING YOU DO. Pretty impressive! It runs quick, but still has more than one die to allow for flexibility in the system. Want to convince a person you’re not a knight in plate armor hunting demons, but just a cosplayer riding the subway? 2d6(take high)+wits+influence, add role-play, and then consult GM. Boom! Done. All your numbers range from 1 to 6, so it’s not math clogged or new play unfriendly.
Combat- Want to hurt somebody or something? 2d6(take high)+ability+skill. Here is where some of the Tongue and Cheek come into play. Want to hit somebody with a sword? The skill is Getting Medieval and the ability/core value is strength. Shoot somebody? It’s deftness and firearms. However, this one doesn’t just roll against a static number; you instead have to dodge an attack which depends on the method of the dodge and the attack. Parry a sword is 2d6(take high)+deftness+getting medieval. Dodge a bullet is deftness+getting medieval. Unlike in other RPGs, defenders win ties. If the attacker gets a higher number, he or she rolls the damage dice for the attack (this system does use more than just 2d6), adds the core value for the attack such as strength for hitting with a sword, and subtracts the defender’s armor. If the damage is greater than the defender’s mettle (think a combined wisdom and constitution from Dungeons and Dragons/Pathfinder), the target takes a wound. But, this game also has hit locations. To find the location, you look at the total on both the flux dice of the attack and consult a chart. Just like in a real fight, most attacks hit center mass as 2d6 average to a seven which is the torso. And just like in most fights, the wounds you take cause you to lessen your abilities to fight! Take enough total wounds to be double your mettle? Make a Strength+Mettle test to not pass out. You can keep fighting until you pass out. Quick, lean, and simple.
Magic-Where would urban fantasy be without magic? Magic in this system is a bit like Dungeons and Dragons. There are two major different schools to magic-witchcraft and sorcery. Witchcraft is a divine magic from D&D, and Sorcery is a bit like arcane magic. Want to know how to do magic? 2d6(take high)+magic+spell type. Done. Just like combat, it’s easy, slick, and user friendly. Each day a spell caster can cast a number of spells equal to his/her magic core value. If you cast more than that you start to take increasing penalties to the roll. Spells can also be modified to add more targets or increase range by adding penalties to the roll. It’s not the cast till you pass out system I love. But, it does have push your luck, and if I can’t have my players pass out, I’d like them to push their luck.
Computers-It wouldn’t be modern fantasy if it didn’t have hackers. This game has them, but hackers basically work just like magic. Roll dice as above, add numbers, and compare to a target difficulty for a device. Quick, clean, and user friendly.
Flux Points- I love player driven narrative control. I want my players to have some chips to cash in to make things happen, and in this system that’s flux points. Players can spend flux points to shrug off wounds to keep fighting or to add to a roll before the roll happens. That’s always fun. Also, flux points are used as experience points to buy new improvements. That adds a level of cautions to how many points a player wants to spend on a roll. Flux points are earned by playing to your traits and having the game master temp players into doing crazy things. Unlike some other RPGs, players never have to spend experience points to avoid an action the game master wants, but I can crank up the flux point offer to almost ludicrous points to entice a player to do what I want. And that’s always fun to do!
Character Generation- PC generation is a snap. Near the back is a one page sheet that will easily give you the layout of character generation. You choose an archetype, but that just helps you, not hurts you as some abilities are cheaper depending on the archetype and the system is basically classless. Then, you define traits to help you build the persons personality and use a simple point buy to build your attributes, skills, and feats (called assets). Then you get flux points to get a bit of narrative control/point buy attributes and spend money on gear. As a final step, the future has a combined facebook/Foursquare system that allows you to log on to places to be more popular and have more social pull in a location, but you might also be tracked, so you decide how much of that you wish to use as a character. Done. I always love systems where half an hour is the longest character build time you need.
Summary-I like this system. Quick systems make me happy. However, unlike the quickest system out there Numenera, this one also has a touch of math that makes me ecstatic with the flux dice. That also builds in some extra room for manipulation. Take charging or running in combat- You get one move and one action per turn. You could run twice or run once and cast and run. When you do that you roll normally, but now you take the lower of the two dice. It punishes the player for doing too much, but doesn’t punish as much as you would expect. Also since the number curve is flatter, nothing spirals out of control too quick. Honestly, this is a great system what works really well as well as working really fast. As I’ve said over and over again, quick, clean, and user friendly. 5 /5
Theme or Fluff- This book walks an interesting line. I originally approached this RPG thinking it would be like Shadowrun. It has elements of it like cyber modification, urban decay, and urban fantasy, but this RPG feels more like Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. That novel is in the suggested readings, so that warmed my heart. Players wake up to being touched by the flux, but they are hired by Knightwatch to stop the forces of chaos in the world. Chaos isn’t really represented as its pretty evil in this RPG. That said, the book itself reads more like a corporate new employee manual than your standard RPG book. At every chance the authors got, the book uses corporate manual layouts for things like the character sheets and the magic sections is a pamphlet that the players get to read through. Even the abilities are referred to as “core values”. It’s those little touches that really help make this feel like you would be sitting around the coffee pot at 3PM on a Tuesday talking about filling out those pain in the butt reports to Lancelot and then at 8PM running around in plate armor with an taser bat hitting vampires in a nightclub. Well done. 5 /5
Execution– You can tell that the people who made this book put some real effort into this one. There are a ton of pictures here that show the staff all got into character. I would have liked a bit more white space on some pages, but overall I was really happy reading this one. I didn’t feel like I hit too many walls of text. Even the world guide to The City gave each area with nice pictures. You don’t get as much details about each district, but you also get a better feel for each place. It’s not perfect as I would have liked a combat example as well as a few more tables-especially for things like the wounds. It’s written in the text, but some of that information would really help as a quick reference or on the character sheet. But honestly, that’s nitpicking. What is fun though is the book comes with enough adventures that if you wanted to you could play from the start at character finding and joining Knightwatch all the way to a dual with Morgan Le Fey and ending the incursion of Chaos once and for all! Not many books are that bold as to give you the end of the game in the first book, but this one does it well. 4.9/5
Summary– My one sentence review of this system is: Night Watch played with a quicker, simpler version of Shadowrun. If you don’t need some overly complex mechanics in your game, this is an excellent system. Some aspects that Shadowrun has are not here, but that comes with some significant rules and mechanical baggage. For the setting, this is an amazing retelling of the standard Arthurian trope. It’s fun to read on a story that is familiar, but does stand on its own. Honestly, if you want something quick, easy, and fun for 10 bucks you won’t go wrong. Well worth your time and money to look at this one! 99%