Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Synthicide Preview

Product– Synthicide

System– Synthicide

Producer– Will Power Games

Price– Prekickstarter Preview!  Check http://www.synthiciderpg.com/ for more information

TL; DR– Firefly, Terminator, Mad Max and Mutant Chronicles combined with sleek RPG mechanics 93%

 

synthicide

 

Basics– Man has explored the cosmos, fallen into war, and crashed back into barbarism.  Now, the Tharnaxis Church (a cult of synthetic humanoids) rules the worlds relegating humans to second class citizens.  How will you survive in a galaxy that doesn’t care for you?

 

Mechanics or Crunch– Let’s walk through the different aspects of this system as there is, alternating, a ton and not much to cover:

 

Base Mechanics– This game uses a single 10-sided dice for everything.  Want to shoot a guy?  Roll d10+Combat+bonuses (Combat is its own statistic in this game).  Seduce a robot? d10+Influence+bonuses.  This is either verses a pre determined value such as a armor value or verses a Action Difficulty (think a threshold or a DC) for both cases.  Also, your statistics do not have some value you need to determine: a Combat 1 is a +1 bonus to combat rolls, and an Influence 4 is +4 to influence rolls.  Unlike Pathfinder/D&D, I don’t have to do simple math to determine what my bonus is.  It’s quick and clean with no little fiddly bits added on, just the way I like it.

 

Combat-Combat is interesting as it’s point based.  You get a number of points based on your half your Speed score + 3 (divided down).  Your first attack costs 1 point, your next cost 2, and your third costs 3.  Moves are 1, while defending is 2.  It’s easy, but allows for a player to gamble on what they want to do.  Don’t want a defense bonus for the round?  Make that second attack.  Want a bonus to your rolls that round?  Spend 2 actions to get a bonus.  It’s different from the D&D/Pathfinder move/attack/swift mechanic, and I enjoy the flexibility it provides.  Also, as you move around on the battle field, some weapons allow for quick attacks (think attacks of opportunity from D&D/Pathfinder), but only some weapons.  You can’t quick attack with a claymore, but a dagger works just fine.  This is another interesting nod to reality I liked.

 

Damage-Above I mention that basics are d10+ability+bonuses.  If that roll hits, damage is the same d10 roll+combat+weapon damage.  I like that how well you hit also determines how well you damage the target.  You don’t reroll the d10, you just keep the same d10 roll from before.  I’ve complained before about how a d20 roll of 17 and a d20 roll of 10 can equally hit the AC 10 orc for the same damage of d8.  This system gets past that problem by factoring damage and attack at the same time.  WELL DONE!

 

Character Generation and Leveling Up-Characters are created by selecting human, mutants, part robot, or all robot providing some base statistics.  From there you choose an aspect that adds statistics onto the base stats to make your custom character and use point buy to get traits to further specialize your character.  It feels like any other point buy with one key difference.  Point buy will always win for specialization for character generation, but will lose to simpler systems in the time required.  However, Synthicide will hopefully roll out of the gate with a character generator.  The NPC one works great, but the preview did not come with player character side.  Characters earn experience points called trait points (TP).  Your character levels up when you have four gross TP not net TP meaning you have a running total of how much you have earned and a total you currently have.  You can constantly be spending TP to refine your character, but still moving toward leveling up.

 

Psychic Powers- Synthicide is an RPG that wants to stay rooted in science fiction without crossing over into fantasy like Shadowrun does.  To add “magic” to the system, the game adds psychic powers.  They are well done, and something you may be able to buy based on the physical body you have (complete machine people can’t use psychic powers).  For the most part, these powers are either limited to a number of times per day based on your influence ability or are free to use as much as you want.  Also, something I really enjoy, some powers can be super charged for extra effects that cause you to take damage.  I love cast-till-you-pass-out systems!

 

Drama-In addition to current almost standard ideas of giving players some chips to cash in for rolls and rerolls based on storytelling and role-play, this game also adds a drama system.  Drama is a number that is added to and subtracted from as the game progresses by player rolls and actions.  When the dam breaks, the drama score gives the GM a guide line on how to add interesting elements to the game on the fly.  It’s a fun, optional system that can help a GM better add to his/her world by integrating more of the players actions as well as dice rolls.

 

Summary- Synthicide isn’t perfect, but for the most part it’s well done.  A bit more explanation as well as a few more examples like a full combat example and some tables will really help the system.  However, this is a kickstarer preview.  If this is where the game is starting, then they are well on their way to an excellent product!  It got sleek combat and general mechanics.  The rules flow easily, and in general, everything is just set up to be user friendly.  Nothing feels bloated.  I’d like a bit more, but what’s here is ready for show time. 4.75/5

 

Theme or Fluff- This was a pre-kickstarter preview of the RPG, so I didn’t expect much.  But, I was surprised.  The game has a very fleshed-out world (Or should I say worlds?).  Even the Game Master section of the rules tells you to emphasize how little the world likes the characters.  The one sentence explanation of the story is Man went to the stars, made mutants and went to war with mutants, crashed into the near Stone Age while artificial intelligence took over the galaxy relegating humans/mutants to second class citizens. I get the feeling from this game of a recipe made from equal parts Firefly, Terminator, Mad Max and Mutant Chronicles.  Honestly, that’s a fun place to be if you want a post-apocalyptic space opera with elements of racism and the struggle to survive.  It can use more, but the version I have didn’t have any pictures, so more art will really help this one blossom. 4.5/5

 

Execution– I received a PDF of the game.  I usually harp a lot on spaces and art, but I’m putting that aside as this is a preview.  What is part of the PDF is the basic system, and honestly it’s done.  The thing I have in my hands would be something you could easily get on Drive Thru RPG for cheap.  That’s an excellent place for a kickstarter to be.  It just needs to be cleaned up a bit by adding art, more white space, and some tables.  Tables would really help some of this product by giving short summaries of what the different traits do.  That’s my major complaint so far is summaries and short tables would help things.  But what is explained and laid out well are the base mechanics and such.  That was a present surprise in an over hundred page PDF.  However, what also came with the preview package were the tools to make non-playable characters.  This RPG doesn’t have a monster manual, and while I want one, it does come with some tools to make characters on the fly with a computer.  That right there is awesome as it comes lock, stock, and barrel with a character generator and slightly ironic as now I’m building machine enemies on my laptop.  Overall, a well done RPG that’s ready to roll for it’s kickstarter debut. 4.75/5

 

Summary– I like what I see here.  This RPG went up to kickstarter, but was pulled to be refined.  I didn’t get a chance to read the original RPG, but if that lead to what I see now, that was an excellent idea!  What I read through is an easy to read, run, and play RPG set in an interesting galaxy.  It’s not done as it has now art and needs a few minor improvements to really make this one a grand slam.  But, when those are added to the final PDF/book, I think this will be a phenomenal RPG.  It doesn’t bog down the world and mechanics with unimportant garbage just like the mission statement of the company said they wanted to do.  This is one to keep your eyes on! 93%

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