Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Cosmic Patrol

Product– Cosmic Patrol

System– Cosmic Patrol

Producer– Catalyst Game Labs

Price– $ 25 for the physical book, or FIVE BUCKS(!) for the PDF here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/94125/Cosmic-Patrol-Core-Rulebook

TL; DR– Fun and light, but needs a bit more explanation. 87%

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Basics-Time to rocket off to space with the Cosmic Patrol!  In Cosmic Patrol, players (and even the GM!) take the rolls of different patrol agents as the fight for truth, justice, and Space America!  This is a story telling RPG that takes place in the universe of 1950’s Sci-Fi.

Mechanics or Crunch– Let’s break this down.  There isn’t much, but it is slick!

Non-Combat-For any action that the players want to do where dice are needed like decrypting an ancient alien script, piloting the ship, or seducing the green women and men beyond the stars, players roll a d12 (a twelve sided die) and either their brawn, brains, or charisma die and add those two together.  Brains, brawn, or charisma dice range between d4 to d12.  The Lead Narrator (LN), this systems version of a DM/GM, rolls a d20.  If the player meets or exceeds the LN dice roll, then they succeed.  Players also have a luck value.  If any of their dice roll that value, they succeed.  That’s it.  This game is built for flat out speed and storytelling.

Combat-Want to shoot somebody with you atamo-blaster?  You roll your combat die, and they roll their combat die.  You beat them?  You shoot them.  Done.  Weapons do have ranges like close (fist fight), near (across a room), and far (sniper duel), and those will indicate if you can use the weapon across the space or if you take a penalty to the die result.  If you do hit, you deal damage indicated by the weapon.  Done.  Like non-combat, die rolls are kept quick.

Damage-Weapon do damage equal to their damage value.  Every character has armor with a number of damage circles.  When those fill up, characters start to take health damage.  As the health damage track fills up, you begin to take penalties to your brawn roll, then brawn and combat dice rolls, and finally you pass out.  While quick, it also has the hint of realism that I love in combat.

Turn order- Outside of combat, players act pretty much any order they choose.  In combat, turns are quick starting to the left of the Lead Narrator and going around the table.  Players get basically a move and an action to borrow terms from other RPGs, but this is pretty much just left up to the LN to adjudicate (Remember this is a super-light weight game!  No need for battle mats here.).  After all the players take their turns, then the Lead Narrator has all the enemies take their turns.  It’s quick and easy to keep running.

Plot Point-I love cheating points from other RPGs, and I love them here too.  Plot points give you narrative control over what happens.  You can increase or decrease a die roll, have the enemy’s rocket’s thrusters cut out, rip the man out of the evil kill bot suit, or any other action that will enhance the story.  But, every plot point a character spends is given to the Lead Narrator!  The Lead Narrator can spend those to add enemies to a fight, create plot twists, or anything else that might provide some narrative fun, but they can’t use it to directly hinder a player’s roll or action.  Players get more plot points by acting using their characters cues/characteristics or simply starting their turn with no plot points.  The fact that these points are currency for both sides of the game makes them fun, and the nature of how quickly you get them back really makes the plot full of cheesy 1960’s sci-fi events.

Summary- Cosmic Patrol is in a sweet spot for me.  You get the danger of DnD 5e, but you also get the off the wall narratives of Fiasco as everyone really gets to tell the story.  It’s a granola and yogurt parfait; it has just enough mechanics to keep it crunchy, but enough fluff-based fun to keep it smooth.  Also, whenever I spend a plot point as the Lead Narrator, I can’t help but make the organ du, Du, DUN noise from any soap opera at my players.  It’s just that much fun. 4.5/5

Theme or Fluff-   There is a ton in this little red book.  The book starts with world building instead of numbers, and paints a world where 1950’s Buck Rogers would happily live.  It full of all the tropes you love and room to add some more.  Yes, everything you do in this game will somehow be a cliché, BUT that’s why you play this game.  It’s full of a tons of crazy alien threats to mankind, and all the classic rocket shaped antics you can find. 5/5

 

Execution– I’ve had nothing bad to say about the previous two topics, but here things will change.  This game expects a lot from its LN, especially from its first game.  Sure I love the small, red book, I like the art, and I like the quick character generation rules and examples.  But, what I hate is the fact almost NO game mastering advice is given aside from some of the standard that should be there.  As a first-time game master for this system, I didn’t know how many bad guys to throw at my players.  And to answer the obvious question-yes this is a story system, but it does have crunch.  So, it does need some balance to keep it fun.  Throwing a full ship at everyone might be story wise ok, but crunch wise out of the realm of logic.  Adding just a few more pages describing how encounters should go would really help.  Also, the game provides some example missions, but again, those missions are extremely barebones about their presentation.  You get a few bullet points describing things like 1) Find ship 2) Deal with inhabitance 3) Neutralize death bomb! And as a GM from other systems, that just isn’t enough to keep my creative juices going.  Sure, I can make a game happen, but honestly that’s a tough pill to swallow.  I just need a bit more to really make this a fully out of the box playable experience.  3.5/5

Summary– If you want a game you can just pick up and play with your group on an off night, Cosmic Patrol is your game.  You get the rules in less than five minutes, and that is amazing.  The theme is something we’ve all seen and, for the most part, love.  As I was running this game once, my ring tone for my parents started, and as it’s the Flash Gordon Theme Song, it was most appropriate.  What isn’t as good as you might expect is the execution, and even that is really only not on point when it comes to the game mastering side of things.  As a book with art, monsters, and world building, it amazing.  I just needed a bit more to help me start running.  If you want a Space Opera game with a bit more meat on its bones than Lasers and Feelings, but you don’t want Traveler, then this is the sweet spot for you. 87%

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Daily Punch 6-2-15 Medic Magic quality for Shadowrun 5e

You can’t heal stun from a Medkit.  Some people would like too.  Let’s work on that.

Medic Magic

Cost: 7 karma

You were the kind of kid who always had to get a band-aid when you scuffed your knee.  Now as an adult, it hasn’t really gotten better.  When you use a medkit to heal damage, you can choose to heal physical or stun damage.  If you choose stun, you heal half as many boxes of damage as the kit is not designed to heal that kind of damage.  The normal amount of medkit reagents are used when you heal however.

Thoughts?

Blurbs from the Booth- Origins Day 1 and Day 2!

I’m out at Origins 2015.  One of the most awesome cons out there.  I’ll reiterate what everybody else says-Origins is the right size.  It’s small enough that a know a good number of people, medium enough that designers are out demoing games, and large enough that there is an awesome selection of stuff at the con.  If you’re interested, here is my schedule.  I’m working for Catalyst Game Labs doing Valiant RPG, Cosmic Patrol, and Shadowrun.  If you get a chance, stop on by!

Day Date Time GM Event
Wed 3-Jun 1200 Edward Kabara CMP 2015-01:  The Tennessee Suite 1:  Copperhead Road
Wed 3-Jun 1700 Edward Kabara Cosmic Patrol:  Gravastar 2:  Into the Mouth of Evil
Wed 3-Jun 1900 Edward Kabara Valiant RPG, Unity 2:  Grab the Wheel
Thu 4-Jun 1300 Edward Kabara Cosmic Patrol:  Gravastar 4: The Center Cannot Hold
Thu 4-Jun 1500 Edward Kabara Valiant RPG, Unity 4:  The Rightful Owner
Thu 4-Jun 1800 Edward Kabara CMP 2015-01:  The Tennessee Suite 1:  Copperhead Road
Fri 5-Jun 1300 Edward Kabara Cosmic Patrol:  Gravastar 3: A Glimpse of the Future
Fri 5-Jun 1500 Edward Kabara Valiant RPG, Unity 3:  A Sinking Feeling
Fri 5-Jun 1800 Edward Kabara CMP 2015-01:  The Tennessee Suite 1:  Copperhead Road
Sat 6-Jun 1300 Edward Kabara Cosmic Patrol:  Gravastar 2:  Into the Mouth of Evil
Sat 6-Jun 1500 Edward Kabara Valiant RPG, Unity 2:  Grab the Wheel
Sat 6-Jun 1800 Edward Kabara Into the Shadows
Sat 6-Jun 2000 Edward Kabara Into the Shadows

I’m a day in, so let’s give the run down on the con.

Day 1

Day 1 started by sucking hard.  I started driving from my house, much later than I wanted, picked up my buddy, and promptly get two miles on the high way before the front passenger tired blew.  That slowed me down, made me miss my first slot, and could have thrown my con into disarray if not for the Catalyst Demo team stepping up to help one of their own.  Good people…Good people!

When I did get to the con, I watched the master run Cosmic Patrol.  I had read the rules, but it’s a much looser game than any I’ve run so far.  Also, while I love the game’s idea, the adventures are not as in depth as I would like.  After learning by osmosis, I then stepped up to the plate, and ran my first Cosmic Patrol.  I only had three players, but I had a blast and I think my two players did too.  They learned the true horror that is the Blaath! (dun Dun DUN!)  Then no one came for Valiant, so I was drafted to teach an intro Into the Shadows character creation game followed by some Crossfire.  I love both those.

Next is the main perk of running with Catalyst-the super secret, NDA ridden, ask Catalyst meeting.  Everybody got some insider info on when games are coming out, and then we all got some swag.  Since I’m running 32 hours of games, I got some awesome swag, and then headed to the hotel.  That was a little adventure as we’re a bit away from where we game.  It’s not bad as I can use the walk, but finding where I’m going in the night time city is a bit harder-even more so when the hotel lists its address on the wrong side of a one way street that isn’t even the drive up entrance.

Day 2

Day 2 started with some solid adulting!  I had to go and find a tire place to fix my car.  That took a bit, and I got a hard sell on buying overly expensive tires because of tire tread depth.  Pro-tip- it honestly doesn’t matter.  Second pro-tip-Don’t try the hard sell with me-I will walk.  Yelp will find me 10 other people before you finish you spiel on why you should get more money.

Then I got back to the hotel, got ready, and headed to the con.  I was running Valiant, Cosmic Patrol, and Shadowrun.  It’s now almost 6PM.  Sadly, no ones showed up for either Valiant or Cosmic Patrol.  Both are awesome games, but I’d like some more players!  I did give some quick, elevator pitches on both to some people walking through the room, but I’d like to run a few more games.  COME PLAY VALIANT-THERE IS AN AWESOME PRIZE.  You have to play a FULL, 2-HOUR GAME, but it is worth it if you’re a diehard Valiant fan!

That’s where we are now.  Tomorrow, I’ll hit the show floor, buy some toys, and have more RPGs and games to discuss.

Daily Punch 6-1-15 Dual Training positive quality for Shadowrun 5e

Let’s keep building of the small unit tactics idea.  What if you could double up on the abilities?

Dual Training

Cost: 5 karma

You don’t do anything by halves.  You don’t work small scale.  You like your cake, and you want to eat it too.  When you do a small unit tactics test, you can, in the same free action, name two different abilities.  You can make your small unit tactics test as normal, but the needed successes is the sum of both selected abilities.  Only other characters with this same quality can assist with your small unit tactics test, but characters without this quality can benefit from its result.  If you don’t get the needed successes of both abilities, neither triggers.

Thoughts?

Daily Punch 5-29-15 Tactics Training positive quality for Shadowrun 5e

Been reading Run and Gun for a few missions.  I think small unit tactics don’t get enough love.  Let’s add some bonuses to that.

Tactics Training

Cost: 10 Karma

You drill, then you drill, and then….you drill some more!  After 10,000 thousand times doing the same thing again, you MIGHT just not screw it up!  When you are effected by a bonus from a small unit tactics ability, increase the bonus by 1, or increase any penalties the enemy is affected by by 1.

Thoughts?

Daily Punch 5-28-15 Collapsible Poll item for DnD 5e

You know why haflings are horrible thieves?  10 foot poll is three size categories larger than them!  How they going to get this anywhere?  Let’s fix that.

Collapsible Poll

Cost: 20 gp

A 10 lb iron poll. that collapses into a one foot dowel.  It takes an  action to extend the poll.  It ways enough when swung at  a foot pad to set it off with the weight of an average medium creature.

Thoughts?

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Shadows in Focus Sioux Nation

Product– Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Sioux Nation

System– Shadowrun 5e

Producer– Catalyst Game Labs

Price– $ 8 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/142521/Shadowrun-Shadows-in-Focus-Sioux-Nation

TL; DR– A little pricey, but a great read 92%

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Basics– Time to step out onto the range and head into the NAN!  As you can tell by the title, this is a guide book to the Sioux Nation in 2075, a land constantly preparing for war against a much larger aggressor that doesn’t really care about them.  The book is written in the same Shadowslands BBS style that is always a fan favorite covering the geography, magic, government, people, and underworld of the Sioux Nation.  At the end of the book, there are a few small sections on how to great a Sioux Nation shadowrunner giving quick skill guides as well as roleplaying tips.

Mechanics or Crunch– For a splat book that usually doesn’t have anything at all for mechanics, this one is pretty decent.  The last several pages are character creation.  Now, there isn’t anything that specially makes you need to buy this book like say an amazing quality or spell, but the authors took time to write something and even provided skill break downs for quick character generation.  Not bad, but much more than I honestly expected. 4/5

Theme or Fluff-   Plan to run anywhere need the NAN?  Then you need this book.  Want to learn a ton of Shadowrun world history focusing on the Western US?  Then you need this book.  Want a great Shadowrun history book for cheap?  Then you should get this book.  It’s well done with lots of mission hooks and entire campaign hooks built in.  Honestly, you could run a several months game based on the history in this book alone. 5/5

 

Execution– I’ve been pretty hard on Catalysts bigger books lately.  But, like most of their smaller splat books, this is a well done piece of work.  It flows well, reads quickly, and is fun to get through.  And the price, while a little high, isn’t bad at all for some quality world building. 4.75/5

Summary– This is an amazing nation book.  You get all the information you need with good layout, art, and text.  While there is mechanics and crunch here, my only complaint is I’d like something more mechanically.  Throw in a mentor spirit, some custom gun mod, and maybe a Sioux specific spell, and I’d be on cloud nine.  But as it is, this is a good world book with loots of fluff to start a Shadowrun game or to have on hand when you players decide to knock over a Stuffer Shack in the NAN. 92%