Friday, August 14, 2009

Companion In War

Welp, while I should have been in bed early last night, catching up on some much needed sleep, instead I was awake till close to 11 reading my the copy of Structural Integrity that the gracious TimeShadows was generous enough to mail me. Very kind of her, and much thanks I heap upon her!

Structural Integrity is a supplement for Albedo PC, or as it is sub-titled, a “Companion for Albedo Platinum Catalyst.” And quite the companion supplement it is…it certainly exceeded all my expectations, not only by offering rules for the use of vehicles, but also additional rules for creating new animal species characters, squad and company compilations, as well as more information and insight into the culture and mindset of the Albedo universe.

The book is thick and meaty, jam packed with variant (optional) rules and info. I’m not sure of the exact page count because it starts on page 177, picking up right where APC left off. I get the feeling that this is information that was intended for the original game and got left out for space considerations. Which is fine…you can run a perfectly decent squad left APC game with NONE of the info in Structural Integrity. The stuff in SI just adds depth to the game…such as details on officers and supporting cast personnel, or details to make combat crunchier. There are only one, maybe two new “marks” (the APC equivalent of feats/skills) so it’s not like anything is going to be majorly missed by SI’s exclusion from an Albedo campaign…all that tank and fighter combat can go on “off-camera,” as it were.

But if you do want to run a game where the PCs are part of a tank platoon or an aerodyne wing, this is pretty much a must-have.

Now I’ve blarged before that I’m always on the look-out for a good war game (“war” in games and fiction are the only type I support), and I think APC is the best so far. It is so damn thoughtful in its approach…whoever wrote this either spent A LOT of time and energy researching various fields of the military, specifically logistics and mechanics…or they had a career in multiple branches of the armed forces. I mean, for a complete and utter civilian, I know quite a bit about the mechanics of warfare, but it would take me a looooong time to compile it into anything as useable and thoughtfully laid out as the author of SI. This was a major labor of love for somebody, and it is extremely well done.

I just wish it had a different or more generic setting. I don’t have anything personally wrong with anthropomorphic animals (many of my favorite comics as a kid fell into this genre: Rocket Raccoon, Samurai Penguin, Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters). But it still feels a bit juvenile (not quite the right word) to get worked up in an RPG over the pathos of death in war of, say, a talking squirrel.

Is that being too mean?

Anyway, the problem is the game is so tight (and I mean that in every sense of the word) that it can’t really be adapted away from the animal setting. FOR EXAMPLE: If I wanted to run a kind of Harlan Ellison Man-Kyben war I suppose I COULD call the rabbits “kyben” and the EDF “humans.” But then I’d have to rename the animals as human archetypes (like “Bruiser” and “Runt” instead of “Bear” and “Mouse,” for example). Or even worse, re-name animals as different ethnicities or countries of man (wow, that’s just asking for an ass-kicking…which animal gets assigned to France or China?).

Instead of stereotyping real humans, one could change every animal into its own separate species…so rabbits become Kyben, tigers becom Kzin, bears become Klingons, or whatever. But aside from being a tedious exercise, pretty much resulting in the same thing (it’s just as hard for me to feel pathos for a dead “Romulan” as a dead squirrel)…well , what’s the real difference between a lion-headed humanoid and an anthropomorphic lion anyway? Nothing, as far as I can tell.

So you might as well stick with the animals. I’m sure my nephew S would approve (though the game might be a bit too crunchy for him). Besides, I could probably get behind some beagle paratroopers (based on my pets of course)…let me assure you, they would LOVE to hunt some rabbits “behind enemy lines!”

And I could probably feel pathos for a dead beagle.
: (

No comments:

Post a Comment