Its been a while since I looked at what was on offer at Precis Intermedia who have long been one of my favorite publishers. I’m a big fan of the Iron Gauntlets fantasy setting as well as Coyote Trail Wild West Adventures and the delightful Two Fisted Tales pulp RPG.
There are three reasonably new lines from Precis Intermedia that have caught my eye, I haven’t had time yet to play them all but I most certainly will and all for different reasons.
The first is Lords Of Olympus, a diceless roleplaying game set in the worlds of Oympian fantasy.
Portray gods and demigods — children of Olympian Gods, Titans, or Primordials in this diceless roleplaying game of multi-dimensional mythology Fantasy. Explore new realms or the classic worlds of Earth and Mythological Greece. Visit Zeus’ Olympus, Poseidon’s Seas, or Hades’ Underworld. Mix politics with intrigue, alliances with wars as power-struggles and vengeance drive stories. Or, go the route of lesser power with mortals and heroes.
Now in the past I have struggled to get some of my groups to participate in diceless games, the emphasis is inevitably more on the story than the rules, you need to feel perhaps a little more creative and my experience is that this tends to scare some players away. Lords of Olympus has its roots in the Amber diceless system which could probably claim to be the original and greatest diceless system ever – it makes the game easy to pick up and ensures quick and flowing gameplay.I haven’t come across another game in the Olympian setting that has as much to offer as Lords Of Olympus, the scope of the game is truly epic and I can easily see myself running godly campaigns across Mythological Greece, venturing across Poseidon’s seas and into the underworld ruled by Hades or maybe even taking my Greek heroes and demigods into the future.
Lords of Olympus encourages players and writers to produce and publish their own supplements for the game, royalty free offering an Open Supplement License – and I am certain there will be plenty of material appearing in due course.*Note – When we first published this article we mistakenly noted the diceless system which underpins Lords of Olympus as being Active Exploits (a very good system in its own right), however we should have stated that it was the Amber diceless system – please accept our apologies for this editorial error.
Next a reprint of an RPG classic Shatterzone. Originally published in 1993 by West End Games, Shatterzone is classic Sci-Fi roleplaying at its best:
“Space is big… Life is hard… And the Universe isn’t just a game anymore”.
I always liked Shatterzone because it was easily customized, and this is still the case, the guidelines (rules?) for creating your own alien species always pleased me allowing for truly unique player characters. With a vast setting from primitive worlds to high-tech megacorporate bases, from alien discoveries to the unknown mysteries of the Shatterzone itself there is plenty to keep a band of space adventurers busy whether a single game or over an extended campaign.
I haven’t yet had time to read the Precis Intermedia version in detail, but from my quick review they seem to have stuck to the original rules and material, which is good. With a basis in the Masterbook RPG, but complete in its own right character creation is a simple points based process allowing you to balance attributes, skills, advantages and disadvantages. The system itself is easy and quick to pick up with a simple results table guiding and helping measure the success of any action, be that combat or some kind of social interaction.
There are already three supplements available for Shatterzone: Brain Burn and Shadow Of A Black Sun – both very diverse campaign guides, and Zeenarchs – A xeno-archeology supplement – offering something very different.
I love seeing good old games reprinted in this way and most importantly I love seeing new generations of roleplayers exploring the games that I enjoyed over two decades ago. If you didn’t have it back then, don’t miss out now.
Finally something that I am very excited about. The world of Bloodshadows. I have two favorite genres of RPG, like many I love a fantasy campaigns and I have a real penchant for film noir style settings. Well that in a nutshell is Bloodshadows.
There are a couple of excellent strap-lines used about the product: “Fantasy climbs out of the dungeon – Dragons are the least of your worries” and “You’re not just hunting monsters anymore… You’re playing them”
Once again, like Shatterzone, Bloodshadows is a reprint of a 1994 West End Games release. But for some reason it is one that passed me by and I had never heard of before. It is worth noting straight away that Bloodshadows is only a source book for use with the Masterbook system – you do need both to play. Luckily this too has been reprinted by Precis Intermedia.
The World of Bloodshadows is a roleplaying game that combines pulp adventures with dark fantasy. As it says on the tin it takes fantasy out of the moldy old castles and ancient tombs, and brings it back to the black magic alleys and cheap gin joints where it belongs. Tough detectives in weathered trenchcoats swap biting comments with vampires in evening gowns. Humans walk down dark streets side by side with demonic breeds and long-dead ghouls. And death — or Undeath — waits around every corner. Your weapons are magic and technology, but neither replaces a good head on your shoulders. And you’ll have to work to keep it there. You’re not just hunting monsters anymore… you’re playing them.
Bloodshadows is a game I really look forward to playing and I can imagine running. I have for a long time thought about setting a game in the worlds of “exorcist come PI” Felix Castor, based on the novels of Mike Carey – maybe this is the system to do it with.
Take a look, three games one publisher all very different but promising much in the way of good old RPG fun and games.