Okay, so there'a a new RPG Blog Carnival up for February over at Arcane Shield now. I'm coming to really like these blog carnivals and blog contests because I enjoy a creative challenge. The theme for this carnival is to pimp/promote an obscure RPG which you like. I immediately thought of three candidates: Old School Hack (and Fictive Hack derived from it), Albedo, and Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM). All are pretty obscure (alas) but I think they're all pretty cool. This is a hard decision. I'd most like to promote Old School Hack because it's a beautiful piece of design work blending old school D&D with D&D 4th edition with wacky indy stuff. Fictive Hack is OSH customized and expanded for a particular campaign world and is thus also a great example of creativity. BESM is a game I agonize about because I love the simplicity of the basic mechanics but am depressed by the lack of sourcebooks to take it beyond being just a toolkit. Albedo is a really, really, really obscure game but has a lot of great design concepts worth looking at.
So what to do?
Well, I've decided to go with Albedo: Platinum Catalyst. I've done posts on OSH/Fictive and on BESM and I'll be doing more, so I really already have those covered. So what is Albedo? It is a game of "anthropomorphic science fiction role-play" by Sanguine Productions based on the Albedo Anthropomorphics comic series by Steve Gallacci. (Yeah, it's a furries game--get over it!)
The setting concept is that a large number of intelligent humanoid anthropomorphic animals of various species sort of woke up together one day with an entire planet already built up and ready for them. They had no memory of what came before that, no history, and no culture. The mysterious Creators were responsible but no one knew anything more than that. Over time they learn from a massive internet which has knowledge there for the finding. They travel to other planets, colonize them, and eventually there is a major war. Behind all that is the meta-plot of who the Creators, why did they create all this, and why did they leave (or did they really leave)? (The game doesn't answer these questions, leaving it up to DMs to fill in, but my read is that humans created all this as a huge experiment of some kind and are still covertly monitoring it all.) The setting is generally a hard science one, except for instellar travel.
The game is a military setting, with each player having a main character and possibly a team/squad/crew of up to several NPCs (who are not as detailed as a full PC) serving in the Extraplanetary Defense Force (EDF). A wide range of anthro species is available for PCs and there is a fairly good range of EDF career paths to choose from.
Features I Like:
- The stats are just Body, Clout, and Drive; these sum up the physical, social, and intellectual attributes of the character
- There are lots of anthro species to choose from
- All characters have a Social-Political Intelligence which is their career advancement score. Successes or failures in social and mental conflict can effect this score, as can success or failure on missions performed. This really builds in the importance of social, and mental spheres so that play doesn't just focus on physical combat.
- The game has the full rules and setting in one 175-page digest sized paperback; ever since starting in RPGs with Chivalry & Sorcery I've liked "all-in-one" game books.
Features I Don't Like:
- The setting is so heavily crafted for military games that you'd have to make a new one to do other types of games (and yes, I already have an anthro-heavy campaign setting in mind that these rules are just right for).
- There are just the two sides fighting (if you don't count the occasional bunch of pirates, etc.), so even the military conflict is pretty one-dimensional; but to be fair, this is faithful to the original graphic novels.
So that's Albedo: Platinum Catalyst, a very obscure game with a lot of potential.