Freaky Game Friday (Weird Game Wednesday in spirit) – Age of Ruin

Wednesday Adam has been talking about a game he picked up; specifically he was talking about one element: telepathic mutants with giant frontal lobs that warp the forehead into something that looks like a butt, called ‘Buttheads’. With such a high-minded concept we decided to subject it, and ourselves, to Weird Game Wednesday.

However, time being what it is and the number of roleplay games and other activities we have going, Weird Game Wednesday has had to be rechristened to Freaky Game Friday.

The premise remains the same. For those unfamiliar: Can we create a character, play a game and call it a fun night?

Age of Ruin – from Cutting Edge Games who, in stark contrast to their business name, don’t have a webpage – is a post-apocalyptic setting in which the survivors of a man-made plague live in a doomed world as mutants. Which may explain the grotesque cover of the book, and that might explain why we haven’t seen a webpage from Cutting Edge Games. At any rate, mankind is doomed by last act of war; plague produces unique and sparkly mutants; everybody gets along, by which I mean they try to stove in your head, using something heavy or psychic powers. It’s a pretty harsh time, as one might expect; I mean, there aren’t even any copy editors or proofreaders in this hellish landscape…

…No, wait, I mean there aren’t any at Cutting Edge Games. The organisation and layout of this book is a hellish landscape unto itself with rules contradictions, inconsistent values, slap-shod equipment list and, I’m pretty sure, a bonfire on page 46 to the pagan reader gods. You could get into a war over whether you get two or three psychic powers depending on whether you follow the rules on Page 31, 50 or 77 (we of the mighty 77 would crush the filth of page 31!). Art isn’t much better as sketchy line drawings scatter the pages like nuclear fallout. The only time it does shine is when it gives you descriptions of the different types of guns you can get. But if you’re going to buy a gun, just buy the prettiest as you could choose any one (assuming you can afford it) from the four pages of pistols and be assured that there stats will be the same “Medium Calibre Pistol” on Page 40.

And then there’s the adventure in the book… But before we get into that, let’s take a look at…

CHARACTERS

For those new to this, Rhys Ness and I will create characters of specific stereotypes, which test the range, balance and variety of generating characters as well as giving each other the opportunity to take digs at one another for being predictable. So…

Rhys: Combat Munchkin. Having heard the words ‘Mutant’ and ‘Post-Apocalyptic’, decided his character would be Blanka from Street Fighter (which he called Baraka at the time, making me think, right up to the second draft of this post, that he was talking about the bald pointy mutant from Mortal Kombat) only old, retired and senile. Because Blanka was such a sharp tack before, you see.

Me: Pyschic/Magic Whore. I ended up going with a professor who nobody ever seemed to listen to. Can’t imagine why as he’d be always right. I also decided to max out his psychic powers which would have repercussions later.

Ness: Dex-Monkey (though it should be said that she ends up being the most versatile of the three of us when it comes to character concepts). At first uncertain about what character she choose, she settled on the eye-candy leather/chainmail bikini girl. As with my psychic powers, the mutant drawbacks she got would define her character.

Age of Ruin has eight attributes: Charisma, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Luck, Mind Strength, Quickness and Strength. In the first encouraging bit of news, we were told that this was a point-buy system and not the roll-and-hope (and-miss-and-reroll-your-character-again) misery that made up my Fringeworthy and Proteus experiences. Adam announced that we had 425 points to spend.

Me: 425! For the whole character?
Adam: Nope, that’s just for your attributes.

As it turns out, Adam is a liar as the attributes are your entire character. Everyone starts with the same number of skills, money, mutant ability choices and so on. Not to mention the attributes inform your skills as to what rating they are. Further, they start at 0 and have a maximum of 99, so the 425 points that had looked so promising at the start were dwindling like the pretty girls at Last Call.

Adam then pointed out an important design feature: You wouldn’t get penalised so long as each attribute was at least 31.

248 points left to assign at my discretion meant there was still one good-looker left at the party! Adam snatched that away with another important design feature: Everything from 31 to 70 means precisely dick as any attribute bonus kicked in at 71!

With a yawning gap, to the tune of 40 points, to bridge we were left with no choice but to min-max:

Rhys unloaded his points with Endurance, Strength and, surprisingly, Luck;
Ness favouring Endurance, Dexterity and Quickness;
and myself choosing Charisma, Intelligence and Mental Strength.

After reaping the rewards of our points allocations, it was time to get to the exciting part of character creation: Mutations!

…Actually we didn’t because there was one other attribute we’d neglected to remember: Superstitious. Fortunately it didn’t require us to sacrifice our sterling attributes, nor bring our just-above-par attributes down to the levels of borderline retarded. Superstitious is decided solely by the player as to what there character believes.

Superstitious was the degree to which practices like faith-healing, shamanism and curses would affect your character. The same dung-encrusted stick that’s rubbed over a wound could heal you, just as easily as doom you and the extent to which they could do that to you, outside of dysentery, was dependent on how much of a sucker/believer you were.

Being an uneducated warrior-mutant, Rhys took his superstitious value in the mid 80’s, Ness kept an open mind around the middle and I, being a man of SCIENCE! left it at 1 after I learned you couldn’t have it at 0. Now we were ready for mutations!

Mutant abilities come in two flavours: There are various body altering types ranging from spines, to extra arms, to fur to long-range vision, each of these seducing you with bonus abilities while slapping you with drawbacks. For example: Mutants with spines couldn’t wear armour, furries were more flammable (true facts!), you could see a long way but not in colour. The other flavour was a +10 point bonus to an attribute of your choice but it meant you rolled on the random drawback table as a result. We had a choice of taking between none to three mutations and each of us decided to throw caution to the wind.

Rhys: Originally wanted Claws only to discover that there aren’t any claws in Age of Ruin. He was about to choose Spines, stating that at Blanka’s age, he had ear and nostril spines as well as everywhere else, before discovering that armour and proper weapons would keep him alive longer. There was a moment where we thought we would get a Blanka/Goro combination (further adding to belief he was talking about Baraka earlier) when Adam read out the extra arms mutation, but…

Adam: You get an extra action during combat but – 15 points to strength.
Rhys: That’s g@y! It’s two extra arms, I should be able to carry more.
Adam: They share the same muscle group as the regular arms, hence the weakness.
Rhys: What else you got?
Adam: Size?
Rhys: What’s that do.
Adam: Makes you really big and gives you +15 strength.

Even with this loophole, Rhys decided to put his mutant points directly into attributes.

Ness opted for a prehensile tail and pheromones that would give bonuses to her charisma. She then announced that she wore pointed ears and would be making her character into a Catgirl. After she spent the last mutant ability into dexterity, it moved on to me, who decided to throw caution, and dice, to the wind and put all three straight into attributes. A roll on the drawback table later…

Rhys: Extra Sweat Glands (easier to dehydrate. Also stinks but it wasn’t written in the book)
Ness: Hard of hearing (Which she kept forgetting because her drawback sucked compared to…
Me: Orange Eyes! Near-sighted Orange Eyes that is, as well as Extra Sweat Glands (Not a fragrant group, ours),

After some bitching from Ness – who wanted orange eyes as well and had to be talked out of restarting her character until the random roll on the drawback table complied – we moved onto the Psychic section. The decision to be psychic is the player’s choice, though you need a high Mental Strength to get powers as well as spend Mental Strength to obscene levels to use them. Fortunately I had put my Mental Strength to 91, giving me three powers (as per the ruling on page 77) and three rolls on the psychological drawback table. I chose:

Psychic Crush: The ability to hit your enemies where it hurts that’s not the figgins
Illusion: Always a nifty, easy-to-abuse power regardless of the system.
Vampire: Siphon Mental Strength points from your target to you. This was a necessity as I’d be spending Mental Strength to be use these gifts and would need to replenish fast. Also, if I fell below 46, I would explode and spew molten-crazy in the form of:

Authoritaphobia: Fear of people in authority. Soooo glad I spent points on my Charisma.
Arachnaphobia: Fear of spiders and bugs, regardless of the number of legs.
Agoraphobia: Fear of heights. Originally I had thought I’d rolled a 17 instead of a 77, missing out on playing a character who was convinced he was a werewolf. Godammit!

Onward to skills!

Once again it’s the character’s choice as to whether you choose skills from the Primative List or the Technical List, based on how your character is shaping up at this point. Everybody gets the same number of skills unless you have high Intelligence. If so, you get to choose a skill or two from a separate Advanced Skill List.

As it turns out, eight skills may have been somewhat generous as I’m sure each list had only twelve to choose from and most of them didn’t appeal. The ratings were based on what attribute it was linked to, and how much points you’d spent on it. So if it was between 31 and 70, you got 35 points in the skill and if you spent 40 OR MORE POINTS then you got a 10 point bump to 45 instead!

Bargain…

Rhys chose from the Primative Skill List while Ness and I chose from the Technical Skill List. Once we got done with primary and secondary choices, I picked Medicine and Chemistry from the Advanced Skill List and we were ready to look after the sundry details.
Hit points are determined by rolling 3D10 and adding any benefits from the Endurance attribute. Rhys and I ended up with 26 and 22 respectively. Ness did not do so well, managing to get 12 out of her dice.

It was then announced that these values would be the Hit Points for a High and Low category, referring to everything above the waist as ‘High’ and everything under as ‘Low’. Ness, wholly unimpressed with her dice-rolling skills, opted to call hers “F&*KING HIGH and F&*KING LOW. And while it could be argued that this was in keeping for her Catgirl character, this result could have just as easily been for Blanka the seven-foot tall supposedly brick shithouse, with only a six point bump from a high Endurance attribute to make it slightly tougher than a glass shithouse.

By player-demand, equipment was largely hand-waved as none of us are from the school of D&D; that states you need to carry flint, tinder and a 10 foot pole so as not to die. Skipping to weapons; I had planned to rely upon the psychic gifts SCIENCE! had given me but, choosing a paltry skill in melee weapons from an even paltrier skills list just to fill a slot, I decided to take a club. Ness bought some daggers and Rhys took a two-handed sword. Then it came time to calculate our defense.

Adam: Everyone starts with 5 defense, plus Dexterity bonuses and whatever you got for armour. Except you Rhys, you start at zero.
Rhys: Why?
Adam: The two-handed sword conveys a -5 penalty to defense because it’s not designed to parry attacks…

…What followed was a vociferous lecture about the abilities of a two-handed sword in the proper hands and game designers not having a clue about weaponry up to and including which bit goes in the other guy. Rules being rules though, Rhys opted to buy a sword and shield and passed the savings of this cheaper and more defense-friendly design onto some leather armour. Ness and I picked up Junkyard armour – the cobbling of various scrap metal into protection – as well as a cooking pot for a helmet and then we only had names left to choose.

Rhys: B.O. Blanka
Ness: Neko Neko Kiko
Me: Dr Gregory Cottage

And now it was time to game!

THE ADVENTURE

Using the sample adventure in the back of the book, B.O. Blanka, Kiko and Dr Cottage were heading to the town of Durango, looking for money – or automotive supplies as, again, given the shortage of unique skills, Ness had chosen Drive Small Vehicle and Combat Drive, and I chosen Auto Repair, thinking we could build a car so as not to make the skills a total waste. Suddenly we came across the ruined husk of a car on fire! A mother and her child were sprawled on the ground and not moving. Blanka and Kiko immediately ran toward to them when suddenly…

Dr Cottage: Oh come on! Who are you trying to kid here? That’s clearly a frame belonging to a Toyota Cartwheel, which was fabricated before the plague, and has been liberally splashed with lighter fluid!
B.O. Blanka: Y’know, you could have just warned us instead of the trappers.

Caught out in such a pathetic ruse, mother and child (who turned out to be a midget) as well as a number of savages burst into the clearing with weapons drawn with murder and, I like to hope, embarrassment in their eyes. There would be no mercy for either side as Blanka squared off against two men, two more came charging for me and Ness, using her quickdraw skill, decided to go to take on the Midget and his mother.

SYSTEM

As you may have gathered from the high-end numbers, Age of Ruin uses percentile dice to resolve tests, the object being that you roll under the attribute or skill to succeed. A roll of 01-05 is deemed to be a critical success. Other types of dice such as D4’s and D8’s are used for rolling damage.

Initiative is as arbitrary as hit points though, ignoring both the percentile mechanic and how much you have in your Quickness score. Each side rolling 1D10 with the person scoring lowest winning. We had misread this and were rolling 2D10 and adding them together instead. A mistake further compounded when it came time for me to roll the dice.

Adam: I’ve got a fourteen
Me: Yeah, that beats me, I got a 35 (In my defence, I was rolling percentile dice and it did come up with a 30)
Much laughing from Rhys and Ness followed…

Once you’ve determined whether you hit, the defender rolls under his/her defense value to see if it is blocked by the armour and your quickness. If so, roll damage. If not, tough shit. And with no dodge skill or any way to hedge our bets toward defence, two handed swords and, we discovered later, large calibre guns would see us dead before we got the chance to use them.

Back in the adventure: Ness slashed out with a knife that completely missed the midget. Rhys having a larger target managed to miss as well. Brute force not working so well I reached out with the power of my mind and, while it did drain my Mental Strength to the tune of fifteen points, managed to get the hit.

Ness: We have to roll and Ben doesn’t.
Adam: Yes, but you can swing the weapon all day while Ben has to spend 15 points of Mental Strength. Speaking of which, roll damage.
Ben: 3 points of damage inflicted.
Ness: You spent 15 points just to give him an ice-cream headache of 3 points? I’ll take my chances with the knife, thanks.

The midget launches an attack, but is unable to land a hit as Kiko simply places one furry hand on his head, keeping him at arm’s length. Rhys does get hit by one of his attackers but deflects it with his defense. Dr Cottage is missed by one but stabbed in the leg by the other. Oh, the cruel irony.

Combat continues and Dr Cottage, not willing to shell out another 15 points to sap away another 3 or so mental strength, decides to try his hand at illusion instead.

Dr Cottage: Good Lord, man! You’re on fire! From that car wreckage! See where the flames have crawled up your leg!

The cost is cheaper by 10 points and Adam declares that the savage won’t take another swing while trying to pat out the imaginary flames. Rejoicing at such a clever plan, my hopes were dashed as I discovered it would cost me another 5 points to maintain the illusion. Further, I couldn’t act while maintaining the illusion. Finally, I still had the problem of his not-hypnotised chum winding up for another swing.

Kiko missed the midget again and we told her to try aiming specifically for the low hit points. Blanka cleaved one of his opponents into a crippled ruin and praised the name of his god.

Rhys: ALL GLORY TO THE MIGHT OF KELVINATOR!

It was decided that a lot of Blanka’s junk armour was made from white goods.

Combat continued neither side scoring a hit except for Dr Cottage’s other opponent who stabbed him in the other leg. Adam nearly got both Blanka and Kiko with critical hits, but fortunately each was deflected or dodged. Then it was our turn again and Ness opened up with a critical hit on the “mother”, having decided the midget was too hard. Critical hits means a roll on a table and the result was Double-Damage. Ness’s dice karma, along with the bonus wins her 8 damage for her efforts. Woo. Hoo.

Meanwhile, Dr Cottage was helping his opponent ‘put out the flames’ and was simultaneously draining him of Mental Strength using Vampire. This ended up doing more damage than the offensive power of Psychic Crush AND I had got back eight points. After Blanka wounded another opponent, the gang decided to fleece some other less-armed suckers and ran for it. With nothing to salvage from either the car or the bandits, the party continued on their way to Durango, Dr Cottage limping and muttering the length of the way about needing something to dull the pain.

We arrive at Durango where “You’re welcome if you’re silver’s good” and after Kiko talks about job and automobile-part prospects, with Dr Cottage lurking at the back in fear of the gate guards authoritah, we head inside and straight for a dilapadated cinema that had been turned into a town hall. Not, in fact, toward the hospital, Dr Cottage grumbled while his legs were still bleeding and now infected with god knows what, but fortunately the man hovering outside the Five Cinema Town Hall amicably bore the brunt of the good Doctor’s acid tongue before informing us that the Mayor’s secretary had put out word for a job offer. We also received some advice about where to stay and where not to eat – the axiom of never eating at a place called Ma’s (or Mom’s in this case) being true of Durango – and visit the Mayor’s secretary, bypassing the hospital yet again!

“What can you do?” she asks after introductions are made.
“I have diplomas in Medicine, Chemistry, Geology and Metallurgy,” Dr Cottage announces, hoping to wrap this up quickly and get a bandaid.
“I meant, what can you do that’s useful,” she replies and Dr Cottage slinks off to the back of group as her authority is too much for him to answer.

Negotiating with the secretary, once again courtesy of Kiko, we are granted audience with the Mayor who outlines the problem for us. Apparently a group of Durango’s guard accompanied a geologist to a silver mine three days from Durango. The idea was to get it working again so as to keep the town surviving by means that didn’t involve fleecing every tourist or wayfarer who stopped by.

…Seriously, when we looked at the rest of the notes for this adventure afterwards, the prospect of staying more than a night at Durango was as hazardous and lethal as going ahead with the mission to the silver mine. More on that later…

Given that if Dr Cottage couldn’t take lip from the Mayor’s secretary, he certainly couldn’t from the Mayor – in fact, he was standing by the door for a quick exit should things go as south as him raising his voice slightly – Kiko continued negotiations and managed to win us 1000 silver in store credit to be spent on weapons and supplies! Richer for it, though we’d have to return the goods once done with them, we went off to the blacksmith, kitted Blanka out with Junkyard Armour and his very own pot-helmet before turning our attention to weapons.

It is here we learnt two things:
The first is that the higher a calibre of weapon you buy, the more your defense goes down as, I guess, big guns don’t parry things so well either, except for a musket, apparently because once you’ve fired its one shot, you’ve got better odds at surviving clubbing people with it.

The second is, after much debate, the Throw Object skill allows you to throw grenades after all, despite it saying you can’t use it to throw weapons. More concerning though was that grenades, while available to purchase, had no price in the book. For that matter, neither did ammunition. Confusion reigned until Adam, flicking through the book, discovered the price list IN THE ADVENTURE ITSELF! Apparently Durango is the home of Wall Street in this doomed world as far a munitions prices go.

We checked a couple of other locations as well, after I finally paid a visit to the hospital. The First Church of Darwin, which Blanka was willing to declare a holy war against in the name of Kelvinator. Adam explained, before swords were drawn, that The First Church of Darwin encouraged the strong to flourish, which earned it Kelvinator’s blessing. We then moved to the Brotherhood of the Machine, an order tasked with salvaging and restoring the technology of the previous age, little interest to Blanka and Kiko because it looked dull and little interest to me as they didn’t offer me a lifetime membership on the spot. We then sought suitable lodgings.

Suitable lodgings turned out to be not so suitable as we visited the pub for dinner and were confronted by a burly bouncer covered in spines. Blanka looked the guy up and down and said that he’d thought about getting Spines once, but felt he was better off.

“No you don’t,” said the bouncer and Rhys had to roll Mental Strength to ignore the power of hypnotic suggestion. Fortunately he did and, combined with Kiko mistakenly ordering Morning Fresh detergent for a beverage and still having to pay for it, we sought entertainment elsewhere before turning in for the night.

The next morning saw us commence our three day journey, with the first day bringing with it an Intelligence Check to see if we were smart to find cover from the rain. Turns out we are and that was good because it was ACID RAIN and we wouldn’t have had the chance to seek cover once the burning started.

The second day saw us come across a strange looking marker or totem pole with something written on it. Being that I was the only literate person, I was able to inform the others that this marked the land of a dangerous Dog-Worshipping Tribe. We decide to avoid trespassing through their lands, a decision made easier when Kiko suggests we waltz through there.

After adding an extra half-day to our journey by going around the tribal land, Adam informs us, we’re risking the lives of those poor souls missing at the silver mine. The risk of wasting life due to caution tortures us as we continue with ALL OUR BITS STILL ON. Finally, we arrive at one of the scout party’s camp sites where we discover a body.

I don’t have the book, and thank god for that, but it is worth mentioning the dry flavour text at this point. “You, the party, (cause it’s not clear what your role is in this adventure apparently) come to the ruins of a camp, with a vulture-pecked body and a trail leading north.”

This pretty much continues, with each descriptive paragraph prefaced with “The party” or variations thereof. Because communication of such things are important in the adventure and not, for example, in the equipment list where they don’t have costs for grenades, ammo or crowbars (oooh the crowbars, we’ll come back to that).

So after some Zork-like narration and discovering that there isn’t any way of telling what caused the death of the member of the expedition, we follow the trail north until we come to a motor home overlooking a cliff and a cave that, doubtless, was the silver mine.

Now our characters may be new to this world, but Rhys Ness and I didn’t come to Adam’s place by way of a turnip truck. When confronted with the scene of an isolated and quiet scene like this, deep inside our core, as well as aloud and out-of-character, we’re screaming TRAP! We decide to skirt the cliff and not march directly down the middle and in the open. I entirely forget that I have a character who’s supposed to be agoraphobic, but then so does everybody else. And Adam doesn’t mind so much as he has us make Luck rolls that Ness passes and Rhys and I fail.

Adam: You each step on a landmine!
Rhys and Me: What?!
Adam: Landmines, they’ve been planted around the edge of the cliff.

It gets better as not only were the Luck checks to see if we triggered any, but apparently they only booby-trapped the cliff and left open ground free and clear of mines.

Adam: You each roll 4D6, plus 1D6 for being in proximity to the other’s land mine. Ness, you have to roll 2D6.
Ness: But I passed!

Dr Cottage nearly gets his legs blown off with only 3 hit points left. Kiko is even worse off with 1 hit point left. Blanka gets luckier with this roll than he did with the Luck check and manages to remain fighting fit. Deciding we don’t want to die just yet, Kiko and Dr Cottage put forward the idea of resting and recuperating, and Rhys and I get to ply our trade in our respective medical skills. Kiko administers First Aid for 2 points, I use Medicine for 4 points, Blanka uses his Shamanism on Ness for another 2 points and we get 2 points for resting. The suckfest of hit point rolls that Ness endured finally pays off as Kiko is near fully recovered by the next day, a miracle Blanka is quick to proclaim as the work of Kelvinator. I remain a heretic who is convinced he is a god of doctors.

We attempt the mine again.

Confronted with a cave leading into the mine, and a winch off to the side, attached to steel cables that descend down a sloping tunnel and is protected by a grate, we decide to use the winch and see if we can use what’s on the other end to outfox whoever planted the mines. Blanka puts his titanic strength to the task of winding the lever until the winch gets stuck on something in the cave. Kiko volunteers to go down the winch rope and find out what it’s snagged on, but there’s that grate in the way…

Rhys: I rip the grate off.
Adam: Do you have a crowbar?
Rhys: No
Adam: Then you can’t rip it off.
Rhys: Huh?
Adam: You can’t rip it off.
Rhys: I have 110 strength. And I could just rip something off the motor home to use as a crowbar.
Adam: The adventure clearly states that if the players don’t have a crowbar, they can’t rip the grate off.

The Zork-like adventure-text had done it to us again. Rhys then threatened that if the adventure was going to treat us like we we’re playing Monkey Island, then we’d play by those rules; rubbing everything in the inventory against the grate until we had to walk back to town and then back to the mine with a crowbar. Adam decides to defy the adventure and let’s Blanka rip something off the motor home to use as a lever. With the grate off, Kiko makes her way down the sloping tunnel to find out why the winch is stuck.

If you go into the cave today, you’re in for a big surprise… Turns out the winch is connected to a bear! Something called a RAD Bear. Which is like three bears taped together and they all happen to be the Father-Bear.

Goldilocks/Kiko piss-bolts for the surface and despite her high levels of Quickness, the bear is gaining on her. Fortunately she manages to get outside and, after screaming BEAR, she, Blanka and Dr Cottage get ready to do battle.

Kiko shoots it with her newly acquired medium calibre pistol while Blanka sets upon it with his sword. Hoping the RAD Bear wasn’t psychic, Dr Cottage attempts Psychic Crush on it, because using Vampire means having to touch it and there is no fucking way that’s happening. As it turns out, the bear isn’t psychic, but it is remarkably lucky, making the Mental Strength roll, as well as soaking up the damage by both pistol and sword. The grate is off so we can’t trap it back in the cave either. Fortunately Dr Cottage has an idea.

Me: I use Illusion to make it think we’re over by the cliffs.
Adam: It’s still connected to the winch. It won’t fall off.
Me: Not to worry, I got this…

Adam makes its Mental Strength roll and fails. The bear lumbers over to the cliffs where the mines are buried. Adam makes a luck roll and while the bear does indeed stand on a mine, it fizzes out with hiss of black smoke to a resounding chorus of “BULLSHIT!”. Blanka attempts to trigger another mine by throwing the discarded grate at the ground next to the RAD Bear, but no luck. We’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way.

I try Psychic Crush again and again the Charles Xavier of the ursine kingdom resists. I don’t have enough Mental Strength points to do it again without going bug-f&ck; crazy. Blanka hits it with his sword and Kiko the pistol, again bouncing off its hide. Then it’s the bear’s turn.

The bear gets two attacks, one which Blanka deflects, the other which rips Neko Neko Kiko leg clean off and kills her with one swipe!

Blanka and Dr Cottage decide to run to the next town.

CONCLUSION

Age of Ruin, we’ve decided, was written by those raised on First Edition D&D; the type of players who were content to roll up a dozen characters and march them like lemmings through dungeons and call it a fun weekend. Looking over the adventure, the bear was not the only way things could get fatal:

Had we beat the bear (and that’s a big fucking ‘if’), we then would have had to face the bandits, all of whom were psychic and possessed talents of telekinesis and pyrokinesis.

Fortunately we had avoided going to Honest Joe’s Used Car Dealership as he would have used his psychic powers to persuade the weaker-minded of us to buy a lemon.

Had we decided to eat at Mom’s and ordered a particular dish of the menu, we were one Endurance roll away from dying.

The acid rain would have certainly killed us, but a regular thunderstorm could do it just as well with one bad dice roll.

We didn’t even ask about the Dog Tribe. I think we all knew how well that would go…

This is for first-level characters who have just bought the book!

Credit where it’s due, the game mechanics itself weren’t bad though. Combat goes through quickly and the skill/attribute checks are straightforward. The book, on the other hand, is not as formulas contradict themselves, equipment listings are scattershot and the whole production looks somewhat slapdash. The front cover looks like it was drawn by the writer’s kid. No index to speak of, not a whole lot of depth for character variety and an adventure that appears purpose-built to twist the knife in anyone fool-enough to purchase it.

And, in the end, we didn’t meet The Buttheads after all.

Posted by Wordmobi

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3 Comments

  1. In the interests of accuracy:

    – initiative should actually be 1d10, not 2d10. We got that wrong.
    – the INT test for the acid rain was to successfully find shelter, not to realise that you needed to look for it

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