Friday, December 23, 2016

Eleventh Game of Christmas

Previously on the 12 Games of Christmas:  AlternityStar WarsMageTranshuman SpaceAdventure!Feng ShuiFate Core13th AgeBurning Wheel, Godbound

Alrighty my peeps, its time for a fun one. Another fun one. This is one of my favorite games of all time and it uses the system that I first encountered when discovering RPGs. I have been looking forward to this review for a while. If I had my druthers I would have saved this one for last, however my excitement can only be held in check for a so long. It goes this far. No further. Here we are, on the eleventh day of Christmas and we are looking at...

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness
This was the second game I ever purchased. I got it within a week of getting Alternity. I have played this game a lot and I still read through it now and again just for fun. This is the game that introduced my to the TMNT comics by Eastman and Laird, and for that alone this game will have my love. But it was genuinely fun and so I keep coming back to it. 

Peritexual Elements
The book is soft cover and rather cheaply bound. I have had no real issues with its durability, though the plastic coating on the cover has begun to peel a bit, so watch out for that. The art is mostly by Eastman and Laird, which is pretty great. Having the original creators and artists working on the look of the art is a serious boon for the game. The thing itself is laid out in two columns and is not at all amazing. If you are getting into Palladium books for the layout you are in the wrong place. There is no index and there are no sidebars. The table of contents is OK, but without a good index many things are nearly impossible to find. This is not a good book for easy reference. That said, for the time it came out(mid eighties) it was pretty average layout, though it desperately needs an editor to organize the damn thing a bit better. 

Mechanics
The game uses the Palladium in house system that is loosely based off of AD&D 1st edition with all sorts of new systems and sub system glommed on. You have eight attributes, rated from 3 to 30, but mostly you won't have many above 16 and only attributes above 16 matter in any meaningful way. The game is based around combat, where you roll a d20 plus modifiers to attack, a d20 plus modifiers to defend(dodge or parry), and assorted dice types for damage. You also have two different hit point pools that do exactly the same thing and are mechanically as undifferentiated as can be(Hit Points and Structural Damage Capacity). Skill rolls are the other sort of dice roll and those are percentile rolls with the goal of rolling lower than your rating in a skill(don't worry the skill levels are really low and advance very slowly, so you will be failing rolls all the time). 

This game does have some interesting mechanics added to the core system though. It has an interesting teamwork mechanic, where if all the player characters have grown up together then you get bonuses to all the skills and such that you have in common. I like that as it is pretty spiffy. Also the game allows you to play all sorts of mutant animals and it does this through what amounts to animal archetypes and Bio-E points which you can spend to get size levels, animal abilities, human abilities(bipedal stance, opposable thumbs, speech, that sort of thing), and psychic powers. Another fun thing that is only in this game is that your speed stat(when higher than 16) grants a bonus to dodge, which it does not do in any other Palladium game. By and large, though, you will not be playing this game for the mechanics. I am not even sure the designers used the game as written. 

Setting
Um...yeah, its the TMNT setting. It is based around the idea that you will be street level heroes getting involved with spies, ninjas, aliens, time travelers and all sorts of other mischief. You ever wanted to punch the Shredder in his stupid smug face? Well you can totes do it in this game. You can do it and its official. Think about that. They do add a bunch of interesting features to the setting with the main book and a bunch of expansions. It has a bunch of adventure books about traveling across the country and getting involved in hi-jinks. There is also a book that goes into the aliens of the universe and how they all interact, so you can go fight the Triceriton Empire or the Human Republic. You can hang out with the spinies or tubers or even the utroms if you want. If that is not enough the game also has a book all about how to handle time travel and jumping from dimension to dimension. And to this day it is one of my go to references for how to handle those ideas as it is just really cool. Also it has rules for playing mutant dinosaurs!!! DINOSAURS!!! There is also a whole separate setting for the game system called After the Bomb, which posits a post apocalyptic wasteland ruled over by mutant animals and high tech humans. It is a really fun setting. 

That is it for today.
Tomorrow....

It comes to a thrilling conclusion. Be ready.