Previously on the 12 Games of Christmas: Alternity, Star Wars, Mage, Transhuman Space, Adventure!, Feng Shui, Fate Core, 13th Age, Burning Wheel, Godbound, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness
And now the thrilling conclusion...
I love superheroes, and I love RPGs it stands to reason that I would like superhero RPGs. And I do. However many I played over the years they all seemed to be missing something. I could never quite define what I was looking for, yet I knew I had yet to see it. I finally found the game system that did what I wanted it to do, and I have been playing it ever since. So finally we reach the end of my Games of Christmas(for this year) with a game I love...
I got into this game in a sort of round about method. I ran into a series of comic style stories in the back of a bunch of dragon magazines. These stories told the tale of super heroes set during World War II. They were there to hype Godlike, a game about super heroes in World War II. Needless to say I bought Godlike and I liked it a lot. However It was a hard sell for my group and so there it sat. Then they announced that they were making a limited production game using the same rules but moving the setting forward to the modern day. They called it Wild Talents. I was excited, but could not manage to get the limited run. Eventually they did a second edition of Wild Talents and I jumped at the chance. I have since purchased everything that has come out for the game system, and boy howdy I do not regret any of those purchases.
There are two versions of the second edition of Wild Talents. They both came out at the same time so I will discuss the design of both. The Essential Edition is the version with just the rules and no setting or GM advice. It is soft cover and digest size. The internal design is standard weight paper and black and white computer render art. Some of the art is quite good and some is less good. None of it is bad. The layout is very well done and the index is solid. The Full Second edition is hard bound with heavy weight high gloss color pages. The art is the same from each edition. It is quite thick and so it weighs a bit, which can be an issue when reading it for fun.
The core mechanic is a dice pool of ten sided dice made up of Attributes and Skills added together. Human maximum is five in a skill or attribute, though as this is a super hero game so your skills and attributes can go higher. When rolling you add an attribute to a skill and roll that number of dice(though you cannot roll more than ten dice on any roll). In this you are looking for matches. The number showing on the matching dice is called the height and represents the power or quality of the roll, while the number of dice matching is called the width and represents speed of the action. This is a really spiffy system in that you can get the initiative, accuracy/artistry, and damage/outcome of a roll all in one roll.
Characters also have Willpower which allows them to manipulate rolls and can also be used somewhat like experience points. You gain them through passions and loyalties, however that is also how you lose them. when you defend your passions and loyalties you gain willpower and you lose it when you fail to defend them. If you are out of willpower your powers get significantly less powerful and less consistent. The rules for powers can get very complex and confusing on first read through, but once you get the hang of it the game really opens up. This is the first game I encountered that literally lets you build any power you can think of. And even though I have delved into others that do similar things, this one still stands as one of, of not the, best. You start out by deciding if you power is for attack, defense, or something else. Once you have decided on that you begin attacking flaws, perks, and qualities to the power. This leads to a very complex looking design process, but as I said, once you have done it a couple of time you get the hang of it. Also with all the various settings that have come out, there are loads of example characters with example powers done up in all sorts of ways.
The primary setting for Wild Talents is a continuation of the setting from Godlike. Super powers first appear among the Nazis in the thirties. Using these Ubermensch the Nazis begin to push through Europe. Eventually these "talents," as they are called, begin to show up in other countries and the war becomes a matter of talent on talent action. The allies win(yay) and the world moves on. After the war talents start becoming less limited and more powerful. These become known as "Wild Talents." the setting goes through the timeline showing how talents change the world and eventually how earth moves into the surrounding galaxy and encountered alien threats. It also has sidebars throughout the timeline explaining how you can use various points in the history as campaign or adventure seeds. You can pay super spies in eastern Europe during the forties and fifties, or as something like the peace corps but with super powers. There are loads of these adventure seeds. I like this setting a lot. However it is not the only setting for the system. There are a number of them. My two favorites are The Kerebos Club and Progenitor. The Kerebos Club is set during the nineteenth century which starts somewhat normal and gets stranger and stranger as the century goes froward. Queen Vctoria becomes something like a god, the south makes deals with Cthulu to maintain power, and the British army uses werewolves in the Crimea. It is a very fun setting brimming from top to bottom with awesome. If you ever wanted to play the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, this setting is where its at. Progenitor posits a world where the first superhuman was a housewife on a farm in the Midwest in 1968. It also posits that when you use powers around others they can gain power. It is full of rules on how to change the world and what that would look like if the players do not get involved. It is a really well done setting, worth reading if only for the fun of it. There are other settings as well. eCollapse is a near future setting full of low powered beings who believe things so deeply they must bash each others brains in. Grim War is a game about conspiracies and super powers and magic spells. Blood of the Gods is set in ancient Greece and you play the children of the gods. Finally This Favored Land is focused around supers during the American Civil War.
That is it for this year's Games of Christmas. I hope you all enjoyed them and I hope you all have a great holiday season.