Unhallowed Metropolis

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Unhallowed Metropolis

Mensaje por Balian LeTarot el Lun Dic 14, 2009 12:31 pm

Lamentablemente mi nivel de traducción de inglés dista mucho de ser mínimamente aceptable, pero creo que es lícito ir empezando a desempolvar juegos del trastero de temática steampunk de ayer de hoy y de siempre como por ejemplo este Unhallowed Metropolis, de la editorial Hallow's Eve Designs.

Artículo de la web www.rpg.net

Unhallowed Metropolis



"Unhallowed Metropolis by Jason Soles and Nicole Vega,

When I read RPG reviews, I’m most interested in the ones where the game was actually run for a group. A lot of games read very differently from the way they play. I want to know what sort of experience the game promises and how it goes about delivering this experience. There is already another review of the game’s systems and writing, so my review will focus more on my experience running and playing the game.

Upon receiving a review copy of Unhallowed Metropolis from Brad Elliott at Eos Press, I began to organize a playtest at my FLGS (Endgame, Oakland, CA) With a few weeks to go before the game, I had time to read through the book and get a handle on the system and setting. Since I would use pre-generated characters for my playtest, I spent some time with the chargen system as well.

Out of the box, it’s a nice looking book, 392 pages—easily up to Eos Press’ usual standard—sturdy cover, good binding, nice paper. The cover art is an image of some sort of animated life form in a mouldering top hat, with a glowing green eye. Right there I get an idea of what’s in store. The art in the book ranges from average to good, and is enhanced with a number of photographs of people dressed as characters from the setting, and other vignettes. The imagery of the game draws on the black rubber BDSM fetish look, which the players and I had a bit of a jab at. But it’s all tastefully done, whether you find that sort of thing cool or not. The art (and the photography to a lesser extent) did evoke the setting and that’s important.

What’s Unhallowed Metropolis about? Who are the characters and what do they do? It’s a post-apocalypse setting, basically, that apocalypse being a plague that turned the majority of humanity into zombies. In 1905, things went south, and then humanity spent the next 200 years recovering, clawing their cities back from the undead and scratching out a meager existence in what’s left of the world. People picked up with social customs (if not attitudes) pretty much where they left off, at the end of the Victorian Era. So what you get is late 19th century/fin de siecle technology with a bit of sci-fi spice, rubbing shoulders with the Neo-Victorian society of England in the year 2100.

The characters are a range of interesting types. A selection of character archetypes known as “callings” are presented, including Aristocrat, Doctor, Criminal – standard for this sort of setting, and three unique to the setting, the Dhampir (half-vampire, half-human), Mourner and the Undertaker. Mourners are people who basically watch over the bodies of the recently deceased (during the funeral wake), and should the corpse stir (a sign of it coming back as a zombie) the Mourner whips out a big-assed kukri knife and takes off the zombie’s head. Undertakers are the ass-kickers of the setting, and the action junkie in your group will go straight for it. These blokes are monster hunters, going after zombies, vampires—you name it—for a bounty paid by the government. My favorite calling is the Mourner, as it is a very original concept and unique to the setting. The Undertaker is a total cliché (top-hat sporting badass with two guns and high combat skills to back them up) but is certainly fun to play if your tastes run in that direction (as mine often do).

So, for my playtest, I made pre-generated characters (always a good idea for one-shots run in a four-hour time slot). I decided to make five characters, with three built from the Callings presented and two built from the ground up.

The ready-to-go archetypes went together fairly easily. I made an Undertaker (of course), a Mourner, and a Criminal. It was patently clear that the Undertaker and the Mourner were meant to go through zombies like a hot knife through butter. Non-combat focused characters were likely going to have to stay back and under cover (or run like hell) in any serious engagement. Given that “zombie survival horror” is one obvious mode of play (and the one I intended to use for my oneshot) I made sure to have these two character types in the game.

Character attributes and skills in Unhallowed Metropolis top out at 5, and it’s not too hard for a character to max out one skill (or even two) during chargen. Right off the start, your character can be at the top of his game if you want.

The Criminal character was an interesting blend of skills, many of them socially or criminal oriented as you might imagine. This character turned out to be fairly good in a fight and in an argument (unfortunately, he didn’t get used in the game).

The Calling archetypes have “Features” which provide special abilities, usually by replacing a regular skill specialty with a particular Feature. For example, the Undertaker allows a selection of abilities that no one else can have to replace specialties listed under the Occult Lore skill (such as Deadeye, allowing the Undertaker to spot undead on sight).

For my final two characters I decided to roll my own—a self-taught psychotic doctor and a veteran of the Deathwatch (a zombie-fighting military unit). The system provided for creation of your own character concepts didn’t leave a big impression on me, and almost felt like an afterthought. DIY characters get 12 skills at the average level of 2, 10 points of Qualities and Impediments (Ads/Dis-ads), and 25 points to spread around like the archetype characters. It’s relatively simple but if you want Features you’ll need to make up your own or borrow from the archetypes. My criminal doctor was constructed with Features from both the Criminal and Doctor callings, and the ex-Deathwatch veteran borrowed a few from the Undertaker calling.

There was indeed a lot of page flipping involved in the chargen process, particularly when looking for Afflictions, which is treated in two places in the book. The charts involving chargen could also have been placed closer together for easier reference. Overall, making characters wasn’t difficult but could have been made a lot easier by more thought given to the flow of the varying sections.

Time to play. The adventure I cooked up was simple. The characters would be caught in the East End during an outbreak of the zombie Plague, and then trapped there during a Deathwatch lockdown. The villain of the piece was Dr. Worthington-Phibes (your standard variety madman), and each character had a different reason for wanting to hunt him down (which also provided the hook to bring them all together).

The atmosphere provided by the game setting is pretty good. The writing is evocative and gives you all the info you need to adequately describe this dark, gothic environment. I think all the players had a good “we’re not in Kansas anymore” moment when I said, in the opening, “Through the smog, the city of London stretches before us, a walled city, and outside the walls is a barren wasteland where nothing grows. Here and there around the city, great crematoriums belch ash into the polluted sky. The year is 2105AD.”

We got started with some character development in a small pub as Big Ben rang midnight. A riot broke out a few hours ago when an explosion (blamed on anarchists) went off a few blocks away. I only had three players (out of five signed up) at the table, so I had to set the Criminal character aside and run the Undertaker as an NPC. Some excellent roleplaying here as the players bit into their characters and began figuring each other out. I had given each player a write-up of their characters’ reasons for looking for Dr. Worthington-Phibes. So while they were all basically after the same guy, they each wanted him for different reasons.

Once the zombies showed up (of course they did) we got to try out the combat system. It went pretty quickly, once the Undertaker and the Mourner characters got started. The ex-Deathwatch got a few licks in and the Doctor proved to be surprisingly adept, at least, at getting out of the way and helping on the sidelines. The Unhallowed Metropolis system does provide very deadly combat. Combat oriented characters can easily take out an enemy in one blow or with one shot if they roll even a bit above average. I wasn’t throwing too many zombies at them just yet, so they were able (with a few scares and close calls), to get clear of the pub.

Once outside, they all decided to head off in different directions. The Mourner asked the Undertaker to meet her in another pub in 30 minutes. The doctor headed for a whorehouse he knew might provide safe haven, and the ex-Deathwatch man followed the Undertaker. The characters all had to dodge groups of animates on the way to their destinations. Everyone but the ex-Deathwatch man made it. Our poor veteran, hobbled by terrible war wounds, was cornered by a mob of zombies and torn apart (though he did manage to shoot himself in the head before the end).

In the pub, the Undertaker (now an active character as I had handed him over to the player of the now-deceased Deathwatch character) and the Mourner made common cause to find Dr. Worthington-Phibes. The Undertaker knew the mad doctor liked to frequent a particular whorehouse and suggested they go there. Well, our own Doctor character had already arrived to find the madame dead. Naturally, the good doctor decided to perform an autopsy right there (much to the shock of the Undertaker and the Mourner when they arrived—that was a great scene)!

The skill system was working pretty well. With an average rating of 2 for most pertinent skills, characters will be hitting the general target difficulty of 11 on most die rolls (2d10 plus skill level). Double ones are critical failures (which provided some amusing moments during the pub fight). It’s a very simple system, which is workmanlike but doesn’t really stand out otherwise.

The system of Afflictions is meant to provide both a roleplaying and mechanical effect in the game. Characters are each struck with some sort of physical or mental problem that shows their slide into the abyss of damnation. Someone with the Desire Affliction – Twisted, for example, gradually gets more and more radical with the types of experimentation, treatment, or work they do, until they basically turn into Hannibal Lecter.

It sounds like a neat idea and it is, but the execution falls short. The problem is, what could be an interesting way for the system to support the setting and the feel it is trying to create, as well as provide interesting character motivation, is struck here with a disconnect. If, when you fail a die roll for anything, you may take a “Second Chance”, a re-roll. The number of such re-rolls is equal to your highest Affliction (e.g., Twisted 2 gets you two re-rolls) To get a third re-roll (assuming you really need it) you simply advance your highest Corruption path rating. You can also call upon the “Devil’s Luck”, essentially a fate point, to save you from any certain death situation once per session (in which case you must also advance your highest Corruption path).

Sounds good but the Second Chances and Devil’s Luck, when used, very often have nothing to do with the Affliction that is supposed to be worsening as a result. For example, you’re an Undertaker doing the John Woo thing in a gunfight, you roll a critical failure and your pistols jam. Your Hedonist corruption level is 2 and you’ve used it twice this session already. You push that to level 3 and take another Second Chance re-roll. Just how, exactly, does your hedonistic urge get any worse as a result of not having your guns jam in a firefight? I suppose you could come up with a reason for it but it would be a pretty big reach at best. Even harder to reconcile would be a physical Affliction (for example, Illness) getting worse as a result of a Second Chance taken to re-roll that gun jam (“OK, so my guns don’t jam, but as a result my tuberculosis gets worse!”)

The players in my game all expressed some puzzlement with these mechanics afterwards. It’s an interesting idea but we all felt it did nothing to enhance gameplay. Certainly if a character were faced with a situation directly related to his Corruption (“So, Mr. Hedonist, dally in the opium den with the prostitute or go help your friends escape the mad slasher?”) testing and benefiting (or suffering) from the use of Corruption would make much more sense. But if you just need re-rolls, why not just have a simple pool of fate points that aren’t connected to character flaws?

In the end, the characters ran down the Mad Doctor inside a water treatment plant on the bank of the highly toxic Thames. Dr. Worthington-Phibes was allowed a brief moment to gloat, and then both he and his Thrope assistant (Thropes being shape-changing monsters) were blown into the dark (and off screen) by the Undertaker’s hand grenade. At this point, the conflicting motivations of the characters were off the hook and they all set to killing each other. The lone survivor of the scrum, the Mourner (who was actually a Special Branch assassin), thought she had it made when she faced down the Deathwatch squad that had shown up to clean house. “Didn’t you know? All code words are revoked during Lockdown!” were the last words she heard before the soldiers leveled their rifles and fired.

So, we had a good time. The setting is very cool and has a lot of potential. Unlike John Tynes, who mentions that he loves role-playing games which start with 50,000 words of “pure setting goodness”, I’m not big on plowing through fluff to get to the game (I prefer a more integrated approach to fluff), but the world of Unhallowed Metropolis is certainly fleshed out enough in the book that it will spark off ideas for a lot of different campaigns.

The system feels loose and some parts not entirely followed through. Combat skills, for example, have stunts, special maneuvers you can use, but no other skills get these. A more socially oriented campaign, given the setting’s emphasis on social situations, would benefit from a similar set of social “stunts”. In the end, I would have liked to see a tighter execution of the game system, and a much closer integration of the Corruption mechanic into gameplay. Chargen could also use some tightening up. Unhallowed Metropolis chargen shows you the cool characters the game is most interested in having you play, but provides only a lackluster way of creating your own. I just wasn’t all that impressed with the system; it was bland and uninspired and the one crucial mechanic (Corruption) that could have connected it to (and supported) the setting the most didn’t work. I like light systems, which is what the Unhallowed Metropolis system is, but I also like such systems to be fairly tightly constructed.

Should you buy it? If you’re big into the concept and the subject material, I’d say yes. The setting is definitely fun, cool and has lots of hooks to hang your campaigns (and your characters) from. The weak system is usable but could easily be supplanted by the system from Your Favorite Game.

Presentation: 4 for the good physical quality of the book (cover, binding, and paper), page design and layout, and cover and interior art.

System: 2 for a usable, if uninspired game system (I’d have given it a 3 had the connection between the Corruption and Second Chance mechanics been more thought out and better executed).

Setting: 5 for a cool, evocative action-horror setting that lends itself to many types of campaigns.

So, for the RPG.net rating, I’ll average my Presentation and Setting rating for Style: 4.5, and my Presentation and System rating for Substance 3. I can’t do half points so style will get a solid 4."

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Balian LeTarot

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Re: Unhallowed Metropolis

Mensaje por LouderThanBombs el Lun Dic 14, 2009 4:30 pm

Lo subí el otro día a Megaupload. Si alguien lo quiere, que me lo pida. Que yo no soy proclive a dar enlaces de éste tipo por aquí.

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Re: Unhallowed Metropolis

Mensaje por Balian LeTarot el Mar Dic 15, 2009 2:53 pm

(Escribe con la parte incandescente del puro en la parte frontal de su boina un MP bastante chamuscado e irregular)

Es la abreviación de Military Police, ya me entiende usted, mesié ThanBombs. Si es tan amable de compartir semejante información, recibirá gratitud real Cool

Dios bendiga a la Reina.

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Re: Unhallowed Metropolis

Mensaje por Invitado el Miér Dic 16, 2009 5:37 am

Despues de haber leido el libro ( gracias Louder Cool ), me queda un buen regusto.
Es decir, es como si mezclasen Necromunda, el goticismo victoriano, Gangs of New York, Resident Evil , Mad Max y tecnologia steampunk...
No pinta mal,no señor Very Happy aunque le veo una pega: el juego parece unicamente dedicado a masacrar no-muertos, para ganar mas pasta o artefactos raros y poder matar mas y mejor...
Quizas tenga el chanchulleo social que uno espera de ambitos decadentes tipo Five Points ( Gangs of New York), pero creo que le falta algo de trasfondo metafisico...
No se, me crie como rebusca - criptas de Ad&D, y revienta cultos mega-ocultos del Cthulhu, asi que creo que como roleo le falta algo mas.
Eso si, como planteamiento de juego y sobre todo, como juego de mesa tipo Necromunda, seria brutal.

Quizas sea interesante esta pelicula "Mutant Chronicles", basada en el juego de mesa apocaliptico "Warzone", como fuente de ideas para "Unhallowed Metropolis".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS9jv8ejIgY

Invitado
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Re: Unhallowed Metropolis

Mensaje por LouderThanBombs el Miér Dic 16, 2009 5:40 am

Y el juego de rol Mutant Chronicles, que es el embrión de todo el sarao Wink Que lo editó en castellano M+D en 1997 y no tuvo el éxito esperado, así como Doomtrooper el CCG de la misma ambientación que era chulísimo.

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Re: Unhallowed Metropolis

Mensaje por Contenido patrocinado Hoy a las 5:42 pm


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