Wednesday, 22 February 2017
[Review] Universal Exploits
The review version is a PDF.
If you don't already know, +Venger Satanis is currently one of the best roleplaying games writer focused on weird, horror, sleazy and old-school; both fantasy and scifi. Alpha Blue is a great game, and Girls Gone Rogue made it even better with so much more material to use. What will Universal Exploits add to this sleazy space setting? Let's find out!
The book is divided into two chapters, "Rules, tables and setting" and "Suggestions, scenarios, and extras". But before the actual content begins, we get to read a three pages long short-story, which is
I wasn't a fan of Alpha Blue art, Girls Gone Rogue was way better and now Universal Exploits has best illustration of the trio! There are pictures from the same artist I disliked in the main game, but they blend well with other styles and artists, as they are no more (crappy) majority. They work now way much better. And line art is awesome. A warning though, many of the pictures are x-rated and sexual in theme with full frontal nudity and sexual acts, but there are also plenty of other science fiction imaginary. The porn doesn't bother me, though. Sure the sexual images oversexualize women and there could be more naked, porny men, too for balance. Again, be warned, there are so many images from which social justice warriors would rip their asses half. There are also few colored pictures, which is a nice addition.
Venger's writing is eloquent as ever, so the reading experience is really good. Everything is explained well with great writing. Because Alpha Blue's rules are extremely minimal and simple, you learn the rules additions easily and quickly. And there are plenty of them with lots and lots of random tables. The rules additions really give more detail for the campaign.
The strength of Alpha Blue product line are the random tables. There are so many, and they are so different. Many are really useful, some just fun additions to weird days you might need one. And what is best of these random tables, they are really inspiring for stories. You can easily just collect all you Alpha Blue books and start rolling tables, taking notes, and soon you have an adventure done. And naturally, you can use these tables in middle of the game to spice up, or sex up, the action and scenes. Religions, desires, alien worlds, locations, events, planets... everything in tables!
But because Alpha Blue as whole is basically made of tables after tables, you should write down all the random tables and collect them into one big index, so you know what tables are in what sourcebook. Otherwise it could be overwhelming to remember all the available material, yet shuffle through all the books to find the right table for the situation (in all sourcebooks and main rulebook together there are random tables for almost any situation).
One great part is domain management. In old-school games, when you have adventured enough, it is time to invest your money on some land. In this sourcebook, you can do it in space!
Suggestions, Scenarios, And Extras gives you hints and tips how to run an Alpha Blue game. Venger is an awesome (Space) Dungeon Master (proof: How To Game Master Like A Fucking Boss) who doesn't hesitate to share his experiences how to make games... well... fucking awesome. This chapter has lots of actual game expamples and suggestions how to get players involved in adventures - and how to make them adventure. Universal Exploits is an adventurers' agency after all!
You also get adventures, but in my opinion they are not that handy to refer during the play and read more than explained short stories. They feel a little railroading also. There are plenty of them, though, and even if not fun to run (I cannot decide that for you, or even myself without actually running them!) they are good fiction of the Alpha Blue setting. Some of the adventures here are more a location, where stuff is going on. A nice addition.
In my opinion, Universal Exploits is a great sourcebook for any science fiction game with weird, gonzo and action. If your game is pornographic -or needs more porn- even better. If you strip all the naughty, you still have lots of great content to use in different scifi settings. Well worth the buck!
Also with the PDF you get separate files for the maps included in the book. They are absolutely brilliant. +MonkeyBlood Design has outdone himself.
One final warning. Because the product is filled with tables and content, PDF version of it might be slow to use in actual game, when shuffling the book is nicer and easier. Just my opinion.
Universal Exploits at RPGNow.
Alpha Blue at RPGNow.
Girls Gone Rogue at RPGNow.
Sleazy Space Opera (bundle of above three titles) at RPGNow.
My review of both Alpha Blue and Girls Gone Rogue HERE.