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Kids on Bikes: Core Rulebook
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/18/2019 05:48:04

https://www.teilzeithelden.de/2019/01/30/ersteindruck-kids-on-bikes-kleine-staedte-grosse-abenteuer/

Seltsame Geschehnisse und bizarre Gestalten: In manch einer Kleinstadt verbirgt sich mehr als das, was das menschliche Auge sieht – das wissen vor allem die Jüngsten unter uns. Das moderne US-amerikanische Mystery-Rollenspiel Kids on Bikes erschien 2018 bei den Renegade Game Studios und verbindet urbanes Legendentum mit einer Idee kindlicher Neugier.

Neben Kindern können auch Jugendliche oder Erwachsene gespielt werden Free Leagues Tales from the Loop hat gezeigt, dass viele spaßige und spannende Spielstundenauf diejenigen warten, die in die Rolle von Kindern schlüpfen und sich auf Entdeckungstour begeben. Ziel einer solchen sind u. a. mysteriöse, gar unheimliche Orte, Personen und Gerüchte. Kids on Bikes fokussiert sich auf verschlafene amerikanische Vorstädte und gestattet neben kindlichen SC auch jugendliche oder gar erwachsene Charaktere. Was kompakte 80 Seiten Grundregelwerk mitbringen und was sonst noch so zwischen den Buchdeckeln steckt, wird im Anschluss genau unter die Lupe genommen.

Die Spielwelt Im Kontrast zu Fantasy- oder SciFi-Szenarien ist die Welt von Kids on Bikes realitätsnah gestaltet. Obgleich die Spieler gemeinsam mit dem SL die Spielwelt vor Beginn des Spiels nach Belieben formen können, so ist das US-amerikanische suburbane bzw. kleinstädtische Setting fundamental. Zeitlich sind keine festen Vorgaben vorhanden, jedoch stehen den SC keine Smartphones, Tablets etc. zur Verfügung. Darüber hinausgehende vorgegebene Details sind kaum bis gar nicht vorhanden, Spielern und SL werden viele Freiheiten zum Weltenbau gelassen.

Fahrrad, Taschenlampe, Rucksack: Es geht auch ohne Hightech Die Spieler nehmen die Rollen von Kindern, Jugendlichen oder sogar Erwachsenen ein, die aus ihren eher verschlafenen Alltagen gerissen werden, als sie Begegnungen mit dem Mysteriösen oder sogar dem Unheimlichen machen. Atmosphärisch lehnt sich Kids on Bikes damit u. a. an Netflix' Stranger Things an. Solche Assoziationen wie auch die Ähnlichkeit zur Welt jenseits des Spieltisches schaffen eine stimmige, in sich schlüssige Atmosphäre.

Als problematisch ist die zumindest teilweise vorhandene Eindimensionalität eines wiederkehrenden Kleinstadtsettings anzusehen; ein solches kann bei wiederholtem Bespielen und Ausschöpfen unterschiedlicher Aspekte und Variationen repetitiv werden. In diesem Fall wären nur eine beschränkte Wiederspielbarkeit und eine nur bedingte Kampagnenfähigkeit von Kids on Bikes gegeben.

Die Regeln

Je höher der zugeordnete Würfel ist, desto besser beherrscht der jeweilige SC den jeweiligen Stat Die Grundlage der SC bilden die sechs Attribute, die sogenannten Stats. Diese beschreiben, worin ein Charakter begabt ist und worin eher weniger; es existieren unterschiedliche Schwerpunkte je nach Charakterkonzept.

Brains Dieses Attribut beschreibt, über wie viel Wissen ein Charakter verfügt sowie seine Kompetenz im Erkennen logischer Zusammenhänge. Brawn Brawn beschreibt die Stärke eines Charakters: Wie viel kann er heben und wie viel physischen Schaden kann er einstecken? Fight Mit Fight wird festgelegt, ob ein Charakter sich gut oder schlecht in einem Gefecht schlägt. Bekannte Waffen können effektiv eingesetzt werden; der Umgang mit neuen Waffen wird rasch gelernt. Flight Wie schnell ist der Charakter – körperlich, aber auch die verbale Schlagfertigkeit betreffend? Diese Frage wird mit dem Stat Flight beantwortet. Charm Für einen Charakter mit einem hohen Wert in Charm ist es ein Leichtes, mit den richtigen Worten den Kopf aus der Schlinge zu ziehen, wenn es einmal brenzlig wird. Auch empathische Fähigkeiten werden mit diesem Stat abgedeckt. Grit Grit beschreibt die Willensstärke eines SC. Wie schwer ist es, ihn emotional zu brechen? Darüber hinaus beschreibt Grit die Fähigkeit, einen kühlen Kopf zu bewahren, und definiert die Straßenschläue eines Charakters. Die Stats verfügen über keine festen numerischen Werte. Vielmehr ist es so, dass jedem einzelnen eine bestimmte Art Würfel zugeordnet wird: Das beim jeweiligen SC am geringsten ausgeprägte Charakteristikum erhält den W4 als zugeordneten Würfel, das am stärkten ausgeprägte hingegen den W20. Die übrigen Würfelgrößen – mithin W6, W8, W10, W12 – werden auf die Stats dazwischen verteilt.

Die klassische Fertigkeitsprobe Im Rahmen des Spiels, welches einen narrativen Schwerpunkt aufweist, gelangen die Spieler immer wieder in Situationen, in welchen sie zur Erreichung eines Wunschzustandes eine Probe ablegen müssen. Hierfür legt der SL eine Schwelle fest, die für eine erfolgreiche Probe erreicht werden muss. Im zweiten Schritt entscheidet der SL, welcher Stat genutzt wird. Er legt darüber hinaus eine Schwelle, einen Mindestwurf, fest, der für ein erfolgreiches Bestehen der Probe ge- oder übertroffen werden muss.

Der höchste Wert, der natürlich gewürfelt werden kann, ist eine 20. Der niedrigste eine 1. Allerdings gibt es in Kids on Bikes das Prinzip der explodierenden Würfel. Dies bedeutet, dass beim Würfeln des Höchstwertes des jeweiligen Würfels noch einmal gewürfelt werden darf – sofern die Probe noch nicht erfolgreich war. Dies darf solange wiederholt werden, bis nicht mehr der Höchstwert gewürfelt wird oder die gesetzte Schwelle übertroffen wurde.

Beispiel: Ein SC wird von Feinden bedrängt. Er könnte mit Flight der Situation entfliehen, müsste aber aufgrund der aktuellen Situation (von mehreren Gegnern umzingelt) eine vom SL festgelegte Schwelle von 13 übertreffen. Alternativ könnte der betroffene SC eine Brawn-Probe ablegen, um die Feinde einzuschüchtern. Hier läge die Schwelle allerdings bei 17, da der SC keinesfalls von eindrucksvoller Statur (und darüber hinaus in der Unterzahl) ist.

Der Spieler entscheidet sich für eine Probe auf Flight.

Für diesen Stat darf der SC einen W8 würfeln. Er würfelt eine 8. Dank des Prinzips des explodierenden Würfels darf der Spieler noch einmal würfeln. Er würfelt eine 6. Insgesamt entsteht ein Wert von 14. Die Probe war damit erfolgreich, der SC kann der Situation entkommen.

Je höher der Wurf hierbei ausfällt, desto einfacher gelingt die beprobte Handlung bzw. desto mehr positive Nebeneffekte sind möglich. Dies gilt andersherum auch für das Nichterreichen der Schwelle. Je weiter diese unterschritten wird, desto negativer fallen die Konsequenzen aus.

Darüber hinaus erhält der Spieler beim Scheitern einer Probe einen sogenannten Adversity Token. Dieser kann zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt zum Modifizieren einer anderen Probe eingesetzt werden.

Die Probe im Kampfkontext Kommt es zu einer Kampfhandlung, werden reguläre Proben (z. B. Fight) ausgeführt. Dann jedoch, wenn gegen einen anderen Charakter angetreten wird, findet eine konkurrierende Probe statt.

Die Auswirkungen der vergleichenden Würfe sind in einer Tabelle auf Seite 36 zusammengefasst Beispiel: Der Angreifer attackiert mit Fight. Nun kann sich der Angegriffene entweder mit Brawn zur Wehr setzen oder mit Flight fliehen. Die beiden Proben werden vom jeweiligen SC/NSC gewürfelt.

Je nachdem, zu wessen Gunsten und in welcher Höhe die Differenz ausfällt, wird das Spiel fortgesetzt. Ist ein SC die siegreiche Partei, erhält er temporären erhöhten Einfluss auf den narrativen Fortgang der Handlung.

Interessant ist an dieser Stelle, dass es in Kids on Bikes keine Lebenspunkte gibt. Leben und Sterben liegen laut Grundregelwerk dicht beieinander; eine erfolgreiche Attacke gegen einen Feind kann, wenn der Wert der Angriffsprobe über dem Wurf des Verteidigers liegt, tödlich ausgehen.

Planned Actions vs. Snap Decisions Planned Actions erlauben das Durchführen einer Handlung mit keinem oder wenig Zeitdruck in passenden Bedingungen und mit geeigneten Utensilien. Hier kann auf Wunsch des Spielers statt zu würfeln auch einfach die Hälfte des maximalen Würfelwerts des jeweiligen Stats eingesetzt werden. Hat der Spieler einen W20 zur Verfügung, kann er die Probe – ohne tatsächlich zu würfeln – im Rahmen einer geplanten Handlung mit dem Wert 10 abschließen. Auch Adversity Token, die für fehlgeschlagene Proben vergeben werden, können eingesetzt werden; dies von allen helfenden SC, um das Ergebnis der Probe zu verbessern. Darüber hinaus können die SC hier zusammenarbeiten.

Bei den sogenannten Snap Decisions, also Entscheidungen oder Handlungen, die wesentlich spontaner sind und oft unter Zeitdruck stehen, muss gewürfelt werden. Ein Zusammenarbeiten entfällt und lediglich eigene Adversity Token können die Probe aufwerten. Die Handlung steht unter Zeitdruck oder anderen Negativprämissen.

Dank der detaillierten Erklärungen, Beispiele und Tabellen innerhalb des Regelwerkes sind die Regeln zugänglich. Die nicht gerade umfangreiche Ausführung von Kids on Bikesermöglicht ein schnelles Nachschlagen; komplexe Rechnungen zum Nachprüfen der Proben sind zu keiner Zeit nötig.

Positiv ins Auge fallen die Bemühungen der Autoren, dass SL und Spieler sich zu jeder Zeit wohl in der Spielwelt und mit ihren Charakteren fühlen. An unterschiedlichen Stellen im Regelwerk wird betont, dass der Abbruch einer Situation immer möglich ist, sofern jemand sich in dieser nicht gut fühlt. Gleiches gilt für Charakterkonzepte oder Aspekte innerhalb der gemeinsam gestalteten Spielwelt. Gefallen sie nicht jedem bzw. sorgen sie dafür, dass das Wohlergehen eines Spielers nicht gewährleistet ist, wird von ihnen Abstand genommen.

Charaktererschaffung Entgegen des Namens des Systems, Kids on Bikes, können auch Jugendliche und sogar Erwachsene gespielt werden. Je nach Altersstufe gibt es verschiedene Vorteile, Kinder erhalten z. B. + 1 auf Charmsowie +1 auf Flight. Interessant ist die Diversität innerhalb der Charaktererstellung: Herkunft, Ethnie, sexuelle Ausrichtung können einen Charakter ebenso auszeichnen wie eine körperliche Einschränkung oder Verhaltensweisen jenseits eines neurotypischen Verständnisses.

Die Erstellung eines SC gestaltet sich wie folgt:

Jede Trope weist festgelegte Stats und mögliche Stärken/Schwächen auf Eine Trope, d. h. der klischeehafte Stereotyp eines Charakterkonzepts wie beispielsweise das des beliebten Kindes oder des Verschwörungstheoretikers, wird ausgewählt. Sodann werden das Alter, die Stärken ("strengths") und Schwächen ("flaws") festgelegt. Ergänzend hinzu kommt der Vorname des SC und es erfolgt eine Definition der Verhältnisse des Charakters zu übrigen SC. Hierzu werden Fragen im Regelwerk angeboten, die die Festlegung solcher Verbindungen kreativ und abwechslungsreich gestalten.

Anschließend sollten die Motivationen ("motivations") und Ängste ("fears") festgelegt werden. Der SC erhält außerdem einen Nachnamen sowie eine erste rucksackgeeignete Ausrüstung. Final sind zwei Fragen zu beantworten, die je nach gewählter Trope variieren.

Alternativ kann ein SC auch von Grund auf gebastelt werden. Hier wird dann keine Trope ausgewählt, sondern ein leerer Charakterbogen (Seite 75) zur Hand genommen und eine Verteilung der Stats erfolgt. Eine solche ist bei der oben beschriebenen Version der Charaktererstellung bereits in der Trope mit inbegriffen. Diese Methode nimmt mehr Zeit in Anspruch, gestattet aber mehr Individualität als der Charakterbau auf Basis der Tropen.

Der einseitige Charakterbogen besticht durch Übersichtlichkeit und Minimalismus Die SC sind allesamt weltlich. Es gibt jedoch innerhalb des Systems auch Charaktere mit besonderen Fähigkeiten („poweredcharacters“). Ein solcher wird laut Regelbuch seitens des SL etabliert, aber mithilfe von Karteikarten, die unterschiedliche Eigenschaften und Fähigkeiten aufzeigen, auch von den Spielern gesteuert. Ein solcher Charakter ist in der Lage, übernatürliche Fähigkeiten wie beispielsweise Telepathie und Wetterkontrolle einzusetzen.

Die Charaktererstellung ist kurzweilig und auch für Einsteiger bzw. Neulinge leicht verständlich. Dem Zufall wird kein Einflussbereich eingeräumt; die Spieler können den Charakter ohne risikobehaftetes Auswürfeln kreieren. Am Ende des Erstellungsprozesses stehen primär junge Menschen, die mehr mit sehr weltlichen und weniger mit absonderlichen Fähigkeiten zu überzeugen wissen. Sie stehen realweltlichen Personen in nichts nach.

Erscheinungsbild Die PDF-Version von Kids on Bikes, die in diesem Artikel betrachtet wird, ist übersichtlich gestaltet: Absätze, Zwischenüberschriften und Hervorhebungen in Kursivschreibung und/oder Fettdruck sorgen für eine angenehme Leseerfahrung. Zu keiner Zeit sieht sich der Leser mit Textblöcken konfrontiert, die nur mit Mühe zu bewältigen sind. Immer dann, wenn ein Beispiel zum besseren (Regel-)Verständnis aufgeführt wird, ist dies farbig hervorgehoben. Kleine oder auch ganzseitige Illustrationen werten die Optik von Kids on Bikes auf und sorgen für Abwechslung,

Sprachlich weist das Regelwerk nur an wenigen Stellen nennenswerte Komplexität auf, sodass es sich durchaus auch für Leser eignet, die Englisch als Zweit- oder Drittsprache gelernt haben.

Kids on Bikes ist sowohl als PDF- als auch als Softcover-Variante erhältlich. Darüber hinaus gibt es eine Hardcover-Version, die neben zusätzlichen Illustrationen auch einen Comic sowie ein Beispielabenteuer enthält. Die Hardcover-Version ist auf der Website der Renegade Game Studios erhältlich.

Mit 80 Seiten, die die PDF- sowie die Softcover-Variante aufweisen, ist das Regelwerk zu Kids on Bikes alles andere als umfangreich. Das Fehlen eines Indexes kann somit allein vom Inhaltsverzeichnis aufgefangen werden. Ergänzend hierzu und zum Aspekt der Lesefreundlichkeit ist der Inhalt bzw. das Setting nahe genug an unserem Alltag dran, um die Einstiegshürde in das Rollenspiel niedrig zu halten.

Bonus/Downloadcontent Auf der offiziellen Website der Renegade Game Studios stehen neben den Charakterbögen (Kind, Jugendlicher, Erwachsener sowie Universalbogen) die sogenannten “Ashcan” Rules zur Verfügung, die einen frühen Regelentwurf darstellen, welcher die Kickstarter-Kampagne von Kids on Bikes angekündigt bzw. beworben hat. Darüber hinaus wird der Download des Playbooks angeboten, welches in Teilen vorgefertigte Charaktere bzw. Tropen anbietet, sodass ein schneller Spieleinstieg möglich ist.

Fazit Das verfluchte leerstehende Haus am Ende der Straße, Aliensichtungen im Kornfeld oder ein gruseliger Nachbar – möglicheAufhänger für ein Abenteuer in Kids on Bikes gibt es viele. Die Spieler finden sich als kindliche, jugendliche oder erwachsene Charaktere innerhalb eines klassischen US-amerikanischen Kleinstadtszenarios wieder. Von ihrer eigenen Neugier getrieben geht es auf Entdeckungstour.

Das klassische US-amerikanische Kleinstadtszenario Die Lektüre des kompakten Regelwerks bildet die Grundlage dieses Ersteindrucks. Das Regelwerk ist ansprechend gestaltet und lässt sich inhaltlich leicht erschließen. Dies auch aufgrund des zugänglichen Regelsystems. In Verbindung mit einer realitätsnahen Settingidee sowie einer raschen Charaktererstellung entsteht eine nur sehr niedrige Einstiegshürde, die Kids on Bikes auch für Einsteiger attraktiv macht. Es eignet sich überdies aus den gleichen Gründen als spontaner Zeitvertreib, denn viel Leseaufwand zum Spielen ist nicht gegeben.

Das Bestreben der Autoren, dass jeder Spieler sich zu jeder Zeit wohl in seiner Rolle fühlt, ist an dieser Stelle lobend zu erwähnen – ebenso wie der hohe Grad an Diversität im Rahmen der Charaktererstellung.

Negativ zu bedenken ist die verringerte Wiederspielbarkeit des Systems, denn die Grundzüge des Settings dürften sich rasch wiederholen. Die Kampagnentauglichkeit erleidet deswegen ebenfalls Einbußen. Einige Fans des Settings verweisen auf die inhaltliche Ähnlichkeit zu Modiphius' Tales from the Loop, die zwar nicht als Kritikpunkt per se anzusehen ist, jedoch eher dazu führt, dass entweder das eine oder das andere System gespielt wird und somit eine grundlegend kleinere Zielgruppe vorhanden ist.

Wer eine spannende, mit gruseligen und mysteriösen Aspekten gespickte Abwechslung zu fantasy- oder scifi-lastigen Systemen sucht, kann bedenkenlos einen Blick zwischen die Buchdeckel von Kids on Bikes werfen. Das Regelwerk, welches des Öfteren reduziert bei DriveThruRPG zu erhalten ist (und beispielsweise Halloween 2018 kostenlos im Rahmen eines Suchspiels angeboten wurde), verspricht viele Stunden gemeinsame Freude, ohne SL und Spielern vorab umfangreichen Leseaufwand aufzuzwingen.

Also, prüft die Fahrradketten und packt Ersatzbatterien für die Taschenlampe ein – wir treffen uns um acht am alten Rathaus.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kids on Bikes: Core Rulebook
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Outbreak: Undead 2nd Edition - Survivors Guide
by Justin F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2018 11:35:42

I'm unabashedly in love with this game. this review is based only on reading the Survivor's Guide and having watched Season 1 of the We're Alive: Frontiers Outbreak: Undead.. web series on Geek and Sundry.

What I like:

  • The book is beautiful. The layout is evocative, and it does a good job presenting a narrative and establishing the feel of reading someone’s field notes. The art, the "news" articles, and the hand written notes all add to the sensory texture of the game.
  • Simply put, character generation is fantastic. The SPEW AI website where you can derive your own personal capabilities based on a personality quiz is really great. Do keep in mind, the primary conceit for this game is playing yourself - which is not for everyone, especially in the context of survival horror where you can potentially play out the deaths or harm of actual loved ones. While not for everyone, this is a feature to the game for me! For those that don’t want to play yourself there are 2 other options. You can use a point buy system or you can use a set of pre-defined “paradigms” (party role’s) which look to be great for quick pick-up-and-go play.
  • While the game is a “zombie” game, the rules only lightly reference zombies. It’s truly a survival horror game and it would be very easy to use for any type of post-apocalyptic game you want. Fallout? Sure. Red Dawn inspired military game? Yup. Post WW3? You bet! Plague outbreak? No problem
  • The system is very modular. There are degrees of difficulty in play (Arcade Mode, Weekend Warrior, Survivalist) that tune the various systems and ratchet up the complexity. However, the individual mechanics are also modular. Systems, subsystems and components feel like they were designed by a computer programmer, or accountant . Key words abound, those key words reference Effects, Conditions, Skills, Universal rules and Abilities (pay close attention to the capitalization found within the text). The end result is a feeling of a procedurally driven system that has this built-in internal consistency across all the various systems as they are all referential to one another. But be warned, you will be flipping A LOT of pages until you gain system mastery. For example, you may need to look into 4 or 5 different parts of a book to fire a gun and determine the effects of that single shot.
  • The core rules are simple to grasp - even with all the modular subsystems. At its core it’s a skill based percentile system that you roll under to succeed. Degrees of Success and Failure are what matter and outcomes are determined by "spending" those degrees of success and failure to help narrate your story. Skills, kits (equipment), and Effects have specific ways that Successes and Failures can be "spent", but as learned through the We're Alive series, the more powerful, common, and "traditional" way to spend these Successes and Failures is by using them to steer the narrative.
  • A slight tangent. I really like dice systems that are narrative, e.g. through the result, the narrative emerges. FFG's Star Wars and Genesys systems are great examples. Building a dice pool, with various different dice each with different meaning and then interpreting the results and fitting the results into the narrative is super awesome. Outbreak: Undead.. does exactly this. While they have produced a set of custom D6’s, it is absolutely not needed to play. The core dice include: d100 for the skill check, and various coloured D6’s (in O:U.. parlance d5!) for various effects. Those are red "Damage" dice for determining harm, white "Depletion" dice to see if a consumable component breaks or runs out of use, black "Difficulty" dice that the GM can use to modify the base chance of success/failure, and blue "speed" dice used to see who acts in what order (initiative). You build a dice pool with some or all of those dice types based on your stated intent. You roll them all together, then you figure out how those dice interact with each other to tell a story. It would be common to roll 5+ dice, and for complicated multi-step tasks you could be rolling 10 or more dice. Who doesn’t like rolling a hand full of dice? For example, Shooting a gun in the middle of a rainy night. Rain and Night would add to the difficulty of the shot due to the Environment, so you would add black Difficulty dice. you are firing your gun, so you would add white depletion dice, due to performing several other tasks at the same time you must add blue Speed dice, and finally because its a gun, if you hit, red damage dice get added. Congratulations, you hit! This means the difficulty of the environment didn't hamper you, you are obviously a cool cat at night! However, your weapon depletes so you fire several times until the click click click of an empty clip sounds, darn, now I need to reload next turn or draw a different weapon. You score a critical hit ("Exploding" Damage) resulting in the death of your foe, all while you acted faster than your opponent did so you got the drop on him. Right there is a GREAT set of narrative queues to weave a story together with the rest of the table. Extra special bonus points go to the fact that your Degree’s of Success and Failure can apply to the entire table and influence the GM’s dice results as well. Complicated? Sure. Potential for evocative storytelling? Through the roof!
  • Settlements - oh my god, Settlements seem so very cool. they are essentially a playable "character", that requires you to interact with directly and indirectly. Provide for, support via missions, strengthen morally and defensively, and lead.

What could be better:

  • Not enough "survivalist" mode options in the Survivor's guide. I wanted more :). I hope this will be satisfied in the yet to be released GM's guide. While there are some notable "hard difficulty" options, the vast majority of the rules were calibrated to "weekend warrior" - I.E. Normal mode of play. An example. The Diplomacy skill has several well defined “specializations”, like Barter and Persuade. To ramp complexity, the rules could have been written in such a way so that “diplomacy” is used generically in Weekend Warrior mode and the specific specializations used in “survivalist” mode. Instead they were all lumped into Weekend Warrior. Minor, but noticeable.
  • While the rules are procedural and for the most part logically laid out, there are rules everywhere and small but critical interactions described will never be found in actual play. For example, there is a special condition called Delay. If your Speed Dice result is equal to or exceeds 24, you cannot act in the round you are in. This however is not described in the Round sequencing order (ICR), nor in describing the general rules on the use of Speed dice. So to use this rule you need to know there is special rule called “Delay”, otherwise trying to find this initiative order exception will be next to impossible because its not in a section that you would expect to find it in.
  • There are sections and rules that are very hard to understand on first reading or are incomplete. An example is during character creation. you can "level up" skills by spending a type of player currency called "gestalt Points", its not clear that you spend these during char gen and it took several readings to understand what it means. Be prepared to have an Errata document handy (assuming they will maintain one) to help with navigating the missing information and help with disambiguation.

Neither good nor bad, it just is

  • This is a simulator. A true Sandbox. Don't expect a "game world" fleshed out for you. As a GM, you will have a big job ahead in setting up the conditions for your game. You have all the parts laid out in the book but it'll be up to you to put those parts together in a way that'll make sense for your game world. Creating equipment and items, resource catalog's, settlement profiles, locations, encounters, foes, NPC's, will all need to be built from the ground up.
  • This is a crunchy game with a STEEP learning curve. To get the whole feel, you do need to play in "survivalist" mode, with all rules turned up to "11". Don't expect to sit down and just start playing, especially if you want the full experience. This isn't D&D. Unlike a lot of games, to get the whole experience, players will need to invest time and energy in learning this game. It’s a tactical game (or can be) and system mastery will matter in your odds of survival. Expect the game to slow to a crawl once all the rule systems are activated. This can be mitigated by: Playing in the different difficulty mode, and utilizing more narrative resolutions rather than specific Effect resolutions. This game is for those who want rules to matter and relish discussing tactical choices at the table, not those who simply want rules to get out of the way.
  • You are actually never taught how to play this game. While there are rules (aplenty), and specific examples illustrating many interactions, actually applying these rules in a coherent manner at the table is on you to figure out. You are expected to know how to role play, what skills are used for, how to adjudicate Narrative vs. Mechanical resolutions and what "GM discretion" means when described. This is not an entry level game. My hope is the GM’s guide will have more information about running games.

Final Verdict I love what this game is trying to be! My normal gaming preference leans more towards rules light or rules medium. This is not that, so it had to break through a LOT of internal bias for me to fall in love with it. Typical examples of my preferred games include: 5th Edition D&D, PbtA games, Modiphius 2d20 games etc. Outbreak: Undead.. can be significantly more complex than any of those examples listed. So why did this game work for me, where other “rules heavy” games have failed? In short, the systematic approach to building a procedurally based system, the narrative dice, the simplicity of the core mechanics with layers of difficulty, the "undead" survival default mode of play, and the fact that it's a tool box rather than a built-in setting all seem to have triggered different parts of my gamer brain.
I really want to be a player in this game because there are mountains of meaningful player choices to be made at every turn. I really want to be a GM, because this is a toolkit to build the exact kind of game world that interests me. I really want to see if survival plans would work when pitted against a hostile, relentless, and horrific world, where dice results are brutally unforgiving. I only struggle with wondering if I'll find interested players for a longer term game and if the complexity, once the rules hit the table, actually makes for a fulfilling game experience.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Undead 2nd Edition - Survivors Guide
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Outbreak: Undead 2nd Edition - Survivors Guide
by Daniel J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/29/2018 21:24:57

I've played many systems and this is definetly at the top for zombie survival use.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Deep Space
by James J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/16/2017 18:28:37

I have to give this 2 stars. I have been running games 40 years. literally all genres. At first I didn't understand it. A solid two weeks of reading it, plus questions to the team at the publisher's site, who were very helpful, multiple times, cleared up a lot of it for me.

Then once I understood it, It became a case of other systems do the exact same thing, easier. There are some nice bright spots in the rules but almost all of it is a system that simulates survival in space, but does so in a way that delves unneccessarily into minutiae, and uses mechanics that do not reflect reality or simplicity.

Literally, you get what they say... A toolkit for skills, abilities, and disadvantages, no setting. So it is an open world, create what you want, on a blank canvas. Okay great, but the details of the tools given to do that are just so complex, so full of jargon and abbbreviation, so densely written, without enough page references, it COULD be run, but unless you scrap half the book, running it as written is going to be very unnecessarily difficult.

There are spots in the rules for credits. From flat broke to 10,000 as a rich person. No cost charts. When queried, the response from the authors was, costs will vary across different campaigns. decide what things cost yourself.

If you want to design gear, you design it yourself, except for a few small page s of examples usimng their "Kit" system.

If you want planets, design it yourself, there are no rules for planets. I defaulted to using Traveller, to design planets for the campaign I planned to run.

If you want spaceships, there are no design rules for spaceships, other than a ship has locations, like Medbay, or Engine room, which usually is used as a force multiplier for a skill check or as resource points for gear. There are no rules for ship to ship combat. There are no rules for interstellar Travel. It is all design it yourself.

There are no rules for costs or costs of ships, or gear. "All of it will vary by campaign, so we left it up to the referee."

The art is amazingly wonderful.

If you have the time and desire, you could take a few weeks, and design things...using the Kit system to add "Descriptors" to an item, like... Gun, Rifle, Flashlight, Supressor, Auto-Fire, Scope. Each one of those things evokes like a Tag from a game like Fate, to give you a skill bonus.. if you have the relevant Skill to use that item's Tag.

This would be best used to run a game like Aliens or Pitch black or some similar shoot em up in space, but be prepared to create 90% of what you will use for your game.

The Mechanics are extremely difficult to grasp, and badly explained. Again, Jargon everywhere. Things like Encounter Check are abbreviated E%. Descriptor level, which is a measure of Tags, which add multipliers are DLv.

The character sheet is super complex. It has places where skills are calculated you have a box for the toal, but those formulas are not on the sheet, they are inside the book in the text descriptions of each skill.

The book text is hampered in grasping concepts for skills because of abbreviations, making it a foreign language check every few sentences.

The system does not flow, it is like jugglimng baslls of air to figure out how to generate a character with no foundation or grounding.

In actual play, you do not drink from a canteen, and mark it off, you have a system that has 5 points of water to be depleted. you might get one drink, you might get up to 5 drinks, it depends on making a roll of "5" on a d6 for the first drink. For the second drink, that's 2d6, on a 5 or more it is depleted. thrid drink 3d6. So literally you are tracking Individual drinks of water by dice roll, not knowing if you are emptying the canteen or not until you make the roll.

That kind of "micro-management by guessing" minutiae pervades the whole system. The attempt was to "Not have to worry about marking stuff off on a sheet minutiae, replaced by this die roll system to "add tension as befits horror, you do not know when you will run out of ammo, or food or water, or bandages."

What it added was Tension Headache over a few weeks of digging through to figure all of this out.

Forgive me, but if I have three bandages, and I use one, I got two left. that is pretty much kindergarten mathematics of resource management, done by 5 year old hands, not needing a calculator or dice.

People have run this at conventions, by scrapping a lot of the mechanics, and it was reported to be great. it was also reported to be worst Sci fi RPG ever made.

It has it's bright points, but for me, it was unworkable, needlessly complex, and a bear to understand.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Deep Space
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Outbreak: Undead 2nd Ed - Pocket Book
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2016 18:08:07
  • Haven't had an opportunity to play the game yet but have read about half the book. As with many RPG rulebooks, this one has some layout issues. Not that the pages themselves could have used more love but the information I need is just not always located where I'd like it to be. The rules themselves seem a bit complicated but not needlessly so. The name of the game here is "realism," so complicated dice pools are not out of place. If you don't want to play a gritty, realistic zombie game, play something else.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Undead 2nd Ed - Pocket Book
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Outbreak: Undead - Quick Start Guide
by Jim H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2015 18:39:31

It would not even open it downloaded fine but the file would not open.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Undead - Quick Start Guide
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Creator Reply:
Hey Jim! I\'m so sorry you\'re having problems opening up our Quick Start Guide. I just verified that the file is not corrupt, and shouldn\'t have any issues. We also checked the original file and the file on the server and it seems to be working fine. May I recommend you try re-downloading the item? It may have had a interrupted or incomplete download. If you\'re still having issues, you can also download the QSG directly on our site (www.outbreakundead.com) or we\'d be happy to email it directly to you. Please let us know if that is of any help and if you\'d be willing to take some time to reconsider your review. We\'d greatly appreciate it!
Hey Jim, Just wanted to see if you had any additional issues with the QSG. If you\'d like, we can send it to you directly to help with any issues you may be having with DTRPG\'s download. Please let us know how we can help!
Jim, Did you still need help finding our QSG? We\'d like to offer it to you directly if we can if you\'re having issues with the DTRPG download.
Hey Jim, It\'s been 7 months since we tried to help you with issues regarding the QSG. Is there anything we can do to help you re-consider this review?
Outbreak: Deep Space
by Dane K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2015 04:12:23

Since the update actually went through I've been playing Outbreak quite often with my friends. It's a damn solid title. I would also like to apologize to the publisher for the giant delay in removing my original negative comment/rating, between work and school it simply slipped through the cracks.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Deep Space
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Outbreak: Deep Space
by Moritz K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/28/2014 16:56:38

Let me say right away that I feel pretty let down by this book. I'll tell you why soon, but first let me list the good things about it:

1) Art. As to be seen by the cover art, this book boasts some beautiful illustrations.

2) Adaptability. With Outbreak: Deep Space you can create gaming nights with a wide variety of theme, going from the movie "Alien" to "Starship Troopers" and beyond.

3) Setting. This is really a subjective matter, but "Military Sci-Fi Survival Horror" is a fantastic combo indeed.

Now let me say why despite these good things, I don't like this game.

1) Mechanics. In my mind they are atrocious. Only a few pages into the book you find yourself reading about ever-accumulative percentile checks combined with a degree-of-success system that is bafflingly complicated; you will have four (!) different ways of using a simple D6 explained to you that will make you feel like your back in school, learning about faculties in math class; you will be learning about attributes, skills, abilities, descriptors, paradigms (wtf?) and the various horror-stats (why are there more than one?). This system seriously lacks focus. It feels like the designer took virtually every good sci-fi RPG ever made (Dark Heresy, Traveller, Savage Worlds to name a few) and mushed them together to create one chaotic clusterf*ck of a system.

2) Character Sheet. This really goes with the first point, but the character sheet is so cluttered that I feel it deserves a point on its own. In fact, if you want visual proof of this system being overly complicated, just have a look at the free character-sheet PDF and you will see what I'm talking about with your own eyes.

3) Layout. It's not horrible and they tried to make it fit the theme, but often times the graphics look out of place and in general it's not really neat.

4) Abbreviations. The book is full of them and they make what is a hard system already even harder to understand. Just as an example, the abbreviation for the Martial Arts skill is {MtlA%}. I sometimes felt like reading code that didn't compile properly.

5) Skill system. This is an extension of (1). There's a skill called Diplomacy (Ask). And if that's not enough: even when all your trillion tiny bonuses make your chance to succeed at a skill check go above 100%, you still have to roll and the rules for success get completely mixed up. What.

6) Fluff. Aside from the artwork, there's barely any in this book. No short stories, no example adventures, none of that. You can see now, why that makes this game terribly "adaptive" to your own setting. You'll have to come up with it.

7) Combat. You'll be adding numbers and calculating rolls more than either ROLEplaying or rolePLAYING. There's little fun to be found in rolling D100 (Check) + 2D6 (Difficulty) + 2D6 (Speed) and adding that together to compare it to tables and charts. What is a difficulty-die supposed to transfer anyway?

8) PDF Directory. There is none, which makes navigating this thing a nightmare.

So to conclude:

Buy this game if you are a hardcore min-maxer that feels unchallenged by AD&D 2 and has an equally oriented group of friends to play the game with.

Don't buy this game if you think D&D 3.5 is crunchy enough. Don't buy this game if you want a game with a lush setting or horror-feel. Don't buy this game if you like having some interaction with NPCs and your peers where you can just let go of numbers for a second. Don't buy this game if you have a group of friends that expects you to explain the rules to them because they don't want to read them, or don't have the rules (I don't think it can be done). Don't buy this game if you like having a neat and self-explanatory rulebook/PDF at your side.

Really, in general, don't buy this game.

I only paid 15$ for it and I still feel like I should get my money back. Actually, I feel like I should've been the one getting paid for having read through this thing.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Deep Space
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/19/2014 20:35:38

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=45134.

Most tabletop role-playing games can be classified in two different ways: a setting designed to fit with a set of mechanics or a set of mechanics designed to fit a setting. Yes there is some gray area between those two, but generally games fall into one of those two classifications. Outbreak: Deep Space is by far a game where the mechanics were designed around the setting.

Outbreak: Deep Space is a military sci-fi survival horror game. It’s kind of a mouthful, but it’s quite important to understand each one of those aspects, although not necessarily in that order. For starters, the setting and system are science fiction; seemingly far into the future. This means you get all that cool sci-fi equipment: armor, weapons, and gadgets. Second, it’s military; this means the game revolves around a lot of action without the drama, intrigue, and politics like space opera. Third, it’s horror; there are no shortage of scaring things to deal with on a regular basis. Finally, it’s survival horror; the goal is to survive because the horrors you’re facing are so bad that you may not make it to the end.

Understanding those four concepts can be easy for the setting, but Outbreak: Deep Space goes one giant step further and incorporates all four of those aspects in the games’ mechanics. However, this isn’t done on a piece-by-piece basic; it’s done by mashing all four of those aspects together to create a cohesive set of mechanics to support those four aspects. Oh yeah, they back it all up with some great setting-related artwork to boot. Let’s look at some of the mechanics that support what I’m saying:

Gear in Outbreak: Deep Space is quite dynamic. Gear is primarily supported by equipment kits, because a character should be completely outfitted to do the job they need to do. These kits can be further customized through external modifications and tech point upgrades. This is a very important mechanic to support that military sci-fi feel. It’s reminiscent of what a soldier in any army would be given so that they can be of value to their unit and do the job they’re supposed to do.

The effects of horror are numerous. You don’t just have one measurement of how horror effects a character, you have several: morale, insanity, psychological trauma, psychosis, therapy, regression, mental trauma, and other little bits here and there. This doesn’t just support horror, this is truly survival horror as it reminds you that there are many ways horror can affect a character and how many different ways a human might respond to that.

The overall level of horror is measured by an outbreak level. Granted, this is part of the Outbreak series, but this is one of the underlying mechanics, or at least it seems to be, that really defines survival horror as opposed to investigative or action horror. As the story progresses, the atmosphere worsens and things begin to happen more often. Maybe encounters are more frequent; maybe encounters are more deadly; maybe things just start feeling wrong.

I would like to note that Outbreak: Deep Space is not a game for beginners. However, I’d also like to point out that most beginners don’t start with survival horror as they may not be able to handle character death. (“This is the first time I’ve ever played and my character already died?!”) So, don’t approach this RPG with the idea that you’re going to be handled with kid gloves and walked through it like an introductory game. It pretty much has the assumption that you’ve played RPGs before and are ready to truly embrace the world of military sci-fi survival horror in all of its aspects. If you’re prepared for that type of atmosphere, than this is a game that will fit like a glove!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hunters Entertainment - Free Content Friday!
by Chris A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2014 18:42:29

Very nice to have this Extra Content support from this Game publisher. It is all very relevant to the Outbreak Undead rules and games I will run. Really, it is much like optional rules expansions I have seen from other Game Systems (but I did not have to buy another Edition of the rules to get it, which I appreciate very much.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hunters Entertainment - Free Content Friday!
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Outbreak: Undead - GM's Companion
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/06/2012 01:09:27

The GM's Companion serves as a handy addition to Outbreak: Undead that really does add a new degree of complexity to the risk and reward of missions in the zombie apocalypse. While it's not exactly going to turn your game upside down with a ton of new and unexpected things, it provides a good guide of what you can expect to be doing in the zombie apocalypse and things that can be put into play that won't beat the players' characters to a pulp in seconds.

Basically, the GM's Companion serves as a guide to what you want to do to keep a game smooth and on track, and allows you to use random generation to figure out stuff to put in if you lose track of where things should be going. It's not giant, but it's got enough stuff in there to be worth noting as a valuable aid.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Undead - GM's Companion
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Outbreak: Undead
by Robert C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/02/2012 22:11:48

If you're just looking to kill zombies, this may not be the book for you.

However, if you're looking for a general framework to fit your personal zombie apocalypse in, put your cash on the able now. Rules for stronghold building, firearms, looting, minor gear customization, an adaptable mission structure, and the ability to create "yourself" as a character are just some of the highlights.

The rules system is broad and different. It's made to play with 2 d10s and a d6, with a lot of room for imagination. The first thing to remember is that these are a framework. The rules can be vague or confusing in some spots, but the simplicity in mechanics they were shooting for more than make up for it. Add in monthly updates via Free Content Friday, and you've got a lot of potential.

The game adapts itself very well to the players, rather than demanding the other way around. The system tries to prevent rampant metagaming and will grow on you. Gamemaster friendly, as you can play and refree at the same time, and it doesn't demand large amounts of prep work. A great buy if you're looking for something different and aren't afraid to tweak the system.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Undead
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Hunters Entertainment - Free Content Friday!
by Michael G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2012 15:57:40

This material adds an interesting threat for survivors to face, and one that is likely unexpected.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hunters Entertainment - Free Content Friday!
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Hunters Entertainment - Free Content Friday!
by Jason A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/07/2012 15:33:39

I love the concept of Free Content Friday. But is there a way to include something in the product title so that buyers know whether they have already purchased/downloaded this item? I suggest putting the date of release into the title. [Ex: Free Content Friday - 04/13/2012]. Otherwise, visitors to this site are left thinking that there is only one product release from who knows how long ago?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Wild Kingdom
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/17/2012 11:04:31

Outbreak: Undead is in my opinion the best zombie game available, and Outbreak: Wild Kingdom is a suitably high-quality supplement for it.

Quite frankly, if you're going to do any real wilderness focus in your game, this is a great add-on. While not every campaign goes into the wilderness, there are even more city-applicable features like statistics for dogs, birds, and vermin swarms that would still be in play in a urban environment.

The Fair King Zoo scenario is both very interesting but also a little gory for my squeamish taste (it is a zombie game, after all). I'm not as easily scared as I used to be, so it didn't bother me terribly much, but it's not the sort of thing I'd run with just anyone (just like any zombie campaign). This should not be interpreted as a bad thing, however, given the setting and goal.

I cannot come up with anything bad about this book; some people may not care for the style, but I find the style to be incredibly cool (maybe on account of my nerdiness), and there's nothing I can gripe about.

My one warning to people would be that this is a zombie game, so not everyone will appreciate the art and content (it is rather gory), and it's not for children or the excessively squeamish.

For those wanting a quick summary: Content: 4/5 (It has a lot, but it's very specific; if you are going into the wilderness specifically it'd be 5/5) Art/Typesetting: 5/5 (It made my graphic design nerd happy inside) Writing: 4/5 (Some typos detract from otherwise excellent writing, some places could be re-written) Awesome Factor: 5/5 (ZOMBIES! Wilderness survival! Animals!) Interest: 5/5 (Well thought out and deeper than just stating facts) Maturity: 16+ (Clean language and sexual content, but violent and potentially disturbing) Value: 4/5 (It's not the longest supplement around for $13, but it makes up for it with quality)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Outbreak: Wild Kingdom
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