Monday, May 17, 2010

Game Review for Alpha Omega

Another review I posted to and I gave it a 5 for Style and a 4 for Substance due to a few things that were missing. However, it is an excellent game that I cannot wait to play again.

Disclaimer: While I received the pdf and print copy for free, it was not for me to review them, it was due to a give-a-way that was going on in the forums around a year ago.


First off, the book is gorgeous. I have no problems in having this book on my coffee table, regardless of who is coming over. It is printed in a landscape-style, instead of what is normal for books, but surprisingly it works very well. All too often, in a typical book, you have to bend the spine to make it lay flat and to keep the pages from turning over on their own. Due to the landscape-style, the book lays flat easily and the pages stay down. I would encourage any RPG Producer to publish their books in a landscape-style for that reason alone. It does fit oddly on my shelf, though if you stand it on end it fits perfectly. Of course, the pdf does not have this problem.


The way this book removes page numbers is quite a oddity for me. Along the left and right sides of the pages, there are 11 circles with a symbol in them, indicating the 11 different chapters. Underneath the circles are numbers to signify which section of the chapter you are in. For example, the third chapter has the following: 3.0 3.1 3.2 and so on. These numbers are also highlighted with the same color the chapter symbols are. It takes some time to get used to it, but when you do, it works just as fast or even faster than typical page numbering.

Chapter 1 is the typical "This is Role-Playing" that is actually a rather good write up. While it is written for non-gamers, it does not dumb anything down like many other books do. This chapter also explains the navigation system that it uses, what types of dice are needed, different modes of play (like grid maps and mini's vs none), and running a game session with helpful advise for a GM. 5 Pages all told, and I am glad that they are there.

Chapters 2 and 3 are the setting info, from the prophetic vision of one man who was considered insane, to the upcoming war between the newly-discovered species of humanoids that had always been around. These would be the Seraph and the Ophanum, as well as their numerous children. They are not well-described in this book , but since this book takes place before they arrive, it makes sense.

Chapter 4 is where the world is mapped out. in other words, it gives information on the different locations around the world, especially the arcologies, which are giant buildings that contain entire cities within them.

Chapter 5 is where a few notable people and organizations are described and mentioned. The organizations are mixed and are ready for the upcoming evolutionary war, with a group for each different race type, from human to A.I., that each wants to be the winner.

Chapter 6 is where character creation starts, with the different "races" that you can be: Human, Necrosi (which are biological humans that have adapted to life underground, much like Drow except human instead of coming from Elves), Remnants (who are mutated humans that became the way they are due to radiation poisoning and the like from living outside of an arcology), Bio-Engineered (these are humans that were genetically altered to be a specific thing in life: Combat, Laborer, Stealth, or Manipulation), Nephilim (who are beings that have one parent who is a Seraph or Ophanum, and show visible signs of their parentage such as wings, for example), Lesser Nephilim (who are those with a Nephilim as a parent), Grigori (who are servants of the Seraph and Ophanum), Lesser Grigori (those beings who are born with one Grigori parent), and the Anunnaki (who are the offspring of two Nephilim where one of the Nephilim has a Seraph as a parent and the other had an Ophanum as a parent).

Alpha Omega is a Point Buy system were each race has different innate abilities and disadvantages, causing the number of available points to be different due to how certain races start out with more than others. Each race also has different limits on how high stats and skills can go, which makes choosing a race very dependent upon your character concept.

There are also 3 different types of magic in this game, or three different Wielding types. Arcane Wielders, for those who learn their abilities through being taught. Innate Wielders were born with their abilities and the power for them come from within. Spiritual Wielders are those who can harness the Alpha or Omega (living or death) energy.

Chapter 7 is the game mechanics chapter. Alpha Omega utilizes Dice Steps that are based upon the stat and skill numbers you purchased during character creations. Honestly, I would have been lost if it were not for the dice charts on section 7.1.1. This chapter covers stat checks, skill usage, combat, damage, armor and armor penetration, destroying objects, bleeding, dying, resuscitation, vehicle usage, and real world concerns like vision problems, poisons, drugs, ect. The system for Wielding (magic) is also explained in this chapter.

Chapter 8 is only 8 pages long and describes how XP is awarded and how to spend it.

One of the longest chapters in the book, Chapter 9 is the gear chapter. Guns and special ammunition, vehicles, common items, and implants, this chapter has it all. Everything is well detailed and clearly written, to the point that accurate bookkeeping for number of bullets and size of bullets, not to mention the amount and size of the special ammunition, is clearly important unless you have a lenient GM. But seriously, if you love guns and outlandish ones at that, you will love this chapter. You can have rifles that double as a mace and maul, or an axe.

Chapter 10 contains a bit more information about running a game as well as a good amount of sample NPC's.

Chapter 11 contains the index, character sheet, and a few of the more useful charts, like that of the dice pools.

Throughout the book, the full color artwork makes this book extraordinarily gorgeous. The quality that went into this book is top notch and their editor is to be praised for I found zero grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes.

Playing the Game

The game that I played in was online, using OpenRPG for the Virtual Tabletop Program and it worked out rather well. There were 5 characters: Zy, who was the combat-loving Remnant. Nikoli Tesla (me), a Necrosi that was the rogue of the group. Ares Ericson, who was a Manipulation based Bio-Engineered, or the charismatic one. James Stride, a Wielding Remnant. Very useful. Zekiel, a Lesser Nephilim that took the place of the Tank.

The GM set up the game as a corporate espionage sort of game, that was extremely fun to play. Again, the dice step charts were invaluable to us, especially since we were gaming online. We only gamed for 5 sessions due to the GM's upcoming college schedule, but even a year later, we are still bugging him to continue the game when he finishes his current degree.

The largest problem we had was the lack of creatures for us to deal with, but the GM got his hands on the creature book from the publisher and used it relentlessly against us. Especially since the GM was intent on play-testing and running us through every possibility.

The first combat went rather slowly, but once we understood the dice steps the rest of the combats went very quickly.

All in all, the system is rather crunchy, but easy to use in actual gameplay once everyone understands how the dice steps and pools work. The setting if fun and allows for any number of gameplays. You could go the espionage angle like we did, be off in the wilds and just try to survive, go all political within the arcologies, straight out war, and so on. It is a post-apoc setting that is gaining normalcy and is about to be hit with another apocalyptic war, and it allows for anything and just about any genre to be played.

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