[Review] Part-Time Gods by Third Eye Games

Posted: July 5, 2011 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Part-Time Gods, Reviews, Roleplaying Games


The idea of playing godlings in a modern setting has always been something that I’ve enjoyed.  While-Wolf sort of tried to address that particular niche with the Scion line of games, but a few mechanical issues turned me off for it, and I’ve been without any other alternatives ever since.

At least, until now.  Part-Time Gods is an RPG by Third Eye Games, and from the looks of it, this might be the next game to try and take this niche:

You’ve been gifted with the spark of divinity. Will you give into the power and leave your mortal life behind? Or will you lead a double life and protect those closest to you? Choose wisely – You only have one soul.

Part-Time Gods is a roleplaying game where players take the role of ordinary people imbued with the powers of a god. Balancing one’s mortal and divine lives can be tricky, and divine responsibility doesn’t always pay the rent.

Powered by the new DGS-Lite system and packed with plenty of character options, players make any kind of character they can think of and can quickly jump into the world. Includes over 40 antagonists, flexible divine magic and an in depth view of the world from the eyes of the gods.

That’s a lot of promise for a single game, and I’m hoping that this game manages to pull off what they’ve said with the blurb.  I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I’m going into this blind.  I’ve seen the Kickstarer page for this before but I didn’t really pay that much attention to it.

However, the premise IS interesting.  I like the idea that balancing mortal and divine lives.  I like the odd situations that you’re forced to cope with now that you’re a divine being.  It’s exactly the kind of thing that got me into Scion.  So, let’s go take a look inside the covers, shall we?

A History of the Divine

The backstory of the setting is fairly detailed, and uses accessible language to explain the events that have led up to the point where the game is set.  In it, the book discusses the existence of the Source, a mysterious and poorly understood benefactor that granted humans the ability to become gods.

The chronology of events presented were thought out, and didn’t really cause me to go, “Wait, really?”  I was willing enough to play along with the setting’s backstory and reasoning, and I found it to be an interesting approach that plays to the Urban Fantasy nature of Scion and the high concept angle of Nobilis.

Theologies

The next chapter discusses the Theologies. They’re technically similar to Vampire Clans and Mage Orders in the new World of Darkness in the sense that they serve as a form of Character Race/Class.

They’re also a social unit that espouses a given philosophy of survival in the world.  Each of the various Theologies has a reasonably good grounds for existing and they don’t necessarily feel tacked on.  I’m glad that they didn’t feel the need to cling to the standard WoD team of five (leader, preacher, thinker, talker, sneak) either.

I have to admit that I did chuckle at the presentation format.  It looks like something straight out of a world of darkness book, but honestly I don’t mind.  It makes sense, and that’s what counts.

Each Theology also grants modifiers and special powers and weaknesses to each type.

Character Creation

The Character creation chapter of Part-Time Gods is broken up into three phases: Mortal, Divine and Other.  Character creation falls squarely in the point-buy rules-medium spectrum, and should be very familiar to people who have actually played White Wolf Storytelling / Storyteller games or similar games like Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition or Fading Suns.

I’m pleased with the mechanics for Bonds and Passions.  These define the relationships that the character has with other people and ideals.  This is a great thing to add to a game of this kind as I’m always wary of the Mage: the Ascension issue where incredible power only results in people leaving the earth to play in their own sandboxes in other dimensions rather than to pay attention to humanity.

Oh, also?  A character creation summary, definitely winning points for that.

Divine Powers

The next chapter is large one devoted to all the powers available to the player characters.  These take multiple forms:

  • Entitlements, which are small powers that grant a little edge, and may come in Active and Passive varieties.  Examples of this include the ability to talk to animals or extra arms.
  • Relics, which are artifacts of divine nature, such as Thor’s hammer.
  • Dominions, which are keywords that define the purview of the gods, which in turns colors the nature of their Manifestations.
  • Manifestations, which are greater powers such as Summons or Illusions.

The sheer number of powers can get a bit overwhelming, but I do like how they all fall into place.  Also, plus points for having Relic creation mechanics.

Gear and Combat

The Gear in the game is presented in a relatively straightforward manner, but the statistics of the weapons did clue me in on something that I didn’t expect.

Combat is fairly manuver-heavy.  Combat takes place in a fairly standard sequence, and both the attacker and defender chooses a maneuver.  They both roll against each other, applying the various modifiers from the maneuver and the one who rolls higher gets their way.

The combat seems to be fairly robust, with a wealth of maneuvers to choose from to lend a tactical feel to the game.

Oh, the basic mechanic for the game is a 1d20 roll plus Attribute+Skill+Modifiers, where Attributes and Skills scale from 1-10.  It seems straightforward enough and doesn’t seem to suffer from any of the weirder dice-rolling gimmicks that some game systems fall into.

Antagonists

The author was definitely into his work in this chapter, which is a very substantial selection of all sorts of monsters and various other opponents that one can run into as a character in Part-Time Gods.

Each category of monster has a short general writeup that describes their natures and habits, and is a great way to draw ways to use these creatures as opponents and plot hooks.

Storytelling

The last chapter consists of advice on running the game, details various stories and moods that could be used for a game of Part-Time gods.  The advice is sound, and I do like how the author goes all out here to try and get new GMs to feel comfortable in running a game of Part-Time Gods, even going so far as to provide a few pre-generated NPCs.

The book ends with a character sheet, a glossary of terms and an Index, pretty much hitting all the necessary bases for book usability.

Layout & Art

The layout is immediately recognizable to anyone who has ever held a World of Darkness book.  It’s a clean two column layout, black and white text and interior artwork.  The artwork was passable, doing a good job of conveying the feel of the game.  Some pieces could have been a little nicer, but they’re nothing to cry about.

—-

Conclusion

Part-Time Gods presents a perfectly feasible urban-fantasy rpg about gods hidden among mortals.  While it feels very familiar to the World of Darkness, I didn’t feel that it was derivative or a half-hearted copy.  I’m pleased with it, and the system is simple enough to teach to new players and GMs and get them started right away.

I’d be very happy to recommend Part-Time Gods as an RPG for any group as it has a little of everything.  Tacticians will enjoy the options in combat, story driven players will delight in the Bonds and Passions, and GMs won’t feel like they’re unprepared.  Part-Time Gods is a solid RPG that can support one-shots and long term play, with just the right kind of crunch to keep things interesting.

After being burned by Scion, I think that this might just be my go-to game for urban fantasy gods.

Part-Time Gods is available from DriveThruRPG for $14.99 or roughly Php 646.00

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Comments
  1. Sniderman says:

    Glad to see this is out, as I followed the Kickstarter progress. Found out too late to contribute though. Would like to know when the print version is expected to be released as I can’t find any info.

    • Andrew says:

      This was addressed in one of the Kickstarter updates:
      “- Print copies: Part-Time Gods is off to the printers! If you didn’t back this Kickstarter you can get it at GenCon 2011 or you can wait until October for its official release! Tell your FLGS to pick this game up. It’s going to be a doozey.”

      If you can’t make it to GenCon, you could always try enlisting the help of a ‘ninja shopper’ to pick up a copy for you. Or just get the PDF now and pick up the hard copy when it releases in October.

  2. […] through fiction and many myths are filled with the stories of demigods like Hercules and Perseus. Jay explores Part-Time Gods and recommends it as an urban fantasy take on godlings with a little of everything you might […]

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