Leagues of Adventure

[Gaming 101] Games to Start With Part 4: Alternate History and Pulp

Right, I know I said I’d do Alternate History and Pulp today. Then I realized what kind of trouble I got myself into. There’s an awful lot of this stuff out there right now! Okay, so no preamble, let’s just do this:

Hollow Earth Expedition from Exile Games
Fast, pulpy fun matched with an easy to grasp system that can use any size of die makes Hollow Earth Expedition (or HEX) a definite crowd pleaser. Add some top-notch art, compelling plot hooks for a hollow earth campaign and all sorts of crazy threats from Dinosaurs to Nazis to tribes of cannibals, the game practically runs itself. Add the fact that the supplements and expansions for the game are all aimed at targeting all other forms of pulp (Secrets of the Surface World covers urban pulp, for example) and an upcoming expansion set in MARS, what’s not to love about this game?

All For One: Regime Diabolique from Triple Ace Games
Musketeers fighting the forces of Hell itself! Swashbuckling action against the threats of the supernatural! Add a well-researched history and a very strong series of supplements to fill out everything from War to Fashion, this game presents itself extremely well and has a freeform magic system that is quick and easy to learn without having to trawl through massive spell lists. Imaginative and unique, All For One: Regime Diabolique also uses the Ubiquity system from Hollow Earth Expedition, but for fans of Savage Worlds, they’ve just recently released a version for that rule set as well.

Leagues of Adventure from Triple Ace Games
Another Ubiquity system game, Leagues of Adventure takes the Triple Ace Games level of research to pulling off steampunk and mashing it up with the adventure-seeking high of the pulps. Fans of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will find themselves right at home in this game, with strange devices, mysterious ruins and the call of adventure. Go out and heed the call for adventure!

Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein from Iain Lowson
Perhaps one of the creepiest alternate history games I’ve ever had the good fortune to read, Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein is a dystopian steampunk setting where Dr. Victor Frankenstein uses his discoveries to establish his nation of Promethea. Commoners huddle away from the Dark Harvest, while the decadent nobility harvest body parts to live forever. Take up arms as part of the resistance, and fight the good fight in hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

Qin: the Warring States from Cubicle 7
I’m actually reading this book right now, and I have to say that it’s a blast to read. Low-powered wuxia action in a time before the Three Kingdoms Era, with plenty of room for adventure and kung fu action. If you’re interested in following along, just check out my Let’s Study articles.

Yggdrasill from Cubicle 7
Here’s another favorite of mine. Well researched and carefully presented, Yggdrasill gives an awesome look at the Scandian lands and the lives of the Norsemen Heroes that live there. Politics (?!) Magic, and Frost Giants abound, leaving players with more than a number of different avenues to get into trouble.

Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat Productions
These days I can’t mention Pulp without mentioning SotC lest the FATE fans cry foul. :p Seriously though, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this game, and I’m just waiting for someone to run it for me and show me the error of my heathen ways.

Deadlands Reloaded! from Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Welcome to the Weird West. If you’re even remotely interested in Westerns, grab this game (and the Marshall’s guide too.) Deadlands is one of the longer running game lines and is one of the most loved horror-western settings around. Strange card-slinging hucksters and eagle-eyed sharpshooters are just two of the kinds of characters you can play, not to mention miracle wielding preachers and Ghostrock-powered weird gadgetry!

This is by no means exhaustive, and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed more than a few titles here, but I think this is a good enough place to start if you’re looking for adventure and pulps. At this point I’m still thinking of what other areas to cover… anyone got suggestions? Just add them on the comments below!

If you’re interested in picking up any of these in hardcover, you can order them directly from Gaming Library.

To place an order, please go to Gaming Library’s special order express page : http://www.gaminglib.com/pages/special-order-express-page

Take note that placing an order there doesn’t mean you’re committed, rather the Gaming Library team will be giving a quote and you can now choose whether to push through with the purchase or not.

[Review] Leagues of Adventure Core Rules by Triple Ace Games

There’s something about Victorian Adventure that tickles my fancy something fierce. I’ve always been a fan of Pulp, but there’s a certain romantic charm to the less informed and yet remarkably optimistic outlook of the adventurers of an earlier era that not too many games pay attention to.

Until this one came along.

Leagues of Adventure is the latest offering from Triple Ace Games. Written by Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams of the amazing All For One: Regime Diabolique, Leagues of Adventure uses the Ubiquity system and applies it to an earlier era of daring tales.

Greatly inspired by the trends and fiction of the late Victorian Age, Leagues of Adventure draws on the works of H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Rudyard Kipling and H. Rider Haggard. If you’ve enjoyed anything from these writers, then you’ll definitely enjoy this game.

For those curious, there’s a strong difference in tone and style in stories of Victorian Age adventure as opposed to Pulp, so those who enjoyed Hollow Earth Expedition shoudln’t be worried about ending up with the same thing. In fact, one of the strongest impressions I got with the book is that the author spent a lot of time building the necessary groundwork in terms of the themes and mood of Victorian Adventure to differentiate it from Pulp.

The book starts off with a chapter devoted to giving a sketch of Victorian History and the conflicts of the era. I feel that this is a solid opening to a game of this sort as Victorian Adventure needs more than just the trappings of look and feel, but a solid foundation of facts and a sense of place and time to properly communicate the unique nature of League of Adventure’s setting. Some of the items included are fictional, of course, but are appropriate given the conceit that Leagues of Adventure is an alternate history where fictional characters in our world were actually quite real. A few callout boxes discuss other period-appropriate elements such as the Imperial System of measurement, proper phrases and even periods of mourning.

Character creation comes next, and anyone who is familiar with the Ubiquity system will find themselves right at home. The character creation is quick and easy, with a point buy system and a choice of Talents and Flaws by which to define your character. Another important choice is to pick which League your character has a membership in. While it might be interesting to have an entire team be part of a single League, this isn’t a requirement, and a mixed-league team might have a broader range of access to resources than a team belonging only to a single League of Adventure.

The Ubiquity system is a rules-medium set of mechanics, comparable to that of Savage Worlds or the World of Darkness. The basic mechanic involves gathering a pool of dice (any kind will do, as only odds and even values matter) and rolling against a set difficulty. Even-numbered results are counted as successes and if you matches or exceeds the difficulty, then you succeed. It’s an easy system to learn, and while the Ubiquity system itself isn’t revolutionary by any chance, it’s easy to learn and run.

The book goes on to detail hazards, weapons, gear and even stranger wonders like automatons and interesting vehicles like an ornithopter, all very appropriate to the games setting and with complete statistics. Each of these wonders could be a plot hook in itself, something that GMs will probably appreciate.

The book goes on to discuss GMing stories set in this era, with wiggle room for Gritty implementations all the way up to Cinematic ones such as the LXG movie. There’s also a wonderful section here on Creating villainous leagues (COBRA anyone?) as well as premade sample leagues to throw your stalwart heroes against.

But the best chapter of the book so far would be the atlas of the world complete with a massive list of interesting locations and plot hooks. There’s enough material here to fuel an entire campaign and still have something left over. As I’ve become increasingly busy as of late I’ve found that this sort of thing is a godsend, and while all of the plot hooks are completely usable, a cunning GM can use these to spin off even more adventures.

The last section of the book is monster manual of sorts, with builds for NPCs and villains, more than enough to get started. There’s a massive range of sample characters and monsters here from Tomb Robber, to Femme Fatale to Eunuch Guards and Dinosaurs.

I’ve always held a lot of respect for Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams’ work, and Leagues of Adventure is him at the top of his game. As far as core books go, this is one of the most complete in terms of usefulness and inspirations for a GM to run a game in this exciting era of gaming.

The Steampunk genre is hitting a high point in its popularity as of late, but while a lot of the stuff out there is content to handwave a lot of stuff in exchange for mere style over substance, Leagues of Adventure shows off what a healthy serving of research can do to make a game feel grounded and believable while still retaining the fancy aesthetic.

For fans of the Steampunk genre, or anyone with an interest in heroics, I definitely recommend Leagues of Adventure.

Leagues of Adventure is now available from RPGNow in PDF format for $29.99 or roughly Php 1,290

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