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Leagues of Adventure - Core Rules $19.99
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Leagues of Adventure - Core Rules
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Leagues of Adventure - Core Rules
Publisher: Triple Ace Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/08/2015 13:48:10

Leagues of Adventure is a Victorian Steampunk/Weird Science game from Triple Ace Games. Though calling is "Steampunk/Weird Science" is selling it really short. I actually have a lot to say about this game because I really, really like it.

Note: I am reviewing the hardcover and PDF versions of this game. The hardcover is nice with a nice sturdy binding, full color cover with b&w pages and color inserts. The PDF is the same and weighs in at 262 pages.

Leagues of Adventure (LoA hereafter) is the first Ubiquity game I ever purchased. I think what drew me to it was that it was very much a "Steampunk/Weird Science" game which was something new for me. All my Victorian games tend to be Victorian/Magic/Gothic Horror games. Ghosts of Albion, Cthulhu by Gaslight and even Victoriana are ones that spring to mind the quickest. So this is a period I am intimately familiar with; one I really love and enjoy.

Maybe it is my read on it, or by design, but this game is more pulpy, two-fisted action than other Victorian games. Sure it is not pulp to the level that Hollow Earth Expedition is, but the shared DNA is obvious. Even a couple of the archetypes felt similar. So if your idea of Victorian era fun is dark, smog soaked streets at night hunting a lone killer...well this game can do that, but it is also better suited to hunting down a rampaging elephant in the heart of the city let loose by a society with aim opposed to yours. Or hunting down a secret cult planning on releasing a virus in the city.

Certainly one of the many inspirations for LoA is another League, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Indeed, the cover even invokes the movie a bit. Hey. I know the movie sucked compared to the comic, but it was still big stupid fun and I enjoyed it.

If you are familiar with the Hollow Earth books then this is one is set up along a similar idea. Though the chapter titles wonderfully worded and sound "Victorian". A huge plus in my book.

The Introduction is the typical what is this game, what is roleplaying, what is that house, where does that highway lead to? Sorry. That was the Talking Heads. Not really needed by anyone reading my words here, but still nice to have.

Chapter the First: What Has Been & What is to Come, covers a history of events from 1890 to 1899. Dates are listed, wars are discussed and various rulers of nations are listed. Good background information for any Victorian game. The best bit might be the "Who's Who" it includes a mix of real and fictional people of the Victorian age. If you play any Victorian game or have a passing interest in this period then this list has a lot of familiar names. Still, great to have. My ONLY complaint about this chapter is that it would have been better served as an appendix. It is just a collection of lists with no narrative or context.

Chapter the Second: Concerning the Nature of Character & Inherent Qualities. I want to pause to really soak that title in. I am a Victoriana geek. I love that, sounds like a scientific paper that would dabble into meta-physics. But all that aside this is the chapter on character creation. Moreso than HEX this game is focused on Nationality because, well surprise, the Victorians were. Since LoA is a complete and contained game, the full character creation rules are present here. This is good since the archetypes and motivations are slightly different. Primary and Secondary Attributes are the same with the same point spread. Skills are given the same point spread as HEX but the skills themselves are slightly altered. Talents are also present with more of a Victorian flair. The focus here is very much the "everyman" adventurer. Sure having money or connections help, but these are slef-made men and women. So no supernatural talents just yet. Under Resources we get to real meat of this game.
Characters are expected to be part of a League. It is a great way to get dissperate and often unimaginable types to real Victorians of people together to adventure. Each League can even have a wealthy Patron to provide the gear and expenses. There are a number of clubs and leagues presented. All with different hooks, skills and motivations. It really is a cool way to get beyond the "you meet in a pub/bar/inn". My faves are the Fenian Society, The Hollow Earth Society and the Temporal Society. There are lots more, but making a new one is a breeze. Hellfire Club anyone? Actually this looks like a good way to introduce one I have played around with in the past, The Order of Lincoln's Ghost. What follows are the color insert pages of the stated archetypes. We got another Big Game Hunter here too, but it is interesting to see the differences between the LoA and HEX versions. One minor nitpick...There is a pioneering Aviatrix. Yeah I know in a Victorian game a woman would never be around a plane, well that doesn't concern me (watch the Hayao Miyazaki movie "Porco Rosso" and then we can all stat up spunky girl airplane pilots). No my issue that the first plane flew two years after Victoria was dead. Ok, Ok this game also has a "Temporal Scientist" in it. So my nitpick will fall on deaf ears. I fix this by just setting my game in 1901.

Chapter the Third: The Mechanisms of the Known & the Unknown. AKA Game Rules. Here are introduced (or reintroduced) to the Ubiquity game system and dice. I appreciate simple mechanics in my games and Ubiquity really is about as simple as you can get it. Check your dice pool, roll the number of dice and add up the successes. This works great with the pulpy-style of HEX. In LoA you get a more action-adventure orientated Victorian game.

Chapter the Fourth: Fisticuffs, Firearms & Falling With Grace. or Combat. Again. Love these chapter titles. This is our combat chapter. Truthfully if you have read and understand Chapter 3, then this is the logical extension of that. There are other issues, but really it reads smooth and easy to follow.

Chapter the Fifth: Trappings, Necessities, Weapons & Conveyances. Equipment. Like it's older cousin this chapter has huge list of equipment. I am pleased to see that the prices are given in British Pounds, schillings and pence (as any proper Victorian age game should) but also there is a listing for cab fare. Read Sherlock Holmes sometime; the many kept several cabbies in business all by himself.

Chapter the Sixth: Of Physics & Metaphysics. Ah. The chapter on steam punk weird science. We start with what is the most important for this game; Inventions. The Victorian time is often seen as a time of wild inventors, well you can do that with this game. The invention creation rules are really fun and simple. We follow with gadgets (smaller items), weapons, vehicles and moving on to the "living creations" aka your Frankenstein's Monster. There are plenty of sample inventions to give you ideas or at least an end goal. I say as a GM don't make an Ornithopter available to characters just because you have the stats for it. Make them invent it.

Chapter the Seventh: A Guide to Navigating the World of Adventure. or the setting. We start by talking about the style of the game. Will it be gritty, adventurous, pulpy or cinematic. There are tips on how to do all of these. Personally for this game I prefer the pulpy action. This chapter also covers adventure ideas, goals and hooks. All of this against the backdrop of a world during the turn of the 19th Century to the 20th. The "modern" world is coming. This also includes guideline on creating a "Villainous" league. Every Justice League needs a Legion of Doom. A few detailed examples are given.

Chapter the Eighth: Of Travel & the Unseen Marvels of the World. The is the world overview for LoA. It is a pretty healthy chapter too. Lots of places are covered from around the world, both known and mysterious. As well as factual and fanciful. I found this to be fascinating reading to be honest and really it makes this book worth the price to any GM running any sort of Victorian game. It may or may not be compatible with what other game you are using but the ideas are a gold mine.

Chapter the Ninth: Stalwart Friends & Fiendish Adversaries. The chapter of Mooks, NPCs and some creatures. We get some generic mooks, "Thug", "Cultist" and so on as well as some named NPCs. Notable, Col. Sebastian Moran and James Moriarty of the Holmesian Canon. Lo Peng, Dr. Moreau, and The Mad Monk. For monsters we get a nice collection; Intelligent Apes, Gill men, and some dinosaurs. We round it off with some normal animals.

There is a list of Recommended Reference Materials. A Character sheet and a good index.

What can I really say about this book. I am inordinately fond of it. There is no magic worth a damn in it (normally a deal breaker) but I still enjoy the hell out of it. There is a feeling in this game I can only describe as the "Thrill of adventuring". In Ghosts of Albion people adventure because there has been some terrible murder or other crime committed by magic. In Cthulhu by Gaslight it is because of some terrible, unknown horror lurking in the shadows. In Leagues of Adventure the conversation is more like this:

Scientist: I do believe there are dinosaurs in the Amazon. Big Game Hunter: What's that you say? Geeves, pack my trunks and guns we are going to South America! Aviatrix: No too much, I am still working the issues out of my airship. Better just take the guns. Big Game Hunter: I like the cut of your gib girl! Geeves, just the guns then! Scientist: There is a chance that the Explorers Club might beat us to it. Though their scientist was at University with me, he can barely read ancient Cuneiform let alone a map.

This is a game about big adventure. Frankly I get excited every time I open the pages.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leagues of Adventure - Core Rules
Publisher: Triple Ace Games
by Blake C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/14/2012 11:57:31

Leagues of Adventures is a very rule-light, story-driven game. While there are some limitations to the system, overall it's very fun to run campaigns in this. Depsite it's simple approach, it is still able to handle a lot of complexity.

Organisation (8/10): The book for the most part has everything laid out in order. It could use a decent index, but I used the .pdf version, and was able to search through for anything I needed. There's niice tables for the longer portions too, such as skills and feats, to use as quick references.

Character Creation (9/10): This is a point-buy system, so can be a bit overwhelming for new players, or players not used to point-buy. The learning curve is not steep, however, and most were able to create characters without assistance.You purchase your primary abilities which filter down to secondary abilities; Initiative, for instance, combine Dexterity and Intelligence. There's no rounding down, or complex maths, it's just simple addition. After abilities are determined, skills are purchased. Skills are fairly broad based, each containing several more focused areas, called Specialisations. You can opt to improve the skill as a whole, or, for a reduced cost, you can purchase specialisations, which improve only that focus area. Feats are purchasable as well, and there's nothing too weird here, each feat has pre-requisites, and costs a set amount of points. Character creation can take as little as 5 minutes once the system is learned.

World Creation (5/10): While the system itself seems able to handle any genre, the setting in the book is very limited. If you want to go outside of it's boundaries for any reason, you're going to have to make house rules for things. We decided that we wanted computers to exist, and none of the skills really seemed to fit it, so we had to make a new Computer skill. Still, the setting that's provided is fairly well fleshed out.

Gameplay (8/10): Both I and my players enjoyed trying this setting out. There are very few interruptions in play to need to look something up (these normally happened in combat when they happened at all), which is a real relief after having played things like DnD (3.5, PF and 4e) which are overly pedantic in their rules at times. Success or failure depends on rolling successes. Unlike other games though, any type of die may be used. Even numbers are successes; odd numbers are failures. This makes for easy check resolution and, let's face it, everyone likes rolling a lot of dice sometimes. Thankfully though, you don't have to actually tally up the result, just check for evens and odds. In a rather welcome and unexpected addition, the system has what it terms chance dice. These give the players an ability to possibly accomplish things that they could not normally do. If a player had to make, for example, a climbing check, with a difficulty of 5 (needing 5 successes), and his rank was only 3, he normally would not be able to make the check (rolling 5 successes on 3 dice is slightly problematic). However, using chance dice, he has the possibility of success. A player may add two dice to his pool at the expense of the difficulty going up by one, and he may use a maximum of 10 extra dice. Therefore, in the example, the player could roll up to 13 dice, and the difficulty would rise to 10. The odds are still against him, but now it's possible.

Art (7/10): I generally don't care about art when I'm judging a system, but since I'm reviewing the book, I'll include it. The art fits the setting, and while it's a bit amateurish in places, it doesn't detract from the book at all. It is true steampunk art, and not as you see in many places, drawn by people who have no real idea what steampunk is other than Victorian.

Overall (8/10): While it's clear that the book is done at a smaller publisher, and the polish isn't quite all there, it's a solid game, a good system, and I'll definately be keeping my eye open for more Ubiquity books.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Leagues of Adventure - Core Rules
Publisher: Triple Ace Games
by Robert O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/08/2012 01:04:09

Leagues of Adventure takes players into world of amazing adventures in quasi historic world of XIX / XX century. It mixes themes of Verne and May, Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes, Haggard and Lovecraft, steampunk and western, horror and pulp...

This game has a very bog chance to become best new RPG of 2012.

Is a must!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leagues of Adventure - Core Rules
Publisher: Triple Ace Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2012 12:17:00

I really do like the Ubiquity RPG system. I think it accomplishes much of what Savage Worlds can accomplish without a lot of the system weight that get's attached. Lets call Ubiquity my favorite system that I've yet to play.

Leagues of Adventure is the latest game to use the Ubiquity RPG Engine. Notice I said "game", not sourcebook. Unlike Savage Worlds, which has a core rules set and source books that feed off that, games that use the Ubiquity system are just that - stand alone games.

That can be both good and bad. It's great if you want to pick up a single set of rules and run with it all in one package. Not so great if you are getting the same core rules restated for each genre that you pick up. It is, admittedly, a small quibble, as the Ubiquity core rules are much lighter than those that constitute Savage Worlds.

Leagues of Adventures covers the late Victorian Age. It is not an era I have much experience with, either in fiction or gaming - Sherlock Holmes is about as close as I usually come. Thankfully, LoA comes with extensive write ups of time lines, important historical personalities and world leaders that enable even a Victorian Novice like myself enough pieces to drop in front of the players to make it sound legit. Very well done and extremely well researched. I enjoyed this section as both a gamer and a former history major ;)

Of course, as fun as the historical Victorian is, Leagues of Adventure takes things just a little bit further:

In Leagues of Adventure the boundaries of science are being pushed far beyond their historical limits. While hardly commonplace, mole machines, airships, and even time-traveling machines do exist. Some are already in the hands of governments and Leagues, while others remain the personal property of their slightly mad inventors.

Therein lies the hook of LoA - it's Jules Verne and than some. Our history and just a tad more. Victorian with pulp. I like it.

Would I run this before Hollow Earth Expedition? I don't know? I'm definitely more grounded personally in the Pulp Era of the 30's, but League of Adventures certainly gives the tools to allow one to bridge the gap.

Did I mention the extensive bookmarking of the PDF? Very well done.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Leagues of Adventure - Core Rules
Publisher: Triple Ace Games
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/21/2012 19:58:40

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.

This is an excerpt from the full review on my blog. If you'd like to read the entire review, kindly visit:

http://philgamer.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/review-leagues-of-adventure-core-rules-by-triple-ace-games/

Thanks!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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