DriveThruRPG.com
Browse Categories
 Publisher Info











Back
Mechanical Dream: Mechanical Book $40.00 $30.00
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
0 1
0 1
0 0
0 0
0 0
Mechanical Dream: Mechanical Book
Click to view
Mechanical Dream: Mechanical Book
Publisher: SteamLogic
by Conan M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2013 14:23:25

Innovation – it’s one of those holy grails that nearly every game designer strives for. Something that gamers often look for in a new game that promises that ”this one is different from all the others…” Now the last few months have seen quite a few games released that have gunned for the moniker of innovative – but few have even come close to Mechanical Dream. This game will change the way you view setting and system design. Appearance wise, Mechanical Dream is gorgeous. The book has two covers – one side of the book is the Dream Aspect – setting material. This contains a beautifully illustrated colour section that covers the ten primary races within the game. Flip the book over and you’ll find another cover. This is the Mechanical Aspect – which details the game’s rules as well as provides some clarification of certain elements mentioned on the Dream side.

MD’s artwork is simply the best I have ever seen in a roleplaying supplement. Unfortunately there are some moments where the print has caused the image to be too dark – but I suspect that future products will take care of this problem. The artwork remains evocative and consistent throughout the book and really helps you get a grasp on what this game’s world is truly like.

The System

Mechanical Dream manages to create a vivid and truly original world – filled with adventure; political intrigue and plenty of plot hooks. Characters can be what are known as Echoes – the settings “hero-types” who are pretty toned down next to Exalted or AGONE’s equilvalents, at least initially – and character creation manages to be a refreshing mix of point expenditure and random attribute generation. Essentially, characters spend points on deciding what dice rolling method they desire to generate their stats. Combat is fast and brutal – drawing upon several game systems to create a unique and exciting system of its own. Essentially all characters have a Combat Dice Pool. This dictates the maximum number of dice that a character can roll within one combat round. Players then allocate these points into certain skills – up to their maximum CP before they roll initiative. It sounds complicated, but in practice my players found it to work like a charm and it took next to no time to learn the various intricacies of the rules. Given that at the cost of one “CP” a character can change an action after initiative has been rolled, this system makes combat a lot more tactical and intelligent. Yet it manages to remain faster than an average d20 combat session – which is quite an achievement.

This degree of flexibility seems to be the key theme to the game’s systems. Most rules are based around a simple “defeat the difficulty” rule – yet it has a particularly wide scope at the same time. Attributes will dictate which die-type the PC rolls (d4, d6, d8, d10 or d12) and then the skill is used to decide how many dice to roll. There are some fantastic mental state rules – if a character takes a particularly vicious hit during combat there is a chance that they will also be mentally damaged as well, which can sometimes require the aid of a psychologist to heal and in other cases may never heal!

Too perfect to be true?

There is a downside to all of this. The translation and errata. Although Mechanical Dream is written in English, it is clear that this is the author’s second language. The book is peppered with spelling mistakes and odd sentence structures that cause you to re-read them time and again. Oddly – this isn’t as much of a hindrance as it may seem. Most of the time it’s just amusing to spot these. They certainly don’t detract from the enjoyment of the book – and never are they so bad as to be unintelligible. If there is one true gripe I have with this game – it’s the number of rules contradictions. Given that this is the very first edition and publication, I can be somewhat lenient. The rules are not impossible to understand – most of it is there, just not always in the best place for ease of reference. An index would have benefited this book as well as a glossary in the center. Some of the rules appear to have been re-written as the book was being prepared and so there are cases where a rule is mentioned, but then shown to be redundant by the end of the book. Again, these are very rare – but could have afforded with not being there.

Summary

BUY MECHANICAL DREAM!!! To put it simply, no roleplayer should go without having at least perused this book. Very few products have caused me to want to drop everything I’m doing to run a game, but this one did. Despite the editorial gaffs – which I have been informed are being fixed now – this is just the most innovative, original, exciting and evocative game on the market. It flies in the face of the GNS argument by succeeding to be all three at once – the rules are realistic, flexible and involving while never once hindering the narrative flow of a game. The setting is pure genius with the promise of a metaplot that doesn’t sideline the players nor does it control them – being completely within the background of the setting it helps to give the game a narrative landscape for the players to explore at their leisure. At a time where many roleplaying publishing houses are being too scared to try anything new, Steamlogic has shown true bravery by making this their first project and I’d have to say that they have succeeded. No roleplayer should be without this one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mechanical Dream: Mechanical Book
Publisher: SteamLogic
by Luke W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2013 14:11:40

PART 2 of RPG.net review, originally posted on RPG.net here: http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/reviews/rev_6172.html

MECHANICAL BOOK

Walker’s Walk – Walker’s Walk is a story about a Gnath Walker. The story serves the purpose of presenting many elements of the setting in a dynamic way. This reinforcement of the Dream side setting material helps fill out the setting. The story is not particularly strong but the purpose is a guided tour of the setting. It helps the setting really come alive.

Rules – The rule system is relatively simple. It is similar to Silhouette in its mechanic i.e. roll x dice and take the highest but uses variable dice e.g. d4-d12s. Attribute governs the size of the dice and the range of possible results. Skill represents the number of dice and so the consistency of an action. Finally masteries can be obtained that will add to the result reducing the chance of botching and increasing the range of possibilities.

The rules are strong and even heavy at times, which may come as a surprise to those that would expect a rules lite system from a game focussed on setting. The lethality and realism of the rule set helps convey this fantasy setting as “Dark” and “Industrial”.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above the elegance of the rules is sometimes lost in out of sequence rules, imprecise writing and a very few errors. Nothing that is insurmountable but novice RPGers may have some difficulty with understanding the entire rules initially.

Combat – Combat is involved but not necessarily complex. At first glance it looks like it will havelogistical problems. Using multiple d8s and d12s could present a problem but in reality most people will be using no more than 4 dice at a time.

The system uses a combat pool to good effect to provide lots of flexibility and character in combat without much extra complexity. The combat pool represents combat experience over pure skill, by being the maximum number of dice that a person can use each turn. For example a great theoretical tactician would have a low combat pool but high tactics skill. In a relaxed situation they could use their full skill but in combat they would be struggling to concentrate. There are also recommendations on how to graphically deal with combat pool that were useful. It may need a few playtests, but the combat seems solid and fun.

The combat system is deadly and is about the level of Blue Planet v2 in many ways. Not only do guns kill but also the MD setting presents a variety of even nastier weapons to select from.

Mind – The Mind section deals withpsychology, insanity and fear. The Mind is a large component in MD from propaganda to psychosis. It also presents the idea of Mindscapes which presents a whole new range of role-playing possibilities not found in most other RPGs. Mind walkers are able to enter into people’s minds and actively interact with it, be looking through their Library of Memories or fighting the person’s paranoia represented as nasty critters. Fans of the movie The Cell will enjoy the potential role-playing opportunities presented by this section.

Eflow, Patterns and Reality – The Pattern and Reality section was probably the biggest unexpected gem in the book (besides the Mind section) and was very thought provoking. Together they raise questions as the nature of reality, weaving that in with setting aspects like the Dream and the Core’s philosophy. One is left thinking that reality is defined by those that perceive it and so is established through patterns and relationships. Someone who is better known that someone one else is in a sense more real as they exist in more people’s minds. The full extent of this is not fully explored in this book but there are tantalising promises that the possibilities will be explored with later supplements. Even with just this book though this section opens a whole range of new possibilities that combined with the Mind section really blew me away.

Character Creation – This chapter is the biggest in the book. It breaks down the character creation process into a number of sections. Choose race, attributes, job/skills, Echo vocation, edges and flaws and equipment. Each section has lots of flexibility. At the end of each section unused points become freebie points. The idea is to deal with maintain enormous variety of power level but achieve some form of balance, even if they can’t exactly be equated. For example some races are more powerful than others are.

I like the use of prescribed skill packages by job similar to Blue Planet v2. I also liked how there was the option to build your own skill groups . The jobs are numerous, varied and do a good job of conveying the bizarre setting like the tinkering Slum Assemblers or the hardy Airjacks. Each has their own picture, description and has about 6 grades to represent levels of expertise.

The equipment section, like the job section, is a fascinating read. It is peppered with pictures of bizarre and innovative equipment ideas. From sniper rifles made from wood to look like staves to tanks to weird and interesting drugs. The equipment list was full (including everyday items and accommodation).

Absolute Judge – This section covered how to present the Dream, geography, flora, fauna and creatures of the setting as well as providing the obligatory GM advice. Again this section was a fascinating read, extremely comprehensive and does well to immerse you into the setting. The Dream opens up enormous possibility to the game as the very fabric of reality becomes malleable. Each piece of flora, fauna or geography was new, exciting and unique. This section really shows the level of thought that has gone into the details of the setting as well as the setting as a whole. The GM advice that only occupied a few pages had some useful advice but on the whole did not present any new ideas.

Final Chapter – This section covered two areas. The first was a complete list of First Sphere Echo Gifts. Each Echo (of which there are ten) has 3 Gifts and each of these has 4 Powers. The Gifts are on the whole well done, though I haven’t had chance to see if there are balanced in play. In many ways this did seem like a White Wolf discipline list. However the basis for many powers were new and each had a small in character paragraph that helps the Powers be evocative. More importantly, Mechanical Dream is designed to work as a setting for the normal people first and Echoes can be used to whatever level the GM requires. I must note that the higher Sphere Gifts will only be available in later supplements. This is slightly annoying but the game works well without them as Echoes are necessary to the setting. The GM’s companion, which is out next, will contain all second Sphere Gifts and these two Spheres will cover 95% of all Echoes.

The second area is expanded and spotlighted rule elements for various races and Echoes. Rules on building personalised Judicator’s blade and Yaki armour, the laws and sentences that can be passed by a Judge and detailed creation rules for the hideous Aran dweller that resides in every Zin. These do feel as if they have been tagged on the end of the book but the ideas in them more than make up for this. It is good to see that these particular elements are given full treatment and not condensed.

CONCLUSION

MD is the most RPG impressive book I have seen. The setting and presentation alone are worth the very reasonable price for this book. My only advice is that the rules may need to be read through a more than once. Even though MD is not perfect (what RPG is?), MD excels and more than achieves what it sets out to do. I wouldn’t hesitate to it “Excellent” 5 for Style and 5 for Substance.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Displaying 1 to 2 (of 2 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates