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Smallville Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/09/2011 06:46:08

It is incredibly rare to see what can honestly be described as unique. Really a lot of RPGs on the market are simply twists on a common theme and the rules sets aren't revolutionary. Enter 'Smallville'. Smallville's genius lies in a number of elements that I have not seen replicated in other systems. Firstly, there is the collaborative nature of character creation. I've always argued that this step of getting a group together should be done -as a group- and 'Smallville' makes it mandatory. The reason for this is the second point of brilliance - the whole game is hinged on relationships, and it makes perfect sense. In the DC Universe, relationships make the stories more engaging, and importantly they make superheroes more human. The way in which all of these heroes relate to the people around them builds drama, creates plot and drives character development. 'Smallville' give you the tools to make the way a character relates to their own group, and the wider world actually matter.

Want to take on Superman in his Fortress of Solitude? Fine, but he feels confident enough to have a home ground advantage, and the rules reflect this. Has Oliver Queen had an argument with Dinah? Will this play on his mind and knock off his aim in the next crucial combat? You bet. Will Clarke show mercy to Zod because he believes he can be redeemed? Definitely.

The one point I cannot over-emphasise is how good their social rules truly are. The character creation builds on the relationships with other team members (and a slightly larger cast too) and is extremely open-ended. The players imaginations fill in the 'white space' that the rules-set calls for, and the game mechanics give the players the opportunity to let their creativity really kick in. However, as this is intrinsically group-based, you will need to invest at least one evening of play into the character creation process. It cannot be rushed if you expect this game to pay dividends.

If your group likes team play they need to give this game a go. Make everyone read through the main rulebook, as it contains lots of good advice about playing as a team. It is one of the few books that I've seen that gives explicit advice on how to be a team player and how to give the spotlight to other people in your group. Furthermore, it gives advice on supporting the success of other players - something I've not seen before.

The last point that you need to consider is that the game supports multi-power-level play. It can accommodate Jimmy Olsen, Lois, Green Arrow and Superman in a single party - each person has skills and advantages which are unique and the relationships forged by all the characters give them all a reason to be and something positive to contribute.

Bottom line - this is an exciting game with plenty of creative opportunities. Even if you aren't a fan of the show, or of the DC Universe, pick this book up just based on how good the system is.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Smallville Roleplaying Game
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