Now this is more like it, Skortched Urf Studios. Thank you. Seriously, Chris A. Field, Mark Cathro, and company should create more fun, well-conceived, and well-presented sub-campaigns like this and less sloppily packaged grand-scale campaigns like Psi-Watch. Seriously, I bought Sentai Spectacular here a mere day after its initial release, and even after a single read-through, I found myself anxious to start up a gaming session centered around the rules presented here—something I haven’t been able to do with any campaign created by Skortched Urf that I’ve bought, save for Galaxy Command and maybe Department 7. Granted, even Sentai Spectacular has a few things about it that I can criticize, but on the whole, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen in this product.
For one thing, I like the idea of the Sentai Spectrum Ranger advanced class from December 2006 for the Department 7 setting converted into a base class that, to be honest, could use some tweaking, such as gaining 5+Int skill points per class level as per the original SSR advanced class as opposed to the proposed 3+Int skill points per level. Regardless, the class is still pretty well-balanced in comparison to the Powered Hero base class from Psi-Watch and Otherverse America v-1, particularly with so many unique, differentiated, and practical talent trees to choose from. I also like how a certain created Sentai Hero’s uniform color decides his/her role in the task force and consequently the talent trees, bonus class skills, bonus feats, and signature weapons and gadgets he/she either receives or may possess. However, it disappoints me greatly that certain Sentai Hero uniform colors either have had their roles altered from the original Sentai Spectrum Ranger supplement—which may actually be for the better rather than for worse, depending on how the GM or gamer sees things—or aren’t even presented at all. For example, D7: SSR describes Pink Sentai Rangers as being the “compassionate and sexy healers” of their task forces and Black Sentai Rangers being “expert death dealers” (i.e., the assassins of their task squadron) and giving them thematically fitting bonus feats and class skills on account of said roles while Sentai Spectacular assigns each color as being the ranged combat specialists and frontline fighters, respectively, for their team and gives them bonus feats and class skills based on these new roles. Also, the exclusion of possible Violet, Orange, Brown, and Gold Sentai Heroes is a big letdown in my book. After all, if they were recognized in D7: SSR, why not recognize them here, seeing as this is your primary Sentai adventure sourcebook?
Also included in Sentai Spectacular are rules explaining the nature of Mecha-Kaiju—the giant fighting machines that Power Rangers fans know as “Megazords.” According to these rules, which materialize underneath the Mecha-Kaiju talent tree and the three subsequent red boxes of supplementary text following it (pages 12, 14, 1nd 19), Mecha-Kaiju are more like extensions of the Sentai Heroes who pilot them rather than full-fledged mechs themselves, hence the simplicity of the rules that describe them and their utilization in the campaign. It’s too bad that Chris chose to avoid the whole theme of five regular Mecha-Kaiji fusing together to create a single giant robot to take on enemy Kaiju, however, even though the explanation he gives on page 19 does make perfect sense, regardless of whatever loophole gamers can discover or devise to work around the idea of lone hero controlling the action. In addition is a short and sweet section of rules on page 25 pertaining to Sentai cybernetics in conjunction to the Sentai Bio-Cyborg feat as well as a section of rules on page 26 dedicated to Sentai Sorcery in conjunction to the feat of the same name. Other things I liked about this book are the Lunar PC race, which is one of the most thematically original and intriguing PC races I’ve seen in any Skortched Urf product and comes complete with its own racial feats and starting occupations; rules for playing child Sentai Heroes, both age-shifting and unnaturally aged; a rather extensive list and table selection describing Sentai-themed weapons, armor, vehicles (minus, of course, Mecha-Kaiju), and gadgets; and even the rules discussing Sentai Code, Sentai mentors and patrons, and even Sentai Hero diversity and Mecha-Kaiju/enemy monster names. Finally, as with most other Skortched Urf products, there are notes laden here, there, and everywhere—primarily on page 2, right smack dab after the cover page—describing how other Skortched Urf products could come into play to spice up a GM’s Sentai campaign, such as the talent trees from Tactical Upgrade 2107, the Wiccae class initially meant for the Otherverse America setting, or the Synthetic Heroes rulebook for creating a robot major domo a la Alpha-5 from Power Rangers. Of course, I’d definitely recommend the Department 7: Sentai Spectrum Ranger any day of the week for the sake of understanding and appreciating the overall nature of this campaign. Oh, and then there’s the artwork, which—though it’s usually a mixed bag in most Skortched Urf products, particularly those of the Otherverse Games line—is actually quite good on the whole here. Aside from the picture of the Violet Sentai Hero on page 9, which is the exact same picture used on the cover of the D7: SSR advanced class supplement, all of the artwork here is original, well-drawn, and fits this sourcebook’s whole Japanese comic book theme splendidly. Even the crudest of drawings can’t detract form the overall artistic merit presented here, thus elevating this book’s presentation quite a bit.
Now we get to the things that I think could have been corrected in this sourcebook, which aren’t too many at all, thankfully, but still could have been touched up on. For instance, aside from the aforementioned lack of skill points per level for the Sentai Hero base class and exclusion of the Violet, Orange, Brown, and Gold Sentai Hero types originally introduced in Department 7: Sentai Spectrum Ranger, there is the one thing that bugs me about Chris A. Field’s work, and that is his written grammar. Call me a “grammar Nazi” all you want, but just like so many other RPG supplements I’ve read from him, he has an issue of not correcting his grammatical errors, and as such, his work is frequently peppered with absent punctuation, repeated words, and misspellings, all of which hurt his work by detracting from their professionalism. In the case of Senate Spectacular, such examples include the first paragraph describing the “Lunar Princess Talent Tree” (“Fabulous crystal palaces hidden on the far side of Earth’s moon are home to an ancient and ancient race of humanity.”), the description of the Senate Ninja Suit (“Most Ninja Suits include a long and flowing scarf or short cloak, that their wearer uses to distract enemies.”), the paragraph discussing the Senate Heroes’ possible HQ servant (“If the players want to blast the little freak to atoms (but can’t because that wouldn’t be in character for true Senate Heroes), you’ve done your job”), and the first paragraph under the heading “Minions Take Many Forms” in the final chapter (“After a few episodes of a Senate show, the heroes are all old hands at taking down the villain’s thugs- your players should be equally proficient.”).Note that each of these entries has been reprinted here in this review as-is for the sake of proving this point. Another annoyance is the stretching of certain tables, most notably those on pages 36 and 37, which thus makes the text within these tables that much more difficult to read. Likewise, this is more of a nitpick than anything else, but the final chapter in this sourcebook—which describes the monsters used in Senate settings—could have used some examples of the kinds of Senate Minions (Think “Putty Patrollers.”) the Senate Heroes are guaranteed to come across. Granted, the Senate Minion template provided is clue enough for any GM worth his salt to design the prototypical Senate Minion for his villain(s), but for the sake of consistency, seeing as Chris has already provided four samples of Kailua at the very end of this chapter, the least he could have done was provide at least one example of a Senate Minion built upon, say, one of the sample PC races provided in some of his earlier Other verse Games supplements (i.e., the Clovers from Cruel Evolution or the Living Dolls, Daughters of Stone, Crow Folk, Mountain Ghost, and even Mustard Men and R-Raiders from D20 Decade: The 1980s) to illustrate how the template works. The same could have been done for this chapter’s Kailua template as well, as such is the way most other d20 3.5, d20 Modern, and Pathfinder supplements operate whenever they feature a creature template to be used in whatever campaign they’re designed for.
Overall, though, I can’t complain. Senate Spectacular is one heck of a sourcebook and is chock full of content that would make for the perfect Senate campaign, Power Rangers or otherwise. This is coming from a guy who has collected nearly all of the Other verse Games settings that Scorched Urfa Studios has presented, from Psi-Watch, Department 7, and Otherverse America v-1 to Cruel Evolution and D20 Decade: The 1980s and even Black Tokyo, so I’m very well familiar with the kind of material that this publisher is capable of producing. However, none of those campaigns, regardless of how good or bad they may have been in my eyes, have inspired me in the same sense as this one has. Even with its flaws intact, Sentai Spectacular has proven its value to me in one solitary reading and has convinced me of good a job Chris Field can do when he has his head on straight. Such is why I’m rating this book as high as I am because in all due honesty, if I wasn’t this impressed, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to write this review in the first place.
[5 of 5 Stars!]