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Primeval RPG Core Rulebook

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Primeval RPG Core Rulebook
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Primeval RPG Core Rulebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/19/2012 14:21:05

Primeval is a new licensed setting from Cubicle 7 Entertainment that uses the same engine as their Doctor Who line of games. For those unclear about the television show, it centers around a group of people who investigate anomalies, which are rips that permit treacherous travel between points in time. The primary focus for the setting are anomalies that stretch back to prehistoric times, as they are the most common. The rips actually can go to anywhen though, opening up quite a bit of sandbox for a game, which is really what this review is about.

The look of the PDF is outstanding, but I offer one caveat: ensure your computer can load heavy graphics quickly. I read the PDF on two different units, a 20+ inch desktop and a 14 inch laptop. The desktop demonstrated how awesome the book looked; the laptop was an exercise in frustration. This isn’t a complaint against the excellent layout of the game, just a head’s up (the laptop is a 2011 model, not an antique). The fonts, layout, and graphics of the book prove excellent throughout. The table of contents is loaded with hyperlinks, taking a GM right to a rule or stat. Stills from the television show make up the “artwork” of the book, which is commonplace for the vast amount of licensed material in the RPG market.

My thoughts about the system hasn’t changed much since the Doctor Who release. The engine used is very similar to Unisystem’s Cinematic line. With this game, you typically combine an Attribute + Skill + 2D6 to earn a result (higher is better). If you’re not thrilled with the outcome, use Story Points. Unisystem’s changes out a D10 for the 2D6 and Drama Points for Story Points. Another key difference between the mechanics (and one I like only if I have the chart printed out before me) is the range of successes and failures. It looks like this:

  • No, and: Not only has your character failed, an additional misfortune compounds the problem.
  • No: You fail.
  • No, but: You fail, but something mildly advantageous also occurs.
  • Yes, but: You succeed, but something mildly off-setting occurs.
  • Yes: You succeed.
  • Yes, and: You rock out and something even better occurs.

The book also delves into the importance of building successful groups. It’s a valid point addressed too rarely in games. Building a terrific character is great stuff, but what if everyone makes the same damn cookie cutter hero? Problems. The rules suggest open character creation with the goal of generating a functioning team. After all, you can’t storm a dungeon with nothing but dwarves.

As source material for the show, the book appears to do very well. I felt like I watched the first three seasons of the tv show after reading the book. Being a licensed product, the daunting place for getting gamers involved is having gamers who are fans of the show.

Or is it?

By coming to this material knowing next to nothing about the source, I took it as a time travel game along the lines of Tony Lee’s under-appreciated Odyssey Prime. The government is aware that something is wrong with time (dimensional travel in OP) and has the first reaction of hiding it. Who doesn’t want to play something like that? I would come at this material blissfully ignorant of the show and tell my own stories about anachronisms popping up in modern times. It can take players anywhere.

Also, why not bring characters from Doctor Who right into this setting? The system is 99% identical. What causes the anomalies: the TARDIS. Every time the Doctor has popped up somewhere it has weakened the very fabric of time and space. For whatever reason, Earth is the unlucky recipient of the majority of these anomalies. While the rules do not talk about jumping dimensions, it does suggest that the future is mutable.

This is a campaign of gaming without even knowing the source material.

And that is exactly what I want in a licensed RPG and what I think kills the unsuccessful ones.

A huge part of the book deals with the differences between various points of prehistoric time. I like the way the author broke down these periods, including such atmospheric changes as air content and vegetation. The glimpse at the possibly future is likewise eerie, but a good read. It also gives hints to what creatures might come through each era, giving a way of “showing not telling” players what was coming their way. If they happen upon a certain creature mucking around the local woods, they have the tools to deduce its identity and home time period built right into the rules. The rules do suggest using a little bit of fictional license with real-world creations, making a leaf eater a meat eater, for example.

Overall, this game has a tremendous amount of potential. Used for fans of the show, it appears more than able to imitate the series. The cool thing is how it can easily surpass that, which is what I aim to do when I play this one. My scores for this excellent game are:

Artwork/Layout: 5 out of 5 Dice (gorgeous) Writing: 5 out of 5 Dice (Good setting, despite being borrowed/clean, clear writing) Overall: 5 out of 5 Dice (Very entertaining)

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Primeval RPG Core Rulebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/21/2012 19:14:57

There is a lot to like in this book - not least it's near 100% compatibility with the Doctor Who game. It's easy on the eye, fun to read and provides a time-hopping premise that is, if anything, more suited to roleplaying than it's sister game due to it's provision of the ARC organisation for PCs to be part of. The selection and descriptions of evolutionary eras, and the creatures that goes along with them is the major highlight for me - but the whole game is pretty slick and professional. My only disappointment was that they've gone overboard in the use of bookmarks to the point that there are multiple entrees on pages in too many cases. As such, it's pretty hard to navigate as a pdf.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Primeval RPG Core Rulebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/09/2012 15:45:27

There is an absolute ton to like about this game. First, things first, yes. It is the same system as C7's fantastic Doctor Who game. That end and of itself is enough to merit it a good review. The system is simple and gets out of the way to allow you to just play the game they way you like. Secondly let's talk about the art and layout. Plenty of stills from the series, but the layout is still top notch and the text is easy to read.

So what is Primeval? Well if you have not watched the series in England (or on BBC America here State-side) then you are missing out on some fun. Basic premise: Anomalies in Time are opening up allowing all sorts of creatures from the past and the future to walk through, whether it is a Dodo or gigangantic Giga-Rex. The team at the Anomaly Research Center have to deal with it. Which means of course now YOU have to deal with it. Of course maybe your cast is not with the ARC, instead you could be independent. Frankly I can't wait to run a game with an investigate news team seeking out anomalies to get them on the news or net.

Like many games, you have basic Attributes. In this case six of them that are ranked 1 to 6. These are all point buys, so choose wisely. You also have skills, whit general skills and areas of expertise. You could be great with Technology, but your specialty is Computer Hacking or Surveillance Systems. These are also ranked 1 to 6.

The basic rule is Attribute Skill 2d6 vs. some Target number. Simple as it can get really.

You also have various Good and Bad traits that can be bought. Sometimes these add to your roll, but could subtract from others. These help define who you are.

You character is then topped off with Story Points, which can be used in play.

After all the character creation rules we get a nice bit on Group Creation where you can also buy some Group Traits.

This is followed by the official cast stats including the human adversaries. We also get some tips on playing ARC-related games. This is followed by something completely different and we given tips on how to play a "Dinosaur Hunter" style game. So two campaign models for the price of one.

We get into the basic rules section, including combat and chases. You spend a lot of time running away from things in Primeval. There is a nice overview of gadgets and equipment.

Next up descriptions of the various epochs of time.
And the Monsters. The Monsters of course are the real treat of this book. Plenty of examples are given and advice on how to create your own beastie from the past, or future.

A Gamemastering section is included on how to run the games. Followed by chapters on Adventures and Conspiracies.

A look into the Future is up next. Primeval tends to focus mostly on Dinos, I think because Dinosaurs are cool. But the creatures from the future are also very interesting.

Primeval is a fantastic game that should give a creative GM many, many sessions of adventure. While there is certain emphasis on dinos coming in from the anomalies, there is no reason to limit it to that. What about Neanderthals? or worse a victim of the Black Plague wanders into modern London? The possibilities are endless really.

Now of course I have to mention that the game is compatible with Doctor Who. It opens up an exponentially growing amount of stories when the two games are combined. The game becomes worth it for the dinos alone for Doctor Who, or the creatures in Who for Primeval. Honestly there is no way to go wrong here.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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