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Front Lines of Choice $7.99 $5.33
Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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Front Lines of Choice
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Front Lines of Choice
Publisher: Skortched Urf' Studios
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/27/2013 22:13:44

So here's a puzzle for an RPG supplement reviewer. How do you go about talking about a game supplement that's so far out there that there's nothing really to compare it to? Gonna do my best with this one, in part because it's such lunacy that it really does deserve a closer look.

Front Lines of Choice is by the same author who wrote Choice & Blood, which I gave 3 stars to, because it had the very basics of some really interesting "organization-scale" roleplaying opportunities in d20 Modern, but was a bit of a jumble mechanically and wasn't well-put-together.

Front Lines of Choice, by contrast, takes the same concept - an abortion clinic - and updates it for the Otherverse, a 22nd century science fiction world where the issue of abortion has literally torn the world in two. A religious war between "Lifers" and "Choicers" rages, and these citadels, which are far more than just abortion clinics, have become crucial parts of it. They also serve as pagan temples, defensive military outposts and cultural icons for local communities.

The psychedelic Otherverse at first struck me as a somewhat clumsy attempt to stir up controversy with its central conceit of sexual license versus conservative religosity, but as I went deeper into the highly detailed setting, I started to appreciate it more and more. Science fiction has often translated modern day conflicts into fantastic setting elements in order to expand and explicate them, and the detail and care that has gone into the Otherverse is exceptional. I was finally hooked for good when I got to the section of Front Lines of Choice in which various character archetypes were given a choice of 20 one-paragraph background story outlines to explain how they came to join this particular faction and have their particular role. This is a setting that treats its characters and their motivations as real, at least within the bizarre milieu they find themselves in. You may very well need to get some other Otherverse supplements to get all of the jargon (and I certainly will be looking back at those now that I have a better grasp of the setting), but even without a full understanding you'll find Front Lines of Choice intriguing if you want to see a social conflict unfold in the concrete way that only science fiction (well, and superheroes) can do.

Everything I said was a weakness in Choice & Blood has been expanded into a strength. There are rules for setting up the strength and health of an organization, and a random event table to provide hooks for characters who are invested in it. Characters also get benefits from the organization, in the form of wealth, equipment and skill bonuses. Mechanically, the feats and talent trees are a lot better thought out. Some, like the feat that makes you really good at spotting concealed weapons (important for clinic defenders) seem like a natural fit for any sort of setting, but it stood out to me as an example of something mechanical that brought the Otherverse to life.

If there was one way I would improve this, it would be to make a version that was friendlier for the printer - especially the feat, equipment and motivation sections that would be most useful for players to have copies of while making characters or discussing characters.

So yeah, if you are not interested at all in the subject material, or you think your group would consider it too exploitative, or ugly, or divisive, give it a pass. But for what it is - a supplement about a futuristic science fiction organization based around being an abortion clinic in a world where that's the battle that everyone's fighting...well, how can I even assess it? It's absolutely one of a kind.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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