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Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
 
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Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
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Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Daniel M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/29/2012 01:13:34

Apocalypse Prevention Inc

What is it?

Apocalypse Prevention Inc, or API, bills itself as an action-horror RPG with a dash of humour. It's a small press affair from Third Eye Games and looks pretty slick. The PDF is in black and white and a little sparse in the art department, but the overall layout is nice.

Players take on the roles of agents working for the titular organization, a kind of privatized version of the Men in Black. These agents spend their days policing the supernatural world. They greet travelers from other dimensions, solve supernatural crimes and deal with dangerous entities. Apocalypse Prevention Inc has access to technology above the modern level, as do demons and other outsiders. This means that future-tech like cybernetics are relatively common place in the game, which at time doesn't mesh well with the intended horror elements. (It comes across a little campy.) That said, cybernetics and future tech are fun, so you won't hear any further complaint from me.

How does it work?

The game begins with players creating their characters. API use a point-buy style system that has players selecting a race and then buying attributes, skills and gifts. There are a good number of races to choose from, everything from fire demons to changelings, but the game makes it clear in the lore that most of the time players should be creating human characters. This feels like a mixed message to me; you don't say that the majority of the organization is filled with humans and then dangle a half dozen alternative choices in front of the players. It doesn't help that there are rules for creating a random demonic race for players to use (Not that I'm complaining, I love random tables.) This all ties back into my feeling that the game doesn't quite match the tone that the author was going for.

Attributes and Skills are exactly what they sound like and there isn't much to say other than there are enough of them to make characters feel diverse, but not so many that they lose their importance. Gifts are where things get interesting. These cover everything from magical ability to cybernetic implants and they are where most players are going to spend the most time agonizing over choices.

One place where the character creation in API veers off from the traditional path is with something called Passions. These passions are an aspect of the character's personality and life that drives them and they are used as an experience mechanic throughout the game. If a player plays their character according to their listed Passion then they earn experience. It's a good mechanic for encouraging players to take on a more active role and it's one that has become relatively common, in one for or another, since API was published four years ago.

The actual game mechanics are really straightforward: roll 1d20 and add relevant attribute and skill. There is an separate combat section which covers things like teamwork and special maneuvers and this is important in a game where players primarily spend their time hunting down demonic creatures. The system reads and plays very much like a lighter version of d20, something closer to Savage Worlds in crunch, maybe a little crunchier. It's a good, simple system and those familiar with d20 and similar systems will catch on very quickly. The game isn't trying to do anything special with the system and, frankly, it doesn't need to.

Final Thoughts

Apocalypse Prevention Inc does what it sets out to do. It provides a great framework for players interested in playing enhanced agents that hunt monsters and any GM that picks up this book is provided with everything they need to start that campaign with minimal effort and planning. The system that runs the game will be familiar to anyone that has played a traditional tabletop rpg and should be easy to pick up for those that haven't, but it doesn't do much that is new or interesting.

The strength of API really lies in the engaging setting that frames the rules. It's fun and should instantly appeal to anyone that loves a good old fashioned monster hunt. It is Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer and if that idea grabs you then you will like API. If it doesn't then you aren't going to find much that will hold your attention in this game.

If DriveThruRPG allowed 1/2 stars then I would rate 3.5, but since they do not I will set this at 3.

-Copied from my blog (impossibleboulder.blogspot.ca/2012/06/apocalypse-prevention-inc.html)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/17/2012 20:23:00

Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. is a modern fantasy horror setting powered by an action-oriented system designed for interactive combat encounters and flexibility in character creation. It takes place in an alternate version of Earth where a company, called Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. (API), has been thwarting major disasters for centuries, keeping the world safe from that which aims to destroy or enslave it. API uses diplomacy first and combat second, resulting in a world where non-humans (colloquially referred to as demons) live side-by-side with humans. These demons find employment within API to fight against the malevolent demons that wish humanity harm.

API uses a rollover d20 system by utilizing the appropriate attribute and skill combination as a modifier to your d20 roll against a known target number (using the chart for difficulty). Each action has an associated combination dependent upon what is being performed. This dice rolling method is used throughout.

OVERALL

I definitely recommend Apocalypse Prevention, Inc for a multitude of reasons including: cinematic action (via the DGS combat system), flexible character creation and advancement, and a great approach to modern horror that puts the power in the hands of the characters to stop and destroy the horrors that threaten the world. The only thing missing is a pre-designed adventure that gives a glimpse into what the designer was aiming for in the setting’s mechanics and fluff.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. is a wonderfully produced book. Its layout and formatting is very simple and extremely effective. There is a good amount of illustrations, mostly character portraits, that look really good and fit the action feel the setting creates. I found a lot of editing mistakes, but nothing of major concern. The PDF is extensively bookmarked which makes navigation a lot easier, especially when using it for quick reference during game-play. Third Eye Games tends to pay a lot of attention to layout and formatting to produce a product that is extremely easy to read.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10 I have previously read and reviewed Wu Xing and Part-Time Gods. Wu Xing uses the same Dynamic Gaming System as Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. while Part-Time Gods uses a lite version. As-is, the Dynamic Gaming System is designed to be extremely cinematic, simulating what real hand-to-hand combat is like. This works perfectly Wu Xing but I can see it getting bogged down a bit during certain encounters in Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. I’d rather see the DGS-Lite version in Apocalypse Prevention, Inc., but that may defeat some of the “action horror” style designed into the setting. DGS fits into the cinematic action possible, but I see most encounters being less hand-to-hand and more ranged and tactical. With that said, all other mechanics for the Dynamic Gaming System fit perfectly in Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. providing a high number of options for creating the different types of agents working for API.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10 Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. is a modern action horror version of Earth with a twist of fantasy. It’s like taking the non-Godlike mythos from Cthulhu and combining it with Men In Black and throwing in some magic to boot. There aren’t very many action horror games where the characters are not creatures of gothic horror fame (such as vampires or werewolves), putting the power back into the hands of humanity and its allies to fight against the horrors that breach the inter-dimensional portals and step foot upon Earth. The setting’s theme is beautiful and comes through quite clearly within the fluff and the mechanics. But you’re not tied to playing a human, you can also choose from one of humanity’s allied “demons” (a demon is any species living on earth that is not a human) working for API hunting the malevolent beings that don’t belong. If you’re looking for modern fantasy horror with cinematic and possibly humorous action, then Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. really fits the bill!

Overall: 9 out of 10 Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. is a great system and setting, and one that feels familiar. Being placed in an alternate version of modern times allows Game Masters to produce great adventures set in real world locations they can research by simply traveling there, finding pictures, or reading a magazine. One thing I really like about the content of the publication is how the mechanics are tied to the fluff, including the background history of the legal demons. I’m not a big fan of using the term demons as there are good demons, bad demons, legal demons, and illegal demons. To me it can quickly get confusing, but it is just a term (like alien.) I am, however, a big fan of the flexibility with character creation and advancement, alleviating the need for restrictive character classes that stifle your creativity. Essentially, you can truly make an API campaign your game in many different ways.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Charles M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/08/2011 11:04:07

Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. (API) API calls itself “An action horror RPG… with a twist of humor.” Reading it reminds me of movies like Men in Black, where the action and weirdness are so over the top that you can’t really take it seriously; where the dark evil things in the universe are fought with magic, big guns, snark, and sarcasm. The PCs work for API, a business whose mission is to keep humanity safe from the things that threaten the planet – plagues, demons, aliens, etc. So rather than being a post-apocalypse game, it’s an apocalypse prevention game.

How does it play? API uses Third Eye Games' “Dynamic Gaming System (DGS). That uses a single D20 roll for all actions. Characters are created from a Concept, Passion, and Race. The attributes are assigned from a 30 point pool. The attributes are Power, Agility, Vigor, Intellect, Insight, and Charm. These more or less correspond to D20’s Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, and Cha. However, the point values are on a spread from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 10. Since die rolls are 1d20 + attribute + skill, there’s no need for higher attribute points. This actually makes sense: why use D20’s scale where attribute= table look-up for modifier when you can just add the value directly to the die roll? Well played. Skills are on a 1 to 10 scale, also. The rules list 20 standard skills and 12 combat skills. Skills specialize at specific levels. Experience points are used to buy skill points, bonus points, or attribute points instead of acting as a level-up measure. Combat is fast-paced and deadly enough that avoiding it might be a good first choice. I’d happily play or GM this game, based on the rules, examples, and plot hooks provided. 4 out of 5.

Does it have good Layout, Style and Art? The book (pdf) has a color over with black and white interior. The page layout is a two-column setup with different “blood” splatters on most pages. There are plenty of text boxes to highlight key points. The text reads well. Some of the writing could use a bit more “polish” in editing and there are a few typos, but overall it is clear and easily understood. Interior art includes anime-style sketches that fit the text well and help convey the look and feel of the world. The author provides good examples throughout the text. The book includes a thorough index.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Arkham D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/02/2011 01:01:49

Interesting take on monsters / demons in the modern / future world. Lot's of material to "flesh" out a campaign (no pun intended when it comes to the "Tark")... Some editorial issues in the rules (repetition of the same description in close poximity, etc), but overall good. Would have liked to have seen more pictures in the rules, but that's a personal preference...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Justin P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/25/2011 18:33:30

Billed as an “action horror game with a twist of humor,” Apocalypse Prevention Inc. (or API) has been described by others as what you’d get if Joss Whedon and Mike Mignola wrote Men in Black. When you open the cover, the game definitely stands up to that description - API is a global shadow organization that has protected the world from demonic forces since the time of the Black Plague. How do they do it? Through magic, cybernetics, intense training and hiring on some of the demons (meaning any non-human) that have made Earth their home... with API’s permission, of course.

Introduction

Upon opening the book you'll see a clean black and white interior which uses a two-column layout. I found this format very easy to read, even with the greyscale blood spatter in the center of each page. Greyscale art is found throughout the book and ranges from very good to mediocre. In this chapter things start off with a quick "What is Roleplaying" section (and I'm glad it was kept short) before seeing an introduction memo which welcomes a new agent to API. The book could definitely use more of this interdepartmental flavor to help build on the organizational feeling of API, but it's not a big deal.

Chapter 1 - Character Creation

A quick five-step process guides you through character creation. I had thought about building a sample character but Tommy Brownell has already done that for me. I highly suggest taking a look at his post to see a Spectral take shape.

Step one involves picking a Concept, a Passion and a Race. The Passion is something I really liked about API but also something I didn't focus enough on when I was running the game. This is what drives the PC and playing to it can earn the PC extra experience, so I may have cost my players some points here. To new GMs, I'd suggest keeping track of the PC's Passion on a notecard during play.

The Races you can choose from are a Human, Burner, Changeling, Lochs, Spectral, Taylari and Wolf People. Burners are fire demons who have fled to earth to seek refuge from a machine race that has taken over their home while Changelings are fae demons who can assume change their form. Spectrals are ghosts, Wolf People are werewolves and Taylari are "living" vampires. The Lochs are a race of large humanoid fish, which I think is pretty cool for some underwater adventures. There are also three illegal races, which means they pose a threat to earth, but I’m not going to deal too much with those at the moment.

Step two has you spending your Attribute Points in a point-buy character creation system. I found this system to be very flexible, with each of the PCs that were generated being very different from one another. You get 30 points to spend here and distribute them among Power, Agility, Vigor, Insight, Intellect and Charm with 4-5 being considered the average out of 10 possible points in each. Each stat ended up being very important during the game so keep in mind that there are no "dump stats" in API.

Skills come next, allowing you to spend another 30 points between 20 skills and 12 different possible styles. The styles were part of what made me hesitant about this game, what with all the modifiers and no difference between a bonus to strike with melee vs. ranged, but I found in play that these styles can go a long way to really defining a character in combat. In my eyes that should be the primary point behind offering different martial arts for players to choose from and API does an excellent job without getting caught up in the tiny details like other games I’ve played have.

This step is where the system comes to the forefront as well. The Dynamic Game System (or DGS) which powers API uses a 1d20+Attribute+Skill system in an attempt to beat a target number. These target numbers are 10 for a trivial task all the way up to 40 for a near impossible task. Skills and Attributes are both hard capped at 10, so that 40 truly is nearly impossible to succeed at.

Next up is destributing bonus points among Gifts (special things that help to define your character, like magical abilities), your skills or attributes. You can also take Drawbacks to give yourself more bonus points and there’s quite the list to choose from. Again, click on the link to Tommy’s blog up above and you’ll get a good idea of how a character is created.

Step five is calculating your derived stats like Health, Initiative, Movement and so on. Past this you only need to buy your equipment and you’re good to go.

Chapter 2: Combat

This chapter is the one that almost prevented me from giving API a try. On first glance I just wasn’t sure about the initiative tracker or the tick system for actions, but during play it works very, very well.

Each round has 20 “counts” which represent about half a second of real time. The winner of the initiative roll, found by rolling 1d20 and adding your Initiative score, goes on count 1 with the other participant's counts determined by how much lower they rolled than the winner – every four points equals one more count. If you have someone roll a 28 for initiative and another person rolls 20, the first person would go on count 1 and the second would go on count 3. It doesn’t take long to get used to at all.

Characters will have a number of actions based on their fighting style and other modifiers and there are several different maneuvers that can be performed. Everything from a light, accurate strike to a heavy haymaker, to a grapple or disarm and the list goes on. The defender will also roll to dodge, parry or block depending on the attack. Each action or reaction will cost stamina, which is another part of the combat system that I was hesitant about.

To strike a combatant would roll 1d20 + Strike modifiers + maneuver modifiers. A defender would roll 1d20 + Block/Parry/Dodge modifiers. Both would keep track of their Stamina cost for their different maneuvers and each needs to keep track of the number of actions they have remaining in the round. I found that this was sometimes difficult as people tended to fall into the I Go, You Go mindset on occasion so providing counters, like glass beads, to represent their actions remaining worked well. The amount of bookkeeping at this stage sounds like a lot but it ended up fading to the background easily during play.

All in all the combat system plays far better than it reads and I encourage everyone who has any doubt to give it a run.

Chapter 3: The World of Magic

API definitely has its own flavor when it comes to magic. There are 13 different paths, each with a different theme and each with three “circles” or levels. For example, Path of Elements allows for control of the different elemental forces including the ability to take on the form of that element. Path of Augmentation allows the caster to enhance their body, granting benefits like regeneration or super-speed. Each spell from each path requires a sacrifice to be able to cast the spell, which is very similar to spell components in other systems, and you can also buy upgrades for the different spells as well. One of my players was an Elemental adept who upgraded his Blast spell several times, becoming quite formidable in the process.

Chapter 4: API Organization

This chapter is all about the setting. What I said earlier about Joss Whedon and Mike Mignola writing Men in Black is explained here. If you can picture J and K taking down a demonic hellgate in their mission to protect the earth then you’re well on your way to understanding what API is all about. If you don’t know what any of that means, then this chapter will spell it out for you.

Long ago, during the time of the Black Plague, the Circle of Ten founded what came to be known as Apocalypse Prevention Inc. in the hope of keeping mankind safe from demonic influence. They have 10 major headquarters around the world, each controlled by a descendant of the Circle of Ten, so if you want to run a game in Russia, the UK, Brazil or China then feel free. The sourcebooks have only been released for Alaska and Europe at the moment, however, so detail is lacking.

There is also some information on the API hierarchy, how the agency works and what it means to be an agent in its ranks. There is a lot of flavor crammed into the chapter and it is surprisingly well written. I don’t mean that to say that the rest of the writing is bad, just that setting descriptions in some games has come across as a little too vague or a little too specific. API walks the line between the two, letting you know what you need to and leaving a lot open for you to do what you want.

Chapter 5: Demonology

This is where you’ll find information on the different races available in API, explaining how they feel about the world and how API feels about them. The story of the Burners, as an example, explains how they came to end up in Florida and what they are running from…

Chapter 6: Telling Stories for API

Here’s the GM section, which gives advice on running games set in the API universe. It gives some good pointers on using the different themes of the game, from comedy to horror, and provides stats for many different creatures, animals and opponents. The three illegal races I mentioned before are detailed here and their sections explain why they are not allowed on Earth.

Finally you get your sheets, a glossary and an index, along with a random demon making chart.

Conclusion

Even though it was released in 2008 I had never heard of Apocalypse Prevention Inc., Third Eye Games or Eloy Lasanta before the Haiti bundle at RPGNow. Now that I have I can’t help but think that I’ve been missing out on something this whole time. My score for Apocalypse Prevention Inc. is a solid 9/10, which for the folks over on RPGnet means a 4/5 Style and a 5/5 Substance. This book provides all you need to get going with the game, introduces a fantastic combat system in the DGS and provides a setting that I thoroughly enjoy with enough information offered to bring the setting to life. While a few pieces of art do not really click with me I don’t think that they detract from the book, instead just failing to add to it. API's writing is clear and concise, not bombarding you with minute details to drive the setting home or forcing the different aspects of the game down your throat. The combat system is intimidating at first glance but after I actually gave it a run at the table I saw just how smoothly it plays. This is a game that definitely deserves to be played and I hope anyone who has doubts about the DGS will give it a try. I bet you’ll be surprised.

This was linked from my blog and the formatting didn't hold. To see the formatted review you can go to - http://www.thevigilant.net/?p=300



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2010 03:52:02

The Good: Brimming with plot seeds and balancing humor, horror and action with a delicate agility. The system is a bit on the crunchy side, but in the fun way.

The Bad: The production values are slightly on the weaker side. Nothing is overtly bad, but rarely does it reach beyond "functional".

Conclusion: Imagine CJ Carella's Witchcraft or the World of Darkness if they didn't take themselves so seriously. A GREAT corebook.

See a more detailed review at: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/08/tommys-take-on-apocalypse-prevention.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Steven L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/20/2009 11:09:08

API: Apocalypse Prevention, INC. is the core book to Third Eye Games’ first setting. It provides all the rules needed to play. The Book Itself Apocalypse Prevention, INC. (known from now on as API in this review) is a 184 paged paperback printed in black and white. I received mine from lulu.com; it can also be bought at Studio2’s website as a print on demand. Both sites have the pdf for cheaper as does the usual pdf RPG sellers such as Drivethru. As of this review it can be ordered also on Amazon and should soon be available in FLGSs. The cover art drags my attention to it even though it seems simple. The interior art ranges from the average (some due to not translating as well to B&W) to some art being very good and reminding me of styles seen in Exalted and Shadowrun. Each page in the book contains a background imagine of a blood splatter, to some background imagines will bother them, but in my case it was not distracting and added a nicer “feel” to the books look to me.

Chapter Breakdown Pre-Chapters Before the actual chapters get started there are a few sections. First is an API In Brief section, giving a quick summary of what you are about to read. It includes summaries of the setting, mood of the game, a list of the playable races and a quick summary of the base mechanic for the Dynamic Gaming System (DGS). The base mechanic is 1d20 + Attribute + Skill vs. a Target Number of 10, 20, 30, or 40. Next is the usual “What is an RPG?” section including an example of play? And last is a Stock letter written to new API agents from the CEO of the US branch, helping set the mood for the setting contained within the book.

Chapter One: Character Creation Character creation is broke down into five steps. Step one: Concept, Passion, and Race Concept is coming up with the original idea for your character. Do you want to play the tough guy, or the smart scientist or something in between? Is your PC male or female? What kind of history do they have? Passion is what drives a character to be motivated. It is what moves their lives and makes them choose the decisions they make. These range from those obsessed with Death, to those in Love with another, to those who will do anything for power. Experience bonuses are given to those who play their Passions well during sessions. Passions can also alter do to events that happen to the character. Love may have driven the character, but when the object of his emotion was murdered, he may well have become obsessed with the death of those responsible. In API there are 10 races (anything not human is called a Demon, whether it alien, actual demon or dimensional hopper) to choose from: Humans- Us Burners- Fire demons from another dimension that escaped enslavement and are often now Earth patriots. Changelings- Shape shifters who are thought to have lived beside humans for centuries. Lochs- Large fish people who at one time were rulers over many creatures. They were almost made extinct by an act of bio-terrorism and now work with API for a solution or cure to their problem. Spectrals- Ghosts, spirits that did not enter the afterlife. They seem heavily influenced by the movie “Ghost”. Taylari- Living vampires that break the mold on what most games would call a vampire. Wolf People- Werewolves with an unknown past.

These first seven races are considered legal races to API, they can be granted citizenship of earth and often work with API as agents. These last three races are considered to be illegal.

Carriers- A race of demons that survive by eating disease. Oracles- Demons that can for see the future Tark- Huge juggernauts that are known to steal babies.

Step Two: Distribute Attributes

API uses six basic stats. Power (POW), Agility (AGY), Vigor (VIG), Intellect (IQ), Insight (INS), and Charm (CHM). Players use a point buy system to purchase their attributes. Which are on a scale of 1-10.

Step Three: Distribute Skill Points

Players then assign skill points to a list of 20 skills and 12 possible combat styles. The skill list seems to be a nice compact list of skills that when utilized with the specialty rules allow for all skills to be covered and characters to not step on each others’ toes in their preferred areas of knowledge. Combat skills include Fighting Styles and Weapons Styles which represent training in their perspective area. Fighting styles range from being a street fighter to an Aikido master. Weapon styles range from knifes to ranged weapons to swords. Each style gives bonuses to the characters sub-attributes and combat bonuses.

Step Four: Bonus Points

This step is where you spend additional “Bonus” points buying Gifts, raising skills or attributes. More bonus points can also be had by taking Drawbacks. API includes a pretty exhaustive list of Gifts and Drawbacks for the players to choose from.

Step Five: Calculate Sub-Attributes and Combat Bonuses

In this step you calculate Sub-Attributes: Health, Initiative, Movement, and Stamina and calculate Combat Bonuses: Strike, Parry, Dodge, Roll, and Grappling.

After step five fleshing out the PC and buying some equipment finishes out the character. In API equipment can range from normal everyday items to API issued Sonic Memory Scramblers to making your PC a cyborg. Cybernetics are very real in the world of API and some agents use them. There are also seedy “cyber-docs” who work underground giving people cybernetics of lesser quality.

Chapter Two: Combat

API uses a sort of tick type of system for combat. Each round has 20 “counts”. The winner of initiative rolls goes on count 1, which sets the base for everyone else. Each other player decides which count they start on by adding +1 count per 4 they rolled less than the winner. During combat each action has a speed total and a stamina cost. The speed determines how many counts must go by before they can take another action (as long as they have another action); an exception to this is magic. Magic actions do not occur until the speed time is up, instead of normal actions where the wait is after the action. And the stamina cost depletes from their stamina sub-attribute. Reactions such as dodging and parrying do not count towards a player’s actions per round. Reactions are the opposed rolls vs. a characters strikes, with the exception of Taking the Hit which means if the attacker rolls a hit, there is no opposed roll and the defender does not lose any counts due to the speed of a reaction.

The count system can at first look to be too complex or time consuming, but on a little thought and testing, I find that it is actually very quick to get use to and offers a very fun combat system with lots of strategy based on which actions to take. The action list is exhaustive and there are many things one can do in a count.

Damage comes in two rating Lethal and Non-Lethal. Armor also has two rating corresponding to the two damage types and how much they block of it.

Chapter Three: The World of Magic

This is one of my favorite aspects of API, Magic! Magic is broke down into Paths. Each Path is based on a type of magic or theme. Such as the Path of Health for healing and The Path of Blood for Taylari vampires blood magic. All Paths are further broke down into 3 “Circles” or levels. Level one is the novice levels while level 3 is the master. Magic costs Mana which is directly converted from a PC’s Stamina. The higher the Circle the magic user has unlocked, the better the conversion.

The best part of magic is that using bonus points, a player can purchase upgrades for their spells affectively making the spell unique to them in some way. Altering the speed, range, damage, etc… to customize the spell to their liking.

Also it seems unlike most games, magic and cybernetics can easily coexist within the same character.

Chapter Four: API Organization

This chapter is the setting. API is set within the modern world, but it is different than what we know. To the common citizen the world is the same as you or I know. But behind the scenes is the world of API. Demons from all sorts of dimensions and portals exist a lot living amongst us in the normal society. API are the law enforcers, the security, the lawyers, and the law that handles all of these demons. They investigate disturbances, they enforce API law upon all demons, they arrest or destroy those that are illegal or dangerous to society and keep it all hidden from the eyes of the general public. Think Men In Black meets Hellboy meets Stargate SG-1 and you’re started on the right path.

The API organization was started by the Circle of Ten with the same original principals of today’s API. There are 10 main headquarters around the world for API each headed by a descendent of a member of the original Circle of Ten. These headquarters are based in Capetown, Coloma (US), Kyoto, Lagos, London, Montreal (sourcebook is already out for Canada and I will review later), Moscow, Delhi, Rio di Janeiro, and Mongolia. There are also two smaller and secret HQs in China and Australia.

There is several pages on what being an agent means and how the organization works; it also gives rules on making an API Elite Agent. These are long time most decorated API veterans who can take their own type of fighting style called Elite. Elites are the best of the best humanity and API has to offer in the API cause.

Chapter Five: Demonology

This chapter goes into more detail of the races. It talks of their history, their cultures, why they are on Earth and what their roles often are in API society and normal society.

Chapter Six: Telling Stories For API

This chapter gives basic GM advice for how to run API and how to set different moods or run different types of games using API. It also includes stats for animals and antagonists. The three illegal demons rules are located here as well instead of being with the legal races in the first chapter. The book ends with a Random Demon making chart, a glossary of terms and an index.

Overall

This book is an amazing game. The DGS system is truly quick and easy, but yet has a combat system that adds lots of strategy and fun without a tremendous amount of complexity. The author seems to have taken a lot of ideas from his favorite systems and improved on them in his own way. The stats while looking like renamed DnD stats work in a much more freeform and different way because of the DGS’s base mechanic which resembles more of a Unisystem style. The skill list is kept more compact like modern games and with specialties reminds me of a Unisystem/Shadowrun mix. Combat Bonuses and Combat Styles would make Erick Wujcik proud were he still with us to read this game.

The setting and Action Horror with a twist of humor is not one often seen and after reading this book is a very welcomed sight in my collection. It takes flavor from lots of places. Men In Black, Hellboy, Stargate SG-1, Witchcraft and the World of Darkness. It steps on the toes of none of its influences and brings a whole new feel from the hybrid mix it seems to contain.

Third Eye Games has been very quick and friendly to respond to any questions or comments on API and with one sourcebook already out and more planned on a regular schedule this game and company I believe will grow to be a well known name in the RPG hobby. Not only will I run this game, I am already starting to convert other settings I have to the DGS rules.

Style I will give a 4. The cover is very nice and the inside art for the most part is wonderful. It gets a four because some of the artwork was too dark for the B&W print and appeared slightly bad when printed. The layout is a very nice two column layout easily read and pretty to the eye.

Substance gets a 5. This book has a wonderful setting. That has had a lot of thought put into it. This setting will provide hours of enjoyment and allows play in several styles and moods. The DGS system is simple yet strategic system that anyone can learn and have fun with. It allows for easy house ruling or conversion based on its point based system and ease of which all things integrate into the base mechanic.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/25/2009 20:37:45

API -Apocalypse Prevention Inc- the Roleplaying Game, which bills itself as an Action Horror RPG . . . with a twist of Humor written by Eloy Lasanta and published by Third Eye Games. API uses the Dynamic Game System (DGS) for its base rules. It is a 184-page product (182 after covers) with a clean layout and a fair amount of thematic black and white art.

The game setting is a mix of late season Angel and Men in Black (with a dash of Hellboy’s BPRD) in concept, with the shadow corporation of API protecting the world from threats from the multitude of alternate demon dimensions that can invade the Earth at anytime along with other homegrown supernatural threats. API has access to allied demons and supernatural beings, magic and high technology to complete its mandate. You are playing API’s newest employees.

Character creation is point based and quite flexible. You can play a human or several types of paranormal creatures (ghosts, living vampires, fish demon, fire starters and more) each with its own selection of special abilities. A nice roleplaying hook is that each character has a passion that drive her or him (or it), when you play to your passion in such a way that it makes the game more interesting, you get bonuses (usually bonus experience). The system seems flexible and easy enough to use especially with the provided two page reference guide that neatly breaks the steps down.

The DGS uses a simple roll 1d20 plus statistic and skill against a target number or opposed roll (except for combat), nice and clean with the uses for skills well defined. Combat is a bit more complex however. A character’s statistics and skills are not used directly, instead they give bonuses to strike, dodge, damage, parry and other combat actions. Combat is tracked in counts within each round and each combat action (and reaction if you are defending) costs a certain amount of counts and expends a certain amount of Stamina (used to measure the character’s endurance). Most combat rolls will be contested in some fashion as the defender attempts to dodge, parry or otherwise avoid the attack or minimize damage from it. The system allows a good amount of tactical finesse and options in a fight and tries to encourage description (even allowing the GM to give bonuses to well-described combat maneuvers). But it also lacks rules for simplifying combat if only a quick resolution is needed.

Magic is divided into various paths (eighteen in all) each with several spells available. One of the nice aspects of the magic system is that each spell can be improved and customized by and to its caster making the short spell lists more flexible. A handful of Magical Orders, each of whom specialize in one of the paths, are provided for use as examples or rivals. The magic paths are interesting and varied but the total number of spells is quite limited. Oddly, no examples or guidelines for magical artefacts are provided.

A selection of “monsters” is provided which gives more details on the player character races as well as providing the statistics for animals and a few opponents including the traditional zombie. A short “random demon generator” is also provided that is fun but could have been made much more interesting. While each of the major ‘races’ comes with an NPC and suggestions for his or her use, in general, these sections could have been improved by incorporating adventure seeds and by providing a wider range of opposition types.

The world background, mostly seen through the lens of API, is intriguing if very odd. The section on how agents are recruited and what is expected of them should have been with character creation however, as agents of API have to cut all ties with their former life, such information might be important in considering a character’s background. Some clues to the world and the sort of scenarios that API might be involved in are included but most of the background is just an overview.

The advice on game mastering API is also rather thin. As API aims to combine elements of horror and humor, two of the hardest styles of game to run, you would expect more than five paragraphs (and less than half a page). Some suggestions on how to gather teams, ideas for non-API-based campaigns in the API setting and six adventure seeds (two for each new, experienced and elite agents) consisting of but a single paragraph each. However, no introductory adventure is provided nor are suggestions on how to structure API adventures. It also lacks a bibliography/filmography of sources of inspiration.

Concluding the book is an index (always a plus), a character sheet and a count tracking sheet for combat.

API has potential, the system is solid and the setting is full of possibilities, but nether seems quite finished. Right now API is a fun game but the GM will need to put in a lot of work to make the setting work. It is also a great source of ideas, especially the various races, for modern horror/supernatural games.

I would give this product a 3.5 if that option was availible.

This review was originally written for the 12 Days of Reviewmas at the Grand OGL Wiki (http://grandwiki.wikidot.com). Stop by and visit.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Gordon F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/10/2008 22:56:54

The Upside:

Apocalypse Prevention Inc! tags itself as an Action Horror RPG, with a twist of Humor. I would guess it's going for a darker element, without delving too deep into self inflicted angst and existential drivel.

Chapter One - Character Creation. The chapter goes over the basic mechanics of the game and through character creation. The system is a simply Skill Level + Attribute + D20 type system. Personally, I don't like the D20 Mechanic, it's a flat curve but manages to nicely avoid the trap of ever escalating skill bonuses and skill difficulty levels.

A good start to Character Creation is done, emphasizing the Character over the numbers right off the bat. Concepts and Passions define who the character is, and what they really want out of life. This is a good basic set of things to begin modeling a character with, defining their overall sense of self and desires. The book only provides examples of 17 Passions to work with, these ultimately decide what it is the character wants out of life in the grand sense, these include things like Greed, Perfection, Power, Community and so on. I have to say, given the nature of the game I'm surprised The Truth isn't a passion, I know it's out there. Next up is Character Race. seven Character Races are detailed here, from humans, fish-men, and the games own brand of werewolves and vampires, as well as ghosts, changelings and a fire demon. The races are diverse enough to be interesting and none come off as The Race to choose, from a mechanical point.

After Races the book goes into the actual Mechanical construction of a Character. Starting with Attributes and Skills. It's a point-buy game, and each of the six Attributes are ranked from 1-10. There are three physical stats (Power, Agility, Vigor), two mental stats (Intellect, Insight) and one social stat (Charm). They are abstract enough to cover a number of situations easily and loosely. Skills are also ranked on a 1-10 scale, there are twenty basic skills provided, on top of that each skill also lists a number of specialties. Characters pick a specialty when they reach certain levels in a Skill, and get a bonus when dealing with that specialty. The skill system is also a 'fast and loose' style favoring a more dramatic flavor over rigidly defined skills. The mechanics of the system derive from this looser style - all rolls are a D20 + Attribute Level + Skill Level. The exact nature of the Attribute and Skill depend on the situation, for instance a Performance Skill check might use Charm if speaking, or Agility if dancing. Ghosts have a special set of skills they use for interacting with the tangible world as well. Fighting Skills come in twelve different kinds, focusing on untrained fighting, trained fighting, martial arts (there's a hard and soft subset) and various weapon types. The specialties here help to turn a generic Fighting Level into something more interesting and personalized.

With everything hard capped at 10 it mitigates a lot of the escalating skill bonus issues inherent in open ended games. Skill checks are on a 10/20/30/40 difficulty scale, making your chances of success fairly predictable despite the lack of a bell curve to judge from.

Gifts And Drawbacks, this covers aspects of a Character that don't fit into a Skill. Gifts are positive aspects (things like Followers, access to magic, ambidexterity, and so on). Drawbacks are, as the name states, negative aspects (like being blind). Taking on drawbacks gets you more character creation points to work with.

Speaking of points - character creation has three point pools, Attribute, Skill and Bonus (using to buy Gifts) Points. Bonus points can also be turned into Attribute or Skill Points, and taking Drawbacks gets you more Bonus Points.

Equipment, is also simple, each item lists a Durability, Size, Cost and what it provides. Cost is an abstract system based on a characters Wealth Level, if your Wealth is equal to or less than the Cost you can get the item. While easy to use and uncomplicated it feels kind of flat and boring. Cybernetics work by providing simple bonuses to certain applications or provide a set effect and are both easy to work into the system and easy to create new items should you want.

Chapter Two - Combat. Combat is both simple, and probably a bit time consuming until you get used to the flow. First, combat increments in Counts and Rounds. A Round is defined as a ten second period. There are twenty Counts to a Round. The premise is this: Every character has a number of Actions that can be performed in a Round - Actions are Offensive Actions (like attacking or moving) - the standard is two. Each Action has a Speed associated with it, the Speed is the number of Counts it takes to perform the Action, you can't take another Action until the number of Counts from your previous Action has passed. Reactions are Defensive Actions - you can React to every incoming Action at you as you see fit, some Reactions have a Speed as well that delays your next Action by that many Counts. This makes combat an Act/Counter Act flow. Resolution is a simple Roll vs Roll, whomever gets the higher number (after modifiers) wins. Is this realistic? I don't know, but it is interesting and most importantly playable. The only quibble I have is Initiative is supposed to decided every new Round - this not only breaks flow but lengthens combat, I'd use the optional system that only determines Initiative on the first Round.

Damage is handled simply as well, each Attack has a Damage rating of either Non-Lethal or Lethal, and everything has an Armor Rating against both types (a lot of things have a Armor Rating of 0 versus Lethal Damage). Subtract Armor from Damage and that's how much Health you lose. The only interesting mechanic here are Pain Penalties, when you reach half your Health and below you can start taking penalties to actions, not very Action Hero oriented, but still kind of cool and let's you know that getting hurt has meaning beyond Not Dead Yet.

Chapter Three - The World Of Magic. This chapter covers an introduction to both magic in the setting and the mechanics of magic. From the settings perspective all Magic has the same source, but each practitioner uses different avenues to bring it out. It's a nice way of allowing the same spell to be used a multitude of ways (grimoires, fetishes, runes, elaborate ceremonies, etc). Mechanically using magic is like using equipment, each spell has a mana cost that is powered by the Characters Stanima (a derived stat from Vigor and Insight). Magic is divided into Paths (types) and Circles (power level). There are three Circles, and a eighteen Paths available. Access to these if gained through purchasing Gifts, spells are purchased with the Bonus Points you buy Gifts with as well. The magic system is easy to use, diverse, and moderately customizable - but there's no guidelines to creating new spells or paths.

Chapter Four - API Organization. Apocalypse Prevention, Inc is the organization that fights the monsters, keeps the world safe from supernatural threats and generally polices the shadows. The supernatural world of API is a "hidden in plain sight" kind of thing where odd events are all rationalized away by right thinking minds. I find this explanation kind of lame, but you need something to explain why they don't live in the open so it's probably as good as any other. The chapter starts with a short look at "The World Around Us" that describes some of the world mostly from the API side of the fence, but a few tidbits from the "mundane" world. One bit did stick out like a sore thumb - a breakout box regarding "Tight Gun Control" in the US where the 2nd Amendment was drastically changed, gun control made extremely restrictive, and enforcement leading to several incidents. But it's only three paragraphs, doesn't really add too much to the setting and seems like an after market add-on that doesn't fit well.

The rest of the chapter covers everything you need to know to operate within the API organization. From indoctrination, training, daily life, uniforms to the layout and hierarchy of API. Even if you don't want to use the setting this is a pretty good look at the inside of an MIB-style operation and how you can set one up in your own game.

Chapter Five - Demonology. In the world of API everything not human is called a Demon. Whether were-wolf (wolf man), ghost, fish-man, changeling. It doesn't matter, API itself it calls them Demons. The outside world still has the myriad of names we see in myth and legend today, however. This chapter covers the non-human plater races in more detail, while Chapter One went over the Mechanics and rough ideas of the non-human races. We get full histories, where they are known, and more details on the various aspects of each race, both good and bad. Each non-human race has a drawback that relates to standard legends that makes them out to be monsters as well.

Chapter Six - Telling Stories For API. The first part of this chapter is pretty standard advice on creating a game, using the setting and the designed elements to best effect, advice on mood. Adventures types and styles, putting together various groups, and even a bit of advice on how to use API as antagonists instead of as employers. Also covered is Experience - which brings me to me least favorite aspect of this system.

API is set up as a point based game, with a close ended system. Everything fits into a 1-10 scale. However 10 isn't The Very Top, it's just the highest attainable level by Humans, and their like. For instance a Power of 10 is not the strongest ever, but an Olympic level human. So how do you go about making something stronger than ten men? Bonuses, not higher Power. Ultimately I think the system hamstrings itself here - and it shows in the experience point system. One Experience Point is not One Character Point. Attributes, Skill and Gifts are all bought on a different scale. Skills and Gifts are pretty much identical in scale, they should have been lumped together in character creation. Attributes cost twice as many Experience Points to get one point than Skills/Gifts. Because the system is close ended I can't help but feel the 5/1 Experience to Skill/Gift (or 10/1 XP to Attribute Point) ratio is there to stunt growth. I would have preferred to see everything placed on a 1 for 1 point scale with point costs varied to show importance, both at character creation and in experience.

However, the bright side to this is that the system is Not class or level based, you actually get to customize your character with a decent amount of flexibility, which is the saving grace of the entire system.

The last part of the chapter is Antagonists, which has generic write-ups of various adversaries. From normal animals, various humans (police, thugs, monster hunters, and more), other Demons and average PC-Race Demons. The end has a Random Demon Generator table that can be used to create new species of Demons for an encounter, or campaign. And the last part details three Illegal Demon Races, that should not be PC Races at all as they are actively hunted down by API and considered the enemy.

The Downside:

Normally I don't really note much about a books layout. API is done in a nice two column format, the problem is every page has a watermark that I can only assume is supposed to be a blood splotch. It doesn't make the book unreadable (the contract between splotch and text is good) but it makes it hard, the eye is constantly drawn to an asymmetrical splotch on the page. Not to mention it just looks plain ugly. I consider it one of the biggest design mistakes to place an image of any kind behind the text being read.

The Otherside:

The 1D20 System provided means only one die is ever rolled, and it only controls success or failure. It's a simple and effective mechanic, and probably a pretty good system to introduce new people to the idea of Gaming with. But ultimately, it's limiting itself by this, and I expect most would want to move onto a more robust system. Still, it's far more open ended than many games by lacking any kind of class or level based structure to force players into a mold.

The setting is an pretty decent mix of Men In Black humor, X-Files mystery and Hellboy monster hunting. Even if you don't want to play API as presented the organization as presented can easily be translated to any other setting as a Top Secret Group of Monster Hunters or Conspiracy Holders. I'd recommend the book for that aspect alone.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Dale A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/03/2008 17:12:54

The cover touts the game as "An Action, Horror RPG... with a twist of Humor", and it gives some humor already in just the Disclaimer, though it is slightly lacking in the rest of the book. Starting off, there is summary of the setting, the mood of the game, playable races, and of the system that is used. I rather like a page full of short and sweet summaries of what the book is planning on giving you.

Then of course there is the "What is Roleplaying" section (slight nitpick, on the cover page of the pdf it states "An Action, Horror RPG" but everywhere else its "An Action Horror RPG") which is only 2 paragraphs with 2 sentences digging on the lack of RPG in video games. I would have rather seen just 1 sentence since 2 seems to be a bit of an overkill.

A 2 column format is used throughout the book, which is better than the full page format in my opinion. The pdf is also very clean, and readability is excellent. There are some light gray splotches to give a blood stained feel to it, which helps to re-enforce the Horror aspect.

Some slight spelling and punctuation mistakes that lasts only in this first section of the book, but nothing thats too distracting. The rest of the book is either completely missing any mistakes or I was too involved with the book to even notice them.

Before the first Chapter there is a full page mock-up of an official letter from API, which I rather like since it helps to get you into the mood of being in character rather quickly. However, the rest of the book reads like a Core Book, so the feeling that this letter gives is lost. I think it would have been better placed at the end of the book, after the character sheets.

The example game play of the GM and 2 players was very un-inspiring. I would have left it off or write down dialog from an actual game.

Chapter 1: CHARACTER CREATION

Character Creation in API has 5 steps, of which Concepts, Passion, and Race are apart of Step 1.

Concepts is where you decide on what type of character you will want to play, their sex, history, disposition, ethnicity, family life, and occupation. Passion is API's version of Alignment and I rather like how this is done rather than having none or a specific set of what you can and cannot do due to your alignment. Passions are what your character feel strongly about, their purpose in other words. It's not stated how many passions one can have, but it's assumed that you can have 1 Passion at a time. Whenever you act within your Passion you receive bonus XP and possibly to checks relating to their Passion. A rather nice way to encourage roleplaying one's Passion and in staying in character.

Between Passions and Races there is a 2 page Character Creation Reference Guide and a 3 page sample character, which really should have been places at the end of the Chapter. It is confusing for a first time player, because it makes you worry you might have missed something.

Races given are Humans, Burners, Changelings, Locks (Fish People), Spectrals, Taylari (Vampires), and Wolf People. What is nice is that if your character dies, you can continue to play your character as a Spectral and still be apart of the game.

Step 2 is where you assign your Attributes with 30 points between 6 Attributes with 10 levels for each. 4 or 5 is given as the average but I would have preferred a set number for average, such as 4. You must have 1 point in each attribute and the costs are 1 point is spent of Attributes between 1-8 and 2 points for 9 and 10. The Attributes are Power, Agility, Vigor, Intellect, Insight, and Charm.

Then the sub-attributes are given and how to calculate them, which is easily done. However, they are supposed to be apart of Step 5 of the Character Creation process so I was expecting them to be further down. it makes sense for them to be where they are, I was just confused at first. The sub-attributes are Health, Initiative, Stamina, and Movement (running, jumping, climbing, swimming and walking).

The third Step is to assign Skills out of 30+IQ points and are purchased in the same manner Attributes are. The Skills are rather general and are set up as 10 levels, meaning to roll skill checks you roll a d20+Attribute level+Skill level with a max roll of 40 possible which would allow a nearly impossible feat to succeed. I wont go through the skills here, mainly due to the generalness of them, and how to handle skill checks isn't either. There are a few new aspects, for me anyways, such as a rule on how 2 or more people using the same skill to accomplish something is handled and that some skills and be used in conjunction with others as well as attributes. Also, Attributes are not linked to just one skill and thats it. For example, researching something on a computer would use IQ+Computers but typing speedily would use Agility+Computers. There are also specific skills for only Spectrals due to their unique nature.

Weapon Styles allow one to use a weapon without penalty and each level purchased gives bonuses of one manner or another that stack with previous levels. Fighting Styles can be mixed with all of their bonuses stacking, though to receive any of the special techniques in a specific style you must have purchased 4, 7 or 10 levels in it. These Styles are where one can see that the author of API must have played a Palladium Books game somewhere in their past and it's a rather good thing. You wont be disappointed.

Step 4 is where you can spend your Bonus Points (16 for Humans, 10 for the other races) on Gifts, take Drawbacks to increase your Bonus Points, purchase more levels of Attributes or Skills, purchase Equipment, and any Cybernetics one might desire. I like the Gifts and Drawbacks listed out, giving you many opportunities to spend your Bonus Points on ways to round out your character, as well as the Cybernetics which allows you to create a complete Cyborg if that is your wish.

Step 5 is where you are supposed to calculate your combat bonuses and sub-attributes, but that is done in Steps 2 and 3.

Chapter 2: COMBAT

Stamina should have been described with the other stats instead of in the combat (though i understand why it was) but besides that, I really like the Combat, including the Stamina system. It does add a bit more bookkeeping for both the player and GM as well as makes the game somewhat crunchy, it is nice to see that everything in combat is attributed for. I can definitely see the roots of this game as akin to the Palladium Books system, especially with the Fighting Styles and Weapon Styles, but the Combat System and Stamina System, or DGS (Dynamic Game System) of API not only improves what Palladium Books uses, but it completely blows them out of the water. It is such a good combat system that not only should you think about getting the book on this merit alone, I will describe how it works.

How DGS works is thus: You have Stamina (derived by [Vigor+Insight]x3) which you spend in combat. A punch may cost 1 point, and a dodge 1 point as well. The longer combat lasts, as well as the more actions you take, you WILL tire. At half your Stamina you will take penalties, at 1/4th your Stamina you will take more, and at 1/8th you will take even more. When you get to zero you are completely worn out and cannot do anything but rest. Luckily Stamina is replenished quickly, but not quickly enough to do so while engaged in combat. The second part to DGS is that every combat move takes time. A round is 10 seconds and there are 20 counts to a round.

So an example combat from your character's point of view might be thus: You and your opponent roll for Initiative, the winner gets to act on Count 1, the rest act on Count 2-9 depending on how low they rolled for their initiative. So if you roll a 21 and your opponent rolls a 22, they go on Count 1 and you go on Count 2. They use a full attack with a broadsword which lowers their Stamina by 1 for the attack and uses 5 Counts, meaning their next attack can be done on Count 6 if they dont dodge or do anything else. You decide to Dodge which reduces your Stamina by 1 and uses 3 Counts meaning you get to attack on Count 5. And so on.

The DGS has all situations explained out in the combat section, really showing off the fact that they did their homework and play-tested the crap out of these rules. There are rules for when someone jumps into the combat during the middle of the round, what happens when 2 or more combatants go on the same Count, Surprise Attacks, what happens if the round ends and you havent used up all of your Attacks yet, how to handle a situation where the entire group (or just 2 of them) decide to attack the Big Bad at the exact same time, everything. Knock-outs arent reliant on a Natural 20 as with many systems, which is very nice. There are rules for Improvised Weapons and Improvised Weapons that are similar to a Weapon they are already proficient with. Rules for Melee, Ranged, Armor, Armor Piercing.... like I said, this is one solid system and I cant say enough about it.

You owe it to yourself to read the combat section if you have EVER felt discouraged, dismayed, unsure of, or any other feeling but complete and abject joy from any other Combat System.

DGS is an Active Combat and Active Defense system, meaning you roll for your strikes on a d20 plus bonuses and try to get the highest number possible and you roll a d20 plus bonuses for your defensive action trying to match or do better than the strike being leveled at you. It is cinematic and realistic at the same time and it works beautifully. Yes, it means a bit longer combat, yes it means a bit more bookkeeping, but the way it is laid out, with rules for all contingencies, I dont know how I will be able to play any other game without utilizing this combat system in one way or another.

Chapter 3: MAGIC

The magic chapter starts off basically detailing how all things that are "supernatural", like psionics, demons' natural abilities, religious miracles, and good old wizardry all use the same energy, Mana. I really like how all magic is set up with one system and it's how you roleplay it that determines how it is perceived within the game world. There are three levels of magic spells/abilities which are called Circles and Mana is converted from Stamina depending on which Circle you are casting from. The first Circle holds the easiest magic and you convert 1 Stamina into 1 Mana. The second Circle is harder magic and you convert 2 Stamina into 1 Mana. The third Circle holds the hardest magic and the most reality altering magics. Converting for the third Circle is 3 Stamina for 1 Mana.

I really like how Stamina is used as the cost in Magic, Combat, and Natural Abilites, giving a very visual aspect of how such things tire you out the more you do stuff in a short amount of time. Too many games has a system for how you get tired, but the visual aspect is normally lost. In API, you easily can roleplay out how tired, how worn out, or how energetic your character is at any given point since Stamina is tied in with everything that you do.

Casting Magic also requires a vocal element, hand movement of some kind, and/or eye movement as well. Some have casting times that allow them to be used in combat, some do not. It is nice to see that in combat, small magical effects can be used, but the more damaging kinds are going to take a minute or longer to complete. It really helps to keeps the power level of the game in check and keeps it in the realm of modern fantasy.

Within each Circle are Paths, like a Path of Death of a Path of Time. To learn a 2nd Circle spell you need to have some 1st Circle spells already learned in the same Path. A nice feature of the magic system is that if you cast a written spell 5 times, you can choose to learn it without having to worry about what Path it is in. There are only 2-3 spells for each Path in the 1st Circle, and 1-2 in the 2nd and 3rd. API's magic spells are written out so you will have spell lists detailing what you can and cannot do with your magic, however you can upgrade your spell many different ways. Two characters might have the same spell, but with the ability to tailor each and every spell, the same spell can have vastly different effects. This is a wonderful feature for those who are used to spell lists in their games, as well as for those who are used to a more free-form magic system. The spell list is small, but with the customization for each and every spell, you have much more of a varied spell list than if there was a book full of only spells. Add in the fact that the spells themselves are unique to begin with, and you have a magic system that is just as varied and wonderful as the combat is.

Chapter 4: API ORGANIZATION

This Chapter starts out with the history and roots of API and a few disasters that API stopped in the past. A list of Headquarters is also given for the major areas of the world, enabling the game to take place anywhere around the globe very easily. All in all, it is well written and a good historical basis that gives enough information to run a game set in the past, but not to much to be tiresome.

Then it goes into API Agents themselves and their training, as well as their severing ties to their old lives once they become agents. That, and that they wear black suits and ties, are very reminiscent of Men in Black, and not in a bad way. Players will be happy to know that their loved ones and families are safe from being used as hostages or elements of the story by the GM, even though they have no interaction with them.

Responsibilities are also laid out for Agents of API, which is not all combat and saving the world. Check-ups on aliens and demons living a semblance of normal life is important which can bring into play some interesting roleplay opportunities. Making sure that every alien and demon is properly accounted for and legal is just as important as watching fellow agents to be sure that they are not becoming delinquent in their jobs as well.

All in all, this chapter lays down the groundwork for developing the world as a GM and your characters and a Character and it does a good job at detailing how API works on all levels.

Chapter 5: DEMONOLOGY

In API, Demons are any race that isn't human, and most are Dimensional travelers. Calling a Demon a monster or other adjective is for the worst of the worst. Many races of Demons have treaties and agreements with Earth so they can come and live, for vacation, or for other reasons. Those that come to Earth illegally or to make trouble are dealt with by API's Agents. Some of the humor comes through here in that there is a rule stating that as long as the majority of a Demon's face and body are covered then most people will think that the Demon is a human who is coming home from a costume party, or is horribly scarred, or something else rational.

Expanded descriptions of the Demons in Chapter 1 are listed here with additional information that is useful for not just one's background, but also some expanded rules specific to the Demon race. No other Demons are listed here, which is disappointing. I was expecting more Demons, but the information given on the playable races is very nice to have outside of the character creation.

Chapter 6: TELLING STORIES FOR API

This is the GM section of the book, giving information specific to the setting, Adventure Hooks, guidelines for handing out XP, and how to keep not only the drama but also the humor in a game session. Not that it's necessary, it's nice to see that there is a good page on how to to just have fun, as the GM and to keep it fun for the players as well.

Then the chapter delves into the antagonists, which is where the other Demons I would have liked to see in Chapter 5 are. Stat-ed out are basic animals, average humans, average and not so average API agents, thugs, police officers, and monster hunters. Stats for 14 Demons are given with more to be given in future sourcebooks, as well as there being a Random Monster Generator which gives many different combinations. No rules for assigning stats to monsters of popular stories, but the system is easy enough that doing so wouldn't take much time at all if you wanted a specific monster to bring into the game.

The Chapter ends with 3 races laid out like those in Chapter 1, but these are illegal races meaning that for the most part, they will not be members of API.

A Glossary of Terms and an Index finishes up the book, as well as a 1 page character sheet that is more generalized and 2 copies of a 3 page character sheet that has everything you might need, including a handy Combat Count tracker. There is also given a Combat Counter tracker sheet that holds counts for 7 combatants which will be very handy for GM's to keep things going smoothly during combat.

CONCLUSION

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and the only reason it wasnt given a 10 out of 10 is due to the Pre-Chapters section in the very beginning. It was obviously placed as an afterthought. This is also due to the arrangements of the Steps of the Character Creation which is not in sync with how Character Creation is lined out in the book. Again, I would have liked to see the Character Creation Guide at the end of the Character Creation Chapter.

Furthermore, I have to say that as someone who has played Palladium Books and despaired of it's system, I do believe I have found the perfect Palladium Books System 3.0. This system can easily be used for a multitude of settings that are meant to be realistic and yet cinematic because the DGS of API melds the two is perfect harmony.

184 pages for $12.95 as a pdf or $24.95 as a POD paperback from Lulu is a price that means everyone can afford. Third Eye Games is showing itself to be a company of Gamers for Gamers by setting the price thus for it's Core Book of what is sure to be an excellent game line.

To re-iterate, THIS is what we all have been trying to do since nearly the beginning of the 2nd edition of Palladium Fantasy... FIXING IT! Seriously, I am in love with the beauty of how this system fixes nearly every gripe of what people have said about PB's system but in a completely separate way than everyone else was going.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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