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Monsterpunk $9.95
Publisher: Gimmick Man
by Daniel O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2021 10:24:44

A post-apocalyptic tactical RPG inspired by Megami Tensei.

Fluff-wise, the default setting presented is probably closest to Shin Megami Tensei II, in that the initial monster invasion has happened so long ago that the world has become completely recognizable, and humans have ince managed to arrange themselves with their new neighbors and overlords. Sure, they tend to be rather low on the totem pole, but the same can be said for monsters that don't make up the upper echelons of their hierarchy. As such, it is no wonder that some humans and monsters would join forces to form a mutually beneficial pact.

In true Megami Tensei tradition, the world is dominated by a number of rivaling factions, each with their own vision of how the world ought to look like. The various categories of monsters (which are closer to the monster types of D&D than the sometimes esoteric classifications in a MegaTen title) are split roughly equally among the factions (though that's just where you can usually find certain monster types; sufficiently talented and/or ruthless monsters can find employment anywhere), which can lead to some interesting combinations. My personal favorite is probably Elysium, which is a joint venture of angels of necromancers - because the only thing better than fantatically loyal soldiers are fanatically loyal soldiers that can still fight for you in (un)death.

Mechanics-wise, the game is recognizably derived from Battle Century G, although with obvious tweaks. Stats don't exist outside of Hit Points and Movement Points, so characters are entirely defined by their selection of Skills, Features and Techs. Action resolution is a lot like in BCG, but with a few Apocalypse World twists: the game throws in twists instead of a simple pass/fail system, and instead of trying to beat a Target Number you just look at your highest die (or a lower one, if you want).

Combat is very tactical, with stronger Techs requiring simple cooldown or resource management (you can't keep using the same Advanced Tech over and over again, and the powerful Limit Techs are like Super Moves in a fighting game in that they are generally not available from the start of combat). Like in BCG, there are tweaks to ensure that combat doesn't drag on for too long. Whereas BCG used Tension (which makes combat more dangerous the longer it's been going on), Monsterpunk gives every Tech a Base Effect: No matter how poorly you roll, you will always deal some damage, and your debuffs will generally stick unless the target is immune against that particular debuff. Negotiations are a common feature in Megami Tensei games, usually peformed to recruit enemies you encounter or at least convince them to leave you alone. In this game, there are a number of Negotiation Skills one can use to demoralize the enemy, which can cause debuffs and even surrenders. One does not necessarily need guns or lightning bolts to "defeat" enemies in this game.

Player Characters use a more restrictive level/class system compared to BCG (though there are optional rules for creating your own classes for a maximum of customization). Classes are divided into roles (Assault, Control, Healer, Tank) and type: Summoners fight alongside their monster partner (though it's generally the monster doing the heavy lifting), Riders use their monster as a mount, Hybrids are a permanent fusion between human and monster (think Devilman, or the Demi-Fiend from Shin Megami Tensei III), and finally Solos are for those who don't actually have a monster partner and instead rely on magic, psychic powers and/or technology. As a nice touch, each class gets the same number of slots for Skills and Trick Techs (class-specific out-of-combat abilities), meaning everyone has something to do outside of combat.

Battle Century G was already big on refluffing (ranging from just renaming the weapons to turning the entire game of piloting giant robots into something completely different, like say a tokusatsu game). Monsterpunk cranks this up a lot. Almost every class type can be refluffed into any other class type: A Rider can just be a Solo with a special vehicle, and Hybrids and Solos are very interchangeable. Even Riders don't necessarily need a mount (they can technically dismount during combat, but that can't happen against their will and there's really not much of an incentive to do it willingly) and might just be a very fast Hybrid or Solo. Even Summoners aren't safe from refluffing, and there's even an official "Solo Summoner" in the form of the Tuplamancer (who is effectively a Persona/Stand user because he doesn't summon a monster, but a being from his own subconcious). In order to encourage this refluffing, each and every class comes with three example character concepts, only of of which will follow the default fluff of the class.

And of course, the entire setting can be replaced with something else, like say some kind of monder day urban fantasy setup.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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