I was given this product as a reviewer.
Act Ten is probably the best book I've downloaded on Drive Thru RPG. The artwork is absolutely amazing and the layout and design are the best I've seen yet here. If you head over to the official website it should give you an idea of how good the artwork is, but I was still blown away by the art in the book. It's very cool. Not only is the original, full color artwork awesome; but the ideas presented in the art are super creative as well which is something very rare to find. One woman has a robotic wrist whipping apart and spinning around her arm. I'm not quite sure what she's doing yet, but it looks pretty darn cool.
The book weighs in at around 80 pages making it a little on the light side, but that's a good thing in my books. Generally, weighty books tend to be too complicated unless they were written by a master. There are also hints of upcoming supplements with more Special FX powers.
I'll try to give you a bit of a run down of the product, step-by-step here:
The price is far lower than what it should be. This is a high quality product with a lot of time and effort put into it.
The cover is pretty snazzy.
The rules themselves cover Traits (think Savage Worlds), skills, and stats. Stats are something like ability scores which you combine with skills to do most things in the game. The system functions on 1d10 mostly with straight up rolls. There are some nifty variations of success value based on how much you exceed target numbers or opposed rolls. Especially in combat. Though the mechanics seem simple (which is good), I also noticed a wealth of depth in things you could do in battle including: heavy attacks, dodges, trips, blocks, parries, fancy maneuvers and so on. This should keep the nitty gritty happy. Personally, I like to get combat to run like a smooth engine so I might not use as many of the fancy tactics, but they're nice to have especially for those who are into that sort of thing. In essence, simple mechanics, complex tactical variation.
The list of traits is reasonable and on par with what I would probably do. The skill list is on the extensive side which is another great move in my opinion. I find some systems lacking in enough skills to cover a range of things, but this one covers just the right amount. The wide array of combat skills makes me think of Savage Worlds again.
The stats combined with skills make a neat dynamic where you have raw ability combined with specialized skills. While this feels really cool, I've yet to run a game and see how it works in action. If successful, it'll make the game highly layered and cool. If unsuccessful it might just encourage people to max combat stats to get the highest bonus they can to combat rolls. Crafty GMs can always play against PC weaknesses, but it's just something I feel is worth mentioning.
Navigation in the document felt 'right'. Many times I found myself frustrated by going "where is x?" and looking for 45 minutes only to come up empty handed. The light size, high quality layout, and visual cues make this system a cut above the rest for comprehension. My questions were readily answered within under 10 minutes by the clear rules. The light size of the book helps with this. It's hard to get lost in such a nice looking book. I almost wished there was a little more to the book, but it does the job.
The chapter on task resolution is clear and well laid out with just enough examples to make it quickly digestible. The chapter on combat was equally well laid out, but I felt a tad overwhelmed just because of the sheer number of options and variables in battle. I know some people will love this. I usually just want to know if I hit the guy and if he's dead or not. It's easier to simplify a game than expand it, so this isn't a major problem.
Toward the end of the book you have a nice section of world lore in the Division/Act Ten universe. This coincides with all the coolness in the artwork so is a nice thing. Personally, I almost always invent my own setting, but for anyone who likes good fluff, you have it here. It's not overdone either, with just enough to give you a feel for the world. Those who love it will probably be interested in the promised upcoming supplements.
At the very end of the book you get a pseudo-comic about the world and the game. I felt this was really neat. This book has a strong visual/comics strength and adding in a short comic at the end to show the world in action feels like the perfect move here. It's like having a tutorial on tabletop RPG from a comic genius (no pun intended). I'm not super big into comics, but it feels right considering the atmosphere and layout of the book.
I'm not really sure where to put the system in the ball park of others. It's kind of it's own thing. I personally love really light systems with a lot of add-ons you can throw into them. Kind of like a basic core system but with a million classes/races/powers or whatever. I also favor class based instead of point but because point buy always seems to degenerate into a number crunching syndrome of power-gaming.
Act Ten reminds me of several different games. Savage Worlds for the traits and exploding dice (optional). Also the weapon skill combinations remind me of this. There's a cool mana/anima burn feature where you can use points to do awesome stuff. The d10 reminds me of several super hero d10 based systems. The success ratios also remind me of a couple of games. I'm not sure I like success ratios because they complicate things (but if you like them, you have them here). The stats system reminds me of Dungeons and Dragons ability scores, and the combination of stats and skills reminds me of Gurps. The customization definitely feels like point buy. You pick traits, you use points to buy skills, and you buy stats with points. Without having run a full game yet, I find myself wondering it it'll have the drawbacks of other point buy systems or if it'll beat them in Savage Worlds style.
Primary Awesome Points:
The price is ridiculously low for such a high quality product.
The game designer/artist is awesome.
The art is fantastic and highly creative.
The layout and design is superb. Can almost always find what I'm looking for.
The mechanics appear to be simple enough to use quickly, but with a lot of variations for more complex play and variations.
Visual cues and examples of character design were great.
Book is short (but sweet).
Point Buy annoys me. That's personal taste, though.
Couldn't find an Equipment section (everyone always asks about those in my games).
Couldn't find a character sheet (I make my own, but good for reference and printing).
Pretty awesome. I'm looking forward to running a game, and the art is very cool.
[5 of 5 Stars!]