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Old May 26th, 2008, 11:58 AM
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Default Rocketship Empires 1936 -- am I too critical?

I have harbored some unkind thoughts toward the game "Rocketship Empires 1936."

It is systemless. In effect, it is a drop-in sourcebook that I can put into terms of Classic Traveller, GURPS, T20, or any other rule system I happen to like.

So -- what does it lack?

Well, let's contrast it with the campaign advice from Spycraft 2.0. Spycraft gives a number of variables and instructs refs on how to tweak them to produce extremely crunchy variations. The default is what I would call "technothriller." In a few pages, they give exact formulas for tweaking it to cinematic, to hardboiled, to postapocalyptic, to martial-arts, and so on. Edit: *theoretically* Spycraft is empowering, but I haven't actually run it. Given players with a lot more tolerance for memorizing obscure rules, I still might give it a shot.

RE1936 is systemless, so there is no crunch. The whole thing is optional, so there's no advice on how to adapt it. It's pretty much as if the author said, "Here's the choices to make: now calculate your own stats." Whereas the Spycraft advice said, "Make any choice you like, here are the numbers to make it work."

Again, contrast it to the old Thieves' World game. That started out by saying, "Have you all read the TW series? Good, there's your fluff. Now here's a bunch of numbers for Traveller, D&D, and a few other rule systems. Pick your crunch."

The more I think about it, the more this is just buyer's remorse from a crunch addict who had no business with a systemless supplement in the first place. But I normally love retro stuff, including retro-future stuff, and somehow RE1936 leaves me empty inside, like a crumpled pack that once contained filterless Camels.

Last edited by redwalker; May 26th, 2008 at 12:13 PM..
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