Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review & Commentary On The Guardians! Retroclone Rpg System From Night Owl Workshop For Your Old School Campaigns

I've spent the afternoon playing catch up with repair work and getting my sweaty hands on the Guardians rpg by  David Pulver and Thomas Denmark. I've been waiting a month or more for this retroclone system ever since I stumbled across this game's announcement on the OE blog. So what if the originators of original Dungeons and Dragons had been inspired by the Golden age of comic books and superheroes? That's the question that the Guardians! retroclone poses and answers in spades. Faster then a speeding bullet the DM is plunged into a world of capes and crusaders where the party really is a bunch of super heroes!


One might be thinking great another super hero game with moar power! More abilities and now they've added in ton more material! Well, yes and no. There are ton of PC racial options from exotic, mutant, robot, super alien, supernatural, human, and superhuman. All of these give limits, gifts, powers, issues, and powers. There are four primary character classes: Bruiser, Super-Agent, Power- Wielder, and Gadgeteer. (There is also a Fighter class used for non-super non-player characters. Everything is very carefully laid out here and ease to understand for any experienced OD&D player or DM. Everything in this game has a different scaling then traditional OD&D, adventurers and super heroes are powerful and very dangerous. This isn't simply in the traditional scale of things but also in their abilities. Think very carefully before mixing Swords and Wizardry or OD&D with Guardians!. This a complete system unto itself really.
According to the authors; "Depending on your character's origins you will be able to roll a number of times on the Power Table to determine what super powers your character has. In some ways this is reminiscent of the Gamma World mutations tables and how that endowed characters with unique abilities. Though we've worked hard to make the system much more balanced so the party will all have value to contribute to the adventures without 1 or 2 characters dominating every session because they are so much more powerful than the other characters." That isn't a bad thing but it gets to the core of the gaming system and powers; Guardians is very well done and takes some of its nods from traditional OSR gaming but its really its own animal. Guardians is a complete supers game in 101 pages of system and super heroics but it strikes the balance as fun and very interesting while using a traditional approach to its subject matter.

PC's in this are going to range from anything resembling the Justice League or the Avengers to something straight out of Dead pool. The system is easily capable of producing all of this and much, much more.
Here's what your PC's might look like from a recent OE blog entry.
Supernatural Super-Agent (7th level)
Str 11 (0), Int 9 (0), Wis 18 (+3), Dex 28 (+6), Con 11 (0), Cha 20 (+4)

Class Abilities: Assassin, Dark Fighting, Surprise Attack.
Powers: Projectile Fire, Psychic Weapon, Super Charisma, Super Dexterity, Superior Intangibility, Super Jumping. Features: Danger Sense, Heightened Smell, +2 Wisdom.
Gifts: 1 Gadget Point, Paragon.
Limits: Bound (serve the Shadow Hounds); Depowered by Holy Symbols and Sanctified Ground.
Issues: Duty
Gadgets: “Shadowcloak” (wearable gadget: Teleport).
Equipment: Ballistic body suit, 3 smoke grenades.

HP 39. EP 9. AC 21.

Ghost Blood is a member of the Wraith Brotherhood, an order of magical assassin/martial artists who walk the path between life and death. He can walk through walls, track like a bloodhound and conjure a psychic sword or fire darts made of his own blood!

But the question really is, is Guardians a playable and viable system, what is the differences between this retroclone and other super hero games on the market currently? Well, yes this is a system that has ton going for it. First of all this a one time game and download, everything you need to play this game is straight out of the gate in the pdf and print book that is coming from Lulu in the near future. The book has some amazingly nice systems built in that allows for a wide range of easily customizated  PC super hero options. You can take a look at the sample of the Power Wielder  class here

I think that Guardians! brings some very powerful tools to the table for a DM and his players to use, I can see this system being used for anything from old school science fiction to pure dungeon busting. The system is flexible, cagey, smart and easily used across the board. Guardians is well thought out and balanced within its own system. But its insidious like White Star in some respects because its too flexible and easy to slip into a campaign subverting adventures and well established games. That being said its well worth your time and download.

I don't want to like this game because it is far too easy to slip Guardians! into the back door of a campaign or an existing campaign to begin running a supers game. There are ton of random charts and tables as well as advice for running an on the fly game. This is a very well done gaming system and there's lots of room to DYI in your own favorite super hero setting or more. I think though that Guardians is its own self enclosed super heroes system and dungeon masters should be extra careful when using it. As they say with great power comes great dungeon master responsibility. Grab this game and then use it to run one shots and convention sets until you and your players decide how to use it. Guardians! is a great supers game and very well written with lots of great artwork throughout the game. Grab this game tonight or when it comes on sale, personally I'm waiting until this game crops up on Lulu. I want a print copy yesterday.
There is already a G+ community with support right over here.

Some errata and errors are already being found but these are very minor issues.

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