Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: Human(ish) by Arion Games

When I found out that Graham Bottley, of Arion Games, had released a RPG where you play monsters, warlocks, and psychics powered by the FASERIP retroclone (the rules engine for TSR's Marvel Super Heroes RPG), I knew I had to check it out.

And I wasn't disappointed.

While the game admits to being inspired by the BBC show Being Human and White Wolf/Onyx Path's World of Darkness, I found it to be more inspired by our own folk lore and myth when presenting the creatures you play.

Human(ish) allows you to play vampires, werewolves, fey, warlocks, ghosts, ghouls, psychics and immortals.

If your familiar with any FASERIP game, you already know the Abilities: Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intuition, and Psyche.  Health and Wealth are also there, but Popularity and has essentially been replaced by Soul.  Each type of supernatural has a pool similar to Karma, that may be spent for specific benefits.

The rules of the game are untouched as well, except for the old Green/Yellow/Red results changing to Bronze/Silver/Gold (which I like).

Characters are made by adding 2d10 together and determining your initial rank in your Abilities and Wealth.  Soul is determined by the type of character you are.  One thing I found to be odd was that Character Creation doesn't appear until Chapter Five.

Each character gets a Background of their choice, which is comprised of four skills (each skill grants a +1 Column Shift).

The final step of creating a character is choosing your Supernatural Origin, which lets you increase Ability scores, grants you powers and restrictions.

I found each type of supernatural interesting and intriguing.

Vampires: Drink the blood of their victims, but if they don't drain them completely they cannot feed on them again, as the blood tastes foul.  When someone is drained completely they arise as a vampire 12 hours later.  All vampires can control emotions, are physically tougher, can regenerate, have infravision, and can change into a bat (all supernaturals  have X number of Ranks to increase their powers).  And while sunlight is uncomfortable, it doesn't destroy them and they may work and function during the day.  They lose Soul by feeding, but have a Blood rating that they may use to increase Ability scores, go into a rage, appear more human, and turn into mist.

Werewolves: These lycanthropes are infected with an uncurable disease and are forced to transform into a huge wolf on the three nights of the full moon.  However, they may change also change and forth at will, but they have reduced intelligence and an insatiable hunger.  They have powers of danger sense, regeneration, superb senses, vicious fangs and claws, and are super fast as runners and fighters.  Their only restrictions are that they must change during the full moon and the insatiable hunger that overcomes them whenever they change.  Eating prey gives the werewolf a pool which may raise Abilities or allow them to go into a frenzy.

Fey: Are those that have been abducted and return by faeries.  The are frightened of and human contact and may control human emotions, craft illusions, manipulate probability, fly, and control darkness.  The restrictions they face are unique and most stem from when they were taken and when they were returned.  For instance, someone take in 1929 will be in awe of this strange new world and not really have any material or interpersonal resources when they arrive. Fey have a desire to connect to the world and may steal Soul from others and place them in a Kindred pool, but that action also weighs heavily upon them and costs them Soul.  They may use Kindred to increase Abilities, open a doorway between two points or instill agony in any foes that surround them.

Warlock: These are people who have made an infernal bargain, their soul for power.  They may blast their enemies, be served by a demonic creature, control machinery, create force fields, and bestow curses.  Their restrictions are they are weary of entering holy ground and have their powers diminished there and must answer to their infernal master.  They may sacrifice their Soul stat to gain Mana, which they use to increase Ability scores and instill fear.

Ghost: Are those who linger after their death.  They are ethereal and can phase though objects, maymake themselves visible, fly, teleport, and are telekinetic.  Their restriction is that they are a ghost.  They lose Soul when they move closer to "moving on", which in essence means they can gain Afterlife by sacrificing Soul. Afterlife may used to increase Abilities, behave like a poltergeist and manifest physically.

Ghoul: Are the souless dead, whose bodies remain here, where they eat the flesh of the newly dead.  Since they are dead they don't need to eat, drink, or breathe and are physically very tough, they regenerate, and have superior senses.  Their restrictions come from their existence as souless carrion hunters, making their ability to socialize very difficult.  They lose Soul when they eat a dead body, however it provides them with a pool of Flesh points that allows the to increase Ability scores, knit their own flesh and acquire knowledge.

Psychic: You were born with a sixth sense or may move objects with your mind.  Psychics can choose four powers from the following list: astral projection, danger sense, spirit detection, ESP, telekinesis, mentally blast someone, mentally shield themselves from a psychic assault, postcognition, precogntion, or telepathy.  Their restrictions are that they are only human.  They lose Soul by spending it for Psychic Energy, which is a pool they use to increase Abilities, create a mental beacon or focus their power.

Immortals:  Adults who have stopped aging, are extremely tough and are immune to disease.  They face no great restrictions and lose Soul by witnessing or causing a terrible act.  However, those atrocities power their need for Revenge which they may use to increase Abilities, stun their enemies with a scream of ages, or get payback against a foe.

The setting is mostly left up to each GM, but there is some advice on playing yourself.

Overall, I think this is a fine FASERIP game that uses the strengths of the system, remembers its superpowered roots, but forces you to make hard decisions and face dark questions. 

I recommend this game.

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