Kickstart That GEEK! Neon Sanctum RPG

Title

I feel like I’ve got my finger on the pulse of these Card Based RPGs man!  This is the second one I’ve done a write-up on in less than two months!  Better yet, I actually got to play this one, but more on that later.  Lets get right into Neon Sanctum shall we?

The World

Setting

Neon Sanctum is set in the far flung future and if I had to compare the feel of the game’s lore I’d go equal parts Numenera, Shadowrun, and Gamma World.  We have a society that has seen a collapse of its golden age of technology into a world run by Megacorporations that all vie for control of what little Golden Age tech is still lying around and use said tech to create more and more marketable items to continue to grow their stature.  Typically the players in the game might end up working for or against one (or more) of these Uber Corporations, or they may even end up just trying to eek out a survival in the wastelands.  Oh, and they’re mutants too, like big troll guys!

The game is very cyberpunk meets apocalyptic.  This can result in some wide variety of interesting adventure schemes, makes it easy for a GM to shake things up. 

THE LOOK

The Look 01

The Grenade Punch Games crew sent me a sample deck of cards so I got to see first hand what the finished product will look like and it’s quality stuff.  Good stock for the cards and the artwork is well drawn.  Early on I labored under the impression that the cards looked a little messy but I soon learned that once you’ve learned the flow of the game they are actually set up in a very logical order.  I found myself breezing through the boxes of text whenever I would use a particular skill. 

The Look 02

Though I’ve only seen the artwork meant for the book and box online it appears to be of the same caliber.  The layout of the Play-Test rules that I had on hand to work with the cards was very detailed and almost a bit much.  Explanations got a bit heady and hopefully the finished product explains the game a bit better, it is plain to see that playing the game is (at least for the time being ) the easiest way to parse it.  It’s honestly an easy game to “get” once you do.

 

PLAYING THE GAME

I was fortunate enough to get to play this game before doing this write-up.  I was even more fortunate in whom I was able to play it with.  I played in a game run by none other than Adam Waite, one half of the creative team for Neon Sanctum, and a few fellows brought in by the RPG Academy team.  Caleb(@TheCalebG) from RPG Academy ran the podcast and we were joined by Matthew Parody(@MattParody) and Jon Serritos (@Renakku) as well.  I was a bit nervous going in, not because I was playing with people I’d never met (that ship sailed long ago), but mostly because I’d had a bit of trouble trying to understand the game up to that point.  If I’m to be honest I’d only taken about an hour to skim the material though.  Thankfully Mr. Waite walked us all through a quick run down of the rules and it just clicked, this game is pretty dang easy I was certainly over thinking it.

The Look

The cards you have are essentially your character sheet, any and all of them are available for use right away.  All the rules for using a card are found on the actual card and there are only a few extra “all-encompassing” rules that help make the whole game function.  Once you know the overall rules of the game you can easily make out what cards to use for certain situations.  One aspect of the game I really enjoy is the flexibility allowed for using cards.  Most every card has a specific role for use within combat but when you are out of combat they become useful in a more generic way based on the type of skill they are.  That way you can use the additional bonuses granted to your roll (this game utilizes two d10’s) by being a little creative in using a card.

Combat itself allows for a lot of versatility as well, in fact there are a lot of things you can do with one turn.  Without getting too technical the four big things you can do are deciding whether to Sustain something, choosing an Attack Style, a Defence Style, and your movement.  Instead of just having a static list of things you can choose to do you actually allocate points (that refresh at the start of every turn) so you can choose where to put the most emphasis but you can still do it all.  It seems like this would lead to lengthy turns, an issue all too often problematic with another Tactical RPG I recall (4th Edition D&D) but we found ourselves flying through turns pretty quick once we got the shake of it.

LET’S TALK OVERALL LIKEABILITY & KICKSTARTER COST

I really had a fun time with this game and earnestly hope you will give it a good look. The Kickstarter’s fund point is crazy low too, only £12,000, so it’s likely to make it.  I’m in full-bore, I’ve backed at the following level (My assessment of the best value):

Core Box

CORE BOX

£34 (Roughly $50.00)

Get the complete Neon Sanctum Game. Over 300 cards, a Rulebook, tokens, battle maps and dice. Enough for four players and a DM to play the game.

Backers also get the Print and Play and may purchase products from the add-on list for the amount listed.

A Solid value for a lot of good product.  If you think about it most RPGs have you spending $50 for just a Rulebook so this is easily a bang for your buck. 

Neon Sanctum has the old world tech of Numenera, the Mega Corporations of Shadowrun, and a touch of the goofy fun of Gamma World. It brings all of that together into a fast paced, fun tactical card based RPG that offers players and GM’s a ton of versatility in play style and world lore. My favorite Card Based RPG to date.  Hopefully you’ll check it out, and there are a few ways to do so.

The Kickstarter
The Website
The Play-test Kit

I’ll be sure to post the link to the Podcast of my play through with Adam Waite and the RPG Academy folks soon!  In the meantime, check the game out. My money’s in the pot, I want this thing to fund!

-Melvs

This Unleashed RPG Adventurer Kit Was Involved in a Car Wreck & You Won’t BELIEVE What Was Pulled From the Wreckage!!

Clickbaity enough for ya? Thought so. The story is true though. My family and I were involved in a fairly substantial car accident merely a day after receiving my review copy of this game.  We are fine (the car isn’t) but I was also pretty impressed with the fairly limited damage done to this solid hunk of gaming!  I mean, it was at the impact point, perhaps it even absorbed an outrageous amount of the blow, just maybe… it saved our lives!.. Okay that last one stretched things a bit, still, kudos on Privateer Press for crafting such a stalwart game.

Only a mite roughed up!

Only a mite roughed up!

Anyway, on to the actual review.

The Unleashed RPG Adventure Kit!  More Fun Than You Could Shake a Half-Gnawed Severed Limb At!

I should have lead with this title.

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I know somewhere on this blog I’ve mentioned a love for Privateer Press’ Iron Kingdoms RPG, despite never doing a full on review of the system, and if I haven’t I know I’ve lauded it on my favorite social media platforms.  With a rule-set modeled after their equally fun tabletop wargamming platform Warmachine, you find yourself dropped into a surprisingly easy to parse strategic fighting RPG with a rich backdrop of lore.  The Iron Kingdoms Core Rulebook introduced players to warring kingdoms of people we find a bit more familiar; Humans, Elves, Dwarves, etc. all vying for power in civilized lands constantly at war using both powerful majicks and technology.  Metal on metal fantasy full scale warfare.

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We aren’t here to talk about civilized lands though, we’re here to talk about the wilder lands of Western Immoren.  Unleashed will be a companion rule-book, fully compatible with the one that proceeded it, but will detail the sentient creatures of the wilds of Western Immoren.  Just prior to its release though we have this surprising little gem show up, the RPG Adventure Kit. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard this was coming out a month or two before the full on Core Rulebook but I was willing to give it a try, especially because it was going to come with some Minis.

THE LOOK

My experience with “kits” lately has been limited to the D&D Starter Set for 5th Edition, something I’m in the process of using to introduce a few kids to D&D.  The Starter Set is very much worth the dollar figure, roughly $12 on Amazon, but as that’s a rather low price point you don’t get too much.  A rough set of rules, an O.K. adventure, a few pre-gens, and some dice.  Certainly serviceable, I’m still using it after all, but nothing really catches the eye to draw in new players in my opinion.

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This boxed set though?  Everything catches the eye. Privateer Press held nothing back and has come nowhere near doing a slipshod job when putting together this introduction to Unleashed.  The first thing you notice when opening are some punch out tiles with terrain printed on them.  You think there’s a few for garnishment but then you keep pulling tiles out and realize that you’ve got tiles for days man!  Every single one has an image on both sides too effectively doubling the already impressive amount of terrain you can use.  The Rulebook and Scenario are both very appealing to the eye and the character booklets are huge four page spreads that really detail who you’ve chosen in both art and letter.  They round things out with a fist-full of excellent minis for use with the Scenario provided, a simple set of six-siders, and lastly, the only thing I scratched my head at, a truly pathetic ruler (had to have been added as an afterthought).

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Look at this ruler… I mean, I know people should own better ones but bleh

The artwork keeps in theme with every product put out by Privateer Press in this world, I’m glad I like it because they are consistent.  With Unleashed they get to play around with the brutal nature of the game and really craft some nice looking characters.  Sadly there isn’t much art in the actual books but they do have a bit more than other kits I’ve seen.

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PLAYABILITY

I’m already a fan of the system. As mentioned before it’s very similar to the Wargaming system it’s spurned from so there is hardly any gap in playability for those familiar with Warmachine and Hordes.  Unleashed is the “Hordes” version of the RPG system so it is is incredibly brutal.  You have characters that use body parts for food, or even to spruce up armor.  The world of Unleashed is very much a survival of the fittest landscape and I think that lends a lot of fun to the players of the game.  Killing a foe and eating their flesh isn’t an evil act, it’s an act of survival.  In fact I’d be surprised if there’s a GM who’d even consider worrying about the alignment of characters in this dangerous setting.

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The scenario provided with this game does a good job of explaining why all of these denizens of the wilds would form an unlikely partnership.  Much like it’s predecessor you need to do such things as this world can easily slip into a faction-like mindset where it might be odd to see a Bogg Trogg working with Gatorman but when the four characters in this setting want to move against a powerful enemy differences, and appetites, are set aside and respect for ability sets in. The scenario offers up five large scenes and to me it looks like it would take roughly two to three nights to play it out.  A nice caveat is added at the end to describe some possible continuation adventures.

So, I’m very impressed with the Scenario provided.  No corners were cut and the punch out landscapes will go a long way in setting the stage, not to mention you can use those punch outs for some Hordes fighting in the future.  The character pre-gens are all very flavorful and players will have a blast role-playing their brutality.  If you want though the streamlined Rulebook provided with the game will help you craft new Player Characters.  Other rules set out in the book do the job of explaining how to play very well.

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I already knew I was going to be a fan of the Unleashed Core book but I’m pretty surprised how much I like this RPG kit. The best thing about it has to be the tile pieces and the miniatures though, once your players have done the scenario no matter how good it is there’ll never be a really good reason to run it for them again.  The physical stuff though?  That will keep and can be used for Unleashed adventures for years to come.  My advice is to get both Unleashed and the Kit if you can.  If you have to choose between the two I’d lean Core Book, but that’s me.  Take care folks!

Pre-Order the Kit

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I mean, I say Id lean Core Book… BUT LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF!!