Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Interface Zero review

            This RPG uses the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition, which is required to play. No additional material is required, though some new expansions are being released, such as Zeeks (the psionic supplement), and the recently released Boston world hot spot book. Produced by GunMetal Games, in print and PDF format.

First Glance:
This is cyberpunk pure and simple, from the cover to the interior artwork, sleek, dirty, deadly. A Quick glance shows it’s an almost 300 page Hardcover book; black & white interior, mid-grade paper, with a solid binding.

Main Review:
As a setting for Savage Worlds, it requires the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition to play. 

The timeline is 2088, the first chapter is a fairly detailed timeline of how the dystopic world of Interface Zero came to pass. Approximately 80% of the population have a TAP installed, a cybernetic interface that allows you to see the hyper-reality which exists almost every where. The holographic screens in Minority Report are an example of what this reality might look like. Everything is wired in to this system, keypads, billboards, etc, certain areas might have a themed view, for example, a high end bar that uses the TAP to look like you’re in Valhalla, being served by Valkyrie.

The setting is vast, spanning the entire Earth in addition to the new galactic colonies. The main creative writer must have done his research as to future technologies, from the virtual overlay in the world to the rise of arcologies (a cyberpunk trope), this setting has it all, hacking, virtual worlds, even armed pizza delivery subscription. Races span from the plain vanilla human, the genetically engineered Human 2.0, an android, genetically engineered hybrids, and in true Blade Runner tradition, simulacra.

The great addition to the rules in this setting is the Cybernetics. Normally in Savage Worlds, a cybernetic upgrade would cost you an advance, which is fine if you want to keep them balanced with other powers. But with all the cyber-reapers out there, you’d lose an advance if someone stole your chrome. In Interface Zero, each piece of chrome increases your chances of cyber-trauma, depending on the quality of your chrome. If you’re a decked out Ronin sporting copious amounts of gutterware, your life expectancy will tend to be…short yet costly. The basis of the rules is that on a vigor roll you will have to roll cybertrauma if you roll a natural one or snake-eyes, that triggers a cybertrauma roll, which can result in various consequences, from nothing to massive feedback that causes incapacitation and breaks a piece of cyberware.

One of my personal favorites in the game is that MMORPGs are built-in, allowing you to play other games inside the game itself, perhaps the mercs have to defeat a legendary gunfighter in Deadlands to get his silver plated pistol which actually has information coded into it, yet the only way to defeat the gunfighter is to hack the system to find out his weakness.

Artwork: Excellent. Black & white art that evokes perfect imagery of this sleek yet dirty future.

Replay Value: Excellent, as an RPG, replay is typically good. The setting provides enough information to provide for hundreds of games all over the world.

Comprehension Level: Excellent. The additional rules are well written and easy to understand.

Humor: Some humor, but it’s a dark and dangerous setting, so it’s more dark humor.

Game Mastering: Excellent. There’s a 35 page game master section, which gives the GM excellent tips on running the system in addition to numerous tables to keep your players on their toes, and waiting for the next big score.

Family Rating: PG-13/R, This is a dark setting as I said, it deals with drugs, slavery, prostitution and even darker criminal activity. While you could run a toned down campaign for younger players, I don’t recommend the book for the innocent.

Price Tag:
This will set you back $39.99 MSRP for Print or PDF (price at time of writing is $11.20 on RPGNow). Zeeks is normally $8.99 ($6.29) and Boston: Broken Cradle of Liberty $9.99 ($6.99). In addition a free Adventure “The Prodigal” is available for download.   A Second adventure, The Package, is available for $1.25 ($ .88)

Value: Well worth the money, with all the information contained, and the rule additions, this setting is a great value.

Overall Rating: EPIC! If you enjoy cyberpunk settings, this is an excellent one.
Interface Zero (Savage Worlds)