Friday, June 1, 2012

Review - Hostile Takeover (Interface Zero)

Sorry, taking longer than normal to write this one, the full review is now complete.

Been a while since I posted a review, so Dave over at GunMetalGames comped a review copy of Hostile Takeover to me, which I always love since I'm a fan of Interface Zero, and GMG puts out some nice product. 

Hostile Takeover (Interface Zero (Savage Worlds)

First Glance 
First and foremost it appears that GMG has been reading the reviews on the previous products. There's still plenty of great art, but only one full-sized piece of artwork. In addition the layout has been simplified, making for a little less content, but a lot easier to peruse.

Main Review
I was a little skeptical at first, playing on the business side of MegaCorps, then I thought, wait, if I the GM am playing the business side, that will give me lots more options of what to throw against players, and if they decide to start a business of their own what would happen? Let's see what's in here shall we?

The book is divided into two main sections, and orientation section for new employees, including a biz-speak section, so you can really feel like you're an 80s power broker! ("Don't you worry about blank, let me worry about blank...")

In this Welcome New Employee section, a hacker named Tetsubo has left new hires commentary in the file.
The most interesting thing we see in this part is the fact that "The Company" in question is a Christian company as it's part of the NAC. Showing that religious companies are fairly common in the NAC. Biz-Speak is a pretty fun section as the "Dazzle them with Bulls**t" sidebar indicates. The section drops into how skills can be used differently in an office environment. An example being Gambling for betting pools. Tweaks on Edges and Hindrances, such as Big Mouth (minor), being (major) in a corporate environment because letting company secrets out can land your a** in the lock-up, or taking a leap off the top of the building in an assisted suicide. Also added is the Knowledge (Business) skill.

Some useful new hindrances and edges are presented. Black-Listed, Compassionate, Dependance (major/minor), Freelancer/Consultant, Jinx,  NDA (yeah Non-disclosure agreement...), Out of your League, and lastly  Owned, this one is great for other stuff, like people who want way more than the standard chrome, you mave have gotten a lot of debt, and now you're 'owned' by the MegaConglom like an indentured servant of old.(This will work great for Juicers and Full Borgs in my Rifts conversion.) Most of these are edges hindrances which make sense outside the office with a little tweaking. Some interesting new edges, so you've got cash from being Rich or Noble...but where's that dynastic power? Trust Fund Baby and Improved Trust Fund Baby, bring you that fame that a well-known name brings. Rainmaker is the good-luck of corporate life, good things happen for the business when this guy's involved. Three Combat edges make this supplement pretty sweet for non-Corp games. Fire Team drill (bonuses for combat teams well versed in working with each other...AKA, watch out Legends, those 20 SWAT officers are still dangerous.) Non-Lethal Take-down and its improved version can be handy for pretty much any SW game, especially for pacifists, or games where killing someone might have some legal ramifications.

Most of the Leadership feats are very oriented to this setting, Management Material, Dedicated Focus, Promote from Within, Inspirational Speech, Protege,  and Master Planner.

Two new weird edges have some coolness to them. Hound let's the weird individual sense Zeeks (psychics), this one is perfect for certain Stalkers of Psions in Savage Rifts. Monstrous lets the player take a 'monstrous' ability, I think out of the monster section (I'll have to clarify with GMG). FIVE new professional edges are in this section as well. I always love professional edges, it's one thing to have an archetype idea, it's another to have some mechanics to go along with that meme. Infiltrator, Social Engineer, Security Specialist, Street Rat and the Business Wizard.

There's a 2 page section on Expense accounts, which works well to make the company pay for stuff you need, however you push too far, and you might get the sack when they audit you!

Speaking of expense accounts, the Malmart catalog includes: Armored Executive clothing, look good and kill em in the boardroom! I luckily wasn't drinking my tea when I came upon the L'il Mogul sleepware, it's an ARMORED ONESIE FOR BABIES!!!! HAH! Brilliant and Hilarious! Hah, the next section is the Useless Sh*t section, execs are always buying crap they don't need....this should cover that.

A good offense is just as important as a good defense in 2088, so you might find a monofilament sword-cane to your liking for maybe a briefcase gun (aggressive sales pitch with the artwork on this page as well). Need a little more punch but don't want to suffer any cyber trauma? Go for portable versions, making any type of cyber ware into a hand held/worn version, Cyber Eye Goggles for example. Watch out for Riot Gel Mines in offices which prefer to prosecute over execute, non-lethal mines, that'll leave a mark. Going out for a night on the town, grab some Pheromones, equally as effective in the board room. In the business world, missing deadlines isn't an option; the legal drug, Redline, is sometimes used by Managers to pull some serious OT, at the expense of the workers.

When you sign your life away to work for a corp, what you didn't read the fine print? You might be required to install certain programs on your tap that censor what you see and hear, from news to nudity to the boss and the secretary, if it's programmed that you can't see it, That Tap-Soft program won't let you see it. With behavioral Software and Selectivity Software installed, you've given your soul to the Company.

Let's face it, executive privilege makes lots of enemies, so you need to have security beyond the bodyguards. You can go for the Basic Security package or increase it,  using advanced tech which even keeps out Zeeks. Travel in safety and style in the Warhawk VTOL or the Stealthy, Ford 'Phantom' Hover Limo.

As we slip into the second part of the manual, it gives a quick synopsis of what makes a good Corporate game, this is very important, because sitting in an office 10 hours a can is very, very not fun. Let me repeat that. Sitting in an office 10 hours a can is very, very not fun so why would we want to role-play that when we're trying to get away from work?  Here's the titles of the 'advice' bits: Focus on the Exceptional, GEt out of the Office, Keep them on their toes, Let them be in charge. Really this is just reiterating what makes good gaming to begin with; however due to the subject material, it is very fitting. Next up is mood, because you can imagine working for ToyLand R&D would be better than working at McBurger Headquarters right? So setting the mood is tantamount to a successful Corp game. Corporate Espionage, perhaps your group is working for a MegaConGlom, but you're there spying for another. Corporate Ops style game puts you characters in charge of the Corp.

Now what I see is, players running a Corporate Ops game, having the team be the head honchos and sending some scrubs out for a little Corporate Sabotage, now the scene shifts to the players running the Sabotage team, meanwhile with the main big hitters out int he field, the head honchos suddenly find out their own office is being raided....So the players can be running two separate, yet related, games in the same night. It also lets the characters REALLY call the shots on where the game is heading.

Next up, Corporate Trappings, the literal body and soul of the corp office, however, it includes game mechanics as well. A Vengeful Corp tends to seek vengeance on those that wronged the company. However they're not looked on too highly and others react poorly when dealing with members of this company. With 20 different trappings, including the "-ism" trapping there's lots of room to make each company feel different. The descriptions cover pages 23-31.

Next up is the C-7. Descriptions of the 7 most powerful corporations in the IZ world. Central Belarusian Steel, Chimera, Helios, LaCroix Organizational Agencies, New Frontier Enterprises, Subarashii Ltd. and Golden Promise, Inc. These are just the biggest, not all of them, plenty of room for growth. In fact, the C7 is more of a Big Boys club, as many other powerful corps aren't on the list.

Next up some Variant rules, Using Chase rules to simulate A Race to bring a product to Market versus a rival company (or even department). Or how about using the Mass Battle rules to simulate a Hostile Takeover..pretty clever way to use existing rules to cover a new situation with minimal fuss.

And of course, last but not least, NPCs, the following NPCs are presented in this book, Low-level and Elite Security, and their Wildcard Head of Secutiry. Office executives and lowly worker drones. Security drones however are a bit different than Worker drones, with two separate security drones, the Centurion Light Drone and the Huanfeng III, being used by corps to patrol their halls, pack some armor for your next raid, you don't know what the opposition is prepared for, so be on your toes.

Family Rating: Again, this supplement is for Interface Zero, it deals with murder, death, and drugs, Rated 13+ as far as I can tell.

Artwork: Again, full color interior are, only 1 full page print, which means more content, I can't complain about that.

Overall Rating: 19. I've seen mybe 3 typoes in this book, the rules are pretty solid and the fiction is good as well. GMG stepped up and listened to what others were reviewing for clarity of reading, let's hope it keeps up for the next supplements, especially the upcoming MalMart product!!

Hostile Takeover is available in PDF format from DrivethruRPG at the low cost of $7.99