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Airship Daedalus: Retro Rulp Adventure Roleplaying Paperback – January 25, 2016
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First is the book itself. It is gorgeous. Bright and vivid just like the pulps of old (in fact it includes snippets of old pulp comics, plus a few of the Airship Daedalus web comic) with an intuitive layout. It is also nicely self-contained with plenty of material beyond the basic rules and character creation. Potential settings, missions, npcs and organizations give you great world building blocks for your campaigns. And of course there is a strong bestiary and a great equipment list that includes vehicles both practical and fantastic. (And yes I am talking about rocket packs. Rocket packs, people!) And Airship Daedalus casts a wide pulp net so the fantastic extends to psychic, magic and spiritual powers as well.
Second is the character creation. God, the character creation is so much fun. It is intuitive first of all and not beholden to classes and alignments. You can create the character you want with the skills you want and not get bogged down in whether it is appropriate for a priest to take points in Seduction. But the true strength of the character creation is in the Liabilities and Behavior Tags sections. These allow you to generate an extra pool of starting skill points (or some nifty Assets) at some cost to your character. It could be bad luck or a bad sense or a fear or a delusion or a stutter or a nervous fidget or a curse or so many more. Most of them come with penalties to various skill checks (like Ugly has a penalty to Seduction and Social rolls) so there is plenty of strategy in determining what is worth which penalty. Plus it gives you so much to role play. In one afternoon I created 2 characters. The first is a psychic detective who thinks he is the last descendant of Ghengis Khan, is afraid of spiders and sings The Heebie Jeebies when nervous. The second is a sharp shooting smuggler who is a fanatical communist with a deep intolerance for the wealthy and a run of bad luck. And you get all of that before game play even starts. Wheee!
Third is the XPG system. This skill check system is straightforward and intuitive. (I've used that word a lot with reason.) The default system is 2D6 though I prefer the D12 variant. Your Stat (like Agility or Perception) plus your skill (like Stealth or Awareness) equals your target number. Roll equal to or less than your target number and you succeed. In combat and other cases the margin of success determines the strength of the outcome. No separate rolls for damage. Snakes eyes equals awesome and doubles your success margin and boxcars equals bad and now you're in for it. I have played the XPG system as game master and as player and in both cases its simplicity is welcome as it frees up more time and energy for role playing. (Make an Awareness check. Ok I missed it by 1 but I do have a +1 for hearing so that succeeds. All right, you hear voices to the side but cannot make out the shadowy shapes. And away we go.)
Full disclosure, I am a friend of the creator and gave him feedback on some drafts. But I can honestly say I would be just as giddy over this game if I just happened upon it. (Don't believe me? Then buy the game and prove me wrong!)
Fantastic world building, fun character creation and intuitive game play make Airship Daedalus a must for RPG fans and a great starting point for the RPG curious. Do yourself a favor and check it out