by Nicholas HM Caldwell
is a modern-day superheroes game, written and designed by Matt Forbeck
and initially published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. It is a 224-page
hardback volume, lavishly illustrated with full-color and black and white
"comic book" artwork.
comic books and graphic novels don't hold any great appeal for me, and
I've never before been tempted into the superhero role-playing genre,
so I found Brave
to be a very pleasant surprise. The world is the key hook.
"brave new world" is a mirror of our own which diverged during the First
World War when an American soldier discovered his superpowers on the battlefields
of Flanders. During the 1920s and 1930s, more "deltas" (superpowered humans)
appeared, both heroes and villains. The Second World War involved combat
between deltas on a grand scale, and the first "alpha" (or delta's delta)
was created in the hell of Auschwitz. Hitler was personally killed by
an alpha. History then continues with some subtle twists until 1963 when
a band of superpowered terrorists kill First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and
injure President John F Kennedy. JFK's reaction is a declaration of martial
law and the "Delta Registration Act", which compels all people with delta
and alpha powers to be registered. Failure to register is a crime punishable
by imprisonment in a delta-proof high security prison. Registered deltas
are liable to be conscripted at any time to perform missions for Delta
Prime, a government agency with dubious motives and unpleasant methods.
Life for deltas just goes downhill from then on to the present day. Only
one hope remains for the home of the free - Defiance, a motley collection
of underground and on-the-run deltas dedicated to the removal of JFK from
his permanent Presidency and restoring the American dream. The history
and the outlook for deltas in present-day America is all narrated from
the perspective of a hunted delta in a racy, gripping journalistic style.
characters in Brave
have Traits, Skills, Quirks, a Power Package and Tricks. There are only
four Traits - Smarts, Speed, Spirit, and Strength - but as each Trait
is associated with a substantial number of skills, Trait scores must be
assigned with care. The number of points assigned to a Trait determines
the number of skill points available for purchasing skills in that group.
Tricks are perhaps the most interesting facet of the skill system - starting
characters can buy up to three tricks, which may be for superpowers, skill
tricks, or combat tricks. When a character succeeds in making an attack
by more than the required amount, for instance, a combat trick such as
Ricochet can be used to bounce a ranged attack from one target to another.
Quirks can be both positive and negative, representing status, contacts,
physical and mental (dis)advantages, duties, and so on.
superheroes game is nothing without superpowers. Each character can choose
one and only one power package. Each power package is bought as a unit
and comprises several related powers. In other superhero role-playing
games, the superpowers for a character are put together by the player
favors an "off-the-shelf" approach which is arguably much less prone to
the munchkinism which can plague the other games. There are ten power
packages presented, ranging from the Bouncer through the Flyer and Gadgeteer
to Healer and Speedster - more are promised in the supplements. Each of
the power packages are balanced with respect to the others. By cleverly
requiring that Gadgeteers must maintain their outr eacute; devices as
opposed to just being able to build them, the game cannot be dominated
by weird gizmos. For a quick start to the game, ten ready-made characters
basic game mechanic in Brave
is the "dice pool" using six-sided dice. Roll a set of six-sided dice,
and pick the highest result. If a six is rolled, keep the six and roll
again adding the new result. The aim is always to beat a target number.
Beating the target number by five or more allows a trick to be activated.
Failure is more difficult to recognize as it requires the majority of
the dice to be "ones" and overrides any "sixes" that have been rolled.
This is the only bit of the base mechanics that jars with me; the rest
is an important aspect of Brave
Rounds last five seconds with initiative determined by the characters'
Speed traits, and the Speed score determining how many actions a combatant
can perform in a given round. Shooting an enemy is simple, just beat the
target number. Want to shoot a foe with burst fire? Just add another die
for every extra bullet, and deliver an extra hit for each success above
the target number. Want a called shot to your opponent's head or his guns? Just
increase the target number. Want to dodge out of the way of a speeding
bullet? Use up a held action or forfeit a later action. Finding out the
location of a successful hit and determining the damage are a couple of
easy dice rolls. Working out what that damage means in terms of wounds
is a little more involved in that the character's size determines how
many wounds actually result. Armour can both deflect damage and absorb
wounds. If the armour absorbs too many wounds, it is destroyed. If the
character takes too many wounds in a given location, unconsciousness,
maiming or death can result. A few practice runs are needed to get this
process down pat. Characters can die in this game, so take care.
last section of Brave
is the Guide's Handbook with the mandatory guidelines on how to gamemaster
campaign, help the players to create a team of delta heroes, and tips
on how to handle "Extras" (NPCs) of both minor and major importance. Various
secret behind-the-scenes knowledge, concerning political events and the
true state of affairs in the world, are revealed here. It is hinted that
future supplements will reveal further secrets, but the degree of concealment
is neither as widespread nor as overt as 7th
say. To help with scenario building, a short selection of the "Usual Suspects"
is provided. They are typical foes with typical statistics, including
the water-breathing Aquarians, the armoured troopers of Delta Prime, and
combines sensible, lightweight mechanics with a familiar, yet subtly exotic
world. The setting is imbued with sufficient conflict to draw any group
of player-characters into a suitably heroic campaign, and it need not
be a straight fight between JFK's government and the Defiance, either.
Supplements have already been published or are in the pipeline for the
world perspective (Ravaged
the Defiance movement (Defiants),
Delta Prime, Triumph Inc. (a corporation of deltas), and Evil Unlimited
(an underworld organization dedicated to supplying the tools of destruction).
If you're looking for a superhero role-playing game with sound rules and
a ready-made world, pay a visit to Brave
Note: Brave New World is published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Their
contact details are as follows:
Pinnacle Entertainment Group
P.O. Box 10908
Blacksburg, VA 24062-0908
can buy this product through our affiliate GreatGames in the UK. Click
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