'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Modern Age: Print Edition.

Over the past few weeks I have been delving into the new Expanse RPG by Green Ronin Publishing. When it was Kickstarted we learned it would be based on Green Ronin's Modern AGE, a ruleset for modern adventures based on their AGE system.

I wanted to pick up the rules and looked at the PDF on drivethrurpg, but ultimately I ended up ordering directly from Green Ronin in order to get a copy of the printed rules. For me PDFs have a place but to learn and read a system, very little beats a physical book.

My copy of the physical rules showed up yesterday and I wanted to share my initial thoughts of the book itself and in the coming weeks maybe delve a little deeper into my thoughts on the system itself since it is what the Expanse is based upon.


So first up is the volume itself. Looks good, nice cover, hardback edition of the rules. Nothing to complain about here, a solid first impression of the book.

Despite being shipped with a large amount of packing material in an undamaged box far larger than the book, I still had a little damage due to shipping from somewhere along the line.

Not ideal but not a deal breaker for me. One of the hazards of ordering on-line. I will note the game was shipped from Alliance Distributors, not from Green Ronin itself.

It's possible I could launch a complaint and maybe even get a new book, but this one works and the damage is so minor to me that pursuing that line is a waste of my time.



These next two images are just a couple of quick screenshots from the interior of the book. Nothing new for me here as I have seen the pdf. However I will say the paper seems high quality. It doesn't feel cheap. However the binding leaves me uncertain, some places in the book it feels tight and in others loose. That is to say I can lay the book open on some pages and not on others. I am not sure it will fall apart, it just gives me a little pause.

Art wise I like it but don't love it. I love some of it, but not all of it. They do list twelve interior artists so it's possible I just like some of their skills more than others. I believe this is simply a personal preference. It is well executed and in full color. Nothing to complain about.

Throughout the book are a series of color coding geared to take the game through it's three flavors: Gritty, Pulpy and Cinematic. I think it is a nice way to lay out these options that is clear, concise and immediately tells the reader that this is a place where we can change the overall feel for the game. Even with the color coding each entry is clearly labelled as to what it represents.

This page is detailing character advancement over the course of the game based on these three styles of play, but there are also entries on how damage is applied etc.



The book has a two page index which appears to be comprehensive, although I have not used it so I can't actually confirm how comprehensive it is at this time. Either way it is better than not having an index at all, a direction some publishers have chosen.
Finally we have a few pages of character sheets and quick reference and initiative sheets for players and NPCs. The character sheet is plain and maybe a little unimaginative, but for a generic system that makes some sense. It is ALSO easy to ready and reference.

To better understand my opinions of the book I have summarized it over a few metrics, scored out of 5.

  • First impression: 85%. Good solid book.
  • Book quality: 85%. High quality paper, good cover. I am not 100% convinced of the binding.
  • Organization: 90%. I like how it is organized. It seems clear. It has an index.
  • Art: 80% The art is good, but for me, not mind blowing.


FOUR SKULLS OF MY ENEMIES!

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