Posted on January 9, 2012 by spikexan
Review: A Tale of Two Savages
Agents of Oblivion and Peculiar Pentad
It’s no secret I’m a fan of horror RPGs and Savage Worlds, which makes these two entries especially appealing. Agents of Oblivion suggests a world where Jason Bourne gets put into a blender with HP Lovecraft and turns out rather interesting results. With the Savaged version of Peculiar Pentad, readers are given five entrepreneurs who have uncovered a troublesome niche market–those seeking items attached to the Cthulhu Mythos. I’m thinking a 401K isn’t a worthwhile investment.
Let’s start with the meatier of the two, the Agents of Oblivion. This game isn’t too far removed from Abstract Nova’s Alethea, Green Ronin’s Delta Green, or (with a stretch) White Wolf’s Project Twilight sourcebook. Mankind has held secrets best left forgotten, secrets that catches the attention of . . . something . . . during the mid-19th Century. A line gets drawn in the sand and you play the super spies capable not only of dealing with the most dastardly of humans, but also those things that are a little bit more superhuman.
All in all, I wanted the story to have more punch than it did. The authors devoted a great deal of thought towards the organization and how to run games with this mix of spies and monsters. Too be clear, the characters are playing some seriously talented men and women. Whereas Delta Green kept it real and MORTAL, Agents of Oblivion gives your characters more than enough opportunity to shine. I think it’s important that the writers focused on this aspect rather than get bogged down by being too similar to previous works.
Another strength to the writing rests in its overhaul of the character creation process. In this book are the tools towards creating super spies (super isn’t just a catch phrase either . . . supernatural powers are possible in these pages). Players can play white bread humans who are just the best of the best or they can tweak things further by introducing magic or hi-tech to their characters. A large portion of the book is devoted to making the kinds of characters people want to play.
Another big part of the book rests with how to run games like these. How much magic do you want in your game? Technology? Plug in the correct tier from all the questions and you’ll know exactly where you stand when you start playing. Quick and easy . . . just like Savage Worlds demands!
The artwork worked for me. The creepy cover art may keep Bond away from a Martini, but that’s okay. It has the perfect tone to the work. The interior art is wonderfully wild. It’s a funky Sixties style that reminds me of the Mod Squad or Flower Power posters of the period.
The second book, Peculiar Pentad, is much slimmer, but gets to save space by tying itself to the Realms of Cthluhu line. The premise for this book is deviously simple: all of those kooks your Investigators run into when they are trying to kill or stop That Which I Don’t Feel Like Naming are running businesses that should, in theory, keep running past one adventure. Yes, the line of Magic Box owners in Buffy was depressingly high, but that’s really besides the point.
The authors offer a little advice towards the shops as a whole. One, they suggest making them difficult to locate the first time they are utilized. Second, they offer some reminders about the people who populate these locations. “If you guys bring another running gun fight in here, I’m cutting up your membership card!” Simple, sound advice. They also describe a fittingly named Pentagon Place, a little cul-de-sac of oddities. It’s the kind of place where White Wolf’s Goblin Markets would set up shop.
A bookstore, small machine shop, herb shop, an art gallery, and a social club make up the five businesses Keepers can bring into their campaigns. Each store offers a great deal of information–history, prices of services, stats for the owners, and use in gaslight or modern settings–that make these quick plug-ins to any game.
The artwork to this supplement basically boils down to the faces of the store owners, which is a perfect use for the minimal art. The layout is great, letting a reader skim through quickly to find the info they need.
While these two games are of different flavors, they can also be linked. Maybe your spy needs to find some information about an European immigrant who frequents a certain New York social club. Maybe.
I enjoyed both reads this time, when I found time during the holidays. Now that winter is upon us in full force, the greatest time to role-play is here as well. I’d much prefer sitting around a table with friends while it snows . . . outside . . . where I’m not.
My overall scores for both games are:
Agents of Oblivion: Four out of Five Dice
A Peculiar Pentad: Five out of Five Dice (any game that does that much work for me . . . thanks)
Review by Todd Cash
Tags | savage-worlds