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Strike Force 7 (Savaged Edition) Review

Posted on July 31, 2009 by spikexan

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Super Genius Games unveils a little G. I. Joe spirit with Strike Force 7. This brief supplement (71 pages) introduces the game’s namesake as an international anti-terrorist organization. They combat terrorists both real (Al-Quida) and imagined (Skorpion). While it may seem like an odd choice for a Flames Rising review, you’ll find my speculation stretching beyond the confines of the book. First, let’s take a look at the material itself.

The layout of Strike Force 7 fits its genre as each interior page’s design mimics a dossier. Each exterior top or bottom corner has a cropped photo of three Strike Force 7 agents. I felt like this image could have been reserved for the chapter introductions as it becomes a little tiresome.

I truthfully would have liked to see full page pieces introducing each of the book’s chapters. The main reason I would have enjoyed this would simply to see more of the clever characters created throughout the book. Sidebars are eye-catching and generally chock-full of useful side information. Many of the game’s optional (or planned for later release) aspects fall into these sidebars.

Artwork is too sparse. Besides the cover art by Gregory Price, there is one piece within the book (a pro-America Eagle overlaying an American Flag). There isn’t even a handy graph dedicated to the numerous weapons and vehicles described in chapter two. There are four maps at the end of the book for use with the included scenario. I found the lack of artwork a bit strange considering the wealth of detail throughout the book. Characters, weapons, and vehicles could have easily a dozen pieces. I would have been happy with five. Perhaps the decision was to focus on the writing and thereby permit players to design Strike Force 7 to their own imaginations. It’s a fine tactic, but better when explicitly mentioned.

I was a kid in the 1980s, so a game loosely based on a favorite childhood toy/cartoon/comic line warrants strict attention. It didn’t take long to feel like a kid again once I realized how fun the writers were determined to make this book. The first hint came in the form of General Marion Wayne. Yep, Strike Force 7 is ran by the ultimate cowboy/soldier John “Marion Mitchell Morrison” Wayne. I should also point out that Wayne’s nickname is the Duke, further entangling him with the inspirational material. By choosing such an iconic figure to head their fictional team, the authors made a trustworthy badass by name alone. This caused me to second-guess every other name in the book, which can be a fun game in itself.

Chapter One (Characters) is a Blink-And-You’ll-Miss-It chapter in which the essentials of Strike Force 7 members are detailed. Most of the material here is for jump-starting creative juices for character creation; nevertheless, there are a few rules plugged in as well. For example, there are divisions–Military Operations, Information Team, Media Relations, and The Furies–within Strike Force 7. All are basically available for players, but anyone who decides to play a member in The Furies has to put something else on their sheet. The Furies are Strike Force 7‘s Black Operations team and don’t like to advertise their presence.

Chapter Two (Skills, Backgrounds, and Equipment) offers the rules for making characters with the Savage Worlds rules. I cannot imagine a better system for this game to utilize. Regardless of how realistic the setting becomes for each gaming group, Savage Worlds’ skirmish rules are the ones I like most. This chapter obviously introduces some new rule tweaks for Savaged Strike Force 7. Many of the rules can be used in other settings as well. I like the names for some of the Edges, such as God’s Got Shotgun. Anytime you can call out a trait during a game that’s just mindlessly fun to say, you’ve got a good thing going. The equipment list for the game is very detailed, almost demanding a toy line just to play with the Anubis Power Armor (no Accelerator Suit jokes please) and GravSkiffs.

Chapter Three (A History of Strike Force 7 and Skorpion) lays out, you guessed it, the background story for both groups. It also is the first of the two largest chapters. Most of the book’s energy builds towards the story behind the team (Darkness Unleashed’s weakness) and gamemastering advice. SF7’s history ties back to World War Two while Skorpion proves to be a newer entity, finding life in the 1980s. I won’t discuss this chapter much as it holds too many details better revealed in-game. What you find in these chapters are team histories and write-ups for about ten agents on both sides. What you do not find are stats for characters. The only characters to receive stats are Hammer (one of the good guys), Osiris (one of the bad guys), novice Skorpion soldiers, and experienced Skorpion soldiers. I’m glad the latter two had stats because they are somewhat needed. Plugging stats into every character isn’t required and I was glad to see that freedom left in players’ hands.

Chapter Four (The CO’s Section) is for game masters. There are options for level of play and an introductory adventure to get players going. Strike Force 7 possesses several fields of play, depending on what players choose. A game can feel like an episode of Alias, the A-Team, or We Were Brothers. The more intriguing game might be able to weave together components from each of these to create an awesome end product.

The remainder of the book consists of a bibliography, the four maps, and the character sheet. The inspirations run from the unsurprising (Green Berets and G. I. Joe) to cool, but odd (V). The book doesn’t contain an index, but is rather light. Skipping out on one isn’t that big of a deal, especially with the PDF’s search feature.

Before I offer scores for Strike Force 7, it’s time I put this game under the Horrorscope.

While it may not seem like much in the way of horror beyond the “War is Hell” mantra, there are aspects to this game that make it rather enticing as a horror or strange setting. I’m going to look at some of these possibilities in story seed format. Little twists hinted at in the book can take the game from action adventure to sci-fi or survival horror quickly.

One of Strike Force 7‘s first members was a psychic by the name of Steven Sharpe. Sharpe helps create OMEN division, which is not an initial player option. OMEN is obviously an acronym, but the book doesn’t reveal what it’s for. Introducing the idea of a branch of psychics searching the world for others of their kind along with hints of any brooding disasters (9/11 put Sharpe into a coma, preventing him from warning the world), makes for an interesting game. Perhaps they run into problems with other military groups focusing on the same thing, such as Heaven and Earth’s Project Grayscale.

Skorpion’s members take on code names from Egyptian mythology. Could there be a darker reason for this? Perhaps the Pharaoh’s belief that merit makes the man is a precursor to something greater. Can a man, through his own self-imposed trials, become a god? At the least, can he not summon one? Imagine the shock on players’ faces when a run-of-the-mill street fight against some terrorists results in Nyarlathotep’s arrival. Or perhaps Pharaoh plans on becoming one of the Osirians from Promethean: the Created.

Some of the books settings permit sci-tech devices limited only by imagination. Some eager nanomachines or even a Zombie Ray could pit Strike Force 7 against the undead. With the rules in Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams’ Horror Bestiary Toolkit, zombiphiles won’t even know what kind of brain-munching undead are coming their way (though the mummy and nanomachine inspired flavors make the most sense).

Why stop at international? Maybe Strike Force 7 learns of Odyssey Prime’s agenda and decides to join forces. Could some of Skorpion’s weaknesses be revealed by the foiled plans of an alternative universe’s counterparts? Becoming an inter-dimensional peace-keeping force is probably one daunting task for a game master, but can nonetheless be awesome.

Just like that, Strike Force 7 games can run just about anywhere. Let’s wind back to the proper review by looking at the game’s scores:

Layout: Three out of Five (basic but fitting)
Artwork: Two out of Five (more please)
Writing: Five out of Five (Fun with loads of ideas for all kinds of storylines)
Overall: Four out of Five (Good fit with Savage Worlds/Good Setting)

Review by Todd Cash

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