“And” is a powerful word. “Or” just doesn’t cut it in comparison. If a system can run a campaign containing angels or demons or robots or vampires or post-apocalypse mutants or artificial intelligences, then it’s a pretty ok generic system. But if it’s designed to run all of them at the same time, you’ve got Alpha Omega. “Or” is dead. Long live “And”!
Yet somehow humanity clung on, and rebuilt City States amid the irradiated ruins (those Osmonds tend to create a lot of fallout). Then we go and find out We Are Not Alone and the Earth has been a historic battleground for the creatures we came to mythologise as Angels and Demons. Bummer.
There’s far more to the setting than this, but that’s it in a nutshell. It’s Rifts with the volume turned up to 23 wrapped up with a set of crunchtastic rules that I’m ploughing through right now. Full review Coming Soon!
But what I want to talk about is how it looks, and how books like this are What The Hobby Needs.
For a start, it’s a drop dead gorgeous coffee-table format book. It’s the kind of RPG book you could leave out when your non-gamer friends and relations call and you just know they won’t resist opening it and oooh-ing and aaah-inh over the artwork. It’s geek evangelism at its best. This ain’t your AD&D manuals you hid under your bed as a child (go on, admit it), but a book that’ll have pride of place out in the open and be a way to get Other Folks into the hobby. And that’s a good thing, right?
The artwork gets bonus points for being (surprisingly, given it’s post-apocalyptic setting) child-friendly. Both the gore and nipple-count is low, and the imagery manages to tread a fine line between edgy and “clean” at the same time. This isn’t a book you need to keep away from minors and prudish adults. Kudos for that, folks.
Even though the artwork and design is the first thing that’s striking, I’m pleased to say that this is a book chock full of substance too. There’s an entire, complete rule system and setting in there – yep, it’s a One Book System folks! While some elements deserve further detail in additional supplements (a bestiary, in particular, which is Coming Soon) there’s more than enough material within for a complete campaign. The RPG hobby needs One Book RPGs. People don’t buy computer games then discover they need to buy another one to get the monsters, and a third to get the gameworld. D&D designers, take note! One book! It IS possible to do and look terrific while you’re at it too!
Everything about the book is polished to the Nth degree. Even the weapon list is a multi-page extravaganza with little sketches of each item above the descriptions. It’s like a Sears catalogue for death-dealing devices, and I just lust after a Misca Annihilator with Barrel Axe attachment. But then, don’t we all?
So far, I’ve only got one criticism of the book, and that’s the page numbering system. Give me real page numbers, or give me death, dammit! 9.4.32 isn’t a page number. Turning to the back of the book to check the pagecount, I see there’s apparently only 11 pages. Which there isn’t. But hey, if that’s the only thing I can complain about, it must be good, right?
That’s what I’m going to find out with a week or so reading, playtesting and generally learning the ropes in the post-everything world of Alpha Omega. Then, I’ll tell you all about it. Promise!
Based on the Free Preview (available from this page at Mindstorm Labs) alone I put Alpha Omega into my list of Games of the Year 2008, and predicted great things for this system in 2009. So far, it’s living up to my expectations in every way.