Saturday, August 27, 2005

Spycraft 2.0 in review:
Last night was the first night of the new Spycraft campaign I'm running for my gaming group, so I thought I'd write a quick post-mortem of how the new game plays for anyone reading my blog who is interested in RPG stuff.

My overall impression is favorable, and I think that in most respects, Spycraft 2.0 is an improvement over Spycraft 1.0, which is a game that I really liked. I still had to house rule grenades and automatic weapons fire to account for my tastes, but the necessary modifications to Gearing Up, Mission Design and the Chase rules were made to improve all of these good but in need of improvement sections. The skills and classes probably didn't strictly need all the tinkering that was done, but the game in the end benefits from the changes, I think.

My largest complaint is that, despite actually having an index this time, the book still shows all the signs of not having been properly playtested or copy-edited with an eye towards game useability instead of readability. There are any number of very important rules that are mentioned once, in the midst of another block of text with no highlighting, and never again. The tables and charts are vastly out of control, and probably what should have been done is either find a way to make some smaller charts with all the key information in one place or, if that was impossible, to put all the charts into one "chart" chapter. Gearing up, running a combat, checking what skills are needed, all of these things take a lot more page flipping than they should, and it's very frustrating when you realize that, say, Damage Saves for NPCs isn't covered under the NPC rules, but instead under the Damage Save for equipment in the Gear rules, several hundred pages earlier. A little more repetition of key game mechanics, several flowcharts of combat, chases, etc. and a good number more examples would have made the book a lot more uesable right off the bat.

As is, Spycraft 2.0 is a game that is more complex than Spycraft 1.0, and it's going to take a bit of a learning curve for the GM and players to get used to it. I think the learning curve is worth it, and my complaints about parts of the game are mostly overshadowed by my general enjoyment of the game's simulation of action movie/TV espionage, but I do think that the game could have (and should have) been reworked and rewritten to be more user-friendly on a casual basis.

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