One Roll Engine (ORE) originally created by industry stalwart Greg Stolze. Today I'll be reviewing the Pocket Edition of Monsters that I picked up at Gencon. It's a game I've had my eye on for a really long time. Keep Reading to see if it lived up to my stupidly-high expectations!
I want to get a couple of things out of the way before diving into the contents of the book. First, as mentioned above, this is a review of the Pocket Edition of the rulebook. I've never read the hardcover rules, and something you have to consider when buying a digest or paperback version of a larger hardcover book is what they take out to make it fit in the smaller version and give you reason to buy both books. Reading the Pocket Edition, I would be really surprised if they actually took anything out to make this book work.
The second caveat here is that I've never played a game using ORE. I've read about it in a couple of different books including Reign and Wild Talents, but to be honest, I don't think I get it all exactly. I get the basic mechanism of width x height (see the wiki link I made above for ORE for more details), but when we get into the guts of the system, there are some things that don't quite click. I know a lot of people swear by the ORE, and I could see myself having a lot of fun with it, but I think I need to have someone teach me a round of combat and I'd probably be good to go.
|Monsters is a little like this. Source|
Like I said, the book is full of useful stuff you can use for your own games and comes with a very handy table of contents outlining the sections very specifically. You get the obvious stuff like character generation, conflict resoultion, and monster building, but Benjamin keeps going and gives us pointers on running a very specific kind of game - the kind focusing on how hard it is to be a kid. It's something I bet we've all forgotten about. He's somehow tapped into something here that brought back all the horrible feelings I had when I was a kid. In short, it's really well written.
It's extremely open so that you can create pretty much any kind of spooky thing out there and still make it work mechanically. Want a character made solely of tentacles and communicates via a highly-choreographed coordinated movement? Fine. You want a character that's a simple ghost? That works too! Of course you can get much, much weirder, and it's really where the system shines. For example, my sample monster is Alien More. He's an alien from the planet Brotain whos large seaweed beard is trumped in terror only by his ability to tell the scariest and most mesmorizing original tales of the land. For Alien, he's got a lot of hit points tied up into his beard and vocal chords, and that's fine - it works. You literally build your monster from the floor up (or ceiling down if it's an incorporeal ghost of a Jack-O-Lantern), and you invest points into these different parts. You can then attach powers to each part such as the ability to attack, defend, do extra damage, or burn stuff, among others. Honestly the monster generator alone would be a fun little game.
The Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor has gotten huge accolades, and Role-Playing Public Radio's Ross Payton has produced a couple of supplements - Road Trip and Curriculum of Conspiracy. There's also Sky Maul and Bigger Bads which I know less about but both look like fun in their own ways. You can find all the product listings on Arc Dream's Product Listing. One of the big reasons I was excited for the Pocket Edition was a cheaper entry level in order to get into this great catalog of supplements.
To be fair, there are some noticeable typos and book probably should have gone through one last viewing of an editior, but overall the errors don't get in the way of understanding the meaning behind the intent. If typos and minor editing errors is something that's too distracting for you (and hey, this is possible, you are paying money for polished product here), the Pocket Edition may not be a great buy for you. My personal view on this is that the content pulls the value up where the editing issue shouldn't be that big a deal. Basically if you want a game that offers some different experiences from the average hack 'n' slash dungeon adventuring, you can buy Monsters from Amazon from the link below. Also make sure to come back later today to see who wins a copy of the pdf of the book and the results of our incredibly unscientific horror movie poll!