Game: The Colonies RPG
Publisher: Politically Incorrect Games
Series: The Colonies
Review Dated: 11th, February 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
The Colonies is a cute and concise Sci-Fi from Politically Incorrect Games. There’s a distinct retro feel to the game too – which isn’t a bad thing.
The Colonies is a 67-paged PDF. 67 pages, that’s good going for a fully-fledged RPG. It is fully-fledged; it is a whole game, everything’s there. Just about. That covers the concise. The cute? Well that come from a surprising source; the game mechanics. It’s a slim and trim system. The core mechanic is a 2d6 roll that attempts to get as low as possible. Bonus or penalty dice give you the luxury of rolling more and taking the most favourable combination. In order to represent degrees of success there is a result table to check. Oh gosh. Result table? I told you the game gave of retro vibes. That’s not all I find old fashioned – you roll up key points of your character’s background. It’s not too bad, the background tables and the result table are both – that’s right – cute and concise.
In the not-too-distant future the Earth is ruled by aliens. There was no evading army, not as such, just an alien craft which helps blow up a big meteor and then makes an emergency landing in Australia. It’s there in the outback for years. Then the French take over the world. Really; the French, well, the French with the support and technology from the aliens. A few key placed sleeper agents amongst prominent politicians too. If the Earth hadn’t been doing so well before the aliens landed and hadn’t disbanded all their nuclear weapons then they might have won the war against the French and they might have been able to destroy the meteor themselves in the first place. The moral of the game seems easy enough; nukes good, French bad. This is a RPG from Politically Incorrect Games after all. Well, it’s not as simple as that, someone had to be the villains, someone had to provide the troops and become the ruling elite and so the writers had to pick on one country or another. It couldn’t have been the aliens; they don’t ever have seemed to have left their space ship. Only a few high ranking politicians visited the space craft when it first landed. We have to assume that although the world soon got over the fact that there are aliens in Australia that politicians kept on visiting – otherwise, where would the sleeper agents come from? These lucky sleeper agents know more about the Virimar aliens than the GM does. Hmm. I’m in two minds over this. Do you need to know about the aliens? If your players launch an assault against the craft then they’re surely doomed. The game is if they win. Nonetheless, it’s the sort of something that a bold resistance cell would want to do and even if they don’t then the GM may find himself needing to conjure something up.
There’s not much on the aliens and there’s not much on the world either. We’ve got just the brief overview of what the Earth is like. If this was a big hardback then I’d be bitching about that right now; but The Colonies is an inexpensive, lightweight PDF. The Colonies seems to go as far as setting up a situation where technology has advanced to the point where mankind has Colonies on nearby planets and moons, lost the home world to an alien influence without an alien army and then it goes no further. The Colonies really does just seem to set the scene and leave the rest in the GMs hand. I find it hard to come down too heavily on the RPG for being light on world flavour. One thing though: there’s no such pair as the Eastern and Western Hemisphere.
Besides, the name of the RPG is “The Colonies” and not “The Earth”. Most of the characters are likely to have come from one of the five colonies although it is possible to play an “Earther”. There’s not much more flavour text on each colony than there is on Earth. That said what there is on each colony is really tasty. Each colony has a nice little twist or two; something to stick a thousand plots hooks into. The character generation system will weigh even more prominently on the player’s minds. The different colonies have different point costs for buying stats and skills. Different colonies have different background tables too. This not only makes up for the “lack of aliens” but I really think it’ll help foster a sort of meta-game colony nationalism as players come to settle on favourites.
Kay. So there’s not much world flavour in the game and the mechanics are slim and trim – what fills the rest of the download? Easy. The traditional sci-fi candy of weapons and equipment do. There’s plenty in the game in these chapters. There’s biotech and nanotech, pages of both so the players and NPCs alike can choose from a wide range of gizmos. The weapon chapter has enough room to present alternatives of the same weapon, a Kresmeyer pistol or a Simtek pistol for example. In fact, there are dozens of pistols and rifles to pick from. I suspect the armour with the energy fields represent the peak of Colony technology – yeah, even compared to the nanotech. This time there’s really one set of armour for each different armour types. Exotech are powered suits of armour and we’re treated to a few goodies for this. Then treated to drugs. Finished off with a miscellaneous section. It’s here when a whole but slim chapter just for computers starts off. Okay, the whole game is slim, that’s one of the attractions but it is nice to see sufficient attention paid to computing in the future. All to often it seems to either be ignored or abstracted away to a point where it might as well be magic. If you want to create your own bit of technology for The Colonies then the Projects chapter is just for you, it has a helpful run down of a few strategies – prototypes, costs, repairs and the like. I think it’s just poor choice of wording but the game seems to suggest that in order to invent anything you should email Politically Incorrect Games and let them tell you whether it’s possible or not. Hmm. No. That’s not good. A much better way to view the same paragraph is that not only do PIG have an active interest in what the world wide players are doing but are willing to put the best ideas into future published accessories for The Colonies.
Then there’s combat and experience points. You’ll not be too surprised when I summarise these two chapters as cute and concise.
The Colonies is a black and white PDF with only a few small illustrations. It doesn’t quite become the sea of text that PDFs light on pictures can become – and this due to the few tables, the listing of weapons and technologies but probably the three column layout serves to avoid this problem most of all. Since it’s picture text and black and white the game is easy to print off. It’s a simple matter of getting hold of The Colonies character sheets too, since that’s included in the back.
I’ve found plenty of niggles in The Colonies; be it guns in favour of flavour, undiplomatic phrases, western hemispheres, or even unknown aliens. The truth is that these niggles all pale away when I sit back and look at The Colonies as a whole. As a whole the game stays true to the mantra that I struck back at the start; it’s cute and concise. That means it’ll be fun and easy to play. That’s the thumbs up.