Publisher: Order of the Eight Press
Review Dated: 1st, December 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 4/10 [ Just shy of the mark ]
Total Score: 4
Average Score: 4.00
“America: 2155AD – The corporate class has pushed the common man down for far too long. Their overbearing demand for more money, more control, more everything, has all but broken the back of the average American citizen.”
So begins the world of Dystopia, an RPG written and designed by Gavin Hadaller and published by Order of Eight Press as a PDF. In the world of Dystopia, the rich have everything, the poor have nothing, and the middle class doesn’t exist. Multinational corporations own the world and everything in it, which includes their employees. People are sterilized at birth and are monitored by implanted biochips. You can’t even get a drink of water without paying for it.
Each city is run by a super computer, an electronic organic mainframe named Mother. These Mothers are linked together by the NET and run holo-cameras, drones, and police patrols to hunt down subversives. The suburbs, or Inner Sprawl, are all holograms. The people are real but the animals and the sky are just projections. The Outer Sprawl is where all the non-productive people live. The people without jobs. This is Pottersville from It’s a Wonderful Life. This is the gang-infested areas of the Robocop movies. This is where the heavily-armed cops (pictured on the cover) and players are.
Who are the players? They are the nomads, the hippies, the veterans of the National Guard, the eco-warriors, the punks, the disgruntled average joes, the religious fanatics, and the gangsters. An eclectic mix, for sure.
The system of Dystopia is pretty simple. Only a single d10 is used. Need to make a skill check? Roll a d10. If the result is under the skill level, you did it. A roll of 10 is a botch and a roll of 1 is a critical success. Combat follows the same procedure: attacker rolls under attack skill and defender rolls under defend skill. If you get hit, subtract the armor’s Block from the damage and apply it to the body location hit. There is a really nice Combat Cheat Sheet to keep everything straight. Also, the character sheet (called the Casualty Sheet in Dystopia) is really well laid out with one side giving all the standard character information and the other side giving all the combat information with a little human body outline where you can keep track of how wounded each body location is.
So what’s in the PDF? It’s 53 pages long with a nice color front and back covers taking up two of those pages. Of the remaining 51 pages, 1 page has the credits, 2 pages cover “what is a roleplaying game?”, 12 pages cover the world background, 15 pages cover character creation, 10 pages cover skills and combat, 6 pages cover weapons and armor, 1 page combat cheat sheet, 1 page character creation cheat sheet, 2 pages for the character sheet, and 1 page for the index. Notice there is no table of contents although there is a list of bookmarks in Acrobat which serve the same purpose. Also, there is nothing on equipment or vehicles. If you want to play Dystopia, you’re going to have to make up a lot of stuff.
There is also a lot of great art. They give a good feel of the game’s setting and are the only depictions of the technology of 2155. The police vehicles and armor look very intimidating and are very well drawn.
I like the attitude of the game – it’s “kill them and take their stuff” in the modern world with a valid reason for doing so. I think the world background is great although it doesn’t seem as technologically advanced as I think 2155AD would be. I might set the game in about 2013 if I ran it and I’d go with a feel like from the Robocop series of movies.
So is it worth $8? I don’t think so. I think it might be worth $4 if this kind of game interests you since you have to do so much preparation (with vehicles and equipment) just to get a game started. While what is in the PDF is really good, there’s just not much there.
Note: According to the author, there will be supplements coming out with lots of vehicles and equipment. They will also detail the downtown areas, where the technological advancements are. I will have to reevaluate Dystopia when those come out.
Further note: Dystopia is intended for mature audiences. Also, if you dislike profanity, be warned that there are many sprinkled throughout the text.