Hello, Earth dwellers! It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, coming to you all the way from my distant home planet of Earth to spend some time chatting about science fiction RPGs with you!
I figure it is probably safe to assume that anyone out there reading this likes science fiction RPGs. If you recall, that is literally what this column is about. And if any of you readers own an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation3, then- since we’ve already established you like sci-fi and role playing games- you likely own, or at least have played, part or all of the Mass Effect series.
Now, I like Mass Effect. I personally liked the first one the best (not because of some misguided “sequels always suck” idea or anything, I just didn’t like how they changed the gun mechanics to clips in the second and third one. I thought then overheat system was a lot more interesting), but all three of them have their charms.
(For the record, the second one was my least favorite, because there was just way too damn much planet scanning, and the plot always bugged me, since it didn’t really have anything to do with the Reapers. Also, like everyone else, I thought the ending of 3 was bad, but unlike everyone else, I don’t complain about it, since at the end of the day, they’re creators, and it’s their story to wrap up however they like. Plus, the last ten minutes being bad doesn’t make the preceding 150 hours not fun, so quit yer gripin’.)
Anyway, I own the Trilogy box set. I spent all the money (over 100 bucks!) to get all the DLC for all three games. You could say I enjoyed it. And with such a rich, well thought out, intricate world they’ve built, I had always thought it would make for an interesting tabletop game.
Cut to two years later, and I’m goofing around on the internet, looking for some new RPGs to download. I found some great ones- Drunken Bear Fighter, Big Motherf***in’ Crab Truckers, Lasers & Feelings, Inception, Geiger Counter, and The Plant, just to name a (very) small sample of some of the games I got. But anyway, there I am, just looking around the Net, and someone posts “Mass Effect, using the d20 System”. I download it, read through (some of) it, and it seems legit enough. But I see some discrepancies it the rules, so when I write up the article/review (this current one you’re reading right now), I make note of the issues I had in the article. Then, later on, I realize I might not have the most up-to-date version of the game (figuring the issues I had with it may have been fixed in later revisions), so I get online to see if there was a more recent version of it somewhere. Now, I’m internet savvy enough to know that there was no chance of this one I got being the only tabletop conversion of Mass Effect there is. Sure enough, I’m practically flooded with games, and I was having a pretty hard time finding the one I wanted.
Credits page to the rescue!
After about four seconds of searching, I find the correct game, and I was right- the one I had was not the most up-to-date version that had been released. This article will be based on the current (as of this writing) version of the rulebook found at this website. The things I wrote about the previous version that have since been changed in the most recent revision have been left in, mainly so you can laugh along with me at such an overly melodramatic schmuck I sound like. Complaints no longer valid upon my look at the more recent edition will be distinguished by the
strikethrough font I put it in. Comments I added after the fact regarding the most recent edition will be in red. Anyway, after a mere six hundred or so words, onto the article proper! Better go to the bathroom now, because this article is loooong!!
MASS EFFECT- THE d20 SYSTEM RPG
First off, if you’re gonna play it, be prepared to read- the rulebook itself is
500 540 pages long, and there’s even a galaxy overview supplement that, on its own, clocks in at 110 pages. This beast is 650 pages long, not counting the four page character sheet. This guy obviously believed in his work. The style itself is pretty cool- just upon a brief skim, there are a lot of pictures, walls of text don’t last too long, everything’s in full color, and there’s lots of variety in the style and characters depicted in the pages. Visually, she’s a beaut. And I really like the cover picture, too- rather than a more bland, generic fight scene, or a group shot of a bunch of characters, its a bit more stately and reserved, with Shepard looking up at the sky while a Reaper flies by menacingly in the background. Very understated, very cool, and a lot more interesting than “BLAM HEADSHOT” or “HEY, LOOK AT THESE BOOBS”.
The font is easy to read, the headings denoting the different sections are easy to notice, and the two-columns-per-page layout is made a lot more interesting by the design choice of making the columns slanted- not enough to cause difficulty reading
( except for the index, which is a big enough deal (along with some other reasons) that I’ll have an entire section just talking about the index at the end) (haha, whoops, the index in the updated version doesn’t have slanted columns like the rest of the book does- but I’ll still be going on about the index at the end for the other reasons), just enough to be eye-catching. Now, let’s check out the mechanics.
Stylistically, the game seems to be based off Mass Effect 2- the specializations and powers classes get don’t really resemble the versions of the from the first game, and instead play like the overhauls of them in the second. I later found out this was exactly the case- he first started working on the game after 2 came out, and before 3 was released (which was also the time period the campaign was assumed to take place in). He has since stated the mechanics have been tweaked to better line up with Mass Effect 3, and that the time period this game takes place is post-trilogy. However, I couldn’t detect any meaningful changes, so I guess the first edition I had already had those changes made. Mechanically, meanwhile, the game seems to be a modified version of d20 Modern. For instance- it’s not “AC”, it’s “defense”, “Research” is a skill, et cetera. The game states it’s a heavily modified version of the basic D&D engine, so while that means it’s technically based off fantasy, not Modern, they’re close enough that I stand by my original conclusion.
Thinking about it now, it uses a d20, sure, but it’s at least as different from D&D proper as Modern is- now I can’t decide whether it would be considered a “campaign setting” or a “system”. Hm. I guess it all comes out in the wash regardless.
The races are the standard ones you would expect- asari, human, turian, et cetera- but there were a couple that threw me for a genuine loop. Namely, volus and elcor. Plus one other one I’ll get to later. I also thought vorcha were an interesting choice, but that surprised me less. No hanar (as he says later in the book, “let’s face it, they’d be a terrible playable race” [okay, that’s a paraphrasing]), so you can’t play Blasto- but there’s a good selection of most of the sentient races in Mass Effect’s galaxy, so most people will be able to find something to play as. Paradoxically, this section is also the first one where I noticed something that rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t say it’s an “error”, just a design choice that I didn’t particularly care for. I’m not a big fan of the build for some of the races- a lot of “+2 in a few abilities, -2 in a few different abilities” going on. It makes them seem a bit overpowered to me. For instance- the asari get a +2 bonus to Dexterity, Wisdom, and Charisma, and a -2 penalty to Strength and Constitution. That’s on top of the +2 bonus to Diplomacy (which they would already get a bonus to anyway, because of their +2 to Charisma), the Melding ability, and the immunity to side effects from biotic amplifiers they already get. (Humans, meanwhile, get a +2 to one ability score of their choice, one extra feat, and one extra skill point per level. Doesn’t seem quite even, if you ask me.)
Now, all the classes have essentially the same class feature- something called “specialization points”. There are three different kinds- biotic, tech, and combat. But what you can use them for is what makes the classes unique. Each class only gets the type of specialization point inherent to their class, of course- engineers won’t get biotic points, and vanguards don’t get tech points. When you get enough, you spend them on specializations that give you the abilities. And the abilities themselves are basically the same ones you have in the video games- Combat Drone, Lift, and so on. The powers work just like the original games, yet still feels like d20. Excellent.
(While I’m thinking about it, remember how in D&D, magic had its own separate system to function? Well, not here. Biotics [essentially the Mass Effect universe’s version of magic] works exactly the same as a Soldier learning a new Ammo Specialization- when you have enough specialization points, you purchase a new power. Clean and simple.)
There’s even a system for learning special powers- or as this game calls them, Unique Specializations- as well. I read the section regarding Unique Specializations a few times, and wasn’t quite able to 100% understand the rules on how to do it, but the idea was cool, and I saw some other people on the forum talking about doing it no problem, so the confusion is obviously user error.
On top of THAT, there’s also something else I thought was pretty cool- Power Mods. Power Mods are basically alternate uses for powers you already have- they tend to be pretty powerful, so you generally can only unlock a Power Mod by sacrificing either a feat or a Unique Specialization (it varies on the specific Power Mod) in order to take one.
Which reminds me, the level-up bonuses are a bit different than in standard D&D- you now get feats every odd-numbered level, an ability point every third level, and a unique specialization unlock every fourth level. Also, there’s no multiclassing allowed. I found that to be an interesting choice for a tabletop RPG. I can’t necessarily say it sucks
though, because- as the writer himself points out- you couldn’t do it in the original games either, so it’s not like you’d expect to be able to anyway.
Anyway, there are also a
few lot of race-specific classes- they work exactly the same as normal ones, you just have to be of a specific race to take them. There’s only a handful of them, however, and half of them are for asari. There’s a whole bunch of racial classes, with a pretty good spread of choices- each race has one additional racial class, with asari having three. I was gonna make some comment on how “each race has additional race-specific classes, but humans only get one” then I realized that, no, apparently every race only has one additional race-specific class. Except the asari. That, combined with the racial bonuses I mentioned earlier, tells me someone has a favorite race.
Not really much to say about skills- they work the same way and do the same thing they did before, in either D&D or Modern. I noticed they invented some new ones that are unique to this universe- Damping, for example, comes to mind. (You’ll note that I choose a lot of tech-based stuff to use for my examples. Engineers were always my favorite class.)
Combat works much the same as it does in D&D. One turn is 6 seconds, and there are three units of measurement when it comes to dividing a turn- a normal action (attacking, moving, using a power, and so on), which you can make two of in one turn, a full-round action, which you can (of course) only do one of, and it takes up both actions in one turn, and free actions, which you can do X number of in one turn, where X is whatever amount the GM allows. The reason I bring this up is to explain the new Specialization class features. Essentially, Specializations don’t have a number of uses per day, like spells do in D&D. Instead, they have a cooldown period, which basically works like this- after you use a power that has a cooldown, it requires you to wait for a certain number of actions to pass until it is usable again.
And this is another place in the rules I have a problem with- some of the cooldowns are RIDICULOUSLY long. I saw a weapon with a cooldown period of ten actions. TEN. With two actions a round, that means after it overheats, you have to wait FIVE TURNS until you can use your gun again. Pretend my monocle just fell out. Well, first pretend I had a monocle, then that it fell out. Haha, wow, there’s so much wrong with that section. First off, the ten action cooldown period would only happen when the gun overheats- and it’s impossible for guns to go from cold to overheated in one turn. So my implication that you can only fire one turn every six rounds is laughably wrong, because it would take more than one round of continuous fire for it to get that hot to begin with. Second off, what the hell was I even thinking? Guns CAN’T overheat in this game, because it was based off Mass Effect 2 (then later 3), both of which used thermal clips, not heat discipline, to manage gunfire. (By the way, when the heat sink is full, it takes a mere one action to replace it.)
I stared at that section for a good couple minutes, attempting to figure out how I could have been so lip-flappingly dumb in regards to the gun tech of this game- then I realized. I had seen a sidebar talking about rules for how to handle guns from Mass Effect 1 era, and the “10 action cooldown” they suggested in that sidebar was for like a 15-shot pistol or something. In other words, they suggested five rounds of cooldown after almost eight turns of continuous fire. That’s pretty reasonable. But anyway, I saw the “10 action cooldown” suggestion in the sidebar, then later on when I was thinking of the cooldown system, that was the number that popped into my head.
In other words, I saw one number out of context, forgot what was in reference to, then talked about it like it was standard because it was the only relevant stat I could think of.
Ever since I originally thought “this would make a sweet tabletop game” I’ve thought about how you would handle shields. Well, this game handles it in a pretty reasonable way- by following through with their mission of “make it feel as much like the video games as possible”. They do that by handling the same way the games do- essentially, Shields are a secondary health bar that has to get completely taken down to zero in order for the character to start taking damage. I had some trouble figuring out how to phrase this sentence in a way that didn’t sound awkward, so here’s the exact quote from the book- “shields can be regenerated by spending 3 actions without taking an offensive action (if during those actions the character takes damage, the shields do not regenerate)”. At that point, they start regenerating one third of their total shield HP per round, until full. Just like with their initial waiting period, if you take damage, the regeneration stops.
Upgrading weapons in the game is referred to as “the variant system”. Basically, you find or buy an upgrade (each weapon has unique ones) and take the time to install it, then it’s good to go.
I notice that none of the upgrades increase a weapon’s damage, when in the original game, they ALL did that. Maybe give each variant upgrade a +1 damage or something, to a +5 total at variant VI. Turns out that the newer version of the rulebook had thought of that, too- only instead of doing a +1 bonus with every upgrade, they did it on every other. Which is fine by me. The variant system also applies to armor, but upgrading it only lowers the weight. To give it special effects, the “customization system” comes into play- what that is, is some armors have parts that can be swapped out for replacements, effectively losing one bonus while replacing it with another. Most suits of armor also have an inherent special ability just for equipping them (additional thermal clips, +2 power damage reduction, +1 to Charisma checks, and so on). They managed to translate the idea from the games well, in a sensible manner that’s easy to understand. I really like it.
While I’m on the topic of customization, the customization system even applies to the starships you can use. Spend some money (OR F%$#@ING RESOURCES- I’LL GET TO THAT IN A BIT), and you can get new rooms on your ship that give some small stat boost, or upgraded weapons, and so on. I don’t see anything mentioning a limit as to how many of those you can have, though. I don’t know if that’s simply an oversight, or if it’s because the answer is “however many your ship/budget can fit”, but it would have been nice to have it clarified regardless.
But, I did see one thing in the Equipment section that bugged me. Namely, there were some weapons that had weird die rolls for damage. I saw some “2d3″s and “1d5″s in there that I went “(wince) someone needs to fix that”. Having abnormal die amounts like that is never a good idea. That’s why you never see things like that in D&D.
The famed “morality meter” makes its appearance here as well, of course. And how does that work, you ask? You’ll get anywhere from a +1 to a +5 either Paragon or Renegade points (they’re measured on separate scales) at times where you do something particularly noble or tactless (respectively), with the numerical modifier changing depending on how major or minor the act was. At its heart, it’s basically a numerical stat used to determine how NPCs react to you,
which manifests itself as a bonus/penalty to Dimplomacy rolls. As far as I know, that’s not true. Reading the section on morality again, I noticed something interesting- Paragon and Renegade points aren’t actually USED for anything. Or, rather, if they are, that rule is placed in the section on that thing, rather than in the “morality points” section. The section here explains what they are, how you earn them, guidelines regarding how many you might get in situations (and this paragraph actively contradicts itself in something they said just two paragraphs earlier- one of the examples is “kill or torture a civilian: 1d6 Renegade Points”, when just a few lines up, they say players should be “never awarded… more than +5 points for each situation”), and so on, but they never actually say “THIS IS WHAT PARAGON/RENEGADE POINTS CAN BE USED FOR”. Like I said, that may very well be covered in the section detailing whatever that is, but it’s not covered here, so I wonder what the point is, other than just being able to say the mechanic is there. As it stands, I don’t see any incentive to include this feature in any possible game of this I might run, since it doesn’t actually do anything- so there’s that, I guess. I don’t really have much else to say about that- it’s simple and straightforward, and- while yet another number to keep track of- doesn’t affect the game in a major enough way to fret over too much.
The “other rules” chapter has some neat ideas in it; quantifying personality traits into a
numerical stat, unique feats that you can only get by doing some RP related thing, creating new gear like in Mass Effect 2’s Research Lab, a section about character flaws that wasn’t in the previous version of the rulebook I looked at (I’ve always loved the flaw rule in D&D)- although it doesn’t work the same as the fantasy version, it’s still there, so I’m on board regardless, and so on. Pretty cool stuff, and a clever idea. I especially like the idea of tricks you can perform with your Specialization. Neat.
Not much to say about the Monster Manual section near the back. EXCEPT ONE THING. I was treated to a nice surprise a few pages in- the “sentient geth” playable race. Well, they actually function as a racial class (similar to how Savage Species works in 3.0), but they can go all 20 levels. It’s really cool that that’s there, because while I was reading the race list all the way in the beginning, I even thought out loud “dang, no geth” not even noticing the fact that it was listed on the table of contents. And now here we are. It’s like they read my mind! Kudos to the authors for deciding to do that- and I actually really like the fact that they buried it in the back of the book, instead of putting it up front along with the other races. It makes it seem a lot more different and unique- after all, that’s precisely what Legion was.
I touched on the idea of ship customization earlier, and I want to go back to that now- some of it was something I kind of had an issue with, so I wanted to make sure I could devote some time to talking about it without it being in the middle of some other conversation about some other topic.
There are some ship upgrades that cost resources (gold, platinum, iridium, palladium, element zero, and/or uranium), instead of credits, to purchase. Okay, great. However, there are no specific rules regarding those resources, and there isn’t a separate section of the rulebook (to my knowledge) that talks about them. They’re just tossed in there, like I should already know how how that particular aspect of the rules works. Do I know what they are as far as the canon of Mass Effect is concerned? Yes, of course. But you can’t just causally mention some brand new part of the game mechanics (brand new, as in “hasn’t been mentioned in the rules until now”) without explaining HOW, statistically, they work in terms of being rules for a tabletop RPG.
Where am I supposed to get resources? Can I buy them, or can they only be found? What’s the exchange rate? Is there anything else, besides purchasing ship upgrades, I can do with resources? For that matter, what unit of measurement are resources even in? For instance- an Advanced Med-Bay requires 50,000 platinum to acquire. Fifty thousand what? Pounds? Meters squared? Tons? When it was a video game, these questions were irrelevant, because you spent resources on things you wanted, then when you beat the game, whatever was left was automatically donated as a War Asset. So the question of “units of measurement” for resources didn’t matter, because there was only one thing you could do with them anyway, and ideas like “storage space” and “ship weight” weren’t programmed into the game. Here, however, they DO matter (or at least CAN matter, if players decide to worry about it- Shepard, however, wasn’t coded to give a damn about it. I wish they would address that, and I personally find it to be a legitimate misstep that they didn’t. (NOTE: IMAGINE MY SHEEPISHNESS WHEN I DISCOVERED A CONVERSION TABLE IN THE GEAR SECTION. THAT ONE DISCOVERY MADE ME DECIDE TO REMOVE ONE PART, THEN THAT ONE DECISION CASCADED OUT, AND OUT, AND OUT, UNTIL EVENTUALLY I HAD UNPERSONED THIS ENTIRE SECTION.) Man, near the end there, I wasn’t even making sense. I guess I was just kinda complaining to complain. That’s probably this article’s most aggressively dumb moment right there. Good thing I discovered that conversion table.
I’d actually like to spend a little time talking about my thought process here. I’ll use the example I used earlier, the Advanced Med-Bay. It costs 50,000 platinum. As far as the “units of measurement” business, the conversion table at the beginning of the gear section labels it as “units”. So it costs 50,000 units of platinum. I was so mad about them not talking about this essential part of the universe, but when I saw the label was (what would be in most other situations) the meaningless-almost-to-the-point-of-being-useless “units”, all my anger melted away, because that’s when I realized I was fatally overthinking it.
Resources aren’t given a classification of individual measurement because it doesn’t matter how much one individual piece is worth- buying power is based on the number of pieces of resources you have, not how much money the resource would be worth if you sold it. After all, their entire purpose in the game is to be another form of currency (specifically, to buy ship upgrades), and currency isn’t given a label beyond whatever form of currency it is. Think of it like this- take the cost of the Advanced Med-Bay, and replace the word “platinum” with the word “credits”. It doesn’t seem weird, because everyone knows “credits” is just the word they use for money. “Platinum”, in this game, is literally just a different kind of money that happens to have the same name as a thing we in real life are familiar with, that you get a different way. The fact that it’s called something different, or acquired in a different manner (usually), doesn’t make it not credits.
All of this flashed through my mind in about one second. I saw the conversion chart, I saw that the unit of measurement was “units”, my brain realized that meant “resources” was essentially being used as another word for “credits”, and I took out everything from “For that matter” to the end of the section in the crossed out part above. Then, since it was a conversion chart, that by definition meant I had an answer to the “exchange rate” question, so that came out. Then, (again) since it was a conversion chart, that answered the question of whether I can buy them or not, so that came out. Then, thinking about how I can buy resources made me realize that “if the person I bought them from had them, where did they get them? They either bought them or found them”, which told me that, yes, you can find resources as well. (Eventually, I would discover a ship upgrade letting you launch probes and scan planets for resources. So my assumption was correct.)
As for the last question, “what else can I do with them”, I thought about it and went “hell, who cares? I bought them from someone, so there’s obviously a market for resources beyond just me. I can just sell them, like whoever I bought them from was doing”. So out it went.
I still do wish there was a section specifically devoted to talking about resource acquisition and management (it’s a neat idea that you can get some really cool stuff with, so it deserves some information of its own), but ultimately, I suppose that with all the fluff cut out, the section would look like this- “ACQUISITION: you can find resources on missions or from scanning planets, get awarded some as if it were treasure, and you can also buy it. MANAGEMENT: spend resources to buy ship upgrades. Sell it or donate it if it’s bothering you that it’s just sitting there, taking up space”.
Okay. I’m onto my last part. I saved it for last for a couple reasons- first off, it’s my most major (and in my mind, legitimate) complaint about the whole book. Secondly, it’s right at the very end of the book, so it would be the last thing you get to anyway.
Let me preface this next part by saying that I like this book. I think it’s a good system, it works pretty well to my eyes, and the handful of small gripes are just that- gripes. They aren’t things that are bad or broken, just things that I personally would probably tweak a bit if I had editorial control over the project. But so far, the rulebook has a 99 percent success rate, and I’m very proud of being able to say I have this book. I would love to be able to use it some day.
…Okay, um, I don’t know how to say this without just coming right out and saying it point blank, so that’s what I’m gonna do.
The index is a pile of trash and needs to be completely redone.
A few examples of why-
- I look up “money”. it says “MONEY see: CREDIT”. Okay, cool. I flip to the “C”s. There’s no entry for “CREDIT”.
- Take the “Warp Ammo” ammo specialization- there’s an entry for it under “W” for “Warp Ammo”, but there’s ALSO a subentry for it under “S” for “Specializations: Ammo”. And both of them list the page number, instead of one referring you to the other. So, some entries get cross-referenced (like “credit/money”, above), but some don’t.
- Let’s say I want to look up feats. The “Specializations” entry (which we were looking at during the previous point, about Warp Ammo) had subentries of every specialization in the game, so maybe feats do the same thing. I’ll look up “F” for “Feats” first. No subentries. Why does one have subentries, but the other doesn’t? Okay, fine, Let’s look up the feat itself. “TRACK page 117”. Okay, so feats are each listed in the index separately- I go to page 117. But wait, here’s a feat called “Slide Through”. (flips back to the index) There’s no entry under “S” for “Slide Through”. So some feats have their own index listing, and some of them don’t?
- Going back to my perusal of “Warp Ammo” from point 2, it tells me “page 177”. okay, I go to page 177. It’s not there. Turns out it’s actually on page 175. Yet there are some things- the entry for the “search” skill, for instance- that actually have the right page listed. Now, I didn’t check every single thing in the index, but of the things I DID check, ALMOST EVERYTHING IN THE INDEX HAS THE WRONG PAGE NUMBER LISTED. The index says “Turian: page 36”. I go to page 36, and that page definitely is the entry for turians- but the entry actually started three pages earlier, on 33. So going to 36 just plops me right in the middle of a wall of text.
Now, the index does have one very cool feature- you can click on the listed page number for an entry, and it will automatically take you to the entry (notably, it takes you to the page in the rulebook proper that entry is on, even if that entry isn’t on the same page that the link you clicked on had said).
At first blush, I was tempted to unperson large chunks of this section in light of this discovery. I decided not to for a few reasons- A, the fact that I discovered a semi-useful workaround doesn’t excuse the fact that this feature is horribly broken. A broken feature is still broken, even if I figure out a way to not use it. B, the feature can only be used for things that actually have an entry in the index to begin with- and as bullets 1 and 3 above point out, not everything does. C, that feature would be completely useless if the book were printed out.
You know, it’s funny- this entire thing about the index, as well as the complaint about resources above (which you might recognize as “the only to real complaints I have with this book”), they all started when I needed to find where the “credits” section was. I had seen the section on upgrading your ship, and didn’t see a companion section on the resources you’re supposed to use to do that (see above, with my long entry in red all about my thoughts on that particular asset). I figured that maybe, instead of having its own section, it was a subentry in the section about credits. Problem is, the book’s- as mentioned earlier- 540 pages long, and I wasn’t about to scroll through all of them to find it. So, I turned to the index, because that is literally what it’s for. Discovery of the “credits/money” fiasco got me looking to see if the index had any other problems with it, and that’s when I discovered the “wrong page numbers listed” issue. Everything just kind of snowballed from there.
I never truly appreciated how essential a well-structured index is until I tried using one that was a piece. Oh, man, it’s a good thing this book has a table of contents- I don’t recall seeing any noticeable issues with it (and after I discovered the state of the index, you can be sure I looked), so I can look at that and make some educated guesses from there.
As far as any last-minute minor comments I might want to make, I noticed that the glossary was missing a whole bunch of entries- such as “resources”, which made me laugh out loud, derisively- but that didn’t really bother me, since pretty much everything in the book I was already familiar with, either because of my familiarity with D&D, or my familiarity with the canon of Mass Effect. Someone without that level of familiarity might have a problem, though.
The character sheet, meanwhile, is pretty nice- four pages (like I mentioned earlier), with lots of room for powers and weapons and stuff. It’s filled with entries and lines and boxes and so on, and I suppose it might seem cluttered and visually messy, but they took the time to make sure everything is clearly separated by some sort of text block, or square, or what have you, so it doesn’t end up seeming nearly as bad as it may look at first glance. I noticed that when I view it in my .PDF viewer, it looks slightly fuzzy- the edges and letters aren’t quite as crisp as I would like them to be. But I don’t know if that’s an issue with the character sheet file, or my computer displaying it incorrectly, and so I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
And I think that will be it! Woo boy, almost six thousand words! I went into this thinking I was just gonna do a brief bullet point list of a couple things I liked/didn’t like, and be done in like ten minutes!
I just realized I forgot to make any comments about the Star System enhancement. (spends a couple minutes looking at it) Well, it doesn’t add any new rules to the game, it’s just a list of all the planets in the galaxy, with stat block detailing their environment, any fuel stations or mass relays nearby, et cetera. Just some cool fluff, nothing more. So no problems there.
Okay, now I think that really IS all she wrote! The Mysterious Rating X for the Mass Effect d20 System book:
- Successful Translation Of Source Material- 5/5
- Visual Appeal- 5/5
- Ease Of Use- 4/5 (sorry, index)
- Apparent Completeness- 5/5
- Another Rating I’m Adding To Give Out Another Five Points- 5/5
Wow, look at that! This game must be pretty damn good! I can’t recommend it enough- go here, download the book (and don’t forget the character sheet!), grab some of what you call “dice” here (we call them “dice” on my home planet) and have a ball! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “fifty words away from six thousand! Time to waste forty words worth of space! Yeah, woohoo, let’s do it, come on, so dang cool, oh yeah, let’s get it, here it is, yeah baby, BOOOM! 6,000″!
The Mysterious Dr. X (the entry for “credits” is on page 187, by the way. Wish I’d known that fifteen hours ago)