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Signs & Portents # 62

Signs & Portents # 62

The editorial begins by talking about the 'new look' of Signs & Portents, at least once I'd peered at small type on a dark background to actually read it! Overall impression is that it is NOT an improvement, but I still hanker back to the portrait layout abandoned after issue # 26. So, on to more important matters like the content.

First up, a new DVD review column by Bryan Steele, someone who shares with most role-players a tendency to contemplate how that film or TV show might translate into a game... He looks at Doom, Event Horizon, Legend and The Scorpion King; and as well as summarising content without spoilers, relates the usefulness of the film as inspiration for role-playing very well. (My Traveller players have already met Event Horizon by the way!)

Next is 'Ghost of a Chance,' a RuneQuest scenario by Carl Walmsley. Strange creatures invading town and the ghost of a sorcerer who's been dead for 10 years trigger the need for someone to sort it all out. It is a neat if basic adventure which hangs together nicely with a good backstory which the characters ought to be able to discover, but does rely on them being the sort of folks who want to do the right thing as there is not much in the way of rewards to be had. The handouts provided are very low quality, which given the editorial statement that the 'new look' was designed to enable better artwork within filesize limitations is a bit disappointing.

This is followed by 'The Italian's Job' by Nick Robinson, which is intended as a miniatures skirmish for Gangs of Mega-City One, but could be used as a basis for a Judge Dredd RPG scenario without much effort! Whatever you want to do with it, there's a dastardly plot for those brave Judges to foil...

Next comes 'Wildlife and Monsters in Atlaia' by Vincent N. Darlage: a bestiary for that part of the world of Hyboria should your Conan RPG characters venture to the southern parts of the Black Kingdoms. Some well-considered tropical rainforest creatures to challenge the unwary!

Next one for the Traveller players, an analytical article on 'Jury Rigging #2: Stats, Skills and Task Chains' by Gareth Hanrahan. Task chains can be used when several characters collaborate to accomplish a task, their work being interdependent. Although introduced as a concept in the rulebook, it's elaborated on here with a range of ideas such as the Referee determining the overall problem (and its difficulty) while the players come up with ideas of how their characters can contribute to overcoming it.

Wargamers are not neglected, with a piece on Shermans - both British and American versions in great detail - by Agis Neugebauer, while Uri Kurlianchik's article 'Fantasy Regimes' looks at some rather unusual and challenging political regimes you might like to try out in your fantasy world. It's likely you'll use them in a far off land that your characters happen to visit, and they are likely to be viewed - fairly or unfairly - as evil by most of them.

Next comes a Wraith Recon mission for low-level characters, 'At Your Throat' by Gareth Hanrahan. It's a hostage rescue mission that should challenge the young Wraiths. With time a factor and detailed events for them to work through, they should have a sense of accomplishment if they complete the mission... as well as a potential long-term enemy!

This is followed by 'Trilemmas' also from Gareth Hanrahan. These are a stylised form of writing popular with the Mimbari of Babylon 5, and many believe that they give an insight into Mimbari thinking. Then comes a Traveller adventure by Nick Robinson called 'The Fall of Rigella Namsey' - if you watch UK cooking programmes as much as I do you may already be suspicious even before you start to read... Well, the job begins easily enough, the characters are employed to find someone... but naturally things hot up later. A nice romp with plenty of action built around an original storyline.

Back to RuneQuest with some new monsters in 'Go for the Eyes' by Chris Longhurst, including a useful construct called the Eye Spider, and five other critters for whom eyes are in some way important. This rounds off a good and varied collection of material which followers of Mongoose games ought to find useful, especially the adventures... nice, compact, fit into an evening's gaming material.

Return to Signs & Portents # 62 page.

Reviewed: 29 May 2009