Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Radioactive Review — 'Wisdom From The Wastelands #22: Personal Shields'

Boy, howdy, are the Skirmisher Publishing guys thorough.

Take Wisdom From The Wastelands #22:  Personal Shields.  When I think of "post-apocalyptic gaming" and "personal shielding", only one armored artifact comes to mind:

How Did I Miss This Game As A Kid?!!!

And there's certainly authoritative precedent to my line of thought.


What more does an irradiated, seven-limbed mutant need?

But, nope, bullet-riddled, rusty streetsigns aren't what author Chris Van Deelen has in mind.  He presents mass-produced force-fields "for individuals from all walks of life", from granny-grade that keep Nana dry as she checks the mail, to full-spectrum, all-impervious shielding worthy of space's greatest superhero.

Man, I Need To Stat Up His Gear And Enemies....

Well, except for radiation.  WFTW #22's shields don't protect against that.  Weird.  (I'm guessing that vulnerability is to ensure your mutant can grow that eighth limb in a radiation accident.)

Anyhow, there's almost a full page of charts that break the wide array of force-fields into types (civilian, security, military), Hit-Points-worth of protection, damage-resistance classes, rates of regeneration, power sources, battery durations, and weight.  [Random Note:  I have never used Encumbrance as a DM / GM / Mutant Lord.  Because I am lazy.]

Then come the modifications, like Electrical (stuns those who whomp the wielder) and One- / Multi-Sided (the user trades increased exposure risk for increased shielding HP) and generic damage-inflictors.

Of course there's a page of anti-gadgets, which drain / cancel everything mentioned previously. And the text wraps with rayguns that, naturally, phase through the aforementioned shielding.

This is a hard one to review.  

One one hand, it's got Van Deelen's trademarks:  amazing attention to detail, and consideration of damn near every gaming scenario (choice quote:  "[they] are not powerful enough to protect a user while swimming, or dealing with...moving through lava").

You Fool!  Didn't You Read The Supplement?!!!

Mutant Lord needs a force-field, you get force-fields out the cyclopean-chicken cloaca.

On the other hand, it's full of fiddly bits (and, I daresay, kinda padded), and REALLY ups the rules crunch.  I've commented before about how I was convinced the Skirmisher Gang were lifelong HERO System gamers (which they jovially denied), but WFTW #22 just adds more to my evidence.  There's.  So.  Much.  Stuff!

And on the third hand—you know, that stumpy one that grows from your mutant's neck—I'm rather uncomfortable with the fundamental concepts as they apply to (gamma) world-building.   These all-purpose shields have a ubiquitousness about them, like smartphones:  in the world of The Ancients, everybody's got a force-field, I guess.  That really ups the "science fantasy" to degrees that kinda offend my sensibilities.

Utterly irrational, I know.  Curmudgeonly, too.  And even hypocritical when it comes to my love of the genre, as blasters, robots, and battle-armor are fine, but portable super-screens are a problem?!

Eh, I'm a fuddyduddy.  In my day, all we had was stop-signs...and we LIKED it.

I Wouldn't Argue With Her If I Were You