Saturday, March 14, 2020

Flash Gordon Boxed Set Book 1: The Roleplaying Game

Ooh, this one puts me in a real pickle. Technically, I think it might suck.

Oh, not in craftsmanship. The book itself is well-written, with an engaging voice and satisfying level of detail, and the boxed set as a whole is just a joy to possess.

But, maybe, in conception. So much of the Flash Gordon rpg feels like "Baby's First Space Fantasy Setting." Like, no lie, you're going to pick up this book and ask yourself "why does Mongo need both a Sky City and a Skyland, and why do they have basically nothing to do with each other?" Or, "Queen Desira of Tropica? Really? Those names are a little on the nose, aren't they?"

And then, if you're anything like me, you're going to feel like a total ass when you remember that we're not talking about Baby's first space fantasy setting, but rather Humanity's second or third space fantasy setting and the reason it feels so . . . elemental is because we're going back to the very origins of the genre and drinking deep of the primordial waters in which it was born.

Although, if you're even more like me, you'll realize that all of the above is a total lie and I just unironically love it and what I'm actually screaming at the book is, "Why the fuck does Flash lose his shirt in only half the art? If I wanted to see a space hero wear pants I'd go and watch fucking Star Trek."

Dreams of all-nude space opera aside, this was a fun book. Lots of outrageous alien monsters and glam/pulp heroes with really on the nose names. Retro-futuristic machinery, atomic everything, and over-the-top melodrama (new hindrances: Great Love, Jealous, and "Amorous").

My only real disappointment is that this is not, as I assumed, a separate rpg core, but a supplement for Savage Worlds. It works fine as a book, but I'll admit, I'd have been greatly annoyed if I didn't already own Savage Worlds. Not having read the core in several years, I'm not sure if I can accurately assess how well it works for the game, but I did like the special genre rules like the Cliffhanger system or the cap on how much damage a named character can suffer from a single blow.

My final assessment of this book is going to be based on how much I like its companion volume, The World of Mongo, but I have a feeling this is going to turn out to be one of my favorite Christmas presents ever.

Ukss Contribution: Campaign boxed sets are tricky because they're multiple books in the same product, but I'm going treat these as separate for Ukss purposes because they are usually sold separately and the boxed set is just a bundle.

Now, I'm going to cheat a little bit here, because the real coolest thing is way the people of Mongo strap rockets to things that have no business having rockets on them. The atmospheric troop transport rocket might as well be called the "how to lose half your forces to transportation accidents device." And the rocket train's most obvious design flaw - that it would take only trivial sabotage to turn it into a guided missile aimed straight into your biggest population centers - is actually a plot point in one of the adventures. It's kind of a wonderful setting detail. A whole otherworldly technology based on the obsessions of a prior age, so unlikely in its workings that it's basically fantasy.

However, rockets don't work on Ukss for a variety of reason. So I'll go with Mount Dominance. The book doesn't have anything to say about it, but I love the name.

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