Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Alpha 7

Where to get it: Creator's page

 Alpha 7 is a bare-bones generic rpg. It took me about 45 minutes to read, and I expect that I could explain it to a table in about 5. You flip coins (or roll dice with a 50% probability) and 0-1 successes are a failure, 2 successes is success with negative consequence, and 3 or more successes mean you succeed outright. The rules mostly cover how many coins you flip, but even then they're pretty loose. Aside from the seven attributes that give the game its name, all character abilities are player defined.

The weakest part of the game is the math. The "Hardcore" power level, where you start with 4 attribute points, is probably unplayable unless you have a large and diverse party. The "Epic" power level works as advertised if the players over-specialize, but honestly, its point totals, combined with a rating cap, are probably the most functional. The main takeaway, though, is that if you're flipping fewer than five units (what they call coins/even dice) then you're either desperate or openly hoping for your game to be comedy of errors.

That criticism just means that I think you should avoid the lower power levels, though. The rules themselves are fine. They generate outcomes that are tied to the numbers on your character sheet, and they do it quickly. I imagine Alpha 7 games are going to stick pretty close to free-form roleplaying, but there's a niche for that.

The strongest part of the game is the GM advice chapter. It breaks the different tasks of campaign, party, and character pitches into a Who-What-When-Where-Why structure that is a little basic, but explained as well as anyone has ever explained it. You will know how to set up a game after reading that chapter. And it's short.

Overall, decent. I have a hard time imagining that anyone capable of finding Alpha 7 on the internet is going to need its particular niche (barely-there "setting agnostic" light rpg that quickly gets out of the way), but assuming it finds its audience, I don't think they're going to have anything to complain about.

Ukss Contribution: While explaining character concepts, the book throws out "'dwarven bard,' or 'android hacker' (or vice versa . . ." and I really like that vice versa. An android bard. Who would build such a thing? And why?

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