Friday, February 27, 2015

In Memory of Leonard Nimoy, a Mini-Review of Damnation Decade

So with with the news and mourning of Leonard Nimoy's death (RIP) and remembrance of his life, I thought I'd share a review of something vaguely related. First of all, did you know Leonard Nimoy (or rather, a facsimile of him) has appeared in RPGs? And NOT in his Spock identity?
Some background: yes Leonard Nimoy did other stuff besides Star Trek (shocking!)- such as hosting the paranormal investigation show In Search Of... for a time.

In Green Ronin's Damnation Decade  setting book for d20 Modern, an expy of Nimoy named Herman Purvis exists as a host of the show Beyond the Barrier (p.9). He is just one denizen of a world where all the paranoid fantasies of 70s movies have come true. Elvis Presley, Mao Zedong, Charlie Manson, Richard Nixon, and more also have (in some cases, very rough) equivalents in the book too.

The setting has very brief and self-contained rules for drugs, bionics, psychic powers, and even a hyper-brutal sport Omegaball. The psychic powers avoid the "measured in feet" approximations that so many other psi- systems use, and the psi-powers also tend to be risky- it's one of those roll or fail systems. Unfortunately, the consequences of failure tend to be mostly boring/incapacitating but nothing else- stunned or disorientation for a few rounds. The advanced classes are a bit hit and miss for me, but they cover all the basics you'd expect from such a setting (trucker, Omegaball player, groover, urban cowboy, parapsychologist, psychic, fightin' preacher, etc.)

Fluff/World Content
Setting aside the mechanics, the real gold here is the world content- lots of ways you can go with stuff. Although it's bogged down by having alternate names for pretty much every proper name in the real world, the characters and places are interestingly exaggerated and twisted. (And in some cases,  multiple real life figures were rolled into one character- so there's not always a one to one analogue.) Everything that we thought or imagine that could go wrong has- hostile aliens, the equivalent of California has sunk into the ocean, oil prices are skyrocketing, nature has gone wild, and President Nixon's still in office. See below for a more detailed look.

In the book, there's almost 10 factions that have several ways to effectively ruin the world or at least life as we know it (as indicated in their "Current Plans" write-ups). For example, Humboldt Suede (the equivalent to Hugh Hefner) is the son of the Devil and plans to corrupt and damn Americo. Stanton Spobeck (the equivalent of Nixon) serves a gigantic, A.R.C.H.I.E.-esque brain in a jar. And there are no less than two cryptid-esque hostile alien races.

Final Analysis
I'm not the best at rating things, but I'd say 3.5/5 stars.  Lots of horrific hijinks to mine if you're doing a '70s game. However, the alternate naming thing can make it hard to match up the in game figures with their real world equivalents, and the mechanics sometimes have a bit to be desired.  

Leonard Nimoy, R.I.P.  Thank you for your logical portrayal of Spock character, but also thank you for your weirdness you’ve given us over the years (Bilbo Baggins music video, anyone?).

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