Wednesday, 25 July 2012
After The Horsemen Rulebook
Before I go on to tell you more about the game let me tell you what it is not, or rather, what are not included in this book. There are no zombies, vampires, werewolves, supernatural creatures, aliens or mutants. Well, that's a big omission, you might say, and at first, I thought the same. However, Ed Teixeira, the author of the book has said that there will be supplements for the aforementioned and they will be FREE to download from the THW webstore. Although not for zombies. They have their own rulebook and supplements.
Another big omission for me was the absence of any vehicle rules, other than a gaming device to get you from A to B. Again, Ed has this covered. He recommends using the vehicle rules from 5150: New Beginnings or download the new Vehicle Rules, for free, when they are published. Neither is a satisfactory answer if you want vehicle rules now, unless you already own 5150: New Beginnings. When I think of Post Apocalypse settings, I immediately think of the Mad Max series of films. Now try and imagine them without any vehicles in! It doesn't work, does it? I hope the new vehicle rules are worth the wait.
So let's get down to the rules themselves. You can play one of three types of character - a Lone Wolf, a Pack Wolf or a Sheep. Lone Wolves are solitary heroes, who may have a partner, but only one. Pack Wolves believe in strength in numbers. Sheep make up the majority of the populace. Mostly they are followers. There are a lot of Attributes that your characters can choose from or dice for. There are ten tables' worth of Attributes, so plenty of choice. The skills of Fitness, People and Savvy have been added. These first appeared in 5150: New Beginnings, although I note the Science skill has been dropped.
Combat is basically the same as before, although with a few minor changes. If you're already familiar with THW's general Ranged Combat and Melee Combat rules you'll easily cope with this aspect of the game. One thing I'd like to point out is in Ranged combat if your character runs out of ammo, reloading is no longer automatic. You now have to roll against your Rep to see if you can reload and to see if you have any spare ammo clips left. For this type of setting it makes a lot of sense.
There are a lot less Reaction Tests to roll for in ATH than say, ATZ. In Sight Tests have changed a lot and are a more prominent aspect of the game. The other Reaction Tests are Received Fire, Man Down, Cohesion Test, Recover From Knock Down and Recover From Duck Back. The Leadership bonus will help with the first three and Recover From Duck Back but not Recover From Knock Down or the In Sight Test.
PEFs (Possible Enemy Forces) play a prominent part in the game. For the most part I like PEFs. They bring an element of uncertainty to a game, so you never know who or what you'll meet or how many, if any at all. However, with this rulebook there is one element that I have a big problem with and that is with the PEF Resolution Table. You roll against the Encounter Rating (usually 1-3 but could go up to 4 if indoors). My concern is if you pass 2d6 you run into a Settlement of some sort. This makes no sense if you're already in a Settlement. If you are outdoors, does the terrain suddenly transform into a new Settlement? How can something as large as a Settlement suddenly appear on the board? A Settlement can be anything from 1 to 18 buildings. By its very nature it is a static encounter. A Settlement is not mobile. It can't move around the board like people or animals. This one result on this one Table is my biggest gripe about the rules. My solution, for what it's worth would be to make the result of pass 1d6 (meet survivors) the result for pass 2d6. For pass 1d6 I'd now make that meet animals. Pass 0d6, by the way, is no encounter.
Towards the back of the book are eight scenarios or encounters as they are called. Four are voluntary encounters (Chillin', Hunt, Raid: Attack and Wandering) and four are involuntary encounters (Burglarised, Bushwhack, Raid: Defend and Robbery). Your characters will have one voluntary encounter per month, or if they stay at home, one involuntary encounter for that month.
So, onto my verdict. I'll be honest, this is not the book I was expecting. I was surprised to find it strictly human centric. My first thought as I read what it was going to be was, where's all the supernatural stuff? However, I accept Ed's argument that not everyone wants that in a PA setting. Plus, I was mollified to hear that there will be supplements for this system, all of which will be free. You can't say fairer than that. At it's heart, this is a simple smale-scale skirmish game set in the near future. Those already familiar with THW's rules will have no problem playing this game. For those of you coming into this game afresh, the rules are well set out and easy to learn with lots of examples of play to make life easier for you. This is a much easier game to learn than say, All Things Zombie or 5150: New Beginnings.
Will I be playing this game? At the moment, the answer is no. That will most probably change when the supplements for vehicles, vampires and werewolves come out. Until then, this rulebook is going to sit on my bookshelf.
After The Horsemen costs $20.00 for the PDF format from THW, or $25.00 for the book format. I ordered the book format and thus was eligible for a free copy of the PDF version. I'd give this book a 7 out of 10 rating as it stands at the moment. With the supplements, that score would certainly rise.