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Review: Underground Penal Housing and Sentient Reptile Persons with Severe Acid Reflux

June 17, 2009 | | Comments 5

“Underground Penal Housing and Sentient Reptile Persons with Severe Acid Reflux” arrived today and I am thrilled to be the first reviewer. As everyone knows this is

Sentient Reptile Person with Severe Acid Reflux

Sentient Reptile Person with Severe Acid Reflux

the latest release from DVOC (Don’t Violate Our Copyright, the leading game company). Breaking from previous role-playing traditions, this game focuses on maintaining balance and fairness among the players and in the game itself to maximize fun.

Rather than a deep plot or background, “UPH & SRPwSAR” is a new paradigm in game rules that is truly original. The first chapter jumps right in with character creation and I must say, I was impressed.

Character generation is totally new and very simple; everyone has exactly the same statistics! Yes, rather than allow “personal choice” to interfere with balance, every character has exactly the same attributes. Such a time saver!

I literally made up all my stats with a quick photocopy from the book and got started with choosing a character class. All of the usual suspects were there, fighter, wizard, thief and I went with my favorite class of wizard.

There are over two-hundred different first level abilities to choose from! Making a choice was very difficult. Just look at these cool powers.

1d6 energy attack with a green ray
1d6 energy attack with a yellow ray
1d6 energy attack with a blue ray
1d6 energy attack with an off-white ray (Off-white! How avant garde!)

Although all 200 powers do exactly the same damage, the many different ways of describing the powers really excited the gamer within. The “off-white” sounded really exciting, so I chose it. I liked not having to make those annoying “decisions” about my character.

I tacked a macho name on my wizard (Lothak the Blood-Letter) and got to work on my equipment list. Since the money makes certain characters richer or poorer than their peers, it is not used in the game. Instead, each PC receives an “adventurers kit” containing basic weapons, armor and, strangely, a towel. Not sure why, but the book refers to the towel as the most important piece of adventuring gear and no one should travel without one.

Lothak is male and it reminds me of a very unique aspect of “UPH & SRPwSAR,” the pronouns. Game designers often take flack for using “he” as the only pronoun in the book when talking about players or characters. This book wisely takes a new tack and uses “gluk” in lieu of he or she. Gluk means he, she or it, depending on context. For example, “Gluk stood over his fallen foe.” “Gluk” is a new word and copyrighted by the publisher, so please do not use it outside of the game. Oh, do not forget to submit your notarized acceptance of the “gluk” usage license that comes with the base book. I heard that the flesh-eating lawyers of “Dewey, Cheatam and Howe” devour all those that violate the license. Scary.

Dice play a part and once again, this game is really cutting edge with the dice mechanics. A die comes with the book! Really old school to include a die, reminding me of the first box set I owned with plastic dice and a crayon. No crayon here, but the die is high-quality and unique to this game. Every side has a 20! Yes, every roll is a twenty, because bad rolling hurts the self-esteem of players and that is just not fun! Internet forums are abuzz with rumors of a d20 that also has a 19 on it! Wow, I cannot imagine the courage required to roll such a dice. Why, you might get less than 20!

Fully kitted out, I jumped into a quick combat with my regular game group. We crested a hill and surprised a group of troubled non-humans violating the civil rights of some agrarian workers. Before this game, I would have said, “orcs murdering some peasants, but that sounds so unpleasant. Orcs…er…non-humans deserve more civility than that, you never know when a player might be emotionally hurt by your stereotyping!

Combat rounds have phases, summarized below.

1. Immediately drop all weapons
2. Advance on the NPC, baring your neck to show your good intentions
3. Take turns discussing their issues, in a round table discussion. Each player takes a turn sharing their feeling and how the NPCs have hurt their feelings.
4. Let the NPCs share
5. Everyone parts peacefully with all issues resolved.
6. Victory!

With this system, all PCs have an equal opportunity to “shine” during the combat encounters. I am not sure this is the case because my DM apparently did not get the memo on how this works. Lothak’s last memory is a non-human opening a major artery with his greatsword. TPK. This is the last time I get a DM from a “Cthulhu” game to run my review games!

Happily, the game has rules for this and the next time we generated characters, we all lost one point off our statistics. We collectively failed to prevent violence and that hurts player’s feelings and now we must suffer the consequences.

DVOC’s commitment to game balance is truly impressive, reaching beyond the game rules and directly to the players! Included with the basic set are seven “Game Optimization Pads.” Players sit on these pads during the game. If one of the players begins to make too many good suggestions, perform too well in combat or generally demonstrate above-average tactics or intelligence, a series of small needs extend from the pad. Sometimes the best way to optimize a game is to reduce everyone to the lowest-common denominator. Currently the DM controls the pads, but a $15.99 monthly service charge allows an AI computer at DVOC HQ to deploy the needles, based not only on game performance, but when someone talks about “Star Trek” or mentions any non-DVOC game. I think these pads are a great idea and sure to bring many fans to the game.

I cannot endorse this product enough! “Underground Penal Housing and Sentient Reptile Persons with Severe Acid Reflux” is an evolutionary quantum leap over any other role-playing game on the market. Every player shines because no one is any better than anyone else. As a personal aside, I find the infliction of pain on “clever” gamers solves a serious issue at my table. “Smart” player continually ruin my carefully crafted plots with “original thinking.” Annoying! Evening the playing field is just the right way to move role-playing games forward.

I enjoy this game so much that I am playing it with my cousin Robert next week. Robert is picky about  games, but  I know gluk will love “UPH & SRPwSAR.”

Trask, The Last Tyromancer

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About the Author: Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.

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