I was a participant in Brennan Taylor‘s Kickstart Campaign for the Bulldogs! RPG. As I wrote about earlier, I received my pre-release PDF copy of Bulldogs! RPG. Whereas that post was about my initial impressions, this post is a more in-depth review
Table of Contents
The table of contents is on a single page, providing a list of the 14 chapters and their related subsections.
- The Galaxy
- FATE Basics
- Alien Species
- Crew Creation
- Doing Things
- Running the Game
Aspects Everywhere - As is expected, Aspects are everywhere: Corporations, Systems, Ships, Weapons, Scenes, Campaigns, Adventures, etc. Entities (i.e. aliens, corporations, systems, etc.) in Bulldogs! have a two or three paragraph description followed by three (or so) aspects and possible invokes and compels. Below are the aspects of the Frontier Zone, an area positioned between two rival super powers.
Begin OPEN GAME CONTENT
The Frontier Zone Aspects
Patchwork of Jurisdictions
Invoke: evading pursuit, “We just left Korrell Consortium space.”
Compel: issues with proper legal authorization, “Well, that writ was good two systems over. It’s nothing but words on the screen over here.”
“On this planet, I am the law.”
Invoke: you’re in tight with the locals, “Well, my buddy’s the administrator of this station, so you might want to rethink that.”
Compel: local hopped-up bosses can mess with you, “I don’t give a damn who you work for. Write an appeal to the AFFS if you want.”
Your Rep is all You’ve Got out here
Invoke: your rep is good (or scary), “I heard you were a fair dealer. Let’s talk.”
Compel: you’ve left a trail of infamy, “Aren’t you the guy who shot up the bar on Galvatorix V? My brother lost an eye in that gunfight.”
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Resources: I really like how Bulldogs makes reference to loans. The idea that you are going to slowly payback something that is beyond your financial means is very interesting. It is well established that scruffy looking space scoundrels naturally owe gangsters money.
Minions: There are rules for quickly defining minions, and how a group of minions can work together. The rules are rather elegant, defining a single as Average (+1), Fair (+2), or Good (+3). This reflects their prowess in combat as well as the amount of stress they can take. There are then rules for having minions act together so they can receive additional bonuses. A nice rule for generating a meaningful battle between a group of stormtroopers and a couple of heroes.
Alien Creation: Aliens are comprised of stereotypical aspects and stunts. You needn’t select the stereotypical aspects for your character, but they do provide a mechanical backdrop for playing a character of that species. The stunts further define the uniqueness of your character’s species. Below is the mechanical write-up of the Saldrallans. The suggested aspects and stunts show us what a Saldrallan is all about.
Begin OPEN GAME CONTENT
Typical Saldrallan Aspects
Invoke: you can lie very still and quiet when resting, “Holy crap! I didn’t see that Saldrallan there!”
Compel: you’re sluggish in cold weather, “It must be 10 degrees in here. I think I’ll take a nap.”
Invoke: this can really freak people out, “OK, I’ll tell you! Just stop staring at me.”
Compel: you seem weird and scary, “I don’t want to talk to you. Just go away.”
Invoke: no one can tug your heartstrings, “Damn. I can’t believe you shot him down like that.”
Compel: you’ll cut even friends loose if you need to, “Sorry, there’s no time to wait for you.”
Eefficiency, Expansion, Power
Invoke: you’re relentless in pursuit of what you want, “This is what it takes to succeed.”
Compel: your desire for success can strain your friends, “Again? I’m getting tired of doing all this work.”
Invoke: you can get along with anyone, “I don’t mind his peculiar habits. He has an excellent eye for investigation.”
Compel: you may miss problems that actually demand attention, “Hmm. His gambling wasn’t an issue before.”
Invoke: doing bad things just doesn’t bother you, “This may be illegal, but the net gain is quite high.”
Compel: you don’t understand why it’s bad, “I am confused. You didn’t want to sell your vintage discs? The profit was exceptional.”
Saldrallan Species Abilities [–2]
Heat Sense [–1]
Saldrallans have heat organs underneath their eyes that allow them to see in the thermal spectrum. Any scene aspect that restricts vision or other senses must directly block this additional sense, otherwise the Saldrallan can ignore the aspect.
Poison Bite [–2]
Saldrallans possess long fangs that can inject poi- son into an opponent. Once per fight, in addition to any normal damage, a Saldrallan may place an immediate consequence on an opponent (Poisoned, Spreading Weakness, etc.) if Fists is used for the attack. Only the lowest available consequence is used, and you must successfully strike your opponent to use this ability.
Cold Blooded [+1]
Saldrallans require external heat or cooling sources to regulate their body temperature. The GM can compel this attribute as if it were an aspect once per session. If the player wishes to avoid this compel, she must spend two fate points to refuse. Check out the Aspects chapter for more on compels (page 55).
End OPEN GAME CONTENT
Guessing Aspects: Standard fare for most Fate games, I prefer aspects to be known but not free-taggable. The idea of guessing that the encounter has the aspect “Shadow-filled” seems a bit odd. Perhaps in play this works a bit better.
Pushing Beyond the Limits: I feel that Diaspora pushed the envelope of the Fate system, whereas Bulldogs! settled within the boundaries of what was already established. Then again, if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.
Bulldogs! is a very engaging system that builds on the solid foundation of Spirit of the Century and other Fate 3 games. The tone of the game is all about playing a scruffy looking band of scoundrels flying around the galaxy in their hunk of junk. I’m eagerly awaiting my print copy so I can proudly add it to my game shelf.