Product Review – Corporia

Corporia
Author: Mark Plemmons
Cover Design: Nejron and Yongnian Gui
Publisher: Brabblemark Press
Page Count: 209
Available Formats: Hardcover and PDF
Cost: Hardcover – $39.99 and PDF – $9.99

PREMISE

Corporia is a tabletop role-playing game set in ‘The City’, a future metropolis ruled by an alliance of powerful mega-corporations. Players take on the roles of members of the Knightwatch, the elite supernaturally powered special operations unit of the Watchman private security company, under the auspices of its mega-corporate entity Valyant and Chief Executive Officer Lance Martin—the reincarnated Sir Lancelot du Lac. The Knightwatch resolve extreme incidents involving manifestations of other-dimensional energies (aka the Flux), including mutated humans, monsters from other dimensions, and corporate experiments gone wrong.

Members of the Knightwatch have been hand-picked from individuals touched by the Flux, ironically gaining their abilities from the very force that also transforms innocent citizens into dangerous mutants and provides fascinating new resources for the mega-corps to exploit. Exactly how an individual’s powers manifest depends on his or her personality, social caste, and profession, among other factors.

 

PHYSICAL QUALITY
The physical quality of both the hardcover and PDF are phenomenal! The binding on the book is  extremely stout and very high quality. The publisher spared no expense when it comes to the boards and binding. Sadly, the paper they used is a little  thin and very reminiscent of textbooks I had in grade school. Don’t let the thinner paper dissuade you, the paper itself feels strong and doesn’t leave me the impression that it will rip easily. The PDF itself is fully bookmarked which makes finding things that much easier. No more guessing where some particular information is located.

The overall layout of Corporia is well done; though I have some things I will address down below. The fonts used and the size of the text makes reading the book easy on the eyes.

MECHANICAL OVERVIEW
Corporia has a two-fold mechanical system. The first is the game is powered by a d6 based system. The second is a difficulty based resolution system. Corporia calls this a Target Number and it refers to both (un)skill checks and opposed checks. Roll resolution follows this model: Core Value+Skill+Flux Dice vs Target Number (TN) set by the Gamemaster. If the roll meets or exceeds the Target Number, the check is a success. Corporia also utilizes the much loved or maligned exploding die mechanic as well.

The Flux Dice are rolled in almost all situations that require the roll of the dice. The flux dice represents your character’s ability to use the “flux” effects that pervade The City; it’s also a measure of how well your character can control it. The flux roll is comprised of rolling 2d6 and taking the highest. There are two extreme results that can be obtained when rolling flux dice, the critical success (good) and crashes (bad). A Critical Success is the result of rolling a 6 on either or both of the flux dice. For each 6 rolled you roll the die again and add its result to the formula above in an attempt to meet or exceed the TN. These exploding 6’s can be rerolled until the result is any other number than a 6. Crashes are the result of rolling 1’s on both flux dice. In the case of a crash, you will not add the flux dice result to your attempt to reach the TN.

art4
Character Creation Road Map

Character creation is relatively simple, but the information needed is spread over various parts of the book. Thankfully there is a road map at the beginning of the book to help you find what you need quickly. After selecting the archetype that appeals to your, you will determine how in touch with the flux you character will be and this will determine set of point values (Core, Skills, General Assets, and Supernatural Assets) you character has to then build their ideal self. The point buy system is simple enough and doesn’t take that much time to accomplish.

There are a number of other mechanical aspects of the game; I just covered what I thought was the most important for anyone considering this game.

PROS
The game has a cyber-tech feel that is often overlooked in the RPG industry as of late. Gamers that are looking for that type of genre should be interested in Corporia. The Author, Mark Plemmons, has incorporated some helpful features throughout the text (book & PDF). Some of these include the following. Text highlighting to make important bits of information stand out. There are ample amounts of pop-out tables that provide critical information in such a way that makes referencing it easy. Unlike the majority of RPGs out there, Mark included both a Table of Contents and an index.

The book contains a wealth of information for the game to include location description and relevant information for various areas of The City, the world in which the game is played. It also includes a list of creatures and other nasties to pit against the characters. There is quite a bit of information contained in this relatively small package.

CONS
Ok, I have to lay it on a little thick here, sorry Mark. There are two very distinct issues I have with the game thus far. First, the theme is the not something really appeals to me. Although, I do love a good Arthurian themed game, I’m just not sure about Corporia. The theme may grow on me when I am able to get this game to the table. The issue I have with the theme is something specific to me and your mileage will surely vary.

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My second issue is not with the game itself, but it has everything to do with the art in the book. The book does have prolific art and it’s a mix of art styles. These styles include art that look like the have come straight out of a textbook [think science or health textbooks from grade school], photography derived art, and Corporia unique iconography. So what don’t I like it and why?

art3

The answer is two-part, first I don’t like the look of the textbook stylized art. While thematically appropriate, it looks out of place in Corporia.  Second and moreson, I dislike the photography derived art. To me, they look more out of place than the textbook stylized pieces. While reading the book, the art was distracting  enough to cause me to lose immersion in the reading the book. I kept finding myself focusing on many of the images, while this should not be a bad thing, it definately is in this case. The art is distracting, not complementary; all-in-all, it made reading tough for me. I went so far as to show the art to several people whom I trust in their opinion and none liked any of the art in the book. Every one of them disliked the photograph based art.

The opinions of each person who saw the art was nearly identical to one another, the art sucked! One commented that some of the art looked like a Photoshop hack job. Another commented that the art (all styles) was distracting and would make reading the book a challenge for them (Seeing a trend here?).

Mark, please hire an artist for your next project, It’ll pay dividends!

PARTING SHOTS
A game that merges two genres, Arthurian legend and Cyber tech, together to create a new and unique game. Genre bending? Maybe depending on what you think is genre bending. It’s still unique enough to be a refreshing addition to the market. If you can overlook the artwork, unlike me, you’ll find a solid system that will let you explore this game’s world (The city) and the fiction.

~ Modoc

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. shane00mail says:

    Reblogged this on R.P.G. (Runkle Plays Games) and commented:
    I tossed this up on my blog as I was able to get my hands on the physical copy and look it over myself. I was one of the ones asked in this review what I thought about the art. And While the setting struck me as an interesting one. The Photography in place of art was oddly a huge issue for me like was noted here. Some of it came close to hitting the mark where the images were shopped to add Tech Elements to the picture. But others were so distracting it took me right out of the book. For me the photo that still days later stands out to me was a shot of two men in business suits fighting. One guy is jump kicking the other guy with bare feet. It sounds pick but the entire time I was looking at these two pages of the book I kept looking back up at the photo.. and saying why the hell are these guys in suits fighting barefoot ???
    again the premise struck me as interesting the Dice system I thought was sound. ( D6 Fan) but the art make it jarring to keep my focus on the page.

    Like

  2. Thanks for taking the time to read and review! That’s definitely appreciated. I understand that many people prefer illustrations instead of photos, but I’m still pleased with most of the final graphic design and art choices I made. There are always some regrets, of course. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. modoc31 says:

      Mark,

      Putting aside the art issue, there is a solid game under the hood. It was challenging for me to stay focused while reading. To me, the art used was distracting. To be fair I do acknowledge that everyone’s mileage will vary.

      ~ Modoc

      Like

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