Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Villains and Vigilantes - The Centerville Incident

***This review of an RPG adventure is for GMs’ eyes only***

With the revival of Villains and Vigilantes in the 21st century, perhaps it was inevitable that anime influences would start finding their way into the new material. Speaking personally, while I was something of a glutton for this new and exotic take on animation when the invasion proper started back during my high school years, nowadays anime’s like any medium. If a particular one looks good I’ll watch it, if it turns out not to be I’ll stop. Unless I’m planning to make a snarky review out of it, but that’s another discussion entirely.

A strange object makes ground near Centerville, Anywhere Convenient. As will be revealed one way or another regardless of how thorough your players are, that object was actually an invisible spaceship (a real one, and not a basement in Ladysmith, Wisconsin) carrying a Crushers-sized load of super-powered alien fugitives. They attack a lab to get the parts they need to fix the ship and make it to space-Cuba, but even if the PC’s don’t stop them the lab doesn’t have enough of what they need. But the branch in Guess Where does! Road trip!

The PC’s aren’t alone, though. There’s also the one (1) space cop on the trail of these galactic ne’er-do-wells who’s set up to disappoint any of your players hoping to hook up with a catgirl. And a group of mysterious Japanese heroines that are somewhere between a Sentai and the protagonists of Bubblegum Crisis.

Anime-inspired artwork aside, I have to say I didn’t find this module terribly impressive and almost nothing contained within fired my imagination as to use in further adventures. The character profiles are very bare, with most of the villains having backgrounds as deep as “she stole a suit of winged armor” or “he’s a remorseless killer,” with mention of which planets they’re from and which articles of the Galactic Code they’ve violated. Which is really just a cutesy way of telling you which crimes they’re wanted for by referring you to the relevant passages in the V&V rulebook.

The Sentai was especially disappointing because they don’t even get real names, which makes gaming out the suggested night on the town after the fight problematic. I assume the villains are using theirs, because monikers like Cor, Procyus, Aidri and Rux don’t really strike fear into the hearts of men, much less do a lot to make them stand out. And isn’t standing out a big part of what makes somebody a supervillain?

The details on the Galactic Police were a nice try at coming up with something to survive this adventure in a V&V campaign, but police IN SPACE aren’t really that special when visitors from (and visits to) other planets aren’t that uncommon in superhero universes. Besides, if I’m meant to take the Galactic Police seriously, I simply must ask: is Koniji’s uniform regulation?

Since she's written as being all mission-focused and stuff, I assume yes.

If nothing else, consider this: the final battle takes place on the slopes of Mount Fuji. Wow, that’s just…wow.

Like FGU’s other new releases, The Centerville Incident’s only $4 for the download. The whole thing’s so bare-bones, though, that I didn’t feel like I got much for it.

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