Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Villains & Vigilantes: Project Lawbreaker

I remember a time when they were still making V&V peripherals besides roster books. Ah well, at least that sequel to “Search for the Sensei” is turning out to be a real thing after all. Maybe you don’t care, but I do…

Before getting to the book itself I suppose there’s the momentous announcement in the foreword that Fantasy Games Unlimited is working with a little outfit called Tenacious Comics to put out a new Villains & Vigilantes comic book. No word on which heroes and villains they’re planning to focus on yet, and I have to admit I can’t help feeling leery of a company whose rather slim library actually includes a series called “Worst Day Ever!” I don’t care if it’s supposed to be a parody, that name makes it sound like a lazy parody. And there's nothing less funny than a lazy parody.

I should talk about the villains, but sadly the selection doesn’t have quite the verve of previous villain books for this game. I read through the entire thing, and while I remembered some names and looks, I could think of almost none that I’d like to actually use in a campaign.

Probably the most unique of the villains featured in this book is Vardagax, an alien vampire of sorts who is completely immortal, even able to eventually revive from complete disintegration. I can easily see a mini-campaign being built around the players repeatedly running into this unkillable menace and trying to find some way to stop him for good. Probably after the GM gives him a new name that’s actually scary, though…I suppose my next favorite after that is Metallion, short for “Metal Batallion,” a giant crazed military robot because for some reason the scientists on the project let a former Nazi program the brain. Nothing particularly sophisticated about the build, but a big marauding monster it takes the whole group to beat is something every superhero campaign needs once in a while and it’s always nice to have another one ready to go.

After that the next most interesting inclusion is probably the single premade team in the book, but that’s really not too much of a recommendation. Aside from their somewhat generic strongman and sorceress members, there’s sort of an elements of nature theme to the Masters of Menace. The leader, the uninspired Blue Mist, is played kind of like the modern tragic Mr. Freeze, but his belief in the group as a surrogate family’s blunted a little by how straight-up villainous most of them are. I do kind of like some of their powers; one of their energy projectors can blow himself up and reform later, and it notes that since he recovers energy while in the process of reforming, he can theoretically just keep blowing himself up and reforming over and over. I’m sure I could come up with some amusing uses for a power like that. These could be a decent villain team, although I see them in need of some tinkering to their backgrounds and motivations.

But I can only review the published product.

There’s Ghost Dancer, who has a garment empowered by Native American magic that she uses as a super-powered thief, but what interested me is it’s implied that this was used by heroes in the past, and it’s subtly encouraging her to abandon her selfish lifestyle the more she uses it. Lamia was kind of interesting for her build as a killer snake lady, if not necessarily her background.

Unfortunately I have little good to say about the rest of the selection. Rhinosaurus was an okay attempt at a tragic monster of a villain, but I’d only ever use him with a new name. Hellmark certainly has a formidable power with what’s basically inescapable mind control against anyone who he touches, but it seems like someone who’s the head of a massive occult cabal like he’s supposed to be should have a bigger arsenal than pretty much just that. Red Flag’s an okay speedster character but has a weird name for her type. Soldat is a decent super-assassin of the kind we all need once in a while, but on the other hand it’s 2017. Aren’t we past using ex-KGB hitman in our supervillain roster books already??

I think the one I’m least impressed by is Warhawk, basically a low-rent Hawkman knockoff (like we didn’t just have one of those in the last villain book…oh wait, we did) with the added power of being able to make people angry. This wouldn’t be so bad but his motivation is to take over the world eventually. By himself, with those abilities? His background as an alien convict opens more doors for storytelling than he does himself.

It includes the additions to the character sheets of how much XP the villains are worth, even showing thwarted vs. actually captured, so that appears to be a regular thing now. And for what it’s worth this is not part two of the little trilogy they were trying to string together starting with the mini-adventure packed in with the last villain book the company released. I’m pretty sure I’d be even more disappointed with that anthology adventure if this was the next product slapped onto it.

There’s also an add-on for a new rule regarding weapons tied to a hero’s particular theme, allowing for a small pool of weapons or devices sacrificing pure power in the interests of a little extra breadth. I think it’s an interesting idea and could help keep a player’s list of powers fresh for a longer time, since after a while a set of rules with no real growth system for powers makes them seem kind of stale. The two characters used as examples even show up in the counter sheets, although no sheets for them are to be seen. It might be fun to write them up…

I guess the thing I’m most curious about from this book are how sometimes it name-drops various superheroes the villains included have run into before. With a hero roster book being one of FGU’s upcoming releases, can we look forward to seeing them? And hopefully finding something more memorable to use there?

No comments:

Post a Comment