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I Love the Corps: Mission Dossier
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2018 09:04:24

If you are bewildered by the array of potential offered by I Love the Corps RPG and are not sure quite where to start, this work contain three full adventures jam-packed with science-fiction military action horror to keep your group busy for quite a while! They are distinctly different, so you might like to try them all to taste the scope of the game or pick the one closest to the sort of game that you and your group prefer, perhaps using that to start off your own campaign. Given the differences between them, each comes with pre-generated characters suited to the demands of the adventure in question.

The adventures involve Peacekeepers contending with dark forces behind organised riots, Intelligence Operatives investigating a mysterious lone city on an unexplored planet and a crack Black Ops team with no idea where they are. Each one highlights different aspects of the game from high action gorefests to low action investigation, but all provide opportunities for combat and more peaceful interaction and present moral ambiquities, gruelling decisions and a fair bit of mind-bending horror. Each one is made up of three chapters starting with Personnel Files, where you'll find the pre-generated characters and information on the squad and how they fit into the adventure, along with notes on how to utilise your own characters if preferred. Next, Command Directives gives an overview of the plot and how it might play out, along with ideas for further adventures should this one appeal. Finally, Field Report provides information on specific locations complete with maps, details of suitable hosile forces to drop in, and suggestions for how to utilise game mechanics.

The first adventure, Psychosis, involves Peacekeepers dealing with a riot and starts off by explaining where Peacekeepers fit in to the Marine tabloe of organisation. After detailed character sheets for the pre-gens, including notes on how they view each other and slightly disconcerting mugshots that show (I think) male and female versions of the same character simultaneously (they're composite left- and right-side different images), supposedly to allow the player to choose the gender of the character - given that the ruleset makes no distinctions, you can play male or female as you please - we get on to the mission itself, which involves a planet called Emerald that has only recently joined the Colonial Dominion, not - it is rumoured - by the choice of the citizens living there. There's plenty of background (some of which is not known to anyone except the GM) as well as an exposition of events and likely outcomes. There's quite a lot to take in but everything you'll need is there.

Next, the second adventure is Vultures. This time the squad is Military Intelligence, and this is a very psychological adventure with each pre-gen character having secrets of their own as well as the ones they've been sent to uncover. They have just finished their Military Intelligence training and this is to be their first mission: investigating a mysterious city on what is supposed to be an uninhabited planet that's beeing assessed for its suitability for colonisation. The adventure itself actually opens with those final training exercises to help you bring over the feeling of a squad that has trained long and hard together before they go into the field for real. All is revealed in the background notes, and boy, are the party in for a surprise!

The final adventure is Until The Last Bullet Flies involving a black ops squad so secret that even they themselves don't know how much of what they think they know and remember is true! This can lead to some startling personal discoveries during the course of the adventure. Indeed the entire mission is about perceptions of reality and it makes for a truly mind-bending experience. This is one of the times I hate reviewing, I'd have loved to have played this adventure, but now I've read it!

Any of the adventures can be run as a one-off, but most have scope for further adventures (the second one might be a bit problematic) if you like the situation and the characters provided. They give a good idea of the wide range of plotlines and campaigns that you can run with I Love the Corps as well as providing three exciting missions to run with your group.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Love the Corps: Mission Dossier
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I Love the Corps: Classified Materials
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/19/2018 11:10:18

This, the companion volume to the Marine Training Manual, provides a game master guide to complete the core rules for I Love the Corps. It provides guidance on putting your own spin on the setting (and deciding just why Earth was abandoned in 2200), advice on creating adventures and campaigns based on the squad your players have come up with, premade colonies and monsters/aliens, and rules for designing your own. Plenty to get your teeth into here.

The Introduction lays out the contents in more detail, beginning by talking about the effect the abandonment of Earth has had on the universe as a whole... a bit of a rant and definitely from the point of view of the Colonial Dominion and the more rabid members of the Colonial Marine Corps - you know the sort, maybe an eager young recruit who has swallowed everything he's been told uncritically and with no life experience to balance it, or the veteran pontificating over a beer in a veteran's club to an audience of like-minded souls. It then explains the purpose of the book and how it is made up of three sections covering various aspects of game mastering this game. And there's the obligatory 'Players Keep Out' notice, as if nobody ever both played AND GMed a game they enjoy!

First up is Section 1: Special Operations. This begins by pointing out that the first step in designing an adventure or a campaign is to determine a collective purpose for the party. If your players already have characters, what sort of things are they good at? Or you may decide that you want to run covert ops, deep beind enemy lines (or whatever) and so inform your players so that they can come up with suitable characters. It then runs through various suggestions for squad types and what sort of missions to send them on to get you thinking about the options. Ideas are far-ranging and even include non-Marine options - the residents of a space station, a gang of criminals or a group of mercenaries. Police/security or rebels are also options. As I read through, another one comes to mind: the media.

Whilst all these options suggest appropriate campaign themes, the discussion moves on to look at wider themes like conspiracy, corruption or attempts to answer questions such as Is humanity worth saving? Are aliens manipulating us? Are psychics a threat? Or perhaps this squad are soldiers not of the Colonial Dominion but of another national power. Propaganda. Experiements gone wrong. Pirates... or even a dark comedy. High action or gritty reality. Out-and-out horror survival. There are so many choices, so choose wisely. This moves on to discuss creating the right atmosphere by the way in which both Action Scenes and Narrative Scenes are played out. Maybe you want to induce paranoia or force the squad to make difficult decisions.

Then we get down to the rules and how to use them to best effect in creating the story you'd like to tell with your group. This also covers deciding how lethal (to player-characters) you want your adventures to be, delivering mission briefings, even running the squad through at least part of Boot Camp before the adventures proper begin! Within a campaign, will the squad travel the galaxy, or are they stuck on an unpromising lump of rock and have to defend it or merely survive?

Next, Section 2: Intelligence Report explores how the game is designed so that each GM can fine-tune the setting to suit the stories they want to tell. For a start, why did Humanity abandon Earth? That's up to you, but if you find that a scary proposition there is advice and guidance to help you decide on what happened in your universe. Even once that is decided, there is plenty more to figure out... like how much the average Colonial Dominion citizen knows about it. Dark secret, something uncomfortable that people just don't talk about, or just another historical fact? If they were driven off by an alien invasion, what happened to the aliens? Do they still pose a threat? As you can imagine thinking about these considerations raises a lot of questions which you are going to have to answer, preferably before your group starts asking them. Fortunately there are lots of ideas to pick through. Meteorites. Infections or mutations. Environmental destruction. A massive solar flare. If you choose one of the proffered options there are notes on how that will affect the rest of the setting.

The discussion moves on to how to describe the different environments in which the squad is likely to have to operate. Everything from orbital habitats to jungle villages are given a few paragraphs on which you can build. The next topic is the creation of entire colonies from scratch. There's a wealth of detail here to help you come up with varied, interesting and vivid colonies for your Marines to visit. This is basically world-building, you'll need to decide everything from what the planet is like to the people who live there and what they do and what the indigenous wildlife is like. Sample colonies and story ideas are provided to get you started. Finally, there's a lot about equipment, especially vehicles for air, sea, land, and space travel.

The final part, Section 3: Threat Assessment is all about creating opposition for your Marines (and allies as well, of course - not everyone they meet wants to kill them!). There's a huge amount here of how to set them up according to your needs - human combatants to monsters and aliens that will freak out the most grounded and balanced Marine. It's all constructed around the core ruleset, so a vast number of Aspects are provided to make truly horrific adversaries that work according to the same game mechanics as the Marines facing them. The names may be a bit silly at times, but the flavour is there to build opposition that's scary, unstoppable or whatever you want to make them be. Psychic abilities are included, of course, and there are notes on novel forms of armour and weapons - and other tech - that you can use to make aliens really... alien.

Overall, this book enables you to take the core rules and shake and bake them into a kick-ass game of military adventure in a science-fiction universe, with layers of horror that may be applied as you see fit. The amount of customisation that you can do to make your game really your own is awesome!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Love the Corps: Classified Materials
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I Love the Corps: Marine Training Manual
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/14/2018 13:53:43

If you want to play a game that combines science fiction, military action and horror (but doesn't take itself TOO seriously, without being annoyingly comedic) this could be what you are looking for. This book is the player's handbook, so both GM and players need to be conversant with its content.

The Introduction begins with an overview of the current situation. It is now 2450 and Earth has been uninhabitable since 2200. Former colonies near and far flourish, some have joined the Colonial Dominion. These have contributed to the formation of the United Colonial Marine Corps, the military arm of the Colonial Dominion. Extraterrestial lifeforms are known to exist but only one alien sentient race is officially recognised as an ally. A brief explanation of what a role-playing game actually is follows.

The rest of the book is made up of three sections. The first, Mission Briefing, elaborates on the background and setting of the game. Next is Boot Camp, which runs through the character creation process and basic rules, and finally Rules of Engagement goes into much more detail about how to play including loads of hints and suggestions about how to play well, using your abilites to best effect.

Mission Briefing opens with the underlying concepts of the setting, on the grounds that to role-play a Colonial Marine well you need to sound like you are familiar with the universe in which your character lives. Different colonies take pride in different things, and many cling to vestiges of Earth culture even though their homeworld is long gone (the reason why being left to the GM, by the way). Some colonies refuse to join the Colonial Dominion, but they are regarded with suspicion at best if not classed outright as rebel scum. The Colonial Dominion is not a centralised government, but a federation of independents. We also hear about communications, space travel and various kinds of human modifications... and 'dupes' (mechanical humaniod duplicates, or androids). There are mecha pilots, psychics and sensitives, too.

Next this section covers everyday tech, the stuff most people know how to use even if they don't know how it works. Holoboards and holoterminals replace computers and telephones, artificial intelligences and artificial gravity, all these and many, many more. Space travel is also covered here, along with stasis pods and other devices.

Moving on, Boot Camp opens with an overview of the rules, so that you can make informed choices when creating your character. It begins while explaining that characters are defined by their Abilities, and that the game itself is made up of Action Scenes and Narrative Scenes. Each scene is made up of Beats - three for a Narrative Scene and as many as the GM sees fit for an Action Scene. In each Beat, a character may do two ability-related things. It sounds a bit mechanical, but it actually flows a lot better than it sounds on paper once the group gets used to it. There are two ways of using Abilities, Active and Passive. Active uses are resolved by rolling 1d6 and adding the relevant Ability statistic, Passive ones by adding +3 during a Narrative Scene or +1 during an Action one, and may only be attempted using an Ability that you've actually put points into. Either way, your total is matched against a Target Number (which can be an opponent's total if it's an opposed action - fighting, or untying a knot someone else tied, whatever) and if you exceed it you gain Success Levels, the more of these the better you do at whatever you were attempting. Of course, there are a whole bunch of modifiers and conditions that may be applied, but that's the core of the system.

Then we get down to the business of creating a character. There are eight Abilities and each covers a broad array of thematically-linked actions. The actions include just about everything you'd expect a soldier to be able to do, although the Ability names themselves are a bit silly - 'Drop and Give Me Fifty' is the Ability covering physical endurance and athleticism, for example. There are also Aspects, which can have various modifying effects, and help you hone a character to the particular image you have in mind. To decide your Ability stats and any Aspects you decide to have, you get twenty points to spend. Abilities range from 0 to 4. There's a huge amount of further detail to explain just what everything is and how it works in game, as well as an armoury-full of gear. Some is part of your standard load-out, other stuff you might need to pay for. There is an array of sample characters to either pick up and play or to use as templates for creating your own. Each is 'named' for the defining nature of that character, you will need to come up with your own name and background if you want to use them. There's more: ranks, physical and mental trauma - and if you like reading tables of horrible outcomes you are in for a treat - and more.

The final section, Rules of Engagement, gets into a lot more detail about how the game actually works in play, starting with social situations and how you can use apposite Abilities to navigate your way through them. Plenty of examples here and throughout, so by the time you've finished you should be conversant with all the things your character can do and how to use them to best effect during play. Want to search a location, or defuse that bomb you just found? This is where you find out how. There are plenty of ideas for combat here too, and you can even pick up some tactics ready for the battlefield. The aim of the game (apart perhaps for survival, but do you really want to live for ever, Marine?) is to achieve glory in some manner. When you do that you earn Glory Points, which are used to develop your character's abilities later on. That doesn't necessarily mean being super-courageous, although that certainly counts (and might earn you a medal as well), it can also be for advancing the plotline, coming up with good ideas or even making the GM laugh!

This book provides an extremely comprehensive introduction to the game and how to play it, essential for anyone wanting to play I Love The Corps... go on, you know you want to have a go at being a Marine!

"Watch those corners..."



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Love the Corps: Marine Training Manual
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I Love the Corps Quickstart
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/12/2018 07:44:34

The Introduction begins by letting you know what you are getting into (if it is a bit of a shock to be called a 'maggot' in the opening sentence, be glad you haven't really enlisted!). In this work, there's enough of an overview of the setting and rules to let you play through the scenario provided, and six pregenerated characters with which to do so. It's a good way to find out if you like this particular science-fiction action/horror game before parting with any money.

The setting is familiar to anyone who's watched the Alien movies, especially the second one (Aliens). Characters are members of the Colonial Marine Corps in the year 2450, in a future that saw Earth abandoned in 2200 (for reasons that are left to the GM to determine, but you don't need to worry about that now. Some of the former colonies have banded together to form the Colonial Dominion, of which the Colonial Marines are the military arm. The rest are rebel scum, of course! Only one lot of sentient aliens has been encountered so far, or at least that's what official reports say.

Then Chapter 1: Rules and Setting begins with a collection of terms and concepts, a ready-reference for Corps jargon and current technology, followed by 'Basic Rules and Regs' which summarises enough of the rules to let you play the game. It's all based around Abilities, of which there are eight. They've been given rather silly names but boil down to describing how smart, strong, tough, good with weapons and so on each character is. There are also Aspects, which put an individual spin on things for each character. He also needs a Gear Loadout, the equipment and weapons that enable him to survive.

There are two sorts of scenes: action scenes and narrative scenes. Narrative scenes are descriptive, often covering large periods of time, and there is little or no need for recourse to the game mechanics. Action scenes occur when danger is about, and can get fast and furious... and then it's time to get the dice out. Outcomes are determined by rolling a d6 and adding the appropriate Ability, with - of course - a range of modifiers as appropriate, and comparing what you get with a Target Number - which, if you are fighting, will be what your opponent rolled. Of course there's more: range, weapon effects and such like need to be taken into account. There are some summary charts and tables that come in handy when you actually start to play.

Next, Chapter 2: Personnel Files presents six ready-to-play Marines. As well as their statistics (which have notes about what they mean right there beside them, very useful), there are similarly-annotated gear lists and some background to help you get a feel for the character. Although they have been named, only a first initial has been given so you may choose whether the one you play is a bloke or a bird. Interestingly, all have led troubled lives and messed up somewhere along the line, and have now been drafted into a penal legion... beats gaol time, I suppose!

Finally, the adventure 'Trial by Fire' builds on the fact that all the characters have a criminal record. After basic training, the squad was shipped out in coldsleep for 'advanced training' - an automated facility where they, and others, will be tested. In essence it's a puzzle dungeon designed to test teamwork and reliability - something the Corps wants to know about this squad before sending them into REAL combat. The map is for the GM alone, 'cos it shows all the traps. And the nasty things that might be unleashed...

The system suits fast and furious action, and the GM is supplied with tracking sheets to keep on top of everything. The adventure itself is an artificial situation, but it's intended to be one... and the GM has considerable leeway as to how to use the resources provided against the squad. Keep things moving, this scenario isn't much of a one for character development and interaction: play it for what it is and have a blast!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
I Love the Corps Quickstart
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I Love the Corps: Classified Materials
by Martin P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2018 05:31:41

Got a review copy of this, which my 14 year old son then GM'd with his teenage friends. They had a blast. I wrote a full review for Black Gate Magazine. In summary, this is not a "lite" game, and requires some GM prep. However, it runs very smoothely indeed, brilliantly emulating gritty 1990s SciFi. It also has a very well developed and self-consistent setting that lends itself to the kind of military adventures you'd want to run.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Love the Corps: Classified Materials
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I Love the Corps: Marine Training Manual
by Martin P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2018 05:27:13

Got a review copy of this, which my 14 year old son then GM'd with his teenage friends. They had a blast. I wrote a full review for Black Gate Magazine. In summary, this is not a "lite" game, and requires some GM prep. However, it runs very smoothely indeed, brilliantly emulating gritty 1990s SciFi. It also has a very well developed and self-consistent setting that lends itself to the kind of military adventures you'd want to run.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Love the Corps: Marine Training Manual
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