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Better Angels
$39.99 $19.99
Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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Better Angels
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Better Angels
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/16/2013 06:37:28

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/08/16/tabletop-review-better-angels/

Written by Greg Stolze, Better Angels is the newest game from Arc Dream Publishing and uses the One Role Engine or O.R.E for short. I am, unquestionably, a fan of superheroes and the comic book genre in general so this game is right up my alley. If it has a cape and a fancy leotard, then there is a good chance I have read it. This type of idea has always held a place in my heart. The battle of Good vs. Evil, the mighty powers and city-smashing brawls have added spark to my imagination for as long as I can remember. Of course there was also the desire to play the black hearted villain, and the idea of being the foil to the hero always intrigued me.

Better Angels is definitely not a game based around constantly doing the “right thing” or living a life of Truth and Liberty. It is a game about dealing with your inner demon (literally) while exploring the limits of your ill-gotten powers. As one begins to read this PDF they are greeted by a several page story that begins to give you a feel for the setting. This part is followed up by a description of real world EVIL versus the over-the-top EEEVIL of Better Angels.

It is at this point that, at least for me, problems arise. The most basic precept of the game is the use of Strategies and Tactics that work to represent the internal conflict between the human host and the demonic force that inhabits them. This is where things start to get complicated. While the Strategies and Tactics are not directly tied in with the dice mechanic, it figures in incredibly heavily into the character concept. It is nice to see that the struggle between the demon and human side of the character is emphasized, but it just feels too complicated for me.

The thing one learns as they continue reading, is that the Player is not the one that controls or even creates their demon. During character creation the choices for each characters demon are made by the Player sitting to their immediate left. Once play begins, it is this same Player that controls their friend’s demon.

Now, while this is a great idea in theory, I can’t help but wonder how many problems this could cause in a group. I know from experience that there are players out there that enjoy making things difficult for the others at the table. Aside from that I worry about players who don’t fully understand the interaction rules, or simply don’t care, are not going to get the most out of this game. I understand that this is a group-to-group situation, but I feel that it is important enough to mention.

The mechanics of Better Angels are easy to understand and will be familiar to anyone with experience with this company’s games. These mechanics do a good job of representing chance while still allowing for versatility in actions and consequences. Additionally there is a section that details what should and shouldn’t be rolled on.

The next session goes into great detail about how to use the variety of Strategies and Tactics and how they can be used in different combinations to achieve different effects. This does go a long way towards helping to add further layers to the conflict between the character’s internal struggles. Unfortunately this can make things even more confusing to novice Players and Game Masters.

The list of powers is compact but does an excellent job of detailing what the different demonic abilities are. There are enough of them to create different types of characters which I do believe is an important feature in any game representing super-hero activities.

Admittedly there is more to the game than I have written about. It would be impossible to truly expound on every bit of Better Angels without making this review insanely long. All in all I admire the writer’s work and his obvious love of the genre, but for me it misses the mark. This game, while well represented, will be difficult for many readers to understand and get the “feel” of.

I understand that while this game may not be for everyone it will certainly fill the niche for some. Those who really enjoy in-depth characters, with all manner of repercussions for their actions will find this game enjoyable. Those who want a quick and easy supers-game will be better served to look elsewhere.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Better Angels
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2013 10:45:47

I have been pretty stubborn when it comes to my superhero RPGs. Unlike fantasy RPGs, I just could not see where, as far as systems would go, the genre can go. Arc Dream Publishing emphasizes that there is plenty of room for Growth with Better Angels, a truly unique take on the Superhero RPG

Why This Book IS Iron Better Angels has a lot of things very similar to other superhero systems. It has a quick and easy your roll versus my roll conflict mechanic and a small amount of stats and powers to make conflict resolution quick. Better Angels is a game where the players play villains, but even that is possible with most superhero RPGs.

What other superhero rpgs do not have is Better Angel’s character creation system. In most RPGs, each player builds their own character. In Better Angels, players create their character as a group, with players adjacent to you helping to designing major aspects of your character. Each player designs and implements the good parts of their character. However, the player next to him adds in all the vile, evil and awful things about the character. This unique character creation makes playing Better Angels a blast. The player next to you plays out the demon in you, and your character is always in conflict with this character. This weird game play makes for a fun game where you feel like you are arguing with yourself and attempting to push your own limits.

Outside of the actual game play, it should not be overlooked that the players are playing evil characters, and the book goes to great lengths to make sure players are playing comic book evil and not real life evil. The advice provided and campaign structure aids really help bridge the difficult gap it takes to run and play in an evil campaign. Because of the fun nature of Better Angels, the whole system feels more breezy than it actual is.

At 178 pages, book is pretty light for a single campaign book, a nice feature when you’re introducing a truly new system. The layout is spectacular, with everything from bookmarks to table of content fully linked and neatly organized. The art is gritty, but still possess that Iron Age of comics vibrant color look.

What is NOT Iron The character creation can take a bit of time, and its important to make sure that each player understand the rules. There’s an example in the book of a player who just glossed over the system and ended up screwing over himself and making a less “conflicted” player next to him.

The Iron Word Comic book fans who want to taste villainy in a system that is built for the bad guy should try out Better Angels. Character creation is a bit lengthy, but its worth it to play a character who is always fighting against his nature to lose control. I would love to see a system like this in a fantasy setting or as a supplement for other systems.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Better Angels
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Stuart C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2013 17:25:54

Good old fashioned supervillainy, and demonic corruption too. Who can be the most eeeeevil?

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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