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Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Publisher: Contested Ground Studios
by Scott F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/19/2011 16:00:21

This is definitely a true Gothic Horror game that scares the pants off my players, and that's a pretty hard thing to do in a "Speculative Fiction" game, let alone a Science Fiction one. The claustrophobic, conspiratorial, and violent nature of this game is beautifully designed easy to read, packed with information about a city you can't get of, yet provides for endless adventuring opportunities. It's just a shame that the majority of the artwork wasn't more dynamic and original, a fair amount coming from public domain sources.

A nice return to old school gaming with sleek new designs. a|state is very similar in nature to 1st generation games by FGU, such as Aftermath; or Iron Crown Enterprises to which it is very reminiscent of the 4th ed. Rolemaster FRP detail to combat and character creation. The Point Cost and Template system provides the purchasing power for your ten mental and physical Attributes, your Secondary Attributes, Wealth, Social Class, Education; which in turn, determine your Point Cost for Skills. Traits (or Advantages/Disadvantages) subtract and add to initial point cost. Using a simple d100 engine, this makes it incredibly easy to modify most of the major rolls.

Although it has ties to the past, with semi-complex character creation and combat/vehicle combat systems, it hasn't been avoiding modern minimalist systems. Incorporating sleek new design elements - such as rolling against your Attributes and only rolling against Skills only if it's justifiable; an innovative experience point system in which the players rate each others role playing and can create new traits, archetypes, templates, ; getting the players themselves to motivate the gaming, sometimes using the "Paranoia" technique of "you say it, you've played it" to push the characters into a fast, furious thinking on their toes actors, which in turn motivates the actors to react than do nothing at all. And as long as there's a reaction, a subtle Magguffin is often enough to get the characters creating their own paranoid adventures (which are usually well founded), in a city with almost endless story potential.

Luckily, the system is designed to be tinkered with. so adding "house rules" is something I highly encourage. Adding those rules that you just "can't get rid of" improves the game tenfold. I plan on running this for a while.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher: Contested Ground Studios
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2009 09:02:18

A Flames Rising Review:

a|state is a game, designed by Contested Ground Studios, that deals with finding that soft, white light of hope in the murky depths of poverty, crime, and The City.

a|state’s setting is post-apocalyptic futurism, but with a few twists. Unlike other post-apocalyptic settings, there are a lot of unknowns. Something happened, something that ripped the fabric of modern-day reality off from civilization’s spoiled body. Technology is limited, identities are a luxury, and survival of the fittest is a way of life—not just a catch phrase. The City, assuredly a conglomeration of some things that “were”, has no name. In this place with no name, you battle against your greatest enemy—yourself.

Thematically, a|state reaches to a place that rests within all of us. It is a place that houses a faint glimmer of hope that somehow, some way or another, begs to be let out. This is not a game about combat, who gets the most stuff, or who levels up the fastest. This isn’t about redemption or loss; you can start out the game with nothing. This is a game about tension. If you make the wrong decisions, the whole society comes crashing down.

Creatively, a|state manages to take an idea (post-apocalyptic) and forge it into something new. “Religion”, as we know it, is not addressed at length in this mythos, but it doesn’t have to be. Too often western religious ideologies are the root behind post-apocalyptic speculations. As a result, some futuristic musings exclude non-Christian traditions. a|state disregards our current society in terms of its inner workings. Instead, it seems to have created its setting in this manner, “What kind of technological advances would happen hundreds of years from now? Okay, now disaster strikes. What is left over? Speed it up another few, hundred years. What would it look like?”

Having played a|state a handful of times, I can say that a|state is a game about playing the hero. Actions speak louder than words, and carelessness will be rewarded with oblivion. a|state is not about physical rebirth (or The City’s Rebuild) rather, it is about spiritual growth. It acknowledges that every person is a part of bringing hope, and it rewards players that do so—even if they bring it in the midst of so much self-pity and sorrow that the players, themselves, may not even realize what they are doing.

a|state is an extremely playable stand-alone game that works well for short, as well as longer-term, adventures. Whether you are rescuing children, or breaking up a crime boss fight, there is lots to do in “The City.”

Review by Monica Valentinelli

Read the full review at FlamesRising.com: http://www.flamesrising.com/astate-role-playing-game-review

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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