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World on Fire» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Hot Stuff! IR#51 rss

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Jaime Lawrence
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World on Fire is a campaign setting for Spycraft 2.0, in fact, it's the default setting in many ways. The last Spycraft product to carry the Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) logo, it is a fully realised setting based on the Spycraft: Collectible Card Game, an alternative reality which differs from our own significantly in recent events, but has a number of attitudinal similarities.

The book is not of terribly high quality; the cover has a natural tendency to bend and the pages are a lower grade of paper than we're used to for RPGs today, but let's face it, even at this point we had come a long way, baby. Again, a product of the pre-Fantasy Flight Games days, the book is black and white throughout. A couple of colour illustrations would have been nice, but in the end it's not really the pretty pictures we buy RPGs for.

After a brief introduction, the book launches into the background story. To summarise, during the cold war, rogue elements of the CIA, KGB and MI-6 (or at least, their shadowy, controlling upper echelons) combined to form an organisation dedicated to ensuring that the atmosphere of the time continued, even if the war itself ended - it was important to them that things remained stable, for the future of espionage looked shaky. This group, the Shadow Patriots, forms the core 'good guy' faction for the game.

Another post-cold war offshoot of the CIA devoted to the freedom of information, the Banshee Net, became responsible for one of the setting's major differences from our world. When their leader was assassinated, the Banshees released all of the CIA files that they had about all the world's politicians and governments. Overnight, they ruined the careers of two thirds of the world's leaders, from local to national levels. The events of 9/11 seemed far less significant in the wake of such incredible mistrust.

Other events and groups also distinguish the World on Fire also; the virus attacks, barely thwarted by the Shadow Patriots, but not before wiping out many small European towns; the invasion of Russia by China, led by the Nine Tiger Dynasty and the creation of a virtually unrestricted agency under the auspices of the United Nations.

The book also looks at new mechanics, including expansion of the base classes, a number of prestige classes and new campaign qualities, including one that advantages players who choose a firm ideological allegiance. Later chapters expand the feat tree in virtually every direction and examine the ways to chop and change the setting into other campaigns.

Strangely, a lengthy chapter in the middle of the book examines real world tradecraft and the way it works, with a view to using this in a campaign. What confuses me is why this is in a campaign book, instead of being in the main rule book? Still, it is fairly comprehensive and well written.

World On Fire is a grand vision of a world overtaken by the Great Game. It does ask that players accept a lot with a proverbial grain of salt and are prepared to do a lot of reading about the world to prepare themselves, but the rewards of the setting seem great. The book is still very much in the AEG mode, showing a young Crafty Games and there are a few typos and logical mis-steps, but for all that, the book is sound. It scores 8 secret factions out of 10.
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Jeffry Willis
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Nice review. One of the Spycraft books I have yet to pick up.

What was meant by the 'a product of the pre-Fantasy Flight Games days' reference?
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Rhiannon D
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Jeffrywith1e wrote:

What was meant by the 'a product of the pre-Fantasy Flight Games days' reference?


I'm assuming this is a reference to Jaime's belief that Fantasy-Flight-produced RPGs have elaborate presentation in terms of artwork, layout, etc.
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Jeffry Willis
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Ok. I probably would've used Paizo's products in that regard. Would you consider FFG's nicer than Paizo's?
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Benj Davis
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I don't think Jaime's the person to ask there, since he hates D&D. I don't think he's really looked at Paizo's work.
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Jeffry Willis
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All of Crafty's RPG print products are B&W as far as I've seen. I think the art has improved in Fantasy Craft books over the Spycraft 2.0 (which I thought the art was just OK, comic-booky and not great comic-booky at that). Spycraft 1.0's art was better. Especially the cover art.

Where people unfamiliar with the card game setting require a lot of reading to get caught up is where this book loses me. I'm sure the setting is pretty cool, I'm glad Third Edition will be receiving a new setting all the same.
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Jaime Lawrence
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Jeffrywith1e wrote:
Ok. I probably would've used Paizo's products in that regard. Would you consider FFG's nicer than Paizo's?


Totally. Paizo didn't really do much that hadn't already been done (by AEG, for example). Fantasy Flight's RPGs really raised the bar on production values and art use. That's my feeling, anyway.
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wayne r
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Hida Mann wrote:


Strangely, a lengthy chapter in the middle of the book examines real world tradecraft and the way it works, with a view to using this in a campaign. What confuses me is why this is in a campaign book, instead of being in the main rule book? Still, it is fairly comprehensive and well written.


SpyCraft 2.0 was meant to be more of a generic modern genre rpg instead of pigeonholing it as an espionage genre type rpg. Since WoF dealt mostly in the shadowy world of Earth, they thought it more appropriate to include spy related articles in that setting book than in the corebook (which would have increased the already large page count).
 
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