FASERIPopedia Rules Cyclopedia
FASERIPopedia is a retro-clone successor of the original FASERIP system using the OGL 1.0, created solely by a one-being team. It weighs in at nearly 400 pages. It is designed to be an all-in-one compendium of the original rule concepts plus additional options and resources for both Players and Judges.
For those not familiar, the original FASERIP system was designed by TSR for Marvel Comics, and the resulting game was officially called the Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game. The term FASERIP comes from the 7 primary character attributes of Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intuition, and Psyche. The system is designed to be able to replicate anything that can happen in a comic book world, and it succeeded at doing exactly that.
FASERIPopedia Chapter OverviewChapters 1-5 covers the introduction, the basics of the Rank and Value-based resolution system and the character creation process. (p.9-145)
Chapters 6-9 details tactical and distance movement, as well as movement through space and time, along with some new options, including a suggested set of rules to govern time travel – a common comic book staple.(p.146-163)
Chapters 10 reviews combat options and details the results of offensive, tactical, and defensive actions, plus adds a few new actions to the system. (p.164-186)
Chapter 11 covers the karma based character advancement options with choices ranging from increasing abilities to inventions to official teams. (p.187-203)
Chapter 12 introduces optional rules for Kaiju: extreme giant monsters of comic book and cinema fame. (p.204-208)
Chapters 13-15 gives new options for a multitude of places: dimensional realms and refuges as well as comic book microstates. (p.209-231)
Chapters 16-19 provides numerous sample beings ranging from realistic to mythological and include sample NPCs and organizations – complete with catchy acronyms. (p.233-302)
Chapters 20-23 finish off the book with a multitude of equipment, weapons, vehicles, steeds, and some random tables for places, encounters, and events. (p.303-395)
System and Character Creation
Chapter 1 – Basic system
FASERIPopedia uses the d100 Rank/Color/Value resolution system.
Briefly, there are a total of 18 possible Ranks ranging in capability from helpless to cosmically powerful. Action and Conflict resolution is done by rolling d100 or 2d10 to come up with a result of 1-100. This result is cross referenced on the Rank Outcome table to come with one of four colors: White (fail), Bronze (fail or success depending on action), Silver (success), or Gold (big success). The higher the Rank of ability being used for the action, the better the chance of getting a successful color. Better color results often grant bonus effects to an Action appropriate to a comic book world. Value is the numeric value of the Rank and is used to inform damage and durability/health.
This system allows for several quick ways of resolving an action or conflict and getting back to the story: by Rank comparison (the higher rank wins), by Color (the result specified on the table for the Action, or in the case of opposed rolls whomever rolls the higher color wins), or by Value (higher value wins).
In the original, the results of what happened on a success/fail with each action and the Rank/Color Value table were all part of a single universal table, but in FASERIPopedia, this information has been broken out into multiple tables between this chapter, the movement chapter, and the combat chapter.
Chapter 2 – Creating characters
Creating a character starts with the Origin story and what Type of event granted the character their powers. FASERIPopedia provides a multitude of options for Origin and Type as well as a table for random generation. The Origin and Type results will determine how the FASERIP primary stats are generated, and might influence the secondary stats of Health, Karma, Wealth, Popularity, Contacts, Skills and Powers.
Health is the equivalent of hit points or durability and starts equal to the sum of the numeric values of the FASE Ranks. Karma is the equivalent of experience points and starts equal to the sum of the numeric value of the RIP Ranks, unlike most games where characters start with 0 XP. Wealth is given a starting Rank, and may be influenced by Skills (which include occupations) as well as in-game actions. Starting Popularity is determined by Origin and Type, and thereafter is controlled by in-game RP choices.
Contacts my be a dependent that needs protecting, or a person one can get help or resources from. Skills lump together talents and occupations as well as general non-power abilities. FASERIPopedia appears to have combined the separate Powers/Contacts/Talents table of the original into the Origin and Type table. The Skill list more than triples the available skills and introduces Advanced skills which can be improved.
With only seven primary characteristics and seven secondary characteristics, characters are fairly simple to create and easy to reference or track during play.
Chapter 3 – Powers
Chapter 4 – Power descriptions
Powers are among the core abilities of most heroes, and FASERIPopedia provides a generous set of options to choose from including many limitations to customize with. Acquiring Power Stunts (special tricks one can do with a given power) appears to be unchanged. Like the original, Power Stunts are left up to the Judge and Player to work out the details. This section also contains the important Weights and Measures table, which provides speed, distance, range, area of effect and other important information useful when determining what can be done with a given Ability or Power.
Chapter 5 – Magic
Magic spells are treated as a kind of super power and follow the same rules. Some options regarding magical based organizations are also presented.
Moving in Time and Space
Chapter 6 – Time travel
Chapter 7 – Zoomways
The laws of time travel are a nice touch and provide a useful optional framework for handling this comic book staple. The concept of alternate histories is introduced with some suggestions for inspriation. Zoomways are a unique creation by the author which adds options for travel and provide a possible bare-bones skeleton of a campaign setting.
Chapter 8 – Time and Movement
Chapter 9 – Movement
These chapters detail various comic book forms of movement and covers what abilities are associated with each, as well as how more powerful Ranks increase what Abilities and Powers can affect. A number of initiative options are also presented to choose from. Movement is tracked by “areas” which is canonically the amount of space that can be shown in a comic book panel without losing details (or about 200 square feet). Time is tracked by rounds, which is the amount of time that passes per average comic book panel (which averages to about 6 seconds in FASERIPopedia).
Chapter 10 – Combat
FASERIPopedia again expands upon the number of combat actions available compared to the original, and provides detailed Color results for each type of action. Common situations that frequently arise during a comic book combat are also touched upon. One change from the original rules is the potential for getting both Stun and Slam effects as a single Color resolution outcome, instead of one or the other. Combat results can be influenced by karma as well, see below for more details.
Chapter 11 – Self improvement
Karma are the experience points of the system. Like the original, karma can be gained by a character keeping promises and appointments or spending time with family (not always easy for the aspiring hero), as well as defeating villains, preventing crime, or saving victims of disasters. Karma is lost by performing negative actions. Karma can be spent on improving existing Abilities or Powers, acquiring new Abilities, Powers, Contacts, Skills, or inventing Equipment.
The effects of karma going negative are covered. Karma for characters being earned by player’s participation and contributions to the group are built in to the system. A new alternative method of improvement is available. Another very important point of Karma is that it can be spent to influence one’s own die rolls, giving the players a direct method of influencing outcomes, and through that the story.
A number of new options for various types of teams and their dynamics are presented. New options for headquarters are covered in detail.
Chapter 12 – Kaiju
Kaiju – monstrously large creatures from comics and cinema – are a staple of heroic games. FASERIPopedia offers rules for creating customized Kaiju and interacting with them. Available sizes range from hundreds of feet to thousands of feet in the case of Titan Kaiju. Possible origins are also covered in some detail.
Chapter 13 – Alternate Realms
Chapter 14 – Refuge locations
Chapter 15 – Comic book Microstates
The incredible locations presented in this section can be used as battlegrounds with special environments or as destinations in their own right. They can serve as the home base of a hidden groups, the origin of an invading force, or as the hidden redoubt of secluded beings. They range from the unique to the humorous to types commonly found in other fantastical works.
Chapter 16 – Acronym groups
Chapter 17 – Animals
Chapter 18 – Creatures
Chapter 19 – Sample NPCs
The world is filled with NPCs. Keeping track of them, who they know, with whom they are affiliated, and coming up with new individuals on the spot is often a laborious chore for the Judge. FASERIPopedia provides an amazing selection or pre-generated NPCs, animals, creatures from myth and legend, and groups to choose from, along with suggested stats and powers.
Chapter 20 – Items
Chapter 21 – Vehicles & steeds
Chapter 22 – Weapons
Chapter 23 – Random tables for places, encounters, and events
Over 90 pages of stuff finishes off the FASERIPopedia, complete with suggested stats and descriptions. While heavy on the tables, this section contains a plethora of ready to use items and equipment. At the very end are some random tables for places, encounters and events that Judges will find useful.
The positive karma:
The FASERIPopedia (as stated by the author) was designed to be a clone of the original rules, plus lots of options. In this regard, the FASERIPopedia succeeds admirably, sticking closely to the original rules with few changes, and adds numerous options. It makes for a handy encyclopedia of extras and pre-generated material which can be used as a companion to the original game, and is directly backwards compatible as a bonus. It is also able to be played as a stand-alone system containing pretty much everything needed to do so in a single book. The problem with aging type powers from the original game was address and fixed. The origin and age category tables provide a handy framework for those who need more structure to create a character background, or for those in a hurry.
The editorial tone of writing including embedded opinions, pop-culture references, and jokes will be familiar to anyone who has read the original game. The artwork ranges from the hand-drawn to digital works. The layout of text and tables is simple, easy to read and the PDF is searchable. Most lists are alphabetized making it easy to search them.
The ability to earn karma for characters not only by in-game actions but also by player actions is a common house-rule in many games, but here it is built into the system. There are a number of easter-egg nods to comics and mythologies scattered throughout. FASERIPopedia plays almost exactly like the original game: swift resolutions, quick results, and right back to gameplay and story. The ability of the players to influence die rolls and thus the story will be another big positive for many players and Judges.
As added points of interest, I have heard that they will be partnering with a comic book imprint, and they are currently looking for adventure module author submissions.
The negative karma:
The PDF lacks ‘front’ and ‘back’ cover art. The tables lack any color or shading to make it easier to scan across rows, and also are frequently split across pages. There is no internal hyperlinking or bookmarks making general navigation and finding specific sections more difficult. The copyright statement placed in the header of each page breaks the flow of readability. Including a master table of some kind or replicating all the tables from the book at the back for ease of reference would improve referencing the material. The “Shift 0” problem of the original game remains unaddressed. Some points in the Origins may not be considered “kid-friendly” by certain cultures or belief systems.
There are a couple of spots where potential rules abuse is possible involving uncapped “roll twice” on certain tables and the Scrubbing Powers rule. Some people may be bothered that the Inheritance tables do not follow the Punnett square pattern. The removal of power categories might not appeal to some. There are a few spelling and grammar misses, but considering that the nearly 400 pages was created by a one-being team, this is understandable.
Overall, the FASERIPopedia is a solid offering with more positives than negatives, and what negatives there are consisting mostly of presentation and searching related issues. It serves as an excellent reference, and is an inspirational retro-clone retaining the comic book speed of play of the original game. Anyone who likes the FASERIP system, likes options, likes useful reference materials, or likes a fast-paced quick-resolving game that stays out of the way of story will most likely love the FASERIPopedia. In the spirit of the original game, it gets a Shift Z rating.
(That’s a great rating: 14/18!)