It even does that word-salad XXVC subname, before hip, marketable undertitles shortened to the point of meaninglessness became a trend. Of all the gritty reboots of a previously goofy pulp character, Buck Rogers XXVC, a roleplaying game produced by TSR back in , has a certain logic I agree with: many science-oriented pulp characters were created with the intention they would be "state of the art," written with the best scientific knowledge available. This is undercut somewhat by artists and writers resurrecting pulp heroes with nostalgic, kitsch s imagery like zeppelins and fin-helmets. Buck Rogers XXVC is about a polluted earth inhabited by gangs exploited by a villainous, arrogant Martian megacorporation. First, Buck Rogers still has alien monsters, space battles and ruthless villains, but in the words of the game manual itself, "while the flavor is the same, the ingredients are different. Heck, the main means of interstellar travel in this game are rockets.
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It even does that word-salad XXVC subname, before hip, marketable undertitles shortened to the point of meaninglessness became a trend. Of all the gritty reboots of a previously goofy pulp character, Buck Rogers XXVC, a roleplaying game produced by TSR back in , has a certain logic I agree with: many science-oriented pulp characters were created with the intention they would be "state of the art," written with the best scientific knowledge available.
This is undercut somewhat by artists and writers resurrecting pulp heroes with nostalgic, kitsch s imagery like zeppelins and fin-helmets. Buck Rogers XXVC is about a polluted earth inhabited by gangs exploited by a villainous, arrogant Martian megacorporation.
First, Buck Rogers still has alien monsters, space battles and ruthless villains, but in the words of the game manual itself, "while the flavor is the same, the ingredients are different. Heck, the main means of interstellar travel in this game are rockets. Making rockets the means of transport in the game is nothing short of a stroke of genius because with one creative choice it encapsulates the entire spirit of the setting: rockets are simultaneously plausible hard science, yet also evoke retro, classic science fiction.
Second, Buck Rogers is no stranger to varying takes. The only other property I can think of where absolutely everything changes with every single new "take" would have to be Final Fantasy.
Take a look at the Dynamite Entertainment Buck Rogers comic. Contrast that with Flash Gordon. Zarkov captures them for a rocket launch toward Mongo. They crash and encounter Ming the Merciless as prisoners, where Princess Aura falls for Flash and Flash is sent to a gladiatorial arena to die, etc.
Heck, Mongo even looks similar in most versions of Flash Gordon. Can you think of anything more fundamental to the perception of Buck Rogers than space travel? The villains were the Airlords of Han, Mongols who destroyed white civilization with superior airplanes and zeppelins. We could be here all day listing the different versions of Rogers but the point is this: Buck is so wildly divergent, beyond even the normal variability of long-lasting multimedia fictional characters, that if somebody wants to do a state of the art, scientifically accurate version The Setting The principal conflict in the game is between a conquered earth ruthlessly lorded over by a Martian evil corporation, RAM, who arrogantly view earth as a mudball only fit to be exploited for natural resources.
Get a job, hippie! One of the pirate bad guys has a rocketship named "The Free Enterprise. Another big theme of the Buck Rogers XXVC setting is genetic engineering, and how "Gennies," or genetically created people, are just as human as the rest of us but are treated as property. Sympathy for oppressed minority outsiders who often stand in the way of good land with resources on them is not exactly a theme one would expect from a conservative author, although Flint Dille only wrote the bible and the game was developed by other hands.
Thanks to Gennies, despite the setting being humans-only, the world is nonetheless filled with weird Star Wars cantina creatures.
My personal favorite Gennies in the setting are the Venusian lowlanders. On terraformed Venus, only the highlands are inhabitable to human-type life, yet a crucial cash crop can only grow in the lowlands. So humanoids were created to survive in that environment, Lowlanders, who look like the scarier brothers of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The rub is, the highland Venusians are trying to terraform Venus…which threatens the entire existence of the Lowlanders. Despite their rebellion and the fact they look like scary monsters, the Lowlanders have a pretty sympathetic position. Instead of stormtroopers, RAM use berserker, genetically engineered soldiers called Terrines, who look like the kangaroo supersoldiers from Tank Girl. In the minds of the Terrines, the highest form of life in the universe are Martian RAM corporate executives, with themselves as the second highest, and everybody else beneath them.
Ardala Valdemar for instance, is a highly connected, high-status freelance Martian RAM agent who functions as a double-dealing information broker and espionage agent. In one of the sample adventures, she seduces the sample player character, slips them a drugged drink and makes off with a valuable information disk.
Killer Kane, though, is a heck of a lot more interesting: he was a former earth rocket jock who was a lover of Wilma Deering, who after being captured by RAM agreed to work for them so Wilma would be released. There are no Tigermen, but Mars does have a nomadic cat-race who vaguely suggest the Martian Tigermen.
The failure to use the signature characters gives the overwhelming feeling the Buck Rogers elements are awkwardly welded on a totally different setting. Why does this game even exist? Buck Rogers is an IP that is frankly, overvalued. If anything, the association with Buck Rogers might have damaged the future of Buck Rogers XXVC, because a lot of gamers avoided this game thinking it was "cheesy. And can anyone imagine any possible scenario on this or any other planet where a Lone Ranger movie makes more than enough to recoup that Waterworld-level cost?
If calling it "Buck Rogers" hurt the game, why call it that at all? The reason this game exists at all is, it was created to be a borderline-illegal money pipeline out of TSR, Inc. It kills me to say that, because this was quite possibly my second or third RPG ever after Top Secret and the Palladium Ninja Turtles game and discovering its reason for existence was un-kosher business practices is like discovering the show Sesame Street was created to be a cover for a pedophile ring.
How is it as a game? It uses THAC0. In yet another respect that makes it ahead of its time, anticipating the way, years later, the d20 engine would be appropriated for even wildly inappropriate high-tech genres. After all, if a game is barely functional, it is vastly improved by the addition of street slang and zombie apocalypses, right? Buck Rogers XXVC game commits a faux pas common to early class and level games, one inexcusable for a game made at its late date: it makes necessary to group survival some un-fun to play support classes, Medic and Engineer.
These classes are a great idea for everybody but the poor schlub player that actually has to suck it up and be the healer, that is. There is no way to use pilot skill to coax speed or performance, no way to dogfight, no way to position oneself for a chance to hit, no way to perform evasive maneuvers.
Two ships with the same hit points, weaponry and dexterity bonus, but one with a 1st Level Rocketjock and the other with Buck Rogers, will have no discernable difference in combat statistics other than THAC0 for gunnery. In the published adventures, the only times there are any actual rolls required for Piloting are for landings. Not even exciting landings, either, like gliding a crashing rocket safely…just regular, routine consequence-free landings, of the kind airline pilots make daily.
In terms of drama and excitement this is somewhere up there with requiring skill checks for bathroom use. Laser guns deal 1d8 points of damage per successful shot. A lot of games suffered from Katanaitis back in the day but this kicks it up a whole new level if the katana does the same or more damage than both a laser gun and a 1d10 monomolecular blade from years in the future.
That said, there are a few extremely cool parts of the system. To determine where a planet might be at any given time, just advance or subtract its position by one tick for every month.
So, if you want to know how far Mars and Earth are from each other in February , just advance earth and Mars by 13 notches. The system even comes with a transparent ruler you can put on the solar system map to measure how much fuel measured in hit points it takes to make a trip.
As communications are far from instantaneous and happen at light speed, it can even tell how much delay there is between signals it usually takes 13 minutes to send a message to Mars, which is 13 light-minutes away.
However, I would never, ever, ever, ever advise downloading it.
Buck Rogers XXVC
Dille who may have contributed the nickname "Buck" to the character. First, a board game came out in , later followed by a role-playing game in The latter was based on the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition rules, but there are some small differences. Its universe was limited to the solar system , and revolved heavily around interplanetary travel and terraforming. A few dozen expansion modules were published, as well as a line of novels and graphic novels. This war causes many governments of Earth to abandon conventional warfare and embrace large alliances.
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