As part of a seasoned role-play group I am always on the hunt to extend the amount of gaming systems that we play rather than reverting back to the systems we know and love.
So when API or apocalypse prevention Inc turned up I jumped at the chance to read through and learn it and am happy to say I am very impressed the system is quick and easy to pick up a single D20 being the only dice used, players get a wide range of races and powers to choose from, even the combat system which despite looking complex to start with, should provide fluidic combats keeping the players on their toes.
Apocalypse Prevention Inc (API) is a shadow company which has been protecting humanity and from supernatural threats since the black plague, straight off the bat you get a “men in black” vibe from the game, and it’s not a bad comparison to make the game markets itself as an “action horror game with a touch of humour”.
The pages are structured and allow for easy reading even on a computer screen (I had the PDF version) the art work is eye catching and even the running blood splatter behind the text just seems to fit.
Players get the choice of 7 “legal” races and 3 “illegal” races while the system happily mixes Magic and cybernetics without either one overpowering a character in the group that he belongs too.
Character creation is broken down into 5 steps and uses a points based creation system for statistics and skills and has inbuilt rules for starting a higher powered game.
Step one is choose concept, passion and race for your character
Concept is fairly self explanatory it’s a fairly standard starting point for any role-play game, next is passion, this is the characters motivation what drives them to do what they do, there are 17 of these to choose from and each one has the possibility of granting bonus experience, lastly its choice of races as mentioned there are 7 “legal” races and 3 “illegal” races that players can choose from however having a mixed party of these should be entirely possible.
Humans no explanation needed here
Burners – Fire demon refugees from another realm
Changelings – Shape shifters living beside humans
Lochs – Fish demons who have been dethroned from their kingdom
Spectre – Ghosts who haven’t crossed over
Taylari – Vampires (not quite the legends but at least they don’t sparkle)
Wolf people – Werewolves not much more to say
Each of the races other than humans have their own perks burners for instance have an affinity for fire, wolf people are werewolves with all the fur, Taylari being vampires have a taste for blood and also gain their own line of magic revolving around it, Changelings can shape shift not only into other people but also objects, Lochs as large fish demons are aquatic and huge in size this leave the Spectre playing a ghost has obvious benefits the obvious one being you cant be killed and can walk through walls, These races however also have their downsides for example Spectres are ghosts so have to spend points into skills allowing them to manifest and communicate with their team mates, Taylari suffer from certain vulnerabilities, the list goes on for each of the races.
Overall the balance between the Races is excellent and the concepts behind them well thought out.
Carriers – Disease eating demons
Oracles – demons who can tell the future
Tarks – unstoppable baby stealing juggernauts
While these races are “illegal” in terms of the games mechanics they are still available to play, they confer relevant bonuses and drawbacks that the legal do however with the added problem of every API agent out there will probably try to arrest and deport them off planet if they are caught, however this could lead to an interesting plot hook for players and GM’s who are willing to play with such a group.
Step two attributes,
Players spend points into the 6 main attributes which range from 1 – 10
Player must have at least one point in every attribute with 4-5 being average scores
Power – Raw physical strength
Agility – Dexterity quickness and grace
Vigor – Stamina and endurance
Intellect – Power and quickness of thought
Insight – Willpower intuition and awareness
Charm – Social graces
Nothing overly new here, points are spent on a one for one basis up to level 8 where as 9 and 10 cost 2 points each.
Step three skill points
Again not a new concept to most role-players you spend points into the 20 standard skills and the 12 fighting skills, Skills are ranked from 0-10 and as with attributes level 1-8 are on a one for one basis while levels 9 and 10 cost 2 points each, skills ranked at 4 7 and 10 gain specialities.
Step four bonus points
This is where the flair comes in humans gain extra bonus points to spend starting with 16 where as all other races have only 10, bonus points can be used to enhance characters skills, attributes and purchasing of gifts which includes magic and cybernetics, bonus points can also be gained by taking drawbacks.
Step five sub-attributes
This is where you characters health, initiative, stamina and movement are worked out using you main attributes as building blocks also combat bonuses are calculated here too.
Combat in the game is split into 3 subdivisions of time, counts, round and minutes
A count is 0.5 seconds, a round is 20 counts so 10 seconds and a minute is 6 rounds
This is about the end of any similarities o any system I have ever played, API uses a dynamic gaming system now at first this can make combat look confusing but upon reading (and re-reading it) it actually makes sense and allows for flowing action based combat that requires players to think strategically and carefully about their actions while still allowing for a fluidity that wouldn’t be out of place in a kung fu movie.
Combat starts with initiative rolls, standard fair so far, the highest initiative acts on count one with everyone else acting a number of counts after, then the actions really starts characters have 2 actions per round as basic this can be increased with relevant fighting styles, Actions have a stamina and speed cost to them, Stamina is used to fuel the actions and penalties get involved once your character hits half, quarter and one eighth his original stamina total simulating strain and exhaustion, Speed determines when you character next action can take place so if a character acts on count 1 performs an action with a speed of 4 his next action can take place on count 5.
This all sounds very confusing however after reading it a few times it does make a lot more sense than I can ever fit into the review needless to say combat promises to be fast paced action packed and fluid which unlike some systems should keep the pace of the game going.
Magic is split into 3 inner circles which represent how trained the character is with magic player can start with all 3 circles of magic open with GMs permission, Magic in the API universe is neutral there is no evil and good magic just the will of the character/player wielding it, it is also split into 18 separate paths each path again being divided into the relevant circles of magic.
To cast spells players first need to decide how they use this gift, as magic can cover many a form in the system from physic powers through to divine blessings, so the player decides on how the focus the magic is there mind the focus or a holy symbol, the second thing they need is mana, Mana is source from the players stamina again showing the physical and mental strain the channelling such power takes on the body.
Casting spells in combat works the same as any other actions the spell carries with it a speed rating and a recovery time, however unlike combat actions the spell doesn’t complete until the new count is reached and then the character cannot act for a number of counts after that equal to the recovery time for example you cast a spell on count 1 with a speed of 4 and a recovery of 2 the spell doesn’t complete till count 5 and the character cannot act again until count 7, again this all becomes so much clearer once you actually read the system just trying to give a very brief insight into the mechanics.
In short API, The world has been invaded by demons some may have been here for a while other are recent additions to the planet, A single company has stepped up and meets all the newcomers requiring registration so that they can protect humanity from the big bad truth which is they are not alone on there own planet, as I said at the start it carries some “Men in Black” overtones but offers so much more and that’s part of the reason why I have not covered the background of the game, as role-players we generally get caught up in our own little comfort zones of systems and while we occasionally stray out of them its not for long, however I beg of you if you do decide to stray, please stray into the world of API it should provide you with a dose of action horror that hopefully will keep you coming back for more.