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el_octogono

RoH - Critic

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Hi Everyone!

I've been GMing  River of Heaven (Refreshed Edition) for a couple of sessions. I've been playing BRP games since 1994, so I'm quite familiar with the ruleset and its strengths and weaknesses.

I find River of Heaven to be one of the best sci fi settings out there. I think it is the plausibility of the tech and socio-political aspects of it. Thankfuly I was able to convince my players to give it a try. We enjoyed it but I found a couple of missing things that need to be in a future edition of the rules.

1- A better layout: The book has nice big letters that are easy to read but titles levels are difficult to differentiate, making a search for something a little bit hard to find. There is something else that makes hard to find a specific place in the book but don't know exactly what.

2- Some tables are spread over the entire book and it is very helpful to fave them unified in one place. For example the different weapon tables, all the equipment, spaceship weapons, etc..

3- A interstellar map of the gameworld. This is very helpful since it is hard to grasp the whole setting otherwise.

4- A complete chart of distance and travel times between all the main stars and between the planets of each system. It is really annoying having to stop, find the different locations in the book, calculate distances, calculate speed, etc... In the end I just eyeballed everything.

5- More detail on spaceship equipment. The Stepships are the only ones detailed, but every other ship is empty of information. What kind of communication systems, sensors, or other specs they have. It seems the focus in the book is only on the weapons department, but not everything is about that. Again I had to eyeball many things in play, having stopped the flow of the game trying to find something that is not there. For example, the players arrived an asteroid where a scientific station was located. The pilot asked if he could scan the place for life forms, or heat signals, or whatever... the book has no clue about this...

6- As I said in another post, the really unbalanced species in character creation. I know there are some disadvantages to compensate those overpowered species, but it is not clear in the manual.

7- A better Character Sheet... the actual one is quite ugly and, even without that in consideration, it has a lot of missing info:

    * Bioenergy points could go near the Augments.
    * The weapons section is incomplete and small.
    * Armor should go near the weapons section.
    * Augmentations section is also awkward... it would be helpful having a column for Active or Passive augments, current level, and some space for a breef description.
    * There is no place to write down character Goals
    * Somewhere to write down the XP would be nice.

8- Augments: they are a nice concept but the actual list of augments is rather limited and uninspiring. I think it needs a little more creativity.

 

Overall: I love the setting but the book feels like it had virtually no playtesting. My group and I was excited with the game, but every step we took left us more and more annoyed, confused, and ultimately destroyed our enthusiasm.

I'm sorry if I sound blunt, but I think it is all positive criticism.

 

 

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17 hours ago, el_octogono said:

I've been GMing  River of Heaven (Refreshed Edition) for a couple of sessions. I've been playing BRP games since 1994, so I'm quite familiar with the ruleset and its strengths and weaknesses.

I'm sorry if I sound blunt, but I think it is all positive criticism.

Hey there! 

I don't think you need to apologise, your impressions are much like mine - a great game that needs a bit more work in layout and design. I'm sure @Newt understands this as well, and has released the revised version to show that the game is constantly evolving and growing... 

I'm tempted to try to do a sample of a revised - easier to follow layout :P 

Marcus 

 

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On 9/9/2019 at 4:57 PM, el_octogono said:

Overall: I love the setting but the book feels like it had virtually no playtesting. My group and I was excited with the game, but every step we took left us more and more annoyed, confused, and ultimately destroyed our enthusiasm.

I'm sorry if I sound blunt, but I think it is all positive criticism.

No need to be sorry, its your opinon.

I could post a point by point answer to your critic but after all the work I've done on it recently it would come across a bit overly defensive. All I can say is the current edtition of River of Heaven is the author's John's best attempt to do a game that was overally ambitious in scope in retrospect. It does work as a game, but as you point there are some limitatoins which you have to acknowledge and work with..And yes that can be annoying. There is stuff I would do differently for a second edtion to varying degrees.  I've made a copy of your post for reference if I ever do a second edition ;)

I'm kinda a fan of the layout, but I'm aware of its shortcomings. It was part and parcel of what I paid John to do for the game, and he is a professioal graphic designer in his day job, so I trusted him on this one. It however something that I would change for a second edtion simply because being a full colour background  its a bugger to work with Drivethrurpg.com's print on demand service, which for colour sometimes feels like it is a beta quality work in progress with us publishers are being guinea pigs :D

oh and

16 hours ago, Marcus Bone said:

I'm tempted to try to do a sample of a revised - easier to follow layout :P

I know you are joking here, but for the benefit of others please don't. River of Heaven (and The Company) is copyrighted material and you can't take the text and remix and release it.

 

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19 hours ago, Newt said:

I know you are joking here, but for the benefit of others please don't. River of Heaven (and The Company) is copyrighted material and you can't take the text and remix and release it.

 

Oh of course @Newt. I'm neck deep in IP management in my day job, so fully understand! 

:P

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Interesting critique of River of Heaven.

RoH is one of my absolute favorite sci-fi settings and I think that OpenQuest is great for a hard-ish sci-fi game. But as you point out it has got a few wrinkles. My main problem was with the different subspecies and the fact that baseline human was by far the best option in point buy. But when I came up with a fix for this, I was ok.

I still want to run a century spanning campaign featuring a Step-ship crew one day. Going out of my way to feature the "out of time" nature of people that travel at relativistic speeds and ending the campaign with the Great Exodus. And I'd like to run an Expanse-ish campaign featuring the Spooks in stead of the gate builders/protomolecule. It would be set in the Solomons and feature lots of intrigue between Hegemony Houses and the rebellious anarchists from Narutos deep. *sigh*

Settings like this has spoiled me on space opera. How can I go back to artificial gravity, hyperspace and lightspeed when I can play around with huge lighthuggers, the danger of high gee, radiation and microgravity settings?  I mean, why play in space when it doesn't function like space?

 

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I'm inspired to give it another look. I've collected sci-fi rules like a sparrow: River of Heaven (I was a backer); M-Space, and non-BRP ones like Coriolis and Fading Suns. Haven't run a campaign with any of them yet.

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