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AGENTS OF THE CROWN - Victorian Superhero Adventure for Basic Roleplaying


Trifletraxor

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agents-of-the-crown.jpgAgents of the Crown combines Victorian heroic action in the tradition of pulp stories, comic books, and the Penny Dreadfuls of the 19th century with the solid play and tremendous versatility of the Basic Roleplaying system.

Agents of the Crown allows players to take the roles of super-agents in Victorian England serving Queen and Country combating evil in a myriad of forms. Whether foiling assassination attempts against the country’s Royals or members of Parliament, or rooting out vile cult activity amidst the sweat and squalor of London’s Bainbridge Rookery, the operatives of her Royal Majesty Queen Victoria know the truth. Evil is out there.

Its minions are legion. They inhabit the edges of England’s vast, world-spanning empire, corrupting, waiting for their chance to sew chaos and disorder. And so the Agents of the Crown must face these threats as they come. Their lives are sometimes lost in the cause, but never given cheaply. Indeed, the Agents possess powers and skills beyond the average man or woman’s. Whether by accident of birth, or from the borne of the world’s brave new sciences, they are often more than human. Yet still it is their courage that most sets them apart from ordinary citizens, for they must endure hardships that run the gamut of human experience and beyond. One day it might be a terrible threat from beyond space and time, while the next it might be an all too human killer who stalks the innocent along rain-slicked cobblestone streets.

By Scott Pyle. 96 pages. Published by Chaosium July 2009.

Edited by Trifletraxor

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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Okay, since I asked for this subforum (:thumb:) I'll start!

I have been keeping up with buying pretty much every available BRP monograph available, and lately the rate of publication seems to have stepped up.

Agents of the Crown (Victorian superheroes in service of the british government) came out of nowhere for me - I had no knowledge of it before seeing a post on the author's blog (Scott Pyle is the man behind Superfigs and Supersystem). As soon as I saw the note I hopped over to Chaosium's store and picked up the few books I had not yet purchased, and lo and behold AotC arrived earlier this week.

My immediate thoughts were that this is one of the most polished of the BRP monograph books in terms of immediate appearance (although more on that later), and in all it is generally nicely done. The choice of watermark/background art on the text pages may not be to everyone's tastes, but I feel it sets the book apart and nicely compensates for a scarcity of art.

The text is nicely written in my mind - economical and clear. It isn't over-wordy and the setting is pretty clearly defined, based on a simple core premise (the existence of superhumans - aether-men - resulting from a confluence of events). This allows the author to define what the setting is about, which is adventures in the mold of graphic novels such as Gotham by Gaslight and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and as a side note - I actually enjoyed that movie :o ), as well as Victorian prose such as the Invisible Man, Dracula, the War of the Worlds, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and more besides.

Threats come from many quarters - competing nations involved in the Great Race, hostile peoples indigenous to locales laid claim to by the British Empire, home-grown aether-men of a criminal bent, supernatural creatures stalking the night, murderous figures preying through foggy streets, and even foes from another world.

In all the book takes a very action-adventure focused approach I feel, although mysteries would sit just as easily alongside those types of scenarios, so there are lots of campaign opportunites present. The book even offers sample characters and an introductory adventure so is a nicely rounded package.

There is arguably more depth that could be added to some areas, howvere that may have potentially detracted from the focus of the book - the thrilling adventures of aether-men in service of Her Majesty, so to my mind Scott has pitched it right.

I do have a few quibbles, however. Firstly is that within the printed text there are numerous dagger etxt symbols for no apparent reason. In addition there are a number of instances where text is bracketed by 'i' which suggests a problem in translation to pdf or other format, or that proof-reading could have been better. Another quibble is the interchange of use or reference to England when it should be Great Britain or more specifically the United Kingdom (or indeed the United Kingdom of Great Britain, but that came much later than the setting). My last major quibble is that I would have liked more art as it is mostly loaded towrds the front of the book (maps aside).

Those (generally minor) concerns aside, I really enjoyed the book and whole-heartedly recommend it, especially to caeman, but then I believe he has bought his copy already.

Now if we can just get Scott to sign up and talk a little about his baby, that would be great.

Edited by leonmallett

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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Any fans of this type of setting who are also comic book fans may want to consider checking out a comic from a few years ago called Ruse, by Crossgen Publishing (now defunct). The first 12 issues are brilliant. Imagine Moonlighting meets Sherlock Holmes in a pseudo-Victorian setting. Great stuff with fantastic art.

Edited by leonmallett

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For whatever reason news of this monograph had escaped my notice until just now...

I was a big fan of the LXG comics (less so the movie... but it was fun)... and this seems ideal for setting up a game of that flavor.

How high powered are these 'Aether men'?

I'm fond of relatively low powered superheroes... much prefering The Avenger/The Shadow over Superman/Spiderman.

Does the book have much to offer for a game of heroes who are NOT 'aether men'... just an odd collection of talented adventurers like in LXG? Maybe leaving the 'Aether men' as a rarity in the background...

Supersystem and the Superfigs are great so I'll probably grab this regardless.

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I've never seen Heroes so that quote goes 'swish' past me... but glad to know it's relatively low-powered. I'm determined to have it now...

I don't think you will be disappointed. Scott (Pyle) has written the setting to be able to adapt well to different play styles and the 'ready to go' aspect is another good feature in my view.

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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  • 7 months later...

Lately the rate of publication of BRP monographs seems to have stepped up, and so we have Agents of the Crown (Victorian superheroes in service of the British government) which came out of nowhere for me - I had no knowledge of it before seeing a post on the author's blog (Scott Pyle is the man behind Superfigs and Supersystem). As soon as I saw the note I hopped over to Chaosium's store and picked up the few books I had not yet purchased, and lo and behold AotC arrived earlier this week.

My immediate thoughts were that this is one of the most polished of the BRP monograph books in terms of immediate appearance (although more on that later), and in all it is generally nicely done. The choice of watermark/background art on the text pages may not be to everyone's tastes, but I feel it sets the book apart and nicely compensates for a scarcity of art.

The text is well written in my mind - economical and clear. It isn't over-wordy and the setting is pretty clearly defined, based on a simple core premise (the existence of superhumans - aether-men - resulting from a confluence of events). This allows the author to define what the setting is about, which is adventures in the mold of graphic novels such as Gotham by Gaslight and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and as a side note - I actually enjoyed the movie that it spawned!), as well as Victorian prose such as the Invisible Man, Dracula, the War of the Worlds, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and more besides.

Threats come from many quarters - competing nations involved in the Great Race, hostile peoples indigenous to locales laid claim to by the British Empire, home-grown aether-men of a criminal bent, supernatural creatures stalking the night, murderous figures preying through foggy streets, and even foes from another world.

In all the book takes a very action-adventure focused approach I feel, offering a few new rules to help simulate this type of gaming, although mysteries would sit just as easily alongside those types of scenarios, so there are lots of campaign opportunites present.

The book offers sample characters and an introductory adventure, as well as brief historical overviews and a selcetion of maps, so it is a nicely rounded package in my opinion.

There is arguably more depth that could be added to some areas, however that may have potentially detracted from the focus of the book - the thrilling adventures of aether-men in service of Her Majesty, so to my mind Scott has pitched it just right.

I do have a few quibbles, however. Firstly is that within the printed text there are numerous dagger text symbols for no apparent reason. In addition there are a number of instances where text is bracketed by 'i' which suggests a problem in translation to pdf or other format, or that proof-reading could have been better. Another quibble is the interchange of use or reference to England when it should be Great Britain or more specifically the United Kingdom (or indeed the United Kingdom of Great Britain, but that came much later than the setting). Also it is unclear where each chapter starts except to peruse the contents page I found, which kind of defeats part of the purpose. My last concern is that I would have liked more art as it is mostly loaded towards the front of the book (maps aside), but given the budgetary contraints of produicng a monograph sparse art is wholly understandable.

Those (generally minor) concerns aside, I really enjoyed the book, it seems a fun setting and I look forwrd to running adventures with it one day. I know I discussed a variety of issues of concern, but I felt they were not major so please don't be put off. Therefore I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone with gaiming interst in this kind of setting.

I rate the book as 8 out of 10. The points that brought the score down were the issues that were not (apparently) picked up through proff-reading or were as a consequence of reformatting, and that I would have liked a little more art.

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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  • 8 months later...

Though its set in 1830s France the soul stealing metal masked villain on this looks, and acts, weird enough to put in an AotC scenario.

Edited by Conrad
Ooh la la! Monsieur Vidocq est mort!
http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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