Sunday, March 18, 2012

Death Bringers - 3:16 - Supplement Review

Following up on the review of 3:16 a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to let you know about a campaign setting for that same game. 3:16 focuses on the brutal lives of space marines as they blast their way through alien worlds and emerge victorious with goo splatters coating their MandelBrite armor. The original game is designed for campaign play and gives a system for creating a unique campaign, but largely leaves the GM to fill in the particulars. This can be great or a little lackluster, depending on the GM or the group playing. Death Bringers by Felbrigg Herriot picks up the standard from the random generator and runs screaming back into the fray.

What Death Bringers gives you is a complete 3:16 Campaign, from Mission 1-20. With this and 3:16 you could sit down and run a whole campaign with nearly zero prep. It not only takes the weight off the GM's creativity, but it also takes things a step further by making the campaign's worlds come more alive and presents the players with interesting situations in play. Without spoiling too much, the PC troopers will do everything from blasting a sentient plant in its volcanic lair, to fighting their way through a sentient asteroid belt intent on their demise.

Death Bringers is presented in landscape, which should fit along nicely with 3:16 on a bookshelf. It has a clean two-column format with a readable font, and a good table of contents. It's a supplement of a small press game, so if you're looking for the kind of thing a big-shot publication house would produce you're expectations are a little off. That said, this book has none of the issues that turn something small press into a mess (muddy background to text, unreadable title fonts, bad text layout, etc.), and which I have seen ruin high-production books. Death Bringers sets out to focus on content, and the design accomplishes this goal nicely.

It's clear this book was meant to sit beside you on the table and be read in a hurry. Given that it was written for a game which emphasizes minimal prep work, I think it meshes well with the original author's goal. Each mission provides all the detail you need, but also provides flexibility for the GM to play with the pacing through threat tokens and tweak adventures when needed. The reminders and suggestions peppered throughout the book, along with a nice section of NPC names, move toward the goal of making the GM's job easier and more fun. Overall, Death Bringers is a tightly written supplement, which promises a lot of fun.

Kill Badges:
  • A full campaign of creatively written missions, to challenge players and have a vibrant play experience.
  • Packed with helpful comments and suggestions that help pace things well and make the GM's life easier.
  • Clear concise and readable text which clearly communicates original campaign ideas in a useable form. No wasted or unneeded words. I wish more books from big companies did this.
  • While the presentation is very clean, art is pretty sparse, although what is there is good. Some additional line art would have punched things up a bit.
  • The campaign close is a little open-ended for my taste, though it does allow for a continuing campaign or a subsequent dramatic conclusion of the GM's choosing. This diverges slightly from the course of the typical 3:16 campaign, but is not necessarily unwelcome.
  • There are a few columns that dangle on to nearly empty columns, which I found a little distracting.

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