EABA Role Playing Game System v1.1

EABA Role Playing Game System v1.1

From: Blacksburg Tactical Research Center

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

EABA Role Playing Game System is a new Generic Role Playing Game System from Blacksburg Tactical Research Center.

There are a lot of generic game systems out there. They all have different origins and in most cases, those origins have a tendency to haunt the system forever. Hero System – born of super heroic system; d20 born of a fantasy system; Savage World born of a horror/adventure system. There is no perfect generic system, no matter what GURPS fans think. EABA claims to be the “End-All-Be-All” role playing system, crediting the Hero System, GURPS and Call of Cthulhu as its influences. Although I do not believe that it is the ultimate generic system, EABA is an inspired and elegant system that I can see myself running once or twice.

From the front cover : “no boundaries role playing”

Content: After the traditional “What is Roleplaying?” introductory stuff, the game goes right into the heart of what EABA is. Starting with creating a character, it guides you through the point value system for variable powers levels of play, character stats, skills and traits. Traits are like advantages/disadvantages as well as d20-feats all combined into one. Skill lists and trait lists are fairly short and limited, but it encourages the GM and the player to work together to create skills and traits appropriate for the game universe.

Following the character creation system are the two chapters that encompass the core system – Skill Use and Combat. This is discussed in further detail below, along with the next chapter, Advanced Combat. By far one of the largest chapters is the Power chapter. This generic Power system encompasses anything supernatural or metaphysical. Psionics, magic, and super powers are all covered. It first starts off by saying that it can not cover everything, so the primary function of this chapter is to supply the reader with a means to create whatever power he wants. It is a “meta-system.” See below for more details on that.

The next chapter of the books is what the author affectionately calls Minutia. This includes technology eras, rules of varying degrees of extreme environmental conditions, detailed rules on vehicles, and other miscellaneous rules (poisons, spotting things, and a battle system, for example).

One of the last chapters of the book is a rather insightful discussion on Gamemastering and gaming styles, showing that the author truly knows gaming and types of gamers. The books ends with a series of tables containing gear for various eras as well as character sheets and other sheets for use in the game.

System: Overall, the system is most similar to West End Games d6, so I am going to relate things to that system since I know it best. Although I have played both Hero System and GURPS, I do not know them in and out. I will cover the three key parts of the system – character generation, combat, and powers.

Character Creation/Advancement: The character creation system is a point-spend based system, with points for attributes and points for skills separate. There are no classes or careers, and anyone can buy anything with their points. I have never thought this was the best way to go with a role playing game, but neither is one based on highly restrictive character classes. Like other systems of this nature, EABA is a highly character concept based system, but as I have discovered in other character concept based system like West End Games (WEG) d6 and Champions, that concept does not always stay the same throughout a long term campaign.

There are six attributes, and skills are associated to these attributes, like WEG d6. However, unlike d6, the skills are associated to attributes that make sense. There are some skills in d6 that are associated to attributes solely for the sake of balancing things out. In EABA, the primary attributes with skills are agility and awareness. The other attributes are used for other things. Another interesting thing about the attributes is that there are two actual values – one is the level (number value) and the other is the dice code (3D+1, or 0D+1). The dice code is determined by taking the level and dividing it by three. The quotient is the number of D and the remainder is the extra points added to the D. A Level 7 is a 2D+1 dice code. This is all too familiar to those of us who played d6 and WEG Masterbook because that is the key conversion method between Masterbook and d6.

Skills, as I said, are as plentiful as your imagination, but the book does supply a small handful of basic ones. The system also allows for specialization, but that is entirely dependent on the genre and universe you are playing in. Once skills and attributes are figured out, traits are selected. Traits can be good and can be bad. This is a very generic advantage/disadvantage system, with each trait costing either attribute or skill points, while at the same time some giving back points. I learned that one should start here before spending attribute or skill points, at least to get an idea of what certain traits costs. Traits include Age, Gifted, Forte (like Skill Focus in d20), Mythic Archetype (closest thing this system gets to a class), Pain Tolerance, Wealth, and Weakness.

I created my own character in this system. Being that I am a huge Firefly fan, I made Mal Reynolds, using the Serenity RPG as a reference. I do believe there is some balancing issues with Serenity, but in general it was fairly easy to create the character. Some of the traits were not directly translatable, but they actually could be directly ported to EABA easily, using the Serenity definition. It’s a fairly flexible and moldable system that allowed me to create new traits on the fly. It felt like a more complex and precise d6 System. The only place I had trouble was where the points system came in. The fact that the author separated the points out into two separate types of points with no rules (that I could find) on how to convert from one group to the other caused some angst. I kind of see the reason for two types of points, but I think he would be better off with one set of points.

Character advancement makes sense. It is closely linked to character creation, using the same point system, making it easy to continue to measure your character. This is a system that does not give out experience by the hundreds or thousands.

Combat System: Combat is measured in turns like in any game, but in this system a turn is one second long. So there is very little room for ambiguity or abstractness like in d20. There are three basic types of combat, like in most game systems: unarmed, melee and ranged.

Initiative is handling rather uniquely, however. There is no one single initiative roll or modifier. Initiative in EABA is called Sequencing and is based on the skill the character is going to use that turn (or the first skill that character is going to do if he is doing a multi-action). So the sequence of who goes first changes every round. I’ve always liked that philosophy and this takes it to a new level basing it on how good a character is on a particular skill. It makes sense to me.

There are some similarities between EABA combat and d6 combat, like in the multi-action rules. However, there are more differences than similarities because it is far more realistic. For example, in ranged combat, weapons have an accuracy rating that helps the user, symbolizing that some weapons are more accurate than others. I like this system because it is simple but fairly detailed and covers every aspect and option you could imagine in combat, in a simple way.

However, one thing is for sure, the realism bring a penalty – deadliness. The game is pretty lethal. Damage is either non-lethal, half-lethal, or lethal, but adds up. The difference between the type of hits really only comes in with healing.

There are two sets of combat rules – basic and advanced. In advanced, one finds rules for the exceptions and specialized instances. The authors tries to cover a myriad of topics to make sure all lose ends are covered. This include rules for “gimme’s”, blocking damage, advanced targeting, bad combat conditions, continuous damage from things like fire and acid, area of effect, and several other items.

From page # 6.2: “Many backgrounds for adventure have some unknown quantity that lies barely within human ken.”

Powers System: The power system is based on a table of options that the player chooses from as he designs his power. The table is a list of generic options like non-lethal damage, ranged effect, or create living item, and each option adds or subtracts points from the powers value. The value determines the difficulty to use the power, and it is up to the GM and the player to designate the specific skill it is associated to. Some games will have that predefined based on the genre, of course, like sorcery skill for spells. Each option is reasonably detailed out and most include an example or two for clarification.

Powers have costs and are bought based on the Gifted trait . The points value derives the difficult to use the power. In this non-class system, anyone can have any kind of power given the points to spend. There are no sorcery spells specifically applicable to sorcerers, psionic powers only for psionic characters, etc. As long as you have the points, you have the power, much like Hero System. The gifted trait-power points system is a little clunky but it makes sense.

Most powers have three rolls – the power activation, targeting, and effect. The system to cast/use and determine effect is pretty straight forward. It is the design system for powers that is fairly complex but not too bad. It is a flexible system, allowing for just about any power, but you have to have that power fleshed out completely to fit within the EABA system. I suppose those that play Hero System or GURPS regularly are used to that kind of thing.

Layout: One of the top gems in this game is the cool looking character sheet. On top of that, this version I have has a customizable PDF version of the character sheet. Without certain software, one can not save the changes, bit it is handy if you want a nice printed out version of your character. The art is sparse and mostly computer rendered images or clipart. The way he lays out each topic and divides out advanced topics makes things easy to read but also easy to quickly look up in game.

In conclusion, I liked this game reasonably well, although it is fairly similar to games I have played before. In my view, it is a more detailed and realistic version of d6 System by West End Games, with a little influence from GURPS and Hero System. It is not the end-all-be-all system that it claims to be, but it is has some good qualities that make it attractive over other systems. I can not say that I am overly ‘wow’ed by this system, but it does have its moments.

For more details on Blacksburg Tactical Research Center and their new Generic Role Playing Game System “EABA Role Playing Game System” check them out at their website http://www.btrc.net.

EABA Role Playing Game System v1.1

From: Blacksburg Tactical Research Center

Type of Game: Role Playing Game Core System (Generic Genre)

Written by: Greg Porter

Game Design by: Greg Porter

Developed by: Greg Porter

Art by: Paul Bourne

Number of Pages: 159

Game Components Included: Two PDF Files – one color, one greyscale.

Retail Price: $ 12.00 PDF, $20.00 print only, $23.00 print+PDF (US)

Website: www.btrc.net

Reviewed by: Ron McClung