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The Transformers RPG review – Chapter 3: Influences

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The Transformers RPG review

(Translated with (free version))

So, this is the best part of the game I’ve read so far. An Influence is kind of a background – the book has examples of being a bureaucrat, “cube player” (“cube” is like rugby), gladiator, etc. Each Influence has a perk, a list of potential Hangups, some Suggested Characteristics, and a table for Bonds.
You may choose up to three. For your first one, you only get the Perk; for the other two, you get both Perk and Hangup.

So; the Perk you get is normally some kind of really bad rule advantage. Like “you get ↑1 when you are pushed or try to get away from a Grapple”. No, they haven’t explained what ↑1 is, or what an Edge is, or what a Snag is. Yes, they use the terms liberally in the text as if we already knew. Yes, it’s annoying. No, game makers shouldn’t do that.

Hangups are more interesting. They can be things like “Mode attachment” that makes it actively difficult to switch to one of their forms, or “Whimsical” that makes you get ↓1 when you try to use the Inflitration skill other than for fun. It’s still just mechanics nonsense, but it’s a bit more fun mechanics nonsense because it actually creates some friction and the possibility for interesting problems. Of course, the best thing here would have been if there was some sort of opportunity to work on your hangups over time, but this game isn’t about character development other than in the sense of leveling up and getting better stats.

Anyway, Suggested characteristics are simply examples of how to roleplay the character. Often extremely obvious things; like on the level of what you’d get from an AI if you asked it to describe how you’d roleplay a… hunter, for example.

“Patience, confidence, and determination are all important characteristics of those who hunt. When a quarry is difficult to track, a hunter’s demeanor can mean the difference between a capture or an escape.”

No robot poop, robot Sherlock. I never would have figured that out.

Well, the good part of Influences, the one that is the best part of what I’ve read so far, is Bonds. Bonds are… Well. Things that are true about the character and that can both give character traits and further opportunities for quests, contacts and other things. Each Influence has twelve of these, and quite honestly they probably mean the thing I’ve read that has the ability to give the most breadth and variety to the characters aside from the pure combinatorics of Origin and Role. (Everyone with the same Role gets the same abilities at the same level, btw. You basically make no choices after character creation. But I’ll come back to that).

Some examples, from different tables:

  • Interpersonal relationships with my coworkers are difficult for me, as I am more focused on making the organization I’m part of run smoothly.
  • I am fascinated by Earth sports.
  • There is a symbol marked on my body as a result of an experimentation that I don’t know the meaning of, and I desperately want to find the maker who did it.
  • I carry a letter in a language I do not understand, found in my predecessor’s files. I hope to translate it and unravel its secrets.
  • I believe that I am a better leader than my direct superior.
  • My fabulousness cannot be overshadowed.
  • Human biology fascinates me.
  • I speak loudly, a habit from working in noisy environments all day.
  • There is no such thing as too many possessions, even if some think I’m a hoarder.
  • I have a hard time with authority and break traffic laws often.

So it’s quite mixed – some character prompts and some pure plot hooks that SL can pick up and do something fun with. This is a genuinely good idea, many of them are well written and interesting, and immediately make me feel like I want to play the character who has this Bond. I’m getting game-hungry.

Unfortunately, it’s also pretty much the only part of the character creation that makes me feel that way.

Series Navigation<< The Transformers RPG review – Chapter 2: Character CreationThe Transformers RPG review – Chapter 4: Origins >>

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