Superheros are in. Marvel is king of the silver screen. DC is crushing television. The indies are finding new audiences thanks to streaming platforms. But there aren’t any truly iconic Superhero roleplaying games. Yes, there have been a few. Catalyst has the Valiant Universe, Monte Cooke Games Unmasked setting for the Cypher System are two that immediately come to mind, and I know there are more that I can’t think of.
“Sentinel Comics” takes its name from the Greater Than Games’ previous games, the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game, and Sentinels Tactics, and acknowledges the comic book inspiration of the games. I can’t speak for the previous games, but in the RPG everything is framed from the outside view that the action is all happening in a comic book. It works incredibly well and provides the game a unique feel.
The Core Rulebook has been plagued by some delays, but I’m taking that as a positive thing. I can say from firsthand conversations at conventions that it will be worth the wait. The Greater Than Team has been running games like crazy and even without seeing that happening, the Starter Kit alone is a game worth playing. It’s easy to underestimate how much stuff is shrinkwrapped together in this kit. There is a wonderfully concise Gameplay Guide on playing and Game Moderating, 6 in-depth character booklets, and a six “Issue” set of adventures to play though with those characters.
The Gameplay Guide is basically a 20-page quickstart book. It skips stuff like character creation and creating your own adventures, as there are six of each included in the Starter Kit. It touches on things like why you, a hero, do what you do. It walks through how you, the player, make those things happen through a combination of storytelling and dice-rolling. Lastly, it goes into what the GM needs to know to run a Sentinels game. Obviously, these sections will need to be fleshed out in the Core Rulebook, as all the other options expand, but even then this seems remarkably complete.
In theory, I’ll go through the actual mechanics of the game when the full game comes out, but the biggest thing to note is the dice. You need a larger than average amount of dice. At any given time you will be rolling three dice, each die could be anything between a d4 and d12. You can share dice, but a lot of players are superstitious about that. If you don’t have a Friendly Local Game Store with loose dice, you’re basically looking at almost 3 standard sets, with an extra d10 and d20 in each set. Alternately, GTG has a swanky set of dice that you’ll be able to buy (and can still preorder now).
There are six pre-generated hero characters included in the kit. Four of them (Absolute Zero, Legacy, Tachyon, and Wraith) are fairly straight forward and the last two (Unity and Bunker) are a bit more complex. They each have a filled out, double-sided, Character sheet (pages 2 & 3). Yes, that’s obviously expected given that it’s the point here. What’s nice is that the page opposite each side (pages 1 & 4) has a description of the various elements on that side of the character sheet. The last two pages of the “basic” characters (my term, not theirs) is the same two-page Hero Reference section that is in the Gameplay Guide. Unity, however, only has the more important page of that, as well as an Auxiliary Sheet that provides more specific details about her powers. Similarly, Bunker has an Auxiliary Sheet and a page to explain more about how his armoured Power Suit works in the game, forgoing the Hero Reference altogether. The back cover of all six Character Booklets has a lengthy biography of each hero, their alter egos, and how they fit into the storyline of the game.
That storyline consists of much more than just the six Issues included here. The original Sentinals of the Multiverse card game has a storyline itself, and the Sentinel Comics RPG will take place sometime after that. The Issues in this Starter Kit bridges those two storylines. Each of the Issues is meant to run in about 90 minutes for most groups. But if you’ve played an RPG before, and especially if you’ve run one, you know just how far off course a game can go.
Both the adventure Issues, and the Character Booklets are suitable to write in, but as much as I hate digital books for gaming, I hate that even more. Thankfully players can download a form-fillable PDF of the character sheet and use that instead.
For what you get, the Starter Kit is an amazing price, and if your group just can’t get enough of the RPG and don’t want to wait for the full game, there are two one-shot Issues, Stolen Legacy and Urban Infestation that you can buy now in physical or digital formats.