If you are a regular reader here in The Rat Hole, you’ll have noticed a few things. (If you’re new, welcome. Have a look around, we’ll wait.) We love RPGs. We love campy schlock. We love supporting Crowdfunding projects. Today we dig into all of those things with Onyx Path Publishing’s new tabletop RPG, They Came From Beneath The Sea!
As I write this, this project is already a go. It’s funded and has reached nearly all of its stretch goals. Oynx Path has a lengthy and proven record, so there is extremely minimal risk in backing this campaign. Why then, am I writing about a campaign that’s already so far along in its goals? Because it’s my keyboard and I’ll type what I want to.
This isn’t just a game about fighting monsters and aliens. Powered by the Storypath System, this is a game about fighting the monsters and aliens you might find in a 1950s sci-fi/horror b-movie. Because of that, the action isn’t just a battle of stats. You’ll still shoot things, but you also have Quips and Cinematics.
Quips are your PC’s one-liners that “allow your blow to pack a harder punch, make your rebuke more scathing, or just act as a pithy thing to say before dying”. They might not make perfect sense in the context of a scene, but that just makes it even more entertaining and adds so oft missed levity to your gaming table.
Cinematics, encourage you to step back from the in-game action and embrace the silver screen schlock. Move the action around, add some bad dubbing, or let a stuntman take your place. There are all sorts of fun twists that this mechanic can bring to bear.
Overall this looks like a ton of fun. There a ton pledge levels, so I’m only going to mention some of them in any detail. $5(USD) gets you an Early Access playtest PDF copy of the game, $25 also gets you the finished rulebook and print-and-play Quips and Cinematics cards. $35 also gets you “at cost” print on demand options once those opportunities become publicly available (sometime after the PDF and regular printed versions happen. More on this tier in a bit). $50 adds on a Hardcover copy of the rulebook, while $70 also adds a Director’s (GM) Screen. Above that, there are several multi-copy tiers and specialty tiers. Oddly, most of the higher priced tiers (up to $750) DON’T include the Director’s Screen, you would need to add an additional $20 on. after your pledge.
I’m not a big fan of the pledge levels on this project. The Early Access pdf files are nice since delivery is planned for March of 2020. But in a time when most publishers now offer a free pdf even when you buy a hard copy in a brick and mortar store, neither the early access nor the finished pdf, feel like they make $50(USD) for a ~200-page rulebook is justified. That being said, there are similarly sized RPG books running for ~$40 and the unlocked pdf stretch goals make it a bit easier to justify. But then if you decide you want an additional hardcover copy of the book, and you’re outside the US, it’s $65 (over $85 CAD) before unspecified shipping costs. Similarly, the $35 tier is actively a turnoff. With no way to know how much “at cost” will cost, compared to the regular print on demand services, paying an extra $10 now for the privilege of paying slightly less of an additional cost later is just a bit distasteful to me.
Do I want to play this game? You bet your milkshakes and poodle skirts I do! The art I’ve seen is brilliant and the gameplay looks like a blast. Am I convinced the game will be worth the buy-in cost? That ultimately depends on the pledge level, your personal opinion on pdf files, and where you plan to ship physical rewards to. I will admit that I may just be surly and overreacting to some of the elements here. So I’ll end this by saying the game itself looks great, and leave you to decide the value based on your own pocketbook.