I decided to re-read this book because it was part of the Un-Stretch Goal for the Fear Agents and The Goon kickstarters making either of them being an even better deal than they will be. If you are remotely interested in either of those properties you should check that out especially if you don’t have the Ripper’s Resurrected, East Texas University, Deadlands Reloaded (Player’s Guide Review and Marshal’s Guide Review), or The Last Parsec pdfs. Anyway after re-reading these rules, I am really glad that I did and there are a couple of things that I might bring to my weekly Deadlands Noir game from this book. Anyway here are my impressions of this setting.
This chapter breaks down the basic concept of what a game in this setting is. You get some background information on what life is like in Texas, the local dialect/slang. In a nutshell the whole premise of the game is Buffy the Vampire Slayer in college.
This chapter covers character creation changes. For the most part nothing changes from Standard Savage Worlds. There are a couple of edges and hindrances that are prohibited (because they really don’t fit with the setting). We get the concept of a Major Skill and we get a new secondary attribute called Academics. One thing to note is you can’t start with skills above d8 since you are students without special permissions.
This chapter also includes a generator for fraternities and sororities so you don’t have to use real ones in your games.
We also get some new edges and hindrances as well as some edges that are modified for this setting to finish out the chapter.
Gear, Tools, & Weapons
This chapter covers what starting gear players have (laptop, books, supplies, cell phone, clothes and whatever a normal student would have). We also have rules on semester allowances. We get a section on weapon permits1. After that we get lists of normal gear and weapons.
We finish this chapter up with vehicles which a student can have one to start with and if it is used a table to draw for glitches with the car.
Here is where we get the special setting rules. starting with academics, exams and changing majors. Basically twice each semester (rank) you roll your major skill (or smarts -1 for undecided majors) and subtract a penalty based on Exam difficulty and add whatever the Academics secondary modifier is to the roll. If you fail, your Academics suffers, but if you succeed you get to roll on the passed exam chart and get some sort of bonus.
We also get rules on Burnout and Extracurricular Activities. For burnout, you draw a card and based on the card you find some activity that has a cost and if you do it, you get a +1 to your Academics secondary trait. Extracurricular activities give you some type of bonus, but of course they take time and impact your Academics trait.
This is the player’s version of the campus, the town of Pinebox, and the nearby area, as well as a listing of the important people in the area. All in all, useful information, but it does blur together with the GM’s descriptions in the next chapter.
The Dean’s List
This chapter starts with a more in-depth description of the area, complete with ideas of things that your students could investigate in the region. There is also section on criminal procedure that mostly covers that while some of the law knows that weird stuff happens, they want to let the players go off shooting up the place to kill “vampires” or whatever without having to deal with criminal repercussions.
After that we get a sections on monster hunting that covers things like detecting spirits, environmental phenomena, silver weapons, holy water, and ultraviolet light.
We finish this off with a section on ritual magic which anyone can learn to do. I like the ritual magic rules a lot and may bring some of that into the Deadlands Noir game I run where appropriate.
This chapter covers generators starting with an Adventure Generator complete with three examples. We get a table of High Strangeness and a Party Generator because what is college without a good party or two. Finally we get a table for Research Adventure table. All of these generators are card based which I like better than those that mix dice and cards or just use dice.
All of these generators have interesting options so I would look forward to using them in the future. One thing that I was inspired by though was the High Strangeness, and now I want to add this to my Deadlands Noir game.
Characters and Critters
This chapter covers some of the main players in the setting such as the sheriff, a librarian, and a detective in Pinebox. After that we get a smattering of typical extras. There are not too many “monsters” included in this, but what we do get is a fair amount of rules for customizing demons and ghosts which seem to be the main non-human antagonists.
Overall this is a short book, but full of great ideas that could add a lot of flavor to this setting, but could also be used in other Savage Worlds settings that include horror elements.