Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: "Iron Wolves"

“Dark Brigade” writer and Spectrum Games’s ex-vice president,, Ebby Webb, returns to the “Cartoon Action Hour” universe with “Iron Wolves”, his series mini-book for “Kickstarter” for “Season 3” of “Cartoon Action Hour”. Should you chew it up or spit it out. Let’s find out by what is this all about.


For the color we have a “Iron Wolves” badge over a planet and some nameless galaxy.  


On the next page we have a blurb for the series: “Metal Parts. Real cops.”

The following that we get credits and the channel guide for the book. First up is a “Background” for  the fictional cartoon, “Iron Wolves”, which revealed that it was created by a retired cop.

Following that is the series -- and this is straight from PDF: “Space Year 2989. The human race has explored far beyond Earth, colonizing dozens of worlds all over the galaxy. They have forged diplomatic relations with a variety of alien races to create the Galactic Union, a democratic coalition of planets dedicated to peace, justice, and harmony. At the Union’s inception, a dangerously aggressive race of humanoid bee people called the Pollarians tried to overthrow the nascent organization. For years the Union fought legions of the Pollarians’ drone ships, but in the end they were defeated. Their ruler, Queen Pin, was placed in the most secure correctional facility ever made: Penal Planet Gamma-Four.

And yet, Queen Pin managed to escape, along with some of the most notorious criminals who ever lived (the number was vague so the writers could introduce more characters as the series went on). They formed an organized criminal enterprise, and the Pollarian monarch once again thirsted for galactic conquest this time, with an army of goons and henchmen at her beck and call. The peacekeeping arm of the Union, the Galactic Bureau of Justice, needed to create a special taskforce. They asked Major “Iron” Will Powers to head up the team, and he recruited the bravest and most talented agents the GBJ had to offer. All of them agreed to have parts of their body replaced with cybernetic implants, allowing them to not only survive the vacuum of space, but also take on an array of amazing powers. Now the Iron Wolves are ready to take on Queen Pin’s mob and bring her gang to justice!”

After this, we get our first sidebar. All about tropes. The tropes in this sidebar remind of “Silverhawks” including the ability to breath in space without the need of a spacesuit.

After this they show the galaxy by looking about four type of races: Humanity, Pollarians (the bad guys who happen to alien insects), Siminods (telepathic monkeys) and Robots.

Next we get two good NPC: the Commander Stargazer-type boss of “the Iron Wolves”: Major “Iron” Will Power, and comic relief in the form of a Siminiod mechanic and mascot, Monkey Wrench (groan).

Following that we get four villain NPCs: The Big Bad of the series, Queen Pin, who’s seems to have female expy of Mon-Star written all over her. Her second in command, a robot named Lucky SL-OTS. And two beast mens: a cat-creature know as Nine Lives and a snake named Snake Eyes.

We have a bit of on starships start from the rule book: “Starships are very common all over the galaxy. From small two-seater cruiser models with open tops and invisible force fields all the way to massive mega-cruisers that are like giant buildings in space, most everyone who is a galactic citizen owns or has access to at least one starship. Nearly
every vehicle in this series is either a starship or has the capability to be a starship. It’s not uncommon to find starships that look like shipping trucks, luxury yachts, or even tanks! Any vehicle in this series also has all the benefits of being a starship (...even if it doesn’t make too much sense!).”

Also in this section is all about the “The Wolfpack” -- a squad of fast GBJ’s ship that can additional weapons to the stand GBJ’s lasers and can combine to form a giant robot called “Wolfstar”, but it can stay in that form for a brief period of time and the Combiner circuit needs a full day recharge -- the Wolfpack’s ships still function as normal as only the Combiner circuits that are offline.)

Next comes WolfHaven, a base between the Earth and the Moon that has two sections: CivDis, the central district for taskforces and and their families and JusDis, the Justice District, is where the taskforces including Iron Wolves operate.  Following that is “The Hive”, Queen Pin’s base of operation.

Following them are three episodes seeds. Then we get to the PC Guidelines and this is them straight from the rule book: “All heroes are members of the GBJ Iron Wolves task force, dedicated to taking down Queen Pin and her mob. They have each been modified to have some amount of cybernetic implants in their body, giving them amazing capabilities. Each of their powers is activated by a short verbal passphrase. An Iron Wolf’s powerful hand-to-hand attack might be activated by a phrase like “Galactic Power Punch!” 

While any number of characters works for an Iron Wolves game, five is a classic breakdown of characters. Such concepts may include:

• Leader: The person the group turns to for strategy, inspiration, and making hard calls. The Leader never asks someone to do anything he would not do himself.
• Brain: The scientist, knowledge base, and overall intelligence of the team. If the Iron Wolves need to know something, they ask the Brain.
• Muscle: The strongman and combat expert of the group. Not only does he have strong arms, but he also has a big heart and a small brain.
• Renegade: She is a hothead that does not always follow orders, but she fiercely fights for what is right and just.
• Moral Center: A sensitive soul who thinks about people. He always speaks for the downtrodden and the weak.

Star Power: 3
Tier and Trait Points: Human; 24
Other Rules:
• Theme Adherence: PCs are members of the Iron Wolves team.
• Required Trait: PCs must spend at least some of their Trait Points on one or more Traits that represent cybernetic body parts. These Traits automatically come with a series-specific Special Rule called
“Cybernetics” (see the appropriate sidebar for more information).
• Excessive Trait Ratings: A PC’s Traits are normally limited to a maximum rating of 4. However, up to three Traits can have a rating between 5 and 7. Such Traits must represent cybernetics (see below), gear or vehicles.
• Gestalt: Each PC is given 3 free Trait Points to put into the creation of the gestalt known as WolfStar, created from the WolfPack starships (see the next bullet-point). They can agree to spend their regular Trait Points as well, though the amount must be the same for each PC. Page 116 of the CAH:S3 rulebook has everything you need to know about creating gestalts. Unlike standard gestalts, WolfStar must disband after the scene in which it forms. The gestalt cannot reform again until the combiner circuits recharge for roughly one day, though the vehicles themselves can still operate individually.
• Required Trait: PCs must spend at least some of their Trait Points on a Trait that represents a one person starship (using the normal vehicle creation rules). This ship will be part of the WolfPack and will merge with the other vehicles to form WolfStar. One of the vehicle’s Standard Qualities must be “Gestalt” (see the sidebar on page 116 of the CAH:S3 rulebook for more information).
• Free Playset Usage: PCs have access to WolfHaven, the Iron Wolves’ Playset, without paying any points into it.”

Next comes the sidebar for “Cybernetics”: “As mentioned previously in this supplement, members of the Iron Wolves have some manner of
cybernetics to help bolster their effectiveness. Some of these are implants such as cyber eyes or adrenaline boosters. Others, however, are limb replacements such as rocket launcher forearms or robotic feet. Some notes:

• It is entirely possible to give the Trait “Versatile” as well if you want a particular cybernetic feature that is capable of doing a lot of different things.
• Before using a Trait with this Special Rule to make a check, the character must activate the implant/replacement by giving an appropriate verbal command. The GM should give leniency in cases where it doesn’t make sense to activate it. It might be one command to activate the Trait for any occasion (“Mechani-legs, do your thing!”) or you could ad-lib it every time and tailor it to the specific use
(“Bounding jump!”, “Top Speed!”, “Robo-Kick!”). The choice is yours.
• The associated action figure line featured limbs that were interchangeable with other action figures in the line. Perhaps to encourage sales for the toys, the cartoon occasionally integrated that aspect into the storylines. As such, with the GM’s permission, two Iron Wolves can swap cybernetic limbs. Doing so requires an expenditure of one Oomph from both characters and takes them one full turn each. Until they can change back (which doesn’t require further Oomph, but does take another turn), a swapped Trait is usable only by the character who now temporarily possesses the limb.
• Cybernetics is one of the three ways a PC can have Trait ratings of 5-7.”

Following that we get five status for ready to play characters: Captain Tommy “Flash” Flanagan (the leader), Lt. Marie “Doc” Dupree (the Brain), Sgt. Jackson “Steel” Well  (the Muscle), CPL. Hitomi (The Renegade),  Adam (The Moral Center) and Chip (Adam’s robotic wolf cub companion). Stats for Wolfstar 6 on follow them. Following them are stats for Monkey Wrench, Major “Iron” Will Powers, Lucky SL-OTS, Biggy Shott, Queen Pin (including her terrifying warrior form), Snake Eyes and Nine Lives, and her three goon squads which happen to all be Pollarians. Following that is stats for Wolfhaven and the Hive.  The Hive has higher point total with only words from Ebby being "Touch. No one saving that being a Iron Wolves would be easy."

Final Thoughts:

This feels like someone make a good merge of the three old cartoons, “C.O.P.S.”, “Voltron” and “Sliverhawk”, that it should be illegal to play.

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