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Author Topic: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)  (Read 494 times)

bromides

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Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« on: June 08, 2022, 11:02:04 PM »
Carbon Grey is a "dieselpunk" Weird War 1 comic book series with the Europeanish setting, super Ninja female characters, big tiddies (in a PG-13 way), and so on. It's not super woke... The lead characters are female because it's prettier that way. Like the fun parts of the movie "Sucker Punch" when it comes to chicks with guns, I guess. (Exploitation of the female form that is supposed to coexist with empowerment, but also a healthy dose of exploitation. Hence tiddies. If you think too hard about it, you might hurt yourself.)

(I do note that some people got offended by tiddies, even if they are covered up. Also, German iconography, such as the Iron Cross, which predates the Nazis, except some people got offended because Nazis existed.)

The artwork is good, perhaps brilliant. The story is confusing at times with sisters and a Kaiser and prophecy and whatnot. The setting is exactly enough to make all the weird world war make sense. It's a visual feast with enough writing to make it worth the time.

So they decided to make a licensed rpg out of this!

The author for the RPG is Andrew Gaska, who features heavily in Free League's ALIEN RPG... So he has good RPG credits to his name.

The game itself is based on the ol' West End Games' d6 rules, especially the Star Wars d6 (including some supernatural skills and Corruption (dark side) points. It's a solid system, with a few Carbon Grey setting updates that fit organically into the d6 framework.

If you're familiar with d6 Star Wars, the Carbon Grey rules will be instantly familiar. It's based on duce pools, where you aim to exceed a total difficulty number. There are degrees of success in Carbon Grey, but I'm not sure those specific rules existed in 1e d6 Star Wars.

(continued)
« Last Edit: June 08, 2022, 11:53:27 PM by bromides »

bromides

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2022, 11:35:54 PM »
So... the rules. Pretty much what  you're expecting out of d6, with a twist.
You get your normal pile of d6s, but 1 die in the pool is always "Wild". A natural "6" on the Wild dice = advantage, and a natural "1" leads to Complication. This adds a little bit of a wrinkle to the normal d6 dice pools, with an opportunity to insert narrative-style interference (if you wish).

There is also a meta-currency... Hero Points, which provide a simple mechanical benefit (re-roll failed rolls, reduce injury level, etc.). Sure, you can hate meta-currency if you like, but if you blink really hard, it's almost the same as Force Points in the original d6 Star Wars, so there's that.

It really does lean heavily on the original d6 rules. However, the layout seems very fresh and clean. It's a professional job of updating d6 into a modern format, and they didn't go out of their way to reinvent the wheel in terms of what makes d6 useful. It's fast and simple.

Other things they added...
Quirks. I think this is described as GURPS-ish? It's a simple set of descriptors like "Vain" or "Paranoid" or "Impulsive" that can get your character into trouble.

These are balanced out by Remarkable Abilities... again, a set of simple mechanical benefits to certain attributes or skills.

Another addition is "Obligations". These are narrative things that tell you what larger societal ties your character has to the universe. This includes things like Family, the Military, the Regime, and so on. If you fulfill your obligations in the mission, then you get more character advancement awards. If you fail to fulfill your obligations, then there is no penalty... nor is there a penalty if you totally betray your obligations, although you are considered to have switched sides after that point.

While it's fairly minor, I think it does reinforce the Weird World War 1 setting in Carbon Grey in a useful & thoughtful way.

Characters also carry a "Memento", which is like the Signature Item that each Archetype gets in the ALIEN RPG. Again, another character-reinforcing thing that I think is a good design choice.

...

The bulk of the Gear and the bulk of the rules have to do with fighting. I think that's natural from the d6 thing? I do have some other d6 rules that I never read, so I'll have to look at those as well... but Carbon Grey's rules have the most detail around fighting, including vehicular combat.

Gear is colorful/flavorful... instead of a "Hold Out Blaster Pistol" (like d6 Star Wars), there are things like "Highborn Defender .25" or "Kreuzotter Emissary’s Sidearm" or "Schattenkorps Whisper Fire Machine Pistol". Again, Gaska & company don't forget what made d6 Star Wars interesting even if the rules weren't that complex around the gear.

Combat is... d6 combat. Throw dice, overcome the target's defense number, then test damage STR against the target STR (or the Frame of a vehicle, for instance). It's good and it works. Initiative is rolled each round, but you can always dump that if you don't like taking up time to do initiative every round.

Vehicle rules include a bit about pursuit, but it's mostly shooting things and blowing up stuff. Of course, instead of X-Wings and TIE Interceptors, you have the "WULF-VOKKER DR910 WARPLANE" and such. (I'll note that the W-V DR910 is not a 3-wing airplane like the Fokker Dr.1 triplane, but I'm not sure what "Dr1" stands for with the esteemed Red Baron's favored warbird... I believe Dr.1 does stand for "Dreidecker", however.)

...

Along with the obligatory setting section, which is pretty brief for a licensed game, I think. However, the game does not really care about the story of the comics? This has the benefit of not saddling your characters with what went on somewhere else. You have a whole canvas to work with in the universe of Carbon Grey, which is to your benefit if you don't want to read the comics at all.

There's also a good section on the weird part of the game universe... including a bestiary. The book also has stats for a variety of enemies (from "Cannon Fodder" to "Boss"-types).

Lastly, there are 30+ pages for introductory scenarios ("Episodes"), which is a very good choice for a comic book adaptation like Carbon Grey where people don't have the Avengers baggage and don't know what they ought to do with this material.

...

Overall, a good read. You can tell the book was done by a professional. It makes sense as a book. It's well laid out. They've got a lot of amazing artwork to draw upon, and they did so.

This is how you ought to do RPG rulebooks.

(Yes, there's a section on "What is Roleplaying?" ... but there is no "Diversity is the most important thing ever" section. If you search on "Diversity", there's 1 instance in the rulebook... and it has to do with the Archetypes, because a successful party will probably have a diverse set of character archetypes... not race or gender or whatevers. So you have to give them credit for not saying what doesn't need to be said about gender this and racial identity that.)
« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 10:30:13 AM by bromides »

bromides

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2022, 11:46:16 PM »
Oh... one more thing. Just a listing of the Archetypes, so you see what you're dealing with.

Similar to Star Wars, the Archetypes come from a variety of backgrounds...

Here are some, anyway:

Aspiring Occultist
Brash Dogfighter (planes, not actual dogs)
Cavalry Scout
Devil Dog (not actual dogs... "Teufel Hunden", USMC-inspired)
Dragoon
Dharman Adept
Dissenting Apostate
Faithful Sentinel
Fenris Wolf (an actual dog/wolf this time)
Fervent Revolutionary
Free Lady/Lord
Grease Monkey
etc.

There are 24 templates in all? So, a good variety to play with.

zircher

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2022, 06:31:55 AM »
Cool, thanks for the review.  I noticed that on the DTRPG site that there is a solo adventure. 
That might be a big thing for me since I don't know if I can get this game in front of a group to play.
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/20062/Magnetic-Press-Play
You can find my solo Tarot based rules for Amber on my home page.
http://www.tangent-zero.com

HappyDaze

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2022, 10:15:23 AM »
I love the old D6 system, but (after looking at the preview materials on DTRPG) the setting for this one leaves me cold. Not saying it's objectively bad, but it doesn't appeal to me at all.

bromides

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2022, 10:20:49 AM »
Cool, thanks for the review.  I noticed that on the DTRPG site that there is a solo adventure. 
That might be a big thing for me since I don't know if I can get this game in front of a group to play.
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/20062/Magnetic-Press-Play

The main book also includes a very brief solo adventure.
The one in the main book is a "choose your own adventure" style solo game... which is not the best kind of solo play since it's not replicable. You can't easily transfer a "choose your own adventure" setup into another scenario.

I'm not sure what style of solo play is in the solo adventure (I believe it's a much longer "choose-your-own-adventure" format scenario, from what I've read), but it's something I'd want to try as well.
(I think I can make do with the Mythic GM emulator and/or some of my own Oracles. There's a single page of random adventure hooks (in addition to the example scenarios and scenario descriptions).

I am more curious about the NPCs and factions book. Carbon Grey exists in a manga-style Europe, so I'm not sure about the role of the Church, for instance. There's a Church, but I'm not sure what it is.
Since it's WW1, there's also an Ottoman Empire equivalent, and I'm curious about that one as well (especially with the religious question).

If you like d6, this is worth a look. It's definitely carrying the West End Games: Star Wars DNA inside of it, with thoughtful additions to the character setup. The art is gorgeous. The layout is definitely professional (and the PDF is bookmarked)... which you would expect from a comic book company that is stretching into RPGs. Layout, look and feel... definitely professional stuff. Almost MORK BORG without the vomit-inducing layout... Carbon Grey has a style, but it's not style for style's sake like MORK BORG.

I almost can't say enough about the look and the quality of presentation. This is an example of how to put together an RPG book the right way. There's a style to it, but it definitely feels usable and very readable.

...

Also, it carries the West End Games logo/imprint, but that is mainly for show (I think) since the company doesn't really exist on its own.

bromides

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2022, 10:24:35 AM »
I love the old D6 system, but (after looking at the preview materials on DTRPG) the setting for this one leaves me cold. Not saying it's objectively bad, but it doesn't appeal to me at all.
It's pretty much what you'd expect from manga-style Europe, which has its pluses and minuses for sure.

The Kaiser is the generic "bad guy" element, but Carbon Grey (the RPG) doesn't necessarily require the Axis powers to be the bad guy. There's just a giant, flashing, neon sign of a hint... "AXIS POWERS". They leave out enough to where you could be agents of the Kaiser if you wanted, and there's no moral judgment there in terms of what the Kaiser is doing. The setting is entirely in your hands (as compared to other licensed games), although the materials strongly suggest that the Kaiser is the bad guy here. There's no metaplot campaign behind it at this time.

HappyDaze

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2022, 10:27:33 AM »
I love the old D6 system, but (after looking at the preview materials on DTRPG) the setting for this one leaves me cold. Not saying it's objectively bad, but it doesn't appeal to me at all.
It's pretty much what you'd expect from manga-style Europe, which has its pluses and minuses for sure.

The Kaiser is the generic "bad guy" element, but Carbon Grey (the RPG) doesn't necessarily require the Axis powers to be the bad guy. There's just a giant, flashing, neon sign of a hint... "AXIS POWERS". They leave out enough to where you could be agents of the Kaiser if you wanted, and there's no moral judgment there in terms of what the Kaiser is doing. The setting is entirely in your hands (as compared to other licensed games), although the materials strongly suggest that the Kaiser is the bad guy here. There's no metaplot campaign behind it at this time.
It lost me at "manga WWI Europe" regardless of how the Axis are played.

zircher

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2022, 10:34:02 AM »
While sand box solo with Mythic GME, CRGE, or some other oracle is my preferred style to solo, I'm not against a CYOA especially as a teaching tool.  Thanks for the info.  Currently deep on another solo project, but I wishlisted CG for the future.
You can find my solo Tarot based rules for Amber on my home page.
http://www.tangent-zero.com

bromides

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2022, 10:48:33 AM »
Yeah, for sure. CYOA is a good way to learn the rules in a structured way, and including both CYOA and a big chunk of example scenarios in the Carbon Grey RPG is a good thing.

Again, this book should be used in a class about how to write RPG rulebooks. I can do without the "What is Roleplaying" junk, but the rest of it is amongst the better modern RPG books that I have read lately.

I can agree that the setting may be a turn-off for some since it's manga-style Europe (although on the plus side, that also means fetish-ized White women, I guess)... but aside from art and the sketch of the setting that we get (maybe a couple pages on Mitteleuropa, at most, and less than that for the different states within the Empire... and they use the word "Empire", not the word "Reich". So it's very deliberate in its style. Stylistic Europe, and not Europe itself.)

I was just browsing over the other site, and here's what a RPG.netter had to say to describe Carbon Grey (the comic):
Quote
"What if we had attractive women engaging in gun-fu while wearing impractical Imperial German fashion in an alternate universe that lets us skirt the impending Nazi problem despite the fact that a lot of what's going on here is still rather fashy?" I do own them (the comics), but there's a lot of problematic stuff simmering in the setting for me to want to game in it.

You'd think fascism without the inconvenient truth (genocide, like most authoritarian states) would appeal to RPG.net, but I guess not.

zircher

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2022, 11:02:12 AM »
The comic must walk an interesting line with its fans.  But to be honest, problematic potential is only potentially problematic.  If you don't go there, it never happens or it only happens off stage.  That level of control is a feature, you get to tell the stories that you want (unless you're gaming with Adam Koebel. :) )
« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 11:04:28 AM by zircher »
You can find my solo Tarot based rules for Amber on my home page.
http://www.tangent-zero.com

bromides

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Re: Carbon Grey RPG (a new d6 rulebook and licensed setting)
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2022, 11:27:44 AM »
I liked the comics. It's a visual medium, and the quality of the visuals was there.

Sexy/fetish looks are there, but actual sexy time takes place "off stage"... and there's no actual nudity. It's generic manga-style Europe enough that RPG.net users can talk about its qualities. Dismemberment, blood and gore all have a place in the panels, but actual naked tiddies do not have a place. So, in that way, it's non-problematic entertainment for the sensitive members of the audience... with extreme levels of violence and staying shy of yucky stuff like nekkid girls.

Sexytime is very much implied in the comics, though. So there's that. I guess you might call it "gonzo". There's an exaggerated violence and also the fetishistic look of the fashion/outfits. It's definitely a striking look in the comics, and that shows in the RPG book.