Review; Agents of Swing PDF

This is my first review type thing, so let’s see how this goes.   Some ground rules first, I will rate this on the following areas; Layout, Content, Art, and System Mechanics. Each category will be rated 1-3  with 1 being Gag, 2 being meh, and three being solid. I will  end with some closing remarks. I had wished my first review thing would be of a bad game so I could vent…eh such is…FATE??

Agents of Swing is a 344 page PDF by Postmortem Studios. I received this as a complimentary copy from James Desborough after complaining of the skill pyramid in FATE.  So let’s get on with this then.

Title:Agents of Swing

Publisher: Postmortem Studios

Cost: $9.99

Pages: 344

Genre: Spyfi

Content: {3} This book contains a LOT of material for the price. Best of all,  it is all either helpful material, or interesting material. The game attempts to emulate the over the top spy shows of the cold war era and gives you so much background that you feel immersed in the period. It has a distinct British view of this period which helps give a more neutral tone to the heated politics of that time.

Also, one of the first things I check for is either some pre-made baddies, or a quick way to make them. The making of adversaries in a RPG is one of the biggest time sucks in gaming. Agents of Swing provides not only a great selection of these, but other Swing Agents that can be used as NPCs or plot complications. There is a massive amount of information and explanation in this book, enough that I went a bit cross eyed when reading through it. In fact the only negative to this game (if it is even really a negative) is that it pushes on the edge of over explanation. It also has  quick reference tables in the back, which if printed out would make an excellent GM screen (or to use the games parlance, Control) Agents of Swing delivers everything you need to play this game and then a bit more.

Layout:{3} The layout is simple, clean, and sets the mood perfectly. the background image is a manila folder with top secret “stamped” on it in various places. The folder tabs have the current chapter on them, and any side notes are made to look stapled to the folder. There isn’t any weirdly shaded areas, or ungainly boxes marring the read. My only complaint here is that with such a large book a ToC would have been helpful, either in the PDF sidebar or in the front of the book. There is a nice index in the back however, so it isn’t really a big deal.

Art:{2} The books art is comprised of silhouettes and character sketch head shots made to look like photos. The silhouettes are evocative of the mood, bringing to mind the opening of every James Bond movie ever. Providing enough shape to be enticing. The line art is very cool, whimsical 1960s to ’70s garbed hip folk. I wish there was a bit more of this art.

System mechanics:{3} This is fun. It is a stripped down and modded version of the FATE system. You use three 3d6 of different colors (the author suggests using red, white, and blue as it is more patriotic…which I found chuckle worthy as it works with the USA as well as the UK) With “Swing” dice allowing for more narrative  control, great use of “aspects” and an awesome list of “stunts”. Basically if you roll really well you get a “swing” die which you can use to replace any other dice rolled. Aspects work in a similar fashion to other FATE games but are very appropriate to this genre. Stunts are over the top actions that you really want your over the top agent to do. The number one great thing that is done is the removal of the skill pyramid. Instead you are given a pool of points to distribute among your skills. I am not going to spell out the whole system here, if you want a general idea of the system then FATE is available for free, or you can look at its parent system FUDGE (also free).

Closing remarks: While reading this book my brain went into hyperdrive with things that this could be used for, and foremost in my mind was that this game would make a great basis for a Ghost in the Shell game with minimal tweaking. It would also work well for emulating an X-Files game.  Either way ten bucks for a three hundred and forty four page PDF is a good deal and this is definitely worth every penny especially for you of the Rolpunker mindset.

You can purchase the PDF here

You can bug Postmortem here



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