Disclaimer: This pdf was graciously given to me by Ryan Danks of ReRoll Productions. All opinions within the review are my own.
I mentioned before I have decided to take a second look at the Fate system. There have been some recent additions to the Fate Universe that have really impressed me. The Dresden Files RPG captured the feel of the novels superbly. Atomic Robo RPG had me laughing while reading the core rule book. And Mindjammer has jumped to the top of a very short list of Science Fiction games I have to run. But nestled in all the Fate discussions I have had with friends recently, Jadepunk has kept popping up. In talking with Ryan Danks, the publisher and lead developer on the line, he offered to send me a copy. Well, I read it, and here we are.
Jadepunk – Review
Jadepunk – Tales from Kausao City, is a 139 page PDF available from ReRoll Productions or Drivethrurpg. For $9.99 you are getting a complete game. The system is powered by Fate. From my understanding of the Fate world, Jadepunk is more Fate Accelerated than Fate Core. That being said, Jadepunk serves as a great example of the Fate engine and good place to dive into that system. The game is extremely friendly to new players: new to Jadepunk, new to Fate, new to RPGs. The book is littered with little callouts which boil the system and setting down into brief overviews. It would super simple to grab those and make a GM screen or player handout with all the pertinent information.
So, what is Jadepunk? It is genre mash setting, westerns meet wuxia, with a generous helping of jade powered tech thrown in. The game takes place in Kausao City. This city is a jadetech marvel. White jade airships travel between tower skyscrapers of Green jade. Blue jade provides stable forms of energy and Red jade provides violate ones. The great nations of the world all are represented in Kausao City, seeking to control the flow of the Jade, which exists in abundance under and around the city. The rich look down on Kausao City, corrupt and greedy, seeking to oppress those beneath them. The writers sure know the punk genre. In my mind, you can’t call it punk without having oppression to fight against.
Characters play as a developing society of vigilante martial artists called the Jianghu. They are trying to bring justice to Kausao City. Martial Artists, rebels, jadetech engineers are viable character archetypes in this game. With fist, blade, and red jade six-shooters, you and your group fight for the soul of Kausao City, and tell stories worthy of Hero or Tombstone.
The setting is rich in flavor and focuses mainly on Kausao City. The major players in the city (nations, religions, ect.) get enough detail to give players and GMs a springboard to make this game their own. In fact that is especially true of Kausao City. While you are given rich information on the city, the writers want your Kausao to be uniquely yours. For example, when talking about using the map of the city, the writers don’t give you a huge key of places. Districts are sketched out, and important places are given write-ups. But, then they suggest you mark the map up as you play, putting your game’s locations into the city.
I know I did not talk about the system side of Jadepunk. That was on purpose. Partially because I want to do a standalone Fate review, and partially because I feel that the settings are what make Fate games unique and interesting.
This is especially true of Jadepunk. The book gives you a great setting, mashing two genres in a fun way. If you like the idea of martial artists armed with six-shooters, fantasy westerns, or a fresh take on punk tropes, pick this game up. The layout and design of Kausao City is how I always envisioned releasing Shadow’s Reach from Ta’nar; invocative without being restrictive. You can also, drop the city into any campaign, and hit the ground running with western-wuxia goodness.
ReRoll already has a number of expansions for the game that you can purchase from their store. Also, as a side note, if you purchase from the ReRoll Store, 30% of your purchase is donated to charity. Treat yourself to a fun game and feel good about it while you do.