Preview: Power Outage 1.4

Now that we are finally getting back to things and maintaining power here, I can go ahead and share a review with you folks. Despite the fact that I say this practically every time, this time I have something new for you. I was debating on how I wanted to go about this particular review for the game Power Outage. You can find the current version of it here, but I was sent not only that version but asked to look at the next edition. So, what I want to do is a basic preview for this edition and the game in general. I will focus on what I like about the system so far, compare the basic looks of the new version, and my own suggestions for the final product it will become. Let’s get to it!

A Game For Everyone

Written by Bebarce El-Tayib, this game is designed to be used by anyone. If you read my review of Michtim, you know how much I like the idea of inclusivity. This game takes a different tact by gearing the game towards a much younger audience and running a game for a mixed age group. The RPG is, essentially, a supers game set in a massive city on a parallel Earth. This city has its troubles, but has also been a melting pot. As such it is the prefect place for young heroes of all types to exist and do their part in helping the world. What is nice is that there exists all the things to help diversify your supers game from magic to awesome technology. When characters are made they have powers and these powers all have special effects, but how does on keep it from getting repetitive? Well, when you choose a power it is generic and simply has a mechanical effect. How you describe that effect is all up to you and the type of hero you are. This is similar to the magic of Savage Worlds, but focusing more on narrative design without any tacked on mechanics. Remember the goal is simplicity and the game does this wonderfully with minimal stats and little to track.

In order to really drive home the purpose of this game and its design choices there is a section within the book that I truly love. It is simply called Gaming With Kids and what it holds is something folks from any game can appreciate. The section has an intro and then is broken down into three neat categories. There is one for ages 4-6, 7-9, and 10+. Each begins with a list of problems that might be associated with running a game for kids of that age group. Things like not being able to read or write, as well as the development of wanting more control over certain aspects of the game. Thanks to the way Power Outage structures adventures and GM design, the advice given isn’t just helpful its built into the rules and is practical. I have little experience with games designed for younger folks, but have never seen something like this and think it is a terrific thing to have included.

The Mechanics

Power Outage holds one of the least complex systems that I have ever seen. Essentially you have only 4 stats. Yep, that’s right, only 4. Impact and Power are the two that will help you rolls. Impact is anything from kicking and punch to saying the right thing in a negotiation. These are the more human aspects of your character. Power is rolled for you special powers. What is good is that not all powers are combat abilities. There are also support powers and utility powers, making the range of character types you can play quite large. Whenever you roll something it is compared to the defender’s Armor, the third stat in the game. Finally, if Armor is overcome you are looking at taking away Yield Points. Once a player or NPC is reduced to 0 YP, they surrender in some fashion. This might be them getting knocked unconscious, loosing an argument, or just giving up depending on your game and your audience. With these 4 stats, pretty much anything in the game is covered and you can readily use the system’s CAPE outline to develop all kinds of adventures.

Getting to 1.4

Part of me wants to go into CAPE and the ways the game is designed to involve enough depth for adults to hold full campaigns with. I am not going to. Just trust me when I say there is plenty you can do with the system and the rule book is complex enough, being designed more for an adult who might run this game for a group between ages 4 and 90 and not for a 10 year old. What I will say is there is a lot of love and work going into Power Outage and 1.4 looks to be doing its best to improve on an already strong game. There are some fun backgrounds in different sections. CAPE used to be called CEPA, but let’s be honest CAPE is 10 times more appropriate. Spacing wasn’t fully utilized in the last version. Other improvements include letting boxes and images float over the page decoration instead of being nudged lower, design dressings being added for improved feel, and there’s almost twice as much content.

That being said version 1.4 is obviously a work in progress and suffers a few design flaws. Most of these should be simple to adjust for and I have some suggestions. First, you have some good assets for side bars and the like, but not for all side text. A habit carried over from 1.3 is white text boxes on the nearly white page. If nothing else add / develop a simple border. Nothing crazy is needed, just something to better visually represent the text is different. You have those blue boarders for some things. Stick with the color scheme and give the other ones orange ones. Delineate the types of text boxes by the color of the design, perhaps. Personally, the logo at the bottom of every page makes them feel squeezed, especially with text. Maybe enhance the background motif that you have in the corner? Oh an the random tables for things like Hooks? Great concept but the color scheme is very unreadable. Lighten up the colors a lot more so that the text is, in whatever color it needs to be, much easier to read.

That being said I think the look as, generally, improved greatly. The added content is very useful. The character sheet is good too. I like including marks for power usage (you just need a 6th line for powers known!). Please continue to chip away at this project. I think it would make a wonderful soft-cover book on the shelf. Oh and try to throw in some more stat blocks and art for in-world villains and henchmen. There is nothing better to help show off the universe!

Folks, if you have kids this is a great indie choice for you. Check out version 1.3 from the link at the beginning and be sure to keep an eye out for the new one. It should prove to be a lovely addition to your shelves!

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