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Electric Warlocks

An everchanging neon city that reflects the otherworldly denizens within · By Indigo

Review (5/5)

A topic by kumada1 created Jan 07, 2021 Views: 55
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Electric Warlocks is a medium-to-high-crunch cyberpunk/magepunk game about electric warlocks. Essentially, you're a person who got jolted with magic from an urban locus, and now you're having a hard time maintaining a normal life. The tone is half A Madness Of Angels, and half Shadowrun, with possibly a dash of Discworld thrown in.

The PDF is 64 pages, with a straightforward, somewhat technical-feeling layout and easy to read text, but the meat of the game is in its rules and writing.

Mechanically, the game is very nearly Shadowrun (plus a tinge of Blades In The Dark,) but it has a level of consistency and put-together-ness that I'm not sure actual Shadowrun has. If you've played Shadowrun, picking up the rules here will be a snap, but the lore runs different between Shadowrun and Warlocks, and the mechanics reflect this.

As a design philosophy, Warlocks aims to write general rules instead of specific ones. It would rather hand you a toolkit and say "here's how you spend 60 seconds to make an item" than give you a huge equipment list. But even so, the overall feeling to the game *isn't* mechanics-lite. Those custom items are made with character build points, which you could be spending on skills or abilities or anything else. It's just...mechanically coherent, which is surprising because of how much stuff it's got going on.

To give another example of the coherency, Warlocks' equivalent of Edge is Juice. Every PC has it, but it's also the thing used to cast spells, so every PC can do that too. Bolting on cyberware reduces your maximum Juice, so if you want lots of passives you'll have less actives, and Juice is also used to manipulate the dice on rolls, so you can choose not to use it for spells and make yourself roll well instead.

Warlocks does still have some mechanical inefficiency in a few places. Skills are often hyper-specific, and include separate listings for Archery and Mortuary Science. The book also doesn't have a bestiary, and the hints at its setting aren't fully fleshed out into a breathing metropolis. But even so, I'm deeply impressed.

Probably the coolest thing in the book is that it is intentionally made to be physically and directly hackable. There are blank spots cordened off by dotted lines throughout, and they are explicitly put there for you to write house rules, notes, feedback, illustrations, or whatever else you want. You can send your modified version back to the creator as feedback, but even if you don't, your copy of the book will end up being different than someone else's, and that's absolutely rad. I'd love to see more games doing that.

Overall, if you like some of the mechanical feel of Shadowrun, if you like hacking games, if you like stuff that's not too hard to pick up but is still plenty crunchy, this is your jam. Plus, it's genuinely somewhat punk---rather than the making-it-as-a-freelancer market fantasy that modern Shadowrun seems to align more closely with. It's probably not a perfect game, or a perfect game for everyone, but it's a good thing made well and if you like any of the stuff I've mentioned here, you should check it out.

Minor Issues:

-Page 14, 4 - Points, the layout here makes it a little confusing when you say "among the following." You may want to spell out which sections this applies to.

-Page 19, Lifestyle, "an additional points" no an

-Page 19, Lifestyle, "foe every" for every

-Page 19, Lifestyle, I got it eventually, but how the point spends and rebates work here is worded a little confusingly