I’ve been buying alot of games recently, which is great, especially since I’ve actually started playing tabletop again. I’m really wondering why it took me so long to get back into it. My most recent purchase included Cold City, A|State, Don’t Rest Your Head, and Piledrivers and Powerbombs. I purchased everything from IPR, and I was quite impressed with the shipping time (from the time I clicked to the time I had the product wasn’t the best, but that was due to the order date). I also had the opportunity to run Spirit of the Century a few weekends ago, but I’d like to run another game before I put up a review (but so far, it’s double-plus-good).
Cold City is published by Contested Ground Studios out of the United Kingdom. The softcover book itself is very compact, measuring 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, with a mere 128 pages. When I first held the book, I thought to myself “Is this it???”. Don’t let the size of the book fool you. There’s tons here. Opening the matte black cover (complete with blood droplets!) brings you directly into the meat of the game.
The premise of the game is that you’re a agent of the Reserve Police Agency (RPA) in 1950s Berlin. Each player is a different nationality and must consider a variety of issues in their actions. These varying viewpoints must come together to fight the monsters developed by the Nazis, living in the forgotten areas of Berlin.
The layout of the book is wonderful and the type is easy to read. Character generation sounds like alot of fun, and extremely simple. First, you pick a nationality. No two characters can have the same nationality. You’ll select your name and your draw (how you became involved with the Reserve Police Agency), then you’ll begin your stats. Each character has 3 attributes:
- Action – To do physical things
- Influence – To do things like intimidate, seduce, etc.
- Reason – To use thought, willpower, etc.
After assigning values to these (between 1-5), you’ll begin to develop traits. Your character has at least 5 traits, 3 positive and 2 negative. These traits will come into play during conflict resolution. You’ll pick your hidden agendas and finally, you’ll assign trust to the other agents. I won’t get into alot of detail because I want to see it in action first (this is just first impressions you know)!
The conflict resolution mechanics are also quite simple (in my mind, at least). You create dice pools from your attributes, traits, hidden agendas and trust. Before rolling, each side must state their desired outcome from the roll, then the conflict resolution process begins. You roll a number of d10s equal to the size of your pool, which is then compared to the opponents roll. Successes are measured by how many dice beat the best result of your opponents pool. So for example,
Ricky has a dicepool of 4. He rolls and the dice come up: 4, 6, 8, 9. The GM rolls the opponent’s dicepool of 3, resulting in: 5, 7, 10. The GM succeeds with one success.
The really cool thing about this game is that whomever wins a particular conflict gets to narrate what happens. It sounds cool, so I’m excited to see how it plays in practice. The other thing I like is that the book tells GMs to only roll dice when dramatically important.
My first impression of the book is hugely positive. I love pretty much everything about it (some of the art could be better, but really, its a minor thing) and I’m really excited about running a session, just to give the tires a kicking. The book does leave alot of setting to personal imagination, which I like. You’re given enough to see the basic idea, but you’re not confined to anything hugely specific.
On a personal note, I’m quite disapointed that I didn’t decide to buy the Dossier or the Companion – but I’m confident I’ll end up buying them in the future. These books give some new areas to put in your games as well as adventure hooks.