Thursday, June 4, 2009

Supernatural RPG

Well I have the new Supernatural PDF and I have some thoughts.

- It looks nice! If the printed version is half as nice as the PDF then this will be a damn attractive book. It looks like a "hunters notebook", loved the scribbled notes and pictures "taped" in. In fact it is an order of magnitude greater than their previous best works. Yes BSG and Serenity are nice looking books. This one blows them away.

- Nice introduction. I know exactly what this book is supposed to be about and what I am going to do with it. It lays out the antagonists and the "theatre" very, very nicely.

- As deep and as profound as my love is for the Cine Unisystem modern horror games, Supernatural reminds us that there is more the US than the west coast. But to be fair, this is more to do with the respective source materials rather than the games themselves.

- "Supernatural" fills the hole in my RPG life that was once filled with "Chill". Normal (mostly) people going up against the … well supernatural. This isn't Buffy or Angel where it is difficult to tell who the bad guys are, or even Charmed where both sides had the same firepower. This is closer to Call of Cthulhu. I'll say it now. Supernatural is a better "Hunter" RPG than either "Hunter: The Reckoning" or "Hunter: The Vigil".

- Cortex. Unisystem and Savage Worlds got freaky one night and nine months later Cortex was born. Now keep in mind this is a good thing for me. I REALLY wanted to like Savage Worlds and just couldn't. I LOVE Unisystem, but (and this might sound a bit heretical) a Unisystem based Supernatural game would not have given us much in the way of new. But here the systems tweaks fight the tone of the game. These are normal humans. The Cortex system work great for that. Plus converting to Savage Worlds or Unisystem is really, really simple. There are more skills here than in Cine Unisystem, less than Classic Unisystem.

- Character sheets look really cool. Again, like something you would see in say John Winchester's journal.

- Good equipment lists. A fair number of monsters. I am not worried about there not being enough. I have 1000s of books on monsters and Cortex is simple enough to move things around.

- "Music to Hunt By" is the best addition to any RPG! ;) There should be room on the character sheet to list important thing like what the hunter's personal play list is.

The only thing it is really missing to make it a perfect modern supernatural horror hunting game is a magic system. BUT, given this is "Supernatural" and more about normal humans, it's fine that it is not there and more of a reflection of my play style than the show.

I am not sure how it compares to other Cortex books in terms of mechanics. It's looks most similar to Demon Hunters and the Cortext Core, but there are changes to reflect the world a bit better (no super science, no flashy magic, lot more gear). Though while Demon Hunters is very tongue and cheek and the Core is very dry, this book is neither.

Who Should Buy This Game?

- Anyone that is a fan of the show

- Anyone that is a fan of Cortext

- Anyone that likes supernatural/modern horror games, but is not interested in playing a vampire, fae, ghost, demon (half or otherwise) or a "chosen one" human. This is a game of normal people doing what they can to stop evil.

Now to get that full on Supernatural / Demon Hunters crossover going.


Rusty said...

Thanks for the informative review. Something new for family game night. I'll have to check it out.

Rev. Lazaro said...

Silly request; I'm a big fan of Monster Hunting games in general; from both Cthulhu to both incarnations of Hunter.

Could you possibly write up why this feels better for a Hunter campaign than Hunter? I'm actually pretty curious considering I've enjoyed what I've seen of Supernatural.

TBH, I felt in the new incarnations Mortal WoD fits better than Vigil; but still, would love to see some input.

Timothy S. Brannan said...


Give me a bit. Keep one thing in mind, that my experiences are mostly with H:TR and not some much H:TV.

Steve V. said...

I keep thinking about picking this up but have never been too sure about it. I loved the Serenity game when it first came out, and since that was the basis for the Cortex system, I believe I would like the game mechanics. I grew up playing CoC, Chill, and Stalking the Night Fantastic for horror rpg's and always had a good time. (Though Chill was my favorite.) But since I didn't know anyone who had picked up this game, I was reluctant to buy it myself. I would definitely be more interested in reading more about this game. I am not a big fan of the show, but the world they created for the show looks really spooky and interesting from a horror aspect.

Tim Knight said...

This sounds really cool, but I'm going to hold off for the print version as I don't like reading (or printing) massive PDF files.

Personally I'm not as big a fan as you of the Cortex System - feeling it lacks the elegance of either Unisystem or Savage Worlds (my two of favourite, non-D&D rules sets), but you've given me hope that this will be a pretty awesome game.

Any idea when the print version is coming out?

Must watch some more episodes of Supernatural soon...

fatelux said...

Thanks for the information. It´s a good review. I´ll wait until the print edition came out to stores. I´m a big fan of the show, the horror rpg and of course "The call of Cthulhu".

A little question, Will i need the "cortex core rule book" to use "supernatural rpg"? Many thanks

Regards from Canary Islands, Spain

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Fatelux: No the Supernatural RPG book is complete. All you need are some dice.

Rusty said...

The hard cover book is now out. I picked it up for my teen daughter, who is a fan of the show and is just now getting into RPGs. We plan on figuring it out this weekend.

HANZO said...

I really think what Supernatural could bring to unisystem is playing mostly normal humans. While this is not totally new concepts you got to admit most the other games deal with Gifted or "chosen ones" I think supernatural could bring out a grittier and social based game to the cinematic Unisystem.

While I used to be a big fan of Savage worlds I'v fallen out of love with it. And dont think I'll like cortex for a lot of the same reasons. Plus if im already using Unisystem I see no reason to add one more system that focuses on this same style of game.

Timothy S. Brannan said...


I see your point. Obviously I love Unisystem. But Supernatural is fun game in it's own right and I like to play a game in it's original foramt at least once. Then I can rip it apart for my own twisted needs!

Thanks for the comment!