Aug 25, 2021

Awfully Cheerful Engine! (ACE!) Role Playing Game

Back in June, the Kickstarter for the Awfully Cheerful Engine! (or ACE!) Role Playing Game was funded. Usually, I'm an all digital guy when it comes to books but for some reason I splurged for the physical books on this one. What drew me to the Kickstarter was the promise of multiple settings and a fast, easy system.

It's also sort of comic book-y. The game books are around 30 pages and comic sized. Each one is an "issue" in the series. Before I dive into the books, I want to get my major gripe with them out of the way.

While they're comic sized, they have a bound spine instead of being stapled. What this means with a thin 30-page book is that you can't lay it flat open and keep it in minty condition. In addition to collecting things, I like to keep any of my books in the best possible shape. Lucky for me, the "all-in" pledge level includes PDFs of all the books too. If I'd kicked in another $40 I could have gone with the deluxe hardcover edition but I really like the comic size format.

Issue 1 is naturally the main rule book. This is a loosey-goosey, fast paced, comedic RPG so there aren't a ton of rules. In fact, it's inspired by (pretty much exactly) the old West End Games Ghostbusters RPG from the late 80s. The author of that game, Sandy Peterson, wrote the foreword even!

Each character starts with a Role that defines them. This is an archetype that gives you specific bonuses. Examples would be an Elf/Orc in a Fantasy setting, Jock/Cheerleader in high school, Pirate, Robot, Talking Animal, or really anything that fits the setting you're playing in. The game is designed to span genres if you want to get crazy with it!

You then assign 12 points among your stats: Smarts, Moves, Style, and Brawn. And for each of those, you pick a focus, something you're really good at that gives you a bonus when doing that thing. Your Defense and Health are derived from your stats. Finally, you pick a trait such as Bold, Sassy, Gullible, you get the idea. They even have an online character creator you can mess with. You also start with 6 Karma that let you influence the game.

When you want to do something in the game, the Director determines the difficultly from Normal (10) to Impossible (40+). You roll a number of d6 based on the relevant stat and if you have a focus that applies to the situation, you add 2d6. If you roll any 6s, you get to re-roll them and add the new number to your total. You should also have 1 die that's a different color from the others for your Calamity Die. If you fail your check and that die is a 1...bad things will happen!

There's a little more to the rules than that, but not much.

What really sold me on the game are the other issues. Each one is a new setting for the game that includes an adventure and suggestions for new Roles, Traits, and gear/tech.

Issue 2: Spirits of Manhattan

Who ya gonna call? Ghostbreakers!

Strap on your Anti-Plasm Particle Thrower, grab your Electromagnetic Field Detector, and jump into your Ghostmobile. New York City needs your help! Battle ghostly creeps, phantasmal drakes, shriekers, slime buckets, and terror dogs!

Play as a ghost, or take up a career as a demonologist or exorcist! Learn the skills of parapsychology, cryptozoology, and parazoology! And try not to do too much collateral damage...

Issue 3: Montana Drones and the Raiders of the Cutty Sark

The Return of the Great Adventure!

Settle your fedora, grab your knapsack and snap your bullwhip into action. The allies need your help to protect one of history’s strangest relics!

This action-packed adventure will take you around the globe as you battle nefarious relic hunters, otherworldly entities, diabolic witches, and even the Nazi war machine.  

Issue 4: Strange Science


Your average American town in the heart of the country.

Until weird things start happening at the local research facility, people go missing, and there’s a sudden influx of fitness nuts in the town. That’s before we get to the time travel, bodysnatching, and portals to other dimensions. Maybe ‘strange’ isn’t strong enough a word for it!

 Issue 5: Beam Me Up

These are the voyages of the starship FSS Brazen. Its continuing mission: to recklessly go where plenty of people have probably been before… and hope a major interstellar incident isn’t sparked in the process.

You can probably guess what each setting is all about just by the cover and title. Each of them has 5-10 pages about the setting and the rest of the book details the adventure. Because the system is so simple, you could probably even bust one of these out for a one-shot game night. I think it would probably be a good system for introducing younger players to RPGs too.

They already have more issues in the works!

ACE #6: Orcs & Oubliettes. You've played warriors and wizards before. You've delved into dungeons and battled with dragons. But not like this you haven't! Join the Dusk Watch and save the city of Heq Moreveg in ORCS & OUBLIETTES, a Pratchett-esque parody of the world's most popular roleplaying game.

ACE #7: BITE ME! From Victorian London to the heart of Transylvania, you'll meet werewolves, ghosts, zombies, and worse in your hunt for the legendary vampire himself, Count Dracula!

ACE #8: Domes of Thunder.
Battle mutants in a post-apocalyptic wasteland! Explosions, armored trucks, and villainous cults feature in DOMES OF THUNDER as you fight for limited resources of petrol. Mayhem awaits!

ACE #9: Accidental Anthropomorphic Animal Heroes. Fan of Danger Mouse or TMNT? In ACCIDENTAL ANTHROPOMORPHIC ANIMAL HEROES you'll play a wisecracking animal hero and defend your city's streets from evil villains. Who are also probably animals. Cartoon action!

If you want to check out the game, you can pick up the print books for $20 each from Amazon or DriveThruRPG, which also has it available in PDF for $10 each. You can also buy direct from the Awfully Cheerful Engine site if you're in the UK.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Nice play on words in the titles, but looks like a lot of fun.