Review: Triple Ace Games – Necropolis 2350 (Savage Worlds)


Necropolis 2350
Necropolis 2350 is a military sci-fi horror setting for Savage Worlds written by Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams and published by Triple Ace Games.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Necropolis 2350 is a military sci-fi plot point campaign for Savage Worlds depicting the struggles of the last of humanity against a horrific alien race that is akin to the undead of fantasy and mythology. The result is a setting that feels like a mash-up of Warhammer 40k and the Crusades of our history. The planet of Salus is dominated by the Third Reformation Church alongside the powerful corporations and the horrific Rephaim (an alien race comprised of undead beings and their followers).

The horror comes from the struggle of humanity versus this horrific race and the fact that, although they are undead, they are extremely powerful and advanced. This is probably because the Rephaim are not just your standard fantasy undead; they are an alien race that fled to the shadowy recesses of the galaxy and became the undead. Thus, they are an intelligent species first and undead second. The Rephaim are soldiers just like those of mankind, being led by generals (in the form of vampires) and commanders (in the form of liches). This is not your standard collection of mass battles, it is the absolute struggle for survival in the last bastion of humanity. The planet of Salus must be saved or the future of humanity may lie within the enslaving hands of the Rephaim.

Necropolis 2350 is very much a military sci-fi setting. The characters, equipment, plot point campaign, and savage tales all revolve around the never-ending war taking place on Salus between the Church and the Rephaim (although why the corporations are not getting more involved could be a mystery). As stated, it is a Crusade of such against the oncoming Rephaim armies, determined to dominate mankind.

CONTENT

Welcome to Hell is the introduction to Necropolis 2350 with an emphasis on the Sacri Ordines, the elite militant arm of the Third Reformation Church that holds sway over the planet of Salus (also known as Necropolis). Additionally, it contains character creation information for building your Knight or Chaplain – it should be noted that all characters are Knights or Chaplains of the Sacri Ordines and thus Necropolis 2350 uses an archetype system defining minimum character creation requirements to assume a particular archetype.

Archetypes is a collection of sample characters following some of the given archetypes and can be used as pregenerated characters or NPCs to fill in a team.

Church Hardware is the player character equipment section. Because all player characters are elite militants for the church, they only have access to equipment supplied by the church. This is not the same as equipment supplied by the corporations are those carried by the Rephaim.

Setting Rules is a small collection of new mechanics applicable to Necropolis 2350 and more importantly, the military sci-fi aspects of the setting (such as artillery and air support). This is a very critical section for understanding how to defeat the Rephaim during the plot point campaign.

Guide to Necropolis is the actual gazetteer of Salus (Necropolis) with a look at its solar system and major locations.

Mother Church is the ultimate guide to the Third Reformation Church that all Sacri Ordines report to. This is a very in-depth look at the church including its political structure, other organizations it manages (such as the Inquisition), the media it provides, how laws are handled and how the church interacts with the people.

War Master’s Section (The Corporations) marks the beginning of the GMs guide (GMs are called War Masters) and the behind-the-scenes information that can play a big part in the success or failure of the plot point campaign. To start, this delves into the major and minor corporations present on Salus. This includes a section regarding corporation gear presenting the equipment and vehicles available to the corporations.

The Rephaim are the reason behind the current state of affairs on Necropolis. The Rephaim hail from a Dark Dimension and are born of the darkness, becoming hideous and deformed versions of a previously humanoid alien race. They are driven to enslave all on Salus and are the ultimate threat faced by the Sacri Ordines and the power behind the plot point campaign. Although this is meant for the War Master’s eyes only and may reveal some secrets that shouldn’t by known by players, it is an excellent read and brings out a better understanding of why the war is occurring. One thing the players should avoid, is the sections containing new powers and weapons for the Rephaim.

Dangerous Secrets contains a collection of dark secrets occurring in the background of the Church and some corporations. Should these secrets get out, who knows how the battle would go and which sides people would choose. This section makes good fodder for behind-the-scenes storylines during the plot point campaign.

Operations is an adventure generation toolkit. You can create any number of adventures (missions) using this toolkit to either create your own campaign or to develop new Savage Tales to slot within the plot point campaign.

Battle for New Budapest is the military plot point campaign fully-involving the players in the setting flavor that surrounds Necropolis 2350: military campaigns, lots of combat, battle tactics, and horrific enemies. This plot point campaign is not constructed like most other campaigns. Instead of it being a straight-forward storyline, it is designed like a chaotic puzzle where each piece can fit into many different patterns. The outcome of each plot point (success or failure) leads to another plot point, but you may never see that plot point should the outcome be different. The storyline moves back and forth from plot point to plot point and can even come back to previous ones should the outcomes lead that way. In other words, there is no one right way to achieve success within this plot point campaign, there is actually dozens. To support this, a handy matrix flowchart is included to show where the outcome of each plot point leads.

Savage Tales is a collection of Savage Tales to slot in-between the various plot points. Each one is written in the same style as the plot point campaign and could ultimately change the flow of the campaign.

Bestiary is a collection of extras, NPCs, allies, and adversaries for the campaign and other aspects of the setting.

OVERALL

Necropolis 2350 is possibly the most interesting implementation of Mass Battles and military sci-fi I have seen for Savage Worlds. Instead of attempting to create something new by creating a new way to perform warfare, it uses the core mechanics to their full benefit by introducing a number of military advancements that add up to form the full campaign. Each plot point and savage tale is a miniature battle of itself that takes the characters, their given equipment, the command structure, and the heavy weapon vehicles available within the core setting to a new level of Mass Battle. This is not simply dividing up tokens and rolling Knowledge (Battle), this is like advancing your line, calling in an airstrike, moving your tanks into position, and determining the most strategic way to win the advancement. It’s almost like a war game in role-playing game format.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Necropolis 2350 is a beautiful book. Other than the occasional editing error, the illustrations look excellent, the content flows very nicely, and the formatting and layout are superb. Particular attention should be paid to the illustrations as they truly depict the state of affairs in the setting and the military sci-fi horror plot point campaign that accompanies it. With full color, this is an extremely visually appealing book.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
Necropolis 2350 takes a huge step toward the direction of creating a military campaign in terms of the characters, equipment, and vehicle support. While all of this makes perfect sense and presents the players with a number of options for defeating the Rephaim, they are all limited in the characters they can create. Character Creation defines a number of archetypes that are a part of the war (through displaying minimum requirements needed to fulfill those archetypes) and those archetypes are assigned a duty and equipment package. The problem is that you can only be those archetypes or the players and GM must find a way to build their own. This is in opposition to the Savage Worlds core mechanics that characters are never confined to a single role nor are they defined by any type of class or archetype. I understand the implementation as it represents the knights fighting for the Church, but it does limit the creativity during character creation and advancement. Outside of that, Necropolis 2350 does an excellent job of presenting new mechanics for use in a large-scale military campaign and (hopefully) gives the players the edge they need to overcome the Rephaim.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
If you are looking to play a large-scale military campaign, there’s no reason why Necropolis 2350 shouldn’t be at the top of your list. The setting is designed to embrace that style of game-play while presenting the players with a number of opportunities to role-play their way into becoming a hero of the campaign and defeat the threat of the Rephaim. While this isn’t exactly open warfare where body count is the important factor to drive back your opposition, it definitely contains a number of ways to reduce the Rephaim’s power and influence through strategic attacks and military advancements.

Overall: 8 out of 10
Necropolis 2350 is a fantastic presentation of the military sci-fi genre in a game system that contains very little mechanics to do so. However, this presentation is designed to embrace the theme of the setting and does so wonderfully. The inclusion of the Church makes it even more interesting as it feels like a holy crusade to save humanity rather than just a survival of the fittest. Instead of just giving the players the purpose of saving the humans, they are attempting to preserve humanity’s way of life and save the faith of the people. It also can help to create tension between the Church and the corporations as the two vie for power or attempt to uncover each others’ secrets. This adds to the opportunities for role-playing rather than simply being a war where all you do is move, shoot, and give orders. Without the Church, there may be less tension in the setting and thus less opportunities to actually role-play. In other words, the design of the setting is married to the military mechanics perfectly creating a setting that you can really immerse yourself into.

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