Featured Product: Better Angels – First Impressions (Part 1)

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Better Angels – First Look (Part 1)
By Aaron T. Huss
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Find out more about Better Angels here
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Welcome to Part 1 of the Featured Product series for Better Angels RPG, powered by the One-Roll Engine and published by Arc Dream Publishing. Part 1, First Impressions, discusses the initial details of the setting and system.

ANOTHER?

I’ll be honest. When I first saw the announcement that Arc Dream Publishing was developing another superhero role-playing game [see the announcement here], my first impression was, ‘Really?’ I’m not a fan of publishers who rehash the same thing over and over again, but when it comes to Arc Dream Publishing, I was skeptic about my impression.

Arc Dream Publishing is not the type of publisher that sticks to vanilla. They don’t publish products that look and feel like everyone else. So when it came to another superhero RPG, there had to be something different. Right? Well, I wouldn’t be typing this Featured Product series up if there wasn’t something different.

To start, Better Angels is not another superhero role-playing game. Hypothetically, it’s not really a super-villain role-playing game either. It is a role-playing about regular people given super powers from demons who demand they perform villainous things while the character struggles with their personal morals to prevent the demon from completely taking over. Hmm, maybe that’s a long description. Let’s say this: Better Angels is about regular people who morally struggle with the demons that granted them villainous powers. Oh, and it’s powered by a version of the One-Roll Engine that embraces this concept.

So what does that mean? That means you are a villain; you could even be called a super-villain. You are the one the superheroes are hunting and attempt to thwart at every possible time. But you are not a villain at heart. You are a human who has come under the ‘assistance’ of a demon. This demon grants you super abilities, but sometimes demands that you do villainous things, otherwise the powers will be taken away. However, if you succumb to the demons whims too much, then it overpowers you and completely takes over. Thus, you have a balancing act, as a player and a character, whereas you must perform villainous deeds to retain your powers, but do heroic things, or at least some type of good, to prevent the demon from taking over.

To make matters worse, the demon is another character, and it happens to be controlled by another player (not the GM). How is this worse? You are now at the whims of the demon controlled by your good friend sitting next to you. Yikes! Although when you think about it, the number of role-playing opportunities is quite vast, and maybe your game sessions will be lighthearted. The game thus becomes a bit of give and take, risk and reward, kind of like a game of poker. It’s way more than just a superhero game, and it’s not the same as what Arc Dream Publishing has done before. So when you think, ‘Is this yet another superhero role-playing game from Arc Dream Publishing?’ The answer is no, it’s definitely not.

WHY BETTER ANGELS?

Nowadays, we’ve been inundated with no shortage of comic book-like superhero role-playing games where the player characters take their super, amazing powers and beat-up the bad guys, save the day, and probably save the world. You then do this again next week, the week after, and every week until you’ve gained so much fame that the government is throwing money at you to protect every citizen they have. Basic, vanilla heroics in a universe that hasn’t really changed much since the Golden Age. This type of role-playing is not for me. It may be for you, but it’s not for me; and it may not be for a lot of people.

When it comes to superheroes, I prefer the darker, vigilante type, or the ones who are less heroic and more malevolent. Better Angels is the type of supers game I would play. Not because I want to play a super-villain whose plots are those deemed as horrific by the superheroes and is thus hunted to his death. No, I want to play the less-than-morally-correct super, who can’t really be called hero or villain, who takes to the streets and serves as some type of vigilante. I want to play the type of super that spends half his time doing things that are good, and half his time doing things that may be considered evil. In fact, when creating characters, I looked toward my favorite supers who aren’t exactly heroic: Hellstorm, Nightstalkers, Morbius, Ghost Rider, and Dr. Strange. These are the types of characters I would play, and these are the types of characters I was easily able to build using Better Angels. Of course, during game-play, they would be less heroic and more villainous, but in a vigilante sort of way.

This is the game you play when you want to be a super, but you don’t want to be a superhero and you don’t have to be a full-fledged super-villain. Of course, you could easily go that route, but the demon may quickly overcome you.

Part 2 | Part 3

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