Review: Catalyst Game Labs – Transcendent’s Edge (Valiant Universe RPG)

Transcendent’s Edge
Transcendent’s Edge is a superheroic supplement for the Valiant Universe Roleplaying Game, written by Randall N. Bills, Aaron Cahall, Joel Bancroft-Connors, Kevin Killiany, Philip A. Lee, and Craig Reed and published by Catalyst Game Labs.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Transcendent’s Edge is a multi-purpose supplement for the Valiant Universe Roleplaying Game (VURPG) from Catalyst Game Labs. Half of the book is a sourcebook containing a wealth of setting information for running VURPG games in San Francisco against the backdrop of the Valiant comic book universe. The other half of the book features a flexible campaign set within San Francisco using the setting as presented in the source material. The campaign is flexible as it can be run at a number of desired lengths depending on how long the players choose to remain within the confines of that campaign. Although the campaign is tied directly to the source material, the source material itself goes above and beyond what is necessary to run the campaign. Thus, you get a complete campaign setting and a campaign to go with it.

Before I go any further, I’d like to note that I’m not much for superhero games. VURPG happened to break that mold as it makes the characters superheroes and not unstoppable at the same time. There is a beautiful balance of mechanics in the system, and it helps that I like the Valiant Universe. For me, most superhero games feel a little cookie-cutter with most of them being very similar in mechanical feel (even if the mechanics are different). When Catalyst Game Labs asked if I wanted to review the first full-length supplement, I thus jumped at the opportunity.

For those who don’t know, VURPG is a GM-less game system where adventures center on maximum flexibility, allowing the group to drive the storyline based on queues laid by the scenario. Thus, writing a campaign becomes a bit interesting as instead of creating a single, cohesive storyline that flows from beginning to end, it’s a large collection of scenarios that are at the same time dependent on independent from each other. They are dependent in that they fit within the same timeline and further the same story. But they are independent in that the outcome of one does not have to drive the outcome of another. Each scenario is then laid out in the same format as all other VURPG adventures, there’s just a lot more that create the potential for a lengthy campaign.

In regards to the source material, Catalyst Game Labs did an incredible job of not only describing San Francisco, which amazingly enough is quite neglected in the RPG industry, but tying it into the VURPG portion of the Valiant Universe to keep a homogeneous setting when combined with the core rulebook and all other material released to date. It’s a very usable format for a sourcebook and provides a wealth of information to the group for running any number of games within San Francisco. Remember, without a GM, there is no one person to arbitrate the rules and the setting, thus the writers have to describe the setting well enough so that any one that assumes the Lead Narrator position knows what’s in the area.

I hope to see future settings with included campaigns in this same fashion for VURPG.

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