Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: Power-Ups 2 - Perks

Take a look if you want.
The first book in the power-ups system was about an entirely new mechanic. After that, the rest of the series turned into a kind of catalog of fill-in-the-crack spackling for all the mechanical elements that might have been missing from the catalogs. Some are better than others, and some are pretty forgettable. Among them, Perks is probably in the latter category for myself. I like to think of it as a learned lesson though nonetheless, because most of the issues I take with it are remedied in later Power-Ups books which are more interesting in all the ways that this one isn't. So, let's take a closer look.


Perks is a 22 page pdf, with 3 pages of front matter (actual cover art, wew) and 1 page of back matter in the shape of an index. The remaining 18 pages are a catalog of quirks, broken up into categories that are neither here nor there; if you prefer an alphabetical listing, at least there is the index. Besides the list of perks, the introduction includes a few interesting mechanics that are mostly represented in other material already, but I guess if you don't have that material then maybe it is still useful.
The list includes a variety of perks, "over 160" to quote the introduction page, and most of them are fine, so someone might ask why I started with such a pessimistic introduction. The reason is that this book is mostly recycled material, and most of that recycled material is from the books that are must-haves anyway. It's a cheap nice accessory if you just like flipping through catalogs, but it feels like it isn't unique or new enough to me. To summarize my reception in one word that looks like two words: lukewarm.

The Perks

The chapter is broken down by categories according to the screenshot of the table of contents. This categories are in alphabetical order, and the perks in the categories are in alphabetical order. I am neither here nor there on the organization; looking up perks by name is tricky because some of the names aren't exactly indicative of what they do, so putting them in pure alphabetical order without categories would be not much of an improvement; but the categories that exist are not especially pneumonic or GURPS idiomatic either, so they don't help much for quick scanning to find the thing you forgot about and you need two seconds ago either.


Mechanically speaking, there are a lot of good perks, and there are a lot of fun ones, so besides the fact that all the great ones are already in more interesting books, I don't particularly draw umbrage from the catalog. I mostly wish there was something novel that this book would do in a way that, for example, the book on quirks expounded on interesting ways to formulate new quirks from thin air, or how the talents book has a lot of optional tools to adjust them to be better or more fair, or account for high levels and so forth.
Bottom-line, it's not bad, it's just superfluous. If you are a completionist, wait for warehouse 23 to have a sale before you buy it!

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