It was back in 2016 or so that I wrote up an article on a Kickstarter for a sweet looking board game called Venom Assault. It managed to get funded, went out, and I had a pretty damn good time playing it. I have a... thing for the 80's, especially the various comics and animated series that were big during that time, and Venom Assault, a “not GI Joe” game hit just the right itch for me.
After playing the board game a bit, I got to wondering why someone had never made a GI Joe RPG after all these years. A setting like that would be perfect for an RPG. We kinda get that with Cartoon Action Hour and a small supplement for Spycraft, but the first example never really clicked with me, and the second was tiny and lacking a lot. Thankfully though, it looks like the teams over at Evil Beagle Games and Spyglass figured that was a good idea themselves and have put together a pretty great looking game that uses the Savage Worlds system of rules.
If you’re not familiar with the Savage Worlds rules, they are effectively a simplified version of the old Deadlands rules designed to act as a generic ruleset for any genre a group of friends may want to run. Think GURPS, but with a greater focus on fast-paced play and being able to jump right into a game. It’s probably one of the easiest systems I’ve ever been able to just pick up and play in almost no time at all.
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of SW at times, as it doesn’t really lend itself all that well to certain genres like it’s supposed to (Fantasy and Supers come to mind), but it’s fantastic for action/adventure oriented games from pulps all the way through Sci Fi, which means it’s goddamn perfect for something like Venom Assault.
As for the setting itself, Venom Assault takes place in the not too distant future after WWIII, and deals with the ongoing battle between a terrorist organization determined to rule the world named Venom fighting against the heroic multinational team of goodniks called Freedom Squadron. They have all the colorful characters, ridiculous uniforms, and crazy toys that you would expect in this setting.
Assault looks to be designed with the next edition of Savage Worlds in mind, which is useful, and also borrows a lot from the recent Savage Rifts rules that were put out, which really gives the players a lot of cool tools to play with when designing their characters. It also introduces a pretty interesting new mechanic involving cards the GM may use to simulate both montage sequences or even entire missions, if the group decides to go that route.
Right now, the line consists of two books, with a few more yet to be unlocked throughout the rest of the Kickstarter. The primary two are the Commando’s Manual and the Plans & Operations Manual, which are effectively the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide, respectively. They have all the special rules, tools, toys, and character options that any group wanting to run a GI Joe-syle game would need. If you don’t already have the core Savage World rules though, you’ll need to get those in addition to these books. There are already a few little bonuses unlocked, and if the Kickstarter does well enough we’ll also see things like tech manuals and what not released as well.
The devs have had a lot of fun with this Kickstarter, releasing little audio excerpts, news reports, and a few other little odds and ends to build up the world for the players a bit more. They’ve even just released an update today on the eventual inclusion of Robotrons to the line as part of their overarching “Project Awesome.” So... yeah, Transformers in Savage Worlds. Fucking awesome.