As a decent gamer, you will be very familiar with the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. A series that taught us that Russian’s make some pretty amazing games, on about the same level of bugginess as Bethesda for a fraction of the budget.
Firmly based on an ancient Sci-Fi Novel Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers, it shares a lot of lovely similarities. The only real difference being that there are multiple ‘Zones’ not just the one, and they were caused by Alien Visitation in the novels, not a science experiment gone wrong. For the lamely uninitiated The Zone is an area of scientific anomaly. Within the Zone there are pockets that defy laws of physics, spontaneously combustionationing jets of of nothing, ‘pancakes’ which are areas of intense gravity – enough to pancake a man – and my favorite “Meat Grinders” (you can guess what this one does). That’s only naming a few, around these Anomalies you find Artefacts powerful crystalline formations that alter physics as well. Some will heal you, imbue you with immunity to radiation, provide unlimited power – be it mechanical, electrical, thermal or otherwise, simply as needed – and others will cause bad luck to happen around you. The saddest part about Roadside Picnic vs S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is that the Strugatsky brother’s aren’t awarded a single dime!
With such an abundance of Sci Fi hardcoreness, tabletop Roleplay’s really took off in the fanbase for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. There are many wonderful and not so wonderful attempts, and many of them really capture what it would be like to be a S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. Much in the same way Dungeons and Dragons captures being a Jersey Shore douchebag in 6th Century AD, and Rogue Trader captures being a pirate. But what I really felt missing in those is something new. Something the Strugatsky Borther’s brought to the table (hahaha) and were handsomely recognized for.
Stalker by Ville Vuorela. I’ve got my copy in the mail, so expect a review in the coming weeks. What really grabbed my attention was FLOW. A new diceless mechanic that I haven’t been able to find a solid explanation for. Once I find out how it works, you’ll know – but here are the excerpts that convinced me.
The FLOW system lives up to its name giving the gm strong authority to prosecute the Players outcomes
FLOW is a scientific system in that it has a measurable metric and repeatable method.
FLOW works for STALKER because it is a surgical tool for a harsh world
That’s convincing if I’ve ever defined it, stay tuned.