Buck Rogers XXVc: A Few Thoughts

This week I will run the third session of our Buck Rogers XXVc campaign and I think it’s time to share a few thoughts. Overall things have been running smoothly with a few unpleasant exceptions.

To familiarize me and my players with the setting I decided to run the introductory adventure included in the box. It is a bit linear but aside from that I didn’t think it would be as bad as it turned out. We quickly realized that the adventure was either very badly balanced or it meant to be lethal. The first encounter was with three thugs equipped with a laser pistol, a heat gun and a microwave gun. Especially the heat gun was a big issue. 2d6 damage can easily kill almost any 1st level character. Ouch! I think I wasn’t really at the top of my game at the time, otherwise I would probably have given them different weapons.

The next encounter was another group of RAM thugs. After barely surviving the fight with three thugs the author of the adventure thought it was a great idea to let them fight against as many thugs as players in the group plus the NPC they had in tow. Guess what! Each enemy was armed with a heat gun! Yay! A few lucky rolls by the GM and the player characters are toast … literally.

Starting characters also have pretty weak skills which makes healing very unrealiable. If you play rules as written, Buck Rogers XXVc turns deadly pretty quickly. The technology book talks about the advances in medical technology in the Buck Rogers universe, but alas there’s nothing like a stimpack, health potion, etc. which I could give to the player characters to make things easier. Eventually I did just that and invented single-use “stimpacks” which they could use to heal quickly if necessary.

The skill system has a few issues as well. New characters basically suck at everything. Even if I let them make easy tests all the time, their chances to succeed are usually below 50%. Things will probably get better as the characters level up, but until then making skill checks is usually pretty frustrating. Aside from that I am actually glad we gave Buck Rogers XXVc a try. My players seem to enjoy playing their characters, they love the setting and overall we are having a lot of fun. I think I just need to get a better understanding of how the game is balanced.