When I was a kid, I read T.H. White’s THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING (Amazon). I recall reading it twice, back-to-back, never quite getting enough of the legend of King Arthur. There is something inherently awesome about those stories, something that pulls at me. Anything that has a sliver of Arthurian legend in it automatically piques my curiosity.
I was recently sent a copy of Mark Plemmons’ Role-Playing Game core book, CORPORIA, with a polite request to give it a peek. I don’t normally review RPGs, not because I don’t like RPGs (I do), but because I’m never quite sure how to review them. However, in the case of CORPORIA, I’m making an exception.
Check out this first paragraph from Chapter 1 of the book:
“Corporia is a tabletop role-playing game set in “The City”, a future metropolis ruled by an alliance of powerful mega-corporations. Players take on the roles of members of the Knightwatch, the elite supernaturally-powered special operations unit of the Watchman private security company, under the the auspices of its mega-corporate entity Valyant and Chief Executive Officer Lance Martin – the reincarnated Sir Lancelot du Lac. The Knightwatch resolve extreme incidents involving manifestations of other-dimensional energies (aka the Flux), including mutated humans, monsters from other dimensions, and corporate experiments gone wrong.”
So yeah. think Cyberpunk King Arthur. That’s all I needed to know.
Let’s go down the list of chapters to give you a good idea of what you’ll find in the book, as well as any particularly cool things or particularly bothersome things. I’ll keep it as spoiler-free as possible since, after all, my ultimate recommendation is that you should buy this book and play it with your RPG group.
Chapter 1: The Basics
Pretty straight-forward. This is where it details out the absolute basics of the setting, what role-playing is (eeeeeeeasy there…keep it PG:13. I’m talking about gaming you dirty-minded….), and the basics on how to play the game (what dice to use, etc.). honestly, there isn’t much to talk about here. It’s pretty clear what kind of dice to roll, and when.
Chapter 2: Human Resources
This is where it gets fun. One of the main reasons I am in a constant RPG group, and the main reason I got into playing in the first place, is because of character creation. I love the aspect of making a new character and creating that back story.
In CORPORIA, the character creation is both awesome and a bit muddled. Plemmons has given players a gajillion character archetypes. They are seriously so incredibly varied that my mind immediate started pulling together imaginary groups that could have endless combinations. Yet at the same time, when I went to create a character from scratch as an experiment, I found I didn’t quite know where to begin. It wasn’t until I’d read the entire book (the character creation chapter twice) that I realized what exactly to do. And a lot of that came from a summary that was found at the very end of the book. All the information is here, but it needs to be organized better, and worded a bit clearer. That said, with an experienced GM, this wouldn’t even be an issue. My concern is with a brand new group where everyone is starting this game for the first time.
Chapters 3 & 4
These chapters deal with all the accessories you get for your character. Assets, spells, weapons, etc. The cool thing to me was the augments section. It is obvious a lot of thought went into these sections. I’m not going to go into it too much, but I found them pretty awesome.
Chapter 5: The City
My favorite section of the book. This chapter deals with all the different districts in The City. It is shocking to me just how deep the info is here. It would be easy to overlook it as “fluff”. That would be a huge mistake. While there is fluff here, there is a TON of data. Simply reading the description of each district made my mind whirl with potential story ideas. And I don’t just mean for GMing a game. But for fiction set in the universe. For modules. For the fun of pure imagination. This section was absolutely incredible for me.
Chapter 6: Game Mastery
This game makes it very easy to get started in an adventure. all of the prior chapters lead very nicely into this one. I’ll leave it at that.
Let’s talk about the book itself. RPGs aren’t just about the info in them. Look at any Legend of the Five Rings book and you will see that they are pieces of art. So how does CORPORIA stack up against the rest?
The book’s size is slightly smaller than your average RPG core book. I don’t mean just in thickness. In actual dimensions. Honestly, at first I was a little put off by it. but then I began reading through the book, and found that it was actually a lot more comfortable to hold and read than other core books. I don’t know that I want all RPG books to become this size, but I don’t have any issue with it anymore. The paper used seems a bit thin, almost like a magazine, but overall it isn’t an issue.
The cover art is striking. A knight set against skyscrapers. It pretty much pulls together the whole theme of the book. The art on the inside, however, is not my favorite. Rather than using original art, it is all photography and, essentially, cosplay. While I imagine it is way WAY cheaper, I just wasn’t a fan. I’m used to this style of art from Flying Frog’s games, but here a lot of it just seemed cheap. My hope is that in a subsequent version it can all be replaced with actual art… cause this setting deserves it.
At the end of the day, I think your group will decide if this is a good RPG. A good group will have an amazing time with this game. A bad group will ruin any game, no matter how good.
I personally think this is a killer RPG. There are so many ideas here. So many ways to play this game. While there are some things that bothered me about the book itself, those have no impact on the actual GAME.
Simply put, there just isn’t an experience out there like this one. Anywhere.
Get the book here: