CAVEAT: I was one of the playtesters of GURPS Ogre, so feel free to read this review with a large dollop of salt.
Jonathan Woodward's least favorite joke:
Question: Why did it take fifteen years for SJG to put out a roleplaying supplement for GURPS based off Ogre?
Answer: Because they had to figure what the GM would do besides saying, "You see a bright flash of light. Roll up a new character."
GURPS Orge is SJG's long awaited supplement for it's popular board/minatures game of giant cybernetic tanks. In G:O, author Woodward successfully manages to find the narrow roleplaying ground between the treads of the massive 75 foot long Ogres.
The meat of the book is divided into three major sections. Chapters One and Two cover the history of "The Last War", and gives GMs an overview of the major players in the Ogre universe, expanding on the information previously collated in Ogre Minatures. Besides the classic Combine and Paneuropean alliances, we're also treated to details on the Nihon Empire (Japan reverted to a mostly plausible techno-feudal society), China, and the various minor alliances that are stuck between these monsters. Woodward paints a fairly grim future, with no side coming across as 'the good guys', but leaves room for GM's and players to encourage individual heroics.
After a brief chapter on characters (with the usual much reviled/loved templates) we come to the heart of the book, namely the equipment! Battlesuits (and some useful tools), ground vehicles, and the Ogres themselves each get a seperate chapter. With six seperate suit types listed, along with a variety of drone models, the Personal Hardware section will prove useful to anyone who'd like to run a space marine style campaign, even if they have no use for the Ogre universe itself.
The next chapter gives the stats for every vehicle and vehicle weapon system ever seen in the Ogre universe, from superheavy tanks to LGEVS. I was mildly dissapointed that Woodward only listed the Paneuropean variants of these vehicles, but the omission was understandable, considering that to list seperate stats for the Combine would take up another book entirely.
Chapter Six is devoted exclusively to Ogres, covering not only their stats, but also the training and psychology inside those armored brains of theirs. This chapter fleshes out (so to speak) the menacing cybertanks, making them viable as true NPCs, or even player characters in some games! I was especially fond of the story about the Vulcan Ogre-assembly vehicles, and how they liked to challenge humans to arm wrestling matches...
The final two chapters, Combat, and Campaigns, help the GM with gaming in this universe. Combat is devoted to explaining the way various sensor systems work (presumable so as not to force players to keep flipping to their G:Vehicles) and how to use the original Ogre/GEV board game and Ogre Minatures to game out large scale combats. There's also yet another variation on the Abstract Combat System for people who like to use that. Campaigns, suprisingly, is the briefest chapter of all at only seven pages. It's evenly divided between one paragraph campaign ideas and considerations, the invevitable crossovers with other GURPS supplements (GURPS Ogre/IOU anyone?), and a somewhat larger section devoted to bringing a ray of humor into what could easily be a *very* grim game.
If there's a dissapointment to this supplement, it's the narrow focus forced by the page count. After making room for the the wide variety of vehicles and equipment that have been created for Ogre over the years, Woodward is forced into focusing almost exclusively on the Last War, and almost completely ignoring the Factory States era mentioned in Ogre Minatures. Howver, a brief mention at the end of chapter seems to indicate it's SJG's intention to devote an entire seperate supplement to that era. Hopefully they'll allow Woodward to continue his excellent job of worldbuilding. My only other nit is the interior art. Most of it is up to SJG's improved standards, but I would have liked to have seen what the Ogre Mark I, II, and VI looked like, not to mention the Paneuropean's massive Dopplesoldner.
Overall, this a great supplement if you're already a fan of the Ogre universe, especially if you're a GURPS player. Other people looking for a good military science fiction universe to game in might just want to give it a look.Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)