Talent Operations Command Intelligence Bulletin #2
Talent Operations Command Intelligence Bulletin #2 Capsule Review by Josh Black on 19/02/03
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
Essential training material for Godlike soldiers.
Product: Talent Operations Command Intelligence Bulletin #2
Author: Dennis Detwiller, Matt Snyder, and Shane Ivey
Company/Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
Page count: 32
Year published: 2003
Comp copy?: yes
Capsule Review by Josh Black on 19/02/03
Genre tags: Historical Superhero
Iíve always enjoyed imaginary authenticity.
Case in point: Arc Dreamís Talent Operations Command Bulletin #2, a nifty guidebook designed to dunk players and GMs into the military milieu of Godlike, Hobgoblynnís superpowered World War II RPG. For those unfamiliar with the concept of Godlike, imagine the lovechild of George R.R. Martinís Wild Cards and Steven Spielbergís Saving Private Ryan. The TOC Bulletin delivers role-playing ideas, combat tactics for American and German talents, one nice adventure hook, and more gun stats than an evening with the History Channel, all the while masquerading as a bit of authentic training material plucked from Godlikeís alternate version of 1942.
The TOC Bulletin begins with a brief review of the U.S. Talent Operations Command, Godlikeís War Department agency charged with coordinating Americanís superhumans (commonly called Talents) with the Alliesí conventional forces, followed by a rundown of standard field operations and tactics. This information is especially useful for characters in Talent Operations Groups (TOGs), who would have had it hammered into their psyches every waking hour during training. Itís good stuff for players who want to think about their characters as soldiers and not just super-powered freaks in olive drab kickiní Nazi ass. It also helps put the gaming group on common ground regarding the context of a campaign. For example, once the GM and everybody at the table knows Talents arenít supposed to show off their powers, itís a little easier to understand why a superstrong corporal might be court-martialled for slinging a broken-down jeep 300 yards to the motor pool (not that Iím, um, speaking from experience).
Another excellent playing aide is the "Know Your Enemy" section, which contains Ubermenschen uniforms, Nazi Talent organization, enemy tactics, and many, many German words. Of course, unless your group is stomaching play as members of the Waffen-SS, the usefulness of this section depends on the sensibilities of the GM. Some might have the Germans follow every tactic to the letter, while others may disregard it completely. Truly sneaky GMs will set up player expectations of enemy tactics and then use those expectations against them, just as intelligent enemy officers would do in the same situation.
In with all the alternate history verisimilitude are accurate weapon descriptions detailing period American and German firearms, grenades, and antitank weaponry. If youíre a gun buff, these are prime goods, but my eyes tend to glaze over when I see long strings of numbers and letters. However, in the future, when my character needs to ask a quartermaster for more pistol rounds, Iíll know exactly what to say (as opposed to my usual "gimme bullets").
At the end of the TOC Bulletin is a "confidential" intel report on a devious German base--complete with tactics and schematics your GM can use to blissfully turn you mission into Operation FUBAR--and a section that expands the descriptions of a few important skills left vague in the original Godlike rules. These descriptions, along with a standard TOG skill package and a list of standard equipment, let players and GMs know in concrete game terms what every TOG-trained soldier should carry and be able to do. The TOC Bulletin also provides a TOG character sheet with extra space for weapons and ammo.
All in all, the TOC Bulletin is an excellent companion to any Godlike game involving American and German Talents. However, itís important to note that if youíre looking for info on any other Talent organizations, you wonít find it here. Thirty-two pages arenít enough to cover the tactics of Japanese Talents or the standard firearms of the British military. Also, while the sections giving advice from veteran soldiers was fairly cool and appropriate to the period, it felt a little random and disorganized at times. But these are minor complaints for what is a fairly cool little book. Pick it up if you want to ground your Godlike character or campaign in good old-fashioned fictional authenticity, or if you just want something to take out of your rucksack and read while the shells explode around your foxhole.