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The (not so) Amazing Engine

Ante

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I've seen multiple times that people seems to feel the old Amazing Engine is a not so good system, and terribly presented to boot.

I can agree that the idea of generating stats, reducing them to dice to once again randomize stats is a crappy way to do a generic system. But, apart from that?

I am a terrible rpg reader for finding problems with a text, as I read the *intention* of the system, as I'm the mental mode of trying to understand the intent when I read rpg books. It's like my critical eye is blind...

So, what are the presentation problem with the Amazing Engine anyway? (I'm thinking of playing Bughunters, and think the raw system looks quite ok)
 

Scurrilous

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Well, once you get past the wonky character creation system it's not bad. It's just a percentile system with a damage rule that allows you to scale lethality to fit the campaign. They did some great settings. Bughunters doesn't get enough love. You're replicants from Bladerunner fighting aliens, predators, and terminators while facing the realities of a corrupt government that sees you as an expendable resource. Faerie Queen and Country is the other real standout setting. Victorian England with Faerie right next door. Tabloid, Magitech, the King Arthur in space one. I've often wondered at TSR's decision to do a game that's clearly aimed at Chaosium system and product model. The other odd thing was a low budget format, cramped production values, and high price tag.
 

Soylent Green

Polar Blues
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I pretty much agree with what Scurrilous said. The settings are fun and convcise, the rules, ignoring the "character core" thing, were servicable, the overall production vaules were kind of poor. I suspect there isn't really a market for another generic game with a range of whacky settings, but it wouldn't take much to make it a good game and given how many other old, long forgotten (often for a reason) games have been re-released I am almost surprised Amazing Engine has resurfaced.
 

Jackleg

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I have owned two of the sourcebooks, Khromosone(bio-punk) and Bughunters. These are great books for running a long term campaign.

The Amazing Engine system is a very bland read. Imho, it is like reading instructions for a vaccum cleaner. Very dry and easily forgettable. I once tried to do an internet search for AE, to see if there were some fans of it and came up with nothing. The closest was a right up of Bughunters campaign, but I cannot remember what system they used. Maybe Alternity?

My suggestion is to get whatever setting book you like and adapt it to your favorite rpg system. Nearly everything is better than AE.
 

JohnBiles

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The setting books all have cool ideas, whether it's something pretty new (being tabloid reporters) or interesting riffs on other things, like King Arthur in Space or Victorian adventures with the fae. Or *bio*punk.

The core system... is okay but nothing special.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
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It's been a really long time, but my memory is that:

1. Char-gen was really weak. It wants you to make these templates so that you can remake the same core over and over in different settings, which is a kind of neat idea. But I remember it being pretty clunky to actually do. It just felt like an uphill battle.

2. The rest of the system was basically functional but completely uninspired. Like, it works. You roll dice and stuff happens. But it's shockingly generic. You know how you might say, "I play system X because it does Y and Z really well, and I like that"? Well, the system doesn't really have a Y or Z. It's just kind of there.

In case that came across as really negative, I did actually enjoy playing it way back when. Mostly because the settings are fun and I was hanging out with my friends. If you're willing to just accept the premise and kind of go, it can be a good time.
 

ruckusmanager

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It's biggest problem, if I remember correctly, was that it was just about the first thing TSR released after Magic: The Gathering hit it big. A lot of gamers were expecting some kind of flashy response to this new upstart, and this system was just bland, bland, bland. "You can use your experience from this game to improve your character in another game!" wasn't really something everyone was clambering for.

Which, as everyone has commented already, was a shame because a lot of the settings had pretty interesting takes on familiar ideas. Bughunters is like Aliens but against the backdrop of leftovers from an ancient alien war. For Faerie, Queen and Country is like Sherlock Holmes, only with magic. Galactos Barrier is like Star Wars with a very unique and interesting take on the force. Khromosome is Cyberpunk with more bio-engineering thrown in (now called bio-punk but it actually predates that term). Magitech is basically D&D set in modern times. Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega is a version of Metamorphosis Alpha (the precursor to Gamma World). Once and Future King is like Camelot 3000 except with some interesting background material. Finally, Tabloid is like the Weekly World News if it were real.

I would easily give Bughunters a try (that one needs the core book as well I think).
 

DarkMoc

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Perhaps it's unique to Once and Future King (the only AE game I currently own), but actual character builds feel a bit restrictive. Knights can't be human, technologers can't be clones, and acolytes can't be androids. There's a bit of hard niche protection - knights can't learn medical, item creation, or repair skills, technologers effectively have -20 in combat because they can't learn any subskills, acolytes can't learn technical skills (and need GM approval to learn combat skills), and courtiers can't learn combat, sciences, or healing.

The skill tree and subskills end up feeling punitive rather than enhancing a character; if you want to be able to fight with a sword on foot, you need three skills (Armed Combat, On Foot, Sword) to avoid having penalties. Using that same sword on a horse? You need two more skills (From Horseback, Sword) to make that change. If subskills gave bonuses instead of mitigating penalties*, it would feel very different psychologically, particularly since skills aren't that common at the start - the sample knight character only gets 9 starting skills (6 from physical stats, 2 from learning, 1 from intuition), and being competent in using a lance from horseback requires at least 5 (Robohorse or Hoversteed, Riding, Armed Combat, From Horseback, Lance), with a sixth skill needed if you want to use it against another knight (Tilting). That's 2/3 of their total skill selections to be competent at one thing.

It's not bad, but it doesn't seem like it does anything particularly well. The character core concept is interesting, but the game doesn't really do anything with it. It's purely a mechanic with no apparent ties to fluff. The setting is more interesting than the mechanics.

*yes, there are enhancements, but OaFK doesn't have any.
 

Ante

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Having the subskills give bonuses instead of mitigating penalties is actually quite a neat house rule!
 

Ante

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Thanks everyone for their input. I've gotten almost the same impression, that it is a serviceable system but a bit bland. I did find some old mentions of the system on the forums that complained quite loudly about how bad it was, and I can't frankly see it as that bad. But, a bit bland, yes.
 
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