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E.N. Mini-Games - Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics $3.95 $1.98
Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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E.N. Mini-Games - Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics
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E.N. Mini-Games - Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2005 00:00:00
A very nice mini-game, customizing the d20 Modern ruleset for "gun fu" games in the style of John Woo. It is nice to see a designer who isn't afraid to muck about with the core rules in order to pull something specific to a particular genre out of the morass of rules. I especially liked the integration of the Damage Save mechanic into the rules, this really goes a long way towards creating the cinematic feel that is important to these types of movies.


LIKED: A very "innovative" product that wasn't afraid to change things to get to the design goal of genre emulation. I put innovative in quotes only because the material involved isn't new, but it is taken from a number of sources and put together into a new whole.

DISLIKED: My only real disappointment is that this isn't longer. I would really like to see the concepts from this book developed into something bigger with more campaigning information included.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
E.N. Mini-Games - Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Steven T. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/28/2005 00:00:00
Sometimes you?re in the mood for a game full of detail - a game where you have to track every round of ammunition, every hit point, and every five foot step.
Then there are times when all you want from your game is action. You want to kick in the door, grab the bad guy by the throat and enjoy some good old-fashioned butt-kicking action.
Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics is that second kind of game

Let?s start with some basic definitions. Gun-Fu is a d20 system mini-game. It?s not quite a stand alone game, and not quite a setting book. It?s not really a campaign book, because you?d be hard-pressed to run a campaign in this genre. But enough of what it isn?t, let?s look at what it is.

Basically, Gun-Fu is a tightly written, simple set of rules and conventions for playing short, highly charged games that mimic the Hong-Kong action films of John Woo and others like him. If you?ve ever watched the Killer, or Hard-Boiled, and wanted to have explosive stunts and dynamic gun battles like that in your games, then Gun-Fu delivers. These movies are frenetic, intense, and never stop moving. It?s fitting then Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics supplies an extremely easy to use rules-set to mimic that style.

When I say that the rules are easy to use, don?t assume that this is a rules-light or newbie friendly system. While at its core, Gun-Fu uses the basic d20 Modern rules system, the rules have been pretty vigorously massaged and tweaked. Using Gun-Fu effectively will require a decent understanding of the d20 system. It?s kind of like that old saying ?You have to know the rules before you can break them.? Let me explain what I mean as we look at some specific examples from Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics.

After the cover, and a short introduction page, we get right into the heart of any RPG ? character creation. It?s here that we first see how flexible and powerful the Gun-Fu mini-game is. Rather than the tightly defined classes of D&D, or even the more loosely defined hero-types of d20 Modern, Gun-Fu offers only two character classes ? Aggressive and Defensive.
But you won?t find any massive class tables here. Instead, players can modify their class to suit their style of play. The two classes are very similar, differing only in how many ?good? and ?bad? saves they get. Of course, since the players can freely assign their saves as they wish, no two characters are likely to be built in exactly the same manner.
Class skills are fully customizable by the player, and both classes have the same number of skill points.
This is smart design. For a mini-game like this, detailed class skill lists are much less important than in a long-term campaign-style game. However, it can be a little daunting if you aren?t very familiar with the standard d20 Modern rules.

The Feat list has also been pruned from d20 Modern. Again, this makes perfect sense for a game that is much more about high-energy gun battles than about generic ?adventuring? Several feats have also been retooled to work better in the Gun-Fu mini-game. Notably, the Cleave family can now be used with ranged weapons. It?s a small change, but it adds a lot to the flavor of this mini-game without being broken or abusive.

The three biggest changes from the ?standard? d20 Modern rules are Panache, Flaws, and the Damage Save.
Panache points are very similar to Action Points. However, they are determined differently (total of all ability modifiers + level), and they provide many more options. Not only does a Panache Point do everything an Action Point does, it can also perform such amazing tricks as: causing an enemy to run out of ammunition, negate a hit, improve your defense by 5, immediately recover from stunning, escape death via stabilization, or even get a burst of inspiration from the GM.
A Panache Point can also be used to temporarily suppress a Flaw. This is handy, since every Gun-Fu character possesses a Flaw. Flaws are negative traits and conditions that can control a character who fails a Panache check. Flaws are defined by riggers and Effects. When a PC encounters the Trigger for his flaw, he must roll 1d20 + current Panache against a DC of 15. Should he fail this test, the effect of his Flaw kicks in.
And hoo-boy can these flaws be doozies! Suggested Triggers include things like holding a gun, loud noises, or witnessing a death ? these are all going to be VERY common occurrences in a Gun-Fu game! The effects are equally severe. Possible effects include blindness, nausea, or even unconsciousness.
Thematically, these Flaws fit the genre perfectly. Plenty of characters in the films of John Woo had some sort of odd quirk that kicked in at inopportune times leaving them in some way impaired. Mechanically, the Flaw system reminds of the Limit Break system seen in White Wolf?s Exalted game. (Which strangely enough also mimics Asian cinema!)
The biggest change in the rules comes in Gun-Fu?s use of the Damage Save mechanic. This is the same system used in Green Ronin?s Mutants & Masterminds, and Blue Rose games, but toned down a little to account for he lower power levels of Gun-Fu PC?s. It?s a clever system that fits the Gun-Fu genre to a ?T?. Instead of hit points, or even a wound/vitality system, Gun-Fu PC?s can take bullet after bullet and not stop fighting until they miss that final damage save and go down.
This is the perfect mechanic to model the genre?s blood-soaked heroes. Whether you?re playing ?Mickey Mouse? getting peppered by crime lords, or even a ?Die Hard? style of play, the damage save gives players the freedom to engage in over the top violence without the fear of sudden death the a hit point system would impose.

After a brief explanation of weapons in the game, and how their standard stats need modified to account for a hit-pointless system, Corey Reid finally gives some tips for how to use this mini-game. This section is a little short for my taste, but it does give GM?s and players a basic idea of what kinds of stores work best with the Gun-Fu mini-game. Personally, I?d have a liked a little more detail here, but I suppose that all the detail you could ever need is readily available at the local video store. A nice looking two page character sheet is also included, and the file closes with the obligatory OGL notice.

This is in no way shape or form a game for the meek. The subject matter is bloody and mature, and mastering the alternate, freestyle rules used requires a fair degree of advanced d20 comprehension. However, if you are up to the challenge, Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics delivers the perfect mini-game to handle a ?Woo-esque? style of modern RPG. This isn?t a game about super-powered heroes righting wrongs and winning treasure. This is a fast-paced train-wreck where PC?s wage war with a hail of bullets, and a steely glint in their eye. This is balls-to-the-wall freestyle roleplaying. There?s no map, no miniatures, and no remorse. I love it, and if you are a John Woo fan, you will too.
If you?re looking for tactical combat, where every move is plotted out, and each attack analyzed for maximum effect, look somewhere else for fun. But if you want to kick butt and take names, then Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics is going to be right up your alley.

LIKED: This game perfectly captures the genre it covers. It's action-packed, and can exactly model a very tricky gaming style. The simplicity of the rules system keeps things moving.

DISLIKED: If you're not familiar with the films of John Woo, or the Wuxia genre, you're going to be lost here. I would have liked a little more fluff to help GM's that aren't as familiar with the source material.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
E.N. Mini-Games - Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Chris U. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/20/2005 00:00:00
This is a great mini-game for one shot, or even short 1-6 session campaigns.

LIKED: Easy to get up and running, fun and free form.

DISLIKED: Some stats for melee weapons would have been useful.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
E.N. Mini-Games - Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics
Publisher: EN Publishing
by jeramy w. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/12/2005 00:00:00
This review originally appeared on ENWorld.

Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics
By Corey Read.
Featuring Artwork by James Jarvis
E.N. Publishing- E.N. Mini Games
14 page PDF, $3.95

This is not a play-test review.

Gun-Fu is the first of EN Publishing?s new line of mini-games, and they started off with a bang. At first glance one wonders what kind of valuable content can be packed into 14 pages, but as fans of Polyhedron?s much-missed foray into the genre can attest, a good writer can pack a lot of gaming goodness into a small package.


Presentation & Readability
This product is written in a simple, conversational tone that may put off some readers, as it gives the impression that the game designer is speaking to you; rather than the dry recitation of the rules that one comes to expect from major publishing houses. Which of course, he is. This however, is not a bad thing, as it is more akin to an excited parent introducing you to a favored child. The writer is walking you through his work, and explaining it to you in a manner fitting to the genre.

There are typos, but they are few and mostly minor. One of particular interest, however, is critical. In the section describing Damage Saves the DC is listed as two different values, and the correct one (DC 10 + Damage) is different than those who are familiar with this system would expect (Mutants and Masterminds, whose system this is based on uses the DC 15 + Damage noted on the table).

As for artwork, let me first say that I?m not a visual person, though I will agree that appropriate art certainly makes a product more appealing. That said, the artwork herein is simple, but fitting to the subject matter. It depicts a lot of action, but without much detail. All in all, no one is going to buy this product because of the art, but it in no way detracts from the experience.


Setting
Gun-Fu makes no attempt to present a setting of any kind, but of course that is not the intent of this product. A brief section at the end describes potential adventure hooks, and does a good job of showing GMs what kind of adventures the game is suited for. A recommended viewing list might have been nice in place of actual setting material, but in reality, people who would be interested in purchasing this product probably already have a pretty good idea of what to expect.


System
This product is all about providing a game system for playing in a wuxia/gun-fu world, and here is where it really delivers. Much like the Call of Cthulu d20 game, characters are members of one of two classes, one geared toward offensive play, and one geared toward defensive play. This works well in a world governed by violence, and a system that focuses primarily on combat. Skills and Feats are modified in minor ways from their d20 Modern counterparts, but all in all this part of the system will feel natural to d20 players.

The real value here comes from three unique system elements: Panache, Flaws, and the Damage Save. For those who are familiar with the Damage Save made famous by Green Ronin?s Mutants & Masterminds and Blue Rose games, this will be very familiar. For those who are unfamiliar with this system, quit reading this review and go buy this PDF. If nothing else, this product is a great introduction to this extraordinary damage resolution system, and few other systems could fit this genre so well.

Panache works similar to Action Points, but are much more versatile, and the unique methods for acquiring more points really encourages characters to play it to the hilt.

The only real blemish in the system, for me at any rate, comes in the form of Flaws. Though a genre staple, the rules here seem to breakdown badly. Even though players are given the option of choosing their own Flaws and determining what effects they have on their characters, there are few options here that anyone would likely choose. Who would play a character that passes out whenever he is forced to pick up a gun, or who goes blind whenever he sees a police officer? Certainly choices like becoming enraged when a witness is murdered are reasonable, but the majority of the choices here are not.


Innovation
Though the Damage Save featured in this product is hardly new, it is underutilized in the industry, and it certainly fits the feel this product was attempting to create. Likewise, its classes, skills, and feats are adapted from other products. Though it does not cover a lot of new ground, it certainly makes good use of a great many of the best features of other games, adapting them well to its needs, and putting them together to create an interesting amalgam.


Value
At less than $4.00 the price tag on this product is low, but 14 pages is an awfully small product, and those who are unfamiliar with these kinds of online PDFs might be shocked that it?s over so soon. More likely, however, they?ll be wishing for more. The author has done a good job here packing a lot of punch in a few words.

Still, the font is large, there is a lot of blank space, and the product contains a two-page character sheet as well as the expected cover pages and OGL notice. In short, the page-count is somewhat artificially inflated with wasted space.

This book is a good value, but this is a testament to the quality of the product rather than the quantity of material provided.


Support/Expansion
The product gives no indication of future expansions, nor does it direct you to any website or other source for support. In effect, at this point at least, this is a stand-alone product.


Final Thoughts
This product is what it is, a small, low-cost product that sets out to do one very specific thing: To allow players to sit down for a night of Hong Kong style action. It accomplishes this in spades.

I gave this product a four star rating, but only reluctantly. Though it isn?t quite five star quality, but it?s definitely worth better than just a four. Let?s call it a 4.5 and split the difference.

If you are interested in the genre and you enjoy the d20 Modern or Call of Cthulu d20 systems, buy this book. If you are unfamiliar with the Damage Save, buy this book. If you are just looking for a system to mine for use in another game, buy this book. There is a little something here for everyone.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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