||The Algernon Files for HERO
A massive collection of superheroes, villains and more, The Algernon Files is available both for Mutants and Masterminds and HERO, in both a print version and PDF format. The following review was written based on the HERO system PDF.
The Algernon Files 2.0 for HERO system PDF version is attractive and well organized. The art of Derrick Thomas, Ryan Wolfe and Eric Rademaker follows a simple, attractive comic book style appropriate to the characters and locations described in the text. I?d be comfortable using this art to introduce characters to my players. Dave Mattingly?s layout-fu is strong, and the blend of text blocks, graphics and game mechanics is accessible and easy on the eyes. The PDF version is easy to navigate both via bookmarks and links from the table of contents.
This is where the book really shines. Useful both as a supplement for an existing campaign or as an internally consistent campaign world, The Algernon Files offers allies, enemies, vehicles, bases, maps, and a timeline that?s both entertaining and a good source of adventure seeds. I?d really like to see more products like this compatible with HERO.
The Algernon Files setting history is mostly built into the character backgrounds themselves. This is a real plus as you read through the characters and see the connections. The approach reminded me of the classic Enemies books. A timeline in Appendix I helps flesh things out further. It?s no problem to take individual characters or teams and fit them into a campaign that doesn?t make use of this setting, but the setting is a solid Comic Book homage world and makes for an entertaining read.
With a few exceptions, the character write ups consist of a single page giving character art and a short character summary (including suggestions on what is publicly known about the character) while a second page offers up the mechanics. It?s an impressively clean character sheet design. Sheets for bases and vehicles follow the same pattern.
The book opens with an Allies section laying out four Superhero teams and six independent heroes. Playing spot the homage was entertaining, and even more so as those same characters went through twists and turns over the course of their careers.
Teams include the Sentinels (a Justice League / Avengers class team), the Aerie (a moderately powerful bird themed team that reminded me among other things of the extended Batman family), the Arsenal (a super-patriot theme team), and the Covenant (a mystic theme team reminiscent of the Defenders). The teams make for solid potential allies, mentors or rivals for player characters, or as hand outs for use in one shots or convention games. They also make pretty handy models for how to build higher point total player characters in HERO without obsessing over combat efficiency or losing sight of what makes a given character unique.
Team vehicles, computers and bases are also presented, along with art and maps. The write ups, art and maps are again well done, and should be easy to re-use in an ongoing campaign.
The Enemies section was what I was mainly interested in when I first heard of this book, and I wasn?t disappointed. Four villain groups are introduced along with twenty-four independent villains, including vehicles, bases and followers. It?s a great mix and covers a fair range of power levels and challenge types, from morally grey mercenaries, rebels and misguided crusaders to inter-dimensional tricksters and cosmic threats. Once again the homage characters fly fast and furious. All in all this section offers a very solid collection of scum and villainy.
Villain groups include the Black Knights (super mercenaries with a base that could serve as a fixture in many games), the Hell?s Bells (themed Super Rock Band that could come into play as neutrals, anti-heroes or anarchist villains), the Prometheans (a ?family? of villains able to fill multiple campaign niches), and the Sinister Circle (a diverse villain team reminiscent of groups like the Injustice League and other collections of super-villains meant to offer a challenge to large, diverse hero groups). The massive collection of independents could easily be mined to form additional villain teams or flesh out teams already existing in a campaign. Many of the independents are more than able to challenge entire teams on their own. Again, stats, maps and art are provided for multiple vehicles and bases.
The Algernon Files for Hero closes with three Appendixes. Appendixes I (Timeline) and II (War in the Heavens) cover the setting in more depth, while Appendix III (The Speed Chart) offers a combination quick reference speed chart and index of characters.
Overall I was very pleased with this book. Offering Super heroes, villains, bases, vehicles, equipment, and a setting easy to include or ignore, The Algernon Files for HERO makes for a great addition to any Superhero RPG fan?s library.
LIKED: Character back stories, art, layout.
DISLIKED: Some of the mechanics were odd or incorrect.
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[5 of 5 Stars!]