I’m breaking yet another of my very-much-not-long-standing traditions with Day Seven of my 12 Days of Holiday Game Recommendations because I’m going to recommend a game that just came out. Step right up, Sentinels Comics RPG Starter!

“But, James,” protests some voice that definitely isn’t just in my head, “everyone knows about the Sentinels of the Mulitiverse card game. It’s a best-seller everywhere!” While that’s absolutely true, the followup Sentinels Tactics board game didn’t share nearly the same success after its Kickstarter. (Which is a shame because it’s a great game but we’re not talking about it right now focus James!) So please loan me a few moments of your time, and let me tell you about the Sentinels Comics RPG Starter.

(And for my own sake, I’m going to talk about the RPG Starter without referencing Sentinels of the Multiverse. For my fellow Sentinels fans, just know that this story takes place after the OblivAeon Event.)

The Sentinels Comics RPG Starter takes place on an Earth that is being rebuilt following a global disaster, one that could have been total extinction event had it not been for the world’s superheroes. Up to six players will step into the spandex of the most famous superhero team, the Freedom Five (plus their former intern), while one takes on the traditional GM roll. Over the course of six adventure booklets, the players will lead the Freedom Five through a series of events that will set the state of the world for the full release of the Sentinels Comics RPG.

The Sentinels Comics RPG is a world of brightly colored superhero shenanigans. The closest “real world” parallel I can think of is the old DC Animated Universe. While the tone of those shows varied from the gloom of Gotham, the urban utopia of Metropolis, the fantasy of Atlantis and Olympus, and even the blighted hellscape of Apokolips, there was always a positivity and optimism over the stories. So too is the world of Sentinels comics. There will be highs and lows, emotional stakes, and the threat of death, but the players are Capitol H Heroes.

The mechanics of the game reflect this by supporting a play style that’s more about storytelling than number crunching. At the system’s core is a unique mechanic that uses three dice, ranging from d4s to d12s. When a player wants to accomplish something, they pick a die associated with one of their character’s powers, a die associated with one of their character’s qualities, and a status die. The three dice are rolled, and usually, the middle result is used. (Individual abilities will often modify which die is used, but will always be three dice for the PCs.) This could be an attack, or it could be…

– An OVERCOME action to remove an obstacle, or narrative danger. (Tachyon the speedster using her scientific knowledge and inhuman quickness to override the guidance system of multiple missiles.)
– A BOOST or HINDER to modify someone else’s roll, be it a player or the GM. (The ninja-like Wraith using her gadgets and stealth to lay down a series of smoke bombs.)
– A DEFEND action for when the player wants to focus exclusively on protecting more than just their hero. (The cold-based Absolute Zero creating a wall of ice to shield his team from an incoming gout of flame.)

The emphasis on action type and broadly defined powers and skills gives players a feel of narrative influence, while still allowing for the dice to dictate a degree of randomness beyond the outcomes of success or failure. Additionally, the initiative system is completely under the player’s control! After a character gets an action, that player decides who will go next, even if it’s the GM’s villains. This streamlines in-game conflicts, by focusing on teamwork, and doing away the need for prepaid or held actions.

To a veteran RPG enthusiast, I would say that the Sentinels Comics RPG Starter is much more freeform than D&D or Pathfinder, much less straightforward than Savage Worlds, but not nearly as open-ended as FATE. It shares a designer with the Marvel RPG published by Margaret Wies Productions, and probably is most likely that game more than any other.

A final note in case you’re wary of starter products or prepackaged adventures because you don’t like linear stories. Of the six story booklets, only the first two and the final one have to be done in order. The first serves as an introduction to the heroes and the setting, while the second sets up the state of the world and the story. The next three are up to the players; how they arrive to the final showdown (and in what shape things are in at that point!) is up to them.

Bottom line, if you’re an RPG fan of any sort, get the Sentinels Comics Starter. Better yet, buy it from a Friendly Local Game Store that’s part of Bits and Mortar. You’ll get all the PDF of the whole bundle for free if you do!

The Sentinels Comics RPG is by Greater Than Games.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.