Quick-starts are means of trying out a roleplaying game before you buy. Each should provide a Game Master with sufficient background to introduce and explain the setting to her players, the rules to run the scenario included, and a set of ready-to-play, pre-generated characters that the players can pick up and understand almost as soon as they have sat down to play. The scenario itself should provide an introduction to the setting for the players as well as to the type of adventures that their characters will have and just an idea of some of the things their characters will be doing on said adventures. All of which should be packaged up in an easy-to-understand booklet whose contents, with a minimum of preparation upon the part of the Game Master, can be brought to the table and run for her gaming group in a single evening’s session—or perhaps too. And at the end of it, Game Master and players alike should ideally know whether they want to play the game again, perhaps purchasing another adventure or even the full rules for the roleplaying game.
Alternatively, if the Game Master already has the full rules for the roleplaying game for the quick-start is for, then what it provides is a sample scenario that she still run as an introduction or even as part of her campaign for the roleplaying game. The ideal quick-start should entice and intrigue a playing group, but above all effectively introduce and teach the roleplaying game, as well as showcase both rules and setting.
How long will it take to play?
SINS: Dead City is playable in between three and five hours, so can be played through in a single session.
Who do you play?
Five Player Characters are included. These consist of a group of friends who all live in New York city. The five are a firefighter (oddly listed as an ex-football player), a young bartender with a criminal past, a junior police officer, a graphic designer with a criminal past, and a student at medical school.
How is a Player Character defined?
The Player Character has six attributes. These are Body, Conviction, Cunning, Passion, Reason, and Prowess. Each is rated between one and six. He also has points in sixteen skills divided in three categories—Natural, Learnt, and Combat. Skills are broad in nature, for example, Athletics, Knowledge, Marksmanship, and Melee. These are rated between one and six and no Player Character has a rating higher than three. With a skill rating of one, the Target Number is six, and then five or six for a skill rating of two, four, five, or six for a skill rating of three, and three, four, five, or six for a skill rating of four. A Player Character also has a Fate point, although this is never used in the quick-start, and some Drama Points.
How do the mechanics work?
Combat uses the same mechanics as the HOPE Engine. Awareness is used for an initiative roll and when an opponent attacks or acts against another, the defender is tagged and can act. When targeted by either a Close or Ranged attack, the defender can Evade. Any Successes generated will counter those generated by the attacker’s roll. Damage, which is calculated as the base damage of the weapon plus any Success, reduces a Player Character’s Vitality, first Light, then Wounded, and lastly Mauled. When the Player Character’s Vitality is at the Wounded or Mauled level, he suffers a penalty to all dice pools until healed.
Although SINS and SINS: Dead City both initially look like a ‘zombie apocalypse’ and its aftermath setting, but that is very much not the case and the SINS: Dead Sins makes this explicitly clear. However, there is nothing to stope the players and their characters from believing this until the scenario reveals otherwise. They are presented with a minimum of details.
What do you play?
SINS: Dead City could have done with a map of the various locations in the scenario. However, they are fairly generic and the Game Master should be able to find suitable floorplans.
The rules are easy to grasp, but the scenario needs careful study. The ‘plug and play’ aspect of the seven scenarios (or scenes) makes the whole scenario easier to organise, but the individual scenes are fairly detailed and require preparation.
Is it worth it?
SINS: Dead City is a prequel to SINS, which means that it does not present the world described in the SINS core rulebook. Technically, this means that in parts, SINS: Dead City is not a quick-start for the roleplaying game except in a mechanical sense as it shows off the rules. However, SINS: Dead City is not a poor prequel, preparing as it does the players and their characters for the Post Apocalyptic world of SINS.
Where can you get it?
The SINS: Dead City is available here.