Two days ago I mentioned Humble Bundle as a source of reading matter and games on the cheap – and just today I squandered 1 buck for one of their latest offers.
The current bundle (that will remain available for another 12 days) is a treasure trove of roleplaying games based on popular narrative franchises: George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, Charles Stross’ Laundry universe (Cthulhu and espionage – what could be better), Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Universe, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and yes, the true reason why I spent that buck… Clevinger & Wegener’s Atomic Robo.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love both the Stross and the Sanderson novels, and while I never got into the Dresden Files a lot, I appreciate that universe too.
But Atomic Robo… ah!
For the uninitiated (let’s quote Wikipedia)
Atomic Robo is an American comic book series depicting the adventures of the eponymous character, a self-aware robot built by a fictional version of Nikola Tesla.
And it’s just a lot of fun.
Clevinger & Wegener did with Atomic Robo what Mike Mignola did with Hellboy.
And what Hellboy does to supernatural horror and weird fiction, Atomic Robo does to pulp science fiction and conspiracy.
Great stories, with the right mix of atmosphere, humor and silliness – and yet solid storytelling and great pulp thrills.
Activated in 1923, Atomic Robo runs through the history of the 20th century basically smashing villains such as Dr Dinosaur, Baron Heinrich Von Helsingard, Otto Skorzeny and yes, of course, Thomas Edison.
The Odic energy ghost of Thomas Edison.
And among the heroes siding with Atomic Robo in his war against evil and the misuse of science there is also Carl Sagan.
The Atomic Robo storylines are wonderful and varied – even if there is a lot of ass-kicking and jumping off airplanes for science.
The art is great, the writing too.
And the roleplaying game, powered by the Fate core system, does actually allow us to emulate the adventures of Robo and his Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne.
And yes, my team will love it, but it’s even better than that, because this is the sort of handbook that is fun to read. It has the cheeky, over-the-top tone of the old magazines that are part of the inspiration for the character, and it’s absolutely filled with ideas, silly details, insights and explosives.
I am not a huge fan of the Fate system (notoriously I nailed my flag to the mast of Savage Worlds), but I am not system-obsessed myself. This game works – from what I have been able to see – and it promises many delightful hours of intrigue and derring-do.
Atomic robots, dinosaurs, nazis, Tesla… what could possibly go wrong?