By Anthony “LibrariaNPC” DeMinico, 02 May 2018
It is no small secret that I am an avid fan of mythology. It’s also no secret that it’s my love of mythology that got me into various franchises, like Fate and Scion. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I dove headfirst into Part-Time Gods 2nd Edition as soon as it was brought to my attention.
While the final version still has some time before release and has a Kickstarter coming up (May 8th, to be exact!), the creator of the game was generous enough to send me an early copy of the Quickstart so I could sink my teeth into it and see what is available in the world of Part-Time Gods.
Disclaimer: This review is for an early access copy of a Quickstart of an unreleased game. There may be changes between the copy reviewed here, the next Quickstart, and the officially finished product. All opinions are made based on the copy on hand. All art utilized with permission of Eloy Lasanta.
Part-Time Gods weaves a tale of humans granted a spark of divinity and all of the perks that go with it…as well as all of the problems. In this game, you create a god, knowing that you need to balance your needs as a human with your expectations as a god, all while saving your city from invisible and encroaching dangers that would snuff out and feed upon your existence.
You are a guardian, a god, and someone who still works a job to keep afloat. Welcome to Part-Time Gods.
==What You Get==
The Quickstart I was given consisted of 24 pages, half of which is designated to sample player characters, two pages for a sample adventure, and one page for the Territory Grid, leaving nine pages to cover rules and setting information.
==How It Works==
The game is rather reminiscent of others, but still is a unique entity in the end. Follow me as I try to break it down.
Mechanically, the game uses a standard d10 pool. You gather a number of d10s, roll them, and any die that comes up as a 7 or higher counts as a success, with a 10 counting as two successes. Anyone who has played World of Darkness or Scion will feel right at home.
That said, putting your dice pool together is a bit different. Instead of having a Stat/Attribute and Skill, you are selecting two different Skills that are related to the task. Are you trying to sneak over a tall wall? That’d be Athletics + Sneak. Are you trying to stay up all night to finish coding a program? That’ll be Fortitude+Tech.
Of course, like most games, there are ways to modify your dice. There are a variable cornucopia of ways to do so, such as by using temporary resources (Wealth, Spare Time, Fragments, Pantheon Dice), using specific powers, or even just being in the right place.
As characters are gods and gifted with the powers of such, they all have various abilities and resources, such as Manifestations (powers), Blessings (bonuses), Curses (penalties that give you resources when acted upon), Truths (things that are True and usually automatically happen), Relics (powerful items), and Connections/Bonds (followers, places, etc). Each of these grant specific benefits…but also specific costs.
Like Scion, the premise for Part-Time Gods has drawn my undivided attention, and I knew I needed this in my life. The sheer idea of being a human and having literal godly powers thrust upon you (and not just a touch like in Scion) makes for fun stories, and Part-Time Gods handles this in not just the setting, but also the mechanics.
One of the biggest perks of Part-Time Gods is how fast it will be the grasp the mechanic. For anyone who’s an old hand of the World of Darkness mechanic, this will come to you with ease, and it is still easy to grasp for a newbie. My history of teaching games usually involves at least one d10 system like WoD, solely because they are easy to teach and easy to use. With a simple mechanic, Part-Time Gods begs to be used at cons and hacked into other projects.
While the core mechanic is simple, the other elements of the game make it rather elegant. There are a number of resources available to players that are represented by physical objects (Wealth, Free Time, and Pantheon Dice), which is a nice touch to make players realize what the resources are and what it means to lose them. These resources also act as a form of checks and balances, and are literally the currency of the game, each having their own ways to modify the game mechanics (like adding extra dice to a roll) and directly impacting the narration (like not having enough Wealth to bribe the guard).
Additionally, a number of the other elements of the game, such as health, injuries, and rather simple +/- dice mods make me feel as though Part-Time Gods does everything I loved about Scion but in a simpler package. If anything, I’m feeling more like this has some of the better elements of Cortex, 2d20, Fate, and World of Darkness wrapped into one.
Like my reasoning for loving Evil Hat, I’m loving the conversations I’ve been having with Eloy on Twitter and elsewhere. I have questions about the game in its current form, and he’s been giving me answers and actual discourse on the topic. That alone is worth points in my book, and I’m hoping that our discussions will make this an even better product.
In all honesty, my biggest gripe is that this is just a Quickstart and I don’t have the final book in my hands (or on a tablet). This is thankfully going to change soon, as the Kickstarter has officially been announced for May 8th!
From here, Part-Time Gods does have a few challenges for certain groups of players based on what we have in the Quickstart.
One thing players may balk at is the sheer number of resources available and how they are all used. Some resources that have physical representations (Pantheon Dice, Free Time, Wealth), but other resources are on the player to track individually on their sheets (Fragments, Health, Stress/Condition of Bonds, etc). While each of these elements blend into the experience and create a form of checks and balances, there are some concerns about tracking how each resource can be used (i.e. how Wealth and Free Time are utilized vs Pantheon Dice and Fragments), and what it costs the player if you don’t have them.
For example, to move to new locations and end a Scene, players must use “Free Time”, but if they do not have Free Time, they are presented with a problem from one of their Bonds (a follower seeks an audience, a place of power is having issues, etc), and must either skip a scene, undergo some type of complication, or pay another price in order to resolve it. It surely adds to narrative, especially with the idea that you are playing a god with a human life, but some players may not enjoy it.
For other types of groups, the theme of Part-Time Gods may be an issue, as it is focused on being in one city. Anyone coming in from traditional World of Darkness, Dresden Files, or Blades in the Dark will be at home with this sort of game, but others will find that the game is lacking due to this focus. While Eloy has assured me that there will be notes to allow for travel, we won’t be seeing American Gods level travel in this game, which may be a downside for some players.
There is one part of Part-Time Gods that I am not entirely sold on just yet, and that’s the Territory Grid.
The Territory Grid is a not-to-scale resource that represents the geographic location that the party resides in. The map has marks to denote landmarks, places of power (which grant bonuses to the PCs in that area), and will represent how much effort it will take to get to various locations (in the shape of Free Time/Wealth resources).
While the idea is interesting, as it adds an abstract way to track the life and events of the city, it felt a little clunky as written in the Quickstart. Eloy was kind enough to send me a section of notes about how it can be used (such as representing a county instead of a city, as well as some live-play examples and generation notes), but I do feel I need to properly see this in action or see the section of the book in its entirety before I can pass proper judgement.
As it stands, it feels like an odd cross of the territory mechanics we see in Blades in the Dark with the Places and Faces we get when city building in The Dresden Files. There’s some great potential here to track movement, activities, plot hooks, and add a sense of investment and scale for the party, but it is an additional resource to track that could be a hassle.
As this is a Quickstart, I cannot pass final judgement, but if you were to ask, I’d be leaning closer to the 4 bun mark.
Part-Time Gods Second Edition has everything I love about stories involving humans gaining godly powers, coming to terms with them, and managing their newfound godhood with their munane, mortal lives. There’s a ton of potential here, and I am anxiously awaiting the launch of the Kickstarter.
If you love games that involve the duality of human and deity, with a focus on storytelling these elements while still being a “Big Damned Hero,” then you should absolutely be looking into Part-Time Gods Second Edition. If this isn’t your bag and the mechanics don’t catch your eye, then you may want to move along.
Part-Time Gods is created by Eloy Lasanta and published by Third Eye Games. Information and links to purchase the first edition is available on the Third Eye Games website, you can check out the Quickstart here, and the Kickstarter will go live on May 8th.