By Anthony “LibrariaNPC” DeMinico, 26 May 2021
Like the material that inspires them, comic-inspired games can either be amazing or a convoluted mess. It’s the nature of super-powered shenanigans, and it takes a balancing act to get the right feel for the game.
Seeing the Kickstarter for Agents of BAMF, I had a knee-jerk reaction and backed it. There was just something about the combination of a punny title and references to amazing source material I just couldn’t resist.
Now that it’s in hand, it’s time to give it a proper look…
Agents of BAMF pitches the idea of being a group resolving issues when the heroes can’t. Pulling inspiration from groups like BPRD (Hellboy), SHIELD (Marvel comics), and even OSI (Venture Brothers), you play an agent of the Bureau of Abnormalities, Mutations and the Fantastic, taking on organizations of cults, jump-suit donning criminal groups, and interdimensional criminals.
==What You Get==
In PDF form, Agents of BAMF weighs in at 30 pages, including all covers. Approximately half of the book maps out how the game is played and how mechanics work, while the other half consists of pregenerated PCs and a rogue’s gallery of foes to throw at hapless agents.
Mechanically, it’s an OSR-like mechanic with inspirations from The Blackest of Deaths.
If you’ve read my reviews, you know I’m a sucker for art. Looking through this, there are some great character designs and ideas, and the art is reminiscent of indie comics.
For those burned out on OSR, there is some hope: Agents of BAMF provides a number of Quality of Life improvements we’ve seen in modern gaming, including narrative distances (Close, Near, Far, etc), abbreviated spell lists, and alternative rules to Initiative and Armor.
The first glaring issue with Agents of BAMF is the color choice. While I understand the appeal of a stone/steel/weathered background, a dark background with dark text is frustrating to read in the best of times and downright impossible at the worst of times (doubly so if you have sight issues).
From an editor’s perspective, this was a painful read. Random capitalizations, inconsistent details (some characters get a one sentence descriptor, others get one or more paragraphs), missing punctuation, inconsistent punctuation (double periods, Oxford comma then no comma, an overabundance of commas then run-on sentences), missing spaces, franchise name drops without italics (and their placement really detracts from the book), and my personal hatred: Justified Alignment (seriously, why do people love it?). This title, as well as others I’ve recently read (both for fun and review), give me the urge to ask who’s editing a book before I back it…
Finally, even with the tweaks, it’s still “just another OSR.” I balked at the official Hellboy RPG being another d20/D&D based game, and with the history of this style of game for the superhero/comic genre, it doesn’t bring anything worthwhile to the table.
As much as I wanted to like Agents of BAMF, I can’t give it better than 1.5 buns, and I feel that is being generous.
Hampered by layout and writing issues, this potential gem and it’s tongue-in-cheek humor didn’t bring anything new to the comic RPG genre, and instead falls into the same shadow that’s been cast across this style of gaming.
If you want a couple ideas to steal for a heroes game or are a die-hard OSR fan, you should consider picking up Agents of BAMF. Otherwise, I am unable to suggest it.
You can purchase Agents of BAMF via DriveThruRPG for $4.99 as a PDF, or for $4.99+shipping for the PDF and physical book.
Anthony, better known as LibrariaNPC, wears many hats: librarian, gamemaster, playtester, NPC, game designer, and our Editor-In-Chief. You can support his work on Patreon, his tip jar, via Ko-Fi, or by buying his games.