Godlike Review

Wow. I have to say, this is an excellent game in a lot of ways.

Godlike is a roleplaying game set in WWII. You play one of the “Talents”, people who have begun to demonstrate superheroic powers. Beginning in 1936, these Talents emerge in all the nations of the world, just as the world is about to be set ablaze by the second great war.

The game is gritty, which is interesting for a superhero game. The tagline is “You are larger than life. But the war is bigger than you.” That about says it. The premise is that Dennis Detwiller, the creator, didn’t like the way supers were presented as part of society, either worshiped or reviled. He thought – what if people started demonstrating super-powers? Hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of them? How would society really respond?

In Godlike, you get one Talent that defines you in a lot of ways – but that one Talent doesn’t make you unkillable. So what if you can fly? So can fighter planes. So what if you are super-strong? A tank shell will still obliterate you.

The engine that powers this game is Greg Stolze’s one-roll engine. Like the World of Darkness series of games, you roll stat + skill, a pool of d10s, but quite unlike that system, everything is resolved in one roll. You are measuring height and width of the roll, and you are always looking for matching numbers. The height is how high the highest match is, and the width is how many matching dice you have in your pool. So a roll of 1, 2, 4, 5, 5, 5, 7, 9 has a height of 5 and a width of 3. Those two pieces of information, essentially, tell you all you need to know.

Aside from the system, this game really shines as an alternate history. The work is subtle and comes off as pretty plausible given the condition that Talents emerge in the late 30s and early 40s. There is a detailed timeline of the major events of World War II with the addition of the Talents, sometimes entirely in the background and sometimes driving the story. There seems to be enough crunchy detail to even make some WWII-buffs nod with approval – if you want massive lists of various kinds of rifles compared between the major participants in WWII, each with their own slightly distinct rules, you’ve got it. (If, like me, you want to ignore that aspect for various reasons, you can do that too easily) The game remains true to its premise, however, that the war is larger than the Talents.

I want to have a chance to run this game – I’ll definitely make such a change. In the meantime, I’ll finish absorbing it, and I highly recommend you get a copy. 5 out of 5 stars for the setting material, 3 out of 5 stars for the system itself.

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