Engine Heart Core Rules Updated

I am a Fan of engine heart. I've done several writeups of the original 2010 PDF, the Lghts and Power booklette, and the scenario booklettes that got created because of the kickstarter. Now the revised core rules are available for download and I have to say Viral Games did awesome here.

'Wait a minute', someone might go on saying, 'there was a big huge kickstarter for this not too long ago to put copies onto store shelves. Why is Viral allowing people to just download the game all willy nilly?' Wouldn't that undermine any sort of sellability of the hard copies? Yes and No. Yes it could in theory hurt sales since 'Haha I have the rulebook already why should I pay some ruddy little shop for a paperback of the same?' However people pirate these sorts of things constantly. SciFi and RPG books are some of the most heavily copied/pirated print material around this side of college textbooks.

Viral's solution is elegant in it's simplicity: Slap a Creative Commons license on the thing. There you go. No more piracy! No, really I"m not joking. It's put under a Creative Commons Attribute/Non-commercial license. There's a watermark on the table of contents and everything.

But won't that hurt sales?

See also 'people will download these things anyway.' I'm sure Viral's mindset goes something like this: 'I am a writer of an obscure Thing and i want to raise awareness of this so that I can gather a larger fanbase. The best way to do this would be to let people who already like my work to distribute it to their friends, friends of friends, random people on the internet, and so on. These people can then buy print copies once I get everything sorted out.' It's worked for Cory Doctorow and a bunch of other far less known authors. So Why Not?

Right then that out of the way. What's changed between 2010 and now?

First off there's new artwork scattered throughout ranging from new cover and beginning of chapter prettiness to helpful images for each Feature/Defect, size guide help (Soda can at the smallest to refrigerator at the largest,) along with other bits and pieces scattered around to make things visually interesting. Yet even with all the new artwork it's still easy to get around. It's not overly fancy or busy which is great because what I liked about the 2010 PDF was how easy it was to navigate.

The Rules are the same. If you've still got the 2010 PDF and don't want to switch over no worries! There is only one feature that's changed between then and now and that was to make it a 'you have it or don't' instead of having to buy levels and that's for the upcoming re-release of Lights and Power. All the rewrites that are scattered through the book make things easier to understand. You get a good feel of what each thing does and, in the case of things thta cause damage (either intentionally or not) you get a nice clear label in the picture itself.

Rewrites arent' confined to the Features/Defects section either. All through the book you get either rewritten text to better explain how each mechanic works (IE Repair taking an hour between check,) and in several cases (such as the 'playing the game' chapter) the text has been specifically arranged and highlighted so you know which sections are different from the rest and can home in on those chunks quickly. Ease of readability is important so you're not stuck flipping through the book and can instead focus on the game itself.

There's all sorts of 'minor but nice to have' sections detailing common things you'll have to roll dice for, expanded explanations on how to write AI's, Source Material you can draw from for feel and style of play.

Keep in mind this is not intended to be a very combat heavy game. You aren't playing warbots (for the most part anyway.) Lots of details like upgrading or what to roll in novel/new situations are left up to the Programmer (GM.) This can be good and bad; Good because this is more about exploring and experiencing new situations as a now sort of-sentient squeegee bot riding on a subway maintenance bot accompanying a robotic detective rather than war machines duking it out in the wastelands of post-human Earth.

It's a free download and as soon as I get a link on where to order print copies from for those not blessed with a game shop that's ordered a stack I'll post that here too. In the meantime it's Free. It's Quirky. the podcasts of games I've listened in on sound hilariously fun. Definitely worth a spin if you like Sci-Fi Robots, and aren't afraid that your game might get silly. Then again it doesn't have to be silly. It can be a soul crushing exploration of a doomed civilization of machines trying badly to soldier on in the face of crumbling infrastructure while each of their preprogrammed objectives make each feel like an obsessive compulsive possibly mentally broken individual that will as soon harm the bots around them as help.

The time of the humans has passed.
All that you were built for is no more.

But you and your kind endure.
Some robots continue with their routines, 
improvising as best as they can.

Others have found new directives.
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