RPG Review – Base Raiders

baseraidersI am not sure what it is, but I’ve never been a huge fan of superhero RPGs. For one thing, the really successful ones are always based on a franchise, and I don’t want to play as Wolverine, I want to make my own guy. There was that one White Wolf did, and that was essentially an original game, but it still didn’t really grab me. I guess in the end, a supers game tends to boil down to a slugfest, and that gets old in a hurry (not to mention the fact that I don’t want to play as anybody who has to wear neon Spanx to work).

But some dude went to a lot of trouble to do away with the two biggest problems I have with supers RPGs. Base Raiders is all about getting superpowers and then punching people in their pearly whites, but there’s a twist – it’s a dungeon crawler. That uses FATE.

See, what happened was, the world had a bunch of superheroes and then they all up and disappeared. Just POOF went away. You know those bumpers stickers that say, ‘In Case of Rapture, This Car Will Be Empty’? Well, that’s what all those super-dudes were driving that day. They all had secret bases, like the Bat Cave or the Fortress of Solitude, and now all you have to do if you want superpowers is find one of their secret hideouts and swipe their crap. They’re gone. They won’t miss it.

The catch, of course, is that the supers didn’t exactly leave directions to their house. I mean, if you could have a one-night stand with Catwoman, would you really want her to follow you home? No. You don’t. You want to leave her a fake number and then run like hell because seriously, she’s Catwoman. She’s unstable.

Base Raiders supplies all the tools you need to give up your comfortable life as a corporate nimrod and gain miraculous new abilities. All you have to do is find Doctor Wacky’s underground lair, disarm his magical defenses and read through his library of ancient Atlantean manuscripts, and you could gain the supernatural ability to pee radioactive Kool-Aid. You may not want that ability, but there are no return policies. Sorry.

The first quarter of the Base Raiders book is all background material, telling us about the world before the big vanishing act, the alien races present on the planet, the corporations and criminal masterminds who plot to seize all the superpowers for themselves, and a whole hell of a lot of other stuff that took me months to read because I would always start right before I went to bed and then fall asleep and lose my place. There’s a fully developed world here. You can discover it, if you read about it in the middle of the day and not after 11 at night when you’re already in bed.

After that, Base Raiders goes into all sorts of useful info – how to find a base, how to create a character, how to play the game, how to run the game, and a bunch of other stuff that I read but never actually managed to play. Yes, that’s right, I’m reviewing a game I haven’t played. It’s not easy to talk my family into a superhero RPG with completely original material powered by FATE. Deadlands, sure – they’ll beg me to play that. But a supers game is a tough sell.

Not only that, but every time I tried to create a character for Base Raiders, I ended up throwing in the towel and trying something less complicated, like charting the expansion of a gas nebula. The character generation system in Base Raiders will let you create just about any kind of superhero you could possibly imagine, but the trade-off for all this flexibility is that it’s freaking hard to figure out. I tried, I swear, but I never did completely figure out the skill trapping diagram. I kept getting lost in jargon and trying to read icons while attempting to recall what it meant if the hexagon for my skill trapping was surrounded by a dashed line that connected to another skill with a line made of tiny diamonds. A gamer more familiar with FATE might have breezed right through this, but the only FATE game I ever played was Bulldogs, and that’s pretty much designed for neophytes with a short attention span (by which I mean me).

I did thoroughly enjoy reading about all the pregenerated heroes and villains that come in Base Raiders. There’s Beatrice, the thousand-year-old robot sorcerer. You’ll find Death Token, the zombie abomination who can turn people into his undead minions. And then there are guys like Peter Silvertail, the magical rabbit who drives a mech that looks like people, or Fetch, the genetically-engineered lizard alien assassin. I did not make up any of those, though I can see why you might think I did.

I kind of wish I could have muscled through and made up a couple character for Base Raiders, because there’s a whole pre-built base at the end of the book that could have been awesome to raid. It’s got zombies and killer robots and rival super-villains. If you’re able to sign off on a game where a magical bunny is a powerful attorney and you can get superpowers by reading magazines, Base Raiders has a lot of meat on it. It’s more meat than I can digest, unfortunately, but for a serious RPG nerd with more staying power than I possess, there’s a lot here to enjoy. It’s not written particularly well, and it makes no attempt to cater to the newbie, but damn, does this book come with a humongous pile of useful game. It’s about the opposite of my kind of RPG, sadly, but that’s a personal preference, not a real complaint.


Lots of good art
Packed to the brim with a ton of game
Incredibly robust character-creation system

Jargon a-go-go
Not even remotely a light RPG

If you’ve got the moxy to tackle a role-playing game with lots of meat on its bones, check out Base Raiders here:


One Response to “RPG Review – Base Raiders”

  1. Ross Payton says:

    Hi! Thanks for the review. Designing a RPG with comprehensive superpower creation system adds a certain level of complexity. However, I have written conversion guides for Wild Talents, Mutants and Masterminds, and Savage Worlds. Base Raiders is meant to be easy to run in any superhero system, so feel free to run in a game you’re more familiar with.