Sins takes place in our own world, a century or more from now, which is in a post-apocalyptic state. Civilisation as we know it no longer exists, areas of the world are now hideously scorched by nuclear attacks and others have returned to their natural state.
I met co-creator and development team lead Sam Sleney at the 2017 UKGE, where after the past 6 years or so he had been developing the game and was heading to Kickstarter. I caught up with him again at UKGE 2018 where the game was nominated (and won) for the People’s Choice Best RPG award. He very kindly gave me a copy of the prequel scenario, Dead City, which is basically a quick start. Before I dive into this article, I just need to quickly apologise to Sam, because I have taken so long to get this overview out.
- Published by: First Falling Leaf
- 357 pages
- Hardback version: £40.00
- PDF version: £10.00
- Kickstarter original total: £5,000
- Kickstarter final total: £29,498
- Number of backers: 706
- Sins website
- RPG Geek link
It’s the end of the world as we know it.
The prequel booklet focuses heavily on the arrival of The Black Rain. This was the event that began the end of civilisation, where a number of crystalline-like objects rained down on the earth. It was supposed to be end of days and when the event was over and the looting and partying had finished, life seems to be heading back towards normal. Five friends sit in a bar in New York City, wondering what was all the fuss about; it was more like a disappointing firework display. Let’s just say that things don’t really stay this way for long.
The hardback rulebook, which contains a complete guide and background information for both the player and the GM, details more of what happened several years after the initial fall. The world is now full of undead, commonly known as The Brood, who are described as former human beings with a now dim-collective consciousness and tend to gather and attack in packs. The Black Rain also bought forth seven individual beings of almost god-like power, who became known as Reapers. The Reapers were hell bent on destruction, but after one was killed in a battle they have somewhat vanished.
Players will take on the part of Nemissaries, and can decide for themselves if they want to help the world heal or send it further into obliteration. The Nemissaries possess great power; they came about as some humans were consumed by The Brood, but managed to keep a self-awareness, regaining their human form and now have special abilities.
The HOPE engine
The dice system that controls Sins is a D6 pool-based system, which is designed to work best for a story-driven style. Players are encouraged to add flavour to their actions, which may change the ability that the GM uses to resolve the action and/or change the difficulty based on the description.
For any event that requires a roll, the GM will determine the Attribute and skill that is relevant. The player will the roll the number of dice they have against that attribute, adding one extra dice per fate point that they have. The target number is detailed by the level the player has in that particular skill, and the number of successes is defined by the difficulty. Difficulty levels are based upon the level of challenge the GM thinks it will be for the player to succeed, which ranges between 1 for a task that would be of little challenge for a player, up until 7 which would be classed as near on impossible.
Any dice that rolls a six during this is considered a success and you get to roll that dice again to create further successes. This is known as a dice exploding. You continue to roll until you don’t roll a six. You can then use your additional successes to add some flair, or maybe help another player. Players fail tasks if they don’t meet the level of success acquired. The GM could add flavour dependent upon the level of failure, especially if it is a task that requires some delicacy.
Building a character
Players have a choice to play a powerful Nemissary, or indeed one of the few Humans trying to survive. The system embraces people that want to create a character with a personality, which can be a difficult task for any new player. The source book encourages Players to think in broad terms; do you want to play a soldier, merchant, criminal? You can then begin to narrow down what your character might like and dislike, if they are a Nemissary then it encourages you to consider what changes have been brought upon.
Stats wise, all characters get a pool of 13 points that they can distribute among their attributes as they see fit, but no attribute should start above 5 points. The following attribute descriptions have been taken directly from the source book:
- Body: A character’s physical capacity and a measure of general athletic capability.
- Conviction: A measure of strength of will and determination.
- Cunning: How quick-minded a character is, and how good they are at adapting to changing circumstances.
- Reason: A character’s analytical capability, and a general measure of intelligence.
- Passion: How outgoing and charismatic a character is,along with an indicator of their force of personality.
- Prowess: A character’s grace, poise and balance,determining how well the character deals with delicate tasks, and playing a part in how quickly a character can react in a given circumstance.
I have barely scratched the surface of Sins in this overview; it contains a full magic and weapon system, along with a ton of background information to enable any GM to create some dark stories. It certainly lives up to the claim of being a combination of popular films like Akira, Blade Runner, Mad Max, The Thing and the imagination of HP Lovecraft. We would like to personally thank Sam for his generosity in giving us a copy of the prequel scenario book; it certainly helped me get to grips with the game more. I love the fact that it uses a really simplistic, but effective dice system that allows for very elaborate play.
I did in fact buy my own copy of the PDF and the hardback book, mostly because I was very impressed by the fantastic artwork by Will Kirkby; as well as the quality of the paper stock and print quality. First Falling Leaf did an excellent job of shipping it to me so that it arrived pristine. What I find really interesting is the amount of work that has gone into supporting this title. The team have a profile on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, so check them out. If that was somehow not enough, they even have a created some mix tapes on Spotify, for music to help set the tone for your scenario.
Love and scary RPGs