Z-Man Games is doing a great job bringing the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books back to life in tabletop form. They’ve gone with an RPG-lite-lite approach, with players collectively taking the part of the books’ protagonists. With the second game in the series, War With the Evil Power Master, they’ve added some things which increase challenge and replayability without raising the barrier to entry very much.
As opposed to House of Danger, this time players divvy up the four main characters amongst themselves. Each one has skill strengths and weaknesses and begins the game with a random starting item. Every game starts the same way, at the Lacooan Congress with the Evil Power Master announcing his eeeevil intentions; after that you spawn randomly onto a different planet on the map. Your mission is to uncover enough signal power by visiting the different planets to narrow down the EPM’s location before time runs out. Although the encounters on each planet remain the same from game to game, the strength of the signal is also randomly determined with every game.
Skill checks work the same as before--you need to meet or beat a challenge number (which increases the better you’re doing, signal-wise) using whatever skill is required. The pivotal rule in the game is that every time a character is used to check a skill it is flipped over and cannot be used again until all four have been used. This prevents loading one or two players up with all the gear and using them over and over again. Yes, it’s artificial--but it’s a good choice, design-wise.
War With the Evil Power Master makes for a great step up from House of Danger for parents looking to gently introduce their kids to RPGs. And those hoping or nostalgic for the gum-snapping humour of the original will not be disappointed. Saving the galaxy was never so fun. Click here to order your copy of Choose Your Own Adventure: War With the Evil Power Master!