This review first appeared on The Digital Front Podcast #4 and at Purple Duck Creations.
The Sixth Seal – Review
Reviewed by Mark Gedak mark AT thedigitalfront DOT com
The Sixth Seal is a supplement that is published under Green Ronin's Mutant's and Masterminds Superlink System. The product is 55 pages long, fully-booked marked and available for $7.95 at both Rpgnow and DTRPG. The author of this supplement is Mike Lafferty and presents a campaign model or arc that is focused the aftermath of a terrible natural disaster that isolates and disables much of the country's cities. The product is divided into four sections and two appendices.
The first section of this product is called "The Earthquake Hits" and provides two adventures focused on what problems arises when a major earthquake strikes the heroes hometown. Often the adventures are broken into multiple scenes and each scene has mini-challenges. A mini-challenge is sort of a complication, an additional task that the heroes must deal with while trying to deal with the primary task. One such mini-challenge is the rescue of children from an apartment that has been set on fire by the arsonist villain. The first two adventures in this section deal with the actions of the arsonist named Brimstone and the breakdown of security at the meta-human prison after an aftershock knockdown its power grid. All major villains are listed at the end of this section, while minor characters who are best emulated by existing statblocks are simply listed with the appropriate location to find them in the core Mutant and Mastermind rules.
The second section of the product called, "Life After The Quake" focuses on the power structures that are function within the city in the weeks and months after the massive quake has destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. In the wake of the disaster, power groups begin to grab territories throughout the city. This breaks the city into eleven factions. Each faction is detailed with it typical membership, key personalities and primary motivation. These groups and locations play major roles in the adventures present in the third section of this product. There are a number of super-powered characters in this section with heroes like the Red Specter, ambiguious characters like the Silver Lynx, deranged cultists like Nektrotic (who sports a sign in yellow on his forehead), and criminals like the Midnight Bombardier.
"Post-Quake Adventures" is the third section of this product deals with life weeks and months after the initial quake and its aftershocks. There are three adventures in this section, the first deals with the heroes attempt to stop the arms race that is building between the various streetgangs, the second deals with preventing hordes of undead from over the cities refugees and final adventure focuses on the gang's stand against the police forces that have slowly taken back the city. Although many of these adventures have elaborate combat scenes there are many roleplaying opportunities as well such as the negotiation with mercenaries, political games and deal-making with the gangs.
The fourth section of the book is just a short paragraph that explains how the city eventual returns to its pre-quake state. The first appendix provides seven short scenes that and be interspersed into the longer campaign arc. The second appendix provides the GM with an alternate plotline that could be used to isolate just the heroes' home town and not the entire eastern seaboard of North America. This plot also includes a mystery and a villain that is ultimately behind the quake – instead of it being a natural disaster as originally plotted.
As it is written "The 6th Seal" is not really an adventure so much as a toolkit for an apocalyptic event. It seems the ideal sort of toolkit you would want to use if you wanted to run a campaign similar to the No Man's Land storyline from Batman or a campaign set in a devastated metropolis such as New York currently is in the World War Hulk event. There are lots of good ideas, adventures and advice for handling adventures in a environment where social and governmental support networks have failed. There are also about a dozen fully stated NPCs to be used in this adventure or ported out to your own campaign.
I had trouble accepting one of the roleplaying situations with the character called Atomiknight, who is a mercerary that is trading advanced weaponry to the gangs for medical supplies, food and other trade goods. Although I can see that it fits thematically with the campaign, I'm not sure why he would demand cash and other valuables and then use his powers to escape this devastation and live off his arms dealing in a nicer country.
Overall, I found this product packed with information and ideas that would be very useful for a disaster campaign in Mutants and Masterminds games or even adapted by other heroic roleplaying games with conversion of the npcs. For publishers looking for reusable open game content, the designation of open game content is very clear and generous.