Review – Necessary Evil

Since I’m working on my own superhero setting, I thought I would check out one of the classic settings from Pinnacle, Necessary Evil. In this setting, aliens have invaded Earth and wiped out almost all of the superheroes – leaving only the supervillains to lead a resistance.

The superhero-building rules in Necessary Evil basically mirror those in the Superpowers companion, which provide a lot of options to custom-tailor your abilities. Unlike the core book Arcane Background: Superpowers, these powers are “always on” and often do not require any roll to use. As a result, you can build considerably more powerful supers than the core book allows. The book also provides two new races, Atlanteans and human-Atlantean hybrids.

In addition to the character building rules, the book provides a gazetteer for Star City, a metropolis created by a “space god” in the 1950s off the shore of Connecticut. Star City provides the setting for many (but not all) of the Savage Tales and Plot Point Campaign adventures.

The campaign itself has a nice mix of different types of adventures, as well as a thru-line plot about building up to a massive rebellion and some fun twists and turns along the way. A “mission generator” provides the ability to create adventures on the fly or to link to the various Savage Tales provided.

The idea of playing supervillains has definite appeal for many players; however, there’s a set of moral quandaries provided in the course of the campaign that seems intended to push the villains towards redemption. I could easily see this going sideways, with players sticking to their villainous origins throughout – if half the table turns good and the other half remains evil, running the campaign from there could be a major challenge.

My only other concern is theoretical – some of the missions are extremely challenging, and I could easily see high character fatality rates and TPKs from many of them, although I have not playtested them to confirm this. If I’m right, some groups would be turned off by the need to generate new characters on a regular basis.

Overall, I like Necessary Evil’s storyline and setting, but I’m not sure I’d run it with either of my groups – the challenge level in particular might be frustrating for my less-experienced table, and the more-experienced one would almost certainly be in PvP mode before the end of the campaign.

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