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Angel RPG – a GMs review  

 

Angel Roleplaying Game

This game is based on the spin-off show to Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and is published by Eden studios. Eden studios also published the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG which we have also reviewed, and so this review will be mainly a comparison between the two. If you haven’t already, click here to read our Buffy review. For those who don’t know, Angel was a character on Buffy, he was a Vampire who had had his soul returned to him (via gypsy magic) so that he would suffer the guilt of his crimes as a vampire for the rest of his immortal life. He and Buffy fell in love but realised, because of that pesky gypsy magic, that theirs was a love that could not be so he left town, turning his back on his true love forever (except in cross-over episodes). He moved to Los Angeles and, with a couple of other cast members, set up a supernatural detective agency, helping the helpless. 

 

Angel never received the critical success or audience numbers of predecessor, but still managed to gain a loyal fan base (myself firmly included in that group!). But we aren’t here to compare the shows, how do the games stack up against one another? 

  

 

The system 

 

As with Buffy, Angel uses the cinematic unisystem which is fast and simple and works well with the tone of the show as it did with Buffy. It uses drama points as before for players to boost their rolls etc in fact it is almost identical to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. These two games can be used in any combination with one another, taking elements from one and adding it to the other, the only area where there is a bit of tweaking to be done is with the characters. Angel characters are a little stronger straight out the box than Buffy characters but the book gives you ample advice on how to deal with this. Apart from that they are pretty much the same game.

 

The big difference is with character creation, and is what, in my opinion, set these games apart. Angel includes pretty much all the Qualities (feats and talents your character choices at character creation) there were in Buffy but also a whole load more demonic powers. Demons and half-demons make up a large proportion of the characters in Angel, and this section allows you to build not only ones from the show but also make your own. The possibilities in this section are enormous and, whereas in Buffy I felt character creation was a bit limited, in Angel it is its strongest selling point. The powers in this section do not have to be demonic either, a creative GM to suit any setting (ie super powers, magic, bionics etc), which expands this game immensely. 

 

 

The setting 

 

The show was set in the same universe as Buffy and again, this book does an excellent job of bringing that across. The chapter on L.A is not only a fun read for a fan, but really shows the scope of the city as a setting for an RPG. The Buffy RPG is, probably not surprisingly, dominated by the slayer, pretty much everything going on (supernaturally speaking) in Sunnydale is in some way affected by the presence of the Buffy. In other words, if you want to run a game that doesn’t somehow involve the slayer and/or the watchers council then you will have a bit of work to do. Whereas with Angel RPG, it would be very easy to have a game set in L.A and it have absolutely nothing to do with Angel Investigations, Wolfram and Hart or anything else on the show. There is a whole community of demons living (and fighting!) amongst us which could give raise to all sorts of gaming possibilities. 

Are the players demon hunters? Are they demons being hunted? Are they half-demons trying to live amongst the human, using their abilities to help people? Or help other demons? 

 

 

Conclusion 

 

Both games, Buffy and Angel, are excellent products from a fans point of view, they have captured Joss Whedon’s humour in the writing that you can hear it being read in the Sarah Michelle Gellar or Charisma Carpenter’s voice. For fans who want to play as their favourite characters they will not disappoint, and for that it gets 5/5 for fans of the show.

 

However, for those who are not huge fans of the show and are just looking for a good RPG they can play again and again, Angel wins hands down. There is so much more potential with this game, more choices at character creation, more flexibility in the setting and with less “baggage” from the show. If you are looking for a fast and fun game thats easy to learn and can be used to cover a wide range of games, then this is the one for you. 4/5 recommended. 

 

4 Star Rating: Recommended

 

You may also like to read:

 

Witchcraft Buffy the Vampire Slayer

 

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