D&D 5E [Let's Read] Rambo Cinematic Adventures

Libertad

Hero
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2/17/2024 Update: EN World recently published an article about this book's publisher. Based on the allegations of ex-employees, ranging from a toxic work environment to not paying contractors the money that was agreed upon, I am no longer comfortable in supporting this company's work and wouldn't have reviewed the books if I knew about this.

When Everyday Heroes was making the rounds online, one of its big advertisements was showing how versatile their RPG was by making various sourcebooks of licensed properties. Being half new rules and half setting/adventures, the Cinematic Adventures line had quite the selection, from Pacific Rim to Highlander. Rambo, along with Universal Soldier, is the final such planned Cinematic Adventures sourcebook for the near future.

Whereas settings such as Pacific Rim may be easier to come up with PCs for, Rambo is a bit harder to imagine given that the namesake protagonist is part and parcel of the franchise. Who are your PCs and what role do they play, if nobody can play as John Rambo? Well, Rambo Cinematic Adventures has a rather interesting take: it does include a sample adventure that is set in the fictional universe of the Rambo franchise, but more than anything it’s a sourcebook for running “military fantasy” campaigns with advice on incorporating themes found in the franchise. “Military fantasy” in this case is an action movie take on guerilla warfare, where the PCs are cream of the crop special forces soldiers who can take on overwhelming odds, be they in active service or veterans returning to civilian life only to find another kind of threat back home.

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The sourcebook starts off with a brief discussion of the first three Rambo films, along with talking about the protagonist’s general backstory and personality traits. Although the 2008 and 2019 movies are briefly mentioned, the ones made in the 80s serve as the primary sources of inspiration. The very silly cartoon show that turned Rambo into a GI Joe knockoff that also fought crazy villains such as bikers and Dracula’s ghost dogs is (perhaps for the best) unmentioned.

The introductory section makes note that the kinds of operations Rambo takes part in are commonly known as guerilla warfare: basically small elite individuals engaging in asymmetrical warfare against a military force superior in numbers and equipment, making use of hit-and-run tactics, stealth, traps, and sabotage of various kinds. When it comes to the US, special forces such as the Green Berets and Navy SEALs are most famous for this. Such soldiers didn’t typically work alone like Rambo did in the film at times, but were often part of groups of 5 to 10 soldiers fulfilling a role of various specialties with a wider array of soldiers and officers who provided them less direct support. Guerilla warriors are quite common in civil wars where they could both blend in and more easily garner sympathy with the native populations. While the line between guerilla warfare and terrorism is often unclear, the book makes the line of distinction being the intentional targeting of civilians which more or less puts one in “bad guy” territory. The book notes that these kinds of soldiers are ideally suited to adventures in tabletop RPGs that aren’t wargames, given their relative autonomy and small numbers often requiring them to go behind enemy lines.

But beyond just action-oriented military-themed adventures, the sourcebook also notes other issues and subjects rather pertinent to the themes of Rambo: the first is often the plight of veterans, who are treated poorly by both the government and civilians. The former in pushing them through the hell that is war and expecting them to sacrifice everything, only to leave them abandoned and without direction upon returning to civilian life. And how many civilians view veterans in polarizing and contradictory ways. Particularly during Vietnam where they were held with fear and contempt. Even in more reverential communities and eras idolizing them as fighters for freedom, they’re often given little more than a handshake and a “thank you for your service” phrase, rarely supporting causes that would help veterans get a better life post-war.

The other theme in the book is an emphasis on the Cold War, and a listing of the major conflicts around the world during that time. It of course lists Vietnam and the Soviet-Afghan War, but it is quite broad in covering everything from the Falklands War to the Ethiopian Civil War. The descriptions are very brief and don’t compare to a Wikipedia article, seeming to serve more as a springboard for what kinds of military conflicts your PCs in a Rambo-flavored adventure may get involved in.

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This is a significant section of the player-facing half of Rambo, pretty much covering all of the major options for PC creation. While quite a bit of things can be easily incorporated into a broader Everyday Heroes game, I do get the sense that quite a few options are designed with a specific campaign in mind and would be quite powerful or unbalanced in comparison to some of their “core” counterparts.

Backgrounds use the same general rules as in Everyday Heroes, representing significant events in a character’s upbringing or their formative years. Pretty much all of the default backgrounds from the core rules are available, as soldiers can come from many walks of life. We get eight new ones, usually reflecting someone who grew up in a wartorn, violent, or otherwise militaristic lifestyle that serves as an easy justification for how they became Special Forces as part of their career. They include such options as Refugee (+1 Constitution, proficiency in Endurance and one language, special feature lets you Dash or Disengage as a bonus action whenever you Dodge as an action), Tunnel Rat (+1 Dexterity, Acrobatics, advantage on Dexterity for squeezing through tight spaces and Acrobatics checks for escaping grapples and restraints), Small Town (+1 Charisma, Mechanics, advantage on Persuasion and Streetwise checks made in small towns or residents from small towns), and Violent Past (+1 Constitution, proficiency in Athletics, advantage on saves to resist being Stunned or to end said condition). All of these backgrounds also get Iconic Equipment, several of which are more for flavor such as Veteran having dog tags, service medals, and a VA card, but a few have some pretty practical equipment such as the Tunnel Rat having a GI flashlight or Violent Past having a switchblade knife along with a leather jacket and “wicked scar.”

Professions is a tad bit different. As the PCs are expected to be Special Forces or veterans of such elite units, just slapping the Military profession on all of them is a bit of a cookie-cutter solution. So Rambo has a new mechanic known as a Special Forces Career Path that is a multi-step process of building a Profession and its specializations. The first step is choosing one of four Branches from the US Armed Forces. The second step is choosing the Recruitment Type, where they are either Enlisted, giving +1 to a physical ability score and Wealth Level of 2, or are an Officer with a +1 to a mental ability score and Wealth Level of 3. The third step, Basic Training, takes the last two steps into account, where your Branch and Recruitment Type determines your bonus skill and equipment proficiencies along with bonus Iconic Equipment. Each combination grants Basic and Advanced Equipment at a minimum, but Army Enlisted, Marines Enlisted, and Marines Officer also grant Military Equipment proficiency. The Army and Marines options are predictably physically-oriented in their bonus skills, although Army Officer stands out in getting Insight and Persuasion whereas Marines Officer only gets Endurance and nothing else. Navy and Air Force Enlisted are unique in getting three overall useful skills (Athletics, Mechanics, and either Acrobatics for Navy or Perception for Air Force). Only Navy and Air Force Officers get proficiency in Vehicles, where Navy also gets Natural Sciences but Air Force gets Perception. The Iconic Equipment is pretty standard in being a dress uniform associated with your branch, either combat fatigues or a working uniform or suit suitable for your role, and one type of firearm that is either a semiautomatic pistol (Beretta M9 or Colt 1911) or M16A1 Rifle.

To top off the Career Paths, a PC gets Special Operations Training Feats which are basically bonus feats, with their choice of two Minor feats or one Major feat. They represent more specialized roles based on their duties and assignments. They are roughly in line with existing Everyday Heroes feats in terms of balance, save for being a tad better in that some also provide bonus Iconic Equipment. PCs can take these feats when leveling up rather than just at character creation, too. We have 15 such feats, 9 of which are Minor and 6 of which are Major. None of them are restricted by prerequisites save for Combat Weapons Training, which requires proficiency in Advanced Equipment but grants Military Equipment proficiency and lets you clear firearm jams as a bonus action. The feats are suitably neat and help make a PC good at particular roles, such as Medical Technician Training (Minor) that grants proficiency in Medicine and advantage on such checks when stabilizing creatures at 0 hit points along with medical Iconic Equipment; Network Development Training (Major) grants proficiency in Deception, Persuasion, and Streetwise along with advantage on Charisma checks made to bribe people along with foreign currency and a fake passport as Iconic Equipment; Vehicle Flight Training (Minor) grants proficiency in Vehicles and you have double proficiency on checks with said skill for a specific type of military vehicle and are always considered proficient with its integrated weapons; Alpine Training (Major) that grants proficiency in Athletics, Acrobatics, and Endurance, advantage on Athletics checks when rock or ice climbing, and grants a climbing kit and military parka as Iconic Equipment. There’s also Mental Conditioning and Physical Conditioning as Minor feats that grant +1 to a relevant ability score, but you cannot get more than a net +1 to a single score as a result of overall choices on a Career Path so as to avoid min-maxing.

For those gaming groups that find the Career Path system a bit too daunting, we get a Special Forces Operative as a new Profession plus four non-military Professions that are still suitable for military campaigns. The Special Forces Operative grants +1 to a physical ability score, proficiency in 5 skills (Athletics, Endurance, Stealth, Survival, Vehicles), proficiency in Basic, Advanced, and Military Equipment, a Wealth Level of 2, and their Special Feature lets them re-roll all failed death saving throws once. The “once” at the end is rather vague; presumably it means that if you gain some other means of rerolling, such as spending Inspiration, that this doesn’t stack but otherwise you can reroll it if the option ordinarily wouldn’t be available. That’s my interpretation at least.

Aid Worker represents those who act as doctors and emergency responders in conflict zones such as the Red Cross, and are a pretty strong occupation: they get a whopping 5 skill proficiencies, are proficient in Basic Equipment, add +1 to Constitution or Wisdom, and their Special Feature grants advantage on Charisma checks for gaining aid from others and Charisma saves made to resist attempts to slander you. Their shortcomings is that they have a Wealth Level of 1 and lose the benefits of said Feature against any person who witnessed them committing an act of violence. Arms Dealer represents those unscrupulous elements of the military-industrial complex and the criminal underworld who sell weapons of destruction to the highest bidder. They get +1 Charisma, are proficient in Persuasion and Streetwise skills, are proficient in Basic, Advanced, and Military Equipment, have a high Wealth Level of 4, and their Special Feature grants them legitimate access to buying restricted weapons and armor (selling them to unauthorized people is still illegal). Diplomat represents those on foreign soil serving the interests of their home country and are predictably social-focused: +1 to Intelligence and Charisma, one bonus language, proficiency in four skills related to social aptitude, Basic Equipment proficiency, Wealth Level of 3, and Diplomatic Immunity as a Special Feature which grants them immunity to arrest and prosecution in the country in which they’re stationed (they can still be expelled). Sheriff represents elected officials in American law enforcement who wield authority within their jurisdiction. They’re basically a charismatic cop, gaining +1 Charisma and +1 to two other ability scores, gain proficiency in 4 different skills (Investigation plus 3 social skills), Basic and Advanced Equipment, Wealth Level of 3, and their Special Feature grants them authority over law enforcement working for them and advantage on Intimidation checks against anyone living within their county of jurisdiction. As usual, all of these have Iconic Equipment appropriate for their occupations. However, The Arms Dealer and Special Forces Operative make mention of Operative Packs which as far as I can tell aren’t an equipment pack either in the Everyday Heroes core rules or in this book.

Thoughts: Out of curiosity I decided to see how balanced these Professions are in comparison to the default system in Everyday Heroes. The Aid Worker is more or less in line with the 6 Profession Points, but the rest of them are a bit above in that all of their benefits save the Special Feature add up to 6 Profession Points, and the Special Feature would add perhaps .5 points on top of it. As for the Special Forces Career Path, they can end up a bit over the 6 Profession Points limit on account of the bonus feats, but as campaigns making use of that presume that all of the PCs will be taking it, the relative imbalance is muted.

Classes in Everyday Heroes are what would be known as subclasses in a typical 5e DnD campaign, and Rambo gives us five new ones. Four of which represent common roles found in special forces teams, and a fifth that isn’t necessarily a soldier but reflects skilled outdoorsmen. The book goes over some recommended classes in the core rulebook, either because they already fit well into a military theme such as the Commando or Leader or because they fit the themes of the Rambo franchise and could plausibly show up in a Special Forces team such as Bodyguard or Scoundrel.

While the book doesn’t say it in this section, some classes may be unsuitable for Rambo-style campaigns: the Hacker’s capabilities aren’t in line with what’s plausible in a realistic 1980s setting, while the new Combat Engineer sort of replaces the default Engineer in having several of the same Plans. They are meant to be a more “grounded” option than the soft sci-fi features of the Engineer’s such as a robot companion. Rambo doesn’t outright ban any classes or options, saying that it’s up to the GM what to allow and what sounds reasonable for their campaign. Each of the new classes save the Survivalist (which is the generic outdoors one I mentioned above) have proficiency in Basic, Advanced, and Military Equipment plus Advanced Combat Training at 5th level, the latter of which is Everyday Heroes’ equivalent to Extra Attack. So even the archetypes that are less straightforwardly physical are designed to have some combat capabilities and can wield all kinds of firearms and ordinances with at least some capability.

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Combat Engineer is for the Smart Hero, and represents fortifications and explosives experts who with enough time and preparation can reshape the battlefield’s terrain in favor of their allies. They have proficiency and expertise in Mechanics and can choose three other skills from a broad variety but with an emphasis on smart guy/field operations stuff. Their two default talents at 1st level include substituting their Intelligence modifier for attack rolls with thrown or launched explosives and artillery weapons, advantage on saves against the Deafened condition and effects that deal explosive or fire damage, and can end the Burning condition on themselves as a bonus action. Like other Smart Hero classes they have seven plans, two of which are reprints from the default Engineer (Cut the Power and Demolish) but include new stuff such as At the Last Second (automatically disarm an explosive device/trap/countdown timer as an action, higher levels let you do this with faster actions, at range, and/or with one hand free), Bring It Down (gain explosive charges as equipment if reasonable given the circumstances and use them to demolish a structure, higher levels let you plant the charges faster, demolition is more controlled/potent, and enemies have disadvantage on saves to avoid hazards that come from your demolition), and Defensive Positions (create layers of fortifications to place around an area). And yes, demolitions and fortifications have their own unique rules in the next chapter.

Thoughts: The Plans are a bit situational in that several require a bit of in-game time to set up rather than spending Genius points and having them trigger immediately. But they are quite powerful in that they’re broadly useful: being able to collapse enemy structures and erect fortifications are open to all sorts of clever tactics by parties and can really hinder enemy mobility and line of sight. In comparison to a default Engineer this class loses out on a robot companion, thus making them a bit more limited in action economy but the Advanced Combat Training grants them a bonus attack which can make up for this. They don’t have some of the more “sci-fi” Plans such as an Emergency Jetpack or an electrical glove melee attack, but I was a bit surprised that they didn’t get the Customize Plan which IMO would be a great fit for this class. But even without this I rate it as a very strong class, provided that parties have some freedom in choosing where and when to do battle.

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Combat Medic is our other Smart Hero class, representing trained soldiers with sufficient healing knowledge to keep their allies from the brink of death while under pressure. They gain proficiency and expertise in Medicine and choose three skills from a broad variety of options. Their default feature gained at 1st level is the Healthy feat for free, which grants +2 hit points per level. They too have seven Plans, and and all but two of them involve healing or otherwise reducing the suffering of themselves or teammates, such as Adrenaline Burst (activated when an ally reaches 0 hit points, grants a bunch of boons to the Combat Medic such as ignoring the Encumbered condition, can carry someone’s body while treating them as 0 Bulk*, and advantage on Athletics checks made to move or break objects), Field Surgery (cures short-term and long-term injuries when using the optional Injury rules, is GM Fiat otherwise), It’s Not So Bad (remove a variety of conditions from an adjacent ally as an action), Hit ‘em Where It Hurts (deal bonus damage that increases with level on a target you hit and can choose from a variety of conditions to apply to them), and Just Take This (give combat drugs to an ally granting a variety of buffs).

*Optional rule for carrying capacity in the core rulebook.

Thoughts: Everyday Heroes doesn’t really have a healer role, where the basic Medicine check during short rest can let one reroll spent Hit Dice for a better result, while most class talents grant temporary hit points rather than outright healing lost ones to represent additional staying power. And there’s the Battlefield Medic and Great Cook feats that play around with Hit Dice. The Scientist Smart Hero class in the basic book is perhaps the closest we get, with Adrenaline Shot being used to grant temporary hit points or can restore an ally who died recently to 1 hit point, or I Have the Cure being a remover of various Conditions. Whereas the Combat Medic’s Just Take This has Pain Relievers as a drug option that heals less temporary HP overall, it can also grant advantage on Constitution saving throws. At later levels Just Take This lets them use that and other buffs on more allies and at the same time. As for their respective Condition remover Plans, I compared the Scientist and Combat Medic side by side:


Scientist’s I Have the Cure vs Combat Medic’s It’s Not So Bad
Have the Cure 1st: Blinded, Deafened, Paralyzed, Sickened, one illness, all levels of Intoxication.
Not So Bad 1st: Bleeding,* Burning, Distracted, Frightened, Prone, 1 level of Exhaustion or Intoxication
Have the Cure 3rd: affect ally within 60 feet
Not So Bad 3rd: activate as a reaction. Also remove Blinded, Deafened, Sickened, Stunned
Have the Cure 5th: DR 10 vs poison, advantage on saves vs poison, illness, and lvl 1 Conditions save Intoxication
Not So Bad 5th: 2 levels of Exhaustion or Intoxication, Paralyzed, effects of one poison
Have the Cure 7th: affect up to 2 living allies
Not So Bad 7th: activate as bonus action, 3 levels of Intoxication or Exhaustion, Unconsciousness
Have the Cure 9th: reduce Exhaustion level by 3
Not So Bad 9th: end effects of a disease


*A new Condition in this book. In short, it has 3 levels but only the highest level applies: at Level 1 you cannot recover hit points, level 2 you cannot recover hit points and take 1d6 damage at the start of your turn, and level 3 has the effects of the prior 2 levels but you gain a level of Exhaustion at the start of your turn. The First Aid action can stop bleeding with DC based on level, and level 2 and 3 require a short or long rest to permanently stop the bleeding. The victim must remain still with pressure applied to the wound throughout the treatment process and rest if applicable.

So the Combat Medic advantage is that they can activate their talent faster, freeing up their action economy, and can cure Unconsciousness and Stunned which the Scientist cannot do. But the Scientist is overall better in being able to use their Plan at range and heal equivalent Conditions and exhaustion/intoxication levels at earlier levels.

While the Scientist is better in certain areas and has an overall better condition remover progression, the Combat Medic can still win out in several areas while serving their own niche. For one, the Combat Medic has more staying power in fights: not only do they get more hit points by default, they have a great variety of equipment proficiencies plus can attack twice per round rather than once. Furthermore their Plans often grant multiple benefits or have faster actions so they don’t have to choose between their default action/attack that round, whereas all of a Scientist's unique plans require an action to activate.

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Combat Scout is for the Agile Hero, representing soldiers specializing in stealth and observation, clearing the way forward for the main force and finding and weakening enemy positions. They have proficiency in Stealth, choose to have expertise in either Perception or Stealth, and choose three skills from a variety of Rogue-style options. They break convention from other Everyday Heroes classes in having proficiency in two of the more common saving throws: Dexterity and Wisdom. They are a pretty front-loaded class, getting the bulk of their abilities at the first three levels but have some nice abilities at 7th and 9th level. At 1st level they can perform the Search action for free once per turn, have advantage on Stealth checks to avoid making noise or alerting others with sounds they make,* and can take the Hide action as a bonus action or as a reaction when initiative is rolled provided they then move up to 10 feet into a suitable hiding spot. At 3rd level they basically get the benefits of the Scout feat, which is advantage on ability checks made to detect traps and hidden enemies along with +5 Passive Perception, and they also can choose one skill from a broad list to gain proficiency or expertise in if already proficient. At 7th level they get another skill pick, but they also get perhaps their strongest feature: Quick Kill, which is a special attack requiring a bit of a restrictive setup but once triggered is resolved as a melee attack roll (cannot benefit from advantage even if applicable) vs the target’s Constitution save. If the target fails the save, they are killed or knocked out for 8 hours, but on a success they take damage as per a standard attack and combat begins if the target’s still standing. The Combat Scout cannot use their reaction to Hide as a result of this. The GM is allowed to make certain enemies immune to this, suggesting pivotal antagonists to be the applicable standard. The 9th level capstone features include the ability to Dodge as a bonus action and can perform a Quiet Kill as a ranged attack on a target up to 60 feet away, provided it’s not with a Loud weapon which restricts most firearms from this unless they have a suppressor.

*Although the book says you can’t do inherently noisy actions like firing a gun with this, this is still broadly worded to apply to a lot of situations.

Thoughts: This is an extremely strong class. Any 5th Edition veteran cannot underestimate the importance of triggering surprise on the PC side, and even with lopsided odds the battle can decisively swing in favor of the ambushers. The Combat Scout is pretty much built to roll well on Stealth checks, and their Passive Perception is guaranteed to be at least decent in the event that enemy forces try to ambush the party. Even without advantage, Quiet Kill can still be open to abuse, such as a Manipulator using In Your Head to reduce the target’s saving throw, while a Mastermind may apply I Had That Poisoned to the Combat Scout’s weapon to even the odds in killing or knocking out the enemy should they succeed the save. And while they cannot get advantage, there’s nothing in the text preventing them from gaining a flat bonus such as from the Duelist’s Flèche trick or a Leader’s Inspiring Order. Additionally, Quiet Kill is not limited in use based on rests, so a sneaky and lucky scout can go around an area killing one enemy after another before initiative is rolled. Contrast this to the MMA Fighter’s 9th level special attacks which have a similar feature: they can impose the Unconscious condition along with some other feature, but the target can make a new save at the end of each of their turns to regain consciousness.

For direct class comparisons, they are closest to the Scoundrel from the core rules and are pretty much better in almost every way. The only things a Scoundrel gets over them are bonus actions for things beyond Hiding (Security, Sleight of Hand, Use Object), and their Vital Strike can more easily apply than Quiet Kill but taps out at 5d6 damage. As for skills, the Scoundrel can gain expertise in up to three skills rather than two, but two out of three only kick in at 7th level. The Combat Scout has a broader array of options in also gaining new skill proficiencies plus having proficiency in four skills rather than three at 1st level. At 9th level the Scoundrel can reliably roll 10 at the minimum for various Roguish skills. But in comparison to the vast amount of abilities the Combat Scout gets, the Scoundrel feels positively lacking in comparison.

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Commander represents someone who provides support to their allies, using their experience to build trust. What separates it from the corebook’s Leader is that it’s for Wise Heroes and focuses less on talents that give single allies one-time powerful abilities but more team-wide buffs. They are proficient in two good saves (Constitution and Wisdom) and choose three skills from a healthy mixture of physical, social, and scout-like stuff such as Perception, Stealth, and Survival. At 1st level allies who can see or hear the Commander have advantage on saves vs the Frightened condition, can substitute their Wisdom in place of Charisma for Intimidation and Persuasion checks, and whenever they hit an opponent with a ranged weapon they can spend 1 Focus to give advantage on the next ranged attack against that opponent by an ally. At 3rd level they can ignore one source of disadvantage on each attack roll they make, can spend 1 Focus at the beginning of their turn to give themselves and all team members who can see or hear them +10 movement until the beginning of their next turn, or spend 1 focus to let an ally that can see or hear them re-roll a failed saving throw but only once for any given saving throw. At 7th level their “focus fire” ability at 1st level can apply to any of their allies instead of just one if they spend 2 Focus instead, can spend a reaction and 1 Focus to add their Wisdom modifier to the Defense of themselves or an ally if they would be hit by an attack and thus can turn it into a miss, and at 9th level whenever an ally would be reduced to 0 hit points they can spend 1 Focus to have them drop to 1 hit point instead.

Thoughts: The Commander is very much built to be a team player, and some of their abilities can make for interesting builds like a diplomancer/scout via substituting Wisdom for Charisma for certain social skills, or a sniper with their ability to ignore one source of disadvantage such as firing at long range. Comparisons to the existing Leader class are inevitable. The Leader is derived from the Charismatic Hero, who has a lower Hit Die and Defense bonus than Wise, and unlike the Commander they don’t get Military Equipment proficiency or Advanced Combat Training, so by default they aren’t as offensive. However, the Leader’s Command feature can basically allow up to 2 allies to attack one additional time per round along with moving half their speed by spending reactions. The Commander’s offensive boost by contrast is granting advantage on attacks rather than additional attacks, but it costs them Focus which is a rest-based rechargeable resource, whereas the Leader’s ability is infinite-use. Contrast this to the Commander’s bonus movement, which is typically much less (+10 feet rather than half speed or 15 feet for most people) and costs Focus but can affect the entire party by default. Both of them can help with saving throws: Leader’s 9th level ability adds their Charisma modifier to all saving throws to themselves and allies within 10 feet, which is powerful but requires them to be clustered together and thus become grenade or missile-bait, while Inspiring Order adds their Influence Die to a single ally’s attack roll or saving throw. The Commander can spend a similar resource in Focus, but given that it’s a reroll rather than adding onto an existing roll it is circumstantial in whether it would be better or worse than Inspiring Order trick. When it comes to defensive features, the Commander gets some nice abilities in adding to Defense or guarding against an otherwise deadly blow, but those only come into play at the higher levels. The Leader, by contrast, gets Defensive Order which can be taken regardless of level but reduces damage of a struck ally by the Leader’s Influence Die plus Charisma modifier. The Leader is much less effective against high-damage blows, but being taken at much lower levels makes it much more likely to see use in play.

As for which one is better, it depends on what classes your allies have. The Heavy Gunner would certainly appreciate gaining advantage on attacks to offset the Power Attack penalty, and the Scoundrel can more easily trigger their Vital Strike this way. But it is of more limited use to people who don’t rely on ranged attack rolls, particularly melee builds like the Brawler or Duelist. Conversely, the Leader is a better “healer” in having more ways of giving allies temporary hit points, even at 3rd level or with the Motivate trick, and the bonus attacks via Command would see the best use in parties with highly martial characters where an additional hit can deal a lot of damage.

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Survivalist is a Tough Hero class, representing those who have peerless skill in living off the land and specialize in setting up traps with which to better ambush their enemies. They are proficient in two good saves (Constitution and Wisdom), are proficient in Basic and Advanced Equipment, have proficiency and expertise in Survival, and choose three skills from various outdoorsman style options. They have a ton of class features taking a full page in total. They start play with Ambush, which is similar to Sneak Attack in dealing bonus damage when unseen but also applies to the damages of traps that they make. Like a DnD Ranger they choose from a list of Natural Terrains which grant them various benefits while within said terrain. They get more Terrain to learn as they increase in level, and their options are fewer in number than DnD but broader and meant to be more generous. For example, a stream in a wooded mountain glade would be considered Alpine, Forest, and Wetlands for the purposes of activating this class feature. At 3rd level they treat any roll of a 6 or less as a 7 when spending Hit Dice to heal, get advantage on Survival checks to set traps outdoors and can find the needed materials for traps when in their Natural Terrain, and at 3rd and 7th level they can choose one skill from their list of class skills in which to gain proficiency or expertise if already proficient. At 5th and 9th level they gain proficiency in an additional saving throw of their choice, but can’t be unusual saves such as armor or death saves. At 7th level they can spend 10 minutes in Natural Terrain to create medicine from local resources to heal a variety of Conditions, and at 9th level they can use Second Wind an unlimited number of times and can use it as a reaction whenever they take damage.

Thoughts: Like the Combat Engineer, the class is at its best when the party can choose their battles. And like DnD’s Ranger, a good GM will advise what Natural Terrains are most likely to matter in the adventures/campaign they have in mind so the Survivalist doesn’t end up with a near-useless choice. The bonus skills and saving throws are nice but come in a bit late, as does the 7th level healing ability whose conditions can be cured the same way by Scientists and Combat Medics with the right Plan but faster and at lower levels. As for the bonus damage, some traps that don’t deal much damage on their own can do quite a bit of damage at middle to higher levels. The “hidden board with nails to step on” is a trap in the core rules that takes 5 minutes to set up and deals only 1d4 piercing, and Land Mines come in different varieties and take a similar amount of time to set up. When paired with the right talents from a Smart Hero, they can be even deadlier: The Right Tool talent can be used to produce such mines as equipment (claymores have a Price of 2 and are detailed in this book), and while it’s not technically a Trap in game terms I can see some groups trying to make the argument that the Mastermind’s I Lured You Into Danger can qualify.

Feats provides us with 12 new Feats, not including the ones from the Special Forces Career Path. 10 of them are Multiclass Training feats for the new classes in this book, while two of them are Minor Feats. Bloodletter makes it so that whenever you crit with a slashing melee weapon, the target gains the level 2 Bleeding condition. The other Minor feat is Weapons Expertise, representing those who may not be physical paragons but are experienced with a weapon in their hands. Instead of using an ability score modifier for attack rolls, they add double their proficiency bonus, and can add their proficiency bonus to damage rolls instead of an ability score modifier. These can only apply to weapons with which they’re proficient, which in practical terms means that they add triple their proficiency bonus as their attack bonus in most circumstances.

Thoughts: These two minor feats stand at opposite ends of the power spectrum. Bloodletter is underpowered in that it only provides one ability, and it only works on a critical hit which is a 5% chance in most cases. Weapons Expertise is overpowered on account that it easily breaks bounded accuracy. While the damage bonus may not be as broken, the attack bonus is: someone with +2 Proficiency Bonus will be attacking at +6, which is doable by someone with an 18 score with that same Proficiency. At +3 someone with this feat has a +9 bonus, whereas the highest someone can hit without special abilities or talents at the same level is +8 (20 score, +3 PB). At +4 Proficiency Bonus they have a +12 to hit, and at that level the world-class duelist/sniper/etc with a 20 ability score has +9 to hit without special abilities or talents.

Clarification: Sigfried Trent in a post further down explained that the mechanical intent of Weapons Expertise isn't the triple Proficiency Bonus to attack rolls, but rather just adding it a second time.

Clarification - Weapon Expertise: The mechanicals intent is that instead of getting an ability score bonus to attack and damage, you can add your proficiency bonus a second time. Because we have a generic rule that says you can't add a given bonus more than once (which you would do if you are already proficient in the weapon) I describe it as doubling your proficiency bonus (like the skill expertise rule does). I should have added an example for it in the book to make it clear, or given a more detailed explanation, so I'll give an example now.


Example: Siggy is a Level 5 Combat Medic with a Dexterity of 8 and the Weapon Expertise Feat. They are proficient in military weapons and are firing an AK-47 rifle. Their normal Dexterity modifier is -1, and their proficiency bonus is +3. When making an attack roll with their AK, thanks to Weapon Expertise, instead of adding the -1 modifier to their proficiency bonus for a total of +2, they double their proficiency bonus for a total of +6 on the attack roll. Likewise if they hit, their damage modifier is their proficiency bonus of +3, instead of their dexterity modifier of -1.

The upshot of the feat is so that a hero without a relevant combat ability score can be almost as good at weapon attacks as someone who invests in a combat stat, but not quite since those tend to lead proficiency by about 1 or 2 modifier points.

As for the Multiclass feats, they hew to the standards in the core rules where they grant a fraction of the features and at reduced rates than someone who began in them at 1st level. Combat Engineer and Combat Medic more or less follow the Smart Hero guidelines in granting equivalent benefits of proficiency in a single smart guy skill and Plans from the class at reduced effectiveness. The Combat Scout is front-lined in granting a bunch of useful stuff for the initial Training feat, and the Advanced Training grants the Quiet Kill which is pretty crazy on account that it can be grabbed a mere 1 level later (minimum 8th level to take the feat) than the default class. Sure they can’t use it with a ranged attack, but that’s at 9th level! The Survivalist feats are similar in that they grant the bulk of that class’ abilities except for the bonus saving throw proficiencies and they have a slightly decreased bonus damage progression than a real Survivalist. The Commander Training feat is similar in granting all of the good low-level stuff for that class save the bonus +10 foot speed to teammates (that’s the Advanced Commander Training feat) or ignoring one source of disadvantage. All of the Multiclass feats save for Survivalist grant Basic and Advanced Equipment proficiency right off the bat. Survivalist grants Basic Equipment, which is rather amusing as the Tough Hero Training feat also grants this and every Tough Hero class in the core rules also does this, so it might be for the inevitable hypothetical Tough Hero class in another sourcebook that has absolutely no equipment proficiencies for whatever reason.

While normally I’d cover Equipment, this post is already pretty lengthy and the chapters coming up before the big adventure are individually short, so I’ll cover those in the next post.

Thoughts So Far: The new character creation details are operating at a higher level of power in terms of combat in comparison to a typical Everyday Heroes campaign. A lot of these cases are designed to be plausible in the context of a military style adventure. For example, Advanced Equipment covers a lot of weapons that most modern-day soldiers regularly train with, so it would feel odd to have a jarhead PC who isn’t proficient with a 9mm pistol. Similarly, in standard Everyday Heroes the Military Equipment proficiency is a rare thing: only a few Professions and Classes grant it, but in Rambo it is rather trivial to gain right out at character creation. Barring certain builds the equipment in this category is just plain better than the Basic and Advanced counterparts: the firearms deal more damage and have longer ranges, the armor has the best Armor Value, and the vast majority of explosives and mine/grenade-like weapons fall under said category.

As for the Classes, none of them look underpowered to me, and appear quite competent in their areas of expertise. In campaigns focusing on guerilla warfare they excel quite a bit. I do feel that the Combat Scout is a tad on the overpowered side, and would be loath to allow it in non-Rambo games given how much of a draw it would be to so many character concepts.

I do like the Career Path rules, and the options within look versatile enough so that soldier PCs can stand out from each other in terms of Profession options. I do feel that some of the choices are odd: while I understand that all military branches have versatile skill sets in real life, as these are the Special Forces, some of the Basic Training proficiencies feel lacking in some critical areas. Air Force Enlisted isn’t proficient with Vehicles, but an Air Force Officer is. Only Army Officers have proficiency in any kind of social/leadership skills being Insight and Persuasion, while all the other Officer branches tend towards the purely mental plus Vehicles (Air Force and Navy) or are entirely physical (Marines).

Join us next time as we cover other important details for an action movie style military campaign, such as new Equipment, Rules, and Game Master Advice!
 
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Libertad

Hero
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The last part of Chapter 2, Equipment focuses on real-world gear commonplace during the era of the first three Rambo movies. A lot of the new items are specific variations of more generic equipment from the core rules, in some cases better or worse than the default versions. Another thing to note is that high tech, cellular-based electronic devices aren’t present by default and players should avoid taking them without first talking to the GM.

We first start off with Equipment Packs, which are a collection of gear for specific roles and a corresponding Price Level for the most expensive gear present. PCs who are active military personnel don’t have to purchase their own equipment, for it is given to them by their organization or employer. The five packs are more or less designed to work with one of the new classes in this book. For example, Combat Medic gets fatigues, helmet, and combat boot for clothes, a light ballistic vest for armor, an M-16A1 rifle and 2 smoke grenades for weapons, a first-aid kit, a soldier’s kit, and “pocket stuff” which can be any inconsequential items that can plausibly fit in one’s pockets.

And speaking of the soldier’s kit, we have 4 new specialized tool kits specific to the 1980s. The Demolition Kit is all about setting off explosive charges, First-Aid Kit is self-explanatory, Soldier’s Kit can vary depending on the mission but the essentials include a variety of stuff such as a frame backpack, trench tool, notebook and pen, seven magazines of ammo, three days’ worth of rations, and more. It is by far the heaviest of the kits, coming in at 4 Bulk whereas the others are 2 to 3. The Survival Kit can vary depending on the environment but includes various outdoor stuff such as 50 feet of cord, a reusable water bottle, and tools to start a fire. Finally, the Survival Knife is a multipurpose weapon and tool that is basically Rambo’s signature knife from the movies. It has a magnetic compass on the pommel, and the guard has a Phillips screwdriver on one side and a flat screwdriver on another, and inside the hollow handle is a small survival kit full of various things such as waterproof matches and sewing needles. It is treated as a combat knife when used as a weapon, which is like the knife from the core rules but can deal either piercing or slashing damage.

We get new item properties and conditions for some increased variation, including most notably the Masterwork property which 3.5 players may recognize. For +1 to the default item’s Price Level, a masterwork melee weapon deals +1 damage while masterwork ranged weapons don’t suffer disadvantage at long range. Masterwork armor removes the Awkward property, a condition from the core rules that reduces speed by 10 feet and imposes disadvantage on Dexterity saves and Acrobatics checks.

Conditions are mostly negative properties that represent a degradation or alteration to the basic performance. For example, dropping a weapon in mud, sand, and the like can make a weapon Dirty, causing it to jam on a natural 1 on the attack roll and must be cleaned during a short rest to remove the condition. Sawed-Off is the only Condition that isn’t inherently negative; it is permanent and quarters the normal and long ranges of a firearm, but reduces its Bulk by 1 to a minimum of 1.

The new Basic Equipment includes the aforementioned Combat Knife, plus one revolver and three rifles. The Smith & Wesson Model 10 is basically a reflavored .38 Pocket Pistol but with 6 rounds, while the three rifles (SKS, SVD Dragunov, Winchester Model 88) are based off of the generic Hunting Rifle. Unlike that weapon, none of them have the Slow-Firing property, meaning they can be shot more than once per round if the wielder has the means of attacking multiple times. Only the Dragunov has more rounds than the default rifle, at 10 rather than 6, whereas the other 2 named rifles have 5 and 3 rounds.

For Advanced Equipment, we have 3 pistols, 2 rifles, and a shotgun. The Browning Hi-Power and Colt M1911 both use the same stats and are pretty much the 9mm Pistol from the core rules, but hold less rounds (15 and 14 respectively rather than the 9mm’s 21) and the Browning/Colt have a higher range at 125/250 feet rather than 100/200. The Heckler & Koch HK93A2 and M16 are both based off of the Assault Rifle (which is Military) save that they don’t have the Burst and Full-Auto properties, being Semi-Auto instead. The H&K rifle has a widely variable amount of rounds depending on its design ranging from 5 to 40.* Finally, the Remington Model 870 Shotgun is pretty much the generic Pump-Action Shotgun but with 2 less rounds at 7 instead of 9.

*Every player worth their salt is going to try to get the 40 round one.

Advanced Equipment also gets some new nifty explosives. Demolition Charges are prepackaged explosives for controlled destruction, representing plastic explosives such as C4 and Semtex. Det Cords are plastic tubes filled with pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN for short) that is a high speed fuse that explodes rather than burns. They can’t be effectively deployed during combat, but can be made as part of a trap provided the victims are adjacent to it. Finally, Explosive Arrows are a fictional piece of equipment most famously used by Rambo. They are fired like normal arrows, save that they have explosive shrapnel. The Demolition Charge deals 4d6 damage, but the Det Cord and arrows deal 3d6. Given that normal arrows are 1d10 piercing, this is a huge damage upgrade.

Improvised Equipment is extremely short, covering Dambe Hand Wraps (Nigerian combat sport using hand wraps) that can deal 1d6 bludgeoning damage or slashing if made of rope and broken glass glued to it, and a Trenching Tool which is a collapsible shovel that deals 1d6 slashing damage.

So far, all of these weapons are easily affordable, at Price Level 1 or 2 with only the Explosive Arrows being 3 for a set of 4.

The Military Equipment is where it’s at, and has the widest variety by far. There’s a bit too much to go over individually, but we got a healthy assortment of submachine guns, machine guns, rifles, grenade and rocket launchers, and even a new flamethrower weapon! This last weapon is basically a short-range weapon that deals 2d6 fire damage and ignores a target’s armor along with possibly imposing the Burning condition, and can also be used for covering fire as though it were an automatic weapon, but that pretty much depletes all 8 “rounds” it has.

As for the rest of the military weapons, they are slight variations of existing types in Everyday Heroes. The notable machine guns include the FN MAG that is basically a light machine gun but is slower to load, the M60 is a medium machine gun but with a slightly lighter Bulk of 5 instead of 6, the ever-popular AK-47 is rather unique in having the damage of a light machine gun, the weight of an assault rifle, can only be full-auto rather than burst fire, and has a variable number of rounds based on box or drum magazines. America’s favorite, the M16A1, is pretty much an Assault Rifle but also with a variable number of rounds including up to a whopping 100 with a drum magazine. The MAC-10 SMG is a hybrid between a typical SMG and a Spec Ops one, having the inferior damage and range between the two but with no burst fire. So worse in pretty much every way. The RPG-7 and M72 LAW Rocket Launchers have the same stats as a typical Rocket Launcher, but are cheaper to acquire at Price Level 4 instead of 5. They both load their own type of rockets and the M72 is a “fire and forget” system in the weapon itself being unable to be reloaded.

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We get a bunch of new integrated vehicle weapons, or weapons that are an essential part of a vehicle and thus can’t be removed. The core rules only have 4 such weapons, so this is a real treat. As is to be expected, they are very long-range damaging equipment that tend to either fire once before needing to be reloaded or are belt-felt, and include a variety of tank artillery guns, automatic weapons such as anti-aircraft guns and miniguns, and a mortar and rocket pod. The least damaging of them are the GE M134 Minigun and PKT Coaxial Machine Gun (both at 2d8) but the most powerful is the UB-S-5 Rocket Pod dealing 10d6 damage and also has the furthest range at 2 miles while also having 16 or 32 uses before needing to be restocked. The weapon descriptions also say what vehicles they are typically built into, several of which are written up at the end of this chapter. Most of the vehicles are variations of the ones from the Core Rules, being specific US or Soviet models and tend to have lower values than their modern-day counterparts. We do get some new air vehicles which have no clear approximations to core ones, such as the Mi-24D Hind which is a Soviet military helicopter equipped with a gatling gun and rocket pods, or the UH-1 Iroquois Huey combat helicopter of the US which can be fitted with a wide range of integrated weapons.

For military explosives, we have the Claymore which is a new type of set explosive, and the 40mm flechette rounds are designed to be loaded into grenade launchers. Both of these explosives blow up in 30 foot cones, an AoE that the default mines in Everyday Heroes don’t have, and the flechette deals ballistic rather than explosive damage. Finally, the M69 Body Armor is akin to the core rule’s Ballistic Vest save that its Armor Value is 3 instead of 4 and has the Awkward property. The in-game description even notes that they were used in Vietnam and not strongly effective due to discomfort in tropical environments and being disliked by soldiers.

This section rounds out with three new pieces of general gear: glow sticks, trenching tools (advantage on Athletics checks to construct earthworks), and combat pharmaceuticals. The latter being experimental combat drugs in the 1970s and 80s. The book says to use the Combat Medic’s Just Take This talent as guidelines, but use the optional Drug Rules from the corebook outside of the context particularly for addiction.

Thoughts: While I do like the plethora of period-appropriate equipment, some of it does feel like padding in being too similar to existing types in the core rules. And even PCs who aren’t min-maxers are going to gravitate to getting their hands on the most ideal equipment, meaning that unless the GM is stringent on what kinds of gear they have access to in missions, quite a bit of material may get passed over. In such a case, it may be more appropriate as the kinds of things that NPCs may have.

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This very short chapter mentions that Everyday Heroes on its own has enough material to emulate the kinds of action-adventure scenarios as seen in the Rambo movies, so the new rules are designed to further enhance such games. The first rule is Graded Challenges, where instead of binary success or failures there are guidelines given for various degrees being 5 or 10 points higher/lower than the base DC. This rule is a general guideline, and it’s up to the GM when to use them in play rather than a universal mechanic. The second rule is for Demolitions, where a building, bridge, or other such structure can be destroyed. We have a table of Necessary Charges based on the relative size of the object/building to be destroyed, and the demolitionist rolls Intelligence (Mechanics) for most cases or Intelligence (Natural Science) as an alternative. The DC is usually 15, and the result is a Graded Challenge determining how effective and controlled the explosion is. Collapsing Buildings is the immediate followup, a new hazard where victims must make two separate saving throws to avoid taking damage from debris and being trapped by it, with the DC and damage determined by the size of the collapsing building. Burning Buildings basically combines suffocation and visibility rules from the core plus the risk of fire damage, where even just being near fire can deal damage and risk the Burning condition. Crewed Vehicles are for vehicles which require multiple people to efficiently operate, with a list of roles such as Gunner/Loader who can reload the integrated weapons or Co-Pilot who can either take over piloting directly or give the Pilot the Help action on certain checks. Vehicle Certifications is an optional rule for added realism where certain vehicles requiring training to operate (tank, jet fighter, etc) require their own proficiencies, and can be basically learned whenever you’d learn a new skill.

The Bleeding Condition has been mentioned in the prior post. Fortifications are basically the reverse of Traps, where characters can create objects and changes in terrain with the right materials and setup time, and in some cases a DC for more involved projects. Arts and Crafts or Mechanics are the most common such skills for checks. Fortifications include quite the variety, such as decoys who look like a person from a distance or poor visibility and can fool people via an opposed Perception vs Deception or Arts and Crafts, Foxholes/Spider Holes that can grant cover but require 10 feet of movement to leave, and Watchtowers that can provide advantage on Perception checks to those up top. Traps aren’t a new rule so much as additional kinds on top of the ones in the core rules, with suggestions for the PCs to come up with their own traps and using the existing ones as guidelines. Grenade traps, minefields, rockfalls, and spring spikes are the new ones we get. Last but not least, Lures are an open-ended rule where PCs roll a Deception check opposed by an enemy’s Intelligence save; a success on the PC’s part creates a good lure and grants advantage on checks for setting the traps, but a failure makes it a bad one and gives disadvantage on the check. As usual, the GM can use discretion based on in-game actions to know if the lure would be automatically good or bad, foregoing the need for rolls.

Thoughts: Of the new rules, I’m most fond of the ones for Traps, Fortifications, and Lures, and Demolitions is a good one too as they all cover things most PCs will try in actual play. I don’t have strong opinions on graded challenges due to their briefness, nor the building hazards or crewed vehicles. But I’d rather the latter rules be there, given the commonality of their use and they individually don’t take up much room; the crewed vehicles rule in particular is good in giving PCs various things to do besides being pilot/gunner, so it gets points for that. I am not very fond of vehicle specializations given that skill proficiencies are precious and the aforementioned vehicles are quite situational in use. How often will a PC get to fly a fighter jet in most sessions, for example? At least the book notes that it’s optional and only for more “realistic” campaigns, for even Rambo could pilot a variety of engines of destruction!

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The first third of this book involved hard and fast rules, so this is where we help the GM make their Rambo-inspired military campaigns. We first start off with Themes, which more or less do run-downs of what makes the series different from other action-adventures. They include things such as the GM focusing on putting the PCs on missions where they’re in isolated locations without access to outside resources in order to emulate the guerilla warfare feeling, the suggestion of using plot twists of government corruption that comes at the expense of soldiers,* finding ways of inserting the questions of patriotism and fighting for one’s country as means of giving the PCs ways to express how they feel about it one way or another, and of course the use of explosions to spice things up a bit. In typical action movie fashion, said explosives don’t have to threaten the heroes or enemies directly, but can “simply be for the sheer fun of it!”

*The book says to use this sparingly to avoid it becoming too predictable, and it doesn’t have to involve direct betrayal but things such as being poorly supplied or informed.

There’s also discussion of less conventional adventure types: many aspects of guerilla warfare involve mobile operatives keeping out of reach of a larger force, whereas in most 5e campaigns it is the PCs who are searching for an enemy/dungeon/etc. The book explains that such a set-up can be challenging, so it suggests a kind of sandbox where the GM provides the players the map of an area with points of interest, knowing that PCs will naturally gravitate to areas in line with their mission objective or that can give them ideal resources. This lets the GM plan out encounters in advance and how the pursuers would approach such locations. Additionally, for adventures necessitating a stealthy approach, a variety of skills beyond Stealth are suggested for keeping off the enemy’s radar, and that a single failed check shouldn’t cause a full alert/failed mission/catastrophe. Instead, the book suggests scaling “Alert Levels” from 0 to 5, and each mistake and less-than-ideal situation raises the Alert Level. At 5 the infiltration is a failure and the PCs have to go in loud, if at all. Conversely, the Alert Level can be lowered based on circumstances, usually by the PCs coming up with a clever plan. A similar outline is given to Large-Scale Battles, where Everyday Heroes isn’t designed to be a wargame with dozens if not hundreds of fighting forces, instead encouraging the use of specific goals for PCs to do to turn the tide of battle like blowing up a key fortification or assassinating an enemy leader. Stray bullets, explosions, and other such “random” attacks can be simulated as hazards where an unmodified d20 on a 1-5 result causes a character to get targeted by enemy fire.

Real-World Conflicts goes over the benefits and pitfalls of using such material in gaming sessions, and pretty much run the gamut of what you can expect: benefits being ample access to research material about them, and pitfalls being things like the fact that wars are tragic events and that one must cross a fine line between reality and fantasy for enjoyable game nights, and of course the inevitable political sensibilities in the events that players aren’t on the same page of who was the “good guy” in such battles, or if there were any “good guys” at all. The last section in this chapter gives Adventure Ideas, or short adventure or campaign hooks, such as being part of a special operations team to rescue diplomats during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, infiltrating a drug cartel’s compound to rescue a DEA agent, or helping a group of refugees and aid workers in Angola escape a combat zone.

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We even have new rules in this section! The first one is Cannon Fodder, which are basically the Minion rules from 4th Edition where an enemy is defeated if they take any damage from the PC, with variants such as Elite Fodder that require taking damage twice to be defeated and Useless Fodder who only do the minimum amount of damage on attacks. The variant rule suggests that this shouldn’t be used for all NPCs and to be cautious that PCs who catch on to this may alter their tactics. The book suggests that GMs have ways of mitigating this, such as not telling who counts as Fodder or mixing a normal NPC into the forces who can take a few hits. Cannon Fodder is most appropriate for NPCs with the Fodder role, and it defeats the purpose for Loner and Hulk types to have it. As this drastically affects combat balance, NPCs with the Cannon Fodder template are treated as two steps lower on the Challenge Rating scale for determining encounter balance.

Interrogation and Torture is our next rule, and the book stresses that it should be used with caution as a torture scene in a tabletop game is different than one in a movie where the player/viewer is a passive observer. Additionally, it is something that is the field of “bad guy” behavior so it’s only something that the enemies do in an authentic Rambo-style military fantasy. For rules, torture and interrogation is a contested roll where the player has some autonomy in deciding how their PC can best resist (sheer fortitude, cleverness, etc), and should a PC lose the contest the GM doesn’t just go “you break and give in” but asks the player how their character breaks under the strain. This way, it is the PC that feels helpless rather than the player. For PCs who interrogate NPCs, the book says that there are cases where the PCs will understandably want to get information from an enemy, but that torture can be uncomfortable for the GM as well and also shouldn’t create scenarios where that’s the only means of obtaining said information. Usually a social skill check on the part of PCs resisted by an NPC’s saving throw is sufficient, but also NPCs can spill the beans which the book says as a “win-win for everyone involved.” At the table, presumably, and not for the captured foe who has to deal with revealing valuable intel!

Finally, the Morale rule is another one borrowed from Dungeons & Dragons, specifically the TSR-era of old-school Editions. Basically it’s a way of determining a character’s fighting spirit and their willingness to stay on the battlefield. While it can apply to PCs, the book suggests using it only for NPCs the majority of the time and that certain “big name” characters such as main antagonists shouldn’t have to roll for it. Generally speaking it’s a saving throw, using an ability score of a PC’s primary class (such as Dexterity for Agile Heroes) or in the case of an NPC the one in which they’re highest or the modifier used by the leader of their fighting forces. Any talent or effect that modifiers saves vs the Frightened condition also applies to Morale. A Morale saving throw is triggered by a variety of events, and we have a sample table of DCs for common events such as an ally being killed, taking damage equal to half your maximum hit points in one attack, suffering a critical hit, your leader being killed, etc. Failing the save causes a character to be Frightened of both the battle and all of their opponents, and a natural 1 causes them to be Stunned for 1 turn as well. Once Frightened, a character can take an Action to try and overcome their fear, rolling a new save but with a DC of 10.

Thoughts: I feel that the general-purpose advice and suggestions are solid, particularly for the unconventional adventure types engendered by guerilla warfare, and I do like their rationales for when and how to include interrogation and torture and its relative appropriateness for the table. I do like the concept of Morale in principle, but for encounters with a large amount of characters I can see it bogging down play. As for Cannon Fodder, I do like the idea in principle as by the conventional 5e rules all but the lowest-rated CR enemies are able to take at least one hit from conventional firearms, so something to best emulate Rambo’s rampage of destruction in the 2nd and later movies is needed without the GM making everyone CR ⅛ baddies with less than 10 hit points. It’s not just for overt violence, either; the ever-popular trope of “sneak up to an enemy soldier and snipe their head/slit their throat/knock them out” can be easily done with this, which the book does briefly mention. However, not telegraphing who is Fodder may be a double-edged sword; turning it into a guessing game may cause players to be overly cautious and not try to kill anyone in the aforementioned infiltration scenarios. unless they’re absolutely sure that initiative is going to be rolled. For more overt action, it may cause PCs to be more selective with AoE stuff like suppressive fire and explosions until they’re sure they know who the “normal enemy” targets are, which can make some tactical sense but runs counter to the reckless run and gun the Rambo sequels are known for.

Thoughts So Far: It would be all too easy for other sourcebooks to just default to GM Fiat or referencing the core rules, but these chapters did a good job of covering the more likely cases where such things need necessary expansion. There’s quite an amount of emphasis on environmental tactics and alterations, which I do like and helps add variety to encounters to avoid growing stale, but putting them in the hands of PCs in particular is great in encouraging creativity and clever play.

Join us next time as we cover the adventure in this Book, Rambo: Flesh & Blood!
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Interesting - so I could run a party based on the A-Team with these rules? Or do a John Rambo v John Matrix stand off?
And would the Combat Engineercover characters like MacGyver or Mr T rigging a pumpkin canon?

Also how is the First Blood story reflected in the rules?
 


MGibster

Legend
It's been almost 42 years since the original Rambo was released, and I'm really wondering if there's a decent sized audience for the franchise? On the other hand, Blade Runner is about the same age and they released a game for that recently. And it's darned good too. This Rambo game looks pretty good as well. I hope Everyday Heroes does well. I'll have to look into it.
 

sigfried

Adventurer
Interesting - so I could run a party based on the A-Team with these rules? Or do a John Rambo v John Matrix stand off?
And would the Combat Engineercover characters like MacGyver or Mr T rigging a pumpkin canon?

Also how is the First Blood story reflected in the rules?
You can defiantly do A-Team, though the Everyday Heroes Core Rules are even more focused on broad action like A-Team than the Rambo supplement is. You can find a few A-Team easter eggs in the core rule book as it was one of my main inspirations for some of the mechanics and classes.

Our Cinematic Adventures don't cover the plots/stories of the films in detail. We are more aiming to give you to tools to play in the world of the film. So basically anything Rambo does in the first three films, is represented somewhere in the rules. The Survivalist Class has all the types of things Rambo does when on the run in First Blood and is modeled on that portrayal. (Rambo, as written in this rule book, is a Commando (A military themed class from the core rule book) that multiclass with Survivor (from the Rambo book). Also, all the weapons he uses and the training he demonstrates is represented somewhere in the Rambo Cinematic Adventure.
 

sigfried

Adventurer
Hay, I was excited to see you'd reviewed Rambo! I love reading all the detailed analysis and description. I'm always blown away by the depth of your reviews!

I figured I'd chime in and answer a couple of questions and offer one clarification.

Clarification - Weapon Expertise: The mechanicals intent is that instead of getting an ability score bonus to attack and damage, you can add your proficiency bonus a second time. Because we have a generic rule that says you can't add a given bonus more than once (which you would do if you are already proficient in the weapon) I describe it as doubling your proficiency bonus (like the skill expertise rule does). I should have added an example for it in the book to make it clear, or given a more detailed explanation, so I'll give an example now.

Example: Siggy is a Level 5 Combat Medic with a Dexterity of 8 and the Weapon Expertise Feat. They are proficient in military weapons and are firing an AK-47 rifle. Their normal Dexterity modifier is -1, and their proficiency bonus is +3. When making an attack roll with their AK, thanks to Weapon Expertise, instead of adding the -1 modifier to their proficiency bonus for a total of +2, they double their proficiency bonus for a total of +6 on the attack roll. Likewise if they hit, their damage modifier is their proficiency bonus of +3, instead of their dexterity modifier of -1.

The upshot of the feat is so that a hero without a relevant combat ability score can be almost as good at weapon attacks as someone who invests in a combat stat, but not quite since those tend to lead proficiency by about 1 or 2 modifier points.

Explanation - profession point values: I extoll your keen eye and dedication to checking the balance on these. The reason they are often .5 points higher is that for Rambo I changed the "value" of Military Equipment Proficiency from 1pt to .5pts. This is largely because it Rambo (as you observed) it is far more commonplace than in the EDH core rule book. Because it was so common, it was hard to balance it and still include a realistic feeling number of skill proficiencies in the professions. After a year of observing the game in action, we may adjust it permanently as a guideline in the future and also allow replacement picks for doubling up on equipment proficiencies.

Explanation - Air force and Vehicle proficiency: The reason enlisted Airforce don't get the vehicle skill is a nod to the fact that, by and large, all pilots are officers. It's possible to enlist and become a pilot, but you become an officer in the process of doing so (and its rare from what I read in my research). It was an interesting challenge trying to get the career path options to line up on the point system but also include the details I learned doing research for it. The system needed to feel asymmetrical but have all the paths end up at the same value.

Note - Equipment: The specific lists of equipment was 90% informed by equipment that appears in the films. We didn't include everything since many weapons are functionally the same as others, at least at the level that our game can represent. That said, there are defiantly a few that were iconic enough that they vary only in the actual ammunition counts, which tend to be lower on a given weapon type, the further you go back. It's another balancing thing where we want to have that strong feeling of covering the films in some detail, but also try to make it as valuable for game play as we can. Those two goals sometimes fight against one another. :)
 

Libertad

Hero
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Taking up about half of the book’s page count, Rambo: Flesh & Blood is an adventure suited for 4-5 PCs of 2nd level. It can be played as a sequel to the free adventure, Rambo: Jabbok Creek, which ended with their old commanding officer offering to recruit them as part of an elite and unconventional team.

The synopsis of Flesh & Blood involves a high-ranking officer, Colonel Barrigan, giving the PCs a mission to extract a mole from a drug cartel in Panama hours before said country is invaded by the United States. The mole is in fact Colonel Barrigan’s brother, who had no authority to conduct the mission on behalf of the United States. On the contrary, he is seeking to rescue his brother to avoid them both being implicated for their ties to said cartel. But Barrigan’s brother can still be of use, for he can be used to track down a Panamanian politician with Soviet ties hoping to use the US invasion as a means of shifting the country over to Russian influence. The adventure is lengthy enough that PCs who complete it will level up, and the book also suggests doing it earlier at the end of Act II instead should the GM want to have them progress during the adventure itself.

Flesh & Blood is split into 4 Acts with 19 Encounters, and time is a key part of this adventure. The PCs are dropped into Panama at 1900 hours, and various events are contingent on the time passed and whose circumstances can be altered if the PCs take too long. Just about every encounter of significance has a suggested amount of in-game time that passes based on PC actions. Not all Encounters have to be completed or done in order, so while it’s not what I’d call a true sandbox or hexcrawl the writers did try to give the PCs some wiggle room and variation to allow for a sense of autonomy and reaction. Additionally, the PCs risk exhaustion levels every hour they operate on foot, where they must succeed on DC 8 Endurance checks that start out low but increase by 1 each time they make the save and reset on a failure. PCs who go for eight hours without food or four hours without water suffer disadvantage on said checks.

Finally, Panama City and its surrounding environs have 4 stages of Alert Levels, where parties who are violent and/or unsubtle will put the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF for short) on edge, which can cause additional waves of armed personnel ranging from police officers to soldiers to come onto the scene anywhere from several rounds to several minutes after sounds of gunfire and explosions. Police and even SWAT officers will be on patrol at major intersections as the Alert Level rises, too. The NPCs for the Levels all use stat blocks from the core rules, but needless to say they have better stats and equipment at higher Alert Levels. That being said, even at Alert Level 1 the NPCs who arrive are still pretty deadly for 2nd level PCs: specifically they are 6 SWAT Officers, who are CR 3 characters with 39 hit points each, ballistic vests with Armor Value of 4 vs ballistic weapons only, and can multiattack with either their nightsticks that don’t do much damage or their shotguns which do a lot more. Each one has one flashbang and one smoke grenade, so this adventure highly encourages PCs to vacate the scenes of crimes rather than stick around. They do have 2 minutes before the SWAT team arrives, which is pretty generous in being 20 rounds in combat terms.

The PDF is aware that the US is planning to invade, so a lot of personnel are on standby to guard against the larger force and thus PCs who do vacate the premises of an encounter don’t have to worry about being constantly hounded for the rest of the adventure. Once the US invades, the Alert Level shoots up to 4 if it wasn’t already there. The other major recurring threat PCs may have to deal with are the Batallon de la Dignidad, Dignity Battalions in English and nicknamed Dingbats by their detractors.* Dingbats are a paramilitary force formed by Noriega to crack down on political dissidents and to supplement conventional military forces. They operate primarily in rural areas and are drawn from civil servants and convicts promised reduced sentencing, so they’re not as well-equipped as the soldiers or police. Albeit at higher Alert Levels, one of them may have a rocket launcher which they’ll try to use against the vehicles PCs are in. PCs mostly encounter them in the areas outside the city, and their stat blocks are easier to deal with on account of their lack of armor, lower hit points, and will flee once any of their allies are killed or knocked out during combat.

*The book refers to them as Digbats for short, but I like Dingbat because it’s funnier so that’s the one I’ll use for this review.

Last but not least, there’s also the native wildlife. PCs who take a rest in a wilderness area trigger an encounter on a 1-3 on a d20. Animal-based encounters are drawn from a random table, and while a few animals are dangerous enough to require rolling initiative in straightforward combat such as boars and jaguars, they can also be more akin to hazards such as leeches that can impose exhaustion levels, packs of howler monkeys who will attempt to swarm the PCs and make off with equipment, and venomous snakes and insects that can damage and poison characters.

Act I: Insertion begins with the PCs meeting a special operations lieutenant by the name of Sandy in a Costa Rican airfield. He explains in the briefing that the US government is planning to initiate Operation Just Cause, aka the invasion of Panama to overthrow the dictator Manuel Noriega. However, not all of their agents involved in the drug war have been extracted, and an agent codenamed Botella (in reality Larry Barrigan) is a mole planted in a large cartel known as the Escorpiones Negros (Black Scorpions). The PCs’ mission is to board a Chinook helicopter headed for Panama City, find Botella using local sources while posing as civilians, and get him out of the city before the invasion. Once that’s done, Botella will provide them with their second objective: to take out a drug cartel known as the Familia Duerendez. The PCs are given two leads for their mission, one at the Geco Lounge and the other via Scappa Cigarruista, an importer/exporter at the warehouse. But the latter contact is mentioned as being untrustworthy and can’t be relied upon for backup or more significant help.

The PCs are given gear for their mission, with a variety of weapons from suppressed pistols and submachine guns to a shotgun and sniper rifle, fake passports, walkie-talkies, and backpacks full of hiking and outdoor survival gear among other things. The non-weapons gear is completely plausible for hiker tourists in the country, but the heavier weapons such as the shotgun and sniper rifle need to be concealed. There are times during the module where the PCs will need to roll a Sleight of Hand vs the Perception checks of other characters to avoid such weapons being spotted and blowing their cover.

Lieutenant Sandy will board the Chinook with the PCs, and the flight to Panama turns south when a bird collides with the aircraft, causing it to go into freefall over the jungle. The PCs must perform a skill challenge as they evacuate the crashing helicopter, where failed checks can cause them to lose randomly-determined pieces of gear along with possible injuries, and the PCs can use skill checks to rescue the flight engineer and co-pilot (pilot is dead) before the helicopter explodes. As though things weren’t bad enough, a pair of husband and wife farmers known as the de Jorges come out to investigate. The PCs can use checks to avoid them or talk their way out of trouble, but if that doesn’t work then the man will attack with a rusty shotgun. As he’s not trained with it and requires an action to reload, it shouldn’t be hard for even low-level PCs to overcome him. If the party sweet-talks the farmers, they will be taken to their farm, or they can find it on their way to Panama City. A truck is conveniently located on the property, and Lt. Sandy will tell unobservant PCs that the vehicle is their best chance at making it to the city in time. He and the surviving flight crew will remain on the farm to stand by for an eventual rescue. PCs will encounter a trio of Panamanian soldiers maintaining a checkpoint along the road and can use various means of bypassing them. Should combat occur, PCs can salvage their equipment and their van along with its contents, as well as find a wanted poster for a murder suspect known as Larry Barrigan.

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Once the PCs get into Panama City, their vehicle inconveniently breaks down in the middle of traffic, drawing attention as angry motorists honk and shout. Police officers will arrive on the scene, and the skill checks to avoid suspicion are very easy on account that the authorities don’t expect American commandos or invading soldiers to be so obvious. While in the city the PCs can run across a group of fellow special forces soldiers in an alleyway, initially tasked with retrieving documents from the US Embassy but get injured in the process. The PCs who help them get to a covert hospital treating American operatives will earn their gratitude, where they tell the PCs that they can find them and the rest of their unit at the Grand Majestic Casino. The first contact area to visit in Panama City is the Geco Lounge, a multipurpose bar and restaurant. Local police are there, including the ones who were encountered during the traffic jam. Unless the PCs sneak in back there will be trouble, for the locals don’t like “Yanquis” and will harass the party. In the case of the police, if they recognize the PCs they don’t believe in coincidences and will attempt to arrest them. A pair of people in the kitchen in back are the PC’s main means of locating Botella/Larry: a Black Scorpions member named Ronaldo and Lia who is Larry’s lover, both of who are displeased with Larry for different reasons. Ronaldo is unhappy because Larry shot a Familia Duerendez cartel member, which will bring a bunch of heat down on him, and Lia feels betrayed that Larry left her in town to fend for herself. The PCs can learn that Botella’s real name is Larry Barrigan and find the names and locations of two of his safehouses outside town.

Before leaving town, the PCs will need to get another vehicle, and they have multiple avenues: the first is stealing a car, albeit that can trigger an encounter from its owner, Chaime Bigotes, who is a local civilian fed up with the corruption in his country and a carjacking will be his last straw. He has his own unique stats and primarily fights with a shotgun and baseball bat, the latter of which he can use with a unique ability where anyone who moves into reach of him provokes an opportunity attack. As usual, gunshots can attract the attention of PDF soldiers and cops. Otherwise, the PCs can get a vehicle from their contact at the docks, who is actually being held hostage by six Dingbats. If rescued he will give the PCs a van that contains a PKM machine gun along with some food and water for rations. The other location is the Grand Majestic Casino where they can rendezvous with the other American special forces. There’s quite a few NPCs the party can interact with here, such as the casino boss who can tell the PCs that the PDF are also hunting for Larry and where to find one of his safehouses should they make a good enough impression via skill checks, locals who can tell the PCs more about the cartels, Larry Barrigan,* and the PDF. Then there are the American special forces who can give the PCs a Ford Bronco.

*The highest skill check result can eliminate one of Larry’s hideouts as a false lead.

But of greatest interest to the PCs is the person among the special forces soldiers: the one and only John Rambo! Initially lost in his own thoughts, he will be quiet but respectful should the PCs approach, eventually giving them some advice after listening to them talk:

“You just gotta do what’s in front of you, you know? The old men at home, they fly you out here, they put a gun in your hands, and they tell you to kill. You just gotta do it. That’s what we are, you and me, all of us here, we’re killers. You just gotta trust that somebody, somewhere, knows what the hell is going on. Maybe we shouldn’t be here. Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this. But at the end of the day, what else can we do? This is who we are.”

A PC who makes a particularly good impression on Rambo will have him give his signature bowie knife to them, saying they will need it more than he does.

So what happens if the PCs are still in Panama City when the invasion begins? Well they will hear the telltale signs of aircraft to the east followed by a plume of flame lighting the sky followed by an explosion. An encounter will occur as the PCs are on a street, caught in the crossfire between American and Panamanian soldiers. Both sides will presume the PCs to be enemy soldiers should they be obviously packing heat and use Suppressive Fire,* although a Deception or Persuasion check can convince one of the sides that the PCs are allies. This will earn them a reprieve from that side but cause the other to become permanently hostile. PCs who don’t look like combatants will have the soldiers presume them to be civilians and will try to avoid attacking them. Stray explosions will kill and seriously wound several US soldiers three rounds into combat, and PCs can be caught in a moral dilemma on whether to safeguard them until backup arrives (takes 2 hours) or leave them. PCs can help the soldiers’ odds of survival via Medicine checks and moving them into a nearby house for cover.

*An action type in Everyday Heroes where you expend multiple rounds of ammo to cover an AoE space for a round. Burst fire and fully automatic weapons have a larger AoE but consume more ammo.

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Act II: Jungle Work takes place when the PCs leave Panama City to hunt down Larry Barrigan. Along the way they can trigger a few encounters, such as meeting a foreign botanist whose car broke down and is secretly working for the Familia Duerendez cartel to grow a particularly resilient strains of cocoa plant, or a sunken party boat which contains crocodiles in hiding plus a pack of Emergency Supplies whose only useful contents is a first-aid kit. The village of Nueva Bennto is one of Larry’s two safehouses and a dead lead as he is not there. Instead, several thugs for the Familia Duerendez cartel are also looking for Larry. It is possible that the PCs can initially trick or otherwise convince them to otherwise help each other out. However, the local accountant who is handling the cartel’s money happens to recognize the PC from past encounters* and angrily points them out, causing a fight to break out. The accountant uses Civilian stats and is practically a noncombatant, but the PCs can be fighting 8 or 9 NPCs, with the ninth potentially being the botanist they encountered earlier. The leader of the gang, Emilio Duerendez, has unique stats and can use a bonus action to nominate an enemy where all attacks have advantage against them until the beginning of Emilio’s next turn. The rest of the NPCs are a mixture of Heavies (high HP guys with light machine guns and matapuerco [serpentine wood] that is a melee attack that can Stun), Sicarios (higher Defense nimble guys who attack with pistols and can Disengage as a bonus action), and Halcones (youths and initiates who are weak and only equipped with knives who will attack downed opponents). This can be a pretty tough battle due to numbers and action economy, but there are oil drums which have a chance to explode (5-6 on a d6) dealing AoE fire damage if shot, and if Emilio is killed the rest of the cartel members will be more likely to flee or surrender if the encounter starts going against them.

*The specifics of which depend on prior adventures and/or backstories as per GM discretion.

Larry Barrigan’s real location is a shack at the top of a mountain summit. Their vehicle risks getting stuck in mud while going up via a unique encounter, and there are hairpin zig-zag roads which a group of Dingbats are located on in hopes of ambushing the PCs. If the PCs arrive in time they will find Larry in his Cabin, albeit under guard of the PDF. If the PCs are too late, the soldiers and Larry will be gone. The soldiers are Dingbats led by Zifar Balbosa, an NPC with unique stats who has a bandolier of WW2-era grenades. He proudly inherited them from his father’s, who due to their age aren’t entirely reliable and have a d6 table of random effects ranging from duds to delayed explosions to variable damage.

Regardless of where or not the PCs manage to find and extract Barrigan, a group of US soldiers appear on the scene, beginning Act III.

Thoughts So Far: I like the premise of this adventure and its mixture of investigation, wilderness survival, and combat in tracking down the supposed mole. The variety in possible encounters based on PC actions and the variable time limit does much to prevent the adventure from feeling like a railroad and encourages players not to dilly-dally or camp in place. I will say that the adventure is closer in line to Rambo: First Blood than the later movies, in that PCs who go in loud risk biting off more than they can chew, particularly in Panama City. Being 2nd level they aren’t exactly bursting with hit points, and it is possible for a character to get downed easily in combat if the enemies get in lucky hits or focus fire. On the other hand, several encounters don’t necessarily cause potential enemies to attack on sight, and there are various means of non-violently bypassing them which mitigates this concern. But given that the mental image a lot of people have when it comes to Rambo is a super-soldier effortlessly mowing down hordes of bad guys unscathed, it is something that the GM needs to take into account and perhaps communicate to the players to avoid a TPK from reckless behavior.

Join us next time as we finish up the adventure and this book!
 

Libertad

Hero
Hay, I was excited to see you'd reviewed Rambo! I love reading all the detailed analysis and description. I'm always blown away by the depth of your reviews!

I figured I'd chime in and answer a couple of questions and offer one clarification.

Clarification - Weapon Expertise: The mechanicals intent is that instead of getting an ability score bonus to attack and damage, you can add your proficiency bonus a second time. Because we have a generic rule that says you can't add a given bonus more than once (which you would do if you are already proficient in the weapon) I describe it as doubling your proficiency bonus (like the skill expertise rule does). I should have added an example for it in the book to make it clear, or given a more detailed explanation, so I'll give an example now.

Example: Siggy is a Level 5 Combat Medic with a Dexterity of 8 and the Weapon Expertise Feat. They are proficient in military weapons and are firing an AK-47 rifle. Their normal Dexterity modifier is -1, and their proficiency bonus is +3. When making an attack roll with their AK, thanks to Weapon Expertise, instead of adding the -1 modifier to their proficiency bonus for a total of +2, they double their proficiency bonus for a total of +6 on the attack roll. Likewise if they hit, their damage modifier is their proficiency bonus of +3, instead of their dexterity modifier of -1.

The upshot of the feat is so that a hero without a relevant combat ability score can be almost as good at weapon attacks as someone who invests in a combat stat, but not quite since those tend to lead proficiency by about 1 or 2 modifier points.

Explanation - profession point values: I extoll your keen eye and dedication to checking the balance on these. The reason they are often .5 points higher is that for Rambo I changed the "value" of Military Equipment Proficiency from 1pt to .5pts. This is largely because it Rambo (as you observed) it is far more commonplace than in the EDH core rule book. Because it was so common, it was hard to balance it and still include a realistic feeling number of skill proficiencies in the professions. After a year of observing the game in action, we may adjust it permanently as a guideline in the future and also allow replacement picks for doubling up on equipment proficiencies.

Explanation - Air force and Vehicle proficiency: The reason enlisted Airforce don't get the vehicle skill is a nod to the fact that, by and large, all pilots are officers. It's possible to enlist and become a pilot, but you become an officer in the process of doing so (and its rare from what I read in my research). It was an interesting challenge trying to get the career path options to line up on the point system but also include the details I learned doing research for it. The system needed to feel asymmetrical but have all the paths end up at the same value.

Note - Equipment: The specific lists of equipment was 90% informed by equipment that appears in the films. We didn't include everything since many weapons are functionally the same as others, at least at the level that our game can represent. That said, there are defiantly a few that were iconic enough that they vary only in the actual ammunition counts, which tend to be lower on a given weapon type, the further you go back. It's another balancing thing where we want to have that strong feeling of covering the films in some detail, but also try to make it as valuable for game play as we can. Those two goals sometimes fight against one another. :)

Thank you very much for the clarifications and explanations of the design decisions in this book! I'll include the Weapons Expertise clarification in the prior post. On the subject of equipment and PC options, I can understand the desire between achieving the right line between balance and inclusion of iconic options and equipment, as it's a fine line that is hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution.
 

Sparky McDibben

Adventurer
I've been consistently impressed with Everyday Heroes' approach to design, although they do get a bit condition-happy. However, the system of using Fortifications as reverse-Traps sounds awesome, and I like how they approach the genre. For me, the best parts of any Rambo film are watching him MacGuyver his way out of impossible situations.

Rambo: First Blood is also a great film to adapt to an RPG because it's about 115 minutes of action with about 5 minutes of hard-hitting character work. "Nothing is over!"

I am curious how this work will overlap with Everyday Heroes' announced military sourcebook, since it seems they cover broadly similar topics.

As always, Libertad, thanks for the fantastic review!!!
 

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