Red Lasers! Blue Lasers! Freedom!

The Kickstarter for Freedom Squadron, a Savage Worlds-powered homage to 1980s cartoon action heroes, is in its final days. Inspired by G.I. Joe, Transformers, and their 80s brethren, Freedom Squadron‘s campaign looks to fund two setting books: the Commando’s Manual, which is the character-building book, and the Freedom Squadron Plans & Operations Manual, which is the game master’s mission-planning book.

They’re complemented by the Plans & Operations Deck, which is used to help randomly generate missions. As Savage Worlds fans might expect, the setting requires use of the Savage Worlds core rule book (Amazon / Pinnacle) to play.

Freedom Squadron is based on the world created for Venom Assault, SpyGlass Games’ board game in which players confront VENOM, a villainous organization that’s successfully manipulated world events for decades. By 2050 they’ve caused World War III as well as numerous other calamities, and of course someone has to rise up to fight back the chaos. Those people belong to Freedom Squadron, an elite team of soldiers who aim to stop VENOM once and for all.

The Savage Worlds-setting is being designed by Sean Patrick Fannon of Evil Beagle Games. Fannon’s did the heavy lifting for Savage Rifts and is likely best known for his Shaintarfantasy setting for Savage Worlds.

The kickstarter’s already reached it’s $8,000 goal. With five days to go it’s raised over $27,000 and has 472. There are a number of stretch goals yet to be unlocked, including books such as Friends/Foes Manual at $52,000, the Carnage Corps at $57,000 and Advanced Technology Manual at $70,000. Those goals seem like a pretty big reach, but even with just the core setting books Freedom Squadron looks exceedingly cool.

Several members of my gaming group have kicked around the idea of running a Savage Worlds-powered G.I. Joe one-shot, but we never found the right set of rules for it. These could be the rules we’ve been looking for.

Of Vocations and Specializations

Freedom Squadron takes a page from Savage Rifts and introduces “Vocation Frameworks”, which represent advanced training that your classic G.I. Joe character would have received and are represented by additional skills and abilities. These augment the usual character building process, so I’m guessing they should be pleasantly overpowered relative to regular characters (and thus, very much in keeping with G.I. Joe). It’s also got new edges (some of which I intend to steal for my next Savage Stargate game) and a Gear Point system (presumably used for building out your character’s mission gear).

Schemes within Schemes

Perhaps the thing I’m most interested in is the The Freedom Squadron Plans & Operations Manual. The kickstarter page summarizes it like this:

  • This special set of rules is designed to integrate the planning stage of a mission with actual game play. What often used to be a tedious, drawn-out part of many games has now been transformed into something fun and playable as a series of “mini-games”.
  • This system also brings out the skills and talents of heroes that aren’t always as combat-intensive in nature, such as technical abilities and social skills.
  • Entire intelligence gathering missions, preemptive battles, social interactions, data hacks, and more quickly become a part of the game session with detailed stories that do not sacrifice hours of game-play.

That sounds like exactly the sort of game I love to run. Some of our favorite Star Wars: Saga Edition games were based on that formula, and it’s something I’ve struggled to implement outside of that system. It’s also the sort of thing that all manner of spy games have tried to do in the past, with mixed results.

I particularly like the addition of the Plans & Operations Deck, which helps with the random creation of missions. One of my favorite aspects of the various Savage Worlds game books have been their random generators used for various aspects of world creation, from designing planets to planning missions. This book sounds like the Mother of All Mission Planners and it appeals to the dice-rolling, chart-loving RPG player in me.

Backing the Kickstarter

After much internal debate, I decided to go with the $40 “The Digital GM” level for this kickstarter, which includes:

  • The Freedom Squadron: Commando’s Manual, in PDF.
  • The Freedom Squadron: Plans & Operations Manual, in PDF.
  • The unique Plans & Operations Card deck, in Print-Ready PDF.
  • All digital stretch goal items.
  • It doesn’t include any of the optional add ons or a physical print version of the Plans & Operations Deck.

I considered back it at the $95 “The Printed GM” level, but my budget couldn’t take that kind of hit right now. Assuming I like the system, I fully intend to get the print versions of the books once they come out, but for now the PDFs should suffice.

Like what you’ve read? Go support the Kickstarter. It ends Tuesday, April 10 2018 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.

Featured Image Meta

The heroes of Freedom Squadron faceoff against the villains of VENOM in a classic 1980s-style montage drawn by Phil Cho. Credit: SpyGlass Games and Phil Cho.

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