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  • Rip and Tear RPGing - Stay Frosty and Slipgate Chokepoint RPG Review

Rip and Tear RPGing - Stay Frosty and Slipgate Chokepoint RPG Review

MB Updated October 06, 2020
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
2011 1
Slipgate Chokepoint RPG Review
There Will Be Games

Hurt me plenty.

Slipgate Chokepoint, written by Andrew Walter and Paul Cronin, is one of my favorite books of this forlorn year. It’s a brilliant supplement for Chris Garske’s equally brilliant Stay Frosty, a Black Hack-based, rules-light, action-focused sci-fi space marine RPG that might be the best Aliens, Predator, or Starship Troopers game ever made (take your pick). You don’t exactly have to squint to see the influence of DOOM, Quake, and other 1990s FPS games on Stay Frosty, but Slipgate Chokepoint takes that thread and runs with it, developing the game’s mechanics to further bring the feel of an Id shooter to the tabletop.

First though, a few words about Stay Frosty. I’ve been running a homebrew campaign involving space mummies for a couple of groups with it and it’s been a smash hit.  With the estimable Black Hack as a foundation, Garske has tooled the lean rules to provide a high impact experience without a lot of bullshit – this is a game that cuts right down to business. It’s a roll-over-stat mechanic (Brawn, Brains, Dexterity, Willpower) with advantage/disadvantage and a couple of interesting elements, such as damage in excess of HP adding to stats and death when one of them hits 21. Ammo depletion occurs after combat if you roll a 1 on a weapon’s ammo die, and there is a psychological facet in the game’s simple tension mechanic. Certain events or situations may cause a player’s tension to rise from Warm up to Ice Cold. Each of the six levels of a Marine’s Frostiness confers cumulative bonuses, but if the Tension explodes, bad things can happen and you may have to roll on a Going Apeshit table. 

It’s a super fun game that lends itself well to pointcrawl-style, survival-focused adventures. This is not heroic space opera suited for telling sweeping stories of epic proportions. It’s highly lethal (if you GM it right) and it requires very little preparation. There’s a lot to play with here, including vehicles, psychic powers, and a host of monster templates for the GM to embellish upon. The classes (Military Operational Specializations) all have a couple of unique advantages, but everything is kept simple. I’ve found myself preferring this little game to Mothership for faster, more pulpy shoot-em-up games.

Now, Slipgate Chokepoint takes Stay Frosty and adds a few things to make it feel more DOOM-y or Quake-y if you prefer. Most of the game is intact, but the MOS choices are reduced down to one (Ranger) and some things are video game-ized -for example, armor comes in Green, Yellow, and Red types and there are four varieties of ammo (shells, nails, explosives, and shells). There is a new Stunt Die mechanism, which is basically exactly the same as the beloved Feat die from Dungeon Crawl Classics – if a player wants to pull of some kind of crazy action, they can roll a d3 along with their check and if it’s a 3, they get to do whatever it is – maybe a player wants to try to castrate a demon with a chainsaw by sliding along a gore-slicked floor between its legs. On the 3, go for it!

Gibbing is a thing, which can create some gory consequences if someone or something takes more damage than their Gib Value. There’s Telefragging. And bona fide Power Ups! If you get a Rune or other Power Up, you roll a d4 to see if it ends on your go- hope that Quad Damage lasts a few rounds while you are squaring off against the Deathlord!  

Other new elements include a list of Traits that are appropriate to the setting, a small armory of classic FPS weapons (super shotgun FTW), and a custom bestiary supplemented by some awesome monster generation tables. A campaign is included, The Flayed Domain – it’s a really nicely done pointcrawl with some great locations and full-color maps that look straight out of a 1995 PC game. There’s a location called the Corpse Grinding Facility if that gives you any idea of what to expect. But if you are looking for a quick one shot, there’s a great section with some random mission generation tables. 

All of this is packed into a great-looking 79 page paperback book – this is not a zine. The artwork is just blowing my mind every time I flip through it- it’s crude, rangy, and lurid. None of that slick corporate RPG illustration junk here, it all looks enthusiastically grim and seedy as it should. It reminds me quite a lot of vintage Warhammer illustrations circa 1986, which is indeed high praise. With that said, this is all executed with a more punk rock, DIY style – apart from those computer graphic maps, which are just an awesome touch. 

It’s such a fun book to read- I can’t imagine anyone that enjoys DOOM or vintage FPS games not smiling ear to ear flipping through. And with the great Stay Frosty as its backbone, a bloody good time is all but ensured for groups that embrace the deadly nature of this kind of game. Make no mistake- this is not really an RPG for the kind of player that likes to write a novella about their character’s backstory or GMs that want to run through sweeping, overly scripted storylines with intricately detailed world-building. This is rip-and-tear action role playing, over-the-top and gleefully outrageous. Bring it on.

There Will Be Games

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Rip and Tear RPGing - Stay Frosty and Slipgate Chokepoint RPG Review
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Rating 
 
5.0
Stay Frosty / Slipgate Chokepoint
All killer, no filler- brutal rules-light role-playing from the world of 90s FPS games.
MB
Top 10 Reviewer 137 reviews

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Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313321 21 Aug 2020 01:27
"The artwork is just blowing my mind every time I flip through it- it’s crude, rangy, and lurid. None of that slick corporate RPG illustration junk here, it all looks enthusiastically grim and seedy as it should. It reminds me quite a lot of vintage Warhammer illustrations circa 1986, which is indeed high praise. With that said, this is all executed with a more punk rock, DIY style – apart from those computer graphic maps, which are just an awesome touch. "

This is what drew me into this one initially but reading it has confirmed that it's gonna be a good time above and beyond that. The group I intend to run this with are probably a little too young to remember the heady days of 486 powered Doom and Build engine action but i'm sure they'll be rocket jumping into oblivion before too long at the table.
Brewmiester's Avatar
Brewmiester replied the topic: #313323 21 Aug 2020 08:29
I picked them up on both of your recommendations. The group I've been playing with are all older (although one guys teenage son has been joining us occasionally) so I think everyone will get it. Really looking forward to playing.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #313325 21 Aug 2020 09:16
I found Stay Frosty in paperback form on lulu ( www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/casey-garske/sta...roduct-16y56dne.html ) but how do I get a physical copy of Slipgate Chokepoint?
Brewmiester's Avatar
Brewmiester replied the topic: #313326 21 Aug 2020 09:33
They used Melsonian Arts Council for the Kickstarter fulfillment but I don't know if they have other plans.
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #313328 21 Aug 2020 09:41

Brewmiester wrote: They used Melsonian Arts Council for the Kickstarter fulfillment but I don't know if they have other plans.


If it hits retail it'll be for sale from ExaltedFuneral.com in the USA.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #313355 21 Aug 2020 14:19
Stay Frosty is only POD or PDF and you can get it at Itch.Io or DTRPG. It’s production values are super crude, but charming.

Slipgate Chokepoint just fulfilled from KS- I was like Becker #2 or something on it I think. Iy is from Melsonian, and yes, Exalted Funeral will stock it if they print more or make more available. Beware though- hot stuff goes out of stock at EF quickly and it can take a while for them to re-up.
AndrewSFTSN's Avatar
AndrewSFTSN replied the topic: #313379 22 Aug 2020 05:52
Hi Michael,

Andrew, 1/2 writer and 1/2 illustrator of Slipgate Chokepoint here.

Thanks for the awesome review. Our first published RPG book and first KS, very encouraging to read this from someone who gets it, nice one!

A couple of clarifications for readers:

- Author of Stay Frosty is called Casey Garske, not Chris!

- Physical books of SGCP were 200 copies to cover the KS plus a few "extra" copies in case of emergencies. Once we're comfortable all backer orders have been fulfilled, there might be a very small handful of these extra SGCP physical copies going to Melsonia and Exalted Funeral, but no guarantees.

- No immediate plans for another printing right now but who knows. It will always be up for sale in PDF form on DrivethruRPG and if the demand is there maybe we'll look into PoD.

Thanks!
jason10mm's Avatar
jason10mm replied the topic: #313381 22 Aug 2020 10:16
Out of curiosity, how does POD work? Can I just order a hardback from a publisher and send them a PDF or does it require a fair amount of tweaking so a print run is the only way? I know Artscow can basically replicate any kind of professional cards (maybe not very economically, but it can be done), is the same thing possible for books at this point?

This RPG sounds really cool. I've always been curious why there isn't a sci-fi RPG with anywhere near the popularity of DnD. Does WH40K suck up all the demand? Is there something about high tech and aliens that just doesn't lend itself to the theater of the mind? Are they too generic or too bound to a specific IP?
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #313382 22 Aug 2020 10:22

AndrewSFTSN wrote: - No immediate plans for another printing right now but who knows. It will always be up for sale in PDF form on DrivethruRPG and if the demand is there maybe we'll look into PoD.

Thanks!


Your game looks really cool! I played the hell out of Quake 1. I'm definitely up for obtaining a physical copy so please update us if they become available. Thanks!
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #313384 22 Aug 2020 10:29

jason10mm wrote: Out of curiosity, how does POD work? Can I just order a hardback from a publisher and send them a PDF or does it require a fair amount of tweaking so a print run is the only way? I know Artscow can basically replicate any kind of professional cards (maybe not very economically, but it can be done), is the same thing possible for books at this point?


POD is when the company, usually drivethrurpg or lulu, already has the files for printing the book that were provided by the owner. You just order it from their site and they print and ship. They're solidly made hardcovers or softcovers but the paper quality is typically the same paper you use in your home printer unless some premium option was chosen.
dysjunct's Avatar
dysjunct replied the topic: #313409 23 Aug 2020 00:02
POD has come a long way in the last decade. It used to be one step above a bound newspaper; now it's often very high quality and almost indistinguishable from lower-quality traditional print runs.

It's often possible, although shady, to get a free printed book by uploading a properly-formatted PDF to lulu and ordering a sample copy for "inspection."
jason10mm's Avatar
jason10mm replied the topic: #313423 23 Aug 2020 16:39
So i nabbed "Stay Frosty" off DRPG for a whole $5. Neat little system, though having LOW attributes be better is a cognitive dissonance I have a hard time wrapping my head around.

It does make me want to make a similar "shoot 'em up RPG" type game that has EVERYTHING baked into the dice rolls, so it can be played absolutely shit faced drunk and with almost no DM at all, just throw space marines into a room with monsters and GO GO GO.

Something with increasing dice (low intel is a d4, smart characters have a d12, damn what system used that???) but you roll everything, the hit dice plus damage dice plus ammo dice (I really like their implementation of that mechanic) all at once. Maybe even have a pool of dice to roll, and you lose them as you die so the character sheet is virtually irrelevant once you get your dice pool. Hmmmmm.

Anyway, SF looks to be pretty fun, might see if I can teach it to my kid. Now I gotta score some sci-fi space marine minis....
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #313424 23 Aug 2020 17:01
I ordered the Stay Frosty print version from lulu. I'm hoping to get something going with it online.
AndrewSFTSN's Avatar
AndrewSFTSN replied the topic: #313430 24 Aug 2020 06:55

jason10mm wrote: It does make me want to make a similar "shoot 'em up RPG" type game that has EVERYTHING baked into the dice rolls, so it can be played absolutely shit faced drunk and with almost no DM at all, just throw space marines into a room with monsters and GO GO GO.


I am the target audience, would play while shit faced drunk.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #313433 24 Aug 2020 10:02

jason10mm wrote: Something with increasing dice (low intel is a d4, smart characters have a d12, damn what system used that???)


The Firefly rpg is the only one that I can think of offhand.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #313435 24 Aug 2020 10:38
Has anyone played 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars and can compare it to this?

I enjoyed that one quite a bit back in 2008.
quozl's Avatar
quozl replied the topic: #313440 24 Aug 2020 11:42

Shellhead wrote:

jason10mm wrote: Something with increasing dice (low intel is a d4, smart characters have a d12, damn what system used that???)


The Firefly rpg is the only one that I can think of offhand.


Original Deadlands did too.
dysjunct's Avatar
dysjunct replied the topic: #313458 24 Aug 2020 18:34

quozl wrote:

Shellhead wrote:

jason10mm wrote: Something with increasing dice (low intel is a d4, smart characters have a d12, damn what system used that???)


The Firefly rpg is the only one that I can think of offhand.


Original Deadlands did too.


Savage Worlds
earthdawn
Ryuutama
The new Twilight:2000 (kickstarting now!)
Cortex (basis of Firefly, also BSG, Marvel)
Many others

rpggeek.com/rpgmechanic/2140/dice-step-v...ice-vs-static-target