by Cedric Chin
Published by Deep7
Written by James Stubbs and Todd Downing, with Jeff Boman and Eddy Webb
Deep7's 1PG line of games has a simple premise: take a cool movie
cliché, generate characters in a few minutes, and put the rules
for play on the character sheet. In the case of Exosuit AOK, the
cliché is the serious action/hardsuit adventure of anime shows
such as Bubblegum Crisis, Appleseed, and Robotech. The rules should
work for any sort of action adventure, from an episode of Chips to The
AOK is a thirteen-page PDF. Each section of the game fits onto one
The PDF only has two illustrations, economizing text
with clear layout. Good use of bold lettering allows
players and GMs to easily reference a rule or act in a
- Rules of Play (including character
- Character Sheet (including rules reference)
- For the Ref
- Exosuit Construction and Operation (exosuit
- Six scenarios (one page each)
- Double-character sheet
Rules of Play and Character Sheet
Character Generation uses the conventional "stats +
skills" method. Each PC has four stats - Sturdiness,
Looks, Craftiness, and Brains - as well as secondary
stats - Cool, Guts, Blood, and Reputation. Each primary
stat has a set of skills. Craftiness, for example, has
the skills Bargain, Con, Gambling, Mechanics, Perform,
and Pilot. Each player has 1d3 points for each
primary stat and 1d3+3 points to put into skills.
Players begin with 2d6+5 Blood, the equivalent of hit
points, and roll on the Background, Status, and
Starting Gear tables. These tables provide PCs with
skill bonuses and unique equipment.
The check is the basic success roll in the game: The
player rolls 1d6 against the appropriate stat or skill
+ stat. A 1 is always a failure, and 6 always a
success. Damage is taken from Blood, and Armor uses
damage reduction. In case of a conflict (eg.
fighting), whoever has a greater margin of success
With secondary stats Guts, Cool, and Reputation, AOK
goes beyond traditional physical abilities. Each
player has 1d3+2 Guts and 1d6 Cool. In case of panic
and stress, a PC will make a Guts check. Failure
results in loss of one Cool.
For Reputation, each player makes a check against each primary
attribute during character generation. The total number of
successful checks is his Reputation. A player makes a check against his
Reputation whenever he wishes to pull a few favors from his fans or
The entire Rules of Play, including Character Generation, fit on one
sheet. Despite all the new terminology, the one-page character and
reference sheet make these terms - and game mechanics - quite clear.
(And since this is a PDF, the GM can print out a copy of the rules sheet
and character sheet for each player.) PCs are meant to only be used for
one gaming session, although rules are included for character
development. The 1PG Companion can be used for additional rules,
such as vehicles combat, NPCs, and additional character development
Note that, although this is an anime action
roleplaying game, it lacks mechanics for the
traditional anime scene where the hero, battered and
bruised, summons his last inner strength and defeats
all odds. It's also entirely possible for the random
generation tables to create characters with odd
background and equipment ("Hey, I'm an Entertainer and
Street Fighter with a Helicopter!).
Exosuit Construction & Operation
Depending on the result of rolling on the Starting
Gear table, a player may have an exosuit, light,
medium, or heavy. A suit has an Armor Value and
Blood, as well as Options. Suits have 1d3 to 1d6
option points, and Options cost one to four points.
Options range from the one-point Shield, to the
four-point BFG (the "Big F**king Gun" of Doom fame). Additional rules are included for
Bailing Out of a damaged suit, Repair, and Salvage.
Despite the word "Exosuit" in the game's title, exosuit
combat uses the same skill checks as regular conflict.
No rules reflect the complexity often seen in anime
mecha combat (eg. tactics, broken weapons, weaknesses,
critical hits). Roleplayers who would rather be out of
their suits won't notice, but action otaku looking
forward to mecha combat may be disappointed.
For the Ref
The GM receives his own page, primarily of GM advice,
plus a damage chart. Advice includes keeping the
adventure short and exciting, focusing on the players,
and running bad guys. Given the possible wide
variations in characters, I would have liked to see
some suggestions for premade characters, or designing
adventures for heterogenous parties (such as Full Metal
Panic's high school girl and military soldier) and
homogenous parties (such as Bubblegum Crisis' women in
Each scenario is a page long, longer than an adventure
seed, shorter than a module. Three-fourths of the
scenario is text and the other fourth are NPC stats.
Each scenario consists of three or four scenes, and
lasts for two to three hours.
Like the mechanics, the scenarios are tailored towards
policework and missions, not humor and character
development. Sailor Moon this is not. The scenarios are
also unrelated, meaning that characters from one
scenario cannot (without some rewriting) be played in
another. (Remember that characters are meant to be
played for only one game session.)
Despite the marketing of Exosuit AOK as a hardsuit and
police action anime RPG, it's a versatile rules-light
system suitable for any modern-day roleplaying (just
as Call of Cthulhu works for any 1920's adventures).
Conversely, being rules-light, its lacks the complex
crunchy bits some gamers would expect in a mecha game.
Likewise, AOK does not have mechanics for dramatic
personal moments seen in some anime. Still, as a
system for hardsuits and soldiers, this roleplaying
system really is AOK.