All images were taken from the PLANET FIST game
A few days ago I got to try out PLANET FIST, a game inspired by sci-fi movies and videogames, especially Planetside 2. In this game by Jess Levine players embody a squad with a suicide mission, owned by one of the huge mega-corporations/factions, each with an extremely different feel to them. The twist is that these soldiers when killed are brought back to life with all their memories to launch themselves into battle again, on an eternal war.
A brief idea of what PLANET FIST actually is
Every hour of every day on Sixaura, the soldiers of each empire are killed and reborn in an endless loop. Their dead bodies derezz, the bonds between their nanos dissolving—just in time to be reassembled elsewhere, fresh with the memory of death and ready to kill once again. These clone commandos do not die and do not rest. They are duplicated forever, frozen in the same unchanging unaging body. This is the only life they know. It is a meatgrinder without meat—a bloodbath without blood. And it is also, soldier, your life.
In PLANET FIST you should control your character like a stolen car, going full speed, and launching yourself into danger while trying to avoid as much damage as possible, without getting noticed (optional). The fact that your character will always get brought back to life allows you to go as recklessly as you like, either succeeding spectacularly or exploding like firework lights into thousands of tiny meat and bones pieces. You can always try again if needed. Just know that your enemies will be coming back as well.
PLANET FIST is a Powered by the Apocalypse narrative wargame of satirical sci-fi skirmish storytelling and an independent total conversion hack of CLAYMORE’s FIST, and winner of the SUBSTANCE award in the FIST: Ultra Jam.
The rules’ layout feels very much like a sci-fi instruction manual with pieces of metal and blueprints everywhere. Many sci-fi RPGs decide to go with a similar vibe, but something this rulebook adds on top of that is the Admiral’s Notes dispersed throughout the whole book. Again, these sorts of notes left by a random person from around the world are nothing new, but I believe these in particular do a fantastic job of setting you in the kind of universe you’ll be playing in. By making the book feel like an instruction manual, and having the Admiral’s notes, it very much feels as if you were doing the training to become a soldier through the character creation, with the Admiral shouting at you to pay attention to some sections.
You can choose between three huge factions to be a squad in, each of them terrible in unique ways:
- The New Committee are hyper capitalists that worry about having tons of money and workers. Their soldiers may not have the best weapons technology-wise, but they surely are the most expensive in the market!
- The Tyrat can only exist through constant war, and their whole motto is that if you want to have everything working as it should you should sacrifice everything for the cause, to have a home to return to after everything is over. Just don’t pay much attention to the fact that everything surrounding the faction only works while wars exist.
- Velian Ascendancy has their soldiers believe that bodies are useless without implants. So we are going to add some to you. These will make you perfect killing machines. Having blades for arms is definitely a life changing experience for the better, doesn’t matter if you can’t do anything but kill with them, right?
Customization and crunch
While this game has a plethora of customization options for your characters, they don’t feel daunting at all, but actually allow each game to feel entirely different. By selecting your faction, you gain access to customization options only available to that specific faction, tying in your characters to the narrative behind how the faction usually behaves or equips their soldiers. You can either roll randomly for which one you get if you like the fun of not knowing what you get or want to go for a quick game, or take the time to choose the one you find the most fun.
At the same time, all characters choose a class trait that works similarly to your usual archetypes or character classes. The fun part of these is that every time you rez you can change your class trait, allowing you to prepare to your mission at hand in the best possible way.
PLANET FIST uses the FIST system, which is Powered by the Apocalypse, meaning the game is story-heavy and doesn’t involve a lot of crunch or mechanics like D&D, Pathfinder, or Gurps. The game is 60 pages long (at least so far), and It decides to add a few more elements to the FIST system, like hit points and a shield meter, to give both a futuristic feel, and show the player how easy you can die in the game. Your character is disposable after all.
The game has you participate in missions, usually auto-conclusive. This makes it a perfect game for when you want to run a one-shot or a short campaign with a series of separate missions. For that same reason, even though I can imagine some sort of long campaign, I don’t think the system might be the best for those.
From what I see in the rules, the game gives you everything to run missions in which you have to infiltrate or raid an enemy base, and take “Sync Points”. Think of them as those points you have to hold on videogames to take control and win matches in games like Overwatch for example. The problem is, just like in videogames, that even though if you die your character is brought back, enemies are rezzed back as well!
A little bit of what you can expect from the game
I was lucky enough to get to try PLANET FIST with the game designer as the GM. Jess did an amazing job guiding us through the character creation process, which is intended to be done collaboratively with the other players, as you get to choose things like relationships with other players. This allows you to create excellent satires for what would otherwise be a very depressing game, and that is by design! Our squad was composed of the 1st Lt Honey “Sugar Butt” Bi, Cayp “Cowboy” Bara, and Nutella “Dumpsterfire” Raccoon, from the Velian Ascendency faction. Sugar Butt was Cowboy’s ex, and Dumpsterfire’s rival, while at the same time Cowboy and Dumpsterfire love daring each other to do dangerous stuff, so you can imagine how that went on.
Our team was led by “Commander Sunshine Sparkles”, who assigned our characters the mission, and kept calling the squad to give positive comments and cheer us on. We managed to get the sync point from the enemy base, explode walls, and of course explode enemy bodies in the most absurd ways possible. We rolled excellently enough that our characters never died, which is something that usually happens frequently, so I can’t talk much about how the rezzing works except what I read in the rules. Finally, after all that shooting, careful planning that we didn’t follow, and explosions, we managed to escape in the Panther, our armed vehicle. I can imagine if we had more time there could have been a chase sequence in vehicles while shooting each other, as this is just THAT type of game.
I was lucky enough to get to play with Dusty and Aki as my other squad members. They (along with 14 other players) will be taking part in the West Marches campaign run by Jess tentatively set to release in January 2024 in podcast form. Within the crew, you’ll be able to find award-winning actual play podcasters like Jeff Stormer of Party of One, Dillin Apelyan (a.k.a. Superdillin) and Noordin Ali Kadir of The Atomless, Kendo of Tales Yet Told, and many more. Find out more about that over here.
PLANET FIST is an action-heavy, satirical take on a terrible world of people who know of no other life than being a soldier forever. If you like sci-fi, dystopian futures, and like this sort of videogame feel this game can offer you without any repercussion if you launch yourself towards danger and die gloriously, then make sure to back this game!
The game offers:
- 60 page 8.5”x11” B&W rulebook
- A unique system of death and reassembly, allowing you to throw your character into the grinder, and catapult them back to the battlefield next turn
- A narratively flexible combat system that reserves room for storytelling and does not require rulers or a grid
- 18 FACTION TRAITS, 12 CHARACTER TRAITS, 12 ROLES, and 12 BONDS all with unique flavor, equipment, and other perks to choose from or roll randomly
- A prewritten example MISSION and an original BATTLEMAP
- 12 THREATS, each with their own stat blocks and unique abilities
- Tables for PROCEDURALLY GENERATED MISSIONS & MISSION REWARDS
Jess’ game is being crowdfunded at the moment via Itch and you can get it right now on sale for just $8 until the end of November. There are still some stretch goals to hit, so make sure to give it a look and help make it the best possible game with your support by CLICKING HERE! Just let them know Nutella Raccoon sent you!