It is odd yet interesting to see a role playing game come out of a very rare mental illness. In this case the condition is Capgras Delusion. Capgras is the belief that some or all of your loved ones and/or friends have been replaced by complete and perfect copies.
That is the conceit of Exquisite Replicas, a horror game from Abstract Nova Entertainment.
In Replicas the players take on the role of people that can see things that others do not. Mostly this is the aura surrounding people, animals or things that have been or are about to be copied by outre forces. These Othersiders and their motives seem unknowable.
As the players learn more about the game world and their enemies they become enmeshed in a resistance organization, The Anonymous. It becomes a battle with the Othersiders (who come in a variety of shapes and sizes), the replicas and sometimes the authorities of the normal world. The struggle takes them from this world to the world of the others and back again and has effects on the characters physically, emotionally and morally.
While the rules for the game are pretty simple and elegant, they are not anything revolutionary. It uses only 10 sided dice. Dice pools are formed by combining traits arranged in various attributes, skills and so forth and rolled against a target number. It works and looks for a fairly transparent and quick system for event resolution. Combat under the system looks fast and fairly deadly.
In addition to the physical dangers there are dangers to morality and sanity. These are represented by ranks and traits and are rolled with and raised or reduced through the characters’ actions and events in the outside world. This is an interesting part of character creation and game play and adds an unusual dimension to the world.
The book is split in two sections. The first is for the Players and the GM, the last half is for the GM alone. Character creation, combat, obstacles and events are given plenty of rules in play examples. The GM section has a large section of Outsider statistics and strategies. It also has suggestions for plots and adventures and different modes and moods of game play.
The production values of the book are solid. The art work is moody and feels right for the game. The layout is easy to read and well organized and the index is well done (game books without an index are a crime against all of us).
The background fiction pieces were decently written and entertaining. The opening pieces contributed to the understanding of the game world and provided ideas for the GM.
I liked this. It looks very playable and the game world is evocative and full of atmosphere. The Othersider foes and the Otherside itself have a nice sense of menace. For the players there is also a "fight the good fight even if it might be hopeless" vibe that many would enjoy. I think it would be better suited to short run campaigns than a longer term run. Fans of games with more detailed rule sets (combat in particular) might not like Replicas. Still I suggest Replicas to fans of horror games or moody paranoiac atmospheres.