Necessary Evil

I had an internal debate about posting this review. After all, this game is over 10 years old now, with two editions under it’s belt. Despite all of that, I truly love this setting for a multitude of reasons…

Overview

The world of Necessary Evil is one not of superheros and supervillians, just supervililans. In this setting all of the heroes are gone, defeated by an extraterrestrial invasion. The world is ruled under the iron grip of an alien race, and the only people left to save it are the worst of all. Players take on the role of one of the aforementioned villains a few years after the world has adapted to the new order. Led by Dr. Doom Dr. Destruction, the party becomes a cell in a resistance network that spans the globe.

Will you play as reluctant heroes, or just a bunch of jerks? That choice is up to you!

Story

The story of Necessary Evil is told in Episodes, with some branching paths and room for success and failure alike. It will take the players from the initial group/rebel cell formation all the way to victory (unless they lose, of course)! There is a great deal of flexibility here, as you do not need to play out each mission one after the other, but rather can organically incorporate the next episode into the story as you (the GM) see fit. Pinnacle has also continued to support this line by creating side missions, errata, and other content worthy of play. There was even a spinoff game called Necessary Evil: Breakout! in which you play as villains trapped under a dome in New York City. It’s The Warriors meets Under the Dome!

Mechanics

The most recent edition of Necessary Evil (2009) utilizes the Savage World Explorers Edition rules set. Luckily, this can be easily converted to the new Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (SWADE) without breaking a sweat. For those of you unfamiliar, Savage Worlds uses a point by mechanic to create whatever type of character you want. The core book is needed to run this game, as it adapts from the core rules set.

As you can imagine, this setting diverges from the core game in the abundance of superpowers. The mechanics to Necessary Evil strip the supernatural power cap of the main book and replace it with a shopping catalog of powers. Anyone familiar with Mutants and Masterminds will certainly be at home here! To the games credit they do a good job trying to put every possible power they can think of, along with variations/tiers of more commonly recognized superpowers. For instance, one of my players had “super speed” but not like The Flash. His speed would let him outrun most people on foot and slower vehicles, but could easily be caught by anything faster.

The rest of the book provides the setting and episodes, so players should only focus on the sections with powers, as much of the game could be ruined by reading beyond.

SIDEBAR – In case you were wondering, here are what my four players chose in terms of powers/concepts:

1 – This players chose a character with boosted speed and jumping/kicking ability. Loosely based him off of the the legend of Spring-heeled Jack. Later his powers grew to move through solid objects and obscure his own form.

2 – This player chose a character with the ability to copy powers (like Rouge) just by seeing them. Could even store some of them for extended use. Was also a skilled hacker and basically the only character with any charisma. She later expanded power set in multiple directions, choosing to be able to understand all languages on one end, while improving melee combat on the other.

3 – This player (as portrayed by Krusk) was a fuchsia toned mutant with the power to resist, or have complete immunity to multiple types of effects/damage. This power set grew as did his proficiency with firearms. He also took on the name Thor because… well, Thor wasn’t using it. It should also be noted that his character had nothing to do with Norse Mythology, making the name even funnier.

4 – This player’s character was based off of Baron Samedi. His powers were more mystical/alchemically based and revolving around either controlling minds or raising the dead. Yes, he was a Necromancer and used that power to great advantage, especially as it grew.

The Good

This game captures the feel of the Silver Age/Bronze Age of Comics. The setting is fun, and familiar while having a lore of its very own. You can create the exact type of character you want from the start and know that they will play a huge role in the story.

The Bad

This game system is easy to min max! Just from the starting point buy mechanics I was able to create a character who was the strongest creature in the universe, easily outclassing even the great Superman Champion. Obviously, this could be problematic, but with right player/GM understanding, such things can be avoided.

Overall

Play this game. It has everything you could want out of a supers game without getting bogged down by mechanics or lore. Necessary Evil was easily one of the funniest and most rewarding campaigns that I have ever run as a GM. My players (even 10 years after the fact) occasionally reference the game with fondness.

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