Don’t Panic!! – a Preview of Satanic Panic

People whisper in hushed tones about a corruption taking hold in the world. A secret wildfire spreading from basement to basement called tabletop. Some say it is evil, some say it is turning their kids into monsters, and some say it is summoning demons….and every whisper rings true. Tabletop is bringing evil into the world and turning people into monsters and you are one of the few that stand against this evil. You can stop tabletop.

This is the setting for the upcoming tabletop project by Third Act Publishing, Satanic Panic. Satanic Panic was launched on Kickstarter back in February 2017, and was fully funded in twelve hours! Having helped fund the project I was invited to join the playtest of the game. What I found when playing the game was a seriously interesting concept, and I could not wait to play more of it.

Satanic Panic requires 2 – 5 players and a Game Master to play. The players take on the role of members of a government agency tasked with ending the dreaded threat caused by the Table Toppers. This could be done through killing those swayed by its evil, or even capturing them and taking them back for rehabilitation. Each player gets to pick a class to play, which I will describe later, and needs a basic set of dice (d4 – d20). The GM needs the dice and a simple idea of where the mission takes place. Most of the maps you need can be quickly drawn during the game.

Gameplay is different from most other tabletop RPGs that I have played or encountered. In Satanic Panic, players must combat the threat of tabletop, but they must also avoid causing too much collateral damage or causing widespread panic. They can go into a mission, guns blazing and shooting everything that moves if they want, but it will have consequences on future missions.

Missions are the main focus of the game. The Game Master builds the missions ahead of time and issues them to the players one at a time. The players, using equipment tables, requisition and equip gear they think they need for the mission they are on. Using certain types of equipment can cause collateral damage, which will then effect home much of a budget the team gets on the next mission. These steps are the primary focus of the game. Each mission has a primary and secondary objective, as well as smaller goals that the players can meet or beat on the mission. Whatever they compete or do not complete effects gameplay for the following missions.

My favorite mechanic however, which I hope is carried over to the full version, was THE D20. The D20 represents all that is evil and corrupting in tabletop. Certain powers, abilities, and items that players can find cause them to roll the D20 throughout the game. If the D20 ever lands on 20, “the GM has the right, and is encouraged, to try and kill the players.” (Satanic Panic Playtest) I think this is a great mechanic for those sessions when your players seem to be rolling max damage every time they roll. THE D20 also effects how corrupted the players become when they tap into some of their darker abilities.

Each class taps into the forces differently. Some do not even mess with them much, if at all. The following are the five classes released in the playtest and a short description of each.
Solider: Kills things dead
Tactician: Commands the team of agents
Inquisitor: The Face of the team
Exorcist: Controls the dark forces you encounter
Reformed Tabletopper: Uses the dark forces to help the team

Overall, Satanic Panic is a fun game with a different concept than most other tabletop games. I ran the playtest with my Dungeons & Dragons group and they enjoyed the gameplay. The project did meet with a few setbacks after the Kickstarter ended, and the release date for the game as been pushed back. However, Jim McClure, one of the designers and host of the podcast Talking TableTop, informed us on Kickstarter that the PDF for the game will be completed around February 28 this year. I personally cannot wait to get it and take out some table toppers. Then, there will be more power for me to harness!!

Chris Faust
A known Table Topper

Photo used with permission from Jim McClure of Third Act Publishing

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