"It's always fun to play the Bad Guys, after all, most games revolve around playing the good guys, the Paladins, the Jedi, all the people who do the right things for the right reasons. Now for all those who like to indulge their inner bad guy comes a book about the most Eponymous of Bad Guys, the Mafia.
A new game by Tony DiGerolamo (we haven't asked if he's related to any of the families), 'Complete Mafia for d20' allows us to take a closer look at the underworld and how to survive (and propser) in it.
Starting at the beginning, the artwork is simple but effective, each piece illustrates clearly the writing that it's next to. Often slightly humourous, but never detracting from the feel of the game, there's a consistency to it that helps very much with how you view the finished product. That said, while a picture can paint a thousand words, without the right words to back them up, it's just another comic.
This however is no comic. The order of the product is excellent, starting straight in with characters and a clear indication of how complex life is going to be. Basic character classes don't exist past level 5; after this point, the character is either going to be an integral part of the campaign, or just another extra. The simple "Fighter" doesn't get too far in this game. The character creation section is over a hundred pages long and starts with Advanced character classes, together with the wealth of information required for even those not well versed in gangster and mafia films to drop right in and start playing.
At this point, I should mention the sheer amount of information in this book. It contains a history of the Mafia from it's inception in 1282, all the way to the present day. For those wondering, yes, apparently there were organised crime types running around in 1282. The effect of which is that you can play this game during almost any time period you like without having to buy new books or background material, it's all there for you to look through.
The section on crimes and rackets that the Mafia get up to is fascinating. I though I knew most of the things that criminals get up to, but this book digs far more deeply, finding almost all the different types of schemes, from bootlegging down to Unions and Casinos. Included in this is the sort of money you can expect to shake down from the schemes together with the likelihood of getting busted while doing them. The weapons and equipment secition is what you might expect, but again, the sheer volume of things to look at is fantastic (any system which includes tanks and helicopters in the vehicles section on the off-chance that you need them gets my vote). Another section deals with the law and how they go about their business, allowing the players to still do something with the good guys if they really want to. There's a section on plastic surgery for criminals who need it (or those wise guys who want to know how much a breast augmentation improves your wife's charisma), and another section for what happens when you get caught, which you really don't want to be happening.
In short, there's no area that isn't really covered with the book, it looks at every aspect of the criminal life, from the highs of being a made guy all the way down to being a mook. Of course, the only thing here is that some GM's may have trouble working with creating criminal campaigns, and it's here that Mr. DiGerolamo once again delivers. The last eighty or so pages of the book are filled with campaigns from all different time periods, adventure hints, maps and stats on all the characters found within, together with notes to help beginning GMs work through the scenarios.
Overall, it's a very strong product with a lot of character held within the pages, as one might expect of a game dealing with such a strong background. Even if you're not playing the game itself, it's worth picking this up just to get the information, so that your good guy players have realistic bad guys to go up against."