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World of Darkness: Changing Breeds
by John P. I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2015 09:30:08

All in all, I'd call this average.

Ok, more detail.

Changing Breeds is an interesting expansion for WtF (Werewolf the Forsaken) in particular and the NWoD (New World of Darkness) in general. It introduces a wide variety of alternate beast shifters, with rules and options for adding to the list as needed/desired. The morality scale (Harmony) is interesting, and not far removed from its counterpart in WtF. And despite the criticism related to the environmentalist tones, I find that it is still less heavy handed about it than WtA (Werewolf the Apocalypse).

As far as game balance goes... well, this IS part of a World of Darkness. Naturally some things tip the scales. And sometimes, the fluff doesn't quite seem to mesh with the stats...

Now, for all of the praise I would have for the mechanics and options.... I match in scorn for the fluff. In places, it wanders into 'juvenile pretending to be mature', though thankfully rarely. The "there is no community, you are likely alone" fluff from early on is rather heavily contradicted by the "here are all of these old communities and groups" section found later. The understanding of animal behavior seems to boil down to "All animals are either wolves or housecats," with a touch of "and all 'mystically inclined' breeds are matriarchal, regardless of the actual social structure of the base animal." And the stereotyping... look, I can see where they showed their work in a few areas. I will grant that on some aspects of the cultures some werecreatures originate from. But the rest is almost painful...

While I would recommend an open-minded storyteller pick this one up, I would advise keeping the mechanics and character options and ditching the fluff. Without the fluff weighing it down, Changing Breeds lends itself well to crossover games, and offers creative options for unusual allies, contacts, and adversaries.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: Changing Breeds
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Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand
by greg m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2015 15:26:26

Intended to be a jumping board for chronicles involving a global conspiracy of elders manipulating the two major sects in order to wipe out Vicissitude; this book became a much debated topic in V:tM circles, and writers never quite seemed sure what to do with it after this book was released. The Tal'mahe'Ra was used as a boogie-man of sorts in later books, and the Path of Biothaumaturgy was edited and brought into the Revised Camarilla Guide. The Path of Self Focus was reprinted elsewhere, and when the True Brujah were ported into revised in the Storytellers Guide, they brought the Path of the Scorched Heart with them. The Path of Lillith was made available in the Guide to the Sabbat. The fates of the revenant families were discussed in various supplements. But, I digress. The purpose of the book was to present a new sect into the Jyhad, and it succeeded at that. As I hinted earlier, the purpose of this sect was to wipe out Vicissitude, the signature Discipline of the Tzimisce. That is because the power is not in fact a Discipline, but an insidious parasite that transmits through blood, has a mind of it's own, drives it's host insane and exists only to procreate!

To stop this insidious threat, the True Black Hand operates out of a spectral copy of the august city of Enoch, and also protects three ancient sarcophogi that house incredibly ancient Kindred! Are they the fabled second generation? Stay tuned and find out!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand
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Book of Crafts: Whispers of Dissent
by greg m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2015 11:33:33

This was an earlier entry into the M:tA line of CWoD books, and introduced many Crafts into the mix of the Ascension War. Crafts differ from the Traditions and Conventions in that they are geographically or culturally limited. Each Craft gets it's own chapter complete with a full page piece of art and a fluff short story to set tone. The history of each Craft is discussed, a few signature Rotes (magick spells) are given, and one or two templates for PC's are given. The Crafts presented are an Epytian throwback; a group of Hawai'ian traditionalists; the Sisters of Hippolita, a Greek cult; the Knights Templar, who left the nascent Order of Reason, which became the Technocracy; and also a Chinese magickal society. Artwork ranges from good to passable, and there are several typos, so grammar police may be annoyed. The groups presented in the book all have a specific, local focus, so use in games is questionable, but still entertaining to read.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Crafts: Whispers of Dissent
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Time of Tumult
by Arlan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2015 18:13:18

A fair-quality scan of one of the iconic books of Exalted 1st Edition.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Time of Tumult
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Exalted: The Dragon-Blooded
by Arlan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2015 17:46:41

This is a pretty poor scan, especially compared to some of the other old Exalted books on drivethru. The text is, in places, blurry and difficult to read, the pages are skewed and the OCR is spotty at best.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted: The Dragon-Blooded
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Exalted: The Sidereals
by Arlan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2015 17:43:32

The scan quality is absolutely abysmal. The pages are skewed, the text is blurry and low-resolution and dark blotches along the bottoms of the pages make reading difficult and the OCR only extends about halfway down each page.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted: The Sidereals
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
by Matthew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2015 23:14:06

Masquerade is very much tied to that early 90's gen-X "fuck the man" aesthetic, an in your face punk rock version of hard driven Vampires. Anne Rice on a fifth of Jack



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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Savage and Macabre: Gangrel
by Elizabeth N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2015 21:32:45

S&M is a total page-turner of a book (as are most of Chuck Wendig's works, truth be told). I highly recommend this even if you're not planning on Storytelling or playing a Gangrel. It's just plain gory, bloody FUN, with a solid plot that's well worth your time. For players and Storytellers there are story hooks and character ideas galore, and a heavy dose of settings for Gangrels' Requiems. The Bloodlines and Devotions included here are promising, too.

tl;dr: Don't pass this one up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage and Macabre: Gangrel
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Clanbook: Baali
by jason l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2015 13:45:52

Baali are my favorite clan, and this book helped me come to that decision. WW should have rolled the followers of set up into the Baali, and made the Baali more prevalent. They have an actual reason to be evil (we are trying to keep Lovecraftian Horrors asleep), rather than "I like to see people fall from grace".

This is a great book, and very well written, but not for the faint of heart.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clanbook: Baali
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Legacies: The Ancient
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2015 13:01:26

http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Wo Lega­cies drauf­steht, sind 13 Lega­cies als Samm­lung drin. Die­ses Mal gehö­ren alle diese Abwei­chun­gen auf 146 Sei­ten zu Orga­ni­sa­tio­nen mit einer stol­zen Her­kunft. Sie sind Meis­ter in dem, was sie tun. Dabei bedient sich die Erwei­te­rung groß­zü­gig bei Namen und The­men des Vor­gän­gers, Mage: The Ascen­sion. Die Dream­speakers etwa sind uralte Thyrsus-Schamanen, die mit Traum­geis­tern in den Astral Realms kom­mu­ni­zie­ren. Die Moros Thread-Cutters erin­nern als selbst­er­nannte Die­ner des Schick­sals an die frü­he­ren Euthanatos.

Das Pro­blem der Erwei­te­rung ist die starke Ver­beu­gung vor dem eige­nen Vor­gän­ger. Statt des­sen Tra­di­tio­nen ver­wurs­tet als Legacy wie­der­zu­fin­den, soll­ten Spiel­lei­ter bes­ser den deut­lich güns­ti­ge­ren Mage Trans­la­tion Guide ver­wen­den und selbst kon­ver­tie­ren, was ihnen gefällt. Was dann bleibt sind eine Hand­voll neuer Lega­cies als nette Stan­dard­kost, etwa Magi­er­schmiede (Forge Mas­ter) oder wan­dernde Bar­den (Skald). Fazit: Nur für Samm­ler ein Muss.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Legacies: The Ancient
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Summoners
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2015 13:00:55

http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Das Regel­werk über Beschwö­run­gen deckt auf 227 Sei­ten alles zu die­sem Thema ab. Von nor­ma­len Beschwö­run­gen von Geis­tern über das Her­bei­ru­fen von Wesen aus den Gedan­ken einer Per­son (etwa Angst­stö­run­gen) bis zu Wesen der Supernal Realms und sogar der Unter­welt ist hier alles ver­tre­ten. Dabei ste­hen die Pakte mit den Magi­ern im Vor­der­grund und wel­cher Vor­teil (meist schnöde Macht) und wel­che Ver­pflich­tung sich aus einer sol­chen Beschwö­rung ergibt. Dazu erhal­ten Spie­ler fünf Lega­cies mit Fokus auf Beschwö­rung und Spiel­lei­ter mit der Legion einen Abyssal-Kult als Antagonisten.

Wer Beschwö­run­gen für einen essen­ti­el­len Teil der Magie hält, ist mit Sum­moners gut bera­ten. Spiel­lei­ter auf der Suche nach Details über den Kos­mos soll­ten eher zu Intru­ders: Encoun­ters with the Abyss und Impe­rial Mys­te­ries grei­fen. Anders als diese bei­den ist Sum­moners näm­lich spie­ler­freund­lich und ver­zich­tet auf grö­ßere Zusam­men­hänge und Spoiler.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Summoners
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Legacies: The Sublime
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2015 13:00:23

http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Diese Samm­lung von 13 Lega­cies auf 163 Sei­ten beinhal­tet jene, die ihre eigene Seele ver­än­dert haben, um mehr Macht zu gewin­nen und von denen man sich fra­gen kann: Sind das noch Men­schen? Die wohl inter­es­san­teste Legacy ist der Cult of the Dooms­day Clock, ein fins­te­rer Kult, der die Zeit mani­pu­liert, um die Welt unter­ge­hen zu las­sen, damit sie sich mit den Supernal Realms wie­der ver­ei­nen kann – per­fek­tes Feindmaterial.

Jede Legacy wird mit eige­ner Geschichte, Tra­di­tio­nen, Phi­lo­so­phie und eige­nen Rotes oder Merits vor­ge­stellt. Dazu gibt es Regeln, eine eigene Legacy zu erschaf­fen und genug Hin­weise auf mög­li­che Plots mit einer Legacy im Mit­tel­punkt. Doch die vor­ge­stell­ten Lega­cies sind sehr spe­zi­ell. Ob eine oder meh­rere davon eine Spiel­be­rei­che­rung dar­stel­len, muss natür­lich jede Runde selbst entscheiden.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legacies: The Sublime
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Magical Traditions
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2015 12:59:52

http:/www.teilzeithelden.de

Diese Erwei­te­rung ist für all jene Spie­ler gedacht, die bis­her eine Ver­bin­dung der Magier­ge­sell­schaft mit wirk­li­chen, okkul­ten Geheimor­den ver­misst haben. Auf 161 Sei­ten fin­den sich hier mög­li­che Hin­ter­gründe für einen Cha­rak­ter, etwa als jüdi­scher Kabbala-Mystiker, Tao­ist, Temp­ler oder Voodoo-Priester samt beson­de­rer Vor­teile, wie beson­dere Arte­fakte und Rotes. Diese Tra­di­tio­nen inter­pre­tie­ren Magie in einem eige­nen Glau­bens­sys­tem und bie­ten damit eine Alter­na­tive zum von vie­len Spie­lern unge­lieb­ten Atlantis-Mythos.

Das wie­derum gibt Mage: the Awa­ke­ning ein höhe­res Maß an Erdung in der Wirk­lich­keit und kann eine Kam­pa­gne berei­chern. Dass der Leser neben­bei etwas über „echte“ okkulte Geheim­ver­bände lernt, macht Magi­cal Tra­di­ti­ons zu einem bes­se­ren Lese­buch als Rollenspiel-Erweiterung.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Magical Traditions
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Tome of the Mysteries
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2015 12:59:20

http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Dies ist das voll­ge­packte Zau­ber­buch von Mage: The Awa­ke­ning. Es ent­hält auf 194 Sei­ten nicht nur große Lis­ten von Spells und Rotes, son­dern auch viele andere Infor­ma­tio­nen für Spie­ler und Spiel­lei­ter. So gibt es etwa Merits, Zau­ber zum Ver­zau­bern von Gegen­stän­den und ein Sys­tem zum Erstel­len (und Aus­ba­lan­cie­ren) eige­ner Zau­ber nach 13 Kategorien.

Beson­ders inter­es­sant für Spie­ler ist die neue Regel der „Fac­tor Bonu­ses“, wodurch sich die Chan­cen eines Rotes erhö­hen, wenn der Magier beim Zau­bern eine beson­dere Hand­lung durch­führt. Das Buch ent­hält wei­ter einen Rund­um­schlag an Über­le­gun­gen und Regeln zu High Speech, dem Duel Arcane, magi­schen Werk­zeu­gen, ver­fluch­ten Gegen­stän­den, Gly­phen, Soul Sto­nes und Ver­än­de­run­gen der Magie durch kul­tu­relle Traditionen.

Spiel­lei­ter dürf­ten sich dazu über die neuen Magie­ar­ten freuen: Tech­no­ma­gic als magi­sche Tech­no­lo­gie und Abys­sal Spell­cas­ting, das den Effekt von Para­dox als star­ken Angriff benutzt. Dazu kom­men Spe­ku­la­tio­nen über die Macht von Erz­ma­gi­ern (die in Impe­rial Mys­te­ries aus­führ­li­cher behan­delt sind) und die Natur des Abyss. Ein paar Tipps zum Umgang mit Para­dox, sowie Optio­nen das Phä­no­men zu ver­schär­fen, run­den das gelun­gene Buch ab. Wenn es nur eine Erwei­te­rung für Mage: the Awa­ke­ning sein soll, dann diese hier.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of the Mysteries
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The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III - Oadenol's Codex
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2015 19:50:30

The biggest problem with Oadenol's Codex is that it was published at the wrong time. As I mentioned in my Wonders of the Lost Age review, publishing that book first set the tone of the Exalted line toward robots and sentai teams and airships and the best forms of magic being indistinguishable from technology. It would have been a lot better to publish Oadenol's Codex first, since it's more than half-full of material that mortals can accomplish and would thus set a better baseline of expectations for Exalted. I'd much rather have had later material written assuming a world of priests putting up prayer strips to ward off hungry ghosts and rites sung to bring in the crops and architects spending half their lives building precisely-calibrated mansions to contain the updwelling of Essence from a dragon line and cautious expeditions into the Wyld to retrieve powerful ingredients. Then assume the Exalted get to break the rules, the same way the Exalted corebook has rules for bleeding and infection and fatigue and months-long convalescence after battle and gives the Exalted a way to ignore all of that.

There are four main parts of the book, and three of them are easily accessible to mortals. My favorite part is definitely the thaumaturgy section, which has rituals from alchemical mixes to controlling to weather to calling up the dead or demons to breeding better animals. There's also a note that thaumaturgy draws on the underlying processes used by the gods to maintain Creation, which I think is a great baseline. Really interesting worlds can be created out of assuming that natural processes aren't simply bound by real-world physics, as Glorantha has spent decades demonstrating. The example, of the little god of a hunk of clay performing the Mudra of Isolate Stability when entering the furnance in response to the fire god's Song of Ardent Unity, thus producing a brick, is a bit silly, though. It's like how the least god proliferation leads to gods being by far the most common form of life in Creation, since every blade of grass and grain of sand has one.

The rules for thaumaturgy are not quite as good. It's Attribute + Ability vs Difficulty like everything else, but the Ability is almost always Occult and often other Abilities are more obvious. For example, Alchemy requires Craft (Water) to know the formulae, but even though Craft (Water) is the skill for making potions and liquids of all kinds, it's not rolled. Geomancy doesn't require Craft (Earth). Enchanting doesn't require any Craft at all. Spirit-Beckoning uses Occult even though the skill for prayers is Performance and most of the individual rituals override the base and say they're rolled with Charisma + Performance. The way thaumaturgy is written up with how fundamental it is to Creation's functioning, it should have been just been an extension of mundane skill, but instead it's halfway between that and being its own thing and suffers a bit for it.

The manse and artifact construction rules are pretty good, with some great examples of demesnes, manses, and all the non-technological artifacts that were missing from Wonders of the Lost Age. There's also an important note that artifacts should do something special and not just provide mundane bonuses--a hammer that adds +2 to Craft (Fire) rolls is just a very well-made hammer. The major problem I have with these rules is that the tech fetishism of Exalted 2e comes to the fore again in the terminology of features that can be built into Manses. Names like "Central Control" "Self-Destruct Sequence" or "Network Node" just perpetuate the idea that sufficiently advanced magic is technological without room for other paradigms.

Also, that focus led to a fluff/rules split. Having a Repair rating or requirement for Maintenance means that the artifact-maker or manse-builder gains extra points toward giving powers to their construction...but that means that the imperishable wonders of the First Age Solars, which work flawlessly for millennia with no care, should be less powerful than the Shogunate wonders made by the Dragon-Blooded. And since that goes against all the themes of the game, it seems like a bad design decision.

There was a throw-away line in the thaumaturgy chapter that I liked: "The reptiles suffered tremendously during the war, with whole nations exterminated; yet, they might have recovered if they had kept the gods' favor."

That makes me wonder what Creation would have been like in that case. If the Unconquered Sun had kept his Dragon King form, and the Dragon Kings had kept the Mandate of Heaven, what would have happened to the Exalted? Would they have been second-class citizens in a world of subjugated humans? Would they have risen up again and overthrown the gods? There's a lot of great stories there.

There's a chapter in the end about magical flora and fauna of Creation, but I think it suffers a bit by being mostly conversions from first edition. We've seen ink monkeys and heart wasps and ironwood before, and while getting their second edition stats is nice, it would have been nicer to see something new.

Other than the flaws relating to drawing on Wonders of the Lost Age for its background, Oadenol's Codex is a great book. With its focus on a lower-level of the Exalted world, it builds a foundation for Creation that I really like with only a few missteps.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III - Oadenol's Codex
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