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Brave New World
by Michael T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2011 09:02:03

Quick, what superhero setting features JFK, nascent superheroes just discovering their powers, and the mutant struggle for equality juxtaposed over American civil rights? No, not X-Men: First Class…Brave New World! No, not the novel by Aldous Huxley…the role-playing game by Matt Forbeck!

Brave New World features a superhero-infested America gone mad. When an evil mutant organization fails to assassinate John F. Kennedy, he transforms the United States into a fascist dictatorship under military rule where every mutant must be registered. If this sounds familiar, it's because the X-Men comics featured mutant oppression in 1984 when Senator Kelly passed the Mutant Registration Act. Brave New World takes this conflict between the superpowered and the government to its logical conclusion – the act grows in scope until it comes to define world policy: mutants change the outcome of wars, destroy entire cities, and usher in a new age with Kennedy extending his term as president indefinitely. It takes over 20 pages to outline this background, which is summarized just as effectively on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World_%28role-playing_game%29#Alternate_history

Brave New World is the last gasp of old school design, complete with "how to role-play," random full color plates, and long dramatic fiction introducing the setting. Throughout, what would normally be color glossy pictures are converted here in black-and-white for economic printing purposes. Sans color, much of the artwork is considerably less impressive.

In Brave New World superheroes are "Deltas" either for or against this new world order, a tool of the Man or a desperate fugitive using their powers for justice. Complicating matters is the disappearance of the ultra-powerful superheroes known as Alphas. In this world, nobody is multi-classed or high-level.

And that's the problem. Brave New World is obsessed with creating a superhero genre that's sharply defined by its world, which by its very nature means the heroes can't be so powerful that they can trounce government agents. Players can choose only from 10 archetypes: bargainer, blaster, bouncer, flyer, gadgeteer, goliath, gunner, healer, scrapper, and speedster. They can be slightly customized, but their powers, skills, and attributes are predefined. This is a role-playing game where "role" is something of a straitjacket.

The narrow focus applies to the game master too. Forbeck is uninterested in providing much of a toolkit for game mastering the campaign. Throughout the book, any information that would further the campaign (Where are the alphas? How does one become an alpha? What's up with JFK?) are deferred to other supplements. In essence, if you want to know more you have to pay up for future supplements…and since Brave New World came out in 1999 we now know that some of the books were never published. In short, even if you were to buy into what amounts to over a hundred dollars in books, you still wouldn't have the complete setting.

Brave New World does one thing very well: low-level class-based underdog superheroes battling against the government and each other. In that regard it has much in common with the Basic Dungeons & Dragons set. The superhero role-playing game in particular has been changed forever by Champions; players expect to be able to create whatever character they want. That's more a comment on the evolution of game design than Brave New World. It might surprise modern players expecting a more flexible system, but for gamers who want to recapture the feel of X-Men: First Class, Brave New World might be just what they're looking for.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Brave New World
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World's Largest City
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/28/2011 23:59:08

The World's Largest City does deliver on the promise of its title. The problem here is the quality of the PDF scan.

What you see in the Full-Size Preview section of the listing? That's the quality of the scan throughout. Useable, but not crisp or as clear as it ought to be.

The scan was not made from the original book layout; in fact this PDF looks like a hand-scan. Some of the pages are slightly askew, the contrast and crispness of the scan could be so much better than it is, and the book's cover image isn't even included as part of the scan.

Again, it's all usable (see the preview) but it's disappointing -- even slightly insulting -- that a $40 PDF couldn't be created with better quality, or more care for the customer.

Still, publisher AEG appears to have essentially abandoned D&D gaming as of this writing, and the book is generally out-of-print as far as I can tell. Unless one wants to pay $80 to buy a physical copy of The World's Largest City from AEG's website store, this is your best bet for owning a copy.

Short version: the book delivers on its promise, but the scan quality as of this writing is mediocre. Functional, but far from professional.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World's Largest City
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Brave New World
by Devon K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/12/2011 16:36:01

I purchased the hardcover print edition of this book. In regards to the printing, the pages seemed a little thin for my liking, but the cover was very nice and the book was very well bound. I have no complaints there.

As far as the game goes, the setting is phenomenal! It stimulates my imagination as I read through the book and myriads of stories and scenes pop into my head, just waiting to be seen in a game! If only for the setting, alone, this book is way worth getting.

The system leaves much to be desired. It appears to be a version of Savage Worlds, but without the good things I love about SW. The character generation options are confusing and the rules are a bit more complex that I feel they need to be. The char gen options are also rather limited. I'm sure there are people who will love the system, but I'm not one of them.

All in all, this book is worth it! If you want to play in a world of dark heroes, where the criminals are the good-guys and the superheroes are on the run, this is the game for you!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brave New World
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Brave New World
by Paul S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/04/2011 16:59:21

Brave New World is a simple, elegant system. The d6 dice pool mechanic works well and drives the combat forward quickly so players can get back to the really juicy stuff...the narrative. Brave New World's setting is an ever expanding collection of mysteries and moral ambiguities that are just plain fun to read, let alone play. Matt Forbeck's style is more like an entertaining history read rather than plowing through a straight rulebook. Makes getting through the rules that much easier as you really want to get to the revealed mysteries in the back of each book. Great stuff.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Red Isle
by Roy M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2011 22:56:24

The adventure its self is a good one shot or could be dropped into a exisiting campaign easily, but the scan is not in order. The pages alternate between the first and last pasges of the original in a way that makes reading it a pain a refrencing it akward.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Red Isle
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Tomb of the Overseers
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/16/2011 12:16:18

This adventure is pretty much a dungeon crawl, although neatly dressed up with a backstory which makes it easy to provide suitable introductory events to round it out into a full scenario or to weave this little jaunt into an ongoing campaign. Alternatively, the backstory could be read out as a summary if you plan on running this adventure as a one-off game.

As provided, the adventurers are standing on the threshold of the Tomb of the Overseers, ready to go in. The map is laid out clearly, a bit linear... but such is the way of tombs of this sort (just look at the archaeological record!); with good succinct descriptions and notes on what you will find in each chamber. With a couple of exceptions, all monsters encountered are just that - something with which to do combat. The exceptions are pretty constrained in what they'll do, but should at least give those characters who like to talk rather than fight some opportunity to do so.

There is a distinct tendency for this adventure to be merely a mechanical puzzle-solving, monster fighting and item collection exercise, but this fits well in this instance because of the nature of the mission that the characters have been given. However, if there is a reason why the Big Bad Evil Guy at the end is actually there, it's not stated: however, he is the reason that the characters will want to collect all the handy items scattered around the place, so it is worth scavenging them all up!

Assuming the characters do defeat him, they will be able to complete their task, and there's even a note about follow-on events, although you will have to flesh them out for yourself... potential to kick-start a whole campaign if the ideas appeal.

An interesting note is that this adventure was published very early in the life of D&D 3e, and many of the monsters given cursory descriptions here appeared in later monster books - you may wish to track them down and so flesh the monsters out a bit before you run the adventure. But there's sufficient here to run them without, especially as they are there as combat-fodder rather than true encounters.

Overall, what seems to be a basic dungeon-bash actually has a bit more to it, if you wish to make use of it within a broader context, else if a quick fight through a small dungeon is what you need to fill an evening, this will do very nicely. Worth having around, for those nights when someone's missing or nobody feels like heavy role-play and ongoing plot arcs.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of the Overseers
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Wilds
by Lorinc P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/22/2010 14:57:15

The content is okay, but the poor quality of scanning makes it hard to read on-screen and impossible to print. Not recommended.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Wilds
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Castle Zadrian
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/11/2010 11:48:09

The premise of the adventure is simple: an alchemist with more money than sense has disappeared and his adoring wife is prepared to part with a goodly chunk of his wealth to get him back. What adventurer worth the name could possibly refuse?

The DM's introduction explains succinctly what the problem really is, and then settles down to set the scene in detail. The missing alchemist lived in a country castle (I did say he was well-off...) with a nearby village: there's loads of information to enable you to run the castle and village well, but without constraining you as to just where or in what country it is, so it can be located wherever convenient within your campaign world. There is quite a bit of information to pick up in the village, should the characters be prepared to go and ask... and then on to the castle itself, easily found about four miles away within thick forest.

The castle rooms are clearly described and, given the underlying rationale for what's actually happened to the alchemist, logical - although until the characters deduce just what has taken place, quite baffling. There are opportunities for those characters who like to work things out and for whom combat is not the only way of interacting with everyone you meet in the 'dungeon' part of an adventure, but plenty of scope to exercise the sword arm and practise offensive spellcasting as well: a nice balance. Provided that the characters make their way through the castle, they can find out where and how to set things aright... and of course there's a good final conflict scene in which they have the opportunity to do just that.

This is a neat little adventure, which should occupy an evening's play - perhaps an interlude when characters are travelling, or an opportunity to top up their funds with a bit of honest adventuring if finaces are low. Unless a wizard gets fascinated by the alchemist's work, there is not much, however, to build on: complete the adventure and move on. Hence it could serve as a 'one-off' game if required.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Zadrian
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Stargate SG-1: Roleplaying Game
by Devon K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/06/2010 15:01:29

I'm a huge Stargate fanboy, so this was a must-have for me. However, I found that I couldn't read it for extended periods of time due to the low quality of the scan. It is a scanned copy and there are track marks on the pages and the text is a bit fuzzy sometimes, making my eyes strain. The background information is wonderful, as well as the in depth look of the SGC. However, the number of options, while making for great choices during character creation can be a bit overwhelming.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Stargate SG-1: Roleplaying Game
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Ultimate Toolbox
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/06/2010 13:07:03

I missed out on the days of First Edition, but from what I’ve heard from friends who were gaming back then, one of the lovable quirks of the old Dungeon Master’s Guide was its collection of tables for various things. With just a few random rolls, you could determine who you met in town, what treasure was in a monster’s hoard, and so many other things. Nowadays, with concerns of balance and world-design, there’s far less emphasis placed on such randomness, and those quirky old tables are gone.

Luckily, AEG’s Ultimate Toolbox is there to bring them back again.

Now, to be clear, I never read the original Toolbox, so I can’t speak to how this is more expanded than the original. Hence, I’m reviewing this book on its own merits. And what merits they are. Four hundred pages long, with the front and back covers in a separate file, Ultimate Toolbox is big. The book is divided into seven chapters – character, world, civilization, maritime, dungeon, magic, plot – with an appendix. Each chapter then contains a number of tables that are thematically related to the chapter in question; the appendix contains miscellanious

Each table in the book contains twenty items; plenty of times, the subject matter would go on for far more than twenty entries, which resulted in them simply breaking the table and continuing on with the subject in another table. For example, Table 1-4: Character Backgrounds/Concepts 1 lists twenty possible character backgrounds, barely scratching the list of possibilities, and so continues to list them in Table 1-5: Character Backgrounds/Concepts 2.

The book is illustrated sparsely, with comparatively few grayscale images popping up every so often. However, each page has a fairly elaborate border, with chains hanging off of the tops of the pages, and an alternating bottom border with either a hooded figure or a pile of skulls. Obviously, this book isn’t printer-friendly, though I presume that there’s a print version of this book already for sale.

The one technical aspect of the book that I do find fault with, however, is the lack of bookmarks in the PDF. I’m of the opinion that all PDFs should utilize bookmarks, and that’s more true for this book than most. The sheer volume of tables here would make bookmarks, even to various sub-sections of chapters, extremely useful.

It should be said, also, that there’s more to this book than just tables. Various sidebars pop up every so often to discuss some finer point to various subjects. Even more helpful though are the “how to use this chapter” sections found at the end of each chapter. These provide a helpful example, usually more than one, to illustrate how you’d use combinations of these tables to chart things like communities, the history of a magic item, or a PC background, for instance. It’s a very helpful inclusion that puts a practical spin on the book’s contents.

Ultimate Toolbox may appear to just be a collection of random tables at first glance, but there’s far more to it than that. Arranged in a logical sequence, the tables cover a huge expanse of material, and have helpful examples for how to string them together to create interesting results for your campaign. The next time you need inspiration, or just want to randomly determine something that you hadn’t thought of, reach into your Ultimate Toolbox.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Toolbox
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Magic
by Rob C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2010 21:55:53

Make sure to pay attention to the fact that this is a 'scanned' book. The OCR that created the hidden text (that makes the PDF document searchable) underlying the image is fairly good but not perfect. Plus, the document is 65MB in size. This was a lesson to me to pay attention to the fine print in the product description.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Magic
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Ultimate Toolbox
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2010 21:20:51

"Utlimate Toolbox" published by AEG, 400 pgs. black & white. PDF format

This product consists of random lists divided into seven chapters (plus one appendix.) Each chapter covers a different aspect of campaign design. (See the free sample for a table of contents)

The good:

1) Some of the tables are quite inventive and helpful: twenty ways to describe a room other than saying "it's empty"; twenty ways to introduce the PC's that don't involve meeting a tavern; and a blank chart called 'twenty good uses for a gnome' are my favorites.

2) a relative lack of spelling errors, which is something unusual in the PDF's I have bought lately.

3) The PDF is twenty USD cheaper than the dead tree version.

The bad:

1) Each page of the PDF has a background stationery pattern, which will kill you if you try to print this book out yourself.

2) For some unexplained reason, the "How to use this chapter" page is at the end of each chapter. (It would make more sense to me if this were at the beginning of the chapter.)

The Ugly:

The PDF is four hundred pages long and has no hyperlinks. Even if it just allowed jumps from chapter to chapter, it would be better than nothing at all. Throw me a bone here!

Overall impression:

I bought this book because everyone kept telling me the sun rose and set around it. If you suffer from brain cramp or writer's block, this book is sure to jar something loose. This book isn't the center of the universe, as some people insist, but it is a very interesting book with good ideas.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Toolbox
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Toolbox
by Bruce W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2009 20:39:40

I was very disappointed in this pdf. It is very hard/impossible to select text, which was the reason I purchased it. I love the product, but the pdf version is awful.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Toolbox
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Ultimate Toolbox
by Francisco M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2009 03:35:45

I had some interest in this product since I saw a couple of good reviews at UncleBear (http://unclebear.com/?p=3773) and RPG.net (http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/14/14296.phtml). And being a fan of random charts and seeds for ideas, I decided to buy it.

Discarded the physical edition for having too little space for books right now, and thinking it would be more useful to have all that information in electronic format, easy to search and to reach, I bought it here, in RPGNow.

All in all, I have exactly what I was told I would find in this product. But it's pretty surprising that for 20 euros, the price of a normal book out there in RL, the only "plus" is the capability of using the search engine that every PDF reader has. No markers, no hyperlinked text, no adaptated version for reading it on a computer screen... No using all the possibilities an electronic format has. In my opinion, now that I have paid for it, 20 euros is pretty high when you have plenty of other products of random charts out there for less than 5 €.

So please, AEG and every other RPG publisher: if you are going to sell PDF version of your products, please use all the advantages the electronic format offers. Selling the PDF you sent to the printer's should be a lot more cheaper than this.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Toolbox
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Warlords of the Accordlands: The Master Codex
by Joshua S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2009 09:40:06

This is an amazing book, the classes are well designed (though not necessarilly well balanced) and the races are departures from the stereotypical norms. Class / Race abilities are amazing. For someone who likes D&D 3.0 or 3.5 this book is a blast.

The other reviewer says that this is an almost unreadable scan, I disagree, I haven't had any problem with reading it. Some of the pages were at a bit of an angle when it was scanned in, however it is readable without any difficulty.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warlords of the Accordlands: The Master Codex
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