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Tropicana: Gorillaconda
by Joshua O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2016 05:59:54

This adventure strikes a great tone, is very clearly laid out. It should be easy to run and a blast to play.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tropicana: Gorillaconda
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Imago Mortis Preview
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2016 23:25:17

After a short prologue, page 10 through the final page 32 of this preview consists of a lecture held by a fictional detective introducing the PC:s as new recruits to the Paranormal world of Imago Mortis'. IMHO, this part is written in a very unfortunate style that would have benefitted from a native speaking editor. I really hope the rest of the RPG is written less awkwardly. The detective (Ghites, as per the protagonist in Marolla's novel) here comes across as some kind of insufferable blend of David Brent and Fonzie, dropping cheesy references all over the place in order to appear occult-savvy:

"We can make a nice ghost hunting handbook, like the Junior Woodchucks", "I've been in this crap before GhostWeb", "Nice shot, Ghites, now go get your medal", "put on some nice boots with reinforced cold iron toecaps and kick them in the backside all the way back to the Valley of the Shadow of Death", "ready to play this game to the end, the terrible price of having a dull light in your eyes...", "before jumping the train to Horrorwarts", "Yippee Ki Yay!" etc (incl writing 'sickles' where 'scythes' are obviously intended). Indeed, this lecture is nothing short of unintentional parody, a barrage of empty clichées made out to sound cool, like a sales pitch from a sugar-crazed, hyped-up marketing executive on a Friday afternoon (i.e. Yeah, benchmark the sunk costs, highlight the synergies, implement the strategy and go get them, tigers!).

Secondly, as for creative criticism, I think "Vallum" really ought to rightly have been an acronym. Just picking a latin name is something a secret society might do, but it doesn't seem like a typical Brussels way to register a new bureaucracy. My best suggestion would be to set up a "VISA Acquis Legality Liaison of Union Migrations" under the Schengen Communautaire. This "Vallum" task force would officially be called upon to investigate and deal with potential cross-border conflicts arising in the Common Travel Area, incl the coordination of any temporary National controls imposed in the wake of the current migration crisis. And, obviously, these vaguely defined border problems would unofficially refer to the Curtains between our world and the Netherworld, and the migrants in question would mainly include infiltrating "Spookies". Only you can't very well be too transparent to the public about its mandate, so... Vallum it is. Along the same line of reasoning, I believe the chosen logo (three spirals) seems rather too obscure for a proper Agency of the EU; look at Frontex (the EU outer borders' control) for instance; they use three stripes to symbolize regulatory power over foreign arrivals by air, ground and water. Paraphrasing this one and restricting paranormal access between the Schengen area and the Netherworld, Vallum might well have a stylized symbol of a broken bridge.

Verdict: Is this modern horror RPG a game for me, and if so why/ why not? I'm going to say no. It's not that I necessarily prefer the old haunted mansions, stone altars and dusty tomes of classic horror to urban sprawls, pharmaceutical companies and online fanatics. My big peeve is that this Netherworld mythology (quite reminiscent of "Kult: Divinity Lost", I believe) more or less rules out a more culturally diverse occult background and a more complex approach to monsters. There'd really be no reason to investigate Mayan or Egyptian theology here, as Imago Mortis already pertains to know the origin of all paranormal entities (they're either dead human souls or the disciplined demons of the Legion). And without further arcane possibilities lost in the murky past and pre-indoeuropean belief systems, the paranormal horror looses some of its mysterious appeal; it becomes too explained and familiar. That's at least my impression from this preview, and so I will stick to "Chill", "Noctum", "EPOCH" and, would I want insanity to play a bigger part, either "Fear itself" or "Trail of Cthulhu".

Question: wasn't this RPG supposed to be full colour? Apart from the front cover, this pdf is all B&W, with lots of grey background. The art is quite beautifully drawn, but it would have been interesting to appreciate it in full colour.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Imago Mortis Preview
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Publisher Reply:
Dear Mattias, Thank you for your review. I`m sorry you didn`t like it. I will just answer two things. About editor: GRAmel`s editor is Andy Slack, native speaker. A former editor of White Dwarf magazine and one of the organisers of the early Games Day events, Andy is best known for his writing on Traveller and 2300AD, and was co-author of two GURPS Traveller supplements (GURPS Traveller Alien Races 2 and Alien Races 3) . Now, he helps edit GRAmel’s Savage Worlds and Adventurers! product lines. About color - it is set as color book, because B&W settings in PoD means a bit worse paper. Paper that on layout heavy pdf may cause problems. That`s why we use color paper to print on both color or B&W books.
TimeZero Preview
by Ben S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2016 16:49:50

This is a Preview for a very interesting time travel setting. It definitely gives you enough information to decide whether you want to get more. Worth picking up just to see if it's something that might interest you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TimeZero Preview
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Tropicana: Die Fast... (or die trying)
by Patrick S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2016 06:44:05

Played it, liked it. Mr Cossu has a little bit too much going on to be truly believable. And the entry of the adventure is rather abrupt. But nothing you can't easily work around. Worth its money.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tropicana: Die Fast... (or die trying)
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TimeZero: Operative`s Manual.
by Nicky G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2016 22:38:09

This is a setting I bought sort of on a whim, not expecting much but a good read, and I was sort of blown away. The fluff is fantastic, and the mechanics of time travel make it actually possible to run a game, rather than being instantly sidelined by some sort of PC shennanigans. I really like the setting. I've now bought this setting three times, once in pdf and twice in print for table copies. Love it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TimeZero: Operative`s Manual.
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Tropicana: Hot Wheels
by Patrick S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/23/2016 08:13:35

We used Hot Wheels as a starting point for our Tropicana campaign. This little adventure has everything what makes an intro adventure (in this setting) great: fun, a chase (race), a fight, action, some intrigue and beautiful women. A clear recommendation!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tropicana: Hot Wheels
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Adventurers!
by joel k. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2016 11:02:52

Why 2 and not 5 stars ?

  • Oppostion Rolls, this is boring for me
  • The player guide is rather 6 real pages than the 2 it offers with its actual layout.
  • Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic is mixed with lot of special rules. Also nearly each skills got its own special rules to differentiate (B)asic from (A)dvanced Skill's level. So IMHO, the gamedesign choices are a bit cluncky and too much crunchy (too many rules for this format).

It seems to be a mix between Advanced FightyFantasy (2D6, opposition Roll, Her point) and CypherSystem (3 Stats, A & B skill class).



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurers!
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Tropicana
by Patrick S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/17/2016 15:12:06

After already reading many GRAmel products and never being dissappointed with any of them, Tropicana came around and pushed every button there is.

Maybe it's my age. I grew up with shows like Tales of the golden monkey, Magnum, The A-Team, Riptide and many others. Or maybe it's the tight way this book is written: Tropicana really catches the spirit of Savage Worlds. Every sentence and table is packed with useful information. The setting specific Edges, Hindrances and rules are crisp, to the point and absolutely fitting. The Tropicana Jukebox alone is gold. But maybe it's the fun you can feel the good people from GRAmel must have had while writing this little gem. The setting is sparkling with great ideas, interesting NPCs, cool locations and endless possibilities. Maybe it's the way modern stuff like Narcos, Uncharted (4) or Tomb Raider smoothly flow into the vibe of those old shows i loved as a kid. Or it's the way this setting is rather open and can be played in all kinds of directions: chasing gangsters; climbing the criminal ladder to the top; searching for lost treasures, relics & ruins; fighting the good fight along the rebels in the jungle; discovering forgotten and maybe horrible secrets; investigating this evil Calibana cult; heisting into the vault of El Banco; spying on hostile agents ... or a colourful mixture of parts of it or everything.

All in all this is one of the best Savage Worlds products i have ever seen and i have seen, played and hosted a lot of them. Besides some minor errors, surely coming from not having native speakers as writers, i can find nothing which i don't like here. The only thing really missing here is a map of San Jose, but this will be dealt with in the upcoming companion as i was told.

Get this.

Disclaimer: A) We are playing with our own unofficial Ubiquity conversion. Just a matter of taste. B) A free PDF of Tropicana was kindly given to me, but did not in any way influence my opinion. My stupidity in thinking that reviews are only possible as a certified buyer, was my and only my fault.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tropicana
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The Dread Shard
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2016 09:46:26

The Dread Shard is a very compact adventure for Beasts & Barbarians written by Marek Golonka. It's surprising how much stuff he has managed to put into 11 pages (not counting stats). The plot reminds me of Shadows over Bögenhafen of the "Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game" : while the heroes are having fun at the local fair, an evil ritual, initiated by the leader of the town, is afoot... This adventure is organized in a modular way, so that much depends on the actions of the heroes. Marek has taken the best from the Savage Worlds rules (chases, mass battles) , therefore I think you'll need more than one evening to complete this tale. A good idea may be to add some more background to the plublished scenario (ex: more encounters at the fair, exploration of the governor's palace, etc..) in order to turn it into a little campaign. Once again, an excellent product for B&B !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dread Shard
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Nemezis: Optional Wealth rules.
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2016 01:24:53

Nemezis Optional Wealth Rules is a (free !) abstract tool that helps you to manage the lifestyle in downtime of your player characters. Of course, it is devised for the sci-fi environment of "Nemezis" but nothing prevents you from adapting it to your own universe. It is possible that, after an adventure, the heroes wish to settle down for a while, maybe in order to make some money (to buy a fortress, a vessel... ?). If you don't want to use more detailed rules (as in Paizo Pathfinder's "Ultimate Campaign" or in the Game Master's Guide II for D&D 3.5), then this PdF is for you. It gives indications for "Purchase Rolls", very useful if you want to recknon the player's earnings on a very broad basis, not counting every single penny. As is tradition with Savage Worlds, cards are drawn to generate how well/poorly did your professional activity/business/estate fare last time. Perhaps this will throw a thread towards some new adventure... These optional rules may not solve all your (players') money issues, but it can be definitely helpful between two adventures !



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Nemezis: Optional Wealth rules.
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The Queen of the Lost Valley
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2016 01:33:37

The Queen of the Lost Valley is a 60 pages long adventure for Beasts & Barbarians, followed by a Setting Guide (approximately 20 pages) for the Iron Mountains.

The heroes work as guards for Jannah the merchant-woman, and they are following her into an unknown pass of the Iron Mountains she has dicovered thanks to an ancientmap. Alas, after an ambush, both Jannah and the heroes have to flee into a "lost world".

The following lines may sound severe; in fact, the problem is that "B&B" has given us some of the best adventures (*Shadows over Ekul*, *Death of the Tyrant*, even the short stories in *Beasts of the Dominions*) I have ever read for Medieval Fantasy, making by way of consequence QLV of lower quality when compared to them. The former adventures are mostly event-based and railroad gently the heroes into funny, fast and furious twistful scenarios. On the contrary, QLV is rather linear : landing into a lost world, interactions with the local inhabitants, then necessary escape. It isn't bad either : some chases, some abstract navigation and memorable combat scenes. It is just that it isn't as original as some of the other adventures for B&B.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Queen of the Lost Valley
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Dark Places of the Dominions
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/30/2016 11:05:28

Just like Beasts of the Dominions, Dark Places of the Dominions is a good product but with a strange title since some of its chapters are more adventures than mere locations (OK, all adventures have to take place in some fantasy location...). No map is provided since it either works with the abstract navigation system or with a written description of the ins and outs of each visited room. I must say I am not a fan of the latter system : in the free downloadable Moonless night over Grimdell (a castle crawl adventure), a good old map would have done a better job than lengthy descriptions. Whether you're using props or not, the players will inevitably ask you (as a GM) about the shape of the rooms they have to explore... Are you supposed to draw a full map of the castle before starting the module ? Fortunately, this system works better in Dark Places because it is used with locations having a particular shape (a tower, a ship's hull), while castles can display all kinds of layouts.

- "The Gorge of Lovar Sham" was first published in Italian in *Dispacci dai Mondi Selvaggi #5*. It is to be located near the Red Desert but a cunning Gamemaster can tweak the abstract navigation system and relocate it into any mountainous area of the Dominions. - "The Caravan of Two Lanterns" is composed of all kinds of wagon-travellers (hawkers, entertainers, thieves... many of them corresponding to several of those categories). Though a plot hook is given, I doubt that the mere description of the caravan's most prominent members is strong enough to support a full-fledged adventure. However, this material is far from being lost : although travelling caravans are a trope of medieval fantasy universes, no RpG system of my knowledge had ever given clues as to their composition. So, this chapter fills a gap and allows you to randomly create your selection of wagons with colourful passengers (as often, this "scenario" works with playing cards values), as it is highly probable that the heroes will encounter such a nomadic riffraff in the course of their wanderings. - "The Windowless Tower" (once again from *Dispacci dai Mondi Selvaggi #6*) is a staple of Sword & Sorcery : will the heroes break into this doomed location where a deviant sect commits human sacrifices ? - "The Dark Lady" was the name of a ship, full of gold (is this true ?) that crashed against a sunken tree in the Anaconda River and lies now there, overgrown, in the middle of a jungle where warlike pygmies dwell... - "The Battle of the Gray Ghost" is a real adventure of its own, definitely reminiscent of the Conan novella *Beyond the Black River* by R.Howard. A Caled war party defeated a military detachment in the northern tip of the Borderlands. The heroes - perhaps soldiers in that troop - must flee to Fort Skargos while Caled savage warriors are invading the forest ! Even if they reach the fort, a great battle shall be fought... The abstract navigation system works well for the chase between the heroes and the fierce Caleds, making (in my opinion) this scenario better than the one found in *Beyond Thunder River* (in Mongoose's Conan RpG). And any GM with some imagination can adapt this adventure to another dangerous part of the Dominions of the Dread Sea.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Places of the Dominions
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Jalizar, City of Thieves
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2016 11:44:54

Jalizar rhymes with Shadizar and Lankhmar.... This book begins with a long description of the city's history and some of its features. A wonderful city map is provided too. The rest of the book is magnificient. As always, there are character concepts - I just regret that some of these concepts are not included in the stats section with "Denizens", but this seems to have been partly corrected with the document "Archetypes of the Dominions and Jalizar" that you can download for free.

The "sidebars" are excellent inputs, ex :Thieves' Signs, Merchants of Jalizar... After new edges, hindrances and trappings, the Setting Rules will help Gamemasters to enliven the rotten atmosphere of Jalizar with game mechanisms for beggars, thieves and all ingredients for dwellers of that urban jungle. There are random generators for urban locations, citizens, traps, beggars' features, and sewers (with are described in depth).

Of course, other RpG systems have longer fantasy guides for cities, but U. Pignatelli has understood that the main task for urban gaming is not about having a city map for tourists, rather about situations and atmosphere. Sometimes, Jalizar (though it has its own personality) makes me think at the corrupted city of Kharé, in the "Sorcery" gamebook series by S.Jackson. Umberto has made Jalizar, the Flower of the North, "so rotten that it is good..." for roleplaying ! Definitely a must-have for any game session taking place in a medieval fantasy city.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Jalizar, City of Thieves
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Beasts of the Dominions
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2016 07:14:07

You thought "Beasts of the Dominions" was a bestiary for "Beasts & Barbarians" ? Wrong ! I know... I wonder why they called this book "Beasts of the Dominions" since it contains the description of less than ten monsters... "Adventures in the Dominions" would have been far better, fot it is a collection of 10 short or medium-sized adventures. I must say I am not a big fan of the free B&B short adventures, for I think they don't manage to convey the thrill of Sword & Sorcery gaming, but here, they are quite compact so you won't get disappointed by most of the tales that this volume contains. For interested purchasers, here is a very short description :

  • "The betrayers of Rhybard" : The heroes must act as spies for a Borderlands governor; their mission is to infiltrate a powerful rebell band. Will they side with the brave rebells or remain loyal to the governor ? This adventure is vert dense, and those 10 pages provide stuff for several evenings.
    • "Lotus Spawn" : In Zandor, the heroes have to retrieve the local ruler's daughter from the claws of brigands who have found shelter in an old forest. Alas, the players will have to compete with a reckless rival, and the forest is infested by... Lotus Spawn.
    • "Moloke-Tanu": The players are members of a merchant party allied to a friendly Ivory Savannah tribe. But strange disappearances menace the success of that expedition. Who or what is lurking around ?
    • "Pale Shadow" is definitely reminiscent of the "Pool of the Black Ones", a Conan story by R. Howard. The heroes had no other choice but to join a pirate crew highly divided between sailors disgruntled by their captain and the rest still loyal to her. In fact, only the common goal of a treasure hunt thanks to a recently found map holds them together. Once on the island, violence is about to break up....
    • "Pantarkos Lucretios" : This decadent Faberterran noble has kidnapped the heroes who must now fight for their survival in his private arena... or perhaps they'll prefer to find some new escape route ?
    • "Caudru" : The heroes act as bodyguards of a 16 years-old pampered and arrogant nobleman, Salathar, in southern Kyros. One night, while they're enjoying a banquet in the palace of Salathar's uncle, the High Priestess of the godess of fertility pays them a visit....
    • "Spider Queen" : The heroes escort the newly appointed governor of Vadokara, in southern Kyros. Something's wrong in this crumbling town, since the two former governors disappeared without a trace. Can the heroes save the new governor from such a doom ? I have some criticism here. Not of the adventure itself which is really entertaining, in the very spirit of S&S. But I deeply regret the absence of any map for I am unable to figure out the layout of two key scenes (the escape and the final lair). The excellent abstract navigation system provided once again by Umberto cannot give the answers to the very probable questions the players will ask on the whereabouts of their characters and their foes.
  • "Tokomal's Jaghza" : While riding along a Tricarnian abandoned ricefield, the heroes rescue a desperate pregnant teenage girl. But she's soon abducted once again by her evil master... (Warning, this story is truly horrific !)
  • "Yarakan" : One more adventure with a strong Conanesque feel : the heroes are hired by a vengeful captain who wants to retrieve a Khav cargo out of his vessel, now stranded in the swamps of the Buffalo river delta....
  • "Yellowfingers" : Here, the heroes are sent to a gloomy cairn in order to negotiate peace between two clans...

The book ends with an Appendix, the "Disciples of the Black Temple", a Caldeian sect with new edges and gear.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts of the Dominions
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Gladiators of the Dominion
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2016 08:58:00

Have your players something to do in an arena ? If no, this book is not for you.

If yes, buy it ! As far as I know, this is the only RPG book dealing with this topic with so much depth. (Some D&D 3.5 supplements had only a few rules). You can think first that nothing is easier than opposing your playing characters -gladiators to a few other warriors inspired from what you found in history books on Antiquity and to some wild beasts and monsters. But before your players gain their freedom after thirty victorious fights, all of this shall soon turn boring. Fortunately, U.Pignatelli has poured into this book all the ingredients that will make each encounter unique. As always, different types of pit fighters are introduced, beyond the classical models of the myrmidion and the retiarius, not forgetting the special edges and hindrances that go with. Setting rules are excellent : personalities of the arena, how to manage one's fame (or disrepute... if you survive long enough !), "after the duel events" (normal, for a gladiator can't go carousing outside !)... A wonderful arena fight generator is provided, which works (as usual) with cards. No combat will be like the other one ! And if you're tired of gore spilt on sand, reenact "Ben Hur" with the rules for Chariot Races : they're simplified to the max (average charioteers just count as one unit) but still hold a hoard of surprises.

This book ends with "Running the Season", a stand-alone game where the players can run their own gladiatorial team, and have them compete against each other.

This supplement is so good that... it makes you wanna stay in the arena !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gladiators of the Dominion
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