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Novarium
by John B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/04/2016 19:13:03

As a free game, there is few better. I was able to read through the entire rulebook in a couple of hours, including making a sample character in the process. The system is a simplified version of Ars Magica in feel and flavor (I'm unsure if there is any affiliation, but the inspiration is easily seen if you are familiar with the both games). The artwork is donated, but that does not detract from the professional feel of the layout. In summary, given that the game is free, there is no reason not to give it a read through and full marks for world-building.

If I had to find flaw with the game, it would come from two directions. The first has to do with editing. There are at least a half dozen or so fairly obvious gramatical or copy errors throughout the work, which at under a 100 pages seems like it could have been avoided. It is so blaring as to make the work unreadable, but it can pull you out of the zone. This is most especially true when you are reading about the world in someof the narrative elements of the book. The second is that the game screams for detail. The write-up is designed with brevity and simplicity, but in doing so it leaves a bit too much, in my opinion, to the architect. That isn't the end of the world, but there is too much of a great idea going on here to not fill it out with more detail. This game needs expansions! The short least of player classes it reminiscient of the old Basic Box set for D&D, with demi-humans being used in the same way as a class. Again, I understand the desire for "short and sweet" but I would have liked to seen more. In summary of the flaws, the game is a powderkeg of potential that is begging for detail and expansion.

The world the game is built on is amazing. It is a classical fantasy game with many of the elements we have come to expect: medieval timeline, fuedal structures, magic, demi-humans, monsters, magical revealed religions, knights, swords, nothing surprising there. The magic system is quick and fairly clean (though it is open ended and in need of care from the architect/GM). The combat system is fast and lends itself to easy combats that don't take half your game night. Weapons have interesting stats that make choosing between a sword and a hammer interesting without bogging down the system. Religion is revealed, leaving little open to interpretation. Overall fairly systematic fantasy roleplay.

Where this game truly excels is in the worldbuilding. In the world of Vaena has been flipped. While many of the elements of high fantasy are present, including it's many anachronisms, the game is set in a dark age between the reign of elves and dwarves, and the reign of humans. Travel is difficult, language is all important, knowledge is cloistered and hard to acquire, and the natural world is a significant challenge. But to make matters worse, magic is present in the world naturally in the form of fonts, places of planar connection between the divine realm and the natural world. If these fonts go untended, they can cause corruption of the natural world, unleashing monsters, demon and fae. Enter the Novarium, a hand-picked party of mages and hireling. Their task is to tame and tend these fonts and use the magic released to return the world to its natural state. Oh, and if you thought you would be playing in a world in which physical might and male-dominated societal structures were prevelent, you would be wrong. The gift of magic was given to women, who have turned that to their advantage. What history tells us about how women were treated in the Dark Ages of our own world are not mapped onto men, who have no access to magic. Of course there is valuable social commentary here, but that isn't the only way to look at the game. As a work of fantasy, it is yet another twist that pulls us out of what we think we know and how we view the world and allows us to fully immerse in a world with avery different point of view. It is no different than trying to imagine dragons or fireball spells. It's a novel approach and can be a great game for living vicariously and imagining a world very different from our own.

Of course, as I have noted so many times before, this amazing world-building is in desparate need of fleshing out, either by the publisher (time permitting) or by individual groups (though that can be a distraction from getting a game going).

Overall, I really enjoyed reading the game and building a character. The very quick playtest with my family seemed reasonable and easy to understand. The world is very interesting and fresh. It just needs more meat!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Novarium
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Novarium
by Phillip S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2016 19:52:54

So. I just looked over a tabletop system that could have easily been written by feminists, for feminism. Novarium. A free game with decent enough gaming mechanics. The problem comes in its very pushy storyline background. I figured I would at LEAST give it a chance and perouse it..being a freebie. So lets dive into the story..brace yourself..there's no polishing this turd.

God is a female, and the Devil is an evil male that questioned her. He went off and did his own thing, but suddenly he was evil. Okay then. Throwing that part of it out the window but finding it odd..we continue. (Religion always was kind of odd, so I can only fault this one so much.)

Apparently, God has had enough of inequality, so he gives the power of magic or the Path of Light to women. And only women. That's right...we're going to promote equality by giving dangerous magical powers on par with nukes to only ONE group. HMM.

Immediately, the social situation changes and females embrace equality...by subjugating males entirely and making them completely subservient pieces of property only good for breeding or occasionally dying in battle..but forget higher forms of learning. (No joke, this is literally in the writing.)

Oh, and if you're a male with magic, then you're not a rarity. Oh no, according to the rules you must always be evil and in league with the Devil. And questioning or stepping outside of these guidelines and you are brought before their version of the inquisition and denied any form of afterlife and basically going to hell or doomed to walk as an undead. You could also be ostracized, tortured, or put into a form of "legalized slavery." What...the...hell, people.

Holy. Shit. Its like Anita Sarkeesian and the worst elements of Catholicism from ancient types had the most demented bastard child you could come up with and then they threw crystal meth into the equation. This is literally what is written in the text. Geeze, I mean...it has some really, really nice mechanics to it. But then you get to the story and the only way you could honestly enjoy something like this is if you're one of those feminists or one of those white knight male neutered feminists that has some severe mental issues of the "I deserve this because i'm a male" variety. Laugh it up, but those do exist and in numbers. Mechanics wise, I give it a 4/5. But anything else is in the negatives. Roleplaying games should be open and fun, not a political fuckfest because someone's latest facebook rally didn't get enough likes and they felt triggered by going into the real world. I would ALMOST go so far as to say that giving this away for free is a war crime, as the game itself promotes ideals that are quite frankly for the mentally unbalanced. I WOULD go so far as to say that its pushy enough to be acceptibility wise on par with a tabletop game made explicitly around the concept of rape. That is, entirely unacceptable. Avoid this game.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
by Michael B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/02/2014 00:17:03

The other reviews do a great job of listing the awesomeness of this ruleset so I'll just list what I love about it personally.

  1. Feels totally compatible with my old school D&D rules. I thin you could run this with almost no conversion, other than ascending AC.
  2. I love the way the rules tie to the gaming philosophy. It's just the right combination of old school values (The game is more fun when real chances of failure exist with significant costs of failure) and new school, play it how you want.
  3. The way classes give you skills and races give you saves is elegant and something I've thought about for years. Nice to see it in print.
  4. The DM advice is clean and concise and WILL have you running a better game. It's mostly stuff we all know but it's presented in a way that will make it VERY easy to think about and make positive improvements to your game prep.
  5. The entire game is in a small book. You need nothing else.
  6. All your old monster books will work with it.

Now the bad. Or at least the stuff I didn't think would make my game work better.

  1. There seems to be no basic fighter class. Was kind of put off by that. But, just use a fighter from some other old retro and you'll be fine.
  2. Each class gets a way to add henchmen. Very cool. But you get an extra henchmen (or the ability to get one) EVERY SINGLE LEVEL! I can't imagine the game wouldn't get cumbersome by level 10 with 5 players all managing up to 10 henchmen. Seems that is what the game would be at that point. Maybe that would be awesome? Maybe it would be painfully tedious? Overall I love this ruleset!


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
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Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2013 15:18:14

A brilliant game, worth every penny if you want a simplified-yet-versatile fantasy rpg, but one oversight (sadly) keeps it from being the go-to game for my future fantasy gaming -- one of the core archetypes for this style of gameplay appears to be missing.

We have the Knight class; the warrior for whom social standing and public perception (honor) are crucial. We also have the Savage class, which effectively brings us the fierce, raging warrior from beyond the borders of decadent civilization.

What we lack is some sort of Sellsword or Mercenary class -- a character type some of my players have gravitated toward since the first edition of AD&D. The ex-soldier or city guard or similar, now seeking their fortune through adventure and plunder.

Neither a high-born fighter concerned with social standing, nor a wild barbarian primitive, the sellsword archetype is, perhaps, the "everyman" fighter.. Motivated to move beyond the familiar in search of fortune.

Don't get me wrong, Ambition & Avarice is probably the best and the smartest "original-school fantasy" ruleset I've seen in decades. If you have any interest, buy it. However, I know my players, and this lack of a seminal archetype has moved A&A from "a game I must run as soon as I possibly can" to " a game I will probably run, once I can figure out some sort of kluge version of the missing archetype".

My opinions, anyway.

It may indicate how good the game is, that I actually regret this turn of events.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cascade Failure
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2013 03:58:37
  1. Political dedications, seriously? Stephen Colbert, and John Stewart "speak truth to power" really they seem to speak agreement to power as long as it's somebody they like.
  2. Rolling low is good now. Huh? Why did decide to reverse one of the basic tenets of 3rd edition?
  3. A single new weapon system which is basically just the space version of a submarine wipes out interstellar civilization. Sure because remember how U-boats wiped out human civilization in Europe during the first World War.
  4. Science Check needed. The revolutionary new fuel source requires the elements platinum and osmium for all the full tanks and fuel lines. That's pricey stuff, imagine if your car's gas tank, fuel lines and engine needed to be made out of gold or else they would explode, ya that'll make it affordable right.
  5. Rules that make you go "huh?". Any damage to a person using a flamethrower has a chance to cause it to explode. So if I kick them in the shin...KABOOM!
  6. Feats had to be renamed because...?
  7. Sure the pictures are pretty but anybody can cut and paste stuff from the internet.


Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Cascade Failure
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Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
by Nadav B. D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2013 08:13:07

I've ran a couple of sessions of this game so far and have enjoyed them like I haven't enjoyed RPGs in a while.

The game accomplishes several things I've seen done only marginally well in other games, OSR and otherwise. The classes are all pretty grand and interesting, each filling a niche but serving a greater whole very well. They all also feel as wicked as they should, since the author wishes to convey adventurers as folk you don't want around and seems to succeed in all cases. As a whole, the book is just the right length, and the layout done so well, that it's a breeze to read through to process the content. Preparing a session is incredibly simple yet thorough and nearly the entire thing provides the GM with a wealth of tools to create worthwhile adventures easily. The shining gem of the game, though, is how painless it is to dispose of any rule that doesn't fit your playstyle. Unlike some games, the rules here feel very modular, which allowed me, for instance, to easily ignore weight and movement rates and feel no ill from it.

This is a shining gem of good OSR design and I'm glad to have bought this game within its 24 hours. Best investment in a game I've done to date. I don't think there is a single RPG I can recommend quite like I can recommend Ambition & Avarice.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
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The Last Candle
by Roger B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2013 08:45:09

The Last Candle is an OSR-compatible introductory module for low level characters. Much like the Keep on the Borderlands, this module provides an urban setting set around a priory (The Last Candle) and a nearby dungeon setting (The Eagle's Eyrie). This module is a step up from the classic Keep, however, because it offers numerous adventure opportunities in the surrounding lands.

There are five plot hooks set in the priory allowing for multiple different adventures. There are 20 wilderness encounters detailed for the surrounding areas. There are 11 areas of interest, further detailing these surrounding areas. Finally, the Eagle's Eyrie dungeon has 64 keyed rooms. The combinations of encounters, areas, and adventure opportunities should be more than enough for any group to adventure even past the 1-3 character levels listed on the front cover. Your group should get a lot of miles out of this product for only $4.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Last Candle
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Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
by sean w. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/20/2013 11:10:07

I've read and played through a plethora of retro-clones/variants and A&A is one of the most refreshing to read - it isn't a cut-n-paste job, the author has balanced easily-remembered streamlined rules with cool ideas in a well-laid-out PDF. His enthusiasm and experience shines through in the tone and the quality of advice given.

My gaming crew played our first A&A session a couple of days after purchase and I can confirm the rule-set plays as good as it reads, the innovations working together smoothly to enhance the old-school experience.

Well recommended !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
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Cascade Failure
by J. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2013 17:29:03

The production value, from idea to execution, is incredible—and most certainly not just in the “pretty cool for an indie” department. Could need some proof-reading and a one-shot adventure to get started but hey! it’s still in beta. Also, it’s free. Actually, as I downloaded Cascade Failure a good while ago and didn’t get around to checking it out until today, I came back to see if there’s more stuff related to the game I could purchase! (Seems, at this point in time, there isn’t.) Embarrassingly hypocritical comments notwithstanding, I very much dig the embedded links to the respective artists’ pages, who donated all their artwork for this game—they get exposure, and we get to see more cool stuff. Keep up the good work!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cascade Failure
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Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
by james a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2013 15:11:26

All the choice you want in playing without the slowdown of clunky rules

I read this in Beta and really liked it, and now that its in the !st edition i like it even more.

dungeon throws are a very unique thing, everybody has them at different levels, things like locks, hide, break. its because everyone is NOT a hero in this game, they are adventures.

it has the standard attribute listing that your familiar with in games we have all played for ages, and a little twist on saves

player choice, 10 races 5 civilized and 5 barbarian combine with the multitude of different classes to give you a stunning 80 choices to play, ever want to play a goblin cultist, you can or a dwarf shamen, easy.

the equipment guide is easy and too the point with lots of options and helpful guidance on costs and equipping with some cool insight on light sources and encumbrance

im a fan of individual initiative and here we have it with a d10 used, so those bonuses come in handy and the fight isnt over with whoever wins initiative .

different spells or slightly reskinned spells make the magic users feel fresh and vibrant and not everyone starts with the same spells so there is some variety, no more everyone magic missle everything , and the spells take some thinking to use.

can i use this product with all the other OSR mods and adventures, YES, very easily because its a skin your own monster kinda thing, no pages and pages of the same old thing, but clear and easy guidelines on how to make cool and fresh monsters to populate your dungeon

but even with all of that, this game has some of the best advise i have read on how to play and run games, written in a style that you can understand and is friendly, not the dry textbook rules of so many games

its only 98 pages and prints friendly, yes not some 476 page monster book with 12 page random this and that charts, its concise and too the point, unlike my rambling here

check it out, at the price its a steal and if you really like it, look up the community over on G+ and get in a game or try it out with your home group for something fresh and different



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
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Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
by Roger B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2013 11:24:46

I started to write a review, but I could quickly see that it was going to be too long. Here’s my list of things to like:

Pro: Dungeon Throws. These are similar to some well-known thieving skills, but everyone has them. How good you are varies by race, class, and how you spend discretionary points character points at each level.

Pro: Races. There are a great variety of races to choose from. They are categorized as Civilized and Barbarian. In this game, you aren't really playing heroes. Ten playable races is a very good start for an old-school type basic RPG. There are some very neat individual advantages for each race as well.

Pro: Classes. The standard Fighter, Cleric, Thief, and Magic User are out. Instead you have ten gritty classes that really build up the theme of the game with 5 mundane and 5 magical classes. Like the races, each class has its own individual advantages. The discretionary character points I referred to early allow for some individualization even among characters of the same class.

Pro: Encumbrance. As long as your DM keeps you honest, there is no more loading up on so many items that it would be physically impossible to move in real life. This has always been something that could be adjusted in a home game, but more strict rules are built into this one. (As a player, I probably shouldn’t consider this a “pro”. As a GM and someone who likes a little realism in my fantasy, I do.)

Pro: Item descriptions. Encounter rules. Combat rules. Healing rules. Hazards. Survival. Retainers. Experience. Some of these categories I’m used to from other games of Greg’s (Novarium and Cascade Failure, most notably). Some are new and welcome additions since he was creating a retro-clone.

Pro: Spells. I haven’t had the chance to play a spellcaster yet, but I did get an early look at some of the spells and spell descriptions. These spells really encourage roleplaying over battle magery. It’s like getting Ventriloquim and Grease for spells instead of Magic Missile and Burning Hands.

My love is strong, and this has already become a favored retro-clone.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
by Michael W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2013 16:23:12

I've played my fair share of OSR games, from the original D&D family of games, hacks, re-imaginings, boiled down versions, etc. I've purchased so many I can't even TRY to name them all anymore. Doesn't stop me from buying new ones. This, however, is the first time I've purchased something on a whim, thinking that maybe it's just be another digital file collecting dust on my harddrive for no other reason than I can control my impulse buys. But I was quite pleasantly surprised. I've only had Ambition & Avarice now for, what, two or three hours? It took me only half an hour to digest its mechanics and main rules. Maybe another ten or fifteen minutes to read over the races and classes. Another five to look over Tropes and making monsters.

And already this is my favorite OSR game. And I haven't even had a chance to play it yet.

It has many of the hallmarks of classic dungeoncrawls that one would expect, while keeping a lot of the modern touches that have streamlined gaming since the 70s. I'm not having to dig for information, or flip through page after page trying to cross-reference anything. It has descriptions that draw me in, making me want to pick it up and play it right away...(which is hard to do while at work).

My heart may be firmly planted now in the realm of indie games and narrative-heavy adventures, but if I need that old-school feel, THIS is the game I will bring to the table.

...in fact, I think I'll start prepping a campaign right now...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice: 1st Edition
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2013 15:18:42

These rules look both friendly and comprehensive. They are tight without being strained. The races, classes, and magic abilities and descriptions fire the imagination so you want to try them out.

A hallmark of the system is that it explains enough to clarify its intent, but it stops well short of being verbose. Frequent subheadings and colored text for important key phrases helps find things quickly. The author is aware of how the whole page fits together, and also how the concepts in the entire document string together.

There are small evocative pictures sprinkled through the text, as landmarks and as evocative inspiration.

Sections start with a framing essay, as if to say “This is a way to think about what we are going to talk about next. Not just the rules alone, but also why they exist, and what they are intended to manage.” A great example of this is explaining how to play before making characters. Another great example is explaining the levels of choice and the granularity of play, before getting into combat (and other rules.)

The magic uses fresh, exciting, and original spells that I would love to see at my game table.

This game manages to tread the same ground as other games before it, without a hint of acrimony, competition, or comparison. I sense love and delight in this work, not defensiveness or jealousy. The author wants to share the best campaign practices and “what if” revisions to give the reader the best experience at the game table. A combination of good writing, big enough font size, and careful ordering of information makes a very readable book.

The author concludes by saying he is not striving to be the perfect example, but rather a skilled coach who can give others what they need to run great games. I think he has done a fantastic job of doing just that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2012 09:30:06

Yet another delve into the OSR.

This one is good (and free).

Some of the artwork reminds me of the old Fighting Fantasy & Lone Wolf books.

The currency is silver pieces, not the usual copper, gold, platinum, etc, of other fantasy RPGs.

The download includes 2 character sheets (one fillable, the other ordinary). Also includes 10 pre-made characters.

This is definitely worth downloading.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambition & Avarice
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Ambition & Avarice
by kenneth r. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2012 09:41:38

interesting looking game i can't wait to see the finial product



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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