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Building Characters
by Dario T. N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2018 12:16:40

Although the misspelled words are annoying, the advices and almost hand-guiding instructions on character design are useful. Other works' advices usually feel too vague when trying to put them in practice, and that is where these ones will come handy. I wrote a longer review here.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Building Characters
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Fighter Theory
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2018 22:16:06

Before beginning, I should share that that I have quite a bit of familiarity with this author's past work (especially when it comes to revitalizing and redefining what it means to be "a fighter"). I have always considered this author to be something of an authority when it comes to exploring this concept and wanted to see what they would produce in a system-agnostic format.

This PDF is an extended essay on a common fantasy archetype that appears (in some form) in a wide array of compaign settings and rpgs: that of the common (or not so common) man-at-arms. After providing a (surprisingly flexible) definition of what it means to be "a fighter", the author explores two dozen common narrative threads that fighters occupy in both stories and campaign worlds, whether as protagonist, antagonist (or evil Player Character), or as NPCs. This material can be useful for players and DMs alike (especially when players need reminding that mechanically similar entities can be role-played in highly divergent ways) and the author pays attention to the way that fighters fit into the process of building campaigns. While much of the PDF may seem to assume the existence of a "typical" fantasy setting, The author spends time exploring how a "fighter" might fit into campaigns and rpgs with various genres, tones, and types of campaigns.

All of these nods to other settings and genres, however, reveal the one notable flaw I can see with the PDF. While this PDF claims to be system-agnostic, it still carries the fingerprints of games like D&D and Pathfinder. Without the knowledge that "the fighter" class coexists with "the monk", "the ranger", and "the rogue", for example, a reader may wonder why the book does not spare much thought on martial artists, bounty hunters, or assassins being fighters. Likewise, games that stray too far from the traditional fantasy world (such as Paranoia or Call of Cthulhu) may get a little bit less from this work.

On the whole, however, I enjoyed this work. It may be a bit of a niche product (espeically for its price) but if the underdog story of a common everyman with a weapon facing impossible odds holds a special allure for you, this may be up your alley.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fighter Theory
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Revelations in Cold Iron
by Bradley N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2017 14:40:01

This system strikes me as being very similar to Designer X's Violence system; it seems more manifesto than actual game. It's a 200 page meandering diatribe that reads like a thinly veiled ANTIFA recruitment pamphlet and I have no idea how serious it is.

Is it playable? Yeah, the actual mechanics are dead simple and could probably be explained on the back of a napkin. Effectively, you bet a dice showing how much you want to succeed and then roll d20 plus any bonuses you have to the action you are undertaking. Higher than 10 on the d20 is a success and equal or lower is a failure. How "big" you can win or lose depends on the die chosen for effort. Like most "Storytelling" games it feels utterly toothless mechanically, just one level above sitting around a table and telling a story, occasionally flipping a coin to see if something works. This style of game has never been my cup of tea - I've always believed that stories in role playing should evolve organically in response to a ruleset rather than a ruleset existing for the sole purpose of occasionally resolving conflicts in a story - but even among storytelling games this ruleset is pretty uninspired. Fiasco this is not.

However, the largest point of contention I have here is the actual "Story" behind this storytelling game. Like most storytelling games the majority of the book is taken up by the author telling you the kind of story they want you to tell. They give you examples of antagonists, of the setting, of the sort of things you should be doing, the standard setups. There's a big emphasis put on the difference between objective and Subjective reality, with the core concept being that you can use "magic" to manipulate subjective reality. The spell list is a list of logical fallacies. Its a somewhat interesting idea I suppose, framing the ability of logical fallacies to manipulate the way a person sees the world as magic. It goes on to say that a cult of plutocratic politicians are using this magic to create a subjective reality of their choosing. They stop short of saying "Fake News" but I think you can get the gist.

The problem is that the game seems to have a heavy political leaning and I'm not sure how much of it is intentionally done from a semi-satirical standing and how much is honest. Its Poe's Law. Because there are mentions here and there that hint at a deeper understanding, such as the fact that the Cold Iron's attempts to restore reality to its objective form inherently involve the creation of subjective realities focused around their own pet causes. Does the author understand that both sides are prone to use of this "Dark Magik" that is logical fallacy? Is all the raving about the privileged rich, the valiant struggles of the creative, and the mind washed sheep done with a degree of self awareness or not?

If it is satire, its not very interesting satire. It has that core interesting idea but I don't feel like it does anything fun with it. You get that "Oh,I get it" moment of what they're doing and that's really it. If its really as unaware as it seems sometimes, then I feel kind of like I bought some sort of misguided manifesto masquerading as a RPG game. And I don't want to finance this guy and his eventual car bomb.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Revelations in Cold Iron
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Creator Reply:
"Does the author understand that both sides are prone to use of this \"Dark Magik\" that is logical fallacy? " Yup. "And I don't want to finance this guy and his eventual car bomb." Good call. ;)
Building Characters
by Esteban M. V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/04/2017 03:38:44

First of all, I see how this book can help some people. It's certainly not useless. However, this book, like Story Setting by the same publisher, has many typos, feels a bit laundrylisty, and tries to fill in more pages when things could be described in a more concise way (eg. the Low/Below Baseline/Baseline/Above Baseline/High descriptions is used way too much and takes way too much space, and in most cases it doesn't feel useful to me). My personal highlight is the Types and Roles chapter. It's very good and it's a good reference and inspiration source to write characters. The chapters Aptitudes, Experiences, and Resources feel like fillers and I think they could have been a couple of pages each, instead of ~10 pages each.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Building Characters
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Story Structure
by Esteban M. V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/04/2017 03:16:07

First of all, I think this book can be useful for a number of people, especially if they are starting absolutely from scratch and they have never tried to write short stories or story-driven RPG scenarios. That said. It really feels a bit like a laundry list, and that some of the advice doesn't come so much from experience but from reading other books. Also, there are many typos which make it irritating to read. Finally, The Three-Tiered Series part (most of the book) feels like riffing on the first part, The Three-Act Structure. In short: not bad, but I expected much more.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Story Structure
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Starlight Manifesto Season 1 Campaign Book
by Alex G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2017 03:53:22

The first sourcebook for Starlight Manifesto, this book imagines a TV show, Starlight Manifesto. and offers an entire first season of 13 episodes, taking inspiration from a certain venerable US show with a cult following.

Reading this, I sensed that I was binge watching a show on Netflix which I could only describe as "What if Star Trek had been created by Berin Kinsman, Verity Lambert and J Michael Straczynski?" The adventures dance around some familiar landmarks of old Trek territory - one could see elements of one episode and think "I know where this one's going," only to be blindsided when the story suddenly veers off into something else. Imagine binge watching Trek on Netflix and getting as far as "Mudd's Women," with elements of "The Perfect Mate," and while you're at the front door getting the pizza delivery someone switches the episode to "Balance of Terror," and you'll get the general idea of what happens in this sourcebook (Note: actual gameplay differs from advertised footage).

The 13 adventures are designed as interlinked, although with a bit of tweaking they could be made more episodic, and episodes could be devised by the guide and inserted between these episodes, but it can be played with just these thirteen. The interconnectedness of these episodes, however, gives "Starlight Manifesto Season One" a modern feel, closer to Star Trek: Discovery than to the original series.

The titles of the episodes are inspired by Milton ("As Morning Shows The Day"), Shakespeare ("Naked Villainy," "What We May Be") and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ("The Schemer Falls"). Each title hints at what the episode will be about. The episodes bring in new and recurring good guys and bad guys, feature new equipment, aliens, hazards and strangeness. There is a sense of introductions - just as Star Trek had to introduce the regulars and the signature aliens such as the Romulans and the Klingons for the first time, and just as it had to introduce Vulcan mind melds, the neck pinch, the Vulcan salute and "Live long and prosper" over several episodes, so too does this sourcebook feature episodes introducing some of the signatures of Starlight Manifesto for the first time such as the Zyrosh, the Brocour, the Fringe Worlds, the Tel'Keth and so on.

In the original Star Trek, all the best episodes were in the first and second seasons, with one or two gems emerging from the mire that was season 3, and ignoring "The Omega Glory," "The Empath" and that one with the space hippies. Please let's not have an episode in a future season where the player characters are required to play a bicycle wheel as a musical instrument.

I'm hoping that future series will appear, exploring other episodes from this much-loved series from a universe where Gene Roddenberry had landed a role writing Mission: Impossible and Bruce Geller ended up as showrunner for a Star Trek where Martin Landau played Spock, and Harlan Ellison wrote "The Naked Time."

And now I feel like I just binge watched an entire Netflix season of the show. Bring on Season 2.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starlight Manifesto Season 1 Campaign Book
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Roleplaying Emotion
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/20/2017 12:57:14

'Roleplaying Emotion helps you to understand the character’s emotions within the context of the story goal, their personal goals, and their motivations. When this are going well, the character will express things like affection, contentment, happiness, hope, and respect. When things go poorly, they’ll express anger, disgust, fear, sadness, and shame.'

Having read the above blurb I expected a mechanic that took in game events and helped determine the character's emotional responce however there are no rules for this at all. It's a little tough to unravel and it took a while to realised all it is is a series of extra tracked stats that define the characters emotional state but no rules for what modifies the stat values.

The descriptions of emotions, their consequences, and how characters enact them are ok and the choice of stats seem to be broad enough to work.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Roleplaying Emotion
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Story Design 2 [BUNDLE]
by Jeff J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2017 10:58:03

Warning, to enjoy this product you have to be willing to put up with spelling and grammar mistakes.

(Example: in Story Design- Decline and Fall; "The" instead of "They" near the top of page 10.)

That said, I am enjoying reading these PDFs. Every one that I read sparks ideas for possible stories. It makes for an interesting look at what is required for each type of story.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Story Design 2 [BUNDLE]
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Story Design [BUNDLE]
by Jeff J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2017 10:48:44

Warning, to enjoy this product you have to be willing to put up with grammar mistakes.

(Things like the word one instead of won in the Story Design-Duel book)

That said, I am enjoying reading these PDFs. Every one that I read sparks ideas for possible stories. It makes for an interesting look at what is required for each type of story.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Story Design [BUNDLE]
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Play Hard: Action Movie Roleplaying
by Alex G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2017 18:20:36

A tribute game based on action movies.

Think of action heroes - Bruce Willis crawling through air ducts, Arnie chewing the scenery and putting people down with one liners, Sly Stallone fighting off the entire Soviet Army armed with nothing but a machete and a couple of trick arrows, Clint Eastwood sneering at a corrupt police force, Charles Bronson's silent vigilante bringing dirtbags to justice.

This is where you get to play the heroes of those kinds of movies.

What's your story? Are you a police detective chasing down bent cops a la Serpico? Are you a government Marshall protecting witnesses by "erasing" them with elaborate theatrical trickery? You can be a Special Forces soldier, part of a unit chasing invisible aliens in a steaming jungle, or a First Officer aboard a commercial ship plagued by a chestbursting xenomorph.

The game mechanics, a simplified version of the Lighthouse roleplaying system, are so simple and easy to learn that you'll all but master them in the first session, allowing you to enjoy the game without the rules getting in your way.

Whether you want your action movie to be grim and gritty, or light-hearted and packed with one-liners, this game is for you. Just remember - these aren't the kinds of stories where the problems can be solved by just talking. You're only here to do one thing, and also chew gum ... and they're all outta gum.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Play Hard: Action Movie Roleplaying
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Lighthouse Roleplaying System™
by Daniel P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2017 22:42:04

I picked up Lighthouse because I have found that my tastes in roleplaying game systems have drifted more towards the simple and narrative, rather than the complex and rules-laden. Everything I read about Lighthouse told me it would be along the same conceptual lines as other games with those qualities I already liked, so I went for it.

I like a lot what Kinsman has done in Lighthouse, a lot. This is a narrative-focused system that highlights descriptive devices, using dice mechanics sparingly and meaningfully to drive the story forward with an eye towards drama.

In Lighthouse, characters are built using descriptions with varying levels of importance/complexity--Big, Medium, and Small Things--each with its own numeric bonus. Rather than get bogged down in extensive skill lists and abilities, what a character can do is derived organically from each Thing description in conversation between the player and the Guide (Game Master).

The resolution mechanic is simple, using a d20 + modifiers to achieve either a low (1-10) or high (11-20), odd or even result. You then put forth a die bid, a die which determines how much you're investing into that particular roll, ranging from d4 (barely invested) to d12 (you're all in). A low result is a failure, high is a success, odd means Guide narrates, even means rolling player narrates, with the bid die determining the level of success/failure.

Threats to the characters are handled using narrative devices called Consequences, which are tied to the bid die. Characters have five slots of increasing degree of seriousness with which to absorb "damage" received during conflicts, from d4 (a very light consequence) to d12 (a potentially-permanent consequence). Consequences are dictated by the narrative, and are meant to evoke drama, not bad luck with the dice, so that no one bites the dust unless everyone playing agrees it is the proper, dramatic consequence.

The Lighthouse book includes a number of character examples drawn from easily-identifiable pop-culture stories, showcasing the versatility of the system, while the example of play helps the reader see how the pieces all fit together when in use. To this add that the book is only $3.00, and you have an easy-to-use, new-player friendly, storytelling-driven, affordable game that can power pretty much any story you and your friends want to play through at the table.

Dancing Lights Press has already published a couple of games powered by Lighthouse, and I can't wait to see how the system moves for each of those settings, as well as in what ways it can be hacked at home.

If you like Fate Accelerated Edition, or value dramatic storytelling over task simulation in your roleplaying games, pick up Lighthouse and give it a spin. Personally, I can't wait to do so.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lighthouse Roleplaying System™
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Premise: Fantasy - 100 Plot Ideas
by Arto S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2017 07:50:04

This is really useful as the plots are written generic enough for both protagonist and antagonist point of view. Too many plot books are way too specific on races, locations and artifacts etc almost sounding like mini adventure-modules. It rhymes with my own approach on story design: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/218412/Structured-Free-Association-Story-Plot-Method-20?src=dancing



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Premise: Fantasy - 100 Plot Ideas
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Starlight Manifesto
by Alex G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/12/2017 10:11:22

Berin Kinsman's latest tour de force from Dancing Lights Press, Starlight Manifesto ventures into science fiction roleplaying - a genre dominated by Traveller and other SF games.

The characters are Peacekeepers of a galaxy-spanning interstellar organisation, in the manner of Starfleet officers from Star Trek or the Earthforce from Babylon 5. They are explorers, problem solvers, ambassadors and occasionally warriors.

The Starlight Union is not a perfect organisation, but they do have a system - and it works. The underlying philosophy behind the Union is outlined, and echoes both Trek and Babylon 5 in that it paints a future of inclusivity and cooperation, driven forwards by reason and optimism.

The characters' role is exemplified by the virtues espoused by Doctor Who - never being cruel, never being cowardly, and recognising fear as a companion and teacher rather than a threat to be met by a hail of plasma fire, an attitude seen all too often in other SF roleplaying games.

Starlight Manifesto is a full roleplaying game, using the Lighthouse Roleplaying System available separately. All you need to play is Starlight Manifesto, dice, pencil, paper and your imagination.

As with all Berin's books so far, there is no art: the aim is to free your imagination to picture the humans, aliens, equipment and visual appearance of the game the way you see it. The lack of art is a feature which results in the books being not only very small, but very good on your pocket.

The game became a DriveThru Best Seller within days of its launch, which is testimony to the creative power and passion of Berin Kinsman, manifest in the optimistic tone he adopts in this book.

In Revelations in Cold Iron, the protagonists had their work cut out for them; in Starlight Manifesto, the positive philosophy is not only triumphant, but ascendant. The universe beckons, and the future will be with us for a long time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starlight Manifesto
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Starlight Manifesto
by Guy H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2017 05:44:33

Starlight Manifesto is a space opera setting, optimistic in tone, beset by other civilizations who are not so enlightened. Though reminiscent of several favorite examples of the genre,Starlight is a setting of its own. The characters are members of the Starlight Peacekeepers, exploring, keeping tge peace, and opposing the numerous endmies of the utopian union. Berin Kinsman gives us more than a setting and a rules set (the Lighthouse Roleplaying System), but he gives practical advice on creating a campaign in keeping with the optimistic setting, and on the purpose of each element of the game. Instead of creating numerous species of little depth, he has created several well-developed races, which you can nevertheless customise to suit your interpretations.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Revelations in Cold Iron
by Lon S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2017 15:57:49

Berin Kinsman has long been a bright light in the roleplaying community, and Revelations in Cold Iron continues this tradition. The setting and premise are a wonderful bit of catharsis in a time when that's badly needed. While Kinsman has tried to not make the game a specific political polemic, it can't be what it is without being a general one. This is a selling point for me; I understand it won't be to everyone's taste, but for those similarly inclined it will be a fantastic fit.

Also, if you're looking for something like The Invisibles: The Role-Playing Game, this is as close as you're likely to find. Which is also a selling point for me.

The Lighthouse system, the engine of the game, is a fantastic rules-light system for which I can see near infinite applications. Like any rules-light system, it really requires that the playes and the GM have a strongly shared vision of what the game is uspposed to be. There isn't much in the way of rules to enforce genre or tone; that's left up to the people at the table to do for themselves.

My only real complaint, and the only reason this didn't get five stars, is that Kinsman really needs a line editor. It's clear he put a lot of work into this text, but it's also clear that it suffers from the author being too close to see some of his own mistakes.

So, yeah. Go buy this game. Hell, buy everythinf from Dancing Lights Press. It won't break your bank, and it will support an indie game designer who's clearly in this for the love of his hobby.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Revelations in Cold Iron
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Creator Reply:
Thanks, Lon!
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