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The Fate Codex - Volume 1, Issue 2
by Oliver O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/23/2016 10:12:40

This publication is an awesome way to explore the flexibility of the FATE system, and find sources of inspiration for any sort of game you want to run. The quick start adventure in particular was appealing, not only for use as is, but as a model for how you can prep an entire campaign with a minimum of work and a maximum of flexibility to allow for improv at the table top. The alternate rules section also gets into how you can swap the "notice" skill for a "survival" skill, which is perfect for gritty settings - but this section also offers some insight into how the game design developers see skills in FATE. This is fascinating for anyone interested in design, or the workings behind a great RPG.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex - Volume 1, Issue 2
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Urban Shadows
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2016 14:36:26

Urban Shadows ist ein politisches Urban Fantasy Setting, geschrieben von Andrew Medeiros und Mark Diaz Truman, das von Serien und Romanreihen wie Supernatural, True Blood und Dresden Files inspiriert wurde.


Vier Fraktionen ringen in einer von der Spielrunde gemeinsam gestalteten Stadt um weltliche und übernatürliche Macht: Sterbliche versuchen sich gemeinsam gegen Monster zu behaupten, deren Absonderlichkeit sie kaum begreifen. Die Fraktion der Macht umfasst Menschen mit übernatürlichen Fähigkeiten wie Magier oder Medien, die durch ihren bloßen Willen die Realität verändern können. Kreaturen der Nacht sind die Monster, welche die Straße der Stadt unsicher machen – Vampire, Werwölfe, Geister. Schließlich gibt es noch die Fraktion der Wilden, die verschiedene ausgestoßene Kreaturen umfasst wie Feen aus Arcadia oder Menschen, die ihre Seele einem Dämon verkauft haben. Jeder Charakter beginnt das Spiel als Teil einer der vier Fraktionen, kann diese aber im Laufe des Spiels verlassen und Teil einer anderen Fraktion werden.


Eine interessante neue Mechanik ist Korruption. Die Korruptionsleiste spiegelt wider, wie häufig ein Charakter seiner dunklen Natur nachgibt oder sich dunklen Mächten öffnet, um an mehr Macht zu gelangen. Jedes Playbook verfügt über einige Korruptions-Moves, die es den Charakteren ermöglichen, recht schnell recht viel Macht zu erlangen. Wen ein Magier beispielsweise schwarze Magie nutzt, ein Vampir problemlos einen Sterblichen jagt oder ein Sterblicher selbst übernatürliche Kräfte erwirbt, um im großen politischen Spiel eine Chance zu haben, schreitet ihre Korruption weiter voran. Je mehr Korruption ein Charakter angesammelt hat, desto mächtigere Möglichkeiten stehen ihm zur Verfügung, aber desto eher wird er auch zu einem Teil des echten Bösen, das in der Stadt lauert.


Darüber hinaus haben die Autoren das Beziehungssystem weiter ausdefiniert und zu einem noch zentraleren Bestandteil des Spiels gemacht. Beziehungen werden in Urban Shadows durch Schulden definiert, die jeder Charakter bei anderen Charakteren und Fraktionen hat. Diese Schulden können beispielsweise genutzt werden, um Würfelwürfe zu verbessern, Antworten zu bekommen oder Gefallen einzufordern. An das Schuldensystem sind verschiedene Moves gebunden, die abbilden, dass eine Schuld eingefordert wird, dass sich jemand weigert, eine Schuld zu begleichen, dass ein Gefallen getan wird oder dass jemand in einer Auseinandersetzung einen Namen fallen lässt. Das Schuldensystem passt sehr schön zu den korrupten, intriganten Ränkespielen der Fraktionen und ich bin sehr neugierig darauf, wie sie sich im Spiel machen.


Fazit: Politisches Intrigenspiel in der Welt des Übernatürlichen


Mir gefällt die Idee von Urban Shadows gut, auch wenn sie mich nicht so begeistert wie die anderen PbtA-Systeme. Das liegt vor allem daran, dass in den literarischen Vorlagen meist Teile einer Fraktion – also Jäger, Magier, Vampire – gemeinsam gegen die Anhänger anderer Fraktionen vorgehen und dabei in Intrigen und Korruption verwickelt werden. In Supernatural lassen sich die Winchester-Brüder natürlich immer wieder auf einen Handel mit dem buchstäblichen Teufel ein und haben zweifelhafte Verbündete an ihrer Seite; im Zentrum der Geschichte steht aber immer der gemeinsame Kampf der Jäger gegen eine monströse Bedrohung. In Dresden Files gibt es Werwolfs-Gangs und Feenhöfe, im Zentrum stehen aber immer Harry Dresdens Ermittlungen und damit nur die Ausschnitte, welche der Protagonist von diesen Welten wahrnimmt. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, wie sich eine solche Geschichte stattdessen mit mehreren Protagonisten und damit mehreren Einzelinteressen spielt. Da ich Urban Shadows aber bislang noch nicht selbst ausprobiert habe, kann ich dazu noch kein fundiertes Urteil fassen. Es wird aber sicherlich schwieriger als bei anderen PbtA-Settings sein, gleich von Anfang an einen gemeinsamen Vorstellungsraum zu entwickeln.


Sehr gut gefällt mir der Korruptions-Mechanismus, der vor allen den von Anfang an weniger Korrumpierten – den Sterblichen und menschlichen Magiern – Gelegenheit gibt, in eine düstere Spirale von Macht, Verführung und Verzweiflung zu stürzen. Ich kann mir vorstellen, dass dadurch eine schöne spieltechnische Balance zwischen den verschiedenen Gruppierungen geschaffen wird. Ein Vampir, der seiner Blutlust nachgibt, ist schließlich weniger dramatisch als ein alter, idealistischer Jäger, der nach Jahren doch einen Handel mit einem Dämon eingeht, um seine Liebsten zu retten.


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Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Shadows
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The Fate Codex - Volume 3, Issue 1
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2016 12:26:57

A solid and useful issue of the Fate Codex.


Family Favors by John Large setails how to use the bronze rule to represent organizations in your game, and how characters can interact with them, asking for favors and being tasked with returning favors as well.


Mythos Aspects by June Shores shows how to use campaign aspects to influence issues and character aspects in your game, keeping the focus tight and the action appropriate for the type of game you are playing.


La Reina Del Sol gives you a detailed NPC to use in a variety of games.


Amber Twilight by Jima Arunsone is this issues mini-campaign, a space opera-ish game with magic and faeries and stuff. Honestly, this did not work for me. I felt like someone was describing half of a young adult movie series that I wasn't familiar with and leaving most of the details out. I don't want to be harsh. I'm sure someone will love this and play the heck out of it, it just didn't gel with me.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex - Volume 3, Issue 1
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Urban Shadows
by Noel W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2016 13:58:48

Without a doubt, Urban Shadows is my favorite Powered by the Apocalypse game out there (besides the original). The mechanics are brilliant, with Corruption in particular reinforcing the themes of giving in to one's darker self so prevalent in urban fantasy, and it contains some of the best running-the-game advice out there. Highly recommended for fans of the Dresden Files, PbtA games, and good games in general!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Shadows
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Urban Shadows
by Shaun N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/23/2015 00:37:15

Great book, very well refined and written rules with lots of really good advise. It seems the team has taken all of the learnings from the years of Apocalypse World hacks and combined it into a single source on how to run the game well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex - Volume 2, Issue 5
by Sean S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2015 13:34:57

The Fate Codex has been producing solid content for some time now. This is yet another example of their regular, fresh and interesting content. I strongly recommend checking out their Patreon!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex - Volume 2, Issue 5
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The Fate Codex Anthology, Year One
by Vance R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2015 12:08:52

A good group of articles for anyone interested in the concepts and executions of the game'a mechanics, or for someone genuinely in need of advice or inspiration.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex Anthology, Year One
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The Fate Codex - Volume 1, Issue 5
by Alexander P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2015 14:20:10

The roleplaying game industry has some serious growing up to do when it comes to becoming an inclusive hobby. This issue of the Fate Codex gives me hope.


Fate Is A Safe Place is a wonderful essay about breaking stereotypes and providing an experience to everyone in the play group that they will enjoy and be comfortable with; it's this kind of meta-commentary that gaming as a whole benefits from, highlighting issues many folks don't even know exist.


Twilight Dames is the setting provided in this issue, a gritty detective noir world about queer women. It's wonderful to flip the idea of exclusivity on its head and putting players into roles they wouldn't often consider, building an LGBTQ-friendly narrative that manages to triumph from a narrative standpoint instead of just shallow political commentary.


Not to say the entire issue revolves around the topic, of course. The advice on running Fate with little prep is a godsend for a game as hectic as Fate can be, and I love the skillset provided for exploration-heavy games.


Pick this up, and look at the rest of the issues as well. You won't be let down.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex - Volume 1, Issue 5
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The Fate Codex - Volume 2, Issue 1
by Jacob P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2015 15:37:26

I may be a bit biased, as one of my articles is in this issue, but I still think it is pretty great. I found everything in it to be useful in some way. And now I can finally run that Dresden Atomic Robo corssover I have always wanted to do!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex - Volume 2, Issue 1
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The Fate Codex - Volume 1, Issue 7
by Brian H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2015 18:41:38

The information on the Discover action is worth the price of the issue alone. Less for the actual action (though that's useful too) and more for the process of making a new action. Fate is modular, so the more tools you have in your kit the more things you can do. This is a big tool.


The reality TV show stuff is interesting, but not a scenario I'm likely to ever need. Still, more examples of skills is more tools.


SPIRITs is interesting, and enough people in my group liked Inception that this isn't a hard sell. I think I'd want to use it as a smaller part of a more complex setting, but that's just how I am.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex - Volume 1, Issue 7
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The Last Days of Anglekite
by Brandon G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2015 18:40:00

I've read this cover to cover twice, and ran a few games with it. I'm glad I was an early backer and even more glad that I backed the other chaos worlds Magpie games is writing. It's really, really well written, and gives GMs tons of tools to play with.


The Pros:
-The writing itself is really fun to read, I didn't have any issue getting through it.
-Lots of adventure fronts to play with
-Plenty of fun treasure items that can be introduced into nearly any setting, but all have awesome backstory within this one
-Well fleshed out villains!
-The compendium classes are really great
-The advice for LongCons seems like it could come in handy. It's a novel idea and I'd love to attend one.


The Cons:
There's one map in the book, and it's a bit lacking. Off the top of my head, it's missing a scale guide, and on each of the PDF readers I tried (One on my tablet, Foxit Reader for desktop, and the default PDF reader for windows 8), a few places lose their labeling (Anglekite comes to mind). I'd also appreciate city maps, or at least a map of Pandemonium for visual help in the "Pandemonium politics" track. As it stands, I used some randomly generated maps and then threw in the particulars that were necessary for the setting.


Overall, I LOVE this playbook, I love this setting, and I can't wait to play more within the Crater Basin. Now I just need more friends who want to play more often.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Last Days of Anglekite
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The Fate Codex - Volume 1, Issue 1
by Jacob P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2015 22:33:36

I found this to be an excellent resource and a wonderful series overall. Each article is of use, even if you don't directly use it in your games, the articles serve as fodder for the imagination. Seriously, check it out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fate Codex - Volume 1, Issue 1
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Our Last Best Hope
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/23/2012 13:51:13

Great product inspired by story-telling systems like Fiasco. I love the settings provided and the mechanics do exactly what they set out to do. Not sure if it as simple to teach to new players as I would have liked, but can see that the payoff would be worth it absolutely.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Our Last Best Hope
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Our Last Best Hope
by Nenad R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2012 03:54:34

This is a game that does exactly what it set out to do, It is designed to emulate a very speciific scenario, in which a small team is sent out to do something to save the world. All the mechanics are geared towards that one goal, and do so very well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Play's The Thing
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/04/2012 11:07:19

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/07/04/ta-
bletop-review-the-plays-the-thing/


This game, as you might have guessed, is about putting on a play. One person is the Playwright (the GM), and everyone else is going to play one or more roles in whatever production the Playwright chooses. During the course of the game, players will choose actor types and roles, and then act out the play. Some gamers may know the name of the guy who edited the core book for this game: John Wick, known for Legend of the Five Rings and 7th Sea. So, I guess that’s cool.


Overview


Players start out by assigning six points to three attributes: Logos, or skill with words; Pathos, emotional depth and manipulation; and Ethos, understanding of time and place. Each of these attributes will be used by the player whenever they try to accomplish something that isn’t trivial. Together, the three attributes are referred to as Acting Chops. Next, players will choose a type of actor to be: The Lead, The Villain, etc. each with an onstage ability and an offstage ability. The Playwright will then cast the play through a sort of bidding mechanism where players will take a role or add bonuses to the role like props; which, I suppose, is some sort of bidding. I’m not entirely convinced.


The game uses (or at least borrows heavily from) the FATE system. In the game, each role has an “Invoke” and a “Compel”, the first being an effect that they can trigger, the latter being an effect triggered by others. Each of these meta-game actions costs Story Points, which are the currency people use to declare Invokes and Compels. Players can resist these extra influences, but it will cost them Story Points as well. Characters also have “Plots”, which are storyline-based reasons for changing the direction of the scene. Each character will be given some lines that they will get Story Points for using in the play, especially if they perform the line in keeping with the style of the play. In most plays there are props, and likewise in The Play’s The Thing, actors can use props which can appear in the play when needed, and add a bonus die for various activities like hiding or persuading.


A play is broken up into five acts according to the rules, although I’m sure this could be modified without hurting the game any. Each act takes place on a set, which will likely change with each act. The set itself is broken down into places, various areas “on stage” where the actors can be. Anyone familiar with being in plays or the theatre in general will know exactly what this is like. Actors can use places to give them bonuses, provided that it is appropriate.


Alright, so after you have established all of the facts about the characters and the play, you are ready to begin the first act. The Playwright sets the scene by narrating the set, adding at least two characters, and giving a synopsis of the act. As the act goes on, it may change from what the Playwright indicated by players using the aforementioned Compels and Invokes, edits, or just plain not doing what the Playwright said they would.


Once the show starts, players will have the opportunity to do all kinds of crazy things. First of all, you are basically just making up lines as you go (except if you’re using one the Playwright gave you) and deciding on the fly when you want to change something. Changes are referred to as “edits” in this game. When a player wants something to be different, they make an edit. Depending on how big the edit is that someone is trying to make (and whether the Playwright accepts the edit or not), they will try to roll above a fixed target number on all of the d6 that they can muster for that roll. If the edit is successful, it is resolved and the play goes on as though whatever the edit was is now fact.


That’s basically it! The rest of the book has a section on Playwrighting (and indeed play writing), as well a good 30 or so pages about scripts including several condensed versions of popular Shakespeare plays ready to be used for the game. The last section adds some new roles, a new script, and some other new stuff for a sort of advanced version of the game, which is attempting to emulate Shakespearean Romances.


What Do I Think?


I really like the concept of this game and the simplicity with which the mechanisms work. I am very glad to see it when role-playing games go in new directions instead of the same old Fantasy tropes, or Sci-fi, or Dystopia, or whatever. Plus, the game actually seems pretty darn fun. The only problem I see with this game is with people who really hate role-playing, or who just generally aren’t good at it. If you have a gaming group that loves to interact, laugh, act, make other people do what they want, and other such things, then I don’t see how this game could fail.


The Story Point system is a simple way to balance the power and control between the players and the playwright, and it lends a definite game aspect to this… well… game. It makes me wish more games had more game-like elements in them than the rolling of dice.


My only other problems just stem from some confusion while reading the book. For instance, characters have offstage skills, but I did not find a whole lot of information or examples about what players can do with their characters offstage. The descriptions seem to indicate that offstage abilities are just things you can do when you are not onstage acting. The actor types vs. the character roles in the play are also kind of confusing. If I’m a Villain, can I play Othello or is it just going to make the entire play kind of meaningless?


The book layout is well done, and there is fun and whimsical art throughout. While not an exhaustive set of rules, it gives enough structure for a Playwright to run the game confidently as long as everyone is willing to fly by the seat of their pants (which is a big part of the game!). I think it would be great with theatre people (theatre people know what I mean by this), and it might just be a hit with gamers who love social games and messing with things like Shakespeare’s plays. It’s a novel effort, a genuine game, and presented well. Not worth buying if you’re going to let it sit on the shelf, but definitely worth it even for only one night of entertainment with friends.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Play's The Thing
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