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100 Sci-Fi Adventure Seeds
by Frivalszky P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2018 08:17:24

I'm really happy with this pdf, it contains well thought-out ideas, real sci-fi story elements, and there are multiple suggested plot twists for each story idea. So it goes much further than most "story idea generators" and the like. Exactly what I needed!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Sci-Fi Adventure Seeds
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100 Fantasy Adventure Seeds
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2017 14:19:15

100 Fantasy Adventure Seeds, by James "Grim" Denbrough Published by Chronicle City Review by Andrew Merzetti, from review copy offered gratis by publisher.

In this review, I'll go over my expectations and the author's stated goals, then cover three areas: I'll discuss the layout, move on to the utility of the content, and conclude with value for money.

Introduction: Expectations and Goals.

I expect a plot aid to have ideas that are better than what I come up with when it's half an hour to game time and I've spent all day working on excuses and watching football. 100 Fantasy Adventure Seeds pretty much sets this as its goal -- "Grim" Denbrough offers a book of rough sketches to spark our wits a bit, with twists that can be applied to complicate things. The fair question, is, then, I think: "Is this book worth buying for the GM who has the imagination to meet the author in the middle? In other words, do these plots help, or leave the good GM with as much work as, or even more than, before?" Let's move on and find out.

Layout and Structure.

The layout is very well done. The cover art is a fine piece of work (very much a by-the-numbers monster vs party scene, but it's what's in the tin). The layout is very efficient: the typography, white space and organization of the book are excellent. It's all very legible, the words sit easy on the page, and there is one page per seed. The structure as well (Title, Seed Description AKA the plot, Twist 1, Twist 2, Twist 3, Epilogue, Callout) is straightforward. Structure and layout, then, are excellent, and allow the content to come to the fore.

The Content.

Here I will mimic the structure of the book itself, and review each feature on average. I have read each seed at least twice, and have privately rated each on several facets, but I will be general here.

Descriptions (ie, Plots): Not many of the plots are lemony fresh. Several instances of border wars, pirate takeovers, landgrabs, fairyland time-dilations and materials fetching. That's okay. This is a book of fantasy adventure seeds, and few ideas are original. I won't fault Denbrough for not inventing a new art form here, but I will say that about every fourth seed evinces a "Next". Nobody needs Adventure 73: Shrooms, which tells us that the fey cross over into our world by mushroom ring and, twist! the whole thing was a fairy dream or twist! y'all got ten years older because of that one wild weekend in downtown Las Feygas. (Although that might just be me; I'm an old dude, and pretty well read. A twenty-year-old GM might never have come across the idea of time's passage in the land of the Fey.) But moving on from the negative, I will say that as much as you won't many times be bowled over by original ideas in these base concepts, Denbrough comes through several times with a very solid people-oriented seed, such as Adventure 29: A Little Tied Up, about orcish slaver tribes and their conflict with civilization. This is only my bias, alright, but this is what I want. Social conflict, not arcane blacksmiths who can't fetch their own magic charcoal because feudalism. I'd say maybe one idea in twelve breaks away from timeworn ideas and gives us real meat this way. Obviously, I wish the number of this kind of plot were higher. In my view, all of these fantasy cliches are done done done. The only thing that can save them is a great twist! How does Denbrough do in that regard? Read on.

Twists (three for each seed): Quite variable in quality, but Denbrough's good for about one neat twist per seed. He strikes out a few times, and hits a two-run homer a few times, but his average is around one good twist per page. That's decent. A twist will sometimes save what is otherwise a fairly hack idea, as in Adventure 30: Pilgrim's Progress, where there are a couple of sound twists to the old escort deal (i.e, twist! there's a murderer in the ranks, and twist! the destination of the pilgrimage is the belly of a Lovecraftian horror.) There aren't too many ill-thought out twists, as in Adventure 53: Sanctions, a border-war seed with a twist that undercuts the PCs and turns their sanctioned acts into banditry in a way that would probably raise a lot of protests at my table.

(Parenthetically, I'd like to mention that I would like to see a seed book include what I call "turns" to its twists. By "turn" I mean a note that helps the GM introduce, conceal, or reveal the twist. Twists are easy to write. "Twist! The vicar is actually a demon, and, subtwist!, the people all know it". Great. How do I hint at this? What might be the item, or the moment, of revelation? A note on a test of wit, or of sense, or of strength or what have you; it would help a lot. For example, "Adventure 9: Monkey On My Back" is predicated on some form of parasitic zombie creatures taking over a town as symbiotes for a greater entity. Fine. But how do I introduce, conceal, or reveal any of this? It's a fine seed as a springboard to further the GM's own writing, but too complex for an emergency when there's no help in how to make this plot roll out, simmer, and explode. Again, Denbrough's objective is not to do this -- it's just something I'd like to see more of.)

Epilogues: They're there. Nothing shocking. Descriptions of obvious fallout or other consequences to the plot.

Callouts: The boxed advice is, again, mostly obvious, with not too many useful bits. A few nice ones, like in Adventure 10: Demon Stalker ("As an alternative to killing the cult members in order to get home, the demon might be killing them in an extended ritual of some sort..." but also unhelpful stuff like in Adventure 36: Trading Places where we get "This plays out best with lots of Machiavellian plots and intrigues", which has all the helpfulness of somebody telling you to be careful after you've already wiped out on the sidewalk. There is also the sort of stuff that I try to avoid completely, as in Adventure 12: Whips, Zips, Clips & Chains, where the GM is advised to nerf the abilities of mages and thieves via magical collars so that the plot can work. I mean, on the one hand, yes, if it's a world of mages and rogues, slavers are gonna nerf these folks somehow. But I'm always leery of picking up a plot that requires such spiking to work. I don't care how high-fantasy things are expected to be, I just will not initiate this plot. YMMV.

Value For Money.

I'd say that $10.00 USD is a little too dear for this book. Denbrough has certainly done a lot of work -- there's a lot of writing here, a lot of cataloging and following up -- but the ideas are, in many cases, the things that you and I have run for our players too many times already. So you probably won't flip to a random page and get inspired, but if you read it cover to cover, you'll have a dozen sound ideas. So, in conclusion, having read it through several times, this guy, AKA me, who's GMed since 1985, and who has purchased through DriveThruRPG alone a library of hundreds of titles, says that $10.00 is a bit too much, when similar products of the same stripe are offered for less, or for free, or having much more content at a comparable price-per-entry (for example, 650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds & Hooks or 100 Roadside Encounter Ideas by roleplayingtips.com, or Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters by Engine Publishing). Cut the price down a couple of notches and I'd say we're in business. This is solid work that, in itself, many or most will find useful.

Thank you for reading, and thanks to Angus Abranson at Chronicle City for reaching out to me and providing me with a copy of the work, and to "Grim" for his good work.

Andrew Merzetti



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
100 Fantasy Adventure Seeds
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Forever Summer
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/25/2014 06:43:57

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/07/25/tabletop-review-forever-summer/

So, back story. I saw Forever Summer come up in late June and the concept sounded interested, but I just didn’t have time to review it. As the weeks went on I noticed no one was reviewing and I started to feel sorry for it as the concept was a cute one, so as soon as I had a break in the deluge of my usual review material, I managed to fit this in. I’m still kind of shocked this isn’t getting much attention as it’s designed for kids (a much needed demographic in our industry), is very cheap (under five bucks) and the core concept is pretty fun. What is that concept? Well, in the immortal words of Joel Hodgson/Robinson, “Let’s have an adventure like The Goonies!”

Welcome to Oceanvale, a small coastal town in the Pacific Northwest. On the surface it’s like your typical sleepy rural town. Underneath the surface though…weirdness pervades! Perhaps there is pirate treasure to find, an alien posing as the principal, a haunted house on the outskirts of town and more! All that is need is a good Responsible Grown-Up (Name for the DM/GM/Storyteller/Keeper/etc in this game) and a troupe of players willing to have adventures in the same vein as many 80s style family friendly films. Besides The Goonies, Forever Summer is also inspired by things like E.T., Eerie, Indiana, Goosebumbs, Fright Night and even South Park. The gist is something weird supersaturates Oceanvale and while the adults are oblivious, a group of spunky kids with attitude and curiosity are the only ones that can save the day. Again, this is a very cute concept although I think it is going to appeal for to adults who were children in the 80s rather than kids of today. It’s very much a piece of nostalgia rather than focuses on the type of stories today’s young children are actually watching and enjoying.

The art is…interesting. The cover is perhaps the worst art in the game and I think it’s the colouring job that makes it visually unappealing as the same artists does all the very nice internal black and white art in Forever Summer. Of course, the cover is meant to help sell the piece, especially for a digital only game, so please don’t judge a book by its cover – literally in this case. Most of the interior art are pictures of the sample characters and it’s very well done. It’s not what you would see in a big budget RPG, that’s for sure, but for a small indie press, I felt the art really captures the atmosphere of the game. There is a lot of art in this piece considering the whole book is only fifty-eight pages in length and most of it brought a smile to my face.

The game is pretty rules-lite, which makes sense for a game designed for ages seven and up. Unfortunately it’s a little too sparse on rules with huge chunks of things simply not appearing in the book, making the game a bit unplayable in its current form. Character creation is a notable example. There are eight steps to making a character, but there are no guidelines or help toward making them. Step #4 is “Add +1 to Nerd, Jock, or Popular” which are essentially the classes in the game. That is all the book gives you. This would imply that you start off with a single point in one of these and nothing in others. However, the pre-generated characters all have between six and seven points distributed between the three. There is simply no explanation at all for the discrepancy. The character creation rules are little the eight bullet points. This gets worse with Step #7 where it says “Note down your special power.” The book gives no guidelines or helping hands in this regard. It’s left completely up to the imagination. This is fine to a degree, but the game really needs some structure or hand-holding, especially if you have single aged kids playing. Little kids are going to pick things like nuclear explosions or summoning Batman. I think younger gamers or those used to more structure to their game will get very frustrated with the copious amount left unsaid in Forever Summer.

Mechanically, Forever Summer is fine. All you need are some six sided dice. You only roll when there is a possibility of failure or in a challenge with another character. In this case the player and the GM roll a six sided die and added any bonus such as their Nerd/Jock/Popular rating plus any points they have for being Good/Very Good at a skill. Highest total wins. That is literally all the mechanics in the game. Again, some RPG “purists” might poo-poo the lack of rules other than this, but for young gamers or first time RPG’ers, this is a smart way to do things. Sure, when I was in single digits, I was playing percentile games with all sorts of charts like TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes, but I’m pretty sure I was the exception and not the rule. By keeping the rules light and simple, along with only using six sided dice, Forever Summer becomes a story-telling piece with some light rolling to add tension. That’s going to be what young kids need.

That said, there are still some rules missing. There’s nothing about what happens is another kid helps you out. There is an example of holding a door closed as a challenge between one kid and a monster, but what if three or four kids are holding the door shut. What if a Brain is helping a Jock study, do they get a bonus on that test which, if passed, will let the Jock get out in the nick of time to save his friends? Again, there are a lot of things that will come up in Forever Summer that are ignored or that the authors didn’t think of, which will frustrate younger gamers or new GMs. A little more substance could have gone a long way here.

The majority of Forever Summer is spent on describing Oceanvale along with its important locations and residents. This is great that the game really fleshes out the town, but when have of your book is spent go in-depth about your core location instead of spending time on finishing the rules or character creation…that’s not a good decision in my book. The game is meant to be a rules-lite experience where imagination takes precedence, but then most of the book is telling you where you are and who dwells within instead of letting the players make it up themselves. It’s odd that the game is so constricting in this regard when it’s been so hands-off in everything else. I think the Oceanvale content should have either been a supplement and/or that the rules and character creation content should have received more attention for Forever Summer to truly work. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Because of this odd choice of priorities by the design team, Forever Summer goes from being a great concept to a game that really needs a lot of work if it is to ever find an audience.

Although the price tag is only five bucks and Forever Summer does have its moments, I can’t really recommend the game in the condition that it is in. Perhaps with a few more pages to explain the rules in a manner the target audience could better understand, or some more in-depth help for the Responsible Grown-Up, and you’d have a fine indie game with a small but loyal underground following. In this state though, Forever Summer needs a little more work before it is ready for its big screen debut.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Forever Summer
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Creator Reply:
Points taken and we\'ll revise the existing edition to try and clear up some of this. That said... I like the cover. Clearly a matter of taste! :) Nerd/Jock/Popular are the statistics, not classes. The characters aren\'t pregenerated, they\'re templates. You pick a template and customise it to get a character. The discrepancies are balance/representation. Special power is determined by template, not made up. Some think that leaving some rules and situations unstated is a good thing. The OSR - much derived from early D&D and red box, believes that leaving things to people\'s interpretation is a good formula for learning and getting into gaming. Perhaps after Machinations of the Space Princess I took that too far. I hope you\'ll re-review when we do the new version!
Eternal Contenders
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/25/2013 08:49:44

An interesting take on gladiatorial combat, placing it at the centre of the game - indeed, it's the whole point of the game - with an innovative card based mechanic and no need for a GM if you cannot find one to hand!

It opens with the default setting of a run-down city called Oblim... but you can as easily run your game wherever you want as all you really need is an arena to fight in and an audience to be entertained. Indeed, you could even use this as a sub-game to run gladiatorial combat sessions within the context of a completely different game system if you wanted to do so.

Next comes Character Creation, defining your pit-fighter ready to do battle and win his way to fame and fortune. The base concept is that the character starts out destitute and with nothing else to do bar fight in the arena, and the process is geared around that. Each 'Warrior' - as characters are termed - is built around four statistics: Wealth, Renown, Pain and Hope. These are not statistics as you know them, but measure various qualities: material and less tangible wealth (not just gold but favours owed and the like), fame, and two deep-seated drives that reflect his mental state. Only then do we get to the nuts and bolts of fighting abilities, an interesting approach that puts WHY he is a gladiator central to the character's being. The combat traits are manoeuvre, guard, power and stamina and you can be well-balanced or specialise in one to the detriment of the others as preferred. To add flavour and distinctiveness to each character's fighting, there are Styles and Techniques to choose from to build your own unique fighting style - and each choice provides mechanical advantages too. Characters are rounded out with ownership of an Item - a favoured weapon or piece of armour - which may be used (again to mechanical advantage) once per round, and if wished you can create a rival for him.

On to actually Playing the Game next. Each player takes a turn in the spotlight, when they narrate the scene and can involve other characters as appropriate, not just his own. The resolution system is card-based, with red cards counting as successes and black ones as failures... cards being dealt only when a check is needed. If your character is not in combat with another player-character, generic 'forces of adversity' are portrayed by whoever is sitting to your left. The neat thing is that although whoever gets the most successes wins whatever the check was, the person who got the most failures gets to narrate what happened.

Interestingly, there is scope for more than mere brawling in the arena even though that is core. Other scenes are catered for, and are described in succeeding pages - work, train, soothe, connection, threat, challenge, duel and threat. Each has its own particular form of resolution and reflects a different part of the everyday life of our Warriors. Examples are provided to show how each aspect is played out. The results affect the core statistics of Wealth, Renown, Pain and Hope and may - if appropriate - also change combat traits or other things.

Duels are of course handled in particular detail - this is when you get to strut your stuff on the arena floor in front of a baying crowd. It's not the only opportunity to fight - under 'threat' you may be involved in a street brawl or be attacked by robbers or the like - but this is the main focus of the game, the climax towards which everything else works. Quests let characters break out and go off to achieve fame and fortune elsewhere than in the arena.

Finally, someone's Renown is going to exceed a target number and this triggers an Endgame in which each warrior gets one final scene in preparation for one climatic arena battle in which everyone participates. Each then has an Epilogue in which players narrate the conclusion to their character's story.

Overall this is an interesting take on the concept of a gladiatorial combat game, taking it beyond a mere fighting simulation yet remaining focused on combat as central. It slides towards 'story game' rather than true role-playing but is not as contrived as many story games are in terms of what can occur, even despite the clear focus on gladiators.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eternal Contenders
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