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Character Travelogue: Lion
par Reilly R. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 10/19/2013 02:36:25

The scans were very poor in some parts, mainly the page being shifted down from where it should be. I have an original copy of the crab travelogue and I'll be using that, after I take it apart, to make some copies. The cover of this will be useful (to have lion as well as crab) and it will be a good reference for page ordering. For $0.75, I can't really complain.



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Anima: Prometheum Exxet - The Supernatural Artifacts
par Seth M. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 09/21/2013 19:53:10

The product is excellent, the artifact system and general rules work and work well. Overall I'd say this is an excellent Anima product and shows just how good the system can be when compared to DnD or pathfinder.



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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
par John F. O. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 09/03/2013 07:07:50

I got exposed to the Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) setting via the collectible card game (CCG), of which I was a casual player. I liked the setting of the CCG enough that I bought a PDF copy of the RPG core book when it was on sale. This massive 405-page tome is a breathtaking piece of work, and I’m very happy with my purchase.

For the uninitiated, the L5R RPG is set in Rokugan, a fantasy setting based in medieval Japan. Players portray samurai, which are akin to medieval knights, a class of nobles who serve their local lord through strength of arms. A "knight" (called "bushi" in this setting) is not the only type of character you can play, though: thankfully you can also be a courtier (politician/negotiator/diplomat), or a shugenja (priest/mystic). Of course, no Japanese RPG would be complete without the ninja as playable character, and there is also an option to play oriental monks.

The book is divided into chapters named after the aforementioned five rings: The Book of Air (setting material), Book of Earth (RPG mechanics), Book of Fire (character creation), Book of Water (advanced mechanics), and Book of Void (game master's chapter). I find this style is unique and very setting-appropriate, although I ran into some confusion when the chapters were referred to this way inside the book since I know that the titles of some of this game’s supplements are also titled as such.

The cover is very dark but is appropriate for the mood of the game: grim and foreboding. Life of a samurai is not easy – not only will he have to deal with “wandering monsters”, he will also need to act honorably and with courtesy. Indeed, as the tag line at the back of the book says, “Honor and service are valued more than magic swords taken from wandering ogres.”

A map of Rokugan is included in the inside cover of the book. The write ups for the locations are found in the last chapter of the book and it can be a bit annoying flipping through that chapter and the inside covers as you read the entries, most especially in this format. I would have also preferred to have the names of the locations on the map instead of just the key codes in their places.

Next, the table of contents is hyperlinked, and the introduction has a sidebar for owners of the previous edition.

The first chapter, the Book of Air, deals with the setting material. There is an in-depth history of Rokugan from its beginning up to the present timeline. Fans of the CCG will no doubt be familiar with this but for us casual players and newbies to this RPG this is heaven-sent. It does a great job of bringing anyone up to speed with the setting. Geography, culture and society are discussed next and I find that they are sufficient to bring you to the proper mindset when playing in this game. There is a discussion of the tenets of bushido, and some notes on everyday rituals. Most importantly, the overview of each of the major clans is here.

A thing that can be bothersome is the lack of glossary in this chapter. In a setting such as this where there are a lot of Japanese words used, you would think the writers would put in a glossary of terns but they leave it up to the readers to look up all those words in a Japanese dictionary or the Internet.

The Book of Earth is all about game mechanics. This chapter introduces the Roll and Keep dice system that is used in this RPG. Basically, tasks are accomplished by rolling a number of ten-sided dice based on a character trait against target number. A “10” lets you roll that die again and add the results. This mechanic is one of my main cons in this game as this style can be clunky and mathy during play, as the act of mentally adding up those numbers can be tedious especially during play where players can have more than a handful of dice to roll. One can see though that this system was designed with the setting in mind – the system allows your samurai to hold back, “pull his punches”, or intentionally fail, as failure might be the better course of action in a game where Honor is more important than winning a fight. The mechanics of combat (here called skirmishes), and most importantly, dueling, are discussed here.

The Book of Fire is all about character creation. Two styles are presented: a short style where you pick character your character’s stats, and expanded style involving answering questions about your character. If you are familiar with White Wolf’s storyteller games, the expanded style is very similar to the prelude. Casual players will find it easy to make characters while the expanded style option would be enjoyed by more serious roleplayers. The quick character creation involves just five steps: pick a clan (one among eight), pick a family (a minimum of four choices per clan), pick a school (minimum three options), customize your character (use 40 points to buy skill ranks, advantages and disadvantages), and lastly determined derived attributes (such as Honor, Glory, Status, and Insight ranks). There is a wealth of options to choose from, and although there are only basically 4 character types available (bushi which includes the ninja, shugenja, courtier, and monk), no two characters will ever be very much like another, even if coming from the same clan. An extensive list of spells for the shugenja is included, each ring with up to level 6 spells. Lastly, there is an equipment list at the end of the chapter arranged to be very helpful in creating new characters very quickly.

The Book of Water deals with advanced mechanics. For those who find the extensive character customization options in the previous chapter still lacking, there are more options here such as additional clans (Spider and 13 minor clans), families (including Imperial families), advanced schools for each clans, more options for monks (additional schools and spell-like abilities called kiho), and katas (fighting postures that grant bonuses). This chapter also includes mass battle rules that allow for individual actions during combat, the dreaded maho (blood magic) spells, and rules for ancestors. Whew!

Last but not the least, the Book of Void contains the GM information. Extensive advice for new GMs is included, containing tips on how to run this and any other RPG. Various styles of running games are presented, as well as advice on how to build your own adventures. There is even a sample adventure included, which showcase the breath of the system and serves as a reminder of the customs and rituals of Rokugan. Stats for typical monsters, rules for poison, the already mentioned location guide, suggested references and an extensive index round up the rest of the book (although this last one should have been hyperlinked for ease of reference).

All these aside, what ultimately made me give this RPG a five star rating is that it is complete: you don’t need any other book to run the game. It has its own extensive setting material, complete set of rules, expert rules, beginner GM advice, a variety of monsters, an introductory adventure and a blank character record sheet. Who could ask for more?

Fans of medieval fantasy Japanese will love it (although purists might be bothered by some details, like equality of women and existence of lions in the setting). Fans of the CCG will also be thrilled with the translation of their beloved game into this wonderful RPG. Highly recommended.



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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
par Jeff C. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 08/05/2013 14:36:21

Good quality color scan, searchable and functional pdf. Much better than previous version of this book. This 3rd edition system works well but can sometimes get bogged down in details. 4th edition really runs smoother, but this still a quality product by AEG and L5R is a great running game.



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Anima: Dominus Exxet - The Dominion of Ki
par Thomas R. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 07/12/2013 13:35:46

Fantastic supplement with alternative Martial Arts and more about Ki. However they exclude prices and weights for armors and weapons in the book.



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Legends & Lairs: Sorcery & Steam
par Warren S. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 07/05/2013 12:17:56

Very well written and comprehensive ideas on integrating steampunk into your fantasy RPG.



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Dust Warfare: Core Rulebook
par Matheus C. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 04/19/2013 13:36:34

It's a very good book and great game! Very easy to start and very fun to play!



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Legend of the Five Rings: Legacy of Disaster
par Orin M. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 04/14/2013 12:02:44

Listen, I'm gonna be straight with you here. L5R's RPG isn't for everyone. Try this out before you actually buy anything to see if it's for you but i gotta tell you, it's a lot of fun if you can hack it.

In this you'll find all the basics about how to play laid out, the core flavor of rokugan introduced and a colorful beginner's scenario to play through. Everything you need to decide if this is an RPG for you.



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Midnight: 2nd Edition Core Rulebook
par Thomas B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 01/30/2013 23:36:35

WHAT WORKS: The production values are amazing. The flavor text is generally short but evocative, and the art almost universally compliments the feel of the setting. A ton of information is provided (it is a 400 page book), giving ample material to run the setting out of the one book (or so I assume…I do own the whole game line). A lot of effort has gone into making the world oppressive. In many ways, Midnight is more horrific than classic horror settings like Ravenloft. Also, there is no metaplot. The game line never really advances the timeline, so the setting is truly yours to do with as you will.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: I would kill for a version of the book that isn’t written for d20, though I do have a great Savage Worlds conversion downloaded. I don’t necessarily need more supplements, but the line being available via print on demand or something would be great. The setting is written with the assumption that the heroes will always fail, though with no true metaplot being present, that can be worked around.

CONCLUSION: Midnight, along with the Art Haus Ravenloft, is the best thing to come out of the d20 era for me, regardless of how I feel about the game system. I’m eager to give the Savage Worlds conversion a go, and I’ll report back on how that goes here on the blog. I went out of my way to ensure that I purchased the entire Midnight collection in print (I even own the first edition and Against the Shadow, both of which were largely folded into Second Edition), and I’m glad I did. And while I will run the setting harsh, the outcome will ultimately be very much in the hands of the PCs, not myself or the designers’.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2013/01/tommys-take-on-midnight-second-edition.html



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Legend of the Five Rings: The Book of Earth
par Jay S. A. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 01/02/2013 19:31:44

Second in the series of elemental-themed sourcebooks for the timeline-neutral 4th Edition, the Book of Earth is the latest release on PDF.

The Book of Earth focuses on the facets that are relevant to Earth, as broken down to a look into War, the Court, Magic, Enlightenment and the Setting. Like the Book of Air, the Book of Earth also provides a self-contained setting that can be dropped into any campaign. For those looking for new Mechanics, they follow the same format as Book of Air, and have it all on the last chapter of the book.

I find that the approach of showing off each of elements as part of a greater culture and further subdivided per clan is a unique one, and the Book of Earth has some very good insights. My favorite section would have to be a discussion on armor, and the focus of Shiba Artisans creating ornate and functional armor for the bushi of the Phoenix was a very insightful touch.

I'm certain that Crab Clan fans will be very happy to get this book due to the focus and attention it gives to Heavy Weapons as well. There's also a quick section that shows how to use non-standard Skill / Trait pairings that focus on Willpower and Stamina, some of the most underused traits that get some interesting new combinations for both combat and non-combat characters alike.

That said, all the Clans get something from the book. The discussion on armor, castles and sieges for example, apply to all the clans. GMs and Players alike will find inspiration and plot hooks dripping from nearly every sentence, and I can see how this can be an inspiration for character concepts that go beyond the usual Bushi-Courtier-Shugenja trifecta. Sumai Champion bushi? Why not. Shiba Artisan focusing on Armor? Absolutely.

Those who are looking at the spiritual side of the element need not fear as there's a discussion on Earth magic, as well as the families that excel in it. The Tamori family for example is given some spotlight time here, as well as the infamous Chuda family. New Earth spells will make many shugenja players happy, and the Monks get their own set of kiho to shake things up.

Again the Book of Earth is a great addition to the L5R 4th Edition line. Much like the Book of Air, the book manages to expand the depth of culture and history of the setting while still remaining iconic and accessible to new players. Solid writing, combined with L5R's always excellent artwork make this one a winner.



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Legend of the Five Rings: Second City Boxed Set
par Jay S. A. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/11/2012 20:22:21

It's been quite a wait for us who rely heavily on PDF copies of rpg books, but the Second City Boxed set that was released earlier this year has finally made it to electronic format.

I have to admit that I've been curious about this product for a while now, as I'm not entirely caught up on the canon storyline of L5R. Making a whole boxed set placed in what can be considered to be a very new development of the story is an interesting choice, as it does help people like me understand what is actually going on.

The Boxed set download is actually a group of PDF files for easier downloading. These include:

The Pillow Book A Map of the Second City A "for printing" version of the map The Campaign The City The People The Journal of Yogo Tanaka

It's a hefty download, but that's par for the course in L5R pdf books. Besides, most of the time the gorgeous production values and layout are always worth it.

The Maps

Both maps of the Second city are in full color, showing the massive scale of the city in question. It's impressive to look at and gives you a good idea as to just how many people can fit in this place. The difference between the files is just that the for-printing version is cut up into 8 pages, while the other has the entire map in one big image.

I did notice that there didn't seem to be any labels of any sort, so it's really a collection of buildings with some farmlands and a walled city in the middle with a palace in it. I'm curious as to why there weren't any labels, or if the files will be updated later.

The Pillow Book of Ide Arahime

The Pillow Book is a 20 page work of fiction meant to serve as an in-character guide to the Second City as written from the point of view of Ide Arahime, a Unicorn Clan author. Presented as a journal of the author's travel and experiences in the Second City, it presents an interesting "outsider's" view of just how different the Second City is compared to traditional Rokugan, and perhaps to the more astute L5R fans, just how many concessions were made to exist there.

The Author touches on all aspects of life, from the look and feel of the place, to the stranger customs, artwork, and architecture. There's a lot to be learned through the fiction, and I found it to be interesting reading and a good way to slowly introduce the differences to those unfamiliar with the colonies.

The Journal of Yogo Tanaka

This second journal is another in-character account, but serves as a record of Yogo Tanaka's investigations and how it slowly gets out of hand. The writing is well done, and I have to admit that it works well for it's purpose, which is a supplement to the Campaign included in the Boxed Set. I'd rather not go into too much detail with regards to the contents lest I spoil any pertinent information, but the book makes for an interesting prop for the campaign.

The Campaign

This pdf contains the rather... plainly titled, "The Campaign" which is a full length campaign meant for characters using the Second City setting. It's an extensive campaign, with interesting characters and a compelling villain go to after.

The campaign itself is fairly broad, starting from Rokugan proper and spinning off into a tour of the Second City setting itself. It's a strongly investigative campaign that lends itself well to characters and players who are more interested to mysteries than pure combat, though there's enough of that as well to show the unique dangers posed by the new setting.

I'm glad to see the variance of plot hooks in the campaign, and it suits a good mix of characters from different clans as the varying points of view and approaches to solving a problem can come in very handy.

The Campaign ends with a bestiary of the various monsters in the Second City setting, including the Destroyers and stranger creatures that can threaten even the most stalwart of samurai.

The City

This book is the one that provides the meat of the setting. Starting off from the History of the Second City as the Rokugani understand it. There's some mention of the Ivory Kingdoms, but the section starts from the rise of the Cult of Rhumal, and Kali-Ma the Destroyer and how Empress Iweko I proclaimed the colonies as territory of Rokugan.

The book also goes on to discuss the layout of the city, complete with sections of the map as presented in the PDF complete with the annotations I was looking for with regards to the important locations in the city. I'm starting to understand that the maps are the ones that can be provided to PCs who are new to the city, and they can be free to add their own notes as necessary, while the GM has this for reference.

Each district is covered in great detail, with all the locations given a thorough treatment and notable NPCs scattered throughout. The RPG team of L5R is known for being thorough, and it shines through in this book.

The last chapter of the book goes into the smaller details, including the routes by which people travel to and from the colonies, and a discussion of the culture and mannerisms of the Second City and how they differ from Rokugan main. A mini-Emerald Empire supplement, if you will.

The People

This PDF goes into the detail of the various social structures in the Second City, including the Ivory Court, the government of the Colonies. This is a great way to preserve the political / intrigue feel of Rokugan in a new setting. With so much to be discovered and explored, this is new territory even for the political characters as they try to push the influence and control of the Second City for their clans.

The next chapter discusses the movers and shakers of the setting including Otomo Suikihime, the notorious Imperial Governor and the various ministers of the setting. While strongly tied to the colonies, those who don't plan to use the setting can always transplant these characters into their own settings with little to no trouble.

The People of the Second City discuss the Great Clans and the Imperial Families. Again these are a host of NPCs that can be used to populate any campaign, and help paint a vibrant (and well populated) location.

Not to be forgotten, the minor clans and wave men of the setting also get their own chapter, discussing the opportunities and nature of their presence in this brave new frontier.

Fnially the last section discusses a smattering of new Paths for the Great Clans and Basic Schools for those native to the Ivory Kingdoms.

The Second City Boxed set is huge. It's also an impressive body of work to bring to life a new and exciting development to the L5R universe outside of traditional Rokugan.

While I have to admit that I was initially lukewarm to the idea of this sudden shift outside of the borders of the Empire, I do appreciate the advantages of changing the status quo in such a traditional society. The NPCs and locations presented in the Second City are all done by a team whose enthusiasm shines through, and I'm glad that the team has managed to make sure that none of these characters are mere caricatures.

The usefulness of the set for those who don't plan to use the Second City is still high, as even if you don't end up using the setting, the NPCs alone are worth the price of admission.

Those GMs who wish to have a campaign get their wish, and it's certainly one that spans the length of the Second City and the empire, with equal opportunities for politics, investigation and combat.

The two books are nice for flavor, and the journal makes for a great prop for the campaign. I'm ambivalent about the pillow book however, but it can still be useful for new players who aren't in the mood to slog through The City book.

Is the Second City Boxed Set worth the price as a PDF product? Definitely. There's a ton of detail here, and one could easily run a full campaign with just the contents of this box and the corebook and never look at another supplement again.

The Second City Boxed set continues the winning streak of the Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition supplements and I'm more than happy to say that it can certainly add tons of value to anyone's L5R Collection.



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Grimm: Core Rulebook
par Thomas B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/08/2012 12:28:10

WHAT WORKS: I love the archetypes. The world is very, very expansive and has a lot of room to play around in. Great production values (love the picture of the Wolf Man being kicked in the nards). Plenty of options without getting overly complicated. I always like a magic system that has a little risk to it.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: Imagination may be a tad overpowered, as may the Dreamer archetype in general. Despite often being promoted as being a suitable RPG for kids, the default Grimm Lands may be too dark for that. Grimm was originally a setting for the d20 system, and you can still see a few d20isms floating around in it.

CONCLUSION: I was a big fan of Fantasy Flight Games when they were producing stuff like this, Dawnforge and Midnight. The Grimm RPG line only ever had the one book released for it, but it is really complete with enough material in the book to run a full campaign and enough examples for you to expand the game if you need to (such as with Keepsakes and the like). The biggest flaw that the game has is that it doesn’t make a compelling case to not use Imagination as your Iconic Trait or pick The Dreamer over the other archetypes, from a min-max standpoint. Grimm seems like it could be amazing fun for groups willing to play kids…especially since the kids definitely have the ability to kick butt as they grow.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/12/tommys-take-on-grimm-rpg.html



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Fireborn: Player's Handbook
par Asen G. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 10/30/2012 15:14:29

Very good game, which didn't get the attention it deserves. WARNING, I'm assuming you have and use the errata file. Don't know why FFG aren't offering it as a free download, but it's relatively easy to find on the Net. If you're not using it, the rules are a mess. That said, I like the mechanics. It's giving a very authentic feeling, and is one of the first games to solve both the issues of using mental actions in combat, and the issue of a character attempting multiple actions at once. Add to it playing in both modern-day London, and in the Mythic time, and you get a very entertaining game!



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Legend of the Five Rings: The Book of Air
par Jay S. A. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 09/26/2012 21:52:00

The Book of Air is the first of a new line of sourcebooks for the Legend of the Five Rings series of books, that uses an interesting approach towards expanding the setting.

L5R has always been an interesting setting with regards to the depth and detail of the society of Rokugan, and this series of supplements expands on it by breaking down the topics according to the themes of the five elements of Rokugan: Air, Earth, Water, Fire and Void.

The Book of Air focuses on the facets that are relevant to the element of Air, as broken down into various chapters that look into War, the Court, Magic, Enlightenment and the Setting. The book also provides a self-contained setting that can be dropped into any existing campaign. New Mechanics are also present in the book to sate the needs of those who are looking for new rules to implement into their games. Needless to say, every clan gets something out of this book, so Crab and Lion players need not worry about being left out in a book that seems so focused on the softer side of Rokugani life.

I’m pleased to say that the organization of each of the chapters is very well done, with the book going into extensive detail with regards to the facet being discussed. The role of archery for example, is treated in the general form, then broken down into the various specific traditions of each of the clans. The chapters go into detail with regards to War, Courtly Politics, Magic (my favorite chapter due to the Kitsu Spirit Legion), Enlightenment, the world of Rokugan and a Politics-heavy Campaign setting.

Each of these are discussed without interrupting with mechanics. Instead all of the fluff is presented up front, and all the mechanics sorted out in the final chapter. This makes for an interesting format as it makes rules lookups so much easier, while letting people who enjoy the fluff (or need them, as with most GMs) read and digest the information without switching back and forth from concept to rules thinking in every other page or so.

The Book of Air is a worthy addition to the excellent Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition line, expanding on topics and lending even more detail to the unique nature of the clans. Given the quality of the writing, combined with excellent artwork and layout and the new format of organizing the information in the book, I find myself looking forward to the rest of the series.



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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
par Michael H. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 09/16/2012 21:16:19

I have been playing Legend of the Five Rings off and on since I discovered the first edition of the game back in 1999. I have always been a fan of Japanese history, culture and folklore (no expert by any means, just a fan). Prior to finding this game I had become hooked on Rurouni Kenshin and I was looking for a game that captured the mythical and epic nature of medieval Japan. Legend of the Five Rings was the game that filled that need for me.

Prior editions of the game were tied intricately to the ongoing storyline which was being driven by the Legend of the Five Rings collectible card game. While in a lot of ways this was a good thing it often left players of the RPG just a bit behind the curve when it came to developments in the setting, slaves to a game in which they had no say. The Fourth Edition of L5R has finally freed players from this burden and empowered players to enjoy the time frame in the setting they want to explore.

The second edition of the game was tied very closely to Dungeons & Dragons and overall it felt like an underdeveloped product although it did bring several interesting mechanics to the table. Third edition marked a separation from D&D but as time went on the game became more and more complicated to play. While no one can deny the quality of the game it was hard to play the game without feeling a bit overwhelmed. One of the major focuses of the fourth edition was returning the game to a simpler core set of rules which maintained the flavored development by previous editions without crippling players with an overpowering game system.

For the most part I feel the game succeeds at fulfilling that goal. I finally had a chance to play L5R 4E at GenCon 2012 and I walked away a very happy gamer. The system was easy to use but versatile enough to handle everything our group threw at the game master. Combat was fast, fun and deadly without being tedious to track. Each character was infused with the L5R flavor that we have come to know and love.

L5R 4E is a game that has finally come back into its own. AEG got everything right with this edition and once again I find myself 100% engaged with the product line.



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