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How to Spice Up Your Game
by Matthew T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2013 14:17:49

This PDF is presented in clear easy text, with simple layout and pleasing but minimal decorations. The writing is also clear and concise with only a few grammatical errors to break the flow.

"How to Spice up your Game" consists of 6 techniques GM may use to shake up their games. Each technique is fully explained with tips for incorporating it and examples of its use.

The techniques themselves range from the useful (using restricted PC knowledge to foster surprise) to the tricky (giving players control of the story -- including voting on story elements!) to the kinda obvious (miniatures -- but even here, there is some useful information). Other techniques include using riddles and puzzles to challenge the players over the characters, and using mini-games during an RPG to simulate in-game activities. Some of these ideas are not fully developed and others will radically alter gameplay. All of them will require careful thought, and some of them will require group discuss, extra GM work and/or some experimentation before they can be usefully incorporated into a game.

All told, "How to Spice up your Game" is a thoughtful little book with some intrigue ideas that GMs -- particularly new GMs or GMs that find their games becoming routine -- will find a useful starting point for trying some new things at the table.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
How to Spice Up Your Game
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Heroes Weekly, Vol 2, Issue #4, Crime Unlimited
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/24/2013 11:05:12

Whilst the idea of a 'Supervillain supermarket' is not new, this is a good presentation of the concept that has been thought through in some detail.

The basic concept is simple. Supervillians do not operate independently, at leas, not all of the time. They need hirelings, they need items you cannot buy off the shelf and so on. So they have to go to an organisation that will supply their needs, no questions asked, cash on the nail, thank you very much.

Novel features of Crime Unlimited include its mobile nature. They prefer to operate out of a club or bar, but shift location every few weeks. It's almost a status symbol amongst the supervillain community to know where they are this month. Once accepted as a customer, you can literally get just about anything that you need - but don't cross them: they don't like that and tend to react forcefully, indeed terminally.

Adventure seeds around them are provided for both Hero and Villain games. For example, you don't always have to pay cash for that weapons grade plutonium you need to fuel your death ray, if it suits them they'll have you owe a favour instead. But they might sell that favour on to someone else... Or ask you to do something you really don't want to do.

Plenty here for you to weave into your adventures, complete with main characters statted up for Heroes Unlimited. If you play a different super-powered game, it shouldn't be too hard to re-stat them, and the concepts will, of course, hold good.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes Weekly, Vol 2, Issue #4, Crime Unlimited
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How to Spice Up Your Game
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/13/2013 06:59:00

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/02/13/tabletop-review-how-to-spice-up-your-game/

How To Spice Up Your Game is a short book about using techniques to better play tabletop role-playing games. If that sounds horribly dumb and dry to you, trust me it’s not, this is actually quite a good little book. I did not expect much from the title, to be honest. It’s not professionally produced or anything, but it is nicely laid out, has a nice background, and lots of illustrations of dice. This book is focused on material for game masters, and if you are looking for more material like that check out a few of the other books I’ve reviewed in this area:

The GM’s Field Guide To Players

Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep

This book is very straightforward in its approach; there is no foreword or lengthy sections explaining things about game mastering, there is only a brief introduction and then six techniques of spiciness. Each technique is a different chapter and contains smaller sections explaining the concept, the effect on gameplay, ways to implement the concept, tips, and examples. Each chapter makes up about three pages.

The first chapter, for example, is about the concept of “restricted knowledge” which is a pretty common and well-known tool with GMs (if not always well-implemented). This really needs no explanation as it is exactly what you think it is: essentially keeping players from playing the game from the meta level instead of the character level by letting individual characters have knowledge instead of the entire table. Some other concepts need more explaining, like the next chapter which is entitled “Explore the World”. You really need to read this chapter through to figure out what the author means by this and how it affects play, as the title is too opaque and the implementation not obvious enough for someone to grasp it immediately.

Overall, I was really impressed with this book. Though small, there are a lot of really great ideas that are well explained and presented here. Each concept is presented in such a way that you can read it and find yourself nodding your head, instantly thinking about your gaming group or a game you have run and where you could have used these concepts. The chapter on “representation”, where you help your players visualize the game world by using real world analogs or other helpful correlations, happened to hit home for me regarding a game I am running right now, and how I could help the players visualize the place they are in right now and involve them more in the space. The author offers variants and shallower or deeper levels of all of the techniques, so that a GM can play around with using these ideas and see if they need to really focus on them or if they can keep them in the background. The cost does seem a bit prohibitive, but I have no qualms about saying this is worth the six bucks being asked. It’s a bit steep for a short, non-professional book on GMing, but this is really good stuff and I will be printing out a copy of this to keep on hand. Now that is saying something!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
How to Spice Up Your Game
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Game Geek #37
by PEDRAZZI G. G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2013 09:34:37

A well made and complete product. Thanks. How about a subscription?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Game Geek #37
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Heroes Weekly, Vol 1, Issue #22, The Professor
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/07/2013 05:06:20

This issue presents a neat minor-league supervillain called The Professor. His backstory is quite amusing, a wonderful two-bit villain who has kept his day job and so can only pursue his nefarious plots at the weekends, or maybe the odd evening after work as long as he doesn't stay out too late!

The poor fellow has been a bit of a failure in life - both career-wise and socially - and to be honest he seems set fair to make as little impact on the 'Super' scene as he has in real life. It's difficult not to feel a bit sorry for him.

Several ideas for incorporating him into your adventures are provided, rather neatly divided so that he can be a villain or a hero - or at least, try to be - as best suits your campaign needs. He's really supposed to be a vilain so the option is given of him trying his hand at being a superhero after his attempts at supervillainry have proved so uttlerly unsuccessful - a nice touch!

A full character sheet, complete with colour illustration, as well as paper 'standee' miniatures of The Professor and four generic SWAT team members (why? Oh well, they'll probably come in useful..) round this issue out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes Weekly, Vol 1, Issue #22, The Professor
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Kitbag 2, Sidearms
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/05/2013 09:13:39

I have not yet met a Traveller player who is not fascinated by his character's weapons! Here is a neat selection of sidearms that any Traveller character should be delighted to have about his person... or indeed, in his kitbag!

It opens with a brief yet scholarly introduction as to what constitutes a 'sidearm' - basically a small offensive weapon designed primarily for self-defence, capable of being carried more or less constantly without getting in the way, yet able to be brought to bear whenever the need arises.

This is followed by a selection of such weapons, each with the sort of loving description that the average gun-bunny can drool over yet clear enough for those for whom weapons are mere tools to understand just what it is that they are purchasing. For those who like to see what they are getting, there are clear diagrammatic line illustrations (in colour, of course).

The real joy is in making them sound interesting and realistic. Pull out your Tactical ShotSystems Intimidator next time you venture down a dark alley, perhaps. Far better than just grabbing a snub pistol....

The one thing I miss is a handy chart of the relevant game mechanics. They're all there, but embedded in the text. As the text is a delight to read, that's no hardship... but the chart is useful once the bullets start to fly.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kitbag 2, Sidearms
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Kitbag 1: Universal Weapon Systems
by D J N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/05/2013 04:09:36

Overall I liked this booklet. I'm not fond of "modular weapons" where by switching accessories one weapon does everything. For the most part, however, this booklet made it believable and I'll be using some of these in my games.

The drawings were well done. I will be looking for the rest in this series.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kitbag 1: Universal Weapon Systems
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Heroes Weekly, Vol 1, Issue #17, Jail Break
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/03/2012 05:28:04

Put simply, this is a neat little jail break caper than can be run as a stand-alone or as part of your regular campaign. The situation is clearly presented with several options, from the default of rescuing one Dr. Plague from the clutches of law enforcement through to having to rescue a fellow superpowered player-character...

As a one-off, it can be fun to play the villains for a change. Even if your characters are normally on the side of the angels, even good guys sometimes run foul of the law... this is especially an occupational hazard if your party are typical superhero vigilantes rather than sworn officers of the law (and even those sometimes end up on the wrong side of the bars for real or alleged violations).

Various preparatory options are presented to allow the characters to scout out the 'Superhuman Containment Facility' at the local precinct house and then to gain access to those held within, giving plenty opportunity for them to talk and investigate and infiltrate before the inevitable brawl begins. Once it does, there are 'regular' police officers to prevent the escape attempt (if you want any superpowered ones, you will need to find or roll them up for yourself), and the caper is additionally provided with some nice plans of the precinct house and the Superhuman Containment Facility so that you can play out events with a good idea of your surroundings - including the use of miniatures or counters if preferred.

A neat and clear caper, well suited to a single session of play.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes Weekly, Vol 1, Issue #17, Jail Break
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Avalon Models Free Sample Jan 2012
by Ken B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2012 18:06:29

This is a very simple package providing 5 ea. figure flats and no other information on any game play. Children could achieve some activity with it.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Avalon Models Free Sample Jan 2012
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Avalon Design Elements, Celtic Set #4
by Steffon W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2012 07:38:08

Delivered in PDF form. This means if you use Illustrator or InDesign like myself it's difficult to 'pick apart' the elements for use. These would be much more use as vectors or another format like svg. Avoid.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Avalon Design Elements, Celtic Set #4
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Publisher Reply:
The product also comes with a Tiff file of each design element, which can be used by any sort of software, or converted into sny format you like.
Avalon Design Elements, Celtic Set 12
by Steffon W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2012 07:37:16

Delivered in PDF form. This means if you use Illustrator or InDesign like myself it's difficult to 'pick apart' the elements for use. These would be much more use as vectors or another format like svg. Avoid.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Avalon Design Elements, Celtic Set 12
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Combat!
by Sc N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/07/2012 07:42:21

Great to do things in modern era, but lacks enemies to fight or foreign forces, the book is all about playing USA Forces which would be fine if you had something to fight against, but it lacks even terrorists, I mean come on not even an AK-47 is listed or an RPG or how to create a non-American trooper for the GM to make NPC's, no Russian or Chinese or European weapons or vehicles, very lame!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Combat!
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Dungeon Walls
by David W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2012 05:58:19

This set of tiles is SIMPLE. I like simple. You build the dungeon the same way you build your figures! Fold-over and base them.

With SO many sets of tiles out there, I would (and have) recommended this OVER some other sets 5 times as expensive. The reason why is if you want to run a "quick and dirty" dungeon, you don't want to spend HOURS building a room that you will be in for 20 minutes.

I would have liked to have seen MORE diversity in the textures, but hopefully they will continue to release more of these sets, and possibly some Sci-Fi themed ones as well.

Good textures, and wonderful concept. This is by FAR my favorite set that Avalon Models has released.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Walls
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Markets and Merchandise, Pathfinder Version
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2012 15:14:46

Markets and Merchandise (Pathfinder Edition) is a collection of useful information on market, what you can buy at them, and wide varieties of things to buy. The Pathfinder conversion (this was originally written for a different system) is rough on a few mechanical things in the weapons, armor and alchemical sections sections. Even with those flaws it covers a considerable amount of useful territory such as currencies, a wealth of interesting trade items, prices for services from the profane to the sacred. I hope Avalon Games revises the mechanical sections noted above so that I can wholeheartedly recommend this product.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of these products for free from the publisher for the purpose of these reviews.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Markets and Merchandise, Pathfinder Version
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Heroes Wear Masks
by Quinn M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/18/2012 14:03:42

I have always been a fan of super hero RPGs. I started back in the day with Villians & Vigilantes, then on to the original Marvel Super Heroes RPG and Superworld from Chaosium. I have collected a number of other super hero RPGs over the years and I'm always willing to look at any that come out. I pick up Heroes Wear Masks mostly on a whim, at $8 it was within my "impulse buy" range.

I have given the game a quick read, and started to create a super, but consider this as more of a "first impressions" type of review.

First, I think a disclaimer is needed for Heroes Wear Masks. Is it truly a standalone game? I think you need the Pathfinder Core rules, which I do not own. While it clearly states that it is "Pathfinder Roleplaying game compatible" that is not the same as noting HWM is not a full game and requires other books. That said, I don't think a lot is actually missing to make HWM a complete standalone RPG.

Second, the character sheet. How can you not have the game title on the sheet? I'd like to see a two page version in any event, as having room for the hero background and more notes on allies/enemies/equipment is always nice. I'm sure that at the very least, fan created character sheets will resolve these issues, but offical ones from Avalon Games would be nice.

Other random thoughts: The idea of levels for supers, even having played V&V, strikes me as odd. I am more used to seeing supers starting out fairly powerful, then with some minor advancement as they adventure. Then again, I have always prefered lower power level super games, so the idea of heroes struggling to combat street gangs and well armed bank robbers has some appeal. Adding a new player/character would be an issue if the other heroes had gotten up past 6th level or so, while in other super games they would fit right in and might even be better than some experienced characters. Call it a minor issue in my mind.

My initial idea for a super involved a law enforcement robot from the far future. I don't think that fit with the Origins and Classes offered in HWM. Instead, I went with a stretching hero (like Mr. Fantastic) with a "Enhanced Human" origin and "Super Human" class. HWM seemed to handle this fine.

The default "Power Activation Check" made me laugh a bit at the mental image of a hero leaping from a tall building and failing his fly check. Perhaps I misread this? Certainly it works as a Disadvantage, but as a default?

Solid writing in Chapter 7 "Super Heroes and RPGs" with good advice for GMs and players along with the history of comic books. I will also, if nothing else, steal characters and adventure seeds from Chapter 8 "Heroes Inc." for use in future super games ( not matter the system). Overall the writing shows a fondness for the subject matter and made me think HWM was more of a "labor of love" then just cranking out a supplement.

Summary: I would give this a three star rating, but four stars if you are a Pathfinder fan (with a fondness for levels). I have a feeling a number of Pathfinder parties will find themselves crossing dimensions to rub shoulders with super heroes in the near future.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes Wear Masks
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