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Smallville: The Watchtower Report
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2011 23:01:17

WHAT WORKS: A lot of great advice on how to get the most out of the Smallville version of the Cortex Plus System, and a whole slew of NPC stats. The production values, as usual, are fantastic, and the book does a lot to really open up the system for people who like the base, but not the setting. The rules and guidelines for allowing players to play both villains and heroes is something that is often overlooked, but can be rewarding in the right group.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Minor complaint, but I could have used more pictures of some of the lesser known characters. I'm not a huge fan of the show, so some of these folks are lost on me.

CONCLUSION: As far as I know, this is the conclusion of the Smallville game line, which has proved to be a very effective three back adaptation of the source material, while also opening the game up to more than just the TV show. Of the two supplements, I prefer the Smallville High School Yearbook, just because it has some very useful advice that is applicable to more than just the Smallville game, while this one has some system-agnostic advice, most of it is about the setting or the rules. Great purchase for anyone running - or planning to run - Smallville. Now if the new Leverage supplements would ever come out...

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/12/tommys-take-on-smallville-watchtower.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Smallville: The Watchtower Report
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Infinity Dungeon: Peril Without End
Publisher: Level 99 Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2011 23:50:27

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This 68 page PDF include the Infinity Dungeon game, as well as the Legendary Guys RPG. The Infinity Dungeon game is really as much of a geeky party game as it is an RPG. You select one of the premade character archetypes, then venture through an insane dungeon, and both the archetype and the dungeon is randomly determined. Basically, you have the party's archetypes' powers, equipment, drawbacks and random items that you use to formulate a plan to solve each "room". The players all vote on whether the plan is good or bad, and that determines the target number you need to roll on a d20. If you fail, then you are horribly killed in the attempt and the next player has to figure it out.

Character types include Dwarves, Matadors, Railroad Conductors, Opera Singers, Superheroes and Imposter Dark Wizards. The dungeon consists of rooms such as the Spider Chasm, the Glass Bridge, the Quiet Room, the Explosive Hedgehog and the Meat Grinder.

The Legendary Guys is really just a very basic fighting game, with player defined attibutes (like Over the Edge or FATE), and dice depending on the points spent. The last man standing gets the win (each attack, attributes are rolled against each other, with the higher rolling pC inflicting damage to the lower rolling PC).

WHAT WORKS: It seems like it would be some good, "beer and pretzels" style fun in a goofy, over the top way. A Vampire, a Tycoon, a Reporter, a Ninja and You stomping through a dungeon? And if a character is horribly killed, you just roll up a new one for the next room? Definitely not to be taken seriously, but a group could get some laughs out of this. However...

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The difficulty number is based on the number of party members who approve of a plan. However, there is no penalty for going along with, or going against, a plan...other than making it harder for the active character to pass the room. Basically, there is no reason for the group to ever not back every plan...a pretty huge oversight.

CONCLUSION: Infinity Dungeon seems to have so much promise, but it's either a) lacking a crucial element (reason for players to not back plans) or b) it has a huge error in the writing because I read it a couple of times and if it was there, it was far from clear. One little addition to tweak this and I would give it a strong recommendation for those who want a change of pace in their gaming some weekend, and the Legendary Guys minigame is a nice, goofy, narrative fighting game, although it also has a flaw: The rules state each attribute can only be used once, but there is no provision for a PC running out of attributes. I assume they would flee, but it isn't made clear. Lastly, Infinity Dungeon is also available on the iTunes app store, though I have not tried out the App version yet.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Infinity Dungeon: Peril Without End
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Wicked Quills (Clan for Wu Xing)
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/05/2011 23:59:26

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Wicked Quills is a new microsupplement for Wu Xing, tying in nicely with Land of Seed and Blossom which released last month, introducing a new clan called, well, The Wicked Quills. They are a clan of ninja that are constantly besieged and don't get along well with others...oh, and they have crazy wushu involving their hair. In fact, this supplement introduces the Way of the Piercing Jacket, which allows them to use their hair to great effect as a weapon...and I don't just mean the hair on their heads. The effects include hair jackets, stiffening their hair into quills - and firing them, and hair strangleholds.

WHAT WORKS: Well, a new Wushu and a new clan are always nice. The hair powers are very interesting, if a bit niche. There's only one piece of art here, and it's gorgeous.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, they're hair ninjas. That's a pretty big oddity, but that's also a good reason why they weren't in Land of Seed and Blossom, and are instead floating around for hardcore completists to buy or ignore. I did catch a typo or two in the text, but nothing major.

CONCLUSION: Thoroughly unessential for someone who likes Wu Xing but doesn't get to run it very often, but a very cool, quirky and unique option for the hardcore Wu Xing group, or even for a GM who just wants to toss his PCs a curveball.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wicked Quills (Clan for Wu Xing)
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Random Acts of... Old West Violence
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/05/2011 23:47:46

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: A system-free chart for western RPGs by 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, this essentially amounts to 100 "if you're stumped"/random encounter charts, just roll 1d100 and go. It's 6 pages (really 4, once you get past the cover and credits) and has no names or stats attached to the encounter seeds, so you could use it for Aces and Eights, Deadlands, whatever.

WHAT WORKS: IT'S A RANDOM ENCOUNTER TABLE. If you read my reviews, you know I LOVE this crap. Roll the dice before the game and BOOM (a few encounters work better with a little set-up). For instance, #22 has a pack of coyotes wandering into camp while the PCs are sleeping. #43 has the sheriff shot after a violent criminal has been brought down. #64 involves a tornado whipping through town. Like I said...I love this stuff. And, it's system free, so it's a simple matter to use it with whatever system you like.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A few of the seeds make too many assumptions, or place the PCs in peril without them being able to do anything about it. Now, if you have a group that doesn't mind being shoved a bit, that's not a huge deal, especially in a system like Savage Worlds that has bennies or adventure cards that can be doled out to ease the pain. Some of these involve PCs being scarred by whips or PCs being challenged to duels for the love of a woman.

CONCLUSION: Even if you hate the idea of random rolls dictating where the events of the game go, there's still 100 ideas to run with here in case you get stuck. Many of them are fairly common western tropes, but sometimes you don't THINK of that until you have a list in front of you...and there you go. Thumbs up.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Random Acts of... Old West Violence
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Many thanks for the review!
Tough Justice: Grim & Gritty
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2011 04:21:28

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: A while back, I reviewed Tough Justice - and rather loved it. Grim and Gritty is a combat supplement for Tough Justice by Tough Justice writer Ian Warner. You can download it for $1.99 from RPGNow, or buy it in print from Lulu.com for $9.29. Essentially, it is 40 pages of combat rules for Tough Justice (which didn't delve heavily into combat). Combat isn't wildly different from most games, although there are unique bits like a pre-fight roll determining either how soon it will be before the defender can attempt to escape, or how quickly reinforcements come, and the end result of combat (death or capture) is entirely up to the victor. The supplement takes the Tough Justice legal setting very seriously, with attackers can gain Felony Dice, but Defenders do not, due to their right to defend themselves.

WHAT WORKS: The rules for dueling seem like they would be the most thematically appropriate for the Tough Justice setting, and this includes pistol or sword duels, fist fights or hag fights (with appropriate rules for differentiating them from regular combats). The book also does an admirable job of trying to cover all relevant combat bases, including a weapons chapter, gang-up rules and mass combat.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The proofreading could have been better, especially in regards to punctuation. The book encourages exceptions in combats whenever characters made from different Historical Farce games are used together, which can prove annoying at times.

CONCLUSION: I really enjoy Ian Warner's off-beat work in particular, and Postmortem's work in general. As the author says, even in this book, Tough Justice is completely playable by itself, these are just additional rules, in case the combat doesn't work for you. Is there anything indispensible in here? No, although I do really like the addition of the dueling rules. Otherwise, if you have played Tough Justice a time or two, you have a pretty good idea as to whether or not the combat is robust enough for you.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tough Justice: Grim & Gritty
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Savage Worlds Horror Companion
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2011 00:21:53

WHAT WORKS: The updated Bestiary, the swell new powers and PC Monsters. Yes, it may not be your cup of tea, but I love-love-love-LOVE seeing that in here. The fortune telling rules also look great (and simple), as well as the ritual rules.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The GM section is nothing special, and nothing we haven't read before. The cover is another cheesecake scantily clad cover like the other companions, which is kinda disappointing.

CONCLUSION: Probably my favorite companion thus far, as I felt like the Fantasy Companion kinda lost something from the Toolkits and I like Necessary Evil and its plot point campaign more than I like the Super Powers setting rules and slew of NPCs. This one, on the other hand, felt packed full of goodness and whatever it may have lost from the Toolkit PDFs, it more than made up for with better organization and the monster races. Best companion by far, in my book.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/10/tommys-take-on-savage-worlds-horror.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Horror Companion
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Agents of Oblivion
Publisher: Reality Blurs
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2011 01:21:19

WHAT WORKS: A great alternative for people who may have liked BLACK OPS or CONSPIRACY X but decided they weren't fans of GURPS of Classic Unisystem anymore (like me!). The book is all about options, options, options, not about shoe-horning in a single way to play...(sometimes, that shoe-horning is fine, and sometimes, you just want options, options, options). And I do so love me some random tables, even more than I do Legendary Edges.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I always prefer a character sheet IN the book, and the PDF is also sans index. Now, while that's not a HUGE issue in a searchable, bookmarked PDF, it can be noticeable in a printed book. Also, I likes me a good bestiary, and this does look a true bestiary (though there is a sample alien or two to play with, to say nothing of the generator).

CONCLUSION: At only $10, I'm not shocked at all that this book shot to the top of the sales charts upon release. You can do straight up spies, you can do X-Files, you can do mutant super agents if you like, and it's at least 95% compatible with other Savage Worlds stuff to boot, so how can you go wrong? (Bonus points if you combine it with the Gritty options from Realms of Cthulhu for some real bone breaking action).

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/10/tommys-take-on-agents-of-oblivion.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Agents of Oblivion
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Totems of the Dead: Game Master's Guide to the Untamed lands
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/11/2011 23:04:23

WHAT WORKS: I love a good bestiary, and this is a very good one, as well as random tables, and this has both an adventure generator and a nameless horror generator. Worth the price of admission right there.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: In a perfect world, it would be nicer if the Player's and GM's guides had been folded in together, but my understanding is that would have proven prohibitive to printing costs, if for no other reason than the information in each book feels SO complimentary to the other that each book feels a bit anemic on their own.

CONCLUSION: Totems of the Dead is a nice twist on the Swords and Sorcery genre, and with the release of the GM's Guide, players and GMs have a ton of material available for tribal butt-kicking action. The monsters in the bestiary may be a tad too specific to the setting to be of use for non-Totems of the Dead games, although a little re-skinning can go a long ways, and that Nameless Horror generator can be busted out in a variety of games...(say you need something for the Whateleys to summon in a pinch in your Deadlands game, for instance). Another great product from Gun Metal Games.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/10/apologies-for-lack-of-reviews.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Totems of the Dead: Game Master's Guide to the Untamed lands
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Realms of Cthulhu
Publisher: Reality Blurs
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2011 19:42:40

WHAT WORKS: Savage Worlds can only be played one way? Think again. Sean Preston and Reality Blurs tackled the enormous task of taking a game known for high octane adventure, and making it entirely feasible to run it as a dark, gritty, defeatist setting...or you can keep the dials turned up to 11 and scream back into the face of madness, as befits your group. That's a win right there. The character sheet is a fantastic design, and the PDF is a gorgeous piece of work.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: We'll go with...I dunno...could have used more Savage Tales. OH. Deity was mispelled Diety in one heading (at least on my copy of the PDF), SO THERE.

Conclusion: I would call this an almost essential buy for a Savage Worlds GM, especially as the options inside go a loooong ways towards helping you adjust your own games to fit the lethality or harshness you may want from it. I'm working through the Complete Works of HP Lovecraft myself right now, and so this review was very timely for me to do right now. Just an amazing product on every level, and a fine example of the potential of Savage Worlds.

For My Full Review, Please Visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/10/tommys-take-on-realms-of-cthulhu.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Realms of Cthulhu
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Moreau-1 Files (ICONS)
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2011 14:37:07

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The Moreau-1 Files is seemingly unconnected to the USHER setting, the Wargame setting or the world being laid out in the Field Guide to Superheroes, but also seems like it would be very simple to insert in a number of settings. This $1 supplement is basically two full character write-ups: The android Moreau-1, and his creation Erapato. Moreau-1, as his name implies, is all about genetic engineering, tinkering with people and animals. It is laid out in the form of stolen intelligence, setting up the menace of Moreau-1. Erapato is an interesting creation, a type of elephant man designed to be the leader of Moreau-1's new race, though he's not so much a fan of his creator's tactics. Three plot seeds are also provided for using the material within.

WHAT WORKS: Moreau-1 and Erapato both have interesting character hooks, with Moreau-1 serving both as a supervillain arms dealer and a mad scientist, and Erapato perhaps attempting betrayal of Moreau-1 could make for some fun gameplay. As noted, the characters could fit well into a variety of supers settings with little work.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Not much, especially for the price.

CONClUSION: Personally, I see a fair amount of potential use just out of this release (the first of three). There seemed to be a weird shift in fonts on the adventure seeds, but nothing to get too excited about. Thumbs up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Moreau-1 Files (ICONS)
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Action Scenes: Museum Mayhem (ICONS)
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2011 14:36:35

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This Action Scene for ICONS is a little pricier than the Vigilance Press Battlescenes that have been released in the past, but you're also looking at about an additional 10-12 pages this time. The premise is a hostage situation at a museum, in which a sorcerer and his minions are repelling the authorities, so your superheroes get called in to do the deed.

What ensues is a nice set-piece against a sorcerer who has a variety of minions from generic thugs to mystics to mummy wraiths. If the villain's plan succeeds, it provides (intentionally or not) a shot out to the X-Men villain the Living Monolith. The adventure has lots of sidebars and "What Ifs" to help you out in case the whole thing is going too smoothly or two simply.

Two pages of figure flat stand-ups are included, for those who like such things (and I do), as well as a new power: Summon (more commonly used by villains than heroes, but laid out here just the same).

WHAT WORKS: Some VERY nice art here, my favorite piece being an action scene on page 6. A good amount of flexibility is written into the adventure, to help the GM along. The adventure is set in the USHERverse, the "modern day" of Vigilance's WWII setting, but you could easily replace USHER with SHIELD or AEGIS or whoever, if you wanted to move it into a new setting.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: And here we start getting into the problems of open content: Redundancy. Misfit Studios' DOOM filled in the same gap of a missing "Summon" type power, so now we have two third party versions of the power out there...and what happens when Adamant decides to do it themselves? My only other gripe is that I wish Vigilance had handled the new power the way Adamant handles new powers, by providing a "substitution suggestion" for the Summon power, for folks who prefer rolling up characters versus point buy (I hate ICONS point buy).

CONCLUSION: Not surprisingly, this is another great product by Vigilance, with sleek production values, lots of stat blocks you can use for your own stuff, printable stand-ups and more. I believe Vigilance will continue to be a growing force in supers gaming in the future.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Action Scenes: Museum Mayhem (ICONS)
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Wargames: Copperhead Guard (ICONS)
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2011 14:35:51

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: A while back I reviewed WARGAMES: HEROES AND VILLAINS OF THE COLD WAR, which introduced General Venom (who is really kinda cool)...this supplement is The Copperhead Guard, General Venom's elite force of female assassins. Incidentally, the sole character image works, because the women all wear uniforms and tend towards similar hair styles (reddish, what with the copperhead image and all).

WHAT WORKS: Well trained mook stats are always nice. And really, anything without an individual name shouldn't be much more than that.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Qualities and Challenges got swapped, unfortunately. This really just feels like an add-on to General Venom, as they are his bodyguards with nary a real personality to be found.

CONcLUSION: Not bad, but nothing particularly interesting, especially compared to, say, Moreau-1 Files, which is the same price but feels "heftier". It is worth noting that the Copperhead Guard aren't complete pushovers, especially when you factor in their Specialties.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Wargames: Copperhead Guard (ICONS)
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Beasts & Barbarians Player's Guide
Publisher: GRAmel
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/09/2011 00:39:22

WHAT WORKS: Some great setting rules, as well as Edges and Hindrances, which are always welcome. I'm a very big fan of the After the Adventure chart, but random tables are right up my alley. The Ghoulblood Edge nearly made a character spring to mind almost fully formed. The interior artwork is, by and large, fantastic. Early signs are that support for the setting will be strong, with two free adventures released thus far.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Still room for expansion (although that may be a pro, you decide), especially in the bestiary (in my opinion). The setting does nothing to really GRAB me...nothing bad, mind you, just nothing that makes me say "Dread Sea Dominions is THE Swords and Sorcery setting". No Legendary Edges, especially in a genre like this, disappoints me.

CONCLUSION: GRAmel enters the Savage Worlds ring in a big way with a stacked setting book and strong support for the line. They made the best of their page count, providing a lot of material for the price. There are several cool bits that can be lifted for other games if you so choose, and the book heartily embraces flexibilty in your play style within the genre...(I demand a minisupplement of Comedy Edges). Anyone coming into the game with shoutouts to David Jarvis and Sean Preston alongside Shane Hensley probably has their head on straight, and Beasts & Barbarians is a strong addition to the Savage Worlds library. GRAmel should have a bright future in the publishing realm. Strong recommendation.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/09/tommys-take-on-beasts-barbarians.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts & Barbarians Player's Guide
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Totems of the Dead: Players Guide to the Untamed lands
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2011 00:56:17

WHAT WORKS: No Power Points as well as a TON of useful mechanical material and options that can be used even if you're not necessarily a fan of the setting. A swords and sworcery setting with a bit of a different feel to it than what you typically see. The art is some of the most gorgeous and evocative art, especially in a black and white book. Each piece helps drive home the "feel" of the world.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The split into two books hurts it...especially while the second half is yet to be released, with no bestiary present in the Player's Guide, no GM's section, no Savage Tales, etc. Some of the human cultures seem imbalanced among each other, with some gaining bonuses above and beyond the others without any harsher drawbacks than what is faced by the others...(for instance, two cultures being illiterate but one also gaining a skill bonus to boot).

CONCLUSION: While swords and sorcery has been done, Totems of the Dead does look at it through a different lens, as pre-Colonial Americas isn't the most used setting (or even setting inspiration), so it is nice to see a new approach to a classic genre. The layout is as eye pleasing as any black and white book I recall seeing, not a surprise given the company. It just really feels like it needs that "part 2" to make it complete (and I think I would feel that way even if I hadn't already seen at least most of the material). A fantastic offering by Gun Metal Games that shows they are capable of more than just Cyberpunk.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/09/tommys-take-on-totems-of-dead-players.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Totems of the Dead: Players Guide to the Untamed lands
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All for One: Régime Diabolique
Publisher: Triple Ace Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/18/2011 19:36:43

WHAT WORKS: I dig the magick system, as I already have a fondness for that type of "construct your spell" system, and a very good amount of game information is provided. I had no prior experience with Ubiquity, but it feels familiar enough to systems I have had experience with that it doesn't seem like it would be hard to pick up at all. As with Hellfrost, Triple Ace Games has a TON of support for the setting in the form of adventures and microsupplements. The concept is just cool...I like fighting monsters in more than just a "kill 'em all and take their stuff" capacity, and the whole "Everyone's a Musketeer" thing helps you bypass that "why are your characters on the same side, again?" thing that comes up in some games.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Given the setting, as I'm not even a remedial student of French history, a closer look at the setting would have been great. I mean, there's enough there to run with, but it's kinda spread around from the beginning of the book to the end. Also, you can never go wrong with including an adventure generator...just saying.

CONCLUSION: I'm way more enthusiastic about Savage Worlds stuff, so if I had to pick a Triple Ace franchise and run with it, it would certainly be Hellfrost. That said, Ubiquity seems like a really easy system to pick up, which is always a plus. I actually like the Magick system better than I do Savage Worlds powers. It wouldn't take much encouragement to get me digging into the microsupplements, especially stuff like Guide to Expanded Terrors and Creatures of Sin. If you don't mind learning a new system and the idea of Three Musketeers vs Demons, Vampires and Witches appeals to you, then I heartily give this a strong recommendation.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/08/tommys-take-on-all-for-one-regime.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
All for One: Régime Diabolique
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