DriveThruRPG.com
Browse
 Publisher Info











Back
Other comments left by this customer:
New World of Darkness Rulebook (1st Edition)
Publisher: White Wolf
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 20:26:37

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30711.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a role-playing fan that doesn’t at least know about the World of Darkness. Many know it’s modern horror and many understand that it serves as the base for many different gothic horror settings published by White Wolf. However, there are lots of gamers out there that stay clear of horror games as they prefer epic fantasy or space opera and hesitate when they can’t simply kill the main antagonist (a common feature in horror gaming). Even though the World of Darkness, new and old, has been around for quite some time and many reviews have been written, I’m going to focus more on those who don’t really know about The World of Darkness and the Storytelling system and what it has to offer.

The World of Darkness presents a world much like our own, but where nasty creatures of horror and gothic horror fame lurk in the shadows or terrify people at night. It is not an alternate history whereas something in the timeline has changed, it just presents a more horrific version of the world that we know. The core rulebook presents the modern world with various horrors; other settings may add additional elements or place things in a historical era. However, the core rulebook is strictly modern and serves as the base mechanics for World of Darkness settings. Using only the core rulebook, characters are human and have standard human qualities and abilities (albeit maybe better than others). Other settings introduce supernatural concepts and abilities, but for this core rulebook, it’s all standard humans.

With this in mind, the stories to be told are not going to be like epic fantasy or space opera. They are not going to be filled with mind-blowing combat or extraordinary feats of unnatural abilities. They are most likely going to resemble modern horror stories and movies, investigation thrillers, or any number of feasible media that depicts humans in a modern environment, albeit with a horrific flair. The focus here is more on the story including how the characters immerse themselves within that story and how the story resolves. Another thing to keep in mind is the separation of The World of Darkness and the Storytelling system. The World of Darkness is the underlying setting used abroad for the core book and the setting guides. The Storytelling system is the mechanics that power game-play set in The World of Darkness.

The Storytelling system is a roll-over dice pool whereas a pool of d10s is constructed according to the character’s Attribute + Skill + Equipment with any bonuses or penalties applied. This dice pool is rolled to achieve a number of successes (rolling an 8, 9, or 10) against a static target number according to the difficulty. Target numbers are not floating and are determined according to difficulty, which all players would then be able to translate into the number of successes they need (such as a target number of 5). This is the base mechanic that the entire system is built upon; quite simple if you ask me. Attributes and Skills are listed as dots on a character sheet representing the number of dice you add to the pool being constructed. You could use numbers instead of dots; either way will give you the same result, just shown in a different way. Combining Attributes and Skills is quite dynamic as the two are only linked by general category (Mental, Physical, and Social), but not defined as a combination. In other words, you can combine skills with different attributes to create different effects, resulting in a different task being performed. This is a great way of reducing the number of skills required while maximizing their possible usage. Some systems reduce the number of skills available, but you may be left with wondering what skill applies to a specific task because it’s directly linked to a given attribute (which may not apply to that task).

The Storytelling system is simple, yet powerful and the World of Darkness is an excellent setting. This core rulebook definitely presents a story- and character-focused role-playing game with no shortage of possible horror.

OVERALL

The World of Darkness core rulebook serves as the base mechanics for all of the World of Darkness setting books. There’s enough content in here to run a modern horror game without a setting book, but the Storyteller will have to fill-in the gaps concerning antagonists. The good thing is that horror games don’t need a lot of antagonists like fantasy games do and this shouldn’t be too hard of a task. It’s a fantastic presentation of an excellent game system, but more importantly it presents a setting that is a great representation of modern gothic horror. The World of Darkness, and moreover the Storytelling system, definitely focuses on characters and their uniqueness by giving you mechanics that don’t hamper your creativity. Oh yeah, it’s also a great read, even if you don’t like the mechanics or don’t plan on playing the game; there is no shortage of content that can be extracted to create your own world.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 The World of Darkness core rulebook looks fantastic. The layout is simple and effective, the formatting looks great, the majority of the artwork has a great blend of horror and modern-feel to it, and the complete package is pleasing in many regards. It’s a very easy read and I truly appreciate the mixture of narrative and game content.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10 The Storytelling system is a solid dice pool system with simple mechanics that can be very flexible. I’m not a huge fan of representing traits using dots, but it definitely drives the point across of how simple using the dice pool can be. As stated before, you can easily convert the dots into a number, but then again dots are easier to fill-in as you go on a character sheet (no need to erase to write a higher number). I’m not particularly impressed with the antagonist list, but then again this book is meant to serve as the base mechanics only, and does that quite well. If you are turned away by the dots, use numbers, and storytellers would do well to look into additional material to flesh out additional antagonists if necessary. Otherwise, I find character creation to be quite flexible allowing you to create virtually any human character imaginable.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10 If you compare the Storytelling system to other horror games (such as Call of Cthulhu), you get a lot of the same principles regarding how those systems view characters and their inherent flexibility regarding creation (no classes here). It’s another approach using dice pools instead of other means, and the low count of dice may not allow for a lot of granularity, but then you also don’t want to get tied up in too much dice rolling (horror is meant to focus more on the story and the characters than combat encounters). If you compare the World of Darkness to other horror settings (such as the Cthulhu Mythos), again you get a lot of the same principles, just with a different face (gothic horror instead of supernatural horror).

That being said, The World of Darkness and the Storytelling system do both of these things extremely well, presenting an excellent game package to Storytellers and players. Those who like dice pools will find an excellent dice pool system. Those who like horror will find a setting with plenty of twists, turns, creepiness, and horrific possibilities.

Overall: 9 out of 10 The World of Darkness is one of those games that is well-known for a reason. It has solid mechanics and an expansive setting, both of which fully embrace their fundamental goals. It’s not going to replace your epic fantasy, space opera, or even Cthulhu Mythos games, but it definitely gives you a perfect outlet for experiencing gothic horror in the modern world; all done with a focus on story and characters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New World of Darkness Rulebook (1st Edition)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Grindhouse Edition
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/15/2013 21:30:41

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30658.

Dubbed as weird fantasy by the designer, Lamentations of the Flame Princess is an OSR product in the guise of Basic / Expert Dungeons & Dragons in a lighter version. The mechanics are designed with more simplicity in mind with what seems like an effort to move the game away from just combat and treasure hoards and into areas where the horror is turned up and the over-powering abilities of the Player Characters is turned down. Yes it contains the same core abilities as all OSR games and probably all the same spells, but skills are handled in a simplified manner (using a d6), alignments have more of a real meaning, there are no magical weapons, and characters don’t simply get stronger as they increase in level, they have to become better at what they specialize in.

Without looking at every single OSR game out there, and I’ve seen a few along with the originals, Lamentations of the Flame Princess has additional simplified mechanics over its equivalents such as static attack tables – there are no charts, just static target numbers according to armor. Saving throws are statically defined in the character class. Increasing melee attack bonuses only attack to Fighters (except for the simple +1 all others receive) again presented statically. There are no d% rolls when determining opposed checks, just simple target numbers. In other words, Lamentations of the Flame Princess takes out a lot of the fiddly mechanics from many OSR games to concentrate more on telling interesting (or weird) stories instead of just delving into random dungeons or clearing out the closest vanilla wizard’s tower (not that you couldn’t do it, but where’s the storyline?). This is an Indie game using OSR mechanics. The benefit there is that the amount of published material compatible with Lamentations of the Flame Princess is huge and thus can be incorporated into your games with little to no conversions necessary.

OVERALL

Before getting into the ratings, it should be made very clear that Lamentations of the Flame Princess is a game you have to want to play in order for it to be a desirable game. Why do I say that? Because if you’re a full-blown grognard and only play B/X or AD&D and their retro-clones, this may seem familiar and yet not familiar and not what you want. It’s not a traditional old-school system where you primarily delve into dungeons, castles, towers, or what-not and spend your time adventuring, collecting treasure, or just getting wealthy (or more powerful). This is an OSR game that tries harder to concentrate more on the story. This is an OSR game where player characters are extraordinary figures, but not epic fantasy almost-demi-god heroes. This is an OSR game where magical weapons may not exist and the creatures abroad are terrifying. This is an OSR game where you have to embrace the theme as much as you embrace the system.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess is not a retro-clone, it is a unique game powered by old-school mechanics utilizing a unique setting (loosely defined setting that is). It is fantasy horror (weird fantasy), not epic fantasy with high magic. At the same time, it is not horror as there are still standard fantasy tropes. Once you realize that, you’ll better understand what it’s about, and what it’s not about.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 The entire Lamentations of the Flame Princess package is beautiful. The writing is excellent, the layout and formatting and superb, and the weird artwork is creepy and terrific. If you pay close attention, in some of the sections, the headers change like a flip cartoon from page to page. I agree with the decision to break the system into three books, especially since not every player or GM needs to use every one of them. The fantasy horror of the setting definitely comes through vividly in the artwork.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10 Although based on previous versions of Dungeons & Dragons and slotting into the old school renaissance, the lightness of Lamentations of the Flame Princess is an excellent implementation of the retro mechanics, focusing more on the story instead of convoluted charts and fiddly bits. The absence of a bestiary can be a definite turn-off for many people, but I am within the camp that new systems and settings benefit from unique monsters that players have never seen before, or at least have never experienced in this way. It’s a matter of creating something new instead of rehashing everything old. I would prefer to have seen more guidance such as a bestiary creation toolkit, but there is no shortage of narrative to get you moving. If all else fails, there is an abundance of bestiary material out there that is compatible with Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10 As stated before, you have to want to play Lamentations of the Flame Princess to get the most out of it. You also have to embrace the flavor of the game presented within the content to understand the approach of the weird fantasy. You could very easily take Lamentations of the Flame Princess and play the same old dungeon crawls or campaigns seen for the past 35 years. The system presents a lighter version of those old mechanics, but you can easily play them and keep your epic fantasy experience. However, that’s not what the system and flavor is trying to promote. Everything within is attempting to explain and promote the horror of the setting above and beyond the high fantasy flavor and effects. The core mechanics keep the danger high, but you can overcome that. With that said, the desire to play a fantasy horror game is as much in the flavor of the game play as it is the mechanics of the system.

Knowing all this, I find Lamentations of the Flame Princess to be an excellent representation of fantasy horror and those ready to play weird fantasy will find the mechanics and flavor content embrace that to full effect.

Overall: 9 out of 10 I may be slightly biased here, but Lamentations of the Flame Princess is my favorite OSR game. Not because it allows you to play everything that you’ve played before, but because it presents a familiar system in a new light, with trimmed down mechanics and the removal of all those fiddly bits. I may also be slightly biased because the content truly embraces the weird fantasy flavor in every way possible, without forcing it through the mechanics. Published adventures and supplements can better demonstrate this, but the core mechanics are a perfect blend of familiarity, light rules, and opportunistic game play that brings out the storyline in the old school renaissance.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Grindhouse Edition
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Dungeon Dressing: Stairs
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/14/2013 20:41:19

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30662.

Dungeon Dressing: Stairs is a small 13 page supplement for the Pathfinder System. Along with some nice rules explanations about stairs, it includes the following:

A table presenting 50 options for interesting features of your stairs. A table presenting 100 pieces of stair dressing to breathe life into your creation. Three clever, challenging stair-based traps (CRs 3-7; and four variants).

It is currently available at DriveThruRPG and Paizo.com for the low price of 1.99.

OVERALL

This was a first for me, to consider a new way to look at stairs besides them being broken or working fine. And I can simply say that I am not going to look at stairs the same way again. In this case, that’s a good thing.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: Layout is done once again in simple, minimalistic format that comes with Raging Swan Press. The bookmarks are done well and the format is quite nice. But I would love more than anything to see these supplemental products have a little bit of color, or Sepia for that matter, to balance out the simplicity. Since I do not think they will change that, it would be nice to see one day.

Ease of Mobility: This product transferred over well to my Kindle with ease. They have a printable and a digital version, and I love both.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10 Now, this was the first product that I actually playtested somewhat before reviewing it. I run an online game with a few family members who live far away, and I had written a “Never-ending Staircase” while players were scaling up a Wizards’ Tower. The stair case had a few of the traps that were quite brutal for them to handle even at their CRs.

Mechanically, the staircases are sound, and the information providing the staircases with their functions and works are quite informative and helpful whether you are playing a homemade campaign, or a regular Pathfinder adventure like Masters of the Fallen Fortress in which I was running (revamp in progress) at the time.

Value Add: 9 out of 10 So the downside to all of these supplements that are specific, is that they are only for one or two things, and then they aren’t really applicable to other things outside of it. The price is quite right for the item, and you still get a good return for your money. I would recommend Raging Swan Press consider a bundle for their series, so that way you can get a little more, but as is, it’s quite well worth it.

Overall: 9 out of 10 Minus the specialty of product, this is a product that is quite a lot of fun, and you will want to use the product right away the next time you have people going up stairs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Stairs
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Street Level
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/11/2013 20:45:56

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30971.

Street Level is a future-like battlemap, although it can easily be used for modern settings too, featuring a small section of an urban street bounded by highrise buildings (not skyscraper). The futuristic appeal is more in flavor of the textures and the worn look of the street rather than any single piece that stands out as a true sci-fi addition. This means that you can easily use the battlemap for modern, sci-fi, cyberpunk, and post-apocalyptic settings, increasing its possible use options. The main focus of the battlemap is the urban street rather than the buildings. This means its more ideal for a street-level (see the significance of the name?) encounter such as rival gang members slugging it out or some type of high-tech duel between a PC and NPC.

OVERALL

Street Level is a cool looking map, albeit one that is fairly focused on a small area. I wouldn’t call it a full city block, maybe half a block, although the streets do allow you to continue your map in any direction desired. It be better to have a larger section of the urban environment represented or offer tiles that continue the street where all you need to add is the buildings. However, it still makes a cool location for a showdown.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 As always, DramaScape does an excellent job of cutting their battlemaps across multiple pages. It also includes a square-grid, hex-grid, gridless, and Virtual Tabletop version.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10 The Street Level map is quite stunning. Unlike a previous battlemap, this one uses very distinct textures and coloring for the sidewalk, curb, and street, making each one very easy to discern. It also has a fantastic worn look to it that shows the environment is not new and has seen many decades of wear and tear.

Desire to Use: 8 out of 10 Street Level is a great battlemap to use for an urban showdown. The only drawback is how small it is, even though the 3D images depict a larger area. I think it should be about twice as long, but this is only a minor complaint. What you get is a good sized area and more than enough for that urban showdown.

Overall: 9 out of 10 Street Level is another great addition to your sci-fi urban environments and another great piece from DramaScape. By focusing on the street instead of the buildings, the Game Master has more flexibility in where they place this map within their city and what surrounds that street.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Street Level
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Villainous Pirates
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/10/2013 20:40:32

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30660.

Villainous Pirates presents, in 50 pages, Pirates of Note and nine Pirates of Renown ready for the time-crunched GM to quickly and easily insert into almost any campaign. Each pirate benefits from an extensive write-up including notes on their background, personality, mannerisms and distinguishing marks as well as a fully detailed stat block. Pirates of Renown also come with plot hooks making it easy to insert them into almost any campaign. It’s currently available for sale for $5.99 on DriveThruRPG or Paizo.com

OVERALL

Pirates are a very serious business for those who play Pathfinder. Villainous Pirates expands on the life of pirates and helps those who may need a little nudging in building pirates to remember! There are a few formatting kinks, and I would have loved the product in color, but it is not the end of the world, nor should it keep you from purchasing the item.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Raging Swan Press publication, but once again I was not disappointed. The layout is clean and simple. It is in black and white as per the format, but it’s not an epic deal breaker. I like the original looks of the pirates, they leave you to fill in the color thanks to the black and white format.

Formatting annoyance: I hate it when digital publishers who have enough material to give characters proper spacing, do not do so. Now granted, for printed works, space is precious. But for digital works since there is no page limits or printing restrictions it gives publishers the ability to give space wherever needed. The pirates are stacked on top of one another which makes the stat blocks not quite look right. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a ding for a GM who is trying not to go from one page to another.

Ease of Mobility: The bookmarks irritate me a bit cause they take forever to navigate. But other than that the file is smooth and doesn’t take forever to load, which is totally nice.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 The product is quite mechanically sound. The stat blocks can be a little confusing, but again that’s due to the formatting issues that are above. Take your time when incorporating them into your campaign so you make sure to get it all right!

Value Add: 10 out of 10 There are quite a lot of pirate-related supplemental material going on in Pathfinder right now. It’s kind of that “flavor” of the RPG Season, as I’ve seen quite a lot of publishers big and small go and do a pirates add-on, but this is definitely worth the money invested! Give it a shot!

Overall: 9 out of 10 There are quite a lot of pirate fun goodies being written for the Pathfinder system as the result of Skulls and Shackles and a lot of pirate goodies in Pathfinder most recently, and this piece is no exception to the rule! This is definitely a product that will continue to help GMs for years to come!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villainous Pirates
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

101 Special Materials and Power Components (pfrpg)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/07/2013 18:35:17

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30654.

101 Special Materials and Power Components, is a 31 page sourcebook that focuses on bringing you new special materials, that do not render the existing special materials useless, and versatile power components, which alter or augment a spell’s normal effects in new and interesting ways; it adds a bit more spice to a spellcaster’s life. In addition, a number of these items affect the spells generated by magical items or alter the very nature of an item operates so that it become more than just a spell in a box. It is currently available at DriveThruRPG for $5.99

OVERALL

I think this is a great product. It definitely adds flavor and options to make your spells even more powerful. If you are a caster, and/or the GM of casters and are looking for ways to give the caster a little more “oopmh” than just the normal spell component, 101 Special Materials and Power Components is a great place to look.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: It is done in the traditional format of Rite Publishing. Most of the artwork is public domain which is also nice.

Ease of Mobility: Files are nice and light, and easy to navigate. The bookmarks are off again, but it’s not a deal breaking issue.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 Mechanically this is a sound product. No one product is too overpowering, but at the same time, there is quite a lot of good stuff that can be used for casters and fighters alike.

Value Add: 10 out of 10 All the items that are in this product are very well done! It is something that even I am considering in my future adventures and possible writings.

Overall: 10 out of 10 The final verdict for this product is that I like it for both gaming purposes and for writing purposes. Although we cannot use the product for OGL purposes, it’s definitely good for the campaign writer in all of us.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Special Materials and Power Components (pfrpg)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

#30 Evocative Vehicles (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/04/2013 21:35:36

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30550.

30 Evocative Vehicles is 18 pages, and has thirty vehicles. There are ones for air, water and land. There are a few other special vehicles such as a Zephyr, and hot air balloon called Skydancer. It is currently available online at DriveThruRPG for $0.99.

OVERALL

I think it is a fair supplement. But there is nothing there that is making me go, “WOW! I have to buy this!” Also, with a good number of vehicles that are already a part of the Pathfinder PRD, (which is available for free) there isn’t anything new or unique that makes me personally want to buy the supplement, even with it’s discounted price. But if you are looking for something outside of the Paizo box, this is worth considering.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: The layout is clean, simple and standard as all things with Rite Publishing and their 3rd party supplement lines. The artwork is public domain which means it’s not super amazing, but it’s not terrible to look at either.

Ease of Mobility: The file is easy to transfer and download. Scrolling is light and easy, and printed it looks quite nice and elegant. The bookmarks are a little hit or miss due to the formatting, but it’s nothing major that can deal break the product.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10 Mechanically the items are sound, and quite adequately written. The history sections of each item is definitely great if you are a GM who is bad at writing histories and back stories of items.

Value Add: 4 out of 10 I hate to admit that I am not a fan of this product. But I am not a fan on the grounds of the product not having any actual uniqueness about it. After reviewing “The Way of The Samurai,” there is just no excuse for this product being as flat as it is. I know it’s harsh, but the market is already flooded with tons of products that are similar to this, and each product has to stand out from its competitors. This product does not do that, which can be quite the disappointment to those who are fans of Rite Publishing or those who are looking for more interesting flavors for their campaigns.

Overall: 7 out of 10 This product sounds appealing and if you are looking for some small flavor, then at it’s current price, buy it by all means. But there are many of us who, when it comes to value for money, will find this item quite disappointing. Now, it’s not the worse product ever, it’s just not something I will be flocking to buy right away.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Evocative Vehicles (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Solar Echoes Player's Guide
Publisher: Corefun Studios, LLC
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/01/2013 15:26:07

The following review was originally written at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30510.

Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is the base handbook for the Solar Echoes core mechanics and a very high-level overview of the setting in terms of the history that has led to the setting’s present day and a look at the different character races. Everything else is core mechanics only, giving the player everything they need to play in an adventure or campaign. While not saying it outright, Solar Echoes is a space opera setting whereas the player characters are explorers or warriors of some type that travel the stars along with a host of others.

Solar Echoes utilizes a roll-over dice pool system whereas a player rolls a number of d6′s equivalent to the character’s base stat and adds any applicable modifiers (including those from skills) in hopes to meet or exceed the given target number. (Opposed rolls use a dice pool where the only the highest die rolled is considered.) The target numbers are fairly static meaning that as a character progresses, they do get better because the target numbers don’t continually increase. The base dice mechanics are very simple and straight-forward. Base attributes are determined by character race and then players choose the skills their character is going to have. There are no character classes and players are free to create whatever character type they want, given the inherent flavor of the character race. The game does include a number of recommended archetypes to help players get started.

As stated, this Player’s Guide provides all the basics and core mechanics. Outside of that and you’ll have to get the Mission Controller’s Guide.

OVERALL

Solar Echoes is a decent space opera system. I can’t say much about the setting as there is little information here in regards to the setting. The combat system utilizes an integrated turn sequence whereas the players and MC act upon and react to each other going back and forth without slowing down. It can definitely keep the game moving better and keep players from getting bored. However, there are a lot of mechanics and it almost seems as though there are too many situations attempting to be discerned in the core mechanics. In other words, too many modifiers for too many situations means too much memorization or constantly referencing back through the book.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 6 out of 10 Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is a decent publication. The layout is smooth enough, but I was quite let down by the artwork. Each chapter has a two-page piece of artwork leading into the chapter, although none of them seem to pertain to what that chapter is about. Yes the artwork looks cool, but it has little to no meaning to the system or setting. While the cover art looks excellent and really draws you in, the large color pieces inside are let downs. The artwork in the character creation and equipment sections look awesome, and the rest of the artwork should have followed their lead. I also found a problem with all of the sidebars – none of them seemed to be legible. Either the font wasn’t right or they weren’t placed properly, but I really couldn’t read any of them without squinting.

The content formatting, however, was fairly bland; most of it read like a Power Point presentation. Each section has lots and lots of crunch, but there is very little narrative to either fully introduce the section, describe the mechanics, tie the mechanics to the setting or to other mechanics, or to simply give the reader something to read. There was definitely too much crunch and not enough narrative, and the setting doesn’t come through outside of History and Character Creation.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10 The base mechanics are interesting enough, but suffer from bloating in some areas. Although the character creation part is streamlined and the skills are kept trim, combat and talents are a bit much. The talents all seemed to be oriented toward combat leading to characters that may be useless outside of combat or at least the game falls short on exciting non-combat encounters. Additionally, a lot of the mechanics carried too many situations for penalties or bonuses whereas too many situations are trying to be compensated for instead of keeping it simple and consistent. Combat, while interesting and designed to keep everyone involved all the time, has a lot of fiddly rules that seem more like a miniatures war game than a role-playing game. All of the combat mechanics appear to be written exclusively with the use of a square-grid battlemap, otherwise they may break down. To me, this could slow things down. I would have preferred to see all the mechanics as trim and streamlined as character creation and skill usage.

Desire to Play: 6 out of 10 The core mechanics for Solar Echoes present an RPG that is interesting and unique. However, the setting information within this Player’s Guide does not; it completely falls flat and fails to present the player with enough information to immerse themselves within the game’s setting. If you want to try something new whereas combat is designed to be more interactive and presents itself as a grid-based system, then Solar Echoes is a great place to start. However, there is very little setting information and you would have to get as much out of it as you can or want to.

Overall: 6 out of 10 Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is obviously a great place for players to start should they be getting ready to play a Solar Echoes adventure or campaign. You’ll have to rely on the MC to provide additional setting information (hopefully) from the Mission Controller’s Guide, but you’ll definitely have no problem making a character. You may have some difficulty plowing through the combat mechanics during the first few sessions, but having a chance to act and react back-and-forth from PC to NPC can make for some excellent game sessions and you may find yourself preferring the integrated turn sequence over the basic initiative system.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Solar Echoes Player's Guide
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Publisher Reply:
Thank you for the honest review of our Player's Guide. We looked into the issue you brought up regarding blurry text in our “Flavor Text” boxes, and realized on some computers the resolution of these images was not as sharp as intended. As a result, we have corrected this by uncompressing the file to produce optimum clarity—we had wanted to keep the file size smaller for everyone, but agree that the text was slightly blurry in some instances due to the compression. Regarding your comments on setting, a lot is detailed in the flavor text boxes throughout the book, but we have also now added some of the setting material from the Mission Controller's Guide into the Player's Guide in the History section. As for mixing rules text with setting text, we had decided against this because we want players to be able to quickly find the rules they need to keep the game moving. The Player's Guide is intended to provide players with everything they need to create a character, buy equipment, and jump right into the game with an understanding of the rules. Yes, we do use a battlemap grid system for squad combat, which is a familiar method of gaming used in many RPG's. However, we step away from this for our vehicle combat, using a simplified, abstract system that frees players up from using a grid to conduct exciting battles. We believe these systems are well-suited for a tactical combat game. We hope that everyone enjoys the updates we have made to the Player's Guide, and welcome your reviews. Thank you for your thoughts on Solar Echoes! Andy Mitchell, Corefun Studios
#30 Staves (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/31/2012 20:53:09

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30288.

So why stick with that plain old staff your character has been claiming is just a “walking stick” for the last ten years when you can get something more? #30 Staves, provides a new avenue of new staves that makes your characters more unique and awesome.

OVERALL

30 Staves is a part of the #30 Series that Rite Publishing has published to give players a new unique option for the staff. With books and movies like The Hobbit bringing staves back in to geek and gaming fashion, this is definitely one of the things that is worth looking at.

RATINGS:

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: The format of the supplement is simple, clean and consistent. The artwork is simple and lovely. I would have liked the art to be labeled so that way I could line up which one represents which stave, but it allows them to be used in different forms. The bookmarks work well, and the layout is easy to read. I personally like the note of introduction that is presented adds a little personal flavor which I always like.

Ease of Mobility: The file is small, which makes transfer to mobile quite easy enough. The pages are easy to move through and the bookmarks are quite easy to work with.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 Mechanically, it’s sound enough. One of the things that gets me is that all the staves are of Wondrous Item price and style, which makes them impossible to purchase, unless you hijack a bank or have a GM who likes to give stuff like that away. Although I assume that it is the point, it would have been nice to see some staves that are affordable.

Value Add: 9 out of 10 As a supplemental item, it holds it’s own, and the items are unique and different. But there is nothing that makes me go “WOW! I have to buy that!”. So it dings it for me, but isn’t something that is considered a deal breaker in the value of the product.

Overall: 10 out of 10 This is an item that is definitely worth looking at. It’s priced fairly as a PDF, and could definitely make for great additional items for GMs and players who are looking to spend their hard earned loot.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Staves (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Way of the Samurai (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/27/2012 14:58:45

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30016.

The Way of the Samurai is a whopping 52-page book quite loaded full of options to expand the Samurai class.

OVERALL

The samurai class is one of the quieter classes of the Pathfinder system. But for 3rd party publishers, this is one of the most expanded upon classes. Rite Publishing however, has taken the expansion of the class to a whole new level, which makes the class that much more awesome. Add to the fact that if you intend to utilize the Kaidan Campaign setting that Rite Publishing has developed, you can’t go wrong with picking this item up!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: The presentation of this book is well done. The bookmarks are well done, and the artwork is incredibly impressive. Although most of it is public domain, you can tell they did a great job in choosing very delicately what they wanted to showcase, and it was quite impressive indeed. If printed, this would look magnificent, and I would definitely purchase it printed for any campaigns in which I would utilize it for.

Ease of Mobility: It comes in at 38MB, which means it’s a little bigger than what Rite Publishing does normally. But in size, they make up for in layout and presentation. I am wondering if they do have plans to print this one eventually, for it would make a great addition print wise into any campaign setting as well as their own that they are working with. Navigating it though is a little bit of a challenge on tablets and E-readers due to size. The bookmarks in place make this a lot easier, but if you are looking for something specific via search , it’s quite a bit of work due to the size.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 There are no major issues with the mechanics of the archetypes, traits or feats. I am not a big fan of the Honor system, since Pathfinder already has Hero Points in place that can do the same thing. But it’s not a deal breaker in the grand scheme of things. Also, the clan building stat blocks are a little confusing at first, but if you take your time and read it, it’s a nice little addition – it takes it’s cues off of the Kingmaker Adventure Path and makes things easier to understand.

Value Add: 10 out of 10 There is so much stuff here, that it will last quite a long time! Even if you don’t play the Kaidan campaign setting, there is still a good number of items that make expanding on your normal Samurai even better. What impresses me is the price. For $6 you get a book that normally you would see for $10 in the industry, if not more. So Rite Publishing has definitely won my heart in the “affordable publisher” category for 2012.

Overall: 10 out of 10 The last few reviews I’ve had of Rite Publishing have been a little blah. But this is a product that not only do I mind giving 10 out of 10 for, mechanically and on item presentation. But this product is something that I actually plan on using in my newest campaign that I am writing. It’s a product that if you plan on utilizing for Kaidan and/or your own personal games, you will have material to last you for quite a long time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Way of the Samurai (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

101 Bard Feats (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/24/2012 16:12:07

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30011.

101 Bard Feats is 26 pages of new options so that the vision you have of your master of lore and song can easily be obtained and explored. It offers support to all of the class archetypes from the Animal Speaker to the Street Performer. It also offers the options of gaining some of these feats through the versatile performance class feature and making use of your rounds of bardic performance as an expendable resource, as well as expanding upon the role of bard beyond being an artisan, but embracing its role as a master of charm and lore. It is currently available for $5.99 at DriveThruRPG.

OVERALL:

For me, this is a great expansion of the bard class. If you are looking for more options for the bard class, this is definitely a great option to make available at a campaign table. Personally, I don’t play bards, but there are definitely a lot of people who do, so this is definitely something for those who play “resident bards” to expand their creativity and flexibility depending on the campaign.

RATINGS:

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10

Presentation of Layout: The presentation is very simple, clean and easy to read. Bookmarks are a little hit or miss, but not so bad that it makes navigating impossible, or will frustrate the person who is looking for something specific.

Ease of Mobility: The file is small and under 10MB. This makes it easy to navigate, and transfer back and forth from computer to mobile. It’s easily to scroll via tablet as well.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10 Mechanically, there are no serious rules issues. But if you plan on using feats from this add-on, be sure to double check that they don’t counteract with other rules in the Pathfinder RPG system. Some of the feats can actually work against a Bard’s build if not put in proper application. Also, as I say with all 3rd party material, make sure you show a copy to your GM before you implement it so the GM can give you approval.

Value Add: 10 out of 10 101 Bard Feats adds a lot more versatility to not only archetypes that are already in place in Pathfinder, but if you are building a custom bard, definitely adds flavor. The price is also right for the item and the information that you get for it.

Overall: 10 out of 10 Overall, the presentation is nice and simple, it’s got a good wealth of information and options for bards and GM’s who are looking to spruce up the bard NPC’s that a party may meet along the way.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Bard Feats (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Achtung! Cthulhu: Heroes of the Sea - Savage Worlds
Publisher: Modiphius
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/21/2012 17:48:44

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30113.

Heroes of the Sea is the follow-on campaign module for Acthung! Cthulhu, Zero Point campaign. This particular version was written for Savage Worlds using Realms of Cthulhu from Reality Blurs. Acthung! Cthulhu is set within the midst of World War II taking the action in Europe and giving it a Cthulhu Mythos twist. Heroes of the Sea even incorporates the Dreamlands into the campaign.

OVERALL

Having previously read through the first campaign module using Call of Cthulhu, I find Acthung! Cthulhu lends itself much better to using Savage Worlds than Basic Roleplaying. As an action horror setting and not just an investigative horror setting, the pulp-like features of Savage Worlds help to enhance the action-like features of Acthung! Cthulhu without subjecting the characters to the restrictions of character strength like Basic Roleplaying (due to things like Bennies, Edges, and the ease of rolling over a TN of 4 with higher die types). Not that I don’t like the setting combined with Call of Cthulhu, I just like it a lot more when combined with Realms of Cthulhu and the Savage Worlds core system.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 Heroes of the Sea is a wonderful looking publication, albeit a bit slow at times when reading on a handheld device. The layout looks fantastic, the fonts are easy to read, and the general formatting is excellent. There is a lot of great artwork and maps.

Storyline: 8 out of 10 Heroes of the Sea has a good storyline that does an okay job of developing from beginning to end. A lot of additional storyline information could be added or at least additional elements of the surrounding activities could be added throughout the development of that storyline. At times I felt the storyline was progressing too quickly and would have liked too see additional Dreamlands information woven into the that developing storyline.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10 The entire Acthung! Cthulhu campaign (so far) is an excellent action horror gaming experience. The PCs are thrown directly into the mix of World War II but from a very localized aspect instead of the war as a global feature. In other words, the war is going on all around the PCs, and they have to continue with their efforts without getting caught or killed. It’s a great collection of action with a layer of the Cthulhu Mythos over it. However, it should be noted that the Cthulhu Mythos is not the centerpiece of the series (at least so far), but rather an integral part of everything going on. Thus, the war is as much a part of the campaign as the mythos.

Overall: 9 out of 10 The Acthung! Cthulhu campaign is developing very well so far. The modules are nice and small (not page length, but in focus) considering the grand aspect of being surrounded by a war. In other words, you’re not trying to save the world or stop the war, you are simply a small group of special ops doing specific jobs behind enemy lines.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Heroes of the Sea - Savage Worlds
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Epoch
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/20/2012 20:17:50

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30327.

EPOCH is epic! This is more than just a role-playing game, in that it is also a new kind of narrative tool with the power to improve your storytelling and role-playing in general. EPOCH is a cooperative game, meaning that the players and Game Master work together to weave a quality horror story. It is a contemporary horror game, but the elements of the game can easily be ported to other genres.

This review was delayed by a considerable margin, much to the chagrin of my Chief Editor, for a very selfish reason. Upon reading the book and assembling the cards, I gathered some players and began to play . . . and play . . . and play.

We played the Tension Phases, in which drama is built up and invoked. We played Challenge Rounds, in which some characters survived and those who ran out of the right sorts of cards perished in a particularly entertaining and horrific manner through total mental collapse, death, or something much worse. We cringed. We laughed. We voted for the most interesting character, who received a card back that had been played and therefore had a better chance of surviving the total game. These games went on. Addicted, we played more. So it went.

You’ll notice that certain keywords in this review are capitalized. These correspond to major categories of cards. This game is played with cards – lots of cards. There are no dice involved. Cards drive the narrative progression. Cards define your Relationships, be they Colleagues, Friends, Family, or Strangers. Cards are used to portray your Traits, Strengths, and Weaknesses – and you get to keep them secret until you use them in the game.

When you run out of certain cards, the opportunity to role-play a quality doom is upon you. Scream. Throw yourself on the floor and have a fit. Cower in a corner, whispering strange nonsense. Die poetically, or badly – it’s your choice. Think of any horror movie you’ve ever seen. EPOCH lets you enter such a story and play it to whatever extreme your creativity permits. As a horror game, it allows three possible Outcomes, using a tool known as the Horror Track: Defeat, Hollow Victory, or Total Victory. The more points the characters score as they work through the story, the better the outcome.

OVERALL

I have been enthralled by EPOCH. This is a totally new way to run a role-playing game and is extremely satisfying. EPOCH is also educational, and the mechanics force a cooperative structure and atmosphere that can enhance the play of other role-playing games as well. Get it.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 This rating will improve to 10 out of 10 as soon as a professionally-rendered print-on-demand set of playing cards is available. As a PDF product, the graphics, type, and structure are excellent. Full sets of cards are well-rendered and everything you need to play is presented in an excellent fashion. The different types of content are visually separated, and the progression of information is well-formatted. I found that assembling my deck of cards took quite a while. It was well worth the work but, being a lazy sort dedicated to instant gratification, this took some effort. To our great fortune, Imaginary Empire is planning to release a print-on-demand EPOCH card deck in 2013, along with two sci-fi scenarios and an additional volume with optional rules, additional scenarios, and advice on constructing your own storylines.

Until then, here’s a helpful hint: print the PDF cards using “actual size” rather than “fit to printing area”. Use a good thick paper 30 – 50 lb stock. Cut the cards out carefully towards the inside edge of the thick black lines. The fronts and backs can then be slid into clear Ulta Pro 54 mm by 80 mm Board Game Sleeves. These can be found online in packs of 50. Get two packs.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 The mechanics are laid out systematically and the breakdown has been structured in a way that makes the system easy to grasp. There is a one-page overview sheet that shows the structure of the entire game, complete with page references for immediate review. EPOCH is a different type of game, so there is much to learn, and this has been structured in an excellent fashion.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10 The only reason this isn’t a 10 rating is that EPOCH is very different from most games in this genre. There are some players who might rebel against the lack of dice in a purely card-driven system. There is very little room in EPOCH for the admittedly popular adversarial relationship between the Game Master (GM) and the players, so there may be certain players who might not be able to adapt to this extremely different narrative approach.

Overall: 9 out of 10 In conclusion, EPOCH has already improved the quality of my own role-playing and story-telling. I have complete confidence that it can do the same for you. Give it a try.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Epoch
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

101 Featured Alternate Racial Traits (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/17/2012 20:29:15

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29407.

101 Featured Alternate Racial Traits is small sourcebook that focuses on a small set of racial traits from Paizo’s Advanced Races Guide. It gives players more options to expand and customize a character’s racial traits which can thus expands a character’s uniqueness.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: What kills me about the presentation is that it could have been done so much better. The bookmarks in the PDF are rendered useless due to the fact there are two races per page. They had enough text and art to easily give each race a page without too much white space waste. Instead they slapped on the artwork at the top of the page and did a continuous flow of the text instead of taking the extra time to give each race a page of it’s own. To me this looks like either a deadline crunch or laziness. If you are going to charge $6, then take the extra time and do the layout right. However, at its sale price, you can overlook that. This layout makes looking for a specific race a little more cumbersome and defeats the purpose of having PDF bookmarks. The artwork is nice and not too heavy, I especially like the artwork that comes with the Undine race.

Ease of Mobility: The file is easy to view and transferring to mobile devices is easy and without major issues. The file is a nice small size, and with the simple layout presentation, zooming in an out is a breeze. There are bookmarks, but they are somewhat rendered useless due to how the layout of the information is done. Rite Publishing is good with making layouts that are easy to load and somewhat navigate, and if you needed to print any pages out, it wouldn’t burn too much ink. If you plan on printing this as a source guide, either as a player or as options being the GM, it will look pretty darn nice.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10 Mechanically, there are no major errors in 101 Featured Alternate Racial Traits. I dislike that it has alternative racial ability score options, but they aren’t overpowering. One of the things that also kills me about this product, is that they took only a few races from the Advanced Races Guide. I was expecting to see something for Orcs and Tengus and possibly even some of the more uncommon races. But they skip those two, and do away with all the uncommon races period. I feel like this is product is incomplete, because I was expecting all of them, but they were not there.

Value Add: 9 out of 10 Although I feel all of the races were not featured in this product, this is not to say the racial traits provided are not good and viable options. There are quite a lot of options available for all players and GMs for building memorable NPC’s. The product also takes advantage of skills that many races or classes may not carry and allows players to customize as necessary.

If you are going to highlight a chapter or a section of a Paizo product, especially one with notoriety such as Advanced Races Guide, then you should make sure you take a section and do all of them, not just pick and choose. Mechanically to me, this is not “Racial traits except Orcs and Tengus”, so to leave them out is a little bit of a minus point to me.

Overall: 8 out of 10 This isn’t a bad product, it is a very good product. But as a GM and a player, layout and presentation of information is everything. I have to be able to access what I need as simply as possible, in the most efficient format possible. Add to the fact that there are two major races missing from and it makes it hard for me to give it a higher score. I want to really love this product, but it really is the small things that keep me from loving it more. However, for the sale price, this is a product worth taking a look at and adding to your repertoire if it works for you. I would buy it, but make sure that my orc and tengu players know there is nothing here for them.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
101 Featured Alternate Racial Traits (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

The Observatory
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/14/2012 15:03:43

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30121.

The Observatory is a fantasy-styled observatory with a design that I think resembles Renaissance styling. The map consists of two floors plus a roof (The location of the telescope). Throughout the interior floors is a very decorative design on the floor with no shortage of inscribed runes. An armillary sphere serves as the centerpiece and a scattering of work desks can be found. Overall, the effect is one of arcane mysticism combined with the beauty of the room creating a masterpiece showcase for any fantasy scholar interested in searching the cosmos.

OVERALL

The Observatory is a simple yet intricate battlemap whereas you get a couple of large open spaces sparsely consumed with furniture and a highly-decorated floor with an incredible amount of detail. As with many other DramaScape products, it’s the details that make the big difference.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 The Observatory is a dodecagon-shaped building that cuts across nine pages for each floor. The edges get a little funky due to their relative size, but using the centerpiece armillary sphere as the center “tile” makes construction across those nine pages much simpler. Thus when you layout the entire battlemap, the highly decorative centerpiece is not cut across those pages. Additionally, the map comes in square, hex, and no grid.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10 The Observatory is a beautiful map with an exquisite amount of detail. The alignment of the wooden floor is not always perfect, but the textures are beautiful and very lifelike. The decoration of the first floor and all other little details throughout (such as the large number of runes) make the map very visually appealing when looked at as a whole.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10 The Observatory is obviously a very niche battlemap. The very open floor plan may seem a bit too open for some, but others may opt to fill it with other goodies or use as a great place for an interesting encounter. A map such as this can easily be used as a source for plot ideas within an adventure or campaign given its uniqueness and a wonder of who’s observatory it is and what are they looking at? Maybe they’re attempting to call down horrific creatures from distant planets and are locating them through the use of the telescope!

Overall: 9 out of 10 The Observatory is a great and unique battlemap. Its use can easily spark a number of interesting plot hooks and possible storylines, although it may not fit within too many settings given its design. If you’re running a Renaissance themed fantasy adventure, this can easily be a showcase piece for your setting as its styling really fits that “look and feel.”



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Observatory
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 61 to 75 (of 239 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates