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Mazes & Perils: The Vile Witch
Publisher: Moebius Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2016 12:58:48

The Vile Witch is the newest class for Mazes & Perils.
Before I talk about the class I want to give a shout out to cover artist Jacob Blackmon. Another great witchy creation from him.


The Vile Witch is a 14 page book (cover, 2 pages of OGL, 1 page of ads, 1 title page for 9 pages of content) dedicated to the new vile witch spell caster. This is a character that revels in what others throw away. It immediately reminded me of the Junk Lady in the movie Labyrinth AND Maja the witch from Adventure Time; she is the witch that buys Marceline's teddy bear Hambo for its memories. The idea is that there is power in memories and power in items that have been associated with others. It's a powerful archetype really and one with a LOT of potential.
But because the witch is so often mired in the refuse of others her appearance and form suffers.


The class has a lot of interesting features and powers in addition to some new spells and familiars. Vile Witches are limited to 9th level. I think I see why, but I would try them to 10th or 12th like the other spell casting classes. Though she does have more powers (familiars and "vile blood") as well as a quicker spell advancement.
The book has both "vile familiars" and "common familiars". Common familiars can be used by any spell casting class, the vile ones are for the vile witch. The rules are simple, as befitting the M&P game, and easy to use. If you want familiar rules then this is a good choice to be honest even if you never use the class itself.
The book also contains 19 new vile witch spells. While these spells could be used with any other magic using class, they are very specific to the vile witch and really give her a lot of flavor and color.


For just under $2 there is a lot of material here. It is a very different sort of witch and I like that. I am certain that this class will make for some great NPCs and hopefully some really great PCs as well.


What I kept thinking while reading it was that a Vile Witch dedicated to the Goddess, Tlazolteotl would be a good idea. She could even be "good" or Lawfully aligned. Something like a "Sin Eater". Her job is to make good things happen by "eating" the bad things.
Only a thought, but it would be how I'd play the class.


In any case this is a really original twist on the witch and one I really like.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mazes & Perils: The Vile Witch
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AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic (Basic/1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/05/2016 09:41:23

"The D&D and AD&D games are actually different games." p.74, The Book of Marvelous Magic.
This was not the first time I had read this, and by 1985 I had moved away from the D&D game to AD&D, it was still interesting to read this. Back then we freely mixed the two systems without so much as a care.

So it was with some confusion then that when I picked up AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic that is proudly stated it was for the D&D AND AD&D games. This was only emphasized more with the very first magic item listed, the Alternate World Gate. AD&D was treated on the same level as Gamma World, Star Frontiers, and Boot Hill.


Confusion of compatibility issues aside, The Book of Marvelous Magic became one of my favorite and most frustrating D&D accessories. Favorite because at this time I was serious into working on my witch class for AD&D/D&D and I was looking for guidelines on how magic items should be created. I didn't find that here, but I did find a lot of inspiration. Also, there were a lot of magic items in this book that later would become rather important in my own games for the next 2-3 years.
Frustrating because I never could get my gaming groups to embrace this book like I did. I think it something to do with the punny names of the some of the items. I now know that this was just something that was going on at the TSR offices back then (see I6 Ravenloft), but it made it difficult to take the book seriously at times.


The authors are listed as Frank Mentzer with Gary Gygax, but I think we all knew at the time that Mentzer did the lions-share of work on this. The book covers the same span of characters (and same span of publication) of the Mentzer penned Basic, Expert and Companion Rules. Living in my small town in Illinois I think this might have been the first reference I saw to the Companion ruleset. Reading this book I am thinking that the Companion rules had just been written and the Master Rules had not. There are no references to the Master Rules and in places, the rules seem to put 36 at the top of the character achievement and in others, it was 26.


So what does this book have? Well, there are over 500 new (at the time) magic items spanning 76 pages of text. The cover art is from none other than Clyde "I'll have the thigh" Caldwell and really grabbed my attention. Not like that (though I was 15 at the time) but because she looked like a bad ass witch.


The magic items are divided by type, so for example under Armband there are five listed magical Armbands. When a magic item needs to be listed, such a Bag of Holding, it is listed with a "see D&D Basic Set".


The book did raise the question in our groups of who was creating all these magic items? That was never fully answered here or really anywhere for a couple more decades. We opted that most of these were in fact fairly unique items. So there were not a lot of "Buttons of Blasting" out there, but maybe one or two at best.


There are a few magic items here that I still have not seen in other (future) versions of D&D, so it is worth it just for those. It is also a great insight to the mid 80s D&D, a time when TSR was on top of the world, right before the big shakeup. Also at the time I enjoyed tthis book, but largely ignored Mentzer's magnum-opus BEMCI D&D. Reviewing both now as an adult I see I did all these books a large disservice.


What is in these books that gamers of today can use? Well in truth, LOTS.
Really. The book might as well say "Compatible with 5th Edition D&D" on the cover. Hell. Change the trade dress and you could almost republish it as is with little editing. Yeah remove references to Basic, Expert and Companion. Change some of the spell casting descriptions, but otherwise this is still a gem today as it was 30 years ago.


Time to re-introduce the Collar of Stiffness to my games!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic (Basic/1e)
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Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
Publisher: 00Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/28/2016 10:06:03

Baba Yaga is one of the those great villians/NPCs that has been back for every generation of the World's Greatest Fantasy Role-Playing Game and likely always will. I recently ran a 5th ed conversion of the 2nd ed module "Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga" and this worked great. Well...and least in theory. The palyers were smart enough not to make Baba Yaga angry and instead did her a service. Still it was good to know I had these.


The book is 7 pages. Minus 1 for cover, 1 for a full page of art (which I liked), and 1 for the OGL you have 4 pages of solid D&D5 stats. More detailed than a monster entry (as it should be) there are plenty of ideas in-text to use. The best idea is of course do what you can to keep her from attacking the party! CR 26 yes, but also spell use, phyiscal attacks and magic items of unique properties. These stats live up to her legacy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
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Beasties
Publisher: Night Owl Workshop
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/27/2016 09:59:57

I have gone on the record, many, many times, talking about how much I love monster books. My first glimpse into D&D was way back in 1978-79 when I first saw and read the Monster Manual. Very few books have come close to that feeling of unlimited potential. So when a new monster book comes out, I have to take a look and usually grab it.


Beasties from Night Owl Workshop has something of a pedigree in my mind. The art and text are from none other than +Thomas Denmark. He is responsible for some of my favorite art during the d20 boom, in particular Citizen Games "Way of the Witch".


Beasties is an 84 page, digest sized, black and white interior book of new monsters. According to the sales text on DriveThru the book contains:
27 Monsters
6 NPC's
37 Drawings!
5 Maps
1 "Megadungeon" sample.


It certainly punches above its weight class in terms of monsters and content. All the art is by Denmark himself, as is the text with additional text by Terry Olsen.


The book is designed for "Original Fantasy Rules" but plenty of conversion notes are given for OSRIC and Basic Fantasy. There are also some conversion notes for Nite Owl Workshop's other games Colonial Troopers, Guardians and Warriors of the Red Planet.


Monsters are typically presents with stats and description on one page and the art on the next.
Many of the monsters have a distinct "old school" or even pulpy feel about them. Indeed, I certainly can see many of these working great with WotRP above.
There are a lot of new undead monsters to add some interesting challenges to your players too.


I love the "Flying Locust Citadel" to be honest. There are just not enough flying mega-dungeons in D&D as far as I am concerned.


Plus the entire work is released as "Open" under the OGL so that is a nice touch.


Bookmarks in the PDF would have been nice as well as a table of contents. All in all a good book for the price.


Sinderan Witches
Of course, these two caught my attention right away. I'd love to hear more about "Sinder's ancient past" and how these two groups of witches came to be. I'd also love to hear how the "Sinderan Light Witch" became the evil, youth stealing witch and the "Sinderean Shadow Witch" became the good protectors of the innocent. I could build an entire tradition out of these two.


Originally posted here:
http://theotherside.timsbra-
nnan.com/2016/06/monstrous-monday-beasties-from-night.htmla>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasties
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H4 The Throne of Bloodstone (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/14/2016 10:04:18

Originally posted here: http://theotherside.tims-
brannan.com/2016/04/a-to-z-of-adventure-h-is-for-high-level.-
html


H4 The Throne of Bloodstone was fairly notorious back in the day. It was another adventure I bought and then gave to my DM with screams of "run this!" We ran it the first summer I was home from college.


The basic plot is that all the trouble caused in the previous modules was not just due to a cult of the Demon Prince Orcus, but Orcus himself. In H4 the characters went to his lair in the Abyss and killed him. Ok...where to begin with this one!


Well let's start with that cover.


This is the only adventure in the series that is labeled for the Forgotten Realms. The first, H1, assumed any world. There is Orcus himself coming out of the mouth hell or something (the Abyss really). Oh and the recommended levels...let's see, 18 to 100! 100th level characters?


I have to admit that was one of the reasons why I grabbed this. We had been playing a LONG time and I have many characters well past the by-the-book levels. AD&D at the time really only went to about 25th level, but figuring out higher levels was not that big of a deal. Generally speaking adventures topped off at 20th level.
So I took some characters, right around 20th - 25th level...and a couple of them died right away! This was not an adventure to screw around with.


The other thing you notice with this adventure is that it is long. The module itself is like 96 pages and tons of maps. I seem to recall it took us a while to get through it too, most of the summer I was home from college.


You do get to fight Orcus in the end, as well as Tiamat, Baphomet, a giant Red Dragon, and potentially Asmodeus. It is just a deadly, deadly module.


After this I retired all the characters that went through. After all what was left for them to do?


Fighting Orcus is a theme that D&D would come back to again and again. The HPE series for 4e, especially the Epic modules. In 2nd edition the events of this module would later play out as part of the Dead Gods adventure.


For me, today, this adventure is a template for other high level adventures. While the module said up to 100th level, there are not really many qualitative differences between a 25th level character and a 100th level one. Fighters top off in attacks. Clerics top off on undead turning at 14th level and so on. I was a little disappointed that the AD&D designers did not take a page from the D&D team in this case. At this point in time AD&D and D&D were two different, but similar, systems. D&D characters could go to 36th level and even become immortal. Some of that would have been helpful here.


Much like the E modules, this module is likely to use as a source of material, but not so much as the adventure itself. Still...running it could be a lot of fun.


In truth fighting Orcus is a always a good idea. He is a demon, he wants to destroy everything AND in the E series he desires to become a god. In truth this H series and the E series only scratches the surface when it comes to fighting Orcus. And even if you do kill him there is still the Dead Gods adventure that deals with him coming back from the dead. In fact there are no lack of products out there to let you match up against the Demon Prince Orcus.


This is certainly an end-game adventure, after this buy that castle in southern Nyrond, hang your +5 Holy Avenger over the mantle, hire some Valley Elves to make some wine and kick up your heals and smoke pipe weed to end of your days.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
H4 The Throne of Bloodstone (1e)
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YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones
Publisher: Jeremy Reaban
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2016 15:17:24

YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones was written by Jeremy Reaban. I have featured some of his products on my blog in the past.


Y in this case might stand for Yuggoth, which is the home-world of the Mi-Go, or at least one of their outposts. This adventure, designed for characters 6th to 10th level for any old-school game, heavily features the Mi-Go. While he describes it as a "Science fiction" "dungeon crawl" only a tiny bit of work is needed to make this one horror or a mystery. Afterall, people are going missing, strangers are showing up in town and there is that whole eerie cave system.


Like most of the old-school adventures, this one is light on plot and heavy on the dungeon crawl atmosphere, and that is by design really. The adventure is simple enough but there is so much more that can be done with it if you want. Note: I should point out this is NOT a criticism of the adventure, quite the opposite really.

So basically the Mi-Go are in town and they are doing what the Mi-Go do, removing brains from bodies and putting them into other bodies or their special cylinders. The brains stay alive and are even immortal after a fashion. They are also experimenting on the local fauna. A couple of things in this adventure jumped out as me as hitting that 70's/80's nostalgia sweet spot. There is a Flumph the Mi-go can't figure out. A bionic Sasquatch! (I mean really, was this written just for me?) I biologic towel, a Valley Girl brain, and this whole "Escape to Witch Moutain" vibe about it. There is a witch and Swanmay in it as well.


Personally I would take Jeremy's advice and expand the module a bit. Have the party meet the old witch Gwen in her "old" form, but then encounter her again when she is in one of the brain jars and then again when she is in her new body. Also, I'd make all the Mi-Go's human form all look roughly the same; perfect, blonde, blue eyes, devoid of any real personality. Like something out of Village of the Damned. Liked they learned how to be human by reading it in a book.
I'd also make their plans a little more nefarious. This is a scout group looking to colonize this planet. Makes that bionic Bigfoot look a little more scary if you ask me!


Obviously, a good companion to this adventure would be Jeremy's own OSR Warlock. Make Gwen a warlock AND the one responsible for bringing the Mi-Go here. I'd also play it under Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Give it that "colder and darker" feel that AS&SH can provide. Plus there are already a number of good Lovecraft Mythos beasties in that game.


My biggest issue with this adventure is where do I use it? I have so many choices to be honest. I could easily slot it in as a "Monster of the Week" story, but that would sell it's potential short. I could make it part of a larger campaign, but I would also want the Mi-Go to be more that just a one shot.


In any case I know this will be a fun one.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones
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JD2 Darkland Moors
Publisher: UNIgames
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/28/2016 17:15:00

Another mini-adventure, this time for a little bit higher lever adventurers. The basic idea here is to investigate the moor and defeat a cyclops causing trouble. There are three black and white maps. Given this is about a cyclops I could work it into the Giants series pretty easily.


Both Jeff Dee's JD Adventures are under $2.50. At just under 10 pages it is perfect for a quick afternoon game. It would work great while traveling to another adventure or in-between towns. Good for slotting in between other adventures or even to break up the campaign a little.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
JD2 Darkland Moors
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Ravenloft (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/09/2016 13:09:50

The 3.0 era was on us. I had just come back to D&D from a long hiatus and to my surprise we were getting a new Ravenloft setting and it was going to be penned by Swords & Sorcery Studios/Arthaus/White Wolf. Say what you like about WW, they do know vampires.


Ravenloft 3.0 was one of my favorite books I bought in the new 3.x era and I loved how it looked. I splurged and grabbed the limited edition version from my favorite local game store.


I thought the art was fantastic and loved how well it adapted itself to the 3.0 rules. But I had already had some experiences with 3.0 and even had pictured up some Swords & Sorcery Studios books and enjoyed those as well. The races were a nice treat to be honest. For the first time I really felt like I could run a Ravenloft game with the likes of gnomes, halflings and especially half-orcs, now rebranded as Calibans and the new Giogoto.


I think though I was expecting more at the time. SSS was part of White Wolf like I mentioned and I was hoping for some of what made Vampire: The Masquerade so good to be here. In re-reading it now, so many years later, I find I had unrealistic expectations. In truth this book is a much better organized and updated version of the 2e Domains of Dread book. The nice thing about Ravenloft (and many of the D&D worlds) is that the plot kept moving along despite edition changes. Though there is also a nice timeline included so DMs can do what they want.


This book has a black and white interior when most others were going full color. To me this is a feature, not a bug. Ravenloft is world of shades of grey and the art here is helps convey this. The book is a basic campaign guide including the people, the lands and most important for Ravenloft, the horrors of the lands. There are some new feats and skills. No new spells, but suggestions on how magic will be altered by the Mists. There is even a section on the Gods of Ravenloft.


Since most of this book covers the lands, their inhabitants and the Cultural Level of each, there is not a lot of crunch. Translation: You can use this with any other version of D&D you like. Even the feats look like they would work well with 5e still. Even the section on "Fear, Horror and Madness" would work well.


It lacks large foldout maps of the 2e days, but it is a surprisingly good resource to me these days.
Well worth picking up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ravenloft (3.0)
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Scum and Villainy
Publisher: Stellagama Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2016 16:30:05

"Scum and Villainy" is likely to be the most aptly named supplement for the White Star game I have picked up in a long time. After all, if White Star is the godchild of Star Wars and 70s D&D then Scum and Villainy had to come up sooner or later.


S&V is a 17-page book (cover, credits page, table of contents, 1.5 pages of OGL bring us to 12.5 pages of content) for playing the low-life of the galaxy. Written by Omer G. Joel it also features some really nice art from Luigi Castellani. It is very evocative. I see that and I think "Traveller" and that is not a bad thing. Nor is it an accident.
I am in love with that cover.


There are two new classes, the Assassin and the Rogue who do pretty much what you think they do, but there are some nice features to make them fit the WS universe a bit better.


The gems of this though are the expanded rules. How to go unnoticed in space. How to sell stolen goods. Really the stuff that you expect to see in a book like this, but never really do.


There is a section on ship mods, new equipment and new weapons.


There was a lot of good things here, but I was hoping for more. Maybe a bit on a notorious crime synidicate or something along those lines.


With 17 pages at $3.99 I was expecting more. Compare this to the B/X Rogue which is 24 pages at $1.50 and covers similar ground. Combining the two would give you some really potent rogues!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Scum and Villainy
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Character Crucible: Dhampirs (A Race for 5E)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2016 07:32:56

Not very large, but it does exactly what it needs to do. The Dhampir is a great race to play in any version of D&D, but Mark capitalizes on the strengths of D&D5 to make a fun race. I would have an easier time working these Dhampirs into my games than the Dragonborn and Tieflings my kids want to play all the time.
Perfect for a buck.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Character Crucible: Dhampirs (A Race for 5E)
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Psionics Unearthed: Tesseract (A Martial Archetype for 5E)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/11/2016 07:25:39

I just got it and love it. The best way to describe it is "blinky thieves" but it would work for any martial class too. It might actually be a little underpowered compared to say the Arcane Trickster, but the fact that a Tesseract can use their powers multiple times between long rests makes up for it. My kids will fight over who gets to use this one!
I can easily think of several places where a character like this would work well in a fantasy game. A half-elf theif with this archetype with a backstory of living on the streets, abandoned by both races...the character practically writes itself!
All this for just a buck? Yeah, that is a steal!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Unearthed: Tesseract (A Martial Archetype for 5E)
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Deities and Domains: Specialty Priests of the Forgotten Realms (39 Feats for 5E)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2016 07:16:54

At 25 pages and 39 dieties this is one of the larger products I have purchased here (DM's Guild). While overtly for the Forgotten Realms, there is so much here that any D&D 5 palyer should grab it and just swap out the names for their own gods. Plus it comes with a printer-friendly version. I am already using the cleric of Mystra, only in my game it is a cleric of Wee Jas.
Easy to read. Flexible and not overpowering. Easily slotted into any D&D game. Honestly what more could you ask?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deities and Domains: Specialty Priests of the Forgotten Realms (39 Feats for 5E)
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Stock Art Characters
Publisher: Space Pirate Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/03/2016 06:52:55

Another really great piece of art. Sometimes I know where I want to use something before I buy it. In this case I bought this just becuase I liked it a lot.
The file format is PDF, which is fine if I am going to use this for personal use only (I think I want to print it out as part of a character folio) but for publishing my own works I would prefer TIFF or PSD files.


Use to use re-license for comercial work.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art Characters
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Publisher Reply:
Let me know if that works, not sure if I updated it all correctly.
Stock Art Star Ships 5
Publisher: Space Pirate Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/02/2016 12:49:22

Exactly what I needed when I needed it!
The ship is perfect and having so many different points of view is great.


Hi Res TIFF or PSD files would have been nicer, but I made it work.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art Star Ships 5
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Alpha Blue
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/11/2016 07:26:12

Alpha Blue is the latest release from Kort'thalis Publishing and +Venger Satanis.


Alpha Blue is a Space Station where the party never ends. The book is 111 pages (114 if you count covers and extra page). The art is what you would expect from Venger; good and on the creepy side. Some I think I have seen before, but I can't be sure really. But all of it really comes with a nice vibe of late 70s/early 80s sci-fi cheese. Basically if you grew up in the 70s and 80s watching any sci-fi you will recognize something here. If you are like me then something you will like. They layout is clean and easy to read. I also appreciate the color and b/w versions of the character sheet.


The book has a basic system attached to it, mostly, as the author describes to set the tone for a game. The character generation system actually would well as an additional bit of character information for your standard OSR game. There is some good material here that can be used for something like White Star or Starships & Spacemen. Print out your game's regular sheet and an Alpha Blue sheet back to back.


The rest of the book is the reall meat of the book and might not really be most people's cup of tea. Alpha Blue is a Space Brothel. The obvious nod here is to the old adult movie The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue. I will happily admit I have seen and enjoyed the movie. Actually the movie is an interesting social commentary that all the best sci-fi movies have. But that is for another discussion.


Alpha Blue, the book, is thankfully devoid of social commentary. I am not trying to say the book is nothing but sleazy encounters, but there is a lot here that can be great setting material...and some sleaze.


I think that Venger missed a good opportunity here to call the game master a "Blue Dungeon Space Master" or a BDSM. A little awkward? Yeah. No worse than Dungeon Master I guess.


I mentioned in the past that this premise reminds me of the +Shon Richards' story Pleasure Station Sigma. The comparison still holds, but there is more to Alpha Blue than just that.


Honestly there are so many hidden gems and easter eggs here that I am still finding them weeks in to reading this game. Which brings up a point.
The one thing this book lacks, and really could use, is it's own "Appendix N". A collection of late 70s early 80s B and C grade Sci-Fi movies and TV shows. Off the top of my head I saw influences of Logan's Run, Barbarella (ok 60s), Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek (TOS), Star Wars (the first trilogy only), Doctor Who (explictly mentioned), Galaxina, Cherry 2000, Westworld, Heavy Metal, Weird Science, the Buck Rodgers RV series, the Flash Gordon movie and of course, Satisfyers of Alpha Blue.


There are a lot of random tables in this book too. Personally I am not a fan of a bunch of random tables, but here it works. After all this is a space station with a lot going on. Plus it fits not only the Gonzo-Sci-Fi style VS has going here, but also the Gonzo-OSR style all his books have.


Alpha Blue is not for the easily offended. It is also not really for anyone that did grow up in the 70s or 80s; too much of the content will be lost on anyone that hears "Starbuck" and thinks coffee or Katee Sackhoff. There is the right group out there for this book, and for that group it will be a lot of fun. Some reviews have called this an "adult" title. Maybe. Personally I would say it is R-rated at the worst. Though now I do know how much damage a jelly-double headed dildo will do if used in combat.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alpha Blue
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