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Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/18/2009 07:09:56
(Note that this review contains a big spoiler.)

"The Dying Of St Margaret’s" is a professionally presented and evocative Mythos scenario in the Purist vein. The third page presents all of the key facets of the scenario: the Mythos "antagonist" is a Colour [Out of Space]; the investigators will travel to a remote school and investigate strange occurrences; the scenario will most likely end with the discovery of the Colour and the death or madness of the investigators. Cheerful stuff, presented in a no-nonsense fashion... this is great, more scenarios and RPG-writing should be so direct.

I like that the author is playful in his choice of title: there is a lot of death and dying in and around the surrounds of St. Margaret's - the school under which the Colour exists - and a malignant effect of the Colour's presence is that those same surrounds are bleached or dyed of colour.

The majority of play will concern the unearthing of clues concerning the happenings at the school leading to the doomed discovery of the Colour. The author spends some time presenting good reasons for the investigators - who may not know each other beforehand - to travel to the school, and very nicely ties this into the Trail of Cthulhu's Drive mechanic with plenty of examples.

Other aspects of the the Trail of Cthulhu's Gumshoe-based system are well used and presented. Core clues are highlighted as such, and each clue has numerous examples of how it might be presented depending on which skill is used.

The author also takes time to describe techniques for effective portrayal of the various NPCs, such as "Slump; Sigh as you talk; Shrug [often]" in the description of the world-weary and Colour-drained Physics teacher Bartholomew Althorp. I dig this, and would like to see this aspect continued in future texts.

The cover art, interior art, and layout are by Jerome Huguenin, who is also the artist and layout bod for the Trail of Cthulhu game itself. "The Dying..." is an attractive and professional looking PDF. The art has a bleached, monochromatic, and somewhat diseased look about it, which has a pleasing synchronicity with the effect of the Colours malign presence upon St. Margaret's and the personages of the scenario.

The PDF is quite suitable for printing, although in my opinion you'll need to take care to exclude two full page pictures from the run since those pages are quite dark. I note that the second page of the PDF is entitled "Investigators", but is otherwise blank. Is this intentionally so, or is there content missing here (sample investigators? but such sample investigators are presented towards the end of the book), or is this just a wasted page?

Daniel Harms, of Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia fame, has already written a positive review, which has garnered some prompt feedback from the author and evidently (?) some changes have been made to the text.

This is a nice one-shot scenario that will provide an entertaining evenings play. Simon of Pelgrane Press notes that this is the first release in a trilogy: a trilogy of one-shot scenarios I should think, which is all good since I can see myself running this as a con scenario in the near future. Tick good.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
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Shadows of Yog-Sothoth
Publisher: Chaosium
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/13/2008 15:40:02
A - possibly 'the' - classic campaign for the Call of Cthulhu RPG.

It is... merely okay.The campaign material ticks all the right boxes for a Cthulhu campaign - secret societies, sorcerers, ancient uncaring entities, etc. - but these are stitched together in a rather pedestrian fashion. SoYS is a campaign of its time, and feels rather old-fashioned in it's railroading and tone.

I feel it is also a tad on the too expensive for a really old PDF of average quality. One for collectors or game historians only I think.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows of Yog-Sothoth
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Dying Earth RPG Core [BUNDLE]
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/13/2008 15:31:27
A most excellent and fabulosa game of roleplaying.

This game is quite three times as clever as the author - a most loquacious fellow whose adumbrated accent nevertheless identifies him as a Scaum Valley local - would have you believe. As such it represents excellent value for money; indeed, the sum of $20 - a piffling sum in terces - might cause one of inebriated or lesser intellect to wonder if there was anything more one could ever want from a game of roleplaying. (Such persons are of course forgetting that a game of roleplaying that encompasses the briming of the Ascolais nose lute, replete with aeon-old ditties, would be a much better purchase.)

But I digress. The PDF is of a mundane, but perfectly serviceable and printable form. The game system is perfectly suited to playing campaigns in Vance's world that permit the playing of characters as varied as venal blue cabbage pickers to supremely gifted sorcerers possessed of a nose for fine bosoms.

If you are not possessed of either a fine wit or the ability to fake it - I of course am possessed of both - you may find this game taxing, tedious, and quite orange. Buy it anyway... it's mere possession will incur much status with the opposite sex upon you.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dying Earth RPG Core [BUNDLE]
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Publisher Reply:
You are truly a person of quality. Your terces are in the post.
King Arthur Pendragon: 5th Edition
Publisher: Nocturnal
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2008 18:02:37
An excellent game that elegantly captures the tone and feel of the Arthurian myths.

The 5th edition is designer Greg Stafford's masterpiece: the tone of the text is consistent throughout, and Stafford's deep grasp and love of the Arthurian cycle is evident in the many asides and flavour boxes scattered through the text. The game system also manages to model the complex notions of chivalry though a very 'indie' mechanic of Passions, which makes roleplaying in Pendragon a lot of fun because you're never sure if your character is always going to act in exactly the way you'd like him/her to.

The PDF quality is good, and is fully bookmarked. Highly recommended, especially at the current price of under $20. A bargain that will give you many hours of fun play. (Also be sure to get the Great Pendragon Campaign to go along with this text.)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
King Arthur Pendragon: 5th Edition
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Collective Endeavour Journal #1
Publisher: Omnihedron Games
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2008 17:54:33
A very polished, professional and useful compendium of articles about games from the Collective Endeavour. And while it is indeed free to download, this is one PDF I would quite happily have shelled out some cash for.

Sporting articles ranging across genres as diverse as the Napoleonic Wars (Duelling in Duty & Honour) and a Cold War escalation that Never Quite Was (two Hot War articles); and in tone from the serious (er, gonzo grunts in 3:16) to the absurd-in-a-good-way (a Toy Soldiers riff for Contenders), the Journal just oozes quality and enthusiasm. The CE stable have really set the bar quite high with this release: I'd like to see more games companies doing stuff like this. I look forward to the second issue.

(Finally, I feel I must add that the monster pics on pages 33-38 are quite chilling. You've been warned!)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Collective Endeavour Journal #1
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The Great Pendragon Campaign
Publisher: Nocturnal
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2008 17:23:57
A fantastically detailed and rich sourcebook for the Pendragon RPG: possibly the only sourcebook you'll ever need.

The campaign is served up year by year, with detailed rundowns of what happened during that year, what people were gossiping about, changes to technology, adventure hooks, and so forth. Even if you are not a player of Pendragon - gasp! - the GPC is a pretty good reference text to what happened in the Arthur myths. Full stats for the major NPCs are also downloadable from the publishers website.

Th production values are quite good too, with a consistent look and feel and - most importantly - tone throughout the text. The PDF is of excellent quality, with a full set of bookmarks.

Recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Pendragon Campaign
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Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2008 17:10:19
I bought this PDF on the recommendation of a friend after I had asked him about texts to improve my games mastering.

I have never played Cyberpunk, and so some of the advice in this book - and indeed the whole tone of it - was a bit of a miss for me. (I can't fault the text for that: I'm just mentioning my personal response to the material.) However, some portions of it are applicable to GMing in a more general sense: the chapters on evoking atmosphere and dealing with PowerGamerz at the table were quite instructive. At a mere $6 you ain't going to break the bank by giving this a shot. IMO if you ain't a Cyberpunk GM then there are better books about being a 1337 GM than this text: Robin Laws' Good Games Mastery for one.

The PDF itself is reasonable for a scanned image version. Not bookmarked.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads
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Cold City: The Dossier
Publisher: Contested Ground Studios
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2008 17:05:53
The Cold City Dossier makes no bones about what it is in the product description: "documents that can be used as inspiration for Cold City game, handed out in-game as props..."

And that's exactly what you get, some extremely evocative handouts that can really lend some polish to a game of Cold City. If you're running a con game of CC, printing out the handouts and sticking them into the character dossiers that you give each player immediately gets folks onboard as regards the tone of the game. The handouts are wholly optional though, so this purchase is a nice-to-have rather than an essential purchase.

For a paltry $7 you can't really go wrong with this if you are a Cold City fan.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cold City: The Dossier
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Cold City v1.1
Publisher: Contested Ground Studios
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2008 16:41:30
Cold City is an excellent story game that can support both one shots and campaigns.

The v.1.1 version contains all of the material from the original version, and adds in some richer rules for task resolution, and combat. If you like games that thrive on inter-party conflict then Cold City is a good buy. If you don't like that sort of thing, and you prefer a more reactive style of play, then Cold City may not be for you.

The PDF itself is good and fully bookmarked.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cold City v1.1
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Conan and the Tower of the Elephant
Publisher: Mongoose
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2008 11:54:08
The PDF: an excellent quality scan, suitable for printing.

The Module: well, it does what it says on the tin - namely, provides a scenario that adheres closely to Howards text. You get keyed maps and descriptions of the Tower and the surrounding environs, and some loosely sketched detail about the city and the consequences that may arise from playing through the module. It is a solid, rather than great, module, and at only $7 odd bucks is worth it in my opinion.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conan and the Tower of the Elephant
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Night Below: An Underdark Campaign
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2008 11:48:01
The PDF: is only... okay. It's not really suitable for printing in my opinion, and there is a fair amount of colour leaching on those pages that have colour. The text is eminently legible though.

The Module: again, is only... okay. You can't really go wrong with a super-module to rival the T1-4, A-series, and GDQ1-8 supermodules of the 80s for under $5 bucks. However. an solely in my opinion, this is a product that you dip into for a few scenes that you can transplant into an existing campaign (the aboleth city for example), or read as an exercise in campaign design. (I should add that I've never played it in any capacity.)

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Night Below: An Underdark Campaign
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The Dying Earth RPG
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2008 11:33:53
The PDF: an excellent quality scan suitable for printing, with decent high-level bookmarking.

The RPG: an excellent RPG that supports both traditional and indie-style play, with mechanics that support conflict resolution in an intensely flavoured way.

I bought this as part of a Dying Earth bundle, but the price of $10 odd bucks for the main rulebook alone is a steal. The Pelgrane Press licence for the Dying Earth has expired recently, so no new material will be forthcoming. Take the opportunity to grab a copy of a really fine RPG for next to nothing.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dying Earth RPG
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T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Rick E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2008 11:29:01
The PDF: an excellent quality scan suitable for printing, with decent high-level bookmarking. As noted by many a reviewer, the quality of the scanned covers (back and front) is particularly poor: everything else is good.

The Module: an excellent old-school AD&D module. Very much of its time but a steal at the knockdown price of $6 odd bucks which is just over £3 in real money :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil (1e)
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