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Olympian Breed - Setting Primer & Character Creation Guide
Publisher: Palewolf Publishing
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/18/2012 01:24:00

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The first release by new Savage Worlds licensee Palewolf Publishing is a the basic character generation primer for their new line of Greek Myth-themed adventures. The PCs are Demigods - spawn of mortals and Gods - and so have an extra edge on the rest of the world. Olympian Breed uses the Super Powers Companion (with a modified Edge that lowers the amount of points available to spend, reducing the power level hat your standard Super Powers Companion game is going to have). The primer also includes a Hindrance for those watched closely by the Gods, as well as a map of ancient Greece, some setting-appropriate equipment and a character sheet.

WHAT WORKS: The big hook for me is the use of the Super Powers Companion combined with the Greek myth hook...two things I love very much. That, and it's free.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, there's just not a ton of material here, mostly a few pieces of equipment, as well as the new Edge and Hindrance. It's also at least a three product buy-in to really get rolling, as you need the Savage Worlds rules, the Supers Companion and the first adventure. The primer also says you would need the Fantasy Companion, but other information I have received indicates that's not necessarily the case.

CONCLUSION: They've hooked me into checking out at least Act One to see what it's like, with the "Greek Myth plus Super Powers Companion" hook. I'm a sucker for new fiddly bits, so I would have certainly enjoyed more Edges and Hindrances and so on, especially since there is no setting book available, just a series of adventures. You can also check out the Olympian Breed pre-gen freebie file to get a feel for the kinds of characters that "fit" the setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Olympian Breed - Setting Primer & Character Creation Guide
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Altus Adventum Primer
Publisher: Sacrosanct Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/18/2012 01:19:57

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: I feel very bad about this one, because I was asked to review this quite a while back, apparently misplaced the file, and have let WAY too much time go by without touching it. Altus Adventum is isn't a retroclone, but it is an attempt at recapturing earlier experiences with fantasy RPGs. The primer is a very meaty 92 page document that covers character generation, combat, skills and even a selection of monsters. Literally everything you need for at least an adventure or two is right here, completely free. The races are fantasy standards (human, elf, dwarf, halfling, gnome) with six attributes (Strength, Agility, Endurance, Intllect, Willpower and Luck) that run a range of 1-100. Combat uses dice pools in which each side compares the highest die in their pools for success. Magic is also included in this primer, with nine different forms to choose from, all operating off of the same basic mechanic, but with tweaks for the type you use. The monsters included cover basic animals as well as orcs, red caps, carnivorous plants and plenty more.

WHAT WORKS: For a free product, this primer has a ton of usable material in it. I mean, we're talking more than some smaller commercial PDF releases. I'm not sure what's missing from the main core book, but it is 204 pages, so presumably there is quite a bit extra there above and beyond the impressive amount of material here.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: If you've gotten used to RPGs that tend towards using unified mechanics, Altus Adventum's different approach to combat versus skill checks is going to annoy you.

CONCLUSION: Look, I can't complain much about an incredibly complete free product. The primer covers all the rules you need to play, including skills, combat and magic, and even includes a decent amount of setting material, monsters and magical items. If you have any interest in checking out an another fantasy RPG, you have no reason not to at least download the primer...there is ample material here to decide if the full game is worth your purchase or not.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Altus Adventum Primer
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Ingenium
Publisher: Silver Gryphon Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 00:31:30

WHAT WORKS: I'm a sucker for a magic system with some flavor, and this one has some good flavor. The character generation is FAST, and there are a ton of option for customizing your characters by mixing and matching the Three Words, as well as the vast array of Talents (with an additional 30 Talents available in a free sourcebook).

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The bestiary just isn't very inspiring, due in part to the avoidance of common fantasy monsters combined with the lack of art. If you're going to go off the beaten path, that's fine, but pictures always help. There are only hints of a setting in the book, and the two factors mean it falls a bit shy of the promise from the great cover piece.

CONCLUSION: The lack of "spark" in the bestiary and lack of a setting aren't a deal breaker, especially given how easy it would seem to be to customize the rules, adding new Talents and Professions, maybe even races and certainly monsters. The system shows a TON of promise...hopefully it'll get the kind of support needed take it up that notch to truly capture the "epic" feel the cover evokes. Well worth checking out the PDF at a minimum.

http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/02/tommys-take-on-ingenium.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ingenium
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Kiss My Axe
Publisher: Sword's Edge Publishing
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/02/2012 00:33:52

WHAT WORKS: Kiss My Axe, while largely using the same system as Sword Noir, does a nice job of differentiating itself, especially in feel with predefined Qualities like Ethos and Seafaring. The alternate magic system is also a nice touch, as is getting a small selection of beasties to use with the game system.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The lack of a character sheet is disappointing, and I did catch the odd editing error (the sample character from the character creation chapter is missing his Physique rank, for instance.

CONCLUSION: A very cool follow-up to Sword Noir, though I'm not sure it quite reached the lofty heights of its sister game. By necessity, it is more limited than Sword Noir (though a wide range of vikings are presented...you are not shoe-horned into a burly brawler by any stretch). Even though the two games do depart in certain ways mechanically, KMA is inexpensive enough to mine for material for Sword Noir, taking the magic system as an alternative, for instance, or seeing monster write-ups in play. All in all, a fine product...I just personally prefer Sword Noir to Kiss My Axe.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/02/tommys-take-on-kiss-my-axe.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kiss My Axe
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San Francisco: The Ruins by the Bay
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/26/2012 01:24:27

WHAT WORKS: Once again, Gun Metal Games packs a lot of info into a small book, with some nice crunch (I like both Hybrid options, as well as the expanded City Trappings and the Salvaging rules). The art is lovely, probably my favorite art yet in the IZ line, and there's always something cool in their equipment sections. A couple of relevant sidebars are reprinted from earlier books, not taking up too much space and ensuring that this is usable with just the Savage Worlds rules and IZ setting book.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I like the layout, other than it seemed to be too bright and clean. I also would have preferred the Hybrid packages with the other character creation stuff. Just would have been handier. For some reason, San Francisco just didn't grip me, but I think it's more of a "I'm a middle of the country guy"...I'm kind of intrigued with what we might see when IZ covers a section closer to home for me.

CONCLUSION: A worthy product for the crunch alone, and some of the best art I've seen in the IZ line yet. I doubt I'd ever intentionally set a game in San Francisco, but I'm just not a California guy (I tend to avoid the same region in Deadlands as well). Even if you're like me, however, you'll find stuff that you can use elsewhere in your IZ games without having to try too hard. Also, pay attention to the sidebar conversations: They're not just filler. Not my favorite book in the Interface Zero line, but still a great product.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-on-san-francisco-ruins-by.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
San Francisco: The Ruins by the Bay
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Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2012 11:42:47

WHAT WORKS: Utility is the watchword here. I didn't even scratch the surface of the plot seeds available in this book, and that's not getting into the twists, genre shifts and so on that you can apply to every plot seed in the book. The genre index breaks it down by sub-genre as well, so it's not just three big lists of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, but Grim and Gritty Fantasy, Gothic Horror, Supers, Western, etc. The hyper-linking throughout the PDF makes it incredibly user friendly above and beyond the searchability and book marking.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: While digital books are gaining more and more ground, Eureka does seem priced above the sweet spot that I have unscientifically found the average PDF purchaser to have...especially for an art-lite, black and white book. However, with the "free PDF" deal, the biggest strike against this book is practically a non-issue. Sure, you will find a few plots that don't do anything for you, but there are plenty, plenty more plots for you to play with.

CONCLUSION: And in this case, art-lite is a huge boon to the book as it is CRAMMED FULL of material, and it is completely system-free, so it's not just a great addition for one of your RPGs, but for EVERY RPG. Unless you just never, ever get stuck for ideas, then this is practically a must-buy for any GM.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-on-eureka-501-adventure.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
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Average Joes
Publisher: Avalon Game Company
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/18/2012 23:53:20

WHAT WORKS: A great idea for Terror Network, putting normal schmoes up against the terrorists...and Bedrock Games should be commended again, for showing that terrorism comes in multiple forms. As usual, the adventure is well done, setting up a situation that will play out eepending on the PCs actions.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The layout isn't anything splashy (but then, the price is only $5) and playing an Average Joe alongside standard Terror Network characters isn't terribly balanced.

CONCLUSION: Another great expansion of the Terror Network series, hitting on normal folks having to stand up to terror themselves. A slew of campaign and scenario examples are there to help you out, as well as a fine full-fledged adventure. There are even a couple of option to tweak it to a more cineamtic style, for that Die Hard feel. Is it a complete blow-away, MUST HAVE product? No...but it is a swell, well-written spin on Terror Network without only minor gripes on my end.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-on-average-joes.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Average Joes
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Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/12/2012 01:04:26

WHAT WORKS: A surprising amount of ground covered in the rules for such a simple system. The statting of creatures is simple enough that converting one's favorite monsters should be very easy. It would seem to be a very effective, rules-lite starter RPG, with a nice adventure that covers a lot of ground.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The Kai Lords are perhaps too limiting, being the only character option and being so "Lawful Good". The system may be entirely too simple, especially for experienced role-players. Kai Lords only having 10 ranks and starting at rank 5 doesn't bode well for long term play.

CONCLUSION: I believe Lone Wolf could make an effective starter RPG, as it does cover most of the basics and allows you to build from there. One of the cool parts about such a lite system is flexibility, which seems to ring true in this case as well. While I doubt I could get a lot of play out of the game, it seems to be a very solid game for breaking a new player in.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-on-lone-wolf-multiplayer.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook
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Wu Xing: The Land of Seed and Blossom
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2012 00:38:07

WHAT WORKS: Crazy cool new powers, which is kind of the Wu Xing specialty, and a group of unique clans, who have a whole game mechanic that somewhat sets them apart from the Lotus ninjas (the Birthstones). The writing has great flow, as the Province descriptions move seamlessly from one clan to the next. The book is full of plot seeds that can be picked up on and developed. I nearly complained about how the new clans were kind of useless with the old clans, due to hostilities, but that was resolved nicely with the adventure.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I'm a sucker for a good bestiary, and Wu Xing doesn't have one. Oni are still vaguely defined, and one art piece has ninja fighting off carnivorous plants, which are kind of outside the purview of the setting thus far. Shouldn't be too hard to swipe monsters from Part-Time Gods or API, but what if folks don't HAVE those games?

CONCLUSION: I still love Wu Xing for all its crazy, over the top stuff like turning into bug swarms and transforming your bones into weapons. A very worthy collection of material for Wu Xing and a very promising start to the regional sourcebook series. In fact, I would say the adventure is the most useful adventure included in a Third Eye Games book because of how simply and effectively it ties the Lands of Seed and Blossom to the Lotus Coalition. Strong recommendation for Wu Xing fans.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-on-wu-xing-land-of-seed-and.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wu Xing: The Land of Seed and Blossom
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Devilish Duos: Smoke and Mirrors ICONS Edition
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2012 23:21:21

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The first in a new set of ICONS products (Mutants & Masterminds version also available) by Vigilance Press, Smoke & Mirrors features a pair of supernatural villains for your ICONS game. Written by Jack Norris and featuring art by Jack Dawsey, and only 99 cents in PDF format, Smoke & Mirrors is only ten pages, (closer to six when you remove covers and OGL information), but that's still more than enough to detail a pair of characters. Smoke and Mirrors are lesbian lovers and vicious murderers, and each have unique twists: Smoke is a ghost who can touch things in the real world, while Mirrors is perpetually invisible, and can only be seen in mirrors. Smoke is a spirit of vengeance who has a hard time keeping her rage focused entirely on those who deserve it, while Mirrors is a psychotic killer who murders on behalf of The Unseen Gods.

WHAT WORKS: Each villain has some unique twists, and have backstories open enough that they could be used in a variety of settings. A few general plot seeds are included, in case you just really have no idea how to use them. Also, the PDF includes printable stand-ups of Smoke and Mirrors, if that's your preference.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: One plot seed includes a sidebar for using the Oktobermen from Due Vigilance #1, a Mutants & Masterminds only supplement that, last time I checked, isn't planned for an ICONS release. Smoke's powers indicate that she can become "hard to see", but I'm not sure how that's reflected mechanically, unless it's meant to be part of the Blinding stunt off of her Mental Attack power.

COncLUSION: Strong art by James Dawsey combined with interesting writing by Jack Norris and an "impulse purchase" price point make this a winner, unless you only like to use ICONS for "animated series" type games, then these two are going to be a tad too dark for that sort of thing. Impressive product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Devilish Duos: Smoke and Mirrors ICONS Edition
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WatchGuard ICONS- Teen Force Five
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2012 23:19:21

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Teen Force 5 is a PDF release by Vigilance Press and Xion Studios for the WatchGuard universe, featuring five heroes (Teen Force 5) and five villains (Dark Faction). Each character is given an extensive bio (Marvel Handbook style, almost to a "T"), stat block, character portrait and printable standee. The PDF is 26 pages (including cover, OGL information, standees and so on), and costs $10.99, which admittedly, makes it stand out like a sore thumb among the rest of the Vigilance catalogue. Teen Force 5 is Bluechip (who reminds me a bit of Triatholon from Avengers, except his enhanced Traits are boosted and not always "on"), Jupiter (the female "brick" of the team"), Soundwave (a DJ with sonic/auditory powers), Tempest (a moody weather controller) and Vignette (a Goth mind controller). Dark Faction consists of Braindamage (a Telekinetic with ADHD), Bulldog (the team's brick), HardKnox (son of a luchador, with Osmium Steel Knuckles bearing "Hard" and "Knox" on them), Vespa (scientist turned thief in powered armor) and Zero (who can "halt molecular motion", making him REALLY hard to hit if he's aware of the attack).

WHAT WORKS: Zero is one of the better power concepts I've seen in a while. HardKnox having his name printed backwards on his Knuckles threw me at first, until I realized this way they would leave a "Hard Knox" impression on anything he hit. Standees are always great. The artist on Jupiter does a nice job of drawing her as an attractive woman with muscles, and not just a regular comic book female who happens to be super strong.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The only background information for the setting is buried in the backstories of the characters, leaving references to things like Summit City and the MHx-trait chromosome pretty meaningless for someone picking this book up (and it is the only Watchguard release for ICONS thus far). Bluechip's bio is (mostly) written in past tense, for no reason that is ever explained. Superhero mind controllers are always really awkward to pull off. The price point versus the content just does not hold up well to other Vigilance releases.

CONCLUSION: At a lower price point, I would have a higher opinion of this product. None of the characters really stand out as anything I haven't seen before, but they also aren't noticeable rip-offs or homages of existing characters, either. Not usable as a starting point for the WatchGuard universe, but certainly mineable for your own games (I'd especially swipe Zero...fun challenge right there).



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
WatchGuard ICONS- Teen Force Five
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Wargames: The Globalist (ICONS)
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2012 23:16:08

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Ah, the Wargames series. GI Joe meets superheroes. The Globalist is a Cobra Commander looking chap who is head of an organization called UNITY, which basically seeks to become a big enough of a terrorist threat that the rest of the world joins forces against it, breaking down the barriers between nations and forging a one world government. Kinda like what Ozymandius wanted to do in Watchmen, except The Globalist is putting himself in the line of fire. The PDF is only $1 and includes The Globalist's backstory (with a fantastic twist), his stat block and stats for his Peacekeepers.

WHAT WORKS: The Globalist has a CRAZY secret in his backstory that is almost impossible to just guess, and makes him and his Peacekeepers MUCH more dangerous than you would think. He's also a villain of a radically different philosophy than General Venom, providing a "balanced outlook" to the crazies of the Wargames universe.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Oh, the backstory twist may be TOO much for some people. Not in an offensive way, just an oddball way. I, personally, think it's great. Yes, I'm reaching for "complaints" here.

CONCLUSION: I love the Wargames series by Vigilance Press, and this entry continues to impress me with a unique villain who pays homage (in appearance) to another classic Cobra Commander look (mirror face instead of hood), but with a unique backstory and approach all his own.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wargames: The Globalist (ICONS)
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Necessary Evil Explorer's Edition
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/26/2011 16:48:04

WHAT WORKS: As noted, I largely prefer the Super Powers system to the Power Point System. The campaign is one of my favorite pre-written campaigns, even if it is very "directed" (by Dr. Destruction, of course), because basically everything has to be done by the PCs. The campaign has a couple of nice twists, one being the origin of the V'Sori and the other being Dr. Destruction's true plan. I am truly disappointed we never reached that point, because my players were WAY off base.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: My only real gripe is that while I prefer the powers system in this book, it just never felt as flexible to me or my players as the Powers system in other supers games. If you have the Super Powers Companion, I did provide a solution to this on my blog. Some of the powers, namely Decay, come across WAY too weak to actually be worth buying, in our experience.

CONCLUSION: One of my favorite Savage Worlds releases, due in no small part because of the sheer amount of fun we had with the campaign. The PCs experienced rousing success, crushing defeat and even heartache, a range of experiences that I have been told are impossible with both Savage Worlds and supers RPGs...and yet, here we are. If you already own the Super Powers Companion, and you don't want to make your own campaign, I am very fond of the provided campaign. If villains vs aliens doesn't sound very good, then you might just consider getting the Super Powers Companion instead.

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Necessary Evil Explorer's Edition
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LFNE Book 2: Among the Missing
Publisher: FunSizedGames
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2011 00:18:40

WHAT WORKS: The art in the books is eerily effective, with one piece (page 91 of the PDF) genuinely creeping me out as I was scrolling through the PDF. Seriously...not cool. The book has lots of information designed to inspire, and the writing conveys the research in such a manner as to not be tedious or boring. I do also love adventures that put actual choice in PC hands, and this one does a nice job of that, especially at the end.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, if you want a lot of crunch, it's not here. There are some slight tweaks to the character generation that you can use, but this isn't a "splat book". Similarly, the subject matter may begin to push Little Fears a bit more into "Squick" territory than a lot of you may like, addressing the idea of humans being as detrimental to kids as Monsters.

CONCLUSION: 128 pages flew by, thanks to the concise writing and conversational tone. The author has a knack for speaking to you when writing without it ever feeling tacky or annoying (which can be a hard feat to master). Little Fears will work perfectly fine without this book, but it does do a nice job of adding more pieces to the puzzle...pieces that are wholly optional and rarely completely spelled out for you, instead providing a long road for your group to walk down on and leaving it up to you all to determine what's at the end.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/12/tommys-take-on-lfne-book-2-among.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
LFNE Book 2: Among the Missing
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Little Fears Nightmare Edition
Publisher: FunSizedGames
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/21/2011 01:15:34

WHAT WORKS: The mechanics of this edition are MUCH tighter than the original in just about every way. Belief is a nice mechanic, with it's risk-reward system. A robust monster-creation guide is fantastic, especially when you don't have a full bestiary out there, and most of the flavor text is creepy without being overly drawn out. Oh, and the advice on using the Questionnaire against your PCs.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, I could always use random charts. I also thought the Closetland baddies in the original had a ton of personality, and most of them were ditched for this version.

CONCLUSION: One of the most justified second editions I have ever seen. Tighter focus than the original, tighter writing, tighter mechanics, you name it. Lots and lots of examples, plus a steady supply of support? I'm not sure how you beat that. If you like the idea of kids versus monsters, this is one of the best options out there, hands down. If you liked the original, and I did, I don't know why you wouldn't jump at this one. If you scoffed at the original because of its "True Horror" content...rest assured, The Defiler is nowhere to be found, so you can feel free to give Nightmare Edition a go.

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Little Fears Nightmare Edition
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