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High Strung
Publisher: Better Mousetrap Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/27/2015 06:55:01

SIX POINT SUMMARY

  • Just tons of random tables, from interesting background facts to random real life events to random band name generators. Obviously, I find this to be hugely appealing.

  • Sure seems like this could be hacked for indy pro wrestlers with just a little work.

  • It feel very close to Tools of Ignorance, but with some cool and clear tweaks to make the struggling rock band vibe ring true.

  • Something about "Jobs" never quite "clicked" with me. Ostensibly, a crappy, no future job was depressing and ground you down, but were less demanding on your time, but I didn't see that mechanical balance on the demands of the job. I don't know if I just missed it or what.

  • It probably needed some kind of mechanic for one of the band members to become a "breakout star" and become "too big" for the band.

  • A little bit of rock attitude, but no exploitative art, which makes this nice pick for a broad audience looking for something more than standard RPG fare.

I liked the idea of Tools of Ignorance, even though I don't like baseball. I love this, because it's a great idea and more in my wheelhouse. I really just can't shake the notion that this would be relatively easy to adapt to indy pro wrestling.

If you are always grumbling that there's nothing fresh out there, then spend the $5 to pick this up.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/03/tommys-take-on-high-strung.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
High Strung
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AMP: Year One
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2015 07:15:20

SIX POINTS:

  • Divorced from the setting, I would grumble at the limitations of the power system...and for a generic superhero game, I would not recommend it. For a very particular type of game (a Heroes or X-Men-style game), it fits the tone very well.

  • The official character sheet is very cool in that it has boxes to fill in when making your character (like four boxes for a Marksmanship of four), which gives you a completed sheet that reminds me of the Power Grids Marvel has used over the years on the website, trading cards and Handbooks.

  • The metaplot mildly concerns me. Obviously, you are not bound to anything in the book, but the more you deviate, the less useful later books are (or, depending on your players, the more they resist you game because of what the next book brings). Previous Third Eye Games entries such as Wu Xing and Apocalypse Prevention Inc. have had a lot of setting material, not so much metaplot. With the right touch, metaplot can enhance a game. With the wrong touch, it can bring back nightmarish memories of NPCs with Plot Armor and stories that are bigger than your PCs.

  • A very healthy and diverse selection of premade characters, complete with art, can be used as quick PCs, as NPCs or just as inspiration for what can be done with the powers system. There's even a "magician" named Citizen Arcane.

  • The Juice mechanic is basically a Power Points system but it reads very well, with the ebb and flow of power being influenced by more factors than just "I spend power points. Dang, I'm out of power points". It is recommended that you use some kind of physical markers (poker chips, glass beads, whatever) to keep track of the flow.

  • The setting reminds me a bit of White Wolf's Aberrant or Green Ronin's Paragons, which sure seemed heavily inspired by X-Men and Heroes respectively, but with a certain vibe (and system) that suits my personal tastes much more. As much as I love Wu Xing, it has never actually hit my game table. We're through character generation with this one, and it will now certainly see play, which I am very much looking forward to.

Right now, at least, I have nothing else to add. If this sounds remotely appealing to you and you don't own it (and you are reading this before March 24), just enter the giveaway and try to win a free copy and see for yourself. You literally have nothing to lose.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/03/tommys-take-on-amp-year-one.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AMP: Year One
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Japan: Empire of the Setting Sun
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/06/2015 07:06:43

SIX POINT SUMMARY:

  • Some of the stuff, like geisha sexbots and the bioforms just seem really creepy, but not out of place.

  • While I get the need to keep word count down, the lack of any game mechanics married to the Savage Tales makes them less user friendly than I, as a Savage Worlds GM, would like. Two of them essentially removing player control of their characters, especially with one of them being for the bulk of the adventure, gives me pause. That can be kind of a huge turnoff for a lot of players.

  • Virtually no wasted space. Double columns of text on the pages, densely packed. Don't let the page count fool you...there's a lot of info here, including great setting elements like the virtual afterlife.

  • The amusing and insightful "commentary" for in character message board/social media-like chatter continues, and I almost always love these asides. They add extra context and flavor for the text and they continue to be just the right length and frequency to get the point across without overstaying their welcome.

  • I want to run a mission that takes the party into the heart of the Fukushima power plant.

  • Some great mechanical tidbits, with multiple Edges and the Second Skin armor really standing out. Ancestral Zeek, Ghost in the Machine, Mask Master and Merciful are all big standouts to me.

I would say this is worth picking up if you're an Interface Zero fan, even if you aren't running a game in Japan (individuals and organizations can travel, after all, and some of the setting elements are entirely too cool to not use). It's certainly not essential, and it's not without its flaws, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/03/tommys-take-interface-zero-20-japan.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Japan: Empire of the Setting Sun
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Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion (2nd Ed)
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/17/2015 07:39:02

SIX POINT SUMMARY:

  • I would love to hear the rationale that led to the Decay power costing MORE in this edition, when we found it to be completely worthless in Necessary Evil.

  • Power Stunts are a MUCH needed shot in the arm to this system. I devised a house rule for this a while back, but it never should have needed it. A rigid supers system just cannot accommodate anything more than a specific setting built around that conceit.

  • Going from "maps of supervillain lairs and the Lair power" to "full blown HQ section built by the team" is a massive improvement.

  • Power Tricks, Synergy, Combined Attacks and The Defeat Chart are all great flourishes that improve the supers experience in Savage Worlds.

  • While non of the supervillains included in the book screamed "USE ME!" to me, being able to see how multiple character types are modeled is hugely beneficial in a system like this.

  • Power Levels are another great addition, one that acknowledges that MOST (not all) supers stories don't have steep power creep.

I was not a fan of the original Super Powers Companion. When the subject came up, I resoundingly pushed everyone to Necessary Evil instead. When they announced the second edition of this book, I was underwhelmed.

I was wrong. I wish I'd had this book when I ran Necessary Evil, because my thought process on Savage Worlds as a supers system might be radically different. I will never choose Savage Worlds as my default supers system, but with this book I would no longer dismiss the idea out of hand if my players wanted to do it.

I still want to know who thought Decay was too cheap of a power, or just what I'm missing, because that one boggles my mind.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/02/tommys-take-on-savage-worlds-super.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion (2nd Ed)
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ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2015 06:59:30

SIX POINT SUMMARY

  • ICONS has a crazy amount of quality, third party support, particularly from Fainting Goat Games and Vigilance Press, so even if Ad Infinitum's already impressive slate of adventures doesn't tide you over, there is more out there.

  • As I said in my original review: ICONS character creation is just FUN. Maybe the only game that had character creation as fun is, not surprisingly, the FASERIP Marvel game.

  • I was annoyed that this came so close to Great Power (which I backed on Kickstarter), and it wasn't 100% compatible.

  • Dan Houser provided every piece of art in the book, continuing to define the distinctive visual appearance of ICONS.

  • The Universe rules, which incorporate the Villain Creation Rules, are just one of the coolest things I have ever seen in a game, period.

-I'm not usually a big fan of ".5" style updates, but this thing went almost point by point down my complaints list and addressed them. Hard for me to argue with that.

At the end of the day, though, I need to run this game again. I ran it once, did not care for it, but that was the old rulebook, it was my first time running the game, and I was running it for my then-very young son. My overall gut impression of the game is more positive right now, but I do want to see for myself if it's a game I could love, and the good faith effort in addressing the previous criticisms of the game (including my own) compels me to give it that shot.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/02/tommys-take-on-icons-assembled-edition.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition
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Hell on Earth Reloaded: Companion
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2015 06:50:29

SIX POINT SUMMARY:

1) The book is full of things you might want, but don't NEED, making it fill the role of a companion pretty well.

2) If you have struggled with how to handle witches in Deadlands Reloaded (a topic that Deadlands Classic covered but Reloaded has glossed over), witches here can cover that need.

3) Rules for vehicle customization should appease any gearheads in your group, as well as the vehicular combat rules.

4) The random adventure generator is pretty neat, and I'm pretty sure it's unique to this book, not a reskinned generator from another, which has tended to happen a lot.

5) Harrowed have always been kind of a "favored son" in Deadlands, and giving everyone the ability to Count Coup kinda diminished that a bit...but all the extra perks from being a cyborg make that come roaring back (though it is counterbalanced by cyborgs having a extra Directives to follow).

6) There's a lot of recycled art, but that doesn't bother me given how old the original Hell on Earth books are, so the art isn't technically within the same game line, and the using the art to evoke the original line is a nice touch at points.

I would say this is well worth getting for a Hell on Earth Reloaded fan, and might be worth getting in general for ripping stuff out (like Witches or the vehicle bits), if you have the cash to spare and the need to fulfill...but it answers the call of its primary purpose - a companion to Hell on Earth Reloaded - admirably.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/01/tommys-take-on-deadlands-hell-on-earth.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hell on Earth Reloaded: Companion
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Cold Steel Wardens: Roleplaying in the Iron Age of Comics
Publisher: Blackfall Press, LLC
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2015 06:59:00

Six Points: 1) I love that the author didn't think "gritty" meant "you can't push your limits", instead applying a potentially brutal cost to it.

2) Very little wasted space in the book, making me feel like I got my money's worth and providing evocative art.

3) Random adventure generators are always a win. The Investigation templates in the GM section are also a great addition.

4) The organization is probably the weakest aspect of the book. The index helps, but I still did a lot of flipping around. Really, the core mechanics should have been segregated better.

5) Specialties are kind of a big deal, opening up character functionality above and beyond what Powers can do.

6) The powers section was a bit disappointing, even given the intended scope of the game...something as incredibly common as retractable claws should have been easier to find, in my opinion.

If you are tired of trying to push heroic superhero systems into street level action, this is going to pretty well do it...just be aware that you might break something trying to scale it back up.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/01/tommys-take-on-cold-steel-wardens.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cold Steel Wardens: Roleplaying in the Iron Age of Comics
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Sertorius
Publisher: Bedrock Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/02/2015 07:02:47

WHAT WORKS: Bedrock Games had a very distinct feel they were aiming for with this game and made sure to achieve it. It would be easy to dismiss it as "another fantasy heartbreaker", but Sertorius definitely has its own distinctive vibe, with some great touches like the Grims and how magic items are handled. Of course, I love any game that gives me oodles of random tables as well. There's even a subgame for managing your followers, which could lead to developments like a deranged cult acting in your name, How many fantasy RPGs lead to you having to sort out two warring factions operating in your name?

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: It perhaps borders on too many subsystems and minigames, from corruption to politics to managing your followers...and if game balance is an issue for your group, then someone is definitely going to be annoyed when they find out their Mundane Warrior is probably getting smoked by any kind of Sertori. While I understand the decision, I always prefer more art for a bestiary, though this one did still cover a lot of ground,

CONCLUSION: As dice pool systems go, The Network System generally keeps it manageable and simple, which is always appreciated. A lot of thought went into the design of this book to allow Sertorius to stand apart from other fantasy games, and Bedrock Games is continuing to push the game pretty hard on their blog. You may not be in the market for another fantasy game, but you could certainly do worse than pick up one that has its own distinctive voice of divinely touched demigods shaping the world, rather than just another dungeon raiding D&D clone. You can also check out the free adventure, Beneath the Banshee Tree, to get a better feel for the setting.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/01/tommys-take-on-sertorius.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sertorius
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13th Age Core Book
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/04/2014 02:53:49

WHAT WORKS: No cumbersome skill system, no Prestige Classes, no pre-planning your character from level 1. Monsters stat blocks are short, sweet, flavorful and easy to customize. The magic item system is one of my favorites I've ever read, and many of the Icons are very, very interesting. The broad strokes setting is very handy, providing ample detail to help you along, but giving you room to customize as desired. The rules are deliberately designed for free-wheeling, on the fly gameplay, with even combat modifiers left to the GM's discretion.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The art is generally very good, but the bestiary is largely full of symbols and silhouettes, which detract from the flavor.

CONCLUSION: I stopped running Dungeons & Dragons a long, long time ago, and some D&D fans would tell you I ran it wrong all along. I didn't want to run games about killing monsters and taking their stuff, I wanted to run games about fantasy heroes with great destinies who did amazing things and thwarted evil. I tried to emulate the D&D of fiction in my games and found it fell short (in AD&D2e) or found it to be too cumbersome (in 3/.5). 13th Age, from reading, sure seems like it's scratching the itch I wanted out of D&D but never found, and I feel strongly enough about it that I signed up for the Organized Play program (which has some fantastic adventure support). It definitely feels like the designers wrote the game I was trying to run 20 years ago, and I dearly look forward to bringing it to my table (virtual or otherwise) and seeing if it truly scratches that heroic fantasy itch.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/07/tommys-take-on-13th-age.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
13th Age Core Book
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Camp Myth: The RPG
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/02/2014 01:01:53

WHAT WORKS: The whole concept is awesome, but I particularly love the merit badges. The adventures are very inspirational for guiding you in just what a Camp Myth game IS. Honestly, as "kid" RPGs go, this is one of the few that actually appeals to me to actually RUN. The selection of Mythic Races is great as well, and the bestiary is HUGE and simple to understand and expand upon.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I was maybe going to say "needs more Merit Badges" (maybe), but there's already a mini supplement out that adds new Mythic Races and Merit Badges.

CONCLUSION: I never see Camp Myth bandied about in discussions for kid-friendly RPGs, and I'm not sure why, as I'm fairly convinced it's one of the better kept secrets in RPGs, despite a successful Kickstarter (of course, I didn't even know the books existed before the RPG was announced). The concept is bursting with fun, and Third Eye Games knows how to deliver on good, playable games, making for a very nice combo. If you're looking for a game to break your kids (or students or youth group or maybe even the kids going to your camp) into gaming, take a chance on Camp Myth

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/07/tommys-take-on-camp-myth.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Camp Myth: The RPG
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Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure
Publisher: Creative Mountain Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/24/2014 18:29:56

WHAT WORKS: The Fire Mage turns out to be an interesting adversary with some great plot hooks for an ongoing campaign. The epic poem is a nice touch. A number of the other encounters are standouts, such as the Ettin, the Fire Giants, and crossing the bridge in the dwarven mines. Many of the art pieces are very evocative.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A few things might be tough to model if your favorite system doesn't have an existing analogue. I get what they were going for with Gamington, but it might be a tad too cheesy for an ongoing campaign, but your mileage may well vary in that regard.

CONCLUSION: A touching tribute for a trying situation, and a pretty good dungeon crawl to boot. The Gamington premise is cute, but an ill-fit for more serious campaigns, but that may also serve as an acceptable break for the rest of the campaign world. Of course, you can run it as a one shot, and those concerns are invalid, but there are a lot of cool little threads that can be picked up from this adventure and used in a larger campaign. Worth buying for the cause, worth playing for the adventure.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-on-fighting-fire-ernie.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure
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EPOCH: War Stories
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/20/2014 12:05:51

WHAT WORKS: Five scenarios that shake up EPOCH even further from the standard, and even manages to avoid retreading the same ground, with Mass Destruction especially breaking from the military motif while still invoking war. While most of the conflicts selected were not surprising, placing a scenario in the Congo was a nice touch. The flexibility written into Home Front is also nice.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: World War II obviously couldn't be ignored, but a Vietnam or Korea scenario would have been welcome over a second WWII scenario (though the two are sufficiently different, at least). The editing, once more, could have used some help.

CONCLUSION: I like Frontier of Fear more, as I'm not big on the military in my games, but I would be willing to run the last two scenarios without twisting my arm. Some fine work in showing the versatility of the game, and hopefully Imaginary Empire has more tricks up their sleeve with this game.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-on-epoch-war-stories.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
EPOCH: War Stories
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EPOCH: Frontier of Fear
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/17/2014 06:45:59

WHAT WORKS: There are some scary scenes, for sure...and the book does a great job of demonstrating the scope of the game beyond that of the core. Two or more of these could easily be linked together, sometimes with the same characters and sometimes just thematically, as the sci-fi elements gradually build from one scenario to the next. The forethought in some of the scenarios (like customizing Space Station Icarus) really seems like it would boost the buy-in.

WHAT WORKS: The editing could have been tighter in some places, unless I REALLY need to brush up on my British English vs American English spellings (which I may, but Artefact and Vengence don't look correct to me, and one scenario lists the year twice...ten years apart).

CONCLUSION: I really like Quintessence and Hard Time, but any of the scenarios are worthy of playing through. I'm still intending to get this game to my table soon, especially since we played Fiasco, which has a similar (but certainly not identical) set-up and feel and that went over great. May even use Quintessence or Hard Time when I do. Excellent job establishing that there are scary things in space.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-on-epoch-frontier-of-fear.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
EPOCH: Frontier of Fear
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30 Things Can Happen
Publisher: Creative Mountain Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2014 06:54:37

WHAT WORKS: It's a book of random tables...and it gives me an excuse to use my d30. Hard to top that. Especially since the tables are set up to use d10s or d20s as well, maximizing utility.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: $6 might sound like a tad much for 30 pages of random tables. Obviously, if you don't like random results, look elsewhere.

CONCLUSION: Creative Mountain Games knew this was going to get high marks from me, because I mention random tables all the time. Strong recommendation if you're into that sort of thing. Stay away if you don't.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-on-30-things-can-happen.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
30 Things Can Happen
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Hael Core Rules
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/12/2014 21:46:36

WHAT WORKS: A few very original twists on the standard fantasy world. "The Bad Guys Won" has been done before, but rarely with the twist of "and then they became kinda good". I really liked the art, as it had an evocative style, kinda comic-booky, but not in a "kids" way.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The overpowering of the Edges and the construction of the races will limit the utility of this for anyone who might want to pluck from this for another Savage Worlds game. Some of the Call-En powers sure seem like they could be overpowered in comparison to the other Arcane Backgrounds. The editing and proofreading could have been a lot tighter as well, given outright contradictions at points in the book.

CONCLUSION: I like the setting quite a bit, as there's a lot of potential there. However, I think the book could seriously do with a revision bringing it more in line with the Savage Worlds rules in regards to Race creation and the strength of the Edges. I'm not a super big stickler for "game balance", but you are asking for trouble when you obviously set up one option as being mechanically superior to others, and folding the required Edges and Hindrances into racial packages would then allow more flexibility at character creation (and keep one from being an obviously better deal than the others). The Call-En feel a LOT like AD&D2e Psionics to me, which I was actually a huge fan of, and the addition of the aliens and the tech reminds me of Tale of the Comet, which I was also a huge fan of. As I said above, the setting has some great potential, with the powderkeg between the Daeorcs and Yaena, the hostility of the "uncivilized races" and the conflict between The Strangers and Nuclarine...I do suspect that bits like the overpowered Edges won't be a huge issue as they are contained to the setting, but I would still love to see it line up better with Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-on-hael-core-rules.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hael Core Rules
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