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Lands of Porphyra Map
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00

A simply marvelous looking map. Well drawn and coloured, I am looking forward to seeing this world in action! Considering that you also "pay what you want" it is also most certainly a bargain. Porphyra looks absolutely enormous, with plenty of room for those who wish to explore. It is certainly going to be exciting times ahead and I am looking forward to the campaign!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lands of Porphyra Map
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Odyssey: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2013 13:45:23

After spotting that Odyssey: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management had been released for pre-order, I decided now was a good time to have a nosy through this book, and see everything that I do wrong when managing my campaigns.

I won't lie, my initial thoughts of this book forced me to have flashbacks of management lectures at university. Well, at least the ones I remember considering I slept through most of them. I was worried this was going to be a dry tome that would not educate me because obviously I knew EVERYTHING about being a GM. Most GMs have a flavour and style of GMing, and the idea of reading a book to improve on that seems like an alien concept. We all learned through the hundreds of failed campaigns we tried to run, the dozens that fell at the first hurdle, and then finally reaching the few that are still talked about as the "Best campaign EVER!". Then there are the GMs who prefer to improvise a lot more than spend hours pouring over his notes and preparing for sessions.

Allow me to dismiss all of these fears and questions. This book isn't boring or dry, but lays out the facts that everybody has to usually learn the hard way. There are plenty of stories and examples for each stage, that helps break up the information dump that comes from such a book. The writing styles are clean and easy to read, without huge piles of abbreviations or in-jokes, which means even the newest of aspiring GMs can dig into this book and understand what it is trying to tell you.

The information in the book may feel like "well, isn't this obvious?" if you have been GMing for a while, but there certainly are plenty of light bulb moments where I have gone "Why did I not think of that?!". The book is also clear about what it is, and what it is not. This book is about the bigger picture than just session by session preparation. It is about getting that initial campaign off the ground, and how to absolutely nail the first session to keep your players coming back for more. I can see a more experienced GM might view this more as a reference material rather than a hefty document (although there is less than 200 pages of actual information) as there is an absolutely superb index. This sort of book needs an excellent index to allow those who just want to find the advice they want without pouring through all the sections. The book is also bookmarked and hyperlinked throughout to help you find what you are looking for easily.

There are three main sections of the book. There is a bit of a blurb at the beginning from each of the writers, as well as their thoughts on why managing a campaign is kinda a big deal. After that we move onto starting a campaign, managing the campaign, and finally ending a campaign. In each of these sections is step-by-step advice on how they think each section could be managed, and what the best case scenario is and the worst case scenario is for the outcome of each section. This is combined with stories from the author's past describing similar issues they discuss in the sections.

I have only had the chance to read through this book once, but already I feel like I have picked up some valuable information for when I run my next game. Some GMs might find the approach a bit formal but it is correct that sometimes, especially when emotions can be on the line, that is the best way to treat this. I am also thrilled to see the book emphasise that GMs need to be enjoying the game as well, not just the players. After all, everybody is meant to be having fun!

I would heartily recommend grabbing yourself a copy of this book and gets a full thumbs up from me. The advice available is useful and well thought out, and will improve your GM skills.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Odyssey: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management
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So What's The Zombie Like, Anyway?
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/16/2013 07:55:43

Sometimes zombies are boring... ok most of the time zombies are boring. Usually there is no love given to them. So wouldn't it be nice to give them a refreshing makeover to seemingly bring them to life in your campaign? Well, as much as zombies can be brought to life...

Enter Raging Swan Press with the supplement "So What's The Zombie Like Anyway?" which is a fifteen page supplement with 7 pages of zombie building content. This neat little book serves the purpose of helping you give your zombies something a little bit different as to take it all a bit more interesting. All the tables use percentile dice (D100) to help you choose what you want to happen here.

The book has a selection of tables to add interesting, and in some cases disturbing, characteristics to your little zombie chums. The first table is called "what's the zombie look like?" and have a rather excellent selection of description you can give your zombie. from "Faceless; the zombie's face is blank, smooth skin through either magic or birth defect" (number 32 for those who are interested) or to much more simple things like "Covered in flour, the zombie wears a miller's overalls and has calloused hands." (Number 15).

The next table is called "What's the zombie carrying?" after all - your zombies all don't have to be boring shuffling empty-handed monstrosities! They could have a "Riding crop made of worn black leather" (number 66, the question is where is the horse then...?) or an "iron key, unadorned and with no obvious matching log. The key is covered in dried blood" (number 43 for those still following along). Of course, if you are doing a horde of zombies you will use this table sparingly. What I really enjoyed what how many of these can be a plot hook in some cases, or can be used to add a personality to the zombie. Why does this zombie seem to be carrying a deck of well-used playing cards? Maybe he works at the local tavern dealing cards? Maybe there was a poker game going on and the betting money is still there! You have options with these little things to just be nice personal touches, or something the players can explore further.

The next part is where it gets a little be frightening though. This section is for when you don't want just silly looking zombies but some that make your players suddenly panic as their standard zombie killing techniques stop working! Why not throw in some Fast zombies? Or increase the difficulty by having a frozen, Screaming zombie running towards them? Oh, and the screaming? Now that caught the attention of the Zombie Limb Swarm. Oh dear... Make your players have to think on their feet with suddenly zombies of a rather different nature than the standard lumbering beasts. The templates are all rather interesting and while they can increase the difficulty somewhat, none of them make them completely out of the realms of a young adventuring party.

The final table presents us with Hooks. Sadly there is only twenty ideas to help get your ideas brewing and help come up with some interesting extras you can include with your zombie horde. All the ideas are really quite intriguing and full of awesome ways to go with your plot.

Overall I am really rather impressed with this little book. There is plenty for you to spice up your zombie encounters without having to put in a huge pile of work from your side. With simple tables you can of course just roll to see what you randomly get or scan the tables and templates for something you really want to use.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's The Zombie Like, Anyway?
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Creator Reply:
Thanks so much for this review. I'm delighted you enjoyed this book so much and I appreciate the time you spent doing this!
The Laundry RPG
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2013 17:50:27

What this game brings to the table: A unique contemporary setting that is more than just a British version of Delta Green, An interesting take on Technology based magic, and a dry humour that will tickle any fan of classic British comedy. The BRP system is still a little too Clunky for me, and I feel as if the game only used this so it could get some creditability as a Cthulhu Game.

Also Upon first reading I got a distinct feeling that if you haven't read the novels its based on then you won't really understand exactly how the setting should work, So I would recommend reading one of those if your having trouble getting your head around the mix of dark humour, Lovecraftian horror and IT jokes. That being said those are the only two bad things I have to say about the game.

The artwork is good enough and is where its needed (no full page splats of tentacles, just neat little boxes), and the general lay out of the rules and tables makes sense. Also with a VERY informative (In fact Id say required) pre-written adventure in the back of the book gives players (And the GM) a step by step how-to guide on how the unique cosmology of the game functions. I Give it 4/5



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Laundry RPG
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Technoir
Publisher: Dream Machine Productions
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2012 09:01:17

Overview One of the early RPG successes from Kickstarter Technoir is a cyberpunk styled game heavily flavoured by hard boiled detective fiction and film noir. The game is presented in a compact and beautifully laid out form, small enough that its easy to just slip the book into a bag just in case you get a chance to play it. If you're looking for long sessions of planning, stealthy infiltration and stats for an endless list of cybernetics then I suggest sticking to Shadowrun. Technoir is about bold and reckless action, its about causing trouble because you can and flinging accusations just to see what sticks.

Rules Technoir uses a lightweight rules system built around the use of Adjectives, which describe the result of actions, properties of objects and relationships between characters and their connections. Want to shoot somebody? Then you might apply the adjectives of Suppressed, Bleeding or even Scared; it all depends on how you want to affect the target and how long you want the Adjective to last. In a similar fashion Adjectives may be applied to represent emotional or situational (Distracted, bored, lustful etc) effects, describe the properties of items (Sharp, Rapid-fire, Expensive etc), and define the relationships between characters and their connections (Respectful, Loyal, Indebted etc). Actions are attempted by generating a pool of d6's, formed from characters attributes (Action dice), positive adjectives they can draw on (Push dice) and negative adjectives affecting the character (Harm dice, of which a character has a limited number). These are rolled together, with Harm dice cancelling out any positive dice of equal value, and the highest remaining die then compared to the target number. If successful the adjective is applied as desired. It is here however that the Push dice really come into play as by default Adjectives applied through a successful action don't last for long. If you wish to extend the duration of the effect, for example upgrade a 'Suppressed' to 'Bleeding', it requires that a Push die be spent, transferring it from the Player to the GM. In this way the game brings in an ebb and flow of power that fits well with the noir genre implied by the games title. At the start of each adventure Push dice reside with the PCs, allowing them to quickly investigate and get the information required to work out what is going on. As the dice flow to the GM the balance shifts and the PCs start to run up against larger challenges, difficult to overcome without the boost provided by Push dice. Here the GM can then start to really hurt the PCs, applying longer lasting adjectives (which confer Harm dice) but in order to do so must once again spend the Push dice, returning them to the control of the players. Finally the PCs, bruised and beaten but in possession of the Push dice, are in a position to uncover the truth and take out the bad guy at the centre of their troubles. All in all the system works well and finds a good balance by bringing together traditional mechanics (rolling dice), player narrative (adding adjectives) and genre (the Push dice economy) into a single cohesive system. My experience with the system so far is that it works best when an adventure is spread over 2 or 3 sessions, one shots limit the impact of longer lasting adjectives on NPCs as they don't appear in enough scenes. Longer adventures however and the PCs build up too many negative adjectives, severely limiting their effectiveness. The only real issue I've had with the system is getting to grips with the focus on character versus character conflicts, as the GM is advised to avoid rolls that don't involve manipulating / affecting another character in some way. This makes sense from both a genre and system perspective, as applying adjectives to say, pick a lock, doesn't make a big impact if that lock is never encountered again. I suspect part of my issue with this is that my NPCs are probably the weakest aspect of my GMing so only time will tell as to whether I can get a handle on this aspect of the game.

Transmissions Transmissions, which make up a substantial portion of the book, are a system for the generation of on the fly adventures which are generated as information is uncovered by the characters. Each Transmission forms a small setting, something which is mostly absent from the main game, however even these settings leave much up to the imagination of the GM. There are 3 Transmissions included in the book itself and each contains within it a series of contacts (NPCs who can provide favours to the PCs), locations, events, factions, threats and objects. At the start of the adventure the GM takes 3 of these elements and uses them to form a story seed, as the PCs explore and investigate they draw in further elements which the GM connects to that initial seed. For example if a PC goes to a contact to borrow some money that NPC is added to the plot map and suddenly they may be connected to a spate of kidnappings the PCs are investigating, maybe she's involved in laundering the money of the gang involved or her son is one of the individuals who has been taken. The plot map, generated from each of these elements merely provides the links between points in the adventure, its up to the GM to decide what those connections are. The Transmission system works extremely well, allowing a GM to generate a plot as it unfolds and as the PCs are drawn into the adventure. Of course this requires the GM be comfortable with working out details on the fly but even if you're not comfortable with this the framework provides an easy to use, pre-generated set of points which can be used ahead of time to plan an adventure. There are a number of Transmissions which are already available and with their simplicity its easy to write more focused around your city or setting of choice.

Customisation While the game is written from a cyberpunk perspective the relatively limited nature of the setting material makes the system extremely easy to adapt to other settings. As part of the Kickstarter project the author has already released MechNoir, which shifts the focus to Mars and adds in rules for the use of Mecha and is planning to release HexNoir, a magic / fantasy based adaptation for the game. From a personal angle I've been working on an adaptation for running games within the Dresden Files universe (which can be found over on my personal blog). This coupled to the compact size of the book and ease of writing new transmissions means the game is on my list of systems I'm happy to pack in my bag while travelling just in case I can slot a session of it in.

Wrap Up Technoir is a game that I would definitely recommend to those who are fans of the cyberpunk genre, especially if they'd rather focus on the motivations and conflicts of characters as opposed to the stats of a particular piece of cyberware. The system underlying the game is distinct, easy to learn and encourages the styles of play expected of by the genre, with the added bonus of being easily hacked to fit other noir influenced settings. All in all definitely a game that I am glad to have taken that Kickstarter gamble on.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Technoir
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D20 Girls Magazine - Fall 2012
Publisher: Le Nurd Mystique, LLC
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2012 08:59:49

I must admit, I have had, until this point, an avid dislike of PDF magazines. I dunno why, or how, but the idea of them always threw me off. However an article about tattoos and the magazine called D20 Girls? I had to at least give this a try.

I found it, actually, really quite good! The articles were interesting but not heavy or particularly soul-searching. The pictures were far better quality than I was expecting and it wasn't completely littered with adverts every step of the way! These were the things I was really worried about and D20 Girls has completely put my fears to bed!

I read it in one sitting and wouldn't say it would take anyone longer than an hour or so to read. It is aimed more at an american audience than myself, a brit so some things I wasn't quite up to speed on (Like the show "the tester" which is currently airing in the US, so the article didn't particularly interest me). I would say though nearly every single article in the magazine was generic enough for anybody to enjoy.

Although you would think the name suggests it is heavily about roleplaying, it is actually just like our podcast and instead covers everything. Anything that we geeks enjoy is in there - and I certainly would recommend having a look!

There were a couple of flaws, I didn't think the layout was particularly brilliant (and there were some interviews I found hard to follow because of this) nor do I think the choice of colours at some point is particularly overwhelming. However overall I did really enjoy reading this magazine and will make a point in future to pick up future releases!

I heartily recommend for the reasonable price of this magazine you do the same!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
D20 Girls Magazine - Fall 2012
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Doodle Dice Monsters
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2012 17:08:05

Doodle Dice Monster is an unusual name for a system. No mention of dragons or dungeons. No mention of space ships, far away planets or even of guns. Don't let that fool you, doodle dice monsters bring out your creative side and a whole load of fun besides!

Using your selection of dice and your ability to draw you create monsters of crazy proportions. Then you assign dice to their attributes then you duke it out. The creatures can be pretty much whatever you desire them to be. There is rules as to how to how you create your monsters (as they describe it in the book, the monster could have hundreds of limbs and eyes but these don't do anything unless you assign to them).

There is a clear set of rules as to how combat goes on. They are sensible and easy to follow and it explains how the win/lose conditions can happen. Even the colour of your die that you use can make a difference in your combat actions (and explains what to do if you have multicoloured die).

A clear glossary for any confusing terminology used throughout the rules is available as well as a list of awesome alternative rules to throw into your games as well (how about using an avatar of yourself to help you win?).

This is great fun, and a joy to play. The game is easily accessible to anyone and is a great introduction to anyone to get a feeling of roleplaying is like. I can see this being a fun convention game that is easy to pick up, easy to play for anyone and more importantly doesn't have to take an age and a half of time to get going. In my opinion, I would love to see this featured on Tabletop, or even play it more with my friends. Because half the fun is beating each other up with your created monsters and trying to win. The other half is seeing the crazy monsters that escape from the imaginations of your friends, families, random convention goers or even to see the monsters that escape from the mind of Wil Wheaton.

The only thing you could have against it is that you won't be able to make a massively long and engaging storyline, or a campaign that spans months or years. What you can have is something that you can play as filler or something that gives you a break from a serious campaign. It can give you something to help you just have a laugh without the need for hours and hours of prep.

If you want something fun, light and easy to play then this is exactly what you are looking for. I will certainly be playing with my friends for a good barrel of fun when we have a spare hour or two.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Doodle Dice Monsters
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Rogue's Gallery
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/13/2012 16:04:51

Rogues in games are the surprising members of any adventuring party. You don't generally think of the rogue as the good guy, but instead the guy who came along for the money. For that reason I have generally avoided playing rogues, in the fear that I would find them boring, and slightly one-dimensional. Little Red Goblin Games saw this interesting class and how under-used it was - and released a module for it! The Rogue's Gallery is all about the the rogue class in Pathfinder RPG and gives it a lot of love. With a massive pile of new feats, Equipment, skill uses, rogue talents and new prestige and alternate classes - you have loads to play with! It also helps with a good section showing that there is more to a rogue than the money-grabbing roleplaying angle. I would start by saying the artwork through the book is great. The book is brilliantly laid out and shows a real touch of quality to it. It really has that great first impression when I read through the book and can really make you appreciate what you are reading so much more. They start the book with a very, very important point. Good is not nice. It explains that the rogue can be a chaotic good character, doesn't mean he won't be arrogant, rude, independent rule-breaker! With the four general archetypes you can look at it will certainly help get the character-storming session going to help you make a rather interesting character! I think they could have gone into this more - the four archetypes only fill one page after all! The next section moves onto Rogue talents. It also introduces trick talents. What makes them unique is that you can only use these once during a given combat. A trick generally only works once then the enemy is prepared for it! They are all interesting little things that can really help a rogue pull off an excellent combo or get them out of a terrible situation, but don't feel overpowered at all. I particularly like "Living on a Prayer" and would love to build a rogue that uses that alone! With sixteen rogue talents in there - you have a lot more choice as well to build upon. Then we move into new skill uses. Finally, I can get a bit more swashbuckling with my rogue with being able to use "Use Rope" skill to swing from a rope! I can use that escape artist check to get my enemies to be flat-footed! Brilliant! That is something that put me off rogues quite a fair bit. Either you MUST attack before they do to catch them flat-footed or hope you can get a flank and they don't hit hard. But imagine if you can stand behind the paladin tank and create your enemy flat footed to then dash around next round and get your sneak attack in! Yeah! Suddenly rogues look really cool to me! The feats I am still umming and erring over. I really like them, but they seem really powerful at higher levels. Then again that is when rogues can really suffer in power compared to other classes. With nine new feats to choose from though, plus another five teamwork feats as well, you can really get some great combinations kicking off and getting a real flavour for the kind of rogue you are building. Without really building a few more higher level rogue builds and actually playing a few of them as well, I can't really make up my mind about them. I owuld hate to include this other great supplement into our higher level game and suddenly feel the balance really topple. An interesting concept brought up in the book is the idea of Morale damage - where your rogue can force a creature's will to fight to eventually snap which forces them to yield. Not only do I love the idea of creatures actually giving up rather than ALWAYS fighting to the death - but it makes it clear that the party's experience shouldn't be penalised for achieving this - moreover they should get the normal experience for doing so! Well done LRGG! Pathfinder than get really hack n slash when it wants to - so reminding players they don't have to kill every single thing they come across is brilliant. The alternate class is another great idea - encouraging players not just to view their rogue as some kind of in for the money one-dimensional creature but instead beyond that and something more exciting. I won't go into too much detail about the prestige classes and alternate classes here - you should buy the book and have a read for yourself! Suffice to say, I think they are superb and are really winning me over to the rogue side. Finally we have a huge host of equipment to go through. All of them still aimed of our little sneaky friend but some are certainly usable by other classes who have a certain affinity to sneakiness (ranger, I am looking at you). The magic items are brilliant ideas that aren't necessarily brilliant in improving your combat skills but they help you avoid a lot of the nastiness to start with - especially ghostlight powder. Finally a wonderful section called "Circus of Krineska". This is a wonderful piece of Lore to include in any game setting as well as a brilliant plot hook for anyone who is planning to play a rogue (or a similar class) and wants a background filled with trouble! Further it has a brand new god to include in your games with a great introduction as to why she should be feared! Overall this is a brilliant little supplement with plenty to keep you interested and amused. I am pretty sure now I am going to have to try playing a rogue using some of the items from this supplement and not only will I be able to show players that rogues are all just about the money and not about the characterisation but also have some excellent tricks up my sleeve and a whole world of trouble following at my feet!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue's Gallery
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Dark Heresy: Church of the Damned
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/27/2011 18:19:14

Church of the Damned is the second book of the The Apostasy Gambit campaign and a follow up to the first book, The Black Sepulchre. The book promises to have something for every player, whether that is all-action guns blazing, or mystery and intrigue.

To be fair, there are small spoilers, so I suggest if you want a summary - skip to the last paragraph!

The book is split up into three separate stories - that weave together into one module. The first chapter starts you in a cathedral with a non-linear exploration and investigation part into the duties of the Ecclesiarchy. All the little details are there from holy scriptures into what Sisters of Battle do when they aren't blasting their enemies to shreds. The second chapter has you involved in the underhive and gang wars which will give your players they action they crave. Finally in the third chapter it has you making your way to a Shrine world where all hell, literally, breaks loose.

As would be expected from Fantasy Flight, the production values are excellent. The artwork is stunning and the book style really hits home the 40k universe. At the end of each chapter is the infinitely helpful "troubleshooting" section which can help a GM think of a way to deal with potential problem scenarios. At the beginning there is also a detailed GM brief to help give an overview of what is going on.

Obviously it would be best if you have played the first module before this one, but it isn't difficult to take this as a standalone adventure if you so want. It is a great little story and I heartily recommend it. There really is something for every type of acolyte and the twist in the plot really is a great idea. This certainly gets 5/5 from me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy: Church of the Damned
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Image Portfolio Platinum Edition 05: Storn Cook
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2011 15:55:27

I haven't seen these Image Portfolio products before, but as soon as I saw this was Storn Cook, I knew I had to have a look. What the Portfolio is is six images from (in my opinion) one of the finest RPG character artists there is, Storn Cook. I've always loved his character work, and here are six superhero-themed character portraits you can use in non-profit or independent products.

One of the nice things about superhero art is that a lot of it can fit more than one genre.

Two of these pictures I would say are firmly in the Superhero mould - a winged flier, and an electric martial artist (who you can see on the cover). The man in the suit with a fancy sci-fi gun and bionic hand could be superhero, science fiction, or cyberpunk. There's an ogre-mage in a business suit who wouldn't be out of place in a Shadowrun game, a warrior-woman that would fit in with a high-fantasy game. And finally, there's a cosmic being who could be anything from an avatar of the Universe itself to a Cthuluoid horror from beyond the stars.

Storn's character work is dynamic and expressive - these don't seem like "generic" heroes to me. I look at each one and can immediately get ideas for different characters to play.

If I were producing a small-press Superhero-themed product, these would help it look fantastic. Recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Image Portfolio Platinum Edition 05: Storn Cook
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Cthulhu Britannica: Shadows over Scotland
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2011 15:37:08

Being a resident Scot myself, Cthulhu Britannica and, especially, Shadows over Scotland were always going to be of interest and appeal to me. The first section of the book is a look at 1920's Scotland and the mood of the people, recent history including the role of the great war, what life is like for the different classes, politics of the period while also taking care to look at the positives of the time like in creative arts such as the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the success of J.M. Barrie and other literary works. Neatly, there are also sidebars for pre-decimalisation money (though oddly it doesn't specifically say it was 240p to the pound, the closest it gets is saying it was 12p to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound) and some common Scots lexicon/lingo (with pronunciation guides for things like ceilidh and the sgian dubh) to help add a more authentic edge to dialogue.

Next we come to the Keeper's History of Scotland, covering Scotland's history in about 10 pages from the prehistoric and stone age, moving onto the ages of bronze and iron, Roman invasion of Britain (including a possible Mythos explanation for the disappearance of the Ninth Hispanic Legion) before moving to the rest of the first Millennium – Picts, Celts, Vikings, Angles and the conflicts between Mythos and Christianity. We then take a look at 1000-1500; the unification of Scotland under one rule and Edward I's attempt to claim sovereignty over Scotland and the Declaration of Arbroath. Next is 1500-1750 covering Mary Queen of Scots, her exile, religious reformation and Union of Parliaments, Jacobite rebellion (and a sidebar on the Glencoe Massacre), Industrial Revolution and Early 20th Century. And all this before we even get to the Mythos Timeline! The mythos timeline covers the whole period from Pangaea to 1920, giving the key events of Scotland in order with some of the non-Mythos events to help us piece it all together more easily and Shadows over Scotland then introduces us to about half a dozen notable figures of the 1920s including Alexander Fleming, Arthur Conan Doyle and also has a list of suggested further reading for more information on modern Scotland, the history and people that have made it up.

With the scenarios provided, there's a lot of interesting different ideas – some classic figures of Scottish history converted into Mythos beasties that'll still be around in the 1920s and possibly later still, some classic beings used in others and across a wide range of locations in Scotland. I've only ran one of the scenarios - The Forbidden Isle, set on the island of Rum – and reading through it I was excited. A fairly straight forward scenario that should work well for a group that was made up of players who had played Cthulhu several times before and others who had never touched it. It looked interesting and taking a quick look on google for extra research it seemed to be a well researched adventure and well laid out. Reading through it, there were some details I wish I'd paid more attention to when it came to running the adventure; red herrings that distracted the party and details they did notice (and some they didn't) that I simply didn't have an explanation for even after the scenario was finished (such as missed footprints in the dust in the attic that lead to a pile of clothing implied to belong to the victims – how did it get there? Was it the enthralled servant of the Mythos creature, was it a member of the household, was it coincidentally similar? I still don't know and I'm glad the party missed two sets of spot hidden rolls so I didn't have to explain that or have the party become more convinced it was some sort of inside job). It left me disappointed in the end, something I hate to say about an otherwise fantastic book.

Overall I'd say the book is solid – excellent background and characters. It could practically be an engaging, well written textbook for the information it has on Scotland and it's history. I've only ran or played one scenario, so I hope it's one of the lesser scenarios as it left me a little disappointed but there are still fantastic ideas for games and scenarios. I'd rate the book 5/5 – the information could possibly rival an academic book on Scotland and it has lots of good ideas but I feel the scenarios are disappointing without a lot of careful reading and note-taking to find out what are genuine clues, red herrings and how the red herrings can be explained if discovered after the scenario is over.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica: Shadows over Scotland
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Rogue Trader: The Citadel of Skulls
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/03/2011 15:03:56

Citadel of Skulls is the second book from the warpstorm trilogy (actually starting with The Frozen Reaches ) which continues on the adventure path for the Rogue Trader system. On the hunt to discover the cause of vanishing settlements and increased xenos sightings, you and your fellow Explorers are thrust on a perilous journey. You discover that a great beast has awakened from beyond the edges of the Koronus Expanse which risks destroying all that is nearby. Before you can attempt to seek it out and destroy it, you have to discover what and where it is. Finding the answer is a almost impossible task, pitting you against an infamous pirate lord blessed by Chaos.

Like a big majority of Fantasy Flight products the module looks asthetically fantastic. Careful proof-reading and design means I haven't spotted a single error within this book. The first few pages give excellent detail for the Games master to get a good feel of what is going on whether they have played the first adventure or not and gives plenty of background information to help them get a good understaning of what the player will be facing. There are maps for the GM to refer to so they have a good visual aid of the area the players will be roaming in and in case, like every adventuring party, they decide that going off course is the only route possible then there is plenty of fluff to help them get it back on track.

The adventure module does recommend that you run The Frozen Reaches first and I do agree. While this could be run as a standalone in itself you would need to help come up with an explanation as to why the players are doing this and Frozen Reaches sets this up really nicely. I personally haven't read the first module of this adventure path but thankfully there is a small description of it at the beginning of this book.

All the NPCs are detailed in the appendix and also help give a bit more insight to them, so as to help the GM act them out if necessary. It has stat blocks for everything and a list of all special abilities or talents. It also has, unsurprisingly, a list of experience you can get for each chapter in the adventure and achievement points the player can earn as well. They could have given far less detail or for less information and you would still be able to run this adventure module successfully and instead you get a fantastic level of information to drip feed your players as they go. I love how some of the NPCs have little quirks that only occur in certain situation that you can choose how they affect your players. For example, Skar's little quirk is just a nice touch to add.

The adventure itself is excellent. Again I don't want to give away too much of the detail surrounding the adventure but it is in the true, gritty style of the 40K universe and one particular line stood out to me that really did sum it up perfectly:

"The explorers should get out by the skin of their teeth"

Overall this is an excellent quality book with plenty of detail and beautiful artwork as would be expected from a Fantasy Flight module. The story is interesting and challenging for the players and in plenty of detail. It really feels it would be much better for the players if you run the first module before going onto this one, however a resourceful Games Master could easily slot this in to their game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue Trader: The Citadel of Skulls
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Heroes in Time
Publisher: Starbright
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/01/2011 13:54:50

Heroes in Time opens with a picture of what looks like a human in some sort of clear space suit, energy sword in one hand and claws on the end on the other with a strange metallic winged creature in the background, a barren landscape and empty space and stars in the background. Beside that is the beginning of an extensive contents that includes the wide variety of settings for adventures – Primeval, Fantasy, Swashbuckling, Steampunk, Modern, Cyberpunk and Space Opera. While many would consider it ambitious to try and create a system that can deal with so many different genres, as the name suggests, it also intends to make it possible to have the same character be playable in all of them as the default setting has all the genres linked in a common timeline.

After the standard “What is a roleplaying game?” and overview of the basic mechanics, each setting gets a brief timeline of the main events of the era as well as a history, adventure ideas, information about the prevalence of Gods, the types of monsters as well as how special powers are viewed and how societies of the era tend to function. At least, that's the case up until the Modern era and beyond where details of Gods disappear entirely.

Following the genres of play we reach details of the Temporal Lords, inspired by Dr Who and Sapphire and Steel, the far future human race with the ability to move backwards and forwards through time and the first mention of their adversaries, The Entropic Alliance. However, even after reading the book I'm not sure if the time travel is at Gms whim or if the players are meant to have access to something to travel with deliberately. We quickly move on to character creation – names, alignment (not just good vs evil, law vs chaos but also has suggestions such as logical vs emotional or detached vs engaged), suggestions for back-stories and the type of personality the protagonist will have (all nicely free of mechanics so far so any suggestions could easily be used for any other game or as a simple guide for new roleplayers) and how they're funded. We start to reach the parts with mechanical effects – races (human, elves, halflings and dwarves though halflings don't seem to have any drawbacks for their bonuses and dwarves get barely a sentence of flavourful text with no mechanical effects) and development points to determine a character's areas of expertise, abilities and powers. There's a wide variety of examples for skills, but they all come under broad headings that may make it easy to skip over and make it seem like far too many development points on a quick read through.

With the powers, it offers two default methods of obtaining them; innate and through items though other than making the choice it has no real effect before going on to say items should have limitations and offering some but curiously not listing the idea of the power being gained from an item being a limitation – If I have a ring of intangibility and it gets stolen, I no longer have the ability until I can get that back and it provides a good way for enemies to try and reduce my power before attacking (or because the GM has realised an ability is too powerful and needs to redress this!) but as it is, there's no reason for me not to make all my powers innate unless being tied to an item was meant to be a limitation but not listed. However, the power list is extensive and covers so much it would be difficult to think of anything quickly that isn't covered by the powers available. As I've been writing this review I cast my mind towards the X-Men but I reckon most or all of them could be made fairly quickly with the rules provided.

The equipment list is similarly extensive without feeling bloated – the main classes of weapon, armour and shield are all provided and extend through the genres and there is also a decent list of general equipment and magic items. My only critique here is the lack of costs or anything to make it a bit more independent and quick if you have several players trying to make characters at the same time. The default is to discuss it with the GM to decide what's appropriate but if there's four or five players doing this at once it may become an issue.

There are also pages devoted to robots, space ships (though with careful use of limitations and adjusting the speed chart appropriately, regular ships could easily be made using this for Swashbuckling/Fantasy periods as well as things like airships), poisons, diseases and environmental hazards as well as a small bestiary that sometimes lacks information on the capabilities or weaknesses of certain creatures (undead are typically just a desciption).

The main rules for skill resolution and combat are right at the start of the book and shows that defences will be important to avoid quickly being disabled (it appears a typical character will have about +60 to 70 on a percentile roll, subtract their opponents dodge roll and armour modifiers and if the score is above 100 after this it will usually incapacitate an opponent.) However, an opponent skilled in dodging and with decent armour should make it a difficult or impossible task to score above 100 but there is the potential for very quick combats. However, I'd need to play or run a game to get a good idea of how likely this is in actual play.

Aside from a few typos that will inevitably slip through the net and taking a few reads to ensure I knew where the relevant rules for combat, etc, could be found there is a simple system with a plethora of information and options to cover most genres and technology levels and manages to condense it all into a surprisingly small book for everything that's contained within. My main concerns would be how quickly a combat would finish and how long it might take to work out each attack (I know I can get slow with D&D modifiers sometimes, let alone trying to work out 143-58 quickly or similar each round). However, even if you never planned to play/run Heroes in Time, it might have enough to inspire you for ideas on certain genres or work well for a simple superhero game (the section on character death even mentions how death is rarely permanent in superhero stories/comics) as well as the default time hopping through genres.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes in Time
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Tome of Munitions
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/26/2011 12:08:35

“At last” sighed the gnome as he packed the last of the arcane powder he had made into the shell casings. He had managed to make a dozen whilst the paladin once again told his tale of killing the ogre.

“With these I could take out one of those mammoths from the north let alone and ogre Kelrind! let me show you” He took hold of his musket, dextrous fingers loading one of the new bullets as he raised it and fired towards a nearby boulder. With a loud crash the musket recoiled and the boulder cracked along the middle before flames covered its mass. The Paladin spluttered his coughed on his water and fell backwards in a heap. The gnome simply smiled.

This is what I imagine after reading Tome of Munitions by red goblin. It’s a small expansion for Pathfinder: Ultimate combat which adds some alternate skills to the gunslinger class, more feats, more guns, more prestige classes and more items. All of which are good things in my book.

Now I’ve never been a big fan of the gunslinger. I`ve always been the paladin/fighter type in most of my games but this book has opened me to new ideas for my characters, like the Dragoon. The dragoon is basically the heavy armoured range fighter of the party who goes around challenging the biggest, gribbly, drooling mess of a monster he sees and riddles the beloved jebus out of it with holes. Or there’s the swashbuckler who goes around shooting people in the back with all the style and grace of Johnny Depp on tequila. Then there’s the “ascetic shooter” a.k.a the bullet monk, the one who usually goes around with a couple of pistols because sometimes his feet aren’t fast enough and can knock you seven ways to Sunday with them.

Then there’s the higher level stuff, the prestige classes. There are two of them, the living legend and Eldritch engineer. Living legend is essentially john Wayne of pathfinder, giving deeds like Gust of wind to blind your opponents or you feeling lucky pardna? Which actually lets you fire your gun without a bullet in it (also has the best first sentence of any ability in the book). Of course my favourite is the Eldritch engineer, the jack of all trades of guns. Basically it’s a spell caster with a gun that can transform into any gun he wants, just bang it’s a musket , bang it’s a gnomish grenade launcher, bang it’s a orc rocket launcher! I`ll be honest it’s this kind of character that has made me excited for the next pathfinder game I play.

Onto of these cool classes the book has pimped you out for choice of guns and magic gun powder. They have given two guns for every race that reflect their different traits. The dwarven pistol for example is fired like a blunderbuss but is one- handed or the Dragon breath cannon which is a freakin flame thrower! The magic gunpowder isn`t something to scoff at either though you do need to know certain spells if you want to create some. Like Burning hands? Let me show you incendiary powder which engulfs your target in flame ontop of the bullet now lodged in his spleen, what about exploding runes? Well its cousin snaprock powder makes its area of attack into a land mines of d4 damage.

All in all I’d say this little addition to anyone’s pathfinder collection is well worth the cost. It opens up new and interesting avenues in the gunslinger class that I look forward to exploring when I next have the chance.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Munitions
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Ultimate Options: New Arcane Discoveries
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/16/2011 15:45:24

This book contains 9 pages of wonderful extras for you magic users in Pathfinder. It is published by Super Genius games and I would say it is heartily worth a read!

With loads of extras for mages (including the ability to get a genie companion) there is plenty to build up on from the Latest paizo book Ultimate Magic. There are new abilities and a two new wizard power sets as well.

Loads of tasty extras to get boost up your spells, loads of information and none of it feel particularly overpowering from a game balance setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Options: New Arcane Discoveries
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