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Grimm: Core Rulebook
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/07/2010 07:18:07

Grimm is a fantasy-type setting for a world of imagination that resembles the classic fairy-tales of old. You play the part of a kid caught in this world, trying to make your way home, completing adventures and quests along the way.


It's a fascinating book, with a unique game-play system and a rich world to explore. The rating would have been 5 star, except for the price; either buy the PDF or the book, but not both: I suggest that you buy the book, unless you really like to read things from the computer screen.


All in all, a great purchase and a great game -- seasoned game players will find it interesting, beginners will find it informative. Grimm is a must-have for your collection.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grimm: Core Rulebook
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True20 Adventure Roleplaying, Revised Edition
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2010 05:54:17

True20 is Green Ronin's answer to the D20 game system, using the M&M model of mechanics resolution. (Huh?) In other words, it is a simple and fun game to play any genre you like, from fantasy to space opera, using a modified D20 rule-set.


I like this game; I didn't think I would, but I really do. Normally, I don't rate things based on passion - I rate based on value vs. cost. However, I think it is important to state that I REALLY HATE D20, but! I really LIKE this game book and it's system.


For the value, it is a good deal at 10.00. It is sad that it seems that Green Ronin has (maybe) abandoned True20; I only recently discovered it (2010). If I had known that this was out there, I would have played it and recommended it more.



  • Note: while the layout of the book is OK, you should know that the artwork inside is only Black and White. I think this is why it has fizzled: people compared the Layout to D20 modern and thought "True20 looks like D20 on the cover, but there's no color on the inside." I don't think True20 got a good chance because of this one design flaw. I would like to see True 20 with a similar cover and some color art on the inside -- even if they had to cut the number of pages with color printing in half!


I like the Three Class system, the simplified lists, and the modified D20 resolution mechanics. I like the fact that the attributes are modifier only; I like the freedom True20 gives concerning gaining levels, purchasing equipment, and creating characters. I don't have lawyers and doctors for my players; I only have people who like to play games. Who do you want to find to play your games: rocket scientists or fun, simple people?


Less is more in just about everything; True20 is no exception.


An excellent system that was never given a chance; a grande substitute for any D20 product.



  • Green Ronin, read the above and learn from your past; bring this product back, better than ever, and I know I will buy my copy once I see it online or in the store.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
True20 Adventure Roleplaying, Revised Edition
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BESM Dungeon
Publisher: White Wolf
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2010 05:24:53

BESM is a good system for playing any genre. You can't go wrong with either 2nd or 3rd edition. It is heavily-adorned with anime flair; the characters are mostly better-than-average humans. If you want to play gritty humanoids with many quirks and faults, then BESM is not that type of game. So, for 8 dollars, if you bought BESM rules, then this supplement is OK to purchase. While it gives you some interesting ideas for dungeon-crawling anime action, most of the book is tied into the story-line of Lysandra and the sample dungeon.


If you decide to get this game, make a decision on paper or PDF first, and be happy with the one copy you have.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
BESM Dungeon
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Buffy RPG Revised Corebook
Publisher: Eden Studios
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2010 05:19:03

Buffy TVS RPG is exactly what it says it is in the description above.


Now, since I rate things based on money vs. value, I would like to say that this book is a must-have IF you are really into playing characters for the Buffyverse. The layout of the book is superb: it goes beyond the limit of what is expected in a game book. The material, however, is where this book falls short. For 20 dollars, you get exactly what you pay for, and no more. If you don't like Buffy TVS and you want to get this game to see what the Uni-system is all about, then it's an OK purchase.


The Uni-system would be good to play any game genre with, but this book only covers material for BTVS. This is a weakness. It is not a good thing for this book. Buy this book for Buffy, not for a generic system to play. At 20 dollars, it is too expensive to also spend hours tweaking it for your own personal use with other genres.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Buffy RPG Revised Corebook
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Cortex Classic System Role Playing Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2010 05:10:33

Cortex is a generic, one-stop rule system for playing any genre you like. It is very similar to another "dice type for attributes" game system, and when you want to create fantastic and savage worlds, this game is simpler to use and, for me, better to play. (You should know that I like the other game as well, but time and money being limited nowadays, simpler is better.)


After buying the PDF, I bought the printed book. This is an excellent buy, and I use it as one of my core systems. The only cavet I have with it is that the variety of ability is not broad when it comes to the common attributes -- however, this is a small thing (it only means that you should play regular humanoids, monsters, or androids vs. using it for a super-hero campaign. Cortex does give you a decent system for creating a super-hero, but it is geared more towards fantasy / pulp / modern / space opera action.)


For a 10 dollar PDF, it is an excellent buy in all respects - hats off to MWP.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cortex Classic System Role Playing Game
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Codex: Story Gaming for Creative People
Publisher: Mob United Media
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2010 04:56:25

Anyone who reads most of my reviews knows that I don't mince words and I like "easy-to-grasp reading" of game rules. (I don't mind reading long-headed books if I am reading about things like politics, philosophy, religion, or if I am reading a classic novel or Shakespeare. However, if I am reading a rule-set for a game, I don't want to be bogged down with the details ... money is too scarce, life is too short).


Unfortunately, I don't really understand what Codex is, even after purchasing it and reading the first 5-7 pages. Frankly, I don't think it knows what it is, either, judging by what I read in the text. (I am not trying to be harsh nor ambiguous, I am trying to be truthful. 8 bucks is a lot to spend on something you don't like, don't read, and will never use. I write reviews based on MONEY, not on PASSION.)


To all the game designers out there: LAYOUT is IMPORTANT. I am a graphic designer by trade - I know of what I speak.


Codex lives up to its name, unfortunately: it is a poorly-designed collection of ideas that is arcane and hard to comprehend with light reading.
Save your 8 dollars, until the revision comes out, and Codex has been rewritten and redesigned.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Codex: Story Gaming for Creative People
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Jaws of the Six Serpents
Publisher: Silver Branch Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2010 04:46:00

Jaws of the Six Serpents is a Medieval-type fantasy genre world for the free PDQ game system. The PDF / book has a very nicely-done layout and wonderful artwork to accent the information.


While the setting is very detailed, it tends toward a darker vision of magic, so if you are looking for a fantasy game world that is a little more "light hearted" then JOSS is not for you. Save your 10 dollars.


If you don't mind that aspect of the book, then JOSS is a decent choice for the PDQ system, even at around 10 dollars (dark fantasy is just not my thing).



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Jaws of the Six Serpents
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Dice and Dramatics
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2010 04:37:55

Dice and Dramatics is an excellent, one-stops source for doing exactly what it says it will do in the description. I tend to write reviews that will help you decide whether it is worth the money or not -- that's what I think the review system in RPG NOW is for.


Therefore, for 7.00 dollars, this is a good product if you are fairly new to the RPG game world and you want to really get into the meat of acting out your adventures at the game table. Otherwise, it is merely an OK product for play, but it does have a nice layout and graphic design.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dice and Dramatics
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EPICS roleplaying system
Publisher: Dragonslayer Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2010 04:32:48

Epics is a cinema-style game, with some pretty extensive, yet basic rules to follow. The PDF / book does not have an easy-to-understand layout, which hurts it greatly, but for 5.00 dollars, it is not a bad deal.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
EPICS roleplaying system
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Big Eyes, Small Mouth Revised Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/12/2010 02:34:59

BESM is a generic-mechanics game based on the Tri-stat system, for use with any genre that you want to play in. The term “Big Eyes, Small Mouth” refers to the premise that the game is based on common Anime tropes and story settings. You can create any type of game you like, from swash-buckling fantasy to inter-galactic space opera, all seasoned with a Japanese animation flair. If you see it on TV “Anime-style”, then you can play it at home “table-top style” with BESM.


This is the second edition of the rules; I do not currently have the third edition yet. Actually, I think that this is an advantage for the following reasons:
(1) this PDF is a solid, economical purchase when compared to pricing of the third edition PDF
(2) it follows the Tri-Stat System more closely than does the third edition (from what I have read about it)
(3) most of the supplements seem to be native for the second edition rules here - not for the third edition


In a nutshell, the TS(d6) system is very simple to learn: you have three primary attributes, a few derived scores using simple formulas, some background information creation requirements, and two lists - one for skills and traits, the other for defects and hindrances. (I like simplicity in games, because most of my players are not lawyers, doctors, bank managers, or accountants -- they are actually people who have time to play games. A simple concept like this could revolutionize the industry; less is truly more.)



  • I suggest that you buy this game BEFORE you get the free copy of the Tri-Stat rules. BESM explains the TS(d6) system core mechanics better than does the free PDF, in my opinion. Plus, you get a nifty game universe to play in. (I got the free PDF and did not like it; I got BESM later, and now, I like the Tri-Stat system. Graphic art and layout really does matter when it comes to entertainment and communication of a complex idea …)


BESM 2nd revised delivers a solid, yet simple game system to create your own fantasy / fictional world. This is book is not short on information, flavor, or creativity. If you are looking for an easy-to-learn-and-use system, that has many supplements to support it, BESM 2 will be a good game system for your group.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Big Eyes, Small Mouth Revised Second Edition
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Villains and Vigilantes 2.1
Publisher: Monkey House Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2010 14:02:03

Villains and Vigilantes is a (somewhat) dated, and yet relatively strong game system for playing super-heroic characters like you would find in an American comic book. It’s one of the premiere role-playing games of the 1980s -- no question about it, meaning that nostalgia and fondness for similarity could be the primary driving forces to its current success. If you are looking for the latest and greatest innovation in role-playing, then Villains and Vigilantes will not surprise you (though it does hold it’s own for innovation in it’s own right -- the game is still unique, even with its d20 influence imbedded in the rules).


If you are looking for a fantastic super-hero game to play, then V&V is a swell game indeed!


Characters are created using your own identity and specialized formulas, and the game is played with various random tables and rules for mundane items and traits. All in all, it’s a creative mixture of information that you can use to create your own random game world.


(Personally, I like the random factor over other point-based systems, because it’s much easier to choose one or two things, and then, add randomness for flavor later -- rather than pulling a concept from thin air. The one thing that some game designers seem to miss is this: most people are not creative -- but almost everyone likes to play a game. Randomness is the key to getting others to try new things, and V&V fills that niche rather nicely.)


Does all this mean that Villains and Vigilantes is for the silly, veteran game player -- not hardly! It only means that Villains and Vigilantes is a unique game with some interesting traits that will appeal to the number cruncher and the die-hard comic book fan.


I am rating it a 3 / 5, because honestly, it is not an entirely simple game to play (there will be a lot of tedious number-crunching and variable dice rolling involved), but it is a FUN game to play -- and that’s the primary purpose for playing any game. I don’t like to rate things a 3, because I think it is a cop-out normally, but it is a fair rating in this instance for all the factors involved.


Overall, you will not be disappointed to play Villains and Vigilantes, and the price is just right. (I would love to have a hard copy of this game -- maybe one is in the works?)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Villains and Vigilantes 2.1
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Quest - The Storytelling Game
Publisher: Crystal Star Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/03/2010 01:26:33

Quest is a fantasy-setting, DaD style, simple story-telling game, meant to be a basic entry-level RPG. You pick 1 out of 3 classes to play, apply the simple concepts, and play the game. That's it - that's all you get for $5.


Note: the PDF does not include the cover art.


LAYOUT / ART: Good layout, shows promise for a Work-In-Progress (but fails as a Finished Work). With the sketchiness of the rules, it's hard to tell if this is a "finished work" or if this is an attempt to sell a test-drive advertisement. If it is a TDA, then I am sorely disappointed in CSG's approach and I feel like I have been tricked into buying a "used car without wheels". I hope this is not the case.


GAME SYSTEM: Simple to a fault - if you are looking for something innovative here, you look in vain. Crystal Star Games have a great idea, but they did not "follow through with the shot" and hence, they "fell short of the green".



  • (If you like to engineer and tweek your games, this may not be a bad choice for you to tinker with - there's enough here to cook up a decent game with.)


GAME PLAY: It plays OK -- overly simple, but it's so easy, a caveman can do it. Hey, an empty soda bottle could play this game ...


CONCLUSION: It's a decent, simple game that is over-priced at $5.
However, CSG promises to make "advanced, expert" rules that may close the gap between a great game and a flop. (Only time will tell.)



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Quest - The Storytelling Game
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Publisher Reply:
Hi there, Thanks for the review. Not sure why the cover art isn't included; when I download it it is there. Anyone else having this problem? I'll look at adjusting pricing. You are right though, this is supposed to be very simple and rules-lite, but the advanced and expert rules will expand it greatly. Thanks again for the review.
WHAP Deluxe Pulp Adventure System
Publisher: Peryton Publishing
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/12/2010 22:05:35

WHAP is a bare-bones, almost no "flesh" quasi-ruleset for playing pulp action adventures that would date from the 1860s to the 1930s. This is a short, 50 page book that is severely over-priced. When I downloaded the product, it didn't even come with the cover (seen here). I don't know if the PDF is only a part of the printed work, or if it is, in fact, the whole enchilada. Whatever it is, this game feels like it is unfinished and headed on the wrong track, mechanics-wise.


RATINGS: Is it ...
1) Straight-forward? Yes, but that's done by accident - not design. There isn't enough typing, background info, explanation, or story-line present to cause any kind of deviation from the subject.
2) Easy to Teach? No: this game uses formulas of addition, mixing and matching abilities / attributes, to produce calculated secondary attributes. This method is not "going the extra mile"; it's "going in the wrong direction".
3) Easy to Play? Not really: the results are gleaned after reading formulas - not after reading dice or reading the GM's reaction.
4) Appealing? Yes, the idea is appealing, and the cover art seems promising (on the computer, reduced in size). However, close examination and reading the rules will kill any pre-conceived joy.
5) Functional or Creative? Neither: in my opinion, this game, this game book, this rule set is not finished. It's not even out of the gate.


I am not happy with this purchase. Peryton Publishing needs to drop back and punt on WHAP ... or, send it to the side-lines for good.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
WHAP Deluxe Pulp Adventure System
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Space Opera
Publisher: Fantasy Games Unlimited
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/19/2010 04:01:18

The reason for buying this product is for the information in it. The game system is entirely dated, and overly complex, but it has a lot of information about how to run starships, psionics, weapons and types of items. It is loaded with stuff.



  • Us older gamers will buy it for nostalgia too.


However, I must rate it as a stand-alone game, for it may be the only game someone plays. If this person stops at this game, it would be a shame for him to miss out on the other excellent products available.


QUALITY: Fair
VALUE: Good
EASE OF PLAY: Poor
VOLUME OF INFORMATION: Excellent
LAYOUT: Poor
ARTWORK: Good (but BW and limited)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Space Opera
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OVA - Open Versatile Anime Role-Playing Game
Publisher: Wise Turtle Publishing
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/19/2010 03:57:32

As some reviewers have already stated, this is a good game, with one major flaw: the abilities are redundant. What I have done is to re-work them down to about 50% of the number of abilities to choose from, which makes the game simpler, without really destroying its versatility. Other than that, this game is a good buy.


I rated it a 3 because this one problem is a major flaw of the system that must be over-come if you want to play OVA; you must fix this fact, in order to make the game work well.


Why not just have one ability description, and call the ability or weakness by another name to add flavor? That way, one rule works for 2 or 3 abilities; makes a simpler, shorter rule book too.


IMHO



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
OVA - Open Versatile Anime Role-Playing Game
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