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Mirrors: Bleeding Edge
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2011 19:53:26

'World of Darknes: Mirrors' was an exciting title. Basically, it gave you all of the tools to disassemble the nWoD and refashion it in the image that best suited your gaming group. It gave a wide variety of genres, new rules and some alternative character creation rules. 'Bleeding Edge' represents one of the chapters that didn't make it into this book, and the modular format of these extra chapters does represent good value. The reason I say this is that with any compilation of alternate settings and rules, your value will be determined by how much you actually use. In this way, you are able to select from the extra chapters what material you want to pay for.

That said, 'Bleeding Edge' is a remarkably ambitious piece of work. It seeks, in 23 pages, to cover the cyberpunk genre and integrate it into the WoD - no mean feat. Overall, it gives good background information about the genre (which I think all Shadowrun and Cyberpunk GMs should have to read) and sets the tone as to why this would be a good fit for White Wolf's setting.

It offers some additional backgrounds that are contextualised to this genre, none of which are game breaking and they all add their own machine-oil and chrome flavour to the game. The archetypes are well-presented and would be a great starting point for a new gamer, someone not familiar with the genre, or an ST looking for some good NPC starters.

However, where the product falls down is in what could have been included (but what not). Whilst cyberware does form an integral part of any cyberpunk setting, it is glossed over with minimal rules. The overall writing is very brief, as demanded by the breadth of scope and the space dedicated to making it happen. What I would have liked is a supplement about twice this size, where the author would be allowed to take their time and explore some of the concepts a bit more.

As a starting point, this is very good. It sets the tone and provides enough of the basic tools that an enterprising Storyteller could fill in all of the white space and make a really good game. And that is the caveat here - pick it up certainly (and you'll enjoy it), but expect to be doing some additional work to make this a viable additional to your game.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mirrors: Bleeding Edge
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Deadlands Reloaded: Smith & Robards 1880 Catalog
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2011 19:26:04

An absolute must for all Deadlands players and Marshals, 'Smith & Robards' has been the book for discerning gentlefolk for years. In this newest edition, updated to 1880, we are presented with a history of the Roswell-centred offices of the business (and some really nice secrets and plot hooks in the Marshal's Section). Deadlands has always been one of the best themed games on the market and the mad science catalogue is printed with all of the requisite fonts, the faux-Western style advertisements throughout and could be used so easily as an in game prop rather than just another sourcebook.

Inside you'll find everything from the mundane (self cleaning clothes and different flavoured snacks) through to weaponry (like Gatling pistols and Acid rounds) through to the fantastic (like rocket boots - and the rules for misfires and accidents with these devices are not worth considering). There are also rules to steam-powered body augmentation; think cyberware for a steampunk setting. This was the only section that really didn't do anything for me, but was an interesting read nonetheless.

Whether as a prop, a shopping list or simply some new items to reward characters with, this is an excellent resource and a fine update for the Savage Worlds version of the best Western RPG on the market.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: Smith & Robards 1880 Catalog
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Legend of the Five Rings: Enemies of the Empire
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/03/2011 20:24:31

This is the type of book that you want to read through in its’ entirety and then let the ideas clatter about inside your head. The sheer diversity of the adversaries covered makes this a remarkably appealing addition to any L5R GM’s bookshelf (virtual or otherwise). The designers have excelled in concentrating on a wide breadth of thematically different races and organisations so there is very little repetition throughout the book.

Included is a widespread conspiracy that most think of as a folktale (the Kolat), the monsters of the Shadowlands and the Undead, the Bloodspeaker Cults, Ronin, Nezumi, Naga and my personal favourite – the Nothing (an unknowable, implacable elemental force beyond human comprehension). The choice of ‘evil’ for your campaign is a huge strength to the book, but it goes far beyond simply providing a horde of stats and new powers. Whilst these are present, the real gold lies within the descriptions. Comprised of legends, half-truth, rumour, advice and ‘behind the curtain’ designers sidebars, each chapter fulsomely covers the enemy, gives advice for scaling character interaction with it, and even foreshadowing its arrival. There is plenty of fodder to flesh out a campaign centred on only a single chapter, providing rich story information, as well as the much-needed stat blocks.

The writing style shifts from conversational to storyteller to informative as required and makes the text easier to read, and the artwork is brilliant. I especially liked the quasi-Japanese watercolours set behind the pages (although the artistic values for the chapter on The Nothing are superbly executed).

I had no complaints about this book save the fact that I don’t have the free time to launch into an L5R campaign immediately after purchasing this book. That’s probably for the best though – it will give the seeds of adventure a little more time to take root. For those of you with the time (and I am deeply envious of you), this represents a solid addition to a long line of good L5R books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Enemies of the Empire
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Shadowrun: Mission: 04-01: Hiding in the Dark
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/03/2011 20:22:48

It’s not too often that you find the morality play explored in Shadowrun - most of the jobs are quick, dirty and simple. ‘Hiding in the Dark’ offers a very different perspective on the Underground of Seattle, as the characters are co-opted into a war on crime and have the opportunity to realise that most of the world they inhabit is cast in shades of grey. There is an excellent foreshadowing to the decision, and canny gamesmasters will be able to make a very memorable scene of it. Imaginative players will likewise be challenged to finish this module, tie up all the loose ends and try to keep everyone happy.

The module is tightly written, aimed at organised play and as such a defined time limit. The scenes are compact, but do offer GM latitude in their sequencing and interpretation of NPCs. The NPCs have enough information attached that they are not (with the exception of the combat encounters) ‘cardboard cut-outs’. That said, two of the scenes which could turn into major combats include discussion on tactics to ensure that the ‘enemy’ combatants are portrayed as thinking, cunning adversaries. The Shadowrun module format is one that has been successful for decades and it is good to see it continued with the ‘Missions’ line. Everything is easy to find at a glance, there is enough information to run every scene and room for imagination to fill in the blanks.

Whether for a group of seasoned ‘runners or as an introductory game, this would be a great choice of module.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Mission: 04-01: Hiding in the Dark
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Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2011 23:38:36

‘Blood of Martyrs’ is an incredibly dense, yet truly brilliant sourcebook for the Ecclesiarchy. Whilst I read most sourcebooks for setting information, skim the game mechanics and take away the ‘dot points’ for future investigation, I found myself actually reading ‘Blood of Martyrs’ cover to cover. It really shows what a well-detailed universe 40K is, and how much background research Fantasy Flight has put into developing this book. On the flipside though, there is enough practical and historical information that even the most die-hard enthusiast will find something new.

The first chapter gives an overview of the history of the Ecclesiarchy from the rise of the Emperor to the ‘present day’ of the setting. Whilst the later section is primiarily geared towards the Calixis Sector, it covers general information such as the Horus Heresy, Vandire, the Imperials Creeds, Saints, Pilgrims and the Adeptus Sororitas (more on them later). The writing style is certainly not the dry, historical tones, and the sidebars offer interesting anecdotes or side notes to engage the reader.

Chapter 2 offers some new Homeworlds for character creation, and all align very well with the theme of the book – I felt that all were of equal worth with no wasted effort here. Likewise the new Career Ranks allow characters to put a distinct Ecclesiarchal bent on their Career Paths (such as Confessor, Frateris Militia and Redemptionist).

Chapter 3 was where my attention lingered. As an avid wargamer, I’ve been working on my witch Hunters army for a while now, and the Sisters of Battle have always had a special place in my heart. The entire chapter details the Sororitas, defines the Orders and outlines Career Paths to include this Adeptus in your game as playable characters. I felt that overall the Sisters will be a small step-up from your average character in Dark Heresy, but not so much that it will break your game. In fact, in a game centred on the Ecclesiarchy, I would name them a absolute must. By far, this was the standout chapter for me (but then, I’m somewhat biased in this regard). Game mechanics for using Faith in your game in Chapter 4, give way to the mandatory chapter on weapons and armour. Both chapters were interesting and the new rules do actually add a new dimension to your games. The rules on Faith were very straightforward and linked in to the new Homeworlds found in Chapter 2, which makes them immediately usable.

The book closes with a chapter on Ecclesiarchy Campaigns and as I have come to expect, this was brimming with story ideas and practical advice. There are plenty of methods described to showcase different facets of the Ecclesiarchy so that no two games need to be the same. The sense of scope was conveyed here too, and the reader is left a little in awe of an organisation (albeit fictional) that operates on such a grand scale.

Overall, a must-have for the Dark Heresy game, although I can see several uses for it in my Deathwatch game too – especially given the theological divergences of the Adeptus Astartes and the Ecclesiarchy as a whole. The artwork, as usual, is used with a good eye for enhancing the page, and the Career Path portraits are excellent.

Thought for the day: ++It is better to buy this and be illuminated, than blindly run ‘Dark Heresy’ without it++



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs
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Spellbound Kingdoms
Publisher: T. Shield Studios
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/27/2011 00:21:16

It’s not often that I bother to look at new fantasy settings – I have a well-defined comfort zone and like to stay there. And then ‘Spellbound Kingdoms’ crosses my reading list. Sometimes it is good to look outside of your comfort zone and see if something else sings to you. This is the first iteration of SK I’m familiar with, and it does note that there has been some streamlining and community consultation in the rewrite process – with some material added from the fans. This is the type of collaborative approach that meshes well with my sensibilities and so I read on.

SK offers a brilliant, and quite innovative approach to the genre, by using emotional attachments, known as Inspirations to drive characters, give them depth and purpose, and in great circumstances – even stave off death. In SK, the kingdoms are shaped by their rulers, and each has a Doom, a basic reflection of the character and well-being of the nation. Knowing that dreams are powerful, most rulers enforce the idea of accepting one’s lot in life and never striving above one’s rank. Commoners who dream are dangerous, and so the average person is not aware of the marvellous power of their Inspirations. Character creation is also ruled by Histories, descriptive phrases that tell other players something about the history of the character, but also provide a skill. For example, if I have ‘Pickpocket of the Wharf Rats guild’, this tells other characters something about my past, but also gives scope for the types of encounters where this would come in handy. It’s pure efficiency – elegant and simple, but with a big payoff. The combat styles are likewise playful, evocative and narrative. Basically, you can choose a fighting style and this unlocks certain manoeuvres with varying results. It isn’t complicated and adds to the story. Want to sip a cup of tea whilst fighting an opponent one-handed? It’s not only possible, but your opponent is very likely to not only suffer a wound or two, but also a wounded ego as his Reputation takes a battering. In SK, a well-placed word, or particularly spectacular defeat can cut much deeper than a blade, so social combat is a facet of any encounter. Even though there are only two races – Humans and Trolls – in the world, the author has done a splendid job of making all of the different specieis/ethnicities unique. From the sinister Wights, to the feral Princes of Wolves, all have strong potential as PCs. I saw no wasted material here. Likewise, the Classes are all rife with opportunity.

The other two standout features are the Mass Combat rules and the Organisation Rules. For the former, it allows you to quickly resolve battles on land, sea and air, and at any scale imaginable, but also retain the narrative of the battle. The rules for Organisations allow you to set wide-reaching agendas for power groups in the setting, and creating your own Covens, Churches, Armed Legions, Noble Houses or even Savage Tribes and Trading Companies. The rules then show how these groups can interact with each other, lending support, launching shadow wars, manipulating each other or even growing child organisations under their banner.

The only drawback to the book is that the author does comment a few times on his poor writing style. I’ll address this with a couple of points – but firstly, let me say I saw no evidence to support his claim of poor writing. It is conversational in style, and feels like a gaming buddy explaining a really cool idea that they have enthusiasm for. Secondly, his choice of examples is excellent and the names used in the book took me back to my first Conan, or Grey Mouser books. His grasp of evoking a ‘sword and sorcery’ feel is solid, and made the book even more enjoyable. Likewise, the use of classical pieces of artwork added to this ‘old school’ feel, and the marriage of word and art is almost flawless. The feature art pieces at the beginning of each chapter gave me pause to reflect on what I’d be learning next. My recommendation would be to remove any mention of poor writing style (which I found very jarring) and simply let the reader make up their own mind.

If you are looking for something more sophisticated than ‘go to dungeon, slay goblins’, this is for you. If you are a GM wanting to challenge your PCs to be more creative, this is for you. If you are a fan of sword and sorcery and just want something new for your gaming table – then this is for you. Enjoy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spellbound Kingdoms
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Changeling: the Dreaming Introductory Kit
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2011 21:34:55

The Introductory Kit is very similar to the type of pull-out that appeared in Dragon magazine when a new game was being launched, although this provides a lot more in terms of rules. If you are trying to entice your players into a game of Dreaming then this would be a good starting point. The Kit walks you thorough all of the basic Kiths, Seemings and Courts found in the main rulebook, and covers Arts and Realms (Changeling magic). The rest of the Kit gives an overview of the game setting, the raison d'etre for Changelings and a basic guide to their society. There is enough information here for any group to make an informed decision as to whether they want to invest in the game.

I cannot speak highly enough of the full version of the game - it endures as my favourite World of Darkness game (Old or New) and offers such a rich a diverse opportunity for storytelling that you simply cannot run out of ideas. It is easy to run as a stand-alone, without encountering the other denizens of the World of Darkness, or even engaging in the evolving metaplot through the supplements.

My advice - pick this up (and encourage your gaming group to do so) and then buy the main rulebook. you'll not regret it.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Changeling: the Dreaming Introductory Kit
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Deathwatch: Rites of Battle
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2011 21:27:54

How anyone could be expected to run Deathwatch without this book is completely beyond me. It’s simple – pick this up at the same time as you buy the rulebook and you’ll very soon see why this will become the most-used book at your table-top for players and GM alike. Adhering to Fantasy Flight’s top-notch production values, ‘Rites of Battle’ offers a staggering amount of information in an easily-digestible format, extremely good artwork and a logical layout for ease of access. This is definitely going to be a reference book at your table, so I took great notice of this last criteria especially.

As for the content, it is a good ‘all-round’ sourcebook. Chapter 1 offers rules for including the Imperial Fists and Successor Chapters in your campaign and rules for designing your own Chapter. Why anyone would want to design their own, given the huge array of existing source material in the 40K universe is completely beyond me, so I didn’t see much value in this at all – but your tastes may differ. It also presents some practical advice on integrating Deathwatch with its sister games Drak Heresy and Rogue Trader, with some plot points and caveats for doing so. What was apparent was that the authors had spent some time wrestling with how to create games in which the superhuman defenders of humanity could play nicely with regular folk. I’m still extremely sceptical that such a mix is possible, but there are options presented.

Chapter 2 introduces the idea of Deeds. Chapter and Campaign Deeds represent pivotal turning points in your characters history (or even during play) and allow you to purchase Deeds which come with an in-game benefit. I was glad to see that these primarily add flavour to your character, and the mechanical benefits are quite low-powered. There are also Deeds of Disdain, functioning as a ‘black mark’ on your record and providing you with a story goal to pursue and thus rid yourself of this taint. The absolute high point of this Chapter is the inclusion of Specialities – types of Space Marines that can be purchased with xp (think ‘Prestige Classes’ from D&D). We finally see rules for the Chaplains, the Epistolary (and many more) and the Dreadnaught opened up as a player class. Yes, I initially took a dim view of this, but there is an entire section on the practicalities and drawbacks of playing one. There are some good GM and player tips that allow these behemoths of destruction to be used sensibly.

Chapters 3 & 4 don’t disappoint, covering more wargear (guns and armour) and Vehicles. All the stock standard Space Marine vehicles (like the Rhino, Bikes and Land Raider) are her, but Thunderhawk Gunships are also covered. Chaos Space Marine Vehicles and the Tau are given some exposure (so now you have enemy vehicles to attack in your vehicles, obviously). The Renown section in Chapter 5 clarifies some points in this system, and I mostly skimmed it – this will be something you’ll need once the games is well underway, and I was predominantly looking at what I can cram into my first few gaming sessions. The fact that it came after all the exciting guns, power armour and vehicles felt like a sudden (unwelcome) change of pace.

Rites of Battle wraps up with an excellent (and too short) section on Watch Fortress Erioch, with details about its history, how it basically runs and some more information on the Omega Vault (which is the ultimate lure for me – there is always tantalisingly too little information on this magnificent device). Next to the Vault in terms of interest though was the segment on the current prisoners of the Watch Fortress. All of these could spawn entire campaigns, and there has been a lot of thought put into them.

In all, if you are wanting to seriously run Deathwatch, you need this book. The scope of the content means that everyone should find something of interest, and it represents a high-yield investment for your game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deathwatch: Rites of Battle
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Dark Heresy: The Black Sepulcher
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/18/2011 18:42:54

This is the reason why I think that Fantasy Flight Games is the current powerhouse in the industry. I am seriously amazed every time that I open one of their books. The artwork and layout are always top-notch and serves to enhance the game, which is incredibly important when dealing with xenos beasts and technology - a good, detailed picture is a GMs best friend. The writing continues be be as strong as ever; consistently proving that they are as invested in this game world as any wargamer - but bringing to the table fresh new elements that make this more than simply narrative wargaming.

'The Black Sepulchre' is an all-round excellent module. It kicks into high gear with one of my favourite 40K vehicles in a first scene starring role and it captures the immediate excitement and action very well. The module is well-paced, moving from high-intensity action and combat, to occult investigation, to horror and possible insanity all in the same storyline. There are very helpful 'Troubleshooting' sections which provide advice for scaling, keeping characters on track, and even ways to weave this story into a much larger arc.

The 'big reveal' will be breath-taking for your players, especially if they figure it out by themselves (and this is supported in the game text) and sets the stage at the epic level you'd expect from 40K.

Whilst designed for all levels of 'Dark Heresy', you could easily run this with either 'Rogue Trader' or 'Deathwatch' with a little work.

I cannot wait for the next two installments as the bar has been set so high with this product.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy: The Black Sepulcher
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Deathwatch: Game Master's Kit
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2011 07:40:44

The GM Kit provides an excellent introductory adventure for Deathwatch. It gives some additional information on the Watch Fortress Erioch and some key NPCs to flesh out your own depictions of this location. There is scant more detail on the Omega Vault, but it takes centre stage in the first scene - for me, I'm hungry for as much information on this device as I can get. It offers almost unlimited levels of creepiness for the 40K universe.

The module is great and pits you against a reasonable foe, with enough techno-supernatural blend to the mystery to mark it as keenly 40K. Te objectives are challenging, yet achievable, and the battles are frequent enough to allow the action to punctuate the drama nicely.

The last section on Mission Construction is very helpful, providing a wealth of advice about how all of the elements can be drawn together to create something greater than the sum of it's parts. There is a small among of discussion about theme, and my one complaint is that this was far too short. Ere needed to be a more fulsome segment on themes, given that the 40K universe has no immediate parallels with any other genre. Perhaps it has already Ben flagged for expansion in another supplement.

There are some neat tidbits of information scattered through the book too, such as stats for Landspeeders and Thunderhawks, as well as armament stats for both vehicles and some new Xenos equipment.

Just keep in mind that despite the extra info, this is a module, so the use is limited to th couple of times you're likely to use it. Given the recent reduction in price, I'd recommend it's purchase.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deathwatch: Game Master's Kit
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Mage Chronicler's Guide
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2011 07:08:36

The 'Chroniclers Guide' is indicative of the toolbox approach that White Wolf seem to be taking with a lot of their recent products. Your mileage is going to vary significantly with this title, but the four star rating represents the breadth of uses for the material. Different groups should find at least one section that aligns with their preferred play style, but I'd advise against skimming the book. There is a lot of detail here, and some of the sections can be incredibly dense. There are a range of alternate styles for Mage Chronicles but they aren't going to be to everyone's tastes. However, it is easy to cherry pick ideas and plot devices from all chapters. The writing is uniformly good, although the artwork is the usual mishmash of quality.

The section of styles offered did fire my imagination. The Noir section was very cool, especially as I've been on a Dresden kick for a while, but you'll be able to play almost anything from here. Second section deals with some of the variant magical systems, which gives players a chance to really develop a personal style, and build a strong paradigm (for those of you who like Ascension). I'll be using the Weird Science section in my next game. Lastly, there are some insights into the developers own chronicles and their highpoints. These designers notes are really interesting as you see how the games designers reshape the product line to suit their needs. Again, a huge number of ideas just waiting to be stolen - er, reworked and attributed.

Products like this are difficult to review, because what works for me and my group may not work for yours. This is worth the price, even if you are running Old World of Darkness. On a final note, the Epilogue bears some careful reading as it provides some ambiguous discussion on the future of the White Wolf product line. Read it and speculate at your own peril - I won't say any more.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage Chronicler's Guide
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Smallville Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2011 06:46:08

It is incredibly rare to see what can honestly be described as unique. Really a lot of RPGs on the market are simply twists on a common theme and the rules sets aren't revolutionary. Enter 'Smallville'. Smallville's genius lies in a number of elements that I have not seen replicated in other systems. Firstly, there is the collaborative nature of character creation. I've always argued that this step of getting a group together should be done -as a group- and 'Smallville' makes it mandatory. The reason for this is the second point of brilliance - the whole game is hinged on relationships, and it makes perfect sense. In the DC Universe, relationships make the stories more engaging, and importantly they make superheroes more human. The way in which all of these heroes relate to the people around them builds drama, creates plot and drives character development. 'Smallville' give you the tools to make the way a character relates to their own group, and the wider world actually matter.

Want to take on Superman in his Fortress of Solitude? Fine, but he feels confident enough to have a home ground advantage, and the rules reflect this. Has Oliver Queen had an argument with Dinah? Will this play on his mind and knock off his aim in the next crucial combat? You bet. Will Clarke show mercy to Zod because he believes he can be redeemed? Definitely.

The one point I cannot over-emphasise is how good their social rules truly are. The character creation builds on the relationships with other team members (and a slightly larger cast too) and is extremely open-ended. The players imaginations fill in the 'white space' that the rules-set calls for, and the game mechanics give the players the opportunity to let their creativity really kick in. However, as this is intrinsically group-based, you will need to invest at least one evening of play into the character creation process. It cannot be rushed if you expect this game to pay dividends.

If your group likes team play they need to give this game a go. Make everyone read through the main rulebook, as it contains lots of good advice about playing as a team. It is one of the few books that I've seen that gives explicit advice on how to be a team player and how to give the spotlight to other people in your group. Furthermore, it gives advice on supporting the success of other players - something I've not seen before.

The last point that you need to consider is that the game supports multi-power-level play. It can accommodate Jimmy Olsen, Lois, Green Arrow and Superman in a single party - each person has skills and advantages which are unique and the relationships forged by all the characters give them all a reason to be and something positive to contribute.

Bottom line - this is an exciting game with plenty of creative opportunities. Even if you aren't a fan of the show, or of the DC Universe, pick this book up just based on how good the system is.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Smallville Roleplaying Game
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Paths of Storytelling: Vampire (Full-Featured PDF)
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/06/2011 04:47:08

Aside from the fact that this is an April Fool's Day product, there is a certain perversity to the product. An awful lot of work has gone into designing the book, and the 0.99c price tag is worth it just based on the strong novelty factor. This is essentially a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' story for Vampire; the Masquerade, hence my use of the word 'perverse'. The very idea of shoehorning the Storyteller System into this type of format is the antithesis of what White Wolf stands for, in my opinion. Most basic rulebooks have a similar set-up to demonstrate the type of play experience that you can expect from the system (reminiscent of the old Red Box D&D intro), but this format wouldn't have worked as a serious proposition.

However, you have to read this as a novelty product, and as such it is quirky and enjoyable. And who knows - you might grab some plot points for your next game. Well worth investing less than a dollar and an afternoon of reading.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Paths of Storytelling: Vampire (Full-Featured PDF)
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Shadowrun: Horizon Adventure 1:A Fistful of Credsticks
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/03/2011 23:57:06

Fistful of Credsticks is a good intro to what will be a trilogy of modules in the wake of the Horizon Corporations ascent to AAA status. The modules does state that they can be played separately, or together and in any order - which will be interesting to test out.

The module is well laid out, as I've come to expect from Shadowrun modules. The plot is sophisticated enough to keep veterans interested and can be scaled up or down depending on the power level of the runners and the familiarity with the setting. The NPCs are well-detailed, and the scenes offer compartmentalised information so that the GM can easily find out the varying levels of information required. The story flows logically and is a nice mix of action, intrigue, investigation and social interaction.

The module interested me from the angle that it is providing an in-depth look at how an individual corporation works, and Horizon has enough nuances to set it apart from its competitors. The opportunity to get inside the head of a megacorp isn't to be missed.

Secondly is the way that the recent Shadowrun concepts have been developed. SR has had a history of taking the believable and then twisting it to provide an engaging plot hook. This time, it is social media that has come under the magnifying glass. Take one dose of Facebook, combine with a large dose of YouTube, strain through Augmented Reality and then bake with an online, personalised 'Life Guide' and you'll achieve 'a greater good' - or at least that's the recipe that Horizon is following.

I wouldn't recommend this as a first run as it does require some knowledge of the SR world, and especially about how the technology is all-pervasive. For more experienced groups however, I'd recommend this without hesitation.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Horizon Adventure 1:A Fistful of Credsticks
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Shadowrun: Attitude
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/26/2011 05:33:34

If you're the type of player or GM who really likes to immerse themselves in a game world, then this is the type of product that you'll love.

With extremely limited mechanical information, 'Attitude' focuses on what make the Sixth World tick. The opening chapter runs you through a basic induction for Shadowrunners and has a nice twist that I'm thinking of using as a story idea in my current campaign.

You're then presented with chapters on Trideo, BTL, fashion and music. Each chapter covers the concepts from an in-game perspective, offering examples of current chart-toppers, and runs the gamut of tastes. Ever wanted to know what gothabilly is? Check out the music chapter. Want to know the plot of the latest Trideo shows? That's covered too. The chapter on BTLs is an eye opener and has lots of good ideas for future runs.

However, I found the sports chapter to be the most appealing, especially as Urban Brawl was covered in a little more detail.

There are plenty of nods to the two decades plus history of Shadowrun, with some of the NPCs from the early modules (Dark Angel and Maria Mecurial come to mind) making cameos in the book.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this book for the excellent content. My only two criticisms are the extreme disparities in the quality of the interior artwork; and as I mentioned in my review of 'War!' the writing direction of Catalyst and their obsession with including profanities in the book. I'll repeat my comments here: Shadowrun has a well established language and phrases that cover swearing that still make the books accessible to younger gamers. Ignoring this in favour of real world four-letter words serves no purpose whatsoever.

My personal tastes aside, I loved the book and will be supplementing my PDF with a print copy too.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Attitude
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