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First Contact Team
by Quinn M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2022 20:16:59

It's well past time I did a review for this RPG. First Contact Team is a different animal than many RPGs; it really is a series of one-shot adventures, as the PCs are an elite team put together to investigate and possibly make contact with alien life for the first time in human history (or modern history maybe?).

Note; I'm at the point in my gaming life where learning a new game system is a chore, even if it really isn't that crunchy. I have run a couple FCT adventures but used a version of BRP (d100 rules). As long as a game system has a bit of grit to it and less of the pulpish heroics it should fit the FCT setting. Honestly, being kinda heroic could be fun too, but we are talking about normal humans as the PC standard. I'll say that the included game system (ORC-L or Organic Rule Components) seems perfectly functional, but I can run BRP in my sleep and that left my focus on just the adventure (and my players didn't have to worry about using a new game system either). I would say that since the PCs are supposed to be some of the best trained/experts in the world that they be built as more than just starting characters. Obviously, the FCT game system seems geared to allow for this.

There is a wealth of information for the GM to consider as they put together an alien contact scenario (or it MIGHT not even be aliens -there are other options) in this book. The biology of the aliens, the forms they might take, the environment they prefer, and how they think gets discussed at length. With each adventure intended to be a one-shot, you could have things end quite badly both for the FCT members and Earth if the alien's intentions are bad (or just badly misunderstood).

There is a weight to each adventure as the players come to grips with the future of Earth/humankind being in the balance, depending on their actions. Each PC also has a hidden motive which could be whimsical or a roadblock to the success of the overall mission. This helps add even more tension to each adventure.

Now, if you happen to be a Biochemist, you'll find that quite useful if you want to get into the details of how the aliens feed and communicate and so on. It can be a bit intimidating, but if you want to play a bit fast and loose with the science that can work too.

There are THREE adventures included in the book, all in an assumed modern or near future setting. It will be a task to create some new adventures for many GMs I think, as you consider some new circumstances, alien types, and a motivation for the aliens. In theory, a group could continue with further adventures after the first contact scenario plays out (depending on the circumstances of course) so you could run something closer to a mini-campaign. However, I think FCT really shines when played as intended -as a one chance to make a first impression adventure. It would be perfect for a change-of-pace game session, maybe as a way to give the normal GM a chance to play.

I have both the PDF and PoD versions of FCT. The PoD is a bit smaller and a bit thick at about 190 pages. Color cover and B&W interior, with minimal art but a very readable layout.

In summary, while being a series of one-shot adventures might seem limiting in some ways (character development?) it also allows for some unique experiences since anything goes. If you want a modern setting RPG to provide an occasional distraction from a long campaign, or a one-shot for a convention game, First Contact Team might just be what you need. At a current price of $5 for the PDF it's worth a look for most people.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
First Contact Team
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End Times the Role Playing Game
by Joshua W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2021 09:27:04

Angel's Citadel reviewed the ORC Edition of this product. You can find our thoughts here: https://angelscitadel.com/2021/07/23/review-end-times-orc-edition/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
End Times the Role Playing Game
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End Times the Role Playing Game
by Guy R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2021 09:33:01

Like the rest of Vajra's products, End Times is thought-provoking, original, rather dark, and absolutely choke full of the sort of passionately written, thoroughly researched gaming content that's often worth reading simply for the experience of it even when putting together a group isn't always possible. The tone is actually somewhat lighter than that of a lot of Vajra's other "big" games (it says a lot about the company that the game about sentient apocalypses devouring humanity is the upbeat one), which, combined with the streamlined rule-system and the setting requiring somewhat less of an elaborate introduction than some of the others (it may be a little harder to explain the setting's cosmology and in-depth rules to a fellow, new GM, but because players don't need to know a lot of that stuff - and, indeed, I've found that Vajra games often work best when players are kept in the dark about as much as possible of the setting, this is less of a problem) makes it accessible enough to serve as a good gateway to games with much more complexly described worlds (like Fates Worse Than Death), detailed historical settings (like Tibet) or just extremely heavy, mature themes (like In Dark Alleys). Between that and the PbtA version, it serves equally well as either a wonderful addition to an existing collection or a new direction to take one's gaming experiences.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Media
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2018 23:46:44
One of the best Horror resources I've ever read!

On the face of it, Dead Media seems to be about story seeds featuring 8 cursed objects of a 20:th century origin:

  • a cartridge for a computer game console,
  • a pin-up floaty pen revealing hidden layers of reality,
  • a film projector showing a ship wreck,
  • a Wax Cylinder recording of a conversation between a patient and a doctor,
  • an antique Mutoscope granting strengths to its (paying) viewers,
  • a talking doll telling the PC:s to take it to a murderer,
  • a paranoia inducing comic book, and a
  • a video cassette the playing back of which will show an invisible monster in a mall.

Now, the purpose is not just to allow the PC:s to run across these dangerous items and then simply destroy them. There is a meticulous background story for each of these items, and the PC:s will eventually have to research these, and in doing so they will be involved with antagonists who have their own interest in said item. These NPC:s could be part of a sect experimenting on children, a survivalist commander who would use the object to first recruit and then to extort money from his underlings, a group of persons addicted to the effects of the item who have a very good reason to do away with any outsider who has ever laid his/her eyes upon it, or the adversary could be a paradimensional monster shaped by the observer effect of said media. Pretty strong opposition, and while facing these antagonists, holding onto the item may be the only way to prevent the enemies to eliminate the PC:s. Furthermore the media may have to be used to locate and liberate some of its previous victims or it may hold the key to negate a curse already affecting the PC:s. So even if the PC:s could toss the item down a volcano, they shouldn't do so until they've uncovered its secrets.

NB. There are two caveats I'd like to stress. Firstly, while each of these eight items lends itself to a specific line of inquiry, Dead Media is not written as eight short scenarios. Instead, the object and its background and powers are laid out in detail and at the end of the chapter there are some suggestions as to how the CM may involve the PC:s in an adventure centered around the cursed item, its victims and other interested parties. Very general and sandboxy. So it does require rather extensive work from the CM in terms of writing (...or improvising) proper scenes. Secondly, these eight items are designed to draw the players into the world mythology of In Dark Allies (such as the Deserted City). This means that it's not really practical for a CM to try to port this excellent product to a different RPG setting unless it too contains this parallel nightmare world hidden behind a shroud isolating humanity from supernatural terror (i.e. the premise of Dead Media wouldn't work in the context of real world horror rpg:s such as DeltaGreen or Chill... but it may be made to work with EsoTerrorists or Changeling: the Lost or perhaps The Quick or Kult: Divinity Lost).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Media
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Abandoned
by Dan C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/26/2018 19:56:33

This is an excellent modern horror sourcebook. It's clear that a great deal of research went into this. The history and layout of the abandoned buildings and sites feel real. Some, like the cannery, even have diagrams that help the reader understand, spatially, how the day-to-day operations occurred. The horror scenarios are as compelling as they are varied--and frightening. But you can very easily cannibalize the abandoned sites themselves for your own scenarios or campaigns.

This is top-notch material, and I highly recommend it to anyone running a modern horror game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Abandoned
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Hoodoo Blues the Role Playing Game
by David M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2017 16:01:52

My RPG experience goes back to the 1970's and the beginnings of role playing games. I learned D&D from con dealers long before the rule books came into being.

Hoodoo Blues appealed to me for many reasons, so I splurged the $5 to get a full copy and check it out.

While the mechanics are a bit cumbersome, they are playable. As for the actual game matter, it is 60%-75% a "good game". It appears that while the developers tried very hard to make the game very "Louisiana" and "Southern", apparently none of them were actually from Louisiana or the South, neither did they know anyone from the areas.

My family has been in the area for over 200 years and many tweaks to the system had to be made for it to accurately reflect the reality of Louisiana and the South. I also found that many of the effects, prices, etc. were not accurate reflections of reality.

I'd love to see a Version 2 of the game that was more representative of the genre, places, etc. Untill then, I'll continue to use my rewrite of the game.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hoodoo Blues the Role Playing Game
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Fates Worse Than Death: Sunrise Hotel
by Justin P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2015 12:37:23

Sunrise Hotel is my first encounter with the FWTD setting and I'm really not sure about it yet. The story, as described above, involves a teenage runaway living in The City with other kids who spend their time trying to find money for shelter, food, drugs and alcohol. The main character, a sixteen year old named Tina, panhandles, steals and prostitutes herself to get what she wants and needs. The main plot involves her investigating the disappearance of her friend but most of the book focuses on how pathetic her life is and her daily grind to get by. There is a lot of word count devoted to her standing in lines at food shelters, panhandling, arguing with her roommates, getting drunk or high, having sex to pay the bills or get what she wants and so on. I understand that this is all to build up to her change in character toward the end, deciding whether or not she really is the Blade Queen and what she wants from her life, but there was way too much time spent spinning the tires instead of moving the story forward. As a character I found her increasingly unlikable as the story went on. She does redeem herself at points, but as a whole she is entirely forgettable.

There are some good setting elements here, such as the gangs when they are briefly mentioned, but far too much time is spent on Tina and not enough on the story, the setting or her "mission".



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Fates Worse Than Death: Sunrise Hotel
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Seeker the Role Playing Game
by andrew b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/25/2014 22:52:53

I will be writing a more detailed opinion than this one. I just bought this an hour or so ago and I cannot put it down. This company has really thought out its material. I found the book Hoodoo Blues, and though I was impressed I wanted a few more 'classes' to make it more human. These Seekers fit the bill perfectly.

First off, the illustrations were sparce and not the best, as another reviewer said just before me. The cover art is included as a seperate download. Which is fine for me. I was impressed with that one. That is really the only thing I have bad to say about this book. If you are looking for content, though, this is a wonderfully deep read.

Every part of the book has a quick summary. So if you are looking for something you dont have to just read everything to fill in one detail in the middle of a game. The system is flexible and universal. The premesis is fun and interesting. This is for a RPG with a deeper meaning... like a Kung Fu or Touched by an Angel kind of story. I will try and write a more detailed and organized break down of my reactions soon.

Both this product and Hoodoo Blues (think old World of Darkness in the deep south) only cost about five dollars. This is a very reasonable investment for the background and thorough mechanics which are laid out to enhance the gaming experience and roleplaying. There is a free version of thier Tibet game on RPGNow which is very interesting as well. This company makes something special... products which make you think and feel so genuine.

Ill add more details soon.

Peace.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeker the Role Playing Game
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Hoodoo Blues the Role Playing Game
by Andreas G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/28/2014 05:24:13

Well, this book is just awesome. For a price of round about 5$ this is a nobrainer if you have any interest in this setting. It are not the rules - which are a bit cumbersome - but the great and carefully researched background informations that make this product a great catch. If anyone is interested in a longer german review by me, check here: http://neueabenteuer.com/roleplayin-down-south/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hoodoo Blues the Role Playing Game
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Abandoned
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/22/2014 11:49:31

A glimpse behind the curtain into the mysterious world of a DrivethruRPG Feature Reviewer. We get a ton of material. We download the stuff that we think we may review. We read it carefully and if it warrants it due to our own personal idiosyncrasies, we review it. Otherwise we discard it. Some of us (me) discard practically everything, others review much more. I really only keep material if it does something interesting, or relates to a game I'm immediately playing or about to play, or a topic that I'm currently thinking about.

So when In Dark Alleys came across a while back, I glanced at it, because I'm doing a horror game right now and I'm thinking a lot about horror games and what makes a good one, and honestly I didn't really think that much about it. Abandoned appeared a little later, and for some reason I decided to check it out and oh my gosh. I am very glad that I did. This is a horror supplement that shows a real understanding of what horror is all about, so much so that I'm definitely going back to In Dark Alleys to see what I clearly missed the first time around!

Abandoned is a supplement centered around seven abandoned places: a mysterious small town evacuated by the government, a bypassed subway station, a cursed asylum, a haunted house, apartments, a cannery occupied by a monstrous liquid, and an evil tower that does not exist on Earth. What elevates it above most other horror supplements that I often see is that the monsters and awful places it presents are inextricably connected to real-world traumas, anxieties and fears.

Why is Carrie such a good novel and movie? Because of anxieties men and our society have about women and the porous borderline between helpless girl and effective woman which imposes those anxieties on us. The character of Carrie amplifies those anxieties, makes them concrete and real. Why is Alien such a good horror movie? It posits that the unknown is insanely, unrelentingly hostile, can hide anywhere - including inside us - and that the authorities are on the side of the bad guy. These are all anxieties and fears that we can still have about the unknown in our lives. We don't specifically fear an alien will kill us or that a girl's telekinetic powers will tear us to pieces even if we've been nice to her, but these horror scenarios work because they relate to fears that the real-world reader can connect with. Abandoned does the same thing.

For example, Tranquil Lake is the small town, evacuated by the government due to an alleged chemical spill. To a certain extent it's a Silent Hill stand-in, but unlike some other Silent Hill-a-likes, it recognizes that the best Silent Hill games express the psychological disconnection of the protagonists - they stumble into Silent Hill, unsure of why they're there, but the situations and creatures they face echo problems or traumas they have had outside the town. Similarly, a type of player character introduced in the game is someone who lived in Tranquil Lake and was evacuated as a child. Their strange memories and compulsions mirror to some extent those that suffered child abuse may have...and it compels them to look into Tranquil Lake's situation, giving them an intense personal stake in the matter. When we hear about child abuse we imagine ourselves as children, our helplessness, how formative those experiences are to ourselves. Even if we didn't suffer abuse ourselves, we feel anxiety about the possibility of it. We connect with characters who are compelled to find out the truth about their childhood, even if it's awful to discover.

Lots of horror games put "warnings" on the first few pages, but Abandoned absolutely needs it. These are games that call to mind childhood traumas, sexual traumas, fears about our bodies, fears about what we eat, fears of getting lost, fears of getting trapped in an enclosed space, fears of drowning...I love horror books, movies and games and I don't have a lot of actual stomach-turning moments, normally I feel glee when watching or playing through a character's horrible situations, but Abandoned had more than one time when I stopped reading, thinking "that's really scary". So I can pretty much promise you that this supplement is going to push your buttons in some way and if you don't want that, don't buy it.

The one abandoned location that doesn't have the same kind of well-directed psychological reality is the Grey Tower. This is more of a Lovecraftian Dreamlands situation, and has the problem that random exploration is punished with horrible results, so random exploration within the Tower (as opposed to trying to find out what happened in Tranquil Lake or at the cannery) is not likely to persist after a couple of attepmts, thus bypassing the rest of the material in the tower. It's the only location that's not really as well-turned psychologically as the rest.

There's also a simplified version of the In Dark Alleys system provided to make it a standalone game. Honestly, the advantage of playing a "Tranquilite" in experiencing Tranquil Lake is so significant I almost would make it mandatory. Stephen King's protagonists don't just stumble across situations - it's always related to something that happened to them in the past. More horror games should take advantage of connecting the past of the characters to the horror they're currently experiencing.

Finally, there's an introductory section detailing how to create your own horrific abandoned place, describing the mechanics of abandoned buildings and locations in the modern world, and how terrible situations may come about.

If you want a horror supplement that really understands the role that psychology plays in horror fiction, get Abandoned. At the current price (only $5), it's absolutely a steal. It surprised the hell out of me with its detail and wide variety of fears and anxieties. Now I've got to go back and check out In Dark Alleys to see if it's as good!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Abandoned
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Fates Worse Than Death: Spare Change Edition
by Asen G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2013 18:04:21

Fates Worse Than Death has become my favourite cyberpunk setting. And that's saying quite a bit from someone who has played or run basically every CP game currently on the market. But I like the game most for what it isn't, actually. It's not game where violence is often the best solution. It's not a game where everyone and their granny are totting around heavy guns. It's not a game where the system is corrupt beyond hope for salvation. In short, it's a game of neocyberpunk/postcyberpunk, and this makes the characters really feeling like real people.

I especially like the hacking rules. More than one session have had as a focus obtaining info necessary to hack into a protected system. And the game made this activity fun and rewarding! In short, try it. Hey, it's free, it's not like you've got to commit a lot! And then, if you like it, consider getting the full rules with additional setting information. Yes, despite it not being a small book, Fates Worse Than Death: Spare Change Edition is a quick start!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fates Worse Than Death: Spare Change Edition
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Fates Worse Than Death Gameplay Album
by Asen G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2013 17:53:57

It's great background during a game of Fates Worse Than Death. And what more could one want from a gameplay album?

I liked the music as well, but talking with music fans has taught me that this is, at least, always a matter of personal taste.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fates Worse Than Death Gameplay Album
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Seeker the Role Playing Game
by Brian C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2012 15:30:38

I really wanted to like this game. I really did. The premise sounds really cool and had a lot of promise. However the execution was a tad flat and, ultimately, left me feeling "Meh." Don't get me wrong, it's by no means a bad game. It just feels a little bit like a Tony Robbins self-help book. I could quibble with the organization, and layout, but it's really no worse (or better) than a lot of other games I have read. I was a bit put off by the fact that the lovely cover illo is not included with the download. In the end, it's not bad, not great, but merely OK.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Seeker the Role Playing Game
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KidWorld the Role Playing Game
by Andrew P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/08/2012 09:15:59

FYI, I haven't actually played this game yet but the mechanics at least seem sound in my head. However, the world description, background information, and rest of the text were so well written and engaging that I read through it like a novel. There weren't a whole lot of pictures but at the same time, there weren't many new concepts that needed to be explained visually and fluff pictures would have just taken up space better used by the excellent writing. I do need to warn you that this is probably the single most horrifying game book I've ever read. You can play either a blind adult dependent the mercy of sociopathic children or a sighted child perpetually on the run from insane eyeball eating adults. There are more options than that, but none are especially pleasant. After reading the book, I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares that night. Even if I wind up never running the game, it was easily worth the price just for a good read.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
KidWorld the Role Playing Game
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Hoodoo Blues the Role Playing Game
by Gary W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2011 00:37:50

As has been said before, the game enjoys a very original and cool setting, and the mechanics are generally good, the rules are deep without being overwhelming. However, the mechanics also have some serious flaws. One is that two of the character classes given, the Hag and Loup Garou, are not really useful for PCs as they more or less force you to be evil and kill innocents. Troubled, flawed PCs are great, ones that have to kill every week just to live get uncomfortable real fast. Save these classes for NPC villians.

Next, the weariness rule is terrible. The games seems to encourage the playing of Ageless, and very old characters, but if you have to subtract 1 or 2 points from your Will attribute for every decade, your will is quickly gutted unless you put a 20 in it at the beginning. As the game's magic system often depends on WIL, this is a very serious problem: your ancient hoodoo woman has no will to make hands anymore. Better to have some one born in the 1980s.

I really like the game, but would advise not using these rules when playing.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hoodoo Blues the Role Playing Game
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