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Beyond the Wall - Dangers Near and Far
by David H. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2020 20:11:40

Dangers Near and Far (DN&F) is fantastic new book for Beyond the Wall (BtW). It includes the material from the last four expansions, which were already top-notch, and fuses new content together into a new beautiful piece of gaming lore. Before I address some DN&F specifics, I want to explain why BtW is so dear to my heart.

In Beyond the Wall, you start building your sense of place and purpose as soon as you make the first roll in your chosen character playbook. After the last roll, you have an unique character and several builtin story hooks for future action. The dungeon master has at least that much fun creating an adventure by choosing a scenario pack and rolling up the start of the action and the pivotal plot points. In addition, the Threat packs help add boiling danger which will plague the characters over many sessions of campaign play. This DN&F book rounds out the Threat packs and Scenario packs to give a vast number of new options and advice to build more. Two early chapters, The Village Expanded and Adversaries Expanded, are so densely packed with adventure hooks that I kept having to put the book down and go-- Whoa.

Let's talk games mechanics for a bit. BtW has three classes-- Warrior, Rogue and Mage. Each of these classes has several traits (like Attack bonus) and special abilities (like Sense Magic and Fortune's Favor). Overall, about one third of the playbooks blend these abilities into multi-classed characters, but without the usual "stitched-together" feel. The magic system is literally my favorite across all OSR systems. Mages have assess to Cantrips, Spells and Rituals which blend together into a full featured system. Each magic form has different mechanics and are equally useful overall when wielded by the clever practitioner. For example, this book (DN&F) includes the new playbook "The Lord's Secret" which is a Warrior-Mage with warrior knacks (but not weapon specialization) and mage spells (but no cantrips or rituals). Once you roll through the playbook, you may even end up with a young Brand (from Wheel of Time) or a young Falco Dante (from Battle Mage). Another mechanics note, levels are a bigger deal in BtW than typical OSR games. Level 10 is the max for all classes, but at this level your character will be at the pinnacle of power. Beyond this, your character may well be the "Gandalf" of your next campaign with new characters and new adventures.

Now let's talk about the flavor of Beyond the Wall. In short, it's everywhere-- even the descriptions of the spells and the bestiary. Yes, there is a classic "Burning Hands" spell, but the spells before and after are "Brave the Flames" and "Call the Swarm" with very evocative descriptions. Even unclaimed playbooks are storehouses of great characters and events for the players to experience. The art in all the books is varied and excellent, all work towards a feeling of life on the edge of a dangerous and mysterious wild. DN&F does not have as much art as the original BtW book, but the art present fits the style nicely. The classic OSR races are present-- dwarves, elves, and halflings. But, dangers like the faerie and goblins are more like those from the Dolmenwood setting of the Wormskin magazines. DN&F expands on the extra-planar realms by including the best treatment of "The Underworld" I've seen anywhere. This world, just beyond ours, is realm of the dead and is separated from the living world by "The Veil". Where the Veil is thin (old battlefields, graveyards, dark heart of wood, ...) the spirits and even undead can crossover. The storytelling value of this is immense. Skeletons are a barely a challenge in typical OSR campaigns. But, in BtW, no hero regardless of power can let down their guard where the Veil is thin. DN&F includes a similar treatment of the Goblin Realms, starting with a level 1 ritual "A Door in the Dark". This "frightening easy" ritual can open a existing portal to dangerous realms of the goblins and their chaotic ilk. Excellent guidance is given on creating these caverns and memorable foes like the goblin's leaders, champions and beasts. Once again, the storytelling potential of this material is vast because the smaller challenges earlier in campaign have easy mechanics to scale to tremendous dangers later as the threats build to a crescendo.

Despite the length of this review, I've barely begun to describe how much the BtW series has made me a happy gamer. Dangers Near and Far continues this fun in grand spirit. I have the hardcover versions of the previous three books, and I'd love to have this as the fourth (POD?, wink, wink).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall - Dangers Near and Far
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Paolo P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2020 12:38:33

It happens to stumble upon a game that pretty plain sounds. A game that enforce what you think is important in gaming, that makes you feel at home. Everybody has one and despite d20 and OSR not being exactly my cup of tea, Beyond the Wall is one of those to me.

In this manual, content is king. The game proposes a pretty modern and lightweight take on OSR, with some candies for nostalgic people (looking at you saving throws) and great options for the most modern-oriented players. But this game doesn't shines for its rules. Its real strenght is that it's the only game I every bought (with the honorable exclusion of Crimson Exodus) that actually delivers all and exactly what it promises.

The character playbooks and scenario packs are tools that really enpower the whole table to build something that's inherently tied and weaved into the characters' backgrounds. All, from the characters stats to places, to NPCs, is so deeply bound to what matters to the player (GM included) that you simply can't do it wrong at the table. Everyone is called to give life to a breathing world made of relations, acquaintances and memories, vibrant despite fictional.

The format allows for deep and meaningful, story-oriented casual games as well as for longer campaigns (don't miss the companion handbook "Further afield") and this really works! I read this claim so many times that I didn't really thought it was possible. Reading the manual gave me a sort of epiphany instead: it is all so damn simple once you read it, you ask yourself why you didn't came yourself to a similar format before. But don't be fooled, this is the result of the game designer taking it oh so damn right!

I won't go into deep detail: if you fall in one or more of the following categories:

  • Parents/Adult gamers with few time to dedicate to the hobby
  • Players seeking for a story-driven and player-centric experience
  • Forced into casual gaming by real life today with hopes for a grand campaing tomorrow
  • GMs seeking for great advices and inspiration on the topic above (no matter the system)
  • People who enjoy fairytales, folklore, dreamscapes etc

just buy this book (and all others in this line). You won't regret!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Thibaut C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2020 14:56:46

I've discovered an RPG gem some month ago: Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures. I'm actually playing two campaigns with this game (as a GM) and I think I can review it now :)

Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is a recent roleplaying game based on Dungeons & Dragons B/X but with some twists and a different low fantasy sensibility. One of the objectives of this game is to play with no prep (or a minimal prep). Really, it's a success. You can really create rich characters with the character playbooks and playing one of the scenario pack on the fly without having much work, on a single evening.

Theme

BtW is inspired by the works of Ursula K. LeGuin, Susan Cooper, and Lloyd Alexander. It's more a game about young people struggling for saving their homes and becoming heroes than a classic sword & sorcery game about becoming rich and powerful. The character creation and rules enforce the theme, and it's really refreshing. It's good for bringing young players at a gaming table because they play the young good people, protect their family and friends, and discover the dangerous world beyond the wall of their village. It's more low fantasy than D&D, and magic is less powerful and flashy, more subtle.

Characters

In BtW, character creation is made with all the players at the table, because they create their characters with bounds between them and are invited to create important NPC and locations to the blank village map provided. Each player picks a playbook (they are more than 40 playbooks at this time) and each playbook invite the player to roll on 7 tables to generate the character story, stats and skills in the same time. After the character creation process, all the PC have a nice background with bounds to other PC and NPC. The gamemaster can exploit this created background, NPC and locations to launch his adventures.

Technically in BtW you can play three core classes, but mix two of them for many different flavors. You have the warrior, the rogue and the mage. The warrior is what you expect, with some knacks to choose for personalization. The rogue is a better fighter than in D&D B/X, and without surprise it's a skill monkey. A rogue can be a thief, a scout, a hunter or any specialist who rely on the mastery of many skills. The mage wields the power of three magic types: cantrips, spells and rituals, but he is not bound to arcane or divine spellcasting, because magic is magic, it's subtle so it's difficult to say if a god really sends you spells or if your magic comes from another source. And the mage can use any weapon (no armor) and have d6 HP, so... it's useful from the beginning.

Rules

BtW is a nice mix between old school and modern rules. From old school D&D B/X you have the 6 stats with the classic modifiers (-3 to +3), you have your base attack bonus, XP progression chart by class, simple combat rules and the old 5 saving throws. Monsters are equivalent to B/X one, with HD and the like. From modern games you have the skills (+2 or +4 bonuses for some stat checks, who are roll under a d20), you have fortune points (sort of destiny points for rerolling dices and stop bleeding to death).

The magic system is really nice and different. A mage can cast cantrips, not potent but useful spells which don't count in your spell limit by day, but requires a stat check to not cast a fumble! A mage can also cast regular spells, who are levelless. You can cast as many spells a day as your level, and doesn't need to read your spellbook each day for memorize them, so it's not Vancian magic. And a mage can cast rituals, who are very long to cast (1 hour by level), need a stat check, but are very powerful and doesn't count in your spell by day limit. The rituals have a level, so for learning and launch a ritual, you need to be of the ritual level.

There are no complex rules here like tracking encumbrance. All is easy to understand, easy to teach, and open to quick and safe houseruling.

Conclusion

Beyond the Wall is really a nice game and my favorite OSR game at this time. The playbooks are incredibles and Flatland Games give us many free supplements for playbooks and scenario pack. The game is more a fantasy game than a sword & sorcery one, more Tolkienesque than D&D in my mind.

Review from https://anoldplayfulfox.blogspot.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall - Further Afield
by Thibaut C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2020 15:41:34

A great lesson about how to run a sandbox campaign. I've been in strugle since many years with my campaigns, doesn't find a way to make them start and grow. This book have saving my GM life ^^



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall - Further Afield
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by George G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2019 10:22:41

This game is an icredible concept. I have been gaming since the early 80s and have played more than systems than I can remember, Beyond the Wall hits SO many marks. Character creation is actually FUN for once, that alone is a revelation! The idea that I as a GM can sit down with zero prep work and have a great scenario outline, with ties the the PCs, is a God send. I have run the same scenario pack multiple times with different results each time, even having run the same scenario pack for the same group of PCs. It isn't hard to comine scanrio packs to get interesting adventures, for instance I combined one of the undead related scenarios with one from the Goblin add one, it made for a fantastic adventure with lots of twists.

The system is essentially somewhere between OD&D and Moldvay-era Basic/Expert D&D, with some modern mechanics thrown in (ascending AC for instance). I have run the game in its base form and had good results. I happen to be more of a fan of the Chaosium/BRP mechanics though, and I found it VERY easy to adapt the scnenario packs and character playbooks to Basic Roleplaying. Really only had to do a couple things; where playbook gives Wisdom bonuses, put them to Power for BRP, add some skills to the BRP character sheet, and give BRP mechanics to some spells (which is very easy to do). I think it would be nealry as easy to adapt the scenario packs and playbooks to other systems as well, so if you have a system you prefer and like the Beyond the Wall concept you could still use these pdfs.

Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Craig T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/30/2019 15:44:38

I decided to use Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures for a recent one off with my group that meets only once every few months (many of us have families nowe and time is very tight). The group consists of a mix of some experienced roleplayers and some players fairly new to roleplaying. We had 5 hours set aside for the game and spent the first 90 minutes walkign through the playbooks that each player had chosen. In that time the players all worked out their characters and got to learn the connections between the characters and the story of their village. Just that 90 minutes alone was some of the best time I have ever spent with a roleplaying game. The characters came out so deep in personality and connections! At the end of the session we have played through a scenario for which I had done almost no prep (15-20 min spent after the character generation session).

All of the players came away ravong about what a good time they had had and immediately asked when they could play it again because there were still so many areas fo their characters and the village that they wanted to explore. For example, who were the mysterious mercenaries that had come looking for one of the characters in the past and what did they want with them?

This group will be going back to the village of Last Wall again and again I feel.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Charles C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2019 11:30:49

This game is amazing!!!!! So glad I found it, wish it would've been sooner. My gaming group has been turning into a bunch of number crunching, power gaming, murder hobo's. This brought the role playing back to the table. I've bought the Hardcover book and will be doing what I can to support this game and the company's efforts. I'm ready for a kick starter or something to help fund some more playbooks and adventures. A very big thank you goes out to Flatland Games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Benjamin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2019 19:10:01

It's been a long time since I bought a game that impressed me as much as Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures. My group of D&D players had enjoyed another game (Dungeon World), but felt it lacked the crunch needed for them to get their fix. They wanted something with as much narrative focus as DW but a bit more rules to sink their teeth into.

I came across BtW by accident, and it's now a happy accident. My group has been playing this game for a couple of weeks, and the feedback is good. These guys, who are all much younger than I am, have played everything...Pathfinder, 4th Edition D&D, 5th Edition D&D, etc...and I have longed to run an old school game like I played in my youth.

BtW knocked it out of the park. My players feel really attached to their characters thanks to the playbooks and really attached to their village and surroundings thanks to the rules for them helping to create the sandbox they play in.

Worth every penny I paid. Please make more supplements. I will insta-buy anything you put out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Zachary A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/31/2018 21:51:34

I've picked through a lot of OSR styled games before and have never been impressed. Then I learned about Beyond the Wall and the unique twists it put on the concept. Powered by The Apocalypse style playbooks expanded so that they tie together the PC's to eachother and the world.

This turned what I might have passed over into exactly my jam. The quick character and game creation tickles my narrative player and GM bones just right and the expanded rules for combat and game creation found in the Further Afield book helps lay the groundwork for a more expansive sandbox style campaign.

The included character playbooks with just the core rulebook alone are nice and the literally dozens of others avaliable for free or for a generous donation give a delightful amount of options for stories and group makeups.

Though all this talk of playbooks doesn't mean it doesn't have good ol' fashion roll your stats and pick your class character creation. And here's where it gets better smooth. With only three classes, Warrior, Mage and Thief with limitless options for hybridzing the classes (with proper GM discussion of course) making the kind of character you want to play is quick and virtually painless.

I don't think I'll be drinking deep of the well of OSR games myself but this particular game is going to be one of my go to systems for the kind of coming of age, small scale fantasy adventures that I adore.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ACTION MOVIE WORLD: First Blood
by Stuart D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/08/2018 11:13:38

We had a blast playing this. I was pretty new to GMing PbtA games when we tried this. It pretty rules light - when compared to some of the more complex games. It's a great place to start with the system, but also a great time for the whole group. Creating your own terrible action movie with cheesy scenes, stupid catchphrases, over the top action and crazy stories is not only hilarious but really liberating as a group. We got to make bad stories on purpose! This is a must buy for the price and if you are a fan of this system. You will have such fun if you are a fan of role-playing and movies. Top notch stuff.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ACTION MOVIE WORLD: First Blood
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Matthew G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2018 00:52:14

Beyond the Wall and other Adventures is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best new roleplaying game I have played this decade.

Eschewing complex rules and finicky balance, the authors have returned to what made early roleplaying games great. The rules are simple and streamlined with a really nice twist on magic spells and rituals for mages.

Character creation is one of the gems of this game - it's such an obviously wonderful idea, I really can't understand why other games haven't picked it up. By the end of character creation, the characters have intertwined backstories and a shared history that just cannot be replicated by traditional means.

The game itself does not have the Cleric as the character class, but that's not as bad an idea as you might think. Healing can be performed by magic, so it's easy to imagine visiting the local wise-woman or witch to get those boils cured, which is much closer to the perceptions of those living in the West in earlier times.

If you are planning to play for more than a few sessions, then I would suggest getting the supplement "Further afield", as Beyond the Wall is designed as a pick up 'n play game without much attention to long campaigns. However, a DM worth his salt with a bit of experience under his belt could easily run a campaign from this one book.

I ordered the hardback POD version of this game, and though it arrived with slightly rounded corners, the printing is beautiful and the artwork eery and dreamlike. I will forgive the printers the rounded corners as it had to travel 6,000 miles to get to my door.

If you don't own this game, then I suggest to anyone who enjoys D&D to order it now. It's easily my favourite fantasy RPG since Second Edition AD&D.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
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Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Jake S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2018 17:11:47

Wonderful book, I will be excited to play with my college games club. With all of the free material you can get here it is well worth the price of a download. I love the ethos the writers are trying to make and the system is an excellent stripping-down of the D&D system to its basic components. The focus is on story, and I think if you and your players can immerse yourself in the mythology the game asks you to create you will have a blast!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Mike S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/29/2017 15:05:26

I truly love this system. Though it appears geared to new players and game masters and seems to be focused on single-night adventures the design method for both the characters and the environment give it a depth typically only found in full length campaigns.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Nicolas F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2017 04:52:39

This product really shines in two aspects:

  • Creating characters with an interesting, shared background, by rolling on random tables to determine your past. This ensures you have a history that includes bonds with other characters and plenty of story hooks (e.g. you rolled that your wizard mentor left one day without a word, but how and why is something you'll have to figure out at the table)
  • Providing Scenario Packs which are broad templates where you again roll on tables to determine the key aspects of the scenario (e.g. which villager is the cult leader or what does the fey king really want)

This makes the game excellent for one shots! However, besides this, the game mechanics themselves are uninteresting and uninspired. It's watered down 3.X DnD. The game apparently aims at keeping things simple to get rules out of the way, but does this poorly: somehow you still need to have 6 attributes, 6 corresponding modifiers, 5 saving throws that are totally unrelated to your attributes or the way you create your character. Worse, why do we need three different resolution mechanics? Skill checks need you to roll under your attribute on a d20, saving throws need you to roll over an arbitrary value on your sheet, and combat is d20+bonus against AC...

I'm definitely going to use playbooks and scenario packs, but I'm getting rid of the rest of the rules and keeping only the roll under mechanic.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
by Matt C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/10/2017 11:15:12

I've played RPGs before, but had never been DM until last week. Beyond the Wall gave me the perfect starting point and framework to build plots and stories around, and the playbooks were helpful for players who were completely new to RPGs. The simplified rules (compared to traditional D&D of various editions and Pathfinder) I found massively helpful, while still containing elements that I found familiar and was expecting, like ability scores, alignment, etc.

The premise of all the PCs knowing each other and all living in the same village was helpful too, and makes the world seem more real, while giving plenty of opportunities for plot hooks and motivations.

I really liked this, and after purchase I downloaded the other free materials that contain plenty of ideas for future adventures, how to build encounters, monsters, villains, and the like.

There are a few elements here and there that aren't explained perfectly from a new DMs point of view (I had to read through how hit dice worked a couple of times) or don't seem to quite work (breath weapon saving throw to dodge things that aren't breath weapons) but there are alternative rules and workarounds, or you can just adapt these as you see fit.

Overall this massively helped me to springboard back into RPGs after a break, and was a lot more accessible than many other systems I've seen.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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