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Weird Adventures
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2016 15:43:58

This is seriously one of my all-time favorite settings. Sure, there are a few big-name games with settings I enjoy, but Weird Adventures literally had me running for a notebook to scribble ideas in every page or two. I cannot WAIT to read more about this setting!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weird Adventures
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Fever-Dreaming Marlinko
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2016 13:25:41

This isn't really a traditional city supplement. Rather, it's a set of adventure locations and a ready-made web of intrigues to plug into more or less any fantasy campaign (though it dovetails most clearly with Hydra's other campaign setting books, such as Slumbering Ursine Dunes).

It's possible to run it completely straight, but there's a lot of dry humour and the sensibility is strongly coloured by Vance's Dying Earth books. Essentially, if you like Vance's sardonic innkeepers and eloquent ne'erdowells, you'll probably like Marlinko.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fever-Dreaming Marlinko
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Hill Cantons Compendium II
by Jim G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2016 10:05:14

Handy and useful compendium of material from the excellent Hillside Cantons blog. The new rules, classes, etc. presented herein are well thought out, nicely presented and fairly easy to adapt or adopt as you see fit.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hill Cantons Compendium II
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Weird Adventures
by Jim G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2016 10:00:23

This setting guide is a real gem and can be used with any edition and nearly any rules-set you prefer. The writing is crisp, clean and provides loads of inspiration for delving more deeply into The City and its surrounding environs. This is a setting full of pulpish-mystery, noirish-intrigue, and all manner of under-handed shennanigens and nefarious schemes playing out in the background, making it a smorgasboard of adventuring opportunities and perils to confront. Quite a few of the entries invite further exploration or a closer examination by player characters; this is a setting meant to be played-in. But more than that, it is fun.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weird Adventures
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Slumbering Ursine Dunes
by Rich F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2016 09:59:46

well-implemented point-crawl, perhaps the iconic example of that style.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slumbering Ursine Dunes
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Ruins & Ronin
by Simon K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2016 00:53:15

I picked up the PDF only of this product and at 80 pages (including endpapers) it represents very good value to a group wanting something like a simplified 1E Oriental Adventures for OD&D rules. The price tripped me to rate it 4 stars though if I was rating on content alone it would be closer to a 3.5 star rating, due to a couple of issues I will highlight below.

It is marked as S&W compatible but is basically playable by itself as it has a simple rule system rundown. This is one area I personally would have deleted as the bulk of purchasers are likely to already have access to one or more OD&D ruleset. The product organisation is basically a take on the standard OD&D manual with a distinct oriental adventures twist.

Instead of the fighter you get the Bujin (I approve of the name- samurai is too restrictive, closer to an occidental cavalier class) who gets a few neat proficiencies like 'follow through' strike after reducing an enemy to 0 HP. Like fighters they are a generalist martial class so could be used to portray samurai, ronin, ashigaru or bandits equally. Instead of wizards you have Shugenja, and instead of clerics you have Sohei warrior priests. The remaining race-as-class is the Half-Ogre, a neat idea for a tank that could be used much like a beserker/barbarian class. There is no equivalent of the rogue/thief class which is a shame, it would have been nice to see a yakuza or ninja class, or even a hengeyokai race-as-class fulfilling this role.

You get a nice run down on armour and weapons with a simple yet satisfying piecemeal armour system (though not illustrated, like the rest of the PDF bar the old school cover), and the bulk of the rules. Then comes the magic section. The Sohei spells are essentially cleric spells with a few druid ones thrown in, the Shugenja spells are standard magic-user/illusionist fare. This was a disappointment as with all the iconic eastern mythology around positive and negative qi, feng shui, pakua etc it would have been nice to see a new approach to magic, or even just altered spells fulfilling similar functions. No 'fire shuriken' here. It also adheres to the occidental conception of elements as earth/air/fire/water rather than the oriental conception of air/water/fire/wood/metal, which impinges on atmosphere somewhat. Sohei performing zen based magic while Shugenja use the power of tao, that I could really get on board with.

After a GM's section we hit the bestiary, which while not illustrated is quite descriptive with some cool monsters. Anyone who has seen the animations Ninja Scroll or Wicked City will nod sagely on reading this. But, perhaps in an effort to make a complete game rather than an OD&D supplement, the bestiary is padded with many primarily occidental and Tolkienesque beasties. Do we really need goblins as well as bakemono, ghouls as well as gaki, wererats as well as nezumi, and ogre magi as well as oni, which are fundamentally the same. Much better to have just put in the oriental equivalents, which have slightly divergent evolution from their occidental cousins. Also while there is some discussion of creating more godlike dragons, the ones listed are standard chromatic fare. I would rather see wingless, serpentine lung combining the functions of both the elementals and dragons listed. Sometimes, less is more.

The magic item section does exactly what it should- provide flavourful alternatives to the standard occidental list, sometimes with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Heal yourself with Balm of the Tiger anyone?? No setting information is included, but that is fine, there is general discussion of setting as befits OD&D play.

Overall this book does some things very well but misses a few opportunities. At this price the PDF is well worth the purchase by any OSR group, though you may have to draw on some other sources. Layout is very clean and neat with no obvious typos. This book is good value, a revised and expanded edition could well become a 5-star essential purchase.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ruins & Ronin
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Slumbering Ursine Dunes
by Ahimsa K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2016 13:24:04

Every part of this module is pure radness. It's a good length--detailed, but not too detailed. In a similar vein, the art is incredible, but there's not an abundance of it.

My personal highlights are the Men at Arms and Hirelings table, which, though small, are packed with some disproportionately interesting details. The bestiary adds quite a bit of the right flavor. The dunes themselves, a literal sandbox, are great although neither the Golden Barge nor the Glittering Tower dungeons inspire me as much as the rest of the book.

The War Bears are actually the coolest part though. I mean, the name alone lets you know that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slumbering Ursine Dunes
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Strange Stars Fate Rule Book
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/26/2016 13:34:56

Together with the main Strange Stars book, this would be a solid 5 stars. Having to buy them seperately makes me rate this at 4 stars.

What you get is a summary version of the core Fate rules, as well as very well done, very detailed examples of the Strange Stars clades (races), political groups and organizations.

Howvever, seperated from the art and fiction of the main book, this book came off as somewhat dry and text book-y.

Still, solid 4 stars, great example of Fate space opera/transhuman sci fi. I look forward to seeing more Strange Stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Stars Fate Rule Book
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The Dungeon Dozen
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2015 14:22:39

So lately I've been doing a bit of DYI D&D of my own, and last night a review copy of The Dungeon Dozen showed up. Where do I begin with a mammoth two hundred and twenty-five page monster of a book containing every possible random dungeon and adventure design table you as a dungeon master will need.I'm late to the party of for the Dungeon Dozen by Jason Sholtis and reading through this book fills me with dungeon master angst. Its that good of a tool kit filled with wall to wall weirdness. This is the type of book that sort of forms the corner stone of the OSR. This book clocks in at two hundred and twenty five pages of sheer OSR lunacy. The book is part tool box, part random generator, and wall to wall creative generator that covers every possible mental exercise that a DM could possibly think of. Seriously this book is that well done. The pdf is book marked and massive in its way dealing in table after table of random adventure generation. Taken on the whole and this book can be used to construct adventure encounter one shots and fully thought out adventures for a whole twenty years campaign. There are tables literally on every page and there is art to go with each and everyone of those tables; art by Chris Brandt, John Larrey, Stefan Poag, and Jason Sholtis himself. The whole book is like some vomitous mess of awesomeness but there's rhyme and reason for the material; used carefully and this is a massive adventure construction set of epic proportions. But its awesomeness is also its downfall, its hard to tell where one bit of awesomeness begins and another epic element crops up. After a nerve wracking night of research and ruin through the Dungeon Dozen, I suspect that the book is simply the author's sheer insanity and creative output with his blog's output. The sheer amount of detail and tables is truly overwhelming and well worth the price of admission. The spirit of the book is definitely old school and there is so much of it that it's awesome in its own way but let's say thank God for an index for this pdf. Had I this book when I was younger the players would have been paste in three rolls or less or mutated, or turned into any number of weird or strange results. Do I think that The Dungeon Dozen is worth your time and your efforts to purchase? In a word yes,there isn't a better resource for building your worlds, settings, adventures, adventure encounters treasures, underworld encounter, over arching mythology for a campaign full on hand tossing a roll of dice and getting on with your OSR campaigns. Basically the Dungeon Dozen seems like a crazy, over the top OSR resource but it actually isn't. With a bit of restraint on the dungeon master's part this book makes an excellent system agnostic resource. A perfect blend of old school random chart excellence and adventure design madness. Grab this book and get going on a most excellent evening of design fun. For Additional information see The Swords and Stitchery blog entry http://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/2015/09/review-commentary-on-osr-resource.html

Eric Fabiaschi Sword and Stitchery Blog



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dungeon Dozen
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Fever-Dreaming Marlinko Map Pack
by william s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2015 16:02:27

A functional map pack for Fever-Dreaming Marlinko. Contains maps of both the city itself, and two adventure locations found within (The map of Lady Sarza's Town manse is especially attractive). The PDF with all the maps together is clearly the highlight, and is functional and well made. The individual maps though, for some reason are cropped in a way that cuts off sections of the locations.

Pretty helpful for quick printing or getting an idea of the look and feel of Marlinko!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fever-Dreaming Marlinko Map Pack
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Ruins & Ronin
by Frank F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/26/2015 19:06:00

I am excited to see this game is getting support, and will be buying the revised edition when it comes out. I have hope that the writer of this series will make another great game or, at worst, an adequate game.

I am currently running a campaign in R&R and I do have to say that my group really enjoys the setting. If this changes at a later point, I will be writing a different review. In my campaign I am using some AD&D 1st ed. Oriental Adventures systems for Family ancestry, inheritance, and the honor system (with the extra stat points for a new character, if the dead character had any honor), which keeps my players from making like sociopathic samurai who just kill everything without proper reason.

I have experience GMing OD&D (BEMCI / Rules Cyclopedia), AD&D 2nd ed. Advanced, D&D 3.5, and Palladium's Rifts. I am hoping to run C.o.C. at some point. The first thing that came to mind when designing my campaign world was the 2nd ed. Birthright setting which has heavily influenced my campaign.

I really enjoy this system but do admit to having to keep mixing in different tricks and traps I picked up while GMing other systems. I did kit bash quite a few other rule systems into my campaign. With that being said, I do believe this is a solid game. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to play a light and fun campaign about samurai in a Sengoku Jidai'esque continent where demons and enemy lords are all around ready to strike at any moment.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ruins & Ronin
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Fever-Dreaming Marlinko
by Joe J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2015 20:04:12

Marlinko is a bit of a gonzo (but still very playable) urban setting that should appeal to players looking for a location with plenty of adventure hooks.

The town of Marlinko is divided into four quarters, the people of which have distinctive habits and biases. Centered around an ancient tomb that houses the Gods of the city, about whom few know anything definite, Marlinko is home to several distinctive characters who may drive the campaign into new and unexpected places.

On the edge of ambient Chaos, the town is prone to periods of riotous lunacy that may challenge the longevity of low-level players.

The softcover edition properly showcases the wonderful production of this work. It is worth the money to have the physical copy of this unique and spirited Labyrinth Lord supplement.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fever-Dreaming Marlinko
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Strange Stars
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2015 13:49:37

Every so often you come across a product that is so different than the rest it is hard to know what to do with it. +trey causey's Strange Stars is not exactly that. Strange Stars is a product so different it is hard to know what I can't do with it.

The book is a joy to look at. Yes it is only 32 pages with cover, but each page is so rich with art and color it must have cost a lot to make. Since art is important to how this book can be used it is a better investment than say page after page of text. Let's start with that cover. There are homages to late 70s, early 80s sci-fi shows and movies. I can feel the influences of Star Wars and even Jason of Star Command here. Not to mention the obvious, but loving, nod to the classic Star Frontiers. Really, I should be able to buy that as an art print for my game room. I put that cover up there with some of the best RPG covers ever.

Strange Stars is not a game itself, but a setting book for other sci-fi games. Not just the OSR-flavored ones of my last few reviews, but any sci-fi game. As a mental exercise I kept asking "can I use this in Traveller? Star Frontiers? Alternity?" most times I was saying yes.

The book starts out with a historical overview of the setting. The "Ancient times" in this case is humanity leaving "Old Earth". So already this is a setting far flung into the future.

Various forms of life are introduced, or Sophonts. This can be your garden variety human or other life form that is mostly biological, self-aware robots, or AIs. Or, most likely some combination of the above.

Really a couple of the great features of this book are not chapter by chapter but concept by concept. Free of system Causey's mind rushes down dark un-explored pathways, strange lands and truly alien worlds. BUT, and this is very important, this not so far removed from our experiences to be really out there. There are roots here. Roots with names like "Star Crash" and "Buck Rodgers" (the TV series on NBC, not the serials) and "Logan's Run". Jenny Agutter's "Jessica 6" practically jumps off of page 12.
Speaking of which, the characters here BEG to be stated up for your favorite system. Siana Elizond, the previously mentioned Jessica 6 clone, is more interesting in a picture and paragraph than some characters with pages and pages of back story. Plus I can't help but think that Elphaba Mandrake was made as a personal challenge to me!

So yes. The page count is small, but it is chock full of great ideas, eye catching art and more than enough to get you going on a campaign set out among the stars.

You can find Trey at http://sorcerersskull.blogspot.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Stars
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Hill Cantons Compendium II
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2015 17:28:03

First off, I find the Hill Cantons material to be brilliant and great, but I acknowledge that it drifts near the gonzo end of the OSR and may not be everyone's cup of tea. That said, I think this is a great product and well deserving of 5 stars if you like your gaming a bit wilder than standard Tolkein.

The cover is gorgeous, eye catching and flavorful. It sets a mood that the rest of the product follows up on.

The background material for the hill Cantons is Vancian, odd and evocative of a faerie-Arabesque-dark-fantasy world. Short and sweet!

The new character classes include some "out there" classes that may not work for everyone (like the War Bear and the Robo-Dwarf), but even they can be normalized with some creative re-skinning. The Montebank and White Wizard make a fine edition to any D&D world.

The character generation elaboration generates some great backgrounds, but also can greatly increase some character stats, so if that bothers you change it. Zero level characters is short but usable, as is the system for using stats for skill challenges.

Overall, for a buck or more you get dreams in a handful of dust.

Well worth the price of admission.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hill Cantons Compendium II
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Strange Stars
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2015 10:37:58
dieheart.net/strange-stars

There’s a lot of buzz in my G+ circles about Strange Stars by Trey Causey. So, what’s the deal?

Strange Stars is a short 30 pages system-agnostic setting book influenced by 70s science fiction and space opera. The cover should give you a pretty good impression of what the book is about. People were asking me: Is the product worth the considerably steep price for such a short book? The short answer is: yes!

The slightly longer answer is: First of all, you’ll need to like the premise. The book is full of gonzo stuff: 70s disco, psychedelia, retro space opera, influences from Star Wars and Star Trek, transhuman sci-fi and more. Next: the book only touches every topic briefly. The author explains that he took a “bottom-up” approach. He introduces characters and details and some brief overview of the galaxy, history, planets, cultures etc.. It’s choke-full of inspirational material but not an exhaustive treatise on the universe of Strange Stars.

Appearance

It’s a short book, 30 pages plus cover. The print-on-demand version is a letter-sized staple-binded booklet with a glossy cover. The cover is charmingly 70s and while it certainly is a great piece of art it is (shockingly) not the best illustration by far. That is to say that the artwork in this book is gorgeous! I can’t stress enough how nice this book looks, it’s one of these things which you wouldn’t expect from a one-man indie publisher. Additionally, the back cover also looks crazy. And it’s not only pretty to look at but also full of zany stuff. The interesting layout and design ensures that you can digest the information in small bits and pieces. I really dig the look’n’feel. The artwork and layout compliment each other nicely and at the same time manage to convey the feel of the product (retro sci-fi). It may not be an artbook like Shadows of Esteren or Symbaroum but it has the all the essential parts together. Dear readers, don’t buy the PDF, get the book.

Content

You’ll get a historical overview over the galaxy. The universe is based on our own but is set in the far future when humanity has discovered the stars. There are three category of species (called sophonts): Biologics, Moravecs and Infosophonts. The first ones are humans and similar folk. Moravecs are self-replicating, sapient robots. Lastly, the Infosophonts are A.I.

Travel works via Hyperspace Gates, some routes are easier and faster to navigate than others.

The book also contains information about different star regions and factions. There’s the Outer Rim with their native Djägga (feline hunters) or the Vokun Empire which remind me a bit of Hutts from Star Wars. There is a theocracy and there are pirates like the Zao Corsairs and criminals like Tuklo, a Hwuru Thug who looks like a blue fluffy monster pet but is an insanely strong sociopath. The Pharesmid Syndicate consists of clones from one criminal. You have the Alliance, an interspecies organization with different races. There are Yoda-look-a-likes called Gnomes and the avian Hyehoon. There are psi-users called Smaragdines. I really can’t describe how much interesting tidbits you’ll find in this work.

Trey Causey created a vibrant and unique universe with interesting factions, creatures, planets and cultures while the concepts are still familiar. There is so much material crammed into this slim book and it invites you to delve right into the world of Strange Stars. Sadly, the book is pretty short with 30 pages. While it’s concisely written, the information only goes so far. And don’t forget that it is a system-neutral supplement, so you don’t get any game stats. Further game books are planned. There will be a Fate version and one for Stars Without Numbers. Furthermore, Mike Evans from wrathofzombie has made a fan conversion for Savage Worlds.

The book ends with some random generators for Spacehauler containers, valuable artifacts, people someone wants to find, drugs in an epic stash and exotic locales.

Final Thoughts

What do I like: Where do you get a book where the space captain’s outfit is a stylish 70s disco dress, complete with a pepped collar and platform shoes, where I have fluffy blue aliens, android A.I.’s, bio clones and giant caterpillars who are renowned musicians? While the book is fuel for your imagination and crammed with over-the-top material, it still has enough resemblance to well-known fiction so that you can start right away. Strange Stars is a book which makes you want to haul out your favorite ruleset and call your friends to schedule the next gaming night. Aaaand… the artwork and layout is flat-out stunning.

What would I’ve liked to see: More stuff. It’s like a ride on a rollercoaster: exciting but too short.

The Verdict: If you like retro sci-fi, you MUST get this book (and buy the print version!). It may sound pricey, but you’ll get a top-notch product. I can’t wait for more Strange Stars-material.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Stars
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