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Arrows Of Indra
by Chris M. Date Added: 07/09/2014 16:02:41

I bought this product for 2 reasons.

1) I've always thought ancient Indian mythology would make an awesome gaming setting and "Arrows of Indra" does not disappoint. It's inspired me to go back and re-read parts of the India epics the "Mahabharata & Ramayana".

2) I wanted to show my financial and moral support for "The RPG Pundit" who authored this work. To let him know he's not alone in the gaming community in his disdain towards the SJW's (Social Justice Warriors) and Cultural Marxist who constantly attack him and seek to control discourse in the on-line RPG community. Keep on fighting the good fight Pundit.

First they came for the Simulationist Gamers, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Simulationist Gamer. Then they came for the Tactical Combat Gamers, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Tactical Combat Gamer. Then they came for the Old-School Gamers, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Old School Gamer. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Gwarh



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Arrows Of Indra
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Arrows Of Indra
by Brian I. Date Added: 03/30/2014 14:40:11

I bought this one in both print and digital formats, and feel I got my money's worth, easily. Overall, Arrows of Indra's an excellent entry into the OSR in a unique and fascinating way.

I definitely think the game is spot on for the author's design goals as I understand them. It's a pretty clean, self contained game with a lot of flavor that doesn't feel like (but does feel like) an early alt white box. A ton more grok-able (IMO, or for me more appropriately) than Tekumel (for instance) while having a similar sort of feel.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Arrows Of Indra
by Thorin T. Date Added: 03/18/2013 09:08:36

Arrows of Indra is one of the very few mythic India RPGs on the market today. In fact, the only other ones I know of are d20 supplement Sahasra and the upcoming mythic India game, Against the Dark Yogi. (Full disclosure: The author of this review is affiliated with this later game.)

Arrows of Indra sells itself as an Old School Renaissance (OSR) game set in ancient india. And that's exactly what it is, which in my opinion could be either a good or a bad thing, depending on what you're looking for in the game. The real distinction lies in whether you're looking for an India game foremost that happens to be OSR, or an OSR game that happens to be set in India.

Looking at the meat of the game, like many OSR games, Arrows of Indra is basically a recreation of 0e D&D with some of the kinks worked out. This includes a random cavern generator, random encounter tables where you can roll up encounters such as "Asura Demon, Class B," and random loot tables with D&D-style magic items and coins listed in gold, silver and copper pieces. All of these elements do a very good job of keeping with the old school D&D feel of the game.

Where the game falls flat is in emulating the sort of stories and feel found in Indian myth. A starting character in Arrows of Indra is very much a 1st level old school D&D character. They may have a fine and deadly time crawling through India-themed dungeons, but they're not going to be even remotely comparable to the characters featured in Vedic myths. And this will remain true even with many levels under their belts.

Another way in which Arrows of Indra fails to emulate Indian myth is when it comes to having rules to support some of the amazing feats performed by Indian heroes. Heroes in Vedic myth build bridges by shooting arrows, leap miles and rip up trees to use as improvised weapons. Nothing remotely on this level of power is supported in Arrows of Indra.

The OSR part of the design also shows up in the rules for siddhis (magic powers). These are represented in the game as special skills, that once purchased, may be used once per day in much the same way as D&D spells.

The classes in the game are basically the D&D classes with an Indian-themed veneer applied to them. The siddhi is the wizard, the thuggee is the assassin, the priest is the cleric, the fighter is the fighter, the thief is the thief, the yogi is the monk.

That said, Arrows of Indra does have a fairly extensive bestiary, featuring most of the creatures one would expect from an India-themed game, as well as a odd variety of D&D-esque monsters that made it into the game as well.

The writing for the game is clear, the editing is decent and the game also has a very crisp layout that is both simple and visually appealing. The cover art is very nice, but the interior art is… well… it's on par with 0e D&D art. That is to say it lacks the quality I am used to seeing in modern games, but perhaps it fits the OSR feel of the game well.

Overall, I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a specifically OSR game. I might recommend this game for someone looking for a specifically Indian game, but with some reservations on what to expect in terms of genre emulation.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arrows Of Indra
by Curt M. Date Added: 03/12/2013 22:58:26

I come to this game both as a veteran tabletop rpger and as a practicing Vaishnava, so Arrows of Indra is effectively the closest thing game-wise to Green Ronin's famed Testament for me. The previous two reviews do a great job of summarizing the book. I particularly like the author's approach to the caste system and to "magic" in the game [totally not Vancian]. The yogi class doesn't work for me as written because it's basically the AD&D monk. Yogis in the source texts aren't combatants. I do really like the inclusion of celestial weapons, but though there is a charioteering skill, there are not chariot fighting rules, nor are there rules for the Vimanas, a real missed opportunity. There's really a lot to like here, but I have one major beef: Krishna is never discussed as human in the source texts. He's either identified as the original personality of Godhead or as the completely realized avatar of Vishnu. Rama, on the other hand, is Krishna-Vishnu playing as the perfect human being. Also Hanuman was never king of the vanaras. He was assistant to Sugriva. Thanks to the RPG Pundit for putting this out there. Good Gaming, and Hare Krishna!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arrows Of Indra
by Joseph B. Date Added: 03/12/2013 12:13:49

Arrows of Indra, written by the RPGPundit and published by Bedrock Games, takes the "standard" 0E rules and uses them as the basis for a game of heroic action set in Vedic India. I confess I've been looking forward to this game since I first heard about it as an adjunct for my own Greyhawk campaign, and (full disclosure) was happy to receive a reviewer copy of the pdf.

Shortest version: I like this game so much that I'll happily plunk down the money for the hard copy version when it becomes available in a few weeks.

There's much here in terms of mechanics that players used to 0E or its descendants will find familiar; there are character classes (priest, priest-shaman, fighter, virakshatriya (a sort of paladin), scout (a sort of ranger), siddhi (magic-user), thief, thugee (assassin), and yogi), character races (the normal fantasy Europe races are not to be found, but we have barbarians, monkey-men, serpent-men, bird-men, and mountain-spirits) with nice bits of Vedic Indian folklore as their bases, and alignment (holy, neutral, and unholy). Nothing feels like a retread of the older material so much as a re-imagining of it because of the new mythological basis, and all is written in a very clear style.

There are new pieces to characters as well, the most significant being caste. It should be unsurprising that caste plays a large role in a game set in a mythological Indian setting, and there are both mechanical (dalits get +1 to CON and -1 to CHA, for instance) and in-game social impacts for each caste; brahmins run the risk of imperiling their family's status if they pursue a career as a warrior, for instance. The importance of family in the setting is strong, and rules for generating one's family are provided to give more background.

Combat is somewhat different than the 0E system, much more in line with modern sensibilities; the basic system is roll+modifiers must beat armor class to hit. There is an extensive section of skills which are linked to each character class; the magical effects of priests and siddhis are treated like the skills of any other class, which certainly makes for a quick, consistent, and easy system for new players.

There are the expected sections of monsters and magic items (both either taken from Indian mythology or Indian-ized versions of familiar D&D examples), but what really sets this work apart is the setting of The Bharata Kingdoms, which is a very gameified and mythologized version of ancient India. For someone like me, whose knowledge of this culture is extremely limited, the presentation of the setting was terrific, familiar enough that I could hang my hat on some things, while at the same time being exotic enough to have a very different feel from most fantasy campaigns. The sections on the Patala Underworld, a sort of cross between the underdark and outer planes, was especially thought-provoking. Rob Conley did the maps, which serve their purpose well and should be easy enough to use during play.

All this is accomplished with what was, for me anyway, just the right amount of foreign terminology and jargon. Too many settings seem to operate under the impression that all it takes to make an exotic setting is to use hundreds of weird names, but that ends up being nothing more than an exercise in frustration for all but the half-dozen die-hard fans who are willing to memorize the glossary. Arrows of Indra avoids that pitfall; a mace is still a mace.

All in all, this is a fantastic game, and it's a terrific introduction to a lively mythological setting that most people who are used to either Medieval Europe or China/Japan as their default fantasy setting would be well-served to explore.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Arrows Of Indra
by Robert F. M. Date Added: 03/11/2013 13:21:15

Once upon a time, a young DM of the old school bought a book called Deities & Demigods. Among its dizzying array of the mythos he expected and "knew" (Greek, Norse, Arthurian), there were also sections on ones he'd barely heard of. And his favorite of the Asian selections was the Indian mythos, with its many-armed gods and ascetic pacifists with real spiritual power. Wouldn't it be great, he mused, to make a campaign based on that?

Fast forward an embarrassing number of years, and the now-seasoned DM of many editions began to draw up notes for his very own homebrew Indian setting. He hit the interwebs searching for what others had done (because like any good DM, he is an inveterate cannibal), and lo, he stumbled upon Arrows Of Indra. It seemed to be everything he needed, complete with Indian races & classes, rules for caste systems, and even detailed benefits of "enlightenment."

The author of Arrows Of Indra states that his goal was to create an old-school roleplaying game based on Indian mythology that is at once exotic enough to be intriguing and familiar enough to be instantly recognizable to fans of old-school gaming. He meets the goal spectacularly.

The races are all interesting, and the classes seem to be re-skinned standard old school archetypes (the fighter, the thief, the scout, etc., are all here; the paladin is now called the virakshatriya, mages are sidhis, and so forth). This is the part that's instantly-recognizable, so much so that a reader could be forgiven for thinking at first that there's not much new here.

But read on past the char-gen and combat rules, and you get to the part where Arrows Of Indra really shines. There are some early hints in the skills section for priests and sidhis, and the enlightenment powers, and it all blossoms in the chapters on the Petala Underworld (talk about the ultimate mega-dungeon!), the Guide to the Bharata Kingdoms, and the Gods & Religion section. In these places, you really get the feel of Vedic India, and it's clear the author really knows his source material intimately. Everything a newbie needs to know about these subjects is located in one place, and there's no "homework" required.

I can to Arrows Of Indra hoping to find a source to cannibalize for my own campaign. I now find myself wanting to play the game as-is, or at least adapting its rules to my homebrew, rather than sticking to my standard of the last few years, and trying to cobble the setting together from multiple sourcebooks.

In all, Arrows Of Indra is an excellent product, and the perfect introduction to a mythology and culture than few RPGs have ever even tried to do right. Miss it at your own risk.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Servants of Gaius
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2012 00:59:59

WHAT WORKS: The way the Minions of Neptune are presented sells the book. You are given the Minions, their tactics and relevant stat blocks...and then a list of options for who and what they actually are and what they are doing, even including options like "They are time travelers come back to interfere in events". They could have been presented as a straight adversary serving Neptune, but the author blew the whole thing wide open instead.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The biggest gripe I have is some of the interior art, especially the NPC portraits, just did not feel up to par for a commercial RPG release. I'm also a bigger fan of Greeks over Romans, but what are you gonna do?

CONCLUSION: The Network System is about the only heavily skill based system that I like, so that's a plus, and like Terror Network and Crime Network before it (as opposed to Horror Show), it hits on a game type that ISN'T being heavily served right now. Combined with all the crazy options built into the game by dialing the supernatural up and down, as well as whatever route you choose to go with for The Minions of Neptune and you are left with an impressive piece of work. If only Caligula had been Greek instead, I would have been thrilled.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/03/tommys-take-on-servants-of-gaius.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Servants of Gaius
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Servants of Gaius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/18/2012 13:26:25

The Introduction recounts some of the inspirations for this game, the chief being Robert Graves's I, Claudius and Claudius the God novels, brought to the TV as a mini-series 35 years ago... just when I was taking a classical literature course in high school and discovering the pleasures of Roman history! Based in an alterate history world, this game aims to recreate the intrigue, adventure and mystery of the Roman Empire in its heyday, a heady mix to explore.

Chapter 1: Servants of Gaius goes into more detail of what the game entails. Set in Rome, the core concept is that something threatens the well-being of the Empire and of Caligula the Emperor, and the characters are tasked to deal with it... once they have discovered what it is! City-based intrigue and investigation come to the fore, although the ruleset is suited to any activities in any part of the Roman Empire if such is preferred. History paints Caligula as a self-indulgent cruel madman, but no: he was a great Emperor and indeed a god! Who would not flock to his service, seek to defend him from all ills? With a brief overview of this core plot, the discussion moves on to an outline of the game mechanics, based on those used in other Bedrock Games games - the Network System - but modified to suit this particular game. The core mechanic involves a dice pool of d10s, rolled against a target number (or another dice pool if the attempted action is being opposed by someone else). The number of dice rolled depends on how skilled you are at whatever you are trying to do, and the highest number rolled is compared to the target to determine success or failure. That explained, we hear about the general things that will have to be considered as you create your character and prepare to get to grips with Ancient Rome. This includes matters that may jar against modern minds, a fairly rigid class system and a tendency to view males and females as different. The game has been written according to generally accepted historical principles of what is known of the attitudes of Roman society - but naturally it is up to your group to decide just how historically accurate you want to be.

Next, Chapter 2: Character Creation dives right in to the detailed process as introduced in the overview last chapter. Most works by allocation of skill points, the number you have depending on the Social Class you choose once you have decided on age and gender. You will need to decide what your primary and secondary skills are, as well as a wealth of detail showing just where your character sits within society - the priviliges and obligations of the chosen class, starting money, ancestry, occupation, religion and so on. The chapter then goes into detail on each stage, beginning with a discussion on Roman names and the complicated way in which each individual had a whole string of names. This is followed by the simplified class structure suggested for the game, in which there are but five social classes ranging from Senators to slaves. Each have their advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on what the game master has in mind as well as what sort of character you are thinking of playing. There's a complex system of titles - normally, starting characters will not have a title but may earn one by their efforts during play, but if preferred more experienced characters can be created who already have a title or two.

Skills, which are pivotal in determining what each character can do, come in six groups: Defence, Combat, Knowledge, Specialist, Physical, and Mental. Most are pretty obvious, but Defence is used to protect you against attempts to influence you mentally as well as against physical attack. Moreover, unlike other skills, you do not roll them, instead they provide the target numbers that others need to roll against to attack you. Then follows detailed discussion of every skill available, including notes on when and how you might want to use it. Characters unskilled in an area are not precluded from having a go, they roll 2d10 and take the lower roll as the result. As well as 'mundane' skills, magic works in this reality, and there are a range of magical skills that may be taken based around divination, ritual and sorcery. The first two are perfectly acceptable in polite society. Note that there are no 'attributes' per se, everything is mediated via the skills you choose for your character. For those who want to specialise, to be particularly good at a given area of a skill, there is the option to spend extra points to gain an Expertise, which gives you an extra 1d10 to roll when appropriate.

Another interesting feature is the way in which Allies are handled. Roman tradition includes a network of Patrons and Clients, where those of higher status or wealth took others under their wing. Both parties incur benefits and obligations from the relationship, and each character starts out with a single Ally although he can gain more in the course of play. It is also bound up with Auctoritas, the system whereby you exert influence, gain favours and so on. Starting characters have zero Auctoritas and this develops as he gains experience and renown. A Patron should have more Auctoritas than his Clients. Characters may also select Vices, disadvantages that add to role-playing potential and garner extra skill points.

Next comes Chapter 3: Equipment. It starts with currency and typical wages for different occupations. Next weapons and armour are discussed. Unlike many games, they are not easy to get - only if your occupation is Soldier or Gladiator will you even know where to go, everyone else must role-play finding someone to make what you are after... and they tend to be expensive. Still, most characters get into brawls, so assuming you have got hold of weapons you can find out here how much damage they do. Hazards such as poisons follow, then modes of transportation. This section seems a little jumbled and it can be hard to put your hand on the rule you want in the heat of the moment. The chapter rounds off with clothing and footwear, and other everyday items.

Chapter 4: Rules describes the game mechanics in detail, concentrating on combat and on the use of skills for task resolution. In combat, there are various options depending on how deadly you want combat to be, such as allowing an automatic wound BEFORE you roll damage if a 10 is rolled when you make an attack. There are notes on healing (and dying) and the expected amount of detail on how actual combat proceeds. It is a round-based combat system, with order determined by a Speed Skill roll. Each round you may make a single Skill roll and a move action. The Skill is normally whatever attack you wish to make, Defence does not count as an action (as it is a target, not something you have to roll). If you wish, you may forego a Skill roll to take two moves or to add +1 to your Defence. Whilst combat is covered in fair detail, it is not regarded as a major part of a game that is more about interaction: intrigue and investigation however will upon occasion result in a brawl, however, or of course a bout in the arena may feature in your adventures. Gladatorial matches and chariot races are included (a must for all lovers of Ben Hur!), as are environmental hazards and more normal skill use. There's even a mechanism for abstracting Senate votes, for when the matter is not one for which characters want to make speeches, or if it is a background event when characters are engaged elsewhere. There are also notes on modifying the rules to allow for a particular gritty or an heroic, larger-than-life campaign.

The next chapter - Chapter 5: Running Servants of Gaius - is aimed at the game master, and opens with a discussion on alternate history and how to run it effectively. The default alternate history is that Caligula was a just emperor who had to defend against supernatural threats, and the game is designed to accommodate intrigue, exploration and investigation to that end. Naturally, if you want more combat, conquest or lots of arena action, you can include them. One thing that needs to be avoided is allowing too much real-world knowledge of the history of the Roman Empire to affect events in your game. Things may not happen in this reality in the same way, or according to the same timescale, as they did in the real world. Player-characters may alter the course of history, but cannot, should not do so by using their own knowledge of who did what in the real world. Change events as necessary so that avid historians are as baffled as everyone else! There's plenty of advice on melding history and imagination as you manipulate events; as there is some details on how to ease your characters into the campaign - especially if you choose to use the specific supernatural threat presented as their main opposition in your overarching plotline. The focus on investigation and intrigue do require a fair measure of preparation on the GM's part, after all it is hard to investigate something that isn't there! Intrigue works by understanding the people involved and what they are trying to accomplish, so the work for an intrigue-heavy game will be developing an array of NPCs for the characters to interact with. Ideas flow, and plenty more will be spawned, as you read through these notes as they give the GM quite a lot of food for thought. But be warned, this is not something you will be picking up and playing, this game will repay careful planning and preparation. To aid that, this chapter rounds out with a wealth of resources to mine for ideas and flavour alike - drawning on everything from modern fiction, movies and TV series to the writings of eminent Romans like Suetonius and Tacitus (which are available in translation, you do not need to learn Latin!), as well as historical texts and more.

Chapter 6: Servants of Gaius delves in a lot more detail into the core plotline of the characters being recruited to aid Caligula against a specific supernatural threat and is most definitely GM-only material. It introduces the eponymous organisation that the characters will be recruited into, outlining its structure, ways of working and resources. The mechanics of the organisation are such that it is easy for the GM to direct characters to investigate or get involved in whatever it is that he has prepared for them - very neat! There are plenty of ideas for various sorts of missions that you may wish to assign.

Next, Chapter 7: Characters provides you with a ready-made cast of important figures, drawn from history and laid out with full game statistics ready to take their place in your world. It's followed by Chapter 8: Minions of Neptune, which provides an array of ready-made servants of the opposition forces to counter your characters and their fellow Servants of Gaius. A neat element is that, whilst the threat and opposition is real, its precise nature is left to the GM to determine. Is it a foreign power? Or an individual rival for the Imperial throne? Or is it indeed a god seeking to interfere in the realms of man? Or something else entirely? You decide. And of course, they are not enough on their own. Read Chapter 9: Other Threats for everything from the forces of law and order to wild animals, politicians and gladiators to pit against the characters.

Naturally, in Ancient Rome you do not have to contend merely with other people, wild animals and more exotic monsters. Chapter 10: The Gods is a timely reminder of the interfering ways of the deities of the time. The Romans believed that they often took a personal interest in mortals and, as far as this game is concerned, that is indeed the case! Even if you do not care to have them strolling around, religion played a major part in Roman life, so here is all the information you need to run the cults and temples that feature in everyday life in the Empire.

Chapter 11: Caligula's Rome not only gives an overview of the city which may provide a base for your adventures, it also explains the history and casts an eye over what the future may hold (unless your characters act to change it). The game is set to start in 38AD but of course by then Rome had already amassed a considerable history, which the characters - as good Roman citizens - should be aware of. So here is the sweep of history, as well as notes on what life was like in Rome and indeed the rest of the Empire.

This game bodes fair to provide some exceptional entertainment. It combines a love of the period, one I've shared since schooldays, with a light touch that provides fast and unobtrusive gameplay.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Horror Show
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/26/2011 07:07:54

originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/08/26/tabletop-review-horror-show/ I’ve been avoiding doing a tabletop review for a while now. This is mostly due to my aversion to PDF files when it comes to reading. I prefer actual books for this kind of thing, because I can take them anywhere (I don’t have a Kindle.) and I like the feel of turning the pages. There’s nothing better than cracking open a good book. That, and being on a computer, I have too many distractions readily at my fingertips. I find myself checking a web page or turning on some music. I don’t do that when I read a book.

However, when I took a look at Horror Show, and saw what it was, my curiosity was peaked to the point where I gave in. This game sets out to emulate the feeling of a horror film, and I just found that idea really cool. I’ve played several campaigns with horror elements involved, but there were never any scares or tension. It was more like, “Oh no. Skeletons! And I just got rid of my bludgeoning weapon!” I was hoping this game could change that.

Let’s see if it does.

The first thing to look at is the character creation system. The first thing you do is chose a role. There are several to chose from, such as cop, athlete, leader, and bookworm. These give you a primary skill and an acquaintance. An acquaintance is an NPC your character can contact for help once per adventure. They can help in battle, open a pathway, or simply divulge information. If you play a cop, your acquaintance is your superior. If you play a bookworm, the acquaintance will perhaps be an expert colleague with vital information. After you’ve chosen your role, you can chose a career. While there are plenty to chose from in the book, the writers stress you can use anything. Each job comes with a bonus to one of your stats, either listed or decided upon by the player and DM. This part of the character creation system is painlessly simple. The next part, gets a bit trickier.

You have six different skill groups: defense, combat, physical, specialist, mental, and knowledge. You get one primary skill based off of your role, and you can chose any one other as well. The rest fall under secondary skills. The difference is in the number of points you get to spend for that category. Primary skill get twelve while secondary get nine. You can then place these points in a number of subcategories. For example, the combat skill group includes hand to hand, small arms, heavy arms, etc. Each skill has three slots that can be filled. Using up one slot costs one point, two slots costs two more points, and the third costs three more. So, if you wanted to master a skill, it would cost you six points. How these skills work is that you roll a number of d10s equal to your skill level. If you wanted to shoot a zombie with a shotgun, you’d roll dice equal to your medium arms skill. After rolling, you take the highest number as your roll, with a ten being an automatic hit while a one being an automatic miss. The same holds true for any applicable action. Trying to convince someone to open a door would require a manipulation check, making a jump would take an athletics check, etc. The exception is the defense skill set. These come with base numbers, and buying skill slots here boost your stat.

The bulk of character creation is in the skills. After that, everything is optional. You can take what’s called a “shortcoming” to give you a negative character quirk. An example is being unable to read. Why would you want to give yourself such a flaw? You get extra skill points for each one you take, with a maximum of two. I find this an interesting way to max your stats. You can also chose a motivation, which is a goal your character works toward. These help keep the story in focus and you’ll need to work toward them if possible. Finally, there is equipment. The game comes with a good sized list of various weapons, gadgets, and everyday items you might encounter, but in reality a campaign in this game might not include any or all of them. If you’re stuck in a barn with a madman running outside, I doubt you’ll be able to just pop out and buy a handgun.

An interesting aspect of character creation is the “octane level” that gets chosen. Instead of HP, characters have wound points. Every time you get injured, you take negatives to your rolls. If you take one too many shots, you’re down and out. A low octane character gets two hits before they’re down, while a regular has three and a high octane character gets five. This allows you to customize your game for the type of feel your want. After all, you can expect a high schooler to have the same staying power as a mercenary.

I’ve kind of touched on it a bit, but I should mention how the game’s mechanics work. The only dice you’ll need are d10s. That’s because the number of your skill check equals the number of dice you roll. You take the highest number and compare that to your target number. For example, if you wanted to shoot a crazed axe murderer with a pistol, you’d first need to look at your small arms skill. Let’s say you had a two in that. You’d roll two d10s, take the highest number, and compare that to the axe murderer’s evade skill. If you win, you hit. Simple as that. (Although, in order to do actual damage, you need to do another roll, but that’s neither here nor there.) The basic rule is that highest roll must be greater than target number or else whatever you’re doing fails. If you roll a natural ten, it is an automatic success, and there’s usually a bonus involved. Scoring a ten on a bully check has the opposition begging for mercy and handing over whatever information you needed, for example.

As far as the various monster, aliens, psychos, ghosts and what-have-yous that serve as enemies, the game gives you a pretty good creation tool to make up your own. However, it also gives you plenty of monsters if you don’t want to go that way. I like how they even accounted for the difference between a regular ghost and a j-horror one. If you don’t want to use them the pages are filled to the brim with various powers, spells, and abilities that can be used to create pretty much anything you can think of. The best part is that nothing is set in stone. For example, the game details rules for a spray attack, but lets you pick the damage and possible negative status effects it could cost. It’s a very flexible system designed for the DM to create the stuff of nightmares.

We’ve gotten the basics out of the way. So let’s talk about what this game does to create that horror atmosphere. In all honest, a great deal of the book is dedicated to just that. There are sections that cover setting the mood, various camp levels, and what how much information goes out. There are also large sections dedicated to giving you ideas that emulate various movies and character. For example, someone who wanted a villain akin to Michael Meyers would need to consult the mysterious subtype. Again, none of this set in stone. The game is merely giving you ideas of how to move forward with your planned adventure.

For those that don’t want to come up with the setup, there are several scenarios in the book as well. While not full campaigns, they lay the groundwork and give you an overall story to follow if you want. For example, the “Saved by the Bell” scenario is all about middle school students trying to survive a masked killer while getting no help from skeptical faculty members. If you’re struggling with ideas, these can certainly help you out.

From an overall perspective, this game feels less like a core rulebook and more like an idea machine. Sure, there is a decent character creation system, but the focus here is on creative freedom. You could very well use this setup to create a completely non-horror related game. That’s why the book includes so much information that doesn’t impact rules, but instead gives ideas on how to create a true horror film atmosphere. In that regard, the book is pretty darn nifty, although it will appeal to a niche audience. Thankfully, the game is only ten dollars, so the barrier to entry is very low. Horror Show ends up being a great find for those that have always wanted to roleplay through a Friday the 13th movie.

Which makes it totally awesome.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Horror Show
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Horror Show
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/14/2011 16:54:32

WHAT WORKS: A tested system that has depth without being too crunchy, combined with an obvious passion and knowledge of the genre. The book really shines with the Monster sections, where they provide both a number of ready made monsters as well as powers and guidelines to build your own from scratch. And yes, if you choose, you can use the Monster Powers section to make characters with special powers (like the psychic chick from Friday the 13th Part VII) or even play the game as a straight up Monsters game. Oh, and I love that cover so much.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: None of the provided Features did much for me, but they don't take up much room anyway. There are still a few places where they probably carried over a bit TOO much information from the previous Network system games, but that's a maybe.

CONCLUSION: Yeah, I doubted the guys that made me like both a mob-based RPG and a terrorist/Homeland Defense based RPG. I'll learn someday. Probably the biggest problem the book faces is that most groups probably have a go-to game for horror at this point, be it GURPS Horror, All Flesh Must Be Eaten (which is easy to mod for non-zombie horror with the genrebooks out at this point), new World of Darkness or what-have-you...and there's probably not anything in this book that just SCREAMS "ditch your go-to game in favor of Horror Show", other than being written with few, if any, assumptions in mind. For my part, even if I never actually use this to run a game with, I have little doubt that I'll constantly pull it up for inspiration when running horror games. Did I mention I really love the cover? Very strong recommendation if you like horror RPGs, and one of the strongest releases by Bedrock Games to date, in my opinion.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/08/tommys-take-on-horror-show.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Hydra
by Andrew L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/28/2010 10:36:34

Operation Hydra is a module for 2-6 novice to intermediate PCs using the Terror Network RPG rules. Based in Dallas, TX the player characters are assumed to be FBI counter terrorism agents or a mixed agency group who form a Joint Terrorism Task Force. The module is broken up into four chapters. The first contains background information, the terrorists time line and the module hook. The bulk of the module is in the next two chapters, one of locations and the other of NPCs, their stats, behavior, and knowledge. The final, short, chapter covers how to wrap up the module and its potential big finale.

In choosing to arrange events mainly by location Reuben Hinman and Bedrock Games have succeeded in building a scenario that is more like the investigative sandbox they give as their aim than the more typical "linear with a couple of options" kind. Right from the introduction your players have three paths to follow. Given the terrorists schedule and the introductory events the players should feel a sense of pace and pressure of time.

Much of the module is investigative in nature, with many of the useful clues being obtained during NPC interaction which will please storyteller players. There is a sprinkling of action, which given the lethal nature of combat in Terror Network RPG is probably all that is wise. Tactician style players will be pleased to hear that it is possible to complete Operation Hydra without the PCs firing a shot. Converting this scenario to other systems will require the GM to write stats for a medium sized cast of NPCs and to assign DCs or equivalents for gaining clues, however, there is nothing that locks Hydra to one system.

Operation Hydra is a pleasingly well designed investigative scenario.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Hydra
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