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Non-Essential Personnel
Publisher: Black Guard Press
by Tim K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/06/2013 14:33:22

Even less fun than I thought it would be. When I first read the description for NEP, I thought “original concept, but I don’t know if it would be very much fun to play. And it isn’t. Basically, you play a nameless grunt (actually you’ll probably play several, as your characters will probably die several times during the session.) All characters have 4 stats, rated from 2 to 6. These stats are Agility, Vigor, Gear, and Luck. Agility, Vigor, and Luck are fairly self explanatory. Gear is rolled to determine if your character has the equipment he needs, and how well he uses it. All of your characters for a session will have the same stats. Basically, the Scene Master describes a scene, and then calls on the players to roll against a certain stat. If you roll your stat or higher, you survive the scene. If not, you die. The thing that turns me off about this game is that there’s very little room for role playing or creative problem solving. If the Scene Master has decided that surviving a scene requires a Vigor roll, then it requires a Vigor roll. You aren’t allowed to come up with original solutions to the problem that might allow you to roll a different stat. The game also uses Survival Tokens, Death Tokens, Victory Tokens, and Revenge Tokens. Although the rules for these items aren’t overly complex (as RPG rules go), I feel that they added needless complexity to this game. So, the game gets points for a fresh concept, but that hardly matters when it’s not that much fun to play.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Non-Essential Personnel
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Creator Reply:
Tim, Thank you for taking the time to play and review my game. I apologize for taking so long in replying. I\'m still new to publishing and only recently noticed the product review section. Let me also apologize that you did not enjoy NEP. Allow me a chance to address your concerns. First, as to the lack of creative problem solving, the game is designed for just that. As you are playing nameless grunts, the tone I am trying to go for is that your characters are not always going to be able to find a way out. Sometimes, fate is just against them and they have to make due with the poor hand they have been dealt. It is my intention that the creativity in the game comes from describing the characters\' narrow escapes from death or the spectacular ways they fail those escapes. However, I like to think that NEP is nothing if not modifiable, so if you are willing to give the game another try with a rule change that might make it more to your liking, use this alternate rule: Before a player makes a roll, he or she may spend a PIP token to shift to a stat adjacent to the one called for by the Scenemaster. Assume that the Stats make a circle with Luck and Agility adjacent to each other so a player is always allowed to select from three of the Stats assuming he or she is willing to spend a Pip token. Which brings us to the next part: If the various tokens make the game more complex than you feel is necessary, you might enjoy the game more if you simply ignore everything but the Pip tokens. In this way, you are only manipulating your fellow player\'s rolls. This will also, likely, make the game much more cooperative than the original design. Again, thank you for taking the time to play and review my game. I hope I have addressed some of your concerns and given you suggestions that might make playing NEP more enjoyable. James
Polymorph Print
Publisher: The Andonome Coterie
by Tim K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/06/2013 14:16:47

I wanted to like this game, but I can’t. A multi-genre game with a low price? It sounded good, so I thought I’d give it a try. But the combat system is just too deadly (more on that later). The basics: all characters have three attributes, rated from 1 to 4. These attributes are Body (physical actions), Mind (mental actions), and Grace (social skills). Each rank in an attribute gives the player a d8 to roll when performing tasks using that attribute. Characters also have Flairs and skills. Flairs include things like being exceptionally strong or having stunningly good looks. They give the player 2 additional dice to roll on tasks where the flair comes into play. Skills include things like driving, animal handling, and dodging; and are rated from 1 to 3. Each rank in a skill reduces the Target Number (TN) by 1. Some activities cannot be attempted by characters without at least one rank in an appropriate skill. When dice are rolled to resolve at action, each result of 6 or higher counts as a success (having an appropriate skill could reduces this Target Number by the rank of the skill.) In most cases, one success gets the job done. Gripes: The use of made-up gender neutral pronouns (sie and hir). OK, this is a minor gripe, but I really don’t think we need to invent gender neutral pronouns for the English language. Die Rolling vs. Role-Playing: Want to bluff your way past a guard, just grab a number of dice equal to your Grace attribute + any applicable flairs and give them a roll. Personally, I’ve always believed that character interaction should be handled by role playing, not die rolling. The game claims to be suitable for super heroes, but I found the selection of super powers to be rather small and limiting. Combat: The biggest gripe of all. Combat in Polymorph uses a hit location system. If the attacker scores any successes on their attack roll, these dice are checked to see which location is hit. A result of 3 or 4 means the attacker can choose the location. 5 indicates a hit to the legs. 6 indicates a hit to the torso. 7 indicates a hit to the arms. 8 indicates a hit to the head. Only one location may be hit, regardless of the number of successes, but if two “success” dice show the same location, the attacker may apply 2 hits to that location. 2 hits to the head or torso will leave the victim incapacitated (or dead if weapons are used). Two hits to either the arms or legs leave them crippled, and penalize the victim’s actions until they heal. 3 or more with to one location with a weapon will either severe are completely destroy it. In addition, any hit leaves the victim stunned and unable to take further action that round. Some might argue that this is “realistic,” but I don’t think so. A boxer who can’t take more than 2 punches to the head or the gut before going down for the count isn’t going to make it very far. Besides, I’ve always preferred more cinematic combat rules. What fun is it to play a super hero fighting for truth and justice is I’m too scared of actually getting into a fight. Bottom line: The combat rules are a complete fun killer for me. I’ll never actually play this game. Don’t waste your money on this one.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Polymorph Print
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review, it was very detailed. I wonder if you were unhappy with the Luck point system or because you missed it. Luck points stop plot-important characters dying too easily and the number of Luck points can be modified by the narrator to change how deadly a given campaign is. I've re-uploaded a modified version of the document, and hopefully the new version will explain combat and the use of Luck points in a clearer way for future readers.
Adventuring! Company
Publisher: Black Guard Press
by Tim K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/29/2013 15:27:11

I had high hopes when I purchased this product. At that time I didn’t know it was a supplement for Non-Essential Personnel. I thought it was a stand-alone humorous fantasy game where the players take the part of adventures who work for a corporation. I guess I should have read the description more carefully. Basically, your character can be any race and class you want. All characters you play for a session will be of that race and class and have the same stats. The stats and mechanics are pretty much the same as NEP. The only real difference: in Adventuring Company, failed rolls don’t always kill your character; he could just be fired or demoted. The class you pick really doesn’t matter much, because (like NEP) there’s very little room for thinking outside the box. If the Scene Master calls for an Agility roll to cross a lava pit, the wizard can’t make a Gear check to see if he remembered to pack his pixie dust, or a Luck check to cast a freezing spell. The game has some humorous commentary on corporate illogic (employees have to be laid off due to budget cuts, but we have money to bring in contractors), but is generally not much fun to play.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Adventuring! Company
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Slasher Flick: The Director's Cut
Publisher: Spectrum Games
by Tim K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/29/2013 15:22:04

For this game, players take the role of protagonists in a slasher flick. Each character has four stats, rated Poor, Normal, and Good. These stats are: Brawn: Strength and toughness. Finesse: Agility, coordination, speed, and reflexes.
Brains: Intelligence, perception and knowledge. Spirit: Willpower, Charisma, Leadership, and luck. Characters also have positive qualities (such as “fast runner”) and negative qualities (such as “day dreamer.”) A positive quality adds an extra die to a roll; a negative quality subtracts a die. Some characters have special abilities like “Dumb Luck” or “Scream Queen”, which have special effects when used. Players create their own primary characters, and then work together to create multiple secondary characters (how many depends upon the needs of the flick.) If a player’s primary character isn’t involved in a scene, he may be able to play one of the secondary characters.
Task resolution: The player rolls 4 dice of the appropriate type based upon the stat used to perform the action: d6 for a Good stat, d8 for a Normal stat, and d10 for a poor stat. One die is added if the character has an appropriate positive quality, and subtracted if the player has an applicable negative quality. The Director (GM) may also add a die for really easy tasks, or subtract a die for really hard tasks, so a player can roll as few as 2 dice, or as many as 6. In most cases, rolling any doubles means a success. The freak out check: The Director can call for a freak out check whenever a character sees anything scary. This is a Spirit check. If the player fails, the Director can have the character freak out and do something irrational. The Kill Scene: This happens whenever one or more characters encounter the killer. Step One: The initiative roll. The player (or one of the players) rolls a Finesse check. If he makes it, he has initiative, and can opt to either declare his actions first, or have the Director declare the killer’s actions first. Rolls during the kill scene: As per other tasks resolution rolls, the player declares an action, then rolls the appropriate number of dice. For each “match” a player gets (other than 1s), he earns 1 survival point. Each matching “Topper” (the maximum number for that die type), earns the character 1 survival point plus 1-3 bonus survival points. If a player rolls 4 matching toppers, the scene ends favorably for his character. If a roll generates no matches (other than 1s), the player’s character loses 1-3 survival points plus an additional point for every 1 rolled. Primary characters ignore the first loss of survival points. If the character’s survival point total reaches a certain number (usually 8), he is safe—for this scene. If a character’s survival point total falls below zero, or the player rolls all 1s, the scene ends unfavorably for the character—usually in a gory death. If multiple characters are involved in a kill scene, it is up to the Director to decide if the scene continues for the remaining characters after one is killed or earns enough points to survive.
The Killer: The killer is created and controlled by the Director and doesn’t have normal stats—although the Director can give a killer advantages and drawbacks called components. Killing the Killer (at least until the sequel): At the start of the flick (adventure) the killer is invigorated, and will stay that way until a certain number of characters are killed, then he becomes exerted. An invigorated killer receives a damage token every time a player rolls at least 3 matching toppers on a crucial check (a check that can gain or lose survival points for the character) during a kill scene. An exerted killer receives a damage token every time a player rolls at least 2 matching toppers on a crucial check during a kill scene. Each killer requires a pre-set number of damage tokens to vanquish—usually 3.
The game rewards players for taking genre-appropriate (usually foolish or risky) actions by giving them genre points, which can be used in various ways to increase their chances of survival.
A fun game if you like slasher movies and can get past the fact that your character’s chances of survival are slim.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slasher Flick: The Director's Cut
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Blood and Vigilance: Modern Superhero d20
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Tim K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2012 14:23:45

These rules do NOT work well for the serious super-speedster. That’s the first thing I noticed when I started to crunch the numbers, and my primary reason for the low ranking. A 1st Level Fast Hero with the Increased Speed Talent and 4 ranks of Super Running (3 Level, the maximum allowed) only runs about 26 MPH. (35+80)210*60/5280. This same character could run 65 MPH if the had the Run Feat and ran in a straight line. A 5th Level Fast Hero/10th Level Speed Demon with Increased Running 1-3, the Outside the Envelope Talent, and 18 ranks of Super Running could run 114 MPH, but would have to spend an action point. If they had the Run Feat and moved in a straight line, they could move 286 MPH. Impressive by human standards, but many comic book speedsters are much faster. For a character to move at Supersonic Speeds, they would have to be at least 43rd level if moving in a straight line, 108th level otherwise. Short-range teleportation works OK, but forget about anything long range. It would take hundreds of ranks in Teleportation just to teleport a mile. I didn’t like the fact that rest is necessary for Regeneration. Again, this doesn’t fit the way it works for some comic book characters. I also couldn’t find certain traditional powers: Plant Control, Dimension Travel, Time Travel, Body Transformation (Energy), and a power that would allow a hero to create duplicates of himself. The lack of Time Travel and Dimension Travel I can understand; these are best left as plot devices in a D20 game. There was very little information on gadgeters. I understand that this will be covered in another supplement, but I prefer having all my “supers” material in one place. This book copies other games (which copy a certain comic book publisher) in the way it treats mutants—making them the objects of fear and prejudice. I find this irritating. As one game designer wrote: “Mutants are good; anti-mutant paranoia is bad.” Why are mutants good? Because they save players and the GM from having to invent an origin story. (And how many GOOD, ORIGINAL origin stories can gamers really come up with.) As a matter of style, I would have listed the Ganger and Mastermind classes last, since PCs are unlikely to have levels on these classes. On the positive side, I liked many features of the Acrobat class (especially the Cat’s Feet, Nine Lives, and Evasive Dodge talents). I also liked the fact that heroes were rewarded for rescues, protecting property, and other good actions, and that they gain experience whenever a personal disadvantage makes their lives difficult. I like the fact that the new combat rules covered knockback and collateral damage. This book works well if you want to spice up your D20 adventures with short-range teleporters or other low-grade powers. For full-fledged super hero gaming—especially for super speedsters—try DC Adventures or TRI-Stat Silver Aged Sentinels.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Blood and Vigilance: Modern Superhero d20
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Blood and Fists: Master Edition
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Tim K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2012 14:19:41

A very solid work. Mr. Rice has certainly done his homework. The various styles listed here allow every martial artist character to be unique. A virtual Must Have if you want to run a tournament-style adventure (Blood Sport, The Quest). My biggest issue is an editing error: the mastery list for Professional Wrestling isn’t listed with the other styles. I also have some concerns that the Bad-Assed Barroom Brawler class and the School of Hard Knocks fighting style might be too powerful. The other issues I have with this book are matters of style; I’m not saying that the book is “wrong,” just that I would have done things differently. I would have included Hard Kick 1-3, Jump Kick, and Flying Kick in at least one of the Karate styles. Maybe this was deliberately not done in an effort to “balance” the styles. Many feats offer a competence bonus to defense based on various abilities. I’ll briefly comment on those. Analytical Combat (bonus based on Intelligence): I get this. If you can figure out what your opponent will do, you’ll be ready for it. Banter (bonus based on Charisma): Basically, constantly talking in order to annoy and distract your opponent. Fits the way some action movie heroes fight. I’d allow it, but make players role play the banter to get the bonus. Brute (bonus based on Strength): You’re big and muscle-bound, so a lot of blows bounce off you. I understand the logic, but wonder if some sort of Damage Reduction (perhaps limited to unarmed attacks and attacks with blunt weapons) would have been a better way to portray this ability. High Pain Threshold (bonus based on Constitution): basically a character is hit (a lot) during training and learns to ignore the pain. Some real-world martial artists train this way, so I understand the logic behind this feat, but (as with Brute) wonder if Damage Reduction might not have been better than a competence bonus. Poise (bonus based on Wisdom): This just seems too far fetched for me. In addition, many styles have their attack rolls modified by abilities other than strength. I’m OK with modifying rolls by Dexterity, but feel that modifying rolls by Wisdom (Aikido) or Charisma (Lucha Libre) is a bit far fetched. Maybe this was done to make non-physical abilities more useful in combat. If so, do we really need to? After all, big muscles won’t help a character pass a Chemistry test, and agility won’t help a character doing research on the net. I liked the Beam Sword Fencing styles, but noticed that in order to emulate the fighting styles of some Jedi Knights; a character would need feats from all three styles. Still, this can be easily fixed by creating a combination style. I would have called the Wuxia ability “Wire Fu”. Other KI Feats I would have liked to have seen included: 1) Boomerang Blade: Throw your weapon at an opponent, and hit or miss, it returns to you at the end of the round. 2) A Wire Fu ability that allows a character to run part way up a wall, do a flip, and land behind an opponent. 3) Iron-Arm Block: allows characters to block melee weapons without taking minimum damage on a successful block. 4) An ability that allows characters to deflect or catch arrows and thrown missile (like “Grasshopper” of Kung Fu Fame. 5) An ability that allows a character armed with a sword (or other melee weapon) to deflect bullets. Maybe a supplement focusing on Ki abilities would be a good idea. All in all, this book is still a solid work, and I highly recommend it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Blood and Fists: Master Edition
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