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Crimson Slayer Micro TTRPG
Publisher: Kortthalis Publishing
by Jerry [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/04/2024 21:02:59

There's minimal, and there's incomplete. This is incomplete. The second line in this "micro TTRPG" says, "This is really all you need..." Which is fine, unless you need a method to resolve attacks, or you want to know how armor works. It's possible that the "full" version of Crimson Dragon Slayer explains these things. But this version does not. Something like Microlite 20 does a lot more in 2 pages, and is also free. The presentation on this one is good as far as that goes, but you can't play a game's presentation. There are just too many free ultra-lite choices out there for this one to be a serious contender.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Slayer Micro TTRPG
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Grimhold, a GM adventure for Zimrala
Publisher: Trollgodfather Press
by Jerry [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/31/2024 17:25:50

This adventure is for Monsters! Monsters!, sister game to the venerable Tunnels & Trolls, and is by Ken St. Andre, designer of both games. Listed at 48 pages, there are 2 pages of cover, 2 pages of end matter, and a map of Zimrala (the default setting for Monsters! Monsters! The map is well done, but has no real utility in this adventure. So, 43 pages of actual adventure. This adventure is set in the eternal subterranean caverns of Grimhold. This is the home of the Dwarves, and of their leader, Gristlegrim. Gristlegrim is one of Ken's creations, and has appeared in Tunnels & Trolls products before. Indeed, it was them mention of Gristlegrim that piqued my interest. If you've played any of Ken St. Andre's "teleport" dungeons, Grimhold isn't too far off. It's essentially a series of randomly rolled locations and/or encounters. There is no map, just descriptions of locations. I'm not sure this will appeal to those who aren't already fans of T&T or M!M!. And I'm not sure it's supposed to. There is plenty here to have several evenings of adventure, and it will feel familiar (in a good way) to those familiar with St. Andre's previous works. I like it, and hope to use it as an adjunct to the legendary, controversial and rare Gristlegrim Dungeon. But it could easily be used on its own. There are essentially 11 locations here (determined by a roll of 2d6), and some of these have encounters and/or sub-tables. There is a d20 random encounter table as well. Owing to the smallish number of locations and encounters, I'm not sure how much replay value is here. Still, what is here is good, flavorful and creative. And a lot of T&T/M!M! supplements in recent years have tended to be shorter/smaller, anyway. The art is nice, though I suspect it uses AI, manipulated by artist David Ullery. It looks really good though, and is consistent in its look and feel. Overall, I like this a lot. It feels very much like a classic Ken St. Andre product. I feel that it's good value for the money, and I'm glad I purchased it. Long-time fans of Ken's work will find much to like here.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grimhold, a GM adventure for Zimrala
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Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas
Publisher: Hack & Slash Publishing
by Jerry [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/17/2024 19:05:46

Excellent reference work and resource. A, D, and D is a look at what dungeons are made of. Tables, descriptions and pictures of the many types of rooms you might find in a dungeon, along with descriptions of their purpose and possible contents. Lists of traps, and some very good writing about the nature, purpose and utility of traps. But beyond that, the author delves into the psychology of traps, from the perspective of the players and the DM, not something I've seen before. I normally don't go in for "GM advice" type of stuff, but Courtney Campbell's writing is succinct and very useful. This isn't an elitist "killer DM" screed written by someone who thinks they're smarter than you. It's a set of very practical tools that you can use in your game right now. All in all, this book is indispensable, in my opinion. As are all of this author's books. It's got me thinking of how I can use it, and that's a success as far as this type of product is concerned. Does it inspire? Does it set you to musing on how you can use it to enhance your game? Do you see how you can use it in conjunction with other products that you already have? When it comes to this book, the answer to all of these questions is, "Yes."



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas
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Microlite20 RPG Collection (2020 Edition)
Publisher: RetroRoleplaying
by Jerry [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/12/2024 17:39:31

A ridiculous amount of good, usable content, and it's PWYW. I remember buying a lot of this stuff from the author through his site. I appreciate The Black Hack and similar "minimalist" rulesets, but I don't understand why Microlite20 and its spawn don't come up more often in discussions of such "rules-lite" games. This is good, even great, stuff, well-written and thoroughly playtested. Throw the man a few bucks, and relax in the knowledge that you've just made one of your best gaming purchases ever. You won't find more bang for your buck than this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Microlite20 RPG Collection (2020 Edition)
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ZWEIHANDER RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/29/2023 20:11:19

Zweihander is a great game. It's got an intuitive, streamlined, well-balanced system. It's got the perfect mix of grimess and dark humor. It's complete in one volume, with everyting you'd need to play it for years. The book is beautiful, with gorgeous, evocative art and top-notch production values. I've run and played it, and it really sings at the table.

On the downside, the book is overly verbose, and has some editing issues. And, of course, its lack of an express setting. I say "express" because the "totally not WFRP" setting is heavily implied. In fact, I've wondered if that's one reason why the book is so excessively (and at times confusingly) wordy. In order to convey a setting outline piecemeal. Regardless, Zweihander does manage to convey a Grim & Perilous atmosphere. Magic is dangerous, battle is bloody, and the forces of evil lurk everywhere, especially in the hearts of men.

On balance, however, the good FAR outweighs the bad. I really enjoyed this game, and am currently panning another campaign.

Though I like a lot of "Grimdark" games, this is the best such ruleset in my opinion. It has a great balance of crunch and smoothness, and the various tweaks and changes to its source material mostly feel like improvements. The highly modular nature of the game means it's easy to take what you like and leave the rest.

Zweihander seems to have an undeserved reputation for being overly crunchy. Well, I'm not a high crunch guy, and I found it very manageable, from either side of the GM screen.

Likewise, I think people are too quick to call it a WFRP "rip-off." There is a lot more daylight between Zweihander's mechanics and WFRP than there is between most OSR games and D&D.

Zweihander is that rarest of retro-clones that stands on its own as a ruleset. Give it a try if you find other "Grimdark" rulesets too clunky, too loaded with metacurrency, or too spread out among different splatbooks. Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, it's a great value, and a great system. Whether you want to use it to game in your favorite established setting, or a homebrew, if you're looking for a good, gritty, gunpowder fantasy that's as easy to play as it is on your pocketbook, give Zweihander a try.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZWEIHANDER RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
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Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar Boxed Set
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/20/2023 19:15:36

This is a top-notch product. Really captures the spirit, the feel of Leiber's work. As someone who was disappointed with AD&D's attempt to bring Lankhmar to the gaming table back in the day (Jannell Jaquays' fantastic work in Deities & Demigds excepted), I can't tell you how wonderful this is to read and play. This is not a cash-in. It's a love letter. Been running this for a year and a half now. Will be running it for some time to come.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar Boxed Set
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Creator Reply:
We're glad you can see how much we love the setting, it was a labor of love. Thank you for the review!
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Beneath, the Complete Campaign - Revised Edition
Publisher: Severed Books
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/20/2023 19:03:58

This is one hell of a book. It's an OSR adventure that's definitely NOT for kids, but isn't edgy just for the sake of being edgy. There's some genuinely disturbing stuff here. Rather than being "gonzo," Beaneath has a coherent narrative. Oh, it's still "out there", but everything in here is in here for a reason. There is a story here, and a meaning behind that story. Beneath has everything you could look for in an "adult" campaign. Sex. violence, horror, adventure, and treasure. The illustrations are good, plentiful, and shocking. The creatures and items are unique. This will resonate with 80s kids and millennials alike. And that's no mean feat.

Beneath has its own mini-setting, one closer to our own past than most "fantasy" settings. To wit: it's a medieval-ish setting in which the majority of people are Catholic/Christian. This is central to the theme of Beneath, and for that reason, it may be difficult to drop into your existing game. But, if you can find a way to run this, the juice will definitely be worth the squeeze.

The maps here are very useful as well. There are larger maps, and each room or area has its own, smaller map, plus a kind of "you are here" showing where on the larger map that place is. Saves you flipping back and forth. That's clever.

This is the kind of stuff the "edgy" OSR types wish they could write. If you're looking for an "adult" adventure, where "adult" means "mature, disturbing, thought provoking, and explicit", instead of "hurr durr boobies", Beneath is for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beneath, the Complete Campaign - Revised Edition
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Ragnarok Tunnels
Publisher: speed1000 GAMES
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/20/2021 19:14:29

This is a really cool GM adventure for Tunnels & Trolls. The author has a lot of experience with this game, and it shows. T&T can be unbalanced and merciless. But Todd Petersen has taken a lot of care to provide GMs with the tools to run a challenging, but balanced adventure. The difficulty can be adjusted depending on the size and relative strength of the party, and the author has done the math for you. A great help. There are a lot of neat things in here that you won't find in any T&T rulebook, and the adventure as a whole really showcases not only how flexible T&T can be, but also how well balanced it can be with the proper GM. This has a great, old-school T&T feel. There are lots of unique monsters and treasure, but this is more than just a hack & slash dungeon. Players will need to use their wits as well as their blades, or their spells. More than just a keyed map, Ragnarok Tunnels has a unique personality all its own, while very much feeling like a classic T&T product. Highly recommended! T&T is a great game in the right hands, and this adventure really showcases that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ragnarok Tunnels
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Welcome to Mortiston, USA! An All-American Zombie Apocalypse
Publisher: Scrying Eye Games
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/05/2021 16:49:20

I bought tis specifically because it was statted out for Rotworld. It did not disappoint. Very happy with this purchase.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Welcome to Mortiston, USA! An All-American Zombie Apocalypse
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Spooktacular: A Cheerfully Spooky Role-Playing Game
Publisher: Yaruki Zero Games
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/06/2021 22:30:39

What can I say? It's a retroclone of the classic Ghostbusters RPG. Does a very good job at capturing the feel of the original. Short and sweet. Definitely worth the dough if you want to do some Ghostbusting without spending a small fortune on a copy of the original.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spooktacular: A Cheerfully Spooky Role-Playing Game
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The Tartarus Gambit
Publisher: Zoid Enterprises
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/10/2021 23:59:05

Fantastic, full-length adventure. Yes, it's system agnostic, but most of the heavy lifting has been done. It's got plenty of meat on the bone. I would have happily paid for this. Not having to is a bonus. If you're a lazy DM, like me, this is perfect. Contact has been lost with a maximum-security prison ship in the far reaches of space. For one reason or another, the PCs are going in. Fully mapped, keyed and ready to be statted in the system of your choice. Oh, and just because it's system agnostic doesn't mean you won't see a few familiar creatures. Which is both a nice little bunch of easter eggs, and a shortcut to statting, if you're using certain systems. Me? I plan on using this with Mothership. It's a neat sci-fi horror module with good production values and a fresh, yet old school feel. For the price, this is a no-brainer. And, unlike many of the free products available, this one will definitely be used at my table. Check it out, you'll be glad you did.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Tartarus Gambit
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Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Sebastian M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/16/2020 22:15:35

Fantastic little game that's big on fun and options. Whereas Fighting Fantasy (great and important game that it is) always felt a bit incomplete, Warlock! manages to feel fully featured, yet light. Warlock! is largely inspired by Fighting Fantasy, but adds some elements of that other, "Grimdark" RPG. And the combination works. The core mechanic is a simple d20+Skill, 20 or better succeeds, which is cool. Skills and careers round out your character and let them interact with the world of Warlock! And the presentation is great as well. I bought the hardback, which is compact, high quality, and full of retro-awesome fantasy art. It's very well-supported so far. I can't recommend this enough. "Grim-lite" gaming at its finest!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warlock!
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Tunnels & Trolls Rules 5th Editon
Publisher: Flying Buffalo
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/24/2020 14:24:21

First off, let me say that I love love LOVE this game. I have multiple copies of this edition. Tunnels & Trolls is a game that was designed to be easy and inexpensive, with a minimum of extra cost & material needed to play. It's fast, fun and flexible. It's loaded with tropes, but not weighted down with lore. Easy to learn, easy to teach and fun to play. Combat is deadly and often unbalanced. Character mortality can be very high. None of this has ever kept me from having an absolute BLAST playing T&T.

T&T uses either a variant of 2d6 vs. target number that is very scaleable, or a simple both sides compare and highest roll wins mechanic. It's simple and intuitive. It works well, and is easily dialed if/as needed.

Some might find T&T a little threadbare, but I find its simplicity refreshing. Easy to play, easy to run, it's a great game whose genius is often overlooked.

If you're looking for a lot of class options, or tactical depth, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a deadly earnest game that takes itself seriously, look elsewhere. If you're looking for old school fun and adventure with a healthy lashing of humor, look no further.

T&T can be played with a group or solo (don't get attached to the characters if you play solo, though lol), and is a hoot either way. There are many great modules for it, so many (including third party) that I doubt anyone could play them all.

T&T is more Lieber than Tolkien (though ot does have some of the latter's elements), and that suits me fine.

Now for the bad: There is one, and only one, spell that has a horribly racist name. I know it costs money to do so, But I'd really like to see Flying Buffalo take the initiative to rename that spell, as they did in later editions. They obviously know it's unacceptable, or they wouldn't have changed it. I know you want to do the right thing, as evidenced by your alteration of art from the City of Terrors module.So, please, FBI, go back and alter this appropriately. It's overdue. This ruleset was ahead of its time (and ahead of its peers) in certain ways, such as not making sex-based distinctions in stats, height or weight, but that spell name has got to go. Slavery isn't funny. I say this as a Massive T&T fan. Do that, and I can happily alter my review.

Bottom Line: one of the best games ever, with one glaring, jarring bit of racism spoiling everyone's fun.

UPDATE: The publisher, FLying Buffalo, Inc., has taken swift and decisive action to remove the offending spell name from previous editions of the PDF! This took less than 3 weeks. Other publishers: there is a lesson here. Also, FBI took care to match the fonts up to the existing books, so the transition is seamless! I love this game, and this publisher!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tunnels & Trolls Rules 5th Editon
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Creator Reply:
Jerry, I think we had forgotten that was even in there! T&T was published in 1978 and a lot of things have changed since then. I just wanted to let you know that as soon as I read your review I got back to the original file and have changed the name of that spell to Obey Me! which is the standard thing that wizards and mystics would call out when trying to control or hypnotize someone. So we have taken your advice and the spell name has indeed been changed. We apologize to anyone who was offended by that. Like I said the book was published in 1978. Anyway its fixed now - thanks for spotting it!
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Forward... to Adventure!
Publisher: Better Mousetrap Games
by Ginger S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/11/2020 14:54:03

Forward... to Adventure! is a fantasy roleplaying game, written by The RPGPundit, that appears to be a combination of ideas and mechanics from both Dungeons & Dragons and Tunnels & Trolls. Though, puzzlingly, T&T is not specifically cited by FtA!'s author, it was clearly one of the major influences. The other, of course, being D&D. Unfortunately, RPGPundit has failed to capture the best elements of either game. There is scant trace of "OSR" D&D's tactical elements, nor of the simplicity and whimsy for which T&T is known.

The author states in the introduction that he intended to write a game which is short, complete and focused on adventure. But the D&D-inspired bits that have been added on are mainly kludge. These things are small when taken individually (an alignment system with accompanying mechanics for one, critical tables for another, and so on...), but when taken together, they bury the simple chassis of T&T in cumbersome aftermarket parts that detract from its performance. Conversely, what has been stripped away has been done so to the game's detriment. For example, T&T's rather large selection of weapons (one of the most fun and meaningful parts of new character generation in that game) has been pared down to a handful of weapon "Categories", effectively leaving a mere 5 weapons for players to choose from! The additional (and IMO unnecessary) additions from D&D hang on the stripped-down T&T framework like an ill-fitting suit of clothes.

While D&D and T&T are both great games, I can't see why I would use this in place of either, and it doesn't really stand on its own.

On the plus side, the game is complete, with full and lengthy spell lists, and even a bestiary. It is illustrated in a style that suits the theme, digitally retouched photos of ren-faire types, from the look of it. A sample adventure would have been nice, but that's just a personal preference. It is obvious that some time and effort was put into this. At 176 pages and $3.60 (the sale price when I bought it), I can't complain. But I really can't recommend it, either. The two stars I have given it are for presentation and completeness, rather than the game itself.

Bottom line: while merging elements from D&D and T&T is an intriguing idea, the author's approach has resulted in a whole that is less than the sum of its parts.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Forward... to Adventure!
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Squadron UK - colour
Publisher: Simon Burley Productions
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/14/2018 18:33:12

Excellent game. It has enough rules to give the system a bit of weight, and its own distinct "feel". Yet it is light enough to be easily understood, explained and played. I am a huge fan of designer Simon Burley's previous superhero games (do some Googling). And Squadron UK is just as good, better in certain respects, even.

Character generation is semi-random. That is to say, random rolls, but the player has a degree of control over how the powers are developed, as they can opt to improve powers once they are rolled. Thsi is one of the great things about the system, and you will find yourself rolling chjaracters for the fun of it. The random element brings some great combinations to the table, that you may not have thought of yourself.

The power list at forst glance is not extensive, but players are encouraged to use them as a starting point, "gimmicking" them to taste, so that many different effects can be achieved.

Basic mechanic is D20 +/- modifiers, against a target number. There are degrees of success and failure. But this, like almost everything else about this game, can be modified to suit your desired style of play. Squadron UK is very customizable, and manages it without adding layers of mathematical complication. In fact, the system is streamlined compared to Burley's previous supers games, and that's a good thing.

Combat is handled in "panels", like those of a comic book. It plays very well. It flows well, and has rules for all of the clasic comic-book tropes, from grappling to being sent flying by a mighty blow!

Long-term play is aided by a system of "derived characteristics" that handle areas such as a superhero's public image, investigatory acumen and personal psychology. These can change from one adventure to the next, and have an impact on play. This nicely reflects some of the inner and outer drama of comics, and brings a sense of consequence (be it positive or negative) to a character's actions, beyond mere superheroics.

For anyone who has ever played Mr. Burley's "other" superhero game, this retains the elements that made it so beloved, while adding improvements, especially in the areas of character generation (which was already great) and character advancement.

The emulates a "comic book" style of play, rather than being simulationist. But, as previously stated, difficulties can be adjusted to suit individual tastes.

Bottom line: a fun superhero rpg with its own unique "feel", light to medium crunch, that captures the flavor of comic book superheroes perfectly. Great fun, and works for anything from one-off "beat 'em up" style fights, to extended campaigns driven by drama and punctuated by bouts of intense, superpowered fighing.

A few minor typos, but overall a great update/improvement to a classic set of superhero rpg rules.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Squadron UK - colour
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