DriveThruRPG.com
Browse Categories













Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Trail of Cthulhu: Not So Quiet
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Oliver K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/27/2015 08:14:01

I had the chance to run "Not So Quiet" on a convention, only noticing it flaws while running it. I can't imagine running it anywhere but a con simply because it's hard to follow up on and so isn't suited much for being woven into a longer narrative.

Players did not really buy very much into the horror which may be a bit subtle to begin with. Their explorations did not necessarily follow the suggested outlines or find much of the connections and clues suggested in the adventure. As a clear plus for the adventure is that it did not matter sooo much if you found everything out because getting the players into the ending is not too hard, making it even more suitable for convention play.

On the plus side, the opening scene is very strong and can be staged to great effect. The same is true for the finale which engages players to enter into shared hallucinations and provides some good roleplaying and playacting opportunities.

The layout, as often with "Trail of Cthulhu" releases, is a wall of text divided in columns with little to ease the eye. Illustrations are few and of the very few in there one is even repeated. Maybe one picture in five pages. No visuals for the pregens or major NPCs. The adventure still benefits from the basic framework and structure most "Trail of Cthulhu" modules have which aids GMs.

There are many excellent adventure modules for "Trail of Cthulhu". "Not So Quiet" is below par in comparison to several others but may be of interest for groups which might want to explore the time period of the Great War instead of the usual 1920s fare from "Call of Cthulhu" or 1930s time frame of "Trail of Cthulhu".



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Not So Quiet
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Dungeon Crawl Classics #51.5: Sinister Secret of Whiterock
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Oliver K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/14/2013 08:54:57

I originally bought DCC #51.5 because it has tie-ins with DCC #51: Castle Whiterock, a mega-dungeon.

It is in general a nicely laid out dungeon, with some areas to puzzle the adventurers. And to torture them if they are not cautious. There's reward, but not excessively so, and always needs to be gained.

SPOILERS AHEAD

The adventure suffers from a few logical flaws:

It was 800 years when the gnomes owned Whiterock. They were driven out by orcs and giants. (See DCC #51.) However, in one area the remains of a drow scout are found under a tunnel collapsed at this time. The drow arrived a full 120 years later according to the timeline. Furthermore, the scout carries a map depicting the Whiterock dungeon. It is identical with the one found in the DCC #51 module, but without the descriptors. The scout could not have mapped all these areas, some of them not existing 800 years ago nor during the time of the drow invasion. In between several factions made changes to the underground complex, giving it the shape it is in in that year in which the adventurers arrive.

I highly recommend leaving that whole map thing out.

Also, the structure of the dungeon does not befit fully the background story. The dungeon itself is structured logically enough. The players are unlikely to learn the full backstory anyway, as in other DCC adventures. It exists for the GM to fill in missing pieces in terms of atmosphere and structure.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #51.5: Sinister Secret of Whiterock
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Spark Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Genesis of Legend Publishing
by Oliver K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/30/2013 07:13:53

I backed Spark in its Kickstarter and got a chance to read and play the finished product soon after it was released.

The game itself is well-explained and has simple, clear and well-explained rules, showing good workmanship.

While the rules may be elegant and simple, mastering Spark is not for everyone. Spark puts world- and storybuilding in the hands of everybody at the table. Only if all participants can handle that, Spark will flow well. The good news is - you learn this while you play Spark.

In Spark, at least with a prepared setting world, you begin by selecting the beliefs in the world that you want to explore as a group. Then some factions to represent these beliefs. You define some basic stats for the GM that he can roll on. And finally you create some ties between those factions. It's all in the book, the process is explained very well.

Then you define characters - by chosing your own beliefs, ties, stats and skills. Spark knows only four stats: Body, Mind, Heart and Spark. The physical, mental and emotional aptitude to influence his or her story directly, plus the Spark - the ability of the player to shape the world and story surrounding the character. Spark is a meta-gaming attribute. Inexperienced players do have problems with Spark, because the Spark attribute is intended to allow you to shape the story. Unfortunately you can also use it to nullify challenges the game master tries to create before they arise. If you're stuck in thinking "I have to protect my character at all cost" you're tempted to use your Spark attribute to prevent the GM from creating challenges. And then not much at all happens.

So, playing Spark requires players who want things to happen - including to their characters. Spark invites you to put the notion of character safety aside and make the story and the beliefs king. This supported well by the gaming mechanisms in that you can only take damage when you really want to influence things so hard that you would actually rather take harm than let one failed roll stand as it is.

Because rolls play a different role in Spark. Everybody is allowed to make declarations - you can boldly state pretty much anything and if nobody at the table objects it will become game world fact. So if you declare you make a triple salto jump over a canyon and no one - including the GM - objects, then that happens. If somebody objects, you're rolling out a conflict. You roll the needed attributes and skills your action requires, but the GM might for example roll against you and state that you fall into the canyon because it's too wide - a physical danger, so the GM would roll his physical attribute. Highest roll usually shapes the story, but there are rules for taking damage to increase the result of your roll or for escalating the roll.

Rolls then usually only happen if the people at the table have different ideas of where the story should go. Sometimes this is the GM to make the game more challenging. In principle a game without rolls would be possible. Only that usually some dynamics exist because of the various factions, beliefs and ties that put different characters, and possibly their players at odds. So, the rolls exist not to determine the fate of a player. You can narrate that perfectly fine without rolling. The rolls exist to determine the story outcome and twists.

This is a lot of freedom, and if you appreciate story-telling freedom, you will enjoy Spark. It's not something you can expect to unpack at the gaming table and to work right out of the box with most established RPG groups. It takes a bit getting used to. But if you accept the challenge that the Spark style of playing and storytelling presents, you might find it to be very rewarding.

For the would-be world creators Spark is a gem. For my own sessions I wrote a Spark / Fallout setting within less than two days and it was ready for play. The process of creating setting worlds is well-documented and fun. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spark Roleplaying Game
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Oliver K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/22/2012 05:49:20

I have to say, I really love this adventure module. It's a very nice read. The Mythos entities and the story befit each other, there's plenty to spark players' imagination, well-described. It just left me with the impression that the author had a good grasp on Lovecraftian storytelling. I certainly would like to introduce some players to this one, kudos!

In a departure from standard rules, all clues require a spend. This has one advantage - some investigators have similar skills, and no one can hog the spotlight forever given this little scenario rule. "Driving yourself crazy" is also a departure from the standard rules, and I'm not sure how that would play out - it could add to the fun or kill the entire atmosphere of the whole game. Best go with what you think suits your players, it's optional after all.

A little oddity is the selection of investigators coming with it. As this is no conversion product, but made for Trail of Cthulhu, it kind of surprised me that the investigators did not seem to match the rules. There's 3 female investigators vs. 2 male ones, which typically requires creating more investigators. The distribution of skill points seemed a bit arbitrary - the nun had the best credit rating, and almost none had their required minimum rating. Also, the naive, amiable nun was streetwise... Similarly, the alienist had no psychoanalysis skill, and also no first aid skill either (but Medicine at 4). Equipment was left out, too.

I liked the conception of the investigators, though. The descriptions were top notch, I would love to play the "synaesthetic composer" in a roleplaying game. The idea is definitely a keeper and well thought out.

So, best build your own investigators for this one (it doesn't take long, anyway), you won't regret it. Or go with the ones included, their "faults" will hardly impact gameplay, I'd guess.

The adventure module itself, the artwork, the basic concept, the ideas, the writing certainly will reward your spending, and for currently 6.95US$ (or less in a bundle) it's well worth buying.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 1 to 4 (of 4 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
Back
0 items
 Gift Certificates