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Through the Veil Part 2
Publisher: Spica Publishing
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2013 08:17:23

THAT WAS AMAZING! I mean, wow. Adventure, violence, danger ...

... opportunities for even the most gun-crazy, psychopathic group of adventurers to let off all the steam they might ever want to

... opportunities for the most thoughtful group to avoid most of the worst of the trouble

And none of it seemed like a railroad or contrived.

I loved it! John Wayne would approve.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through the Veil Part 2
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Through the Veil Part 3
Publisher: Spica Publishing
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2013 08:15:11

Interesting. An all-is-not-as-it-seems adventure.

... and a moral choice. ... and an emotional drama sub-plot ... and lots of hints

Overall, a great thinking man's adventure and a chance to be a Big Damn Hero.

I like it, but a more shoot them up group might find it a little slow ... although a group making all-the-wrong-moves could find enough action to turn anyone pale (nothing like going to war with the marines to get your blood flowing).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through the Veil Part 3
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Through the Veil Part 4
Publisher: Spica Publishing
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2013 08:05:54

The fourth part of the series reminds us that sometimes a landing is just a landing, sometimes a short stopover to refuel is just a short stopover to refuel, and sometimes a routine action ... is anything but routine. As part of an 'Epic Series', it makes sense that not every world you stop at is a struggle to survive. Sometimes life is about just getting through the normal moments.

The shortest installment so far, I am not quite sure how I feel about this adventure. I loved the way it turned a typically routine action into a white knuckled struggle to survive, and played on primal fears of being alone in the dark when something is just not quite right. I felt a little of that mixed relief and disappointment when you discover that the 'monster' in your closet is really just a sweater. The overall adventure series probably needed a little breather between life and death decision adventures, without getting dull, so I liked it overall.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars because I thought that the second world, Epsilon Cygnii, needed just a little more. It hints that there is a vast unexplored world waiting for the crew to get out there and explore, pushing the boundaries of exploration, but then leaves all of the work of even coming up with ideas to the referee. Like a Sunday without the whipped cream and cherry, it just needed a few short suggestions to really finish off the adventure.

Overall, a great product with lots to offer a referee, both as an adventure and as inspiration for your own adventures.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Through the Veil Part 4
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Through the Veil Part 5
Publisher: Spica Publishing
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2013 07:18:43

If you are reading a review of part 5, you are probably already familiar with the series and know just how good it is.

So without spoiling the story, it may surprise you to learn that one of my favorite parts is the meeting with Morey. Too often adventures have an ‘everything always happens just in time' character to them. While this is mostly unavoidable when it comes to creating 'adventure', that is not really how life goes. In the real world, things don't always work out like you planned and the 'encounter' with Morey creates both that sense of 'this is a real place' and a hint that there will be a meeting with Morey at some future point ... dangling that bait gets the players hooked on the reality of the setting.

The second thing that I really liked was the way it creates 'tension' and 'excitement' without lots of die rolls. Nobody is shooting at you. It is not about trying to make a successful task roll to avoid death. As far as I can see, this adventure could be completed by a group of middle-school students (not as players but as the actual characters) since every task is fairly routine (physically speaking). It is the advice for the referee and the innate drama of the circumstance that makes this one of the most memorable adventures I have read in a long time.

Your Spacer Character could sit around a table in a Middle Earth Tavern, retelling this story to a group of Rangers, Knights and Wizards and they would be spellbound by the excitement of YOUR adventure. There was nothing 'second best' about any of this adventure. A well deserved 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through the Veil Part 5
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System Book 2: Xibalba
Publisher: Spica Publishing
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/04/2013 10:02:40

“System Book 2: Xibalba is the second in a series of books by Spica Publishing that present a detailed planetary system with scientifically accurate physical data and an interesting setting to enable Referees to run exciting adventures there.”

This brief statement from the introduction sums up why I really like this product … it delivers on that promise. Too many adventures seem to start with an Earth-like world with giant purple dinosaur hampsters (or some other credibility stretching combination of “animal”, “plant/insect” and “color”) and a world that has been settled for thousands of years and “was, is, and forever more shall be” pretty much what you see right now. When you arrive at Xibalba, you get a sense that you are visiting a real place with a living history at a specific point in time. If you had visited this place 20 years ago, you would have found a very different place than it is today. You suspect that if you return in another 20 years, you will find it has continued to change and evolve and grow.

Since the book is divided into three sections, it seems reasonable to review each of the sections in order:

INTRODUCTION After the Color Cover and Title/Credits/Contents page, is a one page introduction. There are two things that a potential buyer should know from the introduction:

First, there are some other books that might be useful: Traveller Main Book would be helpful for running Xibalba with the Traveller rules system. The rules on asteroid mining in System Book 1: Katringa would be useful if the referee wants to stay in Xibalba for a while. Xibalba is compatible with the larger Outer Veil setting by Spica Publishing.

Second, “these books can be used for any science fiction role playing game as the specific rules involved have been kept to a minimum.” So you need none of the books listed above to use and enjoy Xibalba. Any rules set that will let you visit another star system will work … it is that system neutral.

THE XIBALBA SYSTEM Immediately after the introduction is a full page summary of the entire Xibalba system. If you are like me and things like “an A1 V star” mean nothing to you without siting down with wikipedia (far too much work), then you will like the short paragraphs at the top of the page. I found “Xibalba is a bleak, empty system consisting of three charred rockballs, a dispersed asteroid belt and a superjovian gas giant orbiting the cooling corpse of a star” to be one of the most useful sentences in the entire book. In one short statement it paints a picture of the system that I can offer to players that is far more vivid and provoking of an emotional state and mental image than many strings of hexadecimal planetary data (like most Traveller star systems are described with). Along with the text overview, I appreciated the color image of the solar system that clearly identifies the orbits of the major planets and gas giant, the staggering width of the asteroid belt, and the vast number of eccentric orbit comets in the inner system. Useful information at a glance … I love it.

For those with more scientific tastes, if you need to know the location of the habitable zone around the star (0.025 AU to 0.055 AU), it is in there. So are the many strings of hexadecimal planetary data, stellar luminosity and effective temperature and lots more stuff to gladden your technical heart. At the bottom of the page is a terrific little table listing the distance and travel time between all of the worlds and major asteroid settlements that will save you a lot of work during a game.

Each of the five ‘worlds’ in the system (three rock balls, an asteroid colony and a gas giant) are then presented with a picture, table of technical data and a short description. I liked the subtle details that make each place memorable and different from the other worlds, like a volcanically active world that erupts with freezing water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide ices raining down as bright spots on the dark surface.

After this comes about a page of History on the system. While Traveller histories usually begin hundreds or thousands of years ago and present a string of irrelevant dates, events and facts, Xibalba is completely different. First, the history only begins 43 years ago, and second almost every word in it was both interesting and relevant (if not essential) to understanding the atmosphere and nature of the Xibalba system and people.

Finishing up this section is about two pages of ‘what everyone knows’ about the mysterious phenomenon, the challenges of living in (or visiting) Xibalba and the image from the cover. I don’t want to say more, because I don’t want to spoil any of the surprise.

REFEREE’S INFORMATION This section opens up by painting a great picture of the tone and character of the place beyond the technical details and all about the people who live here. What a buyer needs to know is that this is not a ‘zombie hoard’ or ‘chainsaw wielding psycho’ Horror adventure. This is about mystery and wonder. I liked this quote “The unsettling occurrences in the system drive its inhabitants closer together, huddling in the darkness in their habitats much like villagers in an isolated, lonely settlement surrounded by foreboding, unknown wilderness.”

Next comes some data on incorporating this adventure into the overall Outer Veil setting. If you have no intention of using Outer Veil, don’t sweat it … this is less than a quarter of a page. A half page of ‘referee’ data and good advice on the ‘things that go bump in the night’ aspect of Xibalba comes next. This is followed by 4 adventure seeds linked to the unique nature of Xibalba itself.

Rather than presenting a single definitive explanation for the mystery, Xibalba concludes with five explanations that run from deep into the ‘soap opera’ realm to the extreme ‘hard science’ end of the spectrum. Each referee gets to pick his own one true explanation, several possible explanations, or just leave it a mystery. Each possible explanation was thoughtful and held potential for more fun and adventure.

CONCLUSION “All too often in science fiction RPGs life and travel in space is taken for granted or considered 'routine': everything is already explored, nothing is a frontier anymore and any sense of mystery is gone. The central goal of this book is to serve as a reminder that, while Humanity may have the ability to colonize and 'conquer' space, there are some things that cannot be anticipated and that will not be readily understandable. There are plenty of places where the infinite dark that surrounds a frail human colony will feel overwhelming.”

Setting aside everything else in this review, if the above quote from Xibalba stirs something inside of you, then you owe it to yourself to buy Xibalba and check it out. If that quote captures nothing of what you want in an adventure, then Xibalba is probably not for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
System Book 2: Xibalba
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Through the Veil Part 1
Publisher: Spica Publishing
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/01/2013 22:14:16

Epic adventures spanning vast swathes of space and time are fairly rare. Adventures that do it well are even more rare. Adventures that do it both well and for free, are almost unheard of. I'll be darned if Spica doesn't seem to have pulled off a clean sweep ... Epic, Well Done and Free.

THE SHIP The first thing that caught my attention was the ship. I like ships and this really is a beautiful ship. A good size for adventuring. An interesting layout. Containing some rather innovative features. Alongside the ship is a crew. An interesting crew. A colorful crew. A crew whose brief descriptions have wetted my appetite to get to know them better as future adventures unfold.

THE SETTING The first part is more introduction than adventure, but it is an introduction to the Outer Veil universe of Spica Publishing. It seems a rich and interesting setting, with more wide open spaces and opportunity than I found in the long over-settled Third Imperium of the 'Official' Traveller Universe. This is only an opinion, but it is my opinion and I am sticking to it. [wink]

THE ADVENTURE The adventures center around hiring a crew, and trouble at a starport. Fairly typical 'meet and greet' stuff and a variation on the classic 'trouble with starport administration' theme. Overall, not one of my favorite themes, but I have to give credit where it is due ... I found it handled better than almost any similar adventure. With three adventures released as of the writing of this review, I can say that the 'action' gets better as the series progresses. So I found this a fair start to a great series of adventures.

THE WRITING Here is where this product really shines. The narrative painting the background is well written. The characters seem real and believable without the typical stereotype personalities and with subtle shades of strength and weakness that I found refreshing. While this adventure travels territory well worn by other products, it never feels stale, predictable or like you are being railroaded. Thank you Martin for painting a fun and believable epic adventure with refreshing prose.

THE BOTTOM LINE When fate hands you a product better than most commercial offerings, for free, grab it! Read it! Enjoy it! The only reason that I gave it 5 stars is because they don't allow 6 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Through the Veil Part 1
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10-dton GravTank Recon
Publisher: Rainer Games
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/02/2013 18:22:33

The text has been cleaned up a great deal from the first upload, but the graphic plan still needs serious fixing. At 10 displacement tons, the 1.5 meter grids should be something close to about 3 squares wide x 7 squares long. The plan is over 11 squares wide x 24 squares long ... about 130 displacement tons.

This mis-scaled plan is responsible for much of the earlier criticism and confusion.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
10-dton GravTank Recon
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your review and business. I feel a little explanation is in order. I created this product using the Open Gaming License (1.0a) as well as the Foreven Free logo. According to the Mongoose Traveller SRD, there are two sizes of crew station for small craft: "standard" and "cramped." I must use either designation or be in clear violation of a law that I agreed to abide by. Also, any debiation from thethe SRD is a derivation and cannot use the "Traveller Logo." The large size of the diagram is used for display purposes only. The 10-ton Grav Recon is based loosely on the shape and size of popular North American armored troop transport. Thank you for your business.
30-ton Slow Boat
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 12:17:57

LIKED: Good descriptions of ships with playable plans.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: No exterior views. Update with Mongoose Traveller statistics.

DISLIKED: It really needs an exterior view to understand the wing configuration. I found nothing really new or innovative in this book that hadn’t been done better in one of the other books in the series. LKW can do better than ‘cargo’ and ‘passenger’ variants (with a ‘military’ variant that is virtually identical to the passenger version).

I would recommend that you get either the 30 Ton Ship’s Boat or 40 Ton Pinnace instead.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
30-ton Slow Boat
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40-ton Pinnace
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 11:37:46

LIKED: Great descriptions of useful ships with playable plans.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: No exterior views. Update with Mongoose Traveller statistics.

As a gear-head, I was a little disappointed that no real details were given on the ‘swing wings’. They have been a feature of this classic design forever, with no official rules on designing craft with swing wings or description of what actual benefit they provide. This was a missed chance for one of the ‘sages’ of the game to fill in a gap.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
40-ton Pinnace
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20-Ton Launch
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 11:14:29

More of what one expects in a plan by LKW – great descriptions of useful ships with playable plans.

LIKED: I found the variants to be even more useful than his other products. I think that there really is a version for every need. I saw a different adventure seed in each variant.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: No exterior views. Update with Mongoose Traveller statistics.

A good bargain and a great product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20-Ton Launch
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600-ton Subsidized Liner
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 10:59:12

LIKED: Clear, usable plans for a large ship with plenty of descriptive text to flesh out the plans. Other publishers should take notes on how to present a large ship in a usable format.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: No exterior views. It could use a one sheet plan of each level to give a better feel of the overall design. Update with Mongoose Traveller statistics.

Well done, useful for actual play and a good bargain.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
600-ton Subsidized Liner
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30-ton Ship's Boat Deckplans 1.01
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 10:41:55

What’s not to like! A classic design rendered by one of the masters of the game. The text descriptions are everything that you would expect and include many of the details that I always wondered about.

Two small criticisms …

  1. no Mongoose Traveller statistics for the ship (needs an update to include the new kid on the Traveller block).

  2. no exterior images included.

Overall, I found it a very usable product and I am satisfied with my purchase. A good value.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
30-ton Ship's Boat Deckplans 1.01
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7th Sea: Players' Guide
Publisher: Chaosium
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 10:24:42

Beautiful layout and easy to read. I loved the way that the artwork really set the tone of the game. The concept of ‘swashbucklers and sorcery’ with a more gritty feel is clever and well done.

The rules mechanic seemed simple and payable, but unusual for those unfamiliar (it comes with a learning curve) with it with some odd things like ships rated in character attributes. I found the ‘stuff’ side of the universe a little light on the ‘enchantment’ side – spell casters but no magic swords, flying characters but no magic ships, etc.

Four stars for an innovative concept, well executed.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Players' Guide
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Book 2: High Guard
Publisher: Mongoose
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 08:45:58

I really liked the 'Starship Options' and found then useful.

I purchased the book for the rules on creating small craft and found them similar in structure to the Starship design rules in the core book. I was slightly disapointed that the 'small craft design rules' do not blend seemlessly with the 'starship design rules'. A 100 Ton spacecraft designed as a 'starship' without the Jump Drive would be far superior to a 100 ton spacecraft designed as a 'small craft' - they should be identical.

Overall, I am happy with the purchase and enjoy using the product.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book 2: High Guard
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New Publisher Setup Package [BUNDLE]
Publisher: Minion Games
by arthur p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 08:18:09

I purchased it because I had to, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much useful and practical advice was actually contained in the books.

What resolution should you use for images? It is in there. How much artwork should you have? It is in there. What legal information must you include? it is in there.

This really is a MUST READ for anyone thinking about sticking a toe into the e-publishing waters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Publisher Setup Package [BUNDLE]
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