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Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/23/2017 11:29:34

CtD is a really good game. Its elements and themes are very powerful and flexible. This game can be a lot of really interesting things.

The previoius edition was a mechanically a bit awkward compared to the other 20A books that had been released. I was really hoping for an updated game that would play friendly with the current crop of 20A books like Vampire and Werewolf.

This is it. Its exactly what I needed. Nothing WoD is ever perfect, but this iteration of the game fits together very well with the other games. Its much more playable IMO. I really like the changes. Even the parts that I don't love to death are at least better than they were. Its nothing but improvements for this edition. I'm really happy with it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition
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Cities of Darkness Volume 1 (WW2622)
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/21/2016 17:23:44

I got this for the DC setting. I have been using it for a while. You kindred history and setting notes that paint DC into a suitable backdrop for a VtM game. You get a full court structure of NPCs with good details and diagrams that show intricate webs of relationships. You get some random scene ideas that you can literally roll for. These are pretty shallow, short events, that you can throw at players for fun if the game starts to get slow. There are a few presented ideas for a chronicle. And that’s it. There is not really a beginning to end plot presented for a story teller to run or anything like that. It’s really just a backdrop. If you want a pregenerated story/plot to run characters through, that is not what you have here.

I was simply looking for a backdrop for my game and this was perfect. The NPCs and court details could easily be dropped into any local. For my needs, this was a great setting for my VtM20A game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cities of Darkness Volume 1 (WW2622)
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Little Wizards Preview
Publisher: Crafty Games
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/21/2016 17:16:21

Simple, fun, and focused on what younger kids love about games; this game is almost everything it says it is. My 5 year old loves it as much as my 9 year old.

My children really love the setting and the fun of getting to create and imagine the effects of spells.

I have been into role playing games for a long time. In many way, I forgot how simple the games I started on were. I can certainly recommend this title.

I have one criticism for which I deduct one start.

There are absolutely no rules for resolving a conflict with violence. "But wait" you say, "this is a game for little children." Yes, some of which are little boys. Sometimes little boys want to smack things with sticks and attack the bad guy with a fireball. You can take your thought-control-anti-male-no-aggression-allowed values and stuff them in a conjured port-a-potty. The game, as written, will never please a boy. I have added rules very much like the health system in Zelda. You get 3 hearts. Damage can be 1/2 a heart or more. I made 3 generic spells with various difficulties that do damage. I added rules for attacking something with a weapon. I gave bad guys a few hearts of health. Everything plays great now.

That wasn’t so hard, now was it?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Little Wizards Preview
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Mind's Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade
Publisher: By Night Studios
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/21/2016 17:02:44

Yes, it brings back all the fun of playing MET back in the 90s. Yes, its cleaned up, less confusing, and a much smoother system then what you remember. No you won't miss anything they took out. Yes, its all here in one book. No, there really is no need to fix anything or write up a bunch of house rules.

Yes, finally!

BNS has shown all the other publishers that have had thier turn with the WoD material how make things right. It really is that good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mind's Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade
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Classic Spycraft: Spycraft Espionage Handbook
Publisher: Crafty Games
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2016 14:08:15

It’s a d20 game. It requires a 3.0 D&D Player’s Handbook for character creation. Its rules suffer from the fads of the time period it came from. Those things aside, this is still the best Spy table top game I have ever played. The balance of complexity and fast resolving rules is perfect. This game uses my favorite chase system I have ever played. The mood and feel is perfect. I have played this game since the year it was released and I still play it from time to time because it still has not been outdone. It’s better than Spycraft 2.0. When Spycraft 3.0 comes out, I'll give it a chance, but many games have come and failed to dethrone this king of spy games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Classic Spycraft: Spycraft Espionage Handbook
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Endless: Fantasy Tactics - Rulebook
Publisher: On The Lamb
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2016 14:00:56

Endless is the game I never knew I always wanted. I have been playing it for a while now. My 8 year old and my wife love it and they have never played any of the video games it plays homage to. It is simply a wonderful game. For those of you who are fans of games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Shining Force, it is truly a thrill to play. It’s simple, it’s flexible, and using all those minis laying around from other games, it’s cheap to play. I show it to all my friends from my 90s childhood when they visit and they are always impressed with it too. Games take around one hour. The rules are concrete and clearly defined. The game and its permutations are stimulating and thoughtful to experience. At first I thought the system was too simple but now that I have lots of experience playing it I think it’s perfect. I wish a leveling/experience system would be fully developed and some unofficial crossovers to games like Shining Force. The system is simple flexible enough that I might just take that on myself.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Endless: Fantasy Tactics - Rulebook
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Blood In, Blood Out (Vampire: The Requiem Novel #2)
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2016 13:48:22

Sometimes authors give writing a great story everything they got. Sometimes that takes a backseat to an agenda. I think the writer is talented and I think the story had potential but I can’t get through it. I’m just not interested in the characters. I think the author was probably guided to force diversity into the story and it just did not work. I don’t mean racial diversity BTW, I mean cultural diversity. We’re talking ghettos, gangsters, and Carthians here. The characters don’t hold my interest and half way through the book, I just give up. I make no apologies for not being genuinely interested in the story. That’s not a choice, it’s a reality. The first book in the series was great. Rather than take the first book further, this story tries to take the setting in a new direction … without me.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Blood In, Blood Out (Vampire: The Requiem Novel #2)
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Little Wizards
Publisher: Crafty Games
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2016 13:35:56

I play table top with my wife and have three young boys (at the moment of writing this.) As they get older they have shown interest in joining our games. If you know what it’s like trying to explain to your 4 year old why he can’t play Vampire the Masquerade or some other adult table top then perhaps this game has caught your eye as well.

Me, my wife, my 8 year old, and my 4 year old have given this game a spin and I have made some interesting discoveries.

  1. This game does a great job connecting to younger children in a fun way. My boys love Coin World and its locations. They love the theme. And they LOVE the simplicity of the game mechanics.
  2. This game has helped me understand what my children want form a role play game. My 4 year old was like a fish to water when his character’s teacher asked him to demonstrate potion making by making his favorite potion. My 4 year old loved the attention, went right to work with his toys pretending to make a potion, and loved picking the effect and hearing the description of what happened. He was all smiles when everyone in the room started clapping. I thought to myself, I don’t think this is the first time he has pretended to create a potion, and here he is doing it in front of his family and we are interested and giving him our attention. Connecting to a four year old at that level is not always easy.
  3. Because of the game’s simplicity my 8 year old came alive with interest to run a game. He is not intimidated by the mechanics, he gets it, and he wants to explore his creativity as a story maker. He has wanted to run D&D games before but he could never quite pull it off. This game has posed no obstacles for him. He has arrived at his creative outlet.
  4. The game’s mood encourages relaxed-just-go-with-it style playing and that really works for my children. If they want Legs, Minecraft monsters, and Link from Zelda to be a part of this world … then done! Link is riding through a Lego forest on an Ender Dragon, and the players go NUTS! And the mood and setting is crafted in a way to where that sort of thing is not disruptive in the slightest. Again, the kinds go freaking NUTS!

The rules are very light. This is almost barely a game and more of a setting. Characters have 3 attributes (body, heart, and mind) and then a couple vague wizard powers that do whatever the player says they do (such as “spellcasting”). And that’s really it. Player says “I wanna do blah”. The story teller says “OK, the difficulty for that will be EASY” (or whatever he thinks.) The player rolls 2d6 and gets the target number or does not. Pass or fail. Modifiers from attributes or powers will only be a 0, +1, or +2. That’s all there is to it. There is a simple experience system that makes sense and works well.

One thing that took me off guard was the way powers are done. There are two classes. They both have the power “Spellcasting”. Most of the powers are vague like that. What does it do? The player just makes up a spell on the spot and the story teller decides if Spellcasting can do that or not and how hard it will be to do. That’s it. Those are the “mechanics.” At first I was kinda put off by it but it turns out this is exactly the reason my 4 year old can play this game. If the “mechanics” were any different he would not be as capable of playing as he is. I wish readers could see how excited he gets. He just starts yelling “I shoot a fireball out of my wand, that chases the bad guy down the hall, and when it hits him it sets his pants on fire, and he runs away really fast, and then slips on water, and there are rubber ducks everywhere!!!!” Then I go, “uhhhh, OK, roll your dice and get an 8 or higher.” It works just like that and I’m learning that it has to when you are 4 years old.

You don’t want this game if you are looking for a game “system”. It’s not that. But whatever it is, it’s a hit with my kids. I would be lying if I did not tell you that I find this game to be the most uninteresting and uninspiring table top game I play but of the games I play with my children it’s not bad. Seeing them have fun diffidently makes it worth it.

One criticism I do have is that this game is not quite as unisex as I would have it. The borders of the pages are purple and there are absolutely no rules for violence of any kind. Evidently you don’t “fight” anything in this game. Uhhh … little boys do not play games void of hitting things. So I had to come up with a system. My system is that everything has three hearts like in a Zelda game that represent life and players can describe attacks that do one heart of damage. A couple of tweaks like that though and the game is little boy approved. I’m sure the authors would scoff at me. They make it pretty clear in the rules that this game has no “losers” or “losing”. rolling eyes That silliness is my only real criticism and I’ll balance that criticism by saying that the 3 nonviolent quests included in the book really did help me to balance our games away from hack and slash and into something that I think is more appropriate for young children. But I’m telling you, when the 4 year old wants to smack something, you better give him some freaking dice to roll!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Little Wizards
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2016 12:40:19

This is the table top Vampire game to play, hands down. This version of Vampire the Masquerade beats Vampire the Requiem 2nd Edition! Here is why.

I have played Vampire the Requiem extensively. The new second edition of Vampire the Requiem has alienated me. The art was trashy and cheap, the rules for experience and progression are stupid, rebalancing of disciplines resulted in more confusion and unbalance, and the game feels goofier and more unpolished than ever. Even though there are some positive changes to the new VtR2e, the game plays more awkward than ever. So I thought to myself, it’s time to learn about my options. And that is why VtM20th got my consideration.

My reservations have always been that the system is too old with too much baggage and outdated mechanics that won’t play as clean and smooth as first edition nWoD games did. My reservations were justified to some degree. The game still feels a little dusty. Some of the mechanics are a bit clunky feeling and could diffidently be cleaner. But the book is beautiful, the setting is ruthlessly wonderful, and the game is even better than I remember it being. I have been running a game for about 8 full nights now and I am really enjoying it. The community that supports this game is still very alive. The setting has been very well cleaned up. The rules make more sense than ever. Some of the things that initially bothered me either didnt bother me as much as I thought they would when we played or I have found a solution in the rules that I did not notice at first. The disciplines seem more balanced than I remember. Combat is a bit too cumbersome but the more I get used to it the more this is not an issue for me.

It’s not perfect and I do miss some of my favorite aspects of VtR (first edition.) But this game has not faded away at all. Its community is thriving and the game has been refined yet preserved.

In the end, games like this are about role play. This game’s role play experience is great. This feels like the quintessential vampire game that has colored our culture for the last 20+ years. That’s what VtR2e is missing. While playing this game, I keep getting this feeling that, this is it; this is what our generation's Vampire mythology is. It’s been thought out and vetted for eternity.

I think VtR has some issues it will need to work through for the next ten year cycle. While it works that out, I’ll be happily playing VtM.

As for the book, it’s big. I mean, in real life, this damn thing is HUGE. My first “premium” book had binding problems. DTRPG sent me out a new one right away. They are great to work with and I’m pleased that they handle problems quickly and kindly. But I don’t think the quality of the binding is very good for a $100 book. Other than the binding being stressed by the page count, the book is absolutely beautiful. I’m not sure that the premium version is worth the extra money though.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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Chronicles of Darkness
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/07/2016 15:13:19

I think the first edition World of Darkness may be one of my favorite RPG books/systems/games of all time. I played it for years and really enjoyed how fast, flexible, and story driven it was. It was such a perfectly balanced game. I think there were some quirky parts and some of the material from other books such as Armory and Reloaded could have been included in a second edition. There was some room for improvement.

Second edition has ruined the original game's balance both mechanicaly and in abstraction. Playing this feels like a huge step backward. This is a less flexible game with much quirkier and unpolished rules than the previous edition. A sample of my gripes:

The XP system is awful crap and should not have been changed in any way. I hate it. The change from progressive XP costs for higher ranks to linear costs makes no sense and ensures that everyone has rank 5 in their key abilities and skills. The game should be called World of Experts. Merits needed to be cleaned up from the previous edition. This edition did fix some issues but they threw out the baby with the bathwater on some of them. Combat with all of its options and extensive merits is getting bogged down. Conditions have me flipping all over the book during combat. Lots of cool material from first edition WoD supplements could have been included but was not.

And now the big gripe: In first edition "The God Machine" would have been a small supplemental book that could be added to the core rules if desired. And I would not have bought it because I hate it. Its not inspiring to me and it clashes horribly with the plot of my previous WoD stories. Forcing it to be the core setting of the game absolutely ruins the spirit of this game. First edition was a lightweight system and a black backdrop ready and inviting you to craft any dark story kindled by your unique imagination. We played mysteries, ghost stories, and slasher horror games without any care about a damn God Machine. It was a blast and a fresh break from all the other games we used to play. Whatever the story was, it was mysterious and the players were legitimately intrigued to learn the story, because a 40 page explanation of it was not in the damn core rule book!

I give it 2 stars because they kept the first edition cover art.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Chronicles of Darkness
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Classified
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/05/2016 14:20:14

I did not play the original game. I was getting impatient waiting for a new edition of another spy game to be released and I thought, while I’m all excited about playing a spy game why don’t I give this a try? I’m glad I did. This game has some really interesting concepts and I found it to be a really capable game system. It was not too hard to pick up even though I have never played it before. Here are some things about the game that stuck out to me.

Mechanically, everything seems to be decided using a d% roll. So you just need two ten sided dice to play. You calculate your skill level plus attribute bonus for a particular check then consult a table concerning the difficulty and then roll the d% to determine if you succeeded and if so, how well. In combat both hitting and damaging all happen with the same roll. The two tables at the core of this system are pretty wacky looking at first sight but once you “get it” it’s really flexible and brings a powerful sense of possibility and chance to the game. You will want those two tables tattooed on your arm though, you will consult them a lot.

The game has a really good chase system. That’s a big deal to me. Spy games need to have a good chase system. This one rivals the best of them. It’s like playing a game of chess and chicken all at the same time. I love it.

The game system is not flexible in the characters it creates. Stats and skills are really only concerned with things James Bond would do and I think there are some pretty apparent holes in the skills a character can learn. For example, one of my players wanted wilderness survival skills. James Bond does not do camping so don’t look for it on the character sheet. No such skill exists.

I love guns and was underwhelmed by the list of available guns. There were several 9mm handguns available but not one 45. No 1911, no USP, no MK21, even though these are very popular spec ops handguns often fitted with suppressors. I also found it strange that the old Browning Hi Power in 9mm did more damage than the Beretta M9 9mm. Someone help me understand that.

I think the formula that maps skills to characterizes is a little awkward too. Stealth gets a bonus from Willpower not Dex? Local Customs linked to Perception? Charisma linked to Willpower? I’m sure this is all translated from the old game and has to stay intact to keep these rules compatible with the old game but it’s still awkward.

To sum things up though, there are some awkward artifacts from the game this one was probably patterned from and I would have liked seeing them cleaned up a bit, however, this is still a uniquely cool game. I would like to see a revised skill system down the road someday. I really think that would bring this game to the next level.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Classified
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