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Dungeons & Delvers - Black Book
Publisher: Awful Good Games
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2017 13:54:06

I received a complimentary PDF in exchange for writing a review. My review is based on a quick read-through.

While this isn't the setting I would create for myself (needs more tentacles), this has a lot to offer. It's "normal" enough to fit in with a wide variety of campaign wants and needs while adding some things that are definitely off the beaten path. Such as, slightly weird playable races like the Ishim and Kytheran. Could have used some extra flavor, though (i.e. typical customs, backgrounds, history, etc.)

Those who see the world mechanically first and bits and pieces of story second will enjoy this approach. The crunch is there for those who play D&D, Pathfinder, and various OSR systems. For instance, I know how much mithril costs, the crafting time, its weight, initiative properties, and dexterity limitations, but I don't really know how it looks, how it feels, if it smells different than other metal, why there's so much of it buried within the cryogenically frozen snake-men tombs (I made that last part up)?

My only other minor criticism would be the choice of describing various things and locations from the perspective and in the words / writing style of named fantasy characters who I don't know from Adam. Some sound like the author himself (or herself, I'm not sure which entries were written by which authors). And others sound like if dwarves were living in H.P. Lovecraft's 1920's New England. But that's totally subjective and I'm sure many appreciate the variance.

The PDF looks great. The pages have a cool parchment appearance and the art is distinctive, awesome, and fairly plentiful. You won't mistake David Guyll's artwork for anyone else's!

So, if you're looking for a different kind of setting (but not too different) that puts mechanics first - although, without bloating everything out to a ridiculous level like some D&D/Pathfinder offereings - I highly recommend Dungeons & Delvers - Black Book. You get a lot of bang for your buck!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeons & Delvers - Black Book
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50 ShaDes Of vOrpal (ALPHa)
Publisher: arthas_soulgazer
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2017 14:56:52

Last night, I purchased the PDF for $5 and here is my impression...

Comparisons have been made with Encounter Critical. While both games are comedic pranks on gamers, allowing readers to peek inside the fantasy heartbreaker minds of the authors, there are several differences. Encounter Critical is a sophisticated, innovative, old school, labor of love by one or more slightly confused yet well-meaning amateurs. It's meant to be a product of the mid-70's that reaches for the stars.

50 Shades of Vorpal comes from the mind of one or more contemporary dudes who purposefully set out to emulate something like old school Dungeons & Dragons, but way more juvenile, idiotic, and single-minded in its love of hack and slash. It's like if HackMaster 4th edition were re-imagined by Beavis and Butthead.

To read the full review, google: "Venger Satanis 50 shades of vorpal review"



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
50 ShaDes Of vOrpal (ALPHa)
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Dragon Union - an addendum for the fantasy roleplaying game
Publisher: D-oom Products
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/16/2015 08:00:07

I didn't know what I was getting, but agreed to review this complimentary PDF. My first thought was "This is strange." My second being, "This is interesting." Third, "This is quite good."

So, what is it exactly? A game within a game, sort of. Not exactly rules for managing a party of PCs but also exactly that. Obviously, this is difficult for me to describe. Let me start again...

Most fantasy RPGs begin with some kind of quest or at least a whiff of adventure, gold, helping the helpless, etc. At this point, play just kind of starts and the characters find their way to where they're going. The actual PC dynamics goes by the wayside when they enter the dungeon.

Dragon Union is a fun way of shining a light on the often overlooked interpersonal "stuff" that goes on (or should go on) when we're not paying attention. If you're a fighter... assuming you even get to play the fighter (there are rules for that, too), it's not just swinging a sword and having more hit points. Oh no, there's a whole protocol for that class, just as there is for playing an elf, magic-user, thief, etc. Definitely more interesting than just rolling up ability scores, choosing whatever you want to play, and heading for the dungeon. This reminded me of the first 30 pages of an OSR game, minus the sections on combat, spells, monsters, etc.

Of course, this isn't for everyone. If you'd rather not have a procedure, protocol, or framework in place, then put the party together and adventure as you see fit. However, if you'd like something cool happening under the hood, before the adventurers even take a step in that dungeon, this just might be for you. The occasionally humorous and "ye olde school" tone was entertaining and the many pieces of artwork very much appreciated.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Union - an addendum for the fantasy roleplaying game
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The Lizardmen of Illzathatch
Publisher: 3 Toadstools
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/10/2014 16:04:33

A short, satisfying, no-nonsense "dungeon". While most of the encounters are what I would call "standard", The Lizardmen of Illzathatch has a certain naive or simplistic charm.

This would probably be a good introductory adventure for basic D&D and similar OSR roleplaying games. However, I wish it had something else going on... a twist or totally unexpected monster, magic item, NPC, or environment to really set it apart from its brethren.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Lizardmen of Illzathatch
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Creator Reply:
Thanks Darrick for the honest awesome review. The whole adventure came to me in a rush! I\'ll keep your thoughts in mind for future adventures.
Wisdom from the Wastelands Issue #39: Unique Superscience Artifacts
Publisher: Skirmisher Publishing
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/23/2014 16:20:37

This is my second review of a Wisdom from the Wasteland issue.

Like the others, this is a small collection of super-science technology for Labyrinth Lord / Mutant Future. If you're looking for unusual items to spring on players, this is a good buy. The accompanying artwork could be better but that's my only real complaint.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wisdom from the Wastelands Issue #39: Unique Superscience Artifacts
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Wisdom from the Wastelands Issue #44: Unique Superscience Artifacts III
Publisher: Skirmisher Publishing
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/15/2014 14:17:59

This collection of super-science artifacts are specifically for Mutant Future (with the aid of Labyrinth Lord's Advanced Edition Companion). Each has several capabilities, alternative uses, side-effects, etc. and they correspond with a mutant power, spell, or whatnot from one of those two books. However, GMs without any Labyrinth Lord or Mutant Future tomes (such as myself) can easily deduce their purpose.

The artifacts are described at length. There are no three sentence objects or items here. So, the Oasis in a Pill, Orange Block, or Palace of Bones (my personal favorite) are a big deal. Big enough that an entire session should probably be built around them, if not a campaign. That's great for GMs who want to throw a quick adventure together in a matter of minutes - focus on an artifact! Of course, the Mother Seed could be plopped down inside a single encounter. Yet, that would be under-using it and the others, in my opinion.

The art is less than stellar. That's something I hope improves as this series continues but as complaints go, that's a minor one. For the price, this is a must-have for Mutant Future GMs, as well as, being a good value for any post-apocalyptic RPG.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wisdom from the Wastelands Issue #44: Unique Superscience Artifacts III
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Adventures in the East Mark - Narrator Screen
Publisher: Gallant Knight Games
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/12/2014 11:59:34

I received a free PDF of the East Mark Narrator's Screen for the purposes of reviewing. Here we go...

TL;DR: Yikes! I didn't love it.

The headings are right on the edge between elegantly fancy and too hard to read. After all, GMs can easily find themselves in high pressure situations. We need to take in a lot of information at a glance. Please don't make it harder on us, publishers, graphic designers, and layout people.

For some Americans, the kg and meters is not only off-putting but difficult to use. Yes, I'm afraid we much prefer pounds and feet.

I created my own little litmus test for the weapons table (which is also included in the screen): trident vs. heavy whip. Ok, looks like we've got 1d6 and 1d8, respectively. Say what? I'm not going to go through the entire weapons list but that doesn't bode well.

AC gets better as it gets lower? I thought we all had a meeting about that. Sure, original D&D used descending armor class, but come on! This is the 21st century. FYI, not a retro-clone or OSR hater. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The PDF has fairly small letters and numbers. I'm not sure how this looks in person but the diminutive characters might irritate some GMs.

Not only does each character class have its very own saving throw table (Really? Why not a unified saving throw system? Does a Dwarf need levels 1 - 3 while a Cleric needs 1 - 4 brackets?) - each of them are printed twice! I'm not sure how that could be. I triple checked it and yep... two sets of each saving throw table by character class. What gives?

Minor typo - the Monster Reaction Table shows "Resultado". Also, result 9 - 11 reads "Untreatable, can attack." Huh? Both the reaction table and turning undead table use 2d6.

There's an attack matrix table, so after you look to see what character class and level you are and what HD the monster is, you have to adjust the to-hit number according to range, strength, and/or magic (possibly with other modifiers thrown in as well). In today's modern world, that just seems like a lot of work to me.

Speaking of math, movement rate divided by 3? Sorry, no.

Let's look at the Sequence of Combat table. It's a little confusing. Each side rolls for initiative but then the text assumes the characters/adventurers are always going first. Also, I just noticed that it never tells you what to roll in order to determine initiative. Sure, it's in the rulebook (I'm assuming), but then so is the Sequence of Combat (another assumption). Why provide one and not the other?

The thief skills (percentile, of course) is split up so that the far left part of the table is on one page while the rest is on another. If you wanted to just use these as single sheets for reference... well, that will probably disappoint you.

Again with the math! The terrain movement adjustments are as follows: -1/3, -1/2, and +1/2. What does any of that even mean?

I do like the "possibility of losing direction" based on terrain table. That's a little quirky yet handy. Nice.

Ok, back to the bad stuff. There's only one picture! Yes, the red dragon fighting a human warrior is phenomenally gorgeous! In fact, it's the single best thing about this Narrator Screen PDF. Unfortunately, that's all the artwork you get. Normally, screens have illustrations covering the entire back side. Not this one.

I was going to give this two stars, but after reviewing my review... I can't recommend this screen to anyone. Although, if you're a die hard Adventures in the East Mark fan, then I don't know... why not?



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in the East Mark - Narrator Screen
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Creator Reply:
Just a quick note- The duplicated saving throws are because on the print version of this, one set is interior for the GM and the other set is on the exterior for the players to reference, hence the single piece of artwork.
Crawljammer zine no. 2
Publisher: Moon Dice Games
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2014 15:17:50

I found issue #2 to be just as awesome as #1. Instead of an introduction to sword & planet adventuring, this is filled with tasty tidbits that GMs should have at their fingertips.

You get a random table for strange space encounters - 1/16th chance per day of space travel?!? Why not 1 in 6? For the 1d7 results, I say just roll 1d8 and if you hit an 8, roll twice.

There's a small assortment of new spells. Nothing reached out and grabbed me, but I appreciated their inclusion.

We have an assortment of vagabonds and cocktails found at the space bar known as Hail Bob's. Very nice; although, the whole 3d24 and 2d24 and match the digits part of the table threw me for a loop. In fact, I tire of DCC's alienation via funky dice. Not just because of Crawljammer, the 7-sided and 14-sided dice are in all the DCC adventures. Why? I understand they're part of the game and they should feel needed but DCC is only a small segment of OSR gamers. Why potentially limit your audience by alienating non-DCC players? Anyways, rant over.

The artwork is also pretty decent and usually amusing.

Best of all are the Technomancer character class and short adventure called Red Planet Rendezvous! Even though the Technomancer is geared towards DCC, I think it could be usable by any OSR GM... the adventure, too.

For this low price, it's a no-brainer if you're into space-faring, sword & planet, spelljammer type campaigns. Pick it up!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crawljammer zine no. 2
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Crawljammer zine no. 1
Publisher: Moon Dice Games
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/02/2014 07:25:05

This isn't what I expected. Crawljammer zine #1 isn't a bunch of random, badly written articles from an assortment of science-fantasy fans collected into one place.

Rather, this is a well-written, focused, and singular vision - a combo of mini OSR fantasy in space (more Space 1889 than Traveller) and sword & planet intro scenario. With this little zine, GMs can take their adventurers to new worlds or just explore the galaxy as if Gandalf, Conan, Taarna, Elric, and the Grey Mouser were meshed with Star Wars/Trek. Obviously, this just a taste... but it tastes good.

This little book is well laid out and adorned with attractive artwork. I could have done with two or three more pieces but that's just me being nit-picky.

Also, three cheers for Cyber-Zombies, grotesque Bat-Men, and Void Ziggurats! If you have any interest in taking your Dungeon Crawl Classics or fantasy OSR campaign into space, then picking up Crawljammer is a no-brainer.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crawljammer zine no. 1
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Schweig's Themed Dungeon Generator
Publisher: Griffon Publishing Studio
by Darrick D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/25/2013 11:37:40

This is a cool idea. A simple worksheet that allows one to randomly generate a dungeon weighted with whatever particularities or values the GM desires. Why should you be forced to have a 1 in 6 chance of going right or a 1 in 12 chance of encountering a vampire or alabaster statue of a nude sorceress? This tool is a template so that you can do more than what's in the Dungeon Master's Guide, and it's assumed (I assume) that the concept behind Schweig's Themed Dungeon Generator should be expanded by its new owner.

Make no mistake, aside from 2 filled-in sheets, this will take a bit of effort in order to make it work well. Consider this PDF a middle ground between ordinary random adventure/encounter/dungeon generators and a published module. If you put in 50% of the work, you'll get 100% of the results: a satisfying session... or even campaign. So, yes, it will save you time, but know that time must first be spent.

However, this concept begs to be expanded by the publisher himself. The suggested ideas are decent, but a lot more could be done with them. This is just the bare-bones beginning of what's possible. Perhaps Mr. Schweig will hone his themed dungeon generator, investing more of his own time and energy before re-releasing it in 2014 with three times the content, adding three times the value. Acquiring/using a better cover is also advisable.

VS



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Schweig's Themed Dungeon Generator
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