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Costume Fairy Adventures - Core Rulebook
Publisher: Penguin King Games
by Mark G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/16/2020 16:04:51

While I acknowledge that the theme might not be appealing to everyone, and it is a "silly" game, I still believe that CFA is the best designed sandbox RPG available at the moment.

Why? An awful lot of sandbox RPGs present sandbox settings but with a very limited number of eventual goals which limit engagement. CFA, and The Big Pie Caper in particular, take the opposite approach: the players are flooded with different objectives and neat things to do, all of which can shape how things happen in the future, and all of which contribute to the "mischief mote" system that drives play.

On top of that, to prevent stagnation via PCs having a limited number of "best" plays, the costume system acts very similar to the Cyphers in Numenera and those system - it gives the players constantly shifting roles and abilities, but with a greater degree of control over them. These two together to work brilliantly within Chen's Flow theory to allow players to influence the game into whatever's most enjoyable for them without needing to break OOC in order to do so.

No-one I've known who has played this game has disliked it. Highly recommended.



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Costume Fairy Adventures - Core Rulebook
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Blood in the Chocolate
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Mark G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/06/2017 13:07:07

This adventure is essentially the 1971 musical film version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory written up as a dungeon crawl, except with some seriously unpleasant content added. The adventure's actual goal is to have all your PCs inflating like Violet Beauregarde because someone apparently has a thing about this. Pretty much all the hazards in the adventure have either a chance or a certainty of creating this effect.

Let's have an overview of some of the other delightful things in this adventure:

  • "Pygmies" who worshipped the master villain as a goddess because she was white, work as slaves in the factory, and attack the PCs with blowpipes. Now, ok, the Oompa-Loompas in the original Willy Wonka were pretty bad to start with, but it could have been improved a bit..
  • A scene where an NPC who is inflated like a blueberry is fastened to an altar being gang raped by 2d6 pygmies.
  • Two innocent children that the PCs can rescue from prison. A little while afterwards the PCs are asked to make a save and if they fail, there's a probability they'll be compelled to eat the kids. And yes, they're 100% real flesh-and-blood children, not made of chocolate or something like that.
  • Outside of the first 3-4 rooms, no treasure at all. Many of the rooms just have nothing in them that would be of interest to the PCs and there is no reason why they'd stick around.
  • A factory that makes chocolate which is incredibly popular all over the world and has been for years, even though it has a 10% chance of causing permanant and obvious debilitating side effects every time it is eaten. The adventure tries to hedge this by saying that it applies only to "chocolate eaten inside the factory" but nothing changes it when it leaves. On top of this, the reason it's so successful is because the factory is making chocolate bars 2 centuries earlier than they were invented in real life, but it turns out that the weird poisons and corrupted cocoa have absolutely nothing to do with this, and the factory would work perfectly well with ordinary stuff and presumably be just as successful.
  • Based on the above, a master villain who's described as being hideously evil even though she has no motivation to be nor any sense in being, and a quest that has the PCs trying to murder her and take over her factory because some other traders would like to own it instead. Oh, and the possibility that they'll meet her in the first room of the adventure and - since there is nothing in the adventure that powers up the PCs or weakens her, and a lot that harms the PCs - that's actually the best place to fight her.

The sad thing is that the layout of the adventure is great, the cheat sheets are useful, and the walkthrough comic is an excellent idea. So full marks for editing, but none at all for content.



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Shadowrun: Anarchy
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Mark G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/13/2017 16:44:46

The concept of a rules light Shadowrun variant appealed a lot to me, but unfortunately this book follows the approach of not actually trying and planning and testing and making effort to derive a working system with few rules, but just not bothering to write very many rules and then expecting the GM to fill in the holes - and even being snooty about it in the process. There is actually, no kidding, a paragraph that insults the reader if they ask why a particular rule is vague. But hey, don't worry, it's not like that rule's interpretation determines the value of an upgrade which costs 50% of your starting points or anything. Oh, wait..

So, the great "Cue System" that this book is based on, is actually just a very slight variant of the attribute+skill dice pool system from the original SR with most of the details cut out. There are Plot Points, which let you do.. things.. in that the game gives a few examples of things they might do, but not a decent list. That's ok, though, because there are almost no rules at all for how you get them other than "the GM gives them out". There's also Cues, which.. well, do absolutely nothing. Yes, the system is named after something with no effect whatsoever. It vaguely suggests you might write down a few sentences that represent your character to inspire you when you're playing. That's it.

About the only neat concept that does appear here is Shadow Amps. Essentialy, this combines hacking, magic, cyberware, special gear, and all of the other disparate systems from the original Shadowrun into a single system of "stuff which gives you advantages". This could have worked well if what it was attached to wasn't so threadbare.

You don't need this book. If you and your group can RP a cyberpunk game successfully with this faint breath of a system, then you might as well just make everything up as you go along. If you want rules light cyberpunk with systems that have actually thought through how to be rules light, try Interface Zero Fate or The Veil.



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