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Laws of Ascension
Publisher: White Wolf
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2019 10:17:35

As a concise write up of the very complex Mage setting, this product does manage to pack a lot in. The rules are well written and the premise sure gives a lot of options for 'let's pretend'. Doubles up well alongside the Companion book (for Technocracy characters).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Laws of Ascension
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Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD RPG Core Rulebook
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/23/2019 18:12:53

This is the latest in a series of games based on Judge Dredd, starting with the original Games Workshop edition in the 1980s and two editions/supplements put out by Mongoose for D20/OGL and the Traveller rules respectively.

The main appeal of the game lies with it's setting material, which has a 40+ year comic library and has very much a cult following in the UK at least. The 2000AD comics are very gonzo, 'punk' infused, action based storylines and this remains an enduring appeal to many - although curiously, it's never fully transported it's fanbase into America where DC and Marvel comics were entirely dominant, truth be told. Much of the art within is drawn from the comics, which adds a degree of style - yet in other ways the layout, font and general interior design could have been better. Having owned the previous versions of the game, they generally seemed less cluttered and easier to read (the font size) than this current edition.

This edition has maximised it's utility by being a springboard core rules book, primarily for Judge Dredd's Mega City One setting (as the most popular), but detailing a potential expansion through all the various strips in the comics. This is a welcome expansion, along with having built in rules for playing Judges, Perps (criminals) or Citizens - which means it's pretty much a cyberpunk-ish type of game from the core. This is a pretty familar game premise of course, but it wouldn't take too much to create some crossover with other settings as they build on the line.

It's WOIN system that powers it is only so-so, however. The core mechanic is familar to anyone who knows D6-based dice-pools, which may seem promising as an easy, fast and loose system akin to WEG's old Ghostbusters or Star Wars games. Yet, there are lots more rules stipulations and character generation in particular is a lot more involved. I didn't get the sense that the rules were especially adapted for the setting or, indeed, had any particular innovation of note. What they seemed like, honestly, was a set of homebrewed house-rules that had managed to see print and the game was essentially adapted to it's format rather than the other way round. In short, they aren't anything special.

As such, it is an OK game, but if you're already playing a gonzo action game using Savage Worlds, Fate or whathaveyou, and you aren't buying the game just for the 2000AD setting, I'm not sure there is that much that will persuade you to change your mind.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD RPG Core Rulebook
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Savage Worlds Adventure Edition
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/22/2018 17:19:40

Most certainly, one for the fans.

I'm a more casual player of Savage Worlds, and to me it's mostly more of the same - but then I'm not as experienced as others with the nuances of the game and the changes made. It's certainly a colourful and enthusiastic game to follow.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Adventure Edition
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Traveller Companion
Publisher: Mongoose
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/22/2018 17:17:17

It's really a hodge-podge of collected ideas and developments - possibly the first of a series.

That said, there will be some players and referees that find the alternative character generation methods (points buy, background/career packages included) and a full experience system to be a godsend. It's the sort of thing that they have clamouring for.

In all, there will definitely be something in here for everyone to like.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Companion
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The Monsters: A Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition Quickstart
Publisher: Modiphius
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/26/2018 03:50:10

The Monsters provides a pretty good overview of all the mechanics in the new Vampire 5th edition in an easy to read and levied way. The story itself is a classic noir tale, solving a murder mystery through investigation, but with a good variety of action and drama along the way. As a free introduction, it actually holds a fair amount of story which should provide several sessions of play, and includes the requisite number of pregens.

With regards to the system changes, I have to say this is a much more streamlined and superior system than in previous editions. I like the Hunger mechanic that seems to cause much chagrin for other critics, largely because it seamlessly brings the vampiric condition to the general play of the game in a much more integrated way than before. Frankly, it was a fundamental aspect of the game often forgetten by some groups, who were just happy to play 'superheroes with fangs' well within their comfort zones. The other mechanics manage to incorporate diceless play and a number of other simple but effective ideas into an elegant and very playable whole. As such, the fifth edition of the game remains a faithful throwback to the earlier editions (1st and 2nd) without the baggage of nearly 30 years of supplementary development.

Regardless of how some established fans may react to change, this is a very good and well thought out product that serves to show new players what the game of Vampire: The Masquerade is all about. And it's totally free, so judge for yourselves!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Monsters: A Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition Quickstart
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition Rulebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/26/2018 19:42:50

As with other Cubicle 7 products, the layout and general presentation are top notch and it's pretty well written and easy to follow. The rules are very much based on WFRP 1st edition, rather than 3rd or 2nd. We all expected that the experimental 3rd edition rules to be thrown out, but some fans of 2nd edition will note that there are more rules stipulations and a few changes from what they might expect. That said, character generation was fun when we tried it, and the rules have a gritty flavour which is key to the setting. The real value of the new game is likely to become more apparent in the supplements and campaigns to follow (especially The Enemy Within redux). It's a professional product, but it still needs a bit more to bring it alive.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition Rulebook
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Wrath & Glory: Core Rules
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/21/2018 07:55:37

While this may be the game some W40K fans have been clamouring for, I found reading what amounts to a wall of text in some pages a little hard bearing. The layout isn't quite as formatted as I'd like and there are less full blown pieces of full page art than I'd like too. The system is OK, but the game lacks a default high concept. Again, while some fans will appreciate having a wide variety of character types to choose from, it may cause other groups some problems explaining why a disparate group of larger-than-life characters would actually come together in any viable sense. Maybe it's just trying to do too much at once with the core rules?



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Wrath & Glory: Core Rules
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Wraith: The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2018 03:42:14

FINALLY……being the operative word after three years of waiting after the original estimated Kickstarter delivery date. It should be noted that this is the last of the big 20th Anniversary (now called 4th edition) World of Darkness rulebooks, although most of the lines will continue with supplements for a while. Wraith was actually meant to be the fourth in the series, but was so delayed that Changeling overtook it. It's actually closer to it's 25th Anniversary now. That said, it makes a fitting finale to the WoD series, being themed around death and all. It should also be noted that the original game was a very slow burner, with initial reviews being unfavourable before critical appreciation slowly accrued some years later.

The major appeal of Wraith, in my view, is twofold. Firstly, it appeals to those critics of Vampire who don't like the awkward immorality of drinking blood from victims, but still want to experience some of the dark artfulness you get from WoD games. Wraith offers just as much mood and atmosphere, but deals with a more universal theme of existentialism. Characters aren't necessarily moral by default, but they aren't antiheroes either, and good tales can be built around regretful ghosts trying to atone for their failings in life. The society of ghosts, when implementing Guilds, the Heirarchy, Heretics and Renegades can build for decent political campaigns also, but can otherwise be ignored. The same is true for the various monsters found in the dark depths of the Shadowlands (Spectres etc). There is a lot of emotional depth in Wraith, and plenty for characters to do, and players can pick up on it well with decent preparation.

The second appeal is to do with the design, not so much of the general engine (which is so-so, but pretty much the same as other WoD games), but more with the innovation of 'Shadow-play'. This being where players are given the dark alter-ego of somebody else's character to play, with the goal of tempting the regular character towards self destruction and the eponymous Oblivion. Again, I see this as an optional feature rather than a compulsary mode of play, as it does make the game more complex. Nevertheless, it's a feature that definitely does create a sense of 'personal horror' much more than any other WoD game, and was a critical success.

Indeed, it's a pet theory of mine that the Shadow is actually a hold-over idea from Mage: The Ascension, which didn't make the cut as the Mage game was complex enough as it was. In Mage, I could see the Avatars being played exactly in this way, either trying to guide the character up towards a personal Ascension or as a kind of Faustian pact with a personal daemon. It's an idea that could still be lifted, and used to steer Mage away from it's tendency towards superhero roleplaying should you wish.

How is the new edition? It's extraordinarily stylish to look at, with the artwork being as good as any of the previous books. It's also very complete - including rules to play The Risen (á la The Crow) or Orpheus (á la Flatliners), and indeed any narrative in all sorts of ghost stories from literature, movies etc. It's very passionately written and was clearly a labour of love. Ideally, it possibly wouldn't have so many conventional stats - particularly physical stats like Strength, Stamina, etc (like….why?). There is a possibly overwhelming level of detail and ideas, particularly in this 20th Anniversary edition. However it's not necessary to include everything from the book in a scenario or campaign. It's more a case of using the book as a springboard for your own stories. It's terrific all the same though - I can't wait to have it make up my set of 20th Anniversary games.

Wraith's traditional role as the weakest commercial WoD game, and evidently the most difficult for the creators to complete, means this could potentially be the last edition. Make sure you give it your dues before it passes on….



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wraith: The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition
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Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero's Handbook
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/30/2018 00:28:01

For those people, like me, who didn't quite grow up with the depth of experience to master point spend-based superhero rpgs, this book delivers a very accessible, attractive game and system that can be played practically out of the box. The art direction is very strong too, with the use of a short comic strip inside to illustrate the possibilities.

While the system is the same used in the more advanced Deluxe version of the game, it focuses on easily recognisable archetypes (8 in total) and simply chosen packages of abilities and powers to build characters. The elegance of this is that both versions of the game are completely compatible and, along with the points buy and random tables found in the Deluxe book, almost every preference for character generation is provided within the game as a whole. Fans of class-based systems, however, will appreciate this book the most.

The Basic book is still pretty comprehensive as a self contained game (you don't need any other), with plenty of advice and resources, that can run pretty much any type of tale found in the comics and movies. The tone is decidedly positive and cheerful, rather than gritty (should you be looking for a darker style) but, in all, this product largely underlines Mutants & Masterminds claim to be the 'greatest superhero roleplaying game'. For me, this was the best product I have seen of it's type and genre.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero's Handbook
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T4 Marc Miller's Traveller
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2018 05:20:31

This was never quite as bad as critics made it out to be - although the core task system being roll-under does create some issues in the game (the clunky rolling of ‘half dice’, and the increased emphasis of Characteristic scores over Skills). There is quite a bit of errata too, and some of the text needs repeat reading to make any sense of it. So it could have done with a lot more editing.

There are, however, some very attractive colour plates of starship imagery in here, and while the rest of the layout isn’t flash - it’s not weak either. The cover is nice too and, at it’s core, this is actually a pretty good edition of the game to base star-travelling adventures from. Character generation is fun (as in the best Traveller editions) and the world and starship generators are pretty much the same as in all editions.

If you want a more concise attempt at an authentic version of Marc Miller’s personal vision of his own game than T5, then this will serve you well.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
T4  Marc Miller's Traveller
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Darren Watts’s Golden Age Champions
Publisher: High Rock Press
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2018 05:04:25

Truly outstanding genre book, with some very engaging writing and a comprehensive look at the Golden Age era. It also includes some excellent and creative characters towards the back. I'm a bit luke warm on the complicated Hero system itself, but it is books like these that keep the Champions game compelling and relevant in todays superhero rpg market.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Darren Watts’s Golden Age Champions
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T5 Traveller5 Core Rules 3-Book Set
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/18/2017 02:52:20

Certainly an improvement from the unedited and flatly impenetrable version originally published from the kickstarter. The index is welcome, while the additional 50 pages or so are mainly used to provide clarification, a slightly tidier layout and a more logical organisation of the book. There is no linkable contents menu, however, which is also pretty vital for a pdf and the cover on my copy was missing still.

Certain rules clarifications that are now included make the accusation of it being ‘unplayable’ an overstatement, but it is still most likely to be an overwhelmingly complex book for casual gamers or those with any sort of aversion to maths. That said, I’m not sure that was ever the market for this game. For existing Traveller fans, there is a lot of material that will undoubtedly be useful for their games.

EDIT: Further to my original comments after reading through more fully (and it does take some reading!), there are some genuine gems within this book. I can see the logic - finally - of using a variable dice pool, roll-under system as opposed to the fixed 2D6 system used in Classic and Mongoose Traveller. Firstly, it meshes more tightly with the Characteristic scores used and secondly, it’s simply more open ended in terms of operating on a universal scale. The probability charts at the end of the book give a clear indication of your chances and, fully developed it looks pretty smooth.

Character generation is more involved than before with the role of education fully integrated and with differing paths for each career. You can also create a genetic legacy, while options for sophonts, clones and robots are fully detailed. The various ‘Maker’ sections have fuller explanations, along with starship and world designs. There are some interesting scientific asides as well as advice for running games throughout the text.

This is not a game for novices, and there are still lots of issues about editing throughout. But for Traveller fans, there is something of worth and investment at the core.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules 3-Book Set
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Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/13/2017 18:56:08

The jumbled mess that was the first edition of Changeling: The Dreaming was one of the weakest World of Darkness games. This new edition, with it's expanded and better explained Kith, much more playable systems and internationally expanded setting, is now one of the strongest. Looks incredible too. 'Nuff said.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition
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The Pirates of Drinax
Publisher: Mongoose
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/03/2017 07:54:46

This is just jaw droppingly awesome. A mega-campaign, in full colour glory with a huge amount of player-centered flexibility, and lots of opportunity for plunder and adventure. Easy to get into. The bonus here is there is also a full sector sourcebook, and information about Aslan characters, along with another book detailing a load of new spacecraft designs. Simply a maginificant package in an excellent new era for Traveller.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Pirates of Drinax
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Traveller Starter Set
Publisher: Mongoose
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2017 02:38:33

An unessential purchase if you already own the Traveller Core Rules, as two-thirds of this are essentially a reprint - albeit separated into two books (Book 1 and 2). Book 3 is a pretty good campaign, based around a hostile alien species, but is sold separately if you want to save costs.

All that said, this box is very much a deluxe edition of the game, along with extra maps and the campaign. It has an excellent, full colour presentation throughout and is, arguably, the best looking Traveller product ever. The game itself is capable of sustaining compelling and diverse storylines for years. The rules here are complete, including World design, Combat, Psionics, Encounters, Trade, Spacecraft operations and a range of off-the-shelf starships and vehicles to choose from (everything in the core rules), although the rules for designing your own ships and vehicles are sold seperately in High Guard and Vehicles respectively. If you've not experienced the Traveller RPG before, you couldn't buy a better introduction.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Starter Set
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