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Icrpg Magic
Publisher: RUNEHAMMER GAMES
by Newton P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/13/2019 15:07:46

This suppliment made all the difference!

While the CORE rules are great in many ways, they were a little lacking in flavour for spells. The difference between shooting a bow and casting a magic beam were mechanically the same (except different 'effort' dice, and 'tags'.), which left a lot of flavor up to the GM to describe. But ICRPG Magic fixed all that.

I was skeptical when I first browsed the pdf. I was worried the extra bulk of magic rules would take away from the simplicity that made ICRPG so great. But the rules were a breeze to play and added so much added flavour (and effects) to the game. Simple spell blasting and endless heals have now been replaced with crazy vampiric mists that suck life from enemies and heal your allies, or unnatural winds that blow your advisaries back down the corridor away from your group. Yet the rules are still lose enough for immproptu and narritive style that encoumpasses ICRPG.

I was also worried that characters must sacrifice (cost) Hit Points to cast spells. But some of the old-school players loved this, pointing out that in early editions of D&D, wizards had very few HPs....with ICRPG all characters start off with 10 HPs (a heart) but now with Magic costing HPs to use, it once again makes spell-casters generally low on HPs for most of the encounter. This was a brilliant design.

On top of all that, ICRPG Magic also has additonal monsters and adventures, making this a 'must purchase' for any magic-filled game of ICRPG.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Icrpg Magic
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The Magical Land of Yeld
Publisher: Atarashi Games
by Newton P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/14/2019 09:22:23

I originally bought this game to introduce my kids to RPGs. It has a lot of great kid-friendly art (I later found out one of the authors writes a comic: modest medusa). As I started flipping pages, I was blown away by the sheer amount of content, and clever ideas (some rules I'll be now using for my grown-up rpgs!).

At its core, the main mechanic is a simple d6 pool, where your stats/attributes (called "core dice") and things like weapons and special abilities all add aditional dice to your pool. The total of all your dice is compared to the Game Master's target number, or in the case of a competition, the other player/monster's total.

Player Characters (called "friends") will gain dice (either in their stats or special abilities) by advancing in a class (called "Heroic Jobs") or through some roleplaying challenges. Players create a "friend" based on archetypes like: Big Sister, Bully, and even a Dog. Heroic Jobs give access to special abilities (including magic) and uniquie abilities that are only available to that Herioc Job.

Combat is always repersented on an 8 x 8 grid (obviously for simplicity, although I don't see any reason that couldn't change). Your attack pool (which includes weapons) is compared to the target's defense pool (which includes armor) and if you have the higher total, you remove 1 of thier core "Tough" dice.

So far, all of this is pretty standard rpg material (purposly so, to help kids learn the rules). But there are some very clever twists on traditional rpg rules:

Combat initiative allows the Players to always go first. But introduces an "Excuse Me" rule, where monsters can try to interrupt and take their turn instead. Based on rolls, this means each round of combat has an unpredictable initiative order - keeping everyone on their toes.

Teamwork is the key to winning fights, as every success the previous player gets, allows the next player to get a culmaltive +1 bonus die to thier pool. This means you are excited to see your fellow players succeed - and slowly ramps up the action.

Hiding and Sneaking is brilliantly done, allowing the stealthy "rogue" types to hide, removing themselves from the battle board. If they come in at the end of the first round, they can enter any 'edge' of the board. If they sneak further, coming into play after the 2nd+ round, they can place thier charater in ANY square on the battle board. Of course there is risk to this, and a monster can use it's action to try and spot/stop them.

Magic allows your character to use any spell they know, but the more powerful the spell, the higher the Target Number they have to roll to successfully cast the spell. But your spell roll is also used by monsters to 'resist' that spell. So rolling great has its rewards. However, magic can also be "fumbled/backfire", if you roll two or more "1's" in your pool. These can have very chaotic (and fun!) results.

No one finds it fun to die or go unconscious (loosing all your Tough pool) during battle - especially kids. But the game introduces "ghosts". While you are temporarily out of the fight, you may have "ghost" actions, which may aid friends, 'haunt' enemies, or even do battle with other ghosts. This is a great way for to ensure players can still have fun, even if thier character is temporarily disabled.

I could continue to ramble-on, mentioning scores of cool magic items, the great villians/campaign that is built in, how important calandar dates and the "friend's" age becomes important, and how it uses lavish illustrations throughout to walk you through the rules.

If I had to give one negative to my review, it would be about the organization of a few of the rules. Often I found myself flipping back and forth to find rules. For example, spells are introduced early in the book, but magic backfires are explained later in the book. Or how weapons are described in one section, but how some weapons require 2 hands to wield is descibe in a different section.

This is a stunning game, and while it is geared for kids, it would make a valuable addition to any RPG collection. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Magical Land of Yeld
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D&D 5e Mass Combat System
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Newton P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/30/2017 08:57:14

D&D has literally had its roots in table-top wargames ("Chainmail"). But as the concept of a "role playing game" evolved, characters began to spend more time in dungeons than on the battlefields. Now, some 40 years later, there are attempts to add the 'wargame' back into the RPG. I have come across one such gem: "D&D 5e Mass Combat System".

I've looked at many such systems, but most I consider a failure, for several reasons:

  • Too much detail: if players wanted a wargame simulation, they would just play a wargame. While some players may enjoy the minutia of determining every last detail of their army, it makes for an incredibly dense and slow game to cross-reference the number of vassals on the land base, determine the peasant militia and then calculate how many bushels of grain it will take to feed them... Neither do people want to learn a whole new system, then get out protractors and rulers and shuffle 100's of pieces on a board for 8 hours to determine who wins.

  • To narrow of scope: some systems just focus on the 'battle' aspect. They don't include rules for how a PC (character) can influence the battle. Or they don't include rules on how much it costs (time, gold) to field an army. Or they don't include staples of fantasy battles, like fantasy races, monsters, or magic: what happens when four dragons attack a castle of 200 elf wizards?

This is where "D&D 5e Mass Combat System" hits my sweet-spot. The rules are only 29 pages long (compared to most systems that are over 100 pages). It makes use of 5e's system of 'advantage' and 'disadvantage' to remove a lot of the minor battlefield modifiers. It scales easily from 20 people per side, to 10,000 people per side. PCs (heroes) make a huge difference on the battlefield, yet it doesn't require keeping details of which spells or abilities they use. War-lord economics are broken down to the basics, and focuses only on the really cool stuff that most players want to get involved in (e.g. building a castle, instead of figuring out how farmers are needed to feed your population).

Because this system 'mirrors' the 5e rules, (actions, moves, reactions, bonus actions), players instinctively know how it works...they don't need to learn a whole new system.

If I ever need to have a mass battle in my game, I'll be using these rules.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D&D 5e Mass Combat System
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Creator Reply:
Thank you so much for this thoughtful review. You picked up on the traditions that inspired this work. In emerged out of my own tabletop group's campaign in which we needed to fight some epic battles (for the fate of the Dales). As you observed, our DM wanted something that would be tactically fun, find a sweet spot in terms of complexity, and allow heroes to influence but not by themselves decide the outcome. From this kernel, it's been a lot of fun working up this fuller treatment. It's rewarding to see that others find it useful too.
Tomb of Annihilation: Beginnings...
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Newton P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/22/2017 14:54:22

This is a fantastic alternative start to Tomb of Annihilation. It adds more depth, giving some foreshadowing to a certain Lich at the Heart of Ubatao. It also adds way more detail to the Wizard's Journal (given by Wakanga O'Tamu) - which helps focus the player's trip through the jungle (instead of hex-hopping). It adds 5 more random encounters in the jungle, based on real-life African Folklore. The clip-art and maps are minimal.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of Annihilation: Beginnings...
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Dungeons & Delvers - Black Book
Publisher: Awful Good Games
by Newton P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/31/2017 22:47:16

This is a great book. It is a very well laid-out book coming in at 141 pages, with colour pictures throughout. At first I thought it might be a D&D retro-clone/OSR but I'd say it borrows many elements from 3.5e and 5e, yet keeping the simplicity of earlier versions.

It has 4 basic races; the human, elf, and dwarf you might expect, however the kobold rounds out the list, which may be an odd departure from the usual halfling race. Apart from that, the racial modifiers/abilities are pretty much what you'd expect.

The game has the basic 4 classes; Cleric, Fighter, Rogue and Wizard. The details for each class are based upon choosing talents (akin to feats in other versions). Even the wizard and cleric's spells are listed as talents (instead of a list of spells). This is very much like Dungeon World. While the list is limited (around 8-10 options for the Fighter or Rogue, and around 15-20 for the cleric and wizard), it definately gives you the customization you'd expect in later versions of D&D.

The game is limted to level-5 characters, and I'm really interested to see more options if later additions come out for this game.

The game has a detailed skill list (but not too large) and rules for crafting. It has a fair selection of equipment, and a streamlined set of combat rules you'd expect (there are no rules for Attacks of Opportunity, disengaging the enemy, etc, so it can easily be played in the Theater of your mind). Combat is slightly different in that it uses Armor for both the target number to hit (e.g. AC) as well as damage reduction (DR). Characters have both Wound Points (e.g. HPs) and Vitality Points (VP) which seems to be a way of recovering a portion of health between combats (which I like better than later D&D's version's "healing surges").

There is a small DM section, as well as a well put together list of monsters (about 25 of them), and magic items.

Overall this is an excellent value for your money. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do next (levels 6+).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeons & Delvers - Black Book
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Esper Genesis: Fall of the Eos Keldor
Publisher: Alligator Alley Entertainment
by Newton P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/12/2017 16:09:09

Esper Genesis is essentially D&D 5e with a sci-fi skin applied to it.

This free starter adventure requires the 5e rules to play. Most of the gameplay from 5e remains the same. Indeed, it seems like arcane spells (renamed channeling) and divine spells (renamed forging) remain almost the same, but with different names (e.g. Firebolt is now "force bolt"). Healing potions are now healing elixirs, etc. Weapons and Armor have close equivalents to their D&D counterparts. The authors explain that while future weapons would be far more deadly than their fantasy counterparts, but armor has also advanced as well, so instead of introducing a cumbersome "mega" damage or multiplier, they had just scaled them down to match each other for ease of play. It works. There are additional rules for modern weapons like shotguns (cone effect), spraying (burst) autofire, and recoil. It is all quite eloquent.

The re-skinning of the D&D rules makes it easy for anyone familiar with the 5e rule-set to jump right into the game. However, this starter book lacks some elements that one might expect in a sci-fi game (e.g. no mention of cybernetics, robotics, etc). The book also gives a brief taste of starship combat.

The majority of the book is a starter adventure "Fall of the Eos Keldor" which adequately shows off the new rules and flavor of the Esper Genesis universe. It has 4 pre-gen characters to quickly get you into the action (the equivalents of a Fighter, Rogue, Mage and Cleric). The adventure has a good mix of combat, investigation and star-ship battle.

Because this book seems to be a condensed or play-test version of the rules, it is not without its problems. For example, when playing through the adventure the 'Specialist' (rogue) wanted to pick up some of the guards weapons. While we know which fantasy weapons a 5e rogue has proficiency in, we were uncertain what the sci-fi equivalent would be from the weapon chart. Star-ship combat requires lots of rolls against a ship's "maneuver defense", yet that stat was not listed on the enemy's ship's stat block. And there were some blatant errors, like the channeling talent (spell) "Lightning Whip" which has a duration of 1 round, but the description clearly says "...for each of your turns for the duration..." (it probably should have a duration of 1 minute).



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Esper Genesis: Fall of the Eos Keldor
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Creator Reply:
Hi, Newton! Thank you for your detailed, concise review of our product. It's nice to see someone take the time out to provide a thorough review. We want to create a robust sci-fi universe and rules without stepping on or changing what makes 5E enjoyable. For this reason, the starter adventure contains all the basics that are familiar to 5E players. The remaining classes will be branching out in different directions. Sadly, yes, we did not have room for rules on robotics and cybernetics. These do exist in the EG ruleset and are fully detailed in the upcoming Master Technician's Guidebook. As for the adventure itself, it has been updated to reflect the changes that were made during the playtest phases we've had over the past 6 months. This would most likely account for the new terminology that didn't carry over to stats, or the differences in the talent description. We apologize for this and will make sure it is corrected. We look forward to making this game fun and adaptable for all 5E players. Thank you again!
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