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Warlock! Different Paths
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/26/2020 20:51:41

Great stuff. Bought and read a couple of days ago. I really appreciate the (mostly) linear expansion that Fire Ruby is going with so far. This piece simply takes the demihuman communities further on, with a good number of interesting new careers. Not scads of them, but all interesting.

Excellent layout again, clear and simple, with great black and white art. This is how you deliver solid information with zero fluff. The art here serves the document, as does the layout, the typography, all of it. This is excellent design in service of an excellent short book. Another worthy addition to Warlock.

Here is the brilliant thing about designs like Warlock's and games like Sharp Swords and Sinister Spells. With careers, or in SSSS vocations, you get in essence a whole suite of advantages and disadvantages in one phrase, for instance the "Halfling Gong Farmer" depicted on Mustafa Bekir's typically excellent cover. YOU define case by case what a dung cleaner would be good at and bad at. So you get not only the neat and funny background of being able to say that your PC literally shovelled sh*t, but practical effects easily applied with no need to consult any rule.

Buy all Warlock products right now! They are cheap, well written, great layout, great art. One of the best bargains in gaming.

My only gripes are (1) still too many typos and (2) the design should incorporate a back cover for the sake of printing while maintaining the four-up folio format. I print and bind my own books, so I've been rebuilding the doc with a back cover, but to be perfect, these docs should printable from the go in booklet form with a divisible-by-four page count, blanks where necessary to maintain that, and a blank or art-only back cover.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warlock! Different Paths
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Warlock!
Publisher: Fire Ruby Designs
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/19/2020 17:54:04

Obvious from the most cursory reading:

  • A solid, elegant, and easily hacked skill-based game written with clarity by Greg Saunders and illustrated very well by Mustafa Bekir, Denis McCarthy, JM Woiak and Heather Shinn.
  • Rock-solid layout with clean lines, ample whitespace and an excellent choice of font (some species of the typewriter font Letter Gothic). Well done by designer Paul Bourne.

Great work. This game is based on several of the more ancient games popular in Britain in Roman times or something. The only knowledge of FF or WHFRP I come to this with is that I own and have read Zweihander, and I am itching to play this. Right now my friend is running a game using a system we're not too crazy about and I've been recruited to choose the new system. I'll likely be choosing Warlock.

The single resolution mechanic, the Skill Roll, is simple. The Skill Roll is executed by adding your rating in Skill X to a d20 roll and try to match or beat the number 20.

What gives a lot of flavor to this simple mechanic is the Career system, with which many will be familiar. There are 32 Skills which will initially range from 4 to 6, whatever way you choose. After that, you choose a Career, which choice dictates the skills package you have, and thus which skills, and their maximum value, you can increase during the Career. And a design bit I love is that the Career itself is a skill, with a rating of the average of all the skills under its rubric. So if I am a Soldier, and I have ratings of Command 8, Bow 6, Dodge 10, Large Blade 8 and Polearm 6, that's 8+6+10+8+6 = 38/5 = 7.6 or 8, for a Soldier skill of 8. What's that good for? Well that's for when your Skilly skills don't exactly apply but you think for example "I'm a Soldier, I should be able to judge the worth of this unit tactic" or whatever. If it's important and another skill doesn't cover the act, and most importantly if the GM agrees, your "appraise tactic" skill is 8.

It's hard to describe, I guess, why this game balances (on a read, at least) so well on the simplicity - challenge axis. For those of us who tend to more simple frameworks upon which to erect our game stories, this is just plain good simple design, both in the game and in the book. Still too many typos in it for me to buy the hardcover just yet, but whatevs. 5 Stars, easily.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warlock!
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Hexed Places - Ash Wood
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:25:36

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - Ash Wood
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Hexed Places - The Gray Ribs
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:25:24

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - The Gray Ribs
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Hexed Places - Bitterblack Forest
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:24:43

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products. I have no idea what the complaint is with it being zipped only, and the idea that you'd knock off a whole star, or two as the guy said he almost did, is a headshaker. Whatever, you can see that the author replied affirmatively, but the problem now is that, because this buyer can't handle a zip file, you get multiple items in the download, which is way more annoying to me as a frequent buyer than having to unzip.

Whatever. These products are uniformly great. No wasted space, great, solid ideas, each booklet can be the jumping off point for a whole campaign that could last you months.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - Bitterblack Forest
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Creator Reply:
Andrew -- thanks for your kind reviews. To clarify for those who have not yet purchased Hexed Places, the zip archive contains all three files that are available individually, you can download either the zip or the separate files and end up with the exact same stuff. If anyone happens to find a Hexed Places that is missing a zip or individual files, please let me know! That's a mistake on my part and I'll correct it ASAP. Thanks again Andrew, I'm glad you're having fun with Hexed Places!
Hexed Places - The Sharp Hills
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:19:05

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - The Sharp Hills
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Hexed Places - Denshi Ferry
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:18:54

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - Denshi Ferry
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Hexed Places - Crescent Lake
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:18:40

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - Crescent Lake
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Hexed Places - Two Fang Gap
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:18:28

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - Two Fang Gap
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Hexed Places - The Bogwood
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:18:13

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - The Bogwood
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Hexed Places - Fen Fields
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:17:55

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - Fen Fields
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Hexed Places - The Sand Coast
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:16:23

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS -- Please see my review of Five Pack #1 or #2, identical reviews of the bundles containing these products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - The Sand Coast
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Hexed Places - Five Pack #1 [BUNDLE]
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:14:21

A MUST BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS

Please note that this is the same review as I posted for Five Pack #2

I've bought both bundles, and have read through most of them, so 10 in all. Each of these is short and sweet and most definitely worth the price, and I'd say several dollars more if you compare to the general value of what you get for $2-3. I'll just cover this in bullet points because I'm not going to write up a big review and edit it:

  • I've yet to come across one bad idea.
  • If you're not sure about the concept or structure of hexcrawl books, give just one of these a shot. Download the free Compendium, which describes each booklet, and choose one.
  • These are written in DnD, but they'll be good for any fantasy game that has a random-monsters angle to it or which needs a wilderness.
  • The structure is a breakdown of one six-mile hex into its component one-mile hexes with >> A. General description of the six-mile, with history of what makes it special. B. Rumors. These are all solid and logical. C. Location callouts. Each six-mile will have about four to six one-miles called out, and they are tight, to the point, but not so short as to be like "thanks, I guess I'll do all the work then". It's about the purpose and the inhabitants. Good people, bad monsters, good monsters, bad people, cursed locations, interesting nature, they're all in there. D. Random encounter table! Awesome. Linked directly to the theme and population of the Hexed Place, of course. Great stuff. E. Extras: Here is the boom. Not every idea here is totally original, which is great. Let's have a bit of familiarity with our gonzo, okay? This is really what I was thinking of when I said above "Yet to come across a bad idea." Major NPCs, Major new monsters, Major treasures, all of course linked to the Hexed Place and totally logical to the inhabitants and history. F. And of course what I should have put first, the maps. Maybe you don't like hexmaps with their definitive symbols and such. I would expect a lot of people don't. To me, they're a tool. No one map can convey all relevant facts about a place. You know when you try to communicate elevation AND vegetation in one map? Then add politics? It's usually almost incomprehensible. So maybe think of hexmaps as an "Map of Dynamics and Vegetation". That is a stupid phrase, but I can't think of a better right now. "Factors & Flora" or something.

    Anyway, these products are an example of excellent design and excellent, concise, imaginative writing. I will be planting these six-mile hexes in my bigger map and making a campaign that is impinged on by the NPCs, monsters and locations described here. Can't give it a more heartfelt thumbs-up than that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - Five Pack #1 [BUNDLE]
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Hexed Places - Five Pack #2 [BUNDLE]
Publisher: PBE Games
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2019 12:13:28

A MUST-BUY FOR SANDBOX GAMERUNNERS

Please note that this is the same review as I posted for Five Pack #1

I've bought both bundles, and have read through most of them, so 10 in all. Each of these is short and sweet and most definitely worth the price, and I'd say several dollars more if you compare to the general value of what you get for $2-3. I'll just cover this in bullet points because I'm not going to write up a big review and edit it:

  • I've yet to come across one bad idea.
  • If you're not sure about the concept or structure of hexcrawl books, give just one of these a shot. Download the free Compendium, which describes each booklet, and choose one.
  • These are written in DnD, but they'll be good for any fantasy game that has a random-monsters angle to it or which needs a wilderness.
  • The structure is a breakdown of one six-mile hex into its component one-mile hexes with >> A. General description of the six-mile, with history of what makes it special. B. Rumors. These are all solid and logical. C. Location callouts. Each six-mile will have about four to six one-miles called out, and they are tight, to the point, but not so short as to be like "thanks, I guess I'll do all the work then". It's about the purpose and the inhabitants. Good people, bad monsters, good monsters, bad people, cursed locations, interesting nature, they're all in there. D. Random encounter table! Awesome. Linked directly to the theme and population of the Hexed Place, of course. Great stuff. E. Extras: Here is the boom. Not every idea here is totally original, which is great. Let's have a bit of familiarity with our gonzo, okay? This is really what I was thinking of when I said above "Yet to come across a bad idea." Major NPCs, Major new monsters, Major treasures, all of course linked to the Hexed Place and totally logical to the inhabitants and history. F. And of course what I should have put first, the maps. Maybe you don't like hexmaps with their definitive symbols and such. I would expect a lot of people don't. To me, they're a tool. No one map can convey all relevant facts about a place. You know when you try to communicate elevation AND vegetation in one map? Then add politics? It's usually almost incomprehensible. So maybe think of hexmaps as an "Map of Dynamics and Vegetation". That is a stupid phrase, but I can't think of a better right now. "Factors & Flora" or something.

    Anyway, these products are an example of excellent design and excellent, concise, imaginative writing. I will be planting these six-mile hexes in my bigger map and making a campaign that is impinged on by the NPCs, monsters and locations described here. Can't give it a more heartfelt thumbs-up than that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hexed Places - Five Pack #2 [BUNDLE]
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Midlands Low Magic Sandbox Setting Hex Map
Publisher: Pickpocket Press
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/03/2019 20:15:49

Alright, now this kind of thing is amazing. Midlands was already A+, and the update to this map to include unlabelled versions is just another indication of Steve & friends' dedication to offering a great setting that the user can make her or his own. Kudos to John Stevenson, the creator of the map, and to Steve Grodzicki, the man behind the whole project. The map zooms in very, very well at 300 DPI, the art style holding up very well indeed. You can thus use your favorite image editor (mine is Paint.net) to grab detail areas to build up and still end up with something that looks good.

Great, great work, guys.

AND NOW, with the unlabelled versions, you have 100% of what you need to take this ridiculously useful sandbox and create a world out of it where Pickpocket Press has done the work, both rough and fine, and you keep or discard what you want.

Just another on-point, totally useful facet for a great sandbox campaign.

I owe Pickpocket Press reviews of Midlands Campaign Setting (another A+ work), Post-Midlands Adventure Frameworks (same) and of Low Fantasy Gaming (waiting on the new hardcover being offered for sale), and hope to get to those in short order.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midlands Low Magic Sandbox Setting Hex Map
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