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Advanced Ancient Academy
Publisher: Robertson Games
by Whidou -. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/15/2023 07:45:32

The map and illustrations are nice. Unfortunately, the module is not great, everything is bland, the details added on top of the one-page version bring nothing except excessive verbosity. There is no coherent narrative emerging from the dungeon, one could get a similar result by rolling on the fly completely random contents, loot and encounters for each room. The prep effort required to make this module interesting would be roughly equal to the effort required to write a better module from scratch. I don't enjoy leaving negative reviews, but this module was nothing but disappointment for me.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Ancient Academy
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Mail Order Apocalypse
Publisher: Orkpiraten
by Whidou -. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/15/2023 07:24:08

Great cheerful twist on the post-apocalypse genre that also tackles current societal topics with levity. Quick to read, easy to play, evocative, and full of helpful tips. Works well for one-shots, but one might want to mix it up with another setting for long campaigns to get more diversity. Players greatly enjoyed the flash-forward adventure intros and thrilling action sequences, but lamented the lack of differentiation between the 6 character backgrounds beyond starting gear. Greyscale interior art looks good. 100% worth picking up at full price if you like heist movies or hate Amazon's systematic enshitification of society.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mail Order Apocalypse
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Macchiato Monsters
Publisher: Lost Pages
by Whidou -. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2019 09:35:56

The Black Hack may be the game that popularized the usage dice mechanic, but Macchiato Monsters is the one that made it reach its full potential. It is chock-full of clever uses for it, from magic and morale to weather and chaos. This reduces accounting to the bare minimum, and injects a fair bit of randomness into the game. A bit too much, even: trying to predict the outcome of a situation often becomes so challenging it can hurt serious play. Nothing ever goes as planned, surprising events are legion, the best way to enjoy it is to let go and go with the flow. It's the kind of game you play to have enjoyable light-hearted fun. The one time my group tried playing a grimdark fantasy campaign with it was quickly derailed by the Saturday morning cartoon-like zaniness brought in by the all-encompassing random nature of the game.

I haven't picked Macchiato Monsters as my system of choice because many parts of it do not suit my taste, but it is a great toolbox filled to the brim with good ideas ready to be imported into your home game. Here are some of the things that I did not like, but might not bother you:

  • Roll-under
  • I find usage dice for money awkward to use and more cumbersome than simply counting coins
  • The magic system requires quick an sometimes complex cost estimations on the referee's part, which can lead to frustration on both side of the table if handled poorly. You start getting a feeling for it after a few games, but it can still lead to issues every now and then.
  • A powergaming player will easily bring the game to its knees by abusing the DEX as king stat pitfall and the freeform elements. This can be avoided by picking carefully who you play with and ensuring that everyone is on the same boat as to the table's expectations. But, well, you know, it's always easier said than done.
  • Applying too many of the usage dice-fuelled optional rules makes the game too random for my taste by reducing the impact of player choice.
  • Healing magic is, in my view, handled poorly, but I have yet to see an HP-as-mana system that does it well. I don't have an answer on how to solve that besides forbidding it entirely, which is not satisfactory either.
  • Weak but hard to hit enemies are represented by a high HP count since there is no AC, which if find counter-intuitive.

Aside from those turn-offs, I found in Macchiato Monsters a wealth of well thought-out creative ideas:

  • Its mass-combat rules have become my go-to mechanic to handle these scenes in any game: it's quick and easy to use, delivering the outcome of a battle round in a simple glance at the dice.
  • The chaos table for botched spells is a nice variation on traditional miscast rules and provides incentive for the magic users to take into account the "ambient magic" of the places of adventure.
  • The equipment tables are an endless source of inspiration for new characters.
  • Detailed rules for hirelings and followers that give them both depth and a wide range of uses besides fighting and hauling the loot.
  • Simple and freeform character creation and building, letting imaginative players go wild while providing ideas and prompts to those whose lack ideas on what to play.
  • Goal-based XP for the group and individual characters to promote both team spirit and individual character development.
  • Quick and easy to use wilderness generation tables for on-the-fly exploring
  • And so much more!

Whether you like the game or not, you are sure to find something you like in it. Well worth its price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Macchiato Monsters
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