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The Big Score
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/26/2015 08:05:45
The way in which equipment and resources in general are handled by Spycraft has always been a little odd. In real-world espionage, an agent going on an operation is treated in one of two ways, he either is rather grudgingly handed minimal kit and is expected to get on with it or (if his agency is desperate to get the job done) he will have equipment and resources galore offered to him and anything else he needs he'll merely have to ask for... Yet the core rules offer systems of 'gear picks' that require a fair bit of resource-juggling when preparing for a mission. The one bit the rules got 'right' (in real-world terms) is that agents are expected to return everything they've been issued, or account for its loss.

Here is an assortment of ideas designed to enable agents to build up, over time, their own personal (and personalised) equipment - something real-world spies like to do - and even to profit from their adventures materially. After all, not every agent is playing the Great Game out of pure patriotism or even a love of excitement. Here three mini-systems are presented which can be used in conjunction, or you can pick which ones suit your game style and discard the rest. The three systems are the Stockpile system, the Cash'n'Carry system and the Loot system. Depending on which you use, campaign characterists may change as well as the way in which equipment and other parts of the rules function.

The Stockpile system lets characters keep any item with which they are issued on a permanent basis, rather than having to hand it in every time they return from an operation. If you use the formal Intel Phase, that remains (but can be dropped if you prefer), and characters are still limited as to what they possess. Anything designated as a Restricted item cannot normally become a personal possession and will still be loaned out, if you're lucky, when the nature of the operation indicates that it might be of use. The agent's regular equipment is determined at character creation, by rolling Possessions and Gear Picks together and converting the Gear Picks to actual items. Any option taken that provides an item or an extra Gear Pick is included in the total at this point. At the end of a mission, the stockpile refreshes, i.e. anything lost is replaced. It's still a very mechanical system but it does allow for some continuity.

The Cash'n'Carry system caters to those who prefer cold hard cash to abstract gear systems. Gear picks are translated into monetary terms, and characters then have to purchase what they want with that money. Again, this system can be used to allow characters to keep a core or regular equipment (hence you use either Stockpile or Cash'n'Carry, not both). Characters now have to pay for their Lifestyle choice on a regular basis (rent, grocery bills and the like) but they receive a regular income as well as 'starting cash' with which to do so. They can even save - or splash out - as they please. Again, Restricted items may not be acquired during initial purchases, characters will need to get hold of any they want during the course of play - and if not stealing them will have to pay for them. When it comes to a mission, characters receive a sum of money (wages, expenses, term them what you will) that can be used to purchase items required for that mission and to pay regular bills. Characters may also be required to pay for training. It is still a mechanical system, but some players may prefer the added realism of thinking in terms of money. It also makes it easier to add in new items of equipment provided you can find a real-world price for them. Even if, like me, you live somewhere you cannot go out and purchase firearms legally, there's always the Internet to research overseas gun stores for tasty new 'toys' and their prices!

Finally, the Loot system accounts for all those Restricted items that a character may want to acquire and hang on to but which both the core rules and the rest of the material presented here do not permit. Again, however, it is a rather mechanical system with artificial restrictions, whither you are using Stockpile or Cash'n'Carry to determine what characters normally have.

It all depends on how you want to run your game. If you like cinematic spies, consider how James Bond always stops in to see Q before a mission (and sometimes has a mid-mission 'care package' delivered if the need arises)... and cash never seems to be a problem, except possibly at the gaming tables. If your style is more realistic, how much cash and gear people have needs to be monitored more closely although incomes may be generous. Using a mechanical system is one way to keep checks and balances on what characters may have, but can detract from enjoyment as well. There are interesting ideas here, consider them carefully and use what works for your group.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Big Score
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Fragile Minds
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/22/2015 08:12:01
This supplement is for those who'd like to bring real horror to their Spycraft 2.0 game. The main thrust of the book is horror of the supernatural nature, perhaps you want to mix in a bit of the Cthulhu mythos or other such monsters from beyond, but much could be utilised if you are seeking gritty realism, the sort of fear and horror that quite turns the mind and which can be imagined as part of a real-world espionage story.

To start with there are a selection of campaign qualities with which to set the tone that you want. These determine which aspects of the rules presented here you will use. If you want characters who are scared of the consequences of the sort of things they will have to do, consider using the basic classes from Back to Basics - they are less capable, and can be used to generate the feeling of 'I could die at any moment'... just the kind of thought no spy wants to have when embarking on an operation! Or you may wish to mix in occult knowledge and spellcasting for a quite different kind of horror.

To model the toll that such fear takes on characters, an expanded set of rules for stress damage are presented, making minds as vulnerable (if not more so) than bodies. This causes characters to sustain mental damage - in terms of phobias, mental disorders and even catatonia - as a result of the horrors to which they are exposed. Care needs to be taken here, most players find it far easier to cope with their characters sustaining physical injury (it's only hit points on the character sheet after all, they do not feel the pain) than anything that messes with their minds. To be run successfully, players and GC need to be in accord: even more so once a character sustains lasting mental damage which has to be role-played, it is not something purely represented in game mechanics.

Especially effective when created as a collaborative effort between GC and player, an Unhinged Subplot can be developed and run over the next few sessions culminating (you hope!) in a resolution that will help the character regain his sanity in a manner that also contributes to the ongoing storyline.

A whole slew of things which can cause a character to get stressed out are listed. Many assumes a rather less heroic approach than the classic spy/thriller one, casting the characters as mere ordinary folk rather than the larger than life heroes that normally inhabit a game, especially one like Spycraft. Then the discussion moves on to Forbidden Knowledge - arcane secrets it is probably best not to delve into... only you know how curious characters are, and they may need this knowledge to defeat the threat that they are up against.

Throughout, there are examples and suggestions of ways in which to incorporated different kinds of horror into your game. There is also a collection of monsters and cosmic horrors, if that is the direction you wish to take.

This style of game will not be for everyone, and other groups may prefer to switch to a different game system that's built around such horror from the ground up... yet if you like the spy genre and Spycraft in particular the way that these rules work embeds the horror into the core game mechanics rather than bolting it on as an afterthought.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fragile Minds
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Practice Makes Perfect
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/21/2015 08:33:40
If combat is the high spot of your game, especially if you like it cinematic and exciting, this resource supplies a lot of ideas (complete, of course, with appropriate game mechanics) to make it even more exciting and spectacularly cinematic. It does these through character options and feats, enabling each character to develop his own personal combat style by focussing on particular weapons and techniques. Characters can pick up advanced actions and tricks in place of taking new weapon proficiencies as they rise in level.

Naturally, you can do the same thing with NPCs - you want your antagonists to be able to put up a good fight after all, and to be memorable foes. A mechanism is provided for building this in to quick NPCs, whilst those you wish to detail in full - your major opponents - will use the same rules as characters. Either can use any of the various tricks and techniques presented here, of course.

The range of ideas presented is quite varied, including plenty of unarmed techniques for the brawlers (or martial artists) as well as ones to enhance gunplay for runners and gunners. There are even delightful quirks like Exhibition Shooting, which allows you to target items or scenery with a spectacular shot, showing off - 'That could have been your head!' as you demolish a statue for example.

Each trick - and there are 53 of them - has a descriptive paragraph showing how it works along with the necessary rules information to make it happen around your gaming table. They are also summarised in a chart for quick reference.

If that wasn't enough there is also a whole bunch of feats - basic combat feats, melee feats, ranged feats and unarmed combat ones - that you can take to further customise your fighting style. Many relate to mastery with particular weapons, and some even allow you to recover - more or less gracefully - from rolling a 1 when you attack!

These are somewhat mechanistic and best suited to those groups who'd like to be cinematic but who prefer to play out combat strictly according to the rules. If you tend to free-form and let things flow, relying on player descriptions of actions rather than stepping mechanically through each round of combat, this may be of less use - but it's still worth a look if only to understand how the rules can be made to support whatever it is that you want to do.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Practice Makes Perfect
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Bag Full of Guns: Red Heat
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/20/2015 08:32:19
In this second installment of the Bag Full of Guns series, we take a look at weapons coming from the Soviet Union and latterly Russia, some of the more unusual items stemming from innovative research rather than the more mundane Russian weapons to be found in the core Spycraft 2.0 rulebook.

The idea is that weapon designers were seeking to achieve the twin goals of penetrating power and silence in weapons designed for use in a range of situations including underwater! There's a new weapon quality Submersible to reflect this, which allows firearms with this quality limited effectiveness when submerged, a situation in which most regular firearms are useless: even if they will fire the bullet is so slowed by water resistance that it is very little threat.

The first weapon is not strictly speaking a firearm at all, it's a ballistic knife which looks like a regular combat knife only you can 'fire' the blade using a strong spring in the handle. It has limited range and apparently is woefully inaccurate (not to mention leaving you empty-handed!) so I'm not sure what use it is. Surprise factor, maybe?

Next up, a couple of small holdout pistols including one specifically designed to be silent. Using a sub-sonic round and various engineering tricks to minimise the sound of the mechanism when firing it is pretty quiet. These are followed by several service pistols and revolvers for handgunners who need a bit more stopping power. This collection includes a bizarre-sounding underwater pistol, the Tsniitochmach SPP-1M Underwater Pistol. From the description it looks quite weird... and it actually exists so you can find pictures of it (alas, there isn't an illustration here). It uses a hydrodynamic effect called supercavitation to enable its projectile to travel further than a regular one would when underwater.

A collection of sub-machine guns, assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles follows. Again, however weird they sound, most were actually made and even worked! Each weapon is given a fairly detailed description and there are full game statistics in a big chart at the back.

If your game includes Russian agents they may have used some of these (or at least heard of them) but the real fun will probably come when your characters mount a raid underwater and the defenders pop up with these odd-looking firearms that actually shoot reasonably effectively underwater!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bag Full of Guns: Red Heat
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World on Fire
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2015 08:55:31
The premise of this book is straightforward: to provide a coherent background for modern espionage games that is realistic but imaginary enough to avoid problems such as the real security services coming round to check out your terrorist plot or anyone's real-world sensitivities being offended (after 9/11 my group requested that I never run an aircraft hijack scenario, for example). The introduction explains all this, and is quite fascinating reading now, as when it was published in 2007, Crafty Games had only recently formed as the Spycraft team moved from Alderac Entertainment Group to set up their own company.

Chapter 1: Little World Lost sets a very bleak scene in which everyone - and their governments - seem to have lost their way. Before you say that this is pretty much what the world has become, no - this is darker and more cynical, with some key differences including an underlying dark plot or two... and your characters have the capacity to do something about it. The discussion then launches into an alternate history beginning in 1945 and tracing through the Cold War and beyond, similar to what really occured but with underlying differences that grow and tangle as America, Russia, the UK, China and European organised criminals all circle around each other, plots and counterplots abounding. It's a fascinating and convoluted tale, with just enough rooting in reality to sound plausible, ending with a global wave of terrorist attacks that leads to speculations about the wisdom of forming a world government...

This has led to the formation - or at least revelation - of several organisations. Some mirror real-world organisations and others really do exist. Each gets a paragraph of background, enough to set the scene and let you see who's who. There's also an impressive collection of operations which may (or may not) have been carried out by these organisations, or parties unknown.

And so on to Chapter 2: Traces of Terror. This starts off by discussing the point that most folks don't consider themselves to be 'evil' even when others see them that way... and that things get even murkier in the world of espionage. Not to mention the massive public relations teams that assorted organisations have on hand to make sure that the public believe what they want them to believe, rather than the truth. This chapter is also a chance to meet some of the major players, ones who stay out of sight but have a vast influence on events. It also presents much of the chilling alternate history of recent days within the setting's timeline, establishing the background against which your games will run and your characters operate. Reading through this can send plot ideas spiralling through your mind, and enough is left open-ended that it is possible to start weaving your own ideas through it without tension or the danger of disrupting what is written here. And then there is the utter weirdness of the Eternals. Incorporate them if you want supernatural elements or leave them out entirely, it's all modular enough to allow for this flexibility.

Next comes Chapter 3: Tradecraft. This is all about the things spies do and, crucially, how they go about doing them. Assassination, intelligence gathering, recruitment, subversion and more, they're all here. There are notes on how intelligence organisations function and the day-to-day lives of their operatives. Some of it is even correct... but all of it makes for a good cinematic spy game. There's masses here: tactics for buildings clearance, building cover identities, disguise, even cryptology... (I recall once before this book came out, running a convention game that involved a code - one of the players turned out to be a cryptographer and breezed through that part of the adventure!). There's even advice on legal considerations of the spying game and what to do if you're compromised... and a comprehensive collection of spy jargon so that you can sound the part (if you want to admit to being a spy, that is!). The chapter ends with a fine collection of references - books, films and TV shows that will aid you in presenting this semi-real version of the Great Game convincingly.

Finally, Chapter 4: New Rules presents a wealth of new game mechanics to enhance your game. There are new base and expert classes, the concept of the master class, new campaign qualities and much, much more. New talents and specialities allow you to fine-tune your character, and there are some cinematic combat feats to choose from, other types of feat (gear, style, chase, etc.) not being neglected either. Some of this material is applicable to the World on Fire setting but most can be mixed in to whatever Spycraft game you are running. If you are using this setting, there is rules-based detail on the three 'villainous' factions - the 'Good Guys' are left for future sourcebooks (which didn't materialise, alas) and there are resources for creating notable NPCs as well as full rundowns on some major players in the setting.

Overall, it is an intriguing setting while the Tradecraft and Rules sections are of such quality and general application the book is well worth a look even if you want to run your games in a different setting, or in your version of the real world.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World on Fire
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Alloy of Law Digital Edition
by mike p. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2014 15:11:41
Artwork is great, game mechanics are fine, easily adapted to GURPS or d20 game systems if you wanted to. I love that throughout the book there are insights and specifics given by Brandon Sanderson on the world, characters and how things work from his point of view. This alone made it worth the price.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alloy of Law Digital Edition
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Little Wizards Preview
by Serge S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/22/2014 16:36:10
I purchased this game at my local store about a year ago and can’t recommend it enough.

It’s absolutely excellent. Well written, produced, illustrated and designed, with a real sense of imagination and adventure. Created to help parents introduce their kids to roleplaying, I’d have to say it’s the best roleplaying product I’ve seen in ages, far superior to 99% of the other RPGs that the industry keeps cranking out.

Well worth the download.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Little Wizards Preview
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Bag Full of Guns: This Is My Rifle
by abraham e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2014 13:05:02
As I've mentioned already, this booklet is hurt by a lack of illustrations and with some surprising gaps in coverage. However, it is a good supplement for players who already own a guide to weapons in the D20 system.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bag Full of Guns: This Is My Rifle
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Bag Full of Guns: This is my Gun
by abraham e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2014 13:01:01
I agree with everything JD S said -- not enough illustrations hurt the product.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bag Full of Guns: This is my Gun
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Bag Full of Guns: Red Heat
by abraham e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2014 12:56:56
A good supplement if you already have a D20 compatible guide to modern firearms. My main complaint is that some obvious weapons are missing (the AN-94 comes to mind). The booklet is also a bit sparse on illustrations, which help to make weapons I've never seen myself more concrete. Still, this is a good product and well worth the price.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bag Full of Guns: Red Heat
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Mistborn Adventure Game Digital Edition
by Mic I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2014 22:37:56
Well the game looks great, it has an amazing system, and follows along the lines of the mistborn series. Unfortunately the file is to big to be used on an iPad mini. If your using a computer by all means buy this book, but of your using a iPad mini don't. In the future if it's possible I would love a smaller version of the game. Thanks.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mistborn Adventure Game Digital Edition
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Classic Spycraft: The Silver Line [BUNDLE]
by Adam L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/16/2013 22:08:13
The books are older and out of print but the PDFs are awesome with most of the basic tricks you would come to expect from a PDF.

The bundle has everything you need to play and more!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Classic Spycraft: The Silver Line [BUNDLE]
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Little Wizards
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/12/2013 00:18:29
Little Wizards is the latest RPG from Crafty Games, the same people who brought us Spycraft, Fantasy Craft and the Mistborn Adventure Game. Little Wizards is an RPG designed for kids, and is based on Contes Ensorceles from 7eme Cercle.

Intended as an introductory game to the wonderful world of RPGs for kids aged 6 to 10 or so, Little Wizards takes place in Coinworld, an flat, circular world with two very different faces named Heads and Tails.

Each world has it’s own set of islands that serve as the center of civilization. Heads is a world with an enchanting charm and a friendly environment, while Tails is darker and gloomier, though not much more dangerous.

The trick to these two sides is that it takes magic to travel from one to the other, and thus the reason why Sorcerers and Mages are the central figures to the setting.

The game takes pains to differentiate the two. Sorcery is inherent to a person and is passed on from parent to child. Mages on the other hand are those who develop magic through book learning.

Adventures in Little Wizards are keyed towards kid friendly romps through the setting, and the game doesn’t disappoint. Each of the worlds are detailed in ways to inspire various adventures without being too scary or disturbing for kids.

Character creation is a breeze with the essential choice of being either a Mage or a Sorcerer. This is followed with a whole bunch of fun lists to choose what the Wizard in question looks like, and acts like, and what they’d like to do. The three mechanical traits are Body, Heart and Brain which are ranked according to a scale of Good, Better and Best. Powers are chosen next, with Wizards picking two powers from a list of 3, and getting a Broom Riding Power for free. Powers are ranked similarly to traits, except that they are Good in two powers, while being Better in one of their choice.

The basic mechanics are also very easy to grasp, with a simple 2d6 die roll plus the traits against a target number. It’s possible to get a Disaster if you roll two ones, and a Brilliant Success on rolling two sixes. To help the Narrator on setting difficulties for powers, they also list a bunch of sample difficulties per power set.

The book continues with a lot of useful advice for a Narrator running the game for kids. I’ll admit that the advice is useful even for running for adults and it’s a welcome addition to a game that’s focused on running for a much younger demographic.

The book also includes three Tales, adventures that are ready to run straight from the book, with accompanying material that detail a couple of locations in better detail.



Overall, Little Wizards is a pretty book with colorful illustrations, a unique setting, solid core mechanic, and written in a manner to teach people to run games for the younger age group.

It’s very rarely that I get to see a game that has such a strong focus on usability as Little Wizards. The game guides Narrators in every step in making sure that the end result and adventures for kids are rewarding and fun.

I’ve long held the opinion that Crafty Games are some of the best people at being able to convey the mood of the source material through their work. They were the one group that was able to make Mistborn come alive at the gaming table, and seeing them apply the same clarity to Little Wizards makes it a must-buy for any gamer looking to run for kids.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Little Wizards
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Little Wizards
by Devon K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/06/2013 21:33:22
Little Wizards is a great game. It really is. The PDF is a very easy read and the pages just pop with ideas as I read them. The game is designed to be played with children and is very accessible. I've played this with my 5 year old son many times and we've had a blast every single time. While it takes work to get him to play (not the game's fault) he loves every moment, engaging his imagination, fighting goblins, getting familiars out of trees and scaring zombies into shark infested waters.

The world is divided into two sides of a coin, light and dark. The book has little detail provided on each side of the world and small write-ups of a couple of the archipelagoes create explosions of inspiration for me. I can't stop thinking of adventure ideas as I go through the book.

I've run this game for my game group consisting of adults and we had a blast, as well. The Tails side of Coinworld has all that dark magical goodness that lets you get as dark as you want. The rules are loose and free, yet provide just the right amount of structure. This game is wonderful as a one-shot and for campaign play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Little Wizards Preview
by Ray W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2013 18:59:29
This preview is great, I had heard an interview on Sharkbone podcast about this game and since I have two girls in the age range I thought it would be good to check it out. the preivew gave me just enough detail to know I wanted more and that it will suit my girls. I have now bought the full RPG and am making my way through it now.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Little Wizards Preview
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