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Disposable Heroes Modern Gangs Statix 1
Editorial: Precis Intermedia
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 09/01/14 10:50:39

I recently was in need of some mooks and thugs for an upcoming superhero RPG campaign that I'll be running. I picked up a nice range of used Heroclix for the actual superheroes and a few random crooks, but I still needed a sizable number of pieces to use to represent street gangs, civilians, and the like.

So, once again, I turned to Precis Intermedia, who has been making my gamemastering easy for what seems like ages now with their line of Disposable Heroes. I've used them for ancient-themed games, traditional fantasy, the Civil War era, and much more. Now, it was time to see what they had in the way of supers and modern paper minis.

If there's a complaint with this set, it's that the name "Modern Gangs" is way too limited! This set not only comes with the traditional "mob" guys in suits, but also represents street gangs (red and blue), mercenaries, police officers, your average joe on the street, and some less savory types, as well. This set would go a long way towards filling out the populace of any modern/superhero setting, really. This isn't just modern gangs--it represents a whole host of potential friends, enemies, and citizens for your campaign.

As for the product itself, the 30 different figures here may be printed out in lack and white, and may either be used with Precis Intermedia's bases or cut out in trifold form. There is also the option to use these as flat counters. If you're in need of a veritable hoard of just one type of mini, there are also pages of "armies" of each type of figure.

In terms the actual art, Joshua Cayne did a really nice job on these figures. Printing out my sheets on cardstock on an older inkjet printer at so-so resolution still produced sharp characters that are easy to discern.

If I had a single complaint, is that when I printed out my stand-ups, there was a second page that only had two figures on it. It doesn't look as if any more pieces could have been fit on page one, but it did seem like a bit of a waste of paper, just having two figures on a whole page. Really, though, that's the only issue I had.

It's hard to go wrong with Disposable Heroes, which with this set continue to provide affordable, good-looking paper miniature solutions for the gaming table.



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Vikings Set
Editorial: Arion Games
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 08/06/13 17:32:44

The minis aren't quite as sharp as other Arion Games lines, but they're still darn good. If you're looking for vikings, there aren't a lot of cheap minis options, but thankfully Arion Games is on the case. The miniatures printed out cleanly, and came in a nice variety of characters--far from just your horn-hatted generic viking type, and more towards a historical sort of feel. These would likely be good for any sort of fantasy game, as well.

Very happy overall with this purchase--just what I was looking for!



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Small Ships 1: Launches and Rafts
Editorial: Scrying Eye Games
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 08/03/13 19:26:46

This is absolutely a tremendous deal. Scrying Eye Games has put out a product full of all the small vessels, rowboats, wreckage, or fishing vessels a game might need. The art is high-quality, and there were no issues in printing or cutting these out (I used a medium cardstock, which seems to be just fine).

If you need maps of ships for any campaign--pseudo-medieval fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, Viking Age, or even into early Age of Sail, do yourself a favor and check out the remainder of the Scrying Eye Games line. This is just a preview of the great plans and prices they offer.



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Tall Ships 5: Viking Drakkars
Editorial: Scrying Eye Games
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 08/03/13 19:23:02

Really nice quality, good price. There are not a lot of products out there that work for a Viking longboat, so this was a godsend. It's nice that if you need a few ships for sea combat, they're all right here, with slightly different configurations. I'll definitely check out the rest in this series.



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Triumphant! Super Heroic Role Playing Game
Editorial: Beyond Belief Games
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 08/03/13 16:36:42

It seems to me as though a lot of superhero RPG games have jumped into the market in the last few years. It makes sense, of course; we’re living in an age where big-budget superhero films are prevalent and more and more heroes are jumping from comics to the silver screen. It seems as if for every new blockbuster superhero movie, there’s a new supers game on the market. It’s a crowded RPG genre right now, and it’s tough to sometimes discern which supers RPG is right for a particular Game Master or group.

Today’s review is of the TRIUMPHANT! Super Heroic Roleplaying Game (yes, that’s the full title), the most recent title by Simon Washbourne at Beyond Belief Games. Washbourne and BBG are perhaps best known for their excellent Barbarians of Lemuria, although as a fair warning, I will say that game differs mechanically from Triumphant!. This is the 129-page pdf version, purchased through RPGNow. As mentioned above, Triumphant! is facing some serious competition from other supers games, so let’s see how it would measure up.

Triumphant! begins with the usual introduction, with Washbourne taking time to explain a bit about the overarching supers RPG genre, as well as define key terms to be used through the text. He also mentions the game is designed to be “light and heroic”, so there’s not a lot of built-in, Iron Age angst here (although I suppose there’s no reason it couldn’t be introduced, it isn’t a focus of the game).

The next chapter entails character creation, and begins by listing two dozen archetypes, ideas for characters that might be stuck on what type of superhero to play. These range from “Acrobat” to “Mentalist” to “Teleporter”, and are merely suggestions—not a mechanical template by any means.

The first table we come to deals with power level of the campaign, which will govern how many and which type of dice each player will receive. You’re going to start with more dice to allocate if you’re playing at the “Stellar Defender” level versus “Street Vigilantes” or “Local Heroes”. This is our first indication that the product uses a sort of step-die mechanic in play, and dice allocation for creating characters. Characters with a discrepancy in power level are balanced by the number of “Triumph Dice” they receive (more on those shortly).

Once you have your concept and power level sorted out, you allocate dice to your Conditions. Conditions are comprised of your Ego, Health and Reflexes. For each dice assigned, the level goes up one. So if the default of my Ego is a D4, and I assign a dice to it, it bumps to a d6. Depending on the level of your game, you might see anything from a D4 in a Condition or Skill (regular human) to 2D10 (Cosmic-level, noted in game as DD10).

Conditions are important because they are passively used as different damage tracks of a sort, as well as to resist certain types of attacks. So my Ego might be used to resist interrogation or mental attacks, my Health can be used to as a measure of resisting or taking physical harm, energy attacks, and the like, and Reflexes can measure how quickly I can get out of the way of something.

Skills are assigned in much the same way as conditions. You allocate your dice to the desired skill. There are 21 general skills, which cover the usual areas—from Perception to Animal Handling to Occultism to Socializing.

Skills bought at a higher level will have a specialty. If a skill has a die level than D6, then you’ll be choosing a specialty. For example, I take Survival at D8. My Survival skill would rate D6, but I’d be able to take a skill like Trapping at a D8. Each additional dice level would allow me to increase the number of specializations I have for my character.

For Powers, the dice type is equal to the dice type allocated; no counting steps. So if I put a D8 in Fast Healing, it’s going to be D8 on my sheet. You can bump up your dice if you give it a Limitation, such as tying a Mind Blast power to an amulet the character has to wear. That could raise it from a D6 to a D8, for example. A power Enhancement can provide a boon such as armor penetration, but correspondingly drops the dice level in return.

The game lists over 60 powers, and everything essential seems to be covered. Due to the nature of the mechanics, it would be extremely easy to add more powers as desired. The Powers section of the book is truly excellent about providing possible limitations or enhancements, and it feels like you could make plenty of characters very easily that didn’t feel the same or just slightly varied.

The slight difference in how Condition/Skills and Powers are allocated was momentarily confusing, but once I had made a few characters, I was generating characters in minutes.

When you’re done, you can add Benefits to your character to give them an edge, or perhaps just another sort of hook. Benefits can range from an animal companion to having a helpful companion or a totally awesome hideout (there’s an awesome section in here about building one that I absolutely loved). Of course, there are also Drawbacks, and you have to pick one for each Benefit taken. Drawbacks can be a nasty arch-nemesis, a terrible secret, or even old age.

Once the character is fleshed out, we get to Task Resolution and Combat. I really liked this section. For task resolution, you’re going to roll the relevant Skill or Power to see if you tie or exceed the Target Number for a success. What’s interesting is that if you’re using a Power, your Target Number will only be half compared to someone using a Skill. So a world-class gymnast using the Athletics skill might need to roll a 4 to complete a certain task, whereas the guy using his Super Agility power only needs to roll half the for a success. A character with top skills can make up for a lot, but superpowers are still, well, super.

Essentially, combat flows by matching a Power vs. another Power or Skill, with the differential going to damage. Stick with me, because this is actually very quick and clever in play.

The characters roll their Priority Die for initiative (the dice type is higher, based on your classification of hero. So Superman is likely to go ahead of the Mystery Men). The attacker then declares the Power or Skill they are using to attack, and the targeted defender responds with a Power or Skill they are using to try to stop the attack.

An attacker only attacks once per round, but a character can defend each round with as many ways as they have of defending. So if my Super Fast Guy is targeting by four different guys in a round, I could use my Super Speed to try to counter one attack, Super Agility for another, Precognition for a third, and my plain Athletics skill for the last. Part of the fun seems to be in figuring out just how you’re defending the attack.

If the defender rolls higher on his roll than the attacker, then the attack is blunted. If the attacker rolls higher, then the difference between the attacker and defender’s result is noted, and applied (by Defender’s choice, assuming they have a good explanation—the book otherwise provides guidelines) to Ego, Health, and Reflexes. It's important to note skills-based and normal weapon attacks do half-damage compared to Powers-based attacks--in keeping with the earlier notes on task resolution.

Combat Example: Super Speedy Guy uses his Super Speed (D8) to create a tornado around Doctor Cretin. Dr. Cretin attempts to stop the attack with his Pyrokinesis, creating a flame wall around him. Super Speedy Guy rolls a 6, whereas Dr. Cretin only rolls a 4. 6-4=2, which means Dr. Cretin takes 2 steps of damage. That speedy tornado cuts through and blasts him solidly. Dr. Cretin's player decides the damage comes off of his Health, dropping it from a D8 to a mere D4.

If a Condition drops below a D4, it goes to a D3, which indicates an extremely weakened level. If a condition drops to zero, any additional damage is carried over to one of the other conditions and the character is out of the fight for the rest of the scene. If all three conditions drop to zero, the character is out of commission, and probably in really bad place.

There are rules for combo attacks (teamwork), taking an aggressive stance, delaying—all the little tactics that can make combat really come to life. All of is easily understandable, and shouldn’t require any additional work on the part of the group.

Remember at the start of this interview, when I mentioned disparate power levels could be smoothed out a bit by Triumph Dice? Well, that’s also covered in this section. Triumph dice allow for the some special effects to “level the playing field”, so to speak. These effects can be to instantly take out a group of mooks, temporarily add an enhancement or drop a limitation from a power, re-roll, or max out a single roll. (The text in this section confusingly says all players get five triumph dice, but this appears to be a typo—generally, lower-powered characters get more Triumph Dice as compensation). It’s probably not enough to make your iteration of a low-powered Crimson Avenger feel adequate next to Superman and Martian Manhunter, but it will help them stay useful and active, which is good—teamwork and allowing disparate power levels to work together should be an aim of any good supers RPG.

Oh, and kudos for including a very in-depth example of combat. New and old players alike should pick this up quite nicely.

After Combat, we come to section for Game Masters. This is often wasted page space in RPGs, but Triumphant! does a nice job of keeping it relevant. I liked the parts about having super teams deal with things like natural disasters, and how to make those in their own right. Really, the entire section on using scenery in fights and on various types of threats is very good. This section also includes some sample baddies, animals, and other threats statted out for your game.

The final section is Sovereign City, which is in some ways the weakest part of the book. I understand why a sample setting is included, but in my experience, most GMs usually work with their own setting or that of a popular comics imprint. There’s nothing wrong with it as a setting, but it probably won’t set the world on fire, either.

Triumphant! also includes an index, which is nice even in a smaller RPG product. Full points there.

In terms of layout, the product is nothing fancy, but is quite serviceable, and shouldn’t cause too much strain or headaches. Art? Well, that’s tricky. There are some really nice pieces in here that were clearly commissioned that work well, but there are also some pieces that appear to be more like stock art. I’m usually not huge on art in RPGs, but for whatever reason, I think it’s important to have a nice bit of inspirational art in supers gaming, to set the tone and give ideas. The art here is sort of a mixed bag—not bad, per se, but not really presenting a unified vision or remaining consistent in quality throughout. That’s not a huge deal for me, though it’s probably worth mentioning.

Pricing is a bit tricky on this product. The pdf is on sale at RPGNow for $10 (EDIT: It now appears to be only $7.50), but the print-on-demand format actually has two offerings: a black-and-white interior version ($22.84), and a full-color version ($41.54). As this is a pdf review, I can’t comment on how the book comes off in print, though I suspect it’s pretty close to the usual lulu print-on-demand offering.

For an overall rating, I’d give this game a very satisfied 7.5/10, and tracking higher. Art aficionados and those who want ornate production values will probably be uninspired, but those who are fine with a serviceable layout and get to the rules will probably come away impressed more often than not. There are a few pesky typos I certainly hope get revised in the near future.

If you’re in the market for a new supers RPG, or still haven’t found one that quite scratches that itch, Triumphant! Super Heroic RPG is well worth checking out in at least pdf form. As to whether someone might enjoy this over ICONS or Mutants and Masterminds, that’s a bit deeper of a question. ICONS is a fine game, though some folks struggle with Aspects and Determination. Triumphant! is no more difficult than ICONS, and might be a bit more straightforward in some ways, especially if you’re looking at playing with your children. It seems as if it will do lower-level supers a bit better than Mutants and Masterminds 3e, and is a bit less “crunchy” in terms of rules. It’s beyond the scope of the review to compare Triumphant! to every supers game on the market, but suffice to say if you’re a fan of dice-allocation character creation, straightforward mechanics, and some rules that manage to deal with most superhero conventions without bloat, Triumphant! Super Heroic RPG will likely be right up your alley.



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100 Deathtraps
Editorial: Second Rat Games
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 02/22/13 16:42:37

I have enjoyed products in the Second Rat Games line before, most notably the excellent Background Noise. However, 100 Deathtraps is a bit of a disappointment.

The product features a d100 chart, and 100 individual traps or situations which could lead to a character's demise. There are no real mechanics to speak of, and some of the deathtraps are not "traps" in the sense one would perhaps initially consider (For example, leaving someone in the middle of the desert to die is one of the presented scenarios).

Ultimately, there's nothing here that couldn't be harvested from a bit of time on a site such as TV Tropes. This would be a good free or 50 cent supplement to get a Game Master's mind going, but is of regrettably only marginal utility at the current $1.99 price.

I can wholeheartedly recommend checking out some of the company's other titles, but this one probably rates a pass, unless a GM is just really stumped for precarious player situations.



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BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
Editorial: DwD Studios
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 02/11/13 18:06:38

You might say there are two types of rules-light games. There are those that give you the basic essentials you need to run and play a game--the briefest of outlines, so to speak. Then there are those that manage to remain simple and easy to use, but still manage to give robust support to the Game Master, and an excellent outline for creativity and expansion.

It is precisely because BareBones Fantasy falls into the latter, more elusive category that I can happily recommend it to gamers.

BareBones Fantasy (aka BBF) is by DwD Studios, and comes to you by some of the names responsible for the continued support and revival of the old Star Frontiers RPG. Fittingly enough, the rules borrow some of the conventions of that game, albeit in a neatly presented and updated format.

Let's start with the basics. This 82-page dynamo uses a roll-under percentile system, with doubles (44, 77, etc.) being treated as critical successes or failures, depending on if the roll is under or over the target number. 00-05 is always a success on a reasonable attempt, and a 95-99 always fails.

BareBones has 4 stats, or Abilities, which can either be rolled randomly or assigned via point buy. Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Logic (LOG), and Will (WIL), should be self-explanatory for most any gamer. These Abilities are used for checks (STR check to lift things, resist poison; DEX to jump out of the way of something, etc.), and also play an important part in class/skill, as we're about to see.

There are the 4 basic fantasy races in here (though I understand a supplement with additional races is forthcoming)--Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. Each of these races gets a bonus to one Ability, and a few other add-ons as well.

The game uses one of my favorite, and regrettably lesser-used conventions in gaming--class as skill. There are 8 skills, which are Cleric, Enchanter, Leader, Scholar, Spellcaster, Scout, Thief and Warrior. The last three of that list can be used unskilled by all characters; the others must be trained. Each character gets a primary and secondary skill to start with, each of which get a corresponding bonus. The starting percentage (before bonuses) for a skill is half the governing Ability. A list of what each skill can do is provided--Spellcaster ties to your capacity to cast spells, Cleric links to your religious knowledge and divine gifts, and so on down the line.

A brief word on magic: there are only 17 spells in this game, which might seem like a small amount, but the spells can be customized based on desired effect. For example, the Charm spell can be used not only to magically win folks over to your side, but also to drop them into a deep sleep, intimidate them into fleeing in fear, and so on. A Spellcasting roll is required to cast--and that's the danger to the caster really, the specter of a critical failure. A lucky caster can sling spells all day long--there's no worries of Mana or Spells Per Day here.

From there, you pick out equipment from the provided list, and then derive a couple of secondary stats--your starting Body Points (yep, Hit Points), your Initiative, your Damage Reduction (adjusted by your armor choice), and your Movement (how many spaces you can move in a turn). It's all quite quick and painless.

For a rules-light game, there are some cool aspects of rounding out your character. The Alignment code reminds me of Pendragon, with players defining their character as Somewhat/Very/Totally Kind or Cruel, Focused or Unfocused, Selfless or Selfish, Honorable or Deceitful, and Brave or Cowardly. The player also specifies two Descriptors, one negative ("Drinks too much") and one positive ("Well-mannered") to further flesh out the character. I also appreciate the step-by-step examples and inclusion of sample character to help character creation along. It's all ridiculously simple, but it's still a nice, reassuring sort of feature.

Perhaps the biggest positive takeaway for me on character generation is how you can have an interesting hybrid sort of character without having a be-all and end-all sort of supreme "special snowflake". You can have a character that wears heavy armor and can still Spellcast, but he'd better have a high enough Strength to pull it off. And if you throw all your points in making that work, you're going to kick butt, yet you'll still have your weak areas. Players should have a lot of fun diversifying their characters and find the right balance between specialization, and the siren call of being a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

There aren't many pages (barely two) spent explaining the basic mechanics, mainly because a) they're simple, and b) the author, one Mr. Larry Moore (along with co-designer Mr. Bill Logan), has a wonderful penchant for explaining things in a clear, succinct matter. There's a brief description of Contested Rolls between characters, Resistance checks (which are the same as doing an Ability check), and a few words on healing, and then we're ready for combat.

The combat section is short and sweet. First you roll initiative. If you have an initiative rating of 2, you roll 2d10s and pick the best d10 roll of the two. (A bit off the beaten path, but fun). Then you attack, trying to roll under either your Warrior (Melee) or Warrior (Ranged) skill. Your opponent can try to Dodge, using a DEX check. If you hit, you roll damage for your weapon, taking into account any armor worn by your foe and subtracting its rating from the total.

If you want to act more than once in a round, each additional action has a -20% penalty. So, you can try to tumble across the spiked floor, throw your dagger at the high priest, punch the guard square in the jaw, and then Dodge when he tries to headbutt you on his turn, but your chances of success grow dimmer the later in the sequence an action is. Being roll-under percentile, there's always at least a chance of success, but you're also in trouble if you get too carried away.

Leveling up is a matter of earning Development Points (DPs). There's a checklist in here for the Game Master, to reward. DPs are granted each session if the character plays to alignment and descriptors, if they are an active participant, for completing in-game goals, etc. You can spend them on bumping up Skills, learning new languages, or increasing Abilities.

Now, many rules-light RPGs might stop there. If all BareBones did was present a rules-light system, throw in a few monsters and some generic GM advice and call it quits, it would still be an attractive gaming option. But where BareBones Fantasy thrives is in making this light game feel well-supported and full of options and good material.

There's the section on magic items, and magic item creation. There are charts and tables--in abundance, I should say. For the chart-o-phile as well as the harried GM, this game has you covered. There are charts for adventure creations, charts for dungeon creation. There are treasure charts, magic item tables, and even a fun one for alternate rewards--how about a noble title or deific blessing, if your quest was epic enough?

The best part is, none of the above feels hand-wavey or an afterthought. This game is easy, true, but that does not mean it doesn't give the Game Master tons of toys to play with.

A long list of magic items, a very stripped-down, "broad brushstrokes" setting (Keranak Kingdoms, which also has a book all its own), a bestiary, a glossary, and the all-important index round this work out. It's amazing just how much is in this book. I've read 200-page RPGs that offer less and are more impenetrable in doing so. If you want to talk about top page count value, this one just might be it.

If I've heard one complaint, it's that the monster section is too short--there are about 45 creatures presented--but that is mitigated somewhat by a template system to make your own baddies. It's quick, it's smart, and it works. Really, a lot of the game supports tinkering, whether you like running games right out of the box, or tweaking them until they're juuuuust right, BBF has you covered.

Presentation of the product is logical, orderly, with clear writing and a well-considered layout. If you were going to give a clinic on how to present an RPG, you could do far worse than to start here. I have no doubt other RPGs offer much of what BareBones does, but BBF just makes it all so concise and straightforward. Mr. Moore and company should be congratulated for what is an all-too-rare feat in gaming on that account.

BareBones Fantasy is available in both pdf and softcover from RPGNow, and I would recommend gamers looking for a smart, rules-light fantasy RPG that manages to be different, clever, and surprisingly thorough start here. I've seen it mentioned in the same breath as neoclassical and Old School Renaissance rulesets, and I suppose there's something to it, given this game's lineage. Yet I think pigeonholing it as such would be a disservice to the game, as it occupies its own ground somewhere in the middle. I've used it with Keep On The Borderlands, but I daresay a group raised on Pathfinder looking for something lighter would find just as much utility here, as well.

This game should appeal to groups without the time to chew through 400-page rulebooks, those who want something light yet robust, fans of good percentile-based systems, and even novice gamers just jumping into a system. I plan on running my 8 year-old daughter through a game of BBF quite soon, and I doubt she'll have any issues with it. For parents, I'd recommend checking into this one, too.

I'm not one to always trust reviews from any site trying to sell me stuff, but BareBones has over 20+ reviews on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG, and they're almost all wildly positive. In this instance, they're right on the money. So is BareBones Fantasy when it comes to delivering a lot of smart fantasy gaming at a good price. Consider this an enthusiastic endorsement of the product, start to finish.



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Tunnels & Trolls Free Rulebook
Editorial: Flying Buffalo
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 02/04/13 20:28:44

Some folks will probably discount this game entirely due to the formatting and layout, but what's hidden in here is a classic game that's very easy to pick up. T&T definitely has a sillier, more tongue-in-cheek feel than Dungeons & Dragons, but a loyal following online will tell you there's still plenty here to like.

There are two adventures included. The rules aren't what you'd get with Tunnels & Trolls 7th edition, but they'll work for solitaire products or just trying it out for beer n' pretzels gaming.

This is a good, quick intro of a product many gamers have likely heard of, but have never played.



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Castlemourn Campaign Setting
Editorial: Margaret Weis Productions
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 02/04/13 20:24:24

I respect a lot of what Ed Greenwood has done, but unfortunately I couldn't get into this product. A good campaign setting has to really grab you, and despite a few unique ideas around this relatively small land that's recovering from a magical apocalypse, the whole business never really feels authentic or put-together the way early Forgotten Realms did.

Of course, not being the Realms is no crime in campaign setting, but this product simply fails to grab the imagination or excite. Despite the different premise, it all feels terribly average. In a RPG market flooded with potential settings, this one just doesn't quite meet the standards to be memorable.



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Decahedron Magazine #1
Editorial: DwD Studios
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 02/04/13 20:12:47

For 16 pages, there sure is a lot of packed in here! I really enjoyed the two-weapon fighting article, in particular, which illustrates just how nicely tweakable BareBones Fantasy is. I also loved Matt Jackson's map and short adventure, both of which are top notch.

The "Creature Corner" is interesting, offering a new monster for your game, and the random tables are right up my alley--the authors are right--they are lots of fun!

Best of all, this product got me even more excited about making my own creations for BareBones Fantasy. This is a small gaming magazine, but the quality is absolutely top-notch.



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Blackmarsh
Editorial: Bat in the Attic Games
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 02/04/13 20:03:44

Rob Conley shows his sandbox mastery here with a tremendous product that's great for novice and veteran DM alike. Conley gives just enough detail to make the DM's job easier, while allowing enough latitude to make this work as a drop-in product.

Mechanically light enough to be used for any classic D&D clone or cousin, Blackmarsh is well worth not only downloading, but ordering a nice print copy to boot.



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Rolemaster Rome
Editorial: Arion Games
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 02/04/13 19:48:24

The Roman Republic, and later Empire, remains a source of interest and inspiration today. From countless novels set in those times to the popularity of movies such as Ben-Hur to Gladiator and TV shows such as Rome, that ancient civilization still seems to fascinate us. It's easy to see why--Rome stood for power in its time, and adventure in remote, wild places. Add this to the intrigues of power, a whole host of insane wars and battles, and images of gladiators and martyrs alike facing bloody doom in the Coliseum, and you have a time and place that's fertile for stories and adventure.

Enter Graham Bottley's Rolemaster Rome, a product by Arion Games that seeks to provide all that's dynamic and involving about Classical Rome for Rolemaster Classic. For those of you out there that are Rolemaster SS or FRP fans, worry not--a conversion document has been released as part of the pdf download. Ringing in at 200 pages, this was the first Rolemaster-dedicated product from Arion, whose previously best known product was perhaps the re-issue of the classic RPG Maelstrom. No matter, because there's a lot to like in Rolemaster Rome, though also a couple of places for improvement.

Rolemaster Rome begins with racial selections (Roman, Gaul, and Greek), and briefly mentions traning packages suitable for a Roman Campaign. The table of special abilities seems to fit quite well into a Roman-themed campaign, with entries like "Rome-Born", "Man of the People", and "Natural Roman" conveying some of the edges in Roman public life amongst the privileged.

There are some minor rule adjustments included to tweak Rolemaster Classic for a Roman campaign--mostly telling you which options from Character Law to "turn on". Of particular interest here is the addition of Dignitas, an attribute reflecting social standing, public achievement, and honor. This is largely a social attribute, to be rolled in sort of a "don't you know who I am?" situation. I found one of the best tweaks Rolemaster Rome presented.

Curiously enough, Rolemaster Rome glosses through some of the geographical descriptions of the Roman Empire itself. Chapter 3, which is supposed to address this, covers under 10 pages. I thought this was a strange design decision. A short Chapter 4 on Magic follows this, which discusses the minor modifications and restrictions of spells for the setting.

If Chapter 3 was a disappointment as far as presenting Roman geography, Chapter 5, which deals with Roman Life, is not. 30 pages here cover every facet of life in Rome, from the role of family to the life of slaves to wages, travel, sexuality, and so much more. This is where Bottley's writing really seems to come to life, and is a highlight of the work.

Chapter 6 is a brief overview of Rome. This session again suffers from the same brevity of Chapter 3, but will provide a basic overview of the historic capital of the Roman Empire.

Chapters 7 & 8 cover weapons/armor and price lists, respectively. The weapons and armor chapter is a fun one, with plenty of illustrations, and it's clear a lot of consideration went into its crafting.

Chapter 9 covers the Roman Legions, and does a good job of providing guidance on some of the different organizational methods that were used. Chapters 10 & 11 cover deities and mythology, and likewise do a nice job of subject presentation.

Chapter 12 discusses customizing your Roman Rolemaster campaign to various eras and playstyles, and that ends the Chapters portions of the book. But what would a Rolemaster product be without plenty of appendices? Guess what follows Chapter 12?

The appendices cover everything from races, professions, training packages (expanded here from earlier in the book), treasure tables, encounter tables, standards stats, and a bibliography. Add in a few sheets for Roman settlements and characters, plus a pretty nice index, and you have Rolemaster Rome. In their own way, the appendices tie this product together and make it so much more useful. If this information were spread across the book, it would be maddening. Nice work on organization by Mr. Bottley on that account.

This is not a product that shows complete 100% veracity on historical material, but neither is it too burdened with errors or anachronisms. At it's best, Rolemaster Rome evokes favorable comparisons to products such as the old ICE Campaign Classics line.

I would have liked to have seen a few more illustrations, but the art is relevant and generally informative and well-placed. The layout is a bit Spartan in places, but aside from a few curiously short chapters, is clean and well-considered.

For overall value, Rolemaster Rome definitely packs a lot in 200 pages, though perhaps a bit unevenly on various topics. However, at $10 for the pdf, some gamers might find that slightly high. It all depends on how you value pdfs--and that's an entirely different discussion right there. Either way, it's great to have a quality Rolemaster supplement out there. Rolemaster Rome is going to scratch an itch for Rolemaster fans looking for new source material.



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B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
Editorial: Wizards of the Coast
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 02/03/13 21:39:36

This is a pretty good scan of this product. A lesser cousin to B2: Keep on the Borderlands, B1 is still pretty enjoyable in its own right, with some decent beginner DM advice included. As an introductory product to Basic D&D, this product does the trick. There's a not much wasted room here, and there's plenty of room for customization as a DM learns their craft. If you're looking at a neoclassical gaming experience, this should run nicely with either the D&D Basic Set, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, or even Basic Fantasy RPG.

If you're just getting into this style and era of gaming, again I'd recommend picking B2 and B4: The Lost City up first, but don't overlook this product, either.



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Legendary I: Legendary Blades [PFRPG]
Editorial: Purple Duck Games
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 01/18/13 19:34:29

This is a small, but truly enjoyable resource for Pathfinder. There's a lot packed into the 40-odd pages of this product, with each of the blades distinct and ready-made for a legacy weaponry role. Players should actually love the fact these blades will develop with them. It's pretty clear Purple Duck has a very good grasp on what makes Pathfinder work, and that helps make this product an excellent addition for any campaign looking for a weaponry "boost" or suitable legendary blade for questing and the like.



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Disposable Heroes Western Statix 1
Editorial: Precis Intermedia
por Zachary H. [Comprador verificado]
Fecha en que fue añadido: 01/18/13 19:21:41

I needed a good mix of minis for an alt-history gaming taking place right after the Civil War in 19th century America. This collection from Precis Intermedia is an excellent add to any Western game or similar setting, and won't break your bank. I will happily recommend the Disposable Heroes line in general; regardless of genre, they seem to have us covered!



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