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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Horror Deck
by Anthony J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/18/2016 20:22:30

Although the horror deck feels really specialized when you first look at it., it does give results for exactly those moments you need a little randomization: when the PCs enter dark alleys or empty rooms, when they are confronting something but aren't sure what it is. When the plot stalls and they aren't sure what to do next. In those specific moments, the deck really shines. In the not-so-horror moments, the deck provides some weird results so its best not to use it. The trick I found though is that you don't really need the deck during most of those moments anyway. Keep drawing cards so the PCs don't notice any pattern to your drawing, but learn when you need to use the results and when you don't, because this deck isn't generically useful... it seems specialized to help for particular situations that are usually kind of dull without it. This deck helps you take those moments that are usually skipped and glossed over and make those moments interesting... those moments that really emphasize the horror genre. When you enter the dark room. When you are about to open the door. When you open the mysterious package. When the lightning flashes. When the players examine a room feature that isn't otherwise important.

Without the deck: Is there anything on the desk? Yeah, that's some paper and pencils, and a notebook with a lot of checkenscratch on it. It looks like some of the pages have been ripped off.

With the deck: Is there anything on the desk? There's a wet newspaper on the desk. A tipped over unmarked brown bottle has spilled liquid all over the desk. It has a sickly sweet smell to it, like fregrant candy. Is it today's newspaper? Ummm... no. This paper was dated 5 days ago. As you pit up, you have this sudden sensation that someone is watching you.

It's a good product, but I can't recommend it... mostly because of the layout and graphioc design. I printed out the whole deck to use during my sessions, and very often I can't read the card. In the heat of the moment, everything has to be quick and streamlined. That was the beauty of one deck for all this stuff in the first place. I'm running the game in a game store under florescent lighting, and I have to read text that is very tiny, written in a "horrific" font, with a partially transparent background... it doesn't work. On the PDF, things look clear because the size is so huge, but when printed out... it's a problem. A big problem. And what gets to me is all the white space on the card... it seems like some of those letters could have been bigger or used a font that made better use of the space. Even the die results are tiny, which is strange considering how much space looks available on that wheel. The problems get even worse if you sleave the cards in plastics. I don't know if the POD product has the same problem, but I don't see why it wouldn't.

The basic set, on the other hand, looks laid out well. It doesn't have a background. It's grisp, clear, neat, with specific text boxes. Even the icons look easier to read without that dark red background. I'm looking forward to getting it soon.

Get the basic deck. Judging by the content in this product, the basic deck is totally worth it. It will be easier to read and probably applicable to many more situations. I recommend this product only to people who already have the basic deck and are used to using it.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Horror Deck
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts, and for the feedback on the font--I definitely agree that it's the most problematic of all the decks, which is why the download includes a 'backup' PnP version using the Base Deck art and font! I originally used the base deck for quite a few horror games, so you can definitely go that way if you prefer, but if what you really want is the text from the Horror deck in the Base Deck art, no need to buy both! The file should be called "GMA_Horror_PnP_Classic_art_greyscale_9_23_15.pdf" (Sorry for the huge file name; I was trying to be descriptive and may have overdone it). In beta-ing the art, we found that some household printers handle the horror font better than others, but the PoD deck seems to work for most people, so I gambled on it because I love the look of the PoD. However, I do consider it good reason not to bother with more elaborate fonts at this scale in the future, so my next horror deck will either have bigger font sizes, or stick to something like Calibri, or both!
Questions Without Answers
by Patrick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2016 21:41:33

This is a surprisingly good resource for GMs who need ideas to build campaigns around.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Questions Without Answers
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Horror Deck
by sean m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2016 19:54:34

Must buy for solo games.Great purchase.Text and graphical elements are really nice. Since i purchased all 6 pdf decks and use them on my ipad it would be great if they all were illustrated with the decks vertically rather than horizontally as i use my tablet in portrait orientation (demon,scifi,base are all vertical whereas horror,sail,steampunk are horizontal). I would gladly buy different genre themed decks if they are produced.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Horror Deck
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Publisher Reply:
Heya! Thanks so much for your support of my work, and also for pointing out that flaw in the production--I've updated the last three decks to have their card pages in vertical landscape mode, so if you go into your order, you should be able to re-download them and have them properly formatted! The change happened because I switched PDF printing software after the first three decks, and I didn't consider all the possible settings to check! I hope this helps.
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Sci Fi
by Scott M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/10/2016 16:49:29

Great for writing as well as RPGs. The ability to whip up situations, people, and items at the draw of a card makes awkward game mastering situations much easier



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Sci Fi
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
by JP D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/08/2016 22:50:22

After using sites like rpgsolo and the Mythic gmemulator for GMless play with my brother I found myself stumbling onto these, with the hopes of using them on Roll20 via the deck system, thanks to Larcenous Designs Nathan Rockwood's very helpful support post-purchase, i've been able to do just that; It's worked great. The sheer amount of content each card can produce is huge, and I personally find it much easier and quicker to create an event or reaction using these than other systems. The runes are my favourite part, they really make it easy to come up with things quickly and avoid the game pace coming to a crawl (Something I found happened with gmemulator when you had an event or detail randomised and just drew a blank on how to interpret it) GMA gets around this problem with a number of additional ways of clarifying or adding detail to events. It is exceedingly easy to quickly piece together everything from a world ending threat, the motivations of a villain or even just the traits and attitude of that barrister at Starbucks!

Easily tailored to any game system or theme with massive amount of variation and detail available for anything you could possibly need for a smooth and exciting gm-less game!

(Currently using my sets for a Mutans and Mastermind's game and a Pathfinder game)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Age of Sail Deck
by Ramon G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/31/2016 09:31:07

This series of decks is great, but be aware the printed/non-PDF version of the deck does not come with the corresponding adventure guide. You'll either have to purchase that separately or be creative with how you interpret portions of the cards.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Age of Sail Deck
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review! Because the adventure guide is supposed to be included in every purchase, I\'m glad you mentioned that problem! To clarify, did you choose NOT to get the PDF for free with your purchase of the deck? Or is the Adventure Guide missing from the PDF download? Also, you mention needing to get creative with the interpretation of the cards; the adventure guide isn\'t needed for the that, but if you need the instructions, they are freely available as a PDF download. Just click the \"Publisher Preview\" link under the cover image on the sale page! I\'ve asked about this, and unfortunately this is the only way Drivethru distributes the rule books for printed cards--you have to either retrieve it yourself, or be sure to take the free PDF add-on. If you need anything and files are missing, please respond here or at larcenousdesigns@gmail.com and I\'ll fix it!
Questions Without Answers
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2016 20:00:13

This is a fascinating, if compact, rumination on the use of existential questions to add narrative depth to a game. While billed as a collection of questions, the far more valuable portion of this work is the 3 page preamble on the value of questions and their applicability to role playing. The author mentions Planescape Torment more than once, which famously asked “What can change the nature of a man?”, it’s fair to say that Torment’s driving question is what gave the game it’s depth and gravitas. Here, the author discusses several methods of weaving such a question into the fabric of a character, a campaign, or a world.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Questions Without Answers
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Steampunk Deck
by Dan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/05/2016 12:39:26

Awesome product. You can tell this is a labor of love.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Steampunk Deck
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
by Neil P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2016 21:55:43

I sriously love these cards. I love having a way to spur me into new ideas. For a revew, I have one on my blog. http://broccolifest.blogspot.com/2016/07/review-gamemasters-apprentice-base-deck.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Adventure Guide Pack
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2016 13:38:24

I liked this product a lot. I found it very useful to spark ideas about adventures or even campaigns. It's very clever and it can boost the way you design or run your adventures. I enjoyed a lot all the GM's Apprentice serie. Just a note: as clearly written in the description of the product, you don't need this product if you are going to buy all the GM's Apprentice Decks.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Adventure Guide Pack
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
by Wayne R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2016 12:51:45

A thoroughly useful and versatile tool for expanding GMs' storylines, creating characters and storylines on the fly, and serving as a surrogate GM for either solo or group sessions. System agnostic, and mostly genre agnostic. So many items on each card that one or some combination will suggest a story, event, or character appropiate to any situation. Well worth the money. Every GM, and every gamer who ever thouhht they might like to try a solo adventure, should have a deck.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Sci Fi
by Pierre S [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/04/2016 08:22:29

[Review revised now that the rules have more adventure-generation information.]

This is a packed, information-rich deck of cards to assist the running of a science fiction RPG. It offers multiple fields of information. The individual cards are each printed on both sides of 60 cards, which makes it unclear which side to pick (draw a card, and flip it like a coin, maybe?)

A small wheel of numbers lets you make dice-rolls from d4 to d100. This is VERY handy to make dice-rolls in a secret way for the GM, or by anybody for general noise-reduction. There are fields on the card to allow you to randomly pick evocative first names, sights, sounds, smells, locations, and belongings (in case an NPC living OR dead is encountered) suitable to an SF environment.

The cards are adapted from their set for fantasy, and several fields of the card have different sets of icons that are perhaps more suitable to fantasy. There is a field for the Elder Futhark runes (the runic alphabet of the Vikings) as well as an icon for the Four Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This is not much of a drawback since they offer tables of "archetypal" meanings to help you imagine outcomes in any sort of RPG. There is a random verb, subject and object on every card that can add up to over a million combinations if you draw 3 cards. Parts of the cards resemble a more gamer-focused version of Rory's Story Cubes.

What is slightly imperfect about the game is that the instructions still insert a few fantasy examples and mention goblins, bandits in a forest, castles and so forth. They could hone their instructions to be more sharply SF in orientation (although some SF games such as Shadowrun might have no trouble mentioning magic or psionics). The instructions do offer suggestions to "transpose" the meaning of a draw to something more suitable to your game.

They describe how the deck could be used to generate encounters for a solo or GM-free game. An adventure generation scheme has been added to the rules more recently.

Overall, this is a beautiful deck of cards that can be used in different modes: evocative ideas for adventure design before the game, dice-rolls and random draws for the GM to improvise a situation or NPC on the fly, and suggestions for a GM-free game or for generating SF adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Sci Fi
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
by Rob H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/17/2016 04:24:01

I have just run a GM less solo game with this set , it generated a nice story and even created some dead ends for the character to backtrack on . The game was an investigation type set in a lovecraftian setting , the cards produced a good number of clues , red herrings and surprises for me so i cannot see that this product is worth less than 5 stars

i used a piece of free mindmaping software to record the adventure everything else was done with the cards

i would like to propose that you create a more fantasy biased set

Rob



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
by Jonathan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/23/2016 18:22:41

I purchased the GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck to replace several other tools that I had been previously using to simulate a GM in both my solitaire games as well as games run with my wife. For full disclosure purposes I was primarily running games with Mythic's Game Master Emulator paired with Mythic Variations as well as leveraging Rory's Story Cubes for generating scenes and ideas, an extension from the noun/verb pair generated from Mythic. My wife and I ran a session last night with the deck and were thoroughly impressed!

Function:

We used the 'Tension' based method for generating random events, starting at '1' at the beginning of the scene and would add +1 to that number for every "Likely Odds" question that we asked the deck. To expand upon this, the deck offers three different ratings for possibilities; bad (25% chance of a 'Yes'), even (50%), and good (75%). It also features exceptional answers of 'YES!' and 'NO!' which further extend the options. I was initially concerned with the apparent step down from Mythic which has a much greater variety of odds and was concerned that it might feel lackluster operating at just 25%/50%/75% however am happy to say that it didn't feel that way during play. Back to the 'Tension' method - if the difficulty number in the top left hand corner of the card is lower or equal to your current tension number a random event is generated -- play it out and then reset your tension number. It was very easy and didn't feel like a lot of book keeping. The nice thing is, each session starts off at '1' instead of tracking a Chaos Rank (Mythic's system) that alters the odds and also impacts scene random events while in-house random events are based on rolling doubles when consulting the Fate Chart.

The other features that we used were the Norse Runes, of which there are 24, however I'll admit that the big appeal of the deck (the lack of looking up tables), really doesn't come into play when you're getting started with the Norse Runes unless you have previous knowledge of what they represent. My wife and I were not aware and so had to look up the definitions as we played, so that did tie us up with some table referencing though am sure that once we get more fluent with the deck we'll nail down the Runes.

The Elemental signs (Water, Earth, Fire, and Air) are incredibly helpful as well as the four senses (sight, sound, feeling, and taste/smell) also lends quick answers to common questions such as, "Do we see anything? Do we hear anything?" as the card itself already has a pre-loaded answer should that question turn up in the positive.

We have yet to explore the name generator, tag symbols, dice, scatter die, vice/virtue, catalyst and we only used the location once.

The True Benefit:

Immersion. The deck allows for a greater sense of immersion -- my wife and I are playing a Heroquest: Glorantha game and played in our fourth session when we first used the deck and my wife commented after, "Wow - I really had a sense of tension and was excited to continue moving on." I would have to agree with her sentiments and will explain why I think it happened. Our GMless game prior to the deck was run by Mythic and at times my wife would become confused with what die rolls really meant... were we using the our character's abilities or were we emulating the GM? All of those actions were dice... granted some were D20s vs. D100s however everything was operated with rolling dice. With the deck, all dice rolls were simply character abilities and the running the GM was left to drawing cards. It really clarified what we were doing and at what stage we were at.

It also played much faster, allowing for less downtime trying to figure out the context of the answer when consulting the deck to emulate the GM, because of a significantly decreased amount of time spent looking up tables as well as the faster mechanic of drawing cards vs. rolling multiple sets of dice. For instance, when asking a question such as, "Do we see anything happen as we crest the hill?" Here's the breakdown:

  • Agree on likely odds (no different from Mythic)
  • Draw card - immediately can see YES!/Yes/No/NO!
  • That same card that informs you can provide a Sight/Sound/Touch/Taste to jump start your idea (compared to having to roll for a noun/verb)
  • Draw for a verb
  • Draw for a noun
  • If needed, you can draw for an adjective

The entire process takes a lot less time compared to rolling on tables and the added benefit is that the cards are all lined up next to each other, allowing you to see the results that you got instead of having to remember or write them down! I didn't realize how much handier it would be until we started playing with it. With Mythic it took me several sessions to really get a feel for the system and with GameMaster's Apprentice it immediately resonated with me. Additionally, I'd say that it is easier to re-interpret the context of the answers you're provided as the cards remain in front of you -- in a very tactile sense it feels easier to re-interpret compared to re-rolling dice in Mythic, or at least that was my impression.

Continued Options/Room for Growth:

As mentioned there are features that my wife and I didn't delve into but the cards just seem to continue to offer more. My wife and I generated a random event and she asked, "So do we have to follow-up on that immediately?" Nathan Rockwood, in the instructions, suggested a method of determining how impactful random events are and so we drew another card and looked at the difficulty rating, which for us was '3', which we ruled as being less significant to the story. My wife instantly said, "Oh, ok. So we could look into it but it isn't hugely impactful to the story." We also used a similar method when we were investigating a certain item, trying to discern what it meant. We got some information and wanted to see how confident the person was of what he'd given us... again we drew a card and looked at the difficulty rating, which was a '6', and ruled that he knew 60% of what was written down, but that there was more that could be learned.

Verdict:

The deck is awesome. One of the best GM Emulator tools that I've used. It won't replace everything -- we still use Rory's Story Cubes, some directional dice (compass; e, n, w, s/true directional; up, down, left, right), UNE (for generating NPCs), though with that said we still haven't tapped into the full potential of the deck. We could easily replace the directional dice we use with the scatter die found on the cards, NPCs can be generated using the Vice/Virtue and other characteristics on the cards. For names, we could use the name generator though with online tools so handy on devices we opt for using setting specific generators though could use the deck in a pinch or on the road if no devices are around.

The benefits are; less table consulting, greater immersion due to clarified dice rolls only for system abilities (if using a stand-alone rule set -- the only way we've used the deck vs. using the deck as the system), and speed of drawing cards vs. rolling D100s. It's incredible. I highly recommend it and likely will be picking up the other genre decks.

I purchased the DTRPG printed decks and sleeved mine with FFG Standard Card sleeves. It isn't cheap, at $25 or so shipped, but highly recommended and already one of the best purchases I've made when it comes to Tabletop RPGs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck
by Daniel L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2015 21:52:13

You've probably seen randomized decks of cards for RPG seeds before. But I doubt you'll find the competition half as useful as the Gamemaster's Apprentice.

Most randomize decks have one or two things on offer in a single draw. A name? Or perhaps a picture? The GMA stores a whopping 14 (!) random elements. Drawing a few of these cards is like reading part of an awesome story all on it's own. In fact, this is how I most often use my deck; as prompts for new directions in short fiction. Plot flagging? Draw a card. Need a name? Draw a card. Did the hero make the jump? Draw a card. How credulous is that guard? Draw. A. Card

Different randomizers have different levels of usefulness, depending on your situation. The Names randomizer alone is worth the price (never run out of NPC or supporting character names again!). As other reviewers have said, I generally prefer to roll dice myself. However, it's nice to know the cards can stand in if you've left your dicebag at home. I haven't made a lot of use of the event generator, the elements, or the Norse runes (yet), but I'm very glad they're there. The Odds and Difficulty randomizers can be great for determining the outcomes of unpredictable events, I use them to throw curveballs at characters all the time.

The sense snippets and belongings sometimes take a few draws before you find the "right" one for the situation, but they're still worth their weight in gold. They can confer instant verisimilitude to a scene, or point you in a new direction to focus the attention of your players.

There's a lot of depth and care here. Too often, a randomizer deck is little more than an excel spreadsheet in card form. Each just an individual selection from a long list. These cards contain world's worth of useful data by comparison.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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