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36 Dramatic Situations
Publisher: dicegeeks.com
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/09/2018 23:21:36

This is a copy-and-paste job on the century-old English translation, except it's just the headings. The one-page introduction slapped onto this version can be summed up as "Pick one of these situations." This document adds nothing to the original.

Do a web search for Georges Polti Thirty Six Dramatic Situations and you'll find the full text. Reading a 100-year-old English translation of a 19th-century French work about classic (mostly Greek or French) literature can still present some challenges, but at least you'll have the full text if you want to read more.

Your web search should also turn up articles that will help you put the "36 Dramatic Situations" to use, although generally from a fiction writer's perspective, not from an RPG perspective.

Whichever source you use, keep in mind that these are situations, not plot outlines. Suppose you go with the sixteenth situation ("Madness"). You find that you need a Madman and a Victim. Suppose you pick variant B ("Disgrace Brought Upon Oneself Through Madness"). In this stripped-down version, that's all you get. If you use the full text, you'll get Polti's discussion of the topic, but it's still not going to help you with inciting incidents, plot points, encounters, or possible goals.

If you can run with "Madness" and "Disgrace Brought Upon Oneself Through Madness," this document may be enough for you. If you want to get more understanding of what Polti meant by those things, dig up the full text. If you want more help and inspiration to turn this seed into a fun adventure, neither this document nor the full text are enough.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
36 Dramatic Situations
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Interstellar Patrol (Fate Accelerated Edition)
Publisher: Nothing Ventured Games
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/06/2018 21:57:43

Set your expectations correctly before ordering. It's only $1 and it's only 8 pages long. It'd be even shorter without the artwork, which is thematic filler, not illustrations of game elements.

In short, I'd use it to seed a Star Trek-like one-shot adventure.

You might like this title if you're expecting:

  • Fate Accelerated. It's there in the title.
  • A somewhat Star Trek-ish setting in that characters are members of a starship crew, facing aggressors and seeking out new worlds.
  • A straightforward, non-crunchy way to handle starships.
  • A page with some general discussion on creating characters for this setting, including some sample stunts.
  • Material suitable for a one-shot: five basic world types, six typical plot seeds. These are seeds only, not fleshed-out worlds or fleshed-out adventures.

You'll be disappointed if you're expecting:

  • Fate Core. There are no skill lists.
  • Star Trek canon (or any other canon). That's not what this is.
  • A full campaign setting. You get a one-paragraph overview, and that's it.
  • An adventure generator or a sample adventure. These are simple seeds.
  • A world generator a la Traveller. Each world type is described in a few sentences. The descriptions are qualitative, not quantitative.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Interstellar Patrol (Fate Accelerated Edition)
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It's Not My Fault! (A Fate Accelerated Character & Situation Generator)
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/31/2018 09:45:52

As a character creation system, it's brilliant. There are 20 ways to combine 6 approaches taken 3 at a time (without repetition and order doesn't matter). That makes a convenient deck size. The system ensures that all approaches are in the 0-3 range, that there'll be variety in the approaches, and that each character has 3 aspects and 3 stunts. Doling out cards ensures that we'll have a mix of character types.

The character system also strikes a good middle ground between other potential methods for creating one-shot characters. It's less time-consuming and less daunting than having players make up characters from scratch. It gives players some say in their characters instead of handing them pre-made characters.

I've started making custom character decks for various settings. I can fit the necessary information into a business card size. I can make a custom deck with two sheets of business card printer stock.

The situation generator has some decent variety, but not all cards are suitable for all audiences. I take some cards out ahead of time, depending on who'll be playing. For example, I knew that a certain father/daughter pair of players wouldn't want to see the "Currently naked" card come up.

I added some goal cards. Some players said they were at a loss about what to do or they had trouble recognizing when the game was over. A goal card gave them something they could focus on and run with, without feeling railroaded. It helped keep the action crisp and created a recognizable ending.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
It's Not My Fault! (A Fate Accelerated Character & Situation Generator)
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Plotlibs - Classical Fantasy Edition
Publisher: Morningstar Productions
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/30/2018 16:08:31

All in all, the product offers a good mix of elements that have the right feel for Greek and Roman mythology.

Things you might like:

  • The "plotlibs" template sentence lays out a decent situation.
  • The tables have generally good content for the topics they cover. They capture the spirit of a lot of stories from Greek and Roman mythology (although see below for some omissions).
  • Hallelujah, the author (or his editor) can spell and punctuate and put apostrophes where they belong. A quick skim just now finds only one editing mistake, and it's a minor one ("an disbelieved oracle"). (Okay, maybe that's "Things I might like" more than "Things you might like," but I'm saying it anyway!)

Things you might not like:

  • If you need help turning random elements into a coherent whole, this doesn't provide it. It's on you to find a way to tie the random pieces together and flesh them out.
  • A strange omission from the tables are the Greek and Roman gods themselves. Some of the lesser ones appear by name (Hecate, Pan) and a few others appear by indirect reference (god of the sea, hunting god/dess), but most of the Olympians are nowhere to be found in tables that are supposed to have "a very Greco-Roman flavor."
  • The tables don't give you any help for rolling up locations found in Greek or Roman mythology. It would have been helpful to include the rich variety of locations found in the myths, by generic type (temples, typical city-state features, magical springs, sacred mountains, mysterious islands, oracular shrines, etc.) or by specific name (specific city-states, islands, foreign lands, etc.).
  • The table entries offer no explanations. Some entries are obvious. For many items, such as the Sibylline Books, Cercopes, the Titanomachy, and Stymphalian birds, you may need to spend some quality time with web searches to figure out what they are, where they occur, and what you might do with them.
  • There are some anachronisms, such as "Gypsies," Mithraism, and the Dancing Plague, that didn't appear in the Greek or Roman myths.

None of those are negative enough to make me regret the $3.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Plotlibs - Classical Fantasy Edition
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One Shot Core Rules
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2018 02:09:30

It wasn't what I was hoping for, but hey, it was free.

The description calls One Shot "a role-playing system designed for single session gaming." I didn't need to see yet another rules-light RPG system. I was more interested in its focus on single-session gaming. I was hoping to get some great insights and cool ideas on one-shots.

The 15-page document consists of 1 cover page, 5 pages on the game system, and 9 pages on a sample adventure.

The game system is yet another rules-light generic RPG system. There's nothing new there.

The 9-page sample adventure seems like way too much material for a single-session game, especially since it's "presented for only a single character." It's loaded to the gills with background material on the people, places, and history - way overkill. My eyes kept glazing over as I tried to read the walls of text. That wouldn't do in a single-session game.

What about the main thing I was after - tips on single-session gaming? Hardly anything.

If you skim the headings in the rules, not a single one of them makes any explicit reference to single-session gaming. You have to wade through the game system text to hunt for it.

The single-session advice comes down to not taking the long view. Yup, that much is obvious - no need to worry about session #2 if there won't be one.

But there's more to single-session gaming than not worrying about session #2. What about tips for engaging the characters from the start when, by definition, they have no history with their own characters, the NPCs, or the game world? (Reading pages of background isn't engaging.) What about guidelines on making the material modular so you can expand or compress depending on what the players do? How about some guidance on how to teach the players the rules quickly? What about techniques to keep the pacing crisp instead of (for example) letting one non-climactic battle chew up half of the available time? What about techniques to make sure you've got a rollicking good ending that's neither too early nor too late, that flows well with whatever choices the players have made, and that gives them a satisfactory resolution to the adventure? Are there any tips for finding a nice single-session balance that avoids excessive railroading (no decisions for the players) and excessive sandboxing (nothing in particular to do)?

None of that is present, but that's what I was hoping to see in a system designed for single-session gaming.

In short, I was disappointed. The rules system is light, but otherwise it does very little to aid single-session gaming.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
One Shot Core Rules
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