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Spectaculars Core Game
Publisher: Scratchpad Publishing
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/22/2019 18:40:19

I've backed this on KS, but haven't had the chance to play it yet. What sold me was the ease of creating a character (choose an archetype and a job/identity based on your chosen setting - street, supernatural, futurist or cosmic - a role in your team - they too come as setting archetypes - and 1-3 powers, personalize your choices a la Apocalypse playbooks, and voila!) as well as the numerous world-building tools you get to fill-out with your players, either beforehand or through discovery by going through the adventures provided for all settings, all of which will remind you of classic superheroes tropes. Since much is customizable, including the villains, there's a lot of replay value here. I use that term on purpose, because with all the cards used to play, as well as the set advancement limit (after a number of games your character will retire, although it might not mean he won't come back in another form), Spectaculars has a strong boardgamish feel to it. As for mechanics, its also quite easy. Roll percentile dice equal or below a set number (from 90 to 50%) provided by your ID or your Powers, add Advantage and/or Challenge dice to see if you get a Boon or a Drawback as well and that's it. Combat uses Initiative cards shuffled each round and damage is your dice roll substracted from your Resistance (this is the only thing i'm a bit worried about since you only have 100 of those, so a couple of hits will knock you out, although it resets each new scene.) You will also have to thwart Villain's objectives and stop Complications from progressing during each scenario, gaining hero points to help you along. Outside of combat, you have Interludes to deal with personal stuff - each character has Aspirations and Turmoils just for that. Success in the adventure means personal and team progress and eventually story rewards, which range from extra hero/resistance points to new powers/costume/HQ/Fame or, after a while, retirement (in a number of delightful ways) and possibly a new Origin (you are encouraged to experience every setting with a new character, even every adventure if you want to, especially if you use the suggested random ID/powers choice. In fact, they recommend not to have two PCs with the same ID/Powers or Role during a single session, so as to not steal each other's thunder.
To go with all of that, there's a good section about GMing the game and building your setting. Our group has converted our Smallville PCs, which I felt where the best candidates to do that with, seeing how both games are very cinematic, to Spectaculars and I'm looking forward to giving it a spin next week. The only other negative point at this time, with only the PDF available, is that you might need to print a lot of things in order to play, which might put off some people.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spectaculars Core Game
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Metagene Super Hero Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Imperfekt Gammes
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/18/2019 19:59:34

Although I haven't playtested it yet, after a first read-thru, this is a really nice rules-lite (2d12 + stat + (Knowledge) vs difficulty - default 13) supers game that has a lot going for it. Easy character creation (roll, buy or choose) including Type (from Athletic to Witty Hero, which gives stats bonus - Aura, Body, Brains, Moves - and a special ability), Origin (from Battle-Suited to Normal, which gives free powers and/or points to spend on suggested powers - from Absorption to Wild Card, ranked Amateur to Cosmic, each allowing you to do more things with it - and weakness (from Achilles Heel to Weird-looking, which gives more points to spend)) and Knowledges (from Detective to Speech-Making, broad or specific skills that can be used for bonus to related actions in and out of combat.) Adventures (play sessions) are divided in phases, starting with Downtime (patrol, normal life), Discovery (a crime or disaster awaits a hero), Investigation (finding clues about the villain), Combat (taking Minor or major actions from Activating powers to Tactics, with secondary stats - Dodge, Vigor, Protection, Sequence - coming into play) and Resolution (Xp and advancement). A nice touch. This is listed as version 0.4L, so I'm guessing more stuff will come to add to the game, but it's already pretty complete (Gears, GM advice, basic Earth-Omega setting, sample NPCs and optional rules are also there), there's just an image missing on p136. So, if you're looking for a less crunchy supers game, this one might just be the droid you're looking for ;)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Metagene Super Hero Roleplaying Game
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Monkey The Roleplaying Game
Publisher: D101 Games
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/17/2018 12:30:50

I became aware of this product through the quickstart rules, although I have since learned there was a KS in 2017, and was awaiting the full rulebook being a fan of wuxia and finding the premise of playing an immortal companion to a questing monk interesting. The card draw system is simple to learn and adapted to the highly narrative concept of the game, but luck plays a great part in the outcome of any action, so using save cards and/or assist from your companions is required if you don't want to fail at something important. The character creation process with its story-like development and challenges is a fun way to set the stage for the campaign, but immediately underline the weakness of the product as is: the lack of sufficient examples and background information. Your immortal is supposed to choose a Yin and a Yang Attitude, which is central to the game mechanic, and have some magical powers and items to help in his adventures. Yet, aside from 13 pairs of basic Attitudes, 14 Weaknesses, the 8 pregens and limited random choices (one per card suit and joker per origin for skills, story challenges and magic items (which may very well mean that a randomly-based party of four might end up with a few identical traits/background), you are left on your own to decide what they are. Same thing with only 5 broad realms basically described (Western & Eastern Heavens, Four Oceans, Earth and the Ten Courts of Hell) with 3 or 4 possible NPCs each. No map of the Tang China setting either. Maybe worst, aside from the 2 complete adventures provided, only 8 adventures seeds are given to provide some ideas of what this Journey to the West campaign could actually be like. You do get rules to play mortal martial artists instead of immortals though, but I feel that the option somehow changes the "celestial" scope of the game. I get that some of the interesting sounding material in the KS, like the Ministry of Thunder adventures and the Golden Register of 101 Immortals and Demons aren't out yet (and may take a while to be), but the aforementioned are essential elements IMHO to run a Monkey campaign, and their unfortunate absence will require more work on the part of the prospective GM to get their Journey on the road. I would suggest to those that want to give it a go nonetheless, to look up Yaos in the Qin rpg Bestiary for Animal Spirit examples as well as Demons and other celestial creatures, and for the Warring States period map and info in the Qin rulebook (which also has usable examples of Weaknesses and Magic Powers), or the very nice setting map and info (as well as random encounter tables) of the Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate rpg, while waiting for hopefully new material for the game. You may also look up the "List of Journey to the west characters" on wikipedia for more adventure seeds and background info. Personally, I'll be using the Hoshin Engi anime/manga slightly different premise of a band of immortals joining an heavenly apprentice "monk" on a quest to capture 365 demons in order to free the emperor from the evil influence of a Fox Spirit as my campaign basis.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monkey The Roleplaying Game
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Top Secret / New World Order
Publisher: TSR, Inc.
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/30/2018 13:02:00

This is a first read review only, without any playtest. Off the bat, the inside b&w look is very minimalist and not too appealing (layout, font and art), with some larger margins every even page (presumably to accomodate the hardcover binding) and large rule summary boxes that fill space which could have been better used for something else. Compared to Cold Shadows, another espionage kickstarter that raised three times less money and had a hardcover included in a 65$ pledge (vs 100$ pledge or 50$ add-on for Top Secret NWO), you feel kind of cheated. The "flow" of the rules is also oddly set, sometimes "interrupted" by an example or a large table on mutiple pages (there are a lot of tables in that book, big and small, 42 of them actually.) As for content, you get rules but nothing much in the way of GM advice and no setting either, not even for ICON, the agency the players are supposed to be working for. Again, for the same amount of pages, other games, like Classified and Cold Shadows, have managed to include those. The rules do however cover a lot of grounds, from combat to car chases to interrogation, hacking and surveillance, but you get the feeling that not all of it is "meshing" together smoothly. While the character sheet does give a Cortex or Savage World vibe to the game, with assigned dice from d4 to d12, the underlying rules are surprisingly more (and unnecessarily so IMHO) crunchy, with action points based turns, sub-specialities in skills (called proficiencies), acceleration & breaking rates, handling class and maneuver range for vehicles, lots of tables for modifiers, and not to mention quite deadly (a single 9mm shot does 2d8 dmg at medium range +any amount you beat the defender's roll by, for an average dmg of maybe 10, while an average d8 pulse PC has 18 hit points.) Aside from a few poorly explained but important rules (Decision dice, Difficulty and Asset value setting), some choices also seem unlikely, like a long list of physical/mental Impairments that would "cripple" a PC (narcolepsy anyone!?) they can take in "exchange" for an extra specialized skill, something they can get after a few missions under their belt, or downright silly (malodor, sticky and slippery "weapons" as well as 3 000$ starting money/d4 equipment limit when even an economy car costs 15K and is d6 level, which you will not be able to receive freely before 15 missions, not to mention that no guns (of the only 15 listed) has any price nor equipment any clearance value listed.) As a KS backer, I feel we didn't get the game we were shown, or worse, only shown the best part (the character sheet). I just hope it wasn't done on purpose, to hide either those unpolished or unfinished rules. Fortunately, the PDF was only 10$, so that's "acceptable" (the box set cost me quite more, especially with the added costs of shipping and exchange rate), but I wouldn't pay the 20$ they are asking for it now, not when you can get a better game for less.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Top Secret / New World Order
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Tianxia: Spirits, Beasts & Spells
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/29/2016 11:51:01

Excellent addition to the Tianxia line, introducing Chinese gods and monsters as well as sorcerers, exorcists, geomancer, diviner and alchemist into the world. The layout and the art (of Mrs Jones ;) is again top notch, so if you want to add that magical touch to your wuxia game, for a more Journey to the West, Chinese Ghost Story, or even Legend of Korra (translated here as a 4-element master sorceress), it's a no-brainer, get it ;)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tianxia: Spirits, Beasts & Spells
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Daring Comics Spotlight #2: Powers Unleashed
Publisher: Daring Entertainment
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2016 18:48:29

Nice comprehensive "toolkit-like" explanations about the mechanics of powers in the game and the way to create and/or tweak them. The new Alter Ego and Universal/Omni Powers are nice addition too. Overall pretty useful ;)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Daring Comics Spotlight #2: Powers Unleashed
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Daring Comics Spotlight #1: Teleportation
Publisher: Daring Entertainment
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2016 13:16:48

Interesting options to consider for a teleporter, especially the second, reskinning section. Felt like the first, attack sfx section, was a bit repetitive and didn't really like the idea that your target gets back "magically" after a number of rounds from being teleported away, however far, even if i understand the game balance reasoning behind it. Also, with only 7 pages of new rules, the price should have been lower, considering that getting all 6 planned Spotlights, assuming the same page count, would cost around 10$ for 35 pages, where Tin God is 13$ and the rulebook 20$ for 250 pages.

Nevertheless, i'm looking forward for the rest of the series.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Daring Comics Spotlight #1: Teleportation
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Gilles B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/16/2012 13:49:16

I got the pdf of this game while waiting for the paperback because i was curious what kind of mechanics they would use after playing Smallville, which was an interesting take on the genre.

I'm not going to repeat what others have already said about the basics of this game, read the reviews and you will get the info you need.

I gave it an average score basically because i feel the die pool mechanic central to the game can be too easily abused : create a character with initial die codes for stats, powers and specialties into the d10s, get 2 power sets (1 more die to roll each time), systematically use distinctions to get PPs early, use those PPs to keep extra die for your result, trying to get a +5 or +10 extraordinary success that will step up your effect die (which will more than probably be a d10 since its all you're rolling) or use another PP to activate an SFX that does just that, hopefully going over the d12 range, netting you an instant win over any opposition!! (and i'm not even talking about using your own stress die in your pool). Someone else commented that this game is far too in favour of the PCs, and i fear they might be quite right.

This game demands mature gamers who will be more interested in the storyline being comicbook-like than winning or being the biggest badass around.

My other letdown was the character creation. I don't mind so much having to piecemeal or reverse engineer powers, sfx and milestones (although no game should basically left you on your own in such a critical area), but i need to have more examples to work with if you're not going to give me exact rules on how to do it. Marvel Heroic Roleplaying has only around 65 characters to look up, many with the same SFX, and only 45 powers, including 25 SFX. By comparison, the old Basic Marvel Super Heroes had around 85 characters and 90 powers, while the Advanced MSH had about the same amount of characters (going up to 135 if you count the basic animals, aliens and ordinary foes also included - something also left out in MHR) and 120 powers.

I understand that lots more are coming in the Events books scheduled for later, but i'm not too keen in the meantime on having to either copy/paste parts of other heroes or villains to come up with something that just resemble the hero/villain i have in mind, or spend over an hour trying to convert someone from another system without much guidelines in using SFX or creating Milestones (which are the two most difficult parts to get right IMHO, although in fairness i must say that, strangely, creating a hero or villain out of nowhere would probably be easier than an established one - for example, while making a hero who can become a shadow i had to "simulate" that power with Invisibility, Intangibility and Stretching - not exactly intuitive. There was also a question about the necessity of Flight for a hero with Gravity Control and Teleportation).

I also feel that the 13 specialities in the book (vs 20 in the Basic MSH and 40 in the Advanced MSH) do not cover everything, or, like a lot of things in this game, must be either taken for granted/included in something else or plainly not important enough to note, which in turn leads to a feeling of "sameness" from lack of sufficiently distinctive details (and i'm not advocating using MnM or Champion here either).

Nevertheless i'm hoping the gaming itself will prove fun after all, and we can finally reset our old Marvel/VnV campaign into high gear ;)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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Ordo Draconis 2
Publisher: Ordo Draconis
by Ge B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2010 22:13:10

This is the seocnd issue of Ordo Draconis, a fan-made ezine (fanzine) for the recently re-released Dragon Warriors RPG. Spanning over twice the pagecount of Issue 1 (released in September 2009), it delivers a mix of content, from adventures and new classes/creatures, to background on the world of Legend.

Production values are high (especially the covers of both issues), but even if the ratio of art to text has improved from Issue 1, i find the computer-colored/textured locations maps to be strangely distracting from the overall B&W scheme of the usual DW products (although i do love Kristian Richards' ones )

Contentwise, there are a lot of things to please everyone :

  • a new profession, the Thane, a celtic-inspired warrior (Issue 1 had the Friar, a wandering cleric of sorts);
  • a description of a small area of Cornumbria, the Darbon Barony, with its points of interests (here i would have liked to have stats for the NPCs mentioned in the text, instead of just the new critters ) (Issue 1 described a bit of Ellesland, the County of Anglicia, along with a number of encounters taking places in Darbon actually);
  • a short story (although good, the 5 pages might have benefited from NPCs' stats, seeing the ezine isn't free anymore - more on that later);
  • another area description, this time the Fief of Eastmarch, a hotbed of action, in the Coronach Marshes;
  • a new beast, the Buggane;
  • some adventure seeds/«random» encounters based on Cornumbrian «legends»;
  • a continued (from Issue 1) retelling of a PBM campaign, Thuland (again, even if interesting, the stats of the PCs and NPCs involved would have added value to the story told);
  • a review of the DW supplement «Friends or Foes» (personally, seeing that reviews nowadays are easily found on the net, i don't think it has its place in a paying fanzine. An interview with the author/artist (like the 20 questions with Dave Morris and James Wallis in issue 1) or additional content related to the supplement would have been preferable;
  • an adventure for beginning characters, For Whom the Bells Tolls, pitting the PCs against assassins in a remote monastery (Issue 1 had The Ruins of Castle Cerreg, a classic discovery romp); and a revised (from Issue 1) alternate character sheet for DW.

(As a side note, in a marketing gamble to attract new potential players, this Issue is also sporting stats for the Pathfinder RPG...)

While Issue 1 was free, Issue 2 is now $3.50US, which is not that much for 97 pages, especially considering the value of the rather lenghty adventure, a new class and the two good area descriptions. Besides, a lot of things on sale on RPGNow aren't that polished nor interesting/useful and sells for that or even more, so why not do it.

Of course, they will now have to deliver at least that standard every issue to keep players paying for it, which might be a challenge considering how fickle customers can sometimes be .

For further information about the Lands of Legend see Magnum Opus Press page or the DW Wiki on the web.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ordo Draconis 2
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Dragon Warriors: The Elven Crystals
Publisher: Magnum Opus Press
by Ge B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/12/2009 20:25:28

This is a four-parts (actually 3, since the last chapter is merely a showdown against a big bad) mini-campaign aimed at beginner characters in DW, having them retrieve lost pieces of a crystal that can lift the curse put on a region by the main bad guy.

As usual, the production values are high, with a nice cover of a party of adventurers battling an undead creature, and this time, the pictures to text ratio is more to my liking ;), even though the choice of B&W illos for Chapter 4 detracts from the greyscale ones used elsewhere in the book;

Contentwise, the mini-campaign can be played as linked adventures, with or without breaks in-between, and will find players exploring a dark forest, an ominous castle and a barren island. The first two areas are especially appealing to devious GMs (DW uses a staple of retro-gaming : traps 8). As previously noted for the Sleeping Gods campaign, this is a dangerous quest to undertake and may quickly spell the doom of your party if they are charging ahead without thinking first, or if the GM throws them more than they can chew;

At this point one must come to realize that the world of DW is indeed a more perilous place than your average fantasy RPG. However, instead of being merely too tough, and therefore frustrating for players and GMs, i find that it's actually part of it's more "realistic" take on fantasy. Not that magic and bigger than life heroes aren't a part of its world, but rather that in the lands of Legend, dangers are more "real", usually fatal for non-heroes, and requiring thought instead of just relying on plenty of hit pts and healing potions to overcome them (which is not a bad thing really, when many games out there have much in common with videogames).

At the same time, opponents are not artificially downgraded because the adventure is low-level (in the forest, the party can stumble upon 2 dark riders and their hellhounds and a gargoyle, rank 3 and 5 creatures whereas PCs are rank 1 or 2), or boosted for the opposite reason, which goes to show that the world is indeed turning without the PCs being at the center, which is also a good thing IMHO. Of course, this also means that the GM must always be prepared to block or deviate the players' path from an ill advised or bad choice that would lead, quite litterally to a dead end 8(

Finally, considering that the last two parts of the campaign do not have the same scope as the first two (even if correct they are not as "interesting", the value for the money takes a bit of a hit but remains high nonetheless.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Warriors: The Elven Crystals
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Dragon Warriors: Sleeping Gods
Publisher: Magnum Opus Press
by Ge B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/05/2009 20:34:43

This is a campaign in seven adventures for the new Dragon Warriors rpg, intended to bring new players to characters of stature in the game world (around rank 8, or famous in their kingdom, which is a bit too fast for me as a GM).

Like the DW's Bestiary, production value is still good, the cover (a ghost striking a tomb looter from behind) being evocative, and somewhat prophetic ;), but again the art is a bit too sparse for my taste and a little less good in places.

For content you get seven complete and different adventures that can be used in a number of ways by the GM, from the classic dungeon crawl to the sea expedition. However, since DW is a more dangerous place than your average fantasy rpg world, all of them must be carefully treaded by both players and GMs alike. Hack & Slash afficiendos will certainly be killed quite quickly (in the 1st adventure you encounter many creatures of higher ranks than the PCs, who are supposed to be beginners, even a ... Dragon, i kid you not 8p, but there is a lot of nice stuff, some needed to get through the adventures, like in some videogames rpg, for those able to withstand its rigour.

Although the almost cinematic style of the adventures, which includes shocking developments :), is a welcome change of pace from the more mundane scenarios out there, it may not be to everyone taste, even if the open nature of the whole thing mean that in most cases the GM can tailor its use to his/her campaign.

Value for money as an immediately usable campaign is of course lessened by this, but is certainly something to get your characters through, perhaps at their own (and your GM's) pace, instead of all at once. Moderation and all that ;)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Warriors: Sleeping Gods
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