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Curse of Castle Ravenstein
Publisher: Alexey Aparin
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/26/2021 17:59:44

Being a fan of both Ravenloft and Castlevania, I have a soft spot for any rpg materials that delve into the undead corners of fantasy. I loved Castle Ravenloft. I really like Four Against Darkness. I have been looking for ways to combine these two myself with varying levels of success. Unfortunately, it's hard to collect stats for the monsters unless you buy every book and thumb through them, and currently there are no rules for monster creation or scaling. Thankfully, this adventure has a good chunk of the types of monsters I'd find useful.

Basically, it's seven different d12 charts spread out over twelve cards, and then two boss cards and two magic treasure cards. I actually like the art on the boss and treasure cards. I also picked up the Animated Armor card to add to my collection.

I do hope to see more of these Dungeon Decks. The format is perfect for 4AD.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Curse of Castle Ravenstein
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Eorathril
Publisher: Gallant Knight Games
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/05/2021 16:44:12

A great low-fantasy rpg system based on Swords & Wizardry White Box. There are no elves, dwarves or halflings as PCs in this. They're briefly mentioned as being part of the writer's personal campaign world, but only as NPCs.

Instead, there are multiple types of fighting-based classes, and one magic-user.

The one magic user is the Sage, which cannot use any spells until at least level 4. The writer mentions that if you want to bring in the Mage and/or the Cleric from the White Box, you are free to. I, personally, will be keeping the Mage, but as a rarity, while Clerics and Paladins will be restricted to NPCs.

I will say that I do like magic in rpgs, but not as pew pew as it has become. Magic in my perfect rpg would probably bore most players with its less showy effects and having to wait 1d20 days to see if it was a success or not.

My personal setting will be using Earothril as a base, with White Box Gothic overlayed, with the addition of the Witch class (from The Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box). This will give me a nice Castlevania/Ravenloft setting where the PCs are a bit more vulnerable (and human) and have to rely more on outside sources for healing.

Back to the actual product, Eorathril is a great foundation if you're wanting an OSR game reminiscent of Dark Age of Camelot, Conan or even Ray Harryhausen films (or, as in my case, Castlevania). The book is well laid out and easy to read. And the illustrations are top notch. Some of the best art I've seen in an rpg game book.

I was also thrilled to see that the print size (6x9) places it perfectly the same size as some of my books for Dragonlance: Fifth Age, a game that I thought of when I say the cover design and the interior flourishes. I think when my physical copy gets here, I'll look through my Fifth Age material to see if there's anything in there worth mining for it.

Thank you again for releasing your personal setting book to the public through Eorathril. Others do share similar tastes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eorathril
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Night City Map (Circa 2020)
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/08/2020 16:44:42

Great map. Wonderful quality. Can be used with any cyberpunk/near-future/sci-fi setting or system.

I also recommend the Night City Sourcebook, Sprawl Sites (from Shadowrun) and Augmented Reality for a good collection of cyberpunk essentials.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Night City Map (Circa 2020)
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Skeleton Cavern: A Micro Chapbook RPG
Publisher: Micro RPG
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/30/2020 02:26:18

This first book for the MicroRPG system is really well done, especially considering that it's basically just two pages.

The game is very lightweight, which was expected as it is 'Micro'RPG.

I liked the idea of Room types, where some gave a penalty depending on what kind of room you were in. While the mapping part wasn't nearly the level of 4AD or D100D, the Room types were a nice addition.

The Doorway chart is a little better than 4AD (which has nothing more than a standard roll to see if a door is locked or not), but much more compact than D100's Door chart.

Monsters: Like 4AD, MicroRPG uses a monster chart with six slots rolled on a d6. But in MicroRPG, there's only one chart, not three. I do like the smaller monster charts that stick close to a common theme. I think using a smaller pool for each dungeon can help give each one a unique feel. Also, similar to 4AD, MicroRPG has a mechanic to regulate when the boss appears. From what I can calculate, the boss would take a bit longer to appear in MicroRPG than in 4AD. In 4AD there's the possibility that the boss could appear in the second room you step into. In MicroRPG, the boss can't appear until each of the other monsters have been spawned at least once. So you'll go through at least five rooms before there's any chance of the boss appearing.

Combat is a bit more simple than 4AD, but then they also add the mechanics for Will, which raises the complexity back up a little. Will is an interesting idea and could be added to 4AD or D100 Dungeon without much problem. You also get two attacks per round. One ranged (if you have a ranged weapon and the room is four or more squares big) and one melee. And you only take damage if you miss your melee attack.

MicroRPG also has the basic idea of an overworld town for going to to buy equipment or paying to level up. This gets expanded on in the Explorers of the Realm expansion which I have only glanced at so far.

It also appears that the adventures aren't level-locked like they are in 4AD. It's actually encouraged to keep getting better and returning to the dungeon until you beat it.

While MicroRPG has Classes, character advancement is more like D100 Dungeon. You increase a stat by one point each time you pay to level up. This means that there is a cap, as the max you can have in any stat is 5. Of course, this is assuming your character survives that long. Which is very unlikely. However, if they do survive, the maximum number of times you can level them up is 13 times. Your character starts with 7 points that get distributed among four stats. With each stat maxed out at 5, then that would be a total of 20 points used, including the initial 7.

One apparent (so far) drawback I can see in the game is that it's relatively easy to min-max. If you play a Human Fighter, you'll get Proficiency in Strength rolls and a +1 bonus to Strength rolls. Then put four points into Strength, and one into each of the others. You can take the hits to Will because all it will do is give you a +1 penalty to hit. You can also skip the ranged attacks, but if you do attack with ranged, you won't suffer an attack back like you would with melee. So it's okay to be a bad shot. And if you get lucky and hit, that's like a bonus.

So with Strength 4 (+1 with Bonus for being Human) and Proficiency (from being a Fighter)... You'd roll 2d6, picking the lowest one, with 1-5 being a hit. If your Will is 0 from failing the Bravery checks, you'd still hit on 1-4. This also means you'll be getting hit less, since if you hit the monsters they don't hit you.

And as all characters have the same soft cap level at 5 for all stats, every character that survives could potentially reach Str 5, Dex 5, Wit 5, Cha 5. So why not start as a Human Fighter to ensure a greater chance of making it through the early adventures?

Unfortunately, this min-max exploit gets the game knocked down to 4-stars. This may be fixed in the system later, but I haven't gotten that far into the books, yet. And I'm sure the introduction of spells would make playing a Wizard more enticing, which would remove the Str Proficiency dependence.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Skeleton Cavern: A Micro Chapbook RPG
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the detailed and awesome review! I appreciate the thoughts and feedback! I've gotten comments about the powerful nature of Fighters and the lack of power in wizards and bards. So, the newly updated core rulebook offers new bonuses to help balance a little. Wizards have a spell chart in the new rules they can learn from. Bards also have a spell chart, albeit smaller. However, Bards also can purchase a magical instrument which makes them proficient in a second stat. Anyway! Glad you enjoyed this earliest version of the game!
High Stakes - FREE storytelling and adventure rules
Publisher: Ganesha Games
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/09/2020 01:42:40

Interesting idea that had no support. Hackbooks mentioned to be coming out in 2017 did not appear. Probably because of 4AD's success.

I wouldn't mind seeing Andrea take this and revise it to work with 4AD as a narrative hybrid.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
High Stakes - FREE storytelling and adventure rules
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Four Against the Great Old Ones
Publisher: Ganesha Games
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/31/2020 22:04:21

I dare say, the best Cthulhu-based game since Call of Cthulhu and the Fantasy Flight line. The material is thoroughly researched and presented very well. Eight investigators to choose from, and you'll probably need all of them as the game does not hold your hand.

Repeat: There is no hand-holding in this game. You will lose, and lose terribly, until you learn how to win. It's not a theme park game designed to let you breeze through encounters to ensure you see all the beautiful things they put into it. It doesn't give you a 'been there, done that' t-shirt for showing up. It is very old school, as are all the 4AD books, in that they are meant to be challenging.

If you want a game you can play so you can say you did, roll a die. If it's a six, you won! Congratulations. Here's your shirt. If you want a game that will challenge you and keep you on your toes, 4AtGOO is one to beat.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Against the Great Old Ones
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Caves of the Kobold Slave-Masters
Publisher: Ganesha Games
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2020 13:34:54

I just finished playing all three chapters of Caves of the Kobold Slave-Masters, and here's what I thought of it...

It's actually a really good sampler of applying the 4AD rules to different play styles. The first chapter uses a pregenerated map and introduces the idea of using the random charts with already created maps. After playing Chapter One, a player should have no problem dusting off old maps and using them with 4AD. The second chapter plays just like the default style presented in the Core Book. The third chapter goes a bit abstract, with almost no map at all and larger parties of characters.

The third chapter was actually the most challenging of the three, as keeping track of the four PCs, the eight NPCs and the eighteen demons was made more complex by the demons all having a poison attack. I made a tracking sheet before tackling the third chapter that listed cleric abilities, spells, holy water, scrolls and bandages, as well as hit points. It helped immensely.

I still made a few mistakes during play, but would catch them myself when transcribing the adventure to a log.

The adventure lost one star due to poor editing and some unclear rules that required me to go online to get answers. For the price, however, it's a great deal considering how much playtime is involved.

Overall, it is a nice adventure that expands ideas about playing 4AD. And we get some new monsters.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caves of the Kobold Slave-Masters
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Consent in Gaming
Publisher: Monte Cook Games
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/04/2020 07:43:12

What's really needed is just a paragraph or two in the Gamemastering section or DM Guide about reading the players and knowing if/when to avoid things that appear to bother them. If a player is uncomfortable and the dm doesn't respect that, they should just find a different group or dm. WWGGD (What would Gary Gygax do?)



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Consent in Gaming
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Four Against Darkness
Publisher: Ganesha Games
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/31/2020 20:32:26

I was a bit hesitant because I already know how to play rpgs solo, have played a solo dungeon crawl with 2nd Edition AD&D fashioned after Diablo, and I've played Castle Ravenloft. What finally got me to buy the book was when I saw the Boardgamegeek page and saw how people were customizing the game and expanding on it. Along with all the affordable add-ons being released for it, the customization of adventure content has really grabbed my interest. That, and it's a lot less cumbersome than AD&D. Especially if you factor in four characters.

I wouldn't mind a guide on how to create custom classes, but I doubt we would see something like that until after all the official classes have been released. This is something that eventually hurt Castle Ravenloft for me. Meanwhile, I can collect all the monsters and make my own vermin, minion and boss charts to fit the theme of my games.

I also like that playing a campaign is possible, but it's left to the player to define as they see fit. This way, new players have a game to play that's focused more on the dungeon crawl experience. As they get accustomed to that, they can add a village or a regular travelling merchant to slowly introduce campaign elements at their own speed. If that's what they want.

Good job on finding a good balance between rpg and board game and solo play. And a special thank you for making something of such quality for solo players, who (contrary to popular belief) don't just play solo because they don't have a group.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Against Darkness
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Lone Star: Solo rules for Mothership RPG
Publisher: Parts Per Million
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2020 22:41:56

Nice solo companion for Mothership. I really like the adaptation of the PC emulator for giving crew an edge in the game. -Arcturus



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lone Star: Solo rules for Mothership RPG
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Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
Publisher: Tuesday Knight Games
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/08/2020 23:25:38

Really captures the feel of Alien and other sci-fi horror ideas without getting bogged down. You're up and running with just 44 pages. Also useful as a plug-in for other games that may need some help getting the right aesthetic.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mothership: Player's Survival Guide
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Blood and Vigilance: Modern Superhero d20
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2004 00:00:00

I, too, was considering getting Mutants and Masterminds. I may still, just for the gamemastering info.

But these are the rules I'll be using, since it plugs into D20 Modern. I'd much rather expand a game I already play than start a whole new one.

It's a great addition to the d20 Modern rules.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood and Vigilance: Modern Superhero d20
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Modern Player's Companion, Volume Two
Publisher: The Game Mechanics
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2003 00:00:00

Great addition to the D20 Modern game! Includes the classes that were mentioned to appear in Urban Arcana (before they were converted to fx-classes). More equipment packages, too! Can't recommend it high enough!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Player's Companion, Volume Two
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Modern Player's Companion, Volume One
Publisher: The Game Mechanics
by Lee S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/08/2003 00:00:00

I was very impressed with the Modern Player's Companion. Like mentioned in the other comments, it doesn't spend too much time on fx-based characters or scenarios, which is a plus.

The book is well laid out and easy to navigate.

I, too, think that the class combinations and equipment packages were most likely the best parts of the book. Even though I originally bought it for the advanced classes. And those are great, too. The Gentle Warrior is my fave out of the bunch.

I really appreciate how much work The Game Mechanics have put into this. And what helped me give the product five stars is the support on their website. Even when you get this, be sure to pick up the (free!) Complete Feats pdf. It's listed as the demo on RPGNow for Companion 1 and Companion 2 and is basically an updated Feats list which includes all the feats from D20 Modern, Urban Arcana, Ultramodern Firearms, and Modern Player's Companion 1 & 2.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Player's Companion, Volume One
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