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 Publisher Info
Contested Ground Studios
Contested Ground Studios
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a|state
by Scott F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2011 16:00:21
This is definitely a true Gothic Horror game that scares the pants off my players, and that's a pretty hard thing to do in a "Speculative Fiction" game, let alone a Science Fiction one. The claustrophobic, conspiratorial, and violent nature of this game is beautifully designed easy to read, packed with information about a city you can't get of, yet provides for endless adventuring opportunities. It's just a shame that the majority of the artwork wasn't more dynamic and original, a fair amount coming from public domain sources.

A nice return to old school gaming with sleek new designs. a|state is very similar in nature to 1st generation games by FGU, such as Aftermath; or Iron Crown Enterprises to which it is very reminiscent of the 4th ed. Rolemaster FRP detail to combat and character creation. The Point Cost and Template system provides the purchasing power for your ten mental and physical Attributes, your Secondary Attributes, Wealth, Social Class, Education; which in turn, determine your Point Cost for Skills. Traits (or Advantages/Disadvantages) subtract and add to initial point cost. Using a simple d100 engine, this makes it incredibly easy to modify most of the major rolls.

Although it has ties to the past, with semi-complex character creation and combat/vehicle combat systems, it hasn't been avoiding modern minimalist systems. Incorporating sleek new design elements - such as rolling against your Attributes and only rolling against Skills only if it's justifiable; an innovative experience point system in which the players rate each others role playing and can create new traits, archetypes, templates, ; getting the *players* themselves to motivate the gaming, sometimes using the "Paranoia" technique of "you say it, you've played it" to push the characters into a fast, furious thinking on their toes actors, which in turn motivates the actors to react than do nothing at all. And as long as there's a reaction, a subtle Magguffin is often enough to get the characters creating their own paranoid adventures (which are usually well founded), in a city with almost endless story potential.

Luckily, the system is designed to be tinkered with. so adding "house rules" is something I highly encourage. Adding those rules that you just "can't get rid of" improves the game tenfold. I plan on running this for a while.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
a|state
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Cold City v1.1
by Daniel D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2011 21:22:15
As usual I am the Jonny come lately to reviewing this game. I would begin with saying this game is the perfect companion to Contested Ground Studios Hot War. A little adjustment would be needed for sure but the feel is very similar, just less post apocalypse. Yet not much. Picture post World War II Berlin. With the Berlin Wall's concrete still drying the secret cooperative of world power intelligence agencies meet. The purpose is to deal with Nazi Germany's Black Tech ticking like time bombs beneath the badly damaged city's streets. The idea is that this will be done in open view of the other agencies. All the while keeping the horrible truth secret from the world at large. The truth is agents will be placed in the horrible position to steal this tech for their respective governments, take out enemy agents, spy on the other side and struggle with their conscience as they salvage weird tech that is the product of pure evil. What's that? Want to put on the white hat and work with your compatriots to root out and destroy that which could end the world? You'll have to deal with your own government spying on you and possibly eliminating you as a traitor. Plus would your "compatriots" even trust you (or worse use you)? The game is very adept at bringing out the paranoia and hitting all the marks of a really good spy story. The mechanics are shaped to bring this about. I loved the art and writing style. Which I found very evocative. There is already one supplement out but with ample material from espionage and horror fiction you already have many directions you could go. If Mission Impossible and Lovecraft don't have the punch they used to this hybrid serves as a great example as what can be done with the genres.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cold City v1.1
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Hot War
by Daniel D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2011 20:19:32
Well, let me start with admitting that there is little I can hope to add that others have not. Let this review be one more to add to the heap of accolades this game has received. All deserved I assure you fellow gamer. Hot War ia one of the best horror rpgs I have played in years. There is a rich history in literature detailing the post apocalypse story. Whether the protagonist is a neo barbarian cruising ruined highways for gasoline or the everyman fighting his way through zombies on his way out of his home town. The best stories of the bunch have always been where a person is face to face with the complete end of their civilization. In its place something that is terrifying. To me that is Hot War. Cozy Catastrophes as I have heard them described are where people are mostly alone and able to make a fairly happy existence after the end. World war III would not be such a prospect. Hot war paints a picture where the Cuban Missle Crisis resulted in just that. A ruined late 60s London is the backdrop. The weapons used were not only the atomic, biological and chemical that we feared. Also used were those weird things people have always whispered the Nazis were working on towards the end of world war II. Where super science skirted too close to the edge of magic. London becomes isolated from the rest of the world right after hostilities stop. Soviet troops are seen on the shores but something isn't right. With the remnants of the government still trying to hold on to order with draconian and predictably inhuman pragmatism. The survivors linger on in their ruined city while the grind of suddenly being thrown into a fight for bare existence makes life a living hell. Life outside the reach of the city and the government is far far worse. Reality is twisted and "things" stalk the land. Not just foreign soliders but twisted biological weapons, things from outside this reality that the unconventional weapons let through when they were used. The players take the roles of trouble shooters for the emergency government. Investigating the weird threats from within and outside the city. As they do so they learn the secrets their government and its allies buried after world war II. The system is tailored to accentuate the paranoia, mounting fear and desperation present in the environment. X-files meets post world war III if you want a base comparison Though the alternate history presented and author's unique spin offer much more opportunities for other horror/survivor themed stories. If you want more to your horror rpg than just tentacles and zombies (but those are great too-heck throw them in if you want) Hot War is a great place to start. However remember the best monster is man when you strip away the mask of civilization.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hot War
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Hot War
by Alexander S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2009 09:09:33
Again an excellent product from CGS. The writing is very good to read, the rules are short and fit perfectly to the setting. If you do like a very dark post apocalyptic setting with well fitting rules and you are open for new experiences this games is for you.
Also the presentation is stunning. Very nicely done Black and White Artwork (some CG) which fits and enhances the mood.
Important to know for the folks who only have access to an ink printer, the download includes two versions of the rulebook, the "full featured" with art and page backgrounds and a printer friendly version which omits the (very nice) background.
All over a recommended buy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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a|state
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2009 09:02:18
A Flames Rising Review:

a|state is a game, designed by Contested Ground Studios, that deals with finding that soft, white light of hope in the murky depths of poverty, crime, and The City.

a|state’s setting is post-apocalyptic futurism, but with a few twists. Unlike other post-apocalyptic settings, there are a lot of unknowns. Something happened, something that ripped the fabric of modern-day reality off from civilization’s spoiled body. Technology is limited, identities are a luxury, and survival of the fittest is a way of life—not just a catch phrase. The City, assuredly a conglomeration of some things that “were”, has no name. In this place with no name, you battle against your greatest enemy—yourself.

Thematically, a|state reaches to a place that rests within all of us. It is a place that houses a faint glimmer of hope that somehow, some way or another, begs to be let out. This is not a game about combat, who gets the most stuff, or who levels up the fastest. This isn’t about redemption or loss; you can start out the game with nothing. This is a game about tension. If you make the wrong decisions, the whole society comes crashing down.

Creatively, a|state manages to take an idea (post-apocalyptic) and forge it into something new. “Religion”, as we know it, is not addressed at length in this mythos, but it doesn’t have to be. Too often western religious ideologies are the root behind post-apocalyptic speculations. As a result, some futuristic musings exclude non-Christian traditions. a|state disregards our current society in terms of its inner workings. Instead, it seems to have created its setting in this manner, “What kind of technological advances would happen hundreds of years from now? Okay, now disaster strikes. What is left over? Speed it up another few, hundred years. What would it look like?”

Having played a|state a handful of times, I can say that a|state is a game about playing the hero. Actions speak louder than words, and carelessness will be rewarded with oblivion. a|state is not about physical rebirth (or The City’s Rebuild) rather, it is about spiritual growth. It acknowledges that every person is a part of bringing hope, and it rewards players that do so—even if they bring it in the midst of so much self-pity and sorrow that the players, themselves, may not even realize what they are doing.

a|state is an extremely playable stand-alone game that works well for short, as well as longer-term, adventures. Whether you are rescuing children, or breaking up a crime boss fight, there is lots to do in “The City.”

Review by Monica Valentinelli

Read the full review at FlamesRising.com: http://www.flamesrising.com/astate-role-playing-game-review

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
a|state
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Cold City: The Dossier
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2008 17:05:53
The Cold City Dossier makes no bones about what it is in the product description: "documents that can be used as inspiration for Cold City game, handed out in-game as props..."

And that's exactly what you get, some extremely evocative handouts that can really lend some polish to a game of Cold City. If you're running a con game of CC, printing out the handouts and sticking them into the character dossiers that you give each player immediately gets folks onboard as regards the tone of the game. The handouts are wholly optional though, so this purchase is a nice-to-have rather than an essential purchase.

For a paltry $7 you can't really go wrong with this if you are a Cold City fan.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cold City: The Dossier
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Cold City v1.1
by Indy P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2008 16:41:30
Cold City is an excellent story game that can support both one shots and campaigns.

The v.1.1 version contains all of the material from the original version, and adds in some richer rules for task resolution, and combat. If you like games that thrive on inter-party conflict then Cold City is a good buy. If you don't like that sort of thing, and you prefer a more reactive style of play, then Cold City may not be for you.

The PDF itself is good and fully bookmarked.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cold City v1.1
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Hot War
by Colin F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/09/2008 22:27:17
This one is a keeper. The world and atmosphere are really well done and are very open ended for GMs to work with. the systerm is a little tricky for GMs used to more traditional systems to learn but definatly worth it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hot War
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Cold City v1.1
by Terry P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/26/2008 17:04:09
COLD CITY is a great game. It is well supplemented, and the art is great.
Its a very interesting premise-- monster hunting in bombed out Berlin, ca 1948. Its a very paranoid setting, everyone has a secret agenda, and the Cold War is on the verge of starting.
This is a must have!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cold City v1.1
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Avenues & Alleyways
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/23/2008 13:35:19
A/state is undoubtedly one of the most compelling, rich, and unusual RPG settings ever made. You cannot go wrong with any product related to this setting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Avenues & Alleyways
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Cold City v1.1
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2008 14:15:51
While it has an interesting feel to it, and a very good premise, the product feels very rushed and very incomplete. Given that there is no company support for the line, I would not recommend it.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cold City v1.1
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The Lostfinders Guide to Mire End
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2007 20:36:49
A solid product; Contested Grounds keeps up its outstanding quality control with this product. You get a print friendly (which is also easier to read on the screen), and the full-art version.

As noted, the supp lays out Mire's End, and makes it real. A very good job with concise information clearified by first-rate fiction.

Normally I dislike fiction in supps as most is drek and seldom does it add quality, but CG provides good clear reads that really set the tone.

My only complaint is that a GM map was not included. There is a 'hand-drawn' map included, and a nicer version avalible as a free download to buyers, but as a GM I wouold like a good, clear map to help me with scenarios.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lostfinders Guide to Mire End
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Ghostfighter
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2007 20:26:50
I own every product and download for A/state, and IMO this is the least effective. While the page count is high, too much of it is full-page NPC stat sheets, and some important areas, such as tattooing, is treated extremely briefly.

As usual for A/state, there is excellent 'setting' fiction, and images of key items which I particularly like.

A decent buy, but not one up to A/state's usual high standards.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ghostfighter
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Cold City: The Dossier
by Richard W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2007 00:00:00
this Dossier is an interesting addition to the Cold City setting, not really providing anything more than behind the scenes paperwork to help you get a little more involved in the setting. Anyone looking for extra content to the rule book will be a little disappointed but other than that it's a fine purchase.


LIKED: The way it gives you a perspective on the way governments treat the RPA and the situation in the game.

DISLIKED: didn't really go as far as I would have liked, but I guess you can say that about a lot of stuff.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cold City: The Dossier
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Cold City: The Dossier
by Dennis M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/23/2007 00:00:00
A good effort that I appreciate. Most of the players find such document props a neat addition that can flesh out a game. I endorse this product's purcase and use.


LIKED: The look and content of the documents.

DISLIKED: Nothing.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Publisher Reply:
Hi Dennis, Thanks for taking the time to comment on The Dossier and very glad you found the package useful and interesting. Cheers Malcolm
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 Publisher Info
Contested Ground Studios
Contested Ground Studios
Publisher Average Rating

See All Reviews
Other products (17)
 Hottest Titles

Hot War

01.Hot War
02.Cold City v1.1
03.The Hot War Transmission, Issue 2
04.a|state
05.Cold City: The Dossier
06.Avenues & Alleyways
07.Faces In The Crowd, Volume 1 : Villains
08.Ghostfighter
09.a|state GM Screen
10.The Lostfinders Guide to Mire End
11.Mob Justice
12.The Circular, Issue 1
13.a|state supplements [BUNDLE]
14.The Complete a|state [BUNDLE]
15.Hot War: Preview
 
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