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San Angelo: City of Heroes 1.5 (M&M Superlink, Action!)
by Chris J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2003 00:00:00
San Angelo with Mutants & Masterminds stats? I am so there! San Angelo 1.5 also includes stats for GRG's own Action! System, but since I don't play that my assessment of this product is as an M&M Superlink product. The PDF is 176 pages - less than the Hero 4th print version's 256 pages, but that difference appears to be due to re-typesetting rather than any content being cut. Copy & Paste is enabled, so you can paste statblocks, descriptions and graphics into other documents, which I find very useful for creating handouts (and is one of the big strengths of the PDF format IMO)

What's Good? - San Angelo is a wonderful piece of worldbuilding. It gives a great feel of a living, breathing city, populated by supers and normals with very human weaknesses and failings. The text is dotted with quotes from occupants of the city, showing how the presence of supers has touched their lives (I loved the worker's excuse for being late "My bus got transported to another dimension! You can?t dock my pay for that!") San Angelo's resident superhero team, the "Justice Foundation" are around PL10, making them around the same level as starting PCs, which is a refreshing change from making them "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" which seems to be the standard for other companys' superhero citybooks.

This includes stats for both M&M and Action! system. While the various D20 based supers games are incompatible, I think the M&M stats here would make a good basis for converting to other D20 games, like SAS D20 or Blood & Vigilance, or even D20 Modern.

What's bad - nothing's earthshatteringly bad, but there are a couple of niggles. Some of the boxed text is in non printer-friendly coloured boxes. Campaign tips are in dark purple, while M&M stats are on green backgrounds. Both of which have white text. I think at 176 pages the assumption is that this will be used on-screen rather than printed out.

I also found some of the M&M conversions a little disappointing, lacking some of the colour from the original Hero stats. For instance, Corona is vulnerable to cold attacks and use of her fire powers dehydrates her, while Cavalier is vulnerable to electricity attacks. Neither character has this reflected in their M&M statblock, despite the fact that both effects are quite doable in the M&M system (even if they're not points efficient) This is doubly surprising since M&M creator Steve Kenson is co-credited for the conversions. (I don't know Action! system that well, but it looks like the Action! stats do a better job of modelling the original Hero system stats.) It's a fairly simple matter for a GM to handwave vulnerabilities based on the character descriptions, and I know that M&M is a lot more granular than Hero, but I still find it a little disappointing that these conversions didn't showcase the flexibility of M&M more.

One other niggle; while most of the art is B&W line art, some pictures were originally in full colour. In the print version they were greyscaled (it's a fairly common practice in print publishing to use full colour artwork in this way) but in this PDF they've been reduced even further to straight B&W line art. This is a real shame, as judging by the two colour character portraits on the back cover of the print version. The only reason I can think of for not including the original colour artwork is filesize, but I personally would have preferred to spend a bit longer downloading to get the full-colour artwork.

Summary - The San Angelo setting is certainly on a par with Freedom City and Millenium City, but represents a different approach to the superhero citybook. It's a city first, and a setting for superbattles second. If you're an M&M referee starting a campaign (especially a lower-powered one), or if you want your Freedom City heroes to visit the West Coast, then San Angelo would make an excellent setting. If you use another system and don't mind creating or converting NPC stats, then this book is still worth a look for the in depth background.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
San Angelo: City of Heroes 1.5 (M&M Superlink, Action!)
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Action! System Core Rules (Full Version)
by Stacy F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2003 00:00:00
Very cool. I particularly like the completely consistent and therefore easy to use and expand Advantage/Disadvantage system. Overall it looks fast-playing and fun.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Action! System Core Rules (Full Version)
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The Thing in Radley Manor (Action!, d20)
by Stephen P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2003 00:00:00
Good idea, fun adventure, some poor execution. Good points, NPC descriptions and interaction. Bad points should have had a map of the interior of the Manor. But it is only $2.95!

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Thing in Radley Manor (Action!, d20)
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Sengoku: Revised Edition
by Nick S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2003 00:00:00
Wow, it seems that the spirit of Kurosawa's storytelling technique has been captured perfectly (that it the ability to tell a sweeping epic story without boring the viewers). The Fuzion system serves as an adaquete starting point for a realistic, historical game and the book contains enough detail that the material within would make an excellent sourcebook for anyone running a game in 1600's Japan (or maybe even Rokugan).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sengoku: Revised Edition
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Sengoku Character Sheets
by John A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/18/2003 00:00:00
Good Character sheets easy to read.Everything is put together in a logical order

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Sengoku Character Sheets
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Shinobi: Shadows of Nihon
by Abel L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2003 00:00:00
Great book by GRG. The definative Ninja. The Sengoku line has been excellent source material.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shinobi: Shadows of Nihon
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Shinobi Ryu
by Abel L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2003 00:00:00
Well detailed and interesting. Good product from GRB

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shinobi Ryu
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The Village of Briarton (Action!, d20)
by Goran B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2003 00:00:00
Excellent resource for those of us how either don't have the time or patience to create a whole village by ourselves. This PDF has some interesting plot hooks, a bunch of NPCs for the PCs to interact with, and two new deities (including a new clerical domain for each deity). Some people may think that the dual-stats (for both D&D 3rd Ed. and something called Action! System (?)) may be a waste, but that doesn't disturb me much.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Village of Briarton (Action!, d20)
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Sengoku: Revised Edition
by David M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2003 00:00:00
Aboslute bargin, a must for anyone considering an oriental type campaign of any sort.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sengoku: Revised Edition
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The Village of Briarton (Action!, d20)
by Michael O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2003 00:00:00
Excellent Gaming Aid Wish there were more products like it. Highly recommend.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Village of Briarton (Action!, d20)
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The Village of Briarton (Action!, d20)
by Charles J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/25/2003 00:00:00
The Village of Briarton is a PDF supplement from Gold Rush Games. There is apparently a print version of this book, but the e-version is the one I bought. I was in a time crunch and needed a complete village fast, so I thought I'd give this product a chance.

Appearances - The zip file I downloaded from RPGNow.com only had one 62 page pdf file in it. It should be noted that only 45 of those pages are actual d20 product, as the rest of the pages are filled with Action! System crunch which I will not consider relevant to this review. The cover also acts as the credits page, which was moderately annoying since the large white letters that ruin the otherwise attractive black & white cover illustration. Color is used in moderation throughout the book, mostly for the test of section headings and as background for sidebars. What really makes this product hard on the printer, however, is the inch thick border art that runs along the top and outside edge of each page. The interior illustrations, of which there are many, are mostly mediocre. There are a few really nice pieces in the mix, however. The maps are truly hideous color ink eating abominations done with what looks to be Campaign Cartographer. Most of the maps have very blurry key text. The layout of the book is okay, but overall it isn't a very visually appealing product. I would have also appreciated the font size being knocked down a notch to help compensate for the fact that a lot of page space is wasted on those borders.

Content -

Introduction - Nothing exciting here. Just some words about how "a village doesn't have to be a backwater to be glossed over in the rush to get to somewhere more exciting." and some notes on how to use the book, how to tweak it for your own campaign, and a bit on religion. The couple of paragraphs on religion are really the only useful information on these two pages, but introductions are rarely worth anything so I won't hold that against the book.

Overview - This brief three page chapter gives us a short history of the thirty years young village, the settlements stat block, some words on economics and the daily routine. Nothing here really jumps out as terribly interesting, falling mostly into the realms of the generic and the obvious. At the end is the worst map in the book, which takes up a full page. It is of the general area surrounding Briarton and could have had 90% of it cropped down without losing more than a few areas of interest. It could have been cropped to half its size without losing any of the keyed locations at all. There is entirely too much dead space on this hideous thing. So not only is it ugly in the extreme, it is also mostly pointless.

Arundel Manor - Here we get an overview of the residence of the local lord, starting with another ugly map that is at least useful, if hard to read. Fortunately, there is a full page version of this map at the end of the PDF which is much more legible. After a few paragraphs about the house itself (including a helpful set of stats for the walls, doors, locks, windows, and wooden shutters), we get to the meat of the chapter which are the NPCs. Here we get Lord Roderick Arundel himself, his daughter Lady Alianora Fitzhugh, her son Robin Fitzhugh, and Gellir, the only dwarven inhabitant of Briarton who just kind of lives with his old adventuring buddy Arundel. Two other residents of the house, the married servants Dunstan and Rosalind Giles, don't get stats and only get three sentences of attention. Also in this chapter are a couple of magic items and a spell (Allure), and the first of the books "Interaction seeds" which are basically ideas for possible adventures or plots related to the npcs. Not all NPCs get interaction seeds, but they do help bring a little life to otherwise terribly generic NPCs.

The Village - Here we are treated to a fuzzy, hard to read map of the village itself which sinfully doesn't get the better, full page map treatment that Arundel Manor, Greenbriar Inn, and the Shrine of Erilys get at the end of the PDF. Maybe it is just me, but it just seems obvious that if you're going to include full page maps in a product about a village that one of those maps should be of the village itself. And the map of the village, whatever size it is, should be legible.

As for the text of the chapter, we get brief summaries of most of the important shops in the village and descriptions of the locals. As far as crunch goes, this chapter gives us 16 statted NPCs (several more are described without stats), a goddess (Erilys, The Protector...goddess of the hearth), a domain (Hearth), two spells, and a monster (the grass cloaker). There are also nine interaction seeds. Combined with all the descriptions of places and people without stats it doesn't seem like this should be a bad use of 22 pages. Unfortunately, I found it all so terribly dull and uninspiring. I could almost swear I've seen most of these characters in fantasy movies ridiculed on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Outlying Regions - More people and places, this time of the folk who don't dwell in Briarton itself, but nearby enough to interact with the village from time to time. For some reason the fact that chapter starts off with a wizard named Angwyn ap-Llewellyn made me cringe. On the other hand, the rest of the NPCs described here seem a little less cardboard than those in the previous chapter. They didn't excite me but they weren't so dull that I could only finish reading their backgrounds by force of will. The locations weren't any improvement, though at least the shrine of Vextra gives us a new deity (Vextra, Lord of Pestilence), a new domain (Pestilence), and three new spells (Malaise, Plant Blight, and Plague).

In Conclusion - I was very disappointed with this product. It has severe blemishes in both appearance and content without really having any significantly redeeming virtues to save it from being a mediocre product. It doesn't completely fail to be useful, but the true test is whether I would rather have the money I spent on it back rather than have the product. In this case, I can honestly say that I'd rather have the cash. Overall this book is truly boring, which is sad because I would really like to see a good, well detailed village product. This book falls well short of the mark of good. It doesn't even quite make average. Decent maps could have made this book a 3. That and more originality could have made it a 4. With all those and better layout and art it might have even made 5. As it is, this book marks a solid rating of 2.


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Village of Briarton (Action!, d20)
by Adam T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2003 00:00:00
This is a decent book. It provides a lot of detail on the village of Briarton, some of its populace, and the surrounding area, in 45 pages. It also gives a few hints for adventure ideas. Another 10 pages converts all the character stats from the d20 System to the Action! System.

I am disappointed with the maps provided in the book, however. They were at such a low resolution that it is extremely difficult to make out the names and locations provided. A higher resolution or an extra file of just hi-resolution maps would have been nice. There are a few maps in the back of the book that have been enlarged, which make them easier to see, but the earlier maps (one of which is the surrounding area around the town) are not clear.

I was also disappointed in the cover. I was expecting to get the full color cover, as is depicted in the description of this book, but it has apparently not been included.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Thing in Radley Manor (Action!, d20)
by Bill L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2003 00:00:00
Neat little adventure that was a blast to play. I ported it to Savage Worlds (which took all of 30 minutes). It is dual-statted (Action! system and D20) which makes it easy to convert to your system of choice.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Thing in Radley Manor (Action!, d20)
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Action! Classics: The War of the Worlds (d20, Action!)
by Bill L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/04/2003 00:00:00
Even if you don't use the Action system this book is worth the price of admission as a sourcebook for your system of choice - it also includes the complete text of the "War of the Worlds" by HG Wells, which retails in bookstores for $4.95! Highly recommended to anyone interested in gaming this genre.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Action! Classics: The War of the Worlds (d20, Action!)
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Action! Classics: The War of the Worlds (d20, Action!)
by Chris J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/16/2003 00:00:00
Pages 6 to 71 are the full text of the novel. It's well laid out and nicely illustrated. I'm not sure if I'd like to read it in this format (either on screen or printed) but it's handy having the main text included in the sourcebook.

The rest of the PDF is forty pages of actual game content, parts of which are very good. But first the bad part: I bought this on the strength of the D20 content, unfortunately the only D20 content are stats for the main characters in the novel, and a racial package for Martians. No weapon or vehicle stats, no "crunchy bits". What there is appears to have been bolted on at the last minute in order to get that d20 logo on the cover. Very, very disappointing.

So chucking out all the Action! system crunchy bits, what's left? There's a very sketchy two-page setting chapter on Edwardian England. The Action! crunchy bits chapters have some good descriptions of the various weapons and vehicles, as well as some nice illustrations. There are NPC stats for all the major characters in the novel, dual statted for Action and D20. Then there's chapter 5 - ten pages of GM advice and ideas for running a War Of The Worlds game, including changing the period, alternate endings and possible sequels. This section is superb, and almost worth the cost of the PDF alone. There then follows one page of unit stats for using the Monster Island game to fight out the war... nice but..

In summary, if I'd been an Action! system GM wanting to run a War Of The Worlds game, I'd rate this a 5. If I'd bought it just for the background and descriptions, knowing the game material was for a game I didn't play, then I'd give it at least a 4, as it's well written and attractively set out. But I bought this to do the game in D20 which the blurb claims this book will let you do, but there just isn't enough D20 content to allow that. So this gets a 3 purely for Chapter 5.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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