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Imaginary Friends
by Declan T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2014 11:38:04
This review contains a couple of spoilers, be warned!

Well, I bought this book with high hopes since I had liked other adventures from this published before, and they were pretty good.
I won't lie- I was disappointed.

There is good stuff here, the organisation depicted- SPIDER, is a solid mid-level threat for a superteam to take a break from fighting VIPER or DEMON or whatever. This I like, and it takes up a good chuck of this book.

But I bought this for the adventure, which, although usable, needs a lot of work.

It's not particularly well-written, and it's a very complex scenario so it needs to be clear and concise. Instead it's rambling and nonspecific.
Some of the dialogue as written is just terrible, and has a real tin-ear quality to it. (Bizzarely there's also some really good dialogue as well- did it have two different writers?)

The tone of the adventure is very uneven and it includes comedic cartoon-like characters and brutal, horrible deaths. Some graphic disturbing scenes and also traumatised child NPC's. All of which makes for a strange little adventure.

There are some good points- three fairly original, powerful villains are written up, and all have potential for repeat use. There are plenty of plot seeds at the end dor those short on ideas, which I always am!

Overall, too expensive for what it is, but there are nuggets of good stuff to be had.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Imaginary Friends
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The Widening Gyre
by Eric W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2013 13:33:00
Good quality PDF with legible text and useful illustrations. Reads like a genre book for Steam Punk as much as a specific campaign setting. Provides a good overview and useful examples including inspirational quotes from sources from the Victorian era and from contemporary works set in it.

I appreciated all the content, and only wished there were more. Many of the sections could benefit from expansions and added detail and samples. I hope the sales justify supplementary books in the future.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Widening Gyre
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Unkindness (ICONS, HERO)
by Quinn M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2012 14:04:14
A good villain is a key element for a good adventure. The Raven King fits that bill (great artwork inside showing him in all his glory) and the potential for using him again is VERY high. There are 24 plot seeds included to create future adventures. There is a darker plot element involving domestic violence, but it is handled thoughtfully by the author.

On the negative side, I did note that under the sample encounters, 'A Speedy Delivery Gone Wrong' and 'Four and Twenty Ravens Baked In a Pie' that the same paragraphs are REPEATED.

I didn't purchase this with the idea of using either Champions or Icons to run it, so I have no concerns about stats really. A good plot and a good villain should not rely on some part of a particular game system to work. As has often been noted, especially for super hero adventures, the GM should tweak the villians to matchup with his player's characters.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Unkindness (ICONS, HERO)
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Pretty Hate Machines
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2012 19:04:27
A fun, over -the-top adventure for the HERO system featuring a cast of villains that would make great recurring nemeses. The crumpled-paper background image makes the text a little difficult to read, but overall it's a great product.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pretty Hate Machines
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Terracide
by Ray L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2012 21:15:31
Overall:
I found Terracide a generally well thought-out campaign setting, both comprehensive and a fun read in many parts. The setting is compelling and for the most part realistic (IMO surprisingly so for an RPG).

The book is well-organized and laid out, with sections on the timeline and the worlds of Terracide; human organizations; alien races; life in the 24th century; character creation and some sample characters; equipment (including weapons and armor); spacecraft (with rules for designing them as well as some sample vehicles); combat (personal and vehicular); Marathon Free Station (a potential location for a Terracide campaign); and a GM’s Vault for privileged information. Appendices include a glossary, reading / resource list, and a sample listing of spacecraft names.

Pros:
The setting (worlds, alien races, organizations, and so on) has variety and depth. Each of the seven alien races is very different not only from humans but from each other. The 21 organizations described (government, corporate, criminal, and otherwise) give the GM plenty of material for creating adventure plots, as well as ways to assist or hinder the player characters.

Characters can be easily individualized with many templates for altered genetics, background, education, time in the military / government / criminal enterprises as well as various occupations -- although playing actual aliens isn’t an option. The ten sample characters illustrate Powerful Heroic-level characters that might be typical for a Terracide campaign, and can be easily used as allies or foes for the player characters.

Realism seems the watchword in Terracide. Space-traversing characters have to worry about things like g-forces, spin-gravity, and the like. (This book includes penalties and other info on combat in spin-gravity, as well as martial arts for use in zero-gee and spin-gravity.) Space isn’t just a minor background detail in Terracide but is instead something the players will have to take into account in many things their characters do.

Cons:
If characters are expected to purchase new / replacement equipment and ammunition throughout a Terracide campaign, some cost guidelines would have been useful. Actually, money seems generally ignored throughout Terracide, except in a discussion on the Economics of FTL Travel or as background flavor. This despite the Money perk being included in various character Templates.

With the frequent mention of alien technology throughout Terracide, I found the lack of examples of alien technology a distinct oversight. While each race’s writeup mentions the type(s) of tech that race specializes in, some specific examples in the GM’s Vault would have been nice.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Terracide
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Terracide
by Harry R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/05/2012 08:45:19
(The following is my OPINION & all relevant disclaimers apply, I do not believe I am misrepresenting the product, but if I am it's not intentional.)

THE STUPID IT BURNS!!!

No, Really.

This product looks good on the surface (i.e. Blurb/Product Description) but, In My Arrogant Opinion (if it was Humble I wouldn't be posting it here would I), falls over somewhat in the execution.

Some of the things I have issues with are:
1) The use of chemically powered ("ElectroThermal-Chemical" & Rocket/Gyrojet) projectile weapons when electromagnetically (Gauss/Railgun) propelled slugthrowers are available, with the latter presumably dropping fewer contaminants into the closed air systems of the Ships, Stations, & Habitats, that are all humanity has left to live with. Also *Fire* is generally going to be considered _A Bad Thing_ in the sorts of environments humanity is left with in a galaxy where we haven't got any other planets habitable by the majority of the baseline & modified human populations.

2) I can't see why those building space colonies, especially in other star systems, would build temporary accomodations into an available asteroid, presumably one with a useful mineral composition, so they can build a completely artificial habitat that is inherently less robust, more expensive, & probably smaller (maybe use a smaller asteroid while you start work on a larger one, or move it into the desired orbit or something).

3) Excerpted from page 6: "Aliens are not like us. They aren’t even remotely humanoid in appearance, didn’t evolve on Earth-like worlds, don’t breathe oxygen, and most don’t have spoken languages. Dealing with them successfully requires specialized knowledge."
Excerpted from pages 36 & 37: "There have been reports of Terran VI systems ‘reverse engineered’ by the Cytherians and sold to other species which have difficulty working with these fast-thinking aliens, which has led some to question their ethics on the subject of intellectual property laws."
Umm... What?
Nowhere is it stated or implied that the Cytherians (one of the Alien races) are bound by treaty or contract to respect Intellectual Property laws of Human origin or interpretation, & since the whole concept of "Intellectual Property" is a moderately recent (last 2 or 3 hundred years I think?) legal fabrication officially intended to encourage creativity, & sharing of the results thereof, by providing the creative with renumeration & recompense they wouldn't otherwise recieve, this is, for me, a MAJOR kick in the "Willing Suspension of Disbelief". (I would also note that Humans routinely engage in "reverse engineering", both in Real-Life, & as major background element of the setting, but there is no suggestion that it indicates humanity in general is abnormally unethical).

4) The editing (as discrete from the proof-reading which is great) also leaves something to be desired, specifically the author keeps change tense & apparently which time period is being referred to, from chapter to chapter (or possibly from section to section, I was a little to busy venting into a chatroom to actually track it specifically).

The rest of what I dislike about the product is all about choices I would have made differently, or views I don't have in common with the author, & thus does not (again IMAO) deserve mention here.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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The Wreck Of Alpha Central
by Tim L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2011 07:57:49
There are good writers, and then there are great writers. Lizard is a great writer, his setting overflows with playable ideas, creative kick-starters (triggers I call them) and engaging discription. The classic SF genre trope of a world city when it gets wrecked -- think Star Wars Episode III and the Imperial planet city cut off and the lights go out -- gets a thoughough workout here with logical extensions of what would happen and some things that aren't logical but wonderfully bizaare you would never think of (the way the energy is kept shut off is both plot point, source of intelligent traps, and big bad wolf to defeat or work with). Although written for HERO system, the background itself is nearly systemless (only a few statblocks here and there) so can be used in any setting. Highly, highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Wreck Of Alpha Central
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Unkindness (ICONS, HERO)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2010 17:47:28
The Good: Unkindness does provide a very interesting new villain, with a complete adventure AND twenty four additional plot seeds to use with the villain after the adventure is finished.

The Bad: If you are buying this for ICONS, the ICONS part of it feels like an afterthought. I know it is a lighter system than Hero is, but the ICONS support comes entirely in stat blocks. In parts where skills are discussed in the adventure, Hero Knowledge Skills are mentioned, but Specialties in ICONS are ignored, etc. The art is inconsistent as the cover art is...not great...but some of the interior art (especially the Raven King) looks wicked.

Conclusion: For a Hero adventure? Great buy. For an ICONS adventure? Eh, maybe, and that's the perspective I'm looking at this from.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Unkindness (ICONS, HERO)
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Foxbat for President
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/11/2010 11:20:48
For those who don't know, Foxbat is a supervillain in the CHAMPIONS universe and something of a running joke. He's not a great character in terms of his stats, but over the years has been used as a go-to for adventure designers needing an easily-defeated foe. He's worked with just about every major villain organization in the setting at some point or another, and always manages to survive. In Foxbat for President, BlackWyrm Games takes all those years of the character's canonical continuity, inflicts some re-imagining and retconning upon him, and creates an adventure that's at once serious and hilarious.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

The plot goes like this: the evil organization DEMON has learned that Foxbat is the avatar of the arch-enemy of Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec god of darkness. They've been summoning, and enslaving, the souls of dead Presidents and sticking them into the bodies of bureacrats and low-level polticians, allowing them to manipulate the government. They manipulate Foxbat into running for President (and screw with the law to make it possible), as part of an even larger more nefarious scheme. If it sounds like a cross between the Amazing Screw-On Head, Nextwave, and [screwball superhero comic of your choice], you're right. Most of the action involves the player characters battling DEMON, with Foxbat merely an idiot bystander thinking he's the real villain. The player characters actually have to work to keep him alive, for plot reasons.

Most of the adventure is fluff and maps, with information on various checks that need to be made in HERO System format. This can easily be adapted to the system of your choice with a little bit of work. Foxbat and DEMON can even be changed to a character and organization more appropriate to the supers setting you're using. In fact, statistics for Foxbat and some other major characters aren't even included in the adventure, and you're referred to other Champions/HERO System supplements for those. That's probably the biggest weakness of the adventure, because while most of the jokes are still funny without having an extensive library of products in this line and the adventure doesn't need them, missing characters could be huge. Stats for original characters are included, along with enough fluff and background on each that they can easily be written up (or shemped) in other systems.

The adventure also includes a number of plot hooks that allow you to draw out the Presidential campaign even longer with side adventures. These are similar to Savage Worlds Plot Points. The hooks for Foxbat himself are presented alphabetically, 26 in all. There are plot hooks for the original villains presented here as well. There are plot hooks for the Undead Presidents. There are even plot hooks for the Secret Service agent NPCs detailed in the book. There's a foundation for good solid campaign in here. All of which makes this a good resource for non-Champions games, including Mutants & Masterminds or Necessary Evil.

In summary, there's a lot of good stuff in this $9.95 PDF. Good touch!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Foxbat for President
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The Fires of War (M&M)
by Ethan P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2010 17:15:10
We reviewed this product back in Gamer's Haven Episode 40 – Gender Roles in Gaming (aka the obligitory Women in Gaming Episode), which you can listen to here ... http://www.gamershavenpodcast.com/?p=254!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fires of War (M&M)
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The Algernon Files 2.0 (M&M)
by Ethan P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2010 17:14:58
We reviewed this product back in Gamer's Haven Episode 40 – Gender Roles in Gaming (aka the obligitory Women in Gaming Episode), which you can listen to here ... http://www.gamershavenpodcast.com/?p=254!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Algernon Files 2.0 (M&M)
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Kazei 5 (HERO System)
by Frank M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2010 19:58:15
I recently purchased Kazei 5 for a couple of reasons. I’m a hero system player and aspiring GM but don’t really have the skill in the system to work out the true crunch of the system – so I need a framework to hang things off of.

Secondly, with the new Hero 6th edition I don’t want to go through and try to convert things from 5th ed.

Finally, I’m a little tired of the generic fantasy settings and wanted something more modern.

Kazei 5 works on all of these and does so very well. Considering that the book has been created more by fans and freelancers as opposed to a company of paid staff, the professionalism of the book is even more impressive.

I have the bookmarked PDF version through choice – I live in an isolated area and prefer to receive things quickly rather than waiting a week. I also like the ability to search for text. But a hardcopy version is available for those that prefer.

After the introduction, which explains a few of the setting assumptions and concepts, the book goes into specifics concerning many of the powers and abilities that will effect characters; namely Cyberware, Cyborgs, Cyberspace, Espers and Mecha. While I consider cyberware and cyborgs merely an extension of the same thing, this is probably going to be a major part of the game so extra coverage is justified. The cyberspace rules could use a little work in my opinion but are innovative in approaching what could be a problematic rules area.

The book also explains that you can remove any or all of these concepts and the system still works. In my campaign, since I’m not a big fan of Mecha, my plan is to change (nerf) it to more powered armor rather than giant robots.

The real meat of the book comes next where it talks about character options, how skills can be customised, etc. It then goes into specialist equipment characters (and NPCs) can have. It uses the system described in the Hero book Dark Champions and it is very useful to have access to that as the list provided in Kazei 5 is not comprehensive and even suggests that Dark Champions supplement this. However, the equipment that is included is definitely well thought out.

The next section, also very meaty, contains details of the future timeline for Kazei 5 as well as details of what has happened on each continent. It does include a great deal of detail on what has happened in the US and South East Asia – Japan and China specifically but there is plenty of scope for a GM to set campaigns elsewhere. Indeed, I plan on setting my own game in Melbourne, Australia. This is my favourite section of the book and I can’t help thinking perhaps it should have been earlier in the book which would have helped me make sense of some of the things that came before. Still, this is a minor quibble and doesn’t really detract from the book itself.

Finally there are some NPCs which help expand the US and SEA sections of the world as well as providing me the vital templates I’ll need to fashion my own NPCs. As well there is a GM only section which reveals many of the secrets of the campaign as well as a ‘future timeline’, a feature I haven’t seen before but I find very useful and intriguing.

All and all, Kazei 5 is an excellent book for anyone who wants to start or play in a cyberpunk, anime or even a futuristic Dark Champions setting. The permutations are somewhat endless – the concepts of zero zones could be expanded into a post apocalyptic campaign. For myself, I’m not terribly keen on the anime elements like ‘cat girls’, but they are easily edited out without getting rid of other game elements. It’s given me pretty much everything I want.

4 out of 5

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kazei 5 (HERO System)
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Gestalt: The Hero Within (HERO)
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2010 12:47:04
It's hard to come up with an original superhero setting that has internal logic and consistency. Gestalt manages to do that and make it feel believable, while completely ignoring the pesky question of why, exactly, superpowers exist or how they work. Characters become the embodiment of an idea -- patriotism, wisdom, science, you name it. People who seem to embody these values spontaneously develop powers. This can be good or bad; the flavor text at the beginning is about a character who suffers loss and becomes the gestalt of sorrow, leading to a pretty tortured existence.

The possibilities to be explored within this concept are pretty limitless. You can play it as dark and gritty, or as four-color as you'd like, and even have characters from various styles of play side-by-side based on the ideals they embody. It builds the roleplaying possibilities right into the character concept, giving the player an instant hook and the gamemaster immediate access to potential conflicts and villains.

This edition tacks on rules for creating characters and running the game using the HERO System rules. It's got a nice list of pre-generated heroes and villains to use. While this is well done, the true value lies in the setting concepts themselves.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gestalt: The Hero Within (HERO)
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Gestalt: The Hero Within (M&M)
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2010 12:46:49
It's hard to come up with an original superhero setting that has internal logic and consistency. Gestalt manages to do that and make it feel believable, while completely ignoring the pesky question of why, exactly, superpowers exist or how they work. Characters become the embodiment of an idea -- patriotism, wisdom, science, you name it. People who seem to embody these values spontaneously develop powers. This can be good or bad; the flavor text at the beginning is about a character who suffers loss and becomes the gestalt of sorrow, leading to a pretty tortured existence.

The possibilities to be explored within this concept are pretty limitless. You can play it as dark and gritty, or as four-color as you'd like, and even have characters from various styles of play side-by-side based on the ideals they embody. It builds the roleplaying possibilities right into the character concept, giving the player an instant hook and the gamemaster immediate access to potential conflicts and villains.

This edition tacks on rules for creating characters and running the game using the Mutants & Masterminds rules. It's got a nice list of pre-generated heroes and villains to use. While this is well done, the true value lies in the setting concepts themselves.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gestalt: The Hero Within (M&M)
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The Algernon Files 2.0 (M&M)
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2009 00:14:29
I Look forward to uses this book in my game i know BlackWyrm games is a good comp and look froward to this item

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Algernon Files 2.0 (M&M)
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