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d6 Magazine Issue 2
Publisher: Wicked North Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/03/2011 22:15:25
(review originally posted at tenkarstavern.com) It seems like yesterday that the first issue of d6 Magazine hit the virtual news stand. Actually, it was less then 2 weeks ago. That's a damn nice pace.

What do you get for your FREE d6 Magazine dollars?

32 pages of d6 goodness:

An excerpt from the upcoming d6 RPG: The Black Desert covering robots and androids. Pretty useful if you are planning on running a sic-fi campaign, or even used for making golems in a fantasy setting.

Graiv's Magical Curiosities - "A shop of useless magic items". Pretty much everything here is adaptable to an OSR game or pretty much any RPG, as the majority are stateless and systemless.

Cinnamon and the Maco - Floor plans and sats for a sic-fi spacecraft.

Broken Wand - an adventure using the Cinema6 rules. At about 16 pages long, it's fairly sizable, although that does include a page and a half summary of the changes Cinema6 does to the cored6 rules.

Really nice magazine. The fact that its free makes it priceless.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
d6 Magazine Issue 2
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RPG Creatures - Bestiary 1 (Extended Edition)
Publisher: Cloister Publications
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/19/2011 20:53:03
Generic used to mean something resembling "lowest common denominator". That's certainly not true RPG Creatures - Bestiary 1. Yeah, the title of the product is fairly lame, but the contents are second to none. I love good artwork, and this PDF is somewhere between great and amazing in art quality. This is a PDF full of framable fantasy art pieces - there is a market for these as prints. Or just do this as a print on demand and I'll cut out my own prints ;)

The stats for the creatures that are illustrated are generic and will need a little conversion to stat it out for your system of choice. That shouldn't be too hard, as many of "us old schoolers" are used to converting current RPG products for our sensibilities.

Bestiary 1 isn't bookmarked - it's full of hyperlinks instead, which works wonders. Like the pog sized portrait the Nordjarimm? Click it and go right to the page. Greg Christopher himself would be proud ;)

I'm really stuck at what to say. This should really speak for itself. The artwork is extremely strong, the writing is good and the generic stats are very useful to tweaking the monsters to your own needs.

If nothing else, check out the free preview on the RPGNow page. It will show you better then I can what it's all about.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Creatures - Bestiary 1 (Extended Edition)
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THE SECRET FIRE Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Secret Fire Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/14/2011 15:33:47
The Secret Fire builds upon the Old School D&D Engine and adds some of gaming's modern advancements while still remaining true to its roots. If you are a D20 / 3e or earlier gamer, TSF should feel familiar to you. At the same time, a lot has been changed- mostly for the better in my opinion.

Gone are ever expanding pools of Hit Points. Instead, you have wound levels that actual mean something to your character. Combat is deadly and a last resort, especially if the party hasn't planned in advance.

Class-wise, its the 4 basic core classes, but the simple and intuitive multi-classing system (as past of the Trademarks a character can choose) should allow one to create easily customize their character.

Atmosphere-wise, it outdoes LotFP Weird Fantasy in many ways and that's a fairly hard standard to attain.

Over 300 pages long and I'm still working my way through it. Very well put together from what I've read thus far (and I've been randomly bouncing around it).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THE SECRET FIRE Roleplaying Game
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Knowledge Illuminates
Publisher: GM Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/10/2011 19:05:05
Knowledge Illuminates is the first in a series of One Shot Adventures from Tim Shorts (of the blog Gothridge Manor). Written for Swords & Wizardry, but usable with any of the Old School rulesets, we are presented with a semi-sandbox that serves as a very nice campaign starter.

I call it a semi-sandbox, as the area map includes only the area local to the main encounter location, and there are no population centers on that map. So the GM will need to set the players upon the road to adventure. Thankfully, Tim has provided the GM with an assortment of interesting hooks to get the players involved in the story. It's a damn interesting story too.

Nice maps, great hooks, well written adventure. It's damn close to a home run. There's always a "but": but there's a handful of typos that spellchecking on the computer won't find, but are noticeable upon reading. As this is a PDF release, correcting it shouldn't be too big a deal, and it doesn't detract from an otherwise excellent adventure.

Actually, it is almost "rules lite" in nature, as it requires role play and thinking as much as, if not more, then roll play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Illuminates
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The Flux
Publisher: John Wick Presents
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2011 19:21:59
There aren't all that many RPG products that leave you standing there with your mouth open and at the same time wanting to smack yourself in the head. The Flux is one of those few.

Hello, my name is Erik, and I suffer from Gamer's ADD. No, not AD&D, but Gamer's Attention Deficit Disorder. There is just so much cool crap, i want to run from Labyrinth Lord, to Fate, to Dresden, to Swords & Wizardry, to Tunnels and Trolls - I want it all. As a GM, sometimes I get drawn to the new shiny like a moth to flame.

The Flux embraces my illness and makes it a strength. The solution is obvious really, run them all, yet keep them linked. John Wick is a smart man.

This isn't a long, wordy product, but a tool that may be eye opening and inspirational. I'm already toying with it, and I don't even have a campaign started with any system at the moment.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Flux
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Transylvania
Publisher: Monolith Graphics
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/19/2010 15:33:49
I'll add my quick 5 cents and say this is a very good soundtrack for your next CoC session. Very well done. Only complain is that it was relased nearly 3 weeks after Halloween.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Transylvania
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Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits! PDF
Publisher: Precis Intermedia
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/21/2010 17:58:54
Well, first things first: Ancient Odysseys - Treasure Awaits! can be played with or without a GM (referred to as a Director in the rules). Having read thru (yet to play) the game rules, I would say that it probably works okay without a GM, but if a group were to play more then once or twice a GM would be needed to add depth to the roleplaying experience.

Task resolution is resolved using a single d6 and adding and subtracting the appropriate modifiers.

The system is simple, as it should be for an introductory game. There are just three classes (Vocations): Warrior, Rogue and Wizard and four character races (gnome isn't one of them, so you can work that out on your own).

Character generation is simplified in that you roll randomly for one of 6 sets of predetermined ability stats based upon your class. So, random and not... kinda. Characters have 3 stats, ranging from a score of 1 to 5. Wizards will be higher ranked in Reasoning, Rogues will excel in Awareness, and Warriors will be the ones with the highest Fitness.

Choose four skills (Pursuits) for you character, roll for some armor, choose a weapon package, if a Wizard choose your spells and lastly pick your other gear (torch, rope, satchel or grimoire). They say you can be up and running in about 10 minutes... I suspect you can prepare a character in less.

Spells descriptions remind me a bit of OD&D. Short, simple and to the point.

So, overall the rules look workable. They are composed of three books: Basic Play is what is says it is, the game rules. The second book is The Dungeon. Here we find the introductory adventure, suitable for solo, group, or group with GM play. The third book, Further Adventures, give the GM information on running a game, some monster stats and a nice amount of simple but random tables too flesh out one's own dungeon designs.

The author states at the end of the book three that he was aiming for simplicity for beginners and nostalgia for veteran gamers. I definitely feel he found a decent introductory system for new players (but it would definitely work much better with an experienced GM at the helm, but then, so do all RPGs. Does it hit the nostalgia mark? Maybe if RPGs weren't so rooted in wargames... there is a lot of abstractness in the system... you are either front line or in the back of the marking order for example. The Conflict Action Map has the positions of closest, farthest, sneaking or behind. You won't be measuring squares or flanking opponents. You will get to kill things and take their stuff - success is based upon killing things and taking their stuff. Wait, I guess that does make it a RPG that hearkens back to the early days of role playing ;)

I'm going to give Ancient Odysseys a 4 beer steins out a 5. Really nice introductory RPG but long term re-playability may be lacking. This may or not be an issue, depending on your group. Some may want a deeper system, but AO does what it does very well.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits! PDF
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LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Deluxe Edition
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/12/2010 21:22:08
Weird Fantasy is a nice twist on a classic rule system.

The rulebook itself should be familiar to anyone that has played D&D or any of its recent clones, yet each of the 4 classes has a unique and defined roll to fill. The default setting (which is not defined) is a low magic world with a slight horror twist. The Magic book is the spell lists and scroll and potion creation (no magic item list - magic items should be unique in this system). The Referee book has some well thought out advice that can be used in any game (no monster listing either - monsters should be unique, and therefore unnerving and scary). It's probably the best piece of an excellent ensamble. Last but not least is the Tutorial book, which includes and excellent snapshot of real life gameplay as well as a nicely done solo adventure.

It all looks perfect on my iPad and all the books are well bookmarked. An excellent piece of work. Well done.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Deluxe Edition
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Weird New World
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/06/2010 14:46:53
Lamentations of the Flame Princess - Weird Fantasy - Weird New World is James Raggi's sandbox setting for the Weird Fantasy Ruleset (although it will work with any of the retro clones without much work.)

So, why check out Weird New World when fantasy settings are a dime a dozen these days? Simply because they ARE a dime a dozen these days, and James never plays it safe or close to the vest. This is not your normal fantasy setting, but you probably guessed that already.

James gives us a cold land further divided by climate zones, a weather severity system (which will effect gameplay), random encounter charts (land, sea and ice), encounter areas and notable landmarks, some detailed encounters, elves that make the Drow seem tame... in the long and short of it, typical Raggi... if there was a typical Raggi.

The man crams a lot into 62 pages. Most of it is snippets, short pieces to get you thinking about how you want to flesh things out.

Now, could I run this as is? Nope, its a sandbox, a very large sandbox, and James plants some very nice seeds. You need to make this your own before you can run it. Which is fine by me.

Did I mention its a very lethal setting? Very lethal. Good lethal.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weird New World
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Tower of the Stargazer
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/06/2010 14:43:47
So, what do you get for your purchase? More then you might expect. You get 43 pages crammed full of text and maps with cover art by Peter Mullen.

Now, as for those 43 pages, James outdid himself. Seriously. The adventure itself is excellent and extremely deadly (as one would expect with Raggi writing it). Its not just another Wizard's Tower. But that's not where the value lies. The value is in James' notes. Notes on the playtest, what worked and what didn't. Notes on WHY he wrote something one way, and not another way. Notes that just about any DM will read and say "I just learned something useful". All that hidden like little Easter Eggs in an an already sweet piece of work.

Add it is nicely bookmarked - which isnt as common as it should be.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tower of the Stargazer
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Villains and Vigilantes
Publisher: Monkey House Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/03/2010 13:39:10
I missed this the first time around back in the 80s. I'm so glad to a second chance. Beautiful presentation, nice rules, random charts galore. This is supers at it's best, all wrapped into 60 pages.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villains and Vigilantes
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Harvesters
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/26/2010 10:31:32
Troll Lord Games has released Harvesters, their RPG with rabbits, squirrels and other furry critters in PDF format. So, what do you get for your hard earned bucks?

You get a nicely written version of the Castles & Crusades rules that are aren't going to overwhelm your kids, yet should still maintain the interests of the parents. We get most of the C&C classes represented in the rules, and advancement thru level 6. If your campaign was going to go beyond that, you'd need to reach over and flip thru the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook.

The 66 page book includes character races, classes, spells, equipment, core rules, adversaries and even an adventure and campaign world. A lot crammed into a small number of pages.

Is it worth the price tag? If you have young kids that are interested in Role Playing Games, this might be a very good entry vehicle, especially if the GM/DM/CK is already familiar with 3.5e or any of the clones of the older D&D games (including Harvesters' direct parent, Castles and Crusades). It might even play well as a short term diversion for more adult oriented gaming groups.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Harvesters
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Castles & Crusades 2010 Primer & Quick Start
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/24/2010 19:17:33
This was Troll Lord Games Free RPG for 2010. If you haven't tried C&C yet, this is an easy way to check it out. If you have played C&C, this is an easy way to show your friends. Does what it sets out to do... intro the C&C rules.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades 2010 Primer & Quick Start
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Player Character Record Book
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/22/2010 17:51:43
I'm sure I'm not the only one with fine memories of the AD&D "goldenrod" player character sheets. Not that they fit half the crap that your character carried, especially if you had to do with a single sided photocopy. Still, they were worth their weight in gold and 10 times better then loose leaf paper.

Here I sit nearly 30 years later and you can print out character sheets yourself, on your own printer, and it's probably more useful then the old "goldenrods" were. You can make your own (way beyond my ability), find ones on the net, or you can try Kenzer Co's Player Character Record Book instead. Now, just so there is no mistaking, this is a 3.0/3.5/OGL uber character sheet set. It could probably be used with Pathfinder with little to know issues, but using with some of the more OSR styled games may lead to some inconsistances, such as with saving throws.

The spell sheets sheets and the NPC sheets are extremely useful. Heck, I could see myself using the NPC sheets as a DM, as I could fit 4 NPCs per sheet for easy reference. As a player, what few henchmen I had would probably have gotten a full PC sized sheet, especially seeing how we are printing these out for ourselves.

My main complaint is this is still set up like a dead tree product. There is no need to repeat the same pages that are common to each class grouping. True, its not costing extra, and it is easier to print a group of pages then a bunch of separate pages, but I found it slightly annoying, probably without any good reason.

My recommendation? One copy for the group and print it out for the party. I'll take the NPC/Henchmen sheets if no one else wants them ;)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Player Character Record Book
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(Aid) SRD 3.5 Revised (Full) Bundle
Publisher: Creative Mountain Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/14/2010 20:36:49
3.5 is dead. Long Live 3.5. This is probably, bar none, the best 3.5 purchase I have made. Sure, you can get the SRD online for free, but a nice complete PDF package is a pleasure to have.

Complete and well done, it does a fine job in presenting the 3.5 e rules.

Pricey if you already own all the source material, but a good investment if you play 3.5 at all.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
(Aid) SRD 3.5 Revised (Full) Bundle
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