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Doctor Who - The Fifth Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/19/2014 21:38:53
With the release of the Fifth Doctor's Sourcebook for the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space RPG, we have the opportunity to run our own version of the classic episode The Five Doctors, for gaming groups that have really wanted to all play not just Time Lords, but The Doctor!

Again, like the other sourcebooks in the series, this one provides the predictable crunch (new traits, character sheets for the Doctor / Companions / acquaintances / enemies) and fluff (series and episode synposes), and provides some thematic explorations and comparisons to the episodes and themes from prior incarnations.

Of note are the plot motifs that keep repeating in this season: betrayals, surrogate parenthood, (relatively) large adventuring groups in the TARDIS, and so on.

By this fifth book, it's great to compare the growth of the Doctor and the selection of Companions throughout his career. I also noticed how often the Master figured into this season's adventures.

For a hard-core canon fan, there are many adventure seeds suggested that deal with inconsistencies or contradictions found in the season as compared to prior episodes or seasons. That alone may be enough to start an entire campaign. Clara's Commandos, anyone? She can't save the Doctor all alone, you know...

(this review originally appeared on http://armchairgamer.blogspot.com/)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Fifth Doctor Sourcebook
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Cthulhu Rises! - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/16/2014 17:23:39
As described, this track does deliver the sound of water and rain and the sounds of a creature rising from the depths.

I think this is fantastic because it seems designed to loop, leaving any climax in the scene up to the GM and the players. However, there's a natural ebb and flow to the sounds -- crescendos and silences -- that help build atmosphere and perhaps make players uneasy and nervous.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Rises! - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2014 01:59:21
And the next installment of the DWAITAS Doctor
Sourcebooks is out. It's the 4th Doctor -- portrayed by Tom Baker -- the longest running of all the Doctors so far, and arguably the most popular of the original series sequence.

Like the prior installments in this excellent series, DWAITAS - Fourth Doctor Sourcebook not only provides the predictable crunch (new traits, character sheets for the Doctor / Companions / acquaintances / enemies) and fluff (series and episode synposes), but also provides some thematic explorations and comparisons to the episodes and themes from prior incarnations. It even includes a synopsis of the lost episode "Shada", a must-have for die-hard Whovians.

I say, doesn't Skarga's sphere remind you of Rover, from The Prisoner?

Chapter One: Playing in the Fourth Doctor Era

Some really interesting insights here, as I'm used to thinking of the Doctor's older shows in episodic form, rather than as the grand sweep of a campaign arc. While many would cite the change in characterization as the most obvious change, I'd missed the fact that the Far Future of humanity is mapped out in this cycle of stories. Also, as pointed out in "The Demystification of the Time Lords", it's true that the mysterious Time Lords and Gallifrey are not only fleshed out more, they're also taken down a peg and portrayed as a decadent and decaying culture that possesses a great deal of power and influence in the multiverse -- a theme certainly worth exploring.

Chapter Two: The Fourth Doctor and Companions

The Two Companions that really jumped out at me here are -- surprise -- Romana and Romana. The first incarnation was not only beautiful, but had a distant and aloof aspect to her beauty; the second incarnation was more sweet and approachable in seeming, perhaps indicating the change in her personality after having been influenced by the traveling Doctor's ways (or maybe she just like Princess Astra's looks, just like she said). Of course, Leela and Sarah Jane Smith are also memorable, but the counterpoint of an equal Time Lord to the Doctor really shifted the dynamic for me in this era.

Chapter Three: The Fourth Doctor's Adventures + Shada in the Appendix

For those interested in canon, the complete run of the 4th Doctor's many adventures, and adventure hooks and NPCs, opponents, and gadgets aplenty -- this section is a treasure trove of gaming delights. If there's an episode you've always wanted to appropriate for your campaign, now's your chance to get your hands on appropriate crunch or fluff!


The next installment can't come soon enough for me!

(from http://armchairgamer.blogspot.com/)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Sourcebook
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The Nazi Occult
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2014 09:39:48
It should be pointed out that this book is written as an 'alternate history', detailing a richly imagined and meticulously researched tapestry of Nazi plans, activities, artifacts and personas.

With that out of the way, this is a must-have for GMs who are planning to run games (or are already running ones) that are set in WWII with a touch of mystical / magical elements, weird science hints, or even Cthulhoid intrusions. It's also a treasure trove of origin hooks for superheroes or supervillains from the WWII / post-WWII era of comic book gaming.

Even a cursory read will clue you into names major and minor in the network of allied and opposed occult factions; a close read will give you a rundown of a multitude of Ahnenerbe activities around the world, major artifacts that passed through Nazi Occult hands like the Spear of Destiny, the Holy Grsail, the Ark of the Covenant (with a tip of the hat to our favorite adventuring archaeologist), Nazi mystical rites with occult significance with their exact dates in the timeline, and ties to locations like Agartha and to technologies like the Vril-powered Bell.

If you want to freak your players out with fantastic and horrific adventure elements strongly grounded in history, this is the book for you.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Nazi Occult
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Doctor Who - The Time Traveller's Companion
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2013 19:07:08
For people who want actual time travel mechanics in their DWAITAS games, or who want a comprehensive look at Gallifrey and its impact on the time stream, or some pretty neat looks at TARDISes and alternate TARDISes and other time travel devices -- this is it. All with fantastic images from the long run of the TV show!

Well worth the price. If discounted, then an auto-buy!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Time Traveller's Companion
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Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/31/2013 22:59:05
This sourcebook once again (like the other two in the series) underscores the key elements of the featured doctor's personality, how it differs from prior incarnations, how it affected the stories and adventures of the Doctor and his Companions.

Here's an excerpt: "By contrast, the Third Doctor is less a renewal and more of a reboot. He is an active crusader against evil, utilising not only his wits but his martial skills as well. Neither of his previous incarnations took the fight to his enemies so directly. The Third Doctor also has a flair for fashion and a love of gadgets, particularly vehicles. He is not a reluctant hero or an underestimated schemer; he’s an action hero."

Another benefit of this concisely-written, well-laid out book in the series is an example of how initial ideas in revamping an ongoing campaign (especially a Doctor Who campaign) can impact future adventures. There's also a lot of material concerning U.N.I.T. campaigns, making this a great companion sourcebook to the DWAITAS U.N.I.T. Sourcebook.

Finally, fans of the series: will get writeups and history on The Third Doctor, the Brigadier, insights on how to craft a campaign with (most) adventures set on earth, the treatment of earth as a prison for a normally time-and-space spanning campaign, episode synopses with lots of adventure ideas and crunchy bits for villains and NPCs! A must-have for Doctor Who and DWAITAS fans.

[from my blog: armchairgamer.blogspot.com]

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Sourcebook
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Rocket Age Core Rulebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2013 08:49:29
Rocket Age a love-letter to the era of pulp planetary romances. Radium-powered rocket ships are zooming humanity (and other alien races in the solar system) all around, with 1930s versions of the U.S.A., Britain, and France coming into conflict with the proto-Axis versions of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Aliens from Mars and Venus, and a rich tapestry of rocket age technology, expansionist policies, and interplanetary politics provide a fantastic backdrop for your planet-hopping adventures.

The Vortex system, which captured the neo-pulp feel of the newer adventures of Doctor Who (also by Cubicle 7), really reinforces the swiftness of action and the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants tone of the genre.

I really enjoyed the black & white art, which somehow gave modern era weight and gravitas to the classic alien and rocketship imagery from this well-known genre.

All in all, a fine RPG to add to the library of this pulp subgenre.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rocket Age Core Rulebook
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Doctor Who - The Second Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2013 02:55:44
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space -- The Second Doctor Sourcebook is a must-have for Doctor Who completists. But it is also a wonderful resource for any DWAITAS campaign, because of the detailed stats for different Cybermen incarnations, Daleks from this era, and the Ice Warriors of Mars -- this is, after all, when The Doctor began leading the charge as a hero, instead of being a more manipulative mastermind (as in his prior incarnation).

BOOK BREAKDOWN

Once again, a lot of black & white pictures from the series to help give a visual grasp of this era of The Doctor. The Doctor and his Companions are statted out, along with his villains in the era:

- Cybermen (Marks 2 through 4, Cybermat, Cyber-Controller, Partial Cyberman, etc.)
- Daleks (Black, Humanised, Emperor, etc.)
- The Great Intelligence (Robotic Servents, Yetis Mark I and II)
- Ice Warriors

Lots of tips and tricks to capture the feel and themes of this era as well.

And of course, synopses and adventure hooks for the episodes of The Second Doctor. It's a great look into the resonant themes of this era in British Science Fiction -- and a great source of RPG ideas for our modern times.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Second Doctor Sourcebook
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Dresden Files RPG: Your Story KINDLE/NOOK Editions
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/12/2013 03:53:17
I'm a fan of the book series, and I've seen a hardcopy of these rules from a friend and loved the rules, the setting, and the presentation. It really reinforces that feel of the world from books, and encourages GMs and Players to carve out their own worlds with the ruleset.

I'm overjoyed at the Kindle/Nook versions, as it improves the options for portability -- very important when using this for reference during play. Plus, it allows me to keep the books and the RPG on one device!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dresden Files RPG: Your Story KINDLE/NOOK Editions
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Gods of Gondwane
Publisher: Hari Ragat Games
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2013 09:57:49
Gods of Gondwane's subtitle says it all: Legends of the Lost Land -- Swords, Sorcery, Dinosaurs, Aliens.

It's a great 46-page RPG that manages to convey a seemingly narrow, surprisingly large kitchen sink setting that opens itself up to many approaches for play for the GM and the Players. It's powered by the Vivid System, a smooth blend of simple rules that distill the best elements of the WaRP and Silhouette systems, with a little FATE mixed in.

I think it's a perfect candidate for a Kitchen Sink Expedition, and a nice ruleset that will afford a bit more detail to my original WaRP approach to Weird Adventures.

But first, let's tackle the setting of Gods of Gondwane.

Setting

"Over a hundred million years ago, the wisest of an ancient and incredibly advanced race looked into their future – and discovered their people were extinct."

That pushes the race in question (known by a precious few as the Shapers) time-napping from the future to find out why humans had supplanted them. They began pulling humans from different eras and locales, watched them build civilizations on the supercontinent of Gondwana (known to natives as Gondwane) to discover what secret these humans hold (and destroying these civilizations when they field to yield an answer, or became too dangerous).

This premise allows for a lot of classic tropes from the OSR camp: multiple ancient civilizations with magical artifacts or super-science gadgets, underground lairs, semi-human races,weird creatures, expansionist empires and paranoid enclaves, beings in the outer void, and strange gods of unknown provenance (most of which are part of Shaper machinations and experimentation). It also allows for wallowing in the "lost world" genre, with modern (and not-so-modern) humans plucked from time and thrown into a strange land with dinosaurs and marauding humanoid creatures. It also allows for all sorts of anachronistic adventure and campaign elements to be thrown in here and there, with a powerful bogeyman that seeks to curtail the intrusion of unwanted influence in their experiments (the aforementioned Shapers).

The book also manages to provide a map of Gondwane, plus a listing of the locations on that map -- all the strange locations with their cities and civilizations and dinosaurs for the players to encounter (or in some cases, originate from).

Finally, there's an adventure involved to give the GM and Players a feel for adventuring in Gondwane.


The System

As I mentioned before, parts of the system will see familiar to fans of the d6 system, Silhouette, WaRP, and FATE. Character creation is aspect / trait oriented, with different types of aspects / traits doing different things when figuring out how many dice to roll in order to resolve a challenge.

The "riff" mechanic is a neat narrative method of tackling different exchanges in combat, while still retaining the ultimate resolve mechanic. Seeking various situational and combat advantages is in a comfortable space between traditional bonus / penalty approaches and the FATE-oriented 'tag an aspect' approach (from my limited understanding of FATE, anyway). The magic system draws more from the latter aspect, and makes psychic and magical combat and utility a different flavor from the spell list approach.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gods of Gondwane
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The War of Horus and Set
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/28/2013 00:22:18
First off, please note that this version is in ePub format and not in PDF.

With that out of the way -- this is a fantastic resource for RPG gamers. The writing has a nice balance between providing succinct summaries of the history and general flow of the myth and history of this particular focus area in Egyptian myth and in providing telling details about the variants and nuances of these conflated stories to provide a lot of game inspiration and adventure hooks for GMs.

The Chapter titled "Gods and Their Realm" gives a good grounding in the cosmology of Egyptian gods and a list of the major players in the pantheon.

In "The Jealous Brother", there is an sympathetic portrayal of Set before the troubles between him and his brother, Osiris, began the inexorable slide into generational family feuding and tragedy. Of particular interest is the scene where Osiris is tricked into a deadly trap in full view of an audience.

"The Vengeful Nephew", focuses on the war between Horus and Set from the revelation of what Set had done to Horus's father, through the various clashes overseen by the gods, right up to their final conflict. It is not bits and pieces of myth, but a fully described, flowing narrative.

The Chapter titled "History and Warfare" peels back the curtain behind the narrative to discuss the often contradictory sources and variants of the myths that have been woven together for this book, to elaborate on real world warfare that paralleled the unfolding myths, and to detail aspects of Egyptian warmaking.

"Enduring Legacy" talks about how these myths have influenced the modern day, crossing over into other religions or are echoed in other modern stories.

All in all a rich source of material for a GM and her playing group.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The War of Horus and Set
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Night's Black Agents: The Zalozhniy Quartet
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/24/2013 23:39:28
Once you've settled in to your regularly Night's Black Agents sessions, I highly recommend The Zalozhniy Quartet.

Set in post-Cold War Europe, agents must unearth the nature of the conspiracy from clues, and a tangled web of allies, foils, and enemies.

I liken it to a shorter Masks of Nyarlathotep, wherein the campaign is best run when the Director (GM) has read through all the materials, has prepared and understood where all the events, clues, NPCs, and linkages are in advance so as to maximize the enjoyment and reward of the players when (if?) they overcome this slew of antagonists and difficulties.

Unlike Masks, the author has gone out of his way to enable running the four segments of the campaign in any order! This means that there are options for each segment to be modified if it is played 2nd, 3rd or last (and therefore a climactic ending) in the campaign.

As a resource for a supernaturally touched post-Cold War Europe, it also has a lot of material to mine and reuse in future campaigns.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Night's Black Agents: The Zalozhniy Quartet
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Doctor Who - The First Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2013 19:49:21
It has a lot of black & white pictures from the series which help add to the classic feel of this period of the series. Most of the material is more geared toward setting up the campaign feel, the campaign elements, and a handful of write-ups and rules-related material to help run the game using the DWAITAS system (easily translatable to other systems).

Chapter One really focuses on the overview and setting the tone for a First Doctor era or First Doctor-esque campaign. Really useful for planning key elements and themes of what is essentially a romp through various mini-settings and genres.

Chapters Two through Ten are a set of synopses plus game mechanics and character write-ups for twenty-eight First Doctor adventures, with pictures from the episodes. And it takes us from the beginning of the First Doctor's documented career to the end. We are introduced to well-known villains like the Daleks and the Cybermen as they first appeared, along with some less popular but important characters like WOTAN, a Timelord known as the Meddling Monk, and The Celestial Toymaker.

Recommendation

Buy this book if you're a compleatist fan of Doctor Who, or want to run a First Doctor campaign, or really want to do your own take on a new Timelord exploring his corners of the galaxy, out from under the shadow of the Doctor!

(for a slightly longer review, check http://armchairgamer.blogspot.com/2013/04/armchair-review-dw-
aitas-first-doctor.html)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The First Doctor Sourcebook
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Champions Complete
Publisher: Hero Games
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2012 08:05:19
As a longtime Hero System fan, I may be branded as biased.

However, I do feel that this is a great, concise presentation of the 6th Edition of the Hero System for the superhero genre. It is written clearly, organized logically, and laid out cleanly. All this is tackled in a number of pages that -- for those who may be familiar with the ever expanding pagecount of the Hero System books -- is shockingly short.

It doesn't feel like I was shortchanged, however. The book feels just the right length and provides enough rules, explanations, and examples to allow a GM and set of Players to get started right away!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Champions Complete
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Night's Black Agents
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/23/2012 19:43:34
There is much to love about this RPG. First, it extends the already interesting Gumshoe game system used for such games as Ashen Stars, Trail of Cthulhu, Esoterrorists and Mutant City Blues. I've been itching to try out the investigation mechanics for Gumshoe, and this recent incarnation and extension of the ruleset affords me such additional rules the combat and cinematic chase rules to support the espionage/thriller genre.

Next, it also provides rule options to help emulate and support various subgenres of the spy thriller. There are rules for the interestingly-named subgenres: Burn ("psychological damage and the cost of heroism"), Dust ("gritty, lo-fi espionage"), Mirror ("hidden agendas and shifting alliances"), and Stakes ("higher purposes than mere survival or 'getting the job done'"). In addition to the Drives and Sources of Stability that we've seen in other flavors of Gumshoe, the Trust / Betrayal mechanics are particularly interesting and volatile in a espionage game (reminds me of Cold City / Hot War)!

Gunplay and cinematic chase rules look good from the emulation space, though I'd be remiss if I didn't say that proper playtesting should be done on my part before I can say if it's to my taste.

As for the vampire aspect -- great latitude is given to the GM and the players is choosing the type of vampires they're fighting (which is good to keep the surprises coming in a thriller), and the organization creation rules married with the classic genre pattern of starting at the bottom of the conspiracy pyramid and moving up through the ranks until dealing with the Big Bad (to borrow some Buffy terminology here) has really ratcheted up my desire to play this game as soon as possible! That's made easier by the sample vampires and their various minions also included in the book.

Well done, Pelgrane Press -- I look forward to future releases in this line!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Night's Black Agents
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