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Control Room
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/21/2012 15:34:22
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=27024.

Control Room features a modern or sci-fi octagonal room with several sets of computer work stations and a central “command” stand in the center of the room. The entire room is enclosed in a bunker-like structure and the computer work stations are all very detailed including different sets of computer screens.

OVERALL

The Control Room battlemap is good, but I can’t see it being used for any sci-fi games. It has a very 1970s or 1980s feel to it and the computer work stations are not aligned against the wall like you would picture in Star Trek. As is, it could make a great pillar for a Cold War game or as a base for the threat of nuclear fallout, but the arrangement doesn’t lend itself well to sci-fi.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The Control Room battlemap is laid out exceptionally well. The map is cut in a very favorable way considering its layout across multiple pages. More importantly, the square grid is aligned to the center portion of the floor where it drops a few steps from the main floor. This is a very critical alignment as anything else would look extremely awkward.

Visual Appeal: 7 out of 10
The visual appeal for the Control Room is influenced by a number of things. On the positive side, it has a lot of detail on the computer work stations including actual monitor displays for each computer, and a series of smaller monitors and keypads to go along with it. The textures throughout are very smooth and the walls of the bunker look fantastic (as they are all decorated in a military/sci-fi fashion). However, from an overview standpoint, the Control Room looks very awkward. The inner work stations look like they’re partially floating over the drop floor (this is most likely due to how they are designed from a 3D standpoint, but doesn’t always translate well to 2D) and the outer work stations are not aligned to the wall.

In addition, the Control Room does not look sci-fi or modern; it looks more like a military bunker during the cold war. The computer stations do not look or feel modern (or sci-fi) and the arrangement is quite scattered. If I were to visualize something modern or sci-fi, I would picture large banks of computer stations against every wall where there are no breaks between the stations and everything is actually mounted to the wall (think of a modern-day cubicle). Then surrounding the drop floor I would picture a railing with possible stand-up terminals along that railing perimeter. If it were sci-fi, I would also expect to see a number of large monitors around the entire room depicting multiple scenes.

Desire to Use: 7 out of 10
If you are running a military or political focused campaign during the 1970s or 1980s, maybe focusing on the Cold War or the looming threat of nuclear weapons, this is an awesome bunker to house your top officials (maybe even your President). If you’re running a modern game, it could be a more mobile control room or something tucked deep under the ground that has been there for decades with equipment that is nothing but reliable. However, for a sci-fi game, it may not fit the bill. This control room has more of a “retro” appeal.

Overall: 8 out of 10
The Control Room battlemap is a good map for its design. It can serve many purposes and its generic design provides a lot of flexibility when defining that purpose. The battlemap has a lot of detail and finding good maps for modern and sci-fi campaigns can often prove difficult as most battlemaps are designed for fantasy use.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Control Room
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The Unspeakable Oath 20
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/18/2012 18:10:35
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26974.

Issue #20 of The Unspeakable Oath magazine is much like its ancestors. The magazine is dedicated to multiple aspects of Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying with this issue only containing Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green material (made for Call of Cthulhu, for now). A lot of the same great content you expect from issue to issue is here including short scenarios, full investigations, adventure hooks, and items to spark multiple scenarios. The pillar article for issue #20 is a piece discussing Assassins and their roots in the historical Middle East.

OVERALL

If you are looking for a great collection of Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying content for a great price, there’s little need to look any further than The Unspeakable Oath; especially if you’re a Keeper or are looking to run something completely new. There is lots of information here and investigation opportunity at such a great price that there’s very little reason to not pick up each issue, if only to read the scenarios and add to your own Cthulhu lore.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
As always, The Unspeakable Oath 20 is a wonderful looking book. The overall layout is kept simple and unlike some previous issues, the space is used very well providing a high amount of value for what you’re purchasing. There is no shortage of great art and some of the illustrations invoke a great amount of inspiration in and of themselves where the attached content only serves to enhance the visual aid. While I would like to say that I expect as much from Arc Dream Publishing, it’s proper to say that they did an excellent job of assembling issue #20.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
Truly the only mechanical piece in The Unspeakable Oath 20 is The Assassins article. There’s a lot of history delving into the historical past of assassins and their roots, but it also contains a lot of content that I failed to connect to Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying. There’s a lot of build-up and a lot of explanation, but more connection to in-game use would be preferred (and provide those connections directly next to where the content appears). However, near the end of the piece there are a handful of in-game uses for what is found, but a lot of the history seems lost in regards to those mechanics. That doesn’t mean the content is bad or not useful, it just means that connecting it to in-game use may prove difficult. It borders on information overload.

Storyline: 10 out of 10
The Unspeakable Oath 20 has two full scenarios: She Just Couldn’t Stay Away for Call of Cthulhu and Let’s Learn Aklo! for Delta Green. Both scenarios have excellent storylines with plots that are filled with suspense and situations that may fry your investigators brain. They are both written in an easy to follow fashion with no shortage of interesting points throughout. Plenty of sanity losing opportunities and I will not go further to avoid spoiling anything.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
There’s a lot of meat within The Unspeakable Oath for how much you pay. This issue has lots of Keeper information while The Assassins can be a great piece for players to get involved with along with the regular series of reviews for everyone’s reference. Although if you are a player, I’d advise keeping your eyes away from the scenario content to avoid ruining your experience. There’s just too much sanity-crushing information here that you wouldn’t want your investigator to become immediately insane.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Another excellent entry into The Unspeakable Oath library. There are plenty of great scenario opportunities and by incorporating The Assassins material into your games, you may find unexpected directions and lots of new opportunities for excitement using content you weren’t expecting (because the Cthulhu Mythos hasn’t dealt with this type of thing before).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 20
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Adventure Quarterly #2 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/17/2012 14:56:26
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26927.

Rite Publishing’s Adventure Quarterly #2 is turning into the Dungeon type magazine to Open Design’s Kobold Quarterly’s Dragon type magazine, and it works! This Magazine is dedicated to adventures, not character classes, or character modifications, or tons of cool and interesting gear; its focus is on really well-thought out adventures. There is some cool gear, creatures and races but they are all part of the adventures. Rite Publishing might be considered a micro publisher but they are doing big things. Adventure Quarterly is a well-done, tight product that has focus and manages to bring some old school feeling adventures for characters at varying levels.

OVERALL

Adventure Quarterly is good looking; not sexy but really clean with an almost minimalist approach. The three adventures are solid and interesting and the supporting articles are relevant to the product. The adventures are great as a standalone or as seeds for some really cool campaign ideas.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
This publication fully embraces the concept of less being more. Rite Publishing was smart to stick to their fundamental layout and page borders. The focus of this product is the information. The gargoyle on the cover is well-done but it looks more mechanical metal, than stone. The pattern surrounding the picture is a bit wild, but it sticks to the magazine’s brand. The landscape behind the gargoyle seems a bit disconnected. The compass behind the “A” in Adventure Quarterly works on two levels: it looks good and is a subtle reminder that this is a Pathfinder product, without stealing the Pathfinder compass. The font used in the heading lost some readability in the smaller sizes. The map for the Ruins Perilous is well-done, but still has that old school “I drew this on graph paper” feel. I would liked to have seen some portions of the maps cut away and placed in the adventure near the room descriptions for ease of use for the GM while running the adventure. Rite switched between public art and stock or original art and the mixture left me feeling disoriented. Some of the art is better than others but there is not enough cohesion.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
This product has really found the sweet spot in providing balanced adventures for characters from all levels. Part of the reason these mechanics work so well is the caveats that the designers include about the adventures and what the GM can expect. Most of the creatures used in the adventures can be found in Pathfinder supplements, but the stats for those creatures are included in the adventures. Things start to get complicated when you get to the higher level adventure, but that is to be expected.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
The only reason I didn’t give this a 10 is because this product is really focused on the GM. There is value for players, but not much. For a GM this is 10 out of 10. The adventures are well-written and easy to understand and follow; the addition of good, extensive background information for each adventure provides good campaign ideas. All of the information needed to run the adventures is included and there was real thought put into each one. The Dungeon Dressing segment is full of those little extras that make dungeons feel alive without burdening the GM. Simply roll % and you are good to go, don’t like the result, just re-roll. I enjoyed the inclusion of some pre-generated characters to go with the low level adventure. What a great way to dive right into a single game session. I would liked to have seen pictures of the pre-gens just to give the player a better idea of who/what they are playing.

Overall: 9 out of 10
This magazine took me back to the good old days when I could go into a book store and purchase some really well-done adventures for a reasonable price. I think putting this out quarterly is a great idea and it gives the folks at Rite Publishing enough time produce quality products rather than just throwing whatever they can out there to meet a deadline. Rite is headed in the right direction and as they grow I can see their ability to maintain cohesive art themes in their products growing with them. The mixture of the old school feel with the young Pathfinder system is really cool. By following the KISS method, Rite Publishing has done something quite professional.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #2 (PFRPG)
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The Tavern 3D
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/04/2012 14:59:44
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26764.

The Tavern 3D is a complete paper model set / battlemap depicting everything you need to construct a fantasy or historical tavern. It is not just a series of generic walls that require you to design the tavern yourself; rather it is a defined set of walls with decoration (such as shelves, windows, and doors) and floor tiles to construct the tavern as one would expect a tavern to be constructed (although this is flexible, it is not as generic as other sets you may find).

OVERALL

The Tavern 3D is an interesting concept to the paper model design. Some paper models are so specific that you can only build them one way while others are so generic that you end up with a large pile of inch-long wall pieces requiring extensive assembly to get the finished product. As-is, The Tavern 3D can be quickly constructed to build the given tavern or you can opt for something bigger by printing multiples of the pages and assembling as desired. So what’s the difference? The wall pieces are much longer removing the need to assemble five short pieces simply to create one wall (which could easily fall apart). This construction method works well for a simple location, such as the tavern.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
The textures on The Tavern look fantastic and the decorated pieces are an absolute bonus. So much that even the tables have food on them and the chairs are fully detailed. Construction looks simple enough and there are lines depicting where to fold. However, this is a 3D paper model and with a set such as this, a construction guide is extremely helpful (if not necessary) to depict how the pieces fold, fit-together, and how to keep them from falling apart. Additionally, a picture of the actual assembled product is a great reference for once you’ve finished (as then you can see if you did it correctly or not).

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
Lots of great-looking details and the textures on the floors, walls, and decor are superb. A lot of attention is paid to details in terms of how realistic the textures look and how well they appear next to each other (in terms of blending the textures as the pieces stand “attached”). DramaScape always pays a lot of attention to detail when it comes to visual appeal.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10
If you’re looking for a simple tavern and would like it to be a great centerpiece, this is definitely a set to invest in (which doesn’t require a large investment). Considering how many times a game can start or come around to a tavern, having a great centerpiece like this makes your game that much more exciting. If you’re creative enough, you could even find a way to construct other simple buildings using this same set.

Overall: 9 out of 10
The Tavern 3D is a wonderful paper model set for such a simple location. Plus the beauty of using a paper model set is that it’s easily reusable and easily reconstructed for other uses. This is a great alternative to the standard battlemap or the expensive resin set.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Tavern 3D
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BattleTech: A Time of War the BattleTech RPG
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/31/2012 14:39:22
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26539.

Player: Eject! Eject!
GM: Eject? What are you talking about?
Player: My Mech is about to blow up and my pilot doesn’t want to die.
GM: This is Battletech. Who cares about the pilot? Besides, there are no rules for what happens outside of the cockpit.

Wrong! Bad GM! A Time of War provides extensive rules to allow players to enjoy the Battletech universe away from their Mechs. A Time of War follows the grand tradition of the MechWarrior sourcebooks from previous editions of the game.

OVERALL

I love the Battletech universe! It is rich with back-story and canon. People have been playing in it for decades and I have always wondered what happens between the tactical battles. MechWarrior, and now A Time of War, answer those questions. This wonderful concept is thoroughly covered by this extensive rule book.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The cover of this book is mechwarriortastic! The people (who are the focus of this game) are front and center with a Mech behind them and drop ships in the sky. The color scheme is great and the Battletech logo still looks great. The pages are in color and high gloss. I was a bit surprised by the use of orange hues on some of the pages and the charts, but this book feels all Battletech. Catalyst knows how to produce a sexy product whose art will cause gamergasams. The page borders are great, and the faux tabs that adorn the right edges to show the reader what section they are in are a good touch. It would have been better if the tabs were even more visible from the outside, but that is a small matter.

There is fiction at the beginning of each section and as you can imagine, some of it is better than others. The faction cards were a nice touch though. They give a quick overview of the world of the factions in an efficient, visually pleasing way. I am normally not a big fan of some of the colors that Catalyst used but for whatever reason, they worked. There were several old school black and white pictures included, and the mixture worked well enough; however, the color is where the real power of this book came from.

There were two major things that bothered me: One was Neil Roberts’ fear of drawing eyes and the other was the use of miniatures pictures later in the book. The pictures of the minis ended up looking low rent and cheesy. I know the use of those pictures was a nod to the old school products, but they were not that great then and time has only diminished their appeal. There was a lot of art in this book, but that is no excuse for using pictures of minis combined with color as well as black and white. It was just too much. A few of the sections of the book should have been rearranged, but this was by no means a show stopper.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
I understand the need for complex rules, especially in tabletop tactical games, but there comes a point with RPGs that too many rules kill the role-playing portions of an RPG. I wonder if this is a case of “Tactical Tabletop” gamers trying to develop an RPG or way too much cut and paste from previous editions. Up front, the system seems simple: roll 2D6, add your modifiers, and bounce them off a Target number. Where things start to get dodgy is that each target number is modified by the skill you are using, and then the skills are tiered and change as you get better at them, and the list goes on and on. I can see the logic behind some of these rules but when it was all said and done, any game that you need to keep a “supplement’s” worth of charts on hand can get bogged down quickly.

This aspect of the game alone enforces my belief that this role-playing concept was fleshed out by people who know tactical games and do not feel fettered by reams of charts and complex calculations to make one or two moves. The character creation mechanics have some merit until you get to the numbers crunching. I like the idea of the life paths and some of the backgrounds are interesting but in the end, A Time of War takes a cool concept and turns it back into a numbers game. I fully understand the need for crunchy numbers to add to realism but this system is burdened by them.

In the text, the creators explain this system is mostly compatible with the regular Battletech game. When I saw this I thought “Hey, that’s cool,” until I realized that for me, this is the cause of the role-playing-killing numbers crunch that is A Time of War. I don’t see a point where this role-playing game should be compatible with the Battletech game, especially if the tactics are your focus. Here is what I’m talking about: Let’s say you have a group that plays regular Battletech. They decide to incorporate the A Time of War sourcebook into their game to fill that time between hard core Mech combat. Do you really think they will not make a tabletop move because their Mech pilot role-playing character doesn’t have the skill to do it? Do you think they will switch out their tabletop Mech because their character didn’t have enough build points to purchase that same model of Mech? Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
Having an interesting and well-made rulebook that covers the time between battles is outstanding. The Battletech universe is too rich to not have a product like this. If you are looking to double your opportunities to play Battletech, this is the product for you. If you are looking for a great industrial strength setting, this book is for you. If you are looking for a game that encourages role-playing and has the mechanics to support that, stay away… far away. Over 400 pages of information is always valuable and for the Battletech junkie or even the curious gamer, this book is worth its cost.

Overall: 8 out of 10
This book looks great and is crammed with tons of great information; however, the fault lies with the mechanics. I know that mechanics can be modified, but it shouldn’t have to be that way. I really believe that Catalyst should take a second look at the mechanics of this game and revamp them in a way that does not try to to be compatible with the tactics part of the game. This sourcebook names quite a few pieces of equipment that no stats are given for. In fact, it has an entire section devoted to showing past Battletech products and where they fit in on the Battletech timeline. At its core, Battletech is about mechs.

I wonder if A Time of War would be better if it was separated into two books. The first book could be compatible with the traditional Battletech system. There is enough crunch in A Time of War’s current configuration to support that and with minor rules tweaks, I think it could work. The second book would be set in the Battletech universe and would not give the characters Mechs to drive at all. The characters could operate other ancillary vehicles, but the game mechanics would focus on people operating behind the scenes rather than the Mechs and the MechWarriors.

This is a great setting and a well-done rulebook, but unless the mechanics are streamlined, it won’t appeal to gamers who like to focus on role-playing. This book has some real high points but those high points only come in one flavor and that’s extra crunchy.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: A Time of War the BattleTech RPG
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Star Map
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/29/2012 15:39:59
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26494.

Do not be fooled by the cover, Star Map is not just a great looking tabletop for your outer-space miniatures war game. For with every RPG system or setting that embraces space exploration and travel, it is inevitable that combat will ensue. Ship-to-ship combat is difficult to picture when thinking in terms of distances. Ships are so far apart that scale is key. To make it visually easier to run that combat, a battlemap such as Star Map is a great tool to use. Whether its a miniatures war game, such as Noble Armada or Firestorm Armada, or whether you are playing an RPG that includes space combat, such as Fading Suns, Traveller, Rogue Trader, and some Savage Worlds settings, this set of maps allows the minds eye to better picture what is going on.

OVERALL

For what its designed for, Star Map is a beautiful representation of near space for the purpose of having a good looking map during outer-space, ship-to-ship combat. In addition, you can use the Virtual Tabletop JPGs as a backdrop to help set the mood in any spacefaring game.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Space combat with miniatures typically utilizes a hex grid. DramaScape stuck with the hex grid demonstrating the purpose of the map in addition to the gridless JPGs that are included. The three versions depicting just outer-space, a nearby planet, and a space station allow for quick options when you decide to place this on the tabletop. These versions also mean that you’re not just fighting in the middle of nowhere, your combat is bringing you precariously close to something you either aim to protect or destroy.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
Depicting a realistic outer-space is difficult enough. Star Map includes what is probably thousands of star depictions making feel as though you are actually in outer-space. The colorful nebulae make it that much better. It truly is a beautiful depiction of what you would see should you find yourself in a spaceship in outer-space. The space station looks great, although it could use a few detail additions, and the planet looks pretty good, albeit a bit fuzzy next to the outer-space design.

Desire to Use: 8 out of 10
Star Map does a great job of doing what it’s setting out to do. I would like to have seen it be bigger from a use on the tabletop stand-point for larger ship-to-ship combats, but as-is the size works well for RPGs and smaller battles.

Overall: 9 out of 10
I like the Star Map and think it can make a great centerpiece for any ship-to-ship combat. It could make a great exploration map and really has an appeal for space combat miniatures war games or RPGs with a good chance of experiencing space combat. The colors of the actual space map is incredible and the detail is second-to-none. An awful lot of time was spent putting those stars together…

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Map
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Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2012 14:40:23
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25950.

Cosmic Patrol is a storytelling game set in a pulp sci-fi setting. You may say that “aren’t all role-playing games ultimately storytelling games?” While this is pretty much true, Cosmic Patrol is solely focused on the characters and the story they create. How is this done? By removing the Game Master and giving everyone the chance to tell the story according to the plot hooks that are laid out for that adventure. This is a big thing as Cosmic Patrol is meant to be more of an improvisational game whereas all you know is a description of the adventure’s framework, but everything inside is determined by whomever turn it is to be the Lead Narrator (the one taking the head spot for that particular narration). The key here is that the Lead Narrator is also a player and also telling their own story in regards to the adventure’s framework. The end result is an experience in collective narration creating a game that is not only fun, but extremely flexible in terms of how you want the setting to look and feel.

The basics of Cosmic Patrol are to use building blocks and plot points to create the story, continue moving it forward, and give players and the Lead Narrator the chance to do something spectacular. These elements are done on a narrative basis using things like cues to describe your character instead of just abilities and skills. But when the dice need to roll, there are basic abilities to aid resolution (for things like firing a weapon). When the dice are called upon, it is a simple base die (d12 or your Combat Stat Die) plus the applicable stat die and modifiers. Using a progressive die system, characters’ stats are defined by the die type, increasing as they “improve.” This, however, is only when the dice need to be rolled for particular resolutions, otherwise everything is done in narrative. It’s a simple system and quite visual (you’ll have to read about the armor and health system as they really can’t be summarized).

OVERALL

Cosmic Patrol is a great blend of storytelling and dice rolling that focuses very heavily on the characters and the adventure they have. The removal of a Game Master and taking turns as the Lead Narrator mean that everyone involved in the game is fully involved and able to drive the story in new and interesting ways. The pulp sci-fi setting means that the sky’s the limit and you can really go any direction desired with a large amount of flexibility.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Cosmic Patrol is designed as a simple but pleasing book. The layout and formatting are very simple and there is little to no “flash” throughout. The art within only covers the different character types (PC and NPC), but provide a nice collection of flavor that really represents the genre. The book is extremely easy to read and the content flows quite nicely from beginning to end. I would have liked to see some pulp sci-fi art covering spaceships (because that can be a big part of the genre too), but what was included look excellent.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
Cosmic Patrol is a role-playing game and heavily leans toward storytelling elements. It does not focus on dice rolling outside of very specific situations and requires the players to be as involved with the game as the Lead Narrator. The removal of the Game Master means that the storyline could follow the adventure’s direction properly or end up somewhere in outer-space (figuratively and literally). The use of cues, objectives, and tags for this type of game-play is excellent for storytelling games, but what if you end up with a player that tries to take everything way off the farm? Sometimes giving everyone an equal amount of power can backfire, but with the right gaming group, Cosmic Patrol can produce hours of wonderful role-playing experiences and lots of great stories to be told.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
For those looking for a story-heavy role-playing game, Cosmic Patrol is an excellent blend of simplicity, flexibility, and narration. I feel that a story-telling game such as this works extremely well in the pulp sci-fi realm (given its inherent fantastical appearance and virtually impossible scientific feats), blending the game’s mechanics perfectly with the setting. Take this game into another genre, and it may not be as exciting, but pulp sci-fi really allows the mind to be as creative as possible. If you’re going to tell a story, this is a great place to do it without forcing the players to roll the dice or make mechanical decisions.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Cosmic Patrol truly fits in with the storytelling crowd. It will be interesting to see what directions the game takes in future supplements, but for now there is a solid base to start from and an excellent amount of material to get your games running. I can see these types of games being extremely popular at conventions and random gamer gatherings with its ease of understanding and the ability to provide flexibility to the players and the Lead Narrator without being bogged down in rules.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
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Floorplan Tiles
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/20/2012 14:10:54
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25670.

Floorplan Tiles is a collection of battlemap tiles of various shapes and sizes usable for constructing a castle or palace. Although it claims to be usable for creating a dungeon, the style and texture of the tiles is more akin to what you would find in a castle where things are clean-cut and designed to be shown off. The collection is quite vast and the tiles vary greatly in purpose from a square room to a stone walkway over moving water.

OVERALL

Floorplan Tiles is designed for maximum flexibility and positioning by only creating hallways when necessary but allowing the tiles to overlap in a way that the hallway can cut directly into the wall of the adjacent tile to form a new doorway. This means that more tiles can be created without worrying about creating separate ones for 1-doorway or 2-doorway rooms. Additionally, the doors are designed as actual tiles that can be laid atop the walls to present a doorway to an adjoining tile. The end result is a lot of tiles with specific purposes (such as the kitchen or private chambers) next to a lot of tiles that can be virtually anything using overlapping tile and included doorways.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Floorplan Tiles is an excellent collection of battlemap tiles with lots of flexibility. Some space could have been saved by not including so many replica hallways, but there are still a lot of different rooms and tiles that allow for a maximum amount of flexibility within the design of the finished product. Additionally, there are a lot of scenery accessories including doors, lighting, traps, and drains allowing you to finish off those empty rooms with your own design.

Visual Appeal: 8 out of 10
The floors and every little accessory look fantastic. I like the use of colors and the jumbled desk in the chamber room looks very cool. I don’t particularly care for the walls as they look a little flat and look too much like the floor. However, if you are building a multi-level castle, this is a great set of tiles to use to demonstrate how wealthy a castle should appear.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
Floorplan Tiles is designed for construction of castles, palaces, dungeons, and villages according to the description. The texture of the floor and the walls are not conducive to that of a dungeon. They’re more like a basement would be if it was truly an extension of the castle above. This is due to the smooth, marble-like effect of the textures on the tiles. With that in mind, this rating is based on using the tiles as what they appear to be designed for: castles and grand palaces. You wouldn’t want your castle battlemap to look rough would you? So go in style with these tiles and show off how a true king would construct his abode.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Floorplan Tiles is an excellent collection of tiles for constructing the home of nobility or royalty (or whoever runs the land). There are tiles for many types of rooms in a medieval style including a vast kitchen with heaps of meat on the butchers table. These tiles are truly a work of art and can be a great centerpiece to any fantasy adventure.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Floorplan Tiles
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Inked Adventures Square Dungeon Tiles
Publisher: Inked Adventures
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2012 15:10:35
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25668.

Square Dungeon Tiles contains a collection of 31 hand-drawn tiles plus a collection of scenery options in a single, handy collection. The tiles use a common grey-stone floor texture along with a darker grey-stone/brick wall. The entire thing is hand-drawn and uses perspective and shadows to represent walls and stairs. To avoid visual boredom, the floor stones are “textured” in a way that makes them feel much more “realistic”.

OVERALL

The collection of tiles is enough to sell you on the Square Dungeon Tiles kit, but the addition of the scenery options truly seals the deal. With these options, you can add real doors, remove hallways from the tiles (or add a secret door), and add other bits and pieces to make the assembled dungeon more appealing. The hand-drawn style look beautiful and the method of shadowing and “texturing” the floor really helps keep it from looking static and boring as if all the stone was smooth and polished. All in all, it is a great collection for a great price when you want to set your explorers into a dungeon using a battlemap.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The size consideration of these tiles works very well. Each tile is essentially 8×8 with the edges actually cutting down the middle of the last squares, allowing them to meet-up with adjacent tiles. More importantly, the wide variation from tile to tile means you can add a lot of different rooms.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
The hand-drawn style truly gives it that old-school appeal while remaining clean and clear for the non-OSR fan. The use of shadows on the tiles and stairs give a sense of depth while the perspective of the walls clearly define the height of those walls. The design of the doors also enhances the visual appeal of the set as a whole, providing a sense of the types of wooden doors you’d expect in a dungeon.

Desire to Use: 8 out of 10
Square Dungeon Tiles is an excellent collection for building dungeons. The addition of the scenery is fantastic although it could probably use another page or more variety (although you can get these from other Inked Adventures products). I would like to see more room dividers such as archways or something rough leading into a cave or cavern. In addition, all the hallways are 2-squares wide, although this is fairly standard. It is common to create dungeons that have varying sizes of hallways such as 1-square or up to 4-squares wide. A very minor thing and doesn’t really detract from the overall usage.

Overall: 9 out of 10
If you’re going to design an old-school styled dungeon crawl using a detailed battlemap that spans multiple sessions, Square Dungeon Tiles is one of the best tile collections you can get. The price is extremely reasonable and you get a lot of options aside a beautifully hand-drawn design. It should be noted that you also get a set of tiles that allow you to create a flexible-sized room in 8×8 chunks.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Inked Adventures Square Dungeon Tiles
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Shadowrun: 2050
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2012 16:22:23
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25327.

“Back in 2050 we needed Decks to access the matrix, none of this technomancer crap you ‘ve got these days.”
“Grand pa, whats a Deck?” Shadowrun 2050 takes runners back to the good old days when cyberware looked like cyberware and runners like Captain Chaos and The Laughing Man were the talk of the streets. This historical setting takes the roots of Shadowrun and converts them to the 4th edition rules. So dust off your deck making skills, jack in and enjoy the retro ride.

OVERALL

I have played every edition of Shadowrun and this book really brought back the memories, some not as good as others. Seeing the 2050 date made me want to go out and buy 30 more d6s because I knew I would need them, until I saw that these were 4th edition rules, then I thought “cool I’ll only need about 15 more d6s.” Seeing the names of long forgotten runners and reading about their exploits was a real treat and if you are a fan of Shadowrun but feel like the current timeline has gotten a little corporate, then this is the book for you.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The folks at Catalyst Game Labs went old school on this one, but they did it right! I remember some of the old art in the previous editions and while it worked well in mostly black and white, it really pops in colors. The covers blue/black/green color scheme looks great, expressing the grit of the setting. Seeing people with “decks” was a real eye opener. The table of contents followed in the normal Shadowrun tradition with a few welcome additions. The dark page borders with the techno symbols was a nice touch, I’m not normally a huge fan of dark borders, but the green hues of the actual pages contrasted nicely with the border and create a product that is easy on the eyes. This is a text heavy sourcebook. There is some great art that really ties it all together. I was disappointed that there were not more pictures in the equipment section and that there were no maps of the cities covered. I know those maps are available elsewhere, but this book could have really used them.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
When you play Shadowrun you need a bunch of d6s, there is just no way to get around it. Having run the gambit of the rules sets I think 4th edition is the most streamlined to date. I was worried about the re-introduction of matrix surfing decks as I remember spending hours of out-of-game time working with my GM to build and upgrade my character’s deck. With the 4th edition rules, this appears to be a much less arduous process. I still feel like some of the game’s rules are too heavy, but overall I’m satisfied. It was interesting to see how the new rules set actually interacted with some of the old concepts and surprisingly they worked well.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
For people who played Shadowrun back in the day, this product will be a real treat. If you have only played the latest edition, this product might be less useful. As a historical reference for games run in the current timeline this book is great. It serves well as a historical setting, but its limited appeal to people who didn’t play back in the day combined with its cost greatly narrows down the target audience for this product. The Hiring board section was genius! The Hiring board was well thought out and is an adventure seed for Shadowrun games from all editions, because let’s face it a run in the shadows is a Shadowrun!

Overall: 9 out of 10
Shadowrun 2050 is a great looking product and a real treat for people who crave the feel of Shadowrun of yesteryear. The information provided in this book is extensive and I loved the Hiring Board section. In fact, I think it should be part of all new Shadowrun products. The lack of maps and equipment pictures was a great disappointment; I really think these additions would have shown people who have never played the older additions just how much times have changed in the world of Shadowrun. Catalyst Game Labs is a top tier game company and this product is another example of how to use resources for good, not evil. This one isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t take a smartlink to tell me that this will be a hit with its target audience.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 2050
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Scions of Evil
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/06/2012 20:45:16
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25138.

Scions of Evil is a collaboration of many creative minds from the Raging Swan Press stable, a compilation of thuggery and villainy fit for all levels of play. With a staggering collection of stat-blocks, back-stories and brutal bad guys and gals–browsing the depths of this rather sizable collection one is sure to find compelling foils and antagonists to suit a given campaign.

OVERALL

Scions of Evil is, simply put, a massive collection of antagonists rife with crunch and flavor alike; from minions and fodder to full-on organizations, the spread of creativity and challenge ratings presented throughout make for a robust library of adversaries for adventurers of all levels of play–and foils for more storied plots as well. While primarily Scions of Evil is a compilation of previously released Raging Swan Press supplements under the same vein, a considerable amount of potent bonus material is included with some seriously wicked and powerful foes; that aspect coupled with having everything collated into one well-organized package makes this supplement a fantastic resource for expanding upon adventures and campaigns or building the foundations of the same.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan Press is well-versed and practiced in the editing room–and their high standards remain present here. Formatting largely adheres to a clean two-column layout, with a staggering number of stat blocks and reference points for game mechanics presented in a fashion that is concise and easy to work with. Additionally, plenty of artwork is interspersed among the many malicious individuals throughout the supplement–and finally, the PDF is thoroughly bookmarked, a must for navigating such a large compilation. Printing this beastly collection would be an endeavor, but the product is nevertheless printer friendly beyond being quite voluminous. Very well done on the whole.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
In execution, the crux of Scions of Evil is coupling the clever and cruel with sound crunch by way of well-made stat-blocks–and in this regard, the supplement is a fine sum of its parts. There is certainly a distinction between different challenge levels–as generally speaking, minions and low-level miscreants are somewhat limited in the complexity they can be afforded while high-level villains have much more flexibility in this regard. That said, one of the things that I have traditionally enjoyed about the component products of this collection is that even ‘simple’ foes are presented with variety. For example, in the stead of just generic ‘goblin’ minions, we have four flavors of goblins: adepts, with a smattering of magical talent, raiders, scouts–skirmishers with tanglefoot bags and champions, tougher and better-equipped than most.

Villains arrive with an even more robust offering, presented with varying additional material such as adventure seeds, encounters (e.g. possible combinations of a given villain minions with encounter level), lore for adventurers to unearth, tactics for battle and plot hooks. Some of the entries also include GM notes with suggestions and advice for running a particular villain–and throughout the whole of Scions of Evil, each of the named adversaries also come with their own back-story, of course.

While the staggering spread of stat-blocks overall are solid and competently crafted, the higher level villains are definitely my favorites when it comes to raw mechanical crunch. Gahlgax Atarrith (who appears for free in Pathways magazine #16 if you’d like an example stat block) is a vampiric balor fighter and servitor of Orcus who arrives at a whopping challenge rating 23–and to make facing him all the more daunting, he is presented alongside ‘Swords of Orcus’–graveknight marilith antipaladins (CR 21 themselves) who pack a considerable punch. It’s foes like these that would make excellent opponents for high-level adventuring parties–and could also fit well into grand campaigns such as the Slumbering Tsar Saga by Frog God Games.

Others among the villains present similarly potent combinations. A Memory of Allwinter is an awakened demilich druid (CR 19) with wicked signature abilities; Vaerosk Ixuzygax is an aasimar half-fiend antipaladin (CR 15) and so on. From liches to witches, barbarians to balors–there is a breadth of bedlam-wreaking adversaries to machinate grand plots, orchestrate schemes and place adventurers in perilous predicaments; as suggested at the beginning of the product, one could approach the progression of power levels as a wheels within wheels sort of endeavor–a ruthless rabbit hole through which a party follows a trail climbing through the ranks of an evil organization along the way.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
It’s hard to go wrong with Scions of Evil when it comes to bang for one’s buck; the library of ready-to-use stat blocks alone are legion (135, for those keeping score) and the collected back-stories and pre-made organizations can suite a broad range of levels of play from low to high plateaus of adventuring. While there are certainly plenty of fairly straightforward foes throughout the product, the presented ‘persona’ villains are cleverly written and boast personality–and the methods and machinations these foils and antagonists could bring to a given campaign are well-realized and often inspiring. Adventure seeds, plot hooks, info-gathering lore and combat tactics all serve to add extra shine to the villains and personas–providing much flexibility for tailoring each into an existing story.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Scions of Evil is an impressive product, formed from the union of a number of Raging Swan Press’ already released and well-written GM resources. A collection of the works of many authors, this supplement is more than simply a compilation–re-organized, polished and presented in a fashion which serves as a powerful workshop for flavorful foes. It would have been simpler no doubt for Raging Swan to simply offer a discounted bundle of the prior products–but between the bonus material and the re-alignment of the material gleaned from each, Scions of Evil stands well on its own.

For one who may have already purchased the various components included in this compilation, re-acquiring them here may prove less desirable–but the added content is quite solid and I feel that having everything neatly organized in one source is a value unto itself. Whether perusing in a pinch to drop-in devious variations on simpler adversaries (spice up that pack of gnolls, goblins or kobolds with those of different roles, etc.) or pored over to plan a grand over-arching network of continent-spanning villainy, this supplement can serve as a powerful resource in any GM’s collection–and is one that I would definitely recommend picking up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scions of Evil
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Castle Ruins
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/31/2012 15:19:30
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24708.

Western Castle Ruins depicts an extremely ruined castle, with essentially very little left of its former glory, and a dungeon dwelling underneath. It has a very generic style allowing you to use it virtually anywhere a castle would be fitting. As it is a completely ruined castle, you could even use it in modern or near-future settings as an unexplored set of ruins formerly buried under years of weathering or in a remote location that hardly sees travel. In other words, you can use it for much more than just fantasy.

OVERALL

Ruined castles can be excellent plot hooks given the immediate number of questions that arise. Who owned the castle? Was their a village nearby? Who lives there now? Is it haunted? What stories can these ruins tell? And more importantly, what can we find within its dungeon? This is definitely the style of battlemap that invokes numerous possible hooks for your adventure. You could even throw it down and let the PCs create this castle’s history.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
DramaScape does a great job of dividing up their battlemap sections from page to page. This helps to retain the understanding of what each page represents by not cutting the map in important locations (causing confusion when looking at on-screen and during assembly). As always, there is a square and hex grid for both the ruined castle and the dungeon. The only difficulty I had with “piecing” the battlemap together is figuring out exactly where the dungeon connects to the ruins above.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
Western Castle Ruins utilizes from beautiful textures with no shortage of broken rocks and random overgrowth. The dungeon has an excellent unused feel to it showing that it too has aged since the castle once stood. Rounding off this battlemap is a good-looking grass texture that has the feel of being able to grow wildly for many years if not centuries.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
If you’re looking for a ruined castle with some underground secrets, this is a perfect match for what you’re looking for. The only thing that could be added to improve its usability is a way of connection other possible branches (or even caves) to the dungeon below ground. Not that this would be very difficult, but it may require a larger room that lacks as much detail. However, the ruined castle is still a perfect representation of what it’s trying to be and the dungeon is an excellent way of expanding the possibilities for what lurks within the ruins.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Western Castle Ruins is a great battlemap combining the ruined aspects above ground and the “what may be lurking in the dungeon” underground. The castle is completely ruined, so if you’re looking for more of a recently destroyed castle, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a ages-old castle that was destroyed and has weathered significantly, then this is a perfect choice.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Ruins
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So What's The Spellbook Like, Anyway?
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2012 15:37:21
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24646.

So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? by Landon Bellavia serves as another sister in the series of ‘So What’ supplements, this time bringing about an open invitation into libraries of grandeur. Whether elaborating upon and imbuing detail into the prized possession of a villainous wizard, populating an ancient arcane study, or even simply seeking to add progressively more intriguing nuances to an adventuring arcanist’s most precious of possessions–the many tables and reference resources herein embark to bring so much more to the scene than ‘You find a spellbook, here are the spells in it.’ Let’s crack the arcane lock, dodge the lightning bolt and summoned spiders and see what’s inside!

OVERALL

So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? is a compelling assemblage of a la carte wonder which wizards and their ilk everywhere are apt to want to get their hands on. Details abound, both clever and bizarre–easily scaled for as much or as little elaboration one is apt to present with a given tome. While the writings and tables herein are ready for random rolling, I feel the real treasure comes in tailoring together stylish and intriguing thematic tomes–and with the nature of the material’s presentation, even players of spell-slinging adventurers could find much inspiration for their personal book. If you’ve ever been disappointed by spellbooks serving as tear-away pages of spells, this one might once again make such tomes a more exciting find!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan’s high standards of editing and formatting ensure that the work here is solid and accessible. A clear two and three column layout presents tables and information neatly and is interspersed with nice black and white artwork of tomes; as well, the PDF is well bookmarked for easy reference and the whole should prove very printer-friendly. No complaints here!

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Utilizing So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? will depend largely on just what you’re aiming for–as there are thirteen sections altogether with different tables and functions for detail. If one is keen to put together an ancient and venerable compilation penned by a legendary wizard, the results could easily span a paragraph filled with great detail–while likewise, there are tables present to accommodate quickly generating lightweight books with their spell contents and cost ready to go at a moment’s notice. Much comes down to simply deciding on degrees of detail–particularly since several of the tables presented could apply multiple times to a given tome.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
More than just a collection of random tables, I feel that this supplement could serve as a powerful spellbook construction kit–and in that regard, could be enjoyed by GMs and players alike. Throughout each section are a great many interesting and inspiring offerings both curious and evocative–and really, entertaining to piece together to boot. Because of the scalability of the sections presented, the material is well-suited for everything from fashioning a villain’s iconic volume to outfitting a worldly adventuring wizard or filling out an arcane library with multiple treasured tomes on short notice; the flexibility is considerable.

Overall: 10 out of 10
So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? is an imaginative and well-realized endeavor which author Landon Bellavia has clearly crafted with care. While the supplement can work wonderfully for constructing a random spellbook on the fly, my feeling is that its true value is in offering a great variety of options whether behind the screen or not–it is a fantastic resource which can serve as a toolkit for GMs and players looking for inspiration. I made several spellbooks running the full run of the supplement to see what might result and was entertained and pleased with each–they’re liable to show up at the table before long. For something as iconic as a wizard’s spellbook, scribing nuance and history for such is an excellent goal for added flavor in a given campaign. My hat is off to Landon and Raging Swan both–this is definitely a supplement that I would highly recommend.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's The Spellbook  Like, Anyway?
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Chaos 6010 A.D. Core Rulebook
Publisher: Arcanum Syndicate
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/13/2012 15:12:50
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24257.

Chaos 6010 AD is a unique system and setting placing the characters in the midst of an alternate future of earth in the distant future of an apocalyptic event in 2206. The basics of the setting are that after this apocalyptic event, chaos consumed the planet and threw humanity into another dark age. The apocalyptic event, a massive asteroid that this the planet, created a link between Earth and other dimensions, allowing beings of chaos to pour out. Portals then opened allowing elf-like “cousins” into the world to hunt down the chaotic beings. From here, humanity’s “playground” opened up and a number of new galactic races have been encountered. However, Earth stills seem to be a shattered planet.

Chaos 6010 AD utilizes a roll-over system where the dice being used are dependent upon a character’s stat or attributes and comparing them to a somewhat static target number based on difficulty. Oddly enough, the character levels rise in number to the nth degree bringing the characters from lowly humans to dang-near supernatural levels. A bit much but can produce some epic campaigns.

OVERALL

Chaos 6010 AD is an interesting collection of mechanics and themes that can create a very unique experience. There is a lot of fantasy elements to mash with your sci-fi and throw this all into a dark version of Earth’s future producing a setting that requires a lot of survival skill. There are definitely a lot of options to keep your characters alive, but if they die, there are mechanics to continue their career. All in all, it’s a lot different than most settings available with mechanics that embrace epic game play.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 5 out of 10
Chaos 6010 AD is a decent looking book but loses marks for some overwhelming visual issues. The art is pretty good with smattering of pieces that are really cool. However, the layout is inconsistent and at times very non-functional. Throughout the book the layout changes from 1-column, to 2-column, to 3- column and back and forth. Sometimes there’s 1-column with a large illustration next to what could be a 2-column format. Sometimes the illustrations are within the 2-column format but not always well-placed. Some of the headers look awkward and there’s even times when the charts are in such a small font that you can hardly read them. Inconsistencies like this really detract from the quality of the book but at least it’s backed by some good illustrations.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
The mechanics for Chaos 6010 AD are pretty good, although I don’t understand the need to bring them to such a high level. I like systems that allow for character definition through bonuses (values) and penalties (flaws), although I typically prefer them to be simpler. At times the mechanics felt bloated such as the large number of skills which can easily be consolidated and a core rulebook with too many options. Core rulebooks should be designed with the necessities in mind to avoid overwhelming new players. There’s almost too many character races and classes along with too many types of magic. The system, however, seems to be designed for epic-style play such as you would see in a movie or comic book, and the mechanics really embrace that. From a theme stand-point, the mechanics appear to do what they intend to do.

Desire to Play: 7 out of 10
If you’re looking for some truly epic-styled playing in a sci-fi setting, then Chaos 6010 AD has a lot of great features. If you’re looking for something simple or a quick-start, Chaos 6010 AD will probably not do well. This game is made for those who like to play lengthy campaigns with characters that are given a ton of options for customization. The setting could use further fleshing out, but that can be easily remedied in future supplements.

Overall: 6 out of 10
Although the term “too much” could probably be used here, Chaos 6010 AD is all about long-term games and lots of character options. The higher you go, the more epic your game play will be. Chaos 6010 AD is a lot like epic fantasy in that the game-play is continually turned up through the levels and your characters become more and more epic as they go along. It’s a very cinematic style of sci-fi and if you’re in to that, then take a look at what Chaos 6010 AD can offer.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Chaos 6010 A.D. Core Rulebook
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MARS: Savage Worlds Edition
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2012 15:27:21
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24255.

If you enjoy the planetary romance genre as envisioned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, with a bit of H. G. Wells “War of the Worlds” tripod action thrown in, you’ll have fun with this product. All of your favorite people and creatures are here, whether red, green, white, or grey. This is a collection of all the best tropes in the genre along with some new perspectives, set up to deliver some serious Savage Worlds fun.

OVERALL

I enjoyed MARS and found many worthwhile things that could be used in various genres. One of the strengths of Savage Worlds supplements is that the materials can easily be ported over into other environments. In eight chapters with a 192 page count, the planet and its history are presented very well. Character creation, player character races, gear, setting-specific rules, a gamemastering section, a five-part Plot Point campaign, and an excellent bestiary fill this book with quality content.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The production quality is excellent. There are several grammar and spelling issues which could have been avoided with some more extensive proofreading, but this is only slightly distracting from the otherwise rich content. There is a lot of “white space” which makes the content seem light for those used to very compact formats, but the art and content are very good.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The new Edges, Hindrances, and Setting Rules presented in this volume integrate well with the core Savage Worlds rules, and they provide an excellent extension that serves this genre well. The rules for creating new character races and species are particularly useful.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
The planetary romance genre is well-represented and the materials can easily be used to spice up Savage Worlds games in completely different environments. The pricing on both the hard-copy and PDF editions is at the higher end, however the content probably justifies the investment.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Overall, this is an excellent addition to the Savage Worlds RPG and will permit the players to have a rollicking good time on Barsoom. One interesting thought might be to mix elements of Mars: Savage Worlds Edition with Pinnacle’s excellent Space 1889 – Red Sands setting, just to give the British Empire a bit of a challenge. Mars: Savage Worlds Edition is well-supported with a series of supplements available at RPGNow.com, including Blood Legacy of Mars, City-States of Mars: Korium, Face of Mars, Minions of Mars, Rebels of Mars, Sell-Swords of Mars, Sky-Tyrant of Mars, Soul-Thieves of Mars, and Warriors of Mars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MARS: Savage Worlds Edition
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