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d30 Sandbox Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2014 20:55:01
The timing of the release of the D30 Sandbox Companion couldn't be better. The amount of inspiration squeezed into 50 some odd pages of charts and tables has left me in awe. I'm going to come right out and say that at $4.95, it is a steal.

It's made for you to print out the pages as they are needed, as some are laid out in standard portrait orientation and others are laid out in landscape.

Need hexes to map with? Got you covered?

Sample map icons? Yep

Hex Crawl Worksheet? It's there (and will be put to good use, shortly)

NPC record sheet? Aye

Tables for sandbox style location, inspiration, NPC details (and details and details), recruitment, sages, Taverns (need to add a Tenkar's Tavern to the table ;), shops, settlements, heraldry (worth 5 bucks on its own, weather, encounters, places cults and more and more and...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d30 Sandbox Companion
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Adventurers!
Publisher: GRAmel
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2013 19:50:55
Adventurers! from GRAmel is a one-sheet RPG, at least from the player's side. One sheet of paper, 2 sides. The GM rules take up a second, 2-sided sheet. So, maybe 4 pages, 2 sheets is more proper, but who can truly say? ;)

Anyhow, what we have here is an excellent game engine with a convention setting / pick up game type play in mind. Simple enough to hand to the players and have them grasp the rules and mechanics in 5 minutes and literally have them jumping into the game.

The mechanics are based on rolling 2d6 plus stat (ranging from -1 to + 5), 7+ is a success, double ones is a fumble, double sixes is a crit.

3 stats - Strength, Agility and Mind. 10 skills and a flexible power (magic) system.

Oh, and an experience system and character advancement if you want to turn it into campaign play.

The whole system is flexible and concise, which means a strong GM is almost a necessity. In the right hands, this should shine like gold. At a buck fifty ($1.50), the price is certainly right to take the chance.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurers!
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Verloren The Rufescent and the Atramentous
Publisher: Dylan Hartwell
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/19/2013 06:29:30
Where to start. Verloren is a city ripped from it's place in time, moved forward or backwards no one is truly sure. It is, effectively, an urban sandbox of sorts.

The map of the city is unlabeled, and in truth, probably not needed. The city is in the midst of moral decay. The hooks, and there are many, don't coincide to places on the maps - they are linked to personalities and events.

See, this isn't an adventure and to come to it with that expectation would leave the prospective DM frustrated. It's a series of hooks and story elements that can come together as a bigger picture, but the DM and the players are going to be the ones to put that together. It's a toolkit of sorts. A very disturbing toolkit at points.

Unless the DM is comfortable running game sessions from the seat of his pants, Verloren is going to need significant prep work, not the least of which is how the players react to the shift from normal city to one quickly decaying.

The big plot hook behind this all? Pretty interesting, and I'm not going to ruin the surprise.

Negatives? I already mentioned the virtually useless city map. As there really isn't much need for it (the DM may be well advised to possibly map out a very localized block or two for some of the hooks) being useless isn't so much a problem, but it would have been nice to have some locations / hooks labeled.

You need to watch the video to find out it's for adventurers 5-13 as it isn't spelled out at the RPGNow site.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Verloren The Rufescent and the Atramentous
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The Revelation of Mulmo DCC RPG
Publisher: Dragons Hoard Publishing
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/07/2013 07:08:38
Learn from me - print out the maps to The Revelation of Mulmo before you start reading the meat of the adventure. With smaller adventures, the visual of the map isn't always necessary, but in this case you'll go from scratching your head to "holy shit! now I see how it works!" in one fell swoop. As I said, learn from me ;)

The Revelation of Mulmo is a bit of a switch from the usual DCC RPG adventures that one normally finds.

Firstly, it is for level 4 adventurers, which is generally at the higher end of what one finds for DCC. Then again, DCC seems to have a fairly high attrition rate among characters, so the preponderance of lower level adventures makes sense.

Secondly, it has a Patron woven very directly into the story - one of the PCs will be hearing voices in his head. Actually, this adventure is very Patron driven. Patrons are one of the more unique parts of the DCC system, and I enjoy seeing it get some good mileage. +Daniel Bishop gets some very good mileage from it. Well done :)

Thirdly, it's a long adventure, both page-wise (about 50 of the 76 pages are dedicated to the adventure itself - the rest are maps and Patrons) and I expect play-wise. I'm guessing there are a good 2-3 sessions in here easily.

It has a nice balance between roleplay, DC checks, combat and thinking. the DCC RPG is a very lethal game, and The Revelation of Mulmo is no exception. Well, except that there are events that may remove a character from play, but may not actually kill him and he may spend years someplace but still be waiting for the party when the survivors finish. Wait, I didn't mention the time thing, did I? Well, forget I even mentioned it - or that I didn't.

Be forewarned - The Revelation of Mulmo is not something you are going to read two hours before game time and be able to run it with any sort of authority. It's not a complicated adventure but it is far from simple and it will play much better with a ref that is well prepared. For the review I did a skim and then a read through. I'd need a second read through at least before saying I had the knowledge to run it.

+Daniel Bishop has been challenging his readers of late by keeping off the beaten path (Stars in the Darkness is a recent example) and The Revelation of Mulmo is no different. Well no, that's not quite right - it is very different (and extremely good) in a different way.

Why four stars and not five? Because it requires the GM to prepare to run it effectively, and some folks just wont do that. Those that don't will find their experience poorer for the omission.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Revelation of Mulmo DCC RPG
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AL 5: Stars in the Darkness [DCC]
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2013 20:17:35
Generally speaking, if I take the time to review it, its because I like the product. Still, after a while, much of it gets to seem familiar. Stars in the Darkness is NOT familiar. There is no deja vu. There is only awesome. Fresh, new, and lethal as all hell. I want to be a player in Stars in the Darkness, and if I survive to the end there will be epic stories to tell. If my character falls, it will be an epic death.

Let me give you the blurb, just to set the stage:

"In millennia past, the ancestors of the elves protected the stars as they followed their courses, for there are wolves in the outer dark. Yet what manner of creature would dare to consume stars as though they were sheep in the field? And what has become of the ancient starherds who once stopped such monsters? For such a monster is back - Urstah, the Star-Drinker. Stars are disappearing from the night sky, and with the loss of those stars, luck is being drained from the world. Your luck. Dare you enter the caverns, face the star-drinker, and release the stars in darkness?

Stars in the Darkness is a DCC adventure designed for four to eight, third level characters, that can easily be dropped into your campaign. In it, characters seek to stop an ancient evil from arising, with possibly devastating effects should they fail. This is our largest, and most epic, adventure for DCC to date."

This most certainly is epic. It is one of those rare adventures that you need to read through three times, write in the margins and use a highlighter, not because it's confusing, but because there is a lot of cool shit going on and you'd want to make sure your players get the full experience.

I want to be a player in Stars in the Darkeness. I want to cross the Bridge Over Infinity, Fight a Mormung and flee from... no, that would give too much away. This is too good to spoil, and I feel like it may be spoiled for me, as I so want to play in this adventure.

Seriously, I can give no greater compliment than I would love to be a player in a campaign where Stars in the Darkness would be there for us. Waiting for us.

Daniel Bishop you done did good. Fucking good. I owe you a beer :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AL 5: Stars in the Darkness [DCC]
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In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer
Publisher: Mystic Bull Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/19/2013 16:50:21
(this review originally appeared on tenkarstavern.com)

It's been a bit since I've reviewed something for the DCC RPG. At the moment I'm not running any DCC RPG sessions, but that's more from lack of available time than any lack of desire - the DCC RPG is an awesome game to run and is fun as hell. I need to find time to squeeze a session in as a player myself at some point ;)

Now, just because I'm not running any DCC RPG stuff at the moment doesn't mean I can't get good mileage out of In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer. I may just use this in my Swords & Wizardry Campaign that's just starting up.

You see, it's a prefect fit for a group that is limited to 2 to 3 hrs play (including requisite bullshitting time) at a clip.

In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer is full of mini adventures or in some cases, more like extended encounters. Twelve of them to be exact and suitable for various levels of play although about half are in the third to fifth level range, a range under-represented in the assortment of adventures that are currently released.

Heck, these are also useful to help pace the campaign you are running, as they add bits of side spice to whatever storyline you are currently running.

The adventures are by various authors, but I'm always partial to Daniel Bishop's work on the DCC RPG, and he doesn't disappoint. Actually, I think he has the largest piece running at 8 pages (and a second piece that runs 4 pages in length). These are the prefect sized adventures to run in a single session via G+ Hangouts or the like.

I really love the isometric maps that are the hallmark fo the DCC RPG, and In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer is no exception. They aren't as flashy as the ones by Goodman Games, but I'd still gladly takes some of these as prints. Why doesn't anyone ever listen to me? ;)

Now I just need to figure out which one I should be converting to Crypts & Things first...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer
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Bandits and Battlecruisers
Publisher: Underworld Kingdom
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/25/2013 20:48:50
It isn't often that I review Sci-Fi RPG products. The few that I do are pretty much firmly entrenched in the OSR, at least mechanics-wise. Bandits and Battlecruisers fits that bill, at it is firmly in the grasp of the OSR / Classical D&D rulesets. It is however, much less Sci-Fi and more Space Opera. Heck, even that isn't really all that accurate a description. Let's Try Sci-Fantasy Space Opera. Too long?

In any case, Bandits and Battlecruisers is a Space Opera themed supplement for any of the OSR clones and should be useable with minimal adjusting (but will work better with LL, S&W and the like and need more adjusting for OSRIC). As it pretty much replaces many of the core assumptions, such as character generation, stats and bonuses, skills, is classless - the reality is, if you already know one of the older systems, you can run straight with B and B and just use the system of your choice to fill in any gaping holes. You will need another system to be your reference point for any spells (yes, there is magic in the setting, but no spells in the book - so, dig out the rules you feel comfortable with).

Tables. Lots and lots of random tables. Whether you use them as inspiration or let the dice fall as they may, there are lots of tables in this book. Personally, I like the Creature Creation Tables. Not as crazy as Raggi's but easy to use and quick. Note to self: making my own Things in the Room Table for Rappan Athuk would be pretty neat.

Descending AC is the default. That being said, AC 2 is as low as one can obtain without magic, so the chance of being nigh invulnerable is near nil.

The equipment lists take up about 4 pages and even includes duct tape. Any equipment list that includes the universal jury rigging tool is pretty complete in my eyes. Heck, I'd like to see a fantasy equivalent ;)

The spaceship section (about a 1/3 of the book) is the most Sci-Fi heavy part of the book (most of the rest is a combination of Sci-Fantasy and Space Opera, shaken not stirred ;) It's approach reminds me a bit of Traveller Lite, which is fine as that of course is yet another Old School game. Actually, the space combat reminds me a lot of classic Traveller, as best I can remember. It has been over 20 years since I played a game of Traveller, let alone spaceship combat.

Heck, it even includes hexagonal graph paper (in two different sizes) in the back for you to print out and use. Very convenient.

The art is all public domain (most if not all from comic books) and nicely evocative.

Overall, it's a very nice twist on the old School ruleset.

I do have 2 minor quibbles:

- lack of bookmarking for the PDF. If I have a choice, I always want my PDFs bookmarked. It makes navigating through the virtual pages so much easier.

- no sample adventures of even a random table to develop plot hooks. The random space encounters and space stations don't quite cut it. That being said, I suspect most of the people that purchase this will already have an adventure or a series of plot hooks in mind. It's just that it would have made a fine product even fine.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bandits and Battlecruisers
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Teratic Tome
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2013 18:51:10
Wow.

Simply f'n wow.

The Teratic Tome is a monster manual of sorts for OSRIC - that's if you took Lovecraft, Barker, King and our own James Raggi , put them in a blender with the urine of a virgin and performed some unholy rituals that shall forever remain nameless.

The art is amazing. The art is disturbing. The art has lots and lots of boobs, and at least one female-like monster with the following accurately portrayed:

Where its genitals should be, it sports a glistening mass of foot-long tentacles that end in barbs and hooks. Its skin smells of lavender.

There is so much in here that I want to drop into my AD&D 1e / OSRIC romp through Rappan Athuk - thankfully BTB went out after the first session ;)

The descriptions are great. They literally have story hooks right in them for the most part. The default world that these creatures frequent must be one notch worse than the 3e Midnight Campaign.

I felt disturbed reading parst of this and uncomfortable in others, much like a good horror fiction novel. And yet I kept flipping the virtual pages. Like an addict. There can be no higher praise.

As a side note, it appears the art and the stat block for the Audience on page 9 are missing. Or maybe I'm blind just like the Audience is ;)

The price of $6.66 is total appropriate.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Teratic Tome
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Roll XX
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 21:02:26
You said you needed some tables for inspiration?

Have we got the tables tables for you! (Imagine Cheech Marin in Dusk to Dawn)

Bite tables!

Weakness Tables!

Sorcerous Location Tables!

What's in the Treasure Chest Tables! (it might just be 2,000 Coppers ;)

In Roll XX there's all kinds of tables!

Featuring sections for Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Supers, Modern, and Horror gaming, Roll XX is packed with adventure hooks, NPCs, story seeds, magic items, monster, locations, and setting details!

System agnostic too, so leave your prejudice behind!

Oh crap! The review part.

Okay, this crap rocks.

Seriously. I'm not inclined to roll a D20 on the tables. I'm more likely to pick thru some tables like they were Chinese Food Menus - one from Table A, one from Table B and maybe one from Table D ;)

I really like this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Roll XX
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Old School Renaissance Handbook
Publisher: Brent P. Newhall's Musaeum
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 21:00:18
I started "gaming" back around 1980. Stayed active until 1997 but remained as a collector and reader and wanna be gamer. It wasn't until 2007 or so that I actively returned to gaming. Even before I was "returned to active duty", I had found Castles & Crusades and my door to what would become the OSR had opened for me.

I am OSR through and through, and I'll be the first to admit that we have a huge variation of rulesets in our niche of the RPG hobby. When I saw that the Old School Renaissance Handbook had been released, I was psyched. Not because I thought I needed it, but figured it might remind me to take some second looks at rulesets I may have quickly passed over previously. Sometimes having a huge selection to choose from leads you to inadvertently limit your choices.

I'm happy to have been reminded about games like Dungeon Raiders and Dungeon Squad (this was not a reminder - somehow I had never previously heard of Dungeon Squad). It makes me want to take a second look at Microlite74. It does so with a nicely bookmarked PDF and a convenient listing of the games looked at, along with hand links to find them online (and their pricing). Very handy stuff.

Now "print friendly"! Huzzah!

It's a quick read, especially if you are like me and find stated out characters to be a bit boring after the first few.

Still, the information is good, especially if you want to show an non-OSR friend the different styles of rules available. It's like a "cheat book" of OSR cataloging info.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Old School Renaissance Handbook
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Hercynian Grimoire #1
Publisher: James Mishler Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 20:58:02
This is a meaty diet of gaming goodness that James wants to feed us. No art to distract you, just gaming info, charts, tables, creatures - the list goes on.

James plans on releasing this weekly or every other week. I'm stunned. This is not a light fanzine - it's a well weighted gaming supplement. I would think that putting this out monthly would be nearly a full time endeavor. Hopefully James squirreled away some gaming material when he was away from publishing and has a bit of a backlog he can pick through.

Did I mention the random tables? Fun!

In any case, this reminds me quite a bit of James' old C&C stuff for the Wilderlands - well written, info heavy and inspiring - because I really want to work the Gnoll stuff into my current AD&D game. Of course, it's Rappan Athuk, so that might take just a little work.

(The Olden Lands Preview reminds me again of Jame's work on the Wilderlands. I'm looking forward to the full release of this one)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hercynian Grimoire #1
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HackMaster Basic Plus
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 20:54:24
Do you remember when the new HackMaster Basic came out? They stripped out the over the top funny from the old HackMaster and were working on a new game. The original HackMaster Basic (I bought a bunch of copies of the paperback at $5 a pop) covered levels 1-5. The New HackMaster Basic Plus covers from levels 1-10. Thinking back on the vast majority of D&D campaigns of run over the years, this would have covered all but two of them.

I would gladly play in a HackMaster campaign, but there is now way I could ever run one. It feels to rules heavy for me to be comfortable running with minimal referring to the rules, and that for me is a deal breaker. Maybe if I had 6 months of steady gaming of the system weekly as a player - but the odds of that happening for me are minuscule to nil. I just don't have the time.

For those willing to put the time into the system, the customization of the PCs is damn near amazing. I'd probably need a spread sheet to follow along, but that's why we have computers. The crunch I'm willing to deal with in a system is much greater when I'm not running the system ;)

Interesting - Giant Rats don't get the HP kicker that most monsters do in HMBP. They get abuse in every system.

I may just have to steal borrow the disease section for my own AD&D campaign. You know there have to be some kicking diseases in Rappan Athuk ;)

The HackMaster Basic Plus PDF is $9.99. The HackMaster Player's Handbook is $39.99 for the PDF. I suspect you can get a lot of mileage out of that $9.99 PDF, as it includes both the Player's and GM sections for levels 1-10.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic Plus
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BLUEHOLME The Maze of Nuromen
Publisher: Dreamscape Design
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 20:52:26
The Maze of Nuromen is a first level adventure for the BLUEHOLME Prentice rules that were recently released. Just in case the release of the D&D PDFs earlier today distracted or confused you, BLUEHOLME Prentice is a retroclone of the Holmes Basic Boxed set.

So, what do you get with The Maze of Nuromen?

You get a two level dungeon to assault your players with. Actually, it's a nicely designed dungeon with multiple paths, which is always a plus. The two levels are nicely drawn.

The rooms descriptions are top notch. This dungeon should be a tough challenge for a 1st level party, and a 2nd level party still won't find it a piece of cake. I like that the wandering monster charts include creatures that have a maximum count - if the party has defeated the max number, they won't occur again. You just don't see this as often as you should.

The art is very nice. The fact that it is all public domain is awesome. Very evocative and definitely works.

Now my one complaint. The font. It's annoying. I'm sure they were going for some authentic old time feel with it, but it made reading the adventure less than pleasant on my computer screen. One demerit ;)

Overall, it's an excellent adventure for any OSR game. Just be prepared to find the font annoying. I admit it's a small price to pay for free.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BLUEHOLME The Maze of Nuromen
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B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by erik f. t. t. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 19:32:31
I'm calling this a "technical" review because most folks that are reading this own or have played or at the very least have heard about B1: In Search of the Unknown. So, I'm not talking about the adventure, I'm talking about the PDF quality of the newly re-released B1 over at OneBookSelf / RPFNow / DnDClassics.

So, how is it?

Pretty damn good!

I was pretty surprised at the quality of the B1 scan. Fairly crisp and definitely clean. It's also bookmarked, which I can'r recall if that was part of the first round of scans, but it is certainly appreciated.

On my 13' MacAir, readable at crisp at 100%, 125% and 150%. Slightly jagged edges apear ar 200%.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed.

Check it out yourself as it's absolutely free.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
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The Trollmanac
Publisher: Trollish Delver Games
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2013 18:29:34
The Trollmanac is like a T&T buffet. There lots of options and lots of stuff to try out. Some may not appeal to you, but there is enough here that every T&T player should feel they've gotten their money worth (which at the current sale price it's a steal!)

Let me look at it in order:

New Classes - Very hit or miss to me, but the hits are solid. I really like the Minstrel, Burglar and Wildfarer classes.

Character Options - As Scott explains it, these aren't new classes, but ways to tweak existing classes into different roles than expected. If your players are into role playing and not just rolling, they should read this, even if just for ideas on their own tweaks.

New Kindreds - They look like they would all work fine.

New Monsters - as I've been putting one up a day on my blog, you know I love new and unique T&T monsters. For me, this section is worth it on it's own.

Magic Items - some good, some average, but enough entries to make it interesting. Watch out or I'll trim your hedges!

Guides for:

- Playing Vampires - not really my interest

- Spicing up combat - Scott, you got me thinking about using Mighty Deeds from the DCC RPG in T&T. I may need to write this up.

- A Guide to Uroks - a nice little write up on the master orks ;)

- Sea Adventures - short but useful. it could add some spice when taking the delvers out of the tunnels

2 Mini Solos.

Damn good stuff!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Trollmanac
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