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Tomb of Curses (DCC RPG)
Publisher: Dragons Hoard Publishing
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/26/2013 18:46:29
From both a player's and GM's perspective the phrase, "Not for the faint of heart," comes to mind. The Tomb of Curses is a challenge to be beaten and it is holding most of the cards and has no inclination to even tell you the rules.

The basic premise for the adventure is imprisonment in the Tomb of Curses, and so events begin in the midst of doing something else. Judges who choose to build up to this incredible challenge from the start of their campaign will definitely have the makings of an epic gaming experience within their reach, but the writers provide a lead in should you choose to follow their very wise advice to start in media res with characters rolled up fresh for this soul and body crushing experience.

Those players who trust their characters to this adventure must be prepared to bring their best forward, and do whatever is necessary to accrue some good luck and better karma, as survival would seem to be the rare exception... and an accomplishment worthy of only the luckiest and most adept. Luck or skill alone will not suffice.

The writing is clear and entertaining throughout this well laid-out product, with clear referencing to important elements prominently placed for easy notice. Harried Judges will not find it hard to use the Tomb of Curses even when the tension has mounted to unbearable levels. The evocative art is appropriate to the product and the DCC line, and an added perk to a fun read. The PDF is not bookmarked, but does contain a useful index and in-text section references.

Additional bonuses are new monsters, items and several intriguing new patrons. As mentioned earlier, a truly epic campaign could be formed from the elements mentioned in passing within this adventure. Even if purchased and never run, the fuel for imagination and scenario creation contained within the 40+ pages of this product is packed with potential energy.

As I said in the beginning, this is adventure is not for the faint of heart, and in the spirit of DCC anyone choosing to engage in it must know that death is waiting at every misstep and sometimes just because everything dies eventually. This is not a scenario to just drop into an ongoing campaign for fun to see what happens - this is an event. It is a personal challenge to players to belly up to the table with the big boys to test their mettle.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of Curses (DCC RPG)
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Perils of the Surface World
Publisher: Exile Game Studio
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/26/2013 18:01:06
Perils of the Surface World compiles the four scenarios and optional rules expansions for Hollow Earth Expedition released to date, bringing them all under one spectacular cover. This PDF is the byproduct of producing the compilation in print.

Layout of each adventure is mainly unchanged, but the background 'old page' look has been dropped in favor of a clean white. No bookmarks or hyperlinks are included, which is a surprise. The table of contents lists the adventure content separately from the attendant rules additions so finding what you want is not hard, it's just not as slick as it could be.

The quality, clarity, and excitement content of the adventure material is very high and for HEX fans old and new, should offer a lot of enjoyment. The rules content, designed as optional add-ons to reflect the specific surface world environments and tones of each adventure is also top-notch.

The four included adventures are: Miracle Stone of the Amazon, Frozen City of Terror, Legacy of the Terra Arcanum, and Five Talons of the Jade Dragon.

The supporting optional rules are: Faith and Miracles, Horror and Infection, New Sorcery Rituals, Vehicles, and Artifacts, and Martial Arts.

This is an incredible value in terms of roleplayed bang for buck for those who do not already have the 4 adventures. The convenience of having them all in one place may also be attractive to those who do.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Perils of the Surface World
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King Arthur Pendragon: Edition 5.1
Publisher: Nocturnal
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/22/2013 07:59:07
This is a game with a long and storied history, marked by a continuous effort to hone and refine it into a thing of great beauty. Much has been written about the game and its great ability to evoke a sense of the Knights of the Round Table in King Arthur's Britain, so this review will not delve into that. Playing Pendragon is an experience, and it is an immersion into the genre of Arthurian literature that is both supported and compelled by the mechanics of the game in ways that few games undertake. Moreso than in many other games, players will discover their characters and the world they live in, in play. I would strongly recommend this game to anyone with a love of Arthurian fiction, fantasy roleplay, or interesting game mechanics.

This 5.1 edition is, as it states on the back, a cleaned up version of 5th Edition. On a surface scan, little is different, other than the shift from Arthaus to Nocturnal. For players of earlier editions, there are greater differences. Character generation has dropped the random method for point assignment, and the wider character options which marred or made 4th Edition (depending on your PoV) have been cast aside as well. This rule set focuses on generating Knights from Salisbury in a clean and efficient manner to get people into the game without delay. For newcomers, it is excellent. For old hands, some might prefer to fall back on chargen from previous editions then sally forth with the rest of 5.1 intact.

The look of the pages in the PDF is sharp and attractive. The organization throughout is easy to follow. A small but surprising complaint is that this title lacks bookmarks and hyperlinks which is extremely frustrating for use at the table. Other than this issue, the PDF is an fantastic value and very satisfying.

The print on demand version of the book I received, however, left something to be desired. In hardcover, the covers were extremely warped and the pages rippled into several waves so that the book cannot lay flat. So extreme a curve was present that the lower corner of the cover coating are pulling open.

Inside, the book is as gorgeous as one would expect. The pages are crisp and of good paper, with a strong binding. For someone who does not care how their books look, or who treats them with tough love, there would be no problem. For someone who appreciates a well-cared-for book, this curvature of cover and rippling of pages is annoying, and very disappointing concerning the purchase price.

Delivery time for print on demand was extraordinary and I have nothing but praise for this aspect of the program. I have ordered print on demand from DrivethruRPG before and had no reason to complain: everything was flawless. On this order, however, with this title and one other I ordered with it (The Great Pendragon Campaign), I was not completely satisfied and would hesitate before trying PoD again.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
King Arthur Pendragon: Edition 5.1
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Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between
Publisher: Dragons Hoard Publishing
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/19/2013 19:08:46
One of the many things I have found people to appreciate about Dungeon Crawl Classics is the flow and mood of the writing. I feel any product which intends to serve as support material for this clever and inspiring game needs to match that tone and style, and take things forward into new territory. Angels, Demons, and Beings Between manages this feat. Expanding on the small range of patrons provided in the core rules, this supplement from Dragons Hoard Publishing offers 13 intriguing, appropriate, and impressively diverse patrons to weave into your setting for the good or ill of the characters who adventure within it.

The fully bookmarked and indexed pdf is easy to read, in a look and tone which could be slipped seamlessly into the core rules. The patron descriptions cover all the primary points, and entice the Judge to learn or create more about each as the inevitable story ideas are sparked with each turn of the page. The editing is well above par, and the writing itself leads you through the book for shear enjoyment of reading - even though it is not a tale, but a folio of friends and fiends from beyond.

More than just an expansion of possible patrons for DCC games, this product's exploration of the idea of patrons through its implementation of the basic template in such a broad palette of beings is inspiring and thought provoking - well worth the price of admission.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between
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PD One: Federation Sourcebook 1994
Publisher: Amarillo Design Bureau
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/11/2012 17:29:14
Readability Note: For those concerned about readability, the file was updated on December 12, but no significant readability problems were evident in the original. the file was and continues to be readable. This is a pdf made from scanned images, but the scan is as clean as you would expect based on the style, font, and age of the printed source. There are no bookmarks, however.

The Federation Sourcebook (1994) was a useful expansion to Prime Directive, fleshing out a lot of things which players asked about when the game first launched. It added new character types (Commando, Combat Engineer), expands the material on Vulcan psionics, and adds rules and background for non-Vulcan psionics. In addition to offering a great deal of knowledge concerning the Federation and its member races, the expanded rules options and play aids, such as hit location, alternate/advanced initiative, and the ship recognition section increased the speed and ease of play while providing many more hooks and background ideas for players to incorporate into characters.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
PD One: Federation Sourcebook 1994
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Broken Rooms
Publisher: Greymalkin Designs
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/02/2012 02:11:56
First Impressions

With a stark Black&White cover, the game hits you right away with the atmosphere the setting and fiction within provide. As with their previous product, Desolation, the core book is large (465 pages) and packed with easily readable and highly descriptive content which simultaneously provides every confidence that this universe is fully realized by its creators, yet open to the directions the broad interpretations of those who come to it will take it. There is lots of room to get creative within the boundaries and worlds of the game.

Character and Story Options

This is a game of one world, strangely sundered into many different variations of itself, yet all still linked in particular places and times in physical space. Characters in Broken Rooms are ordinary folk, yet each is empowered to act with abilities referred to in the game as Meridians. There are a lot of game concepts to take in at first, Distance, Depth, Momentum, Meridians, Nearside, and so on, but with the evocative and memorable names of each this is not so much of a burden as you might think. With widely varied motivations and thirteen iterations of the world to journey through, options are intriguing. A quick visit to the website (www.brokenrooms.com) will give a solid overview of the game concepts, give access to some of the fantastic fiction presented to transmit a feel for the setting, and allow a look into the system which powers the game; the Momentum System. Conspiracies, armies, tragic fates, personal agendas, willing and unwilling accomplices, loss and hope all provide a framework within which your group can begin telling tales of their own in any number of different directions.

The System

Attempts have been made to present a quick-running and streamlined system, but unlike Ubiquity which Greymalkin licensed for Desolation, this system obeys some of the usual speed limits. Points in its favour are a single initiative phase per combat, strict limitations on dodging gunfire (not Pulp!), set damage ratings in combat to which additional successes may be added, and the concept of Activating successes for Meridians (kewl powerz) using Momentum Points generated in play, which introduces a handy limitation on what sort of reality bending effects are possible versus what levels of effect tend to happen, while enabling the player to have a lot of say in that level each time they use an ability.

Momentum is a dice pool system where pools are drawn according to Attribute ratings and modified by gear and situational modifiers, etc. Like many systems, it provides opportunities for critical success and failure. Difficulties are set by the amount of training a character has in a relevent skill, and quality of success is determined by the number of dice from the pool that show that Target number or higher. Players familiar with success-based die-pool systems will be able to pick up Momentum quite easily. For those used to Roll vs Target Number systems, the clear instructions and excellent example of play (a strength I have noted in this company before) will make short work of your unfamiliarity.

Incidentally, the game appropriately uses the formerly neglected orphans of the dice world, the D12. In Broken Rooms this choice is related more with theme than anything else I suspect: the only thing more appropriate would be a D13.

Initial Conclusions (no playtest)

This game should work well with groups who enjoy getting both into character and into clear-cut setting elements, such as using jargon and making use of the setting fiction for their portrayal of characters. The game should play reasonably quickly with a minimum of issues beyond learning to accurately set difficulties for actions, and management of pools of Momentum points.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Broken Rooms
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Colony: Moon
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/04/2012 20:09:41
Like the author, I grew up with a sense of wonder and anticipation regarding space travel. As our generation has in a sense 'lost the moon' I find the concept of Colony Moon to be compelling. Those motivations aside, the game itself is quite simply fun.

The rules are easy to read and follow, so even a cursory amount of preparation will allow you to host a game without too much worry. The basic interactions of the game are interesting on their own, but adding in characterization and roleplay magnifies this significantly.

The game is ideal for those who love games like Civilization/Alpha Centauri or Outpost but have always wanted more from the diplomatic and political side of things.

I got the game for personal enjoyment, but after reading and testing it, feel it will be useful and enjoyable in an educational setting as well.

This game is well worth a look.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Colony: Moon
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No Loyal Knight
Publisher: John Wick Presents
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/04/2012 04:05:26
Those familiar with the writing of John Wick will know that once they start reading No Loyal Knight that two things will happen. The first will be that Wick's voice, this time adopting the hard-bitten tones of world-weary, spell-slinging PI Jefferson Carter, will slip deep inside your head, take a hit of your best whiskey without so much as a by-your-leave, and tell you tales of honor, revenge, and the sick, life-altering weight of regret that won't let you rest. The second thing...?

The second thing is that you will know you will read it again. Soon.

No Loyal Knight is a set of hard-boiled detective cases with a strong evocation of mood and motive, with as much left clear yet unsaid as ballsy and laid bare. Each tale moves along like a freight train on a downhill grade. In the magical world of Jefferson Carter, noir has never been quite so dark - nor quite so grimly amused.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
No Loyal Knight
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'45 - Psychobilly Retropocalypse
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/27/2011 04:02:25
This is a very clever and well-illustrated niche product that will have fans of old B-Movies and/or psychobilly music nodding and singing along with real enjoyment. Not only does the game make a good read, it also gets your mind churning out idea after idea as you process how you would actually use this with your group.

Anyone who has seen 6-String Samurai will slaughter any number of mutated wastelands dwellers to get into a game of Psychobilly Retropocalypse~

Things to Like:
+Good layout
+Evocative Art
+Great balance of humour with the demands of a playable game
+Simple and effective system
+Great writing

Things of which to be wary:
-If you can't get anyone to listen to your Quakes, Brutally Frank, or Gutter Demons collections - chances are you don't know anyone who will play this game with you
-Limited support

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
'45 - Psychobilly Retropocalypse
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All for One: Régime Diabolique
Publisher: Triple Ace Games
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/26/2011 20:12:42
All for One: Regime Diabolique is one of those rare games that comes along where the setting, the system, and the vision of the developer all work together to create an exceptional product.

Things to like:
+Very evocative presentation of the concept and setting
+Superlative system (Ubiquity) leading to fast, carefree game play
+High rate of support in the form of both expansions and scenarios at reasonable prices
+Very clean magic system
+Well-developed emphasis on schools of fence
+Great art
+the pdf toggles between web and printer friendly

Things of which to be wary: (Not much)
-May require some work getting those who know nothing about the works of Dumas or Howard into the intent and atmosphere of the setting
-The freedom and flexibility of Ubiquity may give those used to more rigid systems a steeper learning curve.
-limited examples of spell-design are clear and useful, but less-so for absolute novices
-no example of play (although excellent advice and responsiveness can be found on the Triple Ace forum)

This is a game to love!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
All for One: Régime Diabolique
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