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Shadowrun: Another Rainy Night
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2012 04:11:00
If this is the quality of product we can expect this year from Catalyst, then 2012 is Shadowruns' year (as it should be). The last month has seen a wide array of titles released (all with a different focus) for the line, and this is the first novel/game tie-in I've read for SR20.

The design is very simple. You recvieve a fifteen page novel, with appendices covering the stats of the main characters, NPCs, equipment, spells and vehicles. If you want to incorporate the material into your game it couldn't be easier. The story is well-written, actually better than some of the older SR novels published by FASA and leaves the story on a cliff-hanger. To be honest, I'd love to see this developed out to a full-length novel. I shan't spoil the plot for readers beyond mentioning that it is a good treatment of vampires in Shadowrun and gives a great 'jumping off' point for a campaign (although I did like that the author managed a Lord of the Rings reference in a vampire novel).

The only low point was the character art - it is a type of quasi-photography which I found incredibly unappealing. The rest of the art was the same quality as the SR4 core book; which I've found quite pleasing.

The title is perfectly priced, and I'd have no problem in recommending to any Shadowrun fan, player or Gamesmaster alike.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Another Rainy Night
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The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. VI - Autochthonia
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2012 23:59:07
Exalted has a reputation for being able to deliver fantastic locations and civilisations, but none can hold a candle to Autochthonia. This enormous Realm cast in brass and shadow is nothing less than the clockwork body of a god with an expanse large enough for eight nations. The description throughout the whole book lends itself to a dangerous, over-industrialised semi-lit place of constant noise, smoke, steam and claustrophobia.

It is easy to imagine how this place will stand a firm place in a gamers’ memory. Added to this is the descriptive of the highly ordered, structured and caste-based civilisation which is a commonality to all of the eight kingdoms (with some differences, as I’ll discuss later). The reader is given a great sense of how organised and efficient their society is, and this structure is the lens through which all threats to the already dying Realm must be viewed. On the surface the Voidbringers, as the greatest threat are named, seem to be innocuous – until you realise the enormity of their heresy. The book does challenge our ingrained individualistic mindset and invites us to wear another psyche and skin for a while – which is exactly what I want to do in an RPG. From this point of view the book is a massive success in my mind.

The interesting point about the societal baseline which is established in the opening chapters is that subsequent descriptions found in the eight kingdoms show how each locale takes the baseline and applies it in a slightly different manner. In this way, the reader is shown true diversity, but one grounded in a single cultural experience. My hat is off to the writers who managed to achieve such a clever feat. I came out feeling that it is not just the geography and architecture which differs in each kingdom (check out Ixut for the best example by far), but the differences in belief, social interaction, work, values and law. This made it a pleasure to read, and entices me to set my next Exalted game here.

The penultimate chapter gives the Storyteller yet more tools to set this apart from the rest of Creation in terms of environmental hazards which make the journey through Autochthonia a memorable (albeit potentially lethal) experience. The last chapter acts as a default monster manual and again there is rich flavour to be had here (and I was glad to Ixut given some special consideration here too).

I haven’t read the Autochthonians sourcebook before this, but I am hoping that it will be a fine companion volume. Even without this knowledge though, I found no concept in the book difficult to grasp. Admittedly, setting a chronicle here would require the character creation and Charm rules in the aforementioned book – but the thematic and descriptive elements of this book will make the storytelling much easier. Also, I am glad to see this released as a single title – I originally read it in tis’ serialised version and it did not have the same impact as the full book did. In any case, this should be a ‘must-have’ on the shelf (virtual or otherwise) for all Exalted Storytellers.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. VI - Autochthonia
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Shadowrun: Harlequin's Back
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2012 17:11:45
The original ‘Harlequin’ was a fine module, so it was an ambitious undertaking to offer ‘Harlequin’s Back’ and expect similar results. However, after re-reading this, I’m sure that the sequel stands up just as well as the first iteration, almost twenty years after its’ release. It is also worth noting that Shadowrun books from this era are becoming increasingly difficult to locate in good condition, so hats off to Catalyst for allowing the fans access to PDF copies of the older editions.

‘Harlequin’ was written in a modular format so that it could be play around your existing campaign – but ‘Harlequin’s Back’ is designed to be played one module after the other. Make no mistake, this is an extremely dense campaign that will offer a lot of gaming time. The format is five interlocking modules, each penned by a different author (Carl Sargent and Nigel Findley each write a chapter, much to my pleasure) which form a single unified story. The modules need to be played in order to make the most sense.

Where the developers have truly excelled is in making each module stand alone in terms of the feel, mood and theme. Players will find themselves embroiled in a Post-apocalyptic sci-fi, a Western, a Fantasy and a story with abstract philosophy before the end of the journey. There is a great blend of play experiences, but this does stand apart from the usual Shadowrun fare due to the philosophical and metaphorical elements woven into the plot. The authors have done an excellent job of conveying a sense of gravity to the plot, enabled by the imagery and the choices offered during each story. There is ample opportunity for most of the archetypes to shine, but there are some caveats which are openly discussed at the beginning of the book.

In terms of Gamesmaster support, it follows the format Shadowrun fans will recognise and is liberally sprinkled with advice throughout. I’d definitely not recommend this to a group or GM new to the setting, but rather for those with a decent amount of experience. As the style of module, and links to a grander metaplot are quite different, I don’t feel that it would be a great entry point to Shadowrun. Likewise, the group does not need to have played through ‘Harlequin’ beforehand, and there are notes for the GM to adapt the play experience if this is the case.

This deserves, quite rightly, to be seen as one of the best Shadowrun books produced by FASA. I’d highly recommend buying ‘Harlequin’ as well (which is also available in PDF) and reading the two back-to-back (as I did). I you play, or run Shadowrun, these two modules need to be part of your play experience at some point.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Harlequin's Back
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Queensguard
Publisher: Chaosium
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/19/2012 23:35:43
If you are looking for either a diversion from your regular Cthuhlu chronicle, or interested in a small, self-contain campaign, then Queensguard is the right title for you. Queensguard takes place in an alternate America, one in which the British Monarchy, having lost Europe has transferred the seat of power to Manhattan. Around them are a swirl of Norse raiders, the war with the Central Asian Empire rages and there appears to be dissent and madness even in those meant to be the closest advisors to the Crown.
The two new societies introduced are the Philosophers and the Queensguard. The first are a scholarly order, responsible for many of the steampunk themed inventions of this age, from airships and electric carriages to augmented goggles and alchemical fire. The second are the Queen’s personal guard who are a blend of bodyguard, elite military unit and national police force. Both orders are given enough treatment to make characters drawn from either to be playable and interesting.

The overview of the Kingdom of America, character creation, new magic and descriptions of the orders take in only twenty-seven pages and it is an incredibly compact, yet satisfying section. The remainder of the book (fifty-five pages) is given to a two-part module-style story. The running time asks for around four hours per module (for eight hours total), but I’d be keen to see this tested as I believe that it would be easy to drawn this out to double the length with imaginative players. In either case, it offers a good length of play experience and an interesting (albeit sparsely developed) campaign setting. If you did intend to pursue a longer-running story arc, the Keeper would need to invest some time to further develop the setting.

My main criticism was that the elements I’d associate with steampunk weren’t immediately apparent in the book. To me it felt like a blend of 19th century technology with magic, but lacked the same feel I get from Deadlands, or Iron Kingdoms. It almost seemed as though the word was used to give the product a genre and nothing else. That said, a Keeper familiar with the genre would be able to narrate the setting as they saw fit and make things a little more industrialised, smoke filled and mechanical – with that touch of magic thrown in for good measure.

The module is well-written and would be an enjoyable experience to run as Keeper, but does require some preparation. There is some solid advice in the ‘Contingency’ sections (in case the players make choices that aren’t explicitly covered) and also notes on scaling to be found in the end of the book.

Queensguard, whilst not living up to my expectation of steampunk Cthuhlu, is still a good read and the module would play enjoyably. I could honestly see this as an alternate Cthuhlu experience that you’d be tempted to revisit (and write your own material for) every now and again – and in that it succeeds admirably as an imaginative RPG title.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Queensguard
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Shadowrun: Safehouses
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/15/2012 19:29:08
We've all had it happen in a Shadowrun game when the stakes are simply too high, the Johnson has lied, we've been double-crossed or simply need to drop out of the line of fire for a while. 'Safehouse' is a great little supplement (at eighteen pages) which gives you new rules for Boltholes and Safehouses which allow runners to customise their home-away-from-home. Narrated by FastJack, the supplement brings back a sense of the quirky and dry humour of the Shadowrun world and is told in tandem with the much younger runner /dev/grrl. The interwoven story is a good backdrop for the explanations given and the segue from descriptive narrative to hard rules is done well.
It gives, as mentioned, new rules for constructing these establishments, but also a good list of 'must-have' gear for the safehouse, new qualities (as per Runners Companion) and some sample safehouses.
Overall, it is quite a lot of information given the brevity of the page count. If nothing else, it will give your runners something to plan for and add to the somewhat paranoid edge that should be present on all runs. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Safehouses
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Adventure Seed 1b: To Burn a Witch
Publisher: Final Redoubt Press
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/08/2012 18:54:16
If 'To Burn a Witch' is an indication of the general level of FRP's work, then they should be charging for this (and I'd gladly pay). The Adventure Seed is a an incredibly versatile and practical addition to a GM's virtual bookshelf. The writing is strong (and has a wry sense of humur) and the reader is left with a sense that there is no wasted space in the product (which weighs in at 13 pages). The underlying rationale for the product is a system-agnostic stats-less module which can provide an entire adventure. Whilst it does fit into the broader 'Moving Shadows' campaign, it can easily be played as a stand-alone experience.

Each segment is well-presented and I quite enjoyed the 'Dramatic Purpose' sidebars with each step of the module. The work as advertised - explicitly stating the purpose of each scene and what a GM should try to achieve with it. I feel that this is of use to novice and veteran GMS alike. The actual story of the module could be played out in a night or two and balances roleplaying and combat and has plenty of opportunities for the GM to personalise the experience. There is an unexpected twist which can be can be a source of great drama if foreshadowed well enough. Beyond that, I can't give too many other details without ruining the adventure.

I'd highly recommend this title, and if it is indicative of the general quality fo the Adventure Seed line, then I'd be keen to try them too.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Seed 1b: To Burn a Witch
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Free Free Oriental Weapons Pack
Publisher: Action Games
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/08/2012 17:22:48
I don't know an awful lot about martial arts, so I can't attest to any level of accuracy in this product (but my argument has always been - do we necessarily want historical accuracy in a fantasy game?). However, it is a very useful additioonal document for any game using the D&D 3.5 rules. It is seven pages long (one page of which is the OGL) and it covers in some detail a range of shuriken and war fans, with combat rules for the variant weapons, their uses outside of combat and a few feats linked to the weapons.
Overall, it's good advertising for Action Games as it shows (for free) the types of work they can produce. I'd love to see this expanded out into a fulsome sourcebook (maybe only 30-50 pages) with a broad array of Oriental Weapons, feats and storytelling hints.
I'd highly recommend downloading this if you have even a passing interest in adding this type of weaponry to your campaign.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Free Free Oriental Weapons Pack
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Shadowrun: Mission: 04-06: Hard Target
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/07/2012 23:55:54
I've been a great supporter of the current season of Shadowrun Missions to date, but 'Hard Target' was a mixed bag for me. As any GM does, I read a module asking myself 'what would my players do?' and subconsiously tweaking the adventure well before I've even slotted a time to play it. 'Hard Target' threw a lot of hard questions at me from the outset.
Don't misinterpret what I'm saying though; the scenes are a great mix of investigative work, roleplaying and outright violence (which is what Shadowrun is all about in my mind). The NPCs are a great mix, inlcuding one contact who is a novel inclusion. There is enough difference in each NPC to really portray them as unique identities, and there are few stereotypes. The end game has the potential to play out like any good action film, and a GM should find it easy to build the tension in the lead up to this scene.

It is the initial sell of the 'run that I have a problem with. The 'run itself is interesting enough to hook almost any group, but isn't presented in a fashion that will leave runners feeling as though it is a genuine job. If you summarise the offer, it doesn't seem to stand up to too much scrutiny and the Johnson seems insufficiently informed. I wouldn't blame a group for thinking it was a set-up and walking away - my group probably would. If you can tweak this section and make it more believable, then you have an exicting run which is distinctly Shadowrun.

The lower stars are for the rework I'd need to do on the hook, but once you fix that, you've got a quality module.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Mission: 04-06: Hard Target
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Strange, Dead Love
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/07/2012 23:42:06
'Strange, Dead Love' was a product about which I had deeply mixed feelings. On one hand, the whole paranormal romance genre is one whihc I simply can't stand; at least in the over-commercialised, over-published mainstream sense. On the other, the concept of love, and the storytelling opportunities it offers has always had a place at my table. Whilst this is written for vampire: the Requiem, the principles in here could be easily adapted to any game. The last section alone is worth the cover price, but I'll come to that.

Three elements are introduced in the first two chapters to blend into the chronicle as one sees fit. The beauty here is that none of the leemtns are absolutely mutually exclusive and are extremely scalable. The first two which go hand-in-hand (no pun intended) are Themes and Props. The Theme is the over-riding feel of the chronicle and it is possible to bring in elements of many of the themeses across a long-running chronicle. Each Theme presents love in a different perspective, and if communicated to players effectively, allows for the shaping of characters which either align (or more interestingly, reject) that perspective. Even though I had used themes like 'Redemption', 'The One' and 'Against all odds' in other chronicles, there was still something fresh in those entries that has given me new ways of approaching this subject matter. The Props support the executiuon of the story, and range from an examination of the Traditions to physical locations (such as the ubiquitous nightclub). Whilst a lot of these ideas are not new, they are presented with great clarity and they have enough substance to spark the imagination. What I did notice in this section was that each individual Theme or Prop spoke with a distinct voice; I'm not sure if the three authors were allocated different sections but this change of pace made this chapter extremely readable.
On that note, the quality of writing throughout the whole book was very good. It was clear that all of the authors had a great grasp of the genre and were able to distill the very essence (and then twist it to suit the World of Darkness). I didn't feel that the serialised fiction added anything to the product overall, but the rest of the writing was excellent.
The second chapter presents Shards, which are somewhat fleshed-out chronicle starters. There is still some major work to be done to bring these to life, but (as I noted with other products like 'Glimpses of the Unknown') these are well worth reading. The initial spark, basic NPCs and plot are sketched out for the Storyteller and all you would need to add is localised flavour and expand the scenes into a playable format. Normally in these sections I can find some dead wood; but was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the Shards were usable and engaging.

The last chapter is one on Storytelling Advice. It is acknowledged in the opening paragraph that pages have been written on the subject of storytelling already; but I felt that this product deserved some specialised attention. Given the genre, there needs to be a very particular approach to story and character development, a strong buy-in from both the Storyteller and all players and what this chapter calls 'Social Contracts'. I think that any group who approaches this chapter with the intent of an open dialogue between ST and players (if you don't have this already) will find their game stronger for it. Overall, I'd recommend this chapter for anyone wanting to run any game with a romantic theme - not just WoD.

Overall, I think this is an excellent product, supported by a realistic page count, and solid writing. It can be easily read in one sitting, but you will find yourself (as I did) drawn back to re-read sections and ponder how they'll fit into your chronicle.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Strange, Dead Love
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Nightmare on Hill Manor
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2011 22:38:35
Even if you're not overly interested in the Mortals style of game that this presents, it is well worth getting to become familiar with the rules set for the new World of Darkness. The first thirty pages are dedicated to an overview of the systems, including full write-ups of skills, Virtues and Vices and every rule you'll need to run the module. It also comes with four pre-generated characters. The pre-gens are interesting as a lot of thought went into the backstory for each and there are some very solid emotional triggers for a Storyteller to incorporate into the adventure.

The premise is very simple - a group of mortals investigate something in their apartment building which turns out to be spooky. The author clearly defines the difference between horror and terror from the outset and gives reasons and examples for the use of each. It is a nice touch and the advice here is easily transferable to any other RPG in the genre.

Whilst the actual play of the module can come off as a little dungeon crawl-ish in its execution, the location does lend itself well to the slow transition from the real to the unreal (or familiar to unfamiliar). The story could easily be grasped by a brand new group (I'd argue even those who have never role-played before) and probably would offer a single nights' play. Beyond launching a Hunters game though, I can't see how it could really fit into the mould of chronicle-starter. However, you could tweak the module if you had a particular flavour of nWoD you wanted it to be the catalyst for.

A good introduction to the system, decent characters and a storyline which a first-time ST could fathom after a couple of readings. In all a recipe for a good product.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Nightmare on Hill Manor
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L5R- Game Master's Screen and Adventure
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2011 20:48:43
Firstly, the GM Screen is marvellous. The exterior artwork is just beautiful and really aids the GM in setting the mood and flavour of the game. There is plenty of inspiration just from these images. The data on the screen is highly relevant and usable, especially having the Honour table at a glance. Overall, it is a well-designed product that any GM would find useful.

On to the adventure, then. 'Descent into Darkness' weighs in at 20 pages, with 13 of those devoted to the module and the others for NPCs and the map. It supports its claims to be a 'plug-and-play', region non-specific module very well and the designers have done a good job of leaving enough blank areas for the GM to fill and customise it for their own campaign. IT is even open-ended enough that it could be used as the introduction to a much longer campaign arc.

After reading through the whole module, all I can say is 'wow'. This is an especially dark piece of work (for L5R) which is justifiable given the nature of the conundrum placed at the feet of the PCs. There is a huge emphasis on thinking before acting, socialising and investigation to uncover the true activity behind the module. When the PCs do figure it out, they are left with a horrifying choice. This should lead to a lot of really good roleplaying scenes and characters doing some soul-searching before they can reach a sense of closure.

The module is well laid-out, and there are scaling tips in some encounters to give some advice on not only making the encounters more challenging, but also dealing with evoking the adventure (the one entitled 'Not dark enough?' has some great tips).

I think that this could well be more than a night's play to complete, depending on how much characterisation and investigation the players want to undertake. In preparation, I would warn any GM to have a contingency plan (and this is dealt with in the module too) as there are some open scenes which can potentially change the entire gameplay. Whilst this is distinct possibility, it only detracts in a small way from the product.

I'm really looking forward to putting my group of players through this. As they are interested in L5R, but have a strong background in White Wolf games, this will be a perfect hook to get them into a campaign.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
L5R- Game Master's Screen and Adventure
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Shadowrun: Gamemaster Screen: SR4A
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2011 19:46:42
You've really nothing to lose with this screen (it is free after all). That said, I would have gladly paid for this as the information in this format is extremely useful. The usual suspects such as combat modifiers are included, but I've found it most useful for the different Action tables and also the Signal Rating Table. The only missing link for me would have been a quick 'Top Ten' weapons to include on a chart so that you have something to quickly refer to for 'off-the-cuff' combat encounters, but these don't take long to quickly look up.

For best results, I'd recommend a high-quality printer (or print it at your local copy shop) and I just paperclip mine to one of my other GM screens for usability.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gamemaster Screen: SR4A
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Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronos
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2011 23:16:21
I had the opportunity to review 'Rites of Battle' recently and concluded that no 'Deathwatch' GM could run the game without it. Given the focus of 'Rogue Trader', I feel exactly the same way about this book. Chock-full of information which simply would not have fit in the main rulebook (a hefty tome in itself), this definitely required a separate supplement.

Perhaps the authors wanted to start with a bang, as it jumps straight into a vast array of new weapons which are simply devastating. Torpedoes are given a full treatment, followed by attack craft, then the impressive Nova Cannon and rounding off the chapter with a selection of new starship hulls. Each hull comes with an illustration in the best 40K style - aficionados of the wargame will not be disappointed. In fact, with 11 pages dedicated to new starships, the players and GM alike will not lack for choice. Having played a number of sci-fi RPGs, I can say that I'm always on the lookout for new vehicles, and this sentiment is obviously shared by the games' designers.

Chapter 2 gives an interesting overview of the form and function of the Imperial Navy and provides a range of interesting nuggets of information which can be seamlessly woven into your campaign. Chapter 4 likewise gives a host of new information for the game in terms of space warfare from squadrons to scaling space battles and is well worth the read.

Chapter 3 was actually the first one I read in the book. As a GM for 'Dark Heresy' and 'Deathwatch' I'm on immediate lookout for anything Xenos, and this chapter, whilst designed for 'Rogue Trader' is eminently useful for the other game lines too. Herein you'll find Orks and Eldar (among others) with new weapons, information and of course ships. In my opinion, the most useful 30 pages in the book, although I shan't disparage the quality of the other chapters.

The book has internal links which I have come to expect from FFG e-publications and this improves navigation immensely, especially as I see this primarily as a reference book. As I mentioned before, the artwork is wonderfully faithful to the wargame and the layout logical and readable.

I can't honestly see how one runs 'Rogue Trader' without a copy of this book and 'Into the Storm' as they form a core trilogy of purchases for any newcomer to the game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronos
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Prince of Darkness
Publisher: Serpent King Games
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2011 21:46:48
The beauty of this product is in how well it dovetails with the other Dragon Warriors mini-campaigns ('Elven Crystals' & 'Sleeping Gods'), but also that it is solid enough to stand alone if required.

The sidebars throughout the first section on the city of Glissom are a great addition and highly entertaining (especially the one on games played at one of the local tavern) and have been designed to give the GM a bit of insight into how the average day in the city could be played out. There are plenty of cultural quirks to make life interesting (for example, the section on the law should give rise to all sorts of roleplaying opportunities in this city), whilst there are also lots of memorable locations. For the latter, I'd highly recommend the very short section entitled 'Into the wild.'
Next, we are treated to a range of one paragraph adventure hooks linked to the locations discussed previously. There is a good mix of ideas, but really these are only very small sparks for the imagination. In true 'hook' style, you'll need to put a lot of work in if you want to construct an adventure around them. The overall quality is good, with a mixture of seemingly mundane and overtly arcane ideas, so a GM will be able to find an idea that will appeal to their party.

The adventure provides a good mix of challenges and there are definitely some old-school flavoured encounters sprinkled throughout, such as the Inn, the Siren Wood and the City of Mimir. However, there is a clever, consistent design to most of them, which adds to the story and the goals of the NPCs. In fact, the entire section in the Woods could be lifted and placed into any campaign world for a full night of challenge - you'll never look at the terrain, or the inhabitants in the same light again.
The final encounter has a number of surreal elements which give it a strong, mythic feel. Dragon Warriors authors have always been good at this - I often feel that when one relates the tale of one's adventure, the authors have given you the tools and experiences to make your story sound like legend.

On the note of terrain, this was the only part of the book which really needed a bit more work. As the weather was described evocatively, the scenery changing to delineate each scene, and the story hinging on a great thaw - I expected there to be a bit more interplay between the environment and the party. Alas this was not so. Whilst it would have been nice, it takes little effort to include some conditional effects and challenges, so this hasn't influenced my rating too much at all.

As a mid-level adventure (5th - 7th level), the combat encounters are appropriately pitched to give the characters pause, but unless they do something incredibly stupid, I can see consistently hard challenge as opposed to a total party kill. That said, the encounters are easily scalable, and the environment and encounter terrain can always be used to give critters an advantage.

The production values are up to usual Dragon Warriors standards in that they evoke the feeling of old school RPGs in the artwork and cartography - both of which are very pleasing to the eye. The layout of the book aids its usefulness, and all the information you need for an encounter or scene is usually on the same page - a welcome change from some other fantasy RPGs. I'd recommend this adventure book to any GM of fantasy RPGs, not just Dragon Warriors.

A top-notch product, and Serpent King should be applauded for keeping this classic game in print.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prince of Darkness
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Deadlands Reloaded: For Whom the Whistle Blows
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2011 03:30:40
This is a fine example of genre-blending that has been the hallmark of the entire Deadlands game line. There are a number of iconic Western elements here from bandits to steam trains and frontier towns but all with a healthy (or not so healthy for the characters) dose of the supernatural.

The backstory for this module gives the entire product a great sense of consistency. The premise for the game is that the posse is hired onto a steam train for a simple job, but there are greater machinations at play here. Whilst the story elements and the ideas are quite straightforward, I found them novel and engaging. I'd firmly believe that players would react in the same way once they figure out the story.

As such, it is very difficult to give too much detail without some major spoilers. That said, the writing is of a high quality, the scenes compact and easy to run and there is scope to have this run over two or three sessions. I would recommend this for any group with a few games under their belt as this does require a bit of knowledge about the game world to grasp fully.

The only criticism is about the train diagrams. There is a note in the text indicating that the Marshall can visit the Pinnacle website and download the maps of the train scaled for miniatures. I really don't see why they couldn't have been included in the product and saved the Marshall the extra step to acquire them.

Overall, this is easily of the same standard I fondly recall from the older Dime Novels and should give a few sessions of enjoyable play.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: For Whom the Whistle Blows
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