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Eclipse Phase: Zone Stalkers
Publisher: Posthuman Studios LLC
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 11:44:48
If you are of a mind to put the party in danger, how about suggesting a stroll across one of the deadliest regions of Mars, the TITAN Quarantine Zone?

Beginning with an explanation of what the Zone is and how it came to be, there are details of the terrain and major features as well as of the measures taken to ensure that the curious stay well out of it. This is intermingled with suggestions as to how these measures might be counteracted, although it will be up to you how you choose to pass on any ideas to your players if they are struggling to come up with their own - this is a book decidedly for the GM!

The hazards of the TQZ are extreme, even without the Patrol ready to pounce on intruders. Extensive jamming of all communication links render not just keeping in touch (or yelling for help) but navigation difficult. The terrain is rugged in the extreme, and prone to dust storms. All sorts of malevolent critters live there and even the artefacts that are the usual reason for anyone wanting to go there are dangerous if improperly handled (in many cases, if handled at all). A random encounter table and full notes on what you might encounter are provided to liven things up a bit.

Various locations are described, as are some of the TITAN artefacts that remain to be found - including quite an array of different drugs and addictive substances. Finally, there's a collection of plot hooks to get the party's interest in an expedition whetted enough for you to get to use all of this on them.

If you like adventures in which the environment is as much an enemy as the monsters, this is one to consider.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eclipse Phase: Zone Stalkers
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Underworld Races: Ahool
Publisher: AAW Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/28/2014 12:15:30
In a few pages great sweeps of cosmology and background myth are presented, the current understanding of what is going on in the underworld of the Aventyr campaign setting, rewriting concepts of plate tectonics and establishing how the various subterranean races came to be in four massive events driven by the very gods themselves. There are many different races, and a summary chart is presented showing their ages, heights and weights... but the real focus is on the Ahool.

The Ahool are the primeval beastmen of the endless caves of the underworld. Here we learn of their history, background and society, along with physical descriptions and the details necessary to create Ahool characters to play or as NPCs. There are racial archetypes (aquatic and terrestial forms) and new equipment and feats for them. Naturally they have their own magical items and spells available to them.

In appearance they are a bit like humanoid bats, although they do not fly nearly as well. They do have a vicious bite, however, and live on blood... giving rise to some obvious if erroneous comparisons. A racial class and a prestige class are provided, ahool can also take a regular character class if preferred.

The explanation of how the underworld races came to be is fascinating, and the ahool themselves a novel race to introduce into subterranean realms.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Ahool
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Deities and Demigods (3e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/27/2014 13:31:34
The Third Edition Deities and Demigods is a bit different from earlier versions which tended towards being a 'monster manual' for gods. Here there is much more discussion about how to involve deities in the day-to-day life of the campaign world, even the lives of the characters in your party themselves, ways to make the gods of your world as much - if not more - a part of it that the various gods worshipped in the real world are a part of everyday life, even for those who don't happen to believe in them.

Relgion in a game is always a tricky proposition for that very reason. Players who believe in real-world deities can get a bit twitchy about imaginary ones, and yet do not want to see the gods they revere trivialised by making an in-game appearance. Hence the need for game developers to devise pantheons of their own for their campaign worlds.

The first chapter looks at how to use deities in your game. Monotheism is rare, and most game worlds presuppose a pantheon of deities with each god taking responsibility for certain aspects. Believers tend to hold all the gods of the pantheon in reverence, but may choose one in particular as their main focus of worship. Others will pick to whom they'll pray depending on what they are wanting to pray about, and would not claim to worship a particular god at all. Others dedicate themselves to but a single deity. Of course there's one big difference between your game world and the real one: basically the gods are real and everyone knows this (whether or not they hold them in any reverence or choose to worship any of them), whereas in the real world opinion is divided as to whether or not there are any 'gods' at all (and I write this as a practising Mormon, so please do not take offence!)

The chapter expounds on the differences between a 'tight' pantheon and a 'loose' one. In the tight pantheon, a single religion - with the hierarchy, temples, priesthood, etc., that involves - worships all the deities involved, whereas in a 'loose' one there are faiths focussed on each of the deities in the pantheon. You'll have to decide which style is most appropriate for the way your campaign world operates, how you want your gods to interact with the world and with each other. Other forms of religion including mystery cults, monotheism, animism and dualism are discussed, and by the end of the chapter you ought to have a reasonable overview of what you can do.

Then on to the tricky question of the nature of divinity. Are your gods just super-powerful entities or is there something more about them? Are there limits to their powers or to their knowledge? Is divinity innate to certain beings or can it be earned or conferred upon someone deemed worthy of achieving it? In deciding the answers - and there are no right or wrong ones - to these questions you will start to form an idea of the underpinning nature of the universe in which your game will be played out. You'll find the odd side note about the core D&D pantheon - the one described in the core rulebooks - as you go, but the main thrust of this section is twofold - firstly to help you understand what gods are and secondly to put you in a position to design your own or modify the core ones to suit your vision for your campaign world. There's masses more here but one question stands out: How involved are the deities in what is going on in the world? That's one of the most important choices you'll have to make.

Next is Chapter 2: Deities Defined, which deals with the game mechanics that will make what you have determined is there in your world on a philosphical level actually work within the context of the game. This is of particular import if you have decided that deities take an active hands-on approach to worldly affairs, but even if they won't an understanding of how they function in game mechanical terms means that they become a consistent and integral part of the game, part of the fabric just as arcane magic and strange races are because they too are covered by the rules. This chapter is of most use if you have decided to create your own pantheon, but even if you are going with the core gods, or ones from a published setting, reading through will help you understand how they operate within the game itself.

Chapter 3: The D&D Pantheon is for those who have decided to use the core deities provided (but it does provide an exemplar pantheon for those who'd prefer to design their own from scratch). Using the mechanics discussed in the previous chapter, each member of the pantheon is given a 'stat block' that explains what they can do and how they do it... complete, even, with combat statistics should a brawl break out! For each, as this is a 'loose' pantheon, there are also brief notes on the dogma of their faith and about the clergy and temples organised for their worship. They can also use avatars in dealings with ordinary mortals if they do not choose to put in a personal appearance, so you also get the details necessary to run one should the occasion arise. There are some beautiful illustrations here, also representations of divine symbols and even the odd temple plan.

Should you want something different, Chapter 4: The Olympic Pantheon takes the classic Ancient Greek gods and puts a D&D twist on them. This is an example of a 'tight' pantheon served by a single religion, and if you know anything of the original, provides for some very hands-on deities! Whilst this is a fantasy re-tooling of the Greek gods, they are still quite recognisable yet here they are with all the game mechanics you need to make them an integral part of your game. Although this is a 'tight' pantheon, many of the gods have their own shrines and even clergy specifically devoted to them, yet a single overarching belief joins them all.

In like vein, Chapter 5 presents the Pharaonic Pantheon, the gods of the Ancient Egyptians. This is a very 'tight' pantheon with a unitary body of priests serving all the gods. Rituals and beliefs surrounding death and what comes after are very important to this faith. This is followed by Chapter 6: The Asgardian Pantheon, which provides the same service for the Norse gods.

Finally, Chapter 7: Other Religions looks at a whole bunch of different faiths such as sun worship, a dualist faith based on light and dark, and the mystery cult of Dennari, all designed according to the principles and rules discussed in the first two chapters.

There are two appendices. The first is concerned with domains and spells, and is helpful in deciding what to make available to divine spellcasters based on the deities they follow within your game, and includes some neat new spells. The second looks at divine ascension... should you choose to make this option available to characters who survive to 20th level and are perhaps beginning to reach power levels sufficient to challenge existing deities. It will take careful planning, especially if you do not intend it to be the final climax of the entire game - it is likely to end a campaign arc at the very least. There are, however, notes on running adventures after ascension has taken place.

One option that's not really discussed - but which I've found works quite well - is to have different pantheons operating in different parts of your campaign world. Travellers can have fun learning about the beliefs of the place they are visiting (or at least, you as DM can have fun watching them!) and it can provoke some interesting discussions, particularly if your clerical characters enjoy debating their faith!

If you want to make religion a central part of any game, and of course especially if you are running D&D 3.X, this is well worth reading.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deities and Demigods (3e)
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Mindjammer - The Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2014 10:56:45
This book is as massive as the universe it describes, a rich sweep of imagination that carries you off into speculation about what might be, a future history that makes you itch to become a part of it – and, of course, because it’s a role-playing game, you can be!

Chapter 1, the Introduction, paints the broad strokes, describing what the whole book contains and providing a brief glimpse of the scope of the universe that underpins the game. However, if for some reason you don’t want to play in the default setting of the Commonality, you can use the ruleset in whatever science-fiction setting you please.

Then Chapter 2 dives in with the basics, explaining what the game is all about and what you need to play. Using the character sheet as a guide, the explanation moves on to the way in which a character is modelled using the ruleset, starting with aspects – short descriptive phrases that encapsulate the essence of the character – and then the skills and stunts that describe what he can do. Next comes an overview of task resolution and how dice work under this particular variant of the core FATE ruleset, including the all-important Fate Points and how to use them.

Primed with the basics, we move on to Chapter 3: Creating Characters. This begins with the importance of the whole gaming group deciding precisely what sort of game they want to play – no use rushing off to generate characters who will not fit in, after all. The discussion here is based around different types of games you could play in the Commonality of Humankind, but it is adaptable to some other setting if that’s your choice. One important concept is that of ‘issues’ – as in, what will be the key issues that the characters will care about… things they want to protect, or accomplish or which could cause problems or threats that they will have to overcome. These may change as the game proceeds, some being dealt with and new ones arising, but having a general idea of what matters to the party or individual characters is a good idea (and one worth pinching, ah, being inspired to include, whatever game you are planning to play).

The suggestion is made that the best results are achieved from creating the entire party as a group, in an interactive process, rather than people creating their own characters individually or the GM turning up with some pre-made ones. Using a narrative process, character creation can be seen as the first session of the game itself rather than a precursor to play. It all starts with your character concept, the overall idea behind the character that you want to play. This will likely include his genotype, culture and occupation, but it’s a whole lot more. You also need to decide on a ‘trouble’ which is something that persistently causes complications for him. It might be a personal issue or it may be external, people or organisations that are forever causing him problems. These are rounded out a bit as you develop the character’s backstory with the novel addition of a more detailed scene from his recent life, which ideally includes at least some of the other characters in the party.

Only now do you get down to the game mechanical part of character creation, deciding on skills and such like. The next few chapters cover everything in much more detail, laying out the options and explaining how they shape your character and define what he is capable of doing. As you’d imagine, there is a vast range of choices to reflect the diversity found in such a huge universe. Reading through the Cultures, Genotypes and Occupations chapter, for example, provides a good overview of what’s out there as well as telling you what you can play. Everything roils together, each choice that you make about your character has ramifications for him and the universe around him. It makes for an elegantly integrated character creation system that is far removed from the conventional routes of picking from set lists things that are ‘best fit’ to your concept, or starting with the mechanics and only then deciding what your character is actually like and what makes him tick that so many games force upon you.

Due to the pervasive Mindscape, skills are handled differently from most games. Most characters will have Mindscape access and so gaining knowledge and even techniques becomes far easier. The skills that a character has thus become ones of knowing how to use all that information, much broader areas of capability than those found in the skill lists of other games. To enhance them, characters may also have ‘stunts’ which reflect special training or natural abilities that use skills in different ways. Stunts notwithstanding, all skills are used in four main ways: to overcome some kind of obstacle, to create an advantage, to attack or to defend. It’s an interesting and novel way of looking at skills, and extremely flexible when it comes to determining what the character is actually capable of doing… and you can know or do just about anything provided you can come up with a narrative justification for it.

There’s a wealth of enhancements and equipment available. As money is no longer used in the Commonality, access to any item is generally based on desire, but again there are certain things that you’ll need to come up with a narrative justification for having. This may well come from your chosen occupation or other such factors. One thing to note is that virtually every item has ‘intelligence’ – and may have its own skills and stunts as well.

All equipped and ready, we then come to Chapter 9: Playing the Game. This explains, in great detail with plenty of examples, the core rules of the game and how actions are resolved, including the use of ‘Fate Dice.’ Familiar to those who have played another game using the FATE ruleset, everything is explained from scratch here as this is a standalone work containing the full rules pertaining to this particular game. Everything is covered here including the vital areas of combat and movement, as well as other examples of task resolution.

Next is Chapter 10: Gamemastering Mindjammer. As has been demonstrated by the way characters are created, this is a collaborative game and players can have input at a deeper level that is often the case: think of the game master as a chairman rather than a god. Sections look at preparing a game and running it, including vital bits like knowing when to get the dice out and how to make failure as much – if not more – a part of the story than success. It’s all about the story, the shared tale you are all there to enjoy.

Chapter 11: The Mindscape delves deep into what is probably the defining characteristic of the setting: the all-pervasive lattice that is communications medium, data store and so much more. Understanding this is key to understanding the setting – and whilst you can use this ruleset to play in any far future setting, this is a unique and fascinating place and the one these rules were written for in the first place. It’s a bit like having instant access to the entire internet in your own head… only it’s much more than that. The internet is just baby steps compared to the Mindscape.

Next, Chapter 12: Constructs looks at entities like starships and space stations than can be used by the party. They can be sentient beings in their own right – you can even play one if you want – and if so have skills and stunts just like any other character in the game. If you think that being a space station might be a bit restricting do not worry, you can have an avatar to interact with flesh-and-bones characters, as well as of course using the Mindscape to communicate with them. Rules and other materials specifically for constructs are to be found here as well.

This is followed by Chapter 13: Starships and Space Travel. Your game might spend all its time in one place, or at least have all the action at destinations rather than in transit, but part of the essence of a star-faring game is that you do get to see a bit of the universe. This looks at how space travel works and the great variety of vessels that travel there. Next comes Chapter 14: Vehicles and Installations, which covers everything planetside.

The next few chapters look at the fabric of the universe that is the core setting for this game. Everything from organisations to planets, cultures to alien life. It makes for a fascinating read, and ideas spawn for the adventures that could be had in such a rich setting. Yet despite the wealth of information, there is considerable scope for your own imagination to insert things that will be interesting, to stamp your own spin on the setting.

Eventually Chapter 22: Scenarios and Campaigns and Chapter 23: Themes, Genre and Style provide a whole bunch of information to start you off planning your own adventures, adventures that will prove memorable for the whole group. There is masses of stuff here, well worth the reading in general terms of constructive advice for planning games never mind the more directed focus of preparing for this particular game.

The final chapter presents the Darradine Rim, a fully-developed area with plenty of solar systems to visit and adventures to be had in them. A collection of useful forms and ready-reference sheets round off the book.

When I read Mindjammer (the novel) I knew this was a universe I wanted to play in. Now with a game that elegantly reflects it into playable form, I can.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mindjammer - The Roleplaying Game
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Plight of the Tuatha, Vol. 1: Feast Hall of Ash
Publisher: Mór Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/24/2014 09:53:35
The author's introduction sets the scene: this adventure is born of a mature fantasy campaign world which has detailed history and myths, a background that drives the actions and motivations of many of the NPCs and forms the setting in which events take place. Yet it is flexible enough that you can run it anywhere: put it someplace appropriate in your own campaign world if you prefer and use the bits of background that appeal, that fit in with whatever else is going on there or which can be developed as a part of it.

The adventure background sets the scene comprehensively. Initial strokes are broad, detailing the conflicts that have shaped the setting from the earliest times before the dawn of history, how elves retreated yet supported the developing human population which in its turn was invaded by an empire that has fallen prey to internal divisions... that common tale of selfish acts and greed that trample on ordinary people trying to carve out a home and living for themselves, even those in the remote village that is the setting for this adventure. Oh, and all the bloodshed has awakened the evil bloodthirsty deity that caused the elves to retreat in the first place. The one thing is, it is a little difficult to tell how to inform your players of the background as the general sweep of history and bits that directly affect the adventure are swirled together in what makes a stirring story for the GM but one that's not totally for your players' ears - yet, their characters will know of the broad sweep of history that has shaped the world in which they live.

After a brief adventure summary, the details dive straight in to the first of four chapters of action. The opening is in media res... all I'll say here is that the party has been captured and had better make good their escape before...

Throughout the action, there are boxes giving advice to the GM on how to handle issues that will (or might) arise in play, starting off with how to actually run an in media res opening like this, which can annoy players who feel that their hand is being forced. A neat trick, especially with a game so heavily based in its own history, is that notes abound awarding XP for finding out snippets of information about what's going on and why, as well as for the more normal reasons. As many of the snippets are useful in advancing the adventure, provision is made for NPCs to 'conveniently' mention them if the characters don't ask the right questions or fail to make the die rolls indicated - although of course they won't then get the XP rewards, just the details that they need to know.

The characters should be under some time pressure throughout the adventure, as they need to find a healer for someone severely injured and defend the village (which is presumed to be their home or at least somewhere with strong family connections for most of them) against raiders who will be along very soon. Oh, and there are plenty of Fae around causing trouble in their usual inscrutable way... as usual nobody knows what they are really up to but they are sure good at making pests of themselves! The otherworldly nature of the fey is brought across well in the parts of the adventure that involves interacting with them.

The final scene involves the climatic battle to save their village, and this should provide combat enough for anyone who has got restless during earlier parts of the adventure where negotiation and finding stuff out is as important as the strength of your sword arm. Be careful here, some of the game mechanics are not quite according to core Pathfinder rules: you may wish to amend some of the bonuses given to fit the standard ruleset. Despite their low level, the battle is set up so that they will be able to play a meaningful yet realistic role in saving the village.

Appendices contain detailed notes (as well as stat blocks) for important NPCs, explain the rules of a 'Storytelling Game' that the party may be asked to play, and explain other details that will have arisen during the course of the adventure. There are also a description of the village and notes on important items that will have been encountered, and there is a bestiary of new creatures introduced here. For those in a hurry to get started, there are some pre-generated player characters, complete with backgrounds that embed them in the setting. A neat idea is that two major NPCs are provided with 'table tents' - a portait on one side to show the players, and key notes about them on the GM's side.

The whole is beautifully presented and fills one with excitement about the whole campaign world of which this is just a glimpse. It could, however, do with more maps, especially those suitable for showing to the characters. A minor quibble in what promises to be just the first in an exceptional series of adventures in a setting that is true fantasy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Plight of the Tuatha, Vol. 1: Feast Hall of Ash
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Bite Me! Playing Lycanthropes
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/23/2014 11:09:14
This fascinating work is not just a game resource, it is a treatise on what lycanthrophy is all about giving the reader insights into what it means to be a shape-shifter as well as backround into the myths and legends that spawned the concept ready for game designers to latch onto.

After a foreword that looks at the sheer appeal of lycanthropy and a sidebar discussing the word itself, the first section explores the similarities and differences between those born lycanthropes and those who are afflicted with lycanthropy during the course of their adventures. This skilfully mixes game mechanics with more general discussion and proves an entertaining read.

This moves on to the topic of actually playing a lycanthrope, both the rationale and the mechanics of it. Things like how to handle a character who becomes afflicted during the course of a game - start by not panicking (too much) and make sure you talk the issue through with the GM outside of the actual game. A chat with your fellow players might be in order as well, particularly if you intend to play the afflicted character long term. The crux of the matter is that you'll be playing a character who turns into a monster... one you cannot control as a player and one the character himself cannot control either. It's quite a scary challenge when you look at it that way, but an intriguing one full of role-playing potential as well.

Next comes a section on actually playing a lycanthrope by choice. It's likely that the character will be a natural lycanthrope in that case. First of all you'll need to pick your beast, and there's plenty of advice here about how to choose one that fits in some way with the character class and race you are intending to play. Then come details about how to create that character in detail as well as how to play it to good effect.

OK, that's PLAYING a lycanthrope sorted - the next section looks at the view from the other side of the GM's screen. How do you cope if you'd never intended lycanthropy to play a part in your campaign? Don't panic, take a deep breath and read this. Again the discussion looks at afflicted lycanthropes and natural ones separately, discussing in each case how to use them to effect to enhance your campaign, rather than derail it. This advice is excellent (and timely, a character in one of my games has been afflicted and I still have to thrash out some of the details... and full moon is approaching!). All manner of issues are covered from handling the group in the first place to dealing with what the character gets up to when their bestial form takes over and eventually how to arrange for a cure. A really interesting part deals with the ramifications caused by having a werebeast loose in the locality, both during the curse and once it is lifted.

Natural lycanthropes are a bit different. Whereas the afflicted sort are cursed, and should be handled that way, natural ones are, well, no different from any other fantastic species that is found in your campaign. They may shapeshift, but it is under control and they know what they are doing whatever shape they are wearing. The things you'll need to think about are different, but just as wide ranging, things like how the race of natural werebeasts chosen fits in with the rest of society in your campaign world and how you will adjudicate the special abilites inherent in a lycanthrope - like their sense of smell. (I just caught out a character who over-relies on invisibility by setting a snake on her, its abilities to smell and sense vibration enabled it to locate her easily.... and then it botched its rolls!)

For those interested in matters such as game balance and design issues, there is some fascinating discussion about the history of lycanthropy in the D20 system as a whole as well as the decisions made in writing this book.

We then move into more game mechanical territory, with the natural lycanthrope race presented in full detail ready for use. This includes loads of racial traits and other options to allow fine-tuning of a natural lycanthrope character to your particular vision. Lycanthropy as a racial bloodline, racial rules for equipment and weapons and more here. Then come lycanthrope feats, magic items and even a few spells available to natural lycanthropes who take a spell-using class.

Finally, four fully-developed natural lycanthrope characters are presented as examples.

Overall, this is an excellent discussion of lycanthropy and how to use it - as player or GM - in your game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Playing Lycanthropes
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Arcknight Maps: The Bandit Fortress
Publisher: Arcknight
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/23/2014 07:52:53
If you have some bandits - or indeed anyone living in wild country - to accommodate, this extensive set of battlemaps should make them feel right at home.

The components, which can be assembled in a multitude of ways depending on what your needs might be, show sections of walls built of cut wooden poles with timber decking and wooden cabins. Several potential arrangements are shown, mostly variations on the sort of fort that it's easy to throw up in a wilderness setting (provided you have access to the wood). The components include more specialist areas like a great hall and a gateway as well as wall sections and corners. The ground is hard-packed dirt, with some stones and vegetation outside.

Within the buildings, there are sleeping quarters, plenty of barrels, benches, tables and chairs... and even a three-seater privy.

The set includes multipage PDFs (hex, grid or plain) and large JPEGs as well as a collection of suitably-scaled additional items for virtual table top users. All-in-all a versatile and useful map set.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Arcknight Maps: The Bandit Fortress
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Rite Map Pack: Ocean Cave
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2014 10:38:20
Home for some pirates, the temple of a sea-god's cult... or a deserted cavern discovered by shipwrecked sailors or curious explorers - how you use this map is up to you.

It is an inlet surrounded by cliffs, with a small shingle beach and some crafted steps and platforms. Perhaps you can delve into caves, or there may be a path to the clifftop, but neither are evident here.

There is a single sheet that shows the full layout, then a PDF of segments you can print out and stick together to create a battle map with one-inch squares. There are also two JPEGs - one with grid and one without - which can be used with a virtual table top or even tinkered with in a graphics program if you are so inclined.

It is a nicely-drawn and interesting little place, the sort of thing that makes you start turning over ideas for adventures to run there or ways you could use that location in your game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rite Map Pack: Ocean Cave
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Ships of Clement Sector 4: Small Craft
Publisher: Gypsy Knights Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2014 09:21:10
Having that sniny new starship is all very well, but when you arrive on orbit you need something to get planetside, not to mention that it's overkill for an in-system jaunt.

So here is a mammoth collection of all those really useful but often unsung small space-worthy craft all ready for when the party (or NPCs for that matter) might need one. Each vessel comes with background text about what they are used for and what they look like, along with full game stats, sketches and deckplans.

First up are those useful little craft you might find buzzing around a space station or orbital facility - the ubiqitous work pod. These can be used for a multiplicity of tasks from maintenance to courier work, construction and even personnel transfer over short distances.

Then there are a whole bunch of other craft: fighters, launches and ship's boats. There's even an Admiral's Barge for those VIP transfers and visits... and ones set up as boarding craft for even more unwelcome visitations. Some craft are armed, some are modular and can have the 'payload' area reconfigured depending on your needs - troop transport or medical transport or even an in-system research or mining vessel (asteroid archaeology, anyone?).

Interspersed with the small craft details are pieces of atmospheric fiction describing typical uses of some of the vessels described. There's also a small craft design sequence, maintaining the tradition of Traveller 'gearheads' who derive as much pleasure from designing stuff as from playing the game.

If you like your space to be buzzing with all manner of vessels, this is one to add to your bookshelf.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ships of Clement Sector 4: Small Craft
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Armatech Arms Catalog spring 2223 (X-plorers)
Publisher: BD Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2014 08:43:33
There are few things that characters (and their players) like more than going weapons-shopping, and this supplement caters for both of them.

Rather neatly, the product is divided into 2 parts. The first is the 'in game' catalogue that describes the items as if they were real, you can just imagine an eager gunstore clerk enthusing about the benefits of this hand blaster, or why that heavy ray gun is best suited to your needs.

The second section contains all the game statistics and other information that you'll need for each weapon that is introduced into your game. This is more than mere numbers, there are notes on how to use each weapon to best effect and on problems that can arise during use.

The 'in game' effect is highlighted by touches such as a company web address and e-mail on Mars... and I suppose the only thing missing is a few illustrations. Cull them from SF movies or the like if you feel the need.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Armatech Arms Catalog spring 2223 (X-plorers)
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Indestructible Will #1
Publisher: Wunderman Comics
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2014 11:24:41
Well-drawn nicely told tale of a former Federal agent turned vigilante, capturing the feel of the gritty underbelly of city life in a cinematic almost-noir style. It reads like a movie frozen onto paper, even managing cinematic techniques like flashbacks. Definitely one worth watching.

For the role-player: If you like the grittier side of super-hero, an ordinary man with an edge, this may spawn some ideas for your games.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Indestructible Will #1
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to read and review Indestructible Will. Both the creator, Nate Noggle, & I, are glad you enjoyed it.
FT 1 - Creeping Beauties of the Wood
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2014 10:41:53
Sweeping fairy-tale inspired adventure that is a sequel to FT0: Prince Charming, Reanimator, it is hard to remember at times that this is a first-level adventure, there's so much going on and indeed so much at stake. It is recommended that if you have not played the previous adventure that you do so, it will make more sense for the party to get involved in this adventure.

The action begins with the party being summoned by Lord Charming, who wants the nearby forest called the Grimswood rid of evil. Amongst other things, it contains the mausoleums of three of his son's former wives - and the poor Lord is a bit embarassed about this, feeling that he should have held his son in check. The rewards are quite generous, even unto that traditional reward, the hand of a princess. (A real live one, not one of those residing in the mausoleums.)

Loads of background material is provided to keep you on track with who is plotting what, along with a plethora of maps to put in front of your players as the adventure progresses. These include big ones for virtual table top users as well as regular ones. Each encounter comes with a goodly list of options to pick from depending on what the characters decide to do, excellent support when you are planning and running your game.

Many of the encounters are drawn from the grimmer sides of fairy tales, but not everything is hostile... characters will have opportunities for interaction (and information gathering) should they choose to take advantage of them. As well as a forest to explore, there's a goblin market to visit and caverns to delve into, plenty to keep everyone amused. There's plenty of advice on running the encounters and using the elements of this adventure, with particular regard to the 'spirit' of the Dungeon Crawl Classics game. A thoroughly enjoyable adventure to weave into your campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 1 - Creeping Beauties of the Wood
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Scroll Generator
Publisher: Ennead Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/19/2014 06:13:37
If you want to go beyond merely telling your players what is written on the scroll their characters have just found, this should help spawn a few ideas for making those scrolls a bit more interesting.

It consists of several tables covering everything from what sort of scroll it is (arcane, divine, etc) to ink type and material, not forgetting the container and even how legible the handwriting is! It's advised if you want to use the complete system you roll scrolls up ahead of time, but you can always use a single table if one of your players asks a question that you haven't considered.

Interestingly, there are some perfectly mundane scrolls included, so characters may find themselves holding a dictionary, a recipe, a shopping list... or birthday greetings or perhaps the deeds to a house or research notes on a range of topics. Not every scroll is crackling with spells, after all.

There are also some innovative scrolls that are themselves magical, rather than having magic written on them. Fancy a scroll that takes dictation or which can make an exact copy of another scroll merely by being laid on top of it? Or one which will map an area for you? They can be found here.

Of course, there are also some cursed scrolls. Not everything the characters will find should be beneign and useful...

As well as providing all those little details that make scrolls come to vivid life in your game, just reading through the possibilities starts spawning ideas regarding scroll-based plots... a hidden benefit, perhaps, but one worth pursuing.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scroll Generator
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Mythic Mastery - Mythic Efreeti
Publisher: Necromancers of the Northwest
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2014 09:56:38
You might think that a regular efreeti is a pretty mythic fellow, but once you read through these notes it becomes clear that a true mythic efreeti is even more potent.

Sharing common characteristics with their regular brethren, mythic efreet have additional powers most notable of which is the ability to magically shackle a humanoid creature, enslaving them. A full stat block and notes on their special abilities are provided along with comprehensive notes about how mythic efreet fit into the hierarchy on the Plane of Fire.

This explains how mythic efreet gain 'mythic' status... by interacting with us 'lesser' creatures on the Material Plane! An efreeti who grants too many wishes and warps the fabric of the multiverse enough begins to gain mythic powers.

The rest of the work contains several rituals for summoning mythic efreet. The usual planar binding spells don't work on mythic genies, so other means must be employed. In some ways these rituals are easier than regular summonings, but they are also more risky and the unwary may find themselves unprotected when the summoned efreeti - likely to be in a bad mood - pops out in front of them!

Some interesting twists to throw into run-of-the-mill genie interactions here.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Mastery - Mythic Efreeti
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Found Footage
Publisher: Aegis Studios
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/16/2014 09:06:55
Innovative material to drive an investigation, following on the basic premise of a young couple going on a camping trip and disappearing. The scene is set and a variety of possible outcomes provided, leaving you to pick whichever one suits your ongoing campaign the best.

Several suggestions are made as to how the party gets involved in the disappearance. Once they begin investigating there is plenty of material for them to find, background for those who have vanished and in the woods where they were camping. The real gem, though, is a collection of photos and video clips ostensibly from their phones which are provided for you to show to your players.

Various NPCs, including the disappeared couple and some that could appear depending on which outcome you choose are provided, with background notes and full character sheets.

Naturally, there's some work to do before you actually run this as an adventure: it's designed as an adventure seed not a full-blown scenario. However, a straitforward basic premise is well-presented with lots of hints and ideas to get you going, as well as the delightful additional media to use as props. Well worth a look.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Found Footage
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Publisher Reply:
Megan, So glad to see that you enjoyed Found Footage! We are looking into more enhanced transmedia supplements which will contain additional artwork & handouts, video elements, audio elements and other resources to enhance gameplay. Thanks so much for your review! Thanks, Travis Legge Aegis Studios
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