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Road Trip
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/01/2010 21:48:41
This book is a must buy if you like Monsters and Other Childish Things. It is basically a whole campaign guide for a summer road trip for you, your favorite monster, and of course all those other strange kids with monsters that you may or may not get along with. The game features a tight story that can be told through piecing together the main scenarios in any order you wish. As the group of kids foils plans of various bad guys, they get additional clues on how to stop a cult from destroying the world. That's more than I ever accomplished on summer vacation.

The book is well written, extremely well organized, provides all the details you need to run the scenarios easily, suggestions how to build in your own flare, and finally mini-adventures to insert between your main plots. I love this book if you can't tell. The system itself really is unique and breeds whimsical, scary, and funny games that I believe anyone can get into. The flexibility of this campaign means you can run basically any of the scenarios any time you want and create side plots and short episodes that are as outlandish as you like that don't feel at all out of place. Just reference your favorite creepy old ghost town or wacky fun house in the middle of nowhere and go with it.

Arc Dream always provides excellent supplemental materials for their products. This one easily meets that criteria. I'm not sure if I like Road Trip or Candlewick Manor more, but it doesn't matter when both are amazing. Ross Payton really shines here and I highly recommend purchasing this book. Oh . . . one more small, but cool point is that this book also give short suggestions for how you could use this for other One Roll Engine systems. So even if you just play Wild Talents or Nemesis, you can still use the material in here for a massive cross over event. Great stuff.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Road Trip
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Monsters and Other Childish Things (Pocket Edition)
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/27/2010 22:05:51
I have to admit that I love this game even though have only listened to actual plays and played in a short play by post game. I play Wild Talents quite a bit and it is based on a streamlined version of that system (One Roll Engine). The best part of this book (and the "full sized Monstrous Edition version") is that it is more straightforward and easy to run than Wild Talents. That game has a ton of flexibility like this one, but can be hard to pick up for novices. This game, much like it's premise, is easy to get into and runs smoothly from start to finish.

In a standard game, you get to play as a kid who is friends with a powerful monster. You get into trouble and have outlandish adventures as the monster gets you into sticky situations with adults, kids, and of course other monsters. The rules for creating your kid are very simple. You can roll up your character pretty efficiently before a session. Monsters take a bit more time to tweak their powers and hit locations (think body parts with associated hit points and super powers). However, don't have enough time to put together your monster before an impromptu game? No problem! They included a random monster generation section with plenty of tables to roll that dude up lickety split. That is much appreciated, especially as a GM making monsters for other kids.

You can create kids from small children to adolescents and run just about scenario that they might find themselves in. Arc Dream has several campaign books out including Candlewick Manor and the newly released Road Trip, which provide everything you need to run an extended story with your friends. Those are all written extremely well, well organized, and have beautiful artwork, much like this book. They are also really worth the money.

Speaking of money, at half the price of the Monstrous Edition and including ALL of the same material, this $7.50 PDF should be in absolutely every RPG fan's collection. Of course, I love PDFs because it's just easier than taking the book along everywhere I go. You can bet I'll be running this with my group soon.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters and Other Childish Things (Pocket Edition)
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Buck-A-Batch: Magic Boots 2 (4E)
Publisher: Creation's Edge Games
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2010 22:11:43
This is a handy little supplement for a buck. It has 25 magic pairs of boots for 4E. Many of them allow you to do a nifty movement trick, which is standard for a 4E boots. I particularly like the Charge Dodge Sandals that give you a bonus against charge attacks and a nice little power along with it. You get the list of items, cards to print and give to players, and the cover art. Worth all 100 pennies for sure.

The only issue I have with this particular set of items is they tend to clump around Lvl 8 and Lvl 18-19. Not a ton of epic level items, but that may be the next supplement. I'll be sure and look for it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Buck-A-Batch: Magic Boots 2 (4E)
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Curse of the Night Blood Orcs
Publisher: Bonsai Entertainment
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/12/2010 21:22:17
This is my second review of Bonsai products. I have to say they don't disappoint. This product is well written, straightforward, and provides a great set of hooks for your 7th level adventurers. This particular supplement uses mostly creatures from the Monster Manuals, so it will be easy to modify them for any level party (within reason) using the Monster Builder. There are a few new monsters included, which could be replaced with any level appropriate monster if necessary.

The best part of these supplements is the attention to detail. Every town has fleshed out NPCs and plenty of back-up information for when your adventurers start rolling skill checks. If you are a new DM, want to run a one-shot, or just need an interesting quest for your PCs, check out this or other Bonsai Entertainment products. I can't wait to see the next set of adventures.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Curse of the Night Blood Orcs
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Circus of the Stars
Publisher: Bonsai Entertainment
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/12/2010 13:29:14
This is a great supplement for a great price. It offers an adventure for a 9th level party perfect to give your players a mysterious side quest to investigate. As per most 4th Ed. products, it gives you several adventure hooks to lure your PCs to the town. The town is described as well as it's important inhabitants. Perhaps most refreshing is the detailed account of all the information your PCs can gather with various skills checks at local establishments. Depending on how well they roll, they will be given more or less information regarding what really is going on in the town. Of course, they will eventually have to break out their weapons and thwart some evildoers.

The encounters are all level appropriate, include stat blocks for all the creatures (even several new creatures and variants), and provide a good bit of diversity. This should make for a solid side quest that takes a few sessions. If you aren't at level 9, there is still a lot of information you could use to build the scenario for any level of play. Or use bits and pieces to make a one session vignette for an evening of merriment and mayhem at the circus.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Circus of the Stars
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The Horror Game
Publisher: Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/07/2010 14:22:56
The Horror Game is a great “rules light” horror game focused on quickly creating characters, monsters, and scenarios with enough flexibility to build a wide variety of situations. With the system you can probably replicate just about any of your favorite horror movies in under an hour. It’s a fast read at just a little over 100 pages and is written well and concisely. The only real complaint I have is the lack of artwork. That doesn't take away from the system though.

The game strikes a nice balance between “crunch” for the more numbers focused players including creating characters with your standard attributes, skill points, disadvantages, etc. The skills are not predetermined, but narrative in nature that the players work out with the GM. If you want to be a yo-yo master who can kill at man at 10 paces . . . GO AHEAD! The limits are really your imagination and your GMs tolerance. The book does include tables of representative power levels for various skills, so you can get a sense of the order of magnitude that you can expect your character to perform. That’s about it for characters, which is great if you are building pregens or want to run a game where you players don’t have to stress about min/maxing every little detail.

On to monsters . . . they scale depending on the number of players and the difficulty of the game. They have most of the same attributes as the players and some special abilities like Warp Walk, which is how characters like Jason from Friday the 13th are chasing someone into a house and sudden end up right behind them after they slam the door shut. It is just as easy and fast to create your monster on the fly as it is for players to make their characters. The book also has tons of examples of types of monsters. The variety is great for a GM who wants to run an impromptu game. They even have suggestions for PvP games set in dangerous locations. This just goes to show you the flexibility of the system. The book then offers us several resources for planning a game including websites for floor plans and other game-related resources.

The mechanics are simple, yet robust. With some “rules light” games, D&D veterans and other players who like “crunchy” games are disappointed by the lack of firm boundaries of play. I think in this case The Horror Game strikes a nice balance between encouraging a narrative and utilizing a mechanic to allow for a fair resolution of actions. That doesn’t mean it’s forgiving though. Don’t get too attached to your characters.

Overall, I think the book is a solid purchase for GMs who want to change things up from his/her normal game or for groups without as much RPG experience. I am confident I can teach my players the game in 15 minutes and probably need less than an hour to stat out the monster/pregens for the game. I haven’t gotten a chance to run it. However, they plan on releasing free scenarios on www.thehorrorgame.com, which I will promptly use to run a game for the NerdBound crew or our listeners. The price is right and it should offer up some fun times for your group. Now get slashin’!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Horror Game
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Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/02/2010 22:20:41
As with all of the Trail of Cthulhu scenarios I've purchased, Castle Bravo is top notch. I'll give you fair warning. I ran this as a one-shot and it ran 4.5 hours with some serious cuts in material. If you want to include all/most of the hooks and plot lines available in this book, plan it for a 2 session game at least.

Overall, this is written very clearly and is well structured. The book starts out with the standard GUMSHOE story summary and plot skeleton. It then goes into the particulars of the scenario starting with the characters standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier before a nuclear bomb is tested on a nearby item. That's when very strange happenings begin.

The group I ran this for really enjoyed it. It is definitely a "slow burn" where the creepy stuff escalates slowly and then eventually comes to a head. That's when all heck breaks loose and the players have to do whatever they can to survive.

The best part of the book is that it is modular in some respects so that you can easily move the story along if things begin to drag. It is also simple to improvise as your players go off the beaten path. As a GM who routinely runs things fast and loose, I appreciate that.

Overall, this is a great change of pace for Cthulhu fans who are used to classic 1930's scenarios or modern day adaptations. The 1950's McCarthy-esque paranoia and nuclear horror atmosphere lends itself very well to a Cthulhu game and offers something different for your players. For the price, this is well worth your money and then some. Buy this now and run it as soon as you get a chance.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo
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Caltrops
Publisher: Hudspeth Games
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/10/2010 22:07:40
This is a great little supplement for GMs looking to add some flavor for characters, especially the betting kind. It's a short read with two simple dice games that NPCs may be playing or more interestingly that your players can play to pass the time.

Some of my players aren't as into the roleplaying portions of the game and end up heading off to the local tavern for some gambling. Though I'm sure I could have come up with some games for them to play rather than a simple skill challenge, this supplement gives two good examples with the background that goblins often play these with marked caltrops. A little fluff and a little crunch. My kind of supplement. Break out the d4's and ante up.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caltrops
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Publisher Reply:
"A little fluff and a little crunch." Exactly what I was going for. I hope the balance pleases the average customer. There was great temptation to over fluff. Thanks for the review Neil. Q
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