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Game Publishing Lessons
Publisher: Accessible Games
by Stu V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/27/2013 11:56:31
Game Publishing Lessons is a collection of articles about publishing your own games, some from the RPGGeek community, and some from the author.

I equate this book with having the opportunity to sit down with someone who's gone through the process and being able to ask them all sorts of questions, and Jacob Wood does a good job of anticipating the sort of information a would-be publisher will need to know.

Some of the information won't be evergreen (specifically info on publishing software and some web resources), but if you're looking to publish a game and you don't know some who has (so you can bend his or her ear for an hour) this book is a good start.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Game Publishing Lessons
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Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/17/2012 23:26:35
"Never Unprepared" takes what can be the overwhelming task of game prep and divides it into manageable bites. For those unfamiliar with methods of organizing creativity, this book provides an excellent, concise description of the process, and more importantly, doesn't abandon you at the first step (brainstorming).

The advice is general enough that it will remain fresh and relevant for a long time. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels overwhelmed by game prep.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
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Legend
Publisher: Mongoose
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/08/2012 12:39:21
I love what Mongoose Publishing does for the RPG hobby. They've taken some old, oft-forgotten systems and breathed new life into them, modernizing the rules and supporting them.

Legend is in someways the evolution and "genericization" of Mongoose's revival of the classic (and table-heavy) Runequest, Runequest II.

Legend is a setting-less fantasy RPG using a percentile dice based skill system, much like Call of Cthulhu. The skill system is very flexible and includes rules for taking extra time for bonuses, penalties for rush jobs, applying two skills to a situation.

The character generation system is both detailed and quick. In some ways, they've applied some aspects of the Traveller chargen and applied it here (though it isn't random). Characteristics (Strength, Constitution, Size, Intelligence, Power, Dexterity, Charisma) can either be rolled randomly or purchased with a point-buy system. Secondary attributes are mostly determined by your seven characteristics.

Where it becomes Traveller-esque, is when you determine your character's background (Barbarian, Civilized, Nomad, Primitive) and profession (too many to list). These give you bonuses to skills, which are categorized as "common" and "advanced."

Common skills is the refreshing idea that there are certain things everyone knows how to do. These are common things that are both useful and, well, common. You don't have to, for example, remember to purchase "Perception." Your character already has that skill at a default level (Int + Pow). You may receive bonuses depending on your background and chosen profession, and you can also purchase up your skills with skill points later in creation.

The combat system allows for some characters (with sufficient Int and Dex) to have multiple actions per round. Additionally, characters can also gain more actions, depending on their successes (and their opponent's failures). Mongoose has attempted to come up with a list of maneuvers that one might use in combat, providing rules for each.

In all the combat system seems detailed and complex. Being a fan of GURPS, that doesn't scare me away. I do wonder, however, how much real-world time a combat might take. After my reading, I doubt it would be quick, though as one progresses up the learning curve it would definitely speed up (naturally), and the hit point levels are such that I think most combats would be over after a couple of good hits.

Legend features three types of magic: common, divine and sorcery. Each has its own discrete spell list and rules for casting. Common spells us a spell point system, with spells having a point cost detailed in the description.

Divine magic uses a modified "Vancian-style" magic system, where the user must mediate or pray to gain access to or learn the spell. Once the spell is cast, the divine caster must spend a certain amount of time meditating or praying for an amount of time determined by his commitment to his god to regain the spell.

Sorcery works in a similar way, where the sorcerer can have a number of spells equal to his Int "mentally prepared." The spells are not "forgotten" when they are cast, but if the sorcerer wishes to change up his arsenal of spells, he must take time to "expel" a spell to make room for another. Sorcerers have two skills used to cast spells. Firstly, they have Sorcery (Grimoire). There is a separate sorcery skill for each grimoire to which the sorcerer has access. The second skill is Manipulation, and this is where the power of the sorcerer can show.

The manipulation skill points are applied (it's an unrolled skill) to a spell to increase the spells range, duration, magnitude, etc. It can also be used to merge two spells together. The cost of sorcery spells depends on how much manipulation the sorcerer chooses to use.

The sorcery system offers a great deal of flexibility, and to me seems to most emulate magic as seen in much fantasy fiction.

Mongoose is going full-bore with its support for Legend. As of this writing, there are several other sourcebooks written specifically for Legend. Additionally, Mongoose says the Legend system is 100% compatible with previous Runequest II titles, giving the system a huge catalog.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend
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Traveller: Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs
Publisher: Mongoose
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/08/2012 10:38:27
Mongoose’s modernization of the classic Traveller science fiction RPG is a fine example of a mature gaming system. It has maintained (and in some cases improved upon) some of Marc Miller’s great innovations, like the random and detailed character generation system and a simple but effective skill system.

We’ve played a lot of Mongoose Traveller (MGT) over the last year or so, and a few of us have mused that, because of MGT’s high tech level, the system’s skill and equipment lists could be scaled down or modified to play other genres.

We weren’t the only ones thinking that. The folks at Mongoose Publishing, it turns out were busily working on an Old West adaptation of the MGT system, Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs.

Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs is a setting book disguised as an adventure. The first chapter provides a fairly extensive list of genre- and period-appropriate equipment, including clothing, vehicles and two pages of weapons — and yes, and entire page of revolvers.

The second chapter details the small boomtown of Bent River, including details of the various businesses and an extensive list of NPCs.

The next three chapters detail the adventure itself, including events that don’t involve aliens. The town of Bent River has enough detail in it to run an entire mini campaign just on the potential intrigue there. The alien menace has its own chapter, detailing events and locations that will be familiar to those who’ve watched any classic science fiction films.

The back of the book has the “Main Cast,” that is pregenerated PCs for the game. This is where I started to get a bit disappointed. I was hoping for a chapter with common professions, so players could make their own old west characters. Alas, it wasn’t there.

They do include one career, Desperado, which is presented in the long-form, like those found in the splat books. One could use this as a guide to homebrew additional careers, like trollop, miner, town drunk, lawman, cowpoke, school marm, etc. Personally, I would rather they devoted the pages of pregens to the normal two-page careers, like those found in the core book.

In spite of this misstep, I do feel that Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs would make a great addition to one’s MGT collection.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller: Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs
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Hero System Equipment Guide
Publisher: Hero Games
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2010 17:03:33
I wish I had this book when I was prepping my last game.

It contains hundreds of weapons, from medieval weapons, both historic and modern fire arms, scifi weapons and Superheroic weapons (which include point costs for Superheroic rules).

There are lists of different types of armor from different eras, including information for sectional army by hit location. There's also a informative section on the practicality of armor in games and rules to coax PCs out of their armor occasionally.

The HSEG doesn't cover vehicles, but there are several examples of "weird science" and Superheroic movement equipment (ie, suction cup climbers, arm wings, jet boots, rocket surfboard, etc.).

This is a great boon for those of us who find Hero game prep a bit daunting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hero System Equipment Guide
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HERO System 6th Edition: Combat and Adventuring
Publisher: Hero Games
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2010 01:54:34
Volume 2 of Hero 6th covers everything that doesn't involve chargen.

The Hero combat system is both complex, flexible and fun. It provides the flexibility during combat to make all sorts of attacks, rather than the standard "I hit."

It has one of the best hit location systems I've ever encountered, including the very innovative "high shot" and "low shot" that provides easier hit modifier penalties.

One of my favorite things about Hero is the initiative system. Characters with a higher speed get more actions in a turn, which makes more sense than the standard init system most games have.

The adventuring section covers nearly every possible situation the PCs will encounter. And the book is very well-organized, so finding the rule you need on the fly doesn't take a lot of time.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HERO System 6th Edition: Combat and Adventuring
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HERO System 6th Edition: Character Creation
Publisher: Hero Games
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2010 01:47:07
Hero System has the most flexible character creation system in existence.

Like most point-based systems, it's critical to come up with the character concept first. This is especially true for Hero, because you can make ANY character you can think of.

Additionally, there are often several different way to make the same character (though there will be subtle differences in game play).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HERO System 6th Edition: Character Creation
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HERO System Basic Rulebook
Publisher: Hero Games
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2010 01:41:35
Start. Here. First.

If you're unfamiliar with Hero or haven't run the Hero system in several editions (like me), this book is a great boon.

I originally purchased the 2 tome set of Hero 6th Ed. After a few hours, I became overwhelmed by the page count. Then I purchased the Basic Rulebook. Once I finished read it, I had an epiphany -- once you've read the Basic Rulebook, the main system books become resource material.

BR provides a scaled-down version of the main rules, but all the basics are there: the powers and modifiers, the combat system, the initiative system, chargen, etc. BR gives you the basics of the system in very concise language.

Once you've had a session or two with the BR, and you realize how awesome Hero is for creating a cinematic game.

It really should be titled, "Buy This Book First," because it is an essential product for newcomers to the Hero System.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HERO System Basic Rulebook
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Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2010 01:31:49
The Savage Worlds Fantasy companion contains everything you need to turn the excellent Savage Worlds system into any fantasy setting you can conceive. Expanded magic, detailed rules for magic items and a surprisingly complete bestiary for the page count, give you everything you need.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion
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Champions Villains Volume Three: Solo Villains
Publisher: Hero Games
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/06/2010 17:24:27
I've been preparing to run some Hero 6th Ed convention games lately, and I've found that collections like the Villains and Bestiary books are almost indispensable.

Being new to the system, I don't have a vast collection of bad guy NPCs from previous games that I can draw upon in a pinch, so if the party does something unexpected, I can get caught flat-footed.

Villains Volume 3 includes more than 120 Superheroic Villains arranged in alphabetical order by name. Each includes background information, notes on personality, motivation and tactics.

Now, the biggest hurdle that was stopping me from running a Champions game is gone. Making a bunch of superheroic villains can be a daunting task. Now I can spend time on the story.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Champions Villains Volume Three: Solo Villains
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Game Night
Publisher: Magnum Opus Press
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/13/2010 14:40:47
This is a must-read for RPGers. Jonny Nexus, author of the now-defunct criticalmiss online 'zine, is one of the funniest authors in the RPG space.

The novel tells the tale of a group of gods sitting around a table playing a role-playing game. Each of the gods lampoons a player archetype with stinging accuracy. The twist to the story is the fact that what these gods imagine becomes reality, and all the changes, do-overs and metagaming have mind-numbing consequences in the PCs' world.

I found myself laughing out loud more than once.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Game Night
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The Boarding House at Arkham Street
Publisher: Three Fourteen Games
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/01/2010 00:57:48
I generally don't run pre-made scenarios, but after reading this (and considering running a Call of Cthulhu game) I'm planning on running this adventure. It's creepy and allows the players to have the latitude to truly explore the adventure with little railroading.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Boarding House at Arkham Street
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CthulhuTech Core Book
Publisher: WildFire
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/27/2010 11:31:22
Looks like a very interesting setting, and at some point I'll try running a game (though I haven't yet). I really like the idea of combining giant mechs, aliens and the creeping horrors of Lovecraft.

Only question I can't answer yet: can I shoot at a Great Old One in CthulhuTech and expect any chance of survival?

The artwork is awesome, and there are a few short stories throughout the book that really give you a good grasp of the setting.

Can't wait to play it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CthulhuTech Core Book
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Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds)
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/25/2009 02:16:43
I purchased this book after receiving a recommendation from one of our podcast's listeners.

I'm preparing to run a Savage Worlds pulp-era game, and was unfamiliar with the genre.

It is a very complete source book for the pulp era. Lots of adventure ideas, bad guys, monsters, etc.

One of the best features is the chapter on the formula of pulp stories. It divides the typical pulp adventure into four "acts," and describes what sorts of things happen in each act. Additionally, it includes several tables to come up with villains, their nefarious plots, plot twists, etc.

It sounds little goofy to randomly roll up your adventure; however, I tried it for my first adventure, and the results I got gave me all sorts of ideas I wouldn't have come up with otherwise. It really is a valuable resource for GMs, and it's applicable to other genres and other systems.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds)
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Grimm: Core Rulebook
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/12/2009 23:46:07
Although none of the hosts have yet played it, we are all very excited to try a game. The players portray ordinary school-aged children who are whisked away to a magical world where fairy tales are true ... and twisted.

We've analyzed the game system, and we've found it simple to learn and elegant.

A more extensive review is available on our podcast, Happy Jack's RPG Podcast, Episode 14 (http://www.happyjacks.org/?p=348). Note: the podcast in general is NSFW and contains explicit content.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grimm: Core Rulebook
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