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Die Glocke
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/30/2013 15:02:23
An outstanding summation of the publicly available information on the "glocke" project. Provides excellent ideas for use in your RPG, and even actually describes what the facility probably ACTUALLY was (definitely not what the conspiracy nuts think). Reproduction is excellent and looks very printer friendly. The price wasn't bad either. Kenneth Hite is a real gem in that he can pull together these widely disparate sources and tie them up so that it looks like a really neat conspiratorial package that can easily be used to generate a scenario or even an entire campaign. As a general rule, I recommend anything he writes as highly valuable reading material, and "Die Glocke" is no exception. Five stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Die Glocke
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Eldritch Flora
Publisher: DRAKAT Games
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2013 03:21:08
Another nicely done little monograph revolving around the fictitious Dark Isle off the coast of England. In addition to providing you with some very useful little plants, this is a truly effective way for DRAKAT games to build up the background of their scenario setting. One of the nice things is that they provide you with an alternative to each of the deadly plants that makes them merely annoying, or even allows you to simply treat the whole thing as a ridiculous local legend, while still providing you with some excellent descriptions of out-of-the-ordinary plants with which you can spice up your normal scenario descriptions. I enjoyed this one as much as I have all the others. And the price is certainly right as well.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Eldritch Flora
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Mutable Deceptions, Vol 1: Jazz Age Newspapers
Publisher: Cthulhu Reborn
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2013 03:17:15
An outstanding little game master's aid for early modern games, especially anything set in the world of gangsters, or Call of Cthulhu. The system is simple to use (though it would have been really amazing to have a number of different "backings" to substitute as well as being able to re-type the articles), and provides multiple types and lengths of articles for the astute Keeper to use in leading his Investigators down the garden path. In addition to providing realistic props for home-brewed scenarios, for those playing a long campaign, wherein the investigators have hired a "cutting bureau" to seek out articles of interest for them, it provides a wonderful opportunity for the Keeper, with minimal effort, to provide them with numerous scenario openings. It would work even better with a free-flow campaign structure like Masks of Nyarlothotep. All in all, I give this one a solid five for workmanship, flexibility, and ease of use.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutable Deceptions, Vol 1: Jazz Age Newspapers
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Mythos Tales
Publisher: At the Table Games
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/22/2013 13:31:42
Billed as a very shortened version of rules to allow some easy roleplaying in the Cthulhu Mythos, the rules are, alas, too short. They lack the necessary detail to permit all but the most experienced Keepers to use them in any meaningful way. There is no discussion of what the players or keeper are supposed to do with the values generated, and no guidance whatsoever on how to fit the values into an existing scenario or campaign. Even a brief example of play (a paragraph or two) would have enormously improved the value of this document. It seems as if the author assumed a great deal of knowledge on the reader's part -- an assumption that usually proves wrong with this kind of material. One more page of explanation or examples would have made this item worth having. As it is, I can only thank my lucky stars that I didn't actually pay anything for this, because even a dime would have been too much. Were the author to go back and flesh it out even a teeny bit, my rating would undoubtedly be much higher, but as it stands, I can't give it anything other than a "two."
As always, the production values of the scan were outstanding. RPG Now continues to be the "go to" place for generally outstanding production values for PDFs.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Mythos Tales
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for your review. The values generated during character creation are the difficulties used during the game and also work as a pacing mechanism for the game. The bottom paragraph of "Playing the Game" tells you how to remove the dice when the players hit one of the triggers above. The game is meant for one-shot play and so I never imagined discussing long-term play. I agree that the game could improve with some examples of play to be sure and I will see what I can do about that. Again, I am glad you to the time for your review and I'm sorry you felt less than fulfilled with the product.
The Unspeakable Oath 19
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2012 15:44:44
The Unspeakable Oath is an excellent magazine dedicated to all things Cthulhu which invariably has superb reviews, excellent information and widely usable supplemental material including items, books, spells, artifacts and so on. In addition there is normally a ready-to-play scenario that the Keeper can use with little or no adjustment to add a little something extra to his campaign, or to provide a handy one-night-stand kind of adventure to keep everyone busy. Nr. 19 carries on the tradition with several examples of every one of them (with the exception of artifacts, where "only" one is provided -- but a very intriguing one, at that), including two scenarios, one of which ("the Brick Kiln") is set in 1930's England, while the other ("Suited and Booted") is set in 1920's London. I won't tell you much about them in order to avoid spoilers, but, while I have yet to actually run them, they seem to be well constructed (indeed, the first has some detailed maps and information that could play a role in an on-going campaign for some time to come), and with no glaringly evident pitfalls which will derail the adventure for either the Keeper or the Investigators. Of particular note in this issue is one of the NPCs outlined in a separate article -- Bernice Cartfield -- billed as "A Delta Green Antagonist." She is very fully fleshed out with a lot of motivational and historical details provided which would make her a joy to run, and even has an interaction matrix which allows you to determine her most likely course of action depending on how the Investigators see her, and how she sees them. While she is billed as being for Delta Green, it would be remarkably easy to switch her to any other era where a woman can function at least marginally without a male "sponsor." Overall, this one easily earns a "five" from me, speaking as a long-time Keeper. From a Player's perspective, the magazine may not be as user-friendly since it seems to be more intended for the Keeper-centric audience (though the reviews alone make it worth the price to my mind), and frankly, as a Keeper, I used to severely restrict what my Players were allowed to read (which worked out okay because we each ran our own campaigns in some RPG system or another and always had plenty of our own stuff to read, even if we were restricted in each others' universes. But I digress. For Keepers, this is definitely worth the money, and for Players, it's still pretty darn good, though you'll find less general goodness for Players in this issue than in some others.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 19
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Campaign 1: Secrets of the Ancients
Publisher: Mongoose
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2012 12:08:22
I haven't played Traveller in years, but this is an intriguing thing that RPG Now and the folks who make Traveller did -- offer a campaign setting for free! SOTA is based on an old "classic" Traveller supplement (oddly enough, also called "Secrets of the Ancients" :-) ), though in that case it wasn't a full-blown campaign so much as a small area adventure (like some of the old AD&D modules). This one presents a full up campaign similar to the kinds of things offered for Call of Cthulhu. There are a series of adventures the characters work through, learning more about what's REALLY going on in known space each step of the way, until, at the climax, they get the big reveal. It looks pretty well paced, with enough information to keep them involved and lead them to the next adventure, and even a few red herrings thrown in for fun (which could be parleyed by a witty GM into side adventures of their own), however the adventure is pretty linear and tends to force the players down a specific path to resolution. Again, a witty GM could probably overcome that and provide more links and options between the sub-adventures to allow the players to navigate a bit more freely between them, but given the steadily escalating nature of the events and opponents (always a problem with games that have "levels" for their characters), that may not be really desirable. Still, for the price, it's a great set-up and provides everything the GM and players need to start adventuring in the galaxy of Traveller; I highly recommend it. The production values are high, and there's plenty of material here for the players and the GM to mull over and digest. Even though it's offered for free, the designers didn't skimp on it at all. Based on the price alone, I'd probably give it a "four" or "five," but given the high production and design values and the price, this one really earns a "six!"

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign 1: Secrets of the Ancients
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Dragon Reaches Map
Publisher: Brittannia Game Designs Ltd
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2012 11:52:19
It's a map. Production values are high, as always, but it's basically just a map. You can use it as the basis for your campaign, or you can mine it for ideas to include in your own campaign world maps. The price was good, though (free), so I chose to pull it down hunting for ideas for my own fantasy world. You can't really go wrong with free, though, so I encourage you to give it a whirl.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Reaches Map
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Adventure Module BL1-2: The Ruined Hamlet/Terror in the Gloaming
Publisher: Barrataria Games
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2012 11:49:20
This is actually a very nice little opening adventure area for groups of low rated Characters (really levels 1-3 for D&D). I picked it up for use with "The Fantasy Trip," and I think it will do very nicely for introducing some new characters (especially if the Players have never done "Fantasy Role Playing" before) to the concepts and ideas without overwhelming them. It lays out the basic ruined village and the surrounding areas for the players to adventure in, gives them a relatively tough monster to tackle at some point, and there are plenty of things for them to do which can earn them rewards. All in all, its a pretty classic introductory set-up, though it does lack a "home base" area a la "Village of Hommlet" for the players to work from. Still, this could easily be combined with "Village" or the "Caves" setting from classic D&D to provide a relatively complex area for the beginning characters to work through and having enough stuff in it so that the players won't be railroaded into any particular set of adventures -- always a plus when first working with a new group. In fact, there would be so much stuff in such an area that they might not even get to it all! Anyway, I enjoyed reading this one and can see how it would be easy to work into as a start for a much bigger campaign. I haven't tried it out on my players yet, but give me time; I think they'll love it. Production quality is pretty good (basically on a par with the classic AD&D Modules from yesteryear) and easy to read. RPGNow's production values are high as usual. The module includes some handouts and mostly blank map sheets for the players (par for the course with these modules), and is friendly to the GM. Overall, a good solid effort, only slightly marred by the lack of a working village or hamlet as a base area. I give it a "four."

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Module BL1-2: The Ruined Hamlet/Terror in the Gloaming
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Halls of Horror
Publisher: Tabletop Adventures, LLC
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2012 11:38:11
This is a nicely illustrated (and fully furnished) little supplement of a haunted mansion (or evil cult headquarters, or what have you) based on the old House of Hell supplement from Games Workshop. Basically they deleted the original plot line (developed by Steve Jackson, of all people -- one of my favorite game designers) and "repurposed" the house to serve as a backdrop for anything you want to use it for. It is primarily useful for GM's who don't have a lot of time to draft something up for themselves, but still need a large mansion for their players to work through. This one is better illustrated than many (though I have seen better). There are additional items of furniture and scenery that can be photocopied and cut apart to create new areas and obstacles for your players, including underground elements such as a minecar railway (for those Indiana Jones moments) and tunnels. There's also a section suitable for creting lawns and gardens. Overall I give this one a "four" simply because of the artwork, which is quite evocative. Keep in mind though, you aren't getting any kind of plot line, just a background against which you can adventure. In addition to this as a source of ideas, you may also want to look at "This Old Haunted House," and "This Old Haunted House, Too," both by Chaosium for Call of Cthulhu.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Halls of Horror
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Publisher Reply:
Jeffrey seems to have misplaced this review, which was apparently written for some type of map or scenery product. While "Halls of Horror" is a supplement of a haunted mansion (or what have you), and is intended to be useful for GMs who don't have a lot of time, it does not have furnishings or scenery to photocopy, or (sadly) a minecar railway. It does have read-aloud descriptions of spooky houses to share with players, to help them envision the setting in which their characters may find themselves. "Halls of Horror" does not have any type of plot line either, but it adds to adventures and is a source of ideas for GMs.
Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2012 01:30:26
This is a pretty interesting variant on the usual "heroic Investigators versus the great unknown" theme of most CoC campaigns (or Tail of Cthulhu campaigns for that matter). While most of the stuff published for Trail thus far has been the dark and depressing kind (which, while it's true to the spirit of most of HPL's works is nonetheless...well...dark and depressing), and this one is too, this one at least provides a structure and REASON why the players are acting that way. Not because of their inherently nihilist state of mind, but rather because they need to make a quick buck (or pound, in this case) in order to put bread and milk in the icebox. The investigators can be one of several types of "bookhounds" which are specialty occupations (with their own advantages and disadvantages) in search of those rare tomes and volumes so desperately sought after by evil wizards and "Dudley Do-Rights" alike, with the added incentive of being able to discover nefarious plots and decide what to do about them. The characters are gritty, no better than they have to be, and just as likely to commit a crime in order to accomplish their goal as not. Sort of like Kolchak: the Night Stalker in that sense -- balancing on that thin gray area between the legal and the downright illegal, and frequently crossing from one side to the other as the adventures go on.

The book provides a campaign setting based in post-Great War London, though it would be relatively easy to transpose it to any major western city (such as New York or even LA for that noir effect) or time. The rules are complete (though you DO need Trail of Cthulhu to understand the mechanics of the game system), and provide plenty of ideas and concepts to allow you to run your players through this type of campaign. While as I noted above pretty much all of the stuff published for Trail to date have been darkly themed, and this one isn't that much different, it feels more pulpish than the others and, as noted, could easily be transformed into something a little less "futile" in terms of long-term outcome. Really the premise of the campaign setting is absolutely brilliant -- where else can you come up with a valid reason for allowing the players to get their hands on something truly awesome in terms of forbidden lore without having them actually confront Great Cthulhu in the process? Plus, given that the business they are in is SELLING BOOKS, you can just as easily take it away from them ("What, that old leather-covered Manuscript with the cramped lettering by Olaus somethingorother, and the worm damage?" the aged proprietor responded to my urgent question; "I sold that to a gentleman that came in last week. Got a tidy sum for it too. You really need to see if you can find another copy!")

All in all, Kenneth Hite continues to demonstrate why he is one of the best horror and fantasy authors writing today. This supplement is a must-own for any Keeper looking for a new hook to get his campaign off the ground. As always it is well written, succinct (which might just be another way of saying "well written"), with plenty of great ideas and plot seeds for the alert GM to follow. I strongly recommend this volume to everyone!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
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Thrilling Tales 2e: Lights, Camera, MURDER!
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2012 01:07:05
Another excellent little adventure for Thrilling Tales. (Spoiler Alert!) This one takes place on a movie set in Monument Valley, but everything is not as it seems. The Players get to participate in filming a movie, stopping a (real) stampede and laying the vengeful mummy of an Aztec priest, all the while interacting with famous Actors and Actresses. There are lots of opportunities here for action and adventure, both real and cinematic, and some excellent opportunities for the characters to do some genuinely heroic stuff and make useful contacts in an important part of the 1920's and 30's American culture. The adventure is tightly woven, without too many loose ends, and despite being somewhat linear has enough individual choices for the characters that they shouldn't actually feel like they are being rail-roaded down the only possible path. The book even has a brief script for the adventure serial episode being filmed! All in all, I found this one useful and enjoyable to a much higher degree than I expected. I can strongly recommend it to GM's and players alike.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Thrilling Tales 2e: Lights, Camera, MURDER!
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Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales
Publisher: Atomic Overmind Press
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2012 00:29:07
This was really a no-brainer as a purchase for me; first, I love Kenneth Hite's work, and second, I love HPL (faithfully playing Call of Cthulhu since it first came out back in the day). This really ought to be titled "Tour de Force," given Mr. Hite's discussion of virtually every story HPL ever published (certainly those under his own name). His comments are insightful, and he clearly loves his work. I found it to be illuminating, though being a major fan of HPL's, I was already aware of some of the more broadly accepted critiques and commentaries. If you enjoy HPL's stories, if you play Call of Cthulhu, if you even like campy B-Movies (a surprising number of which are based at least loosely on Lovecraft's work), this is a book you'll enjoy very much.

The price is great, and the content is well worth it. As usual with RPGNow, the quality of reproduction was outstanding. All in all, I'm very pleased with this one. Thanks Kenneth!

I also liked the license plate on the bus! :-)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales
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Book 'Em!
Publisher: Mind Games Design Bureau
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2012 00:16:05
This was a surprisingly good little GM's aid for running an investigation of criminal acts your players may commit. It's quick and relatively easy to understand. Intended for modern RPG's (say anything from roughly 1900 on up; though clearly weighted towards the post-WWII world), it provides some quick guidance on how the GM can "rate" the local police department in terms of its ability to solve crimes. While this is a D20 type supplement, it should be relatively easy to convert to other systems, though a little guidance on how the authors thought that might work would have been nice. There are some holes in the document -- for example, not giving much in the way of understanding how a forensics system works, and so on. While some of that you may be able to extract from shows like CSI, it still would have been nice had a little more information been included in this supplement. Additionally, while some examples (and a "set-up" for a narrative event) were provided, the authors probably need to provide a few more examples (as well as some quick examples on how to convert the system to something besides D20) and should have continued the narrative story by using it to create examples for each step of the process (e.g., "the Players killed the four goons in a bad section of town, very near the freight yard, which is a notorious crime area; this results in the following adjustments to the DC for the police..."). Concrete examples are always helpful when explaining a new process to your audience. Still, there's a lot of information and ideas packed into eleven pages (one of which is the typical D&D spin-off type legal disclaimers necessitated by Gary Gygax's long-ago legal pursuit of all things that could be even vaguely perceived as infringing on his self-perceived right to control all Role-Playing Games everywhere), and which even includes a handy form the DM can print and use to fill out and track the information for a particular police department. Overall, I'll give it a four simply because it needs to be converted to use with any other system, and because they lost a couple of opportunities to make it much more clear to the casual reader (especially one, like me, that hasn't looked at a D20 system in 20 years)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book 'Em!
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you very much for the review! As I have said, I take every review to heart and listen to the feedback to improve my products. You raised a couple of interesting points. The idea of continuing the example all the way through the process is a good one, and one that had been part of the original intention. I edited most of it out in the interest of keeping down the page-count. I think, however, that it is a good idea for the next revision. The other point you brought up is that I used a d20 game mechanic throughout the product. I do understand that not everybody plays the d20 system, so the book really is designed as a stand-alone system. The basics of the d20 core rule (roll a d20 add your appropriate modifiers and try to beat a target number) is described. There are a couple of reasons for that; first, the mechanic is simple enough to understand and implement, and secondly the d20 system is the only one that is free and clear to publish material for! I will more than likely put a sidebar into the next revision to give GMs ideas on how to incorporate player attempts to hide their endeavors without resorting to a d20 mechanic. You also brought up that there was no basic description of forensics. First off, that isn't the point of this book....that's gonna be an entire other product, and it's already on the schedule for this year! That and there is certainly not enough room in this book to even give a cursory look at the huge forensics field! Thanks again, and look forward to the revision sometime this fall at the latest. Mark Thyme
On a Wing and a Wave
Publisher: DRAKAT Games
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/20/2012 15:42:23
Another nice little supplement from Drakat, primarily intended to support Call of Cthulhu campaigns set in the British Isles in the 1920's. This particular one discusses an actual flying boat that was in use briefly in the 20's, and while only three seem to have been manufactured, there's no reason why you couldn't assume a few more were built during the period. The resource is primarily intended to fit into a campaign that apparently includes a sizable (mythical) island between the Isle of Man and the coast of England, and to that end details of ticket pricing and dockage are included for that particular route, however enough information is included so that you could create a similar small flying boat airline in any reasonable island grouping (it probably wouldn't do you much good in the Marianas, say, but on the other hand, the Japanese authorities might have something to say about that anyway!). Since the flying boat was real, it should be possible to look up the details on the engine as well (wikipedia?) and that too might provide some good ideas for the Keeper to use regarding engine failures or other issues.

There are excellent pictures and detailed drawings, including the "livery" of two separate airlines, along with a blank line drawing you can use to create your own livery for your airline if you'd like to. An nice addition is an advertisement poster for each of the two airlines they created -- something you can have your players stumble across when they desperately need to fly out to some obscure island (or, perhaps, back from one).

As usual, the quality of the .pdf file was excellent, and the price was again only 75 cents. I'm hoping for many more of these nicely done little supplements from Drakat -- they are excellent, affordable, and have plenty of information and utility packed into a few short pages. Normally I would have given this a five, but since it does tend to be pretty specific to the British Isles, it requires a bit more work from the Keeper to transpose into a different area. Still it was an excellent job!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
On a Wing and a Wave
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Curious Calibres
Publisher: DRAKAT Games
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/20/2012 15:20:38
I picked this nice little supplement up for 75 cents, and it was worth at least twice that much! It's a very nice little supplement that describes six variant pistols, different enough to be intriguing, and common enough to be relatively likely to pop up in your 1920's Call of Cthulhu campaign (or even later, as collectors' items). One could even appear in your 1890's campaign -- since it was issued to Confederate cavalry during the Civil War. The supplement includes Call of Cthulhu suggested stats for the weapons in a tabular format as well. All in all, this was well done and very useful; especially if you're setting your campaign in England in the 20's. Furthermore, the authors provide enough of a description (along with a "baseline" firearm you can use to categorize these weapons in comparison with) to enable users of any other RPG system to use them as well. For 75 cents, how can you go wrong? The quality of the document, both text and illustrations is excellent. the only thing that would have improved it is to include a couple of shots of the weapons from different angles (especially the Protector Palm Pistol) to help the Keeper and Investigators better visualize them. I hope to see more of these from Drakat. This one was an excellent start.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Curious Calibres
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