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Castles and Covenants
by Misha Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2016 08:51:21

Downright false advertising. This book does NOT contain any rules for creating strongholds. Do not purchase if you want to make your own strongholds - you're better off grabbing some d20 or GURPS book on the subject.



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
Castles and Covenants
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Hunter: Players Guide
by REMI T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/18/2016 12:18:24

One of the better players guide for the World of Darkness : very useful rules, very interesting articles (character creation, merits and flaws, the law, the cops, hunting alone, how to roleplay hunters with lot of drama).


It's a game about personnal horror, paranoïa and hunting horrors in a world gone mad. A very interesting way to (re)discover the World of Darkness.


But I don't understand the cover illustration : this game... it's not Buffy at all...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hunter: Players Guide
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Dust to Dust
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/13/2016 08:48:40

This is an adventure for Vampire: The Masquerade V20 concerning the city of Gary, Indiana, a city which is in decline for reasons unspecified... and not wholly to do with vampires! It's deeply political, but is interesting that the party has the choice as to how much - even if - they get involved. Whilst they are assumed to be neonates, they ought to have at least some autonomy from their respective sires (although if they are in part acting as someone's agents that always adds to the fun!).


The Introduction includes details of how the Storyteller Adventure System works, for those new to it and explains how the PDF is set up with full hyperlinking to provide for ease of use. It also provides a comprehensive background to the plot and introduces some of the key players - vampires, mortals and others. Themes are recovery and progress, but the mood is bleak, due to the state of Gary itself. Unlike many adventures it is quite open-ended, in some ways more a 'setting' than an actual scenario, and - if the party decides to get really involved - could provide the basis for an entire chronicle. However all you really need is to come up with some reason for them to be in, or passing through, Gary. For that matter, they may not even be a party yet - if you are starting from scratch with new characters, their meeting and forming a cotorie might be an integral part of the game.


Scene set, we move on to the events themselves. It's not the sort of adventure which progresses neatly from event to event, rather there are a series of events which can occur within the setting and with the detailed NPCs provided - an excellent 'sandbox' adventure, but one which of necessity requires good planning and perhaps improvisation from the Storyteller.


The first event, Welcome to Gary, sets the scene for the whole adventure, concentrating on the thin pickings there are for a hungry vampire in the city, and giving them the chance to encounter some of the major players - for here even elders have to hunt in alleys like the meanest neonate!


Scene follows scene quite quickly. In each there's descriptive material to help you put across the picture, notes on which NPCs are around and what they are doing, and outlines of what could take place and how to moderate them. Certainly prior preparation is essential for this all to run smoothly whatever the characters decide to do. Each scene is rated as to whether its focus is social, physical or mental and there's a good selection so no matter what individual characters prefer they will get their chance to shire.


Possibly the most delightful scene involves a 'zombie walk', an event where ordinary mortals have been invited to dress up as zombies... it's not hard to think of ways in which a bunch of vampires could have fun at such an event. By the end, the characters should have changed the balance of power in Gary - for good or ill, who knows. It's open-ended enough that it could run and run, if they want to stay in Gary, or just be a sidenote in their reputations if they prefer to move on. It's intriguing, exciting... a fascinating spin on how vampires can affect, and be affected by, the world around them.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dust to Dust
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Vampire Translation Guide
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2016 08:51:27

When I reviewed Vampire: The Requiem 1e I wrote "If you played Vampire: The Masquerade forget everything you know about vampires!" Now, Vampire: The Masquerade was launched in 1991 and ran through three editions... and in 2004 Vampire: The Requiem came along, part of the New World of Darkness, and established itself as a popular game in its own right. But although both deal with vampires in a dark and twisted contemporary world, each game has a different vision of that world. The rules are a bit different too, but for many players, they have wanted to bring concepts across - a favourite clan or bloodline, perhaps - into the other game. This work seeks to make some of that possible, or at least to suggest ways of doing so for those players who are not happy with hacking systems for themselves.


The important guideline, however, is that the story is more important than the rules, and that whatever you do should enhance your game, make it more fun. They are two different game systems, and you may have to twist things a bit to elbow-wrestle a concept from one to the other. Don't be afraid, just dig a bit to work out what the intended effect of that concept is and then run with it. Maybe the biggest difference is that Vampire: The Masquerade is a stand-alone game in its own right and in Vampire: The Requiem we merely have the vampire source book for the New World of Darkness. Crossover games were possible - indeed my group mixed Vampire: The Masquerade vampires with Werewolf: The Apocalypse werebeasts with gay abandon - but you were mixing two separate games with the associated effort of twisting game mechanics into compatability.


There were conceptual differences too, and these are explored here, from the theological (just how did vampires come about anyway?) to how wide ranging the game is in scale, the tone of the game and whether or not there's an underlying metaplot going on.


Next, a look at Clans - something a vampire doesn't get to choose (although the player usually does) but other people, vampires or not, tend to make assumptions about a vampire based on their clan affiliation. The real difference between the games is that Vampire: The Masquerade clans are based around the creation myth, common to all, that vampires are all descended from Cain, cursed after killing his brother Abel, and that Cain had thirteen childer, hence thirteen clans. In Vampire: The Requiem each clan has its own creation myth, it's possible that vampires from different clans are actually subtly different kinds of monster, a form of convergent evolution. An analysis of all the clans from both games follows, with detailed notes on how to move them to the other game to best effect. This section ends with some comments on bloodlines, which are also dramatically different between the two games.


Then Sects and Covenants get the same treatment. In Vampire: The Masquerade there were but two sects (Camarilla and Sabbat) and they were at war, individual vampires identified themselves by their clan. In Vampire: The Requiem clan is less important, and vampires define themselves by the covenant they choose to join. Again, each group is gone through with an eye to using it in the other game.


Whilst both games have Disciplines, there too differ and there's some detailed analysis on how to tweak game mechanics to have the discipline you want within the game system you have chosen to play. Traits and Systems then get the same treatment.


Finally, Character Conversion. Never mind having your favourite clan or discipline available, what about that treasured vampire character? Here is a step by step process, or actually two processes, Masquerade to Requiem and Requiem to Masquerade. What would that character you know and love be like if you played the other system... here is your chance to find out, with the sample characters from the respective rulebooks used as examples.


This may be a rather nit-picking approach for some, but if you want the rules to work seamlessly and to best effect rather than just grabbing concepts and winging it, this book provides all the tools that you need.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire Translation Guide
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/09/2016 07:46:01

Grabbing attention from the outset opening with a collection of fan (and fans-now-made-it-in-the-hobby) comments about what earlier versions of Vampire: The Masquerade means to them, this is a beast of a book, enticing and potentially destructive, capturing all the excitement and otherness of the original in a mature, elegant and yet still raw and visceral form. Once through this excitement, the 'meat' of the book comes in three sections: the Riddle, the Becoming and the Permutations.


First up, The Riddle. This looks at what the game actually is with an Introduction that charts the development of Vampire: The Masquerade from its beginnings in 1991, discussing the wierd yet effective mixture of urban alienation and tight-knit community of belonging that made this game such a landmark and success; and touching at some length on the pervasive nature of the LARP version too. Then there are some notes on vampires as they are seen in this game, which of the common 'facts' about vampires are true and which are not... These basics covered, Chapter 1: A World of Darkness looks in more detail at vampires (the kindred as they like to call themselves) and the world in which they have their unlife, and Chapter 2: Sects and Clans covers vampire society, the organisations that claim their loyalty. It all makes for fascinating reading, and established the environment in which the game is played with YOU as the vampires.


Next, The Becoming. This is the game mechanics bit, covering character creation and the options available in Chapter 3: Character and Traits, and Chapter 4: Disciplines. Then Chapter 5: Rules tells you what you can do with the character that you have created, and how to go about it, with Chapter 6: Systems and Drama providing extra detail on doing, well, everything to best effect. Then Chapter 7: Morality slams the brakes on, with what happens to the vampire's core essence, his soul if you like, as he goes about his unlife. Herein lies the angst, the alienation and the struggle to stay sane, perhaps even 'human' when you so clearly are no longer what you were pre-embrace.


Finally, The Permutations. Here we find a chapter on Storytelling, the art of running a game. It's full of thoughtful and thought-provoking comments, ideas to help you spawn your own ideas. Developing themes and situations, capturing the essence of the World of Darkness and presenting it to your players. Building a structure to create a coherent chroncicle (plot arc), even how to bring it to a resounding conclusion. There's a wealth of good ideas, it's a chapter you will return to again and again, dip into for a specific nugget or mine to get your own ideas spawning. Build on that with Chapter 9: The Others, which provides detail and resources concerning vampires' few friends and legions of enemies. Many of these will spawn yet more ideas as you read about them. Finally, there's a chapter on Bloodlines. These weave their way through vampire society, more personal than the giant clans. Some may be extinct... or are they? Vampires take these seriously, and including them in the tapestry of your game will enrich it tremendously.


Some see this edition as a nostalgic look back, a retrospective of a great game line. Or as a celebration of the best of a wonderful game. There are indications that it's aimed at rekindling the love with those who have played Vampire: The Masquerade over the preceeding twenty years. Yet it's a whole lot more. It's an encapsulation of what has gone before, accessible to new players as well as to the old, a grand continuation of the game into the next century.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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Dark Ages: Fae
by Elaine G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2016 22:07:34

I loved Changeling: the Dreaming. The brightly colored books, the imaginary journies and the adventures of high fantasy spawned many, many fond memories. It could be darker if you made it that way, or light enough for very young players.


The drawback was that I always played it as a stand alone. We rolled Changeling characters and played them together through remarkable adventures. It never seemed to fit quite right with Vampire and Werewolf in spite of the Fianna and other crossover possibilities.


Dark Ages: Fae feels much more like the classic World of Darkness and I thought it meshed better with Vampire and Werewolf. In fact, the older versions of Werewolf (like Rite of Passage) leaned more toward this than Changeling: the Dreaming. These are beings of power, passion, immortality and legend. They do things like turn offenders into trees or bring down mountains on an entire village because humans broke a vow their great great great grandparent made. The Fae of legend and myth weren't nice or playful. Capricious and dangerous, they were known as "the Good Folk" or "Fair Folk" because people didn't speak their names. They aren't evil by any means, but they are different in the same way the other supernatural denizens of the world have their unique points of view. This book covers all of that and gives you the ability to stand toe to toe with a vampire or werewolf in the world.


Ultimately, I ended up adopting this book over Changeling for my V:TM and WW:TA games.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Ages: Fae
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Mirrors: Bleeding Edge
by Nathan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2016 14:21:42

Overall this is a good supplement. The art is evocative, and the layout is easy to read. I really would have like to have a lot more lists of cyberware (cyberpunk is all about the tech!) but it would not be that hard to "roll your own". That's not a big deal for a GM who is used to adapting material from other games, but it does mean that almost nobody will be able to use this material "out of the box".


Buy this if you want some ideas of how to integrate cyberpunk elements in to your games, and how to adapt those themes to the World of Darkness. But be prepared to do a bit more work to really use it in play.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mirrors: Bleeding Edge
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Werewolf The Dark Ages
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/20/2016 16:33:05

I love it. Great addition to my library of PDF. Would love to see it as a PoD option as well as I love having my books as well as my PDFs :D



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Werewolf The Dark Ages
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Scroll of Fallen Races
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/20/2016 15:46:36

I remember the original teases for this book, back when it was originally going to be called "Scroll of the Lesser Races." Wow, am I glad they didn't go with that title. Beyond the obvious implications, Exalted 2e has enough problems with overtones that only a few hundred people are important to the setting and how important they are can be determined by what color they glow if someone jumps them in an alley.


Scroll of the Fallen Races is divided into two parts, one for the Mountain Folk and one for the Dragon Kings. Both of these sections pretty much just recapitulate the information in first edition products--Exalted: The Fair Folk and The Exalted Players Guide, respectively--but update the mechanics for second edition and expand a bit on the things we already knew in the way that most of the second edition books do. For the Mountain Folk, this mostly involves making their society even more cutthroat and backstabbing and giving even more of the credit to Autochthon for inventing everything everywhere ever. Life for the Artisans is a seething pit of vipers with constantly shifting alliances and power plays and life for the Workers and Warriors is a nightmare dystopia, but it's "okay" because they're nearly living machines anyway, so who cares what happens to them? The Artisans certainly don't.


The rule of stupid distances is still is effect--Lutar, a Mountain Folk city-state between Mount Metagalpa and Great Forks, is described as conducting trade with and sending troops to help the Haltans, thousands of miles away--but for intra-Mountain Folk relations it actually makes sense because they have functional long-distance communications and travel technologies. The Mountain Folk are probably the only civilization in Creation where this kind of scale makes sense, and I wish that I could think it was planned instead of just being a consequence of not wanting to fill in the empty places in the map.


Most of the section is devoted to artifacts, character creation, and Charms after the first twenty pages, and while the artifacts include plenty of obvious modern technology with the serial numbers filed off like magical grenades, that doesn't bother me here. The Mountain Folk were put in as Exalted's version of dwarves--explicitly, see The Making of Exalted--so having them be superlative-but-mechanistic crafters fits in just fine. My problem with Wonders of the Lost Age is that it tried to make this everyone's paradigm, to the overall detriment of the setting, not with anyone at all using magitech. And if anyone's going to use it, dwarves are a good candidate.


The Charms are mostly utilitarian, as befits the somewhat focused nature of the Mountain Folk, though the Charms that replicate some aspects of sorcery (summoning elementals and countermagic) are conceptually the most interesting. Otherwise Worker Charms are boring, Warrior Charms are great for killing people but literally nothing else, and Artisan Charms are mostly manipulating Essence with a side order of crafting. Only the Enlightened Charms really have anything beyond a somewhat narrow focus, because that's where all the social and interaction stuff goes. Fortunately, these are accessible to everyone, since in a Mountain Folk game the PCs are all likely to be Enlightened. I doubt many people want to play "Boring 9-5 manual labor: the RPG."


There is one huge oversight I have to mention. For all the talk about the Endless War and how the struggle against hostile underground monsters and civilizations defines Mountain Folk civilization, the book doesn't give you any stats for anything to fight. That's a pretty big oversight and one that makes it hard to run any kind of Mountain Folk game involving their greatest threat without a lot of work on the storyteller's part.


While I'm a fan of the first edition corebook's explanation that the Mountain Folk are just Fair Folk who entered Creation at the Elemental Pole of Earth and took on some of its stability thereby, that ship has long since sailed. What's here is a serviceable if boring portrayal, but there's not much that actually makes me want to play a Mountain Folk or run a Mountain Folk game.


The Dragon King section is better, and is helped by spending slightly more time on Dragon King culture and psychology and by greatly expanding the scope of Dragon King locations. Originally they were all in Rathess until the Exalted Players Guide added the Pterok, Mosok, and Anklok breeds, but even there it was implied that Rathess had almost all the surviving Dragon Kings and the other three breeds were mostly afterthoughts. Scroll of the Fallen Races expands on these locations, like Mouth Eledath in the southwest, where the Dragon Kings have advanced far enough to begin trade with the Mountain Folk (in 1e they had just attained sapience within the last decade), or Scale Crest Island, where intelligent Mosok rule over human barbarian tribes on the coast and intelligent Anklok do the same from the island's interior. This is great and it's an important addition to the game, since it provides plenty of possibility to interact with Dragon Kings as more than monstrous manual entries.


As with the Mountain Folk section, most of the chapter is taken up with superpowers, but unlike the Mountain Folk the Dragon Kings don't derive their powers from Charms. They get them from stratified progressions of techniques called the Ten Paths of Prehuman Mastery. Each Path is themed to an element and has some particular focus; for example, the Clear Air Path is about perception and the Flickering Fire Path is about speed and motion. Unique to the 2e presentation of the Dragon Kings, there are also five Dark Paths themed around the five elements of the Underworld.


This is also a holdover from first edition, but I like it because it reveals that Charms are not the universal way to organize supernatural powers. It makes me wonder if the other Primordial-created races like the alaun or the scathach had their own non-Charm-based powersets and how they were organized. This is somewhat tarnished by the Fair Folk using Charms even through they come from the madness outside Creation, but it still makes me curious.


The storyteller advice correctly points out that the Dragon Kings have very similar themes to Solars--devotees of the Unconquered Sun who have been gone from the world for ages and who most of Creation thinks are monsters, who are driven by ancient memories--but points out that Dragon Kings have a much harder time proving their good intentions than Solars because they do look like monsters and there's no way around that other than disguising themselves. Dragon Kings have to contend with a world that they once ruled that has now grown strange and nearly forgotten them, when it doesn't remember them as horrible monsters. Okay, maybe it's closer than "very similar." But the Dragon Kings have no chance of ever regaining their power due to diminished numbers, so games about them are focused more on what they can do with their diminished capabilities in the Age of Sorrows.


Overall, the second section is much more interesting than the first, because even though the Dragon Kings are thematically similar to the Solars, they have enough breadth of concept and location that there are many more stories to tell about them than about the Mountain Folk. Plus, dwarves are cool, but they're just not as cool as magic dinosaur people. The prize goes to the second half of the book, but I still like the whole thing for showing two of Creation's nonhuman cultures in (some) depth. I only wish there were more interesting nonhuman races to show.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Scroll of Fallen Races
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Big Eyes, Small Mouth Revised Second Edition
by ROBERT H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2016 21:50:55

Nice game, simple rules. just wish it was in print and I wish more of the books for it were in print.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Big Eyes, Small Mouth Revised Second Edition
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Storytellers Handbook to the Sabbat (WW2225)
by Dominic W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2016 20:31:14

good supplement. A lot of stories to add examples.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Storytellers Handbook to the Sabbat (WW2225)
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Player's Guide to the Sabbat
by Dominic W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2016 20:29:10

good supplement. A lot of stories to add examples.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Guide to the Sabbat
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Tri-Stat dX: Core System Role-Playing Game
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2016 11:40:22

I found it really fun to make characters. Bit of a challenge balancing all the factors. But then actually running it got rather involved and tedious.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tri-Stat dX: Core System Role-Playing Game
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Collection of Horrors: Mr. Thélème
by Samuel F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2016 12:22:31

This is a great look at Mr. Theleme, and I personally find the new castigation very cool. The stats for Franz are very interesting, though I had hoped it would be able to change size as occasionally Franz' silhouette has been mistaken for a human. However, that minor complaint aside, from the audio file to the small amount of new detail on Maman, this is an excellent little scene that works well to introduce Mr. Theleme and Franz to a Chronicle, or to escalate and continue his involvement.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Collection of Horrors: Mr. Thélème
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Gilded Cage
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/04/2016 20:03:24

Gilded Cage, a sourcebook for Vampire: The Masquerade, takes a look at the opportunity for players to control their ability to use politics and influence. The book is a fairly easy read at 111 pages and its layout is pretty easy to follow. Focusing on one’s personal influence, Gilded Cage exhibits how anyone can become influential, whether you are in janitorial services or the leader of a multibillion-dollar corporation. Not only can you learn to become more influential, but the book also covers some strategy behind climbing the social ladder. What player doesn’t want to become the highest on the social food chain in their local game? Learn how to pull all the strings needed to rules the streets or the business world; it’s your choice.


The key to using Gilded Cage isn’t the exact words on the pages, but instead how one uses the information given to enhance the story they have created. My favorite aspect of role-playing is the opportunity to take any story or concept and make it your own. The ability to make a character a “social butterfly” in the World of Darkness is just as important as how many enemies he/she can take down with a punch or a gunshot.


I like to keep myself aware that Gilded Cage is a sourcebook. Personally, I found it a bit difficult to finish in one sitting. Nonetheless, I also look at that as a good thing, for taking in all that information at once may have been a bit overwhelming. I suggest if you have a tendency of browsing through books for details, that you take a few days to look over the information in detail and then go back and try to read it in a shorter span of time. I found that the second time around, I gathered more from the source than I would reading it only once.


You don’t have to be into Vampire: The Masquerade to understand the information Gilded Cage displays. The book brings up the various social issues that we see in every day life, yet incorporates them nicely in the World of Darkness. All gamers should at least keep in mind that there are many ways to play a character. So if you think you have what it takes to be your clan’s leader or you just want to swindle your way to the top, Gilded Cage could be your guide to being the leader of your Vampire community.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gilded Cage
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