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Other comments left for this publisher:
Hearts & Souls
by Jerry G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2007 00:00:00
This is obviously a product that lives up to its name. the system has a lot going for it and is very transperent when playing. Tim Kirk (the author) loves the genre and it shows


LIKED: The way characters are described in play

DISLIKED: it could be a little tighter in the way it conveys ideas.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hearts & Souls
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In Harm's Way
by Bill C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2007 00:00:00
There is a story about a cowboy who always lost his months pay in a crooked poker game. He knew it was crooked, but it was the only game in town. Nautical RPGers are in the same (uhh) boat as that cowboy. Right now, In Harms Way (IHW) is the only game in town.


LIKED: Wealth system, promotion and notice system

DISLIKED: Too much fluff. Color graphics have to be printed in color, BW prinitng is not an option, so this product is far too expensive to print.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
In Harm's Way
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Publisher Reply:
Sorry that you disliked the game, Mr. Crum. I do my best, but one can't please everyone. The issue you have with not being able to print in greyscale is a problem - I certainly never intended it - but it seems to be isolated to particular printers. After I read your comment, I tested the file on a dozen different printers, both laser and ink jet, color and black and white, and only found a problem with a Compaq inkjet driver. The file was generated with the standard default Adobe Acrobat settings for web-based pdfs. I have no idea why this problem is occuring, but I offer you your money back for your trouble, and extend this offer to anyone else having these printing problems. -clash bowley
In Harm's Way
by Brian W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2007 00:00:00
Have not had a chance to play, but have read through the rules. Looks like a good replacement for the old Privateers and Gentlemen set from FGU in the 1980s. Since I have no practical experience with the game, I'm setting my ratings to "middle-of-the-road."


LIKED: One of my favorite topics and areas of history.

DISLIKED: Can't think of anything right offhand.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Conflict, and A Person's Place In It
by Sophie L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2007 00:00:00
Very interesting summary of the roots, mechanisms and effects of conflict. Gives a more serious, in-depth discussion than your average RPG level. This document is particularly useful for games with a serious take on killing (e.g., Godlike, Unknown Armies, etc.)

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conflict, and A Person's Place In It
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Cold Space Vehicle Design Guide
by Arun R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/22/2006 23:46:12
A decent, though not detailed, vehicle design system. Not as complex as CORPS VDS or Traveller's systems, but if you like the technical aspects and detail it will be disappointing. That said, if you want a fast sizing system, this is a good deal.

It uses an interesting system. Instead of a component (like CarWars) or system (like VDS or Traveller) based system, it provides a series of standard vehicles and equations to modify them. Fast, but potentially not as flexible as other methods.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cold Space Vehicle Design Guide
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BlackDragon: Cinematic Games Mechanics
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2006 00:00:00
This is a sad attempt at a role-playing game. I really was looking forward to this game, but am totally disappointed in the presentation and the mechanics. The examples are hard to follow. The description states that there are rules for using cards instead of mah jong tiles, but I can't find those rules. The game mechanics are NOT fluid, but are just variant of so many d10 systems out there, simply draw a tile with a value below your adjusted ability score and you succeed. The tiles aren't used as a clever randomizer, with only the dragons and winds being able to be used in a manner different from a mere random number. The product seems rushed and unready for publication. Even the character sheet is poorly designed and mislabelled as "BlackMagic (sic) Character Sheet."


LIKED: The core of a good cinematic game can be found here. With some playtesting and a major rewrite, this could be the type of game that I thought it would be.

DISLIKED: This game is simply NOT ready for publication.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Ripped Off


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
BlackDragon: Cinematic Games Mechanics
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BlackDragon: Cinematic Games Mechanics
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/28/2006 00:00:00
I really wanted to like this game. The mechanic is fresh, and the pdf presentation itself is pretty.

Unfortunately, the game itself (or at least as presented in the pdf) is half-baked. There are few examples (and no good examples)of how the game actually works, and it's far from intuitive. For example, in the one actual play example provided, the descritpion doesn't list the characters relevent abilities or even tell us which tile they drew.

Maybe the mahjong mechanic is obvious, but not to me.


LIKED: I like the less-than-crunchy approach to cinematic gaming. This game is probably five good pages of examples and explanation from being a good-to-great game. The low price tag helps.

DISLIKED: Seems unfinished and rushed to production. Not easy to pick up. A few typos.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
F20 Gamers Against Cancer Edition
by Zack H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/12/2006 00:00:00
An interesting mix of Fuzion, d20, and perhaps a hint of GURPS, F20 is a handy, robust little system that should handle a variety of duties quite well.


LIKED: Easy to learn rules, plenty of character-building options.

DISLIKED: The magic system seems a little tacked-on to me, but it is workable.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
F20 Gamers Against Cancer Edition
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Welcome to HAEL
by Ice W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2006 00:00:00
This is just a review based on a quick glance through:

Psihammer is only mentioned as a method to represent certain psionic powers, and is not absolutely necessary.

The Kirene race traits section mentions a sidebar on having four arms, but there is not sidebar.


LIKED: Original idea of who runs the world.

DISLIKED: It just isn't as impressive as I thought it would be. Racial trait sections need better instructions.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Welcome to HAEL
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StarCluster 2 Guide to Starship Crew
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/09/2006 00:00:00
This 19 page PDF (21 with cover & credits page) describes the workings of a starship crew in the Starcluster universe (though a lot of the information is adaptable to other games). The guide includes information on the various crew positions, crew shifts used, crew organizations, daily life on a starship, a generic starship hit location table, and a list of starship weapon damage factors by tech level.

Three crew shift schedules are described, single shift, mainday alterday, and 3 shift. Information is included on the organization of military crews, family crews, married crews, company crews, and communal crews (such as a co-op of owners/parnters of a starship). Additionally, daily life on a starship, including leisure time activities such as eating, drinking, entertainment (Trivox & gaming), exercise, gardening, and creative/performance activities, is described. The gaming section touches on the presence of ?Holo-rooms? on some ships, so you can have your own ?holo-room? gone wild type adventures (Which for some reason, no matter how many ?incidents? occur therein, are never shut down.) Though there is little or no mention of sleeping arrangements, such as hot-racking, as done on some military vessels, included.

Fifteen crew positions are described, including professions based on them and their skill choices, all laid out in the ?trademark? Starcluster 1d6 random table. The crew positions are Pilot, Navigator, Communications, Computer, Scan (i.e. sensors), Shields, Engineer, Maintenances, Cybernetics, Gunner, Observer (More like Science officier/astrophysics in other games), Security, Steward, Supercargo, and MatTran. Several of these positions are specific to the Starcluster universe, but many are also applicable to other games. Also provided is a handy table of compatibility of crew positions, showing incompatibale, compatible and optimal cross-training options for crew positions

The PDF is laid out as a single column in serif typeface with bookmarks to each section. A ?futuristic? NASA style decorative font is used for section titles. It is sparsely illustrated with a couple of half-page art pieces done in the ?trademark Starcluster watercolorized? style. The cover page features an atmospheric capable ?spaceplane? type aircraft taking off/landing in a woodland meadow, done in the art style mentioned, and is decent looking. Like other Flying Mousetrap products, the artwork and layout is functional, but not particularly pretty or inspired.

Overall I think this is a solid product, providing the GM useful information on the crew positions and operations of a starship. It also provides interesting options for crew ?organization? such as the line marriage described for married crews. Much of this information can be adapted for use in other SF games as well. It also provides good information on leisure activities by crewmembers, and bits of daily life, which again can be adapted for use in other games. I highly recommend this product for GMs wanting more information on operations & daily life of a starship in the Starcluster universe, and believe players of other SF games will find much of the material useful.




LIKED: Various crew organization types

DISLIKED: Material could have been better organized, for some reason crew organization wasn?t discussed earlier in document while crew shift schedules were.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
StarCluster 2 Guide to Starship Crew
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Publisher Reply:
Great overview, Rob! I like your suggestion re sleeping arrangements - something that would defitiely add to the usefulness of the supplement. I wll definitely add that in a future revision. :D -clash
Daemornia: The Role-Playing Game
by Jeremy S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/07/2006 00:00:00
I purchased this product for the setting. The system does look to be playable, however. Plus, there are some mechanics worth "porting" to other games.

I have always been fond of the "Demons are attacking" plotline. While such a plot generally happens in a low-tech fantasy setting, this one is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic setting. That's great fun. The setting has a fun, gritty feel to it. Survival under the boot of the regime has a great potential for a very fun campaign.

If you like post-apocalyptic games or fighting demons, this is a great game to buy.






LIKED: Some good artwork. I got a good feel for the setting through the art and details.

DISLIKED: Lack of bookmarks. :( The layout somehow reminds me of (blech) Palladium products.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Daemornia: The Role-Playing Game
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for your kind words Jeremy. I have to admit, that I have been a fan of the Palladium games in my 'distant' youth! However, the bookmarks are a valid point, and will be looked into.
Daemornia - Revised Edition
by Richard L. Date Added: 03/04/2006 20:03:10
A fine piece of work.

Daemornia is well thought out and well presented. It has an in depth game mechanics and easy to understand system.

Combat works very well and is quick enough to easily get to grips with. I especially like the way armour and weapons can be damaged and the trauma tests give a realistic approach to injuries.

The World and City guides are very informative and give plenty of scope for campaigns. The whole 'invasion' idea works very well indeed and I got a good feel for what humanity was up against, especially considering the formidability of the daemons.

Overall: Excellent game and worth the money, especially considering the planned expansions.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Daemornia - Revised Edition
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Daemornia: The Role-Playing Game
by Dennis C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2006 00:00:00
I bought this product after using a pal's copy for a while. What can I say...Great Game.

The mechanics are structered very well, with emphasis on easy to understand rules. All testing is based on the character's attributes, which actually define a PC rather nicely, and make every character unique.

There are seven races to choose from, including humans, and they each have their own strengths and weaknessess. I personally like the Night Stalkers. Not too bright, but they have good physical abilities!

The combat system is fast and believable, with armour protecting as it should (and not making it hard to hit your opponent!). Basic attacking is done using a D20 comparing the attackers Att/Aim attribute to the Defenders Def/DX attribute. Simple and elegant. There are lots of combat abilities and weapons available, making combat quite enjoyable!

The magic and psionics system is nice and large, again with an easy approach.

The Bestiary and Minions of Darkness sections are extensive, with plenty of information and unique characteristics. The Minions section gives a good insight on the level of the daemonic invasion.

Daemornia also has large sections on the World Guide and city Guide. These are useful for campaign settings, especially the City guide with its detail on travelling in Daemornia. There is also a section on the the history of Daemornia, aka The Chronicles. This is well thought out with plenty of potential for 'period' games.

The game is nicely supported with its own website and a regularily active forum. There are new supplements in the works, making this a system with plenty of resources.

The quality of the PDF is excellent and the layout has that professional feel. Overall a fantastic buy.

Got to go now, theres Nominods to fight!!


LIKED: Too much to decide upon, but the EXP system allows you to increase your characters attributes and skills individually according to the career path, allowing your character to move around careers picking up various traits. Every career has four levels with provide better traits and skills and higher potential attributes. Overall it is a nice and easy to use system


DISLIKED: Nothing!

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Daemornia: The Role-Playing Game
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Encounters on HAEL - Volume 1
by Thomas T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/01/2006 00:00:00
After the quality of ?Welcome To Hael?, this supplement was a terrible disappointment. What you get is five encounters (though some have suggested variations); three have a new monsters, one stats up an NPC and one has a monster plus four magic items. Two encounters have ugly but serviceable maps. Not much material for your money, especially compared to the incredibly good value of ?Welcome to Hael?.

The encounters are really more like seeds or outlines. There's little fleshing out or suggestions about how to make them part of a larger game. All the hard work is left to the GM. This is a real problem since the parent book's deficiency was a lack of advice for using it in play.

It's not all bad. The three crone prophets are an interesting hydra-like creature and their lair has a few interesting features. The flame trees encounter could be an interesting tactical challenge, where the PCs are caught in an intelligently-directed brushfire with their surroundings burning at different speeds and intensities.

The overriding problem though, is that the encounter seeds are flavourless. They could belong in any D&D game. Only one has any Hael-specific flavour and that's mostly backstory that the PCs probably won't discover. This supplement is a wasted opportunity that could have been used to provide hooks into some of the setting's unique features, or give examples of how to use them. It's no use as a supplement for ?Welcome to Hael? and isn't good enough to function as a generic encounter book.

At the price I can't feel too ripped off, but I am disappointed. I doubt I'll get any use out of this pdf.


LIKED: One interesting and unusual monster.
One tactically interesting encounter.

DISLIKED: Download encumbered with two inexplicably huge jpeg maps, totalling over 4 meg.
No art.
No useful development of the world of Hael.
Lack of Hael-specific encounters.
Low density of information.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Encounters on HAEL - Volume 1
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Publisher Reply:
Dear Thomas, as much as I hate to say it, as the author, you are spot on - "Encounters" was trying to be too many things to too many people (part D&D, part Welcome to HAEL, and part Psihammer!). I hard lesson now learned. What I also didn't explain properly was that the maps were intended to be printed and used at scale (yeah, like everyone owns a colour plotter ; ) I'm glad you thought that you'd be able to scavenge something out of the wreckage - the "Crones" are definately a cool concept, especially for lower-mid level characters, and if you want to kick off a purely HAEL campaign there is a good set of story hooks there which I think was what you were refering to? I'm currently writing a major sourcebook for the 'Daemonia' line, also from Better Mousetrap, but after that I will be back to HAEL (so to speak) and future releases will be story-arc books called 'Warpacks', along the lines of what DreamPod9 did for HeavyGear! Thanks for the feedback.
Welcome to HAEL
by Thomas T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2006 00:00:00
So, orcs rule the world. Or rather, daeorcs do.

Apparently the orcs and gnolls that won the great war have since developed into more sophisticated (less monstrous) species'. I was worried that this would dilute the basic premise, with daerocs and yaena being humans and elves (or whatever) by another name. As it happens, they're fairly distinct races and while the orcs and gnolls that rule the world are a bit more human than I expected, it's enough of a twist to add interest.

Daeorc are proud and all about personal power, whether martial, political or sorcerous. Yaena are hyena-riding martial artists, artisans and storytellers. Humans, halflings and kirene (the four armed race pictured on the product page) are "the untamed races", driven into barbarism after the war. Though recently they've been granted rights by the daeorcs and yaena and are able to become regular members of society. So there's a split between "untamed" and "civilised" members of these races and even a few half-breeds walking around.

The major conflict in the setting is with the nuclarine, who crashed from the sky and have created an empire with their firespears and "spinners". They're slavers and the Yaena empire made an agreement to provide them with slaves in exchange for technology - an agreement which has divided the Yaena. All sorts of bad apples have flocked to the nuclarine and there's a second great war brewing. "The strangers" are also a high-tech people that fell from the sky. They're vaguely benevolent, but mysterious and few in number. Hael is designed to be used with the psihammer rules and psionics (the call-en) play a major role in the setting. Strangers are all psionic, as are a minority of untamed. Sorcerers are common amongst the daeorcs, while druids are spellcasters for the untamed. There are no wizards; all magic on Hael comes from within.

This pdf has an odd start, with only a vague introduction followed by a run down of the calender system of all things and then two NPC biographies - the viewpoint characters. Throughout the biographies and even in the meat of the book, there's a real problem with using terms before they're defined. This isn't a massive barrier to understanding, but a glossary or nutshell description of the setting at the start would have helped enormously.

The art's quality and style matches the kirene picture on the product page. It's infrequent but well used. The layout is straightforward 2-column with a very discreet background design and occasional margin boxes for trivia.. The pdf is very easy to read, even on a screen. The quality of the writing also helps, it's all clear and I didn't notice any grammatical or spelling errors.

There's little rules material, which was one of the selling points of this book for me. The races and new monsters are statted up and there's a couple of variant classes. Rules are given for the poisons that the kirene like to use, as well as Hael-specific equipment and gods. Unusually, the races have a lot of odd (as opposed to even) ability modifiers, making it easy to min-max them at chargen.

The scope of the pdf seems a little limited. Presumably the companion product ?Encounters on Hael? expands on things, providing more hooks and examples of how to use it in play. Based on the quality of this, I'll be buying ?encounters? shortly.


LIKED: *Novel concept, well executed.
*Clearly written, straightforward and uncluttered presentation.
*Excellent price for the amount of material.
*Close to the ideal depth of information; evocative rather than overwhelming detail.
*Tight focus, very few irrelevant details.
*Quality of art.

DISLIKED: *Lack of an overview or glossary.
*No advice on how to run an archetypical Haelish game
*Needed more plot and character hooks.
*The kirene seemed superfluous and underdeveloped.
*Not enough ?places to go? compared to ?people to be?.
*More art would have been nice, but I assume that would have affected the price.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Welcome to HAEL
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