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Racial Ecologies: Living Dolls
Racial Ecologies: Living Dolls
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Happilyeverafter
by Bob H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2013 20:44:22
Fair Tale characters in a noir 1940's Vegas . I for one like that indeed enough information contained within to act as a springboard for much more adventures .

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Happilyeverafter
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Edison Force
by Matt B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2013 20:45:42
Edison Force presents a cool, adventurous setting that is an alternate to the standard Victorian-era "steam-punk" genre. Set in the Edwardian era, it's more "electro-punk" than "steam," with heroes battling giant robots using electrical rifles and aeroplanes.

Note: I bought the Edison Force PDF and POD copy. This review is based on the PDF.

Edison Force is a tightly packed 37 pages from stem to stern.

Contents consist of cover (1 pg), credits (1 pg), table of contents (1 pg), introductory story (1 pg), setting (4 pgs, including 1908 timeline), character creation (3 pgs), sample characters (1 pg, including Edison himself and three PCs), resources/equipment (3 pgs), vehicle rules (2 pgs, including three sample vehicles), GM section (4 pgs, including four possible evil geniuses and their stats: Luther Burbank, Marie Curie, Robert Goddard and .... Nicola Tesla!), sample adventure (13 pgs, Edison Force vs. the Martians), reference/inspirational material (1 pg), charcter sheet (1 pg and it's pretty cool) and an advert for Hobomancer (1 pg).

The layout is clean and easily readable. I appreciate the page numbers superimposed on Edison lightbulbs at the bottom of each page. The mass'o'gears borders are a nice touch for side-bars, timelines and character stat blocks. There are less than a half-dozen illustrations scattered throughout the text and their quality varies.

The cover is a fairly good illustration of Edison, holding a robotic hand, surrounded by members of his team: a boy genius, an Annie Oakley-esque woman sharpshooter, a big guy with what appears to be an electric mace and robotic glove, and a pilot with hat and goggles holding a mechanically-enhanced hawk. It reminds me of the style of Rick Geary.

The Introduction sets the feel of the game, heroic action and a nemesis defeated, without spending too much of the text on it. I'm happy it's short and to the point, so it is well-written enough for my tastes. Though the sentence "Lee turned a strange-looking rifle attached by a cable to his backpack towards the wicked machine" was the most stand-out clunky one in the story.

The Setting provides the basics and it well written. It starts with the 1907 invasion of south western Florida by technologically-advanced Marshovians, using Gatling guns, flame-throwers and a tank, all supplied by the mysterious Master. The baddies are defeated by the combined efforts of Edison's inventions and Henry Ford's vehicles.

A month later, President Roosevelt calls on Edison to create Edison Force to further combat any threats to America and the world by The Master. A nice touch was Roosevelt using this incident as the reason for The Great White Fleet's trip around the world.

The 1908 timeline gives some great events like the 1908 New York to Paris car race (the film The Great Race was inspired by this race), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's supposed death in Bolivia, and the Tunguska Event. If you can't look at this timeline and create a series of adventures based off of these events, you're losing your GM props.

A section on the world and Menlo Park is also included. There's a short aside on Edison and Tesla (and that Tesla was never proven to be The Master). In addition to the timeline, I came up with a half-dozen adventure ideas from the Setting text alone.

The Character Creation section was straight-forward, giving great ideas specifically for QAGS 2nd edition but written in a way that easily applies to other game systems. Fifteen archetypes are discussed and sample gimmicks, jobs, skill and weaknesses are provided. Characters also have a piece of signature equipment, that may or may not be Edisontech, which I thought was a nice touch.

As someone slightly knowledgeable about QAGS 2nd edition (I've yet to play the system), I found the rules understandable. I'm still not sure whether I'll use the game as written or my go-to game, Savage Worlds, but I thought up a few character concepts from the archetypes and attributes presented. The stat blocks of Edison and the three PCs were well done, and in the case of Edison, didn't pull any punches as to his "quirky" nature.

The Edison Force Resources section covered electric guns (of course!), electric trains and other vehicles, and communication. The best bit about this section is that the QAGS 2nd rules are minimal, so translating specifics to your favorite system presents few problems. There's even a side-bar on making up your own Edisontech.

The Vehicles section is much like the Character Creation section. The rules are fairly similar to character creation, so it seemed to me a way to make a robotic vehicle character, if modified enough. I'll have to mull that a bit more.

The GMing Edison Force section presents four diabolical geniuses, Luther Burbank, Marie Curie, Robert Goddard and Nicola Tesla. Each genius has a short history and a character stat block. This section alone is my favorite since there are many adventure possibilities. Other, fictional or real, diabolical geniuses are easily incorporated into the game, so don't take these four as an end but a beginning.

And, although the setting clearly states that Tesla is The Master, a clever GM can eschew that option and instead use the other three in a myriad of ways so that the blame falls on an innocent Tesla! He makes the perfect "fall guy" for whoever the real Master is!

Unfortunately, the sample adventure, Edison Force vs. the Martians, takes up 13 pages, fully a third of the text. I would have much preferred an adventure at half that size or less (removing the main Martian base), with the remaining pages used to further flesh out the Setting, Edison Force Resources and GMing Edison Force sections.

However, with that said, the adventure is pretty good. It provides some excellent NPCs, some historical (Perceval Lowell). The adventure starts with reports of giant robots in Arizona. Once there, the characters travel into the wilds and observe several Martian war machines, following them back to a training base. Clues in that base point them to a larger Martian base near Flagstaff. Venusian agents, Martian warriors and Edison Force mix it up, in a finale that could lead to The War of the Worlds!

In addition to NPC histories and stat blocks, and info on the Martian war machines, there is also a 1 page addendum to the Edison Force timeline. It proves to be a handy bit of information that I recommend repeating for any future adventures GMs come up with.

The remaining three pages of the text are the Inspirational Materials, the character sheet and the Hobomancer advert. I plan on checking out the reference texts listed on that page, as I'm sure my local library as some in their system. (I'm not sure how I feel about the whole Hobomancer concept as an RPG, so I'll ignore the advert for now.)

But I must say that the character sheet is beautiful, invoking the right mix of Edison Force feel (attributes are recorded in Edison lightbulbs!) and readability. Compared to the standard QAGS 2nd edition character sheet, this is the obvious winner for style and appearance.

On the whole, I am pleased with the purchase and, as I mentioned, while I would have been happier with a shorter adventure and more on the setting material, I think that this is a game that I'll run, hopefully soon, for one of my game groups.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Edison Force
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Rocket Jocks
by patrick m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2013 21:30:30
This game was a lot of fun to play. We even ran a small 4 session campaign and enjoyed every minute.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rocket Jocks
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Hobomancer First Session Actual Play
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2013 20:03:56
I'm really glad I got this and listened to it. It was like being in the room for that amazing inaugural game of Hobomancer. It was even more fun to listen to it while reading the preview of Hobomancer available on this site.
Vengeance is sweet, but poetic justice is so much better!
Our heroes find their way to a perfectly clean town, and they instinctively know that something is desperately wrong.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hobomancer First Session Actual Play
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Hobomancer Preview
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/20/2013 00:07:22
A really neat preview you could just almost run the game with! The notes on the cultural significance of the Hobos of the 1930s and their place in the American psyche alongside Pirates, Cowboys, Knights and Ninjas is a really insightful look at the whole idea of the traveling independent and the American dream. I love the way this was written, and I think it just might sneak its way unobtrusively on my table.

The Qags system is not complicated beyond a couple more stat words to bring the men of the rails to life, and a bit of a magic system. The background fluff fits together well and holds up to my tired scrutiny anyway. The opening comic sets up the whole feel of the book, and the story in bits and pieces throughout of a Hobomancer's introduction and initiation makes me want to read the novel.

I can really see why this got an Ennie nomination!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hobomancer Preview
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QAGS Second Edition
by David R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2013 14:00:47
Witty and sharp, and everything it purports to be. QAGS is for those who don't want to be bogged down with complex mechanics, endless tables, charts, or lists, or any of that other impedimentia.

If you want straight-ahead gaming at a fast pace without all that unnecessary detail, give QAGS a try.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
QAGS Second Edition
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Aces & Apes
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/30/2013 10:43:11
So, a game of World War I flying aces, with the key ingredient that's been lacking from other aerial combat games: intelligent apes... now, I cannot say that I've ever felt the lack of apes, intelligent or otherwise, in any aerial combat game I've played but... now I've read this, there's a certained warped corner of my mind that sees that they could be an asset!

The premise is simple. Back in the 17th and 18th century, human explorers from Europe found civilisations in distant jungles built not by primitive men but by apes. Urang utans swarming over the Indies. Chimpanzees in West Africa. The apes took advantage of the encounters every much as humans did, and by the beginning of the 20th century, they lived in the west enjoying all the benefits of civilisation in harmony with their hairless cousins, human beings. Five ape species have stepped up to take their place in society: Orangutans, Gorillas, Bili Apes, Chimpanzees and Bonobos.

After this swift yet comprehensive history we move on to Character Creation, which uses the QAGS ruleset (which you will need to make the most of this game). Characters may be humans or one of the ape species and details of the 'ape modifier' that you apply to any ape character are spelled out here. Given the original premise of the game, characters are intended to be pilots... but there is plenty of material if you intend a more general early 20th-century alternate history game where aerial action is not quite so important.

The next section discusses the Great War, weaving actual and alternate history into a seamless whole to set the scene for the game. Positing a date of 1916 when combat had settled into trench warfare with biplanes buzzing about overhead, the next section looks at the Flying Squadrons and how aerial combat was conducted. Aircraft, the nascent art of war in the air, even uniforms and squadron life are covered. The section ends with game details for several different aircraft.

And then... Flying Monkeys. It doesn't matter if you are human or ape, you need to be aware of certain details - and the rules that will model them. The effects of altitude, even frostbite, must be survived. A system for aerial combat itself is then presented, which a few die rolls and prangs later can be reported to be mostly workable, although a knack for abstracting and presenting the combat in narrative form improves things greatly. It's not about rolling dice, it's about adventure and derring-do, after all!

Finally some notes on the sort of adventure that ought to work well are followed by a fully-developed one, Masque of the Black Death. There's plenty there to get a good flavour of the game. A whole raft of appendices deal with the timeline of the alternate history, pre-1916 aircraft, the major nations, other theatres of war, speaking ape (common ape slang), a Great War glossary and (of course) some dumb tables to exercise your die-rolling skills upon. There's even a page of Inspirations, a GM cheat sheet and a character sheet - everything you need, really.

All jolly good fun, what? Gentlemen, gentleapes, start your engines!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aces & Apes
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Magic Rules!
by Ryan Q. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2013 14:19:40
The only product I've seen from Hex Games prior to this book was QAGS, but the two are worlds apart. QAGS is a silly if well-constructed system for rapid, rules-light role-play. Magic rules is a comprehensive, in depth look at a fluid and infinitely adaptable magic system for any style of play. If you are looking for a magic supplement to any Hex Games product, this book is for you. If you want a solid resource for modifying the magic system of any other game, Magic Rules has something for you too.

For the low price of "free" there's really no reason not to look it over!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Magic Rules!
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Tell Me About Your Character
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/25/2013 10:47:13
Preaching to the converted here: for me role-playing is all about creating an altenate reality and populating it with believable characters that 'come alive' within the context of that shared alternate reality... and so of course I applaud any effort to make that task easier.

Some of it seems banal, and I do question the wisdom of suggesting that you answer questions about the character you are creating out-of-character rather than in-character. If nothing else, when I'm creating a character the easiest way for me to find out what he's like beyond numbers in a stat block is to channel him and find out what he's got to say. It can also be regarded as an on-going process, I often get to know a character properly as I play him, rather than have him spring to life fully-formed from the outset.

However, the concept of using a string of questions to ferret out what a character is like as a person is sound; and the questions chosen do a good job of empowering you to look at some of the fundamental things that make him tick.

Then things get a bit tangled, as there is a section - which SHOULD stay out-of-character - about what you, as a player, are looking for from the game for which you are preparing the character. Useful information for the GM, to be sure, but something to keep apart from who that character is and what he is like.

Ultimately, the more you know about your character, the better you will be able to play him. Try to internalise as much as possible - when your instinctive response turns out, when you think about it later, to be bound up in the personality and background you've devised for him, you'll know you're getting it right.

A useful little tool to help you think about who 'you' are in the shared alternate reality you are about to inhabit.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tell Me About Your Character
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Spy Racers
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/25/2013 07:23:38
Whether you want to run something only slightly more realistic than the Whacky Races using the QAGS ruleset or intend to retool this excellent concept for a real-world interpretation of international spies, there is a wealth of ideas and materials here.

After a brief introduction which sets the scene with a bit of flavour fiction and makes the assumption that you want to play a game set in the 1960s, it dives straight in. Chapter 1 develops a background based on the fictional Global Racing Group which organises international races and has some very interesting ulterior motives (which characters may never become aware of, depending on how you decide to run your game).

Next, Chapter 2 takes a look at 'real world' racing of the 1960s, with a brief mention of some things that didn't happen then for those of you who weren't around at the time. Then Chapter 3 looks at the sort of characters that might play a role in this game, concentrating mainly on actual drivers and replete with sample characters, and Chapter 4 covers vehicles and the rules necessary for running your races - useful if you intend this as a standalone QAGS game or are using the spy 'core' book Sex, Lies and Ultraspies. (If you are using a different ruleset, you may prefer the chase rules presented there instead: Spycraft 2.0 has particularly good chase rules, for example, and the rest of that game is quite compatible with the tongue-in-cheek approach of this book.)

The final section of the book is a full-blown adventure, Who Killed Team Unity? This is primarily centred around a race but whilst that's the main focus (until the climax, that is...) there are a few side bits that take it beyond that and will provide scope for future adventures both on and off the race track. An appendix-full of suitable pregenerated characters are provided if you want to jump straight in, or you may prefer to come up with your own.

Overall, Spy Racers is a brilliant core concept for a spy/adventure campaign, and it's open to you to play it as presented or go for a more realistic (or at least, thriller-style) interpretation. I can see it working with Spycraft or Night's Black Agents, or even if preferred with a superhero game. Lots to think about, to inspire you even if you don't play QAGS (why not, it's a fun game... even if you also like more realism in your alternate reality most of the time).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spy Racers
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The Book of Dumb Tables 2
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/28/2013 05:16:29
If seriously out of ideas or in search of something completely and wierdly different, you might want to take a look at this... cautiously. Some of it almost makes sense, or could at least get your creative juices flowing.

Other bits do live up to the title of being 'dumb' tables. And unless you are good at movie trivia, especially actors taken out of context of the characters they've played, you'll find yourself doing a bit of research to find out what you actually rolled up anyway. (Or put it another way, I haven't even heard of most of the actors mentioned...)

It's all quite entertaining, though, and quite enjoyable to wonder what would happen if you did write an adventure based around random rolls on the tables in this product...

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Dumb Tables 2
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Hobomancer
by mark k. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/30/2012 20:28:54
It's true that I'm a little biased when it comes to Hex Games products, since I know several staff members on a personal basis, and I've been running Hex Games events at conventions for several years now. Having said that, I picked up “Hobomancer” last week.

I know how much time and effort went into this product, and the meticulous nature of the background and research within the supplement shines bright. Hex Games has gone above and beyond in this project, and delivers a unique and interesting setting that is unlike anything else I've ever played.

If you're like me, you have little understanding about hobos in general, but the rich detail of information about life on the rails in this supplement sets the player up perfectly to jump right into the world of Hobomancer. The Hex Games staff does a fantastic job of capturing “the spirit of the times” and blends it well with the fantastical magical world they've created. This is probably the deepest supplement the staff has completed to date, as it is full of information and goodies for players and G.M.s alike. Hobomancer has the unique quality of blending reality with fantasy just enough to make it plausible.

If you're a fan of Hex Games, or just one of the masses looking for “something different” to play, Hobomancer is the supplement for you.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hobomancer
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QAGS Second Edition
by Ricardo N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2012 18:16:34
QAGS is a simple and flexible game system. As the authors put it, it is aimed at modeling fiction, so the focus is on character interaction and narrative, rather than simulation. This puts it apart from some other generic RPG systems.

The first four book chapters (28 pages) contain all of the game rules. The rest of the book contains player and GM advice, which is a necessity to make a generic game system accessible to those with less experience with RPGs. There are also useful chapters on modeling different game settings with the rules. The text is written in a conversational, humorous style that is easy to read.

Characters are defined by three fixed, catch-all attributes and at least three freeform ones. This gives a lot of flexibility to create different character concepts. On the other hand, it may require some discussion between players and game master.

There is a uniform resolution mechanic for all actions in the game, with only a slight variation for opposed and unopposed actions. This helps making the rules simple and easy to learn and is coherent with the focus on story instead of number-crunching.

Although there are rules for character advancement, I feel that the game system is better suited for one-shots or short campaigns, where it won't really matter. Still, I'd have to play more to be sure.

All things considered, it was a good purchase.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
QAGS Second Edition
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Deep Space Rescue
by russ b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/29/2012 17:41:16
This is a good little SF adventure for QAGS that is a tad more serious than most QAGS products, but is still fairly lighthearted and very much space opera. It does a decent job setting up a background for the adventure, and it's a shame that QAGS never followed up on it.

It also has the best cover art of any QAGS product by far.

The adventure itself, while again very much meant for fast and simple play, could be adapted to many SFRPGs, even traveller, if one were so inclined.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Space Rescue
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QAGS Second Edition
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/19/2012 13:16:54
It is the acronym for Quick Ass Game System, and that is pretty accurate. What is QAGS or more to the point why is there a QAGS?

Well QAGS grew out of the same need that gave us Fudge, Fate and GURPS and even d20.

QAGS though is a little looser than GURPS, but not quite as loose and Fudge or FATE.
QAGS is nice because it works well as an entry to Role-playing that is not a kids game (by no means is this one for kids!) and it can be used by the old pros out there. Yums-Yums aside of course!

Chapter 1 then is all about Character Creation. What I like about QAGS are such things as the descriptors of your character. In fact they are not even called abilities but "Words". So there is much more of a author feel to this than say character creation. You describe your character in terms of these Words, such as Body, Brain, and Nerve as the base ones, and others like Job, Gimmick and Weakness. I also like the tacit nod to "Who Will Play the Character in the Movie" which is something everyone does anyway. I snarkily always say "Gary Oldman" cause he can play anything and anyone. Like with other games I have played, there is something to learn here. This chapter could help you define who your character is regardless of what game you play.

Chapter 2 is Doing Stuff or how to play. The system is pretty simple really. Words are given a value of 6 to 16 and skills can add up to 5 to these. These numbers then become the target numbers.
Chapter 3 expands on this with Combat.

Chapter 4 is the most entertaining, Yum-Yums. What are Yum-Yums? They are pieces of candy that are character rewards. They are points on your sheet, but they are also a pile of M&Ms or other candy in front of you. They are used like Drama or Hero points in other games, but if you eat them all well then your are literally out of luck.

Chapter 5 is a bit about role-playing your character. Making them more than a concept and stats on a page of paper.

After this we have the GM (Game Master's) section. Chapter 6 covers the basics of being a GM along with the rules and what you can do with your new found power over life and death. Chapter 8 goes into the Fine Art of GMing.

Chapter 7 deals with the story you are trying to create.

The Appendices are rather nice. The first one is a Big List of Words used to describe your character. Which seems to me would have utility in a Fate or Fudge game as well.

Appendix 2 is the quick start rules. 1/2 a page. They got the Quick part right. So quick in fact it is "Qik" start.
Appendix 3 is the section of Genres. Each one gets a page and covers the basics.
Appendix 4 is a collection of sample characters.
Appendix 5 is a list of creatures
Appendix 6 includes some equipment
Appendices 7 & 8 are sample adventures
Appendices 9 & 10 are dumb maps and dumb tables respectively
And 11 is a conversion from QAGS 1st Ed.
Finally ending with a character sheet. The first I have seen that lists Social Security Number.

QAGS is fun, but it might be too silly for groups. Or it might be perfect if the GM opts to play it straight.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
QAGS Second Edition
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Tell Me About Your Character

01.Tell Me About Your Character
02.QAGS Second Edition
03.American Artifacts 2
04.American Artifacts
05.Edison Force
06.Hobomancer
07.Gilgamesh!
08.Funkadelic Frankenstein on the Mean Streets of Monstertown
09.Leopard Women of Venus
10.All-Stars: A Game of Low-Budget Superheroics
11.Rocket Jocks
12.Sex, Lies and Ultraspies
13.Hobomancer Companion
14.Aces & Apes
15.Sharktoberfest
 
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