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CAH:S3 -- Iron Wolves
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/16/2014 08:27:28
Based on a real, if short-lived, TV cartoon series of 1988 this product provides all the detail you need to run a series of adventures in space with transforming cybernetic cops chasing intergalactic robbers! What isn't there to love?

It starts by setting the scene for the campaign. In the year 2989 the human race has spread out to the stars. Unfortunately it's not all noble explorers and upright pioneers, some crooks are out there in the black as well. Most notably, an aggressive alien race of bee-people led by Queen Pin have caused a lot of bother... and when banged up in gaol, she escaped - along with assorted villains of various species. They've formed a loose alliance and gone on to wreak criminal mayhem on the galaxy! The characters will become part of the task force whose job is to see them all behind bars again.

Next there's a note about the cartoon conventions... including the interesting point that nobody seems to need an air supply or space suit when floating around in the vacuum of space! Notes on the galaxy follow, and then it is on to the main heroes of the series - Major 'Iron' Will Powers, the commander of the Iron Wolves, and Monkey Wrench, their chief mechanic. These will probably become NPCs, giving the characters orders and fixing their ships.

There are a selection of villains who will feature as opposition, and notes on primary locations that will become regular features. Three outline episodes are provided to give you a feel for the campaign and to get you started.

Then we move on to character generation, with notes on what sort of characters will be suitable for the campaign and what qualities and abilities they will need to have, including new rules for cybernetics. If you are impatient or want ideas there are sample characters provided.

It is very much an outline and will need some planning and preparation before you are ready to run, but all the ingredients are there for an entertaining campaign in true cartoon style!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CAH:S3 -- Iron Wolves
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CAH:S3 -- Dark Brigade
by Richard R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/06/2014 14:28:52
I enjoyed this and plan to delve deeper into this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAH:S3 -- Dark Brigade
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CAH:S3 -- Dark Brigade
by Chris M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/20/2014 00:11:33
Reading through this it takes my mind back to the after school cartoons of the 80's. It's G.I. Joe meets Blade. If only this had been a real cartoon from back in the day. Great Setting/Toon mashup and I can highly recommend it. Especially when you can choose your own price!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Big Crime: Death Kisses Coldly
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/17/2014 10:16:53
This is an interesting approach to a police prodcedural story told in film noir style, and really captures the essence well. Read through, you can see that film playing out in your mind's eye... yet it is laid out in such a way that doesn't completely railroad the characters into following a script but gives them freedom to make their own choices within the constraints of the plot.

More, it comes in two versions: the Theatrical Release and the Director's Cut. The first is designed for two players and a GM (Director, natch), with pre-generated characters who are tied closely into the plot. It would make an excellent one-off game if there's just 3 of you available to play.

As for the Director's Cut, this version is designed for groups who would rather play their own characters. The core concept is to give the characters the same motivations, the same background, as the pre-generated ones so that the story will work just as well. They should be the stars of the movie, the ones the story is all about. The ones who, in classic film noir style, are caught up in events beyond their control.

If you have more than two players, there are some other roles which they could be assigned - using their own characters if appropriate or one of the listed NPCs if preferred.

It's an intense, brooding little scenario. Which ever way you decide to run it, make sure that the characters are intimately involved, not bystanders looking in on the drama. It may be tempting to step back, taking the events as recounted as being something player-character cops (or reporters or the like) have to investigate, but the game won't be quite the same, it would lose the flavour of the genre that comes over when the player-characters are so intimately involved themselves.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Big Crime: Death Kisses Coldly
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The Big Crime
by Daniel S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2014 10:34:13
[disclaimer - I'm an online friend of one of the authors, though I purchased this game on my own, was not asked to review, nor received any compensation]

A great example of genre emulation. The game system is designed to closely emulate the genre. There's deliberately no rules for advancement which may be a sticking point for some, though examples of film noir tend not to have sequels and even if someone like Philip Marlowe appears in multiple films there is no attempt at continuity between them. Like many RPGs, adventures are intended to be broken into three acts though unlike most RPGs the rules ratchet up the level of danger from one act to the next.

Character stats are pretty straightforrward. You've got your shade (as in how dark a shade of grey you are), abilities, aspects (kinda like skills), temptations, and genre points. As well as special rules that allow you to do certain things based on your background.

There's specific rules for drama, action, and chase scenes, nicely emulating what you'll see on the screen. And there is tons of advice on how to play the game, both for players and GMs. All the rules are accompanied with relevant examples. Resolution is based on rolling a variable number of dice and trying to get matches. The better you are the lower the die type (which improves odds of a match). Various circumstances increase and decrease the number of dice you roll.

Only negative which might make this 4.5 instead of 5 stars is a lack of bookmarking in the pdf. Other than that rather fantastic. Great for one-shots or a series of noir adventures. (Though the rules to make the game more dangerous as the "film" transitions from one act to another - so the protagonists all will not likely make it from one adventure to the next).

More complete review at my blog - http://19thlevel.blogspot.com/2014/03/rpg-review-big-crime.h-
tml

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Big Crime
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Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul
by William W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/03/2014 14:42:41
I haven't been as impressed with a roleplaying game as I was with Capes, Cowls, and Villains Foul (hereafter referred to as CCaVF) in a very long time. It's a really open-ended, flexible, system that is simple, easy to learn, and easier to play. There have been several rules-light Supers games in recent years like Icons, BASH, Supers!, and Truth & Justice. CCaVF beats all of those games for me.

Character Creation is largely based around defining your own character with TRAITS which work in a very similar manner to Qualities in Truth & Justice or a bit like aspects in FATE and can range from "As Strong As 100 Men" to "Crown Prince of the Planet Trobb" or anything you can imagine. While CCaVF does rate character traits by number, it seeks to emulate comics narrative style rather than simulate it. If you're the sort of player who likes crunch like in Hero System/Champions, CCaVF is probably not for you. However, if you're open to a more abstract system able to recreate the types of narratives seen in comic books without a lot of crunch or the fiddly bits then you can hardly do better than CCaVF.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul
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Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 rulebook
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/11/2013 07:55:49
Cartoon Action Hour takes all my Nostalgia and condenses it into a single book. What's better is that they do it with style. I've heard of CAH before, but it's only now that I've had a chance to go over the book. The systems are clever and genre-appropriate, and there's plenty of room to get creative while retaining the feel of a good 80's cartoon. While the art could still have been improved, I feel that the pieces that were commissioned for the book convey the mood and tone of the era well enough, and I found the formatting of the character sheets to be a nice touch.

If you've ever had an urge to run an 80's cartoon game, then this is definitely on your must-buy list.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 rulebook
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Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 rulebook
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/09/2013 20:20:09
I just got my pdf of Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 thanks to pledging in their Kickstarter.

This one was a no-brainer for me. I loved CAH:S2 and have really enjoyed all of Spectrum Games products to date.

How does CAH:S3 stack up? In an 80's word, Awesome!

CAH:S3 takes us back to the 80s Saturday morning (and week day afternoon) cartoons AND the toys that were so linked to them. But I am getting ahead of myself.

And while I am still ahead of myself this game has the most awesome character sheet EVER!

Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 (CAH:S3) is a game about cartoon and toy emulation. Specially 80s cartoons and toy emulation. So there are some things that a given out of the box. You won't see any deaths. Violence happens in terms of gun fire, explosions and maybe a fist fight, but you won't see people getting hurt. There is a moral or message to every "episode" and the bad guy is going to get away in the end only to be back next time like nothing happened.

The book, like Season 2, is divided into "Channels". Channel 1 is the intro material, Channel 2 is the game system, Channel 3 is series creation (potentially more important than the characters themselves), Channel 4 is all about the Players, Channel 5 is the Game Master's section and finally we have an Appendix.

Channel 1 is the simple introductory material, but more over there is a great overview of how these cartoons (and this game) worked. There is a logic at work here in these and to get the most out of this game it is one you should follow. The best feature of this Channel is of course the overview of the 80s cartoons. It's not a laundry list of every toon, but a selective "bibliography" and must see TV.

Channel 2 covers the game system itself. In many games this is the Character creation chapter, but since character creation and series creation are so closely tied together we will discuss the system first. The game is made up of a Series (the game), Seasons (a campaign), Episodes and Scenes. Characters are PCs and GMC (Game Master Characters). A Season for example is made up of 6 Episodes. I might stick with my more familiar 12 and allow a mid-season break. Why is this important? At season breaks is when you can improve your character or change it all together.

Characters are made up of Traits and Qualities. Traits are something definitive about the character like "Strongest Man in World" or "Sneaky Thief" or "Leader of the Decipti-bots". Stuff like that. Qualities are more quantifiable and are measured based on how powerful your series is. Characters can also be ranked in terms of their Star Power. Stars (and PCs) have the highest at 3, your nameless, faceless goon has 1. If there is only one star, then they are Star Power 4.

Oomph is the power-, hero- or drama point mechanic. Collect "Proofs of Purchase" to get more Oomph!
It is equal to your Star Power but changes through out the game.

The basic mechanic of the game is the Check.
Traits and Qualities (and Oomph) add to the dice rolls on a Check.

Characters may not die, but they can loose an important scene. For that there are Setback Tokens. These Crucial Checks are usually the ones right before a commercial break or even worse, the ones at the end of an episode and continued next time (granted there were not a lot of those, but GI Joe first season comes to mind). Gain more Setbacks than your Star Power and you are out of the scene.

Season 3 has something new in it, or at least something I don't recall from Season 2. Gestalts. This allows you to combine powers, bodies or whatever into something greater. Think Voltron or some Transformers.

I think one of the rules I like the most here is "The Movie" which allows you, within the game, to throw out some of conceits of the game. So in this characters can die! Bad guys hit their targets! Mechanically you get more Oomph and damage and Setback tokens are not removed as often (no commercials after all) the risks are higher but characters that make it out gain experience and can be changed. Think "The Transformers Movie" from 1986.

Channel 3 covers Series Creation. Wait, where is Character creation you ask? Well it's here too. Series and Characters are created together. You can't have GI Joe without the Joes or Transformers without the Autobots. First this is create a Series guideline. First figure out what your series in named and it's tagline. So the example I used last time was The Hex Girls with the tagline "We'll put a spell on you!". Next up figure out the details of the series. Tech level, twists, genre. What is your elevator pitch on this. "Modern Earth, magic is real, but no one believes in it. Characters are supernaturals and try to lead normal lives." Something like that, only more detail. The newest feature of the series creation is the Dial. Dials tell you the levels of the game. How comedic is it? How realistic? What's the violence?

Now we get into character creation.
Characters are ranked as either human, superhuman or cosmic. The GM will decide, based on the series, on what traits can't be used, or limits on the traits and other details before the characters are made. So as an example a series about wizard kids must all have a trait "Wizard" at 3 or better, but no technology-based traits.
After that character creation is a breeze.
There are some special abilities and then we discuss GMC (Game Master Characters). They are created much the same way, only less details. Some templates such as goons and Master Villains are presented.
Playsets are where the action takes place and they are created in a similar way.

http://www.spectrum-games.com/uploads/1/2/3/7/12374018/c-
ah_bio-file.pdf
How cool is this sheet?
Character advancement is handled next. Among the obvious places for advancement you can also put in points to the playset to upgrade your base. So something like in Season 2 getting a new super smart computer in the base or a new book of spells.

We end with 8 series ideas.

Channel 4 covers advice to the Players. A game like CAH requires a lot of buy in from the players. You can't go into it like you do other games. This is not "Dungeons & Dragons" this is the "Dungeons & Dragons cartoon". So the players have to go in with the right frame of mind. You want your game to be like the first season of G.I. Joe where everyone worked together, not the seasons that featured (and were dominated by) Sgt. Slaughter.

Channel 5 has similar advice for the Game Master. Again emphasis here is placed on cartoon logic, and creating a fun series and episode. Don't forget the "And Now You Know" messages at the end! That's not a bug, it's a feature of the game.

In the end what we have is a crazy fun game again. If you were a kid in the 80s and watched any cartoons then there is something here for you. It is also a great change of pace from all the other games I play. This game focuses on having fun as well as being fun.

There are no conversions for CAH:S2 here. But the conversions look simple to be honest. Enough that I feel fine moving characters from one to the next with little to no effort.

Character Creation is much improved in this edition and much more streamlined. Series creation is about the same, but it was just right in the last version.

Looking forward to doing a lot more with this one!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RPZ -- A Universal Zombie RPG Add-On
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2013 07:46:16
This is an interesting addition to the game mechanics of just about any ruleset that you happen to be using, to introduce and handle the 'scary' elements that are the hallmark of the classic zombie movie. It will work even if you are playing a game which already incorporates zombies as monsters, even one which is actually about zombies, because it is ultimately a tool to add uncertainty, suspense and the feeling that there's something bad going on...

Ideal for GMs who like messing with their players' heads, and those who like to tinker with rulesets to create precisely the effect they are after - yet it's simple to implement without adding complexity to your game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RPZ -- A Universal Zombie RPG Add-On
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Gallery of Evil (CC&VF Version)
by Jeffrey C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2013 12:10:30
The quality of the product from a presentation standpoint is great but the content is extremely poor. I would not use any of it in my campaign for any reason and truly regret purchasing it.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Gallery of Evil (CC&VF Version)
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Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2 Playset (FREE demo version)
by Victor B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2013 13:43:49
Excellent game that captures the feel of 1980s cartoons

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2 Playset (FREE demo version)
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Tacky, Tawdry and Tasteless: the Reality Show RPG
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/06/2013 15:25:18
A great game that comes in at just under 10 pages. Spectrum Games has made a name for themselves in Genre Emulation. Since Reality TV is often criticized as not needing any writers, the game brilliantly is equally as brief. Foregoing the typical "this is an RPG" section, the game gets right into the various types of reality TV shows are discussed. Once your group decides what sort of game they are going to do (or maybe your Director has decided for you) and then you go!
You then need to make your character. You figure out your name and stereotype then roll your stats. Figure out your positive and negative qualities and you are good to go! Like other Spectrum Games these qualities are not listed; instead you decide what they need to be. Typically these are needed to point out some character flaw your character has.
For rules, the only checks are ability checks (roll under, apply qualities as needed) and dramatic checks.
You also get "Edit Tokens" which work a lot like Drama Points. Tokens are awarded for good roleplaying and Sticking to Genre. You can also spend your tokens to change what is going on; such a "Oh No You Dit'unt!" and "I Ain't Goin' Nowhere!".
The basic structure of a game is also laid out, including Commercial Breaks. These can affect the Shows "Popularity" this can affect the amount of Edit Tokens the players can get.

The game is fast and is great for a like minded group. Given the nature of reality TV you could have enough material here for several "episodes" of material.

Personally I'd like to try it out sometime with people bringing in characters from any game and do a reality "TV Show" where all these characters have to live together in a house in between their normal adventures.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tacky, Tawdry and Tasteless: the Reality Show RPG
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Slasher Flick: The Director's Cut
by Tim K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/29/2013 15:22:04
For this game, players take the role of protagonists in a slasher flick. Each character has four stats, rated Poor, Normal, and Good. These stats are:
Brawn: Strength and toughness. Finesse: Agility, coordination, speed, and reflexes.
Brains: Intelligence, perception and knowledge. Spirit: Willpower, Charisma, Leadership, and luck.
Characters also have positive qualities (such as “fast runner”) and negative qualities (such as “day dreamer.”) A positive quality adds an extra die to a roll; a negative quality subtracts a die. Some characters have special abilities like “Dumb Luck” or “Scream Queen”, which have special effects when used. Players create their own primary characters, and then work together to create multiple secondary characters (how many depends upon the needs of the flick.) If a player’s primary character isn’t involved in a scene, he may be able to play one of the secondary characters.
Task resolution: The player rolls 4 dice of the appropriate type based upon the stat used to perform the action: d6 for a Good stat, d8 for a Normal stat, and d10 for a poor stat. One die is added if the character has an appropriate positive quality, and subtracted if the player has an applicable negative quality. The Director (GM) may also add a die for really easy tasks, or subtract a die for really hard tasks, so a player can roll as few as 2 dice, or as many as 6. In most cases, rolling any doubles means a success.
The freak out check: The Director can call for a freak out check whenever a character sees anything scary. This is a Spirit check. If the player fails, the Director can have the character freak out and do something irrational.
The Kill Scene: This happens whenever one or more characters encounter the killer. Step One: The initiative roll. The player (or one of the players) rolls a Finesse check. If he makes it, he has initiative, and can opt to either declare his actions first, or have the Director declare the killer’s actions first. Rolls during the kill scene: As per other tasks resolution rolls, the player declares an action, then rolls the appropriate number of dice. For each “match” a player gets (other than 1s), he earns 1 survival point. Each matching “Topper” (the maximum number for that die type), earns the character 1 survival point plus 1-3 bonus survival points. If a player rolls 4 matching toppers, the scene ends favorably for his character. If a roll generates no matches (other than 1s), the player’s character loses 1-3 survival points plus an additional point for every 1 rolled. Primary characters ignore the first loss of survival points. If the character’s survival point total reaches a certain number (usually 8), he is safe—for this scene. If a character’s survival point total falls below zero, or the player rolls all 1s, the scene ends unfavorably for the character—usually in a gory death. If multiple characters are involved in a kill scene, it is up to the Director to decide if the scene continues for the remaining characters after one is killed or earns enough points to survive.
The Killer: The killer is created and controlled by the Director and doesn’t have normal stats—although the Director can give a killer advantages and drawbacks called components. Killing the Killer (at least until the sequel): At the start of the flick (adventure) the killer is invigorated, and will stay that way until a certain number of characters are killed, then he becomes exerted. An invigorated killer receives a damage token every time a player rolls at least 3 matching toppers on a crucial check (a check that can gain or lose survival points for the character) during a kill scene. An exerted killer receives a damage token every time a player rolls at least 2 matching toppers on a crucial check during a kill scene. Each killer requires a pre-set number of damage tokens to vanquish—usually 3.
The game rewards players for taking genre-appropriate (usually foolish or risky) actions by giving them genre points, which can be used in various ways to increase their chances of survival.
A fun game if you like slasher movies and can get past the fact that your character’s chances of survival are slim.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slasher Flick: The Director's Cut
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Gallery of Evil (CC&VF Version)
by Antonio M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2013 20:33:36
A story is only as good as its villain.

Gallery of Evil is all about enriching your world with an impressive array of villains. It gives you what you need to make your Issues memorable, a good array of menaces to make your heroes quake in terror and sweat trying to stop their mischievous plans.

Chapter 1 is a small section of additional rules to use with the villains of this book or any other character in the Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul system. It is very helpful and sets the stage for the rest of the book.

Chapter 2 lists solo villains, from street level crooks, to galactic menaces. I honestly think it is a good selection of adversaries for the heroes in your Issues. For each character you can find Traits, Complications, Factoids and Miscellaneous. The chapter also provides you with some tips on how to play each villain, the character’s background and, to top the cake, some Issue ideas that use that particular villain.

Chapter 3 is all about teamwork. There are four full super-villain groups and a duo of mercenaries, all with the same set of stats as the solo characters. Issue Ideas for each group are included and every good Editor could easily make any member of a team an individual menace.

Chapter 4 presents a new complete Issue Editors can use in their game sessions. It uses some of the characters of the book and it has the potential of becoming a very interesting campaign for your group of heroes.

As a bonus, there is a really special villain after Chapter 4. I will not spoil it for you, but it was a delightful surprise for me.

I really liked the variety in the adversaries listed in this book and the winks for comic book lovers that you can find in some of the characters. A word of warning: some of the villains in this volume are on the campy/humoristic side of the superhero world. It did not bother me, but some may be put off by this. There is enough information in this book to make even the quirkiest of villains the most feared menace in your imaginary universe (Has anyone heard of The Joker...?).

Gallery of Evil meets the expectation that the Kickstarter campaign created. It is all it promises and more. If you need villains for your Issues, or if you simply like reading about characters to spark your imagination, you should get this book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gallery of Evil (CC&VF Version)
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Tacky, Tawdry and Tasteless: the Reality Show RPG
by Bryan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2013 12:48:44
Well to start I should mention I have done freelance for Spectrum writing Going Japanese, so I do have a positive bias toward the company

That being said I do like this game as a parody of Reality TV. It has a very simple system and is focused on doing the game a very good at doing the very worst of Reality TV with all the drama and forcing things to look very dark and dramatic for the tv series. This includes focusing on popularity of the TV series and encouraging players and GM to back stab each other and have plenty of blow ups on TV and of course do product placements and commercial breaks!

The only places their are weaknesses is for the less trashy versions of reality TV (I like Pawn Stars and while it does do the dramatic stuff, that always ends in a joke instead of high ere, low drama) or Talent show style series. But the game is about the worst of the genre and not the high points so I say good job for April Fools game!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tacky, Tawdry and Tasteless: the Reality Show RPG
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