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CthulhuTech V2: The Shadow War Open Beta
by Stephanie K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2016 21:53:15

Hello Wildfire. I do hope you read these reviews and take heed of them, because the following are not only my personal opinions as a fan of CthulhuTech, but my professional opinions as a writer and game designer.


First of all let me say it was really hard to give this an in-betweener rating. My first impulse is to rate Good. I love CthulhuTech. I have loved it ever since I was first introduced to it many years ago, and I probably will continue to do so no matter how this project goes. But the game is not without its problems, and some of them are glaring. I'm going to address the negative first, then the positive so that we can end on a high note.


Need of a Third Party Editor


This can be expensive, but in regards to this book - and honestly, the books that came before it - the project is in desperate need of some professional editing. Not just for typos and paragraph layout (I understand this is not the final product), but the formatting of the book is all over the place. Even at the point of still being in beta, there should be some sort of framwork in place that helps the information flow naturally from one aspect to the other. The order of chapters should be consistent, and go in order with what the player needs to know from first to last thing.
As well as that, the professional language of the book slips a lot . One moment I am engaging in an intelligent descrpition of something, and the next I'm at a pub talking with my mates. It's great to try and have more of a casual relationship/connection with the reader, but there is a way to do that without sharing personal opinions, and a way to do it with impulse control.


I'm actually going to refer back to your original Core Rulebook for a good example of this, and no, don't duck and hide before hearing me out! Lads, your 'Let's Tslk Pronouns' info box. Now, CthulhuTech is clearly a world where gender and sexual diversity is abound. Those sorts of barriers from our current day societ don't matter anymore - you make that very obvious, especially with giving Nazzadi gender-neutral pronouns. This is all very progressive stuff, and it's lovely to see it implemented so effortlessly.
So why? Why would you put in that little info box strssing that you're only using male pronouns and basically, 'bad luck' to whoever doesn't like it because you 'can't please everyone'? Guys, you could have totally forgone that entirely personal-opinions-driven box and I wouldn't have batted an eyelash. I've been playing tabletop for years, the books tend to be written in male pronouns, it's a thing. It doesn't really bother me. I appreciate it when other games (like Pathfinder for instance) just switch between player pronouns seamlessly between chapters anc class descriptions, but I'm a big girl, I can go without. I can see what you might've been trying to do, with that info box, but in the end - and possibly due to the writing of it being unprofessional and very tunnel-visioned as well - it turned a non-issue into an issue. You brought politics to the table in an attempt to avoid politics. The irony is disappointing, no? In the end, it's just a bad design choice that could possibly damage the reach of your target audience. A good editor would have quietly omitted that little box of personal issues that someone just had to get into final print. You have beautiful representation in the books, guys. There's female vignettes, NPCs of all colours and shapes and genders. It's an inclusive world. You shot yourselves in the foot. I have spoken to you in messages before and I have no doubt you're good people who had the best intentions with some of that writing, but it doesn't always come across that way. Which is where editors are great!


(on that note, someone who reviewed before me made a note that the 'chinadoll' reference to albino people is terrible. This is actually okay. In the book it's stated that white Nazzadi do not like being called it. It's racial slang and it's given across as such. You're supposed to be offended. This is worldbuilding, and in case you haven't noticed, CTech is not a nice place. It has nothing to do with the creators being insensitive.)


TL;DR a third party editor/revisionist is worth the money. If you even wanted to crowdfund it, I know I would sink sooo much money I don't have into helping you release a truly top-notch and professional book.


Need of Updated Art / Need of designer


And I'm not just saying this because I want to provide art for the book, haha. Not all, but A lot of the art is dated, stretched, pixelated, and of low resolution. I'm not sure if what you've got there is just placeholder for the final version of the book - but I've seen this before. That poor hooman character art, all stretched and chopped up. It hurt to see. This is your baby, guys! Take some pride in its presentation. Which Im' sure oyu do, don't get me wrong; but there are some visual design choices/mistakes/rushed-bits that make my heart hurt.


Font - the font is really difficult to read in places. Yes, it looks cool! But so difficult to read. At some point you've got to pause and go off to find something that still looks cool, but that we don't have to squint at to
understand.


The book could really benefit from a once-over by a professional designer. Again I have no doubt you're doing everything you can to do right by your product, and I understand it's a side project that you obviously don't want to spend and arm and a leg on. Again, this is why a crowdfund would be a good idea to scrape in some extra funds to be able to afford these sort of things. You've struck out on your own without appealing to any of the big tabletop publishers, and that's admirable - though the product is suffering a little from corners that have been cut due to lack of funds. When I was younger, I was always surprised at how few people knew about the game - I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread! As an adult (I think?) with experience in game industries now, I see where design and marketting fell through and wasn't as air-tight as it could have been.


TL;DR - get designer if you can, update the art, go for different more readable fonts.


NOTE: Myself and a friend who are currently running a game togetherwork in design. We would be absolutely delighted to give some free design advice, as we love this setting very much. I won't include any in this review other than what I've already said because I think it'd be rude to do so without it being asked first. :)


GOOD NEWS TIME~


- The system is looking a little more friendlier. I haven't looked into it in too much depth because my main concern is the design, the writing and the lore. But I recall the friend who introduced me to CTech running a holiday game a few years ago that was a little wince-worthy with some of the mechanics we had to deal with. I'd recommend doing a call for anyone who wants to help test the systems and running some one-shot games online with pre-prepared characters sheets. You can do this on skype, or Raid-type mediums, and hold a Q&A after!


- More background information on the setting, on the races, on the lore. My sweet, sweet Odin, it's beautiful. Keep it coming. Gobbling up this extra information in your Betahas made me fall in love with the world all over again.


- You're doing really well handling delicate topics. Again, this isn't a nice place, the Strange Aeon. You know it, I know it. It's based on Lovecraft (amongst other things), it was always going to have heavy themes and such. Even with that knowledge though, there is a right and a wrong way to get across the information that the GM and players need to know. You manage to do this with admirable finesse, both in explaining the system and stories and in the vignettes. Don't lose that! It's so important, and especially as a female fan of the game it comes very much appreciated. A lot of the critisism I've seen so far of people not liking how topics were handled, seems to be of the opinion that they shouldn't be there at all. I'm not sure these people understand the world with which they are dealing.


Question Time!!



  • It was touched on briefly in the book, though mostly in regards to new character sheets and systems - as these new books will be used in conjunction with the Core book (that's what I understood at least, as there's still a lot of information missing), there is a risk of cross-contamination of new and old information becoming quite confusing. How do you plan to combat this? Or is this book, The Shadow War, and the upcoming one concerning Engels and Mech supposed to be used without need for the original core rulebook?


That's all I have for now. Again, thanks so much for returning to this world, and I look forward to the future release of this book and the other. I think one has to be able to give critisism to something they like as much as something they do not, so please understand even with my critisisms that I am still behind CTech and its team 100%. Please don't hesitate to respond to me here if you have any answers or queries for my feedback.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CthulhuTech V2: The Shadow War Open Beta
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The Void Core PDF
by Jefferson L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2016 12:01:00

Muito bacana, dá a sensação de ser um sucessor espiritual do CthulhuTech. O que seria da Humanidade caso a Guerra do Eon não tivesse acontecido...


Com certeza será um dos jogos que vou jogar nesse ano de 2015!


Recomendo a todos que comprem/baixem a versão digital, e se possível, comprem a edição fisica. Vale a pena cada centavo.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The Void Core – Character Sheet
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2016 17:14:15

Seems to look OK on the PDF reader, but printing it to such a quality that you can read EVERYTHING on the sheet is a totally different matter.
While the Summary Data box looks OK, the Bruised, Battered, Hurt, and Incapacitated text at the bottom half of the sheet is unreadable (and I've wasted many sheets trying different printer settings).
White text in black boxes for this sheet just doesn't seem to work.
So it gets 3 for looking nice, but nothing more for being a pain in the butt for printing clearly on some parts of it.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core – Character Sheet
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The Void – Explorers of the Mind: Psionics
by TiMar L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2015 23:06:23

I'm gonna be honest, I was biased to like this from the start. When I wrote my review for the core rulebook was to point out how awesome it would be to have psionics in this game. With that said.


This is a very fast read. Like super fast. You'll be able to finish it in an afternoon. But it's a good read. If you like psionic stuff then this book is for you. It's not over the top kind of psionic powers. And it's not the quasi magical powers that you see in other games (such as D&D or even another horror game like World of Darkness). Instead this comes off with a very X Files like feeling, with your powers being low key.


There are five powers; pre cog, telepathy, medium, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis. Nothing flashy, but lack of flash fits a horror setting. There are also rules considerations for how to integrate them into play and how they can complicate normal story progression and ideas on how to keep your story going. It also happens to list monsters that may be psionic.


So overall a good book. I hope they do a future book and if so I'd love to see a few more powers, development on Division 6 and Yuntai, and possible consideration with how these powers may interact with Madness.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Explorers of the Mind: Psionics
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CthulhuTech V2: The Shadow War Open Beta
by Taryn F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2015 01:49:43

The Horned Ones (animal-people who rape the player characters) are still around, the artwork of female characters is still skeezy, the use of the term "China Doll" to describe an albinistic person is REALLY insensitive, and there are some unfortunate racial attitudes in the descriptions of how the playable species see themselves.


Also, the rules are still basically those of a 90's style RPG, one that's on the upper end of the complexity scale. Character creation has fifteen steps, and the "optional disadvantages" make for some very silly min-maxing. It feels like it WANTS to be a miniatures game, but the fiddly rules place it closer to 80's BattleTech than a modern skirmish game like Malifaux or Warmachine (or even 7th edition Warhammer 40,000).


On the plus side, the experience point system is much less punishing than CTech v1's, Tenacity no longer seems to be the god stat, MOST of the creepy stuff CTech is known for seems to be absent, and it no longer assumes that the players and their characters are all guys with its pronoun use. The rules look like they've been cleaned up a lot in general, and even the fifteen-step character thing is spelled out pretty well.


Just ... don't expect anything significantly better or more playable than a 90's style RPG. And since this is basically just the character creation rules, it would be really hard to try to play this without other Cthulhutech books.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
CthulhuTech V2: The Shadow War Open Beta
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Publisher Reply:
Just to help understand your concerns better, I have some questions: 1. The Horned Ones don\'t appear in the Open Beta core. Are you referring to older material, or did we miss something? 2. There isn\'t art in the Open Beta core. Are you referring to female art you found inappropriate from older material? 3. The mechanics are simulationist, not more indie narrativist. Is that what you mean by 90\'s? 4. What are you finding in this Open Beta package that you still find creepy? We\'ve gone through great lengths to mature the tone of the product and focus on what makes the setting cool, not the chock faction. I\'m happy to hear that you like the new character advancement system. Now, your character advances much faster, and you have more ways to advance your character. The latest Open Beta has all the rules you need to play now. You can still use V1 enemy stats, as they basically still work. Dhohanoids will be in a new iteration soon. Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts!
Chthonian Stars Core Setting
by Daniel C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2015 14:55:29

I like the setting, the background was well done. I would have liked to see more of their materials converted over to Traveller but I understand their now supporting their system.


If you are a Traveller fan and want a fun and different background to use, you need to buy this book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Chthonian Stars Core Setting
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CthulhuTech V2: The Shadow War Open Beta
by Ronaldo F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/28/2015 09:17:16

Feels more like an Alpha then a Beta, with all the missing mechanics. But also feels more customizable and the rules better structured then V1. Hope the mecha books follow the same road.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CthulhuTech V2: The Shadow War Open Beta
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The Void Core PDF
by Russell G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2015 07:22:00

I just got around to downloading and looking at this and I regret not doing so sooner.


This is was the "hard sci-fi meets the Cthulhu mythos" RPG I was looking for. The rules have found that oh-so-rare perfect mixture of crunch and ease-of-use, the setting isn't so fleshed out that it's a straight jacket and isn't so vague that it can just be ignored. When you add the expanded character creation rules (different book) there is literally no background a character can't come from... so if the idea of playing highly skilled space-cops doesn't appeal to you and you're looking for something where the characters don't necessarily have the best available backgrounds to meet the threat, that option is available too. Loved the setting, the mechanics, everything cover-to-cover and the fact that it's free on .pdf is perhaps the best advertising for a game I've ever heard of... all of my players can have a copy loaded onto their Kindles or e-readers, etc. (though I fully intended to buy the POD version too to support the product).


If I have a complaint it's only that there isn't enough support material for it. There's a technology and ship book that was advertised that I'd really like to get my hands on those (Cultist Pirates anyone?). I've been looking for an update but the latest has been from 2013.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The Void – Stygian Cycle V
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2015 15:39:50

I've been buying the Stygian Cycle of adventures to mine for ideas in my own space adventure game I'm running, rather than to play directly. As such, I have to say the idea of a colony suddenly appearing years after its mysterious disappearance, with no indication that time has elapsed, was a very interesting plot hook, and one I may well use in my own game.


That said, and without giving away any spoilers, I have to admit that I'm somewhat disappointed by the final explanation of what was going on. Given who and what was behind it, and the motivations and abilities of the various creatures involved, I would expect there to have been other more effective things they could have done to achieve their ends. Still, the basic story is sound, even if I have trouble with some of the motivations for it, and considering the price, I don't really have much to complain about.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Stygian Cycle V
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The Void Core PDF
by James C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2015 22:03:17

As it is by itself, The Void Core is a good RPG with a nice theme. Though my interest in getting The Void Core is to use it as a source of ideas to pick and choose from for use in other systems. I find the system is of great use in tricking out / modding the GunCrawl game system.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The Void Core PDF
by Joachim H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2015 04:46:40

For a rulesbook that costs nothing, "The Void" is a bargain. It is clear to me that the authors want to make money with the sourcesbook after giving away the core book for free; so I did not expect the core book to ceover each and every question in detail.


Nevertheless, "The Void" suffers from multiple flaws. The crucial question how much a Warden (player character) knows about the occult nature of the universe is never answered. It is the Warden's Job to fight monsters but it is never stated how much they know about creatures, cults etc. or which of the Monsters given in the rulesbook are already known and what is known about them.


The skills "Occult" or "Cryptozoology" may be useful but there are no clues how to actually use them.


The example characters have flamethrower and combat shotgun; both arms do not appear in the "weapons" section, however. Especially a flamethrower should have special abilities like hitting more thsn one target, follow-up damage by burning etc.


The rating for the Warden armor is 10/5 on sample characters and 10 in the "weapons" section.


The rules for madness are very superficial.


Over all, "The Void" is too superficial in many ways; unfortunately, even in the "Secrets of the Void", this continues. If you want to play "Monster of the week", fine. If you want more depth, "The Void" only scratches the surface.


"The Void" as a setting is promising but lacks substance. It's like peeling an onion shell by shell with the authors giving you only the outer shell.


I am also disappointed that the authors seem to reduce horror to monsters that eat you or kill you, i.e. blood and gore.


The the mood of a Lovecraftian background, however, is absent.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Stygian Cycle I
by Todd C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2014 21:36:02

The material is interesting so I'm using it as a basis for some stuff I'm running now. Not using the system or the 'Organized Play' stuff but interesting story and the art is GREAT!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Stygian Cycle I
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The Void Core PDF
by Sarah B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/18/2014 01:01:53

This has potential to be an excellent game, but has yet to achieve excellence. Some things that my group and I noticed when playing, that could use some work... THe Horror tests need greater clarification and fairness for the initial test. And the effects can be very extreme and frustrating for the players when their character is removed from combat/task with no chance to recover with a saving roll or something simular. Character Sheet needs some tweaking it is confusing, some of the notes are in the wrong spot. Also the Character sheet is difficult to read when printed out. To much packed onto a single sheet, as a result some parts were to small to read properly.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The Void Core PDF
by Jenette D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/11/2014 21:07:13

It's hard to add anything to the already well done reviews already present, so I'll just add that for a free product the production quality is excellent and makes a solid addition to the survival horror in space genre.


Although it could have benefited from more artwork throughout the book, what artwork is present it of excellent quality, the setting is one sure to appeal to fans of sci-fi horror.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
by Todd C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2014 19:38:20

Artwork, fiction and premise is very interesting to me which is why I dove in on this and have bought both Stygian Cycle adventures. I thing I like is the blend of sci-fi and horror for a very Aliens feel. It is also more approachable than some of the newer 'Transhuman' sci-fi games that are interesting but very hard to get players to understand the setting. Once again, this is easier to understand.


So if they idea, fiction, approachability and artwork are 5 stars, I gave this a 4 because the system is a 3 in my opinion. I'd suggest simply provide the setting for a couple base systems like Savage Worlds and Fate Core. I'd rather the authors focus on what they are good at...story. Leave the RPG system to something that people will know quickly and has been tested out alot already.


Also the intro adventure at the end had an interesting premise and build up but the ending and monsters were meh for me. So it was a 3 also.


I'm going to use some of this material in another setting with different rules anyways so the story is what I want to steal ideas from...solid start guys!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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