Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/09/26/tabletop-review-the-wayne-foundation-charity-pack/
DriveThru RPG has, in recent years, made in recent a name for itsself when it comes to raising money for charity and giving gamers an incredible value in the process. It started with its Haiti Earthquake Relief Bundle which raised over $175,000. Since then, we’ve seen them offer charity bundles for Pakistani Flood Relief, as well as provide easy way to donate to the Red Cross for the Japan Tsunami Relief. DriveThruRPG has also provided a way for gaming companies to do fundraisers for causes that may not be getting the same amount of media coverage. The Wayne Foundation Charity Pack is one of these causes.
The Wayne Foundation is a charity that is raising awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children and wants to build a rehabilitation facility for victims of domestic minor sexual trafficking. This organization was founded by Director Kevin Smith (of Clerks fame) and Jamie Walton, herself a former child prostitute. You can hear her heartbreaking story and more about the charity on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast here.
So what did you get for your $15? You get a lot of varied game stuff. You get NINE complete games, one of which is a board game. There are SIX supplements for Pathfinder. There are also supplements for Traveller as well the D20 system among others. There is also mp3s to provide background music for your game and a Treasure Generation application. There are twenty-two different items in all. There is a wide variety of products in this bundle and you should be able to find something that that interests you. So let’s take a look at everything you’ll receive in this bundle.
I mentioned earlier there are nine complete games in bundle, so take a look at them first.
The first game we will talk about is the winner of the 2006 Gold ENnie for Innovation, Dread. Dread is a horror suspense game with a very interesting mechanic as the game is entirely diceless. Everything is resolved using Jenga blocks. When you try to complete a task, you must pull a Jenga block and place it on top of the stack. If the stack falls over, you character is removed from the game. Yes, you can die doing pretty much anything in this game. What’s interesting about using the Jenga blocks is that the first pulls are the easiest to avoid toppling the tower. But as the game progresses the pulls get harder and harder until the block eventually topples. So you get that build of things getting more and more dangerous until finally, BOOM, blocks fall someone dies. You then rebuild the tower and start the process over. So really it’s a lot like a game of Call of Cthulhu where it’s not WILL something bad happen but WHEN. I’m really intrigued by this game mechanic and would love to try it. I also realize this type of hyper lethal game isn’t for everyone, but if you like playing Call of Cthulhu or other horror genre games, Dread is absolutely worth checking out.
The next game is at the other end of a gaming spectrum, the humorous Time & Temp: Paperless Office Edition. In this game you are time travelling temp workers for Browne Chronometric Engineering, Inc. You know the stack of forms you sign when you are hired at new employer. That’s how the player rules are written, complete with a spots for your initials and date on each page. This section is intended to be printed out and handed to players, so I fully recommend printing these out and making them initial and date these pages, to get the full intended effect. As for the game, it involves the temp workers travelling through time trying to thwart threats to the time stream. This game mixes office politics with time travel, so this game is one part The Office and one part Dr. Who. If you are looking for a wacky time travel game I recommend taking a look at this game.
Now we have Jumpers, a game that see the characters jumping between dimensions. It’s very much like the TV series Quantum Leap, except that instead of jumping in points of time during Earth’s history. you’re jumping into different dimensions that can be similar or very very different from Earth. It’s a really flexible game that you can tell any type of story. If you want to jump into a world that is dominated by highly intelligent Koala Bears, you can. You want to play in a world where magic is everywhere, you can. Also with this game you’re not expected to spend your entire campaign in one dimension. When the GM is done with his adventure in a dimension, he just says the players fade out and poof they are in the next dimension. This game in some ways reminds me of the old Time Lords RPG, but with easier to gasp game mechanics. If you have a lot of short adventure ideas in a wide variety of settings, you might give Jumpers a look and you just may be able to make an entire campaign out of a random mix of ideas.
So far we have games that fit the horror and time travel genres; our next game is something very different. It’s Heartquest: Romantic Roleplaying in the World of Shouji Manga. So if you every wanted to play a Salior Moon type game, Heartquest is for you. It uses the fudge system for the game mechanics, so it’s not difficult to pick up the basic mechanics. There is also a nice bibliography of Shouji anime if you’re looking for some inspiration for a game. This is a game not for everyone I realize because of the genre is target at teenage girls. If you are a fan of this genre anime, this would be a perfectly fine game todip your toes in if you wanted to try roleplaying. Or if you have an open minded group, you could have some fun with this as well. Excel Saga RPG anyone?
Moving on we now have a post-apocalyptic game, Toypacalyspe. But this isn’t your standard post-apocalyptic game. In this game all the humans have disappeared leaving the world otherwise as it is. However once the humans disappeared the toys gained sentience and started forming their own countries and kingdoms, making for a mix of Toy Story meets Lord of the Flies. The rules are designed as such you can be pretty much any toy you can imagine. You can have your He-Man figure fight alongside your Optimus Prime toy against the evil Skeletor and Megatron figures. Why am I having visions of this being used for a Robot-Chicken RPG? I find the concept of the game interesting and would like to give it try. But this isn’t even the strangest RPG in the bundle. For you see, our next game involves sock puppets.
Argyle & Crew is a game where characters are represent by sock puppets or Soppets, as they are called in the game. The character creation process involves taking a sock and drawing a pair of eyes and a mouth on it. You can also draw or attach other things to your sock and give your sock powers. As you can probably guess this is a game geared for young children. There are several variants to the game in the book, one that is entirely story telling based with no dice involved. For a more traditional sock puppet RPG feel, there is the variant where you use dice and stat out your Soppet. With this game is also a selection of MP3s to use as background music for your games. I’ve never been one to use music or sound effects in my games but some may appreciate this. Argyle & Crew is a cute game and one that you could easily use to introduce children as young as 4-5 to role playing games. I think children would enjoy the making of their own sock puppet, naming it and giving it a character. It’s a game that involves heavy imagination which is something children have in ample supply. As for adults, if you have the right mindset and are willing to drop some of preconceived notions on what an RPG should be, you may enjoy this as a chance of pace from the usual kill the monster save the princess games. Just make sure you bring plenty of socks.
Now we go from sock puppets to ninjas, as we talk about Wu-Xing: The Ninja Crusade. In the world on Wu-Xing, The Emperor as finally had enough of the ninja clans as he suspects they were the cause of the Empress’s death and the princesses’ poisoning. As a result, the Emperor launches a crusade against the Ninjas. This unites the various feuding Ninja clans end up uniting and forming the Lotus coalition to combat an overzealous Emperor. So this is a game a game of political intrigue. You have the general ninjas versus emperor conflict as well as in fighting amongst the ninja. They only reason they are united is because of the common enemy, but it doesn’t mean that their prior differences has disappeared. There is quite a bit of back story to the game so you are getting a fully fleshed out setting. The combat is count based and every action you take has a speed value to complete. So if it has a speed value of 3 it takes a 3 count to complete. This makes combat more tactical since you have to decide do you want to do something that you can quickly resolves or are you willing to take more time and do a more powerful attack. I like this approach to combat; it adds a nice touch of realism. If you are into ninja or have an interest in playing in a world with a feudal japan feel, Wu-Xing is worth a look.
Next we have an Open D6 game, Azamar. This is a game has rich fantasy setting using the Cinema 6d RPG framework. So if you are familiar with the old West End D6 games, this should be easy to learn. Azamar is a setting where you have multiple worlds that overlap and separated by magic. Each of those words has their own unique features, some being far more dangerous than others. There is a lot of backstory so be prepared to invest some time in reading about the history. You also are given a fully fleshed out world as well. This is definitely a complete product. You are given rules for character, rules for running a game, as well as a detailed setting. If you looking for a new fantasy world to explore, I think Azamar is definitely work looking at.
The last complete game I’ll talk about is actually a printable board game, Mi Gato se Incendia! Yes, this game’s name is My Cat is on Fire! The premise of the game is your cat has escape from the house and you are trying to catch the feline. Unfortunately though there are lots of things in your neighbor that just may catch your cat on fire, so your goal is to catch the kitty before they become too crispy. This is a card driven game, where you have a hand of action cards that you play on your turn. These cards can move you, move your cat, heal your flaming cat, or cancel other players’ cards. Then there is a separate deck of event cards that move your cat as well. It’s a rather simple game with the strategy being how to best move your piece to the same square as your cat. I can see this game getting played once or twice because of the name alone, I mean who wouldn’t want to at least try a game called Mi Gato se Incendia! That’s a name that gets your attention. I’m not sure it has enough depth to keep your average gamers attention for too long. This could be a game for the children as long as they aren’t too scarred by the fact the poor kitty is on fire.
So that’s a rundown of the complete games, and now I’ll start touching on the various supplements. For Pathfinder you are getting decks of quick reference cards with stats for Monster Summoning and Nature’s Alley spells. There is also a The Book of Beast: Wandering Monsters with five monsters to add to your Pathfinder game. Then there is Devious NPC and Curious Creatures that present to you monsters and NPC with plot hook for each, to easily add them to your existing Pathfinder game. There are also two different books of magical items and one on herbs with magical properties. You also have a book on Aruneus Orcs. In this you get stats for using Orcs as a race and a War Leader prestige class. You also get a brief history of Orc in the world of Aruneus as well as a few monsters and magic items to add to your game. The Book of River Nations: Exploration and Kingdom Building helps you run a wilderness exploration game as well as providing rules for player characters create and run a kingdom. There is also a book on running a Zombie contagion game in Pathfinder. So if you want to run a Pathfinder version of The Walking Dead you are given the means to do so with The World of Aruneus: Contagion Infected Human Zombies. So as you can see there is a lot of stuff here for the Pathfinder Player. But Pathfinder isn’t the only game seeing some love. There is also The Player’s Career Pack 1 that gives you two new careers for the Traveller RPG, the Software Engineer and the Leader. As you can see you end up with a lot of supplemental material for your games, in addition to the full games talked about earlier.
There is also a system agnostic book as well, The Adventure Idea Factory. It’s a book of setting and plot ideas for any sci-fi setting. So if you are running any sort of Sci-Fi game, this book will give you various location descriptions and plot hooks to integrate into your game. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next sci-fi game, this is worth a read through.
The last book I’ll talk about isn’t a gaming book, but a book on how to use conventions to get a break in the gaming industry, Conventions for the Aspiring Game Professional by Jess Hartley. This originally was a series of blog post on Jess’s blog but has been revised and expanded for this book. I remember reading the blog entries when they first appeared, and thoroughly enjoyed them. If you’re looking to become involved in the gaming industry this is a most read, and even if you’re not it still makes a good primer on how to effectively network. It may not be a gaming book, but this is one item you should definitely take the time out to read. Top notch stuff.
Our final item in the charity bundle is The Treasure Hoard GenPack application. It’s a need little tool for quickly generating description of various treasure. No longer will you have generic descriptions for the loot your players find. This tool lets you quickly generate vivid descriptions of art, gems, potions, and charms. There is even a coin generator so you can create unique coins and show you players what the coins they find look like. This is a nice little tool for giving the treasure in your game more character. It will mean more to your players finding a gem with a detailed description than just another gem worth 20gp.
So that is everything contained in The Wayne Foundation Charity Pack. It’s impossible not to recommend this. You are getting nine complete games, all very different from each other. You are getting a lot of additional material for Pathfinder. As well as a book and an application that can enhance your game regardless of your game system. And then for the aspiring game writer you even have a book on using convention to get your foot in the door. There is something in this pack for everyone and you get all of this for $15. But more importantly than the incredible value you are getting is the proceeds are going to a very worthwhile cause. The sexual exploitation of children is a horrible crime against humanity. One of my closest friends was molested by their father at a very young age and I’ve seen the issues it has cause in their life. Too often these children end up on drugs, abusive relationships, and end up having their adult lives ruined because of the problems created by these predators. Wayne Foundation is there to help these exploited children coup with what they been through and give them the tools needed to live as normal a life as possible. So if you have the money, and have any interest in the products in this pack, buy this bundle now. It’s only available till September 30th. And even after reading this review and nothing in it interest you, buy it anyways and give the stuff to a gamer friend that would enjoy as a gift. When it comes to something like this what I get from my purchase is secondary to the good my money ends up doing for other.
The Wayne Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity. For more information on the Wayne Foundation, their goals and how to donate directly visit their website at www.the-waynefoundation.org.