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13th Age Bestiary Preview
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2013 20:24:02

This preview has me excited for the release of the 13th Age Bestiary, next year. I'm of the opinion that you can never have too many monsters, and while it's not difficult to create new monsters in 13th Age, my time is precious, and it's nice when someone else does the heavy lifting for you!


If the whole book is similar to the monsters presented in the preview, then we'll be in for a treat! The monsters here aren't just stat blocks and a paragraph or two. Each entry presents several relatively simple stat blocks (13th Age tends to depend on the natural dice rolls to trigger the special attacks on monsters), presenting different roles and levels for the monsters. The lengthy description that follows has alternate histories, ecology, etc. which is great for sparking the imagination of the GM, and helping these monsters fit in nearly any campaign, without declaring that one version of the monster is the definitive "13th Age" variant. Then, the monsters are tied to the icons, to make them fit well with the campaign world and the icon relationships.


I recommend that you take a look at this preview. You may end up getting ideas for your fantasy campaign, even if you don't play 13th Age.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
13th Age Bestiary Preview
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13th Age Bestiary Preview
by Michael C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2013 15:00:19

This preview has me excited for the actual product.


I think that too many games have way too much in the way of stats for monsters. Basic d20 had lots there, and Pathfinder took it and made it more, but that's a lot of stuff to go through. The 13th Age Bestiary, on the other hand, goes in the opposite direction with the presentation of the monsters' stats and makes them easy to reference at a glance with their simplicity.


However, what it lacks for in multitudes of stats it makes up for in information. If you don't have ideas for using these critters after looking at this, you're not reading.


The bestiary doesn't stop at just a basic one-off set of stats, but easy-to-read stats are also made for variants of these creatures. You don't just have an orc, you have an orc battle screamer, a death-plague orc, and orcish archer, a pit-spawn orc, and others. D&D 4e tried to do it this way, but I think it was pulled off better here. This was done with all three monsters included in this preview.


The preview includes creative ways of using white dragons, orcs, and nagas. honestly, I haven't given nagas much thought until now, when I read the line "Naga aren’t unreasoning monsters. They generally have perfectly sound reasons for wanting intruders dead." Looking at the rest of these creatures, I wanted to actually write up a way to use them right now.


My only real complaint is that the 3 creatures were put into 3 different PDFs. I'd rather have just had one to download.


All in all, i really liked it, and more and more want to play 13th Age the more I see of it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
13th Age Core Book
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/18/2013 23:15:13

13th Age isn't super innovative. Let's get that out of the way ahead of time. In terms of mechanics, there's nothing that hasn't been seen before. The setting is good, but not really anything that we haven't seen. Where 13th Age succeeds, however, is in its balance of elements. 13th Age is the sort of thing that I love; it takes a game and tears it down to its basics, then reconstructs it. I'm not sure that the d20 system was the best place to apply that, but it's certainly an interesting take.


I'm not actually that negative about anything in 13th Age. It's quite possibly the most professional thing I've reviewed this year, with over three hundred pages of well-edited and beautiful content. Yes, I do perhaps put too much weight on the appearance of a game, but 13th Age is great. It has a ton of art, and none of it has any major glaring errors. It's repeated in some cases, but there's a sufficient quantity that it doesn't bother me, and most of the repetition is moving an image previously shown in part into a full frame, so it's even less egregious. 13th Age isn't the most beautiful or flashy, like L5R or Eclipse Phase, but it's got enough visuals that for a game that claims that it doesn't like going into "descriptions about what all the X look like", it does a pretty good job of communicating that because it has a drawing for almost anything.


The setting is pretty conventional. How it's handled mechanically a little less so, but it's still a pretty milquetoast inoffensive generic fantasy, with the occasional epic scene thrown in. It's cool to roleplay in, and definitely above average, but it's also nothing like Eclipse Phase that leaves one thinking for years to come on minutiae of the setting, and it's highly subject to tropes of the fantasy genre. There's not a whole lot that players won't understand; the Lich King is, of course, an undead tyrant. Still, it's worth a read, and there's some really good stuff for actually playing the game.


As far as the actual systems go, I'm a little more skeptical. I like some of the things they did to move the d20 system toward a more narrative feel; some people accuse it of going toward 4e's direction in terms of style, but I think that they're more referring to the fact that 13th Age makes everyone combat effective, rather than the actual combat-focus of the game. Moving away from skills and into backgrounds brings in an "indie game" feel (according to the authors) that is more narrative driven and, in my opinion, more interesting. However, 13th Age sticks with the d20 rules in the exact same ways that give it flaws; it escalates into a modifier fight, and while the game is intentionally designed to accept this it's still a little bit jarring that a system that progressed so well toward the narrative immediately gets driven back by a heavily limiting mechanical system.


Now, with the caveat being that I'm not a huge fan (critically, not in terms of play) of Pathfinder and 3.5, I can safely say that I prefer 13th Age. However, it's not anything that couldn't be houseruled into either of these systems, and while it's certainly got benefits it has just as many idiosyncrasies that will confuse new or transferring players. It lacks some notable features that one would expect; I'm not going to dock it for lacking a "monk" class as I've seen one reviewer do, because, quite frankly, I don't think that the setting really depends on something like that, but there are certainly places where it fell a little short, despite the fact that it's remarkably good in others.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
13th Age Core Book
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Looking Glass: Mumbai
by Paul B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/11/2013 01:49:37

Ken provides a brief and focussed taste of the complex and vast city of Mumbai. A supplement filled with potential for use in innumerable games, not just Gumshoe-powered ones. The text provides a concise run through the cities history, politics, crime, and urban mythology - and I found myself excited to find out more.


Personally, I like nothing more than choosing a random page on Wikipedia and following the links, trivia-surfing my way through interesting articles. Having finished reading Looking Glass: Mumbai I found myself skimming travel sites, digital maps, Flickr albums and a multitude of Wikipedia cross-references.


If you know nothing of Mumbai and you're open to considering a new city as setting for your contemporary or near future game, especially in Gumshoe settings, then I thoroughly recommend this bite-size guide as a springboard. The pages have plenty of hooks, seeds and interesting ways to engage your player characters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Looking Glass: Mumbai
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The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/06/2013 15:05:41

The original Esoterrorists game was born out of a desire to have an investigative role-playing game in which success did not depend on getting lucky with die rolls, but on inginuity in asking the right questions in the right places, leaving the random die rolling bit to resolve things like combat and other areas where failure doesn't derail the entire plot - no more flunking one roll and missing a crucial clue!


That came out in 2007, and was well received. Now, in 2013, here is the Second Edition. Honed by over five years of enthusiastic playing and with new developments like an improved initiative system, and coupled by a lot more background detail to empower the GM to make excellent and consistent adventures within the Esoterrorist setting, this work has great promise indeed. Of especial note is the setting 'Station Duty' that is included in this work, a sandbox in which GM and characters can operate.


Characters are elite investigators dedicated to combatting the Esoterrorists, a deranged and dangerous group who seek personal power by evoking malign paranormal phenomena. Oh, and they have day jobs as well. The whole thing is kept under wraps and most people haven't a clue as to what is going on. Yet by creating mass hysteria with staged fake supernatural events, the Esoterrorists create the conditions for real supernatural events to occur... and, if not nipped in the bud, eventually the Creatures of Unremitting Horror will turn up - and you don't want them to become a regular part of this world, that's for sure!


Character generation is based on deciding on your investigative and general abilities, and then adding in the necessary game mechanics. There are certain guidelines to follow for those intending to play Station Duty, but otherwise you can be pretty much whatever you want to be. If you know GUMSHOE (the core mechanic) already, it's all quite familiar; if you are new to it everything is explained clearly. Take time to study it, it is a refreshing approach to character generation that places your concept of what a character is like and how he operates at the core of the mechanics, never mind your role-playing.


Next, the GUMSHOE system itself is explained. The basic premise is that the game is not about finding clues, it's about interpreting the clues that are found... so finding stuff out is designed to be the easy part. There's as much discussion of the underlying philosophy of the system as there is of mechanics: intentional as you need to understand the way in which its all supposed to work at least as much as you need to know which dice to roll when. This is a game that benefits from everyone around the table understanding the rules, yet they are straightforward enough that they are easy to grasp. Despite the emphasis on investigation, all the usual stuff about combat, other task resolution, wounds, healing, chases and the like are here with the necessary game mechanics laid out with enough detail and explanation to enable you to use them with confidence. Just take the time to read it!


Then the Ordo Veritas is introduced. This is the loose umbrella organisation within which the characters operate. It's well-funded and provides the characters with leads, resources and a network of contacts. It also lays out how they should conduct themselves and enforces the desired result: that the general populace should never find out what is going on. This chapter is littered with ideas that spawn adventures and even whole campaigns as you read through it: potential GMs should take notes! If you are not itching to start running (or at least playing) the game by the time you have finished the chapter, either go back and read it again or, sadly, this isn't the game for you. But if the concept and mechanics appeal, you will be wanting to rush out and round up some players... hang on and finish the book first, there are more gems to come. Although not stated, it is likely that this and following chapters are best left for the GM's eyes only. Even if you are good at separating in character and out of character information, why spoil the fun of finding things out during play?


The next chapter is The Enemy, in which the Esoterrorists themselves are presented. There's a wealth of detail about their underlying philosophy and goals, their organisation, what Ordo Veritas knows about them and more... oh, and a whole bunch more of scenario seed ideas scattered around. Sample Esoterrorist cells, notes on making up your own and a whole troop of monsters are to be found here as well. Each one comes with hints as to how to use them in your campaign and notes on which character skills will be most useful in detecting, comprehending and defeating them.


This is followed by a chapter called Scenarios, jam-packed with advice and ideas on creating the adventures that will make up your campaign. There's an interesting discussion on what makes the Esoterrorists different from other games with a similar theme: this one has a narrow focus with a single - albeit wide-ranging and diverse - adversary. That said, it is not hard to retool the system to run with a range of adversaries or to concentrate on a different one. However, the things that set the Esoterrorists out are detailed here so that you can highlight them to aid in making the game distinctive and unique.


Next up is Running Scenarios, again full of useful hints and tips on running the game effectively. This is not a game to pick up and run, prior preparation and planning is essential in order to be able to present the characters with all the information that they will need to solve each case.


The rest of the book (nearly half!) is taken up with the Station Duty setting. The concept here is that instead of the characters being sent on missions all over the place to deal with weird events, the weird events are concentrated on the township in which they are based. It's basically the 'small town horror' trope, in which you can either invent a town or use a real one, perhaps even the one you and your players live in, as the setting for the campaign. One advantage is that it gives the characters some emotional ties to the places and people affected by supernatural events - they live there and the people are family and friends. By getting to know the place, it can become more real within the shared alternate reality of the game, rather than being yet another place that the party sweeps into, deals with a problem and leaves, scarcely having time to get to know the counter clerk in the local diner let alone building any meaningful relationship with the people and surroundings.


The whole process of setting up your township is explored in detail - and it's as much fun as playing there will be! There are loads of ideas here, much which you'll find of benefit whenever inventing townships for games never mind for this one. The Station itself - a base for the characters under the auspices of Ordo Veritas - also needs to be devised, and there are hints aplenty as to how to do this as well. The discussion then moves on to how to create adventures in your township, and deal with the specific issues that using a single location for a whole bunch of horror will cause.


To get you started, there's the outline of an adventure - Breach Zero - to kickstart the campaign. This is followed by a vast array of 'Persons of Interest' - a host of NPCs you can throw in as and when you need them. With this campaign style, you want to have them around all the time, even when they are not involved in the adventure in progress. Don't just bring them in when they are due to be affected by something, the impact is all the stronger when something bad happens to someone the characters have been interacting with for months. There's also a section on key locations, which can be mapped on to important landmarks in your own township. A handy concept is a selection of thumbnail sketches of various locations - each comes in two sorts, one neutral and one for when you need to create a sinister atmosphere. There are several scenario outlines, not as detailed as Breach Zero but enough to get you started, and a section of Local News to throw in as appropriate. The emphasis is Small Town America, but if you want to set your campaign elsewhere it ought not to be too hard to reskin it to work.


And there's more: another developed adventure called Operation Prophet Bunco. This could be played out in your Station Duty setting, but it would work just as well if you have chosen the 'sent to investigate incidents all over the place' model for your campaign. Of course, you might decide to combine the two, sometimes the adventure comes to the characters and sometimes they have to go to it, a model that I'm considering at the moment. It's a cracking adventure and well worth running however you want to use it.


Finally there are character sheets and other worksheets to keep everything in order: scenario outline tools, party sklls summary, NPC note sheets, Esoterrorist cell logs and more.


Overall, this is a real gem of a system and setting. If you like investigating and battling supernatural horrors in the contemporary world with a game system designed to facilitate it, this is the book you need. Thoroughly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
by wesley c. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/10/2013 18:55:14

this as with all the purist adventures is genuinely creepy and on the level with what MRP is doing for there more purist stuff. one point of consideration is to make sure that your players know what a purist scenario entails in the level of survivability. the ending of this scenario is on the grim side and can be considered rail roady by some players.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Dying of St Margaret's
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Hideous Creatures: Ghouls
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/28/2013 06:23:35

Originally Posted at: http://diehardgame-
fan.com/2013/10/28/tabletop-review-hideous-monsters-ghouls-t-
rail-of-cthulhu/


Hideous Creatures: Ghouls is the fourth in Ken Hite’s line of Hideous Cratures short PDFs. The goal of each PDF is to try and mix up or change the way both players and Keepers think about Lovecraftian characters. Previous entries have included Deep Ones, Mi-Go and Hounds of Tindalos. The bad news is that I haven’t been that impressed with the previous releases, but the good news is that each entry has been noticeably better than the last. I am happy to report that, once again, Ghouls is the best entry in the Hideous Creatures line today, and it’s also a piece I am fairly positive about. Well, aside from the bad cover art that looks like it was rendered with CGI from the 1990s.


Ghouls runs twelve pages, but only nine of those pages are content. The first three pages are taken up by the cover, title page, and finally the introduction and table of contents. This means you’re only getting nine pages of content for $2.95, which is a bit pricey in this era of digital RPG offerings, but if you’re going to pick any of the Hideous Creatures series up, Ghouls is the one to get.


The piece starts off with a rundown on the Lovecraftian version of ghouls, which are notably different from those you’ll find in Dungeons & Dragons or Vampire: The Masquerade. While Mythos ghouls have canine qualities, the piece suggests throwing players off by giving them different animal qualities, such as rats and jackals. This is a good idea, and the only ones that are a bit off the wall are the suggestions like worms and flies. You’re also given a lot of information on why ghouls may do what they do. After all, like Deep Ones, they have some degree of humanity about them, but unlike their fishy friends, ghouls retain a degree of humanity once fully converting into their monstrous form. Hite suggests a whole bevy of reasons as to both an individual ghoul’s motivations, as well as the race as whole. Why they breed with humans, what their end game is and so on. Now, some of these postulations are contradictory, and that’s on purpose. You’re not supposed to use all of them. Just take one or two from the list and run with them. This piece is meant to be a sounding board for new and different ideas after all.


From there we get two pages of Trail of Cthulhu stats and mechanics, giving you new powers and abilities for a ghoul. I really liked the mechanics for a Ghoul-born changeling or half-ghoul, and how even an Investigator can become a ghoul and still play their character. Of course, at some point that Stability is going to hit zero… After the stats, we are given even more potential variations and story seeds for ghouls. There are thirty-one variations in all. As usual, the qualities range from really good ideas to terrible ones, but which ones are which will differ by the reader. After all, no one is going to like all thirty-one ideas and no one is going to hate them all. I personally disliked the variation that ghouls are undead, as that’s done everywhere else, and by having Mythos ghouls being living breathing creatures, this sets them apart from other creatures bearing the race name. However, someone might like their ghouls being undead and able to paralyze anything but elves, so this will work for them. Heck, this piece even has mechanics for giving Mythos ghouls a paralyzing grasp! I loved the Parisian take on ghouls, and the idea of ghoul priests wearing special robes and masks to set them apart. I also really liked the idea of a schism between ghoul sects – one that has a traditional old style way of doing things and a “new breed” that wants to speed up the return of the Great Old Ones.


Next we go into “Mythic Echoes,” which is where we see folkloric creatures that could possibly work as ghoul variants in your Trail of Cthulhu game. In the past we’ve seen some big stretches and poorly worded/researched items in this section, but with the ghouls, everything looked top notch to me. I especially loved seeing the Arabic Ghul get listed here, as it’s so overlooked by many gamers and game developers. After that, we go back into the mechanics side of things, where you are given a bevy of ways each skill in Trail of Cthulhu can net an Investigator information about a ghoul threat or menace. This, as always, is a favorite section of mine, as it really helps Keepers to think outside the box and players to realize that any skill is helpful if you look at it correctly.


The piece concludes with two story seeds and a half page bibliography. Usually the Hideous Creatures pieces have offered more story seeds, but they were generally of mixed quality. Here in Ghouls, we may only get the two, but both have a lot of potential as full-fledged adventures. One takes place in Chicago around Halloween, 1931, and the other can take place after one of five natural disasters. An enterprising Keeper can string all five together into a mini-campaign or really long adventure.


All in all, Ghouls is by far the best Hideous Creatures release yet, and the only negative thing I can say about it is that I think it should be priced a dollar less. I know, right? FEEL THE CRITICISM! This is definitely the only piece in the series I can strongly recommend, as the others have been mediocre, more or less. However, Ghouls is something well worth picking up, even if you don’t play Trail of Cthulhu. Any Mythos based RPG or even most horror games can freely adapt the material in this piece quite easily.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hideous Creatures: Ghouls
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Hideous Creatures: Mi-Go
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2013 06:09:49

Originally published: http://diehardgame-
fan.com/2013/09/25/tabletop-review-hideous-creatures-mi-go-t-
rail-of-cthulhu/


If there’s one good thing I can say about author Ken Hite, it’s that he’s not afraid to reinvent the wheel. This is especially true with Lovecraft/Cthulhu Mythos creations as even if you’re not a fan of his writing style or mechanics, you can really feel the love for these hideous beasties come through and you can’t help but respect him for that.


One of Ken’s latest efforts has been the Hideous Creatures series for Trail of Cthulhu. These small supplements are meant to help your DM/GM/Keeper/whatever you want to call it come up with some fresh ideas for Cthulhu Mythos creatures that have become overused and stale over the years. After all, Mythos oriented games are meant to be horrifying and frightening, but when players know what to expect or worse, crack trope based jokes about their would-be antagonist, much of the mood is lost. I applaud Ken for really trying to bring spooky cosmic terror back to these Lovecraftian races, but the end result of the Hideous Creatures line has been less than stellar so far.


As you’ve seen in my reviews of Deep Ones and Hounds of Tindalos, the quality of these supplements have been all over the place. The bad news is the previous pieces weren’t very good but the good news is that each one has been better than the last. This is true of the latest Hideous Creatures release in Mi-Go in that it is the best of the series so far, which leads me to believe it just took Ken a bit to find his groove. Sure Mi-Go has room for improvement, but considering the first two releases in the Hideous Creatures series were mediocre and/or underwhelming, I’m just happy to see some noticeable improvement in the line.


Hideous Creatures: Mi-Go spans eleven pages, but only eight of the pages have content on them. The first three are a tremendous cover, a title page, and an introduction slash table of contents piece. That’s not too big a deal until you realize that roughly 25% of the piece lacks any content. Ouch. On the positive even though this is a Trail of Cthulhu release, only two pages and one scenario are devoted to ToC content, so you could conceivably use this with other Mythos related systems like Call of Cthulhu, Age of Cthulhu and Realms of Cthulhu. Probably not CthulhuTech though…


The first section is simply “The Mi-Go” and it gives both a description of what the Fungi From Yuggoth look like, but also various ways to change their appearance and a whole host of motivations for them. After all, why are the mi-go so into putting human brains inside a jar? I like the attempt at explaining why this alien race from beyond time and space do what they do, but at the same time, explaining their actions and motivations also takes away from the alien horror and makes the creatures more humdrum – which is the opposite of what the Hideous Creatures pieces are meant to do. This section also gives Trail of Cthulhu stats for the Mi-Go along with weapons and potential powers and/or weaknesses. This section is by far leaps and bounds better than the Deep Ones or Hounds of Tindalos versions.


“Variations” plucks some aspects of the Mi-Go from various writers and sources. Some pieces are contradictory, but the idea is to pick and choose, not take everything from here and try to make the puzzle pieces fit. There’s a lot of potential here, but the Keeper has to put a little effort in to make things work. “Mythic Echoes” is the attempt to shoehorn a Lovecraftian creature into various myths from around the world. The Deep Ones version of this was terrible and the HoT was slightly better. Once again, this is the weakest section of Hideous Creatures with Ken either getting things wrong or making things up/drastically changing the legends to get them to fit with the Mi-Go. This section would be better off with a little more research, explaining the real legend and how one might make the Mi-Go fit into it, or just excising it altogether. Let’s just say folklore is NOT Ken’s best area.


“Investigations” is always a highlight of these pieces and it remains with the Mi-Go version. Here you are given a list of information or insights that can be gleamed by particular skills an Investigator might have. Then we have “Scenario Seeds.” There are only two this time, one of which is a direct continuation of something found in the core Trail of Cthulhu rulebook, which means you might have already finished that potential storyline off long before this was released. I can’t say either scenario is very good, and I wouldn’t use either. It also doesn’t help both play off some extremely common Mi-Go tropes and clichés, which once again is what the Hideous Creatures releases are meant to combat. Finally, we have a very nicely done “Bibliography”, listing some fine fiction to read to help you better design your Mi-Go related encounters.


All in all, this third Hideous Creatures release is a further step in the right direction as each one of these pieces is better than the preceding ones. However, what’s here still isn’t very useful and doesn’t quite achieve its goal of revitalizing a Lovecraftian creation. If anything, the piece does the opposite by relying too much on what has been done before and also basically saying, “Just rip-off X-Files and use Mi-Go as the aliens instead!” which is just tacky and lazy to me. I can’t say what is here is worth three dollars, but at least the pieces are getting better and that’s one positive worth focusing on. Maybe the fourth time will be the charm?



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hideous Creatures: Mi-Go
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13th Age Core Book
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2013 00:42:39

13th Age takes the OGL d20 foundations and turns it to it's most photogenic angle and gave it proper lighting. All the things you expect from it are there, but they look and feel better.


13th Age is presented very well, and puts down into writing tricks that many GMs have implemented in their own games. The result of this is that new GMs, or GMs who feel very closely bound by the rules find a new kind of freedom in the story-focused mechanics that were absent from other d20 fantasy games. In some cases, I get the feeling that there are GMs that really feel the need for these things to be found in the Rules As Written in order for it to be valid as to destroy any doubt as to the source of their decision to improvise as opposed to "houseruling" the same ideas.


This doesn't mean that 13th Age doesn't bring anything new to the table. There are a few interesting mechanics, such as the Escalation Die, which could be an extra thing to look forward to in combat as a bonus to represent combat momentum is a neat idea.


Given this, it's impossible to give 13th Age poor marks, but the challenge for it is how it can innovate beyond introducing story elements into d20. The metagame reasons for its design are sound, and the Icons are a great idea for helping GMs, but after applying lessons that have been in general circulation in non-d20 games for years I'm having a little bit of trouble finding how else it can come off as better.


That said if you like d20, and are looking to bring in more story elements into your game, then 13th Age is a no brainer. Get it study it and use what you can get out of it. Old hands at story games on the other hand might find 13th Age to be a little bit underwhelming as it feels like a "My First Storygame" manual for D20 fans.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
13th Age Core Book
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13th Age Core Book
by Naomi B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2013 23:29:29

This is a little too 4E for my tastes but some of the ideas will work at 3.X. It was interesting that one of the Icons was a Druid but there were no druids in the classes (no monks either). The lack of these two classes that I prefer to play probably figured large in my disappointment and low score.
The game seemed designed for participants in the conflict between the Icons or running errands for them. There was a suggestion that even if PCs were working for themselves, they were somehow under the command of an Icon. A little convoluted for me.
Probably an excellent setting for those wanting themes within themes.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Hi Naimo, The Druid and Monk classes will both feature in the 13 True Ways supplement and will be available for free download.
Mutant City Blues
by TTR S. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/17/2013 07:28:03

This is an excellent game that has a fun and interesting take on the Cop Drama genre and superpower/mutant games, and one that fits the Gumshoe system perfectly.
Mutant City Blues is set in the near future, where 1% of the population have developed mutant powers in a similar style to The X-Men. To borrow a line from the book, that means 1% of the criminals now have superpowers, and 1% of the police and other law enforcement officers that pursue them.
In the fictional world presented in the book, the law (and society) has adapted to this new status quo by accepting most of these new abilities, possession of some powers require licencing and other are outright outlawed, with a horrific “Minority Reportesque” pre-emptive incarceration and forced sedation in store for anybody that is unfortunate enough to manifest them, but most powers are simply accepted and are now accepted as part of society as a whole. Law Enforcement of the world recognised the need for a special unit dedicated to dealing with mutant related cases, and this is where the players are assumed to be placed.
I’ve seen this referred to as a “Superhero” game, but I believe those people have taken a drastically incorrect view of the setting. This, in my view, is a Cop Drama first and foremost. Law and Order the RPG, with mutants. While the setting does include “superpowers”, a gritty realism is (or rather, can be) a core element of the setting and it works very well when used.
The Gumshoe system lends itself very well to the setting. The new “Quade Diagram” pseudo-scientific system used to create the “Mutations” and related “Defects” is truly excellent. It make creating a character with mutations very interesting, sure you can create Superman or Spider-Man or Wolverine, but you have to take the bad with the good, and the defects (that are mandatory when taking certain powers) are quite severe. The standard Gumshoe system of Investigation and General points works very well, perhaps best in this setting than in any of the other printed Gumshoe book.
As a GM, I found this game was best run with two player characters, creating either a “Law or Order” or “Buddy Cop” feel, depending on the attitudes of the players at the time.
This is a fantastic game, and deserves a lot more people playing it that I suspect it gets.


TTR Steve Marsh – Host of The Tabletop Review
www.thetabletopreview.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutant City Blues
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Hideous Creatures: Hounds of Tindalos
by Russell S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2013 18:14:59

Like Delta Green, this is the real stuff.


As I have heard it, H.P. Lovecraft avoided writing about ghosts, vampires and werewolves because even by the 1920s they had been done to death and had became familiar and eventually predictable. His Cthulhu mythos was unknown, unknowable and by it's existence proved undeniably that the universe was darker and more horrid than we could begin to imagine. With the success of Call of Cthulhu and other rpgs, as well as H.P.'s dissemination into pop culture, we are seeing something like the fate of those previous monsters occur to the mythos. The deep ones, once symbolic of genetic corruption and a doom that would overwhelm us by sheer weight of their endless numbers have become all too often CoC's aquatic orcs.


In this entry of "Ken Writes About Stuff" Kenneth Hite goes to inspiring lengths to redress the erosion of the horrible and bring back a sense of threat and unknowable alien quality to one member of the mythos and he knocks it out of the park. As with all of the entries in this series the reader is given a wide selection of alternate takes on the creature with ample options to make even overly familiar mythos creatures fresh. These fall into the handy form of various spins in which he gives a new angle to depicting them, a list of possible new abilities, brief insights into how various pc skill sets could be used to analyze and possibly deal with an entity, followed by a brief bibliography.


The modular nature of the suggestions will allow you to breathe new life into the most familiar of monsters but could possibly disenfranchise players familiar with the original works the creatures originate from. Remember though you are playing in the horror genre and if you didn't want to be messed with you came to the wrong place son.


It is a scant $3.00 download and for that price this level of quality is sublime. Don't take my word for it, buy one, I reccomend this one for the sheer alien quality of these stalking menaces. I think you will be as pleased as your players will be horrified.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hideous Creatures: Hounds of Tindalos
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Die Glocke
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/30/2013 15:02:23

An outstanding summation of the publicly available information on the "glocke" project. Provides excellent ideas for use in your RPG, and even actually describes what the facility probably ACTUALLY was (definitely not what the conspiracy nuts think). Reproduction is excellent and looks very printer friendly. The price wasn't bad either. Kenneth Hite is a real gem in that he can pull together these widely disparate sources and tie them up so that it looks like a really neat conspiratorial package that can easily be used to generate a scenario or even an entire campaign. As a general rule, I recommend anything he writes as highly valuable reading material, and "Die Glocke" is no exception. Five stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Die Glocke
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The New Hero: Volume 1
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/27/2013 11:37:07

This isn't just a collection of short stories, it is a thoughtful analysis of what it means to be a hero, what a hero actually is.


All too often the term 'hero' is used inappropriately. A great sportsman is admirable to be sure, but he isn't a hero just for his abilities at his chosen sport however many times someone might talk about sporting heroes. The Introduction talks about the concept of 'the hero' within the literary context, but the stories that follow speak of heroes.


Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things for the purpose of bettering the world for everyone who lives in it. Theirs can be a lonely path, a difficult and dangerous one, and heroes are found in the most unlikely places. Sometimes its about standing firm about what you hold to be true, even when nobody else agrees. Sometimes it is the more conventional image of taking risks to rescue others.


Read these tales. They'll give you more than the mere entertainment of well-crafted stories, they'll give you something to think about.


Oh, and take a moment to examine the cover closely. At a swift glance it looks like Greek pottery art, but you'll find much more there if you take a look - a bit like the stories within.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The New Hero: Volume 1
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The Lion and The Aardvark
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/20/2013 09:18:13

I have always loved Æsop's Fables, so leaped upon a modern collection of similar tales with eager glee! And I have not been disappointed. From an analysis of why Æsop's Fables have proved so enduringly popular from editor Robin D. Laws to the individual tales, there is much to be found here be it from a casual dip to a detailed read... and re-read (I forsee many of those, this is going straight onto my e-book reader!).


Interestingly, despite a wide range of authors contributing, the stories are told with almost a common voice, the style of Æsop himself - yet still retain each individual author's own flair in storytelling.


I shall be learning a few (many?) of these to add to my traditional storytelling repetoire, they're that good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lion and The Aardvark
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