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Fistful of Fantasy: 01
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/19/2012 09:01:44

Do you remember the Hook, Line and Sinker series from Knights of the Dinner Table? A Fistful of Fantasy is basically that, but with a higher standard of writing.

It's not a unique way to present plots with options - Toys for the Sandbox does something similar, but it is effective.

So, what do you get for your 69 cents?

You get 5 plot hooks or Legends, presented as a small piece of fiction that the players may overhear or have fed to them when appropriate. This is followed by The Truth behind the Legend - what actually happened. You are then presented 2 to 3 Stories. These are the seeds for the GM to work out further for the players to explore. Similar to TftSB, you don't need to waste Stories that you don't use immediately. There's enough here to use for inspiration later.

Each of these 5 plot hooks takes up a page, including a decent piece of art on each. Well, done James. I'll be looking forward to more in the series



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fistful of Fantasy: 01
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Filthy Shades Cliché
by Robin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2012 04:03:43

This is what I get for challenging Grim! Easily worth 50 cents. Only buy if you're over 18 with an open mind and ability to laugh at bad literature.

Great stuff!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Filthy Shades Cliché
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Clipart Critters 264 - Live, Dead, Girls
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2012 14:59:17

Zombie girl for publication or personal use. Easy to understand attached license.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 264 - Live, Dead, Girls
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Clipart Critters 210 - Studying Wizard
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2012 14:48:35

Nice art of a wizard in his study with a book.

Included license is easy to read and use.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 210 - Studying Wizard
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Clipart Critters 197 - Demonic Pact
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2012 14:29:27

Great looking Faustian pact with included (but not danger to your soul) license.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 197 - Demonic Pact
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Clipart Critters 148 - Squid Face
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2012 14:01:25

A cool underwater or mutant threat. Easy to understand and use attached license.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 148 - Squid Face
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TobyArt 1: War Priests
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2012 13:44:37

Very, very pleased with this one. There are few in this collection I am also rather fond of and I know they will improve the look of my project. 10 images in total. Easy to read and understand attached license. I would have preferred TIFF or PSD images, but like I said, a couple are so perfect that I can deal.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TobyArt 1: War Priests
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Clipart Critters 163 - Dragon Woman
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2012 13:40:03

Great piece of art of a half-dragon or a woman in mid transformation to or from a dragon. Easy to read and understand attached licensee.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 163 - Dragon Woman
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Clipart Critters 150 - Elven Harem Girl
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2012 13:33:40

Great bit of art with an easy to read and understand license. A little bit more than other pieces of art I have seen here, but it is near perfect for a project so I grabbed it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 150 - Elven Harem Girl
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Irrepressible!
by Martin B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2012 14:39:49

A great little game that captures the spirit of the TV program we all grew up with. Character generation is quick and easy without being two dimensional. The task resolution system is based on a bag with a number of beads; all of them bar one being white. If you draw the single black bead once, it's bad. Draw it twice - it's a disaster! Comes with a perfectly reasonable sample adventure. All in all very good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Irrepressible!
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Agents of S.W.I.N.G.
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/26/2012 15:23:00

Let's talk about a fun little game called Agents of S.W.I.N.G. It came out from Postmortem Studios and was written by James Desborough (you may have heard of him). I'm writing this review because because this is a cool little game that deserves the attention, and because James is a creator who also deserves the attention. Now, I'm not a fan of everything that Postmortem does, but I am a fan of this game.

Agents of S.W.I.N.G. uses a Fate 3.0 hack at its core, but unlike many other of the contemporary Fate hacks, this version is a bit more streamlined than what you are going to find in other third party builds. Don't let that 344 pages on the RPGNow fool you because Agents of S.W.I.N.G. is a digest-sized book, unlike the letter-sized books that the other Fate hacks have been. If Agents had been done in a letter size it would have been a much slimmer book.

James shows an understanding of the underlying concepts and mechanics of the Fate rules when he digs in and streamlines the mechanics to get to what he wants to do with them. I'll get back to that in just a bit because I want to talk about the setting, and then get back to how the rules make this setting work. Agents of S.W.I.N.G. is a solid game that everyone who enjoys cinematic, fast-paced espionage gaming should own.

Agents of S.W.I.N.G. is a game of Swinging 60s British Spy-Fi television and movies.Shows like The Avengers, The Man From UNCLE, Danger Man and The Prisoner are the basis of this game. For those who might not know about Spy-Fi, Wikipedia gives a nice definition:

It often uses a secret agent (solo or in a team) or superspy whose mission is a showcase of science fiction elements such as technology and ideas used for extortion, plots for world domination or world destruction, futuristic weapons, gadgets and fast vehicles that can travel on land, fly, or sail on or under the sea. Spy-fi does not necessarily present espionage as it is practiced in reality. It is escapist fantasy that emphasizes glamour, adventure and derring-do.

This isn't a game, or setting of gritty espionage, like the current James Bond movies or the spate of Bourne movies, but one that embraces the pulpiness of the genre. Agents of S.W.I.N.G. is a game where John Drake can rub elbows with the Doctor and go off and fight Communist tyranny. In fact, if you look closely at the extensive collection of NPCs in the book you might just find analogues for both of those characters. There is even plenty of support for the Sci-Fi gadgetry that is so important to this genre.

Then we get to Fate. As we all know, Fate 3.0 is the engine that was built for Evil Hat's Spirit of the Century game, a high-flying game of pulp adventure, that has been adapted to be used for everything from urban fantasy to space opera to traditional fantasy games. The inherent pulpiness of Fate makes it a great match for this genre. James then streamlines and customizes the rules in his build, to make the rules fit into the concepts of Spy-Fi even better. One of the fundamental (to me) changes is the change to the adjective ladder of Fate. Fate (and the Fudge rules from which it is derived) is built around the concept of the adjective ladder as both a tool for descriptions and as the core resolution mechanic. This is the adjective ladder used in Agents of S.W.I.N.G.:

8: Out of sight 7: Far out 6: Fab 5: Groovy 4: Neat 3: Solid 2: Hip 1: Cool 0: Yawn -1: Bent -2: Crummy -3: Bummer

James cooked the Swinging 1960s London right into the core of the system. This is a good thing, because the rules help to reinforce the mindset of the setting and pull the players both into the setting and their characters. Each time you roll the dice in Agents of S.W.I.N.G. you are sucked into thinking like someone in Swinging London.

Agents of S.W.I.N.G. introduces a point-buy system to Fate that does away with pyramids and extensive stunts and perquisites. The point buy system for Skills in this game is particularly good (and time saving). Something that I plan to use should I run another Fate game myself. Basically, what James does is make each rank worth a point (so a skill purchased at Hip costs 2 points and a skill purchased at Groovy costs 5 points) and then gives starting characters 20 points with which to purchase skills. You can get a surprisingly adept character out of this method, which I am sure was the point. Stunts are similarly broken down and streamlined.

You can find an expanded review over at my blog: http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2012/06/lets-talk-about-agents-of-swing.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Agents of S.W.I.N.G.
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Doc Osmium: Synchronius Maximus
by Drew T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2012 23:33:40

Trans-human over-man as neo-pulp superhero. With a nod and a wink to a pantheon of heroes from Doc Savage to Buckaroo Banzai, Doc Osmium drives headlong into an uncanny chain of events. A Gordian knot of synchronicity that can only be unraveled with a little perspective from an outside source.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Doc Osmium: Synchronius Maximus
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Mimsy Burogrove Psychedelic Detective: The Prison of Concentration
by Drew T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2012 23:26:20

Very genuine feel of psychedelia in the Psychedelic Age. A fine intro to an interesting character in an intriguing setting. Definitely need more Mimsy Burogrove.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mimsy Burogrove Psychedelic Detective: The Prison of Concentration
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Tobyart 012 - Dwarf Axeman
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2012 03:18:47

With a style that is instantly recognizable, one can not go wrong with stock art from Tobyart, period. His art is clean, it is clear, and it pops off of the page and demands attention.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tobyart 012 - Dwarf Axeman
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Irrepressible!
by Colin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/19/2012 07:37:37

As soon as I saw the name of this RPG I knew what it was about. That is the place the 1970s Japanese TV series 'Monkey' has on me. When it was on, I missed the first couple of episodes, but it didn't matter. We soon picked up that a young boy monk was travelling to get some scriptures in the company of some rather powerful demons, if a bit prone to silly human failings. This one word evokes a lot of memories of when I was 14-15, watching 'Monkey' and of course, the 'Water Margin'. A silly bit of martial arts fun after the all too serious and worthy "Kung Fu" of a few years earlier.

Underlying that is a tale of an aged monk who was once a disciple of Buddha, and a monkey who represents unrestrained thought, and former officers of heaven fallen from grace and a dragon travelling for scriptures from the West (here meaning India) for the Emperor of China. They gets into various scrapes, and lessons are learned, disasters met and enlightenment sought. This was written in the Ming Dynasty, but set in the earlier T'ang dynasty of the 7th Century.

But we were more into the colourful fight scenes and demons and the FUN!

Any thought of a silly intro I had for this review, showing that I knew the source, was blown out of the water, tha author is straight up front about it. If you haven't seen it, try and get hold of the 1970s TV series starring Masaaki Sakai called, simply "Monkey". If you call it "Saiyūki" and you aren't Japanese, I may have to slap you. Watch a few episodes to get the feel, practice the slightly breathy style of the narrator. Go to this site http://www.greatsage.net/ and watch the wee video on the front page for how to call up a flying cloud, we all did at the time.

Adventures in this universe should be a mix of peril, a terrible threat (though possibly served with inept minions), human eating demons, demons that want to be human, vampires, ghosts, treasures, trickery, humour and a step on the path to some greater goal. If you can work in a misguided or evil Taoist magician or spirit so much the better.

So. Here is the game. System light as anything, so one for people to have fun with, not for those who need an airtight system to protect them from the players/GM. CHaracter driven not only in the role-playing sense, but the attributes are character driven, rather than physical. They are paired positive/negative e.g. Charity/Selfishness. You can use these as the basis of skills when making a skill check.

A nice touch is that, should you seen to enlighten yourself by moving towards the positive of a pair, if that attribute is negative, initially you reduce your effectiveness until you start building up the positive side of a pair. You have to unlearn bad habits after all.

Skill checks are by random draws from a bag, so you'll need some coloured beads. One evil and the rest good. The author suggests black and white respectively, but I would suggest red instead of white, as red is lucky and white associated with mourning. He also refers to the West meaning Europeans but, of course, the West is also India which is the spiritual goal of the whole quest. ;)

The system of paired positive/negative character attributes is very stealable by the way, I have a thought for a Film Noir game based around it, and it should focus the players on their character's character, rather than the physical abilities as so often happens.

The system very much suits the game though, and the emphasis is on the light style of the TV show as opposed to the original work of Wu Cheng-en. So cod accents, silly feats and grumbling about doing the right thing, or tricking you're less bright brothers to help you, definitely the order of the day. THIS IS MEANT TO BE FUN. Yup. A bit of terror, a bit of laughter, some peril, a moral and character lesson, but FUN!

There is a handy list of proverbs to chuck in if your own imagination fails you, and a random magic item description table, though the GM will have to rule on what the power of the North Weeping Drum is. Whatever it is, I bet it will be misused. Bound to be.

If you are stuck for ideas, or want to be a bit more accurate in your description of Chinese Society, then an easy intro would be the Judge Dee stories of Robert Van Gulik, which are written as if Ming versions of stories set in the same T'ang time and you can plunder some of the supernatural there for more ideas for your group of Pilgrims to encounter. I'd also recomment the three books by Barry Hughart "Bridge of Birds", "The Sotry of the Stone" and "Eight Skilled Gentlemen"

Two sentence summary? If you like Mythic China and can have friendly fun, play this game. If you see RPGs as a competition, don't.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Irrepressible!
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