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The Otherverse America Catalog Spring 2013
by Michael D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2013 12:36:40
Meh. The intro to the company's products... For an intro, it doesn't whet my appetite for more. In fact, it does the exact opposite.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Otherverse America Catalog Spring 2013
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Autorun -Generic Cyber-Hacking for D20 Modern
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2013 06:50:05
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/05/20/tabletop-review-autorun-
-generic-cyber-hacking-for-d20-modern/

I have a confession to make: I don’t play enough cyberpunk games. Still, I am familiar with the whole issue of one player (the “decker” generally) entering the realm of cyberspace while the rest of the party does something else. Split the party, split the game master’s attention, make it easier to lose track of stuff. Got it, I see the problem. What Autorun is trying to do is to help solve or minimize the issues that this causes at the table, by essentially introducing a mini-game that the decker(s) can play while everyone else is doing their stuff they need to do.

Plug In

The introductory material for this sourcebook indicates that it can be used with systems like D20 Modern or Pathfinder (Pathfinder…?), but of course, it can be hacked to work with anything. The only real stats have to do with the various anti-hacker programs and decker equipment that use Difficulty Class (“DC”), the rest is just conceptual. The book also makes some presumptions, like that I would be playing a game where players wait for turns, that I would be using tactical maps or battle mats, and it generally assumes a sort of typical Pathfinder play experience.

Setting up a hacking event with Autorun is pretty easy, there’s a one-page 8.5×11 hex map to print out that represents the virtual space. After that gets put out, some sort of marker is physically thrown onto the map to represent “code walls”, spaces the hacker can’t pass through. Then, depending on how strong the computer security is, a number of programs are placed on the Goal space of the mat, and the hacker is placed on the Home space on the other end. Basically, the hacker has to get through the code walls and malicious programs to reach the Goal space.

Ride the Wave of Computer Use Checks

When a hacker is trying to gain entry to the virtual space, and when the hacker wants to do various things inside the space like kill, evade, or subvert programs, he or she is going to need to make lots of checks against Computer Use, or whatever skill is analogous to that in the game that is being played. Programs move automatically toward the hacker in the most direct possible way, so he or she will likely end up having to tangle with them. The book provides lots of possible programs to run against the hacker, from the lowly and weak Basic Gremlin to the Dracula program; each one takes up a certain amount of slots, which are the available space of the computer system to host programs. When the player has programs in a hex next to them, they are going to suffer damage. This sounds a bit arbitrary to me, but whatever. As mentioned, players can try to either kill, subvert (so that the program attacks other programs), or evade the programs around them. Each time, they will need to roll Computer Use.

Once a hacker reaches the Goal space, that’s it! Balloons fall from the ceiling, prizes are won and the hacker achieves whatever they were trying to do inside the system.

Autorun seems geared toward a certain play style, but I think it’s definitely a neat idea. It’s certainly a quick, tactical game within a game. It has shortcomings, like the fact that it’s very two-dimensional when a lot of the cyberpunk fiction we read talks about flying in virtual space or doing other crazy stunts (like things we see in The Matrix). The hacker is more like a running-back trying to score a touchdown than a traveler of the virtual world or a distinct presence and personality in the realm of cyberspace. Speaking of distinct presence, one of the cool aspects about it is that you can (and are encouraged to) use figurines to represent your avatar, so your virtual representation can be any awesome figure you have lying around. I like that.

My nigglings are a bit beside the point, since the book is meant to simulate a specific function: the decker hacking a computer system for a specific goal. It might also be fun to use the cyber-map when playing out encounters in virtual space, like the Black Sun club in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. The author offers several twists and optional rules for the mini-game as well, such as additional obstacles, bigger maps, or Sys-Admins who take you on personally. There are also lists of gear, hacker abilities, and decks. All in all, a good supplement with lots of neat ideas and a nice full-color board you can print out for play.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Autorun -Generic Cyber-Hacking for D20 Modern
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Free20: Forbiddance
by Janessa R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/20/2013 02:23:27
Well, you certainly get what you pay for with this free download. In short - it's terrible.

It's a very short PDF that basically lists types of undead and then turning restrictions for them based on well, they basically plucked reasons out of thin air. If you ate radishes in the last week, you can't turn undead killer tomatoes. In short, it's not only nonsensical, it's *uninspired* nonsense. I would say save your money, but it's free, so save your time instead.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Free20: Forbiddance
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Ley Lines
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/18/2013 13:03:40
If you have considered adding ley lines, or similar magical phenomenon, to your Pathfinder world this product should be a useful resource. Not perfect by any means, but a good starting point for thinking about such magics in a world.

Ley Lines is a Pathfinder source book from Scorched Urf’ studios detailing ley lines, that is the lines of magical force that can exist in a game world (and some say exist on Earth). It details various types of ley lines, divided by color, how they affect magic (and more) and what sort of patterns (“world lace”) they can form to enhance world building along with a meta-explanation for why multiple worlds have ley lines.

To further integrate ley lines into the existing rules there is: a goddess with a new clerical domain and nested sub-domains. A prestige class, Geomancer, whose skill list has not made the transition from 3.5 to Pathfinder. A magic weapon trait and new material (ley ash). With quite a few feats, some of which do not require ley lines including my favorite, Arcane Dancer, however I deeply fear that the Elemental Dominance chain of metamagic feats are overpowered and very abusable. Lastly there are traits linked to ley lines. This product provides a wealth of ley line related resources of various levels of usability.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ley Lines
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The Nemesis Bestiary Volume One
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2013 14:32:30
An interesting concept. 20 monsters complete with stat-blocks, art and description of their special abilities. There is almost no "fluff", just "crunch" to this book. The idea is you create the background yourself.
A lot of the monsters have origins that can be explained (undead, abberation) others just beg for their story to be told (whore eater and God Sperm for example).

Each monster was created in response to a piece of art. So somethings form can flow from function (Arm Stealer) or something else entirely.

If you want a book of ready use monsters, sans backgrounds, then this is a good choice.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Nemesis Bestiary Volume One
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Ghosts and Promises: The Secrets of Kodiak Island
by Richard A S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2013 14:33:51
I can't believe i actually wasted my money on this... I'd have been better off going to the movie theater to watch JJ Abrams Star Trek (2009) at $40 for tickets and snacks.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Ghosts and Promises: The Secrets of Kodiak Island
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Otherverse America Campaign Setting
by Richard A S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2013 14:13:44
In a quick word on what's wrong with this product.... this setting is beyond ridiculous. The political strawmen that makes up the setting is so far out there that it's not even funny. But the premise that Pagans and Pro-Choicers are the good guys, while Christians and Pro-Lifers are the bad guys goes into a whole new shock fest that has basically made up 'Otherverse Games' stock setting.

With the fact that this product line makes heroes of men like Kermit Gosnell makes me wonder just how far our entire society and culture has gone in what can only be classified as a free-fall.

The setting is colored by the worse aspects of creating Strawmen to argue against... and that's saying a lot after having taken the time to read the blog of the creator of this setting and quickly learned just how thin-skinned the guy actually is... and how quickly he wants to get into other peoples faces when it comes to his own stances, and then takes an overblown amount of offense when they don't automatically agree with him and yet still wish him well.

Now I admit that I gave this product a chance because I've liked much of what Skortched Urf' Studios has put out, and have parted ways with my money so I can get them... and i was sorely disappointed with this product, and felt like someone had taken a 50lb. Sledge Hammer to my head with the incredibly one-sided view on what should be an open and honest debate between two points of view. My personal belief is pretty much that the procedure should be legal, but it should be rare and not used as a form of birth control... nor do i support those who want to give mothers the right to kill a child after it's been lucky enough to actually be born.

Now the Pro-Choicers like to say that they want Abortion to be a rare occurrence, but at the same time they remain silent when butchers like Kermit Gosnell and the many other abortion mils show just what is actually happening in many of these clinics. They completely gloss over how these organizations were founded as a method of Genocide against minority groups. They don't want to stand up against the way these abortion mills have made select few billions of dollars at the expense of broken lives and dreams. And yet when someone on the Pro-Life side of the debate does get violent and kills someone... the entire movement comes together to decry this as going against the vary basis of what the movement has been about since it's founding.

And to have this history of actions is completely ignored or derided kind of shows where this setting is all about. Creating a political strawmen to tilt at while making the author feel superior to all those whom they despise for no good reason. And for that reason, I won't be making anymore purchases of anything associated with this product or it's creators. It's their right to write this, produce this and market this. My broken body, along with the honored dead I have had the honor of serving beside defending those freedoms of the creators of this product to do what they wish with their lives and their careers. But i still retain the right to decide that I will not purchase their products in the future. And I will continue to exercise this right by ensuring that I will not be having anything to associate with them.

And I will remain willing to die so that others may express themselves in this manner... but I will not be a patron of their products.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Otherverse America Campaign Setting
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Space Monsters, Volume Three!
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2013 11:17:23
Claiming inspiration from low-budget 1970s space epics, it's not just stock-art that has been used to illustrate - indeed spawn - each and every monster. Some ideas and concepts are clearly there... take for example the adorable little Breeder Poof, a tiny fluffy beast that reproduces like crazy, or at least exponentially, at the drop of a hat. The notes do not mention if they like triticale seeds, but any follower of the original Star Trek will recognise the inspiration for these little menaces!

There is a whole collection of other critters here, all with copious notes on appearance and behaviour along with stats and a picture, plus a section headed 'Role-Playing' that covers not just the creature in question but their role in society as well. Excellent material to help you embed your space monsters into the universe rather than just use them as a monster-of-the-week to provide a spot of combat exercise for the characters.

There are constructs and ancient dinosaur-like creatures, even humanoids, all ready to stride across worlds and do battle... or even be cute and cuddly. It's good to see the 'monster' concept firmly embedded into space gaming, it's not just a fantasy thing!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Space Monsters, Volume Three!
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The Nemesis Bestiary Volume One
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/09/2013 12:29:52
This is 'yet another monster collection' with a few outstanding and unusual features that makes it noteworthy over and above the general usefulness to any GM of having even more monsters to hand...

Conceptually, it's interesting because each beastie has been created in response to a piece of art rather than a load of monsters being dreamed up and then artists commissioned to provide the illustrations. It's an approach which resonates, I once invented a monster when looking at a patch of light on the side of the bath... and it was such a good monster that a whole 3-part adventure grew up around it!

Even better is the way in which they are presented. Along with that inspirational illustration and a standard stat block, the descriptive material - background, behaviour, ecology, etc. - is written up in the style of a 'field report' - not only does this work remarkably well as an in character resource giving verisimiltude to each monster, it suggests the existence in your world of people who go around collecting and describing just like real-world naturalists do. Many suggest adventure ideas even as you read through them. Or perhaps you'll be inspired to play a naturalist character, it's a good role for rangers and certain types of mage for a start, or perhaps a cleric of a nature deity.

The creatures themselves are fascinating, ranging from quite vile (the Arm-Taker) to something that's beautiful (the Diamond Owl) or just plain strange (nearly all of them!). Many will work well in games where barriers between planes or dimensions are weak, you can just imagine them having come from somewhere that is a twisted parody of your own world, having slipped through a crack and possibly being as baffled by this reality as your characters are by them.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Nemesis Bestiary Volume One
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The Modern Spellcaster Basic Class
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/07/2013 11:18:37
This book is for the d20 Modern Game, Pathfinder and a few other d20 based games. It presents a generic form of a spellcaster that isn't a wizard, cleric, witch or druid. In a sense it is a throwback to the older "Magic User" class. The basic premise here is to provide full powered (up to spell level 9) spellcasters from D&D like games to your Modern Games. I am not sure how this works out in play, but the concept on it's own is interesting enough. There are new feats and a fun "arcane death" table. Frankly I would like to see that expanded into an "Arcane CSI" to be used in any modern game with magical elements.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Modern Spellcaster Basic Class
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The Niishima Inn
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/04/2013 08:55:29
This is a delightfully atmospheric little piece, set in the Tatakama World but with a portal to a shabby backstreet in modern Tokyo. The people and places are well-described and come to life well, a real feeling of an alternate reality that's out there somewhere.

The setting is a township, Niishima, and much of the main street and surroundings are described as well as the Niishima Inn itself. There's a lot going on, many stories being told and waiting to be told. Several key NPCs are given full stat block treatment, and there are four pre-generated characters (all native to the Tatakama world) that you can use. Other useful things include a Samurai template.

Now, whilst there is a lot going on, a lot to explore and discover here, there is no real 'adventure' as one might define it. Perhaps - especially if using the pre-generated characters - the aim is to find the portal. Or you may choose to turn things on their head and have modern characters find (or fall through!) the portal from modern Tokyo and attempt to survive in this strange world in which they find themselves. The Inn has a couple of haunts which may provide a challenge to those interested in finding out why they are there and how they can be laid to rest.

It's also worth a look if you are running or considering a 'fantasy Japan' setting using Dungeons & Dragons 3.X or the Pathfinder RPG.

Illustrations are beautiful, evocative, traditional Japanese in the main, it's a feast for the eyes as well as a good read!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Niishima Inn
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Nobility and Eros: The Noble Succubus
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/19/2013 09:53:58
Love is a disease.

At least that is how the succubi might feel if you use this supplement in your OGL games. The Noble Succubus (not 100% sold on that name, but it does work and I can't come up with anything better) is a succubus that has become infected. She is no longer a demon, but a creature with a soul that feels. In a sense a "good" (if chaotic) succubus. The role-playing options here abound.
There is plenty of background information that can be used and plenty of hooks into various game worlds including modern, sci-fi and the standard fantasy.
The real meat though is in the crunch on what the differences between the Noble and Demonic Succubi and how to use Noble Succubi as characters.

Myself I would make them much rarer, and still have it be a process that maybe one in 100 Billion succubi could go through. I also think it would be interesting to have a Noble Succubus and for whatever reason choose to remain evil. That would be an adversary worth having.

11 pages with cover and OGL page (13 total). At 2 bucks that's a good deal.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Nobility and Eros: The Noble Succubus
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D20 Decade: The 1980s
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/18/2013 11:43:45
It is difficult not to compare this to Damnation Decade or Solid! in terms of capturing the feel of a decade.
For starters this is for the d20 Modern RPG, which I am not even sure is still being supported by anyone. That all being said, there is a lot of great stuff in this book. There are some pages spent on modifying the d20M skills, in particular how Computers worked then. That and the new Perform (Break Dance) and Perform (Free Style Rap). No Perform (Gymkata!) though. Of particular use to any 80s-based game is the list of common items we take for granted today that just wasn't there then. Easy stuff like Smartphones, but other not so obvious things like Caller ID. Sure there were cellphones, but they were huge and the batter life was only a couple hours. Chapter 1 covers the 80s. At 20% of the book content is really worth the price of the book. It is a great overview of 80s tech, culture and pop psychology. Its not a history book, but it shouldn't be either. Even at 30+ pages somethings are going to be missing; but this is the 80s writ large, not Master's Thesis.
Chapter 2 covers the "Imaginary 80s", an 80s that never was. Among the new races there is also a list of other games you can look into to help you out. With the OGL they could have simply included what they wanted from many of those games, but I thought it was kind of neat to include them. Speaking of the new races, they are really new. Some are twists on familiar concepts, but others are new and all fit the 80s to a tee. My favorite might be the Arcadians (Video game fey) or the Spetsnazski, the Russian Super Soldiers. Cause the only thing more fun than Nazi Weird Science is Russian Weird Science. The Crow Folk and High Solstice Sidhe could work just as well in a Pathfinder game. There are also about 16 new occupations for your 80s character. There are also, surprisingly, 144 new feats! Going past those for a bit there are also 5 new Advanced classes. If you were wondering when the Miami Vice influences would appear then take heart with the Blue Equalizer, which let you play any sort of 80s "Super Cop". Perfect foil for the Drug Lord Advanced Class. These are followed by a few new spells.
The last part, Confetti, has a few bits for the GM for adding 80s flavor to their game. These are also useful for any 80s game.
There is fairly good list of resources both non-fiction and fiction, and a good list of movies, TV shows and graphic novels.
Final the OGL where everything is released as Open Gaming Content. Very nice.
Ok, so this is a really cool idea and a lot of work went into these 164 pages.
Otherverse Games did a great job with this, but I am not without some quibbles.

I am not going to mention anything missing from the 80s. Trying to squeeze an entire decade into a game book is hard and something is going to get left out. If it's not there and you remember it add it on your own. Though missing *something* about a Valley Girl seems a bit like a huge omission to me.
The art is all over the place. Most is fair, but none of it is great.
The layout has a number of issues. The background on the pages is not great. In most cases it is only just there, in others the "page number block" obscures some text. It's the 80s, where are the pastels?
I have mixed feelings about even mentioning it since I have seen newer products of theirs and they look great. This one is an early effort.

Going back to my totally unfair comparison to Damnation Decade, I think it would be interesting to see this updated to something like True 20 (which is at the time of this writing just as dead as d20 Modern) with better layout.

Despite all that I can't help but really like this product. At 6 bucks it is a great buy.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
D20 Decade: The 1980s
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Autorun -Generic Cyber-Hacking for D20 Modern
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/09/2013 05:12:03
Being a computer geek in real life, when playing contemporary/future games I often gravitate towards the 'hacker' character... when I can persuade the GM to accept one, that is! Now I did have one tolerant GM in a Spycraft game who actually spent time creating a system for my character to hack into - just the once, then he found out that my hacking was superior to my character's!

But here is a delightful abstraction that means you do not have to know beans about cyber-intrusion and yet have as much fun with it as our fantasy wizards can have chucking spells around, and face your own style of peril whilst the gunners-and-runners of the party are busy shooting their way into trouble in the meat part of your shared alternate reality.

It's a simple turn-based 'skirmish' on a hex board (supplied for you to print out) pitting Hackers against Programs. Mechanically, its based on your Computer Use skill plus the resources in terms of hardware and software that you are bringing to bear on the challenge defined by the nature of the system that you are hacking into, but instead of a mere die roll to decide the outcome, you game it out move by move as the attacked system attempts to keep you out.

You can describe it any way you like from full-blown Virtual Reality encounters to keyboard tapping realistic intrusions, the real joy is that the hacker gets to be actually doing something just as a combat is not determined by a single roll but involves combatants making choices about how they are going to brawl...

This is a real delight, well worth adding to your contemporary or cyberpunk/near future games. It wouldn't take much work to modify it to run alongside a different ruleset than D20, either, if that is what you need.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Autorun -Generic Cyber-Hacking for D20 Modern
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Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Perfect Archer
by Lord W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2013 08:06:15
Very awesome addition, but for the life of me I can not locate the Skill Points that the Perfect Archer gets at each level.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Perfect Archer
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