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Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/23/2014 02:09:16

http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2014/04/2-
3/rezension-tianxia-blood-silk-jade/


Mit diesem Spiel hat es ein weiteres Kickstarter-Projekt erfolgreich bis zur Umsetzung geschafft. In diesem Settingband für Fate Core bereisen die Spieler als Kung-Fu-Künstler, wohlhabende Händler oder warmherzige Mönche die gefährliche Grenzprovinz des Reiches. Zahlreiche Abenteuer in rechtlosem Raum erwarten die Männer und Frauen des Grenzgebietes. Zu ihrer Verteidigung können sie auf mächtige Kung-Fu-Techniken zurückgreifen. Techniken, bei denen selbst Bruce Lee oder Jackie Chan der Atem stocken würde. Willkommen zu Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade.


Inhalt


Mit Tianxia erscheint für Fate Core bereits das zweite Wuxia-Setting. Tianxia entführt uns nach Shenzhou, einem fiktiven Staat, der dem imperialen China nachempfunden ist. Aus mystischer Sicht existieren drei große Religionen innerhalb des Reiches: Der Legalismus, der dem Konfuzianismus nachempfunden wurde; die Jünger Bodhisattvas, die den Buddhismus als Vorbild haben sowie die Anhänger des Tao, die, wenig überraschend, ihre Wurzeln im Daoismus haben. Die Vorstellung der einzelnen Religionen wurde auf wenige Grundprinzipien beschränkt, um Gläubigen der echten Religionen nicht versehentlich auf die Füße zu treten. Ebenso wie sein Vorbild aus der realen Welt, ist Shenzhou ein Kaiserreich. Zahlreiche Handelswege durchziehen das Land, um kostbare Waren, wie zum Beispiel die Namen gebenden Handelswaren Seide und Jade, in die Hauptstadt zu transportieren. Die Rolle der Frau ist im Vergleich zur historischen Vorlage wesentlich liberaler. Frauen können die gleichen Aufgaben übernehmen wie Männer und auch homosexuelle Partnerschaften werden allgemein akzeptiert.


Das Reich besteht aus insgesamt neun unterschiedlichen Provinzen, aber nur die Provinz Jiangzhou wird in dem Settingband näher besprochen. Dieses wilde und gesetzlose Gebiet ist durch den schwunghaften Handel ein sehr attraktives Pflaster für allerlei Volk. Auf den Lebensadern, dem Seidenfluss und der Jadestraße, gibt es großen Bedarf an abenteuerlustigen Männern und Frauen. Große Handelsketten, verschlagene Diebesbanden, mysteriöse Kulte und verschwiegene Kampfkunstschulen bilden ein explosives Gemisch, das nur auf die Einmischung vorlauter Spieler wartet.


Die Beschreibung Jiangzhous vermittelt die Situation in der Provinz recht anschaulich, jedoch bleiben die Ausführungen sehr vage. Lediglich Bao Jiang, die größte Stadt der Provinz, wird detaillierter beschrieben. Die beschriebenen Charaktere sind glaubhaft und immer mit etwas Hintergrund versehen. Insgesamt wird eine glaubhafte Welt umrissen, die aber leider etwas zu vage gehalten ist, um ohne viel Vorbereitung ins Spiel einsteigen zu können.


Die Charaktererschaffung hat nur wenige Neuerungen gegenüber Fate Core zu bieten. Zum einen beginnen die Charaktere durch einen gestiegenen Grundwert an Schicksalspunkten das Spiel etwas mächtiger. Zum anderen erhalten sie Zugang auf die neue Fähigkeit Chi, die die mentale Ausgeglichenheit eines Charakters beschreibt.


Es ist jedem Charakter mit Chi möglich, eine Chi-Rüstung, eine Art übernatürlichen Schutzpanzer, zu erschaffen, der physischen Schaden vom Charakter abhalten soll. Dies ist ein Automatismus, der zu Beginn jeder Auseinandersetzung als freie Aktion ausgeführt werden darf. Es ist natürlich auch möglich, Charaktere ohne Kenntnis in Kung Fu zu erstellen, dies ist aber ausdrücklich nicht empfehlenswert. Je besser ein Charakter in den Kung-Fu-Künsten bewandert ist, desto höher ist sein Jianghu–Rang, ein grober Maßstab, an welcher Position der Charakter in der Hackordnung der Provinz steht.


Ein besserer Kung-Fu-Kämpfer kann seine Gegner davon abhalten, gegen ihn zusammenzuarbeiten, er erhält freie Anwendungen auf seinen Kung-Fu-Aspekt und erschwert es seinen Gegnern, eine Chi-Rüstung zu entwickeln.


Eine besondere Erwähnung verdienen auch die Kung-Fu-Regeln von Tianxia. Für einen Punkt des Grundwertes darf der Charakter einen Kung-Fu-Stil wählen und seine erste Technik erhalten. Durch die Ausgabe weiterer Schicksals- oder Stunt–Punkte können weitere Techniken gekauft werden. Hat ein Spieler alle sechs Techniken seines Stiles als Stunts erlernt, kann er während eines bedeutenden Meilensteins auf die Erhöhung eines Grundwerts verzichten, um die Meisterschaft eines Stils zu erlangen und damit die dazu gehörige geheime Technik zu erlernen.


Bemerkenswert ist auch, wie ein eigener Stil gewählt wird. In einer Art Baukastensystem kombiniert man ein Element mit einem Tiersymbol. Jedem Element und jedem Tier sind jeweils drei Techniken zugeordnet. Als Elemente existieren Wald, Geist, Eisen, Blitz, Stein und Sturm. Stilgebende Tiere sind Kranich, Drache, Affe, Phönix, Schlange und Tiger. Der daraus gebildete Aspekt darf durchaus poetischer formuliert werden, solange die Herkunft noch erkennbar ist. Der Stil Waldaffe darf also durchaus auch mit einem poetischen Titel wie zum Beispiel Der Affe steigt auf den Baum umschrieben werden. Auch weitere Besonderheiten wie z.B. Letzter Überlebender der Sturmdrachen-Schule können einzelnen Stilen in der Kampagne eine besondere Rolle einräumen. Zu diesen gewöhnlichen Techniken kommen für jeden Stil noch eine weitere geheime Technik sowie noch ein paar verlorene Techniken hinzu. Gerade diese verlorenen Techniken können unabhängig der gewählten Stile erlernt werden und dienen der weiteren Individualisierung der Charaktere. Nach der Vorstellung einiger beispielhafter Charaktere widmet Tianxia dem Spielleiter ein ausführliches Kapitel. Hier wird erklärt, wie die im Fate Core beschriebenen Grundregeln zur Kampagnenerstellung auf Tianxia umgestaltet werden. Als Beispiel werden einzelne Kernthemen des Genres hervorgehoben. Auch der Umgang mit Niederlagen verdient ein eigenes Kapitel. Ein Kapitel über die mögliche Opposition sowie eine Liste mit Inspirationsquellen aus Film und Literatur runden den Spielleiterbereich ab.


Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis


Für 15 USD erhält man einen liebevoll gestalteten Settingband, der gemeinsam mit dem Fate Core–Grundregelwerk zu vielen spannenden Geschichten einlädt. Neben der liebevollen Aufmachung, stimmungsvollen Grafiken und dem oben beschriebenen Inhalt bleiben kaum Wünsche offen. Insgesamt ist das Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis ein Vergleich auf Augenhöhe. Es werden zwar keine Informationen verschenkt, aber der Leser wird auch nicht über den Tisch gezogen.


Erscheinungsbild


Der Band präsentiert sich ansprechend. Der Hintergrund ist schlicht und zugunsten der Lesbarkeit wurde auf eine aufwändige Hintergrundgrafik verzichtet. Die Kapiteleinstiegsseiten werden hingegen durch einen roten, edel gehaltenen Hintergrund hervorgehoben und mit schönen Zeichnungen untermalt. Randinformationen werden entweder in einem dunklen Grau oder dunklem Rot präsentiert. Aspekte werden im laufenden Text rot dargestellt und fallen daher sofort ins Auge. Insgesamt sind die Texte sehr gut zu lesen, nur die Kapiteleinstiege sorgen durch ungünstige Kontraste ab und an für Lesefrust.


Die Qualität der Zeichnungen ist überdurchschnittlich und fängt den Geist des Settings sehr gut ein. Dabei ist der comichafte Stil das ausschlaggebende Merkmal. Damit ist deutlich zu spüren, dass das Setting sich selbst nicht so ernst nimmt, sondern vielmehr kinoreife Aktion und Spaß in den Vordergrund stellt.


Das Inhaltsverzeichnis ist voll verlinkt und auch in der Datei zur Navigation hinterlegt. Leider gilt dies nicht für den Index und auch im Text angesprochene Verweise sind nicht verlinkt.


Insgesamt ein sehr gelungener Band, der leider noch nicht vollständig im medialen Zeitalter angekommen ist.


Fazit


Mit Tianxia bekommt man ein solides Wuxia-Setting ohne große Schnörkel. Die Welt ist liebevoll gestaltet, die Regelerweiterungen sinnvoll, ohne übermäßig kompliziert zu werden, und der Schauplatz bietet Zündstoff für viele spannende Geschichten. Die grafische Aufmachung ist sehr gut, die Illustrationen stimmungsvoll und inspirierend. Technisch patzt die PDF-Datei leider, indem Seitenangaben im Text und im Index nicht verlinkt wurden.


Wie bei den meisten Fate Core–Settings, ist ein direktes Losspielen nicht möglich, da die Kampagne auf die Charaktere zugeschnitten sein sollte. Im Spielleiterbereich befinden sich aber genug Ideen, mit denen eine Kampagne in Gang gebracht werden kann.


Leider wird zu keiner Zeit die Aussprache der Wörter lautmalerisch dargestellt, weshalb je nach Aussprache die einzelnen Begriffe sehr ähnlich klingen. Gerade bei Namen wie Shenzhou, Jiangzhou und Jianghu ist die Verwechslungsgefahr schon sehr groß.


Für die Zukunft sind zusätzliche Materialien geplant. Im Rahmen der Kickstarter-Kampagne wurden bereits einige Bestandteile wie ein Lifepath Generator erstellt und befinden sich bereits im Test. Weitere freigeschaltete Stretch Goals sind Settingbände zu den nördlichen und südlichen Provinzen sowie ein Sonderband für ein spezielles Kung-Fu-Magiesystem. Es bleibt also spannend in der Welt von Tianxia.


Für Fans des Genres lohnt sich Tianxia auf jeden Fall, aber auch Genreneulinge können durchaus einen Blick riskieren.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade
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Beacon City METAs Issue 01
by Joey C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2014 22:24:06

Jack Norris's write-up on running villainous player characters and campaigns is wonderful stuff, particularly for someone like me who enjoys super-hero comics, but has read only a modest selection. He discusses the kinds of possible PC villains and why you'd want to run them - and maybe, in some cases, why you wouldn't. He also gives various suggestions on how to get villains together, how to run a such a game in a rewarding way, and how bring the campaign to a satiisfying end. There are probably many ways to play PC villains badly, but Norris gives some great advice on how to run them well.


There is a really cool selection of characters in this supplement, too, with a wide range of backgrounds, power sets, and power levels (PL6 all the way to PL15). Each is evocative. I found myself asking of each character, "What sort of team would this person be on?" or "What kind of team would oppose them?" and lots of themes came to mind. Speaking as a GM, alll of these would make great NPC's.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beacon City METAs Issue 01
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Devilish Duos:Crime and Punishment
by Jae C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/27/2014 03:53:11

I like vigilance press products, not least because they usually give value for money - Crime and Punishment comes with Herolab files for both Mr Crime and Mr Punishment as well as for enhanced minions and includes print out stand up figures for both Crime and Punishment (but not the enhanced minions - given the amount of white space on that page, that seems a lost opportunity).


I must admit this seems less value than their recent previous packages - out of ten pages you get a cover and backpage, a second print of the characters as shown on the cover (together), a contents page and open licence leaving only six pages of actual content. Individual pictures of each character is shown beside their write ups taking up another page of space (so why the reprint of the cover picture on page two?) - the write ups are of level 7 characters which would seem to limit their inclusion in higher level games but in usual Vigilance Press fashion notes are included about using Mr Crime as a master criminal behind the scenes and using Mr Punishment to torture.


Good points as always is the well thought out characters and the included extras, the bad, and for once I do think there are some bad aspects to this product, is that too much of the book is taken up with repeating the same character pictures in the same pose instead of using the space to detail more about using a master criminal or expanding on the plot use or even including pictures of the enhanced minions (Pl 3 and 4) - Over all I'm glad I bought it and from any other independent publisher this would probably be fine but for me this package isn't up to Vigilance Press's usual high standards. This package feels rushed out and lacks that "Wow, you must buy this NOW!" feel as a result.


Artwork is good but not worth reprinting four times (if you include their use on the figures), the write up of both Crime and Punishment is good and well thought out (they immediately put me in mind of Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar from Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere"), the plots and the extras are always welcome, however the notes on master criminals and torture are way too brief and should have been expanded.


I've given 4 stars out of 5 because this really is a missed opportunity.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Devilish Duos:Crime and Punishment
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Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade
by Christopher L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2014 13:30:57

Having been an avid and loyal customer to Vigilance Press for some time, I was already very eager to see what they had to bring to the FATE Core community. Add in the fact that I am a very passionate individual when it comes to Wuxia style fiction, I had some reservations as FATE had yet to really delve into such a realm and this would be among the first settings to do so.


Immediately upon opening the pdf for review, I was absolutely amazed with the Typography, Layout, and upon delving into the fiction and details behind the world I was absolutely blown away. Everything is explained in fine detail, and even if the style is a bit foreign for some people it becomes fairly fluid to pick up on. Stat blocks for key individuals are laid out with relative art that lives up to and exceeds expectations.


Among my favorite mechanical bits involves the translation of flavor of common elements within Wuxia (Flashbacks and Montage being among the most common) into the FATE system. It is very clear that great lengths were put into the detail and precision of each use of the mechanics to reflect the style of the setting, and is a prime example that many other authors should strive to live up to.


Going further into the book one can find details on how to assemble their own personal style by combining extremely accurate Elements and Body (Stances), each with their own mechanical and flavorful alternatives. Even beyond that are examples on how to build each one with appropriate mechanical explanations and even ways of explaining lost styles and techniques as they relate to the history of the already rich world.


By the very end of the book, a well layed out collection of example characters and play are provided that can provide the much needed insight for both players and game masters alike. For Game Masters, there is a complete Bestiary, collection of tips for running games and how to sustain various parts of the world. There is enough material here to really get into a one-shot that can flourish into a full on campaign. Optional rules abound, with optional check-lists to help put together entertaining and fulfilling conflicts for the players to run through.


Having been one of the investors for the Kickstarter Campaign I am absolutely thrilled with the amount of content this setting provides and will be a foundation to which can act as inspiration for just about any game placed within the world or to provide a reference on how to truly embody the Wuxia genre!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade
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Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade
by Joshua R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/22/2014 10:00:35

We have had a lot of fun with the game, especially one shots!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Due Vigilance- Black Chapter
by David F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/12/2014 18:46:31

Another great product from Vigilance Press!


I got the Black Chapter after I bought the Oktobermen. I enjoy the characters and like how they are linked to the Oktobermen.


The Library section is a great source for creating an 'agency' that the characters can work with or against, depending on how you use the book.


More Hero Lab files! Always a bonus... Just wish they had put the artwork into the Hero Lab files and completed the Personal Tabs.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Due Vigilance- Black Chapter
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The Oktobermen Special Edition (M&M)
by David F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/12/2014 18:36:50

I enjoyed listening to the Vigilance Press podcast of Beacon City so I bought the book & pdf so I could see the character stats.


I like the book. The artwork is well done and the physical book is nice. The quality of the physical book surprised me a little. I am used to smaller publishers delivering 'cheap' books. Not this one!


The characters are very well thought out and they all come with a good background story. I really like the relationship diagram in the beginning. It shows you how they feel about each other. A big help when the GM is using them in the story.


As a bonus, you get the Hero Lab files for the characters. (I love Hero Lab. It is a great product too). I only wish that the Hero Lab files were completely filled out. (The Personal tab has the artwork but the rest of it is at defaults. Not a big issue, just wish it was complete. I am a little picky about my players filling out all fields on all of the tabs.)


In all, this is a great addition to any Mutants and Masterminds collection, especially if your game has any kind of a mystic vibe.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Oktobermen Special Edition (M&M)
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Devilish Duos: Windsinger and The Williwaw
by Jae C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2014 08:25:48

Yet another excellent product from Vigilance Press - In the company's ongoing tradition of giving excellent value for money you get the write up and stats of this conman Shaman and his restrained (for now) demonic companion, you get separate pictures to show players, you get the cardboard cut out figures and you get the Herolab stats - the high quality of both the characters they design and the value for money their products give puts Vigilance Press products up there with Green Ronin products themselves.


Some products you buy for completion sake, this is definitely a product that both GM and players will enjoy and should make for a fun evening of play.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Devilish Duos: Windsinger and The Williwaw
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Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 4 (ICONS)
by andrew b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2013 15:37:54

I gave a negative review of this series. I have come to regret this choice the more I reviewed this product. I now feel I should update my conclusions and try to be a more informative reviewer for my readers and not vent my financial venom into the RPGNow community.


I will list my negative conclusions, all of which one might have immediately upon purchasing the product and after an initial review. My reactions were this. Too expensive. I write it out into two paticular paragraphs which I will now repost.


"I have to say I was highly disappointed by this product. I have been really craving new Icons products, and this does fit that bill... but is highly expensive for what you end up getting. Each of these products are about 50 to 70 pages and they charge top dollar for everything you get. Each installment covers about ten archetypes... tells some general things about it... comic world examples... aspects... and 1 character example. For this they charge 8 to 10 dollars each. That means for the complete set of 40 archetypes and characters covered over lets say 240 pages you are going to play $34."


"Now compared to some text heavy systems like D&D and Hero, this really isnt a lot. If you compare this to the Icons Villianomicon, my golden standard on this line which is sold for just $10 dollars and covers 51 characters, you see why this is so painful in comparison. Not to mention that all of the Field Guides (and Villianomicon as well, unfortunately) do not use any of the new and wonderfully utilitarian rules used introduced in Great Powers."


Now this may have felt right when I wrote it then... unbudgeted money is hard to come by sometimes. ICONS is a wonderful rules light RPG and many of its products seem to have a lower price tag. This means that... for me... everything in the ICONS series that I have an interest in, I own. Try saying that with one of the big boy systems. Can't do it. All those huge volumes of books with dense blocks of game statistics to chew through right in the middle of combat or an intense roleplaying scene. Not ICONS... which fits the storyteller's hands like silk gloves... minimalistic and smoothe and airey even.This is why this product kind of dinged me kind of hard.


Now I have read of the books, and the more I do the more I have come to enjoy this product. At the time, I just wanted ICONS stuff. Give me scenarios, characters, vehicles, base aspects. I wanted all of that... like a sugar addict in a brightly lit mall candy store. This book is a little light on this aspect, and yet so much more.


As it lists in its description, the author, a bonafide doctor of the subject of superheroes, lists different archetypes all comic book characters fall into. He offers a traditional explanation and suggests where to draw inspiration for aspects and even important tips on the archetype mentioned. Each one has a prim example rolled up so you see what an Animal Hero would look like up against a Woman Warrior. Also the author sneaks in his own world around the book. He offers a glossary of terms and some new powers, etc. So I would consider this work more of a guide to an outlined superhero rpg setting. The academics are fun considering how candy coated ICONS can get sometimes. Someone new to this system could purchase these books and then attach an interesting scenaro or two... and have a very functinal world outlined with very broad strokes painting a very unique, yet faithful setting. This aspect of these books took me a bit to discover.


So changing my conclusions before. This book has a lot to offer and is unique in the ICONS series. I highly recommend it and continue to find reading it pleasurable and useful. The cost was kind of steep for me but with all things considered I am glad I aquired it and believe you will too.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 4 (ICONS)
Click to show product description

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Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 3 (ICONS)
by andrew b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2013 15:37:16

I gave a negative review of this series. I have come to regret this choice the more I reviewed this product. I now feel I should update my conclusions and try to be a more informative reviewer for my readers and not vent my financial venom into the RPGNow community.


I will list my negative conclusions, all of which one might have immediately upon purchasing the product and after an initial review. My reactions were this. Too expensive. I write it out into two paticular paragraphs which I will now repost.


"I have to say I was highly disappointed by this product. I have been really craving new Icons products, and this does fit that bill... but is highly expensive for what you end up getting. Each of these products are about 50 to 70 pages and they charge top dollar for everything you get. Each installment covers about ten archetypes... tells some general things about it... comic world examples... aspects... and 1 character example. For this they charge 8 to 10 dollars each. That means for the complete set of 40 archetypes and characters covered over lets say 240 pages you are going to play $34."


"Now compared to some text heavy systems like D&D and Hero, this really isnt a lot. If you compare this to the Icons Villianomicon, my golden standard on this line which is sold for just $10 dollars and covers 51 characters, you see why this is so painful in comparison. Not to mention that all of the Field Guides (and Villianomicon as well, unfortunately) do not use any of the new and wonderfully utilitarian rules used introduced in Great Powers."


Now this may have felt right when I wrote it then... unbudgeted money is hard to come by sometimes. ICONS is a wonderful rules light RPG and many of its products seem to have a lower price tag. This means that... for me... everything in the ICONS series that I have an interest in, I own. Try saying that with one of the big boy systems. Can't do it. All those huge volumes of books with dense blocks of game statistics to chew through right in the middle of combat or an intense roleplaying scene. Not ICONS... which fits the storyteller's hands like silk gloves... minimalistic and smoothe and airey even.This is why this product kind of dinged me kind of hard.


Now I have read of the books, and the more I do the more I have come to enjoy this product. At the time, I just wanted ICONS stuff. Give me scenarios, characters, vehicles, base aspects. I wanted all of that... like a sugar addict in a brightly lit mall candy store. This book is a little light on this aspect, and yet so much more.


As it lists in its description, the author, a bonafide doctor of the subject of superheroes, lists different archetypes all comic book characters fall into. He offers a traditional explanation and suggests where to draw inspiration for aspects and even important tips on the archetype mentioned. Each one has a prim example rolled up so you see what an Animal Hero would look like up against a Woman Warrior. Also the author sneaks in his own world around the book. He offers a glossary of terms and some new powers, etc. So I would consider this work more of a guide to an outlined superhero rpg setting. The academics are fun considering how candy coated ICONS can get sometimes. Someone new to this system could purchase these books and then attach an interesting scenaro or two... and have a very functinal world outlined with very broad strokes painting a very unique, yet faithful setting. This aspect of these books took me a bit to discover.


So changing my conclusions before. This book has a lot to offer and is unique in the ICONS series. I highly recommend it and continue to find reading it pleasurable and useful. The cost was kind of steep for me but with all things considered I am glad I aquired it and believe you will too.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 3 (ICONS)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 2 (ICONS)
by andrew b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2013 15:36:42

I gave a negative review of this series. I have come to regret this choice the more I reviewed this product. I now feel I should update my conclusions and try to be a more informative reviewer for my readers and not vent my financial venom into the RPGNow community.


I will list my negative conclusions, all of which one might have immediately upon purchasing the product and after an initial review. My reactions were this. Too expensive. I write it out into two paticular paragraphs which I will now repost.


"I have to say I was highly disappointed by this product. I have been really craving new Icons products, and this does fit that bill... but is highly expensive for what you end up getting. Each of these products are about 50 to 70 pages and they charge top dollar for everything you get. Each installment covers about ten archetypes... tells some general things about it... comic world examples... aspects... and 1 character example. For this they charge 8 to 10 dollars each. That means for the complete set of 40 archetypes and characters covered over lets say 240 pages you are going to play $34."


"Now compared to some text heavy systems like D&D and Hero, this really isnt a lot. If you compare this to the Icons Villianomicon, my golden standard on this line which is sold for just $10 dollars and covers 51 characters, you see why this is so painful in comparison. Not to mention that all of the Field Guides (and Villianomicon as well, unfortunately) do not use any of the new and wonderfully utilitarian rules used introduced in Great Powers."


Now this may have felt right when I wrote it then... unbudgeted money is hard to come by sometimes. ICONS is a wonderful rules light RPG and many of its products seem to have a lower price tag. This means that... for me... everything in the ICONS series that I have an interest in, I own. Try saying that with one of the big boy systems. Can't do it. All those huge volumes of books with dense blocks of game statistics to chew through right in the middle of combat or an intense roleplaying scene. Not ICONS... which fits the storyteller's hands like silk gloves... minimalistic and smoothe and airey even.This is why this product kind of dinged me kind of hard.


Now I have read of the books, and the more I do the more I have come to enjoy this product. At the time, I just wanted ICONS stuff. Give me scenarios, characters, vehicles, base aspects. I wanted all of that... like a sugar addict in a brightly lit mall candy store. This book is a little light on this aspect, and yet so much more.


As it lists in its description, the author, a bonafide doctor of the subject of superheroes, lists different archetypes all comic book characters fall into. He offers a traditional explanation and suggests where to draw inspiration for aspects and even important tips on the archetype mentioned. Each one has a prim example rolled up so you see what an Animal Hero would look like up against a Woman Warrior. Also the author sneaks in his own world around the book. He offers a glossary of terms and some new powers, etc. So I would consider this work more of a guide to an outlined superhero rpg setting. The academics are fun considering how candy coated ICONS can get sometimes. Someone new to this system could purchase these books and then attach an interesting scenaro or two... and have a very functinal world outlined with very broad strokes painting a very unique, yet faithful setting. This aspect of these books took me a bit to discover.


So changing my conclusions before. This book has a lot to offer and is unique in the ICONS series. I highly recommend it and continue to find reading it pleasurable and useful. The cost was kind of steep for me but with all things considered I am glad I aquired it and believe you will too.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 2 (ICONS)
Click to show product description

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Due Vigilance- SixGun
by Marc P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2013 19:41:58

Claimer: As a reviewer I do my best to maintain objectivity with regards to the products I review. For rules supplements this is usually easy. For character folios and genre sourcebooks that objectivity can sometimes slip away in the face of a particular theme or genre that you either love or hate. Why do I mention this? Because, I freakin' love cyborgs!


Who are Sixgun?
Sixgun is a group of mercenaries that you can drop into your game setting to run amok. Outfitted with high tech cybernetics, high end weaponry, and in one case cutting edge genetic modification, Sixgun are a ready to work for whomever will pay the bills, often with little in the way of reservations or compunctions about the job's specifics. Not shockingly Sixgun has six members.



  • Camo - The group's lone woman and infiltration specialist. Her bionics make her the ideal "face" of the group.

  • Deadeye - Outfitted with incredibly advanced cybernetic eyes and a powerful rifle Deadeye is the group's over-watch and their sniper.

  • Echelon (stylized as 3chelon) - The group's recon and hacking specialist. His cybernetically controlled network of drones provides the group with scouting and additional surprise firepower.

  • Headcase - The "full conversion cyborg" of the group. Headcase is a full on sociopath who's brain is all that is left of his human body.

  • Marauder - The group's leader, and both the glue that keeps the team together and the oil that keeps them moving.

  • Spot - The genetic chimera of the group, a beast built from the best predators on earth and then wired into the group with the same cybernetic communications implants that the others have.


As in prior Due Vigilance products each character is given a full workup; background, personality, artwork, and fully detailed character sheets. In addition we get both written group dynamics and, returning from the first in the series, a relationship map which allows for the reader to quickly ascertain how each character sees the others in the group. A page of tactics, group history, and a sidebar on how to use mercenary groups round out the first eighteen pages.


Character write-ups are interesting and well written, with thought given to character's backgrounds and how those influence their role within the group. The character sheets are generally clearly laid out and are very diverse within the group, again giving each member a clear role that their build backs up.


Extra Ammo
In addition to the above there is a history of OPC, the company that built Sixgun and now hunts them, a sidebar on how mercenary groups work in the real world, a handful of plot seeds, three additional NPCs, and standees for use at your table.


The history of OPC, combined with Sixgun's own history, gives a good idea of the company. They become yet another antagonist group for the GM to use,and could easily be a recurring element in a campaign. The extra NPCs are supporting players, providing Sixgun's primary employer reference (a.k.a. Mr Johnson), their chief repairs specialist, and an outsourced transportation specialist. A clever GM could easily build multiple sessions worth of material around Sixgun, their supporting players, and OPC, generating an entire campaign around bringing down OPC and bringing Sixgun to justice. Alternately Sixgun could easily provide additional firepower for a less powerful "mastermind" style villain to use against the heroes.


Art & Layout
As is quickly becoming evident Vigilance Press really cares about the presentation of their products. The layout is as clean and accessible as it has been in prior products. Meanwhile, the artwork is top notch, easily looking as good, or better, as anything coming out of the major publishers. As before, this artwork is used on the standees as well, ensuring that if you use them they will really stand out attractively on your table.


Closing Thoughts
For the price Sixgun is easily the match for prior Due Vigilance products and stands out very well compared against Green Ronin's Threat Reports from two years ago. The quality of the artwork, writing, and the thoughtful nature of the product's extras provide a very usable product. This is easily one of the better character folios I have read.


Rating: 100% - Maybe I'm not at my most objective here, but this is the Due Vigilance product I think I'd use before any other thus far.


Author's note: A review copy of the product was provided to me by Vigilance Press for the purposes of this review.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Due Vigilance- SixGun
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Due Vigilance- SixGun
by Jae C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2013 05:52:32

This is a company that clearly loves it products and respects its customers - for the price you get an excellent pdf of super-powered mercenaries, well designed yet flexible enough that you use them them in any capacity including as the Marauders or the A-Team - all options are possible. The characters are extremely well written, and as in Black Chapter (another excellent must have), they are well thought out and come with "I want" extras whether its their cyberpathic link that enhances their team work or their useful NPCs (including a Russian female equivalent of Mad Murdoch).


For the money you get a well designed PDF, all of the hero lab files, separate graphics of all the main characters and the cardboard figures to use in play. What's not to like... If you play M&M3e then this is a must have!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Due Vigilance- SixGun
by Sean F. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2013 15:12:46

Excellent art and layout. Well-written write-ups. Solid mechanics. This is a fantastic book for any GM running M&M and wanting a mercenary crew with high-tech gear and weapons for their heroes to fight.


It's also an excellent book for any GM wanting to get more into the complexities of having a merc team as part of the super-powered landscape. I absolutely love the relationship chart for the team; what a fantastic way to give the GM the necessary shortcuts to portray the dynamics right out of the box!


Well worth the price, and a fine addition to your superpowered RPG bag of tricks.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Due Vigilance- SixGun
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2013 11:57:35

It had to happen.


We have groups of superheroes working as part of legitimate law enforcement or as vigilantes. We have groups of supervillians busy about their schemes for world domination... and so now we have a bunch operating as a private military company available for hire to, well, anyone who can pay their fee.


They are a fascinating bunch, these heroes-for-hire. There's plenty of background for the GM to take aboard and use to weave SixGun into the plot. Allies or enemies? That's up to you. You could even decide that they are your party of characters - they are well-developed enough to make fascinating pre-gens, and indeed the background suggests a campaign-full of plot ideas even as you read through it. Group dynamics, in particular, are detailed comprehensively and should prove entertaining in play.


There are several adventure ideas supplied, as well as complete individual backgrounds and character sheets for each member of the group as well as a comprehensive overview of the group itself and how it came to be. There are also some 'supporting cast' characters - a pilot, a cyber-doctor who runs their maintenance and even a potential client - each with their own plot hooks and tie-ins to SixGun themselves.


For those who like to lay it all out on the table there are paper 'standee' miniatures for all characters (and a neat stealth aircraft); and there's enough details about Private Miliary Companies to enable you to use them effectively in your game even if you haven't been tracking their rise in real life. Overall an excellent resource with loads of potential!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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