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Moreau Files 2 (ICONS)
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/22/2011 18:57:06

This “Second Dispatch” adds two new characters to the Vigilance Press super-powered universe.


The Rukh bears some similarity to a cross between Ra’s al-Ghul’s personality and the Vulture’s power set. As an activist who works against both corrupt elements within his own country’s government and against U.S. interests, he presents some interest possibilities for forcing morally ambiguous decisions on superheroic PCs.


The Eyes of Medusa is an international terrorist organization run by Madame Medusa, who inherited the mantle of leadership from her mother. The product includes writeups for Madame Medusa herself and for Eyes of Medusa mooks. The difference in motivations between the original and current Madames Medusa—which I won’t spoil here—makes for an interesting twist.


Like its predecessor in the Moreau-1 Files series, however, this product is marred by extremely poor proofreading. The front cover and page headers refer (properly) to the high-flying Qameristanian activist as the “Rukh,” but the detailed write-up consistently spells his super-moniker as “Ruhk,” except for one obvious but uncorrected typo, “Ruhlk.” Even the product description page spells his name three ways: “Rukh,” “Ruhk,” and “Ruhl.” Madame Medusa’s personal name is spelled inconsistently as “Evelynn” or “Eveyln.” A variety of less noticeable grammatical errors pepper the product. Errors like this really shouldn’t slip by in a product so short. This could easily be a four-star product, maybe even rating five stars, if not for such sloppy production.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Moreau Files 2 (ICONS)
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Wargames: Heroes and Villains of the Cold War (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/19/2011 21:53:53

WHAT WORKS: General Venom's character design is very swell, and Vigilance Press again shows that ICONS can be used for more than just "animated series" type stuff that people seem to think it is limited to. The cover is also great, using trade dress that resembles a GI Joe action figure card. Venom, himself, is another fantastic example of how Vigilance pays homage to certain characters without ripping them off - While it is easy to see the image and the House of Serpents, combined with the GI Joe action figure call out, and think "Oh, it's Cobra Commander"...you would be dead wrong, as there are a number of elements included (even a bit of Iron Man), making Venom feel like a fleshed out character, rather than athinly veiled knock-off like you get in many supers products.


WHAT DOESN'T WORK: While I'm not terribly hardcore in my ideology, I've figured out that I'm a biiiit to the right of the Vigilance Press guys - which is fine, as I think folks should feel free to believe what they believe until they start hurting someone else - but there were points where I was a tad uncomfortable with the first villain presented for the Wargames setting being presented as a worst case scenario for a superpowered Tea Partier. There were also a few points, especially in the Venom PDF, where the layout seemed to have a bit of wasted space that a different font size or something might have fixed.


CONCLUSION: The setting certainly has promise, although it is definitely in less politically "safe" territory than World War II, so it is possible that a given segment of the gaming population may not be thrilled with the presentation. It is absolutely worth getting while it's free, and if the Cold War-esque setting appeals to you, then it's probably worth purchasing as well. With a little tweak, Venom and the House of Serpents could easily be dropped into a number of settings (despite my comments above, I would have zero problem using him in a game - and could have much fun using him alongside The Patriot from the Villainomicon, in the right game, of course). Thumbs up on the overall presentation, just be aware that Wargames is NOT just WWII, with Russians inserted in place of Nazis.


For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.-
blogspot.com/2011/06/tommys-take-on-wargames-heroes-and.html-



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wargames: Heroes and Villains of the Cold War (ICONS)
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Amazing Stories of WWII: Homefront Heroes (MM 3e)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/29/2011 15:07:05

If your superheroic campaign had a golden age (World War II and thereabouts), Homefront Heroes will be useful for it. While the M&M statistic could have been better presented, they are still excellent character backgrounds and art as inspiration for your campaign’s history and early heroes, with the inexpensive price of this product it is well worth a look.


Amazing Stories of World War II: Homefront Heroes for Mutants and Masterminds (3rd Edition)is a 32-page PDF (29 pages less cover, credits and OGL) written by Steve Perrin and published by Vigilance Press.


The layout is a standard, dual column design and eminently readable. The cover and interior art is all full color, some period bits (ration book and coupons) are just flavor but the cover and interior art of the characters, done in four pieces each showing three of the heroes, by Jon Gibbons is quite amazing, almost worth the price of admission alone.


This product begins with a short discussion of the historical and publishing background to the homefront heroes, defining (for the purpose of this work) the golden age of comics, the involvement of the US in World War II (both pre and post Pearl Harbor), and some discussion on what life on the home front was like. Providing a useful, if general, primer to the period and setting.


Next come the heart of the book, twelve archetypes for the classic sorts of homefront heroes. Seven of which are taken from the original golden age comics and include such characters as: the Genius Kid, the 4F (someone who failed their medical exam to get into the military) and Other than Human (ghosts, spirits and aliens). The last five are from the modern look back upon the golden age and include: the Minority Hero, the Pacifist and the Rosie the Riveter-type heroine. A satisfactorily wide range of options is provided.


Each of the archetypes is given a completely written out hero or heroine to demonstrate how they work (and each also refers to classic comic book characters that fall within that archetype). All of these are quite fun from Captain Awesome, the genius kid with his roller skates and slingshot, to the crime fighting White Lady and the ghostly Brother Survivor. A wide and varied mix of inspiring characters for the setting. Unfortunately, the formatting on the game statistics is not as clear as one would wish for and the build could have been a bit tighter


Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThruRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. The majority of this review is reworked from my review of the ICONS version of Homefront Heroes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Stories of WWII: Homefront Heroes (MM 3e)
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Public Enemies (ICONS)
by Anon A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/14/2011 22:32:07

Good book, especially for the price. The villians each had good hooks and backgrounds. They were not retreads of established characters - they were all fresh, and showed what coudl be done with the system.
I just wish they could have been longer. I would have paid twice as much for a little more. But, for the price it is great.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Public Enemies (ICONS)
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Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 2 (ICONS)
by John P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2011 16:19:17

This is a solid effort by Tondro. The example characters are a mixed bag in this book too, but seem to be better than Volume One. The Road Scholar is one of my favorites, and his new power of Super-Vehicle is a great addition to the ICONS system. The problems I have with it are relatively minor. The Inspiration is a nice addition too. I don't know how it will work in play, with the wrong game master, it might be used to short circuit adventures, and players who don't get enough information, might think it was a waste of a power, but it is a good idea.


I still think that the price for the page count is a little high. I think $5.00 would make it a better deal. The use of all caps makes reading long paragraphs difficult. The Jungle Hero and Feral Hero examples are a little too similar and could have been combined in my opinion.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 2 (ICONS)
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Amazing Stories of WWII: Homefront Heroes (ICONS)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/03/2011 13:38:34

If your superheroic campaign had a golden age (World War II and thereabouts), Homefront Heroes will be useful for it. Even if you just use the characters and art as inspiration for your campaign’s history and early heroes, it is more than worth the incredibly inexpensive price of this product.


Amazing Stories of World War II: Homefront Heroes for the ICONS Super Role-Playing Game is a 28-page PDF (24 pages less cover, credits and OGL) written by Steve Perrin and published by Vigilance Press.


The layout is a standard, dual column design and eminently readable. The cover and interior art is all full color, some period bits (ration book and coupons) are just flavor but the cover and interior art of the characters, done in four pieces each showing three of the heroes, by Jon Gibbons is quite amazing, almost worth the price of admission alone.


This product begins with a short discussion of the historical and publishing background to the homefront heroes, defining (for the purpose of this work) the golden age of comics, the involvement of the US in World War II (both pre and post Pearl Harbor), and some discussion on what life on the home front was like. Providing a useful, if general, primer to the period and setting.


Next come the heart of the book, twelve archetypes for the classic sorts of homefront heroes. Seven of which are taken from the original golden age comics and include such characters as: the Genius Kid, the 4F (someone who failed their medical exam to get into the military) and Other than Human (ghosts, spirits and aliens). The last five are from the modern look back upon the golden age and include: the Minority Hero, the Pacifist and the Rosie the Riveter-type heroine. A satisfactorily wide range of options.


Each of the archetypes is given a completely written out hero or heroine to demonstrate how they work (and each also refers to classic comic book characters that fall within that archetype). All of these are quite fun from Captain Awesome, the genius kid with his roller skates and slingshot, to the crime fighting White Lady and the ghostly Brother Survivor. A wide and varied mix of inspiring characters for the setting.


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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Stories of WWII: Homefront Heroes (ICONS)
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Crown Guard: Heroes of WW II (M&M 3e)
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2011 22:42:39

The same superheroes who populate the ICONS (and, I presume, BASH) versions of the “Crown Guard” appear here, statted out for Mutants & Masterminds 3e. I really enjoyed this presentation of a British-organized European superhero team from Vigilance's WWII setting. Although brief, the in-character comments either from the heroes themselves or associated characters add flavor. Since M&M stat blocks are a bit longer than ICONS stat blocks, this version of the booklet adds individual hero illustrations for Excalibur and Repulse. As with the ICONS version, I would have appreciated individual illustrations of the other characters, and a key for the group illustration on page 8. It isn't too hard to decipher, but a caption or key would have been nice anyway. The body text could also stand to be set in a more interesting typeface.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crown Guard: Heroes of WW II (M&M 3e)
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USHER Dossiers (ICONS)
by Joseph B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2011 13:30:42

Over the last decade, Charles Rice has shared bits and pieces of his amazing USHER superhero setting with us through various game systems (like d20 Modern) and publishers (RPGObjects and his own Vigilance Press), so I was thrilled to hear that he was doing this definitive work, this time for the ICONS system. The one thing that really impresses me is how the Vigilance Universe feels every bit as real as the Marvel and DC Universes - it makes you wish you could walk into a comic book shop and ask for the latest issue of Minuteman or Old Glory, or finally pick up a collector's copy of Amazing Stories of WWII #1 on eBay after years of searching. It's a great supers setting and the artwork by James Dawsey, Jon Gibbons, and Dan Houser really makes it come alive. This is a stellar piece of work and a great addition to the ICONS game system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
USHER Dossiers (ICONS)
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USHER Dossiers (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2011 10:51:46

The Good:



  • Very nice supers universe with actual time progression, rather than Marvel/DC "floating time".

  • An extensive history built to a jumping off point for your own campaign.

  • As usual, the characters manage to feel inspired by existing comic characters without ever feeling like rip-offs.


The Bad:



  • Some key players are still left undefined.

  • The editing could have used much closer attention, as there appears to be two pictures that were swapped, at least one missing picture and noticeable typos.

  • No table of contents or index.


For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogs-
pot.com/2011/02/tommys-take-on-usher-dossiers.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Moreau Files 2 (ICONS)
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2011 13:30:58

if you're nostalgic for the days of the Marvel universe when Hydra was not the instigator of World War II, then you'll like this product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Moreau Files 2 (ICONS)
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USHER Dossiers (ICONS)
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2011 13:24:33

The GM of my current icons campaign, someone who like myself has been gaming for over 20 years, says of the Usher Dossiers that it's one of the best written RPG supplements he's read in years. The art by Dan Houser doesn't hurt either. There's a lot of useful stuff in here for your house campaigns as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
USHER Dossiers (ICONS)
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Eugenics Brigade: Villains of WWII (M&M 3e)
by Justin I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/01/2011 23:34:34

You can never have too many meta human Nazis and the Eugenics Brigade contains some nasty ones. I've not playtested them yet, but everything seems to be in order stats-wise. The artwork is nice and fits. The characters each have briefing reports that make them setting neutrel, but still leaves with great flair and background.


The product's content gets a 5 out of 5.


I'd give the layout 4 out of 5. The only issue I had was with the formatting of the stat blocks. There were spaces and indentations that seemed very superfluous.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eugenics Brigade: Villains of WWII (M&M 3e)
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Crown Guard: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/30/2011 19:45:25

I really enjoyed this presentation of a British-organized European superhero team from Vigilance's WWII setting. Although brief, the in-character comments either from the heroes themselves or associated characters add flavor. I would have appreciated individual illustrations of each character; only John Bull receives a separate illustration, and it's inconsistent with the group illustration on the cover (which also occupies the entirety of page 7). That group illustration isn't too hard to decipher, but a caption or key would have been nice anyway.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crown Guard: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
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Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 2 (ICONS)
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/25/2011 02:33:19

Like volume 1 in the series, Jason Tondro’s “Field Guide to Superheroes, Vol. 2” presents ten superhero archetypes: the descendant, the divine hero, the embodiment, the ex-con, the femme feline, the feral hero, the focused hero, the gadget guy/girl, the handicapped hero, and the jungle hero. For each of these archetypes, Tondro first gives an overview of the archetype, then illustrates the archetype with a specific example hero from Vigilance Press’s “Worlds of Wonder” setting.


Volume 2 improves slightly on volume 1 (which I have also reviewed for DriveThruRPG) by assigning names to the heroes who appear (illustrated by Dan Houser) unstatted alongside the archetype descriptions as well as those who are statted out as examples. However, volume 2 does no better with regard to ethnic and gender diversity. Out of 20 illustrated heroes, 12 are white males; three are impossible to characterize due to their appearance, armor, or mutations; three appear to be white females; and two are black males (one of them a boxer). I hope that future volumes will seek broader representation. In a similar vein, the Veil (a Muslim “resurrected” as an atheist with a Punisher-style approach to crimefighting) from volume 1 and Gabriel (an angel with wings dripping blood) and the Grail (a descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, ripped from the pages of Dan Brown’s fiction) from volume 2 seem almost calculated to offend Islamic and Christian sensibilities, respectively.


On the other hand, for readers interested in the “Worlds of Wonder” setting, volume 2 provides a more direct look at that world than did the lexicon in volume 1. A concluding section on “Wonder Culture” describes the national (USA) and interplanetary contexts in which superheroes (“wonders”) operate in the “Worlds of Wonder” setting. As always, Dan Houser’s artwork gives the product that extra ICONS look and feel.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 2 (ICONS)
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Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 1
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/23/2011 19:43:24

Each volume in the “Field Guide to Superheroes” series presents ten superhero archetypes, written up mechanically for ICONS but applicable to any superhero RPG. This first volume introduces the alien hero, android, animal hero, armored wonder, astronaut, avatar, comic relief, creepy hero, dark avenger, and defender. Just from the labels given, it’s evident that author Jason Tondro takes a functional rather than formal approach to superhero archetypes. That is, for Tondro, an archetype is not a power/ability template to be skinned, but a role in a superhero universe. For each archetype, Tondro offers a general description of the archetype, with ideas for typical qualities, challenges, powers, and so forth. This presentation usually occupies one or two pages, and includes an illustration be the, um, iconic ICONS artist, Dan Houser. Tondro then applies his own advice by presenting a specific hero for the Vigilance Press “Worlds of Wonder” setting. For each such hero, Tondro gives ICONS stats plus at least two or three pages of generally enjoyable “fluff.”


Tondro clearly “gets” the free-wheeling, fun-loving ICONS vibe, and this comes through in heroes like Wundermaus and the fabulous Frog-Girl. I consider Prometheus and the Veil to be the most inventive and interesting implementations of their archetypes (the avatar and dark avenger, respectively) in the book. Gigawatt seemed to have a far more tenuous connection with his archetype, the defender.


The character write-ups provide, by example, several great ideas for hero qualities and challenges. Two sidebars also introduce new powers: adaptation and equipment. A “Worlds of Wonder Lexicon” at the end of the book presents, alphabetically, dozens of significant aspects of the setting. It sounds like a fun world in which to set superhero adventures.


Volume 1 of the “Field Guide” exhibits generally high production values, though a few mistakes (such as the misuse of “pouring” for “poring”) did slip through. Also, for example, Tondro’s text tells us that the Eagle has white wings, but Houser’s drawing gives him brown wings. The lexicon entry for “Wonder Stories” doesn’t seem to fit, and the entries for “Wondercare,” “Wonderland,” and “Wonderwear” actually reproduce the definitions for “Tomorrow Man,” “Who Wants to Be a Wonder,” and “Wonder,” respectively. As a PDF, the book could greatly benefit from bookmarks. Also, the use of all capital letters throughout imitates the style of comic book word balloons but isn’t really appropriate for long blocks of text.


I very much enjoyed this product and look forward to volume 2.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 1
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