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Battlescenes: Operation Bookbinder
by Justin P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2010 17:34:17
This is the first Battlescene I've run and both myself and my players had a very good time with it. Taking place right after the decisive Battle of Midway, Operation Bookbinder sets the stage for retaliation by Japanese super-soldiers. There are two ways to play this out, one using a giant death robot (complete with mini death robots) and one against the Japanese super team, Shinjuwan Juunigatsu (found in Pearl Harbor December: Villains of WWII). I chose to run this against the giant death robot and the flavor for the encounter was perfect. The characters start out as transfers to the USS Enterprise after a message is intercepted which tells of an impending Japanese attack against the ship. The Enterprise had been positioned to look like she was in distress in hopes of luring the attack to the waiting American heroes...

My players chose Old Glory, Captain Miracle, Marauder and Minuteman to take on this Battlescene and they were pushed to their limits trying to handle the scenario. In the end they were victorious but it was down to the wire and required some very quick thinking.

If you are looking for something that really adds flavor to the Vigilance Force setting and provides your players with a difficult challenge that is not easily solved by beating up the bad guy, then I highly recommend Battlescenes: Operation Bookbinder.

Vigilance Press nets a 5/5 rating for this scenario. Even though it's short, it's a well designed encounter that directly adds to the flavor of the setting no matter which antagonist you use when you run it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Battlescenes: Operation Bookbinder
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Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
by Justin P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2010 17:28:11
Vigilance Force by Vigilance Press

World War II has always been my favorite setting for superheroes and this line of products from Vigilance Press reminds me why. Starting with an interview of Old Glory, which reveals how he got his name, and ending with the Atrocity, Vigilance Force provides a solid base for running a WWII game where the PCs have a major impact on historical battles. This particular offering introduces the American heroes of WWII.

What you'll find inside: Vigilance Force starts with an interview with Old Glory, who tells us a little of the backstory behind the team. Next is the Introduction where you get some information on the big picture of the setting and then you get right into the Heroes. They are:

* Captain Miracle - A teenage super-genius who is constantly in trouble with his superiors.
* Deuce - A gadgeteer who is driven by justice.
* Freight Train - An invulnerable speedster who is haunted by the innocents left broken in his path.
* Hornet - She is a world renowned scientist that can shrink and control insects, and is also the only female on the team.
* Marauder - A vicious bulldozer of a soldier who is nearly impervious and heightened senses.
* Minuteman (my personal favorite) - A mechanized suit of armor whose wearer can control time.
* Old Glory - A young boy who can manipulate fire.
* Agent Liberator - A super-soldier who is the only American ever to survive the transformation.
* Talon - Native American superhero who can control wolves and eagles.
* See Bee - Half Human/Half Merman, this hero can control water.

Next up is the adventure hook you can drop in anywhere called "The Atrocity Incident." I'm not going to get into the details of it but suffice to say that the players will probably need to use something other than pure muscle to take this guy out.

One thing I really appreciated from this supplement is that Vigilance Press does a good job of humanizing these larger-than-life heroes, giving the characters offered here their own distinct flavor complete with flaws, relationships and short-comings. Captain Miracle's backstory is missing for some reason, though. Vigilance Press also gets a tip of the hat for the adversaries they come up with which aren't easily taken out with a simple slugfest, requiring the heroes to think outside of the box to take them down. The Atrocity does not disappoint on that level.

Icons never really had me excited until I sat down to play with Vigilance Force in Operation: Bookbinder. Now I am eagerly awaiting the next time I'll get to run one of these.

Vigilance Press gets a 5/5 for Vigilance Force and from what I've seen of the other offerings by them, they're not slowing down. There are some flaws with this first book, such as Captain Miracle's backstory not making it in and the formatting. I'd much prefer having the characters on one single sheet for easy printing and handouts, but I am not going to dock them a star for these shortcomings on a five-point scale. My final scoring would be a 9/10 for Vigilance Force as I feel it is a good introduction to a WWII supers setting with likable characters and a good snapshot of why things are the way they are in the world.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
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Mecha Omega
by jm d. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2010 22:12:22
While I appreciate the less is more concept, I felt that this product was a little lacking in crunchy goodness. Overall, the product provides a good starting point for bringing mecha into a d20 setting, but that's about it.

I was slightly disappointed by the narrow range of mecha weapons and more disappointed by the fairly thin material for kaiju.

I was also dismayed by how weak some of the mecha weapons were. While I understand the tiered equipment structure, I was surprised that a level one energy cannon was inferior to a .45 handgun!

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Mecha Omega
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Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 1
by James C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2010 11:42:16
I'd rate this as the best ICONS supplement to date.

Most of the nitty-gritty is already available in other reviews, so I'll just mention a few points I found interesting.

GOOD POINTS:
1) Mr Tondro's writing is informative, entertaining and reasonably comprehensive. I haven't broken out my finetooth comb yet, but so far I haven't spotted any typos.
2) Mr Houser's art is, as always, very well suited to ICONS. For those who don't know, Mr Houser is also the artist for the ICONS core book.
3) The layout is clean and easily legible.

BAD POINTS:
1) At $7.95 for 75 pages (the last two being Open Game License legalese) and the rest being relatively large text, it tips out slightly over my usual 10 cents per page maximum, but not by much. Considering ICONS itself, as of this writing, is on SALE for $1 and has 72% more pages... Still I'm reasonably satisfied, as the content is definitely of excellent quality.
2) My only real annoyance is that this Secured PDF not only lacks bookmarks (really silly to miss, in my opinion), but doesn't even have SEARCHABLE TEXT, making jumping to the page you want much more difficult than should be necessary.

JUST ODD:
For a Vigilance Press product, this book is slightly light on Nazis. Of the ten sample characters, they only feature prominently in the write ups of the Eagle, Victor, and Wundermaus (think Danger Mouse meets Nick Fury). ;)

OVERALL:
I like this product a lot and I'm looking forward to the rest of the volumes in the series. It would be really nice, however, if the folks at Vigilance Press would kick up their efforts slightly and include both BOOKMARKS and (I can't believe I even have to mention this one) SEARCHABLE TEXT.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 1
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Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 1
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/23/2010 14:35:38
The Good: Some GREAT advice making and using various hero archetypes, usable for many supers games.

The Bad: The sample characters/setting background is noticeably less interesting than the archetype stuff...and longer, too.

The Odd: In almost every case, the "generic" archetype image is cooler than the sample character.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/11/tommys-take-o-
n-field-guide-to.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 1
by Joseph B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2010 22:10:45
Field Guide to Superheroes is a series of four books detailing 40 superhero character archetypes for the Icons system by Adamant Entertainment. The first ten archetypes alphabetically are included in this first volume (A through D). These archetypes are meant to represent the myriad of heroes seen in comics over the years.

The author Jason Tondro has a Ph.D in Literature specializing in Comics, and his knowledge of the genre really shows in this product. But don't let that fool you - this isn't some dry academic treatise - the writing is both informative and entertaining.

Both players and GMs will get a lot out of use from this book whether you use random Icons character generation or point buy. I particularly liked that the author acknowledges out of the gate that there is some overlap between archetypes in the characters seen in the comics. And he doesn't just pay lip service to this idea - the detailed archetypes are all given common related archetypes in the text and example characters.

I especially liked the Qualities and Challenges section found in each archetype. Coming up with these Aspects for Tagging and Compelling use can be the most difficult part of character creation, in particular for people not familiar with the concept, and there are lots of great ideas related to the archetype for fleshing out this section of your character .

There are also two new Powers in here: Adaption (x2) which gives temporarily gives you a Power related to the situation you are in (chosen by the GM or spend a Determination Point to override and pick it yourself) and Equipment, which basically gives you access to an array of low-powered tools (think Batman's Utility Belt).

Finally, after the archetype write-ups, there is a section that introduces the author's personal "default" campaign setting, Worlds of Wonder. This is like a bonus however and doesn't permeate the archetype write-ups which are setting neutral.

The beautiful layout and Dan Houser's artwork puts this product over the top. Vigilance Press has taken the Icons license from Adamant Entertainment and really run with it.

This is a well-crafted enhancement to the Icons core rules. I can honestly say this is the best Icons third party support product I have seen to date and look forward to the rest of the volumes in the series when they come out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ice Palace (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/14/2010 15:17:05
The Good: Very adaptable, both to the PCs tactics and to a whole different era, as you can easily place it in modern times using the Nazi throwback angle.

The Bad: Not a lot.

Conclusion: Just a lot of options and material for the price, with flexibility allowing it to be used in World War II as written or in the modern day with minimal effort.

For a full review (warning: spoilers), please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/11/tommys-take-o-
n-ice-palace.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ice Palace (ICONS)
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Battlescenes: Operation Bookbinder
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/06/2010 02:49:43
The third Battlescenes offering from Vigilance Press is a departure from the first two, featuring the PCs versus your choice between Pearl Harbor December or giant Japanese robots.

It's a straight forward set-up, with the PCs being part of an operation to lure the Japanese into a trap...and, as mentioned, you either get PCs vs Pearl Harbor December or a giant robot and soldiers in power suits.

This is probably closer to what Vigilance Press intended with the Battlescenes, as it really is just a big combat scene (on an aircraft carrier in this case), but it does suffer compared to the detail of the previous two (especially when the first one could be easily transplanted outside of World War II).

Still a cool purchase, especially for the giant robot stats and the vehicles included in the PDF.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Battlescenes: Operation Bookbinder
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Blitzkrieg London (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2010 16:48:00
Blitzkrieg London is a new adventure for ICONS by Vigilance Press, set in their World War II setting.

It is designed for people playing Vigilance Force, The Crown Guard or (possibly) The People's Revolution but as long as your PCs are anyone opposed to the Axis powers and operating in Europe, it shouldn't be too problematic to figure it out.

The Eugenics Brigade are about to launch a desperation assault on allied leaders, who are finalizing plans for D-Day, and the PCs are in London providing extra security.

It isn't a terribly complicated adventure, but it is very well organized, and a good bit of two-fisted fun. Over the course of the attack, the heroes will have the opportunity to fight Nazis on land, sea and air, as well as intervene in a superhero misunderstanding between the Crown Guard member Swordfish and a Captain America stand-in (who acts more like the USAGent).

I applaud them for providing tips on scaling every encounter, as well as tossing in extra "mini-challenges" to spice each encounter up. The adventure is only 17 pages (taking away the cover and OGL information), but is very well organized, making it rather user friendly. Unlike the Battlescenes released recently, however, there is little use if you're not wanting to play in WWII, and you will need at least the Eugenics Brigade PDF to get the most use out of this.

Great value for the price, as always.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blitzkrieg London (ICONS)
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Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
by Dan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2010 15:26:28
Lots of cool characters. The layout really needs redone. Character write-ups are cut in half over two pages a LOT. I'd rather have a couple extra pages, with full character write-ups not split up. Still, it's a great supplement.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
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Public Enemies (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/19/2010 01:23:24
The Good: Another very interesting selection from Vigilance Press, as their setting gets revealed piece by piece. Some very powerful, but interesting, foes.

The Bad: One superteam was given the short end of the stick, development wise...standing out like sore thumbs against the rest of book.

For a full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/10/tommys-take-o-
n-public-enemies.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Public Enemies (ICONS)
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People's Revolution: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2010 02:24:28
We have had the Americans, The Germans, The British and the Japanese...and now, we get the Russians.

This is an interesting product, as it can be used as a group of heroes in World War II, or a group of Villains in a Cold War era...and, either way, doesn't "officially" exist in the Vigilance Press chronology.

Up first is Red Hammer, a Russian supersoldier who essentially becomes kind of a Captain America/Superman to them. He is said to be immune to aging, which isn't mechanically represented anywhere in his stats. I think I understand why, as - aside from Immortality - there IS no "immune to Aging" power...though I think I might would have added Immunity with a new specification (since Immortality would mean he can't be killed, period). As it is, the only thing he has on his sheet that backs it up is Regeneration.

Night Witch is a female Russian pilot with control over electricity.

Ice Fang is a werewolf and soldier, who defends Russia but refuses to make an army of werewolves for them.

Trans-Siberian Express is Ice Fang's closest ally, a superspeedster. The two of them commonly coordinate together on ambushes.

The Red Legionnaire is kinda like what would happen if the Green Lantern ring fell in Russia.

Battle Czar really is kind of a Superman type for the People's Revolution, and is bitter that Red Hammer has assumed control of the team. This leads to potential internal conflicts because of the two.

Sovi-ape was Stalin's one successful attempt at cross-species Eugenics, a simian genius who feels alone in the world.

Revolutionary Fire, as the name sounds, controls flames, but he was also the cheerleader of the team, keeping morale up.

Killer Whale is an outcast from Oceana and a bitter rival of Swordfish of the Crown Guard.

Also included are the necessary rules for using them as a PC team, per the ICONS team rules.

Every character has art, with most of it being provided by Dan Houser and the rest by Jon Gibbons and Darren Calvert. It is a noticeable clash of styles again, but it's still awesome to see every character depicted. Personally, I didn't find the characters to be quite as inspired as in previous supplements, but the usability as heroes or villain, depending on the era, is tremendous. All in all, it's probably my least favorite entry in the line-up (especially among the villain teams), but that has as much to do with how high the bar has been set as anything...if you've enjoyed the series so far, no reason to stop now.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
People's Revolution: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
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Battlescenes: Undead Stormtroopers (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2010 01:45:59
This is, apparently, the first in a series of "drop in and go" mini adventures, brought to you by Vigilance Press, who are offering up much awesomeness in their line of WWII PDFs.







***SPOILER WARNING***




Set in the waning months of the war, it is a last-ditch effort by the Nazis to bolster their numbers through the use of necromancy, raising the dead to become their new wave of soldiers. The main problem being that the dead hate the living.

Oops.

This is mitigated by mind control helmets on the commanding officers, which work so long as nothing removes the helmet.

The scenario is played very loosely, setting up the situation, and dropping the PCs into it (the Allies have figured out that the Nazis are up to something at Castle Grunwald, and arrive to see zombie being pumped out en masse)...from there, the whole thing is left very open. The castle and its guards are described (such as the troopers on jetpacks in the air), with the PCs getting to handle it however they see fit.

Important details are listed, along with two Optional Details (one involving a mystical artifact and the other allowing for an explosive conclusion to the Battlescene), and none of them contradict the rest, so they can all be used together.

Additionally, a couple of plot twists are provided, in case the GM feels like everything is going too smoothly.

Two pages of stats are included, for the various zombies, as well as the sorcerers powering the machine, and an optional megazombie foe.

It is not a complicated scenario, at all...but it is not meant to be. For $1, you get a few stat blocks, as well as an encounter that could take up an entire short session, depending on how it plays out. Combined with the PC teams provided in the other PDFs in the series, it could make for a great ICONS demo, or just a cool diversion in your game.

Honestly, you could even use it outside of the WWII timeline just by twisting things a bit, and maybe having the man responsible be Count Fenrise (see Eugenics Brigade) having survived the end of the war and hoping to cause the Nazis to rise once more (this time from the dead). Definitely buy it if you're digging the other PDFs in this series, it's well worth your dollar.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Battlescenes: Undead Stormtroopers (ICONS)
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World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Known World
by Pete S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2010 12:28:06
If you’re looking for a living fantasy setting (i.e. one that is still being actively developed) The World of Arkara is a solid product that accommodates almost all standard fantasy tropes and still manages to inject some new ideas for inspiration. The writing could have been a bit more polished, but as an overview of the setting, it does its job well enough that I’m interested to see how these areas are further developed. Rating 3.5.

Read the full review here: http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=45736

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Known World
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Pearl Harbor December: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/08/2010 12:43:24
This is just cool...my favorite of the WWII releases by Vigilance Press thus far.

Pearl Harbor December are the Japanese superteam, who clashed heavily with Vigilance Force in WWII.

Every villain is given their Japanese name and approximate English translation...I'll be sticking with the English names for simplicity's sake.

Right off, we have the "cannon fodder" Savage Men...who are STOUT mutated raging madmen. Seriously...these guys are scary, with Strength and Prowess of 7 and Regeneration and Invulnerability of 5...possibly too good to be underlings.

My favorite member of Pearl Harbor December is the first unique member posted, the Matchless Warrior: a "simple warrior" who is capable of batting away darn near anything, including *missiles*, with his bo staff! Something about the concept just strikes me as being incredibly cool...he's my favorite character I've seen posted in these WWII PDFs so far.

Death Mask is an armored Japanese warrior...and by "Armored" I mean "Japanese Iron Man", flying through the air, firing energy blasts, etc.

Monster has the "soul of a poet in the body of a brute", but he's not your typical brick at ALL...he is much, much lighter on his feet than one would expect.

Sword Bearer is the Emperor's Personal Guard, carrying a ancient weather warping weapon.

Hypothermia is, powers-wise, a Japanese Iceman...though he has a soldier's temperment and not a joker's.

Rounding out the list is the immortal warrior Living Chronicle, who is actually ever scarier than just "immortal sword master".

This is my favorite of the releases so far, as the character work really comes into its own, especially with Matchless Warrior and Monster...moreso than the Nazis, these guys all have the capacity for being played as heroes as well, especially if you used them outside of a WWII setting.

Very high recommendation.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pearl Harbor December: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
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