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Crown Guard: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/04/2010 19:41:17
The latest in the ICONS WWII releases by Vigilance Press, The Crown Guard were the British super team that was fighting WWII before the US got involved, fending off the Eugenics Brigade.

Despite being outgunned and outmanned, the Crown Guard managed to keep Winston Churchill alive and convinced the Eugenics Brigade that they were better off attacking Russia than England.

As with Vigilance Force, this is a collection of heroes, so there is probably less utility for the average purchaser than there is with, say, a villain collection.

The PDF does include the necessary Team rules to fit the ICONS Team rules, if you wanted to run a Crown Guard game.

We get Big Ben, the prototypical giant brick.

Espirit is a French agent with phasing and invisibility, hence the name. Reminds me a lot of a random character I generated back for Marvel FASERIP who was ALSO a spy, and also had Mind Control...so I have a certain fondness for the character type.

Excalibur actually carries Excalibur, as well as a couple of other artifacts, making him a tough customer.

Grizzly is an animalistic Canadian hero, who seems a bit like a Wolverine riff taken the opposite direction from Marauder in Vigilance Force.

Illustrious is a bit of an enigma...a compulsive liar with amazing luck and an assumed name.

Ironclad is a living machine, the greatest creation of a dying scientist.

Repulse is The Crown Guard's Master of Magnetism.

Swordfish is the setting's answer to Namor/Aquaman.

Armorer is a supergenius inventor, trying to liberate his native Poland.

And last is John Bull, the only "successful" attempt at recreating the Nazi supersoldier project...leaving him with the appearance of a minotaur.

Again, like with Vigilance Force, there are a lot of obvious homages, but nothing I would call overtly ripped off. Even Swordfish feels like his own man and not like either Namor or Aquaman specifically.

There's the odd piece of art, but there is a big, group picture that you can use to suss out just who is who in the group. It's a good product in a good line...if World War II in ICONS interests you, then I recommend picking it up.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crown Guard: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
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Crown Guard: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2010 00:43:52
This series is really hitting its stride. I really like the background pieces with each character. Rather than generic third person origins, the backgrounds tend to be from the perspective of other characters.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eugenics Brigade: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/28/2010 03:07:30
The Eugenics Brigade are the counter balance to the Vigilance Force. In fact, they are the reason Vigilance Force was formed, and they are far more useful because villains tend to be far more useful for a GM than heroes do.

One of my gripes from Vigilance Force is present here as well, as several characters don't get any art, though there seems to be more individual art here than there was in Vigilance Force.

The first villain we get is a scantily-clad, nazi slutbomb stereotype (though she is a ballerina and not a dominatrix) named Charismatic, and thankfully she gets a picture. She has a twin sister with Luck Control powers to complete the ensemble.

Fireproof is the Nazi answer to the fiery hero Old Glory, and War Hound plays the Sabretooth to Marauder's Wolverine.

The two that impress me the most are Uberkrieger and Ubermensch, the Super Soldier and the Super Man. Underkrieger is just UGLY, with a large rifle and metallic jaws, while Ubermensch is, thankfully, not nearly as versatile as the real Superman.

There are other villains, as well as some cannon fodder such as soldier in jetpacks, mystics and the rejects from the Eugenics program.

For $2 this offers much more bang for its back than its predecessor, due to villains simply being more useful, as noted above. Definite recommendation.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eugenics Brigade: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
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Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/28/2010 02:25:07
Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII is the first supplement for ICONS by Vigilance Press.

Here's the thing about ICONS: I want to like it, I really do. The whole package looks very charming. The Marvel FASERIP influence is great. The writing is just...I feel like too much got glossed over with a "Hey, if you don't like a rule, change it, champ!" approach. And in actual play, I didn't really feel like it held up.

Why am I saying all of this? Because there is some cool third party stuff coming out for ICONS, like ION Guard. Vigilance Force is the first book establishing a World War II setting for ICONS, and it is not all happy, Silver Age fun like the ICONS core leans towards. Instead, it comes across fairly hard nosed, with some very lovely, gritty art by Jon Gibbons (supplemented by art by Dan Houser which is nice, but a sharp contrast).

For $2, you get 14 pages of setting and superheroes, designed to be used as PCs for a WWII game. They do provide the Team Qualities, Challenges and Resources for those who wish to use the team rules in the ICONS rulebook.

There are some very cool characters here, my favorite being Freight Train, a super speed brick (not a combo you usually see outside of Superman). Agent Liberator is a lot like an amalgam of Captain America and The Comedian (from the Watchman) and Marauder sure seems heavily inspired by (though far from ripped off of, don't get me wrong) Wolverine.

In fact, there are very cool influences all over Vigilance Force that are nice homages and not just "serial numbers filed off".

The downsides? Unless I am just missing it, Captain Miracle has no backstory. Dan Houser contributes one piece, and it's fine, but it sticks out like a sore thumb next to Jon Gibbons. Not calling either style better than the other, just saying they clash...bad. I would have liked individual pics, instead of trying to figure out who was who in the group shot, personally. Finally, I don't run games with pregens, so for a guy like me, a team of superHEROES isn't incredibly useful. Not useLESS, just not the most useful. That said, for $2, there is some great inspiration in here.

I'd jump all over a BASH version, personally.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
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Eugenics Brigade: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/26/2010 09:48:52
I am a long time fan of Superhero games and have stacks and stacks of villains, heroes and challenges for my gaming groups. I find this selection of simply stated, Nazi villains to be in good company along side similar character folios from Villains and Vigilantes (Most Wanted series and Allies and Enemies) and many other hero systems, as well.
This book gives me what I generally look for in a villain book -- Villains! What better villains are there than history's most evil and broadly hated group of occultist neighbor haters, the Nazis? There are simply few things as satisfying as stopping Nazi activity in its tracks.
The book does not waste precious time (or printer ink) giving me a lot of build up or useless background information. I generally do not need to be told why Nazis are villains or, for that matter, who they were. Nazis are plug-and-play villains, tried and true bad guys, truly "evil" right out of the box.
The books title is a little misleading. The book contains villains, not stories. If you are looking for plot lines and pre-made adventures, this is not the best pick, but I suspect the title is likely a reference to the short but interesting backgrounds of the villains.
If you are looking for a simple and direct addition to your super hero campaign, then look no further. This is a good addition that will certainly give you a strong cross section of creative characters. Mad scientists, supersoldiers, occult overtones and questionable sciences abound in this nicely priced book of villains.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Eugenics Brigade: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
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Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/26/2010 00:31:46
It's worth mentioning that Vigilance Force is the first in a series of pdfs. On it's own, it's probably a 2 star product because, while it provides standard Golden Age heroic fare, the writeups reference villains and other heroes not given herein. But, if you're willing to invest the $2.00 a week to buy the chapters of "Amazing Adventures of World War II" as they come out, you'll have a solid product before too long.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilance Force: Heroes of WWII (ICONS)
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Eugenics Brigade: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/26/2010 00:23:23
I rate Eugenics Brigade with 4 stars because it is merely a chapter of a serialized whole. It is not a stand-alone supplement. The write-ups are good, and I'm enjoying this series because it's a little grittier than Adamant's ICONverse so far.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Eugenics Brigade: Villains of WWII (ICONS)
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Old School Magic
by Pete S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/07/2010 03:26:54
Overall Impressions
This is a really good product for those looking for new spells, new archetypes, alternate spell systems, or different treatments of magic levels. The writing is generally conversational in tone and the information is presented clearly. The first few sections in particular are very interesting reads; I particularly liked the treatment of the low magic setting and the inclusion of archetypes more fitting such a setting than the ones presented in the core rules. Definitely well worth the cost of admission.

Read the full review here: http://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?t=18168

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Old School Magic
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Old School Magic
by Dominique C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/01/2010 11:30:57
Old School Magic comes at 29 pages, and is about new classes, new spells, and options / suggestions for the GM to determine how magic works in a campaign.

-- MAGIC OPTIONS: The first part discusses low, medium and high magic settings, and provides magical systems (namely: incantations, mana, and star magic). Note that these magic systems are not necessarily exclusive of each others, and could probably be combined in some way. For example, a GM might houserule that in his campaign humans could only cast incantations, while elves and gnomes being fey-related use the mana option. There is one thing I found strange, wondering if it is a typo, but in any case being easy to change/houserule: about spells that become incantations, the text states: "Replace the normal casting time with one week per spell level". Personally, I would rather go with one turn per spell level, which is long enough IMO.

-- NEW CLASSES: The second part is about new character classes. I admit that I am a sucker for new character classes. This book includes the Alchemist, Artificer, Conjurer, Elementalist, Hermit, Holy Man, Naturalist, Sage, and Seer. All of these classes fit perfectly along 1e classes in terms of game mechanics and design: they are clear and simple, with the kind of abilities you could expect from 1e rules. Overall, I am not sure however, I would like to play one of these classes instead of a regular mage, illusionist, cleric or druid (where I would be ready to play an old-school psionicist by the same author). Yet, the GM could allow these classes to races that normally don't have spellcasters, such as allowing dwarves alchemists and artificers, as well as halflings holy-men and naturalists. This would make things better, especially if level cap is above 10th level. The author doesn't say much on this subject (apart that dwarves can be elementalists up to the 5th level), so it's easy to implement at leisure by the individual GM. Other than that, I am dubious about some classes' names: Naturalist as a replacement of druid in a low magic setting? I rather see this class as a Woodsman or Wilderness Hunter, not a religious type. Then, if you use Holy Man in a setting featuring all regular classes, a change of name might be necessary (such as Zealot, or what not), as a "holy" person who doesn't cast spells seems a little strange. As for Conjurer, I regret that their Summoning spells' duration is not extended.

-- SPELLS: The third part describes 31 new spells. Most of them seem balanced and usable, but I have some doubts about: Iron Warrior (seems overpowered in summoning an iron golem for 1 turn pr level).

-- THINGS THAT ARE LACKING: 1) There is no table of contents at the beginning of the book, and it wouldn't hurt to add one. 2) Ley lines: the author mentions the use of ley-lines a couple of times, but there is no rules about them in this book (apart an extremely vague suggestion); maybe he wrote something about this into another supplement, but this is neither indicated.

-- LAYOUT AND ART:: as much as I like the book's content, the art and layout is rather bland and uninspiring. If, someday, the author was to compile all of his old school (1e) contributions into a single book (I can dream after all), I wish he would come with something far better in this regard.

-- CONCLUSION: Old School Magic is a good product for Osric / 1e, and I recommend it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Critical Mass
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/24/2010 23:39:09
According to the introduction to "Critical Mass," the product's goal is to "give a busy GM a quick scenario with everything he needs." The product meets this goal, though an uncomfortably high number of grammatical and/or editing errors—at least one of which is very significant—mar the presentation. The storyline is entertaining enough, and feels very much like a one-shot comic book. The scenario provides opportunities for both combat and non-combat resolution to the challenges presented. As a Superlink product, the adventure is fully statted out for Mutants & Masterminds, but a GM can easily adapt the scenario to any system. I mentioned that one of the writing errors is very significant; the word "killed" appears to have been left out of the critical sentence "the mercenaries have [killed] one of the scientists" when describing a key plot point! However, a good GM will undoubtedly be able to fill in any blanks. You should be able to get a good session of fun out of this scenario, and at just $2.00, it's a good value.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Critical Mass
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Wargames 2: Superspies and Commandos of the Cold War
by Simon B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/13/2010 15:03:21
This is the second product in the WARGAMES line, but the third in the "Cold War Series". As with the other products, it looks at the period of time known as the Cold War. A period of time of escalating tensions in the world....especially between America and Russia. The first product was Defcon 1 and this was my first exposure to the era. I really enjoyed it and was eager to pick up the next product, Wargames I. I grabbed a copy and was very happy. When Wargames II came out I avidly snatched up a copy and poured over it.

Now my review.....

First and formost this is a setting book and so adds to the world setting more than providing a set of ready-made characters, although they are some in there too.

This module details, to use a phrase, the Superspies and Commandoes of the Cold War....Similar to agencies such as S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Universe. As such, the power levels dealt with are around PL 8-9 and not the four-color PL 10 that some might be more accustomed to.

The first thing that I have to say struck me was the color.... lots of color!! I really liked that every picture in the book is in color.

The book is laid out in a way that each of the major countries has their own super-spy agency looked at thoroughly. There is no need to flip around looking for fragments of info between different chapters. This is a HUGE plus in my eyes. The first group looked at is U.S.H.E.R. (America), followed by Shturmovik (Russia / Soviet Union) and then The Stonehenge Agency (Great Britain) . Each group is written up with emblem/insignias and sample operatives (normal humans). There are even sample vehicles, battle suits and secret bases, which are fully mapped out.

No Cold War Era piece would be complete without the evil organizations bent on world domination and those that are sworn to stop them. The role of the evil spy network is played by P.H.A.N.T.O.M. A secret spy agency with its roots in WW II. Opposing P.H.A.N.T.O.M. is F.W.H. a United Nations group sworn to stop P.H.A.N.T.O.M.

Rounding out the collection of groups is the FOURTH REICH...The next incarnation of the Nazi party and the RED PROTECTORATE, which serves as the governing agency of 'Supers' in the Soviet Union. Also included is a Soviet Heli-carrier!! (I WANT ONE!!)

Overall, I really enjoyed reading through the product and I found a lot of really cool stuff that can be used to flesh out a game and to bring depth to your gaming world. Even if you do not play in the Cold War Era, I think that the ablility to reference agencies and people's names is a great help in adding that little touch of 'realism' that makes a game more fun. In the back of the book, there are also "Adventure Hooks" that can help the GM set things up and help explain how the characters are involved. These can really help out if, as a GM, you are having some writer's block and cannot think of an intro to that evening's game. Trust me... it sucks!!


I highly recommend this product, especially if you liked the other previous products.

Again.... to wrap up.

PRO's
*****************
Nice Layout
Rich colors and all color pics
Detailed agencies for each of the major Cold War players
Independant agencies (Good and Bad)

CON's
****************
None come to mind....
OH yeah.... these guys aren't running a game near me!!! ;-)

Hope this helps you make up your mind to buy this product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wargames 2: Superspies and Commandos of the Cold War
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Mecha Omega
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/24/2010 15:19:22
We hold this truth to be self-evident: that giant robots are cool, and they’re never more cool than when they’re being piloted to save mankind by destroying a hideous giant monster. I really don’t know why American cinema hasn’t picked up on that yet – seriously, Cloverfield would have been a much better movie if the guys with the camera had been rushing to find a Megazord to pilot so they could stomp all over the thing. Luckily, Vigilance Press has given us everything we need to recreate that scenario the way it should have happened with their new supplement for Modern and/or Future d20 gaming, Mecha Omega.

Mecha Omega is a surprisingly brief book, being only twenty-two pages long including things like the cover and OGL declaration. Despite that, there are no bookmarks to be found here, which makes me boo the book, albeit just a little bit. The pages are all white, with orange borders along the top and bottom of each page. There’s a decent amount of art within the book, virtually all of which are designs of mecha. Most of it is black and white, but there are some color pieces scattered throughout. Printing this out shouldn’t be too much of a chore for a decent printer.

The opening from the book’s author relates how he took had this book take a simpler approach to the subject of mechs, something I wholeheartedly applaud. While gigantic sourcebooks are sure to thoroughly cover a topic, trying to get all the players at the game table to read it and become familiar with all of the new information and options can be a huge chore. This book takes a much more relaxed approach to things. You pick the size and type of your mech (each size having that size, and that size “+”, such as Large and Large+, etc.), which sets up its base stats. After that, it’s just a matter of assigning various things like weapons, power sources, sensors, etc. to the slots on the mech, though different pieces of equipment have different costs.

That’s pretty much it. After this, there are two outlines given for pre-made campaigns. Each one gives some backstory, a list of currently-existing mecha, and stat blocks for a few enemy kaiju. Kaiju, which are giant monsters, are given a subsequent appendix for designing their statistics. The hands-off approach is again prevalent here, as things like skill points are largely ignored in favor of generating the relevant combat stats (after all, more than most other monsters, kaiju are on-screen solely to be killed). The real innovation here comes from the new kaiju feats that are given, which allow for various monsters to have different special powers.

That’s the entire book in a nutshell. While it initially felt, for lack of a better word, incomplete to me, the more I thought about it the more its minimalist style grew on me. There are no special advanced classes here that need to be taken in order to pilot a mech, no new feats that improve doing so, no complicated cross-indexing of piloting skill checks and bonuses. It’s just a sleek system for designing mecha, another one for making giant monsters, and a backdrop to have them utterly beating the crap out of each other. I really enjoyed how unpretentious the book was in giving us only as much as necessary to make that paradigm work (though you can certainly add more to it than that if you want, but the book leaves that alone).

Mecha Omega is aptly named; it’s the last, and only, mecha book you’ll need for your Modern/Future d20 game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mecha Omega
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Old-School Psionics
by Dominique C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2010 10:15:06
Overall, I think it is a good product. The Mentalist is an easy-to-use psionicist class that looks more like a magic-users (but with its own flavor) than any of the complicated psionic systems that were created for AD&D 1e and 2e back in the days. It looks more like a 3e psion, but simpler and thus easier to use. Myself, I would be willing to play a Mentalist in a OSRIC (AD&D 1e) game, which says a lot about it. I really think this class is a great addition to OSRIC, maybe even greater than OSRIC Unearthed (also by Vigilance) as far as the willingness to play one of its class is considered.

On the bad side (so it only gets 4 stars rather than 5), I think that the graphic layout could have been better, at least it should have been identical to that of OSRIC Unearthed for those who want to print and bind together. (It would even greater if all those products had the exact same format and graphic layout as the OSRIC core rulebook, but anyway.) Also, some of the psychic powers seemed of little interest for a Mentalist player (especially those who transfer the mentalist's own hit points, or help him in melee combat, since the class is the same as a magic-user when it comes to combat). I have seen a typo about calling a power a spell somewhere.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Old-School Psionics
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Old-School Psionics
by crayon t. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/19/2010 18:56:21
I was disappointed with this product. It says that it has gone back to 1ed psionics and taken a new path; however, I found that path similar to 2ed Psionics. I didn't feel there was enough variance to warrant buying the product. What I was after was a simplier psionic combat system. There is no psionic combat system in this product.
There are some ideas for adventures and a new setting, but is brief. If you were to use the setting ideas you would still need to do a lot of work to fill out the setting. Good: It was well laid out and there are some different psionic powers. Some psionic powers have different levels of power.
Bad: In my PERSONAL opinion, I thought there was nothing overly original.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Wargames 1: Superhuman Threats of the Cold War
by Joey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2009 17:46:36
Review of Wargames

This is a high quality PDF, I really enjoyed reading this supllement i read all 100 pages in one day. If you liked Defcon 1 you will enjoy this book. I think this book a great addition to any game, the ideas in this book are well thought out. This book is an improvement over Defcon 1 its is writen much better. There is alot more I can say but im not that good of writer so here ill break down the main chapters of the supplement and what was good and bad about each.

Roleplaying Supers in the Cold War
This is an outline of playing a game during the Cold War, it has alot of great ideas for the game. There is some great discussions about playing govenment sponsered heroes and the like.

Meta-Human Timeline of the 20th century
This is a timeline set up for this world tieing in some things to modern history which I enjoyed having a Bachlors in History. The only thing that was in the chapter and through out the book that I didnt care for is some of the art was real life pictures instead of art but thats just a personal preference.

Super-Powered Threats of the Cold War
This is the main part of the book listing all the differnt threats to heroes. Alot of these characters are original Cold War style Villains. My favorite character is Majestic 12 when I read the discription all I could think of was Noah Bennet from NBC Heroes (my favorite character from that show) but you will have to buy the supplement to find out more about Majestic 12 and the other Cold War Threats

The art in this book is great

So I give this item a 5 out of 5.

I can't wait to see the next two in the series

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wargames 1: Superhuman Threats of the Cold War
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