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The Book of the Righteous (5E)
par Paul S. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 08/15/2017 14:48:54

I was a big fan of The Book of the Righteous for 3rd Edition D&D (and this from someone who didn't like 3rd ed much) and so I bought the pdf version when Green Ronin re-released it for the 5th Edition. All that was in the original is still there, the rich and detailed mythology, the structures of the churches who worship the various gods, a whole new cosmology (different from and - in my opinion - better than the D&D default) and advice on how to integrate it all into your own campaign. Aaron Loeb's original material remains as outstandingly good as it was. There is also a decent amount of "crunch"; a few new backgrounds, new cleric domains, new archetypes for classes and no less than six added paladin oaths. There is a new druid circle but it appears to be missing info - all it has is a list of spells. The small number of creatures and magic items from the original are also still there, updated.

What the authors haven't done so well is adapt the original material for the new edition: for instance an important change is that where 3rd (and previous) editions assumed that every priest of every religion was a member of the cleric class, the 5th edition PHB makes clear this isn't the case, but BotR appears not to have noticed - in the Great Church section it sounds as if all Clerics are clerics and all Paladins are paladins, but it isn't clear. The authors could also easily have made a small change to the creation story to account for the Feywild (the fey link to which is quite important in 4th and 5th edition) but instead they just put in a note to say they hadn't explained the Feywild or Shadowfell. Gnomes are also not a core race any more but it's assumed they still are. I would still recommend Book of the Righteous if you don't already own the old 3rd edition version, but if you do I'm not quite totally convinced it does a better job than a good DM could do with their own adjustments.



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Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting
par RICHARD H. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 07/22/2017 02:28:26

I'm pleased to download the PDF of Tal'Dorei and finally the world of Critical Role comes to life, living and breathing in the text and images before me. The campaign guide is comprehensive covering many different aspects of the setting. A location guide includes references to Earthly histories to give you context and inspiration. A set of guides for anything from Gods, religions, creatures and organisations will get you started on your plot lines. Magic items and character class options will enhance the players' experiences. I enjoyed the character quotes. The art is spectacular, with varying interpretations and styles, you're sure to find at least some images that you will totally fall in love with. The art is all orginal and really bring the book to life. A really great job has been done in bringing this work to print, and I for one am greatly appreciative. Thank you so much!



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Fantasy AGE Bestiary
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 07/11/2017 15:20:05

Originally posted at: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2017/07/review-fantasyage-and-fantasyage.html

I have said it hundreds of time, but you can never have too many monster books.

Fantasy AGE Bestiary is one of my favorites. This is not a rehashed monster manual. This 144-page book is stocked full of really cool, really interesting and often unique monsters. Sure some are familiar, but that is not the point, the point is that this book is full and it will be a long time before I run out of ideas for them all. The art is fantastic and that is a great thing in a monster book.

Each monster is listed with stats, picture, background information and plot hook ideas.
The book is so good in fact if makes me want Green Ronin to publish it with D&D 5e stats as well.

If you are a fan of Fantasy AGE or Blue Rose or DragonAge then this is a must have book.



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Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 07/11/2017 15:05:07

Originially posted here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2017/07/review-fantasyage-and-fantasyage.html

Fantasy AGE is the "generic" Fantasy game based on the ruled that appear in both Blue Rose and DragonAge. While there are some repetitions, the tones of all three games are sufficiently different enough to make each book worthwhile.

Chapter 1 gives us the basics of Character creation. The Usual Suspects are here; Elf, Dwarf, Human, Halfling, and Orcs. You get your Backgrounds with some basic ideas. And our three AGE classes; Mage, Rogue, and Warrior. Too bad the classes are not Adept, Guardian, and Expert. Also included here is the experience for level advancement table.

Chapter 2 discusses the AGE system. I am not sure if the AGE system will ever "fall into the background" the same way d20 or Unisystem do for me, but it could get really, really close. The system itself is very easy to grasp. In AGE you really only need three six-sided dice. Two of which should be the same color. The off one is called the Drama Die. We will get to all those in a bit. The rolls of 3d6 + Ability +/- mods vs. Test Difficulty are simple enough. Test Difficulties start at 7 (Routine) and increase by 2 for each level. So 9 is Easy. The feel is the same as d20's Target Numbers or even Unisystem's Success Levels. Like most systems, an "opposed" test will be one set of rolls vs another set of rolls.

Chapter 3 details Focuses, Talents and Specializations. Every Ability has multiple focuses. The Fighting Ability has a focus on Axes and another, Polearms for example. You can gain a new focus for everytime you go up a level. Talents are something else. These are only granted under special circumstances. They might be restricted by class and many have prereqs. These include abilities like Animal Training, Dual Weapon Fighting, or Psychic. Specializations can almost be thought of as "Sub Classes", these include Assassin, Elementalist, and the like.

Chapter 4 gives us basic equipment. Pretty self-explanatory.

Chapter 5 covers Magic and the magical arts. While anyone can have arcane ability, only Mages can master them. There are 12 Arcana here with various magical powers.

Chapter 6 details Stunts. These are the life, and soul of the AGE system really. If you get doubles on any roll of the dice you may perform a Stunt on that roll. So if the roll was a combat situation then you can perform a Combat Stunt. The roll you get on your Drama Die (the off color one) is a number of Stunt Points you get. You have to use them right away. So if you get a 4 you have 4 SP and can buy any of the stunts listed for 4 or under. These are things like "Knock Prone" or "Lethal Blow". As characters go up in level they gain access to more stunts and can buy others for less SP. There are also non-combat Exploration and Role-playing Stunts as well. There are even Arcane Stunts that can be used in either.

Chapter 7 is the GM's Section. This covers running adventures and adjudicating the rules. There is a good section on adventure planning that is good for most games.

Chapter 8 is about Mastering the Rules and dealing with ability tests and combat.

Chapter 9 covers Adversaries and Monsters. All the regulars are here.

Chapter 10 is all about rewards. Which includes, but is not limited to, treasure.

Chapter 11 gives us our hook to Freeport, GR long-running setting and Chapter 12 is an adventure.

Fantasy AGE is a solid fantasy game that keeps from being a Heartbreaker and carves out new territory of it's own.

I don't say the following lightly.
Fantasy AGE could give Castles & Crusades a run for my 2nd Favorite set of Fantasy Rules. (D&D and it's variants are #1). Yes. It is that much fun.

It is better than Pathfinder, 13th Age and pretty much everything else.



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Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 06/28/2017 06:11:08

Note: This review originally spanned three parts: [http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2017/06/review-blue-rose-2nd-edition-part-1.html ](http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2017/06/review-blue-rose-2nd-edition-part-1.html ) http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2017/06/review-blue-rose-2nd-edition-part-2.html http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2017/06/review-blue-rose-2nd-edition-part-3.html

Blue Rose

Blue is the newest AGE (more on that) game title from Green Ronin. It is an update to their older True20 version of Blue Rose. This game expands the World of Aldea and the timeline a bit as well as give us some more option for play. I am reviewing both the hardcover edition and pdf of this game. Both of which were purchased by me and not sent to me for the purposes of review. I will post my thoughts both on the reading and playing of this game.

The Blue Rose book is a 384 page, full color, hardback book. The hardcover is sturdy as hell and might just be one of the most gorgeous books I have seen in a very, very long time. The color jumps out at you. Blue Rose is not a grim-dark world and this book is not either. The PDF is huge and fully bookmarked and hyperlinked. I love PDFs, and for ease, I am using mine for review now, but there is no comparing it to the physical book. The hardcover retails for $59.95 and the pdf for $24.95.

Basics Blue Rose 2nd edition uses the same AGE or Adventure Game Engine, game engine found in DragonAge and Fantasy Age. All three games share "System wide" compatibility, but maybe not "thematic" compatibility. Though if you desire more monsters in your Blue Rose or Dragon Age games then the Fantasy Age Bestiary is the absolute perfect choice.

I will detail more about the AGE system in a bit.

The book is divided into three large sections: The Player's Section covers the first four chapters of basic rules, character creation, and magic. The World of Aldea covers the history of the world, the Kingdom of Aldis, and the surrounding lands. This takes up the next four chapters. The Narrator's Section covers the last five chapters. This covers how to run a game, what makes "Romantic Fantasy" different, as well as rewards and adversaries. There is also a sample adventure in back to tide you over till you pick up a copy of The Six of Swords.

Now off the bat, an easy criticism would be, why not separate these out into three less expensive books. Charge $24.95 each and make more money in the long run? Sure that would work and that is what Green Ronin did with their True20 versions. Personally, I like having everything in one tome. Though I do see a need for a slimmer, maybe soft cover, version of just the player's section for players to buy. But Green Ronin has been doing this a long time if their economics support this then I am not going to be an armchair accountant.

Introduction The first five pages start with an introduction to RPGs. Most times I skip this, but this time I stuck with it since one of the expressed purposes of this game is to bring in new players. The "What is Roleplaying" section covers what is expected. This is followed by a section on "What is Romantic Fantasy?" For this bit, and for this review, I went back and read (or re-read) every book I could in the Romantic Fantasy cannon. This includes all the Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey (minus the last series) and nearly every book on John Snead's own "Must Read" list. I'll talk about those relationships in detail as they come up, but suffice to say (for now) that Blue Rose does do a good job of Romantic Fantasy.

The next paragraphs deal with how you go about creating a character in a game world. Not mechanics (yet) but an extension of your senses into this world. This section I noticed also features in other Green Ronin AGE books. It asks the questions "What do you do?" and "Who are you?" The focus of this game then is character dynamics. It is not "The party of adventurers set out to destroy the dragon." it is "Brynn, Heylg, Bethan and their friends sought out the threat to their beloved kingdom and stopped it before more lives were lost." There is nothing wrong with either situation, it is just one is better suited to Blue Rose. Becuase of this there is more focus on group dynamic. Maybe Bethan, normally a strong independent warrior who fights for just causes, is also deathly afraid of fire from an incident in her childhood. Now fighting this dragon is not just a straightforward matter of defeating a beast; it is now a metaphor for overcoming fear even when you are normally strong and brave. It could be that Brynn's best contribution to this battle is not her magic to attack the dragon or her healing, but her ability to empathize with Bethan and bring out the warrior she is from the scared girl she was. If this dynamic is not that interesting to you, that's fine, the Blue Rose/AGE game will still let you kill the dragon, but something essential is missed.

The next section deals with the AGE system itself.

The system is actually quite a simple one. 3d6 + Ability +/- mods vs. Test Difficulty. What makes this system special though are the Stunts. Whenever you score "doubles" on a roll (on two of the dice, more later) you generate stunt points. Stunt points can be used for any number of special features. These are not limited to combat. You can score Stunt Points in any situation where you roll dice. So yes you can even generate Stunt Points (SP) while engaging in social interactions. I have long let Bards in my D&D/d20 games score "critical hits" with puns, but in Blue Rose you can now do the same (mechanically speaking) with all sorts of social interactions like flirting! Finally, we end with a bit on the campaign world, but I will detail that, as does the book, later on.

Part I: The Player's Section This section introduces us to both the Blue Rose game and the AGE system.

Chapter 1 discusses the AGE system and goes right into Combat and Stunts. I thought this was an odd choice in a game focused on characters. At first that is. After reading through it a few times now I see it makes good sense. I am not sure if the AGE system will ever "fall into the background" the same way d20 or Unisystem do for me, but it could get really, really close. The system itself is very easy to grasp. In AGE you really only need three six-sided dice. Two of which should be the same color. The off one is called the Drama Die. We will get to all those in a bit. The rolls of 3d6 + Ability +/- mods vs. Test Difficulty are simple enough. Test Difficulties start at 7 (Routine) and increase by 2 for each level. So 9 is Easy. The feel is the same as d20's Target Numbers or even Unisystem's Success Levels. The spread is closer to that of the d20 world so converting between the True20 Blue Rose and the AGE Blue Rose should theoretically be an easy one (in reality there is more to it, but not much more). Like most systems an "opposed" test will be one set of rolls vs another set of rolls.

Aside: Since the rolls here are 3d6 as opposed to 1d20 (d20/D&D) or even 1d10 (Unisystem) you are going to get far more average rolls and fewer extremes. This result is as subtle as it is ubiquitous. This means that most rolls (67.6%) are going to fall in that 8-13 range. 18's will only happen 1 time in 216, as opposed to a 20 happening 1 time in 20. This means that most actions will feel "normal". It's later when we add the Stunt Points and Conviction that the real acts of Derring-do happen. This puts the "criticals" more in the hands of the players and less to chance. They happen less often, but more where the player wants or needs them. This is something I have done in my own Unisystem games for years. Instead of a 1d10 I use a 2d6-1 system known as "The Chicago Way" among Unisystem players. The effects are quite nice. The 3d6 gives AGE Blue Rose a solid edge over True20 Blue Rose.

In addition to these tests there are modifiers, which typically include a Specialization in a skill or other training. There are are also Conviction points. These are gained throughout your adventuring career and can be used to influence certain actions. Conviction is used a bit like a Drama Point or a Hero Point.

On every turn the character can take a Major and a Minor action. Each round is only 15 seconds long (4 per minute) so each action is short. There is a list of what major actions are (Attack, Defend, Heal) and minor (move, aim, activate). In truth, the lists are pretty simple and easy to grasp. There are also variable actions that will change depending on the situation.

Next up are Stunts, the life, and soul of the AGE system really. If you get doubles on any roll of the dice you may perform a Stunt on that roll. So if the roll was a combat situation then you can perform a Combat Stunt. The roll you get on your Drama Die (the off color one) is a number of Stunt Points you get. You have to use them right away. So if you get a 4 you have 4 SP and can buy any of the stunts listed for 4 or under. These are things like "Knock Prone" or "Lethal Blow". As characters go up in level they gain access to more stunts and can buy others for less SP. There are also non-combat Exploration and Role-playing Stunts as well. There are even Arcane Stunts that can be used in either.

Chapter 2 covers Character Creation. This covers all the steps from concept to filling out your sheet. Blue Rose is a very character-focused game, so character creation should be something done all together for the first session. I even suggest talking about what sort of group you want to have. There is no reason why it can't be "You all meet in an Inn", but it should go deeper than that really. How do these characters interact with each other, what are their goals, their drives? In some ways the best Blue Rose group of heroes is something like what we get in the Dragonlance tales. A group full of characters internal desires and drives but a community, if not a family, of others helping them.

Blue Rose has 9 Abilities. They have familiar sounding names and are even rolled up the same way. In fact in Blue Rose, your abilities are rolled on a 3d6 IN ORDER. Yes, it is more Old School than many Old School games out today. The spread of ability modifiers is also similar. Every ability has more than one focus. These Focuses allow the character to be better at one particular area. Systematically Abilities and Foci serve like abilities and skills. Next, choose your race. We get humans from various lands (with different bonuses), Nigth People (half-orcs/orcs), Rhydan (intelligent animals), Sea-folk, and Vata (elves). You also get a background, which is largely what country you come from, Up next is Class. Like other AGE games and True20 there are only 3. Adept, Expert, and Warrior. As you level up you can gain different abilities from your class. These are typically increases in abilities (which ones depend on class). Classes are presented from 1st to 20th level. You then need to figure out (or randomly roll) your Calling, Destiny, and Fate. Finally it would not be Blue Rose if there was not a bit on Relationships. Everyone in the cast is tied to another by one degree or another. These relations have role-playing and in-game mechanical features.

If you are looking for XP per level you will not find it in Blue Rose. This game uses the same philosophy as it's older True20 sibling; you increase in level after a few adventures. It leaves it in the hands of the Narrator as to when to level up. If you really want an XP chart for Experience to next level then there is one in Fantasy Age.

Chapter 3 details Focuses, Talents and Specializations. Every Ability has multiple focuses. The Fighting Ability has a focus on Axes and another Polearms for example. You can gain a new focus for everytime you go up a level. Talents are something else. These are only granted under special circumstances. They might be restricted by class and many have prereqs. These include abilities like Animal Training, Dual Weapon Fighting, or Psychic. Specializations can almost be though of as "Sub Classes", these include Assassin, Bard and the like.

Chapter 4 covers Arcana, the magical arts. While anyone in the world of Blue Rose can have arcane ability, only Adepts can master them. Arcana are divided into six Disciplines; Animism, Healing, Meditative, Psychic, Shaping (for making Avatar like Benders!) and Visionary. There is also Sorcery, the dark side of magic which leads to corruption. Each ability is given with the Talent (Discipline) it falls under, sometimes it is more than one, time is takes (Major or Minor), Target Number and Test needed. What sort resistance covers this ability and fatigue TN? Some abilities have sub-abilities too. Many of Shaping abilities are like this.

The last part of the chapter covers Sorcery. This is great for all sorts of adventure ideas. Hell, 90% of my ideas deal with some form of sorcery and it's threat to Aldea.

Part II: The World of Aldea

Now when it comes to game-changing events I can make due with changes in power or in the way certain rules have been handled. It is the events in the next few chapters that will have me scrambling for the pencils to re-do my campaign! Well, Green Ronin never asked me what I was doing in my game and I never reached out to them to make sure they were not invalidating several sessions worth of my games ( +Chris Pramas, we will just have to talk in future! ;) ).

Chapter 5, What Has Gone Before, is still roughly the same as what we saw in the True20 version. If anything things are clearer now. The art, of course, is better and some things, like the rise of the Darkfiends, are clearer. As before we get a history of the World of Aldea, from the Mythic Age (when the Gods were created) to the Old Kingdom (the “Golden Age” of the world), the Empire of Thrones (or the rise of the evil Sorcerer Kings) to the present age in The Rebirth of Aldis. The history of the world is given from the creation of the world by the four greater gods and then into the creation of the lesser gods, demons, and mortal races.

I think it is the goal of every RPG writer, either professional or just sitting at home, to create a mythology for their world. These myths feel more like The Silmarillion than it does say the Bible or Greek Myth. Though there is a fair appreciation for Greek Myths and Pagan beliefs in this. In makes for an interesting world to say the least. It has been asked more than once in my groups what gods do they believe in in the other parts of Aldea. Are they same with different names (likely) or they different ones altogether (a tantalizing idea)? We see bits of how this could work in Chapter 7 where the different lands worship different aspects of these same gods.

The biggest changes do not come till much later in the chapter. At some point between the True20 timeline and the AGE timeline. Queen Jaellin decided that she was "officially done with Jarek's shit" and invaded Kern via the hidden ShadowGate under the palace. The present day of the True20 version was 310 (Aldin calendar) to the new current day of the AGE version of 320. A lot has happened in ten years.

I read this and was like "whoa" what happened here? Personally, I'd love to have some scenarios where the PCs/Cast are part of that battle and raid.I think that would be a blast.

Also this was the last time anyone has seen the Golden Hart. The mystery here, of course, is whether or not it used up all it's magic in this last battle. We come to the "present day" in the game with political factions in an uproar, relations within and without in question and a Queen that has made some choices that many of her own court and people do not agree with. Basically, it is like Valdemar at the end of the Winds of Fury. Expanded from the True20 book this new chapter also talks more about the Great Rebellion that started Aldis in the first place. I mean wouldn't that also be a great time to play? The years leading up to Queen Seltha's reign. Heck, the art of the Undead armies is enough to make me want to give it a try.

Chapter 6, Kingdom of the Blue Rose then picks up with Aldis proper and discusses what is going on. We get background on the various races living in Aldis; human, sea-folk, vata, night people, and Rhydan. Why do all these people get along? Well... they try to. The Rhydan wanted a land that all were equal and free and queen Seltha ran with that. We get a section on the Royal Court of Aldis. I REALLY wish I was good at running Court Intrigue. This would be the game for that. A carefully balanced dual of wit, manners and subtle backstabbing. This game makes me want to be better at it. There is just too much potential here and frankly it is not my strong suit.

Anyone who ever thought that a Kingdom that was accepting of all peoples lacks intrigue has never really read or played this game. Aldis is not just the idyllic land that some have depicted it. It is “enlightened” but there are still internal strife, crime, the odd sorcerer or even a leftover gates from the time before the Sovereigns, and the ever-present threats from inside and outside. A number of threats to Aldis and Aldea are detailed. Various unscrupulous merchants, a very effective criminal organization known as “The Silence”, fallen nobles, bandits, defective shadow gates, and the remains of various shadow cults. In a handful of pages we get plenty of ideas for characters to do. Plus we now have a Queen that may or may not be trusted by all her people. And the Golden Hart? Gone. Hasn't been seen since the raid on Kern. Something new is happening here. There is a section on gender, sexuality, and marriage. Much less that you have been lead to believe mind you. Frankly, it could do with a bit more in my mind. This is Romantic Fantasy after all.

Religion gets expanded a bit as well. I like the new art for the Gods of Light, but I had to number them on my print out to keep track of them. I still rather like the Exarchs of Shadow. It helps solves the age old philosophical question of "From whence comes evil?" It gives a good explanation of how good gods such as these would have created evil beings. Plus in this version, they are more detailed with each exarch equated to a deadly sin. I might not be able to do court intrigue, but I can do horror like nobody's business. The real expansion though comes in the form of the City of Aldis. Note if you are used to the map in the True20 World of Aldea book (page 18), this one (page 161) is rotated 90 degrees clockwise. It also looks like the city has grown some more in the last 10 years. Other areas of Aldis are detailed as well. These include the Pavin Weald (Magical Forest) and refugees from Kern that have not quite integrated into Adlean society known as The Trebutane. If you want your spot to create Aldea-as-Valdemar and need a place for Holderkin Talia to be from, this is it.

Chapter 7, Lands Beyond deals with the lands and countries surrounding Aldis. This includes the Theocracy of Jarzon, the Khanate of Rezea (the Kaled'a'in/Tayledras from the Valedmar books, or the Kingdom of Damar from The Blue Sword), the Roamers (also Kaled'a'in Shin'a'in), the Shadow Barrens (just a bad place), The Forest Kingdom of Wyss (a new place, not in the True20 version), the Pirate Isles (more information here, can Freeport Blue Rose be far behind?), Kern (the really, really bad place. Mordor to Aldis' Gondor) and the Matriarchy of Lar'tya (basically Themyscira.)

Each section of the nation/land deals with the history of the lands, their rulers, religion, and people. Larger cities are discussed but never in the detail we got with Aldis. Some important NPCs have sidebars and their history, but no stats, are given. The lands also all have rough equivalents to the organizations found in Aldis. For example, the counterpart to the Rose Knights in Jarzon are the Knights of Purity and in Kern are the Knights of the Skull.

Of the lands, Jarzon and Kern are the most interesting. Jarzon is an interesting place where it could have been just like Aldis save for the intolerance of the Theocracy. I suppose then it is no surprise then that it lies south of Aldis. I could see a Jarzonni based game dealing with various heretics. Heck a fun game would be to play part of the Jarzonni Inquisition to discover a new threat to the whole world!

Kern is Ravenloft. Or maybe it is Thay. or Iuz. Or "The North" for the "Blue Sword" fans. I KNOW I can't be the only one to have thought in reading this new version of the game that when Jaelin killed the Lich King that the "Shadowed Seven" would be an even bigger threat.

Think of Thay without SzassTam or Apokolips without Darkseid. There is a lot of adventure ideas here. Play these evil regents off on each other. Or imagine their machinations if they ever decided to team up. I'd love a game where characters need to face off against these foes. That might be too "D&D" or even too "Buffy" but it would still be a lot of fun.

So advancing the timeline and story by 10 years is cool but it completely WRECKED my older Blue Rose game I was calling Black Rose. Eh. No worries. I can come up with some new ideas and maybe even resurrect some of the Black Rose ideas. Plus it will give me a good chance to pull out one of my old NPCs, Zenaida a Rezean Witch.

If you had the old True20 World of Aldea book then a lot in this section will feel familiar. There is a lot more material in the current AGE book and of course moved up 10 years.

Part III: Narrator's Section

Chapter 8, The Narrator's Art is the GM’s section. Again, I much prefer the term “Chronicler” to “Narrator”. “Chronicler” also implies that the characters are doing something worthy of Chronicling. The chapter covers some very pragmatic issues of Adjudicating the Rules and Running the Game to the creative Creating Adventures and Planning the Series. The space in between this is the "Art". What is particularly useful is the very old-school like table of 100 Adventure ideas. Need an idea? Roll a d100. Each one of these can be expanded into an adventure. This flies in the face of any notion that Blue Rose is a limited game. There are guides for roleplaying situations like Romance and Intrigue. Again, while situated in the Blue Rose and AGE systems, they could be used for any game. There is a section on how to run Intrigue (great for me!) and how to do it when the Characters have the potential to read minds or have access to other Psychic Arcana. There is also a bit on the physical location where you play. Given as a means to manage all the information coming at you the Narrator, and also as a means of setting the mood. Blue Rose is a "well lit" game as opposed to horror games which need a dark tone. The book also has some forms here and in the back for Narrators to print out and use to track all the goings on. So bonus point to the PDF for this one.

There is advice on knowing who your group is too. I think this is more important for a game like Blue Rose that is very Character focused. Using these group dynamics in the real world can also inform the group dynamics in the World of Aldea. The chapter as a whole has some pretty good GM advice. Some we have seen before and others we have seen, but applied new to this game.

Chapter 9 details the Blue Rose Series. If chapter 8 is general GM advice, then this chapter is very Blue Rose specific. This chapter starts out with a note about consulting the players. I think this is good advice in general, but certainly more so for the Character focused Blue Rose. That is not to say you can't have an Adversarial GM (it is one of the options discussed in fact in the last chapter) but if that is what you are doing make sure that is what people want. If so, great! We get into various Series Styles next. While the game is Romantic Fantasy, there is a lot of room in that broad term. Discussed are Dark Fantasy, High Fantasy, Horror, Low Fantasy, Swashbuckling Adventure, and High Romance. All of which work well within the Blue Rose frame.

Taking this advice we get some Series Frameworks of potential campaigns/series. The default, and the one that most people associate with Blue Rose, is called "For Aldis and the Queen!". This is what you would have if a young Mercedes Lackey was your Narrator. It does pretty much what it says on the tin. "On the Road" is more of the style of the later Romantic Fantasy authors. It is also closer to the type of adventures you find in a D&D game. Put them on a boat and suddenly it is "7th Sea". "Coming of Age" are your Harry Potter or Narina stories. OR as the book points out, even the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. "Game of Thorns" (bad, bad Green Ronin!) are your darker court intrigue tales. The nobles that don't trust the queen or her new husband. I could make something of that easy. There are more. The Quiet Knights, the Wedding Planners. But reading through these all should give you your ideas. A special shout out though to "Blue Rose on the Red Planet". That's not what it is called, but the art and the description support that. I'd play that in a heartbeat.

Chapter 10 is the actual Running the Game. The first bit we get to is Mastering Ability Tests. If you have any familiarity at all with d20, True20 or a host of other "Target Number" style games then you know what to expect here. Basic tests and Opposed tests are covered again. Considerations are given for Minor and Major NPCs, handling different sorts of combat situations, Roleplaying vs. The Rules, and Hazards. One thing that is quite interesting is advice on how to deal with divinations and how to work them into games. This time the authors DO mention the Shaowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law as the perfect resource for your Blue Rose games. I have a set and it is great.

I am going to spend some more time on the Tarot, Callings, Fates, and Destinies.

Chapter 11 covers Rewards. The beauty of Blue Rose is that there are many ways to grant rewards to characters beyond just level advancement. Though that is not understated here. We start with Honorifics. Which I am TOTTALY going to steal for D&D 5. These are accolades and acknowledgments. Titles like "Lady Aerin, Dragonkiller" (if you have read that book you can smile with me), or "Champion of Justice" and others. These confer a small in-game bonus as well. The criminal types all have to make Willpower tests at -5 around our Champion of Justice for example. Given these examples, I can come up with a lot more. The next section mentions who can give out these honorifics in each country and under what circumstances.

Next follows Memberships and then Companions. After this are Special Items and Equipment. Often these are heirlooms, not necessarily magical. In fact, Arcane items are next and even then Arcane Weapons are listed last. Listed very last, and even very least, is wealth. So the things that motivate the average D&D character are the least motivating for the average Blue Rose character. In fact, Wealth only gets 3-4 paragraphs total.

Chapter 12 gives us Adversaries. We lead off with NPCs. Blue Rose characters are more likely to run into other people (Rhydan are "people"; just ask them). For monsters, "Beasts", there are some familiar names here but don’t automatically assume you know what these creatures are about. Griffons, for example, are given more emphasis and intelligence here than in their D&D counterparts. This is completely due to how they are treated in the Romantic Fiction novels, in particular, the novels of Mercedes Lackey. Also, unlike the novels, there are a lot more creatures here than what I recall reading. So there are plenty of creatures that can either guide, beguile or challenge the characters. There are about 70 or so creatures here. They are grouped by type, so all Rhydan, all Darkfiends, all Unliving, and so on.

Adding more would be easy, really TOO easy to be honest. Most creatures need have a good reason to be in the game/world. For example, there are no Manticores here. You could make a very good reason for them to be there as something like anti-griffon or even a magical race the bred true to fight griffons. Maybe they were created during the Shadow Wars or even before in the Empire of Thorns. They are rare now since most were killed. Now I do have a copy of the Fantasy Age Bestiary and there are a lot of great new monsters that can be added to Blue Rose. I just want to be careful on how I do it and where I do it. Same would be true for any monsters I'd add from DragonAge.

There are slight differences in the stats between creatures of the same name in the various books, but not enough to make you think they are different creatures.

The last chapter is an adventure, Shadows of Tanglewood.

There are pages with Stunt References, Actions and Quick Reference Cards. We also get a nice full-color character sheet. Points again to the PDF. You can get these as part of the Blue Rose Narrator's Kit.

The index is fully hyperlinked.

What can I honestly say at this point? This is a great game. Well designed with beautiful art and an absolute joy to play. The AGE system is the first system I have picked up in a long time that I really like.

This is the best game of 2017.



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Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook
par Brandon W. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 05/19/2017 13:03:32

During its original publication run, many people became frustrated with how long it took Green Ronin to release the individual box sets that comprised the Dragon Age core rules. While that's understandable, we should also evalute the quality of the end result. The Dragon Age Core Rulebook might be the single best RPG product ever concieved by humans. This one book provides comprehensive lore on Thedas. The tome also gifts us with complete rules on every possible encounter type, from blood soaked alleyway combat to political intriegue in a ball room that Marie Antoinette would call decadent. In one release, Dragon Age becomes more layered and detailed then most long game lines. The vast majority of core rulebooks claim to have everything you will ever need. This one delivers. This book is so good, its ruined other products for me. Read this, and your definition of "world building release" will change forever. Its not the cheapest core on DriveThruRPG, but spend the thirty bones. You will probably regret your current lover more then buying this book.



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Fantasy AGE Bestiary
par Johan T. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 02/17/2017 14:21:11

Nice supplement especially enjoy the hooks for each monster.



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Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy
par Customer Name Withheld [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 01/20/2017 03:00:57

Blue Rose: Age system Review

This will be a long review that will cover each chapter so buckle in, it will assume you are not familiar with AGE or Blue Rose but that you have some experience with D&D

Introduction Alright here's where we start the review of Blue Rose: a game of romantic fantasy – Age Edition. Before we start with the review proper I’ll cover a short intro of my history with the game and system. This is not my first exposure to the setting of Blue Rose, I have copies of both the true20 corebook and it's supplement. While I was a big fan of the work I couldn't really think of a way to make it appeal to my group as it had a number of rules that carried over from 3.5 D&D to true20 that made it less appealing, but I absolutely loved the work itself and the unique rules and setting it added. So I was both hesitant and excited when I heard it was being released for the AGE system, on the one hand the AGE system has some uniquely good things about it's rules (particularly it's stunts) but on the other hand it had some issues that made me worry which I'll get to in a moment.

The original work got alot of flak for it's optimistic setting and representation of LGBTQ characters and their acceptance in the setting. That has not changed. If anything greater representation is now present as it also works to include trans and nonbinary characters comfortably into the setting and culture. If this makes you uncomfortable then chances are you won't like this book. Personally I like it and find it apart of the appeal, and frankly if you're able to watch most kids cartoons these days then this shouldn't bother you. Next let’s talk about my experience with the AGE system. I didn't like it. I really, *really* wanted to. But I didn't. The Fantasy AGE book was honestly very lackluster and ashes of valkana setting wasn't any better. Both felt very... incomplete. The game was heavily geared towards combat, to the exclusion of all else and said combat was often long and very tedious, the magic had no out of combat use or purpose and being a master of fire just meant you had 3 variations on fireblast for use of setting enemies of fire. While there were magic items and monsters there was little if any help in creating either, for the GM or the players. and beyond that there wasn't much to it. While the stunts system was interesting it was pretty much all the game had going for it aside from decent class customization. Clocking in at under 200 pages it was just... not very thrilling and for the most part didn't cover much new ground beyond stunts. Titansgrave was the same way, it added little and didn't expand on much beyond what it's (rather good) webseries had shown us, it felt like it was the series manual rather than it's own setting. Needless to say I was rather worried about Blue rose, I worried that the flexibility of the skills and choices would be diminished, I worried that the magic would be made into a streamlined combat tool, I worried it would be a short book that didn’t cover much if any new ground for the setting. I had nothing to be afraid of. And with that in mind let’s get to the review!

Opening Okay let’s start with the book itself. It’s very well done. The book is organized wonderfully with an introduction to both it’s genre and it’s basic systems both dice and combat, this was actually quite helpful as too many games dive right into character creation without context for the value of a given bonus. The Artwork is beyond amazing. Seriously this book is gorgeous, with wonderful depictions of it’s characters and scenery, with more fluid, fanciful artwork to lead in chapters and visually stunning but detailed character and scenery depictions throughout the chapters. If nothing else get this book for it’s artwork, you won’t be disappointed. The book is neatly divided into player and Gm sections with the former covering both character creation, systems and setting, and the latter covering gm advice both in and out of game, alternate settings, rewards both tangible and otherwise and a list of adversaries. It’s nicely rounded out with a list of useful appendices. Finally the book is well indexed, with organized bookmarks both for chapters and subsections. You think I wouldn’t need to bring attention to this but you’d be surprised how often things like indexes, bookmarks and a good table of contents are neglected even by modern games.

Player’s Section: Gameplay Chapter 1 The Game First opens with an explanation of combat and it’s dice systems. You do not need Fantasy Age to run this game, as it clearly addresses all of it’s rules here, from it’s dice system to it’s turn order and action economy. The dice system works like this: 3d6 + ability +2 from an applicable focus (specialized skill). The Difficulties for rolls are spelled out here and multiple times elsewhere. It gives rules for conviction (basically this games plot points, inspiration bennies or fate points) and how they can be gained and used. The turn order is standard roll for dexterity initiative, with ties in this case going to drama die (see below) and on your turn you have a major action and a minor action (or two minor actions). Major actions include attacks, defending, healing, running as well as all out attacks that subtract from your defense for damage and charges. Minor actions include aiming, maintaining spells, moving chasing, guarding yourself (+defense -on rolls) readying an action, preparing to chase a running foe and holding your ground to prevent knockback. Overall some good combat rules that make things more interesting than just ‘I hit him with my sword’.

And now we address AGE’s most interesting mechanic: stunts. When you pick your 3d6 one of them needs to be a different colour from the other 2, this one is called the drama die. When you roll doubles of any number with any of the 3 dice you automatically gain stunt points equal to the number on your drama die. These stunt points can be used to buy advantages of varying degrees of usefulness like knocking your enemy prone, dashing after an attack, piercing armour, and even attacking twice in one turn or moving to the top of the initiative order in future rounds. These stunts have uses in other ways as well: magic can use them to fast cast a spell, affect multiple targets, increase duration or ignore fatigue. Socially they can allow you to make new friends or enemies from the people you interact with, cause laughter to your wit, sway crowds or add flirtatious dialogue to seduce another character. It even works on exploration; letting you decide on an advantageous approach (likely foiling ambushes) enabling searches to be faster, easier and consume less resources or gain a bonus on initiative rolls. Stunts are an interesting mechanic at the table as they ensure that things become less predictable in an interesting way, and compared to crits from other games they occur a great deal more frequently (often multiple times a round) so everyone gets moment to cheer when their dice roll well (or moan when the villains dice work out)

Chapter 2 After that we get into Character creation. It has 9 abilities: accuracy, communication, constitution, dexterity, fighting, intelligence, perception, strength and willpower. What’s interesting here is that several forms of combat that normally fall under strength in most games would fall under accuracy (such as light blades and brawling) or fighting (most heavy weapons like axes or polearms) with strength covering more athletic feats. Abilities are rolled but there are options to both assign them at will or point buy so everyone gets what they want.

Races come next and here’s where things get interesting. Every race (including human) get’s to roll twice on a table to get some free skill focuses, weapon training or ability bonuses giving you some bonuses separate from both your class and others of your kind. The races themselves are alot more diverse than most settings. You have humans as your primary race (of course) with a number of cultural backgrounds to add diversity, and then you have the non human races. The night folk (basically orcs) whose race was created by evil sorcerers and have a bad rap for this but are still given full treatment as a race and aren’t forced to be mentally deficient brutes like most games tend to do. Then we have the vata, while you could say they’re elves in reality they’re more like your half elves with the elves being destroyed in the past by the aforementioned evil sorcerers and these guys being their mostly human descendants who crop up in human cultures. You’ve got the light and dark vata (with the only differences being appearence and how good their darkvision is, dark vata have it better but suffer a turn of blindness when they first enter daylit areas) The Sea folk come next: androgynous sea faring people who can breathe underwater and swim like they’re aquaman, they’re are basically human dolphins when it comes to water. They actually need to immerse themselves in water once per day which I could see getting annoying in the wrong game. And then we have the Rhydan. Either the coolest or most annoying thing when it comes to character options depending on how well the gm and players communicate. Rhydan are telepathic sentient animals, with the most common being wolves, horses, dolphins and panther sized Siamese cats, but with rules for a number of other animals including apes, bears, badgers, hawks, owls, lizards and snakes. Rhydan are capable of forming a permanent psychic bond with a humanoid. This could either go very well with interesting and memorable characters that create closeness in a party or it could be a disaster with people playing characters incapable of functioning in any given session, and this would depend heavily on the GM clearly establishing what kind of game the group will be playing and the players not feeling cheated if their cool concept gets vetoed for practical reasons, psychic dolphins warriors would be good for a pirate style game with several seafolk but would be basically unplayable in any other game, likewise a rohirrim style ranger with a rhydan horse could be a cool way for players to become partners but if that’s the case the gm should probably not make the game overly city based. After races come background which establish what culture you are and give you a free skill focus from the list of focuses appropriate to the culture as well as a free language or two. And we at last come to classes. There are three: the adept, expert and warrior (say it with me people: fighter, mage, thief), but don’t let that fool you there is a ton of customization one can do with these classes, from taking some magic as a warrior to become a spellblade style demonslayer, to various social and ranger style abilities, to building up your adept as a monk who uses meditative magics for martial arts. The classes go from 1-20 with pretty much every other level giving new talents (essentially feats that can be taken multiple times for better rewards), along with bonuses to specific stunts and inherent armour bonuses as you level up. Pretty much any class you’re familiar with or want to play can be built using these three classes with the right focuses and talents. Equipment is relatively straight forward. Weapons are generalized by weapon group (such as axes, light blades, lances and bows) with generic examples made for the sake of convenience (axes for example have starts for standard, throwing and two handed axes, rather than making a list of a dozen different axes). Armor goes from 1-3 and has an armor penalty equal to damage reduction -1. Shields give a bonus on the defend. A heroes’ starting equipment is any defensive gear they’re trained in and 1 weapon for adepts, 2 for experts and 3 for warriors. Since dungeon crawling murder hobos aren’t the focus of this game an exact economy isn’t all that necessary and one generally assumes characters would have practical toolkits for skills they have focuses in. From here we go to roleplaying traits: Calling, Destiny and Fate. Calling is your characters general sense of purpose with examples ranging from things such as Justice, True Love, Atonement, Mastery of the Martial Arts to Inner Peace. You gain conviction anytime you pursue your calling. Next up is Destiny and Fate which are basically your virtue and vice respectively and you gain conviction from pursuing either one. The list for these is quite long so you have plenty of options for what you want your character at their best and worst to be. Then there is corruption, basically the dark side mechanic of blue rose. However what’s nice about it is that it only applies in situations where magic is involved. When you use magic in a notably malevolent way (less fireblasts at bandits more flesh warping without informed consent or stealing memories through mind reading) you make a roll to avoid gaining corruption points, likewise commiting wicked cruel or evil acts also requires a corruption roll **only** when they are in an area blighted by dark magic or are carrying a corrupted magical item. This adds an almost ravenloft like atmospheric bent to the forces of the enemy. They go to fight some demons but they suddenly need to watch their behaviour and be suspicious of any in the area not meeting high moral standards, which may lead to paranoid attacks against the innocent, which leads to further corruption. Meanwhile the dark gods are laughing. Artifacts likewise have a One Ring effect where the longer you carry them the more corrupt you find yourself becoming. And Corruption is nothing to sneeze at: each point is a penalty to both constitution and willpower as it leaves you fatigued, paranoid, sickly and mistrustful. They need to make rolls not to regain conviction by following their fate (read: being an asshole) and if the penalties drop to -5 it will kill you and bring you back as a malevolent spirit. Getting rid of corruption requires you to gain conviction by following your destiny (read: being good) and committing 10 points of that conviction to removing each point. Of course if the right path seems to hard and those penalties are making you wince you could always embrace your corruption. When you do you no longer have penalties, sure you can’t regain conviction from your destiny or receive healing from the uncorrupted but you can substitute your corruption score for your magical ability, meaning that corrupt sorcerers are generally badasses, who also get access to all the cool powers like raising the undead, mind control and crushing hearts and while you can’t gain corruption from being a dick anymore you can raise it like any other ability score. And when you die you raise as a more powerful spectre, a lich or a motherfreaking Vampire. And through you it will wield a power to great and terrible to comprehend. Finally on Character Creation we have relationships. This is your relationship to a person or organization of varying degree of intensity (rated 1-5). These can be positive (friend, lover, blood brother, dead parent who you promised to avenge, the knightly order you’re apart of) or negative (mortal enemies who burned your home, killed your family and cheated you out of the prize chicken competition). When the relationship is involved you gain additional stunt points on any stunt equal to the relationship intensity, you also gin access to two of the best stunts ever: ‘As you wish’ and ‘Prepare to die’. You start off with two relationships one with 1 intensity and one with 2 intensity.

Chapter 3 From here the game goes on to detail various focuses and talents you can take. Focuses are basically just your skills: weapon groups, self discipline, various magical specializations, deception, romance, natural lore, drinking, smithing, the works. There are actually quite alot of skill focuses but it’s pretty easy to figure out what a given character would specialize in. Talents are what really define your character. They are basically various class abilities and unique skills that will define your character, from magical powers to having connections, magic item crafting to weapon specializations, performance to holy light, oratory to thievery. Each one comes in three levels you you may generalize taking the novice level in several talents or specialize in order to master fewer talents for greater reward. Alot of them are quite fun with cool bonuses and effects, giving a large degree of definition to basic classes. And if that weren't enough you also get a class specialization with a unique talent that you gain more ranks in as you level up, these cover things like assassin, duellist, hunter, sacred warrior, shapeshifter, spirit dancer, pirate, noble and martial artist. These are actually really cool and provide further definition and ability to the characters, I particularly like how it says that while you gain your specialization at level 4, the gm may state you need to find a teacher, manual or applicable quest to learn your specialization. It adds a level of depth that makes the character progression feel less artificial.

Chapter 4 Magic. That’s what this chapter covers. And boy was I scared of this one. Magic in true20’s blue rose was this interesting art form. It didn’t have mana or spells per day, instead you had a number of schools of magic (animism, meditative, elemental shaping, healing, psychic and visionary) and a number of powers tied to each school. Each power was flexible, for example fire shaping let you ignite and increase fire as well as create light, manipulate objects had a huge amount of creativity and you could even wield weapons other abilities let you read an objects past, create psychic shields and empower weapons with magic. None of this was limited, if you could do it, it was as easy as a skill, the abilities were apart of your character, you couldn’t run out of magic and suddenly be a dude with a stick. The limiter was fatigue, when you used some of the more direct and combat based powers you would roll against a fatigue test and if you failed you suffered fatigue levels which gave a dice penalty and slowed movement until you eventually passed out. Fantasy AGE on the other hand had a mana based spell system where all of the talents had highly specific combat based effects such as firebolt, wind blast and water wall, abilities that were purely based around combat 9/10 times and didn’t really feel integral to the setting. You were a magic cannon. That’s it. Well fortunately Blue Rose has converted over it’s previous magic system to age and it is wonderful, the abilities are flexible and can be creatively used, are integrated into the setting and don’t presume that npc’s have access to abilities that the player’s don’t such as identifying magic items or summoning. There are rules for all of these. While I was disappointed to find the ritual magic rules didn’t make it over it wasn’t a big deal as the magic was plenty flexible and powerful on it’s own and ritual magic’s greatest use (summoning elementals and darkfiends) was still present as a normal ability. Overall the alternate magic system alone is a good reason to get this book for use in other AGE products. it’s probably on of my favourite magic systems in any rpg: flexible, well defined, evocative, able to be used at will and not gamebreakingly overpowered.

Players Section 2: Setting Chapter 5 These chapters cover the setting of blue rose and boy is it well done. Chapter 5 covers the mythology and history of the setting. From the time where the gods of nature created the world, to when one of them went a little loopy and accidentlied 7 gods of shadow to the response of the others who created 7 gods of virtue and made the spirits of the world take mortal form to protect them, to the time of the sorcerer kings who basically created a magitech utopia before going nuts, turning evil and becoming liches. Then they went to war with each other, unleashed hordes of demons, made the nightfolk and corrupted tons of cretures into monsters, levelled a few countries into barren monster infested wastelands and exterminated the elves of this setting. What a bunch of dicks. To make a long story short they either killed each other or were killed in a revolution made by the combined efforts of the various races with the help of a new player on the field called the golden hart, basically a demigod of good... who was also a deer (this character got alot of flak in the previous version as a deus ex machina for the setting, I honestly don’t know why, he’s barely ever around, vanishes otherwise and is better behaved than alot of old powerful creatures, I mean elminster and gandalf were way worse than this, and the average good dragon in D&D is more capable of being a deus ex machina). One Lich got missed for awhile but life went on.

After the war the kingdom of aldis was formed which is the assumed location the game is centered around, basically a liberal meritocracy. If you ever wanted to know what a lawful good setting would look like, this is basically it. Nobles are based on qualification, magic allows for decent health care and it’s explicitly stated the printing press is a thing, so the setting is at about 17th century level technology... with a bit of a throwback to the medieval in some respects as reliance on magic tends to stifle the need for some forms of development. The Country’s electoral method basically has the golden hart show up and pick someone (sometimes though not always the previous monarch’s heir) the day after the last monarch resigns or dies. The nobles by contrast are chosen with the aid of a mystical item given by the rhydan, which detects the presence of corruption, competence and the desire to be useful to the land, however it’s explicitly stated that it only works once and nothing stops nobles from becoming corrupt after they’re given their position, even the monarch isn’t immune as two of the previous ones have lost their marbles after ruling competently for a time, and the current queen was betrayed by the previous prince to the lich king. Speaking of whom the last lich king who was around in the previous edition is dead now, after teaming up with the traitor prince. I was nervous at this as he made for a great sauron like villain in the last version. However it’s stated that all of his 7 chief lieutenants survived and are all fighting eachother but are more than happy to try and conquer aldis by force if they get a chance. This may actually work out better, as they may lack the menace of the lich king but there are more of them, each quite powerful and well established with dark armies, but unlike the lich king they are enemies the players can reasonably fight as opposed to the nigh unkillable lich king who was mostly just a background threat.

Chapter 6 Chapter 6 goes on to detail Aldis in various ways, from the societal to the geographical but it avoids going into overly deep trivia that would just become fluff and details a number of interesting npc’s and organizations the pc’s might belong to. It’s actually quite engaging as it manages to set the atmosphere well and would make it easy to run a multitude of campaign styles. It makes it clear that Aldis is a good place, somewhere worth fighting for, also a place with a lot of problems, from invasions from surrounding countries to demons spilling out of long closed gates, corrupted artifacts surfacing around some poor bastard who doesn’t know how dangerous it is, psychic crime syndicates, pirates, demon haunted islands, bandits, corrupt nobleman abusing power, ancient monster of the shadow wars, vampires. It addresses all of these threats and more and it really makes you feel that any given area could be rife with adventure, and more importantly it would be adventure that would feel rewarding. The game makes a big deal about immersing your players, getting them to connect personally to npc’s and the groups they’re apart of. It discourages being a combat monkey murder hobo, instead trying to make you really feel like a hero in this land. The game leans far more heavily towards playing Aragorn or the Dread Pirate Roberts over Conan and tries to make that feel like the proper playstyle. Far less gritty ‘game of thrones-esque’ realism and far more the narrative heroism of lord of the rings or the princess bride, which are probably the best comparisons you can make to players who want to understand the setting and are unfamiliar with the authors this work is based on.

Chapter 7 Chapter 7 is basically just Chapter 6 but smaller for the surrounding countries, their history and politics and how they view and treat the kingdom of Aldis. Jarzon is a theocracy that comes down hard on corruption and sorcery and is willing to go further in order to root it out, becoming rather oppressive in their methods and society, you know the drill: patriarchy, intolerance for other races, negative views on magic but not exactly evil. They’re the well intentioned but misguided extremist. Which is somewhat justifiable as they haven’t had nearly the easy time that aldis has, their sorcerer kings didn’t go down easy and they are bordered by a haunted swamp on one side and a blasted monster infested wasteland on another. It makes sense they’d be more xenophobic and have firmer stances against magic particularly considering their theocracy was what saved them. Jarzon get’s the most attention of any other country as it tends to have the most mixed and prevalent interaction with Aldis. Other countries include Kern where the aforementioned 7 evil kings fight for power, Rezea which is made of nomadic plainsmen, the rainforest kingdom of wyss, the tropical matriarchy of Lar’tya, the pirate isles (guess what’s there), and the shadow barrens (see monster infested wastelands above)

Narrator’s Section The Narrator’s section needs less explanation so I'll cover it more broadly

Chapter 8 covers the narrator’s job, fairly self explanatory for an experienced gm but it has some good advice setting up adventures and managing things like intrigue and romance and on dealing with problem players. Chapter 9 Covers playing the setting and gives advice for themes of high and dark fantasy (yes you can play this game in a gritty way it just isn’t normally aimed for this), horror games (i’ve already mentioned the ravenloft like effect of corruption, and i’ve heard doing a crossover with ravenloft is doable for this game, and with the rather impressive monster list a horror game is definitely possible if one chooses to go there) swashbuckling adventure (which seems to very much fit the themes of this game) and high romance (for your more roleplaying and feelings over combat style game) It also addresses alternate settings for blue rose, which I have to admit was the last thing I would have expected from a setting book but this one goes all out, it has science fantasy, post apocalyptic mars frontier, narnia style coming of age fantasy, time travel and even a rather hilarious premise of the pc’s being wedding planners (an idea so outrageous that I have to try it sometime just to see what happens). Chapter 10 is mostly about rules arbitration and handling ability tests, whether to favour the rules, the players or the story, considerations in combat (like cover or obscured vision), hazards and traps and how to do npc personalities on the fly Chapter 11 is about rewards. Since hard cash isn’t really a thing in this game. It covers things like gaining levels and exp, honorifics (such as demon slayer, protected by destiny or famed artist) that players can pick up and give small infrequent bonuses, mostly social, various titles and noble recognition, memberships and ranks within various organizations, companions (like bodyguards, squires or lovers) and of course special equipment. Equipment rewards in this game comes in both masterwork and magical form. It has rules for different qualities that an item can possess and the bonuses it gives (such as durable, well crafted and deadly) as well as how hard such things are to make. Magical items come in 3 forms generally: elixers (magical potions that give temporary buffs), arcane stones (simple wonderous items mostly with various useful qualities) and magic weapons (which can harm spirits and other such creatures, it also lists the cryston which is basically a magical crystal phaser wand that’s set to stun instead of kill) Chapter 12 is the final chapter and it lists (what else) adversaries. The game lists a number of different kinds of enemy and includes rules for buffing them up accordingly from members of the classes (which given their flexibilty covers alot of ground with minor tweaking), various animals; magical, intelligent and otherwise (including various familiar options including classics like winged cat and tiny drake), nature spirits, elementals and the faeries (with the lovely statement that in corrupt areas the spirits themselves become corrupt... fun!), shadowspawned monsters (basically your gnolls, harpys, betentacled horrors, ogres, naga and so on), a variety of undead from various ghosts, zombies, ghouls, liches and vampires, Darkfiends (basically demons, they come in 4 basic varieties and get modified depending on which sin they embody) and finally a list of additional qualities you can mod monsters with such as aquatic, magical gaze, regenerative, vulnerability and winged. All in all it’s got a great list of creatures many of which would seem familiar enough to those who’ve played D&D but maintain enough distance to be interesting. The game closes out with a sample adventure that’s pretty good to start your game off with. I won’t spoil it but I may run it depending on what kinds of characters my players create. In the back is an appendix of useful notes worth printing: a stunts reference sheet, a list of combat actions quick reference cards for npc’s and a pretty (if somewhat ink demanding) character sheet.

In Conclusion This is a wonderful game with vast potential that gives players a great deal of freedom to develop and use their characters in a setting where your connection to it matters. It’s optimistic, lighter shade of grey approach to the setting is a breath of fresh air. The system is solid and simple, able to be learned and used quickly and mastered within a session or two. The stunts system keeps players on their toes and makes them look forward to rolling.

This is a great book and an easy 5/5 for me. I look forward to playing it, I look forward to running it and I hope to see more of this setting in future Green Ronin works. My only regret is I do not yet own a hardcover copy of this book

Get this game if you want: -A good fantasy game that creates a more immersive setting than the standard fare -To see the AGE rules at their best and perhaps use them for another work -a game that favours investment from the players and heroic adventure -representation of LGBTQ characters as a common thing in an rpg

  • to basically be playing the princess bride meets lord of the rings


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True20 Adept's Handbook
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/22/2016 16:47:28

Adepts come in many shapes and sizes. Sorcerers, pact-bound warlocks, goddess touched witches, divine clerics, psychics, and even more. This book helps you figure them out and given them form. Various paths are given and all the expected ones are here; necromancers, occult scholar, wizard, voodoo priest and yes there are even witches. In addition to detailing various types of adepts and the genres they appear in, there are plenty of new adept/supernatural powers, skills, and feats. There is even a section on items.



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True20 Fantasy Paths
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/22/2016 16:36:01

Using only the True20 classes of Expert, Adept and Warrior you can create all the standard, or at least the d20 3.x standard, fantasy classes. Yes, Wizards in the D&D sense are not the same as True20 adepts, but you can get them there if you have this book. Each class is defined and then progressions from level 1 to 20 are given. Of course, you can stray from the various paths to do your own thing, that a strength of True20, not a weakness. Also, an added feature of these fully stated out level progressions is that if you need an NPC, say a 3rd level bard or a 15th level cleric, then you have those stats ready to go. It doubles as a rogues gallery.



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True20 Bestiary
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/22/2016 16:28:08

If I have said it once, I have said it 100 times. There is no such thing as too many monster books. This is the book you want to fill your games with all sorts of nasty beasties. The monsters are largely OGL derived and that is 100% fine by me! As with the d20 rules, True20 monsters are built like characters, so a creature that has certain powers has to be an appropriate level to have them. It means that monster building on the fly is a bit trickier till you get the hang of it. But this book provides hundreds of monsters, so that is not an issue really. The creatures have a fantasy origin, no surprise, given True20's fantasy antecedents. The creatures here though are constrained to fantasy settings though. Dinosaurs and Dragons can attack in downtown Manhattan and vampires work well in every setting just to give a couple of examples. Again, a must buy for any True20 fan.



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True20 Companion
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/22/2016 16:19:48

This book follows the form, if not format, of the Blue Rose Companion. In this case the book covers different campaign models. This includes Fantasy, Horror, Modern, and Sci-Fi. Each section includes various character paths, skill uses, feats, and powers. Outside of the True20 mechanics, there is good advice for running the various genres and sub-genres presented. In particular, I enjoyed the Fantasy and Horror sections. The big surprise to me though was the Modern section. While I did enjoy the Modern d20 rules, I felt it really lacked something. Turns out it wasn't laking, it was over done. Thr True20 Modern is stripped down to just what you need and it is perfect. I lament not running more Modern True20 games with these rules to be honest. Of course, you can mix and match. I pretty much add Horror to everything so Horror-Fantasy, Modern-Horror and Sci-Fi-Horror are all things I do and they are all here. What makes the PDF better than the print book is the ability to print just the sections you want. True20 is not 100% modular, like say GURPS, but it is pretty close. If you have True20 and want more out of it, then this is the book you need.



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Blue Rose - The Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy (True20)
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/19/2016 08:12:22

Review: Blue Rose (True20 Edition) Poster here as well: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2016/12/review-blue-rose-true20-edition.html

Blue Rose was published in 2005 by Green Ronin. The book is 224 pages perfect bound soft cover. Color covers and black and white interior art. Cover art is by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and the book was largely written by Steve Kenson, Jeremy Crawford, Dawn Elliot, and John Snead

I am reviewing my softcover book I bought at Gen Con 2007 and the PDF. Full Disclosure in Reviewing: I bought these on my own and Green Ronin has no idea I am reviewing a 10+ year old product.

I printed out my PDF in 2008 so I could write on my book. I am inserting those notes and observations here. Most of those were written during my “Black Rose” campaign where I mixed elements of Gothic Horror in with my Blue Rose.

What is Blue Rose? Blue describes itself as a “Romantic Fantasy Role-Playing Game”. It starts off by telling us what Romantic Fantasy is, at least in this context. So. Romantic Fantasy. The premise is simple enough really. Instead of the works of Howard, Tolkien, Burroughs and (to some degree) Lovecraft we are going to base this game on the works of Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, and Diane Duane among others all listed on page 13. This is the Appendix N of Blue Rose. Also. I seriously don’t understand some other arguments brought about Blue Rose and Aldis in light of these books. I have the feeling that many of the critics of this game just don’t understand, or have read, this genre. Calling this SJW gaming shows a profound lack of insight to the source material. Aldis is Valdemar with the serial numbers filed off.

Now let me pause here and it will not be the first time. If this was 2005 I would feel the need to keep moving, but this is 2016, and a lot has been said about Blue Rose and I am not deaf to that. So I will add bits like this where needed. This is the first. Since I am giving over to retrospect we can also dispense with the notion of not knowing was True20 is/was. True 20 and Blue Rose is a very, very stripped down version of the d20 rules. All the dice rolls have been reduced to a single d20. Attack? d20. Cast a spell or use magic? d20. Sneak into a dungeon to free slaves? d20s all around. There are no hit points, only a damage track so no rolling for damage. Other games now do this. Both back then and today. This makes things move a bit faster in combat and can make combat very, very deadly. Sure if you are high enough level you might be fine. Unless your combatant is also equally skilled or greater.

Chapter I: World of Aldea As a campaign world we get a history of the World of Aldea, from the Mythic Age (when the Gods were created) to the Old Kingdom (the “Golden Age” of the world), the Empire of Thrones (or the rise of the evil Sorcerer Kings) to the present age in The Rebirth of Aldis. The history of the world is given from the creation of the world by the four greater gods and then into the creation of the lesser gods, demons, and mortal races. This history is compelling and does make you feel there is much more that is not written down. We can come back to this in the supplement book “The World of Aldea”. I rather liked the Exarchs of Shadow. It helps solves the age old philosophical question of "From whence comes evil?" It gives a good explanation of how good gods such as these would have created evil beings.

This chapter also covers that background of the world, the half a dozen countries/cultures you can encounter. We have Aldis, the country of the main heroes and the “good” land of the game. This is one that characters are most likely from. Jarzon, a theocracy that shares some history with Aldis but is a vaguely evil, or least intolerant, land. Kern, home of the Lich King Jarek, is a remnant of the old time before the great shadow wars.

Yes. This is the chapter that introduces us to the now infamous Golden Hart. You know what else it is? The last time you ever hear about it. Unless one of the characters is going end up becoming the next Sovereign of Aldis the Golden Hart will have no affect on the characters whatsoever. I never once cared how the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk or Waterdeep was elected or even who that person was. It has never affected anything in the last 36+ of gaming for me and neither does this. It’s really no different than the Lady of the Lake. Claims that the Golden Hart "tramples" on Role-playing also shows that the person complaining never actually read the book, or played the game.

Information is given on Aldis. Aldis is not just the idyllic land that some have depicted it. It is “enlightened” but there are still internal strife, crime, the odd sorcerer or even a leftover gates from the time before the Sovereigns, and the ever present threats from inside and outside. A number of threats to Aldea are detailed. Various unscrupulous merchants, a very effective criminal organization known as “The Silence”, fallen nobles, bandits, defective shadow gates, and the remains of various shadow cults. In a handful of pages we get plenty of ideas for characters to do.

Chapter II: Creating Your Hero Character creation is mechanically a breeze. Since it is d20 derived nearly everyone knows what to do here. The big difference is that instead of scores 3 to 18 you have just the bonuses. So -5 to +5. Everyone starts at 0 and you are given 6 points to divide up. In more “Cinematic” games I have given out 10 points. I also prefer players create their characters together. With backstories that would either augment or complement each other in some way. In Romantic Fiction we often have a single protagonist that joins up with others and soon new bonds are formed. Here we start out with potentially a lot of protagonists. So the dynamic is already slightly different. Now when I say created together I mean in cooperation with each other; the characters might not know anything about each other and even come from different parts of the world, but the players have a vision for what they want and should work on it together.

Races include human, vata (somewhat like elves), sea folk, Rhydan (intelligent animals), night people (likewise somewhat like half-orcs) and the human Roamers.

Blue Rose/True 20 only has three classes; Adept, Expert and Warrior. There are no XP advancement tables; characters level up after a set number of adventures. To borrow from D&D4, you could level up after 10 encounters, but really it is up to the Narrator. An aside...the Game Master for Blue Rose is called a Narrator. Personally I would prefer to call them “Chroniclers”. Seems to fit the feel of what I want in my games.

This chapter also introduces “Callings”, “Conviction” and “Reputation”. Callings are the most interesting of all. Each heroic calling is associated with a Tarot card major arcana. These are related to the alignment system in Blue Rose (Light, Twilight and Shadow) and to the Natures of the characters which are associated to a tarot minor arcana. While it can be used purely as a roleplaying device (as I have done) to guide your character. The mechanical aspect in relationship to Conviction. Conviction is more or less like “Hero Points” or “Drama Points”. A similar mechanic can be found now in D&D 5 with the “Backgrounds” and “Inspiration” systems. They are not 100% the same, but one could be used in the place of the other or used to inform the other. Personally I think it is a damn shame we never got a set of Blue Rose Tarot cards.

Chapter III: Skills This covers the skills the characters can take. Again in something that was new in the d20 times, and became more common later on is how Blue Rose does skill ranking. Skill check = 1d20 + skill rank + ability score + miscellaneous modifiers. Skills are grouped into Favored Skills (based on class), Trained and untrained skills. Need new skills? There is a feat for that (next chapter).

Chapter IV: Feats Like d20, Blue Rose has feats. The feats are your means of customizing your character. Want to be a classic thief? Taken the Expert class and the right skills and feats. Want to be a Paladin or Ranger, take the Warrior class with various feats. Unlike D&D the feats do not have ability score minimums. They do have class requirements and some have other feats as requirements.

Chapter V: Arcana The magic of the Blue Rose world. Magic is both ubiquitous and mistrusted. Nearly everyone has some level of magic. Either they are an Adept or they have a wild talent or two (taken by a feat). At the same time magic, in particular the form known as Sorcery, is mistrusted due to the wars with the Sorcerer Kings. Arcana is divided up into a few categories: Animism Healing Meditative Psychic Shaping Visionary and finally Sorcery.

You can make a number of different sorts of Adepts using the different types of Arcana. In particular I had a lot of fun making various “Benders” like those seen in Avatar the Last Airbender and Avatar the Legend of Korra. You can easily make Air, Earth, Fire and Water Benders. You can even make a “Spirit Bender” which has a lot of potential. Of course I have made many witches. This is not Vancian magic. Once you have a magical gift you can use it all you like...until you can’t that is. There is a fatiguing effect here. Makes magic really feel different than D&D.

Chapter VI: Wealth and Equipment Since the accumulation of wealth and the killing of things is not as important here there is an abstract wealth system. Instead of gold you have a Wealth score. If you want to buy something less than that, then you can. If it is greater, well you will need to roll for that. The system is very similar to what was found in d20 Modern. As expected there are plenty of lists of goods and services. Aldis is a civilized place. Additionally there are arcane items that can be bought, not a lot mind you, but some.

Chapter VII: Playing the Game This includes the very typical combat and physical actions found in every game; especially one based on the d20 rules which has D&D in it’s ancestry. There is good section on social interactions. If run properly a good Blue Rose game will include people that can talk or socialize their way out of problems as much as fight their way out.

Chapter VIII: Narrating Blue Rose This is the GM’s section. Again, I much prefer the term “Chronicler” to “Narrator”. “Chronicler” also implies that the characters are doing something worthy of Chronicling. The chapter has the very pragmatic “Assigning Difficulties” which works well for any d20 derived game, which includes D&D editions 3, 4 and 5. It covers Blue Rose’s particular form of level advancement. There are guides for roleplaying situations like Romance and Intrigue. Again, while situated in the Blue Rose and True20 systems, they could be used for any game. What is particularly useful is the very old-school like table of 100 Adventure ideas. Need an idea? Roll a d100. Each one of these can be expanded into an adventure. This flies in the face of any notion that Blue Rose is a limited game. Equally useful is the section on “About Evil” which gives advice on how to handle evil NPCs. They suggest avoiding using “mustache twirling evil stereotypes” or “evil for evil’s sake” NPCs. Though I will point out that some of their source material does exactly that. They favor a more nuanced approach to evil, reminding the reader that no evil person thinks of themselves as the bad guy.

Chapter IX: Bestiary There are some familiar names here, but don’t automatically assume you know what these creatures are about. Griffons for example are given more emphasis and intelligence here than in their D&D counterparts. This is completely due to how they are treated in the Romantic Fiction novels, in particular the novels of Mercedes Lackey. Also, unlike the books, there are a lot more creatures here than what I recall reading. So there are plenty of creatures that can either guide, beguile or challenge the characters. There are about 70 or so creatures here. Adding more would be easy, really TOO easy to be honest. Most creatures need have a good reason to be in the game/world. For example there are no Manticores here. You could make a very good reason for them to be there as something like anti-griffon or even a magical race the bred true to fight griffons. Maybe they were created during the Shadow Wars or even before in the Empire of Thorns. They are rare now since most were killed.

Introductory Adventure: The Curse of Harmony What it says on the tin. An introductory adventure featuring some of the different aspects of this game.

Appendix: D20 System Conversion Of course you know I loved this. The ability to mix and match from d20? Hell yes. In fact I did just that for my own Blue Rose/Ravenloft mash-up. I found that it works best to convert to Blue Rose than trying to convert Blue Rose to some d20 system.

And True20 True20 came out after Blue Rose and offered some improvements on the base system. For example Toughness no longer increases with level. This is a good change. As my gaming in Blue Rose increased I found I used more and more True20. In particular anything with a horror, supernatural or magic bend to it. Plus the True20 system, as published,

Normally at this point I make a case as to why you should buy this book. I figure most of you have made up your minds about this game long ago. So instead I am going to say give this game a try. It is fun. It is different that most of the Murder-Hobo games out there. Even if you don’t like the game there is the setting. If you don’t like that then there are plenty of mechanics and ideas that can be used in any other game. If nothing else check out the Quick Start version of the game that Green Ronin still gives out for free.

There is a lot here that could easily be added to a D&D5 game. Indeed, some of the roleplaying ideas in D&D 5 share at least some history with Blue Rose and True20. Maybe a D&D5 version of Blue Rose is in order.



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Blue Rose Companion (True20)
par Timothy B. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 12/15/2016 21:46:36

The Blue Rose Companion contains plenty of new material to keep your Blue Rose game fresh. Now I will be candid here. There is a lot here that has the appearance of being material that was not quite ready for the core book. This is not uncommon really. I usually have enough material left over from books to make another book. Not all of that material will, or should, see the light of day. Most of the material here is good stuff.

Like the core the Blue Rose Companion was published in 2005 by Green Ronin. The book is 120 pages perfect bound soft cover. Color covers and black and white interior art. Cover art is by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. Authors are listed as: Designed by Chris Aylott, Elissa Carey, Joseph Carriker, Steve Kenson, Alejandro Melchor, Aaron Rosenberg, Rodney Thompson Additional Material by Jeremy Crawford. Fiction by Dawn Elliot. Edited by Jeremy Crawford and Developed by Steve Kenson

Chapter 1: Heroic Roles Nearly the first third of the book is given over to Heroic roles and Paths characters may take. With a base class assumed (Adept, Expert or Warrior) the character can then take a prescribed set of feats, arcana (in some cases) and skill focuses to come up with a "class". Such roles include, Animist, Arcanist, Contemplative,Healer, Psychic, Shaper, Seer, Bard,Infiltrator, Merchant, Noble, Scout, Spirit Dancer, Thief, Clan Warrior, Crusader, Knight, Ranger, Soldier, and Swashbuckler. Plenty more can also be derived from these examples. A few points. They are not in alphabetical order, but instead grouped by base class. The Shapers make for FANTASTIC "Benders" from "Avatar: The Last Air Bender" and "Avatar: The Legend of Korra". Making an Avatar takes a little more work. Also, I never made a witchcraft path for this. I know crazy, but being able to customize what I wanted allowed me a lot of freedom in character choice. I have some characters I call witches, but that is about it.

Chapter II: Heroic Abilities This covers various uses for skills and "tricks" something you can do with a skill, such as doing a one hand handstand. The base DCs are nice and yes, totally portable to other d20 based systems.

Chapter III: The Arcane Arts This covers another third of the book. This chapter covers all sorts of new Arcana as well as tools of the Art, Skill and War; or items usable by Adepts, Experts and Warriors. I was quite pleased to "Daemonbane"; I had a similar named blade in my D&D games. Rituals, summonings, and places of power are discussed here as well. This is the sort of thing that would have been great to have in the core book and more fully integrated into the rules from day one. Additionally there is a new rule associated with rituals, Élan or magical power. This one is fine here since the heroes are supposed to using this sort of power anyway, or at least not in theory. Still this is a good reason for me to keep printing out my PDFs. I can rearrange the pages as I like and insert this chapter in the Core.

Chapter IV: Bestiary The last part of the book contains new monsters. In particular I enjoyed seeing the Sahuagin, or Sea Fiends, in their True20 format. With Sea Folk, these guys are must have. Again, good to have this printed out to rearrange.

In general this is a good addition to the Blue Rose game, in fact there are few things here that I used all the time that I would have sworn where in the Core till I started doing these reviews again. Rereading this book today also reminded me how close Blue Rose was and is to my preferred style of gaming.

This book also set the stage for what future True20 books would look like and do.



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Mutants & Masterminds Deluxe Hero's Handbook
par Erwin D. H. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 12/02/2016 12:44:25

While most of the content was already present in the previous version of this book, it nevertheless adds plenty of additional information and options. If you are new to this game, I would strongly advice you to choose this version over the core book. If you already have the core book, this might not be for everyone. It all depends on how hardcore you are.



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