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Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #30: Huntmaster
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2012 18:26:51

Each of the threat reports come with a nice piece of color art of the character embedded in the PDF and a separate Hero Lab file. Each includes a prop cover letter from AEGIS, possibly useful for setting a scene, that gives a basic idea about what is publically known about the character described. Each character is given a few plot hooks to help work them into a campaign.

Huntmaster (#30) is an extra-dimension hunter, occasionally of bounties, but always of challenges. Equipped with powerful armor (PL13) and acting from his transdimensional base, he and his warhounds fear no prey and range wherever he wishes in search of new challenges. A useful character for a variety of scenarios and challenges.

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #30: Huntmaster
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Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #31: Power Corps
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2012 18:26:08

Each of the threat reports come with a nice piece of color art of the character embedded in the PDF and a separate Hero Lab file. Each includes a prop cover letter from AEGIS, possibly useful for setting a scene, that gives a basic idea about what is publically known about the character described. Each character is given a few plot hooks to help work them into a campaign.

Power Corps (#31) is not just a villain, but a team of villains in nearly identical suits of powered armor. While each member has their own skills, it is the coordination between them that makes the Power Corps such a difficult group to deal with. Useful both as operatives of another villain or acting for their own profit, the Power Corps fill an important niche in the supervillain ecology.

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #31: Power Corps
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Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #29: Death Magnetic
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2012 18:25:02

Each of the threat reports come with a nice piece of color art of the character embedded in the PDF and a separate Hero Lab file. Each includes a prop cover letter from AEGIS, possibly useful for setting a scene, that gives a basic idea about what is publically known about the character described. Each character is given a few plot hooks to help work them into a campaign.

Death Magnetic (#29) is a split personality, when her superpowers are active, she is powerful (PL11), able to manipulate magnetic fields and completely given over to her own desires (totally unlike her none powered self). She is an interesting character and a potentially challenging moral question.

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



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #29: Death Magnetic
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Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #33: Foxfire
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2012 18:23:03

Each of the threat reports come with a nice piece of color art of the character embedded in the PDF and a separate Hero Lab file. Each includes a prop cover letter from AEGIS, possibly useful for setting a scene, that gives a basic idea about what is publically known about the character described. Each character is given a few plot hooks to help work them into a campaign.

Foxfire (#33) is a trickster spirit (specifically a kitsune, a fox spirit) who, like all of her kind, loves to cause mischief and has the power (PL11) to do so. While malicious, Foxfire is more about cause confusion and embarrassment than physical harm and as such can be used in a variety of lighthearted situations which can suddenly turn dark if need be. Also, she can pose as an excellent challenge for mystically oriented heroes.

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



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #33: Foxfire
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Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #28: Sleepwalker
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2012 18:22:07

Each of the threat reports come with a nice piece of color art of the character embedded in the PDF and a separate Hero Lab file. Each includes a prop cover letter from AEGIS, possibly useful for setting a scene, that gives a basic idea about what is publically known about the character described. Each character is given a few plot hooks to help work them into a campaign.

Sleepwalker (#28) is an unusual character, just a normal librarian by day, but when she sleeps, she changes into a superpowered being -usually a different one each night- that act upon her deeper impulses which usually causes trouble. Because of the characters flexibility, multiple superpowered forms, and usual background there are a quite a few stories that can be told with Sleepwalker - though a sample dreamform or two would have been helpful.

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



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #28: Sleepwalker
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Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #24: Size & Mass Powers
by Nenad R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2012 08:41:23

A very short 6-page PDF, it focuses mainly on growth/shrinking powers and how to use them, with some ideas of how else to use size and mass alteration. Useful if these play a large part in your game, but a bit lacking in content.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #24: Size & Mass Powers
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Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #22: Strength Powers
by David F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/29/2012 12:40:43

It is nice to see options for the strong hero in the group. After a while, you get tired of just punching the villain. All of the power profiles add depth to the hero in ways that you might have missed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #22: Strength Powers
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Mutants & Masterminds Gamemaster's Guide
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/18/2012 09:37:42

The short story here is that the M&M Gamemaster’s Guide is close to indispensable for M&M GMs, and large parts of it are very useful for GMs running other superhero systems. The long story follows, from the perspective of a GM in the latter group.

Chapter 1 takes a good long look at various potential campaign settings, using the “metal ages” trope common in comics: Golden Age, Silver Age, and so on up through the (not-yet-metallic) Modern Age. After this, various origin types (aliens, gods, mystics, mutants, etc.) are surveyed, followed by an excellent and engaging discussion of how super-powers and super-powered individuals might fit (or misfit) into a modern society. Both of the foregoing sections, especially the ones on origins and powers, are excellent resources not just for GMs, but for players as well. The cosmology section that follows helps GMs think through issues like alien worlds, parallel Earths, and so forth. The “History” section perhaps could have been better placed right after the “metallic ages” discussion, for it guides GMs through the process of considering the place of super-powered individuals in the world prior to the campaign’s present (and even into the campaign’s future, if time travel works in the GM’s universe). The penultimate section in chapter 1 also revisits and extends some material from earlier in the chapter, discussing such issues as the legal status of superheroes, their standing to make arrests, and even the existence and role of comic books in your super-powered setting. Finally, chapter 1 turns to organizations of various sorts, with advice about the characteristics and even naming conventions of typical organizations in a comic-book world. Except for a few weapons, there’s no M&M crunch in chapter 1; it’s a fun read for any comics fan or aspiring comics writer and a great resource for a GM running superheroic games in any system.

Chapter 2 turns to villains, a “necessary evil” in comic-book worlds. The discussion of villain “levels” is tied to M&M PLs, but the concepts can be adapted to any system. The good, though perhaps not entirely comprehensive, survey of villain “types” (typical actions), “roles” (relationships with heroes), and motivations is pure storyline, and will serve GMs well no matter what superhero system they’re running. The excellent section on villainous combat tactics obviously presupposes M&M3, but isn’t very “crunchy,” and could easily serve GMs running an earlier version of M&M or a completely different game. In particular, the subsection on “Singular Villains” addresses a common problem that even GMs running completely different genres might appreciate: the one-vs.-many setup of many superhero combats. I particularly liked the discussion of strategies for helping a villain escape from a losing battle, and I almost think that the subsection on “Why the Villain Loses” should be required reading for all GMs running superhero games. Similarly, the sections on “In-Depth Villains,” villain teams (like the Injustice League or the Masters of Evil), and villainous organizations (like Hydra) will help any GM flesh out a superheroic world.

Chapter 3 includes a lot of great M&M3 crunch. It starts with a helpful discussion of the ways in which villain creation differs from hero creation (for example, a villain’s PL is a result of the villain’s design, rather than a constraint on it). In the “Powers” subsection, the discussion of “stunned power capabilities” is short but critical. Paying attention to the advice, especially the mechanical (system crunch) notes, throughout the whole chapter can help save you a lot of time while preparing villains. Naturally, using the archetypes provided in this chapter (including the archetypes for minion, including nonhuman minions like dinosaurs and robots) can save you even more time.

Chapter 4 provides inspiration for villainous plots (as in “schemes,” not necessarily as in “storylines,” though these overlap to a significant degree. This chapter analyzes five basic super-villain plots—conquest, destruction, kidnapping, murder, and theft—breaking each one down into its various component parts, with plenty of attention to possible variations. A second substantial section on “Adventure Elements” offers various ideas for generic plot hooks and plot elements, such as using heroes’ own powers as focal points for adventures. There’s even a table of 100 adventure seeds that a GM can use to select an adventure seed randomly.

Chapter 5 begins with a section on disasters, supplementing the environmental challenges presented in chapter 8 of the M&M Hero’s Handbook. The second section deals with traps that villains might use to detain or even kill superheroes.

Finally, chapter 6 includes a bunch of rules options, including power point budget variants, custom-built fighting styles, reputation, knockback, and mass combat.

An appendix includes nine ready-made villainous lairs.

Every feature of the Gamemaster’s Guide is top-notch, aside from a few misspellings and grammatical errors. Well over half of the book is useful for GMs running any superhero system. The artwork, too, is excellent and really enhances the book. The PDF version includes a complete set of bookmarks. This volume is a fine addition to any GM’s library.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Gamemaster's Guide
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Dragon Age Faces of Thedas: Varric
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/01/2012 06:20:34

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/06/01/tabletop-review-faces-of-thedas-varric-dragon-age/

I’m not really a big fan of licensed RPGs, but there have been three big exceptions in the past: TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes game, Mayfair’s DC Super Heroes game and Leading Edge Games’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is obscure but has a really great system attached to it. That’s not to say I haven’t owned other licensed RPGs, but those are more a curiosity than anything else. I’ve owned Guardian of Order’s Tenchi Muyo and Slayers games, but if you’ve ever played them then you probably understand why they stay on the shelf rather than see any play time. Dragon Age is one of those RPGs. It’s well made, but like many people I show it to, I guess I’d rather play the video games the tabletop system is based on if I’m going to have a Dragon Age craving. Like the old Diablo tabletop RPG, I just can’t fathom a time where someone would really have a strong desire to use this system and setting when you could play the video games or something originally born and bred for pen and paper gaming instead.

Faces of Thedas is a new, PDF only line for the Tabletop game that focuses on the heroes from Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II. The line starts with this ten page document on Varric, the narrating dwarven rogue from Dragon Age II. I was happy to see Varric be the pilot character for this project as he’s my favorite in the series. What you get is about five pages of information on the character that might be of interest to both video game and tabletop fans of the Dragon Age franchise followed by five pages of tabletop stats. For a mere buck and a half, this isn’t too bad of an idea, but there are a few stumbles along the way.

The first page of the document introduces Varric and Mary Kirby, the writer who created him for Bioware. The introduction isn’t really needed because honestly, if you’re playing the Dragon Age tabletop game you’ve almost certainly played the video games. That’s like picking up a licensed super hero game without reading a comic book. It makes no sense. The second page of the document is an interview with Mary Kirby and is definitely the bit that all DA fans will enjoy. It’s a nice look at not only Varric himself, but how he came to be and the creative process that spawned him.

The third page of the document is Varric’s biography up to the start of Dragon Age II. It’s a nice little write-up and it helps to flesh out the character’s back story in case you missed/forgot any of it from your Dragon Age II playthrough. The next two pages are a gobblygook of information ranging from “hints” about what might happen to Varric when he encounters the Champion of Kirkwall, adventure hooks where your party might encounter him, ways to rewrite his story for those that want to use Varric but don’t want to strictly follow DA2′s history, and finally thematic use for Varric. All this is interesting, but not necessarily useful. The “Varric & Champion” section is pretty useless because once again, if you’re picking this pdf up, you already know who Varric is and you’re interested in using him. Why? BECAUSE YOU PLAYED DRAGON AGE II. Oy vey. The books attempt at not giving out “spoilers” is laudible, but unnecessary because the game is over two years old at this point and for the third time, if you’re playing Dragon Age the tabletop RPG, there is a very. VERY small chance that you haven’t played one or both video games.

Pages six through ten are all tabletop gaming stats, although very little of it is actually Varric-centric. For example, the PDF goes on for one and a half pages (spread over three pages) about the Contacts talent. That’s over ten percent of the document. The rest of the info is pretty useful though. They give you stats for both a level 1 and a level five Varric, information on how to creature a signature weapon for players and then finally three short sections on The Hanged Man Tavern, Varric’s leather duster and Bianca, Varric’s crossbow.

So there’s not a lot of in-depth material on Varric, either in general or specifically for the tabletop setting, but with only ten pages Green Ronin decided to do a lot of little topics rather than a lot of substantial information on a few. Either way has its positives and negatives, but I do think there’s a lot of unnecessary content here that could have been cleared out since nearly everyone who picks this up knows who Varric is and his relationship with the Champion of Kirkwall. I think two or three pages could have been cleared out completely for more useful information such as different builds for Varric, a more in-depth look at the character containing info left out from DA2 and more. For only a dollar-fifty, this isn’t too bad if you’re a fan of Varric, but there’s a lot of untapped potential in this PDF and so overall I’m a bit disappointed. At least it’s not going to be too hard on your wallet.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Age Faces of Thedas: Varric
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Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #19: Plant Powers
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2012 00:19:13

Purchasing this series every week is like buying a powers book on lay-away. My hope, though, is that if Green Ronin releases a collected version at the end of the series, they give those of us who've been collecting the individual issues a discount.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #19: Plant Powers
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Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #2: Armor Powers
by Thomas C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2012 13:14:08

Provides a good sketch of typical armor powers one might construct using M&M 3rd Edition. Dinged it a star because it's not clearly labeled as a 3rd Edition product.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #2: Armor Powers
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Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #5: Tech Powers
by Thomas C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2012 13:13:29

Provides a good sketch of typical tech powers one might construct using M&M 3rd Edition. Dinged it a star because it's not clearly labeled as a 3rd Edition product.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #5: Tech Powers
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Mutants & Masterminds Beginner's Guide (For Second Edition)
by Thomas C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2012 13:08:30

This applies to M&M 2nd Edition, not 3rd. It's not clearly labeled as such, and will confuse the heck out of anyone starting with 3rd.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Beginner's Guide (For Second Edition)
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Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #17: Morphing Powers
by David F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2012 12:19:06

I love these Power Profiles. They give you more options when you are building up a character; ideas for ways of using certain power that I would have never thought of on my own.

I would suggest these profiles to anyone who loves playing Mutants and Masterminds!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #17: Morphing Powers
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A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: A Game of Thrones Edition
by Devon K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2012 20:19:05

I picked this game up at the recommendation of a listener to the show. I'm so glad I did. The game rules are simple enough and very easy to understand. What I really like about the system is that, there are additional layers of complexity you can add on. If you want, I really don't see why you can't play with the basic rules. You'll still have a great game with full characters and some amazing times. That extra layer of complexity really gets me fired up to give this game a whirl.

One of the things I'm most impressed with is the House creation. All the details that are created by the group, all the points spent collaboratively to create an entity that will impact all the PCs is just wonderful. And the fact that the players can spend earned resources later in the game to make it even better just turns on all sorts of lights in my head. So many ideas and I don't know where to start!

Another thing I really love about the way this book is organized is that it provides numbered steps for combat, war, intrigue and pretty much anything you need or want to do in the game. The numbered steps really make it easy to step through the action while you're learning, so you can make sure you're doing things according to the rules. I imagine that, once you've got the rules down, you don't have to worry about the numbered steps and everything just happens the way it's supposed to.

The book is very well laid out and very attractive. The art is generally good and really adds to the text. I think the pieces are well placed and really evoke the feel the designers are going for in the sections of the book where they are added.

This game is not a simple fantasy game. You can use the rules to run a typical dungeon crawl, but I don't see why you would. With rules for Intrigue and with everyone having a House as backdrop for their character, there is so much potential for conflict and stories just by creating a character. I'm very excited to give this game a try. It's a little more crunchy than I typically enjoy, but the possibilities are extremely interesting!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: A Game of Thrones Edition
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