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Other comments left for this publisher:
Crossing the Millers: A Sword Noir Adventure
by charles b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/06/2013 15:02:43
Pros:
- Writer enthusiastic about genre
- Great genre with a lot of potential
- Love the movie and interested to see how it could be turned into an adventure
- Great price

Cons:
- The writer refers to boxed text for the GM to read-out during gameplay, but there isn't any boxed text in the pdf. Then later the writer explains why he doesn't like boxed text. And just after that there is text in quotation marks that clearly is meant to be read.
- The pre-gens aren't pre-gens in the traditional sense, more just a collection of pivots.
- There is fair amount of background that the players need to know to make sense of the adventure, but how to get the players up to speed on this is never discussed/addressed in the text or even on the "pre-gen" sheets
- The NPC names (Catriona?) need to be reworked.
- Apparently the game is designed to hit the pre-gens pivots, how the pivots might come to play in the adventure is never discussed (neither are the "secrets").
- "Secrets" are on the PC sheets only and not on the sheet that gives the breakdown of the pre-gens.
- The presentation of the adventure could perhaps be improved upon and the idea of splitting it into "events" and "places" didn't work for me. I think it's mostly that the "events" weren't laid out well. A solid structure (like those seen in ToC adventures) would make a huge difference.
- There is no section to give a good overview of how the adventure might run. Something like in ToC adventures "Spine"

Overall:
I still like the product. This is the sort of adventure I'd try to write and it's interesting seeing what someone else has done with the material. Not sure I'd run the adventure, but it has given me a few ideas and the author's enthusiasm helps a lot.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crossing the Millers: A Sword Noir Adventure
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Operation Nearscape: an Osiris File
by frank h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2012 11:41:30
I found this publication hard to read. The structure was scattered and confusing. The often repeated mantras "as GM you can change this" and "these are not rules" were used to the point of distraction.

While I think there are some useful bits, I was pretty disappointed. Thank goodness this was free. I doubt I would actually purchase anything from this publisher based on this example

I understand the authors desire to keep the "adventure" as free form as possible, but the layout made it almost impossible to find. Following a more traditional structure would have helped a great deal.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Nearscape: an Osiris File
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Kiss My Axe
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/02/2012 00:33:52
WHAT WORKS: Kiss My Axe, while largely using the same system as Sword Noir, does a nice job of differentiating itself, especially in feel with predefined Qualities like Ethos and Seafaring. The alternate magic system is also a nice touch, as is getting a small selection of beasties to use with the game system.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The lack of a character sheet is disappointing, and I did catch the odd editing error (the sample character from the character creation chapter is missing his Physique rank, for instance.

CONCLUSION: A very cool follow-up to Sword Noir, though I'm not sure it quite reached the lofty heights of its sister game. By necessity, it is more limited than Sword Noir (though a wide range of vikings are presented...you are not shoe-horned into a burly brawler by any stretch). Even though the two games do depart in certain ways mechanically, KMA is inexpensive enough to mine for material for Sword Noir, taking the magic system as an alternative, for instance, or seeing monster write-ups in play. All in all, a fine product...I just personally prefer Sword Noir to Kiss My Axe.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/02/tommys-take-o-
n-kiss-my-axe.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kiss My Axe
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Suffer the Witch: A Kiss My Axe Adventure
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2012 08:02:55
This, the first adventure for Kiss My Axe was, as the Introduction tells us, originally run several times by the author at Gen Con 2011, and has been modified based on feedback received. As a convention adventure, pre-generated characters are provided, but can easily be used with existing characters if preferred.

On the face of it the plotline is simple, yet it has hidden complexities. The adventure opens with the characters shipwrecked near a remote village, and the plot revolves around them discovering the situation in the village and - hopefully - doing something about it. To start with, the GM is given not one but two versions of the background, giving him contrasting interpretations of the facts from the standpoint of two major protagonists. It's a neat way of both giving the GM scope to determine what is the 'truth' of the matter and providing detailed focussed information to use depending on which protagonist the characters happen to be talking to at the time! Unfortunately it's marred by a couple of critical typos, but it should not be too hard to see what ought to be there.

Next comes a discussion on how to get the characters to the village and what they will find there. It's flexible, allowing you to draw out the player's ideas and build events more closely around the characters - especially useful if not using the pre-gens, but giving a vibrant and real feel to any game. Once they arrive, there are plenty of suggestions about what will occur, all with a loose almost sandbox feel that will empower you to give realistic responses to character actions and words. The whole thing is very open-ended, too... it is up to the characters how they wish to resolve the situation that they find themselves in.

The product rounds off with the main NPCs and the pre-gens, all with neat thumbnail sketches of both appearance and attitude as well as their statblocks, and maps of the village and surrounding area. Noting that he's not the world's best cartographer, the author says that they are more to help the GM visualise the scene than something to lay out on the tabletop - and he's right. Given the kind of resources available, it should not be too hard to make or find something more suited to your needs.

Overall it is a nicely-constructed adventure with plenty of scope for both GM and characters to make it their own. It should fit into an evening's play, especially if you do not have to generate characters as well, and would serve as a good introduction to this game.

(It's really rates 4½ stars, with only minor defects preventing me from awarding 5 stars... the actual adventure is worth them!)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Suffer the Witch: A Kiss My Axe Adventure
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The Kheufer Scrolls: A Sword Noir Adventure
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/29/2011 17:49:24
Read my remarks at http://berinkinsman.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/review-roundup/

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Kheufer Scrolls: A Sword Noir Adventure
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Crossing the Millers: A Sword Noir Adventure
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/29/2011 17:49:06
Read my remarks at http://berinkinsman.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/review-roundup/

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crossing the Millers: A Sword Noir Adventure
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Sword's Edge System
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/29/2011 17:47:05
Read my review of this system, and Sword Noir, at http://berinkinsman.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/remarks-sword-n-
oir/

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sword's Edge System
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Operation Nearscape: an Osiris File
by Tim L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2011 08:04:58
You are an agent for a secret government organization in our world slightly twisted five minutes away and to the right. Yes: you investigate the strange and the beautiful. I liked it. The background is systemless and the organization and world has enough to start but I'm a bit neutral. I feel it was missing something and I'm not sure what. Liked: our modern world with a substrata of Terra Incognita (touches of Warren Ellis' Planetary) and secrets has enough to start. Disliked: I hope there is more to come as it feels a bit incomplete in some way.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Nearscape: an Osiris File
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Operation Nearscape: an Osiris File
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/14/2011 10:17:06
A lot of folks are going systemless right now. It widens usability, as you don't have to strip out assumptions based on a given game mechanic if you want to run the resource using another ruleset; but it does mean that you have got to add any rules information that your chosen game system requires. My plotbooks tend to work the same way: concepts and ideas and plotlines, the system under which I'll run them gets assigned later...

We start off with a bit of scene-setting. Characters are assumed to work for the Osiris Foundation. Just what that might be is up to you, but it one of these little-known organisations that populate the pages of thrillers, hiring elite operatives and sending them on intriguing missions that, if only the world knew about them, would have producers clamouring for the movie rights. But if you don't care for that, there's an outline of a smaller, far less well-resourced group, that is interested in much the same things and whose members conduct similar missions. Either will work well with the mission presented here.

Next comes an overview of the situation: the reality behind the mission contained in this file. Eyes Only, of course, for the GM. The text continues with briefing material to be shared with the characters, setting the scene as their organisation understands it, and putting them in the picture ready to carry out their investigations and accomplish their mission. As the two potential organisations are quite different in outlook and resources, never mind objectives, two parallel briefings are given: choose the most appropriate (or mix and match elements of both) as suits your needs. A second PDF (watch out for this, when you click 'Get this free' you just get the main file, but a printer-friendly version and this 'Game Support' one appear for download later...) gives you some excellent handouts covering the briefing material in both forms to pass around.

The final part of the main document looks at the various places the characters can go, and people they can meet, all you need to run the adventure... at least once you've added whatever game mechanics you need.

Excellent work, I hope for more of these!!!!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sword Noir
by gary a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2011 00:03:17
After reading the game I envision a gritty fantasy mashup of a Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser meets Sons of Anarchy... or the Sapranos. Heck with this rich setting both would rock. The system reminds me of a Fate lite system. It's actually quite elegant. I really like the setting of Everthorn which is know in the world as the City of Black Fog. Its basically a gigantic overpopulated city that has been build ontop of older versions of itself for a thousand years. Ripe for story ideas! You could also do a really good gritty sword and sorcery detective story game. After reading it, alot of campaign ideas pop off the pages. Politics, Machiavellian plots and moral ambiguity runs roughshod in this setting. I would say it was well worth the cost. It really is a good investment.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sword Noir
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For Simple Coin
by Michael G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2011 22:21:57
Well, to be honest I haven't finished reading this yet. But, this is how pleased I was with it. I read the first chapter of the first story and I immediately converted it to kindle and nook format for easier reading. I even emailed the files to the publisher as a fan work. I can't wait to finish the stories as they are right up my alley.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
For Simple Coin
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Sword Noir
by Michael G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/09/2011 19:07:29
I have been tinkering with game design for some time. Now that I have read this, well, I can pretty much stop. SEP managed to capture everything I could want out of this genre mesh-up. I really am speechless, it is almost as if my mind was being read when this was written. I wouldn't go so far to claim plagiarism, Cthulhu knows he's been through enough of that.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sword Noir
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Sword Noir
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/02/2011 01:07:56
WHAT WORKS: A very professional, yet low-key, presentation, especially for the price. The art and layout aren't fancy, but they both fit the feel of the product. The system is a nice little mish-mash of various systems, but thought has actually gone into how to make the pieces fit, rather than just jamming them together. I like the Critical Failure and Success bits, as well as the corrupting influence of magic.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I wasn't a huge fan of the city or adventure, just personal preference I guess...although I did like the cops being "incorruptible" for a change. I would probably have preferred a more generalized approach to building fantasy noir adventures instead. The author has explained the reasoning behind the lack of nonhumans on the company website, but I still would have preferred a treatment of them. There were a couple of spots where the writing could have been tighter, and frankly, calling NPCs "NCs" (Narrative characters) just bugged the crap out of me.

CONCLUSION: Minor quibbles aside, I really liked what I read. The Qualities/Aspects stuff is well defined, I dig the take on magic, there is no abstract "stress" in place of damage, and there are some cool bits like gaining advancements off of critical failures. Still, a great game packed into a small package. With a "monster" hack, it might even be a prime candidate for a worthwhile Ravenloft replacement. Highly recommended if you wanna get dirty with your next fantasy game.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/06/tommys-take-o-
n-sword-noir.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sword Noir
by Anon A. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2011 22:53:44
Excellent concept – badly in need of editing, or perhaps just more focus.

I like parts of it - the magic system (similar to Amazing Engines’ - For Faerie, Queen & Country), the idea of Sword Noir, and adventures. They were done well. I’ve been thinking of how to run a game based on something I read on a forum – “live fast, die young, and leave a 3rd level corpse.” Now I think I can do that.

However, the author (Ronald) created his own system for the game, and I don’t think it supports the authors’ stated goal. The stated intent was to make a system where the Characters are specialists, and also that they are to be simply “mortal men” – not Mythic Level Characters.

However, the system (which they stated as being part PDQ and part FATE) uses Attributes plus Faculties plus Abilities plus a die total (but it doesn’t explain that until page 16). And, after reading further into the system you discover that the Player gets 6 points to bump Qualities up from Average to Legendary (the max). But, since attributes, faculty and abilities stack a character that is a specialist could have a better than Mythic Level Ability right from the beginning. If they spread out their points they would have 3 or more qualities at Great Ability. But, the author also states that a generalist is not recommended and would “most likely to fade into the background” of the story. It doesn’t match.

Using the FATE 1.0 System (and its’ ability pyramid) instead of designing a new system would have been better if enforcing a specialization was that important. Or, better yet, if the author had NOT USED A SYSTEM AT ALL, and simply made the book as a genre sourcebook, it would have been more satisfying.

As a genre book it covers the basics – but more pages covering what makes the genre different would have been better. The book is 70 pages long, but only 6 are actually devoted to covering the new genre. It mentions the Maltese Falcon and Out of the Past, and advised the GM to emulate them – without breaking down what they think are the essential parts of those stories.

If they had spent the page used for the system instead to better defining the genre – or how to use it in some other systems (in PDQ, FATE, BRS, D&D, etc), it would have been better.

Also, it is hard to read some times – it wanders a bit, repeats itself a lot, and needs more examples (ie: editing). And, using 7 pages for Characters that could have all been summarized on one page was a waste of space. Whole sections of the Character Sheets were empty; an each sheet took up a whole page by itself. And, the numbers on the table or contents were wrong.

Like I wrote earlier, I like the concepts, but it needed a lot more editing.
But, for a typical RPG book it is about Average (+0) Quality in editing.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Arcane Kingdoms
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/20/2011 21:46:29
Arcane Kingdoms: Seven Realms Beyond The Horizon is a budget-priced, system neutral fantasy supplement by Sword's Edge Publishing with seven kingdoms that are meant to be placed as far away lands in your fantasy game. Each kingdom lists the capital, population, form of government, imports, exports, general description, life and society, important sites, regional history and "FX Campaign", which amounts to suggestions for nonhuman races that can be used to populate the kingdoms (thematically).

The Free City of Argopolis is an incredibly civilized nation that not only utilizes a three branch system of government, but is gaining some notoriety as the inventors of the wordpress, leading - of course - to the mass production of books. The FX notes do point out that it is likely that nonhumans in Argopolis would still wind up in ghettos and the like, casting a darker note on the enlightened society.

On the surface (no pun intended), you read "The Underneath" and you think "Oh, it's The Underdark...again". Not so...think something closer to the Morlocks from the X-Men comics. This is a forgotten society of vagrants, criminals and nonhumans who live just below the surface. It could make for a very interesting juxtaposition in any civilized city that lacks the necessary police force to enforce order below. The FX section is really interesting as it suggests that kobolds could be the driving force in The Underneath, which would be pretty shocking in most fantasy games.

The Commune of Katar Val only consists of about 1,200 people, and are constructed as a true democracy. In a "history is written by the winners" kinda thing, they managed to defeat rampaging bandits and marauders, and turned them into slave labor for their assaults. Elves are recommended as the primary race, with a few suggestions for the marauders, my favorite being trolls. Imagine being a mostly human group finding an Elven commune using Troll slave labor.

The Zeharis Protectorate is the most powerful and militarized realm presented thus far. A very structured, class based society. Again, the FX Campaign notes really takes this entry to the next level, suggesting dwarves as the primary race in the Protectorate, with the smaller realms under their protection being gnomes, halflings or even humans.

The Virikar Domains are a thinly veiled collection of viking nations with a few additional political trappings. Probably my least favorite thus far, but that has more to do with how much I like the other entries than anything else.

The Thanag Tribes of the Sahelli Steppes is a tribal formation of hunter-gatherers ruled by the Tribal Elders (who are usually the more useful, not necessarily the oldest). They have harsh punishments for those who cross the tribes.

The Lordok Nation is a loosely organized alliance of bandit tribes. The author, who had remained race neutral as well as system neutral throughout this book so far, gives his intentions away here by referring to them as goblins (which he notes is the original concept). In and of themselves, the concept isn't anything special...it's the backstory, where The Lordok Nation is said to have been a dominant empire ran by a powerful king that no other society now acknowledges even existed is the real interesting hook here.

I caught a couple of minor editing issues, which is really impressive as there is no editor listed. For $2, this is a really good idea mine, as long as you don't mind that there is no art in the book (which means that the PDF is ALL text, so it's not just padded out), and a few of these entries are easily adapted into even a published campaign (like The Underneath). Probably the one that works the least, conceptually, is the Zeharis Protectorate, if only because it came into power because of being a major spice exporter, so for no one to know about them seems a little...odd.

Great value for the price.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Arcane Kingdoms
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