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Only War: Core Rulebook
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/23/2013 19:38:24

Only War is the latest RPG out for the Warhammer 40k rpgs released by Fantasy Flight Games. After tackling the Inquisition, Rogue Traders, Space Marines and Chaos, the series finally pays attention to the true backbone of the Imperium's endless war: the men and women of the Imperial Guard.


In many ways I was looking forward to this book the most. While there's some kind of glamour associated with the Space Marines, the true heart of many stories set in war come from the front lines. The Imperial Guard are the ones who see the fight first, and suffer incredible losses in their days at war. They are the ones who stand to lose the most, and are most vulnerable to the enemy but they don't back down despite the horrors of war, because that is what they do.


Most of all, this is the game that allows you to really tell more well-rounded, human stories rather than the laser focus of just plain hating on the Xenos, the Mutant, the Daemon and the Heretic. (I know I'm oversimplifying things here, but bear with me.)


In any case, those familiar with the rules for Dark Heresy will find that Only War uses the same system, with some intresting new mechanics. One of my favorites is the Regiment creation system, where a group (or the GM) can plan out what kind of Regiment they want to play if they don't want to use any of the ones provided. That said, there's a lot of interesting Regiments to choose from, starting with the Cadian Shock Troops to other iconic Regiments like the Catachan, the Mordians and the Tallarn.


Players can take on the roles of more than just Guardsmen as they get to choose specialties such as Heavy Gunner, Medic, Operator, Sergeant and Weapons Specialist. Furthermore they have Support Specialists as further options including the infamous Commissar, Ministorum Priest, Ogryn, Ratling, Sanctioned Psykers, Storm Troopers and Tech-Priest Engineers. The sheer variance provided is a very nice touch as it helps dispel the impression that everyone essentially plays a grunt with a helmet and a lasgun.


Another interesting mechanic is the generation of Comrades. These are special NPCs that fight alongside the player characters. Mechanically they're sort of like familiars, as each player has direct control over their Comrades by the use of Orders. This doesn't mean that Comrades are expendable by any stretch as certain abilities rely on having a Comrade, and it is to a player's best interest to keep their Comrades alive as long as possible.


Vehicles also a large part in an Imperial Guard game, and vehicle rules account for movement and combat, including some interesting systems critical hit charts that go a long way to simulate the harrowing nature of taking a critical hit while inside a vehicle. Repair rules are also present, giving more opportunities to simulate the "less than ideal" world of living with vehicles that have been patched together by field repairs.


As with all the books in the Warhammer 40k line, the artwork is solid and the layout is readable. I'm glad that the fonts they chose for this are readable while retaining the whole Warhammer 40k vibe. Also of note is the fact that the PDF has been cross-linked, making rules look ups as painless as possible.


Overall, I feel that Only War is a product that shows just how used to the system the team is already at this point. Furthermore, they have a very strong vision as to what the game should be about and aren't afraid to push that agenda via the rules. There's a lot of fluff discussing the nature of the war and how it grinds humanity down, but it never comes off as too depressing as to be utterly unplayable. There are real opportunities to live (and die) as heroes in the war. It's admittedly not the easiest thing to do in the context of RPGs, but in this case Only War deserves a Medal.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Only War: Core Rulebook
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Enemy Within
by Douglas N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/19/2013 00:01:40

Missing some of the material found on the cards in the larger box, but otherwise a great product. Great story,



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Enemy Within
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Night's Dark Masters
by Sebastian M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/11/2013 20:35:42

The best WFRP supplement imo. I love it for it's dark fantasy atmosphere.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Night's Dark Masters
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Deathwatch: Rites of Battle
by Marc S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/05/2013 15:36:12

As a player, I love this book. I find it kinda difficult to tell when a book is meant for the player as oppose to the GM but Rites of Battle is easily one of the best player-centric books for Deathwatch. The expanded chapters, the new equipment, the advanced specialties, new psychic powers all cater to being a better Space Marine. Obviously, if you're a GM, you'll want this so you know what your players are doing. The quality is great and I have no complaints there.


The biggest gripe I have with this, which is why I rated 4/5, is that the bookmarking is TERRIBLE. It's just a giant list with no collapsible categories and and a lot of section names in all caps. It's not fun to scroll through and it's a huge peeve of mine having it like that. I hope this can be resolved somehow by DTRPG or FFG.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deathwatch: Rites of Battle
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Core Rulebook
by Sebastian M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2013 16:52:05

Probably the best fantasy RPG out there. If you looking for something different from D&D get it! But remember; this is grim world where death is always near.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Core Rulebook
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The Book of Earth
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/02/2013 19:31:44

Second in the series of elemental-themed sourcebooks for the timeline-neutral 4th Edition, the Book of Earth is the latest release on PDF.


The Book of Earth focuses on the facets that are relevant to Earth, as broken down to a look into War, the Court, Magic, Enlightenment and the Setting. Like the Book of Air, the Book of Earth also provides a self-contained setting that can be dropped into any campaign. For those looking for new Mechanics, they follow the same format as Book of Air, and have it all on the last chapter of the book.


I find that the approach of showing off each of elements as part of a greater culture and further subdivided per clan is a unique one, and the Book of Earth has some very good insights. My favorite section would have to be a discussion on armor, and the focus of Shiba Artisans creating ornate and functional armor for the bushi of the Phoenix was a very insightful touch.


I'm certain that Crab Clan fans will be very happy to get this book due to the focus and attention it gives to Heavy Weapons as well. There's also a quick section that shows how to use non-standard Skill / Trait pairings that focus on Willpower and Stamina, some of the most underused traits that get some interesting new combinations for both combat and non-combat characters alike.


That said, all the Clans get something from the book. The discussion on armor, castles and sieges for example, apply to all the clans. GMs and Players alike will find inspiration and plot hooks dripping from nearly every sentence, and I can see how this can be an inspiration for character concepts that go beyond the usual Bushi-Courtier-Shugenja trifecta. Sumai Champion bushi? Why not. Shiba Artisan focusing on Armor? Absolutely.


Those who are looking at the spiritual side of the element need not fear as there's a discussion on Earth magic, as well as the families that excel in it. The Tamori family for example is given some spotlight time here, as well as the infamous Chuda family. New Earth spells will make many shugenja players happy, and the Monks get their own set of kiho to shake things up.


Again the Book of Earth is a great addition to the L5R 4th Edition line. Much like the Book of Air, the book manages to expand the depth of culture and history of the setting while still remaining iconic and accessible to new players. Solid writing, combined with L5R's always excellent artwork make this one a winner.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Earth
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Core Rulebook
by Brendan L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/30/2012 18:02:45

Impossible at this early stage to rate a game at 5 stars. I played 1st edition back in the day and loved it so I'm really anticipating something special, RPG-wise. I read the designer notes at the back and felt the reasoning for the the amendments were sound. The main attraction of the game is its low fantasy vibe. Yes the setting is fantastical but it's less Masters of the Universe and more Lord of the Rings. A completely immersive experience in a convincingly realised setting.
A note of caution on the quality of the PDF version that I bought. Sometimes it is difficult to read the text as it is blurred. Also, when the character sheet has bits of text missing. For example, the words 'name', 'age' and 'race' are almost completely missing!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Core Rulebook
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Second City Boxed Set
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/11/2012 20:22:21

It's been quite a wait for us who rely heavily on PDF copies of rpg books, but the Second City Boxed set that was released earlier this year has finally made it to electronic format.


I have to admit that I've been curious about this product for a while now, as I'm not entirely caught up on the canon storyline of L5R. Making a whole boxed set placed in what can be considered to be a very new development of the story is an interesting choice, as it does help people like me understand what is actually going on.


The Boxed set download is actually a group of PDF files for easier downloading. These include:


The Pillow Book
A Map of the Second City
A "for printing" version of the map
The Campaign
The City
The People
The Journal of Yogo Tanaka


It's a hefty download, but that's par for the course in L5R pdf books. Besides, most of the time the gorgeous production values and layout are always worth it.


The Maps


Both maps of the Second city are in full color, showing the massive scale of the city in question. It's impressive to look at and gives you a good idea as to just how many people can fit in this place. The difference between the files is just that the for-printing version is cut up into 8 pages, while the other has the entire map in one big image.


I did notice that there didn't seem to be any labels of any sort, so it's really a collection of buildings with some farmlands and a walled city in the middle with a palace in it. I'm curious as to why there weren't any labels, or if the files will be updated later.


The Pillow Book of Ide Arahime


The Pillow Book is a 20 page work of fiction meant to serve as an in-character guide to the Second City as written from the point of view of Ide Arahime, a Unicorn Clan author. Presented as a journal of the author's travel and experiences in the Second City, it presents an interesting "outsider's" view of just how different the Second City is compared to traditional Rokugan, and perhaps to the more astute L5R fans, just how many concessions were made to exist there.


The Author touches on all aspects of life, from the look and feel of the place, to the stranger customs, artwork, and architecture. There's a lot to be learned through the fiction, and I found it to be interesting reading and a good way to slowly introduce the differences to those unfamiliar with the colonies.


The Journal of Yogo Tanaka


This second journal is another in-character account, but serves as a record of Yogo Tanaka's investigations and how it slowly gets out of hand. The writing is well done, and I have to admit that it works well for it's purpose, which is a supplement to the Campaign included in the Boxed Set. I'd rather not go into too much detail with regards to the contents lest I spoil any pertinent information, but the book makes for an interesting prop for the campaign.


The Campaign


This pdf contains the rather... plainly titled, "The Campaign" which is a full length campaign meant for characters using the Second City setting. It's an extensive campaign, with interesting characters and a compelling villain go to after.


The campaign itself is fairly broad, starting from Rokugan proper and spinning off into a tour of the Second City setting itself. It's a strongly investigative campaign that lends itself well to characters and players who are more interested to mysteries than pure combat, though there's enough of that as well to show the unique dangers posed by the new setting.


I'm glad to see the variance of plot hooks in the campaign, and it suits a good mix of characters from different clans as the varying points of view and approaches to solving a problem can come in very handy.


The Campaign ends with a bestiary of the various monsters in the Second City setting, including the Destroyers and stranger creatures that can threaten even the most stalwart of samurai.


The City


This book is the one that provides the meat of the setting. Starting off from the History of the Second City as the Rokugani understand it. There's some mention of the Ivory Kingdoms, but the section starts from the rise of the Cult of Rhumal, and Kali-Ma the Destroyer and how Empress Iweko I proclaimed the colonies as territory of Rokugan.


The book also goes on to discuss the layout of the city, complete with sections of the map as presented in the PDF complete with the annotations I was looking for with regards to the important locations in the city. I'm starting to understand that the maps are the ones that can be provided to PCs who are new to the city, and they can be free to add their own notes as necessary, while the GM has this for reference.


Each district is covered in great detail, with all the locations given a thorough treatment and notable NPCs scattered throughout. The RPG team of L5R is known for being thorough, and it shines through in this book.


The last chapter of the book goes into the smaller details, including the routes by which people travel to and from the colonies, and a discussion of the culture and mannerisms of the Second City and how they differ from Rokugan main. A mini-Emerald Empire supplement, if you will.


The People


This PDF goes into the detail of the various social structures in the Second City, including the Ivory Court, the government of the Colonies. This is a great way to preserve the political / intrigue feel of Rokugan in a new setting. With so much to be discovered and explored, this is new territory even for the political characters as they try to push the influence and control of the Second City for their clans.


The next chapter discusses the movers and shakers of the setting including Otomo Suikihime, the notorious Imperial Governor and the various ministers of the setting. While strongly tied to the colonies, those who don't plan to use the setting can always transplant these characters into their own settings with little to no trouble.


The People of the Second City discuss the Great Clans and the Imperial Families. Again these are a host of NPCs that can be used to populate any campaign, and help paint a vibrant (and well populated) location.


Not to be forgotten, the minor clans and wave men of the setting also get their own chapter, discussing the opportunities and nature of their presence in this brave new frontier.


Fnially the last section discusses a smattering of new Paths for the Great Clans and Basic Schools for those native to the Ivory Kingdoms.



The Second City Boxed set is huge. It's also an impressive body of work to bring to life a new and exciting development to the L5R universe outside of traditional Rokugan.


While I have to admit that I was initially lukewarm to the idea of this sudden shift outside of the borders of the Empire, I do appreciate the advantages of changing the status quo in such a traditional society. The NPCs and locations presented in the Second City are all done by a team whose enthusiasm shines through, and I'm glad that the team has managed to make sure that none of these characters are mere caricatures.


The usefulness of the set for those who don't plan to use the Second City is still high, as even if you don't end up using the setting, the NPCs alone are worth the price of admission.


Those GMs who wish to have a campaign get their wish, and it's certainly one that spans the length of the Second City and the empire, with equal opportunities for politics, investigation and combat.


The two books are nice for flavor, and the journal makes for a great prop for the campaign. I'm ambivalent about the pillow book however, but it can still be useful for new players who aren't in the mood to slog through The City book.


Is the Second City Boxed Set worth the price as a PDF product? Definitely. There's a ton of detail here, and one could easily run a full campaign with just the contents of this box and the corebook and never look at another supplement again.


The Second City Boxed set continues the winning streak of the Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition supplements and I'm more than happy to say that it can certainly add tons of value to anyone's L5R Collection.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Second City Boxed Set
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Rogue Trader: The Navis Primer
by Jamie D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/10/2012 17:51:39

I think this is a great book. It covers some very in depth rules on navigating the warp and astral telepathy. Which no doubt most GM's will be happy with. It has some extra careers for most explorers and new powers and ship to ship skills for astropaths and navigators. Some of the powers seem a little under-powered compared to what is already out there. However, they certainly have good roleplay aspects to them. A few xenos psykers are covered (with powers, equipment etc) and enemies of psykers. Although there isn't a huge amount of new explorator equipment there is an excellent section on familiars including creating your own.


In short this book is a must for GM's & psyker players (or wannabe psyker players.)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue Trader: The Navis Primer
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Book of Grudges
by Florian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/10/2012 08:32:29

The PDF is of high quality and there are no mold-lines like in some other 3rd Edition pdf-books. The Information in this set are mostly Background stuff concerning Karak Azgaraz from 3rd Edition. Also some information on Warhammer Dwarfs and the rules for the runesmith and engineer. Although you still need the full box for the use of all tokens and careers which are not in the pdf.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Book of Grudges
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Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook
by Etienne S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2012 16:45:13

If you are buying this to read on your tablet, it may run quite slow.


I have a very fast Quad Core tablet and this document is very slow to load. It takes minutes for some pages to load up and for some of the pages to zoom in and out.


However, the majority of the information pages load up in acceptable times. If you need to jump from one page to another that is futher away, then it may take a while to load.


Wish there was an option for a lower quality on so that it can be used comfortably on tablets. There is no reason to be able to zoom into the document so that a few words takes up the whole screen. I tried to downscale the pages but wasn't allowed because the the document is secured against page extraction.


It still works absolutely fine on a PC but is a bit of a chore on the tablet.


If I had a chance to do it again, I would have bought the paper version instead, even though it is big and heavy.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook
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Grimm: Core Rulebook
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2012 12:28:10

WHAT WORKS: I love the archetypes. The world is very, very expansive and has a lot of room to play around in. Great production values (love the picture of the Wolf Man being kicked in the nards). Plenty of options without getting overly complicated. I always like a magic system that has a little risk to it.


WHAT DOESN’T WORK: Imagination may be a tad overpowered, as may the Dreamer archetype in general. Despite often being promoted as being a suitable RPG for kids, the default Grimm Lands may be too dark for that. Grimm was originally a setting for the d20 system, and you can still see a few d20isms floating around in it.


CONCLUSION: I was a big fan of Fantasy Flight Games when they were producing stuff like this, Dawnforge and Midnight. The Grimm RPG line only ever had the one book released for it, but it is really complete with enough material in the book to run a full campaign and enough examples for you to expand the game if you need to (such as with Keepsakes and the like). The biggest flaw that the game has is that it doesn’t make a compelling case to not use Imagination as your Iconic Trait or pick The Dreamer over the other archetypes, from a min-max standpoint. Grimm seems like it could be amazing fun for groups willing to play kids…especially since the kids definitely have the ability to kick butt as they grow.


For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.c-
om/2012/12/tommys-take-on-grimm-rpg.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grimm: Core Rulebook
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Book of Grudges
by Nathan D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2012 00:51:21

I purchased the Book of Grudges expecting to find the careers inside the rulebook...but was sadly disappointed to find them missing. It's disappointing when the rulebooks don't contain the rules and you have to reference cards & bits to find relevant information.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Book of Grudges
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Dark Heresy: The Lathe Worlds
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/07/2012 19:22:45

In many ways, ‘The Lathe Worlds’ is an essential book for all of the 40K-based RPGs, not just Dark Heresy. The Adeptus Mechanicus are well-deserving of their own book, given that there are a number of cultural, perceptual and even theological differences between those adherents of the Machine Cult and the rest of the Imperium of Man.


The developers for this product have done an excellent job in creating a resource which will see a lot of use at any table, with a clarity of writing, and clean layout which to which I have become accustomed when dealing with materials from FFG. Divided into four sections, the book covers in detail:


The history of the Adeptus Mechanicus, their hierarchy and how they are viewed by the general populace of the Imperium. It provides some interesting social norms about the role of machines and their appointed guardians and how this plays out in day-to-day life; which is invaluable for the GM, but also provides inspiration for players. It concludes with a section on tech-heresy, which firmly roots this book into the Inquisitorial ideology and provides a wealth of ideas for adventure design.
The second chapter is, by necessity, the rules-heavy section. IT deals with alternate career paths, skills and talents and the armoury (providing a host of new toys for your campaign). Overall, the quality of the Career Paths is high, and wargear section doesn’t contribute to an ‘arms race’ mentality which is rife in the 40K tabletop game, so this is a nice divergence for the tabletop RPG to take.
The penultimate chapter deals with the establishment of the Lathe Worlds, the power groups and planets. The planets in particular are given a lot of attention, and fleshed out quite well. The challenge in approaching a subject like mapping an entire system of planets is to balance the amount of detail. FFG handles this very well, providing enough information to spark the imagination and give a unique feel for each locale, but not so much that the reader becomes bored with the level of detail.

Lastly is ‘The Light of Reason’ an adventure which utilises the information and ideology of the book very well. It shows, in practical terms, how tech-heresy and the Doctrines of the Mechanicus are interpreted and what occurs when these teachings are blatantly ignored. Obviously, to get the best out of this adventure (and the book as a whole) you’ll need a Tech Priest in your party, but I can see this book of use to those who have yet to succumb to the lure of the Omnissiah too.


Overall, it is a fine work, capped off by a module which is thoughtfully written and offers a great experience at the table. I would have liked to see an Index included in this book, especially given the new content, but the information is generally well-laid-out, so FFG can be excused for this. The artwork continues to impress, with enough smatterings of established artists to aesthetically link the book back to the wargaming supplements. Whilst Mechanicus characters appear in a few Black Library books (such as the Shira Calpurnia novels) and audio dramas (most notably ‘Red and Black’), they do require a book like this to give them more defined substance. Given that Games Workshop is releasing Chaos equivalents of the Tech Marine for the new Codex, there is scope for this book to be used to develop adversaries as well.


I can see this becoming part of my ‘essentials’ for Dark Heresy and it is proof that sometimes the inner workings of the Imperium are far more strange and compelling than that which lurks on its edges.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy: The Lathe Worlds
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Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/03/2012 20:11:39

In some ways, this is the strongest game in the W40KRP series - as it captures the exploration motif well enough for players to forget what an oppressive universe they are travelling in. The system is developed somewhat on from Dark Heresy in the character generation, while the shift in emphasis allows the inclusion of different alien adversaries and space ship rules. The presentation is as strong as usual, and notably this file seems to cope better with iPad tablets and the like. The setting has aspects most reminiscent of Dune, bred in with Moorecock, but the game play is generally more action orientated. The limited number of character types available still makes the stories seem a little restrictive to me though.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook
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