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Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by Marius F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00

If you are new to the Warhammer 40K this book in it's current state gives you a limited view of the setting. All the setting stuff is taken out, but there is a lot of fluff text in the system sections that teaches you something about the setting. From this limited view I like the setting.


This book is mostly about the rules. The rules are presented in a dare I say American way, that is it is super verbose. It spends a lot of pages explaining the rules. Having example for a lot of the rules taking up even more lines, some of the examples have flaws in the math making them more confusing then helpful, but I guess that will be fixed in the final version.


The system hold promise, but I'm disappointed with the amount of choices. I made six characters in order to run the scenario in the back of the book, and I really felt that it was difficult to make all six unique. Some of them ended up a bit too similar for my taste. This might be that the character creation process leaves very little room for customization. You get only a small amount of points to spend as you want.


The system really need more equipment options for all categories, en especially for non-weapons. In addition it needs more elite advantages. The three that are in the book is way to few.


One final note I like the system for influence and subtelty, but I'm very sceptical of the economy system. In all my campaigns as player and gm money has been a important factor. Getting enough of them to afford to get or do something. In this system all you need to do is roll the aquisition dice. And I wonder how the players will feel about it. Is it going to be that they all want the best aquisition character to get them stuff, or will all of them try to get some knowledge of it?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
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Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by samuel a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/15/2013 12:25:33

It was fun and easy to use, though there are still some bugs in this system I look forward to the final version



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2013 05:53:12

Ein Geständ­nis vor­weg: Legend of the Five Rings ist für mich mehr als nur irgend­ein Rol­len­spiel. In den letz­ten acht Jah­ren habe ich an der Seite von tap­fe­ren Samu­rai und Shu­genja dut­zende Aben­teuer im fan­tas­ti­schen Land Roku­gan ver­bracht. Gemein­sam haben wir den Auf­stieg und Fall von Fürs­ten und Kai­sern mit­er­lebt, Intri­gen auf­ge­deckt und am Kaiu-Wall gegen die Hor­den der Schat­ten­lande gekämpft. Des­halb erwar­tete ich beson­ders gespannt (und kri­tisch) das neu­este Rollenspiel-Produkt der Alderac Enter­tain­ment Group. Aber was sollte der Titel Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 bedeu­ten? Ein gan­zes Buch füll­ten die neu­es­ten Ereig­nisse roku­ga­ni­scher Geschichte seit dem ers­ten Impe­rial His­to­ries nun wirk­lich nicht und die Nach­wir­kun­gen des Des­troyer War wur­den bereits im Second City Boxed Set abge­han­delt. Die Ant­wort lau­tet ein­fach wie genial: Alter­na­tive Settings.


Erschei­nungs­bild


L5R Imperial Histories II CoverLegend of the Five Rings: Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 kommt gewohnt im Look der vier­ten Edi­tion des Rol­len­spiels daher: Hard­co­ver, dun­kel­grauer Ein­band, des­sen Cover eine roku­ga­ni­sche Schrift­rolle ziert, die den pseudo-asiatischen Flair des Set­tings stil­si­cher ein­fängt. Denn pas­sen­der­weise wer­den in Roku­gan geschicht­li­che Ereig­nisse auf eben sol­chen Schrift­rol­len festgehalten.


Auch im Inne­ren ist das Buch eine Augen­weide, vol­ler Zeich­nun­gen in Farbe. Kaum eine Seite ver­geht, ohne dass ein Art­work den Text­fluss auf­lo­ckert. Dazu beginnt jedes der drei­zehn Kapi­tel mit einem ganz­sei­ti­gen Ein­lei­tungs­bild – mal mehr, mal weni­ger pas­send zum Inhalt. Info­käs­ten bie­ten wei­ter­füh­rende Infor­ma­tio­nen und ein soli­der Index sorgt für die schnelle Ori­en­tie­rung. Dass im Buch teil­weise alte Legend of the Five Rings–Bil­der ganz oder in Aus­schnit­ten wie­der­ver­wen­det wer­den, ist nicht wei­ter tra­gisch und fällt nur einem Ken­ner der Rol­len­spiel­se­rie auf. Äußer­lich wird für den stol­zen Preis von fast vier­zig Euro, wie von Alderac Enter­tain­ment gewohnt, ein soli­des Hard­co­ver­buch gebo­ten, das sich gut in jedem Samm­ler­re­gal macht.


Die har­ten Fakten:


Ver­lag: Alderac Enter­tain­ment Group
Autor(en): Kevin Blake, Marie Brennan, Daniel Bris­coe, Shawn Car­man, Rovert Den­ton, Robert Hobart, Kim Hos­mer, Maxime Lemaire, Seth Mason, Eric Menge, Ryan Reese, Jason Shafer und Alex­andre Simard
Erschei­nungs­jahr: 2013
Spra­che: Eng­lisch
For­mat: Hard­co­ver
Sei­ten­an­zahl: 310
ISBN: 9781594720673
Preis: 33,95 EUR bis 38,95 EUR
Bezugs­quelle: Ama­zon (Klick), Sphä­ren­meis­ters Spiele (Klick)


Inhalt — His­to­ri­sche Rückblenden


Emerald Throne
Legend of the Five Rings ist ein Set­ting, das sich wei­ter­ent­wi­ckelt. Beein­flusst vom gleich­na­mi­gen Kar­ten­spiel ver­än­dern die jähr­li­chen offi­zi­el­len Kam­pa­gnen gesell­schaft­li­che und teil­weise mys­ti­sche Details der Welt Roku­gan. Dabei begann das Rol­len­spiel mit der ers­ten Edi­tion nicht im Jahre Null, dem Fall der Kami, son­dern etwa tau­send Jahre spä­ter am Ende der Herr­schaft der Hantei-Kaiser. Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 setzt genau da ein und bie­tet mehr als ‚nur‘ einen his­to­ri­schen Rück­blick für Spiel­lei­ter: Es lässt Spie­ler prä­gende Epo­chen aus der Geschichte selbst erleben.


Wäh­rend das erste Impe­rial His­to­ries sich aber auf aus ande­ren Publi­ka­tio­nen wohl­be­kannte Zeit­epo­chen wie etwa die Klankriege oder die Herr­schaft der Gozoku beschränkte, beleuch­tet Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 die weni­ger bekannte Ver­gan­gen­heit roku­ga­ni­scher Geschichte. So etwa die zwei­hun­dert Jahre wäh­rende Herr­schaft des zwei­ten Han­tei Kai­sers zu einer Zeit, als das Hof­le­ben in star­kem Kon­trast zu den noch wil­den Tra­di­tio­nen der jun­gen Klans stand. Oder aber die grau­same Ter­ror­herr­schaft von Han­tei XVI, des­sen Para­noia tau­sende unschul­dige Roku­gani das Leben kos­tete. Beide Epi­so­den der Geschichte wur­den von den Fans nach dem ers­ten Band stark nach­ge­fragt und nun für Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 voll­stän­dig ausgestaltet.


Der in den ein­zel­nen Kapi­teln ent­hal­tene kurze Über­blick über die hin­füh­ren­den his­to­ri­schen Ereig­nisse ist aus­rei­chend und doch so knapp gehal­ten, dass Spiel­run­den genug Frei­raum für eigene Kam­pa­gnen haben. Das Buch geht beson­ders auf Unklar­hei­ten der kano­ni­schen Geschichts­schrei­bung Roku­gans und dadurch ent­ste­hende Optio­nen ein, über­lässt die letzte Ent­schei­dung über die tat­säch­li­che Wahr­heit der Ereig­nisse jedoch dem Spiel­lei­ter. Das mag für Leser, die einen strik­ten Hin­ter­grund mögen, unbe­frie­di­gend sein, gibt ande­rer­seits aber die ein­zig­ar­tige Mög­lich­keit Details an den Ver­lauf einer Gegenwarts-Kampagne anzu­pas­sen. Wie bei jedem Aus­flug in die Ver­gan­gen­heit eines beste­hen­den Set­tings sto­ßen Spiel­lei­ter aber schnell auf Pro­bleme, wenn Spie­ler ver­su­chen die gro­ßen kano­ni­schen Ereig­nisse zu ver­än­dern. Hier ist gerade bei mäch­ti­ge­ren Cha­rak­te­ren Fin­ger­spit­zen­ge­fühl gefragt.


Alter­na­tive Rokugans


Die his­to­ri­schen Rück­blen­den machen aber nur sie­ben der drei­zehn Kapi­tel von Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 aus. Der Rest ist eine Samm­lung von alter­na­ti­ven „Was wäre wenn“-Szenarien, die in der Ver­gan­gen­heit (und Zukunft) von Roku­gan spie­len. Dies wurde bereits im Vor­gän­ger­buch Impe­rial His­to­ries mit dem Kapi­tel The Thousand Years of Dar­k­ness vor­ge­dacht, ist hier aber deut­lich umfang­rei­cher gestal­tet. Die ein­zel­nen Sze­na­rien sind genauso detail­liert beschrie­ben, wie die his­to­ri­schen Epo­chen, samt Hin­wei­sen für Spiel­lei­ter und einer Über­sicht der zu die­ser Zeit akti­ven Klans.


Beson­ders inter­es­sant sind diese alter­na­ti­ven Ver­sio­nen Roku­gans des­halb, wenn sie mehr als nur poli­ti­sche oder his­to­ri­sche Gege­ben­hei­ten, näm­lich das Grund­ge­fühl des Rol­len­spiels selbst ver­än­dern. Spiel­lei­ter müs­sen zwar noch etwas Arbeit in die Aus­ge­stal­tung einer Kam­pa­gne ste­cken, erhal­ten aber in jedem Kapi­tel einen Über­blick über Mecha­ni­ken, wich­tige Cha­rak­tere, Ant­ago­nis­ten, Zau­ber und Kampf­schu­len für den neuen Hin­ter­grund. Der eigent­li­che Clou ist jedoch: Viele alter­na­tive Set­tings ent­stam­men nicht der Feder der Alderac Enter­tain­ment–Schrei­ber, son­dern Ein­sen­dun­gen von Spie­lern des Rol­len­spiels. Qua­li­ta­tiv merkt man aber kei­nen Unter­schied; offen­bar hat hier das Design­team selbst mit– und nachgeholfen.


Fan­tasy Rokugan


Gleich das erste Kapi­tel, The Toga­shi Dynas­tie, ist das durch­dach­teste alter­na­tive Set­ting und stößt dabei einen der Grund­pfei­ler von Legend of the Five Rings um: Nicht Kami Han­tei, son­dern sein Bru­der Toga­shi wird in die­sem alter­na­ti­ven Roku­gan als Sie­ger des Tur­niers der Kami gekürt und der Dra­chen­klan damit zum ers­ten Kai­ser­haus. Das Ergeb­nis ist ein deut­lich fan­tas­ti­sche­res Roku­gan, in wel­chem die über­na­tür­li­chen Völ­ker wie Kenku, Naga oder Nezumi Seite an Seite mit den Men­schen leben. Han­tei ist hier Grün­der des Eulen­klans, der sich um die Belange der „Frem­den“ küm­mert, wäh­rend Kai­ser Toga­shi tat­säch­lich unsterb­lich die Jahr­hun­derte über­dau­ert und das Mönchs­we­sen fördert.


Rea­lis­ti­sches Rokugan


Den ent­ge­gen­ge­setz­ten Weg geht das Kapi­tel The Shat­te­red Empire. Hier endet die Hantei-Dynastie mit dem Tod der zwei­ten Cham­pi­ons des Don­ners, ohne dass Toturi den Thron ergreift. Folge und Set­ting sind ein Roku­gan im Klankrieg um den Kai­ser­ti­tel, das Spie­lern ent­ge­gen­kom­men dürfte, die gerne ein rea­lis­ti­sche­res Roku­gan hät­ten, das der japa­ni­schen Sengoku-Jidai Epo­che ähnelt. Der Hin­ter­grund nimmt hier einen deut­lich düs­te­re­ren Ton an und ist gut für Mili­tär­kam­pa­gnen geeignet.


Steam­punk Rokugan


Das Kapi­tel Iron Roku­gan ver­mischt das asia­ti­sche Set­ting mit west­li­chen Ele­men­ten. Nach dem Angriff der Gai­jin über­nimmt Roku­gan einen Groß­teil ihrer Tech­no­lo­gie. Flin­ten­schloss­pis­to­len und Eisen­bah­nen erge­ben in Ver­bin­dung mit Samu­rai und Kai­ser­hof einen Hin­ter­grund, der Spie­lern viel zumu­tet, aber ein­fach Spaß macht – vor allem, wenn die Kami sich unzu­frie­den mit den neuen Wegen des Rei­ches zei­gen und die Bau­ern die Kas­ten­ge­sell­schaft in Frage stel­len. Damit erin­nert das Set­ting in mehr als nur einer Hin­sicht an die Meiji-Restauration des spä­ten 19. Jahr­hun­derts. Ein Über­blick über mög­li­che Feu­er­waf­fen und eine Abhand­lung über tech­no­lo­gi­sche Aus­wir­kun­gen auf die Gesell­schaft der Samu­rai wer­den mitgeliefert.


Roku­gan im Weltraum?


Etwas alleine steht das letzte Kapi­tel und gewag­teste alter­na­tive Roku­gan von Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 da: The Eme­rald Stars. Tat­säch­lich han­delt es sich um eine in die ferne Zukunft wei­ter­ge­dachte Welt­raum­oper mit Sied­lungs­pla­ne­ten der ein­zel­nen Klans und Raum­schif­fen der Katana-Klasse. Hier hilft auch nicht der Hin­weis auf ein „radi­ka­les Expe­ri­ment“, denn so ganz will Zukunfts-L5R nicht funk­tio­nie­ren. Die gege­bene Hin­ter­grund­ge­schichte ist zu knapp, um den Auf­bruch in den Welt­raum zu erklä­ren und das über­tra­gene Kas­ten­sys­tem samt nach­träg­lich erober­tem Hei­mat­pla­ne­ten eher unglaub­wür­dig. Dazu schaf­fen es Beschrei­bung und Art­work nicht, ein Gefühl für das befremd­li­che Set­ting auf­zu­bauen. Bei den Regeln fehlt mit nur vier moder­nen Waf­fen und einer Hand­voll neuer Skills zu viel um Roku­gan im Welt­raum ohne viel Zusatz­ar­beit spiel­bar zu machen. Wer die Idee von Kat­a­n­a­kämp­fen auf den Mon­den fer­ner Pla­ne­ten den­noch inter­es­sant fin­det, hat immer­hin einen Aus­gangs­punkt um das Set­ting aus­zu­ge­stal­ten; alle ande­ren kön­nen das Kapi­tel getrost auslassen.


Fazit


Zuge­ge­ben, zu Beginn war ich kri­tisch, da Impe­rial His­to­ries 2 noch einen Schritt wei­ter geht, als der his­to­risch aus­ge­rich­tete Vor­gän­ger­band. Aber die lie­be­voll gestal­te­ten, alter­na­ti­ven Set­tings haben mich über­zeugt und als Ken­ner der roku­ga­ni­schen Geschichte über man­che iro­ni­sche Anspie­lung schmun­zeln las­sen. Für Aben­teuer jen­seits einer regu­lä­ren L5R-Kampagne sind alle Set­tings gut geeig­net und las­sen Zeit­pa­ra­doxa beim Spiel in der kano­ni­schen Ver­gan­gen­heit gar nicht erst aufkommen.


Für Spiel­lei­ter wie mich, die das Buch als Ide­en­fund­grube nut­zen, gibt es genug Ele­mente, die sich auch in lau­fende Kam­pa­gnen ein­bauen las­sen – etwa der eigen­wil­lige Eulen­klan oder alter­na­tive Cha­rak­ter­pfade. Das Weltraum-Setting des letz­ten Kapi­tels muss ja nicht jedem gefal­len, aber der Schritt, auch unge­wöhn­li­che Expe­ri­mente zu wagen, ist immer­hin mutig. Dazu finde ich Alderac Enter­tain­ments Methode gut, qua­li­ta­tiv hoch­wer­tige Ein­sen­dun­gen im Buch zu ver­wen­den – so sieht 2013 Fan­ser­vice aus!


Nur für Ein­stei­ger ist das Buch eher nicht geeig­net – man braucht schon eini­ges Wis­sen zum Sta­tus Quo in Legend oft the Five Rings, um damit als Spiel­lei­ter arbei­ten zu können.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Imperial Histories 2
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Naishou Province - 2013 GENCON RPG
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2013 11:02:06

Beautifully presented and with a wealth of detail this is much more than an adventure - it is a complete and detailed account of Naishou Province that provides scope for your own adventures, as well as containing plenty of material to get you started.


Starting with a map - beautiful brush-style - and a short piece of fiction, the Introduction explains what you have got hold of: basically a complete setting in which to run your adventures. Naishou Province is a single unaligned province of the Empire with plenty of scope for you and your players to stamp their own mark upon it. The history of the province is outlined - naturally it is right now a bit up in the air as it under temporary direct control of the Imperial family, but it has a long history rich in culture and strife. It is a prosperous area, somewhere - purposely not well-defined - outside areas under the direct control of the Great Clans and somewhat isolated by its geography, but its potential means that it has been squabbled over for generations.


After a brief word on a new fighting group - elite spearmen in the service of the Lion clan - and the characteristics of Naishou citizens, the next chapter is a detailed introduction to the main city of the province, Toshi no Naishou. It is the political and economic capital as well as the largest settlement by far, nestled beside a river. It is divided, in a somewhat haphazard manner, into different districts clustered around the Governor's palace. There's a samurai quarter, a merchant district and one for the heimin population - craftsmen, fisherfolk, farmers and the like. The eta live on the far side of the river in the main, an area regarded as inauspicious. Locals are surprisingly assiduous record-keepers and have a strong sense of their own history and ancestry. They are also very pious.


Important locations are listed, with stories and rumours to bring them to life. This portion reads like a good travel guide and quite makes you want to pay a visit. Then notable locals are listed, to serve as background figures or indeed to be woven into your stories. They include members of nearly all the Great Clans, jockeying for position. Fans of intrigue-based games should find plenty of interest here.


The next chapter looks at the settlements of Naishou Province. There are many fascinating towns and villages well worth a visit, often just for cultural delights even if the party's business does not take them there. For each there are notes on the appearance, culture, notables and whatever might be going on there... you will find plenty of material to help them spring into life. This section includes monasteries, ronin encampments and other locations as well as actual townships.


This is followed by a chapter on the geography of the Province. It's quite a diverse area and, as always, the landscape has shaped both peoples and events. The central fertile river valley is bounded by mountains on two sides, with a swamp to the northwest and forests to south and east. Several options are presented for what precisely is to be found in the forests, giving you plenty of leeway to set things up the way you wish. Within the valley, most travel is by river and there is a single main road. The swamp contains some ancient ruins, hinting at earlier inhabitation than even the citizens' meticulous records show. Finally, local wildlife is also discussed.


The final section, A Plague of Crimes, provides a starting adventure based around a cluster of ten small villages in the eastern part of the Province near a large and renowned monastery. There's been a bit of a crime wave, and the first couple of samurai who investigated met their deaths here. The default suggestion is that the Governor directs the party to take over the investigation, but you may have other ways of getting the characters involved, or may prefer one of the other suggestions given here. Once there, the party has a wealth of clues to investigate and many locations to visit as they do so. Discrete events are scattered throughout, but the investigation itself is quite freeform, allowing the characters to wander as they will, interacting with those that they meet. Once the characters find out what is behind the crimewave, they'll find others taking an interest in them and it all has the potential to turn quite nasty, whilst there are also options for you to force the action if they prove slow to grasp what is going on. A satisfactory brawl should result.


Pre-generated characters are provided for those who want to jump straight into the action. They are well detailed with plenty of background information as well as their stat blocks, but presentation is such that they will need to be transcribed onto character sheets - they're not laid out in such a way that you can hand out pages from this product to different players.


The whole thing is a delight to look at, with apposite and atmospheric art, as well as a joy to read, the places and people seeming to leap off the page into the alternate reality of your game world. Think I'll grab my swords and go visit!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Naishou Province - 2013 GENCON RPG
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The Book of Fire
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/24/2013 21:11:33

The Book of Fire is perhaps one of the most sought after of the Element Books as it focuses on the Element most related to doing damage (though the book goes on to show that there’s more to fire than just burning and destruction.) As with the previous books, the Book of Fire is divided into several chapters that focuses on different facets of Rokugan as seen through the lens of the Element of fire. These facets are: War, Magic, Peace, Enlightenment and the Setting. The book is capped off with new Mechanics, as well as a mini-setting that could be used to run a campaign.


Kenjustu gets top billing in the Book of Fire’s section on War, and as a GM, I’m grateful for the amount of detail spent on expanding the culture of Kenjutsu in the setting, with the kind of intimate detail in the other Element books. Each Clan’s philosophy and approach to Kenjutsu is detailed with enough information to lend even more “realism” to how GMs can portray them in-game, which I personally find to be priceless when running a game so focused on a culture as different and unique as Rokugan.


Of course, there’s also the Martial Art of fire, Hitsu-Do, which focuses on a very offensive stance, with little focus on defensive methods. Again this is an Art open to all the Clans, though not all the Clans use it. The Crane Clan in particular tend to not care about it, but certain individuals might find it appropriate for themselves.


The Chapter on Magic focuses on the nature of the Fire Kami, and the schools of the Clans that have a close affinity to the Element. My favorie section here is a little portion that talks about the Notable uses of Creative Fire Spells, a section that is of much use to any Shugenja player.


The Fires of Peace is incredibly informative to me, as a Courtier fan. This takes the concept of Fire as Illumination, and focuses on the Phoenix and Lion Clan’s love of knowledge as a source of wisdom. I find it very important to have this chapter as many players often find the librarian / lorekeeper concept to be particularly boring.


The Book of Fire also contains some very interesting gems on Glassmaking, Poetry, Swordmaking (and the notes on the Celestial Swords and Bloodswords!) The final chapter, the Hundred STances Dogo, presents a unique setting where Kenjutsu is a big focus, lending itself well to games involving a lot of Bushi, though Courtiers and Shugenja can also find a lot to do given the Dojo’s political worth and how various schools find their way to it.


Among the new mechanics involved in the book are a few new paths for various clans, and mechanics fo the Taryu-Jiai, duelling between Shugenja. These resemble Iaijutsu Duels but are pretty spectacular displays of elemental magics that can make for an interesting climax of a session where Shugenja characters are at odds.


The Book of Fire is a remarkable addition to an already phenomenal line. The Elemental Books are a valuable addition to any L5R Collection, expanding the setting with the kind of detail that makes Rokugan unique while making it accessible to those who aren’t entirely familiar with the nuances of the setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Fire
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Character Travelogue: Lion
by Reilly R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2013 02:36:25

The scans were very poor in some parts, mainly the page being shifted down from where it should be. I have an original copy of the crab travelogue and I'll be using that, after I take it apart, to make some copies. The cover of this will be useful (to have lion as well as crab) and it will be a good reference for page ordering. For $0.75, I can't really complain.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Character Travelogue: Lion
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Player's Guide
by Curtis N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2013 13:14:25

High quality, searchable, informative. This is a great resource for all Warhammer 3e players. For the player, this and some dice are all you need to get started. GM will probably want to add the Game Master Guide which also includes a short adventure.


Optional components, cards, and sheets can be obtained with the different "Vault" boxes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Player's Guide
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Anima: Prometheum Exxet - The Supernatural Artifacts
by Seth M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2013 19:53:10

The product is excellent, the artifact system and general rules work and work well. Overall I'd say this is an excellent Anima product and shows just how good the system can be when compared to DnD or pathfinder.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Anima:  Prometheum Exxet - The Supernatural Artifacts
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Terror in Talabheim
by antonio s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/07/2013 16:43:32

Very fun to GM, but the players are finding it a bit frustrating I think, as their characters get a bit ill. Still, only 4 sessions in and they seem to be getting the upper hand... ish!


It's WFRP, it's grim and perilous and deadly, and it's better than any generic dungeon bash.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Terror in Talabheim
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by John F. O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2013 07:07:50

I got exposed to the Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) setting via the collectible card game (CCG), of which I was a casual player. I liked the setting of the CCG enough that I bought a PDF copy of the RPG core book when it was on sale. This massive 405-page tome is a breathtaking piece of work, and I’m very happy with my purchase.


For the uninitiated, the L5R RPG is set in Rokugan, a fantasy setting based in medieval Japan. Players portray samurai, which are akin to medieval knights, a class of nobles who serve their local lord through strength of arms. A "knight" (called "bushi" in this setting) is not the only type of character you can play, though: thankfully you can also be a courtier (politician/negotiator/diplomat), or a shugenja (priest/mystic). Of course, no Japanese RPG would be complete without the ninja as playable character, and there is also an option to play oriental monks.


The book is divided into chapters named after the aforementioned five rings: The Book of Air (setting material), Book of Earth (RPG mechanics), Book of Fire (character creation), Book of Water (advanced mechanics), and Book of Void (game master's chapter). I find this style is unique and very setting-appropriate, although I ran into some confusion when the chapters were referred to this way inside the book since I know that the titles of some of this game’s supplements are also titled as such.


The cover is very dark but is appropriate for the mood of the game: grim and foreboding. Life of a samurai is not easy – not only will he have to deal with “wandering monsters”, he will also need to act honorably and with courtesy. Indeed, as the tag line at the back of the book says, “Honor and service are valued more than magic swords taken from wandering ogres.”


A map of Rokugan is included in the inside cover of the book. The write ups for the locations are found in the last chapter of the book and it can be a bit annoying flipping through that chapter and the inside covers as you read the entries, most especially in this format. I would have also preferred to have the names of the locations on the map instead of just the key codes in their places.


Next, the table of contents is hyperlinked, and the introduction has a sidebar for owners of the previous edition.


The first chapter, the Book of Air, deals with the setting material. There is an in-depth history of Rokugan from its beginning up to the present timeline. Fans of the CCG will no doubt be familiar with this but for us casual players and newbies to this RPG this is heaven-sent. It does a great job of bringing anyone up to speed with the setting. Geography, culture and society are discussed next and I find that they are sufficient to bring you to the proper mindset when playing in this game. There is a discussion of the tenets of bushido, and some notes on everyday rituals. Most importantly, the overview of each of the major clans is here.


A thing that can be bothersome is the lack of glossary in this chapter. In a setting such as this where there are a lot of Japanese words used, you would think the writers would put in a glossary of terns but they leave it up to the readers to look up all those words in a Japanese dictionary or the Internet.


The Book of Earth is all about game mechanics. This chapter introduces the Roll and Keep dice system that is used in this RPG. Basically, tasks are accomplished by rolling a number of ten-sided dice based on a character trait against target number. A “10” lets you roll that die again and add the results. This mechanic is one of my main cons in this game as this style can be clunky and mathy during play, as the act of mentally adding up those numbers can be tedious especially during play where players can have more than a handful of dice to roll. One can see though that this system was designed with the setting in mind – the system allows your samurai to hold back, “pull his punches”, or intentionally fail, as failure might be the better course of action in a game where Honor is more important than winning a fight. The mechanics of combat (here called skirmishes), and most importantly, dueling, are discussed here.


The Book of Fire is all about character creation. Two styles are presented: a short style where you pick character your character’s stats, and expanded style involving answering questions about your character. If you are familiar with White Wolf’s storyteller games, the expanded style is very similar to the prelude. Casual players will find it easy to make characters while the expanded style option would be enjoyed by more serious roleplayers. The quick character creation involves just five steps: pick a clan (one among eight), pick a family (a minimum of four choices per clan), pick a school (minimum three options), customize your character (use 40 points to buy skill ranks, advantages and disadvantages), and lastly determined derived attributes (such as Honor, Glory, Status, and Insight ranks). There is a wealth of options to choose from, and although there are only basically 4 character types available (bushi which includes the ninja, shugenja, courtier, and monk), no two characters will ever be very much like another, even if coming from the same clan. An extensive list of spells for the shugenja is included, each ring with up to level 6 spells. Lastly, there is an equipment list at the end of the chapter arranged to be very helpful in creating new characters very quickly.


The Book of Water deals with advanced mechanics. For those who find the extensive character customization options in the previous chapter still lacking, there are more options here such as additional clans (Spider and 13 minor clans), families (including Imperial families), advanced schools for each clans, more options for monks (additional schools and spell-like abilities called kiho), and katas (fighting postures that grant bonuses). This chapter also includes mass battle rules that allow for individual actions during combat, the dreaded maho (blood magic) spells, and rules for ancestors. Whew!


Last but not the least, the Book of Void contains the GM information. Extensive advice for new GMs is included, containing tips on how to run this and any other RPG. Various styles of running games are presented, as well as advice on how to build your own adventures. There is even a sample adventure included, which showcase the breath of the system and serves as a reminder of the customs and rituals of Rokugan. Stats for typical monsters, rules for poison, the already mentioned location guide, suggested references and an extensive index round up the rest of the book (although this last one should have been hyperlinked for ease of reference).


All these aside, what ultimately made me give this RPG a five star rating is that it is complete: you don’t need any other book to run the game. It has its own extensive setting material, complete set of rules, expert rules, beginner GM advice, a variety of monsters, an introductory adventure and a blank character record sheet. Who could ask for more?


Fans of medieval fantasy Japanese will love it (although purists might be bothered by some details, like equality of women and existence of lions in the setting). Fans of the CCG will also be thrilled with the translation of their beloved game into this wonderful RPG. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Realms of Sorcery
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/09/2013 18:08:16

One of the biggest changes between the first and second editions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was the magic system. Driven mostly by changes in the background of the miniatures wargame in between the two editions, the second edition ditched first edition's system of leveled spells and magic points for the new system of color magic. Most of the basics are covered in the main rulebook, of course, but Realms of Sorcery fleshes that out in nearly every direction.


I'll come back to that "nearly."


As you might expect, there's a lot of fluff in the first half of the book. There's a history of magic usage in the Empire up to the point of the Great War Against Chaos, which I can easily summarize as "BURN THE WITCH! Priest are okay though." During the war, Emperor Magnus the Pious sent for aid to Ulthuan, and the High Elves sent three archmages, which was all they could spare at the time. Those archmages went on to help win the war by teaching humans how to safely become wizards, but unlike elves, humans can only use one color at a time safely. Hence the eight orders.


There's a bunch of exposition about the orders as well, with some neat tidbits. Members of the Amber Order don't have a college in Altdorf like the others, instead lairing in the hills outside the city walls. Members of the Grey Order take strong vows never to use their magic for venal financial gain, precisely because it would be so easy for them to do so. The colleges themselves are well-described, too, in a way that lessens their impact on the landscape of Altdorf. I've read that a lot of people don't really like the Colleges of Magic, because they feel like their overtly high fantasy feel damages the presentation of the Warhammer world. I can see that, but there are some colleges that I think actually make things even more mysterious. Like the Azure College, which is a huge building with plenty of high towers to see the stars, but which is never actually visible due to the workings of fate--anyone who looks at it will get bumped into, or trip, or laundry will blow in front of it, or the person will think of something else they have to do, and so on. The Bright College is in the middle of a burned-out stretch of ruins that Altdorfers refuse to move back into, and the Amethyst College appears as a building that's been deserted for decades unless you actually have legitimate business there, in which case you'll probably turn a corner and meet a magister. Or the aforementioned Amber College, in a series of caves. I think it gives the proper mysterious touch to magic that first edition didn't really have.


Then there are the mechanics sections, which I think are really valuable. One of the problems with the spell list system for color magic as of the main book is that because a wizard gets all the spells they would ever learn immediately on taking the Arcane Magic Talent, the whole idea of knowledge-seeking wizards pouring through ancient tomes of arcane lore is restricted to rituals, and the example rituals given in the corebook leave basically no reason why anyone would actually want to cast them based on how difficult they are to use. Honestly, it's probably easier for a Bright Wizard to just set a town on fire than to gather all the materials to use The Awakening of the Slumbering Earth Dragon. The addition of ten extra spells, a choice of multiple lists (each of which only has ten spells), and the Extra Spell Talent to learn the other spells provides both an XP sink for wizards and a reason to seek out knowledge.


There's also a section on witches and witch-hunters, which is short but does a good job.


Finally, there are parts about alchemy, wizards' familiars, and magical items. The alchemy chapter has a very Warhammery (if I can use that word) take on alchemy; potions, being made of perishable ingredients, have a shelf life and can go bad in all sorts of hilarious ways. Familiars provide bonuses for the wizards who use them, but there's a great table of personality descriptions of the familiars to provide some character to them, including options like "Passive-Aggressive," "Know-It-All," and "Raving Mad." There's options for constructed familiars as well as natural animals, so creepy wizards can have their homunculi. The magic items is mostly just a list--in keeping with their rarity, there's no standard rules for making them--but it's nice to have options.


Now, the problems. One of the major problems I had with Realms of Sorcery is its breadth. It's pretty much entirely focused on Imperial magic, and not only that, on modern Imperial magic. I find it really bizarre that there were never any successful wizards in the 2300 years prior to Magnus the Pious, and kind of sad that the other traditions from first edition, like druids or elementalists, weren't included. It does make a nod to druids in the backstory of the Jade Order, and I suppose that the various colors of magic replicate the feel of elementalism--Bright is fire, Azure is Air, Jade is Earth--but it does hammer down the type of acceptable characters to a very defined set. Especially since Tilea, Bretonnia, Estalia, and Kislev exist and presumably have their own type of wizards, but they aren't defined. Kislev does get a breakdown of its magic in Realm of the Ice Queen, but none of the others ever did. It's a persistent problem with the WFRP stuff being so Empire-centric.


The other problem is elves. The book implies that elves should have mechanical differences in the way they interact with magic, but there's no hint on how to handle that. Despite elves being able to use multiple colors without the apparent certainty of harm (or at least, of going crazy and turning evil) that humans have, they apparently still only have the same Apprentice Wizard career that humans do. Unlike Tileans and Estalians, elf wizards had a direct and obvious effect on the magical development of the Empire, and the complete lack of mechanical support for that was pretty disappointing to me.


Other than those points, it's a great sourcebook, and I think it'd be highly valuable for background and antagonist info even in a game with no PC wizards.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Realms of Sorcery
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Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by Daniel M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/09/2013 12:42:25

Very excited to start playing this soon. Love the changes to character creation, talents, skills, just about everything. And FFG is being very inclusive and thoughtful about the Beta process which gives me high hopes for the finished product. This new edition addresses a lot of issues I had with 1st ed, specifically that the power creep had gotten to a point where 1st rank characters felt too strong. I like Dark Heresy to be about investigation with combat being either a climax or a result of poor planning on the PC's part. 2nd edition looks like it tones back on that power scale while still allowing room to become very powerful in later ranks.


On a quality note: excellent product; high quality, very crisp and readable at any zoom level. Thoroughly bookmarked, searchable, and easy to navigate; loads quickly on my machine.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
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Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/05/2013 14:36:21

Good quality color scan, searchable and functional pdf. Much better than previous version of this book. This 3rd edition system works well but can sometimes get bogged down in details. 4th edition really runs smoother, but this still a quality product by AEG and L5R is a great running game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: 3rd Edition Revised
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Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by Alexander M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2013 16:27:13

pros:



  • reorganization of skills, looks streamlined. No stat looks ignorable for any character class. intrigued to see how it plays out.

  • drastic re-org of talents, much easier discovery of short/long term goals, flexible dependencies instead of "you must be a militant 5... or a pilot 1... or a AD INFINITUM"

  • new character creation process. no artificial class boundaries, easier expression of character concept. Like dnd-next, you get a lightweight layering "origin/background/class" and then buy a few tweaks with starting XP.

  • best darn "adventure at the back of the book" I've ever seen -- instead of your usual plot-rails, it's a template where you tune each faction's heresy-quotent, and then let the faction heads persue their goals and react to PCs. And even a "loyal" faction has an interesting effect on the scenario, as disastrous plans can spring from good intentions.

  • combat rounds have replaced "full/half/react/free" with an action point system, akin to XCOM, that might possibly be excellent... I've cautious optimism about how it'll play out.

  • psi is mostly rogue-trader style power rolls, except fettered/push is a continuous gradient now, and powers are organized into trees like the talents chapter.

  • counting degrees of success/fail has had the math streamlined, which looks like it'll help a bit -- but we've been using fading sun's even faster success metric anyway.

  • damage is more gritty: gone are the HP where you only start taking crits when you hit zero; any hit past the TB+armor of a named character is going to roll on the tables'o'pain for some flavor. As a FATE/narrative GM, this is a win at my table.
    (righteous fury no longer needs any to-hit or damage rolls, it's just automatically a HOLYCRsquish roll on the crit tables.)


cons:



  • vehicle rules are about 8 pages of clumsy looking mechanics; I'll toss half of them to make it an abstract system.


  • like rogue trader, finances are abstracted to availability and influence tests, plus a group's subtlety score for how alert the sector is to there actions-- I like thrones for in person shopping, and abstract for campaign altering stuff, but it's the subtlety thing that smells gamey. Instead, I'm following the spirit of the concept by having influence and subtlety be per faction.



  • character sheet doesn't take advantage of the concepts introduced, so I'm busy creating a refactor of the characteristic/skills sector over on my ashnazg.com/blag -- and mine won't have an page-wide inkwash! Common publishers, think of the poor printers you're killing for no reason!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
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Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta
by Sean P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/02/2013 14:02:53

This is tough to rate because perhaps it deserves to be rated all on it's own - but on the other hand, it's tough to rate it without the context from where it came from. Also tough to rate because I haven't actually played these Beta rules yet. But there doesn't appear to be any reviews here at this point, so I'll put down my thoughts.


Let's start with this, the WarHammer 40k setting is off the hook. It's dark, rich, grim, complicated, gritty & deadly - but that's been true for a long time and has little to do with this 2nd Edition Beta of the Core Rules.


Dark Heresy 2nd Edition Beta is a widely unexpected rewrite of the rules. Unexpected in it being released at all, since FFG had not released a 2nd Edition in the history of its WH40k RPG product line. Even more unexpected in that the changes are radical enough that the numerous Dark Heresy sourcebooks it sold to its customers the last five years are not mechanically backwards-compatible.


In doing so, FFG has taken a huge risk of alienating the significant fanbase. FFG books are beautiful, well done & a bit pricey. How would you like it if a publisher purposefully chose to make the last 8-10 books you bought from them to be mechanically out-of-date? Exactly. So that's the backstory, the context if you will...and you'll see a big flavorful dose of it on the FFG forums.


So...the 2nd Edition Beta in and of itself? IMO, it's got some intriguing ideas and a decent number of question marks. "Action Points" replace the Half/Full Action scheme and immediately stood out to me as probably offering players more control over their PC's actions in a combat round. Action Points committed to an attack are multiplied by the weapon's Rate of Fire to derive a new key metric called "Rate of Attack". The Degrees of Success/DoS (which is calculated differently in 2nd Edition) on the attack roll are the number of hits, up to the Rate of Attack. The target's DoS from its Evade roll ("Dodge" in v1) subtract from those hits. This is v2's combat core mechanic.


2nd Edition eliminates Hit Points and replaces it with a scheme where you track the # of times a character's been successfully hit. The large majority of the time, and significantly more than in v1, successful hits will result in "Wound Effects", that are much like v1's Critical Wound tables. Past successful attacks cumulatively make a new successful attack more dangerous on that Wound Effect table. The pro of this is more realistic effects from being wounded sooner, rather than a PC showing absolutely no effects from his 4 separate previous wounds and then suddenly being dead. The con is a concern, the way the Wound Effect tables work, that it's much (Much much?) harder to kill someone with the first shot.


There's a new vehicle section, that v1 lacked. The psyker section has vast changes from v1: psyker levels are now 1-10, manifestation test is d100 against Willpower now, no more Minor Powers and no more Phenomenon of the Warp table - straight to the customized Perils table for the Discipline of the power being used. Character generation is very different; they've added a tenth characteristic called "Influence" that's much like the section of the same name in the Dark Heresy Sourcebook Ascension. A new Acolyte group metric called "Subtlety" is introduced. Stats are calculated differently. There's changes everywhere, really.


It's a surprising complete rewrite but there is some intriguing stuff in there. Personally, I think it costs at least one star for not being backwards-compatible with previously published material - and I could see some good customers with a shelf full of books dinging it more than that. I haven't played it yet so I can't be sure it all actually works but, IMO, it looks pretty well done - so I don't see giving it 2 Stars. So that leaves 3 or 4 stars - I optimistically gave it 4 stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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