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Wicked Fantasy: Orks: Children of Pain
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/17/2012 21:45:08
John Wick knows Orks.

If you want to add some more color, life or some just "more" to your Orks/Orcs then this is the book to get.
These are not "misunderstood" orcs, these are orcs that got tired of the lot fate and the gods left them and they took matters into their own hands. We get a little history, a little bit of orc language and some orc shamanism. But the neatest part are the Orc tribes based on the heroes that took that monumental step.

John Wick is a fantastic writer and it is nice seeing him back on a subject he knows well and in truth helped redefine with Orkworld. I have no idea how much this work was influenced by the previous work, but all I can say is this one is worth the price.

I have had my own ideas for orcs, but this book has made want to change some them. It is that interesting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wicked Fantasy: Orks: Children of Pain
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Eldritch High: A Little Game about Wizards, Witches and Warlocks
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/14/2012 09:55:19
Eldritch High puts players into the roles of students at the Alexander Circe Academy for the Study of the Esoteric and Eldritch Arts - a four year high school that locates teens that have magical powers, shelters them, and aims to direct them on the proper path.

A ton of roleplaying potential is packed into this little 39-page RPG, which is played with a deck of standard playing cards for each player and the headmaster (GM).

Characters are created by answering questions about their background - Where are you from?, What do you look like?, What is your stereotype?, etc. - and then choosing their class schedule and electives. Players choose a class that their character is a Prodigy, select Gifts (Elven Blood, Teacher's Pet, etc.), and choose one of the five dorms for their character to take up residence. All of these items are filled out on a character sheet that resembles a class schedule form.

Each of these details grants them bonuses in potential Risks, those moments when a character attempts an action. A Risks involves pulling cards from the deck - one card for freshman, two for sophomores, and so on - plus any bonus cards from Gifts, Dorm, and so on. Drawing 10 or more value in cards allows the player to take narrative control of the story, and any unused cards can be saved for additional opportunities to add details to the story.

The game is formatted to model the high school experience - game sessions represent a week of a semester, players choose how much of their character's downtime is spent on studying, practicing, and goofing off - each with potential benefits for the character. An extensive Headmaster section that covers metaplots, dating (including brief rules for character romance), exploration, and more.

If all of this seems somewhat familiar, and you're wondering if this RPG could be stripped down and refitted to play in the world of a very popular series of fantasy school novels - the simple answer is yes. But the setting presented here is intriguing enough to encourage running it as is.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eldritch High: A Little Game about Wizards, Witches and Warlocks
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No Loyal Knight
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/04/2012 04:05:26
Those familiar with the writing of John Wick will know that once they start reading No Loyal Knight that two things will happen. The first will be that Wick's voice, this time adopting the hard-bitten tones of world-weary, spell-slinging PI Jefferson Carter, will slip deep inside your head, take a hit of your best whiskey without so much as a by-your-leave, and tell you tales of honor, revenge, and the sick, life-altering weight of regret that won't let you rest. The second thing...?

The second thing is that you will know you will read it again. Soon.

No Loyal Knight is a set of hard-boiled detective cases with a strong evocation of mood and motive, with as much left clear yet unsaid as ballsy and laid bare. Each tale moves along like a freight train on a downhill grade. In the magical world of Jefferson Carter, noir has never been quite so dark - nor quite so grimly amused.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
No Loyal Knight
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Wicked Fantasy: The Reign of Men
by David B. S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/01/2012 23:17:55
Having been a "GM" for over 20 years, I have a habit of always wanting to "house rule" rpg supplements. It doesn't matter if it's a module, a campaign, or a creature. I just can't help myself! And I love nothing more than getting my hands on a product that goes "against the grain", turning a classic rpg idea or trope on it's head.

Wicked Fantasy's "The Reign of Men" does just that. This Pathfinder-compatable pdf's mission is to give a new or different twist to the role of mankind in a fantasy campaign. You see, Man is the "Old Race". We were here first. The other races came after. Elves are the new kids on the block. I like that.

We get an explanation of the history of Man and his outlook on life. Then from out of the blue, we are told a shocking truth. I won't spoil it for you, but it explains why man has the courage and the will to perform the amazing feats he does.

Next, we are given background that a GM can use as the backbone of his or her campaign. Political structure, a calendar, and a sketch of the 10 great city-states of Man. These cities are ripe for dropping a group of adventurers into them! Each city has just enough background info to get a GM's head swimming with adventure ideas. As an added treat, each city grants its citizens a related skill bonus of sorts. I must admit having done this with homebrew races and cultures, but never cities. Neat idea!

Then, human-centric Racial Traits and Feats are introduced, some of which are quite clever (see, the Hometown-related traits).

Lastly the Philosopher and Palantine Archetypes are presented; which are a twist on the Cleric and Paladin, respectively. Nothing mind-shattering here, but the archetypes fit the idea and concept that the author is trying to convey, so no foul-no harm.

The pdf itself is in full color, a surprising touch, especially for the fantastic price! Unfortunately there is no Table of Contents and no Index; but the pdf is nicely bookmarked- and for a 32 page pdf, that will do, I think.

Overall this is a really fun product that would be great to integrate somehow, someway into any fantasy campaign- Pathfinder or not. And hopefully, we will see other race-centric products pop up from the talented Gillian Fraser and Mr. Wick duo, although it's good to see the humans strut their stuff first, for a change! And they do it with style!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wicked Fantasy: The Reign of Men
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The Aegis Project
by Jeff V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2011 16:29:43
Let me preface this review by saying two things:
1) This is my first experience with John Wicks work (nope I never played or even read Legend of the 5 Rings *gasp*!) so I really had no idea what kind of product this would be. I can say that I really DID enjoy reading it. Really liked the creativity of it and definitely was entertained by it.
and
2) I have no idea what kind of time and money constraints John Wick had placed on him or that he even may have placed on himself. I know by looking at some of his YouTube videos it seemed like he was working with a very set deadline in mind and that may have had some bearing on why he made certain decision about what was included or left out in the game. I just stumbled across the game via RPGNow and I love sci-fi, mecha and the like so I decided to give the game a shot. This review is coming from someone who was very in the dark about how this product came to be and I'm judging solely on MY interpretation of how the game is to me and from what little I had to go by on the product's description page. AFTER I bought it I did some exploring and realized that this game was originally some kind of community or patronage type product.

Now having said all of that...

The Aegis Project is definitely an interesting game. It's seeped in gritty, hard, military drama (think Aliens, Space Above and Beyond or the reinvisioned Battlestar Galactica) which is a very good thing ;)
It is filled with some really unique and interesting ideas and gaming concepts. The theme is nothing new, but it the treatment of it is. It's an epic scope game as well, covering 3 seperate eras of human strife and battle. There's a lot of background the game covers. It has many unique concepts and it really offers some cool ideas for a setting.

Unfortunately as a "gritty 80s mech game" my opinion is that The Aegis Project misses it's mark. When I think of 80s mech the first things that come to my mind are games like Battletech and Robotech. Companies like FASA and GDW really defined hard sci-fi rpgs in the 80s with settings like Renegade Legion and Traveller 2300, but The Aegis project is nothing like any of these games or settings.

Now to be fair the author states that Battletech does what it does and it does it well. No one can make a "better Battletech". Battletech has all of those fiddly little bits like size, weights and various points allocations (armor, heat, movement, etc.) and there are many other games that mimic this or expand on it in their own way. Battletech spawned an entire style of rpg genre - the "wargamers RPG" where tabletop hex or inch based combat dominates the game, but a roleplaying element pervades the whole setting allowing players and gamemasters to experience the world outside their giant robots as well. There are tons of mech and sci-fi games that follow this great lineage (CAV, Heavy Gear, Renegade Legion, Crimson Skies, and so forth)

The problem to me is that because there are so many mecha games that follow in the pattern of Battletech (including things like tons of points allocation, wagame style battles, schematics for various mech and/or other vehicle types, divided clans/houses/tribes/what have you, etc etc) I automatically assume some of these "tropes" are necessary, or at least expected for this type of genre.

The Aegis Project does not have any of these things. In fact it is the polar opposite, being a very narrative style fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, loosely defined and make it up as you go kind of play. Not that I think that kind of gaming is bad or wouldn't be fun to play or run, but it just doesn't seem to fit the whole 80s mech style rpg.

Which brings me to my next point. The Aegis Project is BIG. With cover and ads in the back it runs at something like 177 pages. For an indie style game this is a pretty large PDF. Despite it's size however it lacks a great bit of DETAIL. The Aegis Project presents a lot of different kinds of character classes and pieces of gear, but it doesn't detail ANY of these very much at all. In fact in paints in broad sweeping strokes and leaves everything else to be developed by the GM and players. Again this is not necessarily a bad thing, but in a game of this genre and scope you would expect some things to be fleshed out a bit more than they are. I found the mechs especially lacking, which of course should be the main focus in a game of this style. Details about organizations, corporations, and planets is sketchy at best. Gear for the most part is glossed over except for some very cool specific pieces to individual character classes. Even The Enemy of the players is kept for the most part pretty generic. While I can appreciate leaving sections of the game open to customization by individual gamemasters I think maybe overall it's a little TOO open to interpretation. I don't think I seen a game which touches on a rich history be so... undefined.

Art is pretty sparse as well with only maybe a dozen or so illustrations used throughout the book. There are some ambiguous pictures of first era mechs, but I think they are intentionally illustrated in a way to show that mechs really don't have a set defined look and (like everything else in the universe) can look however the players and gamemaster want them too. There are no detailed line drawings of weapons, schematics of vehicles or images of intense combat. In fact not much of anything is depicted reinforcing the feeling of "lack of crunch". I was really yearning for a lot more visual or descriptive context for this game.

Where The Aegis Project really shines is it's system. It seems very fast and easy to run with lots of opportunity for chracters to shine as heroes. It's based on rolling several 10 sided dice for skill checks with certain results producing successes and multiple success stacking to produce more powerful results. Hmmm... my description makes it sound kind of bland. It is not. There's a lot more to it, but I hate to spoil it here in the review. Suffice it to say I thought the system looks very easy to use, run and modify. It reminds me in some ways of popular "fast and furious" play styles such as Savage Worlds (though it is a completely different kind of system than that game)

At the time of writing this review there were quite a few grammatical errors throughout the PDF, but nothing too terrible (and clearly I am NOT an English Major and have no room to throw stones). Hopefully though a revised version will come out fixing some of those errors.

Overall I think the game is really interesting, a good read and a great idea mine both for campaign ideas and rules concepts. As a complete package though I find it a little lacking and I personally couldn't run it as-is without a lot of extensive planning, but I'm sure there are other gamemasters that could read through this and have a game up and running in just a few hours.

Thanks for reading through all of this review and I hope it helps you make a decision about The Aegis Project.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Aegis Project
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The Aegis Project
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/17/2011 22:35:20
Overall, The Aegis Project is a solid game with an interesting setting and a rules-medium approach. There are narrative gaming elements woven in with more traditional systems that make this something of a unique product.

The writing is clear and concise, and I feel that the game does hit all the right notes for a military-esque 80′s mecha game.

It requires input and a measure of proactiveness from the players but I feel that this is a good thing. The Aegis Project is easy enough to learn and can be picked up and run with a few hours of study and is suitable for most groups. The game is fairly self-contained and doesn’t seem to require further supplements to really make it shine.

The artwork is fairly bland but serviceable, but I feel that with additional artists or perhaps colored artwork, the product could be made even more compelling.

You don’t have to be a fan of John Wick’s work to enjoy the game, and even old traditional types like me can get into it.

---

This is an excerpt from my full review on my blog. if you'd like to read the whole thing, kindly visit: http://wp.me/5H0U

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wicked Heroes: Children of the Mirror
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2011 07:08:56
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/10/11/tabletop-review-wicked--
heroes-children-of-the-mirror/

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a superhero? Of course you have, we all have. Even to this day, sitting at your job, staring out the window you daydream of looking down on the masses with your watchful eyes as the omnipotent protector, or the malevolent villain. Now comes the part where your nemesis steps in, either putting a stop your diabolical plans or to take you out without mercy. However, in this world, there is no holding back. If you destroy your villain, you gain his power to help the unknowing citizens. You destroy the hero? You gain his power to reap the rewards of an even more nefarious quest. This is the world corrupted by the obsidian mirror. The world of the Wicked Heroes.

Wicked Heroes: Children of the Mirror is a quick, sixteen page handbook written by John Wick, a designer who has had his hand in creating Legend of the Five Rings and the 7th Sea games. Wicked Heroes is described as a “horror supers game” that will be included in the Big Book of Little Games that will release in November of 2011. It is very quick and easy read, with a clear premise of the world, along with protagonists and antagonists that can make their appearance in the game that can be as short as one night, or as long as a full campaign.

After giving a brief explanation of the world, Wicked Heroes begins with its entire character creation system spanning over the vastness of a single page. Characters are created with five questions: Who am I, how did I awaken, what is my Gift, what is my Curse, and what is my motivation? The fun doesn’t really begin until you get to the Gifts and Curses. Mentioned at the start of the character creation section is the need for a deck of cards. When you get to the Gifts, you have the player pull a card, and depending on which one they received, they can end up with powers like the ability to freeze something immediately to -150 degrees, or summon a force field around themselves. There are 48 separate powers that can become a character’s blessing, with aces and jokers causing different things to happen all together. Next in line to be chosen for characters are the curses. The Curses section is chosen by cards as well, consisting of Hate, Fear, Greed, and Lust. The only differences are that these curses are much more open to exploitation by enemies and players alike. After the fun of seeing which blessings and curses a character receives, the player must choose what motivates their character and allocate points for each one, which will certainly come in handy later in the game.

Wicked Heroes does not run on the classic dice rules, but rather uses a card system to chose whether you succeed or fail. Without giving away the structure of the game itself, gifts automatically succeed. This is a good way of making it a true supers game, especially since it cites the reason that other well-known superheroes don’t need to “see if their powers activate,” so why should you? The other parts of the game are dependent on risks to invoke the power of the cards, which will give you “slammers.” These slammers will then help you change the world, the only problem is that the structure of the game is a little too lenient on how the slammers are used, letting the player who received the slammer narrate the outcome of the risk. This leaves too much gray area for a player to completely change the GM’s outcome of the situation.

The book continues to describe conflicting risks and the “Yes, But…” rules. These rules are for within-the-group actions, which can boil down any conflict to the classic playground argument of “Nu-uh,” and “Yeah-huh!” The book describes a situation of characters fighting over the loot they had found. One character plays a slammer on their turn to pick up the bag, which the next character plays a another slammer and declares that the bag is too heavy and requires two hands to carry it. My issues with the rules were only exacerbated by the further definition of the “Yes, But…” rules. This allows a character to use a slammer to “modify the previous outcome.” In this case, a player used a slammer to say that the original character had picked it up, but there was a large rip, causing the loot to spill out. When putting these rules to the test in a group, all civility left the second a conflict within the group arose. Eventually a victor was declared, and the “smelly one” sulked after their loss of cards.

At the end of it all, do I think that Wicked Heroes: Children of the Mirror is worth $5? Yes. For a price equivalent to an average iPad app, I think this game gave more laughs and entertainment to make up for the money. The creation system was fun for randomly generating a super hero that could be used in other supers games, and the background for the world would make an interesting storyline for a more structured roleplay system. This is also a great system for a one night game that no one wants to create an elaborate story for, and everyone always seems to have a deck of cards lying around, making it a system that could be picked up quickly. The learning curve of the game isn’t steep, allowing this game to be played with children as well as adults.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wicked Heroes: Children of the Mirror
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Eldritch High: A Little Game about Wizards, Witches and Warlocks
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/05/2011 15:46:25
A great little game that you can learn and start play in about an hour.
I love how the character sheet looks like a class schedule. The mechanic is a card based one and it lends it self well to alterations. The rest of the game is pure role-playing and story telling. If you ever read a YA supernatural book, watched an episode of Charmed or Buffy, or read a Harry Potter book then you have an idea of what you can do. OR better yet, if you were ever in High School and thought "this is ok, but what I really need is a Fireball to liven things up!", then this the game for you.

Even if you don't use the ultra simple game mechanic there are plenty of ideas here for your favorite game. Just now run it in a magical high school.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eldritch High: A Little Game about Wizards, Witches and Warlocks
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Wicked Heroes: Children of the Mirror
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2011 00:37:15
This is a great game if you like imaginative, narrative driven, seat of your pants roleplaying. Like Mr. Wick's other little games, this one can sustain long gaming sessions. I played it the other night and had a blast.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wicked Heroes: Children of the Mirror
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Schauermarchen by John Wick
by Daniel D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2011 22:00:55
4 stars but barely. It took me 15 minutes to read. Like any sucker that bought this book I failed to really read the reviews and bought in on John Wick's name alone. For what it's worth it is good. A evocative, creepy setting, that could be adapted to Little Fears, Grimm or WOD Innocents. Yet you could probably do just as good on your own by reading the teaser. So my complaints have less do to with the material and more the price. For as long as this book has been out and how much material it encompasses it could drop to 99 cents and probably be worth it. Art doesn't exist and layout is alright. If you want something to fill your sessions between your regular game or something to add to your kid centric game this would fit but for the price I would get it only if you really had nothing else loaded. To the author: stick this in the Big Book, because alone it doesn't feel worth it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Schauermarchen by John Wick
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Play Dirty
by Chris B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2011 12:15:37
A great read! Excellent ideas for the gm who is having trouble with "cheese-ey" players. Don't be the guy who runs the game be the game master who everyone loves to hate.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Play Dirty
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The Flux
by josh e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2011 20:37:38
To be blunt, I have Gamer ADD. As A GM I fear it has been a bane and a detriment to my players. They never get a sense of continuity, never get a chance to build their minions into powerful world figures, and never get the chance to spend more than a month or two tops with the same game.
Flux is the ruleset that I've been waiting for. It's a simple, elegant way to tie together several games in such a way that the players can actually look forward to playing more than one game, or switching between games rapidly.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Flux
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Cat (Revised & Expanded)
by William H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/24/2011 21:11:09
Revised? Expanded? Uhm... only kinda. It's not really all that revised (several obvious typos survived), and the expansions are recovery of magic points, how to run it for kids, and some advice on setting it in other settings. The new layout is not as good as the old (but the fancy font is more relevant, and less used), has almost exclusively silhouette art that gives LESS sense of the theme, and does not even answer questions that have been raised over the years. The examples are no longer readily set off, there's a sidebar of good info that got lost, and in general, 1E looks better (but required me doing brutality inside the file to make it print as a booklet), and given only one short paragraph of rules difference... Recommend: Pass. The only GOOD point is the inclusion of an ePup.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Cat (Revised & Expanded)
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Curse of the Yellow Sign, Act I: Digging for a Dead God
by Kendall K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/14/2011 12:02:57
What a bargain. Excellent scenario. Both myself and my players loved playing this game. The sand box approach is probably best for more experienced players but my group loved the Nazi vs ancient horror theme. The threatening atmosphere and the general sense of creeping horror which John Wicks story created was excellent. The best Cthulhu I've Keepered (Kept?) for a long time. Thanks.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Curse of the Yellow Sign, Act I: Digging for a Dead God
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Sexcraft: A Little Game with a Lot of Sex
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/21/2011 10:23:03
Sex in RPGs has always been a proverbial sticky wicket. While the topic certainly deserves some degree of prominence, actually integrating it into a role-playing game is difficult to implement and tends to end badly. Knowing that, I was thusly quite interested when I saw that John Wick was tackling the subject in his book Sexcraft: A Little Game with a Lot of Sex.

Before we get into it (yes, that was another regrettable pun), let’s take a look at the mechanics of the book. The PDF file is twelve pages long from start to finish, taking into account things like the cover, credits, etc. The book is entirely devoid of illustrations save for periodic silhouettes of various sexy women – the pictures are silhouettes with singular parts in white to highlight certain things, such as the silhouetted woman with a white bra on. In fact, all of these illustrations are of sexy women; a note near the end of the book explains that they simply couldn’t find any “sexy guy” illustrations.

There are no bookmarks, which is a shame, but nothing crippling in a twelve-page PDF. It should also be noted that both eBook and Mac formatting are present, allowing for plentiful options about which platform you enjoy this product on.

But beyond all of that, what is this Sexcraft book all about? As the name suggests, this is its own take on sex-based magic. The opening fiction hints at the basic nature of sexcraft as a dueling sort of magic…that is, two practitioners have sex, which for them is a duel of their respective magic.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Sexcraft explains that it’s meant to be a meta-system; you can take the rules in this book and integrate them into other RPGs seamlessly. In fact, this was where I feel the book fell down, as I didn’t find the new type of magic here to be easily added to most other RPGs, but I’ll get to that in due time.

The introduction then explains that sex is often ignored in RPGs because it has no tangible reward within the framework of the role-playing game itself; hence, giving it mechanics and a metagame framework will help to bring it more fully into RPG gaming. Now, I completely agree with the premise here – most RPGs that I’ve played have emphasized mechanics enough that even the best of role-players wanted the system-based rewards. Hence, you need to make any new aspect of the game part of that. However, I was skeptical of a one-size-fits-all approach…

The book begins to get into the mechanics of sexcraft by first explaining that characters can only learn this particular art by being taught, and that it’s a rare and secretive power only a few know. Beyond that, gaining power via sexcraft requires taking it from others…but those who are uninitiated have very little power to give. The quickest way to “charge up” is to engage in a sexcraft duel and take another practitioners energy.

Sexual energy, we’re told, is measured in points. The uninitiated have only ten points (and in mundane sex – that is, sex between people who can’t use sexcraft – everyone just donates a single point to everyone else, resulting in no net gain), but practitioners can have quite a bit more; the presumption seems to be that however much energy you gain in a duel is how much you retain.

Sexual energy can be freely given by those who know what they’re doing, or practitioners can actively take it. Note that in either case, sharing sexual energy is only possible during consensual sexual acts – forcing yourself on someone gains you nothing.

After some discussion on the effects of loss of energy, we’re then told what sexual energy can be used for. Instead of spells per se, there are a half-dozen different applications, called “roses.” Each rose is a different color, and most cost just a single energy to invoke. The blue rose, for instance, requires a touched target to truthfully reveal the answer to a single question asked, whereas the red rose causes the target to become obsessed with someone or something.

I was surprised at the relative narrowness of each rose’s application, and how few roses there are. Each is certainly colorful in what they can do, but there aren’t that many. Further, the idea that sexcraft is “beyond” other forms of magic (something mentioned earlier in the book) seems bluntly reinforced here, with various roses mentioning how each rose’s power cannot be removed or defeated by anything, short of a reprieve from the sexcraft witch that used it.

The above system of sexcraft magic is where I really took issue with the book. For all its talk about being a meta-system that can be put into any RPG, the fact remains that magic is specific to various role-playing games, and using sexcraft as its presented here can be a poor fit. Consider how well this magic would fit, thematically, with Call of Cthulhu? It’s risk-free to the user and subject, easily recharged, and even enjoyable…it’s against the tone of the game, in other words. Likewise, using this in D&D would bring up problems if you said that sexcraft powers couldn’t be dispelled, removed, or even disjoined. The simple mechanics here don’t mesh with that system’s intricate, technical magic rules.

Magic, no matter what the type, isn’t something you can make into a single-use system to put into any established role-playing game.

Following the list of the roses, the book talks about sexcraft duels between practitioners. Each sexcraft user has a number of six-sided dice equal to their energy, and each turn can decide how many to use, but with the caveat that the loser of each round doesn’t get those dice back. There are also four tactics that can be used – attack, counterattack, feint, and protect. Each can give you an advantage (a single bonus d6) against a certain other type of tactic.

This system isn’t a bad one, but seems to favor using all of your energy dice at once in hopes of simply overwhelming your opponent (especially if they’re conservative with how many dice they use at a time). While you can still lose this way sometimes, the result of “higher number wins” seems to favor making large plays, with the various tactics providing some variance only if the participants both bet a relatively equal number of dice.

The book closes out with a word from the author talking about how, if this seems inappropriate, consider how many pages of how many RPGs are dedicated to killing things. It’s a salient point, but one that ignores the larger question of why sex in RPGs isn’t more prominent. It’s not a question of the appropriate nature of the content described, but rather that for most people it’s an awkward and embarrassing thing, even if you marry it more closely to game mechanics. That’s not an excuse, of course, nor is it a condemnation of either traditional RPGs or this one – it’s just why sexual-based RPG materials aren’t more prominent.

After this there’s a bonus section with the sexcraft witch prestige class for D&D 3.5. A ten-level prestige class, this is fairly decent, but makes some mistakes if you’re a Third Edition aficionado. For one thing, it’s odd that a spellcasting PrC (full arcane spellcasting progression) also requires, and grants, sneak attack dice (particularly with the note that the sexcraft witch can sneak attack someone while having sex with them).

The class abilities are interesting, and notably don’t try to translate the “rose” powers from earlier into d20 terms. Rather, we get things like the sexcraft witch having the ability to put a compulsion on someone else which they have to follow until they sleep with another person, having the power to cause a negative level with a caress (like a succubus), or using a death effect against anyone she’s ever slept with.

These powers are imaginative, but a closer look shows that they have some design problems. Leaving aside issues like requiring the never-before-mentioned Craft (sex) skill, or lacking power tags (such as Ex or Su), the powers aren’t defined thoroughly enough. For example, many lack a range listing, or any sort of limiter on how often they can be invoked. Several are too powerful, such as a power that (with a DC 15 Craft (sex) check) lets the arcane spellcasting sexcraft witch use any of several healing spells (though to be fair, this is limited to once per person per night).

On the last page, there are short notecards for a character’s name, their current energy, and how many roses they know.

Overall, Sexcraft is – like so many other attempts to bring sex into greater prominence in RPGs – a good idea that doesn’t work. In this case, it’s not because the attempt is too prurient (it’s fairly light in the tone of its presentation), but simply because in trying to apply itself to any game system, it renders itself inappropriate for quite a few, if not most, of them. The attempt is laudable, but in order for something to be universally applicable, it helps to cover ground that no one else has touched, and magic, regardless of the theme of the magic, is not such an area.

Ironically, the book seems to know it too. Presenting the sexcraft witch prestige class is a nod towards the fact that sex-magic is an area that can be tailored much more directly towards a given game system (a message which is diluted by the fact that the sexcraft witch needs further system editing).

Like a teenager getting ready to lose his virginity, Sexcraft knows what it wants to do, but what it actually presents leaves room for improvement.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sexcraft: A Little Game with a Lot of Sex
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