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Dark Dungeon, Mini-Game #18
by Ricardo N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2011 22:11:10

A fun little solo game with an "old school" feel. Comes with all components needed to play (except dice, if I must say so,) although you may want to fiddle with some of them before printing, like downscaling the character counters or changing some black areas on the dungeon tiles to a lighter color that won't use so much ink. Rules are simple and resolution tables (for encounters, monster behavior) work well. For a more detailed review, you may check http://fantalonia.blogspot.com/2011/05/review-dar-
k-dungeon.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Dungeon, Mini-Game #18
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Steel and Glory, Magica, Mini-Game #48
by Brian R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2011 11:22:11

Review: Steel & Glory Set 4, Magica, Mini-Game #48


Magica is, as could be expected, the expansion that adds mages, spells, summoned creatures and more to Steel & Glory. Quite a bit is added, without the burden of pages and pages of rules addenda. The system is pretty sleek, and fits in well to the system.


Rules take up all of four pages. Mages get a set number of spells from among 2-5 'schools' of magic. The thing is, each spell is rolled randomly. You can choose which school to roll for each time, but the particular spell is chosen by die roll. This can make for some interesting combinations, requiring a little creative tactical thinking. Spells are cast by simply rolling 1D6 and adding the mage's Magic Skill. If the total is equal to or greater than the spell's Difficulty, the spell goes off. Either way, one point is deducted from the mage's magic pont pool. This can be replenished a little during play, but is still a limited resource similar to character's Adrenal score.


The units provided are quite varied. There are two magic-using characters for each of the six factions, as well as three Solos and several summoned creatures. As with all the S&G sets, counters for keeping track of units' special effects are provided on each page, as well as tokens for the units. Some of the summoned creatures are huge, taking up four spaces on the board. The Scorpion has a vicious Poison ability, and the Wood Spirit can be an absolute beast in the thick of battle.


Spell cards for each of the schools of magic are clearly written, and each page has counters at the bottom to keep track of any ongoing effects, like poison or fire. The selection of schools and spells is respectable, and each has it's own flavor. The standard Earth, Air, Fire, and Water disciplines are present, each with an associated summoned Elemental. Priestly characters have the Faith school, as well as a separate Elven school. Nature and Darkness are next, for the Druids and evil types. Primal is last, accessible by some greenskins and others. The spells are varied, and each school is themed well by the chosen spells.


I was very impressed with how much stuff is provided in this expansion. I wasn't expecting twelve new mages, plus Solos and all the summoned creatures, and as wide a selection of spells as I found. The ever-present typos creep in here and there, but I barely noticed as I went through the files. I was also glad that the required rules addition was so short. I haven't had a chance to get this expansion on the table, but there's a certain Ogre Magi in there that I'm itching to let loose on those Barony scum!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Steel and Glory, Magica, Mini-Game #48
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Steel and Glory, Set 1, Mini-Game #45
by Brian R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2011 10:23:43

Review: Steel and Glory, Set 1, Mini-Game #45


Steel & Glory Set 1 is a fantasy skirmish board game from Avalon Game Company. It includes the complete game rules, character cards, tokens, game board, and terrain tiles. It uses the S&G battle system introduced in Monster Bash, and is compatible with it, but is complete by itself.


First, the rules. Each player starts with an equal number of points to buy units with. These cost between 5-20 points each, and the given battle scenarios range between 15-75 points. Units are defined by several attributes, from Health, Attack and Defense to Speed, Strength, Movement, and Will. Another stat, Adrenal, determines how many times that unit may use any Special Abilities it may possess. Many units are unique, named characters, but a few are not, such as Goblins and Men At Arms. Movement is on a square grid. Each unit gets two actions to perform each activation, and several units get more than one activation in a round. Actions may be used to move, attack, or possibly use a Special Ability. The attack procedure is rather unique. The attacking units adds it's Attack score to the target's Defense stat, and tries to roll that number or higher on two six-sided dice. Thus, having an Attack of 1 is much more desirable than an Attack of 4. If the attack roll succeeds, damage is deducted from Health. There are rules for units fleeing if their Health falls too low, as well as for resting to regain Health or Adrenal points. Rules are also included for Tests of Strength, Panic, and throwing objects (or opponents!). Overall, the rules are pretty straight-forward. Subjects are laid out in roughly the order that you would need them in the game. The negative here is that a few typos have snuck in.


The unit cards have a good layout, and all the information is easy to read. Basic stats are on the front, and weapons, armor and Special Abilities are on the back. The bottom of each page has the tokens for those characters, as well as any counters that are needed for those units' abilities, such as 'Stealth' or 'Poison'. The non-unique units have four tokens each. The two factions included in this set are the human Barony and the Orcs & Goblins. Lord John leads the humans, with a powerful broadsword backed up by his Command of his army. Many Men At Arms and House Guard follow him, as well as the Captains and Sergeants of the castle. Warlord Grom leads the greenskin horde, followed by orcs, goblins, ogres, trolls, and worse. Also included are a few 'Solos', units that can be hired by any faction. This set includes a Boar, Hydra, Minotaur, and Cockatrice. The cards are nice, but once again typos are present, including one armor typo that actually makes two of the orcs easier to hit! All of them are minor, however, and taking a moment or two to think about them will present an obvious fix.


Games take place on the provided Battle Tiles. Each one is divided into a 6x6 grid, and they can be arranged in any configuration needed. This set includes only a 'Dirt' tile, alternating in light and dark brown squares. Two tiles are recommended for a 1 vs. 1 fight, and up to six tiles for the larger battles. Obstacle tiles are rocks, boulders, brush, trees, and simple buildings. A couple sheets of each will provide enough variety for almost endless battles, and Battle Tiles from other sets can also be used.


The artwork for the game has a unique feel to it. I can't say that I love it, but it is consistent throughout, instead of having several different artists and styles. The cartoony, 80's-ish feel to it is not bad, but not among my very favorite styles.


I really like this game. Skirmish-level battles are my favorite type of game, and this set of rules does it well. The typos detract a little from the game, but nowhere near enough to be a deal-breaker. Some of the pages could be arranged better, especially the Obstacle pages. I'm a big fan of putting as much as possible on one page, to save paper while printing, and there's a lot of blank space on some pages. There are enough units for the two factions provided to allow for a lot of replay before the need to add more units/factions hits. The $6 price tag is more than reasonable for the amount of game you get, and supplements clock in at $3 each, making the entire set easily obtainable. If you like fantasy skirmish games, pick this one up. It hits our table about once a week, and I am planning on adding the expansions to my collection as soon as I can.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Steel and Glory, Set 1, Mini-Game #45
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The Patriot Incident, a Terror Network Adventure
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2011 01:13:00

WHAT WORKS: The largest Terror Network module to date, it is also noteworthy for featuring a terrorist group that isn't Muslim jihadists. The fact is, dangerous ideological extremists do take more than one form, and Terror Network addresses that here.


WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I caught a few editing issues...some buried in text and a couple in headers (which makes them far more noticeable, unfortunately). My primary concern with the adventure is that the time limit almost seems too harsh, with all of the travel, the due process of getting warrants for various situations, etc., that it has me thinking the deck might be too stacked against the PCs, but it is hard to say for sure without actually running the module.


CONCLUSION: It can be easy for a company to fall into the trap of doing one thing over and over, even if they do that one thing well. Bedrock Games follows a familiar formula with their modules, but still manages to show the variety available in the counterterrorism genre. If anything, I would like to see a little tighter editing and a little more variety in the locations used (Boston showed up both here and in the mission included in the corebook, justified due to the game's creator being based there)...but The Patriot Incident is another great addition to the Terror Network line.


For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blo-
gspot.com/2011/05/tommys-take-on-patriot-incident.html
p>

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Patriot Incident, a Terror Network Adventure
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Operation Hydra Den: A Terror Network Game Module by Bedrock Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/19/2011 01:33:20

WHAT WORKS: As always, a painstaking amount of research has gone into the module, and again, success or failure is left up to the PCs (ranging from total success to partial successes to utter failure). One of the most common problems with modules (indeed, most written adventures, store bought or homemade) is that they tend to fall apart once the players make contact with them. Hydra Den does its best to avoid that by combining the "Government Agents" approach with the sandbox format and site descriptions that cover what happens when either town is approached first (by necessity, the Mine event should always happen in the middle, regardless).


WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The editing didn't appear to be quite as tight on this one as it did Operation Hydra. One of the player's maps was mislabeled as a GM's map, and I caught the odd typo in the text.


CONCLUSION: I couldn't tell you why, exactly, but I didn't like this adventure quite as much as Operation Hydra. Not saying it's a bad product, far from it, I just think something in Hydra worked better. Maybe I'm more partial to the FBI than I am the CIA. Maybe it was the whole "on American soil" thing. I don't think it was the minor editing issues, but who knows? That said, I do think Bedrock Games nailed another great product with this, showing how you can release modules that are ostensibly connected, but can easily be ran separately. I also like the realistic "sense of scale" for this mission: You don't swoop in and wipe out a major terrorist cell in one mission, and that's not what they were trying to accomplish here. In the final analysis, I would say a half a step down from Operation Hydra, but still a great investment for anyone with interest in the modern espionage genre.


For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.-
blogspot.com/2011/05/tommys-take-on-operation-hydra-den.html-



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Hydra Den: A Terror Network Game Module by Bedrock Games
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Operation Hydra by Bedrock Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/18/2011 03:39:35

What Works: I love the Bedrock Games approach to adventures, more often than not just setting up a scenario, usually with a timeline, and letting the PCs work it out for good or for ill. The way this module works, it ties into the sequel (Operation Hydra Den) in which Agents take the fight to Al Mahara on their home soil, regardless of success or failure on the PCs' part (although failure will likely make the players want to take the fight to Al Mahara even more). The module itself allows for the PCs to have plenty to do, from hacking to interrogating, to shoot-outs and chase scenes, and even a bone-chilling encounter with a pitbull (...maybe).


What Doesn't Work: For better or for worse, Bedrock Games is more Substance than Style (reminding me a lot of Precis Intermedia Games in that regard). None of their stuff looks bad, but I think it tends to get overlooked because they spend their time, energy and money on research and writing, and not on their art budget. Personally, I don't mind that, but it baffles me how every person out there who waxes nostalgic for games like Top Secret hasn't at least given Terror Network a once over.


Conclusion: Another stellar release by Bedrock Games. While it allows for the very real possibility of a downer ending, said ending (and the existence of its follow up module) is a textbook case in how the PCs can "lose", and the show can go on. Most importantly, the module is written with the flexibility in mind that success or failure - at any step - is up to the PCs, their choices, and their action. With any luck, Hydra Den will fulfill the promise of its predecessor.


For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blog-
spot.com/2011/05/tommys-take-on-operation-hydra.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Hydra by Bedrock Games
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Infinite Aliens 1
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/16/2011 09:08:12

If you are going to play a science-fiction space faring game, you will need aliens! The IF corebook provided several interesting races, and here is a book not of additional aliens, but providing a toolkit for those who'd prefer to design their own, or of course, create game versions of their favourite aliens from film or fiction. It takes you step-by-step through the process of creating a complete alien race, ready to serve as player-characters or adversaries... or just that odd fellow sitting beside you in the cantina. Drawing on earlier work from ComStar Games, a company intertwined with the Avalon Game Company, it puts a distinct twist on the process, tailoring it to the Infinite Futures ruleset.


Chapter 1: Character Concept talks about the need to have an overall idea for your new race. Not just physically, although that's a major part of it, but philosophically: what is the racial outlook on life? Are they aggressive war-mongers, scholarly pacifists, do they admire the artistry of a chef or a painter... or a swordsman? Are engineers more valued than lawyers? What sort of environment did they develop in, and how has that influenced them? Lots of questions to help you find the answers you need to begin building your new race. Some of the 'flavour text' you come up with will not impact the game mechanics, but don't lay it aside - a tripedal race that bears live young, has three eyes, is omnivorous, and is covered with short pink fur may or may not have any racial characteristics rules-wise based on these features, but you are already beginning to visualise them.


If you are desperate to have a fictional species in your game, be aware that there's always a player who knows more about Klingons or whoever than you do! So if the intention is for the race to be antagonists, avoid using something that players, if not characters, already know about - unless the idea is that this race has been known to them for a long time! Scavenge bits from here and there by all means, but always look to making them different and surprising too. These rules are designed for making new races roughly equivalent in strength and capabilities to the standard human, with an eye to game balance. Think carefully before making your aliens too stronger (or too weaker), an invincible race of super-aliens may sound cool... but will get tiresome if the regular joes that make up the character group can never get the upper hand. The rest of the process pays due attention to this by using a point-buy system to ensure that alien races are balanced with those already in your universe (but there are rules for how to tip that balance in an appendix, if you are determined to do so).


Ideas and concepts beginning to form, we move on to Chapter 2: Species Creation. Now it's time to start putting in some numbers, beginning with the core of the process: ability score adjustments. Once you have decided on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the alien, it will become clear where the adjustments need to be applied. Choices can be significant, especially as far as combat is concerned should Strength and Dexterity be involved. Then you need to decide on specific racial traits. Perhaps your new alien has some ability that comes naturally to them but not to other races. Additional senses, different body type, affinity for certain skills, enhancement to some aspect of combat ability, special attack modes: all are possible and by assigning a point value to each, it becomes relatively simple to track that all-important game balance.


Next comes Chapter 3: Racial Skills, which allows further fine-tuning of just how your new alien race approaches problems and lives its life... a society in which everyone's telepathic will be quite different from one in which communication is primarily olfactory or visual - and all will be puzzling to those verbal humans! A whole raft of possibilities opens up to a race which can fly, others may find their way around using echolocation or sense vibrations. There are a lot of ideas here, along with the associated game mechanics to make them happen. Picking a few of these, or using them as a template to structure your own ideas, will help you customise your alien.


This is followed by Chapter 4: Feats and Drawbacks. This is a discussion of 'racial' feats which are inherent to the alien in question, rather than the regular pick'n'mix feats characters take as they advance, but they can go a long way towards defining that alien's capabilities. Drawbacks are things disadvantageous to the species, which add extra points to the pool of points used to ensure game balance.


Chapter 5: Finishing Touches rounds off the creation process. It is more conceptual in nature, covering things like society, language and other things which are vitally important to making the alien... well, alien; but which are not reflected in game mechanics. There are loads of ideas, just reading through them spawns visions of what is possible and how you might make not just an alien creature but a whole civilisation behind it, and make it come alive within your alternate reality. Game mechanics are important, but the underlying concepts are what make your aliens believeable.


Then there's a checklist to note down your choices made as you run through the processes outlined above, and a couple of Appendices. The first is a series of alien races outlined in brief, to show you want can be done using this development system; and the second talks about racial levels, how to scale your inventions when you really do want them to be markedly more or less powerful than the majority of races in your universe.


If you seek aliens, look elsewhere. Here is a masterclass in how to build aliens: thought-provoking and mechanically sound... but you need to do the work to make your aliens come 'alive' to inhabit your alternate reality. Here are the tools to empower you to make it happen.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Infinite Aliens 1
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Infinite Futures
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/14/2011 10:20:48

This product, an attempt to produce an over-arching set of rules for all manner of science-fiction gaming drawing on the core concepts of the Pathfinder ruleset, opens with a bit of a rambling prologue about how the game got its name, and the usual 'What is a role-playing game' that most corebooks have - after all, any book might be the reader's first RPG.


Then straight on to Chapter 1: Abilities. Herein the core of a character... how strong, intelligent, tough and so on he is, the innate qualities that make him who he is and a good starting point for defining the person who you are going to play. Here the normal (for D20-rulesets) abilities of Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom and Charisma are used, starting with 8 points in each and utilising a point-buy system to tweak them to meet your concept. In a change from many games, Dexterity does not contribute to firearms attacks, and the reasoning behind this is explained: game balance. As most people will fight with firearms, having Dexterity scores contribute both to attacks and to defence scores would mean a lot of high Dexterity characters out there! And within the alternate reality of the game, training and practice count for more than nimble or steady hands or good eyesight when shooting anyway.


Next is Chapter 2: Races, complete with an apposite quote - "We all know interspecies romance is weird" (Tim Burton) - and a picture of a humanoid, but not human, female in a bizarre costume, shall we just say that her hobbies include leather and fetish clothing and leave it at that (if you like that sort of thing, it's a recurrent theme in the illustrations). This section covers character species, starting off with androids (accompanied by a stunning illustration of one!). Each race grants certain abilities, advantages and disadvantages, as well as a different perspective, world view if you like, and appearance. There are several 'living' races too, such as the ursine and artistic Cancrians... who are the root of legends of sasquatch, yeti and bigfoot - not monsters but stray Cancrians visiting Earth! Even stranger are the Enigma, who are just that - nobody's quite sure about them, and Cyber-sapiens, living brains with cybernetic bodies. Back to those that feature in the collective consciousness, there are Greys, the standby of UFO mythology. Or if you like really weird, the Sokuja have a human-like upper body but from the 'waist' down they are snakes! It's an interesting and varied group of races - and you can, of course, play a human being. Given their backgrounds, different races can be more or less common depending on where you are, the time period and so on, but it is likely that a party will be predominently of one race (probably human) with perhaps one or two others.


This is followed by Chapter 3: Classes. The chapter begins by abstracting out all the level-based information, so that you can then concentrate on the things that make each class different, rather than on the things appropriate to characters of any class based on their level alone. The core classes are Charmer, Techie, Psychic, Infiltrator, Outlander, Mystic, and Trooper. The Charmer uses their 'people skills' rather than combat to influence the course of events. Infiltrators use stealth and guile to achieve their ends (although they can be effective fighters as well), whilst Outlanders are specialists in living outside of civilisation, exploring the wild frontiers of whatever world upon which they find themselves. The Techie is the one who keeps everything working, although Outlanders are pretty good at that as well, especially when it comes to their own personal equipment. The techie class also provide the route into the medical profession, for those who wish to become healers. The Trooper is the out and out combat specialist, expert with a range of weapons systems or even his bare hands. Each class has an impressive list of custom class abilities, by choosing which ones your character has carefully you can tailor him to perform his role precisely as you envisage. The Psychic and Mystic are not explained here - the Psychic has his own chapter at the end of this book and the Mystic pops up in a later product, Infinite Mysteries.


On to Chapter 4: Skills. They are acquired during character creation and when you level up in the normal way, the number available being based on your character class and Intelligence, as the smarter you are, the more skills you can learn. The usual range of skills are available, with some interesting additions as well as the ones you'd expect for a science-fiction game. Domestic Science for an example, as well as things like Drive and Engineering and Computer Use. Each skill gets a detailed description about how to use it both in game and in terms of game mechanics, all of course being slanted towards SF - so acrobatics, say, is not just used for balancing and jumping but can also be applied to movement in zero (or micro) gravity. There's an interesting section on languages and linguistics, and suggestions for different ways in which you can handle them - or ignore the problem altogether and say that everyone speaks Galactic Standard!


Next, Chapter 5: Feats runs through a whole bunch of feats in the same manner, putting a science-fiction spin on familiar ones and introducing new setting-appropriate ones. There's some interesting treatments of martial arts, enabling a character to put together the style of their choice. If you've been intrigued by the 'Stargate' concept of an Ancient gene, you can have something similar... and there are plenty of feats to provide for specialist firearms use and fancy shooting tricks. Medics and mechanics have access to a parallel set of feats that enable them to repair things, be they people or machines. And that vital necessity, Zero-G Training. For those playing androids or other robotic characters, a rather double-edged sword is the Common Model feat... sometimes it's an advantage to look like all the other androids from that production run, but it can be confusing to your friends! Another neat one is Connections, which enables player and GM to build a network of people in a given geographic area or professional field, people the character knows and who know him, who may prove useful contacts or be able to help in some way - as a bonus it also covers the correct etiquette for dealing with members of that community, even when you don't know them personally.


Chapter 6: Equipment explores the gear, weapons and armour with which your new-minted character can equip himself. It starts, though, with glitches. Every time you are using any piece of technology and roll a 1 on the D20, something bad happens. The battery runs flat, something shorts out, an engine stalls... and the piece of kit has to be repaired before it will work again. Then there is a discussion about how to determine just what items will be available. Some things will not have been invented yet, even though they are 'known' to readers of science fiction, others will be obsolete. Try finding a faster-than-light drive or an engine which needs a starting handle to get it going today, and you get the picture. Whatever you decide exists in your alternate reality has the capacity to have a profound effect, so chose carefully. It is also necessary to decide what you are giving out as 'freebies' both during character creation and through the course of the game. For example, characters who are serving military can expect to be issued much of what they need - but also have to make do with what the quartermaster gives them or complement the issue loadout with private purchases. Other characters will have to provide for themselves, but are limited only by cost, legality (if this is important for them) and availability. Techies and medics on the team can reduce costs considerably, by repairing kit and healing injuries without the need for payment to third parties.


Having provided plenty to think about, the discussion then moves on to listings of weapons, armour and other items. Firearms are handled generically in a sequence from slug-throwers through to laser and more exotic weapon systems, those who like more detail than a generic 'pistol' or 'rifle' will have to add it for themselves. Archaic or melee weapons also feature, even in technologically-advanced societies there are advantages to weapons that do not malfunction or run out of ammunition or have batteries to go flat! (My pet hate, the use of slug-throwers in pressurised environments, is not mentioned, but it is another valid reason to have such weapons to hand!) The armour section is similar, and includes that science-fiction delight, the 'personal defence shield' as well as more conventional armours that are worn like clothing. Fans of the movie 'Alien' can operate a power lifter suit, whilst those who prefer the novel 'Starship Troopers' have various power armour suits to choose from, and if 'Dune' inspires you, check out the survival suit, inspired by the Arrakis stillsuit. There's plenty of other technological gear to make life easy or entertaining as well.


Next comes Chapter 7: Cyberware, bodily enhancements that, although mechanical in nature, are fully integrated with the individual's nervous system, becoming an inherent part of them. There's a hidden cost as well as the financial one involved in purchase of parts and surgery however: characters risk their essential 'humanity' if too much meat is replaced by hardware, and the performance of the organic parts that remain can also be degraded. There are some quite complex game mechanics to apply - fortunately in the main, one-off calculations done when cyber-parts are installed - to model this. As well as body part replacements and enhancements, adventurous souls can add parts that people do not normally have - wings or gills, for example - whilst the more violent can have weapons as very parts of their bodies.


Still on the theme of equipment, Chapter 8: Vehicles follows. The chapter begins by describing the various 'roles' that characters can occupy in the transport of choice - pilot, gunner, etc. - and then covers vehicular combat and chases. This is followed by a catalogue of vehicles from civilian motorcyles and ground cars to military tanks... and then moves on to a discussion of mecha and then to spaceships. It suddenly breaks into a selection of floor plans for use when on several spaceship types - a courier, a pirate raider, a private space yacht, a cargo ship, a 'Star Marshal' patrol craft, and a scout ship. There's also a rather skeletal data sheet for recording details of whatever vessel you have in mind.


We've already had a bit in the previous chapter relating to vehicular combat, but next is Chapter 9: Combat with the full explanation and rules for combat in this game. Starting with the concept of combat by rounds, all the options and necessary game mechanics are discussed in detail. As usual, it sounds far more complicated that it actually is in play, particularly once the participants are used to the system and do not need to keep checking the rules. This is one chapter in particular which could benefit from editorial attention.


Next is Chapter 10: Environments. It starts off with a discussion of common hazards, ones that can be encountered in a range of environments such as acids, extreme temperatures, darkness, falling, electrical and radiation dangers, and running out of such essentials as food, water or air. This is followed by a discussion on gravity and the effects of both high and low gravitational fields as well as its complete absence. Naturally, not all planets are going to have an Earth-normal atmosphere, and both the composition and the density of the atmosphere can have adverse effects on unprotected characters who are not naturally adapted to them. The vacuum of space is also covered, with the effects of exposure on unprotected characters as well as decompression of spacecraft being discussed. This is followed by an extensive catalogue of afflictions: poisons and diseases that conspire to make any character's life a misery, if not end it. Next comes, rather strangely, a look at movement and speed, and carrying capacity, then light and vision... and how to attack or break objects. The chapter ends with a discussion of star types - this could have led to more environmental matters such asthe materials necessary to design solar systems and planets for characters to visit, colonise, or fight over, but did not develop beyond the stars themselves. Good to see sound astronomical knowledge about main sequence stars and some of the more unusual things to be found in the universe, though!


Chapter 11: Creatures looks at those lifeforms that are likely to provide opposition for the characters, beginning with a suggestion that the Pathfinder monsters make a good starting point, followed by a collection of foes ranging from mechanical 'guard snakes' to some quite nightmarish creatures... Interestingly, most are sentient although some are of animal intelligence.


Finally, there's the massive Chapter 12: Psychic Powers. Deliberately kept separate, although referred to in the character creation sections, as it will colour the whole nature of your game if you decide to allow these (or indeed magic - known as mystic power in this system - which is dealt with in a separate supplement although touched upon here). Psychic characters have access to a range of Powers, which can be cast at will (with certain limits based on character level) until the character has exhausted their psychic powers for the day. This is regained by a period of meditation and reflection, but powers do not have to be selected in advance. Psychic powers come from within, and are powers of the character's mind. Being a psychic is as much a career choice as any other character class, rather than an additional ability that some characters may have, somewhat different from some science-fiction games. There are spheres of power, and as the character rises in level he gains access to more spheres, beginning with the universal sphere and another of his choice. The universal sphere provides basic offensive and defensive capabilities, then there are spheres concerned with energy, ESP, mechanical effects, telepathy, time, even the ability to affect computers, and so on. Then follows a massive 'spell list' of available powers to choose from. Many are based on the Pathfinder SRD, with additions and variations to deal with the more science-fiction aspects such as powers that influence androids or computers.


This is an exhaustive and massive remaking of the core Pathfinder system into a science-fiction game. It provides you with a good rules toolkit, but as far as setting is concerned you will have to write your own, or adapt one written under a different ruleset. It is a good start, but needs more work - including proofreading and editing - before it will be THE science-fiction D20 game... It certainly starts spawning ideas of settings and adventures in which these rules can be used, and shows some touches of genius particularly in the way in which some iconic items and beings from SF novels and movies have been adapted.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Infinite Futures
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How to be a Great GM
by Johnn F. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/18/2011 20:38:42

Overall, the book seems geared more towards the beginner GM and written in such a way one can readily grasp the concepts after a single read through, with the added bonus of being short enough most people can get through it in a single sitting. (It took me less then an hour to read from start to finish.)


If you’re a new GM or haven’t had the pleasure of GMing for a while and feel a bit rusty, give this book a try.


Full review at http://www.roleplayingtips.com/tools/how-to-be-a-great-
-gm/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
How to be a Great GM
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Lightspeed: Alien Contact
by Tim L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2011 07:38:27

Note that although this is for Lightspeed, a Fuzion system, the book is more geared to d20 alien creation. A very good product with at least 2-3 pages for one alien race and about 17 alien races. Usable in any system with a little work, as some of their personalities seem to be a bit similar at times (several enemy races, for example). Would a small sample adventure showing how they interact be too much?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lightspeed: Alien Contact
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Far Avalon
by Tim L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2011 07:34:10

This is exceptional. A systemless setting that provides all the detail (and I'm still going through it weeks later to absorb it all) you may need. I'm just not sure if all that detail was necessary because I think some of it could be put in a separate book (all the starships, for example) and instead include a quick-start adventure. That is a small complaint an incredible job. Although systemless, I also think it would be easy to provide some sample characters with word-based statistics (an Great Mechanic or an Excellent Mechanic both would imply high skill as opposed to a Poor Mechanic or an Average one) or an internal number system (1 to 10). And an adventure or two.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Far Avalon
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Haunts and More
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/28/2011 12:44:49

2010 Halloween Review


Layout gaffs aside, the inside cover has the splash page to their other book, Haunts and More is a far more focused and interesting read. Presented by AGES games, it delves out 12 pages of deadly haunts to build adventures from. Haunts are traplike areas that can not be cured by a +2 axe and a fully rested sorcerer. Instead, you have to perform a mission that solves the problem. It is a bit disappointing that almost half of the 12 pages are “bonus material” with a less than par ranger build at level 2. The Iron Nugget is in the expansive creativity put into the Haunts themselves. If you liked this concept, you are going to want to pick this up



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Haunts and More
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Lightspeed: Alien Contact
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2011 09:10:42

First of all, I'm slighty miffed that I bought this PDF at full price before seeing the half off discount on the Lightspeed yahoo group. If I had paid $3.50, this would be a four star review. I was pleased to see this product. Lightspeed was one of the first PDFs I bought on rpgnow around a deCade ago. I'm partial to the setting, and though Fuzion isn't ICONS or Savage Worlds, at least it"s not d20. This PDF is well-written, and a scifi game can never have too many aliens. My problem is that the alien writeups don't take advantage of the setting Christian Concle has developed in previous PDFs. There are no tie-ins to any of the
Lightspeed setting plot points. Also, the layout lacks the signature Lightspeed style.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Lightspeed: Alien Contact
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Avalon Design Elements Stone Set 2
by Rainer G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/07/2011 21:57:07

What little you see in the preview is what you get. Notice the boulders capping the ends are simply mirror images. In fact there really is only 1 wall, the rest are differing scaled portions of the same. Even the walls have repeating stones turned around in differing positions and are a mirrored from the middle outward. The stones are not very high resolution and the edges have jaggies. Anyone competent with Paint.net, GIMP or other paint programs can Google "seamless stone textures" or copy from a image search of "field stone wall" and make a nicer wall.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Avalon Design Elements Stone Set 2
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Fudge Treats: Shoujo Manga
by Jeff M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2011 23:41:48

I recently picked this up at a special price and I am glad that I did. Shoujo Manga means, "comic books for girls." It is not a setting I had sought to explore at my gaming table before, and I am still not certain that I am ready to run a fully romance based campaign or anything like that, but this small 48 page package has enough good stuff going for it that I am able to give it high marks even though for me, the setting wasn't it's greatest selling point. There are other Shoujo Manga games available, and they may explore this genre more fully, I am not sure, but I know that beyond a collection of skills inspired by the genre and some advice on different campaigns based on this sort of manga, the game rules themselves don't offer anything novel or different that will make resolving romance based situations more interesting or dynamic.


What is here is a solid representation of an Anime themed generic RPG adventure game using the Fudge system. It's quick, it's lite, it's easy to understand and read, and I do plan to use it at my gaming table for a science fiction campaign I am running, because for a rules lite generic RPG it does what it does very well. I have read a handful of Fudge iterations. (I found FATE to be too complex in it's presentation.) I want something that I can reference quickly without becoming too bogged down in the details. Fudge Treats: Shoujo Manga provides what is, for me at least, an ideal level of complexity and detail. The rules for character creation are straight forward and easy to understand. They seem diverse enough to allow for a good variety of character types.


The game is complete except for "Supernormal Powers." The game mentions future Fudge Treats: A Magical Girls one, and a Super Powers one, that will fill this void. But some more examples in this area would have been welcome, and I have looked but find no trace of the other mentioned products. (This product is more than 6 months old, maybe it hasn't sold well enough to justify the promised additions.) Also, although most of the rules are summarised in a handy appendix, there is no character sheet. Finally some of the full page art obscures game text making those pages more difficult to read on my Kindle, but it's not terrible. However, I do feel that future products might consider avoiding this. Otherwise, I found all the art work to be pleasing and appropriate to the subject matter.


So, no character sheet or supernormal powers, and no ground breaking innovations that make this a must buy, but it is a strong accessible iteration of the Fudge system for Shoujo Anime themed role play. I think it might be ideal for younger players, especially girls (at whom Shoujo Anime is targeted,) or for people like myself who want a nice easy version of Fudge to adapt and use within their own setting, as it seems flexible enough for this and worthy of adapting. For providing me with that, I feel the product lived up to it's promise as a "Fudge Treat" and certainly it is worth the modest price. - 4 stars.


Jeff Moore



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fudge Treats: Shoujo Manga
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