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Once Upon a Time, Pathfinder Version
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/24/2011 21:58:24

Once Upon the Time is inspirational with some useful ideas, unfortunately it is hampered by a poor conversion to the Pathfinder rule set. I hope that a second edition with a cleaned up and improved set of rules for Pathfinder will be released soon.

Once Upon A Time: A Guide to Fairy Tales for Pathfinder is a 46-page PDF (36 pages if you remove the cover, OGL and ads) written by David Caffee and published by Avalon Games.

The layout is most standard, double column (interspaced with single column) and easy to read, unfortunately it lacks both a table of contents and index though it is still short enough that things should be easy enough to find. The interior art is black and white and suited to the product’s theme.

This is a book about bringing elements of fairy tales into gaming, this version providing rules to be used with the Pathfinder system. It begins with an introduction to fairy tales (not originally for children alone) and then moves into the structure of the tales and how to apply that to a game structure.

A random table of fifty fairy tail plots seeds and twenty random encounters provide inspiration for adventures. Four useful characters -evil witch, good witch, seducer, strong person- are statted out but not very well with several omissions and errors (the good witch is statted as a cleric but is listed as a sorcerer for example).

Next there are new skills -detective work, puzzles and riddles, and rhyming- which to fit the Pathfinder paradigm really should have been folding into existing skills, the later two would have been excellent additions to Perform for example. There are four new feats, which are nicely thematic for fairy tail games but would be more of a challenge for other settings.

Six advance/prestige classes follow (it mixes and matches those terms) which while brilliant thematically -fair maiden, gallant hero- are just the same version from the OGL version of this product. The character skills have not even been converted to the Pathfinder versions. These classes need to be completely rewritten and available to take as base classes to achieve what they need to achieve for the implied setting.

The monsters are fun and interesting, including a big bad wolf and a wicked trader (ala rumplestiltskin), but poorly converted to Pathfinder.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThruRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Once Upon a Time, Pathfinder Version
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GROMM: Fantasy Skirmish, Basic Edition
by matt c. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2011 19:52:48

An outstanding variation of the vanilla fantasy worlds we now find ourselves surrounded by. GROMM's mechanics are to the point and flawless in their operation. This is truly a gem of a free ruleset, and will only get better with time.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GROMM: Fantasy Skirmish, Basic Edition
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Mystic Adventures
by james w. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2011 19:38:15

My ten year old daughter and I enjoy this very much. One of our favorite games is Return of the Heroes. When we want a break from that or your typical dungeon crawler Mystic Adventurers and expansions fit the bill. Production quality and art is not the greatest but the game play is good and I usually pimp out my pnp games anyway. I rate it a 4 out of 5.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mystic Adventures
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Action Hero, D6 Version
by Sean M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2011 06:06:13

Poor conversion of OGL d20 material to OpenD6, using levels and base attack bonuses in a system where they don't exist.

It has some templates, and NPCs, but shoddy overall.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Action Hero, D6 Version
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Dark Dungeon 2, Mini-Game #20, Lair of the Spider Cult
by Ricardo N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2011 13:16:31

This adventure for Dark Dungeon includes three additional adventurers, two spells, five dungeon tiles and five new enemies. It is a good addition to the game as the adventure plays very differently from the Goblins Lair (the one that comes with Dark Dungeon.) While that was structured as a dungeon delve, this one has more of a story going, and plays as a mix of "choose your adventure" and tactical, grid-based combat.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Dungeon 2, Mini-Game #20, Lair of the Spider Cult
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Game Geek Issues #18
by John M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2011 12:46:13

If you play games from Avalon (shame on you if you don't, by the way) this is a magazine you should download every time they come out with a new issue. I used to pay (and still would) for the issues and thought it was still a great bargain. I use it mostly for the BattleAxe stuff. The stories are also wonderful. Many of the game specific stuff can be modified for other games as well. Every gamer should be reading this!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Game Geek Issues #18
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Lightspeed
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2011 23:03:43

The five stars is for the setting: a deliberate derivative of Wars and Trek with some classic '80s anime tropes thrown in.

I much prefer the instant fuzion system to the full version presented here, but it isn't so crunchy that it's unplayable. I'm looking forward to the open D6 version of Lightspeed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lightspeed
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Fantasy House, Free Version
by Arkham D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/30/2011 23:47:37

Very Nice! Used to do a LOT of paper modelling, back before the wonder of inkjet printers and I just used a pencil and some posterboard. I'm very pleased to see the quality of Avalon's models. Look forward to taking a look at more of them...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy House, Free Version
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Armored Assault, Mini-Game #6
by Shawn K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2011 20:22:11

I cannot recommend this supplement. The rules invite you to design your own vehicles but there is no guidance on how to assign the number of hits to each section. Also the "cost" of each provided vehicle is very low and there is no explanation as to how that value was arrived at. The rules include only five predesigned armored vehicle data sheets. It is impossible to determine how the final "cost" of each vehicle was arrived at as the component weapons and systems are each valued as more than the vehicle total. The rules do add a few new battle suit weapons and systems so that was nice but not worth the cost just for that.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Armored Assault, Mini-Game #6
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Steel and Glory, Set 2, Mini-Game #46
by Brian R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2011 15:25:36

Review: Steel & Glory Set 2, Mini-Game #46

Steel & Glory Set 2 is the first expansion for the fantasy-themed S&G game, Steel & Glory. Introduced in this set are the forces of the Elves and human Barbarians.

The units included are fairly standard fantasy fare. Elves get Bowmen, Spearmen, and a couple of stealthy types. Although they are fast, they also have slightly fewer hit points than some other creatures. Barbarians are tougher, many with charge abilities that allow them to both move and attack with one action.

The map and obstacle tiles are exactly the same as in the first set, with the exception of the Battle Tile being grass-themed instead of dirt. No reason is given as to why the obstacles are repeated. If more of any are needed, they can easily be printed up from the first set, so including them again here seems very redundant.

The 'rule book' in this set consists entirely of the scenarios from the first set being repeated. No changes, no options, just a copy/paste of that section of the rulebook. This was probably the most disappointing part of this set. It is especially perplexing considering that to use this set, you must have Set 1, which includes these scenarios.

While I do like this set, the lack of new Obstacles and Scenarios does put a damper on my enthusiasm for the new units. I feel that a little more work on each could have produced some really useful options. Overall, though, Steel & Glory Set 2 is a useful addition to the game, so grab it and start pounding on those dirty puppy-kicking Elves!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Steel and Glory, Set 2, Mini-Game #46
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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-dark-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.blogspot.com/2011/05/tommys-take-on-patriot-incident.html



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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