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Cult of the Eternal Void (M&F/Legend)
by Kenneth S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2014 02:41:28

Such a disappointment.
Right from the beginning, as I started reading, I could see this was going to be rough.
The writing feels bloated, to the point that much of it is a nonsensical word salad. Here's an example:
"The cult as a whole can seem quite chaotic as different factions, which in their own right are cults according to the Magic & Flintlock rulebook, make up the entire makeup of the group. These factions have their own hierarchies and belief structures that seem to be independent but as a whole make up belief in the void that the higher tiers of the cult make sure all believe in."
I get the gist but geez what a scrambled way of saying it! And the whole book is like that!
Add in typos and dropped words... it's a challenge to read and gets frustrating.


The author also has a tendency to wallow in minutia... too many details about things that aren't that interesting or unique and probably won't come up in actual play.
Overall I felt that a good editor could have whittled this book down by at least half just by cleaning up the text and cutting out the extraneous bits.


Now, what we get for plowing through this mess isn't particularly interesting or inspired.
The Backgrounds and Occupations just seem shoveled in because they ought to be there... such as the Devoted Cultist:
"These devoted people rely so heavily on what others teach them that they often accept teachings with almost blind faith without researching it themselves."
Isn't that pretty much the definition of the average cult member? I don't see how it becomes a Profession or how it relates to this cult in particular.


I was drawn to this product by the suggestion of a bizarre cult that worships a chaotic void of darkness. An outer THING that wants to dismantle reality.
But this cult just doesn't seem all that chaotic or strange. It's just evil... and a very bland generic sort of evil at that. If I didn't assume better I'd think it was all rolled up on some huge chart of Evil Cult Attributes.
There's no consistent theme at all... it's just a random assortment of evil bits strung together.
A lot of the descriptions of the cult infighting and recruiting methods come off as very mundane. The cultists themselves seem like no more than petty bureaucrats fighting over pencils...
The Void Gods are just your average destructive demon lords... thriving on fear and suffering. One lies a lot, one likes tempting people into bad choices, one likes watching things burn. Very ho-hum. No real discussion of how they relate to each other or how they function as part of the larger Void.
The new spells are a similar batch of uninspired 'black magic'. None seem particularly unique or flavorful or scary. Spells coming from the Eternal Void ought to be scary, right?
The Void Creatures are the same... mutated humans and animals with 'Void' in their names but no cohesive aesthetic or concept.


Now... it's obvious that a good bit of work went into this. It's 44 pages long not counting the OGL page. There's a good amount of content... backgrounds, professions, gods, spells, monsters.
It looks decent, the illustrations are capable... the layout is quite standard and works well.
Even though I was disappointed by the book... it's nothing like I'd hoped it would be... and I don't think there's much here that's all that inventive or unique... it's still a detailed write-up of an evil cult... and that's gotta be worth something.
I'd never use it as is... and I think the writing is atrocious... but I'm sure there is some gold in there somewhere worth salvaging.
One good thing about it all being so generic in flavor is that most of the parts can slide right into some other purpose.
I might use some of the monsters... maybe one of those Void Gods could show up sometime... new spells are new spells even if they're not all that exciting... I can use them to pad out some sorcerer's Grimoire.
With a bit of creative interpretation and re-contextualization I'm sure I can get my money's worth out of this book.
Heck, it might be just the sort of thing someone else is looking for... though I can't see anyone loving the wordplay.
So I give it a solid 2... really a 3 if it were just a bit less annoying to read.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Cult of the Eternal Void (M&F/Legend)
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Magic & Flintlock
by Mark N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2014 14:54:07

Ron Edwards describes a certain type of game as a heartbreaker - lots of enthusiasm by the writers but a product that is ultimately flawed. Magic & Flintlock (M&F) is probably one to add to his already extensive list. D100 games have been around the block a bit and my favourite implentations are Open Quest which is fairly generic fantasy and Renaissance, which develops Open Quest but is tailored to a specfic setting, England during the Civil War. Most significantly, Renaissance drops the standard D100 magic system (comprising divine, sorcery and battle magic) in favour of Alchemy and Witchcraft.


M&F takes the Renaissance SRD and adds in the magic system used by Legend, with a few new tweaks to it. Legend is another D100 system, this time using divine, sorcery and spirit magic. So this means M&F more or less adds back in the system dropped by Renaisance in the first place. It is IMHO a strange decision to take the Renaissance SRD as a starting point... especially because the re-editing of the SRD is poor. There are several references to things which are unique to Renaisance and which should have been dropped from M&F. One glaring example is in the references to Alchemists and their pursuit of the Philosopher's stone - a key part of Renaissance magic system but not supported in M&F. In general, the author claims that his intent is to produce a generic game, but too many elements remain that smack of the English Civil War game it derives from.


There are some useful looking additions, rules for ships and enchantments for example. This is is the only thing that stopped me giving M&F a lower rating. At the moment this game has the appearance of being the result of some decent house-rules being cut and paste into an SRD in a hurry. This might do for distribution to a gaming group. It does not however look like a significant enough change to warrant commercial publication.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Magic & Flintlock
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Undead Evolution Series: Skeletons and Zombies Combo Pack (PFRPG)
by Mikael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2013 05:04:55

Very basic layout on par with the unispired ideas presented in this product. Interesting idea but better executed elsewhere.
Not much else to say about this substandard product.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Undead Evolution Series: Skeletons and Zombies Combo Pack (PFRPG)
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Arkham Case Files: Deep Morgue
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/07/2012 07:52:15

Originally posted at: http://diehar-
dgamefan.com/2012/11/07/tabletop-review-arkham-case-files-de-
ep-morgue-call-of-cthulhu/


Call of Cthulhu may have a very easy system to learn and play, but it’s not the easiest system to write for. Things like Pagan Publishing’s Bumps in the Night and Modiphius’s Achtung! Cthulhu left something to be desired. Even things published directly by Chaosium can be less than impressive. Just look at Ghosts in the House.


Now this doesn’t mean that all third party Call of Cthulhu publishers do a bad job with the license. Goodman Games’ Age of Cthulhu adventures are always top notch. Arc Dream’s The Unspeakable Oath magazine is a lot of fun (when it comes out). Hebanon Games puts out some great adventures and of course there is always Cubicle 7′s Cthulhu Britannica line.


I bring all this up because today I’m looking at a newcomer to the Call of Cthulhu system: Solace Games and their first adventure, Arkham Case Files: Deep Morgue. The name implies that this is the first in a series of adventures. Unfortunately, while the adventure uses the mechanics behind the Call of Cthulhu system nicely, the adventure itself is an example of what happens when you don’t have some pretty intense Lovecraft fans vetting out what gets published. The end result is something more Resident Evil than you would expect (or want) from a Call of Cthulhu adventure . By that I mean it’s very combat oriented and there’s not a lot of investigating. This will turn out a lot of long time Call of Cthulhu fans, as will the VERY different take on Deep Ones that will have most that get this adventure scratching their head and wondering if anyone at Solace Games has ever read The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The take on Deep Ones is more a mix of a Wight (anything killed by it rises as a weird waterlogged undead creature) and an Eveil Larry Talbot as its main impetus is to try and be turned human. As I’ve said, Deep Morgue really feels like the team behind it have never read anything by Lovecraft or his contemporaries and it’s a little bit insulting in that regard. If you’re a purist you’ll want to stay well away from this adventure.


Now that said, if you’re looking for something that feels more like a survival horror video game, Deep Morgue isn’t a bad adventure and well worth the two dollar price. Sure there are still some problems, like a lack of motivation for the primary antagonist other than the “I want to be human again” thing which doesn’t hold water, or the fact the adventure expects the Keeper to make up a plot hook as to why the adventurers are in this little backwater town, but those are things that a good Keeper can fix and/or fill in. The adventure is well laid out and the setting of a morgue filled with zombies is creepy, if not cliché. The maps are really, REALLY terrible, but the artwork is incredibly good for a budget indie piece. I’m not sure how one can be so good why the other is nothing more than badly scratched out lines on a page. Next time I hope they get the interior artist to do the maps as what’s here just wouldn’t cut it for anything professionally published.


The story is pretty cut and dry. The Investigators are in the small town of Newburyport for whatever reason when they get a mysterious phone call from an anonymous stranger telling them to go to investigate the town morgue as strange goings-on are afoot. The problem with this is twofold. The first is that somehow the Investigators are “known” figures, which rarely ever happens in a Call of Cthulhu campaign. This isn’t Ghostbusters after all. The second is that although the adventure doesn’t specifically list a time period, it would have to be in the 1990s or modern era as how else is a person going to get a random call from a mysterious stranger (plus one NPC has computer use as a skill, so that kind of defines the era even if the adventure doesn’t specifically list the time period, which is sloppy). Maybe in the 1920s if someone calls a hotel room, but that’s just going to stretch believability even further as how would someone know who they are, what room they are in and that they have ties to anything supernatural or occultish? There’s no Keeper’s section to give the person running the adventure any background knowledge so they are just as much in the dark as the players. This is another one of those things where you have to wonder if they people at Solace have ever played Call of Cthulhu are aren’t thinking of something like Chill because this just doesn’t fit the game setting at all. Thankfully this can easily be reworked by a quality Keeper for a more ominous feel as well as one where the players don’t have some weird reputation.


From there the players go to the morgue and fight a lot of monsters. There are ten zombies, one Deep One and one “cultist” in this small adventure. For a game that emphasizes hack and slash, that’s not so bad. For Call of Cthulhu? That’s an insane amount of monsters to have to deal with and all but guarantees a TPK for most troupes that play through this. Ouch. Again, Solace wrote this for a survival horror audience and combat oriented characters, but the former isn’t what people look for (or want) in a Call of Cthulhu adventure and the latter doesn’t happen that often because character tend to be middle aged librarians or door to door salesman instead of Chris Redfield or Lara Croft.


Overall, I’m going to be VERY KIND here and give this a thumb’s in the middle. For the first CoC offering by a very small indie startup company, this isn’t horrible. The art is good, the premise of the adventure is sound and the layout is well done. The scripting of the adventure is pretty terrible though, as are both the feel and tone. A little more mystery, a little less hack and slash. A little more storytelling, a little less forcing the Keeper to fill in the blanks. Most of all, a little more thought regarding why people play Call of Cthulhu and the type of adventures they actually play the system for. If Solace Games can keep all of that in mind, their second CoC offering should be a LOT better than their first. There’s promise here, but not a lot of follow through.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Arkham Case Files: Deep Morgue
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Spacemaster: Datanet #2
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2010 23:54:19

A variety of excellent resources - both thoroughly reliable and imaginative enough to inspire many new ideas for adventures - for any reasonably hard SF system. This really is a lot of research for the price asked. 4.5 stars



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spacemaster: Datanet #2
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Spacemaster: Datanet #3
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2010 23:46:21

This issue covers the single, though important, subject of creating alien species and cultures in two parts, firstly in concept, then Spacemaster statistics.


The first, systemless section covers a number of broad questions through the example of a species of photosynthetic turtle-people, illustrating how a slightly odd concept carries through to modify the usual assumptions, with good consideration of alien psychology, nonhuman culture and, just as importantly, why a GM might want to maintain a light hand on such potentially baffling subjects for game purposes.


The statistics-based section had in places a slightly questionable balance of techniques, from my reading, with some frankly odd ideas - rules for soul departure? To be fair, I haven't tried using these rules to construct a Spacemaster species and can't speak for how the total result would balance out in play.


In total, an excellent conceptual source.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spacemaster: Datanet #3
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10 Million Ways To Die
by Dave H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2008 10:56:51

This is a very neat little rolemaster add on. It gives you lots of bits and pieces for a modern rolemaster campaign. It might be useful to add criticals and weapons to other systems. A must for the Rolemastered.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Million Ways To Die
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Cyradon Gazetteer
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2008 11:03:04

Nice addition to the Cyradon main book, with some cool new locations and details to the HARP default setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cyradon Gazetteer
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HARP Martial Law PDF
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/06/2008 23:42:04

A average product; good production values, but the efforts to add additional aspects to the system end in greater complexity with no great result. The body-location system is especially inadaquate.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
HARP Martial Law PDF
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Weapon Law: Firearms
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2008 12:44:41

Great product. With this, Arms Law/Armory, and Blaster Law, you can handle any combat from Rome to Star Wars. I would recommend getting the Equipment Guide for several high-tech weapons charts, and Vehicle Law for their vehicle combat system as well.


One compliant: FA is not fully compatable with Blaster Law's armor. It would be nice if it could be adjusted.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weapon Law: Firearms
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The Armory PDF
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2008 12:38:16

A solid addendum to Arms law, adding Asian weapons both real and Hollywood, specific Euro polearms, and some other odds and ends of weapons which really open up the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Armory PDF
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Spacemaster Equipment Manual PDF
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2008 12:35:57

This product consists of 129 pages with the clean set-up and quality interior line-art common to ICE products. It spends the first 30-odd pages laying out the writer’s concepts of the various stages of tech development and social evolution (a good deal of the latter being rather asinine or wildly optimistic, and which certainly would cripple RPG use, but then, ICE has always been good with systems, terrible with settings).


The next twenty-odd pages cover weapons and armor, somewhat redundant if you have Blaster Law, largely useless if you do not.


At p.55, you start getting into equipment, specifically clothing. Equipment is broken down into general categories, with each item described, plus a handy table listing items and prices. I would have preferred that the list be at the start of each section, but that is not a large issue.


After thirty pages of equipment (less than they spent discussing the evolution of technology from the rock to FTL, and the rise of society from killing each other with rocks, to killing ach other with blasters), we go to Section IV: Using Equipment. This covers using designing, building, malfunctions, and repairing equipment. This requires 12 pages, including the usual full-page charts.
At p.99 we go to the Appendixes, which include the usual information on how to convert the stats given t other systems, and a collection of critical hit results, some of which are rather useful, and some which can be found in other ICE supps. On p.105 we get weapons pages ala Arms Law for such high-tech weapons as the battle axe, broadsword, and club. Fortunately they do go to some advanced tech weapons such as the needler, flamer, and the like, which are extremely useful.


The supp closes with a re-print of all the equipment tables, and an index, both of which are useful.


Overall, a solid piece of work. There are weapon tables here you will not get in Blaster Law, and the equipment is fist-rate. I would like to drop about 15-20 pages of ‘what the writers think tech/society will be’ in favor of more equipment, but with ICE, you have to accept a certain amount of wastage.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spacemaster Equipment Manual PDF
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Arms Law (2003 version) PDF
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2008 22:29:05

You can't go wrong with ICE. Arms Law is the best hit point-based system on the market.


Since I need 50 characters to post this, I'll say it again:


You can't go wrong with ICE. Arms Law is the best hit point-based system on the market.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Arms Law (2003 version) PDF
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Spacemaster Blaster Law PDF
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2008 22:25:16

Solid. That said, while this has combat rules and illustrations, be advised that it is a combat system, rather than a dedicated weapons listing, and is, like Arms Law, strongly generic in flavor. This is very good, but its important to know beforehand.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spacemaster Blaster Law PDF
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Rolemaster Classic: Creatures & Treasures
by Dave H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2008 20:29:36

This is a very nice revision of the classic Creatures and Treasures supplement for Rolemaster. Rolemaster Classic for those who are wondering is Rolemaster 2nd edition with minor updates. It is well worth the entry price for new folk and worth buying for old salts who have fallen away from Rolemaster since the Red Book Blue Book days. So this is the monster part of the system and the best of the revised pieces so far. The art work is really darn good. There are new Creatures and new treasures in addition to the old classics. If you Rolemaster buy this book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rolemaster Classic: Creatures & Treasures
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