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IRONCLAW: Book of Horn & Ivory
by Christopher C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2017 14:26:14

Ah, a new Iron Claw book. More animal people, new landmasses and settings to explore, and new gripes about editing.

It's Iron Claw. If you already like this system this book is worth picking up. It's not as expansive as the Book of Jade and it doesn't expand the players toolbox the same way the Book of Mysteries does, but it adds another 20 species to play with, including more birds and reptiles, and new wave of careers, with the sandout being the bomb-throwing alchemist. However the big draw is the new setting and the new Warfare system. The Warfare system simplified compared to a table top wargame, though whether you want to see that as streamlined or stripped down is up to you. However unless your playgroup is full of armchair generals who want a meaty wargame this will be plenty.

It also adds a new rule that basically boils down to a "Not Cool" card. An option rule that gives each player the power to pause the game when something in it touches a nerve. It's a neat idea, and while in an ideal world people should be able to just talk things out when something in game is making them uncomfortable, it's not hard to imagine where this rule is super helpful. We've all had jokes come out wrong, or unintentionally bring up bad memories or corss lines we didn't know were there.

That's the good: More animals, more items, artillery and warfare rules, and a big new setting.

Now the bad.

First and foremost it has all the usual Sanguine gripes. If you have any of the Iron Claw books you've seen this stuff before, though hopefully with the book still in Beta they'll fix some of them before the full release. Their habit of numbering their expansion pages as if its all one giant book makes PDF navigation a pain (this book's page 1 is number 727). But at least they're consistant there. The big editing issue is the inconsistancy with the keywords on their gifts. Some of the new elemental spells have the wrong elemental keyword in the gift's description but the correct in the attack's description. None of the new elemental spells have the Battle descriptor even though they function like battle gifts (not sure if this is a balance decision or an omission). There's also a lot of random bolding, or bolding that cuts out mid word, though that's a minor cosmetic thing.

That's all cosmetic issues though. If you've read previous Iron Claw books and are thinking about getting another one then you've already accepted these as part of the package.

Mechanically this book is really light on new Gifts. Five new spells, a pair of gifts for artillery crews, a bare-bones bard gift, a bare-bones potion making gift, an animal companion gift, five new spells, a static anti-magical creature gift, a new Blessed Path, and four new atavism gifts. That's it. For players, that's not a lot, especially when compared to the full martial arts systems of Book of Jade or the suits of spells that come out of Book of Mysteries. Now, to be fair, this isn't entirely a bad thing. The number of gifts available in Iron Claw is already staggering and Book of Horn and Ivory explicetly states you should be using stuff from the other books. With that said, it doesn't leave all that much new stuff for Players to dig into.

Also, devlopers, if you're reading this, can you answer me this: What is an Akhal-Teke? There's a gift dedicated to getting/having one and their stats are impressive, but there's no description of what they are. Their Beastary entry is more concerned with the history of the breed and their use in setting than what they look like, and for the life of me I can't find a picture of them in the book. Are they some kind of giant bird? A flying reptile like a terradon? A beetal? some kind of enchanted loaf of bread? I am confused, please help.

Overall I'd recomend this book to Iron Claw Hosts. It adds enough new systems and an expansive new setting to play around in. Already running campaigns could benifit from the warfare system and the rules for artillery crews (all the attention given to cannons makes me want to write up a pirate crew to throw at my players ASAP), while new campaigns have a 3rd region added to the list of choices. To players I'd give a more tepid recomendation. With only a handful of new gifts there isn't the meat that Book of Jade and Book of Mysteries had.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
IRONCLAW: Book of Horn & Ivory
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FARFLUNG: Sci-Fi Role-Play After Dark
by Paul O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2017 17:22:08

Thoroughly enjoyed the inventive playbooks and mechanics, but I found the layout confusing and spent a lot of time flipping back and forth trying to find where things are (Scars pool is a good example).
There's not much setting, but the playbooks are definitely worth reading if you're looking for an unconventional sci-fi game.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
FARFLUNG: Sci-Fi Role-Play After Dark
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FARFLUNG: Sci-Fi Role-Play After Dark
by Pierre S [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2017 17:02:31

Farflung RPG is a solid addition to the games using the Powered by the Apocalypse rules system. The setting is a generic madcap far-future with a long list of inspirational material given at the back such as The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy, Barbarella, and many more. Choose from 24 character types representing professions or very oddball entities of the Universe: archivists, career soldiers, energy-beings, shape-shifters, former dark "despicable" commanders of thousands of minions who have fallen on hard times, sentient spaceships and so on. All characters have standard Moves, and each character type has an additional playbook of special Moves befitting its type. If a character type has a mad power, it is balanced by limiting shortfalls in something else. There would be a lot of fun in seeing how character types will complement each other and work together, and even...fall in love? Yes, there are Moves for seduction activity, not to be blatantly sexual but possibly for the SF amusement of having a hard-bitten PC alien fall in love with a NPC gas-cloud and such. The author is getting at something like this with the game's subtitle "Sci-Fi Role-Play After Dark".

Another reviewer went into detail about the game mechanics. I will mention the organization of the book. The hardcopy is a well-manufactured hardcover. One key thing is the introduction which explains the game in 3 perspectives: if you never played an RPG, if you played a computer RPG, or if you have played other tabletop RPGs. This is good to ease beginners into this tabletop game. The Powered by the Apocalypse system gives players a lot of essential information up-front on the character sheet (and in 4 pages of "playbook" for each character type) to try to slot any conceivable action into one of their Moves, which is handled easily with a 2d6 die-roll. A good GM will still be needed to explain things to new players. I'm sure any lapses in rules procedure will be forgivable as long as players have fun with the zany, gonzo nature of the world.

Next are descriptions of the basic characteristics of the character (the 6 "quantum particle" attributes), health, points in time (History-x and Future-x points which are spent back and forth to power certain Moves) and general procedures and dice-rollings of the game. It then lists general Moves common to all players, and then an exposition of the 24 character types and their Moves. Characters can suffer "damage" in 3 types: Doing (physical), Thinking (mental) and Feeling (emotional). Depending on their character type, they have the ability to divert damage of one kind into each of the two other kinds (indicated by filling in an arrow on the health circle which is divided into 3 parts for these 3 types). Then the back half of the book gives a sampling of several types of "opponents", some notes on conducting the game, various optional rules, and the bibliography of sources of inspiration. Optional rules include the X-Card system first proposed by John Stavropoulous, which can veto GM or player actions or plot elements if a player is uncomfortable with something. I personally don't agree with this since it smacks of "snowflakeism" which clashes with RPGs where you might adventurously be called on to storm the beaches at Normandy or something.

All in all, Farflung is a PbtA system tweaked for goofy, zany far-future characters for a light-hearted time, with possibly some elements of romance if desired (which I would tend to X-Card until these are annihilated at the molecular level.)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FARFLUNG: Sci-Fi Role-Play After Dark
by Colin W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2017 09:41:09

This review originally appeared at: https://mephitjamesblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/farflung-sci-fi-rpg/

I made a really great find on DriveThruRPG the other day and thought other people might be interested. Farflung is an excellent, narrative game that combines elements of FATE Accelerated and Apocalypse World to great effect. Usually when DTRPG recommends things to me I give it a passing glance but this time I was really intrigued by what I saw and so I snatched it up.

The premise of Farflunt is to create an open-ended space opera RPG of epic scale and heroic stories. This is something right up my alley and I think it’s done in a really cool way. I’ll say up front that the layout is a little busy with bright, neon colors and lots of changing fonts. The artwork, byillustrated by Mama Bliss (NSFW) and Matt Howarth, is also a little cartoon-ish and reminiscent of Octopus Pie or PvP rather than the hyper-realistic style of, say, Wayne Reynolds. Normally I like my games clean and simple with art that doesn’t mess with my suspension of disbelief so this wasn’t my favorite opening up the pdf.

If you are also in this boat I recommend you look past that. Once you get down to brass tacks this book is actually laid out very well and there is a surreal, dreamlike quality about the artwork that really complements the book once you start in on it. While it didn’t look like the kind of game I normally love, it has quickly intrigued me and I’ve spent more and more time flipping through it. Just… you know. Fair warning.

The Attributes

Image © Sanguine Productions Ltd. The first quirky thing about Farflung that you will notice flipping through the book is the attributes. There is no Strength or Wisdom here, the attributes in Farflung are based on quarks. You heard me.

They come in pairs (just like quark flavors) which represent a subtle or forward approach to things. Each of these attributes is rated from -3 (terrible) to +3 (awesome) according to your playbook (more on that below).

Social matters are determined by your bottom and top attributes which respectively indicate a quiet approach and a loud approach (as in the bottom or top of the pecking order). Your ability to reason is split into down (working with your hands) and up (working with your mind). Finally, your general demeanor is described by charm (winning people over) and strange (freaking people out).

“Indicia” of Health

Image © Sanguine Productions Ltd. I have no idea why they chose this term (instead of the actual plural of “index”), but there are three different indices that you can suffer damage to: doing is like hit points, feeling is like social points, and thinking is like sanity. When you’re hit by something you can try to deflect harm from one track to another, but only if the damage you’re taking is indicated in your playbook (again, more later).

When any one index drops to zero you are incapacitated which means you’re out of the game for a bit. The actual result depends on which index: you might be knocked out (doing), reduced to a sobbing mess (feeling), or retreat to a fugue state (thinking). Death is rare in this game so it’s up to your group when someone actually dies.

Points in Time

Image © Sanguine Productions Ltd. Now we arrive at quirk number two. In order to power special abilities (moves) there are two pools of points to spend. Future represents amazing, nature-bending abilities that defy explanation. History represents contacts, wealth, or training that you’ve already done in the past. They’re weird names but they make sense as the two halves of characters’ moves in this epic game: you can either bank on cool new stuff or plan for eventualities.

You spend points when a move tells you to ante it, and the individual move will tell you what happens after that (you might lose it, get it back, or move it someplace else). Sometimes these future and history points end up in other pools such as eternal or battered which ties up your points from being used for other moves.

Connections

Image © Sanguine Productions Ltd. Your character comes with a handful of connections as well which give you some ability to customize the character outside of the playbook you choose.

Your connection to other players’ characters allows you to give them inspiration while your connection to NPCs allows you to give them orders. Your connection to knowledge allows you to reveal new stuff as does your connection to gear. Lastly, your connection to organizations lets you order things too like requisitioning stuff or calling for a special mission.

Connections are measured by ratings that start at 1 and go up from there. You get these from your playbook but you also can gain increases during play. You can lose points too, though, and if a connection drops to zero then you lose the connection (the person stops talking to you, the gear breaks or is lost, the group blacklists you, etc).

Taking Action

Image © Sanguine Productions Ltd. There’s a great introduction to taking actions here that can apply to all RPGs (putting things like dominating the table into focus and explaining why sometimes you roll and other times you don’t worry about it) but I’ll skip that for now. You don’t roll against a target number in this system; like FATE you roll 2d6 and see what the sum is. You can achieve nothing (6 or lower), get a weak success (7-9), get a strong success (10-12), or a grand success (13+).

To this roll, of course, you add your modifier (which might be negative) based on your attributes and connections, and there might also be situational penalties to make it harder. The GM might also require a minimum level of success to achieve what you want, such as saying that the security system is top of the line so you have to get at least a strong success.

There are moves in all the playbooks but there is also a list of Common Moves that everyone can do. Assault (based on Strange) is your standard attack action and Schmooze (based on Charm) is your standard social roll. There isn’t really a defense roll (to keep your secrets or avoid being hit) you just have to modify the other person’s roll. Avoid (based on Bottom) is stealthing around, Block (based on Top) is taking a hit for someone, Lore (based on Down) is knowledge checks, Reveal (based on your a connection and requiring Future points) pulls out the perfect item, and Scope (based on Up) is insight and perception rolled together.

Image © Sanguine Productions Ltd. In addition there are Support Moves which allow you to help out others. Inspiration (based on a connection) can boost another player character’s roll after the fact, Prepare (based on whatever makes sense) lets you buff someone’s roll before they try it, and Order (based on your connection and requiring you move a Future point to History) let’s you direct your NPC companions or allies around.

One really cool thing is that there are tactical mechanics with all of these rolls, affecting subsequent and preceding rolls. For example, when you use Assault and you get a strong success then you get +3 to Assault if you do that next. Likewise, when you Scope a situation or person you ask a question of the GM and then gain +1 to your next action if it’s based on the answer.

Playbooks There is just so much in these playbooks that I can’t shoehorn it into a review with the rest of the book. That means you can look forward to next time! Check out Farflung if this review strikes your fancy and if you get itthere will still be something for you next time since you can focus on my analysis of each playbook. Let me know in the comments if you have further questions about the game or if you already have Farflung and want to share admiration, criticism, or confusion!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
URBAN JUNGLE - Anthropomorphic Noir Role-Play
by Ben T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/23/2016 18:33:50

Surpised nobody has written a review for this yet.

A nice, solid update to the Ironclaw system. Combat feels much more lethal then in Ironclaw, given the subject matter I like the trait system, reminds me of the adjective system from Numenera/The Strange/Cypher System, and I think it adds a lot. Skill bloat seems tamed, what you did with SOAK was amazing, effectively adding conditional Deus ex machinas to explain why the shotgun didn't leave you a ragged mess. You need it. The surgery rules where a nice added touch on how deadly the world is, with the surgeons fighting the DM on who finished up the "Life/Death" bar first.

Kind of biting at the bit for the Occult/Lovecraft sourcebook, urban fantasy is my thing, and with the Sci-FI and Horror ones coming up after, this is a system that can only grow!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
URBAN JUNGLE - Anthropomorphic Noir Role-Play
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ALBEDO: PLATINUM CATALYST + STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY [Legacy]
by William H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2016 02:14:59
Disclaimer:

I'm a fan of the setting and of the other Albedo game... so my expectations are built around that.

The Sanguine Game

The system is largely the same as the other games by Sanguine. They use skill driven rolls, multiple sets of standard polyhedrals needed, and attributes as a pool of bonuses. Their unusual mechanics make this game a hard sell for many on a mechanical basis. They do have a good variety of types, and some others can be ported in from the other games.

The Sanguine Approach to the Setting

Sanguine chose to take an "Active Duty EDF Officer" approach, and an "Active Wartime" approach. This is somewhat different than the prior game, and not quite the take most players I have managed to get to play in the setting liked. That said, it's not a totally wild hair, either - the cold war in the comics between the EDF and the ILR was bound to boil over again, and that's where they took it. There is no support for civilian PC's, but it's not hard to add it. The game is focused on small unit military actions, most likely against the ILR. (Independent Lapine Republic - yes, Rabbits are the bad-guys.) It's well suited for such games, and reads very much like a minitures combat ruleset. The lack of space ship rules is also a problem - I was hoping there would be ship rules, but there are not, unlike the older game; the main characters in the comics are space forces officers...

The PDF itself

The PDF version is the full text of both books, in what looks to be OEF for the core, and scanned and OCR for the second. There are no bookmarks, no covers, and no hotlinking. Usable, searchable, but not to the standard I've come to expect from the industry. Further, it's a single PDF of both volumes, not a bundle.

The price

Given that the Magenta game is essentially the same mechanics , with Mr. Gallachi's IP removed, and is "Pay what you want," $15 seems a bit steep. Value for money? iffy.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
ALBEDO: PLATINUM CATALYST + STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY [Legacy]
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IRONCLAW: Book of Adventures
by Layne G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/07/2016 00:32:01

a usefull and good book, but the whole dang PDF is out of order and unreadable as it is! guys fix this!!!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
IRONCLAW: Book of Adventures
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MYRIAD ALIENS - Even Stranger Options for Role-Play Adventure
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2016 05:53:38

I don't know what sort of issue Robert H. had, but he should check his downloads again.

The book is provided with the front and back covers as .jpg files and the interior as a .pdf. Kind of odd packaging, but all the content is there.

It also continues Sanguine's weird page numbering, as if this can be inserted into an omnibus edition without renumbering pages. Not a problem really, but if you're unfamiliar with their practice it's kind of jarring to see the book start with page 279.

The alien races are neat, and some are pretty weird, so if you're looking for more options for Myriad Song characters it's quite handy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MYRIAD ALIENS - Even Stranger Options for Role-Play Adventure
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Magenta
by Timothy C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2016 19:07:33

This is, in essence, Albedo: Platinum Catalyst sanitized of its anthropomorphic nature--understandably, of course, in the desire to make a more generic system with broader market appeal. Otherwise it's identical, which leads to the inconsistencies and incompatibilities with the real, human world that other reviewers have commented on. Their aim for "realism" comes mostly from the fact that rather than psychological trauma being either a near-inevitable erosion of mental fortitude or simply nonexistent, it's a constant grind that works more or less like physical health--I quite like that mechanic.

The document itself shows that they didn't take much care with it. The formatting is poor on the PDF readers I use, with heading fonts in particular cutting themselves off because they were originally written for a shorter font. The tables are image cut-and-pasted from Albedo, and retain the errata from that book. Everything's there, though, and it's usable.

This is donationware, so one does get what one pays for. A quick pass back through the fonts and some table corrections would definitely make it worth the five-buck average it's going for as of this writing.

As it stands, I'd use this particular product mostly for mechanics and a very rough guideline for homebrew versions, especially when it comes to character creation, setting, and actual ranks and whatnot. SPI/RQI makes sense in Albedo, not so much in any realistic military setting.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Magenta
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MYRIAD SONG - Role-Play Adventure of Ten Thousand Worlds
by Josh S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2015 22:26:57

If you're fan of Moebius, Jodorowsky, Heavy Metal, or Jack Kirby's trippy space gods work, you're going to love Myriad Song's setting. The system itself is a nice mix of indie-story-driven rules and crunchy options for those that like to deck out there character sheet in stats. It does a great job of balancing the free-form RPG styles like FATE and the Cypher System with more rules heavy systems like D&D and Pathfinder. In short, something for everyone.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
MYRIAD SONG - Role-Play Adventure of Ten Thousand Worlds
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MYRIAD ALIENS - Even Stranger Options for Role-Play Adventure
by Robert H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2015 13:36:08

I bought this product on sale, $9.95, instead of the $19.95 price. For the $9.95 price you get only the front and back cover and not the 32 page interior.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
MYRIAD ALIENS - Even Stranger Options for Role-Play Adventure
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Ironclaw Book of Fools
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2015 12:34:07

This is not an adventure, but a set of character classes (so to speak) of various varieties of clowns, jesters, amusers and troublemakers. Not likely to be used in combat heavy situations, but very good for social, political situations. Even possibly as a sidekick..



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ironclaw Book of Fools
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Ironclaw Book of Fools
by John P. I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2015 15:03:51

An excellent addition to the game, especially if you have a player crazy enough to get serious mileage out of goading opponents. My test run with a party had a haranguer that was almost game-breaking in his ability to cause disruption. It was most entertaining.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
IRONCLAW: Preview
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2015 14:09:26

I was very surprised at how much information was given in this preview. Basically you could make characters and go ahead and play them. You do not get the whole list of possible characters, and while the world map is given, you don't have the full details of the culture etc., but you are given far more than I expected. I had the original edition, and can see how much has been smoothed out and simplified.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
IRONCLAW: Preview
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MYRIAD SONG - Role-Play Adventure of Ten Thousand Worlds
by Matt W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2015 12:59:27

A thoughtful, clever game that feels to me a bit like if Guardians of the Galaxy were a Don Bluth cartoon from the 1980s. It offers a sort of combine-three-things character creation that still provides variety, an easy-to-understand dice pool mechanic, and the opportunity for all kinds of interstellar hijinks.

The galaxy is in chaos because the all-powerful domineering Syndics mysteriously vanished, leaving ten thousand other intelligent species wondering, "well, huh, we're free, now what?" Numerous factions have risen up, each with its own unique agenda, and the characters typically find themselves in the middle of it all.

Character creation is mostly a matter of picking from a few templates (species, career) that provide a set of abilities, and then you can fine-tune a bit. While that might sound a bit constraining, I would guess without doing the math that there are more than a thousand different species/upbringing/career combinations, and with the fine-tuning, you won't find two characters who seem anything alike. Starting characters by default are competent but not unstoppable. Optional rules include suggestions on how to create more/less powerful characters, too.

The core game mechanic, if you aren't familiar with Sanguine's other games, is basically a dice pool where you count successes, and the difficulty will tend to require 1-3 successes depending on if it's something anyone/a professional/an expert could do.

There's some assumption that characters will find themselves in violent situations, and so the rules provide quite a bit of information about combat and fighting. Instead of something like "hit points" the game uses a wound-levels approach more like the old Star Wars D6 game, but with some clever updates that encourage teamwork and cooperation.

Possibly my favorite thing about the game is the experience/reward system, where characters write down goals, and when they're accomplished the GM gives them "gifts", abilities appropriate to a) how they accomplished the goal, and b) how hard it was to do it. Gifts somewhat resemble feats from D&D3+ and can provide extra dice, contacts, psychic abilities, you name it. Seems like a really good way to encourage communication between player and GM about the characters.

The only thing I wish the game had, and perhaps I missed it, is some advice on how the characters and their goals might evolve over time, for example from scrappy scoundrels who want to get paid, to dashing heroes who want to protect the galaxy from a deadly menace. An experienced group could probably figure that out no problem, but this game might also appeal to inexperienced younger gamers who could use the advice.

I also kind of wish there were a less expensive print option available here besides full color hardback.

That said, the creators of the game are tremendously supportive and can't wait to offer assistance if you find yourself confused. If you're interested in some colorful hijinks on strange worlds with seriously endless opportunities, you might like this game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
MYRIAD SONG - Role-Play Adventure of Ten Thousand Worlds
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