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THRILLING TALES: Crimson Emperor, Chapter Three
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 15:53:10

The third chapter of the Crimson Emperor adventure sees our heroes researching the mysterious Crimson Emperor and discovering that an old "friend," Sheldon Gray (from the Dragon Island adventure) is coincidentally attempting to mount an expedition to Tibet (the area where the Crimson Emperor disappeared several centuries before), in an effort to discover the Abominable Snow Man of the Himalayas. Gray, who chooses to remember the heroes positively if they have already met in the earlier adventure, invites them to accompany his expedition so they can search for clues to the elusive Emperor. The heroes sail for London to meet with Gray and the rest of the expedition and then proceed to India where they will board a plane for the Himalayas. One nice feature of the adventure at this point is that there are suggestions on how to enliven or expand the travel portions of the book to add more time and interest to the game, though little information necessary to do so is provided. As the adventurers approach their landing field the plane they are on is shot down and they are forced to crash-land on the mountain side. Meanwhile, Gray has become ill and they decide to proceed to a nearby monastery to seek shelter. Along the way, they run across mysterious tracks indicating the presence of the fabled Yeti! (Another nice touch is that for once, the GM doesn't have to railroad the players away from this mini-adventure and an appendix containing it "The Lair of the Yeti" is included in the game). The expedition takes shelter in the monastery and learn many things, including the presence of a Communist patrol seeking a strange weapon reputedly hidden in the mountains. Along the way they discover a murdered village and get captured by soldiers of the Crimson Emperor.


This particular scenario is very well written, with plenty of information allowing the NPCs to be well role-played. Likewise, there are several opportunities for the players to take more control of the course of the adventure, thus making it seem less like they are puppets on the GM's sting than is usual. While this adventure can be played as a "stand-alone," it almost cries out to be played together with Chapter Four, EVEN if it IS a stand-alone. In effect, Chapters Three and Four could be used to form a mini-campaign if the GM so desires.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Crimson Emperor, Chapter Three
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THRILLING TALES: Crimson Emperor, Chapter Two
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 15:21:43

The second part of the Crimson Emperor serial (or campaign, for those of you more used to that terminology) involves our heroes in following up some questions raised in the first part, along with the seemingly unrelated matter of the disappearance of Ms Simms, the girlfriend of a mobster killed in a recent hit. During this process they discover that some mysterious force has unified the two rival gangs in the city into cooperating together despite their long history of warring upon one another. As the adventurers unravel this puzzle, they become aware of the Scorpion Lady who is seemingly pulling their strings. Eventually, this leads to a confrontation which reveals the Scorpion Syndicate is but itself a pawn of a much larger threat in a far-away land. Along the way, the players will interrupt a drug smuggling attempt and learn the name of the Crimson Emperor while involving themselves in several gun battles in locations as diverse as a "night club" (nee brothel), a steamer, and a warehouse.


The adventure is well written, again with opportunities to do some research, plenty of action, a rescue (hopefully) of a damsel in distress, and lots of other fun, "pulpy" things to do. While somewhat linear in its nature, it should be possible for a clever GM to loosen up the order of events fairly easily. As before, with Chapter One, this one is written to either serve as a stand-alone adventure or as part of the serial. Chapter Two is more involved and complex than Chapter One was, and can serve as an excellent stand-alone adventure, especially for those whose games revolve more around crime fighting than esoterica. If played as part of the serial, the players now find themselves considered worthy foes by the Crimson Emperor and must seek to discover more about him and his machinations before it's too late.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Crimson Emperor, Chapter Two
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THRILLING TALES: Crimson Emperor, Chapter One
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 15:00:08

This particular adventure is a bit different from the usual AE Thrilling Tales adventures on two counts. First, it can be played as either a stand-alone adventure, or as part of a five section "serial" adventure -- much like a Call of Cthulhu campaign in that regard. And second, the overtly political nature of this episode sets up some potentially interesting character conflict and some unusual situations for the players. While there is still plenty of fisticuffs and opportunities for mayhem and gun battles, the players' objective this time out is a little different in that they are expected to try and preserve the life of Senator Morrison, a popular (and populist) politician along the lines of Huey Long who seeks to become President of the United States. During this adventure, the players become involved through any one (or perhaps more than one) of a series of possible intros. The upshot of all of them is that the players seeming stumble on a plot more serious than the usual political shenanigans that occur around the time of Presidential elections and involves a plot to kill the Senator. This culminates in an exciting confrontation aboard a train carrying the Senator to his next campaign stop. While the adventure is fairly simple, it does include some opportunities for investigation and information gathering, and it lays out some of the key players in the serial in some detail. As a stand-alone adventure, this one is mainly good for an evening of relatively light play, as the introductory chapter to the serial, it sets the stage for more dangerous and exciting events to follow. While most AE adventures are written in entirely too linear a form, this one has some nice features allowing it to be played more loosely and giving the players more of a feel of being in control. One problem I noted with this adventure though is the lack of specific guidance to the GM. In several cases he is simply instructed to provide information in "some other way." Not perhaps conducive to a new GM running this one! Other than that however, it is a simple, easy adventure which as a stand-alone provides a good beginners scenario and as part of the serial, sets the stage for further adventure!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Crimson Emperor, Chapter One
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Thrilling Tales 2e: The Malay Coins
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 14:23:17

This is a surprisingly good adventure, involving the players in a unique way (they have the opportunity to foil a robbery at the museum) and taking them on a world-spanning chase to recover a series of coins that lead the way to a vast treasure plundered centuries before. Along the way, they will confront the dreaded Pirate Queen of the South China Sea, and even face a group of skeleton warriors cursed long ago by one of the original owners of the treasure lost at sea. The plot mechanisms are fresh and exciting for most gamers and the touch of occult is perfect if your campaign runs that way. As usual, the adventure is easily converted to other systems and, while somewhat linear, the very nature of the coins themselves (and who has them) means that they can be sought in any order depending on the clues the players find. A worthy GM will take time to make sure that there are clues to at least one other coin in each location where a coin can be found, and will also ensure (a la Gumshoe) that the clues ARE found. The villain-ess is vile and beautiful (as all such should be) and will be a definite problem for the players, perhaps even returning in future adventures if she survives this one. There are enough plot hooks buried in the adventure to keep our players involved in the Far East for some time, if the GM so desires, and overall, this adventure is a must.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Thrilling Tales 2e: The Malay Coins
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THRILLING TALES: Dragon Island
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 13:57:14

At first glance I didn't think Dragon Island would be all that great as an adventure, however, eventually, I decided that for a buck, I couldn't go too far wrong, and so I purchased it. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The method of involving the adventurers is one that is fairly elegant and doesn't involve yet another long lost friend or lady-love popping out of the woodwork and even sets up the potential for tension within the group if you want to use it that way. The adventure itself is interesting (and includes a Zeppelin -- how do you go wrong with that?), though admittedly fairly linear again, though in this case, Adamant Entertainment provides some helpful sections on different ways the adventure could evolve and suggestions on how to play it out if the players insist on going there. Even better, there are suggestions at the end of the adventure on how to edit it or change it around with minimal fuss. Basically, the adventure begins with a world-renowned (and egotistical) explorer, Sheldon Gray setting up an expedition to a lost island in the Indian Ocean, where they will seek to find the "dragons" reported by the locals to a previous expedition. However, recent activities by Gray have created some enemies for the team, and Thugee attack as the explorers organize. Eventually the expedition lifts off in their zeppelin for the journey, arriving, eventually at the island and seeking out the natives. Unfortunately, things have changed since the first expedition and our heroes are trapped, drugged and imprisoned. After eventually escaping, they make their way to the dragon's lair and must confront the beast, perhaps winning its treasure if they are successful in their efforts. They must then seek to escape the island despite attacks from more of the dragons who seek to damage or destroy their airship. Rescue awaits though as a passing steamer bound for Bombay can pick them out of the drink if they go down. Finally, at the end of the adventure, AE has included some additional plot threads that can lead to other adventures deriving from this one. Actually, AE did themselves proud with this one and it is well worth buying. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Dragon Island
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Thrilling Tales 2e: Curse of the Jade Monkey
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 13:15:28

Another excellent little one-off by the folks at Adamant Entertainment, this one involves our heroes in an auction that goes awry over the attempt to sell the legendary Jade Monkey. In the process a beautiful woman is kidnapped and held for ransom, an attempt is made on our heroes' lives and a message is delivered, a dangerous and difficult race through China Town to solve the mystery, avoid various nefarious death traps and unravel the clues to find the hostage, and a final confrontation with the evil Dr. Sin (clearly a take-off of Dr. Fu Manchu) culminates in the final climactic scene! The adventure is pretty well plotted, though also somewhat linear in its arrangement. A clever GM will spend some time to ensure that the players can follow the clues in any order they are discovered and still reach the denouement in time to rescue the fair maiden. The confrontations are well thought out, and the Jade Monkey itself can play a role in the game. All in all this one is pretty good. And it introduces Dr. Sin (who could probably use a renaming) as a potential future villain if he survives this adventure. I liked it, and it can easily be converted to other campaigns as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Thrilling Tales 2e: Curse of the Jade Monkey
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THRILLING TALES: Lost Temple of the Incan Blood God
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 02:11:01

During this adventure, our intrepid heroes are put on the trail of a missing (and, alas, dead) friend and his daughter during the course of a Psychic seance in Chicago. As a result, they find themselves heading for South America where they will confront a mad cult of Incan priests intent on bringing their gods back to earth via the medium of human sacrifice. Unfortunately, the missing damsel in distress in the next one on the chopping block unless the players can prevent it, kill the evil high priest and possibly even find the lost treasure of the hidden city. All the while dastardly treachery lurks in the wings, ready to spring out at the moment of greatest danger!


Another very well written adventure. This one has all the classic makings of a standard pulp adventure and is well enough written to make it easy to run and modify as necessary to fit into the GM's on-going campaign. The biggest drawback is it requires the old "friend" ploy (which probably means the players have literally hundreds of previously unknown friends scattered around the globe by now), but that might still be workable if the campaign is fairly young, or if you are bringing a new player on board. Otherwise, I recommend the GM spend some time working up another way of getting the players motivated. The adventure is fairly linear, but generally that isn't a bad way to handle a pulp adventure, and there are enough potential plot hooks out there to make it possible to work other connections in the adventure. All in all, not a bad effort.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Lost Temple of the Incan Blood God
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THRILLING TALES: The Mummy's Revenge
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 01:30:50

This particular adventure sets the players up to investigate the mysterious death of an Archaeologist and the disappearance of the mummy he'd brought back to the museum in NYC. This is a pretty classic set-up and sounds less intriguing than it actually is. One of the nice features of this one is that its written so you can play it as a standard murder mystery (with the "Mummy's Curse" theme as a classic red herring to drag across the investigators' trail), or as a horror/Call of Chtulhu type adventure where things "man is not meant to know" get involved. The mystery itself (who killed the professor) is confusing enough and with enough potential suspects, all with valid motives that the biggest fan of Agatha will find themselves intrigued by the puzzle. If it turn out to be a supernatural explanation, why the mummy did it, but then the task becomes the even more daunting one of tracking down the creature and rendering it harmless. Throughout the adventure, both tracks are provided and there is a brief but well-written guide on how to run a classic mystery story at the beginning of the scenario. Overall, it's well plotted, loose enough to avoid "rail-roading" the adventurers, and complex enough to remain interesting right up to the bitter end. Among other advantages to this type of scenario, it might provide an excellent transition from the more standard mystery adventures to something with occult or supernatural tendencies. If you have run your players as, say, a firm of PIs investigating mob hits and "Maltese Falcons" and the like, this would be an superior adventure to let them glimpse things "beyond the veil." Just a thought....



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: The Mummy's Revenge
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THRILLING TALES: The Golden Idol of Sikral
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 01:18:15

Another snappy little adventure from Adamant Entertainment. (Let's face it, the cover illustration alone is worth a buck!) The papers of a deceased professor eventually enable the players to learn that he had discovered a lost civilization buried in the jungles of central America. They also learn of the golden idol these tribesman worship, and the unscrupulous nephew of the dead professor who has rushed to steal the treasure. Our doughty heroes follow after to save the tribe from the dastardly nephew. Along the way, they are captured by the tribesmen (who have been seduced by the nephew and told they are evil men trying to kill him), and are brought before the Chief of the tribe. If our heroes can confuse the issue enough, they can prevent their own deaths and undergo a test of their honesty; however the nephew may manage to force them into the old temple to overcome the hidden boobytraps and recover the golden image of the god, with the intent of stealing it from the tribe and fleeing back to civilization. Can our heroes overcome the ancient defenses of the temple and triumph? Will they prevent the nephew from stealing the idol? Only the Players can tell for sure. This particular adventure could be of great use to the GM, setting up not only an Indiana Jones style of adventure, but also perhaps even creating a villain that can appear again somewhere along the way to confront the players. I liked this one a lot.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: The Golden Idol of Sikral
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THRILLING TALES: Spears of the Tisangani
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2010 01:05:35

This particular adventure lays out a situation that involves the adventurers in a journey to Darkest Africa following the clue provided by a recently discovered map to a long-lost city deep in the wilds of the Belgian Congo. Along the way, they are repeatedly attacked, have the opportunity to rescue a princess, and become involved in a political conspiracy against the throne of the lost kingdom itself! This adventure should be very easily plugged into most campaigns and could even be used as a one-shot designed to get the Players to Africa for some other adventure as well. Even the name of the missing map (the "Marsh" Map) would work well to tie the adventure into Call of Cthulhu and the inbred degenerates from Innsmouth. Overall, the adventure is well written in the classic pulp style with plenty of confrontations and desperate escapes to keep the players heavily involved all through the adventure. One of the things I like about adventures like this is that even the "librarian" types from games like Call of Cthulhu can get involved in the action, and despite all the action, some thought (and even, perish the thought, some research can easily be incorporated into them. This one combines some political intrigue as well, making it satisfying on many levels, and perhaps gaining some allies for the adventurers in the future as well!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Spears of the Tisangani
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Thrilling Tales 2e: The Valley of Mystery
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2010 18:47:32

A typical Pulp-style adventure written in the cinematic style, the Valley of Mystery has plenty of excitement, travel, and opportunities to react with a variety of villains in order to survive the valley and escape with the knowledge of the past it promises. Along the way, you get to thwart the Nazi's, reveal a treacherous follower, and cavort with dinosaurs. What more could any red-blooded pulp hero ask? There are a couple of jarring elements in the scenario (depending on the kind of campaign you're running), but they are easy enough to weed out or change to something more suitable. Overall, its an excellent little adventure with several distinct ways to expand it and connect it to other events in your campaign. A good solid effort by Adamant Entertainment.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Thrilling Tales 2e: The Valley of Mystery
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Hard Boiled -City Tiles 1
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2010 02:48:23

This tile set by Empty Room Studios represents an Antique shop and a couple of houses, surrounded by streets and sidewalks. In addition, there is a complete basement complex that makes it look like some pretty nefarious things have been happening in the 'hood. The details are well done, with things like pillows, candy dishes, a rusted-out car, and the occasional statue of Cthulhu (at least from the look of it) scattered throughout the area. The setting is perfect for a gruesome murder (indeed, at least one has already apparently occurred), or a eldritch battle against things man was not meant to know. Empty Room uses the layering capability of Adobe to lay out the rooms and allow you to adjust or edit them as you like. Given all the extras thrown in at the end, you can easily redesign and "redecorate" the buildings as you like, ranging from the Beverly Hillbillies look all the way up to a fairly nice block of houses with an upscale shop. This one is a good one, with lots of flexibility.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hard Boiled -City Tiles 1
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Hard Boiled - The Docks
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2010 02:23:55

A great product from Empty Room Studios. Basically, this provides an entire area of docks for use with your modern era city campaign. Perfect for use with crime, pulp-era, Call of Cthulhu, horror and Supers games. As always with their materials, it includes plenty of extras and a few options that you can substitute for the features on the main tiles, and, Empty Room makes use of the "layering" function of Adobe to permit you to remove items from the areas you want to print. Thus, you can vary the warehouses from building to building, simply by carefully selecting which layers you want to print. I strongly recommend playing with this feature a bit before rushing into print, but the way -- it will give you some excellent ideas for further use of the buildings! There is guidance included on how to print, where to trim, and how to attach different sections together to complete the big picture. There are also areas where other Empty Room products (such as Dungeon Tiles or Cavern Tiles) can be attached -- perfect for those attempts to recreate the docks of haunted Innsmouth! A job well done by Empty room.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hard Boiled - The Docks
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Hard Boiled - Apartment Set
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2010 02:18:47

A very nice apartment depiction -- allowing you to quickly integrate players into a common area for a modern setting adventure (say, Call of Cthulhu), where you might need to arrange for your players to meet quickly -- how better than an apartment building where Graduate Students at Miskatonic U can stay and get acquainted? The layouts are sensible, especially for the 1920's to early 1930's period and allow players to rapidly determine where they are, and to visualize how the action is going -- even to game it out with miniatures if you are so inclined. It also provides a likely setting for murder mystery or gumshoe style event to play out -- heck, even some of the classic "Maltese Falcon" was filmed in a simple apartment like these. All in all, a very nice addition for your modern city role-playing game. As usual the data comes in layers, so you could even have one or more of the rooms completely blank, and with the extra items provided in some of the other Empty Room City Tiles sets, you could even redecorate!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hard Boiled - Apartment Set
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Hard Boiled: HMS Shearwater
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2010 02:03:47

Empty Room tries something very difficult here -- putting together a usable miniatures/Role Playing template for a modern steamer. There are a few glaring issues with the ship (which Empty Room admits right up front, but states were done in the interest of more playing surface) such as the lack of Smokestacks or funnels and scuppers and that sort of thing. But overall, they do succeed admirably. As usual, they've layered the data, and provided sufficient additional items that it ought to be possible to convert the Shearwater into a tramp steamer with a few accomodations cabins thrown in -- a la Indiana Jones. The ship would be very usable, especially for miniatures gun battles (anyone for the final confrontation scene from the novel, The Berkut? You could do it on this ship...). An excellent overall effort, all things considered, and one of the nicer touches is the "flip and fold" lifeboats and elevator -- which allow you to have some overturned lifeboats in the water if you are in the midst of ship-wrecking your adventurers, or to have someone gain access to the roof of the elevator if they need or want to. One minor quibble -- it's definitely NOT the HMS anything -- HMS was reserved for naval vessels in His Majesty's Service. Steamers of this sort were simply the "SS Whatever" (which is simply the abbreviation for "steam ship") and this product should probably be relabeled if Empty Room ever decides to re-issue it. I'd also suggest they consider adding in the smokestacks and funnels as at least optional items -- after all, how can Indiana Jones hide in one of the darn things if there AREN'T any?!?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hard Boiled: HMS Shearwater
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