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THRILLING TALES: Zeppelin Adventures
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/01/2010 17:41:40
Well, that pisses me off! I just finished writing a thorough and articulate review of this thing only to have the web page delete it. Rather than go back and try to recreate it (your loss, DriveThru), I'll just hit the high points:

Scenarios -- sort of dull and ho-hum -- failed to live up to their promise, despite enough wrinkles to potentially make them truly awesome. Too regimented and requires the players to follow the script pretty closely to have any possibility of winning (or, in at least one case, even surviving) the scenarios. Yes, I know this is pulp, and we're supposed to give them the chance to overwhelm fate with their two good fists, but the scenarios require more work from the GM than they should have to make that happen. Plus too many opportunities to explore other facets of the scenarios were ignored in pushing the players towards the desired conclusion -- especially in the second scenario.

Graphics -- disappointing, few illustrations of the zeppelins and most of those too small to read without a magnifying glass (thank God for the zoom button on Adobe); plus in at least one case it looks like a simple reproduction of what Chaosium originally published in their first edition of Call of Cthulhu back in the 80's. Several of the pictures and maps were pixilated as well, making them harder to read than they should have been.

Technical Content -- overall excellent -- the authors provided statistics and brief descriptions of most of the rigid airships of the day, as well as additional aircraft and weapons from the '30's including the German "potato masher" hand grenade and various machine-pistols and rifles of the era.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Zeppelin Adventures
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Book of Secrets
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/01/2010 15:48:15
Absolutely brilliant. This is the kind of thing that I wish I'd had 20 years ago! I hope they'll do more of these kinds of prop builders in the future. Mind you, I built some mean matchbooks and other things back in the day -- learned a lot about how to "forge" old looking documents along the way! But this is really helpful. The layering allows you to select from several different texts and symbols as well as a couple of paper types and a few "spatters" (of blood and less identifiable fluids) as well as a really cool hand print. All in all you can create some truly excellent prop books, focusing, admittedly, primarily on the "grimoire" school of book writing. However, if you use just the paper types, you could easily create a blank looking journal (with a suitable blood spatter here and there) and write in the text yourself (perhaps copying from some other player handout from a campaign or scenario you are running). All in all, this is a truly useful product -- and the "instructable" in the back on how to make a hard-back book is excellent to -- and should give you some excellent ideas for additional books as required. (There's a whole web site of instructables out there -- even one on how to build a real secret room, if you want to take your prop building THAT far!)

As usual Empty Room Studios took excellent advantage of the capabilities of Adobe Acrobat Reader -- the layers allow you to create roughly 32 different kinds of covers for the book alone and if you use all the different texts and symbols and paper types and spatters, you can probably create several hundred different pages of text and symbols. The only thing that would have made this better is allowing you to type in your own text and THEN print, though if you have an old manual typewriter at your disposal (especially a non-electric one), then you can do some pretty cool work anyway.

DriveThru did their usual exceptional job of reproducing this one (though in the case of Empty Room products, I'm pretty sure it came that way), and overall I'm going to rate this one a "5" (even though I never give play aids anything higher than a "4") simply due to its incredible flexibility and usefulness. Good job!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Secrets
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Hard Boiled - City Tiles 3
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/01/2010 15:18:09
I ran across the Hard Boiled series purely by accident, and I must say it is an impressive bit of work. They take full advantage of the capabilities of Adobe Acrobat to layer information on their maps. Heck you can even turn the background (that is, the underlying map itself) on and off! In this particular map pack, they even have a secret staircase you can turn on and off.

An extra addition that is amazing (though also amazingly large) is the .TIFF files they provide, allowing you to print the maps on a truly large scale and still receive the pixel definition that makes them look almost perfect. All in all, this is an amazing player aid. Over time I am gradually purchasing all of their 20th century stuff for use in an on-going Call of Cthulhu campaign, and even their "Base Sets" will seemingly come in handy.

Between the City streets, the Docks, The Shearwater, The Church (and graveyard), the Apartments, a rumored soon-to-be produced Airport, and this one, we have a steadily growing cityscape we can use to depict our adventures in urban areas in the roaring 20's and two-fisted '30's. Now if we can just talk them into doing a subway and sewers set and a skyscraper or two, we'd have just about everything we need!

DriveThru did their usual excellent job of reproducing the material and it was easy to use and download. Of course, as usual, this is merely a player aid, so I'll only give it a "4" overall due to the lack of detail that you need to fully flesh it out -- but if I could rate player aids on a different scale from everything else, this one would probably earn a "6!" :-)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hard Boiled - City Tiles 3
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Hard Boiled - City Tiles 3
by jeff m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2010 02:51:55
I ran across these pulp styled adventure tiles the other day at RPGNOW.
They are a great resource for any Pulp game. Of course they could be easily used for just about any modern/supers/horror setting as well but they're gonna be used for Pulp (specifically Dicey Tales) here at the Lair!
I bought Craven Manor and The Docks set. The dock set printed up beautifully. they look like they come straight out of an old Robert Mitchum movie like Macau. The PDF's are layered for complete customization. they also include a nice set of crates and cars and furnishings. Both of these tile sets are packed with value and as your going through them your mind will just start coming up with adventures to use them with on the spot. Did I mention that the manor set has a hidden laboratory and cells for prisoners? well it does!
I have plans for both of these set and for the Rumored "Airfield" set that is supposed to see release soon- till then check out what this line has to offer.
Two thumbs up from The Evil DM!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Hard Boiled - The Docks
by jeff m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2010 02:49:52
I ran across these pulp styled adventure tiles the other day at RPGNOW.
They are a great resource for any Pulp game. Of course they could be easily used for just about any modern/supers/horror setting as well but they're gonna be used for Pulp (specifically Dicey Tales) here at the Lair!
I bought Craven Manor and The Docks set. The dock set printed up beautifully. they look like they come straight out of an old Robert Mitchum movie like Macau. The PDF's are layered for complete customization. they also include a nice set of crates and cars and furnishings. Both of these tile sets are packed with value and as your going through them your mind will just start coming up with adventures to use them with on the spot. Did I mention that the manor set has a hidden laboratory and cells for prisoners? well it does!
I have plans for both of these set and for the Rumored "Airfield" set that is supposed to see release soon- till then check out what this line has to offer.
Two thumbs up from The Evil DM!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hard Boiled - The Docks
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Imperial Age Magick
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2010 05:00:04
Provides a campaign-building resource with several different, sound-looking options for more limited magic, along with historical notes, references, miscellaneous period flavour and campaign suggestions.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Imperial Age Magick
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Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds)
by Katrina R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2010 07:15:41
This is an amazing book that is a must have for Savage Worlds Pulp. Not only does it give you all the information you need to run a pulp flavored game, but it also gives a large amount of info on the 1930's themselves. The section on 1930 styles cars and the bullet pointed list of historical events of the 1930s were especially useful.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds)
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THRILLING TALES: Gamemaster's Guide to Pulp Adventure
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2010 19:18:41
I picked this up to give me some ideas on running pulp-content scenarios in my Call of Cthulhu campaign. I wan not disappointed. This is an excellent summation with enough information to permit the GM to run pulp style adventures for just about any system, and the scenario generator, though a bit mechanistic, does allow the GM to create a basic outline which he can then flesh out with as many plot twists and turns as he has time to develop.

The essay on why Pulp is not a "genre," while interesting, used space that could have been better spent elsewhere. Frankly I don't care as much whether my label usage is "correct" as I do about the nuts and bolts of running an adventure. Perhaps replacing this with more information on the Cliffhanger style of play or a more in depth discussion of how to create fleshed out scenarios using the scenario generator (such as clue placement, etc, etc) might have been a better use of the time and space.

As usual, DriveThru did a bang-up job reproducing the document and I had no problems with legibility or bleed through or anything like that. I'll give this one a good, solid "4."

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Gamemaster's Guide to Pulp Adventure
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THRILLING TALES: Suddenly...Encounters
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2010 19:05:00
Actually, I got this for some ideas on things I could do to spice up my Call of Cthulhu campaigns (my group tends to be more adventurous than the stereotypically pedantic "Investigators" that CoC tends to focus on).

I was very pleasantly surprised. The material is descriptive enough by its nature to not be limited to the Thrilling Tales game or D20 system. The materials is complete and provides enough of a feel for the events (and some possible motivations and outcomes) that it is very easy to place them in any system. All in all, it was a surprisingly good job of providing some one-off encounters with ramifications beyond the expected for the players.

As usual, DriveThru's reproduction of the material was exceptional. All things considered, this one clearly deserves a "4."

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Suddenly...Encounters
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The Imperial Age: True20 Edition
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2010 12:28:09
True 20 is becoming the perfect solution for all sorts of Modern d20 based games for me and Imperial Age shows why. The rules are adapted from the Imperial Age supplements for d20, so a lot here has been seen before, but all of it looks new through the lens of True 20.
All the Imperial Age products ooze style and this one is no different. There may be better Victorian Age games out there, but one can't deny that this is a great product and a welcome addition to any Victorian gaming library.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Imperial Age: True20 Edition
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The Sons of Tara - a MARS One-Sheet
by Jonathon C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2010 12:33:28
I really enjoyed reading this material. I had no problems with the production at all. And since was free I feel that I received a lot.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sons of Tara - a MARS One-Sheet
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FREE d20 to FATE Conversion Guide
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2010 08:57:00
This is a very helpful guide for those of us with d20 material that we want use for FATE system games. It takes 99% of the guess work out of the conversion process.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
FREE d20 to FATE Conversion Guide
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Dungeon Bundle 1 [BUNDLE]
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/22/2010 17:12:08
Empty Room Studios scores a big hit with this bundle, which includes three sets of dungeon tiles, two sets of stand-up doors, and a helpful mounting and cutting tutorial.

The two base sets together give the DM a wide selection of rooms, corridors, and accents with which to create a customized dungeon layout. In order to offer both generic and highly detailed scenes, the product comes as a layered PDF. For example, one room is 20' x 20' with a crumbling pool in the middle. If you don't want the pool, just turn off that layer. Remove entrances by turning walls on and off. Add treasure chests, barrels, and crates. All of that on just one of the many pages of layouts! This level of customizability sends the product's utility and value through the roof.

The two doors sets help you add a 3D element to your table. Doors Set 1 offers wooden doors in two sizes, one and two squares wide. This set does not make use of layered PDF technology, so all the doors look the same. Doors Set 2 offers more variety, featuring metal doors of several descriptions, enruned stone doors, and mystic portals. The pieces in Set 2 are also easier to cut out, because the doors are set into stone walls and you don't have to negotiate your scissors or hobby knife around any curves.

The Putrid Pit set combines features (but not specific elements—there are no "repeats") of the base sets and the doors sets. This set is less "modular" than the two base sets, in some ways, but it's still extremely flexible, and hugely customizable with the various layers provided in the PDF. It also comes with 3D elements to help spice up the gaming table.

Each of the products in this bundle could add a lot to your gaming table. Do be aware, though, that these tiles don't really constitute a basic dungeon-building set like SkeletonKey Games's dungeon sets or Wizards of the Coast's physical dungeon tiles. The tiles in these sets are a bit more specialized than that. But with creative use of the PDF layers, you can still get almost as much flexibility out of this bundle as the other sets I mentioned. I still prefer preprinted dungeon tiles, but for printable tiles, these do a stand-out job and will look great on your table if you follow the printing, mounting, and cutting advice given in the "how-to" PDF.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Bundle 1 [BUNDLE]
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Star System (#1) - Intro & Generator
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2010 23:56:08
Star System Generator is a helpful, simple, bare-bones booklet that shows you how to adopt your game system / core mechanic to a science-fiction, space fantasy setting. A detailed and dynamic story-creating chart system is included with the other basic space opera material. You get what you pay for -- and then some!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star System (#1) - Intro & Generator
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Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds)
by William G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2010 23:57:31
Thoroughly enjoyable product.

Thrilling Tales is a setting guide for delivering your Savage Worlds game in a Pulp Setting.

Character Archetypes
An entertaining and informative overview of the different types of heroes and villains on the genre and how they would be constructed in a Savage Worlds system.
There is a very good section of new edges & hindrances which is helps to both convey the pulp feeling of the characters and encourage pulp action and behaviour from the players.
I enjoyed this section and thought that each edge and hindrance had a purpose and contributed to the setting.

Equipment Guide
A selection of period guns and vehicles. An interesting mix at that. I assume this section is meant to be an addition to your normal equipment lists but I am unsure. There are some peculiarities which irked me:
(1) There is no Thompson sub-machinegun, but there is an MP38? There is also no Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) but there is a type of Spanish army rifle I have never heard of. I just thought some of the omissions where very peculiar in light of some of the oddities included. Not being an aficionado of the era, or pulp "genre", I will just say it felt a little bit odd to me as a layman - perhaps an explanation as to why the weapons included were chosen would have help to assuage my doubts.
(2) The number of cars! There are multiple pages of sedans and sports cars! Why so many, and why so many randomly sourced pictures of the vehicles? If Car chases are such an important aspect of Pulp, perhaps giving an interesting car chase system/mechanic that utilised the minor variations in the statistics of the cars would have helped. I understand that providing pictures of such period cars would be helpful to players whose grandparents were not even born in that era, but the non-uniformity of the pictures and contrast from the rest of the comic book's excellent sketch art throughout the rest of the product gave me a "desperate slapped in" feeling about this section.
In general I agree that the equipment section needed to have these period items, but I found this part of the book the least enjoyable.

The Adventure Generator
By far the most outstanding part of this product.
The Adventure Generator is a set of "Random Tables" consulted in an order prescribed in accordance with the Rules of Pulp as laid down by one of the pioneer writers of the Industry. Sounds a mouthful, but the results are fantastic!
Each adventure is divided up into 4 "acts", which each act having its own requirements for what should take place in it.
The tables provide the inspiration and you are meant to link it all together to create a coherent (if somewhat crazy) story/adventure.
an example of the Generator in action:
After rolling up the evil scheme, villain, supporting characters and starting location got:
a Businessman scheming to take over another business, with the adventure taking place in an unusual Location (such as the sky) and the adventure would start "in media res" (in the middle of the action). Supporting characters in this tale would be an attractive female pilot, a fat evil businessman, and an old but helpful mad scientist.
The First Act would involve a chase in the air complicated by environment.
Fantastic!
The Generator later revealed the initial scheme was really a ruse in order to trick the heroes into performing an ancient ritual that would accomplish some evil purpose for the villain...and that the beautiful pilot was in fact an evil henchman...er, woman, working for the sinister puppet master! There were also serveal chases and fights along the way, with the climax taking place on top of the Skyscrapers of New York!
This section was the primarily (and sole) reason I purchased this product and I was thoroughly impressed with it.
Beware the tables are designed for 1920-1940s era classic Pulp settings, so is geared toward ancient lost cities and Manhattan style cities - would suit superheroe games, but easily modified to your tastes.

Villains!
a quite substantial section on classic Pulp Villains such as Nazi's and Oriental Masterminds. A lot of background information to help bring the party nemesis to life, and plenty of hooks and ideas on how to use them in your games. Also some useful stat blocks for the bosses, henchmen, and mooks.

The Plot Point Campaign
I wouldn't call it that. This is actually 3 independent adventures which can be linked together. I haven't road tested them yet, but on reading through them I liked the later two more than the first one which I felt player might see as too contrived, but overall quite enjoyable.

CONCLUSION
All together Thrilling Tales gives you a very good grasp of how to organise, construct and run very entertaining Pulp style adventures with the Savage World system

I give this product 4 stars.
3 for presentation, content, and execution - a very respectable coverage of the subject matter.
+1 for the Adventure Generator - innovative use of standard "random tables" with coherent structure to produce a quite useful tool for beginner and veteran GMs alike.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds)
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