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Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/15/2015 08:52:34

A review aimed at those who enjoy solo play:

I played a solo session of Castle Gargantua this morning. Unlike Kabuki Kaiser's previous releases specifically designed for solo play (Ruins of the Undercity and Mad Monks of Kwantoom), Gargantua is geared towards group play with a GM. That said, the procedurally generated method of creating the castle works beautifully for solo play. There is a bit of creative modification needed though for some sections of the castle that have prebuilt areas with static encounters.

Castle Gargantua is not a megadungeon in the classic sense of the word. The book eschews pages and pages of prebuilt maps and encounters in favor of generating the castle on the fly.

Gargantua uses a color coding system (blue/stone, pink/lust, red/blood, purple/wine and yellow/gold) to organize generated content into thematic "regions" of the castle. Players start in area 1 which is a blue "stone" section of the castle. Dice are rolled to generate a room or chamber and the players explore the area and then proceed to the next area. By default this is done 4 times and then the GM rolls a D6 to move the group along a chutes and ladders style board to a new region. The color coded board has "chutes" on it that further randomize exploration of the castle.

All of the color coded regions follow the same procedurally generated method except for yellow/gold, which is a series of pre-mapped rooms and pre-stocked encounters. This is the one area where you must get a bit creative for solo play as there are some secrets in these areas that are designed to be presented by a GM.

The dice generation system for the rest of the castle is very clever. You roll one each of a d4, d6, d8, d12 and d20 and each die corresponds to a result on a table. Each color coded region of the castle has its own table. This is a really neat method because in a single roll you generate all of the details about the room and what it contains.

Castle Gargantua is compatible with any number of OSR games (he suggests Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations of the Flame Princess). I used the ultra light Into the Odd playing two characters. It ended up being a deadly choice for me as I only explored one blue/stone section and a yellow/gold section before being slaughtered and eaten by cannibals :-)

I'm part way through a second solo play right now using two level 1 DCC characters.

All in all I think this is a really neat procedurally generated dungeon that lends itself to solo play as long as you're comfortable adjudicating results in a handful of areas. Given the way everything is randomly generated, you'll be exploring new weird areas even after multiple plays.

I should mention that some of the content is clearly aimed at adults so bear that in mind.

5 out of 5



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
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Bloodstorm - The Corporation Card Game
Publisher: Brutal Games
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/19/2015 20:45:03

I was specifically interested in this game because it offers solo play as well as cooperative play for up to 4 players. Thematically, it delivers a gritty cyberpunk vibe.

I've completed a couple of games now and it's super simple to learn and fun to play. I was up and running in about 5 minutes with only one referral to the rules after.

You select an agent card which is your character. From there you draw five cards and play all five. To win, you must get through the entire deck without dying. There are Environment, Hostile, Equipment, and Tactics cards. Environment cards assign a specific condition to overall gameplay while Equipment and Tactics cards benefit your character. Hostile cards offer your opposition and there's XP for slaying them and a level up mechanic for your agent.

Overall I dig it. It's light hearted but offers just enough complexity to stay interesting for awhile. My only complaint is that the Agent cards have a level 1 side and a level 2 side. Apparently the original plan was to release more cards for higher levels in a future expansion. Given that the game came out in 2013 and they've done nothing with it since..... I suspect that's a no go. Still, you could easily draw up a character sheet with additional level benefits.

One thing I love is that all of the running tallies for stats like HP and XP are easily tracked on dice on the table so there's really no need for paper and pencil or other bookkeeping.

Also, all combat resolution is handled with D6 rolls where 5's and 6's are hits (and sometimes lower numbers with the right Equipment in play). I love it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bloodstorm - The Corporation Card Game
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Echo City Team Up #2
Publisher: Splintered Realms Publishing
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/09/2015 20:55:02

This is a 10 page PWYW .pdf with an aquatic themed adventure that includes:

  • 2 Open Adventure Locales w/ Maps
  • 1 CL3 and 2 CL8 "Foes"
  • 3 CL6 "Allies"
  • 2 "Magic" Items
  • A Story Driven Way to Increase a Character's"Resources" Rating
  • Rules for CON checks to Explore Underwater

It also offers "Hooks" and "Fallout" to both lead your characters into the adventure as well as provide some lasting effects for later story development.

All in all, some very cool and useful stuff for underwater adventures.

I won't have an opportunity to work most of the content into my current game for at least a few sessions but the underwater rules are immediately useful since we've already been under the Heart River multiple times in our sessions.

Like the other Echo City products, things here are very loose and open to interpretation... which is a very good thing!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echo City Team Up #2
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Sentinels of Echo City
Publisher: Splintered Realms Publishing
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/06/2015 22:35:36

Sentinels of Echo City!

Oh... what a joy....... OSR = Omnifarious Superheroic Ruleset!

I'm writing this review for the SECOND time now because RPGNow decided to purge all but the first line of my last one.....

If TSR's B/X D&D procreated with their Marvel Super Heroes game, you'd get the first genetic version of SoEC... after that though you'd need to inject it with mutagen, expose it to gamma radiation, let it be bitten by a lab arachnid and then sprinkle it with cosmic dust.

This game is a ton of fun. The rules are lightweight and fast yet robust enough to adjudicate any situation that comes up. The game uses a unique "Trait" system that covers both Powers and Skills under one cleverly erected umbrella. It should be noted too that even though you can run full fledged four color supers, the rules also have everything you need to run low powered or even pulp type games.

The setting fluff is purposefully barebones and though there is plenty of stuff to branch off from, it takes a decidedly DIY approach to setting. Inside you'll find tons of npc's, adventure hooks and personalities but they are there to help you launch your own "Echo City".

The author has already released quite a few supplements for the game (including one that is a best seller right now!), and there's a robust G+ Community that is creating stuff too:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/105571392429158867533



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sentinels of Echo City
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Hollow Earth Expedition RPG
Publisher: Exile Game Studio
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:53:53

Absolutely fantastic pulp game. I have both the pdf and print copies and both are of excellent quality and are fine additions to my library of games.

There's a newer 6x9 print edition of it available now too which packs a lot of awesome into a convenient size!

If you are at all interested in the pulp genre you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hollow Earth Expedition RPG
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BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:47:50

I'm ashamed it took me so long to get back to RPGNow to review this one.

This is the best rules lite fantasy game I've ever had the pleasure of playing. The rules are damned easy to grok and their use in play is intuitive and fast. There's an included setting but honestly you could use this game to run just about any fantasy setting you can imagine.

Very highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
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Azamar the RPG
Publisher: Wicked North Games
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:44:21

Excellent D6 fantasy game!

Wicked North Games continues to deliver excellent D6 gaming products with their releases. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Azamar the RPG
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A Bigger Problem
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:30:56

An excellent adventure for BareBones Fantasy. This is a short 16 page module that would serve well as an introductory romp for a new group just getting into the game. Almost no prep time is required to run this fun adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Bigger Problem
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Covert Ops Role Playing Game
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:22:31

More excellent gaming goodness courtesy of DWD Studios!

This particular version is highly recommended as you get the Core Rules, the GM's Operation Manual and The Usual Suspects all in one handsomely presented hard bound book. That said, you really can't go wrong with any of the options.

There's a ton of material here and everything is open enough that you can run all types of spy/thriller/espionage games without ever needing another book.

These guys continue to deliver a heck of a gaming punch by releasing games that are easy on the budget while providing an unbelievable amount of very high quality content.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out BareBones Fantasy too. It's an excellent fantasy game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Covert Ops Role Playing Game
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Schweig's Themed Dungeon Generator
Publisher: Griffon Publishing Studio
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/24/2013 19:14:04

I had the pleasure of playtesting an early version of this product. This is a fantastic dungeon generator that gives you the tools to create a themed delve with escalating encounters. You populate the generator with your own content which gives you a great deal of control over the results, but not at the expense of sacrificing randomness which makes it perfect for solo play.

The generator works with any system and is versatile enough to facilitate play in multiple genres. Even though it's presented as a fantasy dungeon generator, I used it to play a solo sci fi game with almost no modification. It's also easy to introduce different 'win conditions' if you want to focus on solo games that have goal oriented structures.

While I've only used it for solo games, there's nothing to stop you from using it as a prep tool for group games.

This is a great gaming accessory at a great price. If you're interested in solo gaming or just want a well designed tool for session prep, you can't go wrong picking this one up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Schweig's Themed Dungeon Generator
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Adventurers!
Publisher: GRAmel
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/25/2013 18:48:17

Adventurers! is a six page rules light game that is written by Umberto Pignatelli (who wrote the excellent Beasts and Barbarians setting for Savage Worlds) and published by GRAmel. The game is split up into three pdf’s that are each two landscape oriented pages. You also get a nice image file of the attractive cover in the zipped file from RPGNow. This first release is presented as a fantasy game and the skills, gear and powers included are all appropriate for the genre.

The first of the three pdf’s is the Player’s Guide. which is split up into eleven boxes that walk you through character creation and explain task resolution and combat. You also get information about character advancement, recovery (healing), skills, gear, powers and a few optional rules.

The second pdf is the GM’s Guide which is divided into eight sections and offers advice for running the game. Areas covered include awarding experience, hazards (weather, poison, fire, etc.), and a bestiary. There’s also advice for personalizing the game to suit your groups needs.

The final pdf is a character sheet, in duplicate.

This is a very cool, stream lined game in an efficiently presented package. The core mechanic is 2D6+ related stat +/- a difficulty modifier (which ranges from -4 for difficult tasks to +4 for easy ones). Any roll of seven or higher is a success. Everything else in the game is very modular, meaning that it’s a simple matter to make changes to suit your preferred setting or theme without breaking the resolution system. In fact, the game encourages this type of tinkering and even offers advice for customization. GRAmel plans to publish additional two page settings for Adventurers! and considering the design approach they’ve taken I think it’s likely we’ll see other genre’s in the future.

Adventurers! is a great example of a game with a very small footprint that still offers robust options and a surprisingly tinkerer friendly set of rules. Character creation took me about ten minutes and despite the spartan package, I felt like I had everything I needed to run a very well rounded game. This would be a great game to introduce new players to RPG’s and the $1.50 price tag is a heck of a gaming bargain. Conversely, experienced players and GM’s will find plenty to appreciate here as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what Umberto and GRAmel have in store for Adventurers!

Originally posted at www.solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurers!
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Marchland
Publisher: Hearthstone Games
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/13/2013 22:15:57

For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's, please visit my blog at www.solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

Marchland is a 172 page modern fantasy setting book for Savage Worlds that mixes a familiar modern world with magic, mysticism and fae mythology. The book is published by Hearthstone Games and includes both an attractive full color pdf version as well as a printer friendly pdf.

The setting evokes a Dresden Files feel though it shares even more DNA with Changeling: The Dreaming. In fact, the overall approach is very much reminiscent of the early World of Darkness books in that the game world is very similar to our own but is slightly off. Most of earth's denizens are oblivious to the magical goings on around them and the player characters are immersed in the majesty of a world that is much more rich and fantastic than it would seem on the surface.

To be clear, and fair, this isn't just a facsimile of either of those properties with the serial numbers filed off. There has been a good amount of work done to establish a unique world and the setting offers a lot of original material for both GM's and players to explore. Hearthstone Games has created a city called Brighton Bay that serves as a central hub for the setting and there's plenty of great stuff here to run interesting games for a long time. Furthermore, the book delves deeply into Faery groups and culture and offers a robust amount of information about them. The setting's writer, Mark Woodside, first divides them up into the European Fae and the native American Manitou, and then further explores them from there.

It should be noted that if you just wanted to use the material in Marchland to run a Dresden or Changeling game, you'd be in good shape!

Marchland, while fully compatible with core Savage Worlds, does make a few changes in an effort to create a unique feel for the setting. The magic system shrugs off Power Points in favor of a casting modifier and the character creation section is much more robust to account for the creation of unique Fae and Revenant (ghost) player characters.

This is a cool setting. There'a a lot to like and despite the fact that there are a ton of SW settings Hearthstone Games has succeeded in filling a void in the Savage Worlds lineup. Even if you don't want to use the book as a complete setting, you'll find plenty here to mull over and enrich your setting. This one is definitely worth a look!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marchland
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Beasts of the Dominions
Publisher: GRAmel
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/17/2012 06:26:03

Please visit www.solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com for more great articles and reviews!

Beasts of the Dominions is the newest release by Umberto Pignatelli for his excellent Savage Worlds Sword and Sorcery setting, Beasts and Barbarians.

This book is unique in that it offers a look at 10 different adversaries culled from all over the Dread Sea Dominions. The approach showcases different regions while presenting details on the listed monsters. Each entry in this 116 page title also offers an adventure where the focal point revolves around the enemy and geography presented. This gives the game master plenty of material for either running as is or using as inspiration for home brewed games.

The list of adversaries ranges from new unique monsters to well worn staples of the fantasy genre. While the new monsters are interesting and fun, the familiar faces manage to root the book in the tried and true sword and sorcery milieu without ever feeling derivative. In addition to S&S classics, I was often reminded of David Eddings’ Belgariad and Robin Hood while reading the book. These reference points were welcome and represent one of the things that makes Beasts and Barbarians so great – it doesn’t forget where it comes from.

The book concludes with some player facing material that offers information on playing a Disciple of the Black Temple as well as a section that offers GM advice on incorporating Disciple characters into his/her game.

This book represents a fantastic value for fantasy enthusiasts. If you are already playing Beasts and Barbarians you can pull multiple sessions of material from Beasts of the Dominions. If you aren’t playing B&B there’s nothing to stop you from using BotD for any Savage Worlds fantasy game. Once again Umberto does a great job offering much more than just combat encounters. There are all sorts of fun story elements and plenty of opportunities for non combat situations.

I always look forward to new B&B releases and this book doesn’t disappoint. It’s worth noting that customers who had previously purchased B&B from RPGNow got an email with a customer loyalty discount. This is a great way to thank fans!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts of the Dominions
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Hostile Takeover
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2012 04:16:17

For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's please visit my blog at http://solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

Hostile Takeover is a 41 page supplement for Gun Metal Games excellent cyberpunk setting, Interface Zero. The book focuses on adding elements of corporate intrigue, politics, policy and power plays to a campaign. It is divided into two sections – the first is designated as “The New Employee Handbook” for players, and the second is titled “The Policy and Procedure Manual” for Gamemaster’s.

The player’s section is written as if it were a manual for a new hire at a corporation. It contains information for understanding the setting and has advice for using the standard Savage Worlds mechanics in a way that is stylistically consistent with the genre. There are also new Hindrances and Edges for players to choose from that reinforce the setting (I got a kick out of the “Non Disclosure Agreement” hindrance).

The GM’s section, as you’d expect, has a lot of advice for introducing corporate play into Interface Zero. Early on it talks about avoiding turning your game into an office simulator, which I found interesting and helpful since, to me, that seems the quickest way to kill the fun factor of the setting. There are entries on running different types of corporate style games, as well as a detailed section on creating unique companies that have a sense of character. There is also an excellent chapter called “Murder in the Board Room” that shows you how to use common Savage Worlds mechanics (chases, mass battles, etc..) in new ways that emulate different facets of the genre (like using the mass battle rules to resolve a corporate takeover). This approach is very creative and keeps with the classic Savage Worlds idea of trappings. The book is end capped with a list of common NPC’s that your player’s are likely to encounter in an office environment.

This is a cool book and a pretty neat idea. On the surface, the prospect of role playing in an office sounds painfully dull. This book had the challenge of refuting that idea and it does so quite well. Presentation, like all Gun Metal Games releases, is stellar. Layout is well done and the whole book is very polished. This title is well dressed, ready for business and bleeding cool.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hostile Takeover
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Hael: Night of the Long Fangs
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/14/2012 12:26:12

For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's please visit my blog at http://solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

I reviewed the Hael Core Book a few weeks back in a previous post. Storyweaver released a couple of adventures around the same time the core book came out and just today uploaded their soundtrack to the Hael universe to RPGNow. It’s awesome that this setting just came out and there is already so much great support material.

Adventures

Night of the Long Fangs and Burning Bridges (16 and 17 pages respectively) are both presented with Storyweaver’s “Game in a Can” label on their covers. They are both unique sandbox style location based adventures that share a common design structure. The framework is actually very reminiscent of modern console and computer RPG’s (in a good way!). You are given a location that is well mapped out and each page in the books presents a different area of interest in that location. Along with flavor text you get information on NPC’s, stat blocks, story hooks and rumors. Each NPC has their own seemingly independent plot hooks that tie into one grand overarching tale. With this structure it’s just a matter of letting the players explore the area and interact with the populace. I like the way these books are presented very much and they do an amazing job of offering interesting stories without railroading you into clunky plot dependencies that break progress if missed. You can’t beat the value either since Night of the Long Fangs is a very reasonable $3.95 and Burning Bridges is free!

As I said above, it’s fantastic that there’s already excellent support material for Hael. I wasn’t familiar with the old D20 incarnation of the setting so I don’t know if these books are new material or revised and re-released stuff but really it’s irrelevant. I hope to see more of the “Game in a Can” releases soon and I’m really liking the music too. It seems like Storyweaver has great priorities as far as support for their products is concerned.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hael: Night of the Long Fangs
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