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Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2016 07:44:54

This book, looking at the fourth regeneration of the Doctor, played by Tom Baker, takes a slightly different approach to the preceeding volumes, in structure if not in content. The first chapter looks at what makes Fourth Doctor adventures different from any other ones, the second covers the Doctor himself and his companions from this era in detail, and the rest of the book lists the adventures that he undertook in the TV show. But first, won't you have a jellybaby?

Every regeneration is quite different from all the others, but this one is the most 'alien'... and perhaps the most fun. Or at least, he seems to have the most fun charging round the universe and saving it, anyway. This period is also one in which the nature of the Time Lords is explored more thoroughly, and it sees the beginning of the Time War, echoes of which are still felt in the current season of the show. Several adventure seeds as well as more wide-ranging ideas are given for those who like this period but want original adventures rather than those shown on TV. There's also an interesting discussion about Time Lords as player characters, showing more clearly how the rules balance the relative strengths of Time Lord and human (or indeed other races) characters and even giving ideas of how to run games with two or more Time Lord characters in the party. If nothing else, that's a good time to visit Gallifrey as they can be less than welcoming to outsiders! This chapter also includes a wide range of new traits, including several new ones for Time Lords.

Chapter 2 takes a detailed look at the Fourth Doctor and his companions. There's Leela (a barbarian), K-9 (a robotic dog... strictly speaking, two of them as the first was left with Leela and the Doctor made another), Romana (a Time Lord, who regenerated during her time with the Doctor so there are two versions), Adric (a smart kid), Nyssa and Tegan. It's a bit of a toss-up with most Doctor Who fans as to whether Adric or Tegan was the most annoying! Character sheets for all of these as well as for Sarah-Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan (both detailed elsewhere and more associated with the Third Doctor than the Fourth) are provided should you wish to play them or have them as NPCs. This chapter also looks at the TARDIS, now back in working order (mostly).

And then we're off with a survey of all the Fourth Doctor's adventures. These follow a common pattern: a synopsis of the adventure, notes on how to run it should you so choose, character sheets and other information for key NPCs and monsters, and a selection of further adventures based on the original broadcast. There is very little repetition of adversaries, so this is a good set for those who like new things rather than the same old monsters...

This series just gets better. This one is replete with ideas that you can use in your game, from complete adventures to throw-away ideas that spawn whole new adventures of your own. It's well worth a read, even if you don't want to use this era or to play out TV adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Fourth Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2016 08:04:28

Moving on to the third regeneration of the Doctor (played by Jon Pertwee), this series of comprehensive surveys of the complete broadcast history of the TV show opens with notes on what makes this incarnation of the Doctor distinctive. Of note is the fact that, due to a spot of bother with the other Time Lords at the end of the Second Doctor's tenure, the Third Doctor finds himself exiled to Earth in the (then) present, unable to travel in space and time... fortunately the aliens were not backwards in coming to visit!

The first chapter introduces the Third Doctor and his companions, giving loads of detail about how he was more of an 'action hero' than his previous selves, with a fondness for flamboyant fashion and interesting vehicles. There are two different groups of companions, the conventional sort and members of UNIT who are more co-workers - at least as far as the Doctor ever trusts the military. Character sheets as well as loads of detail to aid in play are provided for all involved: the Brigadier, Liz Shaw (who was assigned as the Doctor's assistant), the two 'real' companions - Jo Grant and Sarah-Jane Smith - as well as Sergeant Benton and Captain Yates of UNIT. This chapter also talks about the TARDIS - which spends most of the time non-functional although the Doctor does manage occasional temporary repairs to make a few jaunts to other times or places.

Chapter 2 continues the useful theme by looking at (and providing game details for) new NPCs and gadgets that typify this period, as well as things like new traits - used here and often useful in the game in general. New monsters/adversaries get the next chapter to themselves, and here we meet Daleks (again) and the Master (a rival Time Lord). Ogrons, Silurians, the Nestene Consciousness, and the Autons also feature. This 'game' section of the book ends with a chapter entitled Designing Third Doctor Adventures, full of good advice that is of general application as well as material specific to this regeneration. There are three main types of adventure: those tasked by UNIT, missions from the Time Lords and occasions when the Doctor got lost. Although he does get to visit other planets, there's little historical travel.

The rest of the book is dedicated to detailed accounts of each of the Third Doctor's adventures, some twenty-four of them. Each begins with a synopsis of the adventure itself. Then there's a look at how to use concepts from it (or even the complete adventure) in your game, and notes on key individuals, monsters and gadgets (if not mentioned earlier in the book) that turn up during it. Further adventure ideas are included, and there is increasing use of cross-linking to both earlier and later adventures, which can suggest ways in which to create your own plot arcs outside the sequence followed by the TV show.

With classic adventures (like The Sea Devils and The Three Doctors), fascinating ideas including time paradoxes, alternate futures and the use or not of violence to achieve ones ends, and a host of long-running themes and recurring monsters, there is a lot to like about this period in the Doctor's history. However you want to use it, there is plenty here that will be of use and interest.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Sourcebook
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The Burning Plague (3.5)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2016 11:13:04

This is a fairly straightforward adventure suitable for beginning adventurers, yet successful completion should give the party a sense of accomplishment, a real feeling of 'being heroes' even at this low level.

The situation is this: a small but fairly prosperous township has fallen on difficult times with a nasty illness called the Burning Plague (it causes sufferers to come out in blisters and have an unquenchable raging thirst) that first struck down miners and has now spread to others in the settlement. Crops and livestock have not escaped either... and a recent kobold attack hasn't helped matters. Finally, the last few able-bodied souls to venture up to the mine haven't returned.

Whilst one would hope that aspiring adventurers would step up to help the struggling community, a couple of hooks are provided to get the party involved if you think they might be reluctant. However they get involved, the remaining townsfolk are convinced that the source of their troubles is the mine, and they'd like the adventurers to go and take a look. The 'meat' of this adventure, then, is an exploration of the mine, dealing with its perils including those pesky kobolds who've taken up residence there, a few devilish traps and the real source of the Burning Plague... not to mention the Plague itself which is fairly contagious!

Everything's laid out clearly so the adventure is quite straightforward to run. A fairly basic map is supplied, you might want to get a little more creative to reflect the descriptions of the various locations given. The results - and consequences - of success are given, with a few hints as to whom might be displeased and what they might do about it in the future, which could be used to inform further adventures. Overall, it's a good 'starter' adventure to get a bunch of first-level characters off to a flying start. Or die horribly, of course.

I'm just a little puzzled as to why an adventure published in 2000 in support of the then-new Dungeons & Dragons 3e - then as a freebie to meet the clamour for adventures to go with the new rulebooks - has been marked as being for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5: I have the original download from the Wizards of the Coast website, and it's exactly the same!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Burning Plague (3.5)
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Doctor Who - The Second Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2016 08:23:52

Born out of the necessity of changing actors came one of the iconic concepts of Doctor Who, the regeneration. This provided a convenient explanation for why it was still the Doctor even though he looked and acted quite differently. The grumpy old man played by William Hartnell became a more playful figure in the hands of Patrick Troughton.

The first chapter introduces regeneration, the second Doctor and his companions. There's an extensive analysis of the character and nature of this regeneration, showing how he brought a completely different outlook and approach to every situation... as well as a full character sheet should he happen to turn up in your game. Likewise, all the companions that travelled with him - beginning with Ben and Polly who'd been with the original Doctor as well - are presented with copious notes and character sheets. The chapter ends with a few notes on the TARDIS, which remains pretty much the same as it was.

The next chapter is Tools of the Trade, but starts off talking about companions and the various options open to you, not just whether to use ones from the show or come up with your own, but about theire different reasons for joining the Doctor, agreeing to stay and, eventually, deciding to leave the TARDIS. There are also comments about using these adventures with different Time Lords (perhaps not even the Doctor at all) or without one, although the wide-ranging nature of the adventures described in this book means that access to some kind of time-travel device is virtually essential. Some new Traits and Gadgets are also provided here, many will have more general application than the reason that they are included.

Chapter 3: Enemies provides details of some major recurring enemies starting with the Cybermen - of which there are several different versions, not to mention Cybermats, Cyber Controllers and Partial Cybermen (who are, of course, mentioned!). There is a similarly in-depth look at Daleks, as well as the Great Intelligence, Yetis and Ice Warriors.

Then, Chapter 4 looks at designing adventures, with an eye to creating ones with the right look and feel for the Second Doctor era. Even if you intend to use the adventures from the show, it's worth reading - particularly as many episodes have been lost so you cannot study up by watching them! This, of course, makes it a bit easier to re-use adventures as unless your players are as old as I am they probably haven't seen them either. There's a lot of material here, of general use even if you don't want to use much Second Doctor material.

We then launch into the actual Second Doctor adventures, some twenty-one of them. For each, there's a synopsis of the adventure itself, notes on how to run it in your game 'as is', material on notable creatures (including NPCs) and artefacts encountered (which you may wish to use elsewhere, of course) and ideas for further adventures based on it. This gives an impressive array of options for how to use some or all of the material in creating your game.

Whether it inspiration or complete adventures - or just an exploration of one of the lesser-known Doctors - that you are after, you should find plenty to amuse you here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Second Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - The First Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/04/2016 08:10:07

Time-travel indeed, right back to the First Doctor (portrayed by William Hartnell) that started the whole thing off. I was pretty small then (and usually behind the sofa!) but I still remember those early days. The Introduction explains what you can do with this book, apart from wander down memory lane: as a GM you may choose to use adversaries or even whole plots in your game, or weave bits in as part of the growing history of the Doctor whether you have a Doctor (any regneration) in your party or not.

If you want to recreate the First Doctor and his companions, there are notes on style - and complete character sheets for them - which will help you get the right feel however you want to proceed: running the adventures as they were originally presented, or using some of the follow-up ideas to create your own adventures on similar lines.

Each adventure is presented in a common style. First there is a synopsis which explains what the situation was, who the adversaries were and what they were up to, and how the Doctor dealt with them. This is followed by notes on how to run that adventure 'as is', including how to run it with a different Doctor than the first, how to adapt it or just use selected parts in your own game. Then there are more notes on creatures (NPCs and monsters) encountered, interesting gadgets and so on - you might want to use some of them even if the adventure does not suit your needs. Finally, assuming that the adventure has happened, suggestions for follow-up adventures are provided. You might want to use these after playing the original adventure or - if you are taking a more 'canon' stance and hold that the TV adventures have already taken place - use the follow-up ideas whilst letter the Doctor 'remember' the original adventure. That works particularly well if you have a real Doctor Who enthusiast playing the Doctor, one who knows a lot of the adventures that occured in the show!

There is a wealth of information here, whether you are looking for plot ideas or just revelling in detailed analysis of the early Doctor Who adventures. Everywhere is filled with snippets of use to GM and quite often to players - for example, ideas on how to play the Doctor (if you have him as a player-character) or the various companions. The GM will need to consider carefully what, if any, access he permits to this book, or it might be preferable to read certain portions to players as appropriate rather than letting them loose on the entire book.

So here we have the very first meeting with the Doctor, the first encounter with the Daleks, several historical episodes and more, all illustrated with photos from the revelant TV adventure. Alas, these are all uncaptioned although it is usually possible to figure out what they are depicting. Even if you don't intend to run any of the adventures, the comments and suggestions make it well worth reading through the lot. Of particular use to those who weren't around in 1963 to watch these adventures as they were broadcast, they are still fascinating if you do remember them (or have been watching archive re-runs).

However you use this book, it will help you to steep your game in the lore and mythology that goes to make up 'Doctor Who' in all its glory, that undefinable something that has made it endure for over fifty years. There are 28 adventures here, any one of which could keep a group entertained for several sessions.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The First Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - All of Time and Space Volume 1
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/26/2015 09:30:07

Searching for an adventure or two for the Doctor and his companions? Search no more, for here are four to get your teeth into! If your gaming group doesn't include a Doctor, not to worry - the adventures will work perfectly well with UNIT characters, or pretty much any party generated using the Doctor Who RPG ruleset. All start in the present-day, but take you off to exotic times and locations... so they'd better have some means of travelling time and space.

First up is 'Ghost Engines' which takes the party to Victorian London, a favourite haunt, via a disused railway tunnel. Behind it all is a complex plot involving visitors from the future, an escaped prisoner and a railway entrepreneur who is not quite what he appears to be... and several people who'd really love to go home to their own time and place. Everything is nicely arranged, with some helpful and cooperative folk in 1880s London ready and willing to aid the time travellers (who didn't, er, travel on purpose), and plenty of leads to follow to enable them to find out what's really going on, and why a Dimensional Shunt may be excellent for getting trains to run on time but doesn't belong in a Victorian railway network. Oh, and there's a ghost train as well. All the elements for a classic Doctor Who adventure, laid out to make it easy to run.

The next adventure is 'Northern Knights' and mixes Elizabethan England with one of the Doctor's old adversaries, the Cybermen, who have got embroiled in the ongoing religious dispute between Elizabeth and Catholicism. Fighting a mysterious plague and meeting Mary Queen of Scots feature in this game, and there's plenty opportunity to get involved in the intrigue that was rife at the time... never mind the Cybermen busy repairing a crashed ship and making their usual attempts to convert everyone they encounter into more Cybermen!

The third adventure, 'Schrödinger's Expedition', takes the party to a very strange place. It looks like a space station, maybe, but one of a very strange and illogical design... and with a massive space/time breach in the middle. A scientific expedition and its mirror, a military expedition from another dimension, and an assortment of wildlife that has colonised this place, whatever it might be, should keep the party entertained as they attempt to figure out just what it is that they have encountered... whilst slipping between dimensions themselves! Cleaning up the mess may seem impossible, but there's plenty of guidance on how to steer the characters in the right direction.

The final adventure is 'The Tomb of Cleopatra' which starts off with a present-day archaeological dig in Egypt that has discovered an artefact that looks disturbingly like it's an artistic rendering of a Cyberman's head! They'll need to travel into the past to find out what's going on and in a delightful twist will discover that things are not what they seem, although what is there still wants to trap the Doctor - something half the universe seems to want to do at one time or another. Perhaps a visit to Roman Egypt will enable the party to sort things out.

Each adventure is complex and steeped in the lore and the style of the show, yet there is sufficient support for the GM to enable them to run it even if they - or their players - don't know that much about it. Whilst there are lots of twists and turns in each plot they do hold together well and can be solved whether the party prefers guile and cumming or brute force. These ought to keep a group entertained for quite a few sessions, and definitely have the right 'feel' for a Doctor Who adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - All of Time and Space Volume 1
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Doctor Who Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2015 09:24:40

With a ruleset that regenerates as often as the Doctor does, here's the latest version of Cubicle 7's Doctor Who game, this time in a single hardback volume. Just in case you don't know anything about Doctor Who Chapter 1: The Trip of a Lifetime explains the scope of adventures that you can have and the roles that you can play... complete with Peter Capaldi (who plays the current regeneration of the Doctor) staring out at you. It also explains the basics of role-playing in case this is the first role-playing game you've picked up, a particularly wise move as Doctor Who fans will pick anything up if it bears those magic words or shows the Doctor, and it's a good introduction to the hobby for those who don't know about role-playing (I've even run it for church youth groups!).

Chapter 2: Old-fashioned Heroes from Old-fashioned Story Books then describes the process of creating a character for this game. If you are in a rush, or want to play characters from the TV show, there's a collection of ready-made characters including the Doctor, Clara (the most recent companion) and various other people who have turned up recently, as well as a few 'archetypes' - like a UNIT soldier or an archaeologist - that require only a little personalisation before they are ready for play. That thorny problem of who gets to be the Doctor is touched on in a side bar, but there's no easy answer... even if it does suggest that budding timelords bribe the GM with chocolate! Work it out as a group - maybe someone really knows the show well, or take turns each adventure, or even (in a long-running campaign) change players when the Doctor regenerates! - but don't let it get acrimonious. Of course, just because you are playing in the Doctor Who universe, you don't need to actually have the Doctor around. Maybe you are Torchwood or UNIT, or something else of your own devising. The Doctor might drop in occasionally as an NPC, or never be seen at all.

It's worth reading how to create characters from scratch even if you do not intend to do so - then you'll understand how they work. Characters are defined by Attributes, Skills and Traits, and you have points to distribute between these to work out what your character is like, what he knows about, and what he can do. You start, however, by working out who the character is and what they are bringing to the party, and only then start the relatively small amount of number-crunching involved. Everything is explained quite clearly, with examples and a walk-through of the creation of a sample character. There's also a lot of information about how to use skills and traits from a game mechanical standpoint, so reading through this gives a good overview of how to actually play the game.

Next, Chapter 3: I Can Fight Monsters, I Can't Fight Physics goes into the rules in detail. It all boils down to a simple rule: add Attribute + Skill (+ Trait if applicable) to the roll of 2d6, and if the result is higher than the Difficulty of the task you have managed to do, well, whatever it was that you intended. There's loads of detail about how to set Difficulties, how to do things when you don't have a relevant Skill, how to chose which Attributes and Skills you want to use and so on, but whilst the Gamemaster will need to understand them, players can get by with the basic formula. Complications, contested rolls, and more are there as well. The more everyone understands, the faster the game will flow during play as people can just make rolls without needing to ask or check the rules - but this comes with practice even if you find such details hard to learn cold. Unlike many games, out-and-out violence ought to be rare: it's just not how the Doctor does things.

In Chapter 4: Time and Time Again, we take a look at time travel and the problems that it can cause... all the way up to paradoxes like the classic one of going back to kill your grandfather when he was a little boy (hence your father never got born and where does it leave you...), something you could not do if you never got born in the first place. It can fair make your head hurt. Most of the time paradoxes get sorted, either naturally or by the actions of other time travellers, but if they don't all manner of trouble can arise. Of course, even if you do manage to tamper with the past, you may make it worse not better! So take care when you step into your TARDIS! There's some advice, fortunately, for the Gamemaster as to how to keep things (mostly) on track and cope with any issues that might arise. This chapter also contains information on the nature of a Time Lord including their biology, special abilities and even a section on the game mechanics of a regeneration. Likewise, the nature and operation of a TARDIS is also discussed at some length.

Then, Chapter 5: All the Strange, Strange Creatures provides an array of alien lifeforms. It's not really a monster collection, in the main it concentrates on sentient creatures. There's a lot about how to design and play them, primarily as NPCs but perhaps even as characters, as well... although this is something to be embarked upon with caution considering the nature of Doctor Who as a show.

This is followed by Chapter 6: It's a Rollercoaster With You, which explores what role-playing is in depth looking at what both players and Gamemasters can do to make it a thoroughly enjoyable experience for everyone. Very useful if this is your first role-playing game, but there are notes here on cooperation, staying in character and more which many seasoned gamers could benefit from reading. Some of it, of course, has particular reference to playing the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game but much is of general application. There's plenty of good advice directed at Gamemasters in particular as well.

Chapter 7: History is a Burden, Stories Can Make Us Fly is for Gamemasters, and following on from the more general ideas in the previous chapter looks at how to run adventures and how to create your own. There are recommendations about structure and elements that can be included to make a good adventure - and mention of the sheer wealth of material that over fifty years of the show has generated (although I'd take issue at the aside that 'unlike boring academic research' it's fun to go through it in its own right - academic research is far from boring and great fun!) Investigation, exploration, setting, climax - all these and more are discussed, then on to campaigns and personal story arcs.

Finally, Chapter 8: All of Time and Space is Waiting, Don't Even Argue (and how's that for a chapter title?) presents two full-blown adventures to get you off to a flying start. The first is Stormrise, the characters visit a coastal village as it is engulfed by a horrific storm and will need to find out what's going on - and put a stop to it. It's fast-paced and exciting yet quite complex, and should get any campaign off to a flying start. The second is Seeing Eyes which opens with the characters waking up in a strange and dangerous environment and having to figure out where they are, what is happening and what they can do about it. Plenty of excitement here, too...

Visually, the book is quite a treat with loads of excellent images from the most recent episodes of the show. The only problem is a lack of captions so unless you have a good visual memory and comprehensive knowledge of the show you are left wondering who they all are!

Overall, this is a masterful re-presentation of Cubicle 7's Doctor Who rules, well worth a look even if you own previous editions and certainly if you do not!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who Roleplaying Game
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Achtung! Cthulhu - Shadows of Atlantis Campaign
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/14/2015 08:56:52

This mighty tome contains resources to empower you to run not just one but several campaigns weaving the Cthulhu Mythos into the horrors of the Second World War. The Introduction opens with a few words of fiction, as news of the discovery of Atlantis reaches Germany, then continues with background materials dogding neatly between what Achtung! Cthulhu is as a game and snippets introducing some of the many-layered complexities of plot that you have to play with in this book, before launching into a wealth of information about Atlantis itself... from Plato onwards, including many of the theories flying around by the 1940s which characters in the game could access as their interests take them in that direction. There's also an overview of the campaign as a whole, involving the search for Atlantis amidst a flurry of other groups who are looking for the same thing, many of whom will stop at nothing to be the first, the only, possessors of its secrets!

But what of the 'several campaigns' I mentioned? That's the clever part. The book is made up of three main sections, covering Europe and North Africa; the Middle East and Asia; and South America and the Arctic Circle. Now, you might have a very active and dedicated party who manage, even in wartime, to scamper around to all these places, but it's perhaps a bit more credible for multiple teams to be engaged in research. Each section has its own party of pre-generated characters supplied for use there, which can be issued to your players as appropriate. Or of course, if you prefer to use exsisting characters for all or some of it, there's advice on how to do that as well. The structure is very flexible so apart from the opening scene (covering Vienna and Rome) and the climax in Greenland, events can be run in pretty much any order that works best for you. If weaving it into other materials, start in late August 1939 as in, after Achtung! Cthulhu: Zero Point - The Three Kings but before Section M is set up in October 1939, which puts the characters in an ideal position to get embroiled in 'occult espionage' from the beginning. Unless you want to contend with the difficulties due to warfare, you might want to move quite swiftly and conclude the adventure by the summer of 1940 so that the party is able to travel around the world relatively freely without pesky U-boats and the like interfering!

Events in the first section, covering Europe and North Africa, start in Vienna and move through Fascist Italy before ending up in Egypt doing archaeology (what else does one do in Egypt, after all?). In the second part, the action is mainly in India and Tibet, whilst the third involves an expedition to darkest Peru. Then it's back home for a briefing in London before heading off to Greenland to discover what the Nazis are up to there and stop them in their tracks... if they can! If you have chosen to use separate parties (perhaps the proferred pre-gens) in the different sections, that London briefing can be used to draw the strands together in the hands of one group of characters (even if their players have been privy to everything!).

Each section is jam-packed with setting and background material which is of use whenever you have a party in that location, never mind when actually running this campaign. Throughout, NPCs are presented with stat blocks for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds, as are any other game mechanical parts of the book. Scattered throughout are some wonderfully-atmospheric handouts, which are collected together at the back of the book as well for easier access... certainly if you are using the PDF. Once the printed version is available, it might be a good idea to reproduce these as a free download on the Modiphius website, so you do not need to rip your book apart! Each section also contains several well-developed scenarios to provide access to the information that the characters will need to progress the campaign as a whole. Each is freeform enough to let the party wander pretty much as they please - or at least think that they can! - with notes about how to pick up any loose ends and ensure that they gain essential information and contacts.

Although there's much of use in these three sections, they are followed by a fourth one which includes the pre-generated characters (each group honed to one of the sections), adventure seeds for all the locations which are ideas arising from the author's research that didn't make it into the main plot arc but serve well as additional adventures, or for use on other visits to the same locations, additional rules and a collection of new enchantments and curses. The additional rules include notes on the perils of some of the terrain that the characters will be visiting as well as some of the creatures that they will meet. If you feel in need of additional inspiration there's a listing of books, films, web links and even other RPGs that might help.

Overall, this is a mammoth globe-spanning adventure to keep you and your players happy and engrossed for quite some time. I think I'd probably run it with a single group of characters - as many role-players prefer to hang on to their own, and to avoid confusion - or, if you know lots of people and like online gaming, you could run the sections concurrently using the pre-gens, then bring everyone together at the end to share notes and figure out how to defeat the Nazi plot! Whatever route you take, you ought to be in for some memorable adventures!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu - Shadows of Atlantis Campaign
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Southlands Campaign Setting
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/11/2015 07:13:49

New places to explore and have adventures in are always welcome, and those that push the boundaries out from the commonplace temperate quasi-mediaeval settings even more so. This one offers deserts and 'jungles' (somewhere in the back of my head a voice reminds me 'tropical rain forest' is the correct designation) and swathes of savannah grassland to roam over... and doesn't just provide places but all manner of new goodies such as new races, new types of magic and other enhancements to help you remind yourself that your character is indeed wandering around a new and different place. The diverse places are linked by a common theme: it's hot! This brings particular challenges as an environment but also an attraction... at least to me, I like my weather warm!

Intended to describe a large continent to the south of the lands depicted in the Midgard Campaign Setting, it can equally well be transplanted to your own campaign world to fill an appropriate geographical/ecological niche. The Introduction covers the scope of the work and speaks of some of the real-world influences - relics of ancient Egypt, classic Arabic tales and so on. Much is in a grand scale, and much is ancient lore waiting to be discovered. At times there's even a hint of a Conanesque flavour, throughout there are hints of things rich and strange, of an epic sweep of adventure to be had.

The first chapter, Welcome to the Southlands, provides an overview and presents 'Seven Secrets' - some quick facts to whet the appetite and maybe spawn ideas for adventures or an entire campaign. (There are, however, plenty of suggestions and adventure seeds scattered throughout the book, so don't worry if ideas are slow to come at first!) For those who want to promote the feeling of exploration, it can be fun to bring a party from elsewhere to visit the Southlands, and to facilitate that there's a wonderful NPC, Samad el-Fasiel, a local guide and factotum who always seems to know about interesting places to go and things to do... no matter where you happen to be at the time. There's a bit of history, going back to the dawn of time itself and running up to the present, with whole civilisations rising and falling (naturally leaving behind plenty of artefacts and lore...) and leading to current tensions. You'll find familiar races - humans and dwarves and more - and others, fully playable, such as the proud werelions (or nkosi), gnolls and trollkin, and stranger yet the plant-based kijani and the insectoid tosculi. The gods themselves take an interest, there is magic, there are dragons, mighty empires and ancient libraries... It all leaves one slightly breathless but wanting to find out more!

We then begin a tour of the various parts of the Southlands, starting with the River Kingdom of Nuria Natal, strongly influenced by ancient Egypt. After all, if you visit here there are tombs to rob and hieroglyphic magic to learn. Local deities - of whom there are rather a lot - take an active role in everyday life and are believed to walk the streets and even engage in theological debates with the assorted priesthoods! A large river runs through the centre of the kingdom enabling fertile lands to be carved out of the surrounding desert. There are several towns to visit, described in considerable detail like Per-Bastet, swarming with cats and where law enforcement is different depending on which part of the town you happen to be in. You'll find notes on monsters and other perils and a selection of adventure ideas.

Each succeeding region is given similar treatment - descriptions of the region and places worth visiting, creatures found there, local deities, notable items of equipment, the environment and its dangers, and so on. There are maps and city plans, new spells and even classes... all manner of material to help you bring each place alive, vivid reminders that this isn't a mediaeval version of your hometown where magic works but something far richer and stranger. The text itself spawns many ideas for adventure, never mind the specific lists of ideas scattered throughout. If deserts are not your thing, you might prefer the jungles or the dwarf-inhabited western areas, the Corsair Coast or the vast central expanse of the Abandoned Lands, a vast area with a small and scattered population. Or maybe the Southern Fringes with vast riches and greater dangers will attract you?

For those who enjoy exploring new places this is a real treat. There are discoveries to be made and adventures to be had... once your party has visited the Southlands they'll never be quite the same! A delightful addition to Midgard, or indeed to any campaign world that could do with a warm, unexplored continent.



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Southlands Campaign Setting
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The Dracula Dossier: Dracula Unredacted
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2015 13:02:21

Possibly the largest, most comprehensive play-aid ever produced, this book consists of the complete text of Bram Stoker's Dracula along with masses of notes, documents and comments that can be used as clues, hints and inspiration for a massive Nights Black Agents game. The premise is simple to state: What if Stoker hadn't been writing fiction at all but an after-action report on an attempt to recruit a vampire by the British Secret Service? Naturally, they'd not want word of such a thing getting out, so the novel with which we all are familiar has been heavily censored (in spy-speak, 'redacted') to conceal what was really going on.

However, anyone who knows the British civil service will know that they never chuck anything out (although whether or not they'll admit that they have it is another matter), so the full unredacted text has been festering away somewhere, accumulating more notes as years pass particularly during subsequent attempts to utilise that most famous of vampires in the national interest particularly in 1940 and during the Cold War. And now... this bundle has fallen into the party's hands. What will they do with it?

What you, as GM, need to decide is how it gets to them and why, and what is really going on. The companion volume The Dracula Dossier: Director's Handbook provides guidance aplenty, but this is an extremely open-ended concept - a campaign that is ready for you and indeed your players to put their own spin on the whole thing.

Marginal notes and scribbled comments that would drive a librarian to distraction, in several different hands that are, mercifully, pretty legible. The whole thing hangs together coherently, in an eminently believable manner. Stylistically, the expanded text matches Bram Stoker's own style well, it is only by comparison (or knowing the novel well) that you can discern what has been added. As a 'dossier' you might wish for added material - photos, sketches, maps - over and above the annotated text (you could always devise your own additions of course), but as the ultimate player hand-out this is hard to beat!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dracula Dossier: Dracula Unredacted
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2300 AD Star Cruiser
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2015 07:16:52

If you enjoy space combat and want to approach it as a 'wargame', this set of rules and other resources will enable you to do so within the context of your 2300 AD game, moving seamlessly from character-level role-playing to ship-to-ship combat. For those who like their games realistic, this ruleset has been designed to model as closely as possible what would be likely to happen in a space combat - the only real breach of known physical laws is the existence of 'stutterwarp' as a propulsion system.

As a box set, several books are included (they come as a single large PDF file if you purchase a download copy). The first one, Star Cruiser Rule Book, contains the actual combat system - a good straightforward one - along with a collection of scenarios to fight out (complete with lists of appropriate ships to use) and a lot of ships to use in your battles. There's no scope for character involvement, even if you do decide that the party is aboard one of the participating ships - this is pure 'wargame'.

Next is the Naval Architect's Manual. This is designed to enable quite detailed ship design, and takes you through the process step-by-step from the original concept through to all the details of power plant, armament, crew size and such like that you'll need to know - especially if you want to test your new design in battle using the rules provided.

Finally, there's a whole bunch of Ship Status Sheets covering every vessel mentioned as well as a few blanks for you to add your own designs. There are also ship counters and a large map on which to fight out your battles. (If using the PDF version and printing, you might want to make your own map as this one is basically black - it is space, after all - and will eat up your black ink!)

Overall, if you want to have a stand-alone space combat boardgame, this is quite a neat and straightforward one. If you want a space combat game that links in to the 2300 AD galaxy, perhaps to resolve the outcomes of disputes in the background of your role-playing (for example, Kafer ships are included so if the Kafer invasion is part of your campaign, you might have a space battle or two being fought out that the party will hear about...), this one makes good use of the background set up for the game. The one place it falls down is if you want to have the party involved in space actions. This is ship-on-ship combat, pure and simple. And fun!



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
2300 AD Star Cruiser
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The Dracula Dossier: Director's Handbook
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2015 09:47:00

What if? What if Dracula was real and moreover the subject of an attempt to recruit him by British Intelligence... an attempt which failed? And what if Bram Stoker's novel Dracula is but a heavily-redacted version of the after-action report?

This is the core premise upon which The Dracula Dossier: Director's Handbook is built, but in spectacular fashion. It's not a scenario or even a campaign but a mammoth toolbox of resources to enable you to take this 'What if?' and run with it, run in whatever direction you'd like to go. For the original 'What if?' is only the beginning. In 1940, the Allies tried to use Dracula to bring Romania into the war on their side (but succeeded only in driving them to join the Axis instead). Then in the 1960s... and there's loads more, with everything referenced and scribbled down in The Dracula Dossier ... and so we reach the next 'What if?'. What if your party got its hands on The Dracula Dossier and started to investigate it?

And they can. The Dracula Dossier: Dracula Unredacted puts the entire text, from 1894 right to the present day, in your players' hands, just as their characters are sent a copy in your game. Possibly the most epic playaid ever, they can root through it and find avenues of investigation - whilst you pore through this Director's Handbook for all the resources you need to run the events and encounters that result from their research. By turning Bram Stoker's novel into the bowdlerised version of a spy thriller, and then releasing the unredacted version, a whole new spin is put on vampires... and who better to investigate than Night's Black Agents?

It is all very improvisational... and can even be collaborative if you choose. It's up to you what is actually going on, and you could choose to allow player choices about what strand they wish to investigate determine what's actually true and important - as their characters are, after all, supposed to be experienced veteran agents - rather than decide for yourself long before the game begins. Basically, the annotations in Dracula Unredacted provide the leads whilst this Director's Handbook gives you a wealth of options for what each clue means. There are even some ideas for playing this differently - perhaps for some reason the characters only have a copy of the novel, or maybe in your world Dracula Unredacted is a myth which they'll have to find (if it exists) whilst dealing with those who would rather it did not come to light! And if you have an established Night's Black Agents campaign in which vampires are either completely different from the 'Dracula' sort or don't exist at all, then this still can make a mammoth sourcebook of people and places... or perhaps there's more than one sort of vampire out there?

There's plenty of advice about building your conspyramid, and how to use the names and other references to bemuse or aid your party as the game progresses. Suggestions are cross-referenced so that you know who belongs where, but there's loads of flexibility to let you make what you want of the whole thing. This isn't something you pick up and run straight from the text like many published adventures, but with good pre-planning and a thorough knowledge of this book's contents, you can react swiftly to whatever your players decide to do, confident that it's all going to fit together in the end.,/p>

The actual resources are arranged thematically, starting with an overview of the 1894 origins and the legacies left behind. Then there's a look at the various forces interested in the matter at hand, most of whom will be opposed to the pesky party poking around. Next comes a massive collection of people who are (or were) involved subsequent to the plot's origins. They are grouped by era: 1940, 1977 and 2011. Locations (arranged by nation) and objects follow and then there are three 'scenario spines' intended as exemplars of how your campaign might develop - with the comforting note that yours doesn't need to be laid out so well as you are the only one who needs to understand it! Of course you may like one or more of them enough that you'll make use of them in developing your own campaign. These are followed by several 'capstones' designed to provide appropriate climactic endings to your campaign. Again, use one of these or come up with your own as appropriate.

All the above give structure and substance to what you are building, but where does style come in? This is addressed in a section on 'campaign frames', three options which allow you to shape your campaign as a fight against terrible forces (almost Cthulhu-style), as the sort of thriller you might read during a long flight, or as a twisted conspiracy that's run from 1894 right through to the present day and which is carrying on secretly right now. Take your pick, based on the sort of games you like to run, and which your players enjoy. Finally, the city of Bucharest is presented in detail.

This is a mammoth work to take aboard - and I don't mean the nearly 400 pages it comprises! The sheer scope of the campaign mixed with exceptional flexibility mean that there is the potential to create a truly epic series of adventures with your players, games that will be remembered and talked about for as long as... well, the Dracula stories themselves.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dracula Dossier: Director's Handbook
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2300 AD Ranger
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2015 09:02:46

This book combines sourcebook information about the planet Kormoran, the fourth planet of 82 Eridani, and an adventure set thereon... so you can use it in different ways. Perhaps the party has a reason to visit Kormoran, so you have data about it, then you might choose to run the adventure, or you may bring them there - or even start a campaign there - purely to use the adventure, then you have additional information about the place should they decide to remain there afterwards. One of the interesting things about Kormoran is that it is the homeworld of a sentient species called the Ebers. It also is home to Arab and Texan colonies who don't exactly get along. Interesting indeed... and in 'interesting' adventure is often to be found. Indeed, this tension is the core of the adventure itself, which sees the party embroiled in a three-way struggle between Arabs, Texans and Ebers. Can they bring peace?

We begin, however, with sourcebook material, beginning with chapters covering the 82 Eridani system, the Ebers, Kormoran's geography, its flora and fauna and more. One interesting point about the Ebers is that some are 'civilised' (or at least live in permament settlements) whilst others are nomadic. The two groups have completely different technologies and indeed approach to life. The Ebers' rise to sentience is also covered, which makes for a fascinating read as well as touching on the way in which they behave in present times. It should be noted that this is 'referee only' information, as their behaviour is pivotal to the adventure and finding out why they act as they do - or at least gaining some understanding of what they mean by some of the really strange things they say - is pivotal to bringing it to a satisfactory conclusion. Their language - very tonal, they pretty much sing pure notes to communicate meaning - is also discussed at length.

Whilst the extensive Eber material is fascinating and germane, presenting as it does yet another beautifully-developed alien lifeform, it must be remembered that others live there now as well. As mentioned, the main groups are Arabs and Texans, and each group is discussed in detail. The Arabs possibly understand the Ebers better, but cling to their knowledge jealously. The Texans, on the other hand, have the Rangers... who are the linear descendants of the original Earth Texas Rangers. There's a chapter devoted to them, as the assumption is that the party will likely form an alliance with them, work for them or even join up in the course of the adventure (or before, especially if you are starting your campaign with this adventure).

The rest of the book consists of the adventure proper, and it's a cracking ride of a frontier adventure with plenty to do: interaction, investigation and some good brawls. Care is taken to get the characters embedded into the community before the real action starts. This works well both in making the place seem more 'real' and in giving them some investment in looking after it once things begin to go downhill. The Ebers are on the warpath, and nature is fairly unfriendly too. But the evidence as to what is really going on is out there...

With yet another excellent and truly alien sentient race to encounter, a developing conflict to understand and two different human factions working at cross-purposes, this is a very good addition to the 2300 AD line, with an adventure I'm itching to run!



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2300 AD Ranger
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2300 AD Equipment Guide
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/23/2015 07:44:06

The Equipment Guide does pretty much what it says on the tin, provide a large list of useful items (excluding vehicles and weapons) which an adventurer in 2300 AD might find useful. It's laid out in a manner designed to be easy for use, with chapters mostly on functional lines (so medical, security, etc.), with chapters on alien artefacts from Pentapods and Kafers at the end. There's enough detail to make the items seem real, and enough game mechanical information to allow them to be used in the game.

First up is Medical Equipment, covering a range of things from what you need to resupply your first aid kit to 'automeds' and a wide range of pharmacuticals. Details of anagathics (anti-aging treatments) are included, and in every case there's a task for using the item (or avoiding side effects in the case of some of the drugs) as well as costs and some line art. A packet of pills looks like... well, a packet of pills, though!

Next is Security Systems, probably more use for the referee trying to keep the party out of places they shouldn't be. Much of it - writing the review almost 30 years after the book was written - is already if not in common use at least in experimental stages now. Tools for bypassing security are also available (although generally illegal), as well as surveillance devices and all sorts of other stuff that has some link to the concept of 'security'.

2300 AD is a game about exploration, so the next section on Exploratory Equipment is of particular use. This starts off with survival equipment, much of which will be familiar to anyone who likes visiting extreme environments or even just does a lot of hiking and camping. Intertial mapping systems are interesting, and there are also sub-sections on personal communication equipment, a solar power generator for field use, and various items to augment the senses. There's also a sub-section on oceanic equipment, should you fancy some underwater exploration.

Computers merit a section to themselves, with some interesting notes about 'wearable' and even sub-dermal equipment, and then rather oddly - given that this book is not about military material - a section on Combat Walkers. Designed for fighting, there are no peaceful uses for the beasts, they wouldn't even make useful cargo lifters! Next, it's out to space with a section on Space Equipment. Chief amongst this is the pressure suit (P-suit). As well as personal equipment, we also find satellites here. They can have a range of uses: navigation, communications, survey or even surveillance. The last of the regular equipment chapters is the catch-all of General Use Equipment - you'll find a wide range of stuff from a multitool to explosives, along with various tool kits, cargo handling equipment and so on.

Next comes a chapter on Pentapod Products. Produced by the alien species called Pentapods, they use bioengineering to produce analogues of many things that humans use technology for. Some of these are quite ingenious, others plain weird.

Finally, a chapter looks at Kafer Equipment. Unlike Pentapod items, which can be bought on the open market, Kafer ones can only be acquired by taking them from captured or dead Kafer. A lot of effort is being devoted to attempts to understand them, and to figure out how they work... in some cases, what they do. Each entry gives the human-assigned name, a physical description and notes on what it is thought that they do. This chapter is player-friendly, describing what has been discovered so far (the referee is directed to the Kafer Sourcebook for more accurate information).

Overall, this is a useful book to have to hand, especially if your players enjoy 'gearing up' their characters. Presentation is logical, with everything you need grouped together (description, rules for use and illustration), even if some of the illustrations seem to take up a lot of space without adding much to the effect. There's a good index at the back (provided you can recall the name of what you are looking for). It all helps to make the galaxy of 2300 AD a bit more 'real'.



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2300 AD Equipment Guide
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2300 AD Ground Vehicle Guide
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2015 07:17:51

Subtitled 'Vehicles for Unearthly Terrain' this is a collection of ground vehicles that are to be found throughout the 2300 AD galaxy - well, the human-colonised bits anyway (plus a few Kafer ones for good measure). It's a bit heavy on military vehicles, although you might either want a combat vehicle or hold that they are suitably rugged to cope with frontier environments. There are dedicated exploration vehicles, though, if you prefer to remain civilian.

Each vehicle comes with a line-art sketch, game mechanical details and some background text. These include details of how easy it is to get hold of, the equipment and other facilities that it has; and also looks at modifications that are commonly found. Naturally it's up to the party to suggest other modifications that they would like to make (generally things like adding weapons!) and for the referee to rule on cost and if it's even possible.

Vehicles range from a specialised exploration vehicle to hovercraft, trucks, snow-skimmers, luxury limos... just about anything you can imagine. Many can cope with off-roading in rough terrain but some do need a road so will be limited to the better-developed parts of whichever planet the party is on. There are even trains - with options for conventional railroad ones, maglevs and airfilm suspension. It's unlikely that these will be personal vehicles, but characters might well need to take a ride to get wherever they are going on one.

For the miliary-minded, there are tanks and other military vehicles, including some drones (if operated from a vehicle). These often have variants depending on the intended use, and information about weapons systems is included should you end up having to fight! Interestingly, military vehicles from several nations - chiefly Germany, America and France - are included. Personally, there are rather too many of what appear superficially similar combat vehicles, but if your campaign involves a lot of fighting you might find the variety of use. Finally, there are some Kafer military vehicles. Mostly these will form the opposition, but perhaps the party might get the chance to capture or steal one.

The vehicle listings are followed by notes on various 'vehicle accessories' that you or the party may wish to add. There are also a few colour illustrations including some uniform patches and vehicle markings, as well as a few cut-away drawings of some of the military vehicles mentioned earlier.

There's a good selection here, particular if it is a military vehicle that you are after. They manage to have a slight air of future-tech whilst being rooted in reality. Apparently driverless car technology has not taken off by 2300 AD! Although some vehicles can be sealed, and there's mention of a Pentapod air filter, little mention has been made of adaptations needed for use on airless worlds or ones where the atmosphere is unbreatheable for whatever reason (too thin, wrong composition...).



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2300 AD Ground Vehicle Guide
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