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Lankhmar: Lankhmar Poster Map
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/02/2015 04:34:21
The map is a larger version of the bird's eye view map in the book. The map is about 34 x 33 inches, or 4 x 3 letter (8.5" x 11") pages. At 99% Tile Scale, the map is 25.5 x 33 inches, or 3 x 3 pages. The map is beautifully illustrated, with the major city areas and streets labelled. The utility of the map will depend on your use of a small scale map.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lankhmar: Lankhmar Poster Map
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Tavern!
Publisher: Krewe of Harpocrates Publication
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2015 07:43:57
Meaty and substantial supplement primarily written for Pathfinder. Can be used for other systems. Includes a tavern-inn with its map. Well worth the price!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern!
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Description Cards: Storytellers Deck - Creative Inspiration for Writers, Storytellers and GMs. Contains 80 Cards
Publisher: Conflict Games, LLC
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2015 07:07:37
Storyteller Cards: The Storyteller Cards add details and descriptions to your RPGs, storytelling games, and even adventure games. The tarot-sized cards are visually clear, and you can often just draw a random card of a particular set, and find a description. The sets are: Character Distinctions, Expressions, Ill-Intent, Pain, Environment: The Labryinth, and Environment: Smells and Sounds. The Storyteller Card deck has eighty cards, and each set is about 12 cards. While the cards are a better fit for generic fantasy roleplaying, they're also suitable for other genres, such as the Cthulhu Mythos, westerns, noir, etc..

Character Distinctions: The Character Distinctions cards have three different physical distinctions each, such as Gangly, Deep-Set Eyes, and Shuffles. Each distinction has a negative connotation and a positive one, each one sentence long. Fantasy gamers can also use them for non-human encounters, while Cthulhu Keepers will use negative descriptions for those unsettling villagers.

Expressions: The Expressions cards include Bias, Confidence, Fear, Love, etc. Each card is divided into about single-word ten Physical Clues, and ten Emotional Clues. For example, the Arrogant/Snob card has Sneering as a Physical Clue and Demeans others as an Emotional clue. While shorter in description than the other cards, the cards have more suggestions per card. They should also be useful to gamemasters who have important NPCs with their own plots and subplots (eg. two characters who are in love, or a servant fearful of his master).

Ill-Intent: The Ill-Intent cards have three different descriptions each for villains and enemies. One of the card's descriptions, for example, are Selfish, Wicked, and Slaughterhouse. The descriptions on each card cover intelligent opponents and savage ones. Each description is divided into a non-combat description and a combat one, a sentence each. They're a bit on the "telling instead of showing" side (eg. "You sense that this person is motivated by their own selfish desires"), but should be convenient for random hostile encounters with throwaway enemies that don't need much detail or depth.

Pain: Pain might be more suitable as part of the Combat Description cards, but they do a good job for any genre. Each of the twelve Pain cards has three traits, such as Vice-Like, Convulsive, and Ache. Each trait has two descriptions, one localized, and the other more general. Use the Pain cards for critical injuries, death throes, Mythos deaths, or other climactic drama.

Environment: The Labyrinth: Ostensibly for indoor dungeons, these cards are quite useful for haunted houses and other unsettling places as well. Each card has a Sounds, Sight, and Smells section, such as Scurry, Blood, and Smoke. Obviously, if you randomly draw a card you can't use, just draw another. If you play Call of Cthulhu, why not have a temporarily insane character hear something that might not -- or might -- be there?

Environment: Smells and Sounds: These environment cards are for the outdoors. Each card has four terrains: Forest, Jungles, Woods; Marshes, Swamps, Bogs; Mountain, Hills; and Desert, Plains. Each of these terrains has two descriptions, anything from something visual, to a sudden noise. While vivid, the descriptions often have connotations that might not fit the current situation: "Bird calls and lazy leaves float down from the rich canopy above" may not be suited for a dark forbidden forest setting. Personally, I would have found more useful outdoor environmental cards which had a "quiet" description and an "unexpected noise (or movement)" one.

Art: The deck has six different card backs, each with three characters, mostly generic fantasy human males. Use them as important NPCs in your campaigns!

Blank cards: The Storytelling deck comes with a blank card for each category.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Description Cards: Storytellers Deck - Creative Inspiration for Writers, Storytellers and GMs. Contains 80 Cards
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Combat Description Cards (Over 700 System Neutral Ways to Describe Combat on 120 Cards)
Publisher: Conflict Games, LLC
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2015 06:57:37
Combat Description Cards are ingeniously set up and easy to use. The cards divide themselves into three types of damage: Piercing, Blunt, and Slash. Each type is then broken down into one of three attack styles: Finesse, Power, and Range. Each style has a clear readable one-word Action-Word (eg. For a Blunt attack, it's Impressive for Finesse, Batter for Power, and Thump for Range) with its description. The first half of the description describes the successful attack by the hero, and option second the vanquishing of the foe! The deck consists of 120 tarot-sized cards. Pretty obviously, you'll want to use these cards if your games involve combat.

Combat Description Cards is available on RPGNow as a PDF, Amazon in deck format, and the publisher's website for both. The cards will also be available as an app in the future.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Combat Description Cards (Over 700 System Neutral Ways to Describe Combat on 120 Cards)
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Qelong
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/31/2014 16:56:02
If you're looking for an oriental-themed world with a nasty twist, this is it. In a war between two celestials, an object of immense magical power has fallen, and not in a good way. Leaking magical energies, not only do archmagi want the power, but it has mutated and devasted the entire land -- and awakened another god, as well. Horrible creatures have arisin, civilization has broken down, and terrible magic seeps over the countryside. Refugees... mutated creatures... magical devastation... pockets of oriental and occidental city-states... the occasional sanctuary... the followers of a snakelike demigoddess... Qelong is packed with adventure seeds for a GM to develop.

However, that may be the problem. For GMs looking for low-prep adventures, Qelong isn't it. Most of material is presented in the conventional "two lines of description and a big stat block" format, with random encounter tables for wilderness areas. With many of the scenarios involving humans and other intelligent creatures, the GM will have to develop a situation which can't be solved with combat alone. The ideas in this setting are fantastic, but require a fair amount of work to develop.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Qelong
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No Salvation for Witches
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 00:18:48
I became interested in the Lamentations adventures after its epic Free RPG Day "Better than Any Man" adventure. I'm happy to say that, while No Salvation for Witches (guess what the acronymn abbreviates to) is smaller in scope, it's much more manageable for GMs to run (less prep despite its warning it's not a low-prep adventure), yet has the same play qualities that attracted me to Better.

No, not the shock and gore (although it's in No Salvation, too). Both Better and No Salvation place an event in medieval history as an key part of the story. In the case of No Salvation, it's the horrible effects of hyperinflation, brough on by The Price Revolution (no, I haven't heard of it either and it should have been taught) on the lowest classes. Both have strong motivated characters, who happen to be persecuted women, who want to make their world a better place. Both have their "Road to Hell" NPCs doing the Wrong Thing for the Right Reasons. And both have their utterly alien entities present in the adventure. No gods as personifications of man here!

Sure, the gore and shock are there. Particularly, the color and detailed illustrations have less the dread of horror, as they often "show you what the monster looks like", as it were. However, GMs can use this as a playing aid, by describing and not showing the horrors, and letting the players create the terror in their own minds. The art is by Jason Rainville, and I highly suggest looking at his other work on his website.

Speaking of horror, it's often difficult to run a horror fantasy RPG, because the characters can often blast and hack their way through a problem. However, with No Salvation, the almost X-Files encounters present off-balancing situations with terrible consequences. Several scenes start off with a case of science fiction strangeness, plainly telling players that someone's changed the rules, and good luck not setting off a chain reaction that ends everything.

The adventure ends with a magic item random generator, ostensibly for ritual employing tomes to summon other beings, but useful as a random ritual generator, and random demon attribute generator.

Shock and gore aside, it's a shame that more adventures aren't written like this: motivated NPCs, historical backdrop, and fantastic situations. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
No Salvation for Witches
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A Single, Small Cut
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 00:26:14
A Single Small Cut is a short one-session scenario in which our heroes stumble upon Something That Went Wrong. Evening's falling, the party sees a church, and they find themselves encoutering some not-good folks who are in over their heads. The scenario is perfectly fine for generic fantasy roleplaying, but lacks the trademark "torture-porn" of other Lamentation adventures. The scenario could serve as a McGuffin for your later adventures, as the party may end up aware of a magical item that needs to be dealt with. Although designed for six 3rd level characters, it can be altered for higher and possibly lower PC levels. Given the importance of the magical item, I would reserve it for at least third level. The scenario does have an interesting backstory that doesn't fall into the usual generic fantasy adventure cliches, but, like too many dungeoncrawlers, this backstory doesn't affect the gameplay.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
A Single, Small Cut
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #79.5: Tower of the Black Pearl
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2014 01:55:09
As a .5 product, Tower of the Black Pearl was originally written for the pre-DCC Dungeon Crawl Classic line of adventures, for D&D/d20/OGL/whatever gameplay. Not surprisingly, then, it's more of a generic FRPG module, than an epic-swilling Harley Stroh DCC adventure. Unfortunately, while it's a good generic module, it's not as vivid as the Michael Curtis DCC adventures, either.

The plotline is that once every 100 years (or whatever), The Tower of the Black Pearl surfaces for only eight hours. However, a group of pirates arrive first, and the PCs have to deal with them as well as the Tower. The adventure has twelve areas, and is a standalone adventure. If you're looking for a longer more developed pirate-y adventure, I highly recommend the TSR / WotC Underwater Saltmarsh series, starting with U1: Secret of Saltmarsh.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #79.5: Tower of the Black Pearl
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #78: Fate's Fell Hand
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/26/2014 23:56:52
So what were your characters doing at second level? Killing orcs? Hacking at zombies? Running away from lizardmen? Well, if you're playing a Harley Stroh Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure, you're doing nothing of the above. You're probably playing another of his fantastic epic-swilling insanely brilliant how-do-we-top-this adventure.

And fantastic this one is. A magical demi-plane in another dimension is slowly succumbing to chaos-plasm, and it's up to the characters to save it. No, wait. The characters just want to get out, and it won't be easy with three not-so-friendly wizards in an age-old power balance, each expecting the player characters to swear fealty and assist them. Add to this some jaded petty and powerful NPCs, a demon manipulating the game hiding in plain sight, and several mindless hideous creatures lurking at the edges of the world.

The game? Every day, the demon, in the guise of The Fool, deals the cards from a deck and the NPC associated with each card returns back to life and swears fealty to the the wizard who received it. Every day, the wizards scheme and attempt to use their minions to capture the plaques of the other wizards to escape the plane. None have succeeded, and for as long as the other NPCs have remembered, they have died, resurrected, and are well-aware of this endless cycle of eternal stalemate.

Except it's not going to be eternal much longer. With the arrival of the PC's comes the corruption of chaos. The demi-plane is embedded in chaos, and has been able to resist it dissolution into the chaos-plasm. But the PCs arrival has caused the chaos to slowly reclaim and consume the plane, and everyone has only so much time left.

The adventure is well-crafted, with the Harley Stroh elements we've come to expect from his previous scenarios: dangerous mad NPCs with strong personalities, detailed devious dungeons, and epic dimension-spanning plotlines. And did I mention that the PCs can become part of the deck? Yes, that does mean players may find themselves swearing fealty to opposing wizards each day!

Not suprisingly, there's more of an emphasis on the wizards and their minions-of-the-day (perhaps including the PCs!) than your average dungeon crawler. While this is an exciting diversion from the usual generic FRPG adventure, it's probably best for experienced GMs and players willing to roleplay out their unusual situation. Unfortunately, other than some GM tips, there's almost no information in the adventure bridging the power struggle plot with the dungeon lairs of the wizards. For example, while we have a detailed layout of the dungeons and the personal agendas of NPCs that live there, we don't have examples of how the wizards even communicate with the characters. Do they appear as ghostly images? Do their minions speak for them? Do they invade the character's dreams? Of course, wizards being wizards, any of these ways of contacting the player characters would work. It's pretty much the GM's responsibility to negotiate and roleplay out the relationships the characters have with the wizards. I really would have liked to have read some examples of how the adventure played out in playtest groups to get an idea of how to run it.

So if you have the players up for this sort of adventure, and have the GM ability to run it, enjoy the adventure. Much more interesting than killing orcs.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #78: Fate's Fell Hand
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Golden Sky Stories
Publisher: Star Line Publishing
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/12/2014 20:27:13
Introduction: I'll preface this review with a high recommendation for the free Golden Sky Stories Demo PDF. It actually contains most of what you need to understand and try out a henge roleplaying game. Henge (pronounced hen-gay) are animals who can transform into humans, and their stories take place in small countryside towns in Japan. Henge adventures are small, slice-of-life stories about helping others by doing little things. It's a child who's lost something, a Japanese shrine protector who's lonely, or a misunderstanding that needs to be taken care of.

The demo PDF not only summarizes the rules (although presents them in an alternate form for purposes of learning the game), but includes a complete introductory adventure. Print multiple copies so players have their copies of the rules and character generation. The PDF truncates the complete rules and does not have all the henge character types (see character generation), nor game master support. But, for some players and game masters, henge roleplaying can be so far from conventional combat-oriented RPGs that they may find the demo quite useful to get used to it. Individual pages from the PDF can be printed as rules summaries, character type summaries, and the character sheet. I would recommend first playing through the demo, then using the book for further storytelling.

GSS demo: http://starlinepublishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/201-
3-GSSDemo-StarlinePublishing.pdf


Character Generation

Each player will play a henge. (GSS still has a game master, called the narrator.) A henge is an animal who is able to take human form, and, in Japanese countryside culture, many animal types have stereotyped personalities: Foxes are haughty centuries-old creatures, often associated with the local gods surrounding the town; Raccoon dogs, or tanuki, are shapechangers, including into inanimate objects; Cats and dogs are close to their western perception as independent or friendly creatures; and Rabbits are needy -- but spoiled -- creatures. The setting for a henge is typically a small countryside Japanese town, with local gods (more like supernatural entities) reflecting aspects of the nature around them.

Each character receives a set of powers associated with their henge, and selects up to three weaknesses associated with their henge. For example, the Cat powers are Kitty (0), Fuzzy (4), Peek into Hearts (6), Stealthy Feet (8), Cat Paths (10), and Friends (14). Numbers indicate the cost in Wonder tokens to activate the power. Each Weakness also provides an additional Power. The Can't Swim weakness, for example, is paired with the Acrobatics (4) Power.

Each character has four attributes: Henge, Animal, Adult, and Child. Henge represents supernatural abilities; Animal strength and animalistic power; Adult the ability to do adult things, including technology; and Child the ability to do emotional things, like wheedle adults and have fun.

Each player then defines the connection their henge has with each other player's henge. A connection is a description and degree of a relationship that you have with another entity. For example, your character could have a Rivalry of strength 1 to another character. While connections need to make sense, they need not be the same -- one character may have Protection 2 towards another character, but the other character may have Love 2 towards the first! The strength of each connection is 2 if there are two other characters, or otherwise 1. Player henge also have connection to non-player entities, such as humans, animals, and even the town itself.


Mechanics

Rather than conventional "roll dice to beat or exceed a number", GSS uses a currency-based system. The game has three currencies:

Dream: Dream tokens are awarded during a scene by players and the narrator for good roleplaying. At the end of a scene, players spend dream tokens to increase their connections with other characters (including themselves) that they've encountered during the scene.

Wonder: Wonder tokens are used during a scene to pay the cost for a character to use one of his powers. For example, the shapechanging raccoon dog has the Become Anything (8) power, so would spend 8 Wonder whenever he shapechanges. Players gain Wonder tokens at the beginning of scene equal to the total of their connection strengths TO others.

Feelings: Feeling tokens are used during a scene to add to an attribute to make a "check". Similar to adding a dice roll to a stat to make or beat a target number, the Narrator tells the player which attribute will be used and what total result will be required. The player may spend any Feeling he needs to pass or exceed the check. Players gain Wonder tokens at the beginning of scene equal to the total of their connection strengths FROM others.

While the mechanics aren't difficult, the terminology and gameplay is quite different from conventional, combat-focused RPGs. I found it tricky to understand the complete rules of the book, so recommend learning from the demo. A glossary and index would also have been useful. The mechanics are probably best learned through the demo pdf, and the rulebook used once the narrator has the basics down.


Stories

GSS provides support for the narrator to adjust to this different sort of roleplaying: story design advice, town setting advice and a premade town, two introductory stories, an animal bestiary, descriptions of the various types of people in town, and both play sessions and an example story. The descriptions of the types of animals and people in the town include adventure seeds narrators can use to form adventures. After all, henge stories are often about helping others. Despite henge stories being different than western generic fantasy roleplaying, they may be well-suited for improvisational play: the narrator presents and open-ended problem, the players brainstorm a possible solution, and the narrator runs with it. After all, if a boy wants to try to confess his feelings to a girl, there are many ways of doing it! Also, like slice-of-life manga stories, GSS stories may be one-shot, as well as longer-running stories.


Art

The primary artist is manga artis Ike (altitude attitude). His own manga, Nekomusume Michikusa Nikki, "Catgirl's Wayside Grass Diary", is about a henge cat girl who lives in a small countryside town. (The manga is occasionally risque, so would be rated for older teen or higher. Most of Ike's art on Danbooru, Pixiv, and Konachan are SFW.) Unlike the generic fantasy art in most rulebooks, the art in GSS not only supports the section of the book it appears in, but often shows a glimpse of the personality of whoever is in the picture.


Conclusion

If you're looking for a gentle, non-violent, all-ages roleplaying game, this is it! Mechanics still stay within the realm of conventional roleplaying, but the simple countryside setting and "helping others" gameplay are entirely different. The slice-of-life genre allows the narrator to adjust the story to the amount of time available for the gaming group, and subject matter to the group's sensabilities.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Golden Sky Stories
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #77: The Croaking Fane
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/29/2013 01:04:31
Michael Curtis' The Croaking Fane doesn't have the fantastic epic-swilling heights of insanity of a Harley Stroh's DCC adventure, but is a highly thematic dungeon crawl nonetheless. The party hears of an abandoned fane, enters, and fights froggy things. The Croaking Fane has something of a backstory of two amphibious factions fighting it out, but I'm not sure how well it affects the dungeon-crawling gameplay of the adventure. Still, players wanting a good, highly-themed, froggy crawl should enjoy The Croaking Fane.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #77: The Croaking Fane
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #76: Colossus, Arise!
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2013 02:36:33
One axiom of good dungeon design is the "method behind the madness". Yet, despite this adventure advice, most dungeon crawls hand-wave their background with the simple "abandoned caves with monsters who wandered in" trope. I look forward to Harley Stroh's dungeon adventures because this never happens. Instead, Stroh will take an adventure cliche and run it to its insane yet consistent conclusion. In "Colossus, Arise!", that trope is the "Cycle of Mankind".

The last remnants of the Ur-Lireans, divine, statuesque titans of the second age, wish to bring the next cycle forward. This isn't good news for your adventurers, quite content to keep the third age going as long as possible, thank you very much. Your heroes come late to the scene, as the Ur-Lireans have already "uplifted" men from the current third age into so-called "Sons of the Second Age", and they're not exactly making themselves unknown around the area.

Several desert encounters provide background of the reach of the Ur-Lireans. Then, after infiltrating past the Second Sons, the party arrives into the lair of the Ur-Lirean cult. The Ur-Lireans are quite busy sacrificing victims, uplifting third age men into Sons through horrible ceremonies, and engaging terrible magics and powerful artifacts to animate the dead titan (and his frickin' autonomous BRAIN) from the first age. You know, because the 484 soon-to-be-hatched bloodthirsty worm-men of the fourth age aren't enough. Good luck (and good bye), third age.

Subtlety this ain't, but the previous DCC adventures should have told you that. Instead, DCC presents us yet another momentous world-shattering epic adventure that should keep your players busy. Or, at least, very very dead.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #76: Colossus, Arise!
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Tournaments, Fairs, and Taverns: PATHFINDER
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/15/2013 13:12:09
Tournaments, Fairs, and Taverns is a 70+ page Pathfinder Compatible supplement by EN Publishing, a part of EN World. Members of the EN World community helped contribute to this book, adding a great amount of creativity (including Bear Wrasslin!) to this somewhat crunchy book. In addition to a wide variety of staid and creative tavern, tournament, festival, and even magic tournament games, rules for drinknig and gambling are provided. GM advice is provided, along with a sample tournament, an exotic market night, and large gambling house. An appendix of tables for merchandise, tavern drinks, etc. ends the book, along with a roster of ready-to-use NPCs.

This book is pretty much a must-have for those neglected scenes in which the party has a bit of recreation in the tavern, before the inevitable stranger asks them for help. (And why did he ask for help? Because he saw how well they did in the tavern game!) A party's proficienty in a tournament will catch the attention of a noble who is looking for services. Taverns, fairs, and tournaments can be sources of rumors, information, and the occasional thief. Even if you don't use Pathfinder or OGL, you can let the book do the creative work of the backdrop, so you can focus on the plot and adventure.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tournaments, Fairs, and Taverns: PATHFINDER
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Deadlands Noir: The Old Absinthe House Blues
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2013 23:09:38
The Old Absinthe House Blues isn't a bad adventure. But after the Red Harvest adventure of the core book, I found OAHB to have less noir and be less intertwined with the New Orleans of Deadlands: Noir. Particularly with the investigation and bayou locals, it felt like something close to a Call of Cthulhu adventure, without the highly thematic mythos.

The adventure is also more linear than I'd like. The adventure breaks down into three acts: investigation in New Orleans, convincing the locals in the bayous, and a climactic fight against some thugs some high cornfields. But the investigation requires the players to follow a particular path, and the bayous has an encounter with an undefeatable creature. A game master may have to rewrite the adventure to add more flexibility.

On the plus side, the adventure is adaptable. Because it's not deeply connected to the Deadlands: Noir version of New Orleans, and the focus is roleplaying over mechanics, new players (and even game master) can get into the adventure without knowing much of Deadlands: Noir New Orleans, nor must they use the Savage Worlds game system. The adventure has also been designed to allow other adventures, such as personal scenarios, to be played between OAHB acts. Since the adventure starts in New Orleans, the gamemaster can easily introduce OAHB elements into the New Orleans-based Red Harvest adventure of the core book.

At around 30 pages, it can be printed on the laser printer without changing the toner. However, I would recommend playing out the core book adventure first, and seeing what other Deadlands: Noir adventures come out later.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Noir: The Old Absinthe House Blues
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Deadlands Noir
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2013 23:52:19
Introduction

Alexander L. has written a fantastic review of Deadlands Noir, so, instead of assuming you're incapable of reading his review, I'll some additional comments to add to it.

*****

Do you need Deadlands: Reloaded?

No, but you should be familiar with the Deadlands setting. But, since Deadlands: Noir takes place in the Depression, certainly none of the characters will care about some history lesson from a century ago. They're too busy trying to find a dime for their next meal. The Deadlands weirdness works well as the underbelly of the city, so players unfamiliar with Deadlands can easily play player characters who are discovering things they shouldn't know.


Do you need Savage Worlds?

You should. About a third of the book includes Deadlands: Noir rules for Savage Worlds, stats for important NPCs in its New Orleans setting and a bestiary of Deadlands critters you don't want to tussle with.

The Savage Worlds RPG and miniatures skirmish game system support cinematic gaming very well. The Deluxe PDF edition is ten dollars and really can be used for more roleplaying games by itself. The earlier Explorer's Edition can be found hardcopy for ten dollars or less at the OLGS. You can also get the Savage Worlds: Test Drive edition free on DriveThruRPG or the Pinnacle games site. You're welcome.

Of course, with this being Noir, your players will be investigating and roleplaying more than hacking and looting. So, if your players are obstinate, adapting Deadlands: Noir to your system of choice isn't impossible.


Is this game only for Deadlands players?

No. This game could have been equally called Noir: Deadlands. Deadlands gives the game a unique flavor, but can be suited for your playing group's taste. Investigative Call of Cthulhu players will also enjoy this game, as Deadlands: Noir supports adventures where something spooky lies underneath the story.

In fact, most character types have changed, and some eliminated entirely. Blessed, sykers, and martial artists are rare so will be covered in the Deadlands Noir: Companion. Indian shamans exist, but not in the urban landscape of Deadlands Noir. Mad scientists evolved into patent scientists. Hucksters were hunted down, with those remaning becoming Grifters. Voodoo, however, has risin in New Orleands, allowing players to play shamanistic characters. And the Harrowed are still there. Savage Worlds supports designing characters based on skills, not classes, so players always have the option of playing their favorite noir character idea.


What if I don't want to run premade adventures or don't want to set Deadlands: Noir in New Orleands?

Okay, maybe this book won't work out too well for you. There *is* a two-page mystery generator you can use to create your own adventures. But about a fifth of the book is dedicated to a seven-adventure campaign, with the shorter mini-adventures usable between these adventures. New Orleands (and its corrupt factions) is the only city covered in this book. See the Deadlands: Noir Companinion for additional cities.

*****

Web Support

As of this writing, the Deadlands: Noir KickStarter is still shipping dead tree versions of its books, so it's not too surprising that the only support are some premade characters and a character sheet. The premade characters are definitely worth looking at. Deadlands: Noir mentions miniatures and printable and purchasable maps of the adventures in the PDF, but I couldn't find mention of them on the website.


PDF Format

One irritation I have with PDFs is that many of them make a PDF of the book, and that's that. IMO, Since PDFs have an unlimited page count, and material that couldn't be included in the dead tree version because of printing costs should be included. Also, PDFs allow printing of individual pages. The artwork includes mug shots of NPCs. So Pinnacle could have included NPC picture profile handouts for the GM to print and cut out for the players to see whom they were dealing with. Also, since Savage Worlds supports miniatures gaming and they have the full-body art of the beasties, I would have liked to see paper miniatures included with the PDF.

Conversely, a 145 page grey-color intensive coffee-table PDF is not something you want to print out. No printer-friendly version is included. Entries for NPCs and beasts have widows and orphans (ie. a one-page entry for a beast will start at the bottom of one page and go to the other side). Artwork that looks purdy in the electronic coffee table book consumes ink and toner when you have to print out the page it's one.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Noir
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