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Cryptworld
Publisher: Goblinoid Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2016 11:09:46

90 pages, black & white interior, color cover. Authors: Daniel Proctor and +Tim Snider. Cryptworld is the spiritual and brand successor to the first edition Chill game. In many ways it represents what Chill could have become if it had not gone down the path of 2nd Edition and Mayfair games. The Jim Holloway cover is very much in line with the original Chill boxed set. In truth it is less "iconic" but I like it better. The rules for the game are distilled down to their very essence. This is for all purposes a "retro-clone" of Chill. But it is more than that too. Where Chill 2 was about fighting all sorts of creatures organized into the Unknown and Chill 3 is a modern monster hunting tale of SAVE; Cryptworld takes it back to basics of humankind versus the monsters. This Kolchak the Night Stalker, Tales from the Crypt, Friday the 13th (TV Series), and all the wonderful tales of monsters and horror from the 80s. Character creation is faster than I recall it being in Chill 1 or 2. There are still plenty of options to create anytime of character you might want. Like all versions of Chill you are not going to make Harry Dresden style characters (that's for Majus), but making the Winchesters is easy. Goblinoid Games did not get the rights to SAVE, but that is fine really. There is a section in the book covering other organizations that characters can belong too and all are worthy replacements for SAVE. In particular, I want to run a game where all the characters are reporters for the Weekly Inquisitor. That would be a blast really. There are plenty of monsters, especially all the old favorites. There is also not a lot of duplication of monsters from other products so that is a nice value add.
There is also a great section on running games for the "Crypt Master" or CM. One of my favorite names for a Game Master ever. Crypt Master is not just a spiritual successor to Chill, it is a worthy one. If you have any materials from 1st or 2nd edition of Chill you will find them largely compatible with this game.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cryptworld
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Chill Third Edition
Publisher: Growling Door Games, Inc.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/18/2016 09:22:45

Readers here will know of my love for Chill. It was one of the first non-D&D games I ever played and to this day I have a soft spot in my art for it. So it was with great pleasure that I backed the Kickstarter for the 3rd edition of Chill last year. Chill may not be the grand-daddy of horror games (that really is Call of Cthulhu) but it is certainly early in the parentage of all horror games. Chill was doing things with monsters in the 80s that White Wolf would later get so much credit for in the 90s. Unlike CoC, the characters of Chill had reasons to believe that they could defeat the monster. There was more hope in Chill.

So what can we say about this new edition?

Let's start with the basics. I am reviewing both the PDF and the Hardcover book. The books are 288 pages with full-color covers and full-color interior art. The art is great mixing in photographs with art for full creepy effect. This is the "real-world" only beset by monsters. The art has always been a central feature of Chill and this edition really has some great art. Even my wife, who is not really a gamer, was looking at and said it looked cool. The hardcover is a nice hefty tome that would also look good on the coffee table, but the real fun is when it is on the game table. (Note: This is another book where I would have liked a cheaper "spiral-bound" copy to lay flat on table) The PDF is fully bookmarked and comes with a printer-friendly character sheet. Though I prefer the heavy art sheet because they look so good.

The Forward details a little history of Chill. Nothing new to longtime readers of my blog. This is followed by a comic. This gives an example of the Chill world. It's not bad, but I usually skip over these sorts of things. Besides, Chill and I are old friends.

Introduction is the obligatory "this is a roleplaying game" bits, but it also gives you a brief overview of the game system.

If you are familiar at all with Chill then the system here is very familiar. Percentage dice roll, roll under a target number. This number is usually a function of attributes, skills, and edges or drawbacks. Rolling doubles "33" or "55" is a really good or a really bad thing, depending on whether or not it was under the score you needed. The more you roll under the better. This gives the game a different feel than most. There feels like there is more randomness (even though there isn't) and more drama (and there is). This is a crunchy "cinematic" game. IF there can be such a thing. There are simple, pass/fail tests, and tests that have levels of success. There are also Tokens that can be used that represent tempory states. These are used in a similar fashion to other games "drama points" but have a more game-mechanical focus here.

I like that this information is right upfront and read first. It sets the tone for the game to come.

Chapter 1 deals with Character Creation. This is important because Chill is a character focused game. In some games you fight monsters because they have the treasure and XP. In Chill you fight the monsters because ever since you were a child you saw ghosts. You thought they were harmless till one of them killed your older brother... There three character creation options. First pick a pre-made character, many are provided. Secondly you could pick a template such as "Anthropologist", "Detective" or "Thief" and modify them. I expect to see more templates in future books. Third, is of course, roll up your own character. Roll up your attributes, skills and pick any Edges or Drawbacks you want. Note to players of the 1st and 2nd editions. There are some changes here. Among other things the Luck attribute is gone.

There is a discipline known as "the Art" that gives some characters a magical edge, but don't expect to play someone of Harry Dresden's ability here. This is more Sam & Dean Winchester levels. Which is perfect in my mind.

Chapter 2 covers SAVE. SAVE or the Societas Albae Viae Eternitata, or The Eternal Society of the White Way, named for their dedication to the good “white” force and opposition to the evil “dark” force. SAVE is a central focus of Chill and all characters are considered to belong to it. There is a lot of history here, both in the game world and in the real world. There are even subtle nods to the history of the game itself here. "1990: Going Dark" is as much about SAVE as it is the Chill game itself. "1998: The Renaissance of the Art" reflects also the growing popularity again of modern paranormal fiction in books, TV and movies. For me I'd also add in some failed attempts at getting SAVE up an running again to parallel the failed attempt of Chill 3.0. I love how the communications SAVE sends out adapt to the times. Hand written letters give way to typewriters to early emails to modern texting and chat software. While the system maybe the heart of Chill, this is the soul.

Chapter 3 is dedicated to The Art, or is simple language Magic. Given here are the different schools of the art and their disciplines. While Chill 3rd Ed has more Player Character magic than the previous versions, the characters are still not going to be at the levels of say "Mage" or "WitchCraft" RPGs. But this is fine really. These are supposed to be normal humans for the most part. Also unlike CoC the Art here is mostly harmless. Note I say mostly, there are still dangers and magic always has a price.

Chapter 4 covers the Game System. This details the material from the Introduction. If you have played Chill before you will find a lot here that is familiar and somethings that are completely new. There are plenty of good working examples. This is the clearest version of the Chill rules to date.

Chapter 5 is for the Chill Master. This covers how to run the game, setting the mood and tone of the games. If you have played any horror game before there is a lot here that is familiar, but there is also plenty that is new. My own 2 cents here: Don't run Chill like you would run D&D or even Call of Cthulhu. This game has it's own feel to it. Yes the stories you tell and the adventures you run can be done under a variety of systems and ways. To get the most out of Chill, play it like Chill.

Chapter 6 is a favorite of mine, Creatures of the Unknown. I will admit that when I picked up my copy at Gen Con last year I turned right to this chapter first to see if all my old favorites made the cut for the new edition. Not all of them did, but there are plenty of old faves and new monsters here to keep any CM busy. The "Mean Old Neighbor Lady" is now properly a Hag, but most of the Vampires made it over including the "North American Vampire" and it's representative Jackson Jammer. This chapter also includes the monster version of the Art, the Evil Way.

Finally, we end with Kickstarter backers.

Chill 3rd Edition is a great game and an improvement in pretty much every way over it's predecessors. The book is great to look at, great to read and easier to play. While parts of Chill still feel like they are stuck in the 80s or 90s in terms of tone and game design, there is enough new material here and enough refinements to bring this game into the 21st century. Will it repalce Chill 1st Ed and 2nd ed in my heart? No, I don't think it will. Will it replace Chill 1st Ed and 2nd Ed on my game table? Absolutely! I'll use these rules from now on and supplement older material until Growling Door gets around to replacing them. Though I have my doubts they will replace Chill Vampires in my heart!

Time I think to dust off my "Spirit of '76" game.

Full disclosure: All links are affiliate links. I bought both the PDF and Hardcopies of this game. No free copies were given and no reviews were solicited.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chill Third Edition
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Victoriana - The Spring Heeled Menace
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2016 13:18:21

14 Pages. B&W cover and interior. FREE Can't complain about this price. I fun little introductory adventure with some pre-gen PCs/NPCs. One Spring-Heeled Jack is bad enough, what about an entire gang of them? Great adventure to introduce 3rd Ed Victoriana to new players.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - The Spring Heeled Menace
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Victoriana - The Devil in the Dark
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2016 11:49:59

23 Pages. B&W cover and interior. A beginning adventure for characters that have been through at least one or two other adventures but are still low rank. This is an expanded and updated version of a 1st Ed adventure. This adventure in 3 acts feels a lot like a mix of gothic horror and Sherlock Holmes. Great for the price.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - The Devil in the Dark
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Victoriana - Streets of Shadow
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2016 11:39:56

144 Pages. Color cover, B&W interior Streets of Shadow is an adventure path (to borrow a term) for Victoriana that has a lot of history. Three of the adventures, Dragon in the Smoke (Chapter 1), The Hound of Hate (Chapter 3) and Rise of the Red God (Chapter 5) have been published previously for 1st edition Victoriana. Here they have been updated and tied together in a longer story. A "shilling shocker" according to the book. This adventure also ties in to other Victoriana adventures, The Devil in the Dark (3rd ed) and The Marylebone Mummy (2nd ed). This is a great example of both an adventure campaign and of a game honoring (and using) it's past.
Sure these are useful for other games too, but really there is something very "Victoriana" about these. If you are planning on running any Victoriana games at all I say get these.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - Streets of Shadow
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Victoriana - The Concert in Flames
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2016 11:29:02

160 pages. Color cover, B&W interior Part gazetteer of Europe of 1865, part adventure campaign. What is great about this book is that covers a number of lands that are often ignored in most Victorian-era games. There are not a lot of details, it's not Wikipedia after all, but plenty for your game. The adventure (or Penny-Dreadful in Victoriana-speak) is a continent hoping adventure in the pure adventure vein as "Around the World in 80 Days" or the last part of "Dracula". It is done in a way that only can be done in the Victorian-era. The world is still big enough that other lands can be mysterious, but small enough that travel (thanks steam!) is quicker, easier and an adventure all it's own. Again, this makes this book not just essential for Victoriana but also a good buy for anyone running any Victorian-era game. There are also four new races near the end.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - The Concert in Flames
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Victoriana - Liber Magica
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2016 11:06:18

144 Pages. Color cover, B&W interior Liber Magica is the supplement I ALWAYS want for my games. A book on more magic? Yes please! This book features a lot of familiar names from both 2nd and 3rd edition. This is good given the changes to magic between the editions. There is a section (half-a-page) about bringing over 2nd ed style magics to 3rd ed. It is really easy stuff and most GMs will do it on the fly really. This book contains a lot more magical options than the core book had. The first five cover the types of magic detailed in the core book (Thaumaturgy, Sigil Magic, Conjuration, Psychodumany/Magentism, and Maleficium). The last two chapters cover magical items and curiosities and magical societies. There are a lot of new spells. I have the PDF of this book, but I really want a print copy next time I hit Gen Con. It is one of the single most useful Victoriana PDFs I own. I adapt ideas from this for a variety of game including converting all these to Magical Philosophies in Ghosts of Albion or Traditions for the Witch. This morning, in fact, I was rereading this for use in Leagues of Gothic Horror. A supremely useful book.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - Liber Magica
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Victoriana 3rd Edition
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/13/2016 08:19:32

While Victoriana 1st edition first caught my attention and 2nd edition became a favorite, it is 3rd edition that might be the best version of the Victoriana game. My deepest apologies to all the people that worked on the first two editions, some who I now consider friends.

Full Disclosure: I bought my own hardcover and pdf copies of these books. While I consider many of the fine folks at C7 to be friends, they did not solicit or expect a review.

Victoriana 3rd Edition uses the same system that powered Victoriana 2nd edition, but cleans up the game and gives it some new life. Led by Walt Ciechanowski, Victoriana 3 became something a little different than before, but uniquely more "itself". You can use all the supplements, adventures and characters in 3rd edition that you did with 2nd edition with now issues. Vic 2nd edition has a conversion guide to 1st in case you need that. There are sidebars to let you know where the major differences are between 3rd and 2nd edition. There are even a couple of places where specific 2nd Edition books are mentioned.

Now set in 1856 (ten years earlier) we get a different feel for the age. The world of Victoriana 3 is a little darker, a little more dangerous and a lot bigger. So if you are using any of the supplements, such as the India one, you will need to adjust some events and tone, but not mechanics. There are also sidebars that mention the differences between Victoriana world and the real world. For example the Bolshivik revolution is getting started earlier here and Charales Darwin is now a "Dr." (he "only" had a Master's degree in real life).

This version of Victoriana puts more emphasis on technology. It is fantasy tech and steampunk tech, but there is more of it. Not to say magic has taken a backseat here, but it is not as prevalent in the writing as it was before. Also, the gothic horror elements have been turned up a bit in this as well. Magic, when it is there, is scary.

Victoriana (any version, but especially this one) is the game where you can take anything from any other Victorian-era game, use it here and it works. Eldritch horrors from Cthulhu by Gaslight? yup. Investigations from Baker Street? of course. Superhumanity from Victorious? Sure, why not! In fact, this kitchen sink mentality works really well in Victoriana.

The system is the same. You get a dice pool of s6s. Roll them, explode the "6"s, count the successes. If you have enough great. The rules in this version read better. I mentioned in my review of 2nd edition that the only way to truly review a game is not just to read it but to play it. I have played Victoriana now for almost 10 years. Despite that, and even more years of World of Darkness and ShadowRun, I am not a fan of dice-pool games. I have tried play Victoriana using the Ghosts of Albion system. It worked, and it was fun. But it wasn't Victoriana anymore. The Heresy game system is very much a part of what makes this game what it is. Much like the Basic Roleplaying System works for Call of Cthulhu and d20 for D&D, this system imparts a feel to Victoriana. The black dice, the exploding 6s, all of it is part and parcel of the game experience.

Character creation is a bit easier, or at least a bit more guided in this version. Emphasis is not placed more on social class than whether or not you are an orc, Eldren or human. By the way, the Eldren (Elves) in this version get really strange. You can be an elf, but be prepared to have some weird quirks or even some mental illness. Personally, I loved this idea and would like to try it in other games where I have elves/Eldren. Really, it is that cool. There are some changes to gnomes and Huldufolk (halflings) that make them more different than each other and more interesting. Nocturnal academics vs. rustics with a keen interest in one area. Note: This would be a great template on how to bring Castles & Crusades elves, gnomes, and halflings into a Victorious game.

The book is huge at 320 pages. Again the cover is color and interior is black and white. And again this is how it should be. The hardcover is sturdy and looks great. The PDF is bookmarked. While I loved the mix of art in 2nd edition, the art in 3rd edition is more consistent. The character sheet from 3rd edition is one of my favorites. It just looks so cool. A color option though would have also been nice for those special characters.

The rules include a great collection of items from the age and various forms of entertainment. There are also clarified rules on various chases (coach, boat, airships) and the effects of drinking and drugs.

Victoriana is one of the games with a quiet, but steady and dedicated following. The fact that the games are always sold out in minutes at Gen Con is a testament. For me, I will say this. If there is anything you have ever wanted to do in a Victorian-era game then Victoriana has a way for you to do it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana 3rd Edition
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Victoriana - Jewel of the Empire
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2016 14:18:48

228 Pages. This is a hefty tome. It covers India and it's place not just in the British Empire, but in the Victorian world. We get the requiste lands, geography, people and relgion of India in 1867, but also some discussion on the various religions. Like all religions in Victoriana this is through the lens of the world. So license was taken with some of these. Obviously this was not meant to offend Hindus any more than the Core book was meant to offend Catholics or Anglicans. So keep in mind these are the religions of a game world, not the real world. Some new races are included including some new and changed Beastmen. There are new magics, spells, monsters and plenty of NPCs to populate this huge country. Enough detail here to make you want to run nothing but India-based Victoriana games for a long time. I know I want to do exactly that! Great for Victoriana and at least 2/5ths of it is also great for any other Victorian game as well.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - Jewel of the Empire
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Victoriana - Darwin's Catalogue: The Outsiders
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2016 14:09:53

14 Pages. One of the smaller Victoriana books. This details five races for PCs; Giant, Karakon, Oni, Orc and Steppegoblin. Also covered are Corporeal Mediums.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - Darwin's Catalogue: The Outsiders
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Victoriana - Darwin's Catalogue: Beastmen of Britain
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2016 14:07:34

16 Pages. One of the smaller Victoriana books. This book details a number of additional Beastmen and their traits. Both as a "monster" and as a Player Race. Following the guidelines in this book you could create more, but the list is pretty exhaustive.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - Darwin's Catalogue: Beastmen of Britain
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Victoriana - Faces in the Smoke Volume Two
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2016 13:58:19

140 pages. What a cool supplement. This details all the secret societies in the Victorana game. The societies are grouped largely by role. Are they benign watchers? Are they conspirators of a dark cult? Each group is given a role, a detailed history, and information on how they can interact with the characters and other organizations. Of course, multiple NPCs are detailed as well. An index of NPC, sorted by Rank, is also given.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - Faces in the Smoke Volume Two
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Victoriana - Faces in the Smoke Volume One
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2016 13:54:52

140 pages. What a cool supplement. This details all the secret societies in the Victorana game. The societies are grouped largely by role. Are they benign watchers? Are they conspirators of a dark cult? Each group is given a role, a detailed history, and information on how they can interact with the characters and other organizations. Of course, multiple NPCs are detailed as well. An index of NPC, sorted by Rank, is also given.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - Faces in the Smoke Volume One
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Victoriana - Faulkner's Millinery and Miscellanea
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2016 13:46:20

192 Pages. Every Victorian-era game needs to have a book like Faulkner's Millinery and Miscellanea. If they don't then buy this one instead. Actually buy this one if they do. At 192 pages it is full of items, clothing, gadgets, vehicles and even magical supplies for every need. The currency is British Pound and the economy is set in 1867, so if you do use it for other games you will need to adjust. There is more here than just price lists. The items may (or may not) be very familar to readers today so descriptions are given.
There is a great section on the economy and one worth reading. Here in the 21st century we are used to easy access to everything. We are also (in general) wealthier than any other time before ours. This was not the case int he Victorian age, even in Victoriana's fantastical magical Victorian age. So this frame of reference helps. In addition to equipment, there are common prices of travel and their various means. Prices for various entertainments. Alos you will need to know how much to pay your household staff and where to find them in the first place. Some notable NPCs are also detailed. This really is a must have book for any fan of Victorian RPGS and Victoriana in particular.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - Faulkner's Millinery and Miscellanea
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Victoriana - The Marylebone Mummy
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2016 13:35:55

56 pages. An update to an earlier adventure. This adventure is really designed not just for starting players (5 to 6) but also starting GMs. All the materials you need to play are at your fingertips. There is not enough of the rules to make it a "Quick Play" but if you bought the core rules then this should be your next purchase. The adventure deals with, appropriately enough, a mummy. It FEELS very Victorian too. Ancient curses conflicting with scientific discovery. Superstition vs Science. All within Victoriana's own hedy brew of magic-is-real and so-is-science world. It makes for a lot of fun. The adventure also follows the now familiar 3-act format of all Victoriana adventures. So if you have any desires to plan your own then this is a good model to follow. It is, in a very real sense the Keep on the Borderlands for Victoriana.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victoriana - The Marylebone Mummy
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