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Wonderland
Publisher: Better Mousetrap Games
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/19/2009 07:29:22
There are very few games available today that do something truly original or really push the medium. Wonderland, however, does both. It's a genuinely scary game - reading it makes you wonder how strong your own grip on reality really is. It's intellectually challenging, immensely playable, beautifully written and in a very real sense a work of art. I really can't say enough good things about this tremendously impressive game. It is absolutely amazing, perhaps the most original and disturbing RPG since the original Kult or Little Fears.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wonderland
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Chronomancer: Time Travel for Everyone
Publisher: Charke Publishing
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/06/2009 14:18:53
I'm a big fan of time travel gaming, so I was probably going to pick up this product no matter what. The subject has been addressed before (Temporality and Blood & Time being two of the more recent examples, both of which do a reasonable job). Mark Charke's effort is a clear attempt to be the definitive work on D20 time travel, and in this it is mostly successful. Using the character classes, monsters, spells and mechanics within, GMs and players should be able to re-create almost any classic time travel setting, from Doctor Who to Quantum Leap. It's clear from the sheer breadth of the book that the author has made it a labour of love.

I was pleasently surpsied to find that my purchase gave me three versions of the product; a high res version, a print version and a third lower res version. A great idea, but poorly executed in this case, as the supposedly print optimised version still had all the interior art in colour - the only concession to saving customers printers being the replacing of the colour page borders with blue/gray ones, a purpose defeated by keeping the page titles and tables all in colour. Why we couldn't have an art free black and white version, I don't know.

Speaking of art, probably the thing that most attracted my attention was the cover art by Jason McLellan of www.headstatic.com, which is very good. Bryan Fowler and Chuck Lucas provide some nice pieces of interior art, while Mark Charke does the rest. Unfortunately, Mr Charke's art is utterly dreadful. It is, quite literally, the worst art I have ever seen in a game supplement. It is so amatuerish that it makes me cringe whenever I use the supplement (and I do use it) and I find it hard to understand how someone with the authors obvious intelligence thinks it's even halfway suitable to be published. Worse, there's no escape from it as it's in all the different versions provided. It really does spoil the product.

Putting the art aside, this is a hefty product. For your money you get over three hundred densely packed pages of information. While none of it is truly revolutionary, it's all nicely thought out and pleasingly written. I really liked the idea of experience points penalties for causing paradoxes - one of the major problems in running a time travel campaign is finding ways to keep your players in check. However, quantity does not always equal quality. The book badly needed a pass by a ruthless editor, someone willing to tighten the book up considerably before it was offered for sale. While the book is meaty, there are a lot of errors and issues. There are typos aplenty (though less than you'd expect from a small press book), mistakes in stat blocks, interesting classes spoiled by wasted levels and problems with the layour.

What's needed to make this product the definitive work it so very nearly is? A a good editor, comprehensive playtesting, the replacing of every piece of Mr Charke's artwork with something more professional, an experienced graphic designer and layout artist, the addition of an *actual* print optimised version and a thorough reorganisation.

To sum up, if you're planning to run a time travel D20 game, by all means buy this book. Just be very aware of what you're getting, and be prepared to do a lot of work bringing the material up to scratch.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Chronomancer: Time Travel for Everyone
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks and ouch. An edit is in the works. However it is an edit for spelling and grammar problems and some rules clarifications. - Mark Charke
Restoration Field Guide
Publisher: Corsair Black
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/27/2008 06:01:09
First off, I'd like to point out that at the price of $1.49 (at the time of writing), this game is incredibly good value for money. The background is involved, well thought out and nicely presented. The basic concept takes the old standard to time travellers trying to change history and adds a unique spin on it, and the post-human culture aspects give the game an edge sadly lacking in most SF RPGs. Rich in big ideas, this is a real "sense of wonder" game.

Almost all the artwork in the book is photo-manipulation, which took a while to grow on me, but actually works really nicely, especially with some of the blurred shots of the games less-than-human NPCs in action.

I can't really comment on the rules, since I don't use them, but the breadth and depth of ideas on display here is really impressive. I'd love to see more done with Restoration.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Restoration Field Guide
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Odyssey Prime
Publisher: Eden Studios
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/26/2006 00:00:00
Very disappointing product, does nothing that hasn't been seen before in Stargate SG1, Fringeworthy, GURPS Infinite Worlds or Tangents (for the Alternity RPG).

About the best part of the PDF is the backstory to the Project. The armageddon scenario adds some sense of urgency to the proceedings, but it's not really touched on beyond the backstory. The history is nicely written, creative and interesting. If the rest of the game matched it, I'd be a happy man.


LIKED: I enjoyed the background fluff. The armageddon countdown friving the campaign is a great idea, nicely executed.

DISLIKED: Material is repeated between the D20 and Unisystem sections, 12 pages are used for ads for Misfit Studios, other small-press games settings are offered as worlds for OP with virtually no ideas on how to integrate them into the campaign. Almost no original example worlds are given, with minimal rules for generating game worlds.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Odyssey Prime
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Publisher Reply:
Without addressing the matter of this customer's personal tastes, which are subjective, there are some objective errors and misrepresentations in the review. There is indeed repeated material, a necessity of providing rules for both d20 and Unisystem game mechanics. The repitition in the second instance is limited to what is necessary for the differences between the two systems--none of the "fluff" is repeated. Second, there is only ONE page of Misfit Studios ads, and two pages for Eden Studios (as necessitated by the Unisystem license.) I can ony assume the other 9 pages of "ads" the customer is talking about are the pages discussing products of more than a dozen other publishers so that the customer can pick and choose some of these suggestions for use as dimensions the game could visit. These are product capsules, not ads, and (despite this customer's claims to the contrary), several do indeed have direct OP-related suggestions.
Future: Starship 9 -- Devastator
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/15/2005 00:00:00
Superb. I love these things, so much so that I'm creating a campaign just so I can use them. I'm printing them out on a so-so printer, and they still look great. About my only criticism would be that the tiles aren't square, which limits the number of ways they can be combined. But that's a very small gripe indeed.

LIKED: The quality of the graphics, the obvious care and attention that's been put into them, and their sheer utility.

DISLIKED: If the tiles were square, you could combine them in a lot more ways. That said, there are so many tiles that it really doesn't matter.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future: Starship 9 -- Devastator
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e-Future Tiles: Star Chasers
Publisher: SkeletonKey Games
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/12/2005 00:00:00
Very nice. This roduct was my introduction to the idea of printable tiles, but the high quality of the graphics and the slick look of this set may well have spoiled me for similar products from other vendors. Just looking at these tiles makes me want to start up a space campaign. Bravo!

LIKED: The high quality of the graphics, and the design.

DISLIKED: The tiles aren't square, which limits their use. Ideally, I'd like to see all the tiles the same size, so they can be used in any orientation.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
e-Future Tiles: Star Chasers
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Action! Classics: The War of the Worlds (d20, Action!)
Publisher: Gold Rush Games
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2004 00:00:00
This was rather disappointing, pedestrian and dull. Sure, you get an illustrated version of the novel, but anyone who's interested in this supplement will already have the book, and even if they don't it is easy and cheap to buy. The actual gaming content is remarkably thin on the ground, confining itself to simple stats and presentations of Victorian military equipment. There's almost no expansion on the Martians, their technology, plans or capabilities. There's no speculation on what might have been, no alternative campaigns, material for later invasions or even ideas on what might have happened in the rest of the world. Much as I applaud the idea of doing a supplement on the War of the Worlds, this was an entirely wasted opportunity. Better material can be found online for free, if you do a search for "War of the Worlds RPG"

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Action! Classics: The War of the Worlds (d20, Action!)
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