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13th Age Core Book
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/04/2014 02:53:49
WHAT WORKS: No cumbersome skill system, no Prestige Classes, no pre-planning your character from level 1. Monsters stat blocks are short, sweet, flavorful and easy to customize. The magic item system is one of my favorites I've ever read, and many of the Icons are very, very interesting. The broad strokes setting is very handy, providing ample detail to help you along, but giving you room to customize as desired. The rules are deliberately designed for free-wheeling, on the fly gameplay, with even combat modifiers left to the GM's discretion.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The art is generally very good, but the bestiary is largely full of symbols and silhouettes, which detract from the flavor.

CONCLUSION: I stopped running Dungeons & Dragons a long, long time ago, and some D&D fans would tell you I ran it wrong all along. I didn't want to run games about killing monsters and taking their stuff, I wanted to run games about fantasy heroes with great destinies who did amazing things and thwarted evil. I tried to emulate the D&D of fiction in my games and found it fell short (in AD&D2e) or found it to be too cumbersome (in 3/.5). 13th Age, from reading, sure seems like it's scratching the itch I wanted out of D&D but never found, and I feel strongly enough about it that I signed up for the Organized Play program (which has some fantastic adventure support). It definitely feels like the designers wrote the game I was trying to run 20 years ago, and I dearly look forward to bringing it to my table (virtual or otherwise) and seeing if it truly scratches that heroic fantasy itch.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/07/tommys-take-o-
n-13th-age.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
13th Age Core Book
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Camp Myth: The RPG
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/02/2014 01:01:53
WHAT WORKS: The whole concept is awesome, but I particularly love the merit badges. The adventures are very inspirational for guiding you in just what a Camp Myth game IS. Honestly, as "kid" RPGs go, this is one of the few that actually appeals to me to actually RUN. The selection of Mythic Races is great as well, and the bestiary is HUGE and simple to understand and expand upon.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I was maybe going to say "needs more Merit Badges" (maybe), but there's already a mini supplement out that adds new Mythic Races and Merit Badges.

CONCLUSION: I never see Camp Myth bandied about in discussions for kid-friendly RPGs, and I'm not sure why, as I'm fairly convinced it's one of the better kept secrets in RPGs, despite a successful Kickstarter (of course, I didn't even know the books existed before the RPG was announced). The concept is bursting with fun, and Third Eye Games knows how to deliver on good, playable games, making for a very nice combo. If you're looking for a game to break your kids (or students or youth group or maybe even the kids going to your camp) into gaming, take a chance on Camp Myth

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/07/tommys-take-o-
n-camp-myth.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Camp Myth: The RPG
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Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure
Publisher: Creative Mountain Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/24/2014 18:29:56
WHAT WORKS: The Fire Mage turns out to be an interesting adversary with some great plot hooks for an ongoing campaign. The epic poem is a nice touch. A number of the other encounters are standouts, such as the Ettin, the Fire Giants, and crossing the bridge in the dwarven mines. Many of the art pieces are very evocative.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A few things might be tough to model if your favorite system doesn't have an existing analogue. I get what they were going for with Gamington, but it might be a tad too cheesy for an ongoing campaign, but your mileage may well vary in that regard.

CONCLUSION: A touching tribute for a trying situation, and a pretty good dungeon crawl to boot. The Gamington premise is cute, but an ill-fit for more serious campaigns, but that may also serve as an acceptable break for the rest of the campaign world. Of course, you can run it as a one shot, and those concerns are invalid, but there are a lot of cool little threads that can be picked up from this adventure and used in a larger campaign. Worth buying for the cause, worth playing for the adventure.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-o-
n-fighting-fire-ernie.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure
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EPOCH: War Stories
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/20/2014 12:05:51
WHAT WORKS: Five scenarios that shake up EPOCH even further from the standard, and even manages to avoid retreading the same ground, with Mass Destruction especially breaking from the military motif while still invoking war. While most of the conflicts selected were not surprising, placing a scenario in the Congo was a nice touch. The flexibility written into Home Front is also nice.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: World War II obviously couldn't be ignored, but a Vietnam or Korea scenario would have been welcome over a second WWII scenario (though the two are sufficiently different, at least). The editing, once more, could have used some help.

CONCLUSION: I like Frontier of Fear more, as I'm not big on the military in my games, but I would be willing to run the last two scenarios without twisting my arm. Some fine work in showing the versatility of the game, and hopefully Imaginary Empire has more tricks up their sleeve with this game.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-o-
n-epoch-war-stories.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
EPOCH: War Stories
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EPOCH: Frontier of Fear
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/17/2014 06:45:59
WHAT WORKS: There are some scary scenes, for sure...and the book does a great job of demonstrating the scope of the game beyond that of the core. Two or more of these could easily be linked together, sometimes with the same characters and sometimes just thematically, as the sci-fi elements gradually build from one scenario to the next. The forethought in some of the scenarios (like customizing Space Station Icarus) really seems like it would boost the buy-in.

WHAT WORKS: The editing could have been tighter in some places, unless I REALLY need to brush up on my British English vs American English spellings (which I may, but Artefact and Vengence don't look correct to me, and one scenario lists the year twice...ten years apart).

CONCLUSION: I really like Quintessence and Hard Time, but any of the scenarios are worthy of playing through. I'm still intending to get this game to my table soon, especially since we played Fiasco, which has a similar (but certainly not identical) set-up and feel and that went over great. May even use Quintessence or Hard Time when I do. Excellent job establishing that there are scary things in space.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-o-
n-epoch-frontier-of-fear.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
EPOCH: Frontier of Fear
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30 Things Can Happen
Publisher: Creative Mountain Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2014 06:54:37
WHAT WORKS: It's a book of random tables...and it gives me an excuse to use my d30. Hard to top that. Especially since the tables are set up to use d10s or d20s as well, maximizing utility.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: $6 might sound like a tad much for 30 pages of random tables. Obviously, if you don't like random results, look elsewhere.

CONCLUSION: Creative Mountain Games knew this was going to get high marks from me, because I mention random tables *all the time*. Strong recommendation if you're into that sort of thing. Stay away if you don't.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-o-
n-30-things-can-happen.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
30 Things Can Happen
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Hael Core Rules
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/12/2014 21:46:36
WHAT WORKS: A few very original twists on the standard fantasy world. "The Bad Guys Won" has been done before, but rarely with the twist of "and then they became kinda good". I really liked the art, as it had an evocative style, kinda comic-booky, but not in a "kids" way.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The overpowering of the Edges and the construction of the races will limit the utility of this for anyone who might want to pluck from this for another Savage Worlds game. Some of the Call-En powers sure seem like they could be overpowered in comparison to the other Arcane Backgrounds. The editing and proofreading could have been a lot tighter as well, given outright contradictions at points in the book.

CONCLUSION: I like the setting quite a bit, as there's a lot of potential there. However, I think the book could seriously do with a revision bringing it more in line with the Savage Worlds rules in regards to Race creation and the strength of the Edges. I'm not a super big stickler for "game balance", but you are asking for trouble when you obviously set up one option as being mechanically superior to others, and folding the required Edges and Hindrances into racial packages would then allow more flexibility at character creation (and keep one from being an obviously better deal than the others). The Call-En feel a LOT like AD&D2e Psionics to me, which I was actually a huge fan of, and the addition of the aliens and the tech reminds me of Tale of the Comet, which I was also a huge fan of. As I said above, the setting has some great potential, with the powderkeg between the Daeorcs and Yaena, the hostility of the "uncivilized races" and the conflict between The Strangers and Nuclarine...I do suspect that bits like the overpowered Edges won't be a huge issue as they are contained to the setting, but I would still love to see it line up better with Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-o-
n-hael-core-rules.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hael Core Rules
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Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2014 21:50:48
WHAT WORKS: A very creative martial arts system layered onto Fate, providing some good mechanical depth. Lots of optional rules that you can take or leave as you see fit. Great examples. Very pretty production values. Enough setting to get you going without overly detailing it.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: If one isn't into the setting, then I don't think the rules are enough to sell one on it. I always prefer a random adventure generator.

CONCLUSION: One other thing I didn't mention is the Lifepath Generator, which I have already as a Kickstarter backer. I love Lifepaths, and that's another nice piece to the game, one I would probably use in most games. It is still distinctly Fate while feeling notably different from other Fate games, such as Dresden Files or Agents of SWING, and that's a good thing. I don't remotely regret backing this Kickstarter, thanks to both the turnaround time of the product and the quality of it, and can't wait to see what's coming in the line (well, I know Mass Combat Rules are coming, and that's awesome). In the aftermath of the extremely successful Fate Core Kickstarter, folks have been concerned that there's becoming a D20-like glut of cheap cash-in products, but I really don't believe that's the case here. A lot of care and effort went into the book and it shows. If you like martial arts films and you aren't already deeply locked into Wu Xing or Feng Shui, try Tianxia...it's like Fate kicked you in the mouth.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-o-
n-tianxia-blood-silk-jade.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade
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Firefly Role-Playing Game Corebook
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/03/2014 21:29:41
WHAT WORKS: The book is chock full of examples, within the episode guide and outside of it, making the system easier to understand than, perhaps, any other incarnation of Cortex Plus. They squeezed a LOT of customization options out of the Firefly universe, broadening the scope nicely. The Episode Guide is the best I have ever seen in a licensed RPG, worth reading even if you know the series by heart. The most "traditional" feel a Cortex Plus game has had yet, which should help make it more accessible.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: No real treatment of Reavers, I guess? If the print version doesn't have an index, that's going to be rough in a book this size. I could have went in for a Random Episode Generator.

CONCLUSION: The clearest, most concise version of Cortex Plus yet, with no real complaints on my part. The episode guide is an epic thing of beauty, and I could see someone using this as a "gateway" to Cortex Plus and walking folks "back" to other Cortex Plus games once they grasp the basics off of this. I'll admit, I like Firefly, but the idea of a Firefly campaign doesn't fire me up, until I see *just how much* they were able to cram into this book. They even managed to squeeze in playing an Alliance Operative! I'm not really sure how much material they have to expand the gaming universe with, but given how tight and complete Smallville and Leverage were (*sniff*, poor Marvel Heroic, *sniff*), I don't know if that's a bad thing to create a "basically all in one" Firefly RPG. I give it a pretty high recommendation for gaming in the 'Verse, for sure.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/06/tommys-take-o-
n-firefly-roleplaying-game.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Firefly Role-Playing Game Corebook
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Dungeon World
Publisher: Sage Kobold Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/02/2014 07:02:14
WHAT WORKS: Holy smokes...talk about taking the World Engine and running with it. These guys clearly have a fondness for D&D tropes, because you don't write a 400 page book about emulating D&D tropes in a different game system without having some kind of fondness for it. Again, speaking from experience, the World Engine does work pretty well, so long as you're not afraid to improvise. The bestiary is impressive and covers a LOT of ground (not surprising, given the context of the game). Lots and lots of explanations.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: They may have updated it since then, but the PDF I've got had some clickable bookmarks and page numbers that went back to the first page instead of where they were supposed to go. This is still going to be an exhausting game if you can't improvise well (or your group just doesn't want to play along).

CONCLUSION: This is D&D for folks who don't want to play D&D. If you like the D&D tropes but want something lighter and more free flowing, this is a really good choice. If there's something that isn't quite clicking with the game, some folks made a Dungeon World Beginner's Guide as well that'll help you out. Given my experiences with tremulus, I'm inclined to consider Dungeon World for my group's eventual visit to Ravenloft, though part of me really just wants to go into an open setting and see what happens. It covers a TON of ground...before turning around and giving enough advice and examples for you to tinker with it however you need to in order to fill out the game you want to play. Adding it to the short list of games I want to get to the table sooner, rather than later.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/01/tommys-take-o-
n-dungeon-world.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon World
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Shaintar: Legends Arise
Publisher: Evil Beagle Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2014 12:21:37
WHAT WORKS: Even if you have no desire to play Shaintar, if you're running a fantasy game in Savage Worlds, there's some heavy duty stuff to strip-mine here. At least a few Edges will make their way into my Savage Midnight game, and maybe even a couple of the Setting Rules. A lot of it feels very familiar, sure, but there's a lot of cool tweaks (like the Korindians having their own martial art), and the ready made excuses to put folks together (like Grayson's Gray Rangers). I would also be doing the book an injustice if I failed to point out that it's gorgeous, with an absolutely amazing cover by Tomasz Tworek. Did I mention there's not a laundry list of "More Powerful Than Your PCs" NPCs to have to explain your way around? Although, they may be coming in the next book for all I know. (See? Told you I'm not in the loop.)

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The Talisman Studios version had a really sweet random adventure generator that used cards that this one lacked. Not that I won't just swipe that from that book, of course...but YOU don't have access to it. In MY copy of the PDF, there were still a lot of "see page XXX" left, which may have been corrected by now (and which will hopefully be corrected by print for sure). The information for the setting itself gets painted in pretty broad strokes, which some folks are going to hate and some folks are going to love. Given that I'm just really getting started with one Savage Worlds fantasy game, I doubt I'll get to actually run Shaintar myself anytime soon.

CONCLUSION: For Pete's Sake, at least get the Player's Guide so you can rip liberally for your own Savage Worlds fantasy games. Then if it looks good enough, there's the full version of the book and the Kickstarter to consider. I love a lot of the tinkering Sean did with the Savage Worlds rules, and I seriously cannot wait to see what happens with Legends Unleashed and how it opens up magic to fit an "epic high fantasy" feel.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2013/07/tommys-take-o-
n-shaintar-legends-arise.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shaintar: Legends Arise
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Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay (PDF)
Publisher: Small Niche Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/23/2014 22:07:56
WHAT WORKS: The bulk of the information is stat-free, so it is totally usable in just about any fantasy game, not just Labyrinth Lord, with virtually no problem. A great balance of detail and GM interpretation is presented as well. The fact that SNG not only allows, but encourages, other publishers to use the city is cool as well. And oh, dear God...I love random tables. Plus, it's Pay What You Want. Literally no reason not to check it out.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I am a big fan of the slightly Ravenloft-ish gothic horror vibe to the Small Niche Games adventures, and that vibe is almost completely absent from the Guidebook, which is a little disappointing.

CONCLUSION: As my eyes drift back more and more towards D&D and D&Desque games, The Chronicles of Amherth and the surrounding adventures all look very appealing to me, and The City of Dolmvay would be a pretty great jumping off point for that, as I have no issue going low magic. The random tables are great, and the history has a lot of callbacks to the earlier adventures in the series. It's pretty much recommended for any GM who is running a retroclone or any fantasy RPG on the lower end of the magic/power spectrum, especially since you can set the price (and for those who don't get how that works, you can "buy" it for nothing, then rebuy it for what you think is a fair price). Another great outing from Small Niche Games.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/05/tommys-take-o-
n-guidebook-to-city-of.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay (PDF)
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Bulletproof Blues
Publisher: Kalos Comics
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/19/2014 01:52:50
WHAT WORKS: Some very nice art is present, and some of the stock characters really stand out. I like how a lot of the Advantages are handled, namely Headquarters, which tends to be an overly costly, underused element of other systems. One of my pet peeves is supers games that think they are being clever with "pages" and "panels", but Bulletproof Blues avoids that.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Several of the tables are oriented badly for use on a screen (though a physical book or most tablets will handle them fine). Some of the in-jokes and references were groan-worthy (Liefeld Radiation). I don't mind a game set in their own universe, but pretending like actual comics were published when talking about characters and backgrounds is almost as big of a pet peeve to me as the "pages" and "panels" thing. A second edition a year after the first was release is...disconcerting.

CONCLUSION: I kinda get the sense that Bulletproof Blues is cobbled together from pieces of other games, feeling like a strange intersection between Mutants & Masterminds, BASH and ICONS. It's definitely not as lite as ICONS or as crunchy as M&M, but it can't settle on the freewheeling narrative approach that the initiative system preaches vs the point buy and standard RPG advancement of more traditional RPGs. On one hand, I do find the Kickstarter for a second edition already hitting a year after the first hit RPGNow to be disconcerting, but the rules are all released via Creative Commons, so that may alleviate some concerns. The How to Play and How to GM essays are unnecessary and feel like filler, though the sidebars within both sections are very informative. I am of the mind that small press RPGs should probably keep the How to Play short and sweet and genre focused, assuming that they are reaching few brand new players, and GM sections should be geared towards running the specific game, setting and genre. I may sound overly critical here, but I don't think Bulletproof Blues is a bad game...I just think it is geared specifically towards people who have sampled about every other supers RPG and found them lacking. If that's you, you might give it a shot. If you're happy where you're at, I don't think anything here is going to sway you.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/02

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bulletproof Blues
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the the review! You went into detail on what you liked and what you didn't, and we always love those kinds of reviews, because different people like different things -- what you didn't like might be exactly what someone else is looking for, and you may have helped them find it. Or vice versa. Either way, you've helped gamers find what they want to play, and that's a win for everyone. Thanks! You might be interested to know that our plans for the second edition are aimed toward improving a couple of the things you didn't care for. For example, we will be revising the layout so that the tables are more easily read in both the print and the PDF versions of the game. We are also replacing the How to Play and How to GM chapters with new and (hopefully) more directly useful content. P.S. If you groaned at Liefeld radiation, you'll probably shudder at Stanlium and Siegelite (two of the strongest substances known -- harder than diamond) and Kirbium, which is practically indestructible! :) P.P.S. Thanks for mentioning the Kickstarter! At this moment in time, we have passed our first two stretch goals, and are gaining ground on an adventure written by Steve Long! http://kck.st/1i1ieJ7
Baronica: A Dungeon World Campaign Front
Publisher: Three Sages Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/03/2014 01:00:30
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Released by Three Sages Games, Baronica is a campaign front for Dungeon World, which I reviewed recently. Baronica is based on the author's old fantasy campaign, with some details left out. In keeping with the Dungeon World mindset, Baronica is left pretty open for the GMs and players to fill in, maps included. It's a fairly typical fantasy setting, in which the High King has fallen and the people are trying to determine who can take the crown. In the meanwhile, goblins are getting violent, and a dark force is rising to consume everyone (because that's what dark forces DO). A number of important NPCs are provided, as well as questions relevant to the campaign for the players to answer, and Special Moves for certain parts of the setting (my favorite being the move that details what happens when the PCs encounter The Azure Unicorn). Of course, Dangers are present, and a few Fronts are provided to help you guide the escalation of the threat level (such as the Rise of the Dark Lord).

WHAT WORKS: If you read the advice on creating Campaign Fronts and Dangers in the Dungeon World book, and it didn't quite click, then this might well be worth reading. I liked that the maps are left open enough for you to add your own elements and features that appear in gameplay, and I particularly enjoyed the encounter with the Azure Unicorn.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: If you already have a sense of what you are doing with Dungeon World, world-building-wise, then there's not enough new and unique stuff here to make it worthwhile. The author admits that it's going to feel a little familiar to some people, so if you're already on that path, you are probably better served to keep going in that direction.

CONCLUSION: Recommended for people who are pretty sure they have the mechanics of Dungeon World down, but are not sure just how they are actually going to get the game going (the front suggests that the PCs begin in media res), but folks who have already started to work on their own Dungeon World setting aren't going to find a lot here to compel them to scrap their work and introduce Baronica in its stead.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Baronica: A Dungeon World Campaign Front
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Deadlands Reloaded: Murder on the Hellstromme Express
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/03/2014 00:36:39
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Murder on the Hellstromme Express is packed in with the Deadlands Reloaded GM screen, but is also available separately in PDF. It is perfectly suitable for use as an introductory adventure, but can also be dropped into any campaign in which the posse has a need to take jobs for money. The adventure is designed to run from Chicago to Dodge City, with the PCs serving as escorts for a Mad Scientist on a train full of 'em, each trying to impress a Hellstromme Industries auditor and earn points for the big Kansas Scientific Symposium. Wackiness ensues as the agendas of the various scientists bubble to the forefront, intersecting with a raid by a vicious Indian War Party. Assuming everyone makes it to the Symposium itself intact, one of the scientists has a final surprise for the posse...and the amount of help they have in that final battle relates directly to how well they managed the personalities on the train.

WHAT WORKS: All of the scientists on the train are interesting and were a blast to play as GM. Having the posse's interaction with them factor into the end game was a great touch. It makes for a good introductory adventure due to the mundane beginnings that help introduce more arcane elements of the setting.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Might not be enough action for some posse members in the early going. When I ran it, I did have one player get very restless waiting on a fight. It is, literally, a railroady adventure, what with most of it taking place on a train.

CONCLUSION: I wouldn't recommend buying the PDF unless you are completely unable to find the GM screen. Buy that and take this as the extra included with it instead. When I ran the adventure, the mad scientists thoroughly exhausted my players, and - as noted above - one of them got really restless with the lack of action, though that was due in part to the posse averting one issue with intimidation, and another through the well timed use of explosives. Definitely recommended if you need an excuse to get your PCs to Dodge City, or if you just want to show off the mad science in the setting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: Murder on the Hellstromme Express
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