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Smith and Scholar
Publisher: Barrel Rider Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2013 11:37:39
This book is only a buck and it is very simple. But don't let "Simple" translate into "not worth it". This book is filled with ideas for all the Basic/LL core classes. They are billed as professions, but if you are familiar with the old 2nd Ed "Kits" then these are very similar.
There are 6 per class and all provide some background, history and some mechanical bonus for the character. There is no balance issue from what I can see if everyone in the game opts for one or if there is some sort of DM-enforced obligation attached. For example the Exorcist Cleric should be obligated to investigate any claim of possession he/she hears. The other Professions can work the same way.

These are set out as flavor, but I think in the right hands these can really brighten up what would be an ordinary game into something very interesting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Smith and Scholar
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for your kind review, Mr. Brannan.
Bounty Hunter
Publisher: Barrel Rider Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2013 11:11:46
In many ways the Bounty Hunter (class) is a better class for "Basic" Era Games than the Assassin is. The Assassin has a history in the "Advanced" Era and it has it's place, but a game aimed at simpler rules might not be it. That is why the Bounty Hunter (this book) is a good choice for Labyrinth Lord or any other Basic-era compatible game.

Like all the books from Barrel Rider Games this book presents a class, reasons why it can be used, and the associated skills and tables. The Bounty Hunter (class) then is part thief, part assassin and part tracker/ranger. Honestly it might well be the best of all the BRG classes.

Also, though, like the other classes, this one is missing some key information. Namely this book is missing the saving throw tables and to hit tables for the Bounty Hunter. I would suggest using the thief tables in both cases.

Other than that, this is a solid class.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bounty Hunter
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks as for your always even-handed review, Mr. Brannan. Your insights have been used to improve this product!
Fehr's Ethnology: Dragonblood [PFRPG]
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/11/2013 11:52:33
My son loves Dragonborn. He plays Skyrim because there is a "dragonborn" in that. He wanted to get all the Doctor Who episodes on DVD that feature the Draconians, and in every game we play that is the character race he wants.
Well...not every game has them. Good thing for him is that Purple Duck is here to help.

This one is pretty good really. Nice art, clear easy to read text and 7 pages of content (1 full page art, 1.5 of OGL and ads for 10 total pages). Simple race rules with not a lot of fluff, but a lot of crunch. There are some alternate racial characteristics and some feats. There are class suggestions and suggestions on play. For 10 pages it is really packed full. My son has been using this in our 3.x game now for a bit and we like it the most out of the many free options we have also found. At $1.25 it is an absolute steal.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fehr's Ethnology: Dragonblood [PFRPG]
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D6 Core Set [BUNDLE]
Publisher: West End Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2013 16:38:50
Same low price as the individual books, but all together.
Honestly They should be selling these, there is still a great game here in D6.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D6 Core Set [BUNDLE]
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Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/06/2012 11:43:33
It was can only be called expert timing, the first adventure for Amazing Adventures comes out the same week I am dedicating a week to playing around with and reviewing AA.

From the Core Rules book author, Jason Vey, this adventure is a delightful little romp with everything you would expect in an Pulp Adventure. Or at least everything I expect; square jawed heroes, Nazis, secret cults, ancient forgotten beings, exotic locales in far away lands (Egypt no less!), a femme fatale, and a mysterious treasure. Really what more could you want?

The 4 Act Adventure process detailed in the core book is brought to life here with plenty of guideline on how to alter it to suit your's or your player's needs. It is also a good guide on how to create your own adventures.

14 total pages, 12+2 covers.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
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Amazing Adventures!
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2012 13:26:14
I am woefully behind on reviews. So I want to do one I picked up at Gen Con and it has been sitting on my desk, taunting me to review it.

First off some disclaimers.
* I do know the author Jason Vey and we have worked on projects together before. This is not one of those projects.
* I did read a playtest version of this game some time ago. This review is on the published version of the book.
* I did not get a free copy of this. I pledged in Troll Lords pre-order program and picked it up at Gen Con.

Ok. All of that is out of the way.

Amazing Adventures (hereafter AA) is a new Pulp Action RPG based on the same SIEGE Engine that runs Castles & Crusades. Unlike other SIEGE games, this one is 100% compatible with C&C. So much so that I plan on using them together, but I'll get to that. Right now let's talk about what the book has.

Upfront we get our OGL declaration including a lot of Open content. This will make it easy to make "Pulp d20" supplements or use this for other sorts of games.

We move right into an introduction to what Pulp Roleplaying is. I know Jason, I know he knows Pulp quite well. Reading this then is like reading Steven Kenson on Supers Roleplaying; I know he gets it at a level above me. In this case yes, but Jason still brings it down to the peasants like myself to understand. For me I am constantly defining Pulp by old movies or, more to the point, what it isn't. It isn't Victorian, it isn't 50's Atomic Sci-Fi (yet) or Ultra Modern.
There is a brief introduction on the use of magic. Something I'll get to again in a bit.

Book One deals with Characters. Note, there are not multiple books, but divided withing the physical book.
If you have played, oh, ANYTHING in the last 40 years then you know what this is. The same 6 attributes of all d20 games and C&C. They are described with a little more information given to languages.

There are Classes. This is based on Castles & Crusades afterall. The Arcanist (who reminds of the Harry Dresden covers), are our magic users. What I like about them is that they choose how their magic works. So a "wizard" may memorize spells and choose Intelligence as their Spell-casting Attribute. Or Wisdom if it is deep understanding or Charisma if it is force of character. I like this. A lot. The Arcanist is a bit tougher than your d20 wizard with d6 HD. More emphasis is given to cantrips/0-level spells and less on really high level ones. Makes sense really.
The Gadgeteer is used to make all sorts of high tech gadgets. Your Howard Hughes-like characters. You hard-boiled detectives are well represented by the Gumshoe. The Hooligan is your all purpose neer-do-well, from street urchins to thieves and generally all purpose bad guys. But that doesn't mean your character is bad, no he/she could have a heart of gold and be down on their luck. ;) The Mentalist is a great addition given the fascination that the time had with Mentalism/Spiritualism. If the Arcanist is a "magical" character then the Mentalist is the "pyschic" one. I also want to point out here that the Mentalist is a PERFECT class to port over to C&C if you want to do psychic/psionic powers there. The Pugilist is your bare knucks fighter. We have these chaps in the Victorian era games too, but these have some nice features. There is the Raider for your big game hunters or Indiana Jones types. Finally the Socialite.
There are some good rules on multiclassing as well, which is great for this Socialite/Hooligan I want to make.

The same Alignment system is in play as C&C. Personally I would have liked something different. The nice thing is that it is completely optional. I think for anything other than a D&D/C&C game I would drop it.

Next up are Fate Points. These work like Drama or Hero Points. The characters gain them at a level increase, but chances are they will spend them faster. I have ported this over to C&C and other d20 games and they work great. There is a lot you can do with these above and beyond normal "points" and they really add to the Pulpy feel of the game in my mind. The main character doesn't die in Chapter 1 or Reel 1, and he doesn't die at Level 1 either. Fate points are the "To Be Continued!" of the game.

The book on Characters ends with some equipment from the Pulp age including when they were introduced (good) and pricing for the times.

Book 2 is Advanced Character Customization
AA is not just about leveling up characters, there are other ways to advnace and customize your Pulp Hero.
Characters can have Abilities (like Ace), Backgrounds (like Scientist), Skills, and Traits. Traits are bit like Feats and a bit like Qualities and Drawbacks in other games.

Since there is Arcana and this Pulp there is a chance the characters will run into something that will break their little minds. So we have a section on Sanity. These rules are simple and solid really. There is not too much detail to read like the latest DSM but enough for a game.

There is also a section on Wealth which is dealt with not as money, but rating based on class.

Book 3 deals with the Paranormal
In particular this chapter details the differences between psionics and magic. Again, this would be great to port over to C&C. The basic mechanics behind using psionics and magic are also detailed. Frankly I am really, really glad that Psionics are different from Magic. They should be and they should feel different. One of my disapointments with D&D3x (and 4e) was Psionics were treated just like another form of magic and they shouldn't be.

Spellcasting is based on Mana points which is a good change really, and fits with the Pulp period more in my mind. Spells are largely treated the same way as other d20 products so adding new spells is actually pretty easy.

What is interesting about both the magic spells and psionic powers is they both have associated Ability scores. So a spell might require Intelligence or Charisma.

Book 4: Rules of the Game is next.
It is what you would expect it to be. Maybe a little more information on non-lethal and unarmed and two-fisted fighting. There are some more gadgets here, in particular modes of transportation.

Book 5 covers the Bestiary
In pulp literature there were still unknown lands to discover and many of those lands had never been seen by man before so who knows what sorts of beasts would dwell there? Well not really dinosaurs or giant apes, but in your game you can. We get a nice mix of classical monsters, atomic-horror giants, undead creatures and aliens. It's crazy. But crazy in a good way. Since the monsters are standard format you can even pull out any monster book for C&C (or d20) and use those monsters too.

Book 6 Running a Pulp Game is next.
Details the pulp 4-act adventure (for contrast I typically run 3-act adventures for Buffy and 5-act ones for Ghosts of Albion). For your benefit a sample adventure is included.

We end the book with a Character Sheet.

There are plenty of support files from the author:

This is the errata for the first printing (dark cover): http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aaerrata.pdf

A Character sheet: http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aacharactersheet.pdf
And expanded Firearms. These are in addition to what is found in the books: http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aafirearms.pdf

Ok. Judgement time.

Science Fiction Double Feature
I like this book a lot. I am not sure I would ever play in a pulp setting, but I think it is a great update/replacement for Modern d20. Truthfully while reading this what I REALLY want to do with this is something along the lines of 50's and 60's monster movies. So aliens attacking the earth, giant insects and kaiju. "This Island Earth", "Forbidden Planet", "Them", "Day of the Triffids" and the like. I know this is not what the book was designed to do. But it sure works great for it to be honest. Actually better than great.

I have a lot of Pulpish, 2-fisted adventure, games. This one is great for Pulp, but to ignore the flexibility in this game would be a crime. Plus the 50s are an under-represented time in RPG games.

Stand and Deliver!
Another thing that this game is PERFECT for is as a supplement to Castles & Crusades. Not only do you get an updated Arcane class, you get a perfectly workable Psionic class with powers. Even if you don't use that try using the Fate Point system with C&C.

One of the nice features of this game is the use of just using a +5 for Primes. Instead of a TN or 12 or 18 like C&C, AA gives you a plus to your roll. We housed ruled this for C&C a while back and I understand it is fairly common. I like it better than the core C&C rules and will use this instead.

There is something else that this game would be perfect for. I have had this desire to do a game based in 16th to 17th Century England where I could cover such topics as Queen Elizabeth, The Stuart Kings and Queens, Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake, Guy Fawkes, John Dee, Highway Men, sail and conquest. This plus C&C minus many of the D&D trappings would be perfect.

I am thinking of modding the vehicle combat rules for Highwaymen on horse back and coaches-in-four. Stand and deliver indeed!

Missing
What is missing from the book that I think would have been nice are some Archetypes/1st level NPCs.
Also a supporting cast might also be good. What level and class is Police Officer O'Hara at Precinct 9 where you get all your good tips?

A couple of adventures from the publisher would also be nice. You could put a few of them into one book.

Also missing, but something that I can easily find, is a map of the World circa 1930 with so travel times and costs. I would have liked some more information on the world too. I guess that is the one thing that this book lacks. Granted, these things are typically covered in a Game Masters' book or a Campaign book. I ignored it up to this point because I was so drawn in by all the things I want to do with this that I never considered missing. I am hesitant to count off for it since a.) I only noticed it now despite having had and played around with this game for a while and b.) I was not then and am not now likely to even use it.

So where do end this?
Well I really like this book. Even if I never play it as intended there is just too much good stuff in it to ignore.

Buy this if
...you like Jason's other books. This is his style through and through.
...you like two-fisted pulp action adventure.
...you like Castles & Crusades and are looking to turn it up a notch or add Psionics or a Fate Point system.
...you want a flexible modern system built on a system that is tried and tested for years.
...you want easy to use vehicle combat rules.

My imagination is really grabbed by this system. I think there is a lot of potential here and a lot I want to do with this game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures!
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Stock Art: Dronhedon - Aquatic Mammal
Publisher: Cloister Publications
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2012 09:20:30
Ok I love buying art I can use in in other projects and this one grabbed my eye right away.
I love the odd deep-sea feel to this creature. It could be an ocean monster, some winged astral worm or as the description says a large water mammal.

What do you get?
You get 5 image files; 1 jpg for the web and 4 hires jpg, tiff, png and psd files.
You also get a really interesting "how it was made" pdf so you can see the evolution of this creature and some notes from the artist. This really sets this piece apart from the rest in my mind. I don't think every bit of stock art here needs it, but certainly the more interesting looking ones like this benefit from it.
There is another PDF from the artist on how you can use this in a game.
There are game-generic stats included with bar charts and iconography (snails, humans, dragons, angel/demon) to explain where it is. It looks like it is as smart as a snail, strong as a gorilla, no magic and other helpful bits. This also sets this apart in my mind.

Now I know there are these suggestions, but I had something very, very specific in mind when I saw this piece. To me that is also a good thing. If I see a bit of art and go "I know EXACTLY where to use that!" then I am usually sold.

I will be checking out more from this publisher.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Dronhedon - Aquatic Mammal
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2013 Fantasy Female Calendar and Print Set
Publisher: Stainless Steel Dragon
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2012 13:38:41
Just what is says on the cover. 2013 calendar.
Each month is presented as a "Wall Calendar" and "Desk Calendar". So 50+ pages.
Models are the same as other products, but new poses and shots. Also the models names for each month are listed.
For 5 bucks (or under 3 on sale) its a great deal.

There is some scantily clad women but still more tame than similar products.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
2013 Fantasy Female Calendar and Print Set
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100 Dragon Names
Publisher: Ennead Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2012 13:28:27
100 names, 50 cents. What could be better?
Exactly what it says on the cover.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
100 Dragon Names
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Clipart Critters 251 - The Last Straw
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/19/2012 11:45:44
I love Clipart Critters.

Often times I am in need of something special for a project, I want to pay for it and have to rights to publish it with my work but I don't spend a ton of money on a custom piece.

These are great. They are more often than not exactly what I need when I need it.
This one is no exception.
Great piece of art with easy to understand license at a great price.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 251 - The Last Straw
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Bathory - AoV Solo (M&M3e)
Publisher: Xion Studios
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2012 19:21:36
Vampires have an odd role to play in a supers game, something this book recognizes.
This takes one of the most iconic vampires in myth and one of the most notorious real-life killer and adds her to the Mutants & Masterminds 3.0 game.
The author gives us an interesting back story that should be familiar to most anyone with an interest in vampires. There is a new, more up-to-date backstory of her activities from 2001 and on.

The crunch part, her stats and powers are good and they look "right" to me.
There is also a template for a Bathory-lineage vampire, which is a good one to use in a game. Her PL is 12, which makes her a good threat against most supers.

I am not 100% sold on her being in a Goth Metal Band myself, but it certainly looks like it works here.

6 pages: cover art, condensed OGL statement and a lot of stuff to use in your game. You are getting a lot for your buck here.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bathory - AoV Solo (M&M3e)
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True Naming: A supplement of magic, language, and power [PFRPG]
Publisher: Lee's Lists
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2012 16:11:15
I really interesting supplement on an alternate form of magic for your Pathfinder/3.x game.
The changes are mostly flavor, but it is a very interesting one.

There is a complete class and how they use the secret names to have magical effects.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
True Naming: A supplement of magic, language, and power [PFRPG]
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Vicious Villains II: Mystical Monsters
Publisher: Aegis Studios
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2012 16:06:05
Eight villains with stats and backstories ready to go for Mutants & Masterminds 3.
These could also be used as NPCs but really they work best as bad guys.
There is a magical bent to all of these, so if that is your M&M game, like mine is, then these are good to use.

The art varies from line to cg to color. The crunch is great and the back stories interesting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vicious Villains II: Mystical Monsters
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Champions of Magic
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2012 14:17:51
Three new magic themed classes for the Pathfinder (or 3.x) game.

The Wytchblade is something like a spell-sword or magus only related to witches. It is a full 20th level class, but I think I would have enjoyed it more as a prestige class.
The Maven is a prestige class that warps and changes the spells it casts. They trade off total number of spells they can cast for flexibility on their remaining spells. I like the idea, but I'll have to see how it plays. In game terms they are metamagic masters.

The Time Traveler is another Prestige Class. This one manipulates time and it's assorted effects.

There are no new spells or feats, just the classes.
The layout is good. Nice and clear, easy to read so the product looks great.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Champions of Magic
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Feats of Seduction
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2012 14:04:30
Abandoned Arts has a number of books for under a buck. The great thing is that for the price of a 24ox bottle of Mt. Dew (in some places) you can have a some crunch. Since they are grouped by theme and use you can usually get exactly what you are looking for.

Feats of Seduction is one of those products that you already know if you want or not. I will contend that there is enough here to for ANY class to use and gain benefit of outside of seduction. I few I read and though they would be great for an illusionist or a cleric as well as a bard or a rogue. I would also say that if you are playing in predominantly urban environments then there is a lot here you can use.

As will all of the AA books this one has a cover page and an OGL page. The rest is dedicated to the 10 feats. Nothing crazy here, these can be added to any game without worry.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Seduction
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