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Mindjammer - The Roleplaying Game - FREE PREVIEW
Publisher: Modiphius
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/21/2014 12:42:42
I was so impressed by the preview of Mindjammer that I went to their company website and pre-ordered the hardback. I was sent the 'thoughtcast' pdf and promptly started reading.

Mindjammer's writing is outstanding. The book is very nicely illustrated and the science is cutting edge. I have read all of the recent RPGs dealing with trans and post humanism (Transhuman Space, Eclipse Phase and Nova Praxis) and this is the one that will make the fans of space opera and the fans of realistic SF very happy. The system used is the FATE engine which is perhaps the best modern RPG for both telling stories and resolving action tasks.

If I were to have any criticism of Mindjammer, it would be with some of the organization of the chapters. There are places where I wish the book had continued with a particular subject (skills for example) rather than placing it in a separate chapter. I feel that character creation should be one long process rather than an outline followed by chapters dealing with the separate sections.

I heartily recommend Mindjammer to anyone interested in realistic, transhuman gaming. You won't be disappointed.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mindjammer - The Roleplaying Game - FREE PREVIEW
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Nova Praxis [Augmented PDF]
Publisher: Void Star Games
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/21/2013 17:01:50
I give Nova Praxis high marks for organization, appearance and ease of play. Unfortunately, I've already been playing in a world like this with Eclipse Phase. So much of what I find in Nova Praxis seems very similar and I'd rather have the more comprehensive rules and worlds of EP. Nova Praxis would certainly work for those who need something simpler, however.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Nova Praxis [Augmented PDF]
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EABA Verne v1.0
Publisher: BTRC
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2011 12:16:32
Perhaps one of the most comprehensive guides to the Victorian era ever written for gamers, Verne manages cover every aspect of this world in ways that are sometimes intimidating in their detail and frankness. If you were to have a Victorian era adventure, this book should be at the top of your list of reference materials. I was especially impressed with the descriptions (often from period publications) of how this 'alien' world works. Then, to make things even more impressive, Greg Porter has included excellent sections on the technology and backgrounds that turn an already useful guide into a "steampunk" game.

Verne rivals Castle Falkenstein as one of the best written and designed rpgs for this era (though, surprisingly, Greg doesn't mention CF in his bibliography- wonder why...?).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
EABA Verne v1.0
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Eclipse Phase
Publisher: Posthuman Studios LLC
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2009 14:38:52
I am extremely pleased with Eclipse Phase. This is an excellent alternative to GURPS TransHuman Space and the price can't be beat. The system is essentially percentile-based with a point-based character creation system. Plenty of templates are provided to help you understand your choices. The book is 400+ pages and is exquisitely illustrated throughout. The only problems I've seen so far are a few, niggling typos and the 1000 pts you have to spend on skills, traits, and morphs (though that 1000 disappears rather quickly, actually).

I recommend this game highly to anyone interested in imaginative, near future SF settings.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eclipse Phase
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HOT CHICKS: The Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Dakkar Unlimited
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/03/2008 13:31:46
I guess I'm glad I bought this. I have all the miniature products from Dakkar and I seem to be a faithful purchaser of suggestive titles. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this game is considerably more than a MWWG rip. The designers have put a lot of thought and work into the product and it actually stands up well in the modern fantasy/techno/horror genre. I look forward to creating my first character and trying out a small scenario.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
HOT CHICKS: The Roleplaying Game
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Battlestar Galactica GM Screen
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/15/2007 17:00:59
This is a followup review. Within twenty hours I received notice that a modified product had been placed at RPGNow and available for download.

This new version of the GM Screen satisfies my earlier criticism. The tables are now divided into single pages that may be printed separately and mounted in plastic document protectors or be laminated together to form a screen. The poster is now present and is an excellent pair of diagrams of the Galactica and of a smaller ship from the Quickstart Guide. These are presented on individual 8.5x11 pages, so they're not much of a poster, but I am told a later effort will be made to provide such a poster in a format that may be printed out and assembled.

The tables provided take care of most of the GM's needs for running a basic game. I could wish that more information be provided about ships as well, but there is little enough space for the items that are there.

The BSG RPG GM Screen is an extremely useful tool for the Game Master and I intend to be using mine this Friday evening. I am adjusting my rating upward to reflect the new presentation of this product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Battlestar Galactica GM Screen
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Battlestar Galactica GM Screen
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/14/2007 21:21:19
Not Happy. Not Happy at all!

The product took an hour to be delivered AFTER the checkout program said it had been delivered. When I downloaded the PDF, it was not in single page format. I don't know about you, but I don't have any 36 inch paper or cardstock to put through my printer. There were no instructions on how to reformat so that it could be printed single page.

Furthermore, there is no sign of the poster of the Galactica.

This looks like it could be a very useful, cool and colorful product. At the moment, it's useless to me.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
The poster's absence was a mistake that will be fixed shortly. I see your point about the lack of single page printing option. I'll update the file today so you (and everyone else) will have access to a more user-friendly file. Thanks for letting us know!
Update: I've separated the panels into individual pages, and included the poster art. We were having some difficulty with the high-resolution art, but once I get new files I'll update the file again with larger poster art.
Displaced
Publisher: Phalanx Games Design
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/03/2007 00:00:00
Displaced
A roleplaying toolkit written by Phillip McGregor.

I recently purchased and downloaded the two-volume set of Displaced. The first volume is "Lost in Time and Space" and the second is "Survival and Rebirth."

McGregor is an Australian High School history teacher who has been involved in gaming and game design for about thirty years (about the same period as myself). Therefore, he knows plenty about history and how games and gamers function. Fascinated with the SF trope of alternate timelines and parallel worlds, Phillip McGregor has written two very large and very detailed books on how to best simulate this type of adventure with an RPG.

The first book- "Lost in Time and Space"- is fairly short (just 74 pages), but manages to very succinctly deal lethal blows to the average gamer's notions of history and time travel adventuring. This book discusses how history is written and perceived, including how our so-called understanding of history is so fatally flawed by our educational processes and prejudices.

In the course of this essay, McGregor shows how differently people of the past thought and acted. He details how displaced adventurers can be trapped by their preconceptions and assumptions. Space is set aside to deal with how such a party would survive and how time-travelers would or would not be able to affect the past.

The first book concludes with a short, neat bibliography reviewing some of the more well-known genre books, including Islands in the Sea of Time, by S. M. Stirling, 1632 by Eric Flint, and rather significantly, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague DeCamp. He also reviews several RPG's of the genre, including Stargate: SG1, GURPS: Infinite Worlds, and EABA, among others.

The second book of the Displaced set is "Survival and Rebirth". It is the far-larger of the two, topping out at 207 pages. And it needs every one of them.

This book explains how technology works; how it is made, how it is maintained, how it is repaired, what materials are required to do it, and, more importantly, what tools are needed to make the tools that will be used to build the tools to make the technology. By the time I finished reading book two, I was thoroughly amazed that our civilization worked at all! It seems to be hanging by a series of very delicately balanced juggling acts, themselves suspended on the rather taut thread of energy production.

This book tells you how and why things work. It also tells you just how difficult it will be for our displaced adventurers to create and maintain any of that technology in a more primitive milieu. All of it is interdependent, requiring many other seemingly separate developments to exist. This is all very impressively researched and my hat is off to Phillip McGregor for managing to dumb it down for his reader's understanding.

Next there is a very impressive catalog of assorted technologies and how difficult each would be to create and how much each would relatively cost. My favorite is the Sten submachine gun, which apparently can be produced as far back as the Roman Republic with only a little extra effort. My prejudice towards flying machines was well-fed in the volume with the inclusion of hang-gliders, ultra-lights, and small aircraft- many of which are buildable in very primitive eras.

Following this, McGregor then provides a set of different "gifts" that the GM can give to his displaced adventurers in the form of air-raid shelters, malls, secret bases, future tech labs, a small Australian town, and the McMurdo station in Antarctica (among others). This Christmas present of resources for our heroes would more than enable any RPG group to survive and exceed in an alternate past. McGregor includes hints about what might be found in freight containers, Liberty ships, survivalist's basements, junkyards, and the like.

Of particular note is the inclusion of the Australian town of Nyngan (population 2500). This is significant because Phillip McGregor goes to great trouble to detail as much about Nyngan as possible; including maps, power, resources, stores, schools, police and fire stations, local mines and gas wells, airport, and so forth. What he has done is extremely evocative of Eric Flint's 1632 novel(s).

In Flint's story, the West Virginia Appalachian coal town on Grantville is scooped up and transplanted to the year 1631 in Thuringia, Germany, in the middle of the Thirty Years War. When Eric Flint set out to tell his story, he based Grantville on a very real Mannington, WV, and took great pains to constrain his characters and resources to what would realistically be available. Phillip McGregor has done likewise with his similarly populated town of Nyngan and it would seem that he intends that players would potentially use the descriptions to put Nyngan into a similar situation- not necessarily in the Thirty Years War, but perhaps in the slightly later English Civil War, perhaps? One especially interesting comparison between the two towns is that Mannington, WV has the typically American abundance of firearms and ammunition. The Grantville version of the place has easily 17,000+ guns, including a Vietnam-era smuggled home M-60 general purpose machine gun. In the case of Nyngan, just about the only weapons available are in the hands of the NSW Australian police department, and consist mainly of sidearms and a few shotguns. This contrast between the restrictions on firearms in the two different countries will make adventuring from displaced Nyngan very interesting indeed.

Book two winds up with a thorough set of tables detailing all of the equipment, weapons, and vehicles listed in the book, in their correct readouts for D20 Modern, Action!, Spycraft, Impressa Express, and EABA. While this is a generous layout by McGregor, he makes it plain that he prefers Greg Porter's ground-breaking EABA system to the others. Also, while he lists Action!, McGregor fails to mention that Battlefield Press has released Eric Flint's 1632 roleplaying game using that system. Battlefield Press chose to address just the first book of the series (so far), and the volume has received mixed reviews (primarily due to the lack of a promised coherent map and key of Grantville and it's surroundings), but is still an excellent, basic introduction to gaming in that period.

I found Displaced to be a thought-provoking, useful toolkit filled to the brim with excellent critiques and essays on the problems of cross-time adventuring. Extremely reasonably priced at $9.99, Displaced only lacks an actual adventure and game rules, and those are easily obtained- in some cases as free downloads. Indeed McGregor promises that there will be future volumes coming, using the EABA system. I look forward to them.



LIKED: The honest assessment of the treatment of history in RPG's. The complete lists of gear for various systems.

DISLIKED: Didn't quite go far enough and actually give you a game. Lot's of typos here and there.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Displaced
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Publisher Reply:
Sadly, as much as anyone tries, there are *always* typos in the first edition of *anything* ... the advantage of pdfs (especially those available through RPGNow where purchasers get the ability to download any updates *for free*) is that is extremely simple to correct any such errors! So, if you have/find any, please feel free to contact me at the email address in the book!
Cyberpunk v.3
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/19/2005 08:22:49
I've had a chance to read through the product and I'm generally pleased with the result. The timeline dovetails nicely with 2020 and the 4th Corporate War and answers many questions. Unfortunately there are a few slips with the conversion of the game system from Interlock to Fuzion and this has resulted in a number of simple, but easily correctible, errors. The "art" consists of photographs of action figures, unfortunately. Some of it actually looks pretty good, but most of it looks like...dolls. It's a damned shame that Alex Racine is no longer with us. There are some other problems with the book, but Mike Pondsmith's outstanding writing ability makes up for most of that and, hopefully, there will be an errata document shortly.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cyberpunk v.3
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Cold Space RPG
Publisher: Better Mousetrap Games
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/16/2005 00:00:00
This is a very cleverly written and conceived RPG based on the Starcluster engine by the same authors. I especially enjoyed the period songs, which help to put you in the mood of the various eras much the same way that television shows like Cold Case accomplish. This concept will be especially attractive to players who enjoy retro scifi and simple space opera.
The Starcluster game engine is appropriatly modified for Cold Space and works well enough. I found only superficial problems and the publisher seems most willing to work with customers on resolving these. Should the gamer not wish to use Starcluster, however, the concept is so well-conceived that it may be played with any other appropriate game engine- such as GURPS or Action!.

LIKED: I think the art enhances the game.

DISLIKED: Not enough on period vehicles.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cold Space RPG
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Ship of the Line
Publisher: FJ Gaming
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/03/2005 00:00:00
With Ship of the Line, FJG has produced the ultimate expression of its square dice maneuver system. Very similar to the previous products (Blazing Jets and Barmy Biplanes), Ship of the Line is more suited to the game system than aircraft. I wouldn't have thought that Napoleonic era naval combat could be expressed so easily, but this game does it quite well.

FJG has also provided a large amount of background material that will satisfy the student of the period as well as informing the neophyte. With only a few minutes of preparation, I had a three-ship battle in progress with multiple exchanges of broadsides. This game was played with a juvenile who had little trouble understanding how the game worked with only a short explanation.

Bravo, FJG. Extremely well done!

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ship of the Line
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Publisher Reply:
Hi Scott, thanks very much for the review and I'm glad you enjoyed it so much :)
Open Core Role Playing Game
Publisher: Battlefield Press
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2005 00:00:00
I find the Open Core RPG to be an excellent alternative to the similar Action! system. Where Open Core really shines is in its treatment of superpowers, magic, and psionics- areas where Action! was deficient. If you want a good, comprehensive, generic RPG, you could do a lot worse than choosing Open Core.

LIKED: Its flexibility and completeness.

DISLIKED: I would have liked to see special abilties divided up between super and mundane, rather than putting them in the same section.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Open Core Role Playing Game
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The Book of Distinctions & Drawbacks Modern
Publisher: Cryptosnark Games
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/21/2004 00:00:00
This is one of the more useful products I've purchased for the d20 system. It brings in a complete set of traits, positive and negative, to a system that badly needs more refinement in character generation. A very welcome product. Warning: Make sure your players all agree to use this add-on. It's not fair to the other players for your character to have all these goodies and they don't get any!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Distinctions & Drawbacks Modern
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EABA v1.1
Publisher: BTRC
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/21/2004 00:00:00
This could be Greg Porter's final and best attempt at doing a generic role playing system. EABA works very well and is extensively illustrated with tables, character sheets, templates, and examples. I am using EABA to run an online modern air mercenary adventure game and I've experienced very few problems- except that the vehicle system needs a bit more detail, and there is a coarseness to the system inherent in its simple core rules. I would certainly recommend EABA to someone looking for a clean, easy-to-use RPG, applicable to most genres.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
EABA v1.1
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Publisher Reply:
Best? I hope so. Final? Do you know something about my lifespan that I don't? Should I be watching out for assassins? I see some secret game cabal discussion: "He could not possibly do anything better, let us kill him before he does something disgraceful like endorsing d20..." While it is true I want EABA to last a good long time, I never assume that I have reached a "final" stage in terms of game development. Despite EABA being the End All Be All rpg. ;) Greg Porter BTRC
Gunslingers: Wild West Action!
Publisher: Gold Rush Games
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/21/2004 00:00:00
Outstanding research and excellent writing make this new Action! product stand out. The authors have really brought the Old West to life with this one. If you have any interest in the period, pick this one up. I had a great time just reading it. If I had a nit to pick, it would be that they might as well have put the rest of the Action! system in the book- however, the Action! core rules are not expensive, and you can download a free (no pictures) version at the GRG website.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gunslingers: Wild West Action!
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