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The Rifter #56
The Rifter #56
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Colonial Gothic: Rulebook Second Edition
Publisher: Rogue Games, Inc
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/14/2014 18:06:49
WHAT WORKS: I'm a fairly psychotically patriotic, idealistic American, so playing or running a game at the dawn of the United States is cool to me, and adding in demons and devils and overwhelming eeeeevil just makes it cooler. I love a magic system with a chance of failure and consequences, which this certainly provides. It also provides utility spells, which are often omitted to the annoyance of many gamers of many games. The Action Points can easily make the game as cinematic as you like, by forcing success assuming you have any stockpiled at all, and you don't roll just miserably.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Not enough random tables. What? I like random tables. Rolling Ability Tests seems like a dicey proposition, as you are rolling 2d12 and trying to get under a single number ranked 1-12. The creation guidelines for monsters and adversaries worries me that the game could get a tad hefty on the book keeping end for GMs. Personally speaking, I would totally have placed the rules after the character creation. Just felt jarring to me.

CONCLUSION: I'd wanted to check this game out for some time, and I was glad to finally get a chance to. Supernatural action/horror in the time of the American Revolution ranks up there pretty highly on my list of "likes", right behind supernatural action/horror in the American West. Having not read the 1st edition, I can't tell you if it's worth buying if you already own that one, but for a first exposure to the game, I really enjoyed the subject matter and the presentation (aside from my quibbles with the organization). I'm slightly apprehensive about how the 12° system plays (specifically on Ability Tests), but the game has been around for quite a while and is in it's second edition without having that changed, apparently, so I'm willing to assume that the issue is bigger in my head. I would definitely like working this into my game table's rotation to find out for sure.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2014/01/tommys-take-o-
n-colonial-gothic-2nd.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Colonial Gothic: Rulebook Second Edition
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Epoch
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2014 18:41:39
WHAT WORKS: EPOCH boasts a very interesting mechanic, akin to many semicooperative board games. You are trying to survive, yeah (and someone is probably going to die), but it's all for naught if you fail to rack up enough points to beat the Horror Track. The freeform roleplaying is more likely to appeal to non-gamers or casual gamers. There is a great amount of support available for the game, and the price point for the book is low, making the purchase of the card deck not seem like such a big extra expense.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Your average roleplayer may be thrown by the game lacking even a trait system, much less stats or ability scores. In some groups, a dominant personality could overrun the game, and the Hero/Zero mechanic could breed some resentment with the wrong players, especially if they feel picked on for not getting enough votes, or being targeted with Zero cards.

CONCLUSION: Definitely not the normal fare for RPGs, EPOCH is a very different take on horror roleplaying, putting the onus very much on the Player-As-Character. That said, the Outcome and Hero/Zero mechanics ensure that the game never comes down to "I win, because I said I do". With the right group who doesn't take anything too personal, it seems like a great game to play in between breaks from other games, though groups with more tense dynamics could run into problems. It could be really great for a convention game, as the lack of personal connections among the group seem like it could actually help, rather than hinder, in this game. I hope to bring this to my table very soon, but from reading, it seems like it could be a great deal if fun if your group isn't afraid of breaking the mold a bit.

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

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Epoch
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Deadlands Figures: Horrors of the Weird West
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2014 01:29:02
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The companion product to Cardstock Cowboys, this 8 page document covers pretty much everything from Rascals, Varmints & Critters 1 & 2, including nosferatu, Dracula, demons, the five unique Hangin' Judges, automatons, Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry and more.

WHAT WORKS: A really good selection, covering the bulk of the remaining official monsters.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The same limitations of being designed for a print product hinder the PDF of this as well. Running Night Train and want a legion of Nosferatu? Get ready to print page 1 - including trade dress that covers a quarter of the page, as well as a bunch of creatures you don't have an immediate use for - over and over again. You're also going to get a lot of dead space on some of the pages, which is doubly annoying when it's your ink and paper going into printing these.

CONCLUSION: A more specialized selection than the first set, combined with a sub optimal set-up for home printing, and my recommendation for this set is even more lukewarm than for Cardstock Cowboys. Right now, this is as good as it gets for Deadlands fans, but I would love to have newer sets that took advantage of the advances in technology. It wasn't a waste of money, but it wasn't my wisest purchase, either.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Figures: Horrors of the Weird West
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Deadlands Figures: Cardstock Cowboys Starter
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2014 01:28:34
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This is a printable PDF ($7.49) for figure flats covering most of the major Deadlands needs: Gunslingers, Texas Rangers, Men in Black Dusters, Blessed, Hucksters, Natives of all stripes, shysters, bandits, desperadoes, cultists, most of the previous also on horseback, walkin' dead, Hangin' Judges, wendigos, devil bats, Los Diablos, Mojave Rattlers and even Maze Dragons.

WHAT WORKS: This'll cover most of your Deadlands stand-ups needs. One of the biggest pains we've had is one PC that is a Native who has been Deputized...we managed to find a standup that did a pretty decent impression of him as well. It's cool getting different varieties of the same archetypes. Especially so I don't have to resort to, say, using Necessary Evil figure flats in a Deadlands game. You get 16 PAGES of printable flats, of various sizes as needed (the Prairie Ticks are tiny...the Maze Dragons are massive).

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: This was originally a print product, and the first page has a large trade dress/sidebar that you can't work around if you want to print that first page off. A lot of the art is good, but a bit too small, especially with the color, and it loses something. I've seen smaller images on printable figures that were just line art that printed better because of it. No Harrowed.

CONCLUSION: A really good purchase for a Deadlands fan that uses minis but needs something cheap and easy to fill up his battlefields (i.e. me). I would love a more fully featured product with clearer art and customized printing (like being able to select the figures you want to print off, instead of printing off three separate pages to get to the three figures my players were using, as I had to). I probably would have LOVED this in print, but working with a cheap printer, it is a less than optimal product...still a good purchase, just not a GREAT one.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Figures: Cardstock Cowboys Starter
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Accursed
Publisher: Melior Via
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/30/2013 02:23:17
WHAT WORKS: The art is gorgeous. The "Heroes as Monsters" bit hasn't been overdone in Savage Worlds, and Accursed sets the standard pretty high in that regard. The level of detail in each Witchbreed is very cool and very evocative, and the Witchmark rules, providing reasons to both embrace and reject power, are great as well.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Some of the Accursed seemed to get the shorter end of the stick than the others, with Mummies having fewer cool bits to play around with. This is essentially a three book purchase, rather than the two book purchase that most Savage Settings are. Savage Tales to go along with the Plot Point Campaign would have been welcome. The editing in my PDF was still pretty rough, but it was updated after I downloaded it and I just caught that as I was finishing this review.

CONCLUSION: I was provided a preview copy of the Playtest rules and almost immediately made a pledge on the Kickstarter. I like Accursed enough that I put my money where my mouth is, I'll be getting a print copy and I may even spring for both poker decks. People who believe that Savage Worlds should always be as minimalist as possible aren't going to like the extra bits of crunch added to Accursed, but I personally think it's one of the coolest settings I've seen, and it will hit my table after the print version arrives, if not before. Melior Via made the game I've always wanted to play.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2013/12/tommys-take-o-
n-accursed.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Accursed
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Dude, Run!
Publisher: Creepy Doll Studios
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2013 01:07:24
WHAT WORKS: A fun, light RPG-ish game that could well appeal to non gamers who are open to a little roleplaying. Price point isn't bad and the game knows it's not a deep RPG, avoiding complicated subsystems and instead settling for a quick competitive/cooperative experience. I am utterly in love with that cover.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The game is built with the assumption of an ongoing campaign in mind, but I can't imagine ever really using it more than once or twice a year.

CONCLUSION: Dude, Run! seems like it would be a good deal of fun in the right setting. I could see busting it out annually around Halloween as a much lighter alternative to other horror games like Slasher Film, especially if you have a curious non-gamer or two willing to sit in.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2013/12/tommys-take-o-
n-dude-run.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dude, Run!
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Leverage Companion 06: KRYPTOS
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Available in the same formats as above, Companion 6 takes your Leverage game from the Populist Revenge business and into the realm of Espionage (and Counter-Espionage). This includes advice on changing up the roles (Hitter to Wetworks, Thief to Acquisitions, Mastermind to Handler, etc). This is even a recommended mode of play for Single Player games (James Bond or Jason Bourne, anyone?) While these Companions commonly offer new Talents, this one also offers new rules, such as resisting Interrogations, handling "Gadgets", and even an "Enhanced Flashback" mechanic that allows the Agents to throw the trust of each other into question.There's even a few campaign set-ups, including an amusing one set in a retirement home for secret agents. An Instant Mission Generator replaces the Job Generator from the Leverage core rules, so you can generate spy-appropriate missions on the fly.

WHAT WORKS: Well, I love random generators, so that's a win right there. There's lots of good information in a small package to tweak Leverage from its default mode of play and into spy games.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A few spy-related Talents would have been great. Mentioning the Trust mechanic before the section that actually introduced it was a little counterintuitive, but not a huge problem given the size of the product.

CONCLUSION: If you're going to write a niche product like this, present the information as usefully and as compelling as you can. This book totally hit the mark in that regard, giving you the necessary tools to turn Leverage into a spy game with a small package. I always like extra options for Talents, so the book lacking those is disappointing. That said, it's a well-written, micro supplement that was released with a very clear goal that it accomplishes admirably. A great pick-up if you want to diversify your Leverage campaign options.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage Companion 06: KRYPTOS
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Leverage Companion 05: Tropes Vs. Leverage
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: As above, you can get it as a single PDF or part of the Companion Volume 2. The purpose of this Companion is help out a bit with defining a character by making use of different archetypes. About 15 archetypes are provided, with descriptions and advice on combining each archetype with each of the five Roles, as well as a Talent that fits each Archetype. Maybe your Hitter is a Mama Bear (or Papa Wolf), maybe your Hacker is a Romantic, maybe your Thief is an Artist, maybe your Grifter is a Rebel and maybe your Mastermind is an Architect who has built each of their plans off of the backs of their last ones.

WHAT WORKS: A real simple way to get a starting point for your Leverage characters, using common archetypes as the core concept (combined with the Roles, obviously). Some of them are truly inspired, as are their related Talents (like an Architect getting a bigger Asset die when using a Callback, since they are building to these moments).

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Some of the combinations don't fit so well, and at times the writing seemed to struggle to define the Archetype/Role relationships without repeating the same ground. Several of the pages carry the footers from the Hollywood Hacking Companion, which presumably got brought over in formatting but never changed.

CONCLUSION: A very useful Companion for those struggling with character creation, or for those who are maybe looking for inspiration for a unique spin for their next character. I also appreciate the fact that there's an attempt at backing these decisions up mechanically, with the inclusion of Talents. A good, well written companion piece to the Leverage rulebooks and supplements.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage Companion 05: Tropes Vs. Leverage
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Leverage Companion 04: Hollywood Hacking vs. the Real World
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: You can either get the PDF for $2.99, or you can get the compilation of ALL the Companions in a print or PDF compilation at RPGNow. The Hollywood Hacking Companion mostly covers the artistic license that TV and movies tends to take with Hacking (like people blowing up stoplights by hacking into them, or the antiquated idea that you have to keep someone talking on a phone in order to trace them). It does a pretty good job of straddling the line between "Don't do what they do on TV because it's silly" and "we're just giving you information so someone a bit more knowledgeable than you can't just call your bluff". A handful of Hacking related Talents are included, but they aren't limited entirely to Hackers. One Talent, for instance, is Mastermind-based and allows you to exploit people who are working off of Hollywood Hacking assumptions. Another one is nice, arrogant trick a Hacker can pull out at the last second. Why didn't they do it earlier? Duh, they were dumbing it down for the rest of the crew.

WHAT WORKS: The extra Talents are always fun. The writing is nice and breezy without turning into a technical lecture.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The Companions are all fairly "niche", with this one being especially so.

CONCLUSION: With the Companions now collected into Companion Volume 2, it's worth reading the material as part of the larger compilation if nothing else. As a standalone PDF? Not the first purchase I would recommend...but the Talents alone make a nice addition to a larger product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage Companion 04: Hollywood Hacking vs. the Real World
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The Shrine of St. Aleena
Publisher: Small Niche Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
WHAT WORKS: Top notch writing again, with Small Niche once more providing an exciting adventure with a strong backstory for low level parties. It manages to be a Dungeon Crawl that kinda slaps the "murder hobo" mindset in the face.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: It's a little more "paint by numbers" than what you usually get from Small Niche, but that still means it's several steps ahead of a bog standard dungeon crawl.

CONCLUSION: There is one riddle in the adventure that is VERY D&D/Labyrinth Lord specific, which would make conversion to, say, Savage Worlds or DungeonWorld or something like that a bit more problematic. For my money, Inn of Lost Heroes is still the standard bearer for Small Niche adventures, but if you're in a dungeon crawl mood and you have a low level (heroic) party, The Shrine of St. Aleena will fit your needs nicely.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2013/11/tommys-take-o-
n-shrine-of-st-aleena.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Shrine of St. Aleena
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Dresden Files RPG: Our World
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/18/2013 00:35:07
WHAT WORKS: A fantastic read for fans of the Dresden Files, as well as a great guide for adapting the creatures and NPCs from the novels as a guide for making your own. Again, the production values are top notch, and the sidebars are very useful and informative, especially when dealing with issues like how to handle Harry in your games (if at all). The index covering both books is also a great thing. Also, it's The Dresden Files.

I'm a fanboy. I admit it.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: My biggest gripe is the overabundance of "We don't really know, so we're hand waving this" entries...that said, Harry is considered to be an "unreliable narrator", so you can OFFICIALLY take anything in the book with a grain of salt.

CONCLUSION: Not quite as high on the "Must Buy" list as "Your Story", but still a great, well-written and gorgeous resource. I certainly don't regret picking it up, even though my eventual game will probably having nothing to do with Chicago or the inhabitants of the books (at least not directly). Worth buying? Yes. Must have? Maaaaaybe, if only because Your Story lacks a bestiary.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2013/11/tommys-take-o-
n-dresden-files-rpg-our.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dresden Files RPG: Our World
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Dresden Files RPG: Your Story
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/17/2013 17:56:05
WHAT WORKS: A licensed RPG is about perfect for Fate, because it helps put a context to all the rules and moving bits, especially Aspects. The production values are gorgeous and the writing is hilarious, with lots of great asides and bits for fans of the books as Harry, Billy and Bob shoot comments back and forth. While the game is ostensibly a two-book purchase, this book actually gives you everything you need to play (including a sample setting), shy of a bestiary.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: If you don't already own Fudge Dice or Fate Dice, you'll need a pair. Wizards get an overwhelming amount of focus, which may be a problem if you have a player in the game that isn't a fan of spellcasters (though it is worth noting that Dresdenverse Wizards are MUCH more versatile than the Wizard archetype you're probably used to). Sample monsters would have been nice, for those who don't want to pick up a second book. If you hate informal tones to your books, stay away from this one.

CONCLUSION: I love The Dresden Files. I used to get utterly lost by Fate. Between ICONS acting as a "gateway drug" and the context of the Dresden Files license, Fate becomes a LOT easier to wrap my head around, and I hope this hits my game table in 2014. The only things I wish it had can't be taken as knocks against it, and that would be easier guidelines to expand it beyond Dresden Files (such as covering Buffy the Vampire Slayer or my own comic, The Chronicles of Rachel Strand), but it's not *designed* to do that...it's designed to emulate The Dresden Files (though that does cover a lot of ground, admittedly)...and with a little Fate Core and Fate Toolkit, that may be more than doable. Just a great licensed product that I had a blast reading, trying to match up the various pictures with their relevant scenes from the book series. This would be my immediate pick for an Urban Fantasy game to run, if I had the choice. Top notch product, well worth the price I paid for it (scored both books and four sets of Fudge dice on eBay).

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2013/11/tommys-take-o-
n-dresden-files-rpg-your.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dresden Files RPG: Your Story
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tremulus: the cemetery (Ebon Eaves Expansion I)
Publisher: Reality Blurs
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2013 20:22:24
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This expansion is a little different than the others, running $10 instead of $5. On top of that, it only includes three Playbooks:

The Bereaved - Someone in mourning, needing a shoulder to lean on. Definitely NOT one to play in a one-on-one game, as a few of their moves rely on other people being present...namely, gaining Trust with others and using their Lore moves.

The Grave Digger - You can pick Moves that make him a perfectly nice guy...or you can make him a scuzzy graverobber instead.

The Mortician - Somebody's gotta prepare the bodies. The Mortician comforts folks who have just suffered tragedy, which can come in handy in a horror game.

So if it's $10 and only has three playbooks, what's the deal? The deal is that it adds more info based off of the Town Lore questions at the beginning of the game, effectively blowing up the information combinations by adding a whole other set of mysteries to the town (all kinda cemetery based).

WHAT WORKS: A slew of new options for town generation. Three new playbooks, each of which are interesting and unique in their own way, yet still tied to the cemetery setting.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The minor complaint that the cemetery results are tied to the Town Lore, so those results will be bound together regardless (though there are soooo many possible results that this becomes a very minor quibble).

CONCLUSION: Well worth it if you're looking for more than just a one shot game, as a third plot thread should get you rolling nicely. If you're just in it for the playbooks, though, that price tag might be a tad steep.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
tremulus: the cemetery (Ebon Eaves Expansion I)
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tremulus: playbook set III: madmen
Publisher: Reality Blurs
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2013 18:15:09
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Have you noticed a trend developing here? These entries have been a steady walk off the deep end, and the Madmen make the last set look normal.

The Chosen - No, not quite Buffy, or even Ash. The Chosen can be downright bizarre, perhaps touched by darkness in such a way that they now see in the dark or even breathe underwater.

The Escapee - You've lost your mind once, but you know there's crazy stuff out there. You may be hunted by the very things that led to your imprisonment, but you are powered by a desperate will now.

The Inventor - The Scientist and The Handyman pumped up to 11. More Frankenstein than Einstein.

The Sorcerer - You have a handful of magical effects on standby, and are more adept than most at casting rituals.

The Veteran - You experienced the horrors of war, but occasionally you still find glimpses of the man you once were, and unleash him against the darkness.

WHAT WORKS: One of the more unique sets (and the sets are usually pretty impressive). I particularly like the portrayals of The Veteran and The Escapee.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Not a lot. I like the balance on The Inventor and Sorcerer more than I do The Dreamer and The Psychic, and the character options are among the most interesting.

CONCLUSION: If I were a player, I think I'd probably play The Veteran first and foremost above all of them, though The Escapee runs a close second. Probably my two favorite options among all the playbooks.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
tremulus: playbook set III: madmen
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tremulus: playbook set II: on the fringes
Publisher: Reality Blurs
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2013 18:11:14
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Same as above - $5 package of playbooks to expand your game, running the fine line of "acceptable society":

The Artist - Passion drives most of what the Artist does, and this can leave them vulnerable to shock, or make them off-putting to others.

The Criminal - Not generally a thug, the Criminal's Lore move allows them to formulate a Backup Plan, and other moves provide options like being sneaky or charming.

The Dreamer - No, this isn't just someone with their head in the clouds...The Dreamer can reach the actual Dreamlands! This can provide valuable insight at times.

The Drifter - A bonafide ramblin' man, who sometimes gets by on Luck as much as anything. Additionally, your Drifter may have witnessed a bit more in his day than most.

The Psychic - Full-blown having visions and communing with the spirit world.

WHAT WORKS: Some very oddball options for tremulus, stretching the boundaries further. We've used Drifter and Psychic both in play, so these are options proving popular over here.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The Psychic communing with spirits can get out of hand at times, and I would imagine from the reading that The Dreamer could get that way as well.

CONCLUSION: If you want more weirdness from your PCs in tremulus, this is a good step as especially The Dreamer and The Psychic are particularly oddball. Just watch out for them spending too much time using their Moves (which aren't even Lore moves, but which do have time constraints on them) as they can blow some of your mystery right off.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
tremulus: playbook set II: on the fringes
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