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Outremer
Publisher: Better Mousetrap Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2012 20:49:12

WHAT WORKS: I really do love clash’s layout, with the helpful details in sidebars. The extra detail being present in the book so I don’t have to look for it is also great. I’m a big fan of both Lifepaths and random charts.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: If you already own On Her Majesty’s Arcane Service, a lot of that book is present in this one, including the art. An unfortunate side effect of making a game completely self contained. For me, personally, the Middle East – past or present – isn’t a section of the world that holds a ton of interest for me as a gamer.

CONCLUSION: For me, personally, Outremer falls short against the previous Blood Games releases due to the focus of the game: As mentioned, I have no interest in playing or GMing in a Middle Eastern setting, historical or not. That said, the material in this book is completely compatible with the other two games if you have the extra to spend. Not a bad game, just not my cup of tea, setting-wise. Might just scratch your itch for fantastic historical horror set in the Middle East, though.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/12/tommys-take-on-outremer.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Outremer
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Justice Wheels #3 Bluejay
Publisher: Fainting Goat Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2012 00:11:10

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: You know the deal by now...a character and their vehicle. This becomes the first release to feature an aerial vehicle instead of a car, as we get Bluejay and his Golden Eagle airship. Adrian Smith provides the art this time, and it's very good, though lacking a bit of punch that Scott Harshbarger's first two releases had. Bluejay is the weakest concept thus far, being a boy genius who won the lottery and decided to build an airship to fight crime. He has villain version where he steals the material for his airship and decides to take revenge on everyone that doubted his intellect. An adventure hook for the villain version is provided, as well as the Vehicle rules and cut outs of the character and vehicle.

WHAT WORKS: The links inside this document are clickable, whereas they weren't in the past, and the layout looks a bit better. It is a welcome sight to see a non-car vehicle utilized in the Justice Wheels set.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Neither the hero nor the villain version of Bluejay clicks as well as the Black Scarab or the August Anarche did.

CONCLUSION: Better technical improvement to the PDF compared to the first two, even if the creative end falls a bit shorter this time. The vehicle proves to be the most interesting part of this release, showing off the range of the Vehicle rules. Now we just need a Wizardry (Gadgets)-like allowance for multiple vehicles, ala Batman.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Justice Wheels #3 Bluejay
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Justice Wheels #2 Auguste Anarch
Publisher: Fainting Goat Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2012 23:52:26

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The August Anarche is the second Justice Wheels release, featuring a character and their vehicle, and comes across a lot like The Joker if he were built like Kingpin. He has enemies in both the police and mafia, because he's trying to make his mark in the underworld, and he has a sweet, sweet roadster. The hero variant recasts him as a modern day Robin Hood, making his stat block continue to work completely unaltered. The vehicle rules from volume #1 are reprinted in #2, so you don't need #1 in order to use #2. You also get a printable stand up of the August Anarche and his roadster.

WHAT WORKS: The hero/villain twist works out well once more, and August Anarche being inspired by the Joker but having a few tweaks isn't bad. It is nice that the rules are included here as well, in case you want to jump in here instead of volume 1.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Half the product is reprinted material (the veihicle and chase rules), but one could argue that's as much a pro as a con.

CONCLUSION: If you just want the rules, get The Black Scarab...it's $1 cheaper. Otherwise, it's a really good, low cost pick-up. Scott Harshbarger again provides the art, and it looks great, though I prefer Black Scarab's art over Auguste Anarch, if I had to pick just one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Justice Wheels #2 Auguste Anarch
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Justice Wheels #1 Black Scarab
Publisher: Fainting Goat Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2012 23:36:37

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The first in the Justice Wheels series for ICONS by Fainting Goat Games, it includes a character (Black Scarab) and his car (F.A.L.C.O.N.). With art provided by Scott Harshbarger, both the car and the character looks fantastic. Black Scarab is essentially a much cooler looking Moon Knight, with a villain variant that has him going all Azrael and thinking the only way to save the world is to burn it down. Perhaps most importantly, it provides crunchier vehicle rules, as well as chase rules, or teams buying the Vehicle power as a group. There's even a handy chart to compare movement powers (fliers getting a bonus to escape burrowers, for instance). Finally, the PDF includes a printable cutout for both Black Scarab and his car.

WHAT WORKS: If you want more vehicle rules, this is fantastic. Black Scarab is a cool Moon Knight twist, and the villain variant is interesting enough that I would put him to use in a supers game, easily. Great art.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: At 50 cents, there's not much to complain about. The ultra crunchy rules are not a great fit for ICONS, but that's not surprising as it's not an ultra crunchy game.

CONCLUSION: My understanding is that the Vehicle rules here are supposed to show up in...Team-Up, I believe. The art is great, the character is interesting...really, the biggest complaint is that you'll need to buy it with something else in order to avoid the small order surcharge from One Book Shelf.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Justice Wheels #1 Black Scarab
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Grimm: Core Rulebook
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2012 12:28:10

WHAT WORKS: I love the archetypes. The world is very, very expansive and has a lot of room to play around in. Great production values (love the picture of the Wolf Man being kicked in the nards). Plenty of options without getting overly complicated. I always like a magic system that has a little risk to it.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: Imagination may be a tad overpowered, as may the Dreamer archetype in general. Despite often being promoted as being a suitable RPG for kids, the default Grimm Lands may be too dark for that. Grimm was originally a setting for the d20 system, and you can still see a few d20isms floating around in it.

CONCLUSION: I was a big fan of Fantasy Flight Games when they were producing stuff like this, Dawnforge and Midnight. The Grimm RPG line only ever had the one book released for it, but it is really complete with enough material in the book to run a full campaign and enough examples for you to expand the game if you need to (such as with Keepsakes and the like). The biggest flaw that the game has is that it doesn’t make a compelling case to not use Imagination as your Iconic Trait or pick The Dreamer over the other archetypes, from a min-max standpoint. Grimm seems like it could be amazing fun for groups willing to play kids…especially since the kids definitely have the ability to kick butt as they grow.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/12/tommys-take-on-grimm-rpg.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grimm: Core Rulebook
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Mermaid Adventures RPG
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/03/2012 23:00:03

WHAT WORKS: The system looks like it would do a find job of handling any type of conflict, not just slugfests, and the charts for stats dropping to 0 are inspired. The amount of Merfolk is similarly impressive, and it would be easy to increase the available Qualities based off of the examples given. The bestiary is also pretty big, and the five adventures cover a broad range of stuff, giving you some good ideas as to the range of the game.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: Despite not being marketed towards girls specifically, Mermaid Adventures has registered exactly zero interest from MY kid, in no small part because of the “Mermaids”.

CONCLUSION: Obviously, I’m a huge fan of Third Eye Games, but I was fairly underwhelmed when I heard the announcement for this game. After reading it, I may put the overall quality of the book ahead of Part-Time Gods and behind API and Wu Xing. The system is simple but has some nice wiggle room, and I’m glad to see it’s living on in another kid-friendly RPG, Camp Myth (which, thematically, may be more up my kid’s speed). Don’t judge the book by its surface…it has some impressive depths to it.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/12/tommys-take-on-mermaid-adventures.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mermaid Adventures RPG
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War X-Men
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2012 12:04:28

WHAT WORKS: Some great Milestones and Unlockables that are usable in just about any X-Men campaign is great, as are some X-Men getting the Datafile treatment for the first time. In fact, from a pure character selection standpoint, this is probably the most pleased I’ve been with the datafile collection.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: A lot of the problems with this book have more to do with the really bad place the X-Men books were in during Civil War than it does with the book itself. The gameable content feels lighter here than it does in any of the other books, but again: That was the X-Men during Civil War.

CONCLUSION: The weakest of the Civil War books, unless you just NEED the mutant datafiles (and the inclusion of X-Factor alone makes a strong argument for that), hampered by being tied to Civil War, which was a dark time creatively for the X-Men books. That said, the Unlockables and Milestones are pretty much all-purpose, and the section about playing Sentinel ONE pilots plays to one of Marvel Heroic’s greatest strengths in the Event set-up, which is flipping the perspective of the events on their ear by putting the players in different driver seats. That said, a set of Milestones and Unlockables for the ONE pilots would have taken that promise one step further and made the book that much better. I can’t call it a “must-buy” unless you’re a big X-Men fan running Marvel Heroic, because with Annihilation and Age of Apocalypse coming up, this is as close to an all-purpose X-Men book as you’re probably going to see for a while. Still, might be worth it for the oddity of seeing an X-Men product that basically ignores Storm and Wolverine (due to their activities during Civil War).

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/11/tommys-take-on-civil-war-x-men.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War X-Men
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Deadlands Reloaded: Blood Drive 1-Bad Times on the Goodnight
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2012 21:50:15

WHAT WORKS: The "slice of Weird West life" stuff is very much welcome, with a "common" cattle drive also being peppered with a number of distinctly Deadlands encounters. The Act Two stopover is very nice touch that helps drive home the oddity of the setting. This adventure certainly lives up to the promise of being self contained.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: If you're running this is a full series, there's an NPC or two with plot armor, and some suspicious players are going to get hung up on that Act 2 stopover I mentioned. $10 for 37 pages may feel like a tad much for some people.

CONCLUSION: I love the "mundane" stuff being in here. Such a great change of pace for Deadlands adventures (which I'm usually a fan of, anyway). This also serves as a great adventure because not only does it combine elements of the "weird" west with the "old" west, but a number of the Savage Worlds and Deadlands Reloaded rules as well (dueling, random encounters, social combat and mass combat). Is it the most awe inspiring adventure? Nah. Are the hooks in this adventure compelling enough to make you NEED to see Blood Drive 2? Not really. But it's well worth picking up, especially for a relatively new group who may not be wildly familiar with the Deadlands setting.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/11/tommys-take-on-deadlands-blood-drive-1.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: Blood Drive 1-Bad Times on the Goodnight
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COA02: Ghoul Keep and the Ghoul Lands
Publisher: Small Niche Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2012 16:53:57

WHAT WORKS: As is usual for Small Niche Games, they provide a lot of gameable material for a good price. Makaar Mor could easily be a Ravenloft Dark Lord, and I mean that as a compliment. This isn’t a straight forward “let’s go kill the bad guy” supplement, though you can certainly do just that. Raltus the Undying is just absolutely creepy. The lands are detailed enough to get you going while providing plenty of room for you to add your own twists.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: As usual, my biggest complaint is that it isn’t written for a system I’m a bigger fan of, but a little conversion work later and that’s not an issue.

CONCLUSION: My favorite release yet from Small Niche Games. Making an undead kingdom gameable in more than just the “kill everything that moves” sense isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but they pulled that off here. Makaar Mor is an interesting villain who is operating from a position of power while having very noticeable vulnerabilities that prevent him from being unstoppable. You could easily get a full campaign out of this book, either using native-born PCs or travelers from outside The Ghoul Lands.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/10/tommys-take-on-ghoul-keep-and-ghoul.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
COA02: Ghoul Keep and the Ghoul Lands
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Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorer's Edition
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2012 01:04:25

WHAT WORKS: The minis combat works much smoother than I could ever have dreamed. I used to hate minis until SW, and now I’m a convert. I love the middle ground between character customization and Too Much Work. The optional rules and third party support have made Savage Worlds incredibly versatile over the years.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: I don’t like Power Points. Easily my least favorite part of the system. Some of the selected art in the book is pixilated, marring an otherwise gorgeous book. The Powers have come a long way, but there are times where I find them lacking, even with Trappings. I much prefer the Dramatic Interludes Pinnacle released with Zombie Run over the Interludes that made it into these rules.

CONCLUSION: Savage Worlds is my favorite RPG ever and the best RPG purchase I have ever made. I have used it to run a supers game, two Deadlands campaigns, Solomon Kane (with a single support PC who was seamlessly controlling a party of NPCs), a one shot horror game and a homebrew fantasy game, and I don’t think I have ever not had a blast. Early on in my Necessary Evil game, we had a combat with 29 figures on the map, and it ran as smoothly as any combat I have ever ran…pretty sure that was the point where I fell in love with the game.

Even as a Deadlands fan I prefer the new, Savage Worlds-powered Reloaded version, because combat is faster and smoother, NPCs are quicker and easier to make and the additional material that has been released since Reloaded came out has restored a lot of the missing "flavor" that people complained about with the new version.

I’ve bought the corebook twice (both the “regular” Explorer’s Edition and the Deluxe) and own a ton of books in print and PDF. It’s not a perfect system and it’s not the best system for EVERYTHING, but it does a LOT of things really well (more than it gets credit for, in my opinion). And, in my view, the Deluxe Edition is just a fantastic version of the rules, as I always love more options. There is a reason I am a Savage Worlds fanboy: It’s because I enjoy it more than any other RPG I have ever played.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/10/tommys-take-on-savage-worlds-deluxe.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorer's Edition
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Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/09/2012 00:04:18

The book suffers from some bizarre organizational issues, not unlike someone who was working on little sleep suddenly remembering to discuss something a few pages after he had mentioned it. However, this is easily forgiven as the book includes oodles of page references, a functional table of contents and a very useful index. The art is, apparently, largely clipart and photoshopped, and very evocative of the setting, though its still a larger strain on my printer than I really wanted in the Printer Friendly version. Fred took great pains at various points to explain why things were important, how they impacted the game mechanically, and how they influenced other factors. This was some of the clearest RPG writing I have personally read in a while, and if this is the quality found in Spirit of the Century, then I’m sold.

On the downside, all the extra dice, two bowls, and a bunch of pocket change is kind of an inconvenience, but the gameplay seems like it could be well worth it. This is one of the best, if not THE best “taint” systems I have ever seen…tempting PCs to dip a little into the dark side, as it were, and then fighting like Hell to get out. I could see using this system to run a scenario not unlike the Suffering video game, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if more taint systems played out this way. That said, the system is designed to do one thing very well…if you’re not buying into the concept, there’s not much for you here. However, Fred Hicks and Evil Hat have, at no point, tried to claim otherwise, but I felt it worth mentioning.

If you like horror RPGs, unique systems and indy RPGs, its definitely worth picking up. It has a great hook and a unique system that feeds the flavor of the setting, making the sense of desperation a very real thing as you fight and explore the Mad City. Highly recommended.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/10/tommys-take-on-dont-rest-your-head.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War Young Avengers / Runaways
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2012 23:40:50

WHAT WORKS: They dumped in a number of datafiles I’d love to play in a game (Rick Jones, Living Mummy and Ultra Girl for three), and I like the excuse to add in a few more odds and ends villains to provide more options. Also, it’s nice to have the non-Penance Speedball as an option.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: The awful New Warriors art. This book in general just feels way less “essential” (or way more “optional”) than the 50States Initiative, but that may be a pro, depending on how you look at it.

CONCLUSION: If you’re not sold on Marvel Heroic, this isn’t going to be the book that changes your mind. The datafiles really sell this book, as the extra material like the Milestones and Unlockables just don’t stand out as well with in this one as they did in Civil War and 50 States Initiative, so if you hate teen superheroes, you may not be thrilled with this. On the other hand, that selection of datafiles really is pretty cool, as a few more of my genuine favorites slipped in here.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/10/tommys-take-on-civil-war-young.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War Young Avengers / Runaways
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Hollowpoint
Publisher: VSCA Publishing
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/29/2012 03:23:46

WHAT WORKS: Anything drawing this much inspiration from 100 Bullets is a good thing. Lots and lots of examples help, especially if you’re not a big fan of some of the terminology used in the game. The potential for tense interplay between characters is great, especially for a pick-up game. Several great examples to diversify the game, showing off that it’s more than just “hitmen in suits”.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: Some of the rules bits are confusing until you get into the examples. I could do without game mechanics dropping the F-Bomb, personally. Not a big fan of the core mechanic, though it seems more intuitive than the similar mechanic the One Roll Engine uses.

CONCLUSION: Hollowpoint was nominated for three Ennies and has some enthusiastic support. The mechanics have some interesting depth to them, such as adding objectives to a scene that must be completed before the opposition is taken out, and how rolling too many dice can backfire and cause you to blow your opportunities early. When you factor in how adaptable it is to other settings (VCSA Publishing’s site includes a link to Hollowpoint being used for a Skyrim game), this is an impressive package to draw on, perhaps as an interlude between your group’s campaigns.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/09/tommys-take-on-hollowpoint.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hollowpoint
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School Daze
Publisher: Exploding Rogue
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/23/2012 12:03:21

WHAT WORKS: Pretty book, simple system that’s not trying to do too much, or overcomplicate a simple process. And I absolutely love random charts, so that helps.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: The list of Ranks seems too small, especially if you have a group of five or six players, all taking three Ranks. I’m not sure I’d wanna run a Buffy or Space School setting with this completely unmodified. The last gripe is technical, as the download is nearly 80mb for a 66 page book and my computer actually struggles a bit with it compared to other PDFs, especially of the same size.

CONCLUSION: Very professional presentation for a game that could easily make for a fun diversion, either short campaigns or one-offs. I’d be more inclined to go “Saved By The Bell” with it over “Buffy” or “Brick”, albeit I’d be tempted to venture more into Saturday Morning Cartoon territory than Saved By The Bell did. In essence, I’m not completely sold on it being quite as versatile as the author says (though there are a lot of folks credited as playtesters, so I may be dead wrong), but I do also think that it’s a lot more versatile than I initially thought. Pick it up if you want something simple and Completely Different from what you’ve probably been running.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/09/tommys-take-on-school-daze.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
School Daze
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Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul
Publisher: Spectrum Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/09/2012 03:09:05

WHAT WORKS: Tons of examples. Simple system, with the Setback Tokens being among my favorite “non-Hit Point” damage systems I’ve seen (with the word Stress just stressing me out). CC&VF seems to have taken a lot of ideas from other games but implemented them well. Oh, and I loved the random twists. The system is very flexible without being completely hand-wavey.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK: Very few of the example characters terribly inspired me. Many of the optional rules (like the templates or building heroes in advance and working up to them) don’t do a thing for me…but they are optional. There are big chunks of the system that are open to player-GM negotiation, which can go bad in the wrong hands.

CONCLUSION: While many of the support pieces did little to inspire me, the core seems very flexible and very sound. With large parts of the system open to such interpretation, certain types of players can make for nightmarish sessions, just like certain kinds of GMs can, but that’s true of any system (and especially Supers systems, which require a certain amount of buy-in from all parties above and beyond most genres). Unlike some other recent entrants into the supers RPG realm, I feel confident that I have a good/decent grasp of the mechanics right away, but I suppose I would have actually preferred the “serial numbers filed off” approach to the sample characters, rather than the characters used, because generic versions of Thor, Flash, Batman, Silver Surfer, Captain America, Wolverine and Superman are more useful for me in pinning down the important bits of the system. Does CC&VF hit some magic area that no other supers game ever has? Not for me, not really. “Hawkeye fighting alongside Thor” has been built into more and more games over the years, with BASH and ICONS even handling it in largely the same way. Does that make CC&VF a bad game? Heck no. I intend to play around with the character creation to see how well it models certain characters of mine, but I’d be inclined to put it near the top of my Supers options right now, if not at the very top.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/09/tommys-take-on-capes-cowls-villains-foul.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul
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