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Leverage: Hitters, Hackers, & Thieves
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/11/2012 21:43:25
WHAT WORKS: The Hitter section may be my favorite section written for the Leverage RPG, possibly my favorite section ever appearing in an MWP book and just a great read. Your mileage may vary, but I loved it. I also love the addition of the ready made compounds and the security system mechanics, a very useful set of additions to the game mechanics.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I wasn't feeling the whole "psychology of a thief" thing, which is weird, because Parker's not my least favorite Leverage Crew member (that would be Sophie...and I still like her). In fact, from a Role standpoint Hacker and Thief would probably be most least favorite of the five.

CONCLUSION: I was reaching for complaints. I applaud the work the MWP crew has done with Leverage, starting with a strong core book and then two supplemental books that are not essential but dramatically expand the five roles in the game. As with Grifters & Masterminds, if you like the Leverage RPG, there is no real reason not to buy the supplemental books, at least in PDF. A great RPG treatment for one of my favorite shows.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/03/tommys-take-o-
n-leverage-hitters-hackers.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage: Hitters, Hackers, & Thieves
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Leverage: Grifters & Masterminds
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/07/2012 23:21:27
WHAT WORKS: The sheer amount of detail on the mindset and process of the Mastermind (especially) and the Grifter is very helpful. The "Dozen Grifters" and "Dozen Masterminds" is also useful for giving some ideas on how to make characters of those roles who aren't just Sophie or Nate renamed. The alternate settings sections was also fun, and basically any ideas on how to NOT just be playing the Leverage crew renamed is always welcome.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A lot of the GM advice is nothing special that you haven't seen before. I'm also not quite convinced that the Masterminding the Rules section successfully provides that mechanical bridge for Masterminds that some folks feel was missing compared to Hackers, Hitters, Grifters and Thieves.

CONCLUSION: An unessential but incredibly useful book for Leverage. It doesn't dramatically change anything from the core rules, but it does provide some very useful tidbits on Grifters and Masterminds, both as PCs and NPCs. Basically, if you really like the Leverage game and either want some more options or are struggling with the Roles at all, it's well worth it. And don't complain about the extra books: There was a time when each role (including Fixer) would have been padded out into its own book.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/03/tommys-take-o-
n-leverage-grifters.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage: Grifters & Masterminds
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Due Vigilance- The Oktobermen (ICONS)
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/07/2012 01:14:49
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Oktobermen is "issue 1" in the Due Vigilance line, fitting in the same universe as the Smoke & Mirrors supplement I reviewed back in January. This is the ICONS version of said product, $5.99 for a 19 page PDF filled with a team of supernatural killers and assassins. Oktobermen is more than just a villain book. I mean, it IS a villain book, but it includes a relationship map for the six members of the Oktobermen, complete with a paragraph on each of the six explaining their viewpoints. The book also includes four common sets of tactics employed by the Oktobermen. The bulk of the book is taken up by the character bios and stats for the six members:

Bookbinder - An escapee from a mysterious organization called The Library, Bookbinder is the most reluctant of the Oktobermen, having joined up when Springheel Jack saved her from The Library. The can use magic in some powerful and freaky ways, like trapping people in stories or summoning literary characters to do her bidding.

The Floating Skull - He is not unlike a D&D Demilich, the floating skull of a powerful sorcerer. He can never use the same spell on a given target more than once. Luckily, he knows 666 of them.

Hexenwulf - Hexenwulf is a werewolf, but not of the common type. No, he's a werewolf of the "wearing wolf skins" type. Heavily resistant to magic, so he's usually the lead man in taking out sorcerers.

L'Enfant Terrible - The prototypical Creepy Kid, born with a soul of evil. Often used to take people by surprised...has a "bodyguard" named Mr. Bear who has a VERY disturbing secret.

Sister Sanguine - A creepy (ex)nun who answers to evil fae and gains powers from drinking blood.

Springheel Jack - A half-demon in charge of The Oktobermen, Springheel Jack is on a quest to consume take a number of souls and become a Lord of Hell. There is even a sidebar explaining how to alter his stats if he succeeds.

Also included are four plot seeds (including two related NPCs) and a set of standees fot the Oktobermen.

WHAT WORKS: Some GREAT character concepts here, as well as some nice tidbits hinting at the larger world (like The Library). I also love the amount of detail as to how the villains operate and treat each other, making this more than just a set of stats.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: My only real complaint is the dramatic art shift from the cover to the interior. I don't think either one is inherently better than the other, though the cover seems to fit the source material better, while the latter fits the ICONS feel better.

CONCLUSION: Another fantastic product by Vigilance Press, providing a slew of baddies that are just downright frightening (in power level as well as concept). At one point, this product wasn't going to be released for ICONS, but I'm glad it ultimately was.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Due Vigilance- The Oktobermen (ICONS)
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Interface Zero Game Masters Screen
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/06/2012 23:56:25
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: GM Screen's as we know them are fading fast. There was a Savage Worlds GM screen a while back that was clear plastic panels that you could slip cardboard panels for the game you were running in. The Interface Zero GM screen is along those lines...a "do it yourself" GM screen. The three art panels consist of some gorgeously thematic art, running a decent range of IZ material, including an android, cyborgs and mercenaries...(and a cyberpunk street samurai looking figure). The three rules panels include the Gritty damage rules, Zeek fatigue and the Hacking 2.0 rules.

WHAT WORKS: Great art, all the relevant IZ setting rules...about what you would want from a GM screen.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: It feels a TAD cluttered...but there's just a metric crap ton of tables on this thing (all relevant to your needs).

CONCLUSION: Unless you hate GM screens, this is a very good pick-up for $3 if you have access to a good printer. Much better deal than the $20 GM screen standard we've seen in the past, especially if you have one of the clear Savage Worlds screens to slide the panels into.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Interface Zero Game Masters Screen
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Interface Zero Hacking 2.0
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/06/2012 23:39:55
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This mini PDF requires Savage Worlds and Interface Zero for maximum use, as it is an overhaul of the hacking rules from Interface Zero. The PDF has a short intro from Gun Metal Games' David Jarvis, explaining why this document was released (folks having issues with the hacking/virtual world/etc)...IZ 2.0 is coming later this year and will provide both Basic and Advanced Hacking rules. This document is presenting the Basic rules in advance of IZ 2.0's release. Some of the changes on the character creation end is that Hacking gets its own skill, some Edges have been removed (like Programming 101 and Advanced Programming) and new Edges are introduced (Cool Under Pressure lets you ignore penalties when a system goes on Active Alert and Interference makes you harder to hack, for example). There are also three Hacker specific Hindrances, with advice warning the GM to not allow them if a character who isn't REALLY a Hacker is trying to take a Hindrance that won't affect him. Hyper Gloves are also introduced (the first example that comes to mind to me is the FBI Agent from Heavy Rain, but you have seen them in various other media). The system for Hyper Gloves is pretty simple, a basic stat set that can be upgraded. The Gloves determine everything for the Hacker: Armor, Damage, Hacking Bonus and Range and can be set into three modes: Control (in case you need to manipulate a gun turret or an elevator), Edit (for heavy changes to things) and Destruction (when you need to inflict damage). Additionally, Hyper Gloves have additional MODS that can be used to provide extra bonuses. The hacking itself takes up the final few pages: Essentially, it's a normal skill roll in Savage Worlds, with the level of security providing a penalty to the roll and the Hyper Glove and/or Edges providing a bonus. Unlike most skill rolls, however, Hacking is NEVER without risk: Any Hacking roll failure will have consequences (determined on a die roll against the table appropriate to the type of security firewall).

WHAT WORKS: That cover art is awesome. I'm not sure what it has to do with Hacking, but that is probably the single most compelling piece of artwork I have seen on an Interface Zero product. I like the Hyper Gloves a lot. It's a clean, easy to modify system that fits the Savage Worlds vein.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, if you're planning on buying IZ 2.0, you might not want to pay for content that's going to be in the eventual release.

CONClUSION: Though designed for Interface Zero, there's not much here that you can't use without it, and it's both inexpensively priced and not a huge document, so if you are running any kind of game in which futuristic hacking would be helpful, it's worth a pick-up. Interface Zero got kicked around (a tad unfairly) for changing "too much" about Savage Worlds, but this is a step back to the feel of SW without sacrificing the unique flavor of IZ.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Interface Zero Hacking 2.0
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2012 01:22:00
WHAT WORKS: Top notch production values. Lots and lots of detailed examples. A supers system in which neither magic nor powered armor seem to be giant headaches or hopelessly busted. Lots of promise for support is out there, (really looking forward to the Cosmic Stuff for sure). Fantastic price point. Probably the most logical advancement system I have seen in a supers system (with the second best being "Well, comic book characters don't advance like normal anyway, so just handwave it)". Also, I totally dig the Solo-Buddy-Team set-up.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I've never been comfortable with "Stress" systems. A bit more abstract than I prefer. I'm also not sold on the "Event" set-up, especially with the default assumption that characters will be dropped from Event to Event.

CONCLUSION: Well, just by reading it I like it better than I do the "Stones" system. It certainly seems like it could be a blast, but until I see it in play, I couldn't put it ahead of Marvel SAGA which has stood the test of time for me. We have always been a fan of playing our own characters in the Marvel Universe, even though there has never been a Marvel game with a GOOD character creation system. This game doesn't change that, but it does bypass horribly busted attempts and just says "Hey, make what you want, here's how". Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is probably the most mechanically interesting Marvel system (behind SAGA) to me. Hats off to the crew at Margaret Weis Productions. Not only have the released a gorgeous product, they did it at a very nice price point. A very impressive effort using a system that has had its foundation tested twice before. And if you were nervous about the final product, don't worry...this isn't a "You punched Spider-Man in his Mary Jane" game. Very much excited to see how things develop from here.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/02/tommys-take-o-
n-marvel-heroic.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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Mistborn Adventure Game Digital Edition
Publisher: Crafty Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/22/2012 21:54:06
WHAT WORKS: I feel pretty confident that someone could go into this not knowing a thing about the Mistborn series and come out of it with a pretty strong impression of the setting. A lot of care went into explaining things to the non-gamers who may pick this up, I thought, and I certainly liked the extra time put into cross referencing rules sections in the GMing chapter. The entirety of Book 2 is freaking cool, with the metals and their uses in the powers sets. For a book that's closer to 600 pages than 500 pages, not only is it very reasonably priced, but there is NOT a lot of wasted space at ALL. I also rather enjoyed the intertwining of Secrets, Destinies and Tragedies, complete with mechanical benefits.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I fear that the system has a bit of a "whiff" factor, although I may be underestimating the number of "matches" one can get with a d6 dice pool. I also question how newbie friendly this RPG would be, given that it's so close to 600 pages. The emphasis on "scripting" and "storytelling" is bound to turn off a segment of the RPG population that prefer a more "traditional" approach to gaming. That said, there is also a free primer you can download to check it out first.

CONCLUSION: Mistborn certainly isn't Just Another D&D. A great price on a massive volume grounded in a game system that has a lot of cool features to it. I'm probably going to look the Mistborn novels up on the Nook, and pick them up if they're available, because this game has convinced me this is a setting that interests me. If you're a fan of the novels and nervous about it being too much for you, don't worry...the authors offer you several hands along the way (including some insightful sidebars). Just a fair warning: If you haven't read the books and think you might want to, there are spoilers all over the place (though they do a pretty good job of warning you first). Great product, especially for the price.

For the full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/02/tommys-take-o-
n-mistborn-adventure-game.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mistborn Adventure Game Digital Edition
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Olympian Breed - Setting Primer & Character Creation Guide
Publisher: Palewolf Publishing
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/18/2012 01:24:00
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The first release by new Savage Worlds licensee Palewolf Publishing is a the basic character generation primer for their new line of Greek Myth-themed adventures. The PCs are Demigods - spawn of mortals and Gods - and so have an extra edge on the rest of the world. Olympian Breed uses the Super Powers Companion (with a modified Edge that lowers the amount of points available to spend, reducing the power level hat your standard Super Powers Companion game is going to have). The primer also includes a Hindrance for those watched closely by the Gods, as well as a map of ancient Greece, some setting-appropriate equipment and a character sheet.

WHAT WORKS: The big hook for me is the use of the Super Powers Companion combined with the Greek myth hook...two things I love very much. That, and it's free.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, there's just not a ton of material here, mostly a few pieces of equipment, as well as the new Edge and Hindrance. It's also at least a three product buy-in to really get rolling, as you need the Savage Worlds rules, the Supers Companion and the first adventure. The primer also says you would need the Fantasy Companion, but other information I have received indicates that's not necessarily the case.

CONCLUSION: They've hooked me into checking out at least Act One to see what it's like, with the "Greek Myth plus Super Powers Companion" hook. I'm a sucker for new fiddly bits, so I would have certainly enjoyed more Edges and Hindrances and so on, especially since there is no setting book available, just a series of adventures. You can also check out the Olympian Breed pre-gen freebie file to get a feel for the kinds of characters that "fit" the setting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Olympian Breed - Setting Primer & Character Creation Guide
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Altus Adventum Primer
Publisher: Sacrosanct Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/18/2012 01:19:57
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: I feel very bad about this one, because I was asked to review this quite a while back, apparently misplaced the file, and have let WAY too much time go by without touching it. Altus Adventum is isn't a retroclone, but it is an attempt at recapturing earlier experiences with fantasy RPGs. The primer is a very meaty 92 page document that covers character generation, combat, skills and even a selection of monsters. Literally everything you need for at least an adventure or two is right here, completely free. The races are fantasy standards (human, elf, dwarf, halfling, gnome) with six attributes (Strength, Agility, Endurance, Intllect, Willpower and Luck) that run a range of 1-100. Combat uses dice pools in which each side compares the highest die in their pools for success. Magic is also included in this primer, with nine different forms to choose from, all operating off of the same basic mechanic, but with tweaks for the type you use. The monsters included cover basic animals as well as orcs, red caps, carnivorous plants and plenty more.

WHAT WORKS: For a free product, this primer has a ton of usable material in it. I mean, we're talking more than some smaller commercial PDF releases. I'm not sure what's missing from the main core book, but it is 204 pages, so presumably there is quite a bit extra there above and beyond the impressive amount of material here.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: If you've gotten used to RPGs that tend towards using unified mechanics, Altus Adventum's different approach to combat versus skill checks is going to annoy you.

CONCLUSION: Look, I can't complain much about an incredibly complete free product. The primer covers all the rules you need to play, including skills, combat and magic, and even includes a decent amount of setting material, monsters and magical items. If you have any interest in checking out an another fantasy RPG, you have no reason not to at least download the primer...there is ample material here to decide if the full game is worth your purchase or not.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Altus Adventum Primer
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Ingenium
Publisher: Silver Gryphon Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 00:31:30
WHAT WORKS: I'm a sucker for a magic system with some flavor, and this one has some good flavor. The character generation is FAST, and there are a ton of option for customizing your characters by mixing and matching the Three Words, as well as the vast array of Talents (with an additional 30 Talents available in a free sourcebook).

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The bestiary just isn't very inspiring, due in part to the avoidance of common fantasy monsters combined with the lack of art. If you're going to go off the beaten path, that's fine, but pictures always help. There are only hints of a setting in the book, and the two factors mean it falls a bit shy of the promise from the great cover piece.

CONCLUSION: The lack of "spark" in the bestiary and lack of a setting aren't a deal breaker, especially given how easy it would seem to be to customize the rules, adding new Talents and Professions, maybe even races and certainly monsters. The system shows a TON of promise...hopefully it'll get the kind of support needed take it up that notch to truly capture the "epic" feel the cover evokes. Well worth checking out the PDF at a minimum.

http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/02/tommys-ta-
ke-on-ingenium.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ingenium
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Kiss My Axe
Publisher: Sword's Edge Publishing
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/02/2012 00:33:52
WHAT WORKS: Kiss My Axe, while largely using the same system as Sword Noir, does a nice job of differentiating itself, especially in feel with predefined Qualities like Ethos and Seafaring. The alternate magic system is also a nice touch, as is getting a small selection of beasties to use with the game system.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The lack of a character sheet is disappointing, and I did catch the odd editing error (the sample character from the character creation chapter is missing his Physique rank, for instance.

CONCLUSION: A very cool follow-up to Sword Noir, though I'm not sure it quite reached the lofty heights of its sister game. By necessity, it is more limited than Sword Noir (though a wide range of vikings are presented...you are not shoe-horned into a burly brawler by any stretch). Even though the two games do depart in certain ways mechanically, KMA is inexpensive enough to mine for material for Sword Noir, taking the magic system as an alternative, for instance, or seeing monster write-ups in play. All in all, a fine product...I just personally prefer Sword Noir to Kiss My Axe.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/02/tommys-take-o-
n-kiss-my-axe.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kiss My Axe
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San Francisco: The Ruins by the Bay
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/26/2012 01:24:27
WHAT WORKS: Once again, Gun Metal Games packs a lot of info into a small book, with some nice crunch (I like both Hybrid options, as well as the expanded City Trappings and the Salvaging rules). The art is lovely, probably my favorite art yet in the IZ line, and there's always something cool in their equipment sections. A couple of relevant sidebars are reprinted from earlier books, not taking up too much space and ensuring that this is usable with just the Savage Worlds rules and IZ setting book.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I like the layout, other than it seemed to be too bright and clean. I also would have preferred the Hybrid packages with the other character creation stuff. Just would have been handier. For some reason, San Francisco just didn't grip me, but I think it's more of a "I'm a middle of the country guy"...I'm kind of intrigued with what we might see when IZ covers a section closer to home for me.

CONCLUSION: A worthy product for the crunch alone, and some of the best art I've seen in the IZ line yet. I doubt I'd ever intentionally set a game in San Francisco, but I'm just not a California guy (I tend to avoid the same region in Deadlands as well). Even if you're like me, however, you'll find stuff that you can use elsewhere in your IZ games without having to try too hard. Also, pay attention to the sidebar conversations: They're not just filler. Not my favorite book in the Interface Zero line, but still a great product.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-o-
n-san-francisco-ruins-by.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
San Francisco: The Ruins by the Bay
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Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2012 11:42:47
WHAT WORKS: Utility is the watchword here. I didn't even scratch the surface of the plot seeds available in this book, and that's not getting into the twists, genre shifts and so on that you can apply to every plot seed in the book. The genre index breaks it down by sub-genre as well, so it's not just three big lists of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, but Grim and Gritty Fantasy, Gothic Horror, Supers, Western, etc. The hyper-linking throughout the PDF makes it incredibly user friendly above and beyond the searchability and book marking.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: While digital books are gaining more and more ground, Eureka does seem priced above the sweet spot that I have unscientifically found the average PDF purchaser to have...especially for an art-lite, black and white book. However, with the "free PDF" deal, the biggest strike against this book is practically a non-issue. Sure, you will find a few plots that don't do anything for you, but there are plenty, plenty more plots for you to play with.

CONCLUSION: And in this case, art-lite is a huge boon to the book as it is CRAMMED FULL of material, and it is completely system-free, so it's not just a great addition for one of your RPGs, but for EVERY RPG. Unless you just never, ever get stuck for ideas, then this is practically a must-buy for any GM.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-o-
n-eureka-501-adventure.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
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Average Joes
Publisher: Avalon Game Company
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/18/2012 23:53:20
WHAT WORKS: A great idea for Terror Network, putting normal schmoes up against the terrorists...and Bedrock Games should be commended again, for showing that terrorism comes in multiple forms. As usual, the adventure is well done, setting up a situation that will play out eepending on the PCs actions.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The layout isn't anything splashy (but then, the price is only $5) and playing an Average Joe alongside standard Terror Network characters isn't terribly balanced.

CONCLUSION: Another great expansion of the Terror Network series, hitting on normal folks having to stand up to terror themselves. A slew of campaign and scenario examples are there to help you out, as well as a fine full-fledged adventure. There are even a couple of option to tweak it to a more cineamtic style, for that Die Hard feel. Is it a complete blow-away, MUST HAVE product? No...but it is a swell, well-written spin on Terror Network without only minor gripes on my end.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-o-
n-average-joes.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Average Joes
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Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/12/2012 01:04:26
WHAT WORKS: A surprising amount of ground covered in the rules for such a simple system. The statting of creatures is simple enough that converting one's favorite monsters should be very easy. It would seem to be a very effective, rules-lite starter RPG, with a nice adventure that covers a lot of ground.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The Kai Lords are perhaps too limiting, being the only character option and being so "Lawful Good". The system may be entirely too simple, especially for experienced role-players. Kai Lords only having 10 ranks and starting at rank 5 doesn't bode well for long term play.

CONCLUSION: I believe Lone Wolf could make an effective starter RPG, as it does cover most of the basics and allows you to build from there. One of the cool parts about such a lite system is flexibility, which seems to ring true in this case as well. While I doubt I could get a lot of play out of the game, it seems to be a very solid game for breaking a new player in.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-o-
n-lone-wolf-multiplayer.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook
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