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Wu Xing: The Land of Seed and Blossom
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2012 00:38:07
WHAT WORKS: Crazy cool new powers, which is kind of the Wu Xing specialty, and a group of unique clans, who have a whole game mechanic that somewhat sets them apart from the Lotus ninjas (the Birthstones). The writing has great flow, as the Province descriptions move seamlessly from one clan to the next. The book is full of plot seeds that can be picked up on and developed. I nearly complained about how the new clans were kind of useless with the old clans, due to hostilities, but that was resolved nicely with the adventure.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I'm a sucker for a good bestiary, and Wu Xing doesn't have one. Oni are still vaguely defined, and one art piece has ninja fighting off carnivorous plants, which are kind of outside the purview of the setting thus far. Shouldn't be too hard to swipe monsters from Part-Time Gods or API, but what if folks don't HAVE those games?

CONCLUSION: I still love Wu Xing for all its crazy, over the top stuff like turning into bug swarms and transforming your bones into weapons. A very worthy collection of material for Wu Xing and a very promising start to the regional sourcebook series. In fact, I would say the adventure is the most *useful* adventure included in a Third Eye Games book because of how simply and effectively it ties the Lands of Seed and Blossom to the Lotus Coalition. Strong recommendation for Wu Xing fans.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-o-
n-wu-xing-land-of-seed-and.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wu Xing: The Land of Seed and Blossom
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Devilish Duos: Smoke and Mirrors ICONS Edition
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2012 23:21:21
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The first in a new set of ICONS products (Mutants & Masterminds version also available) by Vigilance Press, Smoke & Mirrors features a pair of supernatural villains for your ICONS game. Written by Jack Norris and featuring art by Jack Dawsey, and only 99 cents in PDF format, Smoke & Mirrors is only ten pages, (closer to six when you remove covers and OGL
information), but that's still more than enough to detail a pair of characters. Smoke and Mirrors are lesbian lovers and vicious murderers, and each have unique twists: Smoke is a ghost who can touch things in the real world, while Mirrors is perpetually invisible, and can only be seen in mirrors. Smoke is a spirit of vengeance who has a hard time keeping her rage focused entirely on those who deserve it, while Mirrors is a psychotic killer who murders on behalf of The Unseen Gods.

WHAT WORKS: Each villain has some unique twists, and have backstories open enough that they could be used in a variety of settings. A few general plot seeds are included, in case you just really have no idea how to use them. Also, the PDF includes printable stand-ups of Smoke and Mirrors, if that's your preference.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: One plot seed includes a sidebar for using the Oktobermen from Due Vigilance #1, a Mutants & Masterminds only supplement that, last time I checked, isn't planned for an ICONS release. Smoke's powers indicate that she can become "hard to see", but I'm not sure how that's reflected mechanically, unless it's meant to be part of the Blinding stunt off of her Mental Attack power.

COncLUSION: Strong art by James Dawsey combined with interesting writing by Jack Norris and an "impulse purchase" price point make this a winner, unless you only like to use ICONS for "animated series" type games, then these two are going to be a tad too dark for that sort of thing. Impressive product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Devilish Duos: Smoke and Mirrors ICONS Edition
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WatchGuard ICONS- Teen Force Five
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2012 23:19:21
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Teen Force 5 is a PDF release by Vigilance Press and Xion Studios for the WatchGuard universe, featuring five heroes (Teen Force 5) and five villains (Dark Faction). Each character is given an extensive bio (Marvel Handbook style, almost to a "T"), stat block, character portrait and printable standee. The PDF is 26 pages (including cover, OGL information, standees and so on), and costs $10.99, which admittedly, makes it stand out like a sore thumb among the rest of the Vigilance catalogue. Teen Force 5 is Bluechip (who reminds me a bit of Triatholon from Avengers, except his enhanced Traits are boosted and not always "on"),
Jupiter (the female "brick" of the team"), Soundwave (a DJ with sonic/auditory powers), Tempest (a moody weather controller) and Vignette (a Goth mind controller). Dark Faction consists of Braindamage (a Telekinetic with ADHD), Bulldog (the team's brick), HardKnox (son of a luchador, with Osmium Steel Knuckles bearing "Hard" and "Knox" on them), Vespa (scientist turned thief in
powered armor) and Zero (who can "halt molecular motion", making him REALLY hard to hit if he's aware of the attack).

WHAT WORKS: Zero is one of the better power concepts I've seen in a while. HardKnox having his name printed backwards on his Knuckles threw me at first, until I realized this way they would leave a "Hard Knox" impression on anything he hit. Standees are always great. The artist on Jupiter does a nice job of drawing her as an attractive woman with muscles, and not just a regular comic book female who happens to be super strong.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The only background information for the setting is buried in the backstories of the characters, leaving references to things like Summit City and the MHx-trait chromosome pretty meaningless for someone picking this book up (and it is the only Watchguard release for ICONS thus far). Bluechip's bio is (mostly) written in past tense, for no reason that is ever explained. Superhero mind controllers are always really awkward to pull off. The price point versus the content just does not hold up well to other Vigilance releases.

CONCLUSION: At a lower price point, I would have a higher opinion of this product. None of the characters really stand out as anything I haven't seen before, but they also aren't noticeable rip-offs or homages of existing characters, either. Not usable as a starting point for the WatchGuard universe, but certainly mineable for your own games (I'd especially swipe Zero...fun challenge right there).

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
WatchGuard ICONS- Teen Force Five
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Wargames: The Globalist (ICONS)
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2012 23:16:08
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Ah, the Wargames series. GI Joe meets superheroes. The Globalist is a Cobra Commander looking chap who is head of an organization called UNITY, which basically seeks to become a big enough of a terrorist threat that the rest of the world joins forces against it, breaking down the barriers between nations and forging a one world government. Kinda like
what Ozymandius wanted to do in Watchmen, except The Globalist is putting himself in the line of fire. The PDF is only $1 and includes The Globalist's backstory (with a fantastic twist), his stat block and stats for his Peacekeepers.

WHAT WORKS: The Globalist has a CRAZY secret in his backstory that is almost impossible to just guess, and makes him and his Peacekeepers MUCH more dangerous than you would think. He's also a villain of a radically different philosophy than General Venom, providing a "balanced outlook" to the crazies of the Wargames universe.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Oh, the backstory twist may be TOO much for some people. Not in an offensive way, just an oddball way. I, personally, think it's great. Yes, I'm reaching for "complaints" here.

CONCLUSION: I love the Wargames series by Vigilance Press, and this entry continues to impress me with a unique villain who pays homage (in appearance) to another classic Cobra Commander look (mirror face instead of hood), but with a unique backstory and approach all his own.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wargames: The Globalist (ICONS)
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Necessary Evil Explorer's Edition
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/26/2011 16:48:04
WHAT WORKS: As noted, I largely prefer the Super Powers system to the Power Point System. The campaign is one of my favorite pre-written campaigns, even if it is very "directed" (by Dr. Destruction, of course), because basically everything has to be done by the PCs. The campaign has a couple of nice twists, one being the origin of the V'Sori and the other being Dr. Destruction's true plan. I am truly disappointed we never reached that point, because my players were WAY off base.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: My only real gripe is that while I prefer the powers system in this book, it just never felt as flexible to me or my players as the Powers system in other supers games. If you have the Super Powers Companion, I did provide a solution to this on my blog. Some of the powers, namely Decay, come across WAY too weak to actually be worth buying, in our experience.

CONCLUSION: One of my favorite Savage Worlds releases, due in no small part because of the sheer amount of fun we had with the campaign. The PCs experienced rousing success, crushing defeat and even heartache, a range of experiences that I have been told are impossible with both Savage Worlds and supers RPGs...and yet, here we are. If you already own the Super Powers Companion, and you don't want to make your own campaign, I am very fond of the provided campaign. If villains vs aliens doesn't sound very good, then you might just consider getting the Super Powers Companion instead.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/12/tommys-take-o-
n-necessary-evil-explorers.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Necessary Evil Explorer's Edition
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LFNE Book 2: Among the Missing
Publisher: FunSizedGames
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2011 00:18:40
WHAT WORKS: The art in the books is eerily effective, with one piece (page 91 of the PDF) genuinely creeping me out as I was scrolling through the PDF. Seriously...not cool. The book has lots of information designed to inspire, and the writing conveys the research in such a manner as to not be tedious or boring. I do also love adventures that put actual choice in PC hands, and this one does a nice job of that, especially at the end.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, if you want a lot of crunch, it's not here. There are some slight tweaks to the character generation that you can use, but this isn't a "splat book". Similarly, the subject matter may begin to push Little Fears a bit more into "Squick" territory than a lot of you may like, addressing the idea of humans being as detrimental to kids as Monsters.

CONCLUSION: 128 pages flew by, thanks to the concise writing and conversational tone. The author has a knack for speaking to you when writing without it ever feeling tacky or annoying (which can be a hard feat to master). Little Fears will work perfectly fine without this book, but it does do a nice job of adding more pieces to the puzzle...pieces that are wholly optional and rarely completely spelled out for you, instead providing a long road for your group to walk down on and leaving it up to you all to determine what's at the end.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/12/tommys-take-o-
n-lfne-book-2-among.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
LFNE Book 2: Among the Missing
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Little Fears Nightmare Edition
Publisher: FunSizedGames
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/21/2011 01:15:34
WHAT WORKS: The mechanics of this edition are MUCH tighter than the original in just about every way. Belief is a nice mechanic, with it's risk-reward system. A robust monster-creation guide is fantastic, especially when you don't have a full bestiary out there, and most of the flavor text is creepy without being overly drawn out. Oh, and the advice on using the Questionnaire against your PCs.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, I could always use random charts. I also thought the Closetland baddies in the original had a ton of personality, and most of them were ditched for this version.

CONCLUSION: One of the most justified second editions I have ever seen. Tighter focus than the original, tighter writing, tighter mechanics, you name it. Lots and lots of examples, plus a steady supply of support? I'm not sure how you beat that. If you like the idea of kids versus monsters, this is one of the best options out there, hands down. If you liked the original, and I did, I don't know why you wouldn't jump at this one. If you scoffed at the original because of its "True Horror" content...rest assured, The Defiler is nowhere to be found, so you can feel free to give Nightmare Edition a go.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/12/tommys-take-o-
n-little-fears-nightmare.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Little Fears Nightmare Edition
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Smallville: The Watchtower Report
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2011 23:01:17
WHAT WORKS: A lot of great advice on how to get the most out of the Smallville version of the Cortex Plus System, and a whole slew of NPC stats. The production values, as usual, are fantastic, and the book does a lot to really open up the system for people who like the base, but not the setting. The rules and guidelines for allowing players to play both villains and heroes is something that is often overlooked, but can be rewarding in the right group.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Minor complaint, but I could have used more pictures of some of the lesser known characters. I'm not a huge fan of the show, so some of these folks are lost on me.

CONCLUSION: As far as I know, this is the conclusion of the Smallville game line, which has proved to be a very effective three back adaptation of the source material, while also opening the game up to more than just the TV show. Of the two supplements, I prefer the Smallville High School Yearbook, just because it has some very useful advice that is applicable to more than just the Smallville game, while this one has some system-agnostic advice, most of it is about the setting or the rules. Great purchase for anyone running - or planning to run - Smallville. Now if the new Leverage supplements would ever come out...

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/12/tommys-take-o-
n-smallville-watchtower.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Smallville: The Watchtower Report
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Infinity Dungeon: Peril Without End
Publisher: Level 99 Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2011 23:50:27
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This 68 page PDF include the Infinity Dungeon game, as well as the Legendary Guys RPG. The Infinity Dungeon game is really as much of a geeky party game as it is an RPG. You select one of the premade character archetypes, then venture through an insane dungeon, and both the archetype and the dungeon is randomly determined. Basically, you have the party's archetypes' powers, equipment, drawbacks and random items that you use to formulate a plan to solve each "room". The players all vote on whether the plan is good or bad, and that determines the target number you need to roll on a d20. If you fail, then you are horribly killed in the attempt and the next player has to figure it out.

Character types include Dwarves, Matadors, Railroad Conductors, Opera Singers, Superheroes and Imposter Dark Wizards. The dungeon consists of rooms such as the Spider Chasm, the Glass Bridge, the Quiet Room, the Explosive Hedgehog and the Meat Grinder.

The Legendary Guys is really just a very basic fighting game, with player defined attibutes (like Over the Edge or FATE), and dice depending on the points spent. The last man standing gets the win (each attack, attributes are rolled against each other, with the higher rolling pC inflicting damage to the lower rolling PC).

WHAT WORKS: It seems like it would be some good, "beer and pretzels" style fun in a goofy, over the top way. A Vampire, a Tycoon, a Reporter, a Ninja and You stomping through a dungeon? And if a character is horribly killed, you just roll up a new one for the next room? Definitely not to be taken seriously, but a group could get some laughs out of this. However...

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The difficulty number is based on the number of party members who approve of a plan. However, there is no penalty for going along with, or going against, a plan...other than making it harder for the active character to pass the room. Basically, there is no reason for the group to ever not back every plan...a pretty huge oversight.

CONCLUSION: Infinity Dungeon seems to have so much promise, but it's either a) lacking a crucial element (reason for players to not back plans) or b) it has a huge error in the writing because I read it a couple of times and if it was there, it was far from clear. One little addition to tweak this and I would give it a strong recommendation for those who want a change of pace in their gaming some weekend, and the Legendary Guys minigame is a nice, goofy, narrative fighting game, although it also has a flaw: The rules state each attribute can only be used once, but there is no provision for a PC running out of attributes. I assume they would flee, but it isn't made clear. Lastly, Infinity Dungeon is also available on the iTunes app store, though I have not tried out the App version yet.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Infinity Dungeon: Peril Without End
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Wicked Quills (Clan for Wu Xing)
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/05/2011 23:59:26
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Wicked Quills is a new microsupplement for Wu Xing, tying in nicely with Land of Seed and Blossom which released last month, introducing a new clan called, well, The Wicked Quills. They are a clan of ninja that are constantly besieged and don't get along well with others...oh, and they have crazy wushu involving their hair. In fact, this supplement introduces the Way of the Piercing Jacket, which allows them to use their hair to great effect as a weapon...and I don't just mean the hair on their heads. The effects include hair jackets, stiffening their hair into quills - and firing them, and hair strangleholds.

WHAT WORKS: Well, a new Wushu and a new clan are always nice. The hair powers are very interesting, if a bit niche. There's only one piece of art here, and it's gorgeous.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, they're hair ninjas. That's a pretty big oddity, but that's also a good reason why they weren't in Land of Seed and Blossom, and are instead floating around for hardcore completists to buy or ignore. I did catch a typo or two in the text, but nothing major.

CONCLUSION: Thoroughly unessential for someone who likes Wu Xing but doesn't get to run it very often, but a very cool, quirky and unique option for the hardcore Wu Xing group, or even for a GM who just wants to toss his PCs a curveball.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wicked Quills (Clan for Wu Xing)
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Random Acts of... Old West Violence
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/05/2011 23:47:46
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: A system-free chart for western RPGs by 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, this essentially amounts to 100 "if you're stumped"/random encounter charts, just roll 1d100 and go. It's 6 pages (really 4, once you get past the cover and credits) and has no names or stats attached to the encounter seeds, so you could use it for Aces and Eights, Deadlands, whatever.

WHAT WORKS: IT'S A RANDOM ENCOUNTER TABLE. If you read my reviews, you know I LOVE this crap. Roll the dice before the game and BOOM (a few encounters work better with a little set-up). For instance, #22 has a pack of coyotes wandering into camp while the PCs are sleeping. #43 has the sheriff shot after a violent criminal has been brought down. #64 involves a tornado whipping through town. Like I said...I love this stuff. And, it's system free, so it's a simple matter to use it with whatever system you like.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A few of the seeds make too many assumptions, or place the PCs in peril without them being able to do anything about it. Now, if you have a group that doesn't mind being shoved a bit, that's not a huge deal, especially in a system like Savage Worlds that has bennies or adventure cards that can be doled out to ease the pain. Some of these involve PCs being scarred by whips or PCs being challenged to duels for the love of a woman.

CONCLUSION: Even if you hate the idea of random rolls dictating where the events of the game go, there's still 100 ideas to run with here in case you get stuck. Many of them are fairly common western tropes, but sometimes you don't THINK of that until you have a list in front of you...and there you go. Thumbs up.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Random Acts of... Old West Violence
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Publisher Reply:
Many thanks for the review!
Tough Justice: Grim & Gritty
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2011 04:21:28
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: A while back, I reviewed Tough Justice - and rather loved it. Grim and Gritty is a combat supplement for Tough Justice by Tough Justice writer Ian Warner. You can download it for $1.99 from RPGNow, or buy it in print from Lulu.com for $9.29. Essentially, it is 40 pages of combat rules for Tough Justice (which didn't delve heavily into combat). Combat isn't wildly different from most games, although there are unique bits like a pre-fight roll determining either how soon it will be before the defender can attempt to escape, or how quickly reinforcements come, and the end result of combat (death or capture) is entirely up to the victor. The supplement takes the Tough Justice legal setting very seriously, with attackers can gain Felony Dice, but Defenders do not, due to their right to defend themselves.

WHAT WORKS: The rules for dueling seem like they would be the most thematically appropriate for the Tough Justice setting, and this includes pistol or sword duels, fist fights or hag fights (with appropriate rules for differentiating them from regular combats). The book also does an admirable job of trying to cover all relevant combat bases, including a weapons chapter, gang-up rules and mass combat.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The proofreading could have been better, especially in regards to punctuation. The book encourages exceptions in combats whenever characters made from different Historical Farce games are used together, which can prove annoying at times.

CONCLUSION: I really enjoy Ian Warner's off-beat work in particular, and Postmortem's work in general. As the author says, even in this book, Tough Justice is completely playable by itself, these are just additional rules, in case the combat doesn't work for you. Is there anything indispensible in here? No, although I do really like the addition of the dueling rules. Otherwise, if you have played Tough Justice a time or two, you have a pretty good idea as to whether or not the combat is robust enough for you.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tough Justice: Grim & Gritty
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Savage Worlds Horror Companion
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2011 00:21:53
WHAT WORKS: The updated Bestiary, the swell new powers and PC Monsters. Yes, it may not be your cup of tea, but I love-love-love-LOVE seeing that in here. The fortune telling rules also look great (and simple), as well as the ritual rules.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The GM section is nothing special, and nothing we haven't read before. The cover is another cheesecake scantily clad cover like the other companions, which is kinda disappointing.

CONCLUSION: Probably my favorite companion thus far, as I felt like the Fantasy Companion kinda lost something from the Toolkits and I like Necessary Evil and its plot point campaign more than I like the Super Powers setting rules and slew of NPCs. This one, on the other hand, felt packed full of goodness and whatever it may have lost from the Toolkit PDFs, it more than made up for with better organization and the monster races. Best companion by far, in my book.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/10/tommys-take-o-
n-savage-worlds-horror.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Horror Companion
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Agents of Oblivion
Publisher: Reality Blurs
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2011 01:21:19
WHAT WORKS: A great alternative for people who may have liked BLACK OPS or CONSPIRACY X but decided they weren't fans of GURPS of Classic Unisystem anymore (like me!). The book is all about options, options, options, not about shoe-horning in a single way to play...(sometimes, that shoe-horning is fine, and sometimes, you just want options, options, options). And I do so love me some random tables, even more than I do Legendary Edges.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I always prefer a character sheet IN the book, and the PDF is also sans index. Now, while that's not a HUGE issue in a searchable, bookmarked PDF, it can be noticeable in a printed book. Also, I likes me a good bestiary, and this does look a true bestiary (though there is a sample alien or two to play with, to say nothing of the generator).

CONCLUSION: At only $10, I'm not shocked at all that this book shot to the top of the sales charts upon release. You can do straight up spies, you can do X-Files, you can do mutant super agents if you like, and it's at least 95% compatible with other Savage Worlds stuff to boot, so how can you go wrong? (Bonus points if you combine it with the Gritty options from Realms of Cthulhu for some real bone breaking action).

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/10/tommys-take-o-
n-agents-of-oblivion.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Agents of Oblivion
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Totems of the Dead: Game Master's Guide to the Untamed lands
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/11/2011 23:04:23
WHAT WORKS: I love a good bestiary, and this is a very good one, as well as random tables, and this has both an adventure generator and a nameless horror generator. Worth the price of admission right there.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: In a perfect world, it would be nicer if the Player's and GM's guides had been folded in together, but my understanding is that would have proven prohibitive to printing costs, if for no other reason than the information in each book feels SO complimentary to the other that each book feels a bit anemic on their own.

CONCLUSION: Totems of the Dead is a nice twist on the Swords and Sorcery genre, and with the release of the GM's Guide, players and GMs have a ton of material available for tribal butt-kicking action. The monsters in the bestiary may be a tad too specific to the setting to be of use for non-Totems of the Dead games, although a little re-skinning can go a long ways, and that Nameless Horror generator can be busted out in a variety of games...(say you need something for the Whateleys to summon in a pinch in your Deadlands game, for instance). Another great product from Gun Metal Games.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/10/apologies-for-
-lack-of-reviews.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Totems of the Dead: Game Master's Guide to the Untamed lands
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