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Hollow Earth Expedition RPG
Publisher: Exile Game Studio
by Timothy S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/10/2017 14:02:54

Personally, I love straight-forward, mechanically sound RPG's. Hollow Earth Expedition is exactly that. With the Odds or Evens method of counting successes, it is easy to explain to new gamers and easy to do during the game, which speeds up play. Character generation is simple, and thankfully completely absent Classes or Levels. It also just so happens that my favorite type of RPG mechanics is number of successes, such as in White Wolf's World of Darkness series, and of course the granddaddy Shadowrun. Hollow Earth Expedition is once again exactly that. This game is simple enough to understand, and character generation is quick enough, that HEX would be a fantastic pick-up or convention table game.

But it's quite a bit more than that. There's a real depth of setting that could satisfy any DM or group that loves telling stories, and even though character gen is simple and quick, the process in which it's done also manages to really flesh out a character. The provided archetypes are also not cliche.

Honestly, though, as much as I really like HEX, I have to say that much of it seems like the same old, same old. Other than the unique Ubiquity System (US) of odds and evens which is new, fresh, and works quite well, the rest of the system mechanics seem like something we've all seen in hundreds of RPGs. I don't mean that it is unoriginal... it's just that it's too similar to too many I've already seen. I'm talking about the Stats and Skills specifically (and only) here. The ratings levels, the adding of stats and skills to create a dice pool all seems a bit old hat to me. See Unisystem, Shadowrun, WW, and others.

Please understand that I am NOT recommending skipping HEX, or any of Ubiquity System games... I love HEX and Leagues of Adventure just as much as I love any of the truly great games I've read and played. I would recommend US games to anyone, and as a matter of fact I already have. I was just hoping for something a little more unique other than the die rolling system.

As far as the rest of the game is concerned, I give it high marks. The detailed background, the art work, the readability of the text, the wonder of the genre, it's all there.

If you're looking for pulp, action-adventure, bigger than life, you can't go wrong with HEX. It's not Fate (thankfully), and it's not d20 (again, thankfully). It is it's own thing, and excellently done.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hollow Earth Expedition RPG
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Tephra: the Steampunk RPG
Publisher: Cracked Monocle
by Timothy S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/13/2016 05:14:09

Tephra really needs a good review. It's so unusual that it needs a good look. I'm not going to do that here, but what I am going to do is give you my honest opinion of Tephra, and recommend it. When I say it's unusual, I mean that yes, it's Steampunk and even though Steampunk has begun to take on a populus bent, Tephra covers the genre very well. It has all the tropes you would expect of Steampunk, but it definitely is not just a boring game with iron bits welded on to make it look Steampunk without actually doing it very well. Cracked Mononcle not only has created a very unusual system mechanically, but the world, the setting, and all the fantastical elements of Tephra all are like nothing you may have seen before. Simple things like how the health of the character is determined and used, and how Tephra treats magic (the Aether) are just some of the things that you'll love in Tephra. It's truly it's own game, devoted to adding to the genre without stealing the tired elements that we've seen flooding the market.

The only thing I personally don't like about Tephra are the PC races. It's just my personal preference; it has nothing to do with the creativity or design. I would GM this game using a Victorian age England as the setting with maybe one or two at the most unusual races. I know that's same-old, same-old, but to me Steampunk is forever tied to Queen Victoria's England. The races they introduce in Tephra are well done and unusual, I just don't like them very much. Sorry.

The artwork is also very nice in Tephra, although again my personal opinion is that it's too "Anime". I can't stand Anime (that's just me) so anything similar to it just turns me off. Don't let that turn you away from this game, though. And get all the expansions, especially the Aether and the Automatons! The price of Tephra, even including all the expansions and sourcebooks, is quite low, and it'll be a worthwhile investment to your gaming group. I see the core rulebook is on Drivethru right now for 9.99, down from 39.99 regularly. Hopefully they're able to keep it that low.

Final word: Excellent!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tephra: the Steampunk RPG
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for the fantastic review! I\'ve shared this with the development team, and they are very happy to get such warm feedback. We completely understand (and some of us agree with) the issues you have, and I personally have run quite a few human-only Victorian England games of Tephra. I hope that we can continue to deliver products that you\'ll enjoy and surprise you! Cheers & Gears, Daniel Burrow
N.E.W. The Science Fiction Roleplaying Game
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Timothy S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/06/2016 14:51:44

I'm one of those people that are never satisfied 100% with an RPG. I read them, tweak them, house rule them, generate tons of characters, and unless they are really very good, I end up putting them on my virtual shelf. N.E.W. is NOT going to sit on that shelf. Sci-Fi games are hard to pull off, and even harder to do very well, and E.N. Publishing has set a new bar for content, dice mechanics, and playability. I especially like the CountDown mechanic; very unusual and it can be quite a suspenseful tool for a game. The art is great, the non-human races (one place many Sci-Fi games fall flat) are well done, the character generation procedure with the careers is reminiscent of Traveller without all the dying during generation, and the broad range of all the great Sci-Fi tropes in equipment is well represented. Overall, I'd put N.E.W. up there on the top of the list of best Sci-Fi games; the same list that has all the classic great games like Traveller, Star Frontiers, Alternity, Space Opera, and Star Ace. If you're on the fence about purchasing this game, then climb on down and do it. You won't be disappointed at all.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
N.E.W. The Science Fiction Roleplaying Game
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High Space Core Rules (v1.2)
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Timothy S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/15/2014 00:45:07

Wonderful space opera. Great rules, great art, and I love the "ships as characters" in the second book. This is now my go-to space book for Savage Worlds... with a little Star Frontiers thrown in. As a matter of fact, the only thing missing from High Space are setting-specific, original alien races. Luckily, Savage Worlds makes it super easy to design any playable races you want.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
High Space Core Rules (v1.2)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Timothy S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2013 10:04:03

I was dead set against 4th Edition. I've been playing Shadowrun since the very beginning, and I liked that 2nd and 3rd editions were just revised, streamlined versions of the same basic system. 4th Edition changed all that... a new system that, while using a multitudes of d6's vs. a target number, was so drastically different that my 70+ source books were unusable except for background information. I was a 4th Edition Hater.

Then I bought and read 5th Edition. It blew me away. Even though it is strongly related to 4th, more of a revision than a complete new game, the team at Catalyst did it right. The artwork and fiction put you into the Sixth World better than any version core rulebook before. The mechanics of the system are tight, quick, and yet versatile. Characters have more options for personalization than ever before. This version actually made me realize some of the weaknesses of 3rd Edition, and that's saying a lot for me.

Yes, it's a very large PDF, with almost 500 pages. That's a good thing, right? More value for the money. None of it's wasted. I like the fiction... it shows people doing the things that your character will be doing, but in a very realistic sense, considering the fantasy involved.

I can't recommend 5th Edition highly enough. Now if I could just convince Catalyst to take back the dozens and dozens of 1st through 3rd books back (every one of them, minus scenario books) and give me the upcoming 5th Edition versions! No... I take that back. I'll never let go of my collection.

Now go buy this book!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
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CJ Carrella's WitchCraft
Publisher: Eden Studios
by Timothy S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/24/2010 09:32:23

This review is based on approximately 1 hour of skimming the rules, reading in-depth into some sections, and is not a comprehensive review.

That said, I strongly recommend this game to anyone interested in contemporary supernatural settings.

The artwork is black and white, but excellent. The fiction that is interspersed throughout the book is well written, although the font used can be just a bit clumsy to read.

The ruleset is solid... similar in many ways to other, more popular and well known RPG's in a similar setting, but they stand on their own and seem to work well.

This PDF is just over 320 pages, and it is a complete system... just because it's free here at DriveThru, don't let that make you think it's any less valuable than expensive games.

I did not give this particular game 5 stars because... well honestly I felt there was almost too MUCH fiction blended in. That's a personal issue with me (I can't stand the tons and tons of fiction in the Vampire series books by White Wolf), so please disregard this criticism if you like a lot more color in your games than I am comfortable with.

Final verdict: Extremely good game, solid game mechanics, excellent art. You can't lose with this.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CJ Carrella's WitchCraft
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BASH! Ultimate Edition
Publisher: Basic Action Games
by Timothy S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/03/2010 18:26:54

Like many others interested in BASH!, I've played my share of SuperHero RPG's over the years; dozens of different systems and paradigms. BASH! is easily one of the most fluid for the genre; I mean that the game mechanics flow smoothly, the rules are simple to comprehend in a short time with very no overwhelming amount of detail, yet it covers the use of superpowers and skills very well. The book is well written, although I found it a bit vague at first... it's very important that you review the key terms near the beginning to "get" how the system works; if you don't you'll do what I did and keep looking in vain for definitions of some terms (especially Dice Bonus and Defense). If you take the time to review them (yes, that means you, mister experienced RPG'er), you'll get right into the heart of the system much quicker and enjoy it that much more.

I'm starting a BASH! game next week with my regular group, and so I've decided to make a large pool of characters for them to choose through, and character generation is unbelievably quick. It almost seems too quick to be useable, but it's just an illusion. The characters in BASH! are plenty full of what you need to play a superhero: Powers (many defined, and many more possible with options), skills (a good selection) and advantages/disadvantages (all the rage in many RPG's now-a-days).

I can't recommend BASH! UE enough. It's heresy, but I gotta say it. Give up on FASERIP, and go BASHing!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BASH! Ultimate Edition
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for your review! That's high praise indeed. Don't forget that for doing a quick pick-up game that you can always use the Sample Archetypes from the back of the book to generate some quickly.
Caeron 3000 The Science Fiction Role-Playing Game
Publisher: Magique Productions, Ltd
by Timothy S.
Date Added: 11/27/2009 22:49:58

Garbage. Poorly disguised D&D rules. Terrible artwork. A game anyone past the age of 12 wouldn't enjoy. This is so disappointing. In a genre full of half-done, poor game systems, this one really takes the cake.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Caeron 3000 The Science Fiction Role-Playing Game
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