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Shadowed Earth (Core Setting Guide)
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/15/2015 23:53:30
I finally got around to read through this setting book - 110 pages of pure setting information takes a while to get through.

The book starts with a small introductory story that continuous along through each chapter. In fact the setting information IS the story as the character in the Preface narrates the history of planet Earth, starting at the Bronze Age and continuing all the way to the New Age (2053).

It is an interesting setting, interweaving mythology and horror with our real world, changing the source of talents during the different ages. As an example, most of the time the gods provide the powers, the occult has its own source of power, modern times develop psionic abilities and the New Age uses cyber implants to harness/enhance powers. Clockwork technology is available during the early modern age, too.

So, what do you get? Everything you want to play, really. During the Dark Ages you could create a Fantasy like feeling, including dwarfs, Elves and such if the campaign is set in northern Europe. The Iron Age sets the stage for nice adventures within the Roman Empire, hunting monsters (aka aliens) - or fighting Germanic Nations. Or use the Egypt background to fight the undead hoards of Anubis during the Bronze Age. Fight the occult during the Dark Ages, be a Crusader and free the Angels of Heaven, subjugate the Baltic area during the Middle Ages, support the settlers in the new world of the Americas during the Early Modern Age or fight occult Pirates, use Clockwork devices to win the battle against evil in London, be part of WWII and stop occult Germans from exploiting secret powers, use your cybernetic enhancements to infiltrate corporations in the New Age.

These are just examples, drawn from inspiration while reading the book. I think I could fit a good part of my adventure collection from different settings, rule books and game systems into the Shadowed Earth. Maybe not as vast as some settings are described, but a city like Freeport I could fit in somewhere and have fun with. Maybe I stretch the canon of Shadowed Earth a bit, but hey: the author encourages this! It is a 'alternate earth' after all, so the GM can do what is necessary.
Call of Cthulhu? A very easy fit for this ... maybe an interesting twist to the Shadowed Earth canon, too. Steampunk Victoriana? Sure, somewhere in London - evil is all around to fight. Alien Hunting? Yep, the world is full of aliens and they are hiding behind myths and sometimes in plain sight. There was a time where aliens could enter Earth very easily. Find them, kill them, save humanity.

Although I read the book cover to cover, I think it is not really necessary as each Age is more or less self contained. You could skip some pages if you find them uninteresting at that time, just read the side bars as they give a quick overview about what happened or is presented on the pages you skip. This helps getting through the book much easier without missing a necessary part.

The only thing that is missing are some good descriptions of possible societies and groups. Something that puts a face to the evil, to the occult, to the hunters and eventually to the players. I think this is where additional books come into place, but I really would have wanted a handful of names, characters and hints how to place the players into the setting.
As it is, Shadowed Earth is a very well done setting that provides a lot of possibilities and gets your imagination going. But to place the players into it, the GM has to do a bit of work creating groups, societies, characters, allies and adversaries.

As stated before, it is easy to take my "Savage Worlds Rome" setting book and get going with the Shadowed Earth. Or my "Crusaders of the Amber Coast" to cleanse the Baltic area from all evil. Or "Call of Cthulhu" to make sure the time is not right for certain beings. Be a hero and fight chaos beings with the "Solomon Kane" setting book. Sail the North Sea with the help of "Mythic Iceland" and bring christianity there. Revive your old "Cyberpunk: 2020" stuff and sneak into corporate buildings.

This is extremely easy to do and I like the idea to be able to do so. Finally a setting that is smart enough to incorporate all my favorite setting books while providing a solid ongoing background story that is always good for a twist.
I'm curious when the author writes some kind of time-travel add-on for the Shadowed Earth so you can walk the Ages of time with one group of characters for a long lasting campaign ;)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Earth (Core Setting Guide)
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Entropic Gaming System: Quick Start Guide
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/15/2015 06:20:08
A very nice layout with a trimmed down content of the full rule book. Enough rules to get the included (new) adventure in it going and it provides most of the stuff a GM needs for a fantasy setting (and the first handful of adventures).

Try it out, it is a wonderful set of rules!

I would give it 5 stars for content, 5 stars for layout (color version) and 4 stars for the b/w version (because of the black border, see Discussions).
The text is also a bit smaller when printed on A5 paper with this new layout and printing on correct size paper is nearly impossible as it is not available in shops (17,78 x 25,4 cm). On A5 the text is still readable, but in dim light conditions it could be a bit harder for some people.

So, 4 stars for now as it is, due to the black border and smaller text when printed.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Entropic Gaming System: Quick Start Guide
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Publisher Reply:
The trick there would be to print it on A4 paper and zoom to fit instead of A5. That way the text would get larger instead of smaller. The 7x10 size should make it easy to zoom to fit on larger size paper, but you really wouldn\'t want to shrink it down for, as you say, the text becomes difficult to read. Thanks for the review!
Shadowed Earth Veiled Supplements #01: The Burning Crow (EGS)
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2015 19:59:10
A nice group of characters to be placed into a modern horror setting. Good ideas, some nice starting points (adventure hooks), many information about why, where, when ... all the bits and pieces you need to have some recurring NPCs that are not necessarily evil and an enemy to the players. Would not dare to say 'neutral', but in a shady-grey zone.

layout, text, artwork is as all the other EGS products: good, light on ink and well printed on A5 paper.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Earth Veiled Supplements #01: The Burning Crow (EGS)
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Shadowed Earth Veiled Supplements #02: The Realm of Lord Bane (EGS)
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2015 19:54:01
A nice short adventure about a town with a castle and an unanswered love. A town maps is presented to give a quick overview of the town.

The adventure itself is more an open sandbox as there is no railroading how the characters reach the goal. A few options are available and presented in the book, I could come up with a few more easily.
The writing is inspiring and the background story is easy to follow.

Just prep it up a bit more by drawing a connection between the NPCs if you want to play it, add a location map here and there if you are into that, and you are good to go.
Prep time for the adventure is about 2h including reading it through. Just make sure while reading to write down how the NPCs are connected to each other and what their goals are. There aren't too many (about a hand full), but at least for me it helps to get the story running smoothly without re-reading text or flipping through the document.

Layout is good, printing on A5 paper works well, no wasted ink, stats for creatures all included (no flipping through the main rule book), nice artwork.

I think for 2$ it is worth the price as you get nice art and a nice reusable location (maybe as a base or starting point for a campaign).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Earth Veiled Supplements #02: The Realm of Lord Bane (EGS)
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Shadowed Earth Veiled Adventures #02: The Temple of St. Benjamin (EGS)
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2015 19:42:59
A nice short adventure about a temple and a necromancer. Maps are presented to give a quick overview, although I found it hard in some places to follow the description given in the text on the maps provided. But it might just be me (or me reading late at night) and it does not matter a lot as these were just minor issues. Depending on if your players have access to the map or not it could bring a bit of irritation to the table, though.

Layout is good, printing on A5 paper works well, no wasted ink, stats for creatures all included (no flipping through the main rule book), nice artwork, story is easy to follow and straight forward.

A good adventure for a Friday evening after a busy week that should last about 4 to 5 hours. Don't expect great plot moves here - it's more in the spirit of the Savage Worlds One Sheets. Or Dungeon Crawls.

I think for 2$ it is worth the price as you get nice art and a nice reusable location with a few maps to get your imagination running - and an adventure you can easily extend as you like.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Earth Veiled Adventures #02: The Temple of St. Benjamin (EGS)
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Shadowed Earth Cryptozoology #01: Chaos Realm (EGS)
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2015 19:32:05
This book reminds me of the Xeno book MTE put out earlier.

In the beginning you get a list of Keywords divided in Classifications and Traits, each explained in detail.

After that you get straight to the 30 creatures listed here. I like that I do not get the same old demons here, but rather a list of -at least to me- unfamiliar creatures. Some I know (Djinni, Incubus, Succubus, Ifrit and Imp), but the rest is (I would say) at least unpopular. Nice to have something the players don't know / think of.

Each creature is given one page, including a description, picture and generic stat block and everything is well done. No wasted ink on backgrounds, pictures are b/w capturing the mood, layout is excellent, fonts are good to read even if you print the book on A5 paper.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Earth Cryptozoology #01: Chaos Realm (EGS)
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Entropic Gaming System: Xenopedia
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2015 19:21:34
I like what I see here: a lot of individual alien races, technology levels and interesting NPCs. A good addition for every Sci-Fi setting and it can even be used in a Fantasy setting (who says mythical creatures aren't aliens?!).

You'll get 34 alien races in this book, some are friendly, some hostile, some just don't care.
Each alien is given a classification, including technology level (0 to 3), Military rating (0 to 3) and a Society Progress (0 to 3). These classifications follows a list of keywords (hostile, Nomadic, non-organic, beast, aquatic, etc) to give a first impression what the species is like.
The classification ratings are explained at the beginning of the book, together with all other keywords, traits, etc.

A longer description follows the classification list, covering everything you need to place the alien into your game - Physiology, Environment, Origins and Motivation. Race specific Special Traits are listed and explained here, too.

After that you get at least one NPC with name, stats, short description and equipment - ready to use in your setting.

A generic stat block is placed somewhere within the description (easy to find as its background is light grey) as well as a picture picturing the alien.

The book concludes with a random creature generator using a deck of cards. I thought it is a remnant of the Savage Worlds edition, but the author convinced me (via email) a deck of cards is simply the easiest way to create aliens as you do not get bogged down in a lot of dice rolls & writing down the results.

Final thoughts: the art is good (no stock art AFAIK), the text is easy to follow, the races are fun to read, the descriptions give a lot of adventure hooks and ideas, printing works well (no waste of unnecessary ink/toner on fancy backgrounds and looks great on A5 paper), Fonts and Layout are well done and page breaks are not distracting.

I really appreciate the work. If I were to criticize something, it would be the lack of hypermarks in the Table of Contents - but that is not an issue in using the document as the PDF includes well done bookmarks (which are even better to use than a hyperlinked ToC).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Entropic Gaming System: Xenopedia
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Entropic Gaming System
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/17/2014 21:49:20
This is not a full review, but I am so intrigued by the EGS system, I have to place a comment here.
For me this generic RPG system is the EABA, a perfect blend of the old Cortex, Savage Worlds and Master Book systems.

Basically characters have an Ability and a Skill, all measured from d4 to d12 and you combine these two in a way that suits the situation. After that you roll both dice and compare them to a Target Number, usually 7.

But there is a lot more to this system. The combat system is not a plain „roll-hit-damage“ thing, but offers tactics, strategies, qualities and hero points to make combat entertaining and memorable.
Especially I like the Fear Dice Pool for monsters and the Heroic Dice Pool for the characters. An additional layer of brilliance and fun.

I would say these rules are not overly complicated and can be put in the rules medium section, same as I would put Savage Worlds. But this is NOT Savage Worlds, although it might look similar on the surface. It is different, does not use any cards (thumbs up!), characters are being defined by Skills & Abilities and Qualities are used for gaining Hero Points during dramatic situations. And not a lot of calculations here: a good thing on Friday evening after a long week of work.

The book includes a good amount of situational rules (Falling, Drowning, Poison, Chases, Morale for Minions/Allies, Exhaustion, Disease, Aging, etc.) but they are all easy to comprehend and use common sense - very intuitive.

A Bestiary with enough monsters and characters to keep you going for some time is included as well. It consists of just the stats for the beasts, but hey, we all have our own understanding of a goblin or dragon anyway. Oh, and Stats are short: 8 lines to describe an average monster/animal/adversary.

What else can I say except of this is the game I was looking for since 2006. Well worth the $5.00 and a hot alternative to a lot of other generic RPGs.

I hope this system really takes off and a lot of people will hop on and put out some cool settings for it. The included OPEN GAME LICENSE is a good thing for developers, I suppose.

This is a real gem.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Entropic Gaming System
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The Omen
Publisher: Hyacinth Games
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2012 20:12:18
This is a nice story idea, offering different ways to solve the problem and depending on the characters actions the ending is different. While the adventure will be long enough for an evening, it can be used as a starting point for much more.

Nicely done! :)

Since I did not look at the game system, I cannot judge on that. It seems simple and fast, but then again I only skimmed it.

5 points for content
5 points for the price
5 points for artwork and presentation

no rating for the rules sytem

I like it!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Omen
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Graph Paper Pack: Hex Grid
Publisher: Healing Fireball
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2012 19:04:02
the hexes look ... awful. You can see every pixel and with coloured background they look even worse. Cannot recommend this product at all.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Graph Paper Pack: Hex Grid
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for telling us about this problem. Please download the updated hex paper; we have changed the graphics compression to make it higher resolution. This should solve the pixilation problem with the hexes.
Play Dirty
Publisher: John Wick Presents
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2012 18:50:36
Unfortunately I cannot agree with the other reviews. I found the topics in this book not new, not "dangerous" and not innovative. They are not bad either, but this book is not the best since sliced bred as so many say. I would rate it average and most of the advices are found in the GM chapter of every RPG.
Well, any except of (A)D&D as it seems as the author is talking about 50% the time about how to enhance your D&D game. Or Champions.

Anyway, not a bad product, but nothing new in it as well. So, what is he actually talking about? He starts the book with "I kill players". Now that's new ;) He continues "I hit them where it hurts" and starts talking about how to use players (Dis-)Advantages against them. If I remember right, a lot of RPG GM sections tell the GM how to do this.
The method he provides is nothing new and only a good campaign plot: a traitor in the midst. Yes, it works, yes it is fun, but is it THAT cool plot I never thought about? No.

Chapter 3 talks about how the players take roles of citizen (good or evil ones) to take the burden from the GM and create a living city. Nothing new as well, done many times, especially when one PC dies and that player would otherwise no longer participate actively in the game session.
Also, he gives hints how to use and interact with the environment. Hm. Well. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

I could go on and dissect chapter for chapter, but it would just repeat itself.

Here is a preview of chapter one:
http://gamingoutpost.com/article/hit_em_where_it_hurts/<-
br />
Conclusion:
Well, to be frank, to me the book sounds like a 23 year old experienced cool GM ;) is telling the story of his life to 16 year old players. Maybe if you are new to the hobby or coming from a life-long tabletop-battlegame you will find something new in here. But if you have tried out 10+ RPG systems, I bet you'll find nothing new in here.

Rating:
So I'll give it 3 stars for content, but the price tag lowers it to 2.
If you want to print it, be prepared to invest into a lot of ink, as the chapter titles have a huge solid black background and the page borders consist of black&grey.
Because of this (there is no printer friendly version) I would lower the overall product rating to 1 - sorry, guys.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Play Dirty
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Bare Bones Multiverse Core Rules
Publisher: Scaldcrow Games
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/29/2012 23:47:22
A fast and easy RPG system, very rules light. If you look for something you can use as a beer and pretzels game, go for it.

BBM uses 2d6 for task resolution and give a lot of genre specific advice in the dedicated chapters. Depending on setting the GM must come up with some "Abilities" or "Conditions" to get the game started, but these lists are roughly 8 entries each - so it should not be too hard.

Abilities can be anything like Skills or Attributes.
Conditions are behaviours or physical details.

Fast rules, fast game, lots of fun. Not too detailed, but good enough to make a one-shot game enjoyable. I use it for setting testing and developing and BBM replaces my former go-to rules light system.
Imagine a cross between FATE and "Barbarians of Lemuria". Character development will be OK for short campaigns, though it can be used for more with some tweaks or imagination.

The price tag is steep, though, but you get the printed version incl. PDF for the same price (plus shipping costs). So make sure to place the right order!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bare Bones Multiverse Core Rules
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