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Starmada Nova Rulebook
Publisher: Majestic Twelve Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/31/2014 05:53:21
Layout -- POOR. Boring layout, limited art that is pristine but not interesting or inspiring. There are not many pictures depicting space battles, neither inside the ship nor outside in space! The cover of the book is EXCELLENT, whoever designed the cover showed that s/he actually gave a d++n about what s/he was doing. It needs more art, and more-interesting art, something that will inspire me to play this game.

Text -- GOOD. Excellent for a tech manual, but not inspiring. The text does an excellent job for what it is supposed to do, but nothing more.

Game Play -- POOR. Mechanics are good, but there are absolutely no diagrams for spaceship design! It's all text and numbers, there are no layouts that might inspire what ships look like.

I don't know of any other games like this; this was my first purchase for miniatures spaceship battle. I am sorely disappointed: the cover sold me on the game, but I should have suspected something was not entirely right when I found there is no sample to review the PDF before paying 11.30 for this. I feel somewhat robbed; I hope I can salvage this space game (no pun intended).

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Starmada Nova Rulebook
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Fate Core System
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/21/2013 12:36:19
Fate Core is a stream-lined version of the Fate mechanics. The selling points for this book are three fold: 1) Fate Core makes playing Fate rules much simpler without sacrificing game satisfaction, 2) The artistic layout of this book is excellent: easy to read, yet charming, organized, and inspiring. The artwork is appropriate and fun to look at, and 3) you are given permission to create a hard-copy of the PDF book for your own private use. This is a HUGE bonus, making this purchase well-worth the money you may spend for purchasing the product. These three facets have renewed my interest in creating games for Fate game mechanics.
* I highly recommend paying for this particular book, for your RPG collection: as an RPG enthusiast, if you are like me, you will want people like those that work at Evil Hat Productions to publish more material like Fate Core, but they can't do that if no-one supports the products they can make with fairness and by balancing their work with a fair payment for their publication.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Core System
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Prime20: The Easy RPG
Publisher: Beach House Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/12/2012 00:17:17
Prime 20 is a reworking of sorts, drawing on elements of OGL D20 games and "refitting" them in a more-sensible fashion. However, I write reviews for three reasons: does the game deliver on it's advertised promise? does the layout appeal to the senses? and is it worth the cost to purchase it as is? I also like to deliver quick, simple answers, so here we go. (Each issue listed below will get a "+" mark if it is a positive remark, meant to cause the reader to purchase the game for that reason.)

+ 1. Does it deliver on "learning OGL games quickly" or "learning OGL stripped down to its essence"? I review these two issues, because the other advertised claims are ambiguous and can be fulfilled or not fulfilled by one's opinion of this game book as it applies to the OGL games others play. In short, it is more accurate to say that Prime 20 actually replaces other OGL games, and in this case, I think this is a good thing. (I tend to like cinematic, loose-ended RPGs and I shy away from mechanic-heavy rule-sets. Rules can get in the way of playing a game, and Prime 20 does a good job of explaining that.)

2. Does the layout appeal to the senses? The book is a mere 34 pages of material (including a few pages of cover art and TOC); however, most of the pages contain mostly text with some simple line art illustrations. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just a disappointing aspect of the layout. In short, remember you are paying about 36 cents a page for a short-story project, where you could get a larger book for less money. Remember: RPGs are games and they are books, and that means they are also an art form. Art is important in a visual medium: Prime 20 fails to impress in the visual design respect, especially since I have experienced this game via PDF only. It feels bare-bones when read, and it's layout is juvenile: it needs work. (Not meant as an insult, but as information).

3. Is it worth the cost to purchase this? To me, it is BARELY worth the cost, because the raw data is very useful and I will use the rules as written, with some minor tweaking. I don't like the current artistic effort so much; then again, I am a graphic artist by trade (perhaps I am too critical, for it is a better effort than most independents have provided. It's the PRICE versus quality that kills it for me.)

The bottom line: a great idea implemented in a poor manner for a rather large price. It feels complete and unfinished at the same time. Although I will use the rules, I am not happy at the cost to attain them.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Prime20: The Easy RPG
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BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/31/2012 16:31:40
BareBones Fantasy RPG (BBFR) is THE answer to the need for a simplified yet solid fantasy game experience. The rules balance complexity with core essence and value. This is a good value, jam-packed with information that skips all the "window-dressing" found in many other games. DwD took the best ideas in modern role-playing and formed an entirely new system around those concepts.

I highly recommend purchasing this product if you long for the days of sitting down to play a simple game, versus attending 8+ years of RPGU just so you can get your "doctorate degree" in one or two complex RPG systems!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
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The genreDiversion 3E Manual
Publisher: Precis Intermedia
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2012 04:46:35
GD3E is a good system -- but there are a few major flaws within the rules.

Game mechanics are fine until they deal with Hit Points, Health, and Damage management. These issues are too complicated for the type of system that it pretends to be. If you can rework the health and damage, as I have, then it gets another extra star in the rating.

Also, GD3E is based on Active Exploits, a diceless variation of this system. My question is: why two systems for the same game? and why not in the same book as well, or more specifically, why not one book for one system? Why does the one book that explains this concept cost about $8, where as the diceless edition is free?

Another pet peeve I have is when I have to write my own skill and feat lists, when a game does not include these lists within its text. GD3E does not have an easy list of skills and feats (as such), so you will have to write these things down, in order to review what skills are available at character creation. It seems like an unnecessary, yet vital chore for me to perform. Make the lists, fer' cryin' out loud!

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The genreDiversion 3E Manual
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HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2012 04:28:21
Hackmaster is an extensive set of rules. I am rating it based on this fact. While the five star and four star reviews will rate the game based on what it can do (and, in a detailed fashion), it also shows one important fact: if you are going to make THIS particular set of rules your ONLY set of rules to play a fantasy genre, then Hackmaster can be a very good choice. (You should just be aware of the time involved in learning this game.) The price makes up for the fact that it is a very intricate and detailed game experience; otherwise, a lower star rating would have been more appropriate. In my opinion, it gets three stars for recreating the wheel and making things too complicated, where other games have simplified certain game mechanics, but it is free after-all... until you want to upgrade to the next level of Hackmaster, that is...

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
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Creatures & Caverns 2nd Edition
Publisher: Griffon Publishing Studio
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2012 04:18:02
Creatures & Caverns is a very simple OSR game, based loosely on the most popular fantasy RPG in the world. It's strong points are that it is indeed very simple to learn, and that it has good game mechanic balance because of that simplicity. It can be improved by adding more races and classes, monsters, tools for the characters, and other role-playing game rules. Not the worst game out there, and the price makes getting it worthwhile, if you want to briefly consider a different sort of fantasy rpg based on what you already know.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Creatures & Caverns 2nd Edition
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DCS Core rules
Publisher: DCS
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/05/2012 18:38:30
DCS: what can I say that is accurate and yet fair? (This is harder than it looks.) In one sentence, DCS looks like someone typed notes about a home-brew system and thought it was so good that it could stand on just the notation form of presentation. This PDF lacks a layout, lacks art, and lacks cohesion. If you are good at putting puzzles together, and if you want to give 5x the patience to deciphering the easy yet confusing rule set, then you MIGHT enjoy this game. However, there is not enough "new" or "sizzle" here to warrant the amount of time it would take to fix it. Even at under $2, in my opinion, this is a "miss". Perhaps with a little more TLC and thoughtfulness, DCS could come into its own.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
DCS Core rules
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FU: The Freeform/Universal RPG
Publisher: Peril Planet
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2012 04:37:59
FU has a few things working for it. 1) You can't beat free for cost. 2) It's easy to read and understand quickly. 3) You truly can run any universe you like, if your imagination is broad and fluid.

There are a few things FU will need help with, if you play it. 4) It needs a lot of love and attention -- you will need more creativity than math skill, just like any other narrative rpg. 5) The rules need to have a little more "meat" on them, because they don't cover many instances of playing a game and sacrifice detail for efficiency. 6) FU basically has only one roll mechanic, which is only a good thing for experienced role-players who want to have less chance / game mechanics and more narrative / story-telling within their game sessions. 7) The artwork for the book is limited; it needs more "window dressing" - though the layout is functional and simply pleasant. The character sheet is a graphic design disaster; it's like driving an Edsel on the interstate. It needs to be redesigned to reflect the efficiency and simplicity of the game mechanics. (I am a professional graphic designer, so I designed my own sheets for my own game.)

The star rating pertains to providing broad information quickly to the general audience of how this game will appeal or not appeal; it should not only apply to narrative rpg players. It also reflects the cost (which helps immensely in this case). Unless you are entirely convinced that story-telling supersedes all game mechanics in rpgs, you will like this game system initially but later on, you will want the game to do more while remaining simple to play. If you like to "house rule" your games, and you are willing to take the time to do so with FU, then you will like this game for awhile longer.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
FU: The Freeform/Universal RPG
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Sticks & Stones - The Free RPG
Publisher: Nightingale Publishing
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/30/2012 10:17:20
This is a warning -- not a review. The document is corrupt -- it freezes when you open it in Acrobat Reader. Contact Nightingale Publishing to fix this problem. (Perhaps save it in an older PDF format, to weed out any hidden features that may be causing problems.)

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Sticks & Stones - The Free RPG
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Publisher Reply:
Hey Hamilton, Sorry for the issues with the document. It may be due to older versions of adobe reader not allowing split and merge files. I used Adobe Reader X 10.1.4 and it worked okay. Let me know if that fixes the issue, if not, I may have to reload the document somehow. Good catch, Sir!
Supers Unleashed
Publisher: JEN Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/01/2012 23:57:41
Layout -- Ultimately, the visual layout is too simple to be interesting. It is functional and utilitarian but bland and boring for a game about four-color, computer-art-generated comic book super heroes. So much more could have been done with this product art-wise; it needs more of everything. More charts, more lists, more illustrations, etc. The cover is so-so: it's a very good illustration of a boring pose -- the super girl blowing something up could have been drawn with more OOMF, and the thing she is shooting at could have been illustrated as an explosion. Overall, the layout falls flat.

Text -- Written to-the-point, as though it were a technical manual. This is not a bad thing for this product, though. The text is factual and informative, but it lacks "pizazz". A little more descriptive language and colorful story-telling, along with a sample of playing the game, would have been nice but not necessary. It did unintentionally take one of my ideas* that I had about 7 years ago for super hero games, and it seems most games are going this route as they shoot more for the "story telling over mechanics" concept. // * If you don't know what that idea is, I can't tell you. I am designing my own game to present later. Sorry!

Game Play -- This is where SU will shine. It is deceptively simple, IF you are a creative and imaginative person. You can do a lot with this product as you play it, IF you have the time, talent, and treasure to put into it. SU is a skeletal framework to build the super-hero comic book story that YOU want to build YOURSELF. No preconceived notions here!

Money -- You can't beat the price with an ugly stick! One dollar is a good price point, even with all the things this game lacks.

Compared to others like it -- I don't own many games like this, but compared to the other "simple, to-the-point" games I do have (and adding my bias to super hero games anyway), I think if you take all of these things in consideration, you will like this game.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Supers Unleashed
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To Be A Hero: A Super-Hero Role Playing Game
Publisher: Venture Land Games
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/09/2012 11:34:52
TBAH is your typical fan-fare game supplement into any D20 system, a no frills flight into what's mundane and what's unique in the "super-hero meets D20 Modern" gaming experience. Simply put: it is a sizable product in need of some GM-renovation, artistic talent, and huge chunks of time to read, learn, and understand before incorporating into your current D20 / Super Hero game.

APPEARANCE: The layout suffers greatly by lacking any decent art or design elements. This book is not appealing to the eye at all -- every figure in the book is either sketchy or simple line art. The cover is by far the best piece of art this book has to offer.

TEXT READING: TBAH contains just under 276 pages because the last few pages are blank. The text itself reads like any standard D20 book you may already have. It follows the formula of D20 Modern or DaD 3.5 -- it's thick and tedious. It will take a high-school or better education to play this game to it's fullest potential, which is not necessarily a "bad thing" (it's just a limit of this game supplement that you need to be aware of.)

INTEGRATION / GAME PLAY: This is where TBAH will either shine or fall. There is a lot of information within these pages, but it seems to be the basic information you have in the D20 Modern game book. (In fact, if Venture Land Games had included a brief character creation section, you would not have a game supplement -- you would have a stand-alone game). Having this much detail can be a good thing or a very bad thing, depending on if you don't mind your Power Blast taking 10 minutes to calculate whether or not you blasted your opponent into the next block! For me, this game is too detailed, much like most D20 products: the layout and text prevent the reader from easily skimming or weeding out the unnecessary information. (It's almost as if you need to take college courses just to get a broad, firm understanding of the rules as a whole. Most people don't have that much time to learn all this stuff.)

CONCLUSION: It is a boring, bland, over-whelming treatment of the super-hero gaming experience. You will need a firm grasp of the D20 system to understand it and use it, unless you like to :swipe n swap" things between games. You will also need to type a few more charts, indicating page numbers and brief information, so that if you want to use a rule from this book, you can quickly find what page it is on -- or, you can buy many folders for the many character booklets you will be writing for each character...

For a person who already has a plethora of super-hero products and D20 products, it would be easier and cheaper to just add elements to your D20 Modern game or True20 game, versus spending 13 dollars for this PDF book. If you are not the creative type and you don't mind taking 3 to 5 rolls just to see if you cross the street or not, then this supplement may be for you. (sarcasm)

* The 5 point rating indicates the value of this product for the money spent. The review above gives you the reason for the rating. Remember that a negative review may be offensive, but then again, it's offensive to spend over 7 dollars on books that lack any artistic effort or are this hard to sift through the fluff in order to organize and use the information. I have said it before -- I will say it again -- not everyone is a graphic artist and not everyone is a creative writer. RPGs should be artistic and creative if they are this detailed and drawn-out with the information presented. There needs to be a REASON to read this much text and information.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
To Be A Hero: A Super-Hero Role Playing Game
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Other Worlds
Publisher: Signal 13
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/08/2012 22:49:43
OW is a cinematic-style role playing game. It has good mechanics for describing abilities abstractly. The book is lengthy but easy to read and understand. It does handle a wide variety of game worlds. OW lives up to the hype.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Other Worlds
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/29/2012 00:00:32
MARVEL HEROIC ROLE-PLAYING GAME (MHR)
(1) Do the rules work? Do they pass the "reality check?" -- MHR has some very innovative ideas that make the game unique. Here are a few that I particularly like:

a) Using the word “stress” for damage, fatigue, or anguish has a subtle humorous ring to it. “Yeah, the Hulk may be mad, but my telepathic surge is gonna’ stress him out REAL GOOD!” (see what I mean?)

b) Lack of ability scores and standard abilities. (Before MHR, I incorporated this concept into my VaV rule set).

c) Whether a hero performs better with others or working solo.

The rules work well; they are fairly easy to understand with the first reading and are balanced with each other. There are many options with each action and the mechanics create a three-dimensional feel to the interpretation of the dice rolls. The only drawback (if it is a drawback) is that alot of dice are required to make a roll, but this seems to be a Cortex issue, not a Marvel issue. (I like Cortex as well, so it's not a big problem for me.) -- RULES? A–

(2) Is the layout viable for the information presented? -- The layout supports the PDF version in subtle ways (like page-display quirks and view size) that can be easily missed with the untrained eye. There is a definitive “art” to MHR’s layout, something you should be able to see right away upon your first review of the PDF book.

The layout is not wasteful at all; in fact, having open space in your layout allows the design to “breath” and it provides ample space for you to add your own house rules and game notes (if you don’t mind marking your rule books with writing).

Finally, placing the last page right after the first page is an excellent idea in this case!-- LAYOUT? A

(3) Is the text easy to read and understand? Is it FUN? -- The text deviates from pristine grammar and composition with orphans and widows, and you can’t learn the rules quickly if you stay up until 3am reading them. However, the writing is fun, witty, and to-the-point when discussing rules. It is exactly what you expect from Marvel; the writing is thorough and reductive but not complex or restrictive.

For those who have played other versions of the Marvel RPG experience, you will see some “nods” to them (ex: the Doom Pool compared to Marvel Saga and overt usage of adjectives and terms from TSR Marvel Super Heroes).

Also, there is an example of play imbedded within the rules; you just have to read the rules in order (from page to page) to see the connections in the examples given. -- TEXT? A–

(4) If you do see any rule problems, how would you solve them? The only thing that I might have done differently if I designed this rule set is to include a more-mechanical system of character creation (though the system given to create other heroes in MHR is excellent for what it is). -- STABILITY? A

Overall, this is a wonderful and unique game to play, and it handles what it was designed to do very well, if you like cinematic or story-telling games. In other words, if you like real role playing games, you will like this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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Other Worlds Free Preview Edition
Publisher: Signal 13
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2012 01:32:21
Decent size preview / makes you want to buy the game! -- Clear, concise, and easy to understand. -- Good value for the money.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Other Worlds Free Preview Edition
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