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Trapped
Publisher: Vas Quas Editrice
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/06/2014 10:01:50
A strange and rather disturbing story game that covers a conversation between a person trapped in a coma and an 'angel' that has come to visit, for good or for ill.

The person playing the Angel chooses whether they are good or evil, leading the comatose individual to salvation or damnation. Through three stages 'scenes' where the Angel describes a situation and the comatose person can ask questions, the comatose one has to decide if they wish, in the final scene, to follow the Angel. Only then does the Angel reveal where they are going.

The mechanics are neat and easy to understand, and feel less contrived than many story games. The game is played in a darkened room, with the Angel using a torch to signal scene changes. The comatose individual can demand a truthful answer of the Angel just once, by playing some music. Otherwise the Angel decides, within certain boundaries, which scenes will be handled truthfully and in which ones they will lie. It's translated from Italian, and occasionally the English is a bit clunky, but nothing that renders it unintelligible.

The disturbing element is that this explores the feelings and fears of someone trapped in a comatose state. Those who know someone in this situation may find this traumatic... or even theraputic if they are struggling to articulate how they feel. Hence if you do know a coma patient, think carefully before deciding to play this game (whichever role you are going to play).

Thought-provoking, and intended to be, if you enjoy pyschological story games this is worth a look.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trapped
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Perilous Journey #15: Mission Alpha
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/04/2014 11:54:03
The title of Perilous Journey #15 is a little misleading, this is the opening adventure in a new campaign set in the Hastilion Expanse, and expected to last for some 14 episodes... so don't get confused. The introduction attempts to reduce the confusion, explaining how the campaign is constructed to use the Savage Worlds ruleset, and Mystical Throne Entertainment's Mercenary Breed setting.

The basic premise of the campaign is telling the stories of an expansion into a new area of space, the Hastilion Expanse. Naturally, many corporations are eyeing up the opportunities, and there's the potential for many a fortune to be made. The characters will be hired - as mercenaries - to facilitate the plans of one such corporation, Drake Mining and Manufacturing... and the adventures begin.

Mission Alpha actually comprises three missions, which may be run in any order. They involve the party in various activities on behalf of Drake M&M - anything from diplomacy to more 'traditional' mercenary activities - as well as introducing them to some of the major players in the corporation and the murky world of corporation politics! This ensures plenty of activity that should keep the players entertained whether they prefer brawling or intrigue, or a bit of both.

Both the introductory sequence and the actual mission locations are well described with plenty of atmospheric detail that makes them come alive in the shared alternate reality that is your game. The neat thing is each of the missions would rate as a full adventure in most people's books - there really is a lot going on, and a vast amount to do. Although the adventures are quite open in structure, suiting the GM who likes to run with an outline of what's to take place, there is plenty and enough detail so that you are not left wondering how to respond to character actions.

As well as the actual missions, there are 'travelling encounters' that may be run when the party is in transit - interplanetary travel is quite slow and whilst it is OK for the characters to be bored, it is a good idea to keep the players entertained. There is also a Bestiary which covers any alien creatures mentioned in the adventure text, but which of course are available for use anywhere appropriate as well, and background notes on the Hastilion Expanse (it is suggested that you allow players to read these notes, most of this is general knowledge as far as the characters are concerned). For those interested in new character options, some are presented - you might want to make these available during character creation as there are three new xeno templates that would fit in quite well with this campaign. One is of a native species that will be encountered, you may prefer to hold that back against needing a replacement character when on their world, however. Notes are also provided about the corporate benefits available to loyal employees of Drake; and finally there's a bit of scene-setting fiction. Again, you may share this with the players, it doesn't give away any plot.

Whilst the material refers to the characters as 'mercenaries' I think they are more like 'corporate troubleshooters' in the nature of the work they are being asked to do. This has all the potential to develop into a truly epic campaign that will live on in a group's memory for years...

All I need now is some players!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Perilous Journey #15: Mission Alpha
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Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition FREE Open Beta
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/03/2014 09:12:20
Wondering what the much-vaunted Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition will be like? Never heard of Mutant Chronciles before? Pick this up and your questions will be answered and your appetite whetted for more.

Starting with an excellent thumb-nail sketch of what a 'dieselpunk techno-fantasy game is in the first place, there is a whistle-stop tour of the overall concept - a dystopian future in which Earth is well-nigh abandoned, humanity has colonised most of the rest of the solar system and are slowly realising that squabbling amongst themselves is not a good idea when you've got the awful power of the Dark Symmetry breathing down your neck - the timelines that will be explored in the new game and a primer detailing the major factions, mostly corporate nation states and a few other organisations. Then there is the setting itself: the main location being Luna City, that sprawls over a good half of Earth's Moon, along with the inner and outer portions of the solar system.

Scene set, it's time to dive right into a summary of the ruleset sufficient to let you have a go at the scenario that forms the bulk of this document. Basically each character has eight attributes, used to provide a target to roll under to accomplish a task. If the character has an appropriate skill, the number of ranks in that skill are added to the relevant attribute to form the target number. The roll, by the way, is made on 2d20, but each die counts separately giving an indication of how well he has done at his attempt. A natural 20 introduces a complication, even if the character has managed to do whatever he was trying to do; but if the result is a failure including a natural 20, that failure becomes critical! There's a bit more to it, of course, but this is the gist of it.

Initiative, turn order, combat actions, damage, wounds and healing are all dealt with before we come to a section on Weapons, Equipment and Gear. Oh, and due to the nature of the threats characters face, there's a piece on Mental Strain and Madness. There is then some information for budding GMs on how this game works, and then we get to the adventure, Straffar Gatan 39, in which the characters are cast as detectives in the Luna City PD answering an emergency call. Four suitable pre-generated characters are provided, and the scenario links in to an adventure that is in the pipeline, as well as beeing well-seeded with potential threads you can explore in your own adventures.

This is a game in which dark foreboding, tension and paranoia form a backdrop against which characters fight dark forces and (hopefully) save the day.... at least, until the next time. If this sort of weirdness appeals, dark near futures with things crawling out of the woodwork, madness lurking around the corner and a mish-mash of technolgocial advances and ancient knowledge, come try this out... and start getting excited about the release of the game in August 2014.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition FREE Open Beta
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The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby
Publisher: YSDC
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/01/2014 10:45:06
A most remarkable and strange adventure. Now, someone turning up on the investigators' doorstep and asking for help is quite normal. Even the poor fellow dropping dead before he manages to explain his problem is not completely out of the ordinary... but when what appear to be duplicate corpses start turning up all over town, then you KNOW something weird is going on!

Oh. All of the corpses have the party's address in their pocket. Just the thing to send nosy police officers round to visit.

This is a fast-moving rapidly escalating adventure that should keep the party on their toes. The book opens by revealing what is actually happening, and how it could so easily lead to Things That Should Not Be did the characters fail to deal with the problem. All the notes are laid out well, with clear indications of which skills might reveal the clues if the right questions are asked and the characters look in the right places: good use of the GUMSHOE rules mechanics that underpin Trail of Cthulhu. There's plenty of advice on how to deal with potential character actions too, as well as some gloriously atmospheric notes on the seedier parts of Soho in London, where the adventure is located.

The characters will have the opportunity to explore much of the underbelly of London as they chase down the plethora of clues provided. There's plenty for them to do - and plenty of potential contacts for them to make, should they ever be here again. It creates a good alternate reality, with lots going on apart from the matter the characters are investigating, yet keeping the current investigation firmly in centre stage. There is an end-note linking locations and other material in this adventure to the Trail of Cthulhu product Bookhounds of London, although you don't need to have it to make the most of this work.

This is an exciting and potentially deadly adventure that should keep the characters on their toes throughout.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby
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Lost Spells of Canthar - 10 Necromancies
Publisher: Lost Spheres Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2014 09:59:09
This is a neat selection of ten new spells from the School of Necromancy. The underlying story is of a lost ancient realn, Canthar, that was noted for the talents of its sorcerers... apparently in real life, this is a feature of the author's own campaign world, and it is a place where the brave and curious can discover new magicks. Now we too can share in them!

As befits necromantic spells, most of these are quite nasty. Some may even do harm to your alignment if you have aspirations to be good! Depending on the campaign, the GM may prefer to limit these - at least until a spellbook is found - to NPC necromancers.

One really nasty spell is Enfeeble - this reduces the target's strength and dexterity to such an extent that they can barely carry anything or even move, and requires significant healing magic to restore their abilities. Some of the spells enable the caster to either take over the body of an undead creature or to utilise its senses; while others create fear effects in their targets.

After reading this, you'll likely conclude that necromancers aren't very nice people... but you will also realise how potent they can be. A nice collection for your ever-growing spellbook.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Spells of Canthar - 10 Necromancies
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Modern Ruins 4
Publisher: DramaScape
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2014 08:55:55
If poking around long-ruined urban buildings is part of your story, this mapset provides a derelict city block to root around in. Don't be fooled by the quite complex-looking ruin on the front cover, the actual building is quite simple.

A nice point is that the roof has fallen in, so you have a clear view of the internal layout, as well as some stairways leading down into cellars or other depths below. There's also what appears to be a lift shaft and stairs that once led upwards.

The roads around show evidence of long-term neglect, overgrown and cracked.

A somewhat strange suggestion involving subterranean ants is provided as an adventure seed; but an investigation of a long-ago incident or some post-apocalyptic scavenging seems a more likely use for this map.

As always, there's an A4 overview map and a series of maps with hex, square and no grids for miniatures use. There's also a huge JPEG image for those who have access to professional print facilities or who use a virtual table top for their gaming.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Ruins 4
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Poprock - AoV Solo (M&M3e)
Publisher: Xion Studios
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/27/2014 12:25:02
Most people regard vengeance as a dish best tasted cold... not Poprock, born of an angry young girl burning to avenge her father's murder. Her main power is the ability to unleash the energy contained in items when she throws them - she carries a whole bunch of ballbearings for the purpose - backed up with an extreme talent at the martial art of capoiera. Her general athleticism also makes her good at parkour. Quite a heady mix for a budding super-powered character!

The backstory gives involvement with known supervillains, who helped her identify and harness her powers, but given other associates she could as easily be a superhero instead. As a teenager, she'd also fit well into any game involving young superpowered individuals.

This is a well-constructed character with plenty of potential however you decide to use her.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Poprock - AoV Solo (M&M3e)
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Libram of the First Language: Truename Magic Reborn
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/25/2014 07:06:12
In the beginning was the Word - and a truename studies that word, and all the others that came after, using the power inherent in such words to manipulate reality. Most outsiders think he's just another wizard, but he knows he's not: his power is derived in a completely different manner. A truenamer's source of power is his encyclopedic, or rather dictionarylike, knowledge of the First Language, also known as Truespeech, or so we are told here.

So what is this Truespeech? Basically it describes everything that is, was, and shall be - items and concepts alike. If you knew it all, you'd have complete control over, well, everything. It is impossible for any sentient mind to manage that, of course, but even limited knowledge confers great power. Philosophy aside, the game mechanics create a spell-like mode of operation, with the truenamer using 'recitations' to cause desired effects by articulating the change he wants to take place.

As the truenamer rises in level, he understands more and more and has access to a wider range of recitations, and the ability to cause more complex effects. To increase the range of effects, there's a sort of meta-recitation called inflexion - it's all in the way you say it, as well as what you say... however the universe itself is more resistant to some things than others, so some of these variants are harder to cause.

As well as the core character class, several archetypes are given: the orator, the truescribe and the verminspeaker. These explore different aspects of truespeech, and introduce greater variety as to what you can do with it. Feats that enhance your use of truespeech and (of course) a whole bunch of recitations themselves are also provided. Finally, there are some prestige classes for those that progress that far.

It's a whole new area of study, opening up new horizons, and yet working mechanically within established patterns so it is not so hard or unbalancing to introduce it into your game. A nice concept to add to the wealth of magical theory.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Libram of the First Language: Truename Magic Reborn
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The Genius Guide to More Barbarian Talents
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/24/2014 10:30:53
Piling option upon option, this work provides a whole host of 'talents' for barbarian characters. These talents are swapped in for the standard barbarian class features, on a one-for-one basis, with some being better suited for reserving until the barbarian gets up a few levels.

The introduction explains that they come in different categories: edges, talents, advanced talents and grand talents.

Then we move on to a closer look. Edges are fundamental to the barbarian's worldview and can be almost spiritual in nature. Talents are a bit more practical, and often reflect a closeness to nature or the innate talent for combat that most barbarians seem to have. Greater talents (presumably the same as 'advanced' ones, which seem to have disappeared by now!) and grand talents kick in at higher levels, but serve the same purpose as regular talents. In all cases, whenever the barbarian would qualify for a new class feature, he can take one of these instead. There are also some rage powers for those barbarians wishing to capitalise on that feature of their class.

While the main listings come under what category of ability they are, there's a very useful section which groups them all by theme: battle expertise (offensive or defensive), combat manoeuvres, craft and cunning, durability and resistance, mounts and animal companions, movement, perception, primitive and primal, rage and intimidation, shapeshifting, and spells and mysticism. This makes it easy to look for an appropriate one suited to your needs when working out your build path.

The various options are interesting and give plenty of scope for you to tailor a barbarian character to precisely what you want. If you enjoy optimising and configuring unique characters and play a barbarian, this is well worth a look.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to More Barbarian Talents
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[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Ayutthayan Monk
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2014 11:19:16
At first glance you might think, so what? This is just a re-write of the standard fantasy monk. Perhaps it is, but where it scores is that the entire underlying philosophy and history of the Ayutthayan monks is wound through the game mechanics rather than being bolted on as an afterthought to explain what that monk is doing in your fantasy campaign world where there might not really be any of the sort of traditions that underpin a classic oriental unarmed fighting style. (I remember way back in the 1980s playing a D&D Monk as a Chinese person perpetually confused with the standard 'cod-European' fantasy world in which he found himself...)

Here the opening text paints the scene of a single adventurer who retired to a life of contemplation, but was pestered by visitors... some of whom stuck around to become his first disciples, and who - being themselves proponents of different fighting styles - created what became several different strands of the same core martial philosophy. These strands are reflected in the options available as class features as the monk rises in level - the ones you choose chart your progress in your preferred style. Some are acquired by means of mystical tattoos, a beautiful and traditional touch.

The combat styles are based on Thai martial arts and are described well, enabling each monk to develop a coherent - and potentially devastating - combat style. There is also a selection of feats and an array of new weapons appropriate for ayutthayan monks, a new tactical manoeuvre called a Bone Break and a sample character to let you try out this class or just give you some ideas to get you going.

If you want to play a monk, this is a good way to go because of the coherent background philosophy that underpins the mechanics of the styles available. Pick it up, mix it in to your campaign world's history and you do not need to explain how you came to be.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Ayutthayan Monk
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One Knight Games, Vol 1, Issue 3
Publisher: Avalon Game Company
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/22/2014 12:24:57
A neat idea, and one that will have you on the edge of your seats for an evening: a game of racing motorcycles. Rules and character generation are simple by design, as you ought to be able to get this game up, running and completed within a single session with minimal preparation - indeed, it can almost be played without a referee (if the players don't squabble too much!).

The aim is that every player will be one of the racers, but there are other people around so those who want to take this concept and make more of it might take on such roles as support staff, race officials and so on. Played as written, however, there are a series of programmed events that will happen at certain points during the proceedings which make it a whole lot more exciting that just motorbikes racing around a track (and that can be exciting enough...).

The action takes place in two parts. There is a race, in which one player-character WILL be killed. That may sound tough, but it's at the heart of the adventure as a whole, because the second part involves another race several years later when the dead racer's child has grown up and comes to participate in their first race (played, of course, by the player of the dead cyclist).

Specific rules associated with bike racing are included, but the main rules are in a separate document: the core One Knight ruleset (it's included with your download) which is consistent across all One Knight Games.

This is a nice way to fill out a single gaming session, but future One Knight Games based on the cycle racing theme are planned, so even if using this model of gaming you will have the option of returning to the track. There is also the potential to take it all a bit further. The game is cyberpunk in style so if you are playing anything of that genre, cycle racing at the Cylon track might be a popular spectator sport and you could use this ruleset to moderate races. If characters in your 'main' game want to get involved in racing, well, you might choose to use the plotline as well, and either adapting your regular ruleset or using this one for specific race-related matters as you see fit.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
One Knight Games, Vol 1, Issue 3
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Enhanced Racial Guide: Bhriota
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/22/2014 09:53:14
Deeply embedded in the lore of the Shadows over Vathak setting, the bhriota are beastial and savage hominids, most of whom are irredeemably evil... not promising stock at all. They are tribal, with shamans who lead them in worship of the Old Ones and most view weakness of any kind as shameful. Those few who show any shreds of compassion generally find it politic to leave their tribal homes and seek their fortune elsewhere... becoming the small number of bhriota adventurers.

Full rules mechanical details are given for those who wish to play a bhriota. Large (often over 7' tall), with bonuses to strength and constitution and to Intimidate - due to their racial reputation - they present an interesting alternative to a pure barbarian character, and one which is embedded into the Shadows of Vathak setting. Those who do seek the adventuring lifestyle can follow most careers, often flavouring the chosen class with aspects of their tribal background - for example bhriota bards generally drum and recount tales from bhriota dark oral history. Many racial traits are available, mirroring different aspects of tribal custom and nature.

Next comes a collection of racial archetypes. The insane assailant is a barbarian archetype, whilst the savage huntsman is a ranger one. An esoteric binder is a strange summoner archetype and there is a witch doctor one based on the witch.... one with a penchant for pain and suffering. Other racial feats and campaign racial traits follow.

Bhriota also practise rune magic, and this is explained in detail. There are eight known rules than can be mastered, and although their effects are magical, runic lore may be studied by any class of character. Once a rune is mastered, a process that involves study and often a quest, it may be inscribed on an object permanently or 'improvised' on the fly to access the inherent powers associated with it. As well as the runes themselves, there are several associated feats.

Next comes a prestige class, the bhriota shaman, who employs curses, shamanistic dances, and herbal medicine and remedies to accomplish his ends. Their method of cursing is interesting. To gain the effect of a bestow curse spell, the shaman enacts a ritual naming the target and drives a nail into a special 'curse board' - and unlike the spell, this can target anyone known to the shaman who is on the same plane of existance... never mind having to touch them! Some other shamanistic powers are accessed by dancing, thus making it a quite unusual and spectacular class.

Bhriota equipment, weapons and magic items follow, and then there is a discussion of known tribes and their identifying characteristics... and their own specific tribal traits which may be taken by members of that tribe alone.

If you are using the Shadows of Vathak setting, this is a well-integrated race that will enhance your game. If you do not, but would like a savage and strange race to populate some dark corner of your world, this is a well-considered one that could prove an interesting challenge.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Enhanced Racial Guide: Bhriota
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Sathar Destroyer Technical Manual
Publisher: Frontier Explorer
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/21/2014 08:15:12
Whilst designed for use with the Star Frontiers RPG originally published by TSR, the Sathar Destroyer would make an excellent alien vessel whatever ruleset you are using.

The first part describes the general style of the vessel, which is built by and for a race called the Sathar. If you need to know who they are, consult Frontier Explorer Magazine #6, which is available for free download here, although if you use this as a derelict alien ship to be explored, it is not so important to know about its original owners. The whole appearance is 'alien' and hints are given as to how to convey this to the party. The whole layout, too, reflects an alien philosophy and approach to life rather neatly.

This section is followed by an overall plan and detailed deck plans for each level. These are reference plans for referee use, there are also full plans - at a size suitable for miniatures or counters if you use them - provided as part of the download. Here, though, there are descriptions and notes on what is to be found where.

There's a short section on ancillary vessels - work pods, shuttles - and robots that are carried (which may or may not be present if a derelict destroyer is to be discovered; and then comes a section on shipboard life - assuming that the Sathar are there to enjoy it. A couple of pictures show you want they look like.

Overall, this is an interesting ship with a genuinely alien feel to it. Particular features are the low ceilings (1.5m), rounded corners on everything, the use of 'pool beds' for sleeping, relaxation and acceleration couches, and the fact that you cannot reach all parts of the ship - being a caste-based society, they see no need for interaction over and above basic communications between different areas. A spot of proofreading would have helped, but you can generally work out what was intended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sathar Destroyer Technical Manual
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Supplement 16: Adventure Seeds
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2014 12:52:05
This is something that any Traveller referee needs to keep handy. Not only is it a practical way to get out of trouble if the party decides to go somewhere unanticipated leaving you without anything prepared that's suitable for wherever they went, it can also help spark ideas when you are planning adventures in the normal manner.

It is divided into three sections: Patrons, Plots and Rendez-vous. The first two are pretty obvious, the third is a collection of locations to use with your patrons and plots (or indeed in anything else you have planned).

The Patrons section begins with a swift overview of what you need to have in hand for a good adventure - boiled down to the '4 Ps' of Plots, People, Places and Props. It gives good advice about how to make your NPCs come to life for the party, how to make them into individual people rather than clone Barkeep #7 or Gangster #17. Then there's a wonderful collection of '36 Dramatic Situations' which you may choose or roll 2d6 on a table for... any could provide the meat for at least a single adventure if not a whole campaign. Each one states what is needed - people, other plot devices, etc. - and gives an example in a couple of sentences. Then there's advice on mixing different situations together to create something even more exciting than one on its own, and then how to cope when the party doesn't do what you'd intended them to do... a frequent occurance, at least in my games.

Oh, and then we get on to the actual Patrons! Each one is presented in the standard format with a notes as to requirements in terms of the skills and equipment that the party will need, the actual task - as both player and referee information, so it's clear even if you are in a hurry what you actually tell the party - and a selection of twists and outcomes you can either roll a d6 on or pick the one that takes your fancy. Even a quick glance shows that the various situations are very inventive and will feel like well-thought-out adventures from the player side of the table.

And there's more: a collection of 'situations' where events overtake the party and they'll have to deal with them before getting on with whatever adventure they're engaged in, 'elaborations' where there's a whole bunch of detailed material that will make their lives interesting (and occasionally even profitable as well), and 'starport chatter' - a collection of news items and rumours that can fly around any starport, it's up to you if they are meaningful or just background colour. Finally, there is a selection of 'world seeds' which are little nuggets of information you can throw in to make a particular planet sound that little bit more interesting.

Next up, Plots. This contains even more classic patron encounters, all interesting and repleate with potential. There are also some 'introductions' which are designed to bring something - that may feature in an upcoming adventure - to the party's attention, such as a brawl breaking out in the starport concourse between two groups or factions at least one of which they will be getting involved with in the future. A neat idea. Advertisements, red herrings (things which sound profitable but probably are not), a selection of personal ads and 'gimmicks' - strange and sometimes useful items they may see or someone might attempt to sell to them. A collection of Library Data rounds off this section.

And so we come to the Rendez-vous section. This is a vast collection of locations in which you can set part of the action, or use in any other way that seems appropriate. Beginning with a note on adapting these locations - basically all designed for standard 'human' space - to alien settings, it launches into listings categorised by type: accommodation, restaurants and bars, entertainment, emergency services, sites of interest, shops, education, services and the nooks and crannies of starports themselves. For each location, there's a name, a description and notes on associated costs, NPCs likely to be there and suggestions for things that might happen there over and above whatever reason has brought the party there in the first place. Oh, and one location - Flashing Blades in the entertainment section - is derived from a place I invented in the course of an adventure I wrote for BITS many, many years ago. Good to see that it is still going strong!

However inventive you might be, you will still find ideas that can improve your game. Definitely one to add to the collection.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 16: Adventure Seeds
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Heroes of the Siwathi Desert
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/19/2014 13:03:14
Fancy visiting (or coming from) a nice warm desert region?

Here you will find a whole bunch of things to aid you in creating a truly fantastical desert setting within your campaign world - much is transferrable to any campaign world, even if you don't want to use Porphyra. There are notes about using the material in the Porphyra campaign setting which enhance it further.

First up are new player-character races suitable for the desert environment. The anpur - upright bipedal furry creatures, gnolls (OK, not new but not normally found as PCs) and zendiqi, who are desert-adapted aboriginal humans. Then there are the elemental kin, seriously different and quite unusual.

Next is an overview of the Siwathi Desert itself - history, government, settlements... and a nice map. Most settlements are fairly small, the largest (the Tent-City of the Grand Wazir) being some 4,000 souls. Each has some flavour text, a stat block and quite a lot of detail to help you bring it to life.

This is followed by a selection of archetypes, class features and prestige classes that are appropriate to denizens of the desert. One interesting prestige class is the Five Spirits Master who basically is a guru of mystical martial arts based around the elements and passed on by the genies to a favoured few. There are new feats and spells too, and some sample characters.

Useful to anyone venturing out into the desert is some new equipment, other things are ones you will only find there (like a clockwork chess player). Those who are familiar with the Dune series of novels will recognise the wind trap and the zilzala (a 'thumper' like those used for calling worms on Arakis). There are also some magical items which could make an interesting addition to a treasure hoard, even one far away from the desert. This section ends with comprehensive price lists for just about everything required for the well-equipped desert explorer.

Finally, the rules - and even a game board - for a popular desert game, Arbakampsi. It is a gambling, territorial game of two sides. Put simply, each player states a number before rolling a die, and the number of tokens he may place depends on both the stated number and the die roll. The tokens are placed according to strict rules, and the objective is to cover more squares with your tokens than your opponent can. One of those games it takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Whilst it's explained how to actually play it, an abstraction for those who don't want to play it out might have been helpful.

If you like deserts in general, or want to incorporate the Siwathi Desert, this is rather good.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Siwathi Desert
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