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Battlemaps: Nevermore Manor
Publisher: Emerald Press
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/11/2011 17:39:56
For a moment I thought this might be a setting fantasy role-playing, but the presence of a piano reminds us that this is suitable for gothic horror (... quoth the Raven?).
This is a fine showcase example of the Dunjinni Map editor, but for those not wishing to purchase the editor, or those in a rush, it's a bumper bargain battlemat. :)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Battlemaps: Nevermore Manor
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Untold 2-D: L'na Starter Set
Publisher: Ignitus Innovation
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/11/2011 16:38:54
I'm not an expert on the Untold system, but I know a bargain when I see one (1USD reduced to 75cents at time of typing). Many of these, very easy to assemble, minis and counters would be perfect for non-humanoid encounters in fantasy and sci-fi RPGs. Especially appropriate for novice modellers. Dramatic art. Colour and greyscale options. Good quality.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Untold 2-D: L'na Starter Set
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Parsely #1: Action Castle
Publisher: Memento Mori Theatricks
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/08/2011 19:04:30
I just can't work out if Memento Mori Theatricks have pulled the fastest retro nostalgia scam on us or that they are a bunch of geniuses!
Despite my initial concerns of "How do I convince anyone to sit down and play this with me?", "How do I even describe it?" they've really hit on something here. The problem is that you've just got to take the risk and spend those 99 cents, because these games might completely save a rainy afternoon (or a power cut - outage).
Put away everything you've learned about using dice, stats, DMing or story telling and let the brutal logic of long forgotten insufferable computer games guide you to your death.
This is definitely a new niche. The good news is that you don't have to wait for a piece of paper to load. The bad news is that its a return to the hell of early computer games.
In summary, Memento Mori must be stopped!
But first you must LIGHT TORCH and GO UP ...
If this is your thing it's a bargain. If not ... well, how are you going to find out? You could be missing out on the next new (retro old school?) thing.
I was going to say 4 out of 5, but I'm worried that the other reviewers here know something I don't, and the PDF download will detonate and turn my computer into PET or 286 or something ...
So 5/5 for originality, value, humour and guts!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Parsely #1: Action Castle
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Survival Horror Set 6: Unstoppable
Publisher: DARKMOOK Paper Miniatures
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2011 11:03:42
The room diorama brings a really nice touch to the set. This set makes me want to invent table-top versions of House of the Dead and Resident Evil – or just start playing one of the several survival horror zombie shooter games. I really like the crisp style graphics.
Most of the figures could also be used in sci-fi scenarios – the mercenary figures have a generic tech-swat look.
Summary: Ace.
Watch out for the “crawlers”! :o

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Survival Horror Set 6: Unstoppable
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Lexicon of Traps
Publisher: Ennead Games
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/16/2011 13:13:43
Years ago I read a copy of GrimTooth's Traps. It was a difficult experience, because although funny, it seemed to mainly provide the DM with ways in which to extinguish characters which then had to be explained at length because of the mechanical complexity of death dealing gears. Instant kills can be bad enough without being further marred by an argument amongst players about logical engineering.

The traps listed in this book are more forgiving (depending upon the levels of punishment the DM feels the PCs deserve) and suited to a skills checks and some puzzle solving – nearly all the traps are “scalable”. Many of the traps are based on simple concepts and themes which means that they can be adapted to many situations. Some traps may resemble those already found in rulebooks but that doesn't detract from the numerous original traps. The categorisation of different traps works well for ease of reference.

On a first read some of my favourites are the Midas Door (sorry, no spoilers), Room of Silence ("Trigger: any noise above a whisper") and Washing Machine. The latter is wonderfully silly and illustrates that every once in any list of traps there's cruel humour and mockery of the mundane.

Even trap-jaded DMs will appreciate the later sections in this publication which include trap finding feats, skills, spells and equipment along with the Prestige Class of Trap Master.

Much of this publication is tailored towards d20 mechanics, and is therefore very applicable to many rulesets. As the author points out it can be used more generically. It's just if you don't play d20 games you might need to know that "DC of 25" means "difficult" - but it's pretty easy to get the gist when you see a scale of numbers.

I would preferred some illustrations to have been included, even just the odd picture of wounded PCs -but at 1.99 this well above value for money.

I’m looking forward to seeing more Lexicons from this publisher.

Recommended purchase (for sadist DMs). :)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lexicon of Traps
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City Slices I: Marketplace Fun
Publisher: Escape Velocity Gaming
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2011 12:14:50
City Slices Marketplace Fun is marvellously rich tome with well thought out encounters and situations which at first glance to PCs would appear mundane, but after the briefest chat with any innocuous NPC the players will soon realise that there’s many layers to these onions, with mini-games, adventure leads and skill challenges.
This is a very accessible document. Most of the pages are self-contained encounters, allowing the DM to print off single pages to put amongst their own notes -without raising too much suspicion that this would be any more than a normal trip into town for the PCs.

It’s tailored for 4E gaming but I’m guessing that it could be adapted to be used as part of a Pathfinder campaign, different editions of D&D, and most fantasy games, perhaps with some skills tweaking. The traders mentioned don’t have stats, but have enough background for a DM to elaborate on the basics if needs be.

Not wishing to reveal too much about the product, there’s some very refreshing takes on familiar locations and activities. One game “Frog n Flies” involves physically throwing the dice around in some sort of surreal boules game. On the very next page is a superb sub-quest /encounter in which the players are sent to purchase exclusive items from a list for an emperor, which is also a great way to get the players familiar with the layout of a new city.

From rats on sticks snacks to poison in bottles, from the interesting to the practical (practical to dungeoneering warriors, that is) there really is something for any campaign or urban adventure, with many opportunities for role-playing and non-combat skills checks.

In my opinion this product may also be of some use in historical settings or even more contemporary, exotic settings – a Cairo bazaar perhaps (providing you alter references to elves and dwarves, and mammoth furs… of course).

I’m looking forward to more from this series. Ace.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City Slices I: Marketplace Fun
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Vexing Sands
Publisher: Escape Velocity Gaming
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2011 10:20:00
I was the artist on this product, so my bias will be clear *grin* but I strongly believe we need to average out the rating on this product, because for starters, it's superb value for money.

I believe people forget that when they look at 16 pages of print and illustration, that it somehow it's just that. Excellent adventures hooks text aside, this set is tailored so that that tile sets are repeatable. The background desert can be printed at infinite number of times to cover a whole floor or gaming table. Many of the individual cut-out pieces can be used in a selection of settings: Indy Jones style pulp fantasy or Call of Cthullu, Star Trek away - forts and deserts, oases, obelisks. Historical warfare would also not be out of place (we're selling this at the Wargaming Vault I hope as well ;) )

For an example of large layout I recommend that the anybody interested in buying takes a little browse of these photos on flickr:
http://bit.ly/vex_photos
(copy and paste into your address bar)

I leapt at the chance to work with the talented writers of EVG who are fond of my old-school style illustration. I am more proud of this piece than I am of some of my own publications at Inked Adventures (which is saying something!).

May your players survive or perish, but at least in the process enjoy the scenery. :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vexing Sands
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The Gamers’ Guide to Tabletop Role-playing Genres
Publisher: Roleplayers Chronicle
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2011 09:51:04
I'm a bit of a fan of the Roleplayers Chronicle website http://roleplayerschronicle.com/ because it's manager and the author of this publication has clearly been immersed in a pile of RPG products for some time, or at least knows what's what or when it's happening.

For some older role-players, like myself, the modern gaming world is a baffling place - much like walking into a music shop after a decade away, you just have no idea whenever you'd like something or not, or even what the new categories mean.

With RPGs many discussions on the web are focussed primarily on game mechanics, but often, not far away, are discussions regarding setting and "genre". This publication deals with the latter in detail and yet is a perfect skim-read introduction for the busy DM. It's a good read because not only does Mr Huss outline the core categories of gaming genre (Fantasy, Sci-fi, Horror, for example) and identifies well used sub-catergoes (High-Fantasy, Cyberpunk etc.) but he digs further and separates games into more exacting sub-genres (meta-genres?) like "Dark Fantasy PostApocalyptic", "Modern Psychosis", "Zombie / Undead", "Heroic Pulp", "Clockwork", the list goes on.

With so many game publications, old and new, the author does not claim that his lists of example games are definitive (I found myself adding a few games but then realised that they had been long out of print). Many of the publishers of the games he does mention have their websites included in an appendix, which is very useful if you want to find out more about a range. For me hyperlinks in a document justify the use of PDF as a format, also the page layout is landscape, making better use of the computer monitor as a reading medium. That didn't stop me printing off a copy to read in bed, but I hear that's also what i-pads are for … ;)
The illustrations are nice too - reassuring bookmarks, if you get lost. :)

So if you unsure whether or not you or your player friends would like an Anime game, Storytelling, a Space Western or Gothic Horror this is certainly the document for you. It's also a great value read for collectors and the "just curious".

In summary: a well thought out document - positively educational!
*grin* I plan to show off with some of my new found knowledge.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gamers’ Guide to Tabletop Role-playing Genres
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Khara Khang's Random Rainbow Maze
Publisher: Flying Buffalo
by Billiam B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/26/2010 12:28:01
This is a really nice little adventure from the Troll Lord himself.
It's difficult to write a full review without cheating and reading sections I haven't reached yet. I've been killed a couple of times so far, so I recommend taking in a delver with a pretty hefty weapon.
It appears adaptable to most of the T&T rules editions (I'm 5th edition fan currently playing 7.5)
Ken St. Andre has an informal style that lets you get straight into the exploring and dice rolling action.
It may appear appear to be a small solo, but it's a living mini universe you're purchasing for your $3. Remember that solo games are a form of magic - it's a bargain considering that you're actually teleported to the Rainbow maze without need of batteries or a broadband connection or a Star Gate!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Khara Khang's Random Rainbow Maze
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Monsters!Monsters!
Publisher: Flying Buffalo
by Billiam B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/26/2010 12:18:53
Although I'm not sure I'd actually ever get around to playing this, Monsters! Monsters! is a fascinating purchase filled with many gems and easter eggs for Tunnels and Trolls players. The text is witty, informal and chaotically refreshing. Print it out and read it before bed. Enjoy the Liz Danforth sketches. Let the text alter you mind slightly and question what what it is that Monsters get out of raiding rural villages (a village is included with many stated NPCs) - transport yourself to a mind set where the human/demi-human village is a pillageble "dungeon". Revel in the brutal stupidity of Uruks and Trolls, whilst meditating on the pure evil of the truly demonic villains.
A great read. Wicked b/w art. A fascinating insight into early RPGs and their development potential.
Thanks for making this available. :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters!Monsters!
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Design Elements: Stone
Publisher: Sade
by Billiam B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/26/2010 12:07:08
This set is very versatile and professional. It is an absolute bargain for home publishers to finish off their sets, if only for one framed header or a paragraph divider.

Sade is able to take familiar swirls and weaves style designs (similar to old b/w clip art ) and masterfully upgrade them with beautiful effects for the modern document.

Designs like these or what hi-def screens and printers were made for! :)
Go on, add a little stone and gem to your parchment!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Design Elements: Stone
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QUERP - 2nd Edition
Publisher: Greywood Publishing
by Billiam B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/26/2010 11:57:57
This game is the very definition of "pick up and play" fantasy role playing. It will appeal to players of games with simple universally adaptable common-sense mechanics (like T&T, Fighting Fantasy-AFF or scaled down rule systems, WHQ). The beauty of systems like these is that it is also very easy to modify the rules to suit a campaign or special setting. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon dungeon crawl.

The layout is slick, professional and easy on the eye.
Ace.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
QUERP - 2nd Edition
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TrollsZine
Publisher: Flying Buffalo
by Billiam B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/26/2010 11:49:57
An essential, informative and fun download for Tunnels & Trolls gamers - old and new. :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TrollsZine
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Stars Without Number: Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Billiam B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/06/2010 19:12:24
This game combines many of the best elements of other games (old and new) and comes up with a consistent background which justifies psionics, and planets with differing tech levels. Claustrophobic and vast. Technological and gritty. Moody with optimistic ambition. A really nice selection of illustrations set the tone. It's probably as rewarding to play this game as it is to read. Nice one, SN publishing! - D20 meets old Traveller meets Cyberpunk, in an existential universe where survival may depend upon hidden gifts. Love it!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Free Edition
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Tunnels & Trolls v7.5
Publisher: Fiery Dragon
by Billiam B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/21/2010 04:58:51
(Okay, I know I give high ratings to most of the products I've been reviewing, but I only review the stuff I really like)
My T&T 5th edition is one of my most cherished possessions, it was hard to see if it could be matched.
After some encouragement from the folks at Vin's Trollbridge forum, I took the plunge and bought this, which is currently a bargain for what you get ($15).
It's a great read for old gamers and new gamers alike. It looks very playable (and I refute the notion that T&T should perceived as an "introductory" game)
The Monster Rating and saving throw system and is still beautiful simple, allowing DMs/GMs/referees to create rich challenges with minimal effort. The rulebook is totally "complete", but the addition of the extra books is a plus. The newer rules are strangely refreshing and well thought through.
I wish I'd had this as a boxed set but the PDF is the next best thing.
T&T Forever! :)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tunnels & Trolls v7.5
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