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Hollow Earth Expedition RPG
Publisher: Exile Game Studio
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:53:53
Absolutely fantastic pulp game. I have both the pdf and print copies and both are of excellent quality and are fine additions to my library of games.

There's a newer 6x9 print edition of it available now too which packs a lot of awesome into a convenient size!

If you are at all interested in the pulp genre you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hollow Earth Expedition RPG
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BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:47:50
I'm ashamed it took me so long to get back to RPGNow to review this one.

This is the best rules lite fantasy game I've ever had the pleasure of playing. The rules are damned easy to grok and their use in play is intuitive and fast. There's an included setting but honestly you could use this game to run just about any fantasy setting you can imagine.

Very highly recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
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Azamar the RPG
Publisher: Wicked North Games
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:44:21
Excellent D6 fantasy game!

Wicked North Games continues to deliver excellent D6 gaming products with their releases. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Azamar the RPG
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A Bigger Problem
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:30:56
An excellent adventure for BareBones Fantasy. This is a short 16 page module that would serve well as an introductory romp for a new group just getting into the game. Almost no prep time is required to run this fun adventure.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Bigger Problem
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Covert Ops Role Playing Game
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2014 18:22:31
More excellent gaming goodness courtesy of DWD Studios!

This particular version is highly recommended as you get the Core Rules, the GM's Operation Manual and The Usual Suspects all in one handsomely presented hard bound book. That said, you really can't go wrong with any of the options.

There's a ton of material here and everything is open enough that you can run all types of spy/thriller/espionage games without ever needing another book.

These guys continue to deliver a heck of a gaming punch by releasing games that are easy on the budget while providing an unbelievable amount of very high quality content.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out BareBones Fantasy too. It's an excellent fantasy game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Covert Ops Role Playing Game
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Schweig's Themed Dungeon Generator
Publisher: Griffon Publishing Studio
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/24/2013 19:14:04
I had the pleasure of playtesting an early version of this product. This is a fantastic dungeon generator that gives you the tools to create a themed delve with escalating encounters. You populate the generator with your own content which gives you a great deal of control over the results, but not at the expense of sacrificing randomness which makes it perfect for solo play.

The generator works with any system and is versatile enough to facilitate play in multiple genres. Even though it's presented as a fantasy dungeon generator, I used it to play a solo sci fi game with almost no modification. It's also easy to introduce different 'win conditions' if you want to focus on solo games that have goal oriented structures.

While I've only used it for solo games, there's nothing to stop you from using it as a prep tool for group games.

This is a great gaming accessory at a great price. If you're interested in solo gaming or just want a well designed tool for session prep, you can't go wrong picking this one up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Schweig's Themed Dungeon Generator
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Adventurers!
Publisher: GRAmel
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/25/2013 18:48:17
Adventurers! is a six page rules light game that is written by Umberto Pignatelli (who wrote the excellent Beasts and Barbarians setting for Savage Worlds) and published by GRAmel. The game is split up into three pdf’s that are each two landscape oriented pages. You also get a nice image file of the attractive cover in the zipped file from RPGNow. This first release is presented as a fantasy game and the skills, gear and powers included are all appropriate for the genre.

The first of the three pdf’s is the Player’s Guide. which is split up into eleven boxes that walk you through character creation and explain task resolution and combat. You also get information about character advancement, recovery (healing), skills, gear, powers and a few optional rules.

The second pdf is the GM’s Guide which is divided into eight sections and offers advice for running the game. Areas covered include awarding experience, hazards (weather, poison, fire, etc.), and a bestiary. There’s also advice for personalizing the game to suit your groups needs.

The final pdf is a character sheet, in duplicate.

This is a very cool, stream lined game in an efficiently presented package. The core mechanic is 2D6+ related stat +/- a difficulty modifier (which ranges from -4 for difficult tasks to +4 for easy ones). Any roll of seven or higher is a success. Everything else in the game is very modular, meaning that it’s a simple matter to make changes to suit your preferred setting or theme without breaking the resolution system. In fact, the game encourages this type of tinkering and even offers advice for customization. GRAmel plans to publish additional two page settings for Adventurers! and considering the design approach they’ve taken I think it’s likely we’ll see other genre’s in the future.

Adventurers! is a great example of a game with a very small footprint that still offers robust options and a surprisingly tinkerer friendly set of rules. Character creation took me about ten minutes and despite the spartan package, I felt like I had everything I needed to run a very well rounded game. This would be a great game to introduce new players to RPG’s and the $1.50 price tag is a heck of a gaming bargain. Conversely, experienced players and GM’s will find plenty to appreciate here as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what Umberto and GRAmel have in store for Adventurers!

Originally posted at www.solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurers!
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Marchland
Publisher: Hearthstone Games
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/13/2013 22:15:57
For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's, please visit my blog at www.solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

Marchland is a 172 page modern fantasy setting book for Savage Worlds that mixes a familiar modern world with magic, mysticism and fae mythology. The book is published by Hearthstone Games and includes both an attractive full color pdf version as well as a printer friendly pdf.

The setting evokes a Dresden Files feel though it shares even more DNA with Changeling: The Dreaming. In fact, the overall approach is very much reminiscent of the early World of Darkness books in that the game world is very similar to our own but is slightly off. Most of earth's denizens are oblivious to the magical goings on around them and the player characters are immersed in the majesty of a world that is much more rich and fantastic than it would seem on the surface.

To be clear, and fair, this isn't just a facsimile of either of those properties with the serial numbers filed off. There has been a good amount of work done to establish a unique world and the setting offers a lot of original material for both GM's and players to explore. Hearthstone Games has created a city called Brighton Bay that serves as a central hub for the setting and there's plenty of great stuff here to run interesting games for a long time. Furthermore, the book delves deeply into Faery groups and culture and offers a robust amount of information about them. The setting's writer, Mark Woodside, first divides them up into the European Fae and the native American Manitou, and then further explores them from there.

It should be noted that if you just wanted to use the material in Marchland to run a Dresden or Changeling game, you'd be in good shape!

Marchland, while fully compatible with core Savage Worlds, does make a few changes in an effort to create a unique feel for the setting. The magic system shrugs off Power Points in favor of a casting modifier and the character creation section is much more robust to account for the creation of unique Fae and Revenant (ghost) player characters.

This is a cool setting. There'a a lot to like and despite the fact that there are a ton of SW settings Hearthstone Games has succeeded in filling a void in the Savage Worlds lineup. Even if you don't want to use the book as a complete setting, you'll find plenty here to mull over and enrich your setting. This one is definitely worth a look!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marchland
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Beasts of the Dominions
Publisher: GRAmel
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/17/2012 06:26:03
Please visit www.solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com for more great articles and reviews!

Beasts of the Dominions is the newest release by Umberto Pignatelli for his excellent Savage Worlds Sword and Sorcery setting, Beasts and Barbarians.

This book is unique in that it offers a look at 10 different adversaries culled from all over the Dread Sea Dominions. The approach showcases different regions while presenting details on the listed monsters. Each entry in this 116 page title also offers an adventure where the focal point revolves around the enemy and geography presented. This gives the game master plenty of material for either running as is or using as inspiration for home brewed games.

The list of adversaries ranges from new unique monsters to well worn staples of the fantasy genre. While the new monsters are interesting and fun, the familiar faces manage to root the book in the tried and true sword and sorcery milieu without ever feeling derivative. In addition to S&S classics, I was often reminded of David Eddings’ Belgariad and Robin Hood while reading the book. These reference points were welcome and represent one of the things that makes Beasts and Barbarians so great – it doesn’t forget where it comes from.

The book concludes with some player facing material that offers information on playing a Disciple of the Black Temple as well as a section that offers GM advice on incorporating Disciple characters into his/her game.

This book represents a fantastic value for fantasy enthusiasts. If you are already playing Beasts and Barbarians you can pull multiple sessions of material from Beasts of the Dominions. If you aren’t playing B&B there’s nothing to stop you from using BotD for any Savage Worlds fantasy game. Once again Umberto does a great job offering much more than just combat encounters. There are all sorts of fun story elements and plenty of opportunities for non combat situations.

I always look forward to new B&B releases and this book doesn’t disappoint. It’s worth noting that customers who had previously purchased B&B from RPGNow got an email with a customer loyalty discount. This is a great way to thank fans!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts of the Dominions
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Hostile Takeover
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2012 04:16:17
For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's please visit my blog at http://solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

Hostile Takeover is a 41 page supplement for Gun Metal Games excellent cyberpunk setting, Interface Zero. The book focuses on adding elements of corporate intrigue, politics, policy and power plays to a campaign. It is divided into two sections – the first is designated as “The New Employee Handbook” for players, and the second is titled “The Policy and Procedure Manual” for Gamemaster’s.

The player’s section is written as if it were a manual for a new hire at a corporation. It contains information for understanding the setting and has advice for using the standard Savage Worlds mechanics in a way that is stylistically consistent with the genre. There are also new Hindrances and Edges for players to choose from that reinforce the setting (I got a kick out of the “Non Disclosure Agreement” hindrance).

The GM’s section, as you’d expect, has a lot of advice for introducing corporate play into Interface Zero. Early on it talks about avoiding turning your game into an office simulator, which I found interesting and helpful since, to me, that seems the quickest way to kill the fun factor of the setting. There are entries on running different types of corporate style games, as well as a detailed section on creating unique companies that have a sense of character. There is also an excellent chapter called “Murder in the Board Room” that shows you how to use common Savage Worlds mechanics (chases, mass battles, etc..) in new ways that emulate different facets of the genre (like using the mass battle rules to resolve a corporate takeover). This approach is very creative and keeps with the classic Savage Worlds idea of trappings. The book is end capped with a list of common NPC’s that your player’s are likely to encounter in an office environment.

This is a cool book and a pretty neat idea. On the surface, the prospect of role playing in an office sounds painfully dull. This book had the challenge of refuting that idea and it does so quite well. Presentation, like all Gun Metal Games releases, is stellar. Layout is well done and the whole book is very polished. This title is well dressed, ready for business and bleeding cool.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hostile Takeover
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Hael: Night of the Long Fangs
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/14/2012 12:26:12
For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's please visit my blog at http://solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

I reviewed the Hael Core Book a few weeks back in a previous post. Storyweaver released a couple of adventures around the same time the core book came out and just today uploaded their soundtrack to the Hael universe to RPGNow. It’s awesome that this setting just came out and there is already so much great support material.

Adventures

Night of the Long Fangs and Burning Bridges (16 and 17 pages respectively) are both presented with Storyweaver’s “Game in a Can” label on their covers. They are both unique sandbox style location based adventures that share a common design structure. The framework is actually very reminiscent of modern console and computer RPG’s (in a good way!). You are given a location that is well mapped out and each page in the books presents a different area of interest in that location. Along with flavor text you get information on NPC’s, stat blocks, story hooks and rumors. Each NPC has their own seemingly independent plot hooks that tie into one grand overarching tale. With this structure it’s just a matter of letting the players explore the area and interact with the populace. I like the way these books are presented very much and they do an amazing job of offering interesting stories without railroading you into clunky plot dependencies that break progress if missed. You can’t beat the value either since Night of the Long Fangs is a very reasonable $3.95 and Burning Bridges is free!

As I said above, it’s fantastic that there’s already excellent support material for Hael. I wasn’t familiar with the old D20 incarnation of the setting so I don’t know if these books are new material or revised and re-released stuff but really it’s irrelevant. I hope to see more of the “Game in a Can” releases soon and I’m really liking the music too. It seems like Storyweaver has great priorities as far as support for their products is concerned.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hael: Night of the Long Fangs
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Hael: Burning Bridges
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/14/2012 12:25:49
For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's please visit my blog at http://solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

I reviewed the Hael Core Book a few weeks back in a previous post. Storyweaver released a couple of adventures around the same time the core book came out and just today uploaded their soundtrack to the Hael universe to RPGNow. It’s awesome that this setting just came out and there is already so much great support material.

Adventures

Night of the Long Fangs and Burning Bridges (16 and 17 pages respectively) are both presented with Storyweaver’s “Game in a Can” label on their covers. They are both unique sandbox style location based adventures that share a common design structure. The framework is actually very reminiscent of modern console and computer RPG’s (in a good way!). You are given a location that is well mapped out and each page in the books presents a different area of interest in that location. Along with flavor text you get information on NPC’s, stat blocks, story hooks and rumors. Each NPC has their own seemingly independent plot hooks that tie into one grand overarching tale. With this structure it’s just a matter of letting the players explore the area and interact with the populace. I like the way these books are presented very much and they do an amazing job of offering interesting stories without railroading you into clunky plot dependencies that break progress if missed. You can’t beat the value either since Night of the Long Fangs is a very reasonable $3.95 and Burning Bridges is free!

As I said above, it’s fantastic that there’s already excellent support material for Hael. I wasn’t familiar with the old D20 incarnation of the setting so I don’t know if these books are new material or revised and re-released stuff but really it’s irrelevant. I hope to see more of the “Game in a Can” releases soon and I’m really liking the music too. It seems like Storyweaver has great priorities as far as support for their products is concerned.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hael: Burning Bridges
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Hael Soundscapes - Untamed Sounds
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/14/2012 12:22:12
For full review of Hael products and discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's, please visit my blog at http://solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com/

Hael Soundscapes – Untamed Sounds

Untamed Sounds is a collection of music for use during games. There are six tracks of music (plus a 7th bonus introduction track) that are designed to provide background ambiance for a variety of game situations. The songs are titled according to how they are connected to the Hael setting and they provide music for battles and other common game events. The production values are very high and stylistically the music would be appropriate for most any fantasy setting. (While writing this I kept wanting to write “Album”…. getting old….)

It’s fantastic that there’s already excellent support material for Hael. It seems like Storyweaver has great priorities as far as support for their products is concerned.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hael Soundscapes - Untamed Sounds
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for the wonderful review Michael. We really appreciate all the support of our fans! We plan to release some additional tracks for Rapture in the near future as well, plus (if all goes well) some sci-fi tracks for the upcoming High-Space game!
Judgment Day (Expanded Edition)
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2012 23:35:22
For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's please visit my blog at http://solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

Like the expanded edition of Mercenary Breed, another of Mystical Throne Entertainment’s mini settings, this new iteration of Judgment Day is a refined and improved version of an already cool product. I reviewed the original release of Judgment Day previously so I won’t bother rehashing what I already wrote. What I will do is talk about what’s new in this expanded edition.

Beyond the additional new content, which I’ll discuss in a minute, the greatest improvement in this expanded release is a seemingly intangible thing – focus. The original book had a lot of great material for incorporating inquisitional organizations into a setting. The information as presented was well done but it lacked a unique sense of character – which is where this expanded edition comes in. Probably the most obvious improvement is the art. Everything from the excellent new cover to the B&W interior art evokes a unique horror element that wasn’t present in the original release. While the Inquisition is still the structural framework for games in Judgment Day, the presentation has taken on a decidedly darker lovecraftian feel which is exactly what this book needed. The original release mentioned the Cthulhu Mythos in passing but there’s something to be said for the stylistic consistency the expanded edition brings to the table. In addition to the art, the presentation has been tweaked to make this book feel less like an off shoot of MTE’s Savage Insider and more like its own product (like what was done with Mercenary Breed).

Content wise there are quite a few updates and changes. Much of the text has been reworked and rewritten and organizational structure is much improved. Also of note is a new section titled “Inquisitor’s Retinue” that lists options for characters being recruited for inquisitional jobs or missions. The section is of particular interest to me because it mentions supernatural recruits, which is an option that was not available in the first release – its inclusion here is very welcome.

The book also has an expanded bestiary that is organized by target type. There are sections on aliens, beasts, demons, dragons, ghosts, vampires and witches. This is an awesome addition since I lamented the fact that monsters, like were-tigers, were mentioned in the first book but not included in the bestiary. That omission has been rectified in spades in this new expanded edition and MTE has done a great job of making sure you’ll have plenty of nasties for your players to hunt (or be eaten by….).

Another area that has been reworked is the adventure generator. While Judgment Day includes a light weight Dresden-esque modern horror setting to use right out of the box, the book truly shines as a toolkit for building your own game setting. Aaron T. Huss, the mastermind behind MTE’s books, has retooled the adventure generator so that you can randomly build an adventure with a deck of cards. It’s important to note that this system is designed to provide a general framework and inspire creativity. It is not realistic to expect the tables to give you a fully fleshed out ready to go game. Just to illustrate – and because it’s fun! – let’s quickly use the tables to come up with a game idea.

Card 1- Genre Element and Era – 2 of Hearts: Post Apocalyptic, Ancient Egypt ….. cool!

Card 2 – Adventure Type and Purpose – Ace of Spades: Eliminate threat at all costs, Unknown Creature Sighting

Card 3 – Choose Your Antagonist – 3 of Clubs: Bargest

Card 4 – Creating Cults – Cults Location and Purpose – Queen of Hearts: Cult in urban area, Purpose is to Summon

Next I rolled dice on the 4 cult tables (Animals, Celestial Bodies, Colors and Misc.) to get some ideas about what kind of cult they are. I end up with Eagle, Planet, Blue, Burning

_____________________________________________

Using the elements above as inspiration I begin writing my adventure:



Famine to Feast…… For the Beast….. For the Beast

The city of Giza is the center of civilization. The untimely death of the Pharaoh has left the city at the mercy of several cults vying for power and control. In the midst of this political upheaval a vile inky black cloud darkens the sky. At first the populace is able to hold their fear at bay. Eventually, as weeks pass and the darkness persists, chaos erupts. Thousands are killed in the panic that follows. It becomes increasingly difficult to survive outside the city walls and news of the outside world is soon completely cut off. Those who remain within the city rally behind the leaders of one cult or another as each group explains away the darkness as punishment for trespasses committed by an opposing sect. Some of the more sinister groups start to call upon dark forces best left unnamed in a desperate attempt to wrest control of Giza from the opposition. One such cult, The Cerulean Flame, has started performing putrid rituals involving human sacrifice. They have summoned the Shadow of Anubis to seek out and feast upon their enemies. Unfortunately, the Shadow isn’t as particular about who its meals are as the Brothers of the Flame had hoped, and many of their own members have been slain and eaten. With each day that passes the carnage is greater and greater. To make matters worse, the Shadow of Anubis grows stronger with each feeding. It’s only a matter of time before the food runs out in Giza and the beast hunts abroad.

The pc’s are part of a group of hunters overseen by the Magi of Ra – a reclusive sect of seers who live in the deep desert. The magi are wise beyond years and have tasked themselves with seeking out and destroying evil in the world. Recently, the Magi have received news that a massive volcanic eruption has clouded much of the desert in the north in blackness for several weeks. There has been word that the city of Giza has fallen into chaos and that a cult within the city has summoned the Shadow of Anubis. The Magi know that the Shadow is insatiable and must be stopped at all costs. The pc’s are sent into the blackness of the north with instructions to kill the foul beast. They are warned that The Shadow of Anubis isn’t the only danger in the city. The cults within Giza are not to be trifled with. The Cerulean Flame literally has eyes everywhere. They have ensorceled desert eagles, identified by their stained blue crests, that watch over the city and report back to them. etc. etc. etc….

_________________________________________

At this point one could flesh out a couple more cults and important npc’s and work on maps and descriptions of important locales. Again, the tables won’t give you a complete setting or adventure, but they are fantastic sources of inspiration!

This is a great expansion on the previous book. MTE has done a fantastic job of refining their output and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Judgment Day in the future. Everything about this release is improved (there’s a map in the included adventure!). That’s impressive considering that the original book was already a fine addition to the Savage Worlds product line. It’s also worth mentioning that if you already purchased the first release of Judgment Day you can contact MTE and get a discount code for the expanded edition. As I said in my previous review, it’s a fun read and there’s plenty here whether you want to use it in its entirety or just borrow bits and pieces.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Judgment Day (Expanded Edition)
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Hael Core Rules
Publisher: StoryWeaver
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/17/2012 00:35:33
For more discussion about Savage Worlds and other RPG's, please visit my blog at www.solaceofsavagery.wordpress.com

Hael is a fantasy setting for Savage Worlds. The core book, published by Storyweaver, is just over 150 pages and is comprised of about 20 chapters of setting information for both player’s and gm’s. The book also has quick play sections that include information from the Savage Worlds core book which makes this release a pretty much all inclusive setting book.

The basic premise of Hael is that the orc’s and gnoll’s joined forces a little over 800 years before the current time. They grew tired of the treaty/oath breaking humans and decided to launch a military campaign to establish dominance and order. Eventually they conquered the humans and halflings and divvied the continent up with the orc’s taking the northern half and the gnoll’s occupying the southern half. The other races fled into the wilds as slavery became prevalent and basically maintained a barbaric lifestyle. As time passed the orc’s (now calling themselves the Daeorcs), and the gnoll’s (now the Yaena) continued to evolve into civilized peoples. Eventually slavery is outlawed and the barbaric races of human’s, halfling’s and Kirene – four armed humanoids – slowly start to get assimilated into the civilized Daeorc and Yaena societies. This brings us to the current year in Hael. Peace has been held for some time but the introduction of two warring alien races has created new tensions. The Daeorc’s have aligned with the mysterious Stranger’s, and the Yaena have entered into an agreement with the technologically advanced Nuclarine. The motivations of each alien species is clouded at this point and this tense confusing climate provides the backdrop for adventures in Hael.

I like this book a lot. The setting is a skewed fantasy world with a dash of science fiction thrown in and parts of it are reminiscent of books like Blackmoor and Carcosa, which is a good thing in my mind. Unlike most other fantasy settings, the Daeorc’s are the baseline as opposed to the human’s. This is enough of a variation to give Hael a fresh feel and make choices and options during character creation different than other games.

In addition to the cool setting, presentation is another bright spot. The book is complete and yet isn’t an unwieldy size. While there is a lot of setting information, it is efficiently presented making the world of Hael very accessible. Furthermore, unlike some releases that seem to think that quality is directly proportionate to the number of new edges you have, this book takes an economical approach that reinforces the setting while maintaining the core Savage Worlds ideology.

This is a great book. I wasn’t really in the market for a new fantasy setting but this is one of those books that inspires creativity and just makes you want to play in it’s sandbox. I was actually turned off by the “humans are the minority” element at first but after reading the book I’m fully on board. I highly recommend giving this a read. I will be discussing the two excellent recently released adventures for Hael in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hael Core Rules
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