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Savage Rifts: Glitter Boy Preview
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/30/2016 03:52:31

I wish I had known and had money to throw at this Kickstarter. It seems the publisher has more regard for the Kickstarter backers than us regular consumers. I understand being nice to the backers, but what about the rest of us? The backers got their pdfs two weeks ago and it still isn't available to us peasants. Why? I've been a Rifts fan from day one and a Savage World from Deadlands first ed. But, between the way this Kickstarter was handled and Pinnacle's seeming disregard for regular fans, I don't know if I can buy or recommend the finished product (if/when the rest of us are deemed worthy to see it.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Rifts: Glitter Boy Preview
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Japan: Empire of the Setting Sun
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/19/2016 00:11:15

I very rarely read any gaming supplement from cover to cover, but this was one of the exceptions. I absolutely love this book. As with the IZ core book, there is brilliant side commentary and deep immersion into the setting. I love the way the geography and culture is laid out. It is exactly how I would expect Japan to be, grounded fairly well in modern as well as ancient Japanese culture.


A+ for dropping enough information to make the setting playable. And even more- dropping subtle hints for potential plots and adventure ideas. Even the document's author character is a bundle of plots. The characters in the side commentary are potential plot hooks. All of the area descriptions and cultural info is teeming with potential storylines.


I like the gear, golemmechs, and augments. I thought there could have been a lot more. I would have loved to have seen the Hindrances, Edges, Augments, Exo-Suits, robots, weapons, vehcles and golemmechs double or triple their length and variety of selection. The government agents should statted more upgraded, state of the art gear. Japan is kind of the giant robot capital of the world, after all. And the Japanese are notoriously tech-upgrade crazy.


I should mention there are a few typos here and there. I didn't write them all down, but the "salvery" on page 30. The overall awesomeness of this book far overshadows a few minor editing issues.


Interface Zero in general and this book especially capture a wide variety of staples in the cyberpunk genre. I especially like that I can replicate/emulate several anime/manga that I love. This is very Shirow-punk. Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell especially. You can also do Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor and Bubblegum Crisis. I also like that the door was opened for kaiju.


One of my mild dislikes of IZ in general is the introduction of psionics. Luckily, this book doesn't delve into a lot of that subject. The zeek population of Japan is small and well contained. Personally, in my campaign, there are no zeeks, but I don't begrudge other people needing that "magic" type element in their game. I thought the presence of hybrids, bioforms, etc bordered on going overboard, also in the medieval fantasy way, but also subject to GM editing, easily avoidable. I got a chuckle out of the knockoff Pokemon/totoro bioforms, though. (Kami-Cuties.)


The only otther addition I thought about would have been Zen archery or even Zen gunslinging. The attitude would be something to the effect of anything worth practicing is worth perfecting. The Zen Master archetype as presented is really not prone to ranged combat.


Overall, other than a little post-editing, completely amazing book. Well worth the money.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Japan: Empire of the Setting Sun
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Act Ten Core Rules
Publisher: Act Ten Game Studio
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2016 00:54:18

It's got nice art. The layout is really bright and a bit over-done to the point where it begins to detract from the text and becomes distracting. I give it big points for marketing and presentation. However, I think it seriously lacks substance. Another thing that didn't work for me was that there was a lot of large print text. To me, that says you were hurting for actual content.


The system itself spends way too much effort attempting to focus on overblown simple mechanics. This is not a solid system and needs a lot of polish and a lot more content to really be worth the price tag. It needs a better-defined skill set, combat rules, vehicle rules and some notion of whether this is supposed to be a generic game or some sort of cyberpunk-esque thing. The Division setting needs a lot more details and specifics before I would consider it to be a solid setting.


The other factor I felt really detracted from Act 10 is the author constantly inserting personal opinions and oddball comments throughout the book. I felt like I was reading the design notes more than an actual full-fledged game. I'm all happy that Kickstarter was responsible for this game's initial success. I'm glad I didn't back it. I want a solid game system instead of a lot of crazy graphics big text and designer notes.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Act Ten Core Rules
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Publisher Reply:
Sorry to hear that you weren\'t happy with the game. This was my first book, so while I\'m proud of actually getting it done, I won\'t deny it\'s got a few problems. I\'d love to hear more of your thoughts so that I can try to avoid some of the \"design note\" pitfalls in the future. If you\'re willing to talk, you can e-mail me at: doc@actten.com I\'m fixing a few of these problems in my next book, like text size, formatting, and art. My next book will also have a more in depth setting as well. Once I get back to work on this project, I\'ll be planning on fixing things up on this book as well (by way of a second edition). This book was a labor of love, and I\'m hoping with some revisions it ends up being a better version of itself. I will say we have a blast playing it though, and problems aside I think there is a great game in there :)
Cypher System Rulebook
Publisher: Monte Cook Games
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2016 00:20:27

I think this book is well-laid out. The art is nice. It's one of the longest gaming books I've seen in ages. There's even a full print version available at Monte Cook's website. At least it uses somethng other than plain six-sided dice.


I'm not going to recap all of the nice things said in other reviews. Yes, the system is okay-ish, the character types, skills, etc are okay for some genres. But as a generic system, this game fell critically short of my expectations. Cypher shouldn't be called a "generic" system. It should be called a "generic FANTASY system."


This game is great for fantasy and hand-wavey laser-sabre science fantasy (as long as you don't need space combat...) It's okay for Cthulhuoid modern horror where guns aren't an issue. Cypher fell down for me on the same thing practically everything Monte Cook's name appears on. It's a fantasy game written for fantasy gamers.


If you want a game with guns, firearms combat, big guns, vehicles, giant robots or starships- this is not the system for you. From the very start, reading the character types, you can see this system is designed around magic, psionics and the supernatural in every game, every genre it touches. It's geared toward medieval fantasy, modern horror, and maybe supers on a stretch. If you want lots of spells, psionics, cartoon fluffy bunnies, radioactive elf mages, Cypher works. If your game setting is some sort of alternate reality, possibly with pretentious naming conventions, that looks nothing like Earth, it's great.


However, right out of the gate, if you want any sort of non-magic modern setting for your game, Cypher falls flat. Basic firearms skills that should be available at character creation don't appear until character tiers 3, 4 or 5. Dual wielding pistols? Not likely. Starship combat? Mecha? Vehicle combat in general is not adequately covered. Supers? The character types and power scaling aren't a good fit.If you want a cyberpunk game, mecha, historical, modern without a supernatural component, martial arts without a mystic element, or a starship-troopers type game- look elsewhere. Despite it's advice about running games and handling different genres, (as long as they look pretty much like D&D or Call of Cthulhu, or WoD,) it really just doesn't do everything a generic system should do. I'm sure it works fine for Numenera or Strange.


Also, Cypher claims not to support the "zero-to-hero" mentality, yet Tier 1 characters pretty much scream "chumps!" at full volume. You start out somewhat competent, but you still have to spend xp to level abilities and gain tiers. A lot of zero-to-hero issues revolve around how GM's treat the player characters. Cypher, unfortunately, really doesn't discourage that mentality when you see what the characters really aren't capable of at character creation.


Sorry, I can't justify a higher rating for this game when it completely fell apart on every tangent of the three settings I wanted to use it for. It's got a lot of cute gimmicks and it's great if you want yet another medieval fantasy system for medieval fantasy gamers. Really, I think the gaming community needs to stop feeding the already over-inflated egoes of T$R, White Wolf and WotC alumni. Looks like I'm back on the hunt for a new, good generic system or slowly and steadily designing my own system-only to see it never reach publication. Sigh.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Cypher System Rulebook
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BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/24/2015 04:12:41

I'm very happy with the pdf version of this game and am also anxiously awaiting my printed copy. There have been many other reviews of this game that cover the basics, so I won't repeat it all again here. This is my first real "Lite" fantasy rpg. I've played hundreds of the other kind. I was introduced to DwD by my interest in Covert Ops. I noticed it was basically the same system and said, "Wow. It's like old RoleMaster without all the serious complications." It also reminds me of the old Warhammer FRP that my friends and I played for months on end back in high school.


I admire what DwD is doing with this game. Compared to most, it is extremely open to new ideas and very expandable. Right now, I think the one thing this game needs more than anything is a monster manual, beastiary, creature compendium, or whatever you want to call it. More monsters, darnit! I would also like to see some different spinoff settings and campaigns. A Barebones rendition of Oriental Adventures would be outstanding.


The other thing I love about this game is the incredible amount of support this game has from the company in one form or another. The authors regularly contribute to the forums. The gaming license for this is very open and inviting and I think it is unbelievably cool that the authors are asking for such a high level of contributions.


Keep up the good work!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
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OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game
Publisher: Wise Turtle Publishing
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/13/2015 10:34:34

At a glance: Fantastic art! Simple, easy-to-learn system. Very engaging, friendly and encouraging to new players and anime fans. Well-written GM section. And again, I need to mention- AMAZING ART!


I would totally buy this as a print product, even in black and white.


I originally bought this to supplement two other anime games. I love the way this game goes about character creation and encourages free form development. Basically, if you want to recreate your favorite character from any given anime series, this is probably the best game for it. This game has a very un-complicated way of doing things.


I think this rpg suffers from the same flaw a lot of other core system, non-genre specific games have always had. It tends to be more centered on the fantasy elements of gaming. I acknowledge that even now, most gamers had their first exposure to the hobby from D&D and that does tend to influence game design. OVA leans toward a lot of the non-mecha, no-firearms, no-spacecraft type anime. While it does allow for emulation of the mecha genre, a lot of brain sweat is needed on the GM's part to get there as opposed to say, the standard sword and sorcery game. If you want to make a character based on Inu Yasha, Record of the Lodoss Wars, Full Metal Alchemist, Ikki Tousen, or Sailor Moon, or something similar, this game is ideal. If you're wanting something more involving giant robot combat, massive starships, cyborgs with huge guns, or gritty cyberpunk drama, I think you're probably better off going with a different game and using OVA as a way to develop characters before the system is applied. I also didn't get a good horror anime vibe from this, but that's a very narrow genre and is probably better treated elsewhere. (It could be done, but again there would be a bit of strain on the GM.)


I can totally see myself running a game based on Slayers, Ikki Tousen, Freezing, and maybe even Chrome-Shelled Regios using this system. I also think it might be a bit more kid-friendly, but I'll have to test that theory first. I also think, like so many other anime rpg's, a separate sourcebook would help in dealing with various sub-genres within anime gaming (Mecha and cyberpunk in particular.) I hope the folks at Wise Turtle can keep up the good work.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game
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Mecha vs Kaiju: Fate Core
Publisher: WrightWerx
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/26/2015 11:37:39

Alas, I couldn't wait for the print version to come out. Although I'm still good for one when it finally does become available. I love this book! This is by far my favorite FATE based product right now. I've been a giant robot fan for years. I used to stay up all night just to watch badly dubbed kung fu and the various Godzilla movies on the late, late show.


My favorite part of this book is the author's emulation of the genre. The anime archetypes are astoundingly well put together. So much that I'm adapting them to other FATE campaigns. It's obvious that someone has spent some serious time watching roughly the same anime series I have. The mecha construction rules are crunchy enough for most gamers, but not so intensive that I have to spend hours with a calculator. This is a game where you can create a really great giant robot in minutes as opposed to other games where you can almost build a real one in your back yard faster than you can on paper. I agreed wholeheartedly with the treatment of martial arts in the game. You can develop entire games based on nothing but martial arts, but MvK manages to present a functional, useful, basic way to deal with all the various fighting styles, etc and stay within the mecha genre.


I also really enjoyed the scenarios included in the game. Without giving any spoilers, I will say that I would very much like to see more campaign material or even straight fiction based on the characters and storylines presented in MvK. It's really great as a gaming book, but I also got very interested in everything that was going on in the story with the various npc's.


The only thing I didn't like quite as much about this product is the introduction of magic into the game. I'll admit, I'm a sci-fi mecha gamer at heart. I would have been just as happy with this being grounded in more of a scientific base. I have railed against game designers that can't get away from making a modern era/futuristic rpg without any magical or psychic mumbo jumbo for years. With all due respect to Shinto and other elements introduced in MvK, I would have been perfectly content with radioactive monsters and freakish genetic mutations without and mystical or psychic causes. Or, at the very least a thin veil of technology over mysticism. On the other hand, some of my favorite anime- Freezing, Chrome Shelled Regios, and Evangelion touch upon the mystical and even religious world a little bit, so it's not all together a bad thing. To MvK's credit, the use of Shinto and the Oni, etc is VERY well-handled and I'm still overjoyed with the final result.


I think MvK is highly adaptable to any anime series and I'm very gung-ho to create other campaigns with many of the concepts introduced in this product. I also think it works ridiculously well for a campaign based on a certain Saban Entertainment martial arts/giant robot live action series that the author was very careful to avoid any direct reference or distinctive likenesses-to in MvK. Go-Go Johnathan on a job well done there. Lots of love for Strike force Ichi-Ban on that one. I have an eye toward a lot of my favorite anime in terms of adaptation, and in many cases it's not even a big stretch. Job well done!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mecha vs Kaiju: Fate Core
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks so much for your detailed critique! I\'m deeply gratified you enjoyed it so much. The inclusion of magic was, indeed, an attempt to make the setting as inclusive as possible. The great thing about it is, when you run your own game, you can completely ignore the magical aspects! Except for ninja magic. Ninjas always have ninja magic ;)
Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 rulebook
Publisher: Spectrum Games
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/26/2015 10:58:38

I can't say enough about how much I love this game! As a child of the 80's, I so relate to everything the author says. As a tabletop gamer, the d12 is my favorite die. As a writer and GM, the way this whole game is laid out appeals to me on every level! It's full of awesome!


The first thing that stands out to me is the knowledge and amazing adherence to the genre. It is obvious the authors have amazing amounts of both gaming experience and countless hours watching all the awesomeness that was 80's cartoons. I love the preface by Flint Dille. It really stood out because we had heard rumors for years that Gygax and various cartoon production folk had built some kind of game around GI Joe and Transformers. Sure enough... It just took a while for someone to emulate it in rpg form. I mean, who hasn't built a home-brew game based on the old school Transformers stat blocks or statted up GI Joe characters based on the old file cards from the back of the figures.


The system itself is simple, easy to follow, and extremely player friendly. I would have no problem teaching this game to my kids and I will as soon as they're old enough. Character creation is fast and very reasonable. It's much like FATE or ICONS in terms of simplicity. If you can dream it, or did during the 1980's, you can probably cook up the character to go with it. The system has just enough gamer crunch to enhance the total immersion experience of 80's retro-toons.


My absolutely favorite part of this book is the Series Creation rules. I have already cooked up a half dozen different ideas for tv series I would have loved to have seen and recreated a few that came along too late as 80's retro-toons. I've even done up a couple of defunct rpg's as retro-toons. The dial system, playset creation, and villain assembly are a breeze for veteran gm's and probably pretty easy to roll out as a novice, too. I dare say I'm having too much fun with this game.


The art in this game is nigh-onto perfect for it. The artists have managed to capture the look of various popular old cartoon series which we are all familiar with, yet kept it distinct enough to avoid getting in trouble with Hasbro or Marvel. Some of the art brings back so many memories of good times had watching cartoons back then, right before Saturday afternoon D&D or Marvel Supers gaming. Not to mention making me want to go back and watch entire series again.


I would suggest again, that Spectrum please, please, please put out a print version of this pdf OR at least strongly consider it for the next edition of the game. (Yeah, I'm willing to bet Season 4 will happen, unlike most cartoons from that era.) I'm just old fashioned in that I like the feel of an old fashioned print product in my hands and on my gaming table. It's too bad boxed sets are so ridiculously expensive to put out, or I'd say it would be most awesome to have an old D&D style boxed set, or one that emulated a vhs cassette case or possibly done as a dvd case.


Also, as we know Saturday morning cartoons are officially a thing of the past, I think it would be cool for someone to do a modern kids' toon version of this game with an eye toward emulating many of the popular cartoons currently on the air. As a parent of small children, one of four channels is constantly on our tv. I can recite almost word-for-word many Disney Jr toons, Paw Patrol, Rescue Bots, and the now defunct Super Hero Squad show episodes. I would also find it interesting, since the authors are so adept at simulating an era of cartoons, to turn an eye toward something like a certain Japanese Sentai live action martial arts/giant robot series that has "morphed" into a might decade-spanning phenomenon. Unfortunately, as we've seen recently on the internet, Saban Entertainment is extremely aggressive about protecting their intellectual property, so Spectrum would have to be careful, as they are with CAH, not to be too distinct with the likenesses to the actual series.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 rulebook
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Jeff C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/14/2012 00:00:36

What I liked:
It has a good action/dice system. Mechanically, I feel this game is very solid. That, and I noticed Jeff Grubb in the forward and Matt Forbeck's name in the design credits. Forbeck is one of my absolute favorite writers/game designers.


The book delivers exactly what it says in the blurb on the back cover (page 2 of the pdf) with one exception. You get an awesome set of rules. The rules cover most situations in the Marvel Universe. You get a really great adventure! The Event system seems like it's going to work very well in the future if this first round is any example. It has a really outstanding set of datafiles. The character coverage is superb for the characters that were included.


Here's the exception: "When dozens of villains are sprung from the maximum-maximum security prison known as the Raft, who's going to stop them? You are." This statement was featured prominently in much of the advertising I've seen for this book as well as on the back cover. One of the first things I expected to see in this book was a large section entitled "Character Creation." I was very disappointed when I didn't see it.


I've played several superhero rpg's over the years. The absolute top of my list, the first rpg I ever played, TSR's old Marvel Superheroes RPG. The Advanced Set and The Ultimate Powers Book are still to this day, 28 years later, one of my favorite parts of my gaming collection. I was so very excited when I saw this new incarnation of Marvel, being led by a TSR alum. I expected to see more creativity encouraged in this book.


Now, back in the original Marvel RPG days, when you picked up a module, you had the option of playing a pre-existing Marvel character included with the module or you could play one you made yourself. Yeah, it's cool to play Cap, Wolvie, Thing, Spidey or even the Hulk, but what made Marvel, and makes most rpg's special, is playing a character you created yourself. I'm concerned for the success of this book and this product line because I think players are more in their comfort zone with a character they came up with on their own. There are a lot of other games out there from other companies that don't have the advantage of a rich, fully (overly) developed universe, setting, and pre-existing characters. I don't feel the new Marvel encourages me to make a character of my own.


The only other drawback I see to this game, and it's minor, is the lack of pregenerated characters. I realize the characters given are for the event. We are told other events will have other characters. A superhero rpg lives and dies by the characters. Again, with Marvel, the advantage is a gigantic catalog of pre-existing heroes and villains with rich story lines and backgrounds already written.


In the future, I'd like to see stats for the Incredible Hulk, the Mighty Thor, and Hawkeye. The villain stats I'd like to see comprise a much, much larger list. I don't know if I have the patience to wait five or six events down the road to have stats for Dr Doom, Magneto, Red Skull or Ultron.


I'd also like to see a slight escalation of power levels. They've done a great job carrying the more "human" characters like Cap and Spidey. The system seems really well-suited to them I noticed it seems like the designers are carefully avoiding things with really huge power levels, which is maybe why Thor hasn't made an appearance yet. I'll be curious to see how something scary-huge like Galactus is handled.


The best thing this game line could do in the future is put out two books- one with Hero Datafiles and one with Villain Datafiles. That, or I'm hoping the "Advanced Rules," since this is listed as the Basic set, will start with character creation and focus on player-generated heroes, with the old Marvel iconic characters available on the side. Maybe they'll even pave the way for a book that details powers, sfx and an increased power level in sort of an "Ultimate" way.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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