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    Carbyne Jungle
    by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2020 02:08:45

    The overall system is great. It's completely different from what I've played before. The system is streamlined and has the potential to outdo any other game out there. Pick this up in some form. If you do a print version, pick up the color one, you'll thank me for it.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Carbyne Jungle
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    Carbyne Jungle
    by Glass T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2020 04:03:22

    Really loving the overall potential of this system. I've given it a read through or two and cant wait to run this for a group here soon



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Carbyne Jungle
    by Brendan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/30/2020 11:25:30

    I really like a lot of the systems that Carbyne Jungle has and it is really fun to play, the thing thats lowers my score is the honestly embarssing number of typos, both grammatical (which are annoying but not too problematic) but there are also quite a few number of typos on mechanical things, like feature, backgrounds and gear. If I had gotten the book at launch I wouldn't be as dissapointed but having only gotten it last weekish, a fair few months after its release. I am honestly surprised that these mistakes were not noticed and edited since release. The product feels like it was written and than never proof read. So to conclude, really fun system, once you figure out how to play through all the typos and unclarities.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Khieron's Keep Mission Deck Sample Pack
    by Curse o. S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2020 17:53:38

    NorCal Mythos Mission Decks Kickstarter: Khieron’s Keep Sample Pack Quick-Start Guide from

    “Khieron’s Keep is a supplement designed to take a party through a gaming session without a GM. This sample pack is designed to be a one shot with 5 encounters before a boss fight, exploring the Ancient Keep.”

    The Khieron's Keep Mission Deck Sample Pack has me ridiculously excited to see the full thing with the unlocked Undead Deck, and desperately wanting to see The Rise of Taven Shay and The Nameless Terrors of the Void! My need is mighty!

    The care with which the narrative and flavour elements are crafted of the sample one shot, The Ancient Keep, blew me away! From the setup of a distraught father bursting into the tavern pleading for help to save his son, tracking him to a strange ruin, battling through the incredibly modular and infinitely repeatable dungeons filled with all manner of challenges and monsters extolling the glory of the depraved Gladiator who awaits you in the bowels of the dungeon, to the dark and sweet endings with acrimony or glory awaiting, it’s a thoroughly entertaining tale! However you fare the insidious seed, the calling of the dungeon’s depths, will be felt equally my character and player alike.

    The system is incredibly simple to use, yet has such variety with separate Map, Encounter, Monster, Loot and Boss Decks, which come together with endless variety.

    The Map Cards are varied and full of character, laid out with an alphanumerical grid for ease of reference, with one or more doors to approach or escape from, and three plotted points in different places on each map that correspond to the Encounter Cards.

    The Encounter/ Conflict Cards have various sections relating to what unfolds, beginning with Room Entry, setting up the party’s approach to the coming room and any opportunities, dangers and/ or challenges are posed, before entering. The encounter itself comes next, which is written out with a description of the situation, calling for Monster Cards, their placement and behaviour, and Loot if applicable. Finally, the Aftermath section describes…the aftermath of the encounter, often with rich and unsettling flavour text relating to the adventure. The Encounter Cards may set a difficulty for the encounter, which the monsters are drawn to equal the difficulty using the experience points (XP) value of the party. Rules are in place to try to avoid the party getting overrun if the drawn monster/s exceed the set difficulty, with the lowest combat rating (CR) being the set monster to use when the XP for the encounter is maxed out and the encounter calls for more bodies. The table for quantifying the XP also includes the addition of Too Far as a category above Deadly, which is extremely helpful, as Deadly is a particularly nebulous and open-ended bracket.

    The Monster/ Target Deck contains the creatures that stand in your way as you explore the dungeon. Each card has the details of the creature split between the two sides, with one having the name, quick reference elements such as Hit Points, Armour Class, Tactics, Attacks, Saves, etc, and intriguing digital art, while the other has the Ability Scores, Skills, Languages, Attributes, Actions, etc. The layout and artwork are striking, easy to reference and the inclusion of tactics make the GM-less play easier with greater direction. I’m excited to see more monsters, especially the new and unique creatures Nor Cal Mythos have been cooking up!

    The Loot Deck contains the magic items and gear that can be acquired for completing certain encounters or vanquishing monsters. Those included in the sample deck are all existing D&D5e items, so I am intrigued to see which others we see and if we get some new toys to play with! These cards are drawn at random, so you never know what you will end up picking up, and there is also the option of pulling the loot first and facing the enemies in possession of the item, which could lead to some very interesting encounters…” all of a sudden you are fighting a goblin with a staff of fireball.” Some encounters or monsters may reward you with coin rather than items. A table is provided with amounts of coin to be rolled for the relevant XP, with particularly high rolls getting to snag a Loot Card.

    Boss Cards are a brilliant innovation, a template which can be applied to any monster, so rather than having a set amount of bosses, absolutely anything could be waiting for you in the depths of the dungeon with any manner of boss profile. These cards are drawn when a pre-set goal has been achieved and have their own instructions and information. This will involve drawing one or more monster cards and applying the template, along with any bonuses and abilities that come with it. These improvements are tailored to the XP rating of the party with a table of specific improvements with the additional XP needed to raise the value of the encounter to Deadly. In the example Boss, Gladiator, these ranged from 100-2500 additional XP. Having this template nature of the Boss Card in this sample allowed for anything from an azer, through giant scorpion to a zombie getting beefed out into the Gladiatorial Boss.

    Short and long rests are accounted for with rolls to determine whether something nasty from the Encounter Deck barges in while you are breaking out your packed lunch or catching a few Zs, using your fallen foes as pillows.

    I played through The Ancient Keep one shot several times solo running a third level Dwarven Vengeance Paladin, Graenor Rubblefist, with various sidekicks each time. Each run felt different with the nature of the narrative, encounters and monsters, as well as the tale-telling nature of D&D, stories started to appear with a strangely undead-and-bandit-heavy run ending with a mighty zombie gladiator boss, while another was full of giant beasts and monstrosities, overseen by a truly terrifying azer gladiator. I confess I have yet to conquer The Ancient Keep, but I just keep playing again and again. It was tough tearing myself away to write this review to be honest.

    This is a perfect way of playing D&D without someone having to DM. Personally, I love DMing and playing equally, as well as being more than happy to play solo games between sessions. This system works wonders for any time I want to play solo, or don’t have the brain to run a session. From solo to a whole adventuring party the Mission Decks have you covered. This is going to be a godsend for my partner and I, as we love to play our duet games, but there is something very intense about one-on-one play, and this is a great way for us to actually get to adventure side by side, without anyone needing to DM. This is also a fantastic option for when the DM can’t make it or you are down players, but you still want to roll dice and adventure.

    With a sample of this quality, I can only fantasise about the full adventure, expanded decks and, desperately hope for the further adventures and extensions!

    Support the Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/carbynejungle/mission-decks



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Khieron's Keep Mission Deck Sample Pack
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    Carbyne Jungle
    by Cyrano J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/11/2019 23:19:08

    Reviewing the PDF version.

    I was really intrigued to see a product that made claims as dramatic as this one does for its ruleset. I was even more intrigued to see that Carbyne Jungle basically stakes out the same conceptual space as Starfinder, the game I currently run (and have done for the last three years). I'm going to be making a few comparisons to Starfinder -- within reasonable expectations, I'm not expecting an indie product to match Paizo's overall resources for production, for example -- as someone who might be tempted to run this system instead.

    I can't rate this 3.5/5 on the system, but for the record, that's my actual rating. There's a lot about it that impresses and intrigues me, and I'm glad of the purchase on balance.

    THE RULES The ruleset is the main selling-point here, or at the very least is what initially hooked me.

    Pros: I think there's a lot of very intriguing and elegant work here. One of the reasons I still run d20 systems is that they often provide scope for more varied playstyles at the table than, say, PbtA or narrative-dice systems that demand specific levels of improvisational skill and drama nerdery from player groups. Carbyne Jungle is laser-focused, so to speak, on this same mission:

    • It makes very, very clear what character options are designed for which goals, it has an elegantly-desgined advancement system that blends the best of XP and milestone levelling systems and provides a clear sense of how pacing in campaigns should work, it eschews class-specific development trees for Backgrounds (which are something between what other systems would treat varyingly as Feats and Class Abilities), and it's replete with explicit advice at almost every stage for neophytes who might be overwhelmed by all this information.
    • It features compact but very workable and complete combat and skill testing rules. There's none of the trendy OSR nonsense about how you should just ignore whatever rules you want in favour of arguing (uh, "negotiating") with your table. It's not precious about telling you what the rules are, who's responsible for what, and how rulings work.
    • It has comprehensive equipment lists, and just as importantly it has transparent equipment-building rules which, like Starfinder, use character advancement to affect equipment costs, but unlike Starfinder are not packed away behind a black-box and often-inscrutable application of advancement to cost.
    • It lists Backgrounds, Spells and similar things in vast tables which... I'm okay with that approach. It's a compact way of presenting a lot of info when you don't have infinite space.
    • And of course, it has the "three interlocking kinds of rules" thing that distinguishes Tri-Forge. This aspect of things is a bit harder to grasp (I'm not clear whether playing Flip 'n Fight, Stock and Strategic rules in the same group would ultimately place certain players at a disadvantage, for instance), but I love the idea of being able to run Stock and Flip 'n Fight players at the same table. It's the kind of thing that could potentially reduce barriers to new players, which I'm all about.

    Cons:

    • As a matter of personal preference, I'd rather that since the ruleset is the big selling point of this product, the basic F'nF, Stock and Strategic rules had been presented together right off the top instead of being distributed through the book.
    • A much bigger obstacle to using this as a Starfinder player, though, is that this is a science-fantasy game that doesn't have specific rules for vehicle chases and combat, or for starship building, travel and combat. Maybe this is planned for a future supplement, or has already been released in one? But I have to give Paizo props for understanding that starships and vehicles are core parts of the sci-fantasy concept's appeal and that they belong in a core rulebook. Their omission here is regrettable, enough to keep me from running this system right now despite the virtues of its existing ruleset (whose advantages over Starfinder are nice but not dramatic enough in themselves to convince me to make the switch).
    • It also lacks the kind of Environmental rules that help to sell a science-fantasy setting. This kind of thing could be easily improvised from what is there, but it would be preferable if they were supplied, or at least that means of building environments were part of the ruleset.
    • I'm not 100% wild about the fact that the entry-level Flip 'n Fight system requires either purchasing decks or building your own for maximum effectiveness. The system's promise of three levels of sophistication in design should probably come with an explicit rider that one of those "levels" is basically its own deck-building game.
    • Some examples-of-play content, especially as regards combined two or three different "levels" of play and rulesets, would go a long way toward selling the game's core ruleset appeal.

    THE SETTING I'm including the Species element of character-building in this.

    Pros:

    • The combination of core Species presented as character options are perfectly serviceable and sometimes quite fun.
    • The setting itself is a pretty solid, if unspectacular, backdrop for space opera. I like the fact that a sharp contrast between Primal and other kinds of characters is part of the system. This is a very different call from Starfinder (wherein everything is so Made From Tropes that essentialized categories like these don't really matter much beyond character flavour), but it's a perfectly valid one.

    Cons:

    • Most of the core Species are adjusted variants of fantasy races, with only limited departures from fantasy race stereotypes. Switching a few more of these out for truly alien races might not have been a bad idea.
    • The setting of the "Carbyne Jungle," a kind of continent-wide Coruscant megacity, is kind of undersold given that the whole game's name is derived from it.
    • A product that understands the power of tables as well as this one does should have some random-generation tables for planets and settlements. (Of course this would be more essential in a product that had space travel rules.)

    PRODUCTION VALUES

    Pros: Well-written, well-conceived, competently designed and with clean copy. Easy to read and follow.

    Cons:

    • I've seen indie companies make better use of a production budget, TBH. If I can do better work formatting and laying out a document (which is almost the case here) it's not great, though not a dealbreaker.
    • The quality of the art is highly variable. Some of it consists of very professional and vivid pieces (a few of which look curiously familiar but I'm going to assume were paid for), and some of it consists of low- to middling-competence pieces that were clearly generated in Poser or something similar. Less art with a more consistent style, paired with better layout, would go a long way toward selling the book's professionalism.
    • Though a good writer (or writers) clearly generated the copy, it's just as evident that money was not spent on copyediting. It needs to be. Copyediting is not a frill, and if you have money to spend on art, you should be spending money on at least one copyediting pass.

    OVERALL Very promising and intriguing product packed with great ideas and fascinating rule design. With a bit more development, I think it could become really competitive in the sci-fantasy RPG space. I wish the developers well.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Carbyne Jungle
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