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    Scarlet Heroes
    by HL W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2021 05:01:14

    I'm late to this party, but wanted to contribute to what I think is an excellent OSR role playing game, and setting.

    I picked this up as an aid to Solo roleplaying before GMing my own group, and the final 16 pages are invaluable to that end. The penultimate 21 pages of adventure design are also packed with goodness. It crawled a little for me in the middle, reading the spells (more on that later), but other than that it's a very enjoyable read.

    You can read the description for an idea of the setting, but I sell it as Conan the Barbarian + Big Trouble in Little China + Dark Waters (the 90s cartoon). Crawford writes with wit and elegance, and explains the rules easily. His setting is such an interesting one (of course there's another source book), that in another time, another world, could have grown to rival the Forgotten Realm or Dark Sun.

    So why 3/5? Two reasons but the first of them a bit silly.

    I don't like the Spell Names. I said it would be silly.

    But just as some people don't like Tunnels & Trolls spells because they sound too 'meta' or glib (e.g 'Knock, knock', 'Take That, You Fiend!'), I really don't like the verbose spell names here. I feel many of them are named so grandious, play would stop to explain what they do, and whilst that could be true of any spell the first time it's called upon, you could probably figure out what 'Magic Missile' does. What on earth does 'Assuming the Flesh of Mist', or 'Crimson Rain of Deliquescence' mean? I don't even know what a deliquescence is, let alone how it affects a crimson rain. EDIT: I broke down and looked it up. I still wouldn't be able to guess what this spell does other than getting people wet on a sunny day.

    So, again, it's a silly point, but searching for a new spell to gain takes longer than it needs to ('I want to cause damage to somebody within 30 feet, which one is that?'), and I feel players will eventually shorten or given them nick names.

    The second reason, and my biggest gripe, is for the description and pictorial depiction of child corruption and mutilation (I may have buried the lead on this one). One is a child after being consumed by the Red Tide (a corrupting fog that may act as an antagonist or natural barrier), another is a demon pieced together with body parts of aborted or miscarried foetuses.

    In a book filled with glorious illustrations, not every monster is depcited, and I think it's in poor taste that these two were chosen. If these 'monsters' had to be in the game, I think the text would have sufficed. Crawford is a very good writer, and his words can be creepy enough.

    Now I thought I was a fan of cosmic and body horror, loving films like Society, The Thing, Videodrome, but I guess involving kids is where I draw the line. And I know "It's all just make believe, you were more than happy to hack through 100's of soldiers", but it's not the same, and if either of these were revealed during a game, I would be slapping that X in the middle of the table hard. Yes, it's fantasy, but it's meant to be enjoyable, not some grim slice of the realism of evil and fantasy pestilence might cause, and takes an otherwise mature game in a more twisted direction.

    I ordered this in soft cover in the UK, and is one of the few physical books I've ordered from DriveThru POD that arrived in peftect condition with no printing QA issues or mis-aligned covers. The paper is good, thick, and smooth, the text clear, and lineart detailed.

    So do check out this wonderful book, It's a good price if you're going to use all of it, but quite overpriced if you're only interested in Solo play. There is a Black Streams: Solo Heroes supplement available, and is free, but at half the length of the Solo play chapter in this book, you're only getting 'How to play a duet or solo with existing OSR modules', not crafting the interesting adventures this book offers. Mythic GM Emulator or DM Yourself may be more up your street, but I think the author's written a very clever Duet and Solo system here.

    If depictions of child mutilation and silly spell names don't bother you, consider this a 5* review.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Scarlet Heroes
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    Worlds Without Number
    by istvan g. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2021 09:26:17

    Ideal mid-complexity game for Dying Earth or generic fantasy Again, top quality from Mr. Crawford

    GOOD

    • the magic system is the best in the market, if you like Jack Vance/Gene Wolfe novels. More Vancian than regular D&D, works wonders.
    • athmosphere is unique (again Vance/Wolfe)
    • top quality GM material to lessen the workload of the GM
    • the system works for generic fantasy after minimal work
    • neatly trimmed, no meaningless filler text, but a good read
    • more player character awesome abilites (adds complexity though)

    BAD

    • more complex than most previous works (ie. Silent Legions or Scarlet Heroes)
    • the GM section seems less focused than usual, harder to find things. The upside is that it covers everything
    • some archetypes (ie. cleric or druid) needs to be created from two half class templates. Character creation takes up too much time
    • an alternative rule (shock damage) changes the natural flow of d20 combats

    ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

    • some trimming of the GM material. All are good, but some should have gone into supplements for ease of use
    • this game really, really needs single class writeups for archetypes (cleric, druid, monk, etc.)
    • longer explanation and advice on removing shock damage from the system would be great. For those who prefer "swingy" d20 combats.

    OVERALL Unfortunately while this game is top quality, for me it is a nice read which I will never GM, just like Stars Without Number 2E. Luckily I can use Crawford's earlier fantasy games (Exemplars&Eidolons, Scarlet Heroes), which are perfect for simple system guys like me. While I recommend this game, I have to add that it is a better fit for groups who like medium complexity rulesets.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Worlds Without Number
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    Worlds Without Number
    by Jonathan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2021 16:25:46

    The GM materials are so deep and so flexible. The extra content in the paid version is worth it.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Silent Legions
    by Robert N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2021 19:41:58

    Very nice tools and systems for all things horror, mystery, and the occult. It has what you need for Lovecraft style horror, but I got some vibes of worlds/chronicles of darkness in this book. One note to make, I highly recommend one of pod options as the pdf is adequate for reference, but the art is rather compressed and rough looking.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Silent Legions
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    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
    by Thomas H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/20/2021 10:26:33

    Star Without Number is a masterclass in game design. It's elegantly simple, while still being deep enough to get into some richly complex role-playing stories. Check out this free version, and if you like what you see (and I think you will), spring for the full version... the real treasure is the world-building tools at the back of the book. Even if you never actually play Stars Without Number as it's own game, the system agnostic world-building tables and systems are easily adapted to whatever sci-fi game your want to play.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
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    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
    by Chris P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2021 12:06:28

    Just finished reading through the revised edition. Very much looking forward to running this for our group. Factions mechanic was a pleasant surprise. The author has done a great job tailoring this product to a sandbox style of play. The random tables are well designed and easy to use. The native setting is interesting and allows for an immense amount of variablility to play the kind of sci-fi game that your group wants. The transhuman chapter is a good example of this with a breakdown between hard and soft campaign options. Very well written and easy to follow. Arrtwork is fantastic.

    I paid for the hardcover with premium colour. Printing was great, but there was a problem with the binding where some of the pages at the front of the book were detached. I contacted DriveThruRPG support and provided some pictures. I haven't purchased a lot from the site, and this was my first quality control issue. A replacement book was sent and the binding issue is gone.

    Have to say that customer support has turned me into a DriveThruRPG super fan. Top marks for this company. They go the extra mile to ensure that customers are happy.

    I've told my group about this title and we are all excited to give it a try. Would absolutely buy this again. Highly recommended.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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    Worlds Without Number Art Pack
    by Robert N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2021 17:57:28

    Absolutely fantastic stuff. So much detail to be found zooming into .tif files.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Worlds Without Number Art Pack
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    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
    by Bruno C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/15/2021 13:39:05

    I love SCIFI and I read lots of SCIFI RPGs.

    Stars Without Number is the best for sure.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
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    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
    by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/14/2021 10:49:09

    Originally poster here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/05/review-stars-without-number-revised.html See link for pictures of Print on Demand version.

    A few years back I reviewed Kevin Crawford's Star Without Number. At the time I said: The game is beautiful and there is so much going on with it that it would take me a number of games with it just to get the right feeling for it. The overall feel I get with this game is that it is the perfect child of Basic D&D and Traveller. So much of what made both of those games so great is here.

    Is Stars Without Number perfect? No, not really. But it is really, really damn close and even from a short distance I could not tell it apart from a perfect game. Recently I went back over the game and still found it to be nearly perfect. But I had not played it all that much since then.

    So on a whim really I picked up the newest Stars Without Number: Revised Edition and I figured I would grab the Print on Demand as well. I just go it in the main this past week.

    Wow.

    That is really the only way to describe it. Any of the reservations I had about the previous edition evaporated with this edition.

    I am considering the PDF and the full-color Print on Demand version.

    Written by Kevin Crawford, art by Jeff Brown, Christof Grobelski, Norah Khor, Aaron Lee, Joyce Maureira, Nick Ong, Grzegorz Pedrycz, Tan Ho Sim. And what fantastic art it is too! All pages are full color and each one is evocative and eyecatching. 324 pages.

    Chapter 1 covers Character creation. We have seen this all before, but perfect for people new to RPGs or sci-fi fans new to the Classic 6 Attributes and level/class systems. The feel here is solid old-school and SWN:RE wears its old-school and OSR cred proudly. BUT they are also a new game with new design sensibilities. For example, character creation is broken down into easy steps.

    You can determine your character's skills (and these can be from a number of sources). There are background packages that can be added to classes to give your character more depth and determine some of their skills. There are also training packages to further define your character.

    The classes are the three "archetypes" that you can find in other games, The Expert, The Psychic, and The Warrior. This edition also has The Adventurer which does a little bit of all the above.

    Character creation is a breeze and no one seems to die while doing it. There is even a quick character creation method on pages 26-27.

    Chapter 2 covers Psionics. Psionics are rather central to the background fiction of the SWN:RE universe, so they get special placement. There are quite a lot of psionic powers detailed here. So first thing, if psionics are something you must have in your sci-fi game then please check this game out first. Psionic points always give the powers a different feel for me than magic, so this is another plus really. These powers are not merely reskinned spells, they have been redone to fit within the mythos of the game better.

    Chapter 3 is the Systems chapter. It includes the expected combat, but also a new twist on the skill checks with Target Numbers. Useful if you are using the skills as described here, but its real utility comes in how flexible it can be. I would have to try it out more, but it's close enough to other skill + die roll + mods vs TN that I can see its use in a variety of situations. What I like about these skills is they are a 2d6 roll resolution system and not a d20. Sure makes it feel a little like Traveller. TRhis chapter also covers all sorts of actions, like combat (regular d20 vs AC here) and Saving Throws; Physical, Evasive, and Mental. Hacking also dealt with here since it is most similar to a skill check.

    This also covers Character advancement.

    Chapter 4 details all the equipment you will need including the Technology Level of the equipment. D&D would be tech level 1 (or so) while we are at TL 3. The game is set at TL 5 with some artifacts at TL 6. Time Lords are hanging out at 7 or 8 I would say. D20 Future and Traveller also use a similar mechanic, so if you want to see how they can also work, checking out those games is advisable.

    The standard batch of weapons and armor from sticks and stones all the way up to energy weapons are discussed. AC is now ascending. What is really nice about this game is in addition to lasers, energy swords, and computers it also includes Cyberware, Drones, Vehicles, and "pre-Silence" artifacts.

    Chapter 5 gives us Starships. Everything on size, type, and costs to ship-to-ship combat.

    Chapter 6 covers the History of Space of the default campaign setting. Even if you don't use it there are some great ideas here.

    Chapter 7 is Sector Creation which is just FULL of material for any game. While this game has a lot going for it, this is the real gem in my mind. This chapter is long, detailed and honestly, it makes me want to create worlds.

    Chapter 8 covers Adventure Creation. You have characters, you have created all these worlds. Let's get them together.

    Chapter 9 is the Xenobestiary. AKA the Monster Manual. Again we are given a lot of detail on how to make alien beasts and then a listing of several samples. Given the old-school nature of this game you could grab ANY old-school monster book for ideas. Yeah...doing Space Orcs could be boring, but Warhammer 40k has been doing them for so long and if you wanted to do them here, well the rules won't stop you. This chapter also covers the creation of alien species. First, the hows and whys of aliens are discussed; what to use, where, and why to use them. Some of this is situated in the campaign setting, but there is some good advice here even if you plan on using your own background/campaign or not even have aliens.

    Chapter 10, Factions. Factions are important groups. Say a group of allied pirates or smugglers, a government or a band of plucky rebels. Several key factors when creating a faction are given and there is a huge list of sample factions.

    Chapter 11 is Game Master Resources. It talks about character death and when to roll for skills. How to build a galaxy and conversions from First Edition Star Without Number.

    Chapter 12 covers newer material, namely Transhuman stories. Or what I call the Altered Carbon chapter. The ability to move on to new bodies.

    Chapter 13 has my undivided attention since it is Space Magic. That's right magic and wizards in space. Not psionics, but real arcane magic.

    Chapter 14 covers heroic characters. These are not your Traveller grunts or even characters from Star Frontiers, these are your Luke Skywalkers, your Buck Rogers, and more.

    Chapter 15 is True Artificial Intelligence.

    Chapter 16 covers Societies.

    Chapter 17 gives us Mechs.

    There is also a fantastic Index (sadly lacking in many books).

    SWN:RE ups the game in every possible way over SWN:1st Ed.

    Print on Demand

    I said this book was gorgeous and I meant it. The print-on-demand copy I got is sturdy and heavy. It is also the closest thing I have seen to offset printing in a POD product. You would have to look hard to tell difference.

    I described the previous version as "nearly perfect." Reading through this version I am only left to say that is one pretty much is perfect. It does everything a sci-fi game should. I mentally slot different sci-fi stories, tropes, and ideas in while reading through it and I could not find something that didn't have a fit somewhere.

    I have read a lot of sci-fi games this month, but this is one of the very best.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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    Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
    by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/08/2021 20:17:04

    Originally Published here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2015/05/review-stars-without-number.html

    Continuing my deep dive into the OSR-based SciFi games we naturally next come to Stars Without Number. This gem was released in 2011 and was written by Kevin Crawford and Sine Nomine Publishing. SWN is a big book, 254 pages filed with maps, sheets, a great index, but no OGL statement that I kind find. To me this book feels more like the work of hard sci-fi; like that Asimov, Bradbury and Heinlein. Certainly it is epic in scope. There is more of a setting here than other OSR-flavored games, so if you like that, great, if not, well it seems easy enough to ignore.

    Chapter 1 covers Character creation. We have seen this all before, but perfect for people new to RPGs or scifi fans new to the Classic 6 Attributes and level/class systems. The classes are the three "archetypes" that you can find in True20 and other games, The Expert, The Psychic and The Warrior. Each has their own advancement table and Hit Die. SWN assumes a 20 level career in case you were curious. Each class also gets their own saving throw tables. There are background packages which can be added to classes to give your character more depth and determines some of their skills. There are also training packages to further define your character. Character creation is a breeze and no one seems to die while doing it.

    Chapter 2 covers Psionics. There are quite a lot of psionic powers detailed here. So first thing, if psionics are something you must have in your sci-fi game then please check this game out first. Powers as expected have point cost values. Psionic points always give the powers a different feel for me than magic, so this is another plus really. These powers are not merely reskinned spells, they have been redone to fit within the mythos of the game better.

    Chapter 3 details all the equipment you will need including the Tech Level of the equipment. D&D would be tech level 1 (or so) while we are at TL 3. The game is set at TL 5 with some artifacts at TL 6. Time Lords are hanging out at 7 or 8 I would say. D20 Future and Traveller also use a similar mechanic, so if you want to see how they can also work, checking out those games is advisable. The standard batch of weapons and armor from sticks and stone all the way up to energy weapons are discussed. AC is descending by the way. What is really nice about this game is in addition to lasers, energy swords and computers it also includes Cyberware.

    Chapter 4 is the Game Systems chapter. It includes the expected combat, but also a new twist on the skill checks with Target Numbers. Useful if you are using the skills as described here, but it's real utility comes in how flexible it can be. I would have to try it out more, but it's close enough to other skill + die roll + mods vs TN that I can see it's use in a variety of situations.

    Chapter 5 covers the history of space of the default campaign setting. Even if you don't use it there are some great ideas here.

    Chapter 6 is the Game Master Guide of the game. Deals with running the game and how and where to use skill checks.

    Chapter 7 is World Generation which is just FULL of material for any game. While this game has a lot going for it, this is the real gem in my mind. This flows right into Chapter 8, Factions. Factions are important groups. Say a group of allied pirates or smugglers, a government or a band of plucky rebels. Several key factors when creating a faction are given and there is a huge list of sample factions. Chapter 9 discusses what sort of adventures you might be able to have. With Chapters 6 through 8 and all the details they give, running out of ideas is the least of your worries really.

    Chapter 10 covers the creation of alien species. First the hows and whys of aliens are discussed; what to use, where and why to use them. Some of this is situated in the campaign setting, but there is some good advice here even if you plan on using your own background/campaign or not even have aliens. Plenty of traits are detailed and how they might combine. There are three alien races detailed. Naturally this flows into Chapter 11, Xenobestiary. AKA the Monster Manual. Again we are given a lot of detail on how make alien beasts and then a listing of several samples. Chapter 12 gives us Robots and Mechs. We have various traits detailed and then plenty of samples. Chapter 13 deals with societies. This might have felt better coming after Chapter 8 really. Chapter 14 has designer notes. I nice little treat to be honest. Chapter 15 deals with the Hydra Sector, or the "Known World" of this game. Instead of countries we have planets. Chapter 16 ends the book with scores of random tables. Create just about anything with a few rolls of the dice. There is a nice Index (sadly lacking in many books) and plenty of maps and blank sheets for characters, starships, and adventures.

    Stars Without Number is big. It is a vast game with endless possibilities. If there is a sci-fi property out there chances are good that this game will be able to do it.

    My only complaint is a non-existent OGL declaration. Can you do a game like this without one? Maybe, but I would not want to. Plus it makes the game's utility a little less for me.

    The game is beautiful and there is so much going on with it that it would take me a number of games with it just to get the right feeling for it. The overall feel I get with this game is that it is the perfect child of Basic D&D and Traveller. So much of what made both of those games so great is here.

    Is Stars Without Number perfect? No, not really. But it is really, really damn close and even from a short distance I could not tell it apart from a perfect game.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
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    Worlds Without Number
    by Joshua W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2021 10:11:40

    Angel's Citadel has reviewed Worlds Without Number. Go check it out here: https://angelscitadel.com/2021/05/07/review-worlds-without-number/

    TL;DR - Highly recommend if you are a fan of fantasy and are looking for a toolbox to help your own game or a solid original world offering with a simple roleplaying system suitable for a sandbox game.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Worlds Without Number
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    Worlds Without Number
    by Leo R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/30/2021 00:35:01

    Kevin has done it again. The Crawfordian take on fantasy sandbox RPG, flexible enough to be applied to a vast amount of genres and playstyles. The mechanics are crisp and concise, being compatible with the B/X editions of D&D, but without the restrictions concerning character concepts. A must read for the working GM, regardless of if they want to run a sandbox or more of a story arch game. If I had to chose only one fantasy rpg book for the rest of my life, it would be this tome.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Worlds Without Number
    by Nicholas H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2021 22:43:30

    If you're a GM that needs some help in terms of worldbuilding, this needs to be in your toolbox. Combine this with SWN, you can create REALLY in-depth adventures. Thank you Kevin!



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
    by Louis P. S. L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2021 05:07:24

    Recently DM'ed a couple of one shots for a few friends and I have to say this is one of the most fun RPG systems I have played in a long while. It is super fun for anyone looking into a more sandboxy-style of play.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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    Worlds Without Number
    by Marco Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2021 17:09:08

    Worlds Without Number is a great system and I am not aware of any other book that is so helpful with worldbuilding. It is definitely worth picking up just for that even if you will be using a different rule system to play in. As for the rules, I really like the mesh of OSR spirit with more modern streamlining. The only thing that annoys me a bit is that the classes in the deluxe version are not simply called Beastmaster or Skinshifter but Llaigisian Beastmaster or Darian Skinshifter. That makes them harder to spot while scanning the contents as I will not play in the Latter Earth and hence not remember where they are from. Also the chapter is called "Arts of the Gyre" which is way more vague than it needed to be. But let us be honest, if this is the most annoying thing in a 400 page long book, that makes it a pretty good book!



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Worlds Without Number
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