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Gazetteer: A Gygaxian Storygame
by Kassidy H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/18/2019 14:22:20

Gazetteer is a pretty fun time! It reminds me of collaborative map-making games like The Quiet Year or Companions' Tale, but GMful and directed. As the GM, you come to the table (or social media platform of your choice) with a map already drawn and seeded with interesting symbols, but with limited expectations about what it all really means. Then, you ask guiding questions. The result is a small, ready-to-game adventure locale that may go in directions you would not have considered if writing in a vacuum!

I have completed one locale in the game's dedicated Facebook group, and started a second. My first ended up super flavorful, and I was very happy with the final gazetteer writeup that I made for it. If I have any complaint, it is with forum games in general -- precisely where you play matters a great deal. You need buy-in from your community, or else a post can languish for days (or indefinitely). Be prepared for that, or aim to cultivate a playspace where you can be fairly certain to see a game through.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gazetteer: A Gygaxian Storygame
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Schema, Second Iteration
by ar e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2019 13:12:17

While it might take some re-learning if you're coming from a traditional tabletop background, if you're after narrative-driven roleplaying where a character's actions can heavily dictate the course of a scene, no one does it quite like Schema. It's light, it's unique, it's flexible (if you're willing to be a little creative and take the time to set up your own variations of the rules), and the depth of things that can happen from a given roll is immense. Think Apocalypse World's engine, but without the limitation of specific moves and rigid character roles. What's more, you can add just about anything you want and make it work if you try. For example, the system doesn't track health naturally, but if you want to, it doesn't require rewiring the rules. Just track it with some tokens and you're good to go!

The real beauty of Schema is that you can make most any task as complex or as simple as you want, and you can do anything you want without the need for an exhaustive list of specific actions you can take in a given situation. It allows me to zoom in and out pretty seamlessly, handling everything from intense duels between generals to grand scale campaign strategy without bloating the game. You'll need to sort of reverse engineer the system before you can really make it happen, but as the entire book is less than 30 pages, this doesn't take long.

The core system is ingenius: Every roll that matters is a combination of "stakes"; potential dangers, good things, and/or automatic effects that come together to dictate the outcome. With this basic system, you can turn just about anything into a sort of dramatic vignette in which the result could potentially feature unintended consequences or interesting new opportunities, regardless of success or failure. That core principle is what makes this engine so wonderful. It's simple, yet so deep.

I'm still finding my footing with it for my very specific needs, but at its core, it's just really fun to play for someone like me, who favors sandbox-style gaming. Once you read over the rules (which will take all of five minutes), it really opens up as you find new ways to make use of the mechanics. For instance, I was able to create a mass combat system using a combination of stakes for the strategy phase, and another for the actual battle that's rolled repeatedly until one side has won out. I track forces with tokens for both sides and the swing of momentum, using one token that can shift between sides in a tug-of-war sort of way. This is an example of something that isn't explicitly in the book, but I was able to add by looking at another product from this author, Stakes for Schema.

(If you grab this, I strongly reccommend Stakes for Schema as well. It's an excellent companion piece and is Pay What You Want.)

All in all, two enthusiastic thumbs up. And my big toes as well. I had to take my shoes off for that one, which should tell you just how pleased I am with Schema.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Schema, Second Iteration
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Schema, Second Iteration
by John L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2018 14:36:38

This may just be the game system I've been wanting and thinking I'd have to design myself. Very, very cool. I like the card-based abilities and the multidimensional nature of spending +s and -s on Fudge dice for results. I even really like the aesthetic of the art.

If you like the system, check out Infected and Skinchangers too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Skinchangers: Open Beta Test
by Katrina B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2018 09:31:37

Full Review Here

You play as shapeshifters that have met powerful animals spirits (Bobcat, Crow, Fox, Owl, and Raccoon). They granted the PCs the power to transform into an animal, use supernatural abilities, and see the spiritual and supernatural world in exchange for the responsibility of hunting monsters, be they “vampires in suburbia, great beasts in the subways, or weekend getaways where the owners prey on their guests”. Additionally, being part of the supernatural world detaches you from the rest of humanity. Most normal folks forget supernatural events incredibly fast, including the PCs if they meddle too much into magic.

Rules: Similar to Fate Accelerated, each character has approaches (though Skinchangers uses 5 different approaches vs Fate’s 6): Brutal, Covert, Fleet, Showy, and Studious the array being (4, 3, 2, 2, 1). Every time a PC attempts an action they choose what approach seems to fit best and rolls dice based on their rating.

However, one twist is the concept of Stakes, Dangers, and Augments. Automatic stakes are something that happens as a result of the PC’s actions that can’t be removed. Dangers are bad things that happen on a roll unless the player spends a (-) Fate die to cancel it. These might include Delay, Injury, Mayhem, Expense, or Fatigue. Augments are something that won’t happen as a result of the action unless the player spends a (+) Fate die to make it happen. Possible Augments include Observation, Speed, Style, Subtlety, Advantage, or Duration.

Overall, I'm really into this and can't wait to play it!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Skinchangers: Open Beta Test
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Schema, Second Iteration
by Joseph D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2018 10:04:31

My group has been dabbling in some more narrative-focused games. Schema is the latest, and it's been great. Like most PbTA-style games, Schema does away with binary success/failure. It's a lot more nuanced than what I've seen in other games, though. Rather than just switching to a ternary (a bad outcome, a good outcome, a bit of both), each roll has a set of "stakes." The stakes are either good or bad things with eight flavors - so there are dangers like "delay" and "injury" and benefits like "efficacy" and "subtlety." The players get a pool of FUDGE dice, and use plusses to buy benefits and minuses to cancel dangers. It does several things that I really like:

  1. It gives a little bit of structure and inspiration for the GM. Thinking about what happens on a partial success is sometimes a challenge. While you still have all the flexibility in this system (you get to decide what the dangers mean), it does help a little to have a framework.
  2. Results get really complicated - the binary framework isn't just modified, it's done away with. There are whole arrays of outcomes and it creates interesting situations.
  3. Players have a little bit of strategy. They get to choose a "bold" or "cautious" stance which gives some re-rolls. It's a very well executed mechanic.
  4. There's virutally no math. No modifiers to add and subtract. It's super quick for resolution.

It's super lightweight in terms of rules and character creation, which is great for my group. It just took one quick example and the whole group easily understood all the rules they needed. Givien how easy it was to pick up and how narratively strong it is, it's a fantastic game for my group.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Schema, Second Iteration
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Infected: A Living Archive
by Sam O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2018 10:49:27

This is some really impressive stuff. I've enjoyed some of Levi's previous works (we had a great Hoard game going for a while) and was looking forward to this one. I unfortunately missed the kickstarter due to a lack of funds, but when it was released as pay-what-you-want I immediately picked it up. Now I am coming back to pay actual money for it. That is how much I enjoy this game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Infected: A Living Archive
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Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying
by Brandon P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/27/2017 13:49:52

Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying includes several simple presentations for subsystems that are abstract enough they could easily be slipped into any game you want to use them in. They could be used as is, or tailored more specifically to tie into the mechanics of the game if you so desired. A very robust set of mechanisms.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying
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Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying, Set 2
by Bob P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2017 07:30:54

Unlike the first in this series ,this product is not meta game(not knocking the first one ,loved that too) This adds a bit of complexity but has some really good ideas, my fav is the Auras that encourage group RPing, I not much for spoilers but I lill say it was very good. I could see me using any of the ideas contained, prob a bit more complexity than I'm happy with but I deff see myself adapting this and using some of it> Do your self a favor and read these two.( Aramax,tmao, Mao)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying, Set 2
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Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying
by Bob P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/20/2016 16:39:48

HOLY CRAP THIS IS COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know that I will use it but I def am going to get some more stuff from this guy!!!!!!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying
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Situations For Tabletop Roleplaying
by ar e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/30/2016 13:59:50

This and every item like it I've gotten from this genius of a man is worth the tiny bit of invested time to read, and more money than is asked. I got all the "pay what you want" ones for free to try them out, as I'm low on funds right now, but I intend to go back and buy them proper when I have some bills paid off. If I had to value this and his similar books, I'd say $4-5 easy.

Not only is the content solid and extremely useful for any roleplaying system, but the way it's presented is cleverly minimalistic and very easy to reference. I absolutely hate reading, but these PDFs are a pleasure to read. Excellent publisher, this good fellow.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Situations For Tabletop Roleplaying
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Expeditions
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2015 16:19:15

This is an outline method of designing trips. It gives statements like he -- is going to --- and meets ---. However it gives no information at all of the sort of things you should fill the blanks with.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Expeditions
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Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying
by Dan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2014 14:41:46

This is a good set of METAGAME mechanics, but the description didn't make it clear that these mechanisms are all METAGAME in nature. These mechanics require the players to act as players rather than as their characters. GMs who do not want to erode the suspension of disbelief by rewarding out of character actions will not find this product useful.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying
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Tenocha: Setting Guide
by Simon K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2014 06:16:07

This setting has a cool Tekumel-like vibe yet is far more accessible (no language courses required..). Its good to get play out of medieval Europe and into something that feels like a cross between the ancient Americas and Polynesia. Art is very appropriate to the subject matter, and suitably up for interpretation. If the setting and background were fleshed out just a little more it would be a 5 from me, as it stands it would take a lot of work from a GM to put meat on the bones presented here. However some folks may see that as a positive in customising the setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tenocha: Setting Guide
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Infected: A Living Archive
by Simon K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2014 05:09:49

I cannot wait to try this- a compelling and different take on the zombie apocalypse with a unique rules set geared perfectly to the action, something a more generic rules system could never achieve. The game screams fast pacing and conflict driving the narrative, much like any good zombie film.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Infected: A Living Archive
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Fundamentals of Tabletop Roleplaying
by Bill D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2014 05:13:26

This is a great resource and I love the art! It's a fine tool to demystify RPGs for new players (or their parents).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fundamentals of Tabletop Roleplaying
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