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    Revelations in Cold Iron
    by Alex G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2017 14:00:38

    I had been waiting to see what this first game based on Dancing Lights Press' Lighthouse Roleplaying System would offer. The concept of a cultlike group taking over the world is very much like the Seers of the Throne from Mage: the Awakening, and the Cult of Moloch sounds like one of the Great Ministries, if Moloch replaced the Paternoster Great Ministry.

    In contrast, Cold Iron, the group to which the protagonists belong, is a Tier Three conspiracy group straight out of Hunter: the Vigil, along with a choice of Endowments based on the imposition of logical fallacies on the minds of targets.

    The setting is dark fantasy, though "dark comedy" would perhaps be a more apt description, because what humour there is, is very black indeed. The distinction between protagonists and antagonists is hideously blurred - both sides would make use of SJW groups, alt-right / gamergate / MRA trolls, right-wing radio hosts spouting tinfoil hat conspiracies, anti-vaxxers, flat Earthers, vegans, gun nuts, survivalists and hate groups to impose their reality.

    This is a very modern roleplaying game, one very much of the year of its release, 2017: a game of social media revolutions; of trials by television and newspaper headline; of fake news and Newspeak, and outright propaganda masquerading as journalism; of oligarchs sitting off the coast of Corfu on their private yachts, controlling entire nations from an iPhone; where, when a mad, frothing politician rises to a position of immense power on some bizarre ticket like chemtrails or building a wall, nobody on either team is entirely sure whether it was their influence or the enemy's influence that got him into power - and where the point is entirely moot, since both sides would happily take advantage of the regime to their own ends.

    One quibble - the headline "Gaslighting is magick." I've been a victim of gaslighting. It is one thing that personally detracts from the overall pleasure of this rulebook and setting. But that is a subjective, personal issue.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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    Creator Reply:
    Thanks, Alex! I understand your sensitivity to the way the term "gaslighting" was used. I kept taking it out and putting it back in, wondering if it was too dark or too on-the-nose. Ultimately I kept it because I thought it aligned with the in-game concept of subjecting people to subjective, fake realities, very much a tactic used by the Cult of Moloch.
    Revelations in Cold Iron
    by Jay M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/11/2017 19:40:20

    This is a setting about resistance to a Donald Trump-like dictator. That could work as a premise, but the implementation isn't particularly interesting, amusing, or even very coherent. The distinction between objective and subjective reality is crucial to the setting, but the author seems to believe that his favored political ideas are objectively true, which makes the entire foundation of the setting very wobbly. Not recommended.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Thanks for the review. Yes, the fictional setting where people use magick to fight a cult that has taken over the world is, in fact, a subjective reality based on my beliefs. You got the joke. I'm sorry you didn't like the joke. It is, admittedly, a little dry and not for all tastes. Humor is... subjective.
    Lighthouse System
    by Chris P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2017 08:22:19

    I have read, but not yet run, the game. I will update this review once I run a few sessions.

    My initial impressions are positive. The game is narrative, but there's enough system here to handle task resolution with varying degrees off success. The character creation reminds me of Fate Core, you have three sizes of aspect/skill/talent (Big grants +5, Medium +3, Small +1), and when you resolve a task, if those aspects apply, you get that bonus (they don't stack, you take the largest applicable.)

    Task resolution is 1d20 + aspect bonus + advantages + gear - penalties. Unopposed tasks need a high roll (11+) to succeed. Even number = player narrates the success, odd = target narrates success. There are suggested types of conflict (timed, contest, unopposed, etc), and examples of these.

    Results are based on risk. Each player has 5 (to use Fate's term) consequence slots, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12. d4 sticks around for 1-turn (you drop your sword), and d12 is big, nasty, and narrative - hospitalized, in a coma. Similarly, if you succed with a d4, your success is only barely. Succeeding with a d12 is (sticking with Fate's terms) success with style - the best you can think of, with a narrative bonus.

    There are a LOT of examples of characters, unusual, but incredibly helpful for an indie game. Wizards, Jedi, Spys, the basics are covered. It should take a player (who has a character concept in their head) less than 5 minutes to create a character. GM characters are of the "take only what you need" variety. In other words, this is a low prep, high improv game - right up my alley!

    Now, for the things I didn't like.

    There's no art in the book, which is not a big deal. The price was so low that I can't criticize the lack of art, but it could bother some.

    The game could use an example of play / actual play, which is common in most games. There ARE examples in the book, but they are spread out.

    The game could use some game aids: character sheet, reference cards stating the types of contests, what the different die size success / failure look like, etc.

    The combat bothered me slightly in that most conflicts have the PC and the Target (usually the GM) rolling dice to see the higher margin of success. Combat, however, is only rolled by the attacker, there's no defense roll. I'll need to test this in play, but my gut says that any of the target's applicable skills would act as a penalty to the attack. Ex: Badass Fighter (+5), attacks Shaolin Monk (+5), and rolls d20 hoping for 11+. Badass Fighter (+5) attacks Goblin Soldier (+1), and rolls d20 + 4, hoping for an 11+.

    All said - I was very impressed with this system, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on some of the other titles by Dancing Lights Press!



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Lighthouse System
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    Roleplaying Emotion
    by Scott H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2017 18:12:12

    I really like some of the other books in this series, but I would not recommend this one. I'll give you a synopsis: This is an RPG rules mechanic that keeps track of which emotions your character is feeling. There are 10 categories of emotions, and you choose how much your character is affected by each one. The mechanical effect is that if you're attempting a task while trying to hide or control one of your emotions, either because you feel it too much or too little, then you apply a penalty to the roll. That's it. There's no reason to make this book 66 pages long or to charge $7 for it.



    Rating:
    [1 of 5 Stars!]
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    Setting Design [1st Edition]
    by Scott H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/09/2017 03:40:54

    So far, this is the best resource I've found on worldbuilding. I even like it better in that regard than the D&D 5e DM Guide, which is also a decent source. Berin has collected a good checklist of all the elements you need to consider when designing a scifi/fantasy setting. He provides some guidance about how to approach each element, and he stresses some good general principles, like how each element should be considered in terms of how it can create or resolve conflict in the story. I found this book really helpful. Thanks Berin!



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Setting Design [1st Edition]
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    Story Structure [1st Edition]
    by Scott H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/09/2017 03:35:32

    This book has some helpful insights about how to use a three act structure in a story, book, movie script, RPG adventure, etc. The second half of the book suggests some interesting ways that you could apply the general ideas from the three-act structure to help structure an episodic series (like a book series, a TV series, or a series of RPG play sessions). I found it pretty thoughtful, and I wish more TV shows would take these ideas into consideration when planning out their season arcs. Thanks Berin!



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Story Structure [1st Edition]
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    Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (Powered by Fate Accelerated)
    by Patrick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2016 18:18:20

    This is so much better than it has any right to be. I know it seems like an absurd concept, and it is, but somehow it actually works. The author has put a lot of work into this, and at 138 pages, this booklet contains everything you could possibly need to run this game. (Except dice, obviously.) There's pregens, NPCs, a sample adventure, several pages of solid GM advice, the entire Fate Accelerated ruleset, synopses of the movie and TV show (I didn't even know there was a TV show), and ... I just ... wow. I am deeply impressed.

    What a profoundly odd world we live in.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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    Story Structure [1st Edition]
    by Paul O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2016 13:57:59

    Interesting and informative, with clear we'll thought out advice. I immediately revised a plot structure I was making and it now looks much better.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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    A Study in Storytelling: A Scandal in Bohemia
    by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2016 08:36:07

    This book was well-written in terms of prose. There are a few places where mistakes were made that could have been caught with a careful copy-edit, but it is few enough to not distract entirely from the content.

    The story chosen is excellent. Doyle's writing makes for a good selection in terms of a story to deconstruct.

    The biggest issue I have with this is that it feels like a standard treatise on the 3 act story structure that uses A Scandal in Bohemia as an example. Reading the description of the book, I thought that it would be teaching me a framework to examine any story in this style, rather than reading how the author deconstructed 1 specific story.

    My advice to the buyer is this: Read the seed story (in this case A Scandal in Bohemia) BEFORE you purchase this book. If the story seems to be one that you are wanting to tell and you need help picking out the elements through the lens of the 3 act structure, get this book. If you are looking at examining how to deconstruct stories based on that 3 act structure without any preference for the source material, an internet search can find enough material on 3 act deconstruction to get you what you need.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    A Study in Storytelling: A Scandal in Bohemia
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    Character Design: Lover, Player, Sidekick
    by Patrick N. F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2016 14:09:23

    I found it too vague and generalized. It's an idea essentially without any real meat to sink teeth into.



    Rating:
    [1 of 5 Stars!]
    Character Design: Lover, Player, Sidekick
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    Building Characters [1st Edition]
    by Bill D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2016 15:10:30

    It is the perfect product if you wish to create concise motivations for characters. Well laid out and easy to use.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
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    Alignment [1st Edition]
    by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/23/2016 23:45:07

    I've always found it difficult to wrap my head around the traditional 9 alignments as originally presented in AD&D and since used in each subsequent D&D edition as well as Pathfinder. This book was an immense help in understanding the spectrum that comprises the axes of good-evil and law-chaos. The author has clearly given the topic a lot of thought, and presents a case for considering alignment in what may be a different light than what you're used to.

    The most valuable part of the book is the section that describes a way of declaring a character's alignment with a statement that sounds more like an aspect in FATE or a background in 13th Age than the traditional "lawful good." The author offers mechanics that will support compliance to the norms of a character's alignment statement, without unduely punishing a PC when their behavior deviates from the norm.

    As a 13th Age GM, I'll consider having my players select one of their backgrounds based on the statements described in this book. How many background points they invest into the background will speak to how powerfully they adhere to the alignment that the statement points to.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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    Building Characters [1st Edition]
    by Phill W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/18/2016 05:16:52

    As a person who has a lot of general ideas but struggles with details, this is a big help. Really walks you through the generation of charecter background and allows for as much depth as one could want. Highly reccomended. Does contain some edditing issues but nothing that makes it unreadable.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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    Building Characters [1st Edition]
    by Brian A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/16/2016 13:20:57

    Again, not to make two reviews sound the same, but I've read a number of books on building characters, not just for rpgs, but also for general stories. Most have different takes on the various archtypes, but this book combines alot of that information into a very easy to read synopsis. It also gives a ton of great ideas for character interactions and setting up the NPCs in a campaign for getting the most out of interactions, as well as between the characters. I highly recomend this book.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Setting Design [1st Edition]
    by Brian A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/16/2016 13:17:02

    I've read a number of books on setting, "world building" and putting together campaings, this book is very thorough, at 105 pages, with very little fluff. The information is useful for beginners and for more experienced gamers that I know I'll be refering back to quite often as I work on my own campaign.



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