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    Guide to Alpha Complex
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2017 08:14:05

    Addressed to the newly-decanted first clone, the first section provides basic orientation by the Computer itself to life as an Infrared clearance member of the Alpha Complex community. That's where a new individual begins, although your group may decide to start out as Troubleshooters (minimum security clearance is Red) so this discourse would then be in your past. It's all written in a wonderfully cheerful and slightly breathless style that combines a political manifesto's honesty with an over-enthusiastic corporate onboarding document, peppered with (deliberate) errors that look like a database has crashed somewhere...

    This continues through sections on gaining Red clearance, what Troubleshooters do, the enemies of Apha Complex, care and operation of your Cerebral Coretech and your very own copy of the Alphapedia - the database of useful information available online (via the cloud and accessible via Cerebral Coretech)... this all an in-character resource. Everything here may be accessed by characters and acted upon. Certainly once they reach Red clearance and become Troubleshooters, anyway.

    This gives a good overview of what life is like in Alpha Complex, the background to your adventures as Troubleshooters. It's a neat way to convey the 'common knowledge' that all citizens have about their environment and society, but which their players, naturally, do not have unless the GM lectures them for hours. Better than that it also brings over the general tone and style of the game, and the 'mindset' of the Computer, thus helping all involved to get into the correct mood to play the game to best effect. (That mood should be mildly irritated, a bit uncomfortable, and trusting nothing... keep your laser handy!). It is rather expensive to give each player a copy, which would be ideal gamewise, but having a copy to share around will enhance your enjoyment of the game as it sets the scene so well.

    All good Troubleshooters should remember to stay alert, trust nobody and keep their lasers handy. And the Computer is your friend...

    [Note: This is a 5-star book, but it's over-priced hence it loses a star.]



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Guide to Alpha Complex
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    Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/29/2017 12:15:18

    Starting with the Player's Handbook we're confronted with the friendly invitation "Start with this book to become a proud throubleshooter of Alpha Complex". There's the air of one of those faintly embarrasing and over-eager corporate employee handbooks. The information is aimed at novice role-players and begins with an example of play... which ends up with everyone in soup. Why is anybody's guess. Perhaps we'll find out later. Next, the character sheet is explained, along with everything that goes on it. Each character's stats are Violence, Brains, Mechanics and Chuzpah; and these are used in combination with their Skills - they're listed with the appropriate Stat - when you try to do anything.

    That explained, we get down to the character creation process itself, with a neat system of group creation that pre-loads the party with tensions and links between individual characters. Everyone gets to choose their own name, appearance and gender (with a note that gender is basically immaterial, the Computer doesn't care... but heterosexual relationships are treasonous as they mock the Computer's genius at cloning, but the Computer has no programming to understand homosexual relationships so they are neither banned nor condoned!). Then you start picking skills, in a manner such that when you choose a positive rating in one, another player gets a negative rating in the same skill. It sounds weird, and probably is to anyone new to Paranoia, but has a strange logic that fits this addmittedly unusual game well. Stats are generated by adding up the skill points under each one - but then your neighbour at the table gets to allocate the numbers generated across the Stats. It makes more sense (and more party conflict!) when you do it than it does to write about it! There are various other bits - treason points, XP points, Moxie and so on - then we look at Secret Societies and Mutant Powers, both of which are treasonous before we even start! The GM allocates these, no options here.

    The core game mechanic used whenever you want to accomplish something involves rolling a number of dice equivalent to the appropriate Stat and Skill - this is your NODE (Number Of DicE). And a Computer Dice (no, this isn't a grammatical mistake, that's what it is called), which is always rolled even if the Stat and Skill combined is not a positive number. A 5 or 6 rolled is a success and the number of successes are added to give your result (with any appropriate modifiers added in). Like all game mechanics, once you've tried it a few times it becomes far less cumbersome than it sounds when written out. Puschasers of the hard-copy version of this set get a special Computer Dice, the rest of us have to improvise - perhaps a different-coloured D6 from the others you are rolling with one number designated as the 'Computer'. When you roll that, interesting things happen. The Computer is your friend, after all.

    Next is a description of Moxie, which you want to hang on to because when you run out of Moxie points you freak out. This takes the entire gameplay to new levels of silliness, with some of the suggestions here being quite amusing. Then we get on to combat. This is moderated by Action Cards, which are doled out by the GM in a manner not explained here (but which may be expained in the Gamesmaster's Handbook when I get to that in a bit). You get one action per turn, and may play one Action Card during your action, then follow the directions on the card. Preprinted cards are provided (PDF users have to print them out, of course). Being Paranoia there is also a zany way to determine combat order, called the Dynamic Yet Narrative Action Melee Order system or DYNAMO. Just to add to the fun, combat is played real-time. It all sounds horrendously complex - and it is! - but it transforms combat into something quite unique... pretty much like the rest of this game, actually. It then calms down a bit to tell you how to actually resolve combat.

    While the various new game mechanics - from character creation to combat stuff - all add to the flavour that is Paranoia at its best, we then hear about a new concept: the Cerebral Coretech. This is a kind of direct link from the Computer into your character's brain. To model communications with the Computer at the game table, it's suggested you text on your phone... passing notes is so old school. And then we get onto XP Points or Better Living Through Gamification (which is, I believe, the first use of gamification in a role-playing game, she says putting her academic head on for a moment!). These are not what you normally think of as XPs, rather than being used to rise in level or develop your character as in most games, they can be spent to get goodies - equipment or other advantages - to give your character a boost. Or you can increase skills or even security clearance... there's a whole catalogue of stuff to choose from. This book ends with equipment information (fairly general, most is on Equipment Cards) and decidedly treasonous information on Secret Societies.

    On to the Gamesmaster's Handbook. Slightly saner in tone, this provides what you need to know to run Paranoia games, starting with an explanation of what Alpha Complex actually is like. Then there's advice on GMing Paranoia, including basic advice for those new to GMing at all. There are some revolutionary ideas here, like the GM doesn't roll dice, leave that to the players. It's fine to make things up and decide what happens rather than leave it to chance. It's not abitrary, it is appropriate and in the spirit of Paranoia. But you can roll dice if you really want to. There are notes on setting difficulty levels for players to roll against, and a discussion of what the Computer really is. Explanations of security clearances, mutant powers and secret societies follow... oh, and there are even non-treasonous societies clones can join too. There are cards for Secret Societies which you issue to players, with strict instructions to keep them, well, secret. Even from the other players, but there is considerable more information here. And there's more... computer viruses (which may or may not exist), much more about equipment and how it fails, issuing XP points, the use of the Number 1 Troubleshooter Card, and the all-important Running Combat section. The book rounds up with a bucket-load of good advice about running Paranoia, notes on creating adventures, and some comments about humour in RPGs. And random tables for the Computer Dice and for Losing It (just in case you need some ideas...).

    The final book is the Missions Book. This provides three linked adventures all ready to go. There's some basic advice for someone who's never even role-played before and has still been asked to GM, then on to the adventures themselves, each ought to be capable of being run in a single session each. If run in order, they provide a good introduction to the game, and to Alpha Complex. Pre-generated characters are supplied for those who want to dive straight into the action, there's also a bare-bones summary of the rules. Everything is presented very clearly and simply: you could literally pick this up not knowing anything about Paranoia or even role-playing and make a credible stab at running the first adventure provided you follow the instructions. In the first adventure, the characters are Infrared clearance, the lowest of the low, but they ought to graduate to Red clearance, and Troubleshooter status, by the end. The next two build on that, giving more insights and more grief to the party.

    Paranoia is back, and with a vengeance! The true spirit, the flavour of the original game, is well-reflected in its new incarnation, with some innovative quirks and new game mechanics that serve only to inhance it. Paranoia's not for everyone, but it makes an excellent antidote to more serious games, and this new edition will not disappoint newcomers or those who have played every previous edition alike. The Computer is your friend...



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
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    OGL Horror
    by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2017 20:05:04

    I'm not going to review the rules part; you're all familiar with d20, love it or hate it, and that's not why I bought it. No, the reason I purchased OGL Horror was to mine it for its horror rpg advice from Gar Hanrahan (who, to my knowledge, so far has written four great horror adventures; Black Bag Jobs, Invasive Procedures, Arkham Detective Tales and Zalozhnyi Quartet).

    And for 5 bucks, that chapter on GM'ing alone is worth buying this book for. "Turning the screw" (pages 181- 203) is one of the best sections on methodical horror game mastering and creative horror story telling I've read, actually.

    In addition, the two chapters on the use of madness in an horror game and the chapter on supernatural ability and spells (i.e. pages 148-169) are also interesting if you, like me, are only mining the rest of this book for things to scavenge into your own favourite system (...which ought to be Chill 3e, by the way).

    Anyway, with my limited interest in OGL Horror, what did I think could have been done to better effect? Well, the sample campaigns at the end felt somewhat flat. And I missed some interspersed examples from actual play to bring this book and its advice to life, really. Also, in the monster chapter, it felt like psychological aspects in the design of and forensic taxonomy to identify the paranormal entities were lacking. But as a d20 game, it's probably fair to assume that OGL Horror aimed for a somewhat younger audience than, say, the excellent "Horror Recognition Guide".



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    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    OGL Horror
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    High Guard: Aslan
    by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2017 15:27:55

    MgT's High Guard: Aslan adds more flexiability to the High Guard construction process for the gearhead that likes more diversity in ships that can be designed.



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    High Guard: Aslan
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    Referee's Briefing 4: Mercenary Forces
    by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2017 15:25:01

    MgT's Referee's Briefing 4; Mercenary Forces is a good product for adding to the mix of possible interactions with players.



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Referee's Briefing 4: Mercenary Forces
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    Central Supply Catalogue
    by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2017 15:22:35

    Overall I like the MgT Central Supply Catalogue since there is a lot of good material to help fill up a ship's locker. The ability to customize many of the products is a bonus.



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    Traveller Starter Set
    by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2017 02:38:33

    An unessential purchase if you already own the Traveller Core Rules, as two-thirds of this are essentially a reprint - albeit separated into two books (Book 1 and 2). Book 3 is a pretty good campaign, based around a hostile alien species, but is sold separately if you want to save costs.

    All that said, this box is very much a deluxe edition of the game, along with extra maps and the campaign. It has an excellent, full colour presentation throughout and is, arguably, the best looking Traveller product ever. The game itself is capable of sustaining compelling and diverse storylines for years. The rules here are complete, including World design, Combat, Psionics, Encounters, Trade, Spacecraft operations and a range of off-the-shelf starships and vehicles to choose from (everything in the core rules), although the rules for designing your own ships and vehicles are sold seperately in High Guard and Vehicles respectively. If you've not experienced the Traveller RPG before, you couldn't buy a better introduction.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Traveller Starter Set
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    Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
    by Desmond D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2017 12:29:19

    This is by far the sleekest edition of Paranoia yet. Citizens who have played the series predecessors will know that's not the largest accomplishment, but will also know that such claims of Paranoia ever being clunky are treasonous. Nevertheless, this reboot manages to cut off most of the frustrating cruft that got in the way of games in the system. Notably, building characters has been simplified, with mutant powers, secret societies, and equipment bound to cards that can be randomly dealt, or distributed intentionally as appropriate.

    Skill checks have a uniquely Paranoia feel to them, despite being a completely new system. It's a little sad to see the d20 leave the system, but I think the game is better for it. The new system is a variation of d6 dice pool. Combat leverages the system well, and has instanced scarcity that keeps your options improvised and limited.

    The tone of the world has been smoothed out, it doesn't feel as disjointed where a serious game can't exist in the same world as a fun hectic one. In this system, the serious world is hectic. You can kill at will, but there are repercussions for doing so without authority. The world feels more real, but is still flexible enough to fit many past playstyles.

    My primary complaint is that the system seems to throw the past secrecy out the window in favour of simpler play. For me, one of my favourite parts of the game was the secrets you would keep from other players. The passed notes, and brief suspicious walks into the other room before things start to explode. You can still do this in the new system, but the design seems to default towards players being open, but characters being in the dark.

    Overall, great game, support these guys. I think this is one of the best intro-to-rpgs systems I've seen in awhile.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
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    Robots of Unusual Size
    by David K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2017 15:33:48

    Unfortunately, this mission supplement does not live up to the high standards of past Paranoia adventures. In this short module, the players are sent on a mission Outdoors in a slow-moving vehicle. The biggest weakness of the book is simply the lack of content: literally, nothing happens between the prologue and the finale. There are no challenges or encounters for the players to interact with along their journey, nor are there interesting devices in the vehicle for them to challenge each other with. Additionally, despite the fun title, the adventure is not a reference to The Princess Bride.

    Overall, "Robots of Unusual Size" is strictly inferior to the missions from the Mission Book included with the Paranoia set, which are fantastic. For game masters who want a fun mission that takes players to the Outdoors, try to get a copy of "A Question of Ballast", which was included in the old Paranoia Flashbacks Redux Redux book. That mission takes the players in a hot air balloon in a quest to disable nuclear landmines. Along the way, they are forced to deal with a malfunctioning heater, and must choose what (or who!) to throw off of the balloon.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Robots of Unusual Size
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    Paranoia Forms Pack
    by Eric A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/20/2017 20:45:16

    So I got these pretty much expressly for the purpose of printing them out but they aren't scaled for 8.5x11? Which strikes me as a weird choice. Also, because this is a digital file, there's no reason to give me multiple copies of the same form in one massive file. It's a digital file. I can reproduce it for personal use. A collection of form fillable single files would be way more useful. Or an editable header system that I can fill in to make custom forms would have been great. As it stands I have a few forms repeated a LOT seemingly just to bump up the page count, no way to use them as digital files since they're all merged and no way to print them without messing around in my printers size scaling settings for awhile to get something close to what I want. Like, what I assume happened was they made this as if it was a physical book and then just uploaded the PDF without considering what the actual needs of someone getting this as a digital file would be. Which is sloppy and pretty disappointing from a company that publishes what has been, across many editions, my favourite RPG.



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    Paranoia Forms Pack
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    Legend
    by Andrea G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2017 10:35:56

    It looks like a very solid game, and the art looks great too!



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Legend
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    MPS Complura-Class Passenger Liner
    by Wayne G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2017 14:29:18

    Travellers travel, and typically book passage on a scheduled route like anybody else. If it's going to be a passenger liner, instead of waving your hand and saying "And you arrive at Praxis IV," they can have adventures enroute. The Complura-Class Passenger Liner is perfect for that scenario.

    The deckplans are extensive and keyed, no matter where the characters wander. I enjoyed the booklet's Exotic Dish d66 table, which serves up delights like Scrambled maharedi eggs, Living sting beetle maggots, and Thin slices of crispy fried nijima sausage.



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    MPS Complura-Class Passenger Liner
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    Vehicle Handbook
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2017 07:43:16

    Spacecraft are all very well, but once you reach your destination, how do you get around? Having the appropriate land, sea and air vehicles can go a long way to making other planets feel real, alien, exotic... or whatever impression you are trying to get across. Vehicles can also be a source of adventure: perhaps it is hard to get hold of one when you need it, or maybe offworlders have to use a specific form of transport. Indeed, they can end up being the adventure: many years ago, a spectacular Traveller adventure was spawned at a Games Fair convention in the UK when a bunch of players decided that they weren't staying around for the riot that had broken out and stole a groundcar... unfortunately none of them knew how to drive it, and their exploits on the way back to the starport became the stuff of legend!

    The Introduction lays out the purpose of the book clearly. The design system is simple and straightforward, but fits in with everything else so far published. The emphasis is on what the vehicle can do, how fast it goes and what it can carry. That's what you need to know as far as game mechanics are concerned... most of the rest is window-dressing.

    Chapter 1: New Rules provides some additional rules that you will need to make it all work. There are notes about resupply and maintenance, sensors, detection of vehicles and even things like can the vehicle tow something else (or indeed, be towed)... and of course the pleasures and perils of the used vehicle market! They also may be specifically designed for a purpose: combat, say, or off-road operation.

    We then move on to Chapter 2: Vehicle Design. It's a seven-stage process, very streamlined, and once you are used to it you can crank out new vehicles in a matter of minutes. Actual construction times and costs are likely to be a little more, though there are advantages to mass-production. Most parties will be looking to buy (or rent) rather than make their own vehicles from scratch, however. Starting with chassis type and tech level (stage 1), you then decide the number of 'spaces' the vehicle has (stage 2, which determines the basic parameters for the vehicle), add weapons and armour if required (stage 3), customise it if you want to (stage 4), work out how many crew are needed and passengers can be carried (stage 5), allocate cargo space (stage 6), and finalise your design (stage 7)... and you're done! This is a toolkit rather than hard and fast rules, and the Referee is always at liberty to deviate if desired. An example (a fairly ordinary-looking ground vehicle, a rugged van basically) is worked through in detail to demonstrate the process, and the next four chapters go into more detail about chassis types, armour, weapons, and customisation.

    Grouped by basic chassis type - light ground vehicle through gravitics-powered and unpowered ones, then boats, submersible and aircraft - there are loads of options to help you come up with exactly what you need. You can even have ornithopters and walkers if you want. Armour is generally a case of strategically-placed plating, then on to weapons, as many and as varied as you can imagine. Weapons can be mounted in various manners, and a wide range of generic ones are provided... and then comes customisation. Your imagination is pretty much the limit, although there are suggestions galore and an in-character advertisement for a vehicle design consultancy!

    Next, things get a bit exotic with Chapter 7: Biotech. This may or may not be commonplace in your universe, or it may be very localised. The chapter assumes that it is rare but possible, and assumes it needs at least a TL10 world to create biotech vehicles, but that the biotech vehicles themselves operate two tech levels lower. If biotech is commonplace, you can ignore these restrictions. Again, maintenance and repair may be problematic if biotech is unusual, but straightforward if such vehicles are readily available. Some exotic versions of chassis types and weapons are provided, but feel free to go wild!

    This is followed by Chapter 8: Drones. These can be remotely piloted or autonomous, and there's an interesting sidebar about whether you should use robot rules rather than these drone ones to create them. The conclusion (apart from leaving it open to the Referee to decide) is that a drone is specifically an unmanned vehicle, a robot can do most anything. Perhaps drones are a subset of robots? (Maybe I should ask the computing ethics class I'm teaching after lunch!)

    If your head is swimming with all the choices, never fear... the final section is Jayne's Guide to Vehicles of Charted Space, a vast array of pre-generated vehicles of all sorts that you can use straight off... or customise a bit, first. Each one comes with a description, cost, appropriate statistics and an illustration. Conveniently, each occupies a single page so PDF users may print off just the pages they need. There does seem to be rather a lot of military vehicles, fine if you are equipping some mercenaries but of less use if you've just landed and want to go sightseeing!

    Overall, a robust system which meshes well with the rest of this ruleset... but in some ways a little uninspired. Consider the science fiction books you've read or films you have seen. Describe the vehicles in them... sometimes troubling to codify everything bogs you down. OK, so you need to know how fast it goes and what it can carry, how much damage its weapon does... as for the rest, let your imagination run riot. This system will let you slot in whatsoever numbers and game mecahnics you need.



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    Vehicle Handbook
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    Vulcan Class Logistical Production Unit
    by william b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2017 13:21:42
    Well thought out, with useful information and suggestions for both Ref and Player. Even thug there are no deckplans included it isnt a problme for this particular vessel. Since it is likely that every vessel of this type will be different and players will not be spending a great deal of tie aboard the vessel. A Quick tuhmbnail sketch of the interior created by the Ref should be all a game session might need.

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    Vehicle Handbook
    by Christopher R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2017 20:01:24

    Lots of great options. From bicycles to massive anti-grav battleships, if you can invision it you can build it. The system is easier to follow then the one for spaceships (High Guard), but then again a minivan isn't as complicated as a starship.

    My main complaint is the example vehicles don't go tell you how many spaces are being used for crew/passengers. The book suggests 1–5 (or more) per person, but the exact number isn't given for the examples.



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    Vehicle Handbook
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