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    d66 Planet Names
    Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 04/01/2010 17:25:34

    This is a list of 36 planet names arranged so that a roll of two 6-sided dice will give you a planet name. They're alphabetically arranged. Some are really cool ("Chilidres 3"), others potentially misspelled ("Heinlien"? Pronounced 'hine-lee-en', I suppose?), others flatly bizarre ("Cheney Rew"). Spelling probably doesn't matter much in a universe of alien names and words, but good spelling is the sign of a sound mind, so reviewer tilt one star down for the errors. However, fifty cents is exactly the right price for a table of this sort, so reviewer tilt up one star for that. If you're looking for 36 planet names in a 2d6 table, this is what you're looking for.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    d66 Planet Names
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    Geist: The Sin-Eaters Quickstart
    Publisher: White Wolf
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/15/2010 13:03:35

    I ran this quickstart adventure at a local gaming meetup with a varied group. Some had never role-played before. Others had role-played but had never played a horror game before. Others still had role-played, had never played a horror game before, and really disliked White Wolf games. (Why they decided to come play Geist with me I have no idea. Sometimes gamers are just weird, you know?)

    Anyway, by the end of the afternoon, everyone was very enthused about the game, including those that didn't like White Wolf games!

    In Geist, the players portray people who have died and been brought back to life by an unholy pact with a powerful and alien ghost called a Geist. This Geist has a particular resonance with types of problems/issues/deaths, depending on how it (and the player character) died. As a result, the characters are drawn into ghostly affairs and compelled to resolve them if they want to continue living. They also have issues with respect to how they are treating their "second chance" at life, everything from sybaritic pleasures to gloomy contemplation. A good variety of possible character motivations is presented in the sample PCs.

    The scenario is quite straightforward. There's a killing! The police are stumped. The Sin-Eaters must step in, recognizing the signs of ghostly interference. There are three significant plot points: a set of interactions with the dead and the police, in order to gather information, a research and investigation section in which the mystery is developed and the bad guy is tracked, and finally a face-off in which the Sin-Eaters must defeat a powerful and nasty ghost. It's a perfect length for an afternoon of play, even with those that have never played White Wolf games before. At the end of it, you feel like you've accomplished something and seen something of the World of Darkness even if you've only played a few hours.

    The powers the characters have are quite evocative. People liked being able to look at their sheets and get excited about the weird things they could do.

    On the down side, the character sheets in the quickstart are very small and not very usable. I ended up creating my own full-sized character sheets based on the ones in the quickstart. The players also muttered that the bad guy didn't turn out to be so tough, though I didn't agree with this - teamwork is such a huge force multiplier in the World of Darkness system that really virtually no bad guy stands a chance against 4-5 motivated player characters.

    All in all, I was very excited about this quickstart, and in the end it made me go and get the print version! That means it's doing it's job.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Geist: The Sin-Eaters Quickstart
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    Four-Color to Fantasy (Revised)
    Publisher: EN Publishing
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/15/2010 12:54:03

    Four Color to Fantasy was one of the first superheroic games to come out during the d20 boom and it showed a bit in its earlier edition. This, the Revised Edition, cleans up the system and presentation quite a bit, while expanding it further.

    Essentially, 4C2F is a bolt-on system to D&D Third Edition. It can be used as a standalone or in conjunction with the 3E class rules. The core engine that 4C2F introduces is the "hero" class, which gives the character points which can be spent on superpowers, similar to many other point-buy superhero systems. Thus, if you want to introduce superheroics into your fantasy system, you might have a Fighter 3/Hero 6, to reflect, say, an experienced soldier who was given an alien power ring after rescuing a crashed pilot.

    Fantasy in the D&D mold and superheroics have a lot in common - the heroes may or may not be paragons, but they are a cut above the common folks, and they take it on themselves to protect the innocent. Often they have magical powers and loads of cash. And the setup for most adventures is similar: here is a problem, it threatens people who can't protect themselves, and there's an opportunity for you to do good.

    The "hero" class can also stand on its own, allowing a more modern-day presentation, with some substitution of skills.

    Impressively, this purchase contains two versions of the material: first, a landscape format with graphics and bookmarks, intended to be used on-screen for those that use laptops at the table. The second is a more printer-friendly, bare-bones format without graphics, bookmarks or color. Rather than try to adapt a single file to two purposes, EN Publishing has really embraced the idea of customization for different methods of use at the table.

    4C2F is a classic, with all the good and bad that entails. At ten dollars, you really owe it to yourself to see how d20 superheroics got its first nod, and the versatility of the purchase at the table is a major plus. I'm giving this one my highest rating because it has stood the test of time and I still reach for it when I'm thinking of superheroic fantasy.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Four-Color to Fantasy (Revised)
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    Four-Color to Fantasy Revised Preview
    Publisher: EN Publishing
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/15/2010 12:45:19

    The purpose of a preview is to get across the basics so that you can make an informed decision on whether you want the full product or not. Four Color to Fantasy has a very particular way that they approach "fantasy superheroics" and this preview gives you an idea of what it is. (In sum, a new "hero" class gives a character points with which to build superheroic powers as with other, more obviously point-buy superhero games.)

    The price is free and the quality is good.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Four-Color to Fantasy Revised Preview
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    Strange Aeons
    Publisher: Bailey Records
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/25/2010 15:55:04

    "Strange Aeons" is a very interesting track. Although it is advertised as "Dark ambience for any Eldritch horror-inspired setting", I don't quite see (?) it for that purpose. It's a highly rhythmic 3:41 track with a strong, accelerating beat, featuring an Arabian-inspired sound. To my mind it brings images of night-time caravans crossing cool desert sands or shadowing someone through a busy Byzantine city into a full-on chase scene. At around 3:15 or so, it discards the beat and ends with similar ambiance to how it began, so it could conceivably be looped, though the driving beat may become monotonous if kept up too long. At 99 cents, the price is exactly right, so I'm reviewer tilting up one star for that. I definitely will be using this one in an upcoming game soundtrack, though perhaps not as advertised.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Strange Aeons
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    Thousand Suns: Transmissions from Piper
    Publisher: Grognardia Games
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/25/2010 15:48:28

    Thousand Suns: Transmissions from Piper begins with the following words: "Written by H. Beam Piper..." Although other authors are listed, those words alone made me sit up and take notice. H. Beam Piper is one of the most important science fiction authors who ever lived. (James Maliszewski's introduction is very good for the uninitiated.) His amazing stories influenced some of the greatest sf writers and visionaries of the genre. And this supplement takes these terrific stories and adapts them to gameplay for the Thousand Suns game.

    The Transmissions include three full stories and adaptations: Naudsonce, Last Enemy and Ministry of Disturbance. The adaptations for each story include specifics on how to adapt Thousand Suns to the requirements of the stories, which (for example) predated modern understandings of the ubiquity of computers and therefore use other technologies to accomplish what we today would expect to see spacemen use computers for.

    Naudsonce describes the difficulties of dealing with an alien species with unusual cultural and communications. The Last Enemy is an astonishingly well-crafted view of assassination in a world where reincarnation is a scientific fact. The Ministry of Disturbance takes history as its main subject, and what one leader decides to do when he sees his galactic empire beginning to stagnate.

    Each of these stories is accompanied by different sorts of science fictional problems from linguistics to reincarnation, and optional rules for how to handle each of them are well-detailed in the supplement. These rules are intended to help GMs further explore the ideas of each story, and they succeed admirably. Rather than being a hodgepodge, as so many science fiction games are, these explore one idea quite thoroughly - like the source material itself. As a story-oriented gamer, this approach has no equal.

    There are some minor typos, though nothing game-killing. There are no bookmarks or hyperlinks to jump directly to the material desired. However, I am so in love with this material, the format, and the stories, good lord, the stories, that I'm reviewer tilting this one up, up, up. This is exactly what should be done with the amazing stuff that is falling into the public domain now. Thought-provoking adventure and great gaming ideas!



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Thousand Suns: Transmissions from Piper
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    Instant Antagonist: The Selfish Succubus
    Publisher: FR Press
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/20/2009 11:35:54

    Full disclosure: I am friends with Jess Hartley, the author of this supplement.

    This is the first Instant Antagonist supplement from Flames Rising Press. It is intended to be used in any modern supernatural/horror game.

    There's a brief introduction to what the IA line is about, then a one and a half page story about (one version of?) the succubus.

    The next few pages are a physical and social description of the succubus and how she interacts with typical situations. There's an interesting but short summary of her "mind, body and spirit" which is meant to be used to translate her into the systems of your chosen game.

    The supplement concludes with three possible origins for the succubus as well as several story hooks.

    The strength of the supplement is the detailed examination of how the character interacts with people and situations. However, the main weakness of the supplement is that there isn't enough of this examination.

    For example, the character's behavior at parties and in intimate situations is thoroughly worked out. This is exceptionally good fodder for a GM. I have a clear picture after reading this how this character will be if the characters encounter her in those situations - something very few character supplements bother to do. But I don't have a clear picture of how she would react if seriously threatened, unsettled or if there was an obstacle in her way, for example, or what she actually does with "her" time. I feel like I can get the player characters to bite down on the hook but have really no place to land them. Nevertheless it's both unusual and really helpful to have a "social description" of the antagonist, since the characters are likely to encounter them in a social situation at some point and normally GMs are left just twisting in the wind with a very generalized "personality" block.

    Another big strength of the supplement is that the different origins discuss the different sorts of relationships and connections the player characters can be expected to feel with the antagonist. For example, if she is the "devil's daughter", she really has no control over her parentage and, as the supplement notes, the PCs may be sympathetic to her situation. On the other hand, if she gained her devilish powers through pacts with hell, the PCs may rightly condemn her. This is often not discussed in monster/antagonist materials - how is the origin and activities of the antagonist likely to contribute to the player characters' attitude towards them? The same is true for different player characters. If I'm running a game of crosses-and-stakes demon hunters, they are likely to have a different attitude towards Lily than a group of vampires who are themselves cursed to seduce and consume humans. They are also likely to react differently to her depending on the "rules" of the world as far as magic, demons and so on go. This is well fleshed out in the origin section.

    The story hooks are quite good, but they end up with too many questions without much guidance in how I should answer them as a GM. It's a good thing when you're providing adventure hooks to make them very broad so that they can be fit into different sorts of campaigns and groups - but there also needs to be enough to them that I can figure out whether I want to fit them in, and how I decide that.

    If I had to sum up this supplement (and I guess I do or else the review will go on longer than it does), I would say that it's got a lot of really awesome stuff in it that leaves you hungry for more. I hope the IA line is successful, it's an excellent idea - antagonists can really drive your story. Lily the succubus is a cool, iconic character who could turn up in any number of games that I've run over the last few years and certainly she is likely to turn up in one in the future, and that's the best recommendation I can give her.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Instant Antagonist: The Selfish Succubus
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    The Shotgun Diaries
    Publisher: John Wick Presents
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/18/2009 11:12:35

    This exceptional game is very simple, very fast-paced, and brings something new to the zombie RPG genre.

    It's 18 pages long, and the layout is simple - a handwriting font fills the page and grimy headings are bold.

    Character creation is as simple as picking an archetype of a zombie apocalypse survivor (Sneaky, Fast, Strong, etc.)

    The system is simple. You roll 6-sided dice in situations where there are zombies around in order to take risks and do something. One major omission in the game is that although the survivor archetypes say when they roll at least four dice for particular areas (guns, sneaking around, etc.), it doesn't say how much they roll normally, outside those areas. If you roll a 6, you get to say what happens. If you don't, the narrator does.

    An innovative Fear mechanic replaces the dice you roll with "Fear Dice" - and if one of those is the 6 that you use for success, then you must run and hide, or otherwise save yourself, often at the expense of your friends.

    There are mechanics to encourage sticking together and working together, as well as gathering and protecting supplies against the zombies. However, the most innovative mechanic of the game is the Zombie Clock. Every ten minutes of real time that goes by, the survivors' supply rating goes down by one, the zombie clock goes up by one and approximately a day passes in the game. The higher the number on the Zombie Clock, the more zombies the narrator can unleash on the characters. Zombie Clock points can also be used to introduce complications (the RV battlewagon is out of gas, the water in the faucets dries up, etc.) into the narrative.

    This mechanic, the core of the game, provides a solid and visceral way for the players to realize just how bad things are getting, and how bad things are likely to get when the zombies finally do attack.

    This is not a game for beginners. There is no guidance at all as to how to set scenes or who says what when. However, if you know what an RPG is, and you like the tension and suspense of zombie movies, you really owe it to yourself to read this excellent game.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    The Shotgun Diaries
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    Trollops Of Destiny
    Publisher: Dark Quest Games
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/18/2009 11:00:20

    This supplement is for any fantasy RPG. In 9 pages, it details 7 female NPCs. It goes into their histories, motivations, and gives a few adventure hooks for each, as well as romantic and/or sexual encounters that might be had with each of them. Since it is not RPG-specific, there are no statistics provided, though there are excellent guidelines for how the GM should assign statistics in the needed system.

    Don't let the cover fool you, not all of these women are either wanton or wicked. Some are quite nice. Others are just a bit forceful in getting what they want. One is truly deranged, and another is flat evil.

    What all of these women are lacking, however, is some kind of drive or desire that would make them real characters. When reading through the descriptions, I was struck with a simple idea: "So what?" Take the kindly beggar woman. Her description is interesting: she is quite charismatic and attractive, and able to use those skills to obtain money. She shares the money she obtains with other beggars at least in part because this keeps them around so that her flirtatious panhandling doesn't devolve into an assault. Well and good. But I am not sure what this adds to my story. Does she have a sinister admirer who is going to take decisive action which the heroic PCs must stop? Does she have a dream of living above her station that she intends to achieve by trickery and seduction? When I come to the end of her description, I don't really know what force she introduces into my story. She's interesting but not really worth spending time on without some drive.

    In general, this is a problem for most of the women. Some don't have any adventure hooks at all, and of the adventure hooks presented, most have to do with something happening to the woman rather than the woman taking action of her own volition. It would be hard for me to concoct a true "destiny" for them without any idea of where they're trying to go, for good or ill.

    Still, for nine pages, the price is right, and the guidelines on coming up with statistics for the system I want to use are very detailed and effective.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Trollops Of Destiny
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    d66 Ship Quirks
    Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/18/2009 10:44:51

    This is a list of 33 ship quirks. Those quirks, plus a few "roll some more and combine" entries are placed on a table arranged by two d6 rolls. If you are looking for a list of 33 ship quirks, this product is for you.

    The list is marred by more than one typographical and grammatical error, though the meaning is clear and given the short phrases it probably doesn't impact the usefulness of the product much. Still, correct spelling is the sign of a healthy mind, so reviewer tilt down one star for the mistakes.

    Fifty cents is exactly the right price for 33 ship quirks, so reviewer tilt up one star for that.

    In general, this product will give you exactly what it is advertised to deliver.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    d66 Ship Quirks
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    d66 Emblems
    Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/18/2009 10:41:47

    This is a list of 36 noble emblems arranged by two d6 rolls. They definitely make more sense as noble emblems than as, say, corporate logos or symbols. If you want 36 noble emblems, this is the product for you.

    Many of the emblems are quite cool. I like the "three pi symbols in a triangular shape" the best.

    At fifty cents for a page of 36 noble emblems, the price is right. Reviewer tilt up one star for that.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    d66 Emblems
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    d66 Mercenary Company Names
    Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/18/2009 10:38:16

    This is 36 mercenary company names, arranged by two d6 rolls. If you want 36 mercenary company names, this is the product for you. Some of the names are humorous ("Arm Breaker Security"), others imply interesting backstories ("Balax Officer Training"), at least one is an adaptation of a real world mercenary group ("Executive Outcomes").

    There's at least one glaring typographical error, either that or a "sic" is needed after "Irregular Infintry". (Were they trying to sell their customers "Infinite infantry" maybe?)

    The price is right, at fifty cents for a page of 36 mercenary company names, so reviewer tilt up one star for that.

    If you want what this product offers, it delivers exactly as advertised.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    d66 Mercenary Company Names
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    d66 Space Station Names
    Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/18/2009 10:32:29

    It's 36 station names arranged by two d6 rolls. If you want 36 space station names, this is the product for you. The station names are very good, some are quite evocative. I want to know what's gone wrong at the Yanix Torpedo Station!

    The price is right, fifty cents for a page full of pregenerated space stations, so reviewer tilt up one star for that.

    Not much else to add to this very short product that is exactly as advertised.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    d66 Space Station Names
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    d66 Aslan Names
    Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/18/2009 10:28:25

    This is 35 Aslan names on a page, arranged according to two d6 rolls, with a "roll twice" entry at the end.

    The price is right, fifty cents is about right for one page with a bunch of alien names on it. Reviewer tilt up one star for that.

    Some seem to be unpronounceable without a guide (quick, say "Krathyressaskhaiha"), which there isn't one, so reviewer tilt down one star for that.

    If you want 35 Aslan names on one page, this is the product for you!

    Not much else can be said beyond that.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    d66 Aslan Names
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    DAWG: the RPG
    Publisher: Kenzer & Company
    by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 11/06/2009 15:57:30

    When I saw this come across the site, I blinked at it. "Did someone actually write the fictional RPG that B.A. Felton did in Knights of the Dinner Table?" I asked. The answer is yes, yes they did. And, perhaps surprisingly, it's quite good!

    First, let's get something out of the way: this is absolutely, positively NOT a parody game. It's humorous, with all sorts of dog- and pet-related humor, but the humor isn't parodying roleplaying games at all. This is a real game. It is really meant to be played, for real, no takesy-backsies.

    In this game, as you can see from the description, the players take on the roles of dogs. Each dog has several statistics describing their strength, fighting ability and ability to influence humans and other animals. The system is a simple roll-over percentile system for most tests. You also have "Tricks", special doglike activities that give you particular abilities (such as shaking a smaller opponent like a ragdoll in your jaws). Combat also follows this simple system, with the tens digit on the percentile die being the base damage you inflict to a target that fails to dodge.

    The character generation system lets you pick the breed of your dog and their situation. The game seems well balanced in this area. A well-bred dog may have better attributes but is not as flexible. A dog that lives with a family lives under a lot of strictures and may not have the "street" skills of the stray, but is going to be more well-fed and healthy.

    The only area in need of improvement is in the GM section, which is a bit of a mish-mash of topics that should be better organized. Some of the ideas are hilarious and make you want to run the game right away, it's just difficult to keep track of them all.

    In short, this is an excellent little mini-game that should be a lot of fun. Kids would also like it, as it's simple and they can imagine themselves as their pets!



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    DAWG: the RPG
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