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    V20 Beckett's Jyhad Diary
    Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/10/2018 03:08:13

    Absolutely fantastic; this just might be my favorite WoD book of all time... and I've read a lot of them. Ties together metric oodles of metaplot theads in clever ways, contains tons of new twists, and in general is a joy to read. Surprisingly funny in places, too.

    The only downside: this will be absolutely incomprehensible to anyone not at least somewhat familiar with Vampire: the Masquerade metaplot.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    V20 Beckett's Jyhad Diary
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    Better Angels: No Soul Left Behind
    Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 08/22/2016 01:54:12

    Ok, I'll admit I backed this Kickstarter just on the strength of it being done by one of the RPPR guys (excellent podcast!), and it being a campaign for a game by the awesome Greg Stolze didn't hurt. I received the book some time ago, but only now got around to reading it. Wow. Just... wow. I read a lot of rpg stuff, and this is the best thing I've read in a long, long while.

    It's a cynically hilarious take on modern (U.S.) high school education, and it shows that it's written by a real-life teacher -- there is a ton of darkly humorous material here about the realities of meager budgets, political backstabbing, and burned-out teachers. However, it's not nihilistic -- quite the opposite. The general theme is making a difference (however small) and the possibilities for redemption in a world where doing the right thing isn't usually all that easy. The book is giggle-inducingly funny, poking fun at pretty much everything, and the amazing this is that in addition to being a fantastic read it also sounds like a kick-ass campaign to play. The writing is flat-out excellent.

    The plot? A group of random students & faculty get superpowers via getting possessed by demons, and must use their powers of eeeeviiiiillll to work good. Or not, depending on player whims. There's a nicely convoluted back plot, and the whole thing culminates in an apocalyptic showdown well worthy of Buffy. The campaign is split into ten linked scenarios, with lots of extra material helping flesh out the town and inhabitants. Some very nice GM advice is also sprinkled among the general mayhem.

    It doesn't matter if you have the core game (Better Angels) or not. Get this. Read it. You'll be glad you did.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Better Angels: No Soul Left Behind
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    W20 The Poison Tree
    Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 09/14/2015 13:47:59

    Very entertaining. Shows Shadow Lord politics in a somewhat unusual setting, and has nice plot twists -- it's almost a detective story in spots, though one where investigation mostly involves tearing things apart with tooth & claw. I liked the Savannah as shown in the story, quite atmospheric. Of course, there are cliches galore here, and some of the plot twists can be seen coming (but not all). The ending is a bit too much a "saved by a plot twist!" thing to my tastes, but... hell, I had a lot of fun reading this, and I think it captured the spirit of W:tA very nicely. So, recommended. Excellent summer reading.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    W20 The Poison Tree
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    Silent Knife
    Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 09/14/2015 13:39:26

    Excellent debut novel. To be honest, I wasn't expecting anything this good, but was very happily surprised. While the female lead starts out as a bit of a cliche (hyper-competent vampire ninja, with dual katanas! :), she becomes much more interesting fast, as her past comes back to haunt her and several oddities in her fast promotion in vampiric politics slowly unravel. I liked how the book takes full advantage of Requiem's setting, as opposed to Masquerade; no more global vampiric monocultures and instead lots of local level "weird shit". In this case, interfaces with local mages, and some darker forces.

    The plot kept twisting and turning, and managed to surprise me a few times. Well done. :)



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Silent Knife
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    Heavy Gear Blitz! Blood Debt - Peace River Army List
    Publisher: Dream Pod 9
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 01/09/2014 03:48:18

    Nice (while we're waiting for the "proper" Peace River sourcebook. My only negative is the same complaint I have with many other Heavy Gear Blitz PDF packages: it's not clearly marked which is the latest version. In this case, the bundle contains three PDFS:

    HeavyGearBlitz_BloodDebt_PeaceRiverArmyList_ebook.pdf HeavyGearBlitz_BloodDebt_PeaceRiverArmyList_ebook_Updated_12_07_2013.pdf HeavyGearBlitz_BloodDebt_PeaceRiverArmyList_ebook_Updated_12_23_2013.pdf

    Which of these is the most up-to-date one? Your guess is as good as mine. It might be the "HeavyGearBlitz_BloodDebt_PeaceRiverArmyList_ebook.pdf". Or it might be the "HeavyGearBlitz_BloodDebt_PeaceRiverArmyList_ebook_Updated_12_23_2013" file. The files themselves contain no version information in the text itself (that I could see).

    This same problem applies to many other HGB book PDF bundles also, they contain various versions of various books with no clear indication of what is what version.

    DP9, please

    1) Clearly mark which file is the latest version, either by only including the latest (my preference) or by including some sort of README file explaining things. A running version number in the file name itself would also work.

    2) Add version information into the book itself, so I can use a PDF reader to figure out which file (version) is which.

    Preferably both of those. At the moment, it's all too easy to end up using an obsolete version of a HGB book by mistake, which is annoying.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Heavy Gear Blitz! Blood Debt - Peace River Army List
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    N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God (1e)
    Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 01/23/2013 04:35:24

    One of the best, if not the best introductory classic D&D adventure. Great mix of investigation, action, and sneaking around. While the module title does spoil the identity of the major bad guys, it's not a huge reveal (and of course the GM is free to tell the players what they are playing only after in becomes clear what they're fighting.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God (1e)
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    PARANOIA T1 Stay Alert
    Publisher: Ultraviolet Books
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 06/27/2012 05:48:30

    Stay Alert is a new Paranoia novel, from the also new Ultraviolet Books. Written by Allen Varney, designer of the new Paranoia game edition (originally titled “Paranoia XP”, until Microsoft started making threatening noises), it’s a fairly “classic” Paranoia story, reading mostly like a complex Troubleshooter mission.

    The main viewpoint is Fletcher-R, recently (as in: hours ago) promoted to Red clearance from the Infrared masses due to a happy accident. He quickly realizes that Red clearance gives him extremely nice perks (compared to lowly Infrared), but also that Troubleshooters may actually not be the bright and shining examples of righteousness he has been taught (and drugged) to believe. He manages to escape multiple quick deaths largely due to a new experimental drug called “Leery”, which – among other side effects – gives him hyper-alertness. Tasked with retrieving a lost helpbot (with distinct Microsoft Clippy overtones), he is also given somewhat conflicting objectives by his secret society, and a leadership position on his Troubleshooter team… which he quickly realizes puts him in the (laser) sights of the rest of the team.

    As noted, it reads largely like a classic, complicated Troubleshooter mission, with massive confusion about what is actually going on and who is plotting what. To a large degree, this is good, as it mirrors the helpless confusion Paranoia players ideally feel. On the other hand, the writing is a bit unclear at times, and the reader becomes somewhat confused too, which is more in the “bug, not a feature” category. The same can be said about many of the more complicated Paranoia game scenarios, too, of course: they can be so convoluted that the GM is left somewhat bewildered even after multiple read-throughs.

    It’s a fun read, with lots of black humor, and manages to mirror the feel of the game world very nicely. On the other hand, there isn’t all that much new here for experienced Paranoia GMs or players, which can be seen as a minor minus point. The title of the book reflects the drug the main character ingests, so since this is book one of a trilogy (“The Troubleshooter Rules”), I suspect the titles of the next two books (“Trust No One”, “Keep Your Laser Handy” I’d assume) will also reflect the themes in those books.

    If you like Paranoia and/or are interested in learning how the game world works, this is a very nice and entertaining read. People reading it without any background information will probably end up somewhat confused (though possibly also entertained).



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    PARANOIA T1 Stay Alert
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    PARANOIA S1 Reality Optional
    Publisher: Ultraviolet Books
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 06/27/2012 05:47:10

    Reality Optional is a new Paranoia novel from Gareth Hanrahan, one of the main developers of the new Paranoia game edition. I’ve enjoyed his work on the game a lot, and I really liked this book too. In fact, it managed to be better than I was expecting, and I was expecting something quite good to begin with.

    The story concerns one Jerome-G, a loyal (well, “ish”) employee of the Threat Obfuscation Department, tasked with creating new fake threats (so as to cover up real ones, according to the Computer’s brilliant plan). Things are fine and well (within Alpha Complex limits) until one daycycle when his “fake” threats start becoming real. The really do seem to be pirates (of the “yarrr!” variety) in the transtube tunnels, there really does seem to be a robotic independence movement, etc etc. Not that Jerome-G has too much time to worry about this, since he has apparently raised the ire of a Violet-level executive and his latest assignment (starting now) is reactor shielding duty. It’s a good thing he “accidentally” “found” this neat set of high-tech goggles, which allow him to view and bypass some Alpha Complex security settings. It’s a not-so-good thing that the goggles in question also seem to be raising a lot of interest. The kind of interest that wants to see Jerome-G become reactor shielding and the goggles moved to a more… deserving owner.

    It’s a really fun tale, and reads somewhat like an old-style spy thriller (with distinct Paranoia overtones). This time around, there really is a theme of “paranoia”, since Jerome-G needs to figure out who (if anyone) he can trust in a world where everyone has at least three ulterior secret motives. He is also convinced that a secretive uber-conspiracy controls everything in the background… and he may well be right. Gamewise, this book mostly reflects the “Straight” story style (with a dash of inspired craziness here and there) – while the Computer does at times execute citizens on a whim, the main dangers are getting demoted, fined, or otherwise lost in bureaucratic hell.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    PARANOIA S1 Reality Optional
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    PARANOIA Y1 Traitor Hangout
    Publisher: Ultraviolet Books
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 06/27/2012 05:45:36

    Traitor Hangout, by “WJ MacGuffin”, the pen name of a certain Paranoia designer/writer, is part of the roll-out of new Paranoia fiction from Ultraviolet Books. It leans more on the “zany” side that the other books, somewhat mimicking the “Zap” style of gameplay in the new Paranoia edition. Since that style isn’t my favorite, I wasn’t really expecting much of this book to be honest… but I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s an extremely fun book, and isn’t at all as much “zap” as I had feared.

    The story features Efficiency auditor Clarence-Y, a “mandate nerd” who can cite any of The Computers mandates word by word, but is quite lost in the wild world of human interaction. While generally well-meaning, Clarence-Y is hopelessly naive and actually believes that the Computer has everyone’s best interests at heart. Normally, such blue-eyed optimism would lead to a very short career and a possible end run as reactor shielding… but somehow, Clarence is doing fine. Maybe it has something to do with his one treasonous act, the sheltering of a small lab mouse (named “Ignatius”) which he feeds with food scraps and carries under his coat.

    In any case, in the name of Alpha Complex security Clarence is recruited to impersonate a notorious traitor, “Superstar Pirate”. An obvious suicide mission which nobody expects him to survive, making his survival all the more remarkable. Not to mention that he gets caught up in more and more conspiracies while doing his “job”, forcing him to infiltrate a number of additional secret societies armed with… nothing much. It should be impossible, but somehow Clarence, oblivious of danger, survives. And then things get messy.

    It’s a fun and well-written situational comedy, with Clarence acting as the naive foil to all sorts of crazy stuff. Sure, people get incinerated, terminated and killed in various other ways – but it’s still a lighthearted romp.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    PARANOIA Y1 Traitor Hangout
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    90 Phenomena in the City of Copenhagen
    Publisher: Dane of War
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 01/22/2010 04:01:24

    Very nice, with a strong Unknown Armies feel. I got this as part of the Haiti relief bundle (thanks!), but was very impressed by the quality here. More books in this style would be appreciated (and would go into my shopping cart asap :).



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    90 Phenomena in the City of Copenhagen
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    The Imperfect Lotus
    Publisher: White Wolf
    by Petri W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 01/04/2007 16:51:16

    Not worth the price, sadly.

    That's not to say that there isn't some good content here; there is, and I quite like some of the styles. But the book is seriously overpriced with regards to the page count and content, the $7 price would be high even for a corresponding printed book, let alone a PDF. Charging that amount of money for leftovers that didn't fit in the main book leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.

    Give this one a pass, unless the price drops or you're a fanatic Exalted collector.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    The Imperfect Lotus
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