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    Story Design: Chase Stories
    Publisher: Dancing Lights Press
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/30/2020 23:25:57

    All of the Story Design guides help me find the key story beats for my adventure, broken down into act I, act II, and act III. I find preparing with some points in mind doesn't limit player agency and heightens the tension and reward.

    I bought all these in a bundle and they're quick and handy references. The price is right either way.

    Chase could have been a little more concise (14 pages could have been 7), but the reminders are useful for setting up a subplot and resources that change the direction in the second act.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Story Design: Chase Stories
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    Savage Worlds Urban Chase Deck
    Publisher: Happy Monster Press
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 05/05/2020 02:57:53

    The PDF has 16 cards with 16 unique urban chase complications. There's a companion deck you can buy separately for rural chases. Overall, I'm glad to have this to use, but based on this I won't buy the rural deck. It just feels average and this didn't raise the bar compared to other decks for Savage Worlds chases.

    Ideas: There are 16 unique chase complications. Most are average (dodge the cart at -2 or be bumped), but I think any GM can bring them to life in a fun way. A couple are really fun and will spice up your chase.

    Presentation: The art on each card is a unique, true, but the art is a really poor quality top-down 3D render view of streets and rooftops, and they seem the same. The typeface on the cards is something like bad handwriting, making you slow down to read them. If it weren't for the borders, you might be able to put down the cards to form an actual chase map of the area. I wish the art were more colorful or perhaps more bold and cartoonish.

    The PDF has the card back on one page, the card face on the next page, and so forth. If you're going to print them at home this is going to be a lot more work to cut out. If you're going to upload to a VTT, you'll have to extract each card illustration and upload them. It might have been nice to get a folder full of PNGs. And they don't have rounded corners, so they won't look very good online.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Savage Worlds Urban Chase Deck
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    Buccaneer: Through Hell and High Water
    Publisher: Fabled Environments
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 04/27/2020 16:26:24

    I play 50 Fathoms, SWADE, and I'm adding Buccaneer's ships and naval combat rules to my games. Finally ship combat rules that are fluid, tactical, and as personal as the players.

    In Buccaneer, ships have skills linked to attributes, and hindrances and edges. A ship with a superior (d8) rigging attribute might take rigging-based skills like Pursue and Run Silent, while a ship with d10 tonnage might take skills like Boarding and Ramming. Now add an edge like "Helmsman's Dream" and a hindrance like "Fire Trap".

    If your players want a unique ship that will call for unique battle tactics, Buccaneer has it. SWADE and 50F are pretty generic in this regard, and PotSM is more a system of vehicle movement with acceleration and turning arcs. IMO this has more drama.

    Battles are theater of the mind: The captain calls out orders, and crew tries to execute them AND take heroic (normal PC) actions. You're making skill rolls, so learning and playing this is fast. It adds hit location, like gritty damage, to every shot.

    The combined result really delivers a naval battle feeling in a fun and furious way. If that's all you take from this book, it's money well-spent.

    The book is huge (305 pages), rich with setting lore, edges, and character archetypes, and at least two other major features: A voodoo magic system (10 pages), with trappings and spells to feel utterly unique, and an adventure generator (28 pages), which generates adventures with a hook, classic challenges, and then escalating problems, a plot twist, and a reward. I haven't played using either yet but plan to fold them into my 50F campaign.

    Four stars instead of five because it really needed an editor.

    • The sloop on page 123 has "prow" as a stat. In the Ship section, it's not mentioned once in 15 ship examples.
    • The rules for attributes like Mastery and orders (skills) like Broadside are unclear when the ship takes Mastery damage.
    • The ships on page 110 have a "damage" stat, ranging from 1 to 2. It takes some digging to determine that this is the number of hit location cards the guns draw, and it's based on the number of guns, not the size of guns.
    • It really could have used summary tables for player skills, ship orders, edges, and hindrances.


    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Buccaneer: Through Hell and High Water
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    Savage Worlds Adventure Edition: Power Template Pack
    Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/23/2019 10:19:31

    This is nice to have but of average quality. It might suit your game perfectly. The Arcane template is the best, with circles of intricate symbols and layers of swirling energy.

    Elemental magic is a pretty common trapping, in my view, and while this has fire and ice I wish it also had earth and air (unless you count lightning as air). On the other hand, this has other trappings that are less common and might be hard to find elsewhere.

    It would have been great to have insects or some kind of swarm of particles.

    This is a PDF, so there are no transparent elements. This could have been really fun with layers and swirls of mixed transparency for use in VTTs.

    Since this is designed for printing and cutting, it would have been nice to print some of the AoE rules on the backs of the templates... If evadable, roll Agility -2. If prone, AoE damage -4. For 2 pts, avoid allies. Etc.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Savage Worlds Adventure Edition: Power Template Pack
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    Narrative Action Chase Deck - Poker
    Publisher: The Rune^Forge
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/05/2019 18:05:38

    I haven't run a chase with this deck yet, but it's exactly what I was looking for. The obstacles are FUN, each with some options to play it. Having possible solutions spelled out makes it FAST to play. Finally, I can run chases that are not a slog of figuring rules, thinking up obstacles on the fly, and winging rules. This makes it work for me.

    It comes with rules for a three or five card chase (or more), and a simple rule system. You can use these cards with SWD or SWADE rules, but the rules here strip out bumps and boarding and other complexity to give you a quick and easy chase; they look solid to me. (But I haven't tried them in play yet.)

    About 18 of the cards are duplicates, but that's still a lot of variety.

    As an action deck, it works, but I prefer action decks that have a 1-52 number to save that 1-second "Is is diamonds or spades that goes first" question.

    The product description says you can take out the 24 vehicle cards to form a mini deck, but those cards aren't identified, so you'll have to figure this out for yourself.

    Four stars! Worth every cent.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Narrative Action Chase Deck - Poker
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    Creator Reply:
    THANK YOU!!! Please let us know how they work at the table if you don't mind!
    100 Names for Sailors and Pirates
    Publisher: Fishwife Games
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 10/30/2019 01:30:34

    Five stars for the names. They're terrific and often memorable. The first 95 are in alphabetical order by first name.

    I wish the names could easily be copied and pasted into other apps, and I wish they were grouped by ethnicity so I could quickly find a Spanish pirate name. But this is FUN as-is.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    100 Names for Sailors and Pirates
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    Hex Kit: Desktop App
    Publisher: cone of negative energy
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 10/26/2019 20:36:14

    For me, this program's weakness is also its superpower. You've seen the examples so you know the maps you can create are only going to look good but never great. Here's why that was a huge help to me:

    I'd been struggling to draw a map for a long time, starting, stopping, restarting, procrastinating. I had kind of a writer's block because no matter what I did, the map didn't measure up to my standards. When I bought Hex Kit its best looking map was below my standards and suddenly I stopped worrying about the texture and shadow of moutains. I simply felt free to just sketch in the mountains, rivers, and other features to communicate the important information. I was done in about half an hour and it was honestly exactly all I needed. My players loved it. I got back to running my campaign. And everyone said the map looked great!

    I love the way it randomizes different textures for a given terrain type, with just enough variety in desert or water or whatever to make it look interesting.

    Features I wish it had:

    • Horizontal hexes (flat on top)
    • Grids
    • Thinner (or no) hex lines
    • When dragging a cliff or coast line, instead of putting up a random tile, orient the new tile to connect to the previous tile, so I can just drag along the line. (You can rotate tiles with right-click but this means about 3 clicks per tile placed.)

    But mostly, Hex Kit lets you set aside becoming an artist/cartographer and quickly point and click your way to a map that tells your players where everything is and how dangerous it will be to get there. Now get back to running your campaign.

    I'm on the hunt again for a new map program that will work better with VTTs and produce better looking maps, but this will stay in my toolbox for the times I have mappers block.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Hex Kit: Desktop App
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    Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss
    Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 10/22/2019 23:08:54

    The writing is fun and engaging, doesn't feel padded out, and is about 10 pages. The art and format are solid: four stars.

    I think this might be useful to someone who has not played before, as a first step, but it lacked the coverage (all the aspects you should consider) and the process (how to come up with them) on character creation I was looking for, and also didn't have enough specifics on how to play in terms of connecting with the campaign and other players. Etiquette was covered, but only lightly.

    Passages like this are fun to read, but what's the real advice here?

    When you see two roads that diverge in the woods, you can take the road everybody uses (the brash instigator), take the one less traveled (strong and silent), or you can forge your own goddamn path (the oddity). As long as it's done with a sense of greater purpose and iron will, thou shall be thy own fucking boss!

    Overall, an average but entertaining purchase and read. Three stars.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss
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    Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorer's Edition
    Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 10/17/2019 23:33:49

    Now that the new rules (SWADE) are out, this hardly needs a review. It's the verision that got me into Savage Worlds and we loved it. At $10, it's still an affordable way to try it out, or to get books with mostly the same skills and edges so you players can have them handy. And there are plenty of adventures available this this. Compatibility is high.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorer's Edition
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    Story Design: Mystery Stories
    Publisher: Dancing Lights Press
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 10/17/2019 23:22:05

    This is a short (12 pages of content) and concise guide to creating a mystery that will work in your role playing game. It describes what happens in three acts, and that becomes the plot points in your 3 to 8 adventure sessions. It covers how to add subplots and a dramatic turn that will make the ending more satisfying. The use of NPCs makes it all feel more realistic. It helped me get a handle on what the key NPCs will be doing, what locations I wanted to pre-plan... The prep chapter (3 pages) was helpful. I gave me some handle on what to do if the players guess the villain early -- because knowing who did it is not the same as solving the mystery.

    The structure works for any kind of mystery where someone or some organization doesn't want the players to know something. It doesn't have to be a murder.

    I found this very helpful, and for a week I took about a half hour on my drive and answered the questions in the book, creating a different mystery every night. Before you know it you can really come up with some amazing stuff.

    It could be a little better if it had more specific advice about what to do if players miss a clue, or guess the villain, but there's another here to work with.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Story Design: Mystery Stories
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    Book of Spiders for Savage Worlds
    Publisher: BPB Games
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 10/17/2019 23:08:56

    This is one of my favorite RPG purchases in quite a while. My players were creeped out long before they met the spiders. I gave them every clue: Webs in the path, movement in the shadows, egg sacks in the foliage... and they were utterly unprepared for the special horror of a spider type I chose from this book. Each type is creepy and deadly and probably requires a different combat strategy. But mostly, each is completely fresh and not at all what your players are expecting.

    There are eight spider types, and two particularly strange ones are illustrated. I wish they all were illustrated, but this is worth every penny as-is.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Book of Spiders for Savage Worlds
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    Savage Worlds Adventure Edition: Power Cards
    Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 08/01/2019 23:51:33

    The cards are useful but the design could be better. The layout is 8 cards per page. They have crop marks and border lines to make hand-cutting them workable, but...

    Cons

    • The borders are very thin and if your printer misaligns even 1/16th of an inch when you print the 2nd side, they just don't work when you cut them. On an inkjet at home that's some expensive ink. Work around this by not printing the back and sleeving the cards.
    • They look like they are torn out of a detective's notebook; there is no magic theme to them. It would have been nice to have a few different backs to choose from (magic, psionic, weird science, strange gift, cleric/godly).
    • There are a couple of blank cards on a page of 7 other cards. It would have been nice if the layout was a full page of blanks.
    • If they also included a 1-card per page layout you could easily print subsets
    • If the layout put the stats along the top or side, you could stack/stagger the cards and see the key info. As they stand some data is at the top and some at the bottom.
    • You will hear again and again that SW spells are all about the trappings, but the cards have no fields to write trapping info
    • The text is wordy and that has forced them to use a small font

    Still, they're useful in making my favorite RPG play even faster.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Savage Worlds Adventure Edition: Power Cards
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    Amazons Set
    Publisher: Arion Games
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 05/27/2019 22:06:45

    2 stars, so I'll start with the cons:

    I was running a campaign of Amazons and was hoping the players would be able to use these at their heroes. Nope.

    Almost all of them are wearing g-strings. Prophetess, Enchantress, Temple Guard, Bladedancer, Warlord, Archer, Guard.

    A few have expressions that are either surprise or terror.

    I think all are blonde except the archer.

    The skin color is dark but it just doesn't look realistic or illustration quality. To be fair, it's shown on the cover photo in the preview, but I felt it looked worse somehow on the rest of the figures, even though maybe it's the same.

    As with all Arion paper minis, minis from the PDF will be about 28mm tall. If your players bring plastic minis they will be about 34-38mm tall, so these will appear comically small. You cannot zoom the PDF when printing because that will result in the minis at the edge of the page being cropped, and the art looking jaggy. However, this set includes the same minis in a PowerPoint file, and you can select and copy and paste and scale minis from there, basically one at a time. It's workable.

    PROS If you're running Amazons as bikini-mail crop-top NPCs, these will do the trick, including a few without weapons or armor at all.

    There are four Amazons riding dinosaurs or something, one with a look of terror and one with a confident look that indicates your players are in for trouble.

    These come formatted as flats or tri-folds, so you can use the form you'd like.

    Arion has a huge catalog so even if an individual set isn't terrific, the catalog still gives you a consistent art style across the collection.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Amazons Set
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    Creator Reply:
    I am sorry you were unhappy with the purchase. What I will do is create an Amazons II set. Let me know which figures you would like to see in the set, and I will design it to your spec.
    Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master
    Publisher: SlyFlourish
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 05/25/2019 15:50:04

    There are three books that are essential to becoming the GM you want to become, and this is the most important one. 100 pages and so damn clear and concise that you'll weep with joy. If you know all of this, it's concise and well-organized enough to be a refresher on any point you want to strengthen without wasting your time. And when you're learning new tricks (and damn, I learned a lot) the material has guides and examples to get you on your way.

    Buy this first. Read it. (Don't just put in on the pile.) Seriously, if you're going to run a pre-generated adventure, this is probably your highest value prep time. Read the first 30 pages of this before you read the adventure you bought and you'll get more out of the adventure. Skim it again after a month so you can put into practice a little more.

    Not affiliated with anyone, just a GM that likes happy and terrified players.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master
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    Seven Worlds Test Drive
    Publisher: Intellistories
    by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 05/22/2019 11:23:51

    The setting felt like The Expanse or perhaps Battlestar Galactica: Human-centric, realistic tech.

    I really liked three elements of the test drive:

    • Characters have "Ok Google", "Alexa" digital assistants that help with everything, including combat. "Joe, open the door" and "Mr. Turtle, show me security cams as we go, I want to avoid ambushes" are all fun. Each assistant has its own skills and personality to role-play.
    • Ship-to-ship combat had meaningful roles for pilot, gunner(s), and ship ops.
    • A nice hook into a larger mystery and the campaign

    I read the Test Drive once and then played it. I've bought the entire campaign in PDF form... Via the Bundle of Holding I got it all for about $20.

    The Test Drive is 7 pages of history and background, 11 pages of rules, 9 pages of adventure, and some pages of pre-gen characters and maps. It's Deluxe Edition and there is a conversion document available, so this didn't slow us down at all. I felt like in the test drive there was too much settting info, not enough adventure info. There were a lot of new rules to cover (zero gee combat, assistants, ship-to-ship, psionics) that had good examples but could have used more, or there could have been notes for the NPCs that detailed the tactics they would use. On a second or third play this would have been fine, but for my first play I wanted more guidance. In the heat of trying to keep combat moving, I forgot to apply a number of rules, and having them in the examples might have helped.

    It comes with two star maps and no guidance on why they are different or how to apply them in the test drive.

    The two tactical maps come with instructions for using Adobe's poster mode to print them... That's fine, but they could have simply been included at full-size in the PDF and saved me some extra steps.

    It didn't include any paper minis. It would have been nice to have them for the terrorists, miners, and pre-gen PCs.

    There's almost no opportunity to role-play in the test drive -- it's a series of combats. That was okay because combat with zero-gee rules and assistants is a unique element, as is ship-to-ship combat, so it was worth exploring. But more RP would have been nice... maybe something to deal with personalities and psionics, for example.

    I flat out don't understand Toughness: 7/9 (+2/+4). That's on me, but it was distracting.

    I highly recommend this if you're interested in the setting (and want to hook your players) and want to play a one-shot game. I'm looking forward to starting a campaign.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Seven Worlds Test Drive
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