Sunday, July 28, 2013

From the Deeps of Space - Stefan Jones

A small Capellan force invades the home of the heroes, cutting it off...or Midville. e.g. avoid the USA, zombies and alien invasions, no problem. Wolf-reptile centauroids no less. So try and put a stop to this, hope a gravity random encounter doesn't get you sucked into a black hole and take the fight to the Capellan system. Which is the interesting part, with several alien races, subjugated and otherwise.

3 out of 5

Babylon 5: Faith Manages - Gareth Hanrahan and Ian Belcher

A d20 RPG, complete with classes and levels. Sheridan, for example is a 10th level officer/2nd level diplomat in 2259. The races are obvious and have various bonuses and penalties that add up to zero in the main. Abstracted space combat with funny names for various tactical manoeuvres. Ship stats, details on the station and the major characters and their statistics are given. Quite a lot of skills...perhaps an odd system to choose for a game like that. Good for background, though. Advice on using various settings or types of campaigns is solid. Terrible subtitle though. 3 out of 5

Always/Never/Now - Will Hindmarch

A short storygaming cyberpunk thriller game with some included characters to play. Traits, conditions, keys and edges. Stunt dice! 3 out of 5

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Deeds Not Words - Scott Lynch

A superhero game that is definitely done D&D style. Complete with classes and levels, with the former being superhero appropriate after choosing type, but not necessarily fitting together. While it has some flavour, just for superhero completists to use. If you want levels and D&D type stats and d20s, get Villains and Vigilantes...and if levels don't matter (at least the V&V ones are consistent and make sense...improving you in the same way, regardless) then DC Heroes/Mutants and Masterminds is a well designed game. 2.5 out of 5

Cold City - Malcolm Craig

A game set in post WWII Berlin about officers in a special police force that deal with monsters, whether created by nazi experiment, supernatural or from Beyond Space and Time. A multinational force - Britain/USA/Soviet/French. Because only the Northern Hemisphere is crazy enough to 1) Start World Wars and 2) Summon Elder God entities. Simple d10 pool mechanics with three attributes physical/social/mental and various character traits/aspects written down. With positives and negatives. Suggestions that it could be run as pulp...e.g. Hellboy...the movie being listed in the bibliography as an inspiration along with Ultraviolet, the RPGs Sorcerer and Dogs in the Vineyard and Charles Stross' Colder War story. Also noir, dark horror or black comedy. The middle two would seem to fit better and the mechanics are simple enough you could use it as a sourcebook. Lots of non-fiction in the bibliography too of horror,war, atrocity and crazy zero point experiments. That is, replace it with say, Night's Black Agents or Call of Cthulhu if you kept the more modern roleplaying trait/aspect parts....or FATE of course. In fact so much so that the actual game mechanics etc. need more highlighting, perhaps with examples at the end/GM screen/reference type devices to point them out. With the consequences, d10 dice pools etc. These are simple enough for anyone to understand quickly...and d6 could presumably be used too. The idea is a group of characters would all be Reserve Police from different countries with secret agendas and different trust levels and stereotypical tensions and problems based on these to begin with. All the while trying to avoid being eaten by mutant werewolf killer type monsters that you are investigating. Or just nasty spies and criminals and military types all out to get you. So a useful intro game for those whom a cop or spy thriller or horror story would work for, too. 4 out of 5

ViewScream - Rafael Chandler

A game the author calls a VARP - video assisted roleplaying game. The idea being via hangout you play various space horror scenarios without breaking character as a particular role on a ship, Engineering, Medical, Bridge, etc. Various scenarios are included along with guidelines for keeping the game going. 3.5 out of 5

Dawn of DNA - Ken Campbell

Module with a supergenius villain with a motley crew who has invented a zombie-making pill of dubious effectiveness. 2.5 out of 5

Living Legends - Jeff Dee

A simpler old style superhero RPG from one of the Villains and Vigilantes creators. 3.5 out of 5

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game - Cam Banks

Interesting and perhaps more cinematic story oriented Marvel RPG with say Savage Worlds dice naming crossed with FATE and condensed non-granular power levels with a more complex mechanic. Characters take up a lot of page space when laid out and described this way, so few of them included...although the DC Adventures recent gamebook suffers from that, too. 4 out of 5

Edge of Space - Matt Thompson

A fun little human grunts vs alien monsters game. Think really light Traveller (only several pages) combined with Aliens atmosphere with a couple of clever touches like Strings. 3 out of 5

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple - Daniel Solis

Collaborative storytelling hijinks, a little like if a kinder, gentler, Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy had to do a report on how they got intro trouble while travelling as youngsters. 3 out of 5

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dawning Star: Operation Quick Launch - Lee Hammock

A d20 science fiction based on the d20 Future SRD which I haven't read - referencing tech levels from there a la Traveller. In the mid 23rd century a big dark thing threats to destroy the Earth, so colony ship time. And First Contact time...leading to a frontier settlement. So all solid...on the planet this references, Eos, there are also native primitive aliens to go along with the advanced flavour met in space leading to a variety of story possibilities. Colony ship had 180,000 Hit Points apparently. So you can have a 7th level Lawman if you fancy that sort of game, or a 5th level engineer fixing the rarer Mecha, or a pilot, etc. Quite solid and serious but definitely overly verbose. 3 out of 5

Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set - Gary Gygax

The Moldvay classic. Who knew the kiddies would go for magenta. Puce, cerise, mustard or duck-egg probably would have worked, too. Or calf-spew yellow-green given the coolness of this at the time. And the clarity. With dice! Apparently some even wanted to be hobbits...but chances were not going to live long the old 3d6 rolling 1st levels. 4 out of 5

Shadow Sword and Spell: Threats - Richard Iorio

A solid tome of adversaries, from vampires and dragons to bandit lords. Undead mummy lords, Lovecraftian entities, demons, devils and abilities to give your own creations flavour. 3.5 out of 5

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Battle Above the Earth - Steven Crow

A good old invasion by tough lizard men. So encounters with those and with a group of supervillain hirelings in a space station...the interesting part. Especially if anyone wants a space station map. Just ok otherwise. 3 out of 5

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Assassin - Thomas Dowd

A sequel to FORCE as the deteriorating android has a Central American army banana republic scheme...and political android replacement plans with yet more supervillains working for him. The heroes get a mysterious government agency and super agent to work with, Also a backup mini adventure plot bonus with Phantasm from the previous module. 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

FORCE - Thomas Dowd

A megalomaniac supervillain - the good kind - but is a multiple persona running a church and a small army in their political terrorist shenanigans. Add a military bad guy with a deadly virus and heroes have plenty to do. 3.5 out of 5

The Secret In the Swamp - Stewart Wieck

Apparently a fan with no game shop, Wieck mail ordered all the modules for V&V before trying his hand at writing one....a good way to be favourably looked upon, I am sure, being a valued customer. This one is very solid, too. A colourful cast of villains, including a take over the world megalomaniac and bunches of science fantasy in Seminole country. Well worth a look for some ecological mind control mastermind mayhem. 4 out of 5

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Megan's Playhouse 2 - Adriana Kraft

Again a setup of two of the more likeminded theatre acquaintances. 3 out of 5

Megan's Playhouse 1 - Adriana Kraft

A theatre student sets up a friend and a neighbouring academic. 3.5 out of 5

Villainomicon - Steve Kenson

A full colour Icons supplement with the same cartoony art style detailing a list of highly entertaining four-colour style villains with plenty of fun homages among then. Also includes several adventure hooks for each one. This is really well done, continuing to highlight Kenson's talent as a superhero game designer. 4.5 out of 5

Shadow Sword and Spell: Expert - Richard Iorio and James Maliszewski

The second Shadow, Sword and Spell game book deals with what happens as adventurers gain experience, influence and power. It has rules for leading groups, cities and armies including economies, labor, trade and warfare. Plus some fun stuff on scheming, politics and other underhanded non-sword slinging type conflicts. Magic, alchemy advanced, relics and tomes and there's also some creatures, which include the mythological and the Lovecraftian. A fine game, continued. 4.5 out of 5

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Annihilation Event Book Premium - Cam Banks

Interesting idea: have a campaign book that includes the basic rules. Possibly the winner for the most complicated dice mechanic ever with its d4 and d6 and d8 stepups and pools and doom pools and opportunities. Definitely interesting but takes a few minutes to get your head around. Dice needed by the bucketload. A program/calculator definitely good for this game. The game does lack a little in pointing out: yes do your own hero if you want, examples, but it is there. Plus a hero point type mechanic, which is always good. What the particular system of taking a die from various personality/power/skills etc. mechanic seems to encourage is the ability to allow greatly disparate characters to operate together. The low-granularity 4/6/8/10/12 levels brings various characters closer together, too. Perhaps a good thing when using a myriad of alreading setting created types. Disappointingly, this does not have character stats for all the Guardians of the Galaxy. Presumably they were coming in the latter parts. As a campaign, it is broad strokes sections and ideas for a gamemaster who needs to fill in the details with the players. Some serious space opposition and fun to be had. Would be a good one to pillage for another game, too. Also has some ideas and similarities that could be used a la Icons and FATE, too. Better than I thought it would be. 4 out of 5

The Cobra - Frederick Forsyth

After a White House catering staff member breaks down due to the death of her grandson via drug overdose, the President orders a report on the viability of the eliminating the cocaine trade, in the main. Which involves setting up an ex-spy with a two billion dollar black ops fund. Cover special forces teams on sea platforms, blackmail of high ranking Colombia cartel officials, that fun stuff. Shooting down drug planes with no warning and destroying the evidence, etc. When, as planned the drying up of the cocaine supply leads to gangs massacring each other on USA streets the political will fails as does the spy's attempt to take some money and run. 3 out of 5