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Heroes & Monsters
Publisher: MHGames
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/28/2018 05:19:38

I rated this at 3/5. Per the rating system, 1 is bad and 5 is good. This title is neither that bad nor that good. Even at $1.90...

Starting as early as page 8, "There is no die with 100 sides," I already knew that there were going to be fundamental issues. There are 100 sided dice. Since the 80s, at least. Then we move on to character creation. Here, the author opts for a point buy method which is too gimmicky for an old school feel. In The Black Hack, they are quick 3d6 rolls and modified if you roll over a 15; in The Unearthed Hack, there's are two ability arrays that are offered. In either case, character generation is quick. Tallying points detracts from the old school feel but lends itself to more directed character builds. Per above, that's neither good nor bad, it just.... is. The classes are basically The Black Hack with B/X races as classes included which, again, is pretty typical RPG fare, including reinforcing the RPG trope that Elf is Best Class. I won't go into the mechanics, but being an Elf has such limited drawbacks (I get 1d4 spells instead of 1d4+2?! And I can't access the highest level spells?! gasp) that it falls back into the same tried and true trope most RPG groups experience: why play a human?

Everything from character creation up to chapter 7 is basically The Black Hack, so... it's The Black Hack. Chapter 7 brings some adventure design advice for newer GMs, which I'm sure newer GMs will find helpful. Again, nothing special in the previous six chapters, so this is neither good nor bad. It just is. Then we hit the Appendix, which typifies every B/X campaign since the 80s: class bloat (really, just four). It addresses the same issues that's plagued every gaming circle for the past 40 years. Why can't my Dwarf be a Fighter/Cleric? I can?! So why be a Fighter...? Because RP. Ok. And there's the Elven Thief/Mage. And two other classes veteran players may be able to deduce. My concern with this style of play is the slippery slope: Is an Elf a racial class or a race with multiple classes? If the former, and you start making exceptions, where are all the other exceptions, like, say, a Human Paladin? If the latter, why force character builds into molds instead of going the AD&D route of allowing multi-class?

And this is why, even at < $2, it's a negligible download. A veteran is being put in the exact same territory covered 30 years ago. A new player is going to experience the exact same problems from 30 years ago. There's nothing new here, but there's nothing WRONG here. It's a semi-faithful reproduction of gaming from the 80s, with the same baggage that comes along with it. The problem being, if I want the problems of the 80s, I can just buy the PDF of Moldvay Basic and Cook/Marsh Expert for not much more than this and The Black Hack.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes & Monsters
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On Moonlit Wings
Publisher: Gallant Knight Games
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/31/2018 16:36:53

The full review and initial playthrough can be found at: http://gamingwhiledriving.blogspot.com/2018/01/on-moonlit-wings-valtyr-1.html?m=1

On Moonlit Wings is an alternative take on M20 Adamantine Edition, which is a Microlite version of 5E. It’s twice the size of the original; a whole 36 pages with OGL included. What sets this apart from other versions is the inclusion of Hope, Despair and Madness, a Dread Track and using a Candle. It appears there’s a Candlelight RPG in the works. Briefly, Hope takes the place of Inspiration. The Dread Track is a tool that, when full, gives characters Despair, and monsters get more powerful the further along the track progresses. Despair and Madness has mechanical uses, but if Madness overtakes a character’s mental faculties, the character is retired. The Candle is another tool that signals if a character’s actions are resolved as normal or if they’re rolling at Disadvantage. Some actions will relight the candle; other actions will extinguish it. Character creation includes a fourth ability score (Might, Agility, Intellect and Personality instead of Strength, Dexterity and Mind) and uses an ability array instead of rolling. You decide on your character’s Heritage (Race in other titles), choose a Class (the four core with six advanced classes), then choose a Background. Resolution is similar to what you would find in M20; the same goes for magic. If you’ve played any of the Microlite titles before, you’ll be familiar with it. On Moonlit Wings defaults to using a magic point pool with optional rules for Blood Magic and Ritual Magic. The one thing I don’t like, and this is true with M20 Adamantine Edition, are the armor costs. Getting a +2 bonus to armor, if read as written, costs 100 gold. That seems incredibly expensive, but I suppose it also depends on how you want to run the game. All in all, On Moonlit Wings, is worth the $5 cost of entry. I’ve enjoyed most of Gallant Knight Games’ micro-RPGs, the Tinyd6 series, and For Coin and Blood. I expect I’ll be reviewing those soon after this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
On Moonlit Wings
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Forthright Open Roleplay Core Rulebook
Publisher: Room 209 Gaming
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2017 09:15:23

Formatting seems to be an issue, an easier to read review here: http://gamingwhiledriving.blogspot.com/2017/11/review-forthright-open-roleplay.html?m=1

Forthright Open Roleplay is a true evolution of role playing games. It is, both, universal and guided. Forthright has blended resolution mechanics into something graceful and intuitive. And, most important to me, it has defied my attempts at tinkering with the core system.

Forthright Open Roleplay is interesting in that it is an open role playing system. It is universal (I wouldn’t call it generic), and has enough constraint to build a framework on. In a matter of minutes, a player can generate a character for any conceivable genre, and a GM can stat opposition in seconds. Adding a Wealth tier related to the experience system makes measuring two sides in conflict easy to measure. Is the character less experienced but loaded with gear? The players can measure how that compares to some other character. That’s what I mean by universal and guided: unlike some generic systems, there’s a value assigned to abilities and gear that makes comparison easy without having to tally points and advantages or merits. It’s fairly elegant.

Forthright Open Roleplay brings a resolution mechanic that I’ve been looking for: a d20 based roll with tiered levels of success. Anyone familiar with games Powered by the Apocalypse can see where the resolution table stems from. However, how it’s implemented in the system is what sets it apart. Sure, there’s what you would expect from a low roll in the form of the action fails and things might get worse. There’s what you would expect for a high roll and succeeding. The mid range rolls and criticals is where the game shines, bringing, as above, a guided method of using Boons (the result of critical rolls) and how, in some cases, Exchanges (the result of mid range rolls) work without resorting to Hold or, necessarily, soft moves.

This is where I came across my stumbling blocks. I tinker with systems and settings to make them better for my play style or have the setting flow more naturally. Forthright Open Roleplay has defied my tinkering. You see, my first impulse was to turn the three abilities scores into the familiar six. Then I recalled the Cosmetic Rule. Combat in Forthright, is an ability score. Did I really need Strength, Dexterity or Constitution? I considered using Intelligence or Wisdom or Charisma to elaborate on witty repartee versus force of personality. Cosmetic Rule stepped in again. Fine. I concede the Cosmetic Rule, how about an oracle for solo role playing? That’s actually already built into the mechanics with the four tiers of success. Ok, I need magic missiles and… Cosmetic Rule, file under Fighting Styles. A-ha! Fireball. Boosts. Next.

A previous review of Forthright referred to it as a haiku, and it is very true. As I explore its depths and come up with rules tweaks, the system itself says it’s already there, hidden beneath the three lines of poetry. I had thought Dungeon World would be my favorite RPG of all time, but I think Forthright is catching up. The more I try to tinker, the more the system pushes back, the closer I think it gets to winning.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forthright Open Roleplay Core Rulebook
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Creator Reply:
Thank you very much for the tremendously positive review!
Wizardry Unearthed for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light
Publisher: Cross Planes Game Studio
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/25/2017 18:46:09

It's a nice product worth the small sum of the asking price. I've been writing my own version of the Warlock for SWCL, but it's nice to see another person's take on it. Five translated races that seem pretty well balanced; six translated classes that seem to capture some of the feel of their original; and a modest amount of monsters to add to your game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wizardry Unearthed for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light
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The Unearthed Hack
Publisher: Shattered Pike Studio
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/05/2016 23:28:55

The Unearthed Hack includes quite a few additional rules for The Black Hack that make it well worth the money. There are two suggested ability arrays with point buy alternates that give it a 3.5 or 5E feel of That Other Game and two different takes on Races: race as class and the more traditional race with added abilities and bonuses. The races are different enough from The Race Hack that you can get four different ways of implementing races or borrowing their suggestions and making your own. I enjoyed the section on monster groups and multi-staged boss fights; those will be fun to incorporate into my own game. FInally, there's the magic item section that definitely has a Diablo-esque vibe to it with bonuses or extra abilities receiving its own special title.

There are two things that detract from this title. The largest is the Combat section: I am not a fan of flipping the table, so to speak, and changing how the dice work in the first method of PvP, but there is an alternative given as well. The level drain segment seems unnecessary for my game, but if that's a significant area for you, then that guideline is there. The second comes in Character Creation: The Allure attribute is effectively a derived Comeliness attribute. Again, I do not need it, but it is there for those of you that do. And lastly, it is listed in the Race section that Humans have access to luck points, though I do not see anywhere in the book where or how luck points are generated and used. If I were to guess, it would probably be a once per day thing or, borrowing from the fifth edition of That Other Game, an inspired thing.

All in all, the title is worth the asking price. There are many recommendations in the game that will find its way into my game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Unearthed Hack
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Creator Reply:
Thanks so much for taking the time to write this review! Rules for luck points are in \"The Black Hack: Additional Things\", but that was not clear at all. I have added a reference to this in the book, as well as a link. I will upload the Updated version soon. I appreciate your feedback, and your effort has helped make the book better! - Shattered Pike
Infernal Realms
Publisher: Olde House Rules
by James C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2015 20:13:07

This expansion includes two specific topics I have been waiting for: the corsair character class and integrating Pits & Perils with Braunstein. The addition of new spells and arch fiends enhances the game without feeling bloated or introducing too much unnecessary complexity.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Infernal Realms
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Blood of Pangea
Publisher: Olde House Rules
by James C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2015 20:08:56

This is my favorite rule set produced by Olde House Rules so far. It is very rules light and diverse in character creation. The simple and intuitive magic system is refreshing. Olde House Rules read my mind when I wanted a merge of their older product with Pits & Perils. When Retrospace is re-released, they'll already have my money sent their way.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood of Pangea
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Two Worlds Tabletop RPG
Publisher: RPG Objects
by James C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/17/2014 02:49:49

This is just another d20 fantasy setting. It does as advertised, an attempt to translate the video game to the table top. While it does not feel like a port of the video game to the table, it makes the effort and comes off as just another d20 variant. It's a free supplement, and it feels like one. I owned the physical hardback that came with the game and felt the same initial impression: it didn't cost me anything. As such, it's free. It contains a setting. It has rules. But there's nothing in it that sets it apart from any other supplement already available.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Two Worlds Tabletop RPG
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Fear! Fire! Foes!
Publisher: Olde House Rules
by James C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/17/2014 00:08:18

If Braunstein! was my Holmes Basic, and Pits & Perils was Advanced Holmes, it would be logical to think of this as the Advanced Holmes Companion. House rule suggestions such as combat moves for the fighters, new spells, the introduction of the Monk and Savant, and the capacity to become an Elven Fighter or Elven Magician. The document is still concise and evocative at 56 pages, allowing for expanding the game without feeling weighed down with a load of new rules. I believe the three titles can work together in a cohesive way; I should know within a couple months if that is the case.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fear! Fire! Foes!
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Pits & Perils
Publisher: Olde House Rules
by James C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/16/2014 23:57:07

If Braunstein! is my new Holmes Basic, this is Advanced Holmes. It literally feels like what I learned in Braunstein! can be applied to Pits & Perils. I appreciate the take on race as class, and it even addresses where the Elven and Dwarven Clerics are hiding (i.e. not adventuring). The Spells and Monsters listing are inspiring without taking a one half or a whole page explaining what a Kobold is. It's evocative without being overbearing. The singular fault I've come across, if you can call it that, is rolling for a character's attribute didn't feel like it did anything until stumbling upon the last sentence of page 22. "Abilities determine what actions a character may attempt in the game (p. 5)." At first, I thought, "So not having Strength means I can't Lift Gates?" When I was just about to accept it as an old school concession, possibly house ruling it, I came across the suggestion on page 22; from a rules POV, I would recommend moving the statement into the Attribute section of page 5.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pits & Perils
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Barons of Braunstein
Publisher: Olde House Rules
by James C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/16/2014 23:47:11

I just received this along with a copy of Pits & Perils and Fear! Fire! Foes! I have been looking for a written copy (or reasonable facsimile) of the Braunstein rules. This was an awesome 24 page discovery. Even though I am less interested in historical gaming, I appreciate using historic settings as a foundation for fantasy. Combining the last page of the document (introducing magic and witchcraft) with Pits & Perils (using Braunstein's Luck vs. Pits & Perils HP and magic), might make for an interesting game. At its core, this feels like a new take on Holmes Basic D&D.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Barons of Braunstein
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Cartoon Action Hour: S2 -- Going Japanese (No-Frills Version)
Publisher: Spectrum Games
by James C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/08/2010 09:45:28

"Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2, Going Japanese" is not the product that I had hoped it would be. Though it is filled with 43 pages of information (discounting the cover and title page), the information provided is dominated by series information. 34 pages of series information, the same amount of series information found in the core product.

Aside from the cover, title page and 34 pages of settings, there are nine pages of genre related information. Within those nine pages, I found only two mechanical twists to the core game: how character advancement may be modified and vehicle design rules. One is a paragraph long; the other is a sidebar.

If you are looking for an expansion filled with series information to inspire you, the supplement may work for you. However, I expected a little more proofreading and different content, such as alternative Bonuses or Restrictions, other uses for Oomph or a delineation of power scales that expands on what is found in "Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2."



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Cartoon Action Hour: S2 -- Going Japanese (No-Frills Version)
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Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2
Publisher: Spectrum Games
by James C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/08/2010 09:18:19

"Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2" is a well written role playing game. 58 pages of rules followed by 34 pages of three different settings and the remaining six pages are miscellaneous materials including a character sheet and conversion notes. I think the author did a remarkable job keeping the rules concise while still conveying the focus of the game.

Players use "Proof of Purchase Points" (effectively character points) to generate traits that best represent their character. To avoid paralysis, there is a variant rule that includes a focused method of character creation. The game mechanic is very simple and intuitive; there are two methods for resolving combat with an additional faster paced variant also included.

"Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2" is a complete, concise game. For those that prefer free-form traits over pre-defined character generation in a game system that can be condensed to 29 double-sided pages, this game is great!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2
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