Friday, December 8, 2017

One Book Shelf: New Security Settings What say you?

I tried to get on my account over at One Book Shelf (OBS) this evening, and instead I get offered a precursor for security settings...
I'm pretty certain I know what's best in regards to my own personal computer settings... But, much to my dismay OBS doesn't think so... Can someone tell me what this is really about?

This is what I get:


Here's the thing OBS. The security settings on my computer are what I choose to use for all sites across the entire internet. Not only would it be a bad idea for me to adjust my settings, I'm not the only person who uses this computer. Yes I know, these days single computers have accounts and their own settings for those accounts (for my family members) but I don't do it that way... Don't want to do it that way... Don't think it would even be a good idea to do it that way... It's difficult for me to fathom the day that a seller site gets to tell me the settings I need to use their site... Hey wait? Like I'm the customer... And the reviews I write, more often than not, drive sales to the site. Needless to say... I'm not happy with this development.

To the right of this first image (on the full page) is this... Can someone in the community confirm that the above is how cookies work..? And whether this will enhance security? Security for who? This makes no sense to me, but I know very little about it.

AND BTW if I click on that Continue button it leads me back to the original page... Since when do cookies prevent private information...? I though cookies enabled the sharing of private information, such as my physical location and such... This screams utter BS to me, but someone in the community is welcome to correct me (and I hope they will) if I'm wrong... Help!?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Help Stacy Kick Cancers Butt On DriveThruRPG

HSKCA$$
I love it when a plan comes together: As I mentioned, I put my affiliate & product sales from the month of November towards Stacy's cancer fight and rounded it up to the nearest $10. The grand total was $20. Honestly, the ability to raise some funds was looking pretty dire, but once the black Friday sales at One Book Shelf hit I got a nice (micro) boost. My usual affiliate sales numbers are under $10 per month. If you purchased anything through my links from here and over at EN World; Thank you. Also, a couple folks did in fact purchase some of my Map! products... Awesome and thank you.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.

Stacy's Cancer Fight Fund over on Fundly is here if you wish to donate.

I'm a total sucker for anything RPG so I went with the DriveThru charity bundle. I'm not much of a salesman, but Over $300 worth of PDFs for 20 bucks! As an RPG reviewer that was an easy choice. Just in case my reviewer slush pile ever gets a bit light, I've got some extra titles...

There a lot of ways to show Stacy your support and it's not just about the money. Don't get me wrong -money is nice, but if your anything like me, I've got plenty of money gone to gifts for family and friends during the silly season... (money can be tight this time of year) Even just stopping over at her Fundly and/or leaving a comment or her Facebook page (here), or a comment in the discussion panel of the bundle is a nice way to show support. Take a moment to like & share links and who knows. Every little bit helps. Okay, stand back while I get off my soap box.

Best Wishes for Stacy and her family-

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dark Albion Cults of Chaos: RPG Review

Cults of Chaos
Dark Albion Cults of Chaos
Written By: RPG Pundit (blogger site) & Dominique Crouzet
Published By: Dom Publishing (site)
Review By: J.L. Duncan

Welcome to a brief review of the Dark Albion Cults of Chaos PDF. Unlike most products I review, Cults of Chaos is a system neutral Game Master’s toolkit. This product is a companion module for the Dark Albion campaign setting, but is serviceable as a standalone product for just about any fantasy setting. The Dark Albion campaign setting is also authored by RPG Pundit & Dominique Crouzet. You can pick your poison be it the The Cults of Chaos PDF or purchase a black & white dead tree version. Both can be purchased at RPGNOW.com and DriveThruRPG.com.

Disclosure: This review includes affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.

In truth, the main reason I’m reviewing Cults of Chaos, as this column usually focuses on complete game systems and/or settings, is two fold. One, to find out if the product is as advertised. Or, functional with most systems assuming the framework of a fantasy setting; the ladder of which, is actually an assumption based on authorship. And I might add, this is totally a selfish reason because the game I'm running is D&D Basic. And two, I've been wanting to review products outside the scope of what I usually review!

In my mind, the most important thing relevant in a product like this is if its form follows function. This is especially prudent for this reviewer, since I have not read Dark Albion. I can think of a couple of supplements which have made such a promise and utterly failed to deliver… Ultimately no longer on my shelf but… Ah, I digress…

At its core, Cults of Chaos provides richly detailed framework for creating and applying a variety of cult types or organizations, as an antagonist plot piece to your campaign. The purpose of which, you will use this very supplement to determine. I would say, just about any type of cult you could imagine, but actually this supplement has it covered well beyond what most, or at least those (including myself) not educated in cult history, would think to imagine. It’s a flexible product. There are plenty of Easter Eggs (I’m not sure what else to call them) which reference the Dark Albion itself, but these are rarely a distraction. The bulk of this product is system neutral, or if not, totally explained in reference within this module. That said, what will be most likely is that if this product appeals, you’ll likely go out and buy Dark Albion, which after reading Cults of Chaos is any good author’s intent. This is a product that not only shows me how to use it, but does it well enough that I needn’t look elsewhere for the details that come with creating an antagonist cult and unleashing it upon my hapless victi-I mean players. Needless to say, I’m impressed.

The most serviceable sections include a Cult Generation System from which in utilizing a series of tables you can create your antagonist cult from scratch or use dice to determine its scope and the Running Chaos Cult Adventures section. Both sections are very good reference material to help you hit the ground running. The detail involved with the Cult Generation System allows the GM to custom fit to just about any fantasy system. OSR friendly-yes, but actually, with a few easy tweaks I would argue ANY fantasy system. Cults of Chaos provides the GM many useful tips in running an inquisitor style campaign and then closes the deal with the Running Chaos Cult Adventures section, which provides even better advice on running investigative style adventures.

As you can easily guess and especially based on the infomercial style of approval this is a product I thoroughly enjoyed. I sought very hard to find something about it I didn’t like, but not for lack of trying, I failed.

I would recommend it for mature reading and viewership based on the detail of the content in relation to the subject matter, and based upon the graphic nature of a good deal of the public domain art. Still that is not to say it’s not maturely written or presented and as a product it doesn’t aim for the cheap seats. Each illustration is relevant to the content and is well placed. If you think about it-it would be exceedingly impossible to write such a module and not cover the bare bones in relation to the practices and behaviors, many of which are well documented throughout human history and what many of the more infamous cults are best known for. In fact I might point out in relation, that there are a lot worse elements which could have been more explicitly detailed and weren’t.

To bring it to a close, Cults of Chaos delivers a richly detailed framework for running an inquisitor style campaign leaving few stones unturned. The format is cleanly executed and writing is concise. As a product it’s not only a Game Master’s toolkit, but probably the best system neutral plot-kit device I’ve read. I’d give Cults of Chaos eleven and a half Aleister Crowley’s out of ten, but then again I don’t do ratings and such evil must be stopped! Hopefully, my players will be up for the task.

Edit: Since this review published with KoDT I've had the opportunity to use this product. I usually knew what I wanted to do, but I found the chapter: Running Chaos Cult Adventures & the inquisitor style adventure section, very helpful. I'd be remiss not to mention it.

Note: This RPG review is property of Kenzer and Company and republished here with permission. Cults of Chaos was provided free of cost for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

RPG Submissions Open Publisher List

Alright, alright -alright...
 
The RPG Submissions Open Publisher List (listed alphabetically) is posted and we've made a separate page for this blog here. As it stands we have 12 RPG publishers. I will do my best to keep this content relevant, so if you notice a broken link, or a change of status in regards to the these companies (below), let me know in the comments. If you know of an RPG company I'm not including and that company currently has an open call for RPG content, please drop me a line and links to the company site. 
  
D20 PFSRD
Publication: Varies; Third Party Publishing & Site Content
Desired Content: Pathfinder
Publishing Schedule: Varies
Format: PDF & site content 
Rate of Pay: 1 cents/word
Notes: Best to send a query on the Get Published page here or check the Freelancer Open Call on the Paizo message boards: here. D20 PFSRD is supported through Patreon here.
Submissions Open: Varies; last active call October 24th 2017
 
EN World
Publications: En5ider (D&D 5E), Eons Magazine (What's O.L.D. is N.E.W. [WOIN] roleplaying game system) & Trailseeker (Pathfinder)
Desired Content: D&D 5th Edition, Pathfinder, What's O.L.D. is N.E.W. (WOIN) RPG, & system neutral articles
Publishing Schedule: regular and on going
Format: PDF (printable sheets to a binder) 
Rate of Pay: 3 cents/word
Notes: Each publication has a separate editor; start here. Though you'll likely find it on your own, here are EN World's writers guidelines. All publications are supported through Patreon. Links: En5ider, Eons Magazine, Trailseeker.
Submissions Open: Yes; click on the start here link (above) and pitch your ideas an editor  

Publication: Site Content; RPG News & Reviews
Desired Content: RPG industry coverage, reviews, gamer-interest profiles, news & commentary
Publishing Schedule: Regular
Format: Web content 
Rate of Pay: 4 cents/word
Notes: The link here, will get you started.
Submissions Open: Yes' query the editor with your idea(s).
 
Kenzer & Company
Publication: Knights of the Dinner Table
Desired Content: HackMaster, Aces & Eights, Reviews RPG Articles, Adventures; system neutral dungeon traps, magic items
Publishing Schedule: Monthly
Format: Print & PDF
Rate of Pay: 3 cents/word
Notes: Submissions Guidelines are here & here. New submitters should look over both links.
Submissions Open: Yes
Magpie Games
Publication: Fate Codex
Desired Content: RPG Articles related to running Fate or ideas with running other storyteller type RPGs as well as system neutral content.
Publishing Schedule: Monthly
Format: PDF
Rate of Pay: 5 cents/word
Notes: Fate Codex is supported through Patreon. Submission guidelines are here.
Submissions Open: Yes
 
Modiphius Entertainment
Publication: Modiphia
Desired Content: Looking for adventures and content specific to their house system.
Publishing Schedule: Quarterly (ish)
Format: PDF
Rate of Pay: $30 in credit towards Modiphius products. 
Notes: Query you ideas to the editor, by picking up an issue of Modiphia #1 or Modiphia #2 (affiliate links) on drivethrurpg or rpgnow or the Modiphius site here.
Submissions Open: Yes
 
Palladium Books
Publication: The Rifter
Desired Content: The Rifter publishes a variety of content for Palladium Book's Megaversal System, and occasionally publishes system neutral RPG articles. Palladium Books publishes a variety of genres: fantasy, mystery, zombies, and science-fiction.
Publishing Schedule: Quarterly
Format: PDF
Rate of Pay: $10 per page of printed text (roughly 1-2 cents/word)
Notes: Palladium Books prefers submissions by (snail) mail their submission guidelines are here.
Submissions Open: Yes
 
Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Publication: Savage Worlds Explorer
Desired Content: Savage Worlds content: adventures, creature features, character archetypes, weapons, vehicles, gear etc., and/or pitch a unique idea.
Publishing Schedule: Quarterly
Format: PDF
Rate of Pay: 3-5 cents/word; based on experience.
Notes: Submission guidelines to get you started are here. Query/pitch the editor.
Submissions Open: Yes
 
Raging Swan Press
Publication: Various third party publishing products
Desired Content: D&D 5E, Pathfinder & system neutral content.
Publishing Schedule: Varies
Format: PDF
Rate of Pay: 11 cents/word
Notes: Raging Swan Press has a good rep for an indie publisher and pays (as far as I know) the best per word rate in the RPG industry. They work through support on Patreon, here. Submissions are currently closed, but I'm leaving this here in the hopes they will be soon. The submission guidelines are here.
Submissions Open: No
 
Rite Publishing
Publication: Pathways
Desired Content: Pathfinder Third Party Publishing & System Neutral content.
Publishing Schedule: Monthly
Format: PDF
Rate of Pay: 1-2 cents/word.
Notes: Pathways is supported through Patreon here. The submission guidelines are here.
Submissions Open: Yes
 
Steve Jackson Games
Publication: Pyramid
Desired Content: GURPS & System Neutral
Publishing Schedule: Monthly
Format: PDF
Rate of Pay: 4 cents/word
Notes: The toughest thing about writing for GURPS is getting a handle on the WYSIWTG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) format. The guideline index is here. Steve Jackson Games also publishes GURPS material with Warehouse 23, modules in short PDF format. Details for that is here.
Submissions Open: Yes
 
The Gauntlet Patreon
Publication: The Codex
Desired Content: OSR, Dungeon World, & System Neutral; Fantasy & Tech-Punk
Publishing Schedule: Monthly
Format: PDF (only available through Patreon; click the header)
Rate of Pay: 5 cents/word
Notes: Each issue of the Codex is themed. Content themes (a list of what's upcoming) and query information is here. If you're not apart of the Patreon you can get a look (and a better idea of what to submit) at a free issue of Codex: Madness here.
Submissions Open: Yes



Publication: Varies; Third Party Publishing Products 
Desired Content: Pathfinder & System Neutral; Fantasy
Publishing Schedule: Infrequent 
Product Format: PDF
Rate of Pay: 1 cent/word
Notes: Calls for content are posted on the D20PFSRD Freelancer Open Call Forum (here). Publisher is open for project pitches, outside of content calls. Query by email (click the header). Most recent content call: Oct 17th, 2017
Submissions Open: Varies. Publisher puts out calls on a semi-regular basis.

Note: Submissions Open intends to be a freelancer's resource for the RPG Industry. If you're a publisher or game creator and interested in promoting a need for freelance writers or artists, drop me a line and I'll post your company data here on this blog.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fragged Empire: RPG Review

Fragged Empire
Fragged Empire
Written By: Wade Dyer
Published By: Design Ministries/Ulisses Spiele  (FE site)
Review By: J.L. Duncan

A concession of middle age, but I’m finally starting to warm up to space opera or, science fantasy themed RPGs. I’m still yet to delve into the major IPs. I haven’t read any RPG version of Star Wars, nor did Star Trek ever make it to my table. I’ve played Traveller twice. Admittedly, it’s taken awhile. While the excitement about Paizo’s recent release of Starfinder is almost tangible… And on the cusp of Wade Dyer’s third successfully funded Kickstarter (in preorder here), now might be a good a time as any for closer look at Fragged Empire.

Disclosure: This review includes affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.

Fragged Empire certainly offers a distinct and unique space fantasy setting. A post-post-apocalyptic universe; far removed from the extinction of the human race, and one hundred years from the extinction of humanities genetically engineered descendant, the Archons. (Remember post, post.) Four distinct races/cultures, each of which the players have the opportunity to make a characters, fight for survival -in the cold, dark and war torn galaxy of Haven.

The setting itself is well done, and presented in my favorite way: A respectable amount of detail and good amount left for the GM to fill in. Stellar maps outline the Haven system and the major locations receive plenty of text. The setting and tone is also presented through a series of short stories between sections. While I usually skip past these, the two I read weren’t awful. In your average RPG product, they usually are... Sorry, “average RPG product,” the truth hurts. The GM should find plenty of ideas for crafting adventures and the GM section has short treatment of adventure hooks just in case. The most expansive aspects of this setting describe the history, cultural differences, and tension between the four playable races.

With character creation players have a choice of four races: the Corporation, Kaltorans, Legion, or Nephilim, to make a character. Fragged Empire is for the most part a classless system. However, each race is somewhat scoped (due to genetic engineering) into specific role(s), and the creation guidelines provide 3 or more character (suggestions) templates for each.

Nephilim & Scenic Tech Scape

Corporation characters will be left to subterfuge; the most easily accessed strengths being negotiation and social connections (and, have vital importance with this RPGs sub-system). Kaltorans will likely fill the role of the party smuggler or thief, though this species has a good amount of general utility. Legion will likely fill the role of solider or mercenary. While Nephilim and their cultural drive for genetic perfection is probably the most flexible species of the four. Each race has a specific template of (+/-) modifiers towards attributes, skills and other abilities.

Character creation with Fragged Empire is involving, requiring more than a few flips back and forth due to the amount of detail. The layout doesn’t help this and it extends to gear and other aspects. Players who are familiar with crunchier systems will likely spend extra time making decisions because of the wealth of material. Due to the intricacy (and importance) of character creation, players creating characters in a bubble, is not the best idea. Which, I’ll get to why in a moment. After the race is selected, players will distribute 18 points among 6 attributes, select 10 trained skills and select one Trait (special ability) from among one of the skills chosen.

Note: Fragged Empire doesn’t have a standard monetary system (Item A costs: credits/cash) instead, the game relies on an intricate series of system management tools, from everything to weapons, technological tools, to the capability of the starship the players will rely, to jaunt about the universe.

Last in character creation is calculating each character’s starting Resources, Influence and Spare Time Points. Resources will directly tie into each characters gear, weapons and equipment etc., including the number of specific items the character can have in their possession, as well as the care or maintenance of these items. The equipment available depends on how many slots (resources) the character has.


The combined number of Influence points (each character receives 1 per level, but maybe further modified by race, Trait selection or game rewards) will determine the ability that the group can utilize their starship, and maintain its capability mechanically and financially: repairs, maintenance and seeking service at a space station etc. If they player group is low on Influence, this will directly affect the type of weapons systems their starship has, as well as their ability to use its standard systems. Spare Time Points are used as a method to acquire upgrades and new equipment.

Though I’m covering it only in brief, I’ve never been in favor of system management (a sort of min-game) within a RPG, due to the break of immersion. The important question: what is the purpose of such a system? For Fragged Empire the answer seems to consist of two parts: Pushing aside the mundane details for more “epic” level play and assisting the GM with managing the player group… But, there is a potential problem here, as player characters will likely manage themselves (or worse each other), in order to acquire the equipment they want and utilize a starship effectively, especially if the game goes longer than a few sessions. What’s in place seems more of a distraction, especially considering the game itself is built on cultural tension and it will be unlikely that players will want to create characters of identical race. While it might be slightly more efficient than a standard monetary system (admittedly as clunky as those are), it also takes some of the choices away from the player characters, which might be a good reason to implement such a thing if you’re in favor (promise I won’t judge you) of these kinds of limits. I will say, what’s present in this material is detailed enough and with a little common sense, chucking out the system management aspects, is certainly (and exactly what I would do) possible.

The core mechanics of Fragged Empire primarily utilizes 3d6+ the skill rank against a target number set by the GM. For a specific task, players are encouraged to select a skill which they think fits the situation, narrate their characters actions and may receive additional points (if the GM likes the description) based on the narrative. Each skill is well outlined in its suggested use and rules beyond skill rolls are more than covered with this system.

The PDF digitizing before my screen is 385 pages cover to cover. The look of Fragged Empire is excellent, due in no small part to the quality a frequency of full color illustrations. As mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of the overall layout of the text, but the writing itself is certainly above par.

Overall, Fragged Empire receives a mixed review and it seems at almost every turn of the page something I like, is weighed down with something I didn’t care for. This is a top notch product and on par with the big boys, but the layout and overall arrangement of the material suffers in organization. The detail of equipment, weapons, and guidelines for creating starships, is well done, but acquisition is ruled by a sub-system, which I’d have no use of. The writing is respectable, the setting and cultural history elements are far above the mark of most settings, but at 385 pages the game suffers some bloat (though this is also tied to organization). Characters are well balanced (and not too unwieldy) and a campaign will likely be best served with a mix of each race, while at the same time cultural tension is a core theme throughout.

As excellent as it looks, Fragged Empire just wasn’t my cup of coffee…

Discloser: This review was originally published on Stuffer Shack (link to the site)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

EN World RPG News & Reviews Paying for Site Content

EN World
EN World recently updated the submission guidelines for their community generated content (CGC) program. Article features remain the same (industry coverage, reviews, gamer-interest profiles, news & commentary), but freelancers of accepted pitches are tasked to write articles of  800 to 1,000 words. This is a bump in word count (originally 400-500 words) from when EN World initiated the CGC in June of this year (2017). Rate of pay is 4 cents/word.   

If you have some ideas to pitch and want to take part, the RPG News & Reviews submission guidelines are here. Priority is given to writers who are interested and can produce two or more 800-1,000 word articles per month.

Note: Submissions Open intends to be a freelancer's resource for the RPG Industry. If you're a publisher or game creator and interested in promoting a need for freelance writers or artists, drop me a line and I'll post your company data here on this blog. If you're a writer/artist looking for gigs click away.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) & EN World RPG Reviews: Review Burp

KoDT #249
Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) hits #249. Awesome! This issue I hit the RPG freelancer trifecta in KoDT(it's a real thing, because horse racing and RPG writing are very similar, trust me ;), publishing a magic item, a dungeon trap and a review of Centurion. In RPG hobby-lancer & freelancer circles, this is also know as making it rain! Boom! That's pretty much the it for dungeon traps and magic items with KoDT. I better get busy writing some more. Last month with EN World, I wrote reviews for Starship Commandoes and Synthicide.

Disclosure: Product images on this page and the links below here include affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.


Centurion
Centurion is a Roman storyteller RPG. Basically, player characters will be specialist (elite) type soldiers in the Roman army. The setting includes three (era specific) settings. Centurion is decent. I thought there were a couple of things in the craft of the setting which could have been better... But, the presentation of the history of Rome is about as detailed as you'll get and certainly helps with getting a few ideas going, as far as getting this RPG to your tabletop.


Starship Commandos
Starship Commandos wasn't my cup of coffee. This is also a storyteller RPG and by coincidence of schedule (which wasn't planned) the same publisher: Swords Edge Publishing, as Centurion. Starship Commandos is themed for game like Alien's or Starship Troopers, but it just didn't have enough grit to get a positive review. The review of Starship Commandoes is here, on EN World.

Synthicide
Synthicide is pretty awesome. The setting is gritty and well presented and the mechanics are simple. A post-post apocalyptic (space fiction) setting. Player characters will be navigating their own spaceship, and taking the role as Sharpers, independent space mercenaries and smugglers for hire. This RPG does a lot of the things I would have like to see in Fragged Empire. The review of Synthicide is here, on EN World.

That's it for I've got a ton of reviews to get to and a couple ideas to sort out for Pathways (Pathfinder Content). Happy Gaming, and mind me while I head back down Within the Dungeon.

DriveThruRPG.com

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Savage Worlds Explorer by Pinnacle Entertainment Group: Submissions Open

Pinnacle Entertainment Group just released issue #4 of Savage Worlds Explorer, and the call for content submissions is officially open. The snippet below comes straight from the Pinnacle Entertainment Group site: (here)


Note: Red text, my emphasis

Savage Worlds Explorer, Pinnacle’s new, ongoing publication, was successfully launched this past weekend at the 2017 Origins Game Fair and now, we’re reaching out to you for content for future issues. If you’ve ever wanted to write official (yes, officialSavage Worlds material for Pinnacle Entertainment GroupSavage Worlds Explorer is precisely what you’ve been waiting for.
Whether you’re an established RPG author or a first-timer looking to get your foot in the door, we want to hear your ideas! Here are some quick and dirty guidelines on what we’re lookin’ for:
  • Adventures: 5,000 words. Stand-alone Savage Tales for any of Pinnacle’s Savage Settings or Companions. (For Licensee settings, please contact the company directly for permission!)
  • Creature Features: 2,500 words. Include creature descriptions and statistics, along with ecology, legends, or other information as applicable/interesting.
  • Character Archetypes: 2,000 words. Include any and all critical mechanics with your query.
  • New WeaponsVehiclesMechsGearetc.: 2,000 words. Devoted to a single item or a compendium of related goods.
  • Something Completely Different: 2-3,000 words. Maybe it’s a useful genre rule we overlooked in Savage Worlds Deluxe, or a suite of Setting Rules to facilitate underwater or ethereal adventuring, or… something else!
Savage Worlds Explorer #1
Disclosure: Product images on this page and the links below here include affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.

I contacted Editor-in-Chief Mathew Cutter (fitting name, for an editor) with a couple of questions and he replied the next day. Rate of Pay is between 3-5 cents per word, dependent on the freelancer's experience and the quality of the writing. The turnaround from when you pitch an article (and it's accepted), and are expected to have it written, is between 60-90 days.

Issues 1-4 are currently available in PDF on the Pinnacle Entertainment Group Inc. site (here) as well as with One Book Shelf (drivethrurpg & rpgnow here, or click on the product image). As of yet, Savage Worlds Explorer, doesn't have a dead tree version.

Best of luck to submitters!

Note: Submissions Open intends to be a freelancer's resource for the RPG Industry. If you're a publisher or game creator and interested in promoting a need for freelance writers or artists, drop me a line and I'll post your company data here on this blog. If you're a writer/artist looking for gigs click away.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Stacy Dellorfano's Cancer Fight Fund on Fundly

Cancer Fight Fund
For the month of November I'm donating any product or affiliate sales proceeds earned from this site, as well what's earned through affiliate links with my RPG reviews on EN World. Proceeds go to Stacy Dellorfano's Cancer Fight Fund (link). Whatever the amount, I'll do an account in December, round it up to the next $10 amount, and smash the donate button.

I don't know Stacy personally, but cancer sucks... While I'm usually inclined to covet any product or affiliate sales this site earns like baron robber on holiday, this time I felt compelled to do something (however fractional that might be) after reading her account on Fundly.

If my random encounter roll came up cancer, I'd be in just about in the same rowboat. In fact it might be just a raft, but either way, navigating shit creek, without a paddle.
 
At minimum head over to her Fundly page... Any of the following will suffice: Like, donate, share. Get the word out, and show this indie creator your support.        

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Redemption RPG By Silent Spirit Game Studios: RPG Review

Redemption RPG
Redemption RPG

Project Lead: Paul Frack

Published By: Silent Spirit Game Studios

Review By: J.L. Duncan

Welcome to a review of the portable document format (PDF) of the Redemption role playing game (RPG) and the Redemption Deployment Companion. Redemption was brought to print and PDF format through Kickstarter raising 4.6k internet bucks. You can purchase either product in print or digital format at RPGNow.com and Drivethrurpg.com, as well as receive updates, notes/errata at 
Silent Sprit Studios website (here).

Disclosure: This review includes affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.

Redemption is a military space opera RPG. The setting thrusts campaigners more than 500 years in the future. The human race has colonized mars as well as planets beyond our solar system. Innovative technologies have led to human expansion and exploration. The spearhead of humanity is the Terran Sphere Confederate Navy (TSN), which holds to the traditions and remnants of the (earth bound) Naval and Air militaries.

Humanity is locked in war with the Shohan, a technologically advanced star faring race. While the Shohan are the setting’s main antagonist, Redemption provides a double handful of unique alien races many of which have joined the TSN and are featured as playable character races. The setting and history elements of Redemption encompass over a full third the 300+ page mainbook.

While typically, I’m a proponent of setting; in Redemption the writing is overdone. In part this view is derived from the overall length and layout of the material, as well as the relevance of material which lacks detail, but it is also because what’s written is in need of a good old fashioned edit. The writing is thorough and for the most part of decent grammar, but the narrative of most subject headers meanders insatiably and is occasionally off key from what has been written before.

In short, the writing style overloads the game. Worse and concerning this reviewer’s opinion untenable, is that the setting includes narrative of location upon location: where this battle occurred, where these alien races live; this region of space is where this fleet patrols-so on and so forth and so on… However, Redemption doesn’t provide one single map! Instead there is this section, which “encourages you to DIY:

Stellar Cartography

"Transcribing existing star charts and postulating where drift will take them in the next 600 years would be lots of incredibly boring work, and we don’t want to do it. A much more interesting and interactive alternative is to use the following set of rules to generate your own stellar topography.” PG 297

Redemption is a good example of an RPG which (In my humble-all knowing, reviewer opinion) grew too big for its own britches. If I had a craw, something would be sticking in it.

Even the roughest map would suffice. Dots on page perhaps, but nothing? Nope-Nada… Well, if I have to make my own dots on page as representations of planets and systems I suppose I can, but I’d more likely throw the setting material out as well. I don’t need a set of rules to define systems which are already somewhat defined; I need a picture to go with what’s written. I’ve heard they’re worth a thousand words. The mind wonders, then it wanders. I’m going to sing now…

“I used to go swimming with bowlegged women, and dive between their legs!”

Moving on-


Deployment Companion
The mechanics of Redemption utilize variable Target Numbers (TNs) but the game includes a variety of story elements. Players and GMs who are familiar with story building RPGs should feel moderately at home. Yes, Redemption is somewhat a sand box. Most of its core elements, promote creativity over specificity. Despite my aversions, it presents this concept respectably well.
In regards to the core game mechanics, the difficulty of a TN is determined by the characters ability rating and requires players to roll a set of specific dice (3d6-3d10 etc.) and tally the result. The fewer number of sides, in rolling a specific set of dice, the easier the check; for a successful check, the player desires to roll equal or less than the target number. This is opposite of most RPGs which focus mechanics on target numbers. The GM determines which set of dice are used in the roll and therefore the difficulty of the check.

The characters ability rating is determined by talents, skills, training and if they are using any tools or equipment, this may aid or inhibit the action being gauged. For beginning characters the number will be around 10-12 and ability ratings with experience cannot exceed 30. The GM may also decide to set the difficulty to 30 which is gauged “impossible,” but can be adjusted down by player characters through story elements built in the mechanics. Action Points can be spent to activate Tags, which could if relevant, lower the difficulty of a specific task. Players can also spend Action Points to Edit the Scene. For the most part both Tags and Action Points are defacto story building elements which player characters can introduce to develop and/or modify a specific scene.

Redemption incorporates this collaborative method from the beginning with character creation. Group Tags are decided on and shared by members of the player character group. Additional Tags are individualized to emphasize each specific character’s concepts and goals. This also entails that the theme of the game or story can be decided on from the jump, which I liked. Apart from Tags each character will have a number of Ranks (or points) to distribute among their core stats (attributes) which are used to further enhance character abilities and/or skills vs. specific checks and challenges.

While in concept Tags are an interesting way to emphasize character and ways in which players can add and change the story, I was disappointed in how they’re presented in Redemption. Certainly how Tags function is explained, but there are a number of Tags which are noted in the game that I had no comprehension of how they might work, because many of the Tags aren’t defined beyond a key phrase. For a game that emphasizes Tags, this is a pretty big hole.

NPC and character examples have different Tags as well as there is a short list of Tags which are race specific. Racial Tags are better explained however, due to the emphasis of Tags as a mechanic and story building tool, much more should have been written. At the very least, each of the Tags in the mainbook should have been made clear.

I must admit this is something I find very common in RPGs which involve role playing with collaborative story telling; some interesting mechanics without what I (subjectively) consider adequate specificity. To me this turns the game into something I would play into something I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Gygax-ism aside, while I’m certain in part this is to do with my subjective preference for medium to heavy crunch games, it also has to do with the game itself. In writing, if an RPG doesn’t show me how to play it then it must tell me-either of these work and most games have both sorts. Redemption isn’t the worst offender among RPGs but it certainly could use some refinement.

Certainly, I could throw Tags out altogether (or at least the ones I have no clue of) but its emphasis in Redemption leaves me feeling like I’m missing the point. Which may or may not be the case here? If Redemption wants my group to create their own Tags- (which in part it certainly does) then it should add some specificity to the ones provided and we’ll go from there. Without detail this leaves my review and the potential of playing this system out in cold space.

The Deployment Companion promotes a number of ways in which the player group can interact with the setting (again mostly through text) including some rules errata, NPCs and adventures. The supplement features three Ports of Call or physical locations and three adventures.

Similar to the lack of important details with the mainbook the Deployment Companion just doesn’t appeal. Ports of call have no maps and nothing to tangibly define them and the adventures meander too loosely for my taste. The only saving grace of this supplement is the NPCs and new Alien races, which are well done. Again this may have more to do with the sort of RPGs I prefer but while the writing is serviceable the products lack of specificity doesn’t engage my GM sense to have interest in running it.

So to conclude Redemption left me pretty disappointed. The setting detail concerning the various alien Xenology is very well done; while the rambling meandering presentation of the history and the lack of maps defining any of the stellar systems was a pretty big deal to me. What’s a space opera without space? While I was critical of how Tags are presented, as a game mechanic it is certainly something to work with. It has potential. Also good is the B&W illustrations, which I would have liked to have seen more of.

What can I say? Too much work is left to the GM and players for Redemption to find its way to my table. If you’re in search of a sandbox-space opera and familiar with RPGs of the story building variety, you might consider giving Redemption a try. If you do and quite literally so, more power to you.

Note: This review was originally published in Knights of the Dinner Table and is property of Kenzer & Company. It has been republished here with permission.

Superheroes - Available Now @ RPGNow.com

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Deadly Trappings by Kenzer & Company: RPG Reveiw

Deadly Trappings
RPG Review: Deadly Trappings
Published By: Kenzer & Company (site)
Review By: J.L. Duncan

This review starts with a gamer admission as well as a disclosure. And the Gawds of the Many Faced Dice, demand my confession. First, I have a long standing and serious love/hate relationship in regards to dungeon trap manuals and RPG trap rules/guidelines. This is the first section of any new dungeon fantasy RPG I go to. “A rock falls everyone dies,” is my DM mantra.

Disclosure: This review includes affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.

Also, I write RPG reviews on a monthly schedule and contribute the occasional article, for Kenzer & Co.’s, Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) magazine. The Deadly Trappings in this volume published before I’d written anything with KoDT. I don’t’ think it will cause bias in the review, but I’m mentioning it.

Deadly Trappings is a collection of seventy-seven system neutral traps. Most are designed for use in a dungeon, but there are a couple of oddities (a spaceship trap & and a guy in a cowboy hat, triggering a western genre, bear trap). Each trap receives two or three panels of illustration and at minimum one half, to three quarters of a page description. Text size varies for each, but most trap descriptions are between 300-500 words. The traps are same format of those published monthly in KoDT. Presumably, this book is a collection of the best of those traps, which (originally published 2009) were written before 2010.

The reader immediately gets acquainted with Joe Cocksure, Deadly Trapping’s proverbial, faces of death test monkey. Joe is the featured character of the graphic illustrations of the traps. Joe dies a lot.

The writing of each trap is remarkably consistent given they are authored by about thirty individual contributors. While all of these traps are indeed system neutral, most include a short blurb about the history of the device as well as its mechanics (system less crunch); and/or information about the NPC designer of the trap, and/or the motivation behind the design. The fluff elements create an interesting back story for each trap, something pretty uncommon with supplements such as this, when mechanics are usually the sole focus.

I understand that for some, the most important thing about a trap manual is directly related to how many of these traps the DM/GM might actually use. While others like to use manuals such as this to craft their own ideas. Deadly Trappings should have either camp covered, but the bottom line is, I don’t know your game. And dungeon crawl to dungeon crawl, I’ve seen very different ideas on the “proper way” to utilize traps.

The most useful solution I can think of is giving a baseline description as to the sort of traps featured with Deadly Trappings. I’ve collated a ten point bullet list for consideration. Needless to say, but some of these concepts overlap each other:

· Magic Traps: 21

· Step on it, Trigger: 25

· Total Party Kill (TPK); Or Traps which Feature this Potential: 14

· Traps which De-limb or Maim: 8

· Death by Rock or Stone: 9

· Death by Falling: 16

· Death by Fire: 6

· Death by Asphyxiation: 5

· Death by Poison/Toxin or Acid: 9

· Traps you’d be unlikely to use with Your Favorite Edition of D&D: 3 

In conclusion, Deadly Trappings has a respectable mix of traps. I have the perfect bound print edition which weighs in at 80 pages as well as (though I can’t find my old hard drive) the PDF. Whether you’re a fellow trapmatician or just a DM in need of some good trap material I don’t think you can go wrong here. But then again, that’s likely the last thought through my player characters minds before… “A rock falls, every one dies.”

Happy trapping!

Note: This RPG Review of Deadly Trappings originally published with Stuffer Shack. (site)

         
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ RPGNow.com

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Misfit Marketing Methods Indie Publishers

Steve Trustrum of Misfit Studios delves into marketing methods for indie and small press publishers. Specifically discussing search engine optimization (SEO) for bloggers, how marketing works, and later covering the methods you can improve product sales if you are selling with One Book Shelf (drivethrurpg & rpgnow).

Whether you consider yourself an experienced indie press publisher, or you're just about to get going, this first vid covers the importance of product conception and the three pillars to marketing; identifying your product's features, benefits and messaging.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Map! Products are Pay What You Want

The Gawds of the Many Faced Dice (& Dyson Logos on "The Facebook") have spoken... All Map! products are Pay What You Will. Errr... I mean, Pay What You Want. When/if I make another, it too will be Pay What You Want. I do have another I'm working on between RPG reviews. To make a long story short, I've decided to stuff  my infinite ego of diminished returns in my pocket. Fear not, I certainly accept tips!

Disclosure: Product images on this page and the banner include affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.


Map! Coastal Village

Map! Creek Camp


Map! Forest Keep


Map! Swamp Dock


Map! Tower Ruin

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review Burp: Reviews on EN World, KoDT & Stuffer Shack

KoDT #248
Disclosure: Product images on this page and the banner include affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.

Kenzer and Company is just two issues away from #250 (knock on wood). KoDT #248 released last week. In issue #248 I review two non-RPG products: Bad Medicine & Murder Most Foul. With EN World, hurricane season put a temporary damper on the (two per month) schedule, so I was only able to get a review of The Indie Hack published. Stuffer Shack published my critical review of Fragged Empire.


Bad Medicine
Bad Medicine is party card game, where players take the role of big pharma companies, pitch drugs to each other, and win points for creating the best pitches. This game makes a great game night, starter before you bring out the big guns. You can get a PDF print & play copy of the game at drivethrucards.com (click on the image). Formal Ferret Games is planning on launching a Kickstarter for a physical product, in February 2018.

The Indie Hack
Murder Most Foul
Murder Most Foul offers a unique take on Murder Mystery. If you've ever had the pleasure, you'd know that many mysteries are bogged down with scripted elements, which somewhat limits replay-ability. In Murder Most Foul, any guest can commit a murder (even among their fellow guests) and if they can find a murder weapon and murder the Host without getting caught they win. Sixpence Games (company site)

What to say about The Indie Hack that hasn't been said? Needless to say, but I gave it a positive review. I haven't had the opportunity to read any of the other hack variants or many micro-RPGs in general, but if this game is an indicator, I certainly need to. The review on EN World is here.

With Fragged Empire I was pretty critical. As I wrote in the review on Stuffer Shack:


Fragged Empire
"Overall, Fragged Empire receives a mixed review and it seems at almost every turn of the page something I like is weighed down with something I didn’t care for. This is a top-notch product and on par with the big boys, but the layout and overall arrangement of the material suffers in organization. The detail of equipment, weapons, and guidelines for creating starships, is done well, but acquisition is ruled by a sub-system, which I’d have no use of. The writing is respectable, the setting and cultural history elements are far above the mark of most settings, but at 385 pages the game suffers some bloat (though this is also tied to organization). Characters are well-balanced (and not too unwieldy) and a campaign will likely be best served with a mix of each race, while at the same time cultural tension is a core theme throughout."

I've never quoted myself... But, there you go. The full review, which I have good deal of nice things to say is at Stuffer Shack here.

Note to Self: This is the point when I'm starting to seriously consider going to Wordpress. Putting these product images and formatting, only took me an extra 1 1/2 hours. Your losing me blogger.(OMG!)

Note: Map! Products are on sale through Halloween with my recent release of Map! Creek Camp. 100% digitized in the U. S. A. and cost a dollar or less. If you look closely you'll see that Map! Tower Ruin is Pay What You Want, which means you can get it for free: you're welcome, cheapskate... Hehe... I kid yet, I mean it. And thank you to whoever, that bought both Borders of Yore collections (that made my day a little better)

Borders of Yore & Map! Products; the Boss approves!