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!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Digital Release Map! Creek Camp

Map! Creek Camp
Map! Creek Camp

Map! Products are in full color, providing a visual location for the Referee (DM/GM) to populate, and for the player characters to discover. This product contains a master PDF (preview). Each map depicted in the PDF is included in Zipped PNG format. Each map format has a print friendly (300 DPI) version, as well as a virtual tabletop (100 DPI) version. For an exact account, click on the image and check it out over at RPGNow.com
This Download Contains:
• Map! Creek Camp PDF (preview)
• Print Friendly, Zip File PNG (300 DPI); Ten Files total 
• Digital Friendly, Zip File PNG (100 DPI); Ten Files Total
• My appreciation: Thank you. Please take the time rate, review and comment. Also, what sort of Map! products would you like to see in the future? I welcome your ideas.
Notes: Hexagon measurements are at 5ft per side; graph is at 5ft sq. (standard). This product is not for use in commercial products.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

RPG Review: Dead Reign

Dead Reign
Disclosure: Product links include my drivethrurpg.com affiliate identification. I receive a token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Thank you for your support.

Dead Reign

By: Kevin Siembieda, Josh Hilden & Joshua Sanford

Published By: Palladium Books (site)

Review By: J.L. Duncan

Welcome to a review of the portable document format (PDF) of Palladium Books Dead Reign, which is available at drivethrurpg.com & rpgnow.com. If you’d prefer an undead tree version you can mash some buttons and order one at the Palladium Books website. Though Dead Reign was published late 2008 the PDF version wasn’t put up as a digital product until (2015).

In the interest of transparency it’s important to disclose that I published three game articles with Palladium Books quarterly publication the Rifter from 2013-2014. I do not know anyone at Palladium Books personally and if I thought for a moment I couldn’t write a fair review you wouldn’t be reading it. Let’s get to it…

Zombie games, will they ever go away? The darn things just won’t die. What was once considered a fad has morphed into a full blown-movement people! If I had a nickel for every zombie I’ve slain at the gaming table, as the saying goes I’d be a rich man. Instead, I write the occasional game review to supplement my RPG habit...

RPGs are representative of a small but respectable share of the zombie movement. The first table top RPG which comes to my mind was Eden Studios, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, which was published in 1999. Credit to them for being zombie, before zombie was this cool… Fast forward almost ten years (and another 7 for the PDF) with a lot of games in-between and we arrive at Dead Reign.

As a publisher and of the many games under their flag, Palladium Books is known for the strength of its settings. In this regard, Dead Reign doesn’t disappoint. What’s important for any respectable zombie RPG; is that it must remain true to the media that came before it, yet not just settle on the creative common of that which has come before.

Dead Reign is an RPG which encapsulates two popular media tropes; part survival horror, something akin to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and part modernization such as with Max Brook’s World War Z. Though the elements from these media are familiar Dead Reign doesn’t just sit idly upon them. The game defiantly has its own take on the zombie apocalypse and most importantly successfully translates it for the purposes of an RPG.

Palladium Books is also known for their old school approach to game mechanics and rules coined the Megaversal System. Coming up on nearly forty years in the business of publishing games, Palladium Books has never produced what one would consider a major system over haul or second edition. If you’re privy-no, in this reviewer’s opinion -though it did present some updates, Rifts Ultimate Edition doesn’t count. The rules are also slightly tweaked per each setting in which Palladium Books has produced. The Megaversal System is indeed looser (and inconsistent) than most modern gamers are accustomed and not to mention old school.

While Dead Reign continues both traditions (excellent setting/Megaversal System) it also has some useful approaches to help expedite character creation (the length of which to roll a character is usually a criticism) and a lot of interesting tweaks to the zombies you’ll try and head shot.

Creating a character in Dead Reign presents two options, traditional character creation and quick character creation. The quick method is not only as advertised it’s a bit more advantageous for the player character’s attribute scores-that is, if we consider the RPG Gawd’s law of averages.

The traditional method will likely have its appeal to the purest while the quick method will likely have its appeal to those new and most importantly, those wanting to slay some zombies! Characters in Dead Reign have eight attributes three mental, five physical. Rolling attributes involves rolling 3D6, tallying and placing the result in order. The crux of this old school method is that you may get a low score someplace you’d prefer it not to be, while if you happen to roll a total of 16 or higher the player can roll an additional D6 to add to that specific attribute.

The quick method has eight options. The choice of which will leave few rolls but sum up the physical and mental attributives of the character. As with any system that utilizes standard attributes, Dead Reign provides ability and situational benefits (+/-) based on attributes. Utilizing the quick method you can really create the character you want. Want a character who’s physically tough, or one who can think themselves out of the situation? Dead Reign has this covered. Also of note is that the average attribute score using the quick method pushes attribute scores higher than they would be (on average) than using the traditional method. While making character creation a little less random I thought it was an excellent option for an old school system.

Dead Reign supplies two categories of characters to play, Occupational Character Classes (OCCs) and Survivor Occupants. OCCs are well detailed character classes with a range of special abilities and skills catered for the setting. There is even an interesting variant of playing a half-zombie like character. Survivor Occupants are ordinary folks-the cooks, cleaning ladies and TV repairmen; average Joes and Janes trying to survive in a world gone to heck.

Though there isn’t a huge dissimilarity in ability or power between the two sorts of characters you can roll up, there certainly is a difference. Point of fact it’s enough of a difference that it should make for some interesting choices in the sort of characters being played. For instance having a player group comprised of Survivor Occupants is going to necessitate a toughie based game, while choosing to use the Survivor OCCs will facilitate a more heroic or action themed game. Also while the two sorts of character categories are different they aren’t so out of whack that a Game Master (GM) if they so choose, can’t integrate a mix of both with the player group.

The setting of Dead Reign is modern day. The player characters are thrust into the role of survivors who have survived the initial zombie onslaught or wave. Instead of presenting a single theory or as some games often do or no theory in regards to the origin of the zombie apocalypse; Dead Reign presents five open ended scenarios. I liked the presentation in leaving the cause of the zombie apocalypse up to the Game Master (GM). Also, though it’s been left unsaid, offering the setting in this way allows the GM to have a bit of wiggle room. Seeing how the players react to the setting elements of the game may very well shape the overarching campaign in the hands of a forward thinking GM.

What about Zombies? You ask. Dead Reign features seven types. Though for the most part zombies are zombies, Dead Reign has some interesting variants, which in turn will offer some unique challenges. I’m leaving a bevy of excellent setting info out, but the short of it is I could probably write a review twice as long concerning this game.

There is a decent section of 101 Hook Line and Sinkers (AKA: Bait and Tackle in KoDT Parlance) which do a great job of bringing all of the setting elements of the book together. What’s also really good about this game is the work the writers put in to not only define the zombies, but the human presence within the zombie apocalyptic setting.

Ok-so what don’t I like…

My criticisms concerning Dead Reign are twofold. Having played Dead Reign as well as being familiar with the Megaversal System for many years, the tweaks for the game are less dice roll friendly than what has been published before. One example of this is the dice mechanics involved in killing zombies. In short, it is pretty difficult to land a head shot at relatively close range or least much more difficult than it should be. I think the tweaks are an attempt to simulate realism (fear anxiety) but as far as a game dynamic I would have liked to see something different in place.

My second criticism is that some of the content and choices include elements of the Megaversal system, though don’t actually apply to the game itself. I see this creating some confusion to any gamers new to the system. One example of this has to do with two attributes Physical Endurance and Mental Endurance. Both include listed bonuses for saving throws that aren’t particular to Dead Reign a save for magic and a save for psionics. Admittedly I’m not sure how big a deal this is but the layout could have been a little better defined-or magic and psionics included with the setting?-hey yeah!

Speaking of content, the illustrators of Dead Reign did an excellent job of setting the mood. The interior art is black and white and like any Palladium Books product there is plenty of it. While usually I like art being more consistent in my RPGs, the contrast in styles (perhaps because of the genre) works really well to my taste. The cover sets the tone and is both horrible and wonderful, illustrated by E.M Gist.

If you’re looking for a zombie game, a PDF of Dead Reign is certainly worth the asking price.

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.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Map!: Creek Camp & Map! Product Sale; Through Halloween

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

I'm close to completing my fifth Map! product. Creek Camp will feature a few different layout options; a forest & terrain only option, a medium sized (enemy) camp and a small (player character) camp. As always each map will include a clean, hex and graph version (as well as include versions for the digital [100 dpi] tabletop & print [300 dpi]). This way, the end result will have a bit more value then my previous Map! products. Map! Creek Camp will be available this weekend. Depicted are the working samples; not final.

Click for Bigger Image
Originally it was titled Orc Camp... Why orcs? Well... That's a long story. The short of it is that my D&D Basic group had a number of small skirmishes with a ravaging tribe of orcs. After besting a small group (orcs of the very same tribe) out of a dungeon, journeying about the country side is more perilous than usual.

The groups answer was to appeal aid of the local lord, (on behalf of the peasant farmers, of coarse) but he has few swords to spare (how many...?; roll 1d4+1). The lord has promised a small plot of land to the PCs if they can rid the land of the orc presence...

Since I'm close to completion, I've went ahead and offered a Map! sale. I don't always offer a price reduction on previous Map! products. The price reduction will run through Halloween. Please, if you do make a purchase, consider leaving a comment and rating the product. Thank you.

Edit: Creek Camp is available now HERE!

Map! Sale!
 



Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pathways #69: Schools and Acadamies is released!

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

Long story short, I've published my second Pathfinder related writing here in issue #69. Now I'll just get out of the way... And what a great cover!

Pathways: Schools and Academies 

How can you say "No" to a FREE collection of Pathfinder templates, encounters, variant monster rules, and variant masterwork weapons? If you say no designer Owen K.C. Stephens and artist Tan Hui Tian will send the Book Bound Monster to you!


Pathways #69
Rite Publishing brings you Pathways, a free 'zine packed with plenty of Open Game Content for you to take to the table. You'll find articles by  Owen K.C. Stephens, Creighton Broadhurst, David J. Paul, Wendall Roy, J.L. Duncan, and Jacob Gobhar.

We also have a special interview with Christina Stiles and our 36th installment of the Path Less Traveled by Jacob E. Blackmon.

As ever, Pathways would not be possible without our Patrons. If you love what we do, please check out Rite Publishing on Patreon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

RPG Review: Alpha Blue

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

RPG Review: Alpha Blue
Published By: Kort'thalis Publishing (site)
Author: Venger As’Nas Satanis
Review By: J.L. Duncan

In the vast expanse of the interweb a role playing game (RPG) titled Alpha Blue was successfully funded October 2015 via Kickstarter for $4.5K internet bucks. The book was up for general sale in the adult section with Onebookshelf (OBS: drivethrurpg & rpgnow) in December the same year. In March 2016 the title was temporarily pulled from OBS for “potentially offensive” content. Namely, as OBS put it customer complaint; but after in-house review, the title back up for purchase two days later.

The origin of the controversy, what most of the RPG community picked up on, (Links for reference at Tenkar's Tavern & to RPG Pundit) was the use of a fictional Muslim terrorist organization the “Interstellar Caliphate” and descriptive text of a plot device, the “Rape Machine.”

Despite the above, Venger As’Nas Satanis’s, Alpha Blue role playing game (RPG) isn’t quite the campy, oversexualized, space station hive of scum and villainy, I might have been looking for.

Move along, move along…



..

.

(Still here?)

Alpha Blue might be cult campy, if there is such category. If by oversexualized, I refine the word to mostly male, metrosexual fantasy tropes. But, then again what else is there (insert, sarcasm)? Hive of scum and villainy? Okay, we give it Dirk Diggler points for that. It’s a brothel, in space! Sort of, but wait there’s more!

Once upon a wishing well, Alpha Blue was the Terran Federation’s (earth’s) repository for sexual deviants, derelicts and nymphomaniacs. Now embarking upon the 23rd century, it drifts about, never in one place… It roams around, around, around, around, around. The sleaze of Alpha Blue’s half a million many, out sleazes the needs of the galactic stew (promise that’s almost the last, bad pun).

The setting material or where Alpha Blue will roam is presented with a basic outline of the galaxy. A number of brief plot hooks are seeded throughout the writing, as well as chapters for Scenario Seeds and NPCs do a good job of engaging the reader to potentially run the material. I’m in favor of writing which directly engages the Space Dungeon Master’s (SDM) desire to run said material, and it’s not always a given with a setting treatment.

System wise, Alpha Blue utilizes a unique and light, d6 dice pool. Most conflict resolution involves a character rolling 2d6 against a target number of 4 or better, 3d6 if the character has an advantage or 1d6 for situations which the SDM determines the character has a disadvantage. The highest die total of the pool is taken. Success or failure is rated on a sliding scale: 4 being a partial success, 5 a success, 6 a critical success. There is short section on converting the material to OSR and even a couple of interesting ideas for doing so, but it will need a few more hours to be properly configured on the navi-computer. Instead of the system, converting the setting material to the space opera themed RPG of your preference, be it Stars Without Number, Traveler, or even Starfinder is probably just as likely.

Character creation is just as light as the system. No traits, attributes or (+1 and/or -1) modifiers. Players will pick their poison rolling twice (either once for each, of twice on the same) on the Respectable Careers Table and/or Scoundrel Career Table; or roll once on either of the prior mentioned tables and instead roll for their characters to have mutation, be an alien, or be “something special,” which I’ll leave to the reader’s imagination.

Speaking of tables, Alpha Blue has heaping handful of them. It’s certainly enough to sprain your dice wrist, if you’re not careful. There are tables for: alien creatures, creating character backgrounds, fashion (really fashion…? Yes.). Also, more tables such as character astrology, sexual fantasies & fetishes, wealth, and whole bunch of other stuff, including elements which should assist the SDM in regards to fleshing in some of the details of their adventures.

The portable document format (PDF) of Alpha Blue in 114 pages cover to cover including a basic un-specified map of the station, finishing with character sheets and a lined notes section. The Table of Contents is hyperlinked, which is a nice feature. The color cover does an adequate job of portraying the source material or sleazy theme. The interior illustrations are black and white ranging from semi-raunchy (partial nudity, sexual overtones), interesting, to mundane.

As far as the sexual elements go, Alpha Blue doesn’t go near the level I thought it might. In fact, the writing of these elements are just that, elements (more optional than not) and not a requirement of using the setting. The Interstellar Caliphate is a religious group of bad folks doing bad things, and the Rape Machine is a plot device used by bad guys. Subjectively speaking, could these elements been pulled off with a little more class, yeah… But, I doubt the author of an RPG who coins his own title as “sleazy, gonzo science-fantasy,” had interest in doing such…

For certain, if you consider yourself sensitive to sexual themed material then Alpha Blue probably isn’t your cup of coffee (if you’re still reading). If you’re mostly indifferent, then this is a product has a respectable amount of material, whether you decide to run it as is, or mine it for ideas in regards to the space opera themed RPG of your choice.

Note: This review originally written and published on July 28, 2017, Stuffer Shack.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Robotech RPG Tactics Game of Quotes Part Two

Regular updates on Palladium Books, Game of Quotes (link to part one for a recap) continues... In Scott Gibbons seventh update (which is actually his eighth...*shrug*), he reveals some very mediocre news. Bolded emphasis mine. Let's get to it!

Update #207


"With regard to RRT Wave 2, we spoke with representatives of several manufacturers and reviewed samples of their work. We are now awaiting refined quotes as we were able to discuss what we want to accomplish with Wave Two. That included confirming with them the level of detail that we are seeking to preserve while reducing part counts."

While admittedly this is pretty underwhelming, interestingly John Starck Cadice, Palladium Books former miniatures partner (Ninja John, from Ninja Division) and the reason why many backed this crowdsourcing turd to begin with, gave a nugget to disgruntled backers. A bit of truth; pointing out the irrelevance of the update:


Robotech Tactics "Unofficial"
 
We'll leave the guy attempting to troll a former project collaborator, to his own devices, but thanks Jeff NMI Ruiz. Who knows? Without you, we might not have this nugget confirming that the Ninja's certainly did their part. (NDA be damned) And this certainly locks up, Palladium Books ineptitude. 100,000 comments, here we come.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Submissions Open: Zenith Games

Zenith Games
Zenith Games put up a call on the Paizo Freelancer Open Call forum, and is interested in freelancers who can produce 300-500 word, generic fantasy adventures. Rate of pay is 1 cent/word. And a week remains on the call.


All the info you need is above, (click to enlarge) including ZG's email and be sure to type in the subject line, "100 Side Quests Pitch." And here is Zenith Game's blogpost: 12 tips for writing adventures, to get you started. Best of luck!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review Burp: EN World, KoDT & Stuffer Shack

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

KoDT #247
the DIG
RPG Reviews for EN World & KoDT continues and as mentioned, I've been able to add a third venue, which I look forward to assisting with my reviewer slush pile: Stuffer Shack. For EN World I reviewed The Dig RPG, for KoDT A Red & Pleasant Land, and with Stuffer Shack: Kenzer & CO's Deadly Trappings. A narrative RPG, a setting book for D&D/LotFP, and system neutral product -oh my!

The Dig is an interesting narrative RPG, which you'll gather friends, and craft tales, all without a Game Master. If you're a narrative gamer, this product is certainly something you should take a closer look at... Each players skill at crafting the narrative reminds me very much of a diceless system, but this game incorporates a few dice rolls (d6) for challenges. I've included a YouTube, play-through video below. The review is here (link to EN World Review).

http://www.rpgnow.com/product/141032/A-Red--Pleasant-Land?affiliate_id=815972
A Red & Pleasant Land
What can I say about A Red & Pleasant Land that hasn't already been said? I own the print 1st Edition & PDF. The genius of this product, is that it provides a literal road map for converting a fictional setting of your choice. Though I rarely agree, this product certainly deserved the ENnies it received (2 gold, 2 silver).

Deadly Trappings
Deadly Trappings is Kenzer & CO's trap manual, presumably the best of those traps published in Knights of the Dinner Table, before 2010. Certainly, as a regular contributor to KoDT I'm biased, and this is how I got my boot in the door... As I started writing Deadly Trappings for KoDT in September 2013 (four years ago, holy cow!)... Biased or not, I certainly think it's worth the $. I specify, none of the traps I've written, are in this manual. I hope one day "Deadlier Trappings" (sounds like a great title to me!) might be put together... (hint, hint) And some of my writing might be in that one, as a contributor. The review is here (link to Stuffer Shack review).

A full run through of the DIG RPG:



DriveThruRPG.com

Friday, September 1, 2017

RPG Review: Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd Edition

WtF 2E
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Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd Edition
Written By: Christopher Allen, David Brookshaw, N. Conte, Jim Fisher, David A Hill Jr, Matthew McFarland, John Newman, Leath Sheales, Travis Stout, Stew Wilson, Filamena Young
Published By: Onyx Path Publishing (company site)
Review By: J.L. Duncan

This is a review the portable document format (PDF) of Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd Edition, which is available in PDF as well as in full color, hard cover print. Either product can be purchased at drivethrurpg.com and rpgnow.com. To assist with saving space, Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd Edition will occasionally be shortened to WtF 2Ed.

Onyx Path Publishing (OPP) is the licensed publisher of White Wolf (WW) products and has been since 2012. I queried the company on a complete lark, inspired by the quality of the art: which for this book is absolutely beautiful. It wasn’t till I clicked off the first page that I realized that this product (OPP) was once that (WW) product.

Honestly, I had some trouble with this review. This is the (second, no) third draft. I usually don’t draft. When I finished reading Wtf 2Ed, I wasn’t evaluating it fairly. What happened?

Well, my first problem was that I have a habit of perceiving RPGs in a bubble. Sometimes this approach is works, other times (like for this game) it doesn’t. The second problem (upon thoughtful reflection) is that RPGs are not meant for just reading or case in point, reviewing. RPGs are meant for gaming. Read, comprehended and played. Certainly, the middle one took more time, than most games require.

The main issue with Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd Edition is that the beginning text assumes familiarity. This fact put me a bit off my normal review talents because obviously I was unfamiliar, and neither did this situation provide a simple read. Not even my vague 90’s recollections of the White Wolf games I played back in the day could assist me. To make long story short (too late) comprehension required more than one pass.

My criticism of this RPG is it’s a bit over sophisticated. The confusion starts at the table of contents with how the chapters are titled and continues through with the introduction of vocabulary which is presumed the reader already understands the significance of. It’s not that the game doesn’t define itself, it actually does it very well-it’s about how it goes about defining itself.

While the writing itself is excellent and the art is spectacular, the organization and layout is far from intuitive. I saw this as a problem concerning new storytellers (or GMs) and players. Then again maybe I’m being unfair, as WtF 2Ed won’t be played in a bubble; it will be played with friends. This sophisticated approach is clearly beneficial to those already familiar with Onyx Path Publishing and the new World of Darkness line. To that customer base, I’m certain it appeals. Based on the jaw dropping quality of this product how could it not? Take it with a grain of salt and let’s get to it.

At its core, Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd Edition is a story and character driven RPG. While there might be an argument that all RPGs are character driven or story driven etc. etc. few games in comparison provide the appropriate amount tools for this to be true. Though I hesitate to say WtF 2Ed is a sandbox, given the depth of detail concerning werewolf mythology, as well as in how it coincides with character play, it certainly can or perhaps should be utilized as such.
  
The mythos of Wtf 2Ed is given in fragments throughout the book, which cover what the werewolf is and how it comes to being. Concerning character, each werewolf is a member of the pack and the pack must hunt. Being a part of the pack and the hunt is the werewolf’s or Uratha’s nature and these dual drives create the story building engine for this RPG.

Auspices are in relation to the face of the moon upon the characters first change to the wolf and outline the characters personality, goals and desires. Auspices are (think character class) The Visionary, The Walker Between, The Stalker, The Spirit Master and The Warrior. Each of these is interesting as well as very distinctive. In regards to character mechanics, each Auspice starts with a specific grouping of gifts, skills, renown and benefits. The tail wags the wolf in this section (a compliment) as everything to do with the individual character builds, keeps to its own and will so in gameplay in regards to dice rolls and mechanics.

Tribes provide a comprehensive subset of culture and philosophy for the characters, the RPG provides five, with the sixth entry involving those who choose to go without a tribe association. Most likely is that the characters will all be in the same tribe and same lodge/pack though it is certainly possible for them not to be. Whichever culture is selected to presumably play is very important. So much so, that it will steer the scope of the game or chronicle. Each tribe is just as diverse as the next, allowing a great deal of variation in regards to the sort of RPG going to be played or the type of story going to be told. I’ll let the game speak for itself:

“Some werewolves turn their back on the duty of Father Wolf. Some remove the marks of Mother Luna upon their spirit, following those Firstborn who ignore their duties, calling themselves the Pure. Others try to ignore the call of the hunt entirely, turning their back not just on Mother Luna and Father Wolf but on their need to hunt. These Ghost Wolves try to ignore what they are, embracing a life that has can never be the same.” ( Pg. 33)

While Auspices cover what the character is and Tribes provide a culture, Lodges are the main setting piece for the how and why the characters interact with the game world. To put it shortly lodges are the finger on the bow, on the gift of the setting. Though the lodges sections are brief when you combine these three elements the picture of the game you want to play comes together quite nicely.

Creating a character with WtF 2Ed is involving without being too time consuming and a lot of fun.

Step one is creating a concept for the character and determining three aspirations. These are exactly what they seem. Create a concept and a list of what the werewolf character aspires to.

Steps two through four are about traits (attributes), skills (generic) and skill specialties (specifics). Nine traits are separated equally into three categories; trait categories are mental, physical and social. In regards to game mechanics the strength of each trait as well as the proficiency in skills are represented by a dot on a character sheet. Each dot represents a D10.

With character creation each of the nine traits receives one dot to start. The player allocates additional dots to each of these three categories, and then distributes the dots based on preference or character concept. In other words, what the player considers the most important trait category receives the most dots to distribute-the least important fewer dots.

Skills are grouped by the same three categories as traits and the distribution of dots follows the exact same model as the player decided for traits. The trait with most dots receives the most skills selections. Each character receives three specialties to start the game. For instance, a character has three dots in the drive skill but has selected a specialty in motorcycle, provides the player with an additional dot (or D10). When (or if) required to apply a driving check three D10s are rolled, if driving a motorcycle four D10s are rolled.

Steps five six and seven are about rounding out the character. Step five is choosing an auspice, tribe and lodge. Steps six and seven are about distributing dots for Merits and Advantages. Merits reveal the characters allies, holdings, and experiences while Advantages is a matter of looking over your character sheet and calculating.

In regards to game mechanics WtF 2Ed is all about the D10s. In all honesty I despise just about any D10 system I’ve come across except the one used here. While I’m a critical pundit concerning the level of crunch with most RPGs, WtF 2Ed does it well. Specifically, the skills section is an excellent example as each skill is listed, given a general description, and provides an actual breakdown of how it will work mechanically. Each One! Crunch wise this RPG does not outline a huge list of possible events and provide rules so I would put it on the lighter side, but with how skills are presented in the hands of an experienced storyteller this is not a problem.

To conclude, Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd Edition captures the essence of what a story building engine should be, without deteriorating into the common trap of having more sand than box. Character and Setting elements are very detailed, yet the writing allows for a lot of wriggle room in the sort of game that can be played. Not many RPGs even attempt to pull this off, let alone do it successfully. Though this RPG is a bit too sophisticated for my tastes overall I’m impressed. The old World of Darkness line is definitely in capable hands.

Disclosure: This review is property of Kenzer & Company and republished here with expressed permission.

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

RPG News: Modiphia - Issues 1# & #2

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Modiphius - GAMES


Modiphia #1
Modiphius Entertainment has been none to bashful about converting some of the entertainment industries most iconic intellectual properties (IPs), for the love of RPGs. From H.P. Lovecraft's mythos crafted into multiple ENnie award winner -Achung! Cthulhu (2013), and Robert E. Howards Conan the Barbarian, to CONAN - Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of (Kickstarter, currently mid fulfillment), the company is certainly on the up take.

Speaking of up. As in, up beyond the stratosphere and to outer space, the Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying Game is currently less than three days away (which concludes at the end of August) from finishing its preorder status (link to the preorder). Will Star Trek Adventures be a preorder to publication or a preorder to a crowdsource..?

Modiphia #2
With some rummaging about the interweb, I learned firsthand (ala: “the Facebook”) from Chris Birch himself, that the preorder is really about getting things in line for a shipping a big crate of product for distribution to us here in “Americaland.” Nothing warms a gamer’s heart more than imagining a big old steel rectangular container packed tight, full of mini Borg Cube boxed sets, core rule books, custom dice and figurine miniatures. Still, if impatience is your virtue of choice you can still get onto drivethrurpg.com or rpgnow.com and order the Star Trek RPG in PDF, which has been a top seller recently or just head directly over to Modiphius Games site and purchase the dead tree and PDF version. Star Trek custom dice are also available (as a preorder).

Never ceasing to surprise, in spring of this year, the company released the first issue of Modiphia, a free, digital (PDF), quarterly publication, with articles focused on everything Modiphius Games: advertisement, miniatures & RPG content. Free or not Modiphia a top notch product in its own right. Issue #2 was released just last week and among a handful of well written and gorgeously illustrated pieces, is an insightful article for submitting adventures for Achung! Cthulhu, and so yes, the company has officially opened the flood gates and is interested in seeing (if I might borrow a fellow freelancer's term,) hobby-lancer content. Rate of pay for articles is a flat $30 prize in credit, towards Modiphius Entertainment products. Details on the submission process are in each issue of Modiphia. I'd post it, but it's query by email, so yeah... I'm not posting the email. You’ll just have to check out an issue. (Covers include links to drivethrurpg.com)

Modiphius also has a press form for RPG Reviewers & media (link) and a page for work for hire positions (link), which currently includes an interest in writers, artists, and miniature painters; to name a few.

-As always, best of luck!

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Facing the Goat-Hybrid in VaM!

Disclosure: Some of the links within this post include my drivethrurpg.com affiliate identification. I receive a token % if you purchase something from the landing page. It's one way to show your support this blog. Thank you.


Link to product with the Goat-hybrid
Affiliate Link to VaM (warning: mature content), which is PWYW (free).

Not so long ago... I got to get in touch with my longtime friend and current Savage Rifts GM (Spider-Man shirt) for a short session of D&D Basic. I bought this box purely out of nostalgia, as this was the first RPG product I cut my teeth on. (and me is like: go Seahawks!)

Then it was on to Rifts, TMNT, World of Darkness (Vampire, Werewolf), Pendragon, Palladium Fantasy, Amber Diceless, Advanced D&D Second Edition (Ravenloft, Greyhawk, Hollow World, Dragonlance), Street Fighter, Traveller, back to Rifts, D&D 3e then Pathfinder, Ninja & Superspies, back to D&D Basic, back to Pathfinder, Nightbane and Fate... And many one shot RPGs between, most of which I'm struggling to recall and were likely more read than played... (this period going from about 12 years of life)


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Robotech RPG Tactics: Game of Quotes

Robotech RPG Tactics
Very recently, the delivery concerning wave 2 of Robotech RPG Tactics (RRT) was again pushed out to an unspecific date in 2018. Who will take the plastic throne of Robotech RPG Tactics? Who will break the never ending wheel? First this manufacturer is on top, then this one, then Kevin Siembieda, then Essen Spiel, then that manufacturer, a power outage, the internet is down, and a spider stops by for a visit… And oh look! A squirrel!  In honor of this “development,” let’s talk about that. But, as I learned from the last time I posted about this project, (and for those new to this debacle) let’s recap.

Note: And yeah I'm a blogger with a grudge, while my friends are currently out their wave 2 "rewards."

Robotech RPG Tactics (RRT) surpassed its initial funding goal of $70k, to the tune of just over $1.4 million. Funding of the campaign ran April 18th thru May 20th 2013. In total, the crowdfunding roped in 5,342 backers. With a rough estimate that’s an average pledge, a bit over $260. While Kickstarter lists the project as completed, this is not actually true; as Palladium Books claimed dividing the project into two waves was the more efficient way to proceed. While the first wave was pushed back it was eventually delivered, with international shipping completed by May 13th 2015. While four years, and three months after funding... Wave 2 remains only a twinkle in Rick Hunter’s eye.
During this time the main comments section continues to roll (it will hit 100k soon). During the process of wave 1, complaints related to delays, the overall part count, positions of the seams and the skill level required for assembly of the game pieces, were many. However, in the last 2 years and while the (second wave of the) project has remained in ether, or as I like to call it the Game of Quotes, complaints have shifted, to outright anger and contempt. Most of this in regards to a clear lack of transparency by Palladium Books.

Since May 2015, despite the claim of Kevin Siembieda that the project will deliver... What has Palladium said, or more importantly shown, that this is in fact the case? The answer is not much. But let’s take a look back:

By: Kevin Siembieda
·       “…I want you to know there has not been any misappropriation of the funds raised by the Kickstarter, nor any wrongdoing of any kind. Not by me or anyone at Palladium Books.”

·       “…we have not been able to show you physical work, because we are exploring different possible solutions…” 

·       “As stated, we’re shooting to release RRT Wave Two around the end of 2015 or sometime in the first quarter of 2016.”

By: Kevin Siembieda

·       “…as we explore a number of different possibilities. For a variety of business reasons we cannot yet discuss or reveal exactly what we are looking into and considering.“

By: Kevin Siembieda

·       “As I have stated, for strategic and business reasons we have been unable to share with you everything Palladium has been exploring, considering and working on.”

By: Kevin Siembieda

·       “We are working on something exciting right now that, if it pans out, could change everything and help us bring you RRT Wave Two by the end of 2017.” 

·       “We have not released details these many months because everything has been in motion, and still is.”

By: Kevin Siembieda

·       This update Kevin Siembieda reveals that one of his freelancers (a co-creator of RRT) has attempted suicide after wading into the comments section of RRT to discuss the Rift Board Game.

By: Kevin Siembieda
·       “…we are trying to make improvements and headway on Wave Two rewards, via reduced part counts for easier assembly, reduced seams and better sprue layouts. This is happening right now, as we compare quotes utilizing new manufacturing approaches and technologies in the production processes to help attain what we are seeking, while preserving the high detail and quality.”

·       “…With Wave Two rewards having so many unique unit designs to be broken down and quoted, and with Essen Spiel (one of the largest gaming/miniatures conventions in Europe that is visited by many miniature manufacturers - just transpired in October) and the Chinese New Year over, we are hoping the congested pipeline for quotes will move much faster now.”

·       “Once we have the quotes, we can then decide which manufacturer(s) to move forward with. Unfortunately, this process does not yield visual results that can be publicly displayed.”
 


Angry Nird
What has Palladium Books been working on? Working on getting quotes (of coarse) and reducing the part count. But even being conservative, from the finished delivery of wave 1 (May 13th 2015), to KS last update (Feb 23 2017) that’s 22 months (counting days) or nearly two years. Two years of getting quotes!? C’mon man? Many are asking: what is the reason it’s taken two years?

More recently Scott Gibbons recently announced himself as Palladium Books business manager (or fresh face of the Game of Quotes) and apparently… comment wrangler extraordinaire. And in his first update he actually provided something a bit diiferent than: “For business reasons, we cannot share details about reasons… of um, err business.”

By: Scott Gibbons

·       “First, Wayne and Kevin spent half of Friday morning (7/16/2017) on a conference call with a manufacturer (I did not sit in on the call due to another pressing business need that morning). During the call they discussed the manufacturer’s initial quote on producing Wave 2 which we had received the day before. There were some points in the quote that needed clarification, as well as setting expectations for what we need in the finished game pieces. All in all it was a productive call and we are looking forward to getting a revised quote soon.“

·       “From here on out, I personally will be posting updates every two weeks - even if nothing has changed I will check in to let you know.”

By: Scott Gibbons
·       "Part of the conference call with the manufacturer on 6/16/2017 was spent discussing delivery in 2017. The manufacturer expressed that they believed a fourth quarter delivery was probably possible. We asked them to look closely at this while working up the revised quote and see if they could give us a firm commitment for delivery."

By: Scott Gibbons
·       “We have been in contact with the manufacturer I mentioned in the last update several times over the past two weeks, giving answers and clarifying our expectations on a number of issues. We had hoped to have their revised quote by now but are still waiting.” 

·       “In the meantime we have reached out to several other manufacturers (ten in total) in case the manufacturer we are currently working with is not able to satisfy our need for quality assurance, delivery time frame, etc. On that front, we have received responses from several that are interested in the project and a few that aren’t due to already full production schedules.”

·       “With the extended delay in getting back the revised quote, an end-of-year release for Wave 2 is beginning to appear less and less likely. However, we will not know until we see the quotes and hammer out all the final details.”

·       “Several people have asked for renders of the Wave 2 game pieces - I will work on getting those posted here for you.”

Update #202: Jul 18 2017

By Scott Gibbons
·      “We got three new quotes at the end of last week, a refined quote from the factory that we’ve been dealing with as well as initial quotes from two others that we had reached out to. We are currently analyzing the information in the quotes - a task that is not as simple as it may sound.”

By Scott Gibbons

·         One new Rendor…

 
Update #204: Aug 1 2017

By: Scott Gibbons
·      “We’ve gotten several quotes now from manufacturers, some of which are encouraging while others were not. “

·      "The manufacturer Palladium had been talking with when I came on board at the end of May has updated their quote to us. It is not what we were hoping for however, as their quoted price went up significantly. We’ve asked the broker who has been our go-between to seek additional details from the manufacturer about why the price jumped so much.”

·       Of the quotes we have gotten from other manufacturers, we are actively reviewing and comparing several of the most promising and there are two that are very promising. In fact, we were happily surprised with one particular quote, as everything we had heard about this broker and manufacturer said they did excellent work but tended to be expensive. We will be meeting with their reps at Gen Con, along with several other companies.” 

·       “We also had a soft-introduction this week with a domestic injection-molding company (our thanks to the gent who sent them our way).”

·       “With the dragged out quoting process we’ve been going through, unfortunately, I sincerely doubt that RRT Wave 2 will be finished with manufacturing by the end of this year.“

Update #205: Aug 15 2017

By: Scott Gibbons
·       “We have reviewed the quotes and pared down the selection to our top candidates for the job. We are looking forward to reviewing their manufacturing samples and terms before making our final selection.”
At this point even if Palladium Books completes wave 2 they have failed. They needn’t concern themselves with the 200-300 semi-irregular (and rightfully ticked) posters in the comments page. What they should be concerned about, is the 5k plus backers who aren’t commenting at all… They should realize that whatever they do, if wave 2 is finished, that alone doesn't build a game. The unfortunate mis-management of this project, the lack of transparency is and has been, just too much. Play the game of getting and squiring quotes long enough, and despite Scott Gibbons attempts, there really is little difference between what had come before:

“For business reasons, we cannot share details about reasons… of um, err business.”

And what is coming now, since Scott Gibbons has claimed the plastic throne. Or as one backer put it…
“Yeah, the WE'RE GETTING READY FOR GENCON!!!!!!!!! update. Can't wait to firm up those quotes at Gencon! Quote me on this, Wayne and Kevster are quoting the quotes to get a quota on some quotes. You can quote me that even though I Scooter the Magnanimous will not be there in person, Kevayne is totally Mouth watering to get some highly detailed quotes that will forever change the quote market with reduced parts to the spreadsheet. Have you ever tried to quote a spreadsheet? Don't quote me but the quotes will be quoted after Gencon. Buy sum product! Robotech bux!”

Who will take the plastic throne of Robotech RPG Tactics? Who will break the never ending wheel of quotes? It won’t be one of the ten quotes fielded from some random Chinese manufacturer…
Palladium Books can spin it how they like (and have), but the wheel is already broken.
 

Game of Quotes: Part Two


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