Author | Megan

Megan

I started role-playing in 1977 when I went to university (Cardiff), haven't really stopped since. True to form, met my husband in a castle dungeon (Treasure Trap, the first live roleplay site) in 1982.

After a doctorate in botany (York), turned to computing and worked in a software house writing planned maintenance systems, then wandered into this new-fangled web thing early and after some freelance work got hired by the local college as webmaster where I hit on the idea of using it to support and enhance learning and teaching rather than just advertise the place...this led to my current role as 'ILT Champion' (how's that for a job title?) at Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, teaching computing and spreading the word about uses of technology whatever you're teaching... and got made a Fellow of the British Computer Society in 2007.

And of course the role-playing continues, and I'm never without the plotbook. I run RPG Resource and if I ever get bored there's my other website, Medals.org.uk.


Megan

Divine Power (4E D&D) Review

Posted on May 21, 2010 by

This book is aimed at the players of characters who look to the deities of their world for inspiration or power, and presents new ideas and options for any paladin, cleric, avenger or invoker character. The main part of the book consists of chapters for each class mentioned, giving new class features, builds, powers and paragon paths for each. The final chapter looks at divine domains with new feats, epic destinies and rituals available, and at deities in general.

First up, the avenger. Introduced in Player’s Handbook 2 he is an agent of divine justice with a mission to smite the enemies of his deity wherever they arise. There’s a new type who specializes in bringing his targets to justice through power of numbers, gaining strength from his allies. Lots of new ‘prayers’ of course, and some interesting sidebars about underlying motivation.

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Megan

Neverland Fiction Review

Posted on April 30, 2010 by

Remember those long hot summers that never seemed to end? Remember the people your parents said you had to like – even though they quite clearly did not – because they were your relatives? In Neverland, Douglas Clegg has captured these feelings and added a gruesomely scary twist that keeps you turning the pages.

The story starts off as it means to go on, focussing on the main character, Beauregard Monroe. He’s 10, and about to embark on his family’s annual vacation at his grandmother’s house on a swampy island in the Deep South that even the locals leave for the summer. The heat, the humidity, and the mosquitoes, make themselves felt even in a chilly English spring (where I’m reading), as I turn the pages the sultry, sleepy heat flows forth.

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Megan

Witch Hunter: the Blessed and the Damned Review

Posted on April 7, 2010 by

The Introduction opens with the comment that while there’s plenty been published about the Adversary, precious little has been produced – bar the core rules – to support Witch Hunters themselves. This book sets out to change all that, a tome designed to aid Witch Hunter characters, honing them into potent and effective forces for good. To put things in context, there’s a brief summary of the way things are – the war between the supernatural and the protectors of mankind, the Orders of Solomon and their operatives the Witch Hunters. A war now waged in secret, although once, in times of legend, more open.

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Megan

Chronica Feudalis RPG Review

Posted on March 26, 2010 by

The Introduction – or “Translator’s Foreword” – sets the scene magnificently. This is not, we are told, a modern game of mediaeval times but a role-playing game written in mediaeval times by some monks seeking a pastime, an imaginative entertainment. This delightful conceit is continued throughout the entire book, complete with mediaeval-style illustration.

The first chapter, Imagine, describes what the game is about. Beginning with a series of pen-pictures describing dramatic scenes from mediaeval life, the author explains how a group of young monks play a game of ‘Imaginings’ wherein they pretend to be other people: a brave knight or a cunning thief, perhaps.

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Megan

Manual of Exalted Power: Dragon-Blooded Review

Posted on March 17, 2010 by

The Introduction sets the scene: for a long time the Dragon-Blooded have ruled Creation (or at least, the Realm of the Scarlet Empire) but now their position is threatened, particularly by the resurgance of the Solar Exalted but also the rise of the deathknights and other disquieting – at least, if you’re Dragon-Blooded – events. A rule that seemed certain, fixed, timeless, is now at risk and an all-encompassing war seems likely. Interesting times, as they say… and good if you want to run an exciting game! The purpose of this book is then stated, to present a wealth of further detail about the Dragon-Blooded to enrich that game, whether you want really well-developed rounded adversaries or want to actually play Dragon-Blooded characters. The first part of the book focusses on information about the Scarlet Dynasty – the Great Houses of the Realm – and on those Dragon-Blooded who Exalt outside of that organised structure, then there comes all the rule mechanics you need to create Dragon-Blooded characters, and rounds off with notes on the sort of games in which all this detail will be of benefit.

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Megan

Manual of Exalted Power Abyssals Review

Posted on February 22, 2010 by

At first glance, the Abyssal Exalted seem pretty vile folk, spreading death and destruction wherever they go. However, there’s a lot more to them than that, and if you are seeking a greater understanding of the Abyssals, are a Storyteller with a plot in which they play a major part or actually are looking to run a game based around Abyssal characters, this book is worth a read.

The Introduction gives an overview of the Abyssals and discusses the roles that they might have in your game as adversaries, allies or indeed characters to be played. Like the Solars, Abyssals begin as ordinary human beings with the seeds of greatness, the potential to become a mighty hero. Those who suffer – or are on the brink of – an untimely death may be given the opportunity of Exaltation as an Abyssal instead, provided that they will pledge themselves to the service of the Deathlords and their ultimate goal: the destruction of Creation itself.

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Megan

Exalted Storyteller’s Companion Review

Posted on February 17, 2010 by

The Introduction sets the scene without ado: there are many threats facing the Solar Exalted chief of whom are the other kinds of Exalted, and the purpose of this book is to enable the Storyteller to create quick yet effective representatives of all other Exalts to serve as allies or – more likely – enemies in the course of the chronicle that is to be told. More detail on both the five kinds of Exalt and on creating antagonists in general than is to be found in the core rules is presented,along with information about the high-level politicking that goes on which can be used as background or even as something for the characters to get involved with if the thought of mixing diplomacy and intrigue with warfare appeals.

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Megan

Aletheia RPG Review

Posted on January 13, 2010 by

The concept of a group of people investigating contemporary strangeness and paranormal events is not a new one, but this book provides a coherent and well-considered approach to what is going on that makes it worth investigating.

It begins with a short Introduction that provides the obligatory “what is role-playing?” explanation and describes the core premise of the game: that the characters are members of a society dedicated to hunting out the truth. It also states that the following four chapters can be read by players and game masters alike, while the rest is best left to the game master alone. As with any game in which there are secrets to unearth, it’s best not to know those secrets in advance if you are one of the people trying to unearth them… but it does presuppose that only one member of your group wishes to game master at least for this system.

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Megan

Supernatural RPG Review

Posted on January 8, 2010 by

If you are already a fan of the Supernatural TV show and want to play out the kind of adventures that happen to its protagonists, this book will come as a real treat. If you don’t know the show, or are just looking for a game in which present-day heroes deal with supernatural menaces, this probably is not the game for you.

Written throughout in a casual style (almost as if written by Dean Winchester) and laid out in full colour with lots of (uncaptioned, alas, and rather dark) shots from the show as well as evocative collections of items that might rest on a hunter’s desk, the work begins with an Introduction by Sara Gamble, one of the show’s writers. Clearly, she’d quite like to join in, and it ought to get you into the right mood for this game from the outset.

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Megan

City of the Damned: New Orleans Review

Posted on January 4, 2010 by

Set in a New Orleans that never was, and certainly is not now, post-Katrina, this atmospheric work opens with a story that sums up the edgy infighting of vampiric unlife (provided you can read thin block capitals on a heavily-patterned background – better contrast would have improved my enjoyment of this bit!). The introduction following the story explains how New Orleans seems a city made for the gothic horror feel of Vampire: The Requiem, and explains how the material in the core rulebook perhaps represents common knowledge (and misinformation) about the city, while herein lies the real truth. Thus it is clear from the outset, that this book is intended mainly for Storytellers and not for general player consumption.

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Megan

Cartoon Action Hour Season 2 Review

Posted on December 28, 2009 by

Who watched cartoons when they were growing up? Or still watches them, perhaps covertly, today? (You don’t need to answer that!) In the Foreword the point is made that not only are cartoons very entertaining for youngsters, they also provided a fertile inspiration for games on the playground… so why not for role-playing as well?

Channel 1: Introduction (to promote the TV show feeling, ‘chapters’ are called ‘channels’!) begins by attempting to define what sort of cartoons this game is intended to emulate – the 1980s action-adventure ones, which have been grouped together as ‘retro-toons.’ Now I’m a bit old to have been entranced by them (I graduated in 1980!), but certainly caught the odd episode and can see the appeal. Typified by boundless enthusiasm, violence that was brief and never seemed to draw blood (although robots came apart a lot) and no difficulty whatsoever in distinguishing between the Good Guys and the Bad ‘Uns, the sheer innocence and capacity for boundless fun is at the center of their appeal.

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Megan

Fantasy Craft RPG Review

Posted on December 15, 2009 by

Honed by years of experience with the D20 ruleset, Fantasy Craft opens with the clear premise: this is YOUR game, and the rules are but the toolset to enable you to run it how you like. That said, the Introduction continues with the usual information about what role-playing is, definitions of players, characters, the game master and the like… but throughout the point is continually stressed that you will be choosing the precise nature of the world in which your game will run, from a range of time periods to the relative levels of technology and magic.

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Megan

Shadowrun: Digital Grimoire Review

Posted on November 19, 2009 by

After a brief short story demonstrating how a diverse group of different backgrounds might come together and meet foes known to at least one of them, this work dives straight in to present some new magical traditions. These traditions incorporate the underlying philosophy that a magic user might study, different ways of thinking about magic, and suggest the sorts of ritual practices suitable for a student of that tradition.

The first one is the Egyptian tradition. Magic users raised in this tradition base their beliefs on those of Ancient Egypt, using imagery and items from that period, scribing hieroglyphs and visualising their powers as emanating from an appropriate deity of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon.

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Megan

Trail of Cthulhu RPG Review

Posted on July 30, 2009 by

The Introduction dives straight in to the basic premise, that ancient and insane deities exist and are still trying to invade Earth and that someone has to stop them, whatever the cost to life and sanity. It then moves on to the burning question: there’s already a Call of Cthulhu RPG dealing with just that, so why a new game? The answer lies in the Gumshoe ruleset, developed by Pelgrane Press for the purpose of running games based around investigation and discovery, and built so that any adventure depending on certain clues being found will have those clues found! It’s designed for people – Keepers and players alike – who want to concentrate on figuring out what the clues mean, rather than having to wonder if they actually have all the clues. This game also aims to enable two styles of play – the Purist style of intellectual analysis which enjoys watching the horror unfold knowing that it will end in madness; and the Pulp style which allows for a more physical approach, value the actual struggle against evil… and pays a bit more regard to character survival. The best games mix a bit of both – certainly Lovecraft’s writing did! – but as parts of the rules favour one or the other style, they are marked so players can choose the bias they prefer, if any.

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Megan

World of Darkness: Tales from the 13th Precinct RPG Review

Posted on July 14, 2009 by

The basic premise of this book is to provide a setting for ordinary mortal investigation of the supernatural as presented in the World of Darkness line. As sworn police officers, characters are in an ideal position to investigate odd goings-on, and – let’s face it – a lot of the things that your average werewolf, vampire or even mage might get up to are likely to break a few laws along the way. It would also make a good resource for the Storyteller who wants his vampire, etc., players face up to the consequences of their actions in the real world, as well as in the refined atmosphere of their own kind’s society.

The ‘flavor’ opening sequence takes the form of a newspaper interview of a veteran crime reporter, telling a new recruit to his profession the low-down on how policing works in Midway, the fictional city in which the 13th Precinct is located. The city itself, by the way, is left loose enough that it is very easy to transfer the entire setting into another city – real or imaginary – of your choice, to fit the rest of your chronicle.

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Megan

Wraith Recon RPG Review

Posted on June 30, 2009 by

Rather a long time ago, when I had just taken the Queen’s Shilling and the new game was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, I thought about applying classic squad tactics to adventuring parties on the tabletop. War, after all, happens at least as frequently in a fantasy realm as it does in the real world, and small groups are the norm in both role-playing and Special Forces. So it is with a measure of glee that I find a book which has taken this route with the combat-orientated 4th Edition of D&D; providing both a rich but war-torn setting and ideas for building a special forces unit using the full potential of fantasy adventurers.

The Introduction explains precisely what is intended. Although it has the normal trappings of a standard fantasy campaign setting (and indeed if that is what you want you can play a normal fantasy game here), the intention is that player-characters will be members of an elite ‘special forces’ style group called Wraith Recon; and that rather than normal adventuring activities they will engage in classic special forces missions, acing often on their own but under direction of their commanders.

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Megan

Keys to the Supernal Tarot Review

Posted on June 12, 2009 by

Opinions vary. Some people think Tarot cards hold power, while those who know say that they are merely guides, an interface to unlock your own knowledge of ancient secrets. In this book, the 22 Major Arcana are used as keys to chronicles for your Mage: The Awakening game… a smart idea as many mages study the Tarot.

The work starts with a short story in which a regular game of cards turns into a reading, and perhaps something else. You don’t need a special Tarot deck if you know what you’re doing.

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Megan

D&D 4E Player’s Handbook 2 RPG Review

Posted on June 10, 2009 by

The intention behind this book is to introduce new races, classes and powers as options that players can choose when designing their characters. The Introduction launches off with some grandiose claims about being a ‘significant expansion’ – well, it is fair to say that five new races and eight new classes broadens your options… it just depends if what is offered happens to suit what you want to play. The second part of the Introduction presents the ‘Primal Power Source’ which underlies the supernatural powers available to the barbarian, druid, shaman and warden classes presented later on. It links to the spirits of nature, the power of the world itself that originally arose to protect it from the depredations of squabbling deities and primordials. Having banished them so that they can only exert an influence the primal powers, a myriad of spirits, have established what is perceived as the ‘natural order’ – the cycle of life and death, the turning of the seasons. The characters who draw on them are thus firmly rooted in nature.

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Megan

Martial Power RPG Review

Posted on May 28, 2009 by

The Introduction begins by discussing the true tools of a warrior: not so much his weapons and armour, but his skills and techniques. The best fighters may even be know for a particular style or manoeuvre that has become a trademark. This book is laid out so as to help you to develop such a character, one tailored to the style you wish him to have. Each of the martial character classes – fighter, ranger, rogue, and warlord – has a chapter dedicated to honing characters of that class, and the book rounds out with a massive listing of new feats which may be used to good effect. While some players may take the opportunity to build a new character from the bottom up using these resources, allowance has also been made for those who wish to revise existing martial characters in the light of what is written here.

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Megan

World of Darkness: Armory Review

Posted on May 19, 2009 by

In the world of darkness your character may come equipped with fangs, claws, immense strength or dark sorceries with which to engage in combat, but there will always come that time when the weapons and equipment you carry are going to save your life (or unlife as the case may be). This book purports to provide all the supplies that you might need.

It starts with an evocative description of a gunfight when some cops investigating a murder have a run-in with someone decidedly more than human, demonstrating both the strengths and weaknesses of gunplay in the World of Darkness. Then, the Introduction talks about the roles of equipment and weapons – not as a substitute for your own intelligence and skills, but as an adjunct to them. Wise words for any character venturing out into the World of Darkness, human or not.

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