Archive | Reviews

Monica Valentinelli

The Iron Wyrm Affair Review

Posted on August 14, 2012 by

I picked up The Iron Wyrm Affair when I first learned about it to support the author. I had the chance to connect with the extraordinarily prolific Lilith Saintcrow on Twitter and, while I’ve never met her in person, I’ve always been inspired by the passion she has for her craft. I had no idea what to expect when I dove into this, but I had read some of her other books. I have a lot to say about this particular tome and its characters so I hope you enjoy the review.

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Megan

Call of Cthulhu: Delta Green RPG Review

Posted on August 13, 2012 by

Many years ago, in a scene that came straight out of these pages, a car drew up outside my house and the driver handed me a copy of this book before whizzing off again! Unfortunately, it was a loan, but the release of a PDF version gives me the urge and wherewithall to sit down and review it.

It opens with a facsimile letter, the rant of an aging veteran steeped in disgust at the modern world and in the urban myths of conspiracy theories about Roswell aliens and military-industrial complexes… or is it a clear-headed look at what many do not, cannot see? This is followed by the Introduction, blending the real reasons for general public mistrust of government seamlessly into the alternate reality of Call of Cthulhu where the Cthulhu Mythos is all too terribly real and ready to drive those who investigate it insane. This book brings the whole Mythos bang up to date, bringing forth a group, Delta Green, dedicated to combating it wherever it dares raise a slimy tentacle, keeping the world, unknowingly, safe one day at a time.

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L5R: Imperial Histories Review

Posted on August 9, 2012 by

Each of the previous editions of Legend of the Five Rings was connected to a specific time period. The first edition was set before the events of the CCG. The second edition bumped the timeline to the Time of the Void. The third edition came out current with the CCG story at the time. The fourth edition opted to be timeless to allow fans to use whatever time period they wanted. This left a lot of the game’s history out of the core book. This makes the fourth edition versatile, but left out a lot of the player created history and backstory. Imperial Histories was created to fill that void.

Imperial Histories is a guide to various points in the history of Rokugan. Many of the periods have been seen in other sourcebooks or editions. Some have been referred to in historical accounts. And a few are brand new to the book. Each of these is set ups as a campaign possibility with new rules, new schools and, in some cases, modifications to the existing rules for different eras of the Empire. This book is aimed at GMs looking for campaign ideas or fans wanting historical information in one place.

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Falling Scales Chapter Two RPG Review

Posted on August 9, 2012 by

Denver was not such a great city after all. You’re out on the town one night and you get mixed up with some nightmare straight out of Filipino folklore. Then a cult which called itself the Unmasked “recruits” you and that doesn’t work out so well. They end up trying to kill you and get you into all kinds of trouble. In the end you were forced to kick their sorry butts to the curb. Well, at least it’s over now, right? No, not so much. Welcome to Falling Scales chapter two!

Four months have passed since the dark events which took place in Denver and your lives have become a living hell. Apparently Anna Christopher had friends in high places, the kind of friends who know how to screw with you in the worst possible way. Just when you think it can’t get any worse there appears a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. Freedom from this nightmare can be found in Washington D.C. if you can find it.

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Steven Dawes

Never Unprepared Review

Posted on August 7, 2012 by

Due to being a full time student for the last 18 months, I’ve not been very active in writing reviews for Flames Rising. I’d also retired from gaming for more than a year due to said schooling, but recently I’ve come to realize that gaming is too much a part of my being; it’s far too hard wired in me as a creative outlet to be able to give it up forever, much less for years at a stretch. So for the last few months I’ve been trying to make it work again, taking up the gauntlet as a weekly Game Master. But I couldn’t do it like I used to; changes in how I managed my Game Master duties needed to be made, and so I’ve been trying different things to varying results.

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Hell’s Door Opens Review

Posted on August 6, 2012 by

Prince Calgus found himself standing before a mirror, regarding his own face but seeing something alien; blood surrounded his mouth, his garments were torn and faded, stained with wine and food, his blond hair matted, and his hands coated in gore.

A story’s first sentence is always an important one. Although this is not the first sentence of the novel when you take the prologue into account this is the moment readers meet Calgus, Prince of Sept. It is also the moment when you realize that Jon Creffield is going to take the classic tale of swords and sorcery and turn it on its head. Hell’s Door Open is equal parts fantasy and horror with healthy doses of great storytelling.

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Billzilla

Carnacki: Heaven And Hell Review

Posted on August 3, 2012 by


I’m a fan of Carnacki. The somewhat stuffy British paranormal investigator, whose adventures were first cataloged more than a hundred years ago in Carnacki The Ghost Finder by his creator, author William Hope Hodgson, have fascinated me since I was urged to read them by a good friend. I was curious, therefore, when I discovered that another author, Scotsman William Meikle, had taken up the mantle of telling some new Carnacki tales in Carnacki: Heaven and Hell by Dark Regions Press. I tried to be objective going in, but my fondness for the character had me pretty excited to read some new adventures.

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Flames

Deadlands Reloaded: Marshall’s Handbook Review

Posted on August 2, 2012 by

You can’t keep a good game down. Deadlands has been around for over 15 years. It’s gone through two editions, a d20 version, and two Savage World editions. It’s spawned spin-off games ranging from sequels like Hell on Earth and Lost Colony to acclaimed CCGs like Doomtown. The game recently returned to Savage Worlds for the line’s budget minded Explorer Editions. The Marshall’s Handbook is built for the brave soul looking to take his or her players on a tour of the Weird West. It’s built for fans of the setting that want to use the slimmed down Savage Worlds rules, which were born out of the original Deadlands rules.

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Megan

DCC: The Emerald Enchanter Review

Posted on July 31, 2012 by

Those wizards! Give them half a chance and they will conduct bizarre experiments without a thought for their neighbours… and this adventure, designed for 8-10 2nd-level characters, is all about stopping one such wizard in his tracks. He lives on a clifftop near a village, and the rascal has even been using some of the locals in his experiments. Maybe some of the locals were friends or relatives of the characters, or maybe these budding heroes have been asked to help out.

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Flames

City of the Fallen Sky Review

Posted on July 30, 2012 by

This is the first Pathfinder novel that I have read, since getting into the world of Golarion as a DM and player I have wanted stories about it. Turns out there are quite a few available. This is my review of one of them.

First of all I am going to tell you the things I liked the most, then a brief plot description and some final thoughts.

One of the best things this book did was show that it is a Pathfinder story, not just a generic fantasy novel. Yes, the Pathfinder organization was briefly featured, but there was so much more than that to ground this book in the Inner Sea. The way the setting, peoples, places, culture, and even game mechanics was worked into the story really made it come alive. This was more than just mentioning nations and gods, going to Absalom, and using unique monsters. The culture of different areas was discussed, both while the characters were there and by the characters themselves, it felt like a living world that was straight out of the Inner Sea Campaign Setting.

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Megan

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Review

Posted on July 26, 2012 by

Back in the mists of time, I wandered into a meeting of the university’s then wargames club and over the sound of jawbones hitting the floor at the sight of a woman, a lanky fellow asked “Would you like to play D&D?”

Opening this work takes me back to the sheer wonders and excitement that followed. The whole style, the artwork, the words, are redolent of those early books that soon found their way onto my bookshelves alongside the botany textbooks… and yet, this isn’t merely another retro-clone, it is a coherent game in its own right, bringing its own freshness and elegance to the core of fantasy role-playing: the small band of adventurers battling enormous odds and terrifying monsters in search of awesome magics and heaps of treasure.

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Deadlands Reloaded: Player’s Guide Review

Posted on July 24, 2012 by

Gaming has several kitchen sink style settings that mix and match strange elements for unique tastes. Shadowrun mixes dark future heists with high fantasy magic. RIFTS sets as many genres as possible at each other in a war over earth. Deadlands brings creaky steampunk machinery, gory 80’s horror movies, wire-fu, action horror and more to a Wild West time and setting. The West is a great setting for a game and Deadlands brings a lot of excellent flavor to the table. Deadlands Reloaded was recently re-released in a budget conscious Explorer’s Edition for Savage Worlds.

Deadlands Reloaded merges the classic setting with the mechanics of Savage Worlds. Savage Worlds started as The Great Rail Wars, a miniatures skirmish game for the setting. Since then, Savage Worlds has been hammered into one of the most prolific rules sets outside of d20. Coming back to Deadlands brings the setting full circle. The setting has spanned novels, a few attempts at a video game and a CCG that is very well regarded. The game even spawned spin-off games set in a post-apocalyptic future and exotic space frontier. The company even recently held a Kickstarter to fund and all new chunk of the settings set in 1930’s New Orleans.

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Billzilla

Flash Fire Mini Reviews: Deadlands Comics

Posted on July 18, 2012 by

Visionary Comics brings the weird west world of Deadlands to full-color life with a series of comics by a variety of artists and writers. Five different issues featuring five different main stories combine to give readers the full-bore Deadlands experience. Combining elements of the classic Western with Steampunk – a fairly natural fit, as it happens – and horror, Deadlands offers a unique experience to gamers. It was only natural that such a two-fisted, four-color setting would make the jump to a more visual medium – comics.

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Falling Scales Chapter One RPG Review

Posted on July 16, 2012 by

The moment a happy resident of the natural world becomes aware of the supernatural is a scene that we are all familiar with. Whether this scene appears in literature, graphic novel, television or film we have witnessed the human drama of a character who has realized they no longer understand the world they live in, they are not the top of the food chain and they are not safe. What will they do? How will they cope with these paradigm shattering revelations? Will they survive?

Falling Scales Chapter One takes players deep into this kind of scenario and fleshes it out into a chronicle for characters in the World of Darkness. The characters see something they were not meant to see and they have no choice but to confront this new reality. They are quickly swept up by a group which calls itself the Unmasked, a cult which takes in those who have been exposed to the truth.

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L5R: Emperald Empire RPG Review

Posted on July 12, 2012 by

One of Legend of the Five Rings greatest strengths is the detail that Rokugan has achieved over its fifteen year history. Gamers love a detailed world. Rokugan grew from a few characters and locations on cards to one of the most richly detailed worlds currently being published. Thousands of cards, RPG books and story fictions add Eastern flavor to this world that’s a mash-up of Western and Eastern fantasy. Emerald Empire is the Fourth Edition’s guide to the world of Rokugan. It is available in PDF and hardcover book.

The book follows the same art and layout style as the Legend of the Five Rings core book. Full color pages with artwork from the CCG used for illustration.

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The Book of Vile Darkness 4E Review

Posted on July 9, 2012 by

Playing evil characters in Dungeons & Dragons has always been a touchy subject. For the most part the fourth edition of the game has avoided the pitfall of “evil player characters” by assuming most groups are playing heroes or alignment neutral characters. Occasionally options appear which allow players to skirt the boundaries of evil without actually stepping over the edge. The Book of Vile Darkness provides gamers with advice and tools to explore the darker side of fantasy adventure whether the goal is a complete immersion in the “evil campaign” or to just add a little more “evil” to your villains.

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Megan

Monsters of Sin Avarice RPG Review

Posted on July 4, 2012 by

Whether or not you believe, you’ll have heard of the concept of sin… going your own way, indulging in your own desires, rather than paying attention to the wishes of your deity. This is the first in a series of resources focusing on the so-called ‘seven deadly sins’ and providing ample material for GMs to lead characters astray…

Avarice – the desire to accumulate wealth and resources far beyond what you actually need – is a sin that probably besets most fantasy adventurers every so often.

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Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror Review

Posted on July 3, 2012 by

I believe this book is cursed, so I will begin with a brief history of my relationship with this book. It has brought me as much woe as enjoyment, thus I keep picking it back up. I first heard of this collection of ghastly mysteries several months ago and my fingers twitched with anticipation. I waited patiently, and was quite happy to see it appear on the shelves of my local game store. Soon it was purchased and in my hot little hands. I read through it in a day and a half, luckily my job at that moment afforded me a plethora of spare time, and was soon tapping out a review. At that point things went a bit sour. My desktop computer began to have issues. At first it would simply delete files, and if you were thinking that the files it deleted centered on this review.. then you were correct. After it deleted my work for a few weeks it started to truly die and before long I had a very large paper weight. A friend then sent me an old laptop, I was delighted and began catching up on the wonders of that exist on the internet. A couple months later I attempted to write, for about the fifth time, my review of Haunted.

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Streets of Bedlam RPG Review

Posted on July 2, 2012 by

Noir is a genre which is often defined by its trappings. Many people see fedoras, trenchcoats and beautiful women and think that’s noir. The characters are what make something noir. Good men driven to evil. Evil women driven to redemption. The situations are what makes something noir. Can a killer find humanity from befriending a little girl? What’s in the briefcase that’s worth dying over? Jason Blair, author of Little Fears, brings these flawed heroes and classic situations together for his newest game, Streets of Bedlam.

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Instant Antagonists: Creepy Cottontail Review

Posted on June 28, 2012 by

The “Instant Antagonist” line is a series of works designed to be used with any role-playing system. As a game-master do you need a nasty crawly thing to harass your party of wayward adventurers? Then this is an excellent source of material to torture them with. Each book offers a short description of history, appearance, manners, and possible origins of a single creature. Not every creature is pure evil, some might simply be around for the impish delight of the game-master.

Monica’s installment, “The Creepy Cottontail” is based around Nyarlathotep, a servant to the Elder Gods and their Messenger.

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11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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