Archive | RPGs

Wraith: The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition Review

Posted on September 18, 2018 by

Once upon a time, many years ago in the closing months of the 20th Century, one of my best friends said to me “We’re going to do something new. Something different. We’re going to play Wraith.” being in a group of players that was consistently made up of myself, the significant other of my best friend, and my best friend-as-Storyteller, I was immediately intimidated. I had no idea how to play Wraith, and – truth be told – had no idea how the rules worked or how the setting would be laid out, etc.

Let’s be clear here; Vampire is easy. You’re a vampire and you live in a city and you blah blah blah all night long until the sun comes up. And let’s also be clear that with Werewolf, you’re a werewolf and you live in the near-city or wilderness – or, as I’ve proven in MY OWN games of Werewolf that I’ve run – in the city proper and you blah blah blah all day and night long until your phase of the moon hits and you’re rocking at full-tilt Gnosis and Rage…

But Wraith was different.

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Handbook for the Recently Deceased Review

Posted on September 10, 2018 by

Wraith: the Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition is one of the best core books for the World of Darkness bar none.  To say that it brought Wraith into the 21st Century in style would be a gross understatement, and for Onyx Path Publishing, the book is a triumph of literary accomplishment as well as updating the game and streamlining it while keeping the parts of it that absolutely needed to be held close.

Handbook for the Recently Deceased, however, affords both the player and the storyteller a succinct, capsulized glimpse at Wraith: the Oblivion that keeps the would-be storyteller who is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to throw his or her players across the Shroud from cutting deep into their printer’s ink reserves and spitting out chapters to serve as the building blocks for what they can expect from the game.

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Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition Review

Posted on September 5, 2018 by

What is reality?  I mean, think about it for a minute.  Since the dawn of human sentience, we’ve been thinking about things like “Am I just a bit-part player in someone else’s dream?” or “Is everything around me real because I want it to be?”

Is reality real?  Or is it what someone else wants it to be?

That sentence sets the groundwork for about 95% of the conflict in Mage: the Ascension.  There are warring factions in the world around you.

Some would answer that question with “Absolutely.  Reality is something that must be maintained and is what it is because it is the best possible environment for humanity to exist within.”

Some would answer that “Reality is what we need it to be.  When we need to elicit change, it is one thing.  When we need stasis, it is something else.  But have no illusions, WE are the masters of what reality is and is not.  You need only the will to change things to make them change, and the knowledge of the Spheres to make it happen.”

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Vampire’s Lore of the Clans Review

Posted on August 31, 2018 by

Lore of the Clans is a sourcebook supporting Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition and is written by Alexander, Kevin Czarnecki, Joshua Doetsch, Matt M McElroy, Andrew Peregrine, Ree Soesbee, Rob Wieland, and Christopher Wilde.  Released in 2015, the book collects together information that covers the Clans of the Camarilla, the Clans of the Sabbat, the Independent Clans, the Caitiff (whom we old farts used to refer to as the “Clanless”) and their respective Antitribu, which is a vampire who is and acts as the antithesis (and, in some cases, anathema as well) to the Clan that they were originally “Embraced” into.

Us “old farts” also remember a time when we had to wait for Clanbooks to be released on a schedule.  The die-hard Vampire: the Masquerade guys and gals would clench up so hard that they were able to make diamonds within the proximal recesses of their buttocks while they waited for Clanbook: This or Clanbook: That to be released.  This book brings them all together between two covers, which is a bit of a revolution for the game.

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Steven Dawes

Trail of Cthulhu Eternal Lies Review

Posted on April 25, 2014 by

Every so often I get something to review that I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. Getting a copy of Eternal Lies campaign book for the Trail of Cthuhlu RPG (from Pelgrane Press) to review was one of those times. I’ve played Trail of Cthulhu once or twice at gaming cons, I’m familiar with several Cthulhu based games, and I love adventure/campaign sourcebooks in general so I thought this would be a quick and easy review. However, I was simply shocked when I opened up the PDF file for the first time to discover that Eternal Lies has a four hundred page count!

How could this be? As I understood it, Eternal Lies is a sourcebook for only one complete campaign. I’ve seen campaign books half this size with several adventures in it, but nothing this large before. How can this book be 400 pages? And all 400 pages for one campaign? The audacity! The immensity! The madness! The size, and there for the incredible scope that this adventure must be was suddenly daunting.

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Gygax Magazine #1 Review

Posted on April 23, 2014 by

From the moment I opened up the PDF on my laptop I knew Gygax, a quarterly adventure roleplaying aid, was going to tap into everything that has made gaming great since the beginning. The cover was “classic” in every way and it reminded me of the many old Dragon magazines I have flipped through over the years. I immediately felt comfortable like I was meeting up with an old friend, one I had not seen in quite some time and someone I was very fond of. The cover art titled “Still Unlucky” by Daniel Horne depicts two poor adventurers being snuck up on by a nasty looking ettin and it made me laugh.

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Flames

Monsterhearts RPG Review

Posted on February 9, 2014 by

Monsterhearts should come with two warning stickers. The first is “Warning: This is a game for mature gamers and deals with adult themes.” It doesn’t have this because that sort of warning fits the Book of Erotic Fantasy rather than a genuinely mature take on the subject matter. It has lead to some of the most intense and immersive experiences I’ve ever had roleplaying, but I refuse to play it with my main tabletop roleplaying group.

The second is “Warning: This game can go into uncomfortable territory. Discuss expectations and respect boundaries.” It doesn’t have this, and Monsterhearts is the only game I’ve played that’s imploded when it has become clear that one player doesn’t know the meaning of the word “consent”. Better there than in real life.

So what is Monsterhearts? Monsterhearts is based on the Apocalypse World rules and claims to be about “The messy lives of teenage monsters”.

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Billzilla

Reap The Whirlwind (Vampire: the Requiem) Review

Posted on June 19, 2013 by

I first got hooked into the World of Darkness about three years ago; I became intrigued by the Vampire: The Requiem setting thanks to a particularly good game I was in at the time, and my passion for the world hasn’t diminished since then. In support of Free RPG Day (June 15 this year) Onyx Path released a sharp-looking product called Reap the Whirlwind, a complete quick-start introducing new players to the vampire branch of the World of Darkness.

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Megan

Gothic Grimoires: The Necrotic Verses Review

Posted on December 18, 2012 by

Packed into but four pages (the other four being filled with a fancy cover, the credits and an introduction explaining what it’s all about, and a page of adverts for other Legendary Games product) here is a wealth of material designed to support and enhance one of Paizo’s Adventure Paths. As explained in the introduction, they have chosen not to mention just which Adventure Path (so as to avoid even suspicion of using Paizo’s intellectual property) but as I am GMing the one in question at the moment, it’s not too hard to guess. (‘Carrion Crown’ if you really want to know!)

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Megan

The Zalozhniy Quartet RPG Review

Posted on December 10, 2012 by

The Zalozhniy Quartet provides resources necessary to running a complete campaign utilising the Night’s Black Agents concept and ruleset to the full. It’s not, however, something you can flip through and then run, like the game itself it requires thorough preparation and planning by the Director (GM) in advance, but will repay that effort by inspiring an epic and memorable experience for all involved.

Involving the core concept of the game – a vampire-led conspiracy across post-Cold War Europe – the book presents a detailed Conspyramid (the mechanic used to map the conspiracy player-character agents are combating) that spreads its tentacles from central Europe clear across to Baghdad. Resources provided include allies as well as enemies, locations in several cities, complete city details, maps and an almost bewildering array of events that you can throw at your characters… even some pre-generated ones, of particular use should someone fall by the wayside as the adventures proceed.

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Megan

Night`s Black Agents (Gumshoe) Review

Posted on November 16, 2012 by

The Introduction lays out the basic premise. This is not just any spy game. It has a very specific slant, taking the view that in the aftermath of the Cold War a lot of people who’d been earning their keep on the back of the efforts of East and West to monitor (and interfere with) each other now found themselves at a loose end, and had to put their somewhat dubious skills to profitable use in a freelance market – mercenary spies for hire, if you will. Frequent reference is made to movies and TV shows that present the appropriate feel, and if you enjoy them, it’s likely that this game will work for you, at least at the ‘spy’ level. As has been done with other GUMSHOE games, there are various ‘modes’ in which you can run your game and each is denoted by a small symbol – these are used to denote optional rules appropriate to your chosen mode, and other snippets of information useful to that style of game. This allows you to fine-tune the mood of your game so that it becomes precisely what you are after.

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The Book of Nod Review

Posted on November 9, 2012 by

I cannot tell you the naked fear I feel, putting down these words for once and for all. Perhaps I will regret them. Perhaps they will never see print. Yet, it is my nature to report this. It is, as they say, in the blood.

Thus wrote Aristotle de Laurent, Noddist scholar and vampire, in the preface of the Book of Nod. This book was special because it was published by White Wolf Publishing, Inc. in 1995 to be used as setting material for the Masquerade Mind’s Eye Theatre game as well as Vampire the Masquerade chronicles. Bound in black leather the book was the perfect prop for storytellers to hand over to their intrepid players. The stories began to write themselves.

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Night’s Black Agents RPG Review

Posted on November 5, 2012 by

Protagonists cut off from the real world. Men and women forced into violence to survive. Agents of powers that skulk in shadow. Are they spies or vampires? Both types of characters share a startling amount of similarities. The two genres seem tailor made for each other. Ken Hite brings them together in his newest RPG, Night’s Black Agents. But be aware, it’s not vampire spies. It’s spies vs. vampires.While playing vampires in RPGs has been extremely popular over the past 20 years or so, this one is about putting stakes in hearts and walking away while the bloodsucker burns in the sun.

The PDF is full color and laid out in a very modern style. The game includes several sidebar callouts explaining why certain rules work certain ways as well as giving examples of what happened during playtesting.

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Megan

Road of the Dead (Pathfinder) RPG Review

Posted on October 26, 2012 by

This adventure is located in Raging Swan’s Lonely Coast campaign setting but, as it deals with remnants of a far-distant past just about everybody has forgotten about, it can be placed in a suitable location in your own campaign world with minimal effort. Before getting into the adventure, however, there is a very clear explanation of how encounters are set out showing you exactly where to find each item of information you might need whilst running it. A lot of people lay encounters out clearly, but actually explaining your methods in advance is a nice touch. Traps and monster stat blocks are similarly laid out in detail, and this is followed by an overview of the Lonely Coast, to enable you to establish the adventure’s location easily, complete with a good map.

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Conspiracy X 2.0 RPG Review

Posted on October 19, 2012 by

The 90’s were a dark time in fiction. Conspiracies abounded everywhere. The end of the world was near. Genre television was abuzz with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files and dozens of shows of a similar nature. RPGs went through their own dark period as well thanks to the World of Darkness. Many games set their PCs as regular people who stumble into a world where the supernatural was real and tabloid headlines were prophets. But only one put the unmarked helicopters in their control. Conspiracy X offered a world where aliens have sinister plans for humanity. The most recent edition recently held a Kickstarter to continue the line.

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Megan

Curse of the Sickled Hand (Pathfinder RPG) Review

Posted on October 10, 2012 by


Do not be deluded by terms like ‘basic’ and ‘introductory’… this adventure promises full-bore excitement, well-resourced and smooth to run, no matter whether players or GM are novices or experienced. It takes place in a wilderness area near to a rural village called Gafolweed, which can be placed anywhere suitable in your campaign world; those who have played the adventure Fangs from the Past may recognise some NPCs and locations, but it is not necessary to have done so to get full enjoyment from this scenario.

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Primeval RPG Review

Posted on October 9, 2012 by

Primeval is a new licensed setting from Cubicle 7 Entertainment that uses the same engine as their Doctor Who line of games. For those unclear about the television show, it centers around a group of people who investigate anomalies, which are rips that permit treacherous travel between points in time. The primary focus for the setting are anomalies that stretch back to prehistoric times, as they are the most common. The rips actually can go to anywhen though, opening up quite a bit of sandbox for a game, which is really what this review is about.

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Blood Sorcery Review

Posted on September 27, 2012 by

Blood Sorcery lures us back to the beginning of Vampire the Requiem and takes a long look at one of the most interesting aspects of the game. While blood sorcery has always been “good” it was probably not as well developed as it could have been in hindsight. The Storytelling system has matured and now Requiem is benefiting from years of experience with a revamp of blood sorcery, an alternative approach to the system and a plethora of interesting additions to your chronicles. Coming in at just under 70 pages of content this is one of the best new books available to fans of Vampire the Requiem.

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Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep Review

Posted on September 20, 2012 by

Every gamer loves game night. We all gather around the game table with snacks and our beverage of choice ready to roll some dice and tell a story together. There is something magical about the tale that unfolds from a collaborative storytelling experience (also known as playing a roleplaying game) and the game master is the lynch pin to that process. It seems so effortless on the player’s side of the game screen but good game preparations are necessary to create that effect at the game table.

Game prep is not an intuitive process for most of us and there are very few resources out there for game masters wishing to learn it. Fortunately Phil Vecchione has come to our rescue with Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep his newest book published by Engine Publishing.

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Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places Review

Posted on September 17, 2012 by

Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places: Creatures, NPCs, Items, Places and Adventure Hooks for any fantasy system is not only an impressively long title it is also the creation of writer Benjamin Gerber, egg-lobbing world traveler, lover of zombies and game writer. Throw in some bits about IT, sock puppets and cats on fire and you have a writer’s bio that makes me grin from ear to ear.

EPP (for short) is a system independent sourcebook of inspirational material for game masters running fantasy roleplaying games.

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