Tag Archive | "Open Design"

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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Flames

Northlands (Pathfinder) Review

Posted on May 18, 2012 by

Alright, my first real RPG book review. Bear with me folks.

Today I’ll be talking about Northlands, the Norse themed sourcebook for the northern realms of the Midgard world. From what I gather Midgard is a homebrew setting writ large. Created with help from a proto-Kickstarter system called Patronage through Kobold Quarterly, fans can chip in to the design process and get special supplements. This is one of the first books to explore outside the Free City of Zobeck that is the heart of the Midgard Campaign Setting.

Overall this was a very well put together book. The maps are good, the art is very nice black and white and the content is engaging and well designed.

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Megan

Kobold Quarterly # 21 Review

Posted on May 7, 2012 by

Hmm… an Editorial on that contentious question: semi-naked female characters. Traditional game fare, perhaps, but provoking comment. Being of the female persuasion but pragmatic rather than sexist, my only complaint is that if I were participating in a fantasy adventure I’d want a decent layer of armour between me and the monsters – and that doesn’t mean hiding behind the nearest paladin! A few bare-chested blokes would be nice, to maintain balance, though.

The first article proper introduces a Shaman character class for Pathfinder. Opening with an evocative narration of a shaman performing a divination (not for the squeamish, she’s using rabbit entrails!), the class is described as very druid-like, recognising the spirit with all components of nature. They are shape-shifters and healers, whilst the most powerful can send their very essence forth from their mortal body on a spirit quest. Spell lists are limited, but unlike most divine casters a Shaman does not have to prepare but can cast any spell he knows, up to his limit, when he chooses. They have a bond with an animal spirit, which takes the form of the animal in question and acts pretty much like a companion.

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Megan

Kobold Quarterly # 20 Review

Posted on January 23, 2012 by

As we have come to expect, a wealth of resources for fantasy games – what with archers (and arrows for them) heading up the character-based resources for players, adventures for GMs to run and ideas to help them hone their skills. The focus is on Pathfinder, but there is material for other rulesets (and much can be translated with little effort, provided you are reasonably familiar with the game mechanics of the system of your choice).

The Editorial introduces the issue focus on archery, with an account of how fictional archers inspired the editor, Wolfgang Baur, not only to play archer characters but to learn how to use a bow himself.

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Billzilla

Red Eye Of Azathoth Review

Posted on November 28, 2011 by

Red Eye of Azathoth, published by Wolfgang Baur and the Open Design LLC, is an unusual adventure for Call of Cthulhu. This campaign pack has the investigators following an evil madman through centuries of effort to summon the Daemon Sultan Azathoth to earth, an event that would cause our planet’s near-total destruction.

In a unique twist, players take on the roles of different characters in each separate scenario – each time battling the same villain, who has possessed a different victim to further his diabolical ends.

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Megan

Divine Favour: The Druid RPG Review

Posted on October 17, 2011 by

The Introduction begins with an overview of the Druid class – a divine spellcaster drawing on the limitless power of the natural world, and with Wisdom as his primary ability. Special abilities include Wildshape, the ability to change form; whilst druids need to concentrate on the things they are good at with their spells – controlling the natural environment, participating in combat and acting in concert with their animal companion. This page is illustrated with a delightful sketch of a Welsh Archdruid from the 18th century, a time when romantics tried to recreate ancient practices, something that led to the establishment of the Gorsedd and the Eisteddfod, something completely different from Druidism as practiced within a fantasy game!

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Megan

The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design Review

Posted on September 14, 2011 by

In his Foreword, lead author Mike Selinker tells a tale about a rather hot Thai curry, and thus gives an insight into how his mind works. You may or may not like your curry hot, but reading this book will give you an insight into how a whole bunch of successful game designers go about designing games that people will buy and play. If you want to turn inchoate ideas into workable – and saleable – board games, or just want to know a bit more about how your favourite games came to be, and about the underlying concepts that make good games, read on.

The book is made up of four sections, and a mastery of ALL of them is necessary to create a successful game.

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Megan

Book of Drakes RPG Review

Posted on July 5, 2011 by

Nothing quite as sweet as a miniature dragon, perhaps of a suitable size to hold in your arms like a pet… but drakes are not pets, but sentient beings in their own right, fascinating creatures to have around in your game. (I had to add ‘in your game’ lest I start to conjure fantasies of one coming in my back door…).

The Introduction talks about, despite – because of? – their iconic nature, how difficult it can be to actually have a DRAGON wandering around in your game. They’re big, they’re tough, and they tend to amass game-unbalancing amounts of treasure. Moreover, they’re supposed to be the creatures of myth and legend, not someone you meet down the pub for an ale and a few hints about the next adventure.

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Megan

Northlands (Pathfinder) Review

Posted on May 9, 2011 by

Jumping right in, the first chapter – Riddles of Steel: Roleplaying in the Frozen North – explains what’s so special, what’s so different about games set in harsh northern areas inspired by Norseland sagas and Viking lore. The familiar cod-mediaeval or renaissance fantasy civilisations of the majority of games is replaced with a bloodier and darker mindset, never mind that the place tends to be darn cold as well! Vicious monsters abound, and those which walk on two legs live life to the full in conditions that others may see as primitive, certainly more self-sufficient than their neighbours to the south.

But it’s not just a lack of urban luxury, guards to protect you from thieves and villains, and lower temperatures: the whole mind-set is different, and to get the most out of such a setting both GM and players – particularly those whose characters are native to it – will need to start thinking in a different way.

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Megan

Advanced Feats: The Inquisitor’s Edge (Pathfinder) Review

Posted on April 26, 2011 by

This work starts with an overview of the inquisitor, quite a talented chap with plenty of options. Pity the first paragraph repeats itself, perhaps we should send an inquisitor after the proof-reader!

So who is this inquisitor anyway? A potent mix of religious devotee, spy, investigator and hunter (of people rather than dinner): a bit self-serving in the way his powers generally serve to enhance himself rather than the group he is in, but at least he can claim it’s all to the glory of whatever deity he reveres! The special ability of ‘Judgement’ is both powerful and versatile, depending on what judgement is pronounced, and this is coupled with a reasonable number of skills and the ability to cast divine spells.

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Flames

Northlands Sourcebook Now Available for Pathfinder RPG

Posted on April 19, 2011 by

Northlands is a Pathfinder-compatible sourcebook for adventuring in the frozen north. Learn Rune magic, explore the Reaver’s Coast and Hyperborea, and wield the sword of Loki himself.

Designer Dan Voyce has opened up new and dazzling vistas for role-playing in the frozen north. The book begins with a concise but detailed overview of northern life, society, morality, religion, traditions and law. The major gods and their demands on mortals are described, as well as dueling, hospitality, outlawry, slavery, and relations between the various humanoid races.

More than description, Northlands is about ACTION! Characters can raid the coasts; explore the magic-rich realm of the giants; enter savage kingdoms ruled by bears and wolves; or journey to the top of the world itself to retrieve the shoggoth-guarded flotsam and jetsam of alien shores.

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Flames

Open Design’s 5th Anniversary Sale

Posted on March 19, 2011 by

Sunday, March 20 marks the fifth anniversary of Open Design, a game company run under the patronage business model where gamers themselves can be a part of the design process. Here’s the blog post that started at all.

To celebrate 5 years, Open Design is running a sale at the KQ Store from Friday, March 18 through Thursday Mar 24. Our Kobold-in-Chief Wolfgang Baur says, “This sale is my way of thanking all of you for your support over the past five years. By definition, Open Design could only succeed with your participation. So to all the patrons who helped create our sourcebooks and adventures, and the folks who bought the finished products…thank you very, very much for this wonderful five-year ride. I look forward to continuing on with you to our glorious 10-year mark.”

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Megan

Visions of the Oracle (Pathfinder) Review

Posted on March 4, 2011 by

What is more mysterious than an Oracle? It is the turn of the Oracle character class to come under the microscope: no mere list of feats but a detailed look at the potentials and options available to players who fancy being an Oracle.

We begin with an overview of the class as a whole, discussing the salient points of an Oracle. It’s an interesting class, a spontaneous caster but divine rather than arcane (the answer to those of us who mutter that surely our deities would never let us choose the wrong spells for the day…), with many opportunities for the role-player as they tend to be good socially as well as with that air of mystery! Speaking of mysteries, your choice here sets the flavor of the whole character, affecting him in terms of game mechanics as well as laying the seeds for role-playing and characterization. As they are so important, there’s a thumb-nail sketch of each one, to aid your choice based on just what kind of oracle you would like to play. Oracles are well set up for defense, if offensive capability is desired crafty choices of mystery (Battle is good, or an elemental one) can prove an advantage. Oracles will tend to specialize in something, but that thing they can generally do very well indeed.

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Megan

Kobold Quarterly 16 Review

Posted on February 11, 2011 by

The Editorial opens with the promise of a great treat: Wolfgang Baur’s own home campaign is to be written up for publication! Apparently Kobeck is part of it, but the rest of the setting is now to be subject to the Open Design process and brought into the light of day. Wolfgang’s words show his excitement… now I’m looking forward to it as well.

And so to the first article, Ecology of the Gearforged. They started off as an act of desperation, Kobeck’s craftsmen and wizards collaborating to create something, anything to stave off the House Stross forces during the rebellion that saw Kobeck free – but they have matured to more than mere war machines.

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Megan

Secrets of the Alchemist RPG Review

Posted on November 23, 2010 by

The alchemist has been knocking around the fringes of fantasy games for ages, generally – if codified at all – as an NPC that your characters can go to for a range of useful items to take on their adventures, with alchemy itself as a sideline skill practiced in your ‘Craft’ spot. Now Paizo’s Advanced Player’s Guide has brought him out of the workshop to become a playable character in his own right, with skills useful down the dungeon or out on the road, and this product seeks to expand on this and make him an even more attractive option.

The alchemist PC has several notable skills, which are mentioned in the Introduction – he can throw bombs, make and use extracts, brew potions and use poison. However, to hone such a character, he needs appropriate feats and here a grand total of 30 are presented for the budding alchemist to choose from.

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Megan

Sunken Empires RPG Review

Posted on August 31, 2010 by

The work opens with a foreword by David ‘Zeb’ Cook in which he muses on the durability of his invention, the aboleth – a monster with an almost-thirty year history and which features large in this book. A fascinating muse on how the aboleth came to be later, Chapter 1: Lost Cities of Myth and Legend explores the inspirations for this setting. Legends of fantastic civilizations lost to the deeps provide plenty of ideas, after all, as well as a compelling lure for characters looking for somewhere to explore. For that’s the intent of this setting: exploration, rather than somewhere to actually live as a denizen of the deeps.

The legendary civilizations of Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu are detailed, along with thought-provoking ideas on how to use them as inspiration for your own sunken empire, before the text launches into the design of a new lost city called Ankeshel for your characters to research and explore. Ankeshel draws on both real-world myths and the Pathfinder setting, with some Theosophist theories mixed in for good measure, including the concept of vril. The original human inhabitants were taught magic and mathematics by a strange tentacled, 3-eyed amphibious race. Needless to say, it all ended in tears and the city was lost… until recent discoveries began to bring tantalizing glimpses of what once was back into general knowledge.

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Billzilla

Imperial Gazetteer RPG Review

Posted on March 5, 2010 by

A number of entities have carved a successful niche for themselves creating support products for D&D. One of these, Open Design LLC, operates under an interesting model; direct patronage. They produce material, in part or in full, based on what their sponsors wish to see and are willing to finance. One of their more recent products, the Imperial Gazetteer, describes the region containing the Principality of Morgau and Doresh. This realm was once like any other, but is currently controlled by vampires and ghouls. As one might expect, most of the adversaries presented within are of considerable power; this region is not one on which 1st level characters could expect cut their teeth, by any means.

The book begins with a brief introduction to the subject material by co-author Wolfgang Baur. The first chapter details the history of the principality, giving a brief overview of less recent events while covering more current history a bit more closely.

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