Game Supplements

So it occurred to me some time this week that so far all the reviews I have done are based on core books and box sets. For those non gamers who read from time to time that means I have been focused solely on the main rules for games. In the end this is going to leave a lot of products untouched. By my best guess about 80% or more of the products for games are not main rules. The rest are supplements.

Does this mean I am going to loose my focus and start branching out into other products? Am I going to start reviewing supplements too? Yeah I think I am. However I needed to jump in here first and talk a bit about them before I put any reviews into place and to update how I am going to post reviews. First, lets talk about what the hell a supplement is.

So I see supplements as falling into four different categories, regardless of how many other titles or headers publishers may put on them. Rules Supplements, Campaign Supplements, Adventure Supplements, and periodicals. Now then some of these have other names and I will try to avoid flipping back and forth between them when I chat about them but you may have to read through a couple of times or send me a message just in case I ramble… you know how it goes.

So what is a Rules Supplement (RS)? An RS is something that expands the rules of the game to take something new into account. Whether its a new class for a character to play, rules for how to adventure in deep space or underwater, or maybe something as massive as adding vehicles to a set of rules that never had them before. So an RS expands on what is possible in a game. The fun part is that every gaming group will have to decide if they are going to use them or not. Most of that falls onto the person running the game. But players are encouraged to issue bribes to get those tasty new rules that will let them do all those new strange things. Whining, whimpering and being a snotty little shit about it is not encouraged, nor is holding a game hostage until you get what you want. Bribes though, yeah, go that way.

Campaign Supplement (CS)? Well while an RS adds new options for a game, a CS usually adds new places and people to meet and destroy, or not depending on your campaign. Now then there is another type of supplement that has similar material, but it comes down to a mater of scale really. A CS will give you a city, its history, the major power players, and lots of the skeletons in all sorts of closets. However most of this material is sort of just… there. Some publishers will include an adventure idea or two. By and large though a CS is put out there an the person running the game needs to figure out if it will add something to the campaign. While there may also be new rules specific to the location and people, the new rules are not the focus of the book. HEY! PALLADIUM!! Thanks for being one of the few publishers that somehow manages to blur the line between three of the four supplements all the smegging time. YEAH, you know what I am talkin’ about…

Adventure Supplements (AS) are then? AS’s are usually smaller books, like a comic book in printed pages at magazine size, that have a story, place for the story, and all the NPC’s you could ever need for that story. So when you have an AS in hand you can either run it as is or smack it around until it fits your world and your over all story best. Oh yeah an AS is also called a module by some… so be ready for that. Most of the time I recommend that for someone starting to play RPG’s they buy a few AS and run them as is. And then go back later and see how they would run them in the same world now. Most of the time I get a reply like, “Oh damn yeah I would change this and this and this and add two of these and oh yeah I need to change him to her to match up with my main story…” and so on. The other use for them is if you are in a situation like, “Honey, your friends are here for game night….” and you completely forgot its game night. I challenged myself to take a bunch of older AS from D&D, AD&D (+2nd), and D&D3.0 and build up an adventure that I could translate into Pathfinder. Currently there are 14 AS involved and I have a single story that could run characters from zero level to about 18th. May-hap a little higher. But it is from completely unrelated AS and I have had to re-engineer some of the material to fit another system… heh, I just need to get a game crew together to run it some day.

So then whats a Periodical (P)? Ok, so I just did not want to call it a magazine because so many of them are printed online in PDF form any more. P come out on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, semi annual or annually or something like that). The thing is a P can have new rules, new places, adventures and a host of other little things, even forums and reviews like the ones I publish. Usually however they are dedicated to a single game engine, at least these days they are. There was a time when you could pick up a Dragon Magazine at a book store or magazine rack and find information on five or six different games. Yeah they focused on D&D, but they did not even care if the company was a big publisher. Now days you need to chase some of the smaller press guys down to the forums and chat functions of their own websites if they have them.

Ok ok so that’s a lot of stuff to toss out. What does it mean for me and my on going reviews and such. Well that’s easy. I intend to start doing reviews based on supplements as well as core rules. I will do my best to title reviews in the following formats

  • Review # 568 – Isle of Dread (AS)
  • Review # 90008 – Rigger 2 (RS)
  • Review # 363 – Rune Quest (Core)
  • Review # 7411 – Hidden Lands (CS)
  • Review #44 – Dragon #1 (P)

I am hoping that going in that format folks will be able to see if the review is something they are interested in based on content.

Well my fellow gamers, curiosity seekers and doers of strange ne’er-do-well, I am out for now. Keep the games going and keep being creative, thats what really fuels this industry.

Now gimme the dice… I need to role on the random dinner chart from the latest supplement.

  1. #1 by dantherpgman on May 9, 2016 - 9:26 am

    I like this; good explanations and breakdown of the various types. I like the potential for new areas to review as well.

    And now a challenge: list what you think is the best (no whining about it only being one…! Oh fine, you can list up to 3…) for you’ve seen for each category. Either here or in a new post 🙂


  2. #2 by authortao on May 13, 2016 - 2:43 am

    Awww holy hells what a challenge. Top three in each category…
    Ok I can do it but I am going to have to say that instead of a single issue for each periodical I am going to pick a title. And these are in NO particular order.

    C – Core Rules
    Champions 4th edition
    Paranoia 2nd edition

    RS – Rules Supplement
    Acute Paranoia
    The Ultimate Powers Book (Marvel Super Heroes form TSR)
    Psionics Unleashed (Pathfinder)

    CS – Campaign Supplement
    Strike Force (Champions)
    Mystic China (Ninjas and Superspies – Palladium)

    AS – Adventure Supplement
    Against the Slave Lords (A0 – A4) (AD&D 1st edition reprinted as one book)
    Zodiac Conspiracy (Champions)
    The Universal Brotherhood (Shadow Run)

    P – Periodical
    Dragon Magazine (pre issue 250)
    White Wolf Magazine
    Space Gamer

    To be totally honest there are so many ties in my favorites list this is sort of unfair. Core I really have about five tied for first place alone. RS there are another three for the first place slot. CS there are about four, AS… I really have to many to count, and Periodicals… well really that covers it.


  3. #3 by authortao on May 13, 2016 - 2:44 am

    I know you said best, I replied as if favorite, but in many ways they are the same thing. At least to me… 🙂


    • #4 by dantherpgman on May 13, 2016 - 6:50 am

      Oh no worries, it’s all good.

      Love the list you put together! I can’t say I know with every single thing you listed but I’m at least familiar with most of it and it’s top-notch stuff. Slave Lords, Strike Force, Ultimate Powers, all the core stuff…excellent choices sir!


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