Archive for category G
Hey there readers
So some of you may know that my usual goal when I am writing things is not to set up traffic to a game publisher but to inform and hopefully entertain.
I have been thinking though about all the things I have written about and could write about and have decided that I need to add a couple more pages to my blog.
The first is a page that will have roleplaying games that I enjoy, their publishers web page, if the game is currently in print as of 9/8/19 and if you can get PDF copies of the books for that game online, legally, as in not through a file share site. This page is in place now here.
The second page that I will be adding is going to be about online services. Sales points, die rollers, character sheets, maps and so on. I am still trying to figure out how to grid the information and be able to give a brief description without falling into my usual verbose nature. For this one I am also reaching out to say “HAY! You got anything like this you want to offer up?!” Rules here are that the site cannot be offering up PDF copies of books in a manner that is not endorsed by the publisher. Which means a ton of file sharing sites are off the list, and some that offer up things so out of print no one is even sure if there ever was a publisher… yeah cant do that either.
As to why I am doing this… well I have thought about it for a long time. And my main goal with this blog is to inform and entertain. And I keep telling readers to get out there an make up their own mind. And I know it is not that hard to get out there and find stuff all the time, but I figure if I can make things a little easier for seekers, then why not do it.
Anyway when I have a good set of materials in a readable format I will be putting out the construction sign again and the new page will be added.
For now though gimme the dice, I need to roll a one D everything to see how many games I missed putting up in the page here…
Have fun, game hard, and think for yourselves 🙂
Welcome to another round of Tales from the Game Table
Todays episode is brought to you by a madman and the world of Dark Sun.
The madman was playing a Half Giant (and I hate Wikipedia for this because Goliaths are not Half Giants but they tie them together anyway in the Dark Sun article) whos character class was Gladiator. So some may recall I did a review on the original Dark Sun setting for AD&D. Some may remember the comment of “Lets go back to Ravenloft where its safe.” Well the madman in question had a hand in getting that phrase uttered.
Short series of fights had left the characters low on weapons. Just reaching for anything they could to continue the fight.
Half Giant picks up a fallen elven foe. Please note that I said fallen, not dead…
“How much damage would I do if I hit someone with the elf?”
Ummmmmmm *runs quick calculations in head* “About 1d10 to both your foe and the elf.”
“Ok so since a Gladiator is proficient in every weapon, and paired weapons, what would happen if I used two?”
“Well there are five of them here, tie em up a bit stuff em into a sack and when they break use another one.”
“So you are telling me you want to used paired elves to keep fighting?”
“Cheaper than trying to buy weapons when on the run.”
So if you have not read the links, Half giants are 10-12 feet tall, and weigh up to half a ton. And in the 2nd edition of AD&D a 20 strength was in the giant and demigod range… so lifting a couple of 100 pound six foot tall elves was not really out of the question.
“Ok but you will have to deal with the rep you get with the elves. And I am going to give you a penalty until you put a proficiency in Elf for weapons since they are not normally a weapon.”
“Lets do this!”
There is a level of creativity and depravity in that moment that had me thinking that we were in a very wrong place. And it was just a little later that someone uttered the “Lets go back to Ravenloft where its safe.” statement.
After that he came up with other ideas like since halflings in Dark Sun are mostly feral cannibals (Yeah suck on that Frodo, I mean… ummm… hmmm that sounds worse when I read it now but I think the humor factor will let it survive.) that he could tie two of them together at the feet and that they could bit and claw at enemies as he used them as Halfing Nunchucks. (Half chucks, nunlings, half nuns?) Surprisingly enough the only player in the group playing a halfling likes the idea (food on the fly) and offers to try and convince other halflings to sign up for the job.
This happened quite some time ago, but it is one of those moments that forever left me with the feeling that i should never underestimate the creativity, depravity, or stupidity of players. (BTW I was playing a Thri-Kreen Ranger since no one would let me play a monk, and since the Thri Kreen hunt and eat elves, as a character I was very supportive of the paired elf useage. Even offered to help with some of the tying up. Regardless of what I was feeling as a player. Ahhhhh the heck with it even as a player I thought it was kind of a cool idea.)
Ok so everyone needs to stew on that for a while…
Gimme the dice, I need to know what sort of strength it would take to wield paired half giants…
Play safe, have fun and remember that party members are not to be used as weapons without their consent. NPCs are up for grabs.
Game Review #47 – Through the Breach (Fated and Fate Masters Almanacs – aka Malifaux RPG) (Warning – Potentially disturbing art in review)
Ok so I am starting this with a bit of a warning because the art I am including, even just from the book covers may seem a little creepy, startling or disturbing to some. I think personally it is still mild but since this blog gets posted to FB and I have family that might read it I wanted to make sure that its known right off the bat.
Ok so with that warning out of the way, lets take a look at Through the Breach.
This RPG was actually created to support, sort of, the table top strategy game called Malifaux. The setting was created by Wyrd aka Wyrd Games as a story driven miniature strategy game setting. The setting itself is sort of a horror, steampunk, dystopian, Shadowrun setting. There is an extensive history that ties Earth to another world and from the other world magic comes into Earth. Seeing as how this happens in the 1700 – 1800 time range you can guess as to where the steampunk elements come from. In the alternate world there is an apparently abandoned city. The city and the world basically get the same name from the earthers and from that point on things get weirder.
Through the story arcs in the miniatures game horror is established as humans quickly determine they are not alone. And the things in this world hate… welllll, everything. But that does not mean that there is not a bit of a sense of humor to it as well…
… as is evident by the monster being named Lord Chompy Bitts…
So while the miniatures game uses the same world, and the characters from the miniatures game can show up in the RPG, the players in the RPG have a lot more freedom to adventure how the want and not be as limited by faction or alliance as the miniatures game is.
The scope of the world of Malifaux is really interesting, as, well, its not all published. There is no telling where everything is out there in the world. It may be huge or it may end completely just past the edge of the known. So for everything they have published so far, we as players and consumers may have barely touched the surface of the world.
The scope of the city of Malifaux is a little more controlled… but only a little.
I mean if you look at that map you can see two huge areas called Quarantine Zone. Both of those areas offer elements that are unexplored, dangerous, and frequently just weird.
The content of the setting is an eclectic mix of cultures, myths, and almost a stereotypical wild west kind of feeling. It has firearms and steampunk cybernetics, mixed with magic and sword fighting. living mythic monsters and strange horrors that Lovecraft would sit back and smile at.
So I think you are getting the picture here. The setting is well detailed, the art backing it up is beautiful and the stories are awesome.
Now then comes the challenge. I dislike the game mechanic almost as much as I hate GURPS.
First and foremost I dont like using cards as the main mechanic. And mixing cards and other mechanics together… unh… no… just no. They have also described the world in such a way that it is a challenge to even mod the game setting to other core rules without loosing something. That makes it a bit frustrating to mod unless you are using a game engine that is totally open ended.
Strangely in spite of that challenge, I still find the setting all kinds of fun, I think the Malifaux minis are beautiful, and so I can let a few things go by.
My wife is setting up a game for us right now (board game) so I am cutting this review short. I mean most of the rest would be me soap boxing or blathering on.
Overall Fluff 5/5 – It is freaking beautiful. Background stories, art, NPC opinions and so many of them fleshed out well. Yeah this is worth a 5/5.
Overall Crunch 2/5 – Ungh, the rules. It is playable dont get me wrong. But they took nearly every thing a game can do that I dont like and rolled it up into a single playing engine. There are a lot of ways to spoof the rules and moving the setting to another engine that can work better than plying it as is.
Overall Mod 3/5 – Not easy to mod. The intricate way things have been put together makes it harder to tinker unless you just keep the story and then add new rules into play.
Overall Fun 4/5 – The setting is weird. Horror, steampunk, and so much more. The fact that is it outside our current reality by just a couple of steps. It is unusual, it is interesting, and it feels very much alive to play in… if only the rules.
Total Score 14/20 – Ok so here is what we are looking at overall. The setting rocks the rules will be a matter of taste. Its a lot of fun but the rules can get in the way. It is worth a look at the very least.
Ok so that is it for now. I hope everyone out there is having a good day and is not working too hard if you are working.
Now gimme the dice. I need to see how many soul stones can fit inside of one editors in box.
Welcome readers, running a little early this week so as to have a bit more weekend fun tomorrow.
So early on in my game playing days I started experimenting with the concept of playing a live table. For those who dont know what that means it is when everything that is said at the game table is said or done by the characters in the game. Players talking to each other is assumed to be in character. Statements of action are what a character is doing. It is not an easy thing to get used to, and usually it is easier to get it going in a serious game than a comedic one.
So in one of my very first attempts to play a live table, young me and young other players… and well… we happened to be playing a little game called Paranoia.
Things had been going ok… not great but ok… for the players…
But then that is the nature of Paranoia.
I had been using live table off and on in the game, trying to get the players to act things out a bit more, role play a bit more. And we had some really good moments. Then we get to a point where the players had lost most of their gear, but caught the enemy and were about to bring them in for questioning, when they suddenly realized they had no rope… and we had a moment that went like…
“Ok so how are you going to secure your prisoners?”
“I don’t know… we don’t have any rope…”
“Could we tear up our clothes?”
“Roll against your Moxie.”
****rolling sound of 2d10****
“Ok with a roll like that you realize that ripping up your uniforms would be very creative but it is also willfully destroying property of the Computer, and that is treason.”
“Shit… ok… ummm… ok…so… so I…”
****sounds of dice rolling****
“Looks like they are about to wake up… what do you do?”
“Ok… so I take of my belt and… awww #@%&-it.”
“You have no lotion so it hurts, make an endurance roll…”
Young male jokes about sex ensue.
I quietly rolled a couple of dice and realized that the prisoners had been so sheltered that what they saw as they were waking up scared them… I mean if he was willing to do that to a belt there was no telling what he might do to them…
We didn’t get much further that session. But in the end everyone was either having fun or young enough to be totally confused about the whole thing but too nervous to say anything. Young male players in the early 80’s.
So yeah… that happened… and things like it happened again and again…Not the worst thing really 🙂
Ok so that’s a short post this week. I hope that everyone is having a great weekend.
Now gimme the dice. I need to see just how many troubleshooters could shoot trouble if trouble didn’t shoot back.
Hello Readers and welcome to another game review. Now then using my standards some might wonder why I am designating this as a Supplement instead of a Module. I will get into that in a little bit.
SO while the wiki page for UnderMountain is a little underwhelming it does have a few links to other TSR related information that can help you get a little more info about the author and how this ties into the Forgotten Realms setting, especially the city of Skull Port.
From my personal perspective UnderMountain was the first true mega dungeon. Sure the box set only had three levels. But those three levels were mapped out on four poster maps. The guide book only had information on about 25% of the rooms that were shown on the maps. And there were rules and suggestions for how to add, well, anything you wanted into the unwritten areas to specifically enhance any campaign you were running.
This thing is freaking huge… I mean just look…
…and if that wasn’t enough (and for some it was never close to enough) TSR also came up with additional materials to support UnderMountain later… Ruins of UnderMountain II : The Deep Levels (not as good but it really kept up the theme), Dungeon Crawl UnderMountain the lost level (this was actually pretty good if you tied it into other things, on its own… meh) And of course there have been reprintings, updates to later editions of D&D and knock offs by the score that have tried to out do UnderMountain like AEG’s Worlds Largest Dungeon.
The funny thing is that most of the other mega dungeons that are out there exist only to be adventured in. They dont have any real connection to their environment or world. That means you can drop them any place you like and play the crud out of them. However UnderMountain was tied to the Forgotten Realms in some rather interesting ways. Its primary entrance was in a specific city. It had interesting new magic items and spells that were tied into either the Forgotten Realms as a whole, Skull Port the city it resided under, or some of the background characters that TSR authors and creators had been using for a while. Now then this is not to say that you cannot take UnderMountain and just drop it anywhere you want. You can. You just have to ignore or modify the background and characters a bit so the story elements fit, that is if you want to use them. Considering that the publication only has about 25% of the rooms filled at best, it is really easy to mod it out to whatever setting or location you want to use. My personal favorite of all time is putting UnderMountain under the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Giving me a huge and detailed city with a massive underground complex underneath.
One of the things that comes in the box set that I think is very under valued are the DM assistant cards. Not their real names I know. But these handy little cards have information on treasures, traps, and some of the odd magics that are in the dungeon. TSR put similar cards into other products but most of the time they made them 8 1/2 x 11 page sized, and these cards are just a little over the 3×5 note card size. Much easier to use and keep out of the line of sight of your players.
And of course if I am going to be totally honest… without the maps this thing would not be worth it to me. I am all for added information, new monsters and toys, but… mmmmmmmmmmm maps. These things are very detailed, well presented and… sigh… beautiful. One of the reasons I do not like the follow up products as much is because the maps seem more like a cheap imitation and not trying to keep the feel and build on what they already created.
Ok so I have ranted and rambled a bit, how do I call the numbers…
Overall Fluff 3/5 – There is good background material, and some interesting story. However this product is one of the weaker ones that TSR put out in regards to art. And while a part of me wants to call the maps art, I am actually putting them under Crunch.
Overall Crunch 5/5 – The new spells and monsters really do well in AD&D as a whole. The new trap rules and details also build things out in ways that enhance the setting, and the game. MAPS!!!!!!!!! I would almost like to give them a separate score but that would really skew the review.
Overall Mod 5/5 – It is old school AD&D, so you can mod the crud out of it. And I have. And you need to. The fact that you need to in many ways almost made me give this a 4/5 instead of the 5/5 score. Almost. The fact that you know from the ground up that you will need to mod it, and they make no bones about it, saves it from the lower score.
Overall Fun 5/5 – MAPS!!!!!! no not just the maps… heh. Overall this is one of those rare gaming products that encourages you to think. To add the flavor to make it your own, while giving you a solid framework that you can run with to your hearts content even if you never tweak a thing. It is a ton of fun and I cannot be positive enough about it.
Total Score 18/20 – Yeah I think this is a great supplement for gaming. I think it is worth the collectors price if you can find it in the physical world, and I think it is not bad at all if you can get it in a digital format and come up with some way to scale up the maps so you can use them effectively. While this is not something that will change your life it really can change your game.
Ok so thats it for this week. Stay tuned because next week will have another blog entry and I have no idea what I am going to do with it.
Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many random dungeon levels I can roll up before I need to actually use them for something.
Ages and ages ago it seems I was playing in a regular Call of Cthulhu game group. We all came up with some very interesting characters. My character was a soldier who had been a sniper in Word War 1. I even worked out a history for him that had him in places that could have suggested that he might have been responsible for things like a specific shot at a specific Arch Duke. He was one of those characters that was not really socially comfortable and only really felt at home in a conflict.
He was brought into the campaign by a newspaper add that was looking for someone who could handle challenging work with combat experience. His interview for the job was an interesting bit that ended up with him and his interviewer in a private shooting range. If my character could back up his talk about how good he could shoot the job was his. So at range he looks at the constructed target. A few silver dollars can be easily seen. Focusing a bit he could also see nickles that were a little covered up. But my character was a pro and had a knack for spotting weak points. Critical success on the spot roll and he has the spot noted that would bring down the who target structure. Now then in Call you need to roll low on percentiles. So I line up the shot. 03 on the roll. DM says he needs a back up roll if I really do want to destroy the structure. 01. Needless to say he got the job and was made part of the team. DM kept a close eye on my rolls from then on because that was just too good to be true. But no… I didnt fake it. In fact my luck with that character tanked for several months. Nothing I could not get out of in the end, but… yeah…
So a few months after that incident the group of investigators is in with a band of primitives in a region that was… not quite Earth. Anyway our investigators had teamed up with a tribe. My character had been going over defensive measures with them and helping them fortify. Things had been getting hostile and so we were expecting an invasion from at least one other tribe. Invasion comes. Our cult busting mystic is setting up spells but needs time. Out other team members are getting ready to help with the wounded. My character goes to the ramparts of the hastily constructed defenses and yells down to see what the invaders want. Trying to buy time. The invaders leader steps forward and demands certain things and people from us in order to leave peacefully. Everyone on the team shakes their heads no at me and so I have my character ask if there is anything else he wants to negotiate for. Leader yells back it is not a negotiation and that we will submit.
So my character shot him. 01 right in front of the DM. He sighed and asked me to roll again because my character was using a high caliber hand gun and it might have had more kick to take things off a bit. 01 again. DM takes a look at his own specially prepared critical hit tables and it appears that with that handgun and my characters skill level that I also took out two people standing behind the leader.
And so what do I do next…. “Anyone else want to ‘Negotiate’?!”
We had been prepped for all out war. Heavy losses and likely losses of sanity on all parts as spells that we should not be playing with get cast to help the tribe we were allies with.
Fight ends in one shot. My character became a hero/demigod to the tribes. Not wanting to play outside my role, when the NPCs came to my character to lead, he told them that he was just a messenger and negotiator. The Mystic and the Business man were the ones who could lead them.
To be perfectly honest I have forgotten if the movie Fifth Element had come out before or after we did that last session. I think it came out before the session and I was just pulling a favorite line and putting it in a new place. But as long as I remain confused I dont have to admit to having stolen the line for my own fun in the game. 🙂
Sure I have had other critical hits in my life of gaming and even done a few more spectacular things in my games as well. But those two shots in that one game series just… mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. tasty 😉 heh
That campaign continued for a good while after that and I really had a lot of fun delving ever deeper into the character and really setting some interesting goals for him that fit his personal… mindset… yeah mindset, lets not call him a psychopath or anything, cause noooo… mindset it is… in a way I dont get to do very often in a game group.
Ok so gimme the dice, I need to see if I can get a critical hit on breakfast.
Hey there readers
Now then anyone with a way back machine or a love of slightly older desktop computer RPGs might recognize the image above, or most of it, from Ultima 6. One of the best in the Ultima series of games. It had one of the most unique character creation elements I had ever encountered to date… well save for the other Ultima games… ok so lets just say I liked the way you created a character in most of the Ultima series.
Having done several series about world building, I thought it would be an interesting time to go more in depth into characters. Both the ones we play and the NPCs that GMs torment us with on a regular basis.
Even though I have talked in the past a bit about differences in Point Based game engines and level based character evolution, I have not touched on character personality and background and all the stuff that gives you the ‘character’ and not just the collection of stats you are going to use.
I plan on pulling up examples for the mechanics from several different game engines, and even a few computer or console examples because a creative table top group can incorporate them into the mix or use them directly.
Not sure when this series will be starting up but it will kick off with Character Creation 101 and be touching on… well I am not quite sure what it will be touching on yet. There are a lot of potential elements to talk about. If anyone has any ideas on things you think should be covered in regards to character creation leave me a reply in the comments and I will be happy to consider driving that point home.
Keep playing out there and having fun in the mean time folks.
Now gimme the dice, I gotta see what goes great with level one new players… 😉 heh
So this post is going to be a little different. I have created links in most of my review posts to Wikipedia so that relevant topics can be examined more in depth. I have also noted that with those reviews, the more links I post the more spam comments I get that I need to delete from my in box, so I am going to use a game module to try and do one up with no links. Lets see how it goes.
In any event… on with the review.
Dungeon Module (already a misnomer because this ain’t no dungeon) X1 – The Isle of Dread is originally a module that introduced me to a few things that… well it sort of changed the way I looked at game modules. Admittedly it was early in my gaming career, and the module came in the original D&D Expert Rules boxed set…
… and totally set up to take advantage of the new rules added in that set. Ohhh look at those old hard edged dice that you needed to use a crayon to fill in… or some of your moms candles…. yeahhh
This module introduced me to a few things. Pages you could cut out and use as character props for the players. I mean seriously you can just cut the pages out and hand them to the players and say “Oh yeah you found this…”. The island itself is fairly big, and so there are a lot of supplementary maps inside the module. Most surprising though in the maps is that the cover interior is not the major map of the island, it is the map for one of the potential story lines that you can participate in while on the island.
And yeah you read that right… this little thirty page module has a main plot, and several encounters just like any good module. However this module also has notes that give you methods to keep things going on the island.
Now then the other thing that this module introduced me to is the idea that using dinosaurs in a fantasy setting was perfectly fine. I mean when I looked into the Monster Manual I could see dinosaurs, but this gave me examples of how I can use them in games by setting up several encounters that sorta feel like King Kong in a fantasy setting and I am not the only person who has said that.
The new creatures introduced work really well in the setting, and to a certain degree can be moved into the rest of the game realm, well that is assuming that you are using the published D&D realms.
One of my favorite added creatures is the Phanaton, sort of like a mix between a raccoon, a flying squirrel and a halfling, who lives in a jungle.
The main adventure can take you all over the island, or you can get really targeted. On the map below you can see over twenty encounter areas called out. Getting through the core story takes hitting four of them. The rest is all optional.
I have used this module for a number of things in the past. Being that it is set up for Expert D&D it is really easy to covert over into AD&D or to 3.0/3.5 D&D/Pathfinder. I have had one group of players decide that after clearing out the main story, they wanted to make the island their secret HQ and so they had to clear out the rest of the main encounters, like the pirates, make friends with the natives and try to tame the dinos. In another case I make this a step in the path for a larger series of modules that I had tied together to make one big story. I have also used it as a training ground location for Rangers. I took out most of the encounters for that last one
All in all I really enjoy the location and the balance of information in the module. And apparently I am not the only one as I hear that it is being reprinted by a third party to be updated into 5th ed D&D.
Ok so lets see how I number it up…
Overall Fluff 4/5 – The art is good ( I mean just look at those little Phanaton welcoming that poor confused human who soooooo needs them). Props are good, maps are great. The only thing it is light on is details about the island history. But that is sort of how modules at the time.
Overall Crunch 3/5 – The only real rules added were for new creatures. And they work. However some of the creature mechanics are not balanced.
Overall Mod 5/5 – It is old school D&D, so you can mod the crud out of it.
Overall Fun 4/5 – If you did not guess, I think this is a lot of fun. The only reason I cant give it a five is because the colelctor in me wants to keep the module fully in tact, the passionate GM in me wants to rip out the appropriate pages and hand them to players….
Total Score 16/20 – Not a bad score in the end. Overall I really enjoy this product and when I flashback to the fun modules in the 80’s this is one of the ones that is always at the top of my memory
Well I hope you all enjoyed my first linkless review.
Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many brontosaurs it takes to fill in a volcano…
Did you know there is not a decent RPG that has been created specifically for Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? SIGH… Ok so for review #42 we will stick with SCIFI and hit something a little unexpected.
You may remember a while back I did a review for GURPS. I was not a happy camper in regards to the system, but did mention more than once that when GURPS does a game supplement they go all out. They treat it with respect and do a great job of it. This is one of those examples.
The Humanx setting is from the works of Alan Dean Foster. I got into the setting back in the late 70’s with the book Orphan Star, with Flinx and his minidrag Pip. And I could never get enough. Foster did frustrate the crud out of me more than once when he would write a new book (and I have to say his writing has never stopped improving over the years) and it would come in-between things he had already established as cannon for the setting and it changed two or three things and so now you have to reread to ensure you have everything right in your own head… but that is between me and Mr Foster.
Published in 1987 GURPS Humanx takes into account not only the series of books that is my favorites (Flinx and Pip) but also takes into account the whole freaking setting. And that is not something that is easy to do given the number of books that Foster had published in the setting by that time. In the books 96 pages you got the whole history of the Humanx Commonwealth and even a look at some of the major players. I was really surprised at how much information they were able to cram into such a small space. The weakest part of the whole thing was the art in my mind, considering that they go permission to use the Michael Whelan cover from one of the books.
To be honest I could rant on for a long time about how much I loved this book. And how it broke my heart that it was in GURPS and not a game system I enjoyed. But on the up side there is so much information here that if a GM cannot take this book and put it into their own preferred game system… well I would be looking for a new GM.
Lets take a look at the numbers….
Overall Fluff 4/5 – The only reason I put this at a 4 and not a 5 is the interior art. The details and snippets from the books are just freaking awesome.
Overall Crunch 4/5 – There are a couple of new rules added for the Humanx setting in this book and while I am not a fan of GURPS they fill in for things that would otherwise feel like big holes in the setting. Like I said I may not like GURPS overall, but when they do a source book or licensed item they do not short change you.
Overall Mod 1/5 – This is in the tank because in my case, you have to mod it, into a whole other system. But the level of detail that is present makes it pretty easy overall. I have in the past put it into Star Frontiers (the Thranx and the Vrusk trade up pretty easy) and into Mekton (yeah I was in a ship to ship combat stage at the time)
Overall Fun 5/5 – Ok so I am totally biased and I admit it. I love the setting and I love the way they treated the material. Even though it takes time to mod it to something I can use in a game engine I enjoy, I still think the book itself is a lot of fun for fans.
Total Score 14/20 – I tried to be as even handed as I could given that I dont like the game engine but love the books this is based on. Not an easy task. For a fan of the setting who games I think the book is essential. For a fan of the books it might be a nice to have just so you can see how other people treat the property. For fans of scifi gaming it could be a very nice alternate setting. For fans of GURPS… … … … … sorry, got nothin’ but snark.
All right so fairly short review this week. Oh and yes this is the official post for the week. Seattle’s Snowmageddon 2019 has brought you everything else published this week. Remember this is all my opinion. Get out there and game for yourself. Make up your own bloody mind and have fun doing it.
Now gimme the dice, I need to see if I can make friends with this minidrag.
Welcome readers. Yeah, two posts in under a week. No this is not a sign of the apocalypse, that is already underway and in the hands of other management. 🙂
Having recently found out that Hero Games, the creators of Champions, have been putting a lot of effort into adding PDF versions of the Champions game into online retailers like DriveThruRPG I wanted to pull up one of my favorites from my OVERALL favorite version of Champions. Fourth edition.
Avid readers will remember a while back I did a review for another Champions item. CLOWN. That adventure module, and three others from third edition Champions have been updated, reedited and added to this supplement. What was collected in this book was,
CLOWN, the Criminal Legion Of Wacky Nonconformists.
Neutral Ground, A safe space for heroes and villains to chat, heal, and seek advice or training.
PRIMUS and DEMON, A government organization to fight super-crime with an almost military efficiency, and a magical organization bent on world corruption and or domination, either would work.
And Red Doom, a very 80’s look at Russian supers and the teams they had in order to counter evil American heroes who might interfere with the Motherland.
The first thing most folks would think about in a supplement like this is, “Well if you are just reprinting old stuff who cares. I can just use the old books.” And while you definitely could the four original supplements were created in first through third editions of the rules for Champions. Now then while the changes between the four editions are not as subtle as going from AD&D 1st edition to AD&D 2nd edition. They are no where near as extreme as say going from Basic D&D to Third edition. Things like Martial Arts and some of the powers went through major changes. And while you could muddle through quite well, it makes it a little easier to have it all worked out for you.
In addition to the rules updates you also had all four books pulled together to tell a single story. That updated all of the characters from the original four books. And pulled in additional ones from other old supplements. And when they built this new story they also mapped it out completely so that characters could be directly involved and change a number of elements for their own world, or they could deal with the aftermath of what happened. When they did the update of the organizations they made some fairly significant changes in a few of them. Everything from reorganizing teams, to completely changing the origin stories for characters and in two cases of the organizations themselves.
The combined effect of the rules updates and the story that was created, along with the effects on individual characters and the grander implications for the world of Champions gave this supplement something that was close to unique in the evolution of the Champions RPGs. A true sense of continuity. This book told players that yes your old supplements still mattered. And look how you can tie them in with all the new stuff that is being created for the game.
Hero games did one other book for fourth edition that started with Classic in the title. And while it collected characters from a lot of previous supplements, it did not try to build continuity like this one did.
While I did not get to play with much of the material here… finding Champions players can be a pain some times… what I did use balanced well and ran just like I would expect anything from 4th edition Champions to run. Very very well.
In the end this book is one of five books that I would put into a bundle to say this is your core for Champions 4th edition. That though can be the topic of a later post.
So lets take a look at this book by the numbers…
Overall Fluff 4/5 – Using a ton of the original art, and adding several new pieces the art fits well into the whole Champions product line. This however is the fluff flaw as well. The art is not really top of the line when compared to comic books or a lot of the high end art that other games were using at the time or since.What really stands out though is the story and the character narratives. It adds a lot of great material and makes for a very nice bit of ongoing plot and gives a lot of potential for players to run with and build their own stories and for GMs to integrate it into their worlds.
Overall Crunch 4/5 – While there are no new rules in this book, this book has examples of just about everything you can do with the Champions game engine. Using those examples you can really map out how to do a lot of the more complex things in the game engine like vehicle design and base construction with a lot of ease.
Overall Mod 4/5 – Champions as a whole is really easy for me to mod. And plots and character elements are usually very easy to mod too. However the story elements and background are so well integrated that it can be a bit of work to pull out and use only parts of it, or to add a lot of additional items to it.
Overall Fun 5/5 – So I seriously love this book. Even with a few flaws and not great art it is one of the best supplements that came out for Champions 4th edition. At least in my mind. And as noted above, I enjoy it so much I put it as one of the books you would want to consider your core material to play in the Champions universe.
Total Score 17/20 – A high score, but in my mind this is one where if I have a really good game session or three with the material again I would likely bump it even higher. The book is not without flaws, but overall it is a very very useful collection of material that should not be under rated.
Ok so as always, this is my opinion. Get out there, read it, play with it, and decide for yourself if you agree.
Keep gaming and have fun out there folks.
Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many comic-book villains can fit into the CLOWN car for rapid transit.