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ALIEN RPG Cinematic Starter Kit
by BEnoit G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2019 09:32:56

Wow! We played the trailer (I guess it is the Beta) this week end, and I have to say that this game is really promising. I can't wait to see the rest of the book!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ALIEN RPG Cinematic Starter Kit
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Symbaroum - Game Master's Screen
by Adrian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/01/2019 18:57:29

I always use a GM screen, mostly as a handy space for those oft-used charts and tables (when not covered in my own sticky notes). The Symbaroum Screen is an incredibly useful resource that accompanies me to every game. Aside from the excellent and considered selction of charts and tables, the artwork is evocative and helps to set the scene. A must-have for all Symbaroum gamesmasters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Symbaroum - Game Master's Screen
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Symbaroum - Advanced Player's Guide
by Erik L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/29/2019 07:22:27

This is almost a must have if you are playing Symbaroum, I would not let the new races into my games for the players, but the Boons and Burdens is an idea I like and many of the new abilities are a good addition. There also some new Powers and Rituals that I think could fit well into many games.

I have not used the much from the Alternative Rules, a couple of the Maneuvers mostly, and that is another thing I like. You don't have to go all in on the Alternative Rules, you can pick what you and your group want and skip the rest.

If you enjoy Symbaroum but would be willing to add some more things into your game, this is probably a book for you.

I am not well versed in these modern ways where you either rate something 5-stars or 1-star, this is probably as good as you can make a supplement book and get a solid 4 from me.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Symbaroum - Advanced Player's Guide
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ALIEN RPG Cinematic Starter Kit
by Samuel M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2019 17:25:08

This game made me feel like I was in an Alien movie. My players really liked the panic system and how it made them make horror movie choices. The player versus player system with a secret antagonist was really a great way to end the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ALIEN RPG Cinematic Starter Kit
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Forbidden Lands Quickstart
by Katy T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/09/2019 12:02:47

The perfect guide to get started with Forbidden Lands. A fantastic RPG, this PDF gives players nearly everything they need to know about the system. A great first look into this amazing game. After you get the quick start guide, be sure to buy the full player's guide and the game master's guide. Worth it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forbidden Lands Quickstart
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Yndaros - the Darkest Star
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2019 10:35:17

https://www.teilzeithelden.de/2019/03/30/rezension-symbaroum-throne-of-thorns-auf-symbars-faehrte/

Abschnitt 1 – City of Contrasts Die Hauptstadt Ambrias, Yndaros, ist geprägt von Vielfalt und Gegensätzen. Am Tage bunt und voller Versprechen, in der Nacht in tiefstes Schwarz gehüllt und voller Gefahren. Die Stadt ist laut und zum Bersten gefüllt – selbst vor den Toren tummeln sich noch die Flüchtlinge aus Alberetor.

Königin Korinthia Nightbane aus dem Hause Kohinoor residiert in der Stadt, die im Herzen Yndariens liegt.

Abschnitt 2 – Game Master’s Section Inmitten des ambrischen Reiches wird es politisch: Die in diesem Abschnitt zusammengestellten Informationen für den SL setzen sich primär aus einer Zusammenfassung der jüngsten Geschichte sowie einer Vorstellung der wichtigsten Fraktionen und Machthaber zusammen. Die Frage danach, wer was zum Ziel hat, ermöglicht die authentische Modifikation der Kampagne.

Hervorzuheben sind darüber hinaus die angebotenen Regelinformationen für die zeremonielle Magie und die damit verbundenen Rituale.

Der Band enthält keine ergänzenden Regeln zur Abenteuer- bzw. Kampagnengestaltung – ganz im Gegensatz zu seinen Vorgängern. Während Yndaros: The Darkest Star vor allem auf politischer und geschichtlicher Ebene interessant ist, schwächelt das Angebot an SL-Werkzeugen im direkten Vergleich mit den anderen Bänden der Reihe.

Abschnitt 3 – The Darkest Star Die Reise hat die SC ins Zentrum von Ambria geführt. Inmitten der beeindruckenden Stadt versuchen sie nunmehr, Informationen über die Ruinen zu erhalten, die unter ihr lauern: Die Überreste einer anderen Stadt, Lindaros.

Wie auch The Witch Hammer kann dieses Kapitel losgelöst von der Throne of Thorns-Kampagne bestritten und erlebt werden.

Erscheinungsbild Mit 177 Seiten ist Yndaros: The Darkest Star in etwa so umfangreich wie Thistle Hold: Wrath of the Warden. Vor diesem Hintergrund fällt der erhöhte Preis der Hardcover-Variante negativ auf. Qualitative Unterschiede zu den beiden hier ebenfalls vorgestellten Werken gibt es nicht; das Schriftbild folgt weiterhin dem mittlerweile vertrauten Stil der Symbaroum-Regelwerke und die enthaltenen Artworks spiegeln die düstere Stimmung erfolgreich wider.

Fazit Yndaros: The Darkest Star beinhaltet essentielle Informationen, wenn es darum geht, Ambria politisch zu verstehen. Das breite Spektrum an Fakten und Hintergründen jedoch verdrängt die SL-Werkzeuge, die beispielsweise in Form von zielorientiertem Rollenspiel in Thistle Hold: Wrath of the Warden oder von zufallsbasierter Erstellung von Ruinen in Karvosti: The Witch Hammer vorhanden waren.

Da die Kampagne mit sieben Bänden bereits keine günstige Angelegenheit ist (und überdies zum Spielen noch das Grundregelwerk und eventuell der Advanced Players Guide benötigt werden), ist dieser erhöhte Preis schwerlich zu rechtfertigen. Ein Umstand, der nur bedingt durch die überaus spannende Fortführung der Kampagne entschuldigt werden kann.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Yndaros - the Darkest Star
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Karvosti - The Witch Hammer
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2019 10:33:55

https://www.teilzeithelden.de/2019/03/30/rezension-symbaroum-throne-of-thorns-auf-symbars-faehrte/

Abschnitt 1 – The Explorer’s Haven Barbarenhäuptling Tharaban und die Huldra Yeleta residieren auf dem Kliff Karvosti, von welchem aus weite Teile des Davokars zu überblicken sind. Auf dem Plateau leben mehrere hundert Seelen, Barbaren und Ambrier gleichermaßen, und es stellt einen Ort für Verhandlungen dar, präsentiert aber auch eine gewisse angespannte Neutralität. Expeditionen des Ordo Magicas oder der Schwarzmäntel der Kirche können diesen Ort ebenso zum Ziel haben wie Entdecker und Schatzsucher.

Karvosti – The Witch Hammer führt die Spieler in die Tiefen des Davokar und im Gegensatz zu eventuellen früheren, kürzeren Ausflügen in den finsteren Wald sehen sich die SC nunmehr mit seiner ganzen Schönheit – und seiner ganzen Abscheulichkeit – konfrontiert.

Abschnitt 2 – Game Master’s Section

Während der erste Abschnitt von Karvosti – The Witch Hammer für Spieler und SL gleichermaßen interessant (und dieser wie auch The Hunter’s Harbor als separate PDF-Datei erhältlich) ist, widmet sich der zweite Teil des Bandes erneut dem SL. Er beschreibt Hintergründe und Legenden in Bezug auf Karvosti detailliert, separiert Wahrheit von Sage und beinhaltet überdies neue Plothooks innerhalb der zuvor vorgestellten Örtlichkeit. Ebenso werden neue Mechaniken und Regelmodifikationen aufgeführt.

Besonders positiv auffallend ist der Abschnitt hinsichtlich der Erschaffung von Ruinen, die im Davokar erforscht werden können. Hier werden Tabellen angeboten, die das Erstellen einer Ruine nach dem Zufallsprinzip ermöglicht. Die beinhalteten Optionen sind abwechslungsreich gestaltet und ermöglichen es dem SL, auch kurzfristig ein zerfallenes Gefängnis, eine alte Mine oder ein längst vergessenes Grab zu erstellen.

Abschnitt 3 – The Witch Hammer The Witch Hammer wird als Stand-Alone-Abenteuer vorgestellt, ist aber ebenso der zweite Teil der Throne of Thrones-Kampagne. Der Band beinhaltet alles, was SL und Spieler benötigen, um in die Tiefen des Davokar vorzudringen.

Erscheinungsbild Karvosti – The Witch Hammer weist mit 152 Seiten weniger Seiten auf als der erste und der dritte Band der Kampagne. Hinsichtlich der Gestaltung und des Aufbaus steht der Band seinem Vor- und Nachgänger in nichts nach. Bereits beim ersten Blick in die PDF hinein ist der optische Wiedererkennungswert eines Symbaroum-Regelwerks gegeben.

Fazit

Karvosti – The Witch Hammer macht da weiter, wo Thistle Hold – Wrath of the Warden aufgehört hat, im doppelten Sinne. Der Band baut auf den Regeln und Ergänzungen auf und führt die Handlung der Throne of Thorns-Kampagne weiter. Bewährte Konzepte werden nicht nur erneut aufgegriffen, sondern verbessert angeboten, und das Buch birgt auch für erfahrene SL nur wenige überflüssige Informationen.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Karvosti - The Witch Hammer
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Thistle Hold - Wrath of the Warden
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2019 10:33:07

https://www.teilzeithelden.de/2019/03/30/rezension-symbaroum-throne-of-thorns-auf-symbars-faehrte/

Abschnitt 1 – The Hunter’s Harbor Das Leuchtfeuer der Stadt Thistle Hold führt Schatzsucher, Abenteurer und die Waldläufer der Königin aus dem finsteren Davokar zurück auf zivilisierten Grund und Boden. Die immerwährende Verlockung von Reichtümern und mächtiger Jagdbeute, die es in den Schatten des Waldes zu finden gibt, prägt die befestigte und gepflegte Hochburg, die Repräsentanten aller Autoritäten Ambrias in sich beheimatet.

Thistle Hold – Wrath of the Warden stellt die gleichnamige Stadt wie auch das Vorstädtchen Blackmoor umfangreich vor. Es werden die wichtigsten Gasthäuser und Handelshäuser wie auch relevante Persönlichkeiten und Fraktionen aufgeführt.

The Hunter’s Harbor ist als separate PDF-Datei erhältlich. Da dieser Abschnitt der einzige ist, der nicht ausschließlich für die Augen des SL bestimmt ist, ist dies sehr hilfreich für Spieler, die nicht in Inhalte investieren möchten, die sie nicht einsehen sollten oder möchten. Gleiches gilt für die ersten Abschnitte der ebenfalls vorgestellten Werke Karvosti: The Witch Hammer und Yndaros: The Darkest Star.

Abschnitt 2 – Game Master’s Section Der sodann folgende Abschnitt bietet dem SL Informationen an, die an dieser Stelle kurz, aber spoilerfrei, vorgestellt werden. So beinhaltet Thistle Hold – Wrath of the Warden ein Kapitel über zielorientiertes Rollenspiel. Dies beschreibt den Typus Rollenspiel, bei dem einzig die Spieler den Handlungsverlauf bestimmen, indem sie ihre persönlichen und gemeinsamen Ziele zu erreichen versuchen. Es werden Vorschläge für derartige Ziele dargelegt, die konform mit dem Kampagnenverlauf von Throne of Thorns gehen.

Des Weiteren werden Ruinen innerhalb des Davokars beschrieben, die je nach Bedarf besucht oder eben nicht besucht werden können. Abschließend werden ergänzende Regeln wie beispielsweise Fähigkeiten für feindliche Kreaturen angeboten.

Auch Artefakte und Elixiere werden definiert und der SL erhält Tipps, wie er Nachforschungs- und Recherchearbeiten der SC handhaben kann.

Abschnitt 3 – Wrath of the Warden Thistle Hold – Wrath of the Warden endet mit dem ersten Teil der Throne of Thorns-Kampagne. Der Aufbau des ersten Abschnitts des Abenteuers sowie die handelnden Fraktionen werden vorgestellt. Positiv auffallend ist die enthaltene Adventure-Time-Line, die dem SL zu jeder Zeit darstellt, wo die Spieler sich gerade befinden – und wo sie hin müssen. Vor allem für unerfahrene SL ist dies eine große Unterstützung. Auch Handouts in Form von Briefen oder Notizen sind weiter hinten in der PDF-Datei hinterlegt – ein Umstand, der allen bisher erschienen Bänden der Kampagne zu eigen ist.

Erscheinungsbild Die PDF-Datei von Thistle Hold – Wrath of the Warden verfügt über 177 farbige Seiten. Der Textfluss ist durch Absätze, Unterüberschriften und farbige Einschübe ansprechend gestaltet. Alle Seiten sind in einem beigefarbenen warmen Ton gehalten, der das Lesen zu einer angenehmen Angelegenheit macht. Die Illustrationen sind – wie in anderen Symbaroum-Regelwerken auch – hochwertig und ästhetisch gehalten. Besonders hervorzuheben sind die vorbereiteten Handouts in Form vom Briefen bzw. Karten weiter hinten im Buch, die der SL im Rahmen des ersten Abenteuerabschnitts verwenden kann, ebenso wie auch die Portraits von wichtigen NSC.

Ein Index ist nicht vorhanden, jedoch ist ein Inhaltsverzeichnis zu Beginn des Buches.

Fazit Mit Thistle Hold – Wrath of the Warden bietet Järnringen nicht nur den ersten Teil einer umfangreichen und stimmigen Kampagne an, sondern offeriert überdies Informationen, die auf den Inhalten des Grundregelwerks aufbauen. Die Welt wird sowohl inhaltlich als auch regeltechnisch ausgebaut; sie wächst. Die angebotenen Informationen helfen vor allem unerfahrenen SL, mit den Inhalten umzugehen und die Spieltermine entsprechend vorzubereiten. Viele der hiermit in Zusammenhang stehenden Inhalte sind für erfahrene SL jedoch redundant.

Das Regelwerk ist attraktiv gestaltet und weist weniger Fehler innerhalb der stimmungsvoll gehaltenen Texte auf. Der Einwand, dass ein Großteil des Bandes lediglich für den SL gedacht ist, wird damit abgewiegelt, dass der erste Abschnitt, Hunter’s Harbor, separat erhältlich ist und interessierte Spieler somit nicht für Inhalte zahlen, die sie nicht konsumieren möchten.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Thistle Hold - Wrath of the Warden
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Coriolis - The Third Horizon Core Book
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/04/2019 11:51:40

Coriolis is a sci-fi/fantasy game published by Free League and Modiphius, that bills itself as 'Arabian Nights in space'. The game very much fits that description, being a setting that brings together a lot of the tropes from various space-oriented science-fantasy stories, such as Firefly, Star Wars, the Fifth Element, Pitch Black, Mass Effect, Dune, and many others. It takes place in a far-off galaxy. Long ago, thousands boarded a ship and traveled for centuries to reach the planets of the Kua system with the goal of being the first to colonize them. When they arrived, they found that the world had already been settled by colonizers who found faster passage through a wormhole (or portal) that had been built by a long-lost civilzation. The portal to their homeworld had since been destroyed, isolating these settlers to the 'third horizon'--an area of space that includes several galaxies interlinked by portals. After its centuries-long journey, the ship-- Coriolis--was turned into a space-station, becoming a hub of societal activity, and a central location for the game. The setting is a world shaped rival factions and wars, a shared polytheistic faith in the 'icons', and a facination with the sparse remnants of the ancient 'portal builders'.

The game has a rather simple system, with some very easy to use mechanics. Skills and combat are determined by rolling a number of D6 from a pool of dice related to your character's ability in a given skill, typically looking to roll a 6 for success. This is very simple and similar to any other D6-based system, such as Shadowrun. There are a few really nice features to the mechanics, such as 'the dark between the stars'--a mechanic that lets the game master track negative consequences that players have accrued to give them an eventual comeuppance. As well, the game includes rules for giving your players a spaceship from the start of the game, with good guidelines on customing it to their needs--and requiring it to have a flaw. The ship-building rules give a great number options for customization. There are also rules for space combat and travel, in which your ship-building decisions matter. The back of the book even has some sample ships and a useful space combat map.

Character creation is simple and has decent options with 11 character classes that include artist, data spider (hacker), fugitive, negotiator, operative, pilot, preacher, scientist, ship worker, soldier, and trailblazer. The options include rules for mystic powers and cybernetics, though this book only offers the basics. Character creation requires players to determine their physical features, personal problems, and their relationships to others--including their closest friend in the group. The process is easy enough and encourages players to build fleshed-out characters with a well-defined background. It also gives the game master the option of working character interactions into their adventures.

Aside from the core rules, the book contains everything you need to run the game. This includes the rich history of the setting and background information to help game masters build their adventures. There is information on the 10 major factions that players will encounter, the widely-worshiped nine icons, and the major groups of people. There are descriptions of many of the locations in the setting, with a heavy focus on the Coriolis space station. The book offers descriptions of 6 planets/orbital bodies that can serve as locations for adventures aside from the many locations in Coriolis itself. Chapter 14 is a 20-page section that includes a bestiary and a list of adventuring hazards. It even gives options for non-human player characters for game masters who wish to allow this in their game. Though brief, this section really provides some nice material for adventure writing. Even better, the book includes three brief scenarios that can be tied together with ease to get your campaign started.

Overall, Coriolis is a great book to pick up if you're looking for a space-faring science fiction game. This is one of the easiest games to get into if you are looking to branch out into a new system. The only real learning curve here is the background story, which might take a bit of research for game masters who wish to go deep into the setting, but it is otherwise easy to play without diving into backstory. Given that character and ship creation are relatively easy and the availability pre-written scenario in the core rulebook, this is a great game to jump into and start playing with little preparation.

Read the full review at Geeksagogo.com!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Coriolis - The Third Horizon Core Book
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Forbidden Lands Quickstart
by Addramyr P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2019 15:28:19

152 page "quick" start!

It explains the system, the skills, combat rules and even the whole Journeys system (that's a must read by itself). It leaves out the talents (including the magic talents, professions and equipment) but add pregens (all rules for them are included) and some of the stuff from the GM book (theres only a few encounters presented) so that you have all you need to run a FREE session.

This is an excellent move from Fria Ligan. Gives a FREE entry point to those who want to discover this wonderful game.

You have no excuse not to, it's a superb game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forbidden Lands Quickstart
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Forbidden Lands Quickstart
by Joseph B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2019 22:47:40

This might just be the greatest RPG of all-time. That's saying a lot from me, as I'm a huge fan of dozens of RPG's and have been GMing a diverse array of systems and settings since the 90's. Forbidden Lands is just that damn good. It pays tribute to traditional, old-school fantasy RPG’s and breaks new ground with stunning innovations and simplifications at the same time. It will sweep the Ennies and Golden Geek - MARK MY WORDS!

The production and value of the Core Boxed Set is unmatched in RPG history. For $45, you get two pho-leather, hardcover, gilded rule books with attached ribbons for bookmarking your pages: The Player's Handbook and the Gamemaster's Guide. You also get a third softcover book, a gigantic color hex-map of the Forbidden Lands, and a sticker set to place on the map as your players explore. And this is all contained in the boxed set, which is nice and sturdy with beautiful art on the cover.

The game uses the award-winning and simple "Year Zero" engine from Fria Ligan's other RPG's, which includes Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis, and Tales from the Loop. I love the mechanics, because it's not just a binary succeed or fail system. There is meaningful decision-making involved in almost every step of the game for the players to mitigate their chance of failure in a fun way (opposed to just rolling a d20 and hoping for the best, at the complete mercy of the dice). Additionally, there are degrees of both failure and success presented in a very straight-forward way that doesn't add unnecessary complexity. If your combat encounters take longer than 20 minutes, you're doing something wrong. As a boardgamer who likes controlling my chance of success with easy to understand strategy and tactics without unnecessary complication, this is the RPG I've been waiting for.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forbidden Lands Quickstart
by Matthew T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/28/2019 09:46:40

If there was one thing "wrong" with the Forbidden Lands Core set, its that there was a not a quickstart or taster product. That has been solved with this PDF release.

A massive 152 pages long, this free sampler gives you a tase of every aspect of the game to show you the designers intent and gibe you and your friends a great few hours of fun.

The introductory chapter tells you about: the principles behind the game; the world of the Forbidden Lands; and the tools of the game, both what your need, and what is nice to have. There are effectively two chapters on your character that, while they doesn't enable you to make one of your own, explain everything you need to know about the pregens.

The rules are explained over three chapters covering skill rolls, combat and journeys (the hex crawl being an important aspect of the game). There is even a stripped down version of the random encounter system, to show how it can create narrative, not just "n creatures" to fight.

The adventure itself is a complete one from the books, which, I will warn you, does not go easy on a careless party. the pregens are fun and somewhat customisable. The only ommission is the rules on magic, which makes the spells that one character has a lot less damgerous to use thatnthey are in the actual game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MUTANT: Year Zero - Roleplaying At The End Of Days
by Tom B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2019 16:04:51

One of my favorite RPGs Nice simple system that tempts risk from players. I feel that this game gives you just the right amount of hand holding for running it's campain but with enough freedom to take it where you and your groupe want to go. Character turnover can be somewhat high, but its post-apocalypse so what do you expect? I would sugest buying the cards for this game as they do make things somewhat easer mid game. I really love this game and would recomend it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MUTANT: Year Zero - Roleplaying At The End Of Days
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Forbidden Lands Core Game
by Jeffrey S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2018 00:23:24

Forbidden Lands is perhaps the best iteration to date of the Year Zero rules system by Free League Publishing, paired with a setting that brings forth scenes and scenarios reminiscent of certain black metal or old school prog rock album covers' art. As a Kickstarter backer, I had been eagerly awaiting the game for some time, and after my first full session running the game yesterday, I'm glad to report that it does not disappoint.

The game is focused on exploration, with hex-crawl style play, punctuated by visits to villages and strongholds as well as dungeons and ruined castles. The exploration rules remind some players of a lighter version of The One Ring's travel rules, with different roles to be fulfilled in terms of one player character using survival skills to lead the way through the wilderness to avoid the party getting lost or running into hazards, and one player character keeping watch to avoid ambushes and make any random encounters along the way optional. There's some light resource management (you don't track individual units of rations or water but rather roll resource dice with each use to see if your supplies are running out) that may prompt other party members to forage, hunt or fish to avoid conditions like Hunger and Thirst. Party members might also fulfill important roles such as cooking the food others have caught or found (otherwise it won't last to become a resource), making camp (if a campsite isn't built in a good place or done well, you might wind up getting soggy or setting up your tent on an insect colony), and other chores. With each 10 kilometer hex you enter, you roll to see if you safely navigated the wilderness and if the lookout will spot any random encounters that the gamemaster might have rolled up, but there's plenty for everyone to do in this mode of play, although it's probably a good idea to make sure everyone is involved in decision making.

The map of Ravenland, the titular Forbidden Lands, is covered in icons where a hex will have a village, castle, or dungeon. It is up to the gamemaster to place the highly detailed adventure locations Free League and freelancers working on the game have come up with in those hexes. There are three locations in the Gamemaster's Guide, one each of a village, a dungeon and a castle. These can be used on their own, but they also play into the Raven's Purge campaign, which can be bought separately and has a great deal more locations. They say that the gamemaster can place these locations anywhere there's a corresponding icon on the map, and technically you can (technically, you can do anything you want at your game table) but every location has a legend and a history, and might have geographical features or suggestions for where it should be placed that in some cases - if carefully considered - lend the location to being placed in only one or two places on the map. Narrowing things further, the gamemaster's guide has a map showing where each Kin (fantasy race or subrace/clan) has settled. For example, if you're placing the laboratory and stronghold of a certain villain who called forth demons from a demonic portal, there's only one castle icon on the map adjacent to where history tells you there's a demonic portal. If you had a village that was a burial ground for officers killed in the Alder Wars that should be along a river, well, you've got several villages along rivers on the map, but there's a certain area between which Zygofer's forces would probably have met Alderland's in battle. Some locations are more flexible than others, if you want someone who understands the full history and context of the location to feel it makes any sense. This is possibly my one semi-criticism of the game, although the lack of labels on the map adds to the replayability of the campaign and makes it easy to reskin the game world as you please.

The feeling that only certain spots on the map felt appropriate for certain locations hardly mattered to me, though, because reading through the lore scattered throughout the gamemaster's guide and figuring out where best to place all of the locations in Raven's Purge and the Gamemaster's Guide was probably the most entertaining game prepration I've ever done. The history of the Forbidden Lands is full of secrets, betrayals, false narratives, unreliable narrators and legends that contain only a shadow of the truth. The native inhabitants of Ravenland were the elves and dwarves, with humans arriving later on as interlopers reluctantly given half of the land to keep the peace, negotiated via what's considered a protector god. Of course, humans being humans, they soon find themselves transgressing into the half of the land that is still reserved for elves, dwarves and other Kin due to religious persecution, overpopulation, a long period of poor growing seasons, in pursuit of the persecuted, and so forth. A series of migrations, wars and intrigues occurs over hundreds of years, up to the point where a demonic Blood Mist stretches across the land, devouring anyone who wanders from home and hearth at night. The Blood Mist rises each night for 300 years, until just several years before gameplay begins. This is why the lands are unknown to their inhabitants, and where all the constant exploration comes in. The player characters are among the first brave souls to go out to the wilderness and seek fortune, fame, knowledge, or even just a break in the monotony of not being able to leave the lands your family has lived on for 300 years, where your restless dead ancestors moan and mill about your family burial plot or the village graveyard, and you spend your life farming turnips.

The system is similar to Mutant Year Zero, also by Free League. The dice system can be punishing, but in actual experience not as punishing as one might think when first reading it. Each character has attributes, skills, and equipment that lend dice to a pool of d6s. Only sixes are successes. You can 'push' a roll, representing your character pushing themselves body and/or mind to succeed at a task where they must, re-rolling all dice except for sixes and ones. However, any dice that came up as ones on your attribute dice also cause harm to that attribute. You strain your muscles, tire yourself out, become frustrated or mentally fatigued. But the desire to triumph over adversity also gives you the rare resource Willpower, and you gain one for each 1 rolled on an attribute die in a pushed roll. So you damage yourself, but also gain a certain sense of determination. "Yeah, I did that, I'm capable of pushing myself to the limit if need be." Unless your party builds a stronghold and stays the night there, this is the only way that you will get Willpower. Willpower is used for racial abilities, professional (class) talents, and for all magic. If anyone is playing a druid or a sorcerer, they're going to want to push rolls right away.

The system works well if the gamemaster moderates it and heeds the game's advice. Don't let that spellcaster do every silly thing they can to roll dice and push themselves. They should get a decent amount of willpower from regular gameplay. My partner played a druid, and wanted to push his first roll even though he had a basic success. I told him not to, there was no need. He still had willpower when it came time to use the Path of Healing to save another PC, pretty early on. Likewise, as a sidebar early in the game says, you don't need to roll for everything. Think of this like an old-school fantasy roleplaying game without skills, even though this system is based on skills. In other words, think OSR, think basic D&D. Don't do "perception" based checks to search rooms and find things... if the party needs to find something to move the plot along, they should. Otherwise, they should tell you specifically where they're looking (I look in the wardrobe, I look in the desk), and if something is there you tell them about it. Use the Scouting skill (the perception-like skill) as directed to keep watch, oppose stealth, or otherwise as outlined in the book. You should only roll where there are consequences for failure, and if someone rolls and fails, there should absolutely be consequences for failure. Unlike the way modern D&D is often played, if someone rolls to climb a wall and fails, they aren't just standing at the base of the wall going 'unnnhhhh, can't reach' and unable to begin. They probably got partway up the wall and fell at some point, perhaps painfully or making noise. All of the advice for running the game, while brief and to the point with little exposition on why it should be done, is worth heeding: the core principles of the game, advice sidebars like don't roll for everything, rolls have consequences, etc. This will make or break this game system (and honestly, it can only improve other systems you apply these principles to, as well.)

There are random tables for generating monsters, villages, castles, and dungeons that are actually surprisingly good. You'll have a few dozen monsters in the gamemaster's guide, but the thing to understand there is that (1) monsters are a big deal, they follow their own rules and if PCs don't approach things very carefully and with preparation, they will probably die, so monsters should be used sparingly, (2) the conflict of the Forbidden Lands is such that you'll probably be facing humanoids built similarly to the player characters more often than monsters, (3) locations detailed in the campaign and various other places will have their own monsters, and (4) monsters are easy to come up with or convert for the system, even without the random generator, as it's not hard to see how everything works in this system. There's no hidden balance to break per se.

Legends and Adventurers, the handout included in the core set, also includes an alternative method to randomly generate a player character that I was shocked every single one of my players used, sticking with the characters as they rolled them randomly for the most part. It also includes tables for a gamemaster to randomly come up with a legend for a person, place or artifact. Most of these tables are d66 (roll 2d6s, one is the tens digit and the other is the singles digit), but surprisingly flexible and providing a good number of options.

The combat system is decent, but fast and brutal, and you might see character death from time to time. If a fight is one humanoid person vs another humanoid person, there is an alternative advanced melee system that adds some more dynamism to combat, involving combat cards. A character in arm's length of another, with a full set of actions available to them, can force the character they're engaged with into advanced combat, if the gamemaster agrees. Both characters act at the same time, picking two cards to represent their actions. The attacker reveals his first action, and resolves it, then the defender, then the attacker, then the defender. This can "lock down" a combatant, forcing them to defend themselves or spend their actions fleeing melee or trying to fight back when they may not be much of a close combatant, and thereby allow someone to 'tank' an enemy. I have a feeling this will lead to a lot of people trying to immediately melee sorcerers and druids. However, the tables can be turned on the attacker if the defender throws caution to the wind and decides to fight back, because if one or the other side is hit first, pain prevents them from attacking later in the same round of combat. I only got to use this mode of combat for one exchange, as the bandits I had attacking the PCs and a caravan started attacking at range, and then went down quickly. I tried to manuever the NPCs into a situation where advanced combat could be invoked to demonstrate it to the group.

Eventually, we started off a round with two combatants in arm's length, and I decided on what the NPC would do and drew cards, and the player did as well. It turns out we both wanted to shove the other to the ground with the first action, me because I decided the NPC was panicking as the last bandit standing and the player because his PC was hurt and had diminished strength with which to attack, and wanted an easier target. The PC missed their shove attempt, I hit with mine, so the wounded PC and the scared bandit grappled briefly, and the bandit threw the PC to the ground. Then, we revealed our second actions. Unfortunately, the PC had chosen to attack, and couldn't do so while prone. The bandit's second action was to run. So he knocked the PC down and tried to flee. That sort of thing could happen in any system, but the simultaneous struggle, the PC's frustration at being unable to stop the last bandit, that came out of the advanced combat system.

Four bandits versus four PCs, resolved in just few minutes, with all the players describing their actions. As they 'broke' each of their opponents (taking them out by reducing an attribute to zero with an attack) I let them roll on the critical charts to give them something to work with in terms of describing how they took down the opponent. (Later in the game, a PC would take out a named Rust Brother (evil priests who gather sacrifices from villages) with a single arrow to the groin at a village, and I let it ride because it was just too perfect. It will also complicate things for that village.) Everyone was happy with the combat, but eager to buy more armor and some shields, and placing orders with the first blacksmith they met.

Overall, my first session running the Forbidden Lands took a group that mostly wanted to talk about Dungeons and Dragons 90% of the time, and engaged them in an old school, more narrative game of exploration, intrigue and gritty combat, and they were happy when it was done, ready to come back for more. I was probably more satisfied having run the session than I ever have been running games, which I've been doing for decades with a large collection of RPGs. The session went in directions I wasn't prepared for, but it was easy to read out whatever encounter or location the players had taken us to without disrupting the game. As the players have begun to explore and discover this new fantasy world, I got to experience their story, the unique order of events that sprung up from their explorations, what they decided to engage with, the consequences of their actions and rolls, and how they decided to deal with various NPCs and places. It gave me the kind of experience I feel every GM should get from running a game. In all RPGs, the gamemaster is another player at the table, but a lot of games can make the gamemaster's role feel like work. This game lets you feel like you're also a player at the table, in somewhat different ways than things like the Powered by the Apocalypse system or Modiphius' 2d20 system, but in a completely satisfying way.

If you like the One Ring this can give a dark fantasy change of pace. If you like OSR games, this feels like an old school gold box RPG cranked up to an HBO original series level of 'Woah, WTF?". If you like gritty combat... the combat monster among my group of players started out the first encounter cracking a man's skull and shattering another man's leg, then got nearly sliced in half by a broadsword. If you like intrigue and complicated plots and narrative games, there's something for you in here, too. If you like survival games, this is definitely something to get into. If you just need a change of pace from your group visiting another magically cosmopolitan, Disneyland version of a medieval fantasy metropolis, check this out. It does 'points of light setting' in a way that the game franchise that introduced us all to the phrase 'points of light setting' never did.

Highly recommended. Trust the game and its advice and you'll have a great experience. DriveThruRPG, please increase the scale for reviews so I can give this 10 out of 10 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forbidden Lands Core Game
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Forbidden Lands Core Game
by Darren S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/18/2018 03:00:19

I wish this book could have existed 20 years ago when I was first introduced to roleplay. I think it would remain my favorite to this day. Not to dismiss it compared to today's standards, but I believe this game is a love-letter to old school gaming.

For those players who reminisce about the "good old days" of roleplay and try to recreate the experience of classic gaming, this game is definitely for you. I don't think the visual style and pacing would appeal as much to younger gamers who grew up with video games and movies that spoiled their imagination (no offense intended), but for a gamer my age or older (I'm 38) this game is a true treasure. I love the black and white artwork - it inspires me and fills me with wonderful nostalgia.

While I encourage you to purchase the PDF to review the game yourself, I strongly recommend purchasing the printed box set, as the actual books are beautiful and charming. Check out a video on Youtube of someone else opening the set to understand what I mean.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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