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FLAMES OF FREEDOM Grim & Perilous RPG: Core Rulebook – Powered by Zweihander RPG
by Joshua [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/14/2023 15:10:45

Great concept well executed. Unlike the parent game this feels like something new.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FLAMES OF FREEDOM Grim & Perilous RPG: Core Rulebook – Powered by Zweihander RPG
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Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
by John P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2023 19:57:06

The premise drew me in: the old gods are dead, the new gods are forming, and the world is in chaos. There are a lot of good and intriguing ideas in the setting, there was a fresh take on the fae (aes) ancestry, but as I read further the book became more and more focused on twisted body horror. The Outsiders, the Oligarchs, and almost every entry in the beastiary - all David Cronenberg and Kingdom Death packed in a roleplaying game. If this is to your taste - you and your group will love the setting. It's not to my taste, which is fine, but there is the realization that it will never reach the table. The question may be: why did I buy it? Well, that's why such a low review. There was absolutely no indication of this in the product description. Hopefully, this review will help others make a more informed purchase.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
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ZWEIHANDER RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
by Jerry N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/29/2023 20:11:19

Zweihander is a great game. It's got an intuitive, streamlined, well-balanced system. It's got the perfect mix of grimess and dark humor. It's complete in one volume, with everyting you'd need to play it for years. The book is beautiful, with gorgeous, evocative art and top-notch production values. I've run and played it, and it really sings at the table.

On the downside, the book is overly verbose, and has some editing issues. And, of course, its lack of an express setting. I say "express" because the "totally not WFRP" setting is heavily implied. In fact, I've wondered if that's one reason why the book is so excessively (and at times confusingly) wordy. In order to convey a setting outline piecemeal. Regardless, Zweihander does manage to convey a Grim & Perilous atmosphere. Magic is dangerous, battle is bloody, and the forces of evil lurk everywhere, especially in the hearts of men.

On balance, however, the good FAR outweighs the bad. I really enjoyed this game, and am currently panning another campaign.

Though I like a lot of "Grimdark" games, this is the best such ruleset in my opinion. It has a great balance of crunch and smoothness, and the various tweaks and changes to its source material mostly feel like improvements. The highly modular nature of the game means it's easy to take what you like and leave the rest.

Zweihander seems to have an undeserved reputation for being overly crunchy. Well, I'm not a high crunch guy, and I found it very manageable, from either side of the GM screen.

Likewise, I think people are too quick to call it a WFRP "rip-off." There is a lot more daylight between Zweihander's mechanics and WFRP than there is between most OSR games and D&D.

Zweihander is that rarest of retro-clones that stands on its own as a ruleset. Give it a try if you find other "Grimdark" rulesets too clunky, too loaded with metacurrency, or too spread out among different splatbooks. Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, it's a great value, and a great system. Whether you want to use it to game in your favorite established setting, or a homebrew, if you're looking for a good, gritty, gunpowder fantasy that's as easy to play as it is on your pocketbook, give Zweihander a try.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZWEIHANDER RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
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Neverland: A Fantasy Role-Playing Setting
by Kaan K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/12/2023 10:06:52

The only thing, that would make this better is if it where not for 5e. Other than that, it's great.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Neverland: A Fantasy Role-Playing Setting
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ZWEIHANDER RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
by Edward C. O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/08/2023 15:07:14

i have both the physical and PDF of this Corebook, and i got it out of curiousity and i will give my thoughts on the book and gameplay.

first, the physical book is pretty beefy, and the PDF is pretty long as well, i'm use to these types of books at this point, look at DCC and the 20th anniversary of OWoD books, this is normal to me.

i love the black ink art, really show chasing what kind of game you can run with this type of game. what the previous reviewers say is true: this is Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay without the Warhammer name. think Old School Essentials; it's a retro clone of B/X DnD. Zweihander is a Retroclone of WFRP, specifically 2nd edition, it also adds a lot of house rules and other modern mechanics that can make or break your game. for comparsion i have WFRP 4e, and it is pretty close minus a few changes.

i ran a one shot with this using a module from WFRP 2e, and it was a lot of fun, however i will be critical of this: it is overly detail to the point of information bleed over with fluff, or that it takes paragraphs to get to the point. i appreicate the details, but too much detail makes it a nightmare during play to find information. the PDF will help with this search, but even then there is a lot of information. i love the deadly nature of the game, and it was slightly confusing but after a few combat rounds it made so much sense. we love the skill system as well, its a d100 system, and my players are use to dnd 5e but caught on with the rolls and how the system work. the fury and chaos dies are really something especially with the exploding d6. if you get the supplemental book Main Guache, it adds more professions, cultists, daemons to make pacts with to get magic and so on. Magic is something to be feared, and my players loved the chaotic nature of it.

now the negatives, as i have mentioned, it is too detailed, too overly written which while specificity is nice, too specific gets lost on the players and DM. the pronouns is really weird, like you're selling a dark/grim dark fantasy book and setting agnoustic game, yet you mentioned the pronouns and trans being was really off putting. i don't remember where i read it, but in a book i read that while it's bad to live through those negative things, but it is good to have and overcome those negative things (for example, in my dnd game, as an urban conflict, the group encounters a pro-human gang that has a strong hatred of half elves specificially because the leader's mother was murdered by a half elf, therefore he acts out his rage by striking down those who are half elves, but has spilled over to the demi-races, and unintentionally gave pro-human individuals to act out their rage). i don't know, if you want to have a PC-Friendly fantasy game, maybe another game setting is better for that to work. this is a minor nitpick, but the pop culture references are really distracting. the dungeoneer for example is straight up says, this is Gary Gygax or another profession i can't remember made reference to Indiana Jones. gameplay wise it gets confusing to find rules and it can slow down the game due to crunch, and the vagueness of wounds to physical and mental attacks does get confusing as well.

Overall, this is like any other Retroclone: if you want to play that specific old edition, you can either use the retro clone or the official books. Zweihander as a system have other setting games that use this system really well, so if you have a homebrew or setting you want that works for the setting, Berserk, The Witcher, A Song of Ice and Fire series, it works well. it also works well for other settings that are gonzo/early renaissance period of Europe, it works out well.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ZWEIHANDER RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
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Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
by Jay H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2023 18:28:14

Incredible game; 100% worth a buy. Best GrimDark setting i have come across. A fantasy world fraught with peril; with some of the most well realised and original world building you could hope for. The lore makes you want more; and the mechanics keep you on the edge of your seat, but satisfied all the same. It is a truly co-operative story telling experience; and the fate & fortune system is so engaging. 10/10 !!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
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Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
by Luke D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2023 18:22:52

To say that I love Blackbirds so far would be an understatement. Let me start by being completely transparent, I got Blackbirds by chance at gencon 2022 for free. However after reading through the book and understanding how amazing the Blackbirds' team had done I knew I had to do my part. To put it in perspective, I love Blackbirds so much that even with a copy, I made sure to buy another travel copy (in case of emergencies) as well as a digital copy in order to always have everything. To begin with the ways characters are made and designed, I was stunned by looking at the way it was all done. The fluid way of advancing characters is what I believe to be one of the best progression systems, ensuring that characters are able to gain skills in any level that they see fit to ensure their character vision. At the same time, each path makes it to where they have their own defined specialties but does not constrict players from any skills they desire. The magic system would, in DnD's term, would be a warlock's dream and presents a great way of the give and take system that we know, but put into a magic system with real power and consequences. The magic alone gives you a multitude of options to empower your blackbird, with as much variety as character creation itself. The d100 fate system has always been my favorite style so I may be biased, but its similarities to the refined Zweihander rules are extremely appealing and, in my opinion, extremely simple to understand. It has enough complexity to allow some very cool and interesting tactics such as aiming for body parts and tripping them up, while still not being too overwhelming. To top all of the amazing rules off, the setting brings the idea of "what if the gods are dead and there were new evil ones" but are done so amazingly well. Each one of these kind of false gods(oligarchs) have different fascinations and really get into that. One is a control freak, another wishes to be idolized and another is obsessed with beauty. But all of the themes done aren't repetitive nor boring and instead having a beautifully morbid twist to reflect everything about the oligarch. My favorite aspect are the Aes, the elves in this setting but are actually alien raiders made of pure magic whose mother god has died, breaking their hive mind. And don't even get me on the striga, who I immediately loved and wanted to either run or fight against. Overall this book will AT THE VERY LEAST satisfy your new rpg itch. But truth be told, if you love a good dark fantasy adventure, this will become one of your favorites just like me!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Neverland: A Fantasy Role-Playing Setting
by Adam F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2023 19:23:40

Beautiful, useful, and creative!!! Checks ALL THREE categories for me. The layouts are simply beautiful to look at and browse through. Likewise, the formatting and writing get straight to the point and conveys a lot of information very clearly and quickly. There's no fluff at all--everything is important, evocative, and simply cool to read and run.

It's a little expensive for a PDF, but honestly quite reasonable for what you're getting. The hard-cover version (on Amazon) is also flawless!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Neverland: A Fantasy Role-Playing Setting
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ZWEIHANDER Fantasy Horror RPG: Starter Kit
by Cynthia C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/15/2023 15:39:16

If there's one thing that really impresses me with how far RPG releases have come, it's the resurgence of fantastic starter set boxes absolutely packed to the gills with content -- and this is no exception. It may, in fact, be the cream of the crop. I'll go through the box, skipping the dice because you don't get those if you order the PDF (they're fine, functional, black).

The Player's Guide starts with an introduction that lays out the themes up front without tying them down to a specific world. Essentially, as long as the world you want to play in has these themes -- in other words, as long as it's dark fantasy -- the game will work for you. This is followed by the usual explanations of terms like player, gamemaster, session, and so on, and provides a rolling example of play. Interestingly, the example of play is also the first scene of the included adventure, meaning that if you run that adventure the players will be responding to the same situation as the example of play describes. I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; I'd think that new players would enjoy the familiarity of a situation they've already visualized while veteran RPG players would be confused.

The next section goes into detail on the dice system. Since Zweihander is essentially an OSR version of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the system will be familiar, but it's been streamlined and brought to heel. It's a fairly standard percentiles system for the most part, where you add your attribute and skill and try to roll under. Rolling doubles makes the roll a critical, either critical success or critical failure depending on the number showing. The Flip to Succeed and Flip to Fail rules are a much more exaggerated form of advantage and disadvantage from later editions of D&D (and an increasing number of other games), making very dramatic shifts and exaggerating the system's lethality. There's also a metacurrency called Fortune/Misfortune, with the usual setup where players spend tokens to benefit PCs and pass them to the GM, who spends tokens to benefit NPCS and passes them to the players.

Character generation is pretty simple, and as presented here it is entirely random. Your Profession, essentially a bare-bones character class, is rolled randomly; you then roll your attributes randomly in order, regardless of how well they fit the Profession; you roll your starting social class; you calculate various values based on that; and you either pick Human or roll an ancestry at random, and then your character's physical appearance and personality are rolled randomly (!) You don't have a lot of control here, and there's no guarantee you'll get anything you're remotely interested in playing; even if you do, the player characters won't fit any kind of theme or have any obvious reason to associate with each other. Hopefully there's a non-random system provided in the Revised Core Rulebook, because random gen fell out of fashion for a reason.

Taking a moment to note that character gender is open and fluid, and the accompanying artwork shows what appears to be a trans man being fitted for a binder. Frankly that's amazing. The past was a lot less black and white about gender than uneducated people insist, and given this game isn't historical it can have any sociological constructs the author wishes. But backing it up with art? That shows a commitment to inclusiveness I don't think I've ever seen in an RPG before.

Finally, you actually get to choose something: your character's name and one each of the talents, attribute bonuses, and (for spellcasters) a spell. You also get to buy your equipment; a bewildering array of mechanically different weapons are available, as well as the usual armor, village services, and basic gear.

Most of the rest of the book is devoted to combat. It's crunchy, but only moderately so, and fairly intuitive; I wasn't surprised by anything I read. There's an Action Point system, which lends itself to tactical planning and heavy use of teamwork in fights. You can attack, move around, attempt various special moves, or use "words as weapons" to pass status conditions around to friends and foes alike. The book finishes with a brief section on magic.

The Gamemaster's Secrets book is a lot like the Dungeon Master's book in the old Basic Set. There's a section at the front with the social interaction and Corruption rules that the players are expected to learn through rough experience, followed by a long and detailed adventure. The adventure is a mystery, where the player characters are recruited by a friend to solve a rash of disappearances. It's a pretty good adventure, a little on the difficult side, and does require the players to be in a dark fantasy morally-gray mindset. The book finishes with a VERY small bestiary, essentially just the creatures and characters you need to run that specific adventure, and the tables to roll on when characters sustain injuries.

The next item is a sheaf of character profiles (i.e., character sheets). The design in the printed edition is a four-page booklet, with Profession information on the front, the character sheet to be filled in on the two facing pages, and a summary of combat actions on the back. This is a very nice and functional design with the printed version, using 11x17 paper folded down the center ... though it would be very difficult to print this out from the PDFs, which present them as four-page documents. I guess the best solution is to print double-sided and recreate the booklets by placing two pages next to each other. Whichever way you go, the Gamemaster needs to be prepared for character sheets to take up fully twice as much table space as usual. The information on the professions is also located nowhere else in the box, meaning that giving the sheets out to the players will permanently remove the profession information from the kit. The advantage to the PDF is to be able to give players a printout to keep while not losing your only copy of that information.

Next we have an absolute hoard of cards and other tools.

There's an entire deck of injury cards, duplicating the entries on the table in the Gamemaster's Secrets book; they're on thin cardstock but functional. This is followed by a deck of spell cards (a product that other companies make you pay through the nose for) covering all of the Generalist spells. There's a giant poster of the cover art from the boxed set, which is actually pretty damned good.

The last of the general tools provided is a gamemaster screen. It's landscape-oriented, which isn't my personal preference, and a little flimsier than I like. The front, player-facing side has nothing but art, which is the style at the time, and the art is mostly just an array of characters staring at the players. I suspect this is just art from the full core rulebook photoshopped together; I'd much rather have had a nice panorama of a dark fantasy town or evocative adventure site. The back of the screen is mostly an expanded version of the combat actions table -- even with the injury card deck included, the injury charts REALLY needed to be summarized on here, and they aren't.

The rest of the box is devoted to handouts and resources for the introductory adventure in the Gamemaster Secrets book. A poster-sized map of the town, one side of which is annotated for the GM and the other of which is unlabeled for the players. A THIRD card deck, this one containing two copies each of the important clues to solving the mystery. (One worry: the players may dismiss anything they learn without an accompanying card.) And cardstock maps of every location, again with the player map on the front and the gamemaster's annotated map on the back. The best way to use this is probably to clip it to the top of the gamemaster screen for easy reference, though I'm not sure how I'd do that in practice.

Now, I've described all of these things as being made of "cardstock," and of course that's going to be up to you to provide when you print them out. Most cardstock that works with an inkjet should work for the adventure materials. For things you're going to be using for a long time, though, like the injury deck and spell cards, I suggest getting some blank tarot-sized cards from The Game Crafter or somewhere, printing the material on sticker paper, and then sliding them into some tarot-sized sleeves (ask at your game store). That'll give you something nice, sturdy, and permanent that you can keep using indefinitely.

Overall, while I do have some specific gripes here and there, this is a terrific package in both retail and PDF form. The game system gives you the flexibility that tactical gamers crave, and there's a wealth of character options (when you're not rolling randomly, at least). This is a system with some real meat to it, and the Starter Kit will give you enough material to decide if it's right for you at a sinister bargain price.

I've heard people say that Zweihander is just WFRP without the sense of humor. First, saying it's "just WFRP" as though that means it has no reason to exist kind of invalidates the entire OSR movement. Why bother creating an OSR game when you can just buy older editions of D&D? Besides, given WFRP's particular sense of "humor," I see that as a glowing review.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZWEIHANDER Fantasy Horror RPG: Starter Kit
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Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
by Floyd G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2023 22:12:24

This is my first Zweihander System game, but I've played quite a bit of it's ancestor system Warhammer. Overall, the system feels streamlined and much more user friendly than that earlier system. The magic system is very "flavorful" but might feel too complicated for some tables.

The world Lore really does a great job of evoking a world where things have just gone seriously wrong and places the player characters into the job of trying to "fix" it...or, at least alleviate some of the worst things happening. From the background material, to the race descriptions and history to the descriptions of towns and cities, everything is reinforcing the central idea that the players, as some of the few still connected to Fate, must be the ones to try and restore at least some of what was lost and oppose the Oligarchs responsible.

Overall, the game is presented will and has beautiful art through out. I do wish that chapters had more bookmarks in the PDF as it isn't necessarily easy to find information when it is needed. Perhaps that will come with more experience with the system, but it doesn't help now.

TL;DR - Great Setting, Great Art, Moderate to High Complexity

EDIT: 1/31/23 - After having played the game for some time now and participating in the Discord forum, I'd reduced my rating from 4 to 2 mainly due to missing and poorly edited rules. There are many issues which have required clarifications and, to date, there is no published errata, making finding these fixes problematic. Additionally, the PDF has virtually no hyperlinking or bookmarks, making it difficult to use.

I still love the setting, but I won't be playing any further Blackbird games once this current run ends.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
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ZWEIHANDER Fantasy Horror RPG: Starter Kit
by Sebastián G. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2022 22:21:37

This is a grat value Starter Set. Coming first from the Zweihänder Core Rulebook, I must say the text inside this set is more clear and succinctly explained. Character creation has been streamlined and the new Ancestries make it very attractive. And overall good product!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZWEIHANDER Fantasy Horror RPG: Starter Kit
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ZWEIHANDER RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
by James W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/10/2022 22:26:49

I have no idea why this game was extruded or who its intended audience was. I've bought some tosh on DriveThru before but this is my only genuine regret. Packs half of WHFRP 2E in thrice the pages. Overengineered, overwritten, and utterly uninspiring - I feel no compulsion to play in this world or engage with these archetypes, and no desire to wade through this morass of text to apply these rules. It feels like something that was assembled by a web crawler.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
ZWEIHANDER RPG: Revised Core Rulebook
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Neverland: A Fantasy Role-Playing Setting
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/08/2022 07:17:46

There are a lot of great books out there which help set redefine standards and create new paradigms for what can be done in both layout, artistic design, and playability. I can only name one or two books other than this one that are A+ examples. Simply put Neverland is a masterclass presentation of a setting book, and I hope I am able to find this book's influence in future works by other authors and designers. I read this book and immediately went to grab Oz the second book in this series by the author. Then I went out to hunt down both hardcovers, because I refuse to not have those on my shelf.

As for the content of the setting, it's amazing. I didn't think I'd ever truly be enamored by Neverland and the Lost Boys as an adult. But I was wrong, the world that was spun from that yarn is both recognizable and immediately new to me. D&D Neverland is easily one of the most brilliant pairings I've let my eyes and brain feast on in a while. I look forward to more books from the author.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Neverland: A Fantasy Role-Playing Setting
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Eternal Night of Lockwood: Adventure for ZWEIHANDER RPG
by Ash F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2022 13:28:38

A really well structured and laid out adventure, I've only read the first 4-5 chapters of the adventure but so far I'm impressed. Having text boxes stating how long it's expected to take, pillars of gameplay & expected themes/tones of the chapter is extremely handy for gauging what to expect with each part. I love the attention to separating information, especially the 'Setting the Scene' text boxes that precedes each scene. Allowing you to focus more on certain senses depending on where the adventure takes you. It's clear and easy for the GM to figure out what elements to focus on with each scene, allowing to bring elements you like to the front and push others to the side.

All in all, a great purchase. I wish more RPG books would take ideas from each other on how to set out adventure books, especially with regards to information to the GM. Also, I absolutely love this style of artwork.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eternal Night of Lockwood: Adventure for ZWEIHANDER RPG
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Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
by Viktor H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2022 09:46:16

A beautiful example of top-tier worldbuilding, with enthralling text and sensible rules.

An amazing product, who I have followed since it popped up as a twitter account sprouting ominous texts from the meandering squire.

I highly recommend it for anyone curious about venturing into OTR, and who adore themes of the occult, dying worlds, and gritty heroes slaughtering they way to success!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blackbirds: The Extinguishing - Core Rulebook
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