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Of Predators and Prey: The Hunters Hunted II Anthology
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2021 13:46:06
Hunter or hunted? - a Mephisto review

Of Predators and Prey

Of Predators and Prey has been released as a companion short story collection to the Hunters hunted II sourcebook for Vampire V20. A total of nine stories are dedicated to the theme of vampire hunters and, as the title suggests, play with the question of who is the hunter and who is the hunted. Thus, sometimes vampires meet surprisingly well-prepared hunters, sometimes unsuspecting humans stumble into misfortune, and sometimes the line blurs as to who the real monsters are.

Thus, the stories cover a wide spectrum of hunters, sometimes ordinary humans who stumble into the vampire menace, and sometimes professionals who are totally dedicated to the hunt. Just as varied are the vampires they must face. In most of these hunts, the outcome is uncertain. The stories are varied, surprising, and exciting and offer what one expects from short stories: entertainment with a few surprises. However, those who expect greater mysteries or connections of the World of Darkness in these stories will be disappointed. With few exceptions, the hunters know so little about the World of Darkness that this background plays only a minor role. In my view, this is also consistent and does not detract from the stories. Those who expect mysteries and strong references to the setting from this book will probably be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a few vampire hunter stories that are worth reading and that also provide inspiration for hunter characters (as protagonists or as antagonists), you will get an entertaining short story collection here.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Of Predators and Prey: The Hunters Hunted II Anthology
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The Making of the Art of Children of the Revolution
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2021 13:42:34
Just a making of - a Mephisto review

The Making of the Art of Children of the Revolution.

Even though the term art appears in the title, this volume is not a typical artbook, but focuses on the "making of" aspect. As such, the book is comparatively text-heavy. In addition to the sketches and stages of development to the finished results of some of the illustrations, sorted by illustrator, one finds the email conversations in the exchange between art director and illustrator.

In this respect, the book could not really appeal to me. While the sketches' development is interesting, the book focuses more on the intermediate stages than the final results. While it's interesting to get a glimpse into the discussion about the motifs, the collection of emails - in the typical colloquial form (including various typos) - may be authentic, but it couldn't captivate me. I was more convinced by the approach of other artbooks to the World of Darkness - personally, I would have liked an artbook representing the whole range of V20 much better.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Making of the Art of Children of the Revolution
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W20 Art of Werewolf the Apocalypse
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2021 13:40:05
Glimpses of the Werewolf's Apocalypse - a Mephisto review

The Art of Werewolf the Apocalypse

Part of the product line of anniversary editions to the World of Darkness are several artbooks. Subtitled A Visual Guide to Werewolf 20th Anniversary Edition, this book gives an impression of the world of werewolves. Divided into six chapters, the book introduces key aspects of the Garou world: transformation, their role as defenders of Gaia, the three central powers of Wyrm, Weaver and Wyld, and the Umbra. In this book, the images are the main focus; the texts are only short explanations of the subject and the mentioning of the illustrator. Unlike other artbooks, this one is not about the process of creating the illustrations but primarily about the graphic representation of the Garou's world in selected illustrations. As expected, a wide range of styles can be found here, but what all the images have in common is that they depict the werewolves' struggle against their enemies in a very vivid way - with large, fearsome werewolves, grotesque monsters, brutal fights, and mysterious spirit worlds.

The book provides an atmospheric insight into both the wide range of illustrations and the game world. Those who already own the Werewolf Anniversary Edition books will, of course, already have the illustrations in their collection. Still, those looking for a focused look at the graphic design will get an artbook worth seeing here, with the commentary focusing on the game world rather than the artistic creation process - which, in my view, is the better approach.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
W20 Art of Werewolf the Apocalypse
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W20 Art of Changing Breeds: A Visual Guide to the Fera
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2021 13:38:06
The art of Fera - a Mephisto review

The Art of Changing Breeds - A visual Guide to Fera

Several art books have been published for the World of Darkness roleplaying games' anniversary editions, each with a slightly different focus and approach. For the graphic companion book to Changing Breeds, the subtitle sums up the approach well: A visual guide to the Fera (the other shapeshifters beyond werewolves). After the introduction, the book works its way along the various Fera types, and the author, Mike Chaney, provides some insights on the choice of illustrators. In doing so, he also juxtaposes the briefing information the artists received with the results, comments on the artists' selections, provides little anecdotes and offers insights into the approach to the various Fera. Through this and some illustrations from older books, the reader also learns how the presentation has changed over the 20 years leading up to the anniversary edition. At the heart of the book, however, are the illustrations themselves. Here the reader is presented with various highlights, the signature characters, and studies of the various form that the Fera can take. In this respect, the reader actually receives a visual guide to the various Fera. Besides, sketches and preliminary designs show the path from the idea to the finished illustration and offer a glimpse behind the scenes. Although the little glimpses into the creative processes are interesting, it's the stunning illustrations that make this book. And even though Werewolf was never my favorite of the World of Darkness games, the book managed to pique my interest in the Fera.

Unlike the 'real' sourcebook, you have to do without any game information in the artbook, but you get insights into the graphic process and the illustrators' work. Graphic fans will get a nice insight here, which is worthwhile if you don't own the sourcebook itself and just want to enjoy the graphics.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
W20 Art of Changing Breeds: A Visual Guide to the Fera
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Chicago By Night (Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition)
by Edward C. O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/03/2021 20:58:28

the pdf is what i will be reffering to in this review

this book is how Vampire should feel and look. meaty and introduces a new clan, and shows how Chicago's night life is and it is really a vampire game.

Onyx Path knows more about Vampire than Paradox does, and it shows in the writing. the art is really well done and the windy city is a legendary setting for your chronicle in the ctiy. what the landscape is, how the Camerilla run the city, where are the Anarchs, and how the Lasombra play in their rise in the Camerilla.

this is an excellent place to start for your new STs and the Lasombra are a great clan to play as, although the Oblivion power is something i feel shouldn't have been re-worked but it works.

definitely worth getting this sourcebook



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chicago By Night (Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition)
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The Secret of Vinsen's Tomb: A Pugmire Jumpstart
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/01/2021 13:14:35
Introduction to a world of dogs and dungeons - a Mephisto review

The Secret of Vinsens Tomb

The Secret of Vinsens Tomb is the starter book for the Pugmire role-playing game, containing the reduced rules, sample characters, and a short adventure. The role-playing game presents itself as a typical fantasy role-playing game based on the classic D&D. Accordingly, character development focuses on attributes, and there are the typical rolls such as ability rolls, saving throws, and attack rolls. Besides, characters can get bonuses based on their level, and there is also a mechanic for luck (which is a common pool that players can use to reroll dice rolls). Furthermore, in addition to these basic rules, the combat rules are presented in a compact form, and there is a brief look at spells. Thus, the rules section takes up just under 20 pages.

What makes The Secret of Vinsens Tomb unusual, however, is the approach that in this fantasy world, players take on the role of dogs, which have apparently evolved after the disappearance of humanity and now rule the world along with cats and other animals. Even though the various breeds of dogs play a role here - at least in the atmosphere - the animals have evolved to the point where they can walk upright and speak, making them very humanized. While the rule base of the role-playing game is classic, the player background is thus special.

The second part of the book is made up of the adventure, where the players have to follow the trail to a tomb in a few scenes, where the showdown takes place. In this respect, the scenario is also classically structured and leads beginners with detailed explanations through the story. The book concludes with several sample characters connected by their background to form an immediately playable group.

The Secret of Vinsens Tomb does a good job of introducing the basic rules and general setting of the role-playing game and making it immediately tangible in the form of a playable adventure with sample characters. Even though the approach with dogs as player characters is unusual, this setting does not meet my personal taste at all. However, it is conceivable that young beginner gamers - i.e. children - will find an interesting incentive here.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Secret of Vinsen's Tomb: A Pugmire Jumpstart
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Harm City: An Adventure for Trinity Continuum: Æon
by Sasha M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2021 00:41:06

This is a solid Aeon one shot with a lot of potential to adapt to an existing campaign (as I did) or pick up and run to try out the system. It is well organized - you do want to read through it before you run it, but once you're familiar with where the adventure is going it's easy to glance down and find what you need. As someone still figuring out Storypath, it's been a good example of how to write my own session notes.

The content is divided by scene, with the 'core clues' the characters should discover and suggested difficulty for key tasks seperated for quick reference. Scenes are designed to be flexible, with suggestions for different strategies your players might take or places and npcs you might improvise. Stats for major npcs are included as you need them. I would have appreciated a bit more guidance on running combat for a psion npc - I'd suggest reading up on the relevant aptitude and figuring out a few options and their dice pools ahead of time. If you happen to have Terra Firma it's worth reading more about a certain faction, but not necessary to run the adventure.

It took my party of 3 (somewhat advanced characters) 2 sessions, totaling 5-6 hrs. We skipped through some scenes (I didn't end up using the 'action set piece') but my existing campaign (which had me move the adventure to a different planet) added content, too. Final combat was very easy after the abberants the group has fought previously, but the mystery and social elements kept things interesting. Psionics (clear, vk, pk) were helpful, but not adventure-breaking, and you could definitely run this with all talents if you wanted to.

Overall, great product, definitely would recommend and will keep an eye out for more...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Harm City: An Adventure for Trinity Continuum: Æon
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Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought
by Kyle A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2021 02:39:14

I love this book. It gives the dragon bloods a great unique feel and shows even weaker how dangours they can be. DBs are my favorite and this system doesnt disappoint. My only complaint is Water Dragon Bloods are kinda weak and no elemental combos for team work



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought
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Theoi Expanded
by Chazz K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/22/2021 15:52:48

This is a great look at expanding the Greek Gods available for Scion. I would say the best value would be having a consolidated list of additional gods with potential storyhooks based on their place in the modern setting of Scion. I especially love the elevation of Greek heroes that would have been Scions in ancient times to godhood.

But this guide doesn't end with the gods! Chapter 2 offers a bunch of storytelling ideas that fit with the Theoi as a pantheon along with a bunch of player options for new Relics and two new well designed Denizen paths.

Finally, Chapter 3 stats up a bunch of classic Greek monsters, which are handy to have for use.

Layout and art use is solid and professional.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Theoi Expanded
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Promethean the Created 2nd Edition
by Edward C. O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/14/2021 12:57:59

this game, is... interesting, on one hand it is the definitive book that shows how Chronicles of Darkness themes and tone should be! i mean, playing as a frankenstein monster? all the while being chased, hunted down, while trying to atain humanity? it's really good!

i bought the physical book and it stands out nicely on my book shelf!

the positives aside, my biggest problem with this game, is that it isn't group friendly. this game is perfect for one-on-one play, however it's really difficult to have 2-4 players play a Promethean. however, if you want a Promethean, they work for a mixed Chronicles game, and they make great antagonists and npcs.

i give this a 4 star because while the themes here are excellent, gameplay wise, it works only for one on one play, but it's great information for a NPCs or antagonist.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Promethean the Created 2nd Edition
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Demon Translation Guide
by Adolfo D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2021 03:04:14

A totaly must have if you, like me, didn't liked the whole technology thing from the God Machine Chronicle. My complaints are two: The translation guide from Vampire the Masquerade to Vampire Requiem where better organized.

THEY DON'T HAVE CONVERTED CHARACTER SHEET to use The Fallen on the Descent system. So you will need to print The Descent sheet and improvise.

Update:

Unfortunately, after re-reading Demon the Fallen on the old world of darkness and then trying to run a game using this one, I found myself frustrated and having to carry 3 books in my hands: The core of demon, this and then the demon the descent. And not only that, but the organization here is terrible and many mechanics are missing explanation. They didn't even tell how to convert the fact that in apocalyptic form a demon can absorb lethal damage as bashing and I had to come up with a way based on what I know from playing Vampire the Requiem. Temporary/Permanent Torment and Faith? They converted it as breaking points and some sort of power attribute that completely destroys the original way it was conceived on the first book and again, I had to come up with a way to fill the gap and bring those things back.

If you want to run a demon the fallen game, this book will offer you a shortcut, but keep in mind that you'll need to do some heavy lifting to make it work.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Translation Guide
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Hunter: Mortal Remains
by Edward C. O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2021 14:48:23

a good source book to "update" hunter to the God-Machine Chronicles rules, plus how to hunt the newer monsters is a bonus. my only complaint, is that i wish there was a hardcover option. also the updated pdf character sheet comes from this book, just an FYI



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hunter: Mortal Remains
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Exalted 3rd Edition
by Jens T. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2021 07:34:11

Let me start by saying I love the Exalted setting, and the setting work done in this version is outstanding. However, after having played two campaigns as the storyteller I've finally given up on third edition. The system is overwhelming. Not only does it have a very steep learning curve, but the sheer number of charm (comparable to spells or feats from other systems) and their complexity forced the storyteller into a constant state of information overload. They introduced a "quick" npc system, but the system failed to streamline npc charms in any useful way.

Secondly, the system introduced the concept of fluid initiative. Initiative not only serves to determine your turn order, but it is also both a sort of hit point and your damage dice pool... and it is very swingy. It is extremely hard to turn the tables on someone, once you are behind. Further more action economy hits very hard in this edition. While "realistic" the core mechanics favor superior numbers. This means that in order to challenge five players you need at least five NPCs of roughly the same power-level. Here the complexity of the game strikes again for running five NPCs of such power-level is extremely time-consuming. As such a battle can easily take around 5-10 hours in real time...

Thirdly, the quality of the charms vary wildly. Some of them seem very polished and integrate into the base system in fun ways, a lot of them are simply dice adders adding little to the actual story, and some seems to be wierdly out of sync with the base game. An example of the latter is the number of charms using what the game calls "defining intimacies". Defining intimacies are core values that your character would be willing to kill or die for, and realisticly a character should rarely have more than one or two of those. However, some charms seem to assume that you have a handful or more (integrity charm tree I'm looking at you), while other are capable of giving people a defining intimacy towards you with no resisted roll... We had one player in the group giving everyone else a defining intimacy of lust towards his character. That turned out quite anticlimatic because people had a hard time actually playing out the intimacy on a defining level. The charm in question would have been much more reasonable if it only gave a major intimacy. Also... the Craft rules... just don't go there. It is a dark place.

Speaking of intimacies they are at their core a very good idea, but the whole social conflict system can feel a bit artificial. Sure the gm can assign bonus and penalty dice based on the roleplaying performance (stunts) and the way PCs frame their requests, but for solars focused on social conflict it rarely matters. The excellency alone can give you such a big load of dice, that you can pretty much start building any intimacy you want in another character... if your suggestion isn't vetoed with a willpower point. So depending on your perspective it is either overpowered or completely useless.

In the end I would like to offer a piece of advice. If you want to play Exalted 3rd Edition I really recommend a small group. 1 to 3 players would probably work fine. Smaller numbers speed up combat, and make it way easier on the storyteller to construct challenging and credible encounters. Personally I will probably be using the Fate Core system the next time I want to run something in the Exalted universe... alternatively I will be waiting for the Exalted Essence edition, which Onyx Path has announce. It might be the Exalted Light that I've been wanting all along.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted 3rd Edition
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Esoterica of Mars
by Patryk A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2021 18:33:05

DISCLAIMER: My heavily modified campaign has been on hiatus for over a year now so I may be viewing this product through rose-tinted glasses. I also acknowledge that the original book for Cavaliers of Mars has its share of flaws.

The book here features both adventures and resources to mine. It's pretty well laid out (in a cross between old-style WhiteWolf Vampire and WhiteWolf Scarred Lands d20 3E era way), with a focus on providing material that is instantly usable.

An example of such approach would be that a typical location entry goes like this: a title, an introduction a few paragraphs long depicting the locale, followed by short lists of action hooks, characters and hazards.

Furthermore, the lightness of the system enables presenting elaborate characters in just a few lines of text (page 14th example): Beatria Monterez, Red Martian noble duelist (Quick Blade d10, Cashflow d8, Noble Connections d6; Combat 2 Strike/1 Parry; Trouble: Quick to Anger). Red Martian is a species available to players, noble duelist is a descriptive description of one's calling, with rated features following (an average human would probably use d6 here, d10 is exceptionally high for an NPC).

The setting of Cavaliers of Mars is one of high adventure. There are mysteries, exotic and wondrous challenges, conflicts abound, and all of this set against slowly declining glory of terraformed Mars of fantasy far future. NPCs

The book content in short (the counts include full page images):

Book One - City of Towered Tombs features a set of locations in a city of Vance, a few personality archetypes followed by NPC implementations, list of political factions that could be either allies or adversaries with action hooks.

Introduction (to the city of Vance),

  • 5 pages (four of which are full page illustrations.

Chapter 1: Locations (7 locations - see above for the format), no maps or pictures. If I were to run a story set there, I would probably get a few photos of Santorini streets (minus the water, plus some photoshopped reds or sepia). The places are evocative and easy to drop into a game, though if the players ask too many questions, you need to be prepared. Personally, I would make sure to have a few ideas prepared for quick escape routes, social complications or a generic map for swashbucklers playing hide and seek.

  • 8 pages

Chapter 2: Characters (16 archetypes, plus 2-3 characters each; a character is a paragraph of stats, and then a long paragraph on their background). Among the archetypes there are: Solitary Wit, Weary Soldier, Survivor, Mistreated Villain, Malign Influence. It's easy to assemble a full cast of colorful people to make sure your PCs have someone to talk to.

  • 15 pages

Chapter 3: Factions (9 organizations; their basics, their good side, their bad side and related hooks). The information is brief and quite lacking (no organization charts, no spheres of influence or resources), but that's not necessarily an issue - there are NPCs in the previous chapter, so all you need to do is map the stuff on the fly (to make sure that you remember whom you made an employee of and with what agenda).

  • 8 pages

Book Two is a campaign (quite a lot of optional material) written in Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs fashion. It is intended to be high adventure, so expect chases, magic, plot twists, and the unspeakable and the unfathomable. I would hate to give away the story, so here are a few details hopefully sufficient to make an informed decision. The core cast sports simple agendas, but the way they may go about them aren't necessarily so. So it's easy to follow the opening of the narrative and the key question is what happens next. A GM will need to juggle groups of influence, and to this end in the group descriptions there are Action and Trouble sections, the former to create an opportunity for an action sequence (not necessarily a fight or chase), the latter to introduce a complication once certain conditions are met.

  • 17 pages

Heartily recommended.

NOTES:

  1. A GM should be ready to map the story as it goes - listing stuff touched by the PCs, so that it can be revisited later.

  2. Myself, I have been charmed by the game, and I plan to run it as soon as the C-Flood subsides to the point offline gaming becomes viable. The high adventure plays best when you can loudly articulate the tension, and envelop the players in a cacophony of the bizarre that the Cavaliers of Mars are.

  3. If the system is not wholly to your liking, consider running it with CortexPrime. The NPC stats convert practically one to one (just ignore the combat part). Generate PCs using two stat sets (Abilities and Skills, Methods and Motivations or something similar), 2-4 distinctions to describe character's story (origin, careers, inclinations and specialties), and use Talents as tags that add to an action allow for more at the cost of temporarily lowering one stat (for example, Network of Whispers [talent] added to Respect [Motivation stat] and Eloquence [Method stat] means that you rely on your informants to get juicy bits, and the information should be good enough to justify temporarily lowering a stat). Lower Resolve by one step and use as HP for NPCs. And you're done.


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Esoterica of Mars
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Pages of the Demigods
by Alain G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2021 04:37:31

This is a really neat product if you want to develop the demigods in your Scarred Lands game, including some of the most obscure demigods from Asherak for good measure (that's one of the strongest point for me, to understand how these gods plan to expand their base of worship to Ghelspad, it's reall cool). You get a bunch of NPCs with nice backstories and purposes, which can make really colorful encounters (some could be encountered during Dead Man's Rust, or on a Fenrilik campaign), plus the stats of a demigods avatar if you want to go kill a god (NB: that could be training for the finale of a certain SV campaign XD)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pages of the Demigods
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