Pegasus Digital
Browse Categories











Back
Other comments left by this customer:
You must be logged in to rate this
ALIEN RPG Colonial Marines Operations Manual
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2022 13:38:31
Welcome to the Marines - a Mephisto review

Colonial Marines Operations Manual

The Colonial Marines Operations Manual is the first major sourcebook for the Alien roleplaying game and focuses on the organization that is probably the most interesting for many players: the Colonial Marines. The book starts with background information on the history and organization of the military.

Of course, a chapter on character creation is not to be missed in this book, and here the focus is on the so-called Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), which allow for additional differentiation of Marine characters. There are also random events for the characters' backstory, as well as a few new talents. In this respect, the character material is limited, but this is not a disadvantage from my perspective.

More tangible help is provided to the player characters in the form of a detailed equipment chapter, which presents an arsenal of vehicles, ranging from the classic APC to interceptors, artillery guns and spaceships, in addition to various weapons and armor for both the Colonial Marines and other organizations.

The fact that only about 100 of the 300+ pages are devoted to this background, with the rest focusing on the included campaign, clearly indicates that this volume is intended to be less a sourcebook than a comprehensive campaign book. To that end, the book first introduces a Marine unit to which the player characters belong. Of course, the unit's frigate as their headquarters is part of the description. The chapter also explains typical missions and thus provides hooks for designing your own missions and incorporating them into the campaign as regular intermediate missions. The chapter also has insightful advice on how to deal with the issue of non-player characters, especially in terms of ranks and combat, and provides helpful information here.

As a preparation for the campaign, first, some new star systems are introduced, which play a role in the campaign, but also expand the overall background. In particular, a human-like alien species from the Arcturus system is presented. The game mother gets insights into various secret military projects that also make their appearance in the campaign. The introduction of the larger setting follows, namely the border war that breaks out between the UAC and the UPP (which apparently involves additional parties). In fact, this border war is already touched upon in Destroyer of Worlds, and here the plot continues accordingly. The actual campaign includes seven missions described in detail, which lead the players further and further into the war, but above all into a sinister conspiracy. Of course, the Xenomorphs are involved, but other complications play important roles as well. It's up to the player characters' choices, on which side they position themselves and how much they reveal the conspiracy.

I found the first background chapters with timeline and various military operations confusing to read, as many abbreviations are used and the compact information overwhelms with a great deal of trivia so that the larger context is sometimes lost. Still, it helps to get an impression of how the Colonial Marines fit into the world of Alien, what their role is, and who their opponents are. The character chapter provides some small additions instead of essential material. While this start seemed somewhat slow, the campaign could fully convince me quickly. Of course, the campaign uses aspects that you would inevitably expect: conspiracies and corporate intrigue, horrific alien lifeforms and the constant fight for survival. However, these are aspects that are so deeply rooted in the basic setting of Alien that anything else would have been surprising. Here, in my view, both typical elements of the Alien universe like the Xenomorphs and also the Engineers and the corporations are used, but combined with new elements like the border war with the UPP. The book even reflects the original Alien setting in the 80s, as e.g. the Cold War is reflected here in the confrontation of the American Colonial Marines against the Union of Progressive States. Nevertheless, the book refrains from painting this conflict in black and white. The campaign should be very challenging for the player characters and also requires some preparation by the game mother to cover the various plot threads and options. The comprehensive maps of the facilities, bases and starships help to illustrate the setting. Besides, the book offers the fitting layout of the core rulebook, supported by impressive illustrations. If you want to play Alien with a Colonial Marine campaign, you will probably need this book less because of the rules and background material, but you will be provided with a comprehensive and challenging campaign that should captivate you for many sessions (but might also cost one or two player characters).

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ALIEN RPG Colonial Marines Operations Manual
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

ALIEN RPG Destroyer of Worlds
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2022 13:36:11
This time it's war - a Mephisto review

Destroyer of Worlds

Destroyer of Worlds is the second part of the Alien role-playing campaign that began with Chariot of the Gods. This time, however, the players take on new roles, namely that of Colonial Marines stationed on Ariarcus in the Kruger 60 system. The base is located on a cold moon, far away in the frontier. Originally, Ariarcus was a successful oil production colony, but there was unrest that led to the military taking over the moon and adding a garrison. After the neighboring system is invaded by the Union of Progressive People (UPP), most of the troops stationed on the moon are sent out for a counter-offensive. Although a large part of the civilian inhabitants has long abandoned the colony, the remaining colonists now want to flee from a possible invasion by the UPP.

Against this backdrop, the player characters are sent out on a special mission to track down four deserted Marines who have stolen military secrets. But this is only the prelude to a three-act horror story. Finding the deserters in a colony full of disgruntled colonists who cannot leave the moon due to a blockade is no easy task. After locating the Marines, however, the story really picks up: not only does the war reach the colony, but dangerous alien creatures turn the mission into a brutal fight for survival.

Destroyer of Worlds, as the second part of the trilogy, has clear parallels to the second film in the original Alien series. Here, the focus is on a group of Marines, and the subtitle of Alien 2 “This time it's war” would fit Destroyer of Worlds perfectly. Chances are that one or more of the pre-generated characters will not survive the story. The personal goals of the various characters also help to increase the challenge through additional tensions. A new element, the story cards that come into play as the game progresses, complicating things even further. Similar to the personal agenda, players earn points if they follow the story cards.

The setting is extensively described and offers various maps of the major facilities. While there is an overarching story arc, there is a large number of optional scenes that depend heavily on the actions of the player characters. Included are various handouts in the form of maps, pre-generated characters, and equipment cards in the usual format for Alien.

Those who enjoyed Chariot of the Gods will find a fresh and even harder challenge in Destroyer of Worlds. Although the story is only vaguely connected to the first adventure from the player's perspective, this adventure confronts the players with an exciting conflict and a good dose of horror from the Alien universe. Moreover, the additional material such as the maps, the equipment cards but also the personal agenda cards and intrigues of the various players and non-player characters greatly enrich the story. Conveniently, all necessary information about the Xenomorphs is once again summarized in this adventure. From my point of view, Destroyer of Worlds is definitely worth a recommendation, provided the players are willing to let their characters suffer (and probably die) and the game mother is willing to spend some time to prepare the complex and multi-faceted setting.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ALIEN RPG Destroyer of Worlds
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

V5 - Vampire - Die Maskerade - Auld Sanguine (PDF) als Download kaufen
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/31/2022 10:56:14
Neujahrsvorsatz: Mehr Vampire spielen - eine Mephisto Rezension

Auld Sanguine

Als „Neujahrs“-Geschichte bietet Auld Sanguine ein kurzes Einführungsabenteuer für Vampire V5. Die Spielercharaktere sollen auf einer Silvesterparty Kontakt mit einer Online-Streamerin aufnehmen, die sich okkulten Themen wie Paganismus und Hexerei widmet und nun offenbar bedroht wird. Dadurch geraten die Spielercharaktere schnell in einen Konflikt mit anderen Vampiren und Mächten.

Ohne mehr über das Szenario und dessen Hintergrund zu verraten, bietet Auld Sanguine eine kurze, gradlinige Geschichte, der es gelingt, mehrere verschiedene typische Szenen für das Rollenspiel Vampire zu präsentieren. So gibt es sowohl die Möglichkeit, mit sozialen Fähigkeiten und Disziplinen zu agieren, als auch mehr oder weniger unvermeidliche Kämpfe auszufechten. Hinzu kommt ein wenig Ermittlungsarbeit, wenn die Spieler gut vorbereitet ins Finale gehen wollen. Das Szenario, das über den Zeitraum von nur wenigen Stunden spielt, ist kompakt und bietet eine leichte Herausforderung, die es den Spielern erlaubt, ihre eigene Herangehensweise zu wählen. Es kann sowohl als Intermezzo in eine laufende Chronik eingebunden werden als auch die Möglichkeit für einen One-Shot oder ein Testspiel bieten. Für letzteren Fall bietet das Abenteuer auch gleich sechs vorgefertigte Charaktere.

Auld Sanguine bietet ein einfaches und solides Startabenteuer – und das zu einem unschlagbaren Preis. Insbesondere auch als Einstieg in Vampire V5 kann Auld Sanguine gut genutzt werden. Wer jedoch Informationen über die größeren Zusammenhänge von Vampire oder Regelergänzungen etc. erwartet, geht leer aus. Aus meiner Sicht ist Auld Sanguine aber ein Abenteuer, das auf jeden Fall einen Blick wert ist und gerade für neue Spielleiter und Spielrunden einen einfachen, kurzen Spieleinstieg bietet.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
V5 - Vampire - Die Maskerade - Auld Sanguine (PDF) als Download kaufen
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

V5 - Vampire - Die Maskerade Kompendium (PDF) als Download kaufen
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/31/2022 10:54:15
Mehr Vampire, Menschen und Ghule für Vampire V5 - eine Mephisto Rezension

Vampire Kompendium

Das Vampire Kompendium ist ein kleines ergänzendes Quellenbuch für Vampire V5. Das erste Kapitel widmet sich drei bisher fehlenden Clans, Ravnos, Salubri und Tzimisce (wobei die ersten beiden streng genommen keine Clans mehr sind), und deren Fähigkeiten. Damit werden die spielbaren Vampirclans um mehrere der üblichen Verdächtigen erweitert und ihre entsprechenden Disziplinskräfte vorgestellt. Auffallend ist hierbei, dass die bisher individuellen Disziplinen dieser Clans in bestehende Disziplinen integriert wurden, sodass etwa die Fleischformen-Fähigkeiten der Tzimisce nun in der Disziplin Protean enthalten sind.

Im nächsten Kapitel werden die Beziehungen der verschiedenen Clans zum sozialen Konstrukt der Klüngel vorgestellt und dabei aufgezeigt, wie die verschiedenen Clans einen Klüngel bereichern können. Ganz konkret gibt es hierfür sogar für jeden Clan einen speziellen Vorteil, den der entsprechende Vampir auswählen kann und von dem sein gesamter Klüngel dann profitiert.

Das dritte Kapitel dreht sich um alternative Spielerrollen innerhalb von Vampire, nämlich die der Sterblichen und der Ghule. Hier werden einige konkrete Charaktererschaffungsmechanismen vorgestellt, hauptsächlich aber der Kontext geliefert, wie sich solche Charaktere in eine Chronik einfügen können. Hierbei geht es auch darum, was spieltechnisch zu beachten ist, damit diese auch neben Vampiren eine interessante Rolle übernehmen können.

Abschließend gibt es Errata und Regelupdates, wodurch einige Dinge neu erklärt und einige Werte berichtigt werden. Das Vampire Kompendium ist nicht nur aufgrund seines Preises (Pay-what-you-want) lohnenswert, sondern eine essenzielle Ergänzung für Vampire V5, werden hier nicht nur drei Clans und ihre Kräfte vorgestellt, sondern auch zusätzliches Spielmaterial angeboten. Die Tatsache, dass diese Clans ihre Spezialdisziplinen verlieren und diese in normale Disziplinen subsumiert werden, ist eine regeltechnische Entscheidung, die sicherlich manchen Spielrunden nicht gefallen wird. Andererseits passt dies zu dem Ansatz der 5. Edition, das Spielsystem zu vereinfachen und zusammenzufassen (hier überrascht es, dass es die besonderen Tzimisce-Ghulvarianten der Szlachta und Vohzd es ins Kompendium geschafft haben). In dieser Hinsicht kann das Vampire Kompendium Spielrunden von Vampire V5 unbedingt empfohlen werden.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
V5 - Vampire - Die Maskerade Kompendium (PDF) als Download kaufen
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Fate of Cthulhu Timeline • The Rise of Hastur
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/15/2022 09:25:57

Just another apocalypse? - a Mephisto review

The Rise of Hastur

Another timeline has been released for Fate of Cthulhu, this time focusing on the infamous Great Old One Hastur. As usual, the player characters have to save the world. The apocalypse that Hastur triggers starts harmlessly with an oil spill and mysterious suicides in the water – but then quickly leads to much more bizarre effects, which then escalate with a very extreme end of the world. As usual, there are several triggering events in this timeline that the player characters must stop accordingly. The characters have to stop the initial ritual, help a musician whose music can dampen the general depression, and or even find Cassilda who could stop Hastur.

Perhaps I was biased being focused on the classic King in Yellow scenario (which plays no role here), but this timeline for Fate of Cthulhu failed to convince me. Both the flow of this apocalypse is too bizarre for me (especially when four gigantic giant falcons appear), and the possibilities of how the players can avert the apocalypse do not really make sense to me. The approach of presenting Hastur as a mysterious concept and less as a physical entity certainly does justice to the mythos. But for me, both the threat and the way the characters can avert it were less concrete, threatening, and exciting than the previous timelines, so that for me The Rise of Hastur is one of the weaker titles of the series.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Fate of Cthulhu Timeline • The Rise of Hastur
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

World of Darkness: Paranormal Investigator's Handbook
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/01/2022 02:55:10
Monster hunting in the World of Darkness - a Mephisto review

Paranormal Investigator's Handbook

Although the Paranormal Investigators Handbook is, according to its cover, a sourcebook for Wraith: The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition, it actually serves as a companion volume to the spin-off Ghost Hunters, in which player characters take on the denizens of the underworld as human mediums and ghost hunters. Accordingly, the book adds several aspects to the background.

It starts with material for the player characters in the form of equipment, advantages and disadvantages, and new psychic powers and gifts such as Psychic Healing and Psychic Vampirism. In addition, a concept is presented to handle ghost hunting stories – with various types of ghosts, the effect of different approaches depending on the ghost type, and a system to determine the escalation and success/failure of ghost hunts.

In the Monster Hunting chapter, alternatives to wraiths are presented, namely cryptids such as the Chupacabra, mythical creatures such as Banshees and Griffins, and even zombies created by disease. A few ghost archetypes are not missing either. While some monsters are correlated to the other World of Darkness systems, creatures that were not previously part of the canon also appear here.

The book concludes with a few groupings of necromancers, hedge magicians, and esoteric orders, which are briefly presented with backgrounds and memorable personalities, each also bringing a unique ability in the form of Numina. The range here is wide – from necromancers who find their gift in fire to a cult of formerly possessed people to fans of a mysterious rock band or an aristocratic hunting party. However, all organizations have in common that some mysteries and horrors surround them.

The Paranormal Investigator's Handbook is a small expansion for Ghost Hunter that brings a few character additions and background approaches. With the monster chapter, it provides an approach to steer the game focus away from wraiths and other canonical creatures of the World of Darkness. Thus, this sourcebook is not essential to the game, but is a good way for interested groups to further expand the scope of the game – offering a “unique monster per story”-style of play.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: Paranormal Investigator's Handbook
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Marseille - PDF
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/01/2022 02:52:38
A trip to dream of - a Mephisto review

Operation Marseille

When Section M receives evidence that agents of the Black Sun are planning a dangerous ritual in Marseille, player agents are sent out to prevent the worst from happening. Stop the occult experiments and then escape the city undetected – that's the simple mission description. However, the mission will offer its unique challenges – as usual.

Operation Marseille is an adventure for Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 that jumps right into the action – where other adventures would end in the finale. The story only takes place for a few hours, but this short time frame will challenge the player characters. Once the Black Sun's plans are thwarted, it's a matter of arriving at the rendezvous point on time and avoiding the enemies looking for the agents. And, of course, other problems plague the characters.

Operation Marseille is fast-paced and finds an exciting balance between the challenge of operating as agents behind enemy lines and a mythos threat from an unexpected direction. Operation Marseille is a well-suited mission for a compact, fast-paced evening of play that can keep players on their toes from start to finish.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Marseille - PDF
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Cthulhu: De Vermis Mysteriis
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/23/2022 14:52:23

Von wurmzerfressenen Folianten - ein Mephisto Review

De Vermis Mysteriis

De Vermis Mysteriis ist nicht nur der Titel eines der gefährlicheren Bücher aus dem Cthulhu-Mythos, sondern auch der Quellenband für die aktuelle 7. Edition, der sich dem Thema Mythos-Bücher in breitem Umfang widmet (die frühere Edition des Buchs war das Necronomicon). Der Unterschied zur früheren Ausgabe – das verrät bereits die Einleitung – liegt darin, dass Randbeschreibung (und z.B. auch Szenarioideen) weggelassen wurden und für die Geschichten um die Bücher ein Generatorsystem eingebaut wurde.

Nach der ganz kurzen Übersicht, was Nutzen und Gefahren von Mythos-Büchern sind, stellt der Quellenband Mythos-Bücher in ihren verschiedenen Formen vor – die eben nicht immer dicke Folianten sein müssen - auch wenn das Thema der Buchherstellung von der Antike bis heute präsentiert wird.

Mit dem Mythos-Buch-Generator können einfach per Tabellen eigene Mythos-Bücher, sowie deren Merkwürdigkeiten erwürfelt werden. Während diese Kapitel etwas über die ersten 30 Seiten füllen, folgen gebündelt in mehreren „Bibliotheken“ hunderte von Büchern – von den legendären Werken wie dem Buch des Eibon oder dem Necronomicon über die immer noch gefährlich vom Mythos durchsetzten Werke und Einzelstücke wie den Tagebüchern berüchtigter Charaktere bis hin zu reinen okkulten Bänden. Dabei werden ggfs. auch die verschiedenen Übersetzungen und Versionen nebeneinander präsentiert und mit Hintergrund, Auswirkungen auf Fertigkeiten und Stabilität sowie den enthaltenen Zaubern beschrieben.

Auch wenn die Einzelbeschreibungen kurz und kompakt sind, erschlägt dieser Band den Leser mit einer langen Auflistung von Mythos-Büchern, die ausreichen, um dutzende wenn nicht noch mehr Kampagnen zu füllen. Hier sind die ersten Kapitel und vielleicht die Zusammenstellung der berüchtigtsten Mythos-Bücher spannend, doch danach ist das Buch in erster Linie ein Nachschlagewerk, das sich mit dem eigenen Mythos-Buch-Generator ein wenig ad absurdum führt. Auch wenn das Buch handwerklich gut gemacht und geschrieben ist, hielt sich bei mir der Lesespaß in Grenzen. Auch die schiere Menge des Materials stellt dessen Nutzbarkeit für die Spielrunde – bis auf in kleinen Teilen – infrage. Für Cthulhu-Enthusiasten ist das Buch eine umfassende Hintergrundergänzung, die aber für das praktische Spiel nur sehr begrenzt relevant ist.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu: De Vermis Mysteriis
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Cthulhu: Berlin
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/23/2022 14:40:19

Sex, Drugs und Mythos-Mächte - ein Mephisto-Review

Berlin – Welthauptstadt der Sünde

Berlin ist eine Reise wert – und für Cthulhu nun auch ein Quellenbuch, dass die deutsche Hauptstadt in den 1920ern vorstellt. Nach dem 1. Weltkrieg, in einer Zeit in der politische Krawalle, wilde Exzesse, Wirtschaftskrisen und neue Freiheiten aufeinandertreffen, ist Berlin eine Stadt der Gegensätze und ein Schmelztiegel der verschiedensten Strömungen. So beginnt das Buch mit einer kurzen Vorstellung der Stadt, um die nötige Kulisse für den Kampf gegen den Mythos und einen Hintergrund für die Spielercharaktere zu liefern. Für die Investigatoren gibt es daher gleich ein paar Infos zu den Berufen und Erfahrungspakete wie den Straßenkämpfer oder den Verbindungsstudenten. Einige Organisationen, die auch als Einstieg in die Abenteuer bieten können, runden diesen Aspekt ab und reichen von der okkulten Bürgerwehr des Unabhängigen Ordens der Eule über die Hilde-Film bis zum Landsberger-Mieterbund.

Danach wird die Geschichte der Stadt und ihre Topologie kompakt präsentiert, wobei es weniger darum geht, alles umfassend vorzustellen, als vielmehr einige Beispiele und Aspekte zu liefern, die dem Viertel seinen besonderen Charakter verleihen. Einen besonderen Fokus wirft das Buch dabei auf die Unterwelt der Stadt und vor allem die Prostitution in ihren verschiedensten Formen, so dass Berlin stellenweise wie ein einziges städtefüllendes Rotlichtviertel wirkt, in dem die Berliner nicht von Luft und Liebe, sondern von Kokain und Sex leben.

Einige ausgewählte Orte – Museen, aber auch Unterhaltungsetablissments – bekommen noch einmal eine ausführlichere Beschreibung. Ein paar Zufallstabellen für Begegnungen dienen dazu, die Stadt lebhaft darzustellen. Neben den darin vorkommenden namenlosen Berlinern werden auch diverse bekannte Persönlichkeiten von Berthold Brecht über Marlene Dietrich und Albert Einstein bis Joseph Goebbels und Paul von Hindenburg vorgestellt, die zumindest zeitweise in Berlin gelebt haben.

Nach dieser weltlichen Vorstellung geht es an den Mythos – einerseits in Form einiger Mythos-Kulte, die in der Stadt aktiv sind, und andererseits in Form von einem breiten Arsenal an Szenarioideen. Allerdings braucht der geneigte Spielleiter diese Ideen nicht aufzugreifen, bietet das Buch doch drei umfassende Abenteuer, die lose verknüpft gut zehn Jahre überspannen. In Der Teufel frisst Fliegen geraten die Investigatoren mit einem Serienmörder in Konflikt und werden in eine Geschichte um eine angebliche Zarentochter und politische Attentate verwickelt. In Tänze des Lasters, des Grauens und der Ekstase drängt es – angelockt von einer bekannten Tänzerin – eine mächtige und fremdartige Entität nach Berlin, die droht, die gesamte Stadt ins lasterhafte Chaos zu stürzen. Bei Schreckfilm geraten die Investigatoren über die Filmwelt Berlins in Konflikt mit einem Hexenkult und treffen dabei einen berühmten Okkultisten. Alle Abenteuer sind sehr ausführlich, vielschichtig und bieten spannende Herausforderungen für die Investigatoren. Durch ihre Verknüpfung leiten sie Themen geschickt über, jede Geschichte kann aber auch für sich allein gespielt werden und bietet ihre eigene Variante von Horror, die durchaus Themen wie Selbstmorde, Lustmorde und auch sexuelle Inhalte berühren.

Berlin – Welthauptstadt der Sünde ist ein umfassendes und abwechslungsreiches Quellenbuch, was aus meiner Sicht aber das Thema Laster und Prostitution etwas zu dick aufträgt, während das politische Berlin nur im Hintergrund angerissen wird. Auch die historischen Persönlichkeiten sind zwar einerseits interessant zu lesen, aber die Vorstellung, dass die Charaktere auf Albert Einstein oder Marlene Dietrich treffen, wirkt schon etwas weit hergeholt. Noch schwerer wiegt das für mich bei den Abenteuern. Auch hier sind die grundsätzlichen Geschichten spannend, wenn auch nicht immer leicht bekömmlich (aber Cthulhu ist nun einmal ein Horror-Rollenspiel). Die Art und Weise jedoch, wie hier reale Personen und Ereignisse in die Abenteuer eingebaut und somit auf den Mythos interpretiert bzw. reduziert werden, geht mir persönlich etwas gegen den Strich und wäre auch nicht nötig gewesen – denn damit werden die Geschichten nicht etwa greifbarer oder realistischer, sondern aus meiner Sicht ist das Gegenteil ist der Fall. Insbesondere einen politischen Mord in einer kleinen Nebenhandlung auch mit dem Mythos zu rechtfertigen, wird aus meiner Sicht der Zeit nicht gerecht.

Wer ein wildes Berlin sucht, das vielleicht nicht realistisch ist, dafür aber bunt, grell, wild und voller bekannter Persönlichkeiten, gefährlicher Mythos-Verschwörungen, lasterhafter Aktivitäten und wilder Exzesse daherkommt, bekommt ein Cthulhu-Setting das durchaus einiges zu bieten hat – und gleich drei sehr ausführliche Abenteuer dazu, die auch jeweils eine ordentliche Bedrohung und ihre eigene Geschmacksrichtung von Horror bieten. Mir ist das Ganze aber etwas zu effekthascherisch ausgefallen und der Ansatz, die Fiktion so konkret an reale Personen zu knüpfen und diese zu Spielbällen des Mythos zu machen, ist aus meiner Sicht ein eher geschmackloser Zug.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu: Berlin
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Tales of Aquatic Terror
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/11/2022 12:32:42

Horrors from the sea - a Mephisto review

Tales of Aquatic Terror

Life by the sea has several sides. On one side, there is the normal and pleasant life: a tour on a yacht, a politician's boat trip, a cruise to Europe, and a summer vacation in a small beach resort. On the other side, the horrors of the sea come into play: monstrous reptilian experiments, a conspiracy that kidnaps people under the sea, an arsenal of strange creatures that hide among (and sometimes hunt for) people, and government agents for whom civilians are just good experimental material.

Tales of Aquatic Terror offers four ready-to-play adventures for It came from beneath the sea, which confront the everyday heroes with all sorts of monsters and conspiracies against the backdrop of 1950s B-movies. The adventures are simple, well-structured, and suitable even for inexperienced groups. There are directly prefabricated characters whose background is integrated into the story for some adventures, so it is quick and easy to get started.

Iguana take a cruise offers a classic survival scenario that quickly moves from exploring to fighting deadly monsters. The Bubble confronts the characters with an enormous conspiracy that requires investigation and some tricks to combat. The Voyage of the Rose Marie is a sandbox in the form of a cruise with a whole arsenal of human and inhuman challenges. A Summer of Terror offers survival horror again, but with a nastier background. As interludes, the book serves up short, entertaining stories that evoke a bit of the game's atmosphere.

With four adventures, game masters get a lot of material covering a broad range. The Voyage of the Rose Marie does offer a little too many monsters and conspiracies, but you do not have to include them all. Therefore, this story is the highlight of the book from my perspective. However, I found both the story a bit confusing and some sentences difficult to read with the last adventure, so it did not quite convince me.

Nevertheless, the four Aquatic Tales of Terror offer an excellent introduction to the B-movie horror setting of It came from beneath the sea, which I can recommend – especially to beginners.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tales of Aquatic Terror
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Gamemaster's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2022 11:23:12

The secrets of the Secret War - a Mephisto review

Achtung! Cthulhu Gamemaster's Guide

The Achtung! Cthulhu Gamemaster's Guide represents the second half of the rulebook for the Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 Edition. It focuses on gamemaster topics and thus on the mythos background and the opponents of the player characters. Thus, the various power groups – Section M, Majestic, Black Sun, Nachtwölfe, Deep Ones, and Mi-Go – are presented in detail, whereas in the Player's Guide, there were only a few snippets of text about these power groups. The descriptions are not only very detailed and give a good impression, but also the story arc throughout the war, and thus the complete metaplot is outlined. Not only are existing adventures referenced, but upcoming events are also touched upon so that the game already presents its larger plot as an overview in this basic rulebook. The entanglements of the power groups, their secrets, development, and connections provide a lot of potential for exciting stories. After all, this background chapter already makes up the book's first quarter.

The second chapter is about the secret weapons used in the Secret War. Here, the developments of Section M and Majestic are found side by side with the occult artifacts of the Black Sun, the Atlantean technology of the Nachtwölfe, and the bizarre devices of Deep Ones and Mi-Go. Even though the primary focus lies on weapons – from swords cane to the Pufferfish grenade to the sniper rifle – one can find other practical items. But, of course, most items are difficult at best for the player characters to acquire – and much of it comes from the arsenal of their enemies. The next chapter explains the subject of magic. While the magical traditions of the Allies are touched upon once again, the focus here is on Mythos magic, which is organized according to three Great Old Ones – Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, and Yog-Sothoth. Then, again, there is the division into combat spells, which are quick to cast and are indeed primarily geared toward combat, and rituals, which allow for broader applications but are also significantly more difficult. Inevitably, the usual Mythos books are also showcased, which can serve as a source for combat spells and rituals.

The game master chapter addresses not only beginners because here, in addition to the basic concepts of game management, the game mechanics of Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 and their possibilities are demonstrated. There are tips on how to design a scene, as well as a summary of the most important rules and ideas and examples of rule concepts like Truths or the use of Threat. A little less than the second half of the book is devoted to the heroes, villains, and monsters of the Secret War. Here, you will find typical character profiles for soldiers of different units and key characters' backgrounds and game stats, from Badger and Ariane Dubois to Exarch Reinhardt Weissler and Mina Wolff. Thereafter, the book dives into a number of Mythos creatures. While Deep Ones and Mi-Go are presented in particular detail, the usual suspects like Ghouls, Serpent People or Sheehad are not missing. In the end, some of the Great Old Ones, Elder Gods, and Outer Gods are presented. Their statistics are not missing either – some of which are less impressive than one would expect, as the game system simply has hard limits regarding statistics. The question whether you really need game stats for the Great Old Ones is about as old as the different Cthulhu roleplaying games.

Like the Player's Guide, the Gamemaster's Guide offers a very well-done rulebook that provides the gamemaster with everything about the Mythos that is deliberately withheld from players in the Player's Guide. Particularly, the presentation of the power groups, their history, and also their development within the scenario is convincingly presented. Equipment and spells are coherent, and the chapter on gameplay provides good, concrete tips that are not only aimed at beginners. Whether you require the sheer amount of character profiles of various allies and enemies is something everyone must decide for themselves. However, the various Mythos creatures and gods provide a valuable cross-section, even outside the primary opponents in Secret War.

It is also noticeable in this book that Achtung! Cthulhu has ramped up the pulp factor and toned down the horror to make up for it. Here the heroes are better equipped to withstand the horrors of the Mythos. Contact with its creatures and magic spreads less madness and corruption. Compared to the previous editions, the real World War II takes a bit of a back seat, and with its archetypal characters, the game shows itself more as a pulp story or action movie. Thus, the officers of Section M showcase bravery and integrity; the scientists are somewhat cerebral and unworldly, while their opponents are either brutally repulsive occultists or sexy, cold-blooded schemers.

From my point of view, this new direction fits perfectly with Achtung! Cthulhu. On the one hand, the game distances itself somewhat from World War II and thus does not trivialize the actual horrors but provides a background against which fictional pulp heroes and villains can engage in action-packed confrontations with the Cthulhu mythos.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Gamemaster's Guide
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Player's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/05/2022 14:56:15

Pulp heroes in the Secret War - a Mephisto review

Achtung! Cthulhu Player's Guide

The Cthulhu mythos against the backdrop of World War II – that is the setting of the role-playing game Achtung! Cthulhu. While the war is raging in Europe and worldwide, the "Secret War" is taking place behind the scenes. There, the agents of Section M and Majestic try to stop the plans of the occultists of the Black Sun and the Nachtwölfe. Achtung! Cthulhu focuses on six power groups in the Secret War. The Black Sun is a Nazi occult organization that wants to use the magic of the Cthulhu mythos and the power of the Great Old Ones to win the war and advance its own goals. The Nachtwölfe have split off from them to use the technological achievements of Atlantis and the powers of the Blauer Kristall. Both face opposition from the British Section M and the American Majestic, who fight the occult forces with their agents – soldiers and competent civilians. Finally, the Deep Ones and the Mi-Go are the Mythos factions, alternately allies or enemies of the other groups. It is up to the player characters, who belong to Section M or Majestic, to defy the forces of the mythos as pulp heroes and thwart the sinister plans of their enemies as agents.

With the end of the licenses for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, Modiphius has brought the setting of Achtung! Cthulhu to the in-house 2d20 system and accordingly re-released the two core rulebooks Player's Guide and Gamemaster Guide. Not only was the rules base adapted, but the setting and focus were also realigned. While the first edition of Achtung! Cthulhu was very focused on playing soldiers and on the historic war, now the player characters are pulp heroes who can be soldiers, but also professors, occultists, and other people who have stumbled into the mythos. Power groups are also more focused, so clearly Black Sun, Nachtwölfe, Mi-Go, and Deep Ones are prominent as enemies (and sometimes allies).

Accordingly, the Player's Guide introduces the six major power groups with brief glimpses in the form of notes and rumors to give a quick impression of the setting but not reveal any secret knowledge.

The central part of the book is the introduction to the 2d20 system. The 2d20 system relies on players rolling two to five d20 to a target number calculated by attributes and skills for tests. Each d20 that beat the target number counts as a success, and some tests require more than one success. The rule is that a 1 is always a critical success, and a 20 is a complication. For each excess success, the player also generates Momentum (see below).

The other type of dice used is the six-sided Challenge Dice, which are blank on two sides, show the effect symbol twice, and offer the values 1 and 2. These dice are used for damage – called stress in this case – with the effect symbols triggering special effects.

Two fundamental game mechanics are Momentum and Threat. Players generate Momentum with good rolls, which can be used to buy additional positive effects for the corresponding roll – e.g., saving time, more information, etc. Players can also save Momentum for the group. The game master, on the other hand, collects Threat to bring special difficulties into play. Players can offer Threat to the game master if they are lacking Momentum.

Another game mechanic is Truths and Complications, which are reminiscent of aspects from Fate and represent a description that has gameplay implications. Complications are Truths that are a hindrance for the player characters. Both go into the calculation for tests.

A final tool for players is Fortune, which can be used to turn d20 to 1, pay for rerolls, and provide other benefits.

The game explains the rule mechanics for combat with initiative, zones, action types, and damage. Achtung! Cthulhu uses stress for damage – both physical and mental – which is quickly removed. However, if a character suffers more than five stress at once, or if his stress counter is completely filled, then an injury results, which has adverse effects as a Truth which is not so easily removed. Three injuries mean defeat. A player can save the character from death or permanent scars by voluntarily admitting defeat, similar to Fate. Scars occur when a physical or mental injury does not heal completely, and the character is affected in the long term by, for example, an amputation, drug addiction, amnesia, or paranoia.

Character creation is done in several steps based on archetypes, nationalities, and backgrounds, which define the majority of the selectable character stats. Thus, an archetype like Commander gets different attribute improvements and skills to choose from than an Infiltrator. This also defines selectable talents. The nationality determines the languages, while the background – as a former profession – clarifies other selectable statistics. Characters are thus created through several steps according to the player's ideas. Thus, as a result, a character can be an occultist from France who used to be a criminal and is defined by having been raised by a cult. Unlike previous editions, the focus on military characters is toned down and mixed with "classic" Cthulhu characters. To further refine the characters during the game, the book offers a large arsenal of talents, each linked to specific skills offering further advantages. Of course, two chapters are also devoted to equipment – primarily weapons and vehicles – with certain qualities defining equipment effects in play. The important thing here is that characters do not so much buy equipment as they get it provided for the mission at hand and have to apply for it accordingly. More exotic items are harder to obtain in this regard. The final topic is magic, which is divided into two sections. Battlefield Magic consists of spells that can be used spontaneously and are aimed primarily at combat situations. Ritual Magic has broader (and deeper) possibilities, but is correspondingly more elaborate. It is noteworthy that there are several magic directions: Celtic magic, rune magic, and ESP skills, which theoretically work the same, but each offers its own sets of spells. Magic-wielding characters can also be traditional mages, researchers, or dabblers, which results in minor rule changes. Traditionalists can only learn spells of their tradition, researchers are more flexible but have a harder time with spells, and dabblers always learn spells in a flawed version first. At the end of the book, there is some background on the military and their units, as well as sample stats for military personnel.   From my point of view, the 2d20 edition of Achtung! Cthulhu made some noticeable changes from the predecessors – not only by changing the mechanics. Player characters have become more pulp action heroes than World War II soldiers, and the new character creation makes it straightforward to create customized yet consistent characters. The rules are coherent, well explained and fit the setting. The stress rules also make this Cthulhu background a little less threatening than classic Cthulhu: dangers lurk here as well, but with a voluntary surrender, a player can always save their character. The use of magic is also pulpier. In addition to Mythos magic (which is not mentioned in this book), other magical paths are introduced, inviting you to create a magical character and use it actively with combat magic. This change is a departure from the classic approach of dangerously corrupting magic in the Mythos universe. The rulebook is well written, has a great layout and the new illustrations are worth seeing. Even though the book continues to offer information on the World War and everyday military life, this info is nowhere near as dominant as in the previous editions.

In my view, Achtung! Cthulhu with the 2d20 edition not only provides a well-defined rules, but the shift in focus away from the reality of World War II towards the more fictional pulp approach is a clear improvement for playability from my perspective. The simple magic without the evil aura of the Mythos is almost a bit too pulpy for me, but the seemingly lacking horror of the game is only to be expected for the Game Master's Guide anyway…

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Player's Guide
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Death in Space Core Rules
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/04/2022 13:26:52
In space no one can hear you die - a Mephisto review

Death in Space

The universe is collapsing. The Void, a strange presence that infects and corrupts everything, is the messenger of this collapse. Strange creatures from the edge of the universe are invading civilized systems. Are these stories just old wives' tales or a real threat? Even for the civilized worlds, all is not well. The Gemstone War soon broke out after unique gemstones were found in the Tenebris system, irreplaceable for advanced technologies. The war has no real winners and only losers, as the supply of Gemstones has dried up. Therefore, everything is recycled over and over again and worn down piece by piece like this. In this world of inevitable decay and with its mysterious threat, one's reputation and contracts are what keep one alive (probably) ...

Players do not know what to expect from the title of some role-playing games. With Death in Space, the name does not leave them guessing. Death in Space is a science-fiction role-playing game that builds its light rules on an old-school foundation – with simple stats, many random rolls, and random tables. Only four game statistics – Body, Dexterity, Savvy, and Tech – are required and range from -3 to +3. Rolls are made with a d20 against a minimum roll of 12 using these modifiers. There are rolls with an advantage or disadvantage, which means rolling two d20s and taking the better (advantage) or worse one (disadvantage). These mechanisms define the core of the rules already.

In addition to stats, an origin is rolled at character creation, allowing the choice of one of two advantages. The origin types are also darkly bizarre: as Chrome you are an ancient AI in an organic body, as Solpod you spend most of your time in cryogenic sleep and thus exist for eternities, and as Velocity Cursed you have already lost touch with reality. Thereafter, a few details are rolled out, and stats are determined – and you're almost ready to go.

As a special feature, there are the Void Points, which can be used to buy advantages or activate cosmic mutations as special powers. However, they also pose the risk of corrupting the character.

The next step is creating the hub, which can be a spaceship or space station that connects the characters. Here, too, game stats and many strange backgrounds and peculiarities give the setting its atmosphere. For example, the hub may be infamous for a riot or massacre, and the interior is painted in luminescent paint.

Besides rules for combat (including space combat, which relies more on boarding maneuvers to avoid destroying valuable ships), most other rules revolve around equipment degradation and repair. The approach that everything breaks, is recycled, and gets more and more used up is built into the rules. Besides that, there are a few mechanisms for activities and travel in space.

The book introduces the Tenebris system as a standard background and offers a scenario with a conflict to keep the players busy, but without prescribing a solution. Equipment, modules to expand the hub, and many random tables round out the book.

The layout of Death in Space, like the rules, is deliberately retro. An old computer font in white on black pages, monochrome (but not always black and white) illustrations, which sometimes have the detailed drawing style of fictional spaceship blueprints from the 80s, define the tone here. Take the gritty background, the consistent and unusual layout, and the simple, hardcore old-school rules, and you find the same principles as in Mörk Borg, even if Death in Space has its own less over-the-top but no less gritty flair. The book conveys its style very well and leaves plenty of room for the individual group to fill the collapsing universe with their ideas. Characters are quickly created – and, presumably, die quickly. The book is brutally honest enough to let the character creation end with the words "This was the last step, have a nice death in space".

If you like old-school rules, gritty settings, and dystopian sci-fi (or if you have always wanted to know what would happen if someone had cross-bred D&D with Alien in the 1980s), Death in Space is a very well and consistently implemented role-playing game that is presented in style.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Death in Space Core Rules
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

MÖRK BORG CULT: HERETIC
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/27/2022 11:45:55

Heretical expansions - a Mephisto review

Mörk Borg Cult Heretic

Under the title Heretic, another volume on Mörk Bork has been published, mixing material from the original authors with fan contributions from the Mörk Borg Cult. As in Ferectory, the book presents a wild mix in the even wilder layout typical of Mörk Borg.

For example, the book begins with tables to quickly roll out a bizarre cult for player characters to clash with. Unheroic Feats offers 36 feats to enhance the characters as an alternative system. The selection of feats fits the tone of Mörk Borg: from the Bone Crafter, who can craft weapons and armor from human bones to the Negotiator, who can de-escalate fights, the selection features some strange and/or horrible character upgrades. In addition, there are two new character classes like the Sacrilegious Songbirg - the gloomy interpretation of a bard - and the self-mutilating Shedding Vicar.

The book also has adventures to offer: in Grave left wanting, the characters must escape a graveyard. Bloat features a dangerous dungeon. In Selpuchre of the Swamp Witch, the player characters can explore the tomb, possibly meeting the Swamp Witch, likely experimenting with a dangerous altar, and probably dying a brutal death.

In addition, new monsters include the Bone Bowyer, the Bitor, and the Rotten Nurse - the latter with another dungeon adventure.

You are cursed allows to punish characters with the roll of a d20 to inflict nasty, unusual, and gruesome curses - and provides starting points on how to break the curse - which, however, is rarely much more pleasant.

On the other hand, The Merchant offers characters "interesting" artifacts - for a price. If these tools aren't dangerous enough, Blackpowder Weapons for the Rich and Foolhardy lets you upgrade further, from pistols to cannons.

Heretic is a chaotic mix of entries in the game's intense layout with gloomy images, brutal colors, and extreme typography. The gruesome world of Mörk Borg is expanded with more horrors, and the book offers many more ways to make characters die a bizarre, brutal, and, if necessary, senseless death. If you like Mörk Borg, you'll get an excellent addition to this extreme setting.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
MÖRK BORG CULT: HERETIC
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Star Trek Adventures: Back to Reality Supplement
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/27/2022 11:28:17

Into the anomaly and back - a Mephisto review

Back to Reality

In Back to Reality, the plot fits a typical Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. The crew of players is to explore an asteroid belt that is not only extraordinarily dense but also shows strange quantum signatures. Due to the anomaly, it is necessary to fly a shuttle into the asteroid belt and obtain samples by hand. What starts as an exciting field mission quickly evolves into a fascinating anomaly that comes up with a dilemma for the player characters.

Back to Reality offers a good mix of story and challenges for the players to solve with both dice rolls and the right decisions. Even if the location for the finale is somewhat vaguely sketched, the adventure picks up on typical TNG themes that have also appeared in episodes of the series. From my point of view, Back to Reality is a fitting and engaging adventure in the world of Star Trek TNG.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Back to Reality Supplement
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 240 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
0 items
Powered by OneBookShelf