Pegasus Digital
Browse Categories
to €











Back
pixel_trans.gif
Other comments left by this customer:
You must be logged in to rate this
pixel_trans.gif
MÖRK BORG: IKHON English
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2023 13:41:35
Use at your own risk - a Mephisto review

Mörk Borg Ikhon

The small-format supplement Ikhon for Mörk Borg presents magical incantations from the game world that can be assigned to four ancient, bizarre deities and offer powers at ten levels. When a player character wishes to use the Ikhon, he chooses one of the four sections or rolls a d4 and then determines the effect with a d8 (though willing human sacrifices or the sacrifice of a body part confer a bonus on the roll). While the low values have bizarre, but above all horrible and deadly consequences, they later deliver mixed effect or even real advantages, which are no less bizarre.

For example, in the worst case, a divine sheep herd tramples everything to a bloody pulp. If things go better, all the containers fill up with water or poison. For a full success, gigantic spider legs descend from the sky and deliver almost certainly destroy an opponent.

Ikhon reminds me of tarot cards, although they are played differently. Each effect features a typically darkly bizarre illustration, while the game effects are summarized briefly but drastically.

If you want to supplement your Mörk Borg game with an unpredictable and dangerous summoning system for your game (and presumably plunge your player's characters into brutal chaos), you will find the Ikhons a sufficiently weird variant. Mörk Borg players will almost certainly get their money's worth here.

(Björn Lippold)



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

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Forest of Fear (PDF)
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2023 13:29:09
Against doomsday cults, ancient secrets and super-tanks - a Mephisto review

Forest of Fear

With Forest of Fear, a more extensive campaign for Achtung! Cthulhu has been released. The story arc spans eleven chapters and takes place in the late years of World War II, more specifically against the backdrop of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. The campaign is aimed at both experienced players and battle-hardened characters and recommends that agents have completed at least ten other missions. Not only does the campaign's length provide a challenge, but also the fact that several hostile parties operate here and get involved in a dangerous conflict. Moreover, the themes of this scenario and the strong correlation with one of the historic battles of World War II are responsible for the fact that this is a challenging scenario in any respect.

The agents are sent out to contact the Resistance in the Ardennes. At first, the campaign starts quite simply, with meeting a member of the Resistance and moving into a temporary headquarters. Thereafter, however, the plot quickly gains momentum and shows the agents that sinister forces are at work. The players are supposed to investigate the Black Sun's activities in the area, which initially starts with an archaeological outpost. Soon it turns out that ancient secrets rest beneath the Ardennes – or rather, rested until the Black Sun unearthed them to abuse them for their purposes. 

But before the player characters can focus on this task, a second storyline takes them in because, in addition, a dangerous and ancient cult is also active in the area. These cultists are preparing their own rituals to unleash a terrible threat to the region. Thus, the player characters get caught in a battle against two opponents, as both the Black Sun's and the cult's activities keep growing, making for increasingly dangerous missions. Sometimes it is about out-of-control summoning rituals. Then there are far-reaching caves to explore, created by ancient mythical creatures, to learn about the sinister plans of the Black Sun finally. The stakes are nothing less than stopping a secret weapon that could turn the tide of war against the Allies again. 

However, the cult goes even one step further, preparing to conjure a doomsday scenario. Fortunately, the agents are not entirely on their own, though, because in addition to the members of the Resistance, they also find the influences of a Celtic deity and her otherworldly followers working against the cult as the Wild Hunt. If the agents can establish good terms with these potential allies and pass their tests, they will receive much-needed support for the upcoming challenges.

The missions are varied and diverse – and often not designed to be solved by a simple frontal attack and fighting everything that moves. Often, it is mainly about gathering information and surviving to understand the enemies' activities and plans. Thus, sometimes caution is more useful than daredevil action. But, of course, there is room for hard fights and dynamic action. Towards the end, players will have to face extremely dangerous enemies in the two final missions. 

Forest of Fear is an extensive and challenging campaign. Player characters will deal with dangerous enemies and face a wide range of brutal cthulhoid horrors. They definitely have chances to fail in the missions as the stakes are high and the Black Sun's plan could set the Allies back greatly. However, not only the Black Sun and the Nachtwölfe play a role, but the players must also deal with a Celtic deity, a medieval cult, and the lost civilization of a mythos race and its secrets. In addition, they can meet some signature characters of the game and complete the storyline that started with Assault on the Führer Train.

From my point of view, the campaign has a good dramaturgy and offers varied missions that increase coherently and are not always simply decided by force. In fact, there are a few intermediate adventures that have entirely different goals. I found only the introduction of a Celtic deity into this scenario a bit atypical and not well suited to the mythos – even if it increases the player characters' chances of survival. Of course, the secret plan of the Black Sun and Nachtwölfe is both bizarre and coherent for Achtung! Cthulhu in equal measure, so Forest of Fear manages to combine cthuloid horror with the horror of World War II. Personally, I do not always find the latter combination a suitable scenario for a role-playing game, but those who get involved with the setting of Achtung! Cthulhu will probably have no problems with the fact that real war events are used as background for the fiction here. So if you are looking for a long, brutal campaign set against the backdrop of World War II, Forest of Fear will provide you with a campaign of adventures that will challenge the agents for many evenings of play.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Forest of Fear (PDF)
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Priority Mission 3 - Season of the Snake 2 - Assault on Zuara 2 PDF
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2023 12:59:03
Secret weapons of the Nachtwölfe - a Mephisto review

Assault on Zuara 2

When a mysterious Luftwaffe plane lands on an airfield in North Africa and keeps disappearing and reappearing, these events may indicate activities by the Black Sun or the Nachtwölfe. Therefore, this is a mission for Section M agents to spy on the plane and either steal or sabotage it.

The third Priority Mission is summarized in four pages of text and a map. The text primarily describes the airfield and the troops stationed there. This time, fewer alternative adventure seeds or scenarios are suggested. Instead, the player characters' options to fulfill this mission are described in more detail.

Assault on Zuara 2 presents less of a mythos setting and offers more of a commando operation on an enemy airfield that requires stealth and planning, as it can hardly be solved by a frontal assault.

Even though Assault on Zuara 2 offers good material for a short mission in its compact format, I personally find this setting too focused on the military operation aspect and lacking secrets from the Cthulhu Mythos.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Priority Mission 3 - Season of the Snake 2 - Assault on Zuara 2 PDF
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 - Priority Mission 2: Season of the Snake 1 - Our Lady of the Eternal Sapphire PDF
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2023 12:55:56
Secrets of an old monastery - a Mephisto review

Our Lady of the Eternal Sapphire

The second Priority Mission for Achtung! Cthulhu revolves around an old monastery near Cairo, from which a brooch made of Blauer Kristall originates. The player characters are sent out to investigate the site and get to the bottom of the rumors about a relic in the form of a skull made from Blauer Kristall.

The second Priority Mission basically offers two pages of text and a map as source material. The setting is briefly described, and for the antagonists references are made to the rulebook. Again, there are several adventure seeds and alternate backgrounds, which the game master can choose to include additional or alternate enemies or give the mission an entirely different atmosphere.

Even though Our Lady of the Eternal Sapphire does not provide much concrete material, it presents an exciting setting and alternative backgrounds that game masters can easily use to entertain their players for one or even two game nights. I liked this Priority Mission because it offers some exciting ideas that can be used to develop larger story arcs.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 - Priority Mission 2: Season of the Snake 1 - Our Lady of the Eternal Sapphire PDF
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 - Priority Mission 1: Resurrection Men PDF
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2023 12:53:19
Down into the ghoul tunnels - a Mephisto review

Resurrection Men

Ghouls living in old tunnels from World War I – that is essentially the summary of the Priority Mission Resurrection Men for Achtung! Cthulhu. In just eight pages (or really three pages of text and a map), it provides an adventure hook and setting as a mini-adventure that can be played in one session. Adversaries are depicted only with references to the rulebook, and the main part of this booklet consists of the map of the tunnel system and brief descriptions of the rooms and tunnels. Alternative starting points for the scenario are included for those the standard variant of this mission does not work for.

Resurrection Men has an interesting idea, but in fact, the scenario provides little that you could not come up with on your own. Only game masters who want to save time necessary for drawing a map or need a quick basic idea will get any useful material here. As free game material, Priority Mission provides a hook for one game session, but anyone hoping for a real mission will be disappointed.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 - Priority Mission 1: Resurrection Men PDF
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Black Cap (PDF)
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2023 12:49:36
Dangerous cargo - a Mephisto review

Operation Black Cap

Montenegro, 1941: A Black Sun plane crashed, and Section M is eager to learn more about the cargo being transported. Therefore, the agents are sent out to travel undetected from the coast to the crash site, scout out the situation, and intervene if necessary. This means that they are to either secure or destroy artifacts of value. Operation Black Cap takes place in two acts. First, the agents must arrive at the target location and avoid patrols, since the country is in a state of alert due to an imminent invasion. Then, near the crash site, the player characters discover that they are not the only ones interested in the crashed plane. The agents must avoid or face the other parties until they finally reach the plane wreckage. At that point, it becomes apparent that the cargo is potentially very dangerous. 

Ultimately, it is up to the players to decide whether the agents can secure the cargo, must destroy it, or just try to escape with their lives as cthuloid forces are unleashed.

Operation Black Cap is an entertaining short scenario with an interesting premise for one or two evenings of play. In fact, the adventure provides tie-ins for follow-up missions. However, the secondary threat that the agents have to deal with turns out to be a bit archetypical and would have had much more potential.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Black Cap (PDF)
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
CY_BORG Core Rules
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/18/2022 11:22:17

Welcom to cyberpunk hell - a Mephisto review

CY_BORG

The cover shows it right away: Those who prefer the cyberpunk genre to classic sword & sorcery fantasy no longer have to wait for a role-playing game in the style of Mörk Borg. With CY_BORG, a cyberpunk adaptation has been released that sticks to the core aspects of Mörk Borg: simple old-school rules, gritty setting, and extreme presentation. The world of CY_BORG is a dystopia that turns out to be even bleaker than most other role-playing games in the genre because it is not just corrupt and rotten but definitely on the brink of ruin. On the one hand, there are super-rich corporations, and on the other, brutal gangs and mutants. Drugs, contamination, violence, and corruption characterize life in the city of Cy. After introducing the setting in short, concise text passages, a table for random events that affect the city provides dynamics within the game world – and additional hooks for the extreme setting. For example, a gigantic plant may appear overnight, all credsticks may become worthless, or an entire city district may go down in a nuclear explosion. And as with Mörk Borg, the last event ends the entire campaign...

Using the classic old-school approach, characters are created through dice rolls for five traits, possessions (some strange and limited in usefulness), style, characteristics, goals, etc. In addition to these generic characters, classes such as Shunned Nanomancer, Burned Hacker, or Discharged Corp Killer can also be selected, modifying stats and adding additional characteristics. Like in Mörk Borg, character creation takes only a few moments (which is thus guaranteed to be at least slightly shorter than the life expectancy of the game characters). Starting weapons (determined by the roll of dice) are generic and differ only in damage (and, if applicable, the fact that they have the auto-fire option). Finally, one thing applies to all characters: they are in debt to someone who wants his money back or else...

As with Mörk Borg, everything about equipment in CY_BORG is provided in tables: special ammunition, drugs, cybertech or apps. And here, too, the spectrum fluctuates wildly between useful, bizarre, and absurd.

With the apps, there is a simple approach to hacking. Additionally, nanopowers provide special abilities for the characters through nanobots, but these can also lead to infestations, which mean bizarre physical changes.

After all, characters also get bonus markers called glitches, which they can spend on rerolls or maximum damage etc. Characters can also improve between missions – but only at the gamemaster's discretion, and also based on random dice rolls.

For the gamemaster, there are many profiles and descriptions for enemies up to mechs. A mission generator can be used for rolling out adventures, and there are tables for corporations, cults, and events. The book also features a sample adventure, Lucky Flight Takedown, in which player characters get to take apart a casino....

Mörk Borg goes cyberpunk – even though this idea raised my interest and the system and setting were also consistently implemented here without any compromises, CY_BORG did not captivate me in the end. What works flawlessly for Mörk Borg – the brutally simplified and badass OSR rules and the sickeningly depressing Dark Fantasy setting – does not fit cyberpunk: there are no gray areas here, as I would have expected for the genre. The world is so corrupt and broken that the players' actions will not make any sense or difference. The arsenal of random tables, which fits perfectly to a dungeon crawler, does not sit well with the genre for me – though I am probably biased by my own earlier cyberpunk role-playing days in this case.

CY_BORG, like Mörk Borg, is an extreme yet consistent implementation from content to design that also contains exciting ideas. However, this game requires players willing to suffer (or there is a risk that they will just follow the setting and run entirely amok), so I personally find it more or less unplayable – even if it was fun to read the utterly over-the-top dystopia in the completely extreme layout.

(Björn Lippold)



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

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Forbidden Religions (Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition)
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/18/2022 10:15:16

Dangerous and mysterious cults - a Mephisto review

Forbidden Religions

Forbidden Religions is a sourcebook that complements themes and topics introduced in Cults of the Blood Gods in Vampire V5. The book focuses on vampiric cults and, in this respect, contributes additional game material that adds to the Kindred groups from Cults of the Blood Gods. These cults are dealt with in different thematic chapters, such as paths to power, the dream of Golconda, or even the end of the world. As usual, the cults are presented with their ideology, traditions, and beliefs, as well as some new discipline powers. On the one hand, some groups tie in with old metaplot elements, like the Shepherds of Ur-Shulgi or the Withered Ones, who worship the mysterious Nictuku. Therefore, some clan secrets left out in the streamlined main clan descriptions make their way back through these cults. On the other hand, new cults are established with e.g. the Children of the Devourer or the Penny Dining Club. While most cults appear to be local, many of them have far-reaching goals.

Forbidden Religions brings quite interesting cults into play, some of which have extreme views and rituals. In addition, there are always several story hooks to incorporate each cult directly into the game.

The book also concludes with several loresheets and some advantages and disadvantages for characters that complement the game. However, the rating of the book does not come easily. Indeed, the presented cults are exciting and a great addition for Vampire. But on the other hand, the book primarily presents 15 more cults that add up to the already large arsenal from Cults of the Blood Gods, definitely providing more material than a single gaming group can use.

Ultimately, this means that gaming groups will use only a fraction of the book practically, although they may find various tailored themes for their campaign here. The loresheets are also a nice addition, bringing the Gehenna theme back into play as well. However, even they alone do not carry the book.

In some ways, Forbidden Religions feels like a collection of material that did not fit into Cult of the Blood Gods because the book would have been too long. Game masters who want to know all the details from the world of Vampire will get a good supplement with Forbidden Religions. But how much of it they can use in the game practically is questionable - especially if they already own the primary sourcebook Cult of the Blood Gods. So, you get a fascinating and well-written sourcebook here that seems limited in terms of its practical usability.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forbidden Religions (Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition)
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: The Malevolent Grove FREE PDF
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/13/2022 13:18:41

Lost in the woods - a Mephisto review

The Malevolent Grove

After the free expansion Halloween Horrors with some classic monsters, which were reinterpreted for Achtung! Cthulhu, The Malevolent Grove is a short, free introductory adventure. The Malevolent Grove is meant to be combined with Halloween Horrors to set the enemies of the player characters. The background of this adventure is an ominous place that holds a mysterious and potentially very valuable secret that not only the player characters want to uncover. In fact, the player characters compete with one of the monsters from the Halloween expansion, trying to reach the forest's secret. However, along the way, puzzles must be solved at various locations, based on the combination of clues and found items, before the finale starts.

At first glance, The Malevolent Grove is a rather unusual Achtung! Cthulhu adventure, since here the Secret War theme is entirely ignored, and the player characters are confronted with a kind of dungeon adventure in a forest. With its brevity and somewhat schematic structure, it falls behind the commercial adventures. Not only because it is free, but it is also ideally suited as a small interlude or as an introduction to the world of Achtung! Cthulhu and can be recommended accordingly.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: The Malevolent Grove FREE PDF
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
CTHULHU: Gröönkohl
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/13/2022 12:52:56

Das Gemüse des Grauens - eine Mephisto-Rezension

Gröönkohl

Unter dem Titel Gröönkohl ist bei Pegasus ein kostenloses Cthulhu-Abenteuer erschienen, das in den 1920ern in Norddeutschland spielt. Die Investigatoren werden zu einer Kohlfahrt eingeladen, die schnell zu einem Kampf ums Überleben wird: In dem Gasthaus, in dem die Wandergruppe den Grünkohl aufgetischt bekommt, passieren bald mysteriöse und schreckliche Dinge, die die Spielercharaktere stoppen und aufklären müssen.

Gröönkohl ist ein einfaches klassisches Survival-Abenteuer, das eine norddeutsche Tradition aufgreift und mit dem Cthulhu-Mythos kombiniert. Viel Ermittlungsarbeit müssen die Spieler hier nicht durchführen, dafür aber zügig und entschieden handeln. Die Spieler werden mit einer herausfordernden Bedrohung konfrontiert, die es zu lösen gilt, um sich und die anderen Charaktere in dem Abenteuer zu retten. Für mich ergibt die Kombination von Grünkohl mit dem Cthulhu-Mythos absolut Sinn, denn wenn es ein Gemüse gibt, das bei mir Grauen heraufbeschwört, dann ist es Grünkohl. In dieser Hinsicht hat die Autorin meinen Geschmack getroffen. Nicht nur unter der Prämisse, dass Gröönkohl kostenlos verfügbar ist, stellt das Abenteuer einen durchaus empfehlenswerten Exkurs in die Mythos-Aktivitäten in Norddeutschland dar und kann als kurzweiliges Kurzabenteuer als Einstieg oder Zwischenszenario dienen.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CTHULHU: Gröönkohl
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Brindlewood Bay (Kickstarter Edition)
Publisher: The Gauntlet
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/10/2022 13:14:50
Murder, they played - a Mephisto review

Brindlewood Bay

Brindlewood Bay is the name of a picturesque coastal town in Massachusetts that began as a whaling port and has evolved into a cozy town for tourists. Brindlewood Bay residents include a mystery book club of older ladies, the Murder Mavens. They are fans of the Gold Crown Mysteries series featuring super sleuth Amanda Delacourt. But the Mavens are not just passionate mystery fans who appreciate a good book; they also emulate their great role model and investigate as amateur detectives – with real success and to the chagrin of the local police force. And their cases are not just petty crimes, but mostly murder cases the Murder Mavens run into. And for a seemingly innocuous small town, Brindlewood Bay has a terrifying murder record – almost as if sinister forces are at play...

Brindlewood Bay is an unusual detective role-playing game that uses the Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) rules concepts. All characters are older, single ladies with a murderous hobby. The characters are defined by five traits, which are used in moves typical of PbtA. As an additional mechanism, rolls can be made easier or harder by rolling three dice instead of the usual two and using the two best or worst results. The moves are boiled down to the essentials: There is one move each for risky situations by day and by night, an investigation move, and the Cozy Move. The interesting concept is that hazards at night carry greater risks, while one standard move (fittingly called the Meddling Move) represents all types of investigative work. The Cozy Move is used to eliminate negative effects, conditions, in a cozy scene. Therefore, each character is also defined by her favored cozy activity. Furthermore, there are two special moves: the Gold Crown Mysteries Move generates a perfect success once per story by inventing a reference to one of Amanda Delacourt's adventures. And through the Occult Move, new supernatural moves can be developed.

In addition, each Maven is not only described by her background but chooses a unique Maven Move based on allusions to movie characters of the 80s/90s or well-known fictional detective characters. Eventually, the group has to select one of the two sets, but has a wide range of choices in both. For example, the Angus MacGyver move allows improvising something helpful with just three random items. In contrast, the Jane Marple move allows entering anywhere during the day and moving (and snooping) around undisturbed.

However, the most fascinating feature of Brindlewood Bay is the approach to the criminal cases: Each case provides a starting situation, clues and hints, and suspects – but no predetermined solution. Instead, the players must develop a solution with their evidence at the end of the case. Then a single move decides whether their solution is correct. The more evidence is collected and incorporated into the theory, the easier the move is. This approach allows the game master to improvise with the given information during the game. The reason for this mechanism is simple: this way, players can never get completely stuck because they fail to find a crucial clue or make some other mistake. And the solution to the case – whether correct or not – is the players' creative solution, which will probably often surprise the game master as well. With this approach, a case can be presented in 5-6 pages and played without much preparation.

But Brindlewood Bay has an additional twist: The fact that murder abounds in the small town is due to the activities of a cult, which the Mavens must unmask in the end. And even though its background refers to Greek mythology, there is a hint of Cthulhu drifting through Brindlewood Bay. In addition to concrete suggestions, the game master gets various ideas to shape this cult – and again, he should not prepare everything in advance but develop this central threat based on the player's interactions during the game. A mixture of Murder, She wrote and Call of Cthulhu as a role-playing game would already be an unusual idea. However, combined with the mechanism that the cases are not predefined and spiced up with many intriguing approaches that capture the genre and the flair of TV series, Brindlewood Bay is not only a surprising but, above all, extremely fascinating game. Even though the layout and illustrations are relatively simple, the role-playing game is designed with great attention to detail. The book guides the game master perfectly through rules and setting – up to a complete case series ready to start the game immediately. If the cozy-crime/cosmic-horror crossover appeals to you, Brindlewood Bay can be highly recommended as an original highlight regarding both setting and rules.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Brindlewood Bay (Kickstarter Edition)
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d0: Halloween Horrors (FREE PDF)
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/07/2022 23:50:35
Achtung! Halloween Horrors - a Mephisto review

A Grimoire of Terror

Just before Halloween, the free booklet A Grimoire of Terror for Achtung! Cthulhu has been released, which introduces five archetypal horror creatures as opponents for the player characters on a double page each. A dangerous mummy, a brutal werewolf, a scary mesmer, a barghest, and a deadly clown make up the selection of enemies, which have been fitted into the setting by their background (e.g. the barghest is a creation of the Nachtwölfe) but still deviate from “normal” cosmic horror opponents. In addition, ten adventure seeds present these monsters or other puzzles in a few sentences for investigation by the game group. A Grimoire of Terror is definitely a suitable expansion for a Halloween special. Even though the style is a bit of a departure from the typical Achtung! Cthulhu setting, this supplement is well worth reading – and not just because it's free.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d0: Halloween Horrors (FREE PDF)
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Cults of the Blood Gods (Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition)
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/20/2022 13:30:51

Cults of Blood and Death - a Mephisto review

Cults of the Blood Gods

With an ominous cover and a title that does not bode well, Cults of the Blood Gods, this thick sourcebook for Vampire V5 is dedicated to both vampiric cults and a clan that was once many: the Hecata.

After the introductory story surrounding a family dinner of the various families and clans that became the Hecata, the book first gives orientation to the focus of this sourcebook. One central theme of the book is the cults and religions of Kindred; the other is the Clan of Death, the Hecata, which evolved out of Giovanni, Harbingers of Skulls, Samedi and other necromancer clans. An adventure rounds out the book.

The chapter Rise of the Methuselah Cult highlights the current development of the rise of vampiric cults and religions with various documents, comments, conversations, etc. from the in-game perspective. Here you get a first impression of the multifaceted cults that are no longer hidden fringe phenomena but are more or less openly gaining importance within the Camarilla. The chapter Kindred Religions supports this introduction with background information and game material by presenting a wide range of influential cults in detail on more than ten pages each. Here you will find old acquaintances as well as new movements. For example, the Ashfinders appear as a new influencer-driven Bacchanalia cult. On the other hand, the Bahari, who worship Lilith, are old acquaintances, just like the Church of Caine – even if they were not previously rooted in the Camarilla. On almost 100 pages, cult after cult is presented – with background, origins, philosophies, selected characters, and sometimes new disciplinary forces. In doing so, the book – unlike the core sourcebooks – ties in strongly with the extensive background of Vampire. For example, the Nephilim base themselves on the Toreador Michael, the Mithraic Mysteries continue to focus on the former Prince of London, the Church of Caine rescues a worldview of the Sabbat over to the Camarilla, or the Church of Set provides the perspective that the new clan version of the Ministry lacks. While the approaches are often exciting, in my view, they are too much of a good thing due to the sheer mass: seven major and ten minor cults are definitely more than one or more chronicles need. Newcomers to the game are left too much alone here, in my view. While experienced players might be able to understand the details of terms like Bahari or Lilin, beginners lack the glossary here. Furthermore, concepts like the Abyss, which is introduced with the Cult of Shalim, may be as mysterious as Latin phrases that do not get a translation. Perhaps even more severe here is the fact that the complex concepts and ancient mysteries that Vampire V5 left behind in the rulebook creep back in. For example, the Church of Set brings back large parts of the former philosophies of the Followers of Set, but turns it into a religion that spreads across multiple clans. This approach of creating a complex web of backgrounds shows up in details that mention relationships with other game characters, you can only know them if you own the corresponding sourcebook.

Here, the Mortal Cults, which the book presents in a separate chapter, are more accessible. In these cults, whose core followers are humans, the reader will find a mix of typical cults that exploit their members, groups that superimpose a philosophy on their goals and methods, and some surprising variants. A cult that has developed a dangerous momentum of its own as an experiment of the Second Inquisition is among the original ideas.

If the sheer amount of presented cults is not enough for the inclined game master, a whole chapter is still dedicated to the approach how to compose own cults for the game round – including a name construction kit and description fragments, which only lack random tables...

Several chapters are also devoted to the second central theme of the book. The Cult of Death and Undeath, which is placed between the Cult chapters, focuses on the changes that the Giovanni and other Clans of Death have undergone: in the so-called Family Reunion, the Hecata have come into being, uniting Giovanni, Harbingers of Skull, Cappadocians, Samedi, Nagaraja, Lamia under the guidance of the Capuchin to form the last independent clan. Even if these reorganizations cost many Elders their lives and the once hostile clans have not yet found complete peace, a powerful player has emerged outside Camarilla and Sabbat. What is also special here is that the Elders of the Hecata are not affected by the Beckoning, which gives them another unique role.

The Hecata are also the focus of another chapter as a playable clan. The formerly disparate clans have been merged and unified (which is explained as a change resulting from the Family Reunion), so that, for example, the Samedi are no longer rotting corpses. Gamemasters may, however, allow discipline variations for these branches of the family and use loresheets to differentiate bloodlines. The Hecata share the Oblivion discipline with the Lasombra, but have a distinct approach, their own powers, and new ceremonies that replicate the earlier Necromancy powers.

The numerous lore sheets thematize the smaller families and bloodlines, such as the Dunsirn, Samedi, Nagaraja, Gorgons, but can also be used in part for the cults.

In the end, the Styx and Bones adventure lets the player characters participate in the reunification of the family and its pitfalls alongside the Hecata in Munich – and again picks up on old secrets in the form of a former signature character. Unfortunately, the adventure describes hard challenges for the players, but remains very vague about the solutions.

I have a hard time rating Cults of the Blood Gods. The book offers extremely extensive material, tying back into the complex background of times past while attempting to continue the simplifications of V5. It also introduces the Hecata, an essential clan that probably experienced gamers will not miss – and it does so in epic breadth with an additional 25 pages of background, bloodlines, and their own discipline (which they only formally share with the Lasombra). This comprehensiveness seems almost unfair compared to the other simplified clans like Ministry or Banu Haqim, which were much more streamlined. On the other hand, from my point of view, the book falls back into the earlier approach of overwhelming game masters with too much material. The cults overwhelm the reader with philosophies and their details, although many of the cults will probably never appear within a chronicle. The fact that three additional books (Forbidden Religions, Trails of Ash and Bone, Children of the Blood) published as part of the Kickstarter offer further cults, characters, and adventures makes the topic even more complex. In other words, the material is provided here could make Vampire all about the topic of cults.

Personally, I liked the tie-in to the old complex backgrounds of Vampire. However, the approach of making V5 more accessible to newcomers is wholly left behind here. Cults can add a facet to the intrigue within the cities, but the amount of material in the book almost seems to make this a dominant game theme. The Hecata approach is also ambivalent – the Family Reunion as a metaplot is an exciting theme and cleaning up the chaos of the death clans makes sense, yet the approach seems a bit forced and then comes up with surprises like the return of the Lamia. The fact that Necromancy is now the other side of the Oblivion discipline is done coherently. On the other hand, it may also blur the lines between Lasombra and Hecata (if players should not mix discipline powers from both clans, Oblivion could have been left as two separate disciplines). Unfortunately, for the complete picture of Oblivion, you also need to know Chicago by Night, which you will notice in the adventure at the latest, where Oblivion powers appear that are not found here.

Those who love a complex variant of Vampire, know the storylines that extend into the Dark Ages, and need the Hecata in the game will not be able to avoid Cult of the Blood Gods. However, beginner players risk being overwhelmed with a sourcebook on a particular topic that is 2/3 the length of the basic rulebook.

In the end, I enjoyed reading it despite some overly detailed aspects, though I, too, will only be able to actually use a fraction in my game.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cults of the Blood Gods (Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition)
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
ALIEN RPG Heart of Darkness
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/18/2022 23:57:44

Abandon all hope - a Mephisto review

Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness is the third and final scenario of the trilogy that began with Chariot of God. Once again, in this scenario, players take the role of pre-made characters to confront them with the horrors of the Alien universe in a brutal and cinematic storyline. This time, players take on the role of a research expedition sent out to investigate a new life form on a remote research station. The facts that the station is run by the conscripted convicts and is located near a black hole are only two of the complications the players will encounter, as soon mental disorders, secret research projects, and alien life forms increase the threat level to the maximum.

Heart of Darkness, as the third part of the adventure series, also has certain parallels with the third part of the movie series. Here, too, the setting is a prison colony, and the goal is to prevent a catastrophe and, if necessary, to put the safety of humanity above one's own survival. If the previous adventure Destroyer of Worlds was already very challenging, Heart of Darkness manages to step it up a notch, as the ultra-hard scenario features a complex, extremely dangerous threat, player characters with very conflicting goals, an extreme Xenomorph danger and taking place on the edge of a black hole. The story continues the arc begun with Chariot of God, picking up elements from the previous adventures, but it can be played on its own. Again, there are new variations on the Xenomorph threat, and the adventure offers extensive handouts on player characters and more in addition to the story itself. Despite the comprehensive material, the story will also require some preparations from the game mother due to the complex plot.

From my point of view, Heart of Darkness is an impressive conclusion of the trilogy, which succeeds in both finding connecting points to the first three Alien movies (for example, a cat now also plays a role) and, on the other hand, still telling its own exciting story that offers diverse facets and captures the atmosphere of Alien. If you survived the first two adventures of the trilogy and wonder if it is possible to increase the challenge a bit more, Heart of Darkness is just right for you.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ALIEN RPG Heart of Darkness
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Into the Odd – Remastered
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/17/2022 12:54:35

As odd as it gets - a Mephisto review

Into the Odd

Into the Odd is another old-school role-playing game set in a bizarre fantasy world that has entered the industrial age. Most importantly, it is a role-playing game with very lightweight rules: Characters have only three statistics, Strength, Dexterity, and Willpower, as well as Hit Protection (HP). In fights, the damage is simply rolled, and the armor is subtracted. The remaining damage first decimates the Hit Protection and then the Strength attribute of the target. Once characters lose Strength points, they are considered wounded and must now roll to take critical damage that will incapacitate them.

Character creation takes only a few seconds: attributes are determined quickly by die rolls. Then, depending on the game stats and health points, the characters get a starter package that contains the more or better things, the worse their stats are. An essential element of the game are the so-called Arcana, which are magical items with sometimes very unusual effects. Arcana can be small handy items, as well as pieces of furniture or larger objects. They usually have an extraordinary power that their owners can use – if they know about it. Accordingly, the book also provides a d66 of Arcana right away. 

If the information about the gameplay is still vague so far, a short playing example quickly shows in which direction this role-playing game should go. Here, the reader gets to experience a role-playing group that explores a labyrinth and is willing to try out wild things – even without considering the corresponding risks (and with the expected consequences). 

The other rules revolve around how further levels of experience are achieved. Player characters must fulfill certain conditions and then receive additional hit protection and the possibility to increase their stats, which, however, is also decided by a die roll. In addition, there are rules for how to make extra money with an enterprise, hire assistants, and command troops and lead them into battle. 

The game master is also encouraged to simply roll out random encounters by dice. There are some notes about chance encounters, traps, and other obstacles, the rule here being that unless the player characters are entirely inattentive, they always have a chance to notice such dangers beforehand. The players should be able to make a conscious decision to deal with the risk. 

The monsters are defined by brief game stats, motivation and description, and the game provides some examples. A brief introduction of the game world follows, but it remains only very roughly described. First, there is the great city of Bastion, humanity's largest metropolis, and beneath it lies the Underground, a network of tunnels, where both valuable treasures are hidden and great dangers lurk. Beyond the city, the world is relatively sparse in population and also dangerous.

To provide the players with a starting point, the book presents The Iron Coral as an introductory scenario, where the players search for the eponymous iron coral. This is a typical dungeon, where the individual rooms are described in an extremely short format and are characterized by bizarre encounters and peculiarities. Beyond the Iron Coral, the Fallen Marsh is a setting for wilderness adventure (in classic hex style). In addition, another scenario presents the small town of Hopesend. Thus, the book provides a typical dungeon adventure, a wilderness exploration, and a minimal town setting that can be played together.

The role-playing game lives up to its name, as the game world is bizarre. Although industrialized and featuring firearms, it is reminiscent of a typical old-school fantasy setting. The rule mechanisms are minimal, and the setting should be suitably deadly. The odd style of the game is also reflected in the illustrations, which are often collages of images from various styles, conveying an alien atmosphere. 

The book concludes with short expansion rules in case the players would rather not play characters on Bastion, but mutants or other creatures, so the character creation rules are minimally adapted. In addition, a considerable arsenal of random tables is supplied in the form of the Oddpedium, which can be used to quickly roll dice for encounters, locations, and the like. 

Into the Odd is a role-playing game for spontaneous play, fighting your way through bizarre dungeons and recovering treasures in the form of Arcana (or dying trying to do so). Even though the rules expand the prospects for individual characters with the systems for units and enterprises, the whole setting focuses heavily on typical dungeon adventures. 

Ultimately, rating this game is difficult: Into the Odd is a highly bizarre scenario, which probably will not appeal to many players. In addition, the rules are extremely reduced and simple, reminiscent of the early days of role-playing. Those who expect a complex rules system or story-oriented adventures here should rather flee this oddity. However, if you are looking for a simple, functional and unique role-playing game that allows you to quickly and spontaneously assemble a group and experience adventures, you can definitely get your money's worth here – as long as you accept that characters will probably die as quickly as they are created. As for my personal opinion, I really enjoyed the idea of the book, but I am also convinced, that I will never play it.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Odd – Remastered
Click to show product description

Add to Pegasus Digital Order

pixel_trans.gif
Displaying 31 to 45 (of 290 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
pixel_trans.gif
pixel_trans.gif Back pixel_trans.gif
0 items
Powered by OneBookShelf