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Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/12/2020 14:03:42

The fate of humanity - a Mephisto review

Fate of Cthulhu

Combining the Fate rules system with the background of Cthulhu is an idea that is actually quite obvious, so you almost have to wonder how long it took until Fate of Cthulhu was released (strictly speaking; however, with the Fate variant of Achtung! Cthulhu already exists a roleplaying game that combines both parts).

If you now expect Fate of Cthulhu to be a simple adaptation of the usual background and (presumably) necessary rule mechanisms for Fate, you will be surprised by this book. Fate of Cthulhu is not merely an adaptation of the rules, but provides, as is so typical for Fate, a very unusual approach to the setting. The starting point is bleak: In 2030, one of the Great Old Ones appears, and humanity is almost completely wiped out. Or rather: that would have happened. For with the solution from the Terminator films, the last humans - here in a dangerous ritual - send several people back ten years into the past to change the timeline and stop the events that led to the appearance of the Great Old One.

Fate of Cthulhu thus follows a very schematic approach in its gameplay: There are always four core events that led to the appearance of the Great Old One - and the player characters familiar as time travelers are familiar with these events. It is now up to the player characters to stop or at least mitigate these events, which in turn are defined by four so-called catalysts - places, people, enemies, and objects - so that humanity still has a chance in the future. The book provides five such scenarios, each one focusing on one of the most famous Great Old Ones: Cthulhu, the King in Yellow, Shub-Nigurrat, Dagon, and Nyarlahotep. At the end of the book, however, there is also advice for the game master, how to plan a tailor-made apocalypse (to be prevented by the player characters, hopefully).

Playing with the timeline is not only a ruse for drama, but depending on how the players act, they can change the events, which should also manifest itself visibly in their timeline. But beware: the risks and side-effects that are typical for the genre will probably occur.

In terms of rules, the book provides complete, very compressed and adapted Fate rules, so that you do not necessarily need Fate Core for this roleplaying game. In fact, Fate Condensed is based on this variant of the rules and has taken up many of its simplifications. Of course, such a book also provides additional rules needed for the setting. In contrast to classic Cthulhu scenarios, however, the investigators are not driven insane but corrupted by the events, which manifests itself in aspects and also stunts. The corruption gives the player characters additional power and strength - but at a very high and very dangerous price. The rules that determine whether the player characters in the individual scenarios change the story for the better or worse - and how this affects the overall timeline - are also explained in detail and are surprisingly mechanistic for Fate at first glance. But they are very useful for measuring the success of the player characters more objectively.

The five exemplary scenarios are well designed and build on the individual characteristics of the Great Old Ones. And as you might expect, the information of the time travelers is not always accurate, so there will be some surprises in this respect as well. Even with the trick of time travel, the chances of humanity are minimal.

Even though Fate of Cthulhu surprised me with its approach initially, which I did not expect at all, I like this roleplaying game very much. The concept of time travel is a fitting element for the Cthulhu background and gives the game its additional charm. Of course, most groups will probably not play several apocalypses—still, the option to choose the appropriate variant or use it as basic material for your background is very helpful. If you are looking for a simple adaptation of the Cthulhu setting to Fate rules, you will only find a few pieces of the puzzle here. But if you want to play a truly epic campaign against the Great Old Ones, which can be bizarre, dark, and sometimes a bit black-humored, this book is one of the Fate series' highlights so far.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate of Cthulhu
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Liminal: Pax Londinium
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2020 13:23:42

The dangerous peace of London - a Mephisto review

Pax Londinium

Pax Londinium is the first major sourcebook for the urban fantasy roleplaying game Liminal. While smaller cases (i.e. adventures) for the players' crew have been published in addition to the rulebook so far, Pax Londinium presents a larger setting for the first time. But also with this London sourcebook Liminal continues its previous approach and states already in the introduction that there is not a single London, but London always lies in the perception of the observer. In this sense, the sourcebook provides several ideas but does not elaborate the setting down to the last detail, leaving enough room for gaming groups to find their individual interpretation of the city.

The book begins with the various power groups that can be found in London. Some of the groups already presented in the basic rules are presented. Their regional influence and usually a vital member are introduced. Some aspects have not been in focus so far, such as the fact that the Order of St. Bede has a media department. Furthermore, there are several power groups unique to London, of which the Hidden is undoubtedly the biggest. These people are no longer noticed by others and secretly care for the well-being of the city with their guilds. The authors openly admit that Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere inspired them. What is essential is that London is a divided city. While the supernatural groups north of the Thames are allowed to pursue their plans discreetly, the area south of the Thames is closed to them. Both the Order of St. Bede and the P Division of the Police, as well as old pacts, ensure that these rules are observed.

In the second chapter, some London legends and customs are explained and put into the context of Liminal. Here, one finds, for example, the ravens of London. One chapter shows the significance of the ghosts and undead of the city, while the next is about deities that partly influence the city. But not only celtic myths are found here, but also the Orisha or Egyptian influences affect in London. A further chapter introduces some strange encounters from secret video shops to supernatural courier services to a griffin.

The concept for a crew, a mysterious organization that brings together supernatural investigators, completes the book. Besides, there is a short magical rule supplement for chronomancy.

Pax Londinium consequently continues the philosophy of Liminal, that gamemasters get ideas and inspiration, as well as a few smaller concrete things - but not a sourcebook which details every supernatural personality and conspiracyl. The book is less about a concrete description of London than about feeling and atmosphere of the city and its mystical secrets. If you like to play Liminal away from small rural investigations in a city full of secrets and mysterious powers, Pax Londinium is an excellent choice. You will get a fascinating sourcebook, which is again atmospherically illustrated.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Liminal: Pax Londinium
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Grimoire • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2020 12:10:29

Daemons and intrigues - a Mephisto review

Grimoire

Grimoire is a compact game setting for Fate, which plays in the world Ganseldom. Here, powerful city-states compete with each other. One way to gain influence is to use the powers of daemons. There are instruction books - the grimoires - to summon the daemons and bind them into the services. In theory, anyone can bind a daemon, but the catch is that this is a challenging task, so few specialists have the training to do it safely. To summon a daemon, a grimoire is also required, which describes the necessary summoning rituals.

However, the predominant church opposes the summoning of daemons, so that the warlocks are persecuted. However, this does not prevent many powerful noble families from using the services of a warlock to gain an advantage.

The small book compactly presents the essential game world, which is transitioning from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It briefly describes, for example, the various city-states and religions from the main daemon-hostile mainstream religion to a few pagan currents. The rule system's central element is playing a warlock because this setting requires all players to play exactly this role. Accordingly, detailed rules for summoning daemons and binding these powerful (and dangerous) creatures are provided, and some example creatures are presented. An adventure that revolves around the intrigue of a house offers immediately playable material.

Grimoire is a well-thought-out setting, and the rules concerning daemon summoning are also fitting. From my point of view, the focus on the fact that all players are warlocks and usually carry out missions in the service of a noble house provides a somewhat limited setting, which is more suitable for a few game nights - instead of a long campaign. For gamemasters who are looking for ideas and rule mechanisms for daemons and their summoning, however, here is an excellent toolbox to use for the own game worlds. In this respect Grimoire is a quite exciting setting.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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CTHULHU: Namenloser Schrecken in Neuengland
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2020 11:58:11

Menschlicher Schrecken - eine Mephisto Rezension

Namenloser Schrecken in Neuengland

Namenloser Schrecken in Neuengland ist ein weiterer Abenteuerband für Cthulhu, bei dem zwei von acht Abenteuern in Neuengland der englischen Publikation Nameless Horrors für die deutsche Ausgabe zusammengestellt wurden. Die Abenteuer spielen in den 20ern und 30ern, und bei beiden stehen gefühlt eher Menschen als Mythos-Gottheiten im Vordergrund. Außerdem sollten für beide Abenteuer vorgefertigte Charaktere benutzt werden, da diese bereits in das Setting integriert sind – es geht also um One-Shots mit normalen Menschen und nicht um die Abenteuer mythos-gehärteter Investigatoren.

Das erste Abenteuer Ein Teil fiel auf felsigen Boden entführt die Spielercharaktere in eine amerikanische Kleinstadt, in der sich auf einmal einige Personen sonderbar zu verhalten anfangen. Eine geheime Macht unterwandert einige der Einwohner, die zu einer Gefahr für ihre Mitmenschen werden können, sodass es an den Spielercharakteren liegt, das Rätsel zu lösen und Schlimmeres zu verhindern.

Das zweite Abenteuer Düstere Aussichten verfrachtet die Spielercharaktere zur Zeit der Weltwirtschaftskrise in ein Elendsviertel vor der Stadt. Alle Spielercharaktere sind gescheiterte Existenzen, die in diesem Lager ihr Dasein fristen. Als dann Gerüchte von gesichtslosen Männern umgehen, zwei Kinder verschwunden sind und ein mysteriöses Leiden die Bewohner zu befallen scheint, müssen die Spielercharaktere die Ursachen finden und finstere Mächte stoppen.

Auch wenn beide Abenteuer durchaus cthulhoide Themen haben, spielen hier menschliche Faktoren – im ersten Abenteuer das Leben in einer Kleinstadt und im zweiten Abenteuer die begrenzten Möglichkeiten der Ausgestoßenen – eine große Rolle. Beide Abenteuer bieten sich sinnvollerweise nur für vorgefertigte Charaktere an. Mir persönlich hat der Ansatz, die Großen Alten und andere schwergewichtige Mythos-Mächte im Hintergrund zu halten, sehr gut gefallen, denn diese Spielweise macht den Horror etwas mysteriöser, aber auch gleichzeitig für die Spielercharaktere nachvollziehbar.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CTHULHU: Namenloser Schrecken in Neuengland
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CTHULHU: Polizisten und Vigilanten
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2020 11:57:50

Für Recht und Ordnung - eine Mephisto Rezension

Polizisten und Vigilanten

Unter dem Titel Polizisten und Vigilanten ist der vierte Berufsband für Cthulhu erschienen, der sich mit Charakteren auseinandersetzt, die ihre Bestimmung in Recht und Gerechtigkeit sehen. Das Buch beginnt mit einer Einführung, die die Entwicklung des Umgangs mit Recht und Gerechtigkeit von der Antike bis in die Neuzeit kurz beschreibt und Hinweise gibt, wie das Recht durchgesetzt wird. Dabei geht es logischerweise nicht nur um Polizeiarbeit, sondern auch um Gerichte und Gefängnisse. Nach dieser allgemeinen Einführung dreht sich das zweite Kapitel stärker um Charaktere und liefert Motivationen für Ermittler, beschreibt die Wirkung von Uniformen und diskutiert die Besonderheiten im Kampf gegen das Verbrechen. Hier wird auch gleich ein Vergleich zum Kampf gegen den Mythos gezogen, so dass entsprechende Wege für die Spielercharaktere geebnet werden, wie sie vom normalen Ermittler zum Investigator gegen den Cthulhu-Mythos werden können. In entsprechenden Würfeltabellen können Charaktere ausgewürfelt werden – sowohl was ihren Beruf angeht, aber auch was ihre persönlichen Motivationen und ihr Verhalten betrifft. Dabei kommen nicht immer edle und gute Ermittler raus, sondern es können durchaus auch kaltblütige, brutale oder korrupte Diener des Gesetzes generiert werden. Im Kapitel Das Recht des Stärkeren werden die Vorteile eines Ermittlers im Dienst des Rechts beschrieben, also z.B. die Institutionen, die ihm helfen, aber auch ganz praktische Dinge wie Bewaffnung oder Kampffertigkeiten. Hier finden sich auch einige waffenlose Nahkampftechniken bis hin zur obskuren Kampfsportart Bartitsu.

Natürlich wirft das Buch auch einen Blick auf Gruppenzusammenstellung und schlägt hier einige Ideen vor. Konkret gibt es vier Charakterpakete, durch die die Charaktere zusätzliche Punkte und einen erweiterten Hintergrund bekommen und die vom rachsüchtigen Ermittler bis zum altruistischen Ermittler reichen. Wie gehabt macht ein großer Teil des Buches die Vorstellung neuer Berufe aus, die ein breites Feld abdecken. So finden sich hier auch Mitglieder der Bürgerwehr, Gefängniswärter, Henker oder maskierte Rächer. Den Abschluss des Buchs machen vier ausgearbeitete Beispielcharaktere, die exemplarisch unterschiedliche Ansätze dieser Ermittler vorstellen.

Polizisten und Vigilanten widmet sich einer ganz eigenen Gruppe von Investigatoren, die als Ermittler sowohl staatliche Macht hinter sich haben können (falls sie keine Vigilanten sind), als auch körperlich und kämpferisch fähiger sind (zumindest in der Regel). Auch wenn das Buch einigen guten Hintergrund und mit den neuen Professionen viele neue Ansätze für die Charaktererschaffung liefert, ist auch dieser Berufsverband aus meiner Sicht keine essenzielle Ergänzung und lohnt sich eigentlich nur dann, wenn man das Thema Gesetzeshüter oder Vigilanten besonders tief in der Kampagne verankern will und entsprechendes Detailwissen braucht. Insbesondere die neuen Professionen sind zwar eine nette Ergänzung, aber im Grunde vor allen Spezialvarianten der klassischen Professionen aus dem Grundregelwerk.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CTHULHU: Polizisten und Vigilanten
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Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition: Fall of London
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/03/2020 12:25:21

London falling - a Mephisto review

The Fall of London

In addition to the city sourcebook Chicago by Night, a volume on a European city has now been published for Vampire V5. The Fall of London focuses on London and the events around this city in the world of Vampire. Those who have read the rules carefully already know that the vampires of London suffered severe setbacks and that the old order was completely destroyed by vampire hunters. One of the once most powerful domains of the Camarilla in Europe has fallen.

But The Fall of London is not a typical city book that presents the situation in the city today. Instead, the book offers a comprehensive adventure that takes players back to the year 2012 - precisely the year of London's dramatic changes. Not only do players get to experience the fall of London at first hand, but they are part of that development. The story is based on the premise that the players play with ready-made characters who awaken after decades of torpor. Upon their awakening, they are given a clear mission to recover several artifacts that once belonged to Mithras. These artifacts are in the hands of various powerful vampires in the city, and it is up to the player characters to obtain them piece by piece. The fact that the current owners are some of the most powerful ancestors, including Queen Anne herself, probably weighs little compared to the fact that this is also about Mithras: a 4th generation vampire who was supposedly destroyed during World War II, but whose shadow still shapes the fate of the city. As if this starting point was not challenging enough, 2012 is the year Operation Antigen is launched in London: one of the first major actions that will be the prelude to what will later be called the Second Inquisition.

The story is divided into several chapters, each of which usually revolves around one of the artifacts. The chapters can be played in relatively arbitrary order and usually introduce a part of the city as also some vampires - among them, of course, always the respective owner of the artifact. However, the chapters do not only focus on the central task but always offer secondary characters and additional storylines to give the players a more colourful picture and offer deeper insights into the vampiric world. The way the characters behave towards the non-player characters also has an impact on the later chapters. The challenges are manifold and confront the players again and again with different situations to obtain the artifacts.

The idea that most of the chapters offer flashbacks that not only give impressions of London at other times but also offer more in-depth insights into the central characters is brilliant. Within these chapters also the most important vampires are introduced with background and the game stats. These representations are very well structured and very detailed: a description can easily be longer than two pages. Even if the events in the campaign shape the metaplot of the World of Darkness, the players have a lot of freedom here, how they behave. They can make their own decisions so that the story can end extremely different in the final chapter. However, players cannot change the fact that London will fall as a result of Operation Antigen. In the appendices, the book also provides some information about London as a city, but without providing the information content of a classic city book. Besides, some loresheets supplement the game material. At the end, the ready-made player characters are presented, which are very diverse and very well designed.

The Fall of London is in an unusual sourcebook. Specific stories have been rare with Vampire so far, but The Fall of London is not a sourcebook to play London as a city in the long run but presents the city in one of its most critical moments. The ready-made characters - as much as many players probably do not want to use them - are an essential part of the story. They are crucial for the players to get in contact with some quite legendary vampires and to be able to interact with them on an equal level, at least roughly. However, meeting vampire elders during the first great vampire hunt (which will develop into the Second Inquisition) confronts players with an extreme situation. Also, the players often have to make difficult decisions, none of which can be clearly identified as right or wrong, but which can have significant consequences. And of course, players - unlike their characters - probably know that London will fall. This is a fact they cannot avert.

Personally, I enjoyed The Fall of London, because players can not only experience a critical moment in the history of Vampire but also help shape it. This approach makes them an active part of the metaplot. The price for this, however, is that players have to use ready-made characters, which is perhaps not bad considering the threat level. The non-player characters, some of which you already know from the former London sourcebook for Vampire Victorian Age, are updated here. However, they look comparatively weak due to the current discipline limit of five points, which is especially true for the real heavyweights in this adventure. Like all new books, The Fall of London uses the new layout. It relies more on photos than on drawings, which leads to a comparatively lower number of vampire illustrations in comparison.

If you're looking for a London sourcebook to play a long-term Vampire campaign in one of the biggest and most powerful Camarilla cities, you will not be happy with this book. However, those who want their players to experience and help shape a historic moment in the world of Vampire and are not frightened by the appearance of some legendary vampires, will get a comprehensive campaign with The Fall of London, which will challenge the players for many game nights. With its new design and its far-reaching background, The Fall of London breaks new ground here, which sets a good example fort future sourcebooks. I recommend The Fall of London as an excellent for any Vampire group - especially for those looking for a real challenge.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition: Fall of London
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Vampire: The Masquerade – New Blood Starter Pack
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/03/2020 11:17:21

New Blood for Vampire - a Mephisto review

New Blood Starter Pack

As the name suggests, the New Blood Starter Pack is designed to find "fresh blood" for Vampire V5. The New Blood Starter Pack consists of several elements: some ready-made characters, a small rules booklet, an adventure booklet and several cards for victims and enemies, as well as a template for the relationship network of the characters. The whole package serves as a starter adventure for new players (or for players who are not yet familiar with the new rules). It starts with several newly created vampires waking up in a cold storage house - these are, of course, the ready-made characters. In several scenes, the characters are introduced to their new state and gradually learn about the world of the vampires. The story is designed in such a way that each chapter deals with different themes or rules. One chapter focuses on the topics of bloodthirst and the hunt. Another one introduces the various sects of the vampires, who get an appearance. While the adventure is interspersed with short rule fragments that always explain the rules that are needed at the moment, the New Blood Starter Pack also contains a kind of brief rule booklet. This Reference Guide summarizes the essential rule concepts and backgrounds once again. The additional cards, for their part, allow you to quickly insert potential victims or opponents of the vampires for a handy reference.

While the adventure does a very good job of introducing new players (and possibly gamemasters as well) to the world of vampires and explaining themes and rules, experienced players will probably have limited use for this set - also because they will certainly want to start with their own characters. For newcomers, however, this is an excellent start to gradually learn the rules and develop a feeling for the game. The additional booklet for the rules and background is, in my opinion, a useful handout in any case. It is very convenient here that all documents may be copied for personal use. Also, the characters themselves and the approach to gradually incorporate their characteristics into the game while summarizing the most important rule concepts, backgrounds, and special features is well done. From my point of view, the game cards for victims and opponents are a valuable tool, because you can quickly improvise hunting scenes. If you don't want to print out these cards, you can also use a table for reference.

For novice Vampire players who want to get a taste of the system or the new edition, the New Blood Starter Pack offers a perfect and compact starter pack. However, if the group has "tasted blood", you will of course not be able to avoid the rulebook. Even for more experienced groups, the cards and the quick rule summary are a helpful addition, which can also make it easier for veterans to get back into the game.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade – New Blood Starter Pack
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ALIEN RPG Core Rulebook
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/01/2020 08:02:11

In space no one can hear the characters scream - a Mephisto review

Alien RPG

To mark the anniversary of the first and still outstanding film in the Alien series, Fria Ligan announced a new roleplaying game in this dark science fiction universe. After the publisher has given a first impression of the game with the Alien Cinematic Starter Kit, the core rules are now available.

Alien takes place in the year 2183 when humanity colonized many star systems and penetrated deep into space. But this is not a shining vision of the future. Life in the colonies is pragmatic at best and in most cases hard. Spaceships are functional and have the aesthetics of construction machines. Several power blocs have divided up the star systems among themselves, but it is often the big corporations that really hold the reins - and always look at the colonies with profit in their minds. And even if life in space is already full of deadly dangers, there have been rumors for some time about a monstrous species that poses a deadly threat to humanity. While powerful factions are trying to suppress these rumors, the corporations are pursuing their interests - the prospect of a lucrative bioweapon is tempting here...

The Alien RPG is based on the film series that began with Alien. Therefore, the timeline in the book covers the storyline of the films from Prometheus to Alien 3 and also takes the events from the computer game Alien Isolation as canonical background. Only the fourth film, Alien - Resurrection, does not play a role here, as it takes place in the future in terms of time. The game world, which presents itself to the players here, consists of the colonies in space, which are operated by the various corporations. Life on this frontier is characterized by a variety of dangers, and of course, there are also independence aspirations of some colonies. So it is the Marines who are supposed to keep order here. And, unsurprisingly, there are, of course, extraterrestrial life forms that pose a particular threat to the lives of the colonists and ship crews.

The idea of the Alien RPG is, among other things, that it works with two game modes. On the one hand, there is the campaign mode and on the other hand, the cinematic mode, which corresponds to an action-packed single adventure. The cinematic mode clearly emulates the movies: A small group of people is confronted with the dangers of outer space and alien monsters and has to fight for their survival. The death of the player characters is an apparent threat in this version. There is also internal friction within the group, as there are friendships as well as enmities and personal goals. With the scenario, Hope's Last Day, which takes place in the colony of Hadley's Hope, this approach to the game is demonstrated. Anyone familiar with the Alien universe can guess what the player characters can expect here...

But Alien also offers a campaign mode and three different settings: Space Trucker, Colonial Marines and Frontier Colonists. While Space Trucker as a crew on a spaceship - usually a freighter - and the Space Colonists as pioneers on new (and not always life-friendly) worlds belong to the hard-working population, the Marines are experienced soldiers with the appropriate armament (which is still not a pleasant job considering the dangers). The character creation is based on a career the player chooses - e.g. Colonial Marine, Company Agent or Pilot - which pre-defines the selection and distribution of the game statistics. At the same time, each character gets an agenda, i.e. an individual game objective, which can create further potential for conflict. Besides, each player character names a buddy and a rival - i.e. two characters with whom he or she is particularly connected. It is also possible to play androids, but these have completely different rules. They are more robust and don't know stress (which can be an advantage, but sometimes also a disadvantage) - and they can't force dice rolls.

Alien is based on six-sided dice. In tests, one of four different attributes is combined with one of twelve skills. This result is rolled as a number of six-sided dice. Tests can be repeated and forced, but this causes stress points. The special feature of stress points is that each stress point means an additional pool dice. Stressed out characters can thus definitely rise above themselves and achieve more. However, 1s rolled on the stress dice lead to panic attacks, which, depending on their severity, can get the individual character or his whole group into trouble. And as a rule, the stress increases quickly within an adventure...

One focus of the rules is on fighting and panic. These fights are designed so that the situation can quickly get out of control and then become quite deadly. If, as in the test game, several characters panic and this panic spreads, even a single alien life form becomes a real threat. The fact that the loss of the few health points results in critical injuries (up to an immediately fatal wound) further increases the drama. Accordingly, the equipment focuses strongly on weapons, but also provides vital equipment to survive in space. Vehicles are presented from normal ground vehicles to large spaceships, and rules for fights between spaceships are provided. In vehicle combat, critical hits can also quickly have fatal consequences.

A large part of the book is devoted to the setting and introduces life in the 22nd century. Of course, the background, which did not play a role in the films, is also provided. A look is taken at the big power blocks, various colonies and the corporations - above all Weyland-Yutani, of course. Although these chapters offer many examples and also details, the picture of the game world remains sometimes a bit vague with the aspects that didn't appear in the movies - maybe also because it is simply very large with its many colonies, so that everything can only be briefly touched upon. On the other hand, the alien life forms are presented meticulously and in detail, with the xenomorphs and neomorphs of the films being the focus here.

Chapters for the game master - who is called Game Mother here as an allusion to the computer Mother - round off the book, and with Hope's last day there is also tough ready-to-play scenario for the players.

In its presentation, the book clearly focuses on the content of the films. The rules are strongly optimized to reflect their storylines and action, but the background also stays within this narrow framework. The illustrations and the layout fit the atmosphere of the setting perfectly.

The Alien Cinematic Starter Kit has already definitely proven that Alien is suitable for playing cinematic one-shots. The rules are consistent, and especially the stress rules offer interesting possibilities. Whether Alien is really suited for long-term campaigns has yet to be proven, because, in my opinion, the high threat level fits the setting very well - but it's not really compatible with a campaign (unless the players are allowed to change characters frequently). Of course, you can also play scenarios with Alien in which the xeno- and neomorphs do not appear in the role of the antagonists, but then the question arises whether the expectations of the players for an Alien RPG are fulfilled. For cinematic-style one-shots, however, Alien offers a coherent, atmospheric and hard-hitting roleplaying game that fills a successful niche with the stress levels and different deadly threats that the player characters have to deal with.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ALIEN RPG Core Rulebook
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ALIEN RPG Chariot of the Gods Scenario
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/30/2020 09:40:22

In space, no one can hear your characters die - a Mephisto review

Chariot of God

When several space truckers are suddenly awakened from their cold sleep by the ship's computer during a routine transport to answer the call for help from a spaceship that has been missing for decades, this does not bode well - especially when this mission takes place in an Alien universe...

Chariot of God is an entry-level adventure for the Alien RPG, which was also included in the Cinematic Starter Kit. The adventure follows one of the two approaches of role-playing games, called "cinematic", which keeps close to the approach of the movies. The plot focuses on a dangerous one-shot, which takes into account the fact that characters can die (and they probably will). The aim is to capture the dark and harsh flair of the movies and to start the plot directly.

Chariot of God provides the necessary material for this, starting with ready-made characters with conflict potential and their own goals, through the deck plans of the two spaceships, to a plot that takes up the Alien theme and throws the player characters into a deadly scenario.

Chariot of God is very well designed and confronts the players with one threat after the next, so that the adventure is a permanent fight for survival, illustrating the different game mechanics.

From my point of view, Chariot of God is an excellent adventure that manages to capture the flair of the films - and their threat level. If you want to play the hard fight for survival in its various facets, you'll get a story in the style of the movies. However, those who are attached to the survival of the characters or think that a game should end with sucess, should rather avoid this challenge...

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ALIEN RPG Chariot of the Gods Scenario
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ALIEN RPG Maps and Markers Pack
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/30/2020 09:32:00
Alien Maps and Marker Pack

The Alien Maps and Marker Pack contains a star map, maps of the colony Hadley's Hope, as well as markers for characters, aliens, spaceships, motion tracker contacts and actions.

Since both the star map and the plans of Hadley's Hope are also included in the rulebook, and both were designed in a way that a printout will cost a lot of toner, this extension in the PDF version makes only limited sense in my opinion.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
ALIEN RPG Maps and Markers Pack
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Liminal: Repairer of Reputations
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/30/2020 01:41:05

In the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - a Mephisto review

Repairer of Reputations

It begins with the suspicious death of a bookseller. After a few mysterious break-ins, it quickly becomes apparent that there must be more to the case. Of course, it's up to the crew of the players to solve the case - and to prevent worse.

Repairer of Reputations is another short adventure for Liminal, which only needs just 11 pages for its story. The interesting point of this adventure is the way the story is linked to the historical figure of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and events in his history. On the other hand, the options of the players in this story seem a bit limited, because they can only explore a handful of locations before the finale, which can be very flexible.

Repairer of Reputations is a short adventure with an exciting storyline and interesting details, but playing this story will probably require some additional input from the game master.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Liminal: Repairer of Reputations
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Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/25/2020 05:00:31

A return to the most colorful World of Darkness - a Mephisto review

Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition

The fifth of the original systems of the World of Darkness presented a new kind of supernatural beings with an unique background: the changelings. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the system, an anniversary edition was also published for Changeling: The Dreaming, which with about 500 pages offers a very comprehensive introduction to the most colorful World of Darkness.

Changeling revolves around the world of changelings - fairy creatures fused with human bodies. The fairies are originally creatures of dreams and were long present in their original form in the world of mortals until several disasters closed the connection to Arcadia, the realm of the fairies. Many of the fairies, especially the noble Sidhe, fled from the suddenly hostile world back to their own realm. While the nobles succeeded in this escape in many cases, most of the commoners had to stay behind. Separated from the fairy realm, they were forced to find a new survival strategy, which consisted of binding their fragile souls to the bodies of mortals. This is how the first changelings came into being, who over the centuries reorganized their lives.

With the moon landing, however, the dreams of humans were so inspired that the gates to Arcadia opened again and the fugitives were able to return. And, of course, there were conflicts, because the commoners, who had built their own society for centuries, were not very enthusiastic about the idea of simply submitting to the returning nobles again.

But it is not only the conflicts between the commoners and the nobility that divide the world of fairy creatures but also the different courts, Seelie and Unseelie, different kinds of changeling types and even wholly different opponents make the world of changelings quite "interesting". However, the greatest threat to changelings is banality. As creatures of dreams, creativity and fantasy are an elixir of life for them and the energy they need to survive and use their special abilities. Therefore, changelings are attracted to creative individuals who can create this glamour for them. Routine, everyday life, worries and all the things that burden people's daily lives, on the other hand, are poison to fairy creatures. Banality poses a real problem for them and endangers their existence by making them lose contact with their fairy soul, and thus they can become ordinary people. On the other hand, the changelings also see the world of dreams and the so-called Chimera, which are real to them and with which they can interact. It is quite possible that a changeling has a sword fight with a monster Chimera, while passers-by would only see someone waving his arms wildly...

Changeling again has an entirely different background than the rest of the World of Darkness. Besides, the game not only uses the same rule system, but also some typical concepts. Players must first choose one of the different types of fairies, all of which have unique advantages and disadvantages, affinities, looks and opinions. Besides the fact that the anniversary edition has some additional variants that were not included in the original basic rules, the book also offers the fairy creatures of other cultures, such as the Native Americans, the fairies from Hawaii and Asia etc. If this is still not enough for you, a system is also provided to create your own fairy species from scratch.

The special abilities of the changelings are small spells (cantrips), which can either only refer to the world of dreams (and are then relatively simple) or can also affect the world of mortals. Of course, the classical approach of the Umbra for the World of Darkness can be found in the form of various dream realms. While the Autumn People, who embody banality and thus endanger the existence of the changelings by their mere presence, were already potential adversaries, C20 brings a new type of adversary into play with the Thallain. The latter as agents of the primordial evil threaten the entire world.

With its colorful and imaginative world, Changeling may seem like the friendliest game in the World of Darkness at first. Still, the conflict between fantasy and banality is ultimately the most tangible and perhaps saddest conflict players will encounter in the World of Darkness. Nevertheless, Changeling is the role-playing game in the series that offers the most overlap with classic fantasy elements. The anniversary edition not only manages to bring this world back to life, but on the one hand continues to write the history of the game and on the other hand compiles material from various sourcebooks, so that even the player is overwhelmed with the options of what he can play. The Thallain also offer a new and very dark conflict, but in my opinion, this was not necessary at all, because it adds simple black and white conflict to the game and undermines the idea of banality as a subtle threat. Changeling is an unusual game in the World of Darkness and probably only appeals to a limited group of players. For them, however, the anniversary edition, just like the other anniversary editions, is a perfect and comprehensive package to dive deep into this game world.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition
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Fate Condensed
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/25/2020 04:28:22

Highly concentrated updated Fate rules - a Mephisto review

Fate Condensed

After Fate Core and Fate Accelerated, Fate Condensed has now been released - a new edition based on Fate Core, but integrating rule changes and enhancements from various sourcebooks back into the rule book. However, this does not make Fate Condensed more comprehensive than Fate Core, because the other approach of this book is to concentrate the 300 pages of Fate Core rules on 20% of the page number. In a sense, this set of rules is an edition 4.5 of Fate.

Due to the small number of pages very compact, the set of rules also starts directly without much introduction and quickly works its way through the basic principles of Fate. It explains the dice system, the results of the dice rolls, the different types of tests and then, of course, the aspects and Fate points. After that, it continues with more specific rule concepts: teamwork, challenges, competitions, conflicts, character development and game mastering. So the book arrives at the optional rules after just over 40 pages - and here you will find adaptations from previous supplements such as states, extreme consequences, etc.

But even in the core of the rules, some changes have been made. For example, the damage system, which up to now has worked with differently weighted damage boxes, is simplified.

What I really liked about Fate Condensed is the fact that the ruleset manages to summarize the Fate rules (and not the stripped-down rules of Fate Accelerated) compactly on about 60 pages. The rule changes and also the optional rules are an excellent addition that can improve the game flow. For players and gamemasters who already have some experience with Fate, Fate Condensed is a great set of rules, also for looking up things quickly. However, Fate newbies will probably miss the examples and explanations in this concentrate and will have a much harder start in this compact form. But those who have already gained first Fate experiences with Fate Accelerated, for example, will find Fate Condensed a very good way to expand to the more extensive Fate rule base. The fact that the book is on the pay-what-you-want makes it an extremely attractive expansion for Fate fans.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Condensed
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Monster of the Week: Tome of Mysteries
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/25/2020 04:22:50

A massive expansion for Monster of the Week - a Mephisto review

Tome of Mysteries

Monster of the Week not only describes an approach to series where each episode focuses on a new type of monster but is also the title of a roleplaying game based on the rules of Powered by the Apocalypse. In Monster of the Week, player characters act as monster hunters, constantly confronting new monsters.

With Tome of Mysteries, the first expansion to this roleplaying game has been released, which further expands the rules system and setting. It starts with new rules that revolve around the traits of the Weird trait, which depicts typically magic. But now Weird can also be used for unusual techniques, psychic phenomena and the like. This way the game master can adjust the setting, whether magic or other phenomena are in the foreground here (or both exist side by side). Thus the possibilities to use the property Weird become more extensive.

Phenomena is also a new type of mystery, where the focus is not on a monster that needs to be hunted, but on a strange phenomenon, artifact or other threat. The idea here is to be able to depict more adventures in the style of The X-Files. The special moves for the use of Luck are also examined in more detail, and the special move for investigations is modified so that the questions a player can ask with this move are more flexible.

Players will also get more material in the form of four new hunters, namely Gumshoe, a classic private detective, Hex, a witch with forbidden powers, Pararomantic, a hunter with a romantic relationship with a monster, and Searcher, who dedicates his life to the search for the unusual.

The second part of the book consists of essays. They are about clear tips on how to improve the game, how to play Monster of the Week with the short time frame of a convention or how to deal with alternative game themes like gothic horror or children as protagonists. Even though some of these game styles are quite special, you will find very well elaborated and new tips that are not only suitable for Monster of the Week.

The rest of the book - well over half - is made up of about 30 mysteries which cover an extensive range and are sometimes based on well-known inspirations. You can find an adaptation of Wells' time machine, a mystery about Elvis and Nixon or the mysterious computer game Orbital Funk Princess.

The Tome of Mysteries provides extensive material for a Monster of the Week campaign. While the rules and the new playbooks are a nice addition, the focus of this book is actually on the tips and above all the suggestions for mysteries. With no less than 30 of these ideas for adventure (as befits a Powered by The Apocalypse game, these only provide the basic information, but never a defined sequence of events) there should be something for every gaming group to help you play Monster of the Week in the long run - or use this material as a source of inspiration for your own campaign. In my opinion, Tome of Mysteries is an excellent addition to a perfect and very exciting roleplaying game, which is highly recommendable.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster of the Week: Tome of Mysteries
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Legacy: Life Among the Ruins - The Engine of Life Supplement
Publisher: UFO Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/24/2020 08:40:38

Hope among the ruins - a Mephisto review

The Engine of Life

The Engine of Life is another addition to the roleplaying game Legacy, which is thematically dedicated to the aspect of hope. In this sense, the sourcebook is a collection of various additions for the existing game. There is a new character role, the prophet, new landmarks, and a few new wonders to build. The new coda rule is about retiring characters who have each completed their fourth role - and what the consequences are. With the festivals, another rule mechanism is introduced, which on the one hand, stylistically shapes the new society in the ruins through corresponding traditions, but on the other hand, can also bring concrete advantages.

After some essays on the topics of love, traditions, culture and religion - i.e. values that have a special meaning even after the fall and can shape the life among the ruins - six new families and seven new characters are introduced, which further increases the diversity of this game. There are both exciting, but rather classic variations as well as stranger ideas, such as the Timestream Refugees, which arrived from the future to escape a catastrophe or to prevent it now. With Burning Down Babylon, the book also provides a small, relatively compact setting that is suitable for a quicker start.

Overall, The Engine of Life provides a toolbox full of new elements to add to the game. None of them will really change Legacy completely, but thematically, this volume has captured the element of hope that something new and good will emerge from the ruins in a fitting way. In my opinion, the number of options and possibilities to design Legacy has become almost too extensive with all the additions (especially since there is another sourcebook that looks at the post-ruin era from a much more pessimistic perspective). However, if you take the time to try out all these possibilities and elements, you get the chance to play such very individual times after the demise.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins - The Engine of Life Supplement
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