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TSRPG (Travel-Sized RPG)
Publisher: Skirmisher Publishing
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/07/2023 20:14:06

This game has one of those game mechanic ideas that is obvious in retrospect, like all ingenious ideas. If you like playing on the go, and aren't into diceless play, this is a great solution!

It is a simple to learn system that really is good for playing without much equipment - a notepad or a cellphone notes app would be handy, but even this could be skipped in a pinch.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
TSRPG (Travel-Sized RPG)
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Classic Horror Tabletop RPG
Publisher: Total Party Skills
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/18/2023 19:04:56

Bad news: Your characters are all dead. Good news: That's the beginning of the game.

This is an early game in the Total Party Skills series and it feels very experimental. It's a good experiment however. The idea of playing ghost has been done in games before, but the Shadow Zone series has a bit of a different approach.

What do I mean by that? First of all the game is set in the 1970s initially although the author admits that you could play with that date and it not have a huge effect on overall game. It also has a very pulpy feel in the way it presents the horror.

Your characters are ghosts, but there are still stakes to the play. It is very possible for them to be reduced to spiritual wisps by being broken in mind and spirit. The adversaries and allies they will be confronted with are not obviously one or the other. There is a lot of room for a game master to define and shore-up the sandbox that they are initially presented with.

There are some very neat ideas in here that I haven't seen in other games where you play ghosts. For example there are a lot of ghost and spiritual residue from dead animals and dinosaurs and things of that ilk. There is also a bleed over effect from various afterlives and agendas that entities and creatures from those planes might have.

Since the subject of sandbox play was brought up in another review here I thought I would address it. This game is absolutely a sandbox game. The game assumes that the game master will develop their own NPCS for the large part and also the scenarios and agendas typically by orienting them towards the things that were going on in the lives of their player characters before they died.

Later in trees in the rest of this book, since it is a compilation, we'll provide more NPCs, adventure support, and factions to aid with this. The game doesn't present any more of a challenge than any other game that doesn't have a flotilla of modules connected to it. The author does a good job in setting forth large setting bits that hopefully provide food for thought in creating your own adventures as a game master.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Classic Horror Tabletop RPG
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the Total Party System Rules Handbook
Publisher: Total Party Skills
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/18/2023 18:47:01

This book is the compiled rules used in other Total Party Skills products. The game system is tuned to pulp style play and grittier horror play. The system uses six-sided dice and is am attribute + skill versus a diffulty number system. The skill list is very tight, with three skills in several schools. Players can choose to specialize in skills as they advance to give more system depth to them, but at a cost to general use. Supernatural skills often require a specialization.

The game includes rules for magic and psychic powers both of which maintain the pulpy feel of the rest of the game. The rules for spaceships likewise default to a game that assumes the game is set in a single star system, but it would be very easy to add faster-than-light options to them.

The author shows a great deal of creativity and forethought in how they approach their other products and this distillation of the game system is no exception.

If you have other games in the total party skills series you likely don't need to get this book. That said, this book is very handy for applying those rules to your own home-brewed settings and campaigns. Since I do a lot of that, I liked having the rules gathered in one place.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
the Total Party System Rules Handbook
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Spellzard
Publisher: Experimental Playground
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/13/2023 19:10:06

A tight and well-tuned swerve of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy style of game, with charming art. Recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spellzard
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Dauntless: The Heroic Adventure Zine
Publisher: Attention Span Labs
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2021 21:15:16

Dauntless is a 'Zine about horror, the occult, and superheroes. Inspired by public domain pulps, horror stories, and Silver Age comics, it maintains a heroic and positive disposition to the subject throughout.

Inside, the reader will find a meaty combo of essays, articles, fiction, and systemless game ideas all centering around dark doings by sinister supernatural forces. While the articles and fiction are set withing the authors' shared universe, The Ascention Epoch, it is never hard to take the material and move it over to your own table's setting.

The articles are interwoven with each other as well. An NPC in one article will have suggestions for how they might tie into aspects of another, making the whole thing either a menu of stand-alone ideas or a setting book, as suits your needs.

The product description brwaks down the articles very well, and I have been able to find ways to apply the contents to games such as period horror, superheroic modern days, or gritty, occult detective horror.

The 'zine features wonderful art by Shell Presto, one of the author team, as well as Kim Holm, who's dark watercolor style aids in setting a dark mood in sections about the villains. The fiction and game material is by Shell Presto and Mike Debaggio.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dauntless: The Heroic Adventure Zine
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Agents of S.W.I.N.G.
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/01/2021 20:58:47

A pitch perfect rendition of the genre mixed with a light and tight FATE backbone. This game has much to recommend it: 60's styling, genre background info, and sample characters that are most of the signature characters of the genre with the serial numbers filed off. Groups looking to run a "League of Extraordinarily Groovy Gentlemen" style game, a homage to an old favorite, or just set out on that show you wished they'd made will be very hard-pressed to find a game better suited.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Agents of S.W.I.N.G.
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Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise
Publisher: Kortthalis Publishing
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/28/2020 20:23:59

Let me start by saying, Cha’alt is “stupid gonzo” and satirical take on metal-band album cover science fantasy. If you worry about content, maybe ask someone who has it, or give it a pass. If you are punk, irreverent, have a bent sense of humor, or just love oddity in large scoops – the deserts of Cha’alt call. Just, and I am not kidding here, bring a few pre-gens. Life is rough and cheap here, but it is also interesting and amusing.

Fuchsia Malaise advances the history for Cha'alt 18 months. In that time, a new enclave of no-goods has arrived from the stars in the form of the people of the Federation. Those who know Venger’s other works will recognize them as the same group that plagues the long nights of Alpha Blue. Elysium is a camp of these off-worlders that has taken control of the lucrative zoth mining of the planet. They have banned zoth fracking techniques and instead use manual labor which they attract by distributing the titular Fuchsia Malaise, a drug that keep workers docile and compliant.

A new entity roams the skies dripping a healing ichor that can occasionally have disastrous effects. Healing can be deadly when the thing wrong with you is...you. A cult arises around this creature, because the people of Cha’alt are prone to that sort of thing.

The new zoth mining techniques are also causing some sort of environmental issue that is eliminating moisture at an alarming rate. Seabeds are receding, uncovering wrecks that have lain unseen until now. Adventurers flock to the opportunities and dangers these wrecks present.

The product itself is colorful and has the same artistic flair of the original book. The material here is a buffet of options, not a single meal. Many charts and tables present new options and goodies to help keep your game gonzo, madcap, and dangerous. A number of new locations are mapped out, three mini-adventures are put forth, and some details of new major encounters are fleshed out.

The material here is modular, fits the ‘stupid gonzo” feel of Cha’alt, and is loaded with the pop culture love and ham-fisted but loveable satire of the original Cha’alt. I was glad to see Venger start pulling his works together by brings in the Federation onto Cha’alt. Fans of his other works will no doubt be glad to cross-over things between the product lines.

The product ends up with three addendums that contain previous freebies published as stand alone products. The first two are Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 (revised) and Cha’alt Ascended, which together present a minimalistic and simple D20-flavored system for quick pick-up games. This system is best suited for play online, with its simplicity and rapid boot-strapping.

The final of the appendix offering is, to a paraphrase, OSR like an F-ing Boss. It is a list of points for running Old School renaissance style games. It is a simple manifesto of the core OSR concepts and a discussion of how to apply those to have fun with the style.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise
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Neon City Overdrive
Publisher: Peril Planet
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/11/2020 23:19:06

Fast, simple, and versitile! This game presents the world and the options with tremendous clarity and the system is fast and allows for creativity and improvisation at the table. The book is well presented as well, with good layput and excellent selection of evocative art. The GM is free to tailor the sandbox setting to fit the exact tone of cyberpunk they are trying to create or model. The die mechanic is very simple, but creates tension in play.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Neon City Overdrive
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Creator Reply:
Thank you very much for this review! It is appreciated. :)
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Tequendria: Fantastical Roleplaying
Publisher: Trollish Delver Games
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2020 09:15:38

USR meets Lord Dunsany makes for a charming, cool, evocative game. Dunsany is one of the giants on whose shoulders Tolkein stood and his works are dreamy and picaresque. This game does that justice.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tequendria: Fantastical Roleplaying
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Skinjobs
Publisher: Peril Planet
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/30/2020 22:50:58

More candy for the excellent core game, this supplement focus on the various options you have when you have a Ghost Chip. There is also some more job tables to get the creative juices flowing and some notes of vehicles and chase scenes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Skinjobs
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the kind review!
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Cha'alt Ascended
Publisher: Kortthalis Publishing
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/27/2019 23:04:59

Cha’alt is a gonzo, post-apocalyptic science-fantasy setting for Old School style play. It is not tied to a particular system, but includes the slim and serviceable Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 in the back.

This product, Cha’alt Ascended, provides players with optional rules for those using Crimson Dragon Slayer D20, but that could easily be used in any OSR game with very little adaptation.

The first of these additions are a new way to track Sorcery in CDS20. In keeping with the design goals of the system, they are fairly simple and low on bookkeeping, but require a GM to narrate outcomes in keeping with the sorcerer’s level.

The second offering is the most exciting to me, and the bulk of the product. It lays out a simple method for adding abilities to OSR characters that are like feats from later editions of the D20 games. A character is unlikely to get more than two of these over their career, so the rules avoid the pitfalls of the “feat build” nonsense if other D20 games. The game lists a great deal of samples, but it wouldn’t be hard for a GM to write more of their own or to tailor those listed to their own setting.

The last offering is a set of random backgrounds for giving characters a heroic or interesting background before starting play. It features twenty possible pasts that tie your character to the world and the factions of Cha’alt.

The book is laid out well, in the same style as the main setting book. There is some attractive art, including two full page pieces. One of the full-page item is a very amusing comic style depiction of the author in a therapy session with H. P. Lovecraft with some amusing dialogue.

I have a minor nitpick. While the backgrounds and such are very nice for screen reading, I imagine they would not print very cleanly, so a screen and print version, or some layers to allow for clean printing would be nice.

Overall, the product adds some handy extras to those playing in the Cha’alt setting, and much of the material could be used easily with other OSR fantasy games. It is good value for money.

I was given a review copy of the PDF in return for an honest review as seen above.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt Ascended
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Cha'alt
Publisher: Kortthalis Publishing
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/08/2019 16:48:46

First let me say I am a paying customer for this game, having backed the Kickstarter. I was not supplied a review copy for free.

Cha'alt is primarily an adventure setting surrounding a mega dungeon, in this case the Black Pyramid, that has two more dungeons in its local area. It is also a gonzo send-up/celebration of pop culture in an over-the-top, winking manner. The title is not as explicit as some of the author's other titles, but it is racy in places and there is some nudity in bits of the artwork.

The tale of Cha'alt is one that allows for a maximum amount of genre mashups to be had. The world was once a fantasy land that worshipped powerful gods that finally retreated to slumber underground. While they slept, the people on the surface developed technologically and made contact with other worlds via a bustling spaceport. All that ends when the old gods reawaken and get a bit testy with everyone. After the massive destruction, people live in a barren desert, clinging to all of the magic and technology they can scavenge, and living with the usual post-apocalyptic tropes.

Aliens still visit, but now they just come to milk a precious resource from the desert in a way Frank Herbert might find familiar. Various camps vie for what remains of power over the place, and the PCs will have to make some friends and likely get pulled into the rivalries in some way as they do what they came here for.

What they came here for is to do some dungeon crawling. The two "side quest" dungeons are fairly straight-forward dungeon crawls of standard size (when one forgets that one of them is a frozen creature). The large mega-dungeon is a different beast, being a dimensionally-transcendent creation of the powerful forces that once fought over this world. No spoilers, but it gets odd and some of the encounters, while engaging and cool, are a winking jest at things in the real world at times. One example is a humorous entry on the Wandering Monster chart - the Crab Racoon oozes a sweet red fluid as it moves, possibly suitable for dipping.

Stat blocks are presented for 5th Edition and the design of these is pretty crisp - combining small and terse with the information you need at a glance. The maps are supplemented with multipole copies (with an without numbers) so you can present clean information to players.

Physically the book is very colorful and filled with art of a gonzo and sometimes disturbing and sometimes adult nature. Readers familiar with Alpha Blue may be concerned that the game will get more lurid then they hoped. That is not the case, but the setting is wild - containing adult themes and more than a few sidelong glances at current events and occasional political mishaps. It is not lurid, but is a gonzo sci-fi meets fantasy meets horror with "adult" elements.

Finally, the last portion of the book is a copy of Crimson Dragon Slayer d20, which is a rules-light system put together to run 5th Ed modules without having to translate the system too much. It is simple, fast playing, and has an overall OSR feel that the author styles "O5R". These rules are not necessary to play the module, but are offered as a an extra to readers.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
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Crimson Dragon Slayer D20
Publisher: Kortthalis Publishing
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/09/2019 20:49:07

This book is a lean, tight, and interesting take on traditional fantasy roleplaying tune for online or chat play. Cruft gets chopped away with a chainsaw to serve the speed and low-prep necessities of that format.

The author dubs this "O5R" roleplaying because it combines the feel of the newest hotness in dungeoneering with that scrappy indie OSR vibe. It's a gaming goulash ready for a dungeon to delve into.

I knew I liked it because I started house ruling it a bit before I was even done. Chances are, you will too, but that is what the OSR is about.

The book looks great as well, with colorful page presentation. Easily worth twice the price! (grin)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Dragon Slayer D20
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For Those Who Stay
Publisher: Cloud Monster Press
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/25/2018 20:14:16

Friends and I used to play this game in an informal way, trying to see if we could be on a 30 minute set on Art Bell, etc. John Titor apparently beat us all to it.

This game gives some fun structure to such bull sessions. Simple and sweet rules for people that like to think on their feet.

If you get good at it, please be ethical and don't try and go on a podcast or radio show - or at least give us a whopper if you do. (wink)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
For Those Who Stay
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The Exodus System
Publisher: Thunderegg Productions
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/03/2018 18:06:59

The Exodus System is a simple game with a lot of good ideas in it. Some of the most innovative gaming ideas of recent history have been elded to a simple OSR sensibility.

Characters are built on atrribute dice, a Professional Selection, A combat Mode Selection, Two Flavors (these are packets of "Cool things" similar to Cypher System's Foci), and a set of skills.

Task resolution is simple and fast, like most OSR titles. Ther are also some tables and suc h to aid with adventure design ideas for GMs stuck for an idea.

The material inside has what is needed to play, but I am sure anyone who reads it is going to be inspired to craft a few Flavors of their own, and I am sure that is exactly what Mr. Ross wants you to do. Indeed, the first supplement showcases a custom flavor to give mechanical advantages to centuar characters.

There is some very nice art in the book and the layout is clean and sharp. Thunderegg has been very repsonsive adding features and options to the PDF to make it more useful, and that shows a great repsect and dedication to their customers.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Exodus System
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review! Yes, I would love to see more fan-made Flavors. One fellow made up three sweet Flavors, including Subterranean, Doomed and Gingerbread Man. I'm actually gearing up to play either a Doomed Gingerbread Man or a Raging Gingerbread Man right now.
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