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Blood on the Trail • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/30/2021 12:13:54

Wild West vampires - a Mephisto review

Blood on the trail

Vampires in the Wild West - that would be the short summary of the Fate world Blood on the trail. Two ideas collide in this game world: on the one hand, it's about the development of the American West, when wagon trains of settlers set out to claim land there and find a new home. The other idea is that vampires have also found their way to North America and lie in wait for their victims. For them, the wagon trains represent an ideal target.

Blood on the trail first introduces the setting and outlines the background, which is partly based on historical developments, but in addition, mixes in the vampire stories and also sprinkles in some bizarre rumors. The vampires, who are the opponents of the settlers here, are presented in different variations. Among others, there are feral vampires hunting as animal-like packs or the hungry ones that seek their victims among their own family. There is even some kind of swarm vampires that act as a single organism. While this gives the game master some options to adapt the primary enemies to his players, on the player side, it is first necessary to define the wagon train, in addition to creating the characters. The wagon train is described by several statistics such as size, speed, supplies, etc. Next, leaders - which can be player characters but do not have to - are selected for the various resources. Important non-player characters are also specified at this point.

The journey to the West proceeds over several stages, each consisting of legs of the journey and stop-overs. Depending on the setup, the game master can make the campaign longer or shorter. Thus, each leg of the journey has its own challenges, problems, or opportunities that confront the player characters on a daily basis. At a certain point, the main threat is added: the attacks by the vampires. With Seven Brides for seven vampires, the book also provides a short sample campaign that makes the setting a bit more accessible and immediately playable. As with most Fate worlds, Blood on the trail is a rather unusual setting that combines two different ideas. Thus, the inclined game master will find ideas for the wagon train scenario as well as approaches to include vampires in his game. However, the way the setting is described, this unusual mixture of ideas seems coherent. From my point of view, Blood on the trail is a fitting setting for a smaller horror campaign with a unique background.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Blood on the Trail • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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Truth Beyond Paradox
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/30/2021 12:11:28

It's worth to go beyond - a Mephisto review

Truth beyond Paradox

The title of the anthology Truth beyond Paradox is a direct allusion to the first short story volume published for Mage: Truth until Paradox. In this new volume, the authors again set out to illuminate the highly diverse world of Mage with their short stories. Accordingly, as diverse as the role-playing world is, the short stories also turn out to be very different in terms of plot, characters, and backgrounds. However, a common denominator is that they all generally focus on individual characters and disregard the larger metaplot of the game world. Here, it's not about the large groups of mages that clash in the Ascension War, but rather the individual paths to a mage's enlightenment.

For example, Wildfire Sky describes a mage for whom magic literally means playing with fire. Here, her personal interpretation of magic is much more important than the actual plot of the story. In Theogenesis Gimmick, the reader experiences the spontaneous and somewhat bizarre awakening of a mage. Famished Road, in turn, is about the confrontation of a mage and his friends with a dangerous threat from the spirit world. Each other story finds its particular topic. From my point of view, however, the highlight of this anthology is the last story. A Firm Place to Stand describes the rise of a young mage. Here, the larger organizations and their far-reaching goals in the world of Mage play a role. What is remarkable here is that the focus is not on the Traditions, but on the Technocracy - and that the portrayal of this organization is quite different from what one might expect.

As with most World of Darkness short story volumes, the focus is not on the system's metaplot or the larger game world. Instead, the stories present individual mages and thus a multi-faceted spectrum of backgrounds, ideas, moods, and characters. Therefore, even if no great metaplot secrets are revealed here, Truth beyond Paradox does an excellent job providing inspiration for Mage players. Alternatively, you can simply enjoy this collection of entertaining and well-written stories.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Truth Beyond Paradox
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The Strix Chronicle Anthology
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2021 08:16:46

Monsters for monsters - a Mephisto review

The Strix Chronicle

The Strix Chronicle is an anthology set against the backdrop of Vampire Requiem, focusing on the new enemies of the role-playing game's 2nd edition, the Strix. 13 stories tell the clash of the vampires with these ghostly creatures, which are described as shadowy owl-like creatures with a burning hatred for the vampires. At the same time, the stories are quite diverse. While the early stories focus on vampires being confronted with a threat they do not understand - and here the reader probably knows more than the characters in the story - the vampires in the later stories are in many cases much better prepared (which doesn't always mean things end up better). Most of the stories are entertaining and well-written — offering a varied range. There are fascinating ideas to be found, such as Lullay, Lullay, which is told from the point of view of a ghoul who is like a father to a powerful child vampire. In Noblesse Oblige, the vampire calling himself Count Dracula makes a rather over-the-top funny appearance. Some stories offer well-done twists, like There Are No Owls in Seattle or even Second Chance, which put their own spin on the theme.

From my point of view, The Strix Chronicle is a great collection that offers a broad range of stories despite the narrow common theme of confronting the Strix. Unfortunately, the anthology does not — as some might expect — really clear up the mystery of the Strix. However, from my point of view, this keeping the mystery fits the very entertaining collection of stories.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Strix Chronicle Anthology
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Silent Knife
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2021 08:14:34

Vampiric intrigues in Boston - a Mephisto review

Silent Knife

Because she was able to prevent a betrayal in the right place at the right time, the young vampire Ariadne has been appointed sheriff in the city of Boston. For her Prince, Liliane, she is the precise tool that, sword in hand, stops the traitors to the high ideals of the domain. Despite her young age, the vampire is a cold and efficient killing machine. However, when she meets a person from her past and remembers the person she once was, the problems begin. Not only proves the fight against the traitors to be more difficult than planned, but other vampires are also causing trouble. In the prince's court, some vampires envy Ariadne her position, and members of Invictus from outside the city sense the domain's perceived weakness.

While Silent Knife initially lays it on a bit thick with the stereotypical image of the young, attractive female vampire in a bodysuit elegantly slashing her way through enemies with her swords, the story does develop well, even if some twists are predictable. The battle against Prince Liliane's enemies, the looming dark threat that also draws the city's mages into the story, the intrigues of the other vampires, and, last but not least, the protagonist's confrontation with her former humanity combine to create an entertaining story. However, the references to Vampire Requiem are vague as neither clans are mentioned, nor do covenants beyond the Invictus appear. Whether this is a real disadvantage depends on the viewpoint, but I think a bit more reference to the role-playing game would have been fitting - but Silent Knife is certainly an entertaining read.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Silent Knife
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CTHULHU: Expeditionen
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2021 08:11:42

Auf zu unbekanntem Grauen - eine Mephisto Rezension

Expeditionen

Expeditionen ist ein kombinierter Quellen- und Abenteuerband, der sich des Themas Expeditionen in der Welt von Cthulhu widmet. So drehen sich die ersten knapp 30 Seiten um das Thema Expeditionen im historischen Kontext des ausgehenden 19. und beginnenden 20. Jahrhunderts. Hier werden Motivationen und Hintergründe für Expeditionen beschrieben und einige Informationen zu bekannten realen (und fiktiven) Expeditionen in dieser Zeit geliefert. Auch Aspekte wie Frauen auf Expeditionen wird Raum gewidmet. Eine der wichtigen Fragen lautet, wer die Expedition bezahlen soll und wie die nötigen finanziellen Mittel zusammenkommen. Dieses Thema wird auch regeltechnisch abgedeckt. Das einfache Regelsystem dafür geht davon aus, mittels Spielwerten zu prüfen, ob die nötigen Ressourcen für die Expedition zur Verfügung stehen, und berücksichtigt diese im Verlauf der Expedition, um zu bestimmen, wie komfortabel (oder auch nicht) die Expedition abläuft. Einige allgemeine Ansatzpunkte, wie man Expeditionen sowohl in der Vorbereitung als auch im Ablauf gestalten kann, werden hier vorgestellt, wobei der kleine Regelteil eher im Hintergrund bleibt.

Den Hauptteil des Buchs machen fünf Expeditionen aus, die konkret zum Spielen einladen. In Ewiges Eis geht es an den Nordpol auf der Suche nach einem verschollenen Zeppelin – und damit in eine gefährliche Welt, die nicht nur durch die lebensfeindlichen Elemente zu einer tödlichen Bedrohung werden kann. Herz der Finsternis führt die Investigatoren in die Tiefen Afrikas und in menschliche Abgründe – angelehnt auch an den Hintergrund von Apocalypse Now. Bei Die letzte Ruhe der Minna B müssen die Spielercharaktere in die Südsee reisen, um ein bizarres Rätsel zu lösen: nämlich wie ein Matrose, dessen Schiff in Norwegen verschollen ist, kurze Zeit später an diesem entfernten Ort auftauchen konnte. Der Fluch des goldenen Armbands ist eine Schatzjagd: Die Spielercharaktere sollen den zweiten Teil eines Armbands finden, um so hinter das Geheimnis eines Piratenschatzes zu kommen. Natürlich sind auch hier wieder finstere Mächte im Spiel. In Polaris wandern die Investigatoren auf den Spuren des Polarforschers Roald Amundsen, der in der eisigen Wildnis verschollen ist, und suchen eine vergessene Stadt im ewigen Eis.

Das Expeditionsthema ist prinzipiell sehr passend für Cthulhu und auch ein guter Kontrast zu Stadtabenteuern, da hier die Herausforderungen ganz andere sind. Auch die Beschreibung der Aspekte einer Expedition ergeben Sinn, wobei für mich der Regelteil eher aufgesetzt und unnötig wirkt und gerade bei der Finanzierung in den Bereich der Buchführung abgleitet. Die Abenteuer sind thematisch abwechslungsreich und konfrontieren die Spielercharaktere an sehr unterschiedlichen Orten mit sehr unterschiedlichen Gefahren (sowohl weltlichen als auch übernatürlichen). Besonders Die letzte Ruhe der Minna B hat einen spannenden und bizarren Hintergrund, während Herz der Finsternis eine sehr düstere Geschichte erzählt – die mit den richtigen Spielern sicher sehr intensiv sein kann. Was mir persönlich allerdings nicht gefallen hat, ist der Ansatz, wie Polaris mit historischen Persönlichkeiten umgeht und sie wahrscheinlich in einer Art und Weise darstellt, die ihnen nicht gerecht werden.

Das Thema Expeditionen bietet einen spannenden Aspekt für Cthulhu, der auch ein wenig abseits bekannter Pfade liegt, und besonders die Einführung, aber auch die Abenteuer transportieren durchaus das Potential des Themas. Für den Spielleiter gibt es neben Inspiration einiges konkretes Spielmaterial, aber hier ist das klassische Problem mancher Cthulhu-Quellenbände präsent, nämlich dass es vermutlich schwierig ist, innerhalb einer Spielrunde gleich mehrere Expeditionen zu spielen, auch weil dies ein eher untypisches Thema für Cthulhu ist, bei dem die klassische Ermittlungsarbeit stark zurückgeschnitten wird. Die Abenteuer sind spannend, fallen aber für mich hinter einige andere Abenteuer der letzten Veröffentlichungen zurück. Insbesondere sollte man wissen (auch wenn in der Einleitung davor gewarnt wird), dass sich das Buch bewusst der Sprache und Ausdrücke und damit Sichtweise der entsprechenden Zeitepoche bedient, sodass die Investigatoren auch mit definitiv politisch nicht korrekten „Wilden“ konfrontiert werden.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CTHULHU: Expeditionen
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Cthulhu: Rostocks Sieben
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2021 08:09:04

Eine Stadt gegen die Investigatoren - eine Mephisto Rezension

Rostocks Sieben

Rostocks Sieben ist ein Abenteuerband, der die Investigatoren 1927 in der Hansestadt auf cthulhoide Schrecken treffen lässt. Die Investigatoren, die sich zunächst nicht kennen, werden von einem gemeinsamen Freund eingeladen, doch das persönliche Treffen wird bald von düsteren Ereignissen überschattet. Es gibt nicht nur Tote, sondern schon bald baut sich eine unheimliche Bedrohung in der Stadt auf, die besonders die Spielercharaktere ins Visier nimmt.

Rostocks Sieben ist ein deutsches Abenteuer, das zwar cthulhoide Mächte im Hintergrund verwendet, mit Mythos-Kreaturen allerdings spart. Und wie die meisten aktuellen Abenteuer ist es ein One-Shot, der sich schlecht in eine Kampagne einbauen lässt. Die Hintergrundgeschichte ist ein wenig mit der Historie der Stadt verbunden und konfrontiert die Spielercharaktere mit einem gefährlichen Gegner, der dafür sorgt, dass sich bald die ganze Stadt gegen sie wendet. Die Investigatoren müssen herausfinden, worauf es ihr Gegner abgesehen hat, um ihn stoppen zu können.

An sich ist die Grundidee des Abenteuers interessant gewählt – wenngleich klassische Elemente die Grundsteine bilden, da sich hier alles um ein in mehrere Teile zerschlagenes, gefährliches Artefakt dreht. Auch wenn der Bezug zur Stadtgeschichte stimmig ist, hat mir der Ansatz, real existierende historische Personen direkt an den Mythos zu binden, in dieser Form nicht gefallen. Leider ist der Spannungsbogen des Abenteuers sowohl für den Spielleiter als auch für die Glaubwürdigkeit des Abenteuers aus meiner Sicht schwierig, denn die Geschwindigkeit, mit der sich die Stadt in ein tödliches, von Wahnsinn verzehrtes Horror-Szenario verwandelt, ist nicht recht nachvollziehbar – und passt auch nicht zu dem ansonsten eher subtil gewählten Horror des Spielsystems. Außerdem gibt es für Spielleiter und Spieler keinen definierten Handlungsbogen, um die Bedrohung aufzuhalten, sodass das Risiko besteht, dass die Spieler, ohne genau zu wissen, was sie tun können, von den Ereignissen einfach überrollt werden. In dieser Hinsicht zählt Rostocks Sieben aus meiner Sicht zu den eher schwachen Abenteuern der aktuellen Cthulhu-Reihe.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu: Rostocks Sieben
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Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Falling Crystal
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2021 07:56:50

Baseball instead of battles - a Mephisto review

Operation Fallen Crystal

In the series of new adventures for Achtung! Cthulhu, in Operation Falling Crystal the player characters must travel to Scotland to investigate the discoveries of a university team. Apparently, they have managed to find a large amount of Blauer Kristall - the very substance on which the Nachtwölfe's technology is based. While players investigate the caves and find traces of the mythos, of course, their enemies appear to take possession of the find. Once again, a mythos-race also enters the scene, so players must not only survive in the underground tunnels but stand their ground between Black Sun and mythos creatures.

Again, Operation Falling Crystal is structured in a relatively typical way: At the beginning, it's all about exploration, after which the adventure plunges into action, which also leads to several battles accordingly. The interaction with the Mythos creatures is presented in an interesting way, so Operation Falling Crystal offers another exciting adventure in the current series.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Falling Crystal
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Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Seventh-Inning Slaughter!
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2021 07:55:32

Baseball instead of battles - a Mephisto review

Seventh-Inning Slaughter

Far away from the action of war in Europe, Seventh-Inning Slaughter takes the player characters to a seemingly peaceful place. The scenario is based on a baseball game of the American women's league, which the president himself attends as a spectator on the occasion of Independence Day. But of course, this scenario quickly becomes a deadly danger because stranger and stranger incidents happen during the rounds of the baseball game. In the end, the goal is to stop a deadly threat that will otherwise endanger the president and the safety of America.

Seventh-Inning Slaughter offers some pre-made characters that can be used if the game master wants to involve the players more in the baseball scenario to participate in the game itself. Round by round, the game is described as it unfolds with or without the players' intervention. Also, which each round, more mysterious and later threatening things happen. In the end, the player characters must stop a dangerous ritual if the whole thing is not to end in disaster.

While Seventh-Inning Slaughter offers some good ideas, the overall adventure did not quite convince me - perhaps because I lack any connection to baseball. While the challenges in the individual rounds are interesting, they do not make much sense to me in the context of the entire adventure. On the other hand, the finale seems a bit extreme when a member of the Black Sun tries to underline his importance with a terrorist-motivated ritual.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Seventh-Inning Slaughter!
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Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Vanguard
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2021 07:53:20

Fighting the Nachtwölfe - a Mephisto review

Operation Vanguard

Even before the 2d20 rulebook for Achtung! Cthulhu has been published, Modiphius already provides a series of adventures that can be played with the starter set A quick trip to Paris. In Operation Vanguard, player characters are sent out to explore a secret Nachtwölfe base in the occupied Netherlands. It is up to the player characters to contact the local resistance, scout out the location, and infiltrate the base. Due to the location and security measures, this operation is challenging. While the Black Sun cultists were the agents' antagonists in the first quick-starter adventure, this follow-up mission focuses on the activities of the Nachtwölfe. Thus, the mythos faction that plays around with alien technology is introduced.

Operation Vanguard is an adventure that emphasizes exploration and preparation, as well as combat and action. Of course, the goal here is to uncover sinister experiments being conducted by the Nachtwölfe (although, in reality, DNA that was only discovered in the 1950s, which probably will not matter for most players). Operation Vanguard is thus another introductory adventure to learn the basics of the game and introduce the player characters to another group of antagonists.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Vanguard
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Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Under The Gun
Publisher: Modiphius
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2021 07:51:13

Mythos secrets in Dover - a Mephisto review

Under the gun

The adventure Under the gun has already been published as a starter adventure for the version of Achtung! Cthulhu based on the rules of the 7th edition of Cthulhu. There is now a new edition as part of the 2d20 version of Achtung! Cthulhu. The story remains the same: the players' agents are called to Dover because mysterious caves have been found in the chalk cliffs during the building of defenses against an invasion by the Germans. The player characters first have to deal with the traumatized individuals who have been exploring these caves. After that, they travel to the scene of the mysterious find itself. Here, a battle quickly ensues with several parties having their own interests in the mythos background of this place.

Under the gun is a fitting introductory adventure that highlights two central aspects of the game: on the one hand, gathering clues and questioning people - that is, classic investigative work - and on the other hand, what is even more prominent in Achtung! Cthulhu: the fight against the powers of mythos. As an introduction to the world of Achtung! Cthulhu for the 2d20 system Under the gun is well suited. Even layout and presentation have been enhanced compared to the previous edition.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Under The Gun
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The Cthulhu Hack: Rhan-Tegoth
Publisher: Just Crunch Games
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:36:52
Terror through time - a Mephisto review

Rhan-Tegoth

Rhan-Tegoth is a sourcebook for Cthulhu Hack that revolves around the entity of the same name. Originally a sorcerer-king, he became an entity that exists throughout the ages after being captured by his enemies. This small book briefly introduces Ran-Tegoth's backstory and provides gameplay statistics for the entity. In addition, there are some ideas on how Ran-Tegoth's influence manifests and how the entity can be incorporated into a campaign. A few small game mechanics like a new special skill and two spells round things out.

While Rhan-Tegoth introduces a mythos entity and its various facets in just six pages, there remains the feeling that it would help to know the original story, as otherwise the introduction remains somewhat vague and not all references are clear.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Cthulhu Hack: Rhan-Tegoth
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CTHULHU: Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:36:29
Cthulhu ist erwacht - eine Mephisto Rezension

Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan

Während die meisten bisherigen Cthulhu-Publikationen historische Zeitepochen thematisieren, geht Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan einen anderen Weg. Hier wird das Setting ins Jahr 5000 verlegt, in dem die Welt zu einer „vom kosmischen Grauen überfluteten Hölle“ geworden ist. Cthulhu ist erwacht, und während bei seinem Erwachen in den 1920ern nur einige sensible Seelen an den Rand des Wahnsinns getrieben wurden, hat sein richtiges Erwachen die Welt ins Chaos gestürzt. Der Großteil der Menschheit hat sich in wahnsinnige und blutdürstige Monster verwandelt. Nur in der Region des heutigen Chinas ist ein kleines Reich übrig geblieben, dass sich vor dem Wahnsinn schützen konnte. Durch die ungewöhnliche Allianz der Todlosen mit den Schlangenmenschen – und später noch anderen Mächten – konnte der den Wahnsinn verbreitende Traum Cthulhus ausgesperrt werden. Entsprechend werden die späteren Generationen dieser Überlebenden die Traumlosen genannt, die von den Fieberträumen des Großen Alten nicht berührt wurden. Tsan Chan ist das letzte Rückzugsgebiet der Menschheit vor den unzähligen Schrecken, die nun frei über die Erde marodieren – doch die Menschen zahlen dafür einen hohen Preis. Tsan Chan ist eine drakonische Diktatur, angeführt von einer wuchernden Mythos-Mutation, im Hintergrund von den Todlosen und Schlangenmenschen geleitet. Das Leben in Tsan Chan basiert auf einem Verhaltenskodex, der nur der Weg genannt wird und von dem abzuweichen den Tod bedeutet. Während ein Großteil der technischen Errungenschaften der Menschheit lange vergangen ist, gehört Magie zum täglichen Dasein, während am Rande des Reiches die verschiedenen Feinde immer wieder versuchen, die letzte Bastion der Menschheit zu überrennen.

Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan ist eine Kombination aus Quellenband und Abenteuer. Zunächst erzählt das Buch die Ereignisse bis ins Jahr 5000, und diese Zusammenstellung erinnert ein wenig an die Frühzeit des Cthulhu-Mythos, in der sich diverse Mythos-Rassen und Kreaturen auf der Erde tummelten und Kämpfe lieferten. So sind sowohl Cthulhu und seine wahnsinnigen Anhänger als auch die Älteren Wesen, die Shoggothen, die Mi-Go, die Tcho-Tchos, die Tiefen Wesen, die Ghoule und andere Kreaturen offen auf der Erde unterwegs. Das Reich Tsan Chan wird wiederum durch eine Allianz der Todlosen mit den Schlangenmenschen beherrscht und verfügt über Adelshäuser, die durch Mythos-Mutanten geführt werden und aus deren Reihen auch die Imperatorin stammt. Das Leben in Tsan Chan ist hart und brutal und geprägt durch Misstrauen und Paranoia, um Gefahren zu erkennen und diese schnell ausradieren zu können. Das Buch nimmt sich die Zeit, nicht nur die Geschichte, sondern auch die Gesellschaft zu beschreiben und auch die verschiedenen Optionen für Spielercharaktere zu erklären. Eine regeltechnische Besonderheit ist der Weg, der die geistige Stabilität ergänzt und dabei hilft, trotz des grassierenden Wahnsinns die Spielercharaktere nicht binnen kürzester Zeit unspielbar werden zu lassen. Zudem werden einige Abenteuerideen, die sich häufig um eine Art Inquisition gegen den Mythos drehen, eingestreut.

Das Abenteuer Stillwater Rapids erscheint zunächst als Bruch, denn hier landen die Investigatoren aus der heutigen Zeit in einer sonderbaren Stadt, in der das Leben scheinbar einfacher ist, unter deren Fassade jedoch ein finsteres Geheimnis schlummert, das es zu erkunden gilt. Hier wird der Bezug zu Tsan Chan zumindest den Spielern vermutlich erst am Ende klar. Auch wenn Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan gut ausgearbeitet ist und ein an sich interessantes Setting bietet, konnte mich das Buch nicht überzeugen. Die Welt 5000 Jahre in der Zukunft, die vom Mythos überrannt ist, erscheint mir nicht als attraktives Spielsetting, insbesondere da noch mehr als bei anderen Cthulhu-Publikationen der Kampf gegen den Mythos komplett sinnlos geworden ist. Zudem ist die Welt so fremdartig, dass sie trotz der ausführlichen Ausarbeitung immer noch vage bleibt und ein wenig an ein Fantasy-Setting erinnert. Ähnlich zwiespältig ist das Abenteuer aus meiner Sicht. Die grundsätzliche Story und Idee, sowie auch deren Umsetzung sind durchaus gelungen – der Bezug zum Quellenteil ist aber so vage, dass dieser dafür gar nicht nötig gewesen wäre. Auch klärt das Abenteuer nicht wirklich auf, wie man in der fremdartigen Welt von Tsan Chan wirklich spielen soll. Wer für Cthulhu ein wirklich ungewöhnliches und explizites Mythos-Setting sucht, sollte einen Blick auf diesen Band werfen. Wer jedoch der Meinung ist, dass Cthulhu sich durch den subtilen Horror auszeichnet, der unter unserer Realität lauert, der wird mit diesem Band nicht warm werden.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CTHULHU: Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan
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On the Wall • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:31:56
Dystopian teenage super mutants - a Mephisto review

On the wall

What would happen if a part of humanity suddenly developed superpowers - that is the question that the Fate world On the Wall takes on, based on the comic of the same name. In the world of On the Wall, these super mutants are usually not the heroes who fight some super villains in colorful capes to the cheers of the population. Instead, the sudden appearance of superpowers has led much of the people to fear these mutants, so harsh laws have been introduced to control them. A central measure is that teenagers who develop these powers must visit special schools to learn how to harness their powers. This way, their powers should be kept in check. Of course, the player characters are such teenagers, who each have a single superpower (which doesn't necessarily have to be spectacular). The game offers a mix of superhero stories, dystopian governmental control, and teenage chaos.

Accordingly, the book provides a few simple rules for playing with superpowers and briefly introduces the world - though one gets the impression that it would help to know the original comics. From my point of view, On the Wall is a fascinating take on the superpowers theme, providing an exciting twist when mixed with the dystopian elements.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
On the Wall • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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Vaesen - Nordic Horror Roleplaying
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:25:12
Horror in idyllic Scandinavia - a Mephisto review

Vaesen Scandinavia in the 19th century is not as tranquil as one might think at first glance. Here, too, the drastic changes brought about by industrialization are intruding and disrupting the old order. But not only is society in upheaval; the supernatural beings of Scandinavia, called Vaesen, are also reacting to the changes. As ancient traditions are forgotten, and industry encroaches on nature, many of these beings feel threatened and respond aggressively accordingly. While humans and Vaesen knew how to live together for many centuries, confrontations now occur again and again. Some humans have the gift of seeing the Vaesen, who are normally invisible in their true form. This people form the Society, who wants to protect humanity from the Vaesen. From their headquarters, a castle in Uppsala, they seek out these creatures.

Vaesen is another role-playing game by Fria Ligan, based on the same rules base as Forbidden Lands. Four attributes and twelve skills define player characters. For tests, the combined value of an attribute and a skill determines the number of six-sided dice rolled. Any 6s rolled are successes, and the more successes achieved, the better. Characters are created based on ten archetypes. In addition to their game statistics, characters also need a motivation, a trauma (a bad experience that scarred them), a dark secret, and relationships with the other player characters. Depending on the chosen archetype, the resource level (the financial means) is also defined, and the different archetypes have various talents available giving them further bonuses.

Instead of hit points or damage levels, characters in Vaesen have three physical and three mental states they can check, each of which means the loss of a die. If all these conditions are checked, a character is broken and thus out of action. There is a risk of critical damage, which may become permanent at the end of the adventure if the character is particularly unlucky. However, some of these injuries can also provide special insights that improve a character. Because of the small number of conditions, fights are correspondingly dangerous and carry the risk of a character being broken quickly. Most Vaesen cannot be defeated by normal weapons either but require rituals to banish them forever. Since many of these creatures are suitably terrifying, the game also provides rules for fear, so characters often have to pass fear tests when they first encounter an enemy.

A central element of the game is the Society, a group of people with the second sight who deal with the Vaesen. Even though the Society has a long history, it has been gone for several years. The player characters are now a new generation with the Society's headquarters, but they must rediscover its knowledge for themselves. The only contact with a former member is the woman who granted them access to the castle but otherwise spends her time in an asylum.

The Society's headquarters also takes on an essential role within the game. Various resources, rooms, and upgrades can be used between adventures to restore the headquarters from its dilapidated state to its former glory. The rooms give corresponding benefits, for example, to gather knowledge or resources, heal damage or even provide equipment. Another chapter briefly and compactly introduces the mystical north. Even though Vaesen is set in the 19th century, it does not claim to depict this time historically correct. Instead, the setting should roughly provide the atmosphere without clarifying which changes happened precisely at which time. Accordingly, life in general and, above all, the city of Uppsala are portrayed briefly.

Much more space is given to the Vaesen themselves. After the brief general explanation about their origins and powers, the rulebook introduces a whole arsenal of creatures that have sprung from Norse mythology and revolve around ghosts, fairy creatures, and trolls. The emphasis here is on background rather than game statistics. As mentioned earlier, Vaesen usually cannot be defeated by brute force. Even if their abilities are predefined to a certain extent, the details are left to the game master to provide for surprises accordingly. Small adventure ideas about the Vaesen offer story hooks for the game master.

The book concludes with a chapter on game mastering, clearly structuring adventures in their flow and central conflicts. Usually, there is a primary conflict and a secondary conflict. While the primary conflict must be resolved, the secondary conflict presents an addition to the adventure. The game also works with an escalation system that allows the game master to steer the adventure towards disaster if the players do not act skillfully. Notes on atmosphere, etc., are also provided in the chapter, as well as some tips on how to present the game world. The book concludes with the adventure The dance of dreams, which confronts the players with a threatening enemy and is meant as a hook for a larger story. The adventure offers a solid introduction to the game world and should be quite challenging for beginners. In addition to the free character creation via the archetypes, the book also offers tables for creating characters by rolling on various tables for the character's life path, which determines the statistics.

Vaesen offers an exciting setting and an intriguing facet of horror that draws on the traditional mythology of Scandinavia. After all, the inspiration for this role-playing game was a book of the same name about the mythological creatures of Scandinavia. The time period of the 19th century and the idea of the Society, which has to be rebuilt by the player characters, adds to the fascinating background. The rules system is coherent. The important thing here is that the Vaesen cannot be defeated by brute force, but the players have to use investigative work to find out their weaknesses, so they have a chance to stand up against them. I enjoyed Vaesen's ideas very much. In particular, the extremely atmospheric illustrations convey perfectly the flair and the contrast between the seemingly idyllic world of Scandinavia and the ancient horror that lurks beneath.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vaesen - Nordic Horror Roleplaying
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M20 The Art of Mage: 20 Years and More
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:04:02
More than trenchcoats and katanas - a Mephisto review

The Art of Mage - 20 years and more

For the anniversary edition of Mage M20, an accompanying artbook has been published, which tries to summarize twenty years of illustration history. Satyros Phil Brucato first looks back self-critically at the beginnings of Mage and the illustration style of "Trenchcoats and Katanas." Subsequently, the reader learns a bit about the workflow in the early years, when illustrations were still sent by mail, revealing glimpses into the early years of White Wolf.

However, the central part is titled Artistic Legacies, introducing many illustrators with a background, anecdotes, and stories - and especially their artistic work for Mage. The artbook impressively shows the range the illustrators have covered and how Mage's graphic representation has changed over the years. The last chapter also presents the illustrations of Mage M20 - and proves that Mage is not just a role-playing game of the 90s. In addition, chapters are dedicated to the signature characters as well as the creation of the Mage Tarot.

I enjoyed the mixture of texts and illustrations immensely because this excursion shows impressively how the complex topics of the most multifaceted game of the World of Darkness is also reflected in an incredible spectrum of artwork. Of the World of Darkness artbooks, this is my clear favorite so far.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
M20 The Art of Mage: 20 Years and More
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