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ShadowSun
Publisher: Chubby Funster
by Rick [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/26/2024 12:12:23

Shadowdark fun at Basic Fantasy printed copy prices



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ShadowSun
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Valor Knights GM Screen
Publisher: Fainting Goat Games
by Rick H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/04/2024 02:35:52

This is a review of the digital version only. The four interior easy-to-read panels are (1) devoted to a lexicon, (2) key rules & concepts (core mechanic, difficulties, attributes) (3) time, distance, & movement, Luck points, random chart of Chaos Lord / npc traits, and (4) an adventure generator. The outside panels (at least one of which is displayed on this product's page) all showcase full color art by Jacob Blackmon. Basically, the "sweet spot" VK rules and Jacob Blackmon's amazing art are a match made in giant robot nerdvana and this is a fantastic addition to the VK/Champions of the ElectroCube line.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Valor Knights GM Screen
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Advanced FASERIP
Publisher: Gurbintroll Games
by Rick [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/19/2023 11:57:50

As a fan of BtB’s FASERIP I was pleasantly surprised to see this; I was not aware it was even in the works. The layout & presentation is once again very nicely done and exceeds what you’d expect in a free pdf (Though I went for the very reasonably priced print/pdf combo without hesitation). FASERIP is by far my favorite MSH clone, and now it’s even better. I’m looking forward to trying out the new point-based character creation rules!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced FASERIP
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Modern Gods
Publisher: PORTALIS Publishing
by Rick H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/11/2023 20:35:46

Lots, lots, lots of setting info; a staggering timeline (it goes on for 14 (FOURTEEN!) pages...). I wish there were more character writeups; I know its a setting book, and at just over 50 villains, it delivers as a villains compendium, but I wanted more heroes (there's 12), especially those mentioned multiple times (Star-Spangled Soldier for example) in the history sections. Spoiled by Aaron Allston's Strike Force, I guess.

Speaking of that timeline, there's a few puzzlers thrown in there, including a lengthy (comparitively) entry on the songs "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" and "Band on the Run" and their unusual connection to the setting. But the occasional puzzler can liven things up sometimes.

Art-wise, I was super happy to see Jay Piscopo's work included (quite a bit!).

The layout is strongly reminiscent if not 99% identical to PCMW. I do wish that here the boxed text format was used as often; the light gray text on white can be tough on these old eyes.

Ultimately, at my table I think it'll be of more use than Nocturne By Night, but not as much as Pinnacle City's Most Wanted.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Gods
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CRUSADERS
Publisher: Legrand Games Studio
by Rick H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/19/2022 18:02:11

I was super (heh) surprised/excited to see this amongst the New Titles here on DriveThru - Creator Olivier Legrand’s Mazes & Minotaurs RPG is a longtime favorite of mine.

It (Crusaders) focuses on the superhero comics of the 1980s (it’s dedicated to Byrne, Claremont, & Alan Davis) and also the superhero rpgs of that era (it uses percentile dice and a bevy of random tables) but not the rules complexity (simple mechanics, lasers in on the action & heroic drama rather than real world physics/measurements).

Character Generation is a neat mix of random rolls and player choice. Any percentile roll for chargen can be flip-flopped (a 72 becomes a 27) to broaden your selections. Roll doubles (11, 22, 33, etc) - choose or create your own origin/power/etc. Each player also has a set number of options that include sacrificing a roll for a random power for one of the player’s choice (can be used once).

Heroes start at Rank 1 (new face on the scene) and progress via Victory (experience) Points to a max of Rank 10 (Living Legend). Each Rank gives a few attribute points - +1 to 2 different scores - or a new power improvement. Ranks also determine how many Hero Points your Crusader starts each session with - 1 per Rank. Hero Points allow you to flip-flop failed rolls (again, a 72 becomes a 27). Of course a 98 will very, very likely fail regardless.

All (or most) rolls are player facing. There’s a Master Challenge Table that will recall DC Heroes or MSH FASERIP (if only it was in color). In a nutshell you reference your active score (Physique, Prowess, Alertness, Psyche) vs the opposition’s score to determine the number you’ll need to roll under w/ a d100 roll to succeed.

There’s a GM/Campaign section and several Appendices including NPC supervillains (7), example heroes (4), and a nice selection of optional rules.

Anyway, it was an insta-buy for me at $4.95. 104 pages, Color cover, B/W illustrations (not bad, but some pieces seem a lot more 1990s (one dude’s got those Liefeld thigh pouches, for example) and 2000s (big mouths, bigger feet) ) interspersed throughout.

Hopefully a POD options is forthcoming



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CRUSADERS
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There Once Were Dragons
Publisher: One Dwarf Army
by Rick H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/23/2021 08:05:26

I -really- dig this. A lot of it, yes, is extremely familiar territory - ex. you roll a d20, add Strength for Melee, Dexterity for Ranged, vs. a target number (called DF here), but there’s definitely a few spins here & there. The way multiple dice (like a weapon that does 2d8 dmg) work, for one - rather than add ‘em up, you treat them as a pool, selecting only the highest die. Some dice (any notated as capital “D” dice, like D10) explode when rolling the highest number possible, but only once. There’s multipliers, too, so a spell that does 3d10x6 - roll 3d10s, multiply the highest by 6 - is gonna hurt.

Only 3 attributes - the afore-mentioned Strength and Dexterity, plus Wisdom. 3 Defences - think both AC and/or Saves - Reflexes, Resolve, Toughness. 4 basic heritages (Human, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling), 3 Classes (Warrior, Rogue, Sorcerer). A (free) Companion adds a 4th Class, Barbarian.

On the other hand, LOADS of loot / magic items. Over 120 pages of this thing are devoted to individual magic items, each uniquely named w/ a custom d10 table of additional enchanted properties so that no two never need be exactly the same. So one “Vapour Wrath” crossbow, on top of being unblockable by armor or shields, might also do 1d4 Acidic damage, while another could have it’s effective range doubled, etc. Many of the items use charges, which renew via a charge die (like a d4) the next day.

A pretty thorough 80+ pg Bestiary closes the book. Many choices divided among categories like Beasts, Demons, Dragons, Fey, Giants, Golems, Humans, Orcs, Spirits, & Undead.

Leveling up reminded me of the XCOM video game series, w/ each level offering a new ability and some a binary choice between two. 10th level is max. High level TOWD characters are powerful - Warriors can imbue their weapons w/ the elements, Rogues can walk between dimensions, Sorcerers, well, they can cast even more powerful spells than they did before.

There’s a twist to the setting I thought was neat - the large city the player characters by default call home, which has enjoyed peace and prosperity for the last century, has been ripped back a 1000 years in time by a magical accident. Now it’s populace looks to the PCs to protect it from hordes of orcs and (as the title infers) dragons, threats they thought were long extinct



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
There Once Were Dragons
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Great Sword
Publisher: Daniel George Mitchell
by Rick H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2018 18:16:14

Great Sword RPG (GSRPG) is at the same time both familiar and not-so-familiar.

Familiar in the sense that you create a character with a race and class and fight monsters with either swords (Great or otherwise) or talents (spells, psychic powers, etc) and seek treasure. Familiar in that you roll a d20 and try to beat a difficulty level or opponent’s defense score. Old friends like HP, STR, & INT are there, too.

Not-so-familiar in that, well, just read on...

The (other) Primary Statistics are Accuracy (ACC), Agility (AGI), Melee (MEL), Perception (PER), Stealth (STE), and Willpower (WIL).

Yes, Agility/Dexterity, what in most games is rolled into one big ball is “broken up” into three stats here - Accuracy, Agility, & Stealth. So acrobats aren’t necessarily crackerjack shots or one with the shadows, and vice-versa.

Similarly, Strength is both split into STR and Melee and combined with what other games would call Constitution or Stamina (there’s Stamina in this game but it’s very different from the norm - more on that later). So, being made of muscles will make you tougher and make it count when you hit, but it won’t help you hit the target in the first place.

More on the stats - they range from 5 to 18 or more and work pretty much exactly as you’d expect them to, with one big exception - you don’t add a modifier based on the score to a stat test, you add the whole thing. The default Difficulty level is 20 (also default ARM (AC) score for combat). A foe in Leather armor might have a ARM of 24; to hit them with your fists you’d roll a d20 (getting, for example, an 11) add your MEL (Melee) score (say, 13), for a total of 24. A hit, right?

Nope. In GSRPG you have to exceed the target, so anything shy of a 25 in this example would miss. Plus combatants typically have the option to parry or dodge.

Speaking of attacks, the game has a fresh take on multiple attacks in that by default any character can make as many melee strikes as they have arms, providing they’re wielding one-handed weapons (or unarmed). So a Human Assassin can strike twice per attack with his twin assassin daggers, or the four-armed Naga Berserker can strike four times with each of her equipped iron claws.

When you do hit, damage is your STR stat plus weapon modifier.

The game uses Damage Reduction (DR), too, so most attacks will be reduced by that number, as well.

Rolling a natural 20 on an attack doubles the damage. Rolling a 1 is usually just a miss unless using some Talents.

Many Talents (see below) allow for the option of using Overpower. Overpowering opens up the possibility to fire more Arcane Bolts or add a trait like Blast, Stun, or elemental ones like Fire or Lightning. The downside is that if you choose to Overpower and roll a 1, bad things happen. Magic/psychic energies backlash and you take your Overpower stat (INT or WIL, whichever’s higher, subtracted from 30) as damage.

Rolling Initiative (an Agility stat test), if your AGI is 14 you roll a d20 and add 14 to it for your result.

The only “standard” fantasy race amongst the 8 available are humans. The others are Arachnids, Arkanus (Gnolls), Lokhaan (Ogres), Naga, Shathyr (Satyrs), Taurar (Orcs), and Valkyr (Valkyries). And even if some of those actually do sound bog standard, they’re really not. The “ogres” are big-ass feline-like humanoids. The “orcs” have two sets of eyes and rhino-like horns. The “gnolls” are Halfling-like in their stature.

Your choice of race gives you bonuses (never penalties) to your stats, plus your size (small, medium, large), and a racial ability or so.

Classes avoid the “classic four” and feel more like those found as alternates from old issues of Dragon Magazine - Artificer, Assassin, Berserker, Knight, Marksman, Monk, Necromancer, and Shaman. Classes provide your basic starting equipment, gold, and selection of Talents to choose from (2-3 pages worth). Talents are like spells, psychic powers, or even special combat maneuvers. They cost Experience to purchase; a starting character has 100 Exp to begin with (good for 3-5 Talents).

You can also spend your starting Exp to further boost your stats, both Primary (STR, AGI, WIL, etc) and Vital (HP and Stamina Points).

Stamina Points (SP) represent how many actions you can take in a single round of combat (10 seconds). Most actions (attacks, movement, and so forth) cost 1 SP. Characters begin with 4 SP. Talents can cost 2-3 SP to use a round. All SP replenishes at the start of the next round. You can bump up your SP via Exp but all races have a cap so it doesn’t get too crazy eventually.

A nice option is you can focus by using SP. Spend one SP to focus your attack or roll and get a +4 on top of everything else. They stack so spending 2 SP will result in a +8.

Damage can be focused too, netting a +8.

The setting/world (Aeoss, with the continent Ackerrash being featured) reminds me favorably of Talislanta. There doesn’t seem to be many quasi-Medieval Fantasy Europe stand-bys in the flora and fauna sense. No horses, for example. GSRPG mounts include Diremaws (saber-toothed canines) and Bloodhorns (like bulls crossbred with dragons).

Speaking of, there’s a brief bestiary, including a handful of familiar/not-so-familiar foes like the game’s take on goblins, dragons, and giants. Each of the PC races are revisited and a few typical examples of each are provided for use as NPCs in your game. I liked what was there but I’d definitely like to see more (bring on a manual of monsters or folio of fiends, please).

A sample Quest (adventure) is included, in which the party joins a privateer on a sky barge in his mission to rescue a captured monk (and a mysterious map) from a floating temple/fortress manned by Valkyrie sky-pirates.

There’s a table of contents, an index, and some reference pages of talents and traits. Plus an attractive two-page character sheet.

It’s really a disservice that I haven’t discussed the game’s art yet. The designer, Daniel George Mitchell, is also responsible for all the artwork. It’s pretty damn glorious, frankly. Very much on par with what you might see in those hardcover art books major fantasy rpg video game companies offer for their new releases. The pdf is full color and some art pieces are amazing two page spreads depicting battle scenes that you can get lost in the details.

I did have a few criticisms. It’s not free of typos, though most that I saw were just of the capitalization variety.

It is dense with world information and history, perhaps too much so -a large portion of the first hundred or so pages (of 247 total) is divided into expansive histories of the eight races. I’ll admit that I did not read these entirely.

It does not include an example of play, a feature I find extremely beneficial in learning a new system and that I always enjoy.

With all that in mind, this past Saturday I gathered some friends (a mix of OSR and 5E enthusiasts) and ran the included adventure for them. The turnout was bigger than expected (eight players) and I probably should have adjusted the encounters accordingly (to be more of a challenge). Still, everyone responded very favorably to their characters and the game’s mechanics. Although it was presented as simply a one-shot, the consensus was to meet again and play on at some point in the near future.

Note: I received this PDF at no cost in exchange for this review. All statements made in this review in regard to this product, represent my own genuine and honest opinions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Great Sword
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Dragonslayers RPG (First Edition)
Publisher: Beast Box Publishing
by Rick H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/17/2017 12:25:59

Truthfully, I clicked on this one not expecting much, but quickly found myself wanting to learn more. I advise doing what I then did, checking out the full-size preview (7 pages). That was more than enough for me to justify picking it up for $2.99.

I like the writing style, it felt more in tone like a well-composed email (with a little humor) from my GM explaining the new game we'd be playing, as opposed to a dry textbook. There's no artwork other than the cover.

It sits in the sweet spot of my personal Rules-Lite RPGs Goldilocks Zone - not too lite, but just lite enough. There's some meat here on the bones.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragonslayers RPG (First Edition)
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