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Odyssey of the Dragonlords: Player's Guide
by Sara Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2019 13:44:00

This setting while promising, pays only lip service to the Ancient Greek mythology and history it claims to be inspired by. There are the trappings of Greek myth, a Gaia and Ouranos figure, a Titanic progenitor race of gods, and the modern gods. But it goes no farther than this. The setting seems to be stuck in a very modern idea of how the ancient world worked, and it suffers for it. In addition to this, the original portions seem singularly uninspired and noninclusive. Why have the authors fridged the goddess of war? Why are gods that remain so aggressively bland? Why is there no LGBT+ rep in the entire setting? Why are there female satyrs and why in the name of everything good do they shave their arms and bodies? The entire setting seems specifically designed to appeal to one specific demographic: straight, white men who read Percy Jackson when they were younger. There's nothing wrong with appealing to specific demographics, of course, but why hobble yourself in this way when all it would take is a little more inclusion to widen your audience? The setting has promise, but it needs a lot of work.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Odyssey of the Dragonlords: Player's Guide
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Odyssey of the Dragonlords: Player's Guide
by Russ B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2019 08:43:06

This is a promising start to a world that I'm interested in exploring!

The selling point for me, outside of it being free, was the Ancient Greek mythology inspiration for this setting. As someone who has played TTRPG's for over a decade now, I am well versed in how difficult it can be to draw new players into a setting with zero ties to real life. This book was an easy read and most importantly, it was easy to absorb. I've seen lots of settings that get a little too full of their own product and their books start to make as much sense as IKEA instructions. I like that there were nine deities and not forty. This setting seems to be very DM friendly with simple to understand (but left open for personal expansion if that's your thing) lore, flavor, and names.

My only critique of the setting are the two added races. Their base movement speed is a little too high in my opinion. An additional 10 feet for satrys seems odd to me, but that's just me. I think I'll be replacing centaurs with orcs for when I run my campaign in this setting in order to appease my players, but that honestly seems very easy to do.

I am very much going to purchase this setting in May, I think that I saw it releases in May. I think that the maps are beautiful and functional as well. Please include maps of all the major settlements in the full release. I swear that every setting I look into that only has one or two city maps is hard for me get my players into because they want to see the map, and I feel that it's fair for them to have one so they can explore the city without having to stop every two seconds to ask me what direction is something in or if there is a .... shop around here. If I have to find maps myself then there is a clear difference in look, feel, and the quality of the game suffers. If I may also make a small request; Please include names for things like shops and NPC's. I love reading that stuff and having quick reference for my table when my party hits a city. That may just be me, but I love having those details.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Science Division Supplement
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/21/2019 09:48:56

The Science Division are often the unsung heroes of Star Trek - a bit odd when you consider the whole mission is about exploration and discovery, things that scientists are good at. Apart from Spock, who was Science Officer as well as the second-in-command of Kirk's Enterprise, the on-board scientists are just produced when there's a problem that science can solve, then sent back whence they came until the next time. Apart from the medics, that is, who are part of Science Division but with a much higher profile. Here's a chance to redress the balance!

The Introduction - To Seek and to Know - talks of science and medicine being at the centre of the urge to explore space. Finding out what's going on is a key driver for exploration and explorers have to be kept healthy whilst doing so. When not treating patients, medics are also interested in exploration - perhaps they'll find a medicinal plant or medical knowledge hitherto undreampt-of on the next planet. However, those scientific and medical professionals who join Star Fleet are quite special. Adventurous, certainly, but this is a part of the organisation that recruits seasoned professionals, older people, as well as train their own at the Academy. With a note from a grateful student whose training saved the day during an exercise, we move on to an outline of the contents of the book. There's also an example of individuals from various branches within the Science Division working together to resolve a potentially lethal problem, and a note indicating that technologies differ depending on which Era you game is set in, and how these are to be highlighted through the rest of the text.

Chapter 1: Science Division goes into detail about training, organisation, responsibilities and so on, with three main strands of scientists, medics, and counsellors. This is presented in the style of a briefing document for new Science Division officers and makes for a fascinating read. It outlines the protocols for exploration missions and science missions, and discusses the Prime Directive at length with some ideas on how to deal with breaches thereof. It also touches on time travel. There is a Department of Temporal Investigation in the assumed present day (TNE era), and some inklings of a Temporal Integrity Commission which appears to have been established in the future (29th century) - their agents won't reveal much, for obvious reasons.

Next Chapter 3: Science Division Characters looks at expanding the core rulebook's character generation process to make more detailed and diverse Science Division characters via extra Lifepath options and new Focuses and Talents. This allows for the sort of specialisation that you'd likely see - geologists and botanists, trauma surgeons and infectious disease specialists, and so on.

Then, Chapter 4: Research and Development examines the vast range of specialised equipment available particularly in the field of medicine, from hand-held devices to fully-equipped hospital ships. There are also details of lifeforms and other phenomena that have been encountered with ideas for further research and a discussion of the Q Continuum and ideas of dealing with encouters there. I'd say 'stay away' but sometimes it comes to visit anyway...

Chapter 5: Using the Science Division is crammed with ideas, providing rules for creating everything from medical emergencies to xeno-biological mysteries (why does every habitable planet grow something that looks exactly like Earth grass, I wonder) and running missions with a science/exploration focus. There's also suggestions for how to run adventures that involve medical interventions to save a ship's company, a planet or even the entirety of known space. This chapter also contains rules to aid the development of new alien lifeforms, sentient and otherwise, even those that live in places an unprotected human could not go. Finally Chapter 6: Sciences Personnel provides an array of fully-developed characters to use as NPCs - perhaps when an exotic specialism is required - or as an example for generating your own.

This is an excellent resource that should inspire you and your group to 'boldly go' like you never have before, with loads of ideas to help your exploration missions make many discoveries - and generate a mound of academic papers!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Science Division Supplement
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Star Trek Adventures: Science Division Supplement
by Bryan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2019 15:43:00

Great supplement for lots of Trek lore and inspiration. As with all the division books, a good section of creatures and characters to interact with. However, I'm taking one star away for giving very very little player content. There are talents and suggested focuses, but no new races or ships. Where are the science oriented iterations of both?!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kult: Divinity Lost - 4th Edition of Kult, Core Rules
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/20/2019 05:38:23

https://www.teilzeithelden.de/2019/01/20/ersteindruck-kult-divinity-lost-powered-by-the-apokalypse/

Nach vielen langen Jahren des Schlummers erwachte eines der kontroversesten Horrorsysteme der 1990er durch einen Kickstarter wieder zum Leben. Kult, die klassische Nummer Drei der Horrorrollenspiele, ist zurück. Kann die Neuauflage an alte Tage anschließen, oder hat man es eher mit einem müden Aufguss zu tun?

In den 90er Jahren waren Vampire: The Masquerade und Call of Cthulhu die großen Namen, wenn es um Horror-Rollenspiel ging. Der eingefleischte Fan wusste aber mindestens auch noch von Kult, dass damals sehr erfolgreich seine Nische besetzte. Während die Vampire sich in düster-romantischen Intrigen oder mit fliegenden Ledertrenchcoats gegenseitig beharkten und die Mythos-Ermittler der 1920er reihenweise dem pitoresquen Wahnsinn verfielen, da konnte man mit Kult in aller Ruhe ehrlichen Splatterpunk-Horror spielen, ohne sich etwas vorzumachen.

Das Spiel bot zwar auch einen reichhaltigen Hintergrund, der sich vor allem aus Elementen christlicher und jüdischer Mystik und der Gnostik speiste, aber der Hauptkaufgrund war das wahrscheinlich in den seltensten Fällen.

Nun ist seit 1992 eine Menge Zeit vergangen. Auch die begrenzte deutsche Neuauflage von Ulisses Spiele aus dem Jahre 2009 liegt bald eine Dekade zurück, aber trotzdem hatte Kult nach wie vor seine Fangemeinde. Offenbar Grund genug für den schwedischen Verlag Helmgast 2016 per Kickstarter eine Neuauflage des Spiels an den Start zu bringen. Knapp zwei Jahre – und eine turbulente Produktionsgeschichte später – ist Kult Ende vergangenen Jahres erschienen und sucht nun seine Lücke in der sehr breit gewordenen Nische des Horror-Rollenspiels.

Die Spielwelt Die Spielwelt von Kult vermischt geschickt mehrere populäre Quellen. Am stärksten erkennbar – da auch auf den Charakterbögen verewigt – ist der Einfluss der jüdischen Kaballah-Mystik. Der Sephiroth wird hier benutzt, um die verschiedenen Werte des Charakters bildlich darzustellen. Aber da die Erwähnung jüdischer Mystik allein so aufschlussreich ist wie die meisten numerologischen Fachaufsätze, sollte etwas früher begonnen werden.

Der Kult-Hintergrund geht davon aus, dass Menschen zu einer bestimmten Zeit einmal göttlich-erleuchtete Geschöpfe waren, die das wahre Wesen der Dinge erkennen konnten. Diese Göttlichkeit wurde den Menschen allerdings von den sinisteren Kräften des Demiurgen genommen und die wahre Natur der Welt hinter Illusionen und Spiegelbildern verborgen. Der göttliche Funke wurde soweit gedämpft, dass der durchschnittliche Mensch kaum mehr als ein Schlafwandler in seiner eigenen Welt ist.

Eine göttliche Macht residierte im Zentrum des neuen Lügennetzes, das die Menschheit einhegte. Eines Tages aber verschwand diese Macht und ließ seine Diener mit einem verfallenden Mechanismus zurück. Damit allein nicht genug, auch uralte Widersacher erwachten in ihren infernalischen Dimensionen und begannen nach dem Sitz der göttlichen Macht zu greifen.

Während nun also – vereinfacht gesprochen - Engel und Dämonen ihren Kampf um die Macht im Universum austragen, beginnt als Folge der Abwesenheit des Demiurgen das Gefängnis aus Lügen und Illusionen, das die Menschheit gedämpft und eingesperrt hielt, zu bröckeln. Die bewahrenden Kräfte der Illusionen sind geschwächt, aber noch lange nicht besiegt. Zwar beginnen immer mehr Menschen die Risse in der Illusion zu erkennen und die Fesseln ihres kollektiven Wachkomas abzustreifen, aber mediale Beschäftigungstherapie, religiöser Fanatismus und nihilistischer Konsumegoismus haben den Kampf aufgenommen.

In diesen Schattenkrieg werden nun die Charaktere hineingezogen. Sie sind „Erwachte“, also Menschen, die wissen oder zumindest ahnen, dass in dieser Welt nicht alles mit rechten Dingen zugeht. Sie haben die Risse in den Illusionen gesehen und beschlossen zu handeln statt zu rationalisieren. Damit haben sie sich mächtige Feinde gemacht, denn Engel und Dämonen fürchten das Erwachen der Menschheit. Schließlich war die Menschheit einmal selbst göttlich und könnte es wieder werden, wenn sie die Illusion abstreift. Eine göttliche Menschheit könnte Engel und Dämonen aber vernichten, weswegen sie alles daransetzen, die Illusion aufrecht zu halten und Abweichler zu jagen.

Charaktere in Kult sind also oft gehetzte Randgestalten der Gesellschaft, deren noble Mission zur Erweckung der Menschheit von der schlafenden Masse nicht gewürdigt wird, während sie gleichzeitig von finsteren, rachsüchtigen, übernatürlichen Entitäten gejagt werden. Denn im Gegensatz zu den zutiefst fremdartigen Geschöpfen des Cthulhu-Mythos oder den glorifizierten Parasiten der Welt der Dunkelheit, haben die Widersacher im Kult-Universum keinen traditionsreichen Moralkodex oder kosmische Indifferenz, die die Menschen vor ihnen schützt. Die Welt von Kult ist ein düsteres, apokalyptisches und brutales Zerrbild unserer Welt, die selbst den eingefleischtesten Aluhüten Angst und Schrecken einjagen sollte.

Die Regeln Bei der Neuauflage des Spiels wurde das alte Würfelsystem der 90er Jahre komplett über Bord geworfen. Stattdessen läuft das Spiel nun unter dem Label Powered by the Apocalypse, was wohl bei keinem Spiel bisher eine so passende Doppelbedeutung hatte. Im Kern basiert das von Vincent Baker für Apocalypse World entwickelte System darauf, dass es spezifische Genres emulieren möchte. Dazu erhalten alle Figuren – Spieler und Spielleiterfiguren – so genannte Moves, die ihnen erlauben, bei spezifischen Triggern bestimmte Aktionen durchzuführen.

Diese sind thematisch so gestaltet, dass sie Archetypen des Genres widerspiegeln. Beispielsweise kann ein Charakter, der in Kult über den Move „Escape Artist“ verfügt, auch dann versuchen aus einer Gefangenschaft zu entkommen, wenn er mit Ketten gefesselt in ein Hafenbecken geworfen wird. Er kann also einen Wurf machen, wo andere Charaktere sicher das Zeitliche gesegnet hätten oder auf Hilfe von außen angewiesen sein würden.  

Natürlich macht Kult auch ein paar Dinge anders, als es in der Urform des Regelsystems vorgesehen war. Der größte Unterschied ist wohl, dass statt mit 2W6 mit 2W10 gewürfelt wird. Das Ergebnis wird dann noch mit charakterspezifischen Boni und oder Mali modifiziert und geht – typisch für PbtA-Spiele – gegen eine feste Schwierigkeit, die festlegt, ob man einen Fehlschlag, einen Erfolg mit Einschränkungen oder einen vollen Erfolg erzielt.

Da PbtA-Spiele mittlerweile ebenso verbreitet sind wie Fate-Derivate, wird in der Folge davon ausgegangen, dass der Leser mit den grundlegenden Regelmechanismen vertraut ist. Wer sich aber erst einmal einlesen will oder aber seine Erinnerung auffrischen möchte, dem sei die Systemvorstellung zu PbtA ans Herz gelegt.

Insgesamt ist das sehr narrativ angelegte PbtA-System eine gute Wahl für Kult. Horrorthemen tun sich ohnehin notorisch schwer damit, sich in Simulationssysteme einzufügen. Grusel und unterschwellige Anspannung kommen eben schwer auf, wenn man beständig auf detaillierte Skilllisten schaut und Subsysteme zu (temporären) Wahnsinn, Verfolgungsjagden oder Ritualzauberei im Kopf haben muss. Das bedeutet nun nicht, dass Kult zu einem Freeform-System geworden wäre. Im Gegenteil. Zwar bietet das neue Regelsystem gewisse narrative Freiheiten, diese werden aber damit erkauft, dass der Neuspieler sich erst einmal in die eigene Apocalypse-Engine-Logik eindenken muss.

Ähnlich wie Fate findet ein großer Teil des mechanischen Ablaufs auf einer Metaebene statt, bei der Spielleitung und Spieler versuchen, regeltechnische Effekte aus narrativen Elementen ab- oder herzuleiten. Bis das flüssig funktioniert kann schon einmal der ein oder andere Spielabend ins Land ziehen, vor allem wenn die Spielerschaft Horror-Rollenspiele wie Cthulhu, Delta Green oder die World of Darkness-Systeme gewohnt ist.

Auch Fate-Spieler könnten sich zu Beginn etwas umstellen müssen, denn anders als das Haussystem von Evil Hat Productions, steht Player Empowerment nicht unbedingt an erster Stelle. Kult wählt hier – auch typisch für alle PbtA-Spiele – einen ausgewogeneren Ansatz, indem auch die Spielleitung Moves bekommt, mit denen sie den Charakteren das Leben gehörig schwer machen kann.

Ein Teil des Spaßes ist es hier, dem eigenen Charakter dabei zuzusehen, wie er von einer schlimmen Situation in die nächste läuft und nur hin und wieder Momente der Ruhe erlebt. Sobald man aber diese Einstiegshürden genommen hat, laufen die Spielabende erfahrungsgemäß recht flüssig und dynamisch. Wenn man also bereit ist sich auf das narrative Hin- und Her einzulassen, kann es zu einer sehr bereichernden Erfahrung werden.

Charaktererschaffung Die Charaktererschaffung funktioniert, wie bei PbtA-Spielen typisch, anhand von Playbooks, die in diesem Fall Archetypen heißen. Ein Archetyp ist dabei genau das: Eine Art Abziehbild bzw. Idealtyp einer genretypischen Rolle. Mag man es klassisch, kann man zwischen so illustren Gestalten wie dem „Professor“ dem „Geheimagenten“ dem „Okkultisten“ oder dem „Wissenschaftler“ wählen. Wenn man schon zu Beginn bereit ist, die inhärente Düsternis des Systems anzunehmen, kann man Rollen wie den „Gebrochenen“ den „Verfluchten“ oder die „Puppe“ wählen. Findet man für seine Charakteridee keinen passenden Archetypen, dann gibt einem Kult auch einen Baukastenansatz mit, mit dessen Hilfe ein neuer Archetyp erschaffen werden kann.

Hat man sich einen Archetyp ausgesucht, folgen einige wenige Schritte bis zum fertigen Charakter. Zuerst einmal sucht man seine genaue Beschäftigung aus, also welche besondere Erscheinungsform des Archetyps man darstellen möchte. So kann der „Veteran“ beispielsweise ein eiskalter Profikiller sein, der sein Geld als Auftragsmörder oder Bodyguard verdient, oder auch eine gebrochene, obdachlose Gestalt, die den Schrecken des Krieges nicht ertragen konnte und nun die Mitglieder der Gesellschaft um Almosen anbetteln muss, deren Existenz er mit seinem Körper und Verstand verteidigt hat.

Wie es sich für das Genre gehört, wählt der Spieler danach ein dunkles Geheimnis für seinen Charakter aus. Dieses Geheimnis kann von der Spielleitung genutzt werden, um Szenarien persönlicher zu gestalten oder auch gesamte Szenarien darauf aufzubauen. Außerdem ist es der Grundstein des persönlichen Plots des Spielers, von dem aus sich die Geschichte entfalten kann.

Danach werden noch zwei Nach- und drei Vorteile ausgewählt, die den eigenen Charakter weiter spezifizieren und ihm und der Spielleitung Zugriff auf bestimmte Moves geben, die nicht jedem Archetyp zur Verfügung stehen.

Ist das erledigt, werden noch Modifikatoren von -2 bis +2 auf die Attribute verteilt, Namen und Aussehen vergeben und dann ist man nahezu fertig. Einzig das Beziehungsnetz des Charakters fehlt noch. Da Kult sich auf die Fahnen geschrieben hat, möglichst nah an den einzelnen Charakteren und ihren Geschichten zu sein, sind vollkommen losgelöste Einsame Wölfe natürlich keine besonders geeigneten Charaktere. Jeder Charakter hat mindestens zwei Verknüpfungen zu den anderen Charakteren der Gruppe und darüber hinaus noch neutrale, bedeutsame oder sogar lebenswichtige Beziehungen zu NSC.

Dieser Mechanismus soll verhindern, dass die Charaktere schon im ersten Abenteuer eigentlich keinen Sinn darin sehen, miteinander zu arbeiten und stattdessen lieber als Einsiedler oder Drifter in die Wildnis verschwinden. Außerdem finden so eine gewisse Erdung und Verankerung der Charaktere statt, die der Spielleitung ermöglicht, schnell emotionale Verbindungen zum Plot herzustellen oder neue Plots aus den Hintergründen der Charaktere zu entwickeln.    

Erscheinungsbild Eine gedruckte Version lag leider nicht vor, weswegen die PDF-Fassung Grundlage aller folgenden Aussagen darstellt. Diese ist mit aktuell gut 32 EUR bei DriveThru nicht gerade günstig, aber handwerklich sehr gut gemacht. Das Inhaltsverzeichnis ist komplett verlinkt und sowohl scrollen wie auch springen durch das Dokument geht angenehm schnell und ohne lange Wartepausen vonstatten. Der Index ist zwar hilfreich, aber leider nicht verlinkt, was ihn sich in der PDF-Fassung also leider nicht zu seinem vollen Potential entfalten lassen lässt.

Das gesamte Werk ist durchgehend farbig gedruckt und reichhaltig illustriert. Der vergleichsweise hohe Preis der Druckausgabe lässt sich wohl auch durch die vielen Illustrationen und das durchgängig hochwertige Layout des Bandes erklären. Hier liegen aber auch die Schwachstellen des Bandes. Das Layout ist zwar durchgehend originell, aber leider nicht durchgehend auf Benutzungsfreundlichkeit getrimmt. Die Spalten sind mitunter angeschnitten und ähneln eher Trapezen als Säulen, was zwar durch seine leicht verstörende Wirkung die Stimmung des Bandes unterstützt, aber im Eifer des Gefechts auch nerven kann.

Zum Schluss müssen wir über die Illustrationen des Bandes sprechen, denn die haben es in sich. So sehr sogar, dass die Cover-Illustration für eine Verzögerung des Drucks gesorgt hat, da dem weiblichen Engel, der ursprünglich mit blutendem Oberkörper gezeigt wurde, erst einmal eine Bronzerüstung per Photoshop verpasst werden musste. Aber auch ansonsten finden sich harte Themen in der Bebilderung, von Medikamentenabhängigkeiten über Selbst- bis hin zu implizierten Kindsmord wird so ziemlich jeder vorhandene psychologische Trigger bedient.

Von sexualisierten und Fetish-Abbildungen ganz zu schweigen. Das Buch gibt sich aufrichtig Mühe, sein Label „This game explores mature themes“ und die folgende Triggerwarnung zu rechtfertigen. Ob man das für gelungen und angemessen hält, ist sicherlich Geschmackssache, aber in jedem Fall sollte man wissen, worauf man sich einlässt. Die Art des Horrors in Kult ist wesentlich menschlicher als die kosmischen Schrecken des Mythos und damit auch verstörender. Das bringen die Illustrationen in jedem Fall hervorragend rüber.

Bonus/Downloadcontent Im Rahmen der Kickstarter-Kampagne wurde das Einführungsabenteuer Oakwood Heights gratis veröffentlicht und ist mit dem ebenfalls kostenlosen Schnellstarter spielbar. Darüber hinaus gab es zum Veröffentlichungstermin dieses Ersteindrucks keinen weiteren Bonuscontent zum Download.

Fazit Mit der Kickstarter-finanzierten Neuauflage ist der Horrorklassiker Kult erfolgreich in der Gegenwart angekommen. Angetrieben durch die Apocalypse World-Engine präsentiert sich Kult: Divinity Lost als modernes, narratives Horrorspiel. Inhalt und Tonfall des Spiels richten sich dabei wie eh und je an Spieler, die keine Scheu vor harten und mitunter verstörenden Themen haben und eine gute Portion Verschwörungstheorie, gemischt mit judäochristlicher Mystik, zu schätzen wissen.

Wem der letzte Satz nicht gefallen hat, der sollte allerdings besser die Finger von Kult lassen, denn diese Themen durchdringen jede Seite des Buchs. Das teilweise merkwürdige Layout und die grenzwertigen Illustrationen können für manchen Leser abschreckend sein, aber Fans eines guten Horrorspiels kommen voll auf ihre Kosten. Für Genrefans eine definitive Empfehlung. Für Neueinsteiger in das Genre allerdings ein Sprung ins eiskalte Wasser.

Der Ersteindruck basiert auf der Lektüre des Buches und dem Spielen und Leiten des Abenteuers Oakwood Heights.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kult: Divinity Lost - 4th Edition of Kult, Core Rules
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Kult: Divinity Lost - 4th Edition of Kult, Core Rules
by Dale H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2019 21:29:36
This is the single greatest RPG book I have ever owned ... physically it is a literal masterpiece in quality and layout (Black Special Edition). Customer Service is amazing, rules and content are probably the best narrative storytelling game made to date. Compelling and intriguing characters from the beginning that are stitched into the flesh of the plot from the start. Anyone on the fence for this one just buy it, once you get into this system you will most likely abandon CoD/WoD (God Machine). You will never miss the unnecessary rolls and crunch of other systems. Pure forward moving character development. Mature Content is an understatement here, be advised . . . however, it is not vital to the game to include. There are already many modules and the epic Black Madonna as well as a number of useful resources such as fillable charachter sheets. This is one of those games that truly is inspirational and I would not hesitate to recommend.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutant Chronicles Dark Soul Source Book
by Ben R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/12/2019 18:38:53

A phenomenal, well writen, source book that details new information about the primary antagonists of the setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutant Chronicles Dark Soul Source Book
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Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook
by Matthew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2019 15:27:12

A game is more than just a set of rules. It's the feeling you get when you play it. I have never seen a better job of crafting the appropriate feeling for a game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook
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Conan PDF Master Collection
by Wacey S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2019 09:44:59

I'm a lifelong Conan fan and this bundle is amazing. This collection is best used purely for the setting. 2D20 has its critics and in my opinion, deservingly so, but they did a wonderful job at expanding Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age. The Monolith Source Book is particularly wonderful and a complete must buy if you own the board game. The Solo/Co-op campaign for the board game in this book is one of the best Conan experiences in gaming I've had. The art in this collection is something else entirely to be marveled at. It will not only capture you with its beauty, but it is near magical how it can conjure wonderful ideas for your gaming needs. Even if 2D20 isn't your thing, this setting is so well done that these books and stories would be a wonderful addition to your idea pool for any of your RPG needs. I've personally used it for rules lite rpgs when running one shots. I've borrowed heavily from it for my DnD games. I've also enjoyed many a night playing it straight out of the source in the 2d20 world. This collection is a pricey investment, but worth every penny. Happy gaming Dog Brothers!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan PDF Master Collection
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Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition
by Todd M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/11/2018 11:42:54

BLUF/TL;WR- If you can stomach the "edgy Orwellian" SJW garbage, and you don't mind the metaplot being even more hard-welded to the rules/releases, then perhaps it's worth a gamble.

Would I purchase it again? No, because I don't like fueling idiotic philosophies and isms.

Will I purchase future products in this line? I'm not sure, in light of the above, but now I've got yet another digibook as a spawning ground for electronic dust-bunnies.

I'll try not to be overly redundant, but to reinforce/reiterate that already stated.

  1. Aesthetics: too cluttered. I wish they'd come out with a bare bones/no art version. It's ~uselessly ~pretty. (mixed bag. not a fan of ~post/modernism, and some of the photos scream "fanboy/larp"; in short, they don't jibe with the tone, nor with the setting. Gothic = dark AND light, not just some cartooney/comic bookish, sophomoric black to the point of comedic. Also, such as with the "fashion" illos, it looks more like Shadowrun, than WoD. These vampires may as well wear a "Hunt Me!" or, "I'm With Troile!" tee-shirts.
  2. Rules: Looks to be a pretty nice improvement, and this is where the scales of usefulness tips, as the rules actually seem to support the kind of game that it is; the hunger mechanic addresses a big gripe that I've had with the WoD at large, namely that it degenerated into a supers game of various stripes. Not so any longer.
  3. Setting. Silly, unbelievable in a bad way. One example is how they paint Francis and the Vatican as some stripe of secretly orthodox hammerers of haemovores. Another is where (shady grammar?) Harker seems to be talking about Vampires drowning. Yet another it is stated that without the blush of life, vampires look dead, but in another section, we are briefed on how vampires are wolves in sheeps' clothing, though some are saintly wolves.

The principle of non-contradiction is either not alive or, if it is, it is unwell, at least in the World of Darkness. Same as it ever was...

Still not a deal breaker though; the systems still seem solid, just either don't think too much, or redact and patch the stupid bits like sainted wolves that don't need to breathe, but can still drown.

Internal consistency and coherence was never a WoD strong suit, to be fair to the current staff; it's a sort of tradition one supposes.

No? How about that rather odd mention of vampiric/unDEAD >>BIO<< feedback?

Silly; eat the meat, and spit the bones, and you should still be fine.

TL;DR- the rules are probably a four, if not a five. The rest I'll pick through like a dumpster, hoping for some good bits that don't strain credibility to the point of snapping.

With the caveat that we keep the peas and carrots of gaming/IRL separate, I can go into more detail, but I would strongly advise that in the future someone writing about an IRL thing, do some (more?) research, or at least get some (more?) input from someone subject matter expert, or at least more familiar.

There's not much point taking from the real world, if you make it so unreal as to be laughable.

Ending on a good note: good job on the rules/integration with dramatic effect.

Add: Further observations based upon further study

  1. Conflcit is handled is a ~uniform way. What this means, for one, is that your social butterfly can be at least as literally lethal as a meat and bone combatant, if not in the same arena, or in the same way; in this version of VtM, mechanically/systemically speaking at least, the pen may match or exceed the sword/gun/stake etc.
  2. Morality: also seems more system concrete, with very systemically/mechanically significant impacts on the game, which i like. I would be a bit more persnickety about it myself, for example by applying potential stains for non-consensual telepathy (profound breach of privacy, i.e. "thought rape" but, at a minimum, the potential and principle is there; a given example is when Auspex is used to possess; have "fun" bleaching that out.

However, the above only highlights the contradictory nature of the "flavor text" and commentary on the WoD. (for example, see "Drowned virginal vampire saintly wolves" prev. There are more "WTF(udge)?" moments like these peppered throughtout, something which would have been remedied or at least pointed out by a first year Phil./Theol. student's read through, or even via someone more keen on crit-think.

Add: another bit of nonsense to further highlight the non-mechanical incoherence and inconsistency of the book; it is stated that it isn't the job of the participants to morally judge the characters in the game, even though the morality systems given in the game require just that. It isn't the ONLY job, but it is clearly A job.

Conclusion at this point? Filler text to pump up the page count, to bump the price and make you think you're getting more than you are when, in truth, what you're really doing is paying a road to tax to fund making pot-holes.

Still give it a three, I just wouldn't spend to much time reading the non-rules/mechanics stuff, at least not without a fifth and some Tylenol.

Add: "The Second Inquisition" works well enough, if you're ignorant enough of history, the Church, the "Church", the Inquisition, the "War on Terror", geopolitics etc., otherwise you'll probably have to retool or ditch the whole think; useful in concept, mediocre to crap, stereotypical, and silly exectution. It's a characature and amalgam from numerous bad movies and comic books. MIB meets Xfiles meets le Fanu; even if you are mostly careless of such, it just doesn't add up as told, and humanity, and the counter-conspiracy is just way too competent, way to cohesive, and way too Tom Clancy convenient, unified, and coherent. Okay idea, shoddy execution.

TL;DR- it's too perfect, too neat, tidy, and clean and, so, counter to suspension of disbelief, unless you're just a gushy fanboy or would rather not think about it overmuch to at all. When does Jack Ryan make an appearance?

No? Example: how do you just "take out" Vienna, Tremere Grand Central? You've got Chantry one, with a passel of leeches with AUSPEX, Dominate, and Thaumaturgy? I get that it could be done, but as presented it's just too handwaved. They're ~prescient, for crying out loud.

You can backpedal and retcon all you like, but this is the main book, and ST's are supposed to be able to use it; X-Files went from engaging, to annoying, because they kept waffling on "The Truth" that was ever more out there to the point where you just didn't care anymore.

Advice? You can read it, or you can run it; anyone who's actually done the latter for any amount of time knows that the metaplot has a way of derailing what you've already played, so you just ditch it and don't use it whole cloth in your game because you can't; you've already "written" how things are in play, and taffy stories, if they're actually stories, usually degrade into a sticky, unsavory mess.

Edit: reduced rating to two for the nigh-inevitable, appended, Orwellian, SJW, special snowflake garbage at the end. I'd like to reduce it to one, but the mechanics mitigate against that regardless; I simply can't justify that. Maybe the person/s who wrote that tripe can get a new job reruining Star Wars; they're certainly "qualified".

If you're just going to update and incorporate rules, I'd still buy it; otherwise, I'd pass.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition
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Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/10/2018 23:26:57

Vampire: The Masquerade is an RPG that was popular through the 90s and early 2000s, focusing on modern-day vampires and the struggles of their afterlives. Vampiric characters had 'disciplines', which are vampiric powers determined by their membership in a 'clan', a group of vampires who trace their lineage back to the same vampiric sire. A large part of the game centered around the debate amongst vampires whether to silently coexist with humanity, and use their powers to rule from the shadows (the Masquerade--advocated by a group called the Camarilla), or to give into their monsterous, beastial nature and use their vampiric powers to crush humanity and feed off of mortals as if they were cattle (advocated by a group called the Sabbat). In previous incarnations of the game, this conflict drove much of the story. The Sabbat made trouble for the Camarilla, who sought fight off the Sabbat and cover up any sign of supernatural conflict (upholding the Masquerade). This new edition brings us a new story. Humans have wised up. Intelligence agencies around the world have uncovered evidence of vampiric activity, and have acted to take out some of the most powerful vampires. The old order has been turned on its head as once-powerful clans, such as the magic-weilding Tremere have been knocked off of their pedestals. Members of the once brash Sabbat, which didn't care much to hide its power from humans, have either been killed off, driven into hiding, or like many other vampires, have been mysteriously beckoned to the Middle East. In many places, younger, thin-blooded vampires with new abilities have come to power. Vampire has always been a story-telling game, and this edition does a phenomenal job of advancing the game's story into new places. New players can enjoy tales of clashes with ancient vampires and government agents as young vampires rise to the top of the dark world created by their elders, and struggling with their inner beast and hunger for blood. Veteran players have a chance revisit characters that they played 20 years ago, and track down their old enemies if they want to live out the old rivalries. The book even touches on werewolfs, wraiths, and mages, but let's hope we see more of that in another sourcebook. In terms of the game's rules, each player is a vampire who gets to pick a small set of powers. This version keeps the ruleset simple, offering players the options to pick from the 7 Camarilla clans (previous editions had more clans that were part of the Sabbat or other organizations). However, this edition makes thin-blooded characters another great option for play with some great abilities. Thin-bloods are clanless vampires who can survive exposure to sunlight to some degree, but can't develop discipline powers as advanced as other vampires. Though, some know the secrets of distilling thier blood into alchemical concoctions that mimic the powers of true vampires. Among the most notable changes is the balancing and condensing of a lot of vampiric powers from previous editions. Veteran players will notice that some disciplines have been folded into one, and some abilities that were previously over-powered have been pared down for balance. A really nice feature is that when a player gains a level in an ability now, they get to pick from a set of powers now instead of having one option. This makes the game much more interesting given that 2 vampires of the same clan, and can have very different sets of abilities. Further, this edition adds rules for blood 'resonance'--a property of blood that gives it flavor and accompanying power. This is a very interesting story point that has rules implications for increasing your character's power, and perhaps becoming something to drive a storyline. Perhaps the most noticable thing about the book is its aesthetic. Vampire (and much of the other White Wolf games) always had a certain look about them. Their books always paid great attention to the feel of their setting, and they were famous for black and white art that was simple, somewhat erratic, and very powerful in establishing the feel of the World of Darkness. It was so well-known that it was even part of our discussions in building our review system here at Geeks A Gogo. However, the game's 5th edition makes some big changes in artistic direction. It adds a lot of artful photos of live subjects, and a simple page layout that give the book the feel of a fashion magazine. It adds a new air of realism and makes quite an impact that fans will appreciate. In closing, I want to make a full disclosure: I played a good amount of earlier editions of Vampire during it's heyday, until I got tired of the game and moved on. But just a few pages into the new edition, I can't wait to run a campaign. If you used to play, I recommend getting back into the game. If you're new to the game (and 18 or older), I recommend giving it a try. This classic game is going to new places, and it will keep you thirsting for more.

Read the full review at geeksagogo.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks - In the Bleak Midsummer
by Julie Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2018 15:14:07

I ran this adventure for my group this week, and everyone had a blast. The adventure has a nice, strong hook that will pull the players into the investigation easily, even if they don't use the pregenerated characters provided (we didn't). The most obvious lines of investigation are covered, giving the GM a good deal of material to work with. The climactic combat against the Nussknackers in the pie factory was brutal! I provided one per character, and there were times when I thought someone might go down. In hindsight, I'd suggest one fewer Nussknacker than the number of PCs, allowing the PCs to gang up on them.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks - In the Bleak Midsummer
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Conan: The Monolith Sourcebook
by Joshua F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2018 13:55:21

Up to the normal beauty of all the other Conan books but lacking in substance that is directly applicable to the tabletop RPG. This book would be best described as an expansion/how to for the board game. There are some new enemies for DMs but beyond that it is mostly mission/story ideas if you are playing the RPG. If you like the board game that it is linked to then it is a great addition with a variety of new scenarios for you as well as a detailed how-to that will help you write your own adventures and missions for the board game. Beyond that, it is pretty and I'm happy to have it but it won't be adding much to my ongoing Conan campaign beyond giving us something fun to do when we want a break from the role playing.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Conan: The Monolith Sourcebook
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Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
by Jorge J. V [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2018 20:47:43

It's a mess! Simply not worth the effort. It was poorly edited, the information is incomplete and contradictory and ambiguous. The combat rules don't make sense as written.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
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Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition
by Alexander N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2018 18:14:44

The system looks quite interresting, the way that the world has changed is compelling and the idea of the whole second inquisition, that is just superp, gotta admit. I like it. I like it a lot, actually. If only the lay-out had been better, this nearly reads as the old Malkavian clanbook, and if the Sabbat Clans had been included (Pappa needs his Lasombra!) then this game could have gotten 5 stars.

And now for the things that bug me, that has nothing to do with the game, but must be adressed. In this game, we play as monsters. Monsters that were once humans. The very point of this game is to, at some point in time, to kill people. Not just bad people, but just a random stranger and then having to live with the consequences of what you did, all the while you struggle with the fact that you dont feel bad for squeezing every sanguine drop from that poor single mother you ran into on the bus as she was coming home from an 12 hour shift to feed her 3 children (All of which you found out from stealing her purse and looking through her phone after said murder.)

What I am trying to say is, that I am an adult, this game is very much for people with a certain level of maturity and an interest in exploring the darker aspects of life and what it means to be slowly losing your humanity.

What I am getting at, is that people that needs to have triggerwarnings and a cain-be-redeemed article in their book talking about Identity-Politics in a DARK HORROR ROLE-PLAYING GAME, WHERE YOU LITTERALLY EAT PEOPLE, you should probably just stick to more non-offensive games, such as jenga.

I can accept with there being some ways of helping others defining their comfort levels, if people dont know each other before gaming together, this might be an good idea, since V:TM handels some dark themes and I can accept not being okay with rape-scenes and getting. with great, nausiating detail, violently eviscerated by a frenzied, naked Brujah, who just drained a guy on PCP.

Also, I don´t agree with White Wolf dictating what politics are allowed by the players. They are a company and should stick to making books that are politically neutral.

If they were spending more time on lay-out and less on virtue-signaling and appeasing the safe-space demographic, that would have been super.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition
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