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Capharnaum Quickstart: THE TEARS OF AMPHAROOL
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/12/2018 09:17:08

Lushly presented, we have here a rich fantasy world that is Arabian in style. In this world, certain individuals are born with a birthmark on their backs shaped like a dragon's claw. It is belived - and expected - that these individuals are capable of great heroism, of achieving great renown... or notoriety, should their astonishing feats tend to the evil rather than the good. The player-characters are all marked thus: what will they accomplish? What songs will be sung about them, or stories told?

Colourful adventures, political, military, and magical intrigues await the characters in the land of Jazirat, once annexed by a crumbling Empire that itself was built on the remains of the Republic of Agalanthia. Jazirat is a vast peninsula with a big desert in the middle and Capharnaum to the north, regarded as the centre of the world, while the nation of Kh'saaba is found to the south. Many peoples with their own traditions and beliefs mix here, sometimes at peace, often not.

Scene set, we move on to the Quickstart Rules, a cut-down version of the full Capharnaum rules. The GM here is called Al-Rawi, which is the Arabic for 'storyteller', and task resolution is by rolling handfulls of d6s... you'll need a lot of them. The number rolled depends on your score in the appropriate attribute (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence or Charisma) and where appropriate you add in the number of points you have in an apposite skill. Most attributes and skills are rated 1-5, so normally you'll be rolling up to ten dice at a time. You then add up the best rolls, using the number of dice derived from your attribute - these are your Result dice, and you want as high a result as possible. This is compared against a target or against what someone else rolled if it's an opposed task. Sounds simple, huh? But there's more. Every time you roll, one die is designated the Dragon Die and if you roll a 6 on that, you keep that 6 and reroll, adding that result in as well... and so on until it rolls something other than 6. Only the Dragon Marked get to rill a Dragon Die. There are also extra effects if you roll three dice the same, called a 'Constellation'... and there are other bits as well. It sounds complex but once you have got your head around it, you'll find it works quite well, even if it makes the die-rolling a bit intrusive into the flow of the game.

The rules bit then goes into great detail about combat. It's a round-based system with everyone involved rolling initiative each round, then taking their actions in turn. Needless to say, there are a lot of different actions to choose from. There are also different classes of opponents from Champions (who give even the Dragon Marked a run for their money) to the hordes of 'Babouche-Draggers' who fall over at a harsh look and are there for local colour rather than real opposition. It's all intended to create a cinematic feel for combat, and flamboyant moves are encouraged. This is followed by a brief look at magic, which is supposedly flexible and profound; here it's limited to discussion of a single improvisational style practised by both of the magic-using pre-generated characters provided. In this, to cast a spell the player states which 'Sacred Word' (Create, Destroy, or Transform) is to be used, then describes the effect they are trying to create and then roll for the success (or otherwise) of your spell.

Next comes the adventure The Tears of Ampharool, which begins with the party travelling in a caravan across the desert when a sandstorm hits. Eventually an opportunity opens up, rather neatly it doesn't matter whether or not the party take up the offer, Whether or not they decide to explore a mirage palace that appears before them, there's plenty to do in the desert. It is all well constructed and hangs together neatly, leaving the party with the impression that the choices they may really do make a difference.

Finally, there are five pre-generated characters to choose from. Each is well-rounded and detailed, complete with charming illustrations.

Perpare to be swept away on a magic carpet of adventure. The game mechanics seem complex when you read through them, but become less clunky as you get to know them, with the magic system lending itself to some spectactular results if you are prepared to put the effort into designing your spells. There's a glorious immersive feel as this rich setting takes over and embraces you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Capharnaum Quickstart: THE TEARS OF AMPHAROOL
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John Carter of Mars Quickstart
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/08/2018 10:39:51

This is the quick and dirty version of the upcoming RPG based off the classic John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs--best known as the creator of Tarzan of the Apes. The series, while science fiction, is closer in spirit to heroic fantasy--square-jawed heroes rescuing beautiful maidens from bizarre monsters and villains is the name of the game here. The genre is Sword and Planet, which the precursor to the modern Space Opera. Although many roll their eyes over the notorious cinematic flop based on the series, the cultural influence of the books is notable. Representatives of the Burroughs estate and a noted scholar with expertise on the author contributed to elements of the game's creation, according to the preface, and it appears to be a labor of love. The rules are relatively simple and attempt to reflect the Saturday matinee feel of the material. As for the mechanics, this game follows Modiphius' two D20 system. Players combine two of their six attributes to roll two d20 against a target number based on the sum of the attribute paring. Each success under the weaker of the two attributes is doubled. The difficulty of the task determines the number of successes required. Various modifiers can increase the number of successes (external threats can be added to improve player rolls, for example-- an odd but interesting tit-for-tat touch) and a limited number of excess successes can be pooled and used to enhance future tests (this is referred to as momentum). While there are limits on the roles, they do reflect the bigger than life nature of the characters as is typical of the genre. 'Flags Over Mars', the short adventure that comes with this book, does its job, as well. Fans of the series will not be disappointed. Though we don't have the full rules for this game yet, it has a lot of potential. One good thing about the original series was that it crossed over with the Tarzan and Pellucidar books--the later was a hollow Earth setting. There is room for potential expansion with this game that could keep players occupied for a long time.

Read the full review at GeeksAGogo.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
John Carter of Mars Quickstart
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The Worm Within - The First Chronicle Of Future Earth (novel)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2018 08:57:59

Short take: The Worm Within is a very enjoyable read. I recommend it and look forward to the next installment.

Long take: I won't describe the plot in details, but it's pretty standard stuff for anyone who's read a smidgen of pulp fantasy and/or sat on fantasy and science-fantasy role-playing game sessions. There's a young apprentice with a mysterious past, a paladin, a magician of sorts, a thief, and a dark threat that puts the whole wold in danger. Still, Sarah Newton manages to inject enough energy in these over-used formulas to keep The Worm Within interesting.

The short chapters, organized around brief sections showcasing Newton's resolute writing style, give the story a strong forward momentum almost from the get-go. There's little to no fat either: the novel's very well edited, with less than a handful of typos. Jargon pertaining to the world in which the story takes place fills the text, but I never found it so distracting that I stopped enjoying the read. In fact, as the story progressed, said jargon drew me in further.

The Worm Within contains memorable, well-drawn characters. Although the novel's plot-driven, the people we get to spend time with never feel like after-thoughts. It is in fact our concern for their fate that makes The Worm Within such a fun read. As the novel reaches its climax, so too do the emotionally-charged threads tying all the characters together. The result is a very satisfying climax, one that's emotional as well as awesome in scale.

Finally, there's the world, which is one of the novel's main strengths: it's vast and resplendent, full of far-out deep history where super-advanced technology functions alongside awe-inspiring sorcery. If anyone's interested in what the world of Newton's (as of right now up-coming) role-playing game Chronicles of Future Earth might be about, short of buying the game, The Worm Within stands as your best introduction to it. It's pretty clear that there's going to be enough in that game to satisfy some of the most demanding RPG- hobbyists out there: weird creatures, magic, high-tech, weird customs, evil fiends, long lost ruins full of wonders and dangers. Just pure, unadulterated, pulpy fun.

Note: The Worm Within is also the name of the good adventure that appears in Chaosium's 2011 Chronicles of Future Earth supplement. The novel and the adventure have very little in common though, beyond their common title and one of their plot-points. So, dive in.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Worm Within - The First Chronicle Of Future Earth (novel)
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Infinity: Infinity RPG Core Book
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2018 10:07:15

https://www.teilzeithelden.de/2018/05/25/spieltest-infinity-rpg-corebook-eine-runde-mit-quantronic-heat/

Nach unserem Ersteindruck konnten wir es kaum erwarten, uns in das erste Abenteuer mit dem Infinity RPG Corebook zu stürzen. Zum Glück liefert das Einsteigerabenteuer „Quantronic Heat“ einen guten Ansatzpunkt. Doch ob wir nach dem Abenteuer genauso überzeugt waren von dem Infinity RPG, erfahrt ihr in unserem Spielbericht.

Nach der ersten Lektüre vom Infinity RPG Corebook war ich hin und weg. Als großer Fan des Infinity Tabletops konnte ich es kaum erwarten, mich mit ein paar weiteren Spielern in die RPG Adaption von Modiphius zu schwingen. Auch wenn ich immer noch nicht hundertprozentig mit allen Regeln fit war, wollte ich unbedingt loslegen. Also schnappte ich mir ein paar Leute und traf mich Online in Roll20 zum ersten Abend und ich muss leider sagen, ich hätte mich besser vorbereiten sollen. Aber der Reihe nach.

Die Spielwelt & Regeln und Charaktererschaffung

Wir haben ja in unserem Ersteindruck bereits die Regeln zum Infinity RPG vorgestellt, deshalb hier für alle Lesefaulen nur einmal die Kurzübersicht: Das Infinity RPG basiert auf einem W20 System, welches von Modiphius entwickelt wurde und welches z. B. bereits schon in Star Trek Adventures verwendet worden ist. Bei Proben würfeln die Spieler in der Regel mit 2W20 und versuchen einen Zielwert zu unterschreiten, welcher sich aus den Attributen und den Skills des Charakters zusammensetzt. In bestimmten Fällen können zusätzliche W20 geworfen werden. Zusätzlich gibt es noch sechsseitige Würfel, die sog. Damage Dice, welche z. B. beim Kampf verwendet werden.

Allgemein basiert das Infinity RPG auf dem gleichnamigen Tabletop System von Corvus Belli und ist im Grunde ein Sci-Fi Setting, welches sich aber erfrischenderweise deutlich von z. B. Shadowrun oder anderen eher düsteren Sci-Fi Welten abhebt. Die Zukunftsvision von Infinity ist grundsätzlich deutlich positiver und arbeitet deutlich weniger mit Dystopien. Trotzdem herrschen in der Welt von Infinity Konflikte zwischen unterschiedlichen Fraktionen, Angriffe von Aliens sind keine Seltenheit und im Verborgenen agieren Konzerne und Nationen, um ihren politischen und ökonomischen Gegnern so viel Schaden wie möglich zuzufügen. Langeweile kommt also definitiv nicht auf.

Die Charaktererschaffung basiert auf einem „Lifepath“-System, bei dem die einzelnen Abschnitte des bisherigen Lebens des Charakters beschrieben werden. Von den Umständen der Geburt, über die Kindheit bis zu den eingeschlagenen Karrieren würfelt man so nach und nach seinen Charakter aus. Damit nicht alles aus Zufallsentscheidungen besteht, hat man die Möglichkeit fünf sog. Livepoints auszugeben, um bestimmte Ergebnisse auszuwählen. Davon haben meine Spieler auch rege Gebrauch gemacht.

Agenten im Dienste von O-12 Für meine Spielrunde wollte ich unbedingt eine gute Mischung aus erfahrenen Rollenspielern und Neulingen finden, um das Infinity RPG gründlich zu testen. Zu meinem Glück habe ich sogar einen Spieler gefunden, der sich bereits bestens mit dem Infinity Tabletop auskannte und sofort Feuer und Flamme von der Idee war, das Infinity Universum als Tabletop RPG zu bespielen. Zwar hatte er noch wenig Erfahrung in Sachen Rollenspiel, aber die anderen beiden Spieler machten dies mit umso mehr Erfahrung wieder wett. So hatte ich die nahezu perfekte Spielergruppe für einen möglichst repräsentativen Spieletest zusammengesammelt. Also machten wir uns an die Charaktererschaffung.

Der Charakterbogen Bei der Charaktererschaffung stießen wir gleich auf die ersten Unwägbarkeiten. Zwei vollkommene Neulinge in die doch sehr komplexe Infinity Welt einzuführen war schwieriger als erwartet. Vor allem die Unterschiede der verschiedenen Fraktionen anschaulich darzustellen stellte eine große Herausforderung dar und letztendlich haben wir uns dann dazu entschieden die Fraktionen dem Zufall zu überlassen. Dafür kamen die Lebensereignisse sehr gut an und wir schafften es eine sehr durchmischte Gruppe an Charakteren zu generieren mit denen alle Spieler am Ende sehr zufrieden waren. Als inhaltliche Klammer haben wir alle Charaktere in den Dienst von O-12, dem Infinity Äquivalent zu den Vereinten Nationen, gestellt. So mussten wir nicht zunächst ein Zusammentreffen der Charaktere inszenieren, sondern konnten direkt in das Abenteuer starten. Die Gruppe bestand aus: Viktoria Volkova, exzentrische Hackerin und Medizinerin von dem Nomad Mutterschiff Bakunin, Adrien Blanchart, Agent und Scout aus der Wildnis von Ariadna und Che Flores, Söldner, Kopfgeldjäger und Pilot im Dienste von O-12.

Um in die fabelhafte Welt von Infinity reinzuschnuppern, bietet Modiphius gleich eine Mini-Kampagne an. In „Quantronic Heat“ untersuchen die Spieler einen Angriff auf eine militärische Forschungseinrichtung und machen sich auf die Suche nach einem verschwundenen Wissenschaftler. Wir haben das erste Kapitel gespielt und jeder, der dies selbst auch noch mal als Spieler erleben möchte, sollte lieber vorsichtig weiterlesen denn es werden ein paar Spoiler folgen.

Die Spieler werden nach Santiago de Neoterra auf dem Planeten Neoterra gerufen, eine fortschrittlich entwickelten Welt, welche unter der Regierung von Panoceania steht und einen Großteil der fortschrittlichsten militärischen Forschungseinrichtungen beherbergt. Als Agenten des sog. Bureau Noir von O-12 werden unsere Spieler zu eben einer solchen Forschungseinrichtung geschickt, wo sich ein Zwischenfall ereignet hat. In der Seite des Hauptquartiers von Thaler Quantronic Systems klafft ein Loch und vor dem Gebäude tummeln sich Forscher, Militär- und Medizinpersonal und versorgen Verletzte bzw. sichern das Gebäude. Der erste Anlaufpunkt für unsere Agenten sollte der Sicherheitschef Bhatia sein, der sie über die genauen Hintergründe aufklären sollte.

Nach der Beschreibung des Sicherheitschefs, wurde ein Anschlag auf eines der „Remote Cognition Labs“ durchgeführt, bei dem ein Großteil des Labors verwüstet wurde, die meisten Wissenschaftler und Mitglieder des Sicherheitsdienstes getötet und zusätzlich sämtliche Computer zerstört wurden. Als wäre dies nicht schon erschreckend genug, so wurde auch einer der leitenden Wissenschaftler, ein Dr. Hart, entführt. Die einzige Überlebende des Anschlags, eine gewisse, Dr. Anju Cooper, wird gerade behandelt und ist seltsamerweise nur leicht verletzt aus dem Labor entkommen. Der Angriff fand anscheinend durch die Glasfenster mit Hilfe eines Flugobjekts statt und zeitgleich wurde zudem das Sicherheitsbüro auf dem Stockwerk attackiert und sämtliche Kameraaufzeichnungen sabotiert. Zudem liefert Bhatia auch direkt einen Verdächtigen: die Konkurrenzfirma Sheshou Defence. Um sich einen Überblick über die Lage zu verschaffen, machten sich die Agenten zunächst auf den Weg in das Labor.

Im zehnten Stock angekommen bestätigte sich sofort die Version des Angriffs des Sicherheitschefs Bhatia. Überall im Labor lagen noch die Leichen des Sicherheitspersonals. Glücklicherweise schaffte unser Kopfgeldjäger Che seinen Würfelwurf auf „Observation“ und konnte so den Angriff rekonstruieren: Die Angreifer waren mit Hilfe eines Quadrokopters an die Außenwand des Gebäudes geflogen, hatten die Glasfront aufgesprengt und waren dann mit Hilfe von Rauchgranaten und Infrarotsichtgeräten über das Sicherheitspersonal hergefallen. Da der Schaden an dem Equipment des Labors sehr willkürlich wirkte, war die Gruppe schnell überzeugt, dass die Entführung das eigentliche Ziel des Angriffs gewesen sein musste. Durch einen besonders gut gelungenen Hacking Wurf unserer Nomadin konnten die Agenten sogar die Flugbahn des Quadrocopters nachvollziehen. Dem ersten Anschein nach kam der Quadrokopter tatsächlich von Sheshou Defence doch bei genauerer Untersuchung konnte die Gruppe diese falsche Fährte ausschließen und der Landepunkt des Quadrokopters bis zu einem Wohnkomplex nachvollziehen. Bevor sich die Agenten allerdings dorthin auf den Weg machten, wollten Sie noch das Sicherheitszentrum untersuchen.

Das Sicherheitsbüro wurde zum Glück nicht so stark beschädigt wie das Labor. Das wachhabende Personal wurde kurz vor dem Angriff ausgeschaltet und sämtliche Kameraaufnahmen wurden manipuliert. Der Angreifer muss sehr schnell agiert haben. Nach kurzer Untersuchung finden die Agenten einen Repeater durch den vermutlich ein Hacker Zugriff auf die Sicherheitstechnik hatte. Nach einem kurzen elektronischen Gefecht mit den Sicherheitsroutinen des Hackers schaffte es Viktoria den Herkunftsort des Angriffs zu bestimmen. Dieser kam wahrscheinlich aus einem Netzwerk, welches einem Apartment zugeordnet werden kann, das zufälligerweise genau in dem Apartmentkomplex liegt, zu dem die Agenten auch den Quadrokopter zurückverfolgt hatten. An Zufall dachte an diesem Punkt schon niemand mehr. Durch einen kritischen Misserfolg schafften es die Agenten allerdings nicht das Videomaterial zu rekonstruieren, sondern machten alles sogar noch schlimmer was zur Folge hatte, dass sie aus dem Sicherheitsbüro mit Nachdruck herausgebeten wurden.

Die Spieler hatten in diesem Fall aber eh schon genug gesehen und machten sich direkt auf den Weg zu dem Apartmentkomplex, ohne noch mal mit der überlebenden Assistentin gesprochen zu haben. Vor Ort angekommen, stellt sie mit Verwunderung fest, dass das Apartment wohin Sie den Hackerangriff zurückverfolgt hatten, dem vermissten Dr. Hart zu gehören schien. Hier wurden die Agenten schon stutzig und entschlossen sich erst einmal zu versuchen über das Sicherheitssystem des Apartments sich einen Einblick zu verschaffen. Dabei scheiterte die Hackerin allerdings so kolossal, sodass die im Apartment verbliebenen Attentäter vorgewarnt waren und umgehend durch die Eingangstür feuerten. So entbrannte ein relativ kurzes aber heftiges Gefecht, welches nicht nur mit Schusswaffen, sondern auch mit Hackerprogrammen geführt wurde und am Ende standen die eher leicht verletzten Agenten im Apartment von Dr. Hart inmitten von getöteten Feinden. Leider fehlte von Dr. Hart jede Spur und die Agenten konnten zum Ende des Kapitels lediglich einige Hinweise auf eine Terrororganisation namens „March 21“ sicherstellen.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielleitersicht Ich muss sagen, ich hätte mich wirklich etwas besser auf das Spiel vorbereiten sollen. Eigentlich war ich der Überzeugung alle wichtigen Regeln gelesen zu haben, aber er Erfindungsreichtum meiner Gruppe stellte mich schnell vor viele Fragen was dazu führte, dass ich vieles noch mal nachlesen musste. Hier wäre ein Spielleiterschirm mit allen wichtigen Regeln als Zusammenfassung durchaus hilfreich gewesen. Zusätzlich hat der Aufbau des Regelwerks in der Übersicht auch noch einige Schwächen. Finde ich jetzt die genaue Beschreibung von Hacking Programmen unter Ausrüstung oder unter Hacking? Letztendlich hat zwar dennoch alles mit etwas Improvisation funktioniert aber dies hat bei mir zumindest einen faden Beigeschmack hinterlassen. Abgesehen davon, hat mir das leiten der Spielrunde dennoch sehr viel Spaß gemacht. Das Regelwerk geht bei normalen Proben super von der Hand und man hat viel Freiräume, um einzelne Szenen mit seinen Spielern gemeinsam auszugestalten und das Setting und die Welt von Infinity sind einfach fantastisch. Da nehme ich den etwas höheren Vorbereitungsaufwand gern in Kauf.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielersicht Nach dem Kapitel wollten alle am liebsten sofort weiterspielen, um herauszufinden was es mit March 21 auf sich hat, dies war für mich schon mal ein äußerst positives Zeichen. Auch wenn zwei unserer Spieler zunächst Probleme hatten, sich in die Welt von Infinity einzufinden, so verflog dieses Gefühl schnell und wich einer großen Begeisterung für die Spielrunde. Das Abenteuer haben alle als durchaus spannend und empfunden und keiner hatte während des Spiels das Gefühl zu sehr an der Leine durch das Abenteuer geführt zu werden. Die Regeln hatten die Spieler ebenfalls sehr schnell drauf, auch wenn ich Sie hier und da noch mal an die Nutzung von z. B. Momentum erinnern musste. Für unseren Infinity Veteran war das Abenteuer ebenfalls sehr gelungen. Er musste sich zwar erstmal etwas umstellen, da sich das Regelsystem des Tabletops und des RPGs gravierend unterscheiden, aber er hat das auch schnell auf die Reihe bekommen und konnte gleichzeitig mit seiner Erfahrung die anderen Spieler unterstützen und z. B. Rückfragen über die Welt beantworten. Die kleinen Regelunklarheiten haben das Spiel zwar etwas in die Länge gezogen aber dem Spielfluss eigentlichen kaum einen Abbruch getan.

Fazit Auch nach dem Spieltest bin ich immer noch ein großer Fan des Infinity RPG Corebooks. Allerdings hat sich meine Befürchtung aus dem Ersteindruck bestätigt, die Komplexität und teilweise auch die einzelnen Formulierungen von Regeln führen dazu, dass man vieles nicht auf Anhieb richtig versteht, auch wenn man durchaus des Englischen mächtig ist. Hier sollte man sich als Spielleiter definitiv gut drauf vorbereiten und auch die Spieler sollten sich vorher bereits mit der Welt von Infinity auseinandersetzen. Deshalb kann ich das Grundregelwerk zumindest auf Englisch leider nicht mehr uneingeschränkt jedem empfehlen. Wer aber die Bereitschaft hat sich dort reinzuarbeiten, wird ein fantastisches System mit einer großartigen und einzigartigen Sci-Fi Welt vorfinden welches die Spieler sofort in seinen Bann zieht und sowohl kurze Sessions als auch langfristige Kampagnen ermöglicht.

Artikelbild: © Covus Belli, Modiphius Entertainment, Bearbeitet von Verena Bach Dieses Produkt wurde kostenlos zur Verfügung gestellt.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Infinity: Infinity RPG Core Book
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Conan the Barbarian
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/18/2018 10:24:28

Being a barbarian isn't about being rough, rude, violent and uncultured... it speaks of a rugged vitality that more civilised places seem to have lost. This book surveys the 'barbarian' lands of the north: Asgard, Vanaheim, Hyperborea, and Cimmeria (where Conan himself came from). Legends, lore and facts swirl together to present new realms in which adventures may be set, along with a complete system for barbarian raids, and much more.

After a brief introduction showing how the north has been the subject of academic study from Conan's time onwards, we launch into Chapter 1: Barbarian Characters. This is filled with detailed notes and resources for anyone wanting to play a barbarian character, including backgrounds and castes specifically suited to them. The idea is that you use the standard system as given in the core rulebook, but swap in the new options as appropriate. New archetypes include bards and slavers, and there's plenty more to help you create an effective barbarian-themed background for your character. There is new equipment too, items unique to the north and well-suited to its rigours.

Next, Chapter 2: Gazetteer - the main part of the book - presents a detailed view of the lands of the north. History, notes about the peoples that dwell there, far more than a mere description of the geography and settlements of the region. There's a wealth of information here: tribal customs, beautiful maps, notable places to visit and people to meet, and much more to make the north come to life as a place to visit or one to call home.

This is followed by Chapter 3: Events, which presents a series of events that Northern characters are likely to know about and have probably attended, and which visitors can be caught up in, like it or not. Traditions, cultural forces: events and challenges and occurances that can catch the party up and remind them of where they are. There's the Thing, a week-long festival that mixes trading, sporting contests, law-giving, feasting and more in a dizzying kaleidoscope, replete with opportunities for adventure (particularly for parties that like intrigue). Many people are nomadic or seminomadic, so migrations can form a large part of their life - and provide consoderable scope for adventure. This chapter also deals with raids - a major part of barbarian economy. It's a bit abstract on the grounds that raiding is decidedly unheroic. Still, there's ample material for running a raid which the party may come across or get caught up in. There are also some notes on ship battles - think Viking longboats.

We next take a look at Northern beliefs and traditions in Chapter 4: Myth and Magic. Some of their habits seem strange to outsiders, it's fun to play on this as a character from barbarian lands, or spring them on a party visiting the region. This is followed by a chapter-full of Encounters - a selection of NPCs, animals and monsters the party may meet during their travels.

Chapter 6: Hither Came Conan serves as a potted history of the great one's early years (including a character sheet from around the time he left the north), and this is followed by Chapter 7: The Barbarian Way. This discusses running campaigns involving barbarians - perhaps a war band or raiding party, or the young adventurous individuals from one settlement or tribe. There's loads of ideas for things that might go on during such a campaign, many of them common milestones and happenings in barbarian life such as rites of passage, courteous behaviour when a guest, social contests like boasting or riddle games... and the way in which barbarians wage war and comport themselves on the battlefield. Not to mention the duels that occur when nights are long and tempers run short. There's a vast list of events to liven up carousing. Finally, the last short chapter contains a detailed write-up of a barbarian character - perhaps the party will meet her, or one of the group fancies playing her.

If your campaign ever looks north, or you have a party member who wants to be a barbarian like Conan himself, this book will become essential, in the meantime it provides useful information about a fasincating part of the campaign world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan the Barbarian
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Conan: The Book of Skelos
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/15/2018 08:59:28

In most fantasy games, magic is embraced as a useful tool, the use of which any character might aspire to, with many respected practitioners and often centres of learning where budding magic-users may study. It's not quite like that in Conan's world. Magic is scary, often evil, and many of those who wield it are power-hungry villains using their power to further their own selfish if not wicked ends. For most, magic is a black art to be feared and avoided.

This book, however, provides you with an enhanced set of rules to enable magic to feature large within your game. You may wish to increase the threat posed by wicked wizards, or perhaps one or more player-characters wish to learn dark secrets against the advice of everyone who knows them, and probably even their mothers.

Part of the introduction is 'written' by an academic from Miskatonic University in the 1930s, reporting on his study of the legendary tome, the Book of Skelos. Then the nine chapters that make up the work are described. These include the history of sorcery, a collection of magic artefacts, and an array of 'horrors' that will leave you quaking in your boots if not scared clean out of them. If that's not enough, there's also a section on Kingdoms of Dream and Nightmare: spirit and dream realms that the brave may visit... if they dare.

For those characters who wish to study sorcerers - or maybe become one themselves - there is a chapter on Sorcerers in the Mortal Kingdoms, covering the different types of magic that have arisen and where, as well as another chapter about Sorcerers and their Followers. This explains how sorcerers form cabals and societies, gather followers, and - inevitably - plot and scheme against one another. Aspiring sorcerers will find Chapter 6: Advanced Rules for Sorcery of use. It contains new origins, archetypes and backgrounds, and delves further into how sorcery is done, along with new forms like necromancy, astrology, mummery, and herbalism.

There is also a chapter on running sorcery campaigns. Sorcerers are about as hard to herd as cats, so this section contains ideas and advice about guiding them, and of course the forces and goals that may be applied. Finally, there's an extremely detailed sorcerer character - Serafus of Numidia - which can be used by the GM or indeed a player. He's quite young as sorcerers go, but from a wealthy family and eager to search out knowledge wherever it may be. Perhaps he'll hire the party to find an item or volume for him, or even come along for the adventure. As a player-character, maybe he has decided that the best way to discover further knowledge is to become an adventurer himself.

Even if sorcery takes a background role in your game, or is practised only by a few antagonists, this is an excellent work to bring sorcery to vivid life on your tabletop. Once you have a major villain who practises the dark arts, or a player who wants their character to venture into these dangerous waters, it really comes into its own.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan: The Book of Skelos
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Mindjammer: Children of Orion—the Venu Sourcebook
by Nathan G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2018 08:37:55

All this is, is the Imperium corrupted by Chaos. That's it. Lazy writing and blatant theft of another's IP.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Mindjammer: Children of Orion—the Venu Sourcebook
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Star Trek Adventures: Command Division supplement
by Christopher J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2018 09:43:47

Significantly better written and edited than the STA core rulebook, it provides an interesting overview of the backbone of Starfleet, and to a lesser degree the Federation as a whole. There is also a refreshing lack of flavor text, something which nearly cripples the core rulebook. The new command-centric talents are a welcome addition, and the command discipline is presented in a very comprehensive way with regard to how it plays off of the other disciplines. While the book doesn't patch the most egregious flaws of the core rulebook, it does a nice job of triaging many of them.

The only serious complaint I have about this book is the utter derth of starship pictures to accompany the 14 new ships. In a game where the ship is as important a "character" as the PCs, describing a bunch of ships with no visual reference seems rather absurd.

Fortunately, Google is our friend. Unusual Suspex at DeviantArt has a comprehensive catalogue for orthograpically-presented Starfleet ships for your reference. (https://unusualsuspex.deviantart.com/)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Command Division supplement
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Conan the Thief
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/05/2018 09:01:07

Conan himself was a thief: it's how he started out and he used the skills thus learned pretty much throughout his life. It's not surprising, then, that there's plenty of opportunities for light-fingered characters in this game. This book provides plenty of information and options for the ethically-challenged... and for the Game Masters who will shepherd them through their adventures.

Firstly, Chapter 1: Thief Characters expands on the information in the core rules, with additional material to help you create, improve and equip thief characters. The character creation process is run through with notes at each stage as to either the most appropriate choices you can make from the core rules or giving new options - so there is a new Caste - the Outlaw - with associated detail, new Archetypes and much more. Perhaps you'd like to be an assassin or a relic-hunter or a spy... the skills of a thief can be turned to all of these and more. And those skills are many and varied, as the Education section proves when it looks at the training that can be acquired by apprenticing to various types of thief (or just hanging around, seeing as a formal apprenticeship doesn't quite go with the territory). When it comes to War Stories, thieves may substitute tall tales of memorable heists instead. There are new talents, equipment and the tricks of using them and more to bring a thief character to life.

Next, Chapter 2: Gazetteer explores the highways, byways, and underbellies of the kingdoms of Zamora, Nemedia, Corinthia, and Brythunia: places where thievery thrives, indeed becomes almost an artform. History and background, maps, descriptions... all manner of information to provide a backdrop to your exploits. There are notable places to explore, gate guards to negotiate (or sneak) your way past, rumours to hear, and much more. Everything is detailed with an eye to its usefulness or interest to a thief, and it all makes interesting reading, and will probably spawn an adventure idea or two in the mind of a suitably-devious GM.

Whilst a well-informed thief might know at least his own hometown in the sort of detail described in the previous chapter, the rest of the book wanders into GM territory, with chapters on Events, Myth and Magic, and Encounters; which are all designed to provide 'building blocks' and background to help you create meaningful episodes in your party's lives. Events may be for individual thieves, or they may be city-wide or even kingdom-wide events in which the whole party is swept up. You can read about appropriate deities for thieves, and the legends and myths commonly told in thievish circles. The Ecounters chapter contains a vast array of people and monsters that can be met, fought, befriended or indeed robbed...

And there's more. Hither Came Conan recounts exploits from Conan's experience as a thief, and even provides a character sheet for the young Conan. Then Chapter 7: The Way of Thieves is replete with material to aid you in running a campaign based around thievery. Ideas galore including thieves' guilds and the fine art of thievery; and then there's a whole chapter on setting up and running heists... which as any film-watcher knows, make for the most entertaining of light-fingered exploits. Finally, there are three fully-developed legendary thieves, the people your PC thieves want to emulate. Weave them in as something aspirational.

This work really captures the essence of the early Conan books, when Conan was living by his wits and thieving his way across the land. It also makes for interesting and unusual role-play, plenty of excitement but relying on skill and knowledge and planning rather than brute force, yet there are opportunities for combat - especially when that heist goes wrong. Definitely worth adding to your bookshelf or hard drive.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan the Thief
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Conan Player's Guide
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2018 08:47:41

This book is intended for those members of your group who want to play rather than GM, the idea being that if they're not going to GM they do not need the additional information provided for GMs. After all, where's the point in buying a book where you only need a part of it. As the information here is reproduced from the core rulebook, if you have that you don't need this as well.

It starts off by explaining what a role-playing game is, then gets straight on with character generation, detailing the steps necessary for creating your character. This involves a 10-step process that builds a description of your character in terms of his attributes, skills, talents, and equipment. These steps can be followed by rolling on a series of tables or by making deliberate choices as you go along depending on preference. Some players may have a clear image of the character that they want to play, and the dice should not be allowed to get in their way!

The whole thing begins by determining where the character comes from - his homeland. Next comes a quite complex system for allocating numbers to the seven attributes of Agility, Awareness, Brawn, Coordination, Intelligence, Personality, and Willpower. Next comes social class or Caste of origin, followed by Story - little snippets associated with your Caste that provide a spark to start in on developing your backstory. A choice of Archetype then gives skills, talents and equipment to the growing character. A lot of choice is involved at every stage, making this a quite involved process but one which produces rich and rounded characters.

But we're not done yet! Determine your character's Nature, Education and War Story. Just about everyone has seen at least a bit of war, and will have seen or done something that affected them, which - like everything else - contributes to skills and talents as well as to the character's backstory. We round off with Finishing Touches and some Final Calculations... and at some point you'd better decide on a name, age, appearance, etc. If this seems all too much and you're itching to play already, there is a fast random method; and those who want a particular slant have some alternate methods - this may be mandated by the GM, depending on the game that's being planned.

Following chapters go into much more detail about Skills and Talents, with plenty of examples, as well as Equipment. Here you'll find out how to use what you've got. Finally there's a Rules chapter with many detailed explanations of how the rules actually work and how to use them to best effect during play and a further chapter on Action Scenes which focusses on the rules for combat.

If you're certain you never want to GM this game, go ahead and get this book. It contains all that you'll ever need to create and play characters to good effect, with loads of detailed explanations and examples, and some beautiful illustrations.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conan Player's Guide
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Elite Dangerous RPG core book
by Randall S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2018 09:37:35

A review based on entire pdf, in progress:

Good

1: setting allows for variable campaigns 2: simple system that fits setting, including both spaceship and individual combat. 3: layout is fantastic and the text speaks to you as a reader rather than directly dumping info/stat blocks at you. 4: random tables make a bit of a mini game for adventure setting creation.

Bad

1: no pdf bookmarks or links. 2: on iphone, not accessability-friendly; i.e. siri cannot read it aloud. (superbad in a negative way) 3: price sucks for what it lacks vs what a reader would expect. 4: world description could use an expansion because it seems based for people who know the setting through playing the video game.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Elite Dangerous RPG core book
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Star Trek Adventures Quickstart
by Rion S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2018 18:47:19

A good intro to the game, helps explain some of the newer gaming concepts well. If you are considering buying in, check this one out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures Quickstart
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Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2nd Edition
by Carl A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/29/2018 22:51:07

One of the more extensive modifications of the Apocalypse World rules, I found this version to have some excellent ideas and structure changes. It is also one of the best at handling different scales. You have two "characters" you play. One is a character in the more traditional sense, but the main character is actually a familiy of people that single character is from. I use the term "people" pretty loosely here. One of the families are synthetic beings, and another are uplifted animals.

Families have needs, and surpluses. Those resources (or the lack of the same) are a driving force for motivation. One of your figured attributes is the difference between the two of these totals (number of surpluses - number of needs), named "Mood". You have to roll that when the Family is under adverse conditions, so you want to get rid of your needs and maximize your wants so your family doesn't crack when things get hard and the GM decides you need to see if they "Hold Together".

Another great aspect of the system is the Quick Character system. If one of the Players wants to go off and persue a section of the map (that you all built together in the first session) for some goal it often won't make sense for everyone's character to go along. But rather than sitting out that part of the game, you make a Quick Character which is another member of their family with a reduced amount of detail comapred to a full PC. This way everyone can still be involved and not feel like they have nothing to do if the session focuses on someone else for a while.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2nd Edition
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Coriolis: Aram's Ravine
by Marc C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2018 13:54:27

« a complete scenario location for the award-winning Coriolis »

The use of the words «scenario location» was confusing to me. While their are descriptions of several locations, important NPCs and possible interactions between them and PCs, you will not find any detailed plans of buildings or an actual scenario/mission for the players. There are only two short paragraphs of possible adventures hooks at the end of the PDF. The GM has to do all the hard work. I didn't find what I was looking for but what is included is well written and engaging.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Coriolis: Aram's Ravine
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Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
by Glenn F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2018 15:39:17

Take a long hard look at this game - it's got a great deal of promise.

A neat stat and skill based system with a 2(or more)d20 resolution mechanic that cleverly folds in special effects and varying success alongside levels of skill mastery and raw talent.

Armour and basic defences soak damage and circumstances increase difficulty. Effects add unique outcomes for different weapons and will work the same for spells.

Momentum is a group based mechnic that replaces your usual 'special' or 'critical' successes and can be shared with other players interchangeably with combat and non-combat skills.

Fortune are powerful 'Luck Points' and 'Doom' - Doom is something you buy for extra oomph when you need it, that the GM can spend later to fuel changes in circumstances or enemy spells (sorcery is nasty - just like the books).

DISCLAIMER: The above detail isn't designed to give you a pocket guide to the system, it's designed to make you ask the kinds of question that will lead you to the pages of the Quickstart, and hopefully, to a game run with them.

Only then will you understand what I've said, and a lot more besides.

Conan is shaping up to be a well-researched 'true telling' of the world as originally envisioned, and is supported by a rules system that suits it well. If you read elsewhere that the 'Doom' mechnic 'ruins' the game, do yourself the favour of ignoring the 'doom-mongers' (ironic yes?) and trying it out yourself. I don't think most people critiquing it bothered to actually play...

An elegant system and THE Swords and Sorcery world as a combo deal. What more can you ask for?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
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