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Elite Dangerous RPG - Super Traders Sourcebook
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2018 09:08:54

A lot of interstellar travel is going to be about trade, and this book is filled with resources to help those groups who want at least part of their game to be about furthering that trade - presumably as small-scale independents, given that the game is centred around individual spacecraft. With spacecraft ownership proposed on the scale that we own cars, these are probably the van-men of space in the equivalent of a step-van or small truck. It's also something that can be modelled well for someone wanting a solo game.

First up, Advanced Trading. If you are a role-playing group, a lot of trade will be relegated to the Between Adventures phase. Let's face it, commerce - however necessary and valuable - isn't really the stuff of adventure. However the rules as laid out in the core rulebook make for quite a lot of work, especially for the GM. Unless your GM has unlimited prep time, you probably want him to be creating exciting adventures not writing out price lists. So a more flexible system for working out prices in a given system based on what they specialise in and a bit of die rolling for that random element is provided, with the intention that (provided you like it) it will repace the version in the core rules. Interestingly, this includes an element to model a place that is good for trade being over-exploited, ensuring that the characters move on and don't just run a single profitable route without exploring anywhere else. You can make things more complex, but that really defeats the purpose of using this system.

Next comes New Spaceships. Everyone is always ready for a few more... and the ones presented include large bulk carriers - think 'container ship' rather than 'truck' - for those who want to take cargo-hauling seriously. There requite multiple-person crews, but come with 'hangers' for personal vessels, so characters won't have to abandon their pride and joy if they take service on one of these big boys (the price tag is likely too much for most characters to contemplate owning one). There are also smaller one- or two-man ships optimised to carry cargo at, of course, the expense of speed, manoeuvrability or weaponry.

This section is followed by another on Fighter Escorts - as the big cargo haulers are not able to fight well, they need to have escorts to defend them. The concept here is the small specialist fighting craft, carried aboard a larger vessel and loosed when the need arises. They are smaller than the regular personal vessels previously discussed in this game, basically a flying weapons platform - some are even controlled remotely rather than having a pilot aboard. They have limited life support even if designed to be piloted, and no Frame Shift drives.

Next up is It Takes All Sorts, a selection of backgrounds suitable for people who want to specialise in trade. People have all sorts of reasons for becoming independent traders, these provide some of them - often involving a desire (or a need) to escape the past. Additional Karma Capabilities round out this section.

The Eternal Foe comes next. This section talks a little about pirates before provided a selection of adversaries at spaceship, vehicle and individual scales... mostly pirates but also some other traders to provide a bit of competition!

Finally, this is all linked in to the Random Gemeration System (RGS). There's an explanation of how to use it to create a solo game - this dupliates notes in the Military and Espionage supplements, as you may not have them - of course if you do you can have a very varied solo game indeed! It then moves on to creating encounters suitable for a trading game, as useful for the GM wanting to create appropriate challenges as to the solo gamer, including pirate attacks, police boarding actions and general spaceway encounters. There's a selection of trade missions - all of which could be developed into full-blown adventures, with plenty of supporting notes. In places the other sourcebooks are mentioned, but alternatives are given for those who don't possess them.

There's a lot of good stuff here, particularly if you are on your own or want to run a game in which trading and commerce provides the background to the adventures you want to run. A lot would be useful whatever science-fiction game you run, even if it's not Elite Dangerous, but if you do it captures the very essence of the video game well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Elite Dangerous RPG - Super Traders Sourcebook
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Elite Dangerous RPG - Espionage Supplement
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2018 09:03:17

The opening pages (backed by an atmospheric double-page illustration) paint a world that's post-post-truth. Everyone knows not to leave secrets on computers where hackers can break in... so if you want those secrets you have to break in physically to steal them. Espionage is part and parcel of doing business, with corporations even more likely to indulge in it than nation-states.

Slightly oddly, the first section is addressed to Engineers, and talks about upgrading spaceships by tinkering with the systems - in flagrant breach of the warrantry if not the law. Pilots are advised not to fiddle, a case of 'no user-servicable parts inside' which to those of us who like playing starship engineers is anathema! It is considered best to go to a professional if you want to supe up your spaceship, and the first trick is to make contact with a reputable and competent one. In terms of game mechanics, use your Repair skill in the Between Adventures phase if you want to do it yourself. It's probably best to visit your tame professional engineer then as well, who wants to spend role-playing time waiting for your spaceship to come out of the shop? Either way it's going to be expensive. There are tables to roll on for various components, giving a chance of improvement... or of causing a fault (and sometimes both!).

Next comes a selection of New Spaceships. It's noted that agents tend to like ships that are speedy and agile, but which don't stand out in a crowded starport, then presents several new ships (each with variations) that may be chosen during character creation, or indeed picked up later on in the game.

The next section is Perks of the Job. This contains useful equipment that the best-dressed espionage agent wouldn't leave home without. Some are quite innovative - poisonous lipsticks or bodyspray for example (just remember to take the antidote before applying or you'll poison yourself!). There are weapons, cybernetics and othe gizmos as well.

Then we have The Perfect Agent where new backgrounds appropriate to someone wishing to enter the shadowy worlds of espionage are provided. These range from a former downtrodden worker-drone who knows in great detail how a corporation operates to security guards, and an 'insurgent' who may be a prankster, an activist or an outright terrorist. New enhancements and Karma Capabilities appropriate to these roles are also there.

After a rather creepy piece of fiction which I hope won't give any players ideas we move on to The Bad Guys, which provides a whole bunch of ready-made opponents. These come in both Spaceship and Individual scales and range from soldier/mercenary and security personnel to criminals, and of course assassins.

The final part of the book focusses on the Random Generation System (RGS) and concentrates on running solo adventures when you are without a GM. Of course busy GMs can also use it during planning or even mid-game if they need ideas in a hurry. There are infiltration challenges - complete with outcomes based on success or failure - and step-by-step paths through various types of espionage mission. Then there is a system for generating Corporate Bases through a series of die rolls.

There's plenty of useful stuff if you want to run espionage games, but the whole thing has an air of being thrown together, random nuggets added because they might be useful, rather than a coherent exposition of the espionage aspects of the game. It even manages to make espionage sound dull and mechanical... the very thing most people take up this line of work to escape! Pick out all the bits you want to use and throw them into the mix, remembering that the real excitement of an espionage-style mission comes with role-playing it, not just rolling dice!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Elite Dangerous RPG - Espionage Supplement
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Elite Dangerous RPG core book
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/04/2018 11:08:37

The Preface and Introduction between them set the scene and evoke long-lost memories of early gaming in childhood (OK so I am a bit older than the author so there were no videogames to play with, and D&D didn't turn up until I was 18!). It all captures the magic of the alternate realities we inhabit as role-players, and gets you ready for this one, which you might have met before if you have played any of the Elite videogames. They were quasi-role-playing of themselves, but now with this game, that universe comes to life as a full-blown role-playing game. In a nutshell, your characters inhabit a universe where spaceship ownership is as common as car ownership is today, where there is vast inequality between rich and poor, weapons are easily available, life is cheap but opportunites for the brave and fortuate are endless...

There are basically three types of game that you can play. There are exploration games, espionage games (these include the police procedural ones like in the quickstart adventure The Worst Intentions that is bundled with the core rulebook), and military ones. Or in the true spirit of Elite itself, you can be 'Lone Wolf' individuals who nibble at the edges of civilisation to make your living. These are just ideas, of course, this is a rich canvas in which you may tell any story that you please.

We then dive straight in with Chapter 1: Character Creation. The process is summarised in a single page, but of course it's a bit more complex than that as you need to choose backgrounds and skills - even if you do get Trained Pilot background for free, 'cos zipping about in a spaceship is core to the game. You need to pick four backgrounds, which feed into the skills you bring to the game. These can be chosen or rolled for on a random table. A background generally gives you about four skills or their equivalent - some give eight and occupy two slots in your list of backgrounds. Each is described in a few sentences which build up to give an outline of your character's past.

One of the more interesting choices for a background is 'partner' - this gives you a whole other person who tags along with you, and has a character sheet of their own. It's suggested that the GM may role-play this individual, but another method - especially if several players in the group have partners - is to trade them amongst the group, playing each other's partners. One of the things coming out of the process already is a strong sense of 'You are the hero of your own story' and it's going to be interesting to see how this fits into the group or party oriented mindset of most RPGs, as characters are developed in isolation. There is a Karma point system which reiterate that 'You are the hero' view, with Karma Capabilities (you choose from a list and get Escape Death as a bonus one) and points which you can use to reroll a bad die roll... and all are consumed if you call upon Escape Death! They do regenerate, though...

Finally there are eight starships to pick from. They are all one- or two-person craft (if you have a partner you'll need a two-seater), or you can design your own with a 100.000 credit budget (which doesn't go that far...) if you prefer. But EVERY player-character has his or her own ship. You then need to give your character a name and decide what he looks like, and get some basic equipment. Then, adventure awaits...

Or at least it will once you've got through Chapter 2: Playing the Game. This begins by talking about the overall objective (to have fun and make a vast fortune whilst having exciting adventures) and the various GM-set goals you will need to achieve along the way. Several examples are given, all more or less open-ended as to what you're going to do about the situation. Then on to using those skills you just determined that your character has, a matter of deciding what skill you wish to use, getting a difficulty number to roll over and making your attempt by rolling a D10 and adding your skill bonus. If you use a skill, even if you are not successful, you put a tick beside it and at the end of the adventure you can raise it by 1 until you reach the level cap (40 for a starting character) - but only once per skill per adventure however many times you use it. There's a brief description of all the skills so that you can decide which one you want to use, and an explanation of how characters advance to higher levels - you don't want to go around labelled Harmless for ever, after all! This is done by amassing Rank Points, awarded by the GM for things like defeating a foe or succeeding with a skill that materially advances the adventure.

Chapter 3 is devoted to Combat, and it explains how combat works in space, between vehicles (planetside ones, that is), and in person. Combat in person is often conducted at a distance with firearms, but you can also brawl with fists or wave a sword around if you are feeling a bit mediaeval! When engaged in a fight, you may or may not choose to use a map - it depends if you like freeform fighting or a more 'miniatures skirmish' style. Both styles are accommodated here, it's really a matter of personal choice which your group will use. Combat proceeds through a turn-based system, with initiative determined by die roll. During your turn you can move up to ten metres and take an action, with numerous special cases according to circumstances. Note that artificial gravity has not been invented in this universe (although large ships and space stations can generate it through rotation) so characters will often find themselves in a micro-gravity environment. Most folk wear magboots, which keep your feet secure yet allow for movement: if you have them you can move normally in a low gravity environment - but if you're caught without yours movement can get a bit tricky! Wounds and healing are also covered here, before the discussion moves on to space combat. In this game, it's conducted at very close range - a few kilometers at most - and bears a lot of simularity to an aerial dogfight or naval ships in the age of sail exchanging broadsides with the added feature of fighting in three dimensions. A rough map does help here, whether or not you like them for personal combat. Again there is a whole range of actions you can perform both in preparation for combat and once the furball begins. It's also explained how you take (or deal out) damage and how it is repaired during combat. If things go too badly wrong, you might abandon ship by taking to the escape pods (if your ship has them). Finally vehicle combat is covered. It's similar to space combat except there are far more obstacles to crash into, and the ground limits the directions in which you can move.

Next, Chapter 4: The Galaxy is a guided tour of a spaceship, delivered as if you are taking delivery of a new one. This is followed by an overview of the galaxy itself, politically speaking. It's an amusingly ideosyncratic discourse, with an Empire and a Federation (both have advantages and disadvantages) and an Alliance of Independent Systems, as well as many independent worlds... quite a lot to take in but it all makes for a fascinating read. Under the guise of 'Good Citizenship in Space' it also explains what is acceptable behaviour out in the black.

Chapter 5: Personal Equipment follows, with details of all manner of items as well as the currency used. There are enough varieties of weapons to keep the most ardent gun-bunny content, with plenty of illustrations and descriptions as well as game mechanical information... and a selection of 'rare' items which could interest the collector or someone seeking a signature weapon. Armour - considered a bit crass to wear in public without very good reason - is also covered, as are cybernetic modifications, which again can have a negative effect on how people view the modified individual. Moving on to ordinary clothing we discover that in a very judgemental galaxy what you wear influences how others perceive you, via a Social Factor mechanic that quantifies the effect. There's all manner of other items of equipment here too, from communicators to cosmetics!

Next, Chapter 6: Spacecraft provides the lowdown on how cheap faster-than-light travel and the mass-production of ships has transformed the galaxy and the lives of inhabitants, with spaceship ownership akin to today's role of cars. All spacecraft come with weapons, as space piracy is rife. As already noted, it's a basic 'given' of the game that each player-character has his or her own ship, rather than the party sharing one as in most games. Here there are further details of the ships mentioned in the character generation section and of many more besides, and there are also rules for those who'd prefer to design their own ship from the keel up. A lot is based on the way the Elite: Dangerous videogame handles spacecraft, although some of the calculations have been simplified on the grounds that computers do sums a lot better than most role-players do! There is still an impressive amount to wade through if you do want to get into ship customisation, however. For the technically-minded, faster-than-light travel is empowered by a 'frame shift drive' although there's no real indication of what that does, just a few passing mentions of 'witchspace'. In normal space, thrusters are used. And yes, you can purchase a Docking Computer, which my husband, an Elite veteran, claims is essential as it takes all the bother out of docking with a rotating space station!

Chapter 7: Vehicles then does much the same for planetside vehicles as the preceeding chapter did for spacecraft. On normal inhabited and civilised planets, virtually all vehicles are autonomous and 'driving' consists of telling the vehicle where you want to go, however there are plenty places where the necessary infrastructure is not present and you still have to actually take control yourself. You do need, however, to make sure that your spacecraft has a large enough hanger to transport any vehicle you purchase... although no doubt it is possible to rent a vehicle for one-off use planetside. Some vehicles are designed for airless worlds, others operate in atmosphere while submarines and aircraft are also available.

That's it for the player section. We are now in to Gamemaster territory. It opens by explaining how daunting a first attempt at GMing can be... yet it's also rewarding and exciting as well. It discusses attitude and approach before getting down to mechanics like how to set difficulty numbers for task resolution... and how to handle the outcomes, good and bad, once the roll has been made. The discussion then moves on to the types of game you can run, with considerations as to how much preparation you can and want to do, how much you like freeform gaming compared to having a plot ready for the party to interact with and so on. Loads of ideas here. The first suggestion, for those who like very defined adventures, is a military or police campaign, then there's material about intrigue and espionage based ones. Then there's the major interstellar industry of exploring new worlds in search of places to exploit or colonise. There's frequent reference to the Random Generation System (RGS, detailed later!) which reduces the work of prior planning and preparation - it can even be used mid-game to create, for example, a new solar system even as the characters fly into it!

Yet the 'default' setting for a game based on Elite has to be the Lone Wolf one, with each character in his own ship - as laid out in the character creation rules - each working for himself, an independent operator. The constraints of a traditional role-playing group demand that they have to cooperate, but because they choose to do so rather than for employment reasons (be it military, police, exploration company or whatever). While these can be difficult to run, because the characters can go where they want and do what they want, there are certain frameworks that you can set, such as mission-based games. Perhaps they freelance for the aforementioned organisations, taking discrete jobs when the opportunity arises. Military, espionage and exploration missions can work well, as can 'cargo delivery' tasks. Or you can run a sandbox game: give them an area of space and a starting point and let them go where they like. It does take a fair bit of pre-planning, although the crafty will have a series of generic adventures that happen in whatever place the party has decided to go, or ones which are tagged to certain places but have no timescale, they'll occur when the party enters System X, be that the first place they go or the last. The RGS can help, but it's best if there is some kind of overarching plot. The Elite Dangerous galaxy has some 20,000 civilised star systems, but you don't need to design them all at once! Start with a dozen or so, and grow your galaxy over time. A lot of GMing will involve making things up on the spot, if only because the most unpredictable creature in known space is the player-character! Fortunately there's help available here about some perceived common occurences, many combat-related... but there are notes on all manner of things from hiring crew for a ship to making up new Backgrounds for people to use during character creation, and much, much more.

Then a concept of Between Adventures is introduced. This is a time for all the housekeeping, trading, ship- and character-improving tasks you don't want to role-play out but which do serve the progrssion of character and game as a whole. Perhaps the characters earn some money through independent activities in between the times they operate as a group. This can be abstracted - if you find too much detail sneaking in it may be worthy of some playing time, although some folks do like a reasonable level of detail even in their 'off-screen' time. The trick is to abstract the stuff you don't care to occupy role-playing time with, and use it to set up the things you do want to play out. It's quite a neat rationalisation.

But there's more. Chapter 9: Opponents provides advice about creating and using the opposition - individuals and organisations. At the most basic level, they come in three kinds: personal, vehicle and spaceship. These, of course, are the ones that the party have to fight - but the discussion soon moves on to creating encounters and provides pleny of examples at all three scales, grouped as military/mercenary, criminal, police/security and so on. Alien animals are also included for those venturing planetside; and finally there are drones for the technologically-inclined. Chapter 10: Rewards discusses how to reward characters appropriately for what they do, both in terms of cash and in terms of character advancement.

Finally, then, we reach the long-awaited Random Generation System. It's been mentioned enough in preceeding chapters, and now here it is in all its glory: an array of tables to help you generate systems, missions, just about anything you might need. It's equally useful for planning a game or in the middle of one when you need something in a hurry, and just reading the options available can often spawn ideas... and of course you can ignore the result of a roll when a better idea occurs, even if you started out setting something up randomly.

A raft of Appendices to aid in creative processes, then we are done. There's great potential here and it's playable irrespective of whether or not your group enjoys the Elite videogames. The concept of having each player-character running his own ship may be a bit of a challenge: do they travel as a pack, or when they get together do they dock their personal vessels and embark on something big enough for all of them? The entire game system is very open and adaptable, but the GM is going to have to do some groundwork - even if it's furious die-rolling against the RGS - before you are ready to go. Unless your group wants a police proceduaral in space game, the Quickstart that comes bundled with the core rulebook is more to introduce the system than to kick-start your campaign. Have fun, and keep your blaster handy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Elite Dangerous RPG core book
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Elite Dangerous RPG - The Worst Intentions
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/31/2018 13:02:50

The Introduction sets the scene: as a citizen in a vast galactic civilisation of the 34th century, you start with the basics and claw your way up to - if you can get there - 'Elite' status. The galaxy is filled with perils: pirates, ruthless bounty hunters, heartless corporations and terrible creatures, lost cities and undiscovered planets. Cheap faster-than-light travel has opened up space to exploration and trade, humanity exploding across the stars, building new colonies, cities, nations and empires and discovering untold riches to exploit. But not all is well, there is terrible inequality and corruption and many who think the best way to make their living is to steal from somebody else.

In this PDF there is a brief adventure, intended to be played out in a single session, four pre-generated characters and enough of an explanation of the rules to let you play. Character generation, equipment (apart from specific stuff that turns up in the adventure) and the full rules will be found in the Core Rulebook. The intention is that you and your group can give the game a spin and see if it's to your taste before parting with your money.

The next section is How To Play which crams in a brief description of what role-playing in as well as explaining enough of the rules to let you play the adventure. The mechanics are based around the D10: task resolution involves rolling a D10 and adding the Skill Bonus of the appropriate skill, attempting to roll over a pre-determined difficulty number. In this game there are THREE combat systems: one for personal combat, one for vehicles and one for spacecraft. Rather than trying to explain them here, the relevant rules are provided in the body of the adventure as the need arises for them. Of course, this means that whoever is the GM is going to have to explain them, they cannot hand around copies of the rules section of the PDF for everyone to understand in advance! There's also something called Karma, used to power specific capabilities in a jam... each character starts with 12 points which normally are replenished, but for the purposes of this quickstart adventure, once they are gone they are gone.

Next we are introduced to the characters, who are law enforcement officers in the Asellus Primus system. Each has a Viper spaceship, a police interdiction and enforcement vessel, which carries a Surface Reconnaissance Vehicle (SRV) which is pretty much like a moon buggy and is used for scampering around planetside. Each comes with a character sheet and some background, as well as details of their Viper and SRV. (Personally I find it a bit odd that, if they are a team, they each have their own spaceship, but given that the Introduction tells us that spacecraft ownership is a bit like car ownership today it makes a little more sense.)

The scenario itself opens with some background on a narcotics gane with a novel history, then play begins with the party being called in to see their captain in the precinct house, er, orbital platform. From there they are sent to investigate an apparent derelict space freighter... and the fun begins. Neatly, there's plenty of room for interaction and investigation as well as ample opportunity to get into a brawl or two. There's also an interesting sidebar: in this game there is no artificial gravity (well, not unless it's spin-generated).

Descriptions are good, conveying a good sense of surroundings and situation, and a good attempt has been made to anticipate likely player questions and actions. There's a space battle against pirates to be fought, and it's here that the relevant game mechanics are gone through. More fun and games ensue when they reach the derelict - getting aboard for a start, and then hand-to-hand combat is likely too. Again the necessary mechanics are detailed here. Clues aboard lead the party to a nearby planet and, although it is probably contrived to give an opportunity to demonstrate the vehicle combat rules everything comes together to produce an exciting police prodedural in space.

The adventure is intriguing enough in its own right, and provides a good introduction to a lot of the rules of the game (including all three combat systems), so by the time you have finished it you ought to have a good idea of whether or not this game is for you. Personally I think the details of the combat systems would be better in the rules section than embedded in the adventure, if only because the rules section would then serve as a good ready-reference for players of both this adventure and the full game. Otherwise, a good adventure and an interesting setting make me look forwards to the full game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Elite Dangerous RPG - The Worst Intentions
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Slayer's Guide to Troglodytes
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/29/2018 13:20:26

How much do you know about troglodytes? Most people stop after "They live underground"... but if you read this you'll soon know a lot more about what the Introduction describes as 'a thoroughly foul reptilian race' (not a promising start) who dwell in the underdark, and occasionally in the rocky peaks and passes of remote mountains, and are remarkably good at conducting ambushes with javelins. Are they really that bad, or do they have some redeeming features?

We start with Troglodyte Physiology, although there's a lot more here than that. OK, so they are five-foot tall upright bipedal critters with scent glands that turn anyone's stomach, and rarely seen unless they are raiding. Unlike many bipedal creatures with tails, they don't use them as a counterbalance but drag them along the floor behind them, leaving a distinctive track that doesn't take a ranger to follow. Never mind the scent glands, they aren't too good at personal hygiene either. Dentition suggests that they are carnivore, possibly carrion-eaters, but nobody knows for sure. Detailed descriptions of their appearance, mating habits, chameleon-like skins, lifecycle and more follow. They are far weirder than you might have thought!

Next, Habitat is discussed. They invariably live underground, some deeper than others. They are good swimmers although by no means amphibious, and many of their lairs are partially submerged. They also need access to a good food supply - they have virtually insatiable appetities. Moving on from this, Troglodyte Society looks at their organisation, based around tribes of about thirty to an hundred in number, including hatchlings and juveniles. They are very territorial, despite their lairs being nothing to be proud of: dirty and messy are polite descriptions of their normal state. They are always hungry - a well-fed male goes into a mating frenzy that soon means that he's after something to eat again. The more tribe members get to eat, the larger and more intelligent they become - and the more likely to challenge their leaders. There's a distict hierarchy based on age, size and intelligence with only the most advanced (read 'well-nourished') tribes boasting crafters or clerics amongst their number. However smart they are, they all are vile and cruel, even the most stupid youngster has an appetite for torment and cruelty which they indulge whenever they get the chance. After all, even their own leaders regard them as expendable. Those of them bright enough to engage in worship follow an evil deity, the Lizard Toad, about whom the less said the better.

Methods of Warfare are explored next. They're very good at ambushes and skilled with javelins. As aggressive carnivores, it's often unclear whether they distinguish between a battle and a hunt. The vanquished are likely to be eaten either way. They are remarkably organised in battle, moving as one to the attack, although individually they fight almost in a frenzy. They are most ferocious of all when defending their lairs.

Next is a look at Role-playing with Troglodytes. It's all about bringing out the otherness of this race, an alien evilness that just doesn't relate to anything else your party will have ever encountered. It's quite difficult to interact with them in any manner that doesn't involve the point of a sword or a battery of offensive spells. Only the leaders are smart enough to even be able to hold a conversation, and they generally do not wish to do so - rank and file troglodytes are just too dense to have any meaningful communication at all. This section explains how to create troglodyte communities and involve them in the world above their heads, and it is followed by a selection of Scenario Hooks and Ideas to bring them into your game. There are also details on creating crafter troglodyes, but it is highly unlikely that they will ever be more than NPCs.

Finally, The Shrine of St Darius presents a fully-developed troglodyte lair - the troglodytes having accessed a monastery through caverns beneath it that link into the crypt... to the downfall of those religious living there. Although there's plenty of detail about who the troglodytes are and their activities, no plans are provided. It's suggested you site this in a remote mountain valley in your game world and, unless the party is sent there to find out what happened to the clerics living there until recently, use the various scenario hooks provided earlier to slowly bring it into prominence.

You will still feel that troglodytes are disgusting and evil after reading this, but you will know much more about how they come to be so vile, and will be in a position to use them as potent opposition especially to low-level parties.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slayer's Guide to Troglodytes
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Slayer's Guide to Centaurs
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/26/2018 12:21:49

Fascinating and unusual creatures, centaurs - yet although they are well-known members of popular mythology they are rarely encountered when adventuring. Some of that is down to them being reclusive and shy, preoccupied with their own concerns and not really interested in odd bipedal creatures like the average adventurer... but some may be due to DMs and adventure-writers not knowing much about them either, so rarely making use of them. Perhaps this book will make a difference...

Here there is a wealth of information about centaurs from their anatomy and physiology to the way in which they order their societies, indeed everything you might want to know to understand them well enough to present them to good effect in your game as a living, breathing society with which your party can interact. There are ideas for plots involving them, notes on actually playing one - as the DM or as a player choosing one as their player-character - and even a complete centaur settlement to visit... if you can find it and if they'll let you in!

The Centaur Physiology section covers a lot more than just their physiology, although it does describe them physically. They are powerful creatures and always appear in good health, apparently they are very resistant to disease. Some popular misconceptions are debunked. For a start although they are usually described as being part-human part-horse, the humanoid bit is more elf-like as far as the facial features go, although the torso is well-muscled. While they are masters of the woodlands in which they like to dwell, tales of them twisting minds with their magic is far-fetched. They do boast a few druids but most are not, to be honest, smart enough for rigorous study of the arcane.

Their appearance is noted in detail, especially hair colour and distribution. This is vital as they are not given to clothes, although they do like belts and straps to hang equipent or bags upon. Head hair is worn long and loose, although strands may be braided or beaded. They are omnivores, and drink water or goat milk unless they can get hold of elven wine. The discussion moves on to their psychology, which is of particular use if you want to make them come alive as a distinctive race in your game. One thing of note is their almost magical ability to sense any change in their woodland environment, something that only works when they are at home - otherwise their eyesight and hearing is no better than any other humanoid. Normally very peaceful, any attack on an individual centaur or their community is met with vicious retaliation that can be quite shocking to anyone accustomed to their gentle shy manner... including themselves. They detest having to fight, but react instantly when it becomes necessary. The only other time they are not quiet and peaceful is when male centaurs get hold of wine - boy, do they know how to party! Rowdy antics and bawdy songs are the order of the day. Female centaurs won't generally touch a drop.

The next section, Habitat, explains how they prefer deep temperate forests. Given their choice, they'd never emerge. Their villages - they never build settlements larger - exist in harmony with their environment. This is followed by a section on Centaur Society which details their villages at length before discussing that strange beast, the male centaur. They tend to be in a minority, yet are most likely to be encountered by outsiders. As young males get older they get boisterous until it is time for their rite of passage to adulthood, generally around the age of twelve, thereafter they settle down into their roles of a hunter and a protector, defending and supplying their community with food. Females are wiser and generally provide leadership and administration for the community in what is a matriarchal society. Centaur druids usually come from their number, and the leader of a community is usually the most powerful female druid. While there may well be other druids in a community, the others act subordinate to their leader.

After hearing that they pair for life and a little about their simple ceremonies, we move on to the next section Methods of Warfare. While males enjoy physical activity, especially hunting, they do not care to brawl although when moved to do so they are pretty effective. They certainly are not cowards. Preferred weapons are clubs and longbows, both of which are crafted to a very high standard. A 'hit and fade' style of combat is common, thundering in at a charge out of an ambush then wheeling away... to set up another ambush if necessary. In more pitched battles they charge with war lances and shields, a quite terrifying sight.

Next up is a section on Role-playing with Centaurs that is mostly aimed at DMs wishing to use the information provided to make any centaurs the party encounters come to life. As they tend to be good in alignment and interested in things like preserving the environment, there are plenty of opportunities for good-aligned parties to work with centaurs towards a common aim... assuming they can get such skittish creatures to talk! A selection of Scenario Hooks and Ideas are provided to help you set the scene and get the party embroiled with centaurs, even perhaps attending a wedding or helping a stripling male with his rite of passage quest. Or perhaps a sage studying centaurs wants a specimen... that could get messy!

Notes are also provided for those who'd like to play a centaur as their character. It can be quite a challenge to fit a single centaur into a party both mechanically - the racial advantages can unbalance a party - and socially. Can you imagine a centaur even coping with a dungeon delve, let alone enjoying it? There are some ideas here that might make things a bit easier, however.

Finally there's an introduction to the centaur village of Lanhyd. History, everyday life, layout and inhabitants are covered, as well as some ideas for the roles Lanhyd could play in your campaign. Overall it's an excellent introduction to an oft-neglected race. The one thing I'd have liked to have seen is a bit more on their anatomy. How do they actually work? A passing remark in the flavour text suggests they have two hearts, presumably one in the humanoid torso and one where a normal horse would have it; and this is borne out by a sketch of a skeleton that appears to show two rib cages... but how does their respiration and circulation function? Oh dear, you can see they're becoming real in my mind!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slayer's Guide to Centaurs
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Slayer's Guide to Hobgoblins
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/25/2018 14:02:50

This, the very first book Mongoose Publishing ever produced, set the high standard that they've continued to this day. In it, there's a detailed analysis of all things hobgoblin. Physiology, society, role-playing notes, material on using them as player characters, ideas for adventure and an entire hobgoblin settlement that will no doubt get raided as soon as your party find out where it is!

The Introduction sets out the stall for the entire Slayer's Guide series as well as for this one about hobgoblins. All the goblinoid races have proven popular cannon fodder, they're fairly weak individually but in a horde can provide good cpposition particularly for lower-level parties. However, armed with the deep background on hobgoblins to be found here, they can become formidable foes. Hobgoblins are, after all, quite large as goblinoids go, and they are a martial race who have learned from more 'civilised' races how to organise their fighting forces to good effect.

The Hobgoblin Physiology looks at more than that. There's a description with notes on not just their appearance but physical and sensory capabilities as well. They have excellent hearing, it appears, and can pick out single sounds even in the middle of a brawl. There's some scholarly discussion about their possible origins (although no definite conclusion) and we also find out what they eat, and learn about their life cycle. Female hobgoblins look very similar to male ones (particularly when in armour), but when they are pregnant they stay out of sight. Apparently the race is not given to long-term relationships, so after birth they are soon active again. Youngsters can hold their own by the age of six and are regarded as adult by eleven or twelve. If they don't fall in battle, a hobgoblin can live to sixty, but this is rare.

Their psychology is discussed before moving on to the sort of habitats they prefer - temperate zones with forests and low mountains, although they can be found almost anywhere if they have a good reason to go there. They prefer to settle rather than being nomadic, although they are prepared to move if necessary, and there's a rather interesting discussion about the procedures followed during a migration. Naturally, lairs are designed with an eye to defence. There's copious material on Hobgoblin Society, which is tribal in nature although sometimes a mercenary warband will be encountered. They are led by a tribal chieftain who is the best warrior, and who probably attained his position through combat. The hierarchy is quite structured and tribal customs are followed diligently. When a tribal chieftain dies there's a quite complex ritual to choose a successor which does, of course, involve fighting. A similar formal protocol is followed if another hobgoblin wishes to challenge the chieftain, something that is not done lightly. Most of the tribe's wealth is generated by raiding, and the proceeds are divided up amongst the tribe according to a defined procedure. When not raiding, they prefer to oversee the labours of subjugated lesser races than actually do the work themselves. The tribe at war (with plenty on their strategy and tactics) and mercenary warbands are also discussed. As for religion, most hobgoblins are not very interested!

Next Role-playing with Hobgoblins helps the DM get under the skin of his hobgoblin hordes. For a start, they are not stupid, they are as bright as the average human. As disciplined and efficient warriors they should pose quite a challenge, particularly for parties who are somewhere upon which a tribe has planned and mounted a raid, or if a visit is paid to a tribal lair with hostile intent. There are even some sample hobgoblin names, should conversation rather than swordplay break out.

A section of Scenario Hooks and Ideas provides a wealth of plot ideas for using hobgoblins in your game, and then there's the interesting twist of how to create and play a hobgoblin player character. As a single hobgoblin might have trouble gaining acceptance in a party - and might struggle to fit in even if they'll have him - a hobgoblin-based campaign with the party drawn from a single tribe might be a more viable option. It's likely to be a military-themed campaign, though, perhaps the adventures of a mercenary band.

Finally, an entire lair - the Graven Hill Border Fort - is presented, complete with history (it was captured by its current occupants rather than built by them) and a plan as well as an illustration. It's a bit of an outline, if you like room-by-room descriptions you'll have to put in some preparatory work, but the general layout and defences are provided well.

If there's anything you ever wanted to know about hobgoblins, chances are that you'll find it here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slayer's Guide to Hobgoblins
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Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/24/2018 09:06:56

This resource provides the busy DM with loads of loot to tempt their party... or, for that matter, to stock residences for the discerning, provide items for an auction house or whatever use you might find for a selection of 'art objects' or gems.

It's divided into two sections. First up are the art objects - these can be any decorative item from paintings to statues, vases, trinkets, tapestries. Most are not so easy to transport due to size or fragility or just plain awkwardness, so if you do use them as loot the party needs to decide what is actually worth the effort of pilfering! They are presented in a series of lists of twenty items at a time (handy if you want to roll at random), with each list containing items of similar value ranging from 25 gp to a massive 7,500 gp apiece. They all sound beautiful - maybe one of the party fancies a pair of purple samite curtains woven with flowers in golden thread for his home, or maybe a painting in a gilded frame depicting a giant's castle in the clouds under attack from a flight of dragons is going to look nice on the wall. Or maybe he'll be hawking a soapstone bust of the dwarven king, Odvin Hammerschlag around a nearby town to raise cash for supplies for the next adventure (or a rowdy night in the best tavern in town!).

Then attention turns to gemstones. Again they are grouped by value starting with 'ornamental' stones at 10 gp a throw and ramping up to 'jewels' worth 5,000 gp apiece. Naturally cut and condition can affect the price. Each is both named and described, so you can give the description and let them wonder just what it is (an Intelligence check DC is recommended if you want them to figure out what they have found and what it's worth).

Finally, there's mention of the reputed magical properties of gemstones - which might inform, for example, which ones you use when crafting magic items - and on special appearances (fancy cuts and the like) or even complications that might affect whoever possesses the stone. For remember, all this stuff may not be mere loot, it may also be part of the plot!

A useful collection of items to scatter throughout your campaign world. Loot, plot items or just make the dungeon look prettier!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Fantastic! Thank you for the review, Megan! I'm glad you enjoyed the book!
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #4 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2018 09:58:08

In this fourth installment of the Treasure Hoards line, an array of twenty-five substantial hoards belonging to the wealthy (well, they ARE challenge level 17-20 after all!) are presented ready for you to locate for the party to pilfer. The format is as before, with a list of hoards which you can roll upon if you are happy with a random one, or you can read through each one if you'd prefer to select. This time, none of them is devoid of magic, unsurprising at this high level.

Within each hoard, first you hear about the cash - just gold and platinum pieces at this level and even so the quantities are such as to require some heavy lifting. Next comes a selection of items: gemstones, clothing, jewellry and miscellaneous items. Each has a note concerning value, generally with an Intelligence DC check to work out what they are worth and sometimes to figure out what the item is if it's not readily apparent by just looking at it. (Although I don't think it really takes a DC 20 Intelligence check to know that a promissory note to the value of 10,000 gp is worth... 10,000 gp!) Finally, magic items are listed with a brief description, but no indication of value, or for that matter details of what it does... you'll have to look those up elsewhere.

There's some nice stuff here, and several items could lead to adventures of their own. Why are they here? How did whoever you've given them to get hold of them? What will be the effect of the party hawking around that particular and distinctive item that they've just looted?

One hoard contains five fully-caparisoned heavy war horses! Make sure you use that one somewhere that there's accommodation for the horses. Another includes a complete sailing ship... Moving on to the magic, most is in the shape of potions, scrolls and wands with a few magical weapons and pieces of armour thrown in for good measure.

When you need some loot in a hurry, or some inspiration when stocking the next dungeon, this is a handy resource. The only thing I'd add is a total value for each hoard - there's always a party member who wants to know that!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #4 (5e)
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Thank you for the review, Megan. I'm glad you found this instalment useful!
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #3 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2018 06:50:24

This is the third in a series of 'ready-made' treasure hoards that you can use when planning adventures or even right in the middle of a game if your party decides to go on a looting spree and want to know what they've found. There are twenty-five hoards, designed to suit challenge levels 11-16. Four have no magic items, so you can pick them if for some reason the presence of magical things is not appropriate.

Each hoard is presented in a standard format. First up, the coinage, at this level it's all gold and platinum pieces - even in one hoard that consists of a collection of well-stuffed piggy banks. Next are the ordinary items which include gemstones, books, clothing and other items of note. For each, there's an Intelligence DC check to figure out the value (and sometimes to reveal a bit more about what it is, if that's not clear just by looking at it). Finally, magical items are listed. Scrolls and potions predominate, but weapons, armour and a few other items are included.

The one flaw is that you don't get a total value for each hoard. You'd have to add up the cash and the values given for the mundane items... and then go look up the magical ones in the core rulebooks to get their worth! Still, you are going to have to look them up for the precise properties anyway, and at least each one gets a bit of atmospheric description, like the colour of each potion or notes on the condition or appearance of the item.

A neat resource to help you come up with interesting collections of loot rather than merely handing out coins when the party goes robbing their foes.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #3 (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Megan. Glad you liked this book!
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #2 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2018 09:46:02

This second collection of pre-made treasure hoards is designed for use at challenge levels 5-10. The idea is simple: whenever you need to provide some loot for the party, pick (or roll for) one of these hoards and have a neat list of items for them to pilfer - coins, gems, magic items and more. There are twenty-five different lists to pick from, so whether they have found a chest during a dungeon delve or are robbing a house, you will not be at a loss when they ask what they've found. A few of the hoards are built specifically without magic items, so if there's a situation where they'd be inappropriate, you can choose one of them.

Each hoard starts with a list of the coins found in it, then there is a selection of items, with magical ones listed last. Each item gets a brief description, and there's a note as to its value along with the DC of the Intelligence check to work it out (and maybe even figure out what the item is, if it isn't obvious).

Items include gemstones, a scrollcase filled with gourmet recipes, jewellry and even a corset! Apparently that's quite valuable... Magic items are quite varied, quite a few scrolls and potions, but there are weapons, wands and armour as well.

This could come in handy when planning adventures, or when the party decides to go somewhere unexpected and suddenly demand to know what they've found. Some of the items might even spawn plotlines of their own... although I'm not sure I want to know who left a corset behind!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #2 (5e)
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Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #1 (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2018 10:02:19

This is a remarkably useful resource for planning dungeons or indeed any location or event when the party is likely to have an opportunity to loot the place. It consists of twenty-five separate lists, each comprising a complete hoard which may be found in one big heap or scattered throughout the area. To facilitate quick picking, they are listed on a table you can roll percentage dice against - or of course you can read through them and select the one that seems most appropriate for your needs. Two are tagged specifically as containing no magic items.

The individual lists follow. Each begins with the cash and then details items of value. In most cases some of them are magical. Many of the items fall into the category of portable works of art, there are also gemstones and complete pieces of jewellry. Each item's worth is listed, along with a suggested Intelligence DC check for being able to appraise its value (this also sometimes enables one to recognise what the item is as well).

Some of the items are more remarkable for their interest value: a child's alphabet book for example. One hoard belongs to someone who likes cooking - it includes a barrel of spices, a cooking pot and an hourglass. There are items of clothing, rings and more. The magical items tend to things like potions and scrolls. Everything seems pretty portable, facilitating easy pilfering.

This is just a neat way of ensuring that whenever the party stops to loot, there's something interesting for them to find. The way it's set up, you could refer to it mid-game if they want to search and steal in an unexpected place, too.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Treasure Hoards #1 (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Megan! It is much appreciated. I'll treasure it! (Did you see what I did there?)
AM2: For Faerie, Queen, and Country Universe Book
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2018 10:49:53

This, the first 'universe book' for Amazing Engine should be used in conjunction with the System Guide, the combination making a complete game.

It opens by describing the alternate history of the setting, a Victorian England where the fey do not only exist, they have seats in Parliament and are invited to all the best parties. This all dates back to Roman times if not before, but at that time the dark powers of the Unseelie Court were defeated in a great battle, and from then faerie blood has mixed with that of human beings throughout the history of Britain. Needless to say, the Unseelies haven't gone away, they've just gone underground, and still cause problems upon occasion although due to their appearance they have to recruit and operate through human allies and agents.

History has taken a largely similar track to the real world, although a descendant of Napoleon rules in France, a foil to Bismarck in Germany, and the big surprise, America is still a colony of Britain having been defeated in 1812 after their brief flirtation with independence. Fey live openly in Ireland, having an enclave named Tir Nan Og that operates as a separate country - or is that countries, as each sidh or barrow has its own British Embassy! Many challenges face the British Empire at this time. This opening portion, The State of England, is presented as a report suggesting the provision of 'special agents' to troubleshoot any problems... and this is where the player characters come in.

The role of both player characters and the GM are briefly touched upon and then the matter of creating player characters based on the existing player core (as detailed in the System Guide) is dealt with in detail. The first thing you have to determine is whether or not your character has fey blood - there's quite a high chance of having at least some, although full-blooded fey are quite rare. There are usually some visible hints of fey blood such as a greenish tint to the skin, pointy ears - or maybe hooves instead of feet. The more fey blood the character has, the more noticeable it is. Apart from full-blooded faeries, you next need to choose nationality. This determines where you come from and the language(s) you speak - apparently everyone from Wales speaks Welsh, which certainly wasn't the case in real Victorian England (in fact, the Welsh language was discouraged!). Next up in social class and occupation. These choices lead to background and to the skills available to that character. Naturally there is plenty of information to aid an informed decision. Much is (mostly) historically accurate, but magic exists and so sorcerer is an established profession.

Setting-specific notes on awards and experience follow material on wealth and resources. Many genuine Britsh awards and medals are listed here. Next up is magic. In this setting, magic works rather like a recipe, with a magic formular being constructed like a sentence including the action, the target, special conditions and so on. Each part has a range of options, this results in every spell cast having the potential, indeed likelihood, of being unique. The best spells are researched in advance, but they can be created on the fly although the chances of success are lower. A skill check is necessary every time a spell is cast, and it takes a physical toll on the caster. There are guidelines and examples aplenty, but spell-casting is something that the player will have to work at, there's no handy spell list to pick a spell from and just cast it as needed.

The next section, By All That is Holy, deals with religion. Faeries are pagan, it's somehow so deeply embedded in their being that they cannot embrace any other religion. There are various Christian denominations - based on real ones although with different names - and it is in their clergy that divine power is concentrated, although they do not cast spells as such but have certain powers that they can wield. No other faiths are mentioned, not is there any detail on what being a pagan entails.

This is followed by a section on Combat. Here we read about violence and the law, along with a note that combat is by and large deadly and ought to be avoided whenever possible. Much fighting is little more than brawling - mostly fistfights, perhaps a knife. Gun crime is rare, although a prudent fellow may take a pistol when entering a situation about which he is nervous. There's plenty of detail on both firearms and melee weapons.

We then turn to details about the fey, presented as Peak-Martin's Index of Faerie, a series of lectures to the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1877. It makes for fascinating reading, categorising the different varieties of fey folk and classifying them... and providing game statistics so that they can be used as opposition! For those who want to know more about the geography of the setting, there is also Crompton's Illustrated Tourbook of Great Britain, a quite comprehensive gazetteer. Back to everyday life, The Glorious British Life provides ample detail on what it's like to live in this setting: time, money, incomes, city and country life... and even how much you ought to be paying your servants! Modern conveniences, or the lack thereof, are discussed, along with price lists for the things characters may require and details of transportation - rail between towns, carriages or horseback within them, or out in the country once you have alighted from your train. The current state of knowledge and the policical scene are also covered, along with foreign relations and law enforcement. Much of this is historically-accurate, but with a distinctive spin on things to reflect the differences between this setting and historical Victorian England.

There's a rather entertaining guide on How to Speak Proper, which seems to be mainly aimed at Americans. This covers not just "the Queen's English" but Scottish and Irish dialects and a somewhat bizarre attempt at Welsh (which, it must be said, is my native tongue), claiming that Welsh words are unpronouncable... Best to move on to the underworld slang section. There's also a note about the role of women in Victorian times: strange to modern attitudes but historically accurate. Likewise, provision for the poor and disabled - mostly woefully inadequate by modern standards - charities and leisure pursuits are also covered. Various leading Victorians are introduced, perhaps the party will bump into them, or they will at least know about them.

The setting, then, is well presented with as much historical accuracy as the introduction of the faerie folk permits. Character creation is a bit clunky, but once you have built the characters and formed the party there's an impressive amount of background to set the scene in which they will operate. The GM, however, is left to come up with adventures. Some of the background might suggest ideas, but nothing is provided in the way of suggestion or plot idea, although the setting is good.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
AM2: For Faerie, Queen, and Country Universe Book
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AM1: Amazing Engine System Guide
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/26/2018 09:21:23

The book opens by trying to explain just what it is. Whilst it wasn't the first attempt at a generic ruleset, most people were publishing discrete games that included both rules and setting (or at least, genre) or they'd gone whole hog at the generic concept, put out some rules and left you to it. Amazing Engine was designed from the outset as a two-part system. You'd have the core rules (this book) and then you'd add the 'universe book' of your choice to make a complete game. These core rules contain all that's needed to create player characters and have those characters use skills, fight, and move. Hence, any character can be played in any universe, and experience from one can be applied to another.

The concepts of a 'player core' and a 'player character' are introduced to facilitate this. The idea is that this System Guide is used to create the player core, which is the framework from which player characters are built. The same player core is used from universe to universe. The player character is the actual collection of numbers, skills, and other abilities used to roleplay in a given universe. A player will have a different character in each universe, but these characters may all be generated from the same player core. It doesn't however mean that they're all the same character, just they share the core framework. That's fine if you like playing, say, sneaky and intelligent characters whatever sort of game you are playing... but may be a bit problematic if you prefer to fine-tune even the underlying nature of your character to the setting in which he will exist.

In the player core, you have to decide how much emphasis you want to put on four core aspects: physique, intellect, spirit and influence. Just how these are expressed will depend on the universe in which you will be playing. This is done by having two attributes associated with each aspect, and it is these, not the aspects, that are used to describe the player character - and can be quite different for each universe. You start by ranking the core aspects from 1 (the strongest) to 4 (the weakest). Then you begin in on your first player character by picking any four of the attributes - it doesn't matter which aspect they relate to at this point - and roll 4d10 and add them together to get a number. For the other four, roll 3d10. Then you add together the numbers for the two attributes belonging to each aspect - this becomes part of the player core and is used to create each subsequent player character (who are made slightly differently from the first one). It sounds a bit complex but the examples given and just getting some dice and playing around make it all come clear. As is often the case, rules really ought to be written by someone other than the person who created them - they understand how they work already and don't always explain them as well as someone who has had to learn them can!

Many other choices have to wait until you have decided on a universe in which to play. You cannot be an elf in a universe that doesn't have them, after all, nor can you wield magic unless you are in one where it works. Although your skills, too, will have to wait until you know about the universe you'll be playing in, the way tasks are resolved when you use them is standard, and is covered here - along with general notes on how they are chosen and so on. It's a slightly odd feeling trying to understand this in abstract, but again the examples are clear.

The next part of the book looks at experience: how to gain it (or award it if you're the GM) and what to do with it. This is when things get interesting - your player character's experience, gained in one universe, may be applied to your player core (and so benefit every player character you have across all the universes you play in... even though they are different people) or you may apply it to the player character who earned it. You also have the option of using them immediately to boost some ability temporarily as the situation dictates.

Other topics such as movement and the all-important combat are also covered here, again in fairly general terms. Whatever you are fighting with, the basics of how to resolve a hit are going to be the same, and the general overview of how combat works is constant. Finally, there's a note on magic, psionics and special powers. Mostly, it says that they are left to the universe books, which will determine what is possible there.

This isn't a game for shifting genres with the same character, yet it allows for some measure of continuity. That's particularly nice if you don't like starting from scratch every time you begin a new game in a different setting, or if you lose a character during play. More than that, it's a bit difficult to say - this is very much half of a game, I'll need to read a universe book to see how the whole hangs together... but that's a matter for another lunchtime! For now, this shows some promise.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
AM1: Amazing Engine System Guide
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Digging Up Trouble
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2018 08:30:43

A neat little adventure that can be slotted in to your campaign when the party are going about their own business (if their own plans don't take them to the right place, an errand for them is provided), with the opening being an encounter with a dog beset by bandits. Hopefully, like the Good Dogs they are, the party will come to his rescue.

The background provides an explanation about who that dog is and how he came to be there, and tells of who is after him and why. The main NPCs are introduced in detail, and then we're off with the various encounters and scenes explained clearly and vividly, everything laid out so that a novice GM should have little difficulty in running the adventure. Likely player choices - including those that might derail the adventure - are anticipated and dealt with in a way that brings things back on track without it appearing forced. There are at least two good brawls, probably three plus the excitement of finding buried treasure... and a few suggestions for further adventures.

Oh, and there are pirates involved! You never go far wrong with pirates...

Overall it is a nice straightforward adventure for an inexperienced party to get their teeth into. Any Good Dog ought to enjoy it!



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Digging Up Trouble
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