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Silver Age Sentinels Standard Tri-Stat Edition
by Gary G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2019 22:54:21

As a user of the Tri-Stat system in the past, the rules and mechanics for Silver Age Sentinels are simple, fun, and appropriate to use. Highly recommend this book for anyone that wants a superhero themed game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Silver Age Sentinels Standard Tri-Stat Edition
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Hidden Lore
by Terry R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2019 21:01:25

Hidden Lore was the collection of overflow material from the 2e core rulebook that was cut to achieve what was purportedly a Procrustian page count. The book says so up front and the contents consist of rotes, clarifications, some alternative rules, and a sample chantry that was bundled with the 2e Storyteller Screen. Part of releasing a book that consists of content that didn't make the cut into the core book is the wager that the worst material in a core rulebook is still better than the minimum standard that some set of fans have and for me the book did not make that cut. This may reflect years of storyteller experience as well as the embarrassment of riches that is having an additional 60 books or so that were published after this one.

Useful content: The section on alternative play styles provided options for 1 on 1, bluebooking, troupe play, and troupe storytelling which were somewhat innovative at the time but in the intervening 25 years other games have run with these options and overall come up with smoother systems. The combat simplifications are also acceptable for high energy chronicles where players need to wreck a wall of mooks and tries to replace the tradition four roles per character per attack to one. Again, other systems innovate on this better but at the time it was notable. The descriptions of the Traditions rotes was flavorful but the sphere requirements may result in you knowing less about Mage at the conclusion. Also the systems presented are sometimes novel and other times ridiculous. The Marauder and Nephandi rotes are somewhat less cringe-worthy but still present problems in terms of what spheres are called for and what systems are used to implement an effect but they are flavorful. *The sphere summaries are intended as hand outs and restate what's in the core rulebook. If you're getting this digitally, copy-paste from a core book will do just as well without having to try to find a way to photo copy the sheets.

Useless content: How to make interesting characters was almost painful to read as it was a mix of "you know, just do it" and "learn to portray attributes you lack" which was a bit uncomfortable. The rotes present questionable systems with Prime 2 being required almost randomly and other spheres being involved for reasons I don't quite understand. The Chantry presents a magick-dense Seattle that directly contradicts the later statements about how rare mages are unless one posits that Seattle is an absolute hot bed of mage activity for unrevealed reasons. The door that leads from the earthly to umbral aspect of the Chantry has a roughly 7 percent chance of generating paradox which seems remarkably dangerous for something so regularly used. The sections on the distilled view of each faction in the Ascension War should have been woven into the core book. Anyone who gets this will likely know it and anyone who grabs the core rulebook should have access to it. The notable characters section is largely a collection of already released characters and no stat blocks which makes it almost useful.

Don't get this book if you have a fair number of other mage books and especially not if you don't have a firm grasp of the sphere system as the rotes may lead you astray.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hidden Lore
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Mage: The Ascension (Second Edition)
by Terry R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2019 20:41:33

This book was discussed by the Mage the Podcast in the episode Tomes of Magick: Second Edition Core Rulebook I have a certain fondness for the Second Edition Mage Core Rulebook as it was the first Mage: The Ascension book I ever bought. I picked it up during a Star Wars tournament, drawn to its purple cover and read almost all if that evening and then several times thereafter. With now something like 23 years of reflection, I realize the flaws of the book as well as what it improved on after finally reading the Mage First Edition Core Rulebook.

Second edition was the fire core book that Brucato oversaw as line developer and the hand-off between Wieck and Brucato is exemplified in terms of mechanics, theme, and setting changes. The most important changes are probably theme-wise. The game underwent a fundamental shift from a cosmic game where the players were intended to reach high level of powers to fight for the Sleepers in an epic war that likely couldn’t be won as avatars of particular forces of creation. Essence was very important, rotes, had high dot requirements, the Traditions were each somewhat monolithic and encompassed most of the Awakened not already part of another faction, and magick was very flexible. Second edition cemented some changes that had previously been introduced and on the whole had a more mechanical magick system with a clearer divide between coincidental and vulgar where essence was a vague personality test, and the personal journey was much more important. The most revealing line in 1e in my opinion is “Mage is about the clash of incompatible utopias”. I don’t think anyone in 2e would consider any faction, however flawed, as presenting a true utopia. Second Edition hints and explosion of magickal practices from a small set to something where there are almost as many paradigms as there are players and where the Traditions themselves start divorcing themselves from specific cultural groups (all Akashics aren’t Asian) and leave that a bit more for the Crafts.

I somewhat miss the epic scale of 1e where so little was defined. In arguments, I hear that 1e was more open and this is kind of true of necessity. Second Edition gave us more than two score books while 1e was largely defined by a few early tomes before what would be proto-Second Edition began to be established, by my reckoning, sometime around the NWO Convention book on the Technocrat side and Sons of Ether on the Traditions side. Essence was destiny and the pre-Gehenna vibe of Vampire was strong. Second Edition toned that down and also shattered the unity of mage belief. Looking through the “definitions” section of the two core rulebooks is probably the fastest way to see how they diverged as many terms were re-defined.

There’s nothing in the 2e core rulebook that isn’t somewhere else so it mostly sits as a milestone of the game. One could argue that M20 took the setting from 2e and the rules (except Paradox) from Revised so there’s a genetic interest in the text. Realize though that the 2e book lacked much of the material that was in the Book of Shadows and that there was no 2e players’ guide.

Changes:

Mechanics

  • Difficulties change for vulgar from rolling sphere to rolling arete in all cases
  • Focuses opened up and focus-specific time requirements dropped 
  • Orphans progress at same rate as other mages but require focuses
  • Bonuses for being near a node no longer swing as wildly, capped at -3 instead of -5
  • Can now re-try failed effects without blowing willpower
  • Damage chart unified and one-off modifiers listed for Spheres (Mind does bashing, etc)
  • Coincidental now process
  • Much of the content of Book of Shadows is baked in
  • More difficulty modifiers introduced

Mood

  • Game less cosmic interaction of avatars for the metaphysical trinity to something more personal
  • Mage less might-makes-right with mages delivering sleepers from Technocratic control. Technocrats no longer fighting for strict rigid equality.
  • 1e was "conflict between utopias". Utopia not visible in 2e.

Setting

  • Pure Ones no longer believed in by all mages
  • Void Engineers no longer viewed as infected by the fae and no longer wish to destroy space
  • Continuum dropped as a term
  • Marauders no longer universally fighting for a return of the Mythic Age and in 2e are generally less sane
  • Fight for Nodes and Quintessence less front and center
  • Penumbra established, no longer just Near Umbra
  • Nephandi no longer strictly star-squid cultists
  • Oracles no longer those near Ascension but those who've stepped back from it
  • No longer one Chantry per Tradition
  • All nine spheres now used in metaphysical cycle rather than just six
  • Essence de-emphasized
  • Rotes change 

Metaplot

  • Syndicate un-disappeared
  • Amanda revealed to share avatar with former Sennex apprentice who went barabbus
  • Fors Collegis Mercuris evacuated to Cerberus after Nephandi and Technocratic attack


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Ascension (Second Edition)
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Ghost family: Penangglan
by Damian M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/18/2019 05:57:55

An excellent and concise guide to SE Asian Wan Kuei. I am looking forward to the other guides.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ghost family: Penangglan
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BITE ME: How to Write Vampire
by Gabriel P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/17/2019 13:24:12

This is by far one of the best products for Vampire. Easily. Doesn't matter if you're a writer or a Storyteller looking for advice, you'll find help for each and every topic of vampire here for a VERY fair price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BITE ME: How to Write Vampire
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100 Silver Fang Kinfolk
by Darryl J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2019 23:03:46

Really love this series. 100 unique character one paragraph writeups with interesting and different hooks for all of them. Most all of these would work great as Garou, just add some stats and they're ready.

Happily buying all of this series. Every single one worth the cost. None of the writeups have stats but most NPCs never need them.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Silver Fang Kinfolk
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100 Fianna Kinfolk
by Darryl J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2019 23:03:26

Really love this series. 100 unique character one paragraph writeups with interesting and different hooks for all of them. Most all of these would work great as Garou, just add some stats and they're ready.

Happily buying all of this series. Every single one worth the cost. None of the writeups have stats but most NPCs never need them.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Fianna Kinfolk
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100 Red Talon Kinfolk
by Darryl J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2019 23:02:42

Really love this series. 100 unique character one paragraph writeups with interesting and different hooks for all of them. Most all of these would work great as Garou, just add some stats and they're ready.

Happily buying all of this series. Every single one worth the cost. None of the writeups have stats but most NPCs never need them.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Red Talon Kinfolk
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Werewolf the Savage Age: Volume 1
by Jakob A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2019 17:38:03

Let me begin by saying this: This is what I wanted Shattered Dreams to be. Not only does it wonderfully present the possibilities for a campaign in a time-period that I believe is seriously underrated, it also fixes a lot of the problems that I have had with the Lost Breeds in WtA lore.

Welcome to the Savage Age! The book opens with a short story connected to the Kitsune, or rather to their progenitor Fox. I might have prefered a story focusing more heavily on some actual heroe of the time the book is set during, but it is still good writing. Next we get an introduction to the setting that really tries to sell it to the reader. For me being a huge stone age fan as it is it only makes me happy to see someone describe the potentiall of this time so passionately. All well and good, lets get into the meat of the book!

Accounting for the Dead This is the big section of the book, covering a number of Lost Breeds of Fera along with one brand new created specifically for this book! These are:

Khara: These Bastet of sabertooth stock have already been covered by the writers in their book "Tribebook: Khara". This section is a summarization of some of the information from that book along with some additional information and Gifts. I will say more about the Khara in my review for that book later, but all in all, a good write-up for an interesting Breed.

Apis: Now this is probably my favourite part of the book! The were-aurochs have always been the Changing Breed I have disliked the most. They just seemed like something created to be a sad story about how Garou are arrogant, destructive brutes, instead of being a well-thought out Breed with a legitimate purpose amongst the Fera. Not so here. Here the Apis are given the justice they deserve, becoming visionaries and bringers of change. Their gifts reflect this with a lot of focus on social interactions, as well as some pretty nice combat gifts. I cannot stress how much I love these new Apis and really hope I will get a chance to play one of them in a game.

Grondr: The boar-changers are an interesting concept that are framed in this book as the original main Wyrm-hunters of Gaia. Their culture, society and history is given more depth here, along with some nice gifts to build a concept that is equal parts brutal fighter as it is cunning cleanser of wyrm-taint and even a little bit of a trickster.

Anupu-Ba-El: This is the new Changing Breed presented in the book. The Anupu-Ba-El are jackal-shifters, here portrayed as the ancestors of the Silent Strider tribe, whom during the War of Rage choose to join with the original wolf-shifters as the "Garou Nation". I love this concept of the Garou having a multi-species origin. It makes the great variety of garou tribes seem more plausible and makes the War of Rage a more nuanced story. I also like the concept of the Anupu-Ba-El as keepers of the spiritual balance of the world, with a gradual shift over time to focus on Death and the spirits of the departed. Their gifts suits them perfectly as proto-Silent Striders and as shamans.

Neanderthals: This section made me very curious when I saw it. I will admit that these cousins/ancestors of ours have a very special place in my heart and have for a very long time captured my imagination. It made me very frustrated in the Shattered Dreams book that the neanerthals were given so little thought, with the section regarding them seemingly only consisting of the writer reading J. Aules Clan of the Cave Bear and copying everything said about the neanderthals there into the book (while Aule is a great author, her first book is several decades old and lots of new information has emerged about these humans since then). Not so the Savage Age! Here these ancient humans are presented properly, going into detail about how to play a neanderthal character and how they relate to the different Fera. I love that the neanderthals have been given their own gifts, setting them apart from Homo sapiens characters. While some of the information given about them might be debated, it has more to do with what current theories you choose to follow, rather than out-dated information (as with Shattered Dreams). All in all, a great section!

Playing in the Savage Age Here the reader is given a more thorough presentation of the setting, with everything from Palao-ecology, human cultures, languages to a small bestiary of different animals to appear in your game. It also contains how to create a character in the setting, with new abilities and also a nice system with specializations depending on what breed you pick (Beast, Metis, Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals). All in all, a very nice introduction that will hopefully inspire both players and game-masters alike!

And that is all! I cannot stress how much I recommend this book to anyone who likes Werewolf the Apocalypse and is interested in a game set during the Stone Age. You will not be disappointed! The only real down-side to this book is that it is too short. I can only hope that with the sales from it the writers will be encouraged to continue this series, as from what I have heard there is even more to come!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Werewolf the Savage Age: Volume 1
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Technocracy Assembled 2
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2019 20:46:43

Syndicate 4/5

Though I haven't yet read the Technocracy: Void Engineers, this is my favorite of the first edition Convention Books. The Syndicate is presented clearly, with the reasoning behind what they do and why they can't push to do more (such as abolish money and make everything free). It does a far better job pushing the Syndicate as a "good" guy than Iteration X, Progenitors and NWO did, though a big part of that might be that all three of those books praise the Nazis in some way, while this one takes credit for the one thing that Hitler did right (rebuilding the German economy) and then tries to take credit for undermining him, rather than saying things like that the camps were a great success for medical research.

It's still a first edition Technocracy book, though clearly by this point, the 2nd edition view of the Technocracy had started to take over, though it was still two years before Guite to the Technocracy was published. So it has some issues, like making the Syndicate and New World Order have a bit too much overlap (this isn't quite solved in Revised, though giving the Syndicate Primal Utility and REALLY tying them to their paradigm of the Bottom Line helped a lot).

Oh, and of course, this is in small ways a crossover book with Werewolf: the Apocalypse.

Void Engineers 5/5

I honestly love this book. From the framing narrative of a Void Engineer giving their history to a bunch of Reality Deviants (one of each of the major types, in fact) including the reveal at the end bringing the whole thing into question and giving rise to a major chunk of the Nephandic Infiltration metaplot for the Technocracy. It's really a modern Convention Book with a nuanced view of the Technocracy and one that clearly internally, at least, has them as the heroes.

It contains decent mechanics for Voidships, and seems to be the place where the exploration of the galaxy is farthest along (at least, I don't believe later books suggest that they've gotten as far as this one claims they have.) In fact, if there's a flaw, it's because them having significant extrasolar exploration is a bit beyond belief, though they justify it by Kepler and Einstein having worked together to find a hole in Relativity (Newton, also a Void Engineer apparently, had been killed a few decades earlier).

Overall, it's a very good book, with lots of useful procedures and devices, a solid narrative, and it makes it clear that Void Engineers are more complex antagonists who are more tolerant of Earthly relatiy deviants, simply because out in teh void, anything vaguely human is more friend than the natives are.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy Assembled 2
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Technocracy: Void Engineers
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2019 20:46:38

I honestly love this book. From the framing narrative of a Void Engineer giving their history to a bunch of Reality Deviants (one of each of the major types, in fact) including the reveal at the end bringing the whole thing into question and giving rise to a major chunk of the Nephandic Infiltration metaplot for the Technocracy. It's really a modern Convention Book with a nuanced view of the Technocracy and one that clearly internally, at least, has them as the heroes.

It contains decent mechanics for Voidships, and seems to be the place where the exploration of the galaxy is farthest along (at least, I don't believe later books suggest that they've gotten as far as this one claims they have.) In fact, if there's a flaw, it's because them having significant extrasolar exploration is a bit beyond belief, though they justify it by Kepler and Einstein having worked together to find a hole in Relativity (Newton, also a Void Engineer apparently, had been killed a few decades earlier).

Overall, it's a very good book, with lots of useful procedures and devices, a solid narrative, and it makes it clear that Void Engineers are more complex antagonists who are more tolerant of Earthly relatiy deviants, simply because out in teh void, anything vaguely human is more friend than the natives are.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: Void Engineers
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Technocracy: Syndicate
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2019 02:43:20

Though I haven't yet read the Technocracy: Void Engineers, this is my favorite of the first edition Convention Books. The Syndicate is presented clearly, with the reasoning behind what they do and why they can't push to do more (such as abolish money and make everything free). It does a far better job pushing the Syndicate as a "good" guy than Iteration X, Progenitors and NWO did, though a big part of that might be that all three of those books praise the Nazis in some way, while this one takes credit for the one thing that Hitler did right (rebuilding the German economy) and then tries to take credit for undermining him, rather than saying things like that the camps were a great success for medical research.

It's still a first edition Technocracy book, though clearly by this point, the 2nd edition view of the Technocracy had started to take over, though it was still two years before Guite to the Technocracy was published. So it has some issues, like making the Syndicate and New World Order have a bit too much overlap (this isn't quite solved in Revised, though giving the Syndicate Primal Utility and REALLY tying them to their paradigm of the Bottom Line helped a lot).

Oh, and of course, this is in small ways a crossover book with Werewolf: the Apocalypse.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: Syndicate
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Hail Satan!
by Sensible C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2019 22:55:00

SensibleCenobite's overall opinion of Hail Satan: A+/D+. Since we're in a cancel culture where Victorian commie mommies need to silence everyone, I'm going to give this product an A+. I honestly should give this a D+/C- {Even though I liked it}, since it's a bit vulgar in a childish way, but hey, that's freedom of speech now isn't it, and the Black Dog Studio warning label is on the front cover. I only paid fifty cents for this product and now it's one dollar, so it's worth a quick read to remind yourself you could at least do an equivalent job or better. This product is for you if you ever wanted to play a coterie of Baali vampires {Demon worshipers} that are still anti heroes at the end of the day. The coterie makes a deal with a demon to get revenge on their sire, and the demon agrees to give them their souls back if they kill their sire, the demon's old servant, in one weeks time. The players are given many options for their start rides {Something I don't see often}, such as a moldy RV, a bunch of motorcycles, or a haunted VW bus that gets repaired by undead hippies {My favorite}. I like how Sebastian gives us three main locations that the coterie must go to in any order to defeat a piece of the main boss {Satanic convent, motel forgotten by God, and Lucifer's Summer camp}. The Satanic convent may be a little over the top for some groups since it potentially involves the sacrifice of sixty six children, but remember that the coterie is there to stop them, not join in for fun {I hope}. Sebastian was even nice enough to throw in a decent list of random encounters, which are so underrated in modern RPGs from what I've gathered on the interwebs. Overall this is a very short product to work with {Eight pages}, but any Storyteller worth their salt should be able to beef it up where needed, and tone down some of the vulgarities if it's over the top for them. However, since players ruin campaigns in twenty minutes or less, maybe it's a good thing there's less to ruin. Some of my best missions/games were run from a few paragraphs out of a mission compilation book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hail Satan!
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Technocracy Assembled 1
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2019 12:52:28

Here are my reviews of the individual parts:

Progenitors 2/5

This book is...confused. It wants to simultaneously leave things to the interpretation of the ST by saying "maybe this is a Progenitor scheme!" but having the PROGENITORS say that is quite odd. The in character sections should know, or at least think they know, if their own organization was involved in large scale actions. It also has the nonsensical idea that the Progenitors are somehow killing Avatars on a mass scale, which would mean no more Progenitors.

The book has some good parts, the story that the basics of the Progenitors are conveyed through are the notes of a student, though a super-unsympathetic one, who seems on the verge of going MRA terrorist by the middle.

In general, it's an ok book, but it shows badly how early in Mage it was written, before much of the setting and details had been nailed down properly, and while it did some of the lifting to make the Technocracy more than a one-note black hat, it left a LOT of work to be done.

Iteration X 3/5

This is a difficult book to review for me. On the one hand, I hate it. On the either, it is a well written book that is just part of first edition where the Technocracy is an irredeemable villain rather than a potentially valid antagonist.

It is told from the point of view of a recent recruit, who was given advanced prosthetics that were necessary due to thalidomide. He breaks conditioning for long enough to describe how terrible Iteration X is, and it's bad down to explicit comparisons with Nazis. The book gives a general overview including introducing the Artificers who are prominent when Sorcerer 's crusade is written. They effects and wonders are some of the most interesting parts of the book, along with the running theme that the Dreamspeakers are the biggest rival of the Convention, due to being the two oldest groups focusing on the spirit world and on tool use. It also introduced the Computer explicitly as a spirit that has some goal in Reality and is using Iteration X to achieve it.

Overall a solid book, but not great in many places if you prefer a sympathetic Technocracy.

NWO 3/5

This book fits into the cycle of first edition Technocracy books, and continues many of the trends that I dislike about early Mage. It depicts the New World Order, marking another Convention that is explicitly tied to the Nazis (through their "One World, One Truth, One Reality" slogan being similar to "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer" as well as the Nazis speaking of a "New World Order" they would establish) and generally is fine for a purely antagonist oriented book, but is badly unsatisfying in the modern era with a complex Technocracy. It does have the advantage of pointing out some debates within the the Convention, and foresaw the somewhat "post-truth" era that we find ourselves in today.

Overall, it's a decent book, but best acquired in a bundle or in Technocracy Assembled, and not as essential as the longer, more detailed and more nuanced Revised book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy Assembled 1
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Technocracy: N.W.O.
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2019 12:52:25

This book fits into the cycle of first edition Technocracy books, and continues many of the trends that I dislike about early Mage. It depicts the New World Order, marking another Convention that is explicitly tied to the Nazis (through their "One World, One Truth, One Reality" slogan being similar to "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer" as well as the Nazis speaking of a "New World Order" they would establish) and generally is fine for a purely antagonist oriented book, but is badly unsatisfying in the modern era with a complex Technocracy. It does have the advantage of pointing out some debates within the the Convention, and foresaw the somewhat "post-truth" era that we find ourselves in today.

Overall, it's a decent book, but best acquired in a bundle or in Technocracy Assembled, and not as essential as the longer, more detailed and more nuanced Revised book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: N.W.O.
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