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Star Trek Adventures: Ends and Means
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/21/2019 14:01:55

This mission, presented in three acts and a conclusion, sees the party's ship dispatched to the Federation protectorate world of Tolen IV to help mediate a disagreement between two factions. One faction wants to join the Federation as a full member world, the other wants out. The Federation hopes they'll stay, not only on general principles but because of the system's strategic location on the fringes of the Romulan Neutral Zone, not to mention their natural resources - the place is rich in dilithium and other useful ores. This may be a time for full-dress uniforms and cocktail parties, but assorted skulduggery will provide opportunities for combat and investigation as well. The adventure is intended for New Era games, but is easy to modify if you prefer the times of the Original Series.

The first part involves a diplomatic reception aboard ship, to which both sides in the dispute are invited along with other notables. It's a chance to meet some of the personalities involved (and check up on them if anyone fancies some database delving). Some players may find this a bit tedeous - well, so do some Starfleet officers! - but it's worth persevering, there is useful background material to be gathered, and anyone hoping for starship command in the future needs to be able to cope with the diplomatic side of the job, and so here is a chance to demonstrate that ability.

The second act holds more promise, with the party sent planetside and tasked with the security of the negotiations, which are to be held in a convention centre in the capital city of Tolen IV. They will have to be there early to get set up, with the scope to organise security as they see fit (with some helpful suggestions for you to pass on via NPCs if they seem stuck). Naturally they have access to Starfleet technology to do this... and of course there are protestors and dubious characters wandering around for them to investigate. The talks begin... but it's not long before all hell breaks loose!

The party will have to deal with it. Possible outcomes and how to handle them are included - be familiar with these so as to be ready to react to whatever they decide to do. There are plenty of distractions, complications, and surprises as they cope with the incident at hand and then try to investigate what's actually going on. It really creates the sort of chaotic scenes security people have to deal with. There is plenty of detail to help you run the investigations, whichever way the party turns. Several tense situations serve to keep the party on their toes.

The third act deals with a confrontation between the party and the individual to whom all the evidence gathered points as being behind all the unpleasantness. Needless to say, said individual will not come quietly. Two conclusions are provided: one if they capture the individual and one if they escape; and there are some notes for possible future adventures.

This makes for a tense, realistic adventure that's a little out of the ordinary, yet retains a strong Star Trek feel. One outcome that isn't covered is the death of the individual, best to modify the 'capture' conclusion if that occurs. This should prove a memorable mission for all involved. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (TOS) may have reckoned that "The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank!" - here is your group's chance to prove him wrong!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Ends and Means
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Star Trek Adventures: A Star Beyond the Stars
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/20/2019 13:57:58

Billed as a 'starter campaign', this work presents three interlinked missions to get any Star Trek Adventures game off to a flying start. The intent is that a novice game master should be able to run it, never mind players new to this particular game system, and as such it introduces various aspects of the game mechanics in an orderly and easy to understand fashion.

In the first mission, called The Alcubierre, the party is sent as part of a starship crew to retrieve an experimental ship that was testing out a new warp drive. The adventure is introduced neatly, by providing an entry from the captain's log to be read aloud (much as in many episodes of the TV show) that sets the scene and states the mission. As the players' ship approaches, you are talked through the likely sensor rolls that could be made - and there's even advice for dealing with failed rolls. Eventually, an away team will take a shuttlecraft over to the ship and enter to discover why it's drifting in space. Unfortunately when they get there, they discover that they are not the only people trying to salvage it. The backstory of what went wrong is laid out clearly, the characters of course will have to discover it through investigation, as well as dealing with the intruders. Everything is explained as you go along, so there is no need to be completely familiar with the rules before you start... both you and your players will have the hang of them by the end. There's a lot of exploring, and the chance for combat, before the ship is under the party's control, the engines repaired and you're ready to move on to the next mission.

The next mission is called We Are Not Ourselves, and involves the party being sent to investigate a Klingon station that has gone dark. The evidence unearthed there leads them on to a nearby planetary system, where they can begin to get to the bottom of what is going on in both this and the previous mission...

Everything comes together in the final mission, The Pierced Veil, with high excitement as a Romulan Warbird arrives, negotiates with the Federation ship... and then exploders. It's not long before another Warbird turns up and quite naturally leaps to the conclusion that the Federation blew it up... oh, and the party's ship has somehow acquired a computer viruse which must be dealt with before the second Warbird can be beaten off. This provides opportunity to learn more rules, including those for starship combat, in a situation that should have the players on the edge of their seats.

There's a lot to get your head around here, yet it is done so skillfully that everything comes naturally, and the main effect is just of a cracking good adventure rather than a set-piece designed to teach the rules. There's enough hand-holding for even a novice GM - one new to GMing, never mind this game system - to be able to handle it with confidence, yet it's not so intrusive that a more experienced one feels patronised. There are no easy outcomes to the plot, however, giving the players some nice moral issues with which to wrestle, and likely repercussions are covered ready for you to apply them in future events. This should get your voyages off to a flying start, an excellent introduction to the game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: A Star Beyond the Stars
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Fallout: Wasteland Warfare - RPG (Expansion Book)
by Jason S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2019 12:06:52

Big fan of Modiphius, I've run and enjoyed Tales from the Loop, Conan, and Star Trek. But the Wasteland Warfare RPG is a big disappointment. Very difficult to create scenarios with limited building blocks and lack of structure (for example, player character and enemy values missing, how to earn XPs), can be terribly unbalanced, and frustrating. I can't recommend this product, it seems rushed and not completely thought through. Maybe the 2d20 version will be an improvement. Wish I could get a refund as it's frankly unplayable the way it is.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Fallout: Wasteland Warfare - RPG (Expansion Book)
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Star Trek Adventures Quickstart
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2019 10:14:12

If you love Star Trek, you will love Star Trek Adventures. 6 attributes and 6 disciplines (fields of expertise) with each attribute being able to be combined with each discipline for a variety of tasks. It plays well into the narrative, storyed themes of Star Trek wonderfully. Signals does a great job of allowing players and GMs alike to get a good feel for the system while being true to the setting and tone of Star Trek.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures Quickstart
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Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2019 09:57:01

It cannot be understated - Modiphious did a great job capturing the tone of Conan, especially in regards to magic. The 2d20 system set-up for Conan works fantastically in all aspects.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Robert E. Howards CONAN Roleplaying Game Quickstart
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John Carter of Mars Core Rulebook
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/24/2019 10:19:23

The John Carter of Mars RPG comes out at a time when there is a great demand for games with laser-focused mechanics that know exactly what kind of experience they aim to deliver. While built upon the existing 2d20 framework, the team was able to craft a quick, punchy, and perhaps most important: authentic John Carter experience with this game.

Layout and Artwork

John Carter of Mars is published in a non-standard landscape format that works well for such a cinematic game. I imagine that the physical format of these books is impressive as heck, and I eagerly await the copies I ordered a few weeks back.

The artwork is beautiful, and portrayal of the Red Martians is tasteful as opposed to other portrayals of their clothing in other materials. I’m honestly relieved as I’ve had the hardest time getting my wife interested when all she gets in Google Image search are pinup artwork of Dejah Thoris in exceptionally revealing attire.

Also cheers for Francesca Baerald’s gorgeous character sheets! There is no excuse to not use the colored versions.

The Rules

Not only do the game mechanics read well, they deliver the power-levels expected of these larger-than-life heroes, for which death defying adventures are the norm. Paired with design choices that highlight these, (like the lack of cover rules) the players are guided both mechanically and thematically towards the genre it was meant to run.

The Setting

The game also handles the potentially problematic elements of the game with surprising grace, framing John Carter’s adventures and characters in a way that makes sense in a day and age where we’re more aware of issues such as sexism and racism, without detracting in any way from the source material.

For fans of the setting, the RPG also delivers on the depth of analysis that discusses the social norms and cultures of the various societies in Barsoom in a way that rings true. There’s never this sense that the designers just built the rules and left you the hard work of world building or baking in the feel of the game.

Conclusion

Fast, fun, but backed with a solid framework of the 2d20 mechanics, John Carter of Mars the Roleplaying Game is one of those games that reaches out and seizes the GM’s imagination, demanding to be played.

Much like it’s titular hero, the game cuts down any and all opposition that gets in the way of the primary goal of being able to play a fun, swashbuckling adventure game. Streamlined mechanics, and a focus on Renown as a means of denoting advancement leaves player characters less worried about survival and has them looking forward to the next dire peril that the GM will throw at them next.

GMs, on the other hand, are given the keys to the kingdom, with an entire toolkit for making Sword and Planet adventures, and the means to run them right with confidence.

Overall, John Carter of Mars the Roleplaying Game is a must have for fans of the setting, and for those who are looking for something new, but with solid depth to its setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
John Carter of Mars Core Rulebook
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Star Trek Adventures: The Gravity of the Crime
by James H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2019 12:34:41

This is a difficult adventure to run. There is a lot to remember and a ton of nuance in how the NPCs need to be played. The module is rather poorly organized; I recommend reading the material a few times beforehand and taking notes. The information that you'll need to run any single scene is scattered throughout the document.

5 stars for a challenging murder mystery and complex NPCs, but 1 star for poor organization = 3 stars.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: The Gravity of the Crime
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper's Guide - Fate Core
by Rowan W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2019 01:27:32

Writers had decent coverage of lovecraftian mythos but the history of the Eastern front is very off.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper's Guide - Fate Core
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Cold & Dark
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2019 16:48:23

Five stars! This was obviously a labor of love from its creators- the setting and attention to detail alone were worth the price. I enjoyed it so much that I purchased the hardback version elsewhere, and am currently custom-building a few character models, in 1/6 scale. I really hope we see more!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cold & Dark
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City of Mist Core Book
by Larry B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2019 10:45:33

This is a beast of a book; even in electronic format. You are in for 500+ pages of information about this noir related, supernatural-themed game system. City of Mist relies on a system of play similar to FATE, using Tags instead of Aspects. It may not be fair to the intention of the artists, but I found myself drawn into a FATE mindset as I read this. That doesn’t mean City of Mist is dependent on FATE. It just feels like a close relative to the system.

There were some features of the game that I found really engaging. The use of television shows or comic book series was helpful to frame how the designers envisioned the game design, character design, and gameplay. I think the explanation of designing cases would be helpful beyond City of Mist. Anyone in any game system who wants to design a complex plot could use the chapters on writing the case background for their own story. There is a plot of potential for in-depth plots with interesting branches if the right MC is involved.

I originally was interested in this because of the use of our myths, legends, and fairy tales. The underlying character base for players are those creatures, characters, and archetypes that we find in classical stories and myths. Relying on qualities or features of those archetypes allows players to create characters that bring myth into a reality that we may be more accustomed. This game does not rely on typical fantasy realms but uses the grittier setting of modern realities. Putting Jack (Jacqueline) from Jack and the Beanstalk into a 1930’s era noir urban setting will challenge the imagination. It also unlocks some great potential for story development.

The simplified dice and power system makes dice rolling an easier entry level. Instead of stats to keep track of, the player only has to justify how Tags contribute to positives or negatives to a dice roll. Many who are intimidated by multi-sided dice or stat+modifier+proficiency may find this a more comfortable beginning game.

This is also a team-centric system. This really does require a group of players to work together to move the story forward. The team (“Crew”) becomes a character itself. The way this is written, this will provide for every player to contribute their unique qualities to unfolding the plot. It also provides some excellent “release valves” for absent players. In many game systems, the story relies on consistency. As long as the episodes are self-contained, City of Mist allows for absent players while giving them an opportunity to still be included in the ongoing storyline.

I do find that the system requires a little more of a learning curve for players who are established in other systems. The language of the system seems a little too required. It takes some getting used to talking about the game without using the language of the mechanics. The underlying terms of Mist, Mythos, Logos are all used throughout character creation. Yet, the game requires that the characters do not know about these mechanics and should avoid using those terms during an in-game conversation. That may be a little too restrictive for most hardcore players who like to get into the mechanics of the systems they play.

I did not connect really well with the mystery element of the game very well. It seemed that there was a lot of “uncomfortable unknown” to deal with in playing. Maybe that is intentional to the design. It may make the players more curious to pursue the answers. I felt that it may be more of a hurdle to progress than bait to pursue the end.

Neither of these elements are game breakers. I feel they require the MC (game master) to prepare the players for something engaging. This system requires preparation and knowledge of the overarching plot. This does not feel like a one-shot or pickup game, like many of the FATE-based worlds you could play. This is clearly a world that relies on the ongoing story in order to hook players. Basing my opinion on reading this book, It would be best suited for a group who loves to play longer story arcs in a complex, unfolding plot.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
City of Mist Core Book
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Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook
by Brian D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2019 13:35:52

The top thing I can say about this one is that it captures a specifically Star Trek feeling perfectly (the original series/movies, that is, and not the reboot movies, thankfully). Exploration, discovery, personal values, and so forth are stressed over combat (although it does feature a solid if slightly streamlined combat system with the more complex starship combat rules being particularly enjoyable). I've seen the 2d20 system used for a couple of other properties now and I like how they tailor it for the various settings in ways that are meant to capture the proper feeling each time. In the case of Star Trek Adventures, they've done an excellent job with that cusomization.

The 2d20 system is simple to teach - perhaps 5-10 minuites for everything a player really needs to know to get started, with the rest naturally folding in during play. Even with the tweaks mentioned above, if somebody is famliiar with one of the other incarnations of 2d20, they'll have no problem at all merely diving right in with this one. It isn't particularly "rules light"; merely conhesive and logical in that way that allows one to easily fill in the blanks for any specific rule or system without having to stop and hit the rulebook in the middle of a play session. Players are given a lot of agency here - for example, being able to up the GM's ability to throw curveballs at them in exchange for benefits in the moment. That level of agency makes an easy-to-comprehend system particularly important, as it means the players need a somewhat higher understanding of the system so that they also have a grasp on the consequences of their decisions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook
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Star Trek Adventures: Nest in the Dark
by James H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/24/2019 12:51:49

I've ran all of the "These are the voyages..." adventures and several of the Living Campaign adventures for my troupe... We completed this one in a single night, and all of them said it was their favorite mission, hands down.

Note for potential GMs: You'll only have one NPC to play in this mission, so take some time to read up and think about how you're going to play them, because that'll make or break the adventure. And the potential for humor is HIGH, if your troupe needs a break from grim & dangerous missions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Nest in the Dark
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Odyssey of the Dragonlords: Player's Guide
by Justin C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/20/2019 12:51:57

Epic hero EPICNESS! Mythical heroes abound. This lets you feel as if you dropped into your own Odyssey. The races look good and the new Archetypes are very thematic and look solid. I have already donated to the Kickstarter, so I look forward to the campaign, as well!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Odyssey of the Dragonlords: Player's Guide
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Liminal
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/15/2019 21:24:45

I really like novel series such as Dresden Files and Rivers of London, and typically prefer a lot of UK TV over, for example, American.

So Liminal really pushes all my buttons for an urban fantasy roleplaying game.

The system in itself is not revolutionary, but is easily understood. But the meat of the game is the setting (United Kingdom, British, etc) and character options (shapeshifters/werewolves, magicians, fae, and oh yes vampires). So if this is your kind of thing then you should consider taking a look at Liminal.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Liminal
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John Carter of Mars Core Rulebook
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/11/2019 12:06:07

The John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs is perhaps best known for the notorious 2012 film adaption (the infamous 'mockbuster' film company The Asylum also took a stab at the character three years earlier). But the series also influenced such new classics as Star Wars and Avatar. The source material is a natural for a tabletop RPG and Modiphius Entertainment has provided it. How does it size up? The series features a Virginian native and soldier who seemingly dies in the nineteenth century and is temporarily transported to Mars (known to its inhabitants as Barsoom as chronicled in the 1917 book A Princess of Mars. A series followed and John Carter is now second only to Tarzan of the Apes as Burrough's most famous character. Although the game is faithful to the source material, the designers openly acknowledge that politically incorrect elements emerge in the original stories and are translated into the game. Context is obviously open to interpretation and players can still handle subjects such as slavery or sexism in the manner they deem appropriate.

The game allows characters to play either a transplanted Earthborn hero like Carter or one of four 'human' races populating Mars - Red Martians, Green (the most physically alien and my personal favorites), Yellow and Black. Character creation is relatively simple. Character start with four points in six attributes and are given to more points to discretionarily spend - more points are added based on the races and occupations selected by the players. Players combine two appropriate attributes as appropriate for skill resolutions using 2 D20 - the target number is equal to or less than the sum of the attributes. If a player rolls a success that is less than the weaker of the two attributes, they earn an extra success. The difficulty of the task determines the number of successes required - excess successes can be saved as momentum points and spent at a later time. The race and occupation selected also determines a character's general skills and knowledge of the setting. Each occupation also comes with a recommended talent (characters get the equivalent of five talents when they begin).

For example, I may want to play an Earthborn fugitive Confederate sharpshooter feeling Union regulators that winds up on Barsoom - basically The Outlaw Josey Whales in a sword-and-planet setting. He would three points two might and one each to two other attributes - I add a point each to reason and cunning. I have to subtract one from an attribute due to the racial choice so I deduct one from daring. I choose fugitive as an occupation because his character, like Whales, was more of a guerilla than a regular soldier and is now fleeing. I now get to add two each to cunning and passion. The talent 'no chains can hold me' is suggested as a talent but I can see what else is available and pick something else. Players choose a descriptor that describes the character and allows bonuses to attributes. I choose canny and get one point added to both daring and reason. Characters also start with at least one core piece of equipment and renown - the latter allows the purchase of in-game advantages such as contacts. Earthbound characters are the exception to both rules so I am out of luck. Each character also selects a flaw to help define them. Player-created flaws are allowed on a discretionary basis and I choose bitter - my character lost friends and family during the Civil War. For talents I pick three grade-one entries and one grade-two. I select passionate rider, expert rifleman and keen marksman for grade one. My grade-two selection is deadly pistoleer. Yes, I may I have watched too many Westerns. Characters also start with a luck point pool that is generated from their weakest attribute, although it can be awarded for player ingenuity. Game masters can use the player's luck pool to generate threat points, which are used in a manner similar to momentum except that they are used against the payers (these points can temporarily boost the villain's fighting capabilities, for example).

The setting is divided into three eras based around the progression of Carter's social influence. The first era, for example, is set before Carter became established and is a conflict-driven setting. During the third era, when Carter rules an empire, there is considerably more law and order. The rules also include a bestiary and a serialized adventure in the mold of the original stories. The book also discusses the shared universe of which the Mars series was just a part. Not only does Carter find monsters and villain on Jupiter and the moons of Mars but he occupied the same literary setting as Tarzan, the Pellucidar saga (essentially John Carter in a hollow Earth setting), the Venus series (really more of the same) and the standalone novel The Mad King (a Ruritanian in the style of The Prisoner of Zenda). Unfortunately, the rules only skim this aspect of the story - future supplements may address this. Overall this is an excellent product. It retains the integrity of the original material while allowing for significant extrapolation. This is highly recommended for fans of the Space Opera genre who want to try something more 'old school.'

Read the full review at Geeksagogo.com!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
John Carter of Mars Core Rulebook
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