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JBD: The Devil's Due #1
Publisher: Griot Enterprises
by Rudolf A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/26/2020 16:50:46

Abut half of this book (around 14 pages) is actual story. Rest consists of ads, credits pages, dividers, multiple title pages and so on.

I felt that the story did not flow smoothly. It was hard to follow, jumped around without rhyme or reason. There was little progression from cause to effect. Text and images did not always worked together, felt like those were concentrated more on setting a mood, than telling a story. I felt the story didn't take advantage of everything the comicbook have to offer as a visual medium.

Furthermore I feel like hermetic choice of subject matter will not appeal to broader audience not intimately familiar with the broader cultural background.

The black and white heavy ink-style art was decent enough. So that's a plus.

Personally - not my cup of tea.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
JBD: The Devil's Due #1
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Agonia
Publisher: Szymon'Noobirus' Piecha
by Rudolf A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/10/2019 18:01:20

Gra dobrze realizuje swoje cele. Miał być skrajny grimdark i taplanie się we własnej posoce i odchodach? Jest. Miała być spirala która prowadzi do stopniowej degradacji bohaterów graczy? Jest. Miał być niejednoznaczny setting w którym ciężko jest być heroicznym bohaterem? Jest. . Mam wrażenie, że cała ta gra kręci się wokół cierpienia - i to zarówno na poziomie fikcji jak i mechaniki. Autor nie mógł wybrać bardziej sprawiających cierpienie wszystkim przy stole kości niż k4. I to zarówno w momencie nadepnięcia jak i frustracji związanej z zakresem wyników. I mam niejasne przeczucie, że w całej tej parodystycznej otoczce wyśmiania hipermrocznej mentalności sesyjnej był to zabieg całkowicie przez autora zamierzony... . Jest tutaj kilka ciekawych mechanik, które śmiało mogłyby trafić do zachodnich współczesnych gier indie. Ciekawym zabiegiem jest "kuszenie" przez Kruentisa zarówno bohaterów jak i graczy - wykonanie znaku, przypieczętowanie cyrografu, niezmazywalnego, długopisem na planszy upadku. O kolejny krok zbliżasz się do upadku, a wtedy nie będzie już dla ciebie ratunku. Porównania z punktami losu z Fate Core czy bennies z Savage World nasuwają się same. Dodatkowo niczym zegar w AW pełni to rodzaj klepsydry która pokazuje ile ziarenek przesypało się w klepsydrze wyznaczającej upadek bohaterów, czy uda im się dokonać jeszcze jednego małego aktu podniesienia świata? Drużyna może układać małymi cegiełkami nowy porządek w tym chaosie, lecz nosząc te cegły wykonują kroki ku własnej zgubie. . Tylko cztery gwiazdki, bo po jednej poprowadzonej (relatywnie udanie zdawałoby się) sesji nie mam ochoty powracać do systemu. Mam wrażenie, że sadystyczny hipergrimdark będący niemal parodią samego siebie jako forma, wyprzedza treść powodując przerost tej pierwszej nad tą drugą i w efekcie - gra nie do końca jest tak grywalna jakby mogła być. Aczkolwiek dla MGów lubujących się w takich klimatach - prawdopodobnie dostarczy materiału na krótką kampanię. Setting jest wystarczająco bogaty. Tylko gra trochę... męczy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Agonia
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Augmented Reality, The Holistic City Kit For Cyberpunk Games
Publisher: Geist Hack Games
by Rudolf A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/19/2019 05:35:37

This is amazing. I've used this resource in my cyberpunk sandbox campagin anlong with some tables of my own. It's quick, practical, lets you generate whole city blocks basically on the fly giving your buildins some character and making them memorable. You no longer say "well... you see a corporate office building" every single time - you can have small residential buildings with coffee-shops and repai garages covered in cables and pipes, sleek buildings of glass and fiber, concrete crumbling ruins. And that is just one part of it. Loved generated dance-clubs, loved "what you can see on the road"... Highly reccomended, very usable, very versitaile.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Augmented Reality, The Holistic City Kit For Cyberpunk Games
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The Verdantium: A Custom Faction & Red War Roleplaying Guide
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Rudolf A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/14/2018 05:33:02
  • I really appreciate and admire effort put into collecting information regarding The Red War in the form of brief document. That beeing said - the whole endavour feels like an excercise in futility and celebrating mediocrity at best.
  • .
  • Author (and vocal part of the AL community) seems to be very proud of the "roleplaying" that led to The Red War Epic storyline - failing to notice how out of character it was both for the creatures living witin Faerun and Emerald Enclave faction (we preserve balance standing guard so the civilization and nature would not destroy one another - so yeah, let's start war with one of the most developed civilizations, nature won't suffer for sure). One has to be devoid of any self-preservation instinct to openly declare war on faction that consists of wizards (who are the more powerful, the more time they have to prepare) especially representing faction that is not primarily militaristic itself. Not looking into political undertones too much - but let's attack forming legitimate goverment that is taking care of their people because tyranny and dictatorship. Let's bring democracy to Red Wizards, they've got oilcoughmagic. (I'd like to remind that AL is international community that does not share the same sentiments).
  • .
  • Why is above paragraph even relevant? Why bring up things that are not author's doing, but merely documented by him (or to be more precise "by them" - documment has one editor and 12 writers listed)? I did it to specifically point out lack of objectivity. If the intent is to familiarize the rest of the AL community with the story that the whole fuss is all about - it should be done from the objective standpoint, relaying events and their timeline without unnecessary judgement. I current form I feel that it's less of a "let's catch you up on what happened" and more of "war efforts propaganda". I also did not enjoy behind-kissery towards AL Admins woven into the content of this document in at least two instances. If you want to express your gratitude - Credits are a good place for that.
  • .
  • What I feel would greatly improve this documment? It presents events in relative order of occurrence presenting key characters and their role. Citations needed. In my opinion it would be beneficial to present this with a timeline, adding quotes from players and characters directly involved in the events with a source of the information (either link to a specific comment/post/thread on facebook or CCC module that developed the story). It's a story - it could be a reference. Yes, I'm aware it would be a lot of work. Secondly - objectivity - Red War was not this fantastic uprising of persecuted people. It's bunch of things that happened. What was other side's story? What about player options for players who want to oppose subjectively percieved suicidal idiocy of Tick Tary Tanner? What about player options for gamers who want to ally with Red Wizards?
  • .
  • This resource is not AL Legal, which makes it kind of pointless in regards of AL play. Custom backgrounds are a nice touch, but mechanically are reskins of existing content (which technically makes them only playable in AL content of this documment). Again - backgrounds are only one sided, following one side of the conflict. Also - if this resource is not AL legal why not new background features?
  • .
  • It is advertised as a resource for DMs and writers to incorporate into their modules and homebrew campagins. Why would any DM - who usually prides themselves in their plot and worldbuilding - incorporate such illogical and anticlimactic events? Why would DM NPCize player characters that bahaved in such ludicrous way? Only value I see in the whole thing is to play CCC-REAP-01 to desacrate ashes and throw them into the Volcano in Mordor.
  • .
  • Therefore not really useful in AL play nor in home games. What is the point then?

  • Above is my opinion, you might not agree, You might also not consider my idea of "imrovements" to improve anything - and you are entilted to your opinion, as I am to mine.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Verdantium: A Custom Faction & Red War Roleplaying Guide
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Creator Reply:
Thank you! I appreciate the feedback and the effort you took to write this review—and your willingness to give us 3-stars, especially when you see the endeavor itself as flawed. (How can you make better mac-n-cheese for someone who doesn't want mac-n-cheese?) A few key points: (1) Nothing in this guide violates AL legal gameplay. There are several things, which can be implemented by a player, DM, or CCC writer with ease. For version 1.1, we're including a side bar that better explains "away-from-the-table roleplaying." Hopefully, this will clear up some confusion. (2) There is already a sidebar on "Thayan Loyalists," which addresses gamers who want to ally with Red Wizards. For version 1.1, we are also including a letter from the Thayans (written by the talented Jeremy Forbing), which will hopefully scratch that itch for some players. (3) Regarding comments about our lack of objectivity: yes, guilty as charged. We have tried to be upfront about the fact that this is a guide for players who WANT to participate in the Red War. This is not a guide on how not to participate. (I hope this doesn't come across as snarky or argumentative. But this guide intends carry these Red War ideas forward—instead of being a continuation of previous debates. As such, this guide won't be for everyone.) Thank you again. Your review reflects an important perspective, which I think needs to be addressed. I hope my response answers some of your criticisms.
Trader Pass
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Rudolf A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/09/2018 09:03:58

Following review WILL contain SPOILERS.

Let me preface this review by stating, that what I'll write here - I'll write with the best intention in mind, letting know potential DMs what to prepare for and providing constructive criticism to the author. What I'll write here is rooted in my belief that DMs resource to pre-made modules for three main reasons:

1) to run an adventure when they have no time for prep-work or writing their own material

2) to canibalize maps and/or encounters

3) to get some inspiration for story-wise when they feel burnt out

...and I believe this adventure falls flat when it comes to all of the above.

I will start with biggest issues and work my way down to nitpicking. Adventure modules are not fiction (in a literature genre sense) but rather utilitarian texts that provide instructions for a DM (beeing primary target audience) to help him execute a game session. Therefore it should not surprise the reader, nor it should contain plot twists, providing all relevant and ctitical information in advance. Don't get me wrong - adventure as presented at the table can (sometimes should) have plot-twists, but those should surprise players, not the DM. In example - if ten chapters into the adventure it turns out that main villain is in fact a woman, and one of the PC's mother at that - DM should be informed of that fact at the very beginning. That is why module should not be written like a movie script - following PCs, assuming their actions in precise order for it to work. And that is how "Trader's Pass" is organized. It gets "railroad-ey" which is RPG sin in its own, but most of all - it's not providing DM with much needed guidance.

Some examples: in the very first chapter PCs are asked to deliver two letters. Contents of those letters are not disclosed, nor they are ever mentioned again. And the recipent is found dead in the end of the chapter. What if PCs choose to open those letters? I know letters were just a MacGuffin, but players don't? What if they think higher of the adventure author and come to a conclusion "oh, this is one of those intrigue-investigation type of adventures, I wonder what was so important that it got the merchant killed"? Similarly the Wand - it is mentioned in the first chapter unbeknownst to players, then mentioned again on page 35, then it is a subject of a "delivery quest" (pg 39), and then... disappears. Even though module final is centered around meeting Adel, the wand is not brought up, neither DM is informed what it does. NPCs might decieve party, NPCs might say to PCs it's "need-to-know" basis. Well... DM needs to know. Preverably at the very first time it is mentioned. Given what levels party reaches there come skills and spells into play - they might want to attune to it, they might want to identify it or even use it blindly. If not the specific write-up, then at least details on what kind of power or magic it is affiliated with. There are many instances of inconsistencies and omissions like those above.

Another concern is, that I feel like the module was never properly tested. It makes a lot of assumptions on party behavior, that on the first glance are illogical. Have the author ever met players? Those inquisitive active creatures that stick their noses everywhere? Letter being one example, but there are more. Players are given delivery quest with a feeling of urgency (the merchant will cross the mountains soon) and yet the adventure assumes they will stay for a night in the inn instead of pressing on through the night. They are tasked with finding out who is a grave-robber, yet cemmentary stalking yeilds no effects - instead they are assumed to sit around in bars, drinking, gossiping around about wine prices. Adventure assumes they will case the house and learn critical information before confronting the farmhouse necromancer head-on. That was actually the railroad choke-point that killed my party.

Story is lacking and uninspired. Calling it a "campagin" is a little generous. Those are mini-adventures that could (with a lot of leeway) be considered loosely connected, but there is no overarching story arc. There is an orc invasion in the first part (though mini-adventures themselves don't seem to be connected that well), but the second part with the whole journey through the mountains and City of Narion seems to be crudely glued to it. I also feel the invasion would have a bigger emotional impact on the players if Alor Valley would be more fleshed-out, and PCs had a chance to bond with NPCs.

Encounters are not balanced, not interesting nor thematic. They just seem to be thrown together as it was convinient for the author. I also don't like the whole "XP doesn't match up, so just, uh... give PCs some levels and stuff". It seems like the author wasn't willing to commit enough effort to do the math. As far as I understand milestones are a valid advancement technique in 5e - it just seems lazy. Given that there are no battle maps - all of the above disqualify encounters as an asset to canibalize for one's own adventure. The same goes for maps - those doesn't seem to stick to one style in terms of how clear and readable they are. Maps in later chapters are dark blurry mess completely unintelligible. It would work better if those were hand-made maps drawn with a black marker on the graph paper - similar to the inn map on pg. 14.

Good stuff.

There were some nice parts in "Trader's Pass". I liked the whole "big battle mission". In the face of overwhelming forces of the enemy PCs are given a simple job - "We will distract them, and take them head-on, you destroy the thingy". That makes the battle somewhat a climactic backdrop not bogging down a session with mass combat simulation.

I also liked the idea behind the family feud, though have some issues with previously mentioned "assuming PCs will do X" stuff. I also feel this particular part should be given more background and could use more fleshing out. At this point Calimars and Farins are just numbers.

I like the idea behind scheming orc shamans that prepared Valley for the invasion, tried to set up enemies within and weaken defences but I feel the whole plotline got underutilized.

Summaries of the chapters and missions are a nice touch, though insufficient when the whole thing is written like a path to be followed.

I know that all of above criticism might feel a bit harsh, though I believe the campagin have a little bit of potential and could be much better if the author would be willing to put some work into it. I'd like to offer some suggestions, feel free to ignore them or disagree:

1) I think it needs a thorough rewrite. Writing the whole module from the perspective of the PCs is pointless. It needs a recognizable villain presented at the very beginning, his plan and the timeline for the whole Valley from his perspective. "If players would not intervine he plans to do X and Y". Also "Y days/weeks ago shaman contacted a death cleric and started supplying bandits with weapons". That way DM has a clear understaning of what is going on and what is going to happen and can react accordingly when surprised by unorthodosx player approach. Some motivation for the invasion should be also given beyond "we are orcs, we be bad, arrrr" - DM can plan ahead if he knows orcs are driven here because they are banished faction, or their homeland was plagued with famine and they need land do settle.

2) Create a compelling villain and a mid-level boss as his lieutenant. Orcish shaman would be great - name him, specifically tell players he was the one that provided Lamdin with the altar and thugs with weapons, perhaps let him slip away from PCs grasp - killing him would be so much more satysfying.

3) Alor Valley should be fleshed out more. We get some geo-economy info at the beginning, couple of locations and NPCs, but for the final battle to have impact - PCs should be rooted in the Valley. Adventure could use NPCs summary at the very beginning (not only shopkeepers, but also important NPCs that appear later) so they could be incorporated into character backstories or bonds. The Valley seems empty - perhaps allow some exploration, maybe incorporate sandbox, detail key locations and couple "places of interest", some random encounters (not only combat ones, but also thematic like sick people from Meel, sailors on the raft or farmers delivering their goods to the city).

4) Give DM tools for improvisation and bringing Valley to life. Foreshadow. Random tables could change over time reflecting changes and PCs inpact on the valley or foreshadowing events to come. Good example would be Lamdin - players should be familiar with rumors about him way earlier before even Sardol informs them about the corpse-snatching problem. That way they can connect the dots earlier instead of making illogical decision "we have a quest but let's go to bar and discuss wine gossips"

5) Fix the MacGuffins. If there are letters, at least let us know what is inside. If there is a wand - what it is about. If there is a Sardol's kid - let PCs meet him earlier, let them get to know him (perhaps talk to him while waiting to enter Sardol's office before the first quest). Perhaps Sardol's wife is a childhood friend of one of the PCs?

6) DO NOT assume player actions. Present the DM with problem and circumstances - not the solution.

7) Better connect the last part to the first part. It's tricky as they are so distinct. Perhaps let players find clues to the location of underground pass during their fight with the orcs? Maybe the pass needs de-orc-ization? Maybe point out at the beginning so the DM would remember to make Orion regularely elude to Adel, so their trip would not be so out of the blue?

8) Flesh out the City of Narion. Seriously - this part of the adventure needs more than 5 pages. Given that it is at least twice the size of the Town of Trader's Pass it needs points of interest, key NPCs, locations, flehsed out town adventures, encounters, plot hooks, disctricts, perhaps some faction dynamics. It could be stretched for 4-5 game nights worth of content. Given what is summarized in the background and what is actual content of this part it seems to be very underdeveloped. Take into account that 5th level is the time, when PCs get involved in local politics. The struggle for power between two brothers could be an interesting story arc, but PCs need to have a way to learn about their agendas. Narion itself could be a story arc at least as long as the whole Alor Valley invasion plot-line. Develop it or cut it out entirely making it a second mini-campagin as a sequel.

9) Consider working with an artist who could make better maps - both for the cities and adventure locations. .



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Trader Pass
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A Boy and his Modron
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Rudolf A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/05/2017 05:45:40

At first - upon downloading - I was impressed. Good writing, interesting plot with this low-level "we help peasants" feel, couple encounters of varying style and difficulty. Adventure I could use as an oppening warm up for my new campagin. And then - I played... This adventure did not survive crash test of meeting my players. It wasn't all that bad, but enough to lower my overall opinion from 5 to 4 stars.

WARNING! FOLLOWING PART OF THE REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! The whole concept of the adventure is that party is a group of outsiders posing as carpenters and vets. The problem one of my playes had was that all those emotional moments of the adventure didn't move him as much as they could, because his character did not really have a reason to care about Toby. If the party would be from that town, knowing Toby as a boy who they sometimes employed to run errands. That Razi guy, somehow sleezy but borrowing them money or employing them from time to time - a devil? Whaaaat? On the other hand - "we are carpenters, move along" wouldn't work, cause Duncar also would be aware who they are.

My party also completely ignored the fight with the Ogre. He hit his head on the branch? Well... There HAVE to be some hair on that branch. That actually might have been intended (otherwise the whole story about Yorthab and the branch would be pointless waste of space). But the other "key fight" - with Razi - they felt really railroaded, and felt like nothing they did made any difference. They knew they didn't stood a chance, and were painfully aware that that fight was scripted. It left them frustrated and displeased. This script as well as couple more turning points of the adventure lacked subtelty in such briefly build setting (time frame for the adventure is pretty tight).

I also felt adventure is missing stats for key characters (including the Modron). SPOILERS OVER!

Although it might seem that I focused mainly on the drawbacks, we had fun overall. Previous reviewers rightfully pointed out all positive sides of this adventure, and I do agree that with some minor fixes it is a great filler or starting point for a new campagin.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Boy and his Modron
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