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The One Ring - Laughter of Dragons
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/13/2018 10:05:42

If you are after six interlinked adventures set in the Lonely Mountain area which concern the Dwarves of Erebor and the Men of Dale, this is the book you want (you might alsp want the Erebor supplement, but it isn't necessary). The adventures can stand alone or you may prefer to make them a plot arc within your campaign, starting in the year 2956. With Smaug dead, there's a new air of hope in the region and this doesn't suit Sauron one little bit, especially with that meddling wizard Gandalf interfering... so he has hatched another plot. These adventures are all about thwarting various aspects of his latest scheme.

We learn of some of the key players behind these schemes and a bit more about the overarching plot... but if you want to run the adventures as stand alone ones, that's perfectly possible too. The party may never see the full picture, but they'll certainly have an influence on affairs nevertheless. There are suggestions of how to weave the adventures into your campaign, particularly if you intend to run all of them... and then we're off!

It all begins with The Silver Needle, where the party gets a chance to thwart some bandits who want to steal a wondrous artefact that's in Dale. But what are those orcs up to? Investigation proves it's a bit more than a simple heist... but it all begins with a traffic accident that throws chance travellers together as they wait for the obstruction to be cleared. Various individuals are introduced to give colour to the scene, and there are suggested topics for conversation that make the scene come to life, and may provide useful information as well. In due course, the party can attempt to seek out a bandit leader called Longo who has been plaguing the area, if they don't decide to do so themselves, someone will ask or even hire them to do so. A journey over inhospitable ground and even a swamp ensues... and so does a good scrap, during which they'll find out who Longo actually is. Back in Dale, things are coming to a head as his heist is concluded successfully and it's up to the party to do something about it!

Next comes Of Hammer and Anvils, where Bain himself needs a hand. It all begins in Dale and indeed most of the action is there although it eventually leads to Erebor. Poor Balin is attacked and the party gets the chance to save him. It appears that there's a concerted effort on his life, because he is attacked again, successfully. There's a conspiracy in progress, and the party can investigate... but every decision has consequences.

In Dungeons Deep throws the party into a potential quarrel between Erebor and Dale. It's all down to some long-lost treasure that's come to light, but it all begins with a missing scholar, who the party are asked to find. This adventure is a good one for making contacts with significant individuals, but there is plenty of combat as well, never fear, even though the final resolution takes place in a formal council meeting in which the party will be expected to participate. Then, in Sleeping Dragons Lie, the party ends up dealing with one that most definitely isn't asleep, but is annoyed and about to wreak destruction on Erebor. The party is commissioned to slay him before he can cause much trouble, however they have rivals in their quest... and there's other odd stuff going on as well. Watch out for the moving stones! There's an excellent climatic battle scene to round this adventure off.

Next, Dark Waters sees the party in Lake-town preparing to enjoy the festival of Dragontide. But the sculptor of a statue of Bard that is to be unveiled has gone missing, and his apprentice asks the party for their help in locating him. There's a lot of investigation, as one might imagine, but the party will findthemselves fighting for their lives as well. Layers upon layers mean that several people will have to answer for their actions - if they survive long enough.

Finally matters come to a head in Shadows in the North. Balin is warning of trouble, but is himself under the influence of malign forces. Danger is everywhere and the party needs to prioritise their response. By the end many personalities (who the party will have met if they played all the adventures) will have revealed their true colours and, hopefully, be brought to an accounting. The hand behind all the plots is revealed and the party has a chance to put paid to the entire plot. This is quite an edge-of-the-seat adventure, everyhting piling up at once and needing to be dealt with.

This is an excellent plot arc, exciting and meaningful and would make a good centre to a campaign, or a fascinating thread running through a campaign, as you see fit. Save the world from Sauron. Again.



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The One Ring - Laughter of Dragons
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The One Ring - Oaths of the Riddermark
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/11/2018 07:55:27

This book contains six loosely-connected adventures that can be strung together to create a plot arc that spans several years of game time. Or you can play any as a one-off event if that seems more appropriate to you campaign. They are all set in Rohan after the year 2955 when Thengel is on the throne, and it's assumed that the party are all Riders of Rohan or have entered Thengel's service if they are outsiders. Six pre-generated characters are provided, one of whom can be added to the party as liaison if you have already got a party of non-Riders who aren't very interested in a long-term relationship with Thengel. The people of Rohan are not too accepting of strangers, after all. (If you want to know all about them, it's probably worth getting a copy of Horse-Lords of Rohan, although there's enough of the basics here for you to be able to run the adventures without).

Each of the adventures stands well on its own, be it the hunt for a beast that's killing horses (horror!), brokering peace between bickering factions or killing orcs; but if you choose to use them all in sequence, they tell the tale of the troubles that beset Thengel during the early part of his reign, and the overarching plot concerns bringing peace and harmony to his realm. None is tied to a specific date and there's plenty of scope for you to insert your own adventures in between them. Several suggestions are presented for how to weave them in to the classic pace of The One Ring, depending on your preferences.

The first adventure, Blood on the Snow, starts in early spring and its main purpose (as well, of course, to stop whatever monster is killing horses in the Westfold region) is to bring the party to Thengel's attention and let them meet some of the great and the good of Rohan. Several companies have been engaged on this mission, and your party will be among them. Naturally, there's more going on that meets the eye, and opportunity for the party to investigate and figure stuff out as well as to fight. The end is suitably climactic.

The next adventure is Red Days Rising and it involves a diplomatic mission between a couple of feuding Marshals. Thengel has an idea that might get them to end their quarrel and wants the party to call on each in turn to persuade them to accept it. It's not all diplomancy, though, there are opportunities for more adventurous activities that may further the mission as well as satisfy those party members who enjoy a good fight! However there's plenty of interaction and intrigue too, and plenty of opportunities to win favour at Court.

Next up, Wrath of the Riders, with a summer of intrigue and smoldering rebellion awaiting the party. Plenty to do here, with peace to negotiate and the odd monster to fight. There's opportunity to take a pivotal role in affairs and have a lasting effect on the nation as a whole. This is followed by Black Horses, Black Deeds which is a quest after horse thieves. But can everybody the party meets be believed?

An autumnal adventure next, with Below the Last Mountain where there are some orc raiders to be dealt with. The party needs to hunt them down and point out the error of their ways, probably with swords. Orcs, after all, do not take hints well. The last adventure is The Woes of Winter, being set in that season, either immediately after Below the Last Mountain or in a succeeding winter. This involves a wedding which, it is hoped, will settle the feud between the two Marshals first encountered in Red Days Rising. Needless to say, there's a bit more involved that kicking back and enjoying the festivities.

Overall, this collection provides a compelling and well-balanced plot arc with plenty going on, really capturing the essence that is this particular setting. It's well worth considering, a fine addition to an excellent game.



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The One Ring - Oaths of the Riddermark
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Home of the Brave
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2018 08:24:27

Cyberpunk 2020 assumes from the outset that your 'punks are Americans, so an America sourcebook seems a good idea. In some seven chapters it explains just what happened to the US to change it from the world we knew in the early 1990s to the alternate future of 2020 in the game. The text is liberally splattered with FYI boxes (which contain information that can influence your game) and adventure hooks, which you can pick up and run with if you want.

Chapter 1: The Fall of America explains what went so horribly wrong. Opening with a piece of fiction describing a typical 2020 street scene, there's a year by year timeline. Events are interspersed with advances in technology that led to the capabilities of 2020. Apparently everything fell apart in 1996, although the rot started earlier with drug lords planting a nuke in New York and a stock market collapse. In 1996, however, martial law was declared after the President and Vice-president were both assassinated. Succeeding years saw things get worse and worse: wars and riots, famine, a massive earthquake in Los Angeles, the rise of corporations and ever advancing tech... and frequent references to 'the Gang of Four' who engaged in covert and sometimes overt manipulation of world affairs to their own agenda (and frequently to everyone else's detriment). This Gang of Four are not the Chinese, they are the DEA, the FBI, the CIA and the NSA - formidable foes in a civilised world, but increasingly less so in a world of corporate power, gang warfare and riots. Ultimately the military dealt with at least some of them, but were they really any better?

Then Chapter 2: The New America details how the current state of affairs came about. Martial rule brought about one of the bloodiest periods in American history. A huge number died from violence, famine or disease: many deaths could have been prevented were the 'authorities' interested in serving citizens rather than their own agendas. Individual states hoarded resources instead of sharing them. Family structures fell apart, being replaced by tribal and gang-based groupings. Without a proper upbringing, many youngsters are not properly socialised and their full potential not realised... nor have they had the example to raise children properly themselves when the time comes. The only exception are the children of corporate parents, who are raised somewhat impersonally by the corporation's day care and schooling facilities, but get well-educated. Education is expensive, and a lot relies on luck and who is around to teach. Corporate youngsters may get a good education, but not one that encourages critical thinking, and its very stressful. Nomad bands probably value education the most, and protect their youngsters as they acquire it. The job market has changed a lot too, and some sample characters are provided as illustration. The majority scrabble for every eurobuck and the few want for nothing, with little inbetween. Discussions of wages, purcharing power of your cash and the State Identification Number (SIN) possession of which indicates your existence as a legitimate citizen. Not everybody has one - but without it there are severe limits on what you can do. If you change states, you have to go through the rigmarole of reapplying. More background to everyday life is provided in a whirl through accommodation, information services, philosophical and religious treands and other matter pertinent to day-to-day living in what remains of America... even a few adverts, sample TV listings and the like for flavour.

This is followed by Chapter 3: The New American Government... the civics class for the 'punk of 2020. The whole nature of the Presidency has been changed, with the President being appointed by the Senate rather than being directly elected by the citizens and having more limited powers. Individual states have much more power than they ever did. Citizens still elect their senators, however, although the Senate has changed with each state returning 3 senators, being representatives of the 2 main cities and a corporate represtative to cover corporate interests, who is a member of the corporation that pays the most taxes in that state. The House of Representatives has been abolished. There is a Regional Committee which represents the self-sufficient 'regions' of the nation and wields great power. It's all a bit confusing: I had to read this bit several times to make sense of it. There are diagrams and explanations of how all the government departments now operate as well. Unless you have a politically-heavy game this is probably more than your 'punks will ever need to know... but it's fun to have the underlying structure laid out in detail. More importantly, taxes are raised almost completely via purchase tax, mostly because a lot of the population is paid cash in hand for jobs that may or may not be legal but certainly are not documented. The military are a significant power bloc, but the old political parties remain and the corporations are attempting to get into the political scene as well. Voting - which didn't happen during the period of martial rule - is regarded as anything from a fad to a deadly serious matter, depending which state you are in. Of more immediate interest is the discussion of the economy, which is tied up with the corporations - which in some places have risen to city-state like proportions. Many players won't really care how the items they purchase get to them or where the money they hand over goes - but if they do, all the information you need is here.

Next, Chapter 4: A Recent History of the Military looks at events over the past 30 years from a military standpoint. Several wars, starting with the First Central American War, and the period of martial rule stand out. It was in some respects a good time to be serving, but left a vast distrust between civilians and military personnel. Even once martial rule was revoked, the military still took an active part in governance. Meanwhile there were more wars - even in space - and an attempt to invade southwards (the Second Central American War) to grab land and resources, thinly disguised as a war on drugs... most of which were by then being synthesised in America itself. For inspiration look to the current TV show The Last Ship, a different history to the one presented here but with quite a few parallels - and a lot of ideas for adventure!

Staying with a military theme, Chapter 5: US Military Forces of 2020 gives a detailed breakdown of how they operate and who is in charge. And if you're nspired to enlist? Chaper 6: Military Soldiers explains how to create characters who are serving or have served in the military. This comes complete with appropriate skills for military roles and suitable lifepath events. You can use this to build a character with a military background or to play one who is still in the service. You can find military equipment lists here as well, there's even powered armour (although if that's your thing, put this down and get a copy of Maximum Metal instead!).

Finally, Chapter 7: The State of the Union provides a gazetteer of 2020 America. Thumbnail sketches of states, townships and other noteable locations all over America, with maps and plot hooks galore... and that's before you find the official 'plot hook' boxes that provide ideas for adventure! Interesting to note that Utah survived the bad times well, supported by what is referred to here as the 'Mormon Church' (actually the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) who in real life are keen on self-sufficiency and being prepared with things like food storage and 72-hour packs. They've not prospered since, but seem content with what they have.

So this sets the scene excellently for the companion book Land of the Free... or for your own adventures taking advantage of the bredth of opportunity available in America. There's a lot of material, some might find it too much, but it's all useful background and the section on creating military characters is excellent. The gazetter's useful if your party starts travelling, too...



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Home of the Brave
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Deep Space
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2018 13:08:59

It appears that in the Cyberpunk 2020 alternate history, space travel developed as it should have rather than stagnate after the Moon landings. There's a whole lot more up there than the International Space Station to play with, and here's the book to make it happen, starting off with the history of how they reached the current position and what's to be found on orbit and beyond. Mars and the Moon host thriving colonies and there's a lot of orbital habitats on orbit - factories, military outposts and the like. The European Space Agency (ESA) controls the Moon, and both ESA and NASA have bases on Mars. The asteroid belt is being mined, often by crazy daredevil freelancers. The historical timeline shows that all this development has not been devoid of bickering and even outright warfare, including rebellion of the 'highriders' living in ESA orbital facilities which broke free of their control. Russians and Japanese are also found operating in space, and several Corporations have a foothold as well, including the International Electric Corporation (IEC) and the Utopian Corporation (UC), a spin-off from Mircotech. There are over forty space facilities on Earth from which missions can be launched and conrtolled.

The final part of the first section is a table of communication lags between different parts of the solar system. But space is more dangerous than that, as the next section The Environment of Space conveys. There are three critical factors governing life in space: atmosphere, radiation and gravity. Neglect any of these at your peril. Atmosphere, of course, covers pressure as well as having the right stuff to breathe. Tucked away are the rules for when things go wrong, neatly added in so as not to divert the narrative. Due to the need to maintain pressure, guns are not welcome in space. If you need to defend yourself with lethal force, use a knife or your bare hands. Characters born and raised in space have a completely different attitude to gravity than those coming from dirtside. There's no magic here, if you want gravity in a micro-g environment, you have to apply spin, and the lack thereof has physical consequences. I've not mentioned radiation at all, that's plain nasty!

This is followed by a section on Getting around the Solar System. It covers the four main types of spacecraft: surface-to-orbit, orbital transfer vehicles, surface-to-space and deep space ships (which are still in development). All the vehicles presented are quite plausible. Drive systems, computers and even weapons are discussed in some detail, along with the running costs of maintaining your own spacecraft. SPace travel is expensive even if you just want to take a single journey. There's a fair bit about navigation as well as space combat. Don't. Just don't.

There's a section on Equipment and Weapons which starts with that all-important accessory, the space suit, which of course includes a list of the ways they can fail and what to do about it. Manoeuvering units, vehicles, and specialised tools for use in space are also included. There's also a slew of handy things no sensible spacer leaves home without, and plenty survival gear. Don't skimp here! For the violent, there's a selection of weapons that will work in space, hopefully without killing you as well.

Next, Artificial Habitats describes the wide range of places you can live and work in out in the black ranging from workshacks (about the size of the ISS) to the vast orbital stations like Crystal Palace, a couple of kilometers across and able to house tens of thousands, and then of course there are the bases on the Moon and Mars.

Finally Living and Working in Space introduces Highrider culture, the unique culture developed by those who live in space, rather than visit it. For one thing, they don't drink, smoke or do drugs much, preferring a clear head and clear atmsophere. They find their own pleasures in story telling, braindance simulations- a shared virtual reality - and custom drugs that give a quick effect but leave the mind unclouded. Most Cyberpunk Roles can adapt well to space, and there are details about the sort of work that's available... plus a few new skills to make it more feasible. There are notes on food and drink, politics and the main corporations to work for (or against) too.

But there's more, a whole adventure in space. Called Red Conflict, it can serve to introduce an existing party to life in space... but will probably be a one-way trip. Or it could be the start of a whole new campaign. The possibilities are as limitless as space itself.

Oveerall this book is excellent with loads of potential for exciting adventure yet thoroughly grounded in technology that is plausible and physics that is real.



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Deep Space
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Protect & Serve
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2018 12:19:42

This is the law enforcement sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2020, and contains plenty of useful material whichever side of the law your party might end up on, even though the primary intention is to facilitate 'police procedural' play Cyberpunk-style. It opens with the Cop's Oath, not one actually sworn but the principles by which a good police officer should live, and some scene-setting fiction.

First up, Hitting the Streets, a section covering all you need to know to create a cop character. OK, you will need the core rulebook as well, but all the police stuff is here. It's replete with atmospheric fiction and commentary, from a snippet from an instructor at the police academy to a five-year veteran musing on how he got into law enforcement, following in the footsteps of his father... and losing his first partner only a few minutes into his first ever patrol. Character generation follows the normal path as laid out in the core rulebook until age 18, when it's assumed the character joins the police and there are appropriate lifepath events to cover however long you intend him or her to be on the job before you start play. Cop is presented as a new Role, with a starting skills package and the special ability Authority. There's one new skill, remote systems operation: basically flying drones. There are notes on ranks, pay, and basic equipment as well as the sort of commendations good cops might receive.

The next chapter, By The Book, explains in copious detail correct police procedure, beginning with how to make an arrest. Get it right or the charges won't stick, whatever evidence you think you have. Details of police equipment, departmental structure and more flesh out your cop character's working life. If you want to specialise, there's plenty on the different divisions with details on what they do and the special equipment and skills they have. Don't all home in on SWAT, you can have a lot of fun with other specialisms too... but if SWAT seems a bit tame, specialise in cyberpsychosis takedowns with MAX-TAC instead. There are notes and statistics for anxillary services such as paramedics, forensics and the coroner too, along with details of confidential informants and more. And then there's undercover work...

This is followed by a section called Good Guys and Bad Guys. This looks at governmental anti-crime forces and at organised crime, along with 'corporate cops' and corporations in general. Just as the default assumption is that characters will be cops in Night City - the NCPD - it is assumed that the national law enforcement agencies they will have to deal with are American ones. As real-world UK law enforcement, for example, has developed some similar organisations such as the National Crime Agency (established 2013) it ought not to be too difficult to make appropriate changes if your game is located elsewhere. There's loads of detail about organisation and resources, and some 'typical' agents. There's also information about HiWay Cops - who patrol the open road - and bounty hunters. There's plenty of detail on organised crime as well, with the concept of organised crime as big business (hasn't it always been) and seperate bits on the Yakuza, Mafia and Triads. Corporate crime is also explored. The list of what they might get up to sounds very like the list of things I teach my students are appropriate things to consider becoming a whistleblower about! There's a nasty twist in that nowadays corporations are entitled to claim Corporate Immunity for individuals caught in wrong-doing. They fight each other too, and are known to move against the government. Plenty of scope for adventures here, for both law enforcement campaigns and more conventional ones. This section rounds out with gangs, including notes on various different types of gangs likely to be encountered.

OK, we've met some of the criminals, now the next section - You're Busted! - lists the crimes that people in 2020 can be charged with. It also covers the legal system, and the punsihments handed out on conviction. Most of the offenses sound familiar, with the addition of things like having unlicenced cyberware and illegal netrunning. They are grouped into six priority levels with Priority One crimes being the most serious ones - mass murder, terrorism, espionage, etc. For most of these the penalty on conviction is death. High Priority crimes (priority 1 or 2) involve the loss of civil rights when accused - no right to remain silent or to consult a lawyer before being questioned about it. Trial by jury is long gone, a judge decides whether prosecution or defence has the right of it, and determines sentence if they decide to convict. There's a formula provided to help you work out if the individual before the court is guilty of what he's being accused of doing, based on the evidence provided. Insanity is not a defence, anyone claiming that is sent to a secure mental facility until cured.. and then stand trial for what they did. With a Priority One offence, they don't bother with the mental facility but proceed straight to execution. If anyone wants to play a lawyer, the necessary details for that role are provided. You'll be needing NPC ones in any case.

Then there's a section aimed at the Referee. Here there are details of running a law enforcement campaign, cop personnel files, disciplinary actions and a sample precinct house. Finally there is a section with several law-enforcement mini-scenarios to get your campaign off to a good start with smuggling, gang warfare, vehical highjacks and more to contend with.

Police procedural games can be great fun, and the Cyberpunk 2020 setting makes it appealing as there is plenty of scope for combat as well as for sleuthing. Even for a normal campaign, few parties remain on the right side of the law so it's useful to know what will be brought against them. Like The Clash they will soon be singing "I fought the law, and the law won!"



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Protect & Serve
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Corporation Report 2020 Vol. 3
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2018 08:04:45

This is the third in a series presenting detailed information about some of the massive multinational corporations that rival nation-states in the Cyberpunk 2020 vision of the world. This time the spotlight falls on two energy companies: Petrochem and SovOil. Like the other CorpBooks, this one provides loads of background to really bring corporations to life in your game, major players who maybe hire the party, or oppose them... or are the target of their activities.

The idea is threefold. Firstly,to provide information to enable you to use the corporation to effect in your game, with details of facilities and personnel to interact with and the like. Secondly, to give you information on what each corporation is trying to do - and what they say they want to do, which may be quite different - to enable the building of sophisticated high-stakes plots. Thirdly, to add depth and realism whenever the corporations in question show up in the game. There's also sufficient material to use each corporation in character backgrounds, or as employers.

We start off with notes on the Second Corporate War, which involved Petrochem and SovOil navies duking it out on the South China Sea. This section provides a fascinating insight into corporate warfare as a whole, explaining how the rise in corporate armed forces came about and how they are used to further the ends of the corporation in question. The Second Corporate War was a three-year affair that involved these two corporations squabbling over oil fields in the South China Sea.

Next comes a detailed look at Petrochem and then SovOil, with the corporation's history, a look at the main products and services that they offer, along with their stated (and unstated) corporate goals and market strategies. Then we get down to detail with notable individuals within the corporation, their major offices and other facilities and even notes on company uniforms. Don't laugh, if you want to infiltrate, the best way is to look like you belong... There are also hints about using that corporation in your game and a complete, if small, adventure you can run involving them. Reading the entries will spawn plenty more ideas, however.

Petrochem is the world's biggest producer of the synthetic alcohol fuel CH00H2, that is the standard fuel that's replaced oil, petrol, etc. It's less polluting, but no alcoholic, however desperate, should try drinking it! SovOil is the world leader in oil production, Petrochem being one of the few other corporations to still work in this area. Most of the money is in what you can make from oil, rather than in the oil itself. There are extensive notes on what can be made: chemicals, weapons and more. Petrochem also has a thriving agricultural business.

The whole book is well-resourced and illustrated, with lots of sketches to bring things to life. One oddity, the word 'the' is often replaced by 'die' - whether this is an error or deliberate to give a slight linguistic shift isn't clear. There's enough material to make both corporations major players in your game and the two scenarios let the party get to know just a little about them. For Petrochem, they uncover illegal dumping of toxic waste and end up nose-to-nose with the corporation. For SovOil, the adventure is an espionage one where the party gets caught up between SovOil and Petrochem with potentially lethal results.

This is a useful addition, bringing corporations that are of vital importance but perhaps lower profile - certainly on the average gamer's radar - than weapons manufacturers and security/military contractors.



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Corporation Report 2020 Vol. 3
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Eurotour: Danger & Death on a Euro-Rock Tour
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2018 07:44:14

One of the almost throwaway suggestions for a campaign in the Cyberpunk 2020 is brought to life in this book. The idea is that the party form part of the entourage of a rock band on tour. They might be techies and stage hands, media people handling publicity, security, or even band members. Here, an American musician called Jack Entropy is embarking on a tour of Europe, and within this framework there are six full adventures provided - plus, of course, whatever you can dream up to embellish proceedings further. It's suitable for beginning characters - if they are more experienced, you might want to beef up the opposition. It's recommended that you also read Eurosource so as to be able to set the scene to best effect.

The suggestion for starting the campaign is that the party are also Americans who for some reason find themselves stranded in Liverpool, England, and in need of work. A few ideas are given about how this might happen; you'll need to tailor them to your own party. Depending on their roles, party members will be able to hire on for various jobs on Entropy's tour - a chance to earn money, gain some new and interesting entries on their resumes, and get the necessary paperwork to operate in Europe legally. Highlight the differences between Europe and America. It's a lot more civilised, and your average Night City 'punk will stand out like a sore thumb in many places. This should quite often cause them problems all on its own, even before they start doing something untoward or, perish the thought, illegal.

The adventures provided are varied, involving rescuing Entropy from a spot of bother with British gangs and a kidnapping attempt, protecting a graffiti artist providing some publicity for the tour in an unorthodox manner, dealing with a bomb plot and getting mixed up in a revolution. There's also an overarcing theme which leaves you to decide who is the villain out of six possible candidates, by providing six options whenever the party might pick up a clue that Something Is Going On.

There's loads of detail to bring everything to life: exotic locations, detailed biographies of members of the tour and other key players, heck, even the bit-part players get an evocative sentence or two to provide a thumbnail sketch you can use to good effect. Oh, and snippets from the press.

This campaign sourcebook manages to be something quite different from the usual and yet completely cyberpunk. Certainly worth a try if you're after something novel.



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Eurotour: Danger & Death on a Euro-Rock Tour
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Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0. The Second Edition, Version 2.01
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/12/2018 08:28:10

No preamble, this just jumps straight in to Life on the Edge with Section 1: Soul & the New Machine - encapsulating the in-your-face attitude that's at the core of the cyberpunk genre. Sidebars fill in details and quotes from celebrities of the cyberpunk world like musician Johnny Silverhand provide flavour as the text explains the core pragmatic survivalist with a touch of idealism approach that the true 'Punk takes to life. An overview of future history, written as if in the year 2020 looking back to the late 1980s shows how the world came to be in the state that it is - and is quite entertaining when read in the real 2018... yes we do have the 'Net, but other aspects - such as incorporating cybertechnologies into our own bodies - haven't happened yet.

It's all style over substance, projecting attitude, living on the edge. Before we know it, we're reading about the 'roles' (Cyberpunk's version of character class) and their special abilities. There are nine roles - Rockerboys, Solos, Netrunners, Corporates, Techies, Cops, Fixers, Medias and Nomads - and each have something to bring to the party, something unique to that role. Each one gets a couple of pages explaining where they fit and what they can do... and these are vivid enough that you can easily envisage a campaign built around any of them.

Next comes Section 2: Getting Cyberpunk. This covers character creation. It's basically a point-buy system, with the numbers of points you have either assigned by the GM based on the style of game they have in mind or randomly by rolling 9d10 and adding them together. There are nine Statistics to spend them on (Intelligence, Reflexes, Cool, Technical Ability, Luck, Attractiveness, Movement Allowance, Empathy and Body). Many things like strength, endurance and so on that normally form core game statistics are calculated from these nine in this system. Then you choose skills, with a vast range of different ones mainly associated with your chosen role (but you can cross-train), and at this point a mechanic for 'Fast and Dirty Expendables' is introduced for those not wishing to spend ages pouring over the options. It's quick enough to be recommended for making NPCs as well.

This is followed by possibly the most interesting part of character creation, Section 3: Tales from the Street. This is where you put some substance into the character with a mechanic called Lifepath that builds some background... it's a flowpath that covers national/ethnic origins, family, friends, enemies, personal habits and key events from your past... all of which may have an influence on your present. You can roll dice, or pick what you fancy from the options, as you please. If I don't have a vivid idea of who the character is, I start out with the dice, then change things as the character begins to come to life. Starting with some notes on personal style (clothes, hairdo and accessories), you find out nationality and language, a fair bit of detail about your family, and about what motivates you before you reach the Lifepath proper. Basically for each year over the age of 16, there's a chance that something happened that year. This is where it is fun to let the dice loose... and the GM will likely have a field day with the trail you have left through time. It's something that can be fun to play with in an idle moment, even if you don't have a game coming up!

Section 4: Working looks at tasks and skills in great detail, starting with a look at how to check if you have succeeded in whatever you are trying to do, applicable die modifiers and so on. The basic mechanic involves adding the appropriate statistic to a single applicable skill and rolling 1d10 against a GM-set target, or against someone else's roll if it is an opposed task. Now you know how to use skills, we move on to look at what skills are available and how to acquire them. You get ten career skills associated with the role you have chosen, and forty points to spend on them. You also get 'pickup skills' to further customise the character. There's a detailed listing of skills and what you can do with them to help you choose (although I still worry about a game that has 'Resist Torture/Drugs' as a skill... it's not one I want to have to use!). For those who like to invent, there are notes on creating new roles and new skills, although there's plenty here. The approach to martial arts is quite interesting, allowing for a lot of variety without getting bogged down in excessive detail.

Now it's time to equip our new character, with Section 5: Getting Fitted for the Future which covers weapons, armour and 'gear' - most everything else. Apart from cyberware which comes later in its own section. Here we find talk of the typical lifestyle (rootless and disposable), find out how much the character earns, and check on encumberance (important when you carry most of what you own), before looking at weapons in great detail. Armour and everything else have much smaller sections.

Then, Section 6: Putting the Cyber into the Punk does just that. It starts off talking about style and image, but soon veers off into cyberpsychosis, a mental illness that can affect someone who replaces or augments so much of his body that he runs the risk of losing touch with his human side. Suitably advised of the risks, we then move on to the cyberwear itself. Some of it is fluff, some has practical application, sometimes even combat use... but there's page upon page of it, plenty of choice for everyone. Some characters start off with some, others choose to get 'cybered-up' later on when funds permit... or when injury requires replacement body parts. In true Cyberpunk style, there are 'fashionware' modifications like hair that changes colour or a watch implanted in your wrist rather than being worn on it, as well as replacement limbs, implanted weapons and neuralware that enhances thought processes, memory, and has other effects depending on just quite what you have installed. A common enhancement is the interface plug, vital for netrunners, but useful if you operate any kind of machinery - or a smart gun - that you want to control by mind rather than physically. The one drawback is that these are all expensive. Various ways for getting the cash are discussed, but all involve selling out in some manner, and may have other consequences.

Now things start hotting up with Section 7: Friday Night Firefight. This is the combat system for the game, and is covered in extensive detail. It opens with the statement that the game mechanics have been designed with an eye to realism rather than to Hollywood-style 'heroes never miss and never run out of bullets' concepts, and then gets down to details. Combat is conducted in rounds representing about three seconds, and each conscious combatant gets to do something each round. Just what you can do and how it is done is covered in almost-scary detail... but once you have the hang of it, it actually flows pretty well. If combat is your thing, it is an excellent and comprehensive system, capable of handling as much detail and realism that you want. If you are less interested, it can be abstracted... or you may find it too dangerous and avoid a brawl whenever possible! There are loads of hints and tips about how to fight to best effect which are well worth reading, even if you don't intend to engage in combat: you often do not get the option!

Possibly just as well, the next section is Section 8: Trauma Team. This covers everything you need to know about medicine and the healing arts... and death. Fortunately in this vision of the near-future, there's a fast-response paramedic corporation (called TraumaTeam) who guarantee to get to you within seven minutes wherever you are... provided you pay the subscription! Assuming medical help is available, the process of getting better from whatever trauma or disease has laid you low is covered. One point is that this is no fantasy game: even with modern/futuristic technology, it takes time to recover from illness or injury. It's not just emergency medicine either, this section covers the medical aspects of getting cyberwear too, as well as notes on 'bodysculpting' - which sounds a bit better than cosmetic surgery. There's also considerable detail on TraumaTeam's operations. They come combat-ready, with security personnel as well as paramedics, so a wounded subscriber can literally be picked up while the fight's still going on (you could even run a campaign based on a TraumaTeam's exploits, or one I did that involved several rival paramedic services engaged in a turf war...).

Next, Section 9: Drugs looks at everything from medical-grade pharmacuticals to combat enhancers and recreational compounds. Many are literally designed to be addictive, so perhaps they are best left alone. On the other hand, if you prefer to design your own, there are rules for that as well.

Then comes perhaps the defining bit, Section 10: Netrunner. A lot of people are scared of this... and it can be quite hard in the middle of a session to cater for the party net-head without leaving the rest of the group sitting around getting bored. Some GMs even refuse to have netrunner characters, but it does add something special to the game if you manage to handle it. There's a lot about the 'geography' and functioning of the Net - and it's interesting reading looking back from present-day familiarity with the World Wide Web and the ease of net-browsing without plugging in bare-brained! Equipment and programs are covered here, along with the nasty things that can happen to the incautious or unlucky who pokes into some corner of the Net where they ought not to be. If you do want to do some serious netrunning, all the game mechanics you'll need are here - including how to build systems to be attacked, and how to create your own programs; but remember, there's a lot that the party netrunner can do whilst remaining (mostly) in the real world, even during a brawl or an intrusion.

Now it's time to look in more detail at the world you'll inhabit, with Section 11: All Things Dark and Cyberpunk. There's a future history timeline from 1990 to 2020. The European Union has become a monolithic trading bloc, space exploration - at least orbital - is flourishing, and corporations are taking the place of nation-states, even to the extent of having wars with each other. Plenty of commentary to put meat on the timeline's bones, to show you how everything developed to the current state. Law and order is discussed, and it's a harsh system of retribution... so best not to be caught! Any semblance of arms control, even in the USA, has gone completely out of the window, and self defence is an acceptable excuse. However, self-driving cars have not been developed although here it's possible to control your vehicle by thought by jacking in to it, although that's quite rare and expensive. People still write letters, or they can send faxes instead - e-mail appears not to have been developed. Newspapers flourish and there are some 186 TV channels. It's all a fascinating look at what the future might have been... but it created a fun world when written, and works well as an alternate path when played today.

Section 12: Running Cyberpunk tries to answer the question of "How do I run this game?" Plenty of ideas about how to set the scene of the gritty urban underbelly in which it always seems to be raining... There are staggering contrasts between the haves and the have-nots, and it's never clear who can be trusted and who is double-crossing you. Play it hard and fast. A bibliography is provided to help GMs immerse themselves in the atmosphere and style of the cyberpunk genre. There are suggestions for how to coax the normally antisocial and individualistic 'punks into teams, so that your group can work together.

Next, Section 13: Never Fade Away is ostensibly fiction to get you in the moon... but it is resourced enough with maps, stats for the main characters and other details that you could convert it into a scenario. This is followed by Section 14: Megacorps 2020, which provides background material on the nature of these vast organisations and how they impact with the day-to-day life of the average 'punk on the street. There are plenty of adventure ideas here, there's money to be made on the fringes as corporations often hire deniable assets to do their dirty work. There are outline sketches of several of the largest and best-known corporations, covering a brief history and listing their assets. I always giggle at one - Microtech - because I worked for a company of the same name when this book first came out. It was a tiny software house rather than a monster builder of hardware, though!

Finally an introduction to the default setting in Section 15: Night City provides you with a ready-made urban environment to run your game. There's a lot of detail here (and a whole supplement dedicated to it if you want...), with locations, personalities, suggested encounters and a collection of 'screamsheets' (print-on-demand newspapers) that provide a wealth of adventure ideas, some of which have been expanded for you. Of course, you might prefer to use your own home town - just use the material here to give it a cyberpunk spin.

This game has given me hours of innocent amusement over the years, from both sides of the GM's screen, as well as having written several convention scenarios. It has worn well, and is still playable today, especially for lovers of gritty underbellies of the future, with an excellent if extremely detailed combat system that pulls no punches. Still well worth the getting if you like this genre!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0. The Second Edition, Version 2.01
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Delta Green: Handler's Screen
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/05/2018 08:41:52

Never mind the game, it's nice to have someplace to squirrel away your notes and roll dice where players cannot see them... and if it has something useful to contribute that's even better!

This one has four panels. The side for the Handler has various useful tables, presented in a somewhat jumbled way reminiscent of a hastily-assembled pin-board - it's worth becoming familiar with where everything is before you need to refer to it in the heat of play.

The tables include a range of ones for using skills, including some useful advice - "Don't roll dice if things are calm and under control, do roll dice if it's a crisis and things are out of control" - as well as loads of ideas for modifiers to use depending on the situation and how hard the thing being accomplished happens to be. There are also combat actions and combat modifiers, a whole selection of other ways to do damage to the party, and finally one panel on SAN and the lack thereof... all the game mechanics you're going to need neatly tabulated.

The player side is a collage of rather blurry artwork, the best bit of which is an image of someone practising on the shooting range. Either a distraction as you try to figure out what the rest is, or something you'll get tired of looking at really quickly.

You also get a copy of the quickstart module Need to Know, which can be obtained for free as a PDF download, so this seems quite highly priced for the downloadable version. Best go for the hard copy version so you don't have to print the thing out and get a paperback copy of Need to Know into the bargain.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Handler's Screen
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Delta Green: Kali Ghati
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/02/2018 09:54:23

The situation is simple. A Delta Green operative has gone missing from a US military base in Afghanistan. The party, also Delta Green operatives, are sent to find out what happened - and retrieve the missing person if possible. It's assumed that the party are already in Afghanistan - as soldiers, intelligence agents, civilian contractors or the like - and some pregenerated characters are provided if required. In a delightful twist, they're told that whatever they really are, they will pose as CIA agents who are posing as Army intelligence specialists and civilian advisors... and of course, they are not supposed to let on that they are CIA, never mind Delta Green!

The background information for the Handler (GM) explains what the missing man was doing, and why he was in this particular base in the first place. There's also comprehensive information about the base itself and the few people still there - it was in the process of being handed over to the Afghani Army as the Americans reduce their presence in country. Gathering information about the agent's disappearance will require a lot of interaction, and all that's needed to role-play this to effect is provided. Everything seems to be centred on a mysterious village called Kali Ghati, which nobody seems prepared to admit exists, let alone want to go there.

This should be enough to get the party wanting to go there. Naturally, it's not exactly safe driving through Taliban-infested country, never mind the sort of issues Delta Green is there to combat... and there's a neat firefight to get through before they actually reach the place (not to mention that they might be on foot by then, with a harsh environment to contend with along with all their other ills). Eventually they'll get there, and find a weird bunch of villagers to interact with - again, you're given what you need to make them come alive in the game.

The climax of the adventure takes place in a cliff-top temple, which the party will have to climb up to and explore... and survive, if they can. Overall, it's a neat little adventure suitable for use as a one-off or campaign starter (for either of which you might use the pre-generated characters) or, if you have a reasonably military-oriented group, something you can weave into an existing campaign. Alien horrors, unfamiliar cultures, sheer desperation that could so easily turn into despair... it's all here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Kali Ghati
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #40: Devil in the Mists
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/01/2018 10:13:21

The pollution in Fair Haven is getting really bad... there's this blue mist that is killing some of the inhabitants and sending many of the rest insane. It seems to be coming from the sewers, so of course any adventurer worth the name will be straight down there to find out what's going on.

The DM notes begin with an overview of the adventure, there's an encounter list, scaling information, and some notes on how best to get the party involved. This adventure can be run as a sequel to DCC7: The Secret of Smuggler's Cove, but if you don't want to do that there are a couple of other ideas to propel them in the right direction. There's also plenty background material to make sure that you're clear about what's actually going on and how it came about... underpinning it all is a devilish plot to turn the world into another plane of Hell!

The adventure proper begins with an investigation into the noisome sewers of Fair Haven. They're cramped, smelly, and there are always traces if not pockets of the deadly blue mist. Also, there are wandering monsters to contend with. There is also a magnificent puzzle/trap that appears to be the key to dealing with the mist. This includes a riddle that appears almost out of thin air, for which a handout is supplied. It's noted that a particularly harsh DM might show it only to the player of the character who sees it, and snatch it away after the 30 seconds for which it appears (I had a DM play a similar trick on me once... the poor dear didn't know I have a near-photographic memory and just wrote out the message that had faded before my character's eyes!). There's a lot more to find, to fight, and to puzzle out down here. And the smell never gets any better!

As the riddles of the sewers are solved and the inhabitants put to the sword, eventually the party should open a portal to... well, somewhere else. They get sucked in, it's unavoidable. It's a dimensional prison, caging something that really, really ought not to be allowed out; and it's full of cryptic traps and puzzles. They are partly to keep the inmates in and partly to stop anyone breaking in to rescue them, and there's a third, darker, purpose (which could lead to further adventures...). A mix of aggression and cunning is needed here. Nothing is what it seems, but all is extremely dangerous. Indeed, it's likely that not all the party will survive. There is layer upon layer, you think you've reached the end and yet another level opens before you...

The end is suitably dramatic, with the party returned to a sunny Fair Haven with an enigmatic voice ringing in their ears. There are some ideas for follow-up adventures too. If you want a wild ride of deadly danger with the well-being of the very world at stake, look no further!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #40: Devil in the Mists
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #39: DM Screen and Adventure
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2018 09:42:56

This is a first-level adventure, but as usual the challenges facing the party are not trivial. A bunch of bandits calling themselves the Broken Knives has been purloining treasures from local temples and have made their base in a ruined castle. A party cleric may serve one of the burgled temples, or the party may just see notices advertising for adventurers to raid the bandits in the local town (Grozny if you're using the default world of Aereth).

The information for the DM includes an encounter list, scaling information, location notes and extensive background mainly centred on Castle Churo, explaining why it is in such a battered state and what effects result from that... it used to belong to a magician called Churo, whose experiments with high-powered magic were ultimately his downfall. This was some thirty years ago. Meanwhile, in town there are five religions competing for power and worshippers, and these recently started suffering losses of valuable relics from their temples...

Rather unusually for this series, the adventure itself begins with the party being brought before the town's religious council, which has representatives of all five religions - three of which have been robbed. The thefts were carried out by subterranean tunnels into their storerooms and although the tunnels collapsed behind the thieves, they appear to lead back to Castle Churo. After they are briefed on the missing items, they might want to gather rumours before heading on up there. And that's where the real fun starts...

Room descriptions paint the picture well, and there's a lot going on wherever the party should venture. This is all backed up with details of monsters/NPCs, their stats and likely reactions to party intrusions, and notes of what's available to loot if the party is victorious. A few handouts are included to help players understand what their characters can see. There are some innovative traps and effects for the party to navigate... and this is before they venture into the catacombs beneath the castle ruins. The adventure is wound up neatly with several alternative outcomes, with the possibility of further action if the fellow behind the thefts evades them, or goes undetected.

It's a coherent adventure, with every encounter having a good reason to be where it is. A neat way for a new adventuring party to start building their reputations.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #39: DM Screen and Adventure
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #38: Escape from the Forest of Lanterns
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2018 07:59:32

Be careful what you read! You often find magic tomes that have an effect on those that read them, but here's a truly evil effect... being dumped into a bizarre adventure based on children's fairy stories. A bit trite even if you like them, pure torture if you don't.

The DM is provided with a synopsis of the adventure, a list of encounters, scaling information, and some plot hooks to get the party trapped... er, I mean, involved in the adventure. As the adventure involves a visit to a demiplane, you can run it from anywhere although there is a suggestion for a start-point if you are using the default world of Aereth. This demiplane consists of a massive dark forest and there's plenty of information to help you set the scene. It's not just the strange location, weird things happen to the party too - but there's full coverage on how to handle that as well. Turning them into children, perhaps... but SIX years of age sounds a bit young.

The adventure proper begins when the party examines what turns out to be an animated book of children's stories. It proves to be very chatty and friendly, and eventually asks if it may tell a story to the whole party when they are together - perhaps of an evening seated around a campfire or otherwise taking their ease. And so it tells the tale of The Warty Witch and the Forest of Lanterns, about two young children who got lost in said forest and defeated the Witch to escape. The book then suggests that it might be fun to see it all firsthand...

Needless to say, the Forest of Lanterns to which the party are transported (whether or not they think it might be 'fun') is darker and nastier than the storybook version. There are plenty of wandering monsters and set-piece encounters to keep the party 'entertained' and even those who will talk rather than fight are unfriendly.Indeed there's a nasty undercurrent through the entire adventure, with assorted creatures attempting to toy with the party, messing them about for their own amusement. Somewhere in the middle is the Witch's cottage (made out of gingerbread of course), which has two floors, a tower and a dungeon underneath.

The adventure should end with the defeat of the Witch and the discovery of a way to get home, but there are other options... even the dire one of continuing in similar vein with a series of such adventures - a couple are outlined and suggestions of other modules you could adapt are provided. Be sure your group actually like this sort of thing. It's well put together but the whole concept is one that they may find repellant. It's not for me... although I may be inspired by the magical book to create one that can transport a party to places I'd actually enjoy visiting!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #38: Escape from the Forest of Lanterns
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #37: The Slithering Overlord
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/23/2018 08:18:59

This is a classic delve, sending the party deep underground to rescue hostages and loot treasure from marauding troglodytes, complete with a 'boss' encounter with the Slithering Overlord himself! (Or herself, it's a bit hard to tell...). The default version is that the party is hired by the Order of the Invincible Sun to go down there to kill monsters and loot their stuff, but alternative reasons are provided or you may come up with a good one of your own.

The DM's Notes include a synopsis of the adventure, an encounter list, scaling information, a note on where this adventure is set if you are using the Dungeon Crawl Classics default world of Aereth, the promised other hooks to get the party involved and an extensive background for the adventure. It appears that there's a lot going on in this particular underground domain, with the Slithering Overlord himself having been driven out of his original home and having taken refuge here, and rival species contesting space with his own followers. Oddly, the Order of the Invincible Sun is described as a paramilitary religious order, which rather begs the question as to why they don't take care of business for themselves rather than hiring a bunch of adventurers to do it for them.

The underground setting is made up of three distinct 'sub-dungeons' which the party can explore pretty much as they please. There are a lot of unmapped narrow corridors connecting them, they are uninhabited and it's up to you whether the party has to explore them or if you just tell them that after a few hours they reach... wherever it is you want them next. The monsters to be found here are all integrated into their locations, each has a clear reason to be precisely where they will be encountered - often with an ingenious backstory of their own, which the party may or may not find out. Its very existance makes them more believable, however. In flagrant disregard of stated Dungeon Crawl Classics policy, some of them are prepared to chat if the party doesn't attack them out of hand... this raises the adventure to new heights as the party can, if they wish, try to figure out what's going on rather than merely kill every creature they meet and steal their stuff. (Interestingly, this option is found in many of the adventures, but it's particularly noticeable here.) Needless to say, some encounters are out-and-out combat ones, with monsters that attack on sight!

The final area, where the Slithering Overlord lives, has some... unusual denizens, the flora and fauna alike should prove quite a surprise. The Overlord himself is presented as an utter 'Baddie', but you might want to treat him a little more sympathetically. Options for future adventure are provided based on whether or not the party defeats him, and provide scope for some interesting and unique plotlines if you so wish. As a 'dungeon delve' this is a particularly good one!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #37: The Slithering Overlord
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #36: Talons of the Horned King
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/22/2018 08:13:01

This arctic adventure sees the party helping a town that's beset by strange creatures who, it appears, have already made off with a local lordling. They'll have to travel through icy wastes and unravel a mystery around a druidic circle. What lurks beneath?

The DM is provided with a synopsis of the adventure, an encounter list, scaling information, a few ideas for getting the party involved, a note on treasure available, and a detailed background story. Provide your own warm socks! If you are using the default Dungeon Crawl Classics world of Aeryth, there's a note suggesting where to locate this adventure; if you are using your own campaign world find a reasonably isolated arctic area with a settlement nearby. It explains that the Talons of the Horned King is a mysterious and ancient structure mostly buried in the ice, with a 'crown' of metal spikes - the talons - on a vast depiction of a human face, or at least, that's what it looks like. Nobody knows who made it. A strange species of large hairy humanoids are said to live nearby but they are shy, gentle beasts rarely seen. Recently, after a shooting star was seen in the area, they have become more aggressive, attacking anyone they encounter with almost mindless ferocity... and then, for the DM's eyes only, the underlying truth is revealed.

The adventure proper begins with the party beginning their final approach to the Talons, facing a narrow twisty ravine they must traverse to get there. The wind and snow are fierce, and they'd better take precautions to stay warm (there are some notes on handling cold weather through game mechanics). Other perils await... and there's stuff to find that will help the party later on.

Then magic starts to behave oddly, and strange balls of blue energy can be seen floating around... and that's just the beginning of the strangeness that is to be found as the adventure progresses... and then the party finds its way underground and that's when things get downright weird!!!

Descriptions are detailed and evocative, backed up by a selection of player handouts to let the group 'see what you mean'. The whole adventure hangs very well, especially considering the more bizarre aspects, and there's a nice mix of brawling, problem-solving, trap-evasion and the odd conversation to keep the party entertained.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #36: Talons of the Horned King
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