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Champions: The Super Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Hero Games
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/27/2022 06:20:13

A comprehensive overview of a classic superhero role-playing game. Well edited, full colour layout (in the PDF) and confidently written with real authority. You will not find a more encycopedic book about the hostory of the genre or running games of this type. The provision of customisable archetypes is welcome, as it provides a quick way to get into the game which is appreciable given the compexity of the standard character generation process.

You do need a core rule book to play it, however, whether it is Champions Complete or the Hero System volumes. It is a pity the developers didn't simply expand the book to make it complete the first time round.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Champions: The Super Roleplaying Game
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The Spinward Extents
Publisher: Mongoose
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/25/2022 19:26:40

Following the, now familiar format of Mongoose Traveller 2E sourcebooks, this one details two sectors of Charted Space that lie way beyond the Third Imperium (Vanguard Reaches and The Beyond). You get the various zone maps, new careers (Storm Knights), spacecraft and aliens specific to each area and a write up of the history and key worlds. This one is meatier than most (370 pages), with full colour layout and illustration throughout. Without the influence of the Imperium to condend with, this will appeal to those who want to explore some fairly alien pocket empires with a pretty baltic feel.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Spinward Extents
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Traveller: Explorer's Edition
Publisher: Mongoose
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/30/2021 18:37:50

A tight focus on exploration-based campaigns still gives a very wide range of playable experiences, when the sandbox happens to be anywhere in space! This is a great taster for the full game, which gives more campaign options by virtue of having more careers if you want to expand, but could be played by itself indefinitely, with an iconic Scout Ship exploring traditionally random generated Systems, all provided in this book. It's a steal at $1.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller: Explorer's Edition
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Mage: The Ascension (Second Edition)
Publisher: White Wolf
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/20/2021 04:55:44

A game that always garnered huge passions from it’s fans, and kept fans returning largely due to the central concept of ‘consensual reality’. It’s hard to relate to the impact that this concept would have had on it’s fans upon first reading. The post-Matrix world has this type of postmodern, New-Agey idea in mainstream abundance these days, and it seems to be nothing new. At the time, however, it felt like you had been touched by genius upon reading it.

The game itself is very messy - a few too many unnecessary skills, confusing explanations and curious rules stipulations that don’t make sense. The organisation is a bit all over the place.

It never meshed especially well with the prior WoD games either - Vampires can hardly be running the world if the Technocracy is supposedly doing so too, Werewolves have their Umbra concepts compromised by Mage’s version of the same idea and, indeed, how can Vampires and Werewolves truly exist in a world dominated by a Technocracy-dominated paradigm? Shouldn’t they have been eradicated in this modernistic worldview?

Not a classic, as such, yet the passion and concepts still shine through in the writing - and that’s what gives it value.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Ascension (Second Edition)
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Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/17/2021 03:44:28

The best version of Vampire: The Masquerade that there has ever been. State of the art mechanics supporting a fully realised vision of a world from the perspective of children of the night. Mean, lean and gorgeous in equal measure, and brave enough to recapture the focus and themes of the original.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2021 05:16:13

I'm not convinced that this really does capture the feel of the original game as much as allow for a further development of the "Revised" edition that came out in 1998.

It tidies up certain rules whilst curiously keeping some other dysfunctional rules systems in tact eg the clunky combat system, and provides an overview of the complex world envisioned through 10+ years of game development. I personally tire of having to read through 500+ pages of content, however, especially when a whole bulk of it is just a catalogue of vampiric powers.

The artwork is a mixture of old and new, good and bad, black and white and colour. The writing is easy enough to read and the layout extends to 'splatting' out the Sects as well as the Clans, which does make the various political relationships easy to follow. It just doesn't quite have the focus or intensity of the original.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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Unseen Masters
Publisher: Chaosium
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/23/2021 16:26:03

Meaty interlocking trio of scenarios set in modern New York. The major selling point is the high level of psychiatric research that went into it, particularly the award winning middle scenario. Without giving the plot away, it's well worth buying for that one alone.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unseen Masters
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Mage: The Ascension (First Edition)
Publisher: White Wolf
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/12/2020 16:49:47

The 1st edition of the game was still very much a formative set of ideas, some of which were quite developed which is both a weakness and a strength as it gave agency to the reader to interpret in their own way still. The magic system was very free form which, along with the philosophical take on concensual reality, paradox and coincidental magic was groundbreaking at the time. In my view, the general tone of the writing was slightly less 'in your face' than some of the later editions. Moreover, it was one of the first games that seemed to feel attuned to real world magical thought, themes and pracitices, which was a revelation for many when it was first released. For me, it is a gem and well worth keeping in print.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Ascension (First Edition)
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Mage the Awakening 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/07/2020 18:25:50

As with the previous 2nd editions of Chronicles of Darkness games, this is a highly polished effort with improved art direction, excellent rules for magic and by it being a self contained game. Its also notable shifted away from the Atlantis backstory emphasis of the previous edition, which is a welcome change.

Notably, this Mage game is only half the size of it's intimidatingly huge cousin, Mage: The Ascension, and will be certainly easier to play for newcomers. It manages this by missing out on much of the more gonzo, philosophical and real world culture referencing material of the former - and may feel a bit bland by comparison for the original game's fans. As a toolkit for running modern magical stories, like those you might find in a Vertigo comic, its a highly polished product, but it's still an obvioulsy fictional world with comic book tropes rather than an exploration of real occult concepts in many respects.

Regardless, it's a great addition to the Chronicles of Darkness line or just as a stand-alone urban fantasy game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage the Awakening 2nd Edition
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M-SPACE Companion
Publisher: FrostByte Books
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/22/2020 00:24:50

Good comprehensive supplement for M-Space, especially for those thinking of sprinkling their science fiction with a bit of a transhunan spin. As with the core book, this is a very neat book that crams a lot of information into it in a sleek and stylish way. Good art pieces too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
M-SPACE Companion
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Wrath & Glory: Core Rules
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/17/2020 19:31:04

A major improvement from the previous printing in terms of layout, and kudos must go to Cubicle 7 for releasing this update free of charge to previous purchases.

The game could still be expanded upon, but it lays a pretty good foundation with a D6 dicepool rules system that functions a little closer to miniatures game than the previous percentile systems did. It lacks a 'high concept', as occured with Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and instead adopts a fully inclusive, 'choose your own framewirk' regarding campaign design. While some might find this lacks focus, others will be enthused by the opportunity of playing previously unavalable options, like Ork Clans for example.

Its a good product, although I do miss aspects of the percentile system, which creates a certain gritty tone, and for me, the main interest still lies with the fantasy version of Warhammer roleplay.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wrath & Glory: Core Rules
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Chicago By Night (Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition)
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/19/2020 20:04:27

Continuing a tradition of Chicogo By Night campaigns from the 1st edition in the early 1990s, this is a model for how to organise a city campaign as well as being a great sandbox for the Chicago setting. The addition of the Lasombra is welcome, although I'd prefer to see this in a more core rules book, but each Clan gets a good write up. You could literally use just this, along with the core rules, to be able to run campaigns for years - and the various NPCs write ups are full and varied, along with a selection of Loresheets which are becoming an increasingly useable game aid at the table. The art/layout is excellent too and it's both easy on the eye and easy to read.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chicago By Night (Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition)
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Castle Falkenstein
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/19/2020 05:21:42

Ideal purchase in PDF, as the physical book always used to fall apart when you touched it.

Lots of cool ideas, and a terrifically colourful, card based magic system. I like the narrative-based character generation too, and have run some entertaining sessions from it in the past. It was ahead of it's time, for sure. Ultimately, the fairy-tale, faux-Victorian setting isn't may not appeal to everybody. Very much worth buying though, and the updated file makes everything feel quite spectacular again..



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein
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Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/08/2020 04:54:50

The sheer size of this book is intimidating, and some may find the writing style grating.

There are some new developments in terms of creating your own paradigm and style of magic, which still hangs on the core freeform magick (sic) system, while the setting material and various factions and groups accumulated through the years are all there. This very much an immersive, kitchen sink setting. A game some will undoubtedly love, but others will find it a bit much!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition
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Aquelarre
Publisher: Nocturnal Media
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/08/2020 02:38:14

The rules are familar enough to anybody who likes RuneQuest style games, although there are a few differences in stats and skills. The setting is reminiscent of Ars Magica in it's 3rd edition - being a very dark, medieval world with a very high level of authenticity based on historical research.

Set specifically in the Spanish Peninsular (this was Spain's No.1 RPG - translated for the first time into English) during the 13/14th Century (High Medieval Period), it's less structured than Ars Magica and there is no default campaign as such. However, the emphasis on demonology, based on the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths of the time, as well as the name ('Aquelarre' means 'Coven') suggests that the characters will possibly be dabbling in the dark arts of magic or at least dealing with them. Magic is based upon alchemical lore, again well researched, evocative and with a big spell/ritual list, and there is a comprehensive host of angels and demons involved in the background, as well as a bestiary featuring creatures from Spanish folklore. There is a clever core mechanic where characters are rated on a two-headed scale of Rationality/Irrationality. This serves as a Sanity mechanic, of sorts: The more Irrational you are the more you believe in the supernatural (and the more capable you are to practice magic), but the more Rational you are, the more resistant you are to it.

The time period has the Spanish Peninsular made up of five competing nations, again well researched and presented here with lots of information about the history and medieval society. Supplements will detail each nation seperately - but there is lots here already. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition (!) but you could well play in a campaign based around this sort of investigative organisation (or have them as antagonists), along with a lot of other societies you could join (including military orders or fraternities). There are several introductory scenarios included.

This is a very rich setting, beautifully illustrated in a massive book, which is very much a work of passion. The Kickstarter campaign encountered some tragedy along the way, but both Stewart Weick (RIP) and Lester Smith (the translater) as well as the original writers, Ricard Ibáñez and co. have done the English speaking audience a service for making this great game available for the first time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aquelarre
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