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Castles & Crusades Codex Classicum
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2019 14:30:29

For this book, I am reviewing the PDF only since that is what I have at hand at the moment.

The PDF is 146 pages with color covers and black & white interiors. The art is up to the high standards you should expect from Troll Lords with plenty of evocative art from Peter Bradley. Like the other books in this series, this one was written by Brian Young, who has the educational background to tackle these books.

Brian introduces us to the material with an apology that this book could have been twice as large and not cover everything. Indeed, the book's scope is ambitious with what we normally consider Classical Mythology; the stories of the Greeks and the Romans with some Etruscans thrown in for good measure. Ambitious indeed.

Note: There are a couple of errors in the hyperlinked table of contents in the PDF, but nothing that keeps anyone from enjoying the book.

Chapter 1 covers the actual history of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans...or as much as can be done in 20 or so pages. There are actual history and mythical histories. The myth in this section and book takes heavily, as can be expected, from Hesiod's Theogony. It's like being back in Freshman Classics all over again! The section, for its brevity, is well thought out and hits on the big pictures and themes. I suppose if you want more you can always read Theogony yourself. In fact, do that, anyone that is a gamer should have a basic understanding of the Classical Myths.

Chapter 2 details the all-important geography of the area. Why "all-important"? Because the Greeks and the later Romans were products of their environments; their history, religions and myths were influenced by their geography to an extreme extent. From the Greek city-states of early antiquity, to rise of the power Athens and Macedonia and in the literal center of it all, the Mediterranean Sea.

Again, this chapter is a quick overview, but a better one than I have seen in other game books.

This chapter also covers mythical locations (but not the mythical worlds just yet). Remember to the Greeks these places were places just as real as everything else. One could, if they so desired, walk to the underworld. That is if they knew the way.

This chapter also introduces the Explorer/Adventurer class. Something that feels right at home in the world of the Greeks or the worlds of Gygax. Some should convert this to another system and see how it plays out.

Chapter 3 features the monsters and beasts of the Classical World. There are a lot of old favorites here and well as new representations of other favorites. Of course, this is one of my favorite chapters. Greek myth got me into D&D via the Monster Manual and there are a lot of monsters here that get right in the 1979 nostalgia. My only disappointment here is that is no art of any of the monsters. I know we all know what most of these creatures look like, but I still feel a little cheated in not getting enough Peter Bradley art.

Chapter 4 is my favorite. Monsters got me into D&D and RPGs, but it was magic that kept me coming back. Chapter 4 features Greek and Roman sorcery and magic including necromancy and prophecy. Even the most casual reader of the classic myths should know how important Oracles are to the tale. From Jason to Perseus to the tragedy of Oedipus, Oracles move the story forward. Here we get our next class, the Oracle (with notes on how these mouthpieces of the gods work in the other Codies). Unlike the Pathfinder Oracle, this one is not a spellcaster but a reader of omens. It also requires a fairly experienced player to play to make proper use of it.

Also featured here is the Nekuomantis, or the classical Greek necromancer. In many ways, this is the true necromancer before RPGs got ahold of the archetype. These characters speak to the dead to learn secrets and the future.

Chapter 5 deals with the Gods and Titans and other immortal creatures. It is fairly comprehensive compared to all other game books and very helpful in populating the ranks of the Immortals.

Chapter 6 focuses more on the humans and mortals of the world. The heroes and their issues. The basics of the Greek and Roman armies are also covered. This chapter also introduces the Gladiator class.

All in all a great overview but also leaving me with the desire for some more. Still I rather enjoyed it and can see a lot of uses for it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Codex Classicum
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Palace of the Dragon's Princess
Publisher: Maximum Mayhem Dungeons
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2019 14:26:36

Palace of the Dragon's Princess might be my second favorite adventure in this whole series right after Hanging Coffins. The premise is very similar to the classic Palace of the Silver Princess. In this case, the Princess is trapped by a green dragon and you must go rescue her. Sound easy? You obviously have not paid any attention to the other four adventures in this series.

This one has a lot of background information, more so than the others. We know a lot more about Princess Francessca than we do about Lady Neeblack the Vampire Queen (Could Lady Neeblack be Princess Francessa's dead mother??!!?). There is a knight, a dragon and Torgo. Yup, a nice riff on MST3k with Torgo and the Master. But is the princess REALLY in danger? That will be up to the Gamemaster to decide. There is a lot going on here and because of the backstory a lot more that a crafty DM can add. I am a touch disappointed there were no three-headed creatures like the Ubues, but that is fine. They were silly enough then.

Like the Vault of the Dwarven King this one is more classically fantasy and it is also one best ones in the series to "run straight". Meaning you could strip out some of the silliness and have a pretty deadly, serious adventure if you wanted.

In any case, this is one is a lot of fun and a worthy addition to the line of Maximum Mayhem Dungeons.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Palace of the Dragon's Princess
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Vault of the Dwarven King
Publisher: Maximum Mayhem Dungeons
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2019 14:08:56

Mark Taormino is like some sort of mad genius. I love his Maximum Mayhem Dungeons and each one "delivers the goods" in terms of hitting that nostalgia feel. Here is a what if scenario for you. What if the dwarves of Moria were completely crazy for Indiana Jones? Well, you might get something like Vault of the Dwarven King. There is the aforementioned vault, part of a vast underground dwarven city. There is a giant monster that's on fire. There are also mine-cars, goblin moonshiners, blue trolls and dwarf tossing.

There is a thin coating of silliness over a really fun and REALLY deadly adventure here. All to reclaim the lost dwarven artifact, the Fireheart. But does it belong to the dwarves or the goblins? Will you even live long enough to find out?

Like the adventures that came before it, it is an unapologetic romp down memory lane. This adventure though, maybe more so than any of the others might be more accessible to anyone that didn't grow up in the 80s. The biggest nostalgia pull is, of course, the Lord of the Rings movies, in particular, Fellowship of the Ring, but that is only one (though very loud) note. There is enough going on here to keep every player on their toes and their characters running. This one is also the most classically "fantasy" than the others which also draw on sci-fi, horror and crazy humor.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vault of the Dwarven King
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B/X Essentials: Core Rules
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:28

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

The Core Rules weighs in at 34 pages and gets to the very heart of the B/X Essentials line. The essential Essentials as it were. It covers Ability scores in general, sequences of play and all the basic rules needed. Combat is covered separately. Magic also gets a bit of coverage here in general terms and including how spells can be researched and magic items made. The rules have been "cleaned up" from their obvious predecessors. Focus is on readability and playability here. In fact all the entries under the basic rules are alphabetical, so finding something say like Movement, is easy. In the original rules it took a bit of digging to actually figure out how much a character moves. This was vastly improved in later editions of the game, but here it is very succinctly spelled out. Other rules are equally made clear. Since the "Basic" and "Expert" rules are combined here there is an economy of word usage here. As much as I love my Basic and Expert games, sometimes you need to consult both books when a situation comes up.

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Core Rules
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B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:24

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

The Classes and Equipment book comes in at 44 pages. It begins naturally enough with character creation. Some details, such as Ability scores, are detailed here, but also give a call back to the Core Rules book. Still, though everything is here to make a character. For practice, I made a 7th level Cleric just using this book. It went extremely fast and very little need to flip pages back and forth. I just needed to use the Spells book to pick out spells. The modular design of the B/XE system extends to this book as well. Each class begins on an even-numbered page and extends to the next odd-numbered page. You can then hold the book flat, put it up two-pages at a time on your screen, and read everything you need in a glance. I really appreciate this level of attention paid. Many books do not do this and in fact, look like they were just run off on Word's PDF converter. There is more attention put into the layout here than in most products and to me, that is what sets this above the others. The classes represented here are the 7 classics; Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief and the three demi-humans, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. True to B/X these are "race as class" classes. Equipment, money and of course weapons are covered in the next half of the book.

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment
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B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:19

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

Cleric and Magic-User Spells would have been my favorite book if B/XE had come out in the 80s. Right now it also has my favorite cover from the entire series. Seriously, I love it. The book itself has 34 pages and covers all the Cleric and Magic-User/Elf spells in the game. All the usual suspects are here. Again when making my recent Cleric I used this book. The modularity again is a huge boon for this book and game. Adding a new class, like the proposed Druid and Illusionists? Add a new book easy!

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells
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B/X Essentials: Adventures and Treasures
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:13

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

At 48 pages this is one of the two larger books in the series. This book deals with adventuring and what sort of things you can find on those adventures. So there are traps, monster tables, and all the treasure types and magical treasure. Again we see where combining the Basic and Expert rules gives you a much better idea of what is going on in these "dungeons". This is also my second favorite cover of the line.

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Adventures and Treasures
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B/X Essentials: Monsters
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:03

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

Ah, now this is a book I would have loved back in 81. Also coming in at 48 pages this book is about monsters and nothing else. Stat blocks are concise and there is none of the bloat in the descriptions that appear in later editions (ok to be fair that bloat was demanded by players). The book is fantastic with my only reservation in I wish it had been illustrated more. But even that is fine. I can easily see a "Monsters 2" and "Monsters 3" sometime in the future for this line.

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Monsters
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B/X Essentials: Demihumans of Dolmenwood
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:44:52

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

This free product is only 8 pages long and is only in PDF. It is the only genre and world-specific book in the line covering the Dolmenwood, the shared setting used by Necrotic Gnome. This book includes two new races, the Fairy Elf and the Woodgrue, both fairy races of the Dolmenwood. There is also a listing of some Fae lords and ladies.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Demihumans of Dolmenwood
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Old-School Essentials: Basic Rules
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:44:46

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

Old-School Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

Old School Essentials expands on these rules and reorganizes them some more. There is a Basic Rules that takes place of the Core book and then a Genre book that covers classes and other "D&D" like topics. I imagine that different genre books will have other rules and classes.

Old-School Essentials: Basic Rules This free 56-page book covers all the basics of the OSE line. Picking it up you can see the stylistic changes from B/XE to OSE. Also this book covers just about everything you need to play right now. It includes the four human classes, some rules, some spells, some monsters, and treasure. Enough to give you a taste of what OSE will be like. It has the same modular design as B/XE so finding things is simple, leaving more time for play. There is no interior art in this free version, but that hardly detracts from it.

I am really looking forward to seeing OSE out. But until then I am going to enjoy playing with B/XE!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old-School Essentials: Basic Rules
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Monsters of Mayhem #1
Publisher: Maximum Mayhem Dungeons
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2019 13:21:07

Monsters of Mayhem #1 is the latest monster tome from the Mad Wizard himself, Mark Taormino. Mark has made a good name for himself in the Old School D&D scene producing some top rated gonzo adventures. So it should only seem natural that he would turn his attention to making an equally gonzo and fun monster book. Which is exactly what he did. Monsters of Mayhem is 36 pages of monsters for old school games using OSRIC, coughAD&Dcough. I am reviewing both the physical book and the PDF. The book is black & white with color covers and "blue map" inside covers. There are 48 monsters here, most illustrated. The monsters themselves are all fun and all of them are very deadly, or at least they could be in the hands of a sadist DM.

Many have appeared in his adventures, but there are some new faces here as well. Also many will invoke a feeling of nostalgia for anyone that played AD&D back int he 80s. Some are fun, like "The Little Green Bastards" (aliens), some are nostalgic like the "Astral Drifter" and "Star Spawn", and others are just plain disgusting (in a great way) like the "Block of Hungry Flesh". Others still are very deadly like the infamous "Vampire Lich".

Our cover girl is a Demonia Gigantica which was one of the very first monsters I used from this book. The style reminds you of the old school, early 80s, style of books. Save for how over the top everything is it could pass for an 80s book. Well, that and the production values are top-notch.

I high recommend this book. There is a lot packed into 36 pages here. For $10.00 you get a lot and will really spice up your game a little.

Originally posted here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/monstrous-monday-review-monsters-of.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of Mayhem #1
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Bounty Head Bebop
Publisher: Heroic Journey Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2019 12:43:14

“You know the first rule of combat? Shoot them before they shoot you.” - Faye Valentine, Cowboy Bebop.

Back in 1998 a new Anime appeared on the scene, something new called Cowboy Bebop. It dealt with the lives and misadventures of a group of bounty hunters in the solar system of the future that looked more like the wild west. There were guns, and terra-formed planets, a corrupt government, the mobs and of course lots of criminals. The crew of the Bebop spent their time doing jobs, keeping their ship together and avoiding starving. While this made for a great show in and of itself, the really cool thing about this were the characters. Larger than life, with secrets, agendas and a history of development that lead them to where they were at that point.

In other words a perfect setting for a Role Playing Game.

The game, Bounty Head Bebop, obviously takes some cues from the series. (AN ASIDE. I understand that this game was supposed to have been an officially licensed product, but I do not have anything to support that with. So instead of explaining all the time why they are the same, let’s just say they are cut from the same cloth and move on from there.)

Bounty Head Bebop (BHB), is a game where you can spend your time flying around a terra-formed solar system hunting down “bounty heads” for fun and profit. The game itself is a slick little RPG with a fun cinematic feel to it. It does what it says on the tin, and does it well.

BHB uses a system called the Inverted 20 system. Basically you have a Target Number (often set by the GM, with guidance), that is modified by ability, skill and or difficulties, your job is to roll that score or under (and different things happen if you hit the number or roll under). The die mechanic is really that simple. Anyone familiar with d20 will catch on fairly quickly despite the roll under mechanic. Now I will be honest, I am not a fan of roll under systems, but I think it works here. To me it seems that Anime based games work best as roll-under. Maybe it is all of those years of BESM or maybe it because it just provides me with a different feel.

Like other d20 games you attributes that despite the name changes look familiar, skills, various edges and flaws, all which work like GURPS. No need to reinvent the wheel, they work fine. Everything is point buy and you spend XP to raise them, like Unisystem.

Details BHB does something REALLY nice here. Puts in a Character Creation Summary so you can get an overview of everything you need to do. Figure out everything in order. Attributes look familiar if you have been playing any game at all. They are scored from 1 to 5 for starting characters, but can go up. Imitative and Movement are derived. As are Saves, Wounds and Vitality points. All pretty simple to figure out.

Skills are next and they are divided up into General, Combat and Specialty. General skills are your everyday skills and like d20 are tied to a specific attribute. Combat skills allow you to fight. Want to be better at aiming or hitting with your fists, then improve the skill. Specialty and Advanced skills are those that you can’t do unless you have a level/points in them. Advanced skills are like advanced sciences.

Edges and Flaws work like GURPS or any other point buy system, though there are no points. You start out with 3 Edges and get up to 6 with 3 more Flaws. Edges can be bought with XPs and Flaws bought off. The list is pretty typical, your Hard to Kill, various “Gun Fu” moves, various pilot and criminal related Edges too. The list looked good and nothing jumped out at me as not being there. There are also various new Psychic/Feng-Shui powers too (details in a bit). And some computer related ones, with the promise of new book dedicated to hacking and the net (for your own “Radical” Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky the IV). Now you don’t need to take any Flaws at all if you don’t want, but I think that might be missing the point of this game really. These characters are yes over the top Anime characters, but they also have issues.

Feng-Shui gets it own chapter and it is the province of the Inuit Indians (yeah, that confuses me too, but I’ll go with it). None of the powers seem out of control, so no anime style Ki based special fx here, but a lot of good solid powers. Danger Sense, Locate Objects, manipulate objects, things like that. More power masters can influence minds or regenerate their bodies. There are seven areas of power (spheres) you choose one and you progress through it. It reminds me of the pschic powers from AFMBE’s “Enter the Zombie”. Given that, an ability to bend bullets might be cool in this game. Of course with power comes psychotic episodes. Do it too much and you WILL go crazy, just like they said.

Given this chapter I can see, and hope that the cyber book works the same way.

A money and equipment chapter follows. Money, though very important to the focus of the game, is game mechanic rather than collected. Similar to D20 Modern in a way. And of course lots of guns, spaceships and other things you need, like food and permits. While money is always going to be an issue, since that is the primary motivation of the characters, doing the system like this was a nice cinematic way of dealing with things.

A chapter on “doing things” follows after that. It is your basic rules chapter, but most things are handled with the same mechanic, so this chapter breezes by. I appreciate transparency in my games. “You can do this and this is how you do it.” BHB takes the basic d20 system and really streamlines it to it’s barest essentials (even more so than True20) yet nothing seems lost. Thus this chapter is very short.

Combat is more involved, since the bounty heads aren’t likely to go quietly. The combat chapter is again, easy to read and uses the same simple mechanics. Skills and your rank in them are what is important here. This sets it off from the d20 crowds and puts it back into GURPS/Unisystem territory. In a neat twist you can use the same “to hit” roll as a damage roll, thus speeding up your games. There is logic in this and I like the effect.

The Setting Chapter both pleased me and irritated me. The solar system is the setting with a nearly uninhabited Earth and terra-formed planets and moons. Briefly object hits the Moon, destroys it, sends Earth into chaos where meteors rain every day. But some of those rocks were used to jump gate tech to allow quick travel throughout the solar system and was a key element in terra-forming.

Now humanity is all over the system. There is a real wild west feel to the plaents. Mars is the center of human population now, Venus is like a giant mob controlled Vegas, the moons of Jupiter have food production and so on and all have their own hazards. There is a Solar System wide police force, but they are few, overworked, underpaid and spread too thin. This gives us lots of crime and the opportunity for bounty hunters (like you!) to capture bad guys and bring them in for fun and profit. Mostly for profit.

What irritated me was that this chapter was so short. Sure, I know it is so I can later buy the Mars book or the Io book, but it just touched the surface. Yeah I could go back to the anime (or other shows, Blake’s 7 comes to mind) for ideas. But I was enjoying reading when it was over.

The book has a very nice index, a character sheet that looks familiar to us all and a summary page on how to spend XPs. But the coolest thing is the included adventure in the back. Gets you and going on your first Bounty Head hunt in no time. The adventure itself is good, and even shows you what can be done with the system in terms of story. Sure this could have been a simple bounty hunt, but this one has moral layers and corruption and the hosts of a “Big Shots” like show (nice touch).

What Did I Like? Simple system, very easy to figure out. Plus it was also easy to figure out what to do with the game. Concepts came with every page (more or less). The book itself has a nice simple layout and it is easy to find everything. Plus it “reads” well too. The text is concise and gets right to the point. I also like the Luck and Surge points, which are basically like Drama Points or Hero Points.

What Didn’t I Like? Still not a fan of roll under mechanics. They seem wrong to me. Would have loved more setting information and some basic computer hacking rules.

Other Notes Art. The art is nice, but a lot of it is used again throughout the book. Pictures of some of the planets would be nice, what does Venus Vegas look like? How about the domes of Mars? That sort of thing.

What Can I do with This? Well there is basic premise, go out and hunt bad guys. But there are plenty of other ideas. The Stainless Steel Rat: Play the bad guys. Sure hunting them is fun, but wouldn’t it be more fun to be the bad guy or the mobsters avoiding the SSPB and the Bounty Hunters? Reservoir Dogs: You get pulled into a heist gone really, really wrong. The Usual Suspects: You bring in your small fry bounty head only to uncover that maybe, maybe the most notorious criminal mastermind might be involved or even one of your marks. Witch Hunter Bebop: Let’s combine Sunrise’s two best anime ever, Cowboy Bebop and Witch Hunter Robin and make a game where you need to hunt down marks using their Feng-Shui powers illegally. Firefly: Yeah it has a game and I really like Cortext, but I’ll be blunt here. There is nothing in Firefly that Cowboy Bebop didn’t do first and better and with a better soundtrack. You can do the same here. Plus the solar system of BHB makes more sense.

Who should get this? If you like Anime or space adventures with bullets rather than lasers then this is your game. If you want to do something like Traveler but don’t want the overhead of the system or the mega-plot then this is your game. You might be able to do “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” but we have better choices for those games. This would be perfect for “Buck Rodgers” or “Flash Gordon” though and of course “Cowboy Bebop”.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bounty Head Bebop
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Malevolent & Benign II
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2019 14:22:54

You can never have too many monster books in my mind. Even I use one or two per book and my players are surprised or go "what in the hell is that!?" then it is money well spent. Monsters have taught me so much over the years. Monsters lead me to Greek Mythology. Monsters helped me learn how to write code to create databases and then later helped land a DBA job while I was still in school. One day I'll update my old Access95 Monster Database, but that will have to be later.

In many ways I actually like M&B2 more than M&B1. This book is 110 pages with 150+ monsters. Again we have a color cover (which is fantastic by the way) and black & white interior. In fact all the art is a step up. If M&B 1 was akin to a MM3 or FF2 then this one is the next in line, but with no loss of quality. The monsters are new and quite deadly or at least the ones that are not deadly are interesting. I have not picked up the softcover yet, but the PDF is fantastic. 10 bucks for the pdf or 20 for the pdf + softcover book is a pretty good deal. Especially for a bunch of new monsters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Malevolent & Benign II
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Malevolent and Benign
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2019 14:11:50

You can never have too many monster books in my mind. Even I use one or two per book and my players are surprised or go "what in the hell is that!?" then it is money well spent. Monsters have taught me so much over the years. Monsters lead me to Greek Mythology. Monsters helped me learn how to write code to create databases and then later helped land a DBA job while I was still in school. One day I'll update my old Access95 Monster Database, but that will have to be later.

Malevolent and Benign has long been a staple on my game table. 128 pages with 150 monsters, all in OSRIC format. The monsters are all new (to me), with some converted from other OGC sources. The art is quite good and the feel of the book is something like a Monster Manual 3 or a Fiend Folio 2 really. It sits on my shelf right next to my monsters books, or in theory, it does. It is actually out on my game table more often than not. The softcover is very nice to have and the PDF is fully bookmarked.

The book also has a small section on new magic items associated with these monsters.

For $10 it is a good deal.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Malevolent and Benign
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Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition Monsters II
Publisher: John M Stater
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2019 14:03:46

You can never have too many monster books in my mind. Even I use one or two per book and my players are surprised or go "what in the hell is that!?" then it is money well spent. Monsters have taught me so much over the years. Monsters lead me to Greek Mythology. Monsters helped me learn how to write code to create databases and then later helped land a DBA job while I was still in school. One day I'll update my old Access95 Monster Database, but that will have to be later.

Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition Monsters II. This is the second book for the Blood & Treasure 2nd edition game. This one has 197 pages, over 500 monsters. Color cover with black & white art. No this is what we buy monster books for! New Monsters! At 500 some odd monsters there are some here that can be recognized from the records of myth and fairy tales, (lots and lots of dragons!) but there a plenty of more that are completely new to me to edge it out over Monsters I. There is similar material from the Monsters I book; conditions, attack descriptions and the like. But the bulk is dedicated to new creatures for your game. This book also has a Chimerical Monster table for making your own chimeras. Tables on mutant dinosaurs and vermin. Also a combined monster listing of both books. If you have Blood & Treasure Monsters then you will want this one. If you just like new monsters then get this one too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition Monsters II
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