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DoubleZero Core Book
by Brett E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2021 01:49:10

There is a defect in the core resolution mechanic of this game whereby on a difficult task only failures and excellent outcomes are possible. As the difficulty diminishes moderate and poor successes become possible, but the probability of excellent results is not affected. That's just not the way I think things work or want them to work in an RPG. So I am never going to be playing DoubleZero.



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
DoubleZero Core Book
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Building Characters [1st Edition]
by John H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2021 23:24:52

My rating might seem critical of this product, and it has to do with the editing. The book has a rough draft feel with lots of low-hanging fruit for correction. I purchased my copy through Bundle of Holding's revived Toolkit 4 bundle at the $9.95 tier, which means that I picked up my copy at $1.65, if I divide the tier price among the items that I received at that tier. This is a much better deal than what it is selling for here on DTRPG: $7, which is more than the second edition of the same book ($4.99).

I ended up buying the second edition anyway because I do find the information useful from the first book, and what made me buy the second edition is how bad the editing is on the first. I was hoping that it might have improved for the second edition, and it has, so that product will get a better rating from me by one more star. DTRPG, however, will not allow me to give another low star review for the same publisher for 24 hours. The editing on the second book has not improved much (it still has mistakes that suggest that it was not proofread or not enough).

So let us get into why the editing is a problem. If one is going to use this book as a regular go-to reference, those typos are going to pop up every time one looks at the book. Here are some examples:

"What the leader dislikes are the disorganized, [...] things in like" (p. 10; see Full Size Preview, p. 14; "like" should be "life"). "The lover doesn't care what people, and won't allow gossip alter their pursuit of happiness" (p. 11; see Full Size Preview, p. 15; missing words are "want" after "people" and "to" before "alter").

Here is an erroneous ranking for "Below Baseline Religion": "The character is more devout than the typical character within the story. They have deeper faith and engagement with dogma" (p. 43; see Full Size Preview, p. 47).

Every time that one looks at these entries, one is going to falter at these typos. When one wants to understand the material fully, so one can focus on building a character, this is an unnecessary hindrance that breaks focus and train of thought. When one considers that the publisher has not made any effort to update this material for those who have purchased it at a $7 price tag, it seems lazy.

Did their editing improve for the second edition? Some: two of the typos mentioned above are fixed. Still others are introduced or obsolete text remains from the first edition:

"Looking back over the questions you answered for your character in the stages of lie section," (p. 67 in the second edition; "lie" was correctly "life" in the First Edition, p. 52 or p. 56 in the Full Size Preview, and there were actually questions that one answers, which are not present in the second edition).

What this book did allow me to do was to generate a new page of data for my protagonist Character Eight in the game The Iron Realm Dark Fantasy RPG. The data consisted of rankings in categories like Aptitudes as follows: Below Baseline, Baseline, Above Baseline. While more needs to be done to translate this data into interesting character story, it at least establishes a starting point for different "character elements" (or what I'll term aspects of a character).

The full title of my version of this book is Building Characters for Writers and Roleplayers. While there is some useful material for writers, a book like The Art of Character by David Corbett (not available on DTRPG since it is not related to roleplaying) is a more professional and challenging book (and one would be hard-pressed to find typos in the latter book's pages). The material for writers is of value in the first edition of Building Characters, and it is missed in the second edition. How is one, for example, going to answer those aforementioned "questions you answered for your character in the stages of life" section if you only have the second edition? And there were a lot of defining questions for each stage of life: twenty for childhood, twenty for adolescence, sixteen for separation from parents, and so on.

Some statements made by the first edition may be difficult to reconcile, like how aptitude ratings "are a zero-sum game: for every +1 in an aptitude, the character must have a -1 in something else" (p. 58; see Full Size Preview, p. 62). For a book that wants to "develop a more literary character" (p. 89; see Full Size Preview, p. 93) this seems counterintuitive. The book lists ten aptitudes, only eight of which I felt applied to my Character Eight in The Iron Realm Dark Fantasy RPG setting, who is a Cleric. Four of these aptitudes for this class I ranked as "Above Baseline": Empathy, Morality, Reflection; Spiritual. While there could be unlisted aptitudes that I could try to come up with that are "Below Baseline," the other four that I kept from the book's list of ten total and ranked as "Baseline" were Body, Language, Reason, and Visualization. I really did not see why the Cleric would have to struggle with Language, as example of why I left it as Baseline. This zero-sum consideration is dropped in the second edition.

Some parts of the first edition are approached differently than in the second edition. The section on Wonders has the reader consider Duration of a wondrous effect, for example, while in the second edition, this section advises more than questions. I am not sure which approach is better: I like both.

As with the questions about the stages of life, another section missed in the second edition is about considerations in creating a character sheet using the elements mentioned in the book, along with creating a character journal and why one of those is useful. Overall, I felt that both of these sections are of value so that one might want both editions of the book for reference, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Will there be a third edition? If so, let us hope that the editing improves! Since the first edition was never updated to fix the typos, I do not have faith that we will see an update for future editions either.

While I did find this book to be of use, I am not inspired by Dancing Lights Press in their quality of editing their books after seeing this one, so I dread what I am going to find in their other books that I already own, and I will have to think twice about picking up more (unless it is like the case of this one, where I am actively seeking the publisher's improvement as well as my own after reading an earlier edition).



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
Building Characters [1st Edition]
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Building Characters
by John H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2021 23:22:33

This version is an improvement over the first edition, and it still has a way to go to be the indispensable resource that I would expect from a publisher. While the formatting is better in this version, such as including bullets in place of the first edition's block paragraph of text for how different Character Roles interact with each other, there is still some sloppiness to the production. An example is this: "Looking back over the questions you answered for your character in the stages of lie section," (p. 67).

Now you might think my issue is with the incorrect word "lie," which should be "life." I got over venting about that after reading the first edition (you can read my review of that edition to see how much I talk about this). I suspect that the second book may have been edited better, and since a lot of the content is the same, I skimmed the second version. I also wanted to be a little forgiving after all since a second edition meant that effort was made to improve the product.

What didn't escape my notice in my careful skim is mention of the questions from the "Stages of Life" section. These questions are not in the second edition, and the publisher overlooked updating the context here, which still suggests a lack of better editing. Now I am guessing that the questions were removed because the publisher opted to go with leaning toward how building characters relates to roleplaying and games rather than how they relate to literary writing. If you really want that, you can pick up the first edition (even though it costs two dollars more than the second edition, and I suggest that The Art of Character by David Corbett is a far superior book for that sort of thing).

There is some other material from the first edition that I felt was useful that has been cut too, such as descriptions of different rankings for Elements. Still, a reviewer of the first edition, Esteban M. V., felt that taking the time to describe these in detail was superfluous, such as a Low ranking Education meaning that the character has little or no education. Since that was a big chunk of the first book, one could hope that something more useful has replaced it.

The improvement is that advice occasionally appears in place of what was in the first book. As an example, when talking about Activation of Wonders, the publisher suggests adding "a nice character bit" and suggests a few. Other material still got the chopping block that probably should have been retained, such as considering how long Activation takes. This may be because the publisher decided to define this book as a "minimalist [...] guide." Still, elements might have been retained that did not necessarily detract from the book like that I mentioned.

Some of the new material is no better than that from the first book. I looked forward to (and read with interest rather than skimmed) the new introductory material on how building characters relates to worldbuilding, adventures, and rules. A lazy approach, reminiscent of the first book, was taken with each section, each ending with a sentence in this format: "When creating character background elements, keep [x] in mind," such as "keep existing worldbuilding in mind." Sure, this is useful for someone new to this sort of material or someone who is not reading the book from cover to cover, but it is recommended in the introduction that we "read through the entire book at least once" (p. 1). So as repetitive elements like the aforementioned come up, you know it's going to be a slog. It reminds me a bit of reading the Pathfinder Core Rulebook Second Edition rules in depth: be sure you guzzle some caffeine as you sit down to read this book.

This formatting flavor is kept throughout the introductory section: "If your style leans more toward the wargaming perspective, consider [x]," e.g. x= "consider what abilities are common and uncommon in the setting" [Worldbuilding]; x= "the player should consider what abilities will be useful in the type of campaign or adventure being proposed" [Adventures]. Now the content in these examples is not bad: one can see why one would compare rarity of abilities in worldbuilding and usefulness in adventures. It is just the attempt to do as much as possible with formatting, and this style is maintained throughout the book. Concise and clear? Yes. An interesting read as one continues into adjacent segments? No.

I am surprised that wargamers are even taken into consideration, and that they would want more depth of the nontactical variety. Still, kudos to the publisher to be inclusive. And this inclusivity should not pervade beyond the stat block format to the content of the stat block, as is done with the Story Points in the stat block: "Unanswered questions could include whether the character was like this in all stages of life, if they changed into their current state, and how this impacts components of [x]": x being "sociology and psychology" when talking about "physiology," and the publisher just mentions the other two when talking about another Dimension, i.e. "physiology and psychology" when talking about "sociology." Not only does this make for a dry textbook experience throughout the book, but considering this is a minimalist approach to the topic of Building Characters, one can wonder just how much actual content is left after shrinking down the remaining content from the cookie cutter statements used throughout in this manner.

So the book's formatting is better, and I still expect and want more from this book. In my first edition review, I mentioned how I generated a new page of ranking data for my Character Eight in the the game The Iron Realm Dark Fantasy RPG for all sorts of elements. The advice that was included in the second book did not bring me any closer to having fleshed out my character over the first book with the new advice given. I still just had my rankings from the first book, which would even have been harder to produce with just the second volume, when it does not even incorporate the section about character sheet considerations when using elements from the book. This is why my rating has only increased to two stars because, overall, the book has not improved enough.

If a third edition were made (and since the book is useful, I certainly hope that the publisher is inspired in ways that the second edition could be improved), a thing that I would like to see would be diagrams showing how characters relate (maybe using smooth arrows for Protagonists and jaggy ones for Antagonists with each pointing in the direction of interacton). For mentioned characters, I would at least like a reference of what they are from, such as when Olivia Foxworth is mentioned as an Aggressor, it might read "Olivia Foxworth (Flowers in the Attic)." I would like to see more broad notion ideas like as is mentioned for not bothering to list an itemized inventory because one can go off the equipment modifier (p. 83) although some writers might suggest that what one carries around with them can define something about the nature of a character too as I learned in a writing workshop. I'm not even sure why the book aims to be minimalist when what I would seek is something comprehensive without being granular. In the meantime, I guess that I can draw my own diagrams and add my own notes, just like how I could take PDFs of both editions, edit them in a PDF writer into one edition, and come back with a stronger version that incorporates the useful elements of both without the typos and oversights.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Building Characters
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Story Design: Chase Stories
by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2020 23:25:57

All of the Story Design guides help me find the key story beats for my adventure, broken down into act I, act II, and act III. I find preparing with some points in mind doesn't limit player agency and heightens the tension and reward.

I bought all these in a bundle and they're quick and handy references. The price is right either way.

Chase could have been a little more concise (14 pages could have been 7), but the reminders are useful for setting up a subplot and resources that change the direction in the second act.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Story Design: Chase Stories
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Building Adventures
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2020 15:09:36

I like the concepts in the book. However, it really needs another editing/proofreading pass. Lots of errors.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Building Adventures
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Story Design: Breakout Stories
by Maria S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2020 17:49:12

I LOVE this guide! I find it very easy to read and follow. I really recommend this to help you flesh out your ideas for a campaign or any creative writing you are itching to get out of your mind and onto paper. It certainly is helping me organize my thoughts in a cohesive way. Keep up the great work Dancing Lights Press and thank you!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Story Design: Breakout Stories
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Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2020 07:54:30

I agree with Joe K.'s review; this book does a good job of building on the foundation established by the BulletJournal.com site and extending it for us in RPGs.

I've been bullet journaling for the last two years or so for my work and home life. Extending it to RPGs is something I experimented with, but didn't get very far. Taking a step back and reading "Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters" helped me gather and organize my own thoughts on how to apply the bullet journals to my campaigns.

The addition of photos to the book helped me visualize what the author was shooting for. While the the concepts themselves are easy to grasp, it's always nice to see how folks implemented them.

The spreads themselves are straightforward and hew closely to bullet journaling at its more Spartan end, so don't expect wild and crazy designs for habit trackers or funky-looking logs. That's not a criticism; it's a design choice that I appreciate.

I can see this book evolving over time to incorporate different kinds of collections, spreads, and logs, but its definitely a solid introduction for using bullet journals for your game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters
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Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters
by Michael R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2020 09:53:42

I enjoyed reading the content but gave it 3 stars because of the price. I peronally don't like reading PDFs so needed to print it out. My biggest criticism would be that the sample picture of the Index page is great - however the paragraph "Campaign Logs (page 24)" doesn't correspond with any chapter of the same name in the index.

The product is worth buying, and perhaps it's me, but I don't understand why the author hasn't created a supplementary video to show highlights of the book. I'd pay extra to view the video. The author does mention that there are ample bullet journal videos on youtube, but not specifally for gamemasters. Overall this is a good product, I just don't fully undersand the instructions.

I tried finding the contact info of the author to send a friendly suggestion email, but was unable to find the contact info.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters
by Ola S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2020 08:45:25

For person, who knows anything about bullet journal, it isn't worth this prize.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hippogryph Issue One
by Garrett B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/25/2020 22:33:00

First part of the book feels very unnecessary but the rest of it is pretty good



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hippogryph Issue One
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Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters
by Joe K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2020 10:34:31

As someone who recently began using the Bullet Journal method for daily organization it never occurred to me that this could be transferred over to my gaming prep as well. This is a great INTRODUCTORY guide to using BuJo concepts in gaming. It immediately makes most of the DM's kits here on DTRPG obsolete for that reason alone.

Those curíous about Bullet Journalling should check out this introductory video by the format's creator ( https://youtu.be/fm15cmYU0IM ) - those interested in using it in their gaming will be happily surprised by DLPs suggestions in this PDF



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters
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Character Workbook: Witch [PFRPG 1e]
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/10/2019 16:12:06

For a buck you get a pretty handy bit of work.

Nearly 50 pages this covers character creation all the way to 20th level.
Why am I reviewing this now? Simple, I used it and tracked a character from creation to 20th level and it worked fantastic.

Plenty of places for notes and there are guidelines all along the way, such as reminding you that your skills can increase and ability modifiers change. Even a worksheet for your familiar.

Realy a great idea.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Character Workbook: Witch [PFRPG 1e]
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Character Workbooks [PFRPG 1e] [BUNDLE]
by Derek B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2019 00:50:40

This is one of the single greatest purchases one can get. I purchased it quite a while ago, but lost the link this. I have the new updated version and the original release. These are much more clean.

Having new people at the table having never played thsi game, this resource is invaluable. You don't always have time to walk everyone through it, and double checking they were able to fill out everything correctly. This step by step process makes it incredibly easy for any new player to sit down and make a character, as well as level them up. If they still aren't catching on after the first few levels, no problem. This continues all the way to level 20 without making anyone feel guilty. It's especially great in that there's so many different books because each class has their own unique quirk that you might forget about. Especially if you've got a summoner or druid, and have to remember to level up your companion.

Highy, highly recommend this bundle. At the very lease, pick up the general workbook if nothing else. The convenience and peace of mind is worth it.

I'm hoping that eventually we might see this for 2e as well because I've already heard horror stories from players who are confused just from going from level 1 to level 2.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Character Workbooks [PFRPG 1e] [BUNDLE]
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Story Design: Mystery Stories
by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/17/2019 23:22:05

This is a short (12 pages of content) and concise guide to creating a mystery that will work in your role playing game. It describes what happens in three acts, and that becomes the plot points in your 3 to 8 adventure sessions. It covers how to add subplots and a dramatic turn that will make the ending more satisfying. The use of NPCs makes it all feel more realistic. It helped me get a handle on what the key NPCs will be doing, what locations I wanted to pre-plan... The prep chapter (3 pages) was helpful. I gave me some handle on what to do if the players guess the villain early -- because knowing who did it is not the same as solving the mystery.

The structure works for any kind of mystery where someone or some organization doesn't want the players to know something. It doesn't have to be a murder.

I found this very helpful, and for a week I took about a half hour on my drive and answered the questions in the book, creating a different mystery every night. Before you know it you can really come up with some amazing stuff.

It could be a little better if it had more specific advice about what to do if players miss a clue, or guess the villain, but there's another here to work with.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Story Design: Mystery Stories
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Strange Stories: Adventures Reimagined Volume 1
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/27/2019 02:26:02

This volume notes that the wording in the stories has been modernized or Americanized and that "the most jarring and offensive terms have been walked back to be less intrusive." I'm okay with that. This isn't a literary study edition, after all. If you want to see the unexpurgated original short stories, you can find them online or in various collections. The point here is to extract RPG material from the stories. The stories can satisfy that purpose without offensive language.

The stories themselves offer some good situations to consider for RPG purposes. Even better, the process of mining the stories for RPG material can be applied to other short stories.

Each story treatment includes a one-line summary (a logline, essentially), an overview of the story, and brief discussions of plot hooks, story goals, beginnings, middles, and ends. Each treatment also includes discussions of important characters, locations, obstacles, and objects.

At first glance, those might seem like something you could get from CliffsNotes or a book club. However, a strength here is that they look at these elements from an RPG perspective. For example, one story begins with a character pondering the joys of collecting orchids. The beginning from an RPG perspective is different; it's when the characters embark on their journey to go find a special orchid. For each element, the treatment looks at how you might adopt or adapt the story's version of events for an adventure you create.

I imagine some will call "railroading" at the prospect of having story goals and endings. To me, these treatments avoid railroading. I prefer having a concrete goal for the session, such that you can tell when you've got concrete success or concrete failure. The goals and endings don't have to be set in stone, either. The players might come up with their own solutions that deviate from the story, and that's okay. You or the players might adopt new goals during play. The goals and endings described here can easily be handled as initial defaults, to be adapted in play. Besides, if you don't like the story goal or the ending, don't use it.

This is all system-neutral. The stories themselves aren't genre-neutral, but you could apply the breakdowns of these stories to other settings.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Stories: Adventures Reimagined Volume 1
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