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Night's Black Agents: Solo Ops
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/21/2020 06:34:37

This is a perfectr 1on1 RPG product. The mechanics work great for individual player + GM, the pre-gen PC is great and the three "adventures" are top notch. I love the NBA regular game, but this product is even better.

Mechanics and story are tightly connected, so it is a little harder to prep a story on your own, but the 3 stories included will keep you and a friend busy for some gaming nights.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Night's Black Agents: Solo Ops
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition Enemy Within Campaign - Volume 1: Enemy in Shadows
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/08/2020 02:27:26

The Enemy in Shadows indeed is a faithful and improved remake of the original first modules of the Enemy Within campaign. The thing is that the source material just didn't age that well.

At the time of the original release, this campaign was groundbreaking. It was first to move away from "kill 'em and take their stuff" adventures, focussing instead on memorable NPCs, involved plots and putting investigation ahead of fighting to solve problems. So at the time of it's original release this would have gotten a 5-start review from me.

BUT: Looking at the adventure (new and old versions alike) from today's perspective, one can only note that this is a tight railroad. This doesn't have to be bad, as railroading sometimes is needed to tell a comprehensive story. But this railroad has some very bad "derailment points", of which I just mention a few below:

SPOILERS AHEAD

a) The whole plot hinges on on PC being a look-alike of a deceased (evil) NPC. But what happens if this PC dies? This is a real risk in a game as prone to random death as Warhammer. So you either give this one PC strong Plot-Armor or you can scrap significant parts of this adventure (and the next modules as well) if the PC passes away

b) Some logic PC action is completely ruled out and disregarded: The secret temple in the sewers will be cleaned out, no matter what the players do (i.e. put one PC on permanent guard there); the secret door can't be found no matter what; the cult traitor can't be protected no matter what; the players will be framed for murder no matter what ...

c) The investigation in Bögenhaven doesn't advance by smart thinking of the players. It is a thin trail of breadcrumps of NPC accidently dropping secret letters and notes out of their pockets. Nicely signed with a heptagram and a the skull of some beast

d) The final reveal comes with one big cultist getting cold feed and spilling the beans to the PC. But this only works if the PCs have contacted/questioned him before. But there is very little reason for the PCs to do that. So the whole plot breaks down if the PCs don't contact this one person out of the blue.

e) The opening adventure of the the next module Death on the Reik assumes that the PCs "befriended" a healer/herbalist in Enemy in Shadows. But there is no hook why they should befriend her. She is one of many tradespeople selling their products at the Schattenfest fair ground. PCs MIGHT talk to her, if they need healing herbs, but they for sure will not befriend her.

For above reasons I would give the source material a 1/5 stars from today's point of view. The good production quality of the new version raises it to 2/5 stars. Shame that they didn't decide to fix the weak points of the original though.

(Note: I GMed both the original verision some 30 years ago as well as the current version just last month. We decided to not continue the campaign for above mentioned reasons)



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition Enemy Within Campaign - Volume 1: Enemy in Shadows
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Shadowrun: Sixth World Beginner Box
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2019 08:27:10

I want my money back.

Not judging on the system itself, but on the non existing proof reading, editing and organization that has happened here.

  • Files in the zip-file not organized. Would have been an effort of 2 minutes to put numbers in front of each file name. (Pro-Tip: Use number 1 for a "Read this first" file such as the "Instruction sheet")
  • Reference cards (at least for spells) have complete nonsense written on them which makes them useless
    • All single target spells marked as "Direct combat spells", all AOE spells as "Indirect combat spells"
    • Complete inaccurate and senseless gibberish written on the reference cards for spells, e.g. flamestrike "Roll Sorcery + Magic and add net hits to target’s Defense Rating and to Body for Damage Resistance tests."

You have this particular card even reprinted in the rulebook where an example of using the rules for indirect spell totally disregards this nonsense written on the card.

Have not even checked for further faults in the documents, as I'm totally disgusted by the lack of effort for any proofreading.

CGL shows total disrespect to fans and customers for (again) putting half-finished waste on the market



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sixth World Beginner Box
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The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2018 15:09:08

Unfortunaly a number of ugly warts that makes this product fall short of (my) expectations:

  • A D10+attribute+skill vs Difficulty system where the fixed stats quickly make the D10 meaningless (which is already apparent in the first examples to explain the system in the rulebook, where a D10+26 is rolled against a difficulty of 19 (i.e. missing fit of stat range to standard deviation of randomizer)

  • Too many detailed modifiers (which will be eyeballed anyway in real game)

  • Crits and calld shots don't match

  • Too little choice in character design to allow e.g. a group of Witchers

  • Ugly layout choices (2-3 columns with changing width and overuse of italics; ugly coloured tables, totally unispiring character sheet) - look like straight from the 80s in a bad way

On the plus side is a treatment of the setting which is evicative and good crafting/alchemy rule



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
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The Void Core PDF
Publisher: WildFire
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/05/2013 07:19:11

First impression based on reading the core book and playing through the "tutorial adventure"

THE GOOD:

  • Very transparent design goals which are then implemented diligently - so you know up front if this is a game for you
  • Very accessable game - while it plays in a genre spot close to (but still significantly different) Eclipse Phase and NovaPraxis, it leaves out all the transhuman complexity
  • Clear role for PCs (Wardens) - GMs and PCs will not have the "and what now?" effect when trying to play
  • All rules are summed up in sidebars throughout the book, making it possible to skim each chapter very quickly and also find what you need quickly
  • A d6 dice pool mechanic that manages to keep pool size low (SR5 - look at The Void to see what you should have been dice engine wise!!!). Maximum pool size is 10d6, special equipment, maneuvers etc. don't give extra dice but free successes
  • Balanced and simple damage mechanism - each attack has the potential to seriousely harm you, but usually a PC can take 3-5 hits before going down
  • Choice of lifepath or "free design" CharGen
  • Good short fiction pieces that bring up the feel of the game

THE NOT SO GOOD

  • The setting (at least at this stage) lacks the depth of EP or NovaPraxis. This is an side-effect of the positive "accessibility", but I hope future supplements will expand the depth of the setting. Otherwise the "wardens investigate alien infestations/darks cults" might become tiresome after a while.
  • Multiple pools/mechanics for player influence on story. You have fate points (avoid certain death, 1 per player) and 2 different group pools that basically do the same stuff (i.e. re-roll test etc.). Seems as if at least one of these pools is too much - might be an artifact from the design phase. If it is intentional I do not get it
  • Skill list too long (e.g. 4 different athletics skills, multiple weapon skills etc.)
  • Disadvantages give addtional points for CharGen. When will game designers finally get rid of this broken concept ...

Overall very happy with the product. On a setting complexity (and setting depth) scale I would say Void< NP < EP. My personal setting complexity sweet spot is in the range of NovaPraxis, but the Void might be more in the sweet spot for my players. Rules wise this is a well designed game. Nothing innovative, but straight forward good.

Have fun! The Pat

PS: The adventure is a good show case of some of the setting elements. Nice mix of investigation, dark horror and combat. The 2nd half of the mission could have needed a bit more details to better work for less experienced GMs. And I have cut out the 2nd supernatural threat, which just seemed to be there "by coincidence"



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The One Ring™: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild 2011 Edition
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/06/2011 09:54:00

In terms of layout, writing and overall "feeling" this is a beautyful game right on the mark of my Tolkin vibes. The game has - by design - a very limited but deep focus on a particualr region, which results in more limited character options (races/cultures) than in earlier LotR games like MERP. It has been said on the forums that the name "The Hobbit RPG" might be more apt.

However, I have some significant issues with the game systems. I also thought about some "houserules" to fix those:

  1. Culture defines about 75% of your character's traits Not only do all members of a culture gain the same "cultural blessing", but a lot of skill ratings are defined by your culture. The custzomization options (selecting your calling; free skill points) are limited compared to this preset skillset. As a result, two characters of the same culture will be very similar, and even if you try very hard you won't be able to make two different characters from the same culture. And you won't be able to have a hobbit who is not very good at courtesy for example. Suggested house rule: Reduce the skill ratings for commoin skills from culture by one each (3 becomes 2, 2 becomes 1 and 1 becomes 0). Increase number of free skill points from 10 to 30 - results in same total skill ranks, but with much more freedom

  2. Traits give auto-success Traits are similar to FATE aspects, but they do not give a fixed bonus, but an auto-success when the player can argue that a trait should apply to the test. This is an automatic success NO MATTER THE SKILL RANK OF THE CHARACTER AND NO MATTER THE DIFFICULTY OF THE TEST! So even if you have no skills in "explore" and you want to navigate the nastiest swamp you could imagine, a player with an "adventurouse" character could just argue that this is just an adventurouse thing to do and get an automatic success. A player with the "burglary" trait will ALWAYS succeed in picking pockets, opening looks or disarming traps. This hugely removes tension and exitement from play - having 4-5 players at the table (with each character having 5 traits) you can be sure that at least one will have a solid case to apply a trait to every test you can think of. And - as opposed to FATE aspects - there is no cost to call in a trait. This is combined with very different "power levels" of traits. Just compare the trait "smoking" (you know everything about tabaco) with above mentioned "burglary"). Suggested house rule: It costs a hope point to use a trait, and a trait gives a flat out +4 bonus to the test (instead of auto-success)

  3. Rolling a "12" on the d12 is an auto-success If you roll a "12" (or Gandalf-rune if you use the custom dice) on your feat d12, you have an automatic success. Again, this is valid NO MATTER YOUR SKILL NOR THE DIFFICULTY OF THE TASK. So if you never shot a bow, but want to hit a coin at maximum range with strong winds blowing at night, you have a 1:12 (about 8%) chance of hitting the coin. Same chance by the way for the best elven sharpshooter out there. (Yes, of course a smart GM would call on common sense in such an extreme example, but the problem will come up at every table more borderline cases.) Suggested house rule: A "12" on the feat d12 counts as a "10" and you may reroll and add the feat d12


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild 2011 Edition
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Dresden Files RPG: Your Story
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2010 05:50:11

While it is clear to see that this book (and it's companion "Our World") is a work of love, I am overwhelmed and disappointed at the same time.

OVerwhelmed by the huge amount of options covered within in the rules, disappointed because it attaches some many details to the FATE engine that it really drags it down.

What is the benefit of the FATE system? A rules light, easy to grasp game engine that fosters player imagination and allows you to "quick start" a new game easily.

What happens if you link it with dozens of templates, stunts, powers etc.? It becomes just another heavy tome of rules. (Almost feels like HEROS, GURPSs or similar "take 10 days just to figure out how to build your character" systems).



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dresden Files RPG: Your Story
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Ardanyan's Revenge (Classic Edition)
Publisher: FASA
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/16/2008 00:30:22

This adventure is especialy suited to kick start a new Earthdawn campaign. Large part of the book is dedicated to background information, so Gamemasters should find it easy to build additional encounters/stories from these pages.

The adventure itself has some logical flaws which can lead to the last chapter not playing out as written in the book, but overall we have had some fun with this module.

Must say that there are some better "adventures" out therer for Earthdawn, but the extensive "setting"/background part of this product makes up for it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ardanyan's Revenge (Classic Edition)
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Betrayal's Sting: An Earthdawn Shard (Classic Edition)
Publisher: FASA
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/15/2008 11:49:34

Very short adventure - basically two encounters with an additional very "traditional" setup to introduce characters to the adventure. You could actually call this module a two-part along the road encounter.

Additional information on locals (not really conected to the story line) and NSCs (mostly long list of talents and values) dors not add much value to the product.

Crafty Gamemasters can use to different adventure hooks to expand this to a two session adventure, otherwise this "shard" will be played through very quickly.

But at this price you get at least one fun evening for less than 5 bucks.

Production value is at the overall upper range we are used to from RedBrick.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Betrayal's Sting: An Earthdawn Shard (Classic Edition)
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