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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Heroes and Other Worlds - A review, of sorts

I've been following the blog Heroes & Other Worlds for some time now, reading about Mr. Brandon's game idea, that was called Roguish at the time.

He's published his rules, Heroes & Other Worlds through Lulu now, available in both PDF and Softcover format for what I consider to be reasonable prices.

Last week, I decided that I wanted to read a bit more of this, so I ordered the softcover and I received it yesterday.

I'd like to share a few thoughts about this product after reading through it last night.

The Purchasing Process
This was the first print product I've purchased through Lulu.  
POD printing and Shipping was accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, in something of an exceptional amount of time if you take into account that we are rushing headlong towards Christmas and it's usually when shipping slows to a snails pace.
I received an email with a tracking number when my book shipped, so I was able to keep pace with it's progress, coming from New York State to North Georgia.
Once shipped, it got to me within 3 business days.  I did pay a few dollars extra for expedited shipping, normally I'd have no problem with Media Mail or standard shipping options, but Not at this time of the year, and we're only talking about $4 extra, so it was worth the price.

I was able to find a coupon for 20% off online for Lulu, so it pretty much covered my shipping.

The Physical Product
A nice, 6x9 perfect bound softcover, around 120 or so pages (I'm at work, the book is at home).  The interior is black on white paper, a nice matte finish paper, so it's easy to read, I had no problems with glare.  The interior art varies in quality, from decent to really good.  I recognized a few pieces as being from sets you can purchase through Drive Thru RPG, which is not a complaint, just an observation.  I've purchased a few of the same sets to make use of when (if) I ever put together anything of my own for commercial release.

The Rules
My first read through gave me a decent understanding of the rules.  I would have no hesitation to taking the book, some blank 6x9 cards (for character sheets, my eyes aren't too great for 3x5 cards :P), a handful of dice and putting together a quick run for some folks.  

Attributes are point buy off a base, I created three adventurers while I was watching TV with the wife after my read through, and even with the distraction, they took less than 5 minutes each, but still managed to have some personality and individuality.

There are two classes, I think they are called Adventurer and Wizard, although either can learn anything they wish, the costs are just a bit different based upon their focus.

I'm not going to put a bunch of spoilers here, but suffice to say, I did like what I found within the covers of the book.

There is a good section on running the game, with rules for many different situations.  This is a rules light game that manages to have a decent amount of crunch if needed.  A good sized bestiary is included, as is a starting adventure.

Overall, A nice, complete product you can take with you and be ready to run a game with a minimal amount of preparation time.

Things I Really Liked:
The simplicity and lack of complication.   I work 60+ hours a week and have 5 grandchildren, ranging in age from 3 to 17 years, so I don't have massive amounts of free time.  A system like this that will allow me to run a game with minimal prep is a plus.

The writing style is straightforward and unpretentious.

Things I Disliked:
Nothing that I've found so far

Things I Would Have Liked to Have:
An option to purchase both a Softcover AND a PDF would have been nice.   As it is, I'll be going back in a week or so and ordering the PDF version as well.  I prefer a dead tree book at the game table and for reading over the rules, but I like to have a PDF that I can copy/paste stuff from for game prep and handouts.   This is a very minor point.

Had there been a Hardcover option in addition to the Softcover, I would have purchased it.  I like hardcovers :D

Overall Rating (out of 5)

I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a nice, useable system that doesn't require hours of prep time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Character Sheet for Amazing Adventures

Troll Lords is about to release Amazing Adventures (I think they actually had a few hard copies at GenCon, but I didn't go), and I have a PDF pre-ordered.    Over on the Troll Lord Boards, Mr. Vey, who I believe is the primary author, released his personal character sheet design for folks to use.

Being, as any readers of this blog knows, more fond of landscape character sheets, I took it upon myself to create a landscape version of his sheet.

This may get updated once I get my book, but for now, if you are one of the lucky few to have a book and want to use this sheet, it is here and also on the character sheet sidebar to the right.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

BASH Hero Sheet

I've been looking at the BASH Ultimate Edition and have decided to make a landscape character sheet for it. (Imagine that :P)

Linked here and in the sidebar

BASH Landscape sheet

Thursday, May 24, 2012

If you saw the earlier link and wondered what happened. . . I couldn't get the editor to cooperate, so I deleted the post and re-posted

I just finished putting together the first draft of a layered DCC Sheet. When you open the document with Acrobat Reader, click on the layers button on the left and you can choose several options, from a 2 up zero level sheet (the default view), to an individual sheet for each class.

These are inspired by both the cool online generator over at Purple Sorcerer and the official sheets available on the website here at Goodman Games.

I say first draft, because if you download these and make use of them, please leave feedback as to what, within reason they may be needing and especially if they are missing something essential.

They can be downloaded from this link  and I'll also put them on the sheets section over to the right.

Let me know what I missed, my players will tell you, I always miss something

hope you find them useful

Friday, May 18, 2012

Neoclassical Geek Revival Review

This is a review of Neoclassical Geek Revival

Produced by Zzarchov Kowolski of the Unofficial Games blog, located at http://zzarchov.blogspot.com/

This game can be purchased in pdf from Drive Thru RPG. It is about to become available in a printed version that can be obtained by contacting the author at the blog listed above.

This review is of the PDF version, which I received as a review copy from the author.

First: The structure and layout of the game

A caveat before I begin, I work as a graphic designer for a printing company, so some of the things I note are things that most people most likely wouldn't consider an issue and none of them were overwhelmingly annoying things.

The pdf is laid out in two column style with nice, comfortable margins and an easily read font style. The gutter (the space between the two columns) was a little tight for my taste, but please bear in mind the caveat above.

100 pages total, that's it. This is a good size for a game manual. I only noticed a handful of spelling errors as I read, but they were easily 'fixed' by context as I read, and none of them being major.

Artwork was minimal, but appropriate for the book and appeared to be all from the same source, as the art style was quite consistent. There are no credits in the pdf version, but from the style of the art, I'm assuming that they are from a public domain source, which is not a criticism, merely an observation. As I said, the art is quite appropriate and the author made the effort to find qood quality illustrations to use.

There is a table of contents, which serves it's purpose. I would have liked to see an index, but I know from experience that building an index can be a royal pain in the rear and may or may not be used, so I understand the lack of one.

My score for the Structure and Layout of the document: 4½ out of 5 stars.

The Game itself:
The author tells you in the introduction that this game assumes you understand roleplaying games and that it is laid out in the order required to play. I like this, as I had no difficulties following the flow of the rules and was not constantly 'flipping' back and forth, which I find myself doing quite a bit with games put out by larger and more established companies.

This game uses elements that will be familiar to anyone who has ever been exposed to roleplaying games, and can be used as a complete game, being 'old school' in it's design, by which I mean that the GM may have to make rulings as play progresses, which I consider to be a positive feature. Every potential situation you may encounter during a campaign is not covered, so if you are uncomfortable with GM fiat, you may want to use this as a toolkit, a use for which it has great potential.

One rule that jumped out at me right from the beginning was the one where on a non-d20 roll, the total modifiers may not exceed the value rolled on the dice. This means that if you have a +4 damage modifier and roll a 3 on your dice, you only do 6 points of damage, not 7.

I like that, wish I had thought of it. Nice, clean and simple.

Attributes are similar to other games that use a 20 sider, with two more attributes than most, and a few renamed. . .

Strength, Agility, Health, Awareness, Intelligence, Social, Luck and Spirit.

Luck is very useful to everyone, as it can be spent to offset damage (social and physical) and to 'avoid suspicion' (useful in covert actions). The other attributes affect things pretty much as you might suspect if you are familiar with this type of game.

There are character classes, but yet, there aren't. Each character gets a number of slices of the 'class pie' and may choose to put all of his slices as one class type, or he may spread them out a bit. Putting all of your slices as one type gains you additional abilities and a special ability only available if you have the whole pie. Spreading them out, of course, gives you a bit more versatility. Overall, a nice way to customize your characters.

There are such things as the Group Template, which gives you connections to other characters (at least two) and some minor benefits and gives you a bit more reason to be together other than 'you are disparate strangers who meet in a tavern and decide to go risk life and limb together.'

Instead of Alignment, the characters are further defined by their Morality, which does not restrict them in actions, but may cause them some personal guilt or recriminations (kind of like real life).

In terms of races, Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Wee Folk are listed. Elves and Dwarves have some specifics listed such as Elves are fae folk and take double damage from iron based weapons, and Dwarves age when exposed to sunlight (there are other things as well, but you should buy the pdf or book to see the whole of it).

Using Counterspells in magic is very nice. If you know the same spell as that being cast, you can automatically counter it, otherwise you roll your dice and spend 1d6 mana to attempt to counter the spell. Another good, and simple mechanic, and it is used to explain why spellcasters aren't big on sharing their techniques with others who may one day be at odds with them.

There are a number of really cool ideas in this game, such as the Lucky Number, Luck, Fate and Destiny points, but I'm not going to describe all of them here, suffice it to say, even if you weren't going to use this book to run a game with the rules as written, there are any number of ideas that can be mined from it.

A few other cool bits that I'll touch upon briefly. . .
Scaling Damage. You multiply the damage you do by your size (humans = 1, dragons = 8, for instance), or divide how much you take.

Encumbrance System . . . you get a number of dots equal to your strength score, items are ranked by dots. Containers give you more dots, for instance, a backpack will use up 4 dots, but can hold 8 dots of gear (maximum 2 dot sized items) and takes 1d4 rounds to search through to find that item you packed in there.

These are only a few of the many very nice ideas spelled out in this 100 page document. I doubt that I'll run it as written, but I seldom run anything as written, just ask my poor players. I will, however, be taking my 7 dwarves and their picks and shovels into this for some serious mining.

My rating for Substance of the Game itself: 5 out of 5 stars.

Overall rating: 9½ out of 10 stars.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Avengers Movie Review

Wow!  That's it, that's my review.  Done, move along.   No, really, I'm not going to say anything else.

Still here?

Fine, I'll elaborate just a little. . . 

My wife and I just got home from seeing the Avengers.  I asked her to choose from Dark Shadows, the Raven and The Avengers, all three of which we both want to see.   She chose the Avengers, because both of the others are unlikely to 'require' big screen presence to really enjoy them.

Unfortunately, we cut it a bit close and got to our seats just as the movie was about to start, so we didn't see any trailers for stuff that I'm sure I've searched out and watched repeatedly on the internet, but would have like to have seen.

For me, this movie is a spectacular success.   My criteria is that I be entertained for the time I am in the theatre.   In that respect, I give Avengers 8 stars out of 5.   There was never a dull moment, the action was incredible, the dialogue terrific.  There was great humor and the cast worked quite well together.

Will I see it again?

If I have an opportunity, for there are many movies coming up this summer that I wish to see on the big screen.

Will I buy the blu-ray (or DvD)? 


Would I recommend it?

If you enjoy a fun couple of hours watching action movies?   Yes!!

Oh, and on the way out of the theatre, I pointed out the display for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter to my wife.

Her response . . . . 

"That looks like it could be fun!"

Yeah, I'm a really lucky guy.

Postscript:   by the way, for what it's worth . . . I think Mark Ruffalo is the best Banner/Hulk so far.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I was digging through my old files. . .

Nope, not a map today :D

I was looking for something (don't remember what now) and came across some pregenerated characters I did for a game I was considering running at one point.   It's saved as Cold Warriors 1954, and I don't have any other notes, which means this probably never got past the point of scribbles in a notebook and making the character sheet and a handful of pregens before GM ADD set in.

Regardless, here are the Agents of the Initiative for Counter Espionage as I had them prepared for the test I was going to run.   I found the pdf of the black character sheet as well and dropped in into the character sheet list over on the left.

Oh, and I just pulled the names for NPC contacts and enemies out of my rump, so if I put any names that are offensive or just plain stupid, consider their source :P

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yet more map doodling

hey, guess what?  I was bored, I made a map, mostly unlabeled, even colorized a version of it.

Have at it, creatively commons wise :D

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Map of the Lake Country

Last night, while my wife was watching Dancing with the Stars, I was piddling around in Photoshop and this map came out of the piddle :D

I used one of the hex grids from Adventurer Conquerer King for the overlay and I am also attaching one without a hex grid.

Feel free to make use of these if you like, consider them to be covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, January 20, 2012

AGE Worksheets

Sometime this weekend, I intend to start working on some notes for using the AGE rules (Dragon Age) for my own fantasy setting.

In preparation, I've created some simple worksheets (mostly just blank tables with some appropriate headings).   I'm placing links here (and in my DA Character Journal sidebar) for anyone who might find them useful.

AGE Armor Worksheet

AGE Available Weapons Worksheet

AGE Weapon Ranges Worksheet

AGE Talents Worksheet

AGE Spells Worksheet

AGE Class Worksheet

AGE Backgrounds Worksheet

AGE Armor List Worksheet

Blank Mapping Grid