Book Bout-Book Review of The Sundering Book III: The Adversary

Book– The Sundering Book III: The Adversary

Author – Erin M. Evans

Price- $8

TL;DR– Another good addition to the Sundering lineup 80%

 

Basics–  Time to return to the Realms.  Erin M. Evans returns to the Forgotten Realms continuing the story of Farideh and Havilar.  Farideh makes a deal with a devil and ends up being teleported through time.  Now Ferideh is caught up in a plot involving Asmodeus’ continuing godhood, devils vying for power, Netheril, and trying to do the right thing.  Havilar has to face the realities of what seven years can do to a relationship with a crown prince in Cormyr.

 

Setting– This book feels like it’s in the realms.  Everything feels right.  Lots of realm lore comes into play and those of us who are read lots of Forgotten Realms books will feel right at home and get a knowing wink from the author.  New readers will get a good background to at least part of the world. 4/5

 

Characters– This is truly an ensemble book.  Heck, the author doesn’t just have a main character; she’s got twin sisters running around stirring up trouble.  Every character gets a bit of time to shine, and when I was finished, I didn’t have a standout character who was my favorite.  I rooted for everybody all the way through.  However with the number of character running around, I did get a little confused from time to time on who someone was. 4/5

 

Story– I’ve talked before about the Sundering, and this book follows the same formula.  It takes a good story, introduces major players and what they’ve done since the last realms books came out, and sets up the characters for another book trilogy.  I like the story that this book has while it does set up major events in the realms, and I most likely will pick up the following trilogy.  The story itself is a bit long for my taste, and I did take a few breaks while getting through it.  I might not been the greatest page turner, but I am glad I read it.  4/5

 

Summary– I liked this story, maybe not as much as other Sundering books, but I did like this.  I know more about the realms now than I did before and want to see where it goes from here.  I like the characters I read about, and am honestly interested in what happens to them.  I can easily recommend this book. 80 %

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Movie– The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Run Time – ~2h 40min

 

TL;DR– A not faithful, but good movie 85%

 

Basics–  It’s the sequel to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  This movie picks up where the other left off.  The heroes move through Mirkwood, are captured by elves, escape, journey through Laketown, and then encounter Smaug with a cliffhanger ending.  The move has some significant departure from the source material and adds quite a bit of connections to the Lord of the Rings.

 

Cinematography– This movie looks amazing.  I loved the look of almost everything.  Peter Jackson knows how to make a movie look amazing.  Smaug is beautiful and terrifying.  However, some of the special effects do look strange.  I don’t know what the heck happened to Legolas, but he looks like he fell down the uncanny valley a bit.  4.5/5

 

Acting– This is another top notch performance by the Hobbit crew.  What’s great is how every cast member gets some spotlight time.  Sure Gandalf gets more than the others, but in this version he is more about his behind the scenes work and connections to the Lord of the Rings stuff.  However, every character gets a chance to shine.  Heck even Bombur gets a chance to show how amazing he is when the group escapes Mirkwood along the river. 5/5

 

Story– The story here is a good one.  Peter Jackson and Tolkien tell an amazing, family friendly tale. 5/5

 

Tolkien Faithfulness– Here is where things fall apart.  The Hobbit by itself will not take you 9 hours to read.  Jackson has to pad lots of stuff into those 9 hours, and he also started to whole sale change things.  Lots of time is given to Gandalf so a stronger connection to the Lord of the Rings can be made.  However, the Hobbit never had that connection.  Laketown is a brimming riot with 99% undertones.  Beorn is crazy and doesn’t get his moment of deception.  Now there are new elves and orcs.  Lots are added, and while it feels Tolkien in tone, it’s not Tolkien at the same time.  This really upset my wife.  I enjoyed it, but know that this was not the story that Tolkien wrote.  The story is there, but if you are a purest then this is not the movie you wanted. 2.5/5

 

Summary-It’s not a bad movie.  I liked what I saw.  I loved the first one, but only liked this one.  I’m glad I saw it, but didn’t have the desire to see this again right away like I did the last one. 85%

Daily Punch 1-20-14 Ranger Beast Companion Fighting Style for DnD Next

How about a little love for DnD Next?  I think Rangers should be able to get a faithful friend, lets see what we can do

 

Fighting Style Ranger Second Level

Beast Companion

You choose a natural beast monster (pending DM approval and environmental considerations) of your level or lower.  This is now your faithful companion.  It moves as part of your move, but you must use your action to cause the beast to attack.  Using your reaction, any creature that attacks another target while engaged with your beast companion gains disadvantage for that attack.

 

Thoughts?

Ring Side Report- Board Game Review of Thunderstone Advanced: Numenera

Game-Thunderstone Advanced: Numenera

Producer– AEG

Cost– $60

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 1 1/2 hours

TL;DR– Great merger of two great things 92.5%

 

Basics– Are you ready for the 9th world?  Thunderstone is a deck building game.  All players start with a deck that contains some regulars (basic fighters), some weapons, some lights, and two thunderstone shards.  What makes this game more involved then Dominion is the options presented to you on your turn.  On a players turn they draw six cards then decide to go to the village (buys cards/level up), dungeon (fight monsters for points/exp to level), rest (destroy cards from you deck), or prepare (discard some cards then draw to six).  When you shop, you reveal cards with a gold value then purchase a card from the village.  The village cards range from more heroes with special powers, items, weapons, villagers, or spells.  You can also level up heroes.  If you have enough experience point chips (cyphers) you can spend them to level up a hero to his/her next rank, destroying his/her card and gaining the better version of him/her.  The dungeon is also an important addition to this deck building game.  Monsters have hit points and other powers as well as a rank.  Rank is determined by how closer to the dungeon draw deck they are.  The higher the rank, the more light you need to fight the monster and not take a penalty to attacking the creature.  When you do attack, you need heroes to attack as well as weapons for them to equip and spells or items for more light or damage.  When you defeat a monster, it goes into your discard pile and it give you points at the end of the game as well as cyphers.  The game continues until the Thunderstone bearer is reveled.  When the monster is defeated of reach rank one, the game is over.  Players count points in their deck, and the player with the most wins.

 

Mechanics: This is a good addition to the Thunderstone family.  Thunderstone and Thunderstone Advanced seem pretty similar.  Not to generalize to much, but if you have played one deck builder, then you have played them all in that managing what goes into your deck is the most important thing.  However, I really love this game more the other games like Dominon as the dungeon adds a whole new level of play.  The dungeon really ties the whole RPG/fantasy part of the game together making theme and mechanics go well together right from the start.  This game adds a few new twists: cyphers, a location, and treasures.  Cyphers are experience points, but you can spend one per turn for an additional effect.  The cyphers come in a little bag and are multicolored.  The multiple colors represent different one time effects.  This is a great addition.  The location is a card that dictates a bit of random effects from the environment.  The location activates when players begin to spend cyphers. Again this is another fun, Numenera addition to the game.  The final addition is the treasures.  These are cards that are mixed in with the monsters.  When you draw one, you draw other monsters, and that monster then uses that item.  When you defeat the monster, you get the card and use its beneficial effects.  Again, it’s another cool addition to the game.  All and all this game is great fun if you love deck builders. 4.5/5

 

Theme:  I am mixed here.  The game comes with some awesome Numenera additions that really made me happy.  I did feel like I was in a small village building up a group of people to battle the unknown.  I loved that.  I loved the little bag with the cyphers.  I love the cyphers!  I love the locations!  But, what I missed was a bit of flavor.  I liked the monsters, but I don’t know who they are.  I would have loved a little flavor text to build the Numenera world a little.  The same goes for the items, locations, heroes.  All great, all flavorful, but I wanted just a little bit more.  The locations are cool, but what is going on here?  Give me a half paragraph describing the place.  Also, I love the heroes, but I hate the final level of them.  The Numenera structure is adjective noun who verbs for character creation.  So why are the heroes Enhanced adjective nouns?  I know size/typeset, but I’ll take smaller typeface for the real deal.  Same goes for money.  I know Thunderstone has a set card face, but why not make the gold shins?  I just had a bunch of little things that got under my skin here. 4/5

 

Rules: The rule book is think and intimidating, however it’s well written.  I like what I saw.  Cards with difficult explanations get a full write up in the book.  Lots of examples are provided, so you learn how to play a deck builder.  While it’s a tome, it’s a well built tome.  5/5

 

Execution/Art:  AEG is learned a lot from the first Thunderstone and Dominion.  The box is great and has those awesome foam inserts so more cards will fit (AKA I will buy more and put them in this game).  The separator cards are giant, so I can sort them quick.  I love the new board design, so I have a nice place to put all my stuff that looks great and not messy.  I am ecstatic with the little Thunderstone cypher bag and the little chits. You get great Numenera flavor throughout the whole game.  This is a quality game. 5/5

 

Summary:  Thunderstone is my deck builder.  I loved the base game and spent way too much on Facebook buying cards I own in real life to pay online.  I love Numenera.  These two coming together is like peanut butter and jelly and less like sushi and chocolate.  It could have gone horrible, but it’s come out amazing!  If you want a great intro product to Thunderstone, then this is a great grab.  If you want to try deck builders and are a RPG gamer, then this is a good grab.  I’m just happy I was able to get one. 92.5%

1-17-14 Protecting adjective in Numenera

Ok, one more idea for Numenera, the protecting adjective-

Protecting

You’re a guardian.  You protect others.  If for gold or duty, you protect others as if your life depended on it. You will keep your charge alive at all costs.

You gain the following benefits:

Agile: +2 to your Speed pool.

Skill: You are trained in perception.

Skill: You are trained in defense rolls to resist physical attacks.

Ability: You gain the following benefit

  • Get Down! (2 Speed points): As a free action off turn, you may shove any creature at immediate distance from you to the ground and take any attack meant for them on yourself.  You must be aware of the attacker.  You may only do this once per turn.  Action.

Additional Equipment: You start the game with armor of your choice.

      Initial Link to the Starting Adventure:  From the following list of options, choose how you become involved in the first adventure.

  1. You are following your former master.
  2. You’ve be hired to guide some settlers to a place
  3. A friend in this location is in trouble.
  4. You feel a pull in your soul to this location.

 

1-16-17 Commanding adjective in Numenera

How about some more ideas for Numenera?  How about the commanding adjective-

 

Commanding

You’ve spent time on the battlefield.  Either as a leader or as a follower, you’ve seen combat.  It was not glorious, it was not beautiful, it was war.  You have left that life of constant struggle for the life of an adventurer.  You carry your wounds inside and out.

You gain the following benefits:

Quick Study: +2 to your intellect pool

Skill: You’ve trained in all physical actions that require exertion that are not stealthy ie running, climbing etc

Skill: You are trained in understanding war tactics

Ability: You gain the following benefit

  • Command (2 intellect points):  You’ve learned to to motivate men, women, and others.  As a free action on your turn, you can command your allies to strike a target.  If they do, reduce the level of the target by one.  Action.

      Inability: You’ve time in the service has strained your social graces.  The difficulty of any task involving charm is increased by one step.

Additional Equipment: You start the game with a set of military regalia including one dress uniform, one basic uniform, and any awards you received.

Initial Link to the Starting Adventure:  From the following list of options, choose how you become involved in the first adventure.

  1. You are touring your old battlegrounds to see how life has changed.
  2. You feel you must atone for past acts and are traveling.
  3. You are visiting a former friend from the war.
  4. While you have left the army, you have been given one last command to go to this place.

1-15-14 Animal Rider Feat for DnD Next

How about some love for DnD Next?

 

Animal Rider

You gain the following benefits:

  • Increase you Wisdom by 1 to a maximum of 20 or animal handling becomes a trained skill for you.
  • If an animal you are riding is attacked, you may impose disadvantage to one attack per round to that animal.
  • If an animal you are riding is attacked and hit by a physical attack, you may elect to take half the damage.

Ring Side Report- Shadowrun Double Feature Review- Coyotes PDF and GM Screen

Time for a double feature review for Shadowrun.  Let’s go over two recently released Shadowrun items- 5e GM screen and the latest PDF Coyotes

First the Screen

 

Product– Shadowrun 5e GM Screen

Producer– Catalyst Game Labs

Price-$20

TL;DR-Great product you need for the new edition 95%

Crunch/Mechanics– The tables you need without the page flipping!  I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.  Now I don’t have to scroll across the whole book to find the one table I need to resolve that one test.  The absolute BEST part of these tables is that each one comes with PAGE NUMBERS!  If I don’t remember a small detail, now I know exactly where to go to get it.  On my side of the screen, it’s a fabulous product I’ve needed for a long time. 5/5

Execution– The front of the screen is a scene from an Ork underground rock concert.  Lot’s of metahumanity in one place.  Someone is giving the players a finger.  Looks beautiful.  I want my screen to be lower to I can see the players better and wider so I can fit more behind the screen, but the cardboard is high quality and stands up well with a nice shiny coat for protection.  A great job. 4.5/5

Summary–  I love this product.  It’s well done.  I want something a little different, but they didn’t ask me!  The price is a bit high, but it’s comparable to all the other GM screens out there.  Basically, if you run lots of Shadowrun, you want this product.  I wish this was a PDF so I could use it to help my players without tipping my screen to them. 95%

 

Now, “Coyotes”

 

Product– Coyotes

Producer– Catalyst Game Labs

Price– $8

TL;DR– Good add for GMs looking to add international tension to a game. 90%

Basics-You need a ride?  Coyotes are specialist smugglers who get people across borders.  This supplement covers what to expect when you cross different kinds of borders ranging from the simple guarded gate to countries at war.  The book is mostly told through a web post by a professional Coyote near Seattle.  Near the end of the book, different example Coyotes are presented. The last section of the book is a complete adventure any GM can run where the players are hired Coyotes.

Fluff/Story-  Most of this book is fluff.  The book focus on how different border crossings will occur as well as giving runners hints on how to cross these borders.  The stories are well written and an interesting read.  I enjoyed it. 5/5

Crunch/Mechanics- This is not a numbers book.  Make no mistake, the book does give statistics, but this isn’t a general spat book for everyone.  The book outlines what to expect at different borders and give what defenses the guards will have on hand.  I would have liked a few example drawings as some border crossings are referenced, but never shown.  The inclusion of the adventure really makes this awesome. 4.5/5

Execution- The book is well laid out.  It’s a bit expensive for $8 bucks for 30 pages, but I didn’t hate reading this. 4/5

Art- The art in this book is pretty good.  Some art is recycled from previous stuff which I don’t like but most of the referenced characters get their own picture.  That makes me happy.  I would have liked pictures/maps of a few things, but I do like what I see. 4.5/5

Summary- This is a good book.  It’s not something everyone at the tables needs, but if you want to be a coyote, this is the book for you.  If you are a GM and you want either a quick adventure for the next game, or you want to add tension when most players assume their safe like on a highway between places/adventures, this is an excellent addition to your library. 90%

Daily Punch 1-14-14 Speed Freak Quality in Shadowrun

How about a Shadowrun idea?  Trait for the speedsters out there?

Speed Freak

Cost: 5 karma

You live for speed and  you go faster then anyone.  In your first initiative pass, you may take a minus 15 after taking your first turn.  If you still have a positive initiative score, you may immediately go again with a full turn.  Your score will be reduced by 10 as normal at the end of the pass.

Thoughts?