Ring Side Report- Numenera Source book Mega Review

How about a multi-part review of the recent Numenera source book releases?  Ok, let’s go!

 

Product: In Strange Aeons: Lovecraftian Numenera

Producer: Monte Cook Games

Price: ~$3

System: Numenera

TL;DR–  If you love Numenera and Cthulhu, then it’s a no brainer! 90%

 

Basics:  Time to mix Cthulhu and Numenera like chocolate and peanut butter.  This book gives the GM’s ideas, mechanics, and monsters for Numenera.  The book starts with a discussion of what Lovecraftian horror is then moves to mixing that in with Numenera.  From there, the book dives right in to rules for the cosmic horror in the game system.  To round out the short 13 pages, the book gives some new descriptors for the PCs and monsters as well as some classic Lovecraftian horrors for your game.

 

Theme:  Knocked it right out of the park!  The book uses its short run to really hammer home the ideas of cosmic horror and explain the basics of to the uninitiated.  And this book comes with a short suggested reading list.  That is necessary!  What’s there is a great way to get someone into the mythos quickly and efficiently.  And the whole idea of Numenera really does work well with Lovecraft unlike some other games. 5/5

 

Mechanics: Again, this section is amazing.  The use of the cypher system works well here to illustrate how different types of damage hurt the player in different ways.  The added rules are not the bulky and really do bring home the Lovecraft with sanity damage.  The book doesn’t add a whole lot of extra in terms of player content, but what it does have is really focused Lovecraft content.  The monsters that area added are also well done.  One thing that really hurt the book though is the absence of a particular giant, tentacled horror that really should have been in this product! 4.5/5

 

Art:  The book has new art that is atmospheric.  I love what I see, but I think there should have been a bit more or varied the pictures more.  I don’t particularly like the blurry style that some of the smaller picture.  Nothing is bad here, but a lot of the art is repeated in a small book.  However, this book has one of the best pictures of a shoggoth you will ever see. 4/5

 

Execution:  The book is well put together.  The text reads well, and the flow leads your eye.  I like the side comments in the margins.  Those little tidbits really make the book come alive.  It feels like a Lovecraft and Numenera book.  The price isn’t horrible.  I don’t like the $3 price for 13 pages, but it’s comparable to other PDF only books by other publisher. 4.5/5

 

Summary:  This is a great book to introduce a Numenera group to Lovecraft.  The book is short, but does pack a punch.  Anytime you add a new aspect to a game, I love a reading list and this one has one.  This book isn’t perfect, but it is amazing.  If you want to add some Lovecraft flare to your game, this is your book and you need to buy it now.  If you don’t want to add that, then this isn’t the book for you. 90%

 

Number 2!

 

Product: Cypher Collection 1

Producer: Monte Cook Games

Price: ~$3

System: Numenera

TL;DR– Want some more cyphers?  Here you go! 95%

 

Basics: Need some more one time use, random items from all across the previous eight worlds?  This book is cholk full of them!

 

Theme:  For a book of items, I didn’t expect many.  However, I was wrong.  Monte Cook Games likes to put random little side things in the margins.  That is amazing as it adds depth to each of the items they talk about.  The items do get some nice descriptions even if they don’t get text in the margins. 5/5

 

Mechanics: This book should almost solely be dedicated to mechanics since it’s an item book.  However, that would merely make the book passable.  This book goes a step ahead and gives you a random item generator early in the book.  That right there is why the book gets a 5.  5/5

 

Art: This book kind of suffers from the same art problem as all the other Numenera books.  The art isn’t bad, but it’s reused a lot for a short book.  Also some of the art is this book looks a bit out of place as some looks almost like clip art.  Nothing bad and it does give some world building via pictures, but it’s not my favorite. 4/5

 

Execution:  In terms of text and layout, this is another well done book.  It reads quick.  It’s entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt my head to look over it.  The 1st page is the random item generator because that the page I’m going to use the most from this book.  And that right there shows that this was made by gamers for gamers.  Heck, for 50 items for $3, I won’t even complain about the price!  5/5

 

Summary:  If you like Numenera, then you need this book.  Now, everybody won’t need a copy, but if the GM has a copy, then the table will benefit.  This is a simple, well done book with lots of new random items, and you need a copy for your Numenera game. 95%

 

Number 3!

 

Product: Artifacts and Oddities Collection 1

Producer: Monte Cook Games

Price: ~$3

System: Numenera

TL;DR– Want some more random items for Numenera?  Here you go? 100%

 

Basics: Need a bunch more powerful, random items and random, strange items for your Numenera game?  Here you go?  This book give you 50 artifacts, powerful items that may not deplete after use, and 50 oddities, not powerful items that may give much smaller effects like on the scale of a flashlight.

 

Theme: Again, there is a suppressing amount of story in this item book.  Much like all other Numenera books, the authors add side notes in the margin that add to the Numenera world.  Also, the items have great descriptions to help you visualize the objects in question. 5/5

 

Mechanics:  This is basically a mechanics book since it’s dedicated to items.  What’s more, this book has TWICE as many items as the last one with both artifacts and oddities.  The items are all fresh and interesting, so its value for money in my opinion.  And RANDOM TABLES!   FOR BOTH ARIFACTS AND ODDITIES! That is amazing!  Why is that not in more item books?! 5/5

 

Art:  I’ve only started writing these reviews, but in this book the authors look like the listened to my comments.  This book has fewer reuses of pictures and less random pictures.  There is a semi-random welding mask, but I like the art here.  Much better! 5/5

 

Execution:  This book follows the Cypher collection 1 book and follows a similar layout and text arrangement.  I loved it there, and I love it here.  And for $3, you get 100 things.  That’s a good value. 5/5

 

Summary:  Again, a simple, well done item book that add to the world of Numenera.  You will only need one at the table, but it’s something that any Numenera table needs one of at their table. 100%

 

How about a Monster Manual?

 

Product: The Ninth World Bestiary

Producer: Monte Cook Games

Price: ~$14 (PDF)

System: Cypher System

TL;DR– How about a bunch more Monster for your Numenera game? 100%

 

Basics:  The Numenera book comes with a selection of monster to throw at the PCs.  However, it’s not a lot.  This book adds lots of different monsters to the world describing the motivations, environment, and even life cycle of the various denizens of the ninth world.  After the monsters, the book goes into specific people that the PCs could encounter in their travels.

 

Theme:  The ninth world is not a simple place.  Goblins don’t just eat people because that’s what goblins do in this game.  In this game, everything has a motivation.  Some things might be things from millennia ago who are robots executing instructions that should have stopped eons ago.  In this book, each enemy gets a write up like that.  The attacks have themes rather than just damage.  The horrors of the ninth world get vivid descriptions and little bits of text from survivors help build the world more.  When all’s said and done, I found myself sitting and reading this book not being able to put it down just based on stories along!  5/5

 

Mechanics:  The Cypher system is pretty simple, so the mechanics could have been just a level.  However, the creatures of this world get full page descriptions describing different aspects of the numbers behind the creatures.  That’s great.  What propels this book into amazing is the random tables.  The random tables give different encounters in different environments.  While I know random encounter are not everybody’s favorite, when I want to throw something at my PC, having a table that I could just roll on quick really helps me move the game along! 5/5

 

Art: Most books that add monsters to a system fail to add pictures to most of the monster.  I want something I can show my friends and get them to be scared right away.  In this book each monster gets about a page spread and almost all get a picture.  Right there is awesome.  Even better, most monsters have a small picture showing a size comparison to an adult man.  Those bits of art makes my job as a GM that much easier and build the world that much faster.  5/5

 

Execution:  I love the Numenera book style.  It’s sleek, reads quickly, and isn’t cluttered.  The background isn’t hard to see the text through, and I have enough white space to not feel like it’s the ravings of a madman in a notebook.  Heck, the price isn’t even that bad for the PDF.  5/5

 

Summary:  This book should come free with the purchase of the Thunderstone Advanced: Numenera game.  Almost all the monsters in that game come from this and NOW I know what horrors I was playing against in the card game.  For the RPG, make sure the GM picks this book up.  Players don’t really need a copy of this one, but it will really help any Numenera group if the GM gets this. 100%

 

And the most controversial item produced by Monte Cook Games thus far….

 

Product: Sex and Love in the Ninth World

Producer: Monte Cook Games

Price: ~$3

System: Numenera

TL;DR– An adult discussion of sex and love in the Numenera Game. 87.5%

 

Basics: This is the most controversial book released for Numenera.  This book covers the hows and why of adding sex and love as factors in your Numenera game.  While the book covers an adult subject, the book does not go into any graphic detail, making it relatively non-offensive.  However it does mention some things that may offend some readers.  Much like “In Strange Aeons: Lovecraftian Numenera” the book starts with how to introduce sex as a concept into Numenera games. This is accompanies by a large discussion of all the ways this may affect your game, both positively and negatively.  Next the book describes different mechanics aspects of sex and love in Numenera covering grounds from amounts different gifts cost to different STD effects.  The book finishes with different artifacts, cyphers, and oddities that may appear in your Numenera game if sex is an element of your campaign.

 

Theme:  This book is an interesting one.  Overall I think it was well done describing how sex and love can affect the world of Numenera.  I have to save I disagree with the author as she maintains that most sexism will not be present in one billion years, but that view may be my low faith in humanity speaking. 5/5

 

Mechanics:  Unlike ” In Strange Aeons: Lovecraftian Numenera” this book doesn’t has as much mechanics for the players.  This is well done with the addition of several artifacts, oddities, and cypthers, but I felt there was not as much here as a lot of the book was warnings to GMs to seriously consider if sex is appropriate for your campaign.  I felt that took away a little from the book. 4.5/5

 

Art:  This book suffers from some of the original Numenera book problems as much of the same art is repeated through the short book  The art is good, but in a 13 page book one pages is art and that picture is repeated on two other pages as a small pictures.  4/5

 

Execution:  This is a well laid out book.  Like all the other Numenera books I’ve reviewed, it’s laid out in the same, well thought out style and is an easy read.  However, the price is a bit high for a source book that mostly discusses problems in execution of the source material.  Also, I felt that section of the book was a bit long and that impacted some of the available material.  Nothing is horrible, but I felt that the book was a bit over-concerned with warning the GM. 4/5

 

Summary:  This is a good book.  It has its flaws, but mostly this book will help you add a new dimension to your Numenera game.  The book is very conservative giving the subject matter compared to other books on the topic (looking right at you Book of Erotic Fantasy 3e!, then sheepishly looking away quickly) in both pictures and discussion.  This is a one copy at the table book as only the GM will need this for both its advice and mechanics.  If you want to add this to your Numenera game, then I think this is worth a read. 87.5%

Daily Punch 2-19-14 New encounter type for the Lord of the Rings LCG

I love the Lord of the Rings LCG.  We have the standard will power quest that uses willpower, we have battle that uses attack, and we have siege that uses defense…how about one more?

Endurance-This questing mechanics works much like the other quests.  Players assign characters to the quest as normal, however, the total threat of the enemy is compared to the health of all assigned characters.  Players do not gain threat as normal, however, any difference between the threat total and the enemy total is damage that must be assigned to each players heroes and characters.  Characters can only have as much damage assigned to to as they have health preventing one character taking all the damage, and if you do not quest, you will receive a high amount of damage.

I envision this as an environmental mechanic.  Think of the original quest for quest on Caradhras.  Instead of question with will power, the quest will wear down the characters health.  Characters will freeze to death because they die instead of giving up the will to live through will power.  In addition, the monsters and encounter cards could represent smaller attacks on the players or more environmental, single event dangers.

Thoughts?

Silver Screen Smackdown- Robocop (2014)

 

I saw Robocop this weekend; let’s give this the rundown…  I’ll try to keep this spoiler free.

 

Movie: Robocop

tl;dr– its “ok”, it’s about the level of Robocop 2. 60%

 

 

Plot: It’s the basic Robocop plot.  A cop is killed, his body is used for a robot, man vs. machine drama, man rights his own murder, conniving corporation backstabbing, and end gun battle.  It’s kind of cliché at this point.  What was changed from the original really didn’t need to be changed.  The original was very much in your face with MORE stuff in the side of your vision to build the world.  This one feels like tunnel vision.  I don’t get the world building from the original.  Lot’s happens, but little really goes on.  Also what little subtlety the original had is completely gone.  That run on sentence above is the plot.  You won’t remember much more than that.  This movie doesn’t really trust that you will feel what the director wanted you to feel, so it BEATS you upside the head with the message.  So the move has all the marks of “eh” SCI-FI.  Also, WHY WAS THIS PG-13!?  2/5

 

Acting: It’s not bad.  The main actor Joel Kinnaman does a pretty good job as someone over his head.  The rest of the cast does a pretty good job.  You know who you have to hate (almost a little too much) from the get go.  Again, it’s a little too heavy handed. 3/5

 

Visuals:  The movie is pretty awesome when it comes to the visuals.  The movie is a popcorn movie and it shows with lot’s of fun moving parts that wiz by and look cool.  If you just want to watch a stupid movie where lots of stuff goes boom, this is the movie. 4/4

 

Summary-This is not a good movie and it’s not bad.  It’s ok.  It’s way too heavy handed.  It doesn’t have the world building of the original.  The fun extra bits that used to be in the old version are not there.  The movie likes to call back to things from the original, but it’s kind of like watching a sad parody on the SyFy.  You know what it is you wanted to watch, but you don’t quite get it.  This is worth a rental, but then when that’s done, you can go ahead and move on with your day.  When your kids ask to watch Robocop, this won’t be the movie you show them.  Not bad, not good, just ok like Robocop 2.  60%

Daily Punch 2-18-14 Feats for Cure Wounds in 13th Age

I haven’t done some 13th Age feats for  awhile.  How about some for the Cleric?

Feats for Cure Wounds pg. 98

Adventurer Feat:  The target cure wounds add the escalation die to all saves for a round including any given by Cure Wounds

Champion Feat: One other nearby ally may spend two recoveries to heal a recovery in addition to the target of the Cure Wounds.

Epic Feat:  Cure Wounds recharges on a 9+

Thoughts?

Ring Side Report- Card Game Review of The Agents

Product-The Agents

Producer: Saar Shai via Kickstarter

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-45 minutes

Price: ~$30 or free via print-n-play

TL;DR– Not perfect, but an awesome, smart card game 85%

 

Basics: Time to cross and double cross your friends in The Agents.  The Agents is a quick card game focusing on making hard choices.  Each turn you must take two actions: buy more cards to play, play agents, or activate agent abilities.  When you buy cards, you purchase either more agents to play or missions by spending victory points.  Missions are cards played at the end of your turn that stay in play and give you points each turn when the requirements are met.  Agents have colored arrows or points and abilities.  When you play an agent, you either pay it to your right or your left between you and another player.  Here is where the hard choices come into play.  When you play an agent, if the points or arrow face you, you will get points, BUT your opponent gets to use the agent’s ability.  However, the exact reverse is true.  Points and powers occur instantly, while arrows must be part of completed arrows for you to get points at the end of your turn.  Therefore, the game becomes a balancing act of abilities vs. payoff.  Your final action is to use a power on a card facing you.  The powers on cards may move agents, kill agents, flip agents, or other crazy events.  At the end of your turn, you may play missions on your agent groups to get point then score completed arrows that face you.  Game play continues until someone gets 40 points, then all other players get one more round.  Person with the most points wins.

 

Mechanics:  This game is MUCH harder than it looks!  Any action you take to help you will almost always help you opponents.  You WILL agonize over small choices because they might help you pull off amazing combos, but give your enemies a leg up in the process and cost you the game.  The game is simple, but the strategy is amazingly complex, so for a $20 kickstarter game, this is worth it!  5/5

 

Theme:  Since the game has the double edged sword card mechanics, I did feel like I was in a game a spies.  It might not have been perfect since you don’t get to recruit specific agents, but have a random draw.  Also fun, the game has lots of stretch goals that added specific spies from popular media.  I’m not sure how these guys didn’t get sued into oblivion, since they have Austin Powers and other named characters. 4/5

 

Instructions:  Here the game suffers.  The rules are short, but they don’t explain enough.  I hate when I have to run to Board Game Geek to understand a major rule even before I play my first card.  The games “playable” out of the box, but I promise you will be combing the BBG forums before your first game is out.  3.5/5

 

Art/Execution:  This game uses a strange plastic for its cards.  Its not bad, and they cards are pretty hardy compared to standard playing cards.  They feel strange, but that’s not bad.  I kind of wish more people used this stuff.  The art is similar to old Hellboy comics.  I like the Hellboy art style, so I liked what I saw.  It does make it hard to figure out who is a man or a woman for some card effects though. 4.5/5

 

Summary:  This is a fun game.  It will burn your brain in a short amount of time though, in a good way.  And for $20 bucks or FREE (with a printer), the game is well worth it.  These guys need to get some more print runs going as I can’t find this game anywhere right now.  85%

Daily Punch 2-17-14 Nightingale Drone for Shadowrun 5e

How about a drone for Shadowrun 5e?

 

Drone Handl Speed Accel BOD Armor Pilot Sensor Seats Avail Cost
Red Cross Nightingale 3 2 2 10 14 3 1 12R 30000 Y

Red Cross Nightingale:  Developed around the end of the Eurowars, the Nightingale was a joint effort be between the remains of the Red Cross and Saeder-Krupp.  The Nightingale was designed to serve as a battlefield medical drone specializing in preventing traumatic injury while being able to survive heavy bombardment.  The Nightingale has no weapon mounts, and may never have weapon mounts added to it due to strict limitations placed into the pilot program.  The drone is treated as having a dice pool of 12 for first aid tests and a 14 for first aid performed on an individual who is currently dying.

 

Thoughts?

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Pathfinder Player Companion-Pathfinder Society Primer and Pathfinder Society Adventure #5-11: Library of the Lion

Like always, life gets in the way of the Board Gaming/RPG habits!  So to atone, here are two reviews of products I’ve recently read through.

 

Product-Pathfinder Player Companion-Pathfinder Society Primer

System: Pathfinder

Producer: Paizo Publishing

Price: ~$12

TL;DR– If you play PFS, then you already know you need this. 100%

 

Basics: This book delves deeper into the Pathfinder Society continuing the background knowledge that was presented in Pathfinder Society Field Guide.  The book starts with a general explanation of the Pathfinder Society leading to a section on how to build a well rounded pathfinder for a game.  From there, the book runs through joining the society and the three main subgroups while giving different feats, spells, abilities, and traits for each.  After the main groups, the book presents a prestige class called the Pathfinder Field Agent who is a bit of a mixed bag. The main way to identify a pathfinder is his/her wayfinder, and this book give new versions of the wayfinder as well as ioun stones that can be socketed into the wayfinder with new powers for both and magic items that any pathfinder would need on their adventures.  Near the end of the book, Pathfinder Chronicles are discussed giving new, non-magical ways to boost skills after pathfinders read these books for one hour.  The book closes with Pathfinder Society vanities, ways to spend prestige points gained in the pathfinder society, and a short section on Pathfinder Society Organized Play.

 

Mechanics: This book has a lot going on for the player only interested in mechanics.  From new spells, feats, traits, and abilities, this book is real chock full.  However, this book doesn’t have many class specific options, but does have many general options.  This is really expressed well with the Pathfinder Field Agent; this prestige class gets most other class abilities, but doesn’t really get anything that makes him/her awesome at one thing.  The wayfinders, ioun stones, and other items are all good too.  Until now I hadn’t had a real good use for the prestige points, but his book gives even me a few good ideas. 5/5

 

Theme: I like PFS, but I have to say I don’t know as much as I should, especially about the inner working of the society.  This book gave me a good summary while giving me some mechanics.  I liked what at I saw in terms of story of PFS.   It’s worth a read for that. 5/5

 

Execution: I liked this one.  It flows well, even better then the previous PFS book.  No page is a well of text while the previous PFS book had that problem a few times.  The art is nice and consistent.  The layout helps the reader read the text.  All and all, I liked this book. 5/5

 

Summary:  If you play PFS, you need this.  If you really want to get deep into the Society, then get this book.  If you don’t care about the Pathfinders or PFS at all, then this book isn’t for you. 100%

 

and now the second Review-

 

Product: Pathfinder Society Adventure #5-11: Library of the Lion

System: Pathfinder

Publisher: Paizo Publishing

Price: ~$4

TL;DR– A thinking, (general) non-combat PFS adventure 93%

 

Basics: The Pathfinder Society has been invited to a prominent Taldan College by a high ranking member of the nobility to help them sneak into a secret library.  The Pathfinders have less than two hours to explore the library, find what the noble wants, not be noticed, and get out all while constantly listening to the Mission: Impossible music performed by the GM.

 

Story: This module isn’t very story heavy, but it does bring something new to the party.  The story quickly brings the society into the heart of Taldor, and lets some of the more over shown PCs shine.  PCs have to find information in a low combat module by exploring the library and looking for clues.  I wouldn’t call this a story for the ages, but it does give the players something new at the table that they may have not had a chance to do before. 4.5/5

 

Mechanics:  This module continues the current PFS year 5 scenario strategy of random events during the scenario.  It works to great effect during this adventure as the players and the GM both get to find random books in each room that might help the players.  Also, this one is really set up for the skill monkeys out there.  Most of the puzzles require thought and lots of skill ranks.  I don’t see that often, and that makes this module stand out.  The final puzzle requires the players to have solved every room to find what they need.  That’s not bad, but it might not be great for all groups.  Also, as a GM, if the group you are running doesn’t have the proper skills, you may have to loosen up the skills that can be used in the adventure.  Also, for as much of an exploration adventure this one is, it’s also a nice social adventure too.  It’s pretty well rounded for the non-combat characters.  None of that is bad, but just keep that as a heads up for when you play. 4.5/5

 

Execution:  This adventure is well laid out and comes with some assembly required.  As the players can randomly find books in the rooms, the GM gets to cut out the different books and give these out as hand outs.  Anytime you can physically hand the players something, it makes the game that much more awesome.  The art is nice also.  All told, I’m really happy with this. 5/5

 

Summary:  I liked this one.  It’s not perfect, but this one is an awesome adventure to play with a bunch of character types that might not get as much play as other ones.  If you are a kill-them-all barbarian with only one skill point you put in jump so you can jump charge, you will be bored to tears.  If you have a group of five people who want to explore and deceive their way through a secret library, this is the game for you. 93%

Daily Punch 2-13-14 Master/Slave program for Shadowrun 5e

Something I love from Shadowrun 4e was having multiple drones work together.  How about we bring that back for 5e?  To be fair, I think you should be able to slave a drone to another drone, but it should take a program slot on your RCC.  For general rules on programs, see page p243 in the main Shadowrun book.

 

Master/Slave:  Choose one drone you control as a master, and choose a second drone that you control to be the slave.  When you issue a command to the master, the slave will also undertake the same command.

 

Thoughts?

Daily Punch 2-12-14 Ice Armor spell for Pathfinder and DnD Next

I really liked the last encounters season.  During it I saw the main baddy had an awesome bit of spell armor.  How we everybody get a taste of that?

 

First the DnD Next Stats

 

Ice Armor

2nd-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Touch

Duration: 8 Hours

Touch a willing creature.  That creature is surrounded in a nearly invisible field of ice.  The ice hat hit points equal to your spell casting ability times your character level.  When you take damage and the ice shield still has hit points, the ice shield appears around you and takes the damage instead of you looking like crackling ice on a like.

 

and now Pathfinder

 

Ice Armor

School conjuration (creation) [force]; Level cleric 2, sorcerer/wizard 2 witch 2 Domain water 2, weather 2

CASTING

Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S,Df/ F (a piece of glass shaped like a suit of armor)

EFFECT

Range touch
Target creature touched
Duration 1 hour/level (D)
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance no

DESCRIPTION

An invisible but tangible field of ice surrounds the subject.  The ice shield has 5 hp of temporary hit points per character level.  When struck, the ice shield takes damage before the target appearing instantaneously to all as a flash of ice cracking like the ice covering a lake.