Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Basic Roleplaying

Product– Basic Roleplaying

System- Basic Roleplaying

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $15 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/24384/Basic-Roleplaying&affiliate_id=658618 

TL; DR– Want to play Runequest in whatever world you want?  95%

Basics–  Why not do EVERYTHING!  Basic Roleplaying is Chaosium’s basic game design for their systems, with rules for a basic RPG and then additional rules to build out different type of games from magic spells, mutations, weapons, and combat actions.

Basic mechanic- This game uses the same percentile system as most of their products.  Take the basic skill or attribute and try to roll under it.  Attributes are your standard DnD ones, but then you multiply by 3 for hard checks or 5 for normal checks and attempt to roll under that value.  Roll under and succeed!

Powers- Powers come in LOTS of varieties here.  Mutations and super powers almost function like feats in other games.  Magic, psychic abilities, and sorcery are more akin to spells in Call of Cthulhu with a character using power points.

Combat-Combat is a bit more advanced than Call of Cthulhu, but builds well and shows its influence on Runequest.  In turn order, you do an action.  Opposed rolls like attacks allow an opponent to do dodges or parries, but each dodge or parry has an escalating chance of failure.  From there you consult a chart to see how hard you hit or miss.

Ok, thats the basics, let’s look at my thoughts!

Mechanics or Crunch– Do you like Runequest? I do, but it’s not my favorite.  I prefer the simplicity of Call of Cthulhu for managing mechanics.  Then again, you can’t get the gritty nature of combat like you do in Runequest.  It’s much less “roll and check your percentage” and more “let’s compare skills/attributes, then check a chart,then maybe oppose roll”  So, there is a trade off of what you want in the game.  None of that is bad in any way, but how deep do you want the game to be?  Some days you just want a simple ham sandwich and some days you want nine layers of flavor. Both are good at the right time.  The one thing that I feel Call of Cthulhu misses is feats or character qualities.  This has it, but I still don’t completely get what I want as its not just “You’re better at X or get a reroll with Y.”  Sure its simple, but I would like that small thing to make this game just a hair closer to DnD’s bonuses.  Overall, solid crunch that misses a few things by a just a bit.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– Theme is hard to judge here.  This is the basic game, so its basically for everything.  I feel its well done, but its also VERY general.  But thats on purpose.  If you wanted a high fantasy game or a superheroes game, this book would honestly work for both.  It also has a bit of art and themes for both as well.  5/5

Execution– What’s here is good, but the book just needs a bit more pizazz.  There is art, decent layout, the text reads easy, and there are hyperlinks because this is 2023.  That said, the book is completely black and white all the way though, so even though I’m reading a book on a tablet it feels like I’m reading a hardcover in the 80s.  That’s nitpicky, but that’s the worst I have to say. 4.75/5

Summary– How much you like this book comes down to how much you like how Chaosium handles games in general.  Do you like percentile-based systems?  Chaosium does it the best with Call of Cthulhu.  I would argue the second best is Runequest.  This book feels like the precursor to the latest edition of Runequest with lots of mechanics being identical between them.  So, to find out if you like this book and system, just ask yourself “Do I want to play Runequest set in X?”  If you want Runequest in a sci-fi setting, then this is a good book.  If you want Runequest in Tolkien, then this would be a good book.  I would turn down none of those, so I like this book.  Still, want my feats and some color art, but for the price and all the things you get with it this is a fantastic general system to get into right away.  95%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Call of Cthulhu Starter Set

Product– Call of Cthulhu

System- Call of Cthulhu, 7th Ed

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $25 here https://www.chaosium.com/call-of-cthulhu-starter-set/  

TL; DR– Solid intro for a solid system. 100%

Basics–  Come here kid, want to try to some Cthulhu?  The Call of Cthulhu starter set is a basic intro box set for Cthulhu.  It’s got multiple scenarios, character sheets, and basic rules to help you start playing in about 15 minutes after opening it.  It even has dice!

Mechanics or Crunch– Do you like 7th Edition?  Do you want to learn it if you don’t know it?  If you like 7th Ed, then its 5/5.  You don’t get character generation or most of the big rule book, but you do get enough to play.  If you haven’t played before, you get a solid intro to the rules.  And if you are completely alone and don’t want to start your first game as a keeper (the GM/DM of the system) with live players, there is a solo adventure that teaches rules and will help you play.  I love this.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– Welp, for theme, its Call of Cthulhu from Chaosium.  I like their stuff and think they have a good grasp of Lovecraft, so it’s an easy review-SOLID WORK with the stories and rules!  5/5

Execution-Check out our unboxing here: https://youtu.be/436RBEYEK0s That’s the pieces you get: handouts, rules, characters sheets, and even dice!  It’s done in the style I like as I think Chaosium does good layout, formatting, and text.  It’s honestly everything you absolutely need to start playing.   5/5

Summary– I miss box sets.  The base books are always fun to hold or download, but box sets are always a fun way to get into a game or get a setting to play with.  This is Call of Cthulhu.  I run this monthly, so I love the base system.  This is just an amazing way to get new players and keepers in quick.  Plus for 25 bucks, it’s a steal with four adventures AND dice.  If you want a cheap way into to CoC and to get running in about 15 minutes, here is your easy way to do it.  100%

Ring Side Report- Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen

Product– Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen

System- DnD 5th Edition

Producer– Wizards of the Coast

Price– $36 here 

TL; DR– kind of fitting for what we have been seeing from WotC.  73%

Basics–  Time for the War of the Lance… again.  Learn the basics of the Dragonlance setting and play through the most famous adventure.

Mechanics or Crunch– This book adds a bit, but not much, in terms of game mechanics.  You get a bit of background on the setting’s most famous addition, the kender, and you also get rules for mass battles and sidekicks.  Overall, it’s not bad, but it’s not much.  For this world, I would expect more, especially given the crazy things that have happened with magic, moons, and divine magic.  What’s here is good, but there is not as much as I would hope.  4/5

Theme or Fluff– This is a let down.  There is a story that is decent, but it’s been done.  Why not modernize the setting or deal with the fallout of many of the books?  This just feels like a rehash of things or a reboot.  Couple that with the fact that the whole setting is given 20 pages of background and you get something that works, but it’s not a solid effort.  3/5

Execution-You can buy a decently made book.  But there is no PDF available, legally.  You can buy a computer version via DnD Beyond, but you must deal with DnD Beyond.  It’s got good layout and text, but those two things itself knock this down many pegs.  4/5

Summary– This book feels like many of the most recent setting books WotC is putting out.  There are a few pages of setting and then an adventure.  You have a GIANT world out there with lots of stuff and you get 20 pages.  I just feel this isn’t done well.  If you want to replay the war of the lance and you want 5e to do it, this will be your book.  If, like me, you wanted a solid introduction to the system and you wanted it to tie in to where the world is now, then this will not be your book.  73%

Ring Side Report- Quest Calendar

Product– Quest Calendar

System- Sundial games quest calendar

Producer– Sundial games

Price– $31 here https://2023-quest-calendar.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders?ref=SundialGames23 

TL; DR-five minutes of RPG EVERY DAY! 93%

Basics–  NO GM, NO PROBLEM!.  Quest Calendar is a desk calendar that has a simple story that you walk through each day with puzzles, combat, and a solid story to draw you in.  2022 had a fantasy, world hopping adventure, and this year 2023 is a universe spanning Sci-Fi epic.  let’s break it down!

Basics- Each day the calendar has a picture and a short story.  The back of each previous day gives rules for combat, discussions and short side quests with towns folk, or puzzles for you to solve based on the story.

Dice- It wouldn’t be a RPG without dice!  Each character has a bonus to hit, defense, damage dice, and hit points.  Combat is simple where you roll to hit and if you hit you deal damage.  Deal enough damage and the opponent is stunned.  Don’t hit or don’t do enough, you are attacked.  Depending on your defense, you take more or less damage.  Other checks are the same as if you roll a d20, add the statistic used in the check, a number between 0 and +3 typically, and compare to the rules.

Powers and characters- There are multiple characters to choose from each with their own backstory.  Each character has information from levels 1 to 6 as well as powers and abilities.  Powers and abilities range from one per page things, constant bonuses to actions, or powers that have a limited number of uses before you must rest.

Ok, now my thoughts.

Mechanics or Crunch– This adventure a day calendar honestly is like a daily Shadow of the Demon Lord game.  D20 + a number and compared to the results is a fantastically simple RPG that doesn’t get enough love.  You do not get crazy complex here, because you can’t have crazy options since its a simple mechanic.  But, it’s rolling dice everyday to have some fun and play through a story.  4.75/5

Theme or Fluff– This is a simple story that is executed well.  First, the bad- you can’t have a crazy branching RPG when it’s a linear object.  You’re playing through a story like Lord of the Rings, but you can’t really change what the fellowship does.  That’s the inherent limits of this medium.  That said, I loved the story of 2022 and can’t wait for 2023.  Sure, it’s simple fantasy, but sometimes I just want to be a guy on a world saving quest in bite sized pieces.  That’s what this is, and it is done well!  4.75/5

Execution– How much you love what is here will really depend on how much you spend.  30 gets you the calendar.  That’s a bit high for a calendar, and the calendar is a bit small.  It’s a desk calendar, so that’s a bit annoying and since it is small and thick, it can break the glue holding it easily.  But that’s the end of the negatives.  Solid art, easy to read, and a simple flow and layout make this a fun product.  I love the character books and layout of them.  I didn’t like the markers that the books came with, but they fixed that in the 2023 edition.  I also LOVE the tiny dice.  Those went right into my backpack at the end of the year when I got new ones.  And this year its metal tiny dice!  This product has a few small flaws, but it’s still something I love.  4.5/5

Summary– Will this be the greatest RPG you have ever played with branching story and complete autonomy with the most intricate character build options that you have ever seen?  Absolutely not, but the important this is it is not trying to be.  This is a short adventure every day that builds an interesting world and lets you play a quick game as a fun distraction while also being a calendar?  YES!  And its amazing at that goal.  I continue to hate small things because of being clumsy, but if that is the worst complaint I have with the calendar, then you need this now.  2022 is done, but you have plenty of time to get onto the ground floor of 2023.  I’ve bought myself and my wife calendars and I hope you have a fun adventure in space with me!  93%