​Ring Side Report- RPG Review of RuneQuest-Free RPG Day Product

Product– RuneQuest Roleplauing in Golantha

System-RuneQuest

ProducerChaosium

Price– FREE TODAY

TL; DR-Call of DnD! 97%

Basics-Follow your passions!  In this revamp of a classic fantasy RPG from Chaosium, players take the rolls of heroes of Glorantha, a land of gods, monsters, and heros.   This world feels a bit like a more DnD’ed version of Rome.  Let’s break down the game into its pieces.

Base System- If you can play Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu system, you are ready for this.  Players have a number of skills or attributes.  When you attempt to do anything, you get to roll a 100 sided die.  If you roll under your skill or attribute, you succeed.  if you get under half, you get a special success.  If you get under one-fifth your skill, you get a critical.  It’s slick.  If you are up against somebody, then you just compare the degree of success using this progression-critical Success bets special success beat regular success beats failure with ties going to the defender.


Passions-A major change from 7th edition Call of Cthulhu is the loss of the advantage die, but this system adds passions.  Each character has a number of things they care about.  When you want to see if you can dig deep and fuel an action through your love of a thing, you try to roll under the level of your passion.  If you succeed, you add to the skill you are trying to perform.  The higher degree of success the more you add.  Failure and critical failure cause you to LOSE from your skill.  It’s another slick add-on to the Call of Cthulhu system.


Combat- Here is a major departure from the Call of Cthulhu system.  Each action you do takes time.  Each round you select what actions you want to do, then everyone tells the GM.  The GM then ranks the combatants according to their action times with slower times going last.  These actions include moving, attacking, casting a spell, reloading, and many other possible things you can do in under 12 seconds.  Actions can take longer, but they happen multiple turns later if they need to.


Magic-Spirit vs. Runes-Magic in this system is an interesting mix.  First and foremost, its TWO systems instead of one.  Spirit magic is the base magic everyone uses with a character casting spells by spending points to make the spell go off.  This is the slow magic.  The second way you cast magic is through runes.  As you almost level up in different factions and religions, you unlock new runic magic and points.  Runic magic goes earlier in combat and is slightly more powerful, but you get less rune magic points.  So knowing when to use each spell is an important part of combat.  Some skills require resistance tests like saving throws, while some do not.  Beyond that the system effortlessly uses percentile dice for all its execution.

Ok, now the review!


Mechanics or Crunch-I love everything I see here, but maybe there are two things that sticks out a bit for me.  Overall, everything is amazing.  This system uses the base percentile system Call of Cthulhu 7th ed.  That would be a cop out if they just copy/pasted the system, but this system add more  pieces, so it honestly feels like a new, better iteration of the same product.  That’s amazing.  I even don’t hate hit locations as this game does it lightning fast.  That doesn’t feel like it slogs the system as players can just roll a D20 in the pile with their percentile dice and their damage dice.  I only have two minor gripes of the system, and one seems like it’s been corrected.  First, I miss penalty/advantage dice from Call of Cthulhu.  But, the game adds passions, so consulting your feelings can provide a similar function by adding or subtracting from your likelihood to succeed.  Second is the order of combat.  Combat is this game works well, but the game uses a system to track actions each round that is a bit more complex than I’m used to.  Players plan out their actions, and those actions alter when they get to act as faster actions go first.  It’s much more realistic, but it’s also a bit slower.  It might not be my favorite way to work initiative, but It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination.  All told, this is a well put together percentile system.    4.5/5


Theme or Fluff-The book doesn’t have too much fluff, but what’s here is good.  It’s a new world of magic and gods where every character is a tiny bit a mage and cleric if they choose to be.  The world feels different and fun, but familiar enough that I get a DnD/Rome vibe.  I want more, so this book’s got me hooked.  5/5


Execution-This is a pretty meaty product for free RPG day.  I love what’s here.  It explains the system pretty well.  I have a few tiny questions like in what order to characters declare the actions?  But, this book can’t give me the whole system in a free RPG product.  The art is nice even if not color, and the story is fun.  Fantastic amount of material at this price.  5/5


Summary-This is a book I will buy when it’s out fully.  The combat is fun and new.  The world is a novel place for me to throw my players.  The characters have drives that affect the game through passions.  Players get a decent streamline view of the rules and characters in this short book.  I get the Chaosium percentile system I like, a Roman world to play in, and an amazingly well crafted book for FREE!  Even given my slight misgivings,check this one out, then look for the full book in the fall.   97%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Psionics- The Next Stage in Human Evolution

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Psionics- The Next Stage in Human Evolution

 

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

 

Product–  Psionics- The Next Stage in Human Evolution

System-Dicepunk

ProducerEnd Transmission Games

Price– $20 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/151035/Psionics-The-Next-Stage-in-Human-Evolution?term=psionics++end+transmi?affiliate_id=239993

TL; DR-Angry teens with psychic powers-THE RPG! 88%

Basics-We all want to crush someone’s head with our mind-BUT NOW WE CAN!  In Psionics, you play a person, most likely a teen, whose outsider status has fueled your transition to something greater.  You’ve developed psychic powers that make you now stand out.  However, now secret groups all over the world want you to study, to be a near god, to use as a weapon, or to just destroy as an act of faith.  Let’s break down the absolute basics.

 

Base System-  This system is called the Dicepunk System.  The basics of the dice punk system is roll under sometimes, but not the standard system you expect.  You have skills and attributes, and you want to roll under.  Want to sneak somewhere?  You roll 2 six-sided dice and try to roll under your Speed attribute (a value from 1 to 10) plus your Stealth skill (a +0, a +2, or +4 to the attribute).  A natural 2 is always a success, and a natural 12 is always a failure.  One of the saving graces of Dicepunk is EVERYTHING is a d6.  Dice will never be hard to find.

 

Combat-  Combat is an interesting mix.  Instead of roll under or using a flat skill, initiative is two six-sided dice plus a mix of attributes.  On a turn you can move, do an action, and do some free actions like yell something.  Action range from attacking, doing other things, to using psychic powers.  When you attack, instead of roll under, you roll two six-sided dice then add skills and try to beat a defense value.  Beat or equal it, and you do the damage on the weapon.  After you go, the next person goes, with each turn being 10 second of combat.  First one to die-loses!  Armor reduces damage, but you only have so much health.  When it’s out, you’re down.

 

Psychic Powers-Alright here is the main attraction to a psychic game!  This game uses Power Points for its magic which you spend to power your abilities.  Bigger powers use more, and smaller powers use less.  Psychic powers also have a cost to your health in the form of drain which causes half the amount of non-lethal damage as the power points spent.  This can knock you out!  Also fun is Overflow.  Every time you use some psychic powers, you fill your overflow.  When you completely fill it, you overload and unleash crazy psychic powers on the world and basically become a psychic hand grenade harming yourself and all others around you!  Overflow also fills as you get angry.  Remember you’re an angsty teen, so being angry is a big part of the deal!

Powers basically work as an attack or with targets making an attribute check.  If you throw a car at someone with your mind, you make an attack roll.  If you throw a fire blast at some people, some of them may have to make a speed attribute check to see if they get hit by the secondary damage of the blast.

Powers are divided into three groups based on colors with some subgroups.  Blue is telekinesis, red if pyrokinesis, and green is psychokinesis.  You can level up each individual group, and as you level them up you unlock more powers in each ability and the ability to take subgroups like mastering entropy, magnetism, or luck with pyrokinesis.  

 

Ok, now the review!

 

Mechanics or Crunch-Overall, the system is strong, but it has a few issues.  Dicepunk is a different beast.  It works well, but I always have issues with dice systems where you sometimes roll up, sometimes roll under, and sometimes have a strange mix somewhere else.  It’s not difficult, but it could take a bit to always make sure you’re doing the right thing.  Things are balanced, so it fun and feels fair, but my own personal preferences do take away a bit of the fun.  4.25/5

 

Theme or Fluff– This is the high point of the book.  You can tell the author really focused on bringing their world to light.  It’s got secret societies, anger management issues that fuel powers, stories for character development, and art to make you see what they saw.  The nature of emotion in the book is strong, and the really forms what the story of angry kids against the world.  Some of the aspects of the story are a bit cliche, but that doesn’t hurt this product.  4.5/5

Execution-This book is put together pretty well.  It’s laid out well,and finding what I need is pretty easy.  That’s good.  What I don’t like is the PDF isn’t hyperlinked, and it’s over 300 pages!  That can make life a bit harder as you scroll through the entire book to find what you want.  As for what’s in here, there are a lot of stories, which is good, but there may be a few too many for my taste in a RPG.  Also, I’m not the biggest fan of the art.  These are petty concerns though.  Overall, this is a well-crafted RPG with no major issues in execution. 4.4/5

Summary-If I was going to run a psychic teen RPG, this is the system I’d use.  It’s made well with lots of story starters and is easy to use.  It’s got a few issues like why some things are roll under and roll above, but those are problems you can get past pretty quick once you get into it.  The theme is on point, and overall the book has great execution.  The best praise I can give this book is this-this system feels distinct from magic.  Most psychic RPGs feel like it’s magic with people holding their heads.  Here, Psionics make me feel like I have psychic powers.   88%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Rome-City of Marble

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product-Rome

Producer– R & R games

Price– $31 here https://www.amazon.com/Rome-City-Marble-Board-Game/dp/B015QGG7PO

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30-60 minutes (2-4 players)

Type- Euro

Depth-Light

TL; DR-An excellent intro eurogame with no randomness. 94%

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Basics-   Rome WAS built in a day!  In Rome-City of Marble, each player takes the role of different Patrician family in Rome.  Through public works you demonstrate your power and influence in the city.  Who ever ends the game with the most victory points is the most power family.

This game is pretty simple.  Each turn a player can the following actions twice: draw tiles, play tiles, recall a magistrate, and expand an aqueduct.  When you select your action, you place a marker on your board over that action, and you can take the same action twice.  

Drawing and playing tiles is the lifeblood of the game.  The most simple action is drawing tiles.  When you draw a tile, you draw two of the four types of tiles: temple (green), baths (blue), theaters (yellow), and arenas (red).  You can not draw the same tile type twice in one action.  But, if you use your second action to get tiles, you can draw more of the types you drew the first time.  You can not use the tiles you gain this turn on this turn.  

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Playing tiles is where the game gets interesting.  The game board is divided into a number of triangles.  Player must set tiles next to other tiles or one of the three random starting locations in these triangles, and they may play one of their three magistrates down when they play a tile. The goal of setting down the tiles is to complete a hexagon between the tiles.  Each tile has two triangle colored sides and two colored rhombus sides.  When the colored sides form a hexagon, game pauses as the players see if they formed the correct color and who has the most influence.  Temples can only be made from three tiles,so only the colored rhombuses can form the hexagon.  Arenas can only be formed from six tiles, so they can only be formed from the colored triangles.  Baths require four tiles, and theaters require five tiles.  If you build a temple with six temples, then you don’t score for that building.  If the correct types of buildings are in the hexagon, then the players may score for that site.  Here is where magistrates come into play.  Magistrates are placed on a tile when you place the tile.  If the proper number of tiles is in the section, then the players count who has magistrates on the right type of tiles.  If someone builds an arena, but doesn’t have any magistrates on red tiles, then they have no influence.  Whoever has the most influence on the right types of tiles for the construction then builds that type of building by placing a marker on the tile to claim it as his or her own, the also earn victory points depending on the structure with arenas worth the most, and temples worth the least.  If there is a tie or no one has influence from magistrates, then a fountain is built and no one gets points.  Once the construction is done, every player who helped build the construction, with the right influence or not, may remove a magistrate and put it on the imperium space of the building just constructed.  If you built a fountain, you can still recall your magistrate, but he goes to the treasury instead.   At the end of your turn, you recall all magistrates from the imperium or treasury space and take one imperium or coin from the space they came from.  Imperium can be spend during your turn to take an extra action on your turn, or saved till the end of the game.  The player with the most of imperium of each type earns extra victory points.  Each coin is worth one point at the end of the game.

The next two actions are not as complex as building, but are equally as important.  If a player builds a tile next to a aquaduct, then they get to place three aqueduct pieces without spending an action.  As an action you can extend the aqueduct as well.  When you extend an aqueduct to a fountain, you score a point.  At the end of the game, each building that has an aqueduct to it scores two points.  Recalling a magistrate is simply moving a magistrate from the board to your player board that can be used this turn.  This way you can recall magistrates from tiles you know will never score.

After three of the four stacks of tiles are empty in a round, the next round each player gets only one action where they can’t use imperium to take more actions.  Then players score for coins and aqueducts.  The player with the most points is the most influential family in Rome!

Mechanics-I love the way this game plays!  After five minutes of explaining, you will master the game and can deep dive into the strategy.  It a euro, but not one that will destroy you mentally or takes five hours.  Honestly, a hour might be the longest you will play this game.  It’s deep for its simplicity, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.  My one weird complaint is there isn’t resource management, but adding a subgame where you have to earn tiles might make this one a bit too complicated.  4.75/5

Theme-This game feels like I’m building in ancient time.  Each player gets to build Rome, and I do feel like I’m trying to out maneuver other players as the best moves reveal themselves through play.  If you see a small opening where you can drop two tiles  and earn an arena while your opponents never saw this coming, it feels awesome.  Other games have ruined me though as I wonder why I can’t hurt my opponents than peacefully coexist and build with them.  4.75/5

Instructions-The instructions are deceptively long, but that’s because they are four different versions of the rules in one book.  The book is short when you read the language you need.  And it does well by showing lots of pictures.  As you can see above, it’s hard to describe polygons and shapes with words!  I like how this book is written and how it teaches the players.  5/5

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Execution– I love what’s here, but I do have one semi-small complaint.  The parts all look nice and pretty.  It’s chunky cardboard so I get nice tiles to play with and feel.  What I hate is the player board that don’t have spaces for all your stuff.  I hate having to set stuff to the side like with your tokens.  That’s my own small level of crazy, but if you can put my neuroses aside, it’s a fantastically made game.   You can see all the pieces in our unboxing at https://youtu.be/eCUn3hVJzg0 4.5/5

Summary-Rome-City of Marble is an amazing intro game.  It teaches itself well.  It’s parts are nice,and the rules are slick.  If you want five hours of math on Saturday night, then this is not the game for you.  It’s a great game, but not that game.  If you want a tight hour of fun or want go get new players into the hobby, then this is the game for you. 94%

Ring Side Report-Freeway Fighter #1

Book-Freeway Fighter #1

Author and Illustrators– Ewington, Coleby, O’Grady, Campbell

Book- ~$3.99 here https://www.amazon.com/Freeway-Fighter-1-Andi-Ewington-ebook/dp/B06WWGCJGV

TL; DR-I wanna play the old games now!  91%

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Basics-The world has ended and those left fight to survive.  That’s a standard intro to everybody’s favorite post-apocalyptic freeway franchise, but this one is based on the Fighting Fantasy game called Freeway Fighter!  In this comic we meet Rose, a former not-NASCAR driver who survived a massive plague and now fights in a world where only the fast survive.

Characters-You can’t really say characters for this one as you really only get to meet Rose, the main character of this series so far.  She’s described more in actions than in words as she speaks in a few monologues to the audience but mostly is alone in the issue.  She spends lots of time behind the wheel, and does a bit of outside the car actions.  I’m intrigued by her, and do want to know more about her.  So good job here.  4.5/5

Setting-I’d say this is a ripoff of Mad Max, but both Mad Max and Fighting Fantasy date back a long time.  This is a good reimagining of the Freeway Fighter books from FF.  The world looks and feels dirty and harsh.  What’s here shows a good contrast between the world of today and the world of Freeway Fighter.  5/5

Story-This isn’t a story heavy book, but that doesn’t make it bad.  When I first read the book, I felt the writers tipped their hands too quickly by telling the reader how the world went to hell, but then I realized, this is not that kind of book.  This is straight up action.  And it’s good at that.  The book’s main goal is get the word out about the world and introduce Rose.  It does that well.  I know a bit about who she is, and what is going on.  The book sets the stage for a race that happened long ago, and now I want to know what happens in that race and what’s going to happen to Rose.  Well done!  4.75/5

Execution-Oh comics…I love comic books.  This one is well written, and the art is great.  What does hurt this a bit is the price.  It’s $3.99, and the book isn’t an extended issue.  I love what’s here, but it feels a bit too much for it’s current price.  4/5

Summary-I grew up in a pretty rural area in Wisconsin, so geek culture didn’t really make its way out to my home town.  This books makes me want to find and play the old Fighting Fantasy Freeway Fighter books.  The comic looks awesome, is well written, and makes me want to know what happens to Rose in issue 2.  All those are great things, but the major problem I have is price.  $3.99 is a bit much for this book.  That hurts a bit.  But, get this one through your pull program, so you get a bit of a price break and it’s well worth you time.  91%.

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Crazier Eights: Camelot

Product-Crazier Eights: Camelot

Producer– James Gray

Price– $9 here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/recoculous/crazier-eights-camelot

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 20 minutes (2-4 players)

Type- American

Depth-Light

TL; DR-Fluxx and Crazy Eights! 92%

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Basics-  Need a lightweight game, but also need a bit of depth?  Crazier Eights: Camalot is an awesome mix of the simplicity of Crazy Eights and Fluxx.  Each player starts with eight cards.  Then on a player’s turn, they draw a card.  That player can play a card and discard a card that matches to top card of the discard pile either in suit, number, or an eight.  The cards players play range from effects which are one time events that might cause a player to draw cards to assets that are permanent things in play that might destroy other assets, cause a player to draw a card, or even change how the game ends.  Then, the next player goes.  The game ends when a player gets to zero cards and wins, an asset makes that player the winner, or there is only one person left.  Long live the king!

Mechanics-I like the simplicity of Uno and the zannynes of fluxx.  This game is both.  It’s fast, simple (you just learned all the rules above), and easy to play.  My wife and I learned this game in the time it takes to order at Outback, and had played a full game before the appetizers came!  It also fits in a pocket, so it’s a blast all around. 4.75/5

Theme-The game doesn’t have perfect theme, but for a simple card game it’s about as much as I can ever hope for.  The cards do semi-appropriate things for the name and art on the card.  It’s hard to symbolize the holy grail in Uno, but this game does the theme enough justice to keep it going.  The game also has some great art, so that always helps theme.  4.5/5

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Instructions-The instructions are one page, front and back.  I had a review copy, so there may be more pictures in the normal game, but it’s enough to get the point across.  I will admit something here, I never learned Crazy Eights as a kid!  But, this game taught me how to play and added on its own crazier rules, so that speaks well of the rules as written.  4.5/5

Execution-I like what I see here.  The art on the cards is good.  The cards layout is nice, and the cards are not too wordy.  I’d like the cards to be a bit thicker, but overall, it’s a well put together game.  4.5/5

Summary-You read my deep confession before, so this game should tell you how well done it is.  I like its simple nature, the rules work well, and the art and theme tie things together.  It’s not perfect, but the flaws are few and far between.  I think the fluxx comparison is a good one.  It doesn’t have the humor of Fluxx, but the serious art drives home the theme and keeps me in the game.  And for 10 bucks, you can’t lose on this one.  92%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook

ProductDelta Green

System-Delta Green

Producer-Arc Dream

Price– $20.00 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/181674/Delta-Green-Agents-Handbook?affiliate_id=239993

TL; DR-Great RPG with one big problem 87%

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Basics– ia ia cthulhu fhtagn- BUT NOW WITH GUNS! Delta Green is Call of Cthulhu if run by the government as secret agencies vie for power and try to keep the horrors from beyond time and space from destroying the world or taking over the United States!  Can you handle the truth?

Mechanics or Crunch-Let’s break the mechanics up and give the basics as well as my assessment.

Base Mechanics-Delta Green is a classic percentile based system.  You have a skill or an ability rating, and you roll under that number to succeed.  As I grow older, I like this no fuss/no muss methods of rolling dice to avoid overly math-y systems.

Difficulty-When a situation is harder or easier than normal, the GM might ask you to add or subtract 10% or 20% to or from your skill or ability total.  Again, it’s a simple and easy  way to modulate difficulty.

Combat–  Combat is basically simple.  Characters act in dexterity order from high to low.  On your turn you do one action.  These actions range from move, shoot, or aim among other things.  For actions that require a roll, you roll under a skill as above.  There is no given dodge roll if you are attacked.  If you haven’t acted in a round, you can forgo your next action to try to dodge an attack by rolling under the attack roll.  Damage is a single dice roll that subtracts from a hit point total.  Go too low on the hit point total and you pass out.  Also, some weapons have a lethality rating.  If you roll in that range, the weapon just kills the target in one go!

Personal Life and Sanity- Just like other horror RPG, Delta Green has a sanity system.  Characters lose sanity and gain mental illness as they go crazier and crazier dealing with horrors beyond time.  This system throws in bonds as a serious component as men and women lose family members, friends, and loved ones.  Think of the PTSD struck veteran, but now add the fact that he/she deals with monsters beyond human ken.  Players may lose family members or whole families as they slowly go deeper and deeper into the world of Cthulhu slipping away from normal.  That level of commitment to roleplaying in the mechanics is awesome.

Advancement-Advancement is a snap in this game as well.  When a player attempts a roll in this game and they fail, they mark the skill with an X.  At the end of the game session, any skill that you failed that you had at least 1% in, you gain an additional 1%.  Also, between sessions, a character can gain 1 in an ability or they can gain 1d10 in a skill if they spend time working on it.  If they do, they lose 1 level in a bond as they lose touch with someone they felt was important!

Summary- I really want to like this game more than I do.  The addition of solid role-playing psychology makes this a great way to blend the theme and mechanics of a world where things just can’t be and can’t be dealt with rationally.  However, combat just makes me irrationally angry.  I don’t like systems where you can’t move and act.  That’s a minor issue as if all the players and monsters abide by this rule, I can deal.  However, the rules as written basically make it better to have a lower dexterity.  You get to react to an attack, but people who go fast can’t.  I can understand not being able to take your next action if you dodge, but this game penalizes people who go first.  Sure, it can be a minor issue if you don’t fight much, and I can deal with not having a dodge roll at all.  But, this irks me deeply to my core.  Therefore, it’s an ok system with a serious flaw. 3.5/5

Theme or Fluff-I mentioned above how much I love the commitment to theme the game has in its mechanics.  This game might even be darker than Call of Cthulhu as this game brings the role of sanity and psychology to the forefront in a very post-9/11 way as the psychology of the soldier is experienced first hand.  The book is full of stories and fragments of people trying to handle the unhandable.  It’s deep and immersive in a way I can really dig, safely and from afar.  5/5

Execution-This is a well put together book.  It flows well, has great art, and the PDF is well done and hyperlinked.  I like the index, the layout, and the whole book overall.  Some things could use a bit more organization, but the book is an exhaustive reference on both the government and the paranormal for new players.  4.5/5

Summary-Delta Green is a great RPG with one serious flaw.  Now, as a gaming group, you can play this however you see fit.  It’s a flaw that you can fix by all deciding that this is how the game runs.  It’s a flaw I will fix instantly in my tables, but the rules as written make me spitting mad.  And it’s just that one part.  The rest is amazing.  I love the depth of little extra bits that the authors throw in about government jurisdiction and random trivia that are in the book.  The art is great and the treatment of psychological factors in our veterans is phenomenal.  Sure, this is a just a game, but the level of depth that game goes into to use these conditions as things a person would experience if they experienced Lovecraftian horrors is excellent. I like everything in this EXCEPT one thing.  If you can get past that one thing, this is a great RPG that really updates Lovecraft to the post 9/11 world.  And since it’s under $20, it’s well worth the look even if you just use it for a guidebook to government organizations in your horror games.  87%