Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Have You Found It? Act 1:The Jitters

Product– Have You Found It? Act 1:The Jitters

System- Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

Producer– Petersen Games

Price– $25 here https://petersengames.com/cthulhu-mythos/  

TL; DR– Good into to solid DnD Horror! 90%%

Basics–  Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the greatest show in the universe!  Have You Found It? Is a horror adventure path focusing on The King In Yellow himself.  This act, Act 1: The Jitters, is the intro adventure.  Players are in a city like Milan or Paris as a series of murders stirs up political intrigue.  The players are drawn into the adventure to solve the murders but are soon into something much deeper and much darker than your average murder.  This adventure goes from levels 1 to 4.

Mechanics or Crunch-Dungeons and Dragons is a much more heroic fantasy game, but this adventure bends the rules enough to make the horror stand out.  It’s hard to make players feel like there is no hope in a DnD game, but the monsters and scenarios bring enough horror to make the players feel the dread that is needed for the edge of cosmic horror.  This book also has some behind the scenes mechanics that are excellent ways to reinforce why the king in yellow is the unnamed!  Good mechanics take a heroic game and make it a horror one.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff–  The story here is a solid one.  The world builds rather quickly and the players get dragged into something very heavy VERY fast.  That gets the action going, but this is also a level one to four adventure.  Players spend time interviewing people and learning about the world via talking, so there is a lot here for all different character classes and types.  It’s a good mix of combat, exploration, and roleplaying that an intro adventure needs.  Also, by setting this in a city, fragile level one heroes are not decimated instantly as after a battle they can recover somewhere safe.  This is a great intro story to get players into a dark new path.  5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  NO! What’s here is good.  Good layout, good text size, good pictures.  It’s all solid.  What isn’t here is what makes me less happy.  This is a new world and city.  I want a player guide with a town map and background as this can get socially heavy in a hurry.  Also, as a GM I need hyperlinks in my PDF.  It’s a longer book for an adventure and being able to hop around would help me a lot as a GM.  Good execution, but I need a bit more from the digital book. 4/5

Summary– The King in Yellow was never my favorite Cthulhu mythos horror.  This book has brought me around and I think I might give the books where he comes from a chance.  It’s a well crafted story for low level characters that successfully pulls them into the social, combat, and exploration of a new world.  I do want a few more things like help for my players to get into the world and some additions to the electronic book, but the first act of this horror story is inviting enough to draw me into the deeper, darker bits of the full play. 90%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends

Product– Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends

System- Pathfinder 2nd Ed

Producer– Paizo

Price– $18.37 here https://paizo.com/products/btq023gd?Pathfinder-Lost-Omens-Legends 

TL; DR– Almost the best text book it could be.  86%

Basics–  Welcome to the Age of Lost Omens and Golarion!  Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends is the current standing of the world of Golarion and its people.  It updates the setting from Pathfinder 1st ed. to Pathfinder 2nd ed., gives a good overview of the major areas of the Inner Sea, and provides some player options to help players get some mechanical links to the areas of their game.  Let’s look at the pieces of this book.

Mechanics or Crunch-This book has some solid mechanics, but I’d still like a bit more.  What is really surprising is this book has archetypes for each region’s specific known combat enthusiast.  Think of having a Special Forces archetype if you were to do a write up on the US.  That is surprising and enjoyable.  Also there are backgrounds for each area.  Both of those are VERY welcome in the equivalent of a fantasy high school geography book that only the GM might spend a lot of time reading through.  I would like a bit more though.  Give me some ancestry feats that all the people from an area might get.  It doesn’t matter if you are an orc, dwarf, or human, if you come from the cold place of ice and snow, odds are you picked up some cold tolerance! Even some more general feats would be good additions to this book.  What is here is some solid mechanics that you don’t often see in these books, but I would just like a bit more to really drive home that players need this book.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff–  This is another solid area of  this book, but the book needs a bit more to fully round it out.  This book is both too short and too long.  If you read this from cover to cover you will not enjoy it as much as if you just wanted to read about one area quickly.  You wouldn’t read all of wikipedia in one day, but you would drop in to read quickly on an area if you are studying as an example.  This honestly is a fantasy high school geography book as you will get 10-20 pages on an area.  That is a good introduction, but the book needs a bit more like who are the gods and more world building.  Those things are mentioned, but I feel I need more on them.  As a Pathfinder 1st ed. player, I know a lot of that world stuff, but for a new player, they will have to do outside research on who some of the key players are.  I learned a few things that maybe I missed before, and I can see where Paizo is setting up the next 10 years worth of adventure paths in the mix, but I felt like I needed a bit more content to better understand the world if I was an outsider.   4.5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  NO! If you buy a college textbook today or even a highschool text on an ipad, it is hyperlinked.  This is getting crazy as this is an over 100 page civics book and I have to scroll around and find random bits I want to read more on.  What is here is good.  If you read in chunks, it reads well enough and is enjoyable.  If you marathon the book in one sitting, then it’s not as much fun as it does feel too long and too short.  Long for its got LOTS of information, but short because I feel like I need some explanation on a few of the players.  The art is good and you get a few headshots of major movers and shakers in the world ,so you can drop them in your game.  The layout is nice in general with enough breaks to make the reader not go crazy staring in a textbook.  I just need a few more additions to really make this an amazing book  4/5

Summary– I have compared this book to a textbook often, and it is a well done textbook.  If you needed to learn what most people in an area would know about the region, this would be a great resource to give the players.  Also, if you like me haven’t read every splatbook or adventure path put out by Paizo in the last 10 years, then this is a good way to get deep into the world quickly.  Now, there is room for improvement.  I need a bit more on the world.  Gods play an incredible role in the setting, and I feel like they don’t get enough exploration in this book.  I also love what’s here mechanically, but I want more.  So, all players, not just who decide to make a hellknight, can lay claim to a heritage from Cheliax.  Also, PAIZO LEARN TO HYPERLINK!  Let me click around your book with ease please.  Most textbooks do it now, and your world textbook needs to as well!  This is a good world book with a few key flaws that keep it from being great.   86%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Broken Compass- Adventure Journal

Product– Broken Compass-Adventure Journal

System- Broken Compass

Producer– Two Little Mice

Price– $24 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/336888/Broken-Compass–Adventure-Journal?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– Good light pulp adventure game with a few flaws.  87%

Basics–  Onwards to adventure!  Broken Compass is a classic pulp RPG where the characters play adventurers like Indiana Jones as they run across the world solving ancient puzzles and surviving gun battles with groups of minions among the skeletons of those that have come before.  This is much more of a rules light, roleplay heavy game.  Let’s see the pieces themselves.

Character Build- Character generation and build is incredibly easy.  Each character has a bunch of skills that you can think of as attributes in DnD and fields you can think of like skills in DnD.  Each skill has multiple fields that are linked to it.  All players start with 2 ranks in each skill and one in each focus.  You get the skill and foci for your character via choosing two tags the describe your character in two words.  You also choose expertise that further describes what things your characters are good at.   You then get a bit of gear and you’re done.  It’s VERY quick.

Base Mechanics-Fitting quick character building, the mechanics are also very quick.  When you face a problem in this game, you choose a skill and a field within that skill.  The GM called the fortune master may give you additional dice called advantages or make you lose dice called disadvantages.  In addition, you may get additional dice or penalties depending on your condition aka how you feel.  You roll a number of six sided dice equal to this total.  The goal is to get sets of dice with the same value like three of a kind.  For basic challenges, you need two of a kind.  For challenging encounters you need three of a kind and so on.  Some conditions and events require you to get multiple sets to succeed like shooting a gun as a challenging encounter while driving a car in a storm as a basic encounter.  If you fail but have one set but not enough of that set, you can risk the result and reroll any dice you want to hopefully get the successes you need.  In addition, if you have expertise from your character background in what you are doing, you get a reroll for free on that activity.

Challenge vs danger–  There are differences between reading an ancient scroll and shooting a nazi.  This is reflected by challenges and danger.  Challenges are fail forward encounters where a player attempts something that might fail, but if they fail the story continues.  This may alert the enemy or cause you to miss a vital clue yet find the hidden temple just not notice the trap at the entrance.  Dangers are fights or traps that might hurt a player.  If you fail a check, you take damage in the form of luck.  Basic challenges cause you to lose one luck while more advanced things cause you to lose much more luck.  When you are out of luck (the book is VERY pulp heavy!), you have to spend a luck coin to stay in the fight.  Between fights, you can rest up and get back your luck. 

Let’s dig deep into my thoughts on this game!

Mechanics or Crunch-This is a fast game that is not for crunch heavy gamers.  The game is very light and lets the players just free form ideas as long as the GM goes with it.  It’s also reminiscent of Numenera as the GM doesn’t really roll dice.  Players roll dice and success or failure determines what happens, not GM rolls or attacks.  When a player is attacked, the player tells the fortune keeper how they avoid the attack.  It’s very fast.  The one problem I have is I would like a bit more complexity.  It’s solid enough, and I like rolling d6s and hoping for sets.  But, I like a bit more crunch for the system.  Feats or special abilities would help a bit here.  Also leveling up doesn’t really get you much.  That’s good as the players can hop in to basically any adventure, but it also means long term play doesn’t net the characters many gains.  The system I compare this the most to is Numenera, and in that system when you level up, you get a bit more.  Also in Numenera, there is just a bit more crunch for players to dig into.  Broken Compass is fun and light, but I want a bit more crunch in this system.   4.5/5

Theme or Fluff-Hands down this is an amazing, fluff filled game.  Every character is set up to look like a pulp stereotype, both modern and old school.  The adventures are written to be replaceable and generic but relatable in that classic way as things like OLD MAN, ANCIENT TEMPLE, RIVAL are used to be plug and play with different characters but the fortune master is given tons of different materials to help make the story.  Is the OLD MAN a survivor of the great war who saw the temple in the Jungles while on patrol or is the RIVAL a silicon valley billionaire out for world conquest with the Eye of Ra?  Its light in a good way so you can put this into any time or place with that good pulp feel.  Stories flow from Amazon adventures to exploration under the Egyption pyramids.  Every page has lots of fluff and art that makes a player or a fortune master feel like they are part of a classic pulp book in the discount bin of a grocery store.  If you want to feel like your Indiana Jones or at least someone reading an Indiana Jones story, this is a solid book to read through.   5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  Yes!  I like this book, but don’t love it.  The book reads well, is well laid out, and has great art.  There are even pregens and a quick adventure where the players and the fortune master can get playing asap instead of having to figure out character generation and adventure creation on their own.  Those are all great reasons to check this book.  But, the major fault of this book is I need more on how to run the game.  There are explanations of how single players encounter things, but I need a bit more on how multiple players encounter a thing.  Does everyone face the threat or just one?  Even fighting one on many, how does that work?  A bit more would really help me better understand how to run this game.  This is a solid game, but it needs a bit more explanation to make it rock solid.   3.5/5

Summary-I like this game, but it has some small faults.  The idea of rolling a bunch of dice and hope for sets of numbers is a fun one.  The theme is great and well presented.  The book overall is a solid read and way to get into the game.  One major issue I have is I want more crunch, so players feel like they are progressing.  Good for one shots or short campaigns, but longer multi story arcs might not be as much fun.  The other major issue I have is I need more explanation on how to run this as a fortune master.  The system works, but I have questions if I’ve done it right.  That’s never a good feeling to have.  If you play with people who just want to have a good time, it will be fun.  But the power gamer out there won’t enjoy this as much.  If you want some good pulp, this is worth your golden idol.  If you need a bit more crunch and a bit more explanation, maybe look in another tomb.  86%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Planet Apocalypse

Product– Planet Apocalypse

System- Dungeons and Dragons 5e

Producer– Petersen Games

Price– not out yet but will be here https://petersengames.com/planet-apocalypse/#info-tabs|1 

TL; DR– DOOM IN DND!  97%

Basics–   Time to be the only thing they fear!  Planet Apocalypse  is a DND 5e source book not for the faint of heart! This is a MASSIVE change from the other Petersen games I have played as this is straight up gore horror of the damned.  Worst parts of the Bible, rivers of blood, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!  Let’s dig into this foul tome.

Mechanics or Crunch– This book has a lot, but is missing just a few things.  This game is ALL about killing horrors from hell.  There is no subtlety here and it shows in every horrible thing here. The characters are hard scrabble wasteland survivors trying to eke out a life among the fiends from the pit.  There are feats, spells, and some class options, but I kind of wish each class got some love with its own class options.  The math of all the monsters work out and MAN are there a lot of monsters here.  This is a one stop shop for a game like the old world books.  It’s a solid book, but I want a bit more for all the characters to really make this the total package.   4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– You will not feel safe reading this book.  This is not a book you sit around in a cozy blanket with cocoa on a winter night.  This is a book you read and feel like the shadows are watching you and you better not mess up the circle or you will be dragged somewhere where death will be a mercy.  This book is full of well done, horrific art.  The world is BRUTAL as you have just absolute monstrosities on every other page doing horror to the poor people of this world.  You get to be the hero they need.  And considering Sandy Peterson wrote Doom levels, this is Doom in DnD.  If you were not challenged, horrified, or nauseated enough by the last expansion to Doom Eternal, this is the source book you need to fill that Demon killing itch.   5/5

Execution–  PDF?  YEP!  Hyperlinked? YES!  This is a solid book that is well written, well laid out, and reads easily.  I know that is a common refrain from me, but that’s what I want in a book!  It’s also OVER 350 pages!  This is a single serving world that with the DnD base book is a game you can start playing today!  There are even some adventures that wet your whistle and show you how Sandy wanted you to play this game.  Easy to read, hyperlinked, well laid out, and a solid intro adventure are all the things I want in a world book. 5/5

Summary–  This is the most vile thing I have ever seen from Petersen Games, and I can’t wait for more.  As a God fearing Christian, this is the vision of hell I was told about in the most twisted Sunday sermons I have ever seen and now you can be the hero to push back those horrors.  This is NOT for games where you want to save the princess from the Orcs and have tea with the Orc bandit afterwards.  If you want to plunge headlong into hell itself, rip Baphomet’s jaw off, possibly have your friends get ripped apart in front of you along the way, and end the demonic invasion, then this is the game for you!    97%

Ring Side Report-Book Review-The Anatomical Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors

Book Review-The Anatomical Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors

Author– Luis Merlo

Book- ~$3 here https://petersengames.com/the-games-shop/the-anatomical-guide-to-lovecraftian-horrors/

TL; DR– Lovecraft forensics! 90%

Basics-What horrors lurk in the shadows?  The Anatomical Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors is what would happen if a forensic pathologist was let loose into the world of Lovecraft and wrote a textbook of his or her findings.  Monsters from across the mythos are given multi page write ups and each has detailed anatomy drawings showing how they tick. Let’s look at the pieces that are here!

Characters, Setting, and Story-This isn’t a story book.  This is a textbook, but a textbook you will want to sit down and read.  It’s one fan’s gruesome love letter to hard science and Lovecraft in one well done package.  Monsters from across the mythos get pages that you can dig into and see how the creatures work at a detailed level, even down the musculature in some cases.  This is just one Lovecraft lover’s take on things, but it is well done, detailed, and something that serious fans will enjoy.  5/5

Execution-PDF available? Yes!  Hyperlinked? No…   This is a well laid out book as the book itself reads easily, has nice pictures, and is a quick read.  You can find your favorite monster, read about it, and get great pictures that you can use in any horror game you want to run.  I do like what’s here, but I would like just a bit more.  It’s short, but considering my main components are wanting more, I think this is a solid product.  4.5/5

Summary-I’m a scientist and I’ve had to read my fair share of textbooks.  None are nearly as entertaining as this book.  I also love Lovecraft, and I enjoy the two being put into one blender.  If you don’t want detailed explanations of cosmic horrors, then avoid this book.  If you want to see how one fan explains the things that go bump in the night and across the cosmos in an extremely well done manner, then pick up this book.  90%.

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Black Powder Rebellion – Firearms and Historical Campaigns (PF2)

Product– Black Powder Rebellion – Firearms and Historical Campaigns (PF2)

System- Pathfinder 2nd Ed

Producer– Beyond the Horizon

Price– $6.95 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/350371/Black-Powder-Rebellion–Firearms-and-Historical-Campaigns-PF2?term=black+powder+rebellion?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– I need guns… LOTS OF GUNS. 98%

Basics–   OVER THE WALL!  Black Powder Rebellion – Firearms and Historical Campaigns is a third party book focusing on using historical settings and guns in Pathfinder 2nd Ed games.  The book introduces guns from all across the history of firearms, history and settings information for  players and GMs, and even character options to take any character and make it a gun toting hero.

Mechanics or Crunch– The goal of this book is to add guns and world history settings to Pathfinder, do so without magic being the major focus, and then give the players options to build characters in that world.  And in that, it succeeds completely.  There are LOTS of guns in this book with only one fake gun that I know of.  That’s some dedication to realism across multiple time points in history.  Character options are also solid crunch as archetypes are put to good use in this book allowing any class to pick up a gun and go to war.  Solid crunch for any group that wants to add guns to their sessions as both a GM and a player.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– How much history do you know?  I might not have majored in history in college, but I love to learn it.  I also grew up teaching hunter safety in the US.  There are gun things I learned from this book from across history that I have not heard yet!  That is some solid dedication to the gun and world history.  From old school single shot guns, to samurai with guns on horseback, to trench warfare, if you want some historical guns in your PF2 game and the story behind them, this is the accessory for you and your friends.   5/5

Execution–  PDF?  YEP!  Hyperlinked? YES!  This is a solid book that is well written, well laid out, and reads easily.  It wasn’t a slog even though this is a history book.  Heck, this book even hyperlinks out to other media to help you LEARN more.  That’s good use of the medium!  My complaints are, as always, pictures.  A few more would make this read a bit easier to read in the text chunkier areas.  Also, this book digs DEEP on some firearm types.  I would like a few more pictures, so i know what the gun looks like.  That said, for the price of less than seven bucks, this is a solid book and a good effort by the team.  4.75/5

Summary-Want some guns in PF2?  Want to play historical games in PF2?  This is the book you need.  Solid options, solid themes, and solid equipment all make a solid book.  I always want more pictures, but that is the ONLY complaint I have for this one.  Another great book at a good price for this team.  98%