Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Finders Keepers

Product– Finders Keepers

System-Dungeons and Dragons 5th Ed.

Producer– Janek Sielicki

Price– $3.95 here http://www.dmsguild.com/product/215482/Finders-Keepers  

TL; DR-The Great and the Mixed of the DMs Guild 93%

215482

Basics-Need a 20th level adventure in a hurry?  Here you go!  Finders Keepers is a 20th level adventure set in the Forgotten Realms, but easily ported to any place.  Players start in town, but soon enough a rampaging dragon attacks the land.  Players then have to save the town, and perusing the dragons leads down a rabbit hole of dead gods, hidden powers, and words that can literally destroy the world!

 

Mechanics or Crunch-This book is fine, completely fine, but that’s the one problem with the book the author can’t fix.  The monsters are all directly from the Monster Manual, the items from the DMG, and traps come from there as well.  That all works well, but if things are just exactly what you’ve seen before, it’s a tad bland.  But, the way the DMs Guild and the AL runs, writers can’t change that fact.  That little bit hurts the book a bit, but honestly as constrained by the rules as this book is, the mechanics work.  What’s here is good and runs well, but I would like the author to do a bit more, even though I know he can’t.  4.25/5

 

Theme or Fluff– This is an awesome story!  We get dead gods, demons, devils, entering alternative worlds, and a goal off saving everything.  The author can’t write new mechanics, but he CAN write a crazy new story!  I love what’s here!  It might not be completely the most original as I’ve seen tiny bits of other things, but I’m happy to see all the pieces come back together in a great new way.  4.75/5

Execution–  Hay, this book made me change my opinion of how books are put together.  This is one guy at a computer putting out fantastic materials.  There is art to break up text, there is the standard template to break up text, and there is formatting that works welo.  What I have here that puts it over the top is hyperlinking to pages, maps that the GM can copy/past into any software, and a new art that is made just for this material and handouts.  This caught me off guard.  WHY ARE OTHER BOOKS NOT DOING THIS?  This is a less than 100 page adventure, and honestly, it doesn’t need hyperlinking, but the addition makes my life a little bit easier.  Also, not many groups make it to 20, so this book comes with pre-generated characters with and without items to make the plug and play that much easier for any group.  More books need to do that, and adding this and other little parts makes me honestly love what’s here.  5/5

Summary– This is a fantastic adventure constrained slightly by the DMs Guild.  The book itself is put together amazingly well!  As I read more and more books on my tablets and phones, simple things like hyperlinking make my life that much more simple!  The store is great.  It’s got a few elements that you may have seen before but it’s not a ripoff of any story, and it’s told well.  The mechanics are the low point, but that’s a bit harsh.  It’s far from bad in any way, but it’s limiting for the author as you can’t build new material as often.  Overall, I found this to be a solid adventure that you can plug and play into any FR game with ease that is well put together. 93%

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Ring Side Report-Starfinder Core Rulebook Review

 

Product– Starfinder Core Rulebook

System-Starfinder

Producer-Paizo

Price– $60.00  here http://paizo.com/store/starfinder

TL; DR-DND 3.5 IN SPACE!  94%

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Basics-SPACE WIZARDS!  Starfinder joins the Pathfinder universe in the future after a massive, mysterious catastrophe.  Mankind’s homeworld has disappeared, and other races have joined us as we explore the cosmos looking for new peoples, places and our lost world.  Let’s break this down.

Base System- This honestly is Pathfinder 1.5.  It’s a little bit DnD 5e, a little bit DnD 3.5, and oddly enough DnD 4!  The basics don’t change.  Everything is roll a d20, add your ability modifier, then add your ranks in a skill or base attack bonus.  If you want to hop into a Starfinder game but don’t have any experience, you can easily get into this game with about three minutes of reading the rules.

Combat- If you know Pathfinder combat, you know Starfinder combat.  Characters still roll initiative to find who goes first, then when they attack they still have a base attack bonus and add damage based on stats like before.  But there are two major differences, and those deal with hit points and armor.  For hit points, a character now has three pools to draw from:  hit points, stamina points, and resolve points.  Hit points are the same pool of life we all know and love.  They are healed by magic and time.  Stamina points are new, and they represent you getting banged up but not broken.  When you rest, you can spend a resolve points to completely heal up your stamina points.  Resolve points are also spent when a character is knocked out and they want to wake up or stabilize.  However, you can’t regain stamina points through the standard mystic cure (the not cure wounds or cure minor wounds of this edition).  Armor class is also slightly modified.  Now you have two armor classes: elemental armor class (eac) and kinetic armor class (kac).  If the damage has slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning damage types, alongside anything else, the attack goes against kac, otherwise it’s against eac.  Done!  It’s just that simple.  This also causes a reduction in rules, as now all combat maneuvers go against kac instead of having to figure out combat maneuver defence, and honestly, it’s a good trade off!

Technology-This is hands down my favorite part of what changed between Pathfinder and Starfinder-ITEMS HAVE LEVELS!  This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but now technology and magic can compete on an equal footing.  In most magic heavy games as soon as the wizard learns fireball, any alchemical/technological items are instantly useless.  Technology in those games seems like a crutch to get to level five and FIREBALL!  Here, you have your fireball, but I have my level 7 grenade.  Its damage values increase and so does the DC to dodge the attack.  Instead of having to guess about what the DC of an item identify check would be, now you can just do extremely simple math on an item’s level and have a DC in seconds.  Everything has a level which corresponds to a price, which corresponds to DC and a whole host of other things that make the system work.  Outstanding.

Magic-And here is the low point of the system.  Magic now caps out at level 6.  The save against magic is spell level + ability modifier + 10, so it maxes out at 16+ ability.  The save against character powers is half character level + ability modifier + 10, so it maxes out at 20+ ability.  I’m going to be honest and say this feels wrong somehow.  The system works, but it’s different in a way that you might not like on first trying it, akin to a fine wine.  It’s good, but might not necessarily be the tasty thing you hoped for on the first pass.

Spaceship and Vehicle Combat-This is the new, big thing of this system as running around in a vehicle is essential to Sci-fi.  Vehicle combat isn’t hard, but it mostly works by using zones where characters move between using their speed values.  Overall, its an easy system to use.  Spaceships are much more involved, but no less easy to use.  BUT, THIS ASPECT OF THE GAME ADDS FACING TO AN RPG!  That is a sentence the fills me with dread as now I have to spend HOURS fighting over how defenses work on different sides.  However, this system fixes most of that and simplifies it well.  Ships do have facing arcs for weapons and for shields, but it’s pretty simple.  Combat rounds are broken down into three steps:  engineering (science scans/moves shields, engineering fixes stuff/supercharges stations), helm (pilots make checks and loser goes first), gunnery (ships shoot at one another).  Honestly, it’s pretty easy to do, and since there are lots of different things to do, EVERYBODY gets to roll dice during a turn from the captain who can yell or ask nicely for another crewmember to do better/get a bonus to gunners lighting up the other ship.

Review Time!

Mechanics or Crunch-Starfinder is a damn good system, but it’s going to suffer a bit because it gets compared to Pathfinder.  If Starfinder came first, then it would not be an issue.  There are things here like the magic DC compared to item and class DCs that are just a half bubble off.  It works, but it’s not as clean as Pathfinder.  Magic seems much less powerful as well.  That might be a style choice, but it’s a style I don’t enjoy as much right now.  Maybe after playing this game much more, I’ll see the light, but now, I’m having fun but also confused on some choices.  Also, this book needs a solid chapter describing the differences between Pathfinder and Starfinder to get experienced players up and running in minutes.  Small things like shooting into melee doesn’t have penalties, but attack of opportunity to shooting in melee still occur are important and need to be explicitly told to the players.   Overall, this is a solid RPG and system, but I want just a bit more in their already massive tome.   4.25/5

Theme or Fluff-PATHFINDER IN SPACE,…. but it’s not!  It would be really easy for this book to phone in dwarves on a mountain planet schtick and call it a day, but this one has races where your puberty now encompases choosing to grow up super smart or super strong, insects who are addicted to individuality as a community, and even a fleet of undead that are disavowed from the other undead because they are too evil.  The book does have your old races, but they take a back seat to new ones who now are exploring the galaxy alongside mankind.  It’s got a mix of old magic from Pathfinder, the technology feel of Star Trek, and its own universe to draw you in. 5/5

Execution-Look, this book was put out by Paizo.  You can say that some of their books might not have been the best, but it’s hard to argue that they don’t put out a quality constructed book.  Lots of awesome art, diagrams to walk you through, nice text spacing so I don’t hate it when I read it.  My only problem is I’d like a bit more in the index, but those are only minor concerns on an otherwise great book.  4.9/5

Summary-Starfinder is an awesome book that has a few minor problems.  In terms of execution, it’s top notch and a phenomenal resource for how to make other books.  The book tells an amazing story that will draw you into the world and give you ideas on what stories to tell and what characters to put in it.  My one place where I am slightly put off is the mechanics.  This isn’t to say the mechanics are wrong, but they don’t feel completely right.  That’s a minor difference, but it’s an important one.  I will happily sit down and play a Starfinder game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the next major source book they announce is something called Ancient Magic that brings back the nine levels of magic from Pathfinder.  That said, this book is an amazing addition to the Paizo family of products and one I’m glad to get at GenCon.  I can’t wait to have more adventures across the galaxy, stomping space goblin ships and battling reptile wizard people on the moon!  94%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Lazer Ryderz

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

Product-Lazer Ryderz

Producer– Greater Than Games

Price– $40 here https://www.amazon.com/FABLED-NEXUS-Lazer-Ryderz-Game/dp/B01MTG3KQH  PREORDER!

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

Type- American

Depth-Light

TL; DR-Lisa Frank and Saturday Morning Cartoons made X-Wing! 93%

Basics-   PREVIOUSLY ON LAZER RIDERZ! Our heroes and travelers of the void ride on lazer rails attempting to secure enough prisms to power themselves on their various journeys.  From an undead cosmonaut drifting through space for reasons unknown to a hammerhead shark searching for the fabled blood nexus for her breeding grounds, each hero has a reason they need the prisms, but only one emerges victorious in this episode!

The game starts by each player placing one unclaimed prism on the table equidistant from the other prisms and at places agreed upon by all players.  Then players select a gear to start in from one to five.  Highest gear starts each turn, but if you and another player select the same gear, both spin out and start at 1!  The player with the highest gear is the first player, setting the tie breaker marker to their left.  From now on all ties are broken using this marker.  Players then get turn markers based on their speed with ties broken by the tie marker.  Players select a place along the edge of the table for their start selection, and the game begins!

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Turns are quick.  In turn order, each player does the following: change their speed by one or stay at their current, place a piece of the lazer track, see if they crash, and then see if they score.  Every character has a speed indicator that shows who they are, and at their start, they can change their speed by one, up or down, if they want.  Then they place a piece of track.  Tracks come in two types: straightaways and turns.  Straightaways are simply just go straight.  Turns are where luck comes in.  When you place a turn piece, you then have to roll.  If you roll equal to or higher than your speed, you do the turn.  If you are lower, then you go straight!  Finally, if you roll the grouchy symbol, you turn, but you spin out to first gear!  Next in your turn, you see if you crash.  If your lazer path goes over another path or off the table, you crash.  You have to your start marker back at the edge of the table and next turn you start from there.  You also remove the piece of lazer path you crash into, freeing up more table space for others.  Finally, you see if you claim a prism.  If your path goes over a  prism, you score.  If it was a neutral prism, you place one of your unclaimed one at the end of your current lazer path, stand up, close your eyes, and gently throw the neutral prism onto the table.  If it’s a claimed prism, you replace it with one of yours, then hand the original prism to the owner.  You turn your marker over to show you went, and then the next player plays.  After everyone has gone, you check to see who has the fastest gear, change turn order markers based on speed, then continue until someone has claimed three!

Mechanics– This one is a mix.  If you like X-Wing with quasi-dexterity game elements, you will have a blast.  If you hate estimating distances, don’t like randomness controlling most of your actions, and just tossing stuff on the table, then you will hate this one.  My wife and I fell into these alternating camps.  It’s a fun filler game, but don’t expect too much depth from this one.  If fun filler racer is up your alley, then this one’s mechanics are what you’re looking for.  4/5

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Theme-The 80’s are back, baby!  This one’s box to pieces are all well done and completely fit the theme well.  As a solid child of the 80’s, the box feels like those padded VCR cassette boxes, the hologram/gem coating is amazing, and there is a space soldier with a mullet!  FANTASTIC! 5/5

Instructions-The instructions here feel paradoxically too much and too little.  There are a lot of words here for as simple a racing game as this is, but not many pictures to show how the game plays.  I’d like more show and less tell to this book.  It will get the rules across quickly, but for what this is, it doesn’t need as much as it has.  4/5

Execution– I love what’s here, with one small exception.  The boxes are amazing.  They look worn like my childhood video boxes.  The plastic inserts are the right amount of crappy.  They hold the pieces well but feel like the cheapo plastic that the used to put VHS cassettes in to.  The art is on point, and the lazer pieces look great and are the perfect shades of neon.  The only thing this thing is missing is leg warmers!  But, my one complaint is the trays.  The trays don’t fit well, and pieces can fall out.  That’s annoying.  I like the big box slipcover to hold everything, but I’d like a bit more leeway in the box as I’ve had to pick up pieces from my wood paneled and spray painted van the first day I took the game to the arcade.  If you want to see all the pieces check out our unboxing video here!  https://youtu.be/eCUn3hVJzg0   4.5/5

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Summary-This is a blast from the past.  If you like racing games and trackless racers at that, this is your game.  If you’re a child of the 80s looking for video store nostalgia, this is your game.  If neither of those is you, then maybe don’t sit down to play this one.  It’s good, but it is most definitely not your game! I wish the box would be a bit better constructed, but overall, it’s not built badly. As for me, I’m gonna blare the hulkamania theme on repeat, put my old Bravestarr videos in the VCR, get my giant tinted glasses on, and play this in my wood paneled basement.  93%