TL; DR-Two tastes that don’t quite go together. 78%
Basics-How do we stop a hoard who feels no pain! Zombies or unfeeling monsters have surrounded the town, and you are called to aid the defence. But mid-meeting you are whisked away to do the bidding of a wizard. Can you save the town and stop being a mister fixit on call?
Mechanics or Crunch-This adventure is short! The major bad guy is the wizard who keeps summoning you. You can fight the zombies, but the book makes it seem like you will die. As a DM I would kill you as well. The tower with the wizard isn’t bad, but he also is pretty much the only thing in it. It’s a short dungeon with balanced fights, but just not enough of them. It’s a little too old school as you have to find the fights and the goods here as opposed to them being out in the open for you to pillage and kill. I didn’t hate it, but it will require you to punch up the adventure to keep your group involved. 4/5
Theme or Fluff-There are not one, but two things for the PCs to face. But, they are tied together. BUT, only you, the GM, really get that. The wizard only brings you in when he needs help. You have to find and explore the place in seven rounds before he sends you back. The zombies are ok, but why are they here? I know why because I read the book, but it feels like two different adventures put together. I didn’t hate this, but even after reveals, my players felt like there were really two adventures here. Both of the singles are good, but together it’s three Michelen star steak mixed with gold ribbon winning chocolate. Maybe these two things shouldn’t go together. 3/5
Execution– PDF? YEP! Hyperlinked? no…That’s honestly my biggest gripe here. The execution isn’t bad. I would like clean maps I can show my players without having things marked on the map that they find. Text read fast and I could play quickly. It is one of the standard well put together DCC modules I know and love. 4.75/5
Summary-I don’t hate this one, but this might not be the first adventure I show to new players. I was able to turn this to keeping my players on the purple planet. It works well that way, but the basic story gets lost in most of the GM fluff. Not bad, but unless the players work to make friends with their captor, they won’t get it. The dungeon needs more pieces and stuff to play with in the form of fights or toys. The presentation is good, but I still want hyperlinks! Overall, it’s an ok adventure that is maybe a bit too stuffed with disparate things. 78%
Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30 to 45 minutes (2-4 players)
TL; DR-Set Collection Your Own Adventure! 95%
Basics- Who will you be? Call to Adventure is a character building game of set collection and dice rolling. Each character at the start of the game will be given three cards: a background, a motivation, and a destiny. The background and motivation cards have rune symbols representing traits that your character will use to attempt to adventure, as well as powers that your character can use each turn. Each turn your character must choose either an adventure or trait from the tableau. Traits are cards you just take, but adventures are events you must choose to encounter. Each adventure has two traits associated with it. You see if you have any matching traits on the cards you currently have, you add one of those trait’s runes to your “dice pool” (which is actually a rune pool) for each symbol your character has. Then you choose on the adventure card if you will attempt the encounter on the bottom or the top section. Each one has a different story AND different rewards/challenges. You then take the three basic runes that either give one success, no success, or draw a hero/antihero (one time use card) as well as the runes you gathered before based on your current cards, and you may spend experience to add dark runes to the pool. These either add one success or two success and make you more evil! You then cast the runes (instead of rolling dice), and you count your successes. If you succeed you gain the card and place it under your current one to show the challenge you overcame. If you fail, you lose the card, but gain an experience. Play continues until one player has three cards under their background, motivation, and destiny. All other players get to finish the round and have one additional round to catch up and then you add all victory points from any cards you played and sets of icons you collected, and the player with the most destiny points is the winner!
Mechanics-This game sneaks up on you as you might only have nine turns if you are lucky! It’s very quick, and it’s easy to forget that you are collecting sets of icons and points. But, man is it fun! It’s quick enough to not wear out its welcome, but it’s also deep enough that you will have to think a bit. Experience is a great way to fix the luck of the dice issue, but dice/runes can absolutely ruin your fun here. But even then, you will still not have a bad time as it’s not a long game and some traits are won by losing. Overall, it’s a dice rolling and set collection game. 4.5/5
Theme- This is a solid story game. When you are done, you will be amazed how well the story of your character emerges. I FEEL like I am this person playing a year long campaign forging this hero in an RPG. If you are a story gamer like me, YOU WILL LOVE THIS! 5/5
Instructions– The rules here are good, but you will end up on BGG. There are some corner cases where I have to check exactly what the game rules mean. Even without board game geek, you can figure out enough to settle on house rules to get you playing. The rules are written well enough that you will get running fast enough to play in about 10 minutes. These are solid rules, but a few flaws keep them from being the gold standard. 4.5/5
Execution– This is a fantastically executed game! Check out all the pieces here: https://youtu.be/n0OI0_nS1e8 YOU CAST RUNES! It feels like every druid fortune telling scene in a viking movie. That right there is amazing. The cards are excellent. Everytime I teach this game players want to stare at the cards as the details are amazing and tell a story themselves. The box is amazing. It has great compartments to keep things organized. Honestly, more games need to be built like this game! 5/5
Summary– This is a game you will either LOVE or HATE. If you want a 12 hour euro game where each move is planned six moves ahead, then this is not the game for you! If you, like me, played eight games of RPGs at the BGG virtual con AND have two play by post games going at the same time, then I have a board game for you and for you to woo your RPG friends into. It’s light enough to be a blast to play quickly, but deep enough for you to find a story to dig into with enough mechanics that you can enjoy your choices. Like all dice games, you can be wrecked by the dice, and I would like a bit more in the rules to elaborate. But, this game is a blast to play and one that any RPG gamer and board gamer needs in their collection. 95%
Basics– What horrors lurk under Farzeen? This is the first part of an epic heroic fantasy campaign from Sandy Petersen. This adventure starts off with mutiny aboard a ship, involves the crew being battered by horrible dreams, losing the crew, finding the city of Farzeen, and eventually finding the crew after they flee to a temple below the island. Along the way the players meet monstrous deep ones, less monstrous ghouls, and an ancient evil long forgotten below this island.
Mechanics or Crunch-This is a solid adventure. The math checks out as it’s just applying the basic 5e rules for the crunch. It uses Sandy Petersen’s dread rules, so you will need the Cthulhu Mythos book for that. Overall, a solidly put together adventure full of fun fights and exploration for low level characters. 5/5
Theme or Fluff-This part is where expectations have to be set early. I honestly think the best way to play Call of Cthulhu is a one shot. People in a normal world, thrown into a crazy situation, damaged beyond repair, then left to deal with the horror for the rest of their lives. That’s good cosmic horror. This isn’t that, and the book is VERY up front with that. This is heroic fantasy with horror thrown in. This adventure isn’t written to be 20 levels of just sheer cosmic horror. You get to be awesome stomping a deep one. Also, some of the main characters are ghouls. Some players are going to miss this, but Lovecraft ghouls are not DnD ghouls. They are more dog men really. It’s things like that that will require your players and you to adjust expectations. Nothing is bad, but you have to read this and see exactly what the author intends. 4.5/5
Execution– PDF? YEP! Hyperlinked? no…That’s honestly my only gripe here. The layout is good. Text size is good. Art is well done. There is even a separate book that is the Farzeen Gazetteer that gives you background on the town and island. That’s an amazing value for 15 bucks considering this is a full length adventure and a whole small book on the island itself! Just hyperlink and this would be one of the best products this year. 4.75/5
Summary-Sandy Petersen’s team put out another top notch product here. It has solid crunch for the adventure. The story is good, but you HAVE to read what it is and what it is not. I also love the pieces of this thing. My gripes are small-I always want PDFs with hyperlinks now, and I went in expecting only cosmic horror all day long. If you can get past those small issues, then you have an incredible start to what is shaping up to be an amazing campaign with the resources you need to make a fun, in depth game for your players. 95%
TL; DR-How the mythos is meant to be played in 5e! 99%
Basics– Ia Ia Cthulhu Fhtagn! The grand cleric of the elder gods is writing for DnD 5e! Sandy Pertersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for 5e is a MASSIVE book with new races, class options, feats, spells, monsters, and mechanics that you can throw into your 5e game. Let’s break down the pieces to see what’s in here.
The tcho-tcho in the room-Ah Lovecraft…I love his work, but MAN he would not fly today. From mental illness to racism, Lovecraft in his original form isn’t post #METOO or #BLM friendly. So, how do you handle the insanity and cosmic horror with the subtext or just text of Lovecraft? Sandy Peterson walks this line extremely well with sidebars dealing with handling mental illness to just dropping the racist parts of the mythos monsters and human acolytes. We can go mad with terror from learning the true history of the universe without having to go to HR!
New Eldritch Toys- This book is a BEAST of content. This book features THREE new races with race specific class options. The old standards of 5e all get some toys as well with feats for everyone, class options for all the core classes, books of unholy lore, and a boat load of new spells. There are also several new items that all cover the fan favorites of star mead to things I haven’t heard of before.
New Mythos Monsters-A hero is only as good as the monster is bad. Then let’s make your heroes LEGENDARY! This book has everything from simple monsters you can throw into your game just because you want something weird to freak out the power gamer who memorized the monster manual to GAME ENDING TITANS who would be the final bad guy in your campaign. Again, you have the fan favorites here like cthulhu to some of the more esoteric, even for the Lovecraft alicionadio, like Byatis. This book also adds in new options for you to throw onto worshipers so your bland cultists into true harbingers of the mythos even at low levels.
New Mythology Mechanics-This book isn’t just a highlight reel of Lovecraft’s old toys. This book adds new crunch to 5e. There is a whole revamped madness and dread system. All characters can now learn how to cast some spells called formulas. There is even a whole new skill dedicated to understanding the cthulhu mythos. The final boss of a campaign now has a solid progression system where the fight becomes epic tales you will tell for years to come.
Ok, now my thoughts.
Mechanics or Crunch– Sandy Peterson is one of the foremost game developers in the Lovecraft mythos, and it shows. This book isn’t just a reskin book where you take a scary monster and now it’s cthulhu. The crunch here is truly Lovecraftian. Monsters feel like they are beyond human ken. There are DEEP dives into the mythos, and not just into the new stuff from people writing in Lovecraft’s shadow. Stuff that gets a small mention that even I forgot like the gnorri get a full race write up. The stuff that is in the base DnD 5e book gets revamped well. I don’t like the madness system in DnD 5e, but this book provides an amazing system that has a great write up that you can drop into a non-cthulhu campaign. I like most of what’s here, but there are a couple of things I have some minor quibbles with. The new mythos skill is called yog-sothothery. I just want it called mythos lore or even to borrow from Call of Cthulhu- cthulhu mythos. Also, I want stat bonuses you get from eldritch tomes to be permanent. But honestly, those are pretty small issues. This book is a solid addition to the Dungeons and Dragons 5e crunch regardless of if you want to run a Cthulhu based campaign or not. 4.9/5
Theme or Fluff-Sandy Peterson is one of the foremost Lovecraft scholars today, and it shows here too. This isn’t just a pile of reskins with tentacles so Lovecraft. This is a well crafted library of Lovecraft eldritch lore. I MYSELF learned stuff about the Lovecraft world from this book. This will teach you not only how to run a solid horror game but also about the world of Lovecraft. But, let’s say you just want a splat book to draw some scary stuff from? This has you covered too. This book is a solid addition to my collection as both a DnD DM and a someone who love the mythos. 5/5
Execution– PDF? YEP! Hyperlinked? YEP! AND IT NEEDS IT! This is a BEAST for 20 bucks. It’s over 400 pages. The base DnD books are not that long and cost twice as much! It’s easy to read but still feels familiar with the font and backgrounds looking like the base books with a decidedly eldritch flare. Monsters have TONS of pictures, so I can throw pictures to my players quickly without having to do a google image search. This book is a solid example of how to produce a 3rd party book. 5/5
Summary– I love Lovecraft. Any idiot can stab me, so that’s not scary. Any punk rogue can sneak attack my character and kill him-not scary. But learning the horrible history of my family and what cost I too have to pay to keep the thing in the basement “pleased” so my family prospers? That’s horror. This book will help you do that. I can’t heap enough praise on this book. I have my minor issues, but those are so minor it almost doesn’t matter. For the amount of content alone for 20 bucks, you can’t go wrong. If you want some monsters to throw at your bored players? Done. You want a book that will be the key and the gate to a world of horror you might never have known existed? This is that book! 99%
Basics– ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH! Continuing the Oracle of War storyline (or maybe starting it), the players are asked to go on a rescue mission into the Mournlands. Will they find the missing salvage crew, survive the warforged separatists, and understand what’s up with the crazy talking box?
Mechanics or Crunch– This adventure is a bit higher level for the players. It’s written for tier one, but one wrong step or even a few bad rolls can tank this quickly. The adventure forces stealth, which for a party of pure beatsticks isn’t as much fun as they hope. Overall, it’s doable and not too far outside of expectations, but I think toning down the challenge as written would help with this. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff-This is a really fun adventure setting the tone for the Oracle of War story as the players finally get into the main event. It’s actually a dungeon crawl. Which is always nice to see, but it’s set in a town. So why don’t they go around? That’s the one part that kind of puts a damper on the situation. Otherwise, it’s a good intro to the meat, story, and setting of this campaign. 4.75/5
Execution– PDF? Yep! Hyperlinked? no… I really like what’s in this with two versions of the adventure for the pretty version and the simple printer version as well as the newspaper that you can hand out. I still like hyperlinks as it will help me hop around between parts of the adventure! But amazing art, font, and layout make this a dream to read. Aside from my love of hyperlinks, this is a really well done adventure. 4.8/5Summary– I love Eberron. I love playing in the Mournlands. I also love a good dungeon crawl. This is all three. The missteps are minor and if you look at your group and see a bad mix for some parts, then as a GM a few changes will help. Also, you may have to add pieces to keep your players from skipping the adventure. “Voice in the Machine” is a solid start to the real campaign of Oracle of War. 93%
Basics– Want some cyberpunk with your DnD 5e mechanics? Carbon 2185 uses the DnD mechanics you love but moves them to a nonmagic, cyperpunk future. Let’s break it down
Mechanics-If you can play DnD 5e, you honestly know everything you need to. It’s d20 + ability modifier + proficiency modifier if they are proficient. This is the elegance of the DnD 5e system, and it’s fully on display here as skills, attacks, and saves all come across into this game.
Character generation-Again, DnD 5e is on display, but there are some drastic changes. You choose a not-race called an origin, then you choose a background. This is honestly the biggest change from DnD 5e. Here you choose an occupation then roll 2d6, adding half your Intelligence modifier to see if you last five years in your chosen occupation. Roll below your threshold and you are injured and lose your job! Survive long enough, and you get paid as well as gain a skill. You can take as many five year time periods as you want, gaining skills and money along the way. All characters get a retirement gift when they leave but if you go long enough you get a retirement bonus. This also changes the game in a weird way. This is an old mans game. If you need four times five years to get a retirement bonus, then your 18 year old going into work ends up 38 coming out. Heck, if you pull another five years in for the sweet, sweet money, you end up middle aged! Age alters the stats a bit, but it’s something to consider.
Classes-Carbon 2185 is DnD 5e, so there are base core ideas that will be here. The Daimyo is the barbarian and so on, but Carbon 2185 has subtle changes to the system that will keep it fresh. Your Daimyo also has bard abilities that make it a bardbarian. Most of the classes are represented, but they end up with a Carbon 2185 twist that does make them fun.
Cleric/Doc-You can’t really have a high hit point game without a healer, so this system has the Doc. The doc doesn’t get spells, but gets a lot of other toys that make them kind of a fighter or other splash classes. Healing abilities refresh after short rests to keep your characters fighting.
Wizard/Hacker-Everyone wants a spellcaster in their DnD, and cyberpunk is no exception. The hacker is the class that has nanobots that do things. In this system everyone basically has Matrix-like hookups that allow them to go online, so you can use that to manipulate them either with pain or distractions. This character also is the one who can manipulate computers, but there is also the hacking skill.
Now the breakdown!
Mechanics or Crunch– I like the crunch here, but I feel that other cyberpunk games have ruined me. Shadowrun has deckers who are hackers, but in this game you can’t really hack a computer and make it do all the things you want to do. Hackers have limited uses of their “spells” so it feels a bit off. Why can’t my hacker hack more than three computers a day at first level? I know the “why” is mechanics based, but it doesn’t quite fit. It’s fun, and it’s fast, but some things don’t fit as well as I want them to. Also, this game is VERY random. Character backgrounds have a very wide variety as some lucky players can get MASSIVE amounts of money and skills while an unlucky one won’t get money or skills from their background. Base abilities are the same with no point buy in the basic system . There is the basic array, but I still want my point buy. Furthermore, no feats!? You get character advancements, so feats may come one day. But, I want them! Let’s hope they come out in another book. Overall, Carbon 2185 works mechanics, but there are some issues that may affect your fun in the crunch. 4/5
Theme or Fluff-Carbon 2185 is its own setting. It’s not exactly just cookie cutter cyberpunk, but is it’s own world that builds fairly organically from today. It’s depressing as all hell, but it feels real. I enjoy playing in this setting while I would NEVER want to live there! 5/5
Execution– PDF? Yep! Hyperlinked? YEP! I like the book in general, but I feel that more is needed to further define things like computer security level and how some skills work. More are the major things I need here. Like more pictures of enemies in the back of the book. More explanation of things that are talked about, but not shown. I like what’s here, but give me more to help better understand the world. 4.5/5Summary-I like this book, but other things may have influenced me. Cyberpunk is a fun world to play in, and the DnD 5e system works lightning fast. But, some of those pieces don’t work well, like the hacker’s “not spells” and hacking computers. That hurts things a bit in terms of flow. The world is fine, but I want more stuff to show myself and the players to help me see the world and better understand the flow and crunch of it. I foresee a number of expansions to this and that would really help the players make the characters their own. It’s a solid RPG with a few issues that hurt it. If you want some Cyberpunk and some simple gaming, this will be your new favorite. 90%
Basics– Multi table event? With my home group? OH YES! I’ve been part of lots of multi table events, but never one at home with a solo group. The Iron Titan picks up with the players dealing with the giant they adventured under in the first Oracle of War adventure causing havoc in town. How well does a multi table event translate to home?
Mechanics or Crunch– This adventure is pretty much the same event in both the multi table event and the single table. The multitable event has rules for multiple tables, and it’s well written. There are small sections added to this adventure that help you run it as a single table event. The players honestly don’t get a different experience in terms of single table crunch vs a multi table event. That’s quite frankly awesome. 5/5
Theme or Fluff– The story of this one is simple. Zombies come. You kill zombies. Then Big Moe attacks, and you run around Big Moe killing pieces of him till you win. Here is where something strange happens. This is a battle interactive, and I liked it when I ran it with several other tables. But I think I like it MORE as a single table event. My players felt like they were the stars. They blew up both arms then went for the head. In the multitable event, you turn off a hand, but then another group does that as well. That’s kind of strange… It’s a fun story where everyone gets to play, but this multitable event actually runs better in single player mode! 4.5/5
Execution– PDF? Yep! Hyperlinked? No, but it doesn’t really matter (I’d still like it though). This is well done. I think the hyperlinks are needed more here than ever as this gets long and finding the sections you need on the fly is pretty important. Overall I like what I see. It reads fast, is well set up, and let’s you go from downloading to playing in about 10 minutes. And you can play well after 10 minutes! Solid execution in this one but I miss my hyperlinks. 4.8/5
Summary– I like this adventure, but this goes beyond me liking the adventure. We’re in the middle of the plague. Some people can’t make it to a regional con. Some people have limitations on where they can play. Some groups can’t travel. Now every group playing the Oracle of War campaign can play this. Of all the things I like about this adventure, that’s the best part-accessibility. More groups will have the shared experience of this adventure. You will enjoy this kaiju killing adventure, but the fact that any group anywhere can play this makes this a homerun I hope I keep seeing more of. 95%
Basics– Eberron? In MY 5e? OH YES! Let’s hope in and look at the new TWENTY adventure long story for Eberron The Oracle of War Storyline called The Night Land. You start by rolling into the town of Salvation on the Mournland border, and like all poor hungry souls, it’s time to find a job! What’s the job board got today?
Mechanics or Crunch– This adventure is pretty balanced for crunch. It is the same formula you’ve grown to love or maybe be annoyed with in this first adventure by Shawn. Three small quests with some time between to rest up. The party does some crazy stuff, rests, repeat. The players learn how to be their characters, get a bit of a challenge, and then 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff– Standard well done 1st level adventure! Shawn does 1st level adventure well. Small packages to not kill the party day one. It has a bit of Eberron feel, but like most things, it will require the DM to amp up the world feel. You do hang with some goblins, changelings, and some horrors of the mournlands, so you get a good intro of the horrible things that want to eat you! You can get a bit bored as your party might recognize a formula when they start. But its level one! You’re off to run errands and kill low level monsters, not take on the Lord of Blades day one! 4.5/5
Execution– PDF? Yep! Hyperlinked? No, but it doesn’t really matter (I’d still like it though). This product has THREE PDFs. One is the adventure in glorious color with lots of pictures that you run through the home printer. The second is a slimmed down black and white no frills product that you run through the home printer. Third is a newspaper to throw the players! That’s some awesome world world building! In addition, the adventure organizers have FULL PAGE sheets the players get after the adventure. The things they check off let them know some serious crap is up. Heck, I as a GM who isn’t fully aware of the campaign knows some crap is up, so I’m buying in too. I also like the authors’ use of the DMs Guild to full effect by putting lots of pictures in. These are pictures I’ve seen before, but it’s a nice touch to the other pictures that they throw in. I like the art deco style of everything. It honestly makes me feel more like we are between wars and I know something bad is coming…. 4.9/5
Summary-I like Eberron, and The Wife LOVES Eberron. This adventure brought her back to 5e and weekly gaming at the store. That’s the sales pitch that I can give. Now, is it perfect? No. It’s 1st level fare. Small tapas portions of adventures as your cleric might be able to roll out two cure wounds and a real bad round of two crits can completely wreck a party. Is that a problem? No. This is fun. I’ll equate this to my favorite above average hibachi restaurant. I know exactly what the chef is going to do there, but guess what? I’m going to show up and be happy I went! 93%