Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Cults of Cthulhu

Product– Cults of Cthulhu

System- Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $25 here https://www.chaosium.com/cults-of-cthulhu-pdf/ 

TL; DR– Solid Book of bad guys, set ups, and tools 100%

Basics–  Ia! Ia!  Cults of Cthulhu gives you… exactly what it says!  This book is a book of four different cults, adventures to go against each cult, and tools to build your own cthulhu cult.

Mechanics or Crunch–  This book is VERY much a Keeper’s book and not a players’ book, and that’s ok.  This book has new monsters and stats for them, variant spells, and tips for building your own cult.  I am honestly impressed by the depth of ideas for building a cult.  I play too many fantasy games where the idea of how a cult is financed doesn’t come up.  But here, how the money happens is a very important way to build your cult.  Even optional crunch for Pulp Cthulhu is presented!  Players will find nothing in this book, but Call of Cthulhu doesn’t really ever give players much more beyond the basic investigator book.  The crunch doesn’t disappoint in this one.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– Again, this is a Keeper book, but built in a fun, informative way to help the Keeper build a world.  Each of the four presented cults have real depth and personality with individual people and their goals presented.  My one minor negative is like most Cthulhu books, you really only get the 1920s as a playground.  It’s the most popular time for Call of Cthulhu, so I understand why, but I do seriously appreciate the one modern cult that is presented here.  Also, adventures!  There are four adventures against these four cults.  So even if you need a one shot, this book has you covered.  5/5

Execution– I don’t think Chaosium has ever disappointed me.  Hyperlinks, solid handouts, easy reading, separate files, pictures of monsters, and everything else makes this the whole nine yards.  Its 25 bucks as a PDF, which is a decent chunk for a PDF, but even if you just used this for four one-shots, that brings the price down to manageable levels of any other market adventure for CoC.  And it seems that Chaosium is listening and , while I love them, the handwritten notes are hard to read, Chaosium is making just nice plain text ones as well.  My one complaint is I want pregens for each of the adventures, but that is just begging for more on an already solid product.  5/5

Summary– Cthulhu is gonna be the main draw for a game called Call of Cthulhu, so why not have some humans doing bad things for him?  This book is a solid resource that, even if I just wanted some quick adventures and handouts, is well worth the price of admission.  If you want to build your own cults, then this is the book you might want to check out as well.  NOW DO YOG! 100%

Ring Side Report- Preview of The Golden Age of Khares

Product– The Golden Age of Khares

System- Low Fantasy Gaming

Producer– Moose Lodge Games

Price– Kickstarter now!  Check here!  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mooselodgegames/the-golden-age-of-khares 

TL; DR-Solid Bronze Age Fun.  93%

Basics–  Let’s go old school OLD SCHOOL!  The Golden Age of Khares is a bronze age gaming supplement for Low Fantasy Gaming, a hybrid system midway between DnD 5e and OSR games like DCCRPG.  This focuses on much older tech and sword and sorcery in a long lost era.

Mechanics or Crunch– How much you like this game depends on how much you like Low Fantasy Gaming.  I love DCC and DnD, so this is a solid addition to that niche!  You have new classes that fit the Conan-esc mold with bizarre monsters to make the world feel like an old 70s sword and sorcery movie or book.  There are also well done tables to help you randomly get treasure to players, to help you move the game along swiftly, and new areas to expand into like boxing and melee tournaments.  Lastly there are rules for massive dungeon creation for all kinds of fun dungeon crawling shenanigans.  That is decidedly old school.  Solid new crunch here for your Low Fantasy Game!  5/5

Theme or Fluff– How much you like this book again depends on something else-do you like the bronze age?  Not standard European fantasy, but more people long ago dealing with horrible monsters of antiquity and vast empires of slaves where it was just the might of your blade or the strength of your spells to uphold right?  Me?  I’m down for this.  I’m looking forward to making a random dungeon and throwing players into it.  I do want to know more about this world, but the creatures next goal is to make a world book to help fill in the fluff of the world. 4.5/5

Execution– My kickstarter preview edition is well done.  Solid art, solid layout, and solid tables all lead me to be able to read this quickly and move forward fast.  The simple book is free, so I love that.  The good book is $15 for google drive access, and the better book is $20.  Those are not bad prices for a supplement.  I would like to know if it’s hyperlinked, but as of now, I like everything I see here. 4.5/5

Summary– The best part of doing these reviews is learning new things.  I had no idea that Low Fantasy Gaming existed before this project.  It’s honestly a great system that will get its own review one day.  And then I learned about this project.  It has solid mechanics to add to Low Fantasy gaming.  It’s got solid new art, and it’s laid out well and starts to build a world that I can sink my teeth into.  I do want a bit more, but that problem comes because this is a small team.  And, it’s a good problem because when your project is solid enough to interest me I want more of it, that indicates that you got quality work here!  93%

Ring Side Report- Preview of the upcoming Alarian, Valor and Company RPG!

a new idea every day! 

Product– Alarian, Valor and Company

System- Alarian, Valor and Company

Price– Not out yet, but coming soon!  Check here!  https://subscribepage.io/VC  

TL; DR– DnD, Pathfinder, and Poker all mixed together! 87%

Basics–  And now for something completely different!  Today I have an upcoming Alarian RPG.  It’s on the horizon, but not completely finished yet.  Let’s look at the basics, and tell you what I think of the sneak peek I got.

Stats, skills and character building- Like most other RPGs, this one has a solid foundation for a few basic stats and skills based on each stat.  When you build a character you choose which stats advance faster than others with some having fast progression, advancing every other level, and some advancing every three levels.  Skills are a simple point investment as you level as well.  What is interesting are the traits.  Traits are similar to feats in DnD but they have stat requirements.  These traits look like the main way you build a character.  The basic builds so far either give you lots of stats and fewer skills and traits, while the other build lets you have more skills, slow stat gain, but lets you ignore some trait requirements.  This lets you build a character that is not bound by a class but can dip into anything you think might be fun.

Using your skills and cards-Here is where this RPG takes a big leap.  The game DOES NOT USE DICE!  Instead players draw from a 54 card deck with jokers being wild.  Players get 1 free card per test, then cards equal to their skill and half the associated statistic.  The goal is to draw a particular suit either determined by the DM, the situation, or the player deciding before getting cards.  Players attempt to get 1, 2, or 3 cards of the suit for a degree of success.

Combat- Combat is a mix of theater of the mind and tiles.  Characters get a move and a standard action, but a stat called focus allowes players extra attacks, moves, or even determines how many attacks of opportunity a character can get. Weapons have three interesting features.  First is simple damage to a character.  Second it costs a character focus as they get smacked around and cant focus as much to do extra things.  Lastly they cause poise loss meaning the defender’s armor won’t work as well as more attacks beat on that character.  These are all amazingly technical things, but the game takes a bit of a departure as the game then moves to side based combat as one side and all its players go then the other side goes.

Ok, on to my thoughts..

Mechanics or Crunch– This is a new system, and I am intrigued.  What I see is interesting enough to get me to kickstart it.  I love some things, such as the novel card mechanic.  Some things I don’t like as much.  I would either lean more technical with movement and combat or less and have just sides smash into each other.  The mix feels a bit off.  That might be a preference thing from years of DnD 5e as well as years of PF1.  Will it work?  I think so, but it’s a new mix that’s interesting to me.   4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– I like what’s here, but I will need more. “Yeah, Ed this is a preview!”, so the traits are not a complete list yet nor is the world fully built.  That said, what we have is an interesting mix.  I’m intrigued enough to want to see the full list.  And for a preliminary copy, the world guide is interesting enough to get me to bite.  Perfect?  No, but the hook is set.  4.5/5

Execution– More grading on a curve this week.  This is a prepublish, not complete book.  There is not fancy art on every other page, nor is there a PDF.  What is here is a few books and art assets.  Those honestly are impressive.  The words need another pass of polish as a few things are pretty redundant in the verbiage.  Also, some explanations seem a bit deep for how to play.  None of that is a game breaker by any means, but all are to be expected in a preview.  4/5

Summary– The most annoying thing for me as the alpha geek at my gaming store is other geeks who don’t want to try something new simply because they have not tried it before.  This is something new.  It’s solid-new that is well done.  It’s not perfect-new, but then again, I’m getting a sneak peek behind the curtain before it’s ready for prime time.  And what I’ve seen means I’ll come back at prime time when things are finalized.  There are small things at the core that are not my favorite, like group initiative and map combat at the same time, but possibly seeing the full suite of things will make me forget any misgivings.  As things stand, I wholeheartedly recommend you also check this out when the public gets a look at this.   87%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Heroes of Cerulea

Product-Heroes of Cerulea

System- Heroes of Cerulea

Producer– Bläckfisk Publishing

Price– Kickstarter now! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/blackfiskforlag/heroes-of-cerulea-pixelated-dungeon-crawl-tabletop-rpg?ref=user_menu 

TL; DR-Numenera and Zelda! 96%

Basics–  Time for some 8Bit DnD!  Heroes of Cerulea is as old school as you can get with a tabletop RPG that wants to be the 8 bit Zelda you remember.  There is a bad guy who did a bad thing that brok the magic gold thing and he needs to go down in four dungeons.  Yep, that’s the Legend of Zelda I remember!  Let’s break this down.

Dice and Rolls- Characters have exactly three stats: might, bravery, insight.  When you do a thing, you roll a number of four sided dice equal to the stat.  Ones and twos are bad, three is success with a cost like damage, and four is outright success.  If you roll two or more dice on an action, then you take the highest die. If you roll multiple fours, you get better degrees of success.  Might covers physical things like attacks.  Bravery is defense and physical things like climbing.  And insight is mental things like range attacks or talking.

Combat-  Combat is interesting as it’s VERY much like Numenera.  The characters say the things they will do.  I as the GM say the things the monsters do.  And ONLY the players roll dice.  Monster swings at you and you want to attack it back?  Roll bravery for the defense and might for the attack.  Bravery got a three?  You and the monster both take a hit.  Rolled two fours on the attack back and the monster took two hits killing the monster.

Ok, on to my thoughts..

Mechanics or Crunch– This is a very simple system, but that is not bad.  If you need character building that takes 10 hours and endless customization that requires a computer to optimize then maybe this isn’t the game for you.  The quickstart that the writers put out is honestly written on a trifold pamphlet-AND I LOVE IT!  It’s quick, simple, and fun.  Now, I need a bit more explanation to things, as does combat always happen at the same time or is there initiative?  That I hope is explained in the full game, but from what I have seen, I like what’s here.   4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– Mileage will vary with the theme in this one.  I’m getting older, and that’s not getting better.  My cell phone has more processing power then the original space shuttle.  My first games were The Legend of Zelda, so this simple world story of “bad guy did bad thing, get the gold thing from him” coupled with a retro art style and aesthetic makes me happy.  If you need your hero to have more than 8 bits of color and 10 total polygons, then this won’t hit that nostalgia for you.  That said, I love what’s here. 5/5

Execution– I’m going to grade on a curve here.  The publishers put  out a free(ish) pdf for everyone to check out.  You can pay what you want, but I threw them a buck, and honestly, it was VERY worth it.  It included a slick rules pamphlet, a slick GM pamphlet, a dungeon pamphlet, and a nice character sheet.  My players were building people in five minutes, and we played for two hours.  If the real rules are anything like this, I will be absolutely ecstatic.  5/5Summary– Some days you just want to play the classics, whatever that is to you.  Get that hit of nostalgia on graphics that are honestly not amazing and may not have held up, and simple stories that don’t delve crazy-deep into world-building or fleshing out every minor character.  This feels like that game.  It’s a simple game from a simpler time for me, and I love everything here.  You should check this out if you can.  Get some buds and play a fun adventure saving the princess and macguffin while killing the bad guy with a simple-to-master system, fun art direction and story, and solid production.  I’ve backed this thing, and I hope you do too!  96%