Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Doors to Darkness

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

Product-Doors to Darkness

System- Call of Cthulhu, 7th Ed.

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $17.48 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/199593/Doors-to-Darkness

TL; DR-Decent intro with some basic Call of Cthulhu adventures. 90%

Basics–  What’s in the basement?  Doors to Darkness is a collection of five simple adventures that beginner keepers can bring to the table to introduce Call of Cthulhu to their friends and get new players involved on both sides of the GM screen.

Mechanics or Crunch– What’s here is good, but I would like a bit more.  The crunch of the adventures (monsters, skill checks, basics of play) are all done well.  My one major criticism is there is not a lot of extra information to help newer keepers/game masters learn the ropes.  I would like a bit more GM box text to help a new game master run the game.  Since the players and the GM are most likely new, that would really help everyone learn exactly what they are doing.  Solid work but this book needs a bit more basics explained to the GM. 4/5

Theme or Fluff–  This book has some solid stories that may be a bit disjointed.  There are five stories that range from snake cults to undead horrors.  Nothing is bad and these are excellent introduction stories, but none of these are really connected.  It leads to a bit of a random experience that can end up being kind of a monster of the week.  Not bad, but do not expect a long running campaign, but a more introductory experience. 4.5/5

Execution–  Here is where Chaosium excels.  Chaosium makes amazing digital props and electronic resources for their adventure.  Solid layout, digital links, and good text make for an easy to read experience.  The book of notes is also an amazing piece that really helps me as a keeper draw in my players.  And there are several premade characters that any player could pick up and start playing right away.  Fantastic execution Chaosium! 5/5

Summary– Overall, this is a solid effort to help new players get into Call of Cthulhu.  For about 18 bucks you get five adventures with decent plot, solid tools and great handouts to draw new and old players in.  New keepers will have a bit of trouble as this could use a bit more tools to help newer ones with the rules.  But if you want to start Call of Cthulhu and need a good starting point, this is a great place to begin.  90%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Pathfinder Society Intro: Year of Shattered Sanctuaries

Product– Pathfinder Society Intro: Year of Shattered Sanctuaries

System- Pathfinder 2nd Ed

Producer– Paizo

Price– $5.99 here https://paizo.com/products/btq027s9/reviews&page=2?Pathfinder-Society-Intro-Year-of-Shattered-Sanctuaries#tabs

TL; DR-A simple and solid adventure 86%

Basics–  YOU ARE NEEDED PATHFINDERS!  This is an intro scenario for new pathfinders and players of all ages.  From a mushroom man trying to sort letters to uncovering a simple mystery can you, a new agent, help the Society in a time of need?

Mechanics or Crunch– This is a simple adventure that gets players rolling dice fairly quickly, but has a slightly slow start.  It’s not a super risk taking adventure like the 2-01 intro, but it does introduce many society elements and grander plots.  After learning about different adventures around the world, the game is a series of battles. Good for intro fun with some basic elements.  It’s not crazy-advanced crunch, but it’s solid fun for new players.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff–  Much like the crunch, the adventure doesn’t take risks, has a slow start, but is a decent intro to the world of Pathfinder society.  Reading letters at the start is a bit slow, but it does introduce the wider world quickly.  The fights are fun if a little standard for 1st level.  This isn’t an adventure to push the envelope, but it also doesn’t aim to be.  4/5

Execution–  Paizo knows adventures, but they are also the most pricey.  I like this one.  It has a solid layout, pictures, and design, but it’s also an adventure that will only take about three hours, even with an uninitiated adventuring party.  It’s a bit expensive considering what other comparably priced adventures do.  Not bad, but short. 4.5/5

Summary– The first adventure of a season is always a contentious adventure.  Push the envelope too much and people get a bit lost as new players.  Don’t do enough and you end up with just four smaller adventures showing off factions.  This strikes a decent balance, but in doing so it doesn’t take risks in terms of scope or being adventurous.  It’s also a Paizo product and they put out well done, if expensive adventures.  It works well, though it is a bit simple.  86%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game

Product– Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Games Playtest Rulebook

System- d616

Producer– Marvel

Price– $9.99 here https://www.amazon.com/Marvel-Multiverse-Role-Playing-Game-Playtest/dp/1302934244 

TL; DR-A solid evolution of GURPS 93%

Basics–  AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!  The Multiverse Role-Playing Game is the newest version of Marvel role-playing game.  Let’s look at the game play, theme, and execution in our break down of the Marvel Multiverse role-playing game.

Basic mechanics/d616 system-  Like most other RPGs, this system is roll dice, add number, see if successful. What sets this system apart is the basic mechanic of 2d6 and a separate d6.  The separate d6 is your Marvel die where the six is a six, but a one is used as a six. Thus you have two normal dice and a die with two sixes increasing the likelihood of higher rolls.

Edge, trouble and Karma– Like most other modern RPGs, this system has reroll abilities.  If your character has advantages like equipment or special powers, you can reroll dice, taking the higher roll. Trouble is the opposite of edge where the game master, called the narrator, can make you reroll dice and take the lower value.  Karma is a resource you can spend when you choose to reroll a single die on any check.

Character Generation-  Character generation is relatively easy.  Your group chooses a rank between 0, basic human, to 25, god-like power, a concept, archetype, basically a class, spend ability points, pick backstory elements that function as traits, choose powers,and calculate final scores.  This is a very class-based system, so you choose a class and that’s what you do.  Right now you can’t blend classes, but this is a playtest.  The archetype you choose determines how your different character attributes change as you level up and spend points to advance.  Interestingly, each attribute also has a corresponding defense value similar to DnD 5e for saving throws.

Powers- Powers are the equivalent of feats in DnD.  Your backstory, rank and concept affect what powers you have access too.  Also interestingly, there are the equivalent of feat trees as you can become more powerful in a particular area.

Combat-Combat is similar to most other RPGs.  You start with initiative and on your turn you can take different actions like easy actions, actions like talking quickly, standard actions, attacking or doing something complicated, movement, and off turn actions like reactions.  Attacks are against specific defenses, and success means you do damage according to your archetype. Damage is reduced by specific damage resistances which give a specific value.

Ok, let’s see our thoughts on it.

Mechanics or Crunch– This system feels like an interesting evolution of the GURPS system mixed with modern ideas.  The system works decently well, but the system makes a few strange steps to make the d616 system happen.  The idea of a die having two sixes is interesting but it’s done because the basic universe for the Marvel comics is the 616 universe ( for reference we live in the universe 1218).  That said, the basic ideas are things most RPG players will know and love and pick up quickly.   4.5/5

Theme or Fluff–  There isn’t much to say except this is done well.  You have the Marvel comics people doing the Marvel Comics RPG.  They know their characters so what you see here feels like the Marvel comics.  5/5

Execution–  I love everything I see here with one exception. The book has a great layout, solid writing, and good pictures.  It has several premade characters and a whole adventure all for under 10 bucks!  What I don’t like is I can’t just buy a PDF. I can buy digital via roll20, but I can’t just go to drive thru RPG and buy a PDF.  This is good for the comic shops, but I want to read this via my tablet or phone via PDF.  This is strange as I can buy via Kindle, so why not the usual places? 4.5/5

Summary– Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Games is a good evolution of game design and production.  The system is good despite the quaint use of the die that breaks down to two sixes on it.  The story is solid as solid stories and theme is what Marvel does.  The execution is great, but I am annoyed that I can’t buy this where I get most of my RPGs.  Overall, this is a solid game that, if you or your fellow true believers want a comic book adventure oneshot, is well worth picking up.  93%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Frog Logs

Product-Frog Logs

Product-Frog Logs

Producer– Guildmaster Games

Price-$29 on kickstarter soon!

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 10 minutes

Type- Dexterity

Depth-light

TL; DR– Keep the fun running fast! 90%

Basics- Let’s get stacking!  In Frog Logs each player stacks a bent frog card on top of a log and another frog.  If your frog stays upright, then you score!  If it falls or knocks others off, then you don’t score that round.  First to six points or be out of frogs wins!

Mechanics–   This is just pure dexterity based fun. It’s a fast game of stacking the frogs to get the most points.  Simply a joy.  5/5

Theme-I like this game, but if you are looking for Gloomhaven levels of story, then you are out of luck.  That said, it’s funny frogs jumping on each other and a log.  For what it is, it’s solid. 4.5/5

Instructions–  The print and play simple rules are fun and quick enough to get playing in shorter time than it takes to cut the cards.  That said, the rules on the kickstarter do a better job of explaining exact car placement and finer rules points.  But keep in mind, this is not a game where your friends argue over small details for hours in deep minutiae. Stack the frog and win the points.  I think the rules in the box will do a much better job than the one page print and play files. 4.5/5

Execution– The game is put together well!  The print and play is a fantastic version that get you playing in 10 minutes with print time.  The physical version looks amazing and portable.  That said, the price might be a bit high.  The game is from Australia so prices and shipping will always be a bit higher.  4/5

Summary–  Frog Logs was part of a quick design challenge, and honestly that doesn’t show.  It feels like a solid, well designed dexterity game that doesn’t over stay its welcome.  It will not be the weekend killer game that you play 72 hours straight in one epic game session, but if you are at the bar with the buds and you want to play a simple game, this is it.  Or, if you and your friends finish a game before the other group of friends at the game night, this is an absolutely amazing filler game between the longer games to keep the fun rolling.  The price is a bit high, but not out of the realm of other similar games.  Honestly, if you have the extra cash, this would be a fine, quick game to add to your collection.  90%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Colonel Bull’s Body

Product– Colonel Bull’s Body

System- Any system but fits well with Savage Worlds/Deadlands

Producer– Dragonlaird Gaming

Price– $7.99 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/376305/Colonel-Bulls-Body?affiliate_id=658618 

TL; DR-A great intro to Deadlands. 98%

Basics–  THE DEAD WALK!  A friend of yours has died, but now some see horrors off in the distance.  You don’t care either way as getting his body back for burial nets you a massive pay day.  Can you find his body and get your money?

Mechanics or Crunch– Solid work here for a fantasy cowboy game and fits well into a Deadlands game.  There is investigation, combat, and roleplaying in equal measure here so all three pillars of a good session are on display.  This is just good, well done crunch.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– More solid work here by Dragonlaird for their story.  My one, very slightly negative point is that it’s similar to a predictable Deadlands plot.  There is always some evil sorcerer guy off-screen doing a bad.  That’s why this feels like Deadlands, but it could be a bit too predictable for your hardcore Deadlands fan as not much comes out of left field.    4.75/5

Execution– Dragonlaird excels again with their making of a nearly flawless book.  Hyperlinks, layout, text size, scannability, art-everything is just on point.  My one issue is cost.  It’s 8 bucks.  Not horrible, but it’s that much for about one solid or two shorter four hour sessions.  But, you are getting what you pay for with this one. 4.9/5

Summary– I’ve always wanted to get deeper into the old west and while not a Deadlands product, it would lead you deeper into it.  It’s an interesting world, and it takes advantage of the Savage Worlds rule set.  Colonel Bull’s Body is an excellent intro adventure for both.  It’s got classic cowboy fantasy themes and solid mechanics.  Your older Deadlands fans might not get as much out of it, but for those looking for a good intro to the fantasy cowboy world or a solid session, this would be a great one to pull out for game night.  The price is a bit high, but you are getting what you pay for with this product in terms of art, design, and layout.  Another great product by Dragonlaird.  98%