Ring Side Report-Freeway Fighter #1

Book-Freeway Fighter #1

Author and Illustrators– Ewington, Coleby, O’Grady, Campbell

Book- ~$3.99 here https://www.amazon.com/Freeway-Fighter-1-Andi-Ewington-ebook/dp/B06WWGCJGV

TL; DR-I wanna play the old games now!  91%


Basics-The world has ended and those left fight to survive.  That’s a standard intro to everybody’s favorite post-apocalyptic freeway franchise, but this one is based on the Fighting Fantasy game called Freeway Fighter!  In this comic we meet Rose, a former not-NASCAR driver who survived a massive plague and now fights in a world where only the fast survive.

Characters-You can’t really say characters for this one as you really only get to meet Rose, the main character of this series so far.  She’s described more in actions than in words as she speaks in a few monologues to the audience but mostly is alone in the issue.  She spends lots of time behind the wheel, and does a bit of outside the car actions.  I’m intrigued by her, and do want to know more about her.  So good job here.  4.5/5

Setting-I’d say this is a ripoff of Mad Max, but both Mad Max and Fighting Fantasy date back a long time.  This is a good reimagining of the Freeway Fighter books from FF.  The world looks and feels dirty and harsh.  What’s here shows a good contrast between the world of today and the world of Freeway Fighter.  5/5

Story-This isn’t a story heavy book, but that doesn’t make it bad.  When I first read the book, I felt the writers tipped their hands too quickly by telling the reader how the world went to hell, but then I realized, this is not that kind of book.  This is straight up action.  And it’s good at that.  The book’s main goal is get the word out about the world and introduce Rose.  It does that well.  I know a bit about who she is, and what is going on.  The book sets the stage for a race that happened long ago, and now I want to know what happens in that race and what’s going to happen to Rose.  Well done!  4.75/5

Execution-Oh comics…I love comic books.  This one is well written, and the art is great.  What does hurt this a bit is the price.  It’s $3.99, and the book isn’t an extended issue.  I love what’s here, but it feels a bit too much for it’s current price.  4/5

Summary-I grew up in a pretty rural area in Wisconsin, so geek culture didn’t really make its way out to my home town.  This books makes me want to find and play the old Fighting Fantasy Freeway Fighter books.  The comic looks awesome, is well written, and makes me want to know what happens to Rose in issue 2.  All those are great things, but the major problem I have is price.  $3.99 is a bit much for this book.  That hurts a bit.  But, get this one through your pull program, so you get a bit of a price break and it’s well worth you time.  91%.

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook

Product– Player’s Handbook

Producer-Wizards of the Coast

Price– $50 here

System– Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition)

TL; DR– D&D are back!  100%


Basics-Its back!  The fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons was launched at GenCon.  This book covers character generation, character backgrounds and personalities, adventuring, the basic rules of the game, and magic.  If you’ve seen one player’s handbook, you know what’s going to be in any of them.  But, not really!  This book also covers gods of the multiverse, planes of existence, and the creatures your character can often work with. You’ve seen the basics on the PDF reviewed here https://throatpunchgames.com/2014/07/05/ring-side-report-rpg-review-of-basic-rules-for-dungeons-and-dragons/  Lets look at the book.


Crunch or Mechanics-The basic rules are online, and I loved those.  But, this book adds TONS to the game.  This book adds dragonborn, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and tieflings.  All these are great additions to the game along with the additional classes of barbarians, bards, druids, monks, paladin, rangers, sorcerers, and warlocks.  Even the classes from the basic document get amazing additions like the arcane trickster and the AWESOME eldritch knight!  I can’t wait to bring back my 4e sword mage as a fifth edition eldritch knight!  All these classes feel different, yet balanced.  I don’t feel like I have to be any one class to be a good character.  The one topic in the new book which was not presented in the basic rules is feats.  The feats are all surprisingly well balanced and useful.  There is room for expansion in everything, but the base rules give enough to make almost every character you could want.  I love what I see, and can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. 5/5


Theme or Fluff– This book feels lived in.  I loved fourth edition for what it was, but the book felt sterile.  The book was well written, but its style was very much like that of an IKEA instruction manual.  Well done to get a point across, but it feels cold.  This book is very much alive.  Even the parchment-color background of every page makes this one feel like it’s alive.  Besides that, the art and the text makes the world come alive.  Every class, background, and concept gets art and story.  This book makes me feel like I’m stepping into a world that already exists, and that is amazing. 5/5


Execution– So the art is good, the layout is good, and the text is fun to read and invites the reader to keep reading.  You’d expect that.  But there is one thing I want to point out, and it is the honest to goodness best part of the book.  This book features the two best charts in the existence of D&D-page 12 and page 45.  My wife pointed these out to me since I am someone who is a bit jaded when it come to the tables in books, but once you see these and really look, they are amazing.  Page 12 gives a simple summary of abilities, the skills, the races and how they all work together.  It’s amazing in its execution and how much of the book it encapsulates on one chart.  Page 45 give a really quick, one sentence summary of each class, the hit dice, primary ability, its saving throws, and its weapons.  Again, this chart is an amazingly simple description of most of the book.  And that sets the bar for the whole book:  simply amazing. 5/5


Summary– If you want a review of the system, check out my review of the basic game here https://throatpunchgames.com/2014/07/05/ring-side-report-rpg-review-of-basic-rules-for-dungeons-and-dragons/  .  The system is good, great even, but this book is better.  This book is an amazing piece of art, math, and storytelling that sets up an infinite number of other stories.  Like every other RPG geek out there, I’ve been waiting for the new edition as I played in the play test.  I submitted my ideas and feedback.  What came out might not have been my exact perfect RPG, but what did emerge might be my favorite RPG.  Go check this one out NOW! Even at $50, this book is worth the price. 100%

Blurbs from the Booth-The End of the Sundering

I just finished reading the Sundering series for the Forgotten Realms.  I’ve reviewed them all Here:

Book 1- https://throatpunchgames.com/2013/11/14/book-bout-the-companions-the-sundering-book-1/

Book 2- https://throatpunchgames.com/2013/11/14/book-bout-the-godborn-the-sundering-book-2/

Book 3- https://throatpunchgames.com/2014/01/22/book-bout-book-review-of-the-sundering-book-iii-the-adversary/

Book 4- https://throatpunchgames.com/2014/03/16/book-bout-book-review-of-the-sundering-book-iv-the-reaver/

Book 5- https://throatpunchgames.com/2014/04/18/book-bout-book-review-of-the-sentinel-the-sundering-book-v/

Book 6- https://throatpunchgames.com/2014/07/27/book-bout-book-review-of-the-herald/


Now that it’s done, what do I think?  Let’s answer a few yes/new questions to keep thing simple (somewhat…):

Will I read more Forgotten Realms Books: yes*

Am I happy with what the Sundering did to the Realms: no**

Do I think the Sundering is a good way to bring new people into FR: yes***

Did you think the Sundering novels had a formula: yes

If you thought the Sundering novels had a formula, did you like it: no****

Are you still a Forgotten Realms fan: yes

Will you run Forgotten Realms games in the future: yes

Was the number of novels appropriate for the setting: no****

Are you glad you read these novels: yes



How about you?  Have you read the Sundering?  What did you think?  Fill out my survey above and tell me what you thought!


*-I was invested in the Realms before.  It was the first real fantasy setting I was part of, so its got a place in my heart.  Some of the books really made me happy to be reading them.  Others….I more suffered through.  I still don’t really like Drizzit, but for some of the new characters, I would like to learn more about them.


**-The Sundering, to a large extent, treated the fourth edition Forgotten Realms as a mistake.  I LOVED the fourth edition Forgotten Realms!  But, then again, I loved fourth edition.  For the most part, anything that was novel (pun intended) about the Realms was washed away by the Sundering.  I can deal with that, but since I spent a lot of time and energy to learn and loved that material, it felt like a small slap in the face.


***-This really varied book by book.  Some books did an excellent job introducing established people and the Forgotten Realms as a whole.  Some books made even me, who has read 20 to 30 of these novels, not know who the author was talking about.


****-The formula to me was: 1)introduce some established people/make some people, 2) introduce the setting 3)introduce a problem for the people in the setting 4)change the setting back to 3.5 Forgotten Realms to fix the problem .  I didn’t think FR was broken, so I don’t like some solutions.  Seeing everything you’ve learned about and cared about changed to move things back to where they were was somewhat saddening.  I have the same problem with comics.  Comics are a sine wave.  If you pick any point on a sine wave, and draw a parallel line to the horizon, you will eventually hit a point exactly as far from zero on the wave again.  To you the wave never changed if you have those two points as your reference.  Comics are the same way: Spider-Man is married-single-then married, Wolverine is alive-dead-alive,  People are on a team-kicked off-back on.  Nothing changes.  You don’t want to rock the formula that works for the comics.  Fourth edition changed things.  Now, it’s back to where it was again.  I don’t want things to change if the change doesn’t matter.  Why bother making things different if they can’t stay different?  No one grows or evolves if everything goes right back to where it started.


*****-What I would have loved to see at the end of the sundering was a setting guide.  I’ve heard this complaint repeated several times.  I want to know how things are in the world.  I have a few points of light at best as to what is going on, but for the most of the realms, I don’t have a clue.  I want to jump back into the realms with both feet!  Let’s start gaming!

Book Bout-Book Review of The Sundering Book III: The Adversary

Book– The Sundering Book III: The Adversary

Author – Erin M. Evans

Price- $8

TL;DR– Another good addition to the Sundering lineup 80%


Basics–  Time to return to the Realms.  Erin M. Evans returns to the Forgotten Realms continuing the story of Farideh and Havilar.  Farideh makes a deal with a devil and ends up being teleported through time.  Now Ferideh is caught up in a plot involving Asmodeus’ continuing godhood, devils vying for power, Netheril, and trying to do the right thing.  Havilar has to face the realities of what seven years can do to a relationship with a crown prince in Cormyr.


Setting– This book feels like it’s in the realms.  Everything feels right.  Lots of realm lore comes into play and those of us who are read lots of Forgotten Realms books will feel right at home and get a knowing wink from the author.  New readers will get a good background to at least part of the world. 4/5


Characters– This is truly an ensemble book.  Heck, the author doesn’t just have a main character; she’s got twin sisters running around stirring up trouble.  Every character gets a bit of time to shine, and when I was finished, I didn’t have a standout character who was my favorite.  I rooted for everybody all the way through.  However with the number of character running around, I did get a little confused from time to time on who someone was. 4/5


Story– I’ve talked before about the Sundering, and this book follows the same formula.  It takes a good story, introduces major players and what they’ve done since the last realms books came out, and sets up the characters for another book trilogy.  I like the story that this book has while it does set up major events in the realms, and I most likely will pick up the following trilogy.  The story itself is a bit long for my taste, and I did take a few breaks while getting through it.  I might not been the greatest page turner, but I am glad I read it.  4/5


Summary– I liked this story, maybe not as much as other Sundering books, but I did like this.  I know more about the realms now than I did before and want to see where it goes from here.  I like the characters I read about, and am honestly interested in what happens to them.  I can easily recommend this book. 80 %

Book Bout- The Godborn (The Sundering Book 2)

Book– The Godborn (The Sundering Book 2)

Author-Paul S. Kemp

TL;DR–  New characters and not just a rehash of old ones! 86.7 %


Synopsis-This story focuses on Vasen, son of Kemp’s most renowned character Cale.  Vasen is the child of a chosen of a dark god and raised by clerics of a light god.  How and if Vasen can learn to walk these two paths, free his dead/sleeping father from the hells, and stop the apocalypse is to focus of this book.  Along the way Vasen will meet a strange cast of characters, see the Forgotten Realms Change around him, and most importanly, change who he once was.


Story– The story covers a lot of ground reintroducing a trilogy and all its characters as well as introducing a slew of new characters for Kemp’s next series.  It does feel like the purpose of the book is two fold: 1-set up a new book series 2-set up what happened to the Forgotten Realms.  It’s not bad, but you do feel like it has goals besides tell you a story.  However, this story does introduce new characters and it keeps them past the credits.  So, I feel that’s a win. 4.5/5


Characters– The Godborn brings back the characters from Kemp’s last three books, but also adds a few new characters.  Some of them didn’t get as much screen time, and it felt at times they were there because the fans would want them.  But, the book clocks in around 300 pages, so there isn’t space for everybody to get the spotlight the whole time.  I liked the characters as they felt well rounded.  This goes even for the characters I was supposed to hate.  However, this book does have a name problem.  Please don’t name two characters almost the same thing.  Especially if they share screen time!  4/5


Writing– This book is not for most of you out there.  Kemp loves to push the boundaries of what a DnD novel will get away with.  I was surprised to see what I read in the novel with lots of gore splattered throughout the novel.  This made me love this all the more.  This isn’t King, but it does do its job well. 4.5/5


Summary-I liked this book.  Again, don’t expect some George R.R. Martin levels of depth here, but George R.R. Martin wouldn’t write in the Forgotten Realms world.  Kemp delivers a good book that updates the Forgotten Realms and brings back some of his fan favorite characters. 86.7%

Book Bout- The Companions (The Sundering Book 1)

Book- The Companions (The Sundering Book 1)

Author-R. A. Salvatore

TL;DR-A solid Drizzit book with almost no Drizzit! 80%


Synopsis-Over the past five Drizzit books, all of his companions have died and the world has moved forward over 100 years.  Now, all of Drizzit’s friends meet up in a demiplane of his goddess.  They are given the chance to reincarnate to help Drizzit in the future.  This book follows their journeys as they become younger versions of the heroes the used to be and return to help Drizzit.


Story-The story covers a lot of ground, but it does it fairly well.  It’s really three different main stories in one.  Each story covers Catti-bre, Regis, or Bruenor growing up and introducing a decent size cast of characters and locations along the way.  A portion of the story revolves around changes to the weave and the world, setting up some future events.  It’s reasonably well done and on par with R. A. Salvatore’s previous books.  I did think it was kind of funny a significant portion of a character’s inner monolog was dedicated to laying out that any character could die at any point, but really, it’s got the Harry Potter problem;  no main character at anytime was really in any danger.  4/5


Characters- I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of Drizzit.  This is more to do with when I came into DnD then the character himself.  When I entered the hobby, Drizzit was well established and every drow I met was fighting across type and trying to redeem themselves.  Well, this book deals with that problem by just not having Drizzit in this book (almost).  The book really just focuses on his companions and how they grow up.  The characters stay pretty consistent and well designed.  I did have some real problems with Bruenor.  You will get really tired of his crap. 4/5


Writing- This is pretty much on par with what you would expect for R. A. Salvatore.  It’s fairly well done.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Drizzit’s philosophical treatises at the start of each section but these are kept to a minimum.  The style is well done, but some sections do drone on a bit longer than necessary and some elements seem a bit contrived.  However, it is worth the ride. 4/5


Summary- I liked this novel.  It’s not an instant classic, but for a DnD novel, it’s well done.  It expands the world and led me to want to read more about Drizzit.  Since I’m now hooked, I call this a win. 12/15- 80%