Ring Side Report- Black Void Quick Start Rules

Product– Black Void Quick Start Rules

System-Black Void

Producer– Christoffer Sevaldsen

Price– $12 here on kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/68133405/black-void-rpg

TL; DR-The D12 DOESN’T cry itself to sleep! 90%

Basics-.Welcome to Llyhn the eternal!  In the Black Void, characters survive in a world where giant almost black holes, the Black Voids of the title, opened up around Babylon and swallowed the chunks of the world whole, dragging men and women off screaming into the darkness.  After some time and much loss of life, humans found themselves in Llyhn, the eternal city, where inhuman masters rule. Will you survive in this world where you are far from home as characters scrabble in the dirt in this fantasy Middle Eastern RPG?

Base Mechanics- This game uses a d12 as its primary die.  Characters add either their traits and/or abilities to the roll hoping to reach a 7, the normal success roll that can vary quite a bit depending on the complexity of the action.  It’s a pretty simple system that makes me think a bit of other roll to a set number games like Savage Worlds.

Stats-  Your stats in this game are called traits which are Agility, Awareness, Stamina, Strength, Intellect, Manipulation, Presence, and Willpower.  When you build a character, you get 24 points to buy your traits at a one for one basis. All of them start at one and none can be greater than six at character generation.  When you use your traits, you take the trait minus three to determine the modifier you get for your rolls. Also, for every three points in a trait, you can buy a talent for another three points.  Think of talents like feats in DnD-they give you bonuses and abilities that normally you would not have and you have to take them as you grow in power. This game is classless, so these are ways to build to something you want to be in the world.  You can also spend points on background abilities like your caste, the ability to access blood magic, or to even not be completely human. All of these things act like feats as well with character buying new ranks in blood magic, different background abilities, and new abilities if you are a half-breed.

Blood Magic- Magic in this game looks more ritual based than the snappy magic of DnD.  The quick start guide presents Blood Rituals where a character can sacrifice a creature to gain a bonus or a boon.  These boons provide different powers and abilities that a character can use in the next 12 hours ranging from a simple reroll to gaining different talents.  The skills for blood magic are gained during character generation and bought using a character’s trait pool.

Skills– Your skills in this game are called abilities.  You start the game with 24 ability points that you spend on a 1 for 1 basis.  Your skills start at below 0, then 0, and finally you can spend points up to 3, so 3 ranks in a skill costs you 4 ability points.  The modifier is -3 for no ranks, then 0 for 0, and up to +3 for 3 ranks. Unlike games like Pathfinder and DnD, some abilities are tied to multiple traits, so a character might be doing an Athletics roll, but use Stamina instead of Strength if the character was testing their endurance instead of testing their physical prowess.

Combat and Initiative-Combat runs how you would expect, with a few differences.  Players roll a d12 and add their agility talent as normal for rolling for initiative.  Then on a character’s turn, a character chooses one action that can range from attacks, reacting to attacks, or simply moving.  The standard value of 7 is used for attacks unless a character took an action to change it or react with a character adding their Strength or Agility trait and their weapon skill to the attack roll.  If the attacker hits, then the attacker rolls damage with damage dice ranging from a d4 to a d12, the hit character reduces the damage by their armor value, and then the turn moves to the next character.  Characters have conditions depending on their hit point total with the more banged up a character is, the character gains more penalties to their rolls.

Health and Sanity-  The game has some simple rules for character generation of hit points and sanity.  Characters have health points that are determined by rolling a d12 for each Stamina Trait.  This game also has some slight Lovecraft elements as characters will encounter horrors beyond time and space surviving in their new home.  A character’s sanity points are determined by rolling a d12 for each Willpower point their have. When a character encounters a horror they roll a d12 and add their Willpower modifier aiming for a number depending on the creature.  If they fail, they lose sanity points. Sanity point loss has penalties associated with it just like health point loss as the character will gain madness conditions. Sanity can be regained through time and rest just like health points.

Character Advancement-  Characters advance in a few ways.  First, the normal experience points are gained.  Characters spend these to advance traits and abilities according a table in the book.  Characters can also advance in Wastah and Enlightenment. Enlightenment is how a character understands the Void and the cosmos as a whole, kind of like getting the rule book to the universe.  As a character becomes more enlightened, they might gain new abilities, attributes, and talents. Wastah is much more simple-it’s a character’s social rank. As you adventure, you gain prestige that makes you more important.  The caste system in this world is rigid, but if you save the leadership of the city enough times, then even the lowliest street rat might become something impressive with ranks unlocking new patrons, facilities, funding, or a whole host of other options.

Ok, that’s how to play.  Now what do I think!

Theme or Fluff-This is honestly the high point of the book.  You feel like you’re in the City of Brass with powerful elemental lords using humans as playthings.  It’s pre-Islam middle eastern fantasy with bits of Lovecraft thrown in. I don’t see enough middle eastern themes in fantasy aside from fantasy Egypt, so this is a good welcome change!  I like the work this book builds as the characters scrabble to survive in a supernatural world full of horrors post magic apocalypse on Earth. That is all good! Better, none of this feels racist.  It’s easy to just make some stereotypes and run with that as a game. This book feels like it’s trying to make the world stand out and be much more than some simple stereotypes with new races and creatures that rule the eternal city.  That makes this an even better place to play instead of just a blatant copy of folklore. 5/5

Mechanics or Crunch-This game has novel mechanics that I like, but there are a few things that catch my attention.  The d12 based system is something unique that I really like. I don’t see that die used too much, and it takes center stage here.  The bonuses are something that catch my attention. They seem somewhat inconsistent with trait rolls being the trait minus three while ability rolls are -3 for no ranks but one rank is considered a zero in the skill and all other ranks result in continued bonuses, so four ranks is a +3.  That’s not horrible, it’s makes sense from a numbers perspective to make the math of a d12 only system work, but the flow feels off. If you play, it’s going to work. But, it’s a slight barrier to entry. My other major issue is the combat action economy. One day I will learn to just stop being angry about being able to move or attack in a turn, but not today!  Again, it makes sense from a system perspective, but I never feel right only being able to run up to take a hit to the face. It will emphasize the role ranged combat plays. The thing I do like is the amount of tables the game has. As you go crazy, critically hit an enemy, or simply screw up an attack, you roll on tables. Random event tables are always a great way to throw fun into a system and it takes pressure off the GM to always come up with fair, random events that the players experience when stuff goes really well or really badly.  Overall, it’s a good system that I personally have a few issues with, but you may absolutely enjoy. 4/5

Execution– The book is laid out well, but I have a few minor issues.  Tables interrupt the text, and that is good because it reduces eye strain, but the text begins above the table in the next column, instead of the same column below the text.  I don’t know why, but I kept trying to read below the column and getting mixed up. This isn’t always consistent and might be changed in the final book. It’s not a big thing, but it threw me.  I’d like the text a bit larger and maybe the gray background of the book doesn’t make the black text pop as much. Minor problems, but some things I noticed. But, the book does have nice art that interrupts the text to keep me engaged, and the rules are written well enough that I can easily read what is going on and get running the game quickly.  Also, as a guy who reads tables for a living, the tables are well laid out and make me not hate reading. 4.5/5

Summary-This looks like a fun game that I have a few minor reservations with.  I love the setting. This is fantasy middle east, but not simply a copy/paste of some folklore.  It has its own unique spin that I really want to see played out, and the world here is honestly the largest draw to this book.  The system works well, but I have a few minor gripes. I want to play the d12 based system some more, and once I get past my walk-or-attack aversion, I think I will enjoy this a lot more.  The book is done well, but a little more consistency in the layout and possibly a slight change in background color might help. Even with those slight issues, this book looks good. I know I’m in.  Its 400+ pages of a whole new novel RPG PDF for about $12 bucks. Thanks a great value for something that is whole cloth new. Some established RPG books charge that much for 30 page supplement. And this thing is scheduled to come out in September of this year, meaning this thing is probably done already.  So, I’m in! I can’t wait to read this new setting with a new system from a new creator. Go give this one a look. 90%

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Ring Side Report- Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules

Product– Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules

System-Savage Worlds

Producer– Pinnacle Entertainment

Price– $9.99 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/92743/Savage-Worlds-Deluxe?term=savage+worlds+delu&test_epoch=0?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Super Swingy, but super fun! 97%

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Basics-Wanna do…. Anything?  Savage Worlds is a generic RPG that isn’t tethered to any one world or system.  It’s so untethered to any setting that the first few pages of the book are all the different worlds the Pinnacle Entertainment and others offer.  Let’s dive into this game and see what’s there.

Base Mechanics- Here is where the fun begins.  Savage Worlds uses a dice chain.  When you want to do a thing that needs a roll, you roll your skill die and aim for a 4 after modifier.  That’s pretty much it. Hit 4 and the thing happens. Every 4 above 4 is a raise and does something awesome.  Sometimes damage, sometimes extra effects, but it’s always something good.  If you hit the max number on a die, then got an ace, and you roll the dice again adding to the total.  Ace again? Keep going! Like I said above, this system is super swingy, but fun.

Stats-Your skills and attribute dice are decided at character generation.  Your attribute are Agility, Smarts, Strength, Spirit, Vigor. These are dice ranging from a d4 to a d12.  Most humans have a d6 in every attribute. When you build a character you get dice for a skill, but the skill advancement is tied to each attribute and advancing past an attribute dice cost a lot more than normal.  If you ever don’t have the skill that you want to use, you roll a d4-2 still trying to hit the 4, so hope for the ace!

Wild cards and Extras-Extras are random background people from the mook attacking the bar to the faceless ninjas that you mow down in wave after wave.  Wild cards are special character ranging from your player character to the big bad evil guy. Wild cards get an extra die to all rolls called the wild die that is a d6.  You roll this for attacks and skills, even if you are untrained!

Edges and Hindrances-Something I miss from light systems are feats.  Savage Worlds has edges and hindrances. At character generation you get hindrances that flesh out your character as well as bonuses called edges that give you extra little abilities from being able to hit harder bare handed or bonuses on some skill rolls.

Combat and Initiative-Savage Worlds has roots in some crazy RPGs and none comes out more that initiative.  Players don’t roll, but get cards from a deck of playing cards with the Jokers left in.  High card and suit (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and finally Clubs). Jokers do crazy things to the person who draws them and then after the round the initiative deck is reshuffled.  Each round you get to move a bit and do one action. Actions range from shooting people to doing a skill. Melee attacks means you have to hit the opponents parry value. Ranged attacks have to hit a 4.  In either case rases add an additional 1d6 of damage to the target. If you hit you then roll damage equal to your weapon value. If the damage value equals an enemies toughness (2 + half the opponents vigor die), then the opponent is shaken.  Shaken means your do nothing next turn except try to shake off the hit via a Spirit roll (4 to shake it off, 8 to act normally). If you get a raise on the toughness, than the enemy takes a wound. Wild Cards have three wounds before a fourth kills them, but extras only have one before they are down!

Bennies-Oh story candy!  I love you! Bennies are chips you get to reroll dice, immediately shake of being shaken, and whatever you convince your GM that you can do.  The GM gets a pile as well! Act like your character would? Story Candy. Do something cool? Story Candy. Buy the GM a coke? STORY CANDY!

Character Generation-  A big theme in savage worlds is rules light, and Savage Worlds is really light when it comes to character generation.  Characters are made by doing a number of small steps. When you build a character you start by choosing a race, which may give you additional starting abilities with humans getting one extra edge, then you get point to buy new attribute dice, going up one level on the dice chain for each point, points to get and advance skills , one for one as before, move to selecting edges, then you can select to get extra hiderence to get more points for skills and edges, and finally you get gear based on the campaign you’re playing.  DONE. The hardest part is selecting what gear and edges you will chose.

Leveling up or Advancement-Every good game needs XP, and this one give xp at the end of each session. For every five xp, a character can get a new edge, advance attribute dice, raise one skill above an attribute, raise two skills with values under a linked attribute, or get a d4 in a new skill.  For every 20 XP a character enters a new rank that give access to new edges.

Magic, machines, and maham- Savage Words is system agnostic, so magic and powers a built in but not essential.  Characters can get powers via different routes from the gods, reading books, or simply building a crazy lightning boxes from technology.  All power work the same as they start with getting an edge. The powers have a rank you can get them at, a cost in power point (think magic points from Final Fantasy), and some skills you have to roll to make them happen, if needed for things like attacks.  It feels like old schoo video game!

Ok, enough background, what are my thoughts.

Theme or Fluff-No fluff for this one.  Each world needs its own fruff.  There is awesome stuff here from the Rippers universe where people fight monsters in a Victorian setting with magic, monstrous power of their own, and machines to Solomon Kain fighting monsters across the world.  It’s all fun, but Savage Worlds is anything you want it to be. You give the biggest thing in the world to d12+2 for his or her thing, and then you set the smallest or weakest thing at d4-2 for their thing, and scale accordingly.  You can do Savage Hacks for literally anything from Shadowrun to DnD. If you like the math above, see if your favorite system or setting has a Savage Hack out there, or go make one! -/5

Mechanics or Crunch– Holy cow is this thing swingy!  That’s not a bad thing, but it is a thing.  If you need careful balance where expected results always happen, WALK AWAY NOW!  But if you love you some pulp craziness, then get into this game. Its light and fast.  I play with no miniatures, but many people love miniatures. I just love the math here. It goes fast and plays quick.  The one thing I don’t like is how little the attributes matter. They are important for some things like Spirit rolls and determining toughness, but overall they feel slightly left aside.  As this is mostly a skills game, its ok, but I always hate when games have attributes, but don’t really use them as much as say Dungeons and Dragons. It’s not bad, but it’s something that sticks in my craw.  If you can ignore that one complaint I have, then Savage Worlds is a swingy, amazing system! 4.9/5

Execution– Is this available in PDF since its past 2015?  Check. Hyperlinked to make my life easy? Check.  Overall, I love how the book looks. I’d like a bit more walkthrough on a few things, but once you work through the rules it’s easy enough.  Also, I’d like a bit more tables to break up some of the text for things like spells. It’s a well done book that you can skim through in an afternoon without an advanced degree or major eye strain.  4.8/5

Summary-I am a convert!  I love lots of different systems, but Savage Worlds is one that always seemed off in the corner where the weird kids hang out.  It’s a smaller system, but its got a big cult following, almost like The Evil Dead. And I think that that’s a good way to look at this system.  If you want your standard fantasy where predictable thing happen at predictable time scales, then this isn’t for you. It’s not bad, but it’s not for you.  If you want a faster pace with some crazy stuff happening like a player who is the town poopscooper getting five aces in a row and triple critting the big bad evil guy on the first turn, then this is the game for you.  The system is slick, fast, and low crunch. The book is well put together and reads quickly and enjoyably. That’s everything I want in an RPG, and a system I can’t wait to get back into. 97%

Ring Side Report- Dice Review of Q-Workshop Pathfinder Ruins of Azlant Dice Set

Originally posted atwww.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

 

Product– Pathfinder Ruins of Azlant Dice Set

Producer– Q-Workshop

Price– $13.00 here https://www.amazon.com/Q-Workshop-Pathfinder-Ruins-Azlant-Board/dp/B074XCZTM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523157540&sr=8-1&keywords=azlant+dice

 

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TL; DR-I got free dice that my wife loves so much I’m going to buy more!  93%

Basics-Long forgotten lore is appearing across Golarion and you need a nice dice set to face it!  Q-Workshop bring you a new set of dice tailor made for your next Pathfinder game. Let’s take a look at what I think.

Quality-Q-Workshop knows how to make some higher end dice!  These are not a top of the line $50 dice set, but let’s be honest, almost no dice are worth that much unless they are blessed by Gygax himself!  What is here is an amazingly well produced dice set. They feel good to roll, are about the right size, and are a decent cost for what you get. These will cost you a bit more, since they are custom made for the Ruins of Azlant adventure path, but a standard dice set costs $8-$9, and this set retails for about $13.  I would like these dice to be a bit larger as well. I like a bit more heft to my dice, but this isn’t a major problem. Overall, these are a well produced dice set. 4/5

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Readability– Ed’s getting old, and if I can’t read a dice face from across the table, that dice goes away in the Royal Crown bags in the depths of my basement.  These faces pop! It’s a nice blue base with a bright yellow color to the faces. I can see what I rolled from three feet away, and that makes me happy!  5/5

Style– The dice faces have more on them than the simple numbers.  I really like the little extra bits and the symbol on the high dice face of each die.  It all looks beautiful and makes me want to use these dice. You’re paying for a bit more for some pretty art, and it does feel like it comes out in the designs.   5/5

Summary-We all start with a simple set of dice.  Basic numbers on a set that get the job done.  Those dice are fine. But, there is NEVER enough dice, and when you can play an adventure path with dice made for that adventure path, it feels amazing!  This is a great set of dice that looks awesome, feels great at the table, and won’t be an eye strain. If you want to be the best looking roller at your Azlant game, this is the place to start.  93%

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Extra items- Q-Workshop sent along a few other goodies for me to look over.  One of them is my personal favorite. They sent me a dice that show off all their different designs on d6s.  THIS IS AMAZING! All the different faces look cool, and if you see your new favorite dice design, check out Q-Workshops page and different designs.  Q-Workshop if you are listening, this may be a great thing to consider selling….

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They also sent me my wife’s favorite thing-they catalog of dice!  They produce dice for many different systems. What’s awesome here is the sheer variety of different dice and systems they support.  Want to bling out your Arkham Horror game with bless and curse dice? They have them! I don’t know what Polaris is, but I know I’m buying a set and going to get a copy of the game to read about it!  My wife loved the different Pathfinder dice and was picking out new dice as I wrote this review. If you want to check out all the different Q-Workshop dice they sell you can go directly to https://q-workshop.com/en/ I know I’m going to be spending a bit more money to get a few different dice sets.  And bonus, all the things I said above that I can read the dice from far away, they look pretty, and they are a great value look like they apply to all the different dice they sell on the site as well!

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Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends

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

Product– Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends

System-Starfinder

Producer– Fat Goblin Games

Price– $6.95 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/222888/Close-Encounters-Hyperspace-Fiends?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Horrors from the low planes in the upper skies! 98%

Basics-Where we’re going, you don’t need eyes to see!  Close Encounters: Hypersapce Fiends is a new book in a series bringing old fiendish monsters and things from Pathfinder into space with Starfinder.  This book bring demons and devils into space, TOGETHER! Turns out hell and the abyss collapsed into one horrible thing and now they’ve joined a tag team battle against the universe, if they can stop knifing themselves in the back!

Theme or Fluff– The base Starfinder game is devil and demon poor, but this book brings all your classics back, and their stats feel like they should.  There are even some crazy fiendish effects on magic, some ships that are stated out, and some environments traps that can affect your players should they enter the lower plane.  There is also story to backup why these two age old enemies are working together to kill everyone. Overall, I like what I’m seeing here as it’s a great way to bring back some fun Pathfinder elements to your Starfinder game.  5/5

Mechanics or Crunch– All the crunch is right.  The CR are good and the monsters hit the places they did in Pathfinder with basic updates of the mechanics to fit the slight changes between the systems. I love what’s here, and it’s going to fit mechanically well into any game where the GM would like to put a Technomancer in Hell.  5/5

Execution– Is this available in PDF since its past 2015?  Check. Is it hyperlinked even though its less than 40 pages?  Check. Ok we’ve hit all the basics to make me happy. Now the extras!  This book has lots a art with the creatures looking like the demons you’re used to but with a Starfinder art twist.  There are demon/devil ships, but I would like a few more and some close up art of them. The art for the ships isn’t bad but its only one picture of the two new ships. The book even includes the rough seeds on an adventure from levels 1 to 20.  Also, my favorite devils the low level lemure isn’t in the book, so that makes me a little sad. Finally the price is a tad high as its about $7 for a 30 page PDF. These are by no means going to keep me away, but it’s something to note. 4.75/5

Summary-Fat Goblin was one of the first on the scene making Starfinder Compatible products and they have really demonstrated what you can do as a third party publisher.  Its some fantastic material. I love putting demons and devils in my game and now I can easily do so. This is only GM book. It’s fun, but honestly players need not apply as there are no player specific material here.  GMs get fun new toys and things to inflict on their players. It’s not perfect with a few minor things like price and some minor monsters being left out, but in total, this is a great resources if you want to put some horrible demons and devils into your game. 98%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Alien Evolution: Cosmic Race Guide

 

Product– Alien Evolution: Cosmic Race Guide

System-Starfinder

Producer– Fat Goblin Games

Price– $3.95 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/223749/Alien-Evolution-Cosmic-Race-Guidebook?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Jack Kirby does Starfinder! 96%

Basics-Tired of just the core races already?  Need some more classic 70’s ancient aliens artwork?  Then I’ve got a book for you!  The Cosmic Race Guide has an impressive amount of new species to plop into any Starfinder game.

Mechanics or Crunch-Starfinder, when it launched, didn’t have a lot of races.  None of what was there was bad, but it was a limited picking.  This book opens up the floodgates.  Nothing here is all that crazy.  The races do follow a pretty predictable formula, but its not a bad formula as everything is balanced.  I would have liked a few racial feats for each race.  But, there are over 10 new races here, so It’s a great place to look for an impressive assortment of new races for any space game.  4.75/5

Theme or Fluff– Here is where the book shines.  Every page of this book feels like Jack Kirby wrote it as the art is completely New Gods or crazy space Thor 3 on every page.  Everything feels right.  You get a full color art picture of each race and its homeworld.  The art mixed with the flavor of the races just belongs.  Starfinder is already a mix of magic, machine, and the future, so adding the proper amount of crazy Kirby makes me extremely happy.  5/5

Execution– I am really pleased with this book.  First and foremost, it’s a hyperlinked PDF.  Next, the art is great.  I would have liked more, but it’s enough to break up any monotony.  The layout isn’t cluttered.  My one grip is the price.  It’s a tad high, but if you want a ton of new races, this is the book you need.  It’s a well put together book that’s fun to thumb through till you find your favorite race and dig in. 4.5/5

Summary-I really like this product.  I read this book the week after seeing Thor 3 in theaters, and it feels like an honest extension of the movie.  You get Kirby, you get aliens, and you get your magic.  Starfinder feels like the 70’s comic vibe will fit better than any serious game play as you have the elements of more space opera than space drama built right in, and this book takes that banner and runs hard with that idea.  I wouldn’t consider this the most serious book.  This isn’t Lord of the Rings, but it is an amazing romp in the galaxy showing you all the crazy kids at the cantina while giving you the rules to play each of them in turn.  Get this book, crank your Flash Gordon soundtrack, and find your next favorite character to play in the galaxy.  96%