Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Sinking the Stercorarius, The Salty Funnel 0 Level Adventure

Product– Sinking the Stercorarius, The Salty Funnel 0 Level Adventure

System- DCC RPG

Producer– 2 Old Guys Games

Price– $10.00 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/318718/Sinking-the-Stercorarius-The-Salty-Funnel-0-Level-Adventure?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR–  Another great funnel, but now at sea!  93%

Basics– SOMETHING TOUCHED MY LEG!  Your band of rag tag….honestly level zero losers has to survive a ship flooding but wait!  There is a mysterious island on the horizon.  What could be there?  Time for another level zero funnel!  No spoilers for the fun secrets of why the ship sank or what’s to be found on the island in this review.

Mechanics or Crunch-I love the crunch of the DCC level zero.  Lots of death whittles characters away until you get a character with its mettle tested.  This adventure is no exception as characters die on ship, in the water, and on the mysterious island.  Not only that; there is a ton of new content, from crazy weapons to new toys for the players and Judge.  This adventure has a ton of new material that any DCC fan will love. 5/5

Theme or Fluff-This story is a fun one, but has a bit of trouble with the final touchdown.  The story is great up to the point of why you explore the island.  The basics are to get off the ship and survive.  From there the adventure is basically up to the GM.  The players are not given a goal aside from what the Judge gives them.  The adventure gives you tools to make it happen, but it’s up to you.  The judge given free reign isn’t bad, but I would like a bit more direction for the judge.   4.5/5

Execution–  PDF?  YEP!  Hyperlinked? Yes! This is solidly DCC.  The art, the layout, and the text are all great DCC standards.  This is exactly what I want from a DCC module.  My one complaint is I wish this would be the retail price.  I did the kickstarter for $10 which came with the extra materials.  This doesn’t come with the extra stuff, so the price is a tad high for what you get.  Overall, a solidly produced adventure for DCC RPG.    4.5/5

Summary-Yar!  Time for a funnel at sea!  I like this funnel.  There are never enough funnels, so more is always better.  This stands out by providing a lot of fun toys for the Judge and players to have after the adventure as well as a fun location to play in.  It’s a bit pricey for what you get and it is a tad open ended without a clear goal for me, but those small things aside, it’s a great adventure.  If you need a funnel that your players have not seen, this is a solid new adventure they will enjoy.  93%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Star Crawl

Product– Star Crawl

System- DCC RPG

Producer– Tuesday Night Fiend Club

Price– $10.00 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/254637/Star-Crawl?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– DCC Starfinder!  88%

Basics– Need some space in your DCC RPG?  Want to play Starfinder and DCC?  Then Star Crawl is for you.  Let’s see what the new things are from DCC RPG.

Basics-Can you play DCC RPG?  Then you can play this.  Honestly that’s the big mechanics of this.  Seriously!  That’s not a bad thing.

Races-  Star Crawl introduces race templates.  You choose a race template that you add to a character at level 1 or 0.  It’s a few ability changes and a few extra abilities.  Nothing too crazy, but some solid additional crunch to the system.

Space ships-  You can’t have space opera without space ships.  This system adds in space much like Starfinder.  Basically, pilot checks determine who goes from low to high as you outmaneuver other ships.  It’s simple to keep in the flavor of DCCRPG.

This is’t a complete change so much as an incremental change.  Let’s look at my thoughts on this.

Mechanics or Crunch-This is both the high point and the low point of the book.  Why high?  The new stuff is great!  I love what’s here. Solid new classes.  Solid application of the basic ideas of DCC RPG.  Solid new races.  Everything here is great.  Why low?  It didn’t feel like enough. I want more spaceships.  I want  more space options.  It’s kind of a short book.  It was great, but I was just left wishing for more to help me build my space world. 

4.25/5

Theme or Fluff-I was looking for some Star Wars DCC RPG, and this delivers.  You get new settings to play, and the fluff to get there.  What I do need more of is world building.  It’s a solid intro book with the basic ideas of the universe, but I need more.  The included adventure builds that out, but I would have liked a bit more history, background, and details to draw me in and help me make it my own.  4.5/5

Execution–  PDF?  YEP!  Hyperlinked?  no…I can live without the hyperlinks, but they help, especially for an intro book.  The rest of the book is well done.  The art is simple, but charming.  The layout works well.  It reads easily, and is approachable.  Overall, this is a solid book, but I still want a few more tech toys.  4.5/5

Summary– My players and I are chomping at the bit to get into this.  I like this book and world.  The mechanics are good, but I need more toys for the sandbox.  The world is solid, but needs more to help me build and expand.  All in all,  for a small publisher, this is an amazing book that I really recommend to anyone who needs a bit more scifi in their fantasy.  If you want some space fun, throw your DCC RPG players into this space opera. 88%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Trail of Cthulhu

Product– Trail of Cthulhu

System- Gumshoe

Producer– Pelgrane Press

Price– $24.99 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/55567/Trail-of-Cthulhu?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– Do you think Call of Cthulhu has too much Crunch?  88%

Basics– Should the story stop when the players just suck at rolling?  Trail of Cthulhu believes that story trumps mechanics as story should drive the game.  Let’s look at the pieces.

Overview-Trail of Cthulhu is a skill system like Call of Cthulhu, but unlike Call of Cthulhu you have two types of skills: investigative and general.  General covers any contested rolls and investigative covers learning the horrors of the mystery.  Let’s break that down.

Investigative Skills-  You enter a room, ask to search the library for secret books, and you find all secret books.  If you have ranks in the appropriate skills, you find all the books.  That’s it.  If you couldn’t find the books, the story might stop.  Trail of Cthulhu focuses more on you learning the mystery and less on you flubbing rolls to learn the mystery.  You build these skills with points like ranks, but those points are spent to learn more, not just enough.  Characters with even one rank would find all the books, then can spend points to learn more, like find the right places in the hidden books to skip something horrible or learn more secrets beyond the base mystery.

General Skills-  Punch a guy, out run a monster, and hide from the cultists are all opposed rolls where the story isn’t the issue, so they become general skills.  This system uses ONE d6.  That’s it.  You want to to a thing? Roll a d6 and aim for a 4.  Before you roll, you can spend points from the pool to add to the roll.  Some skills give you more damage or more hit points or sanity, but for the most part opposed rolls happen with skills or trying to do a thing that isn’t dependent on the story happening at all.

Honestly, that’s it.  There is sanity and HP, but for the most part the two types of rolls define the system.  Let’s see my thoughts.

Mechanics or Crunch-I like crunch (heck I build point based Shadowrun characters for fun!), but for the most part, this is a quick, light system.  My more roll-happy friends freak out when we play as they NEED to roll to search, but the option to make story happen as the goal is a good one.  If you just want a game that happens fast without a ton of hassle because you didn’t spec into the right build at level 4 to cast the one spell to put the deepone to sleep, but you will want a horror game then this is the crunch for you.    4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– This game is put out by the premier Lovecraft people in the industry.  They know their stuff.  It feels right, but it also feels like Indiana Jones as they build Pulp and straight Lovecraft versions of the rules into it.  If you want to punch the ghoul, then this can be your game, or if you want to go mad at the sight of a corpse, then this can also be your game.  The book builds out a full world in a quick way to help new GMs get running right away.  5/5

Execution–  PDF?  YEP!  Hyperlinked?  YES!  I have the two big things I want, but why am I not happy?  Well… RPG books can be built one of two ways: mechanics first or theme first.  This goes character build first.  I don’t know what ANY of the math means until WAY far into this book.  When I googled it it made perfect sense, and then 20 pages later I saw the explanation.  That is not good.  I like the world that is built with the book, but it’s a pain to read; a three column design isn’t great. This book is modern, but some of the design decisions are just a bit off.  3.75/5

Summary– Slick and simple.  This game is a fun one regardless of the book design.  I like the game this makes.  The solid focus on story first is nice.  I would like a bit more crunch, but  simple is fun sometimes.  The story and theme of the book are top notch.  The execution isn’t.  If you want a game that starts quick and plays quick but still has great Lovecraftian horror, then Trail of Cthulhu is worth checking out. 88%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Pip System Corebook

Product– Pip System Corebook

System- Pip System

Producer– Third Eye Games

Price– $14.99 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/216645/Pip-System-Coreboo?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– The Cypher system and Shadowrun had a baby! 93%

Basics– What do you want to play?  The Pip system book is a generic system book that focuses on the mechanics of the pip system and all the different worlds you can play in.  Let’s dig in.

Basics-This is SOLIDLY a skill based system.  Everything you do is based on how many skill dice you have and EVERYTHING is a d6.  Basically you take however many ranks you have in a skill plus your quality ranks (think specializations that may count for some activities) and roll that many six sided dice, counting 4s, 5s, and 6s as successes.  These are called your white dice.  Then you or the GG (game guide, the GM for this system) roll a number of dice equal to the challenge rating of whatever you’re up against and counts 4s, 5s, and 6s.  These are the black dice  If you get more white successes than black, you succeed.

Combat, AC, and the rest-  We don’t really do that here.  You have hit points, but as a skill system you basically tell the GM how it goes down.  You just dodge the hit, then you roll athletics to dodge, but you might say I roll stealth to hide and avoid or survive to get out of the way into cover.  You succeed on the dodge, you don’t take the hit.  You attack with different traits as well,and damage is just difference in hits if you succeed on the attack.

Gear and Character Building-  Character building is quick too.  You choose a basic archetype that gives you some mental and physical hit points, basic starting skills, an ability, and a hindrance to roleplay.  Then you spend build points buying skills, quality ranks (specializations in a part of a skill), and advanced qualities (feats you have to meet prerequisites for).  Gear is the same way. You spend other build points buying different gear.  It’s all generic to help you build a character for any setting that you might want to pay.

Fortune-  Magic cheaty points!  Fortune is how you can control your rolls.  Everyone wants rerolls, HP, and other things so you can control the action a bit, and Fortune is that thing.  Roleplay well, do cool things, and play nice and you get fortune tokens.

Ok, what do I think of all this?

Mechanics or Crunch– For the crunch here, you have to ask yourself one of two very important questions-”Do I like the cypher system, but want a tad more crunch?” or “Do I like Shadowrun but could use a bit more speed?”.  If yes, you will love this.  It’s a simple system where you make lots of choices and control a lot without having too many rules in the way.  That also means that players can have a HORRIBLE time if the GG and they just don’t work well, so it’s got that OSR vibe of the system flexes a lot for fun, but your GM can ruin your experience.  Overall, the base mechanic running EVERYTHING is amazing to me.  You do need to coordinate with your GG to make sure your awesome character isn’t completely built against what he/she is thinking so your game time won’t be an issue.  Solid quick mechanics make this a good system to learn and get into.    4.75/5

Theme or Fluff– It’s always hard to review a generic system without a world.  There are some splashes of places to play, but mostly this book is how to play and check out the other stuff we got for specific places to play.  It’s got good intros so I like what I see.  The book does go a bit more fantasy than modern or future, even though it supports everything.  Good intro to a gateway to several new worlds.  4.5/5

Execution–  PDF?  YEP!  Hyperlinked?  YES!  Solid execution here, but a few issues that hurt it a bit.  Text is easy to read.  Pictures break up the flow, and I like a lot of the toys on offer.  However, I would like a few more examples of actual play.  Tell me how numbers happen.  That’s the big issue here.  It’s a generic system, so as the GG I need more guidance on what to throw at my players and how my players make the dice pools.  Overall, it’s decent, but if it were to provide a bit more walkthrough of a game and a combat scene, I would love this more.  4.75/5

Summary– Well, I’m in.  This is a fun system that I can get my players running in about 10 minutes after they select pregens or 20 minutes if they have to build people.  It’s quick, easy, and negotiable.  Players have control, but with all negotiable systems, dialogue will be key.  Make sure everyone is on the same page, and players will enjoy this game.  I like Sci-fi, so I want a bit more of that in the base book.  But, what’s here is good.  As for the physical build of the book, it’s done well.  I still need more examples, but I think I can run my first game well enough.  I like what I’ve found in this one.  If you want some quick d6 gaming in any universe, this is worth a look.  93%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Hellboy: The Roleplaying Game

Product– Hellboy: the RolePlaying Game

System- Dungeons and Dragons 5e

Producer– Mantic Games

Price– FREE here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/324717/Hellboy-The-Roleplaying-Game-Quickstart?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– WORTH IT! 100%

Basics– GONNA BE SORE IN THE MORNING!  Hellboy jumps from three movies and multiple comics into an RPG.  This kickstarter is for a Dungeons and Dragons 5e expansion featuring the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence.  Is this a cash grab or something full of soul?

Mechanics or Crunch– This is 5e, which is good, but it’s so much more.  This game has the standard 5e mechanics but adds its own touches like new ways to heal in a fight as well as doom and ingenuity.  These are new pools that are like inspiration or hero points, but a full new system that makes this feel like the comics.  Players roll an extra d10 with 1s earning doom points, points for the GM to hurt/mess with players, and 10s earning ingenuity, points for the players to play with.  It feels pulpy and something that honestly DMs might steal for other games they run that need a comic feel.  It’s easy to slap a coat of paint on a fighter and be done, but honestly this book does a lot more to make the game its own.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– This isn’t a full product, but the adventure and the overall pieces makes me think Hellboy.  Sure I know where the pictures come from as there isn’t a ton of new art, but who cares.  I like the pieces here and think that this feels right in the Hellboy world.  Heck there is a full free adventure that feels like a BPRD comic.  Solid world building here.  5/5

Execution–  PDF?  YEP!  Hyperlinked?  YES!  The big boys of the RPG world can’t even pull that off and this FREE PRODUCT comes out swinging with solid text design and flow, good execution of its pieces, and a great explanation of how to play 5e that even the base 5e book might have trouble matching while giving me new toys to play with.  I would like a bit more pictures to break up text, but if this is the full book, I’ll be happy.  5/5

Summary-I love the Hellboy comics, the hellboy movies (yes even the latest one), and I love DnD 5e.  This is a no brainer for me.  Solid old and new mechanics, solid world building and theme,and solid execution of a PDF make this something you should get NOW. Heck, even if you don’t want to pay THIS IS FREE!  The base buy-in of the RPG is about 14 bucks, and I honestly expect that from MUCH smaller companies for MUCH less.  Check this one out!  100%