Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-02: Mountain of Sea and Sky

Product– Pathfinder Society Scenario #2-02: Mountain of Sea and Sky

System- Pathfinder

Producer– Paizo

Price– $5.99 here https://paizo.com/products/btq024wz?Pathfinder-Society-Scenario-202-Mountain-of-Sea-and-Sky 

TL; DR-A better first scenario! 98%

Basics–  Pathfinder!  The Society calls!  A new lodge is being built and new agents are needed to help with getting the area settled. You won’t be wielding a hammer.  The land needs to be purified and the locals may help or hurt if you make enough friends.  An intro adventure for levels 3 to 6.

Mechanics or Crunch-I love the crunch here.  There are a ton of fights, but none drag on.  Also, there are multiple things like social encounters, exploration, and some solid fights as well.  Heck there is even a hard boss fight, but like all good RPGs, if you play smart and make friends, life is easier.  This feels like a great introduction to the system and world, even better than 2-01.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– Story, combat, exploration, and social-all parts of a solid whole that make a fun adventure.  When I run this I have a blast and so do my players.  Nothing drags; there is always time left but you leave feeling full.  More adventures like this are needed to pull new pathfinders into the fold.  5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  Yes.  Good layout, handout, and all the other basics make this a solid adventure.  The only thing I don’t like are the maps that are marked up so I have to buy the other map somewhere else.  That always feels cash grabby, but that is the only bad thing here.  4.75/5

Summary-I love this adventure.  You get new locations, new characters, and solid fights that make a fun adventure.  It’s balanced well with a fun boss fight and great execution that makes running this a blast.  Would like clean maps, but that is my only problem.  If you want some intro to Pathfinder, you won’t go wrong with this one.  98%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Starfinder Society Scenario #1-16: Dreaming of the Future

Product– Starfinder Society Scenario #1-16: Dreaming of the Future

System- Starfinder

Producer– Paizo

Price– $5.99 here https://paizo.com/products/btpya08w?Starfinder-Society-Scenario-116-Dreaming-of-the-Future 

TL; DR-Good introduction to the world of Starfinder Society.  92%

Basics–  Starfinder!  Society calls!  New Starfinders are needed to help find the pieces of an old tablet that will open a long lost vault in the stars.  This adventure is four short scenes that are all tied together in one adventure.

Mechanics or Crunch-This is a good introductory adventure that has some exploration, combat, space combat, and a bit of social interaction.  The only downside is the pieces may be a bit easy for most players.  Even pregens have an easy go of this one.  But it’s fun nonetheless.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– This adventure is four short adventures that all tie together.  It’s a bit rough between the pieces, but the goal of this one is to be more an intro to the world, Starfinder Society, and the system. It does a solid enough job with a decent story providing the basics of the world and story of it.  4.5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  Yes.  Good layout, handout, and all the other basics make this a solid adventure.  The pieces I don’t like are the maps that you have to buy because the maps are marked up.  I understand why, but it’s still annoying.  That’s the worst part of the execution, so that is not bad at all.  4.75/5

Summary-. Dreaming of the Future is a solid introduction with a few rough parts.  The rough parts are all due to the episodic nature of this one.  The pieces are short but that helps with new players learning the system.  If you want a fun quick adventure for a new group of Starfinders, you would have a hard time finding a better one than this one.  92%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Vanguard

Product– Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20: Operation Vanguard

System- Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20

Producer– Modiphius

Price– $6.99 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/355128/Achtung-Cthulhu-2d20-Operation-Vanguard?affiliate_id=658618 

TL; DR– Almost perfect but not what I wanted.  97%

Basics–  Time to go, soldier!  You just stopped a Black Sun ritual, so now it’s off to stop more Nazi shenanigans!  What could they be doing off at sea?

Mechanics or Crunch-Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 does almost all the things I want and does them right, and this adventure has that as well.  Solid monsters and encounters lead you through a stealth to destruction mission with lots of fun along the way.  Just well done crunch if you like the 2d20 system.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– The theme/fluff/story is where I have my one major problem.  The story itself is great.  Investigate Nazi base, destroy, stop bad guys-all the fun things players want to do in Pulp Weird War II.  But, this was billed as the sequel to the starter adventure, and it is, but it’s just a second adventure after the first.  They are not connected in any real way.  It doesn’t tell as much of a continuing story aside from “go destroy more weird stuff.”  Go destroy the weird stuff is honestly 90% of A!C 2d20, and that’s why my players and I are here.  But, I wanted the escape from France of the last adventure.  My players LEVELED the castle in the last one as nothing stops evil like 40 TONS of stone to the head.  So my expectations were slightly let down.  If you don’t have the same expectation, you will have a blast.  4.5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  Yes, extremely well done.  I LOVE THIS PRODUCT.  A page with pictures to cut out to give to players for handouts, hyperlinks EVERYWHERE, easy to read, nice stat blocks, and TWO VERSIONS as a less graphics intensive one makes my tablet run better all make me a happy GM.  This is how I want books made.  5/5Summary– Oh A!C 2d20… you make me so happy.  It’s a well done, slick system, and this is a well done slick adventure for it.  I just wish this was more “direct sequence” and less “continuing adventures”, but oh well.  If you don’t have my singular crazy obsession with continuity, then you will absolutely LOVE this book.  From crunch, to story, to just general production, I’m glad to have this one. 97%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Dungeon Crawl Classics #66.5: Doom of the Savage King

Product– Dungeon Crawl Classics #66.5: Doom of the Savage King

System- DCC RPG

Producer– Goodman Games

Price– $6.00 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/129075/Dungeon-Crawl-Classics-665-Doom-of-the-Savage-King?affiliate_id=658618 

TL; DR– Appendix N shoot first ask questions never? 97%

Basics–  Time to kill the unkillable!  Doom of the Savage Kings starts out deep in the action as the players come upon a local lord tying a young woman to a pole to be eaten by a beast to sate its bloodlust.  What happens next is completely up to the “heroes”!  Save the girl?  Serve the Lord?  Either way there is an unkillable beast that needs slaying if the sacrifices are to stop.

Mechanics or Crunch-This is an early one for DCC RPG, and it shows a bit.  The mechanics are fine, but sometimes the Judge may have to tone down the challenge for the players to survive.  Especially mine, as my players never met a situation where certain death deterred them in the slightest!  It works well for higher player counts, but lower ones will need a bit of adjusting.  Doom of the Savage Kings mechanically is an early very deadly, very fun adventure.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff–  This adventure is PURE Appendix N.  Village sacrificing people to save the rest like “The Lottery” and an ancient tomb where weapons will slay not-Grendel?  FANTASTIC!  This adventure is gonzo fantasy that makes DCC DCC.  5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  Yes, basically.  This has what I need to run this adventure.  Maps, quick rundown, and detailed enough encounters.  It reads fast as my initial read through was five minutes before the game and my players had a blast completely abandoning the adventure’s basic path within five minutes.  If you like the basic layout of DCC, then you will like this layout.  Like always, Goodman Games DCC modules read like the old modules you used to get with some art in the middle, maps at the end, and a summary at the start.  Since I’m living an era of gaming I wasn’t part when it came round the first time, it’s a blast to be part of it this time as the editing has massively improved the experience!  5/5

Summary– Doom of the Savage Kings is classic DCC RPG.  It’s a bit harder than it needs to be so maybe some love from a Judge will save the PCs from their bad rolls if not their stupidity.  The book itself is well laid out, and the plot is top notch.  Players will have a blast saving a town, delving into old crypts, and killing the monster stalking the helpless in the fog.  If you need your Boewulf fix but want to do it with some crazy DCCRPG rules, this is hands down a fantastic adventure to get into.  97%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Have You Found It? Act 1:The Jitters

Product– Have You Found It? Act 1:The Jitters

System- Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

Producer– Petersen Games

Price– $25 here https://petersengames.com/cthulhu-mythos/  

TL; DR– Good into to solid DnD Horror! 90%%

Basics–  Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the greatest show in the universe!  Have You Found It? Is a horror adventure path focusing on The King In Yellow himself.  This act, Act 1: The Jitters, is the intro adventure.  Players are in a city like Milan or Paris as a series of murders stirs up political intrigue.  The players are drawn into the adventure to solve the murders but are soon into something much deeper and much darker than your average murder.  This adventure goes from levels 1 to 4.

Mechanics or Crunch-Dungeons and Dragons is a much more heroic fantasy game, but this adventure bends the rules enough to make the horror stand out.  It’s hard to make players feel like there is no hope in a DnD game, but the monsters and scenarios bring enough horror to make the players feel the dread that is needed for the edge of cosmic horror.  This book also has some behind the scenes mechanics that are excellent ways to reinforce why the king in yellow is the unnamed!  Good mechanics take a heroic game and make it a horror one.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff–  The story here is a solid one.  The world builds rather quickly and the players get dragged into something very heavy VERY fast.  That gets the action going, but this is also a level one to four adventure.  Players spend time interviewing people and learning about the world via talking, so there is a lot here for all different character classes and types.  It’s a good mix of combat, exploration, and roleplaying that an intro adventure needs.  Also, by setting this in a city, fragile level one heroes are not decimated instantly as after a battle they can recover somewhere safe.  This is a great intro story to get players into a dark new path.  5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  NO! What’s here is good.  Good layout, good text size, good pictures.  It’s all solid.  What isn’t here is what makes me less happy.  This is a new world and city.  I want a player guide with a town map and background as this can get socially heavy in a hurry.  Also, as a GM I need hyperlinks in my PDF.  It’s a longer book for an adventure and being able to hop around would help me a lot as a GM.  Good execution, but I need a bit more from the digital book. 4/5

Summary– The King in Yellow was never my favorite Cthulhu mythos horror.  This book has brought me around and I think I might give the books where he comes from a chance.  It’s a well crafted story for low level characters that successfully pulls them into the social, combat, and exploration of a new world.  I do want a few more things like help for my players to get into the world and some additions to the electronic book, but the first act of this horror story is inviting enough to draw me into the deeper, darker bits of the full play. 90%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends

Product– Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends

System- Pathfinder 2nd Ed

Producer– Paizo

Price– $18.37 here https://paizo.com/products/btq023gd?Pathfinder-Lost-Omens-Legends 

TL; DR– Almost the best text book it could be.  86%

Basics–  Welcome to the Age of Lost Omens and Golarion!  Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends is the current standing of the world of Golarion and its people.  It updates the setting from Pathfinder 1st ed. to Pathfinder 2nd ed., gives a good overview of the major areas of the Inner Sea, and provides some player options to help players get some mechanical links to the areas of their game.  Let’s look at the pieces of this book.

Mechanics or Crunch-This book has some solid mechanics, but I’d still like a bit more.  What is really surprising is this book has archetypes for each region’s specific known combat enthusiast.  Think of having a Special Forces archetype if you were to do a write up on the US.  That is surprising and enjoyable.  Also there are backgrounds for each area.  Both of those are VERY welcome in the equivalent of a fantasy high school geography book that only the GM might spend a lot of time reading through.  I would like a bit more though.  Give me some ancestry feats that all the people from an area might get.  It doesn’t matter if you are an orc, dwarf, or human, if you come from the cold place of ice and snow, odds are you picked up some cold tolerance! Even some more general feats would be good additions to this book.  What is here is some solid mechanics that you don’t often see in these books, but I would just like a bit more to really drive home that players need this book.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff–  This is another solid area of  this book, but the book needs a bit more to fully round it out.  This book is both too short and too long.  If you read this from cover to cover you will not enjoy it as much as if you just wanted to read about one area quickly.  You wouldn’t read all of wikipedia in one day, but you would drop in to read quickly on an area if you are studying as an example.  This honestly is a fantasy high school geography book as you will get 10-20 pages on an area.  That is a good introduction, but the book needs a bit more like who are the gods and more world building.  Those things are mentioned, but I feel I need more on them.  As a Pathfinder 1st ed. player, I know a lot of that world stuff, but for a new player, they will have to do outside research on who some of the key players are.  I learned a few things that maybe I missed before, and I can see where Paizo is setting up the next 10 years worth of adventure paths in the mix, but I felt like I needed a bit more content to better understand the world if I was an outsider.   4.5/5

Execution– PDF? Yes.  Hyperlinked?  NO! If you buy a college textbook today or even a highschool text on an ipad, it is hyperlinked.  This is getting crazy as this is an over 100 page civics book and I have to scroll around and find random bits I want to read more on.  What is here is good.  If you read in chunks, it reads well enough and is enjoyable.  If you marathon the book in one sitting, then it’s not as much fun as it does feel too long and too short.  Long for its got LOTS of information, but short because I feel like I need some explanation on a few of the players.  The art is good and you get a few headshots of major movers and shakers in the world ,so you can drop them in your game.  The layout is nice in general with enough breaks to make the reader not go crazy staring in a textbook.  I just need a few more additions to really make this an amazing book  4/5

Summary– I have compared this book to a textbook often, and it is a well done textbook.  If you needed to learn what most people in an area would know about the region, this would be a great resource to give the players.  Also, if you like me haven’t read every splatbook or adventure path put out by Paizo in the last 10 years, then this is a good way to get deep into the world quickly.  Now, there is room for improvement.  I need a bit more on the world.  Gods play an incredible role in the setting, and I feel like they don’t get enough exploration in this book.  I also love what’s here mechanically, but I want more.  So, all players, not just who decide to make a hellknight, can lay claim to a heritage from Cheliax.  Also, PAIZO LEARN TO HYPERLINK!  Let me click around your book with ease please.  Most textbooks do it now, and your world textbook needs to as well!  This is a good world book with a few key flaws that keep it from being great.   86%