Ring Side Report- Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box Set

Product– Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box Set

System-Shadowrun 6th Edition

Producer-Catalyst

Price– $30

TL; DR-Strong start to the six edition.  95%%

Basics-What’s old is new again!  Shadowrun celebrates its 30th anniversary with its 6th edition. Let’s dive deep into the new edition and see if its wizzer or hot drek.

base mechanics-attribute + skill, roll that many six sided dice, count 5s and 6s for good, over half 1s is bad.  Same dice pool mechanics you know and love and most likely won’t ever change under the current Shadowrun development team.

So What changed?

Edge– Edge is one of the two MASSIVE differences in 6th Ed.  In 5th Edition, you rerolled dice or rolled extra dice at the start of a pool.  Now, edge is more an ala cart menu where a character choices to reroll extra dice, add successes, or even change the critical glitch range of an opponent.  You can only choose one option each round, but now edge begins to flow a lot more. Gear, items, and even differences in ability between you and your opponent will earn you up to two edge an ACTION.  That means some people with impressive defences being fired at by multiple opponents will earn edge each attack, not each round! So edge is gonna flow quickly.

Combat-Combat keeps the spirit of the previous edition but massive changes to how actions work and the nature of killing each other.  For actions, there are two types of actions: minor and major. Minor are smaller actions like moving while major are your spellcasting and attacking.  This ties into initiative. Initiative is still reaction and initiative plus a d6. A character gets two minor action to start and one more minor action for each d6 beyond the first.  This ties into multiple attacks. Four minor actions can be converted to one major action meaning if you have 3d6 or more dice for initiative, you can make two attacks a round.

In addition, initiative isn’t rerolled nor do we ever remove counts as we go through a round of initiative.  Initiative is just rolled once, play moves from high to low, and goes back to the high. Just like most other RPGs.

Killing People– The bread and butter of Shadowrun is shooting people, and this is still strong in 6th Ed.  When you want to kill somebody, you now compare the attackers attack value (determined by the range of the weapon) vs. the defence value of the target’s armor.  If someone has an advantage of four or more in this comparison, that character earns one edge. In addition, both people may earn edge based on situational modifiers such as darkness and abilities.  The target of the attack rolls a number of d6s equal to the reaction and intuition while the attacker rolls a number of d6s equal to their agility and firearm skill with both sides counting fives and sixes as successes.  The side with more wins with ties now going to the attacker. If the attacker wins, the difference in hits is added to the attackers weapon damage. A massive change is now the defender only rolls a number of dice equal to its body attribute with the five and sixes reducing damage as in 5th edition.  Since the defender doesn’t have many dice to reduce the damage, weapon damage is also reduced as well.

Magic– Magic is also revamped.  When you cast a magic spell, you no longer choose a threshold as thresholds are no longer part of the game.  You roll a number of d6s equal to your magic and spellcasting attribute. Each spell has a number of success needed to cast the spell and expressly indicates how a target avoids the damage.  It’s clearly written and I not

Skills-Skills are massively reduced with multiple skills being rolled into one skill

Ok, now let’s look at my thoughts.

Mechanics or Crunch-The crux of the game is the d6 rolling system, and that doesn’t change.  I love the reduced skills and faster flow of the game. The flow of edge is fun as it provides more player control over the game and less like subjective story candy.  The nature of magic and matrix actions also works well. The one thing I’m kind of iffy on is the nature of armor. Armor and weapons having a separate state is ok, but I don’t like that armor is divorced from reducing damage.  That feels off. But otherwise, the nature of quick play becomes central to the gunfight nature of the game. I’m optimistic about the nature of the full game’s mechanics. 4.75/5

Theme or Fluff-It’s Shadowrun.  You like corporate dystopia and Tolken fantasy, you’re going to like what 6th edition still is.  This is more awesome future fantasy in Shadowrun 6th edition. 5/5

Execution-The box set is well put together.  I like the layout of the books. The character sheets teach the game well to new players.  The biggest issue I have with the quick start rules is I would like a few more pages of explanation to some of the materials.  I discussed the materials with a few other Shadowrun GMs and those discussions really helped me solidify the rules. Most people will not have that luxury.  The full rules will clear up those issues, but for now, a few more pages would help tie the material together. In addition the art looks amazing, so that gets me ready for a whole new attitude to play.  If you want to see a full breakdown of the product check out my unboxing here:https://youtu.be/ruxgYe5usLw   4.5/5

Summary-I’m looking forward to this edition.  The changes look good and thought out, for the most part.  I think it’s gonna take me a few games to come around on the armor thing.  It’s not bad, but it is different. Good different? We’ll see. The rest looks like well done, modern game design streamlining the process and avoiding the random crap that really don’t make a game fun.  The physical product is amazing as well. Solid cardboard and writing help get me into this one. I just need more of it to really make my life as a gamer easier. That said, I’m in. I’m invested in the 6th edition of Shadowrun. 95%

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Ring Side Report- Fine Country Folk adventure for Shadow of the Demon Lord

Product– Fine Country Folk

System– Shadow of the Demon Lord

ProducerSchwalb Entertainment

Price– $2.79 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/270395/Fine-Country-Folk?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Do you hear banjos?  95%

Basics– We don’t cotton to kindly to your kind ‘round here…  In Fine Country Folk, two factions of rednecks vie for dark powers.  Can you find the source of their vile power and end it or will you end up dinner for the inbred yokels or one of the made betters?

Mechanics or Crunch-Shadow of the Demon Lord is one of the slickest systems out there, and Fine Country Folk keeps up that fine tradition.  The adventure has some great mechanics for a hex crawl. Good, simple to draw map with a good random distribution of events, and well detailed locals with new monsters to fight.  The simple nature of the adventure makes its a fun, easy to run, four hour adventure. 5/5

Theme or Fluff-Fine Country Folk is a hex crawl through and through, and it has some of the problems of a hex crawl.  Overall, it’s an awesome adventure once it gets going, but like all hex crawls you can drop into the middle of an active campaign, the start is a bit rough.  The hook into the adventure is the weakest part. Once the players have a reason to kill he inbred hicks or redneck mechanical abominations in the woods, they will have a great time.  As a hex crawl, the DM has more work to do than in a set piece adventures to make sure a story flows and give the players a reason to stay. The adventure has prompts for DMs, but this is an important heads up that you should be aware of.  It’s a fun adventure that will require a bit more muscle to get the story to crack over in the beginning but it hums along after the start. 4.25/5

Execution-Fine Country Folk is one of Schwalb’s longest adventure with lots of details and new monsters.  This adventure is twice as long as his other individual adventures and FOUR times as long as some of the adventures from the first campaign.  It has great art, nicely done tables, and is a breeze to read. Heck, it even references WITH PAGES things that DMs might need to review when they run this adventure.  This is what I want a Shadow of the Demon Lord adventures to look like. 5/5

Summary-Fine Country Folk is standard Schwalb, and Schwalb is an acquired taste.  I love sushi, but if you can’t stand fish or raw food, go away. Even Michelin star sushi is still sushi.  This is some of Schwalb’s best writing, but it is still Schwalb’s writing. If rape, murder, violence, cthulhu-satan, or a whole host of other mean nasty things, you will be turned away by this one.  I love sushi and the horrible, monstrous things Schwalb has to say, so this is a great work of dark vile fantasy to drop your players into. That said, it’s not perfect. Your adventure will need to shift into this one and hooking your players into this can be a bit tricky and I would like more explicit ways to get them involved more readily.  That said, once you are past that, you will enjoy this fine food and the fine country folk who will try to eat you, skin you alive, or horrible experiment on you. Just pray your PC doesn’t have a pretty mouth. 95 %

 

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Product– Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

System-DnD 5e

Producer– Wizards of the Coast

Price– $33 here https://www.amazon.com/MORDENKAINENS-FOES-Accessory-Wizards-Team/dp/0786966246/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531451731&sr=8-1&keywords=mordenkainen%27s+tome+of+foes

TL; DR-It’s not plagiarism if it’s from you!  83%%

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Basics-It’s not Monster Manual II, IT’S MONSTER MANUAL II!  Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes builds out the world of Dungeons and Dragons, focusing less on any one particular world and more on the higher and lower planes.  It provides players with some new options, race options, and even story to build out the characters they want to be. DMs get new monsters, focusing on higher power, extra planar monsters as well as building the universe around the normal material plane players are used to.

Theme or Fluff-This book is by the same people who made the planes in the first place, so its top notch.  The story is amazing, not just for a monster manual, but for any book honestly. You get a ton of options to really make well rounded characters from backstory to new hooks to get the characters really involved in the world.  There are multiple versions of tieflings depending on your devil parents. Those little touches really draw you in. DMs get monsters that have story as well as world-building that will really make higher level play much more interesting.  This is a great resource for any DnD 5e player that wants some planar spice in their game or character. .5/5

Mechanics or Crunch-Again, this book was written by the people who made the system, so they know their math.  The monsters feel right. There are new monsters as well as old favorites. Get ready for heavy hitters though.  This book has low level monsters, but it brings a ton of big boys to the fray. If you need high level monsters, then this is the book for you.  5/5

Execution– Is there a PDF since this book came out in 2018?  Nope, well we’re down to at most ⅘. Then, this is where I get personally angry.  This book copy/pastes the high level monsters from Out of the Abyss. I’m not just talking monsters, but art and even whole written backgrounds for monsters.  We’re talking about ⅕ of the monsters from the book, and almost all the high level monsters. And that is where I draw the line. Need big monsters to make the fight happen?  Great! Use some but not all. The highest level monsters are all the demon princes/princesses of the abyss. NO DEVIL LORDS ARE IN THIS BOOK. That means the DnD team decided to phone in ⅕ of this book by just copying another book they put out a few years ago.  So even though the book’s layout is good, art is good, and event tables of contents and appendices are great, you get a crap rating because you want me to pay full price for phoning in effort. 2.5/5

Summary– I want to like this book.  It’s got a ton of great qualities.  Players and DMs both get excellent resources to use to build up their stories with new characters options and monsters.  And honestly, the book is put together well. I like what they did here with all the different end tables and even the layout of the monsters.  However, this book breaks two important rules for me. First, I can’t get a digital version without have to buy it separately through an app. I already have a number of apps, and when that company folds, I will lose my purchase.  So the lack of PDFs really hurts this book. Second, large parts of this book are just copies of an earlier book. So, why should I reward any company for just selling the same thing to me twice? This is a great book, IF you can get past the fact that if you already own Out of the Abyss, you are buying the monsters again.  If that doesn’t bother you, or you don’t own that book, then this is going to be a great book for your DnD collection, both as a player and as a DM. 83%

 

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Finders Keepers

Product– Finders Keepers

System-Dungeons and Dragons 5th Ed.

Producer– Janek Sielicki

Price– $3.95 here http://www.dmsguild.com/product/215482/Finders-Keepers  

TL; DR-The Great and the Mixed of the DMs Guild 93%

215482

Basics-Need a 20th level adventure in a hurry?  Here you go!  Finders Keepers is a 20th level adventure set in the Forgotten Realms, but easily ported to any place.  Players start in town, but soon enough a rampaging dragon attacks the land.  Players then have to save the town, and perusing the dragons leads down a rabbit hole of dead gods, hidden powers, and words that can literally destroy the world!

 

Mechanics or Crunch-This book is fine, completely fine, but that’s the one problem with the book the author can’t fix.  The monsters are all directly from the Monster Manual, the items from the DMG, and traps come from there as well.  That all works well, but if things are just exactly what you’ve seen before, it’s a tad bland.  But, the way the DMs Guild and the AL runs, writers can’t change that fact.  That little bit hurts the book a bit, but honestly as constrained by the rules as this book is, the mechanics work.  What’s here is good and runs well, but I would like the author to do a bit more, even though I know he can’t.  4.25/5

 

Theme or Fluff– This is an awesome story!  We get dead gods, demons, devils, entering alternative worlds, and a goal off saving everything.  The author can’t write new mechanics, but he CAN write a crazy new story!  I love what’s here!  It might not be completely the most original as I’ve seen tiny bits of other things, but I’m happy to see all the pieces come back together in a great new way.  4.75/5

Execution–  Hay, this book made me change my opinion of how books are put together.  This is one guy at a computer putting out fantastic materials.  There is art to break up text, there is the standard template to break up text, and there is formatting that works welo.  What I have here that puts it over the top is hyperlinking to pages, maps that the GM can copy/past into any software, and a new art that is made just for this material and handouts.  This caught me off guard.  WHY ARE OTHER BOOKS NOT DOING THIS?  This is a less than 100 page adventure, and honestly, it doesn’t need hyperlinking, but the addition makes my life a little bit easier.  Also, not many groups make it to 20, so this book comes with pre-generated characters with and without items to make the plug and play that much easier for any group.  More books need to do that, and adding this and other little parts makes me honestly love what’s here.  5/5

Summary– This is a fantastic adventure constrained slightly by the DMs Guild.  The book itself is put together amazingly well!  As I read more and more books on my tablets and phones, simple things like hyperlinking make my life that much more simple!  The store is great.  It’s got a few elements that you may have seen before but it’s not a ripoff of any story, and it’s told well.  The mechanics are the low point, but that’s a bit harsh.  It’s far from bad in any way, but it’s limiting for the author as you can’t build new material as often.  Overall, I found this to be a solid adventure that you can plug and play into any FR game with ease that is well put together. 93%

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%

FREEWAY-FIGHTER-ISSUE-1_COVER_A (1)

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%.