Product– Pip System Corebook
System- Pip System
Producer– Third Eye Games
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%
Product– Hellboy: the RolePlaying Game
System- Dungeons and Dragons 5e
Producer– Mantic Games
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%
Check out our review of Dune
Product– Modern Age Basic Rulebook
Producer– Green Ronin Publishing
TL; DR-Three games in one where every roll matters! 88%
Basics– Dragon Age in your modern age? Modern Age Basic Rulebook is a stand alone game, applying the basics of the Fantasy Age system to a modern or near modern setting. Let’s break this up into pieces.
Basic mechanics: Modern Age is Fantasy Age is Dragon Age. All three of these use 3d6 + ability + focus to do anything. Like all RPGs, it’s the basic idea of “roll dice, plus a number, to get a different number to win” idea. Easy enough to pick up and play.
Abilities and focuses: Modern Age has a pretty simple number addition pool where you add an ability. Ability is just like your base statistics in DnD. These range from -2 to +4. You also have focuses, which are basically like skills in DnD except that you get a flat +2 to the roll instead of different values. Later you can specialize so you have a +3 instead of the +2.
Talents and Powers: While abilities and focuses do give you some room to build some fun characters, it’s not enough to really differentiate your characters from the pack. That is where talents come into play. Talents are the feats of the system. Talents provide a bonus that makes your character distinct. Talents range from being rich and getting bonuses in buying things to being a bruiser who hits harder. What makes these distinct from DnD feats is there are three levels of each talent. As you level up you can take higher levels of each talent, making you more powerful in your given area. This is how spells/powers/psychic abilities are handled as well. You choose a magic school and that school functions pretty much like a talent providing you new options like making a light happen to casting fireballs. This isn’t a Vancian magic or powers game as characters have a number of power points they can spend at will to do whatever powers they want as often as they can.
Stunt Points: This is the bread and butter of the system. The Age system itself isn’t completely novel as dice + numbers vs a different number isn’t anything new, but this system uses 3d6 with ONE die being a different color. This different die is your stunt die. If any dice show doubles and you succeed, you get to a number of stunt points equal to your stunt die value. These points range from tripping people to better haggling in the market to adding power to your psychic blasts. All dice rolls have a table of stunt points you can spend to make things interesting. This differentiates the system from other roll + number systems, making it its own thing.
Game version: Modern movies are really three different kinds of movies. You have your ultra modern, gritty movies where one bullet kills someone. You have fun pulp where you punch nazis with a satisfying SMACK. You also have movies where one hero kills hundreds of monsters while only getting a single cut over his eye to make him look even more amazing. Modern Age gives you rule tweaks to play in any of these settings by changing damage from weapons, hit points, and number of bad guys you throw at the hero.
Ok, that’s the basics of the game. Let’s look at my thoughts at the game.
Mechanics or Crunch– You can see the direct line from the Dragon Age video game to the Dragon Age game to Fantasy Age to Modern Age. And that is a good thing! I like the basic idea of powers, magic points, and mechanics of the Dragon Age video game, and Dragon Age the RPG system implemented that well. Those basic ideas go from Dragon Age to Fantasy Age and finally to Modern Age. It’s a solid, simple to play system. Stunt points and the fact that any roll can make them happen really makes this game pop. Every roll matters. Something that happens in one roll might have big changes to the next as the points can change things in ways you might not have expected. It’s a great touch to make this stick out from all the other roll vs numbers games out there. My one minor gripe is I would like more powers in a character. Characters don’t get a whole lot of powers to play with if they go that route. If you are ok with a pretty simple system without an overabundance of options, this is a good one to jump into. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff-This book is light on fluf, but that is decidedly on purpose. Modern Age is a modern setting. It’s just today. You have today’s guns. The only fantasy bit is magic powers, and that’s honestly optional. The game references a comic setting as an option to play, but mostly it leaves the game up to you. The three different versions of the game do help you set the game how you want to play. Gritty, pulp, or cinematic are good options for a GM and players to decide how the world should be played. It’s setting light, but that’s by design, which doesn’t hurt the goals of the book. 4/5
Execution– PDF? YEP! Hyperlinked? YES! Ok, we start solid. Overall the book is well done. The font and tables are not my favorite, but that’s a print issue as they are a bit cramped for my taste. I also think laying out some items in a table for character advancement would help as opposed to telling me in text. Those small issues annoyed me a bit, because I want to be able to glance over things quickly to get what I need to know quickly. Aside from that, the book is well done. The one thing that stuck out to me is the weapons page. WEAPONS HAVE LABELS IN A PICTURE! I can’t tell you how many RPGs I have read where they mention a weapon, and I have to google what they mean. That’s a small thing that keeps me in this book as I speed read through the thing. Reads quick, easy to navigate, and good art to boot make this a solid product. 4.75/5
Summary-I can’t wait for the next Dragon Age video game. That system was solid. This game is a grand child of that video game, and it’s got all the things I know and love from it. The mechanics are simple and the fact that dice rolls have a chance to make something cool happen besides a critical keep things interesting. The fact I can run three different games from one book makes this pretty versatile for the games I want to play. The book was a quick read that got me playing fast. What I don’t like as much is I would like a bit more about the basic setting, but the basic setting is today. So, I could just look outside and see what it’s like. Characters don’t get a ton of options, but that is something from Dragon Age as well. It’s a solid game that makes every roll count, so give this one a try if you crave some modern day gunfights at your table! 88%
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Check out our lighting fast review of Ecos: First Continent.
Product-Call to Adventure
Producer– Brotherwise Games
Price– $30.00 here https://www.amazon.com/Brotherwise-Games-BGM018-Call-Adventure/dp/B07JN6XY6Z/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2N3XFUONODGO9&dchild=1&keywords=call+to+adventure+board+game&qid=1593728170&sprefix=call+to+adventure%2Caps%2C173&sr=8-1
Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30 to 45 minutes (2-4 players)
TL; DR-Set Collection Your Own Adventure! 95%
Basics- Who will you be? Call to Adventure is a character building game of set collection and dice rolling. Each character at the start of the game will be given three cards: a background, a motivation, and a destiny. The background and motivation cards have rune symbols representing traits that your character will use to attempt to adventure, as well as powers that your character can use each turn. Each turn your character must choose either an adventure or trait from the tableau. Traits are cards you just take, but adventures are events you must choose to encounter. Each adventure has two traits associated with it. You see if you have any matching traits on the cards you currently have, you add one of those trait’s runes to your “dice pool” (which is actually a rune pool) for each symbol your character has. Then you choose on the adventure card if you will attempt the encounter on the bottom or the top section. Each one has a different story AND different rewards/challenges. You then take the three basic runes that either give one success, no success, or draw a hero/antihero (one time use card) as well as the runes you gathered before based on your current cards, and you may spend experience to add dark runes to the pool. These either add one success or two success and make you more evil! You then cast the runes (instead of rolling dice), and you count your successes. If you succeed you gain the card and place it under your current one to show the challenge you overcame. If you fail, you lose the card, but gain an experience. Play continues until one player has three cards under their background, motivation, and destiny. All other players get to finish the round and have one additional round to catch up and then you add all victory points from any cards you played and sets of icons you collected, and the player with the most destiny points is the winner!
Mechanics-This game sneaks up on you as you might only have nine turns if you are lucky! It’s very quick, and it’s easy to forget that you are collecting sets of icons and points. But, man is it fun! It’s quick enough to not wear out its welcome, but it’s also deep enough that you will have to think a bit. Experience is a great way to fix the luck of the dice issue, but dice/runes can absolutely ruin your fun here. But even then, you will still not have a bad time as it’s not a long game and some traits are won by losing. Overall, it’s a dice rolling and set collection game. 4.5/5
Theme- This is a solid story game. When you are done, you will be amazed how well the story of your character emerges. I FEEL like I am this person playing a year long campaign forging this hero in an RPG. If you are a story gamer like me, YOU WILL LOVE THIS! 5/5
Instructions– The rules here are good, but you will end up on BGG. There are some corner cases where I have to check exactly what the game rules mean. Even without board game geek, you can figure out enough to settle on house rules to get you playing. The rules are written well enough that you will get running fast enough to play in about 10 minutes. These are solid rules, but a few flaws keep them from being the gold standard. 4.5/5
Execution– This is a fantastically executed game! Check out all the pieces here: https://youtu.be/n0OI0_nS1e8 YOU CAST RUNES! It feels like every druid fortune telling scene in a viking movie. That right there is amazing. The cards are excellent. Everytime I teach this game players want to stare at the cards as the details are amazing and tell a story themselves. The box is amazing. It has great compartments to keep things organized. Honestly, more games need to be built like this game! 5/5
Summary– This is a game you will either LOVE or HATE. If you want a 12 hour euro game where each move is planned six moves ahead, then this is not the game for you! If you, like me, played eight games of RPGs at the BGG virtual con AND have two play by post games going at the same time, then I have a board game for you and for you to woo your RPG friends into. It’s light enough to be a blast to play quickly, but deep enough for you to find a story to dig into with enough mechanics that you can enjoy your choices. Like all dice games, you can be wrecked by the dice, and I would like a bit more in the rules to elaborate. But, this game is a blast to play and one that any RPG gamer and board gamer needs in their collection. 95%
Product– EB-01 The Night Land
Producer– DMs Guild
TL; DR– Standard start to something great. 93%
Basics– Eberron? In MY 5e? OH YES! Let’s hope in and look at the new TWENTY adventure long story for Eberron The Oracle of War Storyline called The Night Land. You start by rolling into the town of Salvation on the Mournland border, and like all poor hungry souls, it’s time to find a job! What’s the job board got today?
Mechanics or Crunch– This adventure is pretty balanced for crunch. It is the same formula you’ve grown to love or maybe be annoyed with in this first adventure by Shawn. Three small quests with some time between to rest up. The party does some crazy stuff, rests, repeat. The players learn how to be their characters, get a bit of a challenge, and then 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff– Standard well done 1st level adventure! Shawn does 1st level adventure well. Small packages to not kill the party day one. It has a bit of Eberron feel, but like most things, it will require the DM to amp up the world feel. You do hang with some goblins, changelings, and some horrors of the mournlands, so you get a good intro of the horrible things that want to eat you! You can get a bit bored as your party might recognize a formula when they start. But its level one! You’re off to run errands and kill low level monsters, not take on the Lord of Blades day one! 4.5/5
Execution– PDF? Yep! Hyperlinked? No, but it doesn’t really matter (I’d still like it though). This product has THREE PDFs. One is the adventure in glorious color with lots of pictures that you run through the home printer. The second is a slimmed down black and white no frills product that you run through the home printer. Third is a newspaper to throw the players! That’s some awesome world world building! In addition, the adventure organizers have FULL PAGE sheets the players get after the adventure. The things they check off let them know some serious crap is up. Heck, I as a GM who isn’t fully aware of the campaign knows some crap is up, so I’m buying in too. I also like the authors’ use of the DMs Guild to full effect by putting lots of pictures in. These are pictures I’ve seen before, but it’s a nice touch to the other pictures that they throw in. I like the art deco style of everything. It honestly makes me feel more like we are between wars and I know something bad is coming…. 4.9/5
Summary-I like Eberron, and The Wife LOVES Eberron. This adventure brought her back to 5e and weekly gaming at the store. That’s the sales pitch that I can give. Now, is it perfect? No. It’s 1st level fare. Small tapas portions of adventures as your cleric might be able to roll out two cure wounds and a real bad round of two crits can completely wreck a party. Is that a problem? No. This is fun. I’ll equate this to my favorite above average hibachi restaurant. I know exactly what the chef is going to do there, but guess what? I’m going to show up and be happy I went! 93%
Product– Adventurer’s Backpack
System-Castles and Crusades
Producer– Troll Lord Games
TL; DR– OPTIONS! 86%
Basics-It’s time for a solid player option book for CnC! This book features TONS of new classes, spells, items, niche rules, and even a complete new magic system. There is even a whole chapter dedicated to backpacks of tools each adventurer would need to do their job. How does it stack up?
Mechanics or Crunch– Ah old school… you provide us with gonzo options and allow the DM to do whatever they want. The problem is, this is pretty rules-light for how some of the crunch works. A perfect example is the warrior priest. That class has Cure Wounds which allows them to heal other characters. Awesome! I love it. But the rules don’t describe: do you roll once per day, or do you roll all hit points and then give them out as you want, or do you spend dice as you go? I could hunt online and find the answer. I don’t want to do that. I just decided and went with it. This is old school, so once the group decides, we roll with it. That’s the bad; the good is this book gives you new character classes, character options like spell casting rangers, paladins,and bards, lots of equipment options, spells, and all sorts of tools adventurers might need to fight evil. It’s not perfect, but the flaws are all part of OSR rules’ light touch. The good is amazing and makes this worth the price. 3.75/5
Theme or Fluff– I would not call this a fluff book, but I do think what is here is done well. It mostly gives you ideas how the new things fit into the fantasy worlds of Castles and Crusades. It’s world-agnostic in a decent way, so you could plug these into any fantasy world and have a fitting character. I would like more, as I want to build out the world and campaign setting, but the book gives you enough that you can find the equivalent in your world and plug and play right away. 4.25/5
Execution– PDF? Yep! Hyperlinked? YES! This book is well done. It’s an old school game, but it’s modern design makes me happy. It’s not perfect – I would like the font to be a bit larger, but this thing has all the things I think a modern book should have. 4.9/5
Summary-My summary of this book comes down to one very specific question-do you want more character options for CnC? If yes, then get the book. It’s not perfect; I think things need another round of writing to fully explain what the writers wanted me to do in some spots, but if you can look past some small issues, you will enjoy this. The fluff is decent. I want more, but it’s not bad. Just not the whole world laid bare. Physically, the book is done well. Links, layout, and text all work well. I’m glad this is in my collection, and I know my players are always happy to have this as a place to get spells, classes, and toys to help them put down evil. 86%
Product– Refractions of Glasston
System-Call of Cthulhu, 7th ed
Producer– Taylor University PWR Press
TL; DR– A grade college work! 90%
Basics-All is not well in the midwest….In a small glass making town in Indiana, something ancient and evil is stirring. Can our heroes learn the horrific secrets in time or will fail and end up consumed by the glass as well? Let’s break this down!
Mechanics or Crunch– This is mechanically well done for an intro adventure. Honestly, the only major tool in the CoC toy box that isn’t on display is a chase scene. There are fights, ancient, evil books, spells, investigation, and lots of social interaction. If you play your cards right, don’t lose your head, and look everywhere (all the parts of a smart CoC investigator), you can put down something TRULY evil, and it will feel natural when you do it. 5/5
Theme or Fluff-Here things suffer a bit. The story is decent once you are in. However, it’s a big rough getting the different investigators together, into the town, and working together. That’s a pretty rough start other than “YOU SEEM TRUSTWORTHY! LET’S INVESTIGATE HORRORS BEYOND HUMAN KEN TOGETHER!” But once you are past that part of the story, it opens up well and you will have a blast. 4.5/5
Execution– PDF? Yep! Hyperlinked? no…. For a first outing by this team, I like what’s here. Need my links, but it’s not bad. There are rough spots like there is a character that they characters will need up with who plays a major role in advancing the story, but she’s not in the Dramatis personæ at the back of the adventure, so that’s a minor problem. Aside from minor issues like that, the adventure is solid. The pregenerated characters have a mix of types that are fun, but their skills are thought out enough that they compliment the problems you see well. I would like for pulp options in the next adventure like how that is handled in the larger adventures Chaosium puts out, but again, that’s going beyond in development. What’s here is relatively solid and reads well out of the box. 4/5
Summary-I majored in the hard sciences in college, so I never did anything as cool as write a CoC adventure for credit. But, if this is the quality I can expect going forward, I think I really missed something awesome. This is a good intro adventure with a fun variety of toys to spring on and for the adventurers. The story has a harder start, but once it’s going, it takes off. The execution is decent. It’s not perfect, but the issues are minor enough that the players won’t know if you think on your feet as a keeper. Good layout and text make this easy enough to read. I did enjoy the line about completely reading the adventure before you start because that NEVER happens. Overall, this is a fantastic intro adventure I feel like I can spring on any group of new players and get an amazing CoC experience that will hook them for decades to come. 90%