Product– Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 Quickstart
TL; DR– Let’s kill some Cthulhu Nazis! 97%
Basics– The Weird Wars are back! Achtung! Cthulhu is a horror/action RPG using the Achtung! Cthulhu world and the new(er) 2d20 system put forward by Modiphius. Let’s dig into this historical horror.
Base mechanics-The 2d20 system is a roll-under system. Every time you do an action, you use a skill and an attribute. You add your skill and attribute together and try to roll under that total on each individual die. If you roll under your skill, you score two successes and if you roll under the total you just score one success. Get enough successes, you do the action. You need between 0 and five successes.
Momentum, threat, and fortune- Since you only get two dice and you might need up to five successes, you need more dice in a hurry. You can get more dice from momentum. Every success above what you need earns momentum for the group. You can spend momentum to get more dice. You can also give the GM threat to get more dice, but threat is GM momentum. You also have fortune. Fortune is story candy. You automatically crit and earn two successes.
Combat-Combat works just like skills, but if you hit, you roll six sided dice with either 1, 2, or 1 and a bonus event on them. The bonus things might start fires or do extra damage and depends on the weapons and the person using it. When you take damage, you subtract either armor or your resolve (mental armor) and take stress. When your stress fills up, you are out and you take an injury. This could be from going crazy or from taking a hit to the face. Too many injuries and you’re out for good!
Ok, now my thoughts on this.
Mechanics or Crunch– I like what’s here. I love Call of Cthulhu, and 2d20 feels enough like that but it has some things that feel like DnD. There are feat like traits. There is a more combat emphasis, and the flow of threat and momentum makes things a bit more dynamic than either parent game. There are parts I want described more like spending threat. This is a quickstart for free, so it’s ok if it’s not a complete rules book now, but I want more of that in the final product. That said, the crunch here feels good and full of combat goodness with hints of story built in to keep the action rolling. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff– Hate Nazis? Want to hate Cthulhu Naizs? I’VE GOT A GAME FOR YOU! The ultimate killable bad guys are the main villains here, so it always feels fun to fight those guys. It is Weird War, so get ready for some strange elements, from spellcasting Americans to Australians with combat dogs. But, here is where things shine. 2d20 is built on this back and forth of rolls, story, and tension. Momentum and threat roll back and forth across the table making things fun. There is absolutely nothing wrong with some old school gaming, but for story and theme, I love when the mechanics build into that. This system does that well. 5/5
Execution– PDF? YEP! Hyperlinked? No, but it’s a quickstart, so I’ll forgive it. It reads well, reads quick, and has great pictures. Now those pictures are from the original Acthung! Cthulhu, so I hope for new art, but it’s all good. The player section is at the back and easily prints out to a separate PDF, so my players will not be spoiled. Honestly, it’s 45+pages of good introduction to the system that you can read in under half an hour and get playing your first game. 5/5
Summary-This is a free PDF, so check it out! It’s also a solid RPG with a great mix of theme and mechanics. Lots of fun to be had from this quick read that you will be playing fast. Go kill some bad guys and save the day in the Weird War! 97%
Product– Pathfinder Adventure Path #163: Ruins of Gauntlight
System- Pathfinder 2nd Ed
Price– $24.00 here https://paizo.com/products/btq023hs
TL; DR– 92%
Basics– Strange lights in the mist! The old lighthouse calls! The local crazy calls forth a group of adventurers to see what horrors her harrow cards have foretold! A dungeon crawl for characters level one to four.
Mechanics or Crunch– This is a straight up dungeon crawl. There is a dungeon lighthouse in a marsh. You are told to check it out. Overall, its slick quick rooms with lots of fights. There are some things I think are a bit rough like some things are listed with different names, so that made the experience a bit harder to dig through as a GM. However, the players have solid fights with fun things to discover. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff– This is a dungeon crawl. There is a town and it gets a full write-up in both the player guide and the first adventure, but honestly, it’s background. The adventure literally just starts you at the foot of the dungeon. I would like a bit more lead up for my players. Otherwise, this megadungeon ends up like the random generated dungeons where I just mindlessly kill orks on my phone. The dungeon is nice and atmospheric, so the story beyond the start is built on show don’t tell. 4.5/5
Execution– PDF? YEP! Hyperlinked? Kind of. The writing is good, the layout is nice, and the flow is quick. The book has bookmarks in the PDF, but it doesn’t have clickable links in the parts. That would help as this is over 60 pages and hopping around is a pain. What I absolutely LOVE is the maps. There is a separate map file given with the PDF. That map lets you add and remove things like secret doors and the grid. That makes life SO much easier to run and align online or digitally. Paizo knows how to make a solid book. 4.75/5
Summary– Been looking forward to this one for a bit. Some hack and slash is fun, and having some Pathfinder hack and slash is a blast. Now, the one thing I think I would like different is a bit more story to the carnage. Some lead in as my players need to know why they are killing things. The crunch is good, but a few things are just slightly off enough to annoy the GM. Players won’t notice. The book itself is solid and something I loved to read. This adventure is a solid start to a good old fashioned kick in the door and kill the bad guy campaign. 92%
Product– EB-EP-02 Rolling Thunder
System- DnD 5e
Producer– DMs Guild
TL; DR-A great train robbery! 98%
Basics-Time for a train heist! Can you infiltrate a train, get all the pieces, and break into the vault all while not alerting the entire Breland military? This is a multi table event that can be run with a single table as well. Now to our thoughts.
Mechanics or Crunch– THIS IS NOT A COMBAT ADVENTURE! Big alert on this! If the party is down to kill everyone all the time, they will not have fun! But, if you want to flex your non-combat expertise, this will be an amazing experience. The crunch here is well done and the new mechanics are well executed. I would like a bit more fighting so the fighter with no skills still gets to do a bit more. From cooking to social to even some puzzles, this is a fun change from the standard kill everything adventure. 4.75/5
Theme or Fluff– Since this is not a dungeon crawl, the fluff here has to be tight. And it delivers! There are a lot of materials here to make this feel like an upper class train ride. Players duck between cooking, gambling, social, and even some stealth all while trying to blend in. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzles of this adventure, but honestly they all fit well together in a great picture. 5/5
Execution– PDF? YEP! Hyperlinked? Yes there are bookmarks. The adventure is set up with enough information that you can run as a multi table event or single table easily. The handouts are well done and easy for the players to read. The adventure reads well and quick, so there is no confusion on what is going on. This team executed another solid adventure. 5/5
Summary-I love the new format of epics in DnD. I love more players being able to play. That makes me happy, and would alone be worth a good review. But, the Eberron team is constantly delivering solid adventures that I love. This is no exception. If you want to be part of a train heist that is amazing to play and easy to run, then grab this adventure. 98%
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%