Ring Side Report- Black Void Quick Start Rules

Product– Black Void Quick Start Rules

System-Black Void

Producer– Christoffer Sevaldsen

Price– $12 here on kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/68133405/black-void-rpg

TL; DR-The D12 DOESN’T cry itself to sleep! 90%

Basics-.Welcome to Llyhn the eternal!  In the Black Void, characters survive in a world where giant almost black holes, the Black Voids of the title, opened up around Babylon and swallowed the chunks of the world whole, dragging men and women off screaming into the darkness.  After some time and much loss of life, humans found themselves in Llyhn, the eternal city, where inhuman masters rule. Will you survive in this world where you are far from home as characters scrabble in the dirt in this fantasy Middle Eastern RPG?

Base Mechanics- This game uses a d12 as its primary die.  Characters add either their traits and/or abilities to the roll hoping to reach a 7, the normal success roll that can vary quite a bit depending on the complexity of the action.  It’s a pretty simple system that makes me think a bit of other roll to a set number games like Savage Worlds.

Stats-  Your stats in this game are called traits which are Agility, Awareness, Stamina, Strength, Intellect, Manipulation, Presence, and Willpower.  When you build a character, you get 24 points to buy your traits at a one for one basis. All of them start at one and none can be greater than six at character generation.  When you use your traits, you take the trait minus three to determine the modifier you get for your rolls. Also, for every three points in a trait, you can buy a talent for another three points.  Think of talents like feats in DnD-they give you bonuses and abilities that normally you would not have and you have to take them as you grow in power. This game is classless, so these are ways to build to something you want to be in the world.  You can also spend points on background abilities like your caste, the ability to access blood magic, or to even not be completely human. All of these things act like feats as well with character buying new ranks in blood magic, different background abilities, and new abilities if you are a half-breed.

Blood Magic- Magic in this game looks more ritual based than the snappy magic of DnD.  The quick start guide presents Blood Rituals where a character can sacrifice a creature to gain a bonus or a boon.  These boons provide different powers and abilities that a character can use in the next 12 hours ranging from a simple reroll to gaining different talents.  The skills for blood magic are gained during character generation and bought using a character’s trait pool.

Skills– Your skills in this game are called abilities.  You start the game with 24 ability points that you spend on a 1 for 1 basis.  Your skills start at below 0, then 0, and finally you can spend points up to 3, so 3 ranks in a skill costs you 4 ability points.  The modifier is -3 for no ranks, then 0 for 0, and up to +3 for 3 ranks. Unlike games like Pathfinder and DnD, some abilities are tied to multiple traits, so a character might be doing an Athletics roll, but use Stamina instead of Strength if the character was testing their endurance instead of testing their physical prowess.

Combat and Initiative-Combat runs how you would expect, with a few differences.  Players roll a d12 and add their agility talent as normal for rolling for initiative.  Then on a character’s turn, a character chooses one action that can range from attacks, reacting to attacks, or simply moving.  The standard value of 7 is used for attacks unless a character took an action to change it or react with a character adding their Strength or Agility trait and their weapon skill to the attack roll.  If the attacker hits, then the attacker rolls damage with damage dice ranging from a d4 to a d12, the hit character reduces the damage by their armor value, and then the turn moves to the next character.  Characters have conditions depending on their hit point total with the more banged up a character is, the character gains more penalties to their rolls.

Health and Sanity-  The game has some simple rules for character generation of hit points and sanity.  Characters have health points that are determined by rolling a d12 for each Stamina Trait.  This game also has some slight Lovecraft elements as characters will encounter horrors beyond time and space surviving in their new home.  A character’s sanity points are determined by rolling a d12 for each Willpower point their have. When a character encounters a horror they roll a d12 and add their Willpower modifier aiming for a number depending on the creature.  If they fail, they lose sanity points. Sanity point loss has penalties associated with it just like health point loss as the character will gain madness conditions. Sanity can be regained through time and rest just like health points.

Character Advancement-  Characters advance in a few ways.  First, the normal experience points are gained.  Characters spend these to advance traits and abilities according a table in the book.  Characters can also advance in Wastah and Enlightenment. Enlightenment is how a character understands the Void and the cosmos as a whole, kind of like getting the rule book to the universe.  As a character becomes more enlightened, they might gain new abilities, attributes, and talents. Wastah is much more simple-it’s a character’s social rank. As you adventure, you gain prestige that makes you more important.  The caste system in this world is rigid, but if you save the leadership of the city enough times, then even the lowliest street rat might become something impressive with ranks unlocking new patrons, facilities, funding, or a whole host of other options.

Ok, that’s how to play.  Now what do I think!

Theme or Fluff-This is honestly the high point of the book.  You feel like you’re in the City of Brass with powerful elemental lords using humans as playthings.  It’s pre-Islam middle eastern fantasy with bits of Lovecraft thrown in. I don’t see enough middle eastern themes in fantasy aside from fantasy Egypt, so this is a good welcome change!  I like the work this book builds as the characters scrabble to survive in a supernatural world full of horrors post magic apocalypse on Earth. That is all good! Better, none of this feels racist.  It’s easy to just make some stereotypes and run with that as a game. This book feels like it’s trying to make the world stand out and be much more than some simple stereotypes with new races and creatures that rule the eternal city.  That makes this an even better place to play instead of just a blatant copy of folklore. 5/5

Mechanics or Crunch-This game has novel mechanics that I like, but there are a few things that catch my attention.  The d12 based system is something unique that I really like. I don’t see that die used too much, and it takes center stage here.  The bonuses are something that catch my attention. They seem somewhat inconsistent with trait rolls being the trait minus three while ability rolls are -3 for no ranks but one rank is considered a zero in the skill and all other ranks result in continued bonuses, so four ranks is a +3.  That’s not horrible, it’s makes sense from a numbers perspective to make the math of a d12 only system work, but the flow feels off. If you play, it’s going to work. But, it’s a slight barrier to entry. My other major issue is the combat action economy. One day I will learn to just stop being angry about being able to move or attack in a turn, but not today!  Again, it makes sense from a system perspective, but I never feel right only being able to run up to take a hit to the face. It will emphasize the role ranged combat plays. The thing I do like is the amount of tables the game has. As you go crazy, critically hit an enemy, or simply screw up an attack, you roll on tables. Random event tables are always a great way to throw fun into a system and it takes pressure off the GM to always come up with fair, random events that the players experience when stuff goes really well or really badly.  Overall, it’s a good system that I personally have a few issues with, but you may absolutely enjoy. 4/5

Execution– The book is laid out well, but I have a few minor issues.  Tables interrupt the text, and that is good because it reduces eye strain, but the text begins above the table in the next column, instead of the same column below the text.  I don’t know why, but I kept trying to read below the column and getting mixed up. This isn’t always consistent and might be changed in the final book. It’s not a big thing, but it threw me.  I’d like the text a bit larger and maybe the gray background of the book doesn’t make the black text pop as much. Minor problems, but some things I noticed. But, the book does have nice art that interrupts the text to keep me engaged, and the rules are written well enough that I can easily read what is going on and get running the game quickly.  Also, as a guy who reads tables for a living, the tables are well laid out and make me not hate reading. 4.5/5

Summary-This looks like a fun game that I have a few minor reservations with.  I love the setting. This is fantasy middle east, but not simply a copy/paste of some folklore.  It has its own unique spin that I really want to see played out, and the world here is honestly the largest draw to this book.  The system works well, but I have a few minor gripes. I want to play the d12 based system some more, and once I get past my walk-or-attack aversion, I think I will enjoy this a lot more.  The book is done well, but a little more consistency in the layout and possibly a slight change in background color might help. Even with those slight issues, this book looks good. I know I’m in.  Its 400+ pages of a whole new novel RPG PDF for about $12 bucks. Thanks a great value for something that is whole cloth new. Some established RPG books charge that much for 30 page supplement. And this thing is scheduled to come out in September of this year, meaning this thing is probably done already.  So, I’m in! I can’t wait to read this new setting with a new system from a new creator. Go give this one a look. 90%

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Ring Side Report- Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules

Product– Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules

System-Savage Worlds

Producer– Pinnacle Entertainment

Price– $9.99 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/92743/Savage-Worlds-Deluxe?term=savage+worlds+delu&test_epoch=0?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Super Swingy, but super fun! 97%

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Basics-Wanna do…. Anything?  Savage Worlds is a generic RPG that isn’t tethered to any one world or system.  It’s so untethered to any setting that the first few pages of the book are all the different worlds the Pinnacle Entertainment and others offer.  Let’s dive into this game and see what’s there.

Base Mechanics- Here is where the fun begins.  Savage Worlds uses a dice chain.  When you want to do a thing that needs a roll, you roll your skill die and aim for a 4 after modifier.  That’s pretty much it. Hit 4 and the thing happens. Every 4 above 4 is a raise and does something awesome.  Sometimes damage, sometimes extra effects, but it’s always something good.  If you hit the max number on a die, then got an ace, and you roll the dice again adding to the total.  Ace again? Keep going! Like I said above, this system is super swingy, but fun.

Stats-Your skills and attribute dice are decided at character generation.  Your attribute are Agility, Smarts, Strength, Spirit, Vigor. These are dice ranging from a d4 to a d12.  Most humans have a d6 in every attribute. When you build a character you get dice for a skill, but the skill advancement is tied to each attribute and advancing past an attribute dice cost a lot more than normal.  If you ever don’t have the skill that you want to use, you roll a d4-2 still trying to hit the 4, so hope for the ace!

Wild cards and Extras-Extras are random background people from the mook attacking the bar to the faceless ninjas that you mow down in wave after wave.  Wild cards are special character ranging from your player character to the big bad evil guy. Wild cards get an extra die to all rolls called the wild die that is a d6.  You roll this for attacks and skills, even if you are untrained!

Edges and Hindrances-Something I miss from light systems are feats.  Savage Worlds has edges and hindrances. At character generation you get hindrances that flesh out your character as well as bonuses called edges that give you extra little abilities from being able to hit harder bare handed or bonuses on some skill rolls.

Combat and Initiative-Savage Worlds has roots in some crazy RPGs and none comes out more that initiative.  Players don’t roll, but get cards from a deck of playing cards with the Jokers left in.  High card and suit (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and finally Clubs). Jokers do crazy things to the person who draws them and then after the round the initiative deck is reshuffled.  Each round you get to move a bit and do one action. Actions range from shooting people to doing a skill. Melee attacks means you have to hit the opponents parry value. Ranged attacks have to hit a 4.  In either case rases add an additional 1d6 of damage to the target. If you hit you then roll damage equal to your weapon value. If the damage value equals an enemies toughness (2 + half the opponents vigor die), then the opponent is shaken.  Shaken means your do nothing next turn except try to shake off the hit via a Spirit roll (4 to shake it off, 8 to act normally). If you get a raise on the toughness, than the enemy takes a wound. Wild Cards have three wounds before a fourth kills them, but extras only have one before they are down!

Bennies-Oh story candy!  I love you! Bennies are chips you get to reroll dice, immediately shake of being shaken, and whatever you convince your GM that you can do.  The GM gets a pile as well! Act like your character would? Story Candy. Do something cool? Story Candy. Buy the GM a coke? STORY CANDY!

Character Generation-  A big theme in savage worlds is rules light, and Savage Worlds is really light when it comes to character generation.  Characters are made by doing a number of small steps. When you build a character you start by choosing a race, which may give you additional starting abilities with humans getting one extra edge, then you get point to buy new attribute dice, going up one level on the dice chain for each point, points to get and advance skills , one for one as before, move to selecting edges, then you can select to get extra hiderence to get more points for skills and edges, and finally you get gear based on the campaign you’re playing.  DONE. The hardest part is selecting what gear and edges you will chose.

Leveling up or Advancement-Every good game needs XP, and this one give xp at the end of each session. For every five xp, a character can get a new edge, advance attribute dice, raise one skill above an attribute, raise two skills with values under a linked attribute, or get a d4 in a new skill.  For every 20 XP a character enters a new rank that give access to new edges.

Magic, machines, and maham- Savage Words is system agnostic, so magic and powers a built in but not essential.  Characters can get powers via different routes from the gods, reading books, or simply building a crazy lightning boxes from technology.  All power work the same as they start with getting an edge. The powers have a rank you can get them at, a cost in power point (think magic points from Final Fantasy), and some skills you have to roll to make them happen, if needed for things like attacks.  It feels like old schoo video game!

Ok, enough background, what are my thoughts.

Theme or Fluff-No fluff for this one.  Each world needs its own fruff.  There is awesome stuff here from the Rippers universe where people fight monsters in a Victorian setting with magic, monstrous power of their own, and machines to Solomon Kain fighting monsters across the world.  It’s all fun, but Savage Worlds is anything you want it to be. You give the biggest thing in the world to d12+2 for his or her thing, and then you set the smallest or weakest thing at d4-2 for their thing, and scale accordingly.  You can do Savage Hacks for literally anything from Shadowrun to DnD. If you like the math above, see if your favorite system or setting has a Savage Hack out there, or go make one! -/5

Mechanics or Crunch– Holy cow is this thing swingy!  That’s not a bad thing, but it is a thing.  If you need careful balance where expected results always happen, WALK AWAY NOW!  But if you love you some pulp craziness, then get into this game. Its light and fast.  I play with no miniatures, but many people love miniatures. I just love the math here. It goes fast and plays quick.  The one thing I don’t like is how little the attributes matter. They are important for some things like Spirit rolls and determining toughness, but overall they feel slightly left aside.  As this is mostly a skills game, its ok, but I always hate when games have attributes, but don’t really use them as much as say Dungeons and Dragons. It’s not bad, but it’s something that sticks in my craw.  If you can ignore that one complaint I have, then Savage Worlds is a swingy, amazing system! 4.9/5

Execution– Is this available in PDF since its past 2015?  Check. Hyperlinked to make my life easy? Check.  Overall, I love how the book looks. I’d like a bit more walkthrough on a few things, but once you work through the rules it’s easy enough.  Also, I’d like a bit more tables to break up some of the text for things like spells. It’s a well done book that you can skim through in an afternoon without an advanced degree or major eye strain.  4.8/5

Summary-I am a convert!  I love lots of different systems, but Savage Worlds is one that always seemed off in the corner where the weird kids hang out.  It’s a smaller system, but its got a big cult following, almost like The Evil Dead. And I think that that’s a good way to look at this system.  If you want your standard fantasy where predictable thing happen at predictable time scales, then this isn’t for you. It’s not bad, but it’s not for you.  If you want a faster pace with some crazy stuff happening like a player who is the town poopscooper getting five aces in a row and triple critting the big bad evil guy on the first turn, then this is the game for you.  The system is slick, fast, and low crunch. The book is well put together and reads quickly and enjoyably. That’s everything I want in an RPG, and a system I can’t wait to get back into. 97%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product– Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends

System-Starfinder

Producer– Fat Goblin Games

Price– $6.95 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/222888/Close-Encounters-Hyperspace-Fiends?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Horrors from the low planes in the upper skies! 98%

Basics-Where we’re going, you don’t need eyes to see!  Close Encounters: Hypersapce Fiends is a new book in a series bringing old fiendish monsters and things from Pathfinder into space with Starfinder.  This book bring demons and devils into space, TOGETHER! Turns out hell and the abyss collapsed into one horrible thing and now they’ve joined a tag team battle against the universe, if they can stop knifing themselves in the back!

Theme or Fluff– The base Starfinder game is devil and demon poor, but this book brings all your classics back, and their stats feel like they should.  There are even some crazy fiendish effects on magic, some ships that are stated out, and some environments traps that can affect your players should they enter the lower plane.  There is also story to backup why these two age old enemies are working together to kill everyone. Overall, I like what I’m seeing here as it’s a great way to bring back some fun Pathfinder elements to your Starfinder game.  5/5

Mechanics or Crunch– All the crunch is right.  The CR are good and the monsters hit the places they did in Pathfinder with basic updates of the mechanics to fit the slight changes between the systems. I love what’s here, and it’s going to fit mechanically well into any game where the GM would like to put a Technomancer in Hell.  5/5

Execution– Is this available in PDF since its past 2015?  Check. Is it hyperlinked even though its less than 40 pages?  Check. Ok we’ve hit all the basics to make me happy. Now the extras!  This book has lots a art with the creatures looking like the demons you’re used to but with a Starfinder art twist.  There are demon/devil ships, but I would like a few more and some close up art of them. The art for the ships isn’t bad but its only one picture of the two new ships. The book even includes the rough seeds on an adventure from levels 1 to 20.  Also, my favorite devils the low level lemure isn’t in the book, so that makes me a little sad. Finally the price is a tad high as its about $7 for a 30 page PDF. These are by no means going to keep me away, but it’s something to note. 4.75/5

Summary-Fat Goblin was one of the first on the scene making Starfinder Compatible products and they have really demonstrated what you can do as a third party publisher.  Its some fantastic material. I love putting demons and devils in my game and now I can easily do so. This is only GM book. It’s fun, but honestly players need not apply as there are no player specific material here.  GMs get fun new toys and things to inflict on their players. It’s not perfect with a few minor things like price and some minor monsters being left out, but in total, this is a great resources if you want to put some horrible demons and devils into your game. 98%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Alien Evolution: Cosmic Race Guide

 

Product– Alien Evolution: Cosmic Race Guide

System-Starfinder

Producer– Fat Goblin Games

Price– $3.95 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/223749/Alien-Evolution-Cosmic-Race-Guidebook?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Jack Kirby does Starfinder! 96%

Basics-Tired of just the core races already?  Need some more classic 70’s ancient aliens artwork?  Then I’ve got a book for you!  The Cosmic Race Guide has an impressive amount of new species to plop into any Starfinder game.

Mechanics or Crunch-Starfinder, when it launched, didn’t have a lot of races.  None of what was there was bad, but it was a limited picking.  This book opens up the floodgates.  Nothing here is all that crazy.  The races do follow a pretty predictable formula, but its not a bad formula as everything is balanced.  I would have liked a few racial feats for each race.  But, there are over 10 new races here, so It’s a great place to look for an impressive assortment of new races for any space game.  4.75/5

Theme or Fluff– Here is where the book shines.  Every page of this book feels like Jack Kirby wrote it as the art is completely New Gods or crazy space Thor 3 on every page.  Everything feels right.  You get a full color art picture of each race and its homeworld.  The art mixed with the flavor of the races just belongs.  Starfinder is already a mix of magic, machine, and the future, so adding the proper amount of crazy Kirby makes me extremely happy.  5/5

Execution– I am really pleased with this book.  First and foremost, it’s a hyperlinked PDF.  Next, the art is great.  I would have liked more, but it’s enough to break up any monotony.  The layout isn’t cluttered.  My one grip is the price.  It’s a tad high, but if you want a ton of new races, this is the book you need.  It’s a well put together book that’s fun to thumb through till you find your favorite race and dig in. 4.5/5

Summary-I really like this product.  I read this book the week after seeing Thor 3 in theaters, and it feels like an honest extension of the movie.  You get Kirby, you get aliens, and you get your magic.  Starfinder feels like the 70’s comic vibe will fit better than any serious game play as you have the elements of more space opera than space drama built right in, and this book takes that banner and runs hard with that idea.  I wouldn’t consider this the most serious book.  This isn’t Lord of the Rings, but it is an amazing romp in the galaxy showing you all the crazy kids at the cantina while giving you the rules to play each of them in turn.  Get this book, crank your Flash Gordon soundtrack, and find your next favorite character to play in the galaxy.  96%

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%

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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- RPG Review of Mutant Crawl Classic RPG

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Mutant Crawl Classics RPG

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product– Mutant Crawl Classics

System-DCCRPG

ProducerGoodman Games

Price– $40.00 preorder here http://goodman-games.com/store/product/mutant-crawl-classics-role-playing-game-2/

TL; DR-Fun system, problem book. 85%

The Good: More for future fun for the awesome DCCRPG system

The Bad: Not enough explanation of how things work

The Ugly: Why you no hyperlink?!

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Basics-.  Let’s break this down.

Base System and Combat- Can you play Dungeon Crawl Classics?  Then you can easily play MCC.  This system uses the exact same rules, so if you love the DCC mechanics, then you’ll love the MCC rules.

Technology-A BIG part of the crazy, Appendix N mix of magic and technology is fur-skinned barbarians finding laser rifles and worshiping holograms.  This system builds off that in a big way.  Every class gets an AI interaction roll.  When you find something, the character attempts a roll to use the item.  These items vary from hyposprays to laser rifles.  And of course, this roll uses a random table to determine what happens with interaction.  Pure, awesome DCC/MCC goodness!

Magic, mutations, AI-OH MY! – DCC emphasized magic, but MCC emphasizes mutations.  Pure strain humans can choose several different classes that cover the basics: not-cleric, not-fighter, not-wizard.  They are all MCC flavored, so they are fun in their own right.  The not-wizards, called shamans, are interesting because they choose an AI who give them power.  This follows the exact same mechanics of a DCC RPG wizard and even uses the invoke patron spell to ask for power, but powers are called wetware programs.  It is sufficiently different to be MCC themed but uses the basic mechanics that DCC introduced, so anybody can easily hop in and play with a small DCCRPG background.   

Non-humans fall into several classes, but ultimately are mutants.  These mutants all have random mutations that give them different powers.  The most interesting part is some are good and some are bad, of course on a random chart!  When you gain the mutation, you roll on a random chart to see how it works.  That right there makes these new mutant monsters who range from plant creatures to animal men novel, but still a familiar mechanic that any veteran of DCC can easily adjust to play.

Review Time!

Mechanics or Crunch-This book adds a lot of interesting things to the DCC RPG system, but some of them come out better than others.  Lots of the moving pieces from DCC RPG work, but some like the healer (the not-cleric of the future) doesn’t fare as well.  The healer can only heal twice per day and only a d3.  That means a strong return to the 5 minute adventure day.  The sentinal (not-fighter of the future) does amazing with found technology, but out of the box at level one with no toys won’t be nearly as strong.  Magic/wetware technology is good, but there isn’t much of it here as you need other books to have enough pieces to play with.  Furthermore,   the new things like mutants, plant people, and animal people all work amazingly well and are random as all get out.  Overall, mutants are amazing, but pure strain humans might not fare as well in this new version of DCCRPG.  4.25/5

Theme or Fluff– Theme is the best part of this book.  Everything fits into the lore of the book.  The new classes, the new creatures, and everything else feels exactly like it should.  Hands down my favorite part of what’s here. 5/5

Execution–  Here is where I am the least excited.  Overall the book works, but it’s missing things that would really help it.  There are very few spells/wetware programs.  It’s not horrible;  the book says wetware programs are spells and you can easily use DCCRPG spells, but I want more.  The new mutations are great, and I really love that part.  But, the straight human classes do not get enough of a write-up.  Each class gets half a page, and it’s not enough to fully explain their powers and abilities.  Also, the PDF isn’t hyperlinked.  The MCC system and core rule book works, but you can’t really play this system with just this book alone.  Think of this book more of a supplement book to the DCCRPG core book.   3.5/5

Summary–  This is a book that I alternately love and don’t like.  The theme of the book is on point.  It feels like a post-apocalyptic hellscape with barbarians and laser rifles.  The new mutations and mutants are awesome and fit right into the theme here.  Where things fall apart is how regular humans fall into line.  I would love to run a mutant in a regular DCCRPG game.  I won’t want to play a healer in a DCCRPG game.  Clerics are much better than healers.  Rogues are much better than rovers.  Also the book’s execution falls short here.  I need more information to properly run some of the characters, and I have more fingers and toes than the number of spells in this book.  This is a great splat book, but doesn’t live up to its billing as a stand alone/core book.  Don’t mistake my negative comments as hate for this book.  I love what’s here, but I feel it needs just a bit more to help new players get into this one.  85%

Ring Side Report-Starfinder Core Rulebook Review

 

Product– Starfinder Core Rulebook

System-Starfinder

Producer-Paizo

Price– $60.00  here http://paizo.com/store/starfinder

TL; DR-DND 3.5 IN SPACE!  94%

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Basics-SPACE WIZARDS!  Starfinder joins the Pathfinder universe in the future after a massive, mysterious catastrophe.  Mankind’s homeworld has disappeared, and other races have joined us as we explore the cosmos looking for new peoples, places and our lost world.  Let’s break this down.

Base System- This honestly is Pathfinder 1.5.  It’s a little bit DnD 5e, a little bit DnD 3.5, and oddly enough DnD 4!  The basics don’t change.  Everything is roll a d20, add your ability modifier, then add your ranks in a skill or base attack bonus.  If you want to hop into a Starfinder game but don’t have any experience, you can easily get into this game with about three minutes of reading the rules.

Combat- If you know Pathfinder combat, you know Starfinder combat.  Characters still roll initiative to find who goes first, then when they attack they still have a base attack bonus and add damage based on stats like before.  But there are two major differences, and those deal with hit points and armor.  For hit points, a character now has three pools to draw from:  hit points, stamina points, and resolve points.  Hit points are the same pool of life we all know and love.  They are healed by magic and time.  Stamina points are new, and they represent you getting banged up but not broken.  When you rest, you can spend a resolve points to completely heal up your stamina points.  Resolve points are also spent when a character is knocked out and they want to wake up or stabilize.  However, you can’t regain stamina points through the standard mystic cure (the not cure wounds or cure minor wounds of this edition).  Armor class is also slightly modified.  Now you have two armor classes: elemental armor class (eac) and kinetic armor class (kac).  If the damage has slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning damage types, alongside anything else, the attack goes against kac, otherwise it’s against eac.  Done!  It’s just that simple.  This also causes a reduction in rules, as now all combat maneuvers go against kac instead of having to figure out combat maneuver defence, and honestly, it’s a good trade off!

Technology-This is hands down my favorite part of what changed between Pathfinder and Starfinder-ITEMS HAVE LEVELS!  This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but now technology and magic can compete on an equal footing.  In most magic heavy games as soon as the wizard learns fireball, any alchemical/technological items are instantly useless.  Technology in those games seems like a crutch to get to level five and FIREBALL!  Here, you have your fireball, but I have my level 7 grenade.  Its damage values increase and so does the DC to dodge the attack.  Instead of having to guess about what the DC of an item identify check would be, now you can just do extremely simple math on an item’s level and have a DC in seconds.  Everything has a level which corresponds to a price, which corresponds to DC and a whole host of other things that make the system work.  Outstanding.

Magic-And here is the low point of the system.  Magic now caps out at level 6.  The save against magic is spell level + ability modifier + 10, so it maxes out at 16+ ability.  The save against character powers is half character level + ability modifier + 10, so it maxes out at 20+ ability.  I’m going to be honest and say this feels wrong somehow.  The system works, but it’s different in a way that you might not like on first trying it, akin to a fine wine.  It’s good, but might not necessarily be the tasty thing you hoped for on the first pass.

Spaceship and Vehicle Combat-This is the new, big thing of this system as running around in a vehicle is essential to Sci-fi.  Vehicle combat isn’t hard, but it mostly works by using zones where characters move between using their speed values.  Overall, its an easy system to use.  Spaceships are much more involved, but no less easy to use.  BUT, THIS ASPECT OF THE GAME ADDS FACING TO AN RPG!  That is a sentence the fills me with dread as now I have to spend HOURS fighting over how defenses work on different sides.  However, this system fixes most of that and simplifies it well.  Ships do have facing arcs for weapons and for shields, but it’s pretty simple.  Combat rounds are broken down into three steps:  engineering (science scans/moves shields, engineering fixes stuff/supercharges stations), helm (pilots make checks and loser goes first), gunnery (ships shoot at one another).  Honestly, it’s pretty easy to do, and since there are lots of different things to do, EVERYBODY gets to roll dice during a turn from the captain who can yell or ask nicely for another crewmember to do better/get a bonus to gunners lighting up the other ship.

Review Time!

Mechanics or Crunch-Starfinder is a damn good system, but it’s going to suffer a bit because it gets compared to Pathfinder.  If Starfinder came first, then it would not be an issue.  There are things here like the magic DC compared to item and class DCs that are just a half bubble off.  It works, but it’s not as clean as Pathfinder.  Magic seems much less powerful as well.  That might be a style choice, but it’s a style I don’t enjoy as much right now.  Maybe after playing this game much more, I’ll see the light, but now, I’m having fun but also confused on some choices.  Also, this book needs a solid chapter describing the differences between Pathfinder and Starfinder to get experienced players up and running in minutes.  Small things like shooting into melee doesn’t have penalties, but attack of opportunity to shooting in melee still occur are important and need to be explicitly told to the players.   Overall, this is a solid RPG and system, but I want just a bit more in their already massive tome.   4.25/5

Theme or Fluff-PATHFINDER IN SPACE,…. but it’s not!  It would be really easy for this book to phone in dwarves on a mountain planet schtick and call it a day, but this one has races where your puberty now encompases choosing to grow up super smart or super strong, insects who are addicted to individuality as a community, and even a fleet of undead that are disavowed from the other undead because they are too evil.  The book does have your old races, but they take a back seat to new ones who now are exploring the galaxy alongside mankind.  It’s got a mix of old magic from Pathfinder, the technology feel of Star Trek, and its own universe to draw you in. 5/5

Execution-Look, this book was put out by Paizo.  You can say that some of their books might not have been the best, but it’s hard to argue that they don’t put out a quality constructed book.  Lots of awesome art, diagrams to walk you through, nice text spacing so I don’t hate it when I read it.  My only problem is I’d like a bit more in the index, but those are only minor concerns on an otherwise great book.  4.9/5

Summary-Starfinder is an awesome book that has a few minor problems.  In terms of execution, it’s top notch and a phenomenal resource for how to make other books.  The book tells an amazing story that will draw you into the world and give you ideas on what stories to tell and what characters to put in it.  My one place where I am slightly put off is the mechanics.  This isn’t to say the mechanics are wrong, but they don’t feel completely right.  That’s a minor difference, but it’s an important one.  I will happily sit down and play a Starfinder game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the next major source book they announce is something called Ancient Magic that brings back the nine levels of magic from Pathfinder.  That said, this book is an amazing addition to the Paizo family of products and one I’m glad to get at GenCon.  I can’t wait to have more adventures across the galaxy, stomping space goblin ships and battling reptile wizard people on the moon!  94%