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%

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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- 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%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Psionics- The Next Stage in Human Evolution

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Psionics- The Next Stage in Human Evolution

 

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

 

Product–  Psionics- The Next Stage in Human Evolution

System-Dicepunk

ProducerEnd Transmission Games

Price– $20 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/151035/Psionics-The-Next-Stage-in-Human-Evolution?term=psionics++end+transmi?affiliate_id=239993

TL; DR-Angry teens with psychic powers-THE RPG! 88%

Basics-We all want to crush someone’s head with our mind-BUT NOW WE CAN!  In Psionics, you play a person, most likely a teen, whose outsider status has fueled your transition to something greater.  You’ve developed psychic powers that make you now stand out.  However, now secret groups all over the world want you to study, to be a near god, to use as a weapon, or to just destroy as an act of faith.  Let’s break down the absolute basics.

 

Base System-  This system is called the Dicepunk System.  The basics of the dice punk system is roll under sometimes, but not the standard system you expect.  You have skills and attributes, and you want to roll under.  Want to sneak somewhere?  You roll 2 six-sided dice and try to roll under your Speed attribute (a value from 1 to 10) plus your Stealth skill (a +0, a +2, or +4 to the attribute).  A natural 2 is always a success, and a natural 12 is always a failure.  One of the saving graces of Dicepunk is EVERYTHING is a d6.  Dice will never be hard to find.

 

Combat-  Combat is an interesting mix.  Instead of roll under or using a flat skill, initiative is two six-sided dice plus a mix of attributes.  On a turn you can move, do an action, and do some free actions like yell something.  Action range from attacking, doing other things, to using psychic powers.  When you attack, instead of roll under, you roll two six-sided dice then add skills and try to beat a defense value.  Beat or equal it, and you do the damage on the weapon.  After you go, the next person goes, with each turn being 10 second of combat.  First one to die-loses!  Armor reduces damage, but you only have so much health.  When it’s out, you’re down.

 

Psychic Powers-Alright here is the main attraction to a psychic game!  This game uses Power Points for its magic which you spend to power your abilities.  Bigger powers use more, and smaller powers use less.  Psychic powers also have a cost to your health in the form of drain which causes half the amount of non-lethal damage as the power points spent.  This can knock you out!  Also fun is Overflow.  Every time you use some psychic powers, you fill your overflow.  When you completely fill it, you overload and unleash crazy psychic powers on the world and basically become a psychic hand grenade harming yourself and all others around you!  Overflow also fills as you get angry.  Remember you’re an angsty teen, so being angry is a big part of the deal!

Powers basically work as an attack or with targets making an attribute check.  If you throw a car at someone with your mind, you make an attack roll.  If you throw a fire blast at some people, some of them may have to make a speed attribute check to see if they get hit by the secondary damage of the blast.

Powers are divided into three groups based on colors with some subgroups.  Blue is telekinesis, red if pyrokinesis, and green is psychokinesis.  You can level up each individual group, and as you level them up you unlock more powers in each ability and the ability to take subgroups like mastering entropy, magnetism, or luck with pyrokinesis.  

 

Ok, now the review!

 

Mechanics or Crunch-Overall, the system is strong, but it has a few issues.  Dicepunk is a different beast.  It works well, but I always have issues with dice systems where you sometimes roll up, sometimes roll under, and sometimes have a strange mix somewhere else.  It’s not difficult, but it could take a bit to always make sure you’re doing the right thing.  Things are balanced, so it fun and feels fair, but my own personal preferences do take away a bit of the fun.  4.25/5

 

Theme or Fluff– This is the high point of the book.  You can tell the author really focused on bringing their world to light.  It’s got secret societies, anger management issues that fuel powers, stories for character development, and art to make you see what they saw.  The nature of emotion in the book is strong, and the really forms what the story of angry kids against the world.  Some of the aspects of the story are a bit cliche, but that doesn’t hurt this product.  4.5/5

Execution-This book is put together pretty well.  It’s laid out well,and finding what I need is pretty easy.  That’s good.  What I don’t like is the PDF isn’t hyperlinked, and it’s over 300 pages!  That can make life a bit harder as you scroll through the entire book to find what you want.  As for what’s in here, there are a lot of stories, which is good, but there may be a few too many for my taste in a RPG.  Also, I’m not the biggest fan of the art.  These are petty concerns though.  Overall, this is a well-crafted RPG with no major issues in execution. 4.4/5

Summary-If I was going to run a psychic teen RPG, this is the system I’d use.  It’s made well with lots of story starters and is easy to use.  It’s got a few issues like why some things are roll under and roll above, but those are problems you can get past pretty quick once you get into it.  The theme is on point, and overall the book has great execution.  The best praise I can give this book is this-this system feels distinct from magic.  Most psychic RPGs feel like it’s magic with people holding their heads.  Here, Psionics make me feel like I have psychic powers.   88%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook

ProductDelta Green

System-Delta Green

Producer-Arc Dream

Price– $20.00 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/181674/Delta-Green-Agents-Handbook?affiliate_id=239993

TL; DR-Great RPG with one big problem 87%

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Basics– ia ia cthulhu fhtagn- BUT NOW WITH GUNS! Delta Green is Call of Cthulhu if run by the government as secret agencies vie for power and try to keep the horrors from beyond time and space from destroying the world or taking over the United States!  Can you handle the truth?

Mechanics or Crunch-Let’s break the mechanics up and give the basics as well as my assessment.

Base Mechanics-Delta Green is a classic percentile based system.  You have a skill or an ability rating, and you roll under that number to succeed.  As I grow older, I like this no fuss/no muss methods of rolling dice to avoid overly math-y systems.

Difficulty-When a situation is harder or easier than normal, the GM might ask you to add or subtract 10% or 20% to or from your skill or ability total.  Again, it’s a simple and easy  way to modulate difficulty.

Combat–  Combat is basically simple.  Characters act in dexterity order from high to low.  On your turn you do one action.  These actions range from move, shoot, or aim among other things.  For actions that require a roll, you roll under a skill as above.  There is no given dodge roll if you are attacked.  If you haven’t acted in a round, you can forgo your next action to try to dodge an attack by rolling under the attack roll.  Damage is a single dice roll that subtracts from a hit point total.  Go too low on the hit point total and you pass out.  Also, some weapons have a lethality rating.  If you roll in that range, the weapon just kills the target in one go!

Personal Life and Sanity- Just like other horror RPG, Delta Green has a sanity system.  Characters lose sanity and gain mental illness as they go crazier and crazier dealing with horrors beyond time.  This system throws in bonds as a serious component as men and women lose family members, friends, and loved ones.  Think of the PTSD struck veteran, but now add the fact that he/she deals with monsters beyond human ken.  Players may lose family members or whole families as they slowly go deeper and deeper into the world of Cthulhu slipping away from normal.  That level of commitment to roleplaying in the mechanics is awesome.

Advancement-Advancement is a snap in this game as well.  When a player attempts a roll in this game and they fail, they mark the skill with an X.  At the end of the game session, any skill that you failed that you had at least 1% in, you gain an additional 1%.  Also, between sessions, a character can gain 1 in an ability or they can gain 1d10 in a skill if they spend time working on it.  If they do, they lose 1 level in a bond as they lose touch with someone they felt was important!

Summary- I really want to like this game more than I do.  The addition of solid role-playing psychology makes this a great way to blend the theme and mechanics of a world where things just can’t be and can’t be dealt with rationally.  However, combat just makes me irrationally angry.  I don’t like systems where you can’t move and act.  That’s a minor issue as if all the players and monsters abide by this rule, I can deal.  However, the rules as written basically make it better to have a lower dexterity.  You get to react to an attack, but people who go fast can’t.  I can understand not being able to take your next action if you dodge, but this game penalizes people who go first.  Sure, it can be a minor issue if you don’t fight much, and I can deal with not having a dodge roll at all.  But, this irks me deeply to my core.  Therefore, it’s an ok system with a serious flaw. 3.5/5

Theme or Fluff-I mentioned above how much I love the commitment to theme the game has in its mechanics.  This game might even be darker than Call of Cthulhu as this game brings the role of sanity and psychology to the forefront in a very post-9/11 way as the psychology of the soldier is experienced first hand.  The book is full of stories and fragments of people trying to handle the unhandable.  It’s deep and immersive in a way I can really dig, safely and from afar.  5/5

Execution-This is a well put together book.  It flows well, has great art, and the PDF is well done and hyperlinked.  I like the index, the layout, and the whole book overall.  Some things could use a bit more organization, but the book is an exhaustive reference on both the government and the paranormal for new players.  4.5/5

Summary-Delta Green is a great RPG with one serious flaw.  Now, as a gaming group, you can play this however you see fit.  It’s a flaw that you can fix by all deciding that this is how the game runs.  It’s a flaw I will fix instantly in my tables, but the rules as written make me spitting mad.  And it’s just that one part.  The rest is amazing.  I love the depth of little extra bits that the authors throw in about government jurisdiction and random trivia that are in the book.  The art is great and the treatment of psychological factors in our veterans is phenomenal.  Sure, this is a just a game, but the level of depth that game goes into to use these conditions as things a person would experience if they experienced Lovecraftian horrors is excellent. I like everything in this EXCEPT one thing.  If you can get past that one thing, this is a great RPG that really updates Lovecraft to the post 9/11 world.  And since it’s under $20, it’s well worth the look even if you just use it for a guidebook to government organizations in your horror games.  87%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition

 

ProductCall of Cthulhu 7th Edition

System-Call of Cthulhu

Producer-Chaosium

Price– $30.00 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/150997/Call-of-Cthulhu-7th-Edition–Keepers-Rulebook?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Great RPG with an ok execution.  85%

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Basics– ia ia cthulhu fhtagn! Call of Cthulhu is back with the newest edition of the classic horror RPG.  It’s got a new update, a new hardcover, and a new look.  Let’s see How it stacks up to the current stack of other RPGS!

Mechanics or Crunch-Let’s break this one down into a few different areas.

 

Base Mechanics- This is a classic percentile dice based game.  Much like any other RPG, when you are told you need to roll the dice, you roll percentile dice (d100).  The goal is to roll under your skill or ability.  An example would be trying to read an ancient Egyptian manuscript.  You would see if you have the skill Language(Ancient Egyptian).  If you do, you can roll your d100.  If you roll under, you roll succeed.  It’s quick and simple.

 

Additions that are new to the system (or at least to me)-CoC 7th edition my first edition of Call of Cthulhu .  What this system does instead of modifying your percentage in a skill or ability like other systems is the use of ½ and ⅕ skills.  If the test is difficult, you may be asked to roll under ½ your skill.  If the task is amazingly difficult, then you have to roll under ⅕.  Again, it’s a quick and easy way of executing difficulty .

 

Pushing–  Let’s say you fail, but you want to try again.  You want to steal a wallet.  You fail once, but you think you could do it again.  This is called a push.  When you push, you get to reroll a skill.  Failing to steal the wallet is bad as you might get caught.  BUT, if you push, you might get the wallet and not get caught.  HOWEVER, if you push and fail, then it get really bad.  Maybe instead of pushing you off as a harmless carpetbagger, the target of the theft calls the cops and starts swinging immediately instead of just yelling loudly.  It’s a great addition to the risk and reward of Call of Cthulhu.  Also note-you may never push in combat.  Speaking of which….

 

Combat-Combat is quick. There is no initiative.  You have an statistic called dexterity (dex).  Combat resolves from high to low dex.  Each turn you can move a bit and then do one action.  Just like the base mechanic it’s roll under.  If I want to attack, I roll under an attack skill, and the target tries to roll under a dodge or counter attack skill.  If we both succeed , then we look if both are under ½.  If that happens, we check to see if we’re under ⅕.  If that happens, the defender wins.  Each character only has a few hit points and damage adds up quickly, so combat is deadly fast!  I love quick and efficient systems.

 

Bonus and Penalty Dice- Many other percentile based systems have modifiers you add or subtract from a skill.  Call of Cthulhu 7ed doesn’t do this, but It uses something similar to DnD 5th edition advantage system with bonus and penalty dice.  When a situation is particularly good like doing research on ancient Egyptian mythology in at the University of Cairo’s Egyptology department library, you would get an extra d10 die.  You roll this die along with your other percentile die and use the lower of the 10 position dice.  Penalty dice work exactly the opposite.  Say you are trying to decipher a deep one script while riding across the countryside in the dark avoiding horrors from beyond time and space, you get an extra d10 die.  Now, you get the higher of the two dice as you have a harder time doing the skill.  Of all the things I’ve seen develop in the RPG world lately, this is one of my favorites.

 

Money-Here is a weird one.  Characters don’t have cash, per se, they have a credit rating.  This is a rough estimate of how much they can spend at any given time.  You walk into a shop and want to buy something and it’s under your credit rating expenses in a  day, you just get it.  If it’s massively above your credit rating, then you might lose some credit rating at the end of the adventure!

 

Advancement-Every session, a character marks all the skills they use and succeed at.  At the end of every session, the character makes  single attempt to roll over their current skill in that task.  If they do, then they gain 1d10 extra points in that skill.  In addition, characters can also attend school and do a test over their skills and advance much the same as above.

 

Sanity-It wouldn’t be Lovecraft without someone going mad!  When you see something scary or learn a spell, you make a sanity roll.  Sanity is like any other skill that you roll under.  If you roll under, you lose less sanity.  If you roll above, you lose more.  Both events make it harder to deal with in the future!  Lose all your sanity and you go insane!

 

Magic-Magic exists, but it comes with a cost.  Spells use skills like any other action, and each spell uses magic points.  When you run out of magic points, you start to lose hit points.  To cast a roll, a character has to succeed at a ⅕ power roll.  From then on, the character doesn’t have to make a check to cast the spell.  Again, it’s a sleek and easy system.

 

Summary-  Overall, I like what I see here.  It’s sleek, easy to run, and more important, easy to play.  Players are not buried under a mountain of information at the start of the game.  You want to do X.  If X could fail, then you roll.  If you do fail maybe you can push and succeed or things get really hairy.  Call of Cthulhu has an advantage-like system that makes life easy instead of having to fiddle with different modifiers.  Money is easy to handle, and advancement is a snap.  I like what I see here.  My only issue is diversity and options.  You really only advance in things you succeed at.  If I want to learn to speak Aramaic, I have to know it at the start of the campaign.  I don’t freely learn that unless I train which might not happen.  My second problem is character options.  Sure there are lots of cool options, but beyond character generation, character are more flung into situation and can’t really build in a direction.  It feels a bit swingy to me, but that also enhances the helpless feeling from Lovecraft.  These are minor complaints, but overall, it’s a good system.  4.5/5

 

Theme or Fluff-The theme of this game is on point.  This is the 7th edition of the game, so they know how to make a good story with Lovecraftian themes.  In general, you CAN’T hack and shoot your way out of a confrontation with the horrors beyond time.  The book has lots of help to get new investigators into the game quickly and efficiently.  There are even two fully fleshed out adventures that the keeper(GM for this game) can throw at the players to get them playing the day you get the book.  4.75/5

Execution-This is the one area where I have some significant problems.  Things are written relatively well, and the art is good.  But, the layout of the book is a problem.  The PDF is hyperlinked, but finding what you need is still a pain.  The book has over over 300 pages, and I still have problems every time trying to find the credit rating table to figure out how much my players can spend at any given time.  That is a significant problem!  3.5/5

Summary-This is a great system that the layout of the book hurts a bit.  I love the way the system works in general, but wish that it had just a bit more options for the players during the game.  The  theme is on point, and I love what here.  My major problem is the book’s design.  I can’t find what I need when I need it.  I will admit, that might be a problem from me not having much experience, but if a new keeper is having problems, then that’s bad no matter what.  However, if you can push through some problems with using the book, you can easily fall in love with this horror RPG.   85%