Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Starfinder Society Intro: Year of Fortune’s Fall

Product– Starfinder Society Intro: Year of Fortune’s Fall

System- Starfinder

Producer– Paizo

Price– $6 here https://paizo.com/products/btq02eg2?Starfinder-Society-Intro-Year-of-Fortunes-Fall  

TL; DR-Welcome to the sixth season! 90%

Basics– LET’S GO TO THE… museum?  The Starfinder society is partnering with many different groups to show off artifacts of the past.  What wonders will be shown, what friends will be made, and who might want to mess with this display?  

Mechanics or Crunch– Paizo has a solid adventure here, with a decent balance of talking and combat.  The flow is mostly talking for the first half and then combat for the second.  There are a lot of NPCs to sway, so combat might get a little bit left to the side as its really only two fights.  That said, it’s done well.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff–  This is a one building adventure.  You really only spend time in one museum for the entire adventure, schmoozing with different people learning about things that  will happen later in the season’s adventures.  That is pretty standard for the first adventure in a Starfinder Society season.  My one issue is the adventure is pretty short.  Most of the time I run this it’s less than three hours for a five hour session.  The players have fun and the story is decent.  Overall, its a good addition to the first adventures of each season. 4.5/5

Execution– PDF? Yep.  Hyperlinked?  Yep. Solid Art?  Yep.  Good layout? Yep!  This is what I expect from a Paizo adventure.  Things are not perfect, as they give good pictures for everything except for one enemy type, so you will need your own picture.  It’s not bad by any means, but it’s one small thing.   4.5/5

Summary– This is a fun adventure.  It’s short and a little unbalanced in story tempo if you are a combat monster, but overall it’s a good one.  I had fun, and so did my players.  It’s not perfect, but definitely one that I will be gladly running for multiple groups this year!  90%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Dungeon Crawl Classics Dying Earth #1: The Laughing Idol of Lar-Shann

Product– Dungeon Crawl Classics Dying Earth #1: The Laughing Idol of Lar-Shann

System- DCC RPG

Producer– Goodman Games

Price– $7 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/393055/Dungeon-Crawl-Classics-Dying-Earth-1-The-Laughing-Idol-of-LarShan?affiliate_id=658618  

TL; DR-Solid adventure with a bit of crazy ending. 97%

Basics–  Who wants a drink?  Drawn to a small town where a particularly special liquor is made, you find a massive idol barking orders.  Can you find the liquor before the idol counts down to… something?

Mechanics or Crunch– Ah first level Goodman Game scenarios!  These guys know their mechanics, so everything is solidly done with the right amount of random and fun monsters to fight.  My players and I all had a blast killing monsters, searching, and finding the secrets of the idol.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– Overall this is fun, but I feel the ending gets a bit off.  There are a ton of fun in this  adventure and has some crazy turns that are just perfect for the Dying Earth.  There is one problem with the adventure.  I won’t spoil anything, but I feel like one enemy would not attack the players at the end.  That said, if you run it how you want, it won’t be a problem!.  4.5/5

Execution– PDF? Yep.  Hyperlinked?  Yep. Solid Art?  Yep.  Good layout? Yep!  This is what I expect from a Goodman Games adventure.  Solid work Goodman games!   5/5

Summary–  Ah crazy Dying Earth fun.  This with all the other adventures makes me want to read more Vance.  I love the crunch and the design, but I have a few issues with the ending.  That said, you write your own story as the Judge, so fix it on the fly!  This is a solid adventure that I loved, and I think you will too!  97%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Dungeon Crawl Classics Dying Earth #0: The Black Obelisk

Product– Dungeon Crawl Classics Dying Earth #0: The Black Obelisk

System- DCC RPG

Producer– Goodman Games

Price– $7 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/393054/Dungeon-Crawl-Classics-Dying-Earth-0-The-Black-Obelisk?affiliate_id=658618 

TL; DR-Short and Sweet! 97%

Basics–  Time for the trip!  You are all traveling for a possibly once in a lifetime religious trip across the dying earth.  Will you survive and thrive or will you die along the way?  What will your god have to say about the things you do along the way?

Mechanics or Crunch– This is a fun multichoice adventure, but it’s short.  There are three paths the players can take, but the paths might need a bit more.  I like what’s here, but if your players don’t roleplay a ton, you will get this done in about two hours.  That’s pretty short!  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– This does feel like DCC, and now I want to read some Vance.  I didn’t read a ton of Jack Vance before this.  I know its where DnD magic comes from, but that was the extent of my knowledge.  After reading this, I feel its themed enough to feel like a DCC funnel as I kill loads of PCs, but I also feel like I want to learn more about the world this comes from.  5/5

Execution– PDF? Yep.  Funnel?  Yep.  Hyperlinked?  Yep. Solid Art?  Yep.  Good layout?  This is what I expect from Goodman Games and a funnel.  Solid work Goodman games!   5/5

Summary–  This was a fun adventure to get my players into the world of the Dying Earth.  Heck it got ME into the world of the Dying Earth!  I want to read more of this to get deeper in, so mission accomplished there adventure!  The crunch is good with the only real problem being the length of the adventure.  It’s not bad by any stretch, but it is short.  At a con on the last day, that might be a godsend for BOTH the GM and the players as you want to keep having fun, but you need a rest.  But, as a start, it’s a few points off.  That said, if my only real complaint about this product is I want more, then this is a solid product!  97%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Treasure Vault

Product– Treasure Vault

System- Pathfinder 2nd Ed.

Producer– Paizo

Price– $56 here https://paizo.com/products/btq02eav?Pathfinder-Treasure-Vault

TL; DR-Make or buy something fun! 95%

Basics–  IT HAS POCKETS!  Treasure Vault is the TTRPG  equivalent of a Toys r Us Christmas catalog.  Lots of new toys for everyone to play with, from alchemists with new materials, to spell additions that give some extra umph to the fireball, or the fighter with the ability to add pockets to armor.

Mechanics or Crunch– Overall, this book has a solid crunch to the system.  There are lots of new toys that everyone can use and enjoy.  It’s an item book and the items fit with the rest of the toys in the rest of the system.  My one major issue is that some things are left out because they are covered in other books.  Tell me where those are from so I can check the rules out in those books.  It’s not a major thing but it’s enough so I was a bit confused on some new additions in this book and lead me to check out others books for the rules.  Also, the newer rules on crafting are good, but they reference things without giving enough background so I was a bit confused there on first read.  More links to the other materials and books would help.    Good stuff but enough confusion that I was a bit lost as I read through some of the sections.  4.25/5

Theme or Fluff– I was surprised by the amount of theme present in here! There is a framing device where a dragon and a kobold discuss the new items and materials.  It’s enjoyable!  In addition, all the new toys the book presents are honestly fun and more fitting to the world.  5/5

Execution– This is a slam dunk.  Solid layout, easy to read font, hyperlinks, and solid art all make this an easy and enjoyable book for anyone to use. Well done book craftsmanship. 5/5

Summary-This book is another solid addition to Pathfinder 2nd Ed.  The book is crafted well from a technical standing.  The new toys for players all feel fresh enough that players will enjoy them and they feel like they fit in the world.  Even the new things all fit well within the mechanics of the world.  My main issue is I would like more rules to help me understand how some things are used or how some things are done.  If you or your players want more items to spend that sweet, sweet GP on, or or more things to make, this is the book you need for Pathfinder! 95%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Dragonbane Quickstart

Product– Dragonbane Quickstart

System- Dragonbane

Producer– Free League Publishing

Price– FREE here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/409397/Dragonbane-Quickstart?cPath=27806_43182?affiliate_id=658618 

TL; DR– DnD 5e, The Dark Eye, Call of Cthulhu, and for some reason Savage Words had an awesome baby! 91%

Basics–  Time for something different!  Dragonbane is a new edition of an older Scandinavian RPG.  Let’s look at this new yet old RPG!

Base mechanics-  This is the mix of 5e and The Dark Eye.  Everything is a d20 roll where you try to roll under a skill.  More skill ranks mean more likely to succeed.  The solid 5e parts are the notions of advantage/boon and disadvantage/bane.  It functions just like in 5e!  But even more fun is pushing the roll.  That’s exactly like Call of Cthulhu.  You failed a roll?  You can reroll, but things get worse if you fail. 

Combat, turns, and reactions-  Time for Savage Worlds to stride in!  Combat initiative is a deck of cards numbered 1 to 10, so not a perfect copy, but high card goes first instead of high roll goes first.  Players on their turn take an action and move like DnD, BUT you can instead interrupt another action to dodge or parry an attack.  You roll a d20 vs a skill level to attack or dodge and if you succeed, you deal damage or jump out of the way.  Damage is rolled like DnD, but armor reduces damage instead of adding to an AC.  When you act, you turn your card over until the next round starts.  When anything hits zero HP it’s down.

Willpower and magic- In addition to hit points, you also have will power.  Will power is kind of like MP in any other RPG.  You spend will power to cast spells and to do special abilities.  Some abilities and spells have levels where you spend more power you hit even harder.  And just like above, you roll vs your own skill to do the ability.

Ok, thats the basics!  Time for the review.

Mechanics or Crunch– The mechanics here are all the things I love.  Roll under is an amazing mechanic!  Advantage and disadvantage and d20 dice for fantasy are always a solid addition.  Cards are a fun way to do init that is not crazy hard to do, but different enough to be novel.  I love Final Fantasy and adding magic points in is a fun way for me to do something just a bit different.  I love what’s here for mechanics!  5/5

Theme or Fluff– This is the hard part for me about this book.  The pictures are good, the book has a simple adventure AND sample characters.  The worlds looks interesting, BUT there isnt any real discussion of the world and environment.  I like what I see, but I just wish I knew what it was about more.  3.75/5

Execution– This is a free, hypertext, PDF with an adventure, MAPS, characters, character art, and solid layout.  THIS IS WHAT I LOVE! 5/5

Summary-Just go get this.  It’s free and it’s well done.  This is all the toys I love in an RPG oneshot.  It’s got all the things I want in a solid book.  My one major issue is I want more worldbuilding.  That’s a problem I hope is solved in the complete book, so I can’t suggest this enough!    92%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Basic Roleplaying

Product– Basic Roleplaying

System- Basic Roleplaying

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $15 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/24384/Basic-Roleplaying&affiliate_id=658618 

TL; DR– Want to play Runequest in whatever world you want?  95%

Basics–  Why not do EVERYTHING!  Basic Roleplaying is Chaosium’s basic game design for their systems, with rules for a basic RPG and then additional rules to build out different type of games from magic spells, mutations, weapons, and combat actions.

Basic mechanic- This game uses the same percentile system as most of their products.  Take the basic skill or attribute and try to roll under it.  Attributes are your standard DnD ones, but then you multiply by 3 for hard checks or 5 for normal checks and attempt to roll under that value.  Roll under and succeed!

Powers- Powers come in LOTS of varieties here.  Mutations and super powers almost function like feats in other games.  Magic, psychic abilities, and sorcery are more akin to spells in Call of Cthulhu with a character using power points.

Combat-Combat is a bit more advanced than Call of Cthulhu, but builds well and shows its influence on Runequest.  In turn order, you do an action.  Opposed rolls like attacks allow an opponent to do dodges or parries, but each dodge or parry has an escalating chance of failure.  From there you consult a chart to see how hard you hit or miss.

Ok, thats the basics, let’s look at my thoughts!

Mechanics or Crunch– Do you like Runequest? I do, but it’s not my favorite.  I prefer the simplicity of Call of Cthulhu for managing mechanics.  Then again, you can’t get the gritty nature of combat like you do in Runequest.  It’s much less “roll and check your percentage” and more “let’s compare skills/attributes, then check a chart,then maybe oppose roll”  So, there is a trade off of what you want in the game.  None of that is bad in any way, but how deep do you want the game to be?  Some days you just want a simple ham sandwich and some days you want nine layers of flavor. Both are good at the right time.  The one thing that I feel Call of Cthulhu misses is feats or character qualities.  This has it, but I still don’t completely get what I want as its not just “You’re better at X or get a reroll with Y.”  Sure its simple, but I would like that small thing to make this game just a hair closer to DnD’s bonuses.  Overall, solid crunch that misses a few things by a just a bit.  4.5/5

Theme or Fluff– Theme is hard to judge here.  This is the basic game, so its basically for everything.  I feel its well done, but its also VERY general.  But thats on purpose.  If you wanted a high fantasy game or a superheroes game, this book would honestly work for both.  It also has a bit of art and themes for both as well.  5/5

Execution– What’s here is good, but the book just needs a bit more pizazz.  There is art, decent layout, the text reads easy, and there are hyperlinks because this is 2023.  That said, the book is completely black and white all the way though, so even though I’m reading a book on a tablet it feels like I’m reading a hardcover in the 80s.  That’s nitpicky, but that’s the worst I have to say. 4.75/5

Summary– How much you like this book comes down to how much you like how Chaosium handles games in general.  Do you like percentile-based systems?  Chaosium does it the best with Call of Cthulhu.  I would argue the second best is Runequest.  This book feels like the precursor to the latest edition of Runequest with lots of mechanics being identical between them.  So, to find out if you like this book and system, just ask yourself “Do I want to play Runequest set in X?”  If you want Runequest in a sci-fi setting, then this is a good book.  If you want Runequest in Tolkien, then this would be a good book.  I would turn down none of those, so I like this book.  Still, want my feats and some color art, but for the price and all the things you get with it this is a fantastic general system to get into right away.  95%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Call of Cthulhu Starter Set

Product– Call of Cthulhu

System- Call of Cthulhu, 7th Ed

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $25 here https://www.chaosium.com/call-of-cthulhu-starter-set/  

TL; DR– Solid intro for a solid system. 100%

Basics–  Come here kid, want to try to some Cthulhu?  The Call of Cthulhu starter set is a basic intro box set for Cthulhu.  It’s got multiple scenarios, character sheets, and basic rules to help you start playing in about 15 minutes after opening it.  It even has dice!

Mechanics or Crunch– Do you like 7th Edition?  Do you want to learn it if you don’t know it?  If you like 7th Ed, then its 5/5.  You don’t get character generation or most of the big rule book, but you do get enough to play.  If you haven’t played before, you get a solid intro to the rules.  And if you are completely alone and don’t want to start your first game as a keeper (the GM/DM of the system) with live players, there is a solo adventure that teaches rules and will help you play.  I love this.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– Welp, for theme, its Call of Cthulhu from Chaosium.  I like their stuff and think they have a good grasp of Lovecraft, so it’s an easy review-SOLID WORK with the stories and rules!  5/5

Execution-Check out our unboxing here: https://youtu.be/436RBEYEK0s That’s the pieces you get: handouts, rules, characters sheets, and even dice!  It’s done in the style I like as I think Chaosium does good layout, formatting, and text.  It’s honestly everything you absolutely need to start playing.   5/5

Summary– I miss box sets.  The base books are always fun to hold or download, but box sets are always a fun way to get into a game or get a setting to play with.  This is Call of Cthulhu.  I run this monthly, so I love the base system.  This is just an amazing way to get new players and keepers in quick.  Plus for 25 bucks, it’s a steal with four adventures AND dice.  If you want a cheap way into to CoC and to get running in about 15 minutes, here is your easy way to do it.  100%

Ring Side Report- Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen

Product– Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen

System- DnD 5th Edition

Producer– Wizards of the Coast

Price– $36 here 

TL; DR– kind of fitting for what we have been seeing from WotC.  73%

Basics–  Time for the War of the Lance… again.  Learn the basics of the Dragonlance setting and play through the most famous adventure.

Mechanics or Crunch– This book adds a bit, but not much, in terms of game mechanics.  You get a bit of background on the setting’s most famous addition, the kender, and you also get rules for mass battles and sidekicks.  Overall, it’s not bad, but it’s not much.  For this world, I would expect more, especially given the crazy things that have happened with magic, moons, and divine magic.  What’s here is good, but there is not as much as I would hope.  4/5

Theme or Fluff– This is a let down.  There is a story that is decent, but it’s been done.  Why not modernize the setting or deal with the fallout of many of the books?  This just feels like a rehash of things or a reboot.  Couple that with the fact that the whole setting is given 20 pages of background and you get something that works, but it’s not a solid effort.  3/5

Execution-You can buy a decently made book.  But there is no PDF available, legally.  You can buy a computer version via DnD Beyond, but you must deal with DnD Beyond.  It’s got good layout and text, but those two things itself knock this down many pegs.  4/5

Summary– This book feels like many of the most recent setting books WotC is putting out.  There are a few pages of setting and then an adventure.  You have a GIANT world out there with lots of stuff and you get 20 pages.  I just feel this isn’t done well.  If you want to replay the war of the lance and you want 5e to do it, this will be your book.  If, like me, you wanted a solid introduction to the system and you wanted it to tie in to where the world is now, then this will not be your book.  73%

Ring Side Report- Quest Calendar

Product– Quest Calendar

System- Sundial games quest calendar

Producer– Sundial games

Price– $31 here https://2023-quest-calendar.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders?ref=SundialGames23 

TL; DR-five minutes of RPG EVERY DAY! 93%

Basics–  NO GM, NO PROBLEM!.  Quest Calendar is a desk calendar that has a simple story that you walk through each day with puzzles, combat, and a solid story to draw you in.  2022 had a fantasy, world hopping adventure, and this year 2023 is a universe spanning Sci-Fi epic.  let’s break it down!

Basics- Each day the calendar has a picture and a short story.  The back of each previous day gives rules for combat, discussions and short side quests with towns folk, or puzzles for you to solve based on the story.

Dice- It wouldn’t be a RPG without dice!  Each character has a bonus to hit, defense, damage dice, and hit points.  Combat is simple where you roll to hit and if you hit you deal damage.  Deal enough damage and the opponent is stunned.  Don’t hit or don’t do enough, you are attacked.  Depending on your defense, you take more or less damage.  Other checks are the same as if you roll a d20, add the statistic used in the check, a number between 0 and +3 typically, and compare to the rules.

Powers and characters- There are multiple characters to choose from each with their own backstory.  Each character has information from levels 1 to 6 as well as powers and abilities.  Powers and abilities range from one per page things, constant bonuses to actions, or powers that have a limited number of uses before you must rest.

Ok, now my thoughts.

Mechanics or Crunch– This adventure a day calendar honestly is like a daily Shadow of the Demon Lord game.  D20 + a number and compared to the results is a fantastically simple RPG that doesn’t get enough love.  You do not get crazy complex here, because you can’t have crazy options since its a simple mechanic.  But, it’s rolling dice everyday to have some fun and play through a story.  4.75/5

Theme or Fluff– This is a simple story that is executed well.  First, the bad- you can’t have a crazy branching RPG when it’s a linear object.  You’re playing through a story like Lord of the Rings, but you can’t really change what the fellowship does.  That’s the inherent limits of this medium.  That said, I loved the story of 2022 and can’t wait for 2023.  Sure, it’s simple fantasy, but sometimes I just want to be a guy on a world saving quest in bite sized pieces.  That’s what this is, and it is done well!  4.75/5

Execution– How much you love what is here will really depend on how much you spend.  30 gets you the calendar.  That’s a bit high for a calendar, and the calendar is a bit small.  It’s a desk calendar, so that’s a bit annoying and since it is small and thick, it can break the glue holding it easily.  But that’s the end of the negatives.  Solid art, easy to read, and a simple flow and layout make this a fun product.  I love the character books and layout of them.  I didn’t like the markers that the books came with, but they fixed that in the 2023 edition.  I also LOVE the tiny dice.  Those went right into my backpack at the end of the year when I got new ones.  And this year its metal tiny dice!  This product has a few small flaws, but it’s still something I love.  4.5/5

Summary– Will this be the greatest RPG you have ever played with branching story and complete autonomy with the most intricate character build options that you have ever seen?  Absolutely not, but the important this is it is not trying to be.  This is a short adventure every day that builds an interesting world and lets you play a quick game as a fun distraction while also being a calendar?  YES!  And its amazing at that goal.  I continue to hate small things because of being clumsy, but if that is the worst complaint I have with the calendar, then you need this now.  2022 is done, but you have plenty of time to get onto the ground floor of 2023.  I’ve bought myself and my wife calendars and I hope you have a fun adventure in space with me!  93%

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Cults of Cthulhu

Product– Cults of Cthulhu

System- Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $25 here https://www.chaosium.com/cults-of-cthulhu-pdf/ 

TL; DR– Solid Book of bad guys, set ups, and tools 100%

Basics–  Ia! Ia!  Cults of Cthulhu gives you… exactly what it says!  This book is a book of four different cults, adventures to go against each cult, and tools to build your own cthulhu cult.

Mechanics or Crunch–  This book is VERY much a Keeper’s book and not a players’ book, and that’s ok.  This book has new monsters and stats for them, variant spells, and tips for building your own cult.  I am honestly impressed by the depth of ideas for building a cult.  I play too many fantasy games where the idea of how a cult is financed doesn’t come up.  But here, how the money happens is a very important way to build your cult.  Even optional crunch for Pulp Cthulhu is presented!  Players will find nothing in this book, but Call of Cthulhu doesn’t really ever give players much more beyond the basic investigator book.  The crunch doesn’t disappoint in this one.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– Again, this is a Keeper book, but built in a fun, informative way to help the Keeper build a world.  Each of the four presented cults have real depth and personality with individual people and their goals presented.  My one minor negative is like most Cthulhu books, you really only get the 1920s as a playground.  It’s the most popular time for Call of Cthulhu, so I understand why, but I do seriously appreciate the one modern cult that is presented here.  Also, adventures!  There are four adventures against these four cults.  So even if you need a one shot, this book has you covered.  5/5

Execution– I don’t think Chaosium has ever disappointed me.  Hyperlinks, solid handouts, easy reading, separate files, pictures of monsters, and everything else makes this the whole nine yards.  Its 25 bucks as a PDF, which is a decent chunk for a PDF, but even if you just used this for four one-shots, that brings the price down to manageable levels of any other market adventure for CoC.  And it seems that Chaosium is listening and , while I love them, the handwritten notes are hard to read, Chaosium is making just nice plain text ones as well.  My one complaint is I want pregens for each of the adventures, but that is just begging for more on an already solid product.  5/5

Summary– Cthulhu is gonna be the main draw for a game called Call of Cthulhu, so why not have some humans doing bad things for him?  This book is a solid resource that, even if I just wanted some quick adventures and handouts, is well worth the price of admission.  If you want to build your own cults, then this is the book you might want to check out as well.  NOW DO YOG! 100%