Category Archives: Editorial

Reviews, opinions, and whatever else strikes our fancy!

Loot The Body: Hex Volume 1 – Music Review

Recounting the deeds of an evil wizard over metal riffage and proggy synths. A fuzz-laden journey into the sanctuary of snake worshippers, A trippy story of haunted nobles hiding a dark secret. A cautionary tale that pits a demi-lich against grave robbers. Goth rock through the halls of Castle Ravenloft. An Americana-tinged ode to a remote beacon of civilization. A campaign with an all-bard party going on various famous adventures? Well, possibly, it’s not a bad idea, but not quite. If you like Dungeons and Dragons and/or rocking out, you’ll want to give a listen to Hex Volume 1 from Loot the Body!

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What Does The Game Bring To The Table?

Over the last week or so there appeared the most recent incarnation of a frequent discourse, one about the quality of games correlating with their likelihood of success. Now, that’s bluntly and hilariously untrue, which is clear to anyone who has ever enjoyed a niche of anything in their life. In tabletop RPGs, though, it appears, from certain lenses, to even be anti-true. Games which make choices actively hostile to such simple traits as being able to play them still become sales successes, often becoming more successful than the indie games which old guard designers seem to snark at between requests for employment. Ultimately that’s not because TTRPG purchasers are irrational (I mean, they are, but not for the reasons we’re talking about here), but rather because they’re buying games for different reasons.

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Everywhen Review

Generic RPGs are written for GMs. A game with a setting or a conceit can speak to anyone who sees it on the shelf or reads through its Kickstarter campaign, but a game with no setting has a tougher time marketing itself. Those of us who run games, though, see them for what they are: toolkits. A good generic RPG is the toolbox that lets you build a game, and every generic RPG is a different set of tools. GURPS is the five hundred pound box of every wrench and screwdriver imaginable. Cortex Prime is a massive array of dials and knobs, ready to be toggled for your campaign. Fate is a smart everyday carry pack, providing the fewest tools to cover the most situations. What about others? Where do other approaches fit in between these?

Everywhen is a genericized version of the popular swords and sorcery RPG Barbarians of Lemuria, and it would have escaped my notice had I not seen a well-known GURPShead on Reddit give it an unequivocal recommendation. Intrigued but skeptical, I checked it out. What I found was a game that hit the right medium crunch sweet spot but also had some design choices that made it easy for any GM, novice or experienced, to write exactly what they want with it.

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Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Review

Frank Herbert’s Dune is high in the science fiction pantheon. The novel combined originality and prescience in a way that has continued to inspire readers over the last 55 years; it has also defied adaptation. Both film versions of Dune (prior to the upcoming 2021 movie) were beautiful failures in their own right, and the version that never happened, plotted by psychedelic filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, was so ambitious that its lack of production still inspired a documentary. Dune’s RPG history is similarly troubled. Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium was designed by Last Unicorn Games and held up by licensing disputes. When Wizards of the Coast acquired Last Unicorn, they got permission to print any pending projects, and a 3000 copy print run of Chronicles of the Imperium was made. Apparently the entire run got scooped up on the con circuit and the game fell into obscurity after WotC scrapped further printing in favor of converting the whole thing to d20, which fortunately died on the vine in a new spate of licensing disputes. So, literally two decades later, Modiphius has the vaunted Dune license and has made good with Adventures in the Imperium, their latest 2d20 title.

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Traveller: Drinaxian Companion Review

I’ve previously written about the The Pirates of Drinax, and I believe that it’s for good reason. It is one of my favorite published campaigns, and I would argue that it is the best I have ever seen in terms of being a true sandbox. It begins with a promise that the players are being brought in to take a miniscule star nation operating between two behemoths, and to make it an Empire in its own right and not only is it possible, it offers a chance to have the players take an active stance in the government that is formed. The campaign is not only flexible enough that it offers the ideas that players might want to spurn their patron and carve out a kingdom of their own, but it actively sets rules for how to go about it. There is a story seed for virtually every planet, for which there are multiple populating each of dozens of subsectors. You could likely make an entire campaign about dealing with the Pirate Lords of Theev, a group of politically insulated pirates that operate out of a planet is a surprisingly open secret. All of this is on top of a ten module progression of the campaign as players take a single ship and try to form a pirate flotilla.

And as much as I love it, I do not think I will ever run another session using the rules as written. So, it was with a bit of hesitation that I picked up the Drinaxian Companion. Yet, as a result, I have found my interest rekindled.

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Mechasys Review: Mecha-sized Adventures in Genesys

Sometimes a tank or a fighter jet just won’t do the trick. Sometimes, the best way to deal with a problem is a big, stompy mecha. However, while life is finally returning to Genesys proper with EDGE Studios announcing their upcoming Twilight Imperium supplement,  if you want to be jumping in the cockpit with the Narrative Dice System running the show you’ve been dealing with homegrown material. Now, though, there’s an offering on the Foundry itself which just might turn the tide of your own personal giant robot war. From mecha creation to pilot recruitment, lets head to the hangar to check out Mechasys from Studio 404 Games!

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Star Trek Adventures In-Depth Review

Gamemaster’s Log, Stardate 57252.7. It has been several months since the launch of the New Orleans-class starship U.S.S. Verrazzano, NCC-07302, from the Foggy Peak system. Since that time, I have seen her crew serve with distinction in accordance with the finest traditions of Starfleet. I have also seen them called before a board of Admirals to review their actions and directive violations, and while impressive the fact that no fewer than three starbases have had to be commissioned to deal with the discoveries from their missions is beginning to put a notable dent in the power requirements for the local sector’s industrial replicators. As the Verrazzano is currently away, responding to a distress call from a Vulcan Expeditionary Group, I have decided that this is a fine opportunity to review their so-called ‘Star Trek Adventures’ in-depth, to better understand how they have and will continue to boldly go where no one, not even the rest of Starfleet, has gone before.

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RPGs Have Two Sets Of Rules

Role-playing games are different from any other type of analog game because of their relationship with rules and procedures. When you sit down to play a board game, or a card game, or even a game of darts, you follow a set procedure to determine an outcome. Wargames took half the steps away from board games by introducing rulesets which could be adapted to a wide range of scenarios, the only limits being how many minis you had and how big your sand table was. The early ‘Braunstein’ campaigns started the other half, walking away from simple win/lose conditions in scenarios. For the role-playing game to turn from a weirdo version of wargaming a couple nerds were running to a repeatable, salable product, existing wargaming rules had to be supplemented with rules for writing and executing free-form scenarios which very much didn’t resemble battles any more. Every traditional role-playing game, from the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons onward, has rules for players and rules for the person running the game.

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SLA Industries 2E Review

Are you not satisfied with the dystopia in your life? Is Paranoia too tongue-in-cheek? Is Dark Heresy not tongue-in-cheek enough? Is Cyberpunk just too grounded for what you had in mind? Well, loyal readers, there is another dystopia out there. Combine Paranoia’s sense of humor, Dark Heresy’s grim and dark setting, and Cyberpunk 2020’s love of guns, and you get something altogether different but still, well, ‘British Isles’ in its sensibilities. It’s time to freshen up your resume and go work for SLA Industries.

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So You Don’t Want To Play D&D

It’s wildly common on Reddit: A thread complaining about the popularity of D&D, or a thread complaining about 5e being hacked into things it doesn’t work well for (I am guilty of that second one). Half the commenters will agree that yes, there are so many other games out there, and people should broaden their horizons! The other half will say that if people are having fun with D&D, why must you rain on their parade! And the fights continue, eventually, like they do in all discourse, repeating themselves. But you out there, venty thread creators and venty thread agree-ers, I see you. I know the real reason you’re creating these threads. You, personally, don’t want to play D&D, and either you can’t find a group to play something else with, or, more likely, your home table has you outvoted. Or, if you’re in a slightly better position, maybe you see these threads online and simply can’t imagine going back to playing only D&D (and you like fighting on the internet).

No matter the reason, I know the pain of playing a game you’re not really interested in because you still want to hang out with your friends and roll dice. There are ways to diversify your gaming experiences and be a happier gamer in general. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t involve complaining on the internet. It also doesn’t involve slagging on D&D.

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