Category Archives: Editorial

Reviews, opinions, and whatever else strikes our fancy!

Æon gets an ‘A’ for Effort

Æon. Poor, sweet Æon. Or is it Trinity? Depends on who you’re asking and if Viacom is listening. This RPG was meant to be White Wolf’s epic space opera, but fell short financially and was cancelled much to the dismay of it’s small, but loyal fanbase. However, the death of Æon had larger reprocussions. As the first chapter in what became a planned trilogy, its inability to generate sales spelled doom for the other two games in the Æon Continuum. I had written a piece awhile back about Aberrant, the second game in the series, which was White Wolf’s swing at the superhero genre. They introduced us to an engrossing, but nihilistic story of superhumans doomed to be their own destroyers. In the time since writing that article, Amazon released The Boys, which is basically Aberrant the TV show. I had a friend text me, quite serious, asking if White Wolf was planning to go to court over it. They didn’t. He didn’t know it was a comic and White Wolf didn’t invent the grim superhero shtick. They didn’t invent the epic space opera either, but with Æon they gave it an earnest shot.

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Unearthing Sorcerers, Warlocks, Bards, Paladins, Clerics, Druids, and Wizards (Oh My)

We’ve gotten so much Unearthed Arcana content for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition lately that, I’ll admit, I had a hard time keeping up! I’ve got a lock on it now, though. First we got a sorcerer with an aberrant mind and a warlock who lurks in the deep. Then we got an Eloquent bard and a Heroic paladin (capitalization deliberate and important). Finally we got a twilight cleric, a wildfire druid, and a name-calling wizard. I think my speculation from the barbarian and the monk is proving true: we only see a swath of content like this when another book is on the horizon. So lets Unearth some Arcana and see what our new varieties of adventurer can do!

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Tachyon Squadron: Starfighter Academy Review

Not everyone is so lucky as to be an ace pilot the moment that they fall into the cockpit. Some have gotten as far as they have due to a lifetime of training and experience. Yet for all of their grizzled charm and “oh you sweet summer child” attitude, they had to start somewhere. Something had to hone those instincts and prepare them for the battle at hand, and this week, we get to find out what. Strap back in for this supplement of Evil Hat’s starfighter RPG Tachyon Squadron in Tachyon Squadron: Starfighter Academy.

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Band of Blades Review

The Battle of Ettenmark was supposed to be the end of it. A great host of armies from the Eastern Kingdoms marching west, led by the divinely-blessed Chosen, to strike down the Cinder King and his undead host once and for all. Instead, it was a slaughter. Some of the Chosen were Broken in the previous conflcits, and no one was prepared for the horrors they’ve created for their new liege. Now the Legion is a mercenary band all on its own – except for a single Chosen who helped to pull it out of the fire. Command has decided that the company’s only hope is to march back east, making for Skydagger Keep. If it can be reached, the Legion might just be able to hold the undead back long enough for the Eastern Kingdoms to find some way to save humanity. But the Broken are in pursuit, and winter is closing in . . . it’s going to be a hard campaign for this Band of Blades from Off Guard Games and Evil Hat Productions!

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Freeform Dramatic Roleplay

LARPs are all about getting dressed up, either with groups of people who got in heavily costumed and shouting spells while others wailed away on each with foam swords or actively plotting about the plots against their domains or the biggest threat to the Freehold with earnest index cards and play rock papers scissors, right? Well, just as there are innumerable styles of play, and people willing to experiment with design of more traditional tabletop formats, there are people who like to play around with how to run different styles of LARP, and I wound up stumbling into a freeform style that prioritizes how people get and stay in character, and what they do to make a story interesting entirely over mechanics.

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Warhammer Fantasy: Rough Nights and Hard Days Review

The year was 1987, and mad science was brewing in the offices of White Dwarf magazine. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay developer Graeme Davis held, in one hand, a steaming vial containing the concentrated essence of hundreds of schemes, plot twists, and capers. In the other, he held the core rulebook for WFRP 1st Edition. With a cackle and a grin, he poured the vial over the rulebook, pulled an ominous lever on the wall and a bolt of lightning crashed through a skylight to give birth to his new creation.

…Or something like that. The details may have been different, but the end result was the adventure A Rough Night at the Three Feathers. Up to this point, roleplaying modules focused on a single plot thread – an evil wizard kidnaps a princess, the king sets the heroes a quest, a dragon terrorizes a town, etc. Graeme wanted to see if multiple plots in a single story could work as well as they did on film when translated to roleplaying games. Judging by audience reactions, he was on to something, as A Rough Night at the Three Feathers continues to be one of the best remembered rpg modules of all time.

With the release of WFRP 4th edition, Graeme and the rest of the development team decided to update the original Rough Night alongside two sequel stories he’d written in the decades since, and add two more adventures in the same vein for good measure. The end product is Rough Nights and Hard Daysthe subject of today’s review. Does the original hold up to modern rpg standards? And can this concept survive more than one game session? Let’s dive in and find out!

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Improv for Gamers Review

“How do I play a roleplaying game?” One might answer that question with a bunch of talk about the rules, and the dice, and the character creation, but that doesn’t quite cover all the aspects of the question. What about the actual roleplaying part? I’ve mused among friends and while teaching newcomers that it’s a ‘learned skill’, but don’t worry about, let’s just get into it and you’ll get the hang of it. I don’t think I’m wrong to say that . . . but surely there’s a way to learn the skill, and better yet practice it, besides just fumbling your way through the first few sessions? As it turns out, there is, and it comes in the shape of a book: Improv for Gamers from Evil Hat Productions!

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Fate Accessibility Toolkit Review

It’s time again to look at one of Evil Hat’s purple books for Fate. The Fate Toolkits, or the purple books, are the cornerstone of Fate rules hacking and, in my humble opinion, some of the best resources for a Fate GM out there. Today’s purple book takes a very different approach than the others, but still provides a comprehensive resource. The Fate Accessibility Toolkit is the book in Evil Hat’s lineup which deals bluntly with how to approach disability in your games, both in terms of characters and players.

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Eclipse Phase Second Edition Review

Eclipse Phase has been in my gaming shelf ever since it first came out. The transhuman horror game has one of the best original settings available in the sci-fi RPG world, but its take on d100 mechanics were dense and difficult to work with, especially when it came to figuring out character creation. Now, Posthuman Studios has finished their work on the second edition of Eclipse Phase, taking notes from the community on the first edition and the reception of their Fate version, Transhumanity’s Fate. Eclipse Phase Second Edition (2e) is not intended to be a simpler or less complicated game than First Edition (1e) was, but what it does do is take the crunch and streamline it, including a significantly easier character creation system, revised faction rules, and a combat chapter which is an easier read while still doling out some ludicrous weapons and cybernetic enhancements. For me though, the discussion of Eclipse Phase begins with the core of what makes the game pop, the setting.

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Unearthing the Barbarian and Monk

A raging warrior influenced by a realm that abounds with beauty, unpredictable emotion, and rampant magic. A contemplative who focuses their meditations inwards, bringing forth their true self. We’ve been given some new player character options for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons in this week’s Unearthed Arcana, and neither one of them is tied as tightly to the Material Plane as your bog standard characters. How do they shape up, and what might their appearance on the playtesting table mean? Let’s find out as I go through feature by feature to examine the Path of the Wild Soul for the Barbarian and the Way of the Astral Self for the Monk!

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