Tag Archives: Review

The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters Review

There are only so many ways you can spell – or pronounce – the name Bob before your players are going to realize that you’re just making up Dungeons and Dragons characters on the fly. There’s nothing wrong with making up NPCs as you go, of course, but it’s a lot of work! You have to name them, make them interesting, and then you actually have to remember to write down what you made up or next session you’ll have players asking why Ba’ab is named Dave now. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that work done for you, in such quantity that you don’t have to make anything from scratch for a good while? How about, say, 500 characters? Think that’ll be enough? That’s what you’ll find in the The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters from Topix Media Lab!

Continue reading The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters Review

Under Hollow Hills Review

How much changes in a decade? A couple years ago I went to my tenth college reunion. I was struck by how different things were; how my old fraternity was simply not familiar any more, and how my favorite late night food spots gave me significantly more indigestion. I couldn’t help but notice, also, how much was exactly the same. The city of Pittsburgh was still the same idiosyncratic mix of rust belt and academic, and the campus very much elicited all the memories I had from being in that place. Ten years seems like both enough time for something to change completely and yet not change at all. And so it is with Powered by the Apocalypse.

It hasn’t been exactly ten years since the start of Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA), Apocalypse World was released in 2010. That said, as the game scooped up awards through 2010 and 2011, we could say that it’s roughly the 10th anniversary of PbtA as a phenomenon. By the end of the 2011 awards season the momentum had built, and Dungeon World, the game that arguably sent PbtA into the next tier of indie phenomena, came out in 2012. No matter your exact accounting, though, 2021 is the perfect time to reflect on a decade of PbtA because the Bakers have released a new PbtA game.

Continue reading Under Hollow Hills Review

Deviant: the Renegades Review

Role-playing games are like most media in that they tend to resonate with the largest audience when peddling a blend of novelty and comfort. That said, the hobby has a history of lashing out when too much novelty is introduced. Consider Fourth Edition D&D. Or Traveller:The New Era. Or Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Third Edition. I could go on, but the point is fairly clear: Gamers like new things, as long as they aren’t actually that different from the old things they already have.

Say, what’s been going on in the World of Darkness recently?

Continue reading Deviant: the Renegades Review

Solitaire Storytelling: Bucket of Bolts

Busted, rusted, set adrift, cloaked in cloth and grime.

This old ship lies still—a relic
from a different time.

Lift the dust sheets, one by one, pry the broken latch.

Up the ladder, flaking paint,
up towards the hatch.

Crank it open, hit the switch, dim lights flicker on.
Yellowed bulkheads, fraying wires—
captains, dead and gone.

In the cockpit, fire it up—engine’s thrumming roar.
Creaking, lurching up towards
shining stars once more.

Continue reading Solitaire Storytelling: Bucket of Bolts

Solitaire Storytelling: A Visit to San Sibilia

My Visit to San Sibilia – A Cartographer’s Journal by Campbell McNevin – Day One

What surprisingly good fortune! The last thing I remember from last night, having had perhaps one libation too many, was staggering home in a foul mood after a series of less-than-civil conversations at the Cartographers Guild biennial convention in Paris. Yet here I stand in the light of day, only slightly under the weather, in the strange city of San Sibilia!

Continue reading Solitaire Storytelling: A Visit to San Sibilia

Fallout: The Roleplaying Game Review

RPG licensing. RPG licensing never changes. In some ways it’s amazing that it took until 2021 to get an honest Fallout tabletop RPG, given the original game’s mechanical dalliance with GURPS and other design elements borrowed heavily from pen and paper games of the time. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until Fallout 4 that the series turned back to its roots and, with the help of Modiphius, got an official licensed port. Fallout the Role-Playing Game leans heavily on the most recent iteration of the video game series; both the mechanics and the setting borrow heavily and almost exclusively from Bethesda’s Fallout 4 for source material. Comparing this game to a Bethesda game ends up being quite apt, though; like most of the modern software titles released by this game’s licensor, Fallout the Role-Playing Game shows a lot of promise and appears at first glance to be ported well into its new mechanics…but in reality it’s hampered by a raft of grave unforced errors in editing and product management. So is it endearingly buggy, or is it hopeless? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading Fallout: The Roleplaying Game Review

Lands of Legends Review – A Thousand Options For Your Game

Adventuring through an old-school-style sandbox setting, or mapping your way through a sprawling hexcrawl? The biggest challenge of playing a game where the characters can go any direction they want is making sure there’s something worth finding in every direction they can possibly go – even more so if the world is functionally boundless. From vast ancient cities consumed by the forest to a monastery of living mummies, from a desert falling into a black hole serving as the hourglass for the world’s life to a barge-bound casino-temple to the god of luck and gambling, there are plenty of options to be found in the Lands of Legends from Axian Spice!

Continue reading Lands of Legends Review – A Thousand Options For Your Game

Kickstarter Wonk: August, 2021

Welcome to Kickstarter Wonk for August! Now, you might be looking down the headings and notice we only have seven games and an honorable mention. Well, that’s because, whether you know it or not, you got way more Kickstarter content this month than usual! Check out my preview of Dreampunk, which is still live for another ten days…really neat game using imagery cards to drive play through a dream world. Then you can read Seamus’s quickstart review of Avatar Legends, the new game from Magpie Games! That brings us up to nine, but you can count Avatar Legends twice if you also read the Meet the Party Seamus put together. Beyond those, though, all eight below are all worth checking out, and should help you ease the pain of missing this year’s superspreader event GenCon. 

Continue reading Kickstarter Wonk: August, 2021

Meet the Party: Avatar Legends Quickstart

A waterbender of the North who refuses to hide behind walls. A firebender who suffered a great tragedy but knows who is really to blame. A scion of great shipbuilders who would much rather create things that helped instead of harm. An outlaw earthbender who has carved a line in the stone and refuses to let any cross it to hurt those behind her. Can they save their part of the world? What stories will they tell? Let’s Meet the Party for the Avatar Legends Quickstart from Magpie Games!

Continue reading Meet the Party: Avatar Legends Quickstart

Avatar Legends Quickstart Review

Water… Earth… Fire… Air. Long ago, Avatar: The Last Airbender told the story of a nascent master of all four elements and the group of young heroes that helped him save the world. Then everything changed when the Legend of Korra brought us the tale of his successor and her many trials and tribulations. But then, as these things go, that journey ended and that world vanished from the screen. Seven years passed, with the story continuing in novels and comics, but now we’ve discovered a new window into the Avatar world. Magpie Games is telling the story this time, and the prologue is the Quickstart for their newest roleplaying game: Avatar Legends!

Continue reading Avatar Legends Quickstart Review