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Doomtown Reloaded: Revised Rulebook
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2019 00:33:20

This rulebook is available in physical format with the Doomtown: Reloaded "There Comes a Reckoning" expansion. The rulebook is digest-sized and compiles the expansion rules added to the base game. It's all in on place -- almost! Some rules, like Harrowed Dudes, are missing, so you'll need to look them up on the Rules Compendium from the Doomtown Database (or the base game rulebook). The rulebook doesn't have an index, although the Table of Contents includes most of the terminology. If you don't already have this rulebook from the "There Comes a Reckoning" expansion, I would download it and the comprehensive, longer, rulebook from the Doomtown Database. : https://dtdb.co/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Doomtown Reloaded: Revised Rulebook
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Doomtown Reloaded: RPG Conversion
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2019 20:05:28

The Doomtown "Deadlands RPG Conversion" booklet is a 30-page digest, of fiction, map, and Savage World mechanics for key personalities and relics in Doomtown. It's also available in the dead tree Doomtown: Reloaded card game expansion, There Comes a Reckoning. The booklet's four-page story provides yet another a tantalizing glimpse of the developing Doomtown mythos. The tale suggests the return of the Guardian Angels and a certain Hooded figure, though possibly in a future expansion. My personal favorite of the book is the map, where Gomorra, located south of California's Sacramento, can be spotted. I like how, on the map, it and dozens of other places are small dots referred to as "Strange Locale". In other words, the goings on in Doomtown may not be unique to the city, and similar nightmarish shenanagens may be spread in otherwise overlooked areas throughout the map. The map is yet another hint of the Doomtown mythos of what may be going on. The major personalities of The Fourth Ring, Law Dogs, and Sloane Gang, as well as Drifters and Relics, are statted out. Most of the stats are printed a single page or on facing pages. The background of the personalities and relics provide more looks into the Doomtown mythos, beyond the quotes and flavor text on the cards. For more fiction, just search on "doomtown fiction". Finally, if you want more Doomtown Savage Worlds, pick up the Deadlands Savage World RPG!

The Fourth Ring: Ivor Hawley, Kevin Wainright, The Brute, Bobo, The Harvester, Tyxarglenak, Pagliaccio, Ken Wainwright, The Flying Popescus Law Dogs: Sheriff Dave Montreal, Xiong "Wendy" Cheng, Lucinda "Lucy" Clover The Sloane Gang: Sloane, Barton Everest, Pacho Castillo, Ulysses Marks Drifters: Clmentine Lepp, Genesse "Gina" Tailfeathers, Steven Wiles, Androcles Brokelhurst Relics: Legendary Holster, Tlaloc's Furies, De Annulos Mysteriis

Deadlands RPG : https://www.peginc.com/product-category/deadlands-reloaded/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Doomtown Reloaded: RPG Conversion
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Spawn of Azathoth
Publisher: Chaosium
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/10/2019 14:17:43

This "new" edition is nearly fifteen years old, and could have done with more playtesting with the first chapter, Providence, during that time. I've run this chapter several times, and, while gleefully open-ended, have found finding the information necessary to answer player questions difficult to find, as players, even moreso, may go in directions or ask for details not covered in the book. At the same time, this is my favorite CoC chapter, since it involves various NPC subplots and interactions, that, unlike too many CoC adventures, don't revolve around the scenario mystery (indeed, players may find it head-scratching that everything seems perfectly normal -- but not quite). It's almost like a game of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. The Providence chapter furthermore has curious leads to the other adventures in the book, stumping players who expect clues to be neat and self-contained to the current scenario. The PDF version and printing single-sided is suggested, since this lets you cut out the handouts from the adventure text as you play; I've also used maps, background text, and pictures in the text as handouts. You can also print out only the chapters you need for your current game session. In any case, if your play group can commit to a campaign, consider this imperfect candidate.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spawn of Azathoth
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Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules
Publisher: Chaosium
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/22/2018 23:37:06

Call of Cthulhu's written adventures are some of the best on the market. But The Haunting isn't one of them. It's a very straightforward scenario, but, as written, little of the investigation during the scenario actually helps the investigators rid themselves of the menace at the final location. Thankfully, Alone against the Flames is an excellent adventure to introduce you to the mythos, as well as give you ideas how to run a CoC adventure.

As for the ruleset, CoC's skill check system is easy to pick up for roleplayers familiar with other roleplaying games. However, the way most CoC adventures are designed, investigators have to follow a trail of clues -- and if they fail their skill checks, the game master has to find some way to put them on track again. 7th edition added a "push" mechanic which allows a player to attempt another skill check, which helps address this problem, but we now play a homemade rules-light system that takes care of this.

Finally, of course, these rules are free, and you only need to print about ten pages for each player so they have their own set of rules. No more "passing around the rulebook". I'm not sure what the best free adventure is, however.

SPOILER: I highly recommend removing the glowing symbols at the Church, since they're not even explained why they're there. You may wish to modify the tome found at the Church to contain a spell that will help the party at the climax.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules
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One Shot World
Publisher: Yochai Gal
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2018 18:17:49

Had a blast playing this rules-light ruleset. Great introduction to Dungeon World. Might want to read some DW reviews to get an overview, then use this ruleset to start playing!

EDIT: I think this session report does a good job at "pitching" DW. : https://docs.google.com/document/d/1w9J802SnXhaAVrTlHHAXiAMlZMuQSRXNi1n8A3gZ2bo/edit



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
One Shot World
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One Shot World
Publisher: Yochai Gal
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2018 18:17:49

Had a blast playing this rules-light ruleset. Great introduction to Dungeon World. Might want to read some DW reviews to get an overview, then use this ruleset to start playing!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Big Random d100 Table of Interesting NPC's (5e)
Publisher: Aurican's Lair
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/29/2018 01:07:04

Aurican's Lair's "The Great Big Random d100 Table of Interesting NPC's (5e)" isn't exactly random, and can be used for more than D&D. The free supplement is a table of 100 NPCs. Each NPC has the expected description and stats, but also a relevant plot hook and carried equipment, as well as a link to a picture of the NPC. (I haven't checked if all the pictures work.) Entries were made by individual redditors. Most of the NPCs are better in villages and urban environments, rather than as adventurers on the road.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Big Random d100 Table of Interesting NPC's (5e)
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Random Encounter Compilation
Publisher: Windmill Slam Games
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/27/2018 02:08:15

I was browsing DriveThruRPG for random encounter ideas for Dungeon World (a narrative rule-light game where the players are involved in worldbuilding), and found Joran Heimering of Windmill Slam Games' Random Encounter Compilation. I particularly recommend it if your narrative games are high on improvisation, namely asking the players to flesh out the background "what and why" of a seed, rather than having you do the work.

The booklet is only six pages long, but each of the five terrain encounter charts, each on one page has 100 entries. Each entry is a brief but often intriguing description. The download is for the On the Shoulders of Heroes campaign setting, but can be used for any generic fantasy world.

Frex, from the Forest, Moors, and Bogs section:

  1. Entrance of strange flooded crypt
  2. Elf wizard with human apprentice
  3. Tipped over halfling cart in ditch
  4. A suspicious scarecrow by road side
  5. Carpenter shop owned by old elf
  6. A wounded unicorn


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Random Encounter Compilation
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Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game Starter Kit
Publisher: Greater Than Games, LLC
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/10/2018 05:19:58

If you're a fan of Sentinel Comics, pick up this game! The PDF version is a few dollars cheaper than the printed version, so consider buying the print. The mechanics do a good job of supporting superhero cinematics, particularly the GYRO (Green-Yellow-Red-(Knocked) Out) mechanics, which support more abilities as combat becomes more intense. Other mechanics support superhero roleplaying, including roleplaying, itself. My only minor complaint is that you'll often take, after rolling three dice, the middle die result, which is normative, but doesn't feel superheroic (various abilities will allow you to use the other dice, though). I prefer it to the Marvel Cortex system, since the rules are easier to understand, yet still support superhero roleplaying. As for gamers looking only for a superhero system, wait for the core rules. The Starter Kit, as the name suggests, doesn't include character generation, and only uses premade characteres from the Sentinel Universe. Myself, I'm not a fan of the card game, so didn't feel much attachment to the characters.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game Starter Kit
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Paranoia Forms Pack
Publisher: Mongoose
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/16/2017 05:44:47

Paranoia: Forms Pack consists of a pad of 60-some color sheets. The pad is the same size as the Paranoia rulebooks, and fits in the boxed set. Besides the character sheet, the forms consist of, and have five copies of:

  • ALPHA COMPLEX IDENTITY FORM - 1 page, identical to the wipe-off character sheet in the boxed set
  • ACCUSATION OF TREASON / TERMINATION PERMIT REQUEST - 2 pages
  • XP POINT ASYNCHRONOUS CLAIM REQUISITION - 3 pages
  • CEREBRAL CORTECH ISSUE REPORT - 3 pages
  • SECTOR TRAVEL PERMIT - 3 pages

Forms can distract play by diverting attention, but they can greatly enhance the chaos of the game. Rather than handing a player and waiting for him to fill it out, give the sheets out without the intention of them being filled out. Start off by giving only the first page of a form, then call them out when they haven't filled out the other pages. Or give one page per player, and demand a copy of each form per player. Design a subplot (or adventure) where the players find out the previous troubleshooter party was terminated because they didn't have the right form. The players now must scrounge, threaten, or even turn to the black market or Secret Societies for remaining form or pages. Then there's the ol' giving out the wrong form and demanding the correct one, as well as scribbling Secret Society messages or other important information on the back of a form. And, if you can't think of what to do when the Computer icon shows up on the Computer die, give out (or demand) a form.

The PDF contains the same forms as the physical product. The PDF replicates the entire pad, however, meaning that it's sixty-pages plus a cover page long, rather than only having one copy of each form. You might still want the PDF, since you can then print out all the sheets, hand them to the Team Leader, and have him distribute all five copies of each form to all six Troubleshooters. Should be a little surreal when coming to generating characters. Then have the Team Leader berate the troubleshooters for submitting A5-sized forms on letter-sized paper. Then berate the Team Leader for submitting five copies of A5-sized forms on letter-sized paper. And execute him (after he's executed the rest of the troubleshooters for filling out the forms incorrectly, of course).

The character sheet can also be found on the Mongoose website, in the downloads section. This sheet is a form-fillable PDF.

Have a nice daycycle, Citizen.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Forms Pack
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Paranoia Interactive Screen
Publisher: Mongoose
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/14/2017 03:09:40

INTRODUCT-I-ONN: I usually find gamemaster screens a waste of money. One side has reference sheets I rarely use, and the other side has art that nobody cares about.

INSERT TONGUE HERE: Rather cleverly, though, one side of the Paranoia screen is actually a play area where, during the combat phase, players place their cards on various areas of the screen for both a bonus as well as side effect. Play? I meant more like slam since some slots are better than others. This, of course, means quick play, fast thinking, and hilarity ensuing. The spots have cryptic "labels", such as HELP, CONTROL, and the ever-present INSERT TONGUE HERE -- and, if a certain one of the spaces is selected, the spaces have entirely different meanings, though still related to their unhelpful labels. (I'm not sure how well this plays with the screen at its usual vertical standing, so I'll assume you just lay it flat.) A sheet included with the gamemaster screen explains these effects, such as TROUBLESHOOTER IS TERMINATED, START SINGING THE BATTLE HYMN OF ALPHA COMPLEX, and TROUBLESHOOTER GETS INJECTED WITH HAPPY DRUGS. I would have preferred the sheet itself printed on stiffer paper.

ITEMS OF QUESTIONABLE PROVIDENCE: The gamemaster's side, meanwhile, is part obligatory reference sheets, and another part new material.

The reference sections are: /// PART ONE: DETERMINING NODE >>> Add STAT plus SKILL. NODE Difficulty levels. /// PART TWO: ACHIEVEMENT REWARD LEVELS >>> How much XP for what mission level of achievement. /// PART THREE: IMPROVEMENT >>> XP cost to recover or increase moxie, boost stat, boost skill, acquire new specialist skill. /// PART FOUR: INCREASING SECURITY CLEARANCE >>> You're not cleared for that. /// PART FIVE: EQUIPMENT >>> XP cost for various equipment. Equipment obtained at each level of security clearance.

The new material are lists of ideas the gamemaster may find handy. These ideas are categorized into groups. /// PART SIX: CONSPIRATORIAL MOTIVATION >>> SINISTER / COERCED / IDEALOGICAL /// PART SEVEN: ALPHA COMPLEX LOCATIONS >>> DANGEROUS / UNPLEASANT / ABOVE YOUR SECURITY CLEARANCE /// PART EIGHT: ITEMS OF QUESTIONABLE PROVENANCE >>> TREASONOUS / EQUALLY QUESTIONABLE UTILITY / BIZARRE /// PART NINE: ACHIEVEMENTS >>> SOCIAL ENGINEERING / VIGOROUS TROUBLESHOOTING / WHIMSEY OF THE HIGH PROGRAMMERS

Here're some examples of these lists. Which part they belong to is left as an exercise to the reader.

OVERMEDICATED AND HALLUCINATING / HACKED CEREBRAL CORTEX / OLD-SCHOOL BOMB-THROWING COMMIE WARBOT FOUNDRY / LOYALTY CHOIR PRACTICE HALL / STATELY PLEASURE-DOME DATA DISK JUST FULL OF SECRETS / LEFT BOOT. RATTING NOISE SUGGESTS A SECRET COMPARTMENT IN THE HEEL / BRAIN IN A JAR. DEMONSTRATE EXCESSIVE LOYALTY. / TRUST NO ONE! / DO 500 JUMPING JACKS

PDF VS. PHYSICAL PRODUCT: With the PDF, you could make a flat playing surface for the Action cards, and separate reference sheets for the GM, either as a gamemaster's screen, or other reference use. Plus, you wouldn't want to get that pristine gamemaster screen touched by those grubby player hands, would you? Review the Discussion comments to the PDF, though. Personally, I'd pick up the physical product.

CONCLUS-I-ONN: The Paranoia Gamemaster screen is certainly cleverer than other gamemaster screens, and a useful game aid for those who want even more [REDACTED] with their Paranoia.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Interactive Screen
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Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
Publisher: Mongoose
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/12/2017 22:34:56

INTRODUCT-I-ION

I'll admit that I was backer #1 for the Mongoose Paranoia KickStarter campaign -- and dropped my pledge several days later. None of the original game designers? No James Holloway art? Cards?? I was quite happy with my first edition Paranoia, with its Falls from Great Height chart and specialized skill trees. And, I'd like to think that Paranoia isn't a game where you know all the rules. It's an atmosphere you create with the game as a framework. So, with that level of skepticism, I passed on the KickStarter, thinking that I pretty much had a High Programmer's trove of Paranoia, from first edition through XP.

Well, you know how dangerous thinking is with Paranoia.

OUT OF THE BOX

The boxed set comes with three softcover digest sized books: Player Handbook, Gamemasters Handbook, and Mission Book. Additional Player Handbooks can be purchased separately. The set also has 110 cards, four regular dice, one Computer die, and six wipe-off character sheets. The graphic design and art are perfectly fine (and the books are entirely in color), with the artwork a splended "next generation" of uncomfortableness suited for the complex of Paranoia.

PLAYERS HANDBOOK

The Player's Handbook covers character generation, basic actions, moxie, and combat. The game is appropriately rules-light and don't expect the gamemaster to follow them, either.

Character Generation: You have Attributes, and you have Skills. Random generation? Spending points? You may have remembered the Amber roleplaying game (okay, you didn't), where you bid against the other players to rank your ability score against them. Well, Paranoia has another "meta-generation" mechanic, where you screw your buddy before your character is made. Starting with the player to the left of the gamemaster, you pick a Skill (not Attribute) at level 1. Okay. Except that the player to that player's left gets the same Skill at NEGATIVE level 1. Then, it's that person's turn to pick a different Skill at +1. Once every player has a +1 and -1 Skill level, it goes to +2 and -2. Then +3 and -3. You get the idea. And, nope, you can't select a skill you already have (no adding a positive to your negative skill), and, double-nope, the direction of skill chargen is to the left, you're not going to get back at the player who gave you the NEGATIVE skill level -- at least not yet!

Okay, you do, thank The Computer. From the Skills you will generate your Attribute values, except that, yep, the player to the left, the same player who's received all these negative skill levels, gets to assign the values to the attributes. And, also, before you met your frienemies, you picked three adjectives to describe your character, such as "handsome, brave, loyal", and that player to your left gets to change one of the adjectives to its opposite. So you could be "ugly, brave, loyal", "handsome, chicken-hearted, loyal" or even "handsome, brave, traitorous filthy terrorist mutant scumbag". (Oh, and any rumors you have have heard about ditching Communists for Terrorists are untrue. Report to re-education for brainscrubbing.)

You can, of course, create characters in the boring conventional way (or use, gasp, pre-gens). Players can improve their stats by burning their Moxie and even Clone lives, but tell 'em later, once you and your bretherin find your comfort (or at least dead traitor) zone with the system. (I think the record number of clone executions in a briefing I've had was five. For a single player.)

Basic Action: Roll dice. Specifically, the GM tells you what Attribute and Skill, equipment, and other modifiers you will use, and you roll that number of dice. This is called your NODE, which is short for "Number of Dice [You're still not cleared for that]". For every five or six, you succeed. You need blah number of successes depending on the difficulty level. Huzzah! But, wait. What if your total number of dice is negative because your CHUTZPAH attribute is 0 and your STEALTH skill is -3 and you're sneaking past two Blue IntSec guards with neuro whips and too much free time? The Computer, in its infinite glory, encourages troubleshooters to try new challenges, and allows you to still roll the absolute value (hah! you thought you'd only use it once in that other RPG) of dice. Except that, for every one through four, you subtract a success. Huzzah! Oh, and did we mention that The Computer has blessed you with an additional credit-free die you roll with the six replaced with an icon of our beloved Computer (and not a Ghostbusters symbol)? The result of rolling this icon is that you lose one Moxie of stress and also [you're not cleared for that]. And the regular dice you roll are a combination of white high-programmer plastic with black infrared pips, so make sure you don't touch the white part when rolling the dice.

Moxie: So we've mentioned Moxie twice, and it's (ugh) hit points. But it's roleplaying hit points! Much like Call of Cthulhu's Sanity Points, where the more earnest players would say, "Hey, pass the Necronomicon", when you run out of Moxie (you can also spend it on stuff like rolling an extra die and [you're not cleared for that]), you can play one of your adjectives to the hilt, or the GM can roll your roleplay on the Losing It table. (Strangely enough, the text says that when you've lost all your Moxie, you may feel "All-consuming hatred of something or someone in the immediate area" which seemed to be SOP for most Paranoia players I've encountered even before combat.) You can regain Moxie through stimulants, spending XP, or activating a new clone. (You gain XP through surviving missions, achieving other objectives, and other Alpha Complex carrot sticks. You can spend XP on Moxie, Equipment, Clearance Level and... what happened to credits? What do you mean by "credits", Citizen??)

Combat: Combat consists of rolling a number of dice based on your VIOLENCE and GUNS, and saying "I hit it". Well, not just that. Each combat, player will receive a hand of shiny color cards, called Action Cards, typically one hand of four for the entire combat. Each round, each player chooses an Action card. After every player places their card face-down, the GM counts down, from high to low, and a player reveals his Action card at the Action Order number on the card. Okay, not just that. A player claims his Action card is at such-and-such a number (preferably higher than the other player pointing his laser barrel at them), and any other player may challenge him. If the challenger is wrong, the challenger loses an Action card. If the challenger is right, the challenging player immediately gets to make an action (so can have more than one action during a combat round), and the challenged player discards the card and takes a Basic Action at the end of the round. (So look forward to claims and challenge cards when players only have Action Order 0 cards in their hands!) You can always perform a Basic Action instead of playing and discarding what's written on the card. Yes, I do think that player wielding a Megaphone that lets him to act at Action Order CHUTZPAH +3 works in tandem with his laser pistol (until somebody like the GM gets tired of it and shoots him). Equipment cards and Mutant Powers cards are also Action cards. (Although they have no Action Order number, I suppose you could use your Secret Society and Bonus Duty cards as Action cards if your real-life Chutzpah was high enough...). And some of the Action cards are Reactions, used only during another player's turn (including GM). You can still play Paranoia with just Basic Action roll. But I think the cards do a good job as inspiration to do crazy things you might not think of at the moment. The cards certainly don't restrict options during combat. (Myself, I'm thinking of sticking post-its over the text of each card to encourage good roleplaying.) Paranoia also has wounds, which are entirely different from hit points (of course not). For every additional success rolled during combat, the target suffers a wound. Wound states are Hurt, Injured, Maimed, and Dead. Sadly, "vaporized" is no longer a status (and the Falling From Great Heights table seems to be misplaced), but, hey, there's always that computer icon on the red die when that character is out of Moxie...

GAMEMASTERS HANDBOOK

Much like previous editions of Paranoia, the boxed set does a very good job of providing the gamemaster helpful advice -- including for breaking rules -- to help him run a game of Paranoia. The handbook also tells us about Alpha Complex: Alpha Complex itself, The Computer, DAIVs, the Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed ("All data is recorded and stored. Not analyzed, however."), XP points (treason stars are still used, but gasp credits are now gone -- and, yes, Free Enterprise has something to say about that!), while service groups and societies have pretty much been relegated to a mention. Wait. Credits are gone?? Among other changes, Paranoia uses XP instead of credits to purchase equipment, luxuries, and higher security clearance levels. DAIVs are Deviant Artificial Intelligent Viruses, which the Computer is naturally afraid of, and will shut down entire sectors to get rid of. And, of course, DAIVs can infect a clone's Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed. The Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed is a HUD-slash-augmented virtual reality that every clone has (specifically every clone has Cerebral Coretech hardware on the inside of his skull). It's a useful way for the Computer to transmit data, and slow burn way for the Computer to helpfully interfere with troubleshooter activity. Alpha Complex does have "dead zones" which a gamemaster can conveniently use whenever troubleshooters need to or otherwise can do treasononus acts, like Secret Society shenanigans. Speaking of which...

About a fourth of the book are the secret societies (including Communist, which I though was announced as [REDACTED]). Personally, I thought the Secret Societies didn't get enough attention in previous editions (about half a page in first, second, and XP editions). Here, the gamemaster is provided specific tasks he can drop into an adventure, and bennies he can hand out to secret society members. We're also given some paragraphs of several High Programmers involved in their secret societies, as well as an "alignment graph" so gamemasters have a high-level view of how the secret societies have overlapping and opposing interests.

With Paranoia being a rules-light game system with its own uniquely absurd atmosphere, the Gamemasters Handbook also encourages you to modify and even relegate to heresay and rumor any aspect of Alpha Complex that you wish. It shouldn't be too difficult to bring back CBay (or, at least, Free Enterprise's attempts to bring it back!) or the ever-popular tongue-tattoo ID. ("Show me your ID." "NYAAAHH..." Fun times.)

MISSION BOOK

Although conventionally last, this book actually should be read first. The book consists of three related missions, and a new version of the classic White Wash scenario. The first mission actually starts the players at Infrared level (completely with bossy Red troubleshooter), and gradually introduces the game mechanics. Given Paranoia's rules-light game system, a gradual introduction isn't necessary, but not all gaming groups will be used to its game style, and it's novel for regular Paranoia players to play as Infrareds. The next two missions are of the more conventional SNAFU side. I did feel that, compared to first edition Paranoia adventures I own, NPCs took a greater role in the missions, and the missions were not as detailed as other adventures (not that a rules-light game system has to be). The missions do have more involvement by Secret Societies, which I felt was overlooked in adventures from previous editions. So, overall, while relatively lightweight, you do get four missions versus one in (some) previous versions.

CARDS

One reason I overlooked the KS was that I thought the cards were going to be the focus of the game. They're not. Think of them as mini-supplements, player inspiration, that sort of thing. Whee.

EQUIPMENT CARDS: The boxed set comes with twenty-two Equipment cards. Paranoia has three categories of equipment: Regular, Non-Standard, and R&D. Regular equipment, such as laser pistols and armor, don't have cards, nor does R&D equipment (you know what this stuff is). Non-Standard equipment includes combat-oriented stuff like The Minigun and Grenade X3, with some odd but usefull stuff like a Friction Enhancer and Fake Moustache. Their Action Order (see Combat) is an attribute plus a number, such as CHUTZPAH + 4 for the Fake Moustache. The add NODE dice based on their level, such as SMALL Level 1 for the aforementioned Fake Moustache. Equipment cards have additional text, which can be easily covered up with a small Yellow clearance Post-It if the Gamemaster so desires. In the meta-spirite of Paranoia, you could make additional Equipment Cards, hand them to players you don't like, then, later in the game after they've used the cards, question them why their Equipment Cards look like some gamer scrawled on them when they shoule using official shiny color Paranoia boxed set cards.

SECRET SOCIETIES: The boxed set comes with fifteen Secret Society cards, two printed with "NO SECRET SOCIETY" and two of the Computer's own Internal Security Secret Society (yep, it's official). During character generation, the Gamemaster deals each player a card. This assists character conflict, since each player will be in a different Secret Society (the Gamemaster Handbook's Secret Society chapter does give suggestions for faction play.) If you do enjoy factions (always fun to root out the competing splinter group, or participate in a friendly competition against your fellow Death Leopards), just make photocopies or use the PDF version. Use treasonous Magic the Gathering cards as backs, slip the card and photocopy into the card sleeve, slip the secret message from the player's Secret Society also into the card sleeve, maybe or not maybe tell the player that he has a secret message, and have his secret society chew him out when he doesn't find it. The cards are essentially player aids, to give them something sneaky to do. That's always a good thing.

BONUS DUTY: A set of six cards, either the team leader or The Computer assigns the role of each party member to their duty during the mission: Team Leader, Science Officer, Happiness Officer, Combat Officer, Equipment Officer, and Loyalty Officer. Again, these cards are player aids, assisting overt roleplay, as troubleshooters obstrusively abuse their role to annoy their fellow party members.

YOU ARE NUMBER ONE: A single pretty card that the troubleshooters will compete for to be The Computer's special [REDACTED] to receive special treatment from NPCs and The Computer. Use arbitrarily. Reassign favor when warranted and/or bored.

PDF SECTOR vs. PROCESSED DEAD ORGANIC MATTER WITH SPLENDED BINDING

Paranoia also comes in PDF format, but the cards and computer die make me recommend the boxed set. The Players Handbook, GM handbook, and Mission Book are separate books so there's none of that icky sharing stuff (at least between the GM and the riff-raff). The boxed set also comes with wipe-off character cards, or you can download an editable PDF from the Mongoose website. You're entirely welcome, citizen.

CONCLUSION

Paranoia's latest incarnation is a streamlined, rules-light, game system with new mechanics that should be easy to follow, and additional ideas you can add or ignore at your leisure. The missions were, imo, a little light, but, considering how much I ignored and faked my way through earlier edition adventures, I'm not going to worry about that. There is nothing to worry about. The Computer has everything under [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED].



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
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Savage Tales of Horror: Volume 1
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/05/2017 06:21:13

Introduction: Savage Tales of Horror is a three-volume set of independent adventures for the Savage Worlds roleplaying game. Even though Savage Worlds has its Savage Worlds Horror Companion, these scenarios can be played with just the core rules. The adventures are based on different Savage World settings, but, again, only the core rules are necessary. This is definitely an unusual approach for adventure collections, which typically center around only one roleplaying game setting. However, given the mortality rates in horror, and gaming groups who can only meet for a one-shot game, these collections are an excellent way for roleplayers to play a variety of horror settings without having to learn another roleplaying game system. They also introduce the gaming group to Savage World's other game systems, which they might not otherwise be exposed to. Many foes have special abilities, so you should be familiar with combat in the Savage World game system. Spoilers ahead, of course. (fwiw, The reviews of the Savage Tales volumes were written in reverse order. Comments common to all three tales are included in all three reviews.)

Face Snatchers: A witch! A witch! Burn her! This generic fantasy adventure finds the players forced by the town to judge a poor elderly woman to be burned at the stake. The mayor says she's a witch, the priest doesn't, and the only witness is a young child. The night turns into chaos as the real witch(es) take vengeance against the town with their minions, former villagers with no faces. Townsfolk are captured, and, as the Mayor proclaims, it's up to the heroes to "track the fiends". While there's plenty of activity before the Final Boss Fight, the gamemaster might wish to add a few encounters in the lair (with root-based monsters) before the final scene. The climax has some creativity, as the witches and their familiars can try to dupe the heroes in various ways.

Cold Storage: Written by Savage Worlds game designer, Shane Lacy Hensley, Cold Storage takes place in 1965, and the players are "all young and beautiful actors and actresses looking for their big break." They'll be attending a party on a great ship to "hobnob with directors, casting agents, movie stars, and other hopefuls." Except they find themselves in the cold freezing water of Alaska, as they see the ship behind them, inverted, and sinking into the water. The survivors enter the only building in the area, whose only activity is a Christmas party held at... 34 degrees Fahrenheit. The party starts off with several eccentric NPCs treating the characters very strangely, ending with a repentant NPC who tells one of the players what's going on and how they can escape. Myself, I would have preferred the players becoming suspicious, but gradually building up the creepiness, and finding out the situation and escape routes on their own. The adventure bills itself as an homage to EC Comics, so I guess that's an explanation for the unsubltety of the adventure.

The Retreat: The Retreat starts off with an homage to The Evil Dead, then turns into monstrous not-exactly zombiefest, including fractious survivor factions that must be dealt with. Rather than ally with any particular faction, event-driven encounters move the party from one faction to another, until they finally find the key to their escape. The adventure is on the linear side and assume the players act as heroes, but, otherwise, quickly executes its novel encounters, and includes some story seeds the gamemaster can further develop. Of the Savage Tales of Horror adventures, I like this one the most, although I still recommend volume three's LARP adventure for beginning gamemasters and players.

Manor of Blood: Set in London, in the early 1900's, the players are members of the Society for Psychic Truth, something of an agency of occult detectives. Sir Findley has inherited his estranged father's house, rumored to be haunted. The members must either prove the house is safe, or put the spirits to rest. The ending could have used a few more hints, but, at least it's a change from the usual ghostly tropes. I think I would have liked more adventures similar to this one.

Moonshine Blues: The suspicious death of bootlegger Whitey leads to more pulp action than pulp horror as the investigators are soon hired by pristine personality, Ruby Ray, to track down the man's killer. Ruby insists his bodyguard, former Boxer "Locomotive" Mike, accompanies them. Assuming the party is heroic (or foolish) enough to accept Ray's temporary employment, they will encounter icthynites, transforming swamp people, a mad scientist, the Black Hand mob, a roomful of undead guests, including one that only speaks Spanish. The adventure is set in Deadlands Noir, with notes on how to convert it to non-Deadlands noir settings.

Conclusion: I would describe these Savage Tales of Horror as adventures, as much as horror. Characters can fight off most of the threats, though the foes are often flexible enough for a game master to adjust ad hoc. Some investigation and stealth is necessary. Some of the adventures are on the linear side and assume heroic action by the characters. And, as said, the adventures are for different Savage Worlds, so they're best played by players who prefer or can only play one-off adventures. The Retreat stands out as, I think, easier to run and action-packed enough for players. The LARP adventure from volume three I would recommend for new gamemasters and players.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Tales of Horror: Volume 1
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The Sixth Gun: Figure Flats
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/30/2017 16:02:19

Introduction: I find it somewhat ironic that Savage Worlds, an RPG game system that supports miniatures, has unique game settings that, if you play several of them, become expensive if you wanted miniatures for each of the settings. That is, while you'd be able to use your generic western miniatures in both Deadlands and Sixth Gun, it's unlikely you could use them for Deadlands: Noir or Last Parsec. So, while Pinnacle Entertainment Group has miniatures for soem of their settings, they also have 3D fold-up "figure flats" so you can have inexpensive paper miniatures for your games -- and you don't have to paint them, either!

The illustrations on the figure flats are typically front-views with a silhoutte for the back of the figure. The figures only have a white background, and the same illustration is used for a non-unique figure (ie. all the cowboys in the Sixth Gun figure flat have the same picture). The artist is Cheyenne Wright, although you should expect a comic book image, rather than the full art of his other Savage Worlds illustrations. The miniature size defaults to about 25mm, but you can change the scale for larger miniatures. The preview pics should give you a good idea of the miniatures.

Of the eight page PDF, one page is a cover illustration, three are of human-sized miniatures, and three are one-page overhead views of gigantic creatures. The PDF comes with singles of the unique characters, and five to twelve copies of non-unique ones.

Unique: Becky Montcrief Drake Sinclair Billjohn O'Henry Brother Roberto Kirby Hale Gord Cantrell General Oliander Hume Missy Hume "Filthy" Ben Kinney Silas "Bitter Ridge" Hedgepeth "Bloodthirsty" Bill Sumter "Old" Will Arcene Asher Cobb Griselda

Non-Unique: Cowboys Pinkertons Husks Indians Griselda Serpent Men

Gigantic creatures: Thunderbird The Winter Wolf Great Wyrm

As a miniature painter, I found these flats to be useful for reference in painting the Savage Worlds Sixth Gun RPG metal Miniatures Set (Becky Montcrief, Drake Sinclair, Gord Cantrell, Brother Roberto, Billjohn O’Henry, Missy Hume, Asher Cobb, and General Oliander Bedford Hume). However, if you don't paint or don't plan to play with these personalities in your Sixth Gun games, you're better off with the figure flats. You can use many of these miniatures in weird west and generic western games, and make multiple copies.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Sixth Gun: Figure Flats
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Savage Tales of Horror: Volume 2
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/14/2017 01:21:41

Introduction: Savage Tales of Horror is a three-volume set of independent adventures for the Savage Worlds roleplaying game. Even though Savage Worlds has its Savage Worlds Horror Companion, these scenarios can be played with just the core rules. The adventures are based on different Savage World settings, but, again, only the core rules are necessary. This is definitely an unusual approach for adventure collections, which typically center around only one roleplaying game setting. However, given the mortality rates in horror, and gaming groups who can only meet for a one-shot game, these collections are an excellent way for roleplayers to play a variety of horror settings without having to learn another roleplaying game system. (LARP of Horror can also be played as an origins chapter of modern-day heroes.) They also introduce the gaming group to Savage World's other game systems, which they might not otherwise be exposed to. Many foes have special abilities, so you should be familiar with combat in the Savage World game system. Spoilers ahead, of course. (fwiw, The reviews of the Savage Tales volumes were written in reverse order. Comments common to all three tales are included in all three reviews.)

Love on the Mountain: Set in the Deadlands, Love on the Mountain has the party on a lovelorn adventure to help out the tenderfoot Merle King find his beloved Jo Ann in the mountains, "captured" by the bearlike Claude Clifton. With this being the Deadlands, a the posse discovers, soon enough, that this is not a mundane adventure. The "hook" of the adventure, I thought, was a little forced, assuming the players would side with the romatic Merle without doing some investigation and fact-checking ahead of time. The NPCs, however, are quite colorful, so, if you or another player enjoy personalities (both major and minor NPCs) in your adventures, you'll find plenty of opportunities. Also, for those gamemasters who enjoy chewing the scenario, the encounters of the mountain path do a good job building up the atmosphere. (Practice a little sleight of hand when you draw cards from the playing deck, or preselect the cards -- BLACK cards -- ahead of time!) For those gamemasters who like to pillage adventures, Love on the Mountain has a gang of disreputable cowboys he can use as enemies for other old west adventures, as well as those spooky mountain encounters I mentioned.

Skitters: A modern-day adventure, Skitters has the players as a cast of researchers in a small town (it's not Mayberry RFD, but it sure comes to mind!), investigating sheep disappearances that have no sign of wolf or other activity. As minor characters, the NPCs have easily run personalities, so you can let players play the town gossip, the excited farmer whose sheep have disappeared, the mayor who doesn't want a town panic, and so on. Inevitably, the local air force is called in, but the adventure has hooks to keep the researchers involved as key support in defeating the menance, as well as following up on its demise. Strange that the bones of the sheep still can't be found. Oh, and did anyone check that the cave network of the spider is attached to the town sewers? You'll have to set up the town vs. spiders miniature battle if you want, but stats are provided. The adventure comes with NPC townsfolk and a research team of pregenerated characters.

Blood on Ice: The adventure opens with the characters as members of Artemis Security and Intelligence, escorting four American university prfessors to a conference on democratic governance. The party is overworked, stressed, and tired, but this is just the opening of the adventure, as militants attack the escort. The co-founder of ASI himself offers the party a rest in Washington, followed by a security investigation job at Jukkasjärvi, Sweden’s famous Frozen Hotel. At the Frozen Hotel, the party is greeted by Sven Helvete, the CEO/Owner, and Axel Nyquist, Chief of Security. Helvete discusses how nine of his security staff members have been murdered over the past two weeks. The killers seem to be using some kind of trained wolf or bear in their attacks. Helvete thanks the team for taking this job, while Nyquist resents the outsiders. Helvete suspects his neglect to maintain the Kyrka, a rarely used local religious building and former tourist location, has something to do with it, since a protest by some locals happened a few months before the strange attacks around the Kyrka grounds. The adventure has some good ideas on how modern-day supernaturals would function in today's world, but I thought the second half of the adventure was too linear, assuming the players would act a certain way, and lacking subtlety, with the supernaturals revealing their hand rather than erring on the side of caution and secrecy. Still, if you want an action movie rather than a guarded secret, then this adventure should work for your group.

LARP of Horror: "To Arms, defend the town!" Or, at least the barn. A LARP ritual goes awry, as a demon is released, subjugating our poor heroes into a series of teenage horror movie and vampire slayer tropes. The scenario is linear, with NPCs often telling the players what to do, but, since the characters are desperate newbies, not experienced adventurers, this shouldn't be a problem. The adventure itself is a good introduction to Savage Worlds, and could be a good origin for a modern day supernatural setting, including Savage World's mystical East Texas University. (Remember to add a curse from the evil bad guy for the party to stumble upon supernatural threats for the rest of their lives!) It presents a variety of encounters not found in most generic fantasy adventures (eg. non-lethal combat, supernatural traps), with simple mechanics resolution. Characters also gain supernatural abilities as they survive, a subtle way to introduce experience to the game. The game comes with pregenerated characters, including why they're playing a LARP.

Rosewood: "Shortly after the 2056 supply run, radio communication with Ares I was lost." Your players are the second emergency team investigating Ares I, a permanent Mars colony. The green material showing on the long range cameras suggest that Ares I was built on an oasis. But certainly that's impossible. What's also odd is that the commander of Ares I has no idea of the first emergency team. Let's hope that the second emergency team is more wary than the first. The adventure has the Ares I crew as additional NPCs which gamemaster assistants could play.

PDF vs. Hardcopy: For adventures, I typically recommend PDFs over hardcopies. With a PDF, you can print out the adventure you're playing for the night, rather than bring the entire book with you. You can print pages on color, then cut them out as visual handouts (some of the Tales of Horror adventures also have handouts). You can cut out and give the players any pregenerated characters (although I would have preferred them to be on half-pages, rather than across a two-column format). You can take notes on the printouts. And, of course, the PDFs are less expensive.

Free Test Drive: I should note that Savage Worlds has a free Test Drive modern-day horror adventure, The Wild Hunt, originally given out on Free RPG Day 2011. The sixteen-page PDF has a short four-page adventure, pregenerated characters, figure flats, and six-page core rules including character generation. A review can be found on RPG.net : https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/15/15319.phtml

Conclusion: I would describe these Savage Tales of Horror as adventures, as much as horror. Characters can fight off most of the threats, though the foes are often flexible enough for a game master to adjust ad hoc. Some investigation and stealth is necessary. Some of the adventures are on the linear side. And, as said, the adventures are for different Savage Worlds, so they're best played by players who prefer or can only play one-off adventures.

LARP of Horror stands out as a scenario new gamemasters and players should try for their first games of Savage Worlds. It introduces them to the Savage World game system, without overloading them with the mechanics, yet uses situations that are uncommon in generic fantasy roleplaying. Blood on Ice and Rosewood are better suited for gamemasters who can play various NPC roles, or have assistants to help him. Love on the Mountain would work best with "romantic" players who believe in uniting lost loves. Skitters should be fun for a "giant insect vs. small town" B-movie session, with optional miniature skirmishes for all those plastic spiders from your dungeoncrawl miniatures game or last Halloween party. I've reviewed volumes two and three, and would recommend whichever has settings you and your players would like to play, or volume two for its newbie-friendly LARP of Horror adventure.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Tales of Horror: Volume 2
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