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Code of Conduct for RPG Projects
Publisher: Alphastream
by Jean M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/26/2020 09:29:23

This is basically Finnish employment laws with the serial numbers filed off. Except harsher -- the Finnish one suggests the accused person should discuss the issue and be prepared to apologize -- this says they should not defend themself, admit their wrongdoing even if the accuser was mistaken, misunderstanding, or malicious, and apologize no matter what, and (unlike the Finnish version) really emphasizes that the accused can be fired simply on the basis of unsupported accusations. I'm not sure who this is written for, but "a bunch of college freshmen in a dorm" seems to be closer than a team of collaborators on a game project. It starts with the premise that the people in the group neither know, trust, or even like each other. There are plenty of good codes of conduct out there. This is not one of them.

Added: One of the rules is no display of violent imagery. Um ... we write and illustrate games about murder hobos!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Code of Conduct for RPG Projects
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Names For Days: Over 9,000 Names For People, Places and Things
Publisher: 2Die10 Games
by Jean M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/26/2020 16:44:48

I originally bought this about three months ago, and only commented rather than leaving a full review. Since I've had three months to reflect (and a few minutes to write) I can go into my feelings in some detail.

First, I should mention I got this at half price during a promotion. It was, more or less, worth that $1.50 because, as I said, you can't buy a good d20 for that. (given what I spent backing the Dispel Dice Kickstarter ... no, I don't want to think about that one) I mostly wanted to see what it was, and that was worth a buck and a half to me. It's worth taking the price it might be at any given time into consideration when you decide if this is something you want.

I would describe it as "shovelware". Like the old CDs whose publishers used to round up everything free, shareware, or dubious, load it onto a disc, and sell it for a few bucks at computer shows, it's in many ways a disorganized heap of stuff, piled up together without rhyme or reason.

There are certainly thousands of names, but, for example, the names for people do not indicate culture, nationality, or even gender. (though one of the suggested names for giants is "Gender", which makes you think ... unfortunately, it makes me think about what database the author might have scraped) As I said in my comments earlier, aparently Aristomachos and Arihelva might be next-door neighbors. Without any of that information, it is much less useful than the many name lists that are for sale here on DriveThruRPG, or even the innumerable free baby name lists you can find online. You could write down lists of syllables and throw dice to choose them, and get names at least as useful as these.

The formatting makes it painful to read. There is a reason everything from newspapers to books do not center all their text, and that reason is not that they're unable to; it's that centered text strains the eye. You can't just pop right to the next line as you read; you have to look for it, it's over there somewhere. And this product has pages and pages of that.

In my opinion, it's worth a buck and a half for the inn names. I just really like the Furious Llama! Most of them would work pretty well for any fantasy setting, or potentially historical or other genres, and you're not going to be tripped up by not knowing where and when a name belongs as with the human names. (or Gender the Giant!)

I think if the author were to discard everything but the inns, left-justify them, and equip them with numbers for easy dice-roll selection, that might be worth the asking price. As it is, however, it is not.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Names For Days: Over 9,000 Names For People, Places and Things
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On the Air rulebook
Publisher: Spectrum Games
by Jean M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/01/2018 18:06:25

I don't write reviews often, not least because I'm a believer in "Praise publicly, criticize privately." But some games are worth reviewing, and this is one of them.

I'm an Old-Time Radio (OTR) fan, and have been for years. I'm the only person I know whose iPod is full of Boston Blackie episodes, and I'm watching a Captain Midnight secret decoder (I only need a couple more years to complete my collection) on eBay as I type this. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense to use OTR as a basis for a game.

OTR is neatly packaged up in either self-contained episodes or serials. It is chock full of dramatic situations, exciting events, and heroic characters, sometimes with special abilities. It can take place in a nearby or a distant jungle, or just about anywhere else. In short, it's perfectly set up for an RPG campaign.

And On The Air captures that perfectly (at least as best I can tell from reading it; playing will require finding at least one more OTR fan around here) The game system is geared toward dramatic action rather than grittily realistic simulation. It's laid out well and should be very easy to get into. The game system is simple in comparison to many, but perfectly suited to the subject.

In addition, there is quite a lot of information on OTR itself, including some recommended shows. (note that archive dot org has many of them available for download nowadays) It was cool finding some of my favorites on there; I just downloaded a batch of Johnny Dollar episodes I haven't heard) If you've ever so much as heard of the Shadow and think there might be something interesting or gameable there, get this game. You won't regret spending the price of a sandwich on it.

Honestly, my only quibble with it is the formatting: The layout is beautiful, and looks awesome on the screen, great production values, but I'd really like to have a bare-bones, no-background, copy of the rules I could print out, too, because I'm one of those people who just likes things on dead trees.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
On the Air rulebook
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the amazing review, Jean. I'm thrilled that you like the game. I think you'll be surprised at how easy you'll find gamers who are willing to roleplay in the worlds of OTR. The game will be available as a hardcopy book. I'll be sending the PDF for print approval within a day or two. Also, I plan to make a printer-friendly version of the rulebook available so it won't be hard on people's ink. Thanks again for the review. Word of mouth is crucial for the survival of small press games. :)
CASTLE OLDSKULL - The Classic Dungeon Design Guide
Publisher: Kent David Kelly
by Jean M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/15/2018 12:47:53

I've been a gamer since the late 1970s, and a "table geek" for most of that time. As a result, I've developed a real appreciation for good, logical, well-written sets of tables for detailing anything and everything in the classic-style dungeons that I love. And if I had to pick my top three books of tables and game enhancements, this would unquestionably be one of them. Like most of the Wonderland Imprints products, even if you don't have a specific use for the exact things it's set up to create, you'll get endless inspiration from reading through them.

And if you read this while it's still on sale, grab it! I paid a lot more than 99 cents for my copy, and I don't regret if for a moment. For that matter, grab everything they sell. You'll thank yourself later. This is just plain good stuff.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CASTLE OLDSKULL - The Classic Dungeon Design Guide
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Generic Dungeon
Publisher: FeralGamersInc
by Jean M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/01/2018 15:02:02

I'll admit I haven't actually played the game yet, but this looks GOOD. Of all the RPGs I've encountered in a lifetime of gaming, in feel (though not mechanics) it reminds me more of The Fantasy Trip than anything else. In some ways it's a bit sketchy -- for example, I'm a little unclear on what some of the Statements (attributes of your character, such as "I am tough" or "I have courage") do, though when you consider that out of the 10 pages, 3 are tables (which I'm naturally fond of; I am Wintertree Software, after all!), 1 is a character sheet, and the rather nice art amounts to nearly 2 more, it's actually very impressive how much is in there. It doesn't look it on first glance, but this game is dense. I love it!

In a world where games require multiple $50 books with full-color glossy pages and more art per book than the entire RPG industry produced in 1980, a set of rules that sells for $3, (admittedly, it did also cost me 5 sheets of paper and some amount of toner) and can be understood and played in minutes rather than hours, is a welcome change. It takes me back to when RPGs just required a handful of booklets and a few weird dice, instead of needing a small cart to haul your books around, and we created our own worlds, instead of following a pre-written storyline in someone else's.

Generic Dungeon isn't for the "read the boxed text to your players" style of GM, nor for the kind of players who are always weaseling and rules-lawyering, nor the people who depend on having an official rule for every possible circumstance. It's for people who want to have fun together and need a framework to do it in. That's the kind of GM I am, and the kind of people I want to play with, so this is going to be a great game. I'll be trying it out at a convention in a couple of weeks, and I expect it to be lots of fun.

I think the biggest thing is that it's a game intended to be a game, something you do for fun (hence the popularity of dungeon crawls for decades) rather than storytelling based around a deep psychological exploration of a character. In Generic Dungeon, your character can die pretty easily, but since it's more of a playing piece in a game than a complex fictional creation in a story, you can just make another one. I think that, more than anything, is what really differentiates what the early RPGs were, and the attitudes of the early players and GMs, from the modern day "storytelling" approach. That's what so many OSR games have missed because they focus on old-school mechanics for modern-day gaming styles. Generic Dungeon gets it right.

The negatives are very few: As I said, some of it is a bit sketchy; as much as I like the artwork, I'd have traded it for more explanation of a few things. Nothing I can't fill in myself, but that's because I've been playing and GMing for decades, and even published a little game of my own once upon a time. (If you are one of the people who have the long-ago Legends & Loot with its little dice shaker, treasure it!) It could definitely use the services of a proofreader. And the format is a bit inconvenient; a version formatted for booklet printing, or even 8.5x11 printing, would be nice. But those are very minor quibbles indeed.

I don't generally write reviews anywhere because I'm reluctant to write anything but 5-star reviews, and very few games or supplements merit them. This is one of the exceptions. A good game system for less than the price of a cup of frou-frou coffee is wonderful, and this is better than just "good". Get Generic Dungeon -- you won't regret it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Generic Dungeon
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for this terrific review, I really did not expect it. Generic Dungeon was something I did as a break from writing our bigger games like Zombie Squad and Ghost Ops, so it's nice that it warranted a review. As a games designer its refreshing to do something without all the fuss, just create something on the spur of the moment and try a few things differently. To answer some of the negatives: Explanations: I could have explained more stuff but I would prefer the GM to do that, if they want something to mean something else then do it, the Stats I felt stepped away from those standard RPG tropes but still allowed for a bit of uniqueness. Proofreader: It isn't easy to justify a proofreader for a $3 game and rest assured all our other games use both proofreaders and editors :). Design: The format, I have a weird soft spot for landscape RPG's which is just me, maybe next time I will design it into a booklet. Thanks for the review and the pointers it is much appreciated by a struggling indie publisher :)
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