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Shadowtide: A Blue Rose Novel
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/05/2019 15:17:40

The trouble with most "gamer fiction" is you can practically hear the dice being rolled in the background. Sometimes, and it doesn't matter how compelling the story, you can't bu help see or hear game terms being thrown about.

Thankfully that is NOT the issue here with Shadowtide: A Blue Rose Novel by Joseph D. Carriker, Jr.

Carriker gives us a story we can get into and characters we can care about, that is the job of all good storytellers; whether that medium is a novel, a play or a role-playing game. In this case, we get a good novel that preserves what we like or want from the RPG but still satisfies as a novel.

The story opens with the disappearance (likely murder) of two envoys from the Sovereign's Finest. The Sovereign is Queen Jaelin of Aldis and her envoys are tasked with helping out where they can and mostly fighting the forces of evil. The two envoys are tracking down a reported case of Shadow Sorcerery in the Veran Marsh east of Aldis. Shadow is more than just black magic, it is a taint of the unworldly, of the unnatural. Contrasts are turned up in Aldis, the evil are very evil and the good...well the good try to be very good, but as this book reminds us even the Envoys of the Queen, the very symbols of good, have to make hard choices.

The story begins with a trio of envoys. I would say "unlikely" but in truth the envoys are a varied lot. We have Soot who is a Rhy-Crow, or an intelligent crow with the abilities of an Adept. Morjin Brightstar, a lovable rogue and rake who works best alone, but is constantly falling love with whomever he meets. A note. Morjin is a character who in a lesser hand would have been VERY annoying. But Carriker invests a lot of attention and dare I say love into Morjin that you feel for the guy. He is a former Roamer, a nomadic culture similar to the Romany of our world, but he has been exiled from his clan. So it becomes easy to see how his happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care nature hides a profound sadness of what would be a good heart. Finally the last of our trio is Ydah (pronounced EE0dah). She is a Night person, or what might pass for a half-orc in other books. She is the fighter to Morjin's lover. She is also recovering from recent grief and hides her sadness behind a gruff exterior and a desire to beat the living crap out of people. Which she excels at.

The trio finds themselves in a hidden smuggler's town called Serpent's Haven. Where basically everyone is a criminal or descended from a criminal of some sort. Their mission here is to discover what happened to other envoys and figure out what the nature of the Shadow they were looking for.

I don't want to spoil the plot, but suffice to say it involves cults, crazed cultists, a Dark Fiend and the ever-present danger of Shadow to all that are around it, friend and foe alike.

Naturally, comparisons will be made to the Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey, of which Blue Rose is inspired by, but those comparisons are mainly superficial here. Sure one can tell a "Valdemar" story with Blue Rose. One could also tell this story with Blue Rose. The differences to me lie at the heart of what Shadowtide and Blue Rose are really about. The characters of both the novel and game try to do Good with a capital G. But often the only choices they have are goods with a little g. They can't fix every problem. The difference I think then between a Blue Rose character and say a D&D character is that it is the good they can't do is what bothers the Blue Rose characters, and this makes them want to do and be better next time.

That is certainly true for our trio of heroes here. Morjin feels bad about how treats certain people when he knows he has worked towards the greater good. Ydah feels bad about having to kill (and kill she does) cultists, but she needs to stop an even greater evil. Soot, well Soot has some problems all his own and shows us how dangerous the cult they are dealing with is.

In the end, the characters care about their actions. They care about how others see them as envoys and they care about how others are treated. They know there is injustice in the world, even Ydah mentions the stares she still gets in "enlightened Aldis", but they are working to make things a little bit better. Because they care they are not the "murder hobos" of other games or stories and we care more for them as well.

The book ends, but room for a sequel is left open. I certainly hope so. The characters are entertaining and the mystery they are delving into is a fascinating one. Kudos to Carriker for giving us characters whose motivations I believe and whose stories are compelling enough to make me want more.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowtide: A Blue Rose Novel
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Hero High, Revised Edition
by Matthew H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2018 22:01:19

Good: The Claremont Academy section and the premade teen characters are very useful.

Bad: The rest of the book. The advice for running a teen campaign is mostly very easy to extrapolate yourself if you've read the Gamemaster's Guide and have ever been a teenager, and the writing style is an incredibly cringeworthy attempt to sound young and hip from someone whose idea of "hip" seems to have been gleaned by observing 1998-2002-era teen culture from a great distance. It makes it incredibly difficult to read the first three sections without skimming, so it's entirely possible I missed out on some gems of advice within the dross.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hero High, Revised Edition
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Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook
by YANN E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2018 08:42:37

This is a primer on the AGE system (used in Blue Rose and Dragon Age), it is (hence the name) fantasy oriented and it is not provided with an specific universe, the core three class and the mechanics are provided and a few specialties, spells and equipment plus several GM's advices.

I think the goal is to have a basic fantasy core book that a GM can build upon as it is less complete than Bluse Rose & Dragon Age but that's not the goal of this book.

Still a good product for beginners and people curious about AGE.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook
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Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2018 06:37:54

On the whole I like the AGE system. The stunt mechanic is interesting, task resolution is generally fast and smooth and it is generic enough to build a homebrew setting around pretty easily. The system and this pdf do however have a few glaring problems that I find no one is talking about. First, the combat relies too heavily on the stunts system to add interesting choices. There are very few mechanical options in combat beyond "hit guy with my weapon using my most appropriate talent" and if you don't roll doubles or roll crab on your stunt die that makes for a very dull turn. Second, the mechanical effects of the different talents and specializations just feel uninspired and bland. It doesn't feel like there is really a significant difference between playing say a two-hander warrior and a sword and board warrior. Yeah you get a couple of small stat differences and very minor ability riders but nothing that makes the game experience notably different or varied. Third, I can't find animal statistics anywhere in the book. This is especially frustrating because they include mounted combat rules and animal companions (especially with the Beastmaster option in the Companion) but no actual animals to use. So several of the options that might actually make the game fun to play with aren't actually useable.

The pdf itself is very poorly put together. The bookmarks are an absolute mess. They are often out of order and there are sub-marks under headings that make no sense. For example, after the classes in the book there are a few pages dedicated to the final touches of your character (calculating defense, starting money, character goals, gaining XP and the like). Only about half of them are given a bookmark and all the bookmarks are submarks of the Warrior class bookmark. That is only one of a few example of very poor bookmarks. To make this even worse, the pdf is locked so you cannot even change the bookmarks manually.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy AGE Companion
by Cary M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2018 19:42:15

This pdf has been rigged so that if you print it the names of talents and the like do not show up on the document. I even using a print to pdf program and the names were not visible.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy AGE Companion
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Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero's Handbook
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2018 00:28:01

For those people, like me, who didn't quite grow up with the depth of experience to master point spend-based superhero rpgs, this book delivers a very accessible, attractive game and system that can be played practically out of the box. The art direction is very strong too, with the use of a short comic strip inside to illustrate the possibilities.

While the system is the same used in the more advanced Deluxe version of the game, it focuses on easily recognisable archetypes (8 in total) and simply chosen packages of abilities and powers to build characters. The elegance of this is that both versions of the game are completely compatible and, along with the points buy and random tables found in the Deluxe book, almost every preference for character generation is provided within the game as a whole. Fans of class-based systems, however, will appreciate this book the most.

The Basic book is still pretty comprehensive as a self contained game (you don't need any other), with plenty of advice and resources, that can run pretty much any type of tale found in the comics and movies. The tone is decidedly positive and cheerful, rather than gritty (should you be looking for a darker style) but, in all, this product largely underlines Mutants & Masterminds claim to be the 'greatest superhero roleplaying game'. For me, this was the best product I have seen of it's type and genre.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero's Handbook
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The Expanse RPG Quickstart
by Curtis B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2018 21:52:43

Another fantastic product by Green Ronin. Looking forward to the full book!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Expanse RPG Quickstart
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Mutants & Masterminds Beginner's Guide (For Second Edition)
by Michael T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2018 12:53:48

When I kicked off my D20 Modern Call of Cthulhu campaign, I needed a training scenario to test the new agents. You might think "Danger Room"-type scenarios are common, but they're much harder to find than you might think. This scenario involves robot tentacles, heat seeking missiles, and lots of danger room madness that was perfect for my new players and helped them get into the groove. It was compatible enough for me to easily convert it to D20, but really I just wanted the training challenges so it worked fine for my campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Beginner's Guide (For Second Edition)
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Modern AGE RPG Quickstart
by John D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2018 15:42:08

I've read the Quickstart and reviewed it here. Check it out, or download the Quickstart now for some Modern AGE goodness!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Modern AGE RPG Quickstart
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Cosmic Handbook
by YANN E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2018 09:57:06

le supplément pour M&M que j'ai attendu une bonne partie de ma vie, le supplément pour jouer des aventures spatiales épiques...et cosmiques :).

This was the sourcebook I'v waited for most of my life, want to play cosmic and epic adventures, this is it :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cosmic Handbook
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Star Raiders
by YANN E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2018 09:55:27

Vous voulez faire un remake des Gardiens de la Galaxie dans l'univers de Freedom City ? Maintenant vous avez les personnages pour le faire :).

Wanna make a Guardians of the Galaxy remake ? Now you have the characters to do it :).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Raiders
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Mutants & Masterminds Gamemaster's Guide
by YANN E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2018 09:49:46

A very useful sourcebook for any superhéro gamemaster.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Gamemaster's Guide
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Supernatural Handbook
by YANN E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2018 09:48:36

A great sourcebook for combining horror, supernatural and super-heroes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supernatural Handbook
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Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook
by Jeff P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/05/2018 07:32:24

The AGE system (short for 'Adventure Gaming Engine') was originally the set of rules used in Green Ronin's Dragon AGE, and later used in Will Wheaton's Titansgrave campaign podcast. It's a great little game system: easy-to-learn, rules-light, and fast-playing. The Fantasy AGE Basic Rules takes the AGE system and strips away all background and setting information, giving players and Game Masters a complete set of rules-- everything they need to enjoy their own unique campaign settings, in 120 short pages.

Did I mention that this book is only 120 pages long? That's an important point. Without any setting or background info, there isn't a lot of fluff here. If you're a Game Master looking for a set of rules to power your original campaign, this book is perfect, because you won't need to disentangle any setting information from the rules provided as you build your campaign from the ground up. On the plus side, it can be very liberating to work from a blank slate when you're creating a campaign from scratch, and the AGE system is so simple that it's easy peasy to create scads of unique obstacles, opponents, and NPCs for your players to vanquish; on the other hand, though, Fantasy AGE doesn't provide you with a setting that can be used right out of the box.

So what do you get in this book? As mentioned earlier, the AGE system is extremely rules-light, and almost every rule in the game is summarized on a single page of this book (page 6). Without any background information, and without needing to dedicate much page count to rules systems, the Fantasy AGE Basic Rules still pack a lot into 120 pages. There's a chapter on character creation, a full chapter going into more depth on the rules (which, as I mentioned, were previously summarized on page 6), a chapter on character options, a chapter on money and equipment, a chapter explaining how magic works in the AGE system, a chapter on stunts (really the best part of the game-- see below), a chapter about how to Game Master, a chapter with suggestions for the GM about how to implement the rules in the book, a short selection of adversaries/monsters (with advice about how to create/modify entries for original adversaries in your game), guidance on player rewards, advice on adding setting to the game, and a full adventure-- plus a glossary of game terms and an index.

For 120 pages, that's a lot of terrain covered.

The system itself is really easy. Characters have 9 different ability scores, which are generally rated from -2 to 4. For any test in the game, players roll 3D6, add the appropriate ability score, add any modifiers, and compare the result to a predetermined difficulty number. The 'meat and potatoes' of the game are in its "stunt" mechanism; one of the three dice rolled should be of a different color than the other two, and whenever a successful 3D6 roll results in doubles (on any of the 3 dice), that player gets as many "stunt points" as the odd-colored die's result. These "stunt points" can be spent to purchase a variety of special game effects-- perhaps knocking an opponent prone in combat, or gaining an extra attack, or doing additional damage. Since players get to spend their own "stunt points" to achieve whatever effects they desire the most-- and if they have enough points to spend, they can even select more than one-- this mechanism gives players a degree of agency within the game's narrative.

As of this review's date, there are three supplements available for Fantasy AGE. The Fantasy AGE Bestiary expands upon the selection of monsters from the basic rule book, and the Fantasy AGE Game Masters Kit includes a GM screen, a couple of reference cards for players, and an initiative tracker. The Fantasy AGE Companion is going to expand upon character options even further, with rules for chases and a mass combat system.

Fantasy AGE is a great system for fast, rules-light roleplaying, particularly for GM's who want to create their own unique campaigns without getting bogged down creating complicated stat blocks. Well worth checking out!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook
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Fantasy AGE Companion
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2018 09:13:56

I do not own any of the other AGE system lines, so it is a happy addition to the core book and the bestiary.

There are loads of goodies here to enhance your game and to ultimately spoil your players - these are the highlights for ME:

First: Arcana was expanded to include seven new options - for instance Death, Illusion and Spychic. Existing arcana got added spells - which was of a concern to some players. Option to add Minor Arcana (essentially a few minimal cantrips that is not tied to any particular Arcana), I really enjoy these as a story element. The second option is to add Divine magic to your game - I personally prefer my FAGE not to resemble another well known fantasy game, so I wont use this at my table, BUT this treatment of divine magic is really interesting and comes with a "Crisis of Faith" mechanic that could add interesting consequences in your game.

Second: Talents. A few new ones and guidelines how to create or re-skin existing ones, excellent ideas.

**Third**: Specialisations: A lovely number of new options that fit in perfectly with the feel of FAGE (23 in total) - my favourites being Diplomat, Gunfighter, Gangster and Razor. Oh yes and Arcane Dabbler if you want your Warrior or Rogue to have a bit of magical backup.

Fourth: Advanced Rewards: This chapter is a treat, it covers giving characters additional rewards beyond the regular level advancements: Honorifics, Titles and Memberships to organizations.

Fifth: Artefacts. These are not just magical items, they are much more. They have the ability grow with a character. Two types of artefacts are described: Tiered and Locked. Further more rules are given how to create these. This is one of my favourite chapters.

Sixth: Ways to deal with the Hitpoint bloat of FAGE, from increasing damage to decreasing hitpoints gained per level, and suffering wound penalties. I was personally hoping for an option similar to what True20 used, but these are a great starting point. Some of the options, or similar, have been dabbled at by the G+ community.

Lastly: There are a huge number of things that I skipped over - Mass Combat Rules, Realms and Organisation, Stunt Packages, Vehicle Rules etc...

Is there negative feedback? Yes, nothing is perfect. Those that own other AGE system products might feel this is redundant - As I mentioned before this product is very much for people like myself that are only interested in FAGE.

Grab it, grab it now!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy AGE Companion
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