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Astonishing Adventures - NetherWar 0: Master of Earth
Publisher: Green Ronin Publishing
by Sean D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/21/2020 08:52:51

A decent adventure marred by some technical issues

Between the Emerald City Knights adventure not meeting sales expectations, the downturn in the economy, and the generally low profit margin of adventure modules, I was pleasantly surprised when Green Ronin committed to doing the NetherWar adventure line. After getting a chance to play the first entry, Master of Earth, my feelings are a bit more mixed. It's not a bad module overall, covering how Seven wound up Queen of the Netherworld in the 3E timeline, and it's got an interesting twist where one player gets to be a PL 12 Seven while the others play PL 8 teen heroes, complete with battles that are intended to sort out with Seven fighting the greater threats while the minions take on the teens, and situations where she needs their skills and non-magic abilities (a number of characters in the Netherworld are reistant to magic by nature). And there are also a few bits where it genuinely matters whether characters stop to help people or push forward, which provides opportunities for skill checks and roleplay.

Unfortunately, the execution falls a bit short. The provided Hero Lab file only contains about half of the characters in the module, the abbreviated stat blocks in the scenes don't carry all of the information needed to run the fight, forcing you to move back and forth from the scenes to the expanded profiles in the back, and Bres's detailed entry is missing entirely. I've sent an email to Green Ronin to see if they plan to put out errata, which would likely be sufficient to bump this up to four stars for me.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Adventures - NetherWar 0: Master of Earth
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Planet Mercenary RPG
Publisher: Hypernode Media
by Sean D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2018 20:03:42

First off, this product is not perfect. Still, it comes pretty close. It's a lightweight system that pretty accurately depicts the world of Howard Tayler's Schlock Mercenary webcomic.

At its base, it's a simple system based on 3d6 rolls, applied to skills, as either opposed rolls or versus static target numbers. What makes this game special is a combination of a beautifully rich setting with lovely artwork and fascinating details about the universe that the protagonists live in and the fillips used to make the 3d6 system more elaborate. The inclusion of Mayhem (one die of the three is a different color, and if you succeed in your check and that die is higher than the others, interesting things ranging from bad to good to amusing happen in addition to that success. So a successful shot might result in extra damage, or something you didn't intend to hit blowing up, or your fireteam deciding you're so cool that they automatically succeed at your next task, to shifting one skill point from one skill to another to... let's just say there a lot of results with both mechanical and narrative results) and more complicated modifiers with doubles, triples, or sequential numbers producing results. Character creation is very simple, consisting of choosing a sophont type (equivalent to a Race), Command Package (what role your character plays in the company), and Background (who your character was before they signed on with the company). Then, you spend your points on skills at a 1-1 basis or on specialities (allowing you to reroll one die for a particular subset of a skill) for 2 points. And then, after that, you spend shared resources on your equipment. It's an oddly collaborative setup where players don't track individual wealth, and your initial choice of Command Package and Background just decides initial skill choices on a mechanical level, meaning that you don't have a "class tier" problem where Clerics are better than Wizards are better than Fighters, etc.

In addition, you get interesting mechanics like the Fireteams, where each player is assumed to be an Officer of some sort, who commands several soldiers who do things like provide covering fire, concentrate fire upon a tough target, or perform menial tasks like searching a room for hiding hostages while you're doing the more important things like defusing the bomb, or Ablative Meat where random members of the mercenary company are assumed to "take the shot" or "jump on the grenade" to avoid damage with the cost being an RiPP (basically a Hero Point from most systems, gained by roleplaying or the GM skewing the results) and having to name and describe the grunt taking the damage for you before flipping a coin to figure out whether they survive.

On the minus side, the game is not something where you can depend on the rules to prevent exploits. There are certain fireteam configurations which are pretty much superior to others, and certain fireteam actions that are essentially unstoppable. There are pieces of equipment which are more expensive than superior pieces that offer the same functionality. The game doesn't ship with any sample characters (although it does have a sample adventure), and there are some typos. But ultimately, these are small potatoes when lined up against the sheer fun of this system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Planet Mercenary RPG
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The Objectivist
Publisher: Aegis Studios
by Sean D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/15/2017 10:53:30

I feel a trifle guilty giving a low rating to this because, well, it's free, but it's also not terribly good either. It's a clear tribute to characters such as Mr. A, the Question, or Rorschach (primarily Mr. A), but it lacks punch. The formatting is bare bones, the character is labeled and pointed at PL 9 but only reaches that level in skills and his Fort/Will save, being PL 6 on offense with his punch, PL 2 on his "blast" (I'm assuming it's Ranged Damage 2, since the only descriptor is "Blast" and a "2" in the equipment listing), and PL 3.5 on defense. The sheet doesn't have obvious faults outside of no elaboration on his equipment, but he's decidedly underwhelming.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Objectivist
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