Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tommy's Take on The Paper Dead, Kingdom of Graves and Rite NPC Deck

The Rite NPC Deck

The Rite NPC Deck is a PDF file filled with printable NPC headshots with a generic "back" sheet for NPC notes, if you want to stat them out or the like.

Most of the art is good to great, with a heavy emphasis on fantasy (veering heavily into more animalistic types than human types).

49 images are provided, which means you're paying about 12 cents a head shot (approximately), which is more than fair. The downside is that you are more likely having to fit a character to the art, but I personally find that to be a fun challenge.

Very nice product, especially if you don't known an artist or have art skills yourself.

Mythic Menagerie - Kingdom of Graves

This is an undead-themed monster mini supplement for the Pathfinder RPG. I don't play Pathfinder, but I am familiar with D&D 3/.5...that said, I luvs me some monster books, because a good concept can be translated to other games easily enough.

For $2.99, you get eight monsters over 14 pages

The first is a variation of a banshee, and I would feel silly using her just because of the name (bean chaointe).

The bloodknight is a cool vampire knight who can be compelled into one on one fights due to his twisted sense of honor.

Dark messengers are undead couriers who can ward off good or evil at will, presumably to make their jobs as deliverymen easier.

A lich tyrant is an awesome lich variant, being a king or noble who makes a dark pact to avoid death, rather than being a wizard who turns himself into a lich. They still have the phylactery vulnerability, but are a nice non-spellcasting variant on an old favorite.

Masque ghuls are shapeshifting ghuls who often pose as noblemen.

The Night Dragon is an undead dragon that spews acid and has a gaze that can rot his enemies away. Again, another very cool variant on an old favorite.

Rot giants are creepy undead giants with nearly impervious hides and the ability to devour devour the freshly dead and spew out animated skeletons.

Soul harvesters consume the souls of their prey and burn those souls off to power magic spells, or boost its attack rolls and damage.

Is it worth it? I would probably use half of these without hesitation, and the bean chaointe is the only thing I would seriously doubt myself on, though that has to do with the name and not the I'd change the name or just give the one I used a proper name to avoid that.

Great stuff at a great price.

The Paper Dead

In anticipation of my upcoming review of The War of the Dead, let's take a look at The Paper Dead, the first series of paper figures for The War of the Dead.

First off, the figures can be folded trifold or bifold...and for mounted figures, you can make little slits in the vehicle and figure to slide them on. The PDF is layered, so you can "turn off" figures that you don't need to print. That's not quite as cool as Precis Intermedia's customizable sets, but I don't know of anything in the industry that matches those.

The Paper Dead offers three pages of unique zombies of all one offering 24 completelty unique shamblers, including priests, mechanics and grocery shoppers still pushing their carts.

The next page offers another 24 shamblers, with a couple in wheelchairs and an assortment of zombie kids, as well as zombies missing their legs.

The third page of zombies offers some very creepy variants meant to be teasers for upcoming adventures such as hulking Ragers, Sprinters, Generals and very creepy zombie newborns.

Six zombie swarm templates are offered, four small, one medium and one large, when you just wanna overlay a mess of zombies.

We then get an assortment of survivors, starting with janitors, street walkers, retirees, expectant mothers and double amputee war veterans.

The next batch offers a Shaun of the Dead tribbute, a goth chick with a chainsaw, a shotgun wielding preacher, a sheriff, biker gang leader and firefighter.

The next page is filled with "generic" types, such as bikers, militia, soldiers and special ops.

Various animals are included on the next page, from horses to feral dogs and guard dogs to ferrets(!)

Motorcycles and bicycles follow.

The next page features counters for cars and the like, and then we get a scale model RV...including extra bits you can add onto the RV for a "zombie plow" and to "zombie proof" the RV!

A series of bases and door markers are included, as are special status markers for the Savage Worlds effects.

This is one of the coolest figure flats sets I have ever seen. If you are running War of the Dead, or any zombie RPG using any kind of minis, I recommend this product highly.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

State of the Blog

Content-wise, this last month sucked.

Putting it bluntly.

I'm working two jobs which are devouring a lot of my time, more than they should for the return on the investment, in fact...that said, given how little money I actually make, hopefully something will come along soon that will let me go back to the "one job" category.

Because when that happens, I get to review more books, work on more comic projects, properly promote contests and look into self publishing short fiction, making me a very happy panda in general.

Going from 25 posts last month to 8 this month is unacceptable for me, and I am constantly working to rejigger my schedule and try to allow for more content. I have several promised reviews still in the queue, and *anything* I have been comped will get reviewed in some form, be it a full-blown review broadcast across the internet, part of my mini review packs or just an entry on the RPGnow website.

My next Big Review is War of the Dead Chapter One by Daring Entertainment, with a few more major projects in the queue behind it.

I have more "mini reviews" coming over the next week or so, namely more of Misfit Studios' mini releases for Savage Worlds and Vigilance Press' WWII material for ICONS.

The Realms of Cthulhu contested ended with one entry, and I blame that at least in part because of my inactivity on the blog...but Carl Hickman won, and I'll upload his scenario for Savage Worlds fans sometime in October.

Anyway, for those who have been popping back in, thanks for doing so. Hopefully October will look a lot more like August and lot less like September, content wise.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tommy's Take on Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade

Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade was a bit of a hard sell for me, being a quasi fantasy game in an oriental mish-mash fantasy culture with a heavy anime influence...that is kind of a laundry list of things I don't like (except for the fantasy part).

And yet, while I was reading (and loving) Apocalypse Prevention Inc., the book's writer Eloy Lasanta asked me if I would be interested in checking out Wu Xing for a the strength of the API series, I said yes.

Wu Xing is available in hardcopy from Studio 2 Publishing and in PDF from RPGnow. The core rules are 221 pages with simple cover design and decent amount of black and white art. Like API, you never get the feeling that art is being used to fill space and inflate page count. It uses the Dynamic Gaming System, which is fundamentally simple, with lots of cool combat crunch (making it about spot on for the genre, I think).


The book opens with a one page summary of the game, including the ten Ninja Clans and the clanless Ronin. The whole set-up is very reminiscent of the group set-up in World of Darkness games, so there is probably going to be a hint of familiarity for folks.


Pretty standard "what is roleplaying" section, with a little example, with a Ninja PC trying to end a fight with intimidation and not conflict.


This is the setting chapter, and it is a nice setting indeed. Ninjas are kinda like superheros, using their chi to do amazing things that mere mortals cannot.

The ninja made their first public move during the Crime Rebellion, also known as The First Ninja War, when they crippled the Orime Empire in a guerrilla war.

From there ninja clans as they exist today began, and the kingdoms that arose from the fall of the Orime Empire hired the clans to do their dirty deeds, sparking the Mercenary Wars, also known as the Second Ninja War.

The War of Withered Fangs, or the Third Ninja War, occured when The Slithering Gods began slaughtering other, smaller ninja clans. This one ended when the ninja publicly aligned with kingdoms and the Izou Empire and broke the back of the Withered Fangs, which evolved into the Recoiling Serpents.

The Expansion Wars, or Fourth Ninja War, saw an end to the affiliations between the ninja and the Empire as the Empire quickly expanded into ninja lands, taking everything they could. The Emperor outlawed ninjas and public use of chi.

The Ninja Crusade, the Fifth Ninja War, is where we are at now...The Empire is hunting and killing ninja at every turn. The ninja have formed the Lotus Coalition to pool resources against The Empire.

We get an overview of the ten ninja clans, each of which have a very distinct worldviews and even martial arts, but have a built in reason to work together due to the Lotus Coalition.

Ninja used to be recruited by blood, but as time has moved on, ninja are now recruited as often as they are born. There is also a bit about the student-master relationship and how the reputation of the master can go with the student, for better or for worse.

A very informative discussion follows on how the ninja have set up hidden cities, the basic structure of clan politics and realities of clan rivalries, even with the Lotus Coalition.

We get the Lotus Coalition side of things, where they joined forces after the Empire moved to gunpowder fueled weapons and slaughtered ninja for about a year before they they joined forces. The Big Tent of the Lotus Coalition still has a lot of in fighting, and it nearly got torn apart when a groom from The Pack of the Black Moon and a bride from The Recoiling Serpents had their peace-brokering wedding spoiled when the groom was mysteriously poisoned, casting suspicion on the Recoiling Serpents.

We also get the history of the Izou Empire, and my favorite part is the Emperor himself. Emperor Izou ascended to the throne at the age of ten and quickly consolidated his power. This continued until his two sons were caught in the crossfire between two ninja clans, leaving the future Emperor dead and the surviving brother seething with rage. This led to the public ban on ninja, which lasted until an undentified clan attacked the Emperor's wife and daughter, decapitating the former and giving the latter a slow acting, lethal that point, the war expanded to any chi users and the Ninja Crusade began. The author does a great job of establishing that Emperor Izou is a bastard, but he is also justified in his rage.

We get introduced to the class system, which is very important to the setting. The classes start with Commoners, Artisans, Merchants, Warriors and Nobles...with Untouchables being those beneath Commoners, on the outskirts of the Class system.

There is a short bit about religion, which doesn't play a huge role in the game, but there is a growing religion about a single figure who is greater than any ninja or the Emperor, so that religion sure isn't too popular in the Empire.

A big section follows on the ten provinces of The Empire, with plot seeds built in for use in the game. This is followed by The Five Kingdoms, which are the remaining kingdoms that exist outside of The Empire. Both an Empire map and a World map are included, and the information in the sections provides ample information without bogging the sections down with Too Much Detail.


This is the overview of the ten clans, plus the Ronin. The set-up is very similar to how clans, tribes, etc, are treated in World of Darkness games, with the overview and stereotype of each clan, the clan's thoughts on the other clans, the Ronin, the Lotus Coalition and The Empire, plus clan specific character creation information.

The Bamboo Herbalists: The Bamboo Herbalists are healers, but they are far from stodgy, cleric types...they are thrill seeking adventurers, to a fault. However, they are imbued with a resistance against disease and poison.

Blazing Dancers: Blazing Dancers are often not taken as seriously as the other clans, due to being performers at heart. However, they are very much ninja like the other clans, capable of their own deadliness. They can muster minor magical effects to use to enhance their performances.

Grasping Shadows: These guys are what most people commonly think of when they think of ninjas: Assassins appearing from the shadows and killing their targets. The begin with extra levels in the "core" ninja skills, but REALLY do not play well with the other clans.

Hidden Strands of Fate: Dirty, dirty manipulators who are very likely playing EVERYONE for fools. They often have hidden objectives within missions and will order their members to sabotage Lotus Coalition missions. They can actually physically manipulate common threads with chi, playing on their nicknames.

Living Chronicle: The Living Chronicle tattoo history on their bodies, and their dead are preserved as a record of what has happened. Knowing that they are a living part of history provides them extra resistance against fear, but they don't relate well with people.

Pack of the Blood Moon: Exceedingly loyal, each member of the Pack has an animal companion that it shares a spiritual link the point that any powers they use extend to the animal as well.

The Recoiling Serpents: They have an inherent, extreme amount of flexibility...but an extremely overdeveloped sense of vengeance.

The Virtuous Body Gardeners: These guys broke off from The Living Chronicle and tattoo themselves heavily. However, they can use chi to manifest their tattoos in unique ways. In fact, they can incorporate minor objects into the tattoos! However, they stand out like sore thumbs.

The Wardens of Equilibrium: Every Warden has a partner whose chi is opposite their own. They are obsessed with balance to the point that they will change sides in a conflict if it becomes unbalanced.

Will of Iron: These guys are obsessessed with justice, holding it above anything, even turning on allies who do wrong. Being metaphorically unyielding as metal, they can become attuned to metal (such as swords), and cannot be disarmed if they made the weapon themselves.

Ronin: Ronin can mix and match skills, powers and fighting styles, but lack the resources and power base of clan members.

My main comment on this section is that the comments from each representative clan member about the other clans was at first very jarring and very "western" the point that it almost bugged me. But as I'm not a huge fan of the source material, it probably made it easier for me to accept it all.


Character building is point based, being very similar to Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. However, some bits are necessarily different.

You start by selecting your Concept, Passion, Element and Clan. Concept and Passion function largely as they do in API, while Element helps determine your starting Chi and Clan has a huge impact on you, as it dictates the Fighting Styles and Wushu (special powers) available to you.

The Passions either mirror the API passions or come close, but the Elements are a new bit. The chi users are tied to an element that holds sway over them, informing their actions, and when their chi is out of balance or depleted, the element influences them further. Earth-natured characters are heavily focused on balannce, Fire-balanced characters tend to be energetic leaders, Metal-balanced characters are firm, rigid and focused on justice, Water-focused are intelligent and cautious and Wood-natured are both kind and resilient. It also helps determmine your chi, which is used too power your wushu (Wu Xing's name for kewl powers).

Chi comes in both Yin and Yang varieties, which can fuel wushu or provide a number of effects each, depending on the type of chi. You can also absorb too much chi, which can explode if not expelled fast enough.

The API stats of Power, Agility, Vigor, Intellect, Insight and Charm present here as well, with 30 points divided among them. All ninjas get a rank each in Legerdemain, Discipline, Stealth, Survival and their Primary Fighting Style before their 30 skill points kick in.

The Fighting Styles have charts full of modifiers...but also have special techniquest that the players can learn. Every style has an area that it is weak in and one that it is strong in, as well as a weapon that it favors.

The styles are Bear (these guys can seriously take a hit, and can unleash frightening roars), Crane (they strike early and often, but for less overall damage), Crocodile (slower, stronger attacks), Dragon (skilled at fighting multiple opponents at once), Eagle (they try to keep their distance), Hawk (focused on striking very quickly), Horse (they try to outlast their opponents with pure stamina), Monkey (more unorthodox attacks), Snake (focusing on coiled, measured strikes), Tiger (heavy on damage, but not energy efficient) and Wildcat (heavy strikes, but a lot of openings).

Ronin get 12 Bonus Points to spend on Gifts, everyone else gets 10. Many of the API Gifts and Drawbacks are here, but there are several new ones that are specific to Wu Xing, including determining your class.

A very handy reference guide is included, with a summary of all the steps in character creation and page number references for everything that didn't fit on the two pages. A sample character, built step by step, is included...complete with character sheet.


This is the Kewl Powerz chapter. Some powers can be powered by any kind of chi...some require either Yin or Yang specifically. A character's clan provides a bonus to the clan's favored Wushu, and the character's Element can provide bonuses or penalties in circumstances where other elements are involved.

There are ten general Wushu and ten clan specific Wushu. The general Wushus include The Ways of Beasts, Earth, Fire, Metal, Movement, Survival, the Unseen, the Warrior, Waterr and Wood. The Clan Specific Wushu are the Ways of Balanced Scales, Caring Hands, Ebony Clutches, Great Serpents, Heaven's Judgement, the Immaculate Show, Inked Skin, Kept Lore, Spun Threads and Twin Beasts.

Every Way begins with minor effects which grow in power and effect. The Way of Beasts, for instance, begin with using Yang to enhance the ninjas eye sight and culminates in being able to transform into an animal. The Way of Fire can be used to cauterize a ninja's wounds and stop bleeding...or breathe fire. The Way of Metal can provide some very cool, Magneto-esque effects. The Way of Movement starts with running up walls, moves to running THROUGH walls and ends in teleportation.

The Wardens of Equilibrium can destroy chi, the Bamboo Herbalists can actually raise the dead, the Grasping Shadows can bind a target's shadow (semiparalyzing the target), Recoiling Serpents can shed their skin (healing surface injuries in the process), the Will of Iron can create diviine weapons of judgement that only harm their target (and harm them BADLY), the Blazing Dancers can learn an opponent's moves for a fight (including their Wushu if they sacrifice chi), the Virtuous Body Gardeners can draw weapons from their tattoos, the Living Chronicle can place the memories of themselves (or someone else) into a blank book, the Hidden Strands of Fate can manipulate their vocal cords to alter their voices and the Pack of the Blood Moon can atually merge their bodies with their canine companions!

That is just a sampling of the effects brought on by the Clan Specific Wushu. There are also guidelines for PCs altering Wushu, combining aspects of Wushu and even creating Wushu from scratch.


Wu Xing uses a very lite wealth system: You compare your Class ranking to the Cost of items, and if it is equal to, or better, and you could reasonably access the item, it's yours. Starting equipment is not limited to Class, but by character concept.

All of the weapons are given a brief description, as well as the armor. The armor of the Empire is bulletproof, which can be a nice surprise if a ninja takes away a gun and turns it on one of the Emperor's warriors.

Wu Xing uses the same combat system as API, implementing the Counts system, where characters can take multiple actions per round based off of the speed of their attacks. If you like combat with a lot of options, the Wu Xing system is going to be right up your alley. It provides a ton of choices, without a huge amount of crunch.

Most major (and minor) situations are covered by the rules, including some loose guidelines for combat in unusual situations such as fighting on rooftops or even treetops.

Making traps is also covered in this chapter, as ninja sure do like to use traps. They can even use chi powered traps, and guidelines are given for the different types of traps.

The chapter ends with a combat sample that runs through the paces, showing combat tracking system.

The combat system is crunchy in the sense that it provides a ton of options, though tracking Health, Stamina and Chi might get to be a bit much for some people. Personally, I think it just pushes the border, with the payoff exceeding the work, especially in small scale combats (1 on 1 or other small conflicts).


This chapter covers the important, useful stat blocks in the game, starting with animals. Townsfolk, town guards and local vigilantes are up next. The Empire's soldiers, engineers, Golden Lions and executioners are included. Various ninja stat blocks are provided, and then the book veers into spirit animals...celestial animals, both lesser and greater, that the ninja can bond with, as well as oni - big, bad demons.

My primary complaint with this chapter is that it could use a bit more description regarding oni. A single "average" oni is present, but a few more examples would have been preferable.


This is, essentially, the GMing chapter. It encourages you to make sure that you are making the players the centerpiece of the story, and provides a list of the anime inspirations. I've heard of several of the anime, but I don't think I've seen any of them, except in passing. There are several campaign types provided, with plot hooks to work off of.

The book ends with several reference pieces, starting with a glossary, then an index, the Fighting Style charts, a single page character sheet, blank combat tracker and three page character sheet.


I don't really like anime. I don't really like martial arts movies. There should be no compelling reason for me to enjoy the game...and yet, it is just FILLED with "cool". The setting should be incredibly one note, with Ninjas vs Empire, but there is still a ton of room to play around with. The world is large, with plenty of room open for you to detail it yourself. Several mysteries are set up, but are meant to be answered by GMs as their campaigns dictate, not to be filled in by future supplements, an approach similar to that of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc...there is no metaplot dictating the direction of the Ninja Crusade, which I consider a plus.

There are some issues, however. The editing was a bit suspect on this one, with notable issues in the first chapter (especially with homonyms, such as the "Forth Ninja War"). More examples for oni could have been great as well.

The book is in black and white, but as manga is typically in black and white, I don't consider that a style issue, and virtually every page is two columns of text, so the 221 pages are FILLED. With two RPGs produced so far, Third Eye Games has rapidly moved into my top tier of favored publishers this year and Eloy Lasanta seems to have a knack for creating settings that I just want to dive into and play in that is matched, to me, only by the Pinnacle crew.

I have reviewed a lot of games this year, and I would be hard pressed to find one I recommend more than Wu Xing. I can't WAIT to see more, from Wu Xing and from Third Eye Games in general.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tommy's Take on Druids, Goblins and Unkindness

Expanded Professions: The Druid

Holy this is what I'm talking about. Misfit Studios officially tosses their hat into the Savage Worlds ring with a tiny supplement...of awesome. For $1.55 you can download a three page PDF that adds a Druid Professional Edge and then...expands it. What this product really is, is nine Edges starting with Druid and then allowing access to a number of special features and abilities,including a new Legendary Edge that allows the Druid to tap into the senses of all the animals in the surrounding area.


Another Edge piggybacks off of the Beast Master Edge and allows the Druid to impart cool abilities on their animal companion, or even boost the animal's stats. Yet another Edge allows the Druid to be powered by the land, complete with a table you can use to modify the Druid's power points with depending on where they are actually AT (a desert bumps the Druid's points down -4, while a jungle rockets them up a whopping +6, for instance).

Some people will say "too many edges" and "use what's already there"! I say "Holy crap, I wanna play a Druid, at least until some more of these come out...what's that? 'Champion' just came out? I need to pick that up..."

I am obviously very much a fan of this concept. The addition of more Edges (that have a reason for existing) can help dispel that notion that Savage Worlds "ends" at Legendary...and this supplement has a neat trick or two rolled into Edges that some might have tried to place into the Powers system.

If future releases hold up with this one...and I kinda hate Druids, so there you go...Misfit should have a bright future as a licensee.

Monster Brief: Goblins

Like the Expanded Professions, the Monster Briefs are short PDFs at $1.55, taking a given subject matter and "blowing it up" a bit.

In this case, we get an expanded focus on Goblins, complete with a couple of variations. The product is a mild letdown from the awesomeness that is the Expanded Professions, but still very cool. First up, we get introduced to the Beast Wrangler, a goblin that trains various animals for chaos and violence. This entry is mostly hampered by a reference to giant rats from the Pulp GM's Toolkit, an earlier Savage Worlds product that is now a bit on the obscure side due to the push for the various Companions (though the Pulp Toolkit is still available).

Goblin Lords are actually kind of impressive...having enough going for them statistically to be a threat, especially to lower ranked characters, even before you realize that they are also going to be surrounded by a whole tribe.

Goblin Wolf Riders are fairly self explanatory, and include vargrs, which are like dire wolves but big and mean.

The Monster Brief concludes with Ragefur mushrooms, a *very* scary mushroom that can send goblins into a furious berserker rage before possibly killing them...and then it does BAD stuff to non Goblins that eat it.

You know, its just not quite as cool or as useful as the first Expanded Profession, but this first Monster Brief is still a very encouraging sign as to what could be coming down the pike.


Unkindness caught a bit of infamy as Blackwyrm Games kind of jumped the gun when it was released, beating the August 1st "start date" for ICONS Licensees by a couple of months. This led to Adamant Entertainment initially pulling the license, but later reinstating it.

Unkindness is, in theory, a dual statted adventure for Hero/Champions and ICONS. In reality, It is a Hero/Champions adventure in which they decided to add some ICONS stat blocks in the back of the book. Any references in the adventure to rules are Champions rules, including a chart for attempting a knowledge skill check, which is only published in Champions terms and has no ICONS equivalents posted whatsoever. Literally, the ICONS support is limited to statblocks for the villain (The Raven King), his minions and a pair of important NPCs.

Is it super hard to convert the adventure to ICONS? Not really...but that's not the point. There shouldn't be any conversion work to do when there is an ICONS logo on the front of the book. If there were a BASH Logo on the front of the book, I would expect all rules to also be given in a BASH equivalent as well.

Does that mean the book is all bad?  Not as such, no. The adventure is interesting, featuring an ancient, mythological artifact and a series of robberies (that are connected and not in the usual ways) and a villain who both gets to be brough down decisively AND has room to come back in a far less contrived manner than your typical villain. In fact, no less than 27 system generic plot seeds are provided, giving you ample material to work with if you wanted to make The Raven King a recurring nemesis. It is worth noting that there is a revelation/subplot in the adventure involving (non-sexual) child abuse that pushes this adventure into more adult territory than your typical superhero entry (and I mean actual adult...not "boobs and guns" adult).

The art is pretty weak and this is one case where I think the coloring hurts it. It appears to have been colored by marker, and while the art isn't the strongest anyway, a better coloring job could have helped cover some of the deficiencies.

Even still, my single biggest complaint with the book is how, approaching it from an ICONS perspective, it feels very much like stat blocks were added in for the hopeful sales boost, but this was released as very much a Hero product otherwise. Disappointing, as more of an honest effort to serve both audiences advertised would have raised my opinion of the product considerably.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tommy's Take on Slasher Flick Director's Cut

The reason I posted my old Slasher Flick review is because, essentially, I'm not going to retype the same thing I did a year and a half ago.

So...for the major rundown of the book and its rules, head on over to that link and dig in.

Slasher Flick Director's Cut isn't a second edition of the Slasher Flick RPG, so much as the ultimate Slasher Flick book, combining most of the optional rules from the Deleted Scenes and Special Features supplements with the original Slasher Flick rulebook...and now in full color.

A red, blood splatter trim has been added to the inside of the pages, where they connect at the, this WOULD just make up annoying dead space, except many of those optional rules now show up in the blood splatters as sidebars.  The sidebars are also used to convey asides to the Directors and Players.

What appears to be the entire Casting Call book has been included, which is about 100 premade tertiary characters (standard slasher stock characters) with  guidelines on making them primary characters instead...and I mean all the good ones are here, like Intrepid Security Guards, the various types of non-killer crazies you tend to see, stoners, mysterious drifters, etc.

Three new killers are included, one of whom borrows more than a bit from Michael Myers, one who is very "supernatural" in outlook and the other a good "twist" killer.  Each gets a full description and stats, as well as three plot hooks related to them for use into making your own "movies".

Another very helpful addition are three "miniflicks", essentially a set-up, location and killer that can be fleshed out into a full "movie", and a complete "film" called The Vault, involving a set of cloistered fallout shelters in the 80s.  One common complaint I heard when the original Slasher Flick came out was "It looks cool, but what do I DO with it?", and this should alleviate those concerns quite a bit.  There are two other full length adventures available, one set in a decrepit hotel and the other on an island getaway for more adventure fun.

Slasher Flick probably falls closer into the "story game" category than the "RPG" category, due to elements such as the players controlling multiple characters and so forth. Now, this doesn't matter a lick to me, but might be a big deal for some people. Its still a very cool game, and this package is pretty impressive in full color. If you bought Slasher Flick but not the supplements and enjoyed it, I would give this a solid recommendation. If you were interested in Slasher Flick but didn't buy it, then call it a strong recommendation. If you bought Slasher Flick and hated it, stay away...unless the reasons you hated it had to do with not being sure how to set up a "movie", or got too thrown by character creation: Since a "movie" is now included, as well as 100 or so pregenerated characters, you can jump right in.

Right now, you can still buy Slasher Flick Director's Cut with the two full length adventures in a bundle, and as I loved both adventures, I feel comfortable giving that a solid thumbs up.

One more thing I want to note, as it wasn't mentioned in the book and the author may have missed it altogether (a LOT of people did), is the TV series Harper's Island that ran for one season on CBS last year. It was marketed as a murder-mystery, but make no mistake: It is 13 episode, TV-friendly slasher film that is incredibly well done, and I HIGHLY recommend it, on par with the original Halloween.

Realms of Cthulhu Contest

New contest!

Much like last month's Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion contest, I have a copy of the Realms of Cthulhu PDF by Reality Blurs that I'm giving away!  Sadly, I haven't even had a chance to get Realms of Cthulhu myself, but I'm going to give it some enterprising reader.

Similar set up to last month's contest, except I want horror encounters...the more Lovecraftian the better.

The rules:

1) One entry per person, please.

2) You must provide a working e-mail address, or I can't get you the code for your free download.  However, if you already own Realms of Cthulhu and would like to "gift" the it to a friend, provide me THEIR address and that can be arranged.

3) Elaborate as much or as little as you like, but if it's so long we get tired reading it?  That'll work against you.  Similarly, if it's too short to make us get into the idea of it, that'll work against you.  Ideally, I would like to see it fit a single column page of a PDF, but if it's good, it's good.

4) Spell check and the like will go a long way towards helping your chances.

5) Any game stats provided in your encounter should be Savage Worlds stats.  Please, do not duplicate any copy-written information (such as a monster's stat blocks from a SW book).  If you create a whole new monster for the encounter, you should stat it.  Similarly, noting that an adversary is, say, an Orc but with a Smarts of d8 and the Marksman Edge (for a crazy example) is fine.  The encounter should fit in the horror genre...doesn't mean it can't contain elements from other genres, but it should primarily be a horror situation that could be dropped into a horror campaign with not too much work.  The setting assumption should be Earth, say from 1900 to "five minutes into the future" (maybe you have a REALLY good 2012 idea, I dunno). Bonus points if you tie in the Mythos.

6) The contest is open immediately, and will run until 12 PM Central time on Monday, September 27th.  I will announce the winner on or before October 1st.  E-mail your entry to tommyb(at)sstelco(dot)com.  You can do it in the body of the e-mail, in DOC or RTF format, or in PDF format.  Any of those will work fine.  Please include the name you wish used with the entry (real name, screen name, whatever) at the top of the entry. The winner will receive the prize code at the e-mail they have contacted me from.

7) My handpicked judges (who will remain anonymous) will read over and rank the entries "blind" (meaning I withhold the names of the authors), with the highest ranked being named the winner.

8) Your entry in the contest is granting me the right to use your encounter in the compilation, in which all authors will be fully credited with either their real name, or the screen name of their selection, but I lay no other claim to the copyright of the work...I just think it would be cool to give a little collection of ideas to everyone else. The Horror Encounters Compilation will be made available for free download shortly after the winner is announced.

Thank you to Reality Blurs and DriveThruRPG for making this possible!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tommy's Take on Slasher Flick

In one of the last reviews I did (Blood Games II, during Horror Week) I mentioned how little I like doing capsule reviews over playtest reviews. With Slasher Flick I hoped to get an actual playtest review, but then two things happened: 1) My printer ran out of ink, and I had the wrong replacement cartridge...(and I really don't like running a game off a PDF). 2) Half of my gaming group got trapped in a flood (as of this writing, they are still, just stranded). So, I am going to settle for the capsule review and hopefully do the playtest down the line.
Slasher Flick – The RPG
This review will cover the Slasher Flick PDF, provided to me by designer Cynthia Celeste Miller for review. The premise is as simple as it sounds: emulate the slasher flick genre in the confines of an RPG game.
Slasher Flick is available from as a PDF for $7.99, and from as a Print-on-Demand book for $12.99. Again, this review specifically covers the PDF.
The PDF clocks in at 113 pages, black and white, and can be formatted for digest-sized “booklet” printing. It's a rather functional PDF, fully searchable with text-select enabled if you need to copy and paste for whatever reason. My main gripe is an overuse of black, namely in the borders. It's not as excessive as, say, Eden Studios' Witchcraft is, but it's still a bit more ink-intensive than I like from a PDF I'm printing off.
This gets really bad later in the book as there are a handful of tables that are white text on black backgrounds...not fun for the “print at home” types.
The book is broken up into six chapters: Introduction, Slasher Films, The Game Rules, Creating Characters, The Players and The Directors. Additionally, the chapters are also broken up with cute, schlocky fake movie posters such as Grave Danger (“On The Darkest of Nights...He Waits For You!”)and Baby Doll (“When The Bough Breaks...The Baby Will Kill.”), which is a very nice tough, reminding me of the fake advertisements in the West End Games' Star Wars rules.
Chapter One: Introduction
Each chapter begins with a quote from a slasher film, relevant to the chapter.
The intro chapter begins with a discussion of fear, moves on to a general overview of Slasher Flick as a game, and then a discussion on what role-playing is not unlike what you'll normally see in an RPG corebook, completely with example of play. Slasher Flick uses a handful of dice, ranging from d6 to d10, and is meant to be fairly short-term as RPG “campaigns” go...a horror “flick” with a beginning, middle and end, though you can certainly leave it open for sequels.
The chapter concludes with a glossary as well as a quick overview of the other chapters.
Pretty basic chapter, nothing extraordinary or bad about it. It works fine as a basic summary of the book, which is the point, hitting on such deviations from a standard RPG such as the players having a “Primary character” as well as controlling “Secondary characters”.
Chapter Two: Slasher Flicks
Here we get a more detailed breakdown of the slasher flick subgenre. The author makes this incredibly readable by hitting a series of bullet-points including a massive, SIX PAGE list of slasher film tropes that clearly shows the author has done her homework. Some are obvious (don't have'll die)...some are fairly tongue-in-cheek (such as a killer gradually becoming overtly supernatural over time as a way to explain their constant returns until it gets so ridiculous that the filmmakers finally pull the plug and bring the killer back to the basics in order to make them believable again...Michael Myers, from Halloween 6 to H20, comes to mind).
The author helpfully makes a list of Essential Movies for you to study up on, complete with commentary. The first two obvious entries are Black Christmas and Halloween which basically invented and defined the genre, respectively. The other entries here include Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child's Play and Scream. This pretty much hits all the beats: The beginning of the genre, the four faces of fear from the genre, and the movie to reinvented it. Can't say as I disagree with much here (other than the author's take on Rob Zombie's Halloween, but that's neither here nor there.)
The “Almost Essential” list has a slew of smaller entries, most of which are well worth watching in their own right. I was happy to see the underrated Cry_Wolf on the list. My main issue here is either the inclusion of Leprechaun or the exclusion of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or both. I'm just saying, I would define the latter as both more of a slasher film AND more important to the genre than I would the former.
A very good primer for the genre which reads quickly and in an entertaining clearly shows off the author's love for the genre and the research she's done. This gives one high hopes then for the “game” part of the book and its goal of genre emulation.
Chapter Three: The Game Rules
And here we learn to play the game. Slasher Flick has four kinds of characters, which we'll discuss now.
Primary Characters – These are the main characters of the movie, as well as the main characters of your players. Literally, they are your standard PCs as usually defined by RPGs.
Secondary Characters – Here we get an interesting deviation. The secondary characters are made and controlled by the players as a group. These are your “obviously gonna die” characters, the red-shirts, the pot-smoking buddies, the randy couple off to go have sex in the bushes.
Tertiary Characters – Here are the classic NPCs. The crazy old man who warns about the death curse, the skeptical town sheriff who may also be the father of the Good Girl, the Town Gossip. They show up, move the plot on in the way they were designed to, and sometimes are there to help boost the body count.
The Killer – This is the killer. The main antagonist. The guy (or gal) that makes this into Slasher Flick and not 90210.
The secondary character set-up was designed so the game could have a decent bodycount without it just being a series of GM described cutscenes, or worse, just a series of scenes where the players keep stumbling across bodies. Depending on the what the group prefers, the players can control all the secondaries as a group, or they can assign secondaries to each player to control for the duration of the flick.
All characters have four stats: Brawn, Finess, Brains and Spirit, rated as Poor, Normal and Good. Each character also has Qualities, both Positive and Negative. When performing an action, you check the Stat rating and roll four dice of the appropriate type: Poor is d10, Normal is d8 and Good is d6. If any of the dice match, you are successful. A Positive Quality can grant an extra die, a Negative takes one away, as well the Director can modify the number of dice up or down by one depending on overall difficulty.
Additionally, if you are rolling an opposed check, the difference in stat ratings further modifies the number of dice rolled by the active character...(a Good stat rating versus a Poor stat rating would add 2 dice of the same type, for instance, while a Normal stat rating versus a Good stat rating would actually reduce the number of dice rolled by one).
Don't Freak Out
Like most horror games, Slasher Flick has a fear mechanic called Freak-Out Checks, which are Spirit rolls anytime a character comes up on something horrifying, frightening, creepy, etc. If the character fails, they become freaked-out and any time after that a decision must be made, the Director can require a Spirit check to make the character pick the worst possible choice. If the player manages to roll matching sets of the top possible number on their dice (or “toppers”), they snap out of the freak-out state and resume normal play.
Kill Scenes
When the Killer shows up, a Kill Scene begins. The goal of a Kill Scene is to make it to 8 Survival Points before the Killer can bring you below 0. Primary characters begin the game with 1 Survival Point and Secondary Characters begin with 0. Actions are declared, the Director decides the relevant trait and modifiers, the dice are rolled, the events narrated and then the Survival Points are adjusted based on the result.
Each matching result nets you 1 Survival Point...matching toppers grants you an additional 1d3 Survival Points. No matches equals a loss of 1d3 Survival Points plus 1 for each “1” rolled. There are further modifiers tipping the scales for Primary Characters and against Secondary and Tertiary characters...such as Primary Characters ignoring their first loss of Survival Points (there should be no first round kills for the star of the movie, darn it!).
The author includes a Kill Scene example as well as guidelines for faster Kill Scenes in case your group finds the 8 point survival threshold to take too long.
It's A Movie, Darn it!
Some games have Drama Points...others have Action Points...and some have Bennies. Slasher Flick has Genre Points, which are awarded whenever player do things that wouldn't make sense in a normal RPG, but make perfect sense in a slasher investigating that noise in the basement, running into the dark house yelling your friend's name or using drugs. These Genre Points can then be spent to reroll Stat checks, find just that thing you were needing, reduce the Survival Point loss from a check or transfer the nastiness to a Secondary or Tertiary character instead.
The Killer
The Killer doesn't have stats...the Killer has “components”. The Killer is successful at 98% of the things it tries to do, and can't really be hurt much until...well...until it gets down to the Final Two (often the Good Girl and the Asshole She Redeems). At that point, survival is no longer the only option, as the characters can now achieve victory if they can withstand the Killer's onslaught. Before the Final Two, for every three matching toppers rolled in a Kill Scene, the Killer takes a Damage token. Once you hit the Final Two, every matching topper equals a damage token. If the Killer hits its damage threshold, they're dead...unless you decide to make a sequel, of course.
Unique mechanics...probably the most disconcerting thing here for the experienced gamer is the use of smaller dice the better you are at something. The mechanics are designed to get you to act like in-genre...for instance, you can make a boneheaded move with a Secondary Character, but the player gets the Genre point, which can then be used to keep their Primary Character alive later.
There is no traditional “combat” in this game, but an interesting tug-of-war mechanic for the Killer, which seems like it could be very tension-filled. The rules certainly read like they've hit their intended mark.
Chapter Four: Creating Characters
And now, character creation. Kinda surprising for me...I'm used to seeing the character generation before the rules. Not sure I would have deviated from that here.
This chapter is solely for creating Primary and Secondary Characters...that is, the characters controlled by the players.
As mentioned above, this is meant to be a group exercise. Everyone sits down, the Director informs the players how many secondaries will be involved and what, if any, requirements exist for the characters (everyone needs to be a high school student, a death row inmate, etc). Basically, this is just to make sure that you don't have guys wandering in from the wrong movie.
The secondary characters are divided up among the players, and the players then assign a stereotype for each character in their possession, including their primary. Here's where it gets interesting: From there, all the secondary characters are passed to the player on your left for the next step.
Everyone starts off at Poor rating on their stats, but Primaries get four stat boosts, while secondaries get three, and each player spends those boosts for all characters in their possession. Then: switch. Everyone gives all their people Positive Qualities, pass the secondaries around, and do Negative Qualities. Everyone switches again, and can then make two alterations to their Primary character and one alteration to each secondary character in their control. Primary Characters can gain special abilities here, such as Back For More which allows the possibility of the Primary “getting better” after dying, and Scream Queen which allows your female to instantly generate four Genre Points once per game by unleashing a blood-curdling scream.
Everyone swaps again to equip the characters, then the group works out the details regarding the characters, such as who knows who how and minor “flavor” tidbits.
A big table of sample stereotypes and qualities is included at the end of the chapter for those needing inspiration. For those printing the PDF, these tables are white text on black background, so be prepared to use some ink.
Character generation looks like it could well be a blast. For me, I think it almost looks involved enough that I would want to have a character generation session before we actually played the game as I could see it getting slow going, especially if you have a few people playing (four or more).
Chapter Five: The Players
This chapter is devoted to players trying to play within the genre. It includes five tips, a couple of which are incredibly helpful for experienced gamers: Be stupid and accept death. The game is designed to reward you for acting like an idiot, not for thinking tactically. The other point is a helpful reminded that some or all of the characters you control WILL kick the bucket in this game...have fun with it.
The next bit is about Genre Points and a helpful guideline of things you might do to earn Genre points: Heading off by yourself, walking away from the Killer's “dead” body, and investigating that strange sound from the cellar are all handy ways to acquire Genre Points...complete with a reminder that the PLAYER gets the Points, not the characters.
Finally, there's a pair of helpful sections on playing your Secondary characters and your Primary characters.
A nice, short chapter that, again, is probably really helpful for experienced players to help ease them into the expectations of the genre.
Chapter Six: The Director
This chapter, oddly, is about running the game.
There's a fairly redundant introduction in this chapter setting up the sub-headings. It's largely paragraph summaries that then direct you to the subheadings for more information and I'm really not sure it was necessary.
The first section is “Preparing the Flick” and it is all about the two basic types of slasher films “Location flicks” and “Event flicks” and a discussion about how that affects your plot. A nice list of creepy locations are included in a sidebar, as well as a short list of scene ideas you can steal in case you need to spice things up.
The section also includes discussion of the Backstory and how important it is to the genre, as well as how to integrate it into the game...and say what you will about the slasher genre, but all the classics actually HAVE a backstory.
The section on creating Tertiary Characters largely tells you what you should have suspected: Do some handwaving. Don't worry about heavy details...hit the key points that will be relevant to the role they are playing in your flick and forget the rest. Spend your time fleshing out your plot and your Killer.
Speaking of: The Killer. Now we get to the meat of making your monster. Give the Killer his basic, backstory, personality (including modus operandi: Does he only kill at the summer camp his Mom died at, does he only show up on Halloween, etc.). From there, give him a Damage Threshold. Finally, components. The book includes a list of over 20 components, some helpful to the Killer and some detrimental. This list is by no means exhaustive, but does cover a lot of ground. With that, your Killer is now complete.
The chapter continues on with discussion about Tone (Horrific vs Schlocky) and tips on Pacing, Description and Mood that you've probably read a time or two. It then veers into the application of cinematic techniques in regards to running this game, such as cut-aways (when part of the game is designed around your players splitting up, you don't want to leave anyone sitting for long) as well as discussions about both sex and gore, both obviously relevant to the genre.
Guidelines are included for the handing out of Genre points, as well as actual application of the rules in the game, arguing towards whatever is more cinematic over what is codified in the rulebook.
The next sections discuss actually playing the Killer and the Tertiary Characters and for organizations sake, I would have placed them alongside the sections about creating the Tertiary Characters and the Killer. Some good advice is here, such as using Tertiary Characters to pad the bodycount and a friendly reminder not to overuse your Killer.
The last section is about the embracing the subgenre and hits on some optional rules like penalizing character for sex and drugs (while rewarding the players), running sequels, running Mystery Killers (which sparked an idea I totally wanna do, once I figure out how to pull it off) and an acknowledgment that a female lead almost ALWAYS survives the slasher flicks...and so this section offers the optional rule of giving any girl who makes it to the Final Two two additional Survival Points to help with that,
Lastly, the book includes both an index and a character sheet, and one that looks plenty large enough to hold everything you need on it.
Final Thoughts
This is an impressive piece of work. The love of the subgenre shines through. The mechanics are designed for genre immersion, and have a very unique hook of rewarding the players to punish their characters. The book certainly READS like the author has succeeded in her goals, and I'll definitely look for the opportunity to play the game to find out. The art is all very cheesy in the best possible way.
On the downside, I'm not a fan of the heavy black borders or the white text on black background for a PDF. Also, there were some slightly wonky organizational issues in my opinion...I'm used to character creation, then rules, for instance. That said, no glaring errors stuck out at me, though the Back For More quality could use some clarification as to exactly what kind of die you're supposed to roll to use the power (reading it, I assume a d6). Still, these minor quibbles are pretty minor in my view, and if you're a fan of horror RPGs or specialized RPGs with a tightly defined focus, Slasher Flick is well worth a look.
This review is from May of 2009 and is being posted here as a precursor to my Slasher Flick: Director's Cut review coming soon.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tommy's Take on ION Guard - ICONS Edition

ION Guard ICONS Edition is a sourcebook for the ICONS RPG put forth by Colin Chapman and Radioactive Ape Designs and covering a section of the supers genre that never seems to get enough support: The cosmic hero subgenre.

Drawing from the obvious inspiration of DC's Green Lantern Corp (and perhaps Marvel's Nova Corp, which I prefer), ION Guard is a 59 page PDF running $7.99 at RPGnow.  It is fully searchable with copy and paste enabled, as well as featuring clickable bookmarks, so it hits all of my important PDF features.  A standard, detailed, table of contents is provided as well, which is always useful.


Our first stop in the book is the ION Guard Manual, which is a two page overview of the ION Guard, including the meaning of ION (Intergalactic Ordinance Network).  It gives an overview of their role as cosmic policemen, explains the significance of their symbol and talks about the creation of the ION Guard, when the last of the Ancients constructed an artificial world around a singularity and then installed himself into the construct, becoming ION Prime, in what reminds me a bit of Oa and the Xandarian Worldmind.  ION Prime created the ION Fists and blasted them into the universe, where they sought out those who have what it takes to wield the ION Fists.


Though the ION Guard has existed for one billion years, the timeline only hits key points from within the last hundred years, such as the emergence of the Sinister Sorcerers of Skathros, Galactus eating Oa (well, it was Infinitus eating Ao, but yeah), the fall, disappearance and reemergence of Manis, an ION Guard gone rogue and now calling himself Maniacus and more.  Wisely, the timeline is left wide open, especially later than 75 years or so, in order to give GMs extra flexibility.


The book tells us that there are many laws to the ION Guard, but three core tenets: Protect The Innocent, Apprehend Wrongdoers and Aid The Cause of Peace.  There is the caveat that ION Guardsmen sometimes fly under the proverbial radar to get criminals when they are out of their jurisdiction, and a second caveat that, yeah, this is awful vague stuff...just like it is in the source material.


The ION Guard begins with ION Prime.  From there, five Guardsmen are selected as The High Guard.  There are 50 Guard Commanders and then individual Guardsmen.  The book gives the five current High Guard, as well as their areas of expertise.  As well, there are 10,000 Guardsmen spread out over 5,000 sectors...meaning there's not a huge density of Guardsmen.


Essentially, there are two methods of recruitment: You volunteer, at which pointed you are tested and interviewed extensively, and if the High Guard and ION Prime agree to it, you are inducted into the ION Guard, given an ION Fist and begin your training.  The other way is when an ION Guardsman falls and the ION Fist detaches from its former owner and seeks out a new Guardsman...if they accept, then that's that, whether the High Guard cares much for it or not.


ION Guard training is designed to winnow out the weak, so that the Guard is as good and as efficient as it can be...only 10% of those who make it TO the training make it THROUGH the training.  After a year of field training with a veteran, then they take The Oath, which makes them a full member:

“With Golden Light
I Fight For Right
Bear ION Fist
Against The Night
This I Swear
With Spirit Hard
Let Evil Fear
The ION Guard”


This chapter details the planet itself, with all its features, such as the Training Academy (complete with Training Robots), the Forcells and their Sentries, plus the Hall of Light, which honors the fallen.  A sidebar is present discussing The Cosmic Singularity, and providing options for just what it actually is, as well as what exposure to it actually does, as the book ultimately leaves this up to the GM.


Really, this chapter is about the ION Fists, also known as the Golden Gauntlets.  The ION Fist channels the power of the Cosmic Singularity, and adjusts itself to fit the hero.  The ION Fist absolutely resists removal, generally requiring that massive damage be done to the bearer first...and even then it should be a huge deal.  Every ION Fist has a handful of powers that it gives, including Flight, Blast, Life Support and Uniform Creation...however, a section is provided for stunt ideas, such as using the ION Fist in unconventional ways.  Also, the ION Fist is vulnerable to Magic.


The one thing I don't like about the book is also one I'm not sure how to fix.  It specifically demands point based creation and, frankly, the thing I like most about ICONS is the random creation...but doing random creation with the ION Fist and without heavy houseruling is...difficult.

One interesting change is that the ICONS core rules seems to eschew the Origin system if you're using point buy...but ION Guard specifically uses Origins with the point buy...with everyone having the Unearthly option that combines two origins (Gimmick and one other Origin), complete with applying the modifiers after spending points.  You get 30 points and you must have a minimum Awareness 6 (before modifiers), Intellect 3 and Willpower 4.  You get the ION Fist, whose powers are set at Rank 8.  Common Qualities and Challenges are presented as well, to help ensure that the characters “fit” the ION Guard.


A selection of mini adventure ideas, such as missing planets, world devastating storms and some tips on taking standard supers adventures and making them “cosmic”.


Three sample Guardsmen are provided: Caine Carston, Maug and Tamari.  The best part of this chapter, however, is the sidebar in mixing the ION Guard with other, non-ION Guard supers...after all, Nova and (especially) The Green Lantern team up with Earth heroes all the time.

We also get the fallen Guardsman Maniacus, who is kinda like Sinestro without any redeeming qualities.  The Sinister Sorcerers of Skathros are statted up here, and are a whole order designed to provide opposition.  Infinitus and his thralls are here as well, with Infinitus not given stats, and his four thralls (Asterox, Komett, Nebulea and Starr) taking some cues from Galactus' Heralds and their focus on the elements, without just being rip-offs.

Finally, the book rounds out with some samples cosmic vehicles, the gravcar, gravtank and starfighters.

A Sketch Gallery, Open Game Content notice and a single teaser for ALIEN EMPIRES caps the book off.


Honestly, this book almost singlehandedly takes ICONS from “looks cool” to “must play”.  Removing ads, table of contents, sketches and full page art pieces and there's maybe 50 pages of content in this book...but MAN are they packed with good stuff.  The Author draws VERY clear inspiration from Marvel and DC's cosmic titles, and manages it in such a way as to make it feel very much like an homage and not a rip-off.  Combine that with just how underserved the cosmic supers genre is, and ION GUARD is practically a must-buy product.

The art, provided by Jess Jennings, is in an “animated” style like the ICONS corebook, but cleaner and tighter pretty much across the board, so it feels like it fits the game while also improving on the standards set.  Similar things could be said about the writing.  ICONS is maddeningly vague in places, while ION GUARD really does provide just enough detail to get you playing, but leaving the big things open for you to do with as you will.

My one complaint is not being sure how to reconcile random generation with the ION Fists.

This book has not only sold me on giving ICONS a go in play, but it also sold me on the BASH version as soon as I'm able to acquire it (BASH is a bit higher on my “must-play” scale than ICONS is).  A third party supplement that is basically a step up on the parent game in just about every way.

Just a great product all around.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion Entries!

Hey folks!

Just to let you all know, the four entries for the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion contest I ran recently are now available to download!

The winning entry features a corrupted fountain, but the document also includes a bad place to rest, a hellish combat set-up and a foul forest!

Again, I want to thank Michael Lively, Tim Kirk, Angry Ghost and Eric Nail for entering...the arrival of each entry put a literal smile on my face, and if I were in the position to do so, they'd all be walking away with something.

Some of these entries are more detailed than the others, but you only need the Explorer's Edition to make use of them.

The PDF is pretty barebones, because it's a small miracle that I know how to compile a PDF together...=)

Please, enjoy, and I hope to announce a new contest VERY SOON.

Edit: Added a Mediafire mirror download.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion Contest Winner!

We have a winner!

Michael Lively, better known as Lysander on the Savage Worlds forums, has won the contest for the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion!

Congratulations to Michael and thanks to all the entrants!

I'm going to try to have all the entries compiled into a PDF and released this weekend for your enjoyment!

Stay tuned for more cool stuff!