Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Caladon Falls Kickstarter

Caladon Falls, which I just reviewed over here, is being brought to print via a Kickstarter-like fundraiser on IndieGoGo.

I *highly* enjoyed Caladon Falls (as I have all of the Suzerain products I've had the pleasure of reviewing thus far), and in addition to some nice new Edges and Hindrances, Caladon Falls provides a full plot point campaign that manages to feel like familiar fantasy while also distinguishing itself with a military twist that really takes advantage of the strengths of the Savage Worlds system?

For my part, I plan on at least chipping in $10 (Suzerain Adventure Deck? YES PLEASE)...more if I can do it (because, frankly, the Savage Mojo production values NEED to be seen in print, in my opinion).

So...check it out, support a great company's awesome gameline for (in my opinion) the best game system on the market today, and get stuff for it. Click that IndieGoGo link up top to learn more and kick in a donation.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

[My WWE Universe Year 2] The Bash

Road to The Bash



You would think Ezekiel Jackson would be tired of losing to Evan Bourne...and yet...afterwardsm Bourne tried to make nice, but it might have just offended Jackson further.

Poor Bolo. Even if Wade Barrett hadn't jumped him on the way to the ring and gave him the Wasteland on the floor, his chances of victory were not good. Big Show tried to keep Barrett from inflicting too much damage, but the outcome of this match was never in doubt.

William Regal and Drew McIntyre looked impressive in destroying Tyson Kidd and Primo in a Ladder Match, proving a point after last night's loss.

In a crushing Fatal Four Way, Edge pinned both Alberto Del Rio and Justin Gabriel while Big Show fought off an interfering Ted DiBiase...and then Big Show triumphed when he and Edge collided!


Rob Van Dam and David Hart Smith made an odd team against Luke Gallows and Mike Knox...who looked impressive as they defeated Van Dam and Smith, despite interference from Cody Rhodes!

Joe Cothern jumped R-Truth from the crowd and wiped him out with a brutal lariat for the win!

Terry Funk was accompanied by Shinsuke Nakamura as he faced Skip Sheffield (w/Heath Slater). The younger and stronger Sheffield did a ton of damage, but the wily Funk inflicted some wounds of his own. However, The Nexus tricked Nakamura into causing a distraction that allowed Sheffield to take a chair to Funk. A Stunner put Funk out moments later.


CM Punk opened the show against Drew McIntyre! William Regal ran out to interfere, but Kofi Kingston ran out to intercept him! Punk got the pin with the GTS!

Big Show and The Greatest American Bolo faced off with Mark Henry and MVP in a Tables Match! MVP and Henry jumped Show and Bolo before the match, but the good guys fought back and Show speared Henry through a table for the win!

Shelton Benjamin and Daniel Bryan picked up an impressive win over Nexus members Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel!

In the main event, Sting faced off with John Cena and Batista in a Triple Threat Tables Match! Despite Cena and Sting both being (mostly) fan favorites, they pulled no fact, Cena won when he drove Sting through a table with the Attitude Adjustment! As Cena celebrated, William Regal and Drew McIntyre came to the ramp and taunted him!



Shinsuke Nakamura's new job description seems to be bodyguard to the babyfaces as R-Truth took on, and defeated, Vance Archer.

Wade Barrett fended off Dolph Ziggler in a good match...until the match was restarted as a Falls Count Anywhere Match! Barrett went after Ziggler with a chair...when Edge stormed the ring and Speared the WWE Champion! Ziggler picked up a huge win thanks to the interference!

William Regal and Drew McIntyre jumped Cryme Tyme before the bell, but nearly regretted it as Shad and JTG took the fight to them! Regal cheated to get the upperhand, when Kofi Kingston came down and got involved! Once the ref removed Kingston, Regal was able to pin JTG by using the ropes for leverage.

As Edge was in the process of taking Alberto Del Rio down in a #1 Contender's Match, Wade Barrett interfered! Edge wound up getting frustrated and nailed Barrett with a chair...and the referee DQed Edge!


The Great Muta fended off an attack by Matt Hardy in order to pin Terry Funk with a Moonsault.

Mike Knox jumped The Rock from behind and hit the Knox Out on the concrete floor to score the pin in a Falls Count Anywhere Match!

In a six man Raw Battle Royal, Sheamus was the first elimination, at the hands of Santino! Ezekiel Jackson got the next elimination, sending Zack Ryder out. Joe Cothern dumped out Ezekiel Jackson as Big Show eliminated Santino, and the two big, bald men squared off! As hard as Cothern hits, it was ultimately Show that prevailed!


The Miz jumped CM Punk before the match in their Extreme Rules Hardcore Title Match. Punk kept him from capitalizing and the match went back and forth. Miz stuck a trash can on Punk's head and whacked it with a chair, and finished him with the Skull Crushing Finale on the can for the win.

Alex Riley looked very impressive against Booker T, but Booker busted him open and put him down with the Book End!

The #1 Contenders Fatal Fourway between Christian, Luke Gallows, William Regal and Shelton Benjamin was crazy, including a Rey Mysterio run-in. Despite a ton of nearfalls, the end came when Christian hit the Killswitch on Gallows while Shelton and Regal fought on the floor, giving Christian the win.

Sting, John Cena and Batista met in a rematch, this one a Ladder Match! Again, it was every man for himself and Sting got split wide open...but he also managed to be the one to climb the ladder and pull off the win!



Apparently The Greatest American Bolo was unavailable as Big Show had to announce a mystery partner to join him against Ted DiBiase and Joe Cothern...Chavo Guerrero! Dolph Ziggler also came out, getting in DiBiase and Cothern's heads and allowing Chavo to pick up an impressive pinfall on DiBiase.

Kane looked impressive, pinning Dolph Ziggler in a Falls Count Anywhere Match to become the #1 Contender to the US title. After the match, he went after Dolph with a chair, but Zack Ryder made the save!

JTG vs Justin Gabriel got so competitive that Heath Slater ran out to interfere, nervous about his partner's chances...but the 450 Splash ended JTG's hopes.

Edge defeated Albero Del Rio in a Iron Man Match that was actually little more than a bloody massacre!


Sheamus jumped Shinsuke Nakamura before their match began, but Nakamura had counters ready for just about everything. However, the Celtic Warrior would not be denied and got the pin with the High Cross.

The Rock collided with Mike Knox and got the pin after Luke Gallows was ejected from ringside!

Despite a prematch attack by Kaval and Christian, Chavo Guerrero and The Greatest American Bolo pulled it together to beat the Christian Coalition.


Sting came out to back up CM Punk against The Miz, but Christian still ran to the ring. As Punk was trying to run off Christian, Miz goaded Sting into taking a shot at him, which got Punk DQed!

William Regal triumphed over Rey Mysterio in a Falls Count Anywhere Match while Drew McIntyre watched on.

Cody Rhodes and Goldust looked brilliant against Mark Henry and MVP in a brutal tables match when Goldust put MVP through a table after the Shattered Dreams!

Batista vs John Cena was interrupted by Alex Riley, who attacked both men! Though neither man seemed too fazed, Cena was the one more distracted, allowing Batista the upperhand. The referee got bumped and Batista took a chair to Cena, then finished him with the Batista Bomb!



Vladimir Kozlov utterly dominated Ted DiBiase.

Romero Contreras completely destroyed David Otunga.

In a SHOCKER, Tyson Kidd and Primo became the #1 Contenders to the Tag Team Titles after William Regal and Drew McIntyre had a miscommunication and Kofi Kingston got involved to disrupt Regal and McIntyre!

Edge picked up even more momentum by pinning Alberto Del Rio in a Steel Cage!


Kane looked dominant, destroying US Champion Evan Bourne in a preview of their title match.

Matt Hardy stood about as much of a chance against Sheamus as you would expect.

In a Fatal Four Way Elimination Match, Mike Knox took on The Rock, Rob Van Dam and Shelton Benjamin! Shelton ate the first People's Elbow and Knox ate the second...RVD powered out of the Sharpshooter and got caught with the Rock Bottom! Rock scored a clean sweep!


The Miz battled CM Punk in a crushing Extreme Rules Match for the Hardcore Title! Late in the match, he hit the Skull Crushing Finale on a bloody Punk but instead of going for the pin, set up a one man conchairto. Punk dodged it and came at Miz with a chair, but got nailed with boot and a DDT on the chair...Miz got his pin!

Rey Mysterio, Yoshi Tatsu, Christian and Kaval faced off in a Fatal Four Way that got turned into a Falls Count Anywhere Match! It stayed mostly along team lines for a while, until William Regal ran in and attacked everyone! There were a ton of nearfalls, but Rey ultimately caught his own partner for the pin!

Goldust picked up a small upset over William Regal with the Final Cut!

John Cena and Batista collided in a #1 Contender's Match! Batista hit the Batista Bomb early, but Kofi Kingston ran in! Later, Batista bumped the ref and went after Cena with a chair, but got caught with a shoulderblock! Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Batista had the Attitude Adjustment scouted! Batista ripped the turnbuckle cover off and sent Cena in, injuring him for another Batista Bomb that finished it!


John Cena and Kofi Kingston looked dominant against Tyson Kidd and Primo, with Cena pinning Kidd to retain the Tag Team Titles.

Kane ambushed Evan Bourne from the crowd and laid waste to him! Bourne kicked out of a Choke Slam and fought valiantly...but Kane hit a second and become the NEW United States Champion!

Randy Orton dismantled Justin Gabriel, sending a message to WWE Champion Wade Barrett!

In a Championship Scramble match for the Intercontinental Title, Christian started off with Drew McIntyre! Drew showed the first signs of injury, but held on against Christian. Hardcore Champion and Christian Coalition member The Miz hit the ring next! Things started getting crazy violent with Christian hitting the Killswitch to The Miz on the floor, and McIntyre bringing the ring steps into play! William Regal hit the ring next, just in time to save McIntyre from Miz! However...he snuck in and pinned McIntyre himself, becoming the interim champion! Kofi came in last, and Miz was waiting with a steel chair! Kofi tried DESPERATELY to pin SOMEONE and retain his title, but time ran out as he covered Christian and William Regal won the Intercontinental title!

Sting came to the ring first, followed by Batista...but both men were shocked when Shawn Michaels' music hit! HBK came out of the crowd and nailed Batista, apparently an official entrant in the match! He immediately went for the Superkick on Sting, but Sting ducked! All three men went back and forth, with Batista hitting Batista Bombs and Sting firing up, locking him in a Scorpion Deathlock! The end came when Sting took a hard fall and HBK went up top...but Batista slid in the ring with the World title and NAILED HBK, knocking him to the mat and pinning him to become the NEW World Champion!

Edge, Alberto Del Rio and The Big Show came out for the main event...while Wade Barrett ran in from the crowd and attacked Show! He hit the Wasteland, but Del Rio broke it up! Barrett and Del Rio went at it and he set Del Rio up for a Wasteland of his own, when Edge hit the Edge-O-Matic on Show to steal the WWE title from Barrett!


1. John Cena (default)
2. Sheamus (Backlash)
3. Triple H (The Bash)
4. Wade Barrett (Royal Rumble)
5. Santino Marella (WrestleMania)
6. Edge (Backlash)
7. Wade Barrett (Extreme Rules)
WWE Champion: Edge (The Bash)
1. The Miz (default)
2. R-Truth (Backlash)
3. The Miz (Extreme Rules)
4. Zack Ryder (The Bash)
5. Ted DiBiase (Night of Champions)
6. Sheamus (Summerslam)
7: Evan Bourne (TLC)
United States Champion: Kane (The Bash)
1. Ted DiBiase (default)
2. The Greatest American Bolo (Feb. Week 3 Year 1 Raw)
3. Batista (Elimination Chamber)
4. Zack Ryder (Apr. Week 4 Year 2 Raw)
Million Dollar Champion: Kane (May Week 2 Year 2 Raw)


1. Rey Mysterio (default)
2. Jack Swagger (Backlash)
3: Sting (TLC)
World Champion: Batista (The Bash)
1. Dolph Ziggler (default)
2. Luke Gallows (Extreme Rules)
3. Christian (The Bash)
4. Kofi Kingston (Night of Champions)
5. Drew McIntyre (Summerslam)
6. Todo Americano (Hell in a Cell)
7. Dolph Ziggler (Nov. Week 4 Year 1 SD)
8. Kane (Elimination Chamber)
9: Kofi Kingston (Backlash)
Intercontinental Champion: William Regal (The Bash)
1. Raven (Dec. Week 2 Year 1 SD)
2. MVP (TLC)
3. Kane (Jan. Week 2 Year 1 SD)
4: Kofi Kingston (Mar. Week 1 Year 1 SD)
Hardcore Champion: The Miz (May Week 1 Year 2 SD)

1. The Hart Dynasty (Default)
2. John Morrison & R-Truth (The Bash)
3. The Hart Dynasty (Summerslam)
4. John Morrison & R-Truth (Hell in a Cell)
5. Straight Edge Society (Bragging Rights)
6: William Regal & Drew McIntyre (Elimination Chamber)
Unified Tag Team Champions: John Cena & Kofi Kingston

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tommy's Take on New Gods of Mankind New God's Handbook

The New Gods of Mankind New God's Handbook was sent to me by Dark Skull Games out of the blue last year and I kept wanting to really dig into it, but I discovered that I basically have no time to read books now if I'm not reviewing them, so here you go.

New Gods of Mankind is an RPG where you play a God. Not a human with the power of a God, or an otherwise overblown superhero, but a God - the deity with power over a people who worship you.

This review is of the PDF version, which is searchable, bookmarked and copy and paste enabled, and clocks in at 162 pages in black and white. The PDF is $9.95 at RPGnow, or available in a Print + PDF bundle through Indie Press Revolution.


A pretty basic overview: Humanity is young and inhabits the world with the elder races and their Gods, while the players take the role of the Gods that are guiding humanity in the world. The game uses d4s, d6s, d8s, d10s and d12s.

We also get a glossary of important terms, both game terms and setting terms, as well as an *extensive* bibliography, from references to Greek myth to Elric to DC's Sandman to Apocalyto to the board game Risk: Godstorm to the video game Actraiser. Frankly, I was sad to see no reference to Populus, which is the first thing I think of with this type of game.


This is an in-character guide to the world at large. It is well organized and broken down by continent, from the Chief Intelligence Officer of a Salamander Army. The in-character voice isn't terribly distracting, but this section suffers a bit as there are notations like "Starting Area" (which the text notes have no divine presence in the area, which can be construed as an opening for the PC deities). Every entry also has bolded information including Prominent Seasons and Environmental Types such as Lush, Harsh and Uninhabitable with races in parenthesis such as Lush (Gnomes) or Harsh (Undine). Presumably this has an in-game impact, but it isn't explained in any way going into it. From an organizational standpoint, it's a small strike.

There are dozens of entries listed, covering a lot of ground, with important details and history on each region as well as basic descriptions of how the present races look in a given area.


While the previous chapter was all about the physical realm, now we get into the spiritual, where the Gods call home.

There are four Celestial Spheres, based on the seasons: Everwinter, Eternal Spring, Endless Summer and Perpetual Autumn, and each God picks one of those Spheres to become his home. In the Veil of Dreams, the Gods can implant thoughts and desires into the heads of their followers. The Fires of Creation are the remnants of the Creation of Everything, while The Abyss is the hellish void that exists where the Fires do not. The Well of Souls gives souls to the living, and those who die without a patron God return here to fuel a new body with a soul later.

The Celestial Gardens consist of seven gardens based off of emotions, where Fate (which is both an in-game force and the name for the GM), often roams to send the dead on their way. Each of the seven gardens has a unique feel to it, with the Tropical Garden of Adoration, Lust and Revulsion obviously different than the pine tree covered Frost Gardens of Joy, Pain and Sorrow.

The Spirit World is filled with three other, non-divine, types: Spirits, which are the souls of the dead...Demons, which are rogue spirits with the ability to break free from the Well of Souls and enter the Known World, and Leviathans which remind me more than a little of Lovecraftian horrors perhaps toned down a hair.

Spirits of notable and legendary beings can become Ancestral Spirits, removed from the cycle of rebirth, and some can even become Gods or Leviathans. Those who have been violently wronged can transform into Raging Souls, and they usually always wind up evil and corrupt, regardless of how justified their rage was initially.

This section also details how Spirits can become Gods, and how Gods and Spirits alike can become Leviathans. Lastly, the section discusses Fate and its Grapplers, special creatures that it sends to hunt rogue spirits as well as demons, and a lip service discussion of The Creator, the one that created even Fate, who remains mysterious and above the fray.


Right off the bat we can see that character creation is going to be a bit different in this game than in most. Sure, you start off with concept (and if all the PCs are part of the same unified pantheon, you guys kinda need to hash out the roles in said pantheon), but from there it gets different. See, now you define your symbols, which your followers wear and use and so forth.

The next bit is selecting your Primary Domain and three Secondary Domains. Anyone who is a fan of mythology knows you can have a little fun with this, because there are all kinds of crazy examples of Gods who rule over two or more areas that don't seem to make a ton of sense on the surface. While you CAN affect things outside of your Domains, it is much easier to affect the stuff within them.

Miracles are divided into four types: Creation, Destruction, Transformation and Control, and you pick one to be In Harmony with, two to be In Balance with, and one to be In Opposition to.

Then you define your Followers (you start with 100), including name, location and even form of government. Every God gets 50 Belief (you gain more from followers), which are used to perform Miracles. You also define your Commandments, how your Followers are supposed to worship you, etc.

A number of d100 charts are provided to randomly select a title for your God, as well as their Domains. The chapter concludes with discussion of a number of topics, including multiple ways a God can be created, as well as Incarnation rules - when your God decides to manifest in a physical form in the Known World.


All conflicts use a singular dice mechanic for resolution: Each side determines the appropriate dice pool, rolls it, the highest single die wins.

You set the Scale, which ranges from Individual to Continent, with four steps in between, and that helps determine the number of tokens each side gets. Example: If two armies of 5,000 soldiers apiece fight, that's Territory scale, which means that each token is equivalent to 1,000 people, so each side gets 5 tokens. If numbers are horribly imbalanced, there are penalties that come into play. The number of tokens determines the number of dice rolled, and the type of dice rolled is rated from d4 to d12, based on overall competence.

That's the basic mechanic, although differing unit types, one side being outnumbered, and other factors can adjust die types up and down, even into d4s with penalties and d12s with bonuses. The Gods also get to step in, unleashing Miracles that can tip the sides for their Followers. Once all such jockeying is complete, each rolls their pool and compares. If it's a situation in which one side can be diminished, then the number of dice that the winning side rolls above and beyond the highest die on the losing side reduces the losing side by that many tokens. This continues until the conflict is decided.

Winning sides gain Belief, losing sides lose Belief.

As for Miracles, they are a little faster and looser: Determine what you want to happen, then determine how it happens. Describe the Miracle, calculate the cost of the Miracle using the handy provided charts, then pay the amount of Belief in order to make it happen. However, rival deities can spend Belief to cast counter Miracles of their own.

Gods also have two others interesting resources available to them: They can empower individual Followers into becoming Heroes, as well as create Artifacts for their Followers to use.

You can also use Terror to fuel your Miracles, but this is a slippery slope that can turn you into a Leviathan, which means NPC territory.

Once a year, usually in your Holy Season, you perform maintenance, in which you collect Belief from your Followers. Without performing tasks that benefit your Followers, you will see smaller amounts of Belief...however, if you perform TOO many Miracles, you can make them overly dependent on your Miracles, and if you ever start to cut them off, well, except an angry support base...

Finally, there is a d100 Table of Yearly Events that each God can be forced to deal with. For instance, your Followers may begin to develop independence (in a good way): They take your assistance in stride, but don't becoming dependent. However, Famine may set in, causing a loss in your number of Followers, and so on.


Having a hard time wrapping your head around the idea of playing a God in an RPG? How about in a board game, instead?

Here are a number of rules for making it into more of a board game, starting with dividing up the game map into hexes, splitting your followers into colored tokens (black = productive, white = nonproductive, red = military), each with their own tasks. Those bolded Territory descriptors from Chapter 2 now come into play, as the number of tokens that a race can have on a territory is determined by the suitability of the environment.

And yes, you can mix and match the board game and RPG rules if you so choose.


As it says: Examples to show you what's what, complete with math breakdowns. 10 Miracles of each inclination are provided. Creation Miracles include Godseed (immaculate conception) and Rain-Bringer (great when your villages are burning). Transformation Miracles include Casting OFf Winter's Cloak (turning winter to spring) and Redoubt (turning raw materials into a fortification). Destruction Miracles include Blight (destroying crops over a day) and Eradication of the Blasphemous Shrine (kinda what it sounds like). Control includes Command the Beast (can be used to, say, save a Follower from a wild animal) and History Rewritten (this actually changes the memories of the target).

A five deity Pantheon is detailed, right down to Followers and Commandments for each, and then a sample play told in prose style, with a sidebar to the side tagged with footnotes throughout the prose, explaining the game mechanics.

It's a very helpful chapter that helps you break down some of the concepts from hypothetical into actual, with the Miracles and sample Pantheon being equally useful.


While humanity is young, there are other races in the world, and this chapter provides a fairly extensive amount of detail on the four Elder Races, as well as four minor races.

Undines are a partially aquatic, and I say "partially" because they can wear different forms on land and sea.

Sylphs are small, winged creatures that rarely congregate and are constantly roaming across The Known World, seeking new curiosities.

Salamanders are fierce and war-like, and would be glad to force all other creatures to serve them.

Gnomes actually resemble the common fantasy depiction of dwarves more than a little bit, although they are literally made from stone.

Minor races include Forest Giants, of which there are merely a dozen remaining; Wood Nymphs (which somewhat resemble an extreme take on the stereotype of Wood Elves and include a "Dark" variant) and Jurelian Giants, who are the most freakish of the lot: Fur covered with three eyes and four arms.

A pretty comprehensive index rounds it out, as well as a three page character sheet (with character stuff, miracle stuff and campaign stuff, respectively).


First off, I love the concept. I am hard pressed to think of many RPGs in which you play an actual God, with mythological, Godlike powers, and not the somewhat neutered, "Gods Walk The Earth" kind of thing. So they get points right there, even if they did snub Populous.

I had a lot of difficulty getting past that first setting chapter, but it wasn't so much the writing as it was the filter I'm starting to develop for certain naming conventions (long time readers of this blog have seen me complain about it in the past). Places like Ar-Naluun, Hrace, Rhok-Nirith and so on just kinda crash together in my head. I'm not saying this is objectively bad, it's's a personal thing of mine. The writing was very well done, I thought, through pretty much everything, although I did feel like the organization could have been tighter. Namely, there are a few places where it feels like a topic is discussed...the text moves on to a new topic...and then back to a prior topic.

One other gripe is that I would certainly have collected all of the various tables together, either in the back of the book or a standalone PDF document, for easy reference. The fact is, the calculations are big enough in most cases that you will wind up looking for tables, and a quick reference could have gone far. (It is worth noting that the printable Fate's Screen may well serve this function, but it is hard to tell from the product preview on RPGNow).

One major plus is that while there are currently three supplements available, there is more than enough information in this book to run the game without any other products needed.

New Gods of Mankind is very interesting Bronze Age fantasy game that only lightly plays on common fantasy RPG presumptions. I'm hard pressed to think of another game on the market quite like it, and it feels oddly less like a "powergame" than many RPGs of a lesser scope do. Great work by Dark Skull Studios, who are making a real effort at getting their name out there with a revised website and renewed convention appearances after an apparent hiatus from the gaming scene (their last commercial product was released in 2008, this book is almost for years old).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Part-Time Gods Kickstarter

Just to let those who are interested know, Eloy Lasanta and Third Eye Games have gone the Kickstarter route with his new RPG, Part-Time Gods. Kind of like "Scion", but with a sense of humor, Part-Time Gods is all about normal people suddenly given a divine spark.

Honestly, I haven't gotten behind a Kickstarter before, but there hasn't been a whole lot I would consider buying essentially sight unseen...but Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. and Wu Xing both fill me with a ton of confidence in Part-Time Gods.

In less than two days, they have crossed the $1,000 mark, which is very promising. While I doubt I am able to get myself written into the RPG ($100 or more), I plan on at least ensuring my copies of the RPG in PDF and print. Hit this link for more information, including an "in brief" PDF document if you'd like to learn more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tommy's Take on Caladon Falls

Caladon Falls is a Savage Suzerain sourcebook that returns to the world of Relic, which was first visited in the Savage Suzerain book.

Caladon Falls is available as a 148 page PDF, costing $19.95 at RPGnow and, like the previous Suzerain products, is full color and gorgeous. The PDF is fully bookmarked and searchable.

Much like many Savage Worlds products, Caladon Falls is split into two sections, one for the players and one for the GMs.


We start off with a brief history of the world, and I have to say I'm thrilled that it's only about a page long. I've just read a lot of fantasy world histories lately is all.

A discussion of languages is given, and directions are fairly annoyingly given as "Riseward, Setward, Steppeward and Seaward" instead of typical compass directions. It's not a HUGE thing, but I don't think it really adds anthing to the setting.


This is a rundown of the political structure of the realm, from the High King to the Noble Houses, which can play an important role in Caladon. There are four "rings" in each house, with political games being played among the circles.

There are seven houses, each with their own schtick. House Killian is rumored to be filled with shapeshifters, while House Laneer is focused on crafting steel and stone. House Marron are horse breeders, and House Sumner is wealthy and a little decadent. House Thrace are woodsmen and House Vesper are scholars, while House Wallend are tied very closely to nature. The text advises that there is a free supplement at the Savage Mojo website that details the houses further.

The Church of Trinity is the major religion of Caladon, and resembles Christianity more than a bit.

The Wizards Guild is the governing body of the wizards, and is specialized into five different branches depending on your wizard's focus.


Here we get a nice map of Caladon, and detail of the important areas and landmarks, such as Caladon Falls, the capital city of Caladon. Every location is given at least a paragraph, and usually more, though the description never gets bogged down.


Character creation is functionally identical to standard Suzerain generation, except for two things: 1) You are assumed to have some loyalty to either Caladon or doing good in general...and 2) you can take Heroic as an ADDITIONAL Hindrance above and beyond your normal ones, and in doing so, take an non-Legendary or Demigod Edge and ignore the rank requirements.

There are a number of new Hindrances, like Renegade Wizard and Homesick, as well as "recessive" Hindrances, which mean you are only able to use one of our racial abilities.

The Noble Edge is heavily modified, given the heavily political nature of the Noble Houses, and is now ranked in three levels.

New Edges include racial edges like Banshee (which aren't undead, but do have sonic powers), Dragon Kin and Dryads. There are a number of military Edges as well, which makes sense with the included campaign. Nobles can take House Gift, which bestows a special perk depending on the House the PC is a member of. "Nobody" is a nice Edge as well: You can essentially fade into the background in most situations, because the PC is just has nothing "noticeable" about them.

Three new Pulse Paths (Druid, Enchanter and Protector) are given, as well as some new powers (Druids can literally summon a refreshing rain that follows them around).

There are new Telesma Edges as well, like Weapon of Destiny that lets PCs summon a melee weapon from the Telesma, Weapon of Power which makes your exisitng weapon more lethal and Weapon of Spirit that can allow your weapon to strike spirits.


Caladon Falls has some unique quirks in the construction of some of the weapons and armor, and this section details those, as well as providing pricing for the new gear that's available.

GM Section

And now we get important setting information.


There's a war on, and Caladon Falls is under assault The Warlocks, who wield Wild Magic and are trying to do Very Bad Things to the world.

There's a nice system given for Wild Taint, which can be used to take any monster, animal or person and tweak them, showing the corrupting effects of Wild Magic, using a card draw and checking the suit and value of the card for the effects.


This is all about the organization and operations of the Caladon Army, which the PCs are very likely to wind up being a part of, especially if you use the campaign given in the book.

I do love me some random tables, and an interesting Random Patrol Table is also given, which can generate dangerous or beneficial encounters depending on suit readings.

There is also a sidebar on generating ruins that's interesting: You can let the players create the ruins for you...and you collect Karma while this is going on. Then you can spend the Karma to make their assumptions false as you play.


The Plot Point Campaign is divided into three acts, meant to be started at Novice (but not necessarily using the first adventure as the PCs' first adventure).

I'm gonna go pretty light on description here so I don't spoil it for anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled...or so that players can't find this review and get info the GM doesn't want them to have.

Act I begins with the PCs as regular fantasy adventurers who hear rumors of things that aren't quite man or beast doing Very Bad Things...and getting to find out that those rumors are very much true, even if they have no proof at first. Pretty quickly the campaign shifts well out of standard fantasy territory, with the PCs being conscripted into the militia (and now you know why that whole "loyalty" prerequisite is there).

Act II should see them as Seasoned characters, and the Wild Taint is growing. Additionally, the military theme becomes more pronounced, with opportunities for using the Mass Combat rules presenting themselves. By the end of the Act, the PCs are forced to deal with something far more harrowing than military combat: Politics.

Act III should see the PCs as Veterans, and it begins with both hope and betrayal. The battle finally comes to Caladon Falls, with the PCs hopefully waging war successfully against the Wild Army. I will say this much: The climax isn't the climax, and events happen that take things back out of the Mass Combat scale and back to the more satisfying personal scale. I will also say that I wasn't completely thrilled with the Big Bad, if only because it bore a striking similarity to the Big Bads of a pair of previous Suzerain Plot Points.

At the end, the PCs are just now Heroic (or should be)...meaning that only now should their Telesmae awaken, and the heroes get their first glimpse at a much broader reality. Interestingly, a sequel campaign is already promised, if the PCs wish to stay in Relic and continue the War.

My disappointment in the Big Bad aside, I give them major props for a campaign that has a much different feel than your normal fantasy campaign. It feels a bit like Warhammer with the Wild Army and the spreading corruption, and Savage Worlds is VERY well suited to a game with skirmish level conflicts on up.


Sixteen Savage Tales, spread out among the experience levels. Some are given for very specific points in the Campaign, with virtually all at least tied in with the Wild Taint. In fact, the Savage Tales are presented in a viable order for running them, if you so choose. There's even a jaunt into the Spirit World to shake things up a bit.


Two dozen new monsters, including animals specific to Caladon, probably the scariest looking wraiths I have ever seen, and a unique take on gorgons unlike any previous version I had seen before.


The final entry is for stat blocks relevant to the army, most likely used as Extras when the PCs are fighting in large groups.


Another very well done book showcasing how Suzerain can build to the game-changing Heroic rank instead of just being high powered, as well as providing a very nonstandard take on the fantasy campaign while still feeling like a fantasy campaign.

I did catch a few typos that made it past editing, and I would have liked basically any other type of Big Bad more, but this is still some top quality work, and would be a GREAT way to introduce a group to Suzerain.

Tommy's Take on Wizkid: The Cheapening

Wizkid: The Cheapening is set in Postmortem Studios' World of Darkness parody "The Shadow World", although it levels its aim more squarely at Harry Potter than it seems to any version of Mage.

This is my second Postmortem Studios review and my first Shadow World review, and I will warn you up front: Wizkid is full of salty language and raunchy humor, and whether or not that's an issue for you should determine whether you pick the game up or not. I wasn't offended by anything in the book, but I'm not an easily offended guy.

Powered by their in-house Xpress system, retailing for $8.50 in PDF format at RPGnow, and making no references to Atlantis (yay!), Wizkid is 166 black and white pages (well, the cover is in color), fully bookmarked, searchable and all that.


Pretty basic introduction, complete with (I assume) Postmortem's patentented "Hey, if you're pirating this and you like it, buy it so we can make more" message. They also toss a shoutout to their other Shadow World games, Bloodsucker: The Angst and Chav: The Knifing, neither of which have I had the opportunity to read yet.

We also get a basic explanation of the system, which is rolling a number of d6s equal to your stat and trying to reach a target number set by the appropriate skill. Any dice that hit the target number can then be rerolled once, and you count up the successes.

Oh, and wizard types use Magic(k), because people love that extra "k". The introduction also gives an overview of the wizarding world, complete with an explosion of wizarding applicants due to a certain fantasy author's novels about teenage wizards.

A four page glossary clues you in on most of the major terms you need to be aware of, including the monster types roaming around The Shadow World, as well as important British school terms for yankee rednecks like myself.

Oh, and it is worth noting that quotes are used for just about every heading throughout the book, and they are often quite hilarious.


This would be character generation, then. Character generation is based on a point buy system, with stats (which are ranked 1-5) costing more the higher you purchase them. You get ten of them, which come in active-passive sets: Strength and Resilience, Dexterity and Speed, Intelligence and Perception, Charm and Control and Resolve and Patience...and each stat in a set has to be within two points of each other.

You also pick a schtick ("The fat kid", "stoned out of your mind", "lecherous creep", etc.). After that, you pick one of the four Houses: Crow's Feet - Moody Goth kids, Hippogriffs - Valiant, but a bit self-righteous, Hubblebubble - Annoyingly perky, and Slithering - Arrogant and borderline(?) evil.

You get separate pools of points to spend on skills, which are bought the same way as stats, although you can also purchase a focus for a given skill if you choose, which give you an extra die for die rolls.

Magic(k) is divide up into four Realms: Buff, Create, Destroy and Nerf, and your chosen House gives you one Realm as a Superior Realm and one as an Inferior Realm. Again, you buy Realms the same way as everything else, except your Superior Realm costs half as much and your Inferior Realm costs twice as much.

You pick your Trademark Spell and merits and flaws to round out your character, including House Points, which are a measure of your social standing and are affected by a bunch of stuff.

Each of the Houses are given a two page rundown, with one page being an image of a sample student and the other detailing the stereotypical mindset of the House, including why their Superior and Inferior Realms are what they are, and giving characters a Strength and Weakness. For instance, the emo Crow's Feet kids never reroll Resolve dice because they're too lethargic to care, while Slithering Wizkids get a discount on purchasing the Control stat because they tend to be more authoritative than others. In true White Wolf parody fashion, each House has a pithy "What we think about the other houses" remark.

The jokes in this chapter all work, especially if you've read the Harry Potter books (or at least watched the movies), but I do have two gripes: 1) The character generation borders on way  too much beancounting for a comedy game, and 2) from an organizational standpoint, the summaries of the various stats, skills, merits, flaws, etc could have at least appeared in the same order as they appeared in the character generation breakdown.


Here is where everything gets explained, starting with an example for each statistic. In addition to the examples, we get the target numbers based off of skill level, as well as an explanation of the degrees of success.

In addition, you can have bonuses or penalties, which affect the number of dice rolled, and if you get reduced to zero dice, you can't attempt the action.

Presumably, this stuff is all present in the other Xpress/Shadow World games, but when we get into the actual Magic(k) stuff, which separates Wizkid from Bloodsuckers and Chav. Wizkids use Wiz to power their spells, and you can gain more Wiz for some humorously absurd reasons, like writing bad fan fic, drinking energy drinks and "pleasuring" your partner successfully.

Wizkids can also "see" magic(k) (of presumably any kind), as well as make pocket dimensions that they can hide in, or store items in.


There are 40 skills in the game, and each one gets a fluff piece (that is explained mechanically in an example), a short description and some suggest Foci (such a "Sob Story" for the Acting skill).

Skills like Brawl, Dodge and Firearm are joined by Comedy, Folklore and Party Hardy. 40 skills is more than I normally like in a game, but this chapter is well written and well organized, so that helps.


Spells are pretty straightforward. They all use one of the Stats as basis, and are grounded in one of four Realms, which act as skills for the mechanical purposes. Every spell cast costs 1 Wiz point and number of successes equals Potency.

Buff spells cover everything from Combat Buffing and Healing to Invisibility. Basically, if it alters the target, it's a Buff spell.

Create spells create. This can be items and creatures, or it can be extended to teleportation and making the previously mentioned Pocket Dimensions.

There are a few variations of the Destroy Realm, from Stun and Destroy Object to Kill and Magic(k) Missile (the former generally kills or not, outright...the latter inflicts damage).

Nerf is used to negatively impact fact, nearly every spell given is written as the opposite of the Buff spells.

Everyone gets a Trademark spell, which coss no Wiz and generally use a better die, they are not subject to botches. Speaking of...if a spell roll ends in all 1s...there's a table for that. You can accidentally summon Bad Things like Orcs, Dragons or Cthulhu, cause yourself to bleed from every orifice, or accidentally set the spell off at a hyped up potency.


Merits are thematic stuff like Cool Shaped Scar, Cool Parents, Horrible Life (being emo has its perks in this game), having an Indentured Supernatural or having a Pact With Darkness to draw on.

Flaws include Arachnophobia, having an Annoying Sibling, a Fashion Dictated Sexuality (being Straight, Gay or Bi on a whim) or Paddling in Egypt (meaning you're in deep denial).

And if that's not enough, a decent formula for price setting your own Merits and Flaws.


A discussion of common topics, like personality and experience, as well as "Wizdom", which is the "Morality" system of Wizkids (and reminds me more than a little of Banality from Changeling: The Dreaming).

They recommend the 20 Questions approach in lieu of detailed character backgrounds, but honestly, I'm not even a giant fan of 20 Questions, personally.

Lastly, we get rules on weapons and equipment, as well as how socially minded characters can make their school uniforms work for them.


Initiative is a set number, derived from combining Speed and Perception. Rather than Hit Points, characters have Wound Levels that, unfortunately, look like a bad parody of wounds in the Storyteller system.

There aren't a ton of tactical rules, though there are rules for trying to Dispel a spell being  cast at them.

The chapter also includes rules for Bigpitch, a Quidditch parody.


This gives a good overview of the structure of Magic(k) schools, including who is capable of affecting House Points held by the Wizkids.


And now we find out how Wizkids interact with The Shadow World.

The sections are divided up into Africa, America, Asia, Europe, India and the Middle East, complete with the houses that hold the most sway in each area, as well as a liberally sprinkling of acidic wit by the author for most of the places mentioned.


Ah, the bestiary.

Big Birds, Giant Spiders, Dragons, Orcs, Elves...even Gelatinous Cubes (with a taste chart corresponding with the color) are here.

Unfortunately, Chavs and Bloodsuckers are both mentioned, but not detailed in any way...and GMs wanting to use them are directed to their own games, as the chapter lacks even "shorthand" versions of Chavs and Bloodsuckers to get you started.


Just a little campaign advice, as well as 20 different adventure seeds to run with, for inspiration or when you need game tonight and you're stumped.


This appendix seems like a bizarre arifact in this game, presumably left over from the two games that came before it where it would be more fitting for the most part.

Blurbs advertising upcoming product, a two page character sheet and an index finish out the book.


This is only my second review of a Postmortem Studios game (and my first Xpress/Shadow World review), and I again notice that while they are going for the jokes, they are remembering to put actual, playable games out there. The writing is sharp and clever, especially for people familiar with The World of Darkness and especially Harry Potter.

There are some downsides, though: The art is nothing impressive, and that's fine...but a few pieces show up multiple times in this book. The other big gripe I have is that the game borders at points on being too "big/complicated/whatever" for a comedy game, especially the sheer number of Health Boxes PCs wind up with.

Heck, you could probably run it pretty straight and use it as a good Harry Potter game if you wanted, and the right group could have a grand ol' time playing it as intended...just be aware that the writing is NOT for all audiences, ESPECIALLY the young or easily offended.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Third Eye Games Fights For Autism Awareness

I haven't exactly been subtle about the fact that I'm a big fan of Third Eye Games, both Wu Xing and Apocalypse Prevention Inc. What neither Eloy nor myself realized until recently is that we shared a common experience: We are both parents of autistic children (him having a son, myself having a daughter). I should have shared this earlier, but I failed to: April is Autism Awareness Month, and Third Eye Games is donating 10% of all their profits to AutismTalks, so I encourage anyone who has had any interest in picking up anything by Third Eye Games to do so this month, from RPGNow or Studio 2 Publishing.

To read a review of pretty much anything they have released thus far, you can click here. Plus, for this month, you can get 20% off Apocalypse Prevention Inc. at RPGnow by using checkout code DTRPGAprilPodBlog2011.

(This code will also give you 20% off Dirty Secrets by Dark Omen Games, Wraith Recon by Mongoose, Lexicon of Traps by Ennead Games and Shadow, Sword & Spell by Rogue Games.)

They make great games. I own everything they have released thus far, in some format or another, so I don't make the recommendation support a great cause and buy some great games.


For more information on this charity or to give directly, visit

Tommy's Take on Chronicles of Ramlar World Guide

Chronicles of Ramlar is a two-volume set, essentially, with most of the rules in the Player's Guide and most of the setting material in the World Guide. The World Guide is 228 book available for $20 in black and white.

Unfortunately, three of the first four chapters seem to be largely cut and pasted from the Player's Guide, which I reviewed recently. The Introduction, Founding and Races chapter all appear to be identical to the like chapters in the Player's Guide, right down to the art used. That is...disappointing, to say the least.

In between the Founding and Races chapter we do get a new chapter on the Dakass Luot, which is a 2,000 year war waged between good and evil, and the summary of the ten major events of the war. The evil elves (the Druegarn) invaded the surface world en masse, with orcs, goblins and demons in tow. Ultimately, the tide was turned by the betrayal of the One Good Dark Elf, named Istolil Hune.


The original content kicks in full here, with life after the Dakass Luot. The calendar is 480 days, divided up in 12 months of 40 days each.

One neat tidbit in this section are the 16 constellations, which PCs can use as their birthsigns. 12 of these provide benefits at different points in time when they are in influence in the sky.

While the remainder of the chapter does a nice job detailing the climate, plant life and even the alphabet of the major languages, it also oddly includes a set of artifacts. There are some interesting items, like Gabrun's Book of Darkness (an homage to the Necronomicon), a small cube that turns into an impenetrable fortress and a sword that drinks souls. I have no qualms with the items...just their placement, as they seem to be an odd choice for a "Life in Eranon" chapter.


The world was divided into four "Marks" by dwarfs, and here we get into the main geography of the world. Each Mark is dominated by a certain type of land. The First Mark is largely frozen, dominated by The Chill. The Second Mark is heavily forested, while the Third Mark consists largely of desert. The Fourth Mark is covered in jungle.

All of the cities and settlements are given population breakdowns, the type of government that rules them, as well as major imports and exports. From there, history is given as well as discussion of the local economy, the criminal activity present in each area, interesting locations and rumors.

There is plenty of information given for each location but it stops short of being overwritten, with a lot of the plot seeds giving you just enough for a jumping off point, while allowing plenty of room for your own interpretation. For a GM willing to do a little work developing the plot seeds, there is enough material in any single Mark to get a ton of mileage out of, and that's without creating anything whole cloth of your own.


Here are the major NPCs of the setting.

Most of these are fully statted out, including their current Demeanor/Theme circles, with pictures accompanying most, if not all of them.

Alistra Monshae is an attractive, well connected spy.

Istolil Hune, the Druegarn that helped Good win the war, is going to drive some people batty...he is a mega powerful good guy NPC who is left without stats and is basically a plot device, almost like an amalgam of Eliminster and Drizzt Do'Urden.

Jaclyn Alcuin is a high level Forest Guardian, watching over Brightwood Forest.

Kroc is an Orc Wizard, presented as a glaring exception of orcs in just about every way.

The Mask is a Druegarn vigilante, wearing a mask to cover the fact that he comes from a predominantly evil race.

Captain Mulra Eshani is a former pirate captain now taken to acting as a bit of a Robin Hood.

Nodde Dynel is a halfling shopkeep who has spent time in the King's Army.

Prince Ordur Talmout is a dwarf Warrior/Wizard who is secretly heading up a resistance movement against his own parents who aren't necessarily EVIL as set in their ways.

Seras Thorne is a valiant, griffon-riding Sky Knight.

Tenthonlial Lania is an ancient Life Giver and a reluctant leader.

Finally, Zychariss is a powerful lich and essentially The Big Bad. Zychariss isn't given stats either, but this is so he can be tailored to any given campaign in order to be the biggest threat he can be.

It's an alright section, but a "Tips for your campaign" section for each would have been GREAT.


In the text infodump in the Player's Guide, the Alari and Eleri just completely ran together on me.

This chapter goes a LONG ways towards alleviating that, giving many of them a picture, and all of them a fluff piece, some background on how their followers organize and behave and a description of their holy symbol.

Just an incredibly useful piece in sorting out the mythology of the setting.


There are seven species of dragon and, in a break from the D&D tropes, they are not sorted by color. Rather, they all have black markings on their face whose patterns are unique to each species.

The flightless Albesherak are fairly insane, and are actually spawned entirely from interspecies mating.

Cyantheer are small and vicious dragons that often gather in packs.

Gethnarsus are fairly indifferent to the world at large, and have the psychic ability to mesmerize their targets.

Lerinia are mostly good dragons in that they are not compelled to do harm to people, and can be convinced to provide aid.

Magentura are wicked beasties who have a knack for tracking down those that are weak and suffering.

Rezthanin actively seek to promote the good and fight for the betterment of the world.

Finally, Teshsharin are nocturnal, territorial dragons that will destroy any trespassers.

The chapter ends with a hook about seven rumored dragon statutes capable of summoning a grand, apocalyptic dragon that could provide the biggest threat the world has ever seen.

I do like how we still get "good dragons" and "bad dragons", but they are a bit different from the standard D&D dragons.


A few pages of states for a few dozen animals like bears, tigers, snakes, etc. There is also a sidebar on animal allies, including building them from scratch if you choose, as well as guidelines on leveling them up.


While the Player's Guide had a mini bestiary, we get the fuller treatment here, including the half a dozen or so monsters from the other book.

Many of the beasts look horrific and almost border on eldritch horrors in their appearance. A few are little more than animals, often predatory, and there are some demons standing more than 20 feet tall.

There are some omissions, as text from the this book and the Player's Guide mention mummies and wraiths, which are not present in this bestiary, although you could probably adapt the Winshar (specifically the spirts of dead sevar) for wraiths with a little work.

A pronounciation guide for a ton of the important names and terms is provided in the book, which is pretty welcome.

The book ends with some of the summary tables from the Player's Guide, as well as the character sheet.


Definitely a lot of potential, but it falls short. A lot of the information in the book makes the setting easier to care about, but reprinting three chapters, omitting monsters specifically referenced in the text and a lack of an index (or bookmarks in the PDF) are some pretty serious strikes against the product.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tommy's Take on Chronicles of Ramlar Player's Guide

Yeah, I'm way behind on reviews.

Next on the list is the Chronicles of Ramlar Player's Guide (Revised Edition) by White Silver Publishing, a class and level based fantasy RPG that says up front that it is NOT a Fantasy Heartbreaker.

I'm not even 100% sure what that means, but I love fantasy and don't really like D&D, so that means I tend to leave my opinions open when I look at fantasy RPGs.

This review is specifically of the PDF version, which you can get for $10 at RPGnow. The PDF is a fairly hefty 218 pages, and is basically half of the core, with the world Guide rounding it all out.


One thing I will say about the intro. The authors actually encourage you to pick up other RPGs if you want to learn what roleplaying games are. That kinda of surprised me a little bit.

Anywho: Ramlar is the Maker of All, and you are adventuring on the world of Eranon, attempting to perform legendary deeds and become immortalized in The Book.

The game is powered by the A/B System (Armor/Body), and uses a percentile dice mechanic of the "roll under" variety. It also supports three different scales of action: Heroic, Adventurous and Mortal. The type of game played can modify

The introduction works pretty hard to sell you on the game, while providing an overview of not only the system, but the four quadrants of the world.

The tone is almost too conversational and seems to try too hard to sell you on the game, though your mileage may vary. However, there do seem to be some good ideas in the game, if the introduction is any indication, although I am not too keen on the idea of a combat system revolving around hit locations and armor protection to the point that the character sheets utilize diagrams for this purpose.


This chapter literally begins with the creation of the world, combining a monotheistic approach with a polytheistic approach: Ramlar made the world and ten gods called the Alari - five male and five female - and gave them the power to make up to three further gods each, these being called the elari.

As tends to happen with pantheons, everyone got their own areas of influence, but one of the Alari, Gabrun, broke Ramlar's rules and essentially brought sin and evil to the world. Once Ramlar found out, he was fairly ticked.

Ultimately, the Alari each wind up with their own domains, but have to leave the world to the mortal races, at least directly. Not an uncommon set-up for a fantasy world, but certainly not a bad one. You still essentially get the gods to play around with, but their direct influence is limited.

One thing that stands out early on as a negative, to me at least, is that I am getting old...and in getting old, I am no longer wowed by tongue twisting fantasy names. Chronicles of Ramlar is full of those, with a lot of sound alike names like the Alari and Elari, for instance. For me, it made it harder to follow the entire Founding backstory, but that is certainly a personal preference that will not be shared by everybody.


Humans come in four different varieties: The "favored" ones being Auzronians, the hardy Frorians (who live in The Chill), the sinister Nurinians and the desert dwelling Osarians. Each entry describes the appearance, attitude, common religions and even the common racial relations of each subset. They also have Racial Attribute Adjustments, although this is hard to follow at this point since the attributes haven't been given yet, though you can probably work many of them out by the abbreviations. Also, every subrace gets a freebie Expertise rank related to their culture.

We get two sets of Dwarfs, the first being the Hethmarkn and the second being the Kasmarkn. The former are scholarly type dwarfs, while the latter are warriors. One bit of annoyance for me here is that the homeland of the Hethmarkn apparently cannot ever be found, to the point that the book tells the GM to block any efforts to reach it, made all the more annoying by the full page image OF the homeland found in this section. That said, the fact that there is a scholarly group of dwarfs who love interacting with other cultures is a nice change of pace in and of itself.

Elves get four subraces as well, starting with the Druegarn - black skinned, evil elves who live in the Dark Sprawl, also known as "The World Below". Fetharn are fairly "standard" elves, while Sinflar live in the mountains and Tylvare are nomadic elves who resemble Native Americans more than a little bit.

The Halflings are pretty much what you have come to expect.

The Spirinari are an unusual race who are incredibly long lived and can communicate with the dead.

We find out at the end of the chapter that you can't breed outside of your species, but you can interbreed among subraces.


There are eight Attributes that scale from 1 to 100+. Charisma, Endurance, Intelligence, Nimbleness, Perception, Strength, Tenacity and Wisdom are the eight, and it is noted that both Endurance and Tenacity play a role in a character's capacity for casting spells.

You can either randomly roll Attributes (percentile roll plus a modifier depending on how low you roll), point buy and roll + points, which generates a random pool that you then divide among your attributes.

After this, you can answer five questions about your character to gain 20 bonus points per question: They include gimmes like Name/Nickname, as well as things like specifying Secrets and Vows for your character. Then you apply racial adjustments, and this section does provide the adjustments for the mixed subraces (the regular adjustments are found in the entries for each race).

You gain Attribute points through the use of something called Demeanor/Theme circles, which are mentioned here but not explained until later in the book, kind of how the abbreviations for the Attributes occurred with no clarification until later.

Secondary attributes are Life Points (you may know these better as Hit Points), Mana Points (the amount of power you can use spellcasting), Contact Rating, which is the attribute spellcasters use to manipulate the power to cast spells and both an Attack and Defense rating.

As secondary attributes often go, these are determined by combining different primary attributes together.

Character level and Path level are tracked seperately, with overall character level often affecting the game world as your fame and/or notoriety increase.


Rather than true character classes, you get five Paths to choose from, which do resemble classes but also help to dictate your character's fundamental ideology. In addition to Warriors, Rogues and Wizards, you can select Merthwargs (who are nature freaks not unlike Druids in Other Fantasy Games) and Sevar, who are very religiously focused.

Each Path provides access to a wide range of Path Talents, as well as recommendations for suitable Core Talents and Recommended Expertise Slots.

It is worth noting that, in addition to the five starting Paths, there are a number of Elite Paths detailed later, and you can apparently "multiclass".

My only real gripe here is that the book tells you these are not classes, and then gives you three Paths that are archetypical classes of most fantasy two others that seem to fill common niches, but have completely, errrr...nonstandard fantasy RPG names.


You get four Talents at level one, and two each level thereafter, split up among Core Talents and Path Talents.

Some Core Talents include Animal Ally, Contact, Ambidexterity, Luck, Magic Resistance and Forceful Blow, so it does cover more than just the combat type stuff, although combat type stuff is certainly represented.

The Druid-like Merthwargs can gain things like Bestial Ferocity and Bestial Speed, Nature's Savagery (which allows them to emulate an animal's attacks), and Animal Stamina.

Rogue Talents include Backstab, Deadly Accuracy, Pull Strings and Sidestep.

The divinely inspired Sevar get Talents such as Divine Inspiration (add 10 to your chosen attribute for a single encounter, once per day), Holy Cry (once per day, allowing you to unnerve a target with a holy word) and Divine Strike (inflicting double damage with a single attack).

Warriors can gain talents such as Berserk, Opportunistic Snipe (helps you pick which hit location the attack hits), Reactive Strike (essentially a counterattack) and Weapon Mastery.

Wizards can gain Talents like Armored Spellcasting, Familiars and Magical Expertise.

Especially among the spellcasting Paths, some Talents are duplicated, for logical reasons (as Talents such as Armored Spellcasting should be available to all Paths, but make no sense as Core Talents, since Warriors and Rogues can't make use of them).

Divine Boons are special abilities granted to a character by their Patron God, and can be taken by any character who selects a Patron God. Most of them have two or three boons available to PCs, but they all also have an Automatic Ability that any character who gains a Boon can qualify for. For instance, chosen followers of Anate, goddess of Honor can challenge a single target to a one on one duel of honor that cannot be refused, and gain +10 to all attacks for the duration of the fight as long as they fight alone. Lynstal, God of Spirits, can grant a Boon that will allow a PC to exorcise spirits.

There are a whopping 41 Eleri and Alari that you can follow and gain benefits from, each with Boons tied to their Dominions. The Boons are all generally very cool, but the automatic abilities are even cooler, being nice, thematic touches rather than overwhelmingly cool powers.


These are kinda like skills, and are not heavily defined. Essentially, the more specific and specialized the expertise, the less expensive it is. "Actor" costs three Expertise slots, "Sailing" costs two slots and "Not In the Face" (helping you avoid being hit in the face) only costs a single slot per rank.

Ranks of expertise act as bonuses on Attribute rolls when relevant, but there are different guidelines for just about every step of defining and using expertise depending on whether you're playing a Heroic, Adventerous or Mortal game...but basically, you play it faster and looser in Heroic games, and more conservatively in Mortal games.


The text has talked about Demeanor/Theme circles quite a bit to this point, without actually explaining them. What Demeanor/Theme is, is your advancement. The character sheet has five D/T Circles, the first of which is defined (Participation) and the remaining four of which are left for the players to define. The circles are surrounded by ten smaller circles, and as you perform tasks relevant to your chosen circles, you fill in the smaller circles. Once you fill in all ten circles, you get a benefit relevant to your goal. The Participation Circle is how you level up, either in your chosen Path or advancing into a new Path, but you can also dedicate Circles to raising attributes, gaining Talents or Divine Boons, or completing campaign goals.

It's a very interesting system, one that allows the players to completely define what is relevant to their characters at any given point in time.

There is an additional benefit as well: You can spend the marks you have accumulated over the course of the game session, allowing you to either reroll the "Ones" die in the percentile roll, or adjusting the roll up or down 1 per mark spent.

It's an interesting system that isn't overly complicated, yet breaks from the standard "gather XP and level up" fantasy RPG trope.


While this is ostensibly the requisite equipment chapter, it also provides the monetary system(s). You can either play it straight, with standard coin counting...or you can abstract everything into "resource level", recommended for the more cinematic, Heroic games.

All of the listed weapons and armor have short descriptions to help you out, in addition to relevant game stats. Rules are provided for making repairs to your equipment, as well as modifying them, both magically and non magically.

A fairly extensive listing of general adventuring equipment (plus a healthy listing of toxins) round out the chapter.

It's not the greatest equipment chapter I've seen, but it does appear to be well done, and I like the option of abstracting money if you choose.


This is a three page (including character sheet) walkthrough character creation.


Now we reach what is, essentially, the rules chapter. First off, the books warns you to bypass rolls if the outcome isn't in doubt or if it's not really relevant to the situation, as many games do. It also encourages you to prioritize who gets to make rolls first based off of relevant ability. One area that can problematic is that it encourages a system of penalties and bonuses depending on whether a given action "enhances" or "deters" the "story"...I could see that turning into a notable conflict between GMs and players if they don't happenn to agree on how important something is...or just what IS important. Specifically, one instance of something that "deters" the story is using a suitable magic item to solve a mystery before the GM is ready. I've been GMing over 15 my experience, you either work around stuff like that, or you don't give out items or powers that can DO that.

In addition to the roll-under mechanic, there are some unique rules present: If you roll a "0" on your "Ones" die, it is either a Sensational Success or a Botch, depending on whether or not you rolled under the selected difficulty. That's an interesting variant, and I kinda like it.

If you have a negative chance of success, and you roll a natural "01", you get to roll again.

Add 100 to the negative percentage, and if your second roll is equal to, or less than, the resulting number, you succeed.

On the flip side, even if your percentage is over 100% and you roll a perfect "00", you roll again and add the new result to 100. If the resulting roll is higher than the difficulty percentage, you do fail.

You can also determine the level of your success by using the "Tens" die which, if I'm reading it correctly, hinges on rolling as high as you can while still succeeding.

Many of the combat rules, including time, lethality and movement, are tied directly to the type of game you are playing, with Heroic characters essentially have plot armor and Mortals being in an "anyone can die" situation.

When making attack rolls, you compare your Attack Rating to the Defense Rating on an included chart to determine your actual chance of success. If the two are equal, for instance, the resulting chance is 50-50...except for Mortal games, which eschew the table altogether.

Hit location is VERY important in the A/B system, and successful hits use the "Ones" die compared to the relevant hit location table to determine where the attacks land, although you can ditch hit loctions altogether, or do it situationally for certain adversaries and so on...(like giving mooks just a hit point pool instead, for instance).

One thing that's VERY interesting is the Momentum Table. As you make successful attacks (and certain non combat actions), you can turn the Success Values into Momentum. At the start of the round, you can spend SV to gain certain bonuses, each with different values, such as damage bonuses, seizing initiative, making additional actions and so on. You can even use it to negate called shot penalties. For those who like options in their combat, this looks like a GREAT system, that stops short of being TOO crunchy (especially since the book tells you not to let ALL NPCs have access to it, as you will slow everything to a halt).

If you want to get REALLY crazy with it, you can take a Talent that lets you make Special Maneuvers, which you piece together from a checklist of modifiers. I would be shocked if this isn't the doing of Tony Lee - the main designer on the book and the guy behind Wild World Wrestling. Every modifier is explained, so you know what each of them do...and it all adds up to a final Momentum cost that must be paid in order to use the move.


As noted, there are three types of magic: Arcane, Divine and Nature. The spellcasting system itself seems to be pretty diverse, ranging from a mixture of memorized spells, to casting straight from a spellbook to improvising in order to modify your known spells on the fly. This is accomplished with a table of modifiers similar to the special Maneuver Creation that modifies the amount of Mana required in order to cast the spell. Casting spells uses your Contact Rating versus the spell's Difficulty Rating, just as if you were attacking someone's Defense rating.

The Magic chapter ends with rules for making magic items and new spells, as well as a list of magic colleges, with a paragraph or so of description.


This is the Big Spells List for all three types of magic. They are first listed, by school, in order of difficulty and then detailed in alphabetical order.

Arcane magic starts off with basic stuff like Minor Trick and Alarm and gradually grows through things like Wood Barrier, Skin ofArmow, Creation of the Dead and Siphon Soul.

Divine Magic offers things like Alert, Inspire, Bestow Luck, Consecrate Ground, all the way up to Resrrect.

Nature Magic begins with the simple stuff like Calm Animal and adds things like Cheetah Speed, Cure Disease, Call Lightning, Possess Animal and Control Weather.

Nearly 45 pages are given over to spell descriptions, and you will recognize certain homages to most of your favorite fantasy spells I would imagine.

The last few pages are devoted to Elementals, which can be summoned by magic and are created entirely BY magic. In addition to Earth, Air, Fire and Water, there are several nonstandard types, such as Mud, Lava and Vortex Elementals.


You can stay on your starting Path if you like, or you can slip into an Elite Path as soon as you meet the prerequisites. While you can enter any Elite Path as long as you meet the requirements, every Elite Path is keyed to a Core Path and you can combine the levels from all thematically linked paths when determining your Path level.

Merthwarg Paths are Animal Master, Beast Shifter, Elementalist, Forest Guardian, Nature Master and Ranger.

Rogue Paths are Arcane Gypsy, Assassin, Deathbringer, Pirate, Shadow Master and Spy.

Sevar Paths are Death Knight, Demonbane, Faithkeeper, Inquisitor, Life Giver and Paladin.

Warrior Paths are Archer, Berserker, Blood Dragoon, Dragonslayer, Sky Knight and Weapon Adept.

Wizard Paths are Channeler, Necromancer, Plane Lord, Sage, Summoner and War Mage.

The talents are all very thematic with the Elite Path and generally pretty great, giving PCs many options for customization, especially since you aren't limited to any specific paths...making a Warrior/Paladin/Ranger if you really want (though it won't be the easiest thing to pull off).

One other thing that is pretty great is that you have to devote a D/T Circle to any Elite Path you want to gain...but the book does make a point of providing examples of the kinds of actions that would advance your intentions of gaining said path, like a Death Knight betraying an ally in combat, or relentlessly slaughtering innocents.


While a full bestiary is in the World Guide, this is a sampling of monsters for folks with just the one book wanting to pick up and play. It should be noted that all of the non-humanoids have their own hit location charts provided.

Orcs, goblins, trolls and ogres are provided, as well as the swamp dwelling corac and the evil niscrian.

The book ends with a character sheet, as well as a slew of quick reference tables for character creation, the deities, the momentum table, combat sequence, you name it.


There is a LOT of potential in here, but it's hampered by some real flaws. The organization is the first problem, as things like the Demeanor/Theme advancement is talked about for a few chapters before it is every really explained. Another problem is that the Heroic/Adventurer/Mortal settings sound good in theory, in practice they turn into just a series of giant exceptions that can be a bit overwhelming. From a personal standpoint, I don't think I'm completely happy with any of the settings, but I would probably go with a largely Heroic game, plucking liberally from Adventurer and occasionally Mortal.

I also dislike many of the naming conventions. I get that this is fantasy, but I'm getting old and lazy, and things like Eleri and Alari and trying to remember the difference is more of a hassle than anything. Especially when "standard" fantasy names and tropes are jammed in alongside the more exotic ones, like "Wizard" being used alongside "Sevar".

That said, the Demeanor/Theme advancement is really cool, and I love the wide range of Talents and Paths available. The Special Move rules are also a pretty great addition, allowing you to customize your character's fighting style even further and the Momentum options are a great addition to combat without being overly done.

I also really enjoyed most of the art in the book, even if a few pieces turned up multiple times.

Using the right mixture of options, there is some fun to be had here...but organizational issues, Gods whose names sound alike enough that you can't tell them apart, and jarring tongue-twister naming conventions bring the overall assessment down a few notches.