Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

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Short Reviews – Archetypes, Backgrounds and New Races for D&D 5E from Cat Tale Press

31 July, 2021

CatTalePressLogoCat Tale Press has been producing support materials for Dungeons & Dragons, 5E, much of which is Pay What You Want.  These reviews look at eight of them, six providing new archetypes, one new backgrounds and the last, new races.  They are good but could be better, so suggestions for things to improve are included.

Starting with the archetypes which are mostly four pages: cover, one page of description and two of OGL.  In all cases they could have used more context for the archetype such as suggestions for where they might fir into a game world and what sort of culture would inspire them.  Also, and this is very common for such materials, is a lack of support material such as a new spell, magic item, place or even a legend to inspire adventure would make them some much more interesting and easier to fit into a campaign.

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Review – Shadowrun: Power Plays

25 June, 2021

Shadowrun: Power Plays is a sourcebook, specifically a “Runners Resource Book” for the Sixth World Edition of Shadowrun covering the Big Ten Megacorporations who, let’s face it, run the Sixth World in a very real sense. While tagged as a Runner Resource, it strikes me as more a book for Games Masters who want to know what is going on at the higher levels so that they can decide what filters down to the level of hiring runners for. Overall, an interesting read with some excellent chapters and lots of inspiration for games.

Shadowrun: Power Plays, is a Runner Resource Book for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, providing a look at what is going on in the corporate world, as the megacorps are the primary villains in the world, knowing what is happening with them is important.

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Review – Shadowrun: Street Wyrd

3 May, 2021

Shadowrun: Street Wyrd is the long awaited Core Magic Book for the new edition of Shadowrun, and it is going to be a required book for Shadowrun games masters as it provides so many new resources in spells, adept powers, metamagic, magical groups and so much more. And players will be happy with new ways to improve their characters.

Shadowrun: Street Wyrd, is the Core Magic Book for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, expanding the available options for magic in all of its wonderful forms.

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Review – Shadowrun: Collapsing Now

15 March, 2021

Shadowrun: Collapsing Now is a sourcebook, specifically a “Runners Resource Book” for the Sixth World Edition of Shadowrun covering a variety of groups that shadowrunner might work for or against. It suffers from a lack of direction and uncertainty if it is a player or GM facing work. For the lore and background information, worth picking up for Shadowrun Games Masters, but not an immediate must have unless you are featuring one of the highlighted groups in your campaign.

Shadowrun: Collapsing Now, is a Runner Resource Book for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, providing a look at some of the groups that shadowrunners might work with, for or against. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Review – The Sixth Shotgun

5 January, 2021

The Sixth Shotgun by Louis L’Amour is a short story of the same title and a novella The Sixth ShotgunThe Rider of the Ruby Hills” in one volume.  I am not much of a reader of Westerns but L’Amour is so well regarded I thought I would give this collection a try.  It is easy to see why his stories are so popular, he has an easy and readable style and a knack for describing characters in a short space that gives you a good sense of them.

If you like Westerns, you should like these stories.  However, they are a product of their time and genre and the women, while competent and more active than I had expected, are defined by their relationships to the men in the stories.

But I am going to put a roleplaying spin on my discussions about them:

The Sixth Shotgun has a light mystery mixed with its Western and is a good example of how to blend genres.  There are no real surprises but it is a fun story and could be adapted for a roleplaying adventure pretty easily.

The Rider of the Ruby Hills is virtually a masterclass on how to run a campaign based around a single character.  The main character is exceedingly competent and goes into the situation prepared and with a plan, unfortunately for him, the situation in the valley in not entirely what he expected . . .

I think this is a good model for single character campaigns, the primary character has to be competent because there is just them at the core of it, I think this should be leaned into.  Almost everyone like playing someone of heroic statue now and then and this sort of campaign structure is perfect for it.  In the story the main character finds allies which could be GMCs or even guest players depending on how you wanted to structure the campaign (and if you had people interested in “guest staring” in your game) but they are very much secondary and support to the drive of our hero.  One of the main role of GMCs will be to provide information and context for the player.

In The Rider of the Ruby Hills, our main character wants to claim land and cattle to build a house and settle down after a life of roaming and working for other people and he has a plan to do such.  Naturally, things do not work out as he had planned.   In this kind of campaign a character’s drive could be anything, restoring their family’s good name, overthrowing the evil duke, whatever but it should be clearly defined at the beginning and they should have the capability to achieve such, if things break their way.  Ultimately everything that happens in the game should be building toward that goal and its final achievement (or tragic failure).

Notes: The links are affiliate links and I will get a small sum of your purchase through them.

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Review – Shadowrun: Slip Streams

30 September, 2020

Slip StreamsShadowrun: Slip Streams is very much a book for Games Masters, lots of information, lots of adventure seeds, all expanding on the effects that magic is having on the world. If the magic side of Shadowrun story is your jam, this is the book for you. Otherwise, it is an interesting read and there are no lack of adventure ideas that it throws off. For players, the in game information is a fun read and the new character option is intriguing but not for all campaigns, talk with your GM first.

Shadowrun: Slip Streams, is a Plot Sourcebook for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, expanding on the magical situation across the world but with a focus on events affecting North America.

As is expected, it begins with a brief introduction and a glossary of terms related to astral space, this is very handy and important to what follows. Then the requisite fiction section before the meat of the product begins.

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Shadowrun: Krime Katalog (for SR5 and 6WE)

20 August, 2020

Shadowrun: Krime Katalog is an Equipment Book for Shadowrun, for both the 5th and 6th World editions, detailing the new offering from Krime! Mostly weapons and weaponry support but now with vehicles too! Krime always verges on the too silly for my tastes but the book has a lot of interesting equipment and ideas in it, so it is still quite useful even if you strip away the trapping of the Krime and players always like new weapons and vehicles to play with.

Shadowrun: Krime Katalog, is an Equipment Book for Shadowrun, Fifth and Sixth World Editions, having mechanics and statistics for both. Providing weapons and beyond from the company Krime that specializes in weapons and equipment for larger metahumans.

It begins with an introduction to the Krime Corporation which may or may not been started by former Shadowrunners and their meteoric rise to success as providers of weaponry scaled to orks and trolls, with the implication of some shady business deals and a lot of luck propelled them to their initial success.

Then, the new weapons, Read the rest of this entry ?

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Shadowrun: Shadow Stock – Ingentis Athletes

30 July, 2020

Shadowrun: Shadow Stock: Ingentis AthletesShadowrun: Shadow Stock – Ingentis Athletes provides ten non-player characters, all trolls, sharing a sports theme and information on the troll meta-variants (cyclops, formorians, giants, and minotaurs). More useful for Game Masters than players, it would have been supported by providing more context for the role of trolls in sport in the Sixth World and a few examples of shadowruns where sports were directly (or indirectly) involved.

Shadowrun: Shadow Stock – Ingentis Athletes, is the first of the Shadow Stock resources for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, providing NPCs organized around a theme and new character options, trying to be something for everyone.

It begins with a brief in game introduction which boils down to “here are a bunch of athletes and ex-athletes who are operating in the shadows.” Then on to the characters!

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Review – Shadowrun: Tales from the UCAS: Age of Rust

28 June, 2020

Shadowrun: Tales from the UCAS: Age of Rust is a missed opportunity, a Age of Rustsourcebook for the Omaha, Nebraska, region which is undergoing a period of unique instability and change making it a potential hotspot for the sort of work Shadowrunners do. Unfortunately, it fails in providing anything beyond the most basic plot hooks and minimal background material.

Shadowrun: Tales from the UCAS: Age of Rust, is location/adventure resource for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, expanding on the situation in part of the UCAS and providing adventure hooks.

It begins with an introductory piece laying out what the situation is in Omaha, Nebraska, where due to border shifts and changes in the UCAS, NORAD has withdrawn from the Offutt air force base here (where it apparently relocated after the creation of the NAN) leaving a massive economic and political hole in the local area. But with instability comes opportunity for some and that is what this work tries to present.

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Short Reviews of D&D 5E publications – School of Awakenings and the Pike-Pole

21 June, 2020
School of Awakening

Been awhile, so here are some quick reviews of products for D&D 5E:

Wizard School of Awakening: How to Make Friends presents a new arcane traditions for wizards one that specializes in imparting magic life to objects, awakening them as it were.

The mechanics are quite fun, allowing the wizard to create two “thoughtlings” (awakened objects) at 2nd level and then more as they gain levels, to a maximum of five, each has its own personality (of a list of tweleve ranging from haughty to silly) which gives it or its creator access to special abilities.  As the wizard grows in power they can awaken larger objects and magic ones as well, eventually gaining the ability to build a magical “homestead” which will maintain animate objects at the wizard’s home.

There is a lot of potential for fun and interesting interactions between the awakened object and the wizard, and other people too, but there are some questions.  Can the awakened objects speak for example?  Or how does an awakened shield move?  Why does a large awakened object only have 3 more hit points than a tiny one?  Why do they inflict force damage when they attack?  A little more attention should have been paid to such questions.

From a Dungeon Master’s perspective, some advice of how to cope with someone who know has a character plus at least two awakened object (and maybe a familiar too).  That could easily double the party size!  Also several of the ability granted by the awakened objects personalities (kind and lazy especially) could cause some balance issue as they strike me as subtly powerful.

Overall, a very fun and inventive class, one that would be very well suited to a solo campaign.  A DM will have to weight if they will fit into their campaign and how to balance them if they do.  But, mostly, a job well done here.

Pike Pole

The Pike Pole, a nautical themed weapon, presents just that. it gives a brief history of this sort of weapon and how they have been used along with ideas for a how a character could have learned to use one.

Several variations on the pike pole, both mundane and magical, are included each with its own illustration.  As are rules for trip and disarm attacks using the weapon.  All well and good except it is a tool turned into a weapon that is just better on all levels than weapons made as weapons.

As listed, it does not have the heavy or two-handed properties yet has reach and does a 1d10 damage for 5 lbs of weight and 1 gold (or 5 gold if you want the improved one that gives you a small bonuses with the maneuvers).  It is a spear with a hook, it should do spear damage (1d8) and have both the heavy and two-handed properties to bring it in line with other pole arms (and the trip and disarm should be added to other weapons as well, if you are giving out those maneuvers).

A good idea and excellent presentation of the weapon, but it just too good mechanically.  However, that is easily fixed.

Notes: The links above are affiliate links and if you purchase through them, this site gets a tiny amount from it.

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