Sunday, 30 January 2011

Dragon Quest and Dragon Strike Revisited

D&D Dragon Quest
Art from the Dragon Strike board
I feel compelled by a fear of unwritten history to call people's attention to couple of wonderful threads, with illustrations, regarding two of TSR's later all-colour D&D-board-game hybrids (not to mention experiments in VHS!), written by the dedicated Mr. Mortis of the Lost and the Damned Forum.

"Are you feeling brave tonight ...?"

No, really.  Are you?

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game (Chris Gonnerman)

- This is cross-posted, amended and expanded from my review of the spiral bound copy on Lulu -

One day I'll write a proper review worthy of this game. But for now this will have to do!  Being a "retro-clone" and bound by various licenses, the author is probably not allowed to mention which boxed sets from the 80's this game emulates. This is a lovely rules-set not only because Dungeoneering characters can reach Level 20 (a level at which Dragons are easier to slay) but the rules are selected for fans of Basic and Expert play.

Combat also benefits from a d20-style revision to armour class allowing for instant reckoning of To-Hit rolls without the need for tables. This rulebook is an absolute bargain and there's plenty of downloads to go with these rules (not to mention a friendly online community). Even the font is well chosen for it's nostalgic effect. The black and white illustrations are perfectly evocative of "old-school" games.

Buy the books from Lulu Basic Fantasy Store:

The author, Chris Gonnerman, keeps the cost of the hard copies of this product to a minimum and even encourages people to download the PDF first from his Downloads Page.

The Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Site is choc-a-bloc with free goodies and expansions as is the forum on the same site.

Did I also mention that you can play halfing thieves?  You can play goblins as well if you download the supplemental rules.  

You can even buy the T-shirt!  But I'm not posting the link to that because it's just silly.
What? You want to see one?
Here's the link:
- quality cotton, I'm telling you. ;)

Make Mine Basic! :)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Survival Horror Set 6: Unstoppable - Darkmook Paper Miniatures

*Makes zombie noises*
BLAM! BLAM! click-click .. click-click.

The room diorama brings a really nice touch to the set. This set makes me want to invent table-top versions of House of the Dead and Resident Evil – or just start playing one of the several survival horror zombie shooter games. I really like the crisp style graphics.
Most of the figures could also be used in sci-fi scenarios – the mercenary figures have a generic tech-swat look.
Summary: Ace. Check it out! Darkmook's Survival Horror Set 6: Unstoppable on DriveThruRPG. 
Watch out for the half zombie floor-“crawlers”! :o

Lester Smith's Free Wrestling Game

RPG Author Lester Smith is fond of designing playing card based games which he shares with the world on his site:   Players who prefer dice and tables may enjoy Powerhouse of Wrestling!

Sample Table:

Agility Attacks

  1. Stand on Opponent
  2. Kick
  3. Big Boot
  4. Abdominal Splash
  5. Hamstring Pull
  1. Legdrop
  2. Elbowdrop
  3. Flying Bodypress
  4. Monkey Flip Suplex
  5. Shoulder Roll
  1. Scissors Piledriver
  2. Avalanche
  3. Earthquake Splash
  4. Through-the-Ropes Leap and Clothesline
  5. (Or more). Over-Top-Rope Cross-Bodyblock
From Powerhouse of Wrestling! by Lester Smith.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Lexicon of Traps (Ennead Games)

Lexicon of Traps
Years ago I read a copy of GrimTooth's Traps. It was a difficult experience, because although funny, it seemed to mainly provide the DM with ways in which to extinguish characters which then had to be explained at length because of the mechanical complexity of death dealing gears. Instant kills can be bad enough without being further marred by an argument amongst players about logical engineering.

The traps listed in this book are more forgiving (depending upon the levels of punishment the DM feels the PCs deserve) and suited to a skills checks and some puzzle solving – nearly all the traps are “scalable”. Many of the traps are based on simple concepts and themes which means that they can be adapted to many situations. Some traps may resemble those already found in rulebooks but that doesn't detract from the numerous original traps. The categorisation of different traps works well for ease of reference.

On a first read some of my favourites are the Midas Door (sorry, no spoilers), Room of Silence ("Trigger: any noise above a whisper") and Washing Machine. The latter is wonderfully silly and illustrates that every once in any list of traps there's cruel humour and mockery of the mundane.

Even trap-jaded DMs will appreciate the later sections in this publication which include trap finding feats, skills, spells and equipment along with the Prestige Class of Trap Master.

Much of this publication is tailored towards d20 mechanics, and is therefore very applicable to many rulesets. As the author points out it can be used more generically. It's just if you don't play d20 games you might need to know that "DC of 25" means "difficult" - but it's pretty easy to get the gist when you see a scale of numbers.

I would preferred some illustrations to have been included, even just the odd picture of wounded PCs -but at 1.99 this well above value for money.

I’m looking forward to seeing more Lexicons from this publisher.

Recommended purchase (for sadist DMs). :)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

RC, MT and LatD - two sites and a forum!

Roleplayers Chronicle and The Mystical Throne or both sites run by the mighty Mr Aaron Huss (whose publication on gaming genres I reviewed here) The former is an up-to-the-minute news site, with snippets from everywhere, the second is a much more leisurely browsing guide and portal to many gaming brands.

I rather fond of the Lost and the Damned Forum.  It's a definite must-visit if your a fan of tabletop gaming, lots of pictures of figure painting, model conversions, rules discussions and reviews of old editions - for newbie gamers and nostalgia addicts alike! 

LULU 20% off code: TREASUREUK305

I know that this is at the last minute but if you're shopping on in the next fifty-something hours, take advantage of this code1

Quoting Mr Lulu himself:

"Enter coupon code TREASUREUK305 at checkout and receive 20% off your order. The maximum savings for this coupon is £100. Offer good towards print costs only - shipping and tax amounts are excluded. You can only use the code once per account, and you can't use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer ends on 17, January 2011 at 11:59 PM"

Friday, 14 January 2011

News: Onebookshelf websites launch print service

Drive Thru RPG, RPG Now and other Onebookshelf sites have launched a Print service so that now books can actually be ordered as well the customary PDF downloads.   This is a bold move, since until recently many indie game writers have had to have separate product postings on, and other POD sites.  At least now customers will have a choice of printing games themselves or buying shiny bound hard backs.  We likes shiny books!

To promote the launch Onebookshelf are circulating to select sites a 20% off print purchases code for January 2011.
On the check-out page submit the code: "BlogPodJan2011" to claim a fifth off your purchase. Nice! :)

Khara Khang's Random Rainbow Maze by Ken St.Andre

Khara Khang's Random Rainbow Maze by Ken St.Andre

This is a really nice little adventure from the Troll Lord himself.
It's difficult to write a full review without cheating and reading sections I haven't reached yet. I've been killed a couple of times so far, so I recommend taking in a delver with a pretty hefty weapon.
It appears adaptable to most of the T&T rules editions (I'm 5th edition fan currently playing 7.5)
Ken St. Andre has an informal style that lets you get straight into the exploring and dice rolling action.
It may appear appear to be a small solo, but it's a living mini universe you're purchasing for your $3. Remember that solo games are a form of magic - it's a bargain considering that you're actually teleported to the Rainbow maze without need of batteries or a broadband connection or a Star Gate!

Recommended Blog: Grognardia

QUERP - 2nd Edition

QUERP - 2nd Edition
QUERP - 2nd Edition

This game is the very definition of "pick up and play" fantasy role playing. It will appeal to players of games with simple universally adaptable common-sense mechanics (like T&T, Fighting Fantasy-AFF or scaled down rule systems, WHQ). The beauty of systems like these is that it is also very easy to modify the rules to suit a campaign or special setting. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon dungeon crawl.

The layout is slick, professional and easy on the eye.

The Gamers’ Guide to Tabletop Role-playing Genres - RC

The Gamers’ Guide to Tabletop Role-playing Genres

I'm a bit of a fan of the Roleplayers Chronicle website because it's manager and the author of this publication has clearly been immersed in a pile of RPG products for some time, or at least knows what's what or when it's happening.

For some older role-players, like myself, the modern gaming world is a baffling place - much like walking into a music shop after a decade away, you just have no idea whenever you'd like something or not, or even what the new categories mean.

With RPGs many discussions on the web are focussed primarily on game mechanics, but often, not far away, are discussions regarding setting and "genre". This publication deals with the latter in detail and yet is a perfect skim-read introduction for the busy DM. It's a good read because not only does Mr Huss outline the core categories of gaming genre (Fantasy, Sci-fi, Horror, for example) and identifies well used sub-catergoes (High-Fantasy, Cyberpunk etc.) but he digs further and separates games into more exacting sub-genres (meta-genres?) like "Dark Fantasy PostApocalyptic", "Modern Psychosis", "Zombie / Undead", "Heroic Pulp", "Clockwork", the list goes on.

With so many game publications, old and new, the author does not claim that his lists of example games are definitive (I found myself adding a few games but then realised that they had been long out of print). Many of the publishers of the games he does mention have their websites included in an appendix, which is very useful if you want to find out more about a range. For me hyperlinks in a document justify the use of PDF as a format, also the page layout is landscape, making better use of the computer monitor as a reading medium. That didn't stop me printing off a copy to read in bed, but I hear that's also what i-pads are for … ;)
The illustrations are nice too - reassuring bookmarks, if you get lost. :)

So if you unsure whether or not you or your player friends would like an Anime game, Storytelling, a Space Western or Gothic Horror this is certainly the document for you. It's also a great value read for collectors and the "just curious".

In summary: a well thought out document - positively educational!
*grin* I plan to show off with some of my new found knowledge.

City Slices - (Escape Velocity Gaming)

City Slices - (Escape Velocity Gaming)

City Slices Marketplace Fun is marvellously rich tome with well thought out encounters and situations which at first glance to PCs would appear mundane, but after the briefest chat with any innocuous NPC the players will soon realise that there’s many layers to these onions, with mini-games, adventure leads and skill challenges.
This is a very accessible document. Most of the pages are self-contained encounters, allowing the DM to print off single pages to put amongst their own notes -without raising too much suspicion that this would be any more than a normal trip into town for the PCs.

It’s tailored for 4E gaming but I’m guessing that it could be adapted to be used as part of a Pathfinder campaign, different editions of D&D, and most fantasy games, perhaps with some skills tweaking. The traders mentioned don’t have stats, but have enough background for a DM to elaborate on the basics if needs be.

Not wishing to reveal too much about the product, there’s some very refreshing takes on familiar locations and activities. One game “Frog n Flies” involves physically throwing the dice around in some sort of surreal boules game. On the very next page is a superb sub-quest /encounter in which the players are sent to purchase exclusive items from a list for an emperor, which is also a great way to get the players familiar with the layout of a new city.

From rats on sticks snacks to poison in bottles, from the interesting to the practical (practical to dungeoneering warriors, that is) there really is something for any campaign or urban adventure, with many opportunities for role-playing and non-combat skills checks.

In my opinion this product may also be of some use in historical settings or even more contemporary, exotic settings – a Cairo bazaar perhaps (providing you alter references to elves and dwarves, and mammoth furs… of course).

I’m looking forward to more from this series. Ace.

CT-ST-Starter Traveller by GDW

CT-ST-Starter Traveller by GDW

CT-ST-Starter Traveller

A wonderful nostalgia purchase.  I heartily recommend this to anyone interested in the history of role-playing and has a few credits to spare.

Playing this version of Traveller today:

In fact the 2d6 system is delightfully simple. The planet generation and trading tables are will remind retro-gamers of the Elite computer game (which may have or may not have been influenced by Traveller). The two books are easy to play with, but can be awkward to navigate in PDF form since the charts and tables are in a different book to the rules book - which is only a problem when learning, but once the basics are learnt the tables and charts book enables very rapid access to the right matrices. At least print out the tables book!

(Good quality PDF and illustrations reproduction, by the way)

Traveller has a strange flavour to it which may baffle newcomers. Spaceship computers are massive, with clunky "programs", most people are armed with rifles and blades. Humans prevail in Starter Traveller, but other races are described in supplements. In a way, it’s hard sci-fi, but the laser guns with back packs seemed dated even in the 80s. For more advance tech weaponry supplements must be sought (Mercenary), but the system is very adaptable for an inventive Referee.

Archivist, collector, gamer or just curious – this is a fascinating game – all you need to play is here, but you may find yourself will craving ship plans supplements, scenarios – loads of which are free on the web, not to mention later versions of Traveller.

It’s the late 70’s, it’s the far future! Pile into that Type-S Scout ship and power up the Jump Drive…

5/5 Stars. Bb 17/06/2010

Tunnels & Trolls v7.5 (Fiery Dragon)

Tunnels & Trolls v7.5 (Fiery Dragon)

Tunnels and Trolls 7.5
(Okay, I know I give high ratings to most of the products I've been reviewing, but I only review the stuff I really like)

My T&T 5th edition is one of my most cherished possessions, it was hard to see if it could be matched.

After some encouragement from the folks at Vin's Trollbridge forum, I took the plunge and bought this, which is currently a bargain for what you get ($15).

It's a great read for old gamers and new gamers alike. It looks very playable (and I refute the notion that T&T should perceived as an "introductory" game)

The Monster Rating and saving throw system and is still beautiful simple, allowing DMs/GMs/referees to create rich challenges with minimal effort. The rulebook is totally "complete", but the addition of the extra books is a plus. The newer rules are strangely refreshing and well thought through.

I wish I'd had this as a boxed set but the PDF is the next best thing.

T&T Forever! :) Bb. 21/11/2010

5/5 stars.

Haunting Trio by Escape Velocity Games

Haunting Trio by Escape Velocity Games

Haunting Trio

Yikes! :o

Edgar Allan Poe meets Cthulhu, Middle Earth and the modern supernatural.

These sinister manifestations come with stats, tactics and quotes and would are surprisling adaptable to any 4e campaign of any setting - especially the Dreamdweller Raven which has more than a few spooky tricks up at sleeve!

A must for sinister horror campaigns or anyone looking for a fresh encounter.

Professionally laid out to 4e standards - easy to follow. Black and white with illustrations.

And a bargain! (FREE at the time of writing this review).
Bb 17/06/2010

Recommended Link: Rusty Axe Games

For Map Editors and Computer Games you may also want to check out:

Rusty Axe Games - Home of Dungeon Demon and Dungeon Brawl

Kobold Warband (One Monk Miniatures)

Kobold Warband (One Monk Miniatures)

No longer available on DrivethruRPG, but can now found for FREE at

About a year ago I realised that I had very few kobold figures, and that if I was ever to play low level D&D (or similar) again that I would never have enough figures to match the "numbers appearing" required for a decent double-rowed kobold warband. To cut a long story short I procured a handful of metal kobold figures from ebay but would still need to paint them.

This pack of cut-out kobold solves my problem very nicely (and they - at time of review -are FREE!). And I can print as many as I want. 30 (10 kobold designs x3) should do very nicely.

The colours and lines are clean and sharp. These kobolds have attitude! There's plenty of variety. The style is also wonderfully evocative of old Warhammer illustrations - Chalk/Dever et al.

Heartily recommended to all DMs. Bb 29/05/2010

5/5 stars.

Stars Without Number (Sine Nomine Publishing)

Stars Without Number (Sine Nomine Publishing)

Stars Without Number This game combines many of the best elements of other games (old and new) and comes up with a consistent background which justifies psionics, and planets with differing tech levels. Claustrophobic and vast. Technological and gritty. Moody with optimistic ambition. A really nice selection of illustrations set the tone. It's probably as rewarding to play this game as it is to read. Nice one, SN publishing! - D20 meets old Traveller meets Cyberpunk, in an existential universe where survival may depend upon hidden gifts. Love it!

Bb 06/12/2010
5/5 Stars