Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Stars are slowly dying...

"Fading Suns" by Bill Bridges and Andrew Greenberg
Published and distributed by Holistic Designs
ISBN = 1-888906-18-9  FS 202

Here is one of the more unique and unusual science fiction role playing games I have ever encountered.  In its 312 pages are details of a galactic civilization in decline for one major reason - the suns are slowly dying. 

This book was originally conceived by developers of White Wolf's World of Darkness, and thus has more than a bit of angst.  Psychic powers are called "occult" by the church, and are generally frowned upon on civilized worlds.

There are nine chapters in this volume:
     1) The Universe
     2) Rules
     3) Characters
     4) Traits
     5) Occult
     6) Combat
     7) Technology
     8) Gamemastering
     9) Planets
and a small appendix.

Far into the future, a few major "houses" and several minor "houses" battle over the remnants of the universe.  There are five major houses: the Hawkwood, the Decados, the Hazat, the Li Halan, and the al-Malik.  In addition, a huge church-like group also has its tendrils everywhere.  Also, there is a mercantile guild that has almost a stranglehold on shipping.  This is not to mention the alien races, and the enigmatic Anunnaki.  There are "jump gates" originally created by the Anunnaki that make system-to-system travel possible. 

There is a very small table of contents, and a good index.  There are two pages of additional products for the game, and a character sheet.  There's also a D20 edition, and the newly invigorated FASA has printed a third edition of the Player's Handbook and the Game Masters Guide.  I look for more from FASA for the new third edition of Fading Suns. 

I would like to take this short opportunity to tell you that I use this game for an adaptation of "Dune".  Although I have eliminated the references to the suns going out, the Spice provides just as much, if not more, reasons to use this material.  I believe this game is just about tailor made for "Dune".  If you are looking for a different setting for a sci-fi game, look no further.

The Age of Exploration for D20

"Twin Crowns" by John Faugno and Steven Novella
Published and distributed by Living Imagination
ISBN = 0-9712145-0-6

"Twin Crowns" bills itself as "Age of Exploration Fantasy" and it delivers a nice mesh of quasi-Victorian and semi-Renaissance feel to the world of D20.

There are 304 pages, broken down into three "books" - The Player's Section, the World, and the GM's section.

In Book 1 - in the Player's section lie nine chapters:
     1) Races - there are a total of ten playable races
     2) Classes - there are 16 classes - some old and some new
     3) Skills - some dealing with rituals and some with professions
     4) Feats - Feats new to D20
     5) Equipment - including gunpowder weapons
     6) Naval Adventuring - rules for ships
     7) Religion and Magic - much on the unique religious system
     8) Spells
     9) Rituals

Book 2 - The World in four parts:
     1) History
     2) The Northern Empire
     3) The Southern Empire
     4) Other Lands

Book 3 - The GM's Section covers:
     1) Adventuring
     2) Magic Items
     3) Monsters

There's also a small appendix with maps and tables.

Right now, I can't think of a better book for Naval adventures.  Although there are only 20 pages here, it provides detailed info on ships, ship-to-ship combat, and other naval hazards.  The religious chapter has a unique take on the Gods and Goddesses of the world.  The spells included are in addition to what is normally available in D20.  The new "Rituals" section has some rather interesting additions to your D20 collection.  GM's may want to limit PC access to rituals, as they can be rather powerful.  One of the more interesting additions are the gunpowder weapons, and how they are created so as to not unbalance a campaign.  This book includes a small Table of Contents, =and= an index, a rarity to find both in a single game book. 

My take on this book is simple - should you want to move ahead in time to at least the Renaissance, if not to the Victorian age, you should highly consider this book.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Review of "More Guns"

"More Guns" by Greg Porter,
Published and distributed by BTRC.
ISBN = 0-943891-26-4  BTRC # 4002

More Guns is Greg Porter's expansion to his highly popular "Guns, Guns, Guns".  Within its 232 pages is even more info on firearms and ammo then was included with the first book. 

There are three major sections - Archaic Weapons, Modern Weapons, and The Future.  There's also a chapter on guns that never were.  Near the back are the conversion parts for Time Lords, CORPS, GURPS, Torg, Hero, Traveller, Twilight 2000, and Cyberpunk 2020. 

Within the chapter on archaic weapons are Pistols, Rifles, Shotguns, and Heavy Weaponry.  Within the chapter on modern weapons are: more Civilian Pistols, Machine Pistols, Civilian Rifles, Military Rifles, Shotguns, Machine Guns, and heavy weapons.  Inside the Future are: even more Civilian Pistols, Machine Pistols, Civilian Rifles, Military Rifles, Shotguns, Machine Guns, and more heavy weapons.  Included with the "Guns that Never Were" are, of course, Civilian Pistols, Machine Pistols, Civilian Rifles, Military Rifles, Shotguns, Machine Guns, and even more heavy weapons.  If these categories seem familiar, they are.  But the separation into the types make it easier to find that little detail you knew you missed.

Although there is no index, the Table of Contents should allow readers to quickly access the info they want.  If you already own Guns, Guns, Guns ("3G3") and like it, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of More Guns.

Review of "Guns, Guns, Guns"

"Guns, Guns, Guns" by Greg Porter,
Published and distributed by BTRC.
ISBN = 0-943891-19-1  BTRC # 4001

3G3, as it is affectionately known to its fans, provides weapon and ammo statistics for role playing games such as CORPS (Greg Porter's own game), Cyberpunk 2020, GURPS, Hero, Traveller, Time Lords, Torg, and Twilight 2000.  In its about 136 pages lie hundreds or even thousands of firearms and ammo.  Remember, this is =far= before the advent of the Open Gaming Licence. 

It starts with a section on basic terminology, and moves from that beginning to a section on conventional weapons.  This is the meat-and-potatoes for people wanting to use this book's highly accurate statistics for running games other than the ones included.  Fade that into a section on Lasers, followed by sections on: Particle Beams, Railguns, and melee weapons. 

Then starts the games sections with conversions to: Time Lords, CORPS, GURPS, Master Book, Hero, two flavors of Traveller, Cyberpunk 2020, Battlelords of the 23rd Century, Nexus, and Heavy Gear.

Although it has no table of contents, the index is good.  In the back of the book are charts for ammunition, and design sheets for several types of weapons and ammo. 

Although this does not include ay D20 Modern conversions, the info on the weapons and ammunition are easily converted into almost any game system.  I would recommend this book (even now!) to GM's who want to add more than a dash of realism to their modern campaigns. 

Review of The Book of Fiends

"The Book of Fiends" by various,
published and distributed by Green Ronin.
ISBN = 1-932442-09-X  GRR # 1025

Although the Book of Fiends is an older book, I think it is one well worth considering.  Here are some details.

There are a total of nine chapters in this volume, which I will look at in four sections.

The first four chapters deal with "The Armies of the Abyss" - a section based on Green Ronin's earlier book, "Armies of the Abyss", but it has been revised and expanded for this book, and has some new material as well.  Some of the more important features of this section are the new Thaumaturge class (which I only recommend for NPC's), and the denizens of the Abyss, including some info on the rulers of the Abyss and detailed info on the creatures of the Abyss - namely Demons.  There are 21 entries for the rulers of the Abyss, and 43 various creatures of the Abyss.

The next two chapters are concerned with the never before seen "Hordes of Gehenna" and its residents - the Daemons.  There are entries for 44 totally new monsters that you can perplex players with.  There's also info about the plane of Gehenna, its rulers, and inhabitants.

The next two chapters deal with the "Legions of Hell" - material formerly presented in Green Ronin's "Legions of Hell" book, and once again it has been revised and updated for this volume and includes some new material.  There are 51 more residents detailed. 

The final section deals with the appendices, including three new Prestige classes (better off left to NPC's). info on Angelic choirs, the most useful section - info on the Unholy Warrior (think "Anti-Paladin"), two fiendish cities, and monsters ranked by challenge rating - all the way from 1/2 to (believe it or not) 40!

There's a useful Table of Contents, =and= an equally useful index.  Altogether, there's over 130 various Devils, Daemons, and Demons.  The black-and-white art is a bit put-offish, but I think that it is put to good use to illustrate things in this volume.  I think this is a very good book for details on the Underworld races and rules.  Although 3.5 is a little out of date nowadays, it can be converted easily to other systems. My recommendation to GMs - buy it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's been a =long= time since I posted here, but I'm rebooting my 13th Age campaign on Sunday Dec 14 2014 at the Dragon's Horde in Staunton VA at about 12 noonish.  I have pre-gens and blank sheets for new players, and plan on using this as a springboard for Pelgrane's Organized Play scenarios.  If you need directions, please do not hesitate to ask.  The only thing that might get in my way is a storm, so keep the Shenandoah Valley in mind when traveling. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Judges Guild is back!

Yes, for all of you old school games, Judges Guild is making a restart on Kickstarter.

Come on and pledge for one of the best, if not =the= best, Old School gaming settings!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Linwood Whitsel passed away a few days ago, and his wife and friends are having a Celebration of Linwood Whitsel Party at American National University on Country Club Rd on Saturday March 22, at 2pm.  Many friends and family are attending.  If you cared in any way about my good friend, I suggest you try to be there.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lost our cat today...

We had to put down our cat just a couple hours ago - giant tumor in it's intestines.  Just too much money to fix - and that's if the tumor was benign.  His name was Smokey and he was only three.  Please send positive thoughts to me and my daughter as we deal with this tragedy......

Friday, January 31, 2014

Birthday Blast!

Hi!  It's my birthday this Sunday February 2!  I'm planning a get-together and gaming session probably with the new Pathfinder Card Game (Rise of the Runelords).  C'mon out and have a good time at the Dragon's Hoard, 17 East Johnson St, Staunton, VA 24401.  I plan on getting there at about noon.  I may bring some other treats.