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Today at 07:00:03 pm by Athas News | Views: 1 | Comments: 0

Wizard's Survey

Wizards of the Coast has been asking the public for feedback on various aspects of the latest version of Dungeons & Dragons. In their latest survey they're asking about settings that people would like to see updated to 5th editions as well as what classes and races they'd like to see.

Dark Sun fans, this is a great opportunity for us to make our voice heard. Make sure to select Dark Sun in the settings section. For the classes section there are no psionic classes. For the races, be sure to select Half-Giant and Thri-Kreen. There is a box for open text you can include your own comments. That'd be a great place to add the psionic classes (Psion, PsyBlade, Psychic Warrior, Ardent) and perhaps the Mul race.

Wizards Setting/Class/Race Survey

Source: Wizard's Survey
Today at 03:00:03 pm by GnomeStew News | Views: 3 | Comments: 0

Please Vote for Gnome Stew in the 2015 ENnie Awards

Please Vote for Gnome Stew in the 2015 ENnie Awards

Gnome Stew has been nominated for Best Blog in the 2015 ENnie Awards, and I’d like to ask you to vote for the Stew. The ENnies are judge-nominated, but fan-awarded — and are sometimes decided by veeeery slim margins. This is one of those times when every vote really does matter! Voting is open through July 14, requires no special login/account, and takes just a few seconds. You can vote in as many or as few categories as you like. Here’s the step-by-step process: Visit […]
Source: Please Vote for Gnome Stew in the 2015 ENnie Awards
Today at 12:00:59 pm by DriveThruRPG | Views: 4 | Comments: 0

Bad Moon Rising

Bad Moon RisingPublisher: Privateer Press
Rating: 3
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/07/06/tabletop-review-bad-moon-rising-iron-kingdoms/

Privateer Press’ products are extremely hit or miss for me. I can’t stand Warmachines or Hordes, but that’s mainly due to the mechanics, the fact I find the models unaesthetically pleasing. Which is okay - every game is someone's favorite; it's just PP's skirmish game is not for me. That said, I love the fluff behind the game and I really enjoy the fiction, with pieces like Murder in Corvis (soon to be a boardgame!) and Blood in the Water. I don’t enjoy the core Iron Kingdoms RPG, but I really like the Unleashed version, especially the introductory kit, as it’s a fun little self-contained piece. So for me, it seems like every time I agree to review something from Privateer Press, I have a 50-50 chance or enjoying it or really disliking it. Unfortunately, Bad Moon Rising is in the latter camp. It’s a highly overpriced, derivative adventure that lacks any semblance of originality. I’ve played the exact same story in adventures for Chill, Ravenloft, Call of Cthulhu and probably even Accursed. It is the most generic and overdone horror adventure plot ever, just with Iron Kingdoms jargon and mechanics thrown in. It’s really disappointing to see the lack of effort put into this, and if I had actually paid ten dollars for this instead of getting it as a review copy, I’d be ANGRY rather than just disappointed that this piece was approved for purchase by the general public.

Basically, Bad Moon Rising is your typical “trapped with a werewolf” adventure. Of course, since this is Iron Kingdoms, it is a Warpwolf, which for most of you, the only difference is going to be in the naming convention. The PC will have to spend several days (in-game) trying to figure out who the Warpwolf is and stop them before they kill again. After a certain amount of days, the Warpwold succeeds, and the fort the characters are trapped in will fall. The adventure really is that cut and dry. Yes, if you’ve played a horror RPG, you’ve almost certainly played this adventure before. Hell, you can go to Kickstarter and find numerous versions of this story in the Werewolf-clone card/beer and pretzel game variants that pop up constantly over there. After only a few minutes with Bad Moon Rising, you can tell just how phoned in this adventure is. Hell, even the name of this piece has been used by everyone from CCR to adventures for Judge Dredd and Shadowrun. You would think Privateer Press would have at least changed the name to something more original. Instead, this merely serves to show how little thought and effort was actually put into this adventure. It’s shameful really. It’s the third Ginger Snaps movie almost cut and paste into the Iron Kingdoms mechanics.

No adventure is all bad and, truth be told, the worst part of this adventure is the lack of originality, creativity and effort put into the piece. Taken on its own, Bad Moon Rising is a fairly serviceable piece that you can make work if your players have little to no experience with horror RPGs and/or werewolf movie tropes. The adventure is long (quantity over quality) and there is a lot of depth given to the NPCs and locations. The adventure is also equal parts roll-playing and role-playing, which is nice. Hack and Slash fans get their fifteen minutes, but so do the people who want a more investigative/talking heads adventure. A good GM can try and make the piece come to life, but I’d advise some heavy rewriting, as it’s very dry and dull the way it is written. Insert a Ben Stein joke here. A little more time in production or with rewrites and Bad Moon Rising could have been a decent homage to garou clichés. I also really like the art in this piece. It’s the best part of the adventure. It’s too bad the maps shown throughout the piece aren’t full size so you could print them off and use with your Privateer Press miniatures. They’re very nicely detailed and would make the adventure far more fun than it is. Of course, the adventure is already crazy overpriced ($10 for a PDF adventure?) so Cthulhu knows how much more PP would have tried jacking up the MSRP of this if they had done that. There are lots of ways Bad Moon Rising could have been improved had there been a modicum of effort put into it. You can tell that by the little things that actually do “pop” in this piece, like the art.

So yes, Bad Moon Rising is not all that bad. I can’t recommend it to anyone due to the paint by numbers level of this piece, coupled with the cost Privateer Press is actually charging for it. It’s as if they wanted to make people angry with how little thought went into this adventure (or respect for the Iron Kingdoms audience). It’s a very long, dull drawn out adventure that you’ve seen, read, played or watched a half dozen times before – each of which was more than likely better than Bad Moon Rising. Pieces like this are what keep me from regularly investing in Privateer Press’ products, because they are either really good or really bad. I will say that Bad Moon Rising is not typical of Iron Kingdoms. It’s not as good as Unleashed, which came out this year, but the regular Iron Kingdoms tabletop RPG is not usually “rehash someone else’s story and hope no one notices.” In fact, this is the first time I can remember it being so. Still, the lack of quality, from writing to QA on down to editorial with Bad Moon Rising was so deplorable, it’s enough to make me very afraid of how bad The Undercity is going to turn out. Of course, I was considering pre-ordering that game, only because I loved the story by Richard Lee Byers it is based on, but that’s really not enough to sink money into something that may be as disappointing as Bad Moon Rising.
Source: Bad Moon Rising
Today at 12:00:59 pm by DriveThruRPG | Views: 6 | Comments: 0

Through the Breach RPG - Penny Dreadful One Shot - Recruitment Drive

Through the Breach RPG - Penny Dreadful One Shot - Recruitment DrivePublisher: Wyrd Miniatures
Rating: 4
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/07/06/tabletop-review-penny-dreadful-one-shot-recruitment-drive-through-the-breachmalifaux/

Although my primary skirmish choice is the Batman Miniature Game, I’ve picked up a few Malifaux pieces here and there just for the sculpts. I have three War Wabbits, a Pygapult and Nicodem, Avatar of Decay. However, with the announcement of the two player starter kit that will release in August, I’ve decided to preorder that, as well as start on a Gremlins warband (mainly for painting, but if I like the game, I’ll have something to play it with). The starter set is roughly two months away though, so I decided to familiarize myself with the game via Through the Breach, the RPG compliment to Malifaux. Both take place in the same world and use a lot of the same characters, it’s just one is a skirmish game and the other is an RPG. Ashe will be reviewing The Fated Almanac and The Fatemaster’s Almanac at some point this summer, but I decided to review my first adventure experience for Through the Breach – Recruitment Drive.

Recruitment Drive is a PDF only adventure that can be used as a one-shot (it’s in the name of the product after all) or the start of an ongoing campaign. The adventure comes with a set of pre-generated characters so you can try out the game under the guidance of an experienced GM, even if you haven’t fully read the rulebooks or taken a look at character creation. The pre-gens also make the Penny Dreadful One Shot adventures a fine choice for tournament/convention play. In many ways, they are the Through the Breach equivalent of Shadowrun Missions. Five bucks for a full colour, nigh thirty page PDF adventure is reasonably priced, and the art contained inside showcases just how unique Wyrd Miniatures’ creations are. Most of the art is reused from the miniature boxes and previously published books, but it is what it is.

I should point out that Recruitment Drive is not going to marvel you or make you proclaim this the greatest adventure ever. It’s not. It’s a fun way to test the water to see if Through the Breach is a tabletop RPG you want to invest in, but nothing more. Only half the pages are devoted to the adventure proper (pages 4-17) with the rest going to NPCs and the pre-generated characters. So Recruitment Drive is a fairly short adventure. It shouldn’t take more than two hours to play – three if you are teaching the game to some newcomers. Because of this, some of you might balk at the $5 price tag, but I’d say it is worth it.

Recruitment Drive consists of four Scenes, all revolving around relative newcomers to Malifaux. All the PCs are at the Southgate train station for their own reasons. None of the characters know each other or have any sort of connection, but give it time. Each character is waiting for the train arrive for their own personal reasons, be it an object, person or assorted something else. As the train starts to arrive, it is attacked by iron zombies. Think Hit Mark II’s from Mage: The Ascension or some other steampunk pneumatic cyborg undead. That’s an iron zombie. Anyway, the zombies attack the train and the PCs have to try and protect themselves, as well as others in the train and at the station. After the scuffle dies down, a second group of zombies have absconded with people and objects from the train. Coincidentally, they are all reasons the PCs were waiting on. Because each PC needs the help of the person now kidnapped from the train, it’s up to them to band together and save their MacGuffins from the undead menace that absconded with them in the first place. This means a trip through the sewers and an eventual showdown with the remaining zombies.

It’s worth noting that Scene IV of Recruitment Drive varies greatly based on how you do in Scene III. There are four different versions of the scene that can occur. The scene you get is based on the amount of in-game time it takes you to navigate the sewers of Malifaux. If you did a good job, combat can be avoided completely. If you did a bad job and got lost along the way, expect to see a pretty intense combat scene – one where the PCs may find themselves in a TPK (Total Party Kill) and even wind up as undead servitors themselves. I really liked how dynamic the last scene was. I just wish it wasn’t purely luck based. I’d have rather seen Scene IV decided through role-playing than roll-playing, but it’s rare you see a pre-published adventure like this provide multiple potential climaxes. Sure, it could have been done better, but I’m still quite happy with what is here.

Overall, my first real taste of Malifaux was a fun one, and I can’t wait to pick up the other Penny Dreadful adventures for Through the Breach. Experiencing Recruitment Drive convinced me I made the right choice in preordering the upcoming two player deck and a few more Gremlins to flesh out my War Wabbits and Pigapults. For those of you discovering Malifaux and/or Through the Breach for the first time through this review, you might want to pick up  the University of Transmortis pack from Wyrd Miniatures, as it contains four Iron Zombies. It would be perfect to use with this adventure. You don’t HAVE to have miniatures for Through the Breach though. Remember, it’s the tabletop RPG game, and Malifaux is the miniature skirmish game. Still, they’d be fun to use as a visual explanation of what the characters are doing battle with.

Recruitment Drive is well worth picking up if you’re looking for an intro Through the Breach adventure. Make sure someone has the core rulebooks though, or much of the adventure will read like gobblygook to you.
Source: Through the Breach RPG - Penny Dreadful One Shot - Recruitment Drive
Today at 12:00:59 pm by DriveThruRPG | Views: 4 | Comments: 0

W20 The Poison Tree

W20 The Poison TreePublisher: Onyx Path Publishing
Rating: 4
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/06/17/book-review-the-poison-tree-werewolf-the-apocalypse-20th-anniversary-edition/

More than two years after its release, Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition is still the gift that keeps on giving – at least if you were a Kickstarter backer for it. Case in point, The Poison Tree – the newest W:TA Novel. Sure, with a page count of only 180 pages (which includes covers and legal bits), The Poison Tree is somewhere between a full length book and a novella, but it’s always nice to see a new release for Werewolf: The Apocalypse, am I right?

I going to be brutally honest right now though. The Poison Tree is a pretty paint by numbers piece. You should be able to see the end of the novel coming from the first few pages. If not, I have to assume this is your first ever book, not just your first W:TA read. It’s full of clichés, it can be quite hackneyed, not a single major protagonist dies (odd for a Werewolf book) and the climax is an abrupt Dues Ex Machina that feels a bit hollow/rushed/unsatisfactory. So you would think that means The Poison Tree is pretty terrible. In fact, the EXACT OPPOSITE is true. In spite of all these flaws, tropes and things authors are told never to do, The Poison Tree manages to be a very fun read due to the ability of the author and the personalities of the characters. If anything, The Poison Tree proves that sometimes you can take what are perceived to be negatives and turn them into positives. Sure, The Poison Tree‘s plot won’t win any awards since it’s something we’ve all no doubt read or watched dozens of times before, you can’t help but find the tale enjoyable. Think of it as the W:TA version of a Cozy Mystery, where you’re charmed by the book and its characters in spite of it having characteristics people tend to poo-poo.

The Poison Tree revolves around the war chief of Savannah, Georgia. Her name is Ingrid and she is a Shadow Fang (My favorite clan, followed by Uktena and Silent Striders). Ingrid is a rather angry young woman. Her cousin Marcus wants her title and pack. Her father Karl, runs the city and although he has always been an isolationist, he seems to grow more paranoid and insane with each passing day. Her city is under constant siege by the forces of the Wyrm and due to her father’s policies, it’s hard to recruit Garou from outside the city to help battle fomori and other Wyrmspawn. So yes, Ingrid is a little angry at the world and unfortunately, there isn’t much she can do about it.

Recently though, she’s been having terrible dreams about the fall of Savannah and apparently, she is not alone. Her father appears to be plagued by something similar and her cousin, a Metis named Eric is having the same dreams as Ingrid. So disturbed is she by the combo of bad weather and dreams that Ingrid decides to bring in some new blood to the city. At the next moot she enlists some outside help. Now her father is okay with Garou getting the equivalent of a yearlong pass into Savannah as long as they spend the bulk of their time fighting the Wyrm, so the Get of Fenris pack and a mixed pack of three other Garou mean nothing to her father. These are within the laws of his realm. It’s when Ingrid break her father’s rule of letting ronin werewolves into the city that his sanity begins to break completely. Moreover, allowing these three ronin into the city begins to unmask a conspiracy that involves the entire city of Savannah that has waited twenty-five years to unveil its machinations. This conspiracy may not wipe out just the Garou of Savannah…but the entire city itself. Who can Ingrid trust, if anyone, to save Savannah and her own soul from the Wyrm?

The Poison Tree is a quick read since it is about half the length of most full-sized novels, but even though the page count is short, there is a lot of action and characterization packed in. Each character is pretty stereotypical, not just in regards to how their clan, but personality tropes as well. Marcus, Ingrid cousin is a slimy weasel who does nothing else but plot, scheme and annoy Ingrid. Ingrid herself is little more than the two-dimensional bad ass female with a heart of gold trope. Yet even while each character clings to clichés, they managed to leap off the page as more than they actually are, which is a testament to the author’s writing ability more than anything else. You quickly find characters you’ll love and whom you’ll hate (my favorite was Catherine the Uktena and Starscream…I mean Marcus was the easiest to loathe). This was fun light literature from beginning to end and even though The Poison Tree embraces a lot of my personal pet peeves (especially for WoD fiction), I couldn’t help but really enjoy this book for what it was. Fans of Werewolf: The Apocalypse should definitely track this down once it is released to the general public. Onyx Path generally prices their fiction quite affordably, especially digital-only pieces like this and this is just one example of how W20 has managed to outside V:TM 20AE in nearly every way (as a longtime V:TM zealot, it pains me to admit that).

So yes, The Poison Tree is fun fiction. It doesn’t try to be a work of seminal literature. It’s simply a somewhat generic, but very-well written tale about the Garou vs the Wyrm and how often times werewolves are their own worst enemies. Pick it up on DriveThruRPG.com once it’s released. If you’re a W:TA fan, I think you’ll enjoy it a lot.
Source: W20 The Poison Tree
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