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Today at 12:10:07 pm by DriveThruRPG | Views: 2 | Comments: 0

Newshounds #1

Newshounds #1Publisher: NUELOW Games
Rating: 3
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/08/21/tabletop-review-newshounds-1-d6xd6-core/

Usually NUELOW Games puts out pieces for their ROLF brand, but Newshounds #1 is different. It’s actually for a system that’s not even out yet! I’m talking about d6xd6 CORE, which nearly 500 games crowdfunded earlier this month. Now you’re probably wondering how you can possibly play this when the core rules won’t be out for several months yet. Well, until the game is out you can pick up a draft copy of the rules  at the game’s official website. Besides, it’s not unheard of for adventures to core out before the core rulebook. CHaosium has been doing it for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition and Catalyst Games Labs has been doing it for the Valiant Universe RPG. Now, I was a backer for d6xf6 CORE but only at the PDF level. Backers who pitched in more than I received a free backer copy of Newshounds #1 in addition to Judy of the Jungle. So in fact there are two adventures for this newer than new system if you are interested. That said, the only one I received a review copy for was Newshounds so that’s why we’re looking at that.

Newshounds #1 is more than an adventure. It actually contains five old school pulp comics from 1945. All of these comics are now in the public domain and thus are technically free to anyone who wants to reprint them in a similar fashion to what NUELOW Games has done here. Each of the five comics are in black and white (save for the cover), which works just fine for me as they are pulp fiction, and I always feel they look better in greyscale than in four colour. Three of the comics are from the “Ace of the Newsreels” line (which only had eight comics, so you’re getting nearly half of the run here!), along with one entitled “Gail Porter, Girl Photographer” and another called “Copy Boy”. Quality of the comics varies from story to story and ultimately, it will depend on the reader to ascertain the quality for themselves. I can see why the “Ace of the Newsreels” series didn’t last very long in its heyday and parts of the stories have not aged well such as the dizzy danger-prone dame sidekick who always needs to be rescued by the male protagonist. It is what it is. While I’m okay with it because it is a product of its time, I know some people CAN’T so they might roll their eyes at this running plot hook or worse. The “Gail Porter, Girl Photographer” is bookended with anti-suicide cheese, but the core story is a fun one. “Copy Boy feels like a “Jimmy Olsen” rip-off complete with Judy as Lois Lane, Mr. Jackson as Perry White and Mr. Trent as Clark Kent (No Superman alter ego though!). Again, all the stories in here are worth flipping through. Five pulp comics for $1.99 isn’t a bad deal by any means, but there’s more content than just this, which only serves to sweeten the deal.

In addition to the comics and a one page crossword puzzle, Newshounds #1 gives us a three page adventure for the d6x6d CORE system. The adventure is called, “The Death of a Mystic” and it uses the protagonists from “Ace of the Newsreels” along with the Neulow mascot superheroine, The Black Cat. The story revolves around saving socialite Linda Turner from the machinations of a fraudulent swami. Of course, exposing the swami as a fake is just the start of the adventure as he vows revenge on the PCs for taking a way his meal ticket and will try to murder each of them in turn. The adventure itself is very much an “on-rails” piece with little room for flexibility or deviance, and you really have to know and care about the “Ace of the Newsreels” characters for this piece to work. What’s more, there is no real explanation of d6xd6 CORE at all in this piece. The adventure assumes you have extremely familiar with the rules system, so the mechanics side will read as little more than gobblygook to most of you. The good news is that because the adventure is so scripted out, it can easily be converted to a different system. The GM/Host will have to rework the character sheets if they want to covert “The Death of a Mystic” but every scene and much of the NPC dialogue is all there for you. In the end the adventure is an okay one. For people already familiar with d6xd6 CORE, it’s a fun way to see the mechanics in action and you’ll also get six pregenerated characters, a new Core Occupation and a new Core Skill. For everyone else, you might want to wait until you have the core rulebook in your possession unless you think five pulp comics for $1.99 is a fine deal. For myself, I’m glad I picked this up as I wanted to see how d6 x d6 CORE would look done by a third party publisher and for only $1.99, fans/Kickstarter backers of this upcoming system should certainly consider picking Newshounds #1 up.
Source: Newshounds #1
Today at 12:10:07 pm by DriveThruRPG | Views: 2 | Comments: 0

Technology Compendium: Sir Arthour’s Guide to the Numenera

Technology Compendium: Sir Arthour’s Guide to the NumeneraPublisher: Monte Cook Games
Rating: 5
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/08/19/tabletop-review-technology-compendium-sir-arthours-guide-to-the-numenera/

Although Monte Cook Games has been very busy with the release of their newest game, The Strange, they haven’t neglected their original release, the multi award-winning Numenera. Their latest release, Technology Compendium: Sir Arthour’s Guide to the Numenera, focuses specifically on the bits of technology left over from the previous eight worlds which now litter the Ninth. These include cyphers, which are one shot use objects which players will have to monkey with to see what they do. Numenera also includes artifacts, which are devices with more than one use. Of course, because these artifacts were created by races long since dead (or something else?), the current inhabitants of the Ninth World will still have to poke, prod and guess as to what they do. Even if they get the artifact to work, it might not be used in the way its creators intended. A toaster might be used as a torture device rather than a bread warmer, for example. Then there are oddities. These are exactly what you might think – things that have no discernible use to the players or their characters, but are there because some previous race had a use for them. These might include things like a telescope device, but when you look through it, everything you see is coloured purple and all living creatures look like tree sloths. Who knows? Maybe it’s just the way the PCs’ brains interpret the visuals of the device. Maybe it’s a failsafe to prevent anyone but the original owner from using the device properly. It could be anything, but no one will ever know, in or out of the game! Oddities are there just to enhance the weird nature of Numenera and to give players something to think about.

Sir Arthour’s Guide to the Numenera is essentially two books in one. The first two dozen or so pages are for the GM, and are designed to be a guide on how to create, use and implement Numenera in your campaign. Here you’ll get an introduction as to who Sir Arthour is, along with a pretty in-depth look at the different power sources for various Numenera and the multitude of ways they can be used. Numenera are technology, but it’s also technology completely and utterly alien to the current residents of the planet, so even if there are multiple, or even plentiful, versions of a particular Numenera type, that doesn’t mean they are being used in the same way, or even correctly (per the original vision of the piece). Is essence, the game of Numenera is one of people who are technology scroungers, and this first section does a great job of reminding you of this fact.

This first section is written out of character, because it’s speaking directly to the Gamesmaster. It is meant to be a guide and/or learning tool to help one’s game become more detailed. You are given examples of different ways aspects of reality, like light, time, sound, magnetism, gravity, and heat can be used in pieces of Numenera. You are also given examples of chemical, biotech, the datasphere (think the evolution of the internet) and even self-aware machines that would also count as Numenera. Most of the examples in this section involve offensive capabilities or are traps for the PCs to fall into, which makes sense. After all, this section is designed to help the GM, as most will use Numenera in one of these two ways. I personally tend to focus more on the oddities side, but I realize I’m also probably in the minority in wanting to give players a blow gun that shoots out thoughts as rock rather than healing items or heat rays.

I also appreciated that this first section gave frank advice like, “Don’t use time travel,” or anything else that would give concrete evidence of any of the previous worlds. Numenera is best when evoking a sense of mystery, alien horror and wonder. To reveal too much is to miss the point of the game. I also enjoyed seeing a new descriptor buried in this section which will allow you to play some sort of artificial intelligence. You get a lot of stat boosts, but real hindrances to healing and dealing with fleshy life forms. It looks really interesting. In fact, everything about this section is fantastic and well worth reading, no matter how experienced with Numenera or RPGs in general you feel you are.

Now, Monte Cook Games COULD have released the first section as its own stand-alone piece, as they did with titles like In Strange Aeons, Love and Sex in the Ninth World or Injecting the Weird, but instead they bundled it with the second part of the book which, at over 100 pages, is the real meat of this piece. If you picked up previous digital PDFs from Monte Cook games, like Cypher Collection I or Artifacts and Oddities Collection I, than you know what to expect here. You’ll find chapters on Cyphers, Artifacts and Oddities, all done in similar manners to those previous releases. Don’t think you’re getting the same content however. For example, in Cypher Collection I, there were “only” fifty new cyphers to use. Here in the cyphers chapter in Sir Arthour’s Guide to the Numenera, you are roughly 500 new cyphers (I lost count as my mind started to wander around 400 and I still had several pages to go.). There are tons of new things here, along with random charts to roll on and a full page look at how to use malfunctions as GM intrusions.

Of course, you would think five hundred cyphers would be enough of a selling point, but we still have the artifacts and oddities! With both sections you, again, have a refresher on what the specific type of Numenera is meant to be, the random rolling lists and a whole bevy of new items to throw at your players. You have approximately 225 new artifacts and 300 oddities. That is an insane amount of content. Each new item gets a little blurb about it. Cyphers and artifacts get a full paragraph, while oddities get about a sentence each. All of the book is exceptionally well done, and if you’re in the need for more items to place in your Numenera campaign, then Sir Arthour’s Guide to the Numenera is a must own. There is so much stuff here you’ll never need another book or PDF on the subjects. Of course, that doesn’t mean more won’t be made, but I can’t imagine anyone being able to use All of these in their time GM’ing a Numenera campaign.

So yes, Sir Arthour’s Guide to the Numenera is an absolute steal for its $14.95 price tag. Those previous released collections offered only a fraction of the Numenera found here, and you’re getting a bigger bang for your buck with the Technology Compendium. About the only people I can see not getting their money’s worth out of this sourcebook are those that absolutely have to homebrew their worlds from the ground up. Hey, if you want to make your own Numenera, more power to you. I do it myself. However, you can’t deny that this book will not only save you a lot of time, but reading it will help you to really craft better objects to place in your campaign. You get a solid look at where the designers are coming from, and with so many examples in this thing, your idea might already be made and waiting for you nestled amongst the pages of this tome. This is certainly another fine addition to the Numenera line, and one fans of the game will really enjoy.
Source: Technology Compendium: Sir Arthour’s Guide to the Numenera
August 20, 2014, 06:36:08 pm by Paizo News | Views: 2 | Comments: 0

Pathfinder Tales: Reign of Stars

by Tim Pratt

When the leader of the ruthless Technic League calls in a favor, the mild-mannered alchemist Alaeron has no choice but to face a life he thought he’d left behind long ago. Accompanied by his only friend, a street-savvy thief named Skiver, Alaeron must head north into Numeria, a land where brilliant and evil arcanists rule over the local barbarian tribes with technology looted from a crashed spaceship. Can Alaeron and Skiver survive long enough to unlock the secrets of the stars? Or will the backstabbing scientists of the Technic League make Alaeron’s curiosity his undoing?

From Hugo Award-winner Tim Pratt comes a fantastical adventure of science, savagery, and the vagaries of the human heart, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and tied into the Iron Gods Adventure Path.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-660-7

ePub ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-661-4

Source: Pathfinder Tales: Reign of Stars
August 19, 2014, 12:04:01 pm by DriveThruRPG | Views: 6 | Comments: 0

The Theta Files: Abe-X

The Theta Files: Abe-XPublisher: Rogue Genius Games
Rating: 5
This product presents an unusal, interesting and potentially tragic super-villain: a genetically-enhanced gorilla!

The backstory is presented sympathetically, telling how a young gorilla was captured in the wild and experimented on (in some shady facility, of course), but developed far faster than the scientists anticipated to eacape and live wild on the streets.

There's no indication of who captured and experimented on him or why (which could provide some interesting adventure material in its own right) nor precisely what he's up to now beyond living on the streets and stealing what he needs to live.

Presentation os good, with iIllustrations clear and good, and a full stat-block is provided, as well as the backstory (a line or two of which fall foul of the bottom edge of the page background, although you can just about make them out) so of himself, Abe-X is all ready to go - just what's needed for the discerning GM's stock of super-villains.

If you want more than a quick side-encounter, work out who was experimenting on him and why, or maybe who is influencing or manipulating him now he's on the loose.
Source: The Theta Files: Abe-X
August 19, 2014, 06:48:01 am by GnomeStew News | Views: 6 | Comments: 0

Gnome Stew Won the Gold ENnie for Best Blog — Thank You!

Gnome Stew Won the Gold ENnie for Best Blog — Thank You!

Last night Gnome Stew won its sixth ENnie Award, the gold for Best Blog. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, especially Evil Hat Productions for charting a course of transparency and customer-centric business practices that kicks major ass. Thank you to all of the Stew’s readers and fans (some of whom have been reading the blog since the Treasure Tables days, nearly 10 years ago!), to the judges for nominating us, and to the Gnome Stew team for being awesome. Six years on, the […]
Source: Gnome Stew Won the Gold ENnie for Best Blog — Thank You!
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