If we’re honest, for a Paizo module Seven Swords of Sin (by James Sutter & the Paizo staff) isn’t all that good. The module’s origins as an Paizo-internal “let’s write a list of deadly traps!” project shows all too well; while I like good deathtrap dungeons this isn’t a very good one – it’s just a random series of deathtraps strung together with an extremely vague plot.
It’s not strictly bad, I’m sure a fun evening of dungeon crawl could result from this. It’s just not very good either, there are better variants of this theme available. Some of the rooms/traps are inventive, though, and I suspect the best use for this module would be as a trap resource to insert into other adventures.
The plot, such as it is, deals with yet another evil sorceress trying to awaken ancient powers through yet another ancient artifact. Film at 11.
In Escape From Old Korvosa, the PCs are expected to exit the city of Korvosa for the first time. As before, this points to the biggest problem with this adventure path: getting the players to follow the plot. Before this, you’ve had to give them reasons to stay in the city even though things have gone downhill fast. Now, you need to get the thinking about leaving. Fortunately you are given lots of help and player motivations, so it’s not as doomed an endeavour as you might think – but still, the GM will have to come up with Plan B (and C, and D, and…) in case the players don’t follow the breadcrumb trail.
This installment is half event-based urban encounter (like the previous two parts) and half dungeon crawl. The dungeon does seem quite interesting and has a reason to exist, so I suspect it would work pretty well in practice to break the game flow a bit. As before, the city encounters are very nice and varied – the players are given the opportunity to play Blood Pig, among other unsavory entertainments.
The whole thing seems pretty solid, with the disclaimer above about a fairly linear plot that needs to be followed in some fashion.
The rest of the contents are good, as always – we have some more new monsters (this time with an Indian style, because of module plot reasons), a new Pathfinder Journal installment, and such. The overall quality remains high.
An alien conspiracy 160 million years in the making.
A group so powerful, their leader may be a god.
An accident so terrible it threatens the past, present and future.
To DELTA GREEN, it’s just another goddamn Night at the Opera.
Finally got around to reading this. Wow, once again; I have yet to be disappointed by any Delta Green book. This is extremely good stuff and quite creepy to boot.
Delta Green: Eyes Only collects three old and long (long!) out-of-print chapbooks for DG, and adds in three new scenarios (each one built around one of the chapbooks) and some extra articles. The first section/chapbook, “The Machinations of the Mi-Go”, concerns the Mi-Go (no surprise) and expands on their operations from what we’re told in the core book. While good, this section is maybe the weakest, simply because there isn’t all that much new here – lots of nice expansions on previous ideas, though. The second section, “The Fate”, deals with that organization (also initially introduced in the corebook), and here they are shown to be even scarier than initially depicted – which is understandable given the “default” answer presented here as to who/what Stephen Alzis actually is. Nice character detail on all the “Lords” is given, in addition to some supporting cast.
The last non-adventure section, “Project Rainbow”, is perhaps the best, and it’s completely original to this book – namely, the DG version of the Philadelphia Experiment. Very creepy and very cool.
Next up we have the scenarios. First is “A Night on Owlshead Mountain” which is a very nice scenario connected with the Mi-Go – but in a pleasantly subtle way. Probably the easiest scenario in this bunch to integrate with an existing campaign. Second up is “Artifact Zero”, which is a chilling and extremely deadly scenario built around the Project Rainbow stuff. Really good scenario, but also so ridiculously deadly that it makes Convergence from the core book look a bit tame. Run this for established play groups only if you’re prepared to lose a lot of PCs. I’d personally run this as a one-shot, and continue on with survivors (if any). You need a ridiculous level of paranoia to survive this thing. Not a bad thing, but… well, you have been warned. This one is nasty and unfair.
Last up is “Holy War”, which concerns internal Fate politics and the fallout of that into the hands of DG and other groups, set in New York just after 9/11. Reads like a nice adventure, but probably best suited for more experienced agents.
All in all, I was extremely impressed with this book, it continues the very high level of quality that Delta Green books are known for. If you want some nasty nihilism into your modern-day occult/supernatural games, you can’t really go wrong with Delta Green material.
As an aside, Scott Glancy just announced on the DG mailing list that a softcover reprint of “Eyes Only” is going to the printers today – so expect to see that available from some places in the near future. Good news for those who missed the original 1000-copy print run, which sold out fast.
Heavy Gear Blitz L&L is the latest and greatest incarnation of the Heavy Gear tactical miniatures game. This version is an improved version of the original “Blitz!” ruleset, tweaked based on playtest and fan feedback over about a year of playing. It also includes updated versions of the 3 faction books, so this book is all you need (in addition to the minis, of course). The deluxe version (one I have) is in full color, the “normal” version has some color pages but is mostly B&W.
Having read the rules but not having played any games yet: the rules seem to be a nice balance between tactical options and speed of play. I’m mostly clear on how the game works, though I’d have to re-read the sections on Indirect Fire, Concealment and such before actually trying it out. With any luck, I’ll be able to coax some local players into running a demo/tutorial game, at Ropecon if nowhere else.
I’m currently planning a Paxton/PRDF 1000 TV force, based on some feedback I’ve gotten on the DP9 Blitz forum. I recently ordered some Gear minis for it from Noble Knight, and am waiting for the Coyote tankstrider minis to be available (sometime later this month) for the big(ger) guns. After that, I need to get me some paints and modeling tools, and start learning the construction + paint thing. Scary.
With the disclaimer that I have extremely limited experience with wargames in general, and that I haven’t actually played this yet: this seems to be a pretty solid ruleset, with lots of cool options, flavor and tactics. Looking forward to trying it out.
Lots of anticipated indie rpgs (or supplements) are suddenly popping up. Maybe it’s the influence of Origins and the upcoming Gencon, or maybe it’s just synchronicity.
First off, John Wick’s eagerly-anticipated “anti-D&D” game Houses of the Blooded is finally on its way to the printers, and us preorder people got our PDFs last night. There’s no way I can give any sort of impression on the thing yet, it’s 400+ pages and I’ll probably wait to seriously read it via the print copy, when it arrives. There’s something very cool about this game, the “fictious myth as history” attitude that’s embedded in it and the general “everything that is true in D&D is not true here” thing. It looks complex, it looks like something I need to run at some point.
The second event, also last night, was the “Burning Wheel Summer Surprise”, which turned out to be the (very!) long-anticipated Magic Burner book. A 200-copy run of preorders, signed and numbered, went on sale last night at about 23:00 Finnish time – and the burningwheel.org server promptly melted. I don’t think Luke and the guys quite anticipated the demand here. After over an hour of retries and re-refreshes, I finally managed to place an order for a copy (plus a spiffy limited-run shirt). The run sold out sometime during the night, so if you didn’t get a copy you’ll have to wait until the normal print run goes on sale and have to do without a signed copy of the book. The pain, the pain…
There’s also Don’t Lose Your Mind (a Don’t Rest Your Head expansion) coming up, in addition to Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor and Curriculum of Conspiracy (add-ons for the uber-cool Monsters and Other Childish Things). It’s a good time to be a gamer.
Criminal Histories is a small pure-crunch supplement for Paranoia XP – in a way it’s a rules plug-in module, replacing the stock character background stuff in the core book with a ton of table-driven goodness. In a classic Paranoia game character backgrounds didn’t really matter since clones died so fast, but with the new “Straight” gameplay mode characters might even (gasp) survive a game or two and get an opportunity to utilize background resources. Even when playing in more classic mode, the expanded backgrounds give the GM lots of new ways to get the characters in trouble, and for them to stab each other in the back.
In essence, this is 60+ pages of tables which help you quickly generate the “past life” of a Paranoia character. What did they do before they were promoted (or demoted, as may be) to Troubleshooter status? What enemies did they make along the way? Did they actually learn some useful extra skills along the way? This book will tell you, without needing any of that nasty “GM improvisation” stuff (that sounds like “work”, and “work” is something Paranoia GMs should avoid).
I’d use this if I were to run a game of Paranoia, no question. It provides lots of extra detail for little extra effort, and can give you (as the GM) evil extra ideas.
The Demon Within (by Stephen S. Greer and Tim Hitchcock) continues Paizo’s “D” series of modules, focusing on dungeon crawls and such. While those can be tiresome combatfests (and this one does have a lot of combat), here it’s thankfully not the only content. There’s an actual plot, and a pretty interesting one at that.
Presented is an order of knights who stand vigil over the “Worldwound”, a demon-infested wasteland. An ancient artifact (what else?) has kept the demons at bay, but now the demons have discovered a weakness in the defenses and are preparing to invade. Guess who gets to visit the place just as the demons attack? Right. No surprises there.
There’s a lot to like here. NPC motivations are key to several things, there are quite a few important non-combat encounters, and in general there is more a sense of plot than the usual “go to this dungeon and get the loot”. I’m not even sure if “D” is a fitting classification for this module… but be that as may, this is good stuff (assuming you’re ok with a lot of combat, too).
Seven Days to the Grave, by F. Wesley Schneider, continues the “Curse of the Crimson Throne” adventure path. The city of Korvosa is slowly adjusting to the change in rulers, when a new danger appears: a deadly disease which kills in about seven days (thus the title), with an extremely high fatality rate. Where did the disease come from, and why is nobody able to do much about it? Naturally enough, it falls on the PCs to figure things out.
A good continuation to the adventure path, this chapter features a wide variety of encounters and situations (like the first part). It retains the small problem of “how do I get the PCs involved in all this”, but it’s assumed the GM has figured out a way after running part one – the default scenario has the PCs involved via the town guard, perhaps being a part of it themselves. If your game has a different setup, be prepared to do a bit of extra work in setting things up. As before, it’s assumed the PCs have some reason to stay in town (patriotism, personal ties, etc) and not just get the hell out of a plague city – otherwise this chapter will prove to be very short indeed.
Not much to fault here, the adventure part of the book(let) is very good and the other chapters are also good reading. This chapter gets extra points for being the first semi-serious look (that I’ve seen) at how large-scale plagues would work in a fantasy environment which has things like Cure Disease – and for providing lots of reasons why magic alone won’t save the day. So far, this adventure path is shaping up to be quite excellent.
One of the things I like about most of Paizo’s adventures is that they don’t all automatically assume that things will be resolved via combat – a common failing of all so many D&D adventures.
Oh boy. This is all too accurate (and funny): Killjoy Cooking With the Dungeons & Dragons Crowd (from Wired).
Very nice weekend, Teemu & Tuukka organized a repetition of last year’s VTES miniqualifier tournament weekend – in other words, 2 days of VTES tournament and casual play, with beer, sauna and the option to swim in the sea. Huge amount of fun, and the sea wasn’t that cold anymore… at least not after enough alcohol in the bloodstream, to keep things lubricated.
Did poorly in the first day’s tournament, but that was no big surprise; I was playing my Daughters anarch voter, which isn’t really a tournament deck (I’ve been forced to conclude). When it works it works great, but it can and will fail in so many ways. In other words, it’s much too fragile. Had fun playing, though, and the casual games in the evening were entertaining also. Tuomas went on to win the first day tournament with his Mind Rape + Tupdog deck (which he in vain tried to claim wasn’t actually a Mind Rape + Tupdog deck).
Second day went much better, I tried out my newish Osebo combat toolbox and it did surprisingly well. After a table sweep and some extra VPs, I make it to the finals. Things actually looked pretty good there for a while, but then I ran out of intercept and Tuukka’s Malks swept over me. Was largely my own fault, I fouled up by transferring out the wrong vampire by mistake; if I had gotten the rush-capable Massassi out (as intended), things might have gone differently. Oh well. In any case, I was pleasantly suprised by the performance of that deck, even though it has lots of weak points. Need more Preternatural Strength (doesn’t everyone?)…
The last tournament round ended in a draw, with Tuomas and Tuukka both betting 2 VPs and Jukka getting one – but Tuukka got tournament win due to higher preliminary round totals. Score one more for the old-school Malks (though Tuukka’s deck didn’t use Dominate and was a pretty interesting take on the Malk S+B concept).
I think I’ll dismantle most of my current decks (barring the Osebo one and a Toreador one I’m working on) and build up some new ones with ideas I’ve been gathering.