Kingbeast's Lair

Growling about the RPG industry and my gaming life. RPG and anime reviews from a passionate fan. (Formerly John's Hero HQ.)

Archive for October, 2009

Spirit Storm Campaign Map Posted

October 29, 2009 By: John Taber Category: Games, Spirit Storm News

I just finished the Spirit Storm Campaign Map. I created it using Fractal Mapper 8. It is a PDF document made from a 4000×4000 pixel PNG file. To get a copy head over the File Downloads page.

Review Of The Esoterrorists By Pelgrane Press

October 22, 2009 By: John Taber Category: Games, Product Reviews

Esoterrorists Cover-== What is it? ==-

The Esoterrorists is a roleplaying game from Pelgrane Press. It is written by the well respected Robin Laws. The setting is one where elite investigators from a group called the Ordo Veritatis attempt to prevent others from tearing the fabric of our world. If this fabric, or membrane, is torn the Esoterrorists will be able to let loose hordes of horrific monster. I would classify the genre as modern investigative horror.

The book has a color cover and an entirely black and white interior. The book is 8 1/2? x 11? and is 86 pages in length. It includes a nice index and a character sheet. I reviewed version 1.3 from November 2006. Everything that is needed to play is in this one book. I have only read the book and several of the supplements; I have not yet played the game.

-== What I Like ==-

Probably the shining star of this book is the Gumshow system. The Gumshoe system is the rules system that Mr. Laws released first in The Esoterrorists. The system is geared for investigative type stories. One key mechanic that has given the game some attention in the roleplaying community is in regards to uncovering important clues. The PC are considered to be experts in certain fields. If a PC has an investigative skill he WILL find an important clue if it exists. By spending points devote to that skill he will uncover even more facts about that clue. The key is that this knowledge does not include the meaning behind the clue…that is still up to the players. If you think about TV police dramas this is really how they work. The characters on crime dramas find the critical clues they just have to figure out what they all mean. Same idea here. It is a really awesome concept that I have informally used in the past but this is the first time it has really become part of a game system and defined as such.

The Gumshoe system is very fast. Most actions take place quickly with simple dice rolls. For those who want detailed combat rules you will not find them here. The key is simple and fast. I consider this a strength for this genre.

The sample adventure in the back of the book is called Operation Slaughter House. I thought it was well written and really goes a long way in describing how the setting works.

The interior artwork and layout by Jerome Huguenin is really wonderful. In fact it is better than all of the other Esoterrorists related products that I have read after it. Mr. Huguenin also shows several characters multiple times through the book. The effect is almost like reading a comic on top of the game book. The layout if evocative of the setting and does not make the text harder to read. In other Esoterrorists related products the layout can be very dark and very hard to read.

-== What I Don’t Like ==-

By far my biggest complaint about the book is the lack of setting material. There is very little presented on the Ordo Veritatis or the Esoterrorists. There really needs to be a lot more material to explain how the PC are grouped, how the Ordo Veritatis is organized, how missions are handled, etc. In fact I don’t think the translation for “Ordo Veritatis” is given in the book at all. It is a huge problem with the material in my opinion. (Note that since reading this book I have started reading the Esoterrorists Fact Book from Pelgrane. This supplement has 25 pages or so that really give great detail on the Ordo Veritatis. This material should be in the main Esoterrorists book.)

Even though I enjoyed the interior art quite a bit I think the cover it rather plain and uninteresting. It is also a bit dark and takes some studying to pick up the nuances. Maybe that was intentional but I was not fond of it.

-== Summary ==-

I really enjoyed reading The Esoterrorists. I think it really has a lot to offer for folks who enjoy modern horror and especially investigative games. As I am a big fan of monster hunting games it really hits a sweet spot for me. At a price point of $19.95 I think it is a good deal. If you plan to give it a try pick up this book AND the Esoterrorists Fact Book. Together these products make a complete and evocative game.

I give The Esoterrorists book alone 7 out of 10 paws. If you pick it up with the Esoterrorists Fact Book then I up that to an 8 out of 10 paws. (Note that I may review the Esoterrorists Fact Book in another blog entry. Watch this space in cyberspace for details.)

Spirit Storm Session Log: Epic Tale #3 – Blue Bellies – Session #5

October 20, 2009 By: John Taber Category: Games, Spirit Storm News

Date At Start Of Game: 06/01/206

[Author’s Note: This is the log for the 5th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play.]

Exploring The Bellies Cave Complex

After taking stock of the situation the PC devise a daring plan to attack the Belly cave complex. First Bilby and Cillian sneak into the left tunnel so that they can jump anyone who is tries to run or advance. Once they are ready Oren begins to dig into the wall of the right tunnel to collapse it. The Bellies who are not very bright at first don’t know how to react. Eventually one Belly in the right tunnel approaches Oren but does not engage him. In the left tunnel one of the Bellies turns to alert the complex. Bilby stabs at him with a killing thrust from the darkness. Cillian runs through one of the other two guards at left tunnel. When Oren finished the entire party heads up the left tunnel.

When they reach a fork that leads to the main village center Oren again starts to collapse the tunnel. Bellies inside watch but again do not approach. Kanga holds them back with arrow shots. As Oren is nearing completion of sealing off the tunnel the PC hear a squeeky Ape Man voice asking the PC who is attacking. Oren replies with a command to give up the prisoner and Narduhl or they will continue attacking. The squeeky voice laughs and says that he does not plan to give himself up. With that Oren finishes collapsing the tunnel. Just before it seals a swarm of bugs attack the PC.

With that the PC continue up the left tunnel structure to an area where the Belly leader was seen. Kanga pins a guard then the PC take him out. Oren rushes forward with the rest of the PC behind him. Cillian picks up clubs with gel sacs and mops up some of the lizards. Bilby fights the bugs. Po heals anyone who gets hurt. Eventually the king Belly leads a charge at the PC. The entire time his helmet glows with magic. With a VERY powerful blow he stuns Oren. Luckily he can catch his breadth before being exposed. Kanga pins the belly shaman and starts picking at the king. Po throws the worm idol from Frazz into the fray near Narduhl. A black shadowy worm appears that with a gaping maw full of sharp teeth that drip acid! Cursing the PC for using his own worm against him Narduhl backs down a tunnel and throws out some of his Shadow Mantis creatures like the PC encountered in the first adventure to block the passage. The worm begins to plow through the mantis as it tries to engange Narduhl. After some dangerous play the PC manage to clear the room of Bellies. As the last Belly is falling Cillian see through the wall that Narduhl seems to be transforming into something. He is shrinking! What is the little insect mage up to now?!?

Date At End Of Game: 06/01/206

New Doctor Who Logo

October 06, 2009 By: John Taber Category: Media Interests

There is a new Doctor Who logo. This will be used for the next season. Meh…not bad… 🙂