My Spirit Storm campaign has recently switched from Hero 5th edition to Hero 6th edition. I have uploaded new copies of the Hero 6th edition characters to the Spirit Storm campaign site. It was a pretty painless move although three of the characters went through some changes during the transition. One tough decision that I made was to reset the Total Points. I used a bit below the Total Points of the PC that transitioned with the highest cost as the baseline then had everyone reset to that level. I think it worked out fairly for everyone although some folks probably lost some experience as they had not spent everything and their PC may have transitioned over at a lower total. Overall I think it will all come out in the wash.
Archive for October, 2010
-== What is it? ==-
Pluto is a science fiction manga that weaves a tale of what happens when human emotions collide with robotic artificial intelligence. The collection was written by Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka and is published by Viz Media in their Viz Signature line of manga. Pluto was released in eight volumes from February 2009 through March 2010.
The story of Pluto is inspired by the classic Astro Boy story “The Greatest Robot On Earth”. This story was written by Osamu Tezuka in 1951. You read that right…1951. The Astro Boy manga became so popular that in 1963 it was turned into the first weekly animated series in Japan. Both the manga and TV series are iconic. Naoki Urasawa, the co-author and artist of Pluto, is considered a modern manga master so his take on such a classic story adds to the importance of the collaboration.
The eight volumes have color covers with intricate portrait spines. Each book is 5.75? x 8.25? and is roughly 200 pages in length. Volume 8 of Pluto is actually a bit longer at 256 pages. The first 10 pages of each volume are in color and the rest are black and white. At the end of each book is an editorial by a noted manga artist or author. I am reviewing print copies that I purchased.
-== What I Like ==-
Pluto is visionary storytelling. It is science fiction at its very best. It asks very difficult questions then answers them from several perspectives. Some of the tough questions that Pluto addresses include what it means to be human, what means to “feel”, how far hatred can go, and when does it end?
Characters are beautifully detailed and real in Pluto. Gesicht, the robot artificial intelligence detective, is so well crafted that his story will make you cheer, hate, then cry. (Gesicht is on the cover of the first volume.)
Pluto is filled with fantastic artwork that is detailed, full of action, and not cluttered. Urasawa’s work is off the charts beautiful. The cover and spine artwork on the eight volumes depict different faces of the various main players. The picture wraps around the spine to the back of the volume. On the spine itself the face is lined up with the right eye of the character. It looks very dramatic on a bookshelf.
-== What I Don’t Like ==-
There is very little not to like about the story in Pluto. My only complaint on the story, and it is minor, is that is can be a bit slow at times. For the most part it is done to make an impact later on in the chapter.
The cost for each volumes feels a bit high but I am not a frequent manga buyer. Each volume of Pluto has a cover price of $12.99. I would recommend waiting for a sale at RightStuf.com. Just add yourself to their newsletter then watch for a sale on Viz products.
-== Summary ==-
I have read various manga over the years and I can categorically state that Pluto is my all time favorite. Even if you are not a manga or comic book fan I encourage looking this one up. It had such a big impact on me that after reading the last two volumes I had to sit quietly pondering what I had read. Pluto is storytelling at a high level.
You can get the books at RightStuf.com for at this URL for $9.74. Here is a link to the first volume at Amazon.com. They sell it for $10.39.
I give it 10 out of 10 paws.
[Author's Note: This is the log for the 19th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play.]
The Temple – Level 2
As Malotoch walks away his Rook minions advance. As the Rooks and Rook Acolytes flood through the broken doorway to the forge the avatars start attacking. Bilby jumps down from the roof killing a Rook with an assassin’s strike. Cillian takes some damage but manages to fend off the creatures long enough to get healed and get some help. Kanga lets arrows loose felling Rooks with single shafts. Po casts healing spells on his companions while staying back out of the melee. Oren pounds Rooks with the Granite Head Forge hammer and near the end of the combat goes enraged! When the last Rook falls Oren rushes out of the room in a rage looking for more Dark Lord minions to slay.
At the end of hallway Oren finds two more Rooks who are escaping up the stairwell and attacks. Bilby follows Oren closely with Kanga behind. Cillian looks through the walls and sees the man in the gray coming around the far end of the hallway with a strange amorphous blob following behind him. With that Cillian sneaks up behind the man in gray. Po follows Cillian carefully. The frail man in gray then tells the blob to attack Oren, Bilby, and Kanga at the end of the hallway. He stands and watches the combat for a bit until Cillian sneaks up and covers him with his sword. To Cillian’s surprise the man laughs out loud at being covered. Po then closes and attempts to take away the spirit mages fetishes. The man in gray backs away and tries to cast so Cillian stabs him. The wound cuts extremely deep and the evil spirit mage seems surprised by the amount of damage done. Oren closes and knocks him out with a solid blow. With that the PC tie up the man in gray then search him. They find a chain mail shirt and a strange black key that Po says is magical. Po also burns the mages fetishes in the forge before the PC head towards Malotoch and Narduhl.
At the end of the hallway the PC catch two Rooks escaping the west. There is an obvious black door to the east so the PC head in that direction. The key from the man in gray fits the lock and opens the door.
The Temple – Level 3
As the PC progress into the next large chamber they find Malotoch and Narduhl. Narduhl is begging with Malotoch to flee claiming that the Great Tree avatars are just too powerful. Malotoch silences Narduhl with a wave and beckons for the PC to enter the room. As they enter the chamber they find it lined with braziers that have been knocked over due to the earthquake. In the roof is a huge natural chimney. Narduhl waits behind a stone altar while Malotoch sits on the throne on a small balcony. When the PC close Malotoch once more addresses Po. He says that since Po will not join him that he will have to “force” Po to join the Dark Lord and starts casting. With this the PC enter into combat with Narduhl and Malotoch. Po starts dodging spells from Malotoch while the rest of the PC approach. Kanga starts opening fire felling Narduhl in one shot to the head. Oren reaches the dais then jumps into the balcony. When he lands a blow on Malotoch he is surprised when a defense spell sends him reeling. Behind Oren two of Narduhl’s Shadow Mantis appear and start attacking. Bilby engages with the creatures. With a single shot from a lightning arrow Kanga put a hole in Malotoch’s midsection. As Malotoch falls he whispers that he and Po could have ruled the world…then expires. The Dark Lord’s high priest and one of the Great Tree avatars’ recurring “pests” have fallen!
Date At End Of Game: 10/21/206
-== What is it? ==-
Savage Worlds:Explorer’s Edition (SW:EE) is a universal role-playing game system that is published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. It was written by several primary authors including Shane Hensley, Paul Wade-Williams, Simon Lucas, Joseph Unger, Dave Blewer, Clint Black, Robin Elliott, and Piotr Korys. There are also many other contributers listed on the title page that I will not repeat here. The Explorer’s Edition was released in 2007.
SW:EE is a soft cover book has a color cover and a vibrant color interior. The book is 6? x 9? and is 160 pages in length. There is a 2 page table of contents, no index, and a 1 page advertisement at the end. (Note that you can download a PDF index from Pinnacle if you really want one but I don’t think it is needed.) I am reviewing a first edition print copy that I purchased. To play the game you need SW:EE, a set of multi-sided dice, and a deck of cards with the jokers left in. (The cards are used for handling initiative.) I have not played the game I have only read the book.
-== What I Like ==-
SW:EE uses simple mechanics that are easy to grasp. In most cases results are determined using a single die with modifiers. This is a big plus for any RPG but it is not as common for universal systems. SW:EE is not a crunchy heavy system. The rules are focused on high action and fast combats. Don’t expect tons of realism from SW:EE.
One big plus is that there are a ton of support products for SW:EE both from Pinnacle and other publishers. There are settings available in almost every genre. Some that really stand out to me are The Savage World Of Solomon Kane (based on the wonderful novels by Howard), Rippers (Victorian magic), Necessary Evil (superhero), and Hellfrost (fantasy). (Watch this space for a review of Hellfrost by Triple Ace Games. I am pretty impressed by the Hellfrost setting. )
Normally when I write reviews I mention the price in the Summary section only but for SW:EE the price is exceptional. The core book is a paltry $9.99. That is a total steal for a universal system of this quality.
The interior artwork and layout in SW:EE are beautiful. In fact I have to seriously hunt to find a picture that is only average. There are many interior artists listed so I will not mention them all now.
-== What I Don’t Like ==-
I was a bit disappointed that SW:EE did not have an example combat. I would much rather have had this than the adventure at the end of the book which is essentially useless. Instead of the adventure in the book I would forward folks to the many excellent One Sheet Adventures that can be downloaded form the Pinnacle site. These One Sheet Adventures are PDF modules that often include characters. These are a great way for folks to start playing quickly.
Another noticeable omission from SW:EE is that there is not a blank character sheet or any sample characters. I personally like when core book lead readers through the creation of a character with an example sheet. Saying that there are several PDF character sheets on the Pinnacle download page.
In a couple of places in SW:EE the text mentions going to the Pinnacle site to get certain PDFs. In two cases I could not find these files. When I posted a question on the Pinnacle forums about where these files could be found it was not answered.
I also noticed a few typos and areas of book that are not completely clear. The good news is that you can download a neat Cut-and-Paste Errata PDF from Pinnacle. This is a PDF that one prints then literally cuts up and tapes into SW:EE. This is a pretty neat idea that I wish other publishers would try.
The cover artwork by Cheyenne Wright is only fair in my opinion. It is made to look like a travel logbook but the effect is not well executed. The yellow and red Savage Worlds logo that was also done by Cheyenne Wright is very cool. I love the old map inset with compass background.
-== Summary ==-
SW:EE is one of the best universal systems I have read and I a love universal RPGs. The first incarnation of Savage Worlds was the winner of the 2003 Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Game and I can see why if it was anything like this updated product. Pinnacle’s tag line for SW:EE is right on the money…”Fast! Furious! and Fun!”
You can get SW:EE for $8.95 at Noble Knight Games at this URL. Amazon has it for $9.99 at this URL. The PDF can be had at DriveThruRPG at this URL for $9.99.
I give it 9 out of 10 paws.