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.)
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Archive for 2014

Review of Daring Tales Of Adventure Compendiums By Triple Aces Games

December 08, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games, Product Reviews

Daring Tales Of Adventure 3

-== What is it? ==-

The Daring Tales Of Adventure Compendiums (DTOA) are sets of four pulp adventures for Savage Worlds. They are published by Triple Aces Games as part of their Daring Tales series. Currently there are four volumes. A set of characters are provided for use with the scenarios.

These softcover books have color covers and entirely black and white interiors. The books are 6” x 9” and are roughly 112 pages in length. I am reviewing print copies of the Daring Tales Of Adventure Compendiums that I bought. I ran all of the adventures in the first three compendiums. I own and have read all four books.

-== What I Like ==-

My favorite thing about the DTOA adventures is how they capture all of the traditional iconic pulp elements. There are adventures with Nazis that have jetpacks, ancient Hollow Earth tribesman, strange Egyptian snake cults, mad scientists, zeppelins, etc. Each adventure also has several types of encounters. What pulp adventure is complete without a chase!?! Don’t forget a fist fight! Also the crazy locations are right out of the pulps. Ancient Templar tombs, exotic Turkish baths, etc.

The DTOA adventures can also chain off of each other. For example, a bad guy might escape at the end of one adventure to appear in a future story. This is a classic pulp staple.

The Savage Worlds stat blocks for the villains, monsters, and NPCs are for the most part complete and thought out. I did have to make some tweaks based on the changes in Savage Worlds Deluxe but overall the characters held up well.

Triple Aces added several setting rules for the DTOA line to better reflect the pulp genre. My group utilized all of these changes and they worked pretty well. Probably the largest and most important change is that bennies spent to soak are returned if all of the damage is reduced by the soak roll. This means the typical squared-jawed pulp PC can shrug off anything except the most deadly of blows. Also an additional bennie is granted at the start of each combat. That really makes a difference when there might be several combats in a single adventure.

-== What I Don’t Like ==-

The DTOA adventures are based on existing characters that are provided. Personally I think this was a bad choice for the line. In most cases I did not have trouble converting the scenarios so that they would work for the PC in my campaign but at times I could not easily do the conversion. For example, in a couple of the DTOA scenarios the action starts with a flashback where the PC were on some other adventure or story. This is not so easy if the PC did not have this in their backgrounds. If the DTOA products were geared for any group of pulp heroes then they could still have had their own provided PC as an option.

Almost every DTOA story has a scene that I thought did not advance the plot and could be removed. Often these scenes involved some fight with thugs when the PC are trying to gather some clue.

The adventures did not progressively scale in difficulty that well. For some reason my group of PC with less experience than the provided PC were MUCH more combat savvy. It was not a massive problem but it gave me more work than I would have liked.

Some of the DTOA adventures contained rules that were created directly for a particular scene. In a couple of these situations I had trouble as someone who is new to Savage Worlds converting it to Savage Worlds Deluxe.

Triple Aces enhanced the chase rules so that they introduce obstacles. These additional rules are really neat but they can be a bit tricky to convert to Savage Worlds Deluxe. Also chases had to be converted to round. I used the text in Savage Worlds Deluxe to help make the changes.

Artwork in the DTOA books was marginal and sparse. The covers are nice add evocative. The handouts are ok when provided. I would have liked to have the handouts available as PDF from site at a higher resolution so I could print them out easier.

The softcover binding is very tight. I had mine split and spiral bound to try and alleviate the issue. That helped but when spiral bound the text was very close to the binding and overwrote the text in several places.

-== Summary ==-

If you are looking for a set of pulp genre adventures with all the wonderful tropes then look no farther that DTOA. Be prepared for some alterations if you want to use your own PC and Savage Worlds Deluxe.

I give it 7 out of 10 paws.

You can get copies in PDF format at DriveThruRPG at this URL for $10 each. Amazon has the books for roughly $13. Here is a link to the third book. Noble Knight also has copies. Here is a link to the first one on their site.

The Kingbeast’s Lair 2014 Gift Guide

December 05, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Anime Reviews, Fun Reads, Games, Media Interests, Product Reviews

Welcome to the third annual Kingbeast’s Lair gift guide. Just like last year I will be presenting two lists. One is my personal wish list and the second is a selection of products that I think would make great gifts for that geek in your life. This year I will also add a board game entry to the lineup. The boys and I have played a lot of board games over the last year and I think we have found some winners. So for each selection I will limit myself to one RPG, one board game, one anime series or movie, and one fun read.

My Wish List

This might be the first year where there are NO RPG products at all on my actual wish list so instead I will pick something that I added after I mailed it out. ;)

Book Of Cairn Front CoverThe Book of Cairn by SoulJar Games
The Book of Cairn, or Cairn, is an small publisher RPG where the players take on the roles of intelligent animals. After researching it and talking to some folks who have played it I think it would be a great game to start playing with my kids. We are outgrowing Hero Kids and this one seems like it might be a great next step. It is also only $10 for the PDF on DriveThruRPG. Here is the description on RPGGeek:

A long time ago, humans walked the face of the world, but were destroyed for their arrogance and hubris. The Bright Ones lifted up the simple animals of forest and field, giving them the ability to think, build, and stand on their own two feet. In order to keep the newly Favored animals from making the same mistakes the humans did, The Bright Ones gave them the Compact — a book telling them how to live together in harmony.

Those who engage in dark deeds or refuse the ways of Harmony eventually become Dire — sinister, twisted versions of themselves, acting out of greed, vengeance, or selfishness. You must protect the town of Cairn and help it survive the winter. But beware! For you can become Dire, too.
Can you stop the Witch before she curses all the berries of the forest? Will you find the source of corruption withering Farmer Cottonstar’s fields? What of the growing threat of otters and moles working outside the town? Using a system of adventure seeds and story paths, you become the heroes of Cairn. The town survives or thrives based on your actions. And with 20 species and 20 professions, you can play almost any critter you can think of.
The Cairn RPG is a fantasy role-playing game where even the smallest creatures can have the biggest adventures.

7 Wonders by Asmodee
7 Wonders is a card management game where player build up powerful empires. It has so many award that they stretch off the page on RPGGeek. Maybe the biggest award of the list is a 2011 Spiel des Jahres Kennerspiel Game of the Year Nominee. Amazon sells the game for $32. Here is a description from the RPGGeek listing:

You are the leader of one of the 7 great cities of the Ancient World. Gather resources, develop commercial routes, and affirm your military supremacy. Build your city and erect an architectural wonder which will transcend future times.

7 Wonders lasts three ages. In each age, players receive seven cards from a particular deck, choose one of those cards, then pass the remainder to an adjacent player. Players reveal their cards simultaneously, paying resources if needed or collecting resources or interacting with other players in various ways. (Players have individual boards with special powers on which to organize their cards, and the boards are double-sided). Each player then chooses another card from the deck they were passed, and the process repeats until players have six cards in play from that age. After three ages, the game ends.

In essence, 7 Wonders is a card development game. Some cards have immediate effects, while others provide bonuses or upgrades later in the game. Some cards provide discounts on future purchases. Some provide military strength to overpower your neighbors and others give nothing but victory points. Each card is played immediately after being drafted, so you’ll know which cards your neighbor is receiving and how his choices might affect what you’ve already built up. Cards are passed left-right-left over the three ages, so you need to keep an eye on the neighbors in both directions.
Though the box of earlier editions is listed as being for 3–7 players, there is an official 2-player variant included in the instructions.

Grave Of The FireFlies by Section 23
Grave Of The FireFlies is the story of two orphans after the firebombing of Tokyo during WWII. It is massively rate on Amazon.com with 834 reviews and a 4.7 out of 5 rating. Here is a description of it from the Amazon listing ($20) that I like:

Isao Takahata’s powerful antiwar film has been praised by critics wherever it has been screened around the world. When their mother is killed in the firebombing of Tokyo near the end of World War II, teenage Seita and his little sister Setsuko are left on their own: their father is away, serving in the Imperial Navy. The two children initially stay with an aunt, but she has little affection for them and resents the time and money they require. The two children set up housekeeping in a cave by a stream, but their meager resources are quickly exhausted, and Seita is reduced to stealing to feed his sister. Despite his efforts, she succumbs to malnutrition. Seita painfully makes his way back to the crowded city, where he quietly dies in a crowded railway station. The strength of the film lies in Takahata’s evenhanded portrayal of the characters. A sympathetic doctor, the greedy aunt, the disinterested cousins all know there is little they can do for Seita and Setsuko. Their resources, like their country’s, are already overtaxed: anything they spare endangers their own survival. As in Barefoot Gen, no mention is made of Japan’s role in the war as an aggressor; but the depiction of the needless suffering endured by its victims transcends national and ideological boundaries. Takahata’s extraordinary film suggests a flower on the grave of countless children who, like Seika and Setsuko, died needlessly in wars they neither fought nor understood. (Unrated: suitable for ages 12 and older, violence, emotionally intense material)

100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book Three by Vertigo
Last year I got Book Two as a gift and loved it so this year I have Book Three on my list. In an earlier blog post I reviewed 100 Bullets Deluxe Edition Book One. See that review for all the good reasons why this sucker tops my list of fun reads. You can get copies on Amazon at this URL for $33.

Wish List For That Special Person In Your Life

Here are just three of the items on my bookshelf that I think would make great gifts.

FATE Core Front CoverFATE Core by Evil Hat Productions
FATE Core is a rules light RPG that packs a big punch. It has so many great concepts that even if the game is not played it is worth a read. Also like all Evil Hat products the production quality is very high. For a $17 price tag at Amazon this is a little gem. Go buy it.

Formula D by Asmodee
Formula D is one of the big hits on the board gaming front at my house this year. The simple gameplay allows the boys to play that game at a very high-level right out of the gate. We now have some of the expansion tracks and can’t wait to get more. Wonderful auto racing fun that scales up to 10 players! Amazon has it for $40.

Star Wars: Clone Wars: Season 1 by Warner Home Video
Being such a huge science fiction and Star Wars geek I started watching Clone Wars when it first came out. The first season has ups and downs but in this set are some fantastic episodes. So many fun characters are addressed in this series. Stick with it through Season 2 and things get even better. You can get Season 1 on Amazon for $32.

Pariah MissouriPariah Missouri by Decade Brothers Studios
Andres Salazar and Jose Luis Pescador have a hit with this small press gem. Pariah is a wild west tale set in a city that is being overrun by evil. Only a group of brave men and women will be able to fight back against the menace that growing in Pariah. The artwork is fresh, the coloring is superb, and the story is led by a team of great characters. Here is a link to my glowing review of the book. There is also a Pariah RPG setting book in the works where I contributed the Hero conversions and helped with an initial editing pass. You can get Pariah from your local comic store or PariahMissouri.com.

Merry Christmas everyone! :D

Session #19 – Daring Tales #9 – Kingdom Of The Blood God

October 20, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Mushroom Forest[Author’s Note: This is the log for the 19th and final session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play. The narrator is shown in italics.]

In this hair-raising adventure of Tesla’s Power Corp you can follow the exploits of the following heroes:

  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

Returning Home

After an uneventful trip back from the Island Of The Blood God the group enters Amazonia. The Amazons greet the heroes with cheers! As Cassandra approaches the old crone walks forward and goes to one knee. The new Queen Of The Amazons raises her hands to quiet the crowd. Cassandra explains that she has rescued six of their warriors. Even though the mission was successful there are still four fallen soldiers that were sacrificed to the Blood God. She then tells the crowd that her slaves are not from this world and that they wish to return home. Due to their bravery in the quest they will be released as her slaves.

In the palace the old crone brings items of the Queen Of The Amazons to Cassandra. One of the treasures is a sacred map. On the map is a spire with a beam of light emerging from it. When the members of Tesla’s Power Corp ask about the spire the old crone explains that it is an ancient city with magic beyond their understanding. The group quickly decides that this will be their destination.

The next morning Cassandra is approached by one of her warrior scouts. The scout reports that Athena has left with one of the slaves not from the Hollow Earth (aka Stefan). After gathering a small crew and boat the group sets sail for the spire.

Mushroom Forest

The boat makes good time to the landmass where the spire is located. The heroes say goodbye to the Amazons and setoff on foot. They find themselves in a forest made up of huge mushroom. After travelling for some time they are beset by strange fungal zombies! The group quickly dispatches them with some well placed shots and lightning.

The Lost City Of Atlantis

On the far side of the mushroom forest a magnificent city appears. The buildings of the city glow with white marble in the bright sun of the Hollow Earth. The heroes make their way towards the spire when they find a broken floor leading to a stairway. The stairway descends to a dark walkway over inky black water. Tommy does not feel safe and Miles detects a large magical creature moving in the water. At first Mike leads the way with his rifle in hand. Icky black tentacles flail out! Mike and Miles blast away at the tentacles as they appear. Tommy sees an opening and races through them dodging as he goes!

On the far side of the dark tunnel is a round white marble room with benches, a strange railing with hand prints, and a dais. Tommy examines the room and notices a seam going along the outer edge of the round room. Miles senses magic on the benches, rail, and dais. Tommy and Miles sit on the benches curious as to what will happen. On the dais the image of a man in a robe appears. The man explains that this is the City Of Atlantis and was made by great men. He then informs the heroes that they are not Atlanteans and so they will be eliminated. With that the floor opens up sending them falling into another room This room appears to be some sort of metal smelting line and the heroes are on a moving conveyor belt! Thinking quickly Miles touches Mike and teleports to the end of the conveyor. Tommy dives through saw blades then springs off of hammers where Mike waits with an outstretched hand!

I Can Destroy You With My Mind!

The members of Tesla’s Power Corp next find a huge chamber with glowing concentric circles suspended by chains over a room filled with lava. In the center of the circle is Stefan bathed in a green light. He soliloquys that he will soon have the mental power of a god! When Athena asks when she will be given power to become the queen Stefan sends her flying off the lower ring where at the last minute she grabs a chain! The heroes jump into action! Miles blasts Stefan with a massive bolt of lightning that miraculously finds a gap in the green shield surrounding the Greek mobster. Tommy dives down to the lower ring in a roll. Mike follows and using Tommy as a springboard barrels through the shield where he knocks Stefan out the other side! The next second Mike’s fists send Stefan nearly off a walkway. Stefan narrowly manages to grab hold with his fingertips! At that moment a group of angry Chicomoztoci priests appear from a walkway and start advancing! Tommy sends his voracious spiders to stop the deranged tribesman then throws a rope to the Amazon warriors so that they may save Athena. When Stefan tries to grab Tommy with his telekinetic mind powers he steps on his fingers sending him sprawling into the lava. Miles then teleports down into the green light! In seconds he feels powerful! Concentrating Miles teleports the heroes and the Amazons back to his penthouse apartment in New York City.

Although returned from the Hollow Earth the impact of their journey will be felt for a long time by the members of Tesla’s Power Corp.

Thank you for listening to Tesla’s Power Corp! We here at Kingbeast Radio Drama hope you enjoyed listening to the show. Take care and goodnight!

[I wanted to send a special thanks to my players for making this a great campaign. I enjoyed all the pulpy actiony goodness. GAME ON!]

John’s Gamer Dad Level Up List

October 03, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings

RPG Kids

Summary

I really excited that my two boys are now old enough to start playing games that are much more sophisticated. I am having a blast teaching them about a hobby that I adore. During this time I have seen them improve in many areas. While they have been improving I have been carefully following their progress. This list is my fun way to track our progress. I call it John’s Gamer Dad Level Up List. The ones we have completed are in gold. I added a computer knowledge list because it is important to me even though it is not really game related. :)

Board Games

  • Play hide & seek
  • Play simple kids board games
  • Play a more complicated Euro style board game
  • Play a simple wargame
  • Reference rules from one game while playing another game
  • Save money to buy games at a game store
  • Kid beats me regularly at a board game
  • Makes a reference to a board game in an unrelated conversation

My Comments
Right now my boys are playing many different board games with various mechanics and difficulty levels. Probably the most complicated might be our favorite, Memoir 44. The piggy bank to save money for games was actually their Mom’s idea. It is a great one that they have literally bought into.

RPGs

  • Play pretend
  • Play kid focused rpg
  • Go to first gaming com
  • Play a more advanced rpg
  • Refer to dice as “d[number of sides]”
  • GM an RPG
  • Teach an RPG to someone else
  • Makes a reference to an RPG in an unrelated conversation

My Comments
We started with Hero Kids and it has worked great. It is simple and really fun. Having Don present at the first session and some that follow has been wonderful. He is teaching them by example that the best way to solve issues is with your brains not at the tip of a sword. Evan has asked to try Dungeons & Dragons so he may get that as a gift at some point. SHHH!!! ;)

Video Games

  • Play video games with me
  • Play video game alone
  • Beat bosses alone
  • Beat an entire game alone
  • Buy a video game with their own money.
  • Makes a reference to a video game in an unrelated conversation

My Comments
At first the boys and I started playing simple games like Monkey Island, Animal Crossing, and Mario Kart. We then moved to the Zelda games and really enjoyed it. We finished Skyward Sword and nearly finished Twilight Princess…I cannot beat Gannondorf at the end. :( Recently we started playing Fire Emblem which is a turn based strategy game. The boys loved it and actually finished it during the summer on their own. Hot darn! :D

Computer Knowledge

  • Feel comfortable playing on a tablet
  • Know how to turn on the PC and play with simple software
  • Know how to search for something on the internet
  • Can create documents
  • Know the various parts of a computer
  • Help Grandpa and Grandma with their computer

My Comments
I am really proud of how my guys are taking to the computers and tablet. Josh is especially great at finding stuff on Google. He found tons of games with police officers, pictures of tanks, etc. Just awesome. Next I need to get a PC I can pull apart to show them.

Did I miss anything? :D

Session #18 – Daring Tales #9 – Kingdom Of The Blood God

September 23, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Tribesmen[Author’s Note: This is the log for the 18th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play. The narrator is shown in italics.]

In this hair-raising adventure of Tesla’s Power Corp you can follow the exploits of the following heroes:

  • Clyde Beatty – Whip crackin’ animal expert with a troubled past.
  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

Off The Rails!

When the mine tracks reach their terminus the cart plunges into an underground river. The heroes try to fight the suffocating water but succumb. The group awaken naked on a rough straw cot in leg manacles. Attending them is a beautiful young teenage woman known as Cassandra. She explains that the “slaves” were fished out of the lake by one of the Amazon hunting parties. The members of Tesla’s Power Corp are to be the property of the “new queen”. When prompted Cassandra explains that the old queen has just passed and a new queen will be selected today. She claims to be the daughter of the old queen Antiope. With that Cassandra escorts the group out into a central courtyard. At a small stone ziggurat a raven haired woman tells the crowd that she, Athena, claims the throne and asks for any challengers. At that moment one of the Amazon warriors who is standing behind Cassandra pushes her into the courtyard. Cassandra stands bravely but there is a look of fear in her eyes. She must battle Athena and her slaves for the throne. Cassandra claims the newly found slaves as her own.

As the battle starts the group moves into action. Tommy baits a slave towards the edge of the arena then throws him outside. Mike starts throwing powerful punches sending slaves to the dirt. Clyde works on other slaves while Miles cuts loose with lightning bolts. Cassandra fights defensively until Athena signals the crowd and is thrown weapons. Clyde grabs a sword and throws is to Cassandra. As Miles fells Athena, Cassandra puts a sword to her throat and asks her to surrender to the new queen. Athena assents.

Questing With The Queen

As the new “queen elect” Cassandra returns the group their gear. While relaxing in the palace the levity is interrupted by an Amazonian warrior. The warrior explains that one of the Amazon fishing villages is under attack by a group of Chicomoztoci tribesmen. They are capturing Amazons to sacrifice to their evil blood god! The heroes jump into action with Cassandra. They find a group of deranged tribesman burning down the village when they start their attack. The unorganized tribesman are quickly put down by the heroes. As the battle closes the Amazons report that ten of their members have been taken.

Upon returning to the Amazon fortress Cassandra is confronted by an old Amazon shaman. The crone tells the group that Cassandra must conduct a quest to rescue the Amazons who were taken to be crowned as queen. The fates should be confronted to guide the group. With that the heroes and Cassandra enter a sacred chamber below the Amazonian temple ziggurat. They soon find astral forms of themselves and must confront ghostly warriors using only their minds. The tables are turned when Tommy, Clyde, and Miles let loose in hand-to-hand mind combat. The crone gives the team magic stones as a reward for their victory.

Island Of The Blood God

Five days on the water take the heroes and Cassandra to the home of the Chicomoztoci. As they approach the island that is the home of the blood god’s minions they are beset by pirates! After boarding the pirate ship the heroes defeat the pirate captain and commandeer the ship. They then devise a plan to use the pirate ship as a distraction. Tommy sets the pirate ship on fire then jumps overboard! When the boat explodes ships from the island are sent to investigate. This gives the heroes a chance to sneak onto the island and free the captured Amazons.

As they sneak into the ruined city that is the Chicomoztoci home they find the Amazons tied up in a hallway inside the main ceremonial ziggurat. When Tommy sneaks up he finds five Amazons and Stefan Andropolous! Apparently the Greek mobster survived the mine cart descent and was rescued by the Chicomoztoci who now plan to sacrifice him. The group unties the Amazons but are caught as they are trying to escape. A pitched battle ensues! Miles and the Chicomoztoci witchdoctor trade blasts! Clyde start whipping tribesman off the ziggurat steps. Mike fires some deadly shots with his rifle then enters into hand-to-hand combat with them. Tommy grabs the ceremonial dagger from the fallen witchdoctor then uses it to impale the last temple guard. The party rushes back to their small boat and the trip back to the Amazonian homeland.

Cassandra is now the queen but the heroes of Tesla’s Power Corp still need to return to the surface. An ancient map will lead them to unspeakable horrors that must be braved. Keep your eyes open and your fists at the ready!