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 the ‘Product Reviews’

Dungeons & Dragons Does Good

January 27, 2019 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings, Product Reviews

Summary

I started running Dungeons & Dragons 5e (5e) campaign for my kids and one of their friends.  As part of the preparation I read the main three books cover-to-cover.  After reading the books I came away with a realization, “They done good.”  Many of my perceived minor foibles that were present in 3e and earlier additions are smoothed over or rewritten.  I know this is 5 years or so late but…here is a simple review of the changes in 5e that caught my attention.

Rolling Thunder

The dice mechanic has changed subtly for the better.  First off all rolls are now high.  Instead of rolling low for skills, high for attacks, etc players now always want to roll high.  Skills are rolled using a d20 plus a characteristic bonus plus a proficiency bonus based on level if you have the skill.  This means skills automatically improve as the player levels.  Neat.

They have also introduced rolling with Advantage or Disadvantage.  If the PC is at an advantage they get to roll two d20 and take the best.  If the PC is at a disadvantage they roll two d20 and take the worst result.  Simple yet really effective.

Occasionally a PC might be in a situation where a roll is not done as they are not actively performing a task.  For example, someone is trying to sneak up on them as they walk down a trail.  In this case there is passive checks.  Passive checks are a calculated number (10 plus modifiers) that is compared to a target.  So in my example, if the walker has a passive perception of 14 the person sneaking up has to hit that with their roll to stay hidden.  Again…simple…effective.

We All Go To Town Together

Everything is condensed to one experience point chart.  Gosh this make so much sense and should have been done ages ago.  This also makes it easier to treat advancement as characters will often level at nearly the same time.

The GM is also give advice on how to balance encounters based on level and a simple formula.  This makes it easier to plan encounters and adjust them on the fly if say one of your players cannot make it.

Inspirational!

One really fantastic change is stolen right from systems with bennies like Savage Worlds.  There is a new mechanic called Inspiration.  This mechanic gives the player an Inspiration point when their character follows one of their flaws, traits, or bonds.  This point can be spent to give them Advantage on a roll.  I really appreciate mechanics like this that give the players a bit more control of outcomes if it is really important to the character.

More Hit Points (HP) at level 1 is also a very nice touch.  This makes starting PC able to take at least a couple of good hits before dying.  This is great at giving PC a bit more staying paying up front.  Also healing is simpler.  In fact it makes it so that every party does not need a cleric.  Another wonderful change.

Magic Mana

Magic is changed as well.  Characters using magic have prepared spells but these do not restrict how many times they can use each spell.  The amount of times a caster can do a spell is driven by spell slots.  So a wizard might memorize Magic Missile, Unseen Servant, and Identify.  During an adventure they can use their spell slots to cast any of those spells until the slots are gone.  Again…simple but less restricting.  Nice change.

The amount of magic items each PC can use is controlled.  Characters have to bond with magic items.  This takes a brief amount of time.  The key here is that they can bond to 3 items only!  This means characters are less dependent on magical crutches and forced to use the talents of their class.  Excellent.

Conclusion

I really looking forward to see how things turn out as the campaign advances with these tweaks.  I guess this goes without saying…this might be my favorite Dungeons & Dragons Edition to date.  Critical hit WOTC!

The 2014 Lair Awards

May 21, 2015 By: John Taber Category: Anime Reviews, Fun Reads, Games, Media Interests, Product Reviews

Summary

[ This year the awards are a “bit” late. 🙂 I got busy with my new campaign and blog posts have lapsed. I am hoping to get some reviews in soon. They are stockpiling! 😀 ]

Welcome to the fourth annual Lair Awards! It is again time to pick through the fumbles to uncover some critical hits. This year I will be adding a new category.

Here is how the 2014 Lair Awards will work. There will be five categories: Best Anime, Best Read, Best RPG, Best Board Game, and Best Session. To be eligible for an award the product must have been reviewed in the calendar year by me on the blog. There were a TON of great products released in 2014 but if I did not review them they don’t count. Also note that I often review products that are quite old. A product is eligible for an award if I reviewed it in 2014…period…it does not matter when the product was actually released. 😉

The envelopes please! 😀

Best Anime – No Winner!

This is sad. I did no anime reviews in 2014 at all. I watched several animated features but did not get a chance to review them on the blog. Of the animated series that I watched my favorite was Clone Wars. I watched all seasons and the Lost Missions (i.e. Season 6) with my boys. Great series.

Best Read – Batwoman Volume 1: Hydrology

Batwoman Volume 1I reviewed four exceptional graphic novels in 2014. Two earned 8 paws and two earned 9 paws. The two 9 paw products included Paraiah Missouri and Batwoman Volume 1: Hydrology. I would give the story nod to Pariah but the art nod to Batwoman. I chose Batwoman for the off the charts artwork. The broken panels, the coloring, and the stunning panorama views by J.H. Williams III are just breath taking. Go buy it. 🙂

Best Board Game – Memoir 44

Even though I only did one board game review in 2014 it was a great one. My 9 paw review of Memoir 44 on March 20, 2014 is the most thought out review I have ever done. After playing hundreds of session I had a lot to say but I wanted to say it in a condensed and considerate manner. I consider it one of my best reviews. If you don’t have Memoir 44 you should go buy it.

Best RPG – Hero Kids

Hero Kids CoverI read a lot of RPGs in 2014 but only reviewed around five products. Out of these products two stood out. I really thought the Trail Of Cthulhu Resource Book & Keeper’s Screen and Hero Kids were the standouts. I gave the nod to Hero Kids because of the enjoyment it has brought to me and my kids. Even now the boys beg to continue their Hero Kids adventures. Right now they are going through a kid friendly version of the Temple Of Elemental Evil and having a blast. I will have to write up some of the details from the run and post it to the blog. 😀 (Note that the Hero Kids article about our first session has also brought traffic and comments to my site which I appreciate. 😉 )

Best Session – Session #11 – Daring Tale #6 – The Palladium Peril

I played Daring Tales Of Adventure with my main RPG group in 2014. There were a TON of great sessions to pick but I went with Session #11. Session #11 had our illustrious heroes confronting a fencing master, performing a rescue on a train, and a cliffhanger at the Coliseum in Rome!

Please reply if you have any comments. 🙂

GAME ON! 😀

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.