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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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. πŸ™‚ I got busy with my new campaign and blog posts have lapsed. I am hoping to get some reviews in soon. They are stockpiling! πŸ˜€ ]

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. πŸ˜‰

The envelopes please! πŸ˜€

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜€ (Note that the Hero Kids article about our first session has also brought traffic and comments to my site which I appreciate. πŸ˜‰ )

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. πŸ™‚

GAME ON! πŸ˜€

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. πŸ˜‰

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 β€” 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 β€” 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! πŸ˜€

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