Kafka over at RPGNet has written a fantastic review of the Ashen Stars theme music, All We Have forgotten. You can read the full review here.
An excellent audio journey through the fragmented but exciting world of Ashen Stars – in all its glory of a heroic and shiny past where the horrors of the present were banished into the abyss.
DC script writer Lowell Francis turns from sceptic to believer in this detailed breakdown of Hillfolk.
I didn’t think this game would be good. I read it. I was terribly wrong. It is great.
Rick Neal goes into some detail about the system here.
…for those who are interested in the kinds of story that involve lots of interpersonal drama, who want to model the kinds of TV shows that are getting a lot of press – and a lot of viewers – today, who are interested in the kind of gaming that de-emphasizes combat for interaction, this is a Kickstarter you should get in on. Now.
RPGamer’s Scott Wachteron says:
In the case of Hillfolk the dare was to create a game that emulates both the beat analysis model of story construction used in Hamlet’s Hit Points and the character-oriented drama present in premium cable series. And like his other bizarre dare-based games, it delivers all while creating a story game I want to play more with as many different people as possible.
Brand Robins posted on the game on Google+
I thought it was a very elegant system that did what it did without fear or apology, and was sold on it from the first time we played.
Fantastic review of Kenneth Hite’s newest GUMSHOE masterpiece, Night’s Black Agents, over at Age of Ravens. Lowell Francis has written a detailed and balanced review which goes over everything from layout design to a chapter by chapter overview. Well worth a read for any considering NBA for their collection.
I liked last year’s preliminary version of Night’s Black Agents, and this confirms and extends that. It’s a brilliantly assembled volume with amazing layout and compelling writing. It’s certainly my favorite of the line.
You can read the full review here.
Pookie over at Reviews from R’lyeh has written a detailed and positive review of Adam Gauntlett’s 1760s scenario, Hell Fire. You can read the full review here.
Hell Fire does a good job of bringing Lovecraftian investigation to an interesting period of history, whilst the period itself brings a sense of Hogarthian horror to Lovecraftian investigation.
There is a fantastic review of the newest Ashen Stars adventure, Tartarus, from kafka over at RPG.Net. He has given 4 for Substance and 5 for Style. You can read the full review here.
The secret is to keep players ignorant, as this adventure is a blatant rip of major Hollywood summer blockbuster. Although, as that film will recess in popular amnesia this adventure will become more significant and the full glory of it can be revealed to unsuspecting players.
Futile Position is revewing ENnie award nominated products, and they check out Lorefinder our Pathfinder/GUMSHOE mash-up here.
Lorefinder adds Pelgrane Press’ Gumshoe investigation rules onto Paizo’s Pathfinder system. Over 40 pages long, Lorefinder thoroughly covers Races, Classes, Spells, and Skills in the Lorefinder system, which provides a framework for your players to perform investigations without dice rolls. It’s a light system, and doesn’t add much weight to the underlying Pathfinder system, but – after reading Lorefinder – I find it preferable to the default system.
[Ed: Read Andrew's review of Night's Black Agent's and GUMSHOE here]
Night’s Black Agents pits super spies against vampires in a covert war. My Review of the [REDACTED] edition covers the game in general, while this article contains a worked example of a vampire that I have cooked up using the rules.
This is my first attempt at creating a vampire. In lieu of creativity of my own, I’ve used ideas from the text and cribbed from a number of different sources to create this; these sources are listed after the game stats. I have started with the Alien category as it fit best with my grab bag of ideas.
The vampires came from the stars; the first lay frozen and dormant inside a meteorite that travelled across space for uncountable years. Entry into the Earth’s atmosphere burnt off the outer shell of rock and provided the warmth needed to wake it from its hibernation. Emerging from its impact crater, the tarry, viscous biped hunts. Tracking and killing a human, it gorges on its blood, deftly guts the corpse, to finally climb into the cavity it has created in its new host body. Within a few hours the vicious belly wounds have closed over and it is ready to infect the nearest city with more of its kind.
The vampires metabolisms are similar to cold blooded creatures: When they are cold their body works slower, when they are hot they burn energy much faster and operate well beyond human capabilities. Their theft of human bodies is twofold: It is camouflage in the human world, and it protection from direct exposure to the environment. The hosts brain and any organs visible (e.g. eyes, skin, etc) from outside the body are left intact. The vampire binds itself to the brain to process the environment around it (for language etc) and to draw from its hosts memories.
The vampire must drink human blood to maintain the organs of the body it has stolen and to get energy. Without a ready supply of blood the creature will retreat to colder environments to slow its metabolism. In warmer climates the vampires prefer to take fit, thin bodies to make it easier to regulate their temperature. In colder climates they prefer heavier hosts.
In the event that it is starved of blood the host’s hair and teeth falls out, skin, tongue and eyes dry out. Eventually the blood deprived remains will be start to decay and the vampire must leave.
Because the vampires are effectively cold blooded, and are dormant when cold, the vampires buy up cool stores to house mooks without having to find enough blood to keep them alive at once. More established bases can remotely defrost batches of low level vampires.
Vampires high in the conspyramid travel in freezer cars in trains and boats to move undetected around Europe and later the world.
This vampire is driven by it’s alien biology to infect a planet, and breed the next generation of alien spores that will be sent on to consume other planets.
It builds a network of vampires and henchmen to achieve two goals: produce as many vampire spawn as possible, and to acquire the appropriate technology (produced from first principles where needed) to launch the next generation onto the next iteration of the cycle.
Most of the vampires the agents will encounter in a temperate climate will use the following:
||Aberrance 12, Hand-To-Hand 10, Health 10
||0 (Claws [see other powers], Extended Canines), -1 (Fist, kick, head-butt)
||Tar-like anatomy: -2 against melee weapons; firearms and projectiles do half damage. Car crashes and falls do 1 point of damage. The host body is numb to pain but the organism within is not*. No damage taken from cold environments.
||Extend host fingers into claws (perforates the epidermis, and requires healing via Regeneration or Drain), Infection (Must kill and gut target first. On a 1pt Aberrance spend the vampire can discard its current body and transfer itself to the victim, on a 2pt Aberrance spend it may seperate a portion of itself into a new create that will incubate within the victim), Spider Climb (requires extending claws, same caveat applies), Vampiric Speed, Regeneration (takes a couple of minutes).
||Fire (does normal damage)**.
||Drink blood, maintain body temperature.
* When the vampire falls below 0 Health (e.g is Hurt) it does not need to make a consciousness roll due to not feeling any pain in the host body. However as the damage is debilitating to the host, the standard penalties for being Hurt still apply. When Seriously Wounded no consciousness roll must be made, but health does continue to drop. If -12 is reached, the host body is too badly damaged and the vampire must abandon it.
** When in particularly hot environments (furnaces, burning buildings, etc) the vampire sweats profusely. While these vampires are not explicitly hurt by sunlight, if enough time is spent in the sun its metabolism will increase.
I’ve taken ideas from a number of sources including:
- The BBC’s Frozen Planetseries. There are two aspects:
- Wooly Bear Caterpillers can freeze completely solid over winter to hibernate, and then thaw out to continue the work of eating enough to finally transform into a moth. It takes several summer seasons for the caterpillar to finally transform. This is the central idea for this vampire.
- There is a kind of weasel that lives in the frozen north and hunts tiny voles through the tunnels that the voles construct in the snow. The weasel is narrow enough to fit anywhere the vole can. Once it kills the vole it drags it back to a nest it has made within the warrens. Not only does the weasel eat the vole, but it tears off all the fur from the hide to make a nest with so that it won’t freeze. Stealing the body of its prey and using it to survive in the environment is taken from this.
- H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour out of Space. This is a story about a different kind of vampire from the stars. I’ve just lifted the detail about the alien traveling between the stars in meteors.
- Jack the Ripper: Gory details about how the creature steals bodies and its lifecycle.
- John Carpenter’s The Thing, The episode of The X-Files called Ice (itself a homage to The Thing), and the Valyen from Christopher Moeller’s Iron Empires / Burning Empires: small details about and tone about body invading and mimicking alien menaces.
This article originally appeared on A Lazy Sequence.
Andrew Brehaut at The Lazy Sequence has given a detailed and very positive review of the [REDACTED] Edition of Night’s Black Agents, Kenneth Hite’s new GUMSHOE vampire/spy thriller. You can read the full review here.
Hite and Pelgrane have put together another game that tugs at my attention and screams ‘Play Me Now’… I found the text an enjoyable read; even in what should be dry material, Hite has managed to keep the text fast moving and entertaining.
Pookie over at Reviews from R’lyeh has posted a review of Adam Gauntlett’s (Not So Quiet, Hell Fire) newest Trail offering, Flying Coffins. You can read the full review here.
Overall, Flying Coffins is a very different one-shot, one that captures both the uncaring nature of the Mythos and the uncaring nature of early aerial warfare.
Pookie has reviewed our charity adventure, The Millionaire’s Special, over at Reviews from R’lyeh. You can read the full review here.
A unique setting serves to tighten a well-worn plot and so make RMS Titanic: The Millionaire’s Special a memorable one-shot.
All proceeds from the sale of this adventure will go to the Heroes in the Dark charity.