Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide

From: SHM Publishing
Reviewed by: James Kabbash

Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide is a new RPG Setting Preview Book from SHM Publishing.  The setting is being Kickstarted into a full length setting book – Savage Company campaign setting for Pathfinder and 5e

In reading through The Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide, I found that it offers an original game play opportunity that is seamlessly compatible with the Pathfinder Role Playing System. The integration of the two offers for a very unique experience that many other RPGs will not. Full of excellent support detail and development the background in this world is extremely unique. The obvious work put into this it is evident that the creators really came up with something potentially special.

From  page # 4:  “You are all worthless sacks of meat!”

From the very start, the developers weave the setting into being with a mix between a series of barked orders and an internal dialogue of Sarge, a platoon leader and drill sergeant of the new recruits for Savage Company. The obviously powerful and distinguished Orc controls the situation without questions which makes the reader that much more excited to go deeper and see what the Guide has to offer.

Once you delve into the Guide there is the introduction to the ‘city’ of Tombstone. I use quotes there as it is really a series of structures built in and around the main hub of the Savage Company. Within Tombstone we find everything a militaristic corporation could possibly need to carry out and on their mission. We are introduced to everything from barracks to saloons to a general store to a packed armory and garage. To go along with these locales is a colorful bevy of characters that really flesh out the community. The setting is well thought out and original.

Game system wise the introduction of new races is expertly done. Eight new races are introduced. The developers go deep into the physical and skill attributes of three of these new races. Specifically, the Baade and the ‘Savage’ Hobgoblin and Orc. They are expertly developed in both historical context and game mechanics. I would have liked equal attention presented to the other options besides just those three. The five remaining races are just glossed over which was rather unfortunate. What little is presented about the other five races is very intriguing.

There is also a very interesting offering new archetypes for every Pathfinder class. Some of these new paths are both exciting and would be excellent to roleplay. The trails to be followed to achieve these ‘specialty professions’ offer up the opportunity for some profound immersion into the world. Again, like the races referenced above, they only focus on four of the nineteen choices. When a more expanded version of this system is produced, I hope they will give each the attention to detail that the ones presented received.

The three new Feats introduced are very interesting in so far as they propose some nice steps outside the now well-known Pathfinder ones. Like the two paragraphs above, I would hope they have more like these to offer in a more expansive edition. I particularly liked these three options as they hint towards the possibilities of other original abilities that could hopefully be introduced.

The last thing I would like to visit is the equipment presented. Unlike more established futuristic systems like Shadowrun or Savage Worlds the weapons in this system are not named after current real-world manufacturers. Even though they use just the most basic of nomenclature for most of the weapons the statistics for what they represent is well offered.  There is a hinting of there soon to come vehicle types, customization and playability that is extremely exciting.

From  page # 4:  “Welcome to Savage Company.”

The art in this truncated guide is absolutely outstanding and really lends some boosts to the imagination. I am really looking forward to a larger in version of this work that will even further improve the excellent renderings. Also, throughout the Guide, there are sporadic ‘short -story’ type write ups that really give life to the setting, characters and classes offered. They are truly a good read and should not be glossed over.

The Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide has a lot to offer in the aspects of both originality and content.  A rich setting, including well thought our names and locales, detail a complex society. Intermittent short stories add to the overall development of the author’s vision. The artwork is excellent. It offers several new races as well as both interesting and well thought out archetypes for every Pathfinder class. These new class options offer some intriguing options for rousing character advancement as well as detailed role play. The weapon and vehicle descriptions definitely make the reader excited and can not wait to step into the armory or garage. The only criticism I can offer up is that the writing can be rough at times, but that can be overcome with some more thorough editing. An overall map of Tombstone would help the completeness of the guide. The unique world of the Savage Company will offer up both challenges and opportunities for some memorable table time.

For more details on Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide, it is available for free from DriveThruRPG.  As mentioned, they are also running a Kickstarter for a full setting book for both Pathfinder and D&D 5e.

Diverse Roles: A Clement Sector Career Catalog

From: Gypsy Knights Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Diverse Roles: A Clement Sector Career is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

One of the things I first ask about a sci-fi game is what races and/or “classes” (for lack of a better term) can I play.  Sometimes these are the things that set a game apart from the others.  Most of the time, I am asking more for inspiration than to pick something specific.  Traveller is one of those games, depending on the setting, can be inspiring.  Clement Sector setting, while inspiring in a lot of ways, always left me wanting more.  Diverse Roles  is definitely a step in the right direction.

From page # 4: “Within this book are 19 careers created for use with the Clement Sector roleplaying game”

Traveller in general is notorious for its’ character generation system – the only system you can die in character generation.  Over time, it has evolved into a system that gives you a three dimensional character in a very simply table-based process.  However, as you can see in this quote from the Cepheus Engine SRD PDF, the ruleset that the Clement sector is based on, you can see that the essence of what Traveller was known for is still preserved.

If you did not succeed, you have died. Alternately, events have forced you from this career. Roll on the mishap table and go to step 10 (you do not receive a benefit roll for this term.)

The Clement Sector Core Setting Book book as well as the Player’s Guide provide significant careers for any player.  This book adds nearly 20 more.  The careers use the same system found in the Clement Sector: The Rules and at times, refer back to other careers found in Clement Sector Core Setting Book.

With the focus on character generation and careers, it should be noted that character generation system for Clement Sector is deeply seated in the setting.  Before one gets to the Careers, your character will already have a subsector of origin, system and homeworld of origin, as well as youth and teenage experience and pre-career collegiate (if any) career.  This automatically draw the character into the setting , involving whatever politics, factions and story associated to those things.

Each career starts out with the Enlistment prerequisite, which the character must meet to choose a term in the particular career.  Then a series of tables in the standard format of any Traveller/Cepheus based system.  Some careers on this book have special results such as Ally, Armor, Contact and Rare Item.  These really set the careers apart and making them more interesting. Once one gets past the Enlistment prerequisite roll, you choose an Assignment, roll Survival and then progress through  the advancements.

The tables in each career include Career Progress, Mustering Out Benefits, Skills and Training, Ranks and Benefits, and the dreaded Mishaps.  In classic Traveller,  aging plays a big part in this process.  Because of the trans-human aspect of the Clement Sector, it is handled slightly differently. Technology with the setting have allowed human to age slower – up to 200 years, and some even longer.  So there is a apparent age and a real age table that tells you when you need to start taking in consideration age in rolling a career.  This is not something unique to Diverse Roles, but it’s something worth mentioning as part of the Clement Sector career system.

From page # 4:  “While these careers were created with the Clement Sector setting in mind, they may also be used with any other 2d6 science fiction game such as any using the Cepheus Engine rules created by Samardan Press.”

The careers added here include Adventurer, Arts, Bounty Hunter , Craftsperson, Prostitute, Scavenger, and Thief.  Compared to the Clement Sector Core Setting Book, this has more underground or street level careers.  The events tables take up the bulk of each career and most follow the same format with a lot of interesting options.  From severe injury to various very creative and interesting events, the events table really makes the system and your character three-dimensional for me.  Whole adventure seeds can be gotten out of these tables.

In my little experiment with it, I created a Scavenger.  Assuming I had to stats to qualify (as I did not do a full character) and I survive the Career term, I would have to choose an enlistment – Junker.  I would get my level 0 benefits picking between Personal Development, Service, or Advanced Education.  Then I head down to Events.  I gained a Rival who pushed me out of the Career.  Not the worst thing that could have happened but not great if I have a specific character concept in mind.  I would possibly pursue it again after a term in another but I would have qualify and survive.

Diverse Roles also provides an Engineer career path, something it calls the unsung heroes of any modern civilization.  It details out a unique and concise way to roll up a true engineer in the Clement Sector.  Additionally, it provides guidelines for non-random character generation. For some, the randomness of the classic Traveller system can derail a character concept.  This provides a good way to do it differently.

In conclusion,  I love expansions to give characters more depth and more options. The problems with many past systems, things like this added new and special rules that complicated things (d20 prestige classes, for example.)  This adds a lot for a player as well as the GM without complication.   This is primarily because of the elegant system it’s based on but also because the writer understands the system and what makes it elegant.  He also has a strong passion for his setting and it shows in his products.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG SupplementDiverse Roles: A Clement Sector Career” check them out at their website https://www.gypsyknightsgames.com/.

Codex Rating: 18

Product Summary

Diverse Roles: A Clement Sector Career
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Type of Game: RPG Supplement
Written by: John Watts
Contributing Authors: Michael Johnson, Curtis Rickman
Cover Art by: Stephanie McAlea
Website: https://www.gypsyknightsgames.com/

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Deck of Stories, a GM playing aid by Critical Dice

From: Critical Dice
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Deck Of Stories

From: Critical Dice
Type of Game: RPG Playing Aid
Game Components Included: 50 cards, plus 3 blanks and an instruction card
Retail Price: $14.99

Deck of Stories is a new RPG Playing Aid from Critical Dice.

I got something in the mail yesterday.  Critical Dice is a company that came out to MACE 2018 and to be honest, I totally missed them.  Being the gaming coordinator, I was simply too busy to check out every vendor at the dealers room.  However, Jeff Smith talked big about them and I heard more and more about them afterwards.  A lot of people  talked about their high quality and innovative products and ideas.

The Deck of Stories is their latest idea that we plan to thorough play-test at MACE West 2019.  It is a playing aid to help a GM come up with a plot on the fly, when say the characters go off on a different and unintended direction (which never happens, right?) or the GM needs an idea for a quick one shot.  Since I got them, I have been shuffling and flipping these cards while I sit at my desk at work, imagining what kind of stories I could create with them.  They are quite interesting.

From the website:  “Adventure in 15 Minutes”

As said, there are only 50 cards.  My first thought was that it leaves a lot of opportunity for expansion.  Despite that, there are plenty  of story potential in these fifty cards. There are two parts to each card – the Hook and the Next Steps.  The Hook is the story idea for the card – one or two short sentences to inspire your imagination.  The Next Steps ask questions stemming from this idea and help you formulate and round out the idea.

The general model the card system is based on is called ORC.  O is for Open.  Cards with this letter on them can be used as an opening scene idea.  Hook examples are:  “Take the River is your fastest route. Many Creatures Lurk Along the Riverbanks.” … or … “Everyone in the town begins speaking gibberish.  Communication is impossible.”  R is for Rise.  These are rise in action, the change in the story, or the plot twist that take it to the next level.  Example: “Your team meets another group that seems strangely familiar.” C is for Climatic action.  It represents the hook that will bring things to a close, the boss-fight or the epic ending.   Example: “To save the life of a party member, a deal must be struck with a being from a lower plane.”   With those examples alone, I am already formulating a plot for a simple village encounter.

The players have just come down a river after a big fight, once of horribly injured.  They seek help at this village but suddenly, all in the village speak a foreign tongue of another plane.  They do not understand and can not get help because the people do not understand the party.  What’s happening?  Why?  Who is at the center of this confusion?  Has the enemy from their last fight returned or does he have allies?

Cards can have one, two or all three letters on them.  For cards with multiples, this means it can be used for any of them.  The questions in the Next Steps are great because they really help you formulate the idea in your head.

From the website:  “No railroading, no over preparing”

 At MACE West 2019, we had a big game of 4 tables.  GMs run 1 hour with one group using the cards, and then the GM moves to the next table.  We had everyone running D&D 5e, to keep things simple. Everyone seemed to have a great time.  By all accounts, the games were all a great success.   I think the Deck of Stories was received very well.

 

A few weeks later at my home game, I had to come up with some visions for each of my players.  I whipped out my Deck of Stories and pulled a single card for each vision.  It worked perfectly.  It was awesome and now I have new story elements I can work into the campaign.

In conclusion, these cards are awesome.  They are very inspired and I do hope they expand on them.  Perhaps a more sci-fi or horror oriented version or something like that. They are diverse and just fun to throw down to get the creative juices flowing, at the very least.  If you want to use them as intended, I recommend sitting for about 5 to 10 minutes before your game, and throw down a couple of cards for each letter – O, R, and C and think about the story you want to tell some.  It doesn’t take much, just a little though before actually running the game.  I am glad I got to review them and I highly recommend them.

For more details on Critical Dice and their new RPG Playing Aid Deck of Stories” check them out at their website https://thecriticaldice.com.

Codex Rating: 18

 

White Death, a sci-fi/espionage mystery adventure

From: The Design Mechanism

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

White Death is a new Role Playing Game Adventure from The Design Mechanism.

Up front, I am not familiar with the Mythras system, but I am told it is similar to the Basic Role Playing system which is derived from the classic Call of Cthulhu system, among others.  These systems I am very familiar with.

Earlier last year, Chad handed me a copy of his latest work and asked me to review it.  The way he described it to me intrigued me – elements of Cold War espionage, mystery and sci-fi coupled with an arctic theme was very much up my alley.  I had just finished writing a con adventure similar to this, set in an alternate future timeline – A Man in the High Castle meets The Expanse type setting.  At the very least, I could convert to something I play, if I wanted to run it.

It has nice and intriguing cover art.  It looks small and simple enough that it could be a convention game.  Skimming the introduction drew me even further as it mentioned 1980s and the Cold War – something I have somewhat familiar with in that I grew up in that era.  Diving in, my mind swam with ideas on what I could do with this adventure.

From the website: “A Soviet drift station in the Arctic ocean, seemingly abandoned. The Agency wants to know what the Russians were doing there and why it was so abruptly vacated. It has assembled a team to investigate; to uncover whatever it was the Soviet Union was using the station for.”

The adventure itself is a simple mission to something called a drift station.  A drift station is an transitory Arctic station usually used for geological or meteorological monitoring, that are built on ice flows.  Sometimes these stations were secretly used to monitor (aka spy on) the enemy.  Occasionally, the ice flows these stations are built on break away, and float off into the ocean.  In this case, a particular station suspected of being a secret abandoned Russian base of some kind, has broken off and is drifting away.  However, weather is making approach tricky and the intelligence is unclear as to what might be there.

The players are agents of an Agency.  This could be the CIA, MI6 or any other agency that might see the Russian intelligence and military services as adversaries.  It also says that this adventure can be included in something called the Luther Arkwright campaign, which is a campaign setting published by The Design Mechanism based on the award winning graphic novels by writer/artist Bryan Talbot.

The detail in the adventure is excellent.  It has the feel of an espionage and military adventure from the beginning.  It also has some subtle nuances that make the adventure very intriguing and suspenseful.  The cold isolation of the adventure makes it even more exciting.  The players parachute onto the drift and investigate a very cold and dark mystery.  The more they reveal, the more interesting it gets.

From the website: “But what the agents find might not be what they were expecting. And what’s more, the Russians are coming back…”

Without giving too much away,  the adventure does follow certain tropes but also has some surprises in it.  It does have some homages to John Carpenter’s The Thing and well as Alien.  However, the adventure is far more than just an investigation of the abandoned station.  There are events and encounters throughout that challenge the characters.  The station holds some secrets as does the ice itself.

The adventure provides six full-fleshed out characters in the Mythras system, all with their own skills and short backgrounds.  It also provides some custom rules for Sanity and Tenacity, cluing you that this game will get interesting.

In conclusion,  White Death is primarily a survival horror adventure with considerable mystery and intrigue.  Depending on what characters you use, the adventure can have even more intrigue.  The story of the adventure alone is fun and intense, regardless of system.  It is well written and definitely something I would run. 

For more details on The Design Mechanism and their new Role Playing Game AdventureWhite Death” check them out at their website.

Codex Rating: 19 out of 20

Product Summary

White Death

From: The Design Mechanism

Type of Game: Role Playing Game Adventure

Written by: Chad Bowser

Contributing Authors: Pete Nash, Lawrence Whitaker

Cover Art by: Dan MacKinnon

Additional Art by: Earl Geier

Number of Pages: 32

Game Components Included: Single Adventure, no core rules 

Game Components Not Included: Core Mythras rules

Retail Price: $ 4.99 (US)

Website: Product Website

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (2nd Edition)

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (2nd Edition) is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

Up front, starship building is not my favorite thing to do in a sci-fi game.  It’s one of my least favorite things to do.  A ship is a means to an end, something that gets you from adventure point A to adventure point B.  I like to focus on the characters and the story and not the means of transportation.  There were times where I made the ship basically another character the players had to deal with, but the overall design of the ship really did not matter.

That said, I went into this review with a little trepidation.  Traveller and games of its line tend to be a little too hard science for my tastes, especially when it comes to starships.  I never really saw the reason for this. In my view, when you go into space combat, you are basically turning a story-based RPG to a turn-based miniature game.  Why would you do that?  But apparently some people don’t feel like it is true sci-fi without some kind of ship builders guide and a means to build their own ship.

On the flipside of this, admittedly sci-fi would not be sci-fi without cool spaceships and all the trappings that go along with them.  So I don’t fault people that wants some level of detail in that area in their game.  I can see the appeal of designing a detailed ship that is prepared for anything the GM throws at them, as much as I can see the appeal of building a character that is prepared for anything the GM throws at them.  If I treat it much like another character in the game, I can understand the attraction.

From page #3: Ranging from tiny ten tonne work pods to massive armored system defense monitors, the space ships of Clement Sector are as varied as the crews that operate them.

This is the 2nd Edition of The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture, meaning it is a part of the conversation away from the Mongoose Traveller system and into the Samardan Press Cepheus Engine. The Clement Sector is essentially a Tech Level (TL) 12 small ship setting. The major difference between this setting and base Cepheus Engine/classic Traveller is the Zimm Drive.  This drive is a quantum entanglement device allowing FTL travel.  It limits starships to an absolute maximum of 5000 tonnes.  It is extremely rare to find in-system vessels displacing more than 20,000 tonnes.  However, computer technology has advanced slightly higher and some ships systems allow for TL 13 technology.

At the foundation of spacecraft construction is a hull.  Into the hull are fitted various things like Zimm and maneuver drives, the power plant, the fuel tanks, accommodation for the crew, as well as various electronic systems (computers, sensors and control).  Other components can also be optionally fitted including armaments, defensive systems, and others based on the intended function of the ship.  Building a ship is all about the Displacement Tonnage or Tonnage for short (dT).  The total tonnage of the installed fittings cannot exceed the tonnage of the hull.

From page #3: Both adventure class ship and capital ships can be designed using this publication.

Starting with a Hull, I decided to make a simple freighter like the Firefly or the Millennium Falcon.  Once I had a hull chosen, I moved on to the drive systems.  After the drive systems, the Zimm drive is installed.  With the Zimm drives limitation, to be a useful multi-system freighter I had to keep it simple.  The hard part is really translating the visual to the numbers.  The examples in the back gave you an idea of some 4 crew ships in the range of 100 and 300, so it is simple enough to stay small and still have an interstellar drive.   You can customize the hull between 3 types – standard, streamlined, or distributed – and a few sub-types within those types.  Drive and power systems are next, influenced by concept as well as hull size.

Following the basic hull and structure of the ship as well as the engineering options, there are several steps to follow that including armor, various reinforcement options, and the like.  Once all that is chosen, the Main Compartment is designed.  This include the bridge, computer systems, staterooms, and other internal as well as external components.  Do you include a secondary bridge?  Do you harden the bridge?  What kind of sensors and communication arrays do you need? Basic Civilian, Military or other specialized types?  What I like about this part of it is the variety.  This is where you get a good feel for the guts of your ship.  The barracks, the sleep-pods like in Aliens (called Low Passage Berths), the briefing room, and the galley are all options to throw in your ship.   It really feels like they considered everything.  Equipping your ship with these options in like equipping a character.

Of course, what is a ship without weapons.  Space is big but it is also dangerous and you can always count on some factions within humanity prey on the weaker targets.  So you can go without weapons, but it would be very dangerous.  You have choices for point defense systems, turret/barbette weapons, bay weapons and spinal mounts.  The Falcon had your basic point defense weapons, while I am not even sure if the Firefly had any.  Ships in the Rocinante from The Expanse had torpedos as well as point defense.

Lasers are the most common weapons but there are also missiles, torpedoes and railguns as well.   The Spinal weapons are the biggies – Meson and Particle cannons are the big dogs of the neighborhood.  Shields or Screens – defenses – are also a big part of the section.  Does your ship include smaller craft, hangar bays, or cargo space?  That’s the next step.  Following this, is the crew requirements are determined. This is where the personality of your ship comes in.

In conclusion,  this is a very comprehensive sourcebook for those that like to focus on the details of the party’s starship.  While it traditionally is not something I entirely focus on, I can appreciate the level of detail this book presents.  It makes it fun and detailed.  And it is very easy to follow.  I highly recommend this book for those that are looking to start a ship-oriented campaign.  The art also adds a lot to the feel of the sourcebook.  Of course the ships are cool but I love the internal shots as well. 

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (2nd Edition) check them out at their website http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 19 out of 20

Product Summary

The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (2nd Edition)

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Type of Game: RPG Supplement

Written by:  Michael Johnson

Artists: Ian Stea, Bradley Warnes, Sam Harvey, Fotolia: Crom

Cover Layout and A&F Logo: Stephanie McAlea

Book Layout: Ian Stead

Editor: Curtis Rickman

Number of Pages: 150

Game Components Included: One PDF

Game Components Not Included: Core Rulebooks

Website: http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com/

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Battle of Whistle Reach Junction

From: Fabled Environments

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Battle of Whistle Reach Junction is a new Savage Worlds RPG Adventure from Fabled Environments.

Savage Worlds has its roots in horror and westerns.  Since its beginnings as simply Deadlands, the trappings of a western style game still exist with the cards and some of the terms (Aces, Wilds Cards, etc).   The Battle of Whistle Reach Junction is written to take full advantage of that in a short and concise adventure utilizing An Average Wild West Town Floorplan by Fabled Environments

From page # 1:  The town of Whistle Reach Junction began just like any number of towns in the American west.

Whistle Reach Junction is a town full of classic Western tropes.  With its vicinity to the railway expansion, it became a stagecoach stop and grew quickly into a flourishing town.  Unfortunately, it was built on native sacred ground and this leads into a whole series of horrific events that scare the town’s history.  Native Americans terrorizing and torturing settlers, US Cavalry committing massacres and finally a desperado who takes over as sheriff and rules the town ruthlessly all sum up to a harrowing background to Whistle Reach Junction.

Throughout the text, the writer implies often that there is supernaturally wrong about the land around Whistle Reach Junction and without going into too many spoilers,  you can rest assured there is.  After the town’s people vanish and dark forces seem to take over, the town lies dormant and abandoned for over a century until we reach modern day where the real adventure begins.

From page # 4: Currently, Whistle Reach Junction is ground zero in a battle to determine the future of the surrounding area.

Players are gathered by the spirits of a previous posse that attempted to fight the evil centuries ago.  Trapped on this world, presumably because they never completed their task in the past, these ghostly figures visit each player in some manner or another to bring them to the Whistle Reach Junction.  They wake up in the middle of the town, fully geared up.  What they find out later is that dire circumstances have arisen that if not stopped, will feed the evil enough to effect far beyond this little town.

Like a the Battle of Five Armies in The Hobbit, multiple factions have gathered around the town to do modern “battle” over of the fate of the town and the land surrounding it.  These include a land development company, a couple of protest groups and a paranormal investigation group.  All are poised to fall victim to the evil of the town unless the players can stop it.

Once in, the players “pass through the veil of worlds” and begin a horrific and challenging adventure.  The adventure then turns into a supernatural battle between the players and various creatures guarding key items that will help them in the central goal.  There are undead, ghouls, and various other horrors. The players have to battle through all of it and gather several key items to defeat a final boss creature.  If they don’t, the “five armies” gathered in the normal world will be consumed in a blood bath.

At first, this adventure seems a little cliched, but as I read through it, it engaged me more and more.  It’s a perfect one shot for players to not only experience Savage Worlds combat system but also good story and roleplay opportunities.  I can see myself running this at a convention or as a home one shot. The best thing is that it provides five pre-generated characters.  Also included are all the full stats of the numerous baddies the players will face in the adventure.  It is completely ready to run!

In conclusion, I highly recommend this as a one shot adventure or a jumping off point for a campaign.  It’s has a lot of potential for a modern horror campaign of ghost hunters or paranormal investigators.  But it is tailor-made, however, for a convention game and if you are looking for a simple but meaty Western themed adventure with a fun story, this is a good one.  Note: the GM should read the pre-generated characters, as they explain how each one is contacted.  Some are strongly connected to the history of the town’s history.

For more details on Fabled Environments and their RPG adventure The Battle of Whistle Reach Junction ” check them out at their website Fabled Environments, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 18

Product Summary

The Battle of Whistle Reach Junction 

From: Fabled Environments

Type of Game: RPG adventure

Written by Darren G. Miller

Editing by Charles A. White

Cartography and Layout by Krista L. White

Illustrations by Curtis Dresser

Photographs courtesy of Freeimages.com

Number of Pages: 27

Website: Fabled Environments

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Olympus, Inc. (Savage Worlds)

From: Fabled Environments 

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Olympus, Inc. is a new RPG Core Setting book from Fabled Environments .

Urban fantasy and horror is a very popular type of setting these days, and with shows like American Gods or books like the Percy Jackson series, the subject of classic mythical gods is in the forefront.  Out with the classic urban horror of vampires, elves and werewolves, in with the forgotten gods and their kin. Fabled Environments has recently published (through Kickstarter) a new Savage Worlds setting book called Olympus, Inc. that is a new entry into the subgenre of “gods on Earth.”

From page #4: So…been through a lot have you? Motor vehicle accident, total humiliation, family murdered? No? Ah…a bunch of guys tried to kill you. I figured it was something like that or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Olympus, Inc.  is a game of godly power on Earth and the players play awakened demi-gods.  Deeply rooted in Greek mythology, the background is a twisted web of gods, titans, cyclops and giants mixed with jealousy, betrayal and heroism.  The Olympians were born, ruled and continue to do so in the modern age.  Constant conflict and intrigue between the Olympians, the imprisoned Titans, their advocate Gaia and mortals create the world as we know it today.  Finally, through one single effort by Gaia and her allies, the Titans were freed from Tartarus.  They brought about the downfall of the Olympians and their eventual banishment to mortal Earth.

Forgotten by mortals and struggling to survive, the Olympians found ways to preserve the immortality. Historical events throughout history are revealed to be covert actions within the war between Olympians and Titans, including both World Wars.  It was at that point, it was decided by the Olympians to unite under one banner – Olympu, Inc.

Under Olympus Inc. and its very important subsidiary Delphi Group (and later Delphi Corporation), the gods vye for power against the Titans.  Delphi, on the behalf of Olympus, fights the forces of the Titans and their allies.  Operating like a multi-national intelligence operations, it’s agents all over the world seek out natural and supernatural signs of their enemies and attempt to stop them.  They also seek out magical and technological items that will help them in their fight. Recruiting the help of demigods and demihumans, Delphi’s mission is the eventual return of the Olympians to their once position of power.

Olympus Inc. today operates the Delphi Corporation covertly, while spreading out into multiple corporations run by various Olympians.  Each subsidiary operates according to the Olympians interests.  For example, Apollo runs The Auroral Group, a conglomerate of energy, medical and music corporations.  Ares runs a military contractor.  Aphrodite runs a beauty and fashion conglomerate.  These are just a few.  All are supposed to be working to the central goals of Olympus Inc., but of course, not all Olympians get along all the time.

Opposing them is Titan Corp and their terrorist like covert organization called the National Liberation Front.  Titan Corp has several allies in their efforts against the Olympians as well, including Peace Initiative, Moneta, and Tethyon.  A complex web of intrigue, corporate espionage,  and supernatural power struggles between all these entities create the world of Olympus Inc.

From page #4: I’m Caleb. Some folks might call me an angel. No, not the kind with the wings and the glow; that’s just what they call us folks who help new demigods make the transition.

Conceptually, characters fall into one of four groups – corporate employees of Olympus Inc., agents of Delphi, members of FT or Freelance Teams used by Olympus Inc, or “Ghosts” – supernatural beings with no true allegiance, just a need for profit or something other vice.  It is stressed to each player character that the the veil of reality for mundane humans or Sleepers must be maintained, and this is enforced the the goddess Nemesis. She is in charge of keeping the Sleepers asleep and ignorant of the divine world and its powers.

Characters are created using standard Savage Worlds rules except that they must choose a Race as well.  These races include two types of Demigods (Paragon and Protean) or Demihumans (Minospawns, descended from minotaurs and Satyrs, descended from Pan).  My first thought is that there’s so much more potential in a world like this that more races are inevitable in future supplements.

Paragon Demigods have Bloodline trait that spawns a setting specific Arcane Background as well as some other Edges and Hindrances. Protean demigods are a little less pure than Paragons and have their own Bloodline.  Demihumans on the other hand do not get access to these powers but have access to some of their own powers.  They are also shapeshifters to blend into the modern age and have other extraordinary abilities in relation to their race.

The new Arcane Backgrounds (replacing the core Arcane Backgrounds) allow access to several powers that are related to the type of Bloodline that was chosen.  For instance, you can choose the Apollo bloodline and the powers the character gains access to are related to light and healing.  Or the Zeus bloodline, which gives your character access to flying as well as weather related powers.  In total, there are 6 Bloodlines listed – Apollo, Zeus, Dionysus, Ares, Hermes, and Aphrodite.  That leaves six or seven more to introduced in future supplements.  Some powers reference back to the Savage Worlds Super Power Companion sourcebook and all are treated like the Super Powers in that supplement.

The setting add a number if Hindrances and Edges, more than I have seen in other setting books.  Hindrances include things like Impulsive, Quarrelsome, and Tragic Doom.  Edges include a number of general Background Edges as well as a few Combat, Power, Professional, Racial, and Weird. There are also a number of prohibited Hindrances and Edges from the Core book.  Additionally, the skill list is slightly modified from the core – Lockpicking is dropped and replaced by Intrusion.  I prefer more generic skills names.  There is also a Hacking skill.

The setting rules include (for those familiar with Savage Worlds setting rules) I’ve Got Plenty and Worldly.  The former references ammo and the fact that a player does not have to keep track of it.  The latter gives each player access to the Logos language – the language of the gods.  Logos is not a spoken language but is now used as a set of tags placed on buildings.  Humans see them as useless graffiti but to the divine eye of a demigod, it can denote friendly or not so friendly locations.

Gear includes several weapons, which are more than the generic versions found in the core rulebook.  In a world of divine corporate espionage, it makes a difference if you are holding a Starbrite Firearms PM -33 or  a Red Anvil VRS-22.   There is also a wide variety of imaginative gear for use in the kind of work the corporate demi-being agent may be involved with.

Alchemy is used in this setting a little different than one would imagine.  I tis not treated as magic and is more like a strange (but not weird) science.  With these skills, once can create various items and potions that give bonuses or edges.  Slosi denotes items imbued with divine Olympian power before their fall.  Some items are well known, like the Shield of Achilles while others are still hunted.  The text lists several Slosi as well.

The book ends with two final sections, the largest of which is the list of adversaries and allies called Cast of Characters.  A good variety of characters, villains, and a few creatures are provided.  It ends with a section called Adventure Oracle.  Common to many Savage Worlds setting books, this section helps a GM generate a plot for a short adventure if he finds himself short of ideas.  Unlike some other Savage Worlds setting books, a plot point campaign is not included.

In conclusion,  Olympus Inc. is an amazingly imaginative and engaging setting.  I love the new twists on powers and races.  It is a great mix of urban fantasy and corporate espionage.  It sort of reminds me of a cross between Delta Green and Shadowrun, with a strong Greek mythology influence.  I would highly recommend this setting to anyone into the urban fantasy type setting.  It has a lot of potential for adventure as well as growth.  What about other mythologies?  Why just the Olympians?  The potential is endless.

For more details on Fabled Environments  and their new RPG Core Setting book “Olympus, Inc” check them out at their website http://www.fabledenvironments.com/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 18

Product Summary

Olympus, Inc.

From: Fabled Environments

Type of Game: RPG Core Setting book

Written by Gilbert Gallo and Charles White

Editing and Development by Aaron T. Huss

Additional Editing by Darren Miller

Additional Assistance by Krista White

Layout By Rick Hershey

Art by Michele Barone, Simon Bray, Rick Hershey, Karl Kessler, Marina Mundo, Mirco Paganessi, Niko Perrini, Simon Powel, Adam Schmidt, Je Shields and Krista White

Additional art courtesy of Vecteezy (Vecteezy.com)

Game Components Included: Full color core setting PDF

Game Components Not Included: Savage Worlds Core rulebook, Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion.

Number of Pages: 128

Website: http://www.fabledenvironments.com/

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Ships of Clement Sector 12: Broken Hill-class Prospector

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Ships of Clement Sector 12: Broken Hill-class Prospector is a RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

NOTE:  This is the Traveller edition of the PDF.  Since receiving this, Gypsy Knights has disassociated from the Traveller game system and developed their own called The Clement Sector, the Rules, using an alternate version of the Cepheus Engine Universe.  If they haven’t yet already, they will be converting this supplement to the game system.

The Broken Hill class ship is a medium sized exploratory ship. This ship reminds me of a stripped down version of the Boyne-class replenishment ship (previously reviewed).  The Broken Hill design was born out a recognized need for more than the tradition of merchant ships converted ad-hoc for mining purposes.  It was built to transport raw ore transferred by two cutters and never was designed to land on the surface itself.  It can receive ore from up to four cutters but can carry only two.

From page 3: “There was a deafening din. Echoing through the hull the moment he stepped off the transfer launch, he knew he was on a hardworking ship. There was no mistaking the rumbling of equipment, nor the overwhelming stench of stale sweat, harsh body odor or bitter chemicals from overworked air scrubbers. There was only so much you could do to hide from the smell on a ship like this, but he knew that after an hour he wouldn’t notice anything different from the hundreds of other ships he’d been aboard in his life.”

Out of the dock, the ship is moderately armed with eight points for turrets.  However these are a strong point of customization and older ships armaments may vary.  It also traditionally is equipped with a cutting laser which is not very effective as a weapon.  It is also equipped with an externally docked transfer launch or shuttle.  As the name implies, the Broken Hill prospects for ore in either asteroid belts or other convenient locations where the cutters do most of the work and the main ship positions itself conveniently, prepared to receive ore as its minions find it.

A variation of the Broken Hill class prospector is called the Venture-class troop transport.  As the name implies,  it is marketed as an affordable transport vessel for small system defense forces and private security contractors. Refitted with different weapons and troop transport pods for cargo bays, the Venture class ships utilize the cutters as troop drop ships.

From page 7: “See that point of light, brighter than the rest? That is home for us out here amongst the rocks spinning through the black. Sure we have the cutters, but over there on the Courtland is more room to move, more people to talk to and better meals than old  Crace ever cooked on this tub of a cutter.” Elias Thomas, belter on mining cutter 2 “Annie Joy” Sequoyah Mining Co. Sequoyah c2338 CE

The MRV Paddy Hannan – a Broken Hill class prospector  – is owned and operated by Westralian Metals Company Pty Ltd out of New Perth.  It  is commanded by Senior Ship Captain Moulina Laydaiand travels searching for the new mining potential in the AXO206 system.  Full background are given for two members of that crew as well as encounter tables for both the Broken Hill class as well as the Venture class.

In conclusion, the Broken Hill (as well as it variant) have a lot of potential for adventure.  The players could be a crew of one of the cutters and discover strange new things on the edges of Clement Sector (or whatever areas of space your sci-fi game explores.  This ship is very diverse, allowing for exploratory uses as well as military uses.  

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their RPG Supplement Ships of Clement Sector 12: Broken Hill-class Prospector” check them out at their website Gypsy Knights Games, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 17

Product Summary

Ships of Clement Sector 12: Broken Hill-class Prospector

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Type of Game: RPG Supplement 

Author: Michael Johnson

Additional Material: Bradley Warnes

Artists: Ian Stead, Bradley Warnes, Michael Johnson

Cover Layout: Stephanie McAlea

Editor: Curtis Rickman

Website: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Ships of Clement Sector 14: Boyne class Replenishment Ship

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Ships of Clement Sector 14: Boyne-class Replenishment Ship is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

NOTE:  This is the Traveller edition of the PDF.  Since receiving this, Gypsy Knights has disassociated from the Traveller game system and developed their own called The Clement Sector, the Rules, using an alternate version of the Cepheus Engine Universe.  If they haven’t yet already, they will be converting this supplement to the game system.

The Boyne class starship is a mid-size replenishment ship for military use.  A cross between a freighter and light gun boat, this ship is very versatile.  Although surpassed in size by newer and larger models, it still can service a small squadron or a single patrol vessel.  In particular, the Hub Federation utilizes them for their  attack boat and strike squadrons formed around the Vulkan class attack boat tenders and Shadowstrike class strike carriers.

From page 3: “There we were, dropping gees like we had energy to burn and they still came after us. In our  wake we left a trail full of ‘sand’ and missiles, trying to keep them at bay. I’ll let you in on a secret… flying one of these big mothers is like doing atmospheric maneuvers with a brick, but then again, it was the same for them. To make it worse, we’d only just arrived in the system and couldn’t jump again for another eight hours… so we had to run.”

The Boyne class ships in the Clement Sector are a holdover from before the Collapse, and over the years, the many that remain have been  modified customized.  Now, Anderson and Felix Shipyards are the only company that constructs new Boyne class ships as well as services and refits them.  They have 3 decks – Command, Hangar/Boat, and Lower.  They have space for one small shuttle-like transfer launch as well as two cutters that are docked internally.

 

The ship has a crew of just under 50, which makes for a large ship in an RPG situation. But in general, the players can easily be members of a crew on board.  Or this can be used as transit from one military location to another.  Cross pirate infested regions aboard a ship loaded with volatile fuel and munitions sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

From page # 6: “I think we have an important role, someone has to keep providing stuff to throw at the bad guys.” Leutnant Hannah Schmidt, Senior
supply officer, HFS James Joyce, Wellington c2339 CE

The PDF includes all you need to know about the Boyne class including deck plans for it, the transfer shuttle, and the two cutters.  Both sets of deck plans for each ship are top notch, as usual for Gypsy Knights as is the computer-generated art. It’s an extensive and heavily armed ship with lots of potential for fun and adventure.  What one GM could do is assign multiple levels of a crew as players to create a massive campaign (similar to the famed Darkstryder campaign for Star Wars d6).  Each player could play command level characters, crew members as well as away-team members.  This could make for a very complex but very fun campaign.  The PDF provides background to the executive officer, Elliot Lee Smith of the CSDFS Wilson Fields as a possible starting point, as well as adventure seed ideas for a ship based campaign.

The Boyne class is also used on the civilian side and is called the Aranui-class merchant vessel.  The PDF also includes example Aranui-class ship and command crew.  The Eveline is a merchant ship for the Yellow Rose Freight Transport Company and travels along routes to worlds in the Hub and Sequoyah sub-sector. Commanded by Roxanna Trace, the Eveline’s crew is all female and has a reputation for efficiency and reliability.  The PDF provides stats and background to four of the crew as well as adventure seeds for civilian adventures on a Aranui-class merchant ship.

In conclusion, although a little larger than I would prefer in an RPG campaign, I can see many uses for this ship in a game.  It’s a great looking ship and I love the cutters and the shuttle.  Supplying various fleets on patrol while travelling through various regions of space doesn’t sound adventurous on the surface but when you delve into the politics and dangers of Clement, you can see where the adventure can be found.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG SupplementShips of Clement Sector 14: Boyne class Replenishment Ship” check them out at their website Gypsy Knights Games, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 15

Product Summary

Ships of Clement Sector 14: Boyne class Replenishment Ship

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Type of Game: RPG Supplement

Author: Michael Johnson

Additional Material: Bradley Warnes

Artists: Ian Stead, Bradley Warnes, Michael Johnson

Cover Layout: Stephanie McAlea

Editor: Curtis Rickman

Website: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Quick Worlds 27: Shingal

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Quick Worlds 27: Shingal is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

NOTE:  This is the Mongoose Traveller edition of the PDF.  Since receiving this, Gypsy Knights has disassociated from the Mongoose Traveller game system and developed their own called The Clement Sector, the Rules, using an alternate version of the Cepheus Engine Universe.  If they haven’t yet already, they will be converting this supplement to the game system.

Sometimes a planet needs a spotlight.  Perhaps it deserves more than a simple summary.  This is what a Quick World supplement is for  and this one is about a planet call Shingal in the Solon subsector, neighboring the Winston subsector.

From page # 5: Shingal is located in the second orbit of its star, Atalan, a G4 V, yellow main sequence star.

Shingal is part of a simple five planet system – one gas giant and 4 rocky worlds including Shingal.  It has one moon – Kec- which has no atmosphere and uninhabitable without contained environments.   Shingal however, it an Earth-like world with cold polar zones and warm temperate zones.  It has one settlement called Bendergeh, with a population of nearly 36,000.  Settled by followers of the Yazidi religion, the culture and belief system is still heavily influenced by it.  Based on a real world culture, this takes the Yazidi people into a future of uncertainty and adventure.

The colony is ruled by two positions, traditionally held by men.  The Emir is a hereditary king-like position that rules over the state, military and all matters of governmental functions.  Meanwhile the religious leader is the Baba Sheik.  He oversees all issues relating to religious adherence including morality based laws, keeping of certain practices, and the overall leadership of the Yazidi religion.  If there is any dispute between the two men, the Baba Sheik wins over.  The police force answer to both leaders, enforcing both civil and religious laws.

From page # 9: The Yazidi are an insular people. They have always been a culture separated from their surrounding neighbors.

The people of Shingal descended from the Yazidi people who left Earth after generations of oppression and persecution. Emir Hazim lead them from Earth to Shingal.  Culturally, they are not welcoming to outsiders and are extremely xenophobic.  All men in their society above the age of 15 years are armed to protect their society.  Women are not restricted from doing so and many do as well.

Their religion – a slightly modified mythos based on Judeo-Christian beliefs – positions the Yazidi people as specifically descended from Adam, while everyone else were descended from the union of Adam and Eve.  This tends to isolate them as they believe no one can convert to their religion (as they do not have the proper lineage).   Purification through reincarnation is at the center of their afterlife mythos, with those that do evil reincarnating to animals and those that do good return as humans.

Khude – the Yazidi deity – is the creator of all.  However, he has no real interest in the affairs of humanity, so they do not worship him.  Instead,  they worship a proxy-deity created by Khude – Malek-Tauz, also known as Shaytan.  Unfortunately, because of the similarities between the mythology of Shaytan and the Judeo-Christian Satan, many believed they were “devil worshipers.”  Meanwhile, the people of Shingal believe that they have actually found the home of Malek-Tauz and it is their holy ground or promised land.

The PDF ends with some interesting Referee notes that gives the Referee a little insight into the intrigue and politics of the people of Shingal.  I won’t give away any spoilers but there is some very interesting adventure potential on this planet.

In conclusion,  this supplement mixes some fiction with real world fact to create a interesting world and culture.  It takes one of the oldest cultures on our planet and places it in the far reaches of space, speculating on some of the effects of such a journey would have on it.  While at first, many would not see a lot of adventure on a world full of xenophobic isolationist religious fanatics, as you delve deep into the PDF, the potential leaps out at you.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG Supplement “Quick Worlds 27: Shingal” check them out at their website http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 16

Product Summary

Quick Worlds 27: Shingal

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Type of Game: RPG Supplement

Author: John Watts

Artists: Bradley Warnes (Cover), Ian Stead (p.2)

Editor: Curtis Rickman

Cover Layout: Stephanie McAlea

Number of Pages: 13

 

Website: www.gypsyknightsgames.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung