Tunse’al Quick Starts & Side Tracks

Tunse’al Quick Starts & Side Tracks (Free RPG Day)
From: Obatron Productions
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Tunse’al Quick Starts & Side Tracks (Free RPG Day) is a new Free RPG Day Quick Start from Obatron Productions.

Tunse’al Quick Starts & Side Tracks is one of the lower quality items from the 2013 Free RPG day, but it takes advantage of one of the more popular and fun generic systems on the market.  It is apparently a Kickstarter setting. By now, they have released a few PDF products on RPGNow or DriveThruRPG.

From their web site:
“[Tunse’al] is a tribal fantasy setting requiring the use of either the Savage Worlds rule book for Savage Worlds play or a rule book from whatever other favorite system you have, in which case you’ll want products denoted as Systemless.”

The first attraction I would have to this product is the fact that is Savage Worlds.  But that only goes so far.  The art and the quality of the product did not pull me in right away.  So you really have to dive into the product to find the value.  It provides a summary of the setting, pointing to the Setting Guide for details.  The gimmick of the setting is the five segregated tribes on a large continent.  These tribes are very different from one another, evolving in different regions with different conditions.  These include the the Korrin of the Footlands (hedonistic, red-skinned, ram-horned freedom lovers), Kresh of the Wetlands (amphibious nature lovers), the Gelids of the mountains (scholars and peacemakers), and the Gales of the Drylands (warring nomads).  There is a common enemy tribe as well called the Skin Eaters and a mysterious group of beings that walk “between the worlds” known as the fae folk.  There is a stunning black and white illustration in the back displaying all 5 races and I have to admit they look very cool.  They are very alien and not like anything I have seen in other games.

From the back cover:
“Money does not exist”

The world itself is significantly different from the typical fantasy worlds (which are usually modeled after Earth in most aspects).  First and foremost, the mountain range that divides the main continent is in the shape of a huge man, as if he had fallen from the sky.  From an astrological point of view, the world has seven seasons, two suns and multiple moons.  The world’s ecosystem is rather harsh.  It is populated by numerous “saurs” (dinosaur-like creatures) as well as giant bugs and other creatures.  Flora is also dangerous.

Socially, because of the disparate and varied cultures, the social structure and politics are a little different from the typical fantasy settings.  The tribal nature of the setting creates a more primitive and chaotic setting.  Couple that with the cultural taboo against mining into the mountain and the setting becomes even more primitive.  There are also many other cultural quirks as well.  There is no common monetary system, for instance.

Magic works differently than typical fantasy settings.  It requires the knowledge of a specific language – the only language that gets the gods’ attention.  Anyone can learn to use magic but because learning the language takes such an effort, only a few learn magic.  The cultural and physiological differences in each race also create variances in magic using as well.

The Free RPG booklet contains something called Quickstarts – six short scenarios that help a GM get something started.  The six supplied average 10 to 12 paragraphs, some more, and are fairly imaginative.  They include an adventure for Novices “coming of age,” tribal diplomatic missions, mystically strange occurrence investigations.  However, they leave a lot for the GM to come up with.  These are great for GMs that can wing it fairly well.  The nice thing about it is the Savage Worlds system lends itself well to improvisation.  You just have to make sure you are real familiar with the core system, however.

The booklet also includes something called Side Tracks.  These are ten fill-in side adventures or encounters in case the GM needs a little something more.  Again, these vary in type and are fairly imaginative.  It supplies stats where needed and really gives the GM some good ideas for simple distractions.

In conclusion, my impression of the setting and the booklet are varied.  Although I am intrigued by the setting, based on what I read on the booklet, I am not sure the dynamic of the setting would draw me into play or run.  The tribal social structure just does not excite me as much as feudal lords and nobility.  Tribal politics are a little simplistic in my view and do not present opportunities of a lot of role play or story making.  On top of that, the technology limitations make it less attractive to me.  I like the dinosaur and giant monster setting, reminding me of the island of King Kong.  Also, the booklet does not really help you with envisioning the character parties.  If it is tribal and each race is separated, the logic would dictate that the party would be all the same race, right?  That’s not very exciting to me.

However, as a product the booklet almost gets the true spirit of Free RPG Day and falls just short by not supplying pre-generated characters.  It implies that there are some available online but I would prefer to have them on hand right there.  I do like the Quickstart adventures and the Side Tracks. If you are into the setting, this is a great product.  It is also useful for ideas in other settings, with a few tweaks.

For more details on Obatron Productions and their new Free RPG Day Quick Start Tunse’al Quick Starts & Side Tracks (Free RPG Day)” check them out at their website http://www.obatron.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 11

Product Summary

Tunse’al Quick Starts & Side Tracks (Free RPG Day)
From: Obatron Productions
Type of Game: Free RPG Day Quick Start
Written by: Robert L. and Vickey A. Beaver
Cover Art by: Joe Shawcross
Additional Art by: Alessadro Alia, Svenja Liv, Lucas Pandolfelli, Joshua Pinkas
Number of Pages: 20
Game Components Included: One short quick start pamphlet
Game Components Not Included: Savage Worlds core rulebooks
Website: www.obatron.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Dungeon Crawl Classics & XCrawl (Free RPG Day)

Free RPG Day: Dungeon Crawl Classics & XCrawl
From: Goodman Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Free RPG Day: Dungeon Crawl Classics & XCrawl is a new Free RPG Day Adventure Booklet from Goodman Games.

One of the more surprising things about this year’s Free RPG Day was the amount of free full size books it contained.  One of those books was the complete Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG core rulebook, which is no small book.  That book is reviewed separately on this web site.  I only mention that because this booklet – Free RPG Day: Dungeon Crawl Classics & XCrawl – contains no rules and in fact contains adventures for two separate settings.

From the back cover:
“You’re no hero.  You’re an adventurer: a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen slayer, a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets.”

Dungeon Crawl Classic: The Imperishable Sorceress

Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) is one of the many old schools games that have recently come out.  In the aftermath of d20 SRD age, many people wanted more (or less) out of their game and many branched off what the d20 system built and retrofitted many of the classic aspects of older versions of the most popular fantasy RPG into new systems.  Aside from the use of the wonkie “Zocchi Dice,” the game system is a fairly solid system reminiscent of classic D&D.

DCC has a very streamlined and simplified character generation system and many I know that have played it say it is a quick system.  This might explains why the DCC adventure The Imperishable Sorceress does not have characters.  The Imperishable Sorceress requires a little more work up front, with the lack of characters.  That is my first primary issue with it.  Obviously, the publisher’s goal is to illustrate how easy it is to create characters and I supposed this is one way to do it.  However, for a Free RPG Day product, I still would expect a few pre-generated characters.

Aside from the lack of characters, the adventure is a very interesting and in-depth dungeon crawl.  It involves an ancient race called the Builders, the ghost of an ambitious sorceress, Ivrian, and several other denizens hidden in mountain ruins of an ancient Builder stronghold.  This stronghold was once under the ocean where the Builders explored the secrets of eternal youth and immortality.  These secrets were lost with time until Ivrian sought them out.  Things did not go well for her in the end, and now her spirit haunts the halls of this mountain bastion, calling out to anyone who can help her.  In these halls, a party will face demons, resurrected Builders, the spirits of ancient predator fish, and a few other very interesting challenges along the way.

This adventure is fairly original and has a lot of potential for creating a whole campaign around it.  These Builders could have other locations holding secrets, some perhaps underwater.  Ivrian can become a longtime ally or more likely enemy for a larger story arch.  Why was she exploring the Builder secrets of immortality, other than for obvious reasons?  How did she learn of the secrets and who did she upset to get them?

As a Free RPG Day product, it has potential if the GM is willing to put the work into it.  The GM needs to be familiar with the game system.  It’s nice that they supplied a core rule book for anyone willing to run it.  But I think it still would take someone familiar with the game to run it.

From the back cover:
“Ancient Rome meets smash TV meets ganger rap? WTF?”

Maximum Xcrawl : 2013 Studio City Crawl

During the big d20 craze, an interesting game came out called XCrawl.  In my time of coordinating gaming for conventions, I think I have seen that game on the schedule once.  I don’t mean to downplay it, because it’s actually a pretty cool game but I am just making the point that the original version was never really popular within my circles.

Now we see a resurrection of all things d20 now under the umbrella of Pathfinder (PF) compatibility.  PF has really taken over the industry and for very good reasons.  It’s no wonder games like XCrawl want to try again at the market.  If you don’t know anything about XCrawl, it is set in an alternative fantasy version of modern day.  The Empire of North America is quelled with the mind-numbing entertainment displayed on the magically powered TV.  One of the more popular events on TV is Xcrawl.  If D&D dungeon crawling could be crossed with NASCAR and Reality TV, this would be the result.

Once again, the adventure does not have pre-generated characters.  In this case, I suppose they are relying on the fact that fans of Pathfinder will have characters to play.  Technically any character will work as long as it is compatible with Pathfinder, but the pending Xcrawl rulebook will add new classes and systems to enhance your experience.

Players’ characters participate in an “artificially” created dungeon complete with monsters, challenges, secret rooms and artifacts, all in a glorified competition.  This adventure has all the above for the characters to experience.  Reading through it is reminiscent of the classic Schwarzenegger movie The Running Man, except with magic.  The characters are brought into the Green Room where they are briefed on the Studio City Crawl.  They are told the general rules of the game and how they win.   There is even a twist involving sexy dungeon dance girls.   In the Crawl, they face traps, puzzles, locks, as well as creatures and other challenges.  There are creatures like the Doom Tuskers, Whammy Gorillas, Dungeon Wights, Terror Birds and Twilight Squids, ranging from CR 4 to CR 9.  Throughout the challenge, the group needs to be collecting statues to get the final prize.

This adventure will also take some preparation and work to run at a Free RPG Day event.  In fact, unless the GM knows about it ahead of time, I doubt anyone would be prepared to run it.  It is definitely something people would take home and try out later.  I would much prefer something more along the spirit of what I feel Free RPG Day is, however – ready to run and play right there and then.

In conclusion, I think instead of cutting corners and putting two adventures into one, perhaps the publishers should have done two separate booklets and included characters in each.  At least that is what I would have done.  Overall, these are great adventures and I would not mind playing them.  However, if these are not ready to play at Free RPG Day, I think people would move on to something else.

For more details on Goodman Games and their new Free RPG Day Adventure BookletFree RPG Day: Dungeon Crawl Classics & XCrawl” check them out at their website http://www.goodman-games.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 12

Product Summary

Free RPG Day: Dungeon Crawl Classics & XCrawl
From: Goodman Games
Type of Game: Free RPG Day Adventure Booklet

Written by: Daniel J. Bishop
Contributing Authors: Rev. Dak J. Ultimak
Cover Art by: Doug Kovacs
Additional Art by: Doug Kovacs
Number of Pages: 5
Game Components Included: One Free RPG Day adventure
Game Components Not Included: Core DCC rule book

Written by: Brendan LaSalle
Contributing Authors: Byron and Marie LaSalle, Jeff Erwin
Cover Art by: Jeremy Mohler
Additional Art by: Brad McDevitt
Number of Pages: 7
Game Components Included: One Free RPG Day adventure
Game Components Not Included: Core XCrawl rule book

Retail Price: Free on Free RPG Day.  $4.99 (US) as PDF
Website: www.goodman-games.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire “Shadows of a Black Sun”

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – Shadows of a Black Sun
From
: Fantasy Flight Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – Shadows of a Black Sun is a new Free RPG Day Adventure from Fantasy Flight Games.

Within the Star Wars community, few things, short of the Disney purchase of Lucas Films and the impending release of Star Wars VII, have had more buzz than the release of the new RPG by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG).  Back in 2011 when FFG obtained the license after Wizards of the Coast dropped it, I was skeptical.  I personally went through a long phase of my life with various versions of the Star Wars role playing game – from d6 to d20 – over several campaigns.  However, thanks to the prequels, my Star Wars fandom was severely diminished and I stopped running Star Wars games all together, selling everything I had.

Now my young son is getting into Star Wars rather intensely and I am not hindering it.  Slowly but surely, I am reliving Star Wars fandom through my boy.  But I never thought I would ever consider running the RPG ever again.  My question when I first heard about the new RPG was – can they pull me back in?

As I heard their design decisions as well as setting decisions, I was torn.  They were going to market it much like the way they had with Warhammer 40K RPG, starting with the “rogue trader” book, Edge of the Empire, focusing on the fringe and criminal elements of the Star Wars universe.  That did not thrill me because that just meant more books to buy.  Couple that with the rumors of custom dice used in the system, and my expectations were getting lower.  However, the focus was on the Rebellion era, which gave me, I dare say, a new hope.

The Shadows of a Black Sun Free RPG Day adventure has created a lot of buzz.  For a time, the hard copy of the adventure was selling for between $25 and $30 on Ebay.  Since FFG has now released it on PDF, the buzz has died down a little.

This is my first foray into the new Star Wars, so I will be reviewing not only on the Free RPG Day product but also the system itself.

What strikes you first is the stunning layout, art and quality of the product.  You just cannot believe it is free.  However, you should not expect anything less from FFG, especially in relation to the Star Wars universe.  It is full color with brilliant art that says that FFG understands the universe and what is expected of them.  I would even venture to say that it is better quality than the WotC release of the d20 version. I was never overly impressed with their art, but then again it may have been my bias against the prequels.

From the back cover:
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

The book opens up with a general overview of the basic rules.  One of my main concern was the custom dice.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first thing you see is a conversion table for standard dice to their special dice.  That alleviated a lot of concern up front.  They also provide an app for iOS and Android; however, they are not free apps.

THE RULES

The rules themselves are abridged, focusing on just what you need for the adventure.  It explains the dice, one by one, and then goes into the mechanics.  The dice mechanic is actually one of the praises I have heard about this game.  The dice, with the varying symbols, range from 6-sided to 12-sided.  Each die is colored, based on type, and each type has its own set of symbols.  For instance, the Ability Die has a Success symbol (a sort of burst symbol) and a Failure symbol (a three pointed star symbol).  Each symbol has its opposite – once cancelling the other out when rolled.

Every symbol has its own meaning and once you get used to them, I can see the game flowing fairly fluidly.  It is that period of adjustment I am most concerned about, however.  The longer it takes to get used to these symbols, the more likely people will want to play other games with more familiar dice.  The reward will have to outweigh the investment of time to adjust.

What all this means is that the dice not only decide success or fail, but decide severity as well as additional context and consequences during task resolution.  In game, there may be a call for a die to an upgrade.  Ability dice are upgraded to Proficiency dice, and Difficulty dice can be upgraded to Challenge dice.  This dichotomy coupled with the symbol pairing brings task resolution to a whole new level and adds much more storytelling to the dice mechanic.  I was impressed with that from the start.

The Difficulty of a task determines the number of Difficulty dice and/or Challenge dice you roll in your pool.  These range from Simple (no dice at all) to Formidable (5 Difficulty dice).  At any time, these dice can up upgraded (or in some cases, downgraded).  There are 6 Ability scores following the familiar pattern of 3 physical and 3 mental.  The Skill check dice pool is determined by skill rank and the Ability score is associated to the skill.  The higher number determines the number of dice and the lower determines the number of upgrades.   It is a very interesting and subtly elegant system.  It relies heavily on the custom dice but I feel the adjustment period is worth the reward in the end for a system like this.

From the back cover:
“Amid the backdrop of civil war, the Empire tightens its grip on the galaxy.  Yet, even the Emperor’s influence only extends so far.”

Aside from success or failure, the dice add other factors into the game.  The dice may roll Advantage or Triumph as well as Threat and Despair.  The player now must “spend” these on various options presented in a table.  In the abridged version, the table is shorter, as noted in the text.  The Core rulebook has a much more extensive Advantage and Triumph/Threat and Despair table.  Options include adding Boost dice to other actions, inflicting critical, causing strain, or adding setback dice to other’s actions.

There are also Destiny points that represent the Force’s influence on things.  They are basically tokens or coins with two sides – Light and Dark.  PCs can spend the Light side for help in a situation and when spent, the token is flipped to the Dark side.  The GM may in turn flip the Dark side point  to hinder the players.  I really like this aspect of the game.

Combat is simply an extension of the task resolution system, as one would expect. This booklet spends a little time explaining intricacies of combat as obviously it plays a big part in the Star Wars universe.  At first glance, it appears that it goes along the standard Roll Initiative/Roll Attack model, but there are some subtle differences.  Initiative is rolled once for each combat encounter but it is not static for each character.  Each initiative result rolled makes an initiative slot, either Player Character or NPC.  The players as a group decide each round who takes each slot and the GM determines who takes the NPC slots.  That also is an interesting take on initiative, making it more tactical.

I have played combat fairly abstract when playing d6 Star Wars and more tactical in the d20 version.  I prefer a flexible tactical approach to combat.  This new version of Star Wars is quite the opposite.  They encourage a more abstract approach, focusing on action and story rather than grid maps and miniatures.  Unfortunately, I would find myself wanting to favor my grid maps and minis over the abstract, but that’s a personal preference.

THE ADVENTURE

The adventure takes place on Coruscant and puts the players right into the heart of it.  They start out after they have already infiltrated a Black Sun facility and have to escape with stolen data.  It goes through three episodes, starting with a harrowing chase through Coruscant, followed by the search for the bounty hunter that betrayed the Pyke family, and ending with a confrontation of said bounty hunter.  It is an interesting journey through the underbelly of the once great capital of the old Republic.  It not only supplies enough required encounters for a fulfilling adventure, but also a few options are thrown in there as well.

The adventure also illustrates rather well the stylishness of the system, with its simple ways of breaking down NPCs to the ways it makes encounters flow smoother.  I can see how easily it can allow for a lot of adventure and storytelling without getting too bogged down into the system.

The adventure takes the characters through several locations on Coruscant, from the greasy speeder bike repair shop and seedy drug dealing clubs to high-stakes sabacc houses and high towers of weapons smugglers.  A nice addition (and also something that made this free adventure very sought after) is rules to play Sabacc in game terms.  Along with that, it provides 4 pre-generated characters that allow for immediate play.

In conclusion, like most anything out of FFG, this is a high quality product.  It is amazing that it’s free.  It definitely exemplifies what I envision Free RPG Day is.  It gives you all you need to play right away.  The only preparation a GM would need is to read the adventure and rules thoroughly.  My only complaint is that it only supplies 4 characters, but it does supply a means to download more for a larger party.

From a system point of view, some of my skepticism is relieved.  Some publishers would simply release a system with specialized dice just to make more money but honestly, I do not think that was the only motivation behind this design.  Star wars needed a totally new system and a new way of looking at it.  It needed something to revive its fans and play it again in a new way.  This system seems to accomplish at least some of that.  The rest remains to be seen.

For more details on Fantasy Flight Games and their new Free RPG Day Adventure
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – Shadows of a Black Sun” check them out at their website http://www.fantasyflightgames.com.

Codex Rating: 19

Product Summary

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – Shadows of a Black Sun
From
: Fantasy Flight Games
Type of Game: Free RPG Day Adventure
Written by: Jeff Hall
Contributing Authors: Michele Carter, Christine Crabb, Mark Pollard
Produced by: Katrina Ostrandler
Cover Art by: Scott Schomburg, Mark Molnar
Additional Art by: Brian Schomburg, Jacob Atienza, Ryan Barger, Caravan Studio, Christina Davis, Tony Foti, Tom Garden, David Kegg, Adam Lane, Ralph McQuarrie, Jacob Murray, Matthew Starbuck, Christer Wibert, Lucas Film art archives.
Number of Pages: 40
Game Components Included: 1 booklet
Retail Price: Free
Website: www.fantasyflightgames.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Shadowrun/Battletech, a Time of War Quick-Start rules

Shadowrun Quick-start Rules

Battletech, a Time of War Quick-start Rules

From: Catalyst Game Labs

Reviewed by: Joseph Martin

Everyone loves free stuff, gamers possibly more so. When that free stuff is high quality and useful it is nothing short of amazing. “Free RPG Day” products can vary greatly in quality. Over the last several years they have gone from hastily assembled cheap productions to high quality items that many would pay a small fee for. Catalyst Game Labs has hit the mark pretty closely on this two-game quick start pack.

The physical product is beautiful. It is a flipbook with full color covers outside and in. The glossy card stock cover is both eye catching and rugged. Illustrations abound inside the book itself. The layout is good, the text very readable. Overall it is an impressive quality book, especially when you consider the price!

Shadowrun and Battletech have been around for quite some time. Both have a rich history and background. Enough of that history is presented to give new players a working knowledge of the respective backgrounds. The basic rules needed are presented well and appear to be pulled directly from the rule books themselves. All required stats, abilities, gear and more are presented. From a player’s perspective you could read through either section and be ready to play in a short time. Please note that while all the basic game mechanics are explained there are no character creation rules included. Sample characters are provided. This is not an issue with this being a quick start product designed for introducing new players to the games. Being a quick start product it would help to have a Game Master who has played the game previously and has a little experience. A completely new group, including Game Master might fumble a little bit but will be able to play and hopefully enjoy the introduction scenarios.

An easy to comprehend rules set and a well written and flowing scenario to run new gamers through is a must for a quick start product. On the Shadowrun side a serious yet fun run adventure awaits the players. A quick run for some fast food, what could go wrong? The sample characters are well fleshed out. Only a few typographical errors mar their perfection from an experienced gamer’s point of view. All of the standard archetypes are presented. Players can choose from the Street Samurai, Shaman, Decker and more. The game master is given everything needed to run the game. A map, stats and motivations for opponents and bystanders and even a twist and possible lead to future adventures are included. A decent Game Master could take this cold and be ready to run it in just a few minutes.

The printed version of the Battletech scenario is a little bit of a let down. While detailed and interesting characters are given, the flow of the game is entirely up to the Game Master as no real details other than stats on opponents and a description of the area are given. There are no maps, no suggested actions for either the players or the ‘bad guys’. The story is a little weak and the objective very hard. Experienced players trying the game for the first time might be able to find a way to complete the mission. Brand new players will most likely have problems. A Game Master running the print version will need some extra time to flesh out the details and perhaps soften the adventure for the players.

However, the online PDF version (see below) has a completely different scenario with a much more playable story line. The sample characters are not quite as fleshed out as the print versions but overall a much better introduction for new gamers. The Game Master will still need to spend a little time preparing but will not have to do anywhere near the prep work as in the print edition.

In conclusion, Catalyst Game Labs has hit it out of the park with this product. With the corrected Battletech scenario the only thing that mars it are a few small errors, mostly in the fluff. If you can’t find a print copy of this, hit the online PDF’s below. They are a great read and a welcome addition to any gamer’s library.

You can check out all of Catalyst Games Lab’s products at http://www.catalystgamelabs.com/

At the time of this writing you can find PDF versions of these books at the links below. If a link is dead just search, more than likely it’s out there somewhere.

Shadowrun:

http://cdn.shadowruntabletop.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/E-CAT27QSR_SR5-Quick-Start-Rules.pdf

Battletech:

http://catalystgamelabs.com/download/Free%20PDFs/ATOW%20QSR.pdf

 

Codex Rating: 18 (print edition)  19 (Corrected PDF)

 

Product Summary

Shadowrun/Battletech, a Time of War Quick-start rules

From: Catalyst game labs

Type of Game: RPG

Writer/ Artist: No information given in product.

Number of Pages: 64

Retail Price: Free!

Item Number: None.

ISBN: None.

Email: randall@catalystgamelabs.com

Website: http://www.catalystgamelabs.com/

 

Reviewed by: Joseph Martin

Hall of Bones

Hall of Bones (Free RPG Day)
From: Frog God Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

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Hall of Bones (Free RPG Day) is a new Swords & Wizardry Free RPG Day Adventure from Frog God Games.

The old school movement continues with another entry into the mix that I had not heard of before – Swords & Wizardry RPG.  This is not to say these guys are brand new to the market – it’s just new to me.  Their Free RPG Day offering is the Hall of Bones, and it contains all you need to run and play it.

From the back cover:
“Frog God Games is pleased to present a short handling of our rules set, game theory and a short adventure of the award winning Swords & Wizardry game.”

Hall of Bones is a simple adventure to introduce you to the Swords & Wizardry game system.  The booklet contains a “short handling” of the Swords & Wizardry rules, an old school primer on game theory, the Hall of Bones adventure and 4 pre-generated characters.  This is a complete Free RPG Day booklet and what I would expect out of it.

The Swords & Wizardry core rules are downloadable for free from the Frog God web site or you can purchase them in print from them.  In 2009, the game won an ENnie award at GenCon and it has proven to be very popular on the internet.  In the basic sense, it is a “re-printing/re-imagining” of the classic first edition D&D, taking advantage of what Wizards of the Coast was willing to open license, with a few minor changes.

I got involved in gaming in 1983 and probably played this version of D&D once.  I don’t remember a lot about it so this is basically new to me.  For those not familiar with D&D 1e, it set the foundation for what was to become the d20 system but on a much less heroic level.  The system was pretty stingy with experience, was very restrictive on magic items and in general much less epic that its successors.  It uses a lot of tables in combat (a different Attack vs. Armor Class table for each class) and does not have feats or class abilities, so to speak.  Each class is slightly different and has their own progression table but multi-classing is highly restricted.

A future review of these rules will soon appear on The Gamers Codex.

Much of that does not matter for this Free RPG Day one-shot.  In this, the adventure is strictly to illustrate the system.  One interesting modification of the paired down version is that it doesn’t use the default AC rules – which is the classic descending value (lower is better).  Instead, these quick start rules use the more d20-esque ascending scale for AC.  Otherwise, there are many familiar d20 tropes that most would recognize – attack bonus, the 6 abilities score and their bonuses, hit dice and hit points, for example.

The section entitled “An Old-School Primer” delves into the author’s philosophy as to why he prefers this kind of system over more modern ones in the same genre and part of the same line.  For instance, characters’ ability scores have less effect to avoid the uber-powerful character too early.  He shares a vision with many other old-schoolers that less is more, and power-gaming is in part what has lead to much of what see today in the more modern version of D&D.  At least that’s the way I interpret his opinions.  I’m not saying he is wrong and I am not saying he’s entirely right either.  That debate could go on and on and have no result.  But it is a refreshing approach to today’s fantasy role playing games.

It is also interesting that they added this to a Free RPG Day supplement.  It’s like the old school movement needs evangelizing.

From back cover:
“This game is similar to very old school editions of the game, dating back to 1974.”

The four pre-generated characters are a dwarf fighter, human cleric, human magic user, and an elf thief.  Include the henchman and his animal follower introduced at the start of the booklet (that easily can be converted to a character), the party is complete.

The adventure itself is a basic dungeon crawl, giving the character the best reason to explore it – evil lurking inside and great riches to be found.  Through the standard character recruitment method of a tavern, the find out there is an evil necromancer lurking in some ruins and rumors of a dungeon beneath containing great treasure.  The players are lead through a perilous dungeon with traps, tricks and treasure all along the way. Also they encounter a few monsters too, including ghouls, giant spiders and giant rates.

There is very little preparation for this game, if a GM wants to run this at a Free RPG Game Day.  Just a simple read through of the rules, which are familiar enough to anyone familiar with d20 or Pathfinder that they could easily grasp it.  On the flip side of that, this can easily be converted to something else if the GM so wishes.  However, I would highly recommend giving this a try using the Sword & Wizardry system.

In conclusion, I feel like these guys grasp the essence of what Free RPG Day is meant to be.  They give you all you need up front and if that’s not enough, they give you the free option to download their rulebook.  You can tell they are passionate about their love for classic D&D 1e.  This is a great intro product to a great game.

For more details on Frog God Games and their new Sword & Wizardry Free RPG Day AdventureHall of Bones (Free RPG Day)” check them out at their website http://tsathogga.blogspot.com.

Codex Rating: 18

Product Summary

Hall of Bones (Free RPG Day)
From: Frog God Games
Type of Game: Sword & Wizardry Free RPG Day Adventure
Written by: Bill Webb
Contributing Authors: Aaron Zirkelbach
Game Design by: Bill Webb
Cover Art by: Chris Mcfann
Additional Art by: Brian LaBlanc, MKUltra Studios, Claudio Pazos, James Stowe, Richard Thomas
Number of Pages: 20
Game Components Included: Rules overview, adventure, pre-generated characters.
Website: http://tsathogga.blogspot.com/

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Castles & Crusades: A Pot of Broken Bones (& Halfing Broth)

Castles & Crusades: A Pot of Broken Bones (& Halfing Broth)

From: Troll Lord Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Castles & Crusades: A Pot of Broken Bones (& Halfing Broth) is a new Free RPG Day Adventure from Troll Lord Games.

One of the more surprising things about this year’s Free RPG Day was the amount of free full size books it contained.  One of those books was the Castles & Crusades Player’s Handbook.  Although this is not a review of that, I wanted to say that unlike other Free RPG Day products, A Pot of Broken Bones (& Halfing Broth) does not contain the rules to play the game.  This is a full adventure.  I assume the intent was that the store owner would give whatever GM ran this adventure in his store the Player’s Handbook to get familiar with the game system.  The Player’s Handbook is reviewed separately on this web site.

From the back cover:
“Beyond the comforts of home lie worlds of epic adventure”

First and foremost, there is no rules explanation in the adventure at all, which is, I suppose, why they included one Player’s Handbook (PH) for Castles & Crusades (C&C) in the Free RPG Day bundle. This is not entirely the best route to take, but seeing as how Troll Lords was so generous to include a PH in the bundle, I can give them some slack.  The entire booklet of 14 pages is the adventure.  It includes 4 pre-generated characters for you to immediately launch into the game.

With that said, the first thing any GM needs to do with this adventure is get familiar with the rules of the game system.  In order to play this, I would highly recommend that the publisher consider putting together some quick start rules so all the GM has to do is pick up this one booklet.  After all, this is what is at the heart of Free RPG Day, isn’t it?  Also, the adventure states upfront that this adventure can stretch to two sessions, so perhaps it is not ideal for a one-shot game day that I envision Free RPG Day is meant to be.

The adventure itself is a rescue mission with a deep and dark twist at the end.  A group of adventurers are approached by the last survivors of a Halfing village ravaged by two troll brothers.  They need help rescuing their fellow villagers from the clutches of the evil trolls.  However, their lair holds even deeper and darker secrets that if unleashed, could create even further problems for the characters.

From page # 2:
“ ‘They took Ylanda Broadfoot! The monsters! We need to gather our resources and use some blades to save her and the rest. Hurry!’ commanded furious Actley, so angry his crimson face was redder than normal.”

The adventure is broken down into 3 major acts – (1) The recruitment and journey there, complete with random encounter tables for day and night; (2) The rescue of the Halfing villagers from the clutches of the Trolls; (3) the Troll lair’s dark secret.  The first two acts could easily fit in one session and the third act is really optional if the Castle Keeper wishes to take the adventure further.

There are 4 pre-generated characters (pre-gens) – two human magic users, an elf rogue and a dwarf fighter.  Characters can be easily added to make a solid party of 6 if you have the Player’s Handbook.  Making characters is not all that hard in C&C.

In conclusion, the adventure is really good, despite the lack of grasping the concept of the Free RPG Day (or least how I perceive it).  This is more of a quick two-night one-shot than a game for a single game day.  It can be done, however, if you skip the best part of the adventure – the dark twist at the end.  With the adventure, you at least need the Player’s Handbook.  If you did not get the free one in the Free RPG Day bundle, then purchasing it would run you about $40.  If the Troll Lords really want this adventure played, however, I would highly recommend coming up with some quickstarter rules.  However, for C&C fans, this is a good adventure.  I would grab it up if you see a copy somewhere. It can be a lot of fun and added to any existing campaign as a side adventure.

For more details on Troll Lord Games and their new Free RPG Day AdventureCastles & Crusades: A Pot of Broken Bones (& Halfing Broth)” check them out at their website http://www.trolllords.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 14

Product Summary

a-pot-of-broken-bones-and-halfing-broth-coverCastles & Crusades: A Pot of Broken Bones (& Halfing Broth)
From: Troll Lord Games
Type of Game: Free RPG Day Adventure
Written by: Brian N. Young
Contributing Authors: Alicia Stanley
Game Design by: Davis Chenault, Mac Golden
Art by: Peter Bradley
Number of Pages: 14
Game Components Included: One adventure booklet
Game Components Not Included: Core rule book
Retail Price: $0.00(US)
Website: www.trolllords.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Castles & Crusades: Players Handbook

Castles & Crusades: Players Handbook
From: Troll Lord Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Castles & Crusades: Players Handbook is a new RPG Core Players Handbook from Troll Lord Games.

Since the inception of the d20 OGL, there have been a plethora of d20 games, supplements, variances and retooled rule-sets.  Few have survived since 4th edition D&D arrived on the scene and d20 evolved into the Pathfinder flavor.  Castle & Crusades (C&C) has been one of the few with staying power.

One of the more impressive aspects of this year’s Free RPG Day was the amount of free full size books it contained.  One of those books was the Castles & Crusades Players Handbook.  I assume the intent was that the store owner would give whatever GM ran the C&C adventure in his store the Players Handbook to get familiar with the game system. I am impressed with the Troll Lords support of the Free RPG Day.

From the back cover:
“With iron heel the world grinds away”

SYSTEM

The C&C system is a stripped down version of the base d20 system, with a little old school sensibility thrown in.  Skills and feats are thrown out in favor of a much more simple attribute check system called SIEGE engine.  Classes have class abilities and there are also some minor racial bonuses from abilities, but everything pretty much boils down to an attribute check.

There are several familiar trappings from the core d20 SRD (System Reference Document).  The same six attributes exist and they are calculated via the familiar 3d6 roll.  Each attribute determines a modifier ranging from -4 to +4, much like base d20.  However, the game divides attributes into Primary and Secondary.  Each character has multiples of each.  Humans have 3 attributes that are considered primary while the other races have 2.  Class ties closely into this, as one familiar with d20 would expect.  The class defines the 2 or 3 primary attributes the character gets and then the others are chosen.

Classes are significantly different from d20 classes.  There are 13 classes ranging from your basic Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, Rogue, Monk and Paladin to your magic-using Wizard, Druid, Cleric, and Bards.  It also has Assassin, Illusionist and Knight.  Classes are structured a lot more simply.  They have a much more simplified class table and class abilities.  All class abilities are obtained up front and some change as the character progresses.  Each class has a subtly different experience progression – where a fighter would progress to level 2 with 2001 experience, the rogue progresses to level 2 at 1251 experience points.

As mentioned before, class abilities are obtained upon entering the class and some change as the character levels in the class.  These are fairly similar to the class abilities in d20 and also some d20 feats.  This means abilities actually do not go into effect until a certain level (ex.  Smite for a paladin does not go into effect until 9th level). It’s an interesting approach to the familiar book-diving to find out what effects you can do with your abilities.  Not sure if that is much of a change or simplification, however.

At the heart of the game is the SIEGE engine mechanic.  It is a means of resolving most any kind of challenge presented in game play.  This replaces skills all together in d20.  The key aspects of the roll are the related attribute, the character class level, and the difficulty class (renamed Challenge Class or CC) of the task.  In an attempt to make all rolls like the classic d20 combat roll (base attack +d20 vs. armor class) and unify the system, the SEIGE engine was born.  Saving throws, skill or attribute checks, and combat are all handled very similarly.

The SEIGE engine dictates a simple way of calculating the challenge class, using two simple numbers – the Challenge Base (CB) and the Challenge Level (CL).  The CB is either 12 or 18, depending on whether the governing attribute is primary or not.  The CL is the variable factor that the GM determines to increase or decrease the difficulty of the challenge.  Add all those together and you get your CC.

This is quite an elegant and simple system.  I went into detail about it just to illustrate just how simple it is.  It has a little old school feel as well as a little new.  My biggest concern for any system that has either unlimited skill access or like this one that has no skills at all, is that there is very little difference between the characters.  But this game creates the difference makers in the primary/secondary attributes and the SEIIGE engine system in general.  I can see that being enough for most people.

At the heart of any fantasy game setting is magic.  For a fantasy role-player, one of the first questions about the game will be about magic and how it is handled.  In many ways, magic is handled very similarly to magic in d20 D&D.  The 4 major magic users have their own spells-per-day tables.  Druids and Clerics are paired up and use the same table, while Wizards and Illusionists share a different table. Clerics and Druids must prepare their spells before hand through prayer, while Wizards and Illusionists have a spell book.  In C&C, there are no sorcerers.

The spells make up a good portion of the book but nothing like the D&D Player’s Handbook.  Each magic using class has their own spell lists to choose from and there quite a few familiar spells in these lists for those familiar with d20 D&D spells.  It is a minor thing but they include something I wish more d20-based games would when it comes to spell lists.  In the basic spell lists, they include the page where the full description of the spell can be found.  Spells are perhaps one of the major causes of book diving during game sessions and a quicker way to look them up is always handy.

Combat is considerably stripped down from d20 D&D. Some simplifications make sense while others I question, but in the end it is a smoother and much quicker combat system.  It still has the tactical elements of classic d20 while eliminating a lot of the clunky stuff people stumble over when playing d20.  For example, there is no attack of opportunity, per se.  There are maneuvers that might call for a free attack but there is no need to remember what provokes an attack of opportunity or not.  I have always hated attack of opportunity, personally.

The appendix includes optional rules for mutli-classing.  Surprisingly that is not part of the core rules.  It is a little more complex than standard d20 multi-classing and I suppose that is why they made it optional.

From the back cover:
“A game that is yours to command”

CONTENT

The C&C Players Handbook is a smaller full-color book than one would expect but it contains only the basics for a player.  Unlike the formidable 370+ page Player’s Handbook for 3.5 D&D, C&C is much more condensed.  The first three chapters contain the basics of character creation including Attributes, Classes, Equipment, Magic and Spells. What is missing are Skills and Feats, which is explained above.

However, despite calling the book the Player’s Handbook, it also includes a short chapter on game-mastering the game.  A game master of C&C is called the Castle Keeper or CK, and this section gives general advice and rules on how to run a game of C&C.  Most importantly, it gives a more complete and in-depth explanation of the SEIGE engine system as well as combat rules.

The book itself is a very attractive full-color tomb with brilliant art and nice layout.  Its size is almost perfect, not too big and not too small.  It contains everything you would need to at least start playing.  The only things missing are a few sample monsters to throw at your characters, which is why it is best that the CK consider the monster manual, called the C&C Monsters & Treasures book, as well as the Keeper’s Guide.

In conclusion, I really liked my first exposure to Castles & Crusades and look forward to trying it out at a con or game event.  I think it would take some getting used to for people familiar with d20 D&D or Pathfinder,  but I think it would be worth it to get a new perspective on things.

For more details on Troll Lord Games and their new RPG Core Players Handbook  “Castles & Crusades: Players Handbook” check them out at their website http://www.trolllord.com/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 16

ccphbProduct Summary

Castles & Crusades: Players Handbook
From: Troll Lord Games
Type of Game: RPG Core Players Handbook
Written by: Davis Chenault, Mac Golden
Cover Art by: Peter Bradley
Additional Art by: Steve Chenault, Mark Sandy, Todd Gray, James M. Ward
Number of Pages: 144
Game Components Included: Core Players Handbook
Game Components Not Included: Setting book/DM’s book
Retail Price: $29.99(US)
Website: http://www.trolllord.com/

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack
From:Flying Buffalo, Inc, Free RPG Day
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack is a new Free RPG Day Preview Pack from Flying Buffalo Inc.

I have to admit that I have heard of Tunnels & Trolls in passing but never really been exposed to it.  I have not heard good or bad about it.  I am going into this completely unfettered and new to this game.  I think that is what is intended for any of these Free RPG Day adventures, isn’t it?  Also, in the Free RPG Day bundle, there are three games represented that I would say were vying for the 3rd or 4th place in the fantasy RPG industry – and maybe even second place since D&D has seen such a great decline – Tunnels & Trolls, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and Castles & Crusades.  Having little to no experience with any of these, I truly wanted to see which one(s) stood out to me.

Researching into the game a little, I am impressed with its history.  Eight editions since 1975, this Preview Pack now presents the first look at a 9th edition, now called Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls – creatively abbreviated dT&T.  Having no experience with previous editions, I can only relay my experiences as a first timer.  So if you are looking for comparisons, I am not sure you are going to get much of that.

What is most interesting is that the game is flexible enough for normal group play as well as solo play and play by mail (or email or forum-based).  The Preview Pack even provides you with a download for a solo adventure.

From the cover:
“One of the easiest RPGs to learn & play.”

This booklet starts out with not only a simple overview of the dT&T game system, as one would expect, but also a simple overview of the character generation system.

CHARACTER GENERATION

The character generation system is fairly simple. You have 8 base Prime Attributes (ability scores) which is the character’s primary interface with the game system, a character race, and the character type.

Prime Attributes are rolled old-school style with three six-sided dice.  The twist in this situation is that if you roll triples, the dice explode – meaning if you roll the same number on all three dice, add them up and roll again to add that total as well.  This creates interesting and open ended possibilities for characters.  Character races and types (conceptually the same as classes) all have their various effects on these Prime Attributes as well as supply bonuses in combat, access to magic, and in some cases, Talents.  However, everything in the system revolves around the Prime Attributes, Personal Adds (which are derived from Prime Attributes) and combat values obtained from weapons and armor.

Characters also have levels which are simple measures of progress in the character, but there is no leveling chart for each Character Type.  This preview does go into experience and leveling but not in huge detail; it provides just enough to give you an idea of how it works.  Level, for instance, is simply dividing the highest Prime Attribute by ten.  I like that simplicity.

SYSTEM

The base system is a strictly six-sided dice based system.  The system claims to be “one of the easiest RPGs to learn and play” and in some ways, I can see that claim ringing true.  There are basically two types of rolls – Saving Rolls and Combat.

Saving Rolls are D&D/d20 saving throws combined with standard skill checks or talents.  Saving Rolls are used in this Free RPG Day preview version but the use of talents is left out for simplicity.  Talents are given a cursory explanation, however – just enough to wet your curiosity about the full game book due out this summer.  Saving Rolls involve probably my least favorite aspect of the game – the “Level of difficult” system.  Level of difficult, or just Level in this case, defines the number you subtract the attribute fromSo a L2SR on LK is a Level 2 difficulty Saving Roll for Luck.  You simply roll two dice for this and doubles explode.

There are many systems that have tried to make combat a single die roll and I think dT&T has accomplished this in perhaps the simplest and most obvious way.  Basically, it’s an opposed roll, where the weapon or weapons you are holding play a bigger part than skill or ability.  Both skill and ability have some affect through something called Personal Adds or Adds, which are derived from Prime Attributes and/or Talents.  However, combat is the only place that multiples (doubles or triples) do not explode.  A slight inconsistency in the rules but I can understand why it was done that way.

Without a doubt, this is a simple combat system, but the more tactically inclined are not really going to like it much.  It breaks everything down to a single number and the purpose of combat is simply to get your opponents hit points down before yours.  Grant it, that really is what combat is all about, but the finesse and attraction for a lot of players is in how it is done.  This system leaves a lot of that “how” to the GM, which in a lot of ways is very admirable.

I think my second least favorite part of this game system is the monsters and how they are stat’ed out. However, it is consistent with the simplicity in the system.  Monsters are basically boiled down to a single number called Monster Rating.  This represents the Monsters hit points and also derives its attack dice.  That’s all a monster is in this system.  No special abilities, spells or other interesting items to flesh him out.  Once again, boiling things down to reducing the hit points number and leaving a lot for the GM to fill in.  Depending on the GM, this could be a good thing or a bad thing.

A simple magic system is supplied in the Preview Pack as well as a short list of spells.  The spells range from Level 1 to Level 5.  Each spell has a Wizardry cost which is subtracted from the Prime Attribute WZ. As the Wizard gains more experience, the lower the cost of some spells become.  Also in a very Tolkienesque fashion, a staff helps reduce the cost of spells as well.  Spells are your basic D&D type spells like Detect Magic, Mirage, etc.

Overall, the system is pretty sound, although lacking some elegance.  It is not overly clunky and fairly fast paced which I think would work well for a one shot.  For a GM ready to run this, like in most games, read through the rules thoroughly before diving into the adventure.  However, it shouldn’t take a GM more than 30 minutes to rules prep for this game system because it is fairly easy.  Just know that in combat, the GM will need to fill in some of the gory details and tactical information for those players that are looking for that because all this system does is boil combat down to simple numbers.

From the cover:
“Includes: Introductory Rules, GM Adventure & Solo adventure download”

THE ADVENTURE

The Preview Pack includes 3 pre-generated characters ready to use but the character generation system is simple enough that even at the table character generation would not be too disruptive.  To avoid all that, I would copy the page twice, maybe adjust a few of the numbers to make them slightly different and use them for a party of 6.

The adventure takes the party to the Cavern of the Mad Dwarf.  They are sent to save a fire dwarf princess who is being held captive in the caverns.  Where is the catch?  The caves are at the foot of a volcano and hot lava and steam vents through the caverns.  The patron supplies the party with potions that supply total fire resistance for a limited time.  This creates an interesting tension, at least initially, to the adventure.

The quest takes the adventurers down an enchanted volcanic vent, encountering perils and dangerous creatures.  It’s a dungeon crawl with a few slight twists.  The heat is just one of their concerns.  There are a wide variety of creatures described but because these monsters don’t have a nice neat stat block, it’s important to read the encounters to find the monsters’ powers, abilities, tactics, and motivations.

From a GM point of view, there are subtle nuances in this adventure that make it important to read each encounter carefully before sending the players into them.  It’s not just a normal dungeon crawl.  Each room has its own characteristics and challenges.  Not all need to be fights but a lot of them end up that way.  There are also nice opportunities for the GM to add his own style to the encounters.  It is nicely detailed and inspiring.

The map supplied is very well done and detailed.  If the GM has the opportunity, I would recommend copying that page, but don’t use it as a player reference as it reveals all the caverns’ secrets.  This adventure will need a means for the GM to draw out each room or display each room to the players.  Dry-erase map boards or cavern map tiles would be good.  Even a dry erase board laid flat on the table would be good.

My biggest concern while reading through this is time.  The GM needs to manage the time well, especially if he is running in a fixed time slot.  There are twelve rooms and in the end, you have the boss fight, which can take some time.  Because the adventure supplies a way around the potions at one point (if the players play their cards right), the adventure could go longer than initially thought.  This could easily fit in the standard convention 4-hour time slot if managed right.

In conclusion, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack has a lot to offer a person wanting to try out a new system.  It has an old-school feel with some modern sensibilities.  The influence of solo play and play-by-mail make for a very simple system that may or may not be completely satisfying to all types of players.  For a one shot, though, it is definitely worth a try.  The adventure itself is great.  It is well written and well thought out, despite its simple foundation of a dungeon crawl.

For more details on Flying Buffalo Inc and their new Free RPG Day Preview PackDeluxe Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack” check them out at their website http://www.flyingbuffalo.com.

Codex Rating: System 14.  Adventure 17

flyingbuffaloProduct Summary

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack
From: Flying Buffalo Inc
Type of Game: Free RPG Day Preview Pack
Written by: Ken St. Andre
Contributing Authors: Liz Danforth, Bear Peters
Game Design by: Ken St. Andre
Art by: Liz Danforth, Rob Carver, Steve Crompton, Bear Peters
Number of Pages: 18 pages
Game Components Included: Preview of the dT&T rules and one short adventure with 3 basic pre-generated characters
Game Components Not Included: Dice
Retail Price: Free(US)
Number of Players: 2 – 6 plus GM
Website: www.flyingbuffalo.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Free RPG Day Reviews

There is a local gaming store that actively supports my efforts in area cons and the Charlotte area gaming community.  I met Ryan when he wanted to run Warmachine demos for one of my MACE events.  He now runs Above Board Games (ABG) in Fort Mill, SC, one of the best gaming stores in the area.  Every year, Ryan buys at least one packet for the Free RPG Day and even though something always seems to prevent me from participating, he still gives me the leftovers from what he bought – which is usually a lot, unfortunately.  I use it to give these leftovers out as door prizes and SWAG to my GMs at MACE and other events (depending on how long it lasts), which they do appreciate.  I really try to give a little extra to my GMs but with my limited budget and limited donations it’s not always a lot.

My goal is to one day run Free RPG Day as a game day. However,  for the past several years I have had something that kept me from doing that.  I really respect the efforts behind Free RPG Day and truly want to get behind it.  Real life has just prevented me from doing that.  I love that the industry has embraced it.  It is now in its 6th year, and while I have seen varied results it has mostly had a positive outcome.  If I can get a year where nothing is going on mid-June, I will put all my efforts into making it a great event in my area.

Ryan of ABG has been kind enough year by year to pass on his leftovers to me, and this year it was an incredible amount of stuff.  In my effort to get more involved in Free RPG Day, I am going to review everything that came in that box, so be prepared for several rapid fire reviews of the one-shot adventures, SWAG and other cool stuff in 2013’s Free RPG basic packet.  I also plan to include advice on how to better run these games at Free RPG Day for GMs.  Because the store gets them a week or two before, there is usually very little time for a GM to prepare, which is probably the greatest reason why some Free RPG Day events are less than the could be.   Therefore, my goal is to make these reviews a little more than simple reviews of the product.  I want to help other Free RPG Day event organizers, GMs and players better their experience.