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Scarlet Heroes
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/21/2020 22:58:59

Amazing product, absolutely love the great ideas the author puts forth. You can run solo games or with a full group. The default setting is interesting (think Jade Empire meets Old School D&D), however it's not required and you're free to use your own setting or one already published. Have to say this game definitely rates as one of my favorites amongst the old school RPG systems.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scarlet Heroes
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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Fantasy Deck
Publisher: Larcenous Designs, LLC
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/19/2019 11:49:24

Brought my GM Apprentice deck to a game that my friend is running, used the cards in lieu of dice (didn't use them for anything else as I obviously wasn't playing a solo game). Had an epic moment where we were fighting the Big Bad Evil Guy and I stood up and said "I believe in the heart of the cards!" and legit drew a natural 20 on my attack roll. Scored a critical hit and sent the BBEG's soul to the Shadow Realm. Lookout Seto Kaiba, here I come! 10/10 would draw another crit again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The GameMaster's Apprentice: Fantasy Deck
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Cyberpunk GenIsys
Publisher: GenIsys Games
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/16/2019 02:05:10

I wanted to like this product, I really did, however it was a big let down. The reasons why I can't recommend it are as follows:

  1. Grammar errors. This book is plagued with grammar errors that could've and should've been caught with a simple editorial review of the book. It's one thing to have an error or two, even the big publishers like Wizards of the Coast will have a misspelled word or three. However Cyberpunk GenIsys is FILLED with errors. I quit counting after the 10th error and that was just within the first couple chapters. Seriously, this product needs a thorough review and grammar errors fixed.

  2. Sloppy editing. As if the grammar errors weren't enough, CP GenIsys suffers from very poor editing. Allow me to give you an example:

“Hey Jackie, how is it hangin?”. “Fine, Shida, Naran’s patrolling the neighborhood you know?” Shida giggles and says, “So!” Jack shrugs and says we need to come together on this. She smiles with a wry smile and says, “on what Jackie?” Jack with irritation, seems about to say something but thenmotions her to step closer. Jack’s hand shoots out picking Shida by the throat and pinning her againstthe light pole with her feet 2’ above the ground. Shida tries to react, but Jack’s cyber grip is sure to break her neck as it tightens its grip on her. “Look girly, I have no wish to draw you the Ace of Spades tonight, but I don’t want to play games.” He lets her go and she drops to the ground rubbing her neck and her Jander is now gone. “Sorry Jack, here is the data crystal, what’s on it?”

Yes, this is an actual paragraph taken straight from the book. Seriously, it reads like a foreign middle school kid wrote it after watching a marathon of action movies. It's just plain awful. CP GenIsys tries WAY too hard to be Cyberpunk 2020. I get that the author was going for, well, Cyber Punk, however this feels like the author just copy-pasta'd CP 2020 and changed up just enough things to claim it was distinct from the original product. The author also makes the mistake of assuming you know about certain elements before actually explaining them. For example, the author refers to Razors several times before explaining that Razors are player characters.

Final Verdict: I tried my best to be objective and like this game, however between all the glaring errors there really isn't anything that redeems CP GenIsys. If you're wanting something to scratch the itch for cyber punk genre, you're better off sticking with the superior Cyberpunk 2020 or even looking at Shadowrun.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Cyberpunk GenIsys
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Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master
Publisher: SlyFlourish
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/16/2019 01:58:27

WARNING: Do NOT buy this product if you enjoy spending long arduous hours writing up campaign materials that your players will inevitably destroy when they go full murder hobo or deviate from your planning.

Ok, jokes aside this is a great product and definitely a must-own for Dungeon Masters/GMs alike, even if you're not playing "The 5th Edition of the World's Greatest RPG". This product has advice for whatever game you're playing, even if it is My Little Ponies RPG (I'm not even joking, this product works with just about any RPG). I was able to run an entire old school D&D campaign (Rules Cyclopedia!) that lasted almost 18 months because of the superb advice given in RotLDM. The author really does a great job of distilling game prep down to just the bare minimum yet still allows for maximum fun, because let's be honest, fun is what we're looking for when we all meet around the (virtual) table each and every week. Other reviews here delve more into the content of the book so I'll spare you those details, but suffice it to say that the author implements some pretty creative solutions and game prep ideas that allow you to really optimize your time. The only downside (and it's not much of a downside) is that you also will want the RotLDM Workbook as well in order to keep things better organized. It's not at all a requirement, and in fact a few blank index cards is more than sufficient, however the workbook is definitely a nice-to-have.

So the big question: "Does Return of the Lazy DM actually work?" Let me put it to you this way: I was spending about 4+ hours carefully planning/crafting each gaming session, but after I got RotLDM I was able to shorten my game prep time to just 30 mins. You might be inclined to think that surely a game planned over 4 hours must be better than one hammered out in just 30 mins, but that couldn't be further away from the truth. All the advice given to us DMs (especially if you've read the awesome 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide) typically goes something like this: "Start with broad strokes and fill in the little details, more detail and thought is better." While that school of thought can certainly lead to some memorable campaigns (Gary Gygax had no issues running games like that), the modern person just doesn't have that much time to commit for game preparation, and being able to prepare a super fun and fleshed out game in just 30 mins is nothing short of a miracle. Seriously, I can't sing enough praises for RotLDM.

Are you still reading my review? Okay, I'll take this opportunity to list some of the other resources I use as well in order to run some super awesome and memorable games. Seriously though, RotLDM is worth every penny, and at just $8 USD it's practically a steal. Sacrifice a cup or two of Starbucks coffee if you must, but for sure buy this product! Disclaimer: I am not at all affiliated with the publisher and receive no compensation whatsoever from my review, I'm just a normal guy that really enjoys RotLDM and the fun times I have with my players.

What I use to run amazingly awesome games:

  • Return of the Lazy DM (obviously!)
  • Campaign Fronts as explained in Dungeon World (this handles my long term campaign planning)
  • 5 Room Dungeons (great resource for creating interesting dungeons/adventure sites)
  • Mythic GM Emulator (I make the occasional Fate Roll which leads to surprises & twists even for me)


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master
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OD&D Dungeons & Dragons Original Edition (0e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/17/2019 01:51:54

TL;DR: Old school D&D in it's full glory, exactly the way its creator (Gygax) played. Sacrifice those two cups of Starbucks coffee and pick this bundle up, you are in for a great time!

Full Review:

This is a PDF copy of what's referred to as the "white box" or "3 brown booklets" or "OD&D", the game that kicked off the entire D&D craze back in 1974. Nothing has been altered, these booklets have everything you and your friends need to begin playing D&D the way Gygax played. Contrary to popular belief, Gygax didn't really use the Advanced D&D rules that much. In fact, the final campaign he ran for his players before his death in 2008 was using these 3 booklets. You'll find strange conventions here, such as Fighting Men (fighters), constant references to the Chainmail ruleset (not required), and the fact that every player class uses a d6 for hit points and all weapons/monsters deal a d6 for damage on a hit. As strange as all this sounds, the rules are very workable and allow for truly amazing games of dungeon delving and exploration. No feats, no rules-lawyers arguing about X rule, just you & your character against a very deadly and hostile dungeon that will eat you alive if you're not careful. Fun times, can't recommend this enough!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
OD&D Dungeons & Dragons Original Edition (0e)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/05/2019 17:28:53

TL;DR: The latest iteration of the Shadowrun universe, and arguably the best edition to date. I honestly couldn't finish the book, much less convince my group to play it, simply because the sheer volume of rules was too much.

So I picked up SR 5th edition during a sale and was somewhat disappointed. Yes, the game is at its core the same as always. You'll build a fictional shadowrunner that can either sling spells, hack into the internet, pilot remote controlled drones, or straps chrome to their body in order to become more machine than (meta)human. Nothing has been changed other than an overhaul of the rules from previous editions. At the same time, I didn't like it. Why? For one, I've made three attempts to read this book, and every time my eyes glazed over. This beast of a tome clocks in at over 500 pages, most of which are rules for various one off scenarios. The rules strive way too hard to simulate reality in a world that's anything but reality. Worse, you end up having to do a lot of actual math on the fly. For example, in order to resolve a character firing a gun in a burst or full auto, you first must calculate the recoil compensation you possess (which is your Strength attribute divided by 3), then you have to calculate the recoil penalty (subtract the total amount of bullets fired from your recoil compensation), then if that result is a negative number, subtract it from your dice pool which is a number of dice equal to your Quickness + relevant gun skill, however the max number of successes you can roll is limited at all times by your weapon's quality rating of X. Crystal clear? Yeah, I didn't think so. This has the effect of bogging the game down at times while the GM has to flip through the rules because the players invariably thought of doing something the GM hadn't quite planned for or considered. It's one thing to want to have clear-cut rules in order to prevent arguments at the game table (heaven knows D&D 5e is guilty of leaving some things up to each and every DM), however it is possible to overdo it and have rules that feel more like the game actively fights you than wants to cooperate. For example, in order to determine if your character is able to take one final action before they fall unconscious or die (a dead man's trigger), you literally have to go through a 3 step checklist, and if you fail to meet any of those 3 requirements then tough luck, you don't get to have a really cool moment of dramatic sacrifice before you're down for the count. Everything you love about Shadowrun is still present in this version, it's just become mired in a set of rules that just seem to work against you telling the kinds of stories you want to tell. One wonders what the point of overhauling SR to 5th edition is if the rules become so bloated that its in need of yet another overhaul.

In summary, get this if you're a die hard fan of Shadowrun, or if you're a simulationist freak that demands their games have rules for every single possible eventuality. The rest of us should either stick to previous editions of the game, or even take a look at the superb Shadowrun Anarchy RPG.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
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Dark Dungeons
Publisher: Gurbintroll Games
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/05/2019 16:32:46

Overall Dark Dungeons is a solid retro clone of the Rules Cyclopedia, although it's not 100% perfect (as with most retro clones). The author chose to incorporate a few of the optional rules in the RC and made them "canon", such as removing level caps for demihumans and allowing them to attain any level desired. The only offset to this is that a demihuman requires more XP to level up than a human. In all honesty this isn't that big of a deal breaker because let's be real, who used the level caps back in the day? Get Dark Dungeons if you want to play Rules Cyclopedia but refuse to pay the price-gougers on eBay.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Dungeons
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Shadowrun: Anarchy
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/05/2019 16:19:44

TL;DR: Shadowrun Anarchy is to Shadowrun 5th edition as Dungeon World is to D&D 5th edition. It's rules light and focuses more on the narrative and storytelling while still preserving everything that makes Shadowrun awesome, yet at the same time does have a couple flaws that fortunately aren't deal breakers (for most people anyways).

So I've been playing Shadowrun since 3rd edition was released back in the early 2000s, but after my gaming group grew up and we all went our separate ways (we were teenagers back then) I pretty much stopped paying attention to Shadowrun until just recently when I finally got around to playing SR Returns/Hong Kong/Dragonfall on Steam. I picked up this book and SR 5th edition on sale just to see what I'd been missing. Honestly, SR Anarchy is a pleasant surprise. For one, Anarchy trims down on a lot of the rules in order to focus more on the narrative and storytelling. Players (and GMs) will still roll pools of d6s to resolve various tests, and players have the option of creating cyberware-enhanced (meta)humans or magic users like usual. What really stood out to me was how organic and simple the game is while still retaining everything that made it cool. I've made no less than three (3) attempts to read through the actual SR 5th edition book, and my eyes glazed over every single time because the rules try way too hard to simulate reality (do you really need rules to detail exactly how much damage a rat or character is going to take if you drop them and a grenade into a small enclosed space? They're dead, end of story). With Anarchy, the rules are condensed and much easier to comprehend or teach to new players, which is a huge plus to me. Also, the rules give players a bit more control over the game through essentially plot points that can be used to make minor changes such as taking damage for another character or giving yourself a point of health or armor. In all honesty, if you're familiar with how Dungeon World plays, then you'll feel right at home with Anarchy. If you're wanting something with more rules and crunch, stick with SR 5th edition (good luck though, you'll be constantly trying to look up rules for situations such as how much reach a troll wielding a katana has over a human with a similar weapon and what benefits in combat this confers to the troll).

My only real gripe with Anarchy is that some things could be explained a bit better or in further detail. For example, the rules for creating Shadow Amps (those extra augmentations that give you an edge such as cyberware or magic spells) aren't 100% clearly explained and you're left either looking at the pre-gen characters to try and "reverse engineer" those things or looking at online forums for clarity. Once you get the idea behind how it works though, it's not too complicated to figure out or use. I did take off a star because of this though, the publisher could've put in a little more time and effort to really give Anarchy the polish it deserves before rushing it out the door. Another issue I had was regarding weapon ranges. Pistols by default are only good at short range and start getting penalties if used at medium and long range. The game defines short range as anything within melee range or at most a couple feet away, medium range is pretty much out to 100 feet, and long range is anything beyond that. So according to SR Anarchy, pistols are pretty much only useful in melee combat! This is easily remedied though by giving melee weapons and guns their own separate definitions of "range", such as defining "short range" for a pistol to be say anything 50 feet away or under etc. Still, some people will find this quite bizarre.

Overall, if you're like me and can't stand how overly complicated 5th edition Shadowrun is, or if you prefer more narrative-driven games and are okay with lighter rules that favor moving the story forward over rules crunch a la Dungeon World, then don't hesitate to get Anarchy, it's well worth the price!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Anarchy
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Advanced Labyrinth Lord (Dragon Cover)
Publisher: Goblinoid Games
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/29/2018 16:45:53

TL;DR: Advanced Labyrinth Lord is convenient and saves you the trouble of having to flip between the core rulebook and the Advanced Edition Companion book when running LL using the "advanced" rules. There's nothing new content-wise, Goblinoid Games is selling you LL + AEC condensed into one book which is a little disappointing.

Full Review: Advanced Labyrinth Lord is basically just the core Labyrinth Lord and Advanced Edition Companion rulebooks mashed into one single, easy-to-use tome. Honestly I can't help but wonder why Goblinoid didn't publish the game in this format to begin with instead of separating them into two different books. Or at least include the essential rules such as exploration, monster stats, and combat tables etc within the AEC so people didn't have to switch between the two books in order to play an "advanced" game of LL. I'm sure looking back Goblinoid Games realized that people would've much rather preferred to have just one book "to rule them all" which is why we got Advanced Labyrinth Lord.

As for new content, you won't find anything in Advanced Labyrinth Lord that isn't already present in LL or the AEC, and honestly I was a little disappointed which is why I took off a star. If you already own LL + AEC (which are free to download here on DTRPG) then you aren't getting anything new, just the convenience of not having to jump between two books when running an "advanced" game of LL. I felt like there could've been SOMETHING new that they could've added to make purchasing this book more worthwhile, such as maybe a few new classes (Barbarian and Sorcerer anyone?) or maybe some new player races/monsters/magic items etc. Instead, Advanced Labyrinth Lord's main selling point is just the convenience of having everything you need in a single book.

Gameplay-wise, Advanced Labyrinth Lord plays exactly the way you remember it. You'll roll 3d6 in order for stats and pick a race, then a class, roll for HP, then buy equipment and send your poor PC to an almost certain doom inside a dangerous labyrinth deep beneath the Earth. As far as layout goes, the book does a good job at separating the "basic" and "advanced" elements into their own sections, and carefully explains which sections to use depending on if you want a basic game or an advanced game. The "Advanced Hit Dice" option is still present, just in case you want your PCs to be a little more robust with their Hit Points. I felt like the book did a good job at explaining and making it clear which parts to use depending on if the GM is doing a basic or advanced game, however anyone not familiar with the differences between B/X and AD&D may want to carefully read the rules until they start to understand what the differences are.

Final Verdict: I would highly recommend this book to fans of LL and anyone wanting to run an old school AD&D game without having to try and decipher the mess of rules that is the 1st edition AD&D game (especially the "High Gygaxian Speech"). If you're happy playing just basic LL then you don't need this new book at all. Alternatively, if you're tired of carrying around both LL and AEC and want just one book with the option to play either basic or advanced rules then this is also for you. Lack of new content is disappointing given we're shelling out money yet again for a product that we already own, however it's not a deal breaker either.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Labyrinth Lord (Dragon Cover)
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The Solo Adventurer's Toolbox
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2018 00:17:27

TL;DR: If you're playing 5th edition D&D and wanting to try running a solo game, then you definitely SHOULD pick up this book!

I just found out about solo play D&D a month ago (incidentally this product showed up as a recommended title and I was intrigued and bought it on impulse), I honestly had no idea that it was possible to play D&D alone, yet here this product is! I'll spare you the details of the insanely creative campaign I was able to craft by using this product and simply say that it's awesome. I think what I enjoy the most is that the awesome adventures I have playing solo are easily ported over to the D&D campaign that I'm currently running. My players are none the wiser but thoroughly enjoying the campaign nonetheless!

As for downsides, this product is geared specifically towards 5th edition D&D. It's not terribly difficult to adapt to other editions of D&D (or other game systems), however I would recommend Mythic GM Emulator as it's specifically designed to be system agnostic whereas Solo Adventurer's Toolbox was built around 5th edition.

If you want to give solo games a try and are playing 5th edition D&D then by all means pick up this product, you'll be very satisfied!!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Solo Adventurer's Toolbox
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Mythic Game Master Emulator
Publisher: Word Mill
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2018 00:10:28

Ran a solo game of 1st edition AD&D using Mythic. Game went like this:

  1. Party enters dungeon, they're supposed to locate a bad villain and distract him long enough for the town militia to thwart his forces.
  2. Party encounters a heavy wooden door that's stuck (not locked just stuck). Dwarven fighter steps up and kicks down the door.
  3. Giant centipedes behind the door surprise the party and promptly swarm them, killing the party off with their venomous bite attacks within just 2 rounds.
  4. ??? TPK ???

Honestly, even though my entire party literally died within the first 20 minutes of playing, I still had a blast and am gearing up to run more games. Mythic is system agnostic but I like old school D&D which is why I chose to run it. This book is an absolute must-have for anyone serious about running solo games or GM-less games.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Game Master Emulator
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D&D Basic Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2018 19:11:32

The basic version of D&D, takes you all the way up to 3rd level. If you buy this book, definitely consider getting the Expert book as well (hence the name B/X or Basic/Expert). This book originally was meant to be an introduction into AD&D, however it was so successful that TSR decided to give "basic D&D" its own product line. Overall a great purchase if you're into OSR.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Basic Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2018 19:08:30

This system will take your basic D&D characters all the way to level 14. There is another version which will take your characters all the way to 36th level (see BECMI D&D or Rules Cyclopedia), however I have to say this version has its charms. Why, you ask? Because level 14 is high enough! It will take roughly 1.5-2 years of regular gaming for a party to hit max level, and let's be real, how many campaigns last much longer than that? Considering how even more modern D&D (like 5th edition) only goes up to 20th level, it's not that big of a deal. If you're looking for an OSR itch to scratch, definitely consider B/X!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
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Dungeon World
Publisher: Sage Kobold Productions
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2018 19:02:39

I won't waste time reviewing this product as it's been reviewed to death. Chances are, if you're here then you already know what Dungeon World is about. Let me say that if you're on the fence, DON'T HESITATE AND JUST BUY IT. The gameplay is very fun and satisfying, and if you get the bundle the GM's guide is just chock full of great info that can actually be used to enhance just about any other RPG system. Hands down a great buy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon World
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