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Pax Cthuliana
by Paul B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2017 12:54:51

Review originally posted at GeekNative.com:

If I could pin down the spark in Pax Cthuliana, it comes down to a combination of excellent handouts and the cult of personality.

At heart, Pax Cthuliana – a 72-pages investigation, written by Jarle Haktorson, with art and handouts by Joseph Diaz and Even V. Røssland – runs a fairly linear path from start to finish, branching occasionally before returning to a common path. I found the word node coming to mind – you have some clear indications of where you need to go and who you need to see. There’s no sand boxing going on here, despite setting the whole thing in the heart of London.

However, it could be a fine analogy to compare Pax Cthuliana to a well-organised tourist bus trip around the highlights of England’s capital city, combined with stops to meet the well-heeled and notable locals. I won’t spoil it by saying where and who crops up along the way, but they ground the journey. Knowing these people anchors the events and adds to the visceral reality of what goes on – no matter how fantastical.

Atmosphere Pax Cthuliana also harnesses the power of sound, coming with it’s own Pax Cthuliana soundtrack, if you have the environment to support it. The text also references a few choice tracks from commonly available soundtrack albums – specifically Interstellar and Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s a nice touch, especially where the dialogue runs alongside a track at the beginning of the investigation – a piece of exposition running in step with an orchestral crescendo.

Set in 1927, London provides a backdrop familiar from cinema and the small screen, so you shouldn’t struggle to get the atmosphere across. That sense of place and sense of connection pulls the players in deeper; that sense of involvement helps no end in carrying the game along at pace.

Along with that sense of pace, the relative linearity of the investigation and the well-crafted handouts mean that the publicity blurb isn’t lying when it claims you could run this in a session. I got halfway in a 2-hour slot – purely because my gaming group meets for only a very short time each week – and definitely expect to conclude in a second session. Anyone with a solid 4-hours game session and a focus to get the story told will definitely get the job done.

Engaging the Mythos I won’t delve into the story, as that would spoil it. I’ll use the blurb:

A sinister discovery is about to unveil itself in your dreams… an untold secret that will disturb the soul of even the most resilient investigator… The slumber of Cthulhu will soon come to an end… as will humanity.

Yeah – there’s something satisfying having the Big C involved.

The adventure benefits from players that have a passing familiarity with the Cthulhu Mythos, but there are personalities in place who could provide a little bit of guidance should that experience fall short. Indeed, along the way, those personalities provide key moments for the GM to ramp up the performance a bit, if desired, and could benefit from a few additional bits of prep; a top hat and a pipe wouldn’t go amiss, for example. You could even scatter the gaming table with some knick-knacks of suitable antiquity, like old leather-bound books, scraps of notepaper, old maps of London, tea-stained invoices…

As is, the adventure should be memorable. Pushing the boat out, you could get the players talking about this adventure for years to come.

Systemless or System Lite Running Pax Cthuliana requires no system. You can run this with nothing more than the book, the handouts and a group of players. I think, equally, you could play it with something that’s a light touch – like The Cthulhu Hack or Cthulhu Dark. A touch of crunch to add to the sense of uncertainty and to give the players the sense that you’re not simply throwing stuff at them.

Having a touch of system and preparing for a few more challenge encounters would alleviate a little of the sense of linearity – something supported in the game with optional Extended Scene that, in console gaming terms, feels like turning up the Difficulty Level a notch.

Format of Choice While you can get the game as a physical book, I can only see sense in that if you plan to run it again and again – which would suit you if you’re a GM who runs games at conventions and stores. In that instance, you will definitely be running it with a bit of system, because I’ve never seen any sense in running games at events unless the people playing can walk away with a hankering for a purchase! The PDF comes with thorough bookmarking in place to make it easy to get around the adventure while you’re running it.

While the handouts come in the main book, you can download them as a separate – and free – PDF. You can also get the official soundtrack to enhance the experience – or take the easier option and get access to a bunch of tracks through Even V. Røssland’s page on Soundcloud. I guess it depends on the quality of wifi at the gaming venue and how you want to support the publisher – you can get away with the Soundcloud option for free, or you can download the tracks and have them available offline by purchasing the official soundtrack.

In Conclusion Overall, I rate Pax Cthuliana as a genuinely enjoyable and engaging experience and well worth picking up. I can see myself using this as a convention standby, running it with or without system (I can see systemless working well if you have a gathering of slightly tired looking players who probably couldn’t handle crunch and mechanics). The handouts and soundtrack add something compelling and tactile that has the players scrambling at the table edge and craning over each other, desperate for the next clue and worrying what that rumbling crescendo in the background might mean for their character’s longevity.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pax Cthuliana
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Insight Fantasy Core Rules
by Rune H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2016 13:21:23

A fine specimen! the creator dwell in a powerful place.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Insight Fantasy Core Rules
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Insight RPG System Core Rulebook
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2015 05:40:04

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Insight RPG System Core Rulebook

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product- Insight RPG System Core Rulebook System- Insight RPG Producer- NEVR Price- $10 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/127515/Insight-RPG-System-Core-Rulebook?term=Insight+RPG TL; DR-An interesting, simple universal RPG system that's worth the intro price. 92 %

Basics- It's time for an every system RPG! The insight RPG system is a universal RPG system that uses a d10 based mechanic for all its rolls. Let's give this system a point by point break down.

Mechanics or Crunch- Like all good universal system RPGs this needs a few points for the mechanics. Let's break this up. Base mechanic- This system uses d10 for all its rolls. It's an attribute and skill point system that plays a bit like a combination between the Synthicide RPG I reviewed last time and 4th edition Legend of the Five Rings. Basically, you are six different stats that are similar to the standard D&D array most roleplaying gamers are comfortable with. This determines the number of dice you roll. Then, you have skill ranks that you use to determine your success range. If you are untrained and the skill is something simple like dodge (the basic don't-get-stabbed skill), then every dice you roll can only succeed on a 10. However, as you put points into the skill, the success range increases with two ranks meaning the success range is now a 8-10. If you roll a 1, it is a fumble and never good side effects can occur. So a person with four body control (think dexterity for D&D/Pathfinder) who is shooting a gun with four ranks in the skill will roll four dice and can succeed on a 7-10. Some skills are complex meaning they are a mixture of two skills. When that happens, on skill is instead added as a bonus to your dice pool instead of modifying the success range. It all works well and quickly after some adjustment.

Difficulty and Challenge rating-Insight builds on the base mechanic by adding two different side mechanics to the game. Difficulty modifies the success range in the opposite range of skill ranks. A difficulty 2 task with a character with four skill ranks would only succeed on a 9 or 10. Challenge is the number of successes needed for a task. Climbing an ice wall while being followed by a polar bear would be a challenge 3 task needing three success at whatever range and dice pool you have.

Combat-Like most RPGs, combat is a pretty central tenant of the game. What makes this game interesting is that two different mechanics are introduced for movement and range. One is a custom system that is a hybrid of theater of the mind miniature combat, while the other is a standard D&D/Pathfinder battle map mechanic. In the Insight system, players are different distances and these distances represent different areas of the map. A basics quick diagram of the combat would be a middle band of the combat area where melee combat happens with five different range bands extending on both sides of the melee middle ground. Both systems use an action point mechanics to determine how many actions you can do on your turn. Using a larger, heavy hitting weapon takes more action points to swing, while stabbing quickly with a small knife would be fewer points per attack. One final subject of combat is damage. Damage works by the attacker rolling his attack dice using the base mechanic of ability dice number and skill number determine success range while the defender rolls defense in exactly the same way with the defender subtracting successes from the attacker's success total. If the attacker still has successes after defense, the number of attacker successes remaining is multiplied by the weapons damage value and the defender subtracts his/her armor value from this damage. Damage also affects specific areas of the body as a random dice roll is used to determine hit location. Each location can only take so much damage before the character begins to take penalties to attacks, defense, and skill values.

Magic- Insight is a universal system set up to run your steampunk game to your high fantasy, future magic system. Magic is a complex skill with a separate pool of points a player spends to cast spells similar to magic points from the Final Fantasy games. It's also elemental based with different elements being separate skills and granting separate effects such as fire doing damage and spirit healing and summoning creatures. Like everything else, it's well presented with examples.

Summary-Overall, I liked this system. I do have a few problems with it. First and foremost is the way skill dice work. It's confusing to get a higher skill number but that lowers the acceptable dice values for a skill check. Now, if you can follow the basics and you play for over 30 minutes, you will be fine and completely understand how the game is played. But, it's a little new user unfriendly. I do like the addition of the two ways to set up combat. I don't think I'll use the Insight introduced distance system at my table, but it's a new, well designed system. In summary, Insight might not be a perfect system, but it's got things that I love like variable actions per turn with action points and successes determining damage. It's worth checking out if you get a chance. 4.25/5

Theme or Fluff- Full disclosure-I was not expecting any theme from the Insight RPG. Insight is a universal RPG, so most authors don't put the time in to make a world for the players to destroy. However, the last chapter of the book is a fantasy world to play in as well as an adventure. It might not be your favorite world, but this book does have a setting as well as a quick adventure. There is even a map of the place! Well done! 4.5/5

Execution- This book has my new favorite execution mechanic-icons for important subsections. The book understands that the system might not be as simple as say Pathfinder/D&D to get on your first read through. However, the writers just put an icon next to an example to grab the reader's eye. The book also does this for important rules, notes, and optional sections. It speeds up your reading and rereading when you can glance over a page and get the rules you need right away. Also, the book does a simple introduction before the first chapter. You get the game rules as an intro before the book even starts, and as a person who reads lots of RPGs, that really helps me know what I'm getting into. And, it's a great reference for advanced players who need a quick start. There is even art from several different RPG styles and the world in the last chapter has a map that I never expected to see. From something I always complain about, the book has well done spacing, layout, tables, and font again making this a pleasure to read. 5/5

Summary- This is a well done system that has more in it than I expected going in. The system is pretty simple if you are accustomed to RPGs. If you are not, then the skill system might be a bit much for some intro players. That's the only negative thing I can really say. It's got a story to it that I didn't expect to read, and the execution of the book makes it fun to read. Honestly the only thing I want from this RPG is more. And, NEVR has several extra PDF available to build on your favorite aspects of the system. You don't get the custom, out of the box fit for a specific setting you would if you get a system specific RPG, but with a little work this RPG could easily be the campaign setting/system you've been searching for. 92%



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Insight RPG System Core Rulebook
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Insight RPG System Core Rulebook
by Trond K. H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2014 00:43:35

Have tried this new generic rpg system twice since i picked up the paperback three weeks ago. Once in a horror setting, and the second in a western setting actually. Being used to Coc, D&d, vampire masquerade and all the established rpg systems. I have to say that this one i something all different and new to me. But fresh and exciting. It's a breath of fresh air to the gaming industry.

I would recommend this generic rpg system to both seasoned gamers and new ones alike.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Insight RPG System Core Rulebook
by Jimmy P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/20/2014 19:13:21

I yet have to playtest this, but I have already ordered my dead tree copy with Amazon. This should give you a hint about my appreciation of this new entry in the generic ruleset world.

What you get is a system adaptable for any time period (don't let the front cover "mislead" you. Overall, art is good and editing and layout very decent.

The system requires the player to roll a number of (d10s) dice equal to an attribute (1-5, 3 being the usual human level, 5 being the absolute highest human attribute). The higher the level of the skill being used, the easier it is to get a success. For example, you can only get a success on a 10 for an unknown skill. With more training, the success treshold becomes 9-10, 8-10, and so on.

The combat system proposes two types of battlemap; your usual tile based combat or their special battle map. I sense some inspiration from the one ring here, but remains a bit more crunchy.

Speaking of crunch, this one is medium crunch.

It is priced right and believe it is one of the best new rpg systems I got to read recently.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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