Game Design

New Characters Added to 1-48TACTIC Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 7 August 2017 - 9:00am
Baueda is getting down to crunch time for their 1-48TACTIC Kickstarter. They’re really close to funding, and they’re hoping that adding in a bunch more characters will get them across that finish line. There’s 6 new add-ons, total (3 each for the 101st American Airborne and the Germans), to help bulk up your forces. From […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Games Workshop Being Sued for $62.5 Million

Tabletop Gaming News - 7 August 2017 - 8:25am
Well, this is interesting. Many of you that know LGS owners know that there’s some… tension at times between shop owners and Games Workshop. That usually has to deal with required ordering numbers and minimum purchases and such. Well, one shop owner has decided that the way it’s done has gone too far. They’re suing […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Bellwether Games Releases Windup War

Tabletop Gaming News - 7 August 2017 - 8:00am
“Just wind ’em up and let ’em go!” That’s, in a way, what you’ll be doing in Windup War, a new game from Bellwether Games. In it, players will create forces of three units and plan out their moves in advance using different cards. The actions are revealed simultaneously, as everyone plays out their programs. […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Unity: CHARACTER CONTROLLER vs RIGIDBODY - by Niels Tiercelin Blogs - 7 August 2017 - 7:32am
A tutorial on the two approaches for coding movement in Unity: The Character Controller and the Rigidbody components, and their respective advantages.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Scenario Available For Mansions of Madness

Tabletop Gaming News - 7 August 2017 - 7:00am
Unfortunately, people go missing all the time. It’s a sad reality of life. But when people go missing around Arkham, there’s an extra layer of mystery associated with it. What sort of otherworldly horror is at work this time? That’s what players will have to figure out in Dark Reflections, a new DLC scenario for […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The User Interface of Lasting Legacy - by Miguel Friginal Blogs - 7 August 2017 - 6:44am
The latest video for Lasting Legacy, our genealogy meets Magic the Gathering game, shows some of the improvements to the user interface we made to the game in the past few weeks. Here you can read about some of the stuff I forgot to mention in the video.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Red Front - Warsaw Prototype and Improvements - by Tim Baker Blogs - 7 August 2017 - 6:44am
Work has started on the newest mission of Warsaw, as well as many improvements to overall game play.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Drop the Beat: All Walls Must Fall’s Procedural Music Mixer - by Isaac Ashdown Blogs - 7 August 2017 - 6:43am
Everything happens on the beat in All Walls Must Fall, which uses a custom, procedural music mixer to play the soundtrack of the nightclubs of Berlin 2089. Ben Prunty's track Synaesthetic is deconstructed to explain the process behind the game's music.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ready player two! Co op is a new big thing? - by Andrii Goncharuk Blogs - 7 August 2017 - 6:42am
Co op will be a new, must have thing, for a mid core audience. Hardcore audience already occupied with pure competitive and team competitive games, and it’s really hard to compete on that market, so next step is tackling a mid core audience.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Developing Mobile VR Games Pt2. - by Soma Szarka Blogs - 7 August 2017 - 6:41am
This is the second part of our journey to making VR games. Read about our experience with developing and publishing!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Chaos and Grey Knight Releases Available to Order From Games Workshop

Tabletop Gaming News - 7 August 2017 - 6:00am
The long-standing nemesis of the Space Marines, the forces of Chaos continually try to bring their foul gods to the real universe. Some of the staunchest anti-demon forces, the Grey Knights are always doing their best to stay ahead of them. Well, both sides of the conflict are getting new codices as well as releases. […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How To Make Death Matter

Gnome Stew - 7 August 2017 - 1:00am

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: a character dies. Maybe the dice weren’t in their favor, maybe they made a tactical error, maybe they grabbed that glowing skull even though it was so completely obvious it was an evil relic, oh my god, it could not have been more obvious if you’d lit it up with neon signs, but whatever. The character is dead. Your player is crestfallen, but one of the others claps them on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, dude. We have, like, 500,000 in the party bank. We’ll get you back tomorrow.”

 And bam, any tension is gone.

If you like this kind of game, great! You’re here to have fun, this is a fine way to keep your players happy, no problemo. But, if you want a game where death means something, where a character kicking the bucket makes an impact, it doesn’t work. Conversely, unless you want a really brutal campaign where dead means DEAD, you might want some way for a player to recover a beloved character. Losing someone who hasn’t finished out their story can be disappointing, even depressing, and not just for the player. If part of your game is structured around your player’s personal stories, changing things up can be a real headache.

So how do you walk the line? How, in worlds where resurrection is a sack of gold away, can you make death feel like something more than a commercial transaction? How do you give players a way to keep their character without removing the consequence?


The Orpheus Solution AKA Let’s Go a’Questin’

If you want something back from the land of the dead, you better be willing to work for it. I am always a fan of story solutions to mechanical problems, and this is the ultimate one, pointing the plot directly at the issue. It stays truest to the spirit of adventuring games: hunt the MacGuffin, enter the unknown, rescue the prince/ss. You can take the direct route, run with the characters making an incursion into the underworld, astral plane, god realm or what-have-you, but there are other ways too. Maybe there’s a ritual that can bring a person back, but it requires three rare jewels held by three dragons. Or the AI network that stores all memory could be convinced to release your friend, but it requires serious political acumen to negotiate as its representative in the galactic council. There’s the traditional game of chess. Or . . . maybe you need to track down someone else, someone of equivalent “value”, to take the character’s place.

This can be flipped. If your players are up for it, you could run this from the perspective of the recently deceased, spending a few sessions following their battle back to the world of the living. In both situations, this is a great place to create temporary characters, running with concepts the players like but would not have played in a longer game. In the previous example, the story of the dead PC, it would be really fun to put together a ghostly entourage, either a crew of helpful underworld denizens, or maybe other souls looking to make a break for it.  Just make sure your players don’t get so attached to their temps that you have to run another quest to recover them.

Do they freeze up in combat, remembering the bite of a blade in their heart? Oh Woe, Woe, Woe Is Them!

Should you and your players desire a solution that doesn’t derail the current plot, you may rely on personal drama. This approach doesn’t change a world’s given rules, but spends time with a PC’s reaction to their own death. Instead of letting them off with a shrug and a “wow, that was bad”, engage them in roleplay about how their character feels about their demise and return, how it affects their worldview going forward, how it changes behavior. If they were religious, did it have any impact on their personal philosophy? Do they freeze up in combat, remembering the bite of a blade in their heart? Or have night terrors featuring things they saw behind the veil? Maybe they didn’t want to come back, either at peace with the way they perished or happy in whatever version of an afterlife awaited them?

If your game isn’t all that heavy on the drama, there are still options for you. In many systems, dying has penalties to stats. Tinkering with these can up the ante, but can lead to awkward situations where characters are no longer on the same page challenge-wise. No one wants to feel like the odd man out, playing catch up, so think of other ways you can use physical consequences. Coming back might entail the character now sworn to serve something from beyond the grave, a plot hook you can deploy at your pleasure. An object or piece of equipment that means a lot to the character could be destroyed or lost.

And there are interpersonal consequences. All the weird feelings a character could have about their expiration could apply to the people around them. From party members who feel awkward to family trying to cash in an inheritance you technically gifted them, or a lover who tried to follow you into the dark, there’s lots of ways to use a PC’s relationships. Twist the knife, they’ll thank you. After crying.

 It might be difficult, it might mean dealing with some really shady characters, it might mean making deals you’d prefer not to make, but it can be done. It’s a Mad, Mad World

I’m prepping to run a game in the near future, hence the mulling on this problem. Likely, I’ll use elements of the other approaches, but I’ve settled on applying a little outside pressure to add both challenge and flavor to the game. In this setting, resurrection magic exists, but the culture of the area considers it highly taboo. Not only is it outlawed, it’s a matter of personal and religious morality, an affront against nature, the gods, and civilized ethics. The dead are dead, the living are living, and you do not cross that line. Of course, just because it’s reviled doesn’t mean you can’t find someone willing to do it. It might be difficult, it might mean dealing with some really shady characters, it might mean making deals you’d prefer not to make, but it can be done. The GM help you if people find out, however. Dire consequences await offenders.

This is only one example of the myriad ways one can employ the world at large as your enforcer. Culture, yes, but also technology, religion, biology, even geography are at your disposal. The fabric of space-time itself might start causing problems for your party, or it could be as simple as being trapped in a dungeon so deep that there’s no way you could get a body back in time. The benefits of this approach– and the reason I’ve chosen it for my upcoming game in particular– are how it helps reinforce a sense of place, a sign of a wider existence beyond the party’s whims. They aren’t the center of the universe, even if they’re the center of this story, and the universe doesn’t have to make things easy for them when they buck the system.  This can also work really well in conjunction with other approaches, too: for character drama, think about how difficult it’s going to be for lawful characters to seek out such forbidden magic. Even better, what if the resurrected PC is someone from the culture, and is utterly horrified to find out what the PCs have done on their behalf?


You Want How Much? Perhaps most simple, you can up the cost of the actual resurrection. Scaling the gold price to party resources keeps the sting but doesn’t single out the dead PC for their failure, hitting the wallets of the whole party (or a particularly generous member or two). The price could ask for something other than gold, as well, such as rare potions, magic items, holdings, favors. This is different from the questing approach in that you don’t have to spend as much time on the acquisition of these extras, either having them on hand or figuring out where to get them in the span of a single session. The focus is on getting the PC back as fast as possible. Word of warning, though: I’d be very careful using this approach if you think your players might harbor ill will for having to sacrifice so much on account of a character death. The last thing you want is to feel like the teacher holding everyone back because one kid was late. That way lies malcontent mistreatment of you or the player of the dead PC– or just makes things un-fun in general. This isn’t supposed to be a punishment, but a way to make dying have more meaning.


Run With It

And finally, what if you just . . . don’t?

Think about the consequences of living in a world where resurrection isn’t rare. So many questions spin out of that, so many chances for roleplay and worldbuilding– what does society look like when they know, for sure, what happens to you after you die? What about morality? If there’s an associated cost, is it inherent, or is it a chance to make a little profit? If the world we live in now is screwed up by the deep chasm between the haves and the have-nots, what would happen if those haves could afford immortality? Where does evolution fit in, once the impetus for genetic survival is removed?

So those are the ways I can think to make death meaningful in your game. What about you guys? Do you have any suggestions, or tales from the table to share?

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: GMing Made Easy

RPGNet - 7 August 2017 - 12:00am
Fuzzy optimism.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Twin-Stick Tacoma Pyre

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 6 August 2017 - 8:28pm

This week's longform article/video highlights include the making of Fullbright's Tacoma and Supergiant's Pyre, as well as a guide to the essential twin-stick shooters & more. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Twin-Stick Tacoma Pyre - by Simon Carless Blogs - 6 August 2017 - 8:21am
This week's longform article/video highlights include the making of Fullbright's Tacoma and Supergiant's Pyre, as well as a guide to the essential twin-stick shooters & more.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

In-Depth Look at the AI Behind Age of Rivals, A Strategy Card Game - by Vijay Myneni Blogs - 6 August 2017 - 7:36am
And in-depth look at how the AI makes decisions in Age of Rivals, a strategy card game. Our AI is considered to be pretty strong, so this could be useful to anyone approaching the challenge of building a competitive AI opponent for a strategy game.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Into the Breach: The Bard

New RPG Product Reviews - 5 August 2017 - 12:30pm
Publisher: Flying Pincushion Games
Rating: 5
An review

This installment of the "Into the Breach"-series clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

We begin, as often, with a variety of new archetypes, the first of which would be the chronicler of blades, who gains a modified proficiency list that includes all the dueling weapons and at 1st level, they get Weapon Focus in their choice of short sword, longsword or rapier - which is a bit odd: Why include exotic weapons in the proficiency-array and then don't allow for their choice via this class ability? 2nd level yields Dazzling Display and every 4 levels thereafter yield a bonus feat, chosen from a generally well-selected array, and uses class level as BAB for the prerequisite purposes. At first level, he similarly uses class level instead of his BAB when making an attack or combat maneuver attempt with a sword for which the archetype has Weapon Focus while wearing light armor and no shield heavier than a buckler. You have guessed where this goes by now, right? Yep, this guy is basically a spell-less bard. Instead of well-versed, the archetype gets +4 (untyped) to learn or remember features of blades, which is pretty circumstantial. Instead of versatile performance, the archetype receives venerable gambit, which is usable 1/day, +1/day at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter. A venerable gambit is a Knowledge (history, nobility or local) check - 1/2 the result is added as a competence bonus to atk or CMB when using a sword. The definition could be a bit clearer here and while the skill-check can be boosted very high, the daily limit keeps this in check - combined with the lack of spellcasting, I can see this work. All in all, a martial bard, most suitable for lower powered games (or even magic-less ones!).

The courtless marvel replaces inspire courage with summon nature's ally, increasing the spell that's duplicated iteration by +1 at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter - 5th level would allow for summon nature's ally III, for example. Speaking of which - at 5th level, several fey are added to the potentially called creatures, replacing lore master. And yes, the ability does have a caveat that prevents spamming it or stacking it via dismissing - no performance/summon-cycling and maintaining the creatures requires maintaining the performance. This is pretty interesting and even takes the item interaction into account. Instead of inspire greatness, 9th level provides the option to grant an ally the speed of a quickling, +1 ally affected for every 4 levels thereafter. Rules-wise, this increases all movements speeds and provides concealment.

No complaints. 12th level provides a stunning glance performance, including a caveat that prevents spamming it and a proper range and codification. At 15th level, inspire heroics is replaced with dance of fate: Choose an ally and a hostile creature within 60 ft of each other - if one is affected, so is the other. This is strategically interesting and pretty potent. Versatile performance is replaced with the fey theme, granting at 2nd and every 4 levels after that a spell known from the druid or ranger list. While the ranger-list is potent, it's the only thing I'd consider a bit wonky here. Well-versed is replaced by wild empathy at full level at 2nd level and 10th level provides a massive DC-improvement (1/4 class level, rounded down) to enchantment spells, but also makes the character more susceptible to the tricks of the fey. I really like this one. It has a strong theme, is pretty creative and while it *is* possible to poke small holes in some aspects of it, these won't usually come up in most games and are more something to be aware for the rules-savvy crowd. Still, really like this!

The fabulist employs Wisdom as the governing spellcasting attribute and gains an arcane bond with an animal as well as a domain from a limited list - and yes, they're cast as arcane spells, but loses countersong and well-versed. The "darker" performances are replaced with new ones - unfortunately, e.g. morsel of Wisdom is pretty nasty, allowing the fabulist to make an ally use his Wisdom modifier for all saves, ability checks and skill checks. while the performance is maintained...but the balance here would be that the performance cannot be started quickly and the fabulist can only grant one such bonus per performance, thus requiring cycling and a lot of action economy investment, rendering the power more moderate. Higher levels yield a performance-based planar ally and a capstone atonement, which is relatively fitting. Something that felt a bit weird: The archetype RAW gets a domain, but only specifies getting domain spells, which makes me think that the other crunchy bits are not gained...but I'm not sure there. The ability could be read either way.

The grotesque gets diminished spellcasting and replaces inspire courage with a powerful debuff. Dirge of doom can additionally be used as a variant that causes the sickened condition, rather than the shaken one, and similarly, 14th level yields a variant of frightening tune that can nauseate. The true unique selling point of the archetype, however, would be the disturbing acts - one is gained at 1st level and another one at 5th level and every 5 thereafter, excluding 20th, replacing bardic knowledge and well-versed. These take basically the classic Freakshow tropes and represent them as rules - and they are pretty potent: DR for being pierced by knives is solid, but the more intriguing ones would be the option to eat objects and regurgitate them, being able to initiate bardic performances as a free action after being hurt (and choosing to bleed profusely), the tricks are cool. Not all are perfect or equally potent or well-codified. The bite attack, I assume, would be primary as per default. Fire-spitting lacks a range and compared to it, the option to switch between multiple rings is much more potent. Similarly, the rules-language oscillates a bit, stumbling at basics, while getting, surprisingly, the option to be able to wear swarms and have them as unreliable quasi-pets pretty well done. I have a soft spot for the outcasts and this resonated very much with me - while not perfect, its blemishes can be easily fixed by a competent GM.

The jester is basically an Antagonize specialist who can use Perform (Dance) instead of Acrobatics for movement-related tricks and he also gets sneak attack and the evasions at higher levels instead of spellcasting. The option to use japes to render targets flat-footed on a failed save for multiple rounds needs some nerfing and an activation action, though. The lifeweaver, if the name was not ample indicator, would be the healing bard, who adds some condition-healing spells to his arsenal, while also gaining Lingering Performance (with a cap). The performances the archetype gains center on granting healing tricks to the performances -as well as the option to evenly divide damage among limited allies - which is very potent, but also cool. While the rules-language is very precise, it lies in the nature of this type of ability that it may present some issues to some groups...but at the same, it can make for a great "united we stand"-feeling among PCs and players, but also vastly enhances the value of DR and resistances. Pure amazing for some groups, broken for others...I'm divided on this one. Compared to that. the resistance-granting is less precise and fails to clarify the energies that qualify - does force count? Sonic? Channel energy at 1/2 class level can also be found. I like this archetype, but wish it was slightly more polished.

The matchmaker is really cool: He can choose and coach clients, use serenades to cause infatuation and use bardic performance to maintain matches between unlike beings. Very interesting and flavorful choice! The prop comic can only use Perform (comedy)-based masterpieces and gets diminished spellcasting...but at higher levels, he can designate targets as "lovely assistants", making them the butt of the joke (i.e. the one on the receiving end). At 2nd level and 5th, as well as every 3 levels thereafter, the archetype gets a schtick, which use Perform (Comedy) instead of CMB and have their saves governed by Cha ( 10 + 1/2 class level + Cha-mod), if applicable. Props need to be crafted, have a cost and a limited number of uses. They use bardic performance as a resource and are REALLY COOL. Use Battle Flatus, to force enemies to use immediate actions to move away from the fart-noise, interrupting combos. Use big-wig cigars to cloud yourself in smoke...or stick it in a foe's mouth and have it explode, using dirty tricks. These are creative, cool and really fun - and they include forcing pious characters to attack irreverent symbols. I love these. I seriously do. As an avid Joker-fan, I really want to see MORE of these. For me, this may well be the best archetype the Flying Pincushion crew has crafted so far. Complex, unique, cool. Seriously, one amazing archetype.

The rookery master gains a familiar (thrush or raven) which shares the performance round pool with the character - basically a pet-performance archetype. Simple, yet elegant. The Skirling Adept can use bardic performance to inflict low-range sonic damage via lethal whistles, gaining a familiar as well as the option to use totem spears more effectively and later shatter things or call lightning/wind wall - the archetype may not be as mechanically interesting, but its strong theme makes it a fun and flavorful option. The song bow is a sling specialist who can use slings as wind instruments, bows as fiddles. He can imbue sonic damage in his ammunition and may also fire ammo at empty squares and use it as origin of his performance. Big plus: The rules-language of the complex concept hits home. Sorry, I'll punch myself for that lame joke later...) At higher levels, allies share bonuses against targets hit by rallying shots and higher level options, we have sonic AoE-blasts - and yes, all of this is balanced and the archetype gets some custom spells added. Powerful, but damn cool option. The Squad Leader, finally, would be one of the more complex archetypes - he gets a tactician-like network of allies, the bound squad, and may use his urgent commands to allow for bonuses, teamwork feat sharing, grant additional AoOs - basically, this fellow represents a battle lord-ish commander. Potent and solid.

Now each of the Into the Breach-books has a PrC that aims to make a subpar class-combo worthwhile - this time around, the 5-level Holy Rhapsodist, with d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-Progression as well as 5/5th spellcasting progression does just that for the paladin and bard classes. The class enhances sonic damage of weapons wielded and smite may be turned into sonic damage that is more potent against evil targets. The PrC counts as paladin levels and bard levels for the purpose of lay on hands/mercy and bardic performance-progressions. These guys may expend lay on hands while performing to AoE heal and later even apply mercies and add buffs to allies. The 4th level ability should refer to character level, not class level, though - it's clear from context, but still a bit confusing. Oh, and woe to those that are on the receiving end of the smite of these guys...allies also get a damage boost...Powerful and interesting hybrid fusion PrC.

The mime is an alternate bard class that must be humanoid or a native outsider. The mime gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves. They do not get weapon proficiencies, but don't take penalties from using improvised weaponry. Their spellcasting is governed by Cha and something special...much like the whole class. Remember Final Fantasy 5 and 6? You see, the basic bardic performance of this class deals with just that: Copying the tricks of nearby allies. Attacks. Defense. Feints....a LOT of tricks can be used this way and the class manages to codify the tricks rather well. I do have a couple of questions here, though: The copycat performance is a standard action, but can be used on e.g. an ally full-attacking a foe - does this also grant a full attack to the mimic? If so, does it have to be executed against the same target as the copied action, if any? Apart from this ambiguity, the class feature is clear, which is pretty impressive. Beyond this copying of targets, the class gets a limited resource 3/day, +1/day at 3rd level and every 2 levels beyond 3rd. These allow for the emulation of class features, feats and even limited item use!! Interesting from an RPG point of view: Mimes have a vow of silence that can be a detriment and roleplaying challenge, but that also has its perks - mimic'd spells are Silent sans spell-level increase, for example. While not perfect (it also has e.g. a non-capitalized skill-reference), the mime is still by far the coolest and most creative alternate class the FPG-crew has made - I really like it. Unique, interesting and well worth making the GM-call regarding copycat.

The pdf then introduces us to fairy plays -these are basically single-use scrolls...but in awesome and fun. Each play has a variety of roles. Within 10 minutes, all roles (each of which must be filled by a different character) must try their task (usually, one has a high DC, the others lower DCs) - the fairy play then takes effect, depending on the number of successes. And yes, these make traveling troupes of even low-level actors potentially a threat. They have a tactical dimension and the more successes you can garner, the better the effects...or, well, actually, the effects differ in creative ways: 1 success: Rain of frogs (poisonous); 2: Make the frog's croaking hypnotic. 3: Veil the performers. Glowing, creepy pumpkins that can float and duplicate dancing lights (not italicized), an alarm-version (they shout "BEWARE!") and the option to detonate them in blinding bursts make this one rather interesting. While guidelines for more are provided, I wish we got more than the 3 provided - somewhere between quirky magic item and skill challenge, these are fun for the group and feel very much magical. I like them!

The pdf concludes with 7 magic items - the flying lion gong can accompany the character and rewards readied strikes for coordinated attacks. Hell's hurdy-gurdy brings out the debauchery in devils, while a mask can fortify against fear while using bardic performance, as long as the character incorporates buffoonish fear in the performance. Moonlight strings heal, while peddler's charumeras can instill hunger or thirst and sylph slippers enhance dances and may carry the dancer across pressure plates and even water. the star here, though, would be the siege carillon. Think Skaven bell. Think war organ. Smack in the middle between instrument and magical siege engine, this apocalyptic device can vastly enhance the power of the bard, his range and durations, charm targets and emit devastating bursts of apocalyptic sonic damage after tolling no less than 23 bells - 1 or 2 may be sounded per round as a move action. This is basically an amazing fight and had me come up with numerous scenarios on how I'll use this monster. It's basically a bardic fantasy tank!! Come on! How cool is that??


Editing and formatting have significantly improved over earlier installments in the series - they're now what I#d call good, bordering on very good. While some unfortunate hiccups and omissions can be found herein, the most significant improvement pertains rules-language, which now tackles significantly more complex concepts than ever before in the series, with greater precision than ever before in the series. Whatever the Flying Pincushion crew did here, I hope they'll continue to do it! Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard with really nice, well-chosen pictures, which I have not seen previously in other supplements. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I couldn't have asked for a more rewarding review to write after my real life-related, brief hiatus. Benjamin Wilkins, Frank Gori, Kris Newton, Jeff Harris (who also acted as editor) and David S. McCrae (who acted as lead developer as well) are back as well and finally make true on what I have always said in these reviews: There is potential here.

While this book began less than spectacular, slowly but surely the gems among the archetypes accumulated; while some have minor hiccups and require a GM-call, they are worth making that call. Instead of going for easy or simple routes, we have complex archetypes here - even the multi-class-y ones sport their unique playstyles and engines and many of them left me wanting more! Moreover, I have never seen an accumulation of this many cool variants for the bard before. The PrC is valid and potent, the alternate class amazing (if you do clarify copycat) - and when there are issues, they are cosmetic or stem from the archetypes aiming for the stars, for the high echelons, regarding their themes, ideas and leitmotifs. There is not a single option herein that I'd consider lame, redundant or filler.

Not all archetypes herein will be for every campaign, sure - but whether you prefer gritty low fantasy, high-powered hijinxs, whether you're looking for an option for a cleric-less game...the pdf offers a lot of really cool material. Oh, and then there are the no-filler, evocative magic items and the woefully short, few fairy plays, blending all-party kinda skill challenges with magic item use, while explaining how those traveling troupes not get eaten after the first bend in that nasty, monster-infested wilderness -so whip out that Skill Challenge Handbook (you do have that, right?), blend them and make more of them ASAP! (And yes, they work sans that book, but I like to unify my systems...)

In short: This is the first "Into the Breach"-review that will not feature a big "but" - this book has heart, passion and made me smile from ear to ear. As a person, I love this and consider it to be one of the best bard-supplements I've read. If you're confident in being able to make some rules-calls and judging which archetypes work for your game, then this is gold. However, as a reviewer, I have to remain fair, my own excitement none withstanding. There are a couple of instances where the ambitious, complex concepts could have used that one sentence to make them perfect, where the abilities needed a teeny bit more, where ranger spells should be available at higher levels, where skills are not capitalized. This is not perfect. That being said, I have always preferred slightly flawed, ambitious and cool concepts over lame cookie-cutters that are perfect. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars. If you want a perfect go-play book, round down; if you're looking for an inspiring toolkit full of joy and style, then round up. I can't award this my seal, but only due to its imperfections. Still, rounding down would be a disservice to the obvious passion, care and heart's blood that went into this. Did I mention the apocalyptic bardic battle tank?? Seriously, if you haven't checked out the Flying Pincushion's work, give this a shot. Now excuse me, I need to plan on which of my villains I'll put on that tank...

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Review Roundup

Tabletop Gaming News - 5 August 2017 - 11:00am
Woo! Saturday! Woo! I’ve… got nothing, really. I’m about to head over to a friend’s place to game. So let’s just dive into the reviews, shall we? We shall. This week, we have: Wordstacker, Wordsy, Dragoon, Founders of Gloomhaven, Quest for the Antidote, Tokaido, Marvel Legendary: Noir, Quiver, Thunderbirds, Beasts of Balance, Stop Thief!, Zoo […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

A Dog’s Life Board Game Coming To Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 4 August 2017 - 3:00pm
If I could have any pet, it’d be a group of polar bears (apparently technically called “a celebration“). Since that’s probably not ever going to be a possibility, I’ll just stick with dogs. I know many of my friends are also “dog people” and so they will be interested to know about this new game […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Japanime Games Announces Tanto Cuore: Winter Romance Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 4 August 2017 - 2:00pm
Japanime Games has announced that Tanto Cuore, their deck-building game of budding relationships, is getting a new expansion. Winter Romance looks to add whole new dynamics to the game, including butlers. They also have new interactive game mechanics they’re bringing in. And, as you’d expect, the Kickstarter will have all manner of exclusives and extras […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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