I always get far more invitations to support and review projects that I can possibly manage to satisfy. Every now and then, I bundle as many of them as I can into a goody roundup to inform those who might be interested in backing them of what’s going on. Today, I have 10 items to review for you:
- Satanic Panic
- Brother’s Keeper and Olympus Inc.
- A Touch Of Class
- The Snake’s Heart – A Lost Age Adventure
- Kobold Guide To Gamemastering
- Aces And Eights Reloaded
- The Forest Kingdom Campaign Compendium
- Hershey Family Support Bundle
and, last but far from least,
- Journey To Ragnarök: A Norse Mythology Adventure for 5e
There won’t be enough room or time to give any of these the attention that they deserve, but deadlines wait for no man.
So, let’s dive right in…
I was actually invited to test-drive the alpha version of this tool, which is a cloud-based map-maker and campaign manager with a lot of nifty-sounding tricks up its sleeve. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to clear enough time from a busy schedule in order to take advantage the offer.
Picture this in your mind: you create a map. You create a dungeon or settlement and place it within that map. You create your GMs notes for each room within that dungeon settlement. You add appropriate window dressings to the area, and room descriptive text is automatically generated to match. Each prop comes with its own appropriate ambient soundtrack, with volume levels appropriate to proximity – a fire is closer if you are right next to it. You add NPCs. You add character notes. You upload any illustrations you want.
In play, when you indicate that the PCs have reached the dungeon location, the GM notes automatically come up. When the PCs enter a room, your notes and any NPC details needed pop up, and the ambient soundtrack begins to play, and the PCs see a rendering of what their characters can see and no more. When they move to another room, everything updates to show that room’s contents.
Ditto treasures – allocate one to a PC’s record and there will always be a link from that PC to the details of the item, including where it was found and when.
So far, so good.
Now imagine that everything is logged in a database so that you can access any of the NPCs that you’ve created for your game from anywhere in the game world.
Next, imagine that all of this is fully and intuitively customizable using a simplified photoshop-like interface. Imagine that you can download all the text and maps into a customized PDF for offline reference. And finally, imagine that all of this is fully collaborative – if you create a custom prop or illustration for your dungeon, others can access it, and (at the same time), you can access what they have created for your own use.
That’s what DungeonFog promises, as I understand it. Well, most of what they promise – there are extras and nuances that I haven’t mentioned, like Roll20 compatibility.
As of this writing, the Kickstarter Campaign has raised €30,863 of a €15,000 target and still has 6 days to go.
That’s an impressive first-time-at-bat result! By the time you read this, that will be down to about 4 days, so don’t shilly-shally if you’re interested in becoming a backer.
I’m honestly not sure what to make of this project. It’s an RPG set in a fictional 1970s and 1980s where everything people said about tabletop gaming during that time was true – it was turning people into monsters and bringing demonic forces into the world. The PCs are government agents tasked with containing, controlling, and eliminating the spread of tabletop gaming and have to work as a team for the common purpose of containing, controlling, and eliminating the threats to the world at large – all while keeping the truth from the public, lest a panic ensue.
The game will be a 200-page hardcover book with everything needed for a GM and 2-6 players. It is designed so that it can be played as a traditional RPG campaign or can be played in an episodic fashion with different numbers and arrangements of players.
My ambivalence has nothing to do with the game mechanics (which sound interesting) or the creator (who seems innovative and friendly). It’s the premise. Like many of those of my vintage, I lived through the moral panic surrounding D&D and RPGs in general during the 1970s and 80s, and did everything in my power to debunk the abject nonsense of which gamers were accused. While I can appreciate the expression of ultimate victory over the wowsers (and the irony) of an RPG about that period, and the twist of making it all true, the subject still strikes too close to home for me.
However, there is clear evidence that others do not feel this discomfort. As of this writing, $30,469 had been raised against a target of $10,000. The kickstarter has closed, but there is is a link there that will permit you to preorder a copy, which ill grant you all the same benefits of backing the kickstarter, you will get your book and/or PDF with the rest of the backers, and you get access to the original print run of the game. How long that offer remains valid is unknown, so, once again, if you want to get in on the act at the 13th hour, don’t mess around. Click – and click now!
Brother’s Keeper and Olympus Inc.
This is an adventure created for the Olympus Inc. setting. “Your team is hired by your Shadow to assault a warehouse owned by the Hope Builders Corporation, a subsidiary of The Peace Initiative. Inside the warehouse is some sort of new weapon, but your Shadow isn’t sure what it is. Your job is to recover the weapon and anything else of interest you find in the warehouse. If you can’t capture the weapon, you need to destroy it. What could possibly go wrong?”
Even knowing nothing about the setting, I would find that description intriguing. Certainly there are ideas there that could be molded and adapted to just about any Sci-Fi or Superhero RPG. Rework the ‘new weapon’ and its nature to have a magical basis, and it could work in a D&D setting, too.
This isn’t a kickstarter, it’s ready for sale and download from DriveThruRPG right now for just $2.
It says that in order to play it, you will need the Olympus Inc Game Setting, which “combines the vibe of the cyberpunk genre with modern espionage and urban fantasy” to depict a world in which “modern-day demigods and mythical creatures battle in the shadows for the future of our world.”
I’m not sure that this is necessarily accurate if you intend to revamp the adventure to work in some other game setting, but even if that is the case, the games setting is crawling with great ideas. Deities running Cyberpunk-style Corporations? Love it!
Right now, you can get the PDF for $20 or you can get it for free by buying one of the Print-on-demand versions ($30 and $50 respectively). I don’t know about anyone else but I can clearly see the difference between the two in the examples provided, and would pay the extra $20 without hesitation if I had it. You may feel otherwise – but isn’t it good to have options?
A Touch Of Class
This is a 70-page softcover book with sumptuous illustrations, always a plus in my book. It contains 7 new classes for D&D 5e, revised and updated from their original appearance in EN5ider, the 5th Edition Patreon by Enworld. “Each is a full class, along with archetypes; plus the collection includes a selection of supporting feats, spells, items, backgrounds, and monsters to help make the most from them.”
I’m sure that any 5e GM is already giving serious thought to acquiring this product, even if they didn’t know it existed until a few seconds ago. But that’s not all you can get. One of the backer tiers is called “The Full Monty” and it not only gets you the paperback, it gets you a bundle of 19 mini-supplements in PDF format that, between them, offer another 45 new subclasses! Or you can pick the “Electronic Delight” pledge level, which gives you everything in PDF format – including those 19 mini-supplements.
But even if you don’t want them to use as classes, there are plenty of extremely mineable ideas for fantasy adventures in general from the concepts provided in those 19 mini-supplements.
One final set of numbers speaks volumes. Against a £1,000 goal, a total of £48,218 has so far been pledged by 1,713 backers, more than a third of whom have gone for the “Full Monty” bundle, and almost another third of whom have chosen the “Electronic Delight” bundle. Those are the sort of numbers that you expect at the end of a really successful Kickstarter campaign, but (as of right now), this one still have sixteen days to go!
In fact, the project was fully-funded in just under an hour. That short a time-span means that those who knew Enworld, and what to expect from the book, were overwhelmingly on-board in such numbers that it has to be considered a resounding vote of confidence!
This is a campaign without stretch goals, which is a little unusual. But my way of thinking is this: those 19 mini-supplements are the stretch goals, accessible at the incredibly-generous fundraising target of $0…
Player Tools is a smartphone App with functions designed for Card and Board=gamers, Miniatures Wargamers, RPG players and GMs, LARP players, and more. In fact, there are around 70 functions bundled into the app by my count! This is being provided by a Polish Company who usually produces software applications for hospitals, schools and companies. Now, while schools might be more forgiving, selling to corporate customers and hospitals demands a high standard of reliability and capacity for delivering on promises.
I can only assume that this factor has been overlooked, or not enough people have heard about this fundraising campaign, because at the current time they have received no backing whatsoever. Personally, I found the candid admission of where potential shortcomings (Polish-to-English translation) existed to be refreshingly honest, and liked that there was a very affordable stretch goal designed to overcome the potential liability. And, in any event, the English used on the fundraising page is quite passable.
Perhaps the problem has been with their marketing outreach; the contact message to Campaign Mastery talked about the LARP aspects of the app, and I came close to ignoring the rest of it as irrelevant when I read that. I find myself wondering how many RPG sites were contacted with similar messages who consequently overlooked the message?
Or perhaps it’s that the plan is for this to be a free app that will fund itself through advertising? Or that the campaign is being conducted through Indigogo and not the much better-known (for RPG products) Kickstarter?
Whatever the cause, even if you think they are being overambitious, I think they deserve better than the current lack of backing.
So click on the image above and at least give the programmer a shot at entering the RPG market. You still have a month.
The Snake’s Heart – A Lost Age Adventure
Two years (plus a month or so) ago, I reviewed the original version of “The Snake’s Heart” by Wild Games Adventures in collaboration with Moebius Adventures in A Serpentine Slithering To Adventure. That review ultimately decided that there was a lot of good material, and it had great potential, but it wasn’t quite ready-to-run in a number of respects.
So, now it’s back, in a greatly expanded and revised version, this time for the Mazes & Perils game system – which, as it happens, is another system I don’t know at all. Be that as it may, since the comments I offered the first time around were all centered around holes where additional content was required, this revised-and-expanded version definitely has my interest, and it should have the attention of every fantasy GM out there.
It’s gone from 4500 words (slightly smaller than the average article here at Campaign Mastery) to 12,500 words. New maps, new artwork, stats revised to suit the new game system. The only downside is that the revised version costs more than the original – $8.99 for the PDF, $12.99 for the B&W softcover, $13.99 for both. If the problems I pointed out in my original review have been fixed, it’s definitely worth it. And from what I can see from the preview, they have been.
The Kobold Guide To Gamemastering
There might not be any content from Campaign Mastery included, but nevertheless, this should interest anyone who reads this blog even occasionally. 21 essays from experts ranging from old-hand experts like Keith Baker and Wolfgang Baur to hot newcomers to the professional RPG-writer ranks like ‘Iron GM’ Dan Clark, covering topics as diverse as solo campaigns, shy players, digital distractions, and making rulings on the fly. $9.99 for the PDF or $19.99 for a print copy.
Elven High Magic
While I’m in the vicinity, there’s another Kobold Press product that I absolutely couldn’t not mention.
“Legends say that the elves of ancient times could enchant entire cities, change fate, and even reshape worlds. These feats are unheard of today, and most non-elves believe elven high magic has died out. But this power still exists, as a closely guarded secret practiced only by the elves and their shadow fey relatives.”
This is a PDF-only product that ticks a lot of D&D-related boxes for me – so many so that I want a copy even though it’s for 5e and I’m not currently playing that generation of the rules. Any lover of big-concept fantasy should add this to their collection.
And it’s only $2.99!
Aces & Eights Reloaded
I have to admit that I’m probably the wrong person to review this product. I’ve never been a big fan of the Western genre – I can count on one hand the number of Western movies that I’ve enjoyed over the years and still have fingers left over. Still, when western motifs get translated into another genre I don’t have a problem with them. There are parallels between the western genre and action-adventure, and buddy-cop movies, and some sci-fi, and even some of the best courtroom drama, and more, and the connections between the wild west and the superhero and pulp genres are undeniable.
So I’m not coming at this as a genre purist, but as someone whose attention is slightly off to one side. An Olympian perspective without a great deal of genre investment.
The original Aces & Eights was something of a surprise smash for Kenzerco, whose primary focus was always Hackmaster. It sold out, winning a number of awards along the way, and so did a number of reprints and supplements; for quite some time the only way to buy it was in digital format. A number of people began to ask when it would next be reprinted – without getting a real answer. Last month’s Knights Of The Dinner Table finally revealed the answer, with the announcement of Aces & Eights Reloaded, a fully revised and updated edition to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the original.
The game mechanics – those that are revealed by the Kickstarter – look good. I’ve championed the notion of using non-dice randomization mechanics for quite a while – a deck of cards is essentially a d52, but with additional ways of combining results based on suits and royal cards and runs and combinations – and so the hit location system (displayed on the Kickstarter page) was of immediate interest.
In terms of production values, Aces and Eights reloaded looks to be as good as you can get. Embossed leather looks great, and always has!
It’s also interesting to note that this is Kenzerco’s first Kickstarter campaign. In combination with a product of proven popularity, it must have been very hard to determine reasonable expectations and stretch goals. At the same time, though, the fact that this product has proven popularity makes this a good choice for ‘getting your feet wet’ in the fundraising arena. Despite setting what they describe as ‘aggressive’ targets, the fact is that with 33 days still to go, they have pledges of almost $50,000 against a $20,000 initial target. That means that four stretch goals have been ticked off already, and the fifth is teetering on the edge.
Kenzerco have dealt a winning hand with this Kickstarter, and I doubt it will be their last.
The Forest Kingdom Campaign Compendium for Pathfinder and 5E
Forests are one of those iconic terrains that inhabit virtually every campaign. Places of atmosphere, of nature, of wonder and magic. This is an encyclopedic game supplement aimed at expanding the potential of the terrain to the point where it can sustain an entire campaign. Content includes two complete wilderness adventures, over 50 new spells and magic items, three dozen new character options, including new sorcerer bloodlines, cavalier orders, feats, archetypes, and more, over 30 new fey and forest monsters, eight ready-to-play pregenerated characters with detailed histories and personalities, perfect as allies, rivals, or PCs or NPCs, and rules for fey-themed haunts and integrating fey into a campaign.
This is a supplement that I wish I’d had access to back when I was creating my Shards Of Divinity campaign, which was heavily fey-themed.
It starts by combining the entire River Kings product line from Legendary Games into a single volume, edited and polished and in many cases, available in print for the first time.
I’ve always been a fan of lavish illustrations, and those presented as samples from the compendium sit comfortably alongside the best I’ve ever seen, so production values are right up there.
So far, then, that’s about 240 pages of material. But then come the stretch goals, which all take the form of additional inclusions in the sourcebook. A huge number – about ten – of these have already unlocked, and more are within reach. They have raised more than $25000 against an initial funding target of $4000. But that’s because the clock is about to run out on this project – by the time this sees print, there will be only three or four days left. So if this appeals to you, pledge quickly!
I also want to call attention to a couple of add-ons with this fundraiser. The Kingdoms supplement and the Gothic Campaign Compendium will both be of interest to a great many GMs. Be quick, this fundraiser is about to expire.
Hershey Family Support Bundle
As you can read to the right, this is a bundle that has been put together to assist the funding of medical treatments for the wife of Rick Hershey. Hershey is a graphic designer and artist who has contributed to numerous projects, including Olympus Inc, which I covered earlier in this roundup. The bundle, from several publishers, has a total value of over $230 and costs only $20.
- 5th Edition Racial Options – Aasimar from Fat Goblin Games,
- An Average Wild West Town from Fabled Environments
- Baleful Strix — A Free Field Guide from Rising Phoenix Games,
- Claustrophobia! — When Flamingos Attack from Rising Phoenix Games,
- Deck O’ Names – Modern from Tabletop Adventures, LLC,
- Deck O’ Names – Modern Generator from Tabletop Adventures, LLC,
- DNA – The Buried Zikurat Pathfinder Adventure from Fat Goblin Games,
- Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (PRD-Only) from Echelon Game Design,
- Echelon Reference Series: Clerics (PRD Only) from Echelon Game Design,
- Modern Item Cards from Fabled Environments,
- Operation Lightning from Fabled Environments,
- Fat Goblin Travel Guide to Epiphany’s Wayside Inn from Fat Goblin Games,
- Fehr’s Ethnology Complete from Purple Duck Games
- HeroGridz – Sewers – Core Set from Rising Phoenix Games,
- High School Horrors Figure Flats from Fabled Environments,
- Kamarathin: Kingdom of Tursh from D3 Adventures,
- Lands of Porphyra Campaign Setting (PFRPG) from Purple Duck Games,
- Letters from the Flaming Crab: Inspired by Heraldry from Flaming Crab Games,
- Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies from Flaming Crab Games,
- Lunatic Labyrinth (Revised) from Rising Phoenix Games,
- Monsters of Porphyra from Purple Duck Games,
- NPC Strategy Cards from Rising Phoenix Games,
- Shadows over Vathak: Player’s Guide to Vathak from Fat Goblin Games,
- The Gamemaster’s Worldbuilding Journal from Fat Goblin Games,
- The Lost Temple of Forgotten Evil (Pathfinder) from Dark Naga Adventures,
- The Pewter Tankard Tavern from Rising Phoenix Games,
- Trail of the Apprentice: The Bandit’s Cave (5E) from Legendary Games,
- Trail of the Apprentice: The Bandit’s Cave (Pathfinder) from Legendary Games,
- vs. Ghosts from Fat Goblin Games,
- vs. Stranger Stuff from Fat Goblin Games,
- [M&M3e] The Great Game from Fainting Goat Games.
That’s 31 items, far too many to try describing individually. As with any such bundle, there will be contents that appeal to a given GM and things that don’t, but it doesn’t take too many ‘yes’ votes to get over the $20 price tag, and on top of that there is the knowledge that you are contributing to a good cause. There are certainly items on the list that interest me!
How long this bundle will be available, I don’t know – but purchasing sooner rather than later is always going to be of greater comfort to the family of the recipient. So take advantage of it while it lasts!
Journey To Ragnerok
There’s something about the Norse Mythology that appeals to RPG gamers. You can fit it directly into Superheros and Fantasy; you can tweak it just a little to fit it into Pulp; you can tweak it a little more and it will work in Westerns, or in Sci-Fi. It’s something close to universal. This takes a compendium approach to the mythology, dividing the nine worlds up into nine sandboxed supplements and then binding them together back into a hardcover book. Throw in an adventure, new archetypes, a new character class, and a focus on Runic Magic.
There’s so much of interest in this book – even though I don’t currently run or play in a 5e campaign – that this game supplement is something that I definitely intend to back.
The art looks great, so a particularly attractive add-on is the artbook. There’s more than 15 years of research and development encapsulated in this game supplement, and that provides the depth that the subject really requires. I have to admit that I’m struggling at this point to put down in words exactly how much, and why, this supplement excites me.
Unusually, this is an Italian project that will be presented in both Italian and English versions. Also unusually, shipping costs will be worked out after the campaign and costs invoiced separately. So be aware that your final commitment will be higher than whatever you pledge, and build that into your forward budgets. They have provided estimates at the bottom of the campaign page.
This campaign has so far raised €26,607 in pledges against an initial goal of €5,000, and there are still 16 days to go.
Hopefully, there’s something above for everyone. There’s a lot of variety – content for 5e, for Pathfinder, for Savage Worlds, and more. There are some great projects included. But several of them have only a few days left to run, so move quickly.