DriveThruComics.com
Find Category
 Publisher Info







Back
Other comments left by this customer:
He Who Laughs Last
Publisher: Weird 8
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/16/2017 11:22:10

Great adventure with good hand-outs!

My two concerns, that barr the 5:th star rating, is (SPOILER!) 1) why there was a need to find a glass dagger, and 2) what really happened to the comedian who turned himself in only to vanish. After all, the retired detective ran over one Laughter-spreading comedian with his car, so that seemed to do the trick, so why go about a silly ritualistic dagger made of glass..? And as for the old comedian; what happens to Rafe when his protegés don't follow through... will they start to age, or what? Continuing to be a drain on his magic points, or something, because otherwise there's really nothing restricting him to turn everyone in LA into a comedian..?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
He Who Laughs Last
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruComics.com Order

Crime Scene: SUPERNATURAL
Publisher: Greywood Publishing
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/07/2017 14:00:01

This is a sourcebook concerned with how the police would, presumably, investigate crimes with an occult angle. I wouldn't say "supernatural", though, as it centers more on "ritualistic" aspects spotted at a crime scene, linking the crime to an occult methodology. There is also a rather simple adventure scenario ("Murder by Numbers") included which takes the Investigators through the basic procedures in collecting evidence and cross-referencing phone numbers.

It's an OK book with decent artwork. With a stronger occult angle (for instance how these police procedures regarding bites/ claw marks connect to monster taxonomy, how the investigative process deals with a possible haunting, and how witch curses may upset the cause- effect of the material world and so be identified by the inherent probability of coincidences) it would have been more useful for Horror rpg GM:s.

As for fact checking, on page 5 this book boldly asserts that "the majority of all crimes" are impressively "solved" within 24 hours. From the context it appears that "crimes" here refers to not only violent crimes, but also petty vandalism. With "solved" I would out of courtesy assume the author means "solved from a police perspective in the sense that the guilty party has been identified/apprehended", as the court procedings are likely to drag on for months (or even years) after a serial killing until a conviction is in and the case is legally solved. To a Swede, those figures are still baffling to say the least as, for instance, less than 2% of all burglaries are ever solved on this side of the Atlantic, let alone within 24 hours. However, maybe the author simply means that "Of the crimes who are ever solved, the majority is solved within 24 hours, so time is of the essence when conducting an investigation"?

Further regarding ambiguous claims in the book, I also find the assertion that police officers are trained ("courses and seminars") to distinguish killings carried out by irrational killers a bit of a stretch. As the lack of rationality would make the motive more or less moot and change the basics of an investigation that may seem like a crucial question. However, a famous professor in criminology (Leif GW Persson) once alleged that "motives are just the graving on top", and went on to liken profilers with "mind readers". According to him at least, speculation on a possible motive should never be allowed to influence the allocation of police resources or its list of suspects. Hard evidence should always determine the investigative process rather than pseudo-scientific and vain attempts to peer into the psychology of a criminal. Facts, not hunches, so to speak. At least as long you'd stick to mundane crimes.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Crime Scene: SUPERNATURAL
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruComics.com Order

Shadows of Midnight: West Milford, 4th Edition
Publisher: Alternate Realities Publications
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 08:02:58

Let's start with stating that this book (4:th edition) is poorly structured and directly confusing at parts from a GM perspective. The heading "Shadows of Midnight", for starters, features on the top of every page in a font very similar to a headline, which from an art direction constitutes an eye-sore. Fact is, the fonts of all sections are lesss than clear as to whether one is looking at a new chapter headline or a subheader for a section part of the same chapter. As an editor, I would have required the layout to be much clearer so that each locale was provided its specific chapter and headline (with GPS coordinates within parenthesis), and that the various "scenarios" / plot hooks at the end of each chapter should be graphically kept aside from the authentic descriptive texts of the chapter (perhaps by employing a black border or putting the plot hooks writing in italics?).

The product would also have benefitted from devoting the first and bigger part of every chapter to the description of existing facts and non-debunked rumours. This is the background a GM will use, after all. Then at the end of the chapter, presumably in a box clearly marked "Debunked stuff", a short listing of other rumours and on what grounds (using what methods) the author has been able to eliminate these as fake. Don't devote time and space in a background book to describe things in detail that you'll in the end write off anyway. This separation of credible rumours and outright misconceptions would make the chapters more clear and relevant.

To further illustrate this need to be relevant, on pages 46-54 there is a totally redundant section on historical serial killers in the greater area. There are no supernatural explanations to these, and the killers are already behind bars/ executed/ dead from old age. So I can't see what help they would serve a horror GM? In a similarly ill thought through section, on pages 59-61 there is a text on a film producer who adopted a couple of tigers from a closed down animal park and took these to Maryland. What does that film producer have to do with West Milford, New Jersey? That pointless chronicle about the tigers just created an unmotivated break in the rather interesting text between the first two animal attacks and the final mauling that closed down the animal park. It's poor use of text disposition, and neither historical serial killers nor tigers transported to Maryland in the 70's offer a modern day horror GM anything useful. For a 5:th edition, these asides should be deleted (and so should the wikipedia like listing of historical celebrities who stayed at a resort hotel).

The author should also be able to do better with the "scenarios" / plot hooks. For instance, what caused that Navy jet to crash when it flew past the cemetary... maybe a ghost? Is there a taped conversation with the two Navy pilots moments before the crash? And what happened to the two Navy pilots after the accident... were they escorted off the crash site by MP:s, never to be seen again and officially reported as transferred to the Vietnam and KIA after leaving typed military stationary letters to their families (letters obviously written on the same typewriter)? And the so called scenario "Environmental damage" (page 70) is just a copy-paste of the section "Xtreme Habitat" (page 67) without any hook at all.

Finally, there isn't a proper overview map of the West Milford area (something that should probably be found on the inside front cover). The maps / photos at the end (pages 139-144) are quite insufficient in getting the whereabouth and the proximities between the different locales. And speaking of these locales, they're sometimes obscured under a creatively named headline. In all we're talking about the following 18 places in West Milford; 1) the razed foundations of the radon houses of Demon's Alley, 2) the druid-y Iron Furnace, 3) the Clinton Falls Bridge with its penny throwing ghost, 4) The flooded Village of Clinton periodically rising from the lake during Indian summers, 5) the Nudist Colony, 6) the demolished Cross Castle with rumours of feral albino cannibals, 7) the Boat Ramp with disappearing motorists, 8) the Deadman's Curve with a crouching ghost, 9) the helpful ranger ghost infested Terrace Pond, 10) the bitter, pregnant rock throwing ghost infested Buckabear Pond, 11) the closed Jungle Habitat (incl Rape Hill) with reported surviving and cross breeding exotic animals, 12) the eerie Steely Grove monument, 13) the Navy Jet crash site by the old cemetary in the bog, 14) the abandoned once ice transporting Macopin railway coaches, 15) the old Idylease hotel resort, 16) the wiccan camp site Stone Living Room, 17) the delapidated fairground Fairy Tale Forest slowly being converted into a storage unit, and 18) the old Long Pond Ironworks.

Of course, the meticulous research is a redeeming feature of this product.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows of Midnight: West Milford, 4th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruComics.com Order

Creator Reply:
Mr. Gerdås, There is this thing called Google Maps, perhaps you have heard of it? Okay, okay, I apologize for being snippy with that. Honestly, there really is no decent way to include a reasonable map of West Milford. For starters, it is one of the largest municipalities in New Jersey. There would literally be no useful detail on an 8x10 map. Maybe the inclusion of GPS coordinates would be useful?
Kolchak: The Night Stalker: The Lovecraftian Horror
Publisher: Moonstone
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 07:08:53

I'm gonna have to give it the full 5 stars. First of all, the illustrations are excellent both in terms of evocative style and in layout (one per page), which capture the horror feel better than nortmal cartoons. This is a proper graphic novel!

Secondly, the text itself, delivered in a quintessential 50's / Dashiell Hammet type of Noir. Not the jumbled schizo lingo where different writers (or translators) have been brought in to provide piece-meal illustrations of the pictures, but as a consistent literary voice. It really brings the lead character, Kolchak, to life (perhaps even more so than the TV series?)!

The one weaker point is perhaps the mystery at heart and the show down itself. Basically just another Innsmouth style raid into sea caves to machinegun deep ones. Then again I'm not that taken with Lovecraftian horror, but to me it was all the peripheral things (local colour and details) rather than the plot itself that kept up interest.

Anyhoo, for 5 bucks, you should definitely get this inspirational masterpiece.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kolchak: The Night Stalker: The Lovecraftian Horror
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruComics.com Order

OGL Horror
Publisher: Mongoose
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 20:05:04

I'm not going to review the rules part; you're all familiar with d20, love it or hate it, and that's not why I bought it. No, the reason I purchased OGL Horror was to mine it for its horror rpg advice from Gar Hanrahan (who, to my knowledge, so far has written four great horror adventures; Black Bag Jobs, Invasive Procedures, Arkham Detective Tales and Zalozhnyi Quartet).

And for 5 bucks, that chapter on GM'ing alone is worth buying this book for. "Turning the screw" (pages 181- 203) is one of the best sections on methodical horror game mastering and creative horror story telling I've read, actually.

In addition, the two chapters on the use of madness in an horror game and the chapter on supernatural ability and spells (i.e. pages 148-169) are also interesting if you, like me, are only mining the rest of this book for things to scavenge into your own favourite system (...which ought to be Chill 3e, by the way).

Anyway, with my limited interest in OGL Horror, what did I think could have been done to better effect? Well, the sample campaigns at the end felt somewhat flat. And I missed some interspersed examples from actual play to bring this book and its advice to life, really. Also, in the monster chapter, it felt like psychological aspects in the design of and forensic taxonomy to identify the paranormal entities were lacking. But as a d20 game, it's probably fair to assume that OGL Horror aimed for a somewhat younger audience than, say, the excellent "Horror Recognition Guide".



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
OGL Horror
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruComics.com Order

Paradise Lost
Publisher: Abstract Nova Entertainment
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 19:18:13

I find the history of Potter's Lake, the locales and the folk tales section really good and useful for setting inspirations, and the dramatis personae are not bad either. However, the two scenarios included in Paradise Lost are jokes; the shorter one is about the PC:s getting lost in the corridors of a building... until a police woman lets them out. That's it; nothing happens! The longer one, Heart of Darkness, railroads the PC:s to break into a locked dorm at the uni. They will then experience a dystopian vision of the world, and that's it! Back to normal and, yeah, maybe the PC:s will have to dodge campus security, but except for the brief quasi-religious vision nothing really happens!

Finally we have the chapter of "the secret history". This ties in with the setting of the Core rules, and I guess your opinion of the one hinges on your opinion of the other. So how do you feel about a campaign backdrop of Jesus, God and Satan having their own conspiracies and plan to fight it out? If you accept the Outer Gods and insignificant mortals concept of Lovecraftian fiction, maybe you don't have a problem with this Christian'ish war in heaven either? Well, from my point of view, that whole "Heaven & Earth RPG" angle, the subsequent "secret history" of Paradise Lost and the background story of Heart of Darkness appears restrictive and boring. The PC:s shouldn't be pawns in some grand design where their moral sacrifices decides the end of the world, but simply masters of their own fates who investigates the Paranormal and defeat some monsters along the way. As it's just $ 5, I would still certainly recommend Paradise Lost to all fans of horror rpg, but for most of us that means transferring the great Potter's Lake setting to a more grounded horror RPG (say, Chill, Cryptworld, East Texas University, In Dark Alleys, Fear Itself, OGL Horror or Savage World's Horror Companion) and ditching the lithurgical wrapping.

To sum it up, I think Potter's Lake is a nice, campy small town setting for a contemporary investigative horror RPG (like an "Eerie, Indiana" or a "Twin Peaks"). The background part and the locales for this setting would almost deserve 5 stars. On the other hand, the convoluted, metaphysical arch plot involving "the Lamb" and the two crppy adventures warrants nothing above 1 star. Which leaves me with a 3 star rating.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Paradise Lost
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruComics.com Order

Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/21/2016 03:15:19

This is a collection of 4 adventures written for Fading Suns. I bought it however intent on converting them to Traveller, the suitability of which I'll comment upon below.

Let's just first say that the product is beautifully lay-outed, the language is vivid and the scenes colourfully and inspiringly described.

A big lacuna is the total lack of both maps and deck plans for the obvious places of confrontation/ combat. Especially considering Fading Sun's often repeated message that each space ship is unique and should be regarded as a NPC in its own right the referral to a different volume of standardized ships is annoying. Surely they could've added deckplans to at least the two most prominent ships likely to see onboard fighting? It's my strong opinion as a GM that published adventures should contain everything needed to run the adventure save for the Core rules. This shortcoming certainly detracts a point from my grade.

The first adventure is called "A Road So Dark". The PC:s are trying to track down an old starship crew in order to locate a short-cut between two star systems.

Those of you not familiar with the Fading Sun should now that a space ship planning to Jump will first need a so called JumpKey. The JumpKey contains the necessary coordinates and topographical descriptions to navigate the jumpspace tunnels. The JumpKeys can't be duplicated and some are better than others, opening up sealed routes and provide faster travel between the stars. Today, there's no equivalent in Traveller to JumpKeys, but in the 1977 version (proto-Traveller) there actually was. Back then, those ships who couldn't afford the Cr800k for their own astrogator program to Generate a Jump map had instead to buy a single use Jump Cassettes for Cr10k to reach star systems not along the space lane. Later versions of Traveller have ditched these Jump Cassettes altogether (the ship's radii of operation restricted merely by engine jump capacity and a fixed 168 hour for each Jump). As this adventure goes to show the modern Traveller approach is a shame, as finding a new quicker route can be a powerful incentive to spacefarers.

Now, following the old crewman out into the scrapyard in order to pick up "some stashed belongings" seems lie a poor excuse to have the PC:s be attacked only to then return to the ship with these useless "belongings". Why not just embark on the ship in the first place? I would replace these stashed generic belongings to a Captain's key ("My father's spare!"), the only way to gain access to the Captain's quarter save for a mutiny and messy onboard firefight.

Anyway, assuming you accept the premise of Jump Cassettes (or JumpKeys) in the first place, "A Road So Dark" is an OK adventure.

In the next adventure, "Kraken's Loom", the players are tasked with finding a diplomat first presumed dead when his starship was destroyed. Eventually he turns out to be the revered figurehead of a demonic cult.

Much like WH40k, Fading Suns assumes that there are demons lurking in the hyperspace dimensions trying to infest the human society. This concept can't very well be transferred to the Third Imperium, or CT would be a less scientific and less upbeat space opera altogether. To make this adventure work, you would as a GM have to change the demon to a parasitic alien. You would then turn the demonic cult into a hybridization project advocating the widespread implant of alien "symbiont" bacteriae who could lift up us poor humans from our gravitic well and adapt us to the free fall and vacuum of Space. The quite insane implantees, the "star children", would sport a gruesome spot of necrotic tissue where they had been "kissed by the void", and they would only be too happy to spread the "epidemic sacrament". This would certainly work, but is it in keeping with the general tone of Traveller? Maybe. But without the existence of a demonic enemy, it would be difficult to stir up the same paranoia about an outer enemy as Fading Suns.

A stronger criticism of this particular adventure is that it's entirely based on a planet. I have never approved of science fiction adventures confined to a 1G standard atmosphere setting. It's simply not space opera, just another pedestrian destination. Still, counting its potential, it's an OK adventure, I guess.

The third one out is the best among this collection, and it's called "Ruinous Folly". The players learn of a secret and quite unique terraforming station orbiting a Jovian planet. This weather station was left from the previous human empire, built around a slightly higher TL. Accordingly, the players go there expecting to salvage some technological artifacts.

As for adapting it to OTU, I think this station would best be made a remnant dating back to the heydays of the Rule of Man (rather than turning it into yet another Ancients relic). Having been left on its own to evolve throughout the Long Night and the Third Imperium, such a time scale would be appropriate for a marvel that is still easily recognizable as a human achievement. Simple to adapt to Traveller and definitely one to play, the adventure plot and descriptions are very good and packed with flavour. However, the lack of maps and deck plans becomes a problem for the GM. Also, as the PC:s will need to communicate with the station AI, a FAQ would have been helpful to play out this dialogue and keep track of the AI's respond to player actions.

This adventure forgets to mention how the Scravers came to know of the discovery and why they are so zealous in pursuing the PC:s. For the Scravers to know of the contents of the astrographical computer (i.e. the "think machine") they would have to be secretly listening in on dame Keddah. I would put this down to them having decrypted and hacked into the candid squawker microphone in the PC:s scroll case. The Scravers having access to the communications of House Keddah would make a nice paranoid backdrop, and for instance give an altogether different excuse to why the PC:s' quarters were sweeped for bugs in the previous adventure ("...them meddling and blackmailing Scravers you know, just a precaution").

The fourth adventure is the worst of the lot. "Dead End" is about court house intrigues based on blackmail and assassination attempts with loyalty under oath and vows of silence complicating the PC:s investigation.

It's not even science fiction - the would be assassins even fight with swords and they live in a castle and are religiously devout! And, yeah, of course it's planet based, in comfy temperatures with breathable atmosphere. It's got more in common with the Byzantine empire than it does with the Third Imperium.

This adventure conveys the impression of the author trying to prove that silly point of how easy it is to pick a D&D adventure and simply relocate it into a far future setting. Well, he failed miserably. Sure, you can transfer stats, name the dragon an alien, turn skeletons into droids, say that a camel is an air-raft and that magic is really applied futuristic technology that we can't entirely grasp. But much like Google Translate, such a simplistic conversion lacks all subtlety and misses it mark. It's not just about collecting the various parts of a fantasy adventure and making them stick together. The art of crafting a science fiction adventure is also to take into consideration the specific flavours of outer space. Vacuum, radiation, extreme temperatures, noxious gases, zero-G and surveillance systems constantly tracking your whereabouts. For it to count as science fiction proper, the PC:s should face these challenges while immersed in an interconnected modern technological and financial ecosystem. Such a sci-fi adventure will remove the need for PC:s to search libraries with dusty books, decrypt foreign languages and team up in person. What is a challenge in an offline Fantasy setting there is now an app to deal with, providing instantaneous access to searchable databases, translating foreign texts, allowing video feeds to be streamed between PC:s who can exchange positional data at any time. The benefits and threats posed by the PC:s' and their adversaries' access to various equipment should inform their decisions, and the challenges encountered should be entirely different in a sci-fi and a fantasy setting. Yet here our spacefarers find themselves trying to fix an 11:th century problem with technology playing a non-existing part.

To sum up; 1 good, 2 OK and 1 poor adventure. No maps.

Should you as a Traveller fan buy it? Yes and No. You should buy "Ruinous Folly", but you should buy it as a pdf. You should not buy "A Road so Dark" or "Kraken's Loom" as they don't contain the maps and so don't offer enough value as you'll have to rewrite the rest of them anyway. Just use the plot hook and my above suggestions and these two could be turned into proper Traveller adventures though.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruComics.com Order

Imago Mortis Preview
Publisher: GRAmel
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/12/2016 23:25:17

After a short prologue, page 10 through the final page 32 of this preview consists of a lecture held by a fictional detective introducing the PC:s as new recruits to the Paranormal world of Imago Mortis'. IMHO, this part is written in a very unfortunate style that would have benefitted from a native speaking editor. I really hope the rest of the RPG is written less awkwardly. The detective (Ghites, as per the protagonist in Marolla's novel) here comes across as some kind of insufferable blend of David Brent and Fonzie, dropping cheesy references all over the place in order to appear occult-savvy:

"We can make a nice ghost hunting handbook, like the Junior Woodchucks", "I've been in this crap before GhostWeb", "Nice shot, Ghites, now go get your medal", "put on some nice boots with reinforced cold iron toecaps and kick them in the backside all the way back to the Valley of the Shadow of Death", "ready to play this game to the end, the terrible price of having a dull light in your eyes...", "before jumping the train to Horrorwarts", "Yippee Ki Yay!" etc (incl writing 'sickles' where 'scythes' are obviously intended). Indeed, this lecture is nothing short of unintentional parody, a barrage of empty clichées made out to sound cool, like a sales pitch from a sugar-crazed, hyped-up marketing executive on a Friday afternoon (i.e. Yeah, benchmark the sunk costs, highlight the synergies, implement the strategy and go get them, tigers!).

Secondly, as for creative criticism, I think "Vallum" really ought to rightly have been an acronym. Just picking a latin name is something a secret society might do, but it doesn't seem like a typical Brussels way to register a new bureaucracy. My best suggestion would be to set up a "VISA Acquis Legality Liaison of Union Migrations" under the Schengen Communautaire. This "Vallum" task force would officially be called upon to investigate and deal with potential cross-border conflicts arising in the Common Travel Area, incl the coordination of any temporary National controls imposed in the wake of the current migration crisis. And, obviously, these vaguely defined border problems would unofficially refer to the Curtains between our world and the Netherworld, and the migrants in question would mainly include infiltrating "Spookies". Only you can't very well be too transparent to the public about its mandate, so... Vallum it is. Along the same line of reasoning, I believe the chosen logo (three spirals) seems rather too obscure for a proper Agency of the EU; look at Frontex (the EU outer borders' control) for instance; they use three stripes to symbolize regulatory power over foreign arrivals by air, ground and water. Paraphrasing this one and restricting paranormal access between the Schengen area and the Netherworld, Vallum might well have a stylized symbol of a broken bridge.

Verdict: Is this modern horror RPG a game for me, and if so why/ why not? I'm going to say no. It's not that I necessarily prefer the old haunted mansions, stone altars and dusty tomes of classic horror to urban sprawls, pharmaceutical companies and online fanatics. My big peeve is that this Netherworld mythology (quite reminiscent of "Kult: Divinity Lost", I believe) more or less rules out a more culturally diverse occult background and a more complex approach to monsters. There'd really be no reason to investigate Mayan or Egyptian theology here, as Imago Mortis already pertains to know the origin of all paranormal entities (they're either dead human souls or the disciplined demons of the Legion). And without further arcane possibilities lost in the murky past and pre-indoeuropean belief systems, the paranormal horror looses some of its mysterious appeal; it becomes too explained and familiar. That's at least my impression from this preview, and so I will stick to "Chill", "Noctum", "EPOCH" and, would I want insanity to play a bigger part, either "Fear itself" or "Trail of Cthulhu".

Question: wasn't this RPG supposed to be full colour? Apart from the front cover, this pdf is all B&W, with lots of grey background. The art is quite beautifully drawn, but it would have been interesting to appreciate it in full colour.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Imago Mortis Preview
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruComics.com Order

Creator Reply:
Dear Mattias, Thank you for your review. I`m sorry you didn`t like it. I will just answer two things. About editor: GRAmel`s editor is Andy Slack, native speaker. A former editor of White Dwarf magazine and one of the organisers of the early Games Day events, Andy is best known for his writing on Traveller and 2300AD, and was co-author of two GURPS Traveller supplements (GURPS Traveller Alien Races 2 and Alien Races 3) . Now, he helps edit GRAmel’s Savage Worlds and Adventurers! product lines. About color - it is set as color book, because B&W settings in PoD means a bit worse paper. Paper that on layout heavy pdf may cause problems. That`s why we use color paper to print on both color or B&W books.
Displaying 1 to 8 (of 8 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates