Category Archives: News & Reviews

What am I Reading at the Moment?

I am a collector of roleplaying games. While most people only buy what they intend to use I buy roleplaying games for a lot of reasons and often even when I know I won’t be able to use it anytime soon.

But for me reading new rules and settings, or just admiring the artwork, or a well-done layout is a lot of fun in itself. Recently I acquired a couple new roleplaying games which I want talk about.

9781616616571_p0_v1_s260x420Let me start with Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. I have to admit I wasn’t that interested in this game when it was released. I already own several Star Wars RPGs and I was highly skeptical of the dice mechanic they used.

But a few RPG pub meeting regulars highly recommended the game (and the other FFG Star Wars RPGs) and so I eventually picked up a copy. The core rulebook is not exactly cheap but it’s a very good looking book with about 460 pages. The production quality is top-notch and instead of using photos from the movies, the book only contains original artwork.

In Egde the focus is on the outer rim of the galaxy and people who operate in the darker parts of society: bounty hunters, smugglers, and the like. The core rulebook is pretty complete. I am sure you could easily run a long campaign just with the stuff included in this book. If you want more than that you can always pick up the various supplements already released.

139453The other book I am currently reading is Modiphius’ Mutant: Year Zero. The recently released game has been out in Sweden for about 30 years, and is the game that eventually developed into the more well-known Mutant Chronicles. I’ve got the PDF version – courtesy of Chris Birch – and I have leafed through it during the weekend.

The 269-paged PDF looks awesome and the content doesn’t disappoint either. In Mutant you play – as the name implies – mutants in a post-apocalyptic world. Character creation is quick and easy, but allows for pretty varied characters. The player characters’ home is the Ark, which may be an airplane wreck, an old bunker, a walled town, or something similar. It’s a point of light in the wastelands and also a hook for most adventures. What sets apart Mutant from most similar games is that the players can initiate projects to develop their Ark and improve living conditions for their friends and families. But all projects may have consequences which may spell further trouble for the Ark.

Exploration is also a huge part of the game. The characters have to explore “The Zone” in order to find resources, or deal with threats. In a way Mutant can be played a bit like a classic hexcrawl (even though its maps are using squares). Even though I haven’t read the rules completely, I already see a huge potential in Mutant. From what I’ve seen GMs can easily run campaigns with only minor to no prep. Players can decide how their Ark evolves and set their own goals.

I’ll write an extensive review of Mutant: Year Zero as soon as I have read it thoroughly. Stay tuned!

Review: Traveller Spinward Marches – Excellent Maps for Explorers and Merchants

I don’t think I need to tell you about the importance of maps in roleplaying games. Even the most crudest of maps can still be a very helpful tool in any campaign. A great map might even help to immerse the players more deepy into the game.

An excellent example of such a map is the Traveller Spinward Marches map by the German oublisher 13 Mann Verlag. In its print edition it’s 96 cm x 68 cm, printed on both sides, and even laminated. I am not sure if you can use boardmarkers to write on it, but it should at least be protected from greasy hands or spilled drinks. As a physical handout the map is just awesome. It’s made to look like a product available in the actual Traveller universe. One side shows the scout map of the Spinward Marches, with every system detailed. You don’t need to look up stats in a book, everything you need is right there on the map.

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The other side features the trade map for the same area, and features all of the information needed for crew of merchants trying to make a buck in this region of space. Especially the trade map can look a bit intimidating at first, but should come in handy during the game – especially if your campaign focuses on trade.

Some people may ask themselves whether a physical map still makes sense in today’s world. I have to admit, I still like having physical handouts at the table. And the map is definitely a great eye-catcher.

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If you prefer a digital version of the map, you can get it as well – which actually contains one PDF for each of the two maps. The digital edition is a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. It looks great, is only 7 MB in file size and looks pretty good even on a tablet PC, but it’s just not as useful as the printed map – at least in my opinion. Your mileage may of course vary.

The print edition of the map sets you back €24.95 (about 31$) which is a pretty fair price, if you ask me. It’s available directly from 13 Mann or through local retailers. The PDF version is also available from DriveThruRPG and sets you back $15.55. If you are a fan of any edition of the Traveller RPG and if you’re playing in the Spinward Marches, you definitely should check this product out.

Cypher System

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Just when I finished writing my post about generic rules systems, I stumbled upon the news that Monte Cook Games has announced the Cyper System Rulebook. The Cypher System is the rules system powering both Numenera and The Strange, and it’s a system I learned to love during the last year. It’s very easy to run for a GM and from the day I picked up Numenera I wished it was easier to adapt the rules to worlds of my design.

It seems my wishes have been granted. The Cypher System Rulebook will be out Summer next year and it will be a toolbox for GMs like me who want to run everything from tolkienesque fantasy to space opera using Monte Cooks rules system. The book will contain new types, foci, descriptors, etc. fitting various genres, while the core of the rules stays unchanged.

In addition to that there have been talks with other publishers about officially licensed campaign sourcebooks and even standalone games powered by the Cypher system. I doubt this will be the last rulebook I’ll ever buy, but I am sure that the Cypher system could easily become my go-to system in the future!