|Recommended For:||Anyone who likes RQ or wants a cracking good RPG|
This is the new version of RuneQuest, and long-awaited it has been indeed. This is a hard back book with illustrations throughout. Each page is printed as though on parchment, which you might think would be difficult to read, but in fact it is very easy to read and is very easy on the eye. As rulebooks go, it is not cluttered and looks very nice.
Although it says that the prime RQ setting is Glorantha and the rules should assume the Gloranthan setting, the rules themselves are very generic. This is neither a good nor a bad thing, but setting-specific supplements would be better, when they come out.
Creating an Adventurer - This gives a step by step guide to how to create an adventurer. It describes characteristics, shows how to work out derived attributes, covers basic skills that everyone has, cultural backgrounds, professions with advanced skills, and a method of increasing skills during character generation. It briefly skips over character personality and general background. Finally, there is an example of character generation, which is useful.
Skills - This covers skill use, difficulties, haste bonuses, difficulty examples, critical successes, fumbles, automatic successes and failures, opposed tests, group tests, very high skills and using skills in combat. Both Basic and Advanced skills are described with starting skill and examples of use.
Equipment - This covers equipment, trading, money and similar things. Money is generic with pennies, silver pieces and ducats. Trading, Wealth & Status and Weregild & Ransom are briefly covered. Melee and Missile weapons are covered in some detail, as is armour, although many familiar armour types are missing. There are some general items with prices and descriptions. There are quick descriptions of animals, transportation and food & lodging costs. Crystals are briefly described, with prices, as are potions.
Combat - This covers combat and the melee round. It has Strike Ranks, Surprise, Combat Actions, Close Combat, tactics, Reactions, Ranged Attacks, Armour, Hit Locations, Knockback, Mounted Combat, Unarmed Combat, Hero Points and an example of combat. It covers things fairly well and the rules seem to work well.
Magic - This covers magic use. Although it says that there are many types of magic systems, including Rune Magic, Divine Magic, Shamanic Magic, Sorcery, Dragon Magic and Demonology, only Rune Magic is described here. Divine Magic and Sorcery are described in the RQ Companion, so we will have to wait for other supplements to see what the other magic systems are like. This covers Magic Points, Rune Magic, Locating Runes, Integrating Runes, Learning Rune Magic Spells, Runic Powers, Spell Casting and Spell Descriptions. There are a lot of spells here, many of which will be useful.
Cults - Cults are described as formal organisations providing magical power. It describes the different levels of membership in cults, with Lay Members, Initiates, Acolytes, RunePriests and RuneLords. It describes the Cults of the Storm King, Brotherhood of Mithras, The Indigo Hand, The Azure Cinquefoil and Childer of Hama-Dreth. These are very generic and only serve as examples - I can't believe anyone will actually use them as cults. Finally, there is a brief description of Divine Intervention.
Adventuring - This covers Adventure Time, Movement, Chases & Pursuits, Vision, Fatigue, Healing, Encumbrance, Hazards, Poison, Disease and Inanimate Objects.
Improving Adventurers - This covers how to improve adventurers, making them more skilful. It covers Improvement Rolls, Hero Points, Improving Skills, Practise & Research, Mentors and Improving Characteristics. There is a section on Legendary Abilities, with descriptions of various types of Legendary Ability. The Levels of Experience section covers Novice, Seasoned, Veteran, Master and Hero characters, which should allow the generation of higher skilled adventurers.
Creatures - This covers the creatures likely to be encountered in a RuneQuest game. These creatures are all native to Glorantha and this is the least generic section. It covers Adventuring Creatures, but has no character generation rules for non-humans, Creatures & Intelligence, Traits, and Creature Descriptions. Although the creatures are said to be Gloranthan, their descriptions are very generic, so dwarves, trolls and elves are very non-Gloranthan in nature. Many old favourites and standard fantasy creatures are covered here in some detail.
Finally, there is a Rune Sheet, giving Runic Powers and pictures of the Runes and Character Sheet, following the standard maxim that Character Sheets in Rulebooks are generally rubbish.
So, what are we to make of Mongoose's RuneQuest? Well, it looks good, it reads well and the rules hang together reasonably well. It is as different to RQ3 as RQ3 was to RQ2, but it is definitely recognisable as RQ. There are parts of the rules that I like and parts that I don't. However, as a game it works well. Compared to the RQ3 rules it seems incomplete, there are no rules for different types of magic, no rules for non-human characters, very sketchy rules for cults. However, many of these things are covered in other supplements.
Would I recommend buying RuneQuest? Well, of course I would, as I am a fan of RQ. If you have RQ2 or RQ3 and are quite happy with them then there is no actual need to buy Mongoose's RuneQuest, but I would still say buy it, as there is a lot of good in it. As we will have a lot of new supplements, not having this version of RQ would mean that you didn't understand the subtleties of the new rules.
|Recommended For:||Any throwbacks to the Seventies|
Well, this is a GM's Screen and nothing more. It has a pretty picture on the front and four pages of tables on the back. It is hardback and very sturdy and performs its task as a barrier between GMs and those nasty players extremely well.
The tables seem well laid out, clear to read and easy to use. I would think that things would be easy to find in a game situation. I have heard that some of the tables are incorrect and don't agree with the ones in the rulebook, but I am not the kind of person to compare tables line by line.
I don't like GM's Screens as I don't like barriers between players and GMs. I don't roll dice secretly and have the scenario in front of me at all times. However, for a GM's Screen, this one is very sturdy, clear and easy to use. If you like GM's Screens and want a handy list of tables, then this would be a good thing to buy.
|Recommended For:||Anyone who wants to play RQM|
This is a hardback book with nice cover art and well laid out, clear, easy to read pages with illustrations throughout. It looks very much like the RuneQuest rulebook and is really an extension of the standard rules.
New Character Resources - This expands the backgrounds and professions available to adventurers. It contains Backgrounds and Professions, with new backgrounds of Civilised, Mariner, Nomad and Primitive, new professions of Healer, Knight, Peddler and Scribe and new skills of Courtesy, Lore (Specific Theology) and Oratory. Primitives have some new weapons as well. The cults of Brethren of the Hunter, Lightbearer and The Moon Maiden are described, but I can't think of who would use such generic cults.
Divine Magic - This covers another type of magic, that granted by Gods. It contains A brief Summary., Acquiring Divine Magic, Casting Divine Magic, The Power of Divine Magic and Spell Traits & Descriptions. Most of the Divine Spells will seem familiar to those who have played older versions of RQ.
Sorcery - Another magic system, Sorcery describes the magic that is ripped from the cosmos by sorcerers. It has A Brief Summary, Acquiring Sorcery, Casting Sorcery Spells, Manipulation and Spell Traits & Descriptions. Like the Divine Magic section, the sorcery spells will be familiar to anyone playing RQ3. The spell manipulations are better than RQ3 and sorcery looks good.
Enchantments - This covers the rules for making enchantments and is very good indeed. It covers Enchanting Process, Enchantments and Conditions. The process of creating Enchantments is simple and there are a lot of different enchantments.
The Spirit World - What a misnomer this is. It covers spirits in RQ and has Defining a Spirit, Spirit Combat, Dissipated Spirits, Possession and Spirit Creatures which covers a handful of spirit types. Of all the sections in the Companion, this is the most disappointing. Spirit Combat has been done away with, as any magical spell will hurt spirits, so a weapon with Bladesharp 6 will do 6 points of damage and a weapon with Spirit Bane cast on it does full damage to a spirit. There are no rules for spirit plane encounters, no rules for shamans and only a very few types of spirits. Hopefully these will appear in other supplements.
Between Adventures - This has definitions for different settlement sizes, Reputation & Renown, Making Money, Item Cost by Locale with detailed tables of item costs in Silver Pieces, Item Quality with rules for creating better quality items, Exceptional Item Effects and Home & Hearth covering buildings and construction. The Item Quality and Exceptional Item Effects are very good, but they concentrate far too much on combat items and only skip over other types of items.
Travel - This covers different types of travel. It includes Getting There with costs for room and board , Water Travel with ship types and statistics, Dangers covering the different hazards of Sea Travel, Naval Warfare, Naval Equipment & Personnel and Repair.
Temples - This covers the different sizes and types of temple. It contains sections on Centres of Worship, Functions of a Temple, Temple Sizes, Temple Growth and Sample Temples with Site of the Hunter, Shrine of the Light, Minor Temple of the Storm King and Major Temple of the Moon. These are very generic, fairly useful sample temples.
Finally, there are sheets for Divine Magic, Sorcery, Special Close Combat Weapons, Special Ranged Weapons and Special Armour, which nobody in their right mind will use in their current form.
All in all, this is a worthy addition to the RuneQuest rules. There is obviously a question as to why they weren't included together with the main rules in a larger rulebook, but that is clearly a commercial decision. If you have bought the RQ Rulebook then you will need the Companion. There is a lot of new material that is useful, much of it good. It is definitely worth getting.
|Recommended For:||Anyone who wants to play powerful RQ characters|
This is part of Mongoose's core range and, as such, looks the same as the others. Internally, the artwork is nice enough, there's a lot of it but it isn't overdone. The book is laid out very well and is very easy to read.
It is split into several areas.
The Introduction is 8 pages long and could have been cut to a single page with no loss, OK two pages and a couple of pictures. I can see what they are supposed to so, but they don't explain properly how a Legendary Hero should work. Crossing into Legend explains how to build a Legendary Hero, with character generation and new skills. The skills have a massive flaw in that INT is consistently marked as WIS, something corrected in an official errata, but it would have been nice to have caught it earlier. The skils themselves are fine, but I would argue that some of them, such as Augury and Siege Weapon Operation, shouldn't be for Legendary heroes at all, but should be open to everyone.
Mass Warfare is a chapter on RuneQuest armies, or battles. It gives statistics and rules for staging battles between groups or units. I haven't played any mass battles in RQ using this system, so I can't say if the rules work or not. They read as though they wouild work, though. Ther are stats for siege engines, it would have been nice if they also included what damage these did to structures and ships, but they don't. Not bad at all.
Legendary Abilities - this contains 33 new Legendary Abilities, which is an awful lot. Generally they are good and well balanced. I didn't like the Soothsay LA, as it seems that the Soothsayer is actually affecting the future, rather than just predicting it, although you could argue that, having seen the future, the Soothsayer is giving an advantage based on what he has seen. There are no guidelines on how to get these abilities or how rare they are. There are some new Rune Spells as well, but these are very powerful and use the new runes described later. They should be introduced with extreme caution. There is a table of Runic Powers for Legendary Heroes, just because the normal Runic Powers seem lame when you are powerful. I like the idea of different Runic Powers, but not for the reason given. Some of the runed don't have such powers for Legendary Heroes, which seems strange to say the least.
Legendary Runes - These are the Twelve Legendary Runes of Creation, so are not to everyone's taste, certainly not to mine. But, they are well written, clear and easy to use. If you want to use these in a nopn-Gloranthan game then fine, but they wouldn't really work in Glorantha.There are a hell of a lot of new abilities, powers and spells here, which can't be bad at all. You could certainly adapt some of these to a normal campaign, without using the extra runes.
Legendary Artefacts - These are exactly what you would think they are, powerful magic items. Likwe Plunder, but not as good. Some of the items are interesting, but they seem very contrived. The descriptions are very generioc and the powers are very variable. Probably the weakest section of the book.
Bestiary - OK, so what do you need if you have Legendary Heroes? Legendary Monsters! Or, looking at these, perhaps not. These look as thouh someone thought "Let's make up some meaningless stats and make them a bit powerful but not too powerful" and then wrote these stats. The Abyssian Warlord is a generic Chaos Demon, the Daemonlords of Chaos aregeneric chaos demons, with a bit of personality, the Dragoss of the Twisted Soul is a generic Chaos Dragon (DRAGons chaOSS - geddit :-( ), Greater Judgement are nebulous Lords of Law, Masques are fairly tough foot soldiers of a Law vs Chaos struggle, the Runefallen are "Unbelievably Powerful" undead who have risen to kill the person who stole their runes and Scions of Law are tough warriors for Law and Light. This section is only marginally better tha the previous one, and that's because these might give a party a few problems. They are soulless and characterless monsters, unsuitable for any particular setting and are ultra-generic. I didn't like them at all.
Finally, there is a Mass Battle Reference Section, which would be useful in a mass battle, but would be better in the SRD, when it comes out. There are also some unit character sheets for Mass Battles, which suffer from the usual "Official Character Sheets are rubbish" flaw. Overall, what can I say about Legendary Heroes? It has a lot of new skills, spells and abilities. It is certainly geared up to making powerful PCs and NPCs and has a lot of good ideas. It's a bit too generic for me and would be difficult to fit into a Gloranthan campaign. The Battle rules might be good, but I haven't tried them out.
If you want to play a powerful Hero, then this has a lot of good ideas. If not, then get the SRD when it comes out.
|Recommended For:||Anyone who wants some good monsters or wants to run non-human PCs/NPCs|
Another of Mongoose's core books and it looks the same as the others. The cover is fine and the internal layout is clear and easy to read, with pretty pictures throughout. It is in colour, which adds a huge amount to the price and could easily as well have been in black and white and a lot cheaper.
It contains rules on using creatures as Adversaries and PCs, but these are very sketchy indeed. There are some failry detailed rules on making armour out of exotic hides, which look good, and for training creatures, which also look good although the training difficulty scores are possibly a bit wacky.
There is a new Chaos Features Table, which is not a patch on the RQ2/3 ones, so don't bother using it. It also describes some Traits that creatures have, these are very good and give special abilities to different creatures, in fact it is a very good way of doing this.
The Monsters themselves are described in a standard format and have pretty pictures next to them. Many, or most, of these will be familiar to anyone who has read RQ3's Monsters section or the Gloranthan Bestiary. But they have been converted well to RQM rules. They are Gloranthan creatures, but have peculiarities - trolls have Dark Sight and Earth Sense rather than Darksense or Echo Location, Broos don't have chaos features and the Inhuman King isn't mentioned
The pictures are generally good, although some are unusual. The kinky Dragonewt on P46 looks as if he has a Spanking Paddle not a Klanth (not that I know what that is, of course), the Duck looks like human with a duck's head and webbed boots, the halfling looks wierd and creepy. The elves look like proper elves, not like walking bushes, the trolls look good but aren't shown with clubs/mauls, the nymphs are suitably unclad and attractive and the Tusk Rider/Tusker is very good.
Finally, there are Great Beasts and Terrors which describe the Chaos Gaggle, Crimson Bat and the Mother of Monsters. Of course, these are always good fun to read and even to annoy PCs with. We could have done with the Hydra, Cacodemon and the other nasties from RQ3, but three is a good start.
Overall, this is a very good book. OK, it has some things that are a little out of whack, but not many, which seems to be rare in a Mongoose RQ book. If you are planning to run RQ and need the RQM stats for monsters then this is the book for you. If you don't want pretty pictures and a hardback cover, then get the SRD instead as it sontains the same information. But, I'd get both.
|Recommended For:||Anyone who wants a rollicking good supplement about Pirates|
Avast me hearties and listen to what I say! Some mangy cur has talked and let fly our secrets to a bunch of landlubbers. Time for a keel-hauling, ahar!
Ok, I don't know what I just said, but I do have RQ:Pirates and very good it is, too.
There's a pretty picture on the front, for those who like that sort of thing, of a battle on a ship. The internal artwork is good, too, mostly pencil drawings and a few maps, and I love maps.
What's inside it? I hear you ask. Well, quite a lot, actually.
The making of a Pirate is character generation with Previous Experience, 10 new skills, 30 professions, and a silly random starting equipment list (18 - one left shoe, 47 - Women's dress, fine - "I don't care what she looks like, she has to fit this dress, ahar!!") . All very simple, easy to use and has the feel of pirate generation.
Reputation, Legendary Abilities and Vices is brilliant and could be used in other games, not just for Pirates. There are rules on Reputation, after all everyone knows about Captain Tom, so how hard is it for him to dress as a woman to escape from prison? Legendary Abilities include "Always Something to Swing From" which allows the pirate to swing from anything around and Devil's Luck, which is two-sided. Vices are evry well done indeed, for what is a pirate without vices? Each vice has a description and an Indulged By and Tempted By section that shows when the vice is called into play. So, Bravado is Indulged By witty quips, dramatic entrances and Tempted By showing off to the crowd when fleeing where subtelty would be preferable. These have the potential for having many more Vices added as Houserules. They are so easy to useand are very modular.
Chattels, Blades and Gunshot describes weapons, clothing and equipment and could have been longer, but you could use the RQM equipment lists as well, so these are pirate-focussed and fine.
Crews and Sworn Companions gives rules on crews, electing captains and so on. It looks good but would probably need tweaking during play. There are rules on crew morale, how a crew affects sailing and battles and so on.
Ships of the Sea gives examples and statistics of ships. Sailing ships have a Speed Modifier, showing how much faster than the winds they can travel, which is useful. Rowing ships have absolute speeds. All measurements are Imperial for flavour as it points out that a pirate wouldn't say "Avast, ye dogs, and fire the 16 kilo cannons". There are also examples of Ship Qualities that can affect how the ship behaves. There are rules for rowing, for sailing, for ship speeds under sail in different conditions, for weapons and for customising ships, with 11 modifiers that can be used, again crying out for more as houserules. There are rules for ship repairs, damage, disease and so on. Everything you need for a naval campaign. This is an excellent section.
Piracy and Plunder has rules on what you can get from a typical ship. If you like tables you'll love this chapter. There are tables for weather, encounters at sea, vessel types, events on board shikp, strangeness on shore, crew quality, plunder and rare cargo for many types of vessel. values are in reales, but it doesn't give the value of a reale, or at least I couldn't find one. But, this is a very rich chapter, if used sparingly. Although I can see a group of pirate gamers becoming excited at the treasure roll for a looted ship, which is exactly as it should be for a pirate crew.
Combat on the High Seas covers duels, crew combat, morale, heroic actions, special tactics, ship-to-ship combat, manouvering, broadsides, sinking ships and so on. A tactician's dream.
Ports, Trade and the Law covers types of port, entering a port, selling off ill-gotten gains, trade, the law and captured pirates. The Law has three short paragraphs and a table, which is how it should be.
Campaign Ideas has a short timeline, from Columbus discovering America in 1492 to Bartholomew Roberts being killed in 1722, so 230 years of pirate fun. These are pirates in the traditional sense, rather than pirates in other eras. Thhere are sections on Histropical Piracy, Buccaneers and Privateers, The Golden Age of Piracy, Cinematic Piracy, Supernatural Piracy and Otherworldly Piracy that cover Piracy in various ways. Finally, it ends with a Scurvy Dogs and Other Rogues section that is a list of NPC pirates, naval officers and other such folk. These are almost beyond stereotypes, there is a Scurvy Dog Pirate, Devilish Cut-Throat Pirate, Governor's Daughter and Officer of the Royal Navy.
All in all, this is an excellent book. It is simple, focussed and easy to use. It doesn't go into loads of detail, but is detailed enough for the setting. It is highly modular and uses Legendary Abilities, Vices and ship customisation very, very well. In fact, I can't think of a bad thing to say about it.
So, I'd give this an A+ - Excellent - and a Buy it 98%. Well done, Mongoose, and especially well done Gareth Hanrahan, who even has a piratey-sounding name.
|Recommended For:||Anyone who wants some good monsters or wants to run non-human PCs/NPCs|
I bought this when I really shouldn't have as my darling wife did not approve, not at all. I really hoped it would be worth the aggro, but it probably wasn't. I should have left it until next month.
So, what's in it?
Introduction briefly covers magic and its theory and practise. Each type of magic is very briefly described. I suppose this would be good for a newcomer to RuneQuest.
Living a Magical Life is better as it does give guidelines on how to play magical PCs. It contains New Magical Backgrounds, New Magical Professions and Alternate Bonuses For Earlier Magical Professions. This is reasonably good, the backgrounds are OK, but a little odd. The professions are pretty good and the Alternate Bonuses are better than the ones in the RQ Rulebook.
Rune Magic contains a whole load of new Rune Magic spells. These include so-called Magnitude 0 spells, the equivalent of Cantrips, which is a good idea. As to the spells themselves, some are good, some are ordinary and some are atrocious. I won't say which is which, though, and will let people work it out for themselves. But, there are as lot of spells for people to pester their GMs with.
Divine Magic details the general types of cult, in a very generic way and has another load of Divine Magic. There are Cantrips, or Divine Voices, which give 3 Cantrips for 1 POW, which is a good idea. Once again, there are good spells, bad spells and atrocious spells. It distinguishes between Air and Storm gods, which is a bit pointless. More disappointingly, in almost all Chaos spells it refers to "Dark Gods", which flies in the face of any categorisation of Gloranthan Gods, for instance. Theer are a lot of new spells for "All" Gods, some are good, some are not so good. I wouldn't allow all the "All" spells to be available to all gods. Sever Spirit is back, but as a range touch 5 point spell that can be resisted by dodging and with a Persistence roll, making it next to useless. I expected a lot more from this, to tell the truth.
Sorcery covers a number of generic sorcery spells. As spells, these are better than the Rune Magic and Divine Magic spells as they are more balanced, on the whole. But, they are very generic, which is a shame.
Legendary Magic has new Legendary Abilities that are based on magical spells, New Legendary Rune Magic Spells that are very powerful, Miracles - New Legendary Divine Magic. These are generally good but are potentially unbalancing, although they would fit into a High Level game fairly easily.
Finally, there is an index of all the spells in the core books. This would be a useful resource.
So, all in all, this contains many spells. If you want a list of spells then this will appeal to you. However, the spells are generally without context and the book suffers for this. Some spells are very generic others are ridiculously underpowered or overpowered. I can't say I liked all the spells, but I certainly didn't dislike them all.
Would I recommend this? I don't know. If you want a list of many spells, then it is probably worth buying. If you want a magic book with context then this isn't for you.
I'd give it a B-
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in Second Age Glorantha|
This comes as a 41 page PDF file and covers those parts of Ralios not included in the Glorantha the Second Age book. Areas covered are Saug and Delela, Keanos, Halikiv, Coroland, Vesmonstran, Lankst, Bad Deal, Fiesive, Telmoria, Ormsland, Karia, Ballid, Guhan and Nida.
Each area is described with a short history, description of the area, short rundown of any clans or groups in the area, notable personalities and Heroes and the politics of the area. The struggle between the EWF and Middle Sea Empire is highlighted throughout.
There are maps scattered throughout and illustrations aplenty, all of a very high standard. Each page is parchment-like which is a bit galling.
Although this is a RuneQuest product, this has almost no RQ content, except for a reference to Heal and Rune Magics. The supplement is statless and could be used as background for and game system, particularly HeroQuest. It is a very high quality product, well written, detailed and easy to read.
If this is the future of Glorantha the Second Age then we have nothing to worry about. In fact, if we had similar products for HeroQuest and Third Age Glorantha then I'd be a very happy man indeed.
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in Second Age Glorantha|
This is the first of Mongoose's Glorantha range. It's a colour hardback with an intersting picture on the front of some kind of creature and a flexilimbed warrior. Internally, it is well laid out and has loads of maps, which are nice but difficult to read.
It is split into various sections.
Welcome to Glorantha - This is a brief introduction to Glorantha and covers the various major cultures and areas of Glorantha. Due to its size, it is very sketchy but is always interesting. It does touch on the different Otherworlds and splits it up into various planes and worlds, including the Essence Plane, Saint Plane and Magic Plane from HeroQuest. I don't like this way of viewing things, but there you go. It covers HeroQuesting very briefly and has a potted history of the God Time and First/Second Ages.
The Two Empires - This covers the God Learners and Empire of the Wyrms Friends. It has short histories of the Empires, what they do, their factions, politics and notable personalities.
Major Cultures - This covers the Karlori, Orlanthi, Malkioni, Nomads of the Wastes, Pamaltelan, Pelorians, Teshnans and Vithelans. Each culture has a short description, My Myths, My History, My Life, My Magic and Why I adventure. These are generally interesting but again are very sketchy due to the nature of the book.
Major Races - This contains information on the Major Races of Glorantha, the Aldryami, Dragonewts, Mostali, Timinits, and Uz. Each race has a short description, My Myths, My History, My Magic and Why I Adventure. Some of the descriptions have statements at odds with ealier versions of RQ/Glorantha, for example Zorak Zoran is described as an Uz, when he is not descended from Kyger Litor, but that might just be some local flavour. Once again, very interesting stuff.
World Gazetteer - This covers the main areas of Glorantha, Jrustela, Seshnela, Brithos, Fronela, Slontos, Carmania, Peloria, Kethaela, Dragon Pass, The Wastelands, Pent, Kralorela, Vithela, Pamaltela, The Oceans and Otherworldly Realms. Overall these are very good, not too detailed but not sketchy. However, there are errors, the main one is the inclusion of Balazar some 100 years before it was called that. Some might say that this is not a problem, which is true if you don't care about accuracy.
Campaign Setting:Safelster, Cities of Intrigue - This describes urban, lowland Ralios, which is set up to be a major campaign setting area. If briefly describes the areas of Ralios and describes the city of Kustria in a great deal of detail.
So, overall how would I describe Glorantha the Second Age? Well, it is very good, certainly as good as the other Gloranthan books in the past. It has some factual errors and doesn't always agree with the mass of Glorantha material from the past, but that doesn't really matter. It is a well-written and interesting book. Hidden away are many snippets of information that Gloranthaphiles will love. It covers the whole of Glorantha and, as such, is sketchy in places, but that's the kind of book it is. If this is the kind of Gloranthan material we will see from Mongoose, then we are in for a treat.
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in the God Learners|
I've just bought Jrustela and it's prety good, although it could be better.
It's an overview of the land of Jrustela and, as such, doesn't go into anything in any great depth, but covers a lot of things. Such are overviews and I'll not criticise or praise it for that.
There's a pretty picture omn the front of 2 ships being guided into port by an array of undines and some nice pictures inside. However, there is no single map of Jrustela, which is a gross error, in my book. If you have a source book, the first thing you need is a single map of the area covered. Bad Mongoose.
What's in it? Well, chapter by chapter:
History gives a fairly detailed history of Jrustela from the Godtime (Nothing is mentioned) through to the present day. These are arranged in sections covering different people or eras and contain a lot of things I had not read before. There is a Timeline and a List of Kings, which are noth useful. So, this is a pretty good chapter, not exessively detailed nor annoyingly brief, it gets the balance about right.
Gazetteer covers the geography and cities of Jrustela. There are sections on Geography&Travel, Cultures&Beliefs and Caste, then covers each of the Provinces and the towns and lands contained in each Province. Each city gets between a quarter and half a page and ends with a Reasons to Come Here sentence that summarises what is there and which is an excellent idea. Each Province is accompanied by an abysmal map, so dark it's almost unreadable and so disjointed it's hard to tie the maps together. So, Bad Mongoose for the maps and Good Mongoose for the content. The descriptions themselves are done third-party (Hooray!) and are very clear, with an awful amount of possible scenario hooks buried in the text.
Magic covers Jrusteli/Middle Sea/God learner magic and is split into several sections. The cleverly entitled God Learning 101 consists of a lecture by Haalabrim the Expositionist, a Jrusteli Scholar. Normally, I hate this kind of approach, preferring a factual third party description, but here it works and works well, I liked this section quite a lot. Here he goes into the different types of magic, how magic is used, how HeroQuesting is used and what it's effects are and so on. It has rules on Violating a Quest, Overpowering, Masking, Short Cuts, Shadowing, God Binding, Gate Switching and God Engineering, has 5 new spells for malipulating HeroQuests and rules for really blowing a HeroQuest and suffering a Backlash. So, it is a Godlearner Masterclass and very welcome it is, too. God Learner Orders contains four orders, each described with School Skills, Rune Spells, Sorcery Grimoire Spells and different levels of membership. These are good, but they blur into each other, so it's not always easy to see where one begins and where it ends. But, four orders is good, although I'd rather have seen a dozen here than four in three books, which I suspect will be the case.
Religion covers Godlearner religion in general. It has sections on The True Malkioni Church with 5 new Orders and New Spells, with 15 new spells. These are pretty good and each order has a shorrt description and membership details as above.
Politics isx a letter from an EWF spy detailing the politics of Jrustela and is as biased a view as can be expected. It does describe the politics of the various cities, but just touches on them and describes each one in terms of his own views, opinions and perceptions, which is really annoying, for me in any case.
Trade describes Jrusteli Trading in a very easy to understand way. There are rules for creating Trading Companies and examples of 4 Companies and 5 spells.
So, is it any good? Well, yes, actually, it is. The descriptions are clear, the book is easy to read and goes into enough depth to be useful but not too much to be boring. If it had a single map that was legible, it would be even better.
Should I buy it? Well, if you want to know about the Godlearner Orders or want to know how they handle HeroQuesting or want to know abou tthe cities and lands of Jrustela then yes. It has enough spells to be interesting to someone who collects spell descriptions.
What are it's weak points? Well, it has no single map, as I mentioned before. It could have done with more Orders, although it does have 9 so perhaps I am being unfair, it doesn't really cover the interior and only skips over the Earth Spirits, it doesn't mention the Aurelian Cult or the Breakwater cliffs or Volcano and, most importantly, IT DOESN'T HAVE A MAP OF THE WHOLE OF JRUSTELA and the maps it does have are so dark as to be virtually unreadable.
And, did I mention the maps? They're rubbish. And there's not a map of the whole of Jrustela, or did I mention that?
So, I'd give it an A-, Pretty Good, and a Buy It 85%, although if it had a good map of the whole of Jrustela and readable maps, I'd increase it to A and Buy It 95%, but it doesn't, so A- and Buy It 85%.
Bad Mongoose on the Maps.
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in the God Learners|
Ok, I bought this as well - Bad Simon.
This is a sourcebook covering the Clanking City, aka Zistor, Zistorwal or Zistorela.
It has a not-so-pretty cover, although well-drawn, of the forges of the Clanking City and artwork liberally spread throughout. The map of the Clanking City is in the same style as the ones in Jrustela and is absolutely awful. It's dark, difficult to read and has very little detail. It's better than the ones in Jrustela, but only because it's a single map of the Clanking City, so at least they got that right.
So, what's in it? Well, chapter by chapter ...
Zistorwal Revealed describes the general background, the context of the Clanking City and how to use the book and is a good introduction.
The Zistorites covers the people of the Clanking City and has sections on Zistorite Society, The Heart of Zistorism, Zistorite Culture, The Castes, Faith and Politics, The Five Factions and Creating a Faction. These are generally good, each faction is covered in some detail and the leader of each faction is also described, although no stats are given for them. Quite a good chapter.
The Machine City starts with a map of the Clanking City that is very dark and hard to read. For those of us of advancing years, this is regrettable. Next time, include a map that we can actually see, please. This chapter is written as a letter from an EWF spy and suffers from that a bit. However, it does describe the different areas of the Clanking City fairly well, so perhaps we can forgive the style, although I would prefer a more objective way of describing things. It describes each area very sketchily and sometimes you have to fight through the opinions to get an idea of what is there. After ten pages or so, I was skipreading to get to the end of the chapter. Which is a shame.
Wonders of Zistorwal describes Mechamagical Implants, New Mechamagics, The Enslaved, with stats, Born of Factory and Forge which lists new magical weapons and items, New Spells with 6 new spells, The Great War Machines, which has rules for the construction of vast terminator-style robots and examples of such machines, with stats, wahay!
The Faces of War describe one EWF General and 5 Clanking City notables, again with no stats. These are interesting and have some potential as scenario hooks. Finally, there are 8 scenario hooks briefly described.
So, is it any good? Well, it's OK. Jrustela is better, though. Mechamagics are well described and there are stats for the War Machines, but notables are described with no stats, which is frustrating. The descriptions of the places within the Clanking City could have been done in half the space and without a lot of the fluff that surrounds them. The map is truly awful, sorry to the person who drew the map, but a different style and a clearer map would have been far better. But, on the whole, it's OK, not great and not poor.
I'd have liked to se more on the Seige, with the EWF forces described, but perhaps these will come as a Campaign Arc or series of supplements.
Is it worth buying? Obviously, if you want to use Clanking City as a setting then yes it is worth buying. If not, then it might be worth buying just for the flavour.
I'd give it a B, Good, with a Buy It 75%.
|Recommended For:||Anyone who wants to run RQM Trolls|
This is the equivalent to Trollpack for RQ2/3 or the heroQuest Uz supplement and covers similar ground.
It is written from the point of view of an EWF scholar, so it is biased and may contain inaccuracies. I am not particularly impressed with this approach as I prefer my sources to be neutral.
It is split into four chapters - The Uz, Troll Communities, Playing the Uz and Uz Religion.
Then Uz covers the main subspecies of trolls, the Uzuz, Uzko, Enlo, Uzdo, Romal but not Ice Trolls, Jungle Trolls or Sea Trolls. It covers the UzUz in some detail, also calling them Ancients, Mistress Trolls and Matriarch Trolls, which might be a bit confusing for someone who has never encountered trolls before. Dark Trolls (Uzko), Trollkin (Enlo), Great Trolls (Uzdo) and Cave Trolls (Romal) are covered in some detail. Gloranthan trolls have Darksense now, not Darksight, which is better. Other topics covered here are Troll Diet, Uz Culture (containing Troll Names, Slavery, Language), The Mindset of the Uz (containing Battle and Family & Community) and Uz History (containing The Age of Sun Death, The True darkness, First AgeThe Deceiver and Curent Imperial Age). Some of these are a bit potted, with a couple of paragraphs and some are very detailed. Uz Slavery takes up 3 and a half pages, for instance. Some of the side-bars are quite difficult to read, having a small scrunched-up font, which makes a lot of the detail harder to access. If you want to know what kinds of trollkin there are or how trolls fight then this is where you will find it. Uz History is a bit sketchy, nowhere as detailed as in the original Book of Uz, but that information is freely available on the interenet so it's not such a bad omission.
Troll Communities covers Dagori Inkarth (including The Indigo Tribe, First tribe, Black banner Tribe, Sundered Eye Tribe, Starmetal Eaters and a mapped description of the Opal Seer Cavern near Skyfall Lake), The Shadow Plateau (including Culture and Camp of the Crooked Spear) and Snow Trolls and Jungle Trolls (including potted descriptions, no stats, Frozen North, Pamaltela and The Gathering at Spearpoint). The three troll settlements described are interesting as they cover three different types of trolls. Theer are no maps of troll areas, which is a shame as it would have been nice to see what Second Age Dagori Inkarth or Shadow Plateau looked like. The other main areas of troll settlement are not even mentioned, let alone covered.
Playing the Uz has rules for playing different types of trolls. Uz Characteristics contains stats, backgrounds and equipment for Trollkin, Dark Trolls, Ancient Race Trolls and Great Trolls. It describes Darksense, Trollhide and Tusks. There is a useful section on Runes that gives extra rules on attuning runes. There are a few omissions, I would say that Argan Argar cultists could attune Fire and Heat runes as could slave Lodril cultists. Roleplaying the Uz contains sections on why you would want to play Uz, citing reasons of Acting, Behaviour, Religion, Coin, Redemption, Salvation, Blood Glory, Secrets, Knowledge and Freedom. These are interesting, but I'm not sure how much they add to Uz in Glorantha.
Uz Religion covers the main TYroll Gods and a section on HeroQuesting against the trolls from a Jrusteli viewpoint. The Gods described are Argan Argar, Kyger Litor, Xiola Umbar and Zorak Zoran, although their cults are not given here as they are in Cults of Glorantha 2, Gods/Cults detailed are The Black Sun, Gorakiki, Himile, Subere and Xentha. Some minor troll gods are briefly describied in single paragraphs, these are Arkat, Orani Mor (Aranea), Zong, Bostaking, Gadblad, Hombobobom, Jakaboom, Vaneekara, Dehore, Jeset, Kropa, Krolar and Karrg, although no spells are given for these deities, which is a shame as they have spells in other versions of RQ.
So, overall impressions are that it is not as detailed as Trollpack, has no maps of troll areas, skips on the history and culture and does not cover the troll deities in any detail. However, as an independent supplement, it stands on it own merits. For RQM players and GMs it gives a good, well-rounded background for playing trolls. Combined with the Players Guide to Glorantha and Cults of Glorantha 2 it has most of what you would need to play trolls. Hopefully the other cults and settings will come out in future supplements.
Physically, it is a sturdy book, the one I had didn't have problems with the bindings, but didn't lay flat which was a little bit inconvenient. I had to crack the spine a bit when opening it, which I don't like doing, but it didn't split. The front cover is pretty enough, having some trolls, and there were a lot of illustrations of troll inside, all of which looked like classic Gloranthan trolls.
So, if you want to play/GM trolls in Mongoose's RQ, then buy this. If you have Trollpack and wondered if it is worth buying this as well, then I'd have a serious think about what you want from a supplement. It doesn't really contain anything over and above Trollpack and you don't really need both, unless you want to use RQM's new Backgrounds and character generation.
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in Second Age Glorantha|
I succumbed and bought this earlier than I had expected and was pretty pleased that I had as it's very good.
What's it about? Dragonewts, their culture, their physiology and their magic.
What's in it?
The Essence of Dragonewts is a very short introduction that covers Right Action, Duty and Honour, Ouroboros, Reincarnation and Advancement and Dragonewt Eggs, . This is all interesting and has a lot of new material without straying too far from what has been written before, which makes a refreshing change.
Myths covers Infinity and the Cosmic Dragon, The Grand Ancestral Dragon, The First Utuma, The True Dragons, Hykim and Mikyh, Dinosaurs and Days of Strength and Weakness. These are a combination of myths and ancient history. The myths are good and cover a lot of new material but, unlike a lot of new supplements, still refer to deities of the Gloranthan Court. Anyone who liked Gloranthan Myths will like this.
Dragonewts in the World is an overview of Dragonewt culture. It covers Dragonewts in Glorantha, Dragonewts and Aldryami, Dragonewts and Uz, Dragonewts and the EWF, Dragonewts and the Middle Sea Empire, Dragon Pass, Ralios, Dara Happa, Kralorela, Slontos and Teleos. The regional descriptions cover the Dragonewt Cities, complete with fairly detailed descriptions, different types of cities and major personalities. This is all excellent stuff and could probably be used in the Third Age, with a few changes.
Dragonewt Characters covers the Dragonewts as PC and NPCs. It covers Eggs, General Physiology, Dragonewt Characters, Dragonewt Behaviour, Creating a Dragonewt Character, Dragonewt Statistics, Dragonewt Cultural Backgrounds, Dragonewt Professions, New Base Skills For Dragonewts, Free Skill Points, Names, Dragonewt Weapons, Dragonewt Hide, Utuma and Reincarnation. Whew, that's a hell of a lot to fit into a chapter. It also allows players to play Dragonewts as PCs, something previously frowned upon. It's a solid chapter, very useful for a gaming point of view and very good. There are some issues, of course. The stats for the Inhuman King are woefully inadequate (take the stats of a Ruler Dragonewt and double INT and POW) and STR, CON and SIZ should be multiplied as well. It does, however, give guidelines on how many skill points an Inhuman King has, which can't be bad.
Dragonewt Cults covers exactly what it says, with Cult Descriptions, Adamant Truth Redoubtful, Arangorf Talker Listener, Aroka, The Earth Dragon Way, Empire of Wisdom, Golden Sun Dragon, Green Scaled Father, Night Dragon, One Closed Eye, Sh'kaharzeel and Wondrous Mother of Many. These are good cult descriptions with excellent myths, new forms of magic and reasonably connected cults. It even has some new information on one of my favourites, the Story of Death.
Dragonewts Magic covers the magic of Dragonewts and contains Magical Development, Crested Dragonewts - Rune Magic, Dragon magic, Dragon Effect Traits & Descriptions and Ancestor Magic. Once again, all solid stuff. Dragon Magic is more powerful than the EWF equivalents. Ancestor Magic has Future Questing which is a very intriguing idea. This is excellent and should make Dragonewts strong adversaries.
Dinosaurs and Dream Dragons contains Dragonewts and Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Types, The Magisaur Curse and Dream Dragons. These have impressive stats and nobody in their right mind would want to meet these critters. It doesn't mention Dragonewts being reborn as Dinosaurs, something that was stated in previous works, which is a shame but not a massive one.
Dragonewt Voices contains the now standard question and answer session for Crested Dragonewt, Beaked Dragonewt, Noble Dragonewt, Ruler Dragonewt, The Inhuman King and Barbarian Dragonewt. These are interesting, I suppose, but I was left fairly cold by them, to tell the truth.v So, there we are. A very good supplement, much better than the RQ Trolls supplement. It has a lot of new material, a lot of familiar material and a lot of interesting material.
If you are interested in Glorantha or Dragonewts then this is a must. If you want a fascinating supplement about draconic humanoids, then this is worth buying.
I'd give it an A, Excellent, and a Buy It of 95%.
Well done, Loz.
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in Second Age Glorantha|
At last, we have a source book for the Aldryami and we have waited a long time.
The picture is of a bunch of very treeish elves dancing around a sacrificial altar in front of an old tree. It looks impressive, but I, for one, don't hold with treeish elves and prefer them to be a lot more humanoid and a lot less treeish. But that's my opinion. It's a very striking cover and there are a lot of black and white illustrations within.
What's in it? A fair amount, all about elves, as if you hadn't guessed that.
The Aldryami is an introductory chapter written in the fashion of a Seshnelan Wizard. Ho-hum, I suppose all Mongoose books will have this kind of thing in them. I prefer impersonal accounts, not ones written from a biased third-party viewpoint. This covers a general overview of Aldryami and more in-depth descriptions of the different types of Aldryami, Vronkali (Green Elves), Mreli (Brown Elves), Embyli (Yellow Elves), Slorifings (Red Elves), Muthoi (Blue Elves), Halamali (White Elves), Dryads, Elflings (Runners and Pixies) and Trees. They are good, but didn't really grab me in the same way that the descriptions of Dragonewts did in the Dragonewts Book. There are sections on Elf Gardening, Aldryami Culture, Aldryami Communication, Aldryami Philosophy and Aldryami Society. These are again fairly good, covering a lot of Aldryami Lore, much of which is new and much of which is odd. Finally, it covers Myth and History which is a maddening mix of sketchy information and interesting nuggets. For example, the plants grew in the Golden Age and cracked the Sky Dome, causing chaos to seep in, which is a fantastic little nugget. There are a lot of new deities mentioned and many new names to old deities, which is a bit annoying and confusing. The History is very short, with each Age having a couple of paragraphs.
Elf Communities covers the major Elf Homelands. Each homeland is described in a sketchy form, with a brief description, sketches of the main leaders and a sample village or settlement. Arstola has Womangrove, Tallseed Forest including Tradelands and Errinoru Jungle, including Talking Beach. These are interesting and contain a lot of background. They could have included more areas - what about Rist or Winterwood?
Playing the Aldryami allows people to play Aldryami as PCs or NPCs. It contains all the information needed to roll up a new character. Aldryami have new skills of Life Sense and Treespeak, Dryads have some new powers and any Aldryami has special abilities when in their Forests. The backgrounds are generally split by sub-species, but some are also split by area, which is a nice touch. There are some new professions, largely building on those in the Players' Handbook, and some new equipment and weapons. The rules on Runes specify how the inhuman Aldryami have different effects when attuning certain Runes and I can safely say that I would not use any of those rules in any of my campaigns. Roleplaying the Aldryami gives some ideas on what motivates Aldryami, how to play them and why they are different to humans. Ho-hum, I didn't find this particularly interesting or useful.
Aldryami Religion breaks down into several groups The Grower Gods, Aldryami Heroes and The Dark Gods. The Grower Gods covers Aldrya, Bengara (Babeester Gor), Eirennor, Eron, Falamal (Flamal), Gata, Halamalao (Yelmalio), Larayse, Murthdrya, Syotel, Trileme and Veratha (Voria). Elf Heroes covers Weiinoru, Fwalfa Oakheart, Makisante Waverider and Vronkal (High King Elf). The Dark Gods covers Ekeem, Ferotha Life-To-Die, Inlri, Kitipah Iri, Trigora Death-After-Death, and Zasara. Each of these has a sketch cult description, unless this has appeared in other books, and a very short and very unsatisfying mythos. This certainly didn't grab me at all and I love reading the Prehistory and Godtime Myths of Gloranthan Deities. New Spells includes one new Runespell and 20 new Divine spells and are useful spells to have access to. New Elementals contain several new elementals, the Barren (Stone Elemental), Boreal (Ice Elemental) and Lume (Light Elemental), which are OK.
So, what did I think of it? Well, if you have made it this far, you will have guessed that I am not particularly overwhelmed by it. The backgrounds are OK, the mythology sketchy and unsatisfying, the deities confusing and the homelands sketchy and under-represented. It comes across as a book originally written to be twice as big but which has had to be cut down in size (whether or not that is the case, I haven't a clue, but that's the impression I got).
It certainly isn't as good as Dragonewts or even Trolls. It will be useful to anyone who wants to play elves in a game, but hasn't the depth that, say, Elder Secrets had for RQ3.
Would I recommend it? Now, that's tricky. On the one hand, it is about elves and anyone who wants to play elves in Glorantha, Second or Third Age, would probably find it useful. On the other hand, if you had to choose what supplement to buy, I'd say but Dragonewts, then Elf, then Trolls, simply because there's more new stuff in Elfs.
So, I'm not very impressed and was fairly disappointed by this. I'd give it a Buyabaility 75%, B-.
|Tragic Millenium Content||20|
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in the Young Kingdoms|
The cover is very pretty, with a rather butch Elric in "Look at Me, I'm Hard" stance, holding Stormbringer and standing on a pile of corpses with a cute dragon behind him. Now, I'm all for standing on a pile of corpses, that's proper roleplaying that is, but can people draw dragons that aren't cute? I can't but I'm not an artist. There aren't many illustrations within, but what there are look good, very dark and dismal, as befits Elric. He isn't known as Elric the Cheerful, after all.
So, what's in it? Chapter by chapter ....
Introduction describes what's in the Book, briefly profiles Michael Moorcock and gives a very brief introduction to the main characters.
The Young Kingdoms has a brief history of the lands, with brief descriptions of Society, Culture, Magic & Technology, Language and Religion. It then describes the Northern Continent, Southern Continent, The Western Lands, The Islands of the Young Kingdoms and The Unknown East, which has a predictably short description. These are good, but short, and cover a large number of lands. There are boxed texts throughout that add comments or descriptions and this breaks the text up nicely.
Character Generation gives rules for generating characters. Humans have stats given in D6s, Half-Melniboneans, Melniboneans and Myyrrhin have stats in D8s, although no explanantion is given. The reason is that they are chaotic creatures and 8 is the number of chaos. It doesn't list characteristic dice, but tells you to roll 3D8 and take the best 2 and add 6, rather than 2D8+6, which is a bit irritating as we can work out how to roll up a character, or perhaps it's just me. There are 7 Backgrounds and 31 professions, each described very clearly and are easy to use. This is a definite improvement on the standard RQ rulebook. Seasoned, Veteran, Master and Hero level characters each have different number of points assigned to them and can start with different abilities. There is even a walk-through of how to roll up a character. This all seems a lot simpler than standard RQ. There are insets on Playing Melniboneans and Playing Sorcerers, although the one for Playing Sorcerers looks a bit nannyish.
Skills has rules on using skills, including Opposed Tests, Skills over 100% and Group Tests. They are clear and easy to use. There are 20 Basic Skills and 19 Advanced Skills, although why they continue to split skills into basic and Advanced is beyond me. There is no Torture Skill, although I suppose there could be Craft (Torture) even though it is not included in the list of Crafts. Finally, Wespon Skills and Sorcery Skills are briefly covered.
Equipment covers the kind of equipment normally carried by adventurers. Currency & Trade covers coinage and exchange rates, Close Combat Weapons and Ranged Weapons describe weapons and their stats, Armour describes armour types, with stats, General Items covers general adventurer items, animals and transportation costs. Nothing special here and nothing spectacularly wrong. Bread and butter stuff.
Combat is pretty much standard Mongoose RQ combat. The order of play is defined better in Combat Time, with all characters performing 1st action in descending SR order, then all 2nd actions, all 3rd actions and all 4th actions etc. This is an definite improvement on the standard rules as it is clear and easy to follow. There are a number of different Combat Actions, combats are decided by an Opposed Roll and a set of tables, one for Attck vs Parry and one for Attack vs Dodge. These seem fine, at first glance, and are better than standard RQ. Reactions are codified with trigger Events, Restrictions, Improvisation and results for each Reaction. This is a well thought out way of describing reactions and is better than the standard RQ. Results of Damage are described as well as Mounted Combat, Two Weapon Use, Unarmed Combat and Combat Fumbles.
Adventuring covers standard adventuring fare, such as Movement, Illumination and Darkness, Fatigue, Healing, Encumbrance, Falling, Suffocation, Fire, Heat and Freezing, Poison, Disease and Inanimate Objects. Another bread and butter rulebook chapter.
Lords of the Million Spheres are where things get interesting and specific to the Young Kingdoms setting. It describes the Elemental Lords and their enemies, the Beast Lords, the Plant Lords, sketchily, The Lords of Chaos and The Lords of Law. Cults of the Young Kingdoms are different to those in standard RQ or Glorantha. They are organisations dedicated to the worship of deities, but the games mechanics and magic provided are different. The rules are clear enough and fairly easy to follow, on first reading. Magic is gained by dedicating part of one's soul to the deity, literally selling your soul. Members of cults may receive gifts, at a cost of part of their soul, and receive Compulsions that force them to behave in certain ways or perform certain deeds. The cults are described as sketches, with each cult providing certain gifts, compulsions and secrets. This is probably enough for the Young Kingdoms as cults are not as important as, say, in Glorantha.
The Silver Grimoire covers Sorcery in the Young Kingdoms. Sorcery normally comes in two forms - Summoning and Dreaming. Summoning allows a sorcerer to summon a being from the otherworld, beings described include Elementals, Beast Lords, Demons and specific creatures. The relative strength of the creature summoned depends on the Magic Points expended in the ritual and the creature summoned will obey the summoner if he overcomes it in an Opposed Roll. This seems a very elegant way of handling summoning. Finally, there is a list of Sorcerous Creatures that covers Elementals, Demons and Automata, with descriptions, sample stats and rules. Stealing Dreams - Dreamthieves and Dream Realms covers the other type of Sorcery, that of Dreaming. This describes Dreamthieves, The Seven Dream Realms, Dream Characteristics, Dreamtheft Backlash, DreamQuests, The Dream Bazaar and The Guild of Dreamers and Dreamstaffs. This covers al you need to know about dreaming.
The Seventh Dark covers optional rules for GMs. In it are Improvement Rolls, Improving Characteristics, Hero Points, Legendary Abilities, with 20 Abilities, Crafting a Campaign, From Plane to Shining Plane, moving among the planes, and a Synopsis of the Elric Saga.
Creatures is a bestiary for the Young Kingdoms with 14 creatures. This doesn't seem many, but these are magical creatures and the standard RQ rules could be used for mundane creatures.
Heroes and Villains contains descriptions of 15 main characters of the Young Kingdoms and the swords Stormbringer and Mournblade, of whom 5 have full stats. Stormbringer and Mournblade are as gross as ever, adding 100% to Sword Skill, doing 3D8 damage, being unbreakable, draining 1D100 POW from the creature struck on each successful blow, adding +1 STR and +1 CON per 10 POW drained and having the unfortunate effect of slyly forcing an attack against a friend or companion of the wielder. Nice.
So, all in all, is it any good? Hell, yes. It's very good indeed. The rules capture the flavour of the Young Kingdoms without sacrificing the clarity of Mongoose's RQ. In fact, the rules work better, in my opinion, than standard Mongoose RQ and 1st Edition Stormbringer. The Deities are well described and easily followed, magic is neither weak nor overpowering, there is enough general background to run a campaign.
There are some things missing from the old Stormbringer series. There are no demon weapons or lawful ones for that matter, I know the reasons behind this, but I liked them anyway. There are no rules for fighting Deities - the ones in Stormbringer went along the lines of "PCs get first blow, the Deity parries then kills the PC" which is probably pretty accurate. There is no written Torture Skill, which is a major omission in my opinion. There are no maps which, considering how much I love maps and how much I slate products with no maps, doesn't actually detract from how good this is. Perhaps we could have maps in the Elric Companion. Pretty please.
So, should you buy it? Well, this is a difficult one. If you want to play in the Young Kingdoms and want an Elric-based campaign then definitely yes. If you want rhe Mongoose RQ rules set in a clear, easy to follow and improved way, then yes. If you want a clear, well written and easy to follow supplement then yes. However, if you want a set of adventures or a campaign or anything like a scenario then don't look here.
I'd give it A+, excellent, and a Buy It 99%. Really, it's that good. Well done Mr Whitaker.
|Tragic Millenium Content||20|
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in the world of Hawkmoon|
The cover was a bit warped, but nothing particularly bad, but the inner page has come loose from the binding, so I'm not sure how long it will last being used a lot. The cover art is very dynamic and colourful, although I have never seen Hawkmoon as an albino. Internal art is also good but fairly sparse. The pages are every dark, with a dark grey background, which is contrasted with the last few pages that are on a white background. It would have been better on a paler background, but, to tell the truth, this doesn't detract from the look and feel.
Chapter by chapter, as always ...
Introduction has an atmospheric section that captures the feel of the Hawkmoon books and a short section with campaign ideas and plot hooks.
Character Generation has backgrounds of barbarian, Peasant, Townsman, Noble, Science Enclave and Mariner with a lot of regional backgrounds available. It allows characters to be Beginning, Seasoned, Veteran, Master or Heroic. Non-human characters can have positive or negative Traits that are similar to Chaotic Features in Glorantha/Classic RQ.
Gazeteer covers the history of Tragic Europe, different lands including Belgic States, Catalonia, Esapaniyia, France, Germania, Greece, Hollandia, Muscovia, Italia, Switzer, Osterland, Scandia, Courts of the East, Courts of the Near East and The Dark Empire of Granbretan. These are short descriptions, but are very concise and impart a lot of information.
Skills contains rules for skill tests, including a table for difficulty ratings, new rules for very high skills, basic and advanced skills and weapon skills. These are pretty good and form the basis of the rules.
Equipment covers the various currencies in use in Europe, Wealth and Status, Weapons, Armour, Exceptional Items and Weapons, General Items, Food and Lodging, Animals, Transportation and Slaves, Ships and Siege Weapons. These are very detailed with tables galore.
Combat has the usual Mongoose RQ rules, covering Strike Ranks, Combat Actions, Close Combat Attacks, Reactions, Free Attacks, Ranged Weapons, Damage, Knockback, Unarmed Combat, Mounted Combat and Vehicle Combat. This is well organised and easy to follow and read. It's better than the combat rules in the RQ rulebook.
Adventuring covers rules for Fate, Movement, Fatigue, Healing, Encumbrance, Falling, Suffocation, Fire, Heat and Freezing, Poison, Disease, Inanimate Objects, Reputation & Renown, Improving Adventurers and Legendary Abilities. Whew! All good, solid stuff. There are some interesting new Legendary Abilities, although with a few exceptions these don't have much of a Hawkmoon flavour.
Science & Sorcery covers the magic of Hawkmoon, that of scientific sorcery. It has sections on Acquiring Sorcery, Using Sorcery, Sorcery Spells, Artefact Spells and the Runestaff and Its Regalia. This has a lot of good things, the spells are solid, the rules straightforward and the artefacts are powerful.
Denizens of Tragic Europe actually has NPC statistics, with stats for many of the important people of Tragic Europe. Here are Hawkmoon, Count Brass, Yisselda of Brass, Bowgentle, Oladahn of the Bulgar Mountains, Huillam D'Averc, The Warrior in Jet and Gold, Orland Frank, Flana of Kanbery, Pahl Bewchard of Nawleen, Malagig of Hamadan, Baron Meliadus, Baron Kalan, Lorfd Agonovos and various NPC templates. All good and this gives a flavour of what your PCs should be like. There are also creatures here, with specific critters for Tragic Erope, so don't except lion s and tigers here, use the Monsters Book or RQ rulebook for those. These are very much nasties from the books and would be worthy adversaries in any game.
The Deeds of Hawkmoon is a synposis of the Hawkmoon books, covering The Jewel in the Skull, The Mad God's Amulet, The Sword of the Dawn, The Runestaff, Count Brass, The Champion of Garathorm and the Quest for Tanelorn.
Finally, there is a map of Tragic Europe, which takes all the fun away from working out where things are by the warped names, and a character sheet that is usable but, as with all character sheets in supplements, not very good.
There are little gems all the way through this. Extracts from the books abound, as do little comments. In the section on Wormwoods, for instance, it says "The eldest Wormwood is said to be in Muskovia, where they call it by its native name of Kernobul." which makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, in the same way that reading the books used to.
So, what did I think of it in general? It's pretty good. The rules are complete and well organised. The background is brief but covers a lot. The magic is good and the NPCs are well written. Can I fault it? The background could be better, but that's about it.
I'd give it an A, Very Good, with Buyability 90%, so get out there and buy a copy.
|Tragic Millenium Content||20|
|Recommended For:||Anyone interested in the world of Hawkmoon|
The cover has a very dark picture of a weird city, presumably Londra. There are other illustrations inside that aren't as dark as in Elric but are good.
What's in it? Chapter by Chapter .....
Introduction contgains a very silly snippet from a play, very Moorcockian in nature, where Hawkmoon assaults the Throneroom, sort of.
The History of Granbretan describes the past history of the land, with prehistory, the Tragic Millenium, including the Fixing of the Masks, The War of Abasement and The Madness of Granbretan. It's short, it's historical, it's good.
The Realm of Granbretan is written from the point of view of a tour guide, or rather Sir Malik of the Order of the Stag, who was assigned to guide Yuri Bogdanovitch from Muscovy. It is written from a first person point of view, which I don't really like, but does work here. It describes The Silver Bridge, Deau-Verre, The Home Counties, Londra, Osfoud, Gloster, Leodis, Maester & Skowse, New Castille, Edenbough, capital of Shkarlan, Yel & Cornwallis, Eire and The Orkneys. These sketches are short and don;t do a lot, but are atmospheric.
The Beast Orders describes the Beast Orders, the backbone of Granbretan. It briefly coveres the structure of the Beast Orders and describes the Revels of the King where three times a year, each Beast Order is recalled to Londra and take part in an orgy with another Beast Order where anything goes, including gang rape, cannibalism and torture. Granbretan is not for the fainthearted. There are 37 orders described, including the Order of the Lion that is now no more but is blamed for any unexplained deaths in Granbretan. Each Beast Order is described, with a Grand Constable, a description of the Order, Temple, Benefits and Skills.
The Lords of Granbretan covers 11 notables of Granbretan with stats! I'd thought that Mongoose had forgotten to inlcude the stats of notables in their supplements, but here they are! Amazing and welcome.
Equipment covers the typical equipment available to a citizen of Granbretan. It includes Masks and the lovely Fleshmasks (masks made of human faces skinned from their owners, so that Granbretans may walk around seemingly without a mask), Armour, Wonders of Science (Breathing Masks, Gas Bulbs, Glowlamps, Spyglasses, Stiltwalkers, Poisoners Gloves, Venomous Weapons), Poisons and Plagues (Anthrax, Bubonic Plague, Blessing of the Carnivore God, Infectious Dysentry, Melting Sickness, Burning Madness, Duellist's Delight, Green Death, The Hand of Friendship, The King's Evil, Malice and Serpent Venom) - Nice.
Scientific Sorcery covers the magic of Granbretan, with 19 spells, 10 Artefact Spells and brief rules for travelling the Multiverse.
Creatures and Foes covers exactly that. Here there are sample stats for slaves, servants, various courtiers, some of the Beast Orders, D-Beasts and strange magical beasts.
Mass Combat has rules for fighting battles. There are rules for units, different tactics and strategies. They seem complete enough, but I don't know how they work in play or how different they are from the standard RQ Battle rules.
The Course of the War covers a brief history of the War and also Granbretan's future plans. It very briefly describes other lands and what Granbretan expects to do to those lands. Characters & The War even describes how Granbretan plans to conquer other lands, with strategies and tactics.
Hunters of Granbretan is a scenario. What? A scenario? In a Mongoose RQ Product? How come? Well, it is a bit of a shock. Finding Notables with stats and a scenario in the same supplement is amazing. Anyway, Hunters of Granbretan in which the heroes must liberate an arcane sword from the city of Karlye.
Appendix consists of a list of spells from Hawkmoon and Granbretan and a summary of Battle tactics.
So, there it is, the majesty and madness of Granbretan.
What's missing? Well, it doesn't have a map, but actually doesn't suffer from this. One of the joys of reading Hawkmoon is working out where the strange places were and how they relate to our idea of Great Britain and Europe. So, Gloster is Gloucester and Londra is London and so on. having a map would actually spoil this. There aren't many oplaces described in Granbretan, which might mean that these are the only places that survived the events before the Tragic Millenium, but might mean that more are to be described in future supplements. I haven't got Hawkmoon yet, so I don't know if Flame Lances and similar things are described there, I would expect that they are.
Is it any good? Yes. It contains everything you really need to play in Granbretan or to use Granbretan citizens elsehwre in the world of Hawkmoon. It doesn't pull its punches, this is no PC version of the land. This is a land of sadistic, power-mad, insane perverts. Clearly, it is difficult to capture the feel of Granbretan or the books in a supplement, but this comes pretty close. Actually, the silly play at the start comes closest as it is a farce or comedy, which is what the Hawkmoon books really were. It uses the RQ rules and uses them well. It is well written and consistent. It is dark and malign.
Should you buy it? Well, if you are using the Hawkmoon setting and need to use the people of Granbretan then yes. If you want to use the sorcery in other Eternal Champion settings then yes. If you want to use its components in other games then perhaps. You could use the Scientific Sorcery in Jrustela easily enough, for instance.
So, I'd give this A, excellent, Buy It 90%.
|Recommended For:||Anyone who relaly, really wants to play in the world of Slaine|
Well, I went out and bought it yesterday, despite almost constant nagging from Mrs soltakss. It cost 25 pounds, which is a lot more than the equivalent dollar price, so transporting it across the Pond is clearly cheaper than transporting it to Birmingham.
Was I happy I bought it? I don't know, yet.
First of all, let me say that, as I know something about Celtic history/mythology and a little about pre-Celtic Europe, the Slaine world setting grated, for me at least. I don't know if I can get past the fact that Celtic mythology is 1600 - 3500 years old and doesn't stretch back to just post-Ice Age, nor did post-Ice Age cultures have large towns, chariots or ocean-going ships. So, this is a failing on my part, not necessarily on part of the Slaine supplement.
So, what's in it? Chapter by chapter again ....
The cover is colourful and effective, nice font for the title, nice butch Celt with a big chopper. Internal artwork is also very good, in my opinion, but I like dark looking pen-and-ink drawings. There are a couple of maps that cover the Land of the Young and Midgard, so that's always good.
The Land of the Young describes the tribes of the Land of the Young and has a map that gives the locations of the main places. Short and concise, this is a reasonable first chapter.
Character Generation covers Dwarves (not Dwarfs, interestingly enough), Atlanteans, Falian, Finian, Fir Bolg, Fir Domain, Midgard Norsemen, Sesair and Drune Lord Tribes. There is no Rune Magic, so a number of standard RQ professions are prohibited. Characters begin with Geases or Weirds, which shape their character and define what they may, may not or must do, which is interesting. Enech and Sarhaed are also covered, Enech being how much honour a character has and Sarhaed being honour-price. Several other races are then covered, but they aren't included in the character generation table, so it's a bit unclear what professions/skills they would have. Each is given general traits that set them apart from each other. Then Enech, Geases and Weirds are described in detail, which is odd, as it would have made sense to include them a little earlier. However, they are very interesting and would easily fit into a Gloranthan Orlanthi/Heortling campaign.
New Skills and Legendary Abilities contains, you guessed it, new skills and legendary abilities! I'd have made Salmon Leap a Legendary Ability rather than a skill, but the others come straight from Celtic/Scandinavian Mythology. The Legendary Abilities are good, but are a bit bland, in my opinion.
Goods and Weapons covers currency, whihc is Iron bars (sets), Gold Pieces, Female Slaves (Cumals), cows, pigs and chickens. It's interesting to have a game where the major unit of currency is a female slave! Prices are given in one of those cash units, which makes it difficult to work out relative costs without a bit of calculation. Many of the weapons are magical and have special powers, making the descriptions a bit long. Armour is briefly covered as many Celts disdain armour. It brings into mind the scene from the excellent Chelmsford 123 that talks about "Charging into battle with your tackle swaying majestically in the breeze". Clothes are also covered with some specialist items of clothing described. Some of the goods, services and property are useful, with prices for areas of land as well as buildings.
Earth Power covers Slaine magic. Most people start with some Earth Power (EP), which starts at their POW. Spells cost 1 or more EP and Earth Power can be regained or drained in various places. You can also gain more EP in special places, such as a temple or during a battle or through sacrifices. Weirdstones are stones that slowly extract Earth Power from the earth over a long period of time. Weirdstones can be combined into Dolmens and Dolmens can be found in stone circles, or Cromlechs. I found the rules for generating Dolmens and Cromlechs a bit confusing on the first reading. There are a number of spells here, all new as standard RQ magic is not applicable to Slaine. These have vastly differing scales of effect. Slaine magic is definitely in the Crackle-Zap camp. I counted 100 spells, more or less, so there's a good choice. This is quite a big chapter with sections on Ogham, Warp Spasms, which happen when certain people become heroic. Warp Spasms have a number of rolls and cross-references to tables, so are quite complicated. I can see someone attempting a Warp Spasm only for the quick-flowing game to stop for 5 minutes while he works out what has happened to him.
A Guide to Slaine's World covers each of the lands and the tribes contained within them in some detail. To tell the truth, I thought it contained too much detail, but the world of Slaine does not really interest me that much. But it covers Alba, Albion, Cambria, Eriu, The Inland Sea, Lands of the Drune Lords, Borderlands and so on. There's a good section on Tribal Culture, with laws and punishments that could be used in other games.
The Sessair covers the Sessair Tribe. There are 10 pages devoted to them, which is probably a couple of pages more then was needed. This covers culture, clans, traditions, war wives and their lands.
The Finians have 14 pages devoted to them, but I was skip-reading past 6 pages. This covers some of their history, culture and lands.
The Fir Domain have 16 pages and you begin to hope that the other don't have increasing page counts. This covers their origins, traditions, lands, the city of Gorias and the temple of Glastonbury with its associated magical lands. I found this incredibly confusing, to be honest.
The Falians have 13 pages, so at least it is coming down again. This one covers their origins, traditions, tribes and lands.
Lands of the Drune Lords has 19 pages, so the earlier hope has been dashed. It covers the different tribes, lands, cities and temples. The stone circle/city of Carnac has a good writeup.
The Borderlands have 12 pages and cover the Titans and the different lands and people of the Borderlands, those lands that lie between the Tuatha de Danaan and Drunes.
Midgard is the land of the east, and of the children of Voden, with a reasonable 7 pages, briefly covering the people, culture and lands.
Dinas Emrys and the Cambrian Mountains has 3 pages and covers the magical castle that sits on Mount Snowdon. This is quite interesting and hints at a good campaign, but it is only touched on.
Adventures in the Land of the Young covers travel, transport, including Sky Chariots and ships, wind and weather.
Gods and Goddesses of Tir Nan Og details various festivals, sacrifice and describes the various gods and goddesses of the lands. If you are expect RQ-style full writeups then you'll be disappointed as these only have the briefest of descriptions, due to lack of space. Perhaps if they'd have cut down the page count of the preceding sections they could have fleshed out the cults a bit more. 12 deities are covered here, but there are omissions. Epona, for instance, has a spell in her name but is not described here. This briefly touches on the El Worlds, underworlds that are briefly described.
Bestiary is, as expected, a listing of monsters. These are not your bears, lions and broos, but are really nasty critters. Undead wights, dragons, Fomorians, the Fey, Hags, Ghosts and Demons can be found here. They are nasty critters to scare your players with.
Campaigns in Tir Nan Ogcovers Seasonal Adventuring, Enech Revisited, Religion, Death and Campaikgn Types. Once again, this could have been expanded at the expense of the bloated description of the Tribes.
Finally, and will wonders never cease, there is a scenario! Yes, I'm sure you've heard of them, but they are so rare in Mongoose RQ supplements that it's a wonder to find them. This one has the PCs defending against a cattle raid and chasing the raiders, ho, hum. The NPC opponents are beginning characters with no Geases, Weirds, Spells or flavour of any kind. In fact they wouldn't look amiss in a generic RQ supplement or even as NPC raiders in Glorantha, if you added a cult or even made them Orlanth lay members.
So, all in all, what did I think? Ignoring the fact that I don't like the background, my opinions are mixed. There is a lot of dull background for the tribes, the mythology is poorly fleshed out, the scenario is so-so. The skills and spells are good, the Bestiary offers plenty of scope for scaring PCs, currency is funny, Warping is interesting but over-complicated, Enech and Sarhaerd is ecellent and well described.
Did it make me want to play in Slaine? Not at all. In fact, it actively made me NOT want to play in Slaine.
Could I use it in an Alternate Earth setting? Yes. with a lot of work. You'd have to use the skills and spells in a cult context with standard RQ magic. The Bestiary could be used as could some of the locations. The Glastonbury writeup is so bad as to be unusable. Earth Power is a nice idea and the rules for Dolmens and Cromlechs could well work in Alternate Earth.
What is it missing? Notable NPCs, with stats and descriptions. Proper writeups of Deities. Examples of how dolmens etc are used. Battle rules, bearing in mind that you can summon hordes of goblins etc for battle, you couldn't then run a battle.
Now, the crunch, would I recommend it? Not particularly, I am afraid. It's very pretty, the artwork is very good and reflects the setting, but artwork is something I don't really rate highly when purchasing a supplement. If you want to run a Slaine game using RQ, then obviously this is worth buying. If you want to run a Celtic Game using Slaine, then this is less worth buying, but would be useful. If you want to buy it and have lots of money to spend then go ahead. But, if you have a choice between buying this or something else, then I wouldn't bother.
I'd give it a C+, Slightly Better than Average, Buyability 55%.
|Recommended For:||Diomin GMs|
This comes as a 36 page PDF set in the world of Diomin. Now, I don't know anything about Diomin, so I can't comment on how this fits in the world.
It starts off with a summary of the plot and a section on Game Master Advice. Then it covers the races of Diomin, the Arak, Tirasim, Zeredites, Gadianti, Gnolaum and Hearthrom.
The adventure itself has an Adventure Background, Adventure Summary and 3 Chapters each containing several encounters. The adventure itself is very linear - do this, do this, then do this, do this and finally do this. It doesn't particularly suffer from this as it makes for a simple introductory scenario.
All of the Encounters come with stats, there are several new species (Gnolls and Hollow Ones) and a new spell (Speak With Spirit). There are a number of pregenerated PCs which are interesting enough, although character heights seem to bear no relation to their SIZ characteristics. The NPCs are very sketchy and I find it hard to believe that Iblis-Enkili is a powerful wizard as he only has 9 spells. Each PC is described with almost a page of text and each NPC is described in a single paragraph.
Although this is set in the City of Immer, that city is not described at all. Perhaps it was described in a D20 sourcebook or will be described in a RQ sourcebook.
This is well laid out, clear and easy to read. The illustrations are good. It's a nice little scenario, not too challenging but easy enough to run.
|Recommended For:||Diomin GMs|
This comes as a 32 page PDF set in the world of Qether. It is well laid out, clear and easy to read. There are illustrations throughout and these are very nice. There is a map of Diomin at the back that covers the main areas.
The main races of Diomin are covered. These are the Arak, Tirasim, Zeredites, Gadianti, Griolaum and Hearthom. These are also found in the Danger in the City of Immer supplement and it seems odd that they appear in both.
The Geography, History and Recent History of Qether are described, as are its notable personalities. All notables have detailed descriptions and stats. It describes the places of Qether, the fort, blacksmith, inn, temple, store, farm and shrine. These are well described, not in great detail, but certainly in enough detail to be useful.
The Adventure itself is very linear and straightforward. It is really an introductory scenario. But, there are several scenario hooks or ideas at the end that could be used to kick off new scenarios.
Is it good? Well, it's OK. The village/fort of Qether is well described. The scenario is basic and simple. If you want a quick single session scenario set in Diomin then this will do the trick. Since it is so cheap, it's probably worth buying if you are planning a Diomin campaign.
|Recommended For:||Anyone who wants orcs etc. in their campaign|
This comes as a 9 page PDF and is the first of Seraphim Guard's "Plain Wrap" RuneQuest supplements. Basically, these are no frills products, no full colour artwork, no glossy pages, simply plain PDF files. Is this a good idea? Probably, but it all depends on the content of these PDFs.
This supplement gives RQ stats for goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, ogres and orcs. It also has stats for Dire Weasels and Worgs. Each species has characteristics, hit locations, weapons, special rules, organisation, environment, psychology, language and physiology.
The characteristics are good, on the whole, if a little bland. The descriptions are not sketchy but suffer from being completely generic. If you put goblins in a world/game context it would make them a lot more interesting.
The booklet is well laid out, very easy to read, but has all headings in lower case, which jars a little.
I'm not sure about the descriptions of the size of the creatures, so goblins (SIZ 6) are three feet tall, hobgoblins (SIZ 10) are 5 foot 5 tall, kobolds (SIZ 5) are 2 1/2 feet tall, ogres (SIZ 19) are 9 feet tall and orcs (SIZ 13) are 6 feet tall. These do not gel with RQ2/3 sizes.
All in all this is a reasonably good supplement. It is very basic, but that's part of the design brief. If you want goblins, orcs etc in your campaign then this is worth getting. If not, then it isn't. But, at a ridiculously low price, it's probably worth getting anyway.
|Recommended For:||Any GMs wanting a throwaway outlaw gang|
This comes as a 9 page PDF and is the second of Seraphim Guard's "Plain Wrap" RuneQuest supplements. As such, there are no pictures or artwork, except for a map of a likely hideout for the gang. It is clear and well laid out, but the sun headings are all in lower case, which is tiring on the eyes.
The Backstab Gang is a small outlaw gang, in a generic setting. It contains five outlaw members of different species. Each personality has a detailed description and statistics for use as difficult or tough enemies. The statistics are reasonable and detailed enough to be useful. Each set of statistics has both skills before and after penalties are taken into account, which saves working them out. The gang members include a duck and a couple of goblins, so they are definitely RQ NPCs rather than tied to a particular setting.
If you need a pregenerated set of statistics for a small outlaw gang at a reasonable price, then this will do the trick quite nicely. It is short and sweet, it doesn't pretend to be something else and is a good addition to the Plain Wrap Supplements. If you have a traditional Gloranthan campaign then this won't be much use to you, but if you need a throwaway outlaw gang then this is just the thing.
A Dozen Free Legendary Abilities
|Recommended For:||People who want new Legendary Abilities but don't mind the layout|
This is a Free 8 page PDF from Ronin Arts and is available for download.
Although this is 8 pages, only 4 pages actually contain content, the others being a cover page, introduction, about the author and the OGL. But it's free, so we can't complain about its length. There is good artwork throughout.
The layout is, unfortunately, awful. It is 2 columns througout, except for the main table, and the abilities are split both across columns and across pages. This makes them very difficult to read. It wouldn't have taken long to reformat them so that most of the abilities were contained to a single column or page. I found this frustrating and hoped it was restricted to this product, but unfortunately, see below ...
The Legendary Abilities themselves are in the same format as those in the RQ Rulebook and there is a good little table summarising them. The actual abilities are of mixed quality. Some, like Accuracy of the Gods are just extensions of other Legendary Abilities. Others, like Champion of the Bear are nicely thought out LAs. I didn't like the Divinetouched ability, seems like a GM cop-out to me. I didn't understand how Runestrike was supposed to work, as it didn't depend on which rune was used or how many runes were attuned, it also seemed a bit weak to me. I didn't like Unlocking a Past Life, either, as it doesn't seem a real reflection of the past lives.
Still, overall this is fine. Had I paid for it I would be a little unhappy because of the layout and quality of some of the LAs. But there are some interesting ideas here and most of the LAs are useful.
|Recommended For:||People who want expanded professions but don't mind the layout|
This is a 34 page PDF/booklet from Ronin Arts, available as a printed book through Lulu, when she's finished singing. I bought the PDF as it is cheaper. It has a look and feel that is similar to the Dozen Free Legendary Abilities, but is suffers from the same appalling layout with things spread across columns and pages, making it difficult to read in places. The artwork is very good, though, the nicest artwork I have seen in a RQ product for a long time, so well done for that.
It advertises itself as having "An optional system that allows characters to start play with two professions", which it does, but buried on P23. I'd have put it at the front.
Each profession is described well, with a short summary, a bonus that the profession gets, Cultural Background and Basic/Advanced Skills. The Profession Bonus is a very good idea and makes them stand out from each other. Some of the skills are a bit odd, with Assassins not having weapon skills, other are very sparce, Leech only has 3 skills. There are a lot of professions here and they are sufficiently detailed to be very useful. Some professions are almost duplicates, Scout/Ranger/Hunter for instance, and they are missing interesting professions (Courtesan/Streetwalker for instance) buit, on the whole, a good attempt.
Overall, this is useful and interesting, with excellent artwork, spolied only by the appalling layout. I'm beginning to think this is a general Ronin Arts problem and hate to think that this might be a design choice.
If you want more flexible character generation or need some ideas for new NPCs, then this is worth buying. Would I buy it as a book rather than a PDF? Probably not as I am not GMing a RQM game. It is definitely good enough to get printed out if you can bear the price and the printed copy looks very nice.