RPG Reviews Digest: 3rd Party 4E, Champions, Hero, Against the Darkness

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition has been getting some more reviewer love the last few weeks as another wave of third-party products hits the shelves. The two notable books are Advanced Player’s Guide (Expeditious Retreat Press) and Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist and Song (Goodman Games), and both are looking to fill the void left in D&D 4E by the omission of barbarians, druids and bards.

Meanwhile, Wizards is whetting people’s appetites with a free playtest version of its upcoming barbarian class for Player’s Handbook II.

Return of the Lost Classes

It’s been a while since I looked at any 4E stuff, as my attention’s turned almost entirely to Star Wars: Saga Edition. Coming back to it now with these reviews, it occurs to me that if I hadn’t done the 4E playtest or played WoW, I don’t think I’d have half a clue what they were talking about.
Strikers. Defenders. Healing surge. Primal power source. Daily powers. Encounter powers. It’s all a testament to just how much new jargon 4E’s generated, and how different a game it is from 3rd Edition.

I get it … but it cause this weird edition dissonance thing to my head.

Both 4E reviews come from Critical Hits, which was blessed with review copies of both game supplements: Advanced Players Guide and Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist, and Song. Both reviews detail some of the class mechanics featured in the books, and offer opinions on how well they jive with the official 4E rules. The general sense is that Advanced Player’s Guide has more of an old school feel (I’m assuming this is a reference to 1st Edition) while Forgotten Heroes is better for those converting from 3E.

A Butterfly Dreaming has a review of WotC’s own 4E Barbarian Playtest article from the Dragon webzine. It’s one of the last of the free articles we got to see before the D&D Insider pay gate fell. The reviewer likes the new class, although what’s presented only offers about half of what will likely end up in PHB2. The class revolves around a bunch of powers that grant the hero temporary hit points, which is useful since he/she is likely to have low Defense scores.

Superheroic Alternative

This month’s Blog Carnival postfest focuses on Super Heroes in RPGs, which makes me wish my own Infinity Storm campaign wasn’t on hiatus. But I digress.

RPG Blog 2 has posted a review of Truth & Justic RPG by Atomic Sock Monkey as its entry in the Carnival. The game uses ASM’s PDQ system, and supports a range of superhero tropes, from gritty street-level heroics up four-color world-saving adventures. Zachary runs through the game’s mechanics, gives an overview of its chapters, and talks about its superpower options.

has two superhero reviews up as well: Champions: Superpowered Role-playing, which provides a chapter-by-chapter review of the venerable supers game and Hero System: Sidekick looks at the stripped down version of the popular Hero system.

Against the Darkness

Finally RPGcentric has a review of Against the Darkness, a horror RPG by Tabletop Adventures. Eschewing the familiar cyclopian stylings of Lovecraft, the game instead offers “an exciting game of modern Vatican horror, conspiracy and investigation in which demons, ghosts and vampires exist to torment and feed upon an unprepared humanity.” The review’s based on a game the author played in at Nuke-Con (no relation to, ahem, Nuke(m)Con). The reviewer liked the game, and suggested that folks who enjoyed the Exorcist, Poltergeist, Buffy or Dark Shadows might enjoy it as well.

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