RPG Reviews Roundup, September 2012

One of the good things about Dungeons & Dragons next-generation inspired publishing hiatus is that it gives other games a chance to shine. While I doubt gamers are suddenly diverting all of their D&D 4th Edition buying power toward other games, I do hope (and anecdotally this seems to be the case) that it gives folks a chance to try something new.

One of those new thing’s that’s generated a fair amount of buzz has been Margaret Weis Production’s Marvel Heroic Role-Playing, which is a Cortex-infused take on the superhero genere. I bought the core rulebook early in the summer and paged through it. Based on that initial glance, I liked what I saw, particularly with how it handled the superhero tropes of particularly solo vs. duo vs. team match-ups, but I give it a more through read-through.

The Civil War Premium Event Book is a hefty, 224 page book that combines the core rules with campaign material for Civil War, Marvel’s epic storyline in which the United States demands that all super humans register with the government. That demand leads half of the super hero community to register … and to fight those who choose not to. Those who already have the rules can pick up the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War Event Book Essentials edition instead of the premium book. Either way it looks to provide exactly the sort of campaign fodder that content-hungry game masters (or “Watchers” in Marvel parlance) need.

Critical Hits reviews the “Civil War” Event Book. The reviewer isn’t a big comic book fan (which seems an odd pick to review a comic book game, particularly one detailing the biggest Marvel storyline in years) but he gives it a fair shake and seems to like it. He has a few quibbles about the layout and chronology, but aside from that he enjoyed the book.

Agents of Oblivion looks like my kind of RPG: it combines Savage Worlds with espionage and horror to create a shaken-not-stirred kind of world. It’s perpetually been on my Amazon and RPGNow wish lists, but I’ve never pulled the trigger. That may change soon, as I’m contemplating running a few games at MEPACon Fall 2012, and AoO is near the top of the list.

Gnome Stew has a review of the game, and it looks as solid as I’d hoped. With a basic campaign setting, new edges, an equipment/knowledge requisition system, campaign tools, and a mission generator, it sounds like the sort of game I’d love to run, and maybe even a worthwhile successor to my Day After Ragnarok campaign.

As cool Agents of Oblivion is, no one does horror espionage better than Delta Green. The core rule books are now available on RPG Now and Age of Ravens offers a timely review of Delta Green: Countdown: Minutes to Midnight. I concur with their assessment: it’s a solid book, but it’s best to sip from it rather than try to drink the whole thing.

The Secret Fire is an Old School-inspired game inspired by Dungeons & Dragons. The Other Side reviews it, giving it 4 out of 5 stars. The review comes with a few caveats about design and presentation, but it’s largely positive.

Evil Machinations reviews Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep, the third GM utility book by Engine Publishing. The first two focused on providing specific tools (Masks offered hundreds of non-player characters, Eureka did the same for plots). This one cuts right to the chat and offers specific advice for gamers. The site loved the way the book walked game masters through the game prep process, offering advice that folks didn’t even know they needed.

I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, which offers a compelling spin on the standard fantasy genre and demonstrates his ability to write epic fantasy independent of his Wheel of Time work. I’ve been curious about his earlier Misborn work, which led me to check out Berin Kinsman’s review of the Mistborn Adventure Game. He does a good job of touring the book’s mechanics and delving its cooler features, like sidebar comments from Sanderson on the game’s design.

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