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Spirit of the Century
by Matt [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2023 08:25:45

Don't believe the five-star reviews. The people who made this had no respect for pulp stories or for roleplaying games. It's designed for a series of single-session games that are barely connected, if connected at all, with the only thing that does so being the same characters appearing each time. I genuinely don't think don't think the people behind this have actually played their own game, because otherwise they would know the types of players who enjoy games like that would never get into the roleplaying aspects of these games. Characters are another big fail for this game. All of them are meant to be the same age, have some connection to The Great War, and all are meant to be sociable, well-off people...even though they suggest wild man and criminal archetypes. Ignoring the obvious lack of thinking things through here, the forced lack of variety is made even worse by the fact that adventures in this game are meant to heavily skewed towards problems requiring the characters to use their fists, so that's even more potential characters rendered pointless. Oh, and advancing characters is discouraged, apparently ignoring how many pulp stories were serials where characters did change. FATE was not the system to pick for this idea, guys. Oh, and when characters do advance, it's supposed to be done with everyone advancing at the same time, regardless of how much they've actually been involved, because some thought doing otherwise is "impolite." Yeah, these people have definitely never played their own game. To top it all off, there's a half-assed metaplot that might've been interesting, except several core ideas behind it are not explained at all, so it's ultimately useless.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Spirit of the Century
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City of Red Waters
by Keith [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2023 20:30:18

This is basically 19th Century New Orleans for Blades In The Dark. If you’ve ever wondered how much of Blades’ appeal was the specific setting of Doskvol, this is a useful test case. It is not a different location within the established Shattered isles setting. Instead, you have a bunch of thinly disguised real world places (England, France, Spain, China, Africa, but peculiarly not the United States), that interact to create this cosmopolitan melange of a port city at the mouth of a great river. Not a bad idea.

But it’s all a bit disappointing, isn’t it? First, it’s pretty thin. Granted, it’s only $10 and I guess you get what you pay for but this is awfully light and not at all up to the standard of the original BITD. In the entire book there is one picture and worse, one map. That map is embarrassingly crude, especially in contrast to the beautifully evocative maps of Doskvol that BITD players have poured over for countless hours. You have neighborhood descriptions with key numbers but those numbers don’t appear anywhere on the map. Not great.

You could forgive the middling design elements if the writing and setting were really good. Sadly, they are almost as light as the art. There are three new crew types but I’m not sure they add much. Is it really going to be much fun to play a bunch of farmers? The River of Blood crew might be interesting but pushes the players into such extreme acts of violent terrorism that it literally comes with a content warning. The description of the city and the neighborhoods all feel cursory. If you know something about the history of New Orleans, you can see what the author is drawing on, where they have made changes and how to fill in the blanks. But if you know that already, do you need this book? There is a new vice system and we use blood instead of ectoplasm, but those potentially intriguing ideas are described so briefly that you don’t know what to do with them.

If I were consulting on revising this, I’d suggest blowing it out to twice the size and cost. Bring the design elements up to standard and flesh out the setting. Most of all, add some thoughtful guidance for how a game in this setting is different from one in Doskvol because right now, I don’t see why I would want to play here instead of the Shattered Isles.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
City of Red Waters
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City of Red Waters
by Graham [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2023 12:32:19

If anyone has spent any time in New Orleans, they know it kinda sucks. And like anything, it’s complicated. But the surface level stuff, like the infamous French Quarter, is fundamentally Disneyland. The architecture is gorgeous and the history is certainly real, if not brutally horrifying, but it’s largely a bizarrely synthetic facade for wasted hedonistic tourists to be, nay encouraged, as shitty and awful as humanly possible.  Which sounds like the perfect place to do crime. I wholly welcome Inverrouge (in-ver-rooj), the “City of Red Waters”, to the integrated setting of the Dunwall-wannabe of the original book. The lightning walls and leviathan blood of the evertwilight Prague was old Europe. So why not cross an ocean for the new imperial. Dishonored, in turn, was inspired by the 1990’s aesthetics of Looking Glass Studio’s iconic Thief series. “City of Red Waters” feels like the first real departure in this line of inspiration in a bold and exciting way. Ash McAllan’s work with the design and writing is stupendous. John Harper is back to work the layout and graphic design. The vital work of sensitivity readers Cass Redfield and Jabari Weathers is evident as well. To call the history of empire in New France “complex” is a gross understatement. “City of Red Waters” is a game of colonial horror (just known as “colonialism” to most of the world). So if you’re gonna dive into this cesspool of historical evil, you need to make conscious choices of what you present and how you present it. The intro page drops the thesis right where you need it: “In the city of red waters, colonialism makes vampires of us all.” Like the conquistador vamps from the MtG Ixalan setting, we’re matching monsters of history with the monsters of traditional stories.  See? It’s a metaphor! Do you like southern vampires, cosmopolitan or the swamp variety? They’re all here. The book’s three new Crew Types are hugely welcome, as in the many games of Blades proper I’ve played, no one has ever once wanted to play as the Assassins, and I can only sell drugs to ghosts so many different ways. The Emcees are partygoers and hosts, throwing galas, brokering deals, and blackmailing to their own ends. The River of Blood are the bloody revolutionaries. Who doesn’t want that. The Roots appear to be responsible for growing farmlands of literal Audrey 2’s, complete with blood feeding.  I can confidently say I want to play all of these things immediately. What the various “Forged in the Dark” games largely lack is the claustrophobia of the original. It really is an essential component of what does work about the deceptively complex number of different systems all at play in Blades. You’re gaining stress and Traumas, recovering only in small (desperate) ways, but unable to truly go to ground. You can’t actually leave the city to, as they say in mafia movies, “go lay low for a while” if the threats of danger ever become utterly untenable. It was a similar issue with the way Dungeon World missed with the goals of PbtA: there’s no spiral, no arc, no change. It just goes on and on and on. “City of Red Waters” has ramped up the intricacy of the historical inspirations at play. There may be no lightning wall equivalent, but the “pressure cooker effect” of building tension and trauma until you blaze out or collapse, as a cool cool thief or otherwise, is a very real consequence of empire, corrosive capitalism, and in this case, a powerful vampiric overclass. 46 Pages is the perfect length to approach this new content. It has everything it needs to achieve its goal, a subtly difficult needle to thread in the TTRPG industry. I have no compunctions about buying it posthaste. Some works just nail the pitch. 



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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City of Red Waters
by Marcus [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2023 20:21:00

Ran a one shot for one of my excited players in this setting today and she loved it. This a 50 page alternative setting for BiTD which feels different enough to be a surprise (love the Emcee's and the Bloody Farm) without being as wide a departure as other reskins. My player particularly enjoyed the way Vices were presented. I felt It's a strong value at the price point offered and I enjoyed the framework provided.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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City of Red Waters
by Brian [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2023 13:09:54

This is a great alternative setting for Blades in the Dark - it's a completely different world from the core Doskvol setting, so your scoundrels can operate in the daylight now. The city of Inverrouge is heavily inspired by 19th-century New Orleans, including divisions between the oppressive wealthy class, the impoverished working class, and emancipated former slaves. Magic doesn't rely on electroplasm, but on the inherent spiritual power of blood. It's a fascinating new place to play with the classic Blades mechanics.

There are also some nice new mechanical additions. Vices in this game escalate if you overindulge (e.g. gambling -> blood sports -> torture); overindulging too far may turn your character into a vampire. New crew types include a group of dissidents with a list of names to kill, a group of social climbers, and a group of farmers trying to scratch a living out of the blood-soaked dirt. All of the classic Blades crew types still work just fine here as well.

New neighborhoods, new factions - everything you need for a full campaign in a distinctive new world. John Harper did the graphic design and layout, so it's visually very consistent with the core Blades material. The writing is excellent and flavorful - my only regret is that there's not more content!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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City of Red Waters
by Dana [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2023 09:06:39

City of Red Waters feels like a Forged in the Dark game set in a colonial era analogue rather than a Blades in the Dark setting. Blades in the Dark gameplay is defined in part by the moral ambiguity that comes from living in an irretrievably broken world. Inverrouge’s problems by contrast have social causes which could theoretically be fixed. (e.g., the coercive colonial apparatus–the root of much suffering–could be dismantled and replaced with more equitable economic relations.) Compare that to Duskvol which has irreparable problems brought on by the cataclysm. (e.g., no amount of worker representation on the Duskvol City Council will bring back the sun.) The history of the setting is a thinly veiled retelling of European colonialism in the Americas. Inverrouge is not-New Orleans, settled by the not-French, who had to sell the colony to the not-British, after a destructive war with the not-Spanish. The downtrodden indigenous people are joined in their deprivation by former enslaved people whose ancestors were abducted from not-Africa and poorly treated migrant workers from not-Asia. The analogy is so one-to-one that it comes off feeling lazy. Because the setting tries to mirror colonial history, I doubt I would be able to run CoRW or play in this setting without having my own opinions color my experience. Maybe this is a selling point for you. This could be a fun setting for organizing a colonial uprising or something similar. If I run CoRW I would change the setting to a dark future of the one presented. Something to create the pressure-cooker environment of Duskvol. “The city of Inverrouge had begun to right the wrongs of the past and build an equitable future when the cataclysm struck. The seas roiled and the surrounding lands turned dark and deadly. A wave of refugees brought horrific tales of Magnus Mundi consumed by unquenchable fire.” I rated this product only two stars because, while it gave me some good ideas, I will need to do a lot of work before I can run the setting. Other nitpicks: the layout is nowhere as tight as Blades in the Dark. Entries spill across pages. There is no cartography that compares to what’s in Blades in the Dark. A single map shows the general location of regions but has little detail. For a setting that promises vampires there are surprisingly few. There are only two named NPC vampires in the setting book, both from minor factions. The mechanic for escalating vices is woefully under-explored–what we’re presented with feels like a first draft.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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The Clockwinders • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2023 04:25:14
The clock is ticking - a Mephisto review

The Clockwinders

Cadvini is an unusual world that does not rotate on its own axis. As a result, one side is transformed into a permanent inferno by the sun, while the other lies in an icy cold night. Only a narrow strip between these two extremes is suitable for living creatures to exist, which is why there are several towns and settlements here. Another notable feature of the world is the Clockwinders, an ancient organization whose job it is to maintain the so-called movement cores. The problem is that if the movement cores are damaged, they emit an energy that can be used by witches and magicians and also attracts strange beings from other worlds. Therefore, some groups are greatly interested in ensuring that the movement cores are not maintained. On the other hand, this can have disastrous consequences for the world as a whole. While the Clockwinders were an important organization for a long time in the past, they are now just a ragtag bunch who are barely up to their tasks and no longer really understand the background of their mission. Nevertheless, the Clockwinders have to face an critical and adventurous mission.

This World of Adventure for Fate starts with an unusual fantasy scenario and describes the world in short sections, as is usual for these books. The focus is on the central elements, such as the movement cores and the creatures that have entered the world as a result of their failure. As usual, this setting takes a unique approach to character creation and, in this case, uses the so-called modes, which comprise groups of skills. There are also a few additional stunts. Ideally, the setting should be played with the Fate deck, which allows players to have certain cards on their hands, allowing them to control their success better than with regular dice rolls. The idea of the adventure track, which logs success within the adventures and the resulting consequences, is also an idea that exists specifically for this game.

The bulk of the book, however, is a campaign that takes players from movement core to movement core and confronts them with challenges to repair them. They also encounter all sorts of interesting characters, such as witches, fairies, and other creatures, who have no interest in the player characters completing their work.

The Clockwinders introduces an exciting world and also provides the appropriate material for a mini-campaign. However, the story and background remain vague in some places, which is not always an advantage for the free interpretation of the game master but also gives the feeling that some details are missing. If you are looking for a somewhat strange but not wholly predefined fantasy scenario, The Clockwinders is a World of Adventure that offers a fitting background and fascinating rule mechanisms for using Fate cards.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Clockwinders • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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House of Bards • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/22/2023 13:27:46
Bards & politics - a Mephisto review

House of Bards

At the center of a gigantic empire lies a city-state that has grown over generations. For 17 generations, its emperor has waged war and expanded his sphere of influence. While it is the emperor's role to extend his empire's power, the council governs the city's fate. A unique role is played by the so-called House of Bards, which in some ways represents a somewhat unusual version of the press. The members of the House of Bards are reporters, troubadours, or editors who report on the events of the city and thus also have indirect political influence — and often, of course, their own goals.

What reads like a classic fantasy world in the first few sections of the book later takes a bizarre turn, as is usual with Fate Worlds of Adventure. House of Bards assumes that the players are members of the illustrious association and allows them to embody characters from a wide variety of backgrounds, each pursuing their own personal and/or political goals. This approach makes House of Bards a fantasy setting that is less about fighting monsters and more about using political influence, contacts, and power to achieve your goal. Accordingly, it is also about influencing the elections in the various districts. The book takes time to detail the city's administration and the different power players' interests. Of course, in a fantasy setting like this, there is also magic, and as a counterbalance to the magicians, there is a church inquisition that ensures magic does not get out of control. But apart from that, there are also other groups with their own goals, so House of Bards focuses on the political game of intrigue.

House of Bards is like many of the World of Adventure for Fate: the basic idea is given some unique twists and turns, and although some aspects of the game world are described well and in detail, other concepts are left open to provide some freedom for the gaming group. In addition, House of Bards has a very clear focus, as the political power plays and intrigues of the characters take center stage — and this can certainly put the player characters at odds with each other. Anyone who wants to try out a fantasy world that combines political intrigue with magic will find House of Bards an exciting starting point. However, for those who inevitably expect dungeons and monsters, House of Bards is definitely the wrong game.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
House of Bards • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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Monster of the Week: Codex of Worlds
by Conner [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2023 21:21:37

Too political for my blood. I usually like their stuff. Their last 2 books were great. A few fun things like the haunted house and the team playbooks, but too much of the example settings were baked in with half baked political views that the author personally has rather than just writing for the joy of the game. Ruined 3/4 of the book for me.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Monster of the Week: Codex of Worlds
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Bubblegumshoe
by Gabriel L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2023 08:55:36

Bubblegumshoe is advertised as an investigative and social game. And, for once, the talk walks the walk! Ironically, for a game that focuses on teenagers, BGS feels very mature. Instead of confusing social for asocial violence, it forsakes combat for drama instead. Here, clues are your swords, reputation is your shield, and self-perception is your "healthbar". BGS is all about the story, the characters and the setting, not your ahem "sword"... Very refreshing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bubblegumshoe
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Dresden Files RPG: Your Story
by David [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/23/2023 23:57:35

The FATE system lends itself nicely to the Dresdenverse, particularly allowing a very appropriate magic system. Mechanically, the rules are very good. Play balance is also good, allowing different sorts of characters to shine.

The rules are the final draft of a game (intended to be educational) written by some major characters, and include marginal notes. The rules are more fun to read than usual, due to this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dresden Files RPG: Your Story
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Fate Accelerated/Core Conversion Guide
by Stefan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2023 07:24:42

A really useful and clever conversion tool. It provides procedures on how to convert FAE characters to Fate Core and vice versa. Definitely smarter than what I would have come up with, and it provides some insight into the design logic of Fate.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Accelerated/Core Conversion Guide
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Fate Condensed
by Stefan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2023 01:49:35

Fate is one of my favorite RPG rulesets. It encourages player agency, and is really easy to pick up. And Condensed is a no-nonsense reference. If you're new to Fate, this is the only book you need, really.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Condensed
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Apocalypse Keys
by Lindsay P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2023 13:50:55

I love this game. The mechanics are so tight and I don't think I've ever seen a PbtA game that so deftly encourages players to lean into their playbook tropes. Perfect for groups who love being emotional wrecks, and I appreciate the GM tools such as advice about giving clues as well as the ticking of the mystery clock. Could not recommend this game enough.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Keys
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Fate Core System
by Sieghard H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/11/2023 08:43:23

Good idea, bad in practice. Damage system and stunts are non intuitive and to complicated for a rules light system. Tried to play fate with 3 different groups (both as DM and Player), all disliked the system and prevered to play something different.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Core System
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