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Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/21/2012 00:29:07

This was really a no-brainer as a purchase for me; first, I love Kenneth Hite's work, and second, I love HPL (faithfully playing Call of Cthulhu since it first came out back in the day). This really ought to be titled "Tour de Force," given Mr. Hite's discussion of virtually every story HPL ever published (certainly those under his own name). His comments are insightful, and he clearly loves his work. I found it to be illuminating, though being a major fan of HPL's, I was already aware of some of the more broadly accepted critiques and commentaries. If you enjoy HPL's stories, if you play Call of Cthulhu, if you even like campy B-Movies (a surprising number of which are based at least loosely on Lovecraft's work), this is a book you'll enjoy very much.

The price is great, and the content is well worth it. As usual with RPGNow, the quality of reproduction was outstanding. All in all, I'm very pleased with this one. Thanks Kenneth!

I also liked the license plate on the bus! :-)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales
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Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales
by kyle s. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/21/2011 14:12:30

I was first introduced to writer and role-playing game designer Kenneth Hite thanks to the excellent HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast. Gamers out there are probably familiar with Hite from his work on GURPS and the superb Trail Of Cthulhu RPG.

Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales is a collection of Hite's thoughts on each and every tale by weird fiction author and father of the Cthulhu Mythos HP Lovecraft. And it is damn good! Fans of Lovecraft will find, well, a lot to love here. Hite offers wit and true insight on many of our favorite weird tales. For the "noob", Tour de Lovecraft is a perfect guide for the literary fan looking to explore Lovecraft's often obtuse work.

A must buy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales
by jim t. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2011 12:53:51

Not a whole lot to be said here. IF you've read Mr. Hite before you know he loves to use his $2 words and at times tends to ramble a paragraph too long, but if you like Lovecraft, this is a can't miss book. Well worth the purchase price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ken Hite's Dubious Shards
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/08/2011 16:11:42

Ken Hite is one of the most interesting and original thinkers working with the subject of Call of Cthulhu and Dubious Shards shows him at his esoteric best. He weaves together interesting bits of information that by sheer coincidence seem to confirm the most bizarre contentions of HPL while at the same time showing the prospective Keeper how to do the same thing. His knowledge spans enough different and seemingly mutually exclusive areas of knowledge to astound the reader with the bits of "corroborating" evidence he places throughout his topical wanderings, and yet he retains the joy of discovery as he does so. You fully expect him to exclaim at the end of one of his articles "And you can even use Zeppelins!"

Dubious Shards is another collection of his articles, this time focusing on some of the more salient features of Call of Cthulhu, including Irem of the Many Pillars, Dunwich, "Yog-Sothothery" and its use by the Keeper to evoke atmosphere and develop scenarios and even campaigns, an article on HPL himself, and so on. While his guidance scarcely falls into a "step-by-step" guide, he does evoke the spirit of HPL and provides some data that can be used by the dedicated Keeper to begin researching his own connections. Perhaps his most important piece of advice, however, is to "become paranoid" as you read through history in order to permit yourself to make those same leaps of connections that the truly insane can and do, and which are fully in keeping with the nature of the creatures (and their nefarious plots!) that Call of Cthulhu brings to the harsh light of day. The articles are interesting, and as noted, permit the reader to look up other bits of information and formulate ties between them, all the while keeping the idea of the mythos clearly in front of the reader.

In addition, this particular book includes a complete, ready to play Delta Green scenario. While I generally stick to the 1920s for my CoC campaign, I'm told that Delta Green is far and away the best modern era construct revolving around the mythos, and from what I saw in the scenario, it's a very good one with plenty of suitable places to hang additional plot hooks and adventures from.

All in all, I rated it a four -- simply because I'm NOT a fan of anything much outside the "classic" era of CoC and thus felt part of the book was "wasted;" however if you like modern era CoC, I'm betting you'll rate this book a "five+!"



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ken Hite's Dubious Shards
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Tehran: Nest of Spies
by Brian H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2011 21:43:58

Tehran: Nest of Spies is chock full of characters, events and other details to make a MacGuffin-chase in the turbulent Tehran of the late 40's a harrowing experience for your characters.

Friend and foe NPC Wild Cards are fully fleshed out and given plenty of back-up in the form of appropriate extras (Tehrani thugs for the Gorbecki gang, soldiers and man-apes for the Soviets). Real characters like the pre-Ayatollah Khomeini mix it up with fictional characters like The Scarlet Adventuress Kara Vania, which is an element of the setting I've enjoyed from the main Day After Ragnarok book.

Another great element of this setting and its supplements is the Savage Shortlists which either add to the flavor with "Top Five Tehran Touches" which gives you some of the feeling of Tehran's personality and culture and the "Top Five Tehran Sights" which gives you some real-world places for your characters to visit.

Easy-to-use encounter tables are included to add some spice to you time in the city. An Allegiance Table creates an interesting twist as it allows you to randomize a character's overt allegiance as well as the one he/she keeps to him/herself. Then, there's always the chance that those "allies" you thought you had might betray you. This supplement provides you with the means to keep that mystery even from yourself.

The provided adventure is a search for something called the "Peacock Key". Suggestions as to how the PCs hear of this and what the key actually is are suggested but the truth is left up to you. All that's important is that everyone wants it.

Some Persian-inspired creatures are included in this supplement and the Ganj, a "jewel serpent" fits in perfectly with the snake-filled themes of the setting.

Although this is a supplement to The Day After Ragnarok, Tehran: Nest of Spies could be used for just about any mid-20th Century romp in the Middle East with minor tweaking.

This is more than just a one-shot adventure. There are too many intricacies and players involved in the provided adventure that it would take a few sessions to really flesh out and pace well, but it is a very well put together and researched product.

Recommended for post-apocalyptic, Persian, "sub-machine guns and sorcery," and Dieselpunk enthusiasts.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tehran: Nest of Spies
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Cthulhu 101
by Terry B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2011 20:26:31

Do you like Cthulhu? Do you like to laugh? Are you a noob to this entire topic of Cthulhu? Then this book is for you. Join the cultists worldwide, today! Don't be left in the dark.

This book is great, my hat's off to Kenneth Hite. The illustrations are hilarious, the text is very informative, and humorous. It brings a new age of enlightenment for both old, and new fans of Lovecraft, in short humorous bursts that are very digestible. I highly recommend to anyone interested in Lovecrafts' Cthulhu, or anyone who just wants to know what all the fuss is about. I found the Media lists to be very enlightening on all things Cthulhu in many different forms of media, from movies, to music, to video games.

WARNING: This product contains the Elder Sign. Viewing of the Elder Sign may cause Sleep Deprivation, Horrific Nightmares, and sudden artistic impulses to make figurines of the sleeping God Cthulhu. This review was paid for by Cthulhu/Cheney 2012, and Cthulhu Cults Worldwide Inc. We now return you to your regularly scheduled dream.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu 101
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Serpent Scales #3: Return to Monster Island (Savage Worlds Edition)
by Tim R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/27/2010 11:33:25

Fair Disclosure: I love, Love, LOVE giant monsters. And Return to Monster Island is itself a love note to Kaiju movies, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Harryhausen's movies, and more. Add this to the fascinating Day after Ragnarok setting and you've got a product that scratches nearly all my itches.

Now, before I get into it... maybe it's me -- I'm definitely more accustomed to full-book setpieces that are either complete adventures, complete settings, or complete environments that tend to run upwards of $20. This book isn't trying to do that, and in some ways it confuses me. Now, I admit that I run a little bit grognard, so take my confusion with a grain of salt.

In many ways, Return to Monster Island (and for that matter, all of the Serpent Scales product line) is the tabletop equivalent of video game downloadable content that adds on to DAR: affordable bits and pieces that game masters can use to enhance their game. Most other similar products I've seen are geared towards players, i.e. the Wimps Guide to Complete Badassery; The Tome Arcanos of Mighty Power, and other such books that I roll my eyes at when a player produces their new idea for character powers or gear.

The only apparent downside to Return to Monster Island is that it ends up feeling a little bit disconnected. In much the same way a book full of character options often feels like it has no specific relation to the game at hand, Return to Monster Island can feel a little bit messy (see my grognardism two paragraphs back). That said, it's not meant to be an adventure; it's not meant to be a complete setting. It's an add-on, and it fully succeeds at that.

If you're looking to bring a little bit of Kaiju to your Day After Ragnarok game, it's a very solid entry; but I still wanted a little bit more cohesion overall. Four Stars.

  • These are meant to be made-up products to support a point. I'm fairly certain they don't actually exist.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Serpent Scales #3: Return to Monster Island (Savage Worlds Edition)
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The Day After Ragnarok
by Matthew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/04/2010 07:08:13

There is very little I can add that has not been mentioned in previous reviews. Suffice to say this an incredibly wide and deep game world. Almost too much so. There are so many good ideas, so many adventure possibilities, it can be overwhelming!

It is also presented very nicely, in a single column format that makes for easy reading on a computer monitor. No need to constantly scroll back up the page to start a second column here! The illustrations are of a generally high quality.

Also, it's worth having a look at the anti-piracy notice on this and other DAR products :).

Overall: A superb product, that shows a lot of thought and dedication. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Day After Ragnarok
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Serpent Scales #2: (Happiness is a) Sten Gun (Savage Worlds Edition)
by Matthew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2010 19:01:47

The Sten gun was a cheap and nasty weapon, designed for rapid mass production at low cost. Whilst cheap, this supplement certainly isn't nasty, continuing the very high standard shown in all Day After Ragnarok products.

A quick history of the weapon is followed by a basic description of it's construction. Next comes an overview of the pro's and con's. Stat's for the two most common version are next, along with some optional rules that capture the gun's idiosyncrasies. There are even adventure ideas, and suggestions for magical enhancements.

Overall, this is an excellent supplement for it's cost. Whilst not perfect (there's no mention of the mark 4, for example) it gives a lot of background information and rules mechanics. Some of the ideas here could be used in other WW2 type settings. And, as always, the production standards are very high.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Serpent Scales #2: (Happiness is a) Sten Gun (Savage Worlds Edition)
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Cthulhu 101
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/09/2010 23:01:02

If you take your Cthulhu mythos really, really seriously, this book isn't for you. But if mixing the Great Old Ones with cheeky humor and a heaping helping of scorn for August Derleth appeals to you, stop reading this review and just buy this accursed PDF. (I mean "accursed" in a good way.) Kenneth Hite, undisputed master of all things Lovecraftian, takes readers on a rollicking good tour through the Cthulhu mythos and other corners of Lovecraft's eldritch universe. The book has more nuggets of actual good information than your average scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough has chocolate chips, and the tone is anything but tenebrous. Where else, I ask you, can you find half a dozen different "canonical" pronunciations of "Cthulhu," fourteen misspellings of the blasphemous name, and a top 40 countdown of Cthulhu-related music, not to mention Drew Pocza's whimsical drawings? Hite writes with amazing verve, zest, and foetid humor (or is that "fetid humour"?). In the time it's taken you to read this far in the review, you could have already covered the first four or five pages of the book, and had a lot more fun. On the negative side, I must admit that, despite my enjoyment of this book, I could find no reasonable way to work the words "rugose" or "squamous" into this review without making up libelous and completely unfounded statements about the author's physical appearance. So just buy this book already, and read it at once. Or Cthulhu will eat you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu 101
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The Day After Ragnarok
by Ron M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2009 17:11:57

The Day After Ragnarok From: Atomic Overmind Press Reviewed by:  Ron McClung

The Day After Ragnarok is a new Savage Worlds RPG Setting Book from Atomic Overmind Press. The Day After Ragnarok is an interesting setting book that takes the absurdity of the mythological occurrences of Ragnarok and makes them happen in a world torn by World War II. It takes the question we all like to ask ... "what if ...?" ... to an extreme.

Setting: My knowledge of the Ragnarok myth is sketchy at best, but with a little research I was able to get the idea. Most gamers are very familiar with it because it is one of the cornerstones of mythology on which we base most fantasy worlds. In short, it is a series of events according to Norse mythology that marks the end of the world.

The Day After Ragnarok (TDaR) is a world after a series of events that started in the twilight of World War II. The Nazis, dabbling in the occult and mythology, found the proper ritual to bring about Ragnarok. However, as one can imagine, it did not turn out the way they thought it would.  

From page # 1: “Welcome to the world at the end of the world. The skies are shrouded with burning, oily smoke, the Earth groans under a poisoned corpse, and the only way out may be deeper into the belly of the beast. It’s a world nearly killed by the death of wonder, although far from all the wonders are dead. Put the “grim” back in “grime” and see the world outside the smeared Perspex windscreen.”

 In mid-1945, the howl of Garm was heard and the moon turned blood red. The huge head of the Midgard serpent rose from the Arabian Sea. However, old world mythology was met with American ingenuity. Truman rammed an atom bomb right up the serpents nostrils.   

The results were a mixed bag. Yes, the nuke obliterated the brain of the colossal beast, but this also brought what is referenced in the book as Serpentfall. With the head the size of a medium-sized country, the serpent tumbled across three continents, crushing everything in its path. The world map quite literally has an immense snake laying the British Isles, middle and eastern Europe, and across Africa with its head pulverizing Egypt. All of Egypt.

This fall also created tsunamis that annihilated the east cost of the US, radioactive venom clouds that poisoned most of the rest of the US mutating man and beast alike, and earthquakes that awoke giants in Eastern Europe and Western Russia. The world fell asunder when the howls of Garn were heard, and what remains is an apocalyptic world of strange tech, mutants, and supernatural pulp fiction heroes.

From page # 1: “ See it smolder. See it burn. See if you can save it."

Content: The 130-page PDF contains all you need to play in this world except the core system rules, of course. Those can be found in the core Savage World rulebooks. 

After a brief introduction that gives you the general idea of the setting concept, the book takes you into creating a hero for the setting. It supplies a number of character concept ideas, including Arcane Scholar, Barbarian, Oilman, and Outlaw. It also supplies a guideline for forming your character role in the party as well as addition professions for the Professional Edges in the main Savage World rule book.

What this game falls a little short in is the area of nationality. It does touch on characters originating from what is left of the US and the British Commonwealth, but there could be so much more. Many games do this though, so I can not blame them. In a game like this, nationality would play a big role. I just see this as a lost opportunity to differentiate characters even further. That's a big thing for me.

There are 5 new Hindrances including Blank Stare, Holy Roller and Snakebit. Following this are several setting-specific Edges. These include Background Edges such as Arcane Background for Magic, Miracles, Psionics, and something called Ophi-tech. Also included are Professional Edges like Airman, Rhodes Scholar, Soldier, and something called a Speleo-Herptologist.

The Gear section is very comprehensive. It covers all the primary essentials for a hero to have in the late 40s and early 50s. The use of historical clip art of some equipment enhances the feel and atmosphere of the game setting. Following this is the section on Ophi- Tech. This is expanded on later.

The section titled The World After Ragnarok is a comprehensive overview of the world after Serpentfall. What I am impressed with in this portion is the brevity but also the completeness. The author gives you a lot but not too much. From the Drowned Coast and Poisoned Lands of the former US to the lands that were southern Egypt and the Sudan, now called Ras al-Thuban (the Head of the Serpent); from the politically active jungles of Latin America to the cold mysteries of the Stalin regime in the Soviet Union; the world is a place jam-packed with adventure and intrigue. Soviets are the main "bad guy," but no one should discount the Nazis as they were never entirely defeated.  

What I like most about this section are the sporadic Savage Shortlists throughout the text. These are short lists like Top Five places to be Attacked By Pirates, Top Five Places to Find A Remote Castle Ruled by a Madman, or Top Five places To Stomp Nazis. These are brilliant little nuggets of ideas for adventure locations and help inspire you to jump right into the game setting.

The remainder of the book is a plethora of information for a game master to run a game in this brilliant setting.  Born of Venom and Ice is a chapter containing nothing but stats of bad guys - NPCs and creatures alike. From the mundane policeman and common thug to the more exotic cultists and elite soldier, the non-player characters are quite abundant. When they are not enough, the game master has creatures like chimeras, ghouls, death-worms, giant alligators and front giants to choose from.

Adventures in the Serpent's Shadow is a chapter that gives the game master a variety of ideas for campaigns in the setting. It first provides four campaign types and an outline of adventure seeds for each. Then it contains an Adventure Generator that allows the game master to create adventures with the roll of the dice. This plays true to the core philosophy of Savage Worlds itself in that it makes it easy to quickly sit down and start up a game. This is followed by a few samples that were rolled up with this generator system. Ending the book are two very nice things. The Appendix supplies the GM a series of very handy encounter tables in case you can not come up with something for your characters to fight. It ends with a very complete index, which always gains bonus points from me.  

There are several key concepts in the game that give the game its overall feel and uniqueness. First, the appearance of a gargantuan serpent alone showed the world of burgeoning modern science that the impossible can exist and defy all logic and science. This opened a door that none thought possible. Also, the death of a snake through a nuclear blast caused side effects that no one saw coming. And finally, the sheer immensity of a dead snake laying across multiple continents has given people access to things no one thought existed.

In addition, the coming of Ragnarok has brought into this world Magic, Miracles and Psionics. Magic is tricky and dangerous. Miracles are possible through many different faiths. Soviet experimentation into psychic powers has created psionically capable people, although the rules do not recommend characters take on this role.  

Another addition is Speleo-Herptology, the study of the Midgard Serpent corpse and its secrets. Literally it translates to "serpent cavers."  They explore the immense corpse of the Serpent; as it is so huge, climbing between its scales is like exploring great caves.

Also, Ophi-tech is a very unique concept presented in TDaR.  It is biological and chemical technology derived directly from things found within the Midgard Serpent's corpse. These include Ablative Metabolic Suit (a type of protective suit made of Serpent-skin), Crotaline Drops (eyes drops that allow one to see in the dark) and Ophiline (refined Serpent oil - a replacement to petroleum oil).

System & Rules: As mentioned, the setting adds several Hindrances and Edges. Also mentioned was the fact that it expands the Professional Edge to setting-specific professions. The mechanics that the book adds are primarily optional rules like the rules for Serpent Taint and the rules for Ophi-tech malfunctions and the possible consequences.   

Layout: Simply put - it is awesome. The book is very well laid out and well edited. The art is very good, from the filler art at the start of each chapter to the character art for the NPCs.  

In conclusion, this game has a lot of appeal. Not surprisingly, it is written by multi-Origin and Ennie Award winner Kenneth Hite. This is a well written and thorough setting book with a lot in it. It is imaginative, different, and at the same time has enough familiarity that one can grasp the basic pulp fiction aspects of the game. Reading his words in the Inspiration section at the back of the book, he pieces together several disparate and unrelated ideas to bring together a brilliant and vivid world that drives you to want to play in it. Great job!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Day After Ragnarok
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The Day After Ragnarok
by Andrew G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2009 01:46:01

A grear 40's setting for affectionados of Pulp, cliffhanger, tubepunk, magic and monsters. Nazis, Cultists, Stalinists, Giants, and huuuuge Snakes! What more can you ask for

If I had a negative comment to make its that some of the fonts in the PDF are not common here (Australia), so getting it printed is a pain.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Day After Ragnarok
by Jason C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/15/2009 19:51:26

Simply put, this is the single most creative game world I've ever read. I've been rolling dice for over 20 years and NOTHING approaches the creativity of this game. I tried to explain it to my wife, realizing how silly I sounded discussing giant snakes, radioactive venom, Humanzees and the like - but it all works, and it works brilliantly.

Certainly there are other wonderful Savage Worlds products, and just as certainly there are other worthy Pulp game supplements. What this game offers better than any other game I can readily think of is an entire world placed into the GM's hand with ready-made fiction with which to tell EXCEPTIONAL stories. If you want the players to start in Europe (or what's left of it), there's a lifetime of adventuring opportunities there. America? It's going through its own hell, and you could run years of games there without ever leaving home. Asia? Well, the war in the Pacific never really ended, so there's conflict all across that continent as well...

Upon reading through the book, my mind raced with the stories I long to tell using this resource. I've never read a resource book cover to cover before, simply enjoying the creativity - but I did here. It's simply that much better than any other SW resource out there. And that's not a knock on Deadlands, Necropolis or any of the other GREAT SW books out there. They are fantastic. This is fantastic-er.

If you like Pulp. Buy it. If you like monsters. Buy it. If you like war rpgs. Buy it. If you like mythology rpgs. Buy it.

I am so glad I followed my whim and bought this product. It is a game world that I see myself playing in and running for a long, long time. I may or may not be running Savage Worlds in 3 years, but you better believe I'll be playing this in 3 years (while it's designed for SW, it's so well written that converting it to other systems wouldn't be difficult at all. Your mileage may vary).

Kudos to the author, kudos to the publishers and kudos to me. Why me? I got to read it - and it's THAT good.

The ONLY criticism I have for the product is that the pdf seems to default print at 6" X 9", so I wasted a few pages reformatting to fit a full letter-sized page. If that's a deal-breaker for anyone - that's too bad, because you're missing out on what is, in my opinion, the best game world available for Savage Worlds or any other contemporary game system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Day After Ragnarok
by Dennis M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/13/2009 16:51:20

Brilliant, simply brilliant. This source book is fleshed out enough to allow for detailed PC backgrounds to be written. There are enough gaps in the world background to allow your friendly neighborly GM to drop his own slice of the world into the mix with a minimum of conflict. The few errors I've spotted are quite minor, such as:

1) Using the photograph of a SMLE No. 5 Jungle Carbine as a depiction of a SMLE No. 4 Mk 1 Rifle. 2) Assigning the AK-47 damage stats that exceed the potential damage done by the M1 Garand and the 1903 Springfield.

These mistakes, small in magnitude and number, in no way overshadow the rest of the material. The only improvements I would make would be:

1) The addition of a timeline from, say, mid-1944 to the background's present day. 2) The addition of German weapons.

If you like pulp, this is for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Day After Ragnarok
by Terence C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2009 20:15:28

Conan the barbarian in 1948!!!!!!

Excellent game setting for Savage worlds. Very good pulp, post apocalyptic setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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