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API Anthology: Volume 1
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2010 00:56:58

This is kind of new territory for me...reviewing a fiction anthology, as opposed to an RPG product.

Hopefully it turns out better than my attempt at reviewing a video game the other day.

The API Anthology is the first anthology release by Third Eye Games for their Apocalypse Prevention Inc. setting (reviews of which can be found on my blog).

The API Anthology is a PDF clocking in at 92 pages with 9 stories featuring a few names that I recognize from the game industry and a few names that I don't...I'm cool with that: Everyone's gotta start somewhere, and I hear anthologies can be a great starting point.

The Apocalypse Prevention Inc. setting is a modern action-horror setting that is dominated largely by the very "Men in Black" type organization that hunts, captures and kills the demons that would threaten humanity. Every story in the anthology is set in this world, though not all of them necessarily revolve around the organization.

As is always the case with works featuring multiple authors, you are going to get different levels of work.

Unfortunately (or not, depending) the book begins with the weakest entry "Jezebel Sly, Private Investigator", with the titular character being beholden to working API cases after she gets involved in a supernatural incident. The story is a missing persons case with an API twist, but the authors attempts at making the main character jaded and cynical work too well...to the point that I honestly didn't like any character in the story.

"Girl Trouble" was another story that I had trouble with, for similar reasons. The heroic motivation of the protagonist never quite felt "real", and the payoff line at the end felt a bit cheesy and forced. This story, like the first, also cast API in a negative light, with the antagonist being a Burner serving as an API Agent. That said, the protagonist - an Oracle, who have bad luck effects on people around them - did have a VERY cool moment at the climax with the API agent.

"Back for Seconds" and "Fish on Dry Land" really capture the quirky, off-beat humor of the API universe, which is really not surprising with the former, as it was written by Brennan Bishop who has contributed some of the most disgusting aspects of the API universe (I'm not picking on him! He bragged about it!) and so his tale of Changelings as delicassies really hits on the black humor of the setting. "Fish on Dry Land" does a great job of portraying an overworked API unit and stars a Loch named Elvis. Both were entertaining reads, with humor intermixed with quirky drama.

"The Difference A Day Makes" features an API squad against a group of unlikely rivals with some very interesting pasts. I recognized the author, Rucht Lilavivat from White Wolf's Ravenloft line, and they did a very nice job of putting forth characters I actually wanted to read about...especially the laconic (until he needs to not be) Al. I liked both "teams" in the story, and thought it had a very nice payoff.

"Shut Up & Fish" has one of the smallest API presences in the book, but is a favorite of mine as it draws on the API Canada sourcebook, touching on The Thing Under The Ice (specifically, its effect on some poor saps who encounter it at sea).

"Failure To Communicate", ironically (or intentionally), does the best job in the book of presenting a situation from both sides: A wolf person trying to keep from losing control, and the pair of API Agents who try to stop him when he does. I particularly thought that the author did a great job of conveying the "change" in the wolf person's internal monologue.

"Loch, Stock, and Barrel" by Clint Black of Pinnacle Entertainment is probably the best offering in the book from a pure story stand point. The storytelling is tighter here than anywhere else, it hinges on a huge issue in the setting (Lochs and their difficulties reproducing) and one of the main characters undergoes a very noticeable change from the beginning of the story to the end.

That said, "The Pact" probably hit me the most with its sudden, abrupt ending. I can't say it was one I had never seen before, but the resolution surprised me with its execution, and in a good way.

The editing really needed to be tighter in a lot of places, with my eye catching typos here and there...and it seemed like there was probably an underuse of commas. In one story, I'm reasonably sure that a word got unintentionally invented. There was also an inconsistency in capitalizing the names of the demon races...for uniformity, I would have either capitalized all of them or none of them.

On a format note, I sideloaded the PDF into my Barnes & Noble nook, and the conversion process wasn't the smoothest, with my order watermark showing up at every page break (which was sometimes in the middle of the page) and one story have some odd fontal squishing going on. I'm not counting this as a knock against the anthology, mind you, just an observation...I'd love to see a release in epub format as well.

With much more good than bad, I would not be disappointed at all to see this truly just be volume 1, and for us to get volume 2 in the future. If you like API, or if you like reading action/horror fiction, it's a good buy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
API Anthology: Volume 1
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Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/27/2010 02:14:58

The Good: FILLED with plot hooks, great character options and a robust system that brings the martial arts alive.

The Bad: Minor editing issues and a few more examples of adversaries would have been great.

Conclusion: One of the best new releases I have read all year, period.

For a full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/09/tommys-take-on-wu-xing-ninja-crusade.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade
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Seafood Chowder (API Adventure) 1st Edition
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/27/2010 21:44:38

Great adventure that builds on the information in the Lochs codex without actually requiring the Codex for use. A straight forward set up the leads to an open ended conclusion.

For a full review see: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/08/tommys-take-on-api-seafood-chowder.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Seafood Chowder (API Adventure) 1st Edition
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Crooners (API) 1st Edition
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/27/2010 19:16:58

A very well done tribute to Andy Hallett, Lorne on the TV show Angel, in the API vein. A very cool, playable race for API, for free, and a classy tribute all at once.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crooners (API) 1st Edition
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API Demon Pack 02 1st Edition
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/27/2010 18:42:27

The Good: Three new races, each bringing a unique flavor to the API Universe. The Grandel manage to not be overkill in a game that already has a number of aquatic races, Dunbar offer a very different experience and the Olivers are good fun.

The Bad: The Olivers may cause some Kender flashbacks for some folks, in that annoying "party thief" kinda way.

For a full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/08/tommys-take-on-api-demon-packs.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
API Demon Pack 02 1st Edition
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API Demon Pack 01 1st Edition
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/27/2010 18:39:33

The Good: Three nice, flavorful races to add to your API game. The playability of each may be a tad limited, depending on your specific game, but they are all great flavor for an API GM.

The Bad: Art would have been nice, but otherwise, nothing to complain about.

For a full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/08/tommys-take-on-api-demon-packs.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
API Demon Pack 01 1st Edition
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API Worldwide: Europe 1st Edition
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/26/2010 16:22:45

The Good: As usual, some great ideas. I love the new races, especially the Morgane, and the Hidden Folk are a great twist on elves. The Knights of Solomon could make for tremendous antagonists or even an interesting campaign option.

The Bad: The book suffers from trying to cover too much with too little space. Whereas the first API Worldwide book made Canada feel PACKED, Europe comes across kind of anemic in comparison.

For a full review, go to: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/08/tommys-take-on-api-worldwide-europe.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
API Worldwide: Europe 1st Edition
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API Demon Codex: Lochs 1st Edition
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/25/2010 05:06:15

The Good: A sourcebook just CRAMMED with plot hooks, story seeds, new races and optional rules. Chapter one has enough information to run a whole campaign in an alternate dimension out of it.

The Bad: Cover art recycled from the corebook and the adventures stumble just a bit.

For a detailed review: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/08/tommys-take-on-api-demon-codex-lochs.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
API Demon Codex: Lochs 1st Edition
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API Worldwide: Canada 1st Edition
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2010 15:24:22

The Good: Most everything. This is like a "how-to" on adding new and compelling material to a game setting through supplements. All of it is truly optional, but just loaded with amazing plot seeds and character options.

The Bad: Er...it's not in full color, I guess? Seriously, if you like API, this is a no-brainer.

For my full review, please go to: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/08/tommys-take-on-api-worldwide-canada.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
API Worldwide: Canada 1st Edition
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Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade
by Mark G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2010 14:58:07

[Crossposted to the DM Sketchpad: http://grandwiki.wikidot.com/dm-sketchpad] Wu Xing - The Ninja Crusade is a new roleplaying game from Eloy Lasanta and Third Eye Games. Within the Empire, the ninja clans have been betrayed, their homes destroyed and their initiates hunted. For ages past the ninja have served and saved the empire countless times. Now the emperor, mislead through treachery, is determined to destroy all the ninja that infest his empire. The ninja are not taking their extermination lying down though…clan rivalries have been suppressed, and a tenuous coalition has been formed.

Before the Ninja Crusade there were ten ninja clans from bamboo herbalists (the healers) to grasping shadows (shadow assassins) to will of iron (honourable swordsmiths). Each clan worked independently often with deep-seated rivalry or even war with the other clans. That has changed, now individual members of different clans may be called together to work together as a unit to accomplish one mission or another for the Lotus Coalition.

The first part of the book provides an overview of the setting for the Ninja Crusade campaign. It discusses the role of the ninja in society and explains their role in the history of the empire. It talks about the previous ninja wars and the state of the ninja clans during the ninja crusade. The lotus coalition, an organization holding the clans together is discussed as well and how it functions in this time. The setting itself, the ten provinces of the Izou empire and the five surrounding kingdoms are detailed, mapped and explored in terms of their history, class, religion and geography.

The second part of the book begins to focus in on more information for players eager to get playing. The major ninja clans of the Izou empire are all detailed here with each clan getting three pages of information including narrative, history, lifestyle, agendas, character creation information and their feelings toward the other clans. I think my top three clans from this section are some of the least traditional: the Blazing Dancers, the Pack of the Black Moon and the Virtuous Body Gardeners.

The Blazing Dancers were originally a group of acrobatic performers from another land who were forced to flee to the Izou Empire after they embarrassed their own nobility. They are entertainers, warriors and strategists whose chi manipulation is focused on fire, movement and illusionary effects. The Pack of the Moon are more isolationist, having forged a deep bound with the environment their survivalists has a unique rapport with the beasts of the lands. Finally the Virtuous Body Gardeners are tattooed warriors who have broken off from another clan. They are up and comers who are not afraid to get their hands dirty or rock the boat.

Character creation is driven by choice over random die rolls. The process has six steps. Here is a sample character that I have created for this review.

Ember – Wronged Acrobat Passion Vengeance; Elemental Soul Fire Yin 0; Yang 3 Elemental Soul Bonuses +1 to parry for each successful attack they make Fire Imbalance Loquacious; Fire Depletion Overheated Clan Blazing Dancers Pow 6; Agl 8; Vig 5; Int 3; Ins 3, Chm 5 Wushu Bright Star (Level 1, Yang), Flame Arrows (Level 2, Yang), Tiger Leap (Level 1, Yang) Skills Acrobatics 6 (Balance), Athletics 5 (Climbing), Discipline 4, Legerdemain 5 (Juggling), Monkey Style 5 (Rolling Attack), Perception 3, Performance 5 (Dancing), Stealth 3, Survival 1 Gifts Ambidexterity, Attractive 3, Cat-Like Balance 2, Double-Jointed Health 28; Stamina 6; Initiative 18 Movement 14 ft./280 yrds/21 ft. jump; Actions Per Round 3 Combat Modifiers +1 damage, +5 dodge, +4 grapple, +7 parry, +3 roll, +5 strike, +9 throw

By the time you go through the 30 pages of history, clan specifics and character creation including a huge, huge pile of wushu powers you have blow through 70% of the book. Combat section of this book spans another thirty of so pages and introduces a host of martial arts weapons, codifies the combat actions into a standardized set. All of the martial styles (learned as skills) provide access to a number of combat bonus (at different rates) and a handful of unique combat actions. Together these two sections let you perform a wide variety of martial arts techniques along with the unique combat tracking sheet to allow a dynamic exchange of attacks and reactions.

The close of the book ends with a section of antagonists and a section on storytelling (GM advice). My one disappointment in this release is that there is no quickstart adventure or first mission to help get a new Wu Xing campaign off to a good start.

Overall, Wu Xing looks to be a very strong release. The book is rich with information, unique art and the mechanics of wushu and combat match well with the wuxia style that clearly inspired it. It is clear that a lot of love went into creating this release and it meets the high standard that I've come to expect from Third Eye Games' work.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade
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Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/23/2010 03:52:02

The Good: Brimming with plot seeds and balancing humor, horror and action with a delicate agility. The system is a bit on the crunchy side, but in the fun way.

The Bad: The production values are slightly on the weaker side. Nothing is overtly bad, but rarely does it reach beyond "functional".

Conclusion: Imagine CJ Carella's Witchcraft or the World of Darkness if they didn't take themselves so seriously. A GREAT corebook.

See a more detailed review at: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/08/tommys-take-on-apocalypse-prevention.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 1st Edition
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API Demon Codex: Lochs 1st Edition
by Mark G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2010 08:43:51

API Demon Codex: Lochs is a supplement for Third Eye Games’ supernatural secret agent game Apocalypse Prevention Inc. (API). It retails for $9.99 and clocks in at about 85 virtual pages from Rpgnow.

This large book is divided into four chapters and two adventures. The first chapter details the rise can fall of the creatures known to API as Lochs. This chapter details the history of this race and of their home dimension of Domainya. It describes their many bloody conquests, including their eventual defeat, sterilization and exile. This material expands on the details provided in main API book. It also provides a broad overview of the Lochs’ home dimension as well as API’s involvement in the reclamation of that dimension from the Lochs, Scryers and Linx.

The second chapter details the Lochs arrival on Earth from Domainya. They integration into our world and into the Apocalypse Prevention Inc. It discusses attempts to remove the effects of the contagion by API scientist as well as exposure to the demons known as carriers. It discusses the uncomfortable topic of crossbreeding humans with loch and the unfortunates deaths that always result from such unions. The undersea bases of API are discussed as well as the role of those stations and their crew in the preservation in human existence. The Lochs uneasy relationships with other undersea races with the Ondines being of particular important because the Lochs hope to conquer these natural residents to ensure their own survival until the contagion and be defeated.

The third chapter is probably my favourite chapter because it is focused on organizations related to the Loch and APIs interactions with these organizations. By far this chapter seems to be a “and here are some things you can do with the Lochs as allies and opponents” sort of chapter. It details aquatic alchemists – their distasteful practices and strange magic, Deep Green – a large corporation guilty of polluting the world’s oceans and now focused on ridding the world or the loch menace, lost tribes of loch that were isolated and split from the main group of refugees, the hooks – large lochs with a knack from solving mysteries and uncovering conspiracies, the Hope Foundation that works in relative secrecy to try to find more effective methods of human/loch interbreeding programs, the Red Steps – a subversive group of lochs that are working on killing and making humanity into sausage and jerky, and finally the colony of Superior City – a disputed Ondine/Loch location that is the home of the god Poseidon’s trident. This section of the book is filled with adventure hooks and campaign ideas to keep GMs busy for a long time. I think that Deep Green, the Hope Foundation and Red Steps are my favourites.

The four major chapter is the crunchy bit of this supplement. It contains roleplaying advice for players wishing to play loch characters as well as new passions, gifts, drawbacks and equipment for loch and other API employees with a focus on aquatic adventures. There is a host of aquatic alchemy items should an API character possess the necessary gift to craft them and the stomach to complete the rituals necessary. Closing out the chapter are a number of aquatic themed antagonists for both the earth dimension and for Domainya. Each of the major races (except lochs) is detailed with origin, appearance, lifestyle, gifts, drawbacks and specific Npc as well. It would have been nice to have sample NPCs for the organizations as well such as Deep Green, Red Steps and the Hope foundation.

The book closes with two sample adventures. The first is Deep Run the Tunnels and involves the API agents traveling to the home dimension of the lochs known as domainya in search of a missing agent and potentially a naturally pregnant loch. The second called Jaws Snapping in the Dark has the API agents tracking down and dispatching a number of poorly cloned feral lochs. Both adventures should provide agents with a night or two of investigation and adventure.

The Demon Codex: Loch is a excellent book for expanding the player character race options in your home games as well as providing GMs with a wealth of ideas for bringing lochs more prominently into your campaign.

(Cross-posted on the DM Sketchpad July 19th)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
API Demon Codex: Lochs 1st Edition
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Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade
by Steven L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/09/2010 12:13:55

[originally posted on RPGnet]

Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade is the second role-playing game made by Third Eye Games. Wu Xing takes much inspiration from anime such as Naruto and Avatar the Last Airbender and combines it with other Asian influences such as Chinese Kung-Fu. The setting’s end result turns out to feel a lot like Exalted blended with Legend of the Five Rings with a dose of Naruto thrown in.

The Book Itself

Currently, Wu Xing is only out in pdf form with the print form due out within the next few weeks. The pdf is 221 pages, and is bookmarked. The cover has a simple look with a white background behind a bamboo forest; the logo is over a splash of blood. The interior is black and white, and the artwork is of a high standard very fitting for the setting; I just wish there was more of it.

Chapter Breakdown

Introduction (Pages 3-7)

Wu Xing starts out with a brief synopsis of the game. Four years ago the Empire declared war on the ninja who were formerly their allies. The majority of ninja clans have banded together to form the Lotus Coalition to try to survive, stave off, or defeat the Empire in this latest war. However, even though the clans have unified for the most part against the Empire, this does not mean they are all fine with each other. Even while being hunted by the Empire the clans are still trying to gain the upper hand against each other.

Wu Xing has the usual “What is an RPG?” section that is simple and to the point. Wu Xing uses 3EG’s house system called the Dynamic Gaming System or the DGS. It is the same system used in 3EG’s first game, Apocalypse Prevention, Inc., with some minor alterations and lots of added options to fit the setting (more on the DGS later.)

Chapter One: Ninja VS. The Empire (Pages 8-36)

In Wu Xing’s history there have been 4 Great Ninja Wars (the fifth currently is taking place.) The first was known as the Orime Rebellion. During this time the Izou Empire was not yet in power and instead the Orime Dynasty was the top seat. When a large volcano erupted, causing mayhem all across the land, the people cried out to the Orime for help; the Orime laughed. The people began to ban together with seeds of rebellion growing. Eventually the people assassinated heads of government, generals in the army, and other leading noble families. They continued their hidden killings until the Orime Emperor himself was assassinated and the ninja were born into a world with new found freedom.

The Second Ninja War is also known as the Mercenary Wars. Due to the Orime Empire being fractured into several smaller nations, these nations started to grow suspicious of their neighbors and border fights began. The ninja became mercenaries for hire by powerful families and governments to protect what they considered their lands. After 10 years of this virtually all ninja were backed by a specific noble, whole clans were wiped out for not following this status quo. There is no real marker to the end of the Mercenary Wars; however, the traditions and structures created from it are still used.

The third war is the War of Withered Fangs. During this war a clan known as the Slithering Gods began to destroy and/or assimilate lots of the smaller and less powerful clans. The larger clans were arrogant and saw the smaller clans and ronin beneath them and let it happen. Before too long the Slithering Gods outnumbered all the other clans. Some of the larger clans decided to let the War be known by non-ninja and convinced many of the governments to help in the fight, to help the ninja to succeed against the Slithering Gods. Most nations helped for fear of losing the ninja (which a third of the clans were lost by war’s end) as their protectors from the unknown lands of the Five Kingdoms. The Slithering Gods did not stand a chance and conceded. The nations looked at their alliance and saw it was a wonderful thing; this was the birth of the Izou Empire.

The fourth war is known as the Expansion Wars. The Izou Empire now strong from victory set its eyes on more territory. The Empire began to expand and gain more control over lands owned by the Five Kingdoms. Using the ninja as their elite soldiers and assimilating more clans as they grew the Empire and its ninja became more prosperous than any other time in their history. But as the Empire grew, their need for ninja slackened and ninja became the target of the government and nobles. Ninja became hunted out and chi users were punished under new laws.

The fifth and current war is the Ninja Crusade. The Emperor has now called for the elimination of all ninja. The Empire has allied itself with parts of the Five Kingdoms to eliminate the ninja from the world. The ninja have formed the Lotus Coalition to fight the Empire.

I absolutely love the history here. It really sets up a great environment for play. It feels very much like Exalted to me not just in idea, but the description of the Empire and its surroundings. They both have a “bad guy” Empire surrounded by uncontrolled areas, and the main protagonists are hunted as Anathema, though they are not Godlike in Wu Xing they are powerful ninja. The book gives enough information about the locations to give a good sense of the setting, but lives lots of room for more detail from the GM or for future source books.

Chapter Two: Clans (Pages 37-69)

Wu Xing gives us the 10 most powerful clans in the Lotus Coalition. They are:

Bamboo Herbalists - The brewers were the first clan to realize chi’s potential for healing. They often ignore territorial warnings to hunt for ingredients to their brews. They are thrill seekers, and don’t mind getting into a little trouble for their thrills.

Blazing Dancers - The Blazing Dancers are not from the Empire, but originally from one of the Five Kingdoms. They are entertainers who hide their ninja ways behind the mask of performance.

Grasping Shadows - The Shadows are one of the oldest clans, and at one time were the trained assassins for the Emperor. Eventually the Shadows grew tired of being the Emperor’s dogs and turned against the Empire, using their powers over darkness against the Emperor.

Hidden Strands of Fate - The Strands are also an old clan whose history is full of inner conflict. They are fierce in their court play and masters of deception. Most of the Strands despise the rest of the clans, even going so far on occasion as to help the Empire with information that could hurt or destroy another clan.

Living Chronicle - These ninja are the scholars and historians of the ninja. After centuries of information was lost in a disaster, these ninja began to use tattoos and Wushu to record history on their very person.

Pack of the Black Moon - The pack began as small backwater people in small villages whose uncanny gifts with animals helped them to survive away from larger civilization. Then when the Grasping Shadows began burning their villages, the Pack became mentally bonded with their herd dogs, and turned the tide against the Shadows.

Recoiling Serpents - The largest clan, that lives in the jungles of the southwest. They are what remains of the Serpent Gods from the War of Withered Fangs so most clans do not like the Serpents.

Virtuous Body Gardeners - The Inks are one of the youngest clans of the ninja. They have learned to use Wushu through tattoos on their bodies. They can even assimilate small items into their tattoos for concealment and later use.

Wardens of Equilibrium - The Wardens are a clan created by several merchant families to try to hold on to peace at the end of the War of Withered Fangs. They are known to be the ultimate merchants with powers of persuasion that cannot be resisted.

Will of Iron - The Sheriffs are a clan that believes in protecting the innocent and making sure justice is served. They are known to have the world’s best swordsmen and smiths.

Ronin - Technically not a clan, but the clanless. The Ronin are those who outcasts or chi users who were never born into a clan.

These clans alongside the history known so far, makes me really want to play this game. Each clan as it is presented has my brain running with ideas for characters. Do I want to play a backwoods Pack of the Black Moon, lost in the cities, but powerful with his dog companion? Do I want to be the secretive Hidden Strands of Fate ninja who has plots unknown to others? Perhaps the aged and wizened Bamboo Herbalist knowledgeable in the ways of herbs and potions? The possibilities really roll around in my head with this setting.

Chapter Three: Character Building (Pages 70-119)

As said before Wu Xing uses the DGS as its system. Characters are made using a point buy system. The first step is to choose a concept and select your PC’s Passion. Their Passion can range from having a Code of Honor or greed to love or power. Next, the player decides what his Element Soul is, Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, or Wood. This decision determines a PC’s starting Chi, or how much permanent Yin and Yang they have. To finish the first step the player chooses their Clan. Their clan besides deciding their theme, also describes what Wushu, skills, and bonuses the player will have.

Step Two is to divide 30 points amongst the six attributes, which are Power, Agility, Vigor, Intellect, Insight, and Charm. These attributes are on a scale of 1-10 with 4-5 being average. Levels 1-8 cost 1 point per level and levels 9-10 costing 2 per level.

Step three is skills. All ninja start with some basic skills then get 30+IQ (Intellect) in skill points. There are 20 basic skills and then 11 fighting styles that are bought with skill points. Any skill not a clan skill is more expensive to buy. Fighting styles give bonuses for every level that add to things such as attack, parry, and dodge.

Step four is choosing your PC’s wushu or ninja powers. In total there are 20 different paths of wushu, half of them clan specific and half general ninja wushu. A ninja starts out with 5 levels in their favored wushu, Ronin start with 4 levels in any path. Ninja can buy levels in paths that are not favored by their clan later, but it costs more than favored paths.

Step five is spending bonus points on Gifts (and other areas) and gaining BPs through Drawbacks. Ninja start with 10 BPs and Ronin 12. These can be spent on attributes, skills, wushu, and gifts. The gifts/drawbacks are a basic advantage/disadvantage list that covers most things a player could want.

Step six is the final step and is calculating all sub-attributes which include Health, Initiative, and Stamina, as well as figuring all your bonuses to strike, parry or grapple.

Chapter Four: Wushu (Pages 120-153)

Wushu are the chi powers of a ninja. Each power is based either in Yin or Yang energy and therefore requires the expenditure of the appropriate type of chi points to activate. Wushu require an activiation roll to succeed which uses the base mechanic of the game except instead of an attribute the roll uses a PC’s permanent Yin or Yang chi. So a normal Wushu activation roll is 1d20+Perm. Yin/Yang Chi+Skill vs. a difficulty based on the wushu power’s level. Wushu also gains bonuses or negatives based on whether it is a signature clan Gift and when elements oppose each other. A ninja throwing a water wushu power at a wall of earth is -4 in his roll because of the opposing elements. The different paths of wushu are divided into 10 general wushu paths and 10 clan specific paths. The general paths are:

Way of Beasts Way of Earth Way of Fire Way of Metal Way of Movement Way of Survival Way of the Unseen Way of the Warrior Way of Water Way of Wood

The clan specific wushu are:

Way of Balanced Scales Way of Caring Hands Way of Ebony Clutches Way of Great Serpents Way of Heaven’s Judgement Way of Immaculate Show Way of Inked Skin Way of Kept Lore Way of Spun Threads Way of Twin Beasts

The chapter finishes with rules for creating your own wushu moves in play. Which is simple guidelines to keeping the wushu balanced with those given in the core book.

Chapter Five: Equipment And Combat (Pages 154-181)

The beginning of this chapter is lists and descriptions for the average items, weapons and armor one would see in the Wu Xing setting. This is then followed by the rules for combat. Wu Xing and the DGS’s main mechanics are 1d20+Attribute+Skill vs a difficulty number is not opposed and vs. the opponent’s roll if opposed. The DGS uses a sort of tick system in combat. Rounds are divided into 20 counts that equal 10 seconds all together. The winner of initiative begins the round on count 1 and then opponent’s start at a later count based on how much lower they rolled compared to the winner. Each action a player may choose has a speed which tells how many counts before the PC may take another action. Some of these actions are light, full and heavy strikes each increasing in speed and damage, aiming, grappling, using a wushu, etc… Players can gain bonuses and negatives in the next round if they had an action saved or if they over shoot their next available action into the next rounds counts. This type of combat adds a lot of exciting and tactical play in real life games; however I would find it a bit tedious to try to run online. The chapter ends with an example of combat a few pages long.

Chapter Six: Antagonists (Pages 182-198)

This chapter provides write-ups for the basic people and creatures player’s may encounter in the world of Wu Xing. There are basic animals such as bears and wolves, basic town folk and guards, stats for the Emprie’s soldiers, basic ninja stats, spirits and celestial animals, summoners and anthropomorphic races, and Oni demons. It seems to be a pretty good coverage and assortment of what a player would encounter.

Chapter Seven: Storytelling (Pages 199-220)

The final sections of the book are dedicated to the GM and give the usual basic advice on mood, themes, hooks, and types of stories. It is good advice, but nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary from most other games equivalent sections. The book finishes with a glossary of basic terms for Wu Xing both in and out of play terms. Next, is a two paged index which seems like a good listing, even though I never used it. There are charts for each fighting style and the bonuses they give each level, a combat count tracker, and character sheets. The last two pages are advertisements for Third Eye Games and for future source books for Wu Xing covering the clans and the Five Kingdoms (Yay!.)

Overall

I expected Wu Xing to be a great game due to my intense liking of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.; however, I didn’t just get a great game, but one I think I already like even more than API. I really love the Exalted like setting with the L5R’s type of inner clan conflict. The ninja wushu powers bring out the best in Naruto style powers. The setting and clan descriptions hooked me, big time, and I find myself wanting more setting information just to read much less play or use in a game.

Ratings

Style is getting a 4. What is in the book is wonderful black and white art; there just needs to be more of it. I felt like there was less in this book than in API, but that could be wrong in an actual count. If there was more art, or if this wonderful art ever got the full color treatment it would easily be a 5.

Substance is getting a 5. 3EG’s has a track record now of giving you everything you need to play and really get the GMing and RPing gears a rolling while making you hungry for more source books to flesh it out more and more.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade
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Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade
by Erathoniel W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/02/2010 12:49:01

On one hand, this game has an incredible amount of detail.

On the other hand, it's too complex for rapid-fire character creation, meaning that you'll take a while.

It has a lot of what I like from the d6 System style, with gifts and drawbacks. They allow ultimate customization of a character, at the cost of extended character creation. The fighting styles should always be presented as the tables in the glossary, in my opinion (and they should be referenced more loudly, since I tallied up my test character's fighting style effects by hand, leaving off only one point.

The game winds up applying massive modifiers to rolls. With +15 modifiers, plus the potential to add even more modifiers, oftentimes the dice become minimally active, taking a role only in the case of a critical failure or success, which oftentimes unbalances play, since the game seems to "fight" the dice, making them irrelevant (when it's possible to get a +10 modifier bonus on your opponent, it's pretty much no surprise as to which way the game goes).

I actually like it, despite its flaws, though, because it has an in-depth world, with lots of flavor and fluff to complement the rules, which are simple, if a mite overly complex.

If you want a ninja game, this is the best one I've seen.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
API Worldwide: Europe 1st Edition
by Mark G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2010 12:40:32

(Crossposted at the Grand OGL Wiki)

API Worldwide: Europe by Third Eye Games is a 90-page campaign supplement for the Apocalypse Prevention Inc. system. It retails for $9.99 at Rpgnow and is probably available at other vendors as well. While the cover indicates that this is a European sourcebook, there is not enough space to cover all the European countries in detail and instead provides good detail on the London home base of API and an overview of European sites that fall within their jurisdiction.

The book covers England in detail as well as provides background on many of the larger European countries as well as they current mystical or political entanglements as well as important locations. Two items from this section that I particularly liked were the mystical location known as the Hall of Dreams located in Budapest and the Bridez of Dracula, a folk rock group of Taylari who are touring Romania. There are a lot of adventure hooks scattered throughout this first section of the book.

This book expands the API’s involvement with other groups. It provides details on the history and formation of API, their interaction and acceptance of demon agents, and provides statistics on four major players in the API organization including it leader Jonathon Nisbett. In addition to the API they provide details on other organizations that either support the API like the magic-based Rosicrucians, hinder the API like the Inner Cabinet (selfish in all ways) or the Knights of Solomon (with an opposing view of what salvation means). There are also a couple of couple of organizations that could conceivably fill either role depending on the circumstance and I think I like those ones the best as they will provide greater ambiguity in what the heroes should or should not be doing that is so necessary for increasing the tension in the game.

For those looking for crunchy bits there are new pieces of equipment, oath magic, magic items and a handful of classical monsters as well as the new primary races of Chirons (centaurs), Fauns, Hidden Folk (possessing elves), and Morgaines (soul-eating outsiders which can perceive the intricacies of fate). The product ends with a module for agents to undertake from the London office. Now I should be very clear that I like that Third Eye Games included an adventure. In a world where fewer and few rpg modules are being created it is nice to see a small adventure included with this sourcebook. The thing that strikes me as strange about the included module is that it is not very Euro-centric. It doesn’t include any of the new power groups or any of the new primary races and the majority of it takes place in an alternate adventure. It seems to me that you’d want the adventure to include many elements from the sourcebook. That said there is nothing innately wrong about the module and it could serve wells as a 2nd or 3rd API Europe adventure. I think as a 1st mission it may have too dire of straights for new players.

There a couple of editing gaffs here or there like the common (page XXX). But they are few and far between. Overall, API Worldwide: Europe looks to be a very solid book for GMs looking to set their adventures in Europe or work out of the London branch.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
API Worldwide: Europe 1st Edition
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