Published on 2/27/2012 Written by 3 comments

Help me not suck at Google+

After my last post I've been using my sorely neglected Google+ account more and have realized that that's where all the cool kids are hanging out. It seems like the whole rpg gaming community is all on Google+ and I've more or less missed it all.

So help me not suck and look like such a noob and be so kind as to add me to your rpg circles, and I will add you to mine.

Maybe I'll get it together sometime soon and run a game in hangouts... I'm thinking AD&D homebrew.

Click on the picture above or click here for my profile.

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Published on 2/17/2012 Written by 3 comments

If you use Google+ for gaming this looks very promising

Just saw this over at the ConstantCon Blog, and it looks really cool.

I haven't done any gaming on Google+ yet but things like this inspire me to try. Feel free to add me to your Google+ circles - just leave a message saying you're a reader of the rule of the dice so I know why you're adding me (social networking still kind of scares this old Luddite).

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Published on 2/16/2012 Written by 0 comments

Woodland Supplements

Last week, I talked a little bit about Woodland Warriors, a fun rules-lite adaption of Brian Jacques animal adventure novels. Today, I'm going to look at two of the expansions available for that game. Each expansion is written by Simon Washbourne with art by Darrel Miller.

The first is called Greyrock Isle. It's a short, 19 page, book that details a new setting and several new classes.

The main meat in this supplement comes in the form of a new island, new map, and new locale: A Robin Hood-esque England where the inhabitants are terrorized by a big bad bandit king.

It's a bit weak overall and not that different from the original Alder Vale setting. And there's no sample adventure, which hurts the overall product. No matter how many plot seeds you provide, you can't beat a full-grown adventure to help a GM get a feel for a setting.

You also, however, get two new races to play as: hares and otters. Neither provides a wildly new experience, though both are welcome additions to the game.

Then we get two new classes, the Talespinner and the Wayfarer.

The first is a bard-like class, except in place of spells it has a handful of special abilities, including a Sanctuary-like ability to protect them. Unfortunately, the really good ability, Charm, only comes in at level 4, making Talespinners seem underpowered and somewhat useless when compared to the other classes.

The second class, the Wayfarer, is essentially a monk with fur. Unable to wear armor it's AC advances per level and it receives a bonus to unarmed damage. It's nice, but nothing special.

So overall, this is an underwhelming expansion. Aside from the two less than stellar classes, you get a setting that does little for an experienced GM, and a couple of extra races to play as.

The second supplement is called Out West and clocks in at 30 pages. And it is radically different from the first expansion.

Transporting the furry little heroes to the American West circa 1880, this supplement changes some of the WW fundamentals.

Armor, for instance, is unnecessary as each class gains bonuses to their AC per level. And, of course, there are the guns. It wouldn't be the Wild West without six-shooters and scatterguns. And that lovely equalizer, dynamite.

You also get re-skinned versions of all the main classes, including the two from Greyrock Isle, so you'll need that if you intend to play Talespinners and Wayfarers. There are small alternations, but nothing that significantly changes the gameplay.

And there are two new races, prairie dogs, which take the place of Native Americans in the setting, and raccoons, which are just adorable. You also get a handful of new spells.

The setting itself is fairly well-written and different enough from the previous two that it becomes worth a look. It presents a valley where the order of Good has less of a foothold and even the more "villainous" creatures take an active part in the growth of the valley. However, with the loosening of the strict Good and Evil mindset, it opens up a whole new world of gray area to play around in. Scoundrels and villains abound and fortune can often be found with the barrel of a gun.

Frankly, that leads to the biggest disappointment of Out West. With the emphasis now on less definitively Good characters, you would think that new races would be introduced allowing for play as Foxes or Rats or any of the traditionally "villain" roles. Unfortunately no, although from what I've read they are added in the recently released At Sea supplement.

So, are these two alone worth purchasing? That depends on how desperate for new settings you are. If it weren't for the new classes, I'd say that skipping Greyrock Isle was a safe bet. As for Out West, well if you really like a Western theme, then this one is a more palatable purchase. In fact, my group has almost exclusively used Out West during our Woodland Warriors games. Still, both require you to at least be interested in the setting material, as there's scant new content you can drop into your own campaign setting.

Of course, you could just purchase the PDF bundle and get the core game plus all three of its expansions. At that price, it's actually a really good deal.

You can buy Greyrock Isle and Out West in PDF form from rpgnow, in a PDF bundle that includes the At Sea supplement and the core game, and in a spiral-bound print copy from LULU.

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Published on 2/09/2012 Written by 1 comment

Woodland Warriors Review

It might seem a little hard to fathom that the creator of Barbarians of Lemuria, one of the most unapologetically sword & sorcery games I can recall, would also craft a game based around the idea of medieval animal adventures, in the same vein as the late Brian Jacques and his Redwall series of novels, but here it is.

Woodland Warriors, the 114-page core rulebook by Simon Washbourne, is a game that tries to emulate Jacques light-hearted yet serious setting with a trimmed down D&D ruleset. Or, more specifically, the 0E retroclone Swords & Wizardry. Except it does away with most of the S&W base to create something that seems a lot like D&D, but using only d6s and simplifying virtually everything.

Instead of your usual fantasy races you have hedgehogs, squirrels, moles, mice, and badgers. Each has interesting abilities, from a Badger's Rage attack, to the Hedgehog's natural armor.

As for classes, well it's pretty much standard D&D with some name changes. Warriors, scouts, friars (in place of clerics), and wizards. They each do about what you would expect from the names.

In fact, the entire thing would feel like just D&D with animals, but for a few key differences.

For instance, this is now your Dwarf.

Mainly, everything is handled with a plain old d6 instead of the classic d20. From an armor class that can range from 2 to 6 (with a handful of opportunities to push it to 7), to your attack die, saving throws, and hitpoints, everything is done with a d6. This radically changes the way the game flows, altering the odds on everything. It makes combat even shorter and makes saving throws a little more tense.

Of course, this means there is very little mechanical customization of characters. There is no laundry list of skills, just a handful of special abilities that each class can do (from incredible feats of jumping, to tunneling, and things of that sort).

Other things that make WW stand out from D&D include a very lenient death system where, unlike most iterations of 0E, you don't die after being reduced to less than 0 hitpoints. Instead you have to fail two additional rolls for your character to expire, meaning almost no character will die from a single instance of bad luck.

Combat is also different, with each combatant rolling a number of d6s equal to his/her level to mark multiple attacks, or burning off one or two dice attack dice to add an extra bonus to a single attack roll. It helps add some strategy to the otherwise simple combat by asking players if they should take the extra attacks or go for a guaranteed hit.

It also does away with even the vaguest hint of an alignment system. All PCs are good and all their foes are evil.

While this might seem a broad generalization, it does fit with the overall theme of the game, which is that of light-hearted adventure. It's a game that tries to be simple enough even for children to grasp and run, yet detailed enough for adults more used to deeper systems.

It doesn't always work perfectly, but for the most part it played solidly. I don't think I actually needed to look up a single rule while GM-ing and found dropping in NPCs to be a breeze.

Essentially, pick an animal, add a sword, and bam! You're done.

The pdf file (which is what I am using as reference) is clean and well-formatted for the most part. It is single-column with a large font, making it easy to read. There is not an overabundance of artwork, though Darrel Miller's illustrations of woodland adventurers proves to be very setting appropriate.

The book contains a limited beastiary and spell list, keeping it short and simple, but the rules make it a snap to add new content. And older edition D&D content could probably be ported with a minimum of effort.

It also contains a nice setting with plenty of plot seeds, a lovely map, and one sample adventure.

So is Woodland Warriors for everyone? No, probably not. But I've played several games with young players and with adults and both had fun. If you can tolerate the animal-based setting, and don't have any hangups about using a sole d6 for your gaming, I would heartily recommend Woodland Warriors.

There are also three expansion books, two of which I will talk about next week.

You can buy Woodland Warriors for $5.00USD at rpgnow.com, for $12.00USD in a bundle pack with its expansions, or in print for $13.16USD at lulu.com.

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