Review Policy

So, there’s a weird juncture, where as someone who is trying to publish a game, and a consumer of the same industry products, that you have to keep your opinion to yourself.

As such, I will no longer be reviewing roleplaying game products. In the interest of honesty, I’ve left my previous reviews up (all except the one right before this was determined. I said what I said, and I will adhere to that), but it’s unfair of me to publicly express these opinions, nor appear to demean, or detract from my colleagues, and their efforts and hard-work.

If you wish to hear my private and personal opinions, you’re welcome to message or contact me asking for them.

Otherwise, enjoy my past reviews, and I’ll find other items to fill the void on this blog!


RPG Review: Gods of the Fall by Monte Cook Games

Gods-of-the-Fall-CoverIt’s time for an RPG review! Trying to get back into the swing of things, while fulfilling two Kickstarters, planning three more, and handling regular life.

I feel busy. But this week was a good week. I received fulfillment rewards for 5 Kickstarters in the last month, and I’m slowly working my way through them for review.

First up, Gods of the Fall by Monte Cook Games. Gods of the Fall is the first book in the new line of settings for MCG’s Cypher System, a generic ruleset identical to the one that powers the wildly successful Numenera and The Strange games.

Gods of the Fall was a Kickstarter reward, and the game does require the generic ruleset in the Cypher System Rulebook to play the game (think along the lines of the new White Wolf World of Darkess/Chronicles of Darkness line of games).

Players take on the role of adventures who discover they have a divine spark, 40 years after Heaven fell and crashed through the Earth, killing all the Gods. It’s a post-divine, post-apocalyptic fantasy game.

1.) Size and Production Quality.

A nice 188 page hardcover, full color book. Like all MCG productions, the book is a mixture of gloss and matte on the cover, and feels sturdy and durable. It feels solid, and fits nicely along the rest of the MCG games on the shelf. It’s a little thin for $45 USD, but RPG pricing is a hard line to nail down, and I certainly don’t feel like my money was wasted.


2.) Art

This might be the single most beautiful RPG book I’ve ever owned. Every piece of art in the game is brimming with beauty, evocation and talent. Seriously. I just flipped through the book looking at what might be the most amazing fantasy art I’ve ever seen compiled in a single RPG rulebook.

The graphic design is the normal MCG layout (sidebars with page references and tips, multi-colored chapters), and it holds and contains the art and words in a truly stunning manner.  Can’t rave enough.

It frankly reminds me of the beautiful 4th Edition Legend of the Five Rings books.


3.) Content / Rules

Ok. So. The Cypher system seems to be a bit polarizing. I haven’t made up my mind about the ruleset in a final decision.

It’s the usual “I’m a _adjective_ _noun_ who _verbs_” but with the addition of a new type, called a domain, that adds on the the end of the Character descriptor and says “and is the _God of _________”.

Ok, that works, and it’s a solid way to get into that. I approve fully, and as always, I like the “adj/noun/verb” char-gen set up. The Domain powers are pretty slick, and there’s wonderfully generic so you can let your imagination run wild. Domains can be as specific as you want, from “God of Winter” to “God of the Morning Frost” to “The Snowflake God of the North” and mechanically the same ruleset will completely cover all the aspects.

The rules for Divine Shifts are a simple variation of the superhero rules in the Cypher corebook (makes sense, and fits), and here’s where the game gets awesome.

You have to complete legendary labors (a la Hercules), fulfill a 7 part prophecy (which is excellent written), gain servants, and help restore the (or create a new) kingdom of Heaven with some semblance of Glory.

It’s amazing. The list of legendary deeds the setting has prebuilt is extensive. Aside for my (admittedly undecided) reservations about the ruleset, this whole section is great game design, evocative setting integration, and exceptionally well dome.


4.) Game Master Section

The GM section here is designed to be appended to the GM section in the corebook, so it’s a little sparse. It talks about how to run an “epic” game and deal with questions of divinity, god-hood, and integrating some of the fiddly bits of the Cypher System into Gods of the Fall.


5.) Pre-made Adventure

There’s one here, designed to get you started on your path to Godhood. It’s pretty fun, but as always, all pre-mades suffer from a need to cram all the little bits you need to learn about the game into this book. Wasn’t for me, something with a little more epic (like the GM section advises) around the pre-made would have felt better.


Total Score: 42/50

That’s a pretty high score, and it reflects my impressions of the game. I am exceptionally impressed and glad I got in on this. I’m already planning a full campaign and how I’d run that, and my head is full of cool visuals, ideas, and plot threads.

This game is awesome. Full stop.

Review: The Night Manager

the-night-manager-key-art-poster-2000xI finally got around to watching the spy thriller, 6 episode series from AMC: The Night Manger.

Brief synopsis: Based on the outstandingly perfect John Le Carre novel, The Night Manager, revolves around a hotel night manager recruited to spy on an international arms dealer and gain his trust.

TL;DR review: It’s the single best piece of visual espionage entertainment ever created.

Seriously. Tired of James Bond style spy-thriller action? Bored with Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt, and such?

Meet Jonathan Pine (played by the fantastic Tom Hiddleston). A hero who will literally talk himself into victory (there’s only about 20ish minutes of action fight scenes in this whole 6 hour series). It’s amazing. It’s intense, taut, riveting, intelligent, and unexpectedly brilliant. Seriously. It deviates from the book, in some major ways, but all the ways feel like updates to the story, and I wouldn’t change a one. It’s the themes, the art, the feeling of the book brought into modern TV, and done, just perfectly.

It’s over, and I am so sad to see it end, because I watched the last 5 episodes on a 5 hour binge, without getting off the couch. The cast killed it. Watching Hiddleston morph into a new character over six hours was just enrapturing. Hugh Laurie delivered a perfect villain, who you hate, while not hating to watch. All of the cast and writers delivered characters that are well defined, consistently interpreted, superbly acted.

The ending was both predictable and surprising in it’s twists, and turns, while still being recognizably part of an espionage tradition in all the right ways.

I’m running out of superlatives to describe how I felt.

It’s TV that I can only describe as luxurious. In pacing, dialogue, action, and enjoyment. It’s savoring that perfect mean, you don’t want to end.

I paid for the whole season on Amazon Prime, and I’d pay double or triple again. I can’t recommend it enough.


Gallant Knight Games announcement!

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Alan Bahr, and Gallant Knight Games are proud to announce the first expansion title in their Tiny Frontiers line: Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters! 

Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters continues the trend of minimalist RPGs in the science fiction realm, but with a total focus on Kaiju and Mecha stories and playstyles. A stand-alone expansion, no complicated tables, no convoluted purchasing rules, just pure unadulterated giant robot and giant monster fun!

As part of this project, Gallant Knight Games is hosting an “open call” for writers to write unique “micro-settings” for this project. Micro-settings are small 1,500 word settings, designed to be high-level and inspire Game Masters and players alike! This will be a paying gig, and these micro-settings will be published inside this expansion book

To apply, simply go to this link: Open Call, fill out the information and Gallant Knight Games will be in touch!

We’re excited and look forward to working on this with everyone!