Kickstarter Spotlight: The Mimic Chest From Polymorph Crafts

Today Polymorph Crafts is launching a Kickstarter for The mimic Chest. Now unless you follow Polymorph Crafts social feeds or you follow me on Twitter you probably haven’t heard anything about The Mimic Chest.

So for those of you who do not know what the mimic is, it’s the culmination of a very ambitious a dream of the Polymorph Crafts to bring the combination of Wood & Magnets together to craft something unique. The Mimic Chest is a gaming accessories chest held together by 200! magnets, that breaks down almost completely. When broken down you get 5 wooden Vaults, 3 Dice Vaults, and 2 Pencils Vaults. 5 Card trays, a coaster, a Dice Tower and a Dice Tray. Held together by magnets and a leather carrying strap.

 

 

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Runkle Plays Games was one of a select few people that were given the privilege of getting an advanced look at The Mimic Chest, there were twelve sent out and I have one. Normally this would be the part of the blog where I would burst into a full-fledged review of the product.

But there was a slight hiccup as the strap on my case had an issue and needed for the team to send me a replacement strap. Also while this Kickstarter is still alive I will be attending MACE.con and my little Mimic will be coming with me.

So instead of a one-man and maybe is gamers hands-on opinion of The Mimic Chest, we’re going to go ahead and take this to an RPG & Board Game Convention and let people play with it get their impressions of the chest. I may even do a few videos! That’s something this Blog has never seen! When I return I will have an in-depth review, as well as my thoughts and other people’s opinions on The Mimic Chest.

For now, I will leave you with two small yet cool clips of the Dice Tray and tower. Believe it or not… That Nat 20 was one take and the first dice ever down the tower… I had a pretty damn big grin. after.

 

 

 

 


Till I return, Here is a link to their KS project.

The Mimic Chest

Synthicide RPG Review

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When robots are Gods, killing humans is fair game.

Civilization collapsed long ago in the wake of mutant warfare. Survivors toil beneath the bootheel of their privileged Synthetic overlords. The Tharnaxist Church, a corrupt machine cult, suffocates the Galaxy with their tyrannical dogma. Yet you and your friends make a name for yourselves as sharpers, lowly space criminals contracting with gangs and mega-corporations alike.

What Synthicide brings to your game table:

  • A dark, hostile sci-fi setting where humans are worthless and money is everything
  • A galaxy of noir adventure and high technology
  • Debuts the ACTIONS Rule Codex (ARC), an attribute-based rule-set designed for imaginative role-play and full-throttle combat
  • Automated Game Master (GM) tools to quickly build NPCs, traps, and mission ideas – all on-demand
  • A Plot Twist system with surprises for players and gamemasters alike
  • Optional rules to up the grittiness and depth of the game, including Faction Heat, Mental Trauma, and Shock Damage

By: Will Power Games Page Count: 216 Price: $22.00 DTRPG

A few months back I was contacted by the creator of Synthicide the RPG, it was a pleasure and an honor to be asked if I would like to not only review Synthicide the RPG but have the creator himself run a few games for me on Roll20 as well! I more than happily accepted as I’m not one to ever turn down the opportunity to game.

Then life, the universe, threats of hurricanes and robot God’s did everything that they could to intervene. Sadly that game never happened despite both of our efforts. Having a  game with the creator or not I am still going to get this game reviewed. So here we go!

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Setting

Synthicide is set in the Milky Way galaxy but far in the future. History, for the most part, has been completely forgotten as mankind was nearly wiped out by a virus. Much of history and technology is now controlled by a machine cult church called the Tharnaxist Church. The church, for the most part, leaves humanity to their own devices unless they harm machine or destroy machine intelligence. This is a crime known as Synthicide, when you do it you are sure to end up with a price on your head, but it can also make you rich.

Key Players:

Players play sharpers, freelance spacefaring starship owners just trying to earn enough money for their next meal and enough fuel to keep them in the black. Food, fuel, and supplies are all expensive. The only thing cheap Synthicide is life,  players must make the hard choices to survive.

Synthetics are constructed machines commissioned by the church. They fulfill contracts for the church and they are effectively Immortal. Synthetics are highly intelligent and for the most part look down on the human species.

The church is an immensely powerful entity in the game that runs everything with an iron fist, hoards technology, and builds synthetics. They worship a machine God, their priests are ruthless. The only ones punished in the church are those that harm synthetics, no one else is ever deemed worthy.

Additionally, the world is rife with many kinds of mutants that were scattered throughout the galaxy after becoming twisted by the P virus that nearly ending all of humanity. Most of the game takes place on the edge of rim space trying to stay away from the church and make enough money to get to the next payday stay out of trouble, survive and maybe make enough money to someday retire. Overall it gives the entire game a cyberpunk in space feel it is very gritty Noir in its theme

Most of the game takes place on the edge of rim space trying to stay away from the church and make enough money to get to the next payday stay out of trouble, survive.  maybe make enough money to someday retire. Overall it gives the entire game a cyberpunk in space feel as it has a very gritty Noir vibe in the theme.

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SYSTEM

Now I must admit I’m kind of a fan of the rule system here, the game runs on what is called ARC (Action Rule Codex). Broken down into three main systems Role play Actions, Battle Actions, and Resolve & Cynicism. In the system, the only dice you’re going to need is a d10.

Skills are done up in an old-school style as players roll based on relevant attribute instead of specific skills. Complex skills that would require specialization in are called Focuses, each character has an aspect that will give them access to at a selection of Focuses. and This speeds up gameplay immensely and I personally am a fan of this. Further, I loved the fact that attributes in Synthicide are an acronym of the word “Actions” just hit me right in my sweet spot, I loved it. The attributes in Synthicide are: ACTIONS

  • Awareness
  • Combat
  • Toughness
  • Influence
  • Operation
  • Nerve
  • Speed

This old-school approach to a new system feels fresh and original as well as refreshing to see done so well.

Combat runs off battle actions and has its own table to determine what you can do in a combat round. Every player has several options of things that they can do, depending on how much speed they have in the round. This results in a flow of combat that can feel very real. Some characters will choose to take regular actions each round and stay consistent as the battle flows. Others may take a round to build up some points and move and attack at the right moment in sudden bursts of flurries of action. I find the battle action table interesting and long enough to give players a variety of things they can do and short enough that it’s not too bulky to weigh the game down or worse yet stretch combat out.

All players also have Motivations and origin stories that you can either choose or roll at random for. There is a nice selection of options and feels very cyberpunk inspired to me, I found it a nice touch.

Another very cyberpunk feeling element of Synthicide is the Bioclass. This section is very brief but it denotes how much meat over metal or metal over meat your character has. Depending on your choice it will affect your ACTION and HP.

Players as they level gain access to traits that they meet the requirements for that show their growing experience in the world. These are similar to Edges of Feats of other systems.

Add to these features in the game Psychic powers, Mutations, Cybernetics and more and you have a tremendous amount of depth that Synthicide brings to the table.

I appreciate that even though their ship section was not very deep in ship selections. I was pleased to see a few tables to give your ship some backstory and favor provided. Best off all even if oddly placed was the trade section. Providing players with options of good options to fill their holds and make a profit. I would have like to see this maybe in the GM section and slightly expanded on. Yet I can see the added benefit of it being the player’s section to motivate the players to find work on their own with the GM help.

Game Master Section

Chapter 7 is the beginning of the Game Mastering section. This first part of game prep even at only 5 pages long is a clinic on how to prepare for games. In addition to being both fantastically well thought out and explained simply is with the price of admission alone. Three pages of the five pages presented here about how to prep a game could be directly applied to any game you own.

The GM Tools portion provides you with tips on how to create NPCs and a huge list of NPCs for the GM to use as well as quick and dirty planet tools.synthicide-bg

This section wraps up with 13 Mission outlines. These outlines are excellent and each is set up in the two approach style mentioned in the Game Master section. It is awesome to see the team practice what they preached earlier in the book and provide you samples for you to see in action or use yourself.

The GM Section wraps up with a chapter on optional rules to add more crunch to your game if you want to get more in depth. The Final chapter of the book is a gazetteer of the setting, planets, timeline and established factions of the world.

My Thoughts

So personally the setting is well written and there is a ton of detail that you get in Synthicide. I get a very strong cyberpunk in space feel from the setting. A cyberpunk where you replace the corps with the church. Then sprinkle in a shade of Bladerunner where the Synths are worshiped instead of hunted. I find myself on the fence, I want to love it, and at the same time, I want to throw the church over my shoulder and bring in corps. Truthfully there is no reason why you could not do a little bit of homebrewing and do just that. I enjoy the “ACTIONS & Combat” system very much. Not only is it fast-paced but it feels very easy to pick up and learn.

The only thing that I did not enjoy this product was the occasional space filler that they chose to go with. From time to time they filled small portions of the book with what looked like blocks with encoded symbols and letters. This drove me nuts because for awhile I thought it was just badly rendered in the PDF and maybe actually readable it turned out it was just gibberish.

My Rating

D20 #15I will be giving Synthicide a 15 on my Runkles Rankings scale. This is a stand out gritty space setting that has an excellent cyberpunk in space vibe. It fills a nice niche for gamers and I could see myself or my group playing this game.

You can pick it up on DTRPG Here

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Hands on look at the D&D 5E GM Screen Reincarnated

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I know I’m a little late to the party in my review of the 5e reincarnated DM screen. So let’s get right into it and take a look at what we got. Personally Even with much of the cover art is pretty blank the picture is beautiful. I much prefer the Dungeons and Dragons logo as well as ampersand compared to that of the old 5e symbol on the original GM screen.

So for this review, I’ll be looking at the panels from left to right for my review. The left panel has the most changes overall this product. The tables for NPC characteristics, NPC ideas, NPC flaws and bonds and the Name Generator all have been removed.

In their place, we have a Actions in Combat table that describes in detail everything that a player can do in a combat round. This table covers Attack, Cast Spells, Dash, Dodge, Help, Hide and Ready Actions as well as Search, Use A Magic Item, Use an Object and Use a Special Ability actions.

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We are also given a table with some rules that are not always easy to remember and will save you time looking things up like Long and High Jump, Suffocation and the easiest of all to remember Concentration. As easy as the concentration check is to remember it’s still good to have it here. Additionally, they managed to squeeze in one more little section on this panel for things that you can do in a turn listing everything that a player can do as a little quick reminder.

This panel does have one piece of art and I like it! The art is straight out of the player’s handbook and it is the of “Points of Origin” of Area Spell Effects. I really like this because one of my biggest criticisms of the old GM screen was the art wasn’t helpful and it took up to much real estate on the screen. By comparison, this art doesn’t take up a lot of space and it’s very helpful for a GM.

Myself I actually used these tables fairly often and will be sad to see them go. That said overall the replacement tables that they have put in this panel are a far better choice and if I myself had to make the choice to decide which of these panels to keep I would have gone with the new panels in the reincarnated GM screen as well.

The 2nd panel covers Conditions and is exactly the same as the old GM screen right down to the artwork. Again my complaint on the conditions panel is much the same as it was before. Granted conditions are likely the main thing we will be looking up as a GM’s during a game. I just feel that a panel and a half of the GM screen is just too much real estate for this information. Simply by sacrificing the artwork for the conditions table, they could have condensed a panel a half worth of information into one panel. This would have remained just as effective and we would have gotten more space for use out of this GM screen.

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The new and old GM screen third panels are very similar. The last half of the Conditions Table and the Exhaustion Chart are exactly the same on both of these panels. The only tables remaining the same are the Skills And Ability Table and the Setting A DC table. The tables of Light Obscured Areas and Cover we’re moved to the fourth panel on the new GM screen. In their place, the tables of Damage By Level of Severity, Object Hit Points, Object Armor Class, Setting A DC and Tracking DC’s tables have now taken their place.

Lastly, the fourth panel has changed quite a bit. Gone is my much-disliked artwork of the Tarrasque. This has been replaced by another piece of art comparing the sizes of creatures from tiny, small, medium, large, huge and gargantuan creatures.

The Something Happens table that I really wasn’t a fan of his now gone as well as the Quick Finds table. In my opinion, it is an improvement that they have been removed. The Travel Pace table and Encounter Distance tables have remained. Lastly, we’ve been given two new tables that I think are an excellent addition to the D5e DM Reincarnated screen. These tables are Food Drink and Lodging And Services both of these tables I think will see a lot of use in most players games.

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Runkle’s Ranking

The last GM screen I gave it abysmal 6 to even though I came back earlier and had given an almost to 7, All Things Considered, there’s not a whole lot been changed in this GM screen but it is far more useful I will give this screen a rating of a 13. It’s landscape, it’s useful, it has many tables now that it didn’t have before that will be helpful for a GM. The artwork has been reduced and its overall an improvement over its predecessor. D20 #11-14

So what keeps up with such a low ranking for me? The simple fact that it doesn’t have inserts. it’s only useful for one thing and that is base generic 5e. With Gale Force 9 producing a GM screen for every new campaign setting that comes out. A much-improved GM screen reincarnated would have been a landscape GM screen with insertable sheets. Then we could customize each screen, and every time we ran a particular campaign we could pick and choose the tables and maps that we would wish to add to your particular screen.

Final thoughts

If you already own a GM screen you will be able to make do without this product. If you do not have one this is a better choice over the old one. If you are willing to make your own screen then I would suggest a GM screen with inserts that you can customise.

If you want to pick up one of these hit up your FLGS and grab one or head on over to Amazon to get yours.

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Or if you prefer to pick up a customisable screen you can get one at your FLGS as well or grab one off Amazon as well. I recommend the landscape screen by Hammerdog, You can also pick up a non-landscape version if you prefer or the screen that I use. The Hammerdog Mini.

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Kickstarter Pre-Review: SINS RPG

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The Setting

The world of SINS is a grim harsh place where is Man is no longer masters of their world. A century from now mankind is on the very brink of extinction and struggling to survive. Surprisingly mankind did not burn in the fires of a nuclear holocaust. After the death of the modern world and the rise of a new space age, mankind was in the position to venture once more into space beyond our moon. Then the “Black Rain” fell from space and changed it all. Dubbed “Shards” this opaque void glass crystal plummeted to the earth and changed the world forever.

After the Rain, the dead began to rise and mutate into terrifying killing machines. Before the nations of the world were able to get a handle on what would come to be called the “Brood”, the second wave of death and destruction fell on mankind. This destruction would come in the form beings were called the Reapers. Reapers were beings with powers like that of gods, wielding power so immense they were capable of destroying entire military bases by themselves. When things had reached their most desperate the nuclear option was taken. The result, only one Reaper was slain, in time the remaining Reapers would vanish. To this day no one knows why.

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Mankind once more began to rebuild in their new dying world, ravaged by the nuclear scars and infested with the brood. In time, from the infected wastelands come dark heroes. Once fallen beings who were brood and yet eventually retained their consciousness and evolved into something new called “Nemissaries”.  Some possessing powers rivaling that of the Reapers of old, yet these were the beings were on the side of humanity. Nemissaries harbor a dark power and they contain a great dark power inside themselves as well. Nemissaries live in constant conflict with their dark nature.

There are places in the world free of the brood, these places exist where the Black Rain fell. The Shards that brought this horror to the world seem to repel the brood. Humanity has dug into these locations in an effort to start new again. But living near Shards has a cost.

Welcome to SINS…

The System

SINS uses its own rules engine for its game that they call the HOPE engine. HOPE is a D6 Dice pool system using exploding D6 with varying degrees of success. Target numbers are 7 minus skill level.  Your Dice pool is determined by Skill+Atribute+Fate, with a difficulty determined by the DM of 1 or more success. Each Sucess over the threshold is called an Outcome. The number of Outcome points that you get may be used to activate other effects.  If you do not have a relevant skill point the DC is 6, with double the needed target number and you get no benefit from any outcome points you may roll.

Players have 4 core traits in SINS these are Fate, Attributes, Skills, and Specialties. There are 5 attributes, 75 skills, Traits, and Qualities as well as over 100 specialty powers.

Players do not gain experience in your standard leveling up process. Instead, they have motivations that they seek to achieve. These achievements give them points that they can use to improve their character. Providing a more narrative level driven path. Thus by design even with Nemissaries possessing immense power. Players must role play to advance in level.

My Thoughts

NOTE: When I first sat down to write my review I initially had some difficulty with how I absorbed this product. You have to understand that for me this was a cold off the shelf review. I did not have a Kickstarter video or Dev Diary and such available to me. So I did not post my review at first.  Instead, I chose reached out the creators and had a talk with them to clear many of my questions up. Shortly after getting the answers to my questions the world tossed a Hurricane my way causing an annoying delay.

I decided to leave my initial thoughts in the review and add the conversation I had with the developers to the review. My reasons for this is I think many of my first thoughts are still valid ones. As anyone that were to cold purchase this product in the future would feel much like I did at first I think.

On Setting

Now I love Rifts and thrill of playing insanely powerful characters, I get Gonzo gaming and maybe that is where I am finding a disconnect. Because SINS is intended to be a narrative driven story about powerful beings in a dying world. So gonzo is not the intent, it sounds grimmer than that. According to the SINS RPG book the inspiration for the game sides with me on my confusion.
For example, some of the Inspirations for SINS are:

  • Watership down
  • Various HP Lovecraft works
  • Dracula Brom Stokers
  • World War Z Novel
  • The Walking Dead COMIC
  • John Carpenters the THING
  • 28 Days Later (Cited as a HUGE inspiration)

The setting for me is not one that I am personally excited by, I find myself more interested in the events of this setting past. As well as the characters that in this book strike me as more of an afterthought. I want to know more about the Non-Nemisareis that manage to survive the horror of this world and struggle to scrape by day to day and rebuild. Furthermore playing the lowly human in a world where you are nothing more than an insect to everything around you makes me feel the like it embraces the concepts of Watership down or works of Lovecraft. For me, its seems a stronger platform for narrative story telling than the immensely powerful Nemisaries.

CaptureYet players take up the role of Nemisaries, incredibly powerful nigh incurable beings. I just find it hard to take in the dangers of this world. When it is said right in the book that Nemisaries are pretty Blase about being wounded in the game. Unless you are struck by a fire or supernatural attacks you likely will shrug off the wounds because of you are simply immensely powerful. If a player finds themselves in dire need of healing they can even spend Focus to recover baleful supernatural damage as a standard action!

Further aggravation on the subject of wounds rested in the section about recovery from damage. You are given a very detailed explanation of how of long it takes to heal from an injury. There is an entire page of quality detailed explanation regarding the time frame it will take to heal as well as the rolls needed to recover from each stage of injury that you can receive in the game.

HealingAFTER you read all of this you are presented with a small side post “Informing you” that they are sorry to say this but this is just an example of how healing is for the normal humans in this setting. Because of this sadly everything you just read is pretty much irrelevant to the way you as a player will heal !~! OMG…

 

 

Now to be clear this is not an exaggeration, all Nemisaries possess regeneration and can further fuel that regeneration with Anima that they possess. All Nemisaries have Anima (they fuel their powers with it).

NOTE: Here is where I decided to stop and get some clarification from the creators. After reading the inspiration for the setting and the wounds I was going to need to talk to the team before I moved over. So that they could help connect the dots for me.

So I asked them…
RunklePlaysGames
I am at a bit of a disconnect with the setting and the power base of the players in a post apocalypse world that is not meant to be gonzo in style but the sheer amounts of damage that they can take make the game seem gonzo. Can  you help connect

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“The world after the Fall is influenced by a need to survive, but having powers seems to.make this easier? Far from it, although Nemissaries that hold these powers can face physical pain better. But they are haunted by emotional and mental disturbances that normal humans don’t feel. With the power gained a darkness can very easily consume the player. If you play Nemissaries, you can still be hurt, maimed or killed. But you also have to stay mentally engaged and aware to avoid falling into the abyss and having setbacks or destruction. Many players will want to be powerful, we understand that, but no character type is immune to the wasteland and the dangers. It depends on what you are willing to do to survive.”

This to me helped make much of the rest of the setting a bit more clear. All Nemissaries have a dark side, a monster trying to crawl to the surface and destroy every last shred of humanity that remains within them. So in this world damage is not as important, it’s almost an afterthought. It’s more about battling your inner demons. I would compare it more to the old WRAITH by White Wolf Games. As it is even suggested that other players at the table play your dark hollow whispering things to you all game long in an attempt make your Nemissarie break. 

As to my critic on the lovely side blurb after the healing portion, they did give me a promising reply to this as well.
(I do not expect them to move anything, understand this book is already laid out and such a task would be an expensive frustrating nightmare)

RunklePlaysGames
In the advanced wounds section, you go into great detail about healing in the world of SINS and I found it well done and helpful only to find when I got to the end a sidebar that told me all of that was pointless to have read because Nemissaries heal differently. I nearly threw my Ipad.

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That’s fair! We put those rules in for the sake of comprehension and for players who might want to play characters who can’t regenerate (regular humans) or need the rules for if advanced healing is necessary. Obviously, they’re pretty ingrained into the layout of the book and taking that out now would be quite the “Jenga” effect on everything thereafter, but rest assured as the next book is planned to focus on humans, then those rules will be revised, condensed and reworked for both brevity and more use!

Now, this is more than understandable about not moving things around. To do something like that could literally screw up the whole book. That aside, it is very good to know that I already know for a fact that they are working on the next book as this blog is being read and that these great rules will come into play.

My last issue that I had a concern with in the SINS system was how wounds are tracked. In SINS there are 3 types of wounds that you can receive in the game. Normal, Impaling, and Baleful. On your damage track, you will either fill in the damage take in the game with an “X” if you receive a normal wound. An “I” line represents impaling damage. And an “X” with an “I” through it if you have received Baleful damage such as damage from supernatural damage fire or void glass.

Damage Typles Normal Impaed Baelful

This drew a huge mechanical concern for me as a DM and a player as I worry about the reality that this could turn into a hot mess on a sheet where damage will flow quickly. I have concerns due to repeated erasing that confusion might arise in cases where as a player you might wonder I have impaling damage or regular damage on this circle. just a few poorly erased marks and this is a real concern. Now, this is not a tremendous issue, I suggested removing the impaled wounds and adding a check box to represent an Impaled status. Mind you this was not just the opinion of RunklePlaysGames. I asked several outside sources and all of them agreed it would be good to point this out to the creators so I did.

Do I have impaling damage or regular damage on this circle?

Just a few poorly erased marks and this can become a real concern. Now, this is not a tremendous issue, I suggested removing the impaled wounds symbol from the damage boxes and instead of adding a check box to represent an Impaled status. Mind you this was not just the opinion of RunklePlaysGames. I asked several outside sources and all of them agreed it would be good to point this out to the creators so I did.

RunklePlaysGames
The wound track concerns me with how they are tracked is X I and X+I. I have concerns as to it being easily messed up or becoming a did I erase that or not hot mess. I love impaling damage concept. Could it serve to put an impaled status above the wound track and clear that potential up?

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That’s all fair and well-thought out feedback. We’ll definitely put that’s a wanted clarification to our maths and mechanics guy.

Since this discussion I had a further thought, since you can not heal past an impaled wound until the object is removed you could always place the Impaled line between injury bubbles. ( 0 I 0 ). If I were to play or run SINS, I would strongly recommend this homebrew fix if you agree with my above thoughts.

Honestly again since the book is already laid out and pretty much ready to go to print, I doubt that this will be addressed in this book. Maybe this will be addressed in an upcoming product.

Traits Qualities & Songs

Traits
Traits and skills are used to determine the dice pool a player will have available to roll.

Qualites
There are three types of Qualities in SINS. Primary, Background and Meta Qualities. Qualities are much like Feats in other games. Many of these have requirements that you must meet before you can take them.

Songs
Songs are the powers that Nemissaries use to create powerful effects in the game. Each song as six ranks each more powerful than the last. The list of songs are the following The Song of Blood, Bone, Brood, Flesh, and Will.

System Mechanics

I find the basics of the HOPE D6 dice pool system is one that I like. I think it feels smooth and once you get used to it I think there is a lot that can be done with it. It’s not revolutionary but it does not need to be. It does the job and does it well. I like the intent of the “Outcome” mechanic. With Outcome, every success beyond the target number improves the outcome of the action. In combat, Outcome can be used for added damage or optionally used to create maneuvers like disarming or pinning attacks.

Often in Dice Pool systems you only get one action per game round, unless you are willing to sacrifice a die to all your dice pools for the added effort. In SINS this is the case as well. Resulting refreshingly in a dice pool system where the player is not rolling a mountain of dice and can still sack dice for additional actions.

Layout and Art

The PDF review copy of SINS that I was provided was fully laid out with artwork already in place. So I can comment on the design layout and artwork. I can also tell you that SINS it beautiful.

Illustrated by Will Kirkby the book has a distinctive feel and that feeling is AWESOME. The book feels and looks solid and professionally presented. The only thing that I did not have was a hyperlinked PDF. But the staff has assured me that the final version of SINS will be fully linked. Trust me with a book cranking up over 350+ pages you WANT links. Many will find it hard to believe this is a first time outing at RPG design for this team. The book is highly polished and ready to go. When you pick up SINS you definitely know this is its own RPG.

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Not for Everyone

SINS is not a product for everyone, so much so they even put a word to parents notice on the inside of the book. I feel I should mention that here as well because is intended for mature player groups.

Final thought and Ranking

The more I read this book the more it reminded me of an apocalyptic Vampire the Masquerade and Wraith game rolled into one. Now that is a compliment as White Wolf is an excellent product with an excellent system.

Much like Wraith, this game is not going to be for everyone, It is designed to not be intended for younger audiences and there may be others that do not want to play an RPG as well. I have known many games over the years that love this type of game. I also have known a large number of players that simply HATED Wraith because of the Shadows. Shadows behave much like Hallows in SINS. And I think that this will turn off some gamers. But like I said this game is not for everyone.

The setting is well thought out and very well written. It is a very easy read with an excellent layout and top notch art. It is easy to see that a lot of heart and soul was poured into this product. Just for comparison back in the open game D20 system area I saw and own many printed products that pale in quality and comparison to SINS RPG.

Granted there was one technical concern I had with the product and one layout grumble but neither of these things actually have much impact on my ranking due to the fact that they could easily be addressed in an errata later. Or simply ignored because they are very minor things overall.

As I have said I would prefer to play a straight up human and you can choose this at character creation as noted in a provided sidebar but it is not suggested. This concern will also be addressed further in book two that is being written as I type this.

Taking all of these things into account I will give SINS the RPG a 14 out of 20. I wish there would have been more incentive to maybe start the game as a human and play through to your death and eventual return or stronger rules for just human players in the SINS RPG book. That and the mature setting that may have some players uncomfortable with their fellow gamer heckling them as their hollow. Keeps it from reaching a ranking of 15 for me.

D20 #11-14

(I would mention that I think this same reason is why Wraith never got a lot of traction is for the very same reason in the white wolf line.)

SINS has about 4 days left on Kickstarter and is going strong as well as more than funded.  You can find their project HERE. Head on over and give the game a look and be sure to check out their Dev Diary!

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Hands on With Fosters Leathercraft Dice Cup.

About a year back was when I first got to know Fosters Leathercraft over twitter. I honestly can not be sure how they stumbled on my blog in the beginning. I Just know that he did follow my blog and one day he saw me tweet a picture of my world map for my homebrew game.

Shortly after is where our friendship started when he messaged me and we got into a discussion about the world and how much as an artist and a crafter he wanted to bring my world map to life in leather. Before hand, this was something I never had considered and ever since its completion I can not imagine NOT having a leather map of my world. Before this point was something I never had considered. Ever since its completion, I can’t comprehend NOT having a leather map of my world.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I saw Fosters Leathercraft Leather Dice Cups. This time I was the one that sent the message and was wanting to get one of his amazing crafted cups. It took some time as all hand crafted quality things do but it arrived last week. My tweet says it all about my first impressions.

@fosterleather …. For a guy who gets paid to write words I’m speechless.#DND#Rpg

 

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So honestly yeah I was pretty damn blown away, to say the least. I wanted to take a few days to show it off to my friends. Because like any good adventure when you get loot you must show it off.

So what more can I say about this dice cup? The craftsmanship and whether working still that is on display when you look at the cup is awesome.

The lid fits snugly on top of the cup. Providing a snug fit that is further ensured from coming off with the cups strap. The lid doesn’t snap down but with gentle handling, it’s not going to go anywhere. That said if you just drop this in your back pack or a duffel bag you’re my find your dice roaming free if the lid comes off.

The cup feels good in the hand. The soft leather sides have some give to them. But unless you’re going to be folding it and laying books on top of it. The leather it will bounce back right into shape again. The stitching is tight and I have no worry that it might come loose. I think one of the best features is the gem eyes of the statue. It that 3d element that pops out at you visually and draws you into the picture.

If you love these cups you can head on over to Fosters Leathercraft You can buy standard DMG dice cups from fosters Leathercraft or you can order custom cups from him. They run on his page from 34-38 dollars for a custom cup and here is a sample of a few of them.

 

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Now Fosters Leathercraft does more than just leather! Knowing that I have a 3D Printer and I have recently on Twitter have commented that I had been contemplating trying to 3D print some coins for in game props for my players.

When my Dice cup arrived I found it partially filled with 3D Printed COINS! These are pretty cool if you are looking for some unique looking fantasy themed prop coins. My thoughts on the coins are that I am overall very impressed with them. The detail is awesome and they are sized at about an inch per coin.

 

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The only downside of these coins is that they are only one side due to being 3D printed.

 

Thoughts on D&D Beyond Tiers & Rates

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When this project started I blogged that I thought that this project was dead in the water. I felt that D&D had missed the boat and that it was too late for them to find redemption. When they later went into phase one I blogged I was hesitant but impressed but hopeful.
Well, today the long awaited announcement has come out, no longer do we need to speculate the costs. Here they are.

BADEYE (D&D BEYOND)

I can also now share full details on pricing:
D&D Beyond provides flexible purchase options for both official digital content and subscriptions.
Players will be able to unlock official Dungeons & Dragons content in digital format for a one-time purchase that is integrated into the toolset. Players can also purchase individual game elements or bundled content within any official source. Like to play barbarians? You can unlock that class and all of its options only.
Want to run “Tomb of Horrors” from Tales From the Yawning Portal? Unlock that single adventure. Digital sourcebooks (such as the Player’s Handbook or Volo’s Guide to Monsters) will be available for $29.99, while adventure modules (such as Curse of Strahd or Storm King’s Thunder) will be available for $24.99.

For the first week after launch, the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual will be on sale for $19.99 each!

Players can get the most out their D&D Beyond experience by signing up for one of two subscription tiers.
The Hero Tier at $2.99/ month is intended primarily for players. It removes ads on the site, allows players to create an unlimited number of characters, and add publicly-shared homebrew content to your collection to use within the toolset.
The Master Tier at $5.99/ month is intended primarily for Dungeon Masters and full groups. It grants all the benefits of the Hero Tier, and also allows a DM to share all her unlocked official content with other players within a campaign – so content does not have to be unlocked by every player.
So, let’s walk through my thoughts on what we have been given as of today. So let’s attack this in some bite sized portions, shall we?

Toolsets & Bundles

Players will be able to unlock official Dungeons & Dragons content in digital format for a one-time purchase that is integrated into the toolset. Players can also purchase individual game elements or bundled content within any official source. Like to play barbarians? You can unlock that class and all of its options only.

We still do not have a price on this but I imagine I will make the prediction that it will be between  $2.99-4.99 per bundled element. Thus it will make it more expensive to pick up all of the classes in this format than it would be to just purchase the PHB. It only makes sense that they will want to encourage you to think that the PHB is a deal.

Moving on to the cost of books.

 

Want to run “Tomb of Horrors” from Tales From the Yawning Portal? Unlock that single adventure. Digital sourcebooks (such as the Player’s Handbook or Volo’s Guide to Monsters) will be available for $29.99, while adventure modules (such as Curse of Strahd or Storm King’s Thunder) will be available for $24.99.
For the first week after launch, the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual will be on sale for $19.99 each!
Players can get the most out their D&D Beyond experience by signing up for one of two subscription tiers.
Well looks like we will be asked again to hand out $30 bucks a book for source books. This was met with most including myself with a groan of disgust. Yet there are many people that have been defending the price point. On a note of comparison of costs.

 

Sourcebooks (Using Volo’s Guide for Example)

D&D Beyond: $30.00

Dead Tree book: $49.95

Roll20.Net book: $49.95

Fantasy Ground book: $49.99
D&D Beyond will be giving you a searchable database of the sourcebook you purchase. These are not PDF’s but if you purchase them you will be able to access this content with or without a D&D Beyond subscription.
So we can see that Source book wise D&D Beyond at least is considerably cheaper than the other options. But there are a few things to point out when you look at these prices. First of all, it is a fair assumption that most all of the PHBs that will be sold have already been purchased this deep into the edition. More will sell of course as more players come into the hobby and some players replace used books. But the vast number of books are done being bought.
To compare further the Dead Tree version is not arranged in an online searchable format. But it does have one of the age old time honored search features. The index and table of contents. Arguably if you have the book in hand and you know your way around the book. You can even find rules references in the book before you can look it up on D&D Beyond. ( Fun Fact, Chris Perkins out searched the Program during the Stream of Annihilation.) Down Side, you can’t store your Dead Tree online and unless you have a nice bag you can’t take it with you in the rain. 

As far as both Roll20.net & Fantasy Grounds platforms it is considerably cheaper than both of these formats.  BUT, Each of these platforms currently are the premier Digital RPG platforms for games. They each also include tokens for all creatures contained in the product as well as handouts and maps in some cases. D&D Beyond unless updated once they roll out their Game Platform does not have any of these things.

Modules (Curse of Strahd)
D&D Beyond: $24.99
Dead Tree: $49.95
Roll20.net: $49.95
Fantasy Grounds: $34.99
As of this blog we have no info that I was able to track down on how Modules will be presented in D&D Beyond. I can say I would imagine we will have a Module that would look very similar to a PDF with hyperlinked and searchable content to data on the site as well as maps content. even that is speculation as to how they will be presented.

Edit- D&D Beyond Tweeted me when asked.

@DnDBeyond What feature will be in Modules that you purchase. Will it just be a database of the adventure? Will we have maps w/quick links?

Replying to @RunklePlaysGame

All the tooltipping/ crosslinking that is found throughout the site + all interior art + hi-res maps + all NPCs, monsters, items in listings

Dead Trees we all know how this works. Anyone here reading this likely owns one, has owned one, or has flipped through and given one a look. You get it.
This is where you need to step back and really see the value that Roll.20 and FG are bringing for that extra money. With Roll 20 you will get.
  • Over 350 hours of campaign preparation completed for Roll20 users.
  • Over 30 battle-ready Maps, enhanced with Dynamic Lighting.
  • The High, Common, and Complete Tarokka Decks is included in this purchase and also sold separately.
  • Original Castle Ravenloft maps in top-down format, exclusive to the Roll20 version for easier use with the virtual tabletop.
  • Isometric Castle Ravenloft maps included for reference as player handouts, and also as interactive maps on the tabletop.
  • Rollable Tables of all shapeshifters in the adventure. This means that you can easily click to change Strahd von Zarovich’s tabletop token from his human form to his wolf, bat, or mist form.
  • Rollable Table of the Gothic Trinkets table. Players can make a single click to use this table this during character creation to get a trinket of some special significance.
  • Deck of Illusions as a playable card deck. Players can draw a card from this deck and it will immediately place a token of a random creature on the tabletop!
  • Statted Tokens featuring original artwork from Dungeons & Dragons. Tokens are linked to Character entries in the Journal, with Roll20 5th Edition OGL character sheets and clickable actions.
  • Cross-linked handouts throughout the adventure

That is a lot..

Fantasy Grounds Modules include

  • the entire contents of Curse of Strahd adventure
  • image handouts that can be shared with players collectively or individually
  • maps containing information for the Dungeon Master (DM) only and with all locations pre-linked to story entries which may contain additional DM notes, boxed text, encounters, images and treasure parcels
  • maps with all hidden information removed and resized for use as tactical combat maps. * The maps of the interior of Castle Ravenloft are presented in an isometric format that won’t align with a typical top-down map format.
  • tokens for many of the monsters in the module. When no token is available, a letter token is used to represent the NPC
  • XP for encounters that can be dragged to the party sheet and awarded to the players as they complete them
  • Searchable monster indexes by CR, type and in alphabetical order

Overall my thoughts land that with both Roll20.Net and FG you may be paying more but you are getting a considerable amount of features to use in their respective digital platform. Currently With NO info on the upcoming Twitch Integration for D&D Beyond you are getting a long less for a lot less.

Subscriptions

Subscriptions run in two tiers for D&D Beyond. Hero and Master.

Hero Tier

The Hero Tier at $2.99/ month is intended primarily for players. It removes ads on the site, allows players to create an unlimited number of characters, and add publicly-shared homebrew content to your collection to use within the toolset.

Now at the Hero Tier for $36 a year you are getting a digital home for all of your characters. Additionally, you will be able to any shared Homebrew content to your account. I could see this being a very nice and worthwhile and affordable high-end digital option. If you only use content from the PHB and you jump in on D&D beyond in the first week you would have digital access to all the content you would ever need for D&D as a player for $55 the first year and $36 a year every year after. Or $66 in the first year if you do not get in in the first week of D&D Beyond.

Master Tier

The Master Tier at $5.99/ month is intended primarily for Dungeon Masters and full groups. It grants all the benefits of the Hero Tier, and also allows a DM to share all her unlocked official content with other players within a campaign – so content does not have to be unlocked by every player.

 Okay so for the Master Tier we are looking at $72 a year in subscription costs alone. The reality of for DM is going to be the cost of entry that you will need at least the holy trinity of books to start. The DMG/PHB&MM are going to run you $60 in the first week or $90 after the first week. Taking a look if you are going to get started with D&D Beyond it will run between $66-$96 bucks in your first month.
After that, it will run you $72 a year if you chose not to make any purchases after that. Or if you decide to pick up one adventure a year and one of the 3 other sourcebooks you don’t have yet on your account to begin catching up. ( I think that is a conservative example )  It will run you $127 bucks a YEAR!
Now we could call it $12 bucks a month and say it’s not that bad, call it an MMO. But at 12 bucks a month you still would be missing several books for years to come at that rate.
On the other hand, if you are a completist, up front D&D Beyond is going to cost you…
PHB/MM/DMG=$60/$90
Volo=30
Sword Coast=30
Xanatars=30
Tiamat=25
POA=25
OTA=25
CoS= 25
YP=25
SkT=25
ToA=25
Total cost= $325 on starting week $355 after the first week.
($380 if Tiamat needs to have two books to complete)
 Or  $150- $180 plus sub if you decided as a DM you are only going to stick with the core books. Again followed by the $72 per year sub costs after that or $97 if you buy only 1 adventure a year.
Now, one benefit you will have at this Tier that they speak about is that this is a “Group/DM” Tier. You can share all content of this tier with up to 12 players in your campaign. Additionally, the DM can share this info with free players also.

My Thoughts

Okay, that was a lot and I have taken a long time to think about how I feel about all of this. Overall I think that I will have to roll this into two rankings. One for Hero and one for Master Tier.

I decided to give both Tiers a Ranking on my Runkles Ranking scale. I am basing my score off of WOTC 4E D&D Insider. The D&D insider was a subscription service that in the last months cost $10 a month by month or $6 per month via year sub.
D&DI gave you access to a Character Creator, a Monster Customizer, and a searchable Database of the rules. Additionally, DDI gave you access to both the Dungeon and the Dragon online Mags. Lastly, it is very important to note that with DDI you had access to ALL D&D rulebooks as they were added. They were not required to purchase extra.

Hero Tier Rank, 

I think after taking into account the cost for a year as well as the options and features that this tier offers is a great value. I think that if you pick up a PHB and a year sub this is a 14. on my Ranking scale.

Master Tier Rank, 

There is just so much here that has me concerned. There are just so many costs that add up quickly on the DM end of this project that makes me not nearly as thrilled by the total costs that begin to mothball quickly and no matter how you slice it the costs continue to stay upwards of $100 dollars a year.
For that reason, I think I will give the Master Tier a 9 Ranking. Overall I think the pricing misses the mark for what it offers. The Subscription fee is on target but the overall costs that slowly mothball into a very high price tag will put it out of reach to the casual DM.

GROUPED MASTER TIER

 

Well, I wanted to address this as I have seen multiple comments about just having your group combine spending power to make it all cheaper to buy. I give that idea 5 due issues that I have spoken of in the past. Who gets the Master Account in the event of a Break in the group. If more than one person at the table moves away and joins other groups who get to use the accounts if the account crests over 12 in a campaign. At a rank of 5, that means I just plain think this is a Terrible idea.

Final Thought

I was nearly done with this and I stumbled on something that I find very worrying and that is as sample price breakdown that we will see if you want potentially purchase at the Hero Tier with Ala Carte Bundles. And let me just say WOW… I am not a fan.

This sample was to explain how a bundle package would work to make an Aasimar

So, are you saying that if all I ever wanted to do was to create an Aasimar Paladin with the Oath of Vengeance subclass, with the Purple Dragon Knight Background, equipped with a Dawnbringer and a Blod Stone in his inventory, that I would have to purchase:

  1. Player’s Handbook for $29.99
  2. Dungeon Master’s Guide for $29.99
  3. Volo’s Guide to Monsters for $29.99
  4. Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide for $29.99
  5. Storm King’s Thunder for $24.99
  6. Out of the Abyss for $24.99
  7. In addition, say I subscribed at just the $3/mo for the next 12 months to see if this actually develops into a proper service and add a homebrew magic shield that the DM created to this character

For a grand total of $205.94 

BadEye from D&D Beyond corrected him but I sill find it concerining. 

Quote from BadEye >>

  • Aasimar Race – $2.99
  • Paladin Class (with all PHB options) – $3.99
  • (Purple Dragon Knight is actually a fighter subclass, but let’s assume that you mean some kind of background from SCAG): Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but you will be able to customize a background entirely, so if you don’t mind a little bit of typing, then the cost is $0. If you reallywanted to buy one, then it’s $1.99.
  • The two magic items for $1.99 each

For a total of $12.95.

There will also be other “bundles” that will give you those things and other things like them for a good bit less than your original assessment.

The model has flexibility. Again, this is framed using your words of “if all I ever wanted to do.”

Thanks!

Interesting I will say that I was happy to see that I nailed the class price. But what worries is to see that it seems that they have directed the D&D game into price points. $2 bucks for each Magic Item and $2 for a background… NOT A FAN.

What are your thoughts on what has been announced so far? Like it, love it or hate it? Feel free to comment below!

Dog Might Games Skirmish Box

With 17 hours to go, I won’t have the time for a deep in depth review of Dog Might Games newest product The Skirmish Box. But In the short time I have had it, about eight hours now I have given it a bunch of attention. The box is everything I asked for and could not be happier.

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A few weeks back just as Dog Might Games was about to launch their current Kickstarter The Skirmish Box. I had reached out and asked them if they had any new products in the wings. After some discussion, they let me in on their plan to craft an amazing magnetic minis box. A box for Skirmish war games like Wyrd Miniatures Malifaux or Guild Ball or even as a storage box for your D&D and Pathfinder minis, I was immediately sold!

They kindly offered to chuck a box in a mail bag and have one sent straight my way so that I could do a review on it. Knowing that this was likely a box that I will use extensively for a long time to come asked if they would consider taking my logo on the box this time. Usually, for review proposes the Viking lords at Dog Might grab a product sample at random pitch it into the air for Hermoth to deliver straight away. In this case Dog Might was happy to oblige, but woodworking and art take time and they have other Kickstarter orders and products that take priority.

The Postal gods were not kind and I had hoped the box would have arrived on Saturday. Eventually, It did arrive and I have had it here for nearly eight hours now. With less than 15 hours to go before project ends and they begin cranking out boxes for their eager backers. Thankfully I did get it before the project ended and here we are with a final hours review!

In the past, I have had hands on review of Dog Might Games Dice Chest, The Dragon Sheath as well as their Dragon Trays. Each of these has impressed for equally different reasons. The Skirmish box is by far the biggest of the boxes I have reviewed for Dog Might. The Dragon Tray is longer but the Skirmish box is one massive hunk of carved wood.

In standard Dog Might Games fashion, they are giving you a tremendous amount of customization options to make your box your very own. Skirmish boxes can have up to six designed insides depending on your personal needs. Myself I got the open box as I will likely be storing large numbers of RPG minis that I pull and store before my weekly games.

With nearly 30 exterior carving options including the Malifaux Symbol and each of the Malifaux factions you have a huge selection of carvings to pick from to adorn the top of your box. If you are unable to find a symbol that you like. For the small price of $25 dollars, you can ask them to provide you with a custom job like they did for me. They currently have over 1,000 metal symbols to pick and chose from!

The selection of wood types varies by Tier but they have more than 20 woods and stains to choose from. All of these things make for a very personal experience you are not just getting a box that is like every other box that was produced for the Kickstarter. Time and pride go into their craft and It shows. If every box was just ripped off an assembly line I would not be writing a final hour hands on review It would have been done weeks ago. That says a lot about the guys at Dog Might Games.

Now, does the box do what they guys at Dog Might Games do what they say it will? I did not have the opportunity to run the gambit of tests. But I did take the time to drop a few of my rare earth magnets into my box to test the strength of the hold it gives. I am pleased to confirm the hold that the metal plate gives is considerable and you can expect magnetized models are going to stay in place nicely in this box. When playing around with this I also noted to myself that the lid of the standard box makes as a great dice try as well. I thought that would be worth pointing out!

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The Skirmish box comes in two sizes.

Dimensions. The Skirmish Box comes in 2 sizes. There is no price difference in the sizes:

  • Standard is 11.25 x 5.75 x 4.25 with an interior height of 3″ (the bottom is 2″ deep and the top is 1″ deep). Fits minis up to 3″ in height.
  • Large is 11.25 x 5.75 x 5.25 with an interior height of 4″ (the bottom is 2″ deep and the top is 2″ deep). Fits minis up to 4″ in height.

Dog Might says

“The Skirmish box uses an embedded metal plate that allows your minis with added magnets to stand apart from one another, ensuring safe transport. It also offers a variety of wells to hold cards, tokens, dice, or anything else you need for your game and holds up to 25 minis.”

Well, I can tell you in my last photo I had set more than 30 minis of various sizes in my open well box. All of the bases had room sit and connect flush if they had been magnetized. Granted it is worth noting that I was also using 28mm figures. I think the 25 figure statement is based on 35mm models.

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In the end, this is just another awesome Dog Might Games product. And anyone that plays Malifaux or any other skirmish game is going to draw attention when they set this bad boy on the tourney table. Congratulations on a job well done Dog Might Games!

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