Against The DarkMaster Review
Your epic saga is about to begin!
The Darkmaster, an immensely powerful being of pure Evil, threatens the world once again. The last hope of the Free Kins lies in the hands of your heroes, they alone have the courage to stand up, and defy the Darkmaster.
Against the Darkmaster is a tabletop Epic Fantasy roleplaying game of high adventure, heroic action, and heavy metal combat.
This core rule book is a 570 plus page tome with a full-color cover with beautiful black and white line drawings inside. Art director Tomasso Galmacci is listed as one of the interior artists and he more than nailed the classic look of an 80’s rulebook. The layout of the book is kept to a simple two columns with scroll-like sidebars breaking in the text. It’s here where Against The Darkmaster starts to show its hand that this book is not a simple reprint of Rolemaster. Many of the sidebars scattered throughout the text offer rules hacks and tweaks with ideas that modernize the rules.
This game system starts out simple enough, but understand you will have to do some math. Rolling percentile dice is the name of the game, as you roll your dice add your roll total to a skill percentage and if you total is 100 or over, your character succeeds. Roll over 175, and that’s considered a critical success. The success chart in the game also suggests other modern elements, such as a success with a cost for a roll between 75-99 or a critical failure of 5 or below. Players can climb these heights (or fall into the mathematical pits of despair) because the percentile rolls are open ended. 95 or higher means the players roll again and add, while 05 or lower means the players roll again and subtract.
Combat rounds are structured so that magic and ranged attacks sandwich melee action in a round. That allows for some weapon strategy too, as the longer the melee weapon is, the earlier it goes during the melee section. Instead of the base 100 target number weapons are rolled on a chart determined by their type of damage with each of the four armor types on the chart. If the roll is high enough, a second roll occurs on a critical hit chart also determined by the type of weapon. This is where a short description of a nasty injury resides, along with some long term effects of the injury like a torn tendon or bleeding hit points each round. I would suggest for anyone playing to get a photocopy of the charts, or to pick up a PDF copy of the book so you can print out any relevant charts and have them quickly available for each player’s damage.
Magic’s complexity comes in its adaptability. The majority of the classes come with some level of innate magical talent, with each of the classes having access to some spell knowledge. This is granted by trading in skill levels on a two for one basis. However, the systems multiple rolls for a single action slow down game play, but it’s not any more different than having to separately roll to hit and deal damage. There are magic points and modifier charts, but the real cost of magic is revealed when a magic user does too well, they run the risk of revealing the heroes to the Darkmaster and getting some supernatural goons sent to take them out.
This creates a fun riff on the wandering monsters concept and for those who might not have a tyrannical villain set on destroying the world in mind at the start of your campaign, the book offers a few charts for inspiration, as well as some sample villains and minions. The Darkmaster is the main villain of the campaign created by you the GM. The Darkmaster creation is of the modern ideas incorporated into character creation, such as drives that come off as aspect-like ideas that encourage players to get into trouble to score advancement points.
Players also get background elements that work a little like feats while also tying into drives and shared world creation. A character that has an Assassin training background is encouraged to make their relationship with their guild as a drive and the GM is encouraged to build the details of that guild together. Which encourages both GM and players to further build upon and expand the world. Which supplies a co-op element to the roleplaying table not see in many games, which I love.
Imagine If had a magical blender of awesomeness and you threw in the works of J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings, dropped in a bit of Robert Jordan’s ‘The Wheel of Time’ series, added a dash of Labyrinth and Dragonslayer, and sprinkled it with a healthy dose of roleplaying, you’ll end up with an amazing game session filled with high fives as you make your way towards your ultimate goal of defeating the Darkmaster.
So grab your dice, strap on your armor, grab your sword and get ready to join the fight Against the Darkmaster!
You can pick up your copy of the game here : https://www.vsdarkmaster.com/
Witchy Eye Review
Witchy Eye, by D.J. Butler which is published by Baen Books, is set in an alternate history version of early America but with the fantastic addition of magic! Our heroine Sarah Calhoun finds out there is more to her life than she thought when she evades a kidnapping attempt at the Nashville Tobacco Fair. Throughout the novel she works with recently made friends as well as old ones to stay ahead of those who want to see her dead.
Butler is a master at creating in-depth stories filled with so much detail that you honestly feel like you are living the adventure as it unfolds within the book. The pacing of the novel is keeps you flipping page after page as you desperately want to find out what is going to happen next. However, I found it interesting that I never felt rushed as I furiously flipped through the pages.
Sarah is a very engaging protagonist. Like most first time heroes she has her doubts about herself and her abilities, but wonderfully so she is not your stereotypical damsel in distress. Her flaws only serve to make her more appealing and life like to throughout the story to me. Plus they give some great ways for the story to progress. I loved the various supporting characters throughout the book that just seemed to add more colors and flavor to Butler’s masterpiece. Just like our main character these characters also come with their own set of flaws that Butler craftily shows working to overcome.
There are a number of antagonists, and surprisingly not all of them are bad guys. Having so many of them kept me constantly second guessing myself and trying to figure out what they were up to and how they would affect the hero’s journey. A clear bad guy is presented by the end of Witchy Eye, but Butler does a good job of throwing out red herrings left and right to keep the reader guessing at motivations for everyone.
I loved this book and I highly recommend Witchy Eye. I had a great time reading it. If you like unique fantasy alternate history, you will love this book. I can’t wait for the rest of the series!
The Longest Con Review
Have you ever you ever gone to a convention and aimlessly wandered down one of the many aisles going from booth to booth and come across an authors booty where the author isn't there? Have you ever wondered why they weren't there and what they were doing?
Well The Longest Con written by Michaelbrent Collings just may give you the insight you've been searching for. With characters like Larry Correia, Kevin J. Anderson, D.J. Butler, Orson Scott Card, Mercedes Yardley and Michaelbrent himself how can things go wrong!
As all convention go'ers know no con is perfect and there are many behind the scenes things that happen without our knowledge. However, at this convention things become so intense behind the scenes that these authors stop selling their books to rush to the aid of the poor convention go'ers that are caught in the middle of a war with supernatural beings.
If that doesn't peek your interest I don't know what will?
If you've ever had the chance to catch any of the Dungeon Crawler interviews with Michaelbrent then you know this guy has a thing for golden babies and a sense of humor for a horror writer. The Longest Con is bursting with humor you're taken through a series of twists and turns throughout the story with his usual tight prose. The story itself is fun, original, and well worth the price of admission
Thomas Destiny Review
If you are someone that likes books such as Fablehaven or Janitors, you need to pick up a copy of Thomas Destiny! Thomas Destiny is one of those fun books that you can pick up and finish within a few hours or a long car ride. The action picks up right away and you will find yourself laughing along the ride. Especially if you ever participated in any scouting activity. The main character is a twelve year old boy that accidentally releases an evil demon while on a scout camp.
I never remember my scout camps being that interesting. However after the demon is released all sorts of trouble begins and it's up to Thomas to stop him.
The characters are really well written and memorable. You soon will find yourself picking out who your favorite character is and wanting to know more! You may even find yourself yelling Jackpot for no explainable reason. I certainly did. The great thing about this book is that it's a book I feel comfortable with letting my kids read.
Thomas Destiny is the first book in a trilogy that is definitely one that I will be reading again and again. Jason King and Jon Grundvig really have something amazing happening within the pages of his book. I look forward to the next chapter in the series.
If you want to learn more about what the author said about Thomas Destiny Check out our interview with Jason King on Dungeon Crawlers!
This is a fantastic game to add to your collection! So our recommendation is for you to run over and support this Kickstarter campaign and make this game a reality!!
The Finger Trap Review
Written by Daniel Swenson
The Finger Trap
By Johnny Worthen
We have had Johnny Worthen on Dungeon Crawlers many times now and Johnny is always a hoot to have on the show. He is full of life and passion when it comes to his writing and his stories. So when Johnny asked me to read The Finger Trap I readily agreed.
First of let me start with the cover of this book. It is stunning and as you look upon it you instantly want to know who the woman is in the blue dress and what's her story? Unfortunately many of us do judge a book by its cover. Let's be honest if the cover of the book doesn't make us go hmmm I'd like to know what happens in this book. We place it back on the shelf and walk away sometimes never to pick up the book again.
The cover to this book immediately grabbed my attention as you have a beautiful lady in a blue dress facing away from you. For me it immediately pulled my attention in because most of the cover is in brown, green and yellow tones with the exception of the woman's dress. I'm a fan of the color blue but what was most intriguing to me was the fact that this woman wasn't looking at me but rather looking away from me as if she was walking away towards something or was walking off in a huff because I had said something stupid or unflattering to this woman.
And then I cracked open the cover and began ready this story about Tony Flaner. Some authors out there have the ability to draw you into a story, spinning their web pulling you deeper and deeper into the intrigue all the while the rest of the world continues to spin on without you. Johnny Worthen delivered just that experience with this book.
Johnny Worthen is one of those authors that likes to write stories in a variety of genres and the eloquence of his words are always present. From horror to young adult to mystery these are books you will come to love and enjoy.
In The Finger Trap by Johnny Worthen we are presented with Tony Flaner, a down-on-his-luck protagonist who’s gotten himself into quite a predicament. He’s one of those people who goes with the flow, and never bothers to actually plan out his life – even though he’s had many opportunities to do so. This, unfortunately, is one of the reasons why his marriage didn’t work out, why he’s never kept a job for very long, and why his whole life is about to take a turn for the worst. When he’s framed for a murder, however, it’s up to Tony to put on his big boy pants, get to the bottom of the mystery, and save himself from serving time for something he didn’t do.
The story overall was very witty, sarcastic, and incredibly enjoyable. This book will entertain you for hours! You start reading a few pages and the next thing you know hours have flown by. I just couldn't get through the pages fast enough as Tony's adventure drew me further and further in.
So if you’re in the mood for a mystery that’s slightly different, a whole lot of funny, and extremely gripping, this is the book for you.
I'm eagerly waiting to see what tie-dyed madness Johnny will come up with next!!
This game moves really fast when you’re at the table racing against your opponents to create a combination that will allow you to grab for the gun in the middle of the table. You will quickly find yourself on a rollercoaster of fun as you go from growling in frustration to jumping up in wild glee after pulling the trigger to knock out one of your friends from the game.
Panic Fire has an incredible replay value, even without the shield cards, though they do help to keep you alive! I highly recommend this game for anyone who might enjoy a light strategy card game that you can play in half an hour (although you'll probably want to play a few games in a row, just to get back at your friends!). Check out Panic Fire and the other amazing game by Three Headed Giant at www.ThreeHeadedGiant.com.
The Force Awakens Review (Spoiler Free)
Yesterday was a day I will not soon forget. It was filled with excitement and wonder as I got to see the return of one of my favorite movie series, Star Wars. I have been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember. My memories go way back to a time when I was small young boy sitting on my uncles shoulders watching all the events unfolding before my eyes. I was immediately enthralled with the movie, the characters, the Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and more.
This amazing galaxy and its peopled called to me and I felt one with it. Like many of you when I was younger I wanted to be like Luke Skywalker wielding a lightsaber and fighting off the evil empire or I was running around with a bucket on my head pretending to be one of the Storm Troopers storming down a rebel base. As I sat in the theatre eagerly awaiting the movie to start along with my wife and friends my excitement rose to an all-time high. The movie was finally here after months of being teased with trailers and images online.
Then the lights dimmed, the John Williams opening theme music blasted through the speakers and Star Wars appeared on the screen, I cheered in excitement along with my friends and many others in the theatre. The Force Awakened had finally arrived! The next episode in a long line of Star Wars movies was here and the events were about to unfold before my eyes. My inner child was squealing with glee!
Many of us have been both encouraged and worried that this movie wouldn’t live up to our expectations and it could be another Phantom Menace. Don’t get me wrong I love the Star Wars movies but the prequels just didn’t speak to me like the original trilogy did but I still love the movies because they are Star Wars. The biggest question out there is “Did JJ Abrahms and Disney let us Star Wars fans down?” to that question I have to say a big resounding NO!
The Force Awakens was everything I wanted it to be and more. The movie was visually stunning and the dialogue was so amazing. The characters both new and old had me smiling, tense and worried. As before I felt like I was flying through the galaxy with my old friends. I left this movie filled with awe and wonder just as I had so many years ago as a child.
There were so many subtle nods to the original movies that were masterfully placed throughout the movie and Abrahms didnt pull any punches in this movie. Finally we saw Storm Troopers that could shoot something! This movie was everything I wanted in a Star Wars movie and more. I cannot wait to see what Disney does with the next episode and with Rogue One. Where will they take me and my old friends along with the new friends I just met? Where will they take us next in this vast galaxy filled with both the dark and light side of the force?
Fans new and old will love this latest installment of the Star Wars Franchise and I for one can’t wait to have my kids see it in the theater much like I did long, long ago.