Thursday, October 27, 2016

Endless Vigil Update



NEW RACES
The Good: 2 new races: the Muun and Pantoran.
The Bad: 1 duplicate race: the Gand.  The 2 new races are pretty blasé.

NEW SPECIALIZATIONS
The Good: no duplicates. lots of force related talents. All three trees are pretty strong in RP flavor and have some cool powers that will make them fun to play. More than a couple pretty cool new talents.
The Bad: I personally feel like the Racer specialization is completely out of place under the Sentinel career and has no right to be here. I hate every talent that has a conflict cost associated with it (my table ignores conflict costs for knowing powers).

NEW SIGNATURE ABILITIES
The Good: My City is a pretty cool talent that will prove useful to many who have heavy rp games with lots of figuring things out. Unmatched Vigilance is also a power...
The Bad: My City has some vaugeries that make it odd.  it says 'when in the chosen urban setting' but doesn't specify how you choose a setting or what the options are?  it reads like it means that you choose whatever setting (city/town/village/urban-place) you are currently in... and proceed from there. but since i'm left to assume i choose each time i use the power, it could feel kind of weird to be on a mission and show up at planet X where you have never been and you need some info in city Y (where you have also never been) but you make a good roll and suddenly the city is an open book for you and you apparently know all kinds of crap about it...  it's possible to explain this, but for me, after a time or 2 it would start to feel pretty dumb and very forced.
Unmatched Vigilance has the power to be completely useless (using it on a less important encounter) or completely break the combat depending on what the fights are... one big bad boss?.. better beef that bad boy up to the high heavens if he is going to get a turn. It also seems like the power is designed to encourage the player using it to make the players go last with powers that grant PCs boosts against NPCs that have already gone, and giving NPCs setback against PCs who have NOT gone yet. Unfortunately, the numbers game almost always means that it is unequivocally better for players to go first. When all the players go first they can take out 1 or more baddies before they get to even have a chance to roll those setback dice... or the players can get cover or run away or whatever.. before the baddies practically know whats going on.


NEW FORCE POWER
The Good: its new? Has lots of commit options which can be circumstantially helpful. If you like to RP a character that has no actual 'skill' but just 'makes things work', this is going to help a lot.
The Bad: Feels like it has no place in this SENTINEL book.. over all the power is VERY weak, and if you want to be good at repairing mechanical things and making them last longer, your XP would be far better spent in a career tree that is designed for it. The "FORCE" part of this does not provide very much that you can't get somewhere else for cheaper. also the actual text in the actual book has a duplicate entry for a talent that the tree only has one of, and an entry for a talent that doesn't appear in the tree at all. The entry that appears in text but not in the tree says that it allows you to use the Manipulate power to 'heal' droids. If this is actually supposed to be there, it would would definitely give the power some real power (maybe too much, and that's why it's not there?). But these errors just show that they really didn't know until the last second how this power was stacking and lining up. It probably should have gone through some more testing, and probably should have been in a different book.

NEW ITEMS/WEAPONS/GEAR
The Good: fair amount of new stuff. a new saber type (crossgaurd), and some new droids.
The Bad: The Lightwhip is all the proof you need that Star Wars is Space Fantasy and not Science Fiction because the Lightwhip will never make any real sense EVER. It's not allowed in my house and shouldn't have been allowed in this book. (this is obviously just my personal opinion, and your welcome to disagree (be wrong) if you like. :P )

NEW VEHICLES
The Good: a few decent small shuttles/couriers.
The Bad: Pod Racers.      thats really all i should have to say... but...
pod racers feel like they dont make any sense in a Sentinel book. To make matters worse they are their own special kind of vehicle thingy.. so that its unlikely that normal vehicle mods would work in most cases and the mods for pod racers don't translate to non-pod-racers. making this addition extremely limited..   also, i though that Force and Destiny took place much later in the star wars cannon, where (and maybe i'm wrong about this part) pod racing had kind of lost its popularity (which was debatable to begin with)...

THE NARRATIVE OF SENTINELS
The Good: nice to have urban go getters? and there are some decent hooks and RP material.
The Bad: seems sort of inconsistent at times, making it hard to pin down the role of the career.

CONTACTS
The Good: interesting concept that could be worked in as a sort of side-questy thing for some characters.
The Bad: once a solid contact network has been established, it could easily get out of had by providing answers that the GM may not want the party to have yet.  (obviously the GM can just say no, but it always sucks when you know you passed a roll, and still don't get what you want - doubly so when there is a specific game mechanic you have invested in in order to make that exact kind of roll.)

LIGHTSABER CRAFTING
The Good: nice to have more complete rules for this.
The Bad: Technically, all the basics of this were already covered in the beginner adventure thingy, so if you have that, this isn't going to feel nearly as cool.

Over all I'm giving this one a lower rating 5/10
due in large part to the fact that there isn't an over abundance of new stuff and what is here often felt out of place, off theme, and kind of beta.
If it wasn't for the cool Investigator Specialization i would have said 4/10

Updated Sentinel Career tree.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Forged In Battle update/review

Average quality Career expansion book.

4 New Races.
The good: no duplicate races from pre-existing books. A couple Cool powers in the Eloms Digging Claws, and the Dense Musculature of the Kyuzo.
The bad: Shistavanen have a power called Hunter's Instincts, which lets them use the Survival skill in place of Discipline or Cool when making an initiative check. This is nice ONLY for characters that don't plan on ranking up those other skills anyway. I would say 80-90 percent of the time that initiative is rolled at my table we roll Vigilance, as most combats are 'unexpected' or otherwise un-anticipated to the extent that making a cool or discipline check would not make sense. For groups like mine this power goes from circumstantially OK to a virtual non-entity.  Not worth the low 80 starting xp that Shistavanen have.  I would NEVER play one of these no matter how cool the theme is, because that's just way too big an xp hit at character creation considering it feels like i get nothing in return.

New Specializations.
The good: There are two.
The bad: A complete lack of luster. Trailblazer doesn't hardly seem to fit with the 'soldier' theme and felt shoe-horned in to me. The Heavy tree is a duplicate from previous publications.

New Signature Abilities.
The good: the first ability The Bigger They Are... is a cool one, that helps squishy parties in their pajamas take out vehicles and giant monsters without actually being completely OP.
The bad: nothing overly offensive.

New Items/Weapons/Gear
The good: a decent volume of new stuff, with a few items that really stand out as interesting.
The bad: Nothing that screams 'terrible'.

New Vehicles
The good: I like the throwback to older vehicles, and the focus on military function/style vehicles.
The bad: none.

The Narrative of Soldiers
the good: lots of good talk about soldiers and how to incorporate them. Plenty of hooks/flavor and muse material here.
the bad: can feel a bit repetitive at times and doesn't add to the mechanics of the game.

Fortifications.
Cool idea, with a decent implementation. 

Combat Environments.
I absolutely love this stuff. Mostly just new ways to spend advantages/triumphs/threat/despair in different environments with mostly combat theme. Nothing bad to say at all about this stuff, though i do wish there was a single reference for all this stuff now.....  hmmm..


Soldier Rewards.
The Bad: The book is called Forged in Battle (a sourcebook for SOLDIERS).. since there are books for hired guns, bounty hunters ect (all people who regularly get into combat) I assume that when they say "soldier" they mean MILITARY personnel. I am not even remotely a 'military man'.. and even I was kind of taken aback by the idea that the only way they could think of to reward people for their military service was through being wounded. Battle Scars may have a place in the rules, but as a reward mechanism for military service it feels pretty distasteful.  Basically the exact same mechanic could have been used but under a different header IE: Commendations & Accolades. 
Under Commendations and Accolades a GM, having viewed the Soldiers actions may choose to award a medal/ribbon/award to the player for those actions. Similarly to Battle Scars, each Award would have a list of common reasons to be given and a list of possible skills that it grants.
Since this is exactly how real life military's (on behalf of the organization itself and the people they serve) recognize and reward their service members, it would seem like a VASTLY more appropriate way to suggest rewarding a soldier. Not to mention that Commendations and Accolades would actually be something that a player could strive for, a goal to be achieved, as opposed to the Battle Scars which are basically a random chance event. 
The Good: The mechanics for Battle Scars are pretty cool. Being wounded or suffering a Critical Injury could happen to ANYONE from ANY Career, not just 'soldiers' so Battle Scars can definitely be added to basically anyone's game.


Forged in Battle gets an over all 7/10


Updated Soldier Career with new Specializations and Signature Abilities.




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Savage Spirits Update

a brief review/commentary..

This addition is so-so.  Definitely pales in comparison to the recent Special Modifications release. There isn't anything blatantly wrong with the book, it's just completely lack luster.
I think I dislike it mostly because it contains a lot of the little things that I usually let slide, but that annoy me incredibly.
Example 1: The Quermian Kinesic Intuition is in a call out graphic, but is a pretty important (and cool) FEATURE of the race, that should absolutely be listed in the BULLET POINTS so as not to be accidentally missed. You can do a call out as well, but the bullet points in the main text are where ALL the info belongs.

Example 2: According to the text and the power Additional Limbs listed in the bullet points of the racial traits, the Quermians have 6 arms. BUT there is not a single image in this book (or in a basic google search of the species name) that depicts them with more than 2 visible. Makes the whole thing feel like someone messed up somewhere along the line. Seeing is believing.

Example 3: Farsight.  It could have been a super cool Force power, but instead it's only a very good way to spend a bunch of xp doing what 2,000 credits worth of easily obtainable technology can do. I understand that tech can be taken away, and not everyone has 2,000 credits... but the power needed a little more Umph to stand out as a unique and interesting Force concept. Would have worked better with more focus on the Mastery (scrying) aspect, helping the power to function kind of like the Forsee power but for things that are definitely happening NOW.

Example 4: Unexpected Demise is the worst kind of signature ability. By making it possible (easy even) for a relatively non-combat oriented career to take out big bad bosses by flipping a destiny and landing one hit (not usually hard to do that minimum 1 damage), it de-incentivises and detracts from the other classes that ARE combat oriented and have to spend significant amounts of XP to accomplish the same task. It's nice to add variety to the careers but no single power should be capable of stealing spotlight of a different careers entire focus. If you give your politician the ability to stop an enemy ship in space, then your ace pilot doesn't get to do his thing when it tries to get away.

Example 5: Czerka Detonator Rounds. If you are going to provide special AMMUNITION options that change the profile of weapons, it needs to be a category and the ammunition's limitations need to be specified.
    "When loaded in its model 57 'homesteader' rifle, these rounds have the following effect..."
Great... can I load this ammo into other weapons? does it have the same effects on those weapons?
these are super important questions. Honestly i wouldn't mind seeing more ammo types, then slug throwers might be more interesting of an option. Not surprisingly, this special ammunition category is needed for Missiles, Grenades and similar munitions as well.

aaaaany way.


Updated seeker career trees to include new specializations and new signature abilities.
Updated Force power trees to include new Force power.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Special Modifications

This is hands down, no question the best supplement that FFG has released to date for any version of its star wars RP games. It's a solid 10/10 and basically a must have for any group.

here is the worst thing i have to say about this book; the races are decent, though not terribly entrancing. That's it, every other thing about this book is pretty awesome.

The entire book is seriously on theme.
The new specialization trees are pretty cool and 2 of them are very unique.
The new signature abilities are similarly cool, unique and very versatile.
The stuff, oh... man.. there is a lot of new stuff. Basically every category has something new.
   new weapons
   new armor
   new attachments for both
   new gear
   new droids
   new tools
   new ships
   new ship attachments
and after all this new stuff... if you are missing anything... fear not..
because the back of this book has new rules for making your own items
rules for crafting;
   melee weapons
   ranged weapons
   droids (and remotes)
and new rules for Slicing encounters...
then some new suggestions for technician jobs and rewards, just to add a little extra sugar to this sweet ass book.

This is a wonderful example of what a perfect supplement book should (in a perfect world) look like all the time.

I have updated the Technician pdf.
I have updated the All Trees pdf.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Nexus of Power

I look to the sector/location/region/ books for 2 things.

2* Inspiration.
1* Facts and Usable in-universe materials (locations/bad guys/ect)

Nexus of Power does a pretty good job in the Inspiration category. It has new worlds and many new locations in the form of Vergances. It also has a large section just for 'legends' of the jedi and sith. These things help to provide lots of base line concepts for development as well as sparking the imagination in other ways.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the other category, the facts and usable materials, Nexus of Power falls a bit shorter than its similar predecessors. The book has roughly the same number of locations but its a bit thin in the other categories. There are disturbingly few new baddies in this book compared to the other location books. With no equivalent to a D&D Monster Manuel, these location books have been the best and most reliable source for new baddies and it's a shame to see Nexus of Power in particular come up lacking.

Nexus of power has few new ships, a handful of new normal items.
This book has more than a couple pretty awesome and powerful new Artifacts and Talismans for Force users. Unfortunately a few of these have the potential to be so unbelievably over-powered, I would suggest to any GM to think long and hard before handing out these kinds of items.

on a final note, the new races are exceptionally average and completely lackluster.

All in all, this book is still a fun read that helps spark the imagination. Just don't count on Nexus of Power to provide you with too many toys or enemies to play with.

6/10

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lead by Example update/review

I updated the lists with the new Commander Specialization trees and Signature Abilities.

REVIEWish part.

pre- TLDR: Limited but otherwise solid new game options that entail no surprises or frills. If you want to run massive battles on a regular basis, this book is a wonderful must have. Everyone else should pass.


With a title like Lead By Example, one would hope that this supplement would be a shining example of what a great Supplemental rules book should be. Unfortunately I found it rather the opposite.

The new races don't explore any new territory and have no stand out qualities that aren't negative (i'm looking at you Water Dependence).

There are some neat new pre-fab base parts if your party is slowly building a base of operations from the ground up. Other than that, there is disgustingly little in the way of new toys (gear, equipment, ect.). 

There aren't many new ships, and most of them won't be the kind you directly interact with on a regular basis. (primarily because they are giant) these ships are cool, and having a few statted out is nice but on the whole they won't come up much.

The new Specialization trees feel like snake oil.
they try to sell you their great new flavor but then you realize the only ingredient is nutrasweet... and for the same cost you could have gotten some full on cane sugar from that cool specialization tree over there..
The Specialization trees themselves are pretty on theme, and on their own don't seem all that bad. Unfortunately this book doesn't exist on its own, and with a change in the flavor text, you could do a better job accomplishing your goals using other pre-existing trees. about the only thing you couldn't get from other trees, are the talents dealing with the new Mass Combat game mechanic...

that brings us to the new Mass Combat game mechanic.
The mechanics for massive scale combats like the ones frequently seen in movies and the Star Wars Clone Wars animated show, are actually quite good. I think they are simple to understand, fit with the rest of the established rules very well and allow for a lot of fluid storytelling and interpretation.
Unfortunately as many experienced GMs can attest (myself included), large scale military engagements of this kind are extremely difficult to manage, even in the best of circumstances. in order to keep players engaged and meaningful, they often require quite a bit more preparation and consideration.
maybe it's just me but i feel like giant military conflicts are suppose to be the backdrop to the epic stuff the party is doing, or as itself the climax to something grander. Either way, the party probably won't be and maybe shouldn't be participating in those kinds of massive combats super regularly.

so the question becomes... are you and your group going to utilize these rules enough to make them worth while?... remembering that the Specialization trees also have talents and features designed to interact with these rules...

if you are going to be doing lots of large military engagements, then this book is pretty awesome and you should definitely buy it.
if you are like the other 97% of people who will likely only have one or two (if any) large combats ever in their entire campaign... you should probably just adjudicate the rules on your own and save the money.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Keeping The Peace Update

Added all three new Guardian Specializations and the two new signature abilities as well as the new force power Suppress.

no reviews any more.
I don't have a whole lot of time so the reviews got cut. Apologies to anyone who was hoping i'd continue reviewing the books.

The Iktotchi are a pretty neat race though.