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Thoughts on Fate: A Collection of Essays on the Fate RPG
Publisher: Amazing Rando Design
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/28/2016 17:40:56

Not a bad collection of essays on Fate and how to run it. Naturally, everyone's experiences as a GM will differ and different techniques work better or worse with different players, so I'm not about to adopt all of the suggestions in here. In fact there are a few that I violently disagree with. That said, the essays are well-written and are good fodder for thinking about different styles of play and of running games. And there definitely ARE suggestions that I plan to adopt for my games going forward.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Thoughts on Fate: A Collection of Essays on the Fate RPG
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T-Builder Lite
Publisher: Lord Zsezse Works
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/30/2015 14:58:49

I gave this a neutral rating. I downloaded it to see what it was, and if there was any chance at all that it could be made to work in a Linux environment. Well, as of the end of 2015 there appear to be no Linux tools able to handle a PDF with the extensions that this file uses.

So, if you live in the Windows (and maybe the Mac) world, then this might be a useful aid for you. If you're in the Linux world, its a no-go.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
T-Builder Lite
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T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/26/2015 15:02:11

I've never been a huge fan of Traveller. Any game in which you can die rolling up a character has serious design flaws as far as I'm concerned. However, I bought the book as I'm a fan of SF roleplaying in general, and was hoping for some interesting game design ideas in the new book. However, this book seriously needs some editing love. When rolling up a a test mercenary character I found myself hunting for definitions of terms that don't show up until hundreds of pages after they are first used. There are tables forty pages apart that I kept having to flip between and mysterious notations in tables that I literally took hours to decipher.

At least my first attempt to roll up a character didn't die. No, he was crippled for life during his second term in the Marines...



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
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The Void – Stygian Cycle V
Publisher: WildFire
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/05/2015 15:39:50

I've been buying the Stygian Cycle of adventures to mine for ideas in my own space adventure game I'm running, rather than to play directly. As such, I have to say the idea of a colony suddenly appearing years after its mysterious disappearance, with no indication that time has elapsed, was a very interesting plot hook, and one I may well use in my own game.

That said, and without giving away any spoilers, I have to admit that I'm somewhat disappointed by the final explanation of what was going on. Given who and what was behind it, and the motivations and abilities of the various creatures involved, I would expect there to have been other more effective things they could have done to achieve their ends. Still, the basic story is sound, even if I have trouble with some of the motivations for it, and considering the price, I don't really have much to complain about.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Stygian Cycle V
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e-Adventure Tiles: Hazards - Winter Slime
Publisher: SkeletonKey Games
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/05/2015 15:31:11

I generally love the various tile offerings from Skeletonkey Games, and this set is no exception. The art meets the normal high standards that I've come to expect from this publisher. The only reason that I've set it one pip below perfect is because this is a tile set featuring a mobile creature -- the winter slime -- and its appearance in a number of places. Along with the various tiles, I really would have expected a winter slime counter or two so that when running an encounter I would have a way to show it creeping after someone, or showing up somewhere unexpected other than in the given set of tiles.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
e-Adventure Tiles: Hazards - Winter Slime
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e-Adventure Tiles: Annual 2
Publisher: SkeletonKey Games
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2015 16:57:29

These are a grab bag of bonus tiles from SkeletonKey Games. All of excelent quality, but varying wildly in applicability to my games. Still, you can't argue with FREE and I picked up the Annual 1 and 2 so as to get a good idea of what other eAdventure sets I might buy.

Having looked at these it seems distressingly likely that the answer is "all of them". Well played, SkeletonKey Games. Well played.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
e-Adventure Tiles: Annual 2
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e-Adventure Tiles: Annual 1
Publisher: SkeletonKey Games
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2015 16:56:29

These are a grab bag of bonus tiles from SkeletonKey Games. All of excelent quality, but varying wildly in applicability to my games. Still, you can't argue with FREE and I picked up the Annual 1 and 2 so as to get a good idea of what other eAdventure sets I might buy.

Having looked at these it seems distressingly likely that the answer is "all of them". Well played, SkeletonKey Games. Well played.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
e-Adventure Tiles: Annual 1
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Machinations: The Nova Praxis GM's Companion [FATE]
Publisher: Void Star Games
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/04/2014 12:29:59

To put it bluntly, I was disappointed with this product. I have some players who have asked to play in the Nova Praxis setting, and so I've been reading through the main book, plotting out ideas for stories. This has been very frustrating as the main book contradicts itself, has huge exploitable loop holes in the setting, and basically describes a society that is inconsistent with the technology that sustains it. My notes on how to make things make sense keep growing hourly.

Perhaps it was too much to hope that a GM's add-on product would acknowledge and/or attempt to fix some of these flaws, but there is no evidence of that. Instead there is some more background info on the Houses which is useful and adds color, but causes confusion as well, as it fails to answer the one question that I have about every adventure: why isn't House X handling this itself?

Basically, if you have a shadow war, you need some reason for the houses to involve outsiders. Plausible deniability is fine, but that can only take you so far. When a house can modify identities and change records, you have to wonder why they don't just have shady internal groups of ninjas doing all their dirty work. Why take on the PCs?

And given that the main premise is that the players are minor characters in the shadow wars, why is so much of this book devoted to having them work as (essentially) government agents? These plots are of no practical use to me in this setting.

Other questions I wanted answered that weren't: What are interplanetary ships like? How fast do they go? What weaponry do they carry? Just how many jump gates are there (the main book says both 2 and 'hundreds') and what prevents them from being used as a terrorist weapon? Why doesn't any pre-mimir technology exist in the apostate colonies? Why are vulcan swarms so damn important when eveyone already knows how to build buildings?



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Machinations: The Nova Praxis GM's Companion [FATE]
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Creator Reply:
Hi Stirling, I\'m sad to hear you were disappointed. But I\'d be happy to try to address some of your concerns. And please feel free to contact me at mike@voidstarstudios.com with any questions/concerns that I don\'t cover below. \"Why isn\'t House X handling this itself?\" It does, often. The PCs are generally a mix of House members and Auxiliaries, but there are certainly Auxiliary teams that work exclusively for certain Houses. And the Houses also have their own internal groups entirely loyal to the House, check out the \"Enforcement\" section in each House\'s write-up. Cipher, The Red Sun, Reaper Teams, Wendigos... all of these are serve the role of the House\'s \"internal groups of ninjas\". :) \"Why take on the PCs?\" Use of internal organizations like those listed above would still require some degree of consent within the House leadership. But often times, Shadow War activities are initiated and carried out by factions within a House that may be at odds with another faction. Within the Houses, the \"sanctioned\" groups listed above would still operate somewhat on the record. Mixed team Auxiliaries (like the PCs usually are) can operate fully in the shadows, and their missions are likely only known to very few people. \"Why is so much of this book devoted to having them work as (essentially) government agents?\" We wanted to present a few new campaign styles as options for the GM. While I felt that the Shadow War stuff was a good, familiar, jumping off point for GMs in the core book; I wanted to show that there was more to the setting. Campaigns based around Phalanx Formations and Scholae Palatinae offer opportunities for the GM to offer up different sorts of missions. And as you can see in the Arcs, they sort of roll into each other., offering crews opportunities to advance and grow. So you could play as Auxiliaries, eventually become a Phalanx Formation, and then one day get \"promoted\" to become Scholae. \"What are interplanetary ships like? How fast do they go? What weaponry do they carry?\" In addition to the Silverpike in the core book, Machinations contains a new sample ship (The Chickenhawk). Speeds and weaponry are covered in the vehicles chapter of the NP core book. Is there something more specific you\'d like to know? \"Just how many jump gates are there (the main book says both 2 and \'hundreds\')\" Any properly equipped star ship can produce a jump gate. If you mean Jump Rings, there are two in the Sol system, but many more in the network between Sol and the other planets. \"...and what prevents them from being used as a terrorist weapon?\" Nothing. Sounds like a good plot for a campaign. :) \"Why doesn\'t any pre-mimir technology exist in the apostate colonies?\" Some do, but it depends on the type of technology. Mimir-tech became common before the Exodus, so most pre-Singularity tech was left behind on Earth. That\'s not to say that someone couldn\'t come along a start producing pre-Singularity weapons and vehicles again, but few Apostate enclaves have the resources to do it. \"Why are vulcan swarms so damn important when eveyone already knows how to build buildings?\" Vulcan swarms allow you to build things designed on the spot, very quickly, out of the surrounding natural materials. That means you don\'t have to acquire and ship much, if any, raw materials to the build site. This is very useful if you want to build something in secret, and/or need it done very quickly. I hope that helps. I always feel bad when I hear that someone is disappointed in one of our books, so please feel free to contact me with any additional questions. Thanks! Mike
Girl Genius Volume Thirteen
Publisher: Studio Foglio
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2014 12:23:21

Girl Genious is a wonderful ongoing comic and this 13th collection is no exception. Give the comic a try at its web page for free, and you'll most likely find yourself ordering a hard-copy for posterity too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Girl Genius Volume Thirteen
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Delta Green: Countdown
Publisher: Pagan Publishing
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/18/2014 13:02:06

I'm only 2/3 of the way through this massive product, but all I can really say about it is that its every last bit as good as the main Delta Green book. If you've read that one, then that's good enough. If you haven't, go get it, read it, and then get this one, too!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Countdown
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Delta Green
Publisher: Pagan Publishing
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/18/2014 12:37:37

I think this is the first time I've ever given a 5/5 rating to any product, because I tend to be very picky, and often end up thinking "I could have done a better job than this!"

Not this time. No way. I kept thinking to myself "If I only I could write supplements like this"!

Simply put, Delta Green is amazing. I don't think I'll actually ever run a Modern Spies vs Mythos campaign (its not the sort of thing my players go for) but that is beside the point. This book is so full of cults, organizations, historical time lines and detailed character write-ups that I will be stealing ideas from this book for years to come, to adapt to my various campaigns.

I really can't praise this book highly enough.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green
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Exploration Trucks
Publisher: DramaScape
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2014 12:32:39

Once again I find myself unhappy with a DramaScape product. The saddest thing is that I've just finished a 5-year campaign in which the players drove everywhere in a large exporation truck, so for 5 years, I've been looking for a product just like this. I should have been delighted to finally find one, but I'm not.

My basic complaint is that, once again, we don't get any views that let us distinguish visual ambiguities. The artist might well know what these trucks look like from the front, side or back, but I sure don't. And such views would be nice not only to give help in imagining the trucks, but in settling details. For example, there is a hatch on top of the cab that leads down into it. How high is the cab? Is there a raised area above a set of back seats that someone descends down to, or not? Are there any back seats? Does the hatch just drop you on to whoever is sitting back there? My players are gonna ask ALL these questions and I wouldn't have answers.

And the platforms that go on the back. Some have ladders leading up/down to the hatch. What is the actual height difference here? We will never know.

So, these diagrams fail in exactly the case that I would want them most: as a battle map for a mad-max style conflict on a moving vehicle. They just don't tell us enough, and they could have, so easily, with the addition of a single extra page showing front, back, and sides with indications of where the platforms would sit.

So, its currently a free product, and to me, worth about that much. I simply have no use for something as incomplete as this. Had it been finished, I'd have happily ponied up $5 or $10 for it.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Exploration Trucks
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Mindjammer - The Roleplaying Game - FREE PREVIEW
Publisher: Modiphius
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2014 00:15:31

Not much point in reviewing a free, small download but I was asked, so here it is: it worked.

What I mean by that is that I have bought just about every space-themed FATE game out there, and generally I have been sorely disappointed. So, when I saw the price tag on a printed edition of Mindjammer, I decided I'd either get the PDF or, more likely, not get it at all.

Now that I've read the preview I've decided its worth the money for the hardcover. I was seriously impressed with the small bits I read, and want more.

But don't take my word for it. The preview is free, download it yourself, and check it out!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mindjammer - The Roleplaying Game - FREE PREVIEW
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Limitless Horizons
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/24/2014 13:43:47

At first I found this product to be very confusing. From its description I had expected a post-singularity science-fiction setting for Fate. Instead it turned out to be a pulp SF add-on to Spirit of the Century, which made extensive reference to that particular set of rules. What's worse, it NEVER actually mentions Spirit of the Century at any point in the text, but refers to "SotC" as if it should be an obvious reference.

However, once I had figured out that it was an add-on product, and resigned myself to it being a different kind of SF setting, the contents were fairly useful. I am a fan of SF pulp stories, and have written some scenarios that I would love to play out in such a universe, and Limitless Horizons would be of some use there, but only some. I found the rules presented to be a bit of a grab-bag of ideas, and not as coherent or as well-explained as I would have liked. For example, the statement that armor causes stress boxes to not 'roll-up' would appear to make armor able to absorb infinite stress and I doubt that is what the author intented that rule to imply.

Frankly, I suspect I find far more useful rule ideas to steal for a pulp SF game in the 'Bulldogs' setting, than in this supplement.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Limitless Horizons
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H1 Keep on the Shadowfell & Quick-Start Rules (4e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/15/2013 20:43:59

I have to admit that I've only read through this adventure, and have not (Yet) had a chance to run a group of players through it. That said, I was very impressed with the product in general. It gave the necessary information to get a novice GM and a group of new unexperienced players on the right track and keep them there. The Keep part of the adventure is a standard dungeon crawl, but there are multiple opportunities to role play encounters with the nearby village inhabitants, and I was pleased to see just how varried the different encounter types were.

If I had any nitpicks, they'd be minor: A novice playing a magic user is going to be confused by terms like close burst, blast, barrier, and the like, that are used to describe his attacks. Yes, the GM's information does indicate what they mean, but it would be better if a legend or a side bar could have been provided for the mage's use so they wouldn't have to keep asking the GM how to use their own powers.

I also would have like a depiction of the Kruthic as they are the only creatures encountered that a player unfamiliar with D&D might want an explanation of, and which were not already illustrated.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
H1 Keep on the Shadowfell & Quick-Start Rules (4e)
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