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Other comments left for this publisher:
Hamlet's Hit Points
by Brian C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2012 08:37:08

At times a bit stodgy and academian, but an entertaining read. It's definitely helpful for games like HeroQuest, and the forthcoming Hillfolk (both written by Laws, natch). Well worth any GMs time to read.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hamlet's Hit Points
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Hamlet's Hit Points
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/21/2012 17:12:04

In Hamlet’s Hit Points, venerable game designer Robin Laws describes a method of breaking down narratives into a series of “beats” falling into nine different categories. Laws uses square and arrow-shaped icons to chart at-a-glance the progress of any narrative. Three long examples—Hamlet, Dr. No, and Casablanca—illustrate Laws’s method. The analyses are fun to read and convincing. However, I was disappointed with the advice section, which seemed rather thin after the rich analytical meat of the book. This book is very good, but I don’t think it quite lives up to its press. At the end of the volume, I felt that I had learned a new way to describe what goes on in a story (including an RPG campaign’s storyline), but not really how to “lay compelling track for an emotional roller-coaster,” to quote the DTRPG product description. The book is engaging and enjoyable; the benefits of the system aren’t as obvious as I expected them to be, and I think the publisher exaggerates when describing the book as “an indispensable tool.”



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Bones: Us and Our Dice
by Edward J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2012 16:42:13

I found this book to be a well balanced, and well written collection of information about dice. All of it is knowledge. Some whimsical, some highly factual. The factual history of dice was one of the most engaging reads I've been exposed to, and I missed a bus reading on the way to work this morning cause I couldn't take my eyes off it.

It will fill you with quotes, having taking copious notes, cause if dice floats your boats, you need this book - totes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Bones: Us and Our Dice
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Hamlet's Hit Points
by Chuck C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2011 14:56:00

An outstanding work that should change the way you think about your game, as well as fiction and movies. This book provides a perspective on "social combat" that is rife for exploration, and a framework for evaluating stories (in and out of game) to give that perspective a little crunch. Well worth the read for any thoughtful GM or player.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hamlet's Hit Points
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Hamlet's Hit Points
by Vincent W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2011 18:43:54

Hamlet's Hit Points is truly a great book if you are expecting what you get.

What you get is:

a SYSTEM for analyzing narrative events into beats (significant segments of narrative). Laws defines 9 types of beats based on their narrative role. Each beat is given a symbol for use in a graphic analysis of the narrative. Each beat is classified by its function and linked to the next beat by one of three types of arrows that either point up, down, or both. The arrows record the emotional impact of the beat. Together the symbols and arrows provide a schematic of how the narrative functions. Included are 11 x 17 diagrams laying out each story.

Three ANALYSIS : Hamlet (the play), Dr. No (the movie), and Casablanca (the movie are analyzed using the beat system. To get full benefit from laws analysis you need to have read the play (or seen a good movie version) and seen the movies recently. I found that I got the most out of the book by reading / watching right before reading the chapters.

The publisher's website provides CC licensed symbols and arrows for you to do your own analysis.

What you don't get is:

much practical advice on improving / handling narrative in your own GMing. Or, even a discussion of how this meta-critical analysis ties in to RPG rule systems such as Law's own. Here I would recommend adding "See Page XX" 24 of Law's column and the additional free ones on the Pelgrane Press website.

In sum:

Whether or not this book is a good value for a role player depends on how important story is in your campaign. The first real chapter, "Surprised By Story", contains a too brief but interesting analysis of the place of story in RPG.

I hope that the book gets the attention it deserves from students of narrative in literature and cognitive science although I'm afraid it will not be showing up on reading lists with books like Jerome Bruner's "Acts of Meaning."

Small quibble:

The symbols and arrows graphed, rarely, don't match the text. Over all the proof reading is excellent.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Things We Think About Games
by R J C S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/12/2010 06:04:12

160 pages. 160 pages of words of wisdom from screenwriter John August, Evil Hat's Fred Hicks, GURPS author Kenneth Hite, genius cartoonist John Kovalic of Dork Towers fame, and many others. 160 pages of gaming secrets from 2d6 of the industry's greats, for only $8.00. So with this kind of a bargain, how could you go wrong? Well, when much of the book consists of one single quote per page, like "Know why you play games.", "You cannot convince someone who is not having fun that he is.", or "A game, as a creative work, has no responsibility to historical or scientific accuracy." (I lie: there's also a page number and a footnote entry that reads something like "Tags: games | life"), you might just feel let down. True, "bite-sized thoughts" is how they advertise the book. Most of these "bite-sized thoughts" go on for one or two paragraphs, and some are quite a mouthful ("Brevior vita est quam pro futumentibus negotiam agendo." was almost worth giving this book a third star.) But I just can't help but feel cheated when I open a book expecting to sink my teeth into something substantial like John Four's "NPC Essentials" or even the poorly-written (and farcically edited) "Ultimate Games Designer’s Coinpanion" [sic], and my meat-and-potatoes meal turns out to be a platefull of fortune cookies of dubious freshness... The book deserves two stars because some (and I emphasize that only some) of the observations are very useful. But fewer entries with greater development would have made this a sure winner. As for me, the next time I feel the need for words of wisdom by John Kovalic, I'll just reread one of the half-dozen Dork Towers books I purchased.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Things We Think About Games
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