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Mecha — A Field Guide
by Taylor H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2017 12:40:35

Mecha, A Field Guide is a Starfinder product attempting to add mecha and powersuits to the game. While the game certainly could benefit from rules for mecha, this product missed the mark for me and did not fullfill the potential that I had hoped it would reach. The problem doesn't come so much from the presented rules, but from a lack of following a pattern already present in Starfinder for starships. It gives rules for using mecha, and presents a couple options for what a mecha stat block could be, but it fails to offer a method for creating your own, much like how Starfinder did for starships. What is presented appears to be balanced and follows much of the same patterns and level balancing that Starfinder's Core Rulebook uses, and thus I would approve of the material at my table if I had a use for it. The art inside is nice and the layout is decent, with the exception of occasional overly large art and the broad header and footer. The writing could have used some work, but that might be an issue of my personal writing style preference making me biased. There were also a few places where terms were not correct, such as using "Full-round action" instead of Starfinder's "full action", but that is easily forgiven as everyone is still learning the various differences between Pathfinder and Starfinder.

I'm giving this 3.5 out of 5, because the rules are usable as they are but the scope is limited, there isn't anything presented to allow for new mechas to be made, and the writing could use a little more work. I think this is a great first step forward and hope more is done with the concept, but this is not a must buy unless you are looking for multiple options for mecha rules.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy to review.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mecha — A Field Guide
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Mecha — A Field Guide
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/12/2017 08:34:52

Disclaimer: I received this copy for free for the purposes of reviewing it.

Here we have the Starfinder compatible Mecha: A Field Guide from Rising Phoenix Games by author Rodney Sloan and artist Bob Storrar. We have a cover page, inside cover, ToC, and 6 pages of ad and back cover leaving a total 35 pages of content.

I would like to start out with saying artist Bob Storrar has done a fantastic job. While the header/footer (which alternates every other page) are a tad big to my liking, the wide side margins and background are great and the character models and weapon/armor art is spot-on and the two column layout is nice and clean. I will say I noticed a couple of boob armors, a pet peeve of mine, but it wasn't in your face. There is also some odd extra-beefy muscles for a normal sized neck/head but that's completely a style choice. I did notice a bit of a lack of alien characters but that's not a deal breaker in any way. Seriously, great artwork.

The first page of text we get is a little story about a group (I assume the character models we see in the artwork) on some kind of mission in mecha. It is an interesting little one pager and it gives some great session ideas.

Then we have a page describing mecha and some rules references for power armor as well. Mecha operate very similarly to powered armor, you may need a ladder or some mechanism to get into a cockpit on a tall mecha, which is a little touch I appreciate.

A new feat is introduced which is basically proficiency with mecha (like powered armor has its own proficiency feat). I'm a little torn on this one, while I completely understand the decision to make it a feat, I could also argue that just having enough ranks in Pilot should enough, and mecha are a little feat intensive...you have to have proficiency in light and heavy armors as well as a prerequisite. Soldiers will have no problems but if you want to play a character who pilots mecha and can switch to powered armor that's a total of 4 feats you need to do so.

Mecha are essentially presented as a type of vehicle with its own EAC/KAC and HP which are targeted and depleted first. There's a nice little table where if you're mecha's HP is depleted, further hits against it require a save or a Hit Location is damaged and you lose certain things, like Right Leg means move speed is reduced by half. I'm a huge fan of things like this.

Max Dex, ACP, Speed, Str, and Con are all determined by your mecha or powered armor. Each mecha or powered armor requires a battery and there is mention of possibly using an alternate power source in mecha such as a nuclear reactor which can recharge the battery (still needed for ignition). Mecha and powered armor have weapon slots and upgrade slots for customisability. Mecha can have a crew complement. Crew basically can act the same as in starship crews (and do in starship combat) during regular combat. Some mecha are also capable of space flight and can have starship scaled combat, a separate starship stat block is presented alongside it for those. Starship combat for mecha follows starship combat rules. Regular combat with a complement has an interesting caveat that all complement can fire any weapon from any cockpit on the mecha as a standard action during their turn and reload as a move action, but any given weapon can only be fired once per round. Its a neat little design that allows for, say, five mini lion mechas to come together to form one huge mecha and each can fire any of the associated weapons, but it prevents every pilot from just firing the ultimate weapon on each of their turns. Mecha with arms and hands can wield any weapon sized for them from the Starfinder Core Rulebook, which is nice but I would have appreciated some words on what the damage/etc is for something like a Colossal longarm.

Starting at page 21 we are presented with 5 pregen mecha and frames, from a sneaky infiltrator, magic/tech fusion, to a kaiju hunter and starship scale mecha. Interesting and diverse, its a good mix and good starting base. The book assumes we will either take these 5 or be building our own.

Starting at page 34 we get 9 new mecha weapons, mostly focused on plasma type weapons, and 5 pieces of mecha equipment. Weapons are presented with a credit cost, and 3 of the equipment pieces are presented with credit costs while 2 are build points...indicating their use during building or upgrading your mecha. Without spoiling the surprise...these 2 pieces of equipment lean towards starship things and they immediately conjure images of Robotech being laucnhed. Page 37 brings 6 new armor upgrades for your mecha from camouflage to shock absorbing fall dampers which reduce damage from falling. Some good ideas here and plenty flavorful.

Would I recommend this book? At $6.95 USD you get 35 pages of content, which boils down to closer to 25 pages with artwork (which is still great!). If you dream of playing as a mecha piloting character then, yes I'd grab this book. Its fun, flavorful, I didn't notice any major errors and only a few very minor grammatical errors, and most importantly it got me imaging an entire campaign based around mecha. While I could wish for some specific rules on joining mecha to make a big mecha or for more weapons/armor upgrades/pregens, at the end of the day what's presented here is useable and makes it easy to reverse engineer and build my own and the book itself presents itself as simply that and not a mecha building guide. Four out of five stars, would recommend.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mecha — A Field Guide
by Joseph C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2017 14:34:57

Massive amoubts of wasted space with Terrible art . (The Pin headed muscle man comes to mind A few pages in. Mecha Designs that are terrible arts wise, and varebones rules. What charles said, but twice. I want my money back.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thanks for your feedback. Send us an email and we'll see what we can do for you. (You can contact us from the "Contact Us" page on our website.)
Mecha — A Field Guide
by Charles A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2017 03:07:47

No disrespect to the producers, but I can't say I'm too pleased with this product. I expected something similar to the Starship Construction rules, but for Mechs (or at least a bare bones system, considering the price point).

Instead I got some several pre-made examples of Mechs/Power Armor, plus some bare bones rules for using them in combat.

Also, even though the artwork in it is nice, There are several cases where, in the 44 page count of the product, where the art takes up 1/3 of the pages, and a couple of times where its half or ALL of a page, with no words/game content.

Oh, well, its not like there aren't MANY old Mech construction rules for a d20 game out there, and it shouldn't be too difficult to come up with my own system using them, Starfinder, and this, as source material.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thanks for your review Charles. We'll certainly keep your views in mind going forward.
Contagion's Kiss
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2017 14:43:38

This was very smoothly entered into a "Arabian" desert campaign and to put it mildly, FUN was had!

As a DM just sit back and watch the party try all the possible ways to get into the keep, just not the obvious one because that seems to easy, except that it would have been the best choice by far...

And then the chains, the chains and the chains. A very good way to keep a party busy for a while, add on top that it puts the real fear of PC death into each and every player, very nicely done! And don't forget the poison. One little mistake two sessions earlier and there you go, a brand new thing to track in a party with no cleric and youre stuck in the middle of the bloody desert.

I would definitely reccomend this module for any game type. It can be easily modified into any setting and will do wonders for a combat or RPG heavy party as the DM can very easily balance the NPC's and puzzles to suit the game tempo and party composition. The adition of creepy into the mix makes it a nice spine chilling adventure, even by daylight!

~Swampy



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Contagion's Kiss
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Chilling Curiosities — A Field Guide
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2017 01:34:42

Excelent piece of work this! It sets the tone for a low level graveyard visit and can add flavour to any haunted house excursion, adding just the right amount of spooky and intrigue. The ranger archetype is also a fresh take on the classical "I protect the forest" cliche.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chilling Curiosities — A Field Guide
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Chilling Curiosities — A Field Guide
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/03/2016 16:33:56

Another home run from this company! As always outstanding artwork and creative monsters on a double page layout format. Wonderful additions to your horror adventures. I think my farvorite of this group would be the dream stalker, very scary but the helm lurker takes a second place. Wonderful product. keep up the great work. Five Stars. :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Phoenixes — A Field Guide
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/17/2016 20:16:39

I love this product! I have always loved phoenixes even when i was a kid. Conan (the cartoon version) had a phoenix for a friend, Needle, which i always loved. Most bestiares and monster guides usually deal with many types of dragons and while dragons are great, it's nice to see other mythical beasts getting some love and attention. As for this product, the artwork is amazing, the layout is wonderful (in a double page layout) and the types of phoenixes are creative. i am having trouble finding a favorite and they are all wonderful and unique. I absolutely love the choices for the familairs. One of them in fact may have been inspired by the old Conan cartoon. This a wonderful product on par with the Field Guide to Grffins published by the same company. I can't wait to see more. FIVE stars. :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Phoenixes — A Field Guide
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Griffins — A Field Guide
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/16/2016 22:53:13

I have always loved monster manuals, I still do, so when this PDF came out i knew it was going to be one that i was going to buy. This product did not disapoint. The artwork is beautiful and top notch. Each of the grffin species is unique and a pleasure to read about as well as being a creative take on different griffin species. I also thought it was a very nice touch that the authorsand artist included pictures of heraldic griffins as a base for the griffins species that they used. You also getinformation on how to take care of the young griffins, an cavalier order and 2 archtypes to round out the PDF as a very nice addtion. The only thing that might turn people away is the price. $6.95 is not a great amount but for some this might be too much for a PDF that some might consider to be fairly short. My advice in regards to this product is to go for it. if you love griffins you will love this product. I do. if the authors and artist decide to do other prodcuts like this with other creatures (and i hope they do), I would like to make a few suggestions. First; if it is possible to have the wonderful artwork on a single page alone and then follow with the stats. Second: two of the enteries have double page artwork which in this PDF, means that i am looking at half of the picture at a time. I feel like i am missing the full effect of the artwork when i have to look at the picutres only a half at a time. Perhapes having a PDF that has a double page style would be better for those pages. Despite those two little things (and they are very little in my opinion), i love this product. I do hope that the authors make more. My suggestions, phoenix, unicorn and pegasus but i would love to see any entry in this new series. Great job and i look forward to more releases like this. FIVE stars :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Griffins — A Field Guide
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NPC Strategy Cards
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/18/2014 08:37:06

A simple, neat and elegant GM's tool... labelled for Pathfinder but useful whatever game system you are playing.

In the heat of battle, it is easy enough even as a player to lose track of your character's considered goals and the best path to achieve them: even harder as a GM with a whole mob of NPCs to handle as well as the overall moderation of the game! It also helps you give NPCs some individuality: this one is cautious, this one is rash especially if he's had a few drinks, this one fights dirty whilst that one is clinically efficient until someone insults his Momma...

A brief key and a sample card is provided, then there are several blanks. Being a PDF, you can print out as many as you need. They are not set up to enable typing in, you are expected to print and scribble - but if you use Adobe Acrobat, go into the Comment|Annotations menu and pick Text Comment. If doing this, remember to save a blank copy so that you can reuse the cards again and again first.

The card covers a range of things: to start with the NPC's name (Fred, Spear Carrier #2 or whatever), a reference for his full stat block (scenario notes, a bestiary...), and the vital ones, his AC and hit points. His role - why he's wherever he is - and morale too.

Then there are a variety of situations with space for you to jot down what he will do in those circumstances. It starts off with Ease, or what he does when not under any kind of threat. Then Alert, what he does when he thinks something's up. Then there are spaces to record his likely actions in Melee and Ranged combat, and the final slot is Blood - what he's going to do when it's all going wrong for him and he's dropping below half his hit points.

It's a really neat idea. Of course, you can come up with other things you might want to have. What does he do if intimidated? What are his 'triggers' for flying into a rage? Can he be bribed and if so, what does it take? I guess that's what the back of the card is for!

And best of all, they're free :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NPC Strategy Cards
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Lunatic Labyrinth (Revised)
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2012 19:14:26

One of the hardest things about playing a tabletop RPG is simply finding people to gather around the table. Coordinating schedules so everyone has enough free time at the same time can be exceptionally difficult. Given that, it’s surprising that more companies don’t put out adventures that can be used with only GM and a few players…or even one GM and just one player.

One such adventure is Lunatic Labyrinth, from Phoenix Rising Games.

It should be mentioned that Lunatic Labyrinth is billed as a game that can be played not only for one-on-one play, but also for solo play – that is, one person who acts as both player and GM. This claim is technically true, but there’s something of a “but…” in there. Which we’ll talk about more below.

One other thing should be made clear from the outset; at the time of this writing, I haven’t seen the Pathfinder Beginner Box, but from what I hear it’s got some sort of streamlined or specialized rules for easier play; based on what I’ve seen Lunatic Labyrinth doesn’t use anything in particular from the Beginner Box – this is straight Pathfinder.

The file comes as a single twelve-page PDF. I was surprised at the brevity of the adventure, but found that it managed to pack quite a bit into its twelve pages; between the adventure itself, the discussion of supplementary materials, and the labyrinth tiles, the book really feels packed.

From a technical standpoint, the book does fairly well. Full nested bookmarks are present, for which I give the author extra props, as I can imagine plenty of people overlooking those in a product this short, and copy-and-paste is likewise enabled. The artwork exemplifies the phrase “simple is best,” as it consists solely of black and white interior images (notwithstanding the labyrinth tiles, which are in color). This isn’t bad, and actually fits fairly well with the “no-frills” look of the book.

The adventure itself is refreshingly straightforward; you’re an adventurer looking to make a name for him- or herself, and to do this you’ve come to Lunatic Labyrinth, the abandoned lair of a cabal of warlocks, to claim the magic sword that lies within…you know it does, since the opening text says you’ve seen it in a fortune-teller’s crystal ball. I wouldn’t mention that last part, as it’s a fairly small bit of the opening read-aloud text, but it irked me a tiny bit, simply because it’s a throwaway line that just seems like it’s begging to become problematic if the adventure turns into a campaign (“before we go storm the vampire lord’s manor, let’s visit that fortune-teller I saw before I raided Lunatic Labyrinth; her crystal ball worked then, it should work now!”).

The adventure is easily set in any world, but does have a specific setting that it’s set in. This is very loosely described, having only a single half-page map of the region and quick glossary of locales. More is available on the Phoenix Rising Games website…something that the product tells you over and over. I’ll confess that I was slightly off-put at just how often the product hawked visiting the website; maybe it was right to do so, but it felt like it was stressed a little too strongly.

The labyrinth itself is based around a series of tiles, set randomly into a 5x5 grid (the entrance and exit aren’t random, however, always being in opposite corners). Each tile shows a hallway in some configuration, such as straight, a four-way intersection, a corner, etc. A smattering of monsters are also spread throughout the dungeon, looking to put an end to your hero.

Actually advancing through the dungeon is a bit tricky. The text on the tiles says something to the effect of keeping the tiles hidden from the player, but that seems counter-intuitive, so that’s a bit of a mark against it for being unclear. As it is, the text says not to try and make the hallways on each tile match up; rather the PC and the monsters both make a check (which is not the best idea, since it uses a skill most PCs won’t have…certainly the monsters don’t) to rotate a tile. The monsters, of course, are doing this to get at the hero (though how many of them move is random, and they move the same way as the hero), while the hero is presumably trying to get to the exit.

The adventure is written for a single character or 1st or maybe 2nd level. In this regard it’s spot-on, as the few monsters in the dungeon are fairly weak creatures…but then again, you’re an extremely low-level character all on your own. The monsters are represented by tokens for the labyrinth, and determining which is which requires a random roll; each monster has their own bit of flavor text and tactics laid out.

Once you reach the exit, you come to the final room and face the dungeon’s boss monster to claim the treasure and hear the game’s epilogue. Of course, the boss is no easy monster, especially as you may have fought all of the dungeon denizens to get there. Insightfully, the book takes this into account as it says that if you’re not a fighting-based character (e.g. a wizard), you’re also taking a 1st-level human fighter “guide” with you as well (I did like that he’ll abandon you if he’s hurt badly enough unless you can convince him not to, a nice old-school nod to how NPC henchmen aren’t fanatically loyal). Make sure to double-check his stat block though, as it’s missing some information (CMB and CMD for example) while others are incorrect (e.g. his saving throws).

By now, the question of how the game is meant to be “solo-playable” should be obvious; this idea largely rests around the idea that the monster tokens on the labyrinth tiles use a combination of randomized (for how many move) and pre-set sequences (for where they move) to determine whether or not they encounter the hero. This part did seems somewhat entertaining, but only from a simple standpoint – it was more of a quick mini-game than a true solo adventure.

The rest of the adventure is a more traditional set of Pathfinder encounters; you could conceivably run these as a “solo” also, but only in the way that you could play chess as a solo affair, moving one side and then the other. That’s pretty lacking in terms of excitement, since everything short of the die rolls is entirely under your purview, and you can fudge those.

As a one-on-one adventure, I’d recommend removing the mechanics relating to how the monsters move and instead treat them as you would monsters in a normal game. Beyond that, it’s actually a very fun little adventure, offering almost but not quite enough to get a first-level character to second level, if they defeat every monster (on the medium XP progression), and hitting that sweet spot where it’s simple enough not to feel like a burden, but presenting just enough of a wider world to seem tantalizing – while it may need a bit of polishing to make it shine, I’d definitely run this as an introductory adventure for someone new to the hobby. You don’t have to be crazy to see the excitement that Lunatic Labyrinth offers.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lunatic Labyrinth (Revised)
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