Flames Rising PDF Store
DriveThruComics
DriveThruFiction
Powered by DriveThruRPG


Home » Wizards of the Coast » G1-3 Against the Giants (1e) » Reviews
 Quick Find
Browse Categories
The Beast
The Beast
Pay What You Want
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!
 Information
See our Quickstart Guide for information on how to get started.

Having Problems?
  • FAQ - our Frequently Asked Questions page.
  • Device Help - assistance for viewing your purchases on a tablet device.
  • Contact us if none of these answer your questions.

Affiliate System - Click here for information about how you can get money by referring people to Flames Rising PDF Store!

Our Latest Newsletter
Product Reviews
Privacy Policy
How to Sell on Flames Rising PDF Store
Convention Support Program


RSS Feed New Product RSS Feed
Back
Other comments left by this customer:
The Black Spot
Publisher: Grasshopper Games
by Edward C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/24/2014 13:06:57

Bottom Line Up Front: The Black Spot is a fun game for creative people that could benefit from expansion and/or adult libations.

Extended Review: The Black Spot is a diceless-GM-less storytelling game that lends itself to the Horror or Disaster genres, but could easily be adapted to any adventure that lends itself to a cinematic-style story. The equipment required for the game includes roughly a hundred cards (provided in the reasonably-priced PDF) and some means of generating a random number from 1-20, which most gamers will probably have on hand in the form of a d20. However, the numbers are only needed prior to the start of the game for generating characters, so any method can be used if a die isn't handy. Players will need to decide beforehand about how long they want the game to run, as that will have an impact on some of the rules. Once the length of the game and characters are estabished, play is begun by setting the initial scene and dealing out cards. Each player will take a turn explaining actions taken by their character, as guided by the cards they are dealt. Play ends when the cards run out or all players have left the scenario, either by escape or becoming a victim.

I did a Test-Drive on The Black Spot with a small group of experienced gamers. We chose the short minute-by-minute rule set, which limits the players to 15 seconds of explaining their character's actions. Rolls of the dice generated three characters that were drawn from the archetypes of horrod filmdom. Our characters were Ashley the Cowardly Athlete, Dave the Pensive Acrobat, and Serge the Madcap Mechanic. After choosing an opening scenario and playing a couple of cards each, we quickly found ourselves on top of a bus surrounded by zombie fry cooks. Ashley and Serge managed to escape by the luck of the draw, and will mourn the loss of Dave if they ever hear about it.

There are a few things to keep in mind with The Black Spot. First, there isn't a clearly-defined winner of this game. You could say that the winners are the survivors, but the survivors are just as likely to be eliminated from the game early as those who are victims. You could define the winner as the last person standing, but a game played by the rules could easily allow for the last few players to be eliminated all at once, or even for the game to end with more than one player still standing. For all practical purposes, the only way to determine a winner in The Black Spot is to decide who told the best story with the cards they were dealt.

Second, if you are the compulsive sort you must be made aware from the beginning that The Black Spot seems to have been somewhat of an arbitrary decision. In the pirate tradition, an individual who is given the Black Spot can expect to die in the near future. In this game, The Black Spot is an indicator that the game is transitioning into a new stage of activity. It could have just as readily been called "Dim the Lights" or "Cue the Eerie Theramin Music", but that would have been difficult to illustrate on a card, and The Black Spot is much more catchy.

The Black Spot, as mentioned previously, is geared toward the Horror genre. When the game is shifted into Danger Mode some sort of homicidal character or situation is engaged and the players are required to react in accordance with the descriptions of their characters. With very little effort the characteristics could be adjusted to Fantasy archetypes, for example, and Danger Mode could be a dragon or troll rather than a miscreant in a hockey mask. The author could probably think of an entire set of cards and market an expansion for any number of film genres. I don't know how well a RomCom set would sell at Drive-Through RPG, but if they could be advertised in Seventeen Magazine they could be a runaway hit.

The key to this game, though, is creativity. People who are not good at making up stories are going to find this game frustrating. People who are good at it will have a lot of fun. And if you are hanging out with your old friends from the High School Drama Club and are now old enough to have a couple of adult beverages, this is going to be EXTREMELY popular.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Spot
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks man! Glad you liked the game. This was exactly the sort of thing that I hoped people would get out of it.
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Edward C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/05/2013 09:19:56

Writing a review for Against the Giants is a bit like telling someone about Diet Coke and Mentos. As soon as the words "Diet Coke and Mentos" come out of your mouth, most people are going to start telling you about their own experience with them and their spectacular effects. But some people are going to look at you confused and ask what you are talking about. So you grab that moment with both hands and immediately run to the nearest Stop-n-Rob to buy some innocent-looking candy and soda and be part of a moment that someone is going to remember for the rest of their life.

If you have played AD&D, Against the Giants is probably one of the adventures you reminisce about most at the Old Gamers' Home. You remember that moment when you opened that one door in the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief and felt like Han Solo rounding the corner into the StormTroopers. Or the guy who made the mistake of using the fireball at the wrong time and place in the Glacial Rift. Like any other module, you watched good characters die and lucky characters make exactly the roll they needed at the crucial moment. And if you were a serious gamer you probably went through it multiple times.

But like bell bottoms and that old flame that sent you a Facebook friend request, AD&D is making a comeback, and a new generation of gamers are being introduced to the mysterious alliance between factions of giants who would normally no sooner work together than twerk together. When DriveThruStuff announced the opening of the DnD Classics section, this was no doubt one of the first modules many searched for, and it was the first purchase I made when I logged in.

Now for those of you who have yet to experience Against the Giants, this one is called a Classic for good reason. It is a challenge for players and DMs alike. For the player, there are giants. Lots of giants. And there are giants' pets, giants' servants, and giant's houseguests and family to deal with. This doesn't mean you can check your brain at the door. Giants may not be brilliant strategists, but invading a giant environment has challenges you may not anticipate until you face them. And if you don't think, you are going to miss out on loot. You can, however, expect to gain a LOT of rocks. Giants love rocks, and carry them around in bags (according to the Monster Manual).

This leads us to some of the challenges the DM will face. 1) LOTS of bags with random contents: There are approximately 52 giants just on the first level. Each has a bag that holds from 2-8 items which are randomly generated from a percentile table. Your party is going to want to look through a LOT of those bags. If any of the first ten or so have gold, they may want to search every bag in the place. Download a random die roller and do all of this before the first session.

2) Dense population surrounded by empty spaces: If they don't use the right entrance a particularly stealthy party, or one that moves fast, could get through a significant amount of the first level and only see a few giants here and there. That is, until they open one particular door. You may want to change the population density a little and have the giants move around a bit. Or you may want the party to walk in to a particularly memorable event. Just be aware that they could get the impression that the giants are away on a raid.

3) Layout favors the cautious/cowardly: Parties who want loot more than glory can get their wish if they play their cards right. For example, in the Steading it is possible to get into the main treasure stash by opening less than 10 doors and quite possibly not even seeing a giant. On that route they will also pick up a significant clue that essentially satisfies they requirements of the mission. Are you, as the DM, going to let the chips fall where Gygax put them, or are you going to intervene?

There are some minor issues with the text itself, but nothing that applying some common sense won't get the DM through. But those issues were in the original published version. The PDF is true to the format of the combined modules. Older gamers may remember when the three Giant modules were sold separately, so they may be surprised at the size of some of the maps in this combined version, but they still print well even if enlarged.

The important thing to keep in mind is that Against the Giants is not a nostalgia module. It doesn't "give you the feel" of old-school Fantasy RPG. It IS old-school Fantasy RPG, the standard by which other old-school style games is to be judged. When you picture a group of nerdy gamers in the late 70s in their Kiss Army T-shirts having pizza and Mountain Dew while playing D&D, this is what they are gathered around.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Edward C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 07:11:44

As an adventure module, B1 In Search of the Unknown is lackluster. For the most part it is a simple dungeon crawl. It doesn't compare to the Giant series or even the Keep on the Borderlands for role-playability, so for the experienced old-school gamer this is going to be a nostalgia purchase.

But for the begining DungeonMaster, or the parent that wants to introduce the kids to tabletop roleplaying, this is a great utility piece. The fledgling DM will find that the exercise of adding the proper mix of adversaries or potential allies to the various rooms will give you a solid foundation for one day creating your own adventures. And then supplying those adversaries with appropriate treasure will teach the new DM how to walk that fine line between Feast and Famine; too much and the party becomes too powerful too fast, too little and the risk isn't worth the reward. For the beginning player this module is partly an exercise in "letting Grandpa tell us about the Good 'Ol Days", but the open nature of this module gives you a real opportunity to exercise that imagination that drew you to tabletop gaming in the first place. Most importantly, it gives the new player and the new DM an environment in which to understand the Player/DM dynamic. The structure is loose enough that adjustments can be made on the fly if needed. Bottom line: as long as you don't expect more out of this module than it was intended to be, or as long as you are able to bring the additional storyline yourself to this framework, this is an enjoyable open-ended treasure and monster hunt and a great introduction to the AD&D System.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Displaying 1 to 3 (of 3 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
Back