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  #61  
Old 06-15-2016, 09:01 AM
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The Sword is a really great first scenario for learning Burning Wheel, with the caveat that it's PvP while (hopefully) most of your sessions will not feature that.
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  #62  
Old 07-04-2016, 10:25 PM
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I've actually considered running a Microscope game on the forum, using physical cards I wrote out according to people's instructions. Then I got a full-time job.

I actually finished up Burning Wheel a while ago. I remember before ever reading it thinking that it would be one of those relatively simplistic little indie RPGs, since it always seemed to be mentioned in the same breath as Dungeon World, and when I got it I was kind of confused as to how it could fill so many pages. Now I know! I stand by my "collection of minigames" comment from a while back.

I'm just finishing up Gods of the Fall. It's the Cypher System's superhero variant, in a post-apocalypse fantasy world where the home of the gods literally came crashing down to earth a few decades ago and people are just picking themselves back up. The superhero rules work really well as a way to play actually divinities, and the book is designed just as nicely as every other Numenera/Strange/Cypher System book.

What a coincidence I wrap this one up just Kevin Crawford's Godbound is being released. I think I'll have to wait on that one (printing and shipping will be a while anyway) since I have Ninja Crusade's 2nd edition sitting here waiting already; haven't cracked it open yet, but it's Eloy Lasanta so I'm expecting interesting and streamlined mechanics tied to a GMing style that irritates me greatly.
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  #63  
Old 07-05-2016, 06:42 AM
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From what I've seen run of Burning Wheel, you're not really meant to engage the more involved systems all the time. Like, not every fight should use the Fight rules; most of the time, it should just be one roll and you save the more involved stuff for the really important fights. Likewise with Duel of Wits.
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  #64  
Old 07-05-2016, 01:13 PM
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One Quiet Year would also be a neat thing to try and do on-line.
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  #65  
Old 07-05-2016, 02:05 PM
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Yeah, I would be into that!
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  #66  
Old 07-05-2016, 05:22 PM
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So the next v20 Kickstarter has a set of dice as one of the reward tiers. It's also based on Becketts Diary. I'm so weak.
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  #67  
Old 07-13-2016, 06:20 PM
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I was kind of worried what I'd do when I finished reading Ninja Crusade 2E (which'll probably be tonight or tomorrow), since I didn't really have anything else lined up to read after.

Then Godbound, The One Ring, and Dust Adventures came in the mail today. Crisis averted!
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  #68  
Old 07-13-2016, 06:28 PM
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I'll be very curious to hear your thoughts on The One Ring.
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  #69  
Old 07-15-2016, 10:51 PM
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I will be too! I like the Hobbit, but never really liked Lord of the Rings much, especially with all the elf-worship (they're better than everyone at everything! They're even better at living underground than the dwarves, for crying out loud....). Still, I'm looking forward to it. I'm a sucker for lore even if it's not my favorite, and it's definitely a very pretty book.

I did in fact finish Ninja Crusade 2 last night. It's... well, I actually sat down and made a few characters just for the pleasure of it while I was in the middle of reading the book. I can't remember the last time I did that. The system eschews base stats for a list of skills rated one to five; rolls are made using a dice pool equal to the sum of two skills (creating a healing potion would likely be Holistics and Craft, for example). Aiding another character is done by the simple solution of using one skill from each character (maybe your medical ninja has a high Holistics, but my trapmaker has a higher Craft so it's a good idea for them to work together to make that potion).

Combat actually does a decent job of making you feel like an anime ninja, I think. Every character has their own initiative and one action to take on their turn, then at least one Dynamic Action each round that they can use for various things like counterattacking enemies, taking actions out of sequence, extra attacks, and so on. Between this and being able to combine skills however you deem appropriate to your character and the situation there's a lot of opportunities for coming up with solutions on the fly and improvising in off-beat situations.

It's also pretty easy to make whatever character you want. While clans do have some specifics (each clan can only access two martial arts and must take at least one jutsu from their unique line) there are plenty of options for customization within that framework (take whatever other jutsus you want, weapon arts are open to everyone, etc. - oh, and of course there's a Ronin "clan" that can take build options a la carte). Weapons are built by picking keywords that give it different abilities. There's a suggested list of premade weapons, but it's by no means the be-all end-all of weapons. Want to use a rope dart? Go right ahead, and you'll be just as good with it as everyone else with their swords without having to jump through any hoops in character creation.

Speaking of character creation NC2 uses a life path system, which is something I'm growing more fond of as time goes by. It's a very convenient tool whether you generally approach character building from a narrative or mechanical point of view, helping you automatically fill in one of those two while you focus on the other. In particular, this one doesn't limit you like, say, the WH40K RPGs and their philosophy of "if you want to be this, you must come from that background" do. You also get plenty of bonus skill points to invest as you see fit, so there's still some customization there too.

There's also very little paperwork. There are no ammo counters to worry about, jutsu can be used as long as you have the minimum amount of ki (very little in the game actually spends ki), there's no monetary system at all. It's generally a very simple, clean, and overall ninja-y system.
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  #70  
Old 07-17-2016, 08:29 PM
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Cleaning up my Fate Worlds backlog before diving in to the Cyper System Rulebook...

Knights of Invasion is a pretty focused set-up for building an alien invasion of some fantasy kingdoms. It does a good job of breaking down the ingredients for its setup, and I really like the Emerald Knight scenario especially. Great stuff even if it's not my thing.

Deep Blue is basically a how-to for running Seaquest DSV with extra science and less aliens. It's pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum, with solid submarine rules, some well-chosen setting bits with a few clever hooks, then roll your own from there.

Morts is a pretty awesome framework for basically running a Borderlands-style game in a zombie-infested Pacific Northwest that's clawed its way back to some kind of normal. I didn't think this would my thing at all, but the concrete yet open framework and dry humor really sold me!

Nitrate City has the most purple opening I've ever seen in an RPG. It's kind of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" except for Universal monsters, early sci-fi, and film noir instead of cartoons. It explicitly spells out the underlying meta, which is great for someone not super familiar with the source. Not a fan of the alerted FAE approaches though.
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  #71  
Old 07-18-2016, 06:11 PM
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I've read up through the Virtues & Rewards section of The One Ring. Character building is very... detailed, I think would be the word. Maybe "granular"? I was really expecting this to be more simplistic to try and be welcoming to people who had never played an RPG before, but there's really a lot of meat on the bone here. At the same time though, it's got one of those life path/skill package systems I was talking about before, so character creation shouldn't take too long.

Then you get to equipment and weapon skills and it all feels so constrained. On the other hand, when your weapon list has - what? less than ten entries if you don't count the Rewards? - on it, I can see why you'd want to really limit weapon availability for each character to help make them more mechanically distinct.

I'd probably try making a character if I could print out a sheet; maybe once we replace our printer.
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  #72  
Old 07-20-2016, 12:07 PM
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It also eliminates an entire step of pointless optimization by telling you "if you play X here's how you fight".

I'd guess that it's also probably pretty good for people who've never played an RPG before, since most of your choices (Culture, Background, Calling) are guided by being meaningful in-fiction, and few of them are trap choices.
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  #73  
Old 07-24-2016, 01:40 PM
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I'm about two thirds of the way through The One Ring now. I'm enjoying it, but not completely.

First of all, I'll admit up front that a big part of what I was saying above about weapon skills and equipment feeling constrained comes from a misreading of the rules, or at least their intention. On page 78, when it explains what weapons Bardings and Elves can take for free, I had interpreted those as additional rules and not illustrations of what had already been said. This is why it's important to pick a style for your rules, a different style for your examples, and stick with them.

That said, while I'm now thinking that the character creation strikes a good balance between freedom and preventing munchkin behaviors there's I still feel like a lot of bigger picture constraints are in place. That's both a strength and a weakness of making a game in an established setting, obviously. It's just... I respect how well the game captures the spirit and feel of Lord of the Rings, but that particular setting just feels so limited to me. It's so black and white. You have these guys who are good, and these guys who are bad, and you go fight the bad guys. The party isn't even made up of player characters, but player-heroes. "Hero" is a really loaded word that comes with a lot of expectations.

I was kind of smugly scandalized that the book actually straight up says that the person in the group who has the best knowledge of Tolkien's work should run the game because otherwise it will get bogged down by pedantry from the players. On the one hand that is exactly what I expect would happen, but on the other hand I'm a cynic and a pessimist and the book could at least pretend that wouldn't be the norm.

Also, for some reason it kind of bugs me that Beornings are a culture. Beorn's only been social for like five years, that's not enough time to make a culture! It kind of feels like they saw a need for one more set of backgrounds to fill in a few thematic/mechanical holes and just invented the Beornings to do so.

Those mostly-setting-related quibbles aside, the game does sound pretty interesting. It's definitely specialized to a certain style of game that emphasizes the journey as much as the quest and ensures a measured pace to the story that I've noticed missing in a lot of roleplaying campaigns. There's been more than one game I've played where, as best I can figure, we gained ten levels and saved the world two or three times over in the course of four months or so. Playing a campaign where time actually matters would be a very interesting change, and I can see myself having a lot of fun with the system.

I just know I'm not ever going to run the game.

More thoughts may be incoming as I finish up the last third of the book, but I expect I've hit most of the meat already.

Edit: Oh, one thing I forgot to mention: favored common skills have a lower cost to improve than regular common skills. I guess that makes sense, but the first thing I thought when I saw that was "Well, guess I should pump all my nonfavored skills in character creation so leveling what I want is faster." I haven't reviewed character creation to remind myself how pumped favored skills are from the start, but I don't remember it being much if any? Basically only that they get a little bonus if you have to boost them on a roll.

Last edited by Lucas; 07-24-2016 at 04:07 PM.
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  #74  
Old 07-27-2016, 10:12 PM
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This is an incredible deal.
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  #75  
Old 07-27-2016, 11:17 PM
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This is an incredible deal.
I was just coming to post that!
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  #76  
Old 07-29-2016, 02:33 AM
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I was just coming to post that!
Great minds play awful games!
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  #77  
Old 07-29-2016, 09:15 AM
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Great minds play awful games!
My fav RP story revolves around V:tM, get me drunk enough and I might regale you with it sometime!
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  #78  
Old 07-29-2016, 01:57 PM
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Between this and all the Sandman I've been reading I would be hurled through time to 1991, where I would land in a dorm room wallpapered in Cure posters
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  #79  
Old 07-29-2016, 02:23 PM
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My fav RP story revolves around V:tM, get me drunk enough and I might regale you with it sometime!
But I wanna hear it now!
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  #80  
Old 07-30-2016, 02:22 PM
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Gods of the Fall is read!

It's an interesting attempt at demigod play that aims somewhere between D&D and Exalted in terms of power scale and strangeness. The setting is mostly conventional fantasy but blown up really well, with evil wizards and slavery and a literal dark age. It's nice and specific too; lots of named characters with detailed agendas and dark secrets all nicely spelled out. Everything is very gameable. It does, unfortunately, hit the same problem as Numenera, in that sufficiently determined and clever PCs can figure out everything intelligible and beat everything beatable in relatively short order, leaving the bits of the setting that are explicitly unintelligible and unbeatable.

On the other hand it has an actual literal Etrian Odyssey labyrinth tucked away in one corner with no shit five strata and different inhabitants and a dangerous secret final boss at the bottom and everything.

System-wise... Its simpler than Exalted, but I'm not sure how well it delivers on its power level promises. Characters don't seem to get too much beyond normal Cypher System PCs, apart from a handful of resources they can allocate to make specific tasks easier.

Especially annoying to me is that the art is full of characters using flashy glowy bits of their "godly nimbus" as weapons and shields. I spent a while paging through the character chapter looking for the ability for that, since it looked pretty damn stylistically core. Turns out it's the effect of a Cypher - a one-use random treasure. That struck me as a very strange decision.
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  #81  
Old 07-31-2016, 06:05 PM
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I can see using the nimbus as part of other attacks - an Adept uses Onslaught and it represents a bit of the nimbus striking someone, someone who Needs No Weapon has their nimbus strike in sync with their fists, that kind of thing. Or all the people in the pictures are sixth-tier PCs who have used Usurp Cypher on that one.

I've finished The One Ring. It's a very interesting system, wedded tightly to a setting I just don't really give a darn about. Still, I really appreciate a lot of what it does in capturing the feel of the Lord of the Rings; mechanics-izing and enforcing downtime roleplay, the Valor/Rewards letting you develop both your character and their equipment into epic heroes and their named weapons (a pet peeve in a lot of campaigns I've played is feeling like equipment is disposable, something you're going to just toss as soon as you find that +1 sword of flames that the DM has thrown into a monster hoard), and having actual rules for retiring adventurers and bringing in replacements are all pretty danged cool.

I am kind of surprised that there's no suggestion on how to clear corruption from an area. That seems like something I'd love to do if I was playing the game? I'm guessing at least part of that is from the need to not disturb the canon timeline, since giving the player-heroes the ability to make the world too nice might get in the way of the War of the Ring. Also: shadow from picking up treasure out of monster hoards? When they straight up make spending treasure a method of character development? I can't decide if that's mean, or subtly brilliant metaphor since the main need for treasure is either to live a temporarily better life or advancing your political career.

There's probably more I wanted to mention, but I'm too lazy to actually keep notes on these things while I'm reading, so.... (To be fair, I do most of this reading in bed, and I don't want to take a massive book and a notepad to bed with me.)

Time for the next read. Dust Adventures, Polaris, Godbound, or heck, even Traveler 5 (which I think I skipped way back since it and the... I wanna say the Tenra Bansho Zero kickstarter were fulfilled at about the same time, and T5 lost out on priority (even if it is the one I got signed!)). I also need to update my records on which books I have; it's been a while and I've gotten at least a few recently!
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  #82  
Old 07-31-2016, 06:35 PM
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I think they noted somewhere that the shadow for looting a monster horde wasn't supposed to be an all the time thing. That's for, like, dragon-gold and the like.

Clearing corruption isn't covered because of theme again. It's not really something that's easy or reliable, if it's doable at all. Until the Ring is destroyed, the Shadow endures, even if the greater part of its power is lost.

Unfortunately, The One Ring is one of those games that's really enhanced by its supplements. The adventures are kind of hit or miss - one of the authors of them really enjoys no-win scenarios and "make three of this super hard test in a row or you fall and instantly die", while the lead designer's more like "yeah I don't see any reason to use a non-default difficulty more than once or twice a session."

But Laketown, Horse-lords of Rohan, Rivendell, and The Heart of the Wild are all excellent, and all do a really good job of answering "but what do you do?" I haven't read Erebor yet, but I'd be surprised if it weren't just as good. And even if they require some polish, there's some great concepts in the adventure books.
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  #83  
Old 08-03-2016, 02:33 PM
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Welp they said more was coming for the vampire Kickstarter. I wasn't expecting an official erotic novel featuring lucita and the vykos.
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  #84  
Old 08-03-2016, 02:35 PM
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Welp they said more was coming for the vampire Kickstarter. I wasn't expecting an official erotic novel featuring lucita and the vykos.
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  #85  
Old 08-03-2016, 03:30 PM
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The cover is of The Vykos giving the bedroom eyes. I'm not sure what it wants but I'm scared to open the pdf.
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  #86  
Old 08-04-2016, 02:33 PM
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Tenra Bansho Zero
I cannot read these words without being transported back to 2000, when Andy K posted a few scans and said he should get a quick translation done so other people could give TBZ a spin.
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Old 08-04-2016, 02:47 PM
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Time for the next read. Dust Adventures, Polaris, Godbound, or heck, even Traveler 5 (which I think I skipped way back since it and the... I wanna say the Tenra Bansho Zero kickstarter were fulfilled at about the same time, and T5 lost out on priority (even if it is the one I got signed!)). I also need to update my records on which books I have; it's been a while and I've gotten at least a few recently!
Godbound from what I've read of it is really good, my favorite thing so far in it is his examples of using your powers and how that translates into the fiction, instantly giving you an idea of how the game is supposed to feel. I think my next pick up is going to be Scarlet Heroes from the same guy, since I'm curious how he gets a 1 player/1 GM game to work well.

And speaking of Andy K his next translation, Shinobigami just had an alpha release a week or two ago, which I'm excited to dig into.
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  #88  
Old 08-08-2016, 09:50 AM
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Fortitude - By the Docks of the Big Lake was a great supplement for a game I'm not likely to ever play filled with practical advice for running an underrepresented genre that I'm even less likely to ever play.

On the other hand it was a joy to read, full of marvelous imagery and clever wordplay.
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  #89  
Old 08-08-2016, 06:17 PM
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I think my next pick up is going to be Scarlet Heroes from the same guy, since I'm curious how he gets a 1 player/1 GM game to work well.
As someone who really enjoys games with only one or two PCs, I enjoyed reading Scarlet Heroes pretty well. It was actually the first game by Kevin Crawford I got and now I'm up to four. The only one to fell flat for me so far was his horror game, and that's a lot more the result of the genre than his writing. I always tell myself I'll get around to trying some Scarlet Heroes solitaire, but somehow I don't.

One final thought about The One Ring, since I really like this bit and I didn't mention it anywhere else: the Riddle skill. I realize the functions of the skill can be done by more commonly used skill names: Bluff, Interaction, etc. Riddle just has such a nice flavor to it, though - perfectly suited to a great many of the characters I've played!

I've started reading Dust Adventures. There are some good points to it (I'm a sucker for dice pools and short lists of stats for PCs), but oh man are there a lot of rough patches in there. For example, rather than just having Special Powers cost more than Special Abilities, the game has you buy a Special Ability to open up a slot to buy a Special Power with even another tier past that that's basically "Oh? You filled up all your Special Ability slots? Here's a different name for it so you can buy more."

It strikes me as an attempt to maintain simplicity that ends up way more complicated in the end than it has to be, which from what I've seen happens a lot in this book. A lot of the given examples don't help explain the rules very well, either; as far as I can tell, the example for buying Superhuman ability slots directly contradicts the example for buying Special Abilities despite the former being a direct outgrowth of the latter. I've seen at least one example that covered a weird edge case of the rule it was discussing, but they never illustrated how to use the rule in general. It's kind of a mess, really.
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  #90  
Old 08-15-2016, 06:32 PM
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I stopped reading Dust Adventures. It's the first RPG I've ever had moral quandaries reading. The whole setting is an alternate history version of World War II; some, if not most, of its changes are actually pretty neat. I'm always up for more mecha in my games, and the hints it drops about Earth being possibly involved in an ongoing alien war as opposed to just having some scraps from previous alien visitors are delicious.

The way it treats the war, on the other hand.... Ok, so obviously the Nazis are going to be difficult to handle in something like this, especially considering they want to let people play the Axis. The game's solution? "Oh no, the Germans assassinated Hitler when they realized he was crazy. Now they're just the Axis and merely trying to conquer the world like everyone else, they're not evil." It never even touches on the concentration camps.

There are a lot of oblique references to Unit 731, but they're all as just as one of the Axis' more successful weird science research units. There's also a quick mention of Nanking - literally just a name drop - to explain why China is focusing on Japan to the near-exclusion of all else. That's all just brushed under the rug with a quick "but that's in the Asian theater of operations, this book's only looking at Europe and the US borders" and the Axis is treated as just as potentially heroic as the other blocs.

Full disclosure here. I'm of Ukrainian Jewish descent and I am biased against the Axis and Stalin's regime, but I feel like this game doesn't make the slightest attempt to actually make them sympathetic at all. It doesn't discuss any of the background of the situation, why a German growing up in the 1930s might have thought another war was needed, why the Russians loved Lenin and Stalin so much, any of that. It presents an infinite war and tells you go have fun.

Maybe if had been set in World War I instead I wouldn't have all this baggage with it and I could enjoy it more, but this is a wash.

I started reading Polaris last night and while I was cracking the spine one passage in the middle of the book caught my eye, a Fury Road-ian bit talking about how precious fertile women are in the setting and referring to them as breeders. *Sigh.* I'm still giving it a shot, because I love submarine settings as a rule, but not a great first impression. Especially coming off of Dust.

Europe, do we need to have a talk about your RPGs?
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