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Adapting Non-Roleplaying Material
by William [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/06/2024 11:35:24

Will this also be available in epub format so I can read it through the Kindle app?



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Adapting Non-Roleplaying Material
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Adapting Non-Roleplaying Material
by Jim [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2024 14:34:50

I found this disappointing. It's 51 pages of generalities and concepts. I was hoping for examples, techniques, and case studies, but the content labeled as such amounts to a paragraph or two each of generalities and concepts.

For instance, we're told that "Thematic consistency is necessary for maintaining the integrity of the narrative and player interactions." How does one do that? "Player choices and actions should reflect and contribute to the overarching themes of the game." How? There's nothing on how to ferret out themes, how to implement them in an RPG setting, or how to play them out. All we're told is that it's important, and that the writer has done it. There are no spelled-out techniques or worked examples.

Similarly, we're told that NPCs and locations are important (we knew that), but there are no particular techniques presented on ways to implement the material or play it out. "I considered how Gandalf's motivations and growth could intersect with the players' journey, ensuring that his guidance remained relevant and impactful." And how did you go about that? We don't find out.

There are no worked examples showing the concepts in action. There are no step-by-step methods for preparation or play.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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DoubleZero: Modern Roleplaying
by Michael [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/20/2024 10:59:10

There's not a lot of substance to this game - feels padded by redundant and vaguely ChatGPT-feeling text. The rules seem fine, such as they are, but there's just so much cruft.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DoubleZero: Modern Roleplaying
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Imagination's Toybox: Building Genre [4th Edition]
by Larry D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2023 10:05:04

I can't recommend this to anybody. So much padding! And so little useful material.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Imagination's Toybox: Building Genre [4th Edition]
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Building Worlds 3rd Edition Volume 1
by James H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/29/2023 21:37:21

I am a fan of your series of books, and am happy that you have saught to continual improve upon them with your 'Director's Cut' version. You have done a great job cutting the unneeded fat from your series and have improved upon them! I have cheered you outloud while reading your 'Director's Cut', as I have noticed many of the improvements I wished to have seen actually implemented (Removing fat, re-organizing, re-sizing and choosing a better font, clarifying imformation, introducing new information.)

Though I do have some critism with the current Building Worlds and Building Adventure's. For Building Worlds you failed to clarify what type of premise is being created and for what purpose initially. You state "A premise summarizes your setting in a single sentence... etc" yet, you then go to mention Goals, Characters, and Obstacles. From reading past works, I know that the type of premise being creatd is what a chracter within the particular story would be accomplishing and for you to extract details from that. If it wasn't for that, I personally would stay confused.

For Building Adventurer's book, the tone and wording of what you are suggesting to the reader makes me feel as if you would be more accurately suggesting information for a campaign rather then an singular adventure. Then, when I came upon the Campaign chapter of the book, I thought to myself "So far it really felt like everything was refering to the entire campaign."

Though I do have these criticisms and I do feel that there is still room for improvement, you have certainly improved on your series. I am happy that you are keeping to your guns presenting your books in the unique format that you have. I am happy to have something different in my collection of books and not just the same thing that other people have created.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Building Worlds 3rd Edition Volume 1
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Building Worlds 3rd Edition Volume 1
by John L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2022 14:35:12

Berin Kinsman's gaming resource books are impressive and complete. They are especially good material for those of us new to working in game writing. I will no doubt eventually buy up everything on offer. I've purchased several of the books already, and they are being added into my gaming library at just the right time in my career.

Thank you, Berin, for these thorough, well-researched and professionally presented works. They are greatly appreciated.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Campaign Journaling
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2022 00:20:30

This was a perfect introduction to "Bullet Journaling" for me. I've tried to absorb the methodology before, but the frame work of campagin journaling made it stick. Sort of like in math class when a good teacher puts a problem in a context that is relatable.

My only critique (aside from some very minor proofreading things like extra words likely left over from early drafts), is the term "Spread" isn't expanded on much. I take it to mean one of two things depending on context. Either, two facing pages OR any application of a calendar grid. Sometimes both, depending on the style you adopt. If I've missed it, blame the sleep deprivation of an overnight shift, not the author.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Journaling
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Phrases and Names
by Saif A. E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2021 04:09:34

This is interesting. Drawing a random word can inspire cool ideas. A flower name, the name of a historic figure, random anecdotes. The price may be a bit steep for the production value it has, but it can be fun if combined with the bundle.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Phrases and Names
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ZZ Medieval Humanities [BUNDLE]
by Keith S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/17/2021 03:32:30

Maybe I didn't understand well enough what I was purchasing when I grabbed this, but from the introduction I thought it would be a treatise on weapons, dungeon features, terminology, and the historical Medieval sources of many of the elements we see in TTRPGs:

"Where other people were inspired by the fiction in Appendix N, I was drawn to the strange (but real) vocabulary that he used. Weapons I’d never heard of before. Dungeon features that I had to look up to know what they were. Terms for characters of various classes and levels that were drawn from actual occupations and designations that existed in the past."

What this seems to be, however, is a compilation of texts on various topics from the public domain. A lot of the articles are lifted wholesale from historian Henry Osborn Taylor, among others. There's no context whatsoever in terms of how these historical elements factor into the classic D&D setting or tabletop games of today and many of the articles focus on Latin prose and poetry, often without translation. I'm perplexed by this release.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
ZZ Medieval Humanities [BUNDLE]
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Adventure Generator Volume 1
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2021 17:34:10

Adventure Generator Vol. 1 includes four d20 tables, but it goes beyond the madlibs-style of adventure creation or the hook approach.

The tables are: adventure type, environment, adversary, and theme.

The adventure type table (and the accompanying text) is the heart and the main value of the generator. You get ten adventure types. Volume 2 provides ten more. If you like what the adventure types offer (which I'll describe below), you'll probably like the Adventure Generator (either or both volumes). If it doesn't sound like your style at all, this isn't the product for you.

The product description says the Adventure Generator is for a fantasy setting, but the adventure types themselves aren't specific to fantasy. You could use these same adventure types in a variety of genres with little or no tweaking.

Each adventure type gets about 2000-3000 words of text. First, it gives you an adventure summary. The "Block by Block" adventure has this summary, for instance: "The player characters head into a dangerous situation to rescue someone from the adversary and return them to safety." It goes on to offers tips for basing an adventure on that summary: Adapting for the System, Adapting for the Campaign, Adapting for the Environment, and Adapting for the Adversary (one or a few paragraphs each).

Next, each adventure type lays out a five-encounter model, which is reminiscent of (but not identical to) the Five Room Dungeon model by Johnn Four. Whereas a Five Room Dungeon leans toward adventures that are relatively quick and lean, Adventure Generator gives a deeper treatment. It describes the storytelling function of each encounter as it relates to the particular adventure type. For example, Encounter 1 gives tips on establishing the situation, demonstrating the stakes, and creating character connections. In other words, you're getting "here's how encounter N fits into the adventure" instead of "here's who you encounter" or "here's what the PCs must do."

You get tips on where and how you might expand the number of encounters or tweak the model, such as: "If you wish to expand the adventure beyond 5 encounters, this can be broken into a separate challenge."

Some people automatically declare "railroading" the moment they see anything resembling a structure, but the Adventure Generator isn't railroading. The encounter descriptions don't dictate to the players how they should achieve the aventure goal. The descriptions don't limit player choices. They also don't limit the GM's options. Knowing that Encounter 4 is a good time for "adversary retaliation" helps you (as the GM) adapt to the situation. Maybe you have some ideas in advance. Maybe you improvise on the spot, based on what's happened so far and any previous ideas you had. "Adversary retaliation" is inspiration and guidance, not a script that must be followed.

The environment types and adversary types are all things you've seen before, if you're familiar with the usual fantasy RPG settings. You get a brief paragraph on each environment that probably won't tell you anything new. For the adversaries, you get one of the usual fantasy adversary types (humanoids, undead, etc.), with a brief paragraph on what they are and a list of example creatures of that type. You might find them helpful, but most likely, you already have your own ways to choose adventure settings and adversaries, and they're already adapted for your setting. If you have those resources, you might not be interested these two tables. If you don't have such resources, environment and adversary tables here give you broad types, not specifics, so you'd still need to come up with the details you need.

If you have your own environment and adversary resources, you're also not confined to the fantasy genre. You can use the adventure types and the themes in other genres, using your own methods for devising the environment and adversaries.

The theme table, marked optional, gives you "something akin to literary theme" for focusing the adventure conflicts in a particular direction. You get ten themes, such as "Crime Doesn't Pay" or "Humanity vs. Society." Each one gives you a couple of paragraphs discussing the sorts of conflicts you'd see with that theme. The theme is basically a lens as you develop the adventure. If you decide that your theme is "crime doesn't pay," then you develop the adventure with a focus on wrongdoers trying to get away with wrongdoing or eventually getting what they deserve.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Generator Volume 1
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DoubleZero Classic
by Brett E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2021 01:49:10

There is a defect in the core resolution mechanic of this game whereby on a difficult task only failures and excellent outcomes are possible. As the difficulty diminishes moderate and poor successes become possible, but the probability of excellent results is not affected. That's just not the way I think things work or want them to work in an RPG. So I am never going to be playing DoubleZero.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
DoubleZero Classic
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Creator Reply:
I'm sorry the game mechanics don't align with the way you think things should work, or want them to work. It's not a defect, though. It's an intentional design choice, one in line with the 1980s-era espionage game that inspired it. Have fun playing a system that's a better fit for your style of play!
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Building Characters [1st Edition]
by John H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2021 23:24:52

My rating might seem critical of this product, and it has to do with the editing. The book has a rough draft feel with lots of low-hanging fruit for correction. I purchased my copy through Bundle of Holding's revived Toolkit 4 bundle at the $9.95 tier, which means that I picked up my copy at $1.65, if I divide the tier price among the items that I received at that tier. This is a much better deal than what it is selling for here on DTRPG: $7, which is more than the second edition of the same book ($4.99).

I ended up buying the second edition anyway because I do find the information useful from the first book, and what made me buy the second edition is how bad the editing is on the first. I was hoping that it might have improved for the second edition, and it has, so that product will get a better rating from me by one more star. DTRPG, however, will not allow me to give another low star review for the same publisher for 24 hours. The editing on the second book has not improved much (it still has mistakes that suggest that it was not proofread or not enough).

So let us get into why the editing is a problem. If one is going to use this book as a regular go-to reference, those typos are going to pop up every time one looks at the book. Here are some examples:

"What the leader dislikes are the disorganized, [...] things in like" (p. 10; see Full Size Preview, p. 14; "like" should be "life"). "The lover doesn't care what people, and won't allow gossip alter their pursuit of happiness" (p. 11; see Full Size Preview, p. 15; missing words are "want" after "people" and "to" before "alter").

Here is an erroneous ranking for "Below Baseline Religion": "The character is more devout than the typical character within the story. They have deeper faith and engagement with dogma" (p. 43; see Full Size Preview, p. 47).

Every time that one looks at these entries, one is going to falter at these typos. When one wants to understand the material fully, so one can focus on building a character, this is an unnecessary hindrance that breaks focus and train of thought. When one considers that the publisher has not made any effort to update this material for those who have purchased it at a $7 price tag, it seems lazy.

Did their editing improve for the second edition? Some: two of the typos mentioned above are fixed. Still others are introduced or obsolete text remains from the first edition:

"Looking back over the questions you answered for your character in the stages of lie section," (p. 67 in the second edition; "lie" was correctly "life" in the First Edition, p. 52 or p. 56 in the Full Size Preview, and there were actually questions that one answers, which are not present in the second edition).

What this book did allow me to do was to generate a new page of data for my protagonist Character Eight in the game The Iron Realm Dark Fantasy RPG. The data consisted of rankings in categories like Aptitudes as follows: Below Baseline, Baseline, Above Baseline. While more needs to be done to translate this data into interesting character story, it at least establishes a starting point for different "character elements" (or what I'll term aspects of a character).

The full title of my version of this book is Building Characters for Writers and Roleplayers. While there is some useful material for writers, a book like The Art of Character by David Corbett (not available on DTRPG since it is not related to roleplaying) is a more professional and challenging book (and one would be hard-pressed to find typos in the latter book's pages). The material for writers is of value in the first edition of Building Characters, and it is missed in the second edition. How is one, for example, going to answer those aforementioned "questions you answered for your character in the stages of life" section if you only have the second edition? And there were a lot of defining questions for each stage of life: twenty for childhood, twenty for adolescence, sixteen for separation from parents, and so on.

Some statements made by the first edition may be difficult to reconcile, like how aptitude ratings "are a zero-sum game: for every +1 in an aptitude, the character must have a -1 in something else" (p. 58; see Full Size Preview, p. 62). For a book that wants to "develop a more literary character" (p. 89; see Full Size Preview, p. 93) this seems counterintuitive. The book lists ten aptitudes, only eight of which I felt applied to my Character Eight in The Iron Realm Dark Fantasy RPG setting, who is a Cleric. Four of these aptitudes for this class I ranked as "Above Baseline": Empathy, Morality, Reflection; Spiritual. While there could be unlisted aptitudes that I could try to come up with that are "Below Baseline," the other four that I kept from the book's list of ten total and ranked as "Baseline" were Body, Language, Reason, and Visualization. I really did not see why the Cleric would have to struggle with Language, as example of why I left it as Baseline. This zero-sum consideration is dropped in the second edition.

Some parts of the first edition are approached differently than in the second edition. The section on Wonders has the reader consider Duration of a wondrous effect, for example, while in the second edition, this section advises more than questions. I am not sure which approach is better: I like both.

As with the questions about the stages of life, another section missed in the second edition is about considerations in creating a character sheet using the elements mentioned in the book, along with creating a character journal and why one of those is useful. Overall, I felt that both of these sections are of value so that one might want both editions of the book for reference, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Will there be a third edition? If so, let us hope that the editing improves! Since the first edition was never updated to fix the typos, I do not have faith that we will see an update for future editions either.

While I did find this book to be of use, I am not inspired by Dancing Lights Press in their quality of editing their books after seeing this one, so I dread what I am going to find in their other books that I already own, and I will have to think twice about picking up more (unless it is like the case of this one, where I am actively seeking the publisher's improvement as well as my own after reading an earlier edition).



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Building Characters [1st Edition]
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Building Characters 3rd Edition
by John H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2021 23:22:33

This version is an improvement over the first edition, and it still has a way to go to be the indispensable resource that I would expect from a publisher. While the formatting is better in this version, such as including bullets in place of the first edition's block paragraph of text for how different Character Roles interact with each other, there is still some sloppiness to the production. An example is this: "Looking back over the questions you answered for your character in the stages of lie section," (p. 67).

Now you might think my issue is with the incorrect word "lie," which should be "life." I got over venting about that after reading the first edition (you can read my review of that edition to see how much I talk about this). I suspect that the second book may have been edited better, and since a lot of the content is the same, I skimmed the second version. I also wanted to be a little forgiving after all since a second edition meant that effort was made to improve the product.

What didn't escape my notice in my careful skim is mention of the questions from the "Stages of Life" section. These questions are not in the second edition, and the publisher overlooked updating the context here, which still suggests a lack of better editing. Now I am guessing that the questions were removed because the publisher opted to go with leaning toward how building characters relates to roleplaying and games rather than how they relate to literary writing. If you really want that, you can pick up the first edition (even though it costs two dollars more than the second edition, and I suggest that The Art of Character by David Corbett is a far superior book for that sort of thing).

There is some other material from the first edition that I felt was useful that has been cut too, such as descriptions of different rankings for Elements. Still, a reviewer of the first edition, Esteban M. V., felt that taking the time to describe these in detail was superfluous, such as a Low ranking Education meaning that the character has little or no education. Since that was a big chunk of the first book, one could hope that something more useful has replaced it.

The improvement is that advice occasionally appears in place of what was in the first book. As an example, when talking about Activation of Wonders, the publisher suggests adding "a nice character bit" and suggests a few. Other material still got the chopping block that probably should have been retained, such as considering how long Activation takes. This may be because the publisher decided to define this book as a "minimalist [...] guide." Still, elements might have been retained that did not necessarily detract from the book like that I mentioned.

Some of the new material is no better than that from the first book. I looked forward to (and read with interest rather than skimmed) the new introductory material on how building characters relates to worldbuilding, adventures, and rules. A lazy approach, reminiscent of the first book, was taken with each section, each ending with a sentence in this format: "When creating character background elements, keep [x] in mind," such as "keep existing worldbuilding in mind." Sure, this is useful for someone new to this sort of material or someone who is not reading the book from cover to cover, but it is recommended in the introduction that we "read through the entire book at least once" (p. 1). So as repetitive elements like the aforementioned come up, you know it's going to be a slog. It reminds me a bit of reading the Pathfinder Core Rulebook Second Edition rules in depth: be sure you guzzle some caffeine as you sit down to read this book.

This formatting flavor is kept throughout the introductory section: "If your style leans more toward the wargaming perspective, consider [x]," e.g. x= "consider what abilities are common and uncommon in the setting" [Worldbuilding]; x= "the player should consider what abilities will be useful in the type of campaign or adventure being proposed" [Adventures]. Now the content in these examples is not bad: one can see why one would compare rarity of abilities in worldbuilding and usefulness in adventures. It is just the attempt to do as much as possible with formatting, and this style is maintained throughout the book. Concise and clear? Yes. An interesting read as one continues into adjacent segments? No.

I am surprised that wargamers are even taken into consideration, and that they would want more depth of the nontactical variety. Still, kudos to the publisher to be inclusive. And this inclusivity should not pervade beyond the stat block format to the content of the stat block, as is done with the Story Points in the stat block: "Unanswered questions could include whether the character was like this in all stages of life, if they changed into their current state, and how this impacts components of [x]": x being "sociology and psychology" when talking about "physiology," and the publisher just mentions the other two when talking about another Dimension, i.e. "physiology and psychology" when talking about "sociology." Not only does this make for a dry textbook experience throughout the book, but considering this is a minimalist approach to the topic of Building Characters, one can wonder just how much actual content is left after shrinking down the remaining content from the cookie cutter statements used throughout in this manner.

So the book's formatting is better, and I still expect and want more from this book. In my first edition review, I mentioned how I generated a new page of ranking data for my Character Eight in the the game The Iron Realm Dark Fantasy RPG for all sorts of elements. The advice that was included in the second book did not bring me any closer to having fleshed out my character over the first book with the new advice given. I still just had my rankings from the first book, which would even have been harder to produce with just the second volume, when it does not even incorporate the section about character sheet considerations when using elements from the book. This is why my rating has only increased to two stars because, overall, the book has not improved enough.

If a third edition were made (and since the book is useful, I certainly hope that the publisher is inspired in ways that the second edition could be improved), a thing that I would like to see would be diagrams showing how characters relate (maybe using smooth arrows for Protagonists and jaggy ones for Antagonists with each pointing in the direction of interacton). For mentioned characters, I would at least like a reference of what they are from, such as when Olivia Foxworth is mentioned as an Aggressor, it might read "Olivia Foxworth (Flowers in the Attic)." I would like to see more broad notion ideas like as is mentioned for not bothering to list an itemized inventory because one can go off the equipment modifier (p. 83) although some writers might suggest that what one carries around with them can define something about the nature of a character too as I learned in a writing workshop. I'm not even sure why the book aims to be minimalist when what I would seek is something comprehensive without being granular. In the meantime, I guess that I can draw my own diagrams and add my own notes, just like how I could take PDFs of both editions, edit them in a PDF writer into one edition, and come back with a stronger version that incorporates the useful elements of both without the typos and oversights.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Building Characters 3rd Edition
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Story Design: Chase Stories
by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2020 23:25:57

All of the Story Design guides help me find the key story beats for my adventure, broken down into act I, act II, and act III. I find preparing with some points in mind doesn't limit player agency and heightens the tension and reward.

I bought all these in a bundle and they're quick and handy references. The price is right either way.

Chase could have been a little more concise (14 pages could have been 7), but the reminders are useful for setting up a subplot and resources that change the direction in the second act.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Story Design: Chase Stories
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Building Adventures 3rd Edition
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2020 15:09:36

I like the concepts in the book. However, it really needs another editing/proofreading pass. Lots of errors.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Building Adventures 3rd Edition
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