Free RPG Day The Quick Review

My friends Tiwaz, and Adam journeyed to Hometown Games at 711 W 23rd in Lawrence Kansas to gather the swag available to us. I am somewhat disappointed that there weren’t more stores in Kansas City participating in it this year. I understand that it can be expensive but there’s more to it than that. Anyhow, that now said, let’s move on to the fun part. Today, I gathered up five of the available free modules. D&D Bloodsand Arena, Warhammer 40k RPG Deathwatch, AEG’s L5R 4th Edition Legacy of Disaster, Exalted’s Under the Rose, and Pathfinder’s Master of the Fallen Fortress.

Dark Sun
This year, Wizards of the Coast put out a Dark Sun preview, Bloodsand Arena, and it’s quite a production. Inside the shrink-wrapped package there is the adventure booklet, a large poster which doubles as a map for the minis, and six premade characters. The premade characters are on a light and glossy cardstock with blank boxes to keep track of action points, healing surges, and the other cruft of fourth edition. Tiwaz, on our way back, went through the characters were making notes on some of their interesting points. The Thri-Kreen, one of the base races for Athas, has six limbs. Four that acts as arms and two legs. The arms are split between two “strong” limbs and two smaller limbs that are used for finer manipulations. With these smaller limbs, the character is able to draw or store an items as a free action once per turn. It makes for a pretty good balance against mutli-attacks while still giving the players some interesting options.

The adventure booklet is 24 pages long and makes no assumptions about what you may or may not know about the Dark Sun setting. I am looking forward to playing through this at some point. Dark Sun was one of the more imaginative settings. Little metal, magic that requires a sacrifice of life to make work, and the Dragon Kings, my favorites. The Dragon King were the unholy triumvirate of arcane, divine, and psionic powers. While 4th Edition rules are far different from Second Edition that it was originally done in, I have high hopes that they designers are able to keep the same feel and themes going.

WH40K
Fantasy Flight has been delivering yearly updates for the Warhammer 40K RPG line since they took up the mantle back after Games Workshop abandoned everything RPG back in 2008. This year’s update is called Deathwatch. In it you take on the role that I think many have been clamoring for since the release of Dark Heresy, the Space Marines. Printed on semi-gloss stock with color splashed here and there the booklet is 40 pages long. It has a basic breakdown of the system (which appears at a quick glance to be keeping with the DH d10 base) with pregenerated characters and a good deal of background information in the first half of the book. The adventure prep begins on page 22 and you finally get to it on page 30. It doesn’t appear to the world’s longest adventure but probably going to give the experienced DH player enough of a taste to know if they’ll be adding this to their collection.

Not sure if I’ll be getting around to playing this or not. I never did much other than read my copy of Dark Heresy thanks to GW saying they were dropping it. And then the conflict I feel over Fantasy Flight for what they did to Warhammer Fantasy this past year.

Legend of the Five Rings
This is a preview adventure for the recently released 4th Edition that goes by the title Legacy of Disaster. It has a light cardstock color cover with 32 full color pages inside. It is interesting in that I didn’t see an announcement from AEG until yesterday so one has to wonder if it was planned that way or if they were trying for a surprise.

The booklet goes straight into the rules, no messing around with explaining the setting. I’m guessing this is being aimed at players of the previous edition rather than trying for new ones. This view is reinforced with the number of rule revelations that people have been waiting for such as what the new stances do (page 6) and spells (page 27). The adventure goes from page 8 to the pre-generated characters on page 16 making it even shorter than the 40K adventure. Most interesting are the characters themselves. One of the disappointments from this preview adventure is the formatting of the characters and the lack of character sheets. The characters are found as mere columns of text with some bullet points of interesting abilities or advantages making this feel like this was indeed slapped together at the last minute.

I’m going to be going over this module with a fine eye for the next week getting what information I can from it before the actual L5R book arrives later next week but first impressions are not good. They could have spent more effort to turn this into something just as good as the Deathwatch or Dark Sun efforts.

Exalted
White Wolf released a mod for Exalted this year called Under the Rose. Glossy, full color exterior with 32 page interior done in simple black and white.

The story for this mod picks up at the end of their recent storyline of civil war and the return of the Scarlet Empress and sets up their next one according to the description on the first page. In flipping through it, I find it hard to tell where the introduction and explanation of the system is and where their story goes. But it is the usual quick and flowing writing that is a hallmark of the Exalted line. Designed to work for players who only have access to the core book, the references to other books are followed with a quick way to get the same or similar result if you only have the core book. Pregen characters start on page 25 and have a good amount of text for each one. It should be easy to play should I ever get around to it.

Pathfinder
Master of the Fallen Fortress pulls double duty in being a module for the Pathfinder system and for the Pathfinder Chronicles. The six pre-generated characters also constitute a preview for the new classes from the upcoming Advanced Player’s Guide.

Coming in at a very thin 16 pages (18 if you count the back of the last page and the optional Pathfinder society record on the inside of the back cover), the adventure beings on page 2 and concludes on page 9. Overall a nice production with glossy full color pages and a light cardstock cover. The artwork features prominently and is the usual high quality, action filled works we’ve come to expect from Paizo’s work.

Not sure when I’ll get a chance to play through, but having the new character classes to look through is a nice touch and something I’ll take a closer look at later on.

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