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Sanctum

Sanctum is a supplement or perhaps alternative campaign setting that focuses on settlements (or Havens in the cant) in the City Beneath. The idea is that the Haven and it's community form the fulcrum of the campaign play with the longer term fate of the Haven being the key dramatic resolution. The setup echoes Belly of the Beast quite a lot, in particular in how the gameplay loop works for Havens, this felt identical to Belly of the Beast's "Delves" to me. There's also a presence of Blades in the Dark in terms of investing in a community for both storytelling and mechanical benefits. The Beats system all borrows positively from the work of people like Vincent Baker . In sure this slim volume assembles a variety of good mechanics to create a campaign frame centred around a community in a bizarre environment with a twist. It builds on the existing Heart rules for Haunts, Domains and Stress to make the integration pretty seamless and logical. Hav

Dungeon Soul

Dungeon Soul is a beautifully clear-sighted set of rules for conventional fantasy dungeon crawling and is also a satisfying complete package unlike many mini-rule systems. The core mechanic is a dice step hierarchy that will be familiar to those who know Black Hack. What is important though is that the mechanic is invoked not to see if an action is successful but instead to see if a narrative risk is avoided. Advantage and Disadvantage rules apply according to whether the Referee thinks a task is hard or easier. The basic die is d6 but this is stepped up by attributes and skills, attributes can also apply a penalty as can injuries. The dice roll is then compared to a fixed table of results. Six or more is success with higher rolls being "better" (which is a little ambiguous). A 1 or 2 is a Disaster with the risk being realised and the character potentially being injured or killed. Any other result is a Setback, a kind of partial success (although it doesn&#

Bastards

Bastards is a booklet game (A6 in the physical version) with the author's take on what they call "Dragon Games". It is based on d20 rolls under 3d6 stats (Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom) and over an opponent's Hit Dice rating or Armour Class in combat. Advantage and Disadvantage, is used; examples include weapons conveying Advantage and Disadvantage on Reaction rolls due to reputation. The game uses relatively low hit points (your character might be able to take two hits it seems in combat) but also a pretty generous temporary refresh and all health is restored by a rest period. It feels relatively deadly in the reading but probably a bit more satisfying than games based on "Into the Odd". The interesting ideas Classes Your starting hit points determine your class. Roll 1 HP and you're a wizard, roll 6 HP and your a barbarian. Each class has some special abilities but the thief and assassin could do with a few more options to help differe

Sledgehammer

  Sledgehammer is a one-page PocketMod style zine that is inspired (a lot) by Warhammer. It does a surprisingly good job of distilling down the source material, even including rules for momentum in its combat rules. Mechanically you're rolling under a statistic on d100 with positive bonuses for your career, equipment and circumstances. You have four statistics (Weapon Skill, Initiative, Toughness and Fellowship) that you roll on 6d6. Careers give you a bonus 5 to one stat of your choice and three things that you know about as a result of your career (later referred to as Expertises). Checks are Risks and generally you are trying to roll under the relevant statistic. Expertises and relevant equipment both give a bonus of 10 to the number you are trying to roll under. In combat skill rolls are the same (which might lead to genuine Warhammer 1 wiffy-ness) but elegantly the tens digit of a successful attack is your damage in Wounds of which an adventurer has six.

Planet 28: Death of the Periphery

This supplement adds a solo option to Planet 28 , a sci-fi skirmish wargame.  Solo rules The new rules actually consist of solo and collaborative rules which is a nice change from the usual skirmish game competition. The heart of the solo rules are a one page set of instructions on how the enemy characters will act in battle. This takes the form of a prioritised list of actions and looks straightforward to implement. These kind of programmed flowcharts are increasingly common in boardgames so if you've played any of those then these will feel familiar. Collaborative games get a nice "side quest" type feature. You roll randomly for a secret in-game objective and if you succeed in it you alone get rewards for your warband. It's a fun way to keep play aligned without it becoming multiple players negotiating how to play a faction. Solo campaign The second half of the booklet is taken up with a multi-stage scenario, Escape from Lychester VII about rescuing a governor from

Smithy of Sacrilege

Smithy of Sacrilege is inspired by Tunnel Goons but gives the original a British OSR spin in the form of Fighting Fantasy . The game originally appeared under the name Tunnel Puffins which presumably referenced the original children's publisher of the Fighting Fantasy series. The key attributes are the familiar Skill, Stamina and Luck which all start at zero. The game's single mechanic is a 2d6 roll against a standard difficulty of 8 (very WSCA ). The difference between the target and success drives damage in "dangerous situations" such as combat. Advancement is based on treasure acquisition and gives a bundle of increases across your character stats. The game's essence is simple and is a riff on familiar systems. It all seems unsurprising and a good take on the Fighting Fantasy system. It uses a Health stat instead of Stamina, presumably to avoid a downward spiral on related checks. Inventory is based on a fixed Equipment score with one significant item being

Enter the Dagon (DCC #95)

This adaption of a convention tournament scenario is an interesting mix of ideas. At it's core it's a puzzle adventure where a wizard and their retinue are invited to participate in a series of magical duels for the prize of the "Master of Dagon". No surprises that even though it's a struggle to win the duels and overcome the skulduggery of the other duellists successful groups will ultimately have to face the organisers of the tournament if they wish to survive. The structure of the adventure is somewhere between a sandbox and a railroad. The tournament structure means that action mostly follows a timetable. However the party are for the most part free to explore the island and try to interact with the other duellists and their allies. The attempt to expand beyond the convention tournament to offer more information and opportunity is thing that doesn't really work. Really you have a closed battle of wits on a remote island with a dark comedy