A new Thursday, and a new blog post -- only, not exactly. One of my last blogs on our old site (see this post about having to make a new site) was a review of Call to Arms and the books we'd released with a kind of shoutout to the Reviewer Extraordinaire, Endzeitgeist (see his website here; support his Patreon here) and his excellent reviews of the Call to Arms books.
In its original form, it was meant to be one, very long post. Due to the limitations of the old site, it was broken up into two parts arbitrarily. Here, I'm going to very purposefully break it into three sections -- A Review of CtAs I Wrote, A Review of CtAs Written by the Goblin Hoarde (this blog), & A Preview of CtAs Coming Out Soon.
A Review of Call to Arms Written by The Goblin Hoarde
One more thing "lost in the fire" so to speak was my original Call for Freelancers that was posted in January 2015 with the title "So You Want to Write Call to Arms" and I had an excellent response. Of the over a dozen freelancers we've since added to The Goblin Hoarde (a collective name for our pool of freelancers, that also had a now lost blog-post explaining why we purposefully misspell their name, etc.), we've gotten seven of the authors books fully published, with another dozen more on the way (see the preview post). But perhaps one of the books I'm most proud of is our April Fool's release from last year that helped sway Endzeitgeist to even consider reviewing our whole line...
Endzeitgeist's 4 out of 5 Star Review of Call to Arms: Ten-Foot Poles, our April Fool's release
|So, in case you’re not 100% sure – yes, this is an April’s Fools product. And yes, I’m reviewing it in August. Sad, but better late than never, right? So this begins with a basic, humorous introduction of poles – both in the game worlds and in real life. Let me go on a slight tangent here: If you do not know 10-foot-poles, they are perhaps the source of more anecdotes and prevented PC-death in old-school gaming than any other item. They also are the punch-line of more dirty jokes than rods of lordly might – and in case you’re new school and never got see their awesomeness in action, take a look at 2 pages of long (and surprisingly viable!) suggestions on how to use these poles and potentially prevent your character’s death – you’ll never want to leave your home without your trusty pole.|
I first introduced Garrett Guillotte long ago in another lost blog-post (find his complete list of works on RPGNow here), and he went on to write Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology, released one year ago! When you read Endzeitgeist's review, you have to remember this was the first in the revamped series, I believe, that he was coming to and he made it clear in his review he hadn't had high expectations for the book in the least...
Endzeitgeists 5 out of 5 Star Review + Seal of Approval! for Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
|When this landed on my pile to review, I was admittedly less than excited – Fat Goblin Games has a track record with me of having interesting concepts (and since John Bennett took the reins as line-developer, an actually great horror setting!), but issues with the finer rules-interactions. So analyzing a 40+ page book of rules was not exactly my definition of a good time. At this point, I wish to sincerely apologize for this obviously less than flattering preconception. Fat Goblin Games and author Garrett Guillotte have delivered a massive supplemental book that is so much better than I ever anticipated it would be. I expected a somewhat reductive and repetitive accumulation of Technological items herein – what I instead got can be considered the massive appendix for the Technology rules. In some of my previous reviews pertaining subsystems generated by Paizo, I lamented the lack of synergy and further support for systems once established, while at the same time pointing out that this is pretty much where 3pps can take control and deliver. This book makes perfect use of this thesis – not only do we get some material for mythic fans, the kingdom-building component essentially provides the backdrop for campaigns to take a whole new scope: Instead of just focusing on one age or dynasty, one can utilize these to essentially make kingdom-building, Sid Meier’s Civilization-edition. Indeed, a capable GM can just slot more tiers in between for a finer gradient between tiers and expand the concept further, allowing you to potentially tell stories of truly epic scope and breadth. If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll note that this simple fact is something I value over almost anything else – beyond the mechanics of augmentations, the new items and AI-rules, it is the rules-framework to tell a *NEW* type of story that was previously not supported by a given system that ultimately makes me grin, makes me happy, makes me cherish a product.|
Garrett went on to write the CLASSified: Technopath, which is a bit of a teaser for his next Call to Arms book, Call to Arms: Amazing Technology, which should be available sometime this summer!
After Fantastic Tech, I introduced Jeff Gomez also in lost post (find his work on RPGNow here) who went on to write Call to Arms: Powders & Dust, which was also reviewed well by Endzeitgeist...
|Author Jeff Gomez has crafted a more than solid installment of the Call to Arms-series in Fat Goblin Games’ oeuvre and while it falls short of the more refined recent installments penned by some other authors, Jeff, with editorial help from Lucus Palosaari, has ultimately crafted a fun equipment book, of which I will take quite a bunch and introduce it to my campaigns – the new material is neat indeed and, while I honestly wished this was longer, I found quite a few pieces of great material herein and actually appreciate the intention of providing the definite dust/powder-weapon-tome. At the same time, the rules-language in some cases is less precise than what I’m accustomed to, with some items not sporting the correct activation actions. While there are relatively few such issues, they are here nonetheless – and, quite frankly, would weigh heavier on the final verdict of the book, were it not for some truly brilliant gems herein that made me smile from ear to ear, inspiring stories and encounters even while I was reading this book. Particularly alchemy-heavy low-magic/rare-magic campaigns will undoubtedly consider this book a treasure-trove of pretty awesome material! Hence, in spite of its flaws, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.|
Jeff has also done some incredible work on classes for the Steampunk Musha series, which we're hoping to start showing off soon, but another standalone piece he wrote for FGG was the second in the Trusty Tavern Tome series, Sir Reginald Lichlyter's Magical Beers, Tankards, and Other Inebrious Items.
The book has yet to get the full review treatment by Endzeitgeist, but a recent Patreon update assured me its been done and just in the queue to be released in the coming weeks! Matt and I are both excited to see Endz' commentary, as this is one of the Call to Arms books that is part of a planned series of other, similar ranged weapons. But Matt has been far from idle, instead releasing a series of Sidebars expanding the Equipment Trick feat.
And then rounding out 2015, I introduced Richard Bennett in one more lost-forever blog-post (find his work on RPGnow here) who went on to write Call to Arms: Tomes of Power, a revision of one of the two first books in the Call to Arms series from before my time. Richard's book also hasn't been put up on the reviewer's chopping block by Endzietgeist, but some of his others in the Knowledge Check series, which he helped revitalize before having to leave to focus on school. We hope to get a few more books from him in future days, but for now we're enjoying reading about his planned thesis work with RPGs as a focus of rhetoric (my own Masters degree focus).
All of these books can be picked up in the Call to Arms 2015 Bundle for just $9,99 on RPGNow.com!
Right at the end of 2015-early 2016, we introduced J Gray (find his work on RPGNow here) who went on to write Call to Arms: Ropes, which happened to get released at just the right time that it did make it to the top of Endzeitgeist's review pile, and he had this to say...
Endzeitgeist's 5 out of 5 Star Review + Seal of Approval! AND TOP 10 of 2015 CONTENDER for Call to Arms: Ropes!
I’ve read quite a few of J Gray’s supplements so far and, in my opinion, none have so far reached this level of quality: On par with line-developer/editor Lucus Palosaari’s best in the series, this book is a true blessing and joy to read.
The rope variants and vastly expanded options allow the enterprising GM and group to play completely new types of adventures – whether underworld explorations down bottomless chasms or hardcore wilderness survival in hostile terrain, the pulley and pioneering rules in particular are a boon for campaigns that seek something different. Heck, the pioneering rules can arguably be used to play a whole campaign or at least low-level sequence of modules. I certainly know I’d run e.g. Kingmaker sans settlement, just with characters with these tricks and NPCs to teach them to.
This book made me want to write an adventure based on climbing down a vast chasm/scaling a mountain, of running a truly pioneer-style campaign with goals like lassoing fantastic beasts and similar objectives. Want to play a wild-west-ish campaign? Get this. Want to properly play a DIY-pioneer or rope-based circus artist? Get this. This is one of the books you don’t realize that you need it…until you read it. Particularly simulationalist groups and GMs that emphasize resources and a sense of realism will absolutely adore this book. The one gripe I can vocalize against this pdf is a didactic one – putting the pioneer/block and tackle rules in the appendices at the end rather than before e.g. an archetype mentions a bonus pertaining them is a bit counter-intuitive. Yeah, that pretty much is it.I really love this book and the options it provides, the means by which it expands ropes as items both mundane and magical. This is a great addition to one’s game and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval…and guess what? The sheer added options regarding rope-based structures and wilderness survival are very near and dear to my heart…which is why I also nominate this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015. Congratulations!
J Gray has been instrumental in completing the Shadows over Vathak Player's Guide last year that should be released this summer, and he is now focusing on helping me as part of the Steampunk Musha Design Team -- so expect to see much more from him soon to come!
These last two published books also haven’t had the Endzeitgeist treatment, but we’re looking forward to what he’ll have to say!
I introduced Jacob W. Michaels (find his work on RPGNow here) who went on to write Call to Arms: Ceremonial Masks, and who’s manuscript for Call to Arms: Societal Masks I just turned over to The Janitor today for final cleanup and layout! These two books make up a minor series (that may get greater expansion or at least a combined omnibus "someday") by Jacob trying to give an under utilized type of magic item the attention it deserves.
The last of the books written by The Goblin Hoarde that I had previously announced last April was written by Taylor Hubler (look him up on RPGNow.com), Call to Arms: Shields. This book endevours to be a definitive resource for all things shield in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and we're both looking forward to seeing what Endzeitgeist has to say about how well it does that task! Taylor has also written a number of very successful Sidebars for Fat Goblin Games, and plans to possible expand a few of them into larger and longer pieces if they show just a little more interest from fans (and when school is out for him, and he has time on his hands again!)
And that completes our review of all things Call to Arms, for now. As Endzeitgeist's reviews for these various books from The Goblin Hoarde get posted in the next few weeks, I'll try to "update" this post with his comments.
This blog-post was Part II in a series of three related blogs. See Part I here, where I review all the Call to Arms I've personally written and Endzeitgeist's reviews of them, and see Part III in the series here, where I preview what books we have coming down the line.