Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Simlasa

Best and worst of the Monographs?

Recommended Posts

Playing off a thread regarding BRP over on the RPGsite...

The monographs have a reputation for being 'hit or miss', but it's hard to find formal reviews of a lot of them.

So far I've enjoyed all the ones I've gotten... Ashes to Ashes, Aces High, Berlin '61, the Witchcraft book... various CoC stuff... but I've been warned away from a couple (Rise of the Dead for CoC) as well.

So what, among those you've purchased, are your favorites?

Which ones left you disappointed?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually wait a little while and watch the reactions here on this forum before I

decide to buy a monograph, and until now this has served me well, I did not buy

a single one which I would consider useless or bad.

My favourite ones ... this list would include (in alphabetical order):

The Green (BRP), Kingdom of the Blind (CoC), Modern Equipment Catalog (BRP),

Mysteries of Tibet (CoC), Outpost 19 (BRP), Secrets of Morocco (CoC) and

Witchcraft (BRP).

I very much liked the Cthulhu Rising material by John Ossoway, which was at the

core of one of my previous campaigns.

And I also very much like all of the historical supplements from Alephtar Games,

although supplements like BRP Rome are in my view no monographs.

The one monograph I bought, but never found a good use for, is First Book of

Things (CoC). It is certainly not bad, it just does not fit into my games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought this was a fully-fledged product, not a monograph.

You are right, the PDF somehow slipped into the wrong place on my backup CD. =|

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I've personally enjoyed many of the following monographs and consider them well worth considering, so I'll offer up these "micro reviews:"

Modern Equipment Catalog--this book is very handy for a modern day setting that might require a bit of gear. I can also use it with R&R below for relics and junk PCs find while combing the ruins.

Rubble & Ruin--hands down my favorite monograph to date, a very concise and useful treatment on post-apocalypse adventuring with a feel that is very much Mad Max and Fallout.

Witchcraft--a good look at the subject and rather well done (and researched). Useful for a variety of genres. The only bad thing I can say about this one is the formatting (single column across the page) is kind of annoying to read. I'm looking forward to his next Necromancy book.

The following books may be less useful, but I wouldn't say they're bad by any stretch...they just either have such a specific focus or some peculiarity that their use to you depends greatly on whether or not the book offers something specifically that you might want to use:

Lords of Tarsa--this is a nice low-magic setting book for BRP that although I have no plans to use (I prefer to design my own fantasy settings) it looks pretty structured and useful to a prospective GM who would like a read-to-go setting for his games.

The Basic Books (Gamemaster, Creatures, Magic)--these three books are reprints of the older BRP monographs that predate the new rulebook, and are basically just generic versions of the older Runequest 3 material. I like them, because they add more options that are easy enough to use for fantasy games with BRP, but they might not appeal to everyone.

Classic Fantasy--I personally wasn't that happy with this one, as I am of the opinion that if I want to play D&D I will, basically, go play D&D...so this book served little purpose as I see it, since I prefer to use core BRP without a D&D-themed taint, but the book itself is thick with details on how to do the classic classes, races and magic of D&D with BRP as the core mechanic if that's your thing (in contrast I welcome the second book in the series, whenever threedeesix (sp?) brings it out, as it looks like it will contain meaty content for any fantasy game I might want to run).

River Kingdoms--this scenario book struck me as a mixed bag, but there are a few gems in here; other players in my group liked it less, though.

Aces High--So far this is the only book that has really disappointed me, although my feelings are really mixed. One the one hand it's got lots of useful stuff for a western game, and some interesting ideas and beasties for making it more of a supernatural western. On the other hand it makes some odd gaffs--such as the date the Civil War ends, and using redskins constantly rather than some other....any other!...appelation for native Americans/Amerinds/plain old indians; it also doesn't really try hard to base the magic and myth of the Native Americans on any single authentic source, unfortunately, although it does seem to get the "feel" in an EC Comics kind of way down. I was also floored at the confusion between wicca (a modern phenomenon) and witchcraft in another section. In the end, this was a book I really wanted, but as it stands with errors like this I just can't use it. I game with some very knowledgable players, and showing them Aces High would just be embarassing. Plus, based on the errors I know about, I would be concerned there are other factual errors that I don't recognize that are waiting to be discovered, too. So this is the only one that really gets a hard thumbs down from me.

Malum Umbra--I liked the scenarios inside, and plan on using them soon in a C.I. campaign.

Veni Vidi Vici--I loved the scenarios in this PDF, and plan on integrating them in the aforementioned C.I. campaign to serve as the non-supernatural "foils" to the spookier stuff (keep the players on their toes!)

Fractured Hopes--This is actually a really cool concept book, but it is missing a lot of what I feel would be necessary to kickstart a campaign in the setting. What Fractured Hopes does is present a great write-up full of interesting ideas, but offers only a skeletal structure on new rules, tech, foes and features to make it happen. Still, I have a couple players really interest the setting, and I may see if it is feasible to use the book as-is to run a short campaign.

I have other monographs for CoC especially, but haven't looked at them in some time. A few were fairly disappointing as I recall, but I'd need to dig them out and look through them again before making any comments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

River Kingdoms--this scenario book struck me as a mixed bag, but there are a few gems in here; other players in my group liked it less, though.

Don't you mean The River Terror? River Kingdoms is for Paizo's Pathfinder isn't it?:?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... it makes some odd gaffs--such as the date the Civil War ends...

A typo, my apologies...

... using redskins constantly...

Yup I've been reamed for that a few times as well. My single biggest regret and mistake.

... doesn't really try hard to base the magic ... on any single authentic source...

Well there are hundreds of tribes and thousands of gods, spirits and other monsters. I just wanted to get the flavour across. Sorry but that one is on purpose for this book.

...I was also floored at the confusion between wicca (a modern phenomenon) and witchcraft...

Actually you're only the second person to mention that. In Aces High they are there as an option, use them or ignore them. I notice you didn't mention the Satanists or the description of Mormons or Priests or religion in general, all of which I take massive liberties with. I don't really know much about old witchcraft in America and didn't really consider it 'core' enough to spend months researching. If you're after witches read Byrons book, its much more detailed than my single page. All I was trying to do was make the possibility available.

All things considered, I think you've spotted the things I would have done differently if I'd known what the hell I was doing :) It was written with more enthusiasm than considered thought and I am working on a second mono to support it, which should also address exactly some of the criticisms you have brought up here.

Thanks for the frank words. I do honestly appreciate them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A typo, my apologies...
With any of the monographs I assume they will be a bit rough, given their DIY nature. I value enthusiasm and energy over full color illustrations and perfect spelling/dates. Aces High worked for me because I wanted a weird Western setting and Deadlands is just too damn goofy (IMO)... but I've got no illusions that it's a historically accurate setting.

Yup I've been reamed for that a few times as well. My single biggest regret and mistake.
IIRC I was on the fence about the 'redskins' thing when it was discussed here... I figured it was better to keep in some of the nasty historical facts vs. handwaving them away like 'Deadlands' does (which I find more offensive)... but I guess it seems an odd contrast when timely slurs for other groups weren't included as well.

In Aces High they are there as an option, use them or ignore them. ... I don't really know much about old witchcraft in America and didn't really consider it 'core' enough to spend months researching.
I'm not sure anyone knows much about 19th century witchcraft. I just ignored the Wicca stuff (and the Satanists)... similar to how I ignored the superhero sections of Berlin '61.

The book has a few issues but I think they're small compared to all the good stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure anyone knows much about 19th century witchcraft. I just ignored the Wicca stuff (and the Satanists)...

Well, Gardner claimed when he revealed Wicca to the world that he was doing precisely that - revealing something that had an unbroken line to the middle ages and beyond, passed down from teacher to pupil for millenia. This is highly unlikely to be true, it is more likely that he developed Wicca from the work of Crowley, the theories of Margaret Murray and J.G. Frazer and possibly other, less complete sources. However, I wouldn't see a problem in a work of fiction assuming that Gardner was 100% truthful and that there are Wiccan groups dotted about in the 19th century.

Undoubtedly there were things going on in the 19th century one might consider witchcraft. The nascent field of anthropology led to people going to distant tribes and studying their witchdoctors and shamans, groups of occultists were meeting (particularly in the latter half of the century) to try and revive old magical traditions. Folklorists were enjoying a renaissance and were capturing dying folk traditions some of which we might very well consider witchcraft.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't you mean The River Terror? River Kingdoms is for Paizo's Pathfinder isn't it?:?

Woops! yeah that's what I meant. There are several scenarios in it that I really, really liked though...I no longer have access to the book or I'd point out specific ones (need to find out if my cohort is ever going to return the loan...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A typo, my apologies...

Yup I've been reamed for that a few times as well. My single biggest regret and mistake.

Well there are hundreds of tribes and thousands of gods, spirits and other monsters. I just wanted to get the flavour across. Sorry but that one is on purpose for this book.

Actually you're only the second person to mention that. In Aces High they are there as an option, use them or ignore them. I notice you didn't mention the Satanists or the description of Mormons or Priests or religion in general, all of which I take massive liberties with. I don't really know much about old witchcraft in America and didn't really consider it 'core' enough to spend months researching. If you're after witches read Byrons book, its much more detailed than my single page. All I was trying to do was make the possibility available.

All things considered, I think you've spotted the things I would have done differently if I'd known what the hell I was doing :) It was written with more enthusiasm than considered thought and I am working on a second mono to support it, which should also address exactly some of the criticisms you have brought up here.

Thanks for the frank words. I do honestly appreciate them.

Sorry for sounding so harsh...I actually quite enjoy Aces High otherwise! I just have a real tough crowd for players. If you ever manage to do a revision, I'd be very pleased. I think I (and my crew of players) are a bit more detail-obsessed about the genre because we're all natives to New Mexico and Arizona, and we all are archaeology/anthropology buffs with an almost OCD interest in all things Native American and historical for the region. That makes for a really tough crowd, I'll admit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So far you're all in my good books. Despite Camazotz's harsh words about my formatting! (Alright, I'll admit my formatting is kind of lame...)

Sorry! I always hate coming off harsh....the formatting issue may be unique to me, so don't take it too seriously....I use Witchcraft as written for both my modern horror games and my fantasy games, its a great book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for sounding so harsh...

No problems! And i would love to do a revision, but I don't know how that works for the monographs. The thought is there, and the original AH doc has had a couple of edits since Chaosium started printing it. I guess it shouldn't be too difficult... I might bring it up with Dustin, if he isn't too busy.

...we're all natives to New Mexico and Arizona, and we all are archaeology/anthropology buffs with an almost OCD interest in all things Native American and historical for the region. That makes for a really tough crowd, I'll admit.

Oh, you are REALLY gonna hate my next one then....>:> Maybe I'll send a copy to you for proof reading...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No problems! And i would love to do a revision, but I don't know how that works for the monographs. The thought is there, and the original AH doc has had a couple of edits since Chaosium started printing it. I guess it shouldn't be too difficult... I might bring it up with Dustin, if he isn't too busy.

Oh, you are REALLY gonna hate my next one then....>:> Maybe I'll send a copy to you for proof reading...

LOL I'd be more than happy to proof if you like!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know about the Native Americans, but here in former Indian Territory us Caucasians are definitely redskins, especially during the summer. Need ... SPF ... 5000!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Classic Fantasy--I personally wasn't that happy with this one, as I am of the opinion that if I want to play D&D I will, basically, go play D&D...so this book served little purpose as I see it.

While I appreciate your opinion and your more than welcome to it. I would like to clarify one point that could incorrectly lead someone to or from Classic Fantasy based on the above erroneous comment. If someone wants to play D&D, then Classic Fantasy is not a suitable replacement. Your statement seems to imply the opposite. I personally do not like D&D's game mechanics and do not like level based systems. What I do like is D&D's game worlds and many of its classic adventures.

Classic Fantasy is not a re-write of any version of D&D nor is it a "retro-clone" in any way.

D&D has levels where Classic Fantasy does not.

D&D has escalating hit points where Classic Fantasy does not.

D&D has a strict alignment system where Classic Fantasy uses the Allegiance system from BRP just re-named.

D&D has restrictive character classes where Classic Fantasy uses the BRP professions and gives them special abilities based upon their D&D counterparts. Many of these special abilities are acquired as a character raises his allegiance, not level, which is right from BRP and not something I made up.

If someone were to buy Classic Fantasy thinking it were a different version of D&D, I think they would be very disappointed. But if they wanted to relive some of the early adventures using a much better game system, where an orc could still be a threat to even the most powerful adventurer and your mage could swing a battle axe all day long, then maybe they would like to take a look at it.

Again, I have no problem with Classic Fantasy not being your cup of tea. I just feel that one description is unfair and does not convey the correct information.

Rod

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry! I always hate coming off harsh....

I'm glad that I'm not the only opinionated reptile on this site.;D But dissing Classic Fantasy is going to get you Prismatic Sprayed!;-D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not like the Modern Equipment Monograph. Based on the soldier on the front cover, I was expecting detailed weapon listings and I was shocked to discover than their are no weapons in this Monograph!

However, both of the adventure Monographs are quite good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad that I'm not the only opinionated reptile on this site.;D But dissing Classic Fantasy is going to get you Prismatic Sprayed!;-D

Ugh! Yeah thats the problem with the internet....everyone's got an opinion, including me ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I appreciate your opinion and your more than welcome to it. I would like to clarify one point that could incorrectly lead someone to or from Classic Fantasy based on the above erroneous comment. If someone wants to play D&D, then Classic Fantasy is not a suitable replacement. Your statement seems to imply the opposite. I personally do not like D&D's game mechanics and do not like level based systems. What I do like is D&D's game worlds and many of its classic adventures.

Classic Fantasy is not a re-write of any version of D&D nor is it a "retro-clone" in any way.

D&D has levels where Classic Fantasy does not.

D&D has escalating hit points where Classic Fantasy does not.

D&D has a strict alignment system where Classic Fantasy uses the Allegiance system from BRP just re-named.

D&D has restrictive character classes where Classic Fantasy uses the BRP professions and gives them special abilities based upon their D&D counterparts. Many of these special abilities are acquired as a character raises his allegiance, not level, which is right from BRP and not something I made up.

If someone were to buy Classic Fantasy thinking it were a different version of D&D, I think they would be very disappointed. But if they wanted to relive some of the early adventures using a much better game system, where an orc could still be a threat to even the most powerful adventurer and your mage could swing a battle axe all day long, then maybe they would like to take a look at it.

Again, I have no problem with Classic Fantasy not being your cup of tea. I just feel that one description is unfair and does not convey the correct information.

Rod

I'm actually really pleased to see that a lot of BRP authors hang out here (I guess that should be obvious to me, but oh well) and I definitely wantto emphasize that I think Classic Fantasy is a good, clearly written and fun-to-read book loaded with useful content for the dungeon delve fantasy genre.

My main contention was that the thematic style of fantasy it presents, which it does convey very well, is really engrained in my own personal gaming experiences with the themes and rules of D&D. As a result, Classic Fantasy is less useful to me because it lacks things I associate the rather specialized dungeon crawling genre with (AC, levels, all that stuff you mention) but yes, it does ineed provide a great set of rules for accomplishing the thematics of dungeon delving in this classic mold but in the BRP system.

Anyway, my apologies! I should have been very clear that I wasn't suggesting the book was not useful to others looking for what it offered, but rather that my specific associations with the genre, as well as the kind of fantasy I would be using BRP for were not one and the same. And by Jove if it wasn't a good book for anyone I would have been clear on that, too! ;D

Anyway, I know from reading elsewhere that Part II is on the way. While I might not have a lot of use for the first volume, the contents of the second voume (especially the monsters!) have me very intrigued. Any estimates on when it will become available?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not like the Modern Equipment Monograph. Based on the soldier on the front cover, I was expecting detailed weapon listings and I was shocked to discover than their are no weapons in this Monograph!

However, both of the adventure Monographs are quite good.

Actually yeah I was intiially taken aback that there were no firearms and weapon tables in the book, but I warmed up to it when I realized that apart from that I was holding an awesome loot resource for Rubble & Ruin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know from reading elsewhere that Part II is on the way. While I might not have a lot of use for the first volume, the contents of the second voume (especially the monsters!) have me very intrigued. Any estimates on when it will become available?

I've been working too many hours to put as much work into it as I would have liked, plus I have some other commitments as well, specifically as one of the editors for an upcoming non-BRP game called Fabled Lands. But, I really hope to have it turned into Chaosium at the end of the summer. I have a committed playtest yahoo group that has been hard at work on it for a couple months now and hope to send them some new stuff to play with over the weekend. The monsters themselves which make up chapter 3 are more than 3/4 of the way done and chapters 1 and 2 are finished. chapter 4, treasure, is done but going to get a re-write.

Rod

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...