Comic Book Review: Low. It’s about overcoming depression.

CqIlK0eWcAAJiZz

Low, Vol. 4: Outer Aspects of Inner AttitudesLow – The full series by Rick Remender

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Humanity, thousand years into the future, literally and figuratively at their lowest point of its existence. The sun is about to explode, and it’s so hot on the surface of earth, humanity had to seek refuge at the bottom of our deepest oceans. In the middle of all this anarchy and chaos, there is a family, whose mother figure is the only hopeful and positive spark. A woman, whose late husband’s lifework was searching for other habitable planets, a solution to this desperate situation on a dying planet.

But what this comic is really about: it’s about DEPRESSION. It’s about trying to over win your own pessimism, and trying to think or be optimistic and make the best of the situation, to find a solution to the situation.

Throughout the comic series Rick Remender sprinkled some sparks of hope, small moments of optimism. Only to get it crushed. Just as in a real depression. It has it’s up and downs. The characters are an emotional wreck and they have to fight and work to find the strength to live another day.

Two random pages, the art is stunningly good.

LOW_01_Preview_1_zpsmocses4p
Random Page 1
Screen-Shot-2015-07-06-at-1.39.06-PM
Random page 2

Adventures in Middle-Earth

Adventures in Middle-earth: Loremaster's GuideAdventures in Middle-earth: Loremaster’s Guide by Dominic McDowall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a well written, nicely illustrated book. Maybe it’s sad they recycled the illustrations from their other RPG: ‘The One Ring’. The Loremaster’s guide to Adventures in Middle-earth, the equivalent of the dnd 5e dungeon master’s guide.

Since this book uses the OGL 5e rule set, the book expands on what is already known from the official dungeon master’s guide and adds new rules also recycled ‘The One Ring’. The only part of DnD that is totally different and changed is the magic system.

lmg1.png

The book starts with a very nice description of the main setting. The game is called adventures in Middle-Earth but it mainly focuses on the Wilderlands, or Rhovanion. That compromises the Misty Mountains, Grey Mountains, Blue Mountains, Mirkwood, The River Anduin, Long-Lake, The Lonely Mountain with Erebor inside it, lake-town or Esgaroth, Dale,… You know, the places from The Hobbit.

The main town of the game is Esgaroth, the new town after Smaug destroyed the old one (at the end of the Hobbit). This town is the starting point and main base for the players to start the game. The description of the town is very detailed with different districts, important NPC’s described and stats for the town-watch etc… It’s all you need as a master to get this town alive.

b05bddddc4be4a2d4440d69cc34fd71c

Throughout the book there are pop-ups which give you ‘adventure seeds’. These are inspirational tips for side-quests. Which are pretty cool and make it easy when your players don’t know what to do, or are stuck in the main quest and need to do something else.

The game takes place 5 years after ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’. In 2946. As a gamemaster it is necessary to known all the events taking place before and after this event. So this book also features a timeline with the history of middle earth, even going back thousand of years. In this timeline it is made clear which kind of characters know or remember certain parts of history. Some of the most important events are big secrets. For example the explorations of the necromancers castle, Dol Goldur, by Gandalf is only known by members of the White Council. Very awesome.

15c71e938f80c7ff604bfe1d5f3e20b7-d3blzpe

Additional there is a new bestiary with 4-5 kinds of trolls, orcs, spiders… Since the lord of the rings has many different subraces, which the dungeons and dragons’ bestiary doesn’t have. Also there is a list of NPC’s you can use throughout the campaign: guards, thiefs, chieftains, sages,…

B7-VLwjCUAAgtUu

But the big addition to the dungeons and dragons games are some rules and concepts from ‘The One Ring’. These are the phases in which this game is divided. You have the fellowship phase, Journey phase and adventuring phase and then there are also audiences, sanctuaries, patrons, etc…

The adventuring phase is ‘normal play’, as known in every other RPG. It expands with extra rules for rests and inspiration. Rests are mainly taking place in sanctuaries or safe places while traveling. The inspiration rules are now the same as in DnD, since DnD also uses the concept of inspiration.

The Journey Phase is a sort of fast-travel system. Where you can undertake a long journey without having the need to describe and plays weeks of travel. Sort of like in the Baldur’s Gate computer game, where you travel between map markers for 4 – 8 hours without actually playing it. But this time the travel time takes weeks. The Journey Phase has its own rules and players need to prepare and plot their journey. Scripted and random events can occur, players have to assign tasks to each other, etc… It’s almost a game-in-a-game.

Then there is the Fellowship phase. That is a phase between the game sessions. When you end a game session you can have your character live on by giving him or her a task to complete. So when your group of friends can’t play for a certain amount of time, it doesn’t feel like the world was set on pause. These rules are so expanded it’s also a game-in-a-game.

Audiences are new rules for when you get an audience with an important NPC. For example a Chieftain, a steward, a wizard, a king, a lord. For example: an audience can give you the opportunity to unlock a new sanctuary where you can rest.

Grima_and_King_Theoden_-_Two_Towers.png

Next are Patrons, important NPC’s, like for example Gandalf or Elrond, who give you, the master, the opportunity to let your players feel connected to the main events taking place in middle earth and build important relationships with important figures.

Magic is totally different from in DnD, since in DnD spells are too powerful. In the movies, magic is very rarely used, and when it’s used everybody stands in awe or it’s so powerful, the ‘normal’ folk and warriors are literally blown away by it. But wizards can’t machine-gun magic missiles around. The timing and effects are different from in DnD. So there is a list with new spells for the game and a list of dnd spells who are middle-earth appropriate. Druid, Cleric, Sorcerer and Warlock spells all go towards the wizard since these classes don’t exist in this world.

Overall, very good book. Enjoyed reading it. Sad that it has a different dimensions (literally the book is 1/3 inch wider) than the Player’s Guide.

View all my reviews

Character Sheet 4: Dracul Dragan, Blessed one of Rondra.

imagesThis is a description of a character I play in a roleplaying game, named ‘The Dark Eye’ set in the Aventuria Campaign setting.

This time you have to meet Dracul Dragon. He is a blessed one of the goddess Rondra, one of the twelf revered gods found on the continent of Aventuria. Rondra is the goddess of Combat, Bravery, Honor and Protection. Dracul Dragon, is a salutist follower of Rondra, which means he is more open-minded towards magicians in comparison to other followers of Rondra. There is honor in magicians, such as there is also honor in other professions.

Born in the Bornland, which lies in the north of the continent, he is used to wander in the heavy woods and treacherous swamps. Dracul grew up in Needmark. One of the most northern cities known to man, lying at the feet of the great (9000 foot high) mountain range called The Iron Edge. As a kid, he was told many stories about the mythical dragon Fuldigor. One of the oldest, greatest dragons to ever roam the world, so big, even a forest consisting of 1000 year old oaks grows on his back.

44be3054619984b07ef1511594999c59--dark-eyes-black-books
The Continent

The Bornland is also the home of many Goblins. These creatures are a source of big conflict. Some Goblins are traders, who live in small tribes, but most of them are thieves. Dracul despises these honorless, thieving creatures.

The gods Firun, Peraine and Rondra (among the nobles) are the most revered gods in Bornland. While not being a noble, it was almost obvious for Dracul to enter service as a blessed one of Rondra. Always being the strongest and most honorable of his group of peers in his youth. He was known for taking it up for the ones in need. He is a leader, not a bully. Because of his strong sense of justice he was always in trouble. So his father forced him into service at a local church of Rondra. While he himself was devoted to Peraine, he thought this would be a good lesson for his son. But Dracul took it very seriously.

Now, Dracul wishes to complete his education by going to Pericum, a harbor city on the Sea of Pearls. Which still lies south-west in the Middelrealm, north of Arania. In Pericum lies the main temple of Rondra. There, he wishes to serve his god and complete his education.

But… on the way south, he is distracted by other travelers, adventurers, in which he sees his duty to help them on their way, acting as a hired sword. He never asks a price for his service, because it’s his duty, still when he never declines rewards.

This is my first Dark Eye Character.
Probably many mistakes are made… But it doesn’t matter… At first sight it looks alright.

dark eye character sheet_1As a hired sword, I constantly have to take hits and act like a tank. So I’ve chosen to invest points in regeneration of Karma and Life Points. Which so far, helped me a lot. Also increased toughness helps me to take hits, and my weapon aptitude and exceptional combat technique, while still early in the game, helps me to do damage.

dark eye character sheet_2I’ve only got 3 points in perception. Which is low… most of the time I don’t notice things. When I made this character, I thought that 3 points into a skill would be allright. Especially since I have to roll lower than 14 with 3 D20’s, which I have a 70% chance of. I have 3 points to invest to get the numbers lower or equal to 14. Still it’s almost impossible.

dark eye character sheet_3The Dark Eye has some incredibly cool magic system. So far I’ve used some of these chants and ceremonies, and they have really cool effects. Check these out:

Protect the Defenseless
Blessed Ones of Rondra can draw an attacker’s wrath
upon themselves, thus protecting others from harm.

Check: COU/INT/CHA (target’s Spirit as a penalty)
Effect: You can challenge a combatant that attacks
(or wants to attack) a defenseless person. The target
ignores the original victim and attacks you instead.
Liturgical Time: 1 action
KP Cost: 8 KP
Range: 16 yards
Duration: QL x 3 minutes
Target Category: Intelligent Creatures
Traditions: Rondra (Shield)
Improvement Cost: B

That one was really helpful so far, that way enemies can’t ignore me the tank. So my allies can focus safely on attacking the enemy, while I’m taking hits.

And check these two out:

Enforce Honor
You can use this liturgical chant to force an opponent
to behave with honor in combat.

Check: COU/INT/CHA (target’s Spirit as a penalty)
Effect: ‘Honor’ in this case means that the target holds
to your principles. Depending on the culture and its
interpretation, this can mean that the target gives an
opponent the chance to pick up a dropped weapon,
does not attack after an opponent suffers a botch,
does not attack from behind, does not use poison, and
so on.
Liturgical Time: 4 actions
KP Cost: 8 KP
Range: 8 yards
Duration: QL x 3 minutes
Target Category: Intelligent Creatures
Traditions: Rondra (Shield and Storm)
Improvement Cost: B

And the following blessing is also very cool:

Protect the Defenseless
Blessed Ones of Rondra can draw an attacker’s wrath
upon themselves, thus protecting others from harm.

Check: COU/INT/CHA (target’s Spirit as a penalty)
Effect: You can challenge a combatant that attacks
(or wants to attack) a defenseless person. The target
ignores the original victim and attacks you instead.
Liturgical Time: 1 action
KP Cost: 8 KP
Range: 16 yards
Duration: QL x 3 minutes
Target Category: Intelligent Creatures
Traditions: Rondra (Shield)
Improvement Cost: B

dark eye character sheet_4dark eye character sheet_5