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Tome of the Mysteries
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2015 12:59:20
http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Dies ist das voll­ge­packte Zau­ber­buch von Mage: The Awa­ke­ning. Es ent­hält auf 194 Sei­ten nicht nur große Lis­ten von Spells und Rotes, son­dern auch viele andere Infor­ma­tio­nen für Spie­ler und Spiel­lei­ter. So gibt es etwa Merits, Zau­ber zum Ver­zau­bern von Gegen­stän­den und ein Sys­tem zum Erstel­len (und Aus­ba­lan­cie­ren) eige­ner Zau­ber nach 13 Kategorien.

Beson­ders inter­es­sant für Spie­ler ist die neue Regel der „Fac­tor Bonu­ses“, wodurch sich die Chan­cen eines Rotes erhö­hen, wenn der Magier beim Zau­bern eine beson­dere Hand­lung durch­führt. Das Buch ent­hält wei­ter einen Rund­um­schlag an Über­le­gun­gen und Regeln zu High Speech, dem Duel Arcane, magi­schen Werk­zeu­gen, ver­fluch­ten Gegen­stän­den, Gly­phen, Soul Sto­nes und Ver­än­de­run­gen der Magie durch kul­tu­relle Traditionen.

Spiel­lei­ter dürf­ten sich dazu über die neuen Magie­ar­ten freuen: Tech­no­ma­gic als magi­sche Tech­no­lo­gie und Abys­sal Spell­cas­ting, das den Effekt von Para­dox als star­ken Angriff benutzt. Dazu kom­men Spe­ku­la­tio­nen über die Macht von Erz­ma­gi­ern (die in Impe­rial Mys­te­ries aus­führ­li­cher behan­delt sind) und die Natur des Abyss. Ein paar Tipps zum Umgang mit Para­dox, sowie Optio­nen das Phä­no­men zu ver­schär­fen, run­den das gelun­gene Buch ab. Wenn es nur eine Erwei­te­rung für Mage: the Awa­ke­ning sein soll, dann diese hier.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of the Mysteries
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The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III - Oadenol's Codex
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2015 19:50:30
The biggest problem with Oadenol's Codex is that it was published at the wrong time. As I mentioned in my Wonders of the Lost Age review, publishing that book first set the tone of the Exalted line toward robots and sentai teams and airships and the best forms of magic being indistinguishable from technology. It would have been a lot better to publish Oadenol's Codex first, since it's more than half-full of material that mortals can accomplish and would thus set a better baseline of expectations for Exalted. I'd much rather have had later material written assuming a world of priests putting up prayer strips to ward off hungry ghosts and rites sung to bring in the crops and architects spending half their lives building precisely-calibrated mansions to contain the updwelling of Essence from a dragon line and cautious expeditions into the Wyld to retrieve powerful ingredients. Then assume the Exalted get to break the rules, the same way the Exalted corebook has rules for bleeding and infection and fatigue and months-long convalescence after battle and gives the Exalted a way to ignore all of that.

There are four main parts of the book, and three of them are easily accessible to mortals. My favorite part is definitely the thaumaturgy section, which has rituals from alchemical mixes to controlling to weather to calling up the dead or demons to breeding better animals. There's also a note that thaumaturgy draws on the underlying processes used by the gods to maintain Creation, which I think is a great baseline. Really interesting worlds can be created out of assuming that natural processes aren't simply bound by real-world physics, as Glorantha has spent decades demonstrating. The example, of the little god of a hunk of clay performing the Mudra of Isolate Stability when entering the furnance in response to the fire god's Song of Ardent Unity, thus producing a brick, is a bit silly, though. It's like how the least god proliferation leads to gods being by far the most common form of life in Creation, since every blade of grass and grain of sand has one.

The rules for thaumaturgy are not quite as good. It's Attribute + Ability vs Difficulty like everything else, but the Ability is almost always Occult and often other Abilities are more obvious. For example, Alchemy requires Craft (Water) to know the formulae, but even though Craft (Water) is the skill for making potions and liquids of all kinds, it's not rolled. Geomancy doesn't require Craft (Earth). Enchanting doesn't require any Craft at all. Spirit-Beckoning uses Occult even though the skill for prayers is Performance and most of the individual rituals override the base and say they're rolled with Charisma + Performance. The way thaumaturgy is written up with how fundamental it is to Creation's functioning, it should have been just been an extension of mundane skill, but instead it's halfway between that and being its own thing and suffers a bit for it.

The manse and artifact construction rules are pretty good, with some great examples of demesnes, manses, and all the non-technological artifacts that were missing from Wonders of the Lost Age. There's also an important note that artifacts should do something special and not just provide mundane bonuses--a hammer that adds +2 to Craft (Fire) rolls is just a very well-made hammer. The major problem I have with these rules is that the tech fetishism of Exalted 2e comes to the fore again in the terminology of features that can be built into Manses. Names like "Central Control" "Self-Destruct Sequence" or "Network Node" just perpetuate the idea that sufficiently advanced magic is technological without room for other paradigms.

Also, that focus led to a fluff/rules split. Having a Repair rating or requirement for Maintenance means that the artifact-maker or manse-builder gains extra points toward giving powers to their construction...but that means that the imperishable wonders of the First Age Solars, which work flawlessly for millennia with no care, should be less powerful than the Shogunate wonders made by the Dragon-Blooded. And since that goes against all the themes of the game, it seems like a bad design decision.

There was a throw-away line in the thaumaturgy chapter that I liked:
"The reptiles suffered tremendously during the war, with whole nations exterminated; yet, they might have recovered if they had kept the gods' favor."

That makes me wonder what Creation would have been like in that case. If the Unconquered Sun had kept his Dragon King form, and the Dragon Kings had kept the Mandate of Heaven, what would have happened to the Exalted? Would they have been second-class citizens in a world of subjugated humans? Would they have risen up again and overthrown the gods? There's a lot of great stories there.

There's a chapter in the end about magical flora and fauna of Creation, but I think it suffers a bit by being mostly conversions from first edition. We've seen ink monkeys and heart wasps and ironwood before, and while getting their second edition stats is nice, it would have been nicer to see something new.

Other than the flaws relating to drawing on Wonders of the Lost Age for its background, Oadenol's Codex is a great book. With its focus on a lower-level of the Exalted world, it builds a foundation for Creation that I really like with only a few missteps.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III - Oadenol's Codex
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Masters of Jade
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2015 19:48:19
This was the last book published before the announcement of third edition, and I think it deserves at least a whole star for being the book that does the most to expand the scope of the world since...well, since Scavenger Sons. One of the problems with Exalted as a whole is that the setting was laid out early and very few new locations were introduced, which meant that the existing locations ended up with connections that make no sense for how far they are from each other. Like how I complained in my review of the Exalted corebook that the Linowan have an ocean presence despite being a thousand miles from the sea, or the way that the Realm has a base in Greyfalls even though it's a year round-trip.

One of the problems is the way that there were rarely any locations placed in between the existing ones in order to actually demonstrate the distances involved, and Masters of Jade fixes that pretty handily. Zebremani; the tomb-cities of Dazra of Irivande, ruled by the nemessary ghosts of their former inhabitants possessing their former bodies; the Empire of the Three Devil Princes, ruled by mysterious shapeshifters; Coindelving, the silver foundry-mill in the frozen North; the behemoth-island Grand Amanuta; the Thaumatarchy of Tessen-O; the Scorpion Empire... Reading those names gives me the same feeling as when I was reading the Exalted 1e corebook with its descriptions of mysterious cities, crumbling empires, teeming wilderness, and desolate wasteland, and even though that's not really what the book was about it's probably my favorite part of it.

What Masters of Jade is actually about is the Guild, the largest trading organization in Creation and one famous for being primarily mortal-run in a world where the supernatural is an ongoing and constant concern. I admit, I've never particularly liked the Guild for the same reason that I don't like the countries with implausibly large territories or trading relationships across hundreds of miles of trackless wasteland--it makes the world feel smaller when there's a single organization that runs nearly all international trade. The book actually does a lot to help rehabilitate the Guild in my eyes by making the case the the Guild's size is essential to its function. Individual Guild factors can be subverted and their interests taken over, but that's just one small area, and if the new owner still makes a profit it doesn't really matter. What really worries the Guild is the prospect of large-scale subversion, and their size and cell structure makes taking over the entirety of the organization a Herculean undertaking.

But not impossible, now that the Solars have returned.

Where Manacle And Coin was more of a lower-level view of a day-to-day Guild business, Masters of Jade deals mostly with the high level and the actions of the Guild as a whole. There's a section about how the Guild's power base is built on slavery, both because manpower is one of the few things in great supply in the Age of Sorrows and because slaves provide the only things of value that the Guild can trade with the fair folk, the powers of Hell, or the dead. Though the Guild is very careful on the last of those, because they actually have competition there--the Timeless Order of Manacle and Coin, the Guild of the Underworld. Or, taking account their respective pedigrees, it'd be more accurate to say that the Guild is the Timeless Order of Creation.

I really like the Timeless Order section, because it deals with the reality of the Underworld. Those with unfinished business become ghosts when they die, and Guild merchants are probably especially likely to become ghosts due to their obvious greed, without which they would not be successful Guild merchants. But the Guild's wealth is built on slavery and drugs, and they work thousands or tens of thousands in the fields to death every year to keep their markets supplied. Any member of the Guild who becomes a ghost is likely to face quite a few extremely angry ghosts with knives when they arrive in the Underworld--and this also serves the Guild's purposes, because it motivates its merchants to become extremely rich so they can finance lavish funerals and arrive in the Underworld with enough resources to obtain membership in the Timeless Order or other protection. Every Guild member lives in mortal terror of dying a pauper.

There's also an explanation for how the Guild manages to compete against supernatural threats, and it also comes down to its size. Against spirits, it relies on blackmail: agree to our policies and receive rich sacrifices, work against us and be starved of worship. Against Exalts, it relies on information: Exalts still have human concerns, after all, and if the Guild can find out what they want and put the Exalt in their debt, is if far better to have the Princes of the Earth work with you out of their own free will than to try to buy them. And if both of those fail, well, most Exalts have mortals they care about, and if the Guild can find that out as well, there's always the knife in the dark.

The book ends with a system called the Creation-Ruling Mandate, which sounds worse but plays better than the Mandate of Heaven from the Exalted Storytellers Companion. The Mandate of Heaven isn't necessarily flawed, but it's overcomplicated for all but the most focused nation-building games and has a ton of actions with names like Tiger Confounds Bear Legislation that are impossible to remember without memorizing them all. The Creation-Ruling Mandate abstracts out most of the attributes and changes the action names to simple ones like "Destroy Asset," which are less flavorful but much easier to use in play. The main drawback is that there are no example organizations provided and no example of play, so it's a bit difficult to figure out how the actions interact.

I remember liking Manacle and Coin and I wasn't sure how I would feel about Masters of Jade, but it managed to win me over. As someone who tuned out of Exalted 2e relatively early in the line, I wish there had been more books like this early on. They might have maintained my interest.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
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Immortal Eyes: Court of all Kings
by Jan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2015 09:12:26
This is mostly a good scan of the original hardcopy. There is none of the usual fading at the binding edge of pages from pressing the book down on the scanner.
Alas page 135/136 of the PDF (133/134 of the printed copy) was scrunched and some of the text on pg. 136 is illegible.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Immortal Eyes: Court of all Kings
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Changeling: The Lost Character Sheet Pad
by Scott E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2015 12:18:00
Excellent for printing and allows quick reference for players (mine keep forgetting their kith abilities) though I think the new interactive pages, like the VtR one make for a less cumbersome
file.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Changeling: The Lost Character Sheet Pad
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Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade
by Patrick L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2015 16:35:06
Highly, highly disappointed.

This is just an extremely poor scan, which is absolutely not worth the money. One could finde these scans in illiegal download areas. But I would never have expected this when paying almost 20$ on a - what I expected - digital copy!
This is nothing like it, it's just a scan I could've done better with the camera snapshot app of my modile phone. The thing is, that it's not even readable at all, as just trying to decipher the poor quality hurts my eyes! Is there a refund option with drive thru? I'll gladly delete this copy and swear an oath not to have any copies on my systems!

I have to say this, though, that, until now, all of my other purchases at drivethru have been very satisfying!

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
by Raiko N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/07/2015 16:20:52
First: english is not my mothertongue but I think the following will be possible to decipher :)

Second: The content of the books (I ordered both in colour two years ago I think) is great, the other ratings tell more about that.

but, and this is my point of view and a useless one when you don't care about the binding of a book,

Third: The Binding, for me an essential component for a Roleplaying Game Rulebook, is what seems to me as a double-fan adhesive bound. I am not proficient in this trade but I am able to compare all of my other p&p Books (nearly 20 Hardcover books of over 7 different Games from the US, UK and Germany, sometimes with over 500 pages thick) bindings with the bindings of the book I am reviewing. And none of them has this kind of binding. Instead they are done with the oversewing technique. And from my point of view there is a consequence in that.
After using both Vampire books nearly 2 times a month over 2 years (as a Storyteller) the paper which held the pages in the cover ripped (both books). A clear cut between the first page attached to the cover and the rest of the pages. The tear is located there because I open the books usually with the front cover first, like from right to left. Not any of my other books 5 to 10 years older and more frequently in use (once a week for over 5 years (also for storytelling)) plagued me with this problem. Well not any other books except the last VtM Core-Rulebook Edition before this one (but I am not sure if this version also had the same binding as the v20, I don't posses it any more, passed it along when receiving the v20 ones)
This is essential because these books are considered to be used frequently preferably over a long time. They have to withstand the continuing opening and closing of the players.
"I use my new feat XY, I have to..." open - close
"I would like to create this character from..." open - close
"Isn't this supposed to be..." open - close
and so on.
When the pages are going to fall out of the cover it is a annoying hindrance to use the books. And this is happening and I can see no other Reason than this. I doubt that my girlfriend is gnawing at the pages at night Oo

I wrote this Review because I care and because I love the Vampire Setting and hope that this will be considered in the future.

Books with this flaw tends to be useless to me and therefore wasted money.
Delagur

PS: I also wrote an E-Mail to the support about this topic but I felt to tell this again and this time to the ones considering to buy the books.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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World of Darkness: Character Pad
by David H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2015 16:19:12
It was extremely useful and it made much easier to teach my players how to make characters

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: Character Pad
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
by greg m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2015 16:27:24
I cannot say enough good things about this product. The images are all crisp, well drawn. Seeing Tim Bradstreet's art grace the pages of a V:tM core book was fantastic, in my opinion.
The writers missed very few items in bringing V:tM to an expanded audience for the twentieth anniversary of the flagship line of the classic Works of Darkness. Two things that stood out as missing to me was the lack of two Paths of Enlightenment, the Path of the Hive, and Scorched Heart. Other than that, fantastic book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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World of Darkness Rulebook
by Matthew P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2015 18:59:38
I purchased a hardcover printed edition of this player's manual, and I'm really impressed with the overall quality of the physical book itself.

I have an original copy of the book to compare it to, just for the sake of those who are interested.

The DriveThruRPG hardbound printing came with a thick gloss cover about 8.5" x 11" and a little short of an inch thick. The page paper is good quality and matte. The binding appears to be a thermally activated binding, perfect binding (think National Geographic). World of Darkness is artwork heavy, especially the borders of the individual pages, and the printing quality is consistent and clear.

The original printing has some interesting differences. The original has a matte cover instead of the gloss, what appears to be a Smyth sewn binding, and the interior pages are a little bit glossier and heavier making the images and print come out a little bit crisper. The original is also slightly smaller than the DriveThruRPG printing and features a slightly larger font for the title on the binding, as well as the White Wolf logo.

DriveThruRPG has certainly printed a very high quality volume with no flaws. The differences between the two printings are pretty unimportant, and chances are, the gloss cover on the DriveThruRPG printing will hold up better to wear and tear than the matte cover on the original.

The only concern I have is that a Perfect binding will fall apart faster than a Smyth binding will, and it may make it worth the extra money to hunt down an original printing just to have the book last a little bit longer.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness Rulebook
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Dudes of Legend (Full Version)
by Jon L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2015 16:34:07
This book was okay and had a decent set of rules of how to make and be a bad-ass character. Not very detailed in anything else but for 0.99 it wasn't so bad it wasn't even a $1.00 so money well spent.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dudes of Legend (Full Version)
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Hunter: Deadly Prey Rulebook
by Jon L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2015 16:29:51
I didn't really care for it honestly. I got it under the pretense of it being something else.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hunter: Deadly Prey Rulebook
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Adamantine Arrow
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/02/2015 08:37:01
Opening with a strange piece of fiction about death and beyond, Why We Fight, this supplement seeks to dig deep into the very soul of the order of mages called the Adamantine Arrow. Mages of this order are not just warriors but more, they wish to dig deep to understand the philosophy of conflict, and fight with weapons and their arts, seeing combat as the way to truth and enlightenment. Hence members of this order do not merely Awaken, they are then forged into potent weapons, combatants with a burning desire to win... or die trying.

Chapter 1: The Smoke from Distant Fires looks at the history of the order from the earliest times right up to the present. Like all warriors they have many legends of past glories to recount. It sweeps from the days of Atlantis itself, developing the core theme that existence itself is conflict. Wherever there is conflict, there you will find Arrow mages. Some say they have formented wars through the ages, others hold that they have just taken advantage of something ordinary mundane mankind is pretty good at engaging in for itself. One thing though, they detest cannibals. They'll always seek to stamp out that vile practice wherever they encounter it. Throughout the sweep of known history, often written in blood, you will find the Arrow.

Next, Chapter 2: Sown From the Dragon's Talons seeks to explain the philosophies, beliefs and practices of the order. Here we read of the Admant Way - symbolised by a hand grasping a thunderbolt - which speaks of great power and the universe as a weapon wielding by a mage's trained hand. Understand this, and you begin to understand what makes this order tick.

Then Chapter 3: Among Warriors delves into what it is like to be a member of the Arrow. To start with, unlike most orders, constant study and a 'mystery cult' approach does not apply here. No secret handshakes or constant initiation rituals... the idea is that members ought to be out there doing rather than reading or performing ceremonies. This is the underlying difference in philosophical approach, and it's key to understanding the order. Of course, mages still have to be accepted for membership, and to remain in good standing once in. There's an interesting discussion about Awakening - who is likely to Awaken and what sort of events provide the opportunity - which raises some interesting possibilities, and a look at what the order seeks at different stages of a prospective member's career as a mage. Initial initiation, whether sought when newly-Awakened or later on, is quite a lengthy process and both mage and order will have a good understanding of the other by the time it is concluded. It's detailed at length, sufficient to play out if desired although generally a fully-generated character is regarded as having already joined the order of their choice. Alternatively, some groups may want to play 'recruiters' and oversee the initiation of other (NPC) mages. Like any organisation, once in members can gain rank and recognition, and this is laid out in detail. There's also quite a lot about the principles on which the order is run and how they are handled on a day-to-day basis, complete with examples: everything you need to construct Arrow society in a meaningful way in your game. For Storytellers, this is useful even if no character wants to join the order, you can make NPC members come to vivid life. Notes on how to handle cabals that are all or partly composed of Arrow members, or have a single one, and Arrow relationships with other orders and other kinds of supernatural beings are also included.

This is followed by Chapter 4: Factions and Legacies which talks about the various groups with which a member of the order can ally and the different paths that he can follow. The preceding chapter rather gives the air of a unified purposeful order and whilst that is mostly true there are of course a multitude of ways in which individual members group to pursue common aims... and even add in aims of their own into the mix. There are three main factions, but each contains several cults (as they term legacies) that faction members may adhere to. Plenty of detail, plenty of choice.

Chapter 5: Magic discusses the ways in which the Adamantine Arrow uses magic, based on the underlying principle that existence itself is conflict. Tactics, new spells and ideas on the practical application of magic to further the order's aims are to be found here, with the discussion ranging from the philosophical ideas to actual rotes ready to be learned and used. Artefacts and relics are included as well.

Finally, an Appendix contains a goodly collection of ready-made Arrow mages - friends, rivals, or foes as appropriate. There is a wide range of different folk, you will be fairly certain to find one who meets your needs.

Overall, this book gives an excellent look at the Adamantine Arrow and is essential reading if you want them to feature in your Chronicle, or have characters wanting to join the order. There's the usual confusion, that this is far more knowledge than most characters will have, even those who are members (unless very senior ones), but provided players are good at keeping in-character and out-of-character knowledge separate, or the Storyteller doles out information as needed, it should not cause a problem. An entertaining and informative read, broadening your knowledge of the world of Mage: The Awakening.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adamantine Arrow
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Nightmare on Hill Manor
by Mycl B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2015 19:22:47
Great quality. Great introductory scenario. Would have liked it to include a few maps. A basic floor map of floor five would have been very helpful. Possibly even a generic apartment map.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nightmare on Hill Manor
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Vampire: The Requiem Demo Full
by Chris J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/20/2015 12:56:31
Oh.My.God. I am so excited to play this game. I have only printed and read through the intro and rules, but I'm so intrigued and jazzed to play this game. It's definitely right up my alley. I heard about this one from the 2 GM's, 1 Mic podcast and I can why they rave about it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Requiem Demo Full
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