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Gamescapes: Story Maps, Pirate Set 1
by Mark S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2007 00:00:00
THIS is what I was looking for!

Crisp graphics, quality artwork. Definitely buy from Talisman again!

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gamescapes: Story Maps, Pirate Set 1
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Gamescapes: Story Maps, Pirate Set 1
by Sean M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2007 03:42:12
The illustrations on these tiles are fairly pleasing, but not so much as to be distracting to game play. Even though this is called "Pirate Set 1" there does not appear to be much piracy going on. The tiles could just be called "Tropical Island" The coastline tiles are sufficenly varied to make the coastlines non repetitive, but I wish there was another type of interior tile.

The data in this package are JPEG files which will print out at the correct scale. One of the JPEG files gives an overview map. It would have been nice to have a quick list of how many prints of type X or Y are needed to assemble the overview map.

I printed this on 110lb cardstock with an inkjet printer. After pressing flat for sometime it was usable. Next time I will find some cardboard and mount the prints to it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Publisher Reply:
"It would have been nice to have a quick list of how many prints of type X or Y are needed to assemble the overview map." That's a great idea, Sean. Thanks for that! I'll have a word with the developers and see if we can't do that for future products. And thanks for the positive comments. I'm glad you liked the tiles. Happy gaming, -M- Martin, Talisman Studios Publisher
Gamescapes: Story Maps, Pirate Set 2
by James M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2007 00:00:00
I normally try to look at products I purchase in a positive light, but I have to say right off that the "Pirate Set 2" is just not worth the $5.95 cost.


Package:
The product comes in a ZIP file that contains 12 separate JPG files for a total size of about 20 MB. There is an overview of the ship, 9 "tiles" of ship decking, a spare "tile" of just water, and then a 5 MB "poster" of the ship.

Oddly, the "cover image" on the RPGNow product page is nowhere in the package. I don't feel a need to have it, but it seems odd to me that they show a "cover" that isn't included.


Detailed Description:
The "ship layout map" sizes at 8.5" x 11", exactly, so you'll lose water around the edges depending on how much white space your printer requires. There is a black square grid across the whole thing, though it is darker right around the ship. The map shows a sky view of a ship about 105' long. (This is the same as the Demo image, just at a higher resolution than that sample.)

The tiles are divided into three sets. They are sized to print as 8" tiles. The first set shows the exact same images as the "ship layout map", though with less water on the right and left. The second set is the same as the first, but without any water (and without any grid outside of the ship).

The third set of tiles is labeled as "Underdeck" and shows a deck that appears to run the length of the ship.

The final tile is just 8" of water with a grid.

The images are high resolution and were clearly created from fairly high quality graphics. However, I have seen ships just as detailed on the Dundjinni forums. In fact, the images really remind me of something produced in that program. (Which means they will suck the ink right out of your printer.)

Also, as these files are provided in JPG instead of PDF format, you have to make sure your program is going to print them at the size their DPI would suggest. I believe this product would have been much nicer if they had taken the time to convert it into a nice PDF. It would certainly make printing easier.



Opinions:
There are quite a few problems with this product. First of all, the overview clearly shows raised fore and aft decks. However, there is no map of either of these areas provided. The "Underdeck" is clearly the deck below the lower main deck. So, you start with a bunch of missing space that your players are guaranteed to take their characters into.

Second, what's really disconcerting is that the "Underdeck" has stairs leading up that match up with hatches on the overview -- one hatch is on the lower main deck, the other two on the raised foredeck. This makes no sense as these locations are not at the same vertical level.

Third, the product page says "Every set has one fantastic location for the climactic scene plus an assortment of other useful areas." The fantastic location would be the ship itself; right? This isn't even complete. What "other useful areas" are there? The "underdeck" really is one big "area", so I don't think it even begins to qualify.

Fourth, the poster map and the overview map both display exactly the same on the screen, and so unless you have a poster printer, it's pretty well worthless. The overview map is high enough resolution to print nicely in several sections so that it can be taped together. I didn't buy the product for that feature, but they did tout it on the product page.

Fifth, from the name of "deck plans" and the fact that the product "cover image" on the web site shows a full ship with another ocean-type map just below it but angled to the side, I assumed this product was multiple ships. That may have been a bad assumption on my part, but I also believe the product description should be more clear. (It's pretty much the exact same description as all their other products. They didn't take the time to give these items individual descriptions and there is no information on the company's web site.) I think the publisher should have taken the time to put something like "This product contains some of the deck plans for a single ship" somewhere on the page.


Usefulness:
Low. The map is incomplete, so I can't even use it as a ship to attack my party's ship unless I want to create those two missing areas myself.


Value:
Ripped off. The maps were incomplete. There was no real originality. Plus, this product frankly looks like something that I could have thrown together myself with a few days worth of work with a program like Dundjinni. For $5.95, I expected significantly more.


Recommendations:
Buy another product. Go look for free images on the web. You'll get better value.


QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Ripped Off


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Gamescapes: Story Maps, Pirate Set 2
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Publisher Reply:

James,

Thank you for your feedback on this map set. While we're sorry that you aren't happy with the pirate ship, your thorough review was much appreciated. Respectful of that, I'd like to address some of your points (and I'll be agreeing with most of them, so keep reading!).

  • the cover image on the RPGNow product page is nowhere in the package... We talked about this when we read your review and had a think about it. Yes, it's not a must-have, but from now on we've decided to add it to all our products just the same.
  • they will suck the ink right out of your printer... We're very proud of the image quality of our products. We consider them to be as good as anything available and they're drawn by great illustrators like Aaron Acevedo and Jason Engle (who made this set). We wouldn't want you to put half-baked cheap looking maps down on your gaming table, and so we're keeping our level of hi-res high color artwork. Yes, it does use ink up. But it's no different to other download products, and we think you'll appreciate the attention to detail.
  • these files are provided in JPG instead of PDF format... Again, we talked about this. Some people prefer the flexibility of JPGs while others like the ease-of-use of PDF. In the end, we decided that we wouldn't skimp on a little extra work and would provide both in future map sets. That way everyone is happy.
  • the overview clearly shows raised fore and aft decks. However, there is no map of either of these areas provided... You know, the moment we read this the entire team rushed to open up the tiles and have a look. Sure enough, the sub-deck tiles aren't in the final package. All I can say is thank you for letting us know! We would have hated to be selling an incomplete ship to people and not knowing about it. We're re-issuing Pirate Map Set 2 with all the pieces and naturally everyone who has an old version will be eligible for a free upgrade. On the plus side, it goes to prove that we're not perfect cyborg game-making machines with a sinister plan to take over the Universe.
  • the poster map and the overview map both display exactly the same on the screen... Yes they do, but we knew that some people wouldn't want to tape together sections and would like one beautiful printout. Some folks have printers that will print off a roll. Others will take the poster image to their local print shop and get a hard copy there. Not everyone will use it, but it looks great if you do, so we thought that we'd include it.
  • I also believe the product description should be more clear... Agreed. We have a new technical / web guru started with us yesterday, and in the coming days we intend to update our whole section of RPGnow. Individual product descriptions will be a part of that, so bear with us for a little while until Alan gets his feet under the desk.

All in all I hope that you can see that we're listening to your comments and appreciate the changes we're making. Most importantly, thank you for bringing the missing decks to our attention (oops). All the comments were appreciated, though, and we agreed with many of them. After all, we use our own products, so we want them to be the very best. We aim to give you the finest gaming accessories at a reasonable price, so that you get the best games without spending heaps of money.

Happy gaming,

-M-
Martin Klimes
Talisman Studios Producer

Shaintar: Immortal Legends Player's Guide
by Marc G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2006 00:00:00
I picked this up initially as a set of expanded fantasy rules to apply to my own campaign, but I must admit that I got swept up in Sean's enthusiasm and will probably buy the GM's guide when it comes out as well.

The expansion of how armor works without adding extra rules is quite nice, and I liked the treatment of races and magic as well.

Personally I think this is an absolute must for any Savage Worlds fan running a fantasy campaign.

Really nice cost-value ratio as well.


LIKED: The little GM-to-GM sidebars should be required for any RPG product as far as I'm concerned!

Overall the layout was nice and the pencil drawings gave a good feeling for the setting.

Since I'm currently planning on using this for another world, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the maps, but the quality is nice and breaking it up with descriptions was a nice touch as well.

DISLIKED: I guess I should say something I didn't like. Hmm. Maybe starting new pages with major topics like Gear, as opposed to having them start at the end of the previous page. That's pretty minor though.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shaintar: Immortal Legends Player's Guide
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to give us your feedback! We've been delighted to see that you and others have found the GM-to-GM sections as helpful as we wanted them to be. We'll take a look at trying a few more layout options with the various subsections. It's always a trade off, but you never know which way might work a little better. While it's taking longer than we hoped to bring the full setting to production, rest assured that part of the reason is our desire to continue to give you the most bang for your buck we can manage. Thank you again for letting us know what you think!
Shaintar: Immortal Legends Player's Guide
by Markus F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2006 00:00:00
The Cover
It's static and it doesn't give an idea about the world it's set it, but looking on it you get the idea that this is a legendary warrior who had many adventures and battles and came out ahead. Not the worst notion to get from a cover of a book that promises Epic High Fantasy.

4 of 5 stars

The Layout
The book's inside is presented in black and white, the borders of the page are highly ornamented and the background fades from grey to almost white in the center, making the text easy to read. This will be very heavy on the printers, so let's hope that there's a slightly trimmed down version for us savin' folks.

5 of 5 stars.

The Artwork
There are black and white drawings throughout the text, in the style of sketches which spark the imagination and give a good idea of the look of the world. The website offers a few full-color graphics as well which depict scenery. While nice-looking, they didn't strike that as that powerful. I'd rather take the b/w sketches for the final book.

5 of 5 stars.

The Text
Shaintar obviously has a rich and detailed background. There are quite a few hints and clues at a much larger world that couldn't be fit in into one mere book. I'll get back to that later.
The flavor text at the start of the Player's Guide left me kinda disappointed. It's a classic opener in the line of "something terrible's about to happen, luckily there is hope". Which is fine for starting the main story arc, but I'd rather have a typical "everyday-scene" of an adventurer's life at the beginning of the PG.

The PG continues with a brief overview over the world of Shaintar and its history. This gives new players a rough overview who the big players are and what's common knowledge for heroes hailing from the Southern Kingdoms (or where ever the characters come from).
The calendar seems a little tedious, but that's just out of personal preference. I'd rather not deal with keeping track of dates in a calendar not everyone is familiar with, but this will be a non-issue at most tables, I'm sure.

One thing is really great: the GM-to-GM notes. With those, Sean describes in straight-to-the-point language the reasons why he did something the way he did (including dwarves, for example). He also offers advice on how to run Shaintar, what to emphasize, what to de-emphasize. All-in-all a very interesting and helpful view on the creating of Shaintar.

One last thing: When it comes to the rules, the language is plain and to the point. You won't read that this skill has "no particular use and should thus not be taken", you'll read: Don't bother to put points into this. It's like a GM offering advice to new players on his table.

3 of 5 stars.

The Rules
Here's the crunch of Shaintar, the real juicy bites for the number-crunchers. It starts off with the Races. Shaintar offers 11 races, some of them quite generic for fantasy, some unique. Each race offers a short description (including bits on culture and the like) before assignid racial abilities. At first glance, the races might seem unbalanced since they come out better than the equivalent of one free edge (like Humans in general). But fear not, Humans get an additional boost as well, so it balances out nicely.
There are various types of Faes (think Elves), Dwarves, Humans, a special kind of Half-Elves, Orcs, Ogres and Goblins. Additionally to these, there are Brinchie (a feline race) and Dregordians, a lizard-like race.

There doesn't seem to be a race who get's shorthanded, although some racial hindrances come "only" through roleplaying into play.

5 of 5 stars for the races.

Skills, Edges & Hindrances
Shaintar offers a big list them, but a good portion of that is re-printed material from other sources (like 50 Fathoms) or details minor changes on existing edges on the rulebook. Again, Sean offers insight via the GM-to-GM boxes on the decision process.

There are a total of 28 new Edges (if I didn't miscount). Some of them are more specialised than others but there's no excessive branching of edges (the Kor-In Student, for example, has been trimmed down to three edges).

Some of these Edges are difficult to judge without knowing the full world, but I'll give this section:

5 of 5 stars.

The Gear
This section offers a slightly different way to handle armor (basically, it introduces a Called Shot penalty per Armor for hits aimed for unarmed body parts) and replaces the gear list from the main rulebook completely for Shaintar.

No thrills, but no complains either.

5 of 5 stars.

Magic in Shaintar
Shaintar uses quite a few powers published in Evernight or 50 Fathoms, but re-prints them here for easy reference.
There are about two dozen new powers and I'm not sure that you need that many. Reading the descriptions I though that the one or the other could have been done with existing powers and trappings, but that would be nitpicking.
There are 6 Arcane Backgrounds in Shaintar, 5 of them available for player characters, including Psionics. The ABs are re-named for better fitting into the world. In my opinion, that wasn't necessary, but it's no harm either.

4 of 5 stars

What else?
The PG closes with a tour of the world offering an overall map for the world, then "zooming in" for short descriptions of nations, islands and the like. Gives a good overview for the players without getting lost in minute details.


LIKED: The GM to GM comments offer valuable insight into how this setting came to pass and what the author's thoughts are on some issues.

DISLIKED: The introductory story.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to write such an in-depth review! We really appreciate your feedback, and providing this kind of detail helps us really know where our strengths and weaknesses are. So, again, thank you. We have included a lightweight version of the PDF for those trying to save ink. If for some reason your download didn't inclue it, please let me know and I'll be happy to get you the updated versions. It's wonderful to hear that the GM-to-GM sections are working as well for others as we hoped, as well. Finally, including fiction to help present a "day in the life" is a great suggestion! It's certainly one we'll work on incorporating in the future both for Shaintar and other projects. Thanks again, Markus!
Shaintar: Immortal Legends Player's Guide
by Bill L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2005 00:00:00
Easily one of the best Savage "supplements" in a long time. In terms of layout and appearance, I have to admit that its the best of any Savage product (from either GWG or any of the existing licensees). Although fantasy is not my current "cup of tea", this product has much to offer those looking to adventure within the fantasy genre and anyone stuck for ideas will find it useful. If the setting meshes with your ideas about "classic fantasy", then you're in for a real treat; otherwise, you may not find it quite as useful. However, don't take my word on it -- at $10 for 128-pages, it's well-worth picking up and deciding for yourself. All-in-all, an excellent product well-worth the money.






LIKED: Very well-done layout. Does a good job of describing the setting in a unique way while still sticking to the core rules so that you don't have to relearn everything.

DISLIKED: Nothing that wasn't totally subjective. ;)

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for your comments. It's always nice when folks who don't necessarily favor the fantasy genre still say we've done a good job.
Shaintar: Immortal Legends Player's Guide
by Matthew M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2005 00:00:00
Ah, Shaintar. This IS epic fantasy. You can run a game with 50+ players (including GMs), miniatures, huge battles and so on in a few hours with no problem. I'm talking about an RPG scenario, not a simple Warhammer style battle. I know because I was there at The Eternity Spire event at Origins '05.

The Player's Guide doesn't quite convey that epic feel by itself, but it does give players a lot of nifty options to choose from. Lots of Shaintar "flavor", some new Edges & powers and a few new races as well. It also comes with a bunch of maps and general descriptions of the various regions so that players can get a feel for their Heroes' home region.

LIKED: It's Shaintar!

DISLIKED: The concept of Fire = Evil And Therefore Not To Be Messed With while the other elements are Fine And Dandy seems a little odd.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Publisher Reply:
We're glad you liked it, and just as glad that the "flavor" came through for you. There's a lot to the land of Shaintar and we wanted to make sure players got a chance to know about the whole of it. As for Flame, the elements were used as a model for what's going on in Shaintar, but with Nature/Spirit replacing fire. (Of course, in Eastern models, there are five elements, and Nature/Spirit is one of them). That said, Flame is "bad" for a reason that goes deep to the core of the mythology. In fact, there are some indications that it was not always "bad," but that's part of the deep mysteries to be revealed as the story of Shaintar is further told.
Shaintar: Immortal Legends Player's Guide
by Joseph D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2005 00:00:00
WOW!!! This is a phenomenal product-- well worth the $10. Not only is it an interesting campaign setting, but it serves an extraordinarily important purpose for Savage Worlds lovers: it shows exactly how this amazing game system can be adapted for Swords & Sorcery settings. Whether you use this Guide to play adventures in Shaintar or simply canabalize it for your own campaign, you will not be disappointed.

This product introduces new concepts, trappings, Edges, spells, and mechanics to make the setting come to life, and yet it stays firmly rooted in the elegant rules framework provided by the Savage Worlds system.

Combine this Guide with Great White Games' own top notch Fantasy Toolkit series and any GM will be ready to run an unforgetable fantasy campaign!


I cannot wait for the next products in this line!

Great job!



LIKED: Great "crunch" material with plenty of "flavor" mixed in.
An excellent resource to inspire any fantasy campaign.
Clearly a labor of love.
Very good production values, including layout and editing.
My original review gripped about the lack of a "printer friendly" version to help save toner when printing. In response to fan demands, Talisman has released an updated version that fixes errata and now includes a printer friendly version! Now you get both copies in one download. Nothing beats a company that responds so quickly to its customers' needs! THANKS!!!

DISLIKED: Nothing!

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Click here to issue a publisher reply
Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to leave a detailed review. Good or bad, we always love feedback! You're right to call the work a labor of love and we're very happy to see that the extra tiem we took shows through for you in the quality of the book. Since you posted your comment we've made an update to fix some errors and mistakes and to include a lightweight version to reduce the ink consumption and allow for fast screen viewing. If you didn't receive this update for some reason, please drop us a line and we'll be happy to get you a copy of the newest version.
Shaintar: Immortal Legends Player's Guide
by Sean H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2005 00:00:00
I've never been much the "High Fantasy" fan. Shaintar, however, may have started me down that path. It shows how well Savage Worlds can handle the genre.

This is also another example of a Savage Setting that diverges just a bit from the core rules to make the system it's own, and it works wonderfully. While magic is just barely more complex, each type of magic in the setting is unique and interesting, and the streamlined "Armor Bypass" mechanic blends seamlessly with existing rules and makes things even more F!F!F!. And the art (High quality pencil sketch) is the perfect match for the setting. The Pantheon, while not just one deity, it also doesn't carry a massive list.

Shaintar is a AAA product. At $10.00 for a 128 Players Guide, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Edit: Just a a few short weeks after releasing this, and due to fan demand, Talisman gave us a fantastic "lightweight", printer friendly version. Not that this was a huge complaint, but now I have none.



LIKED: While the fantasy toolkits are a great resource for GM's, we finally have a fantastic [i]setting[/i] for Savage Worlds. Thanks Talisman!

DISLIKED: With the addition of the lightweight version of the .pdf, there's nothing that I don't like about Shaintar.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Click here to issue a publisher reply
Publisher Reply:
Thank you for your comments! When we can tempt a someone who's not a big fan of the genre, we figure we must be doing something right. Since your comment was written we've updated the product to include a lightweight version that's not only printer friendly but also a faster to display. If you didn't recieve this update, please let us know and we'll be happy to make sure you get the new version.
Shaintar: Immortal Legends Player's Guide
by Tom W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2005 00:00:00
Any fan of traditional fantasy will enjoy Shaintar. There's a good amount of unique content and some interesting takes on pre-existing rules from other Savage Settings.
What makes it worthwhile is the fact that you can apply it to a different setting so it that sense it's nice to have.



LIKED: At $10, it's a steal. Lots of useful bits outside of Shaintar. There's also a very good amount of world info to get you started without the actual World Guide.

DISLIKED: As a player's guide its VERY complete. The only downside is that I'll have to wait for monsters and the like.


QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Click here to issue a publisher reply
Publisher Reply:
We're delighted to hear your enjoying it. Sean is committed to those folks who want to start the Shaintar campaigns with just the Player's Guide whie the full setting is finished. Thank you for your comment and, as always, please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions, comments, complaints, or concerns.
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