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Unorthodox Orthodox
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2006 00:00:00

Unorthodox Orthodox is a new product from The Le Games. Released on April 1, 2006, it?s a humorous product that takes nothing seriously. The product spoofs everything from stats to political parties, and most often jokes on The Le Games itself.


The product is just over 2 megabytes zipped and unzipped. The single PDF file has a (non-hyperlinked) table of contents, as well as bookmarks (including one joke bookmark ? dare you click it?). The artwork is all full-color, and all but one piece are shots of actual people. The book is 18 pages, but three of them are taken up by the OGL, leaving you with 15 pages of actual content.


The majority of the book is four prestige classes: Unorthodox Democrats, Unorthodox Republicans, Unorthodox Wives, and Unorthodox Fanboys. Each of these outlines a 10-level PrC, though oddly, none have a chart breaking down their abilities, which means we don?t know what their BAB or save increases are.


In all honesty though, that doesn?t matter much. The stats here aren?t real stats ? skill listings include ones like Bitch Slap (Cha), or feats like Ignore Science; these are listed as being required skills or bonus feats, but they aren?t expounded upon anywhere. A goodly amount of the product?s stats are like that.


The book is peppered with sidebars, describing silly future releases from The Le Games. These include titles like Unorthodox Queer Monk for the Straight Punk, or my favorite, Unorthodox Chuck Norris Kicks Your @$$ (editing mine; the product doesn?t censor itself). Each shows the cover, and has a descriptive blurb.


Altogether, Unorthodox Orthodox may look like a supplement from the outside, but it?s actually a series of jokes that have used Alternate Form to appear that way. It?s an excellent product for a laugh, and would likely be at least somewhat humorous to anyone who reads it, not just gamers. Check it out for a chuckle today!
<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: The humor here was cutting without being mean-spirited or offensive. The product cleverly built some jokes in to even its formatting, as well as the text.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Some gamers may be displeased with how the book doesn't offer anything that can be used in-game. However, this isn't a drawback of the product itself, as it isn't attempting to showcase actual game materials to begin with.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unorthodox Orthodox
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17 Plants
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/31/2006 00:00:00

It would have been easy for The Le Games to put together a collection of plants and present them as drugs to be inhaled, sniffed, rubbed, touched or licked by your player character. Instead, writer Ewan Conradie has put together a collection of plants that are a tad more alchemical than this, creating unique items that can be used by nearly all the core player classes of your Dungeons & Dragons game.


Downloading this product will provide you with two bookmarked versions of this .pdf, one formatted for your monitor and one formatted for your printer. For the purposes of this review, I?ll be taking a look at the printer-friendly version of ?17 Plants.?


After a page of introduction and material detailing how to use this supplement, we?re thrust right into The Ancient Forest. This isn?t just a stereotypical romp through the woods. The Ancient Forest is a place of history, wisdom, mystery and, as you can guess, these seventeen plants.


The plants in this collection are varied. There?s devil?s blood weed, which smells quite nice, but only to cover the scent of the decomposing bodies it?s entangled within its dominating weeds; and the similar yellow heather, which also smells quite nice, but can help cure a character of nausea. There?s the celestial tree, whose wood can be used to create magically-enhanced musical items (flutes, etc.); and the spiny blackberry, which can, when consumed, heal ability damage caused by poison but if used in more-than-moderate amounts actually causes more ability damage (it?s not made clear, but I assume the spiny blackberry?s restorative powers heal damage caused by ingested poison as opposed to contact poison or the other poison types). Each of the plants is unique in their description, use and application, and cost. Rules are also given for locating and harvesting of each of the plants, and as a bonus, some of these plants even include a listing for plot hooks to help DMs incorporate these new plants into their game.


Even though at least two of the core classes ? the ranger and the druid ? have their feet firmly planted in nature, it?s rare to see a supplement devoted strictly to unique fantasy plants. Most of these plants can be harvested, and most of the core classes can make use of this material (a bard should be thrilled to have a flute made of wood from a celestial tree, for example). However, the psionic classes have no representation here; it would have been interesting to see a plant or two that would impact a psionic character.


The format of ?17 Plants? is as tight as The Le Games? other ?17?? products, but a few typos do creep into the text. These don?t distract from the overall text, however. This may sound like a ?niche? product, but it can definitely be used at your game table.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: There is a versatility to this product that I didn't expect when I first started reviewing it. This isn't just a collection of medicinal plants or magic berries; it's a fully-developed group of fantasy plants.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: There are a few typos in this well-formatted product. Also, it would have been nice to see the psionic classes represented in "17 Plants."<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
17 Plants
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17 Magic Rings
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/19/2006 00:00:00

This 21 page PDF (26 with cover, 1 page of ads, and multi-page OGC declaration) provides 17 magic rings, or 18 depending on how you count the friendship rings. Also included are 2 treasure tables incorporating these rings, and a couple of ?mini-plots?, adventure seeds for which the ?recipe? for one of the rings presented could be offered as a reward. Also included are 9 pages of ability, status, and spell descriptions from the SRD that provides ?? definitions for the various spells, abilities, and other effects that are used in this book. This is provided to minimize the need to sift through different manuscripts.? For some reason Calm Emotion was listed twice in my copy


The rings include Familial Band, Firebane Ring, Goodberry Band, Ring of Arrest, Ring of Concentration, Ring of Courage, Ring of Darksight, both a Dwarven and an Elven Ring of Friendship, Ring of Pacifism, Ring of Precision, Ring of Restoration & Ruin, Ring of Spell-Theft, Ring of Telepathy, Ring of Warning, Spectral Ring, Summoner?s Ring, and Wedding Bands.


For the most part the rings are pretty interesting, I liked Ring of Concentration, which allows a character bonus on Concentration checks, and allows him to transfer control of a spell requiring concentration to the Ring. However, this ring is listed as requiring Craft Universal Item, instead of Craft Ring, for some reason. The Ring of Warning is interesting too, glowing with different colors when the wearer is in the presence of certain monster types or hazards. The Spectral Ring is nice item too, creating a Spectral Hand effect which the wearer can use to deliver touch attacks for him. The Ring of Pacifism bestows a constant Sanctuary effect, as the spell. However, it doesn?t indicate what happens when the wearer makes an attack while wearing the ring, since by the normal spell description, the subject attacking negates the effect, yet the ring?s effect is described as permanent.


The PDF itself is laid out in a two column format with a solid blue header and footer with the product title and the company name, page number, and author name in yellow, respectively. The Ring section titles are done in a red font, with some section headings done in a blue font, which I found to be a rather dubious waste of colored ink, especially when coupled with the yellow text on solid blue header & footer. The body font is easy enough to read serif font. There are a few small pieces of art through out the text, two of a photograph of a simple band, done in gold and silver, a few line-art pieces of rings, one of which is fairly blurry looking, and a character headshot piece in the appendix. The art is of poor to decent quality, but for some reason I was expecting an ?h4wt chixxor? pic or two don?t know why though.


Overall this is a good product, with some interesting rings presented, however, the lack of explanation of how to handle the permanent Sanctuary effect of the Ring of Pacifism, the apparent error of listing the ring of concentration as requiring craft universal item, the numerous grammatical errors, and unnecessary padding of placing all the spell, ability, and condition descriptions, all of which are in the SRD and the core books, causes me to mark it down a point. So, if you are looking for a nice selection of magic rings and find the rings provided by this product interesting, I recommend it, but you should be prepared to adjudicate some effects yourself.


<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Ring of Concentration, Ring of Spell-Theft, Spectral Ring<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Wedding/Familial bands to expensive to be common item, padded text, pointless colored section text.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
17 Magic Rings
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NEO RANGERS: The Spider King
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/15/2006 00:00:00

?Neo Rangers: The Spider King? is The Le Games? follow-up to their fantastic ?Neo Paladins: The Martyr,? and as such, has some high expectations to live up to, especially since ?The Spider King? is written by The Le himself. Fortunately, these expectations are met as ?The Spider King? is much more than just another Unorthodox ranger variant. In fact, this character class, while obviously a ranger ?type,? stands on its own as an individual character option, and is highly recommended.


This supplement contains a full-color, fully bookmarked .pdf ready for instant use, as well as a less color-intensive/more printer-friendly version of the document. Additionally, you?ll find .rtf documents of the entire spider king class and the original ranger class from Wizards of the Coasts? System Reference Document. For review purposes, I evaluated the printer-friendly version of the .pdf.


?The Spider King? is presented as a fully-playable, fully-fleshed out character class. Writer The Le also handled the layout chores of this product, and he presents the spider king in the style consistent with the core player classes from the Dungeons & Dragons ?Player?s Handbook.? The formatting is tight and easy to read, making the spider king a class that can effortlessly be inserted into your D&D game.


The main difference between the spider king and the standard ranger is that instead of following the path of nature and its animals, the spider king, as its name implies, follows a more ?spider-ly? approach, viewing the spider as its link to nature. It?s not that much of a stretch, really, but this simple shift in focus makes the spider king an attractive player class.


The spider king retains the favored enemy bonus, and its hit dice and saving throw progressions are similar to the standard ranger, but instead of pursuing one of the ranger?s standard combat styles, the spider king gains Arachnid Style Combat. When a spider king is using this style of combat (it must be declared at the beginning of the combat round), the character receives a +1 dodge bonus to his or her AC. However, as the spider king is fighting in a much more defensive manner, he or she is penalized ?2 to all attack rolls and ?2 to all damage rolls.


Another unique class feature is the spider king?s Sixth Sense. Whenever an opponent of the spider king makes a successful melee or ranged attack roll that would normally hit the Neo Ranger, the spider king gains a 10% chance to avoid the attack outright as long as he or she retains his or her Dexterity bonus. When the spider king is using Arachnid Style Combat, the Sixth Sense increases by 5%.


Both the Arachnid Style Combat and Sixth Sense increase as the spider king progresses in level. Also, the spider king has a much more limited animal companion list and its spell list is more unique and includes a few spells not on the standard ranger?s spell list. At 8th level, the spider king gains the ability to make an Arachnid Strike, which not only deals hit point damage, but also Constitution damage. And it?s almost a given that this class gains the ability to cast ?spider climb? as the spell as it progresses in level.


The spider king is a fully-formed character class that will fit nicely into your standard D&D game or campaign. As a player (with your DM?s approval, of course), this class provides a different look at the ranger by focusing its attention on something other than the animals of the natural world. As a DM, this class could provide interesting opponents or allies for your players. Either way, this supplement is well worth the price and the downloading time (both of which are quite manageable).<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: This is a unique character class that is well-balanced and well-presented. It's much more than just a variant ranger; 'The Spider King' stands on its own as a character class option. This supplement is easy to use, and includes three appendixes for additional information about the class. (The class description isn't interrupted with the injection of a description of the Eveasion feat; instead this, as well as a description of the 'spider climb' spell, is all tucked away unobtrusively in the appendixes. This is a much-preferred layout choice.)<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The spider king is such a unique character class that I can't imagine a character created using this material would look like a typical ranger. 'Neo Rangers: The Spider King' uses some artwork of spiders themselves, but there is still some of the more typical Elmore-ian fantasy artwork throughout the supplement. This doesn't necessarily detract from the product overall, but it would have been nice to see more consistency in the art choices. (I'm still giving this product five stars, however!)<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NEO RANGERS: The Spider King
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UNORTHODOX Knights
by Geoffrey B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2006 00:00:00

Battle Knight: The Tank. Lots of bonuses to negate Armor penalty and give a bit better movement, some cool charging bonuses and some AC increase. Tank.


Chevalier Amour: A fun class. Uses skills alot. Gets bonuses to fight for his true love and to escape perilous situations. Would be fun to Role-Play if your party isn't stuffy. "Look a Monkey" is my favorite feat ever.


Knight of Frost: A sworn warrior from the evil and cold North. Gains frost abilities, eventually gaining the cold subtype.


Knight of the Road: I like this class, but the art doesn't seem to fit the description. . . A wandering Knight who gains some cool abilities. Sword sling is like backstab except only for when you start the fight with a flat-footed opponent and your sword sheathed. I like that because it will make the knight work to gain this advantage so they can use this awesome attack. The "Traveler's" abilities are cool, but they describe it through a points system that is the same as the # of times per day. I'm not a huge fan of mounts, and while I understand a wandering knight using a beloved horse I've just never liked them. I also don't like summoning the horse, I would definately limit that in my campaign.


Knight of the Broken Tusk: A half-orc special. I like this class, it gains lots of tough combat abilities and some good leadership type abilities. This of course is offset with being a Half-Orc and swearing devotion to the order. There are some guidelines for adventuring, and a stern warning not to abandon the group as you wander about. I like the "smite" they have in this character, but I would rename it because it doesn't act like other smites at all.


Lanternian Knight: The repentant warrior seeks to undo his crimes fromt he past. I like this class. It's especially usefull to me because I have an Everquest fan who had to play as a Dark Knight, but has become a Good Dark Knight. . . I am definately going to give him the option to use this class after I kick him out of Dark. Some cool abilities, and great role-playing opportunity, especially if you involve the characters mysterious and dark past.


Blind Blade: Prestige class. Interesting, and gives blindsense and later blindsight. has a lot of cool roleplaying potential and would be a great option for a character who was blinded. I would use this on a low level character who didn't meet the requirements and once they got blindsense let them take other class levels again. This doesn't seem powerful enough to warant a character voluntarily blinding themself.


I like all of these classes and I think they are easier to integrate than other of the Unorthodox Jobs. Knights of Frost are going to make a nasty series of intrusions into my campaign as NPC's. One of the bonus of getting these books is throwing in NPC's to go with the party that fight differently than the party. It actually has a few people wanting to try the Unorthodox jobs themselves.
<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: Very easy to integrate as NPC or PC. Much better job on that part than the other books. (at least for my campaigns) I liked the Lanternian Knight and Blind Blade for their ability to come into play in a campaign when things go differently than expected. Chevalier Amour sounded dumb at first, but it really is a well thought out class and would be a lot of fun to play and especially to role-play. All of the Unorthodox jobs give a little boost to the Role-play side, valuable if you have some gamers who don't do a very good job of creating their character.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Not so keen on the battle knight, It is my least favorite of the jobs, it just screams tank at you, although it has some other really cool abilities. Not a big complaint, I would still let someone play the class. If they want to be the tank.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
UNORTHODOX Knights
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Unorthodox Paladins
by Geoffrey B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/01/2006 00:00:00

I really like this book, and have used 2 classes so far, one a tag-along NPC and another for an antagonist, and both went very well.


I like that a few don't get spells, but have some divine style spell-like abilities.


My favorits so far are the "Hooks" who are inspired a bit it seems by the Spanish Inquisition style church. (No cumfy chairs here though) Their abilities to interrigate and create fear and pain are sweet for Gods that need some dirty work done, or the less nice religious orders out there.


My second favorite would be the "Fist of God" who is a bit monk like but is incredibly focused on combat with various divine attributes. Not as overpowered as I thought, but a min/maxer might do a better job of exploiting the job and make it too strong. That should be mostly taken care of with the demands for diff attributes to be decent that the job has. I was very attracted to the unblinking devotion and power it brought, a very nice addition to any campaign involving a questionable church.


I also liked the Pld that were devoted to balance, a very fitting character that can gain bonuses to fight against good or evil, chaotic or lawful but only in the cause of balancing these forces. It would be a great PC if the GM was willing to commit to checking their use of what would otherwise be a lot of power without this check of it's use.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: I liked the idea and execution of this product, The classes were well thought out, and the ones I tried out worked great and were fun without unbalancing.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: I was hoping the "Echo Paladin" would use some songs or brd skills but they just had some vocal abilities. I've read this class over numerous times, and I just don't get it. The other 5 are very good.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unorthodox Paladins
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Unorthodox Barbarians
by Geoffrey B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/01/2006 00:00:00

I got this book as part of the Bundle with Unorthodox Paladins and Monks. It?s a great buy if I might say so. This book was my second favorite out the group (I got it mainly for the PLD one) as I generally dislike Barbarians in general. All of these variants are useful in some circumstances that would allow their specialization to shine. The Conqueror and Savage Screamer are more easily integrated, but the others will still make very good NPC?s in campaigns that they don?t work as PC?s. The most limited one in my opinion would be the Planar marauder, as you would almost have to create a campaign focused around this character. If you aren?t using planes a lot then they would be very out of place, but they still would make a great villain, having to track down these disappearing warriors could be very interesting.


My favorite is the Corsair. This is the big guy that the scheming captain has managed to get unswervingly loyal to him. You know the big Pirate holding off at least 5 of the Royal Navy?s best. In a land fight he?s not bad, but put him on a ship deck in a storm and he?s a Juggernaut.


Savage Screamer seems fun, unless your characters get into their parts too much and your neighbors have ears. Interesting abilities and fun descriptions, I don?t know if my pc?s will try it, I might have to throw one in myself.


Wild Riders are like the Corsair for Horses, very focused on fighting from horseback, would be weaker in dungeons or cities.


The conqueror should be popular, every group has someone willing to forego all defenses if it means they can hit really hard. This one gets the ?Most likely to roll bad and die early? award, but it seems balanced and fun.


Corsair was a big hit, everyone wants to do a Pirate campaign now.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: The Corsair and Savage Screamer look cool, Conqueror will no doubt have fans, and I don't mind that. Wild Rider could be fun if your campaign fits.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: I didn't like the Planar Marauder, no problem with the class, I just don't like using the planes in my world, so I don't like a class that's all about them, that's the only complaint I have.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unorthodox Barbarians
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UNORTHODOX Rogues
by Geoffrey B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/01/2006 00:00:00

I got this in the Bundle with Unorthodox Knights and Druids.


I value this book more for the characters it creates than the classes. The classes themselves seemed more suited to NPCs than PCs, unless you are much better at coming up with ways to play them. They make great NPCs and Antagonists, I?ll go through them quick and give my impression. Note, everyone gets backstab, but some get a weaker one.


Fabricator: Trap master. This would work great as a friend to your party, can train the rogue and build interesting little things for them, as a PC though they are just one aspect of Rogues taken and specialized. Make a great enemy because their traps are wicked and could really make for some nasty fights. Especially if you had to fight one in his lair.


Layabout: The most usable by PCs in my opinion. Uses social connections a sharp wit and natural charisma to get himself in to any group and mooch off them, not useless in a fight, but not too inclined to help. Would be a good character for someone you are familiar with and who could handle an unconventional character who sometimes might have a sore knee just when the fight is about to start. Also a good contact or NPC tagalong to the party to spice things up and bleed some cash.


The Seductress: Only problem I have with this character is that they have no ambition to join a group and adventure with them for more than a short time. A good side character, a very interesting friend of the party (esp if you got some with money to spend) Has connections and could help your party, but I don?t know why they would stick around and go fight orcs. A very interesting character I will somehow find a way to use, but I don?t think she?ll ever make a good PC. Could start some fights in your party if your players would be into that.


The Shroud: A grave robber. Has the ability to get a corpse to give up it?s secrets. Could work in a party with a Necromancer, even if they supposedly compete for corpses, the shroud doesn?t really use the corpse, just gets info from it. That ability makes me want to put it into a party, kill that rogue then find out who sent it while it?s freshly dead. A decent villain, but best would be the rogue of a freaky evil-necro party.


Skulker: A great villain if you want a crazy mystery story. Can hide in plainsight by hiding in little spaces and disguising itself. Read the intro to it in the demo and you?ll see the character really well. Might not work for PC. ?It?s day four, and you are still hiding in the corner of the living room under the couch, roll to resist starvation.? I think you could use this character if you had someone willing to be different and use it well. I would make a maximum strength score for this class though, you aren?t too strong if you are that thin.


The prestige classes are alright, the Ward Boss is nasty, the Backstabber I don?t buy, it?s just too given. The Saintly Thief I actually made our Good Rogue?s mentor one of these, cause it works, and I might open the class for them. The alias rules and bonuses are a cool idea.
<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: The back story really brought these characters to life, and gave me plenty of ideas for use as side characters.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: They didn't seem the best fit for players to use, much better as NPC's.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
UNORTHODOX Rogues
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ARTIFACTS: Ducks of Ultimate Doom
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/22/2006 00:00:00

The humorously titled Artifacts I: Ducks of Ultimate Doom is a book of artifacts from The Le Games. The book takes its name from one of the artifacts it details: a set of magical wooden ducks. Each artifact is given game statistics and a brief history. There are 21 magic items in total.


The very first things that grabbed my attention, unfortunately, were the typos. The errors aren?t the worst I?ve seen, but they?re obvious enough that I?m not sure how the author missed them. It seems like every other page or so contains a few small typos or grammatical errors. They?re minor, but they add up.


The ideas in Ducks of Doom are clever. Their presentation, however, is not up to industry standards. Reading this product, I get a real sense of the author?s enthusiasm. He has some cool ideas, he?s just not the most skilled at presenting them in a manner consistent with d20 conventions. The item descriptions are unnecessarily confusing and wordy, and could have been clarified by simply emulating the magic item write-ups in the DMG.


For example, I scratched my head when I first read that the Aegis armor ?contains 2 charges, which are regenerated daily. The wearer may use these charge[sic] to enchant the armor (or himself) with one magical property for up to one hour.? Wouldn?t it have been easier to say ?twice per day, the wearer can activate one of the following abilities?? The wording problems are worse, I think, because they take away from otherwise interesting and creative magical items.


Other design issues are more subtle. For some reason, many of the artifacts scale in power based on the level of the character wielding them. While there?s no problem with this mechanically (you might even think it?s a good idea), it makes these items different than artifacts as otherwise defined in a conventional d20 campaign. The book explains this design decision?to a degree. The author contends that different D&D campaigns have different perceptions on what constitutes a powerful magic item, thus artifacts should scale accordingly. While that?s technically true, the default rules are built around an assumed magic item progression. In other words, unless you?re playing a very heavily house-ruled campaign, a +2 magic sword will never rightly be considered a very powerful magical weapon (as the book suggests). If the author understands the underlying magic item progression of the default rules, why design artifacts this way?


Other than the mechanics, each item is given a bit of history. Unfortunately, the detailed histories are so full of references to kingdoms and power groups that they?re useless. I could rewrite them so that they mesh with my campaign world of choice, but that would defeat the purpose of having them in this book. What would have been better, I think, would have been to include histories that pulled from thematic elements common to generic D&D.


I hate to be so hard on The Le. I rather like many of the magic items in this book, and the product is very inexpensive. If The Le could take some extra time to clean up their grammar and mechanics, I think they could put out some really great PDFs.


<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: If you?re looking for some neat items that you could use in your campaign with just a little work, this book is worth the price.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: I hesitated to give this one 2 stars, since I do like many of the items?but the poor game mechanic descriptions and writing issues were too much to call this book a 3. Sadly, its below the bar of expectations. The artifacts in Ducks of Doom could be used without too much trouble in most D&D campaigns, but the presentation just doesn?t meet d20 standards. The rules are poorly described and the item histories aren't very useful as written.


Call my final rating 2.5 stars.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
ARTIFACTS: Ducks of Ultimate Doom
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NEO PALADINS: The Martyr
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/19/2006 00:00:00

It might be easy to dismiss ?Neo Paladins: The Martyr? as leftover material that maybe didn?t make the cut when The Le Games previously released ?Unorthodox Paladins,? but players that don?t look at this new supplement will be missing out on a unique, creative and fully-playable core class that serves as both a variant to one of the standard classes (in this case, the paladin), but is also strong enough to stand as its own advanceable-to-20th-level character option.


Taking the approach that "not all holy warriors further the cause of good at the point of a sword," the martyr is a class devoted to living his or her life in pursuit of ideal good and lawfulness, regardless of the cost. A martyr does not play recklessly, despite the fact that he or she does not fear death if it means living up to his or her goals. Instead, a martyr views most every encounter as a test of faith, striving to serve as an example of his or her ideals.


The martyr's similarity to the paladin is evident; many of its class features are divine in nature. Writer James M. Spahn's effort here is evident, however. Despite its similarity to the paladin, or even the cleric, the martyr is truly a unique class, well designed and well balanced. In fact, in the right campaign and in the right (and perhaps ambitious) hands, the martyr could even replace the paladin.


This supplement delivers all it advertises, and that's it. There's not necessarily anything wrong with this. Players should be aware, however, that there are no feats, no spells, or no magic items included with this product. It is ONLY a new character class.


Fortunately, this is all this supplement needs.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: This is a complete character class packet, ready to use and immediately playable.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: When paladins, clerics, fighters, etc., are written about in the Player's Handbook, capitalizing the first letter of the character class names is not done. A MINOR nitpick in "Neo Paladins: The Martyr" is that the martyr class is constantly given this first-letter-capitilization, turning the martyr into a the Martyr. This is a such a small aspect of this otherwise excellent product.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NEO PALADINS: The Martyr
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(Su) Monsters: The Headless Horseman
by Simon B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2006 00:00:00

Great product that has helped me out greatly. A definite "must-get" for fans of the Headless Horseman.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
(Su) Monsters: The Headless Horseman
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17 Necromancer Spells
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2006 00:00:00

This product provides the requisite Goth that could be expected from a series of new necromantic spells - no surprises here. In fact, it has a very folkloric feel to it, in the sense of presenting spells that feel like old standards even if they're new.


Undead steed is a good idea with a great illustration. Zombie decoy is a creepy little idea though I'm not sure what you would do with it.


Unfortunately, a lot of the mechanics are badly and, worse, unclearly written and I have problems with the assigned levels.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
17 Necromancer Spells
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17 Necromancer Spells
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/09/2006 00:00:00

(UPDATE: Within days of this initial review, The Le Games found and corrected the formatting errors referenced in this review. While I've not changed the review, I do want to express my admiration of The Le Games for finding and correcting these mistakes.)


"17 Necromancer Spells" is another installment in The Le Games' popular 17 Series. After a too-brief introduction that falsely promises 18 new necromancy spells, writer Tony DiGerolamo introduces us to a magic item called the skin of the bone keeper. Traditionally, The Le Games includes more than the titular offerings in their 17 Series, so this one magic item isn't quite of place. It is designed with the necromancer in mind, and rather than strictly offering a new special ability or enhanced spell-casting options (although a GM's Option for adding additional spell casting is mentioned), the skin of the bone keeper offers a unique character enhancement in the form of gaining experience points. Unfortunately, a price for this item is not included.


The spells run the gamut from 0-level spells, or cantrips, to one concluding 9th-level spell. Obviously, with the uneven numbers involved (17 spell listings and 9 spell levels, excluding the cantrips), it's impossible to have an equal number of spells per level, but the spells do seem to progress rather well as they increase in level and potency. A necromancer could easily add these spells to his or her spellbook without suffering from being overpowered; the creators of "17 Necromancy Spells" worked hard to balance their spells and make them easy-to-insert into the core Dungeons & Dragons spell listings. Spells that deserve special mention include "gusher of blood" (a 2nd-level spell) which allows the necromancer to cut him- or herself to create a spray of blood that does no damage to its victim, but rather blinds him or her; "sleep of the grave" (a 6th-level spell) that grants the necromancer restful and restorative sleep granting accelerated hit point recovery in a grave; and "flesh shape" (a 7th-level spell) that, with a touch, grants the necromancer the ability to change the appearance, and Strength, Constitution and Dexterity, of a specific individual (which, as the text points out, would useful in that the necromancer could cast this on a zombie, making the undead appear as the necromancer him- or herself, and then faking his or her own death!). As these examples show, not all of the spells are blatantly offensive spells, and I like that a great deal.


However, the layout of ?17 Necromancer Spells' is a bit distracting. It follows the format of other installments in the 17 Series - two columns per page - but it feels as if more care could have been taken in keeping like-leveled spells on the same page or even keeping spell titles from being placed at the bottom of the column preceding the actual spell description. Additionally, the missing 18th spell promised in the introduction seems to have been truncated somehow. Page 6 ends with the closing description of the 4th-level spell "drain youth," but Page 7 opens in what appears to be mid-spell description for a spell that may have something to do with preserving limbs. This is an awkward bit of formatting and editing that overshadows some of more nit-picky yet present incorrect elements - not italicizing all spell names, capitalizing some words that shouldn't be, etc.


The spells themselves in "17 Necromancer Spells" are well thought out and well written, but the presentation causes the entire book to suffer.<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: The spells are unique and offer a great deal of flavor and versatility to your necromancer class. Also, The Le Games seems committed to supporting their products after their initial release, as evidenced by their quick correction of the Portrait version of "17 Necromancer Spells."<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>-
: There are still some minor formatting issues, and while "17 Necromancer Spells" follows the same layout of The Le's other products in their 17 Series, the page breaks and column layout could have been presented in a more uniform way.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Please note that I have confirmed that there is indeed a 5th level spell missing from the Portrait version of this product. However, this error does not exist in the Landscape version, nor does it exist in the Rich Text Format version. In anycase, I have corrected the error, and revised the product to reflect this. Anyone who has previously purchased this product has received a new download link to get the revised version. Thanks for being a loyal customer! -The Le (pronounced Tay Lee)
17 Magic Rings
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2006 00:00:00

The Le Games? 17 magic rings actually presents 18 magic rings. I?ve read other The Le products that contain more than the 17 what-evers listed in the title, so I?m beginning to wonder if it isn?t some kind of inside joke. Each magic ring includes a physical description and appropriate game mechanics. This product also includes a small section with adventure ideas, treasure tables including the new magic rings, and an appendix of some of the open gaming content used in the product. Most of this additional material feels kind of tacked-on, and there really isn?t anything inspiring or must have here.


The meat of this product is the list of magic rings. There is a pretty good range of rings presented here, and the designers tried to give each one a unique flavor. Sometimes the flavor worked for me, and sometimes it didn?t. I really liked the Spectral Ring, which gloves your hand in a permanent shadow that you can then send out to deliver touch spells. The Ring of Warning is another ring that I liked. This ring subtly glows when in the presence of certain types of danger. It?s up to the player to determine, through trial and error, what kind of danger each color indicates. In the hands of the right player, discovering the ring?s various effects could be a fun side quest over the course of multiple adventures.


Where ideas didn?t work for me, the issues were largely ones of personal taste. The Wedding Bands come immediately to mind. These twin rings are meant to be worn by a married couple. They give the wearers the ability to monitor one another?s well being, provide protection to each other, and allow limited teleportation. All fine and well mechanically, but the idea of them as wedding rings somehow bugs me. I don?t see PCs getting married to one another too often, and I don?t really my NPCs shelling out 164,000gp on a pair of magic wedding rings. Add to this the Familial Bands, which are basically the exact same magic item (with slight differences), and I?m left feeling doubly flat.


17 Magic Rings unfortunately contains a few grammatical and mild mechanical problems. While none of the grammar errors are terrible, they are really easy to spot in a product this short. A thorough editing job and a few rewrites would improve the book?s overall clarity.


The mechanical errors are a little more problematic. Take, for example, the Ring of Pacifism. The item description says that, while wearing this ring, a character is under the protection of a permanent Sanctuary spell. The description of Sanctuary in the Player?s Handbook notes that the spell is cancelled if the recipient makes an attack. So, what happens when a character wearing a Ring of Pacifism does the same? Is the spell effect cancelled for that encounter? Is it negated vs the target attacked? Something else?


There are a few rings that I probably wouldn?t allow in my campaign, and a few that I would allow only with some rules modifications. I?m also confused as to why the ring of Concentration requires Craft Universal Item rather than Forge Ring. Is that a typo, or an intentional design decision? If it?s the latter, the product should have said so.


An experienced DM can probably adjudicate this situation without too much effort, but he or she wouldn?t have to if the Ring of Pacifism description was better written. The Le Games seems to be writing to gamers with the experience to ?read between the lines? and extrapolate what they meant from what they said. While their assumption is probably correct, unclear rules don?t fly in a modern d20 fantasy product.


Fortunately, the writing problems are, at their worst, a minor hindrance. There are enough clever ideas in this product to make it worth the price of admission. My players can expect to stumble upon at least a couple of these rings sometime in my latest homebrew campaign.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: A nice variety of magical rings, at least a few of which are good enough to steal for your own campaign. If you?re looking for a magic ring or two, you?re likely to find something you can use in this product.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: I have to take away points from my final score for a few grammatical errors and places where the rules weren?t as clear as they should have been. I?m also not as fond of some of the more mundane or less creative rings. If I could easily think it up on my own, I probably already have stats for it in my campaign.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
17 Magic Rings
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Unorthodox Bards
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/30/2006 00:00:00

Unorthodox Bard


The Bard is my favorite class. It has been that way since first edition though back then it was much more difficult to be one. Then in second edition they made the bard a regular class and the best supplement the Complete Bard?s Handbook. Now that third edition is out I?ve had the opportunity to play a single calls bard from first to twentieth level. I am one of the few to do this and have gained some great insight into the class and its strengths and weaknesses. May people say the Bard is a weak class and I reply that the Bard is strong but it?s tough to play. Most people seem to want the Bard to be something it is not. There is a series of books out now in the Unorthodox series. I have reviewed a fair amount of them and I have been pretty critical on them. So I have been waiting to see what they do with my favorite class for a little while. The Bard does not get enough support and I have made attempts to get everything that expands the class.

The Unorthodox series by The Le Games is a series of class books. Unlike other class books they usually only consist of new variants of the core classes. I say usually because the Unorthodox Bard is the one that breaks that. It does have the five new bard variants but it also has two new prestige classes and two artifacts. Unorthodox Bards comes in a zip file a little under five megs in size. Inside is a read me file, a PDF for on screen viewing and a PDF for printing, and a rich text version of the book. The art in the book is pretty average for the series but the layout has more white spaces then I remember in the others. The book is well book marked.

Unorthodox Bard starts with the five variant classes. The new classes are always very close to original; they rarely change hit die, skills or skill points, base attack, or saves. Usually it is the special abilities that are altered.

The Minstrel is a typical archetype of the Bard. Many people have complained that the Bard is too Minstrel oriented, but this alternate core class really shows the true differences. And the difference is the spells. Instead of getting the traditional bard spells the Minstrel gets spell like abilities that use its music. The class is not going to be more combat oriented then the Bard but its abilities are very much in line with the ideas behind the class.

The Skald is another great Bard archetype. They get better hit points and good fort save instead of a good reflex save. They also don?t have the bard like spells. They get the ability to inscribe magic runes. It is a great detail that really fits the archetype.

Soothsayer has more powers that deal with divination. They get the Bard spell casting as well as the knowledge domain. As they gain levels they get some really good divination powers. This seems like a better way to do traditional divinations.

The Spellsinger takes the idea that a Bard needs a verbal component to cast spells and runs with it. They don?t get bardic knowledge or the bard songs but they do get the spell casting as well as additional musical spell powers.

Toubad?war is a lover and a fighter. It gets a mix of love and war abilities along with the traditional bard spells. IT does get less skill points and a good fort save instead of a good will save.

The Muse is a prestige class that is very easy to gain. All one needs is Bardic music ability and some ranks in the perform skill, any perform skill. Each level they can choose a different song that inspires allies in a different way. There are only five levels and only five different options.

The Protectorate is another prestige class. It has the exact same requirements as the Muse. It is another five level prestige class that gains abilities but not spells as one takes levels in it.

The book is a definite improvement over the other books in the series. I found the classes and prestige classes very fitting in the theme of bards and that abilities these classes gain cannot be gained through multi classing or feats.

<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: nice variety<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Just doesn't take the class far enough to explore the bard<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Unorthodox Bards
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