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Unorthodox Witches
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/15/2006 00:00:00

The new classes in Unorthodox Witches all contain elements commonly associated with the mythology of witches. No one class really mimics the classical witch, however, which is a bit of a disappointment. Since there isn?t a witch class within the D&D core rules, it would have been interesting to see at least a core or prestige class in this product that attempted to emulate the potion-brewing, broom rider of mythology. As it is, we have potion-brewers and we have broom riders, but we don?t have a lot of both.

As a whole, the new classes are a pretty creative takes on the idea of ?witches.? The Beguiler is a magical charmer, the Crescent Flyer the iconic broom rider, and the Wyrd One is a mistress of fate. Other classes include the Gyria, the Moon Dancer, and the Shade Summoner.

The Le?s art is good for a small publisher. Unorthodox Witches uses some pieces by Larry Elmore, as well as some well-chosen clip art. The art?s not up to the full-color illustrations of Wizards of the Coast, but it goes a long to adding to the book?s professional look.

I?ve criticized some of The Ley?s past projects for poor writing and editing. While there are a number of small errors, Unorthodox Witches doesn?t seem to suffer from the volume of mistakes I?ve seen in other products. There are instances of what I found to be poor wording, but the class flavor and rules intent rarely suffer adversely because of it. A particularly humorous mistake can be found in the Shade Summoner?s insanities chart, in which the authors continually use the word ?the Player? where they actually mean ?the character.? As in, ?the Player gains an eating disorder.? That?s one heck of a committed roleplayer.

Game balance is at times questionable, although for some reason The Ley tends to lean toward underpowered when they make these mistakes. The Crescent Flyer, for example, gains a favored enemy ability every few levels. While favored enemy is a logical power given the class?s description, I?m not sure how useful a bonus to damage would be to a non-combat class. The additional bonuses that the ability provides to Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks would probably balance things out a bit?if the Crescent Flyer actually had more than one of these skills on her class list.

The Moon Dancer is another victim of really underpowered class abilities. Many of her powers hinge on her ability to make a successful skill check during a certain event or time of the day. In one case, all she gets for her effort is the ability to prepare spells from the cleric?s Sun domain. That seems like a lot of in-game work to go through just to gain the ability to prepare Heat Metal.

In another example, the Wyrd One, whose powers deal with the manipulation of fate and fortune, doesn?t get any kind of luck ability until 13th level. At that point, she gains the power to reroll up to three failed saving throws per day. Note that a cleric with access to the Luck domain can reroll any roll once per day starting at first level. The Wyrd?s ability is slightly better (if only because it can be used more times per day), but why must she wait 13 levels to acquire it?

It?s a shame that the Wyrd One?s abilities aren?t better designed, because the idea of a woman that pulls the threads of fate is very?witchy. The non-mechanic aspects of the class, particularly the names and descriptions of the class abilities, are very evocative. Still, as cool as ?Fire Burns and Cauldron Bubbles? sounds, it?s disappointing to learn that it simply allows the Wyrd One to boil a whole cauldron of water in 1d6 rounds. Granted, there is no listed game benefit to doing so, but hey?that?s a whole cauldron of water.

All of this isn?t to say that there aren?t good things to be found in Unorthodox Witches. The Gyria is a clever class seemingly inspired by the legends of the gypsies. The Shade Summoner, which is probably the best designed class of the whole group, is a Summoner that specializes in conjuring up ghosts and other spirits. I have small balance concerns with both of these classes, but nothing that can?t be easily fixed with a few slight modifications.

I think the best part of Unorthodox Witches is the ideas behind the classes. Instead of giving generic witch classes, The Ley has designed a half-dozen core classes (plus one prestige) that positively drip with witchy flavor.

The book ends with a number of new magic items, called Baubles and Urus. These are a new kind of magic item that can be infused with an existing weapon, shield, or other bit of gear. Once so infused, the target item gains certain powers depending on the bauble / uru used. I have mixed feeling about this section. The concept isn?t a bad one, and some of the powers are certainly useful, but there is a major flaw: I can?t find a price on a single bauble. Also, this section really has nothing whatsoever to do with witches in general, or any of the classes presented in this book. Since it?s just an appendix and it seems to be tacked on as an added bonus, I?ve decided not to alter my final score based on this section.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: I didn?t realize that my D&D game needed some kind of witch class until I downloaded this book. Some of the ideas here are very cool, and a reworked version of a few of these classes will probably find a home in my campaign. A appreciate the flavor given to each class, and an honest effort was made to fit each concept into the overall fantasy milieu.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: There are enough small errors (both in the design and the writing) that I can?t give Unorthodox Witches better than three stars. It does very well with flavor and concept, but it falls through too often when it comes to actual design and implementation.

So, I guess its three for effort.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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NEO MONKS: The Dragonlord
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/05/2006 00:00:00

The Le Games? ?Neo Monks: The Dragonlord? takes one of the traditional player classes ? the monk ? and presents, as the title suggests, a ?new monk.? This class is less a variant of the standard monk, however, and more a completely new class with monk-like tendencies.

The Le is the writer behind this product, and also handled the layout. This supplement comes with both a printer-friendly version of the product, as well as a screen-friendly version. Both versions are presented in an easy-to-read/easy-to-use format, and for purposes of this review, the print-version was used.

The dragonlord is a fully-developed 20-level playable class. The class? roots are definitely monastic; many of the dragonlord?s abilities are derived from deep meditation and reflection. As one would assume, many of the class abilities are dragon-related. A dragonlord receives Dragon Knowledge (a bonus to all dragon-related knowledge checks and a +1 bonus to all attack roles versus dragons) and Dragon Meditation (the ability to meditate for an hour to receive a full night?s rest and healing) at his or her first level. Many of the other class abilities are tied into the dragonlord?s Soul Points, a points-based mechanic introduced here that allows the dragonlord to receive abilities as varied as Soul Edge (adding a +2 bonus to the dragonlord?s next attack roll or saving throw), Dragon Reciprocation (granting the character an additional attack of opportunity), or Dragon Stomp (allowing the dragonlord to, when jumping 10 feet into the air, landing with enough force to cause a tremor within a 20-foot radius).

Even though the common monk abilities like Improved Unarmed Strike and Evasion are also listed among the dragonlord?s class abilities, this Soul Points system really sets this class apart, and not in the best of ways. I found this new mechanic to be a bit too clunky and a bit at odds with the established d20 system in that it is a bit unwieldy to use easily. The affects of the dragonlord?s abilities are unique and bring an interesting flavor to this unique class, but keeping track of and using these Soul Points adds an unnecessary component of complexity to the game. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The presentation, the layout, and the art are all brought together in this professional-looking package. Even though stock art was used in "Neo Monks: The Dragonlord," the art used adds to the overall supplement. Also, The Le Games has been great about including multiple versions of their products in each download. This package includes a printer-friendly version, a screen-friendly version and a Word-document version of "Neo Monks: The Dragonlord," and also includes a .pdf of the core monk class for reference and comparison.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: As mentioned above, I did not find the implementation of the Soul Points to add anything of benefit to the class. I felt it to be a bit cumbersome, and would prefer to see the class abilities that are dependent on the Soul Points enjoyed by PCs in some other fashion. Also, as a nitpick, there is no reason to capitalize the letter 'D' of dragonlord in this material. As the core rulebooks do not capitalize the 'C' in cleric of the 'F' in fighter, this was slightly distracting.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
NEO MONKS: The Dragonlord
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the comments! During testing, we found that the players were very happy with the abundant number of Soul Points, allowing the Dragonlord to go toe-to-toe with a fighter or barbarian! While we understand that some are uninterested in keeping track of daily Soul Points, we also determined that all our playtesters found this aspect to be as simple as keeping track of Hit Points and/or Action Points (from the modern system). Still not convinced? Well, we encourage everyone reading this to download and check out the free demo! The Le Games ? We Enhance Worlds.
17 Necromancer Spells
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/31/2006 00:00:00

17 Necromancer Spells is a short book from The Le Games. The zipped file is just over 2 megabytes in size, containing five files; two PDFs and an RTF of the product, a JPG of the cover, and a text readme file.

The two PDFs are an onscreen-viewing PDF in landscape format, and a printable version which is in portrait format. The former is seventeen pages long, while the latter is sixteen. Both have no table of contents, but full bookmarks. Each PDF has a single page for the cover and credits, three pages for the OGL, and a page of advertisements.

Both PDFs contain artwork, both color and black-and-white. Curiously, the art is rearranged between the two products, with at least one picture being in one PDF but not the other.

The product opens with a single magic item, and here problems immediately begin. This item has no creation information given, nor any of the standard magic item statistics. While the item is still interesting, this lack of conforming to basic standards is disconcerting.

After that come the spells. Despite the name of the product, 17 Necromancer Spells actually contains eighteen spells. The spells are listed in ascending order of spell level, from 0 through 9; each spell level has two new spells listed, except for the last two spell levels ? there?s only one eighth and one ninth level spells listed. While the spells are interesting, errors creep in; the spell Zombie Decoy refers to the corpse it enchants as being a material component, as opposed to a focus.

17 Necromancer Spells is a good product, but one that could have been much better than it was. Had this book gone through editing a few more times, the spells (and item) it contains would be truly spectacular in their necromantic power. As it is, they?re still useful with some GM polishing, but not all they could have been. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The necromancy spells in here are useful to any arcane spellcaster, not just necromancers.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The material here needed more editing to make it truly shine.<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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NEO MONKS: The Dragonlord
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2006 00:00:00

Neo Monks: The Dragonlord is a book detailing a variant monk class from The Le Games. The zipped file is 3.32 megabytes, and contains a grand total of nine files, one of which is a text readme file describing the others.

Three of those files are advertisements, each in PDF form. They?re already moved into a folder (appropriately labeled ?Shameless Advertisements?) when you unzip the main zip file. There are ads for several feat-related products (1 page), Disposable Heroes (1 page), and Neo Rangers: The Spider King (3 pages).

The cover of the product is a separate JPG file, whereas the file itself is given in three forms. The first one is an onscreen PDF with the book laid out in landscape form. The second is a printable file (though it?s not printer-friendly) laid out in portrait format. The last one is a Rich Text File of the book.

Both of the PDF versions of this book are fully bookmarked, though there?s no table of contents (nor is one necessary). The onscreen PDF is twenty-one pages long, with one page for the credits, two pages for the OGL, and one page for legal information. The printable PDF breaks down the same way, but from a total of eighteen pages.

The PDF files both have several pieces of black and white artwork spread throughout them, including two by Larry Elmore.

The dragonlord is a new base class presented in this product. The book opens its presentation of the class with PHB-style information, such as characteristics, religion, background, etc. before it gets to the class abilities. While it has several monk-like abilities, don?t be fooled into thinking this is anything like the monk you know. The first major difference is that there?s no alignment requirement, to say nothing of no multiclass restrictions.

The dragonlord has a wide variety of powers, many of them dragon-inspired. The majority of their class skills are predicated upon one of two things: either using their dragon meditation in the previous twenty-four hours, or expending a soul point ? soul points being a small pool of points that are renewed every day, kept expressly for being spent on a dragonlord?s powers. A new feat, Soul Mastery, is introduced, which grants an additional soul point each time you take it.

Appendix A is three pages listing seven spells from the PHB. This is most likely done because several of the dragonlord?s abilities can mimic PHB spells, and these are reprinted here for ease of reference. However, I found that to be wasted space, since it?s a virtual guarantee that everyone will have access to the PHB (or SRD) whenever necessary, particularly during game play or character creation. This space would have been better spent on additional information about the dragonlord, such as an epic progression.

Altogether, Neo Monks: The Dragonlord is an excellent supplement for a change of pace. It?s still undeniably a monastic character, but offers a boldly different choice from the standard monk. The Dragonlord isn?t just a breath of fresh air for the monk; it?s a breath weapon of it. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The Dragonlord is still a recognizably monastic character, but with innovative new powers and abilities that make him a world apart from the traditional monk.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The last three pages of reprinted PHB spells could instead have been used to include further new material.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
NEO MONKS: The Dragonlord
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17 Plants
by Jeff T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2006 00:00:00

Decent product, with a homemade appearance. The idea behind the product is nice, but there are many more options out there that have more for us to use on similar topics. However, not too bad for the price.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The print-friendly version is available.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Some of the magical effects of some plants are too powerful, and should be much more valuable.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
17 Plants
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17 Plants
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/24/2006 00:00:00

17 Plants is a supplement from The Le Games. The zipped file is just under 3.5 megabytes, and contains four files; two PDFs, an RTF document, and a plain text readme file. Both PDFs contain bookmarks, and all of the files have a non-hyperlinked table of contents.

The two PDFs are broken up into a screen-viewing PDF, and a printable PDF. The screen-viewing PDF is 32 pages long, including a page for the credits and table of contents, two pages for the OGL, a page for credit and legal information, and one page for an ad blurb. This PDF has black borders around every page, as well as headers and footers along each page. It also has black-and-white and full-color artwork, some of the latter being photopraphs. Oddly, the printable PDF is two pages shorter, and lacks the borders, but still contains the artwork and headers/footers. The RTF file is 26 pages long, and contains no artwork, though some of the letters are in a colored font.

The product opens with an introduction talking about ancient forests, woodlands thousands of years old that have never been despoiled by humanoid races. Within these ancient forests are plants the likes of which are undreamt of, with strange properties. Seventeen of those plants are described therein.

Each plant has a description given which tells us what the plant looks like. Properties are described next, which describe what the plant can do if prepared/used properly. Harvesting then details the proper way to gather the plant for use, since improper harvesting usually means you can?t use the plant?s special properties. Locating is fairly self-explanatory, as it describes where the plant is found in the ancient forest. Each plant then closes with a notation of the plant?s market value, and plot hooks that a GM can use with each plant. Altogether, as each section tends to get at least a paragraph, each plant?s total entry takes up roughly a page (artwork notwithstanding).

Each of the plants can confer a minor benefit (or harm) upon a user, and are very interesting, making them perfect additions to a magical world. For example, the protean shadow tree has berries that contain the essence of shadow, and if pulped and spread on a weapon, they deal 1d2 Strength damage in addition to normal damage.

Druids, rangers, and perhaps a few arcane spellcasters will get the most mileage out of this product, as finding, gathering, and preparing these plants requires skills only they are likely to have. However, that said, there are plants in here that would be interesting to use in any game, particularly with the associated adventure hooks. As such, 17 Plants is a product that would fill its niche perfectly in any d20 game. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Each of the plants described here was detailed ecologically, painting an evocative picture that stirred the imagination. Each of the plants was quasi-magical enough that they could easily be placed in a fantasy or modern game.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The printable PDF didn't seem nearly as printable as the RTF file that was included, making that PDF somewhat superfluous.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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When Villians Attack (M&M)
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/23/2006 00:00:00

I'm not sure how many people have contributed to the design of comic books over the years. Whatever their number, these talented men and women have spent countless hours wracking their brains to create new and interesting adversaries for our favorite intrepid heroes. When an idea sticks, the world gains an interesting and memorable badguy. When an idea fails, on the other hand, the results are often ridiculous (and sometimes hysterical).

When Villains Attack is a kind of tribute to the less inspiring super villains that have graced the pages of comic books through the years. There are seven super-powered bad guys presented here, and each is ridiculous in his or her own way. My favorite is probably Prawn the Destroyer. The text lavishes on mighty Prawn (who's real name is Lord Tyrant Alasander Prawn XXIII, High Psionicrat), going into some detail about the might of his space fleet and the incredible psionic powers he possesses. Prawn himself is a beefy PL 20, with an impressive list of mental abilities. The catch to all this is that Prawn, despite his towering mental statue...is a 6? shrimp, a tiny fish-man that lives in a floating glass bowl. I have images of Mr. Crab's nemesis Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants, except with terrible cosmic power.

Each character is given a lot of detail. In addition to game stats, the entries list the character's origin, personality, and fighting tactics. The book also gives advice for using the villains in your campaign. Finally, there is a single picture for each, which I think is very important in a game based on a visual medium like comic books. The art itself is only average as far as comic book art goes, but it serves its function.

In the past, I've been a little hard on The Le games for their often muddled writing. I'd be remiss, then, if I didn't mention that the author of When Villains attack does a great job. Typos (and just overall poor wording) are minimal, and the writer seems to know and appreciate his subject manner. When Villains Attack is an entertaining and interesting read.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: This is a fun little PDF, with a nice spread of villains who are all silly in different ways. From the unfortunately named Cleavland Steamer to the surprisingly powerful Flashlight, you're bound to find a C-list villain to your liking. The stats (though I didn't run much of the math) seem to jibe with the Mutants and Masterminds rules, and the character writeups contain enough detail and advice to easily drop any of these guys into your game. A pretty good mix of PLs means you're more likely to find someone you can use in your home campaign.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Obviously, if you aren't looking for goofy villains for your supers game, you aren't going to find this book to your liking. You could probably salvage a few of these guys without too much work, but doing so would require the removal of the traits that make them so much fun.

Also, I thought the PDF was rather short. There are 7 villains here, meaning you're paying about $0.50 per character. Not a bad deal, but it would have been nice to see more. As it is, the book seems to end kind of abruptly.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
When Villians Attack (M&M)
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UNORTHODOX Fighters
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2006 00:00:00

Unorthodox Fighters presents five core classes intended to serve as variants from the standard fighter class. Each one is presented using the same format used in the Player's Handbook. There are a lot of good ideas here, and the layout and presentation is well done, but the rules implementation is often lacking.

Of the classes, I liked the Bastion and the Second Son the most. The former is a defensive fighter who prefers the use of heavy armor and massive shields. The latter is a noble that, because of his place in the birth order, does not stand to gain a significant inheritance and cannot rely too heavily on his family name to make his way in the world. Other classes include the Bully, the Dogfighter, and the Legend Seeker.

There are a lot of neat ideas in this book, and the flavor text is, for the most part, fairly sound. The writing suffers whenever Unorthodox Fighters turns to rules. Too often, the author uses wordy, confusing descriptions where simple explanations would have sufficed. Consider, for example, the following from the Bully class: ?The Bully is considered to be armed and is not an attack of opportunity when attacking with his fists.? Why not just say that the Bully gains the Improved Unarmed Strike feat? And the phrase ?is not an attack of opportunity? is the author's way of saying that an attack does not draw an attack of opportunity. That phrase is used several times in this book and, even though I know what they mean, I find it very jarring.

Other rules require even more deciphering. The Bastion's Improved Steadfast Stance says that it increases his ?zone of control? to 10ft, effectively giving him reach. What if the Bastion already has reach by virtue of his race or his weapons? Your guess is as good as mine.

When the rules aren't just being vague, they're being overpowered. The majority of these classes at some point grant the ability to take attacks of opportunity against opponents that wouldn't normally draw them. Whether they take a withdraw action, a five foot step, or an action that doesn't normally ever draw an attack...they take one anyway. I pity the poor wizard that tries to cast defensively within reach of a Bastion. If this doesn't seem too potent to you, how about the Legend Seeker's +2 bonus to hit and damage when wielding his chosen weapon, a 1st level class ability that's better than Weapon Specialization.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the largely underpowered Dogfighter. The concept behind this class is a clever one: a fighter from the wrong side of the tracks that gains the services of a faithful canine animal companion. While he and his dog gain lots of feats and special attacks when fighting together, the dog itself never gets any tougher. Even at low levels, a standard dog (CR 1/3, 6 hp) is probably more of a liability than anything else. Later, the Dogfighter gains additional canine companions, but not until 14th level. I'm not sure two ordinary dogs are really going to make a big difference at that point in a character's career.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Unorthodox Fighters inspires me to take its neat ideas and rewrite them for balance and clarity. Each of the five classes presented here represents a clever and original idea that fits well in the D&D milleau. D20 books traditionally handle niche classes of this nature through prestige classes, so its a refreshing change of pace to see a company achieve the same ends via 20 level core classes.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: While the product looks very professional, the rules are either unclear, unbalanced, or both. My final score is two and a half stars, mostly for effort and inspiration. With clearer rules descriptions and more thorough design work, Unorthodox Fighters could have been a four star product.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
UNORTHODOX Fighters
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When Villians Attack (M&M)
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2006 00:00:00

Le Games gives B-team villains their due in When Villians Attack?, the company's first foray into the Mutants and Mastermind setting.

When Villains Attack is a 29-page book detailing seven villains not good enough to be on the top tier of villainy, but more or less likely to appear as minor nuisances to the typical group. Despite their low ranking on the totem poll, Le Games manages to make each character somewhat attractive (and cheesy) enough as villains to maintain a weak B villain spot in your campaign.

For the Gamemaster:

Why is that a gamemaster can spend several days or weeks crafting the most treacherous villain, and then spend a few minutes to a hour throwing together henchmen and minions. When Villians Attack is for us???err??? I mean you. Each of the villains is flavorful enough to be easily introduced and role played in a light hearted campaign, though none of them can be used for anything more than comic relief between major encounters. Each villain also includes a comprehensive origin, tactics and information on how to use them. Though the book says that all the characters can be tailored to fit into any type of superhero campaign with little effort, I fail to see how in the world I can get Gunbunny into my New Gotham Campaign. Luckily, all of them are not on the heavier side of corny. The Cleveland Steamer and The Sloth are pretty interesting villains. The Cleveland Steamer can use his steam transformation abilities to wreck havoc inside of a heroes base of operations. The Sloth can be used as a traditional animal/human hybrid minion.

The Iron Word

When Villians Attack is a humorous take at old Silver Age C tier villains. Though small at only 7 villians, it is an adequate buy for a campaign set in a world pre-Crisis setting. You might even be able to fit some of these into a more modern setting, if you can bleach the characters of the corny names.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: The concept is great and the flavor is typical early 4-color shenanigans. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The names are a bit too cheesy for my tastes. There also should be a couple more villians for the price<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
When Villians Attack (M&M)
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17 Paladin Spells
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/12/2006 00:00:00

The Le Games? ?17 Paladin Spells? actually presents 18 spells for your paladin to use, and before getting into the spells themselves, writer Tony DiGerolamo spends little time on an introduction and gives us an artifact called ?The Tome of the Crusader.? This book contains the spells presented in this supplement, and, with the suggested GM?s options, can grant a paladin bonus experience points (10,000 experience, which does seem like quite a bit) or the ability to cast an additional spell of each level per day (which seems a bit more balanced). These spells are unique and fill niches that aren?t quite filled by most paladin spells, so that they are written in this ?tome of the crusader? is fitting.

There five 1st- and 2nd-level spells each, and four spells for both 3rd- and 4th-level casting, with most of the spellcasting schools represented (necromancy is understandably not represented here). Some of the standout spells include: ?shared sacrifice,? in which the paladin transfers up to half of a creature?s hit point damage to himself; ?paladin mind trick,? which does exactly what it sounds like it would do; ?blessed favor,? which instead of aiding the paladin in combat, aids the paladin in making a skill check instead; and ?sword of the crusader,? which allows a paladin to enhance his or weapon by granting it an additional 1d4 bonus to its attack roll and damage (even if it?s already enchanted), and granting that weapon additional bonuses versus evil items and undead.

For the most part, the writing is clear, but some of the spells could use further tightening of their text. For example, the description of the 2nd-level spell ?create holy water? states ?to cast the spell, the Paladin [sic] must be in the process of turning undead creatures.? The spell has a casting time of 1 standard action, and since making a turn attempt also takes a standard action, this wording is confusing. Does it take two standard actions to cast this spell? Is it cast during the same round as the turn attempt?

Also, one of the spells refers to a concept of the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, rather than the 3.5 update. ?Righteous strike? refers to enhancing a weapon so that ?it will be able to strike and deal damage to creatures that can normally only be hit by +2, +3, +4 and +5 weapons.? This sort of damage reduction doesn?t really exist in the current version of the game.

Taking this one spell out of the mix, however, still leaves you with a total of 17 spells, which is what the supplement?s title promises. These are unique spells, and binding them all to the ?tome of the crusader? even gives you more than just a handful of new spells for a PC, but maybe even a bit of a plot hook for a creative DM. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The artifact presented at the beginning of this supplement can inspire a number of different game ideas for the creative DM. The spells are unique and don't all focus on combat, but the ones that do are quite good.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Outside of lumping them together by level, there is no organization to the spells contained in this supplement. A simple alphabetization of the spells would make it a bit easier to read. (And as a nitpick, there is no reason to make "paladin" a proper noun by capitalizing the first letter.)<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
17 Paladin Spells
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17 Rogue Feats
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/05/2006 00:00:00

17 Rogue Feats is a sourcebook from The Le Games. The zipped file is just under 1.5 megabytes in size. The zipped file contains two PDFs, a Microsoft Word document, and a text file. The text file is just a readme file that briefly summarizes the contents of the zipped file. The other three files consist of a 647 Kb on-screen viewing PDF, a 794 Kb printable PDF, and a 50 Kb Word document of the product for ease of use.

The main file is eleven pages long, including a single page with the cover, credits, and (non-hyperlinked) table of contents, two pages with the OGL, and a page of ads, leaving seven pages of material. The printable PDF is ten pages long, with the same breakdown as the main file. Both the main file and, oddly, the printable file contain artwork, each having several black-and-white pieces, along with a few color pieces as well.

Despite its name, 17 Rogue Feats actually contains twenty feats altogether, nineteen of which are labeled as ?Rogue Only? (the last one is a general feat). The introduction notes that, when a rogue gains a level with sneak attack advancement, he may take one of these feats instead of increasing the sneak attack damage.

The majority of these feats offer skill bonuses of various sorts (most usually have a minor secondary effect as well): Street Savvy gives a +2 bonus to several skills when in an urban environment (doubled if it?s your home), Climb Master gives a +2 to Climb checks and lets you climb at full speed with a -10 penalty, etc. However, some of the feats also focus on things such as underlings, or even combat. Several feats here (a number of which stack) give you various followers as though you had Leadership. Two feats give your sneak attack special damage.

Altogether, 17 Rogue Feats is a good product that would have benefited from some more polishing. Most of these feats would have been better served by not limiting them only to rogues; the Great Lover feat, for example, seems odd to be limited in that capacity. Also, if you take all of the feats that grant you followers, you can quickly end up with a horde of servants that are several times greater than what you?d gain from the Leadership feat, which seems somewhat broken. 17 Rogue Feats will benefit any rogue character, but as with rogues themselves, GMs should keep an eye on how this gets put to use. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The product offered a lot of creative bonuses to various skills in various circumstances. It also was quite amusing in subtle ways, such as noting that the Great Lover feat doesn't work on a woman you're married to.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: It seemed unnecessary to limit almost all of the feats to rogues only. Also, a number of the feats that granted henchmen could be taken together, stacking their bonuses until a character has a veritable army. It was also rather odd how the printable version of this product kept the artwork and advertizing.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
17 Rogue Feats
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17 Rogue Feats
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/01/2006 00:00:00

Despite the humorous web ads promoting it, 17 Rogue Feats is another serious effort by Le Games to produce a supplement for both the dungeon master looking for a unique NPC and the player looking to add some spice to his current character.

Overview: 17 Rogue Feats is the 14th book in Le Games ?17? PDF series (that is if you do not include the lampooning 16 ? Magic Codpieces). For two bucks, you receive 20 variants feats for roguish classes?for those keeping count that is three more feats than the book advertises. Each feat is designed to add additional flavor and pizzazz to the your bland rogue without you having to result to prestige classes. The publication weighs in at 11 pages. Considering that there are 20 feats, that makes for some meaty feat descriptions, with only a few mild pieces of artwork taking up layout space.

As a Player: Feat books are usually an iffy buy from a player?s perspective taking into account the average character only gets 6 feats in his adventuring span. This reasoning is a primary motive for players to purchase class books instead of feat supplements. However, 17 Rogue Feats offers a quick fix by allowing you to replace any sneak attack gains with an additional feat from the book. This is a nifty little rule change that gives the player some added flexibility over the character.

Out of the 20 feats, I found only about 10 to 13 really beneficial for a player with only a handful of those good enough to replace some of the stronger roguish feats in many of the WOTC publications. However, as replacements for Sneak Attacks, the feats are more than suitable. A majority of the useful feats add mild skill bonuses to the character in a traditional rogue skill such as Hide, Diplomacy and Escape artist. The author probably knew that skill boosts alone are not very innovative, so most of these skill boosts are coupled with a corresponding new skill use. This can be real useful when fleshing out a an archetype if you?re looking to make his character more distinguished, whether its focusing in on his thieving skills, honing a better assassin, tailoring a better diplomat or training a better spy. There are several groups of feats that enhance the sneak attack ability, but I found these to be rather weak when compared to similar ones. As a player, I found the most useful feats to be Bargainer and Criminal Mastermind. The Bargainer boosts the Appraise skill whereas the Criminal Mastermind gives a lot of inspiration for that character whom likes to delve into the occasional (crime) opportunity.

As a Dungeon Master:

Again, feats are much more manageable than loading an NPC with two or three prestige classes to get the right flavor, and there is certainly enough flavor in most of these to enhance your creation. There are some feats in the book that appear to be geared towards those wanting to create a hierarchy among thieves, but they are so weak that I fail to see why I would not simply just a title for an NPC and use the feat or Sneak Attack choice for one of the more practical feats in the book. That aside there are still a few dazzling jewels for DMs.

As a Dungeon Master, I enjoy creating the type of unique NPCs that are both memorable and/or annoying enough to give my players a lasting impression. Two feats I will certainly use in my next game are Eye for Loot, an appraisal feat that allows a character to hone in on expensive items, and Internal Pouch, a feat that is bound to help out the excessively encumbered thief. .

The Iron Word:

17 Rogue Feat is a decent buy for those looking for quick rogue options. Though a quarter of the feats are very underwhelming, they are more than balanced by the others. It should be quite interesting to see other class feat books and how they finagle the rules to give players and dungeon masters more choice.
<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: I liked the option of changing class abilities for minor to moderate feats. The more options you give a player the better the product will be. I also found a good three quarters of the book useful to developing distinct archetypes for rogues. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: A quarter of the feats introduced a thief guide hierarchy that is better handled through role playing as opposed to wasting any slot. Outside of giving leadership, they offered nothing more to the player but a title and some followers. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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UNORTHODOX Fighters
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/27/2006 00:00:00

The bastion, the bully, the dogfighter, the legend seeker and the second son are the five core classes presented in The Le Games? ?Unorthodox Fighters.? Each is treated as a fully-playable fighter-type class for use in your standard d20 game. This is a difficult and thin line to walk; the fighter can be the most customizable of the classes presented in the core rules of the D&D game. Fortunately, ?Unorthodox Fighters? doesn?t simply present classes that could have been created by adding just the right feat or a certain number of skill points. Writer Doug Kilmer?s five classes all stand out, and still manage to fill the melee-niche most fighters represent in a Dungeons & Dragons game.

Each class listing provides enough suggested background material that both beginning and experienced players can find inspiration in these unorthodox classes. Rather than just putting together a handful of special abilities and coupling them with good saves or attack bonuses, real in-game reasons for the character design choices are given. The second son wants to bring honor to his or her family, and isn?t afraid to work for it. The legend seeker strives for glory. The bastion makes lasting stands not necessarily because it is the (paladin-like) right thing to do, but simply because he or she can.

Both the bully and the dogfighter stand out the most here, but unfortunately not for the same reasons. The bully is a class designed around, as one could guess, being a bully. The ultimate in the chaotic neutral stereotype (no alignment restriction is given, but it?s made clear that the bully?s tendency is toward either neutrality or chaos), this class doesn?t seem like it would fit in well with a group of other player characters. It actually feels like it would be better suited as an NPC, so DMs may take a look at this supplement for an idea or two for a mid-level encounter for their group.

Whereas the bully seems best suited to one-up any other (player-)characters, the dogfighter might shun others because he or she would rather associate with a loyal canine companion. The connection a dogfighter has with his or her dog is much more personal than that of a ranger and an animal companion, and while the dogfighter may also shun being part of a group, the reasons are a bit more well-rounded and better suited for long-term play. Allowing this class at the game table may cause just a little more work for the DM due to the added element of the dog companion, the flavor and feel of the class more than balances out this extra bit of work.

This supplement comes both as a landscape version and a printer-friendly edition, as well as an appendix including feats and spells an unorthodox fighter might need. In the landscape version, a character portrait is provided, and while an odd choice is made in showing the dogfighter as having birds flock around and on him (instead of dogs surrounding him), the interior artwork is consistent. The cover art doesn?t match the integrity of the included text, however.

?Unorthodox Fighters? is a well though-out supplement, and is a solid addition to the game.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: These are well-defined, well-designed classes. Most players and DMs will have no trouble integrating some of them into their game. Of the classes, the dogfighter stands out as the best. It is a great concept, and great care has obviously been taken to make this a "classic" character without duplicating any of the standard core classes or their class features. Even though the bully seems ill-suited for player use, it could definitely be used as an interesting NPC class. Also, the added appendix is a nice touch.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The cover art doesn't live up to the promise of these five unorthodox classes, and as mentioned before, the bully is a poor choice for a player class in a game that features teamwork and cooperation.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
UNORTHODOX Fighters
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FORGOTTEN WEAPONS: Stonebow
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/23/2006 00:00:00

Writers Dave C and Mike Ring have put together ?Forgotten Weapons: Stonebow? for The Le Games. This supplement featuring a unique weapon for use in a d20 fantasy game comes in three formats ? one .rtf document; and two .pdfs, a screen-friendly version and a printer-friendly version. For purposes of this review, the printer-friendly version was used.

This 19-page supplement (the final two-and-a-half pages are devoted solely to the Open Game License) introduces the stonebow, an actual weapon that was first developed in Europe between 1400 & 1500 AD. Similar in design to the crossbow, the stonebow launches stones instead of bolts at its wielder?s opponents. Both the standard stonebow and a repeating variant are presented here. The indicated damage of 1d6 hit points seems well-balanced, placing the stonebow?s damage output between the standard crossbow and a bullet-firing sling.

A too-brief description of what a stonebow actually looks like and how it works is given before three special ammunition-types are presented. In addition to standard stone pellets, the stonebow can also be used to fire phosphorous bullets (only dealing one point of damage, but potentially being able to dazzle opponents), shatter bullets (potentially stunning opponents with a sonic burst) or smoke bullets (bursting into a cloud of smoke). This ammunition can also be used in slings.

This supplement continues with two new feats ? Alchemical Ammunition (which allows a character to fire vials of alchemical substances from his or her stonebow) and Skipping Shot (which allows a bullet fired from a stonebow to skip along a smooth surface to go around any cover bonuses an opponent may have) ? before featuring eleven new spells. Unlike the feats, these spells can be used by or for characters using nearly any kind of ranged weapon, not just stonebows. ?Backsling? allows a reroll on a failed attack made with a thrown or projectile weapon, while ?seeking shot? allows ammunition to negate concealment. ?Twinshot? is an interesting spell in that it duplicates the next attack with a ranged weapon ?as though an invisible twin fired an identical shot,? but the material component (a small replica of a bow or other ranged weapon worth 25 gp) seems a bit steep.

The stonebow sworn is a prestige class built around this weapon. This is an elite group of primarily-female-and-solely-dwarven warriors. It?s not an overly exciting prestige class in that most of its class abilities can be duplicated easily with spells or special equipment (casting ?true strike? once-or-more a day, gaining one of the stonebow feats as a bonus feat, etc.). This prestige class is also incredibly limiting due to its race restriction and sex preference.

That said, the description of this prestige class offers a little bonus to DMs. A column is devoted to Guild Day, a yearly ceremony held by the stonebow clans in which a large statue of a villainous orc is placed in the center of a hall and the stonebow sworn fire at it. The stonebow sworn that topples the statue is given the title ?Hailborn? for the year until the nest Guild Day takes place. This brief glimpse into this custom of the stonebow sworn could serve as a bit of plot inspiration for DMs wanting to do something more unique with their dwarven encounters.

Overall, ?Forgotten Weapons: Stonebow? is an interesting supplement, but outside of its spells, it?s such a niche product that unless you have every intention of introducing the stonebow as a weapon into your game or campaign, you may be disappointed. It?s a solid enough product; the disappointment would come from its extremely narrow applicability.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: This is a mechanically-sound supplement. The rules are well thought out, and none of this material can be considered disruptive to the game. Also, ?Forgotten Weapons: Stonebow? continues the incredibly helpful habit of The Le Games to include descriptions of various effects within the text of the rules. (Immediately after the description of the phosphorous bullet, which can dazzle opponents, the game definition of what it means to be ?dazzled? is listed in italics. The definition of ?stunned? is listed underneath the shatter bullet.) I always appreciate The Le Games? commitment to providing this kind of information within their products.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The layout of the printer-friendly version of this supplement could have been tightened a bit more. An extra line inserted after the end of one spell description could have prevented the name of the next spell hanging alone at the end of a column, with its spell information floating above at the top of the page by itself. Also, the artwork is inconsistent. It?s quality art, but it?s not unified. Pieces of Elmore art start the supplement, and one of the last illustrations is a photograph of a badger (the sample NPC of the stonebow sworn has a badger familiar). It?s not overly distracting, but it did feel a bit disjointed.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
FORGOTTEN WEAPONS: Stonebow
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UNORTHODOX Fighters
by David W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2006 00:00:00

I especially like the variety that the five fighter subtypes gives to both players and referees (in the form of detailed, interesting NPCs). In game universes that include many civilizations, such variety is essential.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Well presented and very interesting, I have not been disappointed by any of their products.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
UNORTHODOX Fighters
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