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Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/20/2006 00:00:00
Ancient: Mesopotamia is two things. On one hand, it is an amazing book that takes you on a fantastic journey into a fantasy realm very much similar to the historical Mesopotamia land. On the other hand, it is also a difficult to navigate PDF that often muddles the enjoyment of the book.

For some reason, settings based on more exotic lands such as the middle east and Africa just seem grander than more traditional cookie cutter dungeons and dragons settings. Mesopotamia is no exception. Beginning with the cartography maps that lay out a large desert kingdom to the fun exploration adventures in the back, the 178 page 15 chapter is a monster of a book with rich detail on every page. The book is written by Morten Braten and published in print by Sword and Sorcery. The PDF form is presented by Necromancer games. Braten made a serious attempt to enrich the setting with as much cultural significance of the ancient Middle East as it could.

The first chapter is a hefty flying red carpet intro into the land of Mesopotamia featuring the worlds geography, languages and other cultural things. The second chapter introduces readers to the classes and races of the book. One of my favorite chapter it features an all human race ensemble race, explains the role of each of the PHB base classes and presents some new magical variants, spells and items. Because religion always plays a big part in these types of books, the third chapter is solely dedicated to the subject. The fifth chapter explains important details to running a campaign in Mesopotamia. After this chapter, the remainder of the chapters in the book, some 100+ pages, is an adventure module that takes the PCs through various adventures from exploration to dungeon crawls as they venture in Mesopotamia. I found this slightly disappointing, as I would have liked to see the book divided equally between setting and adventures. It?s a bit misleading to say the book is the Mesopotamia setting and two/thirds of it is one adventure module.

Whereas the writing of this book is engrossing, the presentation still could use some work. As with some other publications that are transferred into PDF by Necromancer games, Mesopotamia does not include bookmarks and, for that matter, does not even have a table of contents. This is a necessary requirement if you are attempting to navigate a book of 40 pages or more. Even worse, the security on the PDF does not allow you to make your own bookmarks even if you own the full copy of Adobe Acrobat. Sure the technologically savvy can work around it with a generic PDF writer, but why make it so complicated to read the book. It seems that if the only job of Necromancer is to make the book a decent PDF, navigation should be at the top of things to do.

For the Dungeon Master

This is a beautiful setting that wets the appetite for a Middle Eastern campaign. The most important chapter to read through is the one on the magic variations, which introduced concepts such as mundane magic, witchcraft and astrology. Not to be outdone, the adventure in this book, though lengthy, is good with each chapter broken up well and allowing you to take breaks from it at your leisure.

For the Player

If you are currently in an Egyptian or Middle Eastern campaign, the character options from chapter two can make an excellent addition to your character. I am usually not a fan of prestige classes but the ones here are infused with so much culture it really adds bite to a character. Clerics will enjoy the feel of the Ashipu-Priest and Baru Priest, rare quality for cleric prestige classes.

The Iron Word
Rich in culture, writing and flavor, Mesopotamia is in the upper echelon of source books of this setting. Though there should be more material on the setting alone, there is enough here and in the appendix to make an exotic campaign. The adventure that covers the majority of the book pretty good and its cuts between chapters makes dungeon masters feel as if they are in charge of the campaign and not following a linear line. If you do not mind the lack of navigation, Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia is a good foundation to take your adventure to another land.



LIKED: - rich flavor that captures the era
- good adventure that gives game masters a break here and there from that main storyline


DISLIKED: - just enough setting, but not as much there as in many, many other books
- no navigation hurts a DM who wants to read through the entire book without having to find their place again and again


QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia
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The Mother of All Treasure Tables
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2006 00:00:00
Forget Mercedes/Chrysler and RPGNow/Drivethru, the Mother of all collaborations, Tabletop Adventures LLC and Necromancer Games, have produced The Mother of All Treasure Tables, one of the most useful products for the hurried DM since the last Tabletop?s last edition of Bits and Shards.

Before this 162 pg jewel came across my desk, I was never much for table books. Whereas a majority of table PDFs and books are content with just listing the items that are randomized, The Mother of All Treasure Tables drives its readers down a different detour, most notability the fact that there are no tables. Instead, you get a list of exceptionally descriptive blurbs about the treasure. Within each description there is also the included values of the treasure and the total net worth of the stash.

One of the best features of the book is not its tables but the meaty introduction that many PDFs nowadays have begun to leave out. The intro recommends the usage of the book and explains why there are no magical items included in any of the treasures. It also suggests that whereas this is ideal for a low magic campaign, it can be a refreshing break from distributing the magical item of the week to parties.

The eight tables of treasures under 10,000gp contain 100 entries and the other two, which contain entries of 30,000gp and 50,000 contain 15. Like Tabletops Bits and Shards, the descriptions are dynamically different from one to another, with each bringing a vivid portrayal whether the player is picking a pocket or ciphering through a wardrobe.

For the Low Magic Dungeon Master
This is one of the first accessory products that is geared towards the low magic campaign. If you are a DM whom has had a problem sexing up mundane treasure for your party you will want to grab some duct tape and attach yourself to the Mother of All Treasure Tables. The descriptions are not just lengthy but also have the benefit of producing future adventure hooks and inspiration among the party. If you have contemplated adding a magical item or two to a treasure horde to spice it up, buy the Mother of All Treasure Tables first and rediscover how grand mundane items can be.

For the High Magic Dungeon Master
Variation is a good thing, and the Mother of All Treasure Tables is real useful in high and normal magic campaigns to introduce that type of good variety. When you do issue out magical items, most of the entries are written with enough of an opening to allow you to take out any mundane item with a similar magical one. For example, I wanted to use the book right away, however, the PCs recently found a psionic horde. I used entry 99 on the 5,000 GP table which describes a strongbox tucked into a wall to protect it from outsiders. It was very easy to snatch out the sundial and other items and put in a couple blobs of good.

The Iron Word
Necromancer?s experience with table products combined with the talented writing from the team at Tabletop Adventures makes The Mother of All Treasure Tables one of the most helpful items to be released this year. With over 600 descriptions of treasures of any value, anyone can find a use for this product. The lack of magical items may seem like a hindrance, but it actually makes it more of a benefit because it allows you to add your own magical items or take out the items all together and add the table entry for description purposes.



LIKED: - top notch writing
- who would have thought that a book of mundane items would be so useful
- over 600 entries makes this a book you will be using for years
- A solid intro explains how everyone can use the product

DISLIKED: - not much art. I would have liked to see a bit more.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Mother of All Treasure Tables
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The Doom of Listonshire
by Thomas P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2006 12:17:53
The Doom of Listonshire 4/5

The adventure takes place mainly in the wilderness: forests, lakeshores, caverns, haunted hamlets and ruins. That's what I like, especially when I'm playing ranger or druid character.

Main theme of the adventure is a searching for classical three pieces of map / talisman / put-what-you-need; in this case the PCs are looking for missing (in monsters' ambush) little princess (rightful successor to the throne), her faithful maid-in-waiting, and her magical ring.

The PC must explore three of twelve described adventure sites to win, but there are a lot of hooks leading to other sites. They can explore the sites in unlimited order, you (as the DM) can even determine randomly where lady-in-waiting and ring are.

The adventure is good mix of tracking, fighting, roleplaying, dungeon crawling, sneaking, and mystery-solving (simple detective work). A mood of the adventure resembles Baldur's Gate 1 crpg (a lot of small subquests in the wild).

My favorite part is "The Abandoned Village" containing very creative use of "animated objects" in horror mood (I'm seroius).

From the other side, I don't like "The Ruins of Old Liston Keep" mini-dungeon, because there are nearly twenty identical rooms containing identic foes - everyone of them so stupid to wait for the PC instead of attacking in large group. And there is a great hall smaller than my toilet.

What I'll add to the adventure?
1. A description of the place where the monsters ambushed the duke. It's natural to begin in this place, so I don't understand why there is no word about it.
2. Sidekick of main enemy is some tracker-killer. The PCs hear about him a lot of times, but I think he can be "more recurring villain" than single ambush leader. I mean a duo like Emperor and Vader.

From editorial point of view I love that Ari Marmell has used so many monsters from Necromancer Games "Tome of Horrors" - it's good to see new bad guys even if you are experienced player (as my players are). You (as the DM) can find all statblock needed to run the adventure in DoL. That's a shame, the statblocks are in old format "AC23fgdgjhp34dffgFort23iuelf".

I like new magic items and new monsters from DoL.

So, I recommed this adventure for everyone who don't like dungeon crawl (tactical or kick in the door) games only.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Doom of Listonshire
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The Crucible of Freya
by Jon J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2006 23:00:58
I was hesistant to buy this after reading in a previous review of the poor scan quality. My I just got my copy printed and it's well within the usable range. The supplimental material available from the NECROMANCER GAMES website when added to The Crucible of Freya totals over 100 pages. Having all the extras bound together with the printed adventure is very convienient. I am very satisfied. After adding the extras at this price it's definately 5 out 5.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Crucible of Freya
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Rappan Athuk
by Darren F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2005 18:51:06
Rappan Athuk is killer! It's easily scalable for first level PC's or you can have them wait until they're 4th or 5th level. It's a great series of mini-adventures within the module where your PC's will try and break thru defenses, traps, and etc. to gain the treasures lurking behind every door.

I also was surprised at the wonderful scanning job! It printed off my HP Laserjet 6L with surprising clarity & ease of reading.

If you're wanting to bring your greedy PC's down a notch, this dungeon will do it nicely! _:)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rappan Athuk
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The Crucible of Freya
by Darren F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2005 18:13:37
In addition to my previous review, I must take a moment to explain that the scan quality of this module is bad. The scan was done too dark and thus many areas in the module does not print out clearly. For instance, on page 5, under Area A: The Lair of Karigor the Troll, the part the DM reads to the party is very poorly printed out. It was printed originally in black on a dark background - like the background may be a big piece of tree bark. The scan & resulting printout of this PDF leaves a LOT to be desired. If they could re-scan this, then I would HIGHLY recommend this for a terrific introduction to 3.0 D20 fantasy role playing.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Crucible of Freya
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The Crucible of Freya
by Darren F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2005 18:08:42
The plot and storyline of the Crucible of Freya is a very well written one. The challenge ratings make it well worthwhile for first level characters and it's easily scalable IF you have only 1 to 3 PC's.

Of course this is a continuation of the free module called "The Wizard's Amulet". If you have PC's who've adventured thru that and survived, they should be at least 3rd or 4th level and will have little problem ploughing thru the first series of Monsters & challenges in this module.

Overall I'm quite pleased with the module.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Tome of Horrors
by Gavin K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/25/2005 08:06:09
I just bought the watermarked version and I am thoroughly impressed by how smooth it was to download it. My name and order number appeared at the bottom left of the text-only pages in a very small font - that was neat.

Now, on to the contents of this book - The Tome of Horrors contain "over 400 monsters" updated for the 3rd edition in 327 pages. There are "almost 300 converted from First Edition sources, over 25 compiled from various Necromancer Games products, and well over 100 brand new, never-before-seen monsters!"

That's such a great deal!

My old-time favorites are here, including the flumph, the vegypygmy, the khargra, the mongrelmen, and of course the Demons and Devils (with a capital D&D). Challenge ratings range from 1/10 and all the way to 39. Each monster has been labelled with the author and even their first appearance in a TSR product is listed (where applicable). The monsters are also beautifully rendered by the artists - the artwork for Orcus, the Crabman, the Eye of the Deep, and the Necrophidius is astounding!

My players are just going to hate me for the next few years.

This is a definite keeper! So, I'd say go for it...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Horrors
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Tomb of Abysthor
by Jay B. Date Added: 12/09/2004 23:47:10
This is my favorite 3.0 edition module EVER. Simply amazing - it's a 'dungeon crawl' in the highest tradition of the old 1st edition classics like the D1-3 series, but it also shows just why those old-school dungeon crawls could be so much fun!

The players find holy shrines and a tomb for an order of holy knights that have been desecrated and infested by an evil. Curiously, the evil forces within the sprawling network of caves are competing against each other for a source of vast power - a power that the last remnant of the forces of the holy order is seeking to protect.

What's very interesting about this module is that it does provide some great roleplaying opportunities as players may find themselves embroiled in the politics of the different factions, or at least trying to prevent the factions from uniting against them as they make their way down to discover the surprises in store for them.

Another trademark of Necromancer Games' modules is that there are forces within the dungeon that the player characters simply cannot defeat or destroy by brute force. If your players try to treat it as pure hack and slash, they will be clobbered. They'll need to avoid some of the nastier encounters through stealth, trickery, or negotiation.

The module has a fairly epic-feeling ending, and enough adventure to make it something of a mini-campaign on it's own.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of Abysthor
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Rappan Athuk
by Seth T. Date Added: 08/29/2004 17:54:46
Rappan Athuk is by far one of the best dungeon crawls I have seen for 3rd edition. If you run a serious campaing and want something your players MUST take seriously, then Rappan Athuk is for you!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rappan Athuk
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