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IVe Races: The Elkram
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2009 00:46:01
Elkram are basically bipedal elk, with cleft hooves for feet and five-fingered humanoid hands. As you might imagine, elkram feel closely connected to nature, but also to the "spirit world." The latter connection comes out in the elkram's racial power, ethereal jaunt, which allows them to become insubstantial for a short time. The sentinel paragon path also plays off of this ethereal connection.

In addition to PC statistics and a racial paragon path, author Jack Smith IV also provides five elkram "monster" stat blocks, two notable NPCs, and one magic item—all fully statted out. The product also includes three adventure hooks (one paragraph each), three location starters (one paragraph each), and four NPC seeds (one paragraph each). These features make it easy for DMs to incorporate the elkram into their campaigns as NPCs, whether allied to or opposing the adventuring party.

The elkram stand out enough from existing 4e races to enrich any campaign, though some DMs may prefer to exclude them due to biome considerations. The wonderful illustrations evoke Hollywood thoughts of native Americans, and real-world elk live chiefly in northwestern North America and northeastern Asia. DMs running campaigns in warmer environs might want to "reskin" the elkram to resemble local versions of more widely-ranging deer species. For example, I can easily incorporate the kroola (Poison Ivy's other IVe Race thus far) into my south seas campaign, but something just feels wrong about having bipedal elk walking around Australia. There are enough deer species in southeast Asia, though, that a few cosmetic tweaks bring the elkram into line with the local ruminant population.

Unfortunately, The Elkram (the PDF, not the species) suffers from a number of grammatical and typographical errors and departures from standard D&D 4e style, as well as a content blunder or two. I won't bore you with all the details, but I will say that only a few of these can be attributed to simple typing errors. I will point out one mechanical inconsistency: page 7 tells us that "Elkram all have Ethereal Jaunt," though this power was omitted (whether accidentally or not, I can't say) from the elkram guardian's stat block. (Oh, and power names should be set in italics and lower case—“ethereal jaunt,” not “Ethereal Jaunt”—except in the title of the power description itself. Poison Ivy gets this right in the paragraph on elkram guardian tactics, but not in the paragraph that precedes the elkram guardian stat block. This kind of inconsistency speaks of sloppy editing.)

I also have one complaint about the encounter groups presented on page 11: they consist only of elkram. How do elkram relate to the creatures with whom they share their precious natural world? Are elkram on good terms with fey creatures, for example? Might you find elkram using wolves as pets and companions? And I find this question burning through my mind: how do elkram get along with minotaurs?

In the end, I like the elkram very much, and I can recommend the product with only minor hestitations about the grammatical and stylistic problems. Now I just have to figure out where they belong in my campaign world.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
IVe Races: The Elkram
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IVe Races: The Elkram
by William G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2009 20:04:05
I want to start by saying so far the editing on this supplement seems to be better than the Kroola supplement. Jack Smith at Poison Ivy Press has expressed an awareness of the errors in their last supplement and has since brought in a new editor. Art is once again done by Rodrigo Martins, as before it brings out the flavor the supplement in my opinion is trying to hit. The layout remains similar to the Kroola supplement. Racial write up, feats, culture and society, as character, fighting Elkram, and finally a part about putting them into campaigns.

The Elkram themselves seem to be a somewhat balanced race, with racials that add flavor to their tie to nature. Their Ethereal Jaunt racial power makes them one of the fastest races I've seen, adding a +2 to movement that was already base 7. This could easily make or break a battle with a Elkram PC, especially when needing to make a hasty retreat to fire off some ranged attacks. Feats play nicely with the idea behind the race. Bonuses againt aberrations and to initiative, weapon proficiencies in longbow and greatsword (with one feat), and the ability to not be caught off gaurd during surprise rounds all play into the nature and elk motifs that are set up.

It is obvious that a lot more time and effort has been put into the flavoring found within this supplement. A lot of detail is given to development, religion, and even death. Along with sections on society, culture, and how they view other races players and GMs are given a great insight into the race itself. This makes the races easy to throw into a campaign should it fit, meaning that the flavor of the fluff draws the Elkram into a very specific niche. Though it would be just as easy for any GM to overlook or change it when needed to suit the game you might have to cease playing the Native American-esque Elkram presented.

The Paragon Path presented for the Elkram is simply titled Sentinel. It seems a little over done, allowing the Elkram to make extra attacks after charging or even charge with an attack that couldn't do so before. The one thing I don't get is that one of the path's level 11 powers gives the player the Etheral Shift feat shown earlier in the supplement. This essentially gives PCs a free feat, and rewards players for sticking to the supplement. While not bad, in my view of it it gives Sentinel Elkram a distinct advantage over non Sentinel Elkram especially when looking at melee based classes.

The section on fighting Elkram seems pretty solid compared to the Kroola supplement. There are a few spots where words have been left out such as "Area burst 1 within 10" on one of the Elram Huntsman powers, though it is pretty obvious that "squares" is the missing word. This time around Poison Ivy Press hasn't added any equipment in that hasn't been stated out or couldn't be found in the Player's Handbook. All the creatures presented are between level 11 and 16. And, the item presented in this supplement actually seems usable compared to that of "Kruncha's Regnant Tricorne" presented in the Kroola supplement, but players may find its use very situational as its power only affects undead and aberrations.

The supplement looks to be an improvement over The Kroola. I failed to see any glaring grammar or spelling mistakes, and this time around there were no missing pieces. Much like Posion Ivy Press's last supplement this one isn't going to be for everyone, and there is something about the Elkram that doesn't make them scream out at me as the Kroola did (maybe it was because the Kroola were pirates?).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
IVe Races: The Elkram
by Flames R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2009 10:34:47
This is a short work at only 14 pages, but with such a small price tag ($2.50) it has a high production value. The supplement looks clean and professionally done. However, my first impression upon reading it was that we have a product without a market. I am not sure how much the gaming community is crying out for a humanoid elk-person to play. More over, I am not sure how much we needed an American Indian derivative to play either. I appreciate the fullness of this supplement and the format is solid. The idea of introducing a new race, planting them in the generic “world,” giving them a physiological and psychological overview and combining that with player and DM tools is a great idea and something I would like to see more of. I take issue not with the concept, but with its execution in this particular case.

I feel as though we missed a great opportunity here, but it is instructive of the many possibilities 4E has to offer. Though this race may be a miss creatively, the idea is good and I would be very interested in future products created and detailed in a similar fashion.

Style: 4
Substance: 2.5
Overall: 3

Read the full Review at FlamesRising.com: http://www.flamesrising.com/elkram-4e-review

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thanks so much for your review! As for your idea about purpose and appeal, we're hoping that the race proves a perfect match with the primal classes coming in the Player's Handbook 2. We're glad you like our design philosophy, and if it's modular, effective design strategy you seek, I suggest keeping up with our future releases. You won't be disappointed! Thanks so much for your insight!
Kroola: Koldbloods and Karnivores
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2009 03:12:36
I usually like any free product, just because it's free! This one is also a lot of fun. Jack Smith IV and Poison Ivy Press present here a clever and enjoyable race suitable for PCs or NPCs/"monsters." This PDF presents an epic destiny for kroola PCs, four new generic kroola stat blocks, a klappa minion, and two new kroola PCs. The product also gives stats for the cutlass--missing from the original kroola product--and 2D tokens to use on the gaming table. You'll get a lot more than you pay for in this PDF!

It's not all perfect--there are still a number of annoying stylistic, typographical, or grammatical errors and inconsistencies. But I won't let these stop me from enjoying the kroola and using them as antagonists in my current seafaring campaign.

I give more details in a review at http://d20.heardworld.com/?p=395, but to cut right to the chase: the presentation quality of Koldbloods & Karnivores notably exceeds that of the original Kroola PDF, and the mechanical quality of both is pretty high. One thing still hasn't been resolved, though: the kannoneer's weapons from the first installment. That part still troubles me. Nevertheless, I recommend you download this product and also purchase its older sibling, The Kroola, if you have room in your campaign world for piratical anthropomorphic crocodiles.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kroola: Koldbloods and Karnivores
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IVe Races: The Kroola
by Xander B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2009 22:51:20
The Kroola is a very well-written 4th Edition supplement that does exactly what it says on the tin.

The concept, first of all, is excellent. The kroola are a very fun race with oodles of roleplaying potential. They are quite clearly based on the 'kremlings' from the Donkey Kong Country series of videogames, with the serial numbers cleverly filed off. A lot of the text is filled with in-joke references to this (for example, kroola skin is usually green but sometimes trends towards bright red or blue). Just about every kremling enemy from those games, including the bosses, is presented either here or in the free Kroola supplement. If you love DK you'll get a lot this; if not, hey, pirate crocodiles is still a great idea. Despite the humorous inspiration, the text avoids silliness and keeps it clear and professional throughout.

If there's a weak part of the supplement, it's probably the section on playing kroola as a PC race. The fluff is fascinating, the crunch less so. Sure, it's well-written and perfectly balanced, but the kroola racial bonuses and racial feats are very situational and not greatly inspiring. Despite some good roleplaying tips presented in this section, I personally couldn't imagine running a party of all kroola PCs, although one or two would work well.

But that's okay, because the kroola work much better as villains. Between this book and the free supplement, we get a good selection of kroola enemies between levels 2 and 9. Every type of monster is represented except controllers, and there are 4 interesting elites, each with their own powers and backstory. There are also some great descriptions of places where kroola might be found -- easy to drop into a campaign.

The pdf is of good quality, simple and readable. The art is several notches above the usual cheap hired art one usually sees in RPG ebooks. I could imagine seeing some of these pieces in a published book.

To cap it all off, there's a completely free supplement for the book -- Kroola: Koldbloods & Karnivores -- that includes epic destinies, more monsters and a page of tokens. So now I can't use lack of miniatures as an excuse not to use the kroola in my next game.

Overall: if you like the concept, then for the price it's probably one of the best non-Wizards of the Coast 4th Edition books available.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
IVe Races: The Kroola
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Kroola: Koldbloods and Karnivores
by Aramis M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/22/2009 00:26:03
Now THIS is how you fix a sourcebook.

The original sourcebook (available for $1.99 here at RPGNow) provided a fantastic insight into these swashbuckling reptiles, however, the actual crunch behind the book had a few mistakes, mainly grammatical, and a couple of rule inconsitencies (which are fixed in this book) and a racial proficiency with a weapon that did not exist in the PHB, or any sourcebook to date!

That has all been fixed and more.

This expansion has good, solid grammar throughout, clarifies some rules from the ealier sourcebook, adds a new epic destiny to your (sadly and inevitably doomed to madness) characters, and adds the missing weapon, along with battle counters, new characters, encounter groups, and more, all for free! A fantastic free download, which is only made better by going and purchasing the previous sourcebook to make the race available to PCs.



Grab it, and the orginal sourcebook, laugh at the Nintendo references, and then read deeper into the race to see how tragic they truly are. A great addition to any 4th ed GM or Player arsenal.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kroola: Koldbloods and Karnivores
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Publisher Reply:
A new editor can work wonders. Thanks so much for the review, and we're really glad you enjoyed the product so much!
IVe Races: The Kroola
by William G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2009 10:15:35
The Kroola has offerings for both players and GMs, all with a crocodilian pirate theme. As a whole it does its job of defining just what it is to be Kroola: pirate like. Just "thumbing" through the PDF it seems fun. I like fun!

The racial write up does a good job at defining Kroola beyond their stats. Describing culture, physiology, and even pets. Each of these goes into more than enough detail to understand that the Kroola, while possibly jolly and carefree as the supplement says they can be, are a marauding species. There is definitely more juiciness here than I can talk about in a small write up, though I am a bit confused about the Kroola's Bar-side Brawler racail ability and what it means by "1-die upgrade to damage dice."

Feats and powers fit with the race as a whole adding more to the pirate and crocodilian nature of the race. Cutlass proficiency, brawling, and aquatic ability are touched at with feats. There was once or twice within the supplement that I had to reread a power do to its wording being slightly confusing. Specifically the Kroola Regneration racial ability. It was mainly a problem between myself and the grammar being used to describe how long the power lasts, but once a second look was taken I was able to get what it was saying.

One Paragon Path is presented specific for the Kroola, the Kroola Kolossus. Its powers are very situational but its features definitely add to the melee aspect of the race.

The last four pages are devoted to GMs. You will find stat blocks for various Kroola for your PCs to take on. The Kroola Kannoneer being one of the more interesting given that it has a hand-cannon. Stats for this weapon don't seem to be available for PCs though it is listed in the equipment that the monster has. Then there is the level 7 item "Kruncha's Regnant Tricorne," a hat that allows enemies within burst 3 to make an immediate saving throw against fear. I'm not sure if maybe the hat was supposed to cause fear but allow enemies to make and immediate save against it or possibly to allow allies to do so. As it is now, I don't think I would want to use the hat as a PC.Beyond that you find some nice adventure hooks and descriptions of Kroola settlements.

Overall a decent little supplement with a few problems. Unless you really like lizardmen or pirates it may not be for you. The supplement is in full color, with a variety of great artwork that helps to push the look and feel the supplement is trying to establish. There were some minor grammar and spelling mistakes, and a few violations of 4e conventions I didn't notice until reading other reviews of the supplement. Let's face it, I don't care so much about type setting as I do about actually content of which only a few things listed above stuck out. Let's hope Poison Ivy Press will fix these in subsequent versions.

As a fan of Eberron, I could easily see the Kroola as a band of pirates in the Lhazaar Principalities or possible a replacement for a group of lizardfolk in Q'Barra. While the supplement shoehorns the race into the position of pirates, it would be easy for the Kroola to be just about any martial type character and in the end they seem fun.

You can find IVe Races: Kroola for download at RPGnow.com for $1.99.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
IVe Races: The Kroola
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IVe Races: The Kroola
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/22/2009 21:51:48
I really wanted to like the kroola, the first race in Poison Ivy Press's line of IVe Races. A race of piratical crocodilian humanoids could spice up my current seafaring campaign. Unfortunately, the product disappointed me a bit, for several reasons that I'll detail below. Maybe I should blame myself for setting my expectations too high.

First, let me highlight the product's strengths. Most importantly, the kroola are fun. I very much enjoyed the write-ups on kroola personality and society. Kroola have the potential to generate lots of laughs at the table, while remaining a viable and even dangerous race. I could see myself confronting the PCs in my campaign with a shipload of kroola, playing out the encounter in a way that initially makes the players think the scene aims for comic relief ("Our captain is king of the pirate kings, and you will address him by his proper title, 'Kruncha the Pirate-King King'!")--until the fighting starts. Even then, you can really play up the kroola's over-the-top personalities to good effect.

I also appreciate the effort that authors Jack Smith IV and Daniel Perez have made to include a full range of 4e "goodies" in the product. In addition to the kroola PC race (complete with one racial power and four feats), Smith and Perez give readers five different kroola "monsters," the kroola's pet klappas, two fully-statted kroola NPCs, two magic items, and four adventure hooks. In that sense, you get a lot for your $2.50 (or $1.99 when I bought it on sale), and the authors make it easy for DMs to drop the kroola right into a campaign with a minimum of fuss. Also, the artwork--specially prepared for this product, not generic stock/clip art--brings the kroola to vivid life. Artist Rodrigo Martins deserves big kudos for the excellent illustrations.

The product exhibits some weaknesses as well, though. The same sorts of formatting and typesetting missteps that plague far too many indie PDFs crop up in this product as well. In addition to simple grammatical errors, we also get violations of 4e conventions, such as the title-style capitalization of power names ("You can use Koola Regeneration as an encounter power" should read "You can use koola regeneration as an encounter power"). The kroola's Bar-side Brawler racial feature uses the non-standard term "1-die upgrade to damage dice" without any explanation of what this means. I assume that Smith and Perez intend for "1-die upgrade" to work like Lethal Hunter and similar feats, such that unarmed attack damage increases from d4s to d6s, and improvised weapon damage increases from d8s to d10s, but since the difference between 1d6 and 1d4 is not "one die," I can see how another reader might think that Smith and Perez meant for unarmed attack damage to increase to 2d4 and improvised weapon damage to increase to 2d8. Rules that could cause game-time arguments about how they work need revision! Similarly, the Sea Legs feat grants a kroola proficiency with a cultass, but no cutlass appears in the Player's Handbook, Adventurer's Vault, or this product! What good is proficiency with a weapon for which no stats exist? I also have to wonder why the typesetter/designer used images instead of tables to lay out all stat blocks; that makes no sense to me. I must also confess that I found the substitutions of Ks for Cs (kroola kutthroat, krool kapt'n, kroola kolossus, and so on) tiresome after a while.

Most readers will care more about mechanics than presentation, but here too I found cause for concern. All but one of Martins's wonderful illustrations show the kroola decked out in trousers, vests, belts, gloves, and so on--as befits swashbuckling seafarers--so how can a kroola kapt'n, with his bright blue breeches and feathery hat, really gain a +5 to Stealth by appearing to be a Harmless Log (per the racial feature)? Likewise, allowing the kroola to crawl at their full speed as a racial feature makes no physiological sense; the kroola's reptilian heritage shouldn't overcome their humanoid, bipedal body plan in this respect. I haven't had a chance to run a combat with a regenerating kroola PC (and by the way, Poison Ivy, you should spell "hit points" as two words, not one), but I think the built-in "off switches" keep the kroola regeneration power reasonable.

As a DM thinking of using kroola as monsters and NPCs, I spent more time studying the monster section than the PC section. Smith and Perez give us the kroola's pet klappas as a monster in the form of a klappa swarm, but while they give this creature the "swarm" keyword, they neglected to put the swarm's resistances and vulnerabilities in the stat block. Yes, those features inhere in the swarm keyword and many DMs will know this, but the features still need to be in the stat block. I simply don't "get" Kruncha's regnant tricorn. The idea of a magical hat for the pirate-king king's crown is a hoot, but consider its daily power: "All enemies within burst 3 may make an immediate savings [sic] throw against fear effects with a bonus equal to your Charisma modifier." Why on earth would any combatant ever want to give his or her enemies an immediate saving throw against anything?

My biggest reservation about the kroola, though, comes from the kroola kannoneer creature. Every kroola-as-monster has attacks that depend on weapons. Fair enough, but the PCs will want to loot their bodies. Having the PCs collect some extra cutlasses (whatever their stats; see above) and handaxes works fine, but a DM who pits his characters against a kroola kannoneer must reckon with the introduction of firearms into his game. Giving the kroola kannoneer a hand-cannon that apparently fires bullets, grapeshot, and mortars has enormous implications, and seems to me not well thought-out at all. If I put a kroola kannoneer in my campaign and the PCs kill him, or steal his hand-cannon, I now have PCs running around with this amazing weapon--for which, by the way, Smith and Perez do not provide appropriate stats outside of the kroola kannoneer's stat block. Did it even occur to Smith and Perez that PCs fighting a kroola kannoneer would covet the weapon--and should 5th-level PCs (the kroola kannoneer is a 5th-level monster) be running around with a ranged 10/20 weapon that does 2d8 + Dexterity modifier (reverse-engineering the 2d8 + 4 damage expression from the stat block) at will? A concerned DM can simply leave the kannoneer out of his or her campaign, of course, but why doesn't the product show any awareness of these issues?

So in sum, I have to say that the kroola write-up delivers less than I thought it would. I can unreservedly give the art and the racial/cultural concept five stars each, but the presentation (other than artwork) only earns three stars and the mechanics get only 2.5, for too many unanswered questions. Giving mechanics extra weight--that's the most important thing, after all--I give this product an overall three stars.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Hey there! Thanks so much for reviewing out product! Some of your questions are answered in the follow-up free supplement we just released, such as the cutlass being defined as a new basic weapon type! We hope you'll forgive any perceived errors, and hope you nevertheless enjoy the kroola. Thanks again!
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