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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2012 12:20:27
Weighing in at 52 pages this PDF presents us with a core bestiary for the Shadowsfall setting, and one seriously twisted collection of critters. The page breakdown is as follows:
Covers, Front & Back: 1 page each
Blank pages: 2, 1 after front cover, and 1 before back cover
SRD, TOC: 1 page each
List of suitable monsters from other sources: 1 page, and an interesting idea to support core products in a very useful manner. Extremely helpful list for a GM.
Advertisement: 1 page, showcasing the Player's companion and Gazetteer for Shadowsfall
New Material: 30 pages of new or variant monsters
Appendices: 14 pages of variants, CR listings, universal rules, new feats, etc.
Formatting follows the standard dual column look for monster statblocks we've all come to know, with embedded artwork that ranges from really spectacular to OK. All interior artwork is B&W, with a few pieces of stock art that prove perhaps the stock pool needs to be replenished (I've seen a few of these pieces elsewhere, several times). Grammatically there were a few missteps, but nothing that couldn't be worked out for meaning quickly enough (i.e. Black work poison instead of Black worm poison or a racid stench for a rancid stench).
Now, before I go into detailing any of the creatures within this collection, I want to point out one of the cooler features of this book in my opinion. The creatures are presented with advice, words of wisdom if you will, from others who have encountered them. The inclusion of this really helps sell the immersion factor, and added a very cool factor to this book making it more than just another collection of monsters. There are also many, many references to pieces of literature detailing these creatures within the Shadowsfall setting, which I love, because it's another immersion technique, and a great way to introduce tomes to our players.
So, let's take a look at the beasties, shall we?
Black Worm: A colossal beast, think the shadow planes answer to the purple worm...on steroids....pissed. At a CR18 this monstrosity can swallow you, that town, and the hamlet on the other side of the river..whole....It's fricking huge, and has a breath weapon to boot. One seriously wicked worm folks.
Centaur Raav: A skeletal abomination built from the bones of a centaur and armed with bone spikes and blades protruding from its extremities, this is one seriously wicked looking creature.
Clawed Kadian: An interesting take on a ghost, the creature is a ghost who is still corporeal, with incorporeal attack options.
Darkling: Now this, this is how dark fey should be presented. The darkling actually accelerates its healing by licking the blood of its victims from its axe or claws....that's just so twisted. Well done.
Deathhand: The ferryman's personal hunting dogs, a deathhand would be the last thing you ever want to stumble across. Charged with collecting those who have tasted death, these are seriously dangerous opponents to have to face in combat. Also presented within this entry are several Deathhand Captains, while no stats are presented, more than enough adventure hooks and thoughts on their advanced nature is provided to use them easily enough.
Quake Dragon With how often we see a variant dragon show up in a new creature book, it is always a pleasure to find one that really is good, and manages to feel fresh and new without departing from the concept of what a dragon is. The quake dragon is presented with a full age progression chart, as well as a couple of full statblocks for various points in it's lifespan. A well thought out creature, with some interesting abilities, like Earth Glide – allowing it to essentially swim through earth, leaving no tunnel or trace of its passing.
Dread Gargoyle: A larger, more dangerous variety of the standard gargoyle with the ability to manipulate its own body to always have stones ready to throw.
Dull Mite: The shadowplane variant on the material plane's Mite, these little fey have been drained of their color, and have the ability to steal their targets, resulting in Charisma penalties.
Shadow Elemental: Detailing a standard as well as a range from small through huge, greater and elder, this entry gives you a total of 6 variations of this elemental.
Great Dodo: Gargantuan in size and pissed that your grandpa ate its cousins, this giant bird has a score to settle.
Headless Hunchback Skeleton: Both a standard and a champion variety are presented.
Helblar: 3 full statblocks for a standard, greater and champion are presented for this odd guardian of the dead and their resting places.
Kyton, Dermistide: Wrapped in bandages that it can control to grapple and flay its targets with, this particular kyton variant is twisted in it's sadism.
Kyton, Noxil: Only as large as a halfling, these wretches have their heads encased in a spiked harness whilst a pendulum blade hangs suspended from their necks.
Monkeybat: So, channeling their inner Oz, this creature not only satisfies those looking for winged monkeys, but goes that extra mile and gives us the adventure hook of the entire arrival of Dorothy (now renamed Dorhana Breeze). Liked the creature, would have liked it more without the over the top references to Baum's characters. It was strong enough to stand on its own, it really was.
Nightshade, Nightstalker: A commander of skeletal armies, this undead lion of shadow hunts the negative plane for the living.
Onyx Ooze: killing with a “cold acid”, the Onyx Ooze is a far more cunning predator than your standard ooze.
Phantasm Swarm: A collection of souls denied an eternal reward after death, this collective rages against religion, and those that serve it.
Psychopomp, Memitim: A collector of souls essentially, the memitim's purpose is to make sure that powerful souls pass on, and do not end up as undead.
Shade Anuran: A frog like race with an interesting ability to utilize the shadows around them.
Spectres: Stats presented for both a spawn and a lord, as are enough fluff to work two epic spectres into a campaign.
Spiderbear: Remember that spider you squished in the shower? Pray these never find out. All the abilities and poison of a giant spider merged with the power, strength and claws of a bear.....dear lord forgive us our spider squishing, we know not what we might be pissing off.
Starak: The ShadowPlane's answer to the Tarrasque, a colossal beast that sleeps for centuries, eats and demolishes nations, and is pretty much an all around bad ass. Add to that a deafening roar, and you have yourself a contender for that massave monster fight you've always wanted to stage (tarrasque vs. starak anyone?)
Unquiet Giant: Ok, I love me some undead, I do. But this feels like a template, not a monster. It's cool, it is, but in presenting it in this manner I am left wondering, if this is an undead giant, what race of giant was it before it died? What happened to those abilities it had in life?
Vampiric Tree: darting its targets with poison sap covered bark, this tree then “bites” into its prey with it's roots, draining them of their blood.
Appendix 1: Shadows - statblocks for variant shadows, who ever said shadows are only human?
]Appendix 2: Skeletons- variant skeletons, including the monkey and minotaur skeletons
Appendix 3: Zombies- variant zombies including a bulette, a basilisk and a gnome.
Appendix 4: Darkened Template- template to transform any creature into a being embraced by the realm of shadow. Example creatures include the Darkened Giant Centipede and Darkened Kraken.
Appendix 5: Universal Monster Rules- 4 pages detailing the universal abilities found within statblocks, helping to keep the statblocks more streamlined and clean looking by organizing all of this information together.
Appendix 6: Feats 1 ½ pages detailing the new feats scattered through statblocks throughout this PDF. Appendix 7: New Creature Subtypes- small paragraph covering the Shadow subtype.
Appendix 8: Creatures by CR- ½ page list

All in all, a fantastic collection of creatures. There are a few that did not grab me, and this is normal in a collection of this nature, as the standard right off the bat was set pretty high with the Black Worm, raising the stakes for all creatures after it. As a sourcebook for the Shadowsfall setting, this book is a must, but even without using this specific setting, this collection of creatures is a treasure trove of diabolical deliciousness. Giving this book a solid 5 stars rating, and highly recommending it to any and all GM's out there.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
by Dark M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2012 11:22:50
Book of Beats: Monsters of the Shadow Plane by Jon Brazer Enterprises

This product is 52 pages long. It starts with a cover, ToC, OGL, and credits. (4 pages)

Monsters(39 pages)
It starts off with a list of monsters from the 3 Pathfinder Bestiary's that also fit the plane of shadow. There is 57 new monsters in this book so no way I can list them all. They range in CR from ¼ to 21, and they seem to be fairly evenly spaced out in CR ranges over that range. This includes the first four appendix's which included several types of shadows 5, skeletons 6, zombies 6 and a new Darkened Template with 4 monsters having it applied to them already. Below is a few of my personal favorites.
Darkling – evil fey that look wicked cool and are wicked cool. They can self heal by licking blood from their fey axe.
Deathand – think of them like soul stealing grim reapers.
Dull Mite – I love them just for one of their special abilities. Color steal, yes they drain the color from stuff and do Chr dmg. Gnomes of Pathfinder shake with fear.
Elemental Shadows – Something needed.
Great Dodo – It's a giant Dodo being shown eating a man, what more need I say?
Monkeybat – it is a monkeybat that flings … filth... your players will HATE them.
Nightstalker – a Shadow undead lion thing, that causes desecration and fear.
Onyx Ooze – A ooze long ago trapped on the plane of shadow and transformed and spawned a new race.
Phantasm Swarm – tiny undead swarm, one of the coolest monsters in the book.
Vampiric Tree – despite it's name it is just a tree that eats living things.

Appendix 5-8 (8 pages)
Appendix 5 is a copy of the universal monster rules. Six is copies of feats used by the monster within this book. Seven is a new subtype of monster the shadow subtype and Eight lists the the creatures by CR groups.

It ends with a ads and back cover. (3 page)

Closing thoughts. The art work is black and white and range from meh to pretty good. Editing and layout is very good. I didn't notice any errors at all. It is well bookmarked which is a big plus for a PDF this size. There is a whole host of varied and well done monsters, with new and interesting abilities, how they fit into the plane of shadow ecology, etc. While not all the monsters where great, there was very few bad ones and the vast majority where very good to outstanding. If this is the type of product we can expect from the rest of the line I really can't wait for it. I should note I am somewhat biased. I love the plane of shadow and have been looking forward to this book and the rest in the series since I heard about it. Plus I live there, so I am curious to see how well mere mortals get it right. So what's my rating? I am giving this a 5 star review. If you want monsters for the Plane of Shadows or more options from that plane then pick it up. You won't regret it.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2012 11:55:51
The first of the supplements for the upcoming Shadowsfall-prodcuts centered on the shadow plane, the latest Book of Beasts (the predecessor made it on my top-10-2011-list) is 52 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page containing suitable monsters from the core-books (nice support for the DM!), 1 page advertisement, 1 page blank inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving 44 pages of content, so let's check this out!

After the lists in the beginning, we are introduced to the first new beast, and glorious it is: The Black Worm (CR 18) is essentially the shadow plane-version of a purple worm, just...well...worse - add negative energy breath weapons, insane SR etc and you're in for a good example of what to expect from this book: While the beasts herein are thematically linked and shadow-plane-themed, they do feature massively different abilities from their prime material counterparts, if such exist. Also, each entry features a descriptive fluff of the beast and some text by one of the survivors or other players of the setting. The CR 7 Centaur Raav is an undead centaur with scyth-blades at the arms and bone-spikes protruding from their skeletal frames. While cool, the semi-incorporeal Clawed Kaidan (CR 9) features an aura of lethargy and feature not only a disturbing artwork, but also abilities to match and a neat weakness.

Truly disturbing and one of my favorites in this book is the (blandly named) CR 6 Darkling - Troll-like fey with an aura of silence, the ability to spray deadly snow and wicked stone axes - awesome creatures supplemented by a stellar b/w-artwork. The CR 17 Deathhands, hunters of Charon seeking to kill people who cheated death also make for a neat take on the Grim Reaper-trope. The Quake Dragons (3 sample stats) are also a neat new creature and actually a kind of dragon that does add something to the draconic family. Dread Gargoyles, essentially CR 10 more badasss gargoyles, are the first creature that somewhat fell short for me personally, in spite of its disturbing ability to form the stone of their own body. Then, there are the Dull Mites (CR 2), shadow plane versions of the mites that can steal your colors! Of course, we also get shadow elementals, rather tricky customers (6 statblocks) and while there's nothing bad about them, they fall terribly short of the...

GREAT DODO (CR 7)! Yep, you read right, there are still giant dods on the plane of shadows and they subconsciously know that your ancestors have hunted them to extinction on the prime material, thus making them even more ferocious and fueling their rage of extinction. Fast, deadly, cool and a little bit silly, the Great Dodo is a prime example of stellar monster design. For those discerning liches who are truly equal-opportunity, we get 2 stats for hunchbacked skeletons and then there are the Helblar (3 statblocks) - these undead guardians of the graveyards adhere to special ethics and woe to any who disturb their chosen fields....

On the iconic and truly disturbing side of things, we get two new kinds of Kytons -the CR 11 Dermestide (who skins foes alive and wears the straps like a mummy) and the CR 1 Noxil Kyton, who wears a spiked head mask and a heavy pendulum blade attached to it, forever suffering under its weight - very cool idea and features a unique fighting style - especially awesome for a CR 1 creature - they feel wholly distinct from any regular creatures of the same CR. Kudos!
The shadowplane is not Oz, yet there are Monkeybats (CR 1/4) as well and the filth is both a carrier for diseases and a great component for wizards. Not so great for wizards (or any other living being) is the new Nightstalker (CR 12), a lion-like Nightshade of black flames that heals via inducing fear while it leads its undead armies. The Onyx ooze (CR 8)on the other hand is a rudimentary intelligent predator that will make your PCs double-check any source of water.
The Phantasm Swarm, a conglomerate of dissolved souls forever barred from the afterlife (CR 12) seeks to wreck its vengeance on any priests and pietous characters (and comes as an undead swarm with an awesome artwork). The new Memitim Psychopomp (CR 14, I still can't get over the creature class-name - not the fault of this book, though) is a kind of reaper-angel that tries to escort powerful beings into the afterlife. When compared with this array of awesome beings, the CR 3 Shade Aurans, amphibious frog-like humanoids fall somewhat short, but this is offset a bit by two new statblocks on spectres and information on legendary spectres of the Shadowsfall.

Grognards like yours truly get a nice blast from the past/homage in the form of the Spiderbear, a CR 9 magical beast that had me remember Mishka and his dread demons. The CR 19 Starak is not even a bit cute - a class of legendary beasts, their control of the earth itself makes them for dragon-strength foes below the surface - very cool. The Unquiet Giant (CR 13) has a nice twist on the trope of the undead giant: They rhyme while squishing foes! While the idea is cool, I have some problems with this creature: a) I think it should have been a template. b) Been there, done that - x times. c) with exactly that (admittedly gorgeous) artwork - I've seen it 5 (!!!) times in different publications - we need a new undead giant artwork out there! The final creature of the pdf is the vampiric tree, an iconic CR 10 blood draining, voracious part of the flora that ensures that going to the deep dark forest is nothing to laugh about - they stun you via bark darts and then pummel you into submission to ram their blood-draining, fang-like roots into your body - ouch!

The appendices provide ample additional undead for your campaign, i.e. 5 different shadows (including a titan centipede shadow!), 6 sample skeletons, 6 sample zombies, the darkened template (CR +1), 4 sample creatures and for your convenience's sake, reprint some universal monster rules and monster feats as well as the rules for the shadow subtypes and a list of creatures by CR.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches, which is quite a feat over so many pages. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard that features awesome artworks - kudos to the participating artists. The pdf is extensively bookmarked, adding to the usability of the book and the overall organization of the content is awesome. The bits and pieces of information on the settings, specific individuals/advanced creatures etc. made me anticipate more books from the line and the overall standard of the critters, their signature abilities and sheer iconic qualities has baffled me - while there were 3 creatures that felt like falling a bit short of the standard of the book, said standard is so high that this was to be anticipated. In fact, I was rather baffled that this book turned out not to be another selection of easily exchangeable undead/dark creatures, but rather contains a wealth of cool creatures and ideas. If I had to voice one gripe I have with this book, then it would be that it does not include hazards and sample NPCs like its predecessor, but I gather that's because of the other books in the line. Thus, I look forward to seeing more supplements for the plane of shadows and, taking the more than fair price into account, remain with a final verdict of 5 stars and a definite recommendation for this excellent bestiary.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
by Alfred B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2012 10:34:34
Dale and Jon Brazer Enterprises put together an excellent product every time and this is no exception. Monsters of the Shadow Plane is a great first step into the world of Shadowsfall or just the Plane of Shadows itself. The monsters here are balanced and represent a wide range of CR’s so any GM will find a good use for this book. If you are interested in running your players through a Plane of Shadows adventure or maybe just mixing up the standard bestiary line-up, this is the book for you.

Read my full review here: http://www.thealfredeffect.com/?p=879

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale
by Wesley R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2012 12:53:19
I am not very good at writing book reviews, but I enjoyed reading it. It was a nice introduction to the kind of stories that would fit well in a shadowsfall game. Kind of short, but very enjoyable.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale
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Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale
by Aaron T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2012 17:50:02
This short story is about Valdia, a half-vampire trying to protect the village of Sheol. Sheol is located on the Plane of Shadow, an opposite of the normal world inhabited by undead and other creatures that shun the darkness. She has been hired to rescue an infant kidnapped by ghouls. Unfortunately, she has fallen victim to a plot to separate her from her chosen wards (thus the Pawn and Deception).

Here we have a heroine who is conflicted about her heritage who is trying to fit in with the human population of the town that she has chosen to defend. The townspeople don't trust her because of her heritage. She does not get along with her vampire father, who takes an interest in her activities for undisclosed reasons of his own. There is some fighting and mild horror violence. The words themselves are strictly PG on the MPAA rating scale. However, on film there are scenes that would push it firmly into the realm of PG-13. The story is dark, but not inappropriate for anyone 13 or up. Would definitely be enjoyed by any adult who is a fan of dark fiction (Valdia's father offers to take the infant off her hands, presumably as foodstuffs. No sparkly vampires here).

My only complaint is two spelling errors (incorrect homonyms used). I would rate this a 3.75, rounded up to 4 stars. A bargain at the price.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
d66 Compendium
by Zachary H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/31/2011 12:42:00
With lists and tables running from Ship Names to Planetary Atmospheres to Spaceport Bar Names, Jon Brazer Enterprises continues their d66 line with their d66 Compendium. If, like me, you're a Referee/GM who enjoys random tables to help flesh out their game or occasionally draws a blank when put on the spot, the Compendium should be a nice add to your game.

Results are rolled using the d66 method, as Mongoose Traveller uses d6s in resolution. For example, rolling a 3 and a 4 gives me a result of 34, which on the Planetary Government table would be Enlightened Absolutism.

I grabbed this product when it was marked down to $7.99. The original list price of $12.99 was likely beyond what I'd pay for a 52-page pdf, but overall I'm satisfied with this purchase. I would have liked to see a few more charts for the price, but still feel this should be an asset to my gaming. It's a good buy for Referees needing that little assist or who enjoy random charts geared towards the fun of the Traveller RPG.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
d66 Compendium
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Book of Friends and Foes: Under the Mountain (PFRPG)
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2011 09:22:51
Iron Nugget
Book of Friends and Foes: Under the Mountain gives us 5 well-stated NPCs that all have some relation to Dwarves.

The five NPCs all range from level 5 to 7 and can easily be inserted in a campaign. There is only one magic user, a cleric in the bunch. These NPCs are ready to drop into a campaign if you are pinching for an NPC while players are exploring dwarven regions. I also like the idea of using an NPC from this product if your party has a dwarf or two.

Iron Word
There really should have been more of a variety in the classes. Wizards are far more difficult to stat and far more valuable. Still, the colorful backgrounds shine through to make the NPCs of Under the Mountain useful and worthy of meeting a party.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Friends and Foes: Under the Mountain (PFRPG)
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Book of Magic: Signature Spells 1 (PFRPG)
by Dark M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2011 18:18:58
Book of Magic: Signature Spells 1 by Jon Brazer Enterprises

This product is 12 pages long. It starts with a cover, OGL, and credits. (2 pages)

Spell Lists (3 page)
This is a list of all the caster classes of which spells they get at which levels. Spells by class. The range in levels of cantrip to 7th.
Alchemist – 5
Anti-Paladin – 4
Bard – 13
Cleric – 12
Druid – 10
Inquisitor – 5
Magus – 15
Paladin – 4
Ranger – 8
Sorc/Wizard – 26
Summoner – 9
Witch - 15

Signature Spells (5 pages)
There is 31 new spells. While most of the spells where pretty good I didn't think all of them fit the idea of signature spells. Here is a few I thought was well done in that regard and some I thought was not well done with the concept.
Fits
Banshee Keen – a sonic/deafen cone attack.
Halican's Emergency Hull Restorer – gives temp hp to ships or objects. (there is several spells fitting a theme with Halican's name)
Leighanna's Bewitching Appearance – makes you look pretty and likeable. Gives bonus to social roles. (there is several spells fitting a theme with Leighanna's name)
Riyal's Mental Guard – Gives a bonus to save vs mind effecting abilities. (there is several spells fitting a theme with Riyal's name)
Rostov's Snake Strike – Gain one attack at highest attack immediately, only usable in certain ways. (there is several spells fitting a theme with Rostov's name)
Shallan's Wall of Shadows – A wall of shadow that grants concealment to those on the other side of it. (there is several spells fitting a theme with Shallan's name)

Doesn't Fit
Abyssal Body – gives a DR/5 vs good. There is versions of this spell each with it's own name for law, chaos, evil etc.
Dragon Scales – adds natural armor and energy resistance depending on dragon color.
Mage Armor 2 – better version of Mage Armor. There is 2 new versions 2 and 3.

It ends with a back cover and ads. (2 pages)

Closing thoughts. There is only two art pieces, both are black and white. One is fair and one is good. Editing and layout was good I didn't notice errors. Now I listed spells by those that fit and didn't fit the idea of the concept. Those that didn't fit doesn't make them bad spell, just they don't really fit the concept idea. The reverse is true not as well. Not all the spells that fit the concept where good spells. The snake strike example was actually I felt a bit to powerful for it's level. The named spells that fit a theme fit what I was expecting in the product. Most of the spells in the book where well done but some where rather bland and boring, like improved mage armor. I want to see more of Halican's or Leighanna's spells. I think the next book needs to have about 6-10 groups of 3-5 spells each like those. I also would have loved to have seen more history and flavor text about the spells, maybe a short paragraph or two side bar talking about the caster that made them. That would be very cool. I find this one a bit hard to rate. On one hand most of the spells are pretty well done and if you are just looking for some new spells I would give this a 4 star review. But if you are looking for cool signature spells then a chunk of them just falls way short of that and I would only give it a 3 star review. So I am going to settle on a 3.5 star review for this product.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Magic: Signature Spells 1 (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review.
Book of Magic: Signature Spells 1 (PFRPG)
by Alfred B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/23/2011 09:33:44
This is a solid addition to anyone's spell repertoire. Dale does an awesome job of providing a solid mix of spells for a wide-range of classes. Not only that but these spells have a truly unique feel like they really did come from the private library of some caster or were perhaps one of their signature spells. Any way you look at it this is a solid deal of the number of spells you get.

For a more in-depth review feel free to check out my site: http://www.thealfredeffect.com/?p=736

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review.
Book of Magic: Signature Spells 1 (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2011 11:04:44
This pdf is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 8 pages for the signature spells.

After 3 pages of spell-lists, providing lists for classes like Magus, Alchemist, etc. (NICE!) as well as the basic core classes, we are introduced to the selection of new spells herein. If I have not miscounted, we get 31 new spells, several of which are supposed to be signature spells or certain legendary mages. I really like that premise, as e.g. Bigby's hands will always have fond adherents among my players, as do the Tenser, Rary, Otiluke etc. spells - being a certain mage's work and carrying their distinct style makes them stand out amidst the flood of magic available.

That being said, signature spells need to go beyond just providing benefits - they have to fit a certain theme and feature an iconic quality - so, how do they stand up?

To be frank, the first three spells of this pdf did not excite me: They belong to a set of 4 spells that provide DR 5/alignment. Boring. Brick Wall's Fortitude provides a scaling bonus to fort saves. Not exciting either. There are also similar spells for reflex and will saves. Gaining Dragon Scales (DR, natural armor and associated resistance) is another spell I don't need. There are also two spells to cover one's scent, which I consider useful but not iconic per se.

Fortunately, Halican's 4 spells were up next - they deal with ships, repairing them or creating a hydraulic water burst - now we're talking! These water-related spells fit a characteristic niche, provide neat ideas and follow them. Leighanna's 3 spells, primarily dealing with subtle tactical advances and manipulations also offer some cool options like forcing foes to delay actions - again, neat!

After that, though, we once again get spells that are rather bland - greater variants of mage armor. Riyal's three spells are low-level defensive magic and Rostov's snake themed spells felt nice - though the Snake Strike is overpowered: A level 2 spell that grants an attack action to the creature touched at its highest attack bonus against a target, essentially enabling you to hit via your buddy. Ouch.

Shallan's 4 spells deal with shadows - shadow walls, an area-of-effect enfeeblement attack (10 ft. burst) and a cha-leeching ray sorcerors and other cha-based casters will hate.

The pdf closes with a spell to summon dwarven armor and a wall of leaves.

Users of Herolab should rejoice, for the pdf comes with a .hl-file - great additional support!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice a single glitch. Layout adheres to a very printer-friendly, easy-to-read 2-column standard and I really like the covers - I did not like the layout-decision to print the sub-header on the front cover in a rather bland, standard font, though. It somewhat impedes the coolness of the otherwise neat cover. The 2 pieces of b/w-artwork are nice. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks and I've already mentioned the herolab support, another plus. Oh boy. It's been quite I while since I was so conflicted about a pdf.

On the one hand, the new spells by mages and their thematic link is neat, as is the support for all the classes. On the other hand, several of the spells are the complete opposite to signature spells, being the epitome of blandness. The "alignment-body" spells and the + x to save spells are terribly uncreative and feel like filler at best. Call me cynical, but they just didn't do it for me. Which is a damn pity: Hallican's, Leighanna's and Riyal's spells felt VERY interesting, iconic and cool to me, making only more apparent that author Dale C. McCoy Jr. CAN write excellent spells. Moreover, none of the spells really felt completely out of line, striking a nice balance between innovation and power.

Let me be frank: This pdf contains some of my new favorite spells. However, it also contains some of my new least favorite spells. The aim of providing signature spells has been partially fulfilled and were I to voice a request, I'd ask for flavor text (spinning little stories around the spells or their creators)as well as getting rid of filler spells in future installments. Improved versions of Mage Armor belong to a book on spell variants, not in one on signature spells.

Unfortunately, not all spells in this pdf belong to the category of kicking ass and taking names unique spells. You should just be aware that not all spells herein are killer or signature spells. The pdf is very affordable, though, and comes with Herolab-support, which somewhat offsets the relatively low amount of content when compared to other spell-centric pdfs. In the end, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform - if you're in it for some cool spells, you won't regret the purchase.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review.
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2011 08:46:19
This pdf is 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 blank page inside of the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/Monsters by CR, 1 page back cover, 1 blank page inside the back cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisements.
That leaves 28 pages of monsters.

-Addanc (CR7): A cross between a crocodile and a beaver, this could be goofy, but actually works. Death Roll (Ex) is a cool ability.

-Autumn Death (CR 8): A deadly undead creature with autumnal abilities. Has two cool signature abilities.

-Avowed Reaver (CR 5):Touched by elemental powers, this is a set of 4 CR+2 templates in one.

-Bog Scum (CR13): Aquatic, climbing deadly ooze.

-Fly Trap, Giant + Dire (CR 2 and CR 6): Cool plants, but lack a way to enthrall their victims.

-Forest Giant (CR 12): A Giant with some spell-like abilities to escape and polymorph others.

-Frost Mite Swarm (CR 10): Terrible insects of icy cold, these critters are quite creepy.

-Garmunchi (CR 6): Ugly, strong, slug-eating Ogre-like Humanoids.

-Hatethrall Demon (CR 6): Flame-clad skull-demons that shoot fiery rays.

-Hydrus (CR ½): A poisonous aquatic lizard that invades others to eat them from the inside. Great critter!

-Lemkin (CR 9): Creepy blow-gun using fey.

-Nightcaller (CR 1): Deadly Raven-like birds that can mimic voices.

-Piranha, mature and Piranha Swarm (CR 1 + CR 2): Iconic fish. Lacking in lethality, though.

-River Dragon (2 pages, two sample dragons provided, CR 7 + CR16): Aquatic dragon with boiling-abilities – want your adventurers medium?

-Riverswell Spirit (CR 7): Drowned spirit with drowning touch.

-Shrine Stone, Animated (CR 7): Guardian golem of Druids and Fey.

-Silver Bell (CR 3): Supremely creepy and cool plant creature.

-Skate Spider, Giant (CR 5) and Skate Spider Swarm (CR 6): Spiders that can walk on water.

-Snapping Turtle (CR 2) + Snapping Turtle,Dire (CR 8): Cool, but I would have expected an expanded threat range.

-Stumble Fish (CR 1): Jumping fish.

The first Appendix features Humanoid Encounters:

-Cursed Brethren (CR 3)and their Bandit King (CR 6) (2 pages): Cursed bandits that share their pain and thus are deadly when acting in concert. Cool ideas!

-Grammy Beshic (CR 9) (2 pages): A Gnome Sorceress including her new “Rings of Rebellion” magic item.

Appendix 2 features 2 new gambling games and a new drug. (1 page)

Appendix 3 presents 6 new haunts (1 page):

Blinding Bushes (CR 6), Chamber of Screams (CR 3), Ensnaring Weeds (CR3), Ice Forge (CR 2), Pool of Betrayal (CR 9) and River Fog (CR 4). They are all cool and feature at least one interesting component to make them stand apart.

The final page contains the last two appendices, containing 5 new mini-templates and 8 new diseases.

Conclusion:

The b/w-artwork is mostly ok and has a nice old-school kind of flair, the editing and formatting are top-notch and wording as well as prose are concise and well-written. The monsters themselves presented herein are great additions to any campaign – most have a signature ability or two, an interesting hook or are just iconic animals and plants. While I personally didn’t care too much for e.g. the Garmunchi, that’s a personal preference. E.g. the Silver Bell is an idea dripping awesomeness and win and there are several of this caliber herein. The new gambling games, drug, haunts, NPCs etc. are great additions (the haunts e.g. singlehandedly surpass any haunts from a haunt-pdf I recently reviewed)to this great book and I can honestly say that this is a no-filler-book and worth every cent. If all monster-books were like that, I’d buy more. My final verdict is 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations (PFRPG)
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d66 Space Station Names
by Peter H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2011 02:30:36
Like all d66 tables this one is easy to use and offers a nice pick of names topush that adventure that got stuck because you just can't get a decnt name beyond Station 41.
And as in the other d66-tables it feels a bit short. But anyway a great thing for the price!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
d66 Space Station Names
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Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
by Rachel B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2011 07:25:23
Our group has been using this along with the Kingmaker Adventure Path. We have found it to be very helpful.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
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Book of the River Nations: Mass Combat (PFRPG)
by Andre F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/30/2011 10:04:11
This is Andre Faucher on behalf of Gamer's Haven, reviewing the product Book of the River Nations: Mass Combat, an addition to their already steadfast collection of how to run a kingdom and all aspects of it. This pdf is focused on running your army, from maintaining it to crushing the enemies of the nation.

What are some of the drawbacks of this text or rules within?

1.) Requires other texts. If you truly want to get the full flavor of this, buy the Kingdom Building and Exploration pack too. When I first bought this text I did not have that, and the conversion that they have does not mesh as well as one would hope.
2.) Maintaining the Army. While running an army is expensive, Mass Combat makes it seem near impossible to keep a standing army from fleeing into the hills with a steep maintenance cost. This can cripple the ideas of having an army ready over a long period, or even for short periods. The cost is 2 BP (with Kingdom Builder rules) or 5,000 Gold (without) for most standard troops. Doing the math, effectively to maintain an army of 100 standard militia, which costs 2 bp, that means that every week each soldier has 50 gold spent on them. Apparently every week the soldier breaks at least one major part of equipment or they eat like kinds.

What are some of the benefits of this book?

1.) Versatility. This book allows numerous combination of armies that can deal with just about any idea that the group is interested in building.
2.) Mostly Good Rules. The combat system mimics much of the standard d20 fighting system but it speeds it up and allows the game to remain interesting while throwing massive armies against each other. Perhaps the best, or at least my personal favorite rule, is the CR scaling. With the increase or decrease in number and effectiveness of troops it allows for a very balanced fight. It also has the rules for a single target... say for example a giant or a high level character. This allows the characters to finally run around the battle field and do something, rather than have the player grind through 100 soldiers.
3.) Easy. These rules are not complicated and can easily be used or adapted to make a fight go much faster allowing players the feeling of huge battles without the long drawn out pain of all the rolling.

Conclusion?

If you like the River Nations collection, this is a must buy. This is a mostly good book that caters to army based campaigns, and further expands the wonderful Book of the River Nations collection. It is a good cheap price that will save a lot of head aches, or carpal tunnel if one is actually rolling out a battle of 1,000 troops, and can be easily read and understood. The only real downside is that maintenance of armies is really expensive. However in the book they note this, as to make sure that people feel the pain of a long drawn out war. In addition historically many nations did not maintain a standing army year around, because it was too expensive, and only used them in short controlled periods.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the River Nations: Mass Combat (PFRPG)
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