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Jalizar, City of Thieves
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2016 11:44:54

Jalizar rhymes with Shadizar and Lankhmar.... This book begins with a long description of the city's history and some of its features. A wonderful city map is provided too. The rest of the book is magnificient. As always, there are character concepts - I just regret that some of these concepts are not included in the stats section with "Denizens", but this seems to have been partly corrected with the document "Archetypes of the Dominions and Jalizar" that you can download for free.


The "sidebars" are excellent inputs, ex :Thieves' Signs, Merchants of Jalizar...
After new edges, hindrances and trappings, the Setting Rules will help Gamemasters to enliven the rotten atmosphere of Jalizar with game mechanisms for beggars, thieves and all ingredients for dwellers of that urban jungle. There are random generators for urban locations, citizens, traps, beggars' features, and sewers (with are described in depth).


Of course, other RpG systems have longer fantasy guides for cities, but U. Pignatelli has understood that the main task for urban gaming is not about having a city map for tourists, rather about situations and atmosphere. Sometimes, Jalizar (though it has its own personality) makes me think at the corrupted city of Kharé, in the "Sorcery" gamebook series by S.Jackson. Umberto has made Jalizar, the Flower of the North, "so rotten that it is good..." for roleplaying ! Definitely a must-have for any game session taking place in a medieval fantasy city.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Jalizar, City of Thieves
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Beasts of the Dominions
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2016 07:14:07

You thought "Beasts of the Dominions" was a bestiary for "Beasts & Barbarians" ?
Wrong ! I know... I wonder why they called this book "Beasts of the Dominions" since it contains the description of less than ten monsters... "Adventures in the Dominions" would have been far better, fot it is a collection of 10 short or medium-sized adventures. I must say I am not a big fan of the free B&B short adventures, for I think they don't manage to convey the thrill of Sword & Sorcery gaming, but here, they are quite compact so you won't get disappointed by most of the tales that this volume contains. For interested purchasers, here is a very short description :



  • "The betrayers of Rhybard" : The heroes must act as spies for a Borderlands governor; their mission is to infiltrate a powerful rebell band. Will they side with the brave rebells or remain loyal to the governor ? This adventure is vert dense, and those 10 pages provide stuff for several evenings.

    • "Lotus Spawn" : In Zandor, the heroes have to retrieve the local ruler's daughter from the claws of brigands who have found shelter in an old forest. Alas, the players will have to compete with a reckless rival, and the forest is infested by... Lotus Spawn.

    • "Moloke-Tanu": The players are members of a merchant party allied to a friendly Ivory Savannah tribe. But strange disappearances menace the success of that expedition. Who or what is lurking around ?

    • "Pale Shadow" is definitely reminiscent of the "Pool of the Black Ones", a Conan story by R. Howard. The heroes had no other choice but to join a pirate crew highly divided between sailors disgruntled by their captain and the rest still loyal to her. In fact, only the common goal of a treasure hunt thanks to a recently found map holds them together. Once on the island, violence is about to break up....

    • "Pantarkos Lucretios" : This decadent Faberterran noble has kidnapped the heroes who must now fight for their survival in his private arena... or perhaps they'll prefer to find some new escape route ?

    • "Caudru" : The heroes act as bodyguards of a 16 years-old pampered and arrogant nobleman, Salathar, in southern Kyros. One night, while they're enjoying a banquet in the palace of Salathar's uncle, the High Priestess of the godess of fertility pays them a visit....

    • "Spider Queen" : The heroes escort the newly appointed governor of Vadokara, in southern Kyros. Something's wrong in this crumbling town, since the two former governors disappeared without a trace. Can the heroes save the new governor from such a doom ?
      I have some criticism here. Not of the adventure itself which is really entertaining, in the very spirit of S&S. But I deeply regret the absence of any map for I am unable to figure out the layout of two key scenes (the escape and the final lair). The excellent abstract navigation system provided once again by Umberto cannot give the answers to the very probable questions the players will ask on the whereabouts of their characters and their foes.


  • "Tokomal's Jaghza" : While riding along a Tricarnian abandoned ricefield, the heroes rescue a desperate pregnant teenage girl. But she's soon abducted once again by her evil master... (Warning, this story is truly horrific !)

  • "Yarakan" : One more adventure with a strong Conanesque feel : the heroes are hired by a vengeful captain who wants to retrieve a Khav cargo out of his vessel, now stranded in the swamps of the Buffalo river delta....

  • "Yellowfingers" : Here, the heroes are sent to a gloomy cairn in order to negotiate peace between two clans...


The book ends with an Appendix, the "Disciples of the Black Temple", a Caldeian sect with new edges and gear.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts of the Dominions
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Gladiators of the Dominion
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2016 08:58:00

Have your players something to do in an arena ? If no, this book is not for you.


If yes, buy it ! As far as I know, this is the only RPG book dealing with this topic with so much depth. (Some D&D 3.5 supplements had only a few rules). You can think first that nothing is easier than opposing your playing characters -gladiators to a few other warriors inspired from what you found in history books on Antiquity and to some wild beasts and monsters. But before your players gain their freedom after thirty victorious fights, all of this shall soon turn boring. Fortunately, U.Pignatelli has poured into this book all the ingredients that will make each encounter unique. As always, different types of pit fighters are introduced, beyond the classical models of the myrmidion and the retiarius, not forgetting the special edges and hindrances that go with. Setting rules are excellent : personalities of the arena, how to manage one's fame (or disrepute... if you survive long enough !), "after the duel events" (normal, for a gladiator can't go carousing outside !)... A wonderful arena fight generator is provided, which works (as usual) with cards. No combat will be like the other one ! And if you're tired of gore spilt on sand, reenact "Ben Hur" with the rules for Chariot Races : they're simplified to the max (average charioteers just count as one unit) but still hold a hoard of surprises.

This book ends with "Running the Season", a stand-alone game where the players can run their own gladiatorial team, and have them compete against each other.


This supplement is so good that... it makes you wanna stay in the arena !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gladiators of the Dominion
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Nemezis Adventure Generator
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2016 11:13:09

The "Nemezis Adventure Generator" is a (free !) excerpt from the Savage Worlds setting "Nemezis", and is an improvement of the same generator found in "Beasts & Barbarians" by U.Pignatelli. The product here has been adapted to the sci-fi universe of Nemezis, but since it comes from a sword & sorcery RPG, it is easy to flavour it to your favorite gaming world. At first sight, this generator hadn't interested me so much, because there are already more detailed "adventure" generators available on the Net (Yes, I have spent a few months roaming the Web in search of such generators !). But the real truth is that this instrument does not generate a full-fledged adventure, rather a full-fledged plot, and in this latter function it is excellent.


This generator works with 5 cards you draw from any mundane pack. The suits of the cards indicate the background of the story (place/scenery/opponent/problem/reward) while the values of the same five cards will outline the adventure (threat/hook/genre/plot twist/climax). Each option is described in a well-written short paragraph. The "genre" section has entries that manage to explain, with a couple of sentences, the basic arrangement of the elements of the plot. For example, "5-7" gives "investigation" = "This time the heroes have to discover which of the people (...) have done the deed. There should be a fairly large group of suspects and a number of clues - some being simple red herrings, others pointing to the guilty party." This is not to be confused with "King" = "Intrigue" : "The plot is similar to an investigation : the heroes have to discover the truth, and then prove it. The real difficulty is not discovering who the villain is, but convincing people he is the real source of evil."


This product is free (thanks to GRAMEL !) so don't wait anymore if you are stuck with an adventure plot !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nemezis Adventure Generator
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Tattered Banners - Bandit Lords and Mercenary Captains
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/12/2016 08:17:13

"Tattered Banners" is a Beasts & Barbarians supplement for managing mercenary and bandits companies in the Dominions' World. Publishing a book on this topic was somehow risky, for RPG gamemasters already had at their disposal a good supplement about warfare in the Sword & Sorcery genre : "The Free Companies" for Mongoose's Conan D20 RPG. So, is "Tattered Banners" still worth ?


Yes it is, for both books often fill each other's gaps. "The Free Companies" is very detailed on certain points (mercenaries' missions, sieges and fortifications, adventures for warriors) while "Tattered Banners" is more generic since it can be used for bandits as well, something that, to my knowledge, no other RPG has ever addressed. For example, "The Free Companies" has rules for mercenary captains looking for a (wealthy...) client; "Tattered Banners" doesn't have it (since bandits are not concerned by such an issue) but gives excellent (and easy) rules on how to build one's band. To sum it up, bands are treated like Savage Worlds characters with edges and hindrances, and some members ("personalities") are described with more depth. In this way, your war band is ready for use with the Additional Mass Battle Rules provided in this book (I think it would have been more practical to merge directly the Savage Worlds basic Mass Battle Rules into this chapter).


Right, this system is not as detailed as other ones, but it remains very playable, and is compatible with rules found in other supplements ("Tricarnia" & "Gladiators of the Dominion"). I remember Rolemaster's "War Law" gave a table of combat situations for fighting characters, but it gave also a headache to the gamemaster calculating all the battle values of each foe....


"Tattered Banners" ends with rules for a "Conquest Points Campaign", a system inspired by the famous "Plot Points" adventures of many Savage Worlds settings.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tattered Banners - Bandit Lords and Mercenary Captains
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Tricarnia: Land of Princes and Demons
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/09/2016 15:26:23

Tricarnia - Land of Princes and Demons is a 260 pages Beasts & Barbarians supplement describing one of the staples of Sword & Sorcery, a decadent empire. As always, there is an in-depth description of this realm in the North-West of the Dread Sea Dominions, including a two-pages map. Whether your hero is a haughty noble or a miserable slave, you'll find hundreds of ideas in this book. New edges and rule elements add some more gaming pleasure and make Tricarnia unique. (in fact, there is so much new material that it would be too long for me to list everything there, and it is a pity the book hasn't a detailed Table of Contents, just to attract interested potential purchasers). The background unveiled for this realm of Prince Priests and hopeless slaves is impressive. Of course not every corner of that huge kingdom can be entirely described but Umberto Pignatelli has provided a clever tool that allows to generate randomly the mainlines of Tricarnian sites of interest as well as their atmosphere.


Other sections are dedicated to the "Dream Kingdom", an otherworldly plane of a religion gaining popularity among rebelled slaves of Tricarnia (I shall not spoil more about this). I must say I am less convinced by this added feature to Tricarnia. Page 204, a note warns the GM "not to cross the line into absurdity". This reminds me of the warning found in the Secrets of Skelos supplement for Mongoose's Conan D20 RPG where a section listed other universes than Hyboria (Solar system planets, Lovecraftian universes, and even one realm called "The Dreamlands"), but then a small note specified "Most Conan games should never involve the characters physically travelling to another dimension (...)". Maybe I'm wrong but I think that the space dedicated to that Dream Kingdom should have better been employed to something else, like an Abstract Navigation System in a Tricarnian palace or a slaves' camp.


The book ends with an Organization management Appendix, the Clash of Kings. To sum it up very shortly, this generic system adapts to an organization the Savage Worlds rules for characters, but deviced in a way that players can, if they wish, use it without a GM. Except for that latter feature, there are already "Realm" management systems in some other RPGs. AEG's supplement for the D20 system has Empire, Paizo Pathfinder's Ultimate Campaign has 30 pages of "Kingdom Building" and, in Savage Worlds, Shaintar's Legends Unleashed has the "Long View", a "faction play". In my opinion, each of these systems is the best for a determined kind of organization. Empire is great for kingdoms ad other territorial entities; the Pathfinder rules are, in fact, tailored for cities while the Factions of Shaintar all belong to a defined category (economic, military, covert, criminal, scholastic). On the contrary, as explicitly stated in its rules, the Clash of Kings is generic and non-territorial, what entails it can work well for non-specialized entities not consubstantial to a bounded territory, like clans, tribes or... noble houses of Tricarnia !



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tricarnia: Land of Princes and Demons
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Adventurers!
by Winston C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/28/2016 16:05:08

Adventurers! strips RPG design down to bare essentials to handle all the necessary mechanics - three stats, a skill list, and descriptive phrases. The system uses just 2d6, modified by a few pips to either side and a simple system of advantage vs disadvantage. The result is a system that focuses on the descriptions of the characters and action rather than tactical complexity. It's similar to other rules-lite systems that emphasize character choices rather than the ability to min-max point scores.


The only real downside is that most opponents can be reduced to a few hit points, a stat bump, and an ability that gives them an advantage. It's up to the GM to differentiate elements through description. Other systems focus on a single element and treat them in more detail, like the tactical game in Savage Worlds or the narrative game in Fate. Adventurers! does only what's needed, but it does it very well indeed. The various settings add specific elements of that setting to the basic rules, and really make the game shine.


Even though the ad copy claims the main game and each setting are only two pages, you always get at least four pages of material - sometimes more. Because all of the settings use the same extremely lite set of rules, switching between them for different cmapaigns or pulling character concepts from multiple genres is easy and convenient. My only complaint is that the downloads come in a ZIP file full of multiple PDF files, which means I can't download them directly to my tablet as a single, readable file. I can cope with that.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurers!
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Beasts & Barbarians Golden Edition
by Olivier S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2016 07:37:38

One more review of B&B Golden Edition... Why should you believe me ? Why ???... The fact is : I don't play Savage Worlds. I only bought the book by curiosity !


So what can we say about this universe for SW ? Clearly, it is not original compared to other universes : mere "Sword & Sorcery". Then, what makes B&B so good ?
To sum it up, B&B is not the big "never-seen-before" universe; on the contrary, in a rather classical genre, this is a plenty of excellent small ideas on how to manage this universe as a Game Master, and these rules reflect perfectly the S&S genre. Congratulations to the author, Umberto Pignatelli, who really gives the impression to have actually served as a GM.
In the gaming world, there are some extremely detailed RPG universes like Middle-Earth or Tékumel (by Pr. Barker), but I must say that all rule systems failed to render the mood of these settings (including MERP for Middle-Earth). On the other hand, most of the rules contained in B&B GE are tailored for S&S, and all of this for a cheap price.


After the long presentation of the world (the Dread Sea Dominions) and of the races inhabiting it, the rules for player characters are representative of S&S tropes, let's just quote the "Damsel in Distress" hindrance or the "LOincloth Hero / Bikini Heroine" edge... Likewise, the section on magics contains valuable information, especially about Lotusmastery. Humour is present everywhere, most notably in the downtime random generator about the adventurers' carousing between two adventures. The GM section has an interesting adventure generator, working with a card deck. It is maybe too general for S&S, if we compare it to the ones in "Barbarians of Lemuria" or (this one downloadable for free) on the website of "Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyberborea", but U.Pignatelli gives clues on how to "flavour" it.


The section with the stats for Beasts & Denizens is excellent. There are not a lot of monsters, but Umberto clearly favours quality over quantity, and that's by far the better way : we don't need a menagerie of useless beasts we don't know how to introduce into an adventure but rather a few iconic creatures with all elements to captivate the players. The list of denizens is superb : nearly every kind and every (human) race you can dream of for a S&S setting.


I have only a couple of little criticisms. No scale is given for the map of the Dominions. Umberto gives in the book a clever method of "abstract navigation" and explained elswhere that a scale would break the sense of mystery in the Dominions' geography. OK, but I keep on thinking that a GM needs a scaled map, for a realistic view of the background, even if the players will never use it. Another point (found in other books of the series) is that not all of the "heroic concepts" suggested for player characters is found in the "Denizens" section : in my view, this would provide some guidelines for the creation of such "heroic concepts" for a player.


To conclude, at nearly every page, U.Pignatelli gives advice on how to get a better experience of the game. At this rate, the Pdf book is definitely worth its (cheap) price !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts & Barbarians Golden Edition
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Gothica
by Daniel C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2016 00:54:11

I picked up this setting with the hope of using some of it with the Dark Camelot setting. I hope some of this setting can be used when the players visit the Unseelie Court and it's surounding space as well as the forests around the gate they will have to use to get there. {Evil Grin}.


Once again I have found the simplicity of the offering does not hurt the usefulness of the setting. Clean and useful rules and other items. Well worth the $2 in my opinion.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gothica
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Dark Camelot
by Daniel C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2016 00:49:17

I have to say I love the idea behind this setting as well as the added special rules to bring it to life. The desire to play in this setting and descover what it has to offer is built with a surprisingly small number of rules and space. Two pages printed back to back on a single sheet brings more excitement than many of the 100+ page setting books out there. Well done GRAmel.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Camelot
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Adventurers! The Dungeon
by Daniel C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2016 00:44:36

I picked up this "expansion" for the core Adventurers! RPG with the hope it would be as good as the core game was. It was. In a very simple and clean set of rules they have presented to us enough new material to make the classic dungeon crawl both fun and exciting. I believe this game is on to something important. A game does not need hundreds of pages and thousands of rules to be fun to play and fun to run. The trust of the GM and players to collaberate to bring a great time to the table is refreshing in the face of the mega rule sets.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurers! The Dungeon
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Adventurers!
by Daniel C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2016 01:27:01

I picked this up after seeing a review. I was curious to see how two sheets of rules could be worth playing. To say that I am impressed by this set of rules would be an understatement. I think the author has done a great job of giving us, the players and GMs a clean and simple set of rules that really cover what would be needed to play a game. The mechanics are easy to learn and work well.


I believe many of th ehard core RPG fans would liek this set of rules if they could get past the fact it is a RLRPG and just try it.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurers!
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Adventurers!
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2016 14:12:44

The Adventurers! from GRAmel is pretty exciting concept, an RPG in 2 pages. The layout is pretty neat and you do get a Player's Guide (2 pages) and a GM's Guide (2 pages).


The Introduction to the Player's Guide welcomes you to the game.


Action Resolution presents the rules: Roll 2d6 and add one of the three Stats to equal or exceed a 7 (before modifiers). Opposed rolls are 2d6+Stat vs 2d6+Stat, high roll wins. Double 1's are critical failure. Double 6's are critical successes.


Next we are introduced to the three Stats: Strength, Agility, and Mind. As well as the four derives stats: Attack, Defense, Heroism (let's you add +1 to a roll or reroll the dice), and Endurance (hit points).


The Character Creation section is three sentences! Quick and painless.


There are 10 unique Skills that you can have Basic or Advance training in. Each Skill explains what each level of training does for you.


Combat covers Initiative, Actions, Attacking, how Attacking crits work, how Defending crits work, and what happens when both occur (nothing).


How Recovery occurs is covered in this section.


Character Advancement explains what you can do with 2 to 4 XP.


The Gear section gives you a pretty good list of useful supplies.


Powers is next, they require a Mind roll to use and there ways to modify them. There are 9 to choose from and they cover a great deal of special effects.


The final section is Optional Rules, which cover Point Buy Stats, using points to increase the amount of Coins you have, the major Fantasy races, and critical failures in combat.


The Introduction to the GM's Guide welcomes you to the rules.


Resolving actions covers what Stat to roll, Teamwork, Long Tasks, and Narrative Combat.


Heroism and Experience! explains how to hand out Heroism and how much XP to give out at the end of a game.


Hazards covers spot rules for various dangers and effects an Adventurer will face.


Personalizing the Game! covers examples of Powers, Minons (and how they work), example Relics, specific Items, and Potions.


Next is the Bestiary with plenty of examples of traditional fantasy antagonists, a total of 15..


Special Abilities explain how the creatures powers presented in the Bestiary work.


And it's followed on a section explaining how to Customize antagonists.


And that's not all you get. A character sheet and cover are provided and you can print out cards to write up your antagonists on.


All for $1.36!


Buy this NOW!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tropicana: Researchers of the Lost City
by Dennis B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/03/2016 23:40:28

I was very pleased with this adventure. I have been running a Tropicana campaign for a number of weeks now, mainly taking place in the jungles, inspired by things like Uncharted and Indiana Jones, and so I was curious to see what Gramel had come up with, as the description made it seem like this first, longer, adventure would fit in with my own campaign.
It did indeed, utilizing several of the treasure hunting tropes I use myself, to the point that i believe it will tie in seamlessly. The adventure takes the players all over the different areas of the island, and for the most part uses all of the genres available; action, crime, even the occasional bit of supernatural horror is mentioned, although mainly as a guideline which can easily be ignored if the GM doesn't wish to include it.
There are the occasional sentances that do not track well for me; possibly missed during translation, perhaps, although it is never a glaring issue. It merely required a quick reread to make sure i had not misunderstood.
I would recommend this adventure to anyone, especially those GM's who wish to take their game outside the city.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tropicana:  Researchers of the Lost City
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Tropicana: Hot Wheels
by Dennis B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2016 02:33:08

A fun little adventure, perfect for starting off a campaign or, as I used it, as quick break if your own TROPICANA campaign doesn't focus on the city. It is uncomplicated and simple enough to run, and for newer Savage Worlds DM's, can be a great way to introduce the chase mechanic.


For the fact that it is free, simple but fun, and I feel a great way to start in the game, I think it deserves the 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tropicana: Hot Wheels
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