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Age of Cthulhu 2: Madness in Londontown
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/01/2010 14:03:02
Another excellent effort by Goodman Games. This one, in fact is better than the first one. It takes us into quite an interesting scenario and the choice of antagonist is much better for this setting than it was in the first one. The scenario, again, is designed to accommodate the players instead of forcing them down a particular investigatory path, and in this case succeeds rather well. The opening scene is more or less a set piece, but from that point on, the players are free to go whither they will (and where the clues they discover take them). There are multiple opportunities to discover the clues the players need, and while there is still the possibility of missing a key bit of info due to a bad roll, the Keeper can always overcome this by judicious use of the clue rules from something like GUMSHOE. Anyway, this one has not only the usual areas the players will likely investigate in the course of the mystery, but even a delightful little interlude (not really necessary to the scenario itself, but way cool all the same) in a wax museum!

There are a couple of ties to the preceding scenario book -- Death in Luxor -- as well as the usual handouts and pregenerated characters for use by a group just starting out. The pregenerated characters are even useful for established groups in that the history section of each character provides an excellent example of motivation for a character to become involved in the story. As always, DriveThru's reproduction of the material is excellent with no problems noted in reading the material, viewing the art work, or reproducing the handouts noted. The handouts, by the way, are extremely well done. This one easily earns a "5" in my book. Good job to both Goodman Games and DriveThru!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Cthulhu 2: Madness in Londontown
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Age of Cthulhu 1: Death in Luxor
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/01/2010 13:54:28
I was extremely pleased with this entire series of supplements for CoC. In the case of Death in Luxor, it was clear, well laid out, and flexible enough to permit the Keeper to run it in any order the players care to approach it in. Of all of the ones published to date, this one felt the most like it would "railroad" the players based on the first scene out of the blocks, though a clever Keeper (with a clever play-group) should be able to overcome that issue. The player aids were extremely well done, and easy to access, print and produce. And the pre-generated characters (while not useful in and of themselves to an established player group) provide some excellent examples of how characters may have become involved in the adventure (motivations). Admittedly, if I were picking a servitor race and plot for Egypt, I probably would have picked the Sand Dwellers as my primary group with maybe ties to Yig or someone vice what was chosen here, but overall, it just has a really nice feel and flow to it and despite that particular quibble, I like this scenario very well.

An additional bonus to the AoC series of supplements is that there are ties between the adventures and even the newspaper clippings provide some additional information that could lead to other adventures. All in all, an awesome job.

As always, the quality of the reproduction by DriveThru RPG was simply awesome. No problems reading, viewing the art work, or reproducing the player handouts. Overall, this one earns a "4" mostly because of personal prejudice against the servitor race and Great Old One chosen for this setting, and because it does try to railroad the players to some extent, but if it weren't for those two factors, it would easily make a "5."

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Cthulhu 1: Death in Luxor
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #3: The Mysterious Tower
by Txabier A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2010 11:10:19
Probably my favorite module in the great and prestigious long-running line of supplements, Th Mysterious Tower is a great old school-styled adventure that I have run with many of my groups for greqat effect and hours of enjoyment. While it 's aimed at low-levels, it can be easily scalable for Joseph made a well thought-out series of plans a nd encounters that can be easily adapted to siut your specific player groups.

While it's easy tu run, it's by no means straightforward, and with careful scheming of the DM's part it can easily keep the players on their toes and thinking their way out of increasing trouble.

Finally, I must admist that 3e wasn't my cup of tea, but the best thing with every Goodman Games module is that it can easily be adaptyed to suit your group's playing style or the system you've chose. So, yes, it will work--and marvellously so--with Pathfinder and be very easy to transplant into any of the newer Rune Quest settings... or go real old-school and use your AD&D or AD&D "nd Edition rules with it, with minimal hassle.

All in all, a solid, easy to read and use module from Goodman Games. I heartily recommend it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #3: The Mysterious Tower
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Age of Cthulhu 1: Death in Luxor
by Ethan P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2010 17:11:25
We reviewed this in Gamer's Haven Episode 43 – Miniatures Gaming, which you can listen to here ... http://www.gamershavenpodcast.com/?p=262.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Cthulhu 1: Death in Luxor
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Level Up #1
by Ethan P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2010 17:10:10
We reviewed this in Gamer's Haven Episode 47 – Fantasy Accuracy. Go here ... http://www.gamershavenpodcast.com/?p=273 to listen to our review.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Level Up #1
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Amethyst: Foundations
by Ethan P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2010 17:04:43
We reviewed this on the Gamer's Haven Podcast. You can listen to Gamer’s Haven Episode 67 – Convention Gaming to hear what our first impressions of it! You can go here ... http://www.gamershavenpodcast.com/?p=2233.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Foundations
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Azagar's Book of Rituals
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2010 08:45:28
This is a hefty and cheap addition to the D&D supply of rituals. There's a large array of rituals, some obviously more likely to be useful than others. They seem ideal for a DM to introduce as researchable rituals, perhaps as solutions to a specific problem, or as rare treasures appropriate to the adventure. As well as using the rituals as given, the large array here could be templates for similar rituals created to fit your campaign. Although I haven't yet used any of them in my campaign, I'm already prepared to say it's worth the price.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks to this product, which won't bother everyone.

The first is that the book is presented by hobgoblin general Azagar, which means fairly salty language and anecdotes at the head of each chapter. If you're sensitive about these things, or are running a game for children, you might need to censor it a bit. The rituals themselves are not affected by this, and as businesslike as any other rulebook. I didn't mark the product down for this, as it doesn't bother me and it's a very subjective point.

Secondly, I'm sorry to say there are a significant number of typos, spelling and grammatical errors, and other minor editing slips. I find these jarring, though not everyone will care. In a couple of cases, the exact effects of a ritual are unclear because of ambiguous language, which is a bigger problem. Given the size of the product, it's not too bad, but I still knocked off a point for this because it's affected the quality.

If there's a follow-up product, I would love to see a range of cheap everyday rituals. Rituals that would be useful and affordable for ordinary farmers, artisans, tradespeople etc. would be a very interesting addition from a world-building and roleplaying point of view. However, I've certainly no complaint about not finding them in here.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Azagar's Book of Rituals
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The Adventures of Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer: Shadows of Mirahan
by Brian B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2010 07:44:37
For anyone who is a fan of Frazetta's art, low magic, dark fantasy, or Molly Hatchet, this is a must-buy. Classic sword and sorcery. Goodman Games has done a very good job of translating the six-issue mini-series from Image Comics into a 4th-edition adventure. No, you don't get to play the Death Dealer, but you do play the adventurers who ultimately allow him to enter the world. As I read through the adventure, I wondered if I could tell my group we were playing a one-shot adventure, and not let them find out what we were playing. To have them arrive at the climax and "discover" the horned helmet and axe would be very, very rewarding.
As I said the adventure is very good, but I was also impressed by the six appendices. The first is on character creation - the races of Iparsia. If you're like me, and enjoy human campaigns, this will give you five human race options. As a fan of vikings, I was very glad to see stats for playing Vikavians (from the Dark Kingdom comic series). Also, there are two feats to help balance the rules for a low-magic campaign. Again, this was something else I had been hoping to find for 4th edition.
The second appendix is advanced rules to really flavor your game. Action points, critical hits, and milestones are all tweaked for classic, brutal sword-and-sorcery. This is why I think this is a must-buy if you like low-magic campaigns. I will probably be using the 1st and 2nd appendices from now on.
Appendix 3 is your mini monster manual for the adventure.
Appendix 4 is a handy XP tracker. After reading through the adventure, I can see why this would be very, very helpful.
Appendix 5 are pre-gens.
Appendix 6 is... drumroll... stats for the Death Dealer and his Black Charger. And now you know why you could not play him nor would you want to encounter him. It would be short-lived.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Adventures of Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer: Shadows of Mirahan
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Underdark Adventure Guide
by Richard J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2010 09:40:15
I bought this product primarily for Chapter 3 of the guide, "Creating the Underworld." In this chapter is two parts: part one on the physical and flora/fauna characteristics of a particular region; and part two on the characteristics of civiliations in the underdark. From my Traveller days (1980's) I enjoyed the planet creation rules that allowed for making varied Sci-Fi worlds. The Underdark Adventure Guide provides 9 physical and 10 cultural characteristics that can be applied to the underdark regions. By adjusting these characteristics, one can create a myriad of underdark regions.

On Chapter 3 alone, I would give this product 5 out of 5. However, it also comes with three other chapters:

Chapter 1 - Underdark Characters - details 8 races for player characters: Deep Dwarf, Derro, Drow, Duergar, Gloom Barbarians (humans), Half-Drow, Svirfneblin, and Troglodytes. Prestige classes, feats, and new equipment is also provided.

Chapter 2 - Underdark Creatures - presents multiple new monsters.

Chapter 4 - Locales of Interest - presents 11 locations that can be placed directly into an underdark setting. Also provided is a 100 mile by 150 mile map of the underdark with all 11 locations sprinkled across it for use in an underdark setting.

5 out of 5. Good stuff all around.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Underdark Adventure Guide
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Eldritch Traps
by Dwight F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2010 20:22:11
This document is well worth it regardless of what system you use. Innovative and interesting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eldritch Traps
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The Dungeon Alphabet
by Joe K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/06/2010 11:16:35
The Dungeon Alphabet is a call back to old school methodology in filling a dungeon. Not necessarily with specific monsters, but more importantly with the character of old school. This is literaly, an A to Z reference, with each letter getting its own single entry. The print version clocks in at $9.99 in hardcover, so I'm scratching my head at the $7.99 price for the PDF. It's almost like Goodman is daring you to buy the print version in hardcover.

One of the biggest nods to the old school direction, has to come in the artists picked for this project. I'm no lore taker of the old school, but I've been playing since 85' and recognize the very distinctive cover art of Erol Otus. While I'm not sure of the credentials of many of the interior artists, I instantly recognized Jim Holloway's art work. His many illustrations back in Dragon magazine were an easy catch. Other artists may not fit that old school in terms of their origin point, but most of them do a great job of giving the book a fairly coherent look. For example, Peter Mullen has a two page interor cover shot that mimicks the style of Otus quite well. Other interior illustrations are done in the style of old school art. For example, a group of adventurers opening up a chest is a classic iconic image from the older days. On page 19, we get a solid full page illustration of that very event.

After skipping introductions, cover splash pages and other goods, the book's meat is roughly from page 6 to page 46. The text is relatively light in the book on many entries. For example, under D is for Doors, the table is a roll of a d20 taking up probably less than half the page if adjusted for the large text and the spacing. If the reader is looking for a massive reference work, AEG's Toolbox and Ultiamte Toolbox are far more useful for such projects.

However, if the reader is looking for a light hearted book that has a lot of charm of old school, without relying on any rules, this book is a hit. For example, we get W for Weird and Z for Zowie. In today's modern gaming, those two elements aren't necessarily embraced as they once were. With a quick roll of a d20, you could find a gallery of bear statues that resembles the party. It's touches like these that make the book well worth reading all the way through and finding the bits you'll be most likely to use. With its short tables, it's not likely that the book would see much use before duplicates start cropping up. Using it instead as a guide for your own imagination is the far more suitible use for this book.

The other huge benefit is the art work. While it may not be for everyone, it does scratch that old school itch.

It is my hope that Goodman Games produces other Alphabet books of a similair size and price; Wilderness Alphabet, Urban Alphabet, and others, all done up in this style, could easily be well worth the investment.

If you're looking for a long term utility book that is mostly text and light on the art, this product is not for you. If you're looking for a product where you can roll a d20 on the hallway table and find that it's chocked with dusty webs and obscrues all vision with some old school art sensibilites, this book is for you.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Dungeon Alphabet
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The Dungeon Alphabet
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/29/2010 00:05:12
This is such a clever product: old school in style and sensibility, yet universally applicable; funny and entertaining, yet actually useful; lighthearted, yet richly detailed. Under headings such as "A is for Altars," "D is for Doors," "O is for Oozes," and so on, the Dungeon Alphabet presents 26 random tables from which DMs can get both good laughs and good ideas for dungeon dressing. Take, for example, "N is for No Stone Left Unturned" (pp. 25-26). This particular table offers twenty entries describing places where something might be hidden. "Under a loose flagstone" and "underside of a table/desk" are two of the less imaginative entries; I won't mention the more imaginative entries, for the sake of DMs who might use the tables for their own dungeons. I particularly liked the tables for A (altars), G (gold), M (magic), and S (statues). I found the first of two R (rooms) tables more entertaining than useful, but I can easily see myself consulting the second R table non-randomly for ideas about rooms to put in a dungeon. If you're looking for a product where every single entry is useful and no space is "wasted" on humor, you might grouse about a few entries in this book. If you can approach the book without taking it too seriously, open to everything it has to offer, you'll not be disappointed.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and their Modern Simulacra
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/17/2009 07:41:45
Diving straight in, the Introduction compares 'traditional' and more 'experimental' styles of role-playing, with a strong case for the 'traditional' style being timeless and enjoyable by successive generations of gamers... but that while good plot design, innovative situations and novel traps will keep players on their toes, the classic monsters are so well-known even beyond role-players that reactions to them are predicatable and dull. To regain the sense of wonder - and of danger - that a monster encounter ought to provide, this book is intended to aid the referee in providing new, even unique, monsters without the need for being a professional monster designer!

The method proposed - as indicated by the title - is based on random tables, but from the outset the referee is encouraged to allow his own ideas to take priority, using the tables as stimulus rather than a straitjacket. An interesting note is that creatures need not necessarily be balanced to party strength, provided the monster does not have to be defeated in face-to-face combat for mission objectives to be achieved, it is quite all right for the party to flee in terror from an overwhelming opponent!

Beginning with a run-down of the essential characteristics that will need to be determined, there are then a selection of tables to help decide everything from body shape to method of locomotion, how it fights and even its distinctive features. Strict adherence to die rolls can result in mighty odd creatures - but if the result is not quite right, go ahead and change anything you wish. You can even determine combat strategy randomly, if the creature's design does not make one obvious - even if you choose not to roll on any of the tables, just reading them can start spawning ideas for that next show-stopping monster! The book rounds out with suggestions for drawing all your ideas and rolled results into a coherent whole, and then ways in which it can be presented effectively to your players and their characters.

While presented as 'systemless' the book is actually geared towards the general outlook of Dungeons & Dragons, although it doesn't matter which edition you play. If you use a different fantasy ruleset, you may need to develop different information for monsters but these tables will at least help you to devise the basic concept of your monster even if you then need to build the final design to suit the rule mechanics of your choice. Overall, if you want to go beyond published monsters, this is a good book for ideas if not complete creatures!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and their Modern Simulacra
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Dungeon Crawl Classics: Saga of the Rat King
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/12/2009 10:48:06
Written for Gen Con 2008 and presented in the traditional 'three rounds' format of a competion scenario, this is based on some of the D&D 3e releases in the Dungeon Crawl Classics product line, but sufficiently original that it's just about playable by those who have encountered them. Presentation is very traditional as well, as anyone familiar with AD&D scenarios will agree.

The first part is called Idylls of the Rat King, and is largely based on the D&D 3e adventure of the same name, with details changed to accommodate the AD&D ruleset. The main thrust of the adventure is the exploration of four levels of an abandoned (at least by its original owners) silver mine, and you are given several ways to entice the characters to go there. There's plenty of support for the DM, including detailed background and well-organised encounters; while all those encountered in the mine have reason to be there and lives to lead... if only they weren't being interrupted by pesky adventurers! It's a good solid dungeon crawl in the classic mould.

The second part is an original adventure called The Scourge of Silverton, and draws characters back to the site of the previous events - perhaps quite swiftly, as the first part is designed for 1st to 3rd-level characters (those starting as 1st-level will reach 3rd during it) and this bit is for 3rd to 4th-level ones! The mining town of Silverton has begun to recover quite nicely after that abandoned mine was cleaned out, but news of their growing prosperity has brought more unwelcome attention to the area. There's the added twist that if you are using this as a follow-on to the earlier adventure, this newcomer has a reason to seek revenge on those who cleaned out the first abandoned mine... and he has, of course, taken up residence in a different disused mine! Here he plays a game of cat-and-mouse with the characters, testing their strength and resolve: and they thought they were there just to rescue some hostages. The end of this episode should point the characters to the final part of this scenario.

This final part is Revenge of the Rat King, and takes the characters to Soulgrave and a dungeon that is the culmination of the revenge plot hatched against them and designed to ensure their capture! If you have not run the preceding two parts, consider it a dungeon designed to deal with any good characters that happen along instead. Cunning, creativity and teamwork will be needed to deal with their enemy; this is a dungeon that is no mere crawl but requires thought to succeed.

Taken as a whole, this is almost a mini-campaign which, while aimed at low-level characters, should prove a worthy challenge, combining a strong plot with traditional dungeon crawling, plenty of monsters to fight but a chance to exercise the mind as well as the sword arm!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics: Saga of the Rat King
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Dungeon Crawl Classics Flip Book
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/11/2009 05:47:21
Whether you think the 'flip book' concept is an amusing conceit or a bit fiddly in 'dead tree' product, in PDF it plain doesn't work. What is the point of half a book being upside down on my screen? Especially when the ability to edit has been disabled so it cannot be split into the 2 components and the pages resequenced to be viewed normally.... Grrr.

Rant over, let's have a look at the adventures. First up is The Tower of the Black Pearl a first-level adventure involving the exploration of a tower only revealed at extremely low tide - something that happens once a decade, so grab your chance while you may. Good background material is provided for the DM along with several hooks to get the characters involved. Once in, it's a neat adventure, challenging without being overwhelming, and nicely time-limited... after all, you go there at extreme low tide!

And now to t'other adventure (once the entire PDF is rotated and you start paging backwards!). The Golden Auroch is again a 1st-level adventure concerning the exploration of a tomb in a lost city in a desert. There's a relic to be retrieved... but a neat and compact underground complex to be negotiated if you want it. Another good low-level adventure with some interesting opposition to challenge the characters.

Overall, two excellent 1st-level adventures, either suitable as a campaign-starter, marred only by the construction of the PDF, you'd have to print it to render it usable.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics Flip Book
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