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Pirate Places: Warlock's Journal Contest #12
by Hubert W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2014 06:10:22
Born of inspiration.
Direkt to play locations for most piate, smuggler or mystery settings. A little work has to be done to match with german, dutch or scandinavian adventures. Realy close to a must have!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pirate Places: Warlock's Journal Contest #12
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Pirate Places: Warlock's Journal Contest #12
by John T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2014 12:16:30
Most of these were very interesting. Some were a bit too short, others overly long, but all-in-all, enjoyable to read and consider using in a campaign...if only my players liked swashbuckling.
I found some of the simple ideas just as good as the complex ones, which is wonderful. Can't wait to see more of these, or things like this in the future.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pirate Places: Warlock's Journal Contest #12
by William R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2014 12:23:09
This product has a number of useful descriptions of places a pirate may end up, visit or just hear about. If you are running a pirate campaign, with or without fantasy elements, this free product is well worth your time to peruse. It is system friendly as everything is in narrative form without statistics but the descriptions are useful and quite colorful.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bits of the Wilderness: Into the Wildwood
by Dave H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2014 09:45:45
The Good: Lots of content, Excellent descriptions, Quality and Quantity are both very good, nice detailed new creatures, info on different sorts of forests. Good value.

The Bad: Illustrations are just OK, It's just the descriptions.

This is a really nice product that adds little details for the type of terrain. It's hard to imagine the amount of detail contained. You could run an entire campaign in the woodlands just dropping a few details here and there with this product. The monsters are well described and interesting. The language journalistic rather than evocative in most cases. The illustrations are average.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bits of the Wilderness: Into the Wildwood
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The One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, Deluxe
by Lagr D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2013 13:38:38
As a GM, this collection of ready made encounters is just the ticket to save from having a dungeon crawl solo adventure, just preparing the adventure. With the "right" players this would easily fill a weekend of good solid grid crawling, and a few pints to flavor the darkness ahaead

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, Deluxe
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Against the Darkness: Into the Fire
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/04/2013 13:53:13
Although I’m very glad to see a new release for “Against the Darkness” (albeit six years after the core rulebook), I cannot rate the product as high as I’d like to. “Into the Fire” is pretty straightforward and showcases the tone of “Against the Darkness” well. On the other hand, the adventure is a little too straightforward at critical junctures, and the production values are noticeably below those of the AtD core rulebook.

Let’s start with the adventure’s strengths, though. The plot is straightforward and very easy for a beginning GM to run. Author Vicki Potter has very helpfully provided guidance for running two versions (shorter and longer) of the scenario, a feature worthy of emulation. Various scenes in the adventure invite the Justiciars to make both mundane and miraculous contributions to resolving the scenario’s major problem, a forest fire. Overall, the adventure is a pretty good way for both GMs and players to become acquainted with “Against the Darkness.”

However, there are some noticeable downsides as well—but I cannot explain them without giving away some plot elements, so consider this sentence your spoiler alert! The product description begins with the setup: “An unnatural forest fire threatens a Catholic center for contemplation and prayer.” Based on this description, I expected some kind of connection between the fire and the retreat center. There really isn’t one; the center functions a lot like the village inn in a stereotypical fantasy RPG, a mechanism for having all the PCs together in one place at the beginning of the adventure. At crucial points in the story, vital clues just run straight into the Justiciar’s open arms (and that is close to a literal description of what happens). Again, I expected more investigation going in, but there’s not really much of that. The whole thing really is kind of predictable: unusual occurrences turn out to have a supernatural cause. I can see a real danger of an AtD campaign turning into a “demon of the week” kind of thing, and unfortunately this adventure falls into that pattern.

Finally, I have to note that the production values are well below those of the AtD rulebook. The use of clip art and stock photos from a variety of sources and in a variety of styles is fairly jarring and somewhat off-putting. The very first page features no fewer than five different typefaces, another aesthetic misstep. Even the Table of Contents wavers inexplicably between Times New Roman and Palatino (or the Windows clone thereof), uses colons inconsistently at the end of headings, and switches between colons and dashes about 2/3 of the way through. The inconsistencies and poor aesthetic choices don’t interfere with the adventure as such, but they do hamper my enjoyment of the product.

Now despite the last two paragraphs, I repeat that I’m very glad to see a published adventure for “Against the Darkness,” and I hope we’ll see more of them—with varied plotlines and threats, and with higher production values. I wish I could justify giving the product more stars, because I want to support and promote this product line. However, I have to be honest with myself and with review readers, and this adventure just isn’t as good as I wanted it to be, or as I normally expect Tabletop Adventures products to be.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I have contributed material to other Tabletop Adventures products [in the “Bits of” line], but I did not have anything to do with the production of “Into the Fire.”)

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Darkness: Into the Fire
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Against the Darkness
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/04/2013 03:09:31
Try to picture Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as Catholic priests instead of FBI agents, or Buffy Summers and her friends as seminary students instead of high school students, and you’re well on your way to getting into the spirit of “Against the Darkness.” The straightforward and effective rules set does a good job of covering many possibilities while remaining light on details. The task resolution system is used across the board for all situations, combat and non-combat. Die-hard “simulationist” gamers won’t be satisfied with the level of specificity; for example, a single “Combat” skill covers all forms of armed and unarmed combat, and almost all combat attacks deal the same amount of damage (which doesn’t require a die roll). However, if you can accept the system’s “coarseness,” you’ll find that the “rules light” approach allows you to keep the action moving along with minimal interruptions.

The rulebook bills the game’s genre as “Vatican horror,” and the PCs are assumed to work for or with a secretive order within a fictionalized version of the Roman Catholic Church. The treatment of religion (both institutional and otherwise) is fictionalized but respectful. Christian GMs and players might agree with the game’s implicit theology in the real world, but should not find it offensive in the fictional world. The game is flexible enough to accommodate anything from orthodox (if old-fashioned) Catholicism to a more Pentacostal flavor to something out of “The Exorcist” or “The Da Vinci Code.” (It might be relevant to mention here that I am personally a committed Protestant whose day job is teaching biblical studies at the undergraduate and master’s degree levels.)

I like the overall tone and mechanics of the game very much, but I do find the product lacking in a couple of respects. As a matter of production quality, the typeface choices are inconsistent and sometimes unattractive; for example, one body paragraph might be set in Garamond, the next in Times New Roman. However, with only a few exceptions, the book seems to have been well-edited; readers won’t be tripping over grammatical errors every paragraph or so, as is often the case with small-press publications. As a matter of content, I felt that Specializations could have been explained a bit more clearly, and the rulebook occasionally features some repetitions that could perhaps have been avoided. But the main thing that hampers the rulebook—and the primary reason for my 4-star rating instead of a 5-star rating—is the lack of a sample adventure with mechanics. Interludes of short fiction illustrate the kinds of stories one might tell with “Against the Darkness,” but these are not illustrated with game mechanics. The introduction claims that “[i]n this rulebook … you will find everything you need to understand the rules, create characters, and begin playing,” but that’s not quite true; the GM still needs to come up with an adventure for the PCs to experience. The rulebook does contain several intriguing campaign ideas, but the lack of an included mini-adventure or sample scenario is a significant omission. (Tabletop Adventures did later release an introductory adventure, but that was six years after the publication of the rulebook.)

All in all, “Against the Darkness” fills an interesting niche in the RPG market, and it does so rather well.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I have contributed material to other Tabletop Adventures products [in the “Bits of” line], but I did not have anything to do with the production of “Against the Darkness.”)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Darkness
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Into the Future: Derelict Starships
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/18/2012 12:35:58
Since Halloween's come around again and this product went on sale, it's the perfect time for me to write a long-overdue review of this interesting product.

Systemless products have had a checkered history in the hobby. Most people want some way to mechanically represent the material they have paid for. Yet the fictional content of a world need not be connected to a mechanic to be compelling. Nowhere is that more true than in horror. Creepy situations are creepy not necessarily because of the tension of a die roll or card turn or Jenga pull, but because a vivid description can excite the imagination. Derelict Starships provides 100 of these descriptions, some outlining a full situation (a section of the ship appears to be intentionally voided of air), other times a mere implication in a simple object (a laser rifle is smashed by some unknown powerful force.) Each description is a full paragraph, with some commentary on how the GM might incorporate them into a situation.

Normally I would not rate a "list of 100 things" this highly even if they were fleshed out and well written. Horror requires that there be rules - if anything can happen at any time, there's no suspense, no feeling that you know what's coming. So a random collection of 100 scary paragraphs is not in and of itself that useful. Where this product shines is in the organization and additional material.

I have to say I NEVER expected to see a solid three-page description of corpse decomposition and how it might be changed in a spaceship environment, but this is exactly what's in the supplement and exactly what's needed to provide the structure onto which you can create a horror situation. And the index, in which the 100 scary situations/paragaphs are arranged by what kinds of things they contain (debris, bodies, dangerous environments, etc.) is an amazing innovation for this type of product. It should be in absolutely every single one of the "list of things" products out there.

Finally, there's a .rtf version in the zip file in case you want to copy/paste the description into your notes. AND there are card versions of the scary text that you can print and use for your own purposes So basically every possible thing that can be done with this product (other than internal hyperlinks) has been done.

This product presses every single one of my reviewer tilt buttons. The list alone might have only been three stars. Yay, some scary stuff, but so what? So what is: extensive structure on which a horror GM can build tension, exceptional organizational tools, and a .rtf version to help with customizing electronic play aids. And thus, having had all my hobby horses petted, spoiled and groomed like Rafalca, I have no choice but to give this one my highest marks.

Happy Halloween 2012, everyone!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Future: Derelict Starships
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Halls of Horror
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2012 11:38:11
This is a nicely illustrated (and fully furnished) little supplement of a haunted mansion (or evil cult headquarters, or what have you) based on the old House of Hell supplement from Games Workshop. Basically they deleted the original plot line (developed by Steve Jackson, of all people -- one of my favorite game designers) and "repurposed" the house to serve as a backdrop for anything you want to use it for. It is primarily useful for GM's who don't have a lot of time to draft something up for themselves, but still need a large mansion for their players to work through. This one is better illustrated than many (though I have seen better). There are additional items of furniture and scenery that can be photocopied and cut apart to create new areas and obstacles for your players, including underground elements such as a minecar railway (for those Indiana Jones moments) and tunnels. There's also a section suitable for creting lawns and gardens. Overall I give this one a "four" simply because of the artwork, which is quite evocative. Keep in mind though, you aren't getting any kind of plot line, just a background against which you can adventure. In addition to this as a source of ideas, you may also want to look at "This Old Haunted House," and "This Old Haunted House, Too," both by Chaosium for Call of Cthulhu.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Halls of Horror
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Publisher Reply:
Jeffrey seems to have misplaced this review, which was apparently written for some type of map or scenery product. While "Halls of Horror" is a supplement of a haunted mansion (or what have you), and is intended to be useful for GMs who don't have a lot of time, it does not have furnishings or scenery to photocopy, or (sadly) a minecar railway. It does have read-aloud descriptions of spooky houses to share with players, to help them envision the setting in which their characters may find themselves. "Halls of Horror" does not have any type of plot line either, but it adds to adventures and is a source of ideas for GMs.
Destinations: Spaceport Trident Vespa
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/15/2011 09:01:50
9 Pages full of useful information. What one gets for a few dollar is of great use in any SciFi RPG. I'm using it in Trinity for a small base on mars.

The texts give us a colourful and vibrant description of how the space port works, what the people there think and do. Some plothooks are also given and those are quite handy. The reader also finds some (space) sailor's yarn. Every part of the space port is described very good and a drawing can be found on the last page. No NSC is deeply depicted, but this is no problem to me.

I like this piece of writing and would recommend it to every gamemaster!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Destinations: Spaceport Trident Vespa
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Shards of the Heart (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2011 04:25:54
This pdf is 93 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page art credits, leaving a whopping 88 pages of content, so let's check out Tabletop Adventures first offering for PFRPG, Shards of the Heart.

The pdf begins with an introduction of what to expect from this product - namely, help for the beleaguered DM should he wish to introduce an element of romance to the game. Instead of providing shoehorning rules that reduce romance to a series of die-throws, we are thankfully introduced to what makes romance possible in the context of the game - characters. Plenty of them. And the emphasis lies on "characters" - the individuals presented feel different from each other and come with sample quotes, extensive flavor-text descriptions to read aloud as well as background stories, advice on how to run them etc. Surprisingly, we don't get a bland array of high-Cha characters, but a neat variety of people, who, in spite of e.g. a low-to-average Cha-score, might have something interesting about them that makes them valid targets for flirtatious or serious advances.

Both female and male characters are covered in quite some depth, though perhaps not in the depth I'd have liked, but let me elaborate: While the range of interest is from long-term commitment to a short fling and past traumas are addressed, the latter only amount to "once burned, twice shy". While this may reflect a common experience, I would have loved for some more traumatic/tragic background-stories. Also, there's unfortunately a distinct lack of some styles of relationship offered by these NPCs: There are 3 entries that fall out of the roster, one being a stallion that takes a liking to one of the PC's horses (great idea!), one a were-tiger and the final one is a character featured in the 14-page short story "The Wolf of the Woods".
The story, as it takes up about one fifth of the space, should be commented on - essentially, it is the romance of a party's elven maid and a wolf who turns into a man on full moons, essentially making for an interesting take on the jinxed-lover trope. While this romantic set-up per se is interesting, the story is unfortunately not. The necromancer that is the villain of the story seems to have made a strange choice of minion with the involuntarily human-made wolf and quite frankly, I don't see how he could have let his treasured minion (if we accept that he wouldn't take an undead minion) escape. The romance between the elf and the wolf does not have much room to develop and e.g. the party's mage (who is pivotal in the conclusion of the story) almost escaped my attentions until the end. The fact that the elven maid lies with the wolf (though nothing explicit is stated) even when he is in wolf form might creep out some people, but although I admit it does not float my boat, I applaud the fact that it's a non-standard romance.

Most characters come with more than one set of stats and, where applicable, they contain animal companions etc. The classes used range from NPC-classes to base-classes, but expect nothing out of the ordinary.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good on the overall, but the fact that several different authors contributed to the pdf shows, as some entries are a bit bumpier reads than others and there are some glitches, including CRs that are off (like in aforementioned wolf's CR - a 6HD wolf with Str 25 and CR 1?). Layout is clear and printer-friendly b/w and the pdf is extensively bookmarked. The b/w-character portrays are mostly ok, with some nice ones sprinkled in between, all other artwork is stock. It should be noted that most entries also include a poem or similar quote from real-world literature, which I do consider nice.

I really love the concept of this pdf. Romantic interests are underrepresented in roleplaying games and having a compilation ready is actually very helpful and most PCs will find a fit within these pages. Or will they? I already mentioned the shorts story (which amounts to a waste of space for me), but the real bummer for me was that most relationships are simply vanilla. While some of the men (and women) are only out for a fling, there is no NPC that could be considered kinky in any way - neither dominance, nor some other non-standardized concepts of love (like a couple looking for another person for a love-triangle) are covered. While I accept the lack of explicit material due to the PFRPG license, this pdf had the chance of addressing such topics in a mature manner, which judging by the quality of the individual write-ups, would have been possible for the authors. Furthermore, there is a more significant drawback in this file: Only the "sexy" races are covered.

That's right. No halflings, gnomes, dwarves or half-orcs herein. It seems like they simply don't qualify for romance. The same goes for sorcerors and paladins. While there is one multi-class sorceror herein, she fits more the druid-type. Paladins are completely absent from the files, as are any good characters who are torn between love and celibacy. There also are no evil love interests - which is a pity, as it would make for great redemption/temptation plots and furthers the stereotype of evil characters being there to be killed off instead of trying to redeem them.

Essentially, that leaves "safe" romances offered by the characters in this pdf - while the NPCs do have their own agendas, the lack of moral dilemmas serves detrimental to the overall appeal of the book or at least it did so for me. The fact that only the "sexy" races elf, human and half-elf are covered with aforementioned 3 exceptions feels weird and unjust for me, especially due to the fact that writing a romance for a halfling/dwarf etc. would have provided for a challenge - after all, they are not as dreamy as elves. The lack of evil romances further underlines this playing-it-safe-approach and further limited the appeal of the book, at least for me.

Finally, there's the issue of the price. While the amount of content presented is fine for the price, I expect to see more (or higher quality) original art for the price, especially when the topic of love is concerned, good portrays to show off to your players go a long way to endear a character and not all of the artworks qualify as such. If the pdf was cheaper, I would have gladly given this book a higher rating, but the problems doe add up - seeing that for only 5 bucks more, we can get a wholly professional 290+ pages campaign setting, the pricing seems to be a bit off. While I did get this pdf for free, I have to take into account that you will have to pay the full price for this. Add to this the amount of squandered potential with regards to races, alignments and stories and I'm hard-pressed to think about my rating. I do love the basic premise of the book and I enjoyed the presentation of the NPCs, the way in which their advances are written etc. With regards to these aspects, the pdf is top-notch. However, as you can glean from my observations, I also have a multitude of gripes with this pdf. I was thinking long and hard about my final verdict and will settle for two - if you're looking for a pdf containing romances for the elf/half-elf/human races, you might come to enjoy this pdf and even consider it a 3.5 stars-file, even at this price point. If, however, you look for the other races, more non-standard flings/romances, evil love interests, moral dilemmas etc., this pdf will disappoint you as it did me and is not for you. My final verdict will be somewhere between aforementioned audience's usability and my own dissatisfaction with the pdf, scoring a final rating of 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2. Please take note that if you look for e.g. a collection of none-too-complex statblocks or rather regular romances, this book still is worth a closer scrutiny.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shards of the Heart (PFRPG)
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Deck O' Names - Japanese
by Lyle H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2011 17:15:35
This is a comparatively simple product that can be used to quickly generate Japanese names (or at least close approximations - not being a speaker of Japanese, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of information, but it is certainly much better than anything I could achieve on my own).
Besides the name generation, the cards also include the Japanese characters and translations (again, I make no statement as to the accuracy), and the product includes some detailed discussion into Japanese dating and numbering, as well as numerology and divination using names.
It is a very good product that achieves its stated goal and can be used quickly and easily, and is certainly of great use to anyone who needs to produce a number of believable Japanese-sounding names and does not speak Japanese.
It is also a nice touch that the cards are designed with different borders (to distinguish male, female, and etc.) so that they can be printed out in black & white and still be used (although I suspect that they are much easier to confuse when the color-coding is not evident)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deck O' Names - Japanese
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Against the Darkness
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2011 14:55:50
This looks to be a really fun game with a simple mechanic that handles every situation. You don't have to consult a dozen tables and memorize different die calculations depending on whether your picking a pocket, wrestling or casting out a demon. One easy formula and you can concentrate on the story and running your character.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Darkness
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Bits of Darkness: Dungeons
by Ray D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/06/2011 09:05:46
This download was a welcome addition to my collection. Even after thirty years of collecting and DMing, it helps to get some new ideas injected into the game, and Bits of Darkness: Dungeons does exactly that. This book contains six Dungeon Shards (encounters with a fair amount of detail and explanation), 100 Dungeon Bits (snippets of description or leading text), and also eight Catacombs encounters that are more detailed than Dungeon Bits but slightly less involved than the Dungeon Shards.

The pdf is cleanly organized to bring the best impact to your game session, fully bookmarked and easy to read. The fonts and and artwork do a nice job creating atmosphere without distracting from the content. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book has not only a table of contents but also an index.

While the Dungeon Shards and Catacombs encounters are thoughtful and appropriate for nearly any dungeon scenario, the real gem of Bits of Darkness: Dungeons is also the longest section of the book: Dungeon Bits. These short pieces of atmosphere and description provide sensory-based clues and red herrings to be used by the DungeonMaster. While working with all five senses is a hallmark of good writing and good DMing, it can sometimes be difficult to recall in the heat of the game session to relate more than what the PCs can see. These premade bits are divided into categories for "Sights," "Sounds," "Scents," and "Stuff" to make sure you always have something on hand to keep the game fresh.

Bits of Darkness: Dungeons could be used on the fly to get a dungeon going, but it really shines when used as additional prep material for a polished, flesh-out adventure. Sometimes you're just not sure what to put down that other corridor, but you know that you want an alternate branch for heroes to explore. They can't just walk down a straight tunnel to the villain of the session, after all. Bits of Darkness: Dungeons gives the DM some clever ways to guide the party along, but it also leaves enough latitude to tailor an encounter to whatever scenario is appropriate.

The price of this supplement (currently $5.25) hearkens to the era of the mid-80s, when these sorts of books were being produced officially by TSR. It is of roughly the same length as those classic supplements, as well, and provides the same sort of punch when you really need it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bits of Darkness: Dungeons
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Into the Future: Derelict Starships
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2011 13:19:45
The product is good for it's descriptions: (210 approx).
Artwork is fairly good (not great, but OK).

Although it is a bit pricey for 66 pages (£7.24 over here in the UK).

It appears to be the only one of it's kind (exploring derelict starships).
Could also be used for space stations, colonies, etc (with a little work).

I'm not saying it's bad; it is good, but it could have been cheaper for its 66 pages.

I would have given it 5/5 if it were cheaper, or had more content.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Future: Derelict Starships
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