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Folkloric - The Underhill Court
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2012 13:15:34
Not a bad product really. Great in fact if you need ideas for a Seelie/Unseelie court or want to play up the "faerie lands" more.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Folkloric - The Underhill Court
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Treasures of the Sidhe
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2012 13:14:07
Not a bad product. 45 new magic items of various degrees; most I thought were fine. It lacks art a lot of art, but for under 3.00 you are getting a lot of magic items and 1 new monster. Great if you are running a 3.x game bases around the Sidhe or the Seelie/Unseelie courts.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of the Sidhe
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Strange Places: The Hive of the Sleeping Queen
by J. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2012 22:47:28
Nice product, unique idea, nicely done maps - will require only a little tweaking to fit it into my game. BUT. Page 11 is missing. The document just repeats pg 12 twice instead. Any ideas where I might get the missing page?

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Places: The Hive of the Sleeping Queen
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The Fishers of the Dead
by Richard G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2010 07:15:26
I actually find this series very useful. I spent four years creating a low-magic "Germanic" world, before I even started to play it, where the different tribes speak Anglo-saxon, Old High German, Old Norse, and some Middle High German, and are a series of large, northern islands as well. Unfortunately, due to my own GM mistake, my players are about to make a plane jump but are too low level at just reaching 3rd. I was trying to figure out how to creatively get out of my mistake and then I came across this campaign system this weekend.

I just bought it as it solves my problem of a "different" place where my players can go and not die as soon as they get there, a world such as mine where there is no better armor than a master-worked chain shirt. It is also full of the flavor of my home-brewed campaign and it actually makes my netherworld a lot easier to manage now.

As I am in the middle of my dissertation dealing with Icelandic, Old English and German Heroic Epics, I've already quite a few of the monsters taken from my research sources and transplanted into my home-brew campaign. I'll end up tweaking this campaign and my own as well. I've not gotten all the way through this purchase yet, but there are already a few things that I interpret a little differently than the authors as the reviewer above noted. But that is pedantic, academic stuff (and is why I gave four out of five stars).

One thing I've found missing that I would recommend to the author to look at for further expansions and something I use heavily in my own world, that is the Icelandic (and overall Germanic), habit of Kin-slaying, commitatus and Blood-feud that was so prevalent in those countries that the culture practically revolved around it as a lot of the Sagas show. Njals Saga is a great place for inspiration as is the Old High German fragment The Lay of Hildebrand.

However, for d20 gaming purposes and the non-expert, I find this product personally very useful and would recommend it for anyone wishing to explore a Germanic and heroic feel in their game.

I'm looking forward for the final installment with the Return of Baldr (is it out yet? can't find it here on RPG Drive-thru)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Fishers of the Dead
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Betmal - The Gate of Trishula
by RAISTLIN W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2010 12:25:19
This is a hard one to wrap my mind around; it has the surreal elements of games like Nobilis and Polaris, with occasional tiny touches reminiscent of the more redeemable parts of Wraith: the Oblivion.

For your 25 cents you get a lavishly illustrated booklet with the Betmal basic rules and orientation, a detailed city description, and the same basic rules and orientation in plain text for printing.

The 4 Points system seems more oriented towards hardcore or at least very experienced players; the system isn't "crunchy" but it has enough numbers with nebulous enough definitions that novice players may be scared away.

I am not crazy about the style of most of the art, but the layout is gorgeous.

Ultimately I find myself interested in the game but not sure I'll ever play it. That doesn't change the fact that this is a slickly produced, irresistibly priced teaser for a deep, complicated system with a lot of power to it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Betmal - The Gate of Trishula
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Class Construction Kit
by Ravi R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2010 13:46:42
I was disappointed with this.

While many class abilities are listed, only minimal detail is provided as to what level they are expected to apply - low, mid, high, very high are the only guidelines, and they are never defined. Also, there is absolutely no guideline given as to how to change the cost if they abilities come into play earlier or later than the above nebulous categories.

Worse is the utter lack of detail re spell-casting ability. There is no specification as to number of spell slots nor spells known. There is no real customization possible here. The ONLY option given is choosing either the fixed wizard spell-casting, or cleric spell-casting or sorcerer spell-casting. Oh, and what level spell-casting progression begins.

Anyone considering buying this should know there are free items available that are much better than this. Look for Class Construction System (3.5) or Class Construction Engine (3.0 I believe).

Really, I feel cheated out of the time I spent ordering and reading this document. I hope this review serves as warning to anyone considering this 'product'.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Class Construction Kit
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Folkloric - Baba Yaga, the First Setting in Rassiya
by Ron M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2009 11:52:06
Folkloric: Baba Yaga
From: Dog Soul Publishing
Reviewed by:  Ron McClung

Folkloric: Baba Yaga is a new d20 Fantasy Setting Sourcebook from Dog Soul Publishing.

This Ennie Award nominated sourcebook is one of many in a series of folklore-based settings and source material by Dog Soul Publishing. I have been really impressed with the other items in this series, so this one looked no different on the outset.  

From page 1:
“In a certain kingdom, in a certain land, there lived an uncertain youth - uncertain of his place in the world, of his purpose in his village, indeed, uncertain of the meaning of life itself.”

Folkloric: Baba Yaga is a sourcebook focusing on a fantasy setting of Rassiyan, which is loosely based on Russian folklore. The Baba Yaga is a prominent figure in Russian folklore and the inspiration for this PDF source book. She appears as a witch-like being and has some strong ties to nature. Her tales are usually about the balance of nature and world of man. In the short story provided, she appears in a chicken-legged house to a boy who is lost. The Baba Yaga is many things to many Eastern European cultures, and this PDF attempts to use them all as a source book to mold a fantasy world.

Content: The short story gives you an illustration of just one interpretation of the Baba Yaga. Following that, the author supplies certain axioms of Russian Folklore and the Baba Yaga. The Overview of the setting gives you the collective interpretation of the Baba Yaga, according the the author. Centrally to the Baba Yaga is the balance of nature and man's technology and her mysterious agenda.  
Beyond the Baba Yaga, the Overview also gets into Russian Folklore in general, merging it into a new fantasy setting called Rassiyan. This is a refreshing break from the Western European-centered fantasy settings, and if a GM wants to dive into the mostly cold and wet world of a Russian-like culture, this section gets you started on that path. Focusing on a village called Derevnya, it begins to describe the culture and people of Rassiyan. Along with the Baba Yaga, there are two other immortal forces at work within Rassiyan: Prince Ivan Tsarevitch and Koschei the Deathless. They are further explained in the Overview.

The sections Inhabitants of Rassiya, Monsters and Animals contain all that one would expect. There are two special sections under the Inhabitants called The Three Maids and The Three Legends containing very special inhabitants of Rassiyan. No stats are given here, just story and background. This shows that the author appreciates good story and understands the focus of a good RPG.  

Monsters include the Three Horseman (if you had not noticed, many things come in threes), Lebedinoe ("swan-folks", relatives to Elves), and the Rusalka (a type of tormented soul like spectres or banshees). The animals include Baba Yaga's Oxen (the witch's special oxen), Catkin (an intelligent cat creature and pet to Baba Yaga ), Rip and Torn (Baba Yaga's guard dogs), and Grey (a gaunt, sleek, oversized wolf who roams alone). Again, no stats supplied immediately, just story. 

All stats are actually found in the NPC, Monster, and Animal stats section later in the PDF. There are a good range of Challenge Ratings for the GM to choose from.

From page #1 :
“Be wary of wolves whilst you sleep, be wary of bandits whilst you walk, and at all times be wary of the forest’s dark heart, for all that lives there is death.”

Places in Rassiya cover in considerable detail many areas within Rassiyan including the the Village of Derevna, the Tyomniy Forest (an area that Baba Yaga has known to have been spotted), Mokriy Vale (another forest of lesser note), Berioza Grove (a mysterious forest where the Baba Yaga has also been spotted), Ivansgrove (the private hunting ground of Prince Ivan), Kholadna Swamp, and of course, the Baba Yaga’s Yard. Supplied in each major area is a random encounter table, which is very handy, of course.  Baba Yaga's yard and house are also detailed area by area, room by room, as well as trap by trap. There are several traps that the characters could possibly encounter and a random table is supplied for those. Also a possibility is the random encounter with a magic item or two. Both of these tables are an interesting approach to providing variety and wide range of possibilities. Roughly 15 or more magic items are detailed after. Also detailed as well as accompanied with a table is Treasure.

Sample Expressions of Major Characters is an interesting section that supplies some dialogue or typical expressions from the major NPCs like Baba Yaga, Vasilisa (one of the Three Maids), Kookla (Vasilisa's mysterious doll who will come to life at times), Melinika (one of the Three Maids), and Natalya (the third Maid). This adds further richness to the setting, giving you an idea of the context for each of the major NPCs.

Probably the most important section to the GM is the Plot Hooks section. The text says it well when it states "the land of Rassiya is packed full of intrigue and adventure." There are seven short plot hooks supplied here that are imaginative and inspiring. Closing out the PDF are three Appendices - Lebedinoe Racial Description, Glossary and Pronunciation Guide, and Rassiyan Naming Conventions. The Lebedinoe, as mentioned above, are elf-like folks of Rassiyan and this section supplies the character stats. Their key characteristic is their connection to the cold nature of Rassiyan and their ability to change to a swan.  

What I like the most is the Pronunciation Guide. Some of these words are hard to wrap my tongue around and this helps with that as well as helps the GM add some legitimacy to his running of this universe. 

Layout: The art is very well done. It brings out the feel of Russian-folklore based fantasy. I cannot say enough about the art. It is fantastic. The PDF layout is well done, although a little more than my work printer could handle. I assume that if bought, there would be a printer friendly version, but I did not get one. The Cartography for the Map of Rassiya, Map of The Village of Derevna, and the Map of Baba Yaga’s Hut and Yard are also done well, very colorful and clear.

In conclusion, this PDF is without a doubt a brilliant piece of research and writing for all to enjoy. It supplies a fresh new world for fantasy gamers to explore. It is rich with imaginative merging of folklore and fantasy. This is well deserving of the nominations it received and dare say that it is deserving of more than just nominations. It leaves nothing out. It is complete and well done. It is inspired and well written. The author should be proud.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Folkloric - Baba Yaga, the First Setting in Rassiya
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The Fishers of the Dead
by Daniel B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/16/2009 11:31:09
Fishers of the Dead is both interesting and dissapointing. It comes as a necessary followup to Nflheim, which was really just a sketch of a mythic Iceland and so the two really must be considered together. There are a few really interesting ideas here - the fishers being one of them. Iceland is presented as a netherworld, a realm ruled by Hel, the norse Goddess of the dead. Although there are plenty of dead around there are also lots of the living - villagers and various creatures. The trouble is that aside from some occaisional geographic similarities, these game supplements have virtually no resemblance to medieval Iceland. Really. The flavor is more remiscent of Transylvania or perhaps Ireland than Iceland. The few indigenous monsters - such as huge mountain trolls and wandering fairies - are bland and have little to do with Icelandic folklore. Things are so un Icelandic at times that there is even a group of half orc gypsy vampire children, presented as a main plotline. The villagers are also quite generic and anyway, there were no villages in Iceland before the 1800's. In short I do not recommed these products unless you really really are interested in Iceland and just want to see what they did to it with the possibility of reworking some material, or you intend to use the setting as a kind of generic netherworld and skip the unique flavor Iceland has to offer altogether - which is pretty much what the authors did.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Fishers of the Dead
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Publisher Reply:
I appreciate your input, Daniel, and wanted to clarify a few things for any customers thinking about purchasing Fishers. The goal of our Folkloric series is to take inspiration and elements from Earthly myth and folklore, and populate a new fantastic realm with them. We do not create historical fiction. The fact that there were no villages in the 1800's in Iceland has me believe that perhaps you thought Fishers of the Dead was going to be a d20 recreation of Iceland during that time. And if that's the case, than I apologize. It does say in the product's description that Fishers "continues the exploration of Niflheim, the d20 fantasy setting based on the legends and folklore of Iceland." As for skipping the unique flavor of Iceland, I'm a little confused about that. I created Fishers to showcase several of the interesting aspects of Icelandic culture and folklore. For instance, the class variant "Stave" in the book is based on an actual Icelandic martial art, Stav, which flourishes to this day both in Iceland and throughout Europe thanks to historical societies and martial arts enthusiasts. The main focus of Fishers was to bring its population to life, so that GMs and players wishing to play in our demiplane of Niflheim would have an idea of the day-to-day living that goes on there. Hence the introduction of the Villages, and the various plots and entwined storylines involved with the npc's there. I'm sorry you did not find this book useful. It has, however, been one of our best-sellers since I released it almost two years ago. And I might add, it was one of the most enjoyable books I've ever written. - Deborah Balsam
Class Construction Kit
by Wayne G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/28/2008 18:07:12
I have never bothered to review any of my pdf purchases before now. However, I LOVE this book! If you like to tinker with classes this book provides a simple method to balance the abilities of the core classes. As a test of accuracy, I have rebuilt the PHB core classes to within a few points of the allowed budget. Even better, this system accomplishes the goal without the cumbersome xp expenditure method used by at least two of my other class built purchases. An unbelievable value for the money.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Construction Kit
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Class Construction Kit
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/17/2008 02:02:09
A good product which may have arrived a tad too late.

There's only been one other major 3.5/OGL class construction kit up until now, that being S.T. Cooley's Buy The Numbers, also available here on RPGNow. Cooley's work was impressive, but it was (by his own admission) fairly math-intensive for a gaming product. Perhaps more significantly, Buy The Numbers required adopting an experience-point-buy system to work fully. It was fine for those who wanted absolute control, but it wasn't exactly traditional D&D.

Now, at what may be the 11th hour for D&D 3.5/OGL, Dog Soul Publishing brings us a far more user-friendly and straightforward way to get the core classes you want in your D&D game.

The Class Construction Kit breaks down all the known abilities and talents associated with the standard D&D 3.5 classes into features bought for a point cost. Game Masters are advised that most of the published classes are built on or near 100 points under this system, and are then left to build as they see fit.

In addition to point prices, many available class elements are marked according to what level range (Low, Medium, High) they typically appear at within the core classes -- letting GMs know when introducing a given ability inside a new class should be most approriate and game-balanced.

The Class Construction Kit is a relatively short document, but it's legible, and well-laid out. The art is primarily stock art, but it's well chosen and well used.

Note that the Class Construction Kit is only concerned with helping GMs build plausible custom _base_ classes. Prestige classes and advanced classes are not a part of this product's purview.

Lastly, the author makes clear that any classes built under the system will still need to be tested in play. The construction system is smart, but only a pro-active Game Master can make it truly bulletproof.

Short, clear, and to the point, the Class Construction Kit is inexpensive enough to be worth a look to those who want what it offers.

Me, I just wished it had appeared earlier, so that it might have gotten more of the attention it deserves, instead of standing in the long shadow of 4e.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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The Books of Faith: Jainism
by Craig S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2008 08:22:23
A good looking product that does a great job of rethinking real world beliefs and giving you a functional game mechanic. Thoughtful and intelligently done.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Books of Faith: Jainism
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Races of Consequence
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/23/2007 15:25:55
If you're looking for new player character races, this is an excellent book. The races are well described and thought out, and the details are easily adaptable to individual campaigns.

The artwork is also very good, enhancing the descriptions in the text (assuming you don't mind B&W line drawings, which I certainly don't). Kudos to the artist, especially for the dwelf, dweoven, elome, and thang-agar.

Unfortunately, there is a down side: the editing is really quite poor, leaving the book riddled with layout errors. For example, the page references in the Contents are wrong, one paragraph in the Prestige Class chapter is missing and replaced by one for another class, sections on a table that should be italicised aren't, and every now and then pictures cover up text, so that sentences just end for no obvious

I'd rate this as a 5 if the editing was up to scratch. But it isn't, so I won't...

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Races of Consequence
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Folkloric - Gallia, Land of Chivalry and Intrigue
by Debra L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2007 17:43:13
I absolutely loved this product. If you love traditional fairy tales, look no further. Inside you'll find a rich fantasy Rennaissance setting based on French culture. There are 4 new prestige classes: the goliard, the jongleur, the mousquetaire and the trouvere. The Heroes and Villians section is well written but alas, the stats are in a separate sections which means a lot of back-and-forth for the DM.

The notables include: Analise the Ugly, Auberon of the fairies, Belenus of Lyon, Blue Beard,
Dawn and Day [Sleeping Beauty's daughters], Ella [as in Cinderella] and her stepsister Charlotte, Launcelot du Lac, Leon Coeur de Leon [Beauty's Beast] , Puss-In-Boots and my personal favorite, Melusine, among others. There are rules for creating talking beasts, a staple of any good fairytale and more rules for making talking beasts player characters.

There are plenty of new magic items, spells and monsters [again stats and descriptions being in two places was awkward at best]. Nevertheless the product is presented beautifully and was well-written.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Folkloric - Gallia, Land of Chivalry and Intrigue
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Strange Places: The Sensate's Retreat
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/19/2007 00:00:00
The Sensate?s Retreat

Occasionally there is a book that comes out that is just so different I think to myself I have to use this. But even though it is very creative and thought provoking at the same time what makes it so interesting also makes it really tough to use. This is the kind of book that for the right players it will be a real treat. But at the same time I can see someone really not liking or being interested with it and just bored. I think this could be a fun challenge for a DM to run.

Strange Places: the Sensate?s Retreat is a PDF by Dog Soul Publishing. The book is from the Strange Places series that is all completely done by Deborah Balsam. From what I have seen she is a very creative woman. I really like her books that are more like this. They have a bit of a surreal feel to them and they do not offer easy answers. The PDF is twenty six pages long and about half of that is just maps of the place. The PDF is book marked, in full color, and has a great look and lay out.

Strange Places series is mostly stat free and can be used with any role playing. This one does give reference to a tenth level wizard, has a monster stat block, and refers to a monster from the monster manual. So while it is tied to the D&D game it is very easy to set free and bring to something else. The whole time reading this I have been devising a way to use this in my Changeling the Dreaming game as a weird fey freehold. With the different sense that are being used I could see this as an alien laboratory on some planet in a science fiction game or some training hide out for a sensory oriented super hero in a supers game. There are some adult elements to the game but that could be removed and one could really have a fun place to have kids explore while playing Fariy?s Tale or Meddling Kids or another kid friendly RPG. Or one can really enhance the adult content even more and build on the horror these rooms can generate and create a very frightening place for a game like Dread of Call of Cthulhu. It is a very versatile book for someone willing to think outside the box.

The idea behind the place is the PCs discover a secret hideout. The PDF places this in a desert but the where is not as important. Inside the PCs will first see a nice pool of water and four spice jars. It can get tricky here because picking up a spice jar will send that player character to one of the rooms thus dividing up the party. In some groups that will work in others it might be best to just have everyone get teleported together. Each room targets a different sense and it does go a bit beyond the five normal senses. The place is not necessarily deadly though it could be. There are two rooms with creatures that can kill one the PCs would have to anger to become dangerous and the other they would just have to be slow.

There are many rooms and each of them can really bring out a descriptive DM. The first one might find is the room of scents. It has twenty three pots and urns filled with different things to smell though there are only twenty things listed. The room of touch is very neat in that one covers themselves in a large silk scarf and then feels unusually and not always pleasant sensations. It is a much better place then the Room of Pain though. The Room of Longing places the character into one of their own daydreams. This could be difficult to deal with as it requires a little work ahead of time to figure out what a character might be longing for. Then there is the room of taste. It is filled with all sorts of food and it makes me want to use Bits of a Banquet: Into the Desserts. The Room of Sights is the room I like the least. It is basically looking up into a fish bowl of rare water plants and two exotic water creatures. It is also the only room that allows one to see something of another room. The two water creatures are more important in the Room of Joy. The Room of Sight I think could really have had something else as a visually stimulation in it. The Room of Joy features the two water creatures the Nuur. In this they are both female but I would have them as a make and a female so everyone has the ability to get some Joy out of it. This room can be come very adult very fast. The Nuur are a well constructed water fey. Then we have the Room of Pain. This is a sadistic version of the Room of Touch. Nothing one experience here is permanent but I can only imagine how disturbing some of these are to feel. Lastly there is the room of instinct. The Instinct it seems to go for is run for your life as you will probably be hunted in here.

There is a lot going on in this place. The maps are useful but I found that this type of place does not need maps as each room can almost exist on their own. It is an easy place to explore and to experience a wide range of different things. There is very little information on who built this place or why. Aside from what the rooms do there is little to hint at the motives behind everything. I like that as it makes it really easy to use in different genres like I spoke about earlier. This is one of those products that will be great for certain types of group who like to explore characters and how they react to different experiences. I like that potential and even though it is certainly not for everyone this is the type of book that really appeals to me.



LIKED: Very creative and surreal

DISLIKED: Could use a little bit on other ways tthis can be used

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Places: The Sensate's Retreat
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Strange Places: The Sensate's Retreat
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/27/2007 00:00:00
Strange Places: The Sensate's Retreat is a short product from Dog Soul Publishing. The zipped file is four and a half megabytes in size, and contains a single PDF. This PDF is twenty-six pages in length, including a page for the cover, a page for the credits/legal, a page for the OGL, and thirteen pages of maps. Full bookmarks are given for the rooms of the retreat and for all the maps.

This product is one that's replete with colorful artwork. Most of the pictures are actual photographs of places and things, though at least one has been photoshopped a little. All of the room descriptions have smaller reproductions of their map area, also in color, despite the maps being reproduced in full at the end of the product. Likewise, all of the pages save for the full maps have green borders around all sides of them. Printing this product out may be a bit of a chore for your printer, though given the lush maps here, you may want to make the effort anyway.

The Sensate's Retreat is a small hideaway in the middle of a desert somewhere. Set up to be a realm of sensation, each of the rooms of the Retreat is dedicated to a different sense, allowing characters who stumble upon it to feel, see, taste, and otherwise experience a variety of things wonderful and awful. While d20 game stats are given in several instances, none of this is especially tactical, so it's easily translated to any other game system. One notable exception is the introduction of a new creature, the nuur. Mermaid-like fey in water, nuur have legs on land. While the stats for this creature are mostly correct, it seems fairly mundane in comparison to the rest of the product. Given that the product page described them as a race that forms partnerships of various kinds with humanoids, I'd hoped that there was something here about gaining various bonuses or abilities depending on what sort of relationship you had with one of these creatures, but sadly, this wasn't the case. A few spell-like abilities notwithstanding, the nuur have only one special power, it's song of vengeance, and no information on using this as a PC race, not even a level adjustment.

The Sensate's Retreat works well when a GM has to wing it, introducing an unexpected area off the beaten path. The maps here are gorgeous, and the descriptions evocative, painting a lovely tapestry for your game. However, this product clearly applies fluff first and mechanics second, and it shows. The Sensate's Retreat is a nice place for the PCs to visit, but don?t expect them to adventure too much there.



LIKED: The maps here are beautifully done, and match the evocative descriptions given for the various rooms of sensation.

DISLIKED: The new race introduced felt rather generic, which was out of place with the nature of the Retreat.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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