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Lore of the Gods: PFRPG Edition
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2017 15:15:28

That moment when you write your piece, misclick, and watch your whole review get sucked into the aether

T-T

But, I've got a book to review and things to say, so lets try this again.

Big, Beautiful, and Tragically Baroque, Dragon Wings' Lore of the Gods is an amazing tome that is a good book so close to being great that it almost kills me. A conversion of their 3.5 book of the same name, Lore of the Gods is an awesome book that is hamstrung by amazing content that is attached to what appears to be old production decision on information layout, art, and pdf design that don't destroy the book but do keep it from being the absolutely amazing piece it should be. This leaves you with an amazing pathfinder pdf that feels trapped in a web of layout and design decisions that are left over from the maelstrom of the old 3.5 days and in ways that don't help the book.

The book itself is broken into 10 chapters which can really be broken into about 4 sections the pantheons and all their ephemera (including artifacts associated with them), prestige classes, the bestiary, and Avatars. To start, the pantheons, the thing I assume a lot of you are here to see are, to be blunt, fucking fantastic. Each pantheon gets its own chapter and each chapter feels like a boulder of information that could literally kill someone if you smacked them across the head with it. Each god gets an information block so dense that it puts everything even Paizo's put out on their pantheons to shame, giving you everything from their portfolio, alignment, and holy symbols to things like sacred colors, allies, true form, forms most associated with them, sacred animals, enemies, and even things like SACRED MINERALS. In all my years I would have never thought that Amon thought Nile River Clay would be something special, or that Nergal loved fungus and obsidian. Now, I know that might sound dumb but it gets me excited, it gives me ideas on how to design their temples, how to use sacred animals as omens and signs with the faithful, what colors the clerics wear and how to use that to code scenes so that players can know which NPCs are allied with who just by telling you what colors their clothes are, and gives me a rubric on what offerings someone would have to give a Hound Archon working for Anubis to show them devotion and fealty to the judge of the dead by looking at that list of sacred animals, minerals, and plants (p.s. the answer is dogs/jackals, natron, and gum myrrh). And I wouldn't know any of that, let alone think to even look for some of that stuff like sacred minerals without this book. In this way, Lore of the Gods sets the bar for what to expect when a publisher wants to release a comprehensive guide to their religions of choice and I want to see others follow suite.

Unfortunately, though this stuff is great and trust me, I could sit here and GUSH about this level of minute and absolutely laudable detail I feel like I'd be doing the reader both as customers and designers of tabletop content themselves a disservice if I didn't talk about some of the real issues this book has.

First, as of this writing the pdf version I have downloaded lacks any bookmarks. Now, this might be okay in a small, 5-10 page supplement covering a single topic like say a single archetype or maybe a brief new race with just some stats, art, and a brief description but Lore of the Gods is a 340 PAGE BOOK with 10 chapters, 4 different pantheons, a bestiary, a whole chapter devoted exclusively to the items and artifacts of ALL THE GODS in it, and an opening chapter about designing divine avatars for ANY AND ALL THE GODS HERE AND BEYOND. Having to fish through this monster of a book with nothing but a single table of contents who's page I have to remember and bounce back and forth between in a pdf is unacceptable, and more often than not leaves you forgetting what you were even looking for in the first place. For example, say you flip to the bestiary and find this cool monster called Asag and you want to know more about the gods that made him. Usually, you'd read through is entry, see the name Anu, and be able to just click the bookmark button and be on your way. But instead, in Lore of the Gods you are going to have to memorize the page you found Asag on, fool around trying to find the table of contents again, fish his divine dad out of that list, punch in the printed page number and hope it lines up, and then have to vacillate between the two memorized page numbers until you finally get exhausted and realize you really don't want to keep doing this. And realize that this problem only GETS WORSE the more parts you add, such as needing to look up multiple gods, artifacts, prestige classes, and a couple monsters to understand how they interact. The thing is like a giant chinese finger trap that locks you into basically memorizing every page you think is relevant to whatever you're looking up as a matter of course in order to not have to waste your whole reading section constantly having to bounce back to the table of content and then onto whatever you were looking at. And with how many times a lot of the proper nouns and other key words in this book pop up control f searching it is just not an option, you'll end up searching 55 different references to Anu before you find the one you're looking for that way. This pdf NEEDS bookmarks like a fish needs water, and without it the thing feels way too cumbersome especially considering the sheer density of content it wants to you absorb.

Second is the art. Varying across each chapter as each pantheon is covered by a specific artist and each opening with its own piece from an entirely different artist from the one covering the pantheon in question, the art in Lore of the Gods often comes off as inconsistent both in style and tone. The Egyptian chapter opens with a piece of 3D art that looks like something from a Playstation 2 game that was inspired by Heavy Metal and then slides into black & whites of Amon, Sobek, and the rest of the chapter that look like they were done by Rob Liefeld at the height of the 90's. Seriously, Bes looks like he could bro fist the 90's version Cable a la handshake scene out of the original Predator and the only thing missing would be Bes' color palate. Neither of these things help sell the chapter on what it's about and feel more distracting than evocative of the content, as you find yourself wondering why Horus looks so ripped or completely thrown off by how the Egyptian Priestess in what is basically a slutty Egyptian Halloween costume doesn't match the content that follows it. The later pantheon art gets much better, with the full color Mesopotamian chapter getting some really beautiful and stylized full color art that really sells the world in this thick lined comic book esque way that really works for it, but this inconsistency in the first chapter really does get in the way and the terrible CGI art, which continues throughout. The latter is even worse, as it feels like it not only looks bad, but begins to have less and less to do with the actual content of the book as you read along. One example of this is page 193, when we get what is essentially a naked white lady straight out of the 80's animated movie Heavy Metal in nothing but metal pasties in the middle of the artifacts chapter and 0 context for what item she's even supposed to be showing off. Is it the Garments of Ladyship on that page, the Girdle of Rapture on the other, is it actually the feathered cloak of Journeys and we're supposed to be looking at her red cape?! The image gives no context to what item she's supposed to be showing off and what's worse she doesn't look like she belongs to ANY of the settings any of these pantheons this book is about, so I the reader can't even use the information from previous chapters to help me figure it out. All the CG art comes off like this and it hurts the book, distracting you from the actual mechanics of the book with art that makes no sense with it either in tone or style.

Final for this piece is the general layout of the content. Pathfinder is now nearly a decade old and the 3.5 system it is based on pushing towards two, and both have begun to get us all accustomed to a certain layout for how the content is presented, a format that keeps all the content easy to read and reference because the flow of the content naturally passes from the first line to the next. Dragon Wings unfortunately makes a few decisions though that go against this paradigm and they tend to work against them. One of the biggest ones is the way they handle favored weapons. Generally included in the big block of text at the start of the deity's entry, favored weapons are instead segmented off from the list entirely, wedged into the text fore each individual "Devoted" boon the god offers. Though the Path of the Devout is a really cool idea in concept (basically creating a minor paladin's code for each god that faithful can follow in exchange for some god specific powers) putting favored weapons here buries them in the sea of other content surrounding them, making this often key information for character design almost invisible to anyone looking for it. To make matters worse, the Path of the Devout concept is really only explained in a single paragraph at the beginning of the book and then never again, which meaning the only people who are really going to know where to look for this stuff are going to be those who read this book from cover to cover, something that few really do with a reference book like this that almost begs you to just look up that cool god you just heard about or flip to that cool name you saw in the table of contents. This issue is compounded when you consider the idea of extended use, as even players and GMs alike who would read this thing cover to cover run the risk of forgetting this little tidbit after they sit the thing down for a few months and then return to build that priest of Ishtar only to find they either can't find what her favored weapons are or have to potentially read the thing all the way through to find out where the authors put that information and then get to look it up, and in something as big and dense as Lore of the Gods that fact is a killer.

Now, all of these critiques aside, what works in this book fucking works. You have never had a book that so meticulously details every little thing you ever wanted to know or didn't know you needed to know about these ancient pantheons or really ANY pantheon quite like LotG does and that detail will set an expectation bar that others will have a hard time leaping over. But, when you have a book this big, with this much technical and minute detail for us as GMs and Players to pour over, the layout, structure, and navigation needs to be tight, otherwise people will get too frustrated navigating your product to ever use it, and that's the biggest tragedy here. If they clean up the layout of some of this information, maybe change or pull some of this art like the CG work to help each chapter at least have a uniform artistic aesthetic, and DEFINITELY PUT IN A BOOKMARK SYSTEM this monster might actually be able to really sink its teeth into the audience that really wants it. But until then, I feel like Lore of the Gods will be relegated to only the smallest list of consumers who are willing to overlook these problems.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Lore of the Gods: PFRPG Edition
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Drop Zones - Well of the Twice Born (OGL)
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2014 03:46:22

A 14 page (plus cover, credits, and game license) booklet detailing a magical well in the wilderness. The idea is fairly original, although it's intended as no more than brief encounter to throw at your players, rather than a full adventure. Some encounter seeds are provided, along with stats for two of the residents, although it's unlikely any encounter would be heavy on combat unless your PCs really insist on it (it's not like there's any treasure to be looted, for instance). If they do insist, there are three different versions of the NPCs for varying levels of game, and some ideas at the end to make it tougher.

The layout is bland, although the one piece of art isn't bad. On the whole, pretty good for a dollar.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Drop Zones - Well of the Twice Born (OGL)
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Torn Asunder: Critical Hits PFRPG Edition
by Dark M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/18/2011 16:16:45

Torn Asunder by Dragon Wing Games

This product is 146 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, and ToC. (5 pages)

Chapter 1 – Critical Hits (36 pages) It gets into what are critical hits, how to tell what kind of critical you have done(mild, moderate, serious), Next is a generic random hit location chart.(arm, leg, tail, torso, wing, head) Next it gets into what exactly happens when a crit is applied to a body part based on the severity of the three crit levels. Afterwords it gets into different types, say something with no arms, it also adds in mouth and sensory organs. Followed by random hit location charts for varies types of body profiles, a total of 9. Now in this part they have a equal chance to hit all body parts, they get into their reasons why they did this. While I understand why they did it, I completely disagree with it. It is simpler yes but for me lessened the use of the tables, though the called shot penalty was nice addition. It has a small section about special creatures like a dryder and how to handle them.

Bleeding is discussed for those that want more realism. How much dmg per round from bleeding to hp and or con by body type. Hit point reduction due to lose of a limb. If there is less of the monster they have fewer max hp.

Called shots, this part expands the section on called shots, how to do them, what can be targeted and what the effects are when you do target them. There is 7 called shot area's with special effects while using this book if they are hit. The chapter ends with a small section on fumbles.

Chapter 2 – Healing (40 pages) This part gets into advanced use of healing, such as rolling well and getting more healing per day with the skill. How to stop bleeding effects, difference between short and long term care. DC mods on how serious the wounds are and how long certain wounds take to fully heal(such as broken bones). Herbalism is list all the PF herbs and 11 new types and the effects they all have while using these new critical rules. It has a table for treating types of wounds with specific equipment such as master work healers kit etc. There is 30 new equipment items.

Magic healing is talked about next, just what magic can heal by type of spell used. It also has a section on scarring from sever wounds and the effect magic has on them. There is 9 new spells most deal with healing effects by this new system, but some like Finger of Life and the greater version lets you cast lower level healing spells at a range. There is also 10 new magic items.

Artificial limbs, what book of limb severing criticals would be complete with out mundane, fantastical and magical replacements? There is far to many types both mundane and magical for me to go into. It does list all the issues with having ones, effects on skill checks, any bonuses or negatives to them.

Chapter 3 – Armor (6 pages) It starts off talking about partial armor. The effects it has of wearing only parts of a suit of armor. I liked this section a lot, I wish they would have expanded it even more. Next is 3 new magical armors followed by 2 new magical effects. Armor as damage reduction, it has rules on how to use and apply armor as damage reduction instead of armor class.

Chapter 4 – Critical Characters (14 pages) 2 new PrC's, one focused on causing criticals and one a healing Prc focused on fixing them. There is a new base class, a mundane healer. A healer that uses herbs and special abilities to heal others. A replacement healer for low magic campaigns or a nice NPC class. There is 17 new feats, mostly pretty decent.

Critical hits with spells. It has a small section on spells with a chance to hit can score a critical. There is 8 new spells that take advantage of these new rules in a offensive way or protect against them. The section ends with a small section on if people fail their saves vs spells badly enough the spell should do more with a table to that effect.

Chapter 5 – Tools of the Trade (10 pages) This section has 20 new weapons, 3 new magic effects, 2 new magic weapons, 3 new magic items, a section on traps doing critical damage and what the effects would be. The section ends with a basic addition of adding firearms to your campaign world.

Chapter 6 – Of Tooth and Nail (17 pages) This section 9 new monsters that are fully and greatly detailed along with stat blocks. Following this is 3 new templates with sample monsters of each.

Appendix 1 – Tables (9 pages) This has all the tables in the book collected together on these pages. While nice, with the border it doesn't make them all that print friendly. I really wish the border had been left off of the Appendix section for printing reasons. Nice idea though.

Appendix 2 – Spells (2 pages) This section has spell list by class for all the new spells.

Appendix 3 – Body Profiles (3 pages) This has charts that can be filled out to keep track of criticals hits by body location.

It ends with a OGL, 2 blank pages for notes and back cover. (4 pages)

Closing Thoughts. The artwork is good black and white art all and all. The text is on a blank background which would normally make for a very print friendly book. But there is large border graphics mostly black and white but with red blood running down it, with the size of the border it would be rough on a printer making it less print friendly. I found the book to be a bit of a mixed bag, some stuff I liked and some I did not.

The book does give you base rules for critical hits to spice up your game but it is a pretty simple system, which if that’s all you want great. But if you was wanting it for a bit more “realism” in your games then the simple system is more of a good starting point. Personally I would have liked to have seen all the tables with different chances to hit different area's and or perhaps expand the table to include things like sensory organs, vitals(like sensitive areas) etc. I can use the base charts and make my own but would have been nice to have.

The healing chapter was nice and likely the best done chapter, the new spells, equipment and rules I felt all add to the game. Prosthetic limbs for mundane ones was good and the magic section was ok. It makes sense to have them and was fairly complete on what you could think of to add to one. The armor section was nice, though I would have liked to have seen the partial armor section and rules expanded. Another section I wish would have been a lot bigger is the one on traps. The new PrC's I was meh about, they showcase the new rules but I wasn't wowed by them. The new non-caster healer class I liked a lot better, it makes sense such a person would exist in the world even with clerics, unless there is a cleric on every corner.

The last two chapters could have honestly mostly been left off. While some of the new weapons where nice for the most part most of them wasn't needed and same with the monsters. Nothing wrong with them but they felt out of place in the book.

All of which brings me to some of the flaws with the book I notice beyond what I already mentioned. There is not bookmarks and there is a error on the very first table of the book with crit severity, it is easy to figure out what they meant though. There is a few other errors, some spelling or things that should not be as clear as they should be. Not a ton but more than I am use to seeing. Another thing I didn't like that the spells, equipment was broken up in different chapters. I would have much rather them have a magic chapter with all the spells in it, one for magic items and then a chapter for equipment. Would have made it easier to find things. Which is the final flaw with the book layout.

So whats my rating? Well if you are looking for a simple critical hit system to add to your games to add some variety it does accomplish that. It just has a few flaws and some added stuff you likely won't care about(like the monsters). If you was wanting a more “realistic” system, you will be less happy. Even then it is a good starting point to build from though and some of the sections are very nice. I am giving it a over all rating of 3 stars, if you are happy with a simple system add ½ a star.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Torn Asunder: Critical Hits PFRPG Edition
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Drop Zones - Well of the Twice Born (OGL)
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/24/2009 10:35:00

Drop Zones is another hybrid project by a publisher testing the traditional categories of Dungeons and Dragons accessories. DragonWing Games new product can best be described as an extended plot hook. And although the purposeful lack of direction makes the product feel shallow in places, there is a simplistic grace to Drop Zones – Well of the Twice Born that Dungeon Masters will mildly enjoy.

Well of the Twice Born presents the readers with the setting of a druid’s shrine and then explains the circumstances for that shrine. A number of hooks are included to lead PCs to the shrine and interactions between the PCs and the shrines protectors, the twice born, are presented.

What Twice Born does really well is write a simple story. The descriptions are short and warm. The story is detailed enough to follow and understand. The area feels like it has a lot of promise for a skilled DM. Unfortunately, things are too simple. Whereas the writer seemed to be going for a place DMs can drop into any campaign, something DMs covet, there is too little material provided for an average or novice DM. At 17 pages for a single plot hook, one would expect a couple of well designed NPCs or a stronger tie in with the natural realm. At best, I was hoping to find a comprehensive write up of exactly what makes a twice born so twice born.

For the Dungeon Master This is a well written PDF, and I find the premise useable if you add more detail to the story and tweak the twiceborn a bit.

The Iron Word Drop Zones: The Well of the Twice Born is a nice attempt at creating an easy to use product for Dungeon Masters, and just falls short of that goal. Instead of providing too much, as often modules do, it instead provides too little. And just too little enough to create that inkling of frustration that appears when you see a rumor fall out of exhaustion two feet from the finish line. It will be interesting to see the next Drop Zones product to see if they put a little more boost in it.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Drop Zones - Well of the Twice Born (OGL)
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Drop Zones - Well of the Twice Born (OGL)
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/09/2009 20:26:52

What’s the dollar value of an idea?

The above question is what popped into my head after I finished reading Well of the Twice Born. If you had an idea, and just jotted it down with maybe a bit of exposition and an illustration, how much could you sell that for? The question is a topical one, because that seems to be the case here.

As a quick overview, this PDF is seventeen pages long (including the title/credits page, and two pages for the OGL), and has full bookmarks, which is a plus. There’s almost no artwork to speak of – the only picture here is that same one you saw on the product page. That’s reproduced in the PDF as well as being included separately as a JPG file. Beyond that, and a company or product line logo, there’s no illustrations here to be found.

Well of the Twice Born is a Drop Zone Encounter, a location that can be dropped with minimal fuss into your campaign setting. In this case, the location is a well with religious significance. Long ago, a druid met the Goddess of Nature here, and built an altar to her on the spot, along with a magical well that would awaken animals that drank from it. Over time, this collection of animals – calling themselves the Clan of the Twice-Born – became the keepers of the site, protecting it from despoilers.

There is more here than what I’ve just described, but make no mistake, this product is almost all fluff text fleshing out the above material. There’s the longer version of the history, several different adventure ideas, what the site looks like, the basic structure and combat tactics of the Twice-Born animals, and a few other ideas for how to use this, among other narrative additions. On the mechanical side of things, while this is a 3.5 OGL product, there’s honestly very little new material here. A table of members of the Twice-Born is fairly edition-neutral, as it just lists various animals and their Hit Dice and hit points. Likewise, two members of the Twice-Born are given stats (in fact, they’re given several different stat blocks, depending on what specific animal you want them to be) but they’re just normal animals that have been awakened. There’s only one other NPC stat block here (the ghost of the original druid), meaning that the total crunch here isn’t just fairly lacking, but what is there is nothing original.

My overall feeling towards this product was ultimately one of disappointment, because while the basic premise isn’t a bad one, very little was done to really flesh it out. The author seems content to toss out a collection of possibilities for things that could be done with this encounter, but all of the heavy lifting is left to the GM. Moreover, there’s a lot that could have been done here, but wasn’t. Why isn’t there a detailed map of the location that can be used for a 5x5 ft. tactical area? You could have a listing for various traps and things that the animal guardians have created. Why don’t we get stats on the magic well itself? It sounds like possibly a minor artifact, so that wouldn’t be hard to create. How about giving us definitive stats for several characters, rather than several possible stat blocks for just a couple, and outlying specifically what they do in case of a fight. How about having some new feats, spells, or magic items specific to animals? I’m not the sort of person who’s happy with nothing but long lists of new crunch, but having even a tiny bit of new crunch is a good selling point for an OGL product. As it was, this product really felt like it wanted to be edition-neutral with how vague and undefined it acted in regards to game mechanics for most things – it either should have gone in that direction totally, or committed itself more fully to its OGL leanings.

As it stands now, the Well of the Twice Born is just an idea with a few pages of exposition and some stat blocks to help round things out. It’s not bad, but it really felt incomplete for how much more could have been done, but wasn’t. Still, if you don’t mind fleshing out more of the specifics yourself, and can run with what you’re given, this may be the idea you’ve been looking for.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
d20Zine! - Special Edition: Fantasy Worlds Tour (October, 2002)
by Brendan F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2008 16:26:51

I bought this simply to see the final entries into the WotC contest, and for that alone this is an intriguing lunchtime read. A lot of the settings are too generic, or too out there to really work as 'core' so you can see why Eberron won out against them, but there's some gem ideas in there, and for home campaigns I believe there's much to be nabbed here.

Overall, given the spectacular price of nothing whatsoever, I can't really fault this one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d20Zine! - Special Edition: Fantasy Worlds Tour (October, 2002)
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Darkwalkers: The Evil Within
by Robert L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/08/2007 05:02:33

If you wait to run the most evil character ever... this is the book for you... Out of all the books I have, this one is on my top ten list...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Darkwalkers: The Evil Within
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Lore of the Gods
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/19/2007 12:22:53

An RPG Resource Review:

Originally intended as a rewrite of the 3 PDFs Greek Gods, Norse Gods and Egyptian Gods to take advantage of the 3.5 version of the D&D ruleset and the desire of readers for a 'dead tree' book on this topic, this project survived the demise of Bastion Press and has come to fruition with DragonWing Games, the company started by lead author Steve Creech. The intention, as stated in the introduction, is to take the stories, myths and legends surrounding some of the 'real world' deities of the past and present them in terms suitable for use in role-playing - be it fantasy or contemporary settings. Fantasy worlds, in particular, often have their own pantheons created for them, but even if you adventure there, some of the ideas herein may be suitable for mining for ways in which the affairs of your setting's deities may impact on the people dwelling there.

Chapter 1 looks at Avatars and Divinity. A staple of fantasy literature is the 'avatar of the gods' who does mighty deeds in the name of his patron deity and who may even ascend to godhead himself one day. It's one way in which a deity, who may well have other unfathomable concerns and not wish to meddle personally (or perhaps who does not wish to take the risk of mixing with those who may have little time for him!), can take a direct hand in what goes on in the 'real world' for which he is a deity. Here, an avatar is defined as a construct, directly made by the deity, rather than an inspired ordinary person, and the appropriate rules for creating one in the light of the deity for whom he will act are given. There is a whole range of special abilities to choose from, depending on the nature and interests of the deity involved.

For ordinary mortals, there is an option called Path of the Devout where by following strictures based on their chosen deity, they can receive specific benefits from their holy lifestyle. This is more aimed at the fanatical follower of a faith rather than those for whom it is a profession such as clerics. A follower of this path is constrained to choose classes, alignments and weapons based on what is appropriate for their deity, and swear an oath to him. In time, such characters may aspire to godhead themselves which, depending on how gods 'work' in your world may be possible. Characters of epic levels with such aspirations of grandeur need to take a feat called Divine Potential to even qualify for consideration, and when you read that a requirement to take this feat is to be 45th-level you can see that this is going to be an unusual event! The character will then be set a quest by his patron deity, and on completion of that can set about finding some worshippers.

Overarching mechanics dealt with, Chapter 2 turns to an examination of Egyptian Mythology. It's a complex area to explore, as even the Ancient Egyptians themselves had four conflicting views of how the world came to be and precisely which deities had a hand in it! One important note is how religion and state entwined, the Pharaoh was closely linked with the gods and many of his duties as ruler were religious in nature, while the priests were as much civil servants as servants of the gods! After an overview of how religion worked in Egypt, each deity is presented in turn, with all the game-related information you need should you wish to include that deity in your setting: symbols, domains, duties and rights of clerics, the requirements laid on those following the Path of the Devout and a complete rundown on an Avatar. There's even enough on the beliefs of the faith for people playing clerics to sound convincing about it!

Next, in Chapter 3 Greek Mythology is given the same treatment. Again there is a plethora of deities whose stories read as much like soap opera as they do of heroic legend. After an overview of Greek cosmology and life, each deity in the vast multi-layered pantheon is given the same individual treatment as the Egyptian ones, enabling you to introduce some or all of them into your setting.

Treading on more unfamiliar ground, Chapter 4 looks at Mesopotamian Gods. Again there is a vast array of deities, who all seem to be related to each other. The underlying theme is that there is a deity for every aspect of life - and again they are listed with copious game details.

Chapter 5 moves back to a more familiar theme: Norse Mythology. The Norse gods have one unique feature - they themselves are mortal and can be slain if they are very, very unlucky. Again, the major members of the Norse pantheon are given the 'game treatment' as with the preceding pantheons.

Chapter 6 is titled Heroes, and looks at heroes of legend - the ones who battled against enormous odds to succeed in a quest. Each one is presented with full game statistics, should he happen past where your adventurers are... or if you harbour designs on running the quests with the originals attempting them once more! It's an interesting mix with Beowulf, Perseus and Jason (the Argonaut one who hunted the Golden Fleece) rubbing shoulders with Cleopatra and Homer. I'm not sure just how much use these will be to most campaigns.

Chapter 7 is more promising - Magical Creations and Divine Artefacts. Drawn from legends and presented in game terms, these are unique items, often gifts from the gods themselves, and are powerful enough that they should be used in a game with caution lest they make things too easy... Best use probably as the goal of a quest (the Golden Fleece is in there for traditionalists!) or as a symbol held by a temple or ruler as a mark of divine favour - it would be a terrible shame if someone stole it after all.

Next, Chapter 8 presents some Prestige Classes which characters can work towards. While rooted in the deities and legends on which this work is based, many are general enough that, with some work on the backstory, you ought to be able to make those you like applicable to your own campaign world even if your deities are different. Several would also be well-suited to NPC use, such as the God Seeker who roams the world looking for those who have that divine spark within them.

Chapter 9 looks at Skills, in particular Craft, Knowledge and Profession ones which are directly applicable to the divine focus of this book. Some are of universal application - Knowledge: Siege Warfare for example - while others depend on the beliefs of your setting - so if it is believed that you can divine the future from the stars, a character might wish to learn Knowledge: Astrology to do so. Being able to craft clay tablets or cylinders is appropriate in those cultures where they are used, while the nature of your campaign will determine whether Profession: Temple Prostitute is allowed or not!

Chapter 10 turns to Spells and Domains, introducing many new ones based on the deities presented earlier in the book and the legends surrounding them. There is plenty here that will be of use either if these gods will have a place in your setting or if you are looking to design new deities for your world. Several of the domains turn up in different formats according to which pantheon they draw upon for inspiration. There are quite a few new spells which you might wish to use even in settings without these particular deities - most are of general application even if based on the mythologies discussed here.

Chapter 11 presents Creatures, Monsters and Lesser Powers - myths and legends are well-populated with beasts fit to test the mettle of the most competent adventurer, and while many have already found their way into monster books, here are some more. There is also a Child of the Gods template you can add to any being - so if your deities have a habit of seducing mortals you can cope with the results - and a selection of Divine Mounts so that if your gods visit the world in person they can ride in appropriate style.

Overall, this is a comprehensive presentation of four mythologies from the real world's past, with supporting rule material which would allow you to use them as is, or adapt those features - such as domains, spells and so on - which will fit into your own world. If you like devising your own deities and their mythology, this should give you some ideas on how to put it together as a coherent whole.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lore of the Gods
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Lore of the Gods
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/20/2007 00:00:00

Lore of the Gods is a massive d20 sourcebook from DragonWing Games. The zipped file is sizable, weighing in at almost forty-five megabytes, and contains the single PDF of the product. The book itself is a whopping three hundred twenty-one pages long, including covers, the OGL, etc. Luckily there's a table of contents (conveniently hyperlinked) and bookmarks.

Art is rather plentiful in Lore of the Gods. Each chapter opens with a page of full color art (all but one of which depicts a sexy woman). Each of the major gods in the chapters devoted to a religion has a black and white picture of that god. Most of the monsters in their chapter also have a picture of them. Numerous other pieces of artwork, both in color and not, also dot the product. There are no page borders, save for a small design around the page numbers. Needless to say, a printer-friendly version would have been very, very helpful here.

The book is divided into eleven chapters, and the first one goes over the basics of divinity. Interestingly (and perhaps rather oddly) it follows the rules for divinity laid out in the SRD, but never gives stats for the gods themselves; always presenting their avatars instead. It's also a bit of an oddity that the SRD rules are subtly altered here; for whatever reason, this book has its own take on what divinity adds to a deity's speed, AC, etc. The section also covers how a character can live a devout life, and that (with a pair of new feats given here) how they can eventually attempt divine ascension.

Chapters two through five cover, respectively, the Egyptian, Greek, Mesopotamian, and Norse religions. Each opens with listings of what planes of existence are defined by each mythology, giving those planes very brief coverage and then laying out their planar traits. It will then briefly cover living in that area at the time of that religion before moving onto the gods themselves. Each has divine listings (expanded from what you'd find in the PHB), and then depicts their mythology, the tenets of their faith, where their faith was based out of, religious sects, rights, responsibilities, and restrictions of clergy members, rituals and vestments, and following the devout path of that god, before giving stats for the god's avatar.

Chapter six covers historical personages, giving just over a dozen heroes of ancient lore a paragraph of text and full stats. The seventh chapter covers magic items and artifacts, many, if not most, of which are used by avatars. Chapter eight presents almost a dozen new prestige classes, followed by a brief chapter on new skills. Chapter ten presents a wealth of new domains and spells, and the last chapter presents almost fifty monsters from divine lore, a number of which are epic level.

Lore of the Gods is a massive book that is epic in scope, and at first it seems like the answer to the prayers of those who want another manual for using deities more actively in their game. However, the devil is in the details, and its here that the book becomes less impressive. While the book present a wealth of gods, the material here seems more like a historical recap than anything that'd make them seem like real characters. Telling us that Bast's main temple is found in Bubastis, and that she's the goddess who guards the passage of Ra into night, doesn't feel helpful in the context of a high fantasy game. How do gods relate to each other, beyond simply retelling their mythology? How do they interact with creatures, and the god of creatures, found in the SRD? What are their long-term goals and desires? What's laid out here is the gods as they appeared in history and mythology, and while that's interesting, it's of limited usefulness in any d20 game that doesn't take place on historical Earth. It's also worth noting that minor errors crop up in a lot of the stat blocks. From Outsiders not having the Extraplanar subtype to incorrect hit point listings, a lot of the gods and monsters here needed another round of editing, which is discouraging. Ultimately, if devil is in the details for both fluff and crunch, then this book is bedeviled for both. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The book is massive in what it covers. Everything from four huge chapters of gods and their religions, to divine ascension, new feats, skills, prestige classes, spells, and monsters. This book has far more than almost any other book of gods out there.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Unfortunately, in terms of presentation, this book falls into all of the same pits that WotC's Deities and Demigods did. The gods here read more like treatises on actual mythology with some stats thrown in, than they do living characters in a fantasy world. Combine that with some stat block errors, and no printer-friendly version, and you could have a book that looks great, but might not be as useful as you were anticipating.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Darkwalkers: The Evil Within
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/20/2006 00:00:00

Darkwalkers: The Evil Within is a sourcebook from DragonWing Games. It serves as a supplement to The Hunt: Rise of Evil campaign setting from Mystic Eye Games, though it?s not too hard to use most of the material in any fantasy setting. The zipped file is just over thirty megabytes in size, and contains a single PDF file that is roughly 34 meg. The PDF is one hundred twenty-three pages long. It contains full bookmarks and a hyperlinked table of contents.

The book has a fair amount of artwork throughout. The front cover is done in full-color, depicting an evil warrior. The interior art ranges from relatively simple black-and-white pieces to spectacular full-color pieces that take up an entire page and put the cover image (which is itself very well-done) to shame with their quality. Minor borders are also present in at each page?s corners. The only problem with so much artwork is that it makes the lack of a printer-friendly version so very noticeable.

After an introduction explaining how the book almost didn?t see print, the book launches into its material. Darkwalkers is a book that focuses on letting you play evil characters, specifically on the world of Gothos (the campaign world from The Hunt). The book?s first chapter is a discussion of playing evil characters, noting why evil characters would work together, what evil things they?d do, and how they can gain advantages over their opponents.

Chapter two is about a specific new mechanic: piety. Piety is a specific mechanic used to track a character?s actions in accordance with the faith of their deity, which of course makes it most useful for divine spellcasters. While this chapter notes that these rules were introduced in a previous sourcebook, they are revised here to note how evil clerics (and other such characters) can use the piety rules. While the rules here seem to be enough to use piety for any kind of character, they seem slanted towards what evil characters can do, which may make players want to have the aforementioned sourcebook where these rules were introduced if they want to use the material here.

Classes are the subject of chapter three. It opens with fluff (non-mechanical) text describing how core and prestige classes can be best played with an evil slant. Several classes are mentioned here that I assume are from The Hunt campaign setting, such as centurions, shamans, and furies of destruction. It then offers four new evil base classes and thirteen new prestige classes. Interestingly, one of the PrCs is described as being a ?legendary class,? but exactly what that is, and how it?s different from a prestige class, is never explained.

Chapter four is dedicated to giving new options to evil characters. It opens with several new combat options, such as using a hostage as a shield, or throwing dirt in your opponent?s eyes. It then briefly offers several fluff-only paragraphs on evil ethics that your characters can have, before offering several tables of disadvantages your character can take, with suggestions for what compensatory bonuses are gained for taking them. It then closes with ?personality templates? based on the seven deadly sins. Characters who are defined by such a sin gain various (relatively minor) powers and drawbacks related to it.

Evil pacts are the subject of chapter five. You need a feat (presented in the next chapter) to make these pacts, but this chapter describes how to summon a fiend that can make such a pact, along with the various pacts possible. Such pacts can only be made in place of a feat slot, however. Each is more powerful than a feat would be, but also carries a drawback to balance out the cost of taking them.

Chapter six presents thirty new feats. Many of these feats have the Evil descriptor, which requires the character taking them to be evil, though there are also often other prerequisites as well.

Chapter seven covers skills. It opens with new uses for existing skills, before presenting several new ones. Most of these are new subsets of the Knowledge skill, such as Knowledge (arson), or Knowledge (sabotage). The one given the most coverage, however is Knowledge (torture). Rules for torture checks (both physical and psychological) are given, along with a listing of several torture items.

The last chapter is a large one, covering new magic items and spells. It lists several new miscellaneous magic items and magic weapons, before presenting new clerical domains (many of which are sacred domains, which require a feat, not given here, to take) and spells. Oddly, while a large number of new spells are presented, several from the PHB, such as trap the soul, are reprinted here. Why exactly this is done isn?t explained, though they?re still in the minority, compared to the new spells here.

Altogether, Darkwalkers: The Evil Within is a good book for evil characters, but one not without flaws. The parts of it that are specific to The Hunt: Rise of Evil campaign are relatively minor, but crop up enough that GMs looking to use the material here in another campaign might be mildly vexed. Likewise, although instances of this are small, this is noticeably a 3.0, not 3.5, book. There are places where this comes up, such as in the Martial Master PrC?s ki strike ability. Between all of this, and the lack of a printer-friendly version, Darkwalkers is a good book that is somewhat undone by its own flaws.

Ultimately, Darkwalkers is a good resource for evil characters, be they PCs or NPCs, in your game. Just be prepared to do some work to conquer this book?s own evil within before you use it. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The book had many great new evil spells, feats, PrCs, and more for evil characters.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Several Gothos-specific aspects of the book are hard to remove for GMs who want to use these materials in another campaign. Also, the material here seemed to be 3.0 and not 3.5. Finally, the book had quite a bit of artwork with no printer-friendly version offered.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Darkwalkers: The Evil Within
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Darkwalkers: The Evil Within
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/08/2006 00:00:00

You would think it would be easy, but a lot of players do not know how to be evil. Despite all the studying of evil characters they get to do while slashing at the BBEG, it usually proves for naught when its their turn. Darkwalkers,: The Evil Within, by Dragon Wing Games, is a diabolical answer for any player seeking to play an evil character. More so, its an excellent guide for DMs whom want to the undertaking of putting together an evil campaign.

The first thing you will notice about Darkwalkers is the phenomenal artwork in the beginning of the book. The words following are just as good. The first few chapters provide evil resources and tweaks for not only the core classes, but other base classes such as Samurai and Warlock. These tweaks come from a mechanical and descriptive point of view. The author does a great job explaining each class?s motives for wanting to take on an evil undertaking. The author also makes sure to define what evil acts are. This is excellent advice for misguided players whom often think being a serial killer is the only way to be evil. If you are not satified with the core races, Darkwalkers provides five additional races, all very well written with pretty unique abilities. If that is not enough, there are 13 more prestige classes. Beyond the races, there are dozens of options and tips for DMs and players filtered throughout the book. From the peity additions to clerics to evil combat maneuvers.

For the Dungeon Master Running an evil campaign or adventure is challenging. However, when you pull it off well it can be more rewarding for than your typical adventure (ask my players from the 2006 Iron DM tournament.) The options and advice in this book are very well researched and move beyond what players typically see evil as. The first chapter of the book is a must read if you plan on running such a campaign. Even if you are not, you can pick up some useful encounters by stealing the field of debris and lame duck combat maneuvers.

For the Player This book is primarily for the players. As a person whom has always wanted to run in a really good evil campaign (instead of the pack of mass murders), you will get a real enjoyment out of the flavor of he magic items, combat techniques and other mechanics presented. But the true jewel of the book is the player tips. Most injoyable is the Extreme Evil portion of the last chapter.

The Iron Word The d20 world has needed a sourcebook to evil players and campaigns for a long time. Darkwalkers gives players the tools they need to pull off really good evil characters and DMs enough help and inspiration to manage a villainous campaign.
<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: - lots of tips and advice

  • there are a lot of class options in this book. More than i've seen in other products.
  • understands what true evil is
  • everythings well bookmarked
  • best artwork I've seen in a product this year<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: - The book could have skimmed on some of the prestige classes. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d20 Magazine Rack Banner Advertising Space - 10,000 Impressions
by Julie D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/16/2005 00:00:00

Very happy with service. Responded immediately to my order and my banner was up on the site within hours. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
d20 Magazine Rack Banner Advertising Space - 10,000 Impressions
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d20Zine! - Special Edition: Fantasy Worlds Tour (October, 2002)
by Beau Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2005 00:00:00

Although it was popular at one time to bash WotC's choice in the setting search, this cross-section of submissions shows that it actually must have stood out from the pack pretty clearly. The submissions have more than a few gems mixed in, but the majority are incredibly generic, don't necessarily seem to understand that the proposals were for a campaign world instead of a novel, and are rife with copyright violations. (Naming your world after a character from Lord of the Rings is probably not going to work, nor impress the judges.)

Still, besides its historical value, there are quite a few submissions that can be culled as locations for a plane-hopping adventure. Hopefully some of the best will be made into commercial settings with some other company some day.<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: It was nice to see so many campaign world ideas in one place.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: No complaints.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
d20Zine! - Special Edition: Fantasy Worlds Tour (October, 2002)
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d20Zine! - March 2003
by Remi F. Date Added: 11/30/2003 00:00:00

I initially downloaded this issue from the d20zines website. However, there is something in this magazine that I wished other gamers to sample, so I leave my comments here.

The Collectible Card Game d20 (CCG d20) on page 10-33 is worth downloading this e-zine. There is so much good information including characters, rules and ideas that will surely please any CCG player (novice or veteran).

With many great articles and reviews, d20zines is a superb online magazine.

Remi Fayomi EsoTerrana RPG



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d20Zine! - March 2003
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d20Zine! - October, 2002
by Mark W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2003 00:00:00

d20Zine! always delivers fine content. The covers always have fine art.

This particular issue offered new clerical domains and 61 new spells in "From the Books of Ancient Lore".

Tactical Combat offered my favorite classes (wizards and sorcerers) good advice of how to jump into combat (rather than imitating scrolls with legs...).

Hostile Climes offers four new monsters.

"The Design An Artifact" section offers a pre-made adventure "Long Night At The North Pole". (Four Characters, 6th level). The adventure is enjoyable, although I prefer full stat blocks rather than just hit points. The map of the Elven Stronghold isn't the greatest quality, but this is a free magazine. "Gwendolyn and the Bottle of Arcana" is for the same party make-up as above. The map is a bit rough, but fully usable, and full stats are provided for the monsters. "Pearl of the Eternal Waves" and "Necklace of the Banshee" are sketchy adventures that would need work before I could use them.

The reviews are interesting and thoughtful, although dated now.

Music In Gaming is though-provoking piece.

Overall, this issue has the goods, and delivers solid content.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d20Zine! - October, 2002
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