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Fantasy Firearms
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2009 16:26:36
Fantasy Firearms is a 10-page PDF for 3.5 OGL Roleplaying written by Eric Karnes and published by Scorched Urf Studios. It brings firearms, of a fantasy nature, to the (gaming) table.

If you want to mix firearms with fireballs and pit musketeers against mages, this could be a useful supplement for you. Interesting ideas for those who do not mind pistols with their magic swords and wands but the supplement is very general in scope and may not provide enough information to allow firearms to be easily introduced or integrated into a campaign.

This book talks about firearms and the way the various standard fantasy races view them, dwarves discovered black powder, gnomes are fascinated by firearms and so on. Though, oddly, the first race to use firearms is not discussed.

While pistols, muskets and cannon, along with exotic melee weapons that use gunpowder are statted out, the actual technology of firearms is not discussed. The means used to ignite the gunpowder is simply absent, no discussion of the differences between fire locks, wheel locks and flint locks. Just as the problems of making or transporting black power in a world filled with magical as well as just physical way to cause it to ignite and thus explode. The firearms and ammunition are entirely self contained and available ‘off the shelf’ with no attempt to place them into a large context, they are just one more item you can buy anywhere.

Four new feats involving firearms or ranger’s fighting styles are included along with three new spells affecting firearms. One new magic weapon enhancement (usable only by firearms) and seven types of specific magic firearms and ammunition are provided. Some of the magic ammunition is clever but nothing here really stands out.

The simplicity of the firearm system presented in this document is good for ease of play but it also takes away from the uniqueness and interest of firearms. Further, there are no suggestions or ideas for how to introduce or incorporate firearms into an existing campaign. Useful as reference but it could have been so much more useful with a bit more context, but real world and how to apply it to a fantasy one.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Firearms
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Thinking Races: Diverse Humanity
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2009 10:20:04
The stated purpose of this book is to describe a number of variant races of humans, suitable for use in any fantasy game world. In this, it achieves a somewhat mixed level of success.

But first, some general points. The quality of the book, in terms of general layout and artwork, is perfectly acceptable for the price. However, it would have benefited from a contents page, or some bookmarks, given the large number of races described within. Also, most of the races are superior to normal humans, having all of the usual traits and advantages, with additional bonuses besides. Yet, oddly, only one (the Primordials) has a racial Level Adjustment, making regular humans seem a distinctly inferior choice.

The variant races fall into roughly five categories. First are a couple of variant humans distinguished only by some slightly unusual feats, and with little description to make them at all interesting. One rather wonders what the point was.

Next are a pair of somewhat bizarre races with rather more detailed descriptions. They both seem fine as far as they go, but they are odd enough that they just don’t seem very human, and feel a little out of place.

The third category, however, is the best part of the book. These two races – the Primordials and the Imperials – are both really collections of sub-races grouped together by a common theme. In total, then, this section actually covers 20 different races, and these feel very human, and exactly the sort of thing that one could use in almost any fantasy campaign. There is however, quite a long digression in the form of a description of the Imperial pantheon, which seems like a collection of fairly typical fantasy gods (in fact, they remind me of the Birds Gods of Rinliddi from RQ/HQ). Nothing really wrong with them, but they look like the sort of thing that belongs in a world gazetteer, or a book about religion, not a book on human races. I would rather have seen the Primordials fleshed out more. That aside, the races listed here are just the sort of thing that I can see myself getting real use out of.

Fourth comes, well… halflings, albeit called by a different name. Nothing wrong with having halflings be closely related to humans in your own game world, of course, but it’s difficult to see what they’re doing here. There’s a 1-page description of the halfling gods, too.

Finally, the book rounds out with a collection of half-breed races. Four of these are from the standard D&D books (half-elves, half-orcs, aasimar, and tieflings), providing nothing that isn’t in those books, barring a slightly different physical description. The half-dwarves and half-gnomes are functional enough, but were done better in “Races of Consequence”. And who would have thought that half-dwarves are naturally skilled lovers, eh?

All in all, this book has some great material that delivers what the cover promises. But it also doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to be, vacillating between variant human races and descriptions of a particular game world. Its easy enough to adapt, but why is it there at all, when the book makes no claims to be a world gazetteer? Space used on this sort of material could have been better employed dealing with the books core subject matter, and giving it all a clearer focus.

Having said all that, the good material in here is well worth the price of $4, and for that, I am happy to rate it as 4-out-5. If you’re looking for ideas for variant human races, for this price, it’s a good place to start.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Thinking Races: Diverse Humanity
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Giants in the Earth
by Dan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2009 13:24:37
This is a great book for those looking for additional creatures for 4th edition. Almost all the creatures have a ready-invented trait which blends perfectly with 4e's powers concept, with almost no work at all. This is of course natural given that powers ARE just game=mechanic expressions of Special Qualities, after all...

For example, the Sinosauropteryx' Combat Quills would give an immediate interrupt consisting of an automatic counter-attack against any foe's attack on the little save-less creature... Oh, and it has saves, they are just hidden. I guess they borrowed the Composagnathus' hiding qualities... Perhaps more proofreading and less propoganda is called for?

And despite decrying creatures having "wierd magiic or especially unusual powers to mess with your game's sense of reality" in 4e, no problem is stated with the magical powers bestowed by the creatores-cum-familiars upon the behalf of their masters. If fact, the statement "This book's dinos have unique abilities with little basis in reality" (despite being contradicted in the very same paragraph) shows the introduction is nothing but "yay-- I'm a lelling" manifesto against 4e. I think the color of the suthor's glasses is abudantly apparrent.

There is even a statement poinbting out WHY 4e was needed in the first place in "...[I]f you're playing a Druid and you DON'T DON'T (sic.) start wild shaping into every dino in this book, you're playing the wrong way." Power, baby. Raw BROKEN power...

Despite the editing miss here and there (on par with the skill-challenge fiasco in the 4e DMG...) I'd rate this PDF/book right on up there. There are some very good things here. The creatures are much better thought out than the author's views on 4e, and well presented. This is a welcome addition to the arsenal of a DM, regardlees of generation of rules system preferreed. and is a welcome bargain, a treasure-trove of creatures ANY DM should snap up as fast as a Spinosaurus can pouince upon and swllow-whole a meal.

[typos in this review, llke the review itself, provided free-of-charge.]

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Giants in the Earth
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Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Sentai Spectrum Ranger
by Marc R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2009 09:49:59
Ever wanted to play a Power ranger in your d20 Modern game? Okay, maybe you haven't. But if you have, or simply wanted a way to stat out PR type characters for d20, here it is. A full advanced class, complete with 'flying kicks' and 'spectrum specialties'. No Zord support (thankfully, IMO), although it wouldn't be hard to add on with d20 Future or d20 Mecha. Sadly, there are also no sample stat blocks, but that wouldn't be enough to keep me from buying. All in all, it's what it is: A small PDF with the ability to add a team of Sentai heroes to your D20 game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Sentai Spectrum Ranger
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Free20: Troublemaker
by Jeff J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2009 21:00:14
I just downloaded this product and read through it. I feel they have captured the feel they were going for and I might add a NPC with this template to my game at some point. For a free download it's hard to go too wrong and while this isn't for everyone, it feels pretty good.

I'm quite satisfied with this download. Especially as I reflect on using tropes from TV and comics to make the game world more interesting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Free20: Troublemaker
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Fantasy Firearms II: Double Barreled
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2009 15:32:36
Fantasy Firearms II: Double Barreled is a 17-page PDF for 3.5 OGL Roleplaying written by Chris A. Field and published by Scorched Urf Studios. It brings more fantastic firearms to the (gaming) table.

If you want to mix firearms with fireballs and pit gunslingers against spellcasters, this could be a useful supplement for you. Interesting ideas abound for those who do not mind guns with their goblins. However it does push the technology curve up considerably (in the mid-19th C. in fact) and so may be a technology too far for some campaigns.

This book builds on Fantasy Firearms (also by Scorched Urf) and claims not to need the earlier book but several of the magical firearms have an enhancement that appears in that book though the name of the enhancement -everloaded- gives a good idea how it works. These weapons are designed with cartridge-based ammunition in mind and are revolvers (with speed loaders!), bolt-action long arms and even a clockwork automatic, eleven new weapons in all. While costly, they provide an enormous amount of damage dealing potential even before using the magically enhanced firearms or special ammunition, both of which are available.

Nine interesting magical weapons and ammunition types are included ranging from Dwarven heavy revolver to Drow-made sniper rifles. Six new feats, several of which are very powerful: Full Chamber insures you never run out of ammunition (and can be taken at 4th level!), Gravedigger Gun let Cleric or Paladin wield pistols that become exceptionally powerful against the undead, and the Fanning/Shootist chain gives additional attacks with revolvers.

Rounding out the product is a new goblin sub-race (gunfire goblins) and their goddess -Clichsah, Lady of Hammers- who provides access to the gunfire clerical domain, a new aberration and a troll with implanted gunpowder weaponry, and a non-evil elven guardian undead, that is quite intriguing.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Firearms II: Double Barreled
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Black Tokyo
by David K T. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2008 10:07:24
Interesting book. Well written, and looks to be well researched. However, I used this book as a resource for a non d20 system, and as such had to convert the material to another system. Luckily the material was put down in such a easy to understand matter, that conversion to alternate systems was easy.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Black Tokyo
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Black Tokyo
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2008 11:51:13
Caveat: I bought this pdf on sale for a half price during Skortched Urf Studios' New President's Day Sale [Thanks to Mark for that, even if he did vote for the other guy.] Far edgier and more chthonic than other transgressive d20 books, the quotes from Camille Paglia suggest that this work endorses the idea that sublimating violent sexual tendencies through art is healthy; while I am inclined to agree, Black Tokyo offers challenges that I would argue a lot of game maters are ill equipped to handle. Many of the feats, classes, races, etc. presented deal explicitly with rape and sexual trauma. While some of the explicitness can be avoided by having the sexuallized acts occur "off camera," attempts to narrate sexual scenes, may risk retraumatization of player who may have experienced rape, incest, etc. The mechanics here are solid though and enough of this material can be made "PG-13" to fit into a variety of campaigns. Many of the magic items can be used as is. These are well done because they reflect Japan's cultural mythos. Publishing this pdf was a calculated risk for Skortched Urf', as the majority of gamers I have played with over the years have been Center-Right and embraced, at least nominally, conventional Christianity. That world view isn't likely to cast this pdf as intrinsically valuable art. What Chris A Field does well is present RPGers as intellectuals. He takes the subject matter and his audience seriously. All of the above is essentially theoretical. Practically speaking, the people around gaming tables I frequent are of both sexes and range in age from around sixty-five to seven. I could not bring in this material "out of the box." The saving grace of this book for non-transgressive campaigns is the cosmology and campaign section. The setting is in may ways a sexually infused Hu Hu Hakusho / Bleach clone. The race writeups are particularly good. Each is steeped in Buddhist and Shinto lore and easy enough to "mute." Versions of each have appeared even in a setting as benign as Dragon Ball. My academic training is dictating the four star rating here, but do not buy if you are not comfortable with the subject matter. I commend Scorched Urf' and Chris A Field for producing a quality Japanese themed book for d20 modern.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
PSI-Watch Campaign Setting
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2008 09:05:59
Caveat: I bought this pdf on sale for a half price during Skortched Urf Studios' New President's Day Sale [Thanks to Mark for that, even if he did vote for the other guy.] I agree with the points made by the previous reviewer.I hope Skortched Urf' fixes the omission of the Combat Type table mentioned. I will point out that the power armor section, which is stellar, owes more to Louis Porter Jr. than Chris A. Field. If you already own the Weapons of Power Armor Destruction pdfs, then you don't need to purchase this pdf simply for the armor rules; although, there is enough new here that the rules aren't simple carbon copy. I appreciate the shrapnel damage rules, something that I house ruled for my own Robotech games back in the 80s and 90s. But I digress. I bought this pdf for two reasons, other than the sale price: the allure of a feat-based psionics system and the campaign premise. The psionics system-- if you're using a feat-based powers system already, like RPGObject's Heroes & Villains, then this system can be easily integrated and allows for basic class characters with psionics through psionic precursor feats, prerequisite for still more powerful abilities. But, by Chris Field's own admission, the system is incomplete. To build a powerful telekinetic, for example, one needs to purchase the Gravity Slinger pdf separately. The pdf does provide a good working set of plug and play rules for Iron Age supers gaming with d20 modern. The general feats presented are gritty as opposed to pulp influenced, and the pdf contains a substantial section on group tactical feats. The campaign premise--one refreshing aspect of Mr. Field's work is that he isn't afraid to name drop when appropriate. He has no qualms that he is not reinventing the wheel. Brands like Rifts, Bubblegum Crisis, and of course, Wild C.A.T.S. get a nod. The classes and the campaign do a fair job of ret-cloning the Lee-Liefeld-Ellis Image, not so much McFarlane or Larson. ...no Spawn or Savage Dragon analogues here, but the pdf delivers the high-powered, alien influenced, covert-ops, paranoid post Cold War themes that fanboys and girls like me ate up in high school when Image broke out. If it's in the first 50 issues of Wild C.A.T.S., it's in here. There are no NPC stats given, howerver; and, the continuity seems to be frozen around 1998. The setting makes no mention of 9/11 or the two current American wars, leaving important questions unanswered. If Psi-Watch [read Stormwatch] can teleport operatives anywhere in the world, would a 9/11 even be probable, or if it did occur, was there alien involvement? In other words, the pdf doesn't address the effect of super-powered individuals on the current geopolitical landscape. This pdf begs for a sequel, and I am glad Chris A Field and others are still writing for d20 modern.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
PSI-Watch Campaign Setting
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Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Sentai Spectrum Ranger
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2008 08:20:52
Caveat: I bought this pdf on sale for a dollar during Skortched Urf Studios' New President's Day Sale [Thanks to Mark for that, even if he did vote for the other guy.] Even with the said discount this pdf is a bit disappointing. While it handles the Power Rangers / G-Force analogue without being silly, the product description mentions advanced gadgets available to the class, none of which are found therein. Also, it assumes that most people at the gaming table will be playing this class, which is unlikely. The class isn't as versatile as I'd hoped. That being said, I do like to see manga / anime themed classes for d20 modern, so it isn't a total loss.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Sentai Spectrum Ranger
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Skortched Urf' Studios Sketchbook: Fantasy Creatures #1
by Louis P. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/04/2008 08:21:57
The best full color stock art product lines selling on the PDF market today, and I am even comparing it to my own Image Portfolio series. You can go wrong with Shaman’s Stockart series. All of them are great!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Skortched Urf' Studios Sketchbook: Fantasy Creatures #1
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Skortched Urf' Studios Sketchbook: Fantasy Figures #1
by Louis P. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/04/2008 08:21:29
The best full color stock art product lines selling on the PDF market today, and I am even comparing it to my own Image Portfolio series. You can go wrong with Shaman’s Stockart series. All of them are great!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Skortched Urf' Studios Sketchbook: Fantasy Figures #1
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PSI-Watch Campaign Setting
by Patrick G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2008 12:07:04
Ok, my first detailed review, here it goes:
Content: 5
Layout: 2
Overal: 4

The good: The races & classes are all very interesting though somewhat overpowered compared to official classes released by WotC. That is ok though, as the author advises, this is for a setting more akin to the early Image Comics & Manga. The feats section is packed with new feats, some not too good, some quite usefull indeed. There are psi-based feats as well as a slew of feats that can be used in any kind of espionage type game. Those psi based feats are very well done. There are 2 levels of psi, psionic precurser - basic or simple psi feats, or abilities that lead to psi & psionic feats which present the all out supper-bad psi you come to expect in a high power game. The power armor section is a godsend. His take on skinsuits, hardsuits & shells is realy a great expansion to the mecha section in D20 Future. In fact, he could probably do pretty well in sales if he pulled that out and released it independently from the rest of the document. The last section, the background info is fleshed out well enough to dive into the setting with minimal work, which is a very good thing.

The Bad: Layout & Editing. The layout is poorly done. the document has no page numbers so caution is advised if you print it out. There are typos throughout and one class, The Combat Type is missing it's advancement table, instead it has the advancement table for The Frontliner. This was easily correctable, I sent an email to the author and within a day I had a word doc. of the corrected class.

The Final verdict: I still think this product is worth the money. The new crunch within realy adds a new vitatlity & excitement to the game. I just hope the author will go back & re-edit the volume to eliminate the typos & errors as well as clean up the layout. I've seen many products here on RPG Now that weren't laid out quite well and the authors eventually corrected them. Hope he does. Till the, buy this anyway if you are looking for soem extra punch for your game!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
PSI-Watch Campaign Setting
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Skortched Urf' Studios Sketchbook Page #3: Modern Horseman
by Julie D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2008 13:47:15
Nice piece of line art for the price. Good action illustration.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Skortched Urf' Studios Sketchbook Page #3: Modern Horseman
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Wizards of Shadowfell
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2008 15:56:59
I suspect that I, like others who first saw this product, were drawn to it because of the use of the word 'Shadowfell'. And I suspect as well that this intentional or unintentional 'marketing' has done its job, even though the product in question has little to do with anything related to Shadowfell or the newly released GSL game. In fact, Wizards of Shadowfell is a 14 page base class for the revised OGL rules, and provides an alternative to the standard wizard built along the lines of the wizards of literature like Gandalf or Merlin.

This pdf is presented in the familiar style of Skorched Urf' Studios, and consists of a neat cover with good art, good layout and some excellent pieces of art scattered throughout the pdf. The writing and editing is good, and the product contains some solid mechanics that's well designed without being clumsy. I was generally impressed by the effort on the presentation side of things, and Skortched Urf Studios have done a grand job of producing a very presentable product.

Wizards of Shadowfell presents a new 20 level base class, the Wizard of Shadowfell. This wizard is modeled after the powerful wizards of literature, and as such is both strong in magic but also handy when wielding a blade or in battle. The pdf provides an excellent introduction to the class, with some useful information on the concept behind the class, how it fits into a campaign world, the roleplaying opportunities and a brief comparison to the standard wizard. The pdf readily admits that the Wizard of Shadowfell is more powerful than the standard wizard, which does raise a few eyebrows since the high level standard wizard is already the most powerful class in the game.

Nevertheless, this pdf does bring some interesting and refreshing new ideas to the game table, particularly the new mechanics of the class. Unlike the standard wizard, this Wizard of Shadowfell gains a new ability at each level, and these include a new spellcasting progression system, Lessons of the Arcane. This allows the wizard to cast lower level spells at will, while progressing largely the same at higher level. The at-will abilities are thankfully restricted by the wizard's rank in the Spellcraft skill. Other useful new mechanics include a wizard mount, various abilities that enhance the wizard's senses, improved BAB and hp, the ability to sense the use of magic, powerful summoning, various roleplaying restrictions, immortality, and the ultimate ability to cast spells with lightning speed.

As can be seen from the list of impressive abilities, this makes for a very powerful class, and while the new mechanics is the product's strength, it is also its weakness. But given the design considerations and the aim of the project, that's probably what the product set out to do. Wizards of literature were insanely powerful, and this product has demonstrated that in spades. How well that concept works in game play over a table is another matter, but one that could work if handled carefully.

Wizards of Shadowfell closes by providing a starting package and an epic level progression for the character class, rounding off a very complete, interesting, and generally well designed class barring the large power boost. I found this product interesting to read with a concept that would appeal to many. Handled carefully or modified to tone down the power, this would make a strong concept in a campaign world, both as PC and NPC. A solid product, with great presentation, good mechanics, and a strongly designed class.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wizards of Shadowfell
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