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N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God (1e)
by Martin K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2014 14:08:29
One of the best modules for AD&D. It's not just a location with a flimsy justification for the players to explore at their leasure, but actually provides a solid background for why the PCs went there in the first place and what they want to accomplish, as well as providing an explaination why there inhabitants live in the place as they do.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God (1e)
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D&D Basic Set - DM's Rulebook (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2014 13:17:59
The scan of the DM book is pretty good.
Prints out well.
Quite clear; and cheap at £2.94.

I tried finding the error that was mentioned, but couldn't seem to find it ( I might be reading it wrong).

Wizards: PDFs of the Expert, Companion, master, etc WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA.
You've done a good scan of the basic set; get the others done (or is it too much to ask for?).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Basic Set - DM's Rulebook (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
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D&D Basic Set - Player's Manual (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2014 13:01:16
A pretty good scan of the Player's Manual.
And very good at £2.94.

I just wish Wizards would make PDFs of the Expert, Companion, Master, etc.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Basic Set - Player's Manual (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
by Christina F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2014 04:52:02
This is an excellent product, and a great follow on from the basic version. I first picked up the Easy to Master (Black Box) edition of D&D in 1991, and followed that up with the Rules Cyclopedia, but I really like seeing how the rules of the system have evolved over time.

Obviously, this product gets only 4/5, since it is not perfect by any means, especially when compared to today's standard. However, it does give an immense insight in to just how far D&D has come over the past 40 years.

Hopefully, the other rulebooks will also be added here in the future. I am curious to see exactly what the Companion and Master sets added, even though I believe these were released under the BECMI revisions, but I much prefer the single book format of B/X ed. for some reason...

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
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Dark Sun Campaign Setting (4e)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2014 11:25:54
The Introduction jumps right in, explaining what is unique about the Dark Sun setting. Athas is a dying world, where mere survival is a constant battle... and where any sensible person would concentrate on creating a stable sustainable environment, 'heroes' of course prefer to seek glory. The differences between Athas and more conventional fantasy settings is encapsulated in the Eight Characteristics of Athas - it's a desert planet, most people living there are pretty unpleasant selfish types, metal is scarce, arcane magic caused a lot of the current problems and still does damage if you try to use it, long-lived sorcerer-kings rule city-states as the main centres of power, deities seem to have lost interest in the place, the monsters are deadly, and even 'familiar' races are not quite what one would expect. Handy thumb-nail sketch, which makes me wonder if I actually want to visit... well, I do like deserts! There's a note about the original Dark Sun - published in 1991 by TSR using the AD&D 2e ruleset, and saying that while the timeline has been moved on a little from that portrayed in the original books, this version is a complete rewrite and so what you remember from them may not be the case in this D&D 4e setting.

On to Chapter 1: The World of Athas for the full low-down on what to expect. This setting is so different for other ones that you need to study it carefully to be able to play a native... unless your DM has some innovative idea for bringing characters from another setting in to this world, so that it as strange to your character as it is to you. However you got there - native or immigrant - you're going to be a hero, and so the first part of the chapter discusses what manner of heroes are to be found here and how to carve out your own legend. Quite a few ideas are given both here and further on in the book as to how to both embed your character in Athasian society and empower him for greatness. One notable feature of the place is that psionic abilities are an inherent part of the setting, an integral part of what makes Athas what it is, so if you are not comfortable with using psionics in your game, this may not be the setting for you. While a lack of deities and clerical classes is also an integral part of the setting, a few suggestions are given for those who want to be one of the few god-botherers in the entire world - but you will have to resign yourself to the fact that you may never meet another person who believes in gods at all, let alone your own deity!

Next comes a look at the possibilities for adventure on Athas: as you can imagine there are plenty! Whether tomb-raiding or engaging in courtly intrigue, building a trade empire or earn fame and fortune as a pit-fighter appeals, it's likely that a peculiarly Athasian spin can be put on it; this is certainly a setting ripe with opportunity. While a lot of Athasians are motivated by what's in it for them - and even heroes may have an eye on political advancement, their bank balance or on who is the local bard singing about this week - some rise above personal gain and act out of altruism, even if they prefer to try to do things right - ethical merchants, perhaps - rather than go around righting wrongs. The discussion then moves on to Athasian civilisation and the social order as it stands, and then to the history of the world - what little is known by most people anyway, those sorcerer-kings are not too keen on ordinary people learning to read let alone know how (and by whom) the world has been brought to its present state!

Chapter 2: The Races of Athas both runs through the new world-specific races and gives an Athasian spin to existing playable races. The two new races are the mul and the thri-keeen. Mul are incredibly tough humanoids, a result of mixing human and dwarf. Unsurprisingly, they make excellent fighters... although rather too many folk on Athas think that they make excellent slaves. Thri-kreen are insectoid in nature, experts at hunting and survival, often becoming rangers, druids or monks (perhaps the extra pair of limbs gives an advantage when practising the martial arts?). Character backgrounds - based on race, region or something else - are available to help customise each character, each gives an appropriate minor advantage. Then on to the existing races. Dragonborn, despite popular opinion, are not all slavers and sorcerers, although many practise at least one of these trades. Dwarves are still stoic and single-minded, but tend to earn their living as craftsmen, builders or farmers... and rarely manage much in the way of a beard! Eladrin are rare, haughty folk who are very good at psionics but they have abandoned arcane magic completely. Elves are nomadic traders - often rogues - and travelling entertainers. Goliaths or half-giants tend to be barbarians or fighters. Half-elves tend to be rejected by elves and distrusted by humans, making for a lonely life. Halflings are closely linked to nature, seeing themselves not as individuals but merely part of a whole... and are fierce and savage, regarding just about anybody or anything as a potential resource (or lunch). Humans are as ubiquitous as ever. Tieflings are nomadic raiders, or sell their swords to whomsover needs them. Other races may or may not be available at the DM's discretion, but it is possible to play the sole representative on Athas of just about anything with a plausible story of how you got to be there - planar travel is often a good start, or mutation (possibly assisted along by magical experimentation) or perhaps a member of a race that once lived here but died out, leaving a few in stasis... The chapter ends with some racial paragon paths to aim for.

Chapter 3 is titled Character Themes, and its purpose is to introduce a new option for building characters. Your 'theme' is a calling or vocation, a concept that might be met by a variety of routes, different classes or skillsets, something that defines you. It goes beyond race and class, ehancing those basic definitions to explain what drives you as an individual, distinct from everyone else who happens to be of the same race and class. Ten themes are provided for Athasian characters, as well as notes on how the idea works and on the mechanical side, giving additional powers that each theme may use as well as theme-based paragon paths to aspire towards. Athasian minstrels, the first theme presented, are often bards... but they can be rogues or fighters, even warlords or battleminds. They entertain, true, but may also spy or kill, or teach skills other than the lute in their travels. Thus it continues with the other themes. Dune traders can be of virtually any class, whatever it takes to travel the world in a merchant caravan, trading with all comers on behalf of your master or for yourself. Elemental priests venerate the elements and draw on primal power, and this path is common amongst those who seek the ability to heal. You can probably guess what a gladiator does for a living, but any race or class, slave or free, may for some reason enter the arena and fight in front of a crowd. Noble adepts may be of any race or class although of noble birth, but they have chosen to spend their time in the study of psionics. Primal guardians take it upon themselves to defend what remains of nature against further depredation and defilement. Templars are the long arm of the law in the city-states, enforcing the will of the sorcerer-kings, many receiving training in the arcane arts. Members of the Veiled Alliance likewise study matters arcane, but are dedicated to the 'preserving' form rather than the 'defiling' types of magic that caused the present state of Athas. Wasteland nomads seek the freedom of desert life while the final theme, the wilder, hones psionic powers whose origins elude him. Interesting ideas for how to integrate a character cleanly into this particular setting, although I'd have relished some guidance on how to create themes of my own.

Next, Chapter 4: Character Options explores the whole concept of making characters truly Athasian, rather than just any old D&D 4e character that just happens to be adventuring here. It starts off by looking at what makes arcane magic so distinctive, the idea that using it can 'defile' or damage the world by sucking out lifeforce from the caster's surroundings, but that an alternate methodolgy called 'preserving' enables an arcane spellcaster to operate without doing damage, although it takes more effort. Despite defiling having obvious effects, like plants crumbling to ash around your feet, most people regard ALL arcane magic as evil, so arcane spellcasters need to be very careful about letting on what they do for a living, especially as it is actually illegal in most places! Next comes an optional rule for Wild Talents which are minor psionic abilities available to virtually all natives of Athas, the place is so infused with psionic powers that even those who don't actually train in psionic arts have the chance of being able to do the odd trick or two - if the DM allows, all starting native characters may select or roll for a single wild talent. This is followed by a few new builds for existing character classes that are particularly suitable, such as the wild battlemind who uses raw untrained psionic power. Shamans can be animists, while fighters rather unsurprisingly can specialise in arena combat and a warlock may make a pact direct with one of the sorcerer-kings. Each build of course comes with an array of new character powers.

We then take a look at some epic destinies that characters seeking the highest levels of play can aim towards. Many place characters in roles which could lead to a legendary transformation of Athas, healing it of the damage that has been done in the past. The usual collection of new feats also appears. Many of the combat-related ones deal with weapons only found on Athas or with the specialist skills associated with arena fighting. There is also a section on rituals, many of which do not work as expected - or at all - on Athas. The DM is advised to exert control of ritual choices, but some new ones developed here are available for ritual-using characters to select. As can be imagined, in the harsh environment of Athas, good equipment can be crucial to survival so the final part of this chapter looks at useful gear, riding animals and magic items. It also explores the effect of the lack of metal on the weapons and armour available - metal ones are generally ancient heirlooms and beyond the means of all but the most successful adventurers. In the main, however, the use of alternate materials is a matter of flavour rather than a requirement to change the rules relating to use, although optional rules to reflect the increased likelihood of non-metals breaking in use are provided. Still, even if you do find a full set of plate armour, wearing it in the desert sun is not advised! There are some unusual new weapons described and illustrated.

All kitted out, Chapter 5: Atlas of Athas provides a glipse of this arid, harsh yet fascinating place. It begins with a desert primer - there is a lot more to deserts than rolling sand dunes. A whole range of environments of varying degrees of hospitality are covered, all posing a challenge to survival for all but the best-prepared traveller. Next comes the City of Tyr. The place is in turmoil following the fall of its sorcerer-king, plenty of opportunity for adventure here! While there's a lot of detail given, DMs wanting to set campaigns in Tyr might wish to obtain City State of Tyr (TSR, 1993) to supplement it. This is followed by a section on another city, Balic. Despite being ruled by a sorcerer-king, this city practises democracy on a surprising scale... but within certain prescribed limits. Transgress at your peril! Next comes the city of Draj, ruled by a mad sorcerer-king who believes himself to be a deity and requires citizens to worship him. As he is given to demanding blood sacrifice, most people do not dispute his godhood openly. Moving on we reach the Estuary of the Forked Tongue, on the edges of the Sea of Silt. Other places follow thick and fast - more cities, semi-civilised lands and outright wild places - plenty of descriptive text to help you set the scene but a distressing paucity of maps.

Finally, Chapter 6: Running a Dark Sun Game is aimed primarily at the DM. Delightfully, much of the emphasis is on creating the correct atmosphere of the alternate reality of this particular setting - this is a setting in which the exquisitely balanced combat-oriented D&D 4e ruleset is blended and meshed with tools to facilitate role-playing to the full by evoking all the things that make Dark Sun a very special place to visit. To this end, the chapter looks at appropriate campaign themes, a detailed look at travel and survival issues, advice on arena and survival encounter design, and treasures and other rewards suited specifically to Athas. A major theme on Athas, and one particularly suited to the 'characters as heroes' ethos of D&D 4e, is that the world is ruled by evil - both the sorcerer-kings themselves and the all-pervading influence of slavery - and that epic legends can be built around those prepared to dedicate themselves towards eradicating such evils. Likewise, if you take a more ecological view, attempts to repair the damage done to the world by defilers can create memorable campaigns. One interesting idea for those groups who are not interested in the details of surviving in the desert - which can make a whole adventure in itself if you do enjoy that kind of challenge - is the concept of a purchasable 'survival day.' This is a mechanical shorthand to allow characters to acquire what they need for a given number of days without the need for bookkeeping their quantities of food, water, sunscreen and the like. Of course, if for some reason the characters run out of survival days they are going to have to work out how to stay alive...

While most of the encounter types from the ruleset apply, activities in the gladatorial arena feature large in Athas - particularly if any characters are gladiators by choice or perforce. Thus plenty of detail is provided to enable you to create and run memorable arena encounters, pitting characters against other fighters or wild beasts while bringing the whole atmosphere of the spectacle to life. There are also notes about fitting wilderness encounters to the specific environment and some typical Athasian skill challenges that can be used to good effect. Examples given include attempting to join the Veiled Alliance of preseving arcanists and trying to hide from ones enemies inside a city - while these are things better resolved by role-playing rather than skill checks alone, backing up interaction with mechanics makes for an exciting challenge. The chapter ends with an adventure, Sand Raiders, in which 1st-level characters are set the task of finding a missing wagon from a trading caravan that has arrived at its destination a wagon short. Three intense encounters are laid out to introduce characters to the way things work, although you may wish to add some desert travel and survival elements (plenty ideas in earlier parts of this chapter to help you set them up) to round the adventure out a bit.

Overall, this is an impressive introduction to the setting, managing to remain true to the original concepts of Dark Sun while meshing in the D&D 4e ruleset and empowering role-playing as well as combat in a distinctive alternate reality... but it does need more maps!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Sun Campaign Setting (4e)
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C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness (1e)
by Josh J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/04/2014 20:20:08
Worth owning for 1'st ed enthusiasts and Greyhawk completists. It's set in the Duchy of Urnst, and the shadow instigator, "The Seer" played a large part in the backstory of the unfinished "Absolute Power" series by Erik Mona in the Living Greyhawk scenarios (unavailable through official means).

The scan is good quality.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness (1e)
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Circle of Darkness (2e)
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2014 09:42:32
So close and then falls apart at the end.

The good: I have always found Yagno one of the worst darklords. He always struck me as an idiot darklord who probably spent his days eating his own feces. This adventure changed that making him an interesting, complex and almost sympathetic villain. The adventure managed to keep Yagno from either of the two most common evil cleric tropes: insane madman or political opportunist.
G'henna may not be the scariest domain, but it is possibly the most unsettling domain, since it represents a collective madness. The encounters in the city include a lot of interesting roleplaying challenges like how the players will handle people willingly starving themselves to death. The adventure manages to double as a sourcebook for G'henna without sacrificing any pages of the adventure.
Rather than using heavy handed tactics to force the players through encounters like a lot of second edition adventures, the module simply gives the players the rope to hang themselves with.
The Bad: The ending of the adventure exemplifies all that was terrible about second edition adventures. The players stand on the sidelines and watch the two antagonists slug it out without any input from them. The rebel group is called "The Circle of Darkness". Any halfway intelligent group of players is going to decide (correctly) that the rebel group is not on the up and up solely based on the name.

There is so much to love about this adventure that it is hard to handle how badly it flubs the ending. With a better ending it is a 4 or 5 star adventure.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Circle of Darkness (2e)
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Dark of the Moon (2e)
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2014 09:07:31
An adventure that both misuses a good darklord and shows some of the worst tendencies of ravenloft adventures.

the good: the use of inclement weather is extremely well done (even if the rules have to be heavily modified in order to use it In non-2nd edition). In fact the inclement weather is so well done that if they had made it the focus rather than the werewolves this adventure might have been an all time great. Some of the encounters while the players are in the head village are moderately interesting.

the bad: They take a villain and domain and fast forward it 18+ years for the sole purpose of stripping the interesting parts off the villain and turning him into a generic mustache twirling nemesis. Like a lot of Ravenloft adventures (the created, adams wrath, hour of the knife among others) this adventure uses heavy handed tactics to force the players into certain encounters. Modern day players are far more likely to get angry at the tactics rather than enjoy the adventure.
Summary: An adventure that makes inclement weather both dangerous and interesting, but ruins it with heavy handed tactics.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Dark of the Moon (2e)
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The Twilight Tomb (3.5)
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2014 08:59:42
An adventure with an interesting concept that is not utilized to its full potential.

The good: The central concept of the players being trapped in a demiplane between two warring factions is a good concept. There is some variety to the encounters.

the bad: The adventure tries its best to ignore the concept and turn it into a generic dungeon crawl. Too many monsters come from secondary sources like MM3 and Liber Mortis.

Summary: A fairly average dungeon crawl with an interesting concept.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Twilight Tomb (3.5)
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RR1 Darklords (2e)
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/15/2014 09:42:25
A good supplement even for those who aren't interested in Ravenloft.

The good: Details several darklords who were never detailed again in later products. The background for a couple of darklords (Zolnik, House of Lament) is better and more detailed here then they would be in later products. Even people who don't run Ravenloft will find a nice collection of horror themed antagonists.

The bad: For people who run Ravenloft, Tristessa is hilariously out of date. A couple of darklords (Tristessa, Von Kharkov, and to a lesser degree Ankhentop) would be detailed many more times in later products.

Summary: People who run Ravenloft will gain access to several darklords not available elsewhere. People who don't run Ravenloft will gain access to one of the best NPC booklets out there.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RR1 Darklords (2e)
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Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (3e)
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/14/2014 21:30:50
Prepare to enter Castle Ravenloft and face..........Strahd The Barbarian?

The Bad: This is a horror adventure notably lacking in horror. At times it feels like the adventure goes out of its way to undercut any chance for horror. The adventure also gets a little ridiculous with the monsters. Usually I like it when published adventures draw monsters from a wide variety of sources rather than just the base monster book, but this adventure goes too far with it especially since some of the monsters do not really fit the adventure. I kept waiting for a vampire Flumph to show up.

My biggest problem with the adventure is how stupid Strahd is in the adventure. In previous versions of this adventure Strahd was notorious for being a deadly smart opponent who used his spells and powers to the best of his ability. In this version this 10th level necromancer vampire charges blindly and limits himself in most encounters to claw/claw/bite and maybe a grapple/bloodsuck. The limits to his tactical thinking is the occasional use of dominate. It is a problem when the ghouls in this adventure show more tactical thought then Strahd does. Strahd is a CR 15 monster usually with allies facing (at best) 9th level characters, so I have a feeling they made him act tactically weak to balance the fights. Rather then making Strahd act like a mindless barbarian they should have made him weaker or raised the starting level of the players. This problem is not limited to Strahd. In general the weaker monsters make tactically sound decisions, while the stronger monsters make decisions that would embarrass a goblin.

The good: As I mentioned a lot of the weaker monsters are tactically interesting. Some of the traps are quite clever (in particular the wight replacement trap is pretty great). The knowledge/bardic lore checks for the crypts was a nice new addition. The layout for Castle Ravenloft is still one of the better dungeon complex layouts one will ever see.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (3e)
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Howls in the Night (2e)
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/14/2014 20:53:57
A bland inoffensive adventure. Their is nothing bad about this adventure, but there is nothing good about it either. Any halfway decent DM should be able to create an adventure of equal caliber without that much effort. I usually try to find more to say, but in this case the adventure is so bland I can't really think of anything else.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Howls in the Night (2e)
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DL2 Dragons of Flame (1e)
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/14/2014 20:51:40
A terrible adventure even by 1st addition standards. This adventure is similar to the previous adventure in the series (DL1) in that the first half is events and the second half is a dungeon crawl.

The bad: Calling the first half of this module an "adventure" is stretching the definition of the word. It is closer to a 2nd person short story. The author of this module obviously intended for the players to sit on their hands, keep their mouths shut and let the DM narrate the story to them. If the players even slightly buck and try to think for themselves the adventure calls for a never ending supply of draconians to be thrown at them until they submit. Once the dungeon crawl section starts the adventure opens up slightly, but only in minor ways. The dungeon crawl portion still ends with the adventures as spectators for the finale. Also wide swathes of the dungeon are undetailed under the theory that the players do not need to go in those directions. What encounters the players do face are extremely perfunctory.

The good: There are no spectral minions in this adventure.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
DL2 Dragons of Flame (1e)
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RQ1 Night of the Walking Dead (2e)
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2014 02:17:55
A nice short adventure that could be run in 1-2 nights.

the good: Too often Ravenloft adventures revolve around the heroes fighting the darklord of whatever realm they are in, this is one of the rare adventures where the darklord of the realm does not even appear. Adventures which give the players a chance to investigate and be proactive are always welcome. Zombies make good low level antagonists and with zombies recent popularity an adventure from 22 years ago that ends with a zombie apocalypse seems ahead of its time. Multiple villains are involved so the players will probably think the adventure is done and the problems solved several times before the actual climax of the adventure arrives.

the bad: The main villain has too many instant death attacks for an antagonist that is supposed to be facing low level characters. The macguffin revolves around a metaplot tying all the ravenloft adventures published at that time together, which did not really work 22 years ago much less currently where the grand conjunction is a distant memory.

summary: A good short adventure that still works and needs minimal changes to run today.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
RQ1 Night of the Walking Dead (2e)
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Deities and Demigods (3e)
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2014 01:39:19
More so than the 1e Deities and Demigods or the 2e Legends and Lore, the 3e Deities and Demigods serves as a worldbuilding—or rather cosmos-building—resource for DMs. The first two chapters are broadly applicable to any D&D campaign, regardless of the setting or pantheon in use. Also unlike the 1e and 2e incarnations, the 3e Deities and Demigods includes substantial attention to the "D&D Pantheon," shared in part by the Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms settings. Even though the mechanics are specific to 3e, the first chapter is useful reading for any GM, any system.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deities and Demigods (3e)
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