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X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield (Basic)
by darryl a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2014 17:53:31
My all time favourite classic adventure is a true epic. This adventure has mass combats, diplomacy, side quests, and an epic conclusion all written with a very sandbox structure. This adventure was ahead of it's time and wasn't as appreciated as it would have been if published later on. If you're looking for an adventure to tell an epic story with your D&D group then this is the one for you!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield (Basic)
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Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (2e)
by Jeb B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2014 20:07:20
A great new setting for Ravenloft, and a useful reference for anyone wishing to extend AD&D 2nd Edition to a more modern setting.

The scan quality is solid, overall. The only issue is that the poster map of Gothic Earth is missing (as is an additional poster of the boxed set's cover). If this error is fixed, I will update my review.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (2e)
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Monstrous Arcana: I, Tyrant (2e)
by Jeb B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2014 20:01:35
A neat product, with lots of good material on beholders - much of it useful for any game. A must read for anyone who wants to flesh out beholders and their society.

Unfortunately, the scan has some quality issues, with distortion along the edges of some pages towards the middle of the book. (Fortunately, the text is still readable, with some effort here and there.) Some of the two-page art spreads also suffer, with bits missing from their centers. On the other hand, the product does include the poster (if anyone was wondering).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Arcana: I, Tyrant (2e)
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Deities and Demigods (3e)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/27/2014 13:31:34
The Third Edition Deities and Demigods is a bit different from earlier versions which tended towards being a 'monster manual' for gods. Here there is much more discussion about how to involve deities in the day-to-day life of the campaign world, even the lives of the characters in your party themselves, ways to make the gods of your world as much - if not more - a part of it that the various gods worshipped in the real world are a part of everyday life, even for those who don't happen to believe in them.

Relgion in a game is always a tricky proposition for that very reason. Players who believe in real-world deities can get a bit twitchy about imaginary ones, and yet do not want to see the gods they revere trivialised by making an in-game appearance. Hence the need for game developers to devise pantheons of their own for their campaign worlds.

The first chapter looks at how to use deities in your game. Monotheism is rare, and most game worlds presuppose a pantheon of deities with each god taking responsibility for certain aspects. Believers tend to hold all the gods of the pantheon in reverence, but may choose one in particular as their main focus of worship. Others will pick to whom they'll pray depending on what they are wanting to pray about, and would not claim to worship a particular god at all. Others dedicate themselves to but a single deity. Of course there's one big difference between your game world and the real one: basically the gods are real and everyone knows this (whether or not they hold them in any reverence or choose to worship any of them), whereas in the real world opinion is divided as to whether or not there are any 'gods' at all (and I write this as a practising Mormon, so please do not take offence!)

The chapter expounds on the differences between a 'tight' pantheon and a 'loose' one. In the tight pantheon, a single religion - with the hierarchy, temples, priesthood, etc., that involves - worships all the deities involved, whereas in a 'loose' one there are faiths focussed on each of the deities in the pantheon. You'll have to decide which style is most appropriate for the way your campaign world operates, how you want your gods to interact with the world and with each other. Other forms of religion including mystery cults, monotheism, animism and dualism are discussed, and by the end of the chapter you ought to have a reasonable overview of what you can do.

Then on to the tricky question of the nature of divinity. Are your gods just super-powerful entities or is there something more about them? Are there limits to their powers or to their knowledge? Is divinity innate to certain beings or can it be earned or conferred upon someone deemed worthy of achieving it? In deciding the answers - and there are no right or wrong ones - to these questions you will start to form an idea of the underpinning nature of the universe in which your game will be played out. You'll find the odd side note about the core D&D pantheon - the one described in the core rulebooks - as you go, but the main thrust of this section is twofold - firstly to help you understand what gods are and secondly to put you in a position to design your own or modify the core ones to suit your vision for your campaign world. There's masses more here but one question stands out: How involved are the deities in what is going on in the world? That's one of the most important choices you'll have to make.

Next is Chapter 2: Deities Defined, which deals with the game mechanics that will make what you have determined is there in your world on a philosphical level actually work within the context of the game. This is of particular import if you have decided that deities take an active hands-on approach to worldly affairs, but even if they won't an understanding of how they function in game mechanical terms means that they become a consistent and integral part of the game, part of the fabric just as arcane magic and strange races are because they too are covered by the rules. This chapter is of most use if you have decided to create your own pantheon, but even if you are going with the core gods, or ones from a published setting, reading through will help you understand how they operate within the game itself.

Chapter 3: The D&D Pantheon is for those who have decided to use the core deities provided (but it does provide an exemplar pantheon for those who'd prefer to design their own from scratch). Using the mechanics discussed in the previous chapter, each member of the pantheon is given a 'stat block' that explains what they can do and how they do it... complete, even, with combat statistics should a brawl break out! For each, as this is a 'loose' pantheon, there are also brief notes on the dogma of their faith and about the clergy and temples organised for their worship. They can also use avatars in dealings with ordinary mortals if they do not choose to put in a personal appearance, so you also get the details necessary to run one should the occasion arise. There are some beautiful illustrations here, also representations of divine symbols and even the odd temple plan.

Should you want something different, Chapter 4: The Olympic Pantheon takes the classic Ancient Greek gods and puts a D&D twist on them. This is an example of a 'tight' pantheon served by a single religion, and if you know anything of the original, provides for some very hands-on deities! Whilst this is a fantasy re-tooling of the Greek gods, they are still quite recognisable yet here they are with all the game mechanics you need to make them an integral part of your game. Although this is a 'tight' pantheon, many of the gods have their own shrines and even clergy specifically devoted to them, yet a single overarching belief joins them all.

In like vein, Chapter 5 presents the Pharaonic Pantheon, the gods of the Ancient Egyptians. This is a very 'tight' pantheon with a unitary body of priests serving all the gods. Rituals and beliefs surrounding death and what comes after are very important to this faith. This is followed by Chapter 6: The Asgardian Pantheon, which provides the same service for the Norse gods.

Finally, Chapter 7: Other Religions looks at a whole bunch of different faiths such as sun worship, a dualist faith based on light and dark, and the mystery cult of Dennari, all designed according to the principles and rules discussed in the first two chapters.

There are two appendices. The first is concerned with domains and spells, and is helpful in deciding what to make available to divine spellcasters based on the deities they follow within your game, and includes some neat new spells. The second looks at divine ascension... should you choose to make this option available to characters who survive to 20th level and are perhaps beginning to reach power levels sufficient to challenge existing deities. It will take careful planning, especially if you do not intend it to be the final climax of the entire game - it is likely to end a campaign arc at the very least. There are, however, notes on running adventures after ascension has taken place.

One option that's not really discussed - but which I've found works quite well - is to have different pantheons operating in different parts of your campaign world. Travellers can have fun learning about the beliefs of the place they are visiting (or at least, you as DM can have fun watching them!) and it can provoke some interesting discussions, particularly if your clerical characters enjoy debating their faith!

If you want to make religion a central part of any game, and of course especially if you are running D&D 3.X, this is well worth reading.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deities and Demigods (3e)
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Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (2e)
by Luca R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/23/2014 17:51:00
Too poor about politic, religion and society. In the end the part reusable for 3.5 are very few.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (2e)
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X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield (Basic)
by Darin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/20/2014 09:29:41
My review: Outstanding scan! The punch cards are included in the scan and the overview map of "The Known World" is nice as well. This module is not a dungeon crawl module. It is a series of events and epic battles using the War Machine / Battle System rules.

World War II for Mystara!

Please be careful reading many of the reviews on "old" scans. Many of the old reviews of these produces were written 2004, 2005, etc. They are based on terrible scans from the past. The PDF's released on DriveThru and DNDClassics are all NEW scans and very nicely done.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield (Basic)
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X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield (Basic)
by Raymond A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/20/2014 08:20:34
The return of the Master of the Desert Nomads! When paired with X4, The Master of the Desert Nomads and X5, Temple of Death these three modules can make a continent spanning campaign for Classic D&D. The complete module is included with a scan of an unpunched counter sheet of the armies on the next to last page. I'm am not sure what module the other reviewers bought but it clearly wasn't this one. However, I would expect an update soon as the original included a foldout map is not included. This is the same as the map on page 53 of the module. Considering the excellent maps we now have online from Thorfinn Tate, this is a detail that can easily be worked around with a quick search on your favorite internet search engine.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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RM4 House of Strahd (2e)
by drew d. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2014 19:20:05
No maps? Are you serious? I wanted to run this tonight, and just wasted $5 on a module with no maps... I'm extremely disappointed.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
RM4 House of Strahd (2e)
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Dreams of the Red Wizards: Dead in Thay (D&D Next)
by Andy G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2014 23:04:05
I am serving as the "Event Coordinator" for this season of games as well as a table DM and I can tell you this module is VERY interesting. The concept of a full season of multiple tables interacting, occasionally swapping players and a group of playable NPCs to fill in the gaps allows the DM and Event Coordinator to evolve the experience. This provides an exciting game play for experienced players, but can still be forgiving enough for the new players that drop in for the weekly encounter.

We are actively converting this to 4e as the overwhelming majority of our players do not like the mechanics of Next at this point. This makes the encounters even more challenging, however we have seen a great deal of balance in the individual encounters as we do straight conversions. I tested this in Next with a small group and it seems to be quite a bit better than the last downloadable rule set from the original play test.

Overall, whether you play this in Next of convert it, the story and scope of the encounter is outstanding and reminds me of the old dungeon crawls from my early days in D&D. It borrows heavily from those old modules and dungeon crawls and makes me want to drag out my old copy of Tomb of Horrors and play it again. The Phylactery vault fight is outstanding and will challenge your DMing skills as players move in three dimensions and move from floor to floor in a massive battle with a demi lich.

I would recommend this module, even if you don't like Next. It is a strong module with plenty of opportunity for good game play

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dreams of the Red Wizards: Dead in Thay (D&D Next)
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GAZ7 The Northern Reaches (Basic)
by Darin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2014 16:00:54
Vikings!!! Everyone loves Vikings!

As always, with the new PDF releases of the GAZ series, this is an excellent scan. the maps are well done, and the inclusion of the model village is an added treat! I'll be printing up an extra copy of the village on cardstock and setting up the town for my girls to stomp around in.

I have been very impressed overall with the PDF series offered through DriveThru. I am looking forward to more!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GAZ7 The Northern Reaches (Basic)
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Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (2e)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/12/2014 13:51:01
Original posting here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2014/05/review-masque-of-red--
death-and-other.html

A couple of caveats. I love Victorian RPGs. Also, I primarily reviewing the PDF release.

Wizards of the Coast and their partner DNDClassics.com has released the latest PDF from the TSR/WotC back catalog, this time a product I know very, very well.

Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales is nominally released under the Ravenloft line and you will need one of the Ravenloft core books to be able to play this along with the AD&D 2nd Edition rules. However if you know the AD&D rules well enough you might be able to get by. The premise of the game it rather a simple one. What if the Dark Powers from Ravenloft found their way to Earth? Well...I should state out and out that they never actually say that, but imply it rather heavily. The is a dark, malignant force controlling things on Earth, known here as The Red Death, and this Earth of the 1890s certainly has a lot more in common with Ravenloft.

Pretty much from the time it was published to the onset of the new 3rd Edition rules, Masque of the Red Death was my campaign world of choice. I still played AD&D2 in Ravenloft, or rather, I ran AD&D2 in Ravenloft, but the lines between Ravenloft proper and "Gothic Earth" became very, very blurry.

For this review I am going to talk specifically about the PDF and only discussing the original boxed set format when appropriate.

To begin with we get five PDFs in this package. These correspond to the four books and the DM's screen.

Book I is the main Masque of the Red Death book. It is 130 pages of a high quality, OCR scan. Some the images are fuzzy, but I feel that is more due to the source images rather than the scan itself. The scan comes in at just over 35 meg.
We begin with an overview of what this campaign guide is about. I might be mistaken, but this is the first official AD&D product to take place on Earth. This followed up with a history of Gothic Earth. Things began to go downhill for everything around 2700 BC when Imhoptep (yes, same as the Mummy movies) began experimenting with darker magics. The next dozen or so pages bring us to the present day (1890s). The history is a fast read and I would not ignore it. It sets the tone for the entire game.
Chapter II details character creation. There are different methods used than the PHB to reflect that characters are not your sword wielding barbarians of a bygone age. So characters are more average.
There are rough parallels to all the classic AD&D classes, Soldiers, Adepts, Mystics, and Tradesmen. The AD&D Proficiency system is used here as well. Interestingly the system seems make more sense here (since skills are really what sets characters apart) but also shows its wear and tear.
Money and Equipment is also detailed in Chapter IV. Interestingly this one of the few Victorian era games where the default currency is listed as American Dollars rather than Pounds Sterling.
It should be of note that this also the book that adds guns to AD&D2. Quite a number of guns are detailed here as well.
Chapter V covers magic and you really need the Player's Handbook for this section.
Chapter VI covers the changes to combat.
Getting back to what really makes this special is Chapter VII An Atlas of Gothic Earth. I should point out at this point that the large poster sized map that came with the boxed set is not included here. It gives a brief overview of the world. This section is done much better in the full fledged product that shares it's name.
The first Appendix covers various character kits. If you remember 2e at all, you remember kits. Quite a few interesting ideas are detailed, but you could also do these with the base four classes and good roleplaying.
Appendix II covers some villains of Gothic Earth. There are plenty of old favorite here and some new takes on old characters. Though I will admit the one thing that still gets on my nerves is Moriarty re-done as a Rakshasa. In my games he was human. And yes, Dracula is there as well.
And finally Appendix III covers adventuring in Gothic Earth.

Book II is an adventure in 3 parts by future Pinnacle Entertainment head honcho Shane Hensley and featuring the rock star of Gothic fiction, Dracula. The advantage of this PDF over my boxed set copy? I can print this out and make changes to it. Yeah it is a good adventure, but I can't help but feel it is a pastiche of Hammer and Stoker's original work.

Book III is a Jack the Ripper adventure, Red Jack. Unlike Moriarty's change into a supernatural creature, this adventure make "Jack" into something more mundane. Normally I would be fine this, but the name of the adventure itself and some of the elements BEGS it to be tied to the old Star Trek episode The Wolf in The Fold and Redjac.

Book IV is the Red Death, an adventure based around elements of the Edgar Allen Poe story. Some details have been changed and added, but the spirit is the same. Again, I am tempted to make the main antagonist, Prospero, the Prospero.

Book V is the DM's screen.

Again I'll point out that the large poster sized map is missing.

Once upon a time this boxed captured my imagination like no other game. This PDF makes me want to crack open some 2e.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (2e)
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Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod
by Steffan O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2014 14:36:44
This is absolutely the WORST possible scenario to introduce kids to role-playing with.

The publisher's page states that RPGs teach creativity, problem-solving and cooperation. As a simple statement, I completely agree. That is, IF children are introduced to RPGs with a good adventure.

This one does NOT teach any of those. It teaches children to act without thinking, to kill caged animals without question or thought, to kill caged sentient beings without inquiring why they're caged to begin with. It teaches children that empathy is bad.

If you want your children to be mindless slaughterers, this is the way to go. If you want to foster good roleplaying habits, avoid this like the plague.

[Note: I have no problem with the mechanics of the game.]

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod
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GAZ7 The Northern Reaches (Basic)
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2014 00:40:00
I really enjoyed this Gazetteer. It has a lot of information on the history and traditions of the Northlands. It is a fantasy version of Scandinavia, so if you are expecting historical accuracy, you will be disappointed. The book includes new rules options, a clan of insane dwarves, and all sorts of challenges for your characters to face.

I took off one star because the book makes no mention of the Immortals Forsetta and Cretia, which are central to the plot line of module X3 (set in Vestland). Also, the book makes frequent references to the nearby nations of Rockhome and Ethangar. Neither of those source books has been released yet.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GAZ7 The Northern Reaches (Basic)
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X3 Curse of Xanathon (Basic)
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2014 00:27:06
This module details the Jarldom of Rhoona in Vestland, part of the Northern reaches. The plotline of the module involves a conflict between the gods Cretia and Forsetta. Oddly enough, there is only passing reference to these deities and their followers in the module. (they aren't even mentioned in GAZ7)

I had to do some research online to learn who these deities were and what their worshipers were like. I feel that is a flaw, which is why I only gave the module 3 stars.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
X3 Curse of Xanathon (Basic)
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Dark Sun Boxed Set (2e)
by Teos A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2014 13:51:42
The original Dark Sun boxed set is more than a fantastic purchase for collectors. It is one of the best boxed sets ever written, with a fantastic blend of rules, story, setting, maps, art, and introductory adventure. The whole does a fantastic job of immersing the reader, whether player or DM, in this very original setting.

The setting material is especially useful, even for fans who own the more recent 4th Edition Campaign Guide. The organization of the material on the terrain, for example, really brings the desert to life. Many secrets abound within the pages, exciting the DM with ideas for campaigns. The city-states are portrayed in their original vision, before any additional material had been provided and before the release of the Prism Pentad novels. Ideas such as the character tree still have value today, regardless of the edition you use to run Dark Sun.

This product includes the introductory adventure as both a file with are for players and the adventure for DMs, the setting book, the rule book, the cover art 'poster', the map of Tyr, the black-and-white hex world map suitable for adding notes, the color map of the world, and the short story. The art is particularly useful, allowing DMs to digitally copy the art and print it out for use in games. Excellent purchase!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Sun Boxed Set (2e)
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