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Anima: Gaia Volume 1: Beyond the Dreams
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/06/2010 03:15:13

Wow. I’ve been looking over this system for a while, the incredible attention to the art being a primary attraction for me. The question always arose of whether the game was all style and no substance (did they blow their budget on the art with nothing left for writing) – and the answer is that this provides both. The PDF copy has been formatted with utility in mind, with many internal links allowing you to ‘flick’ through the book rather than scrolling ad nauseum.

This is essentially a World Guide, analogous to the release for any other game world – now you have the rules, it’s time to look at where you can go. Each section is logically set out, with interesting facts about each locale and gives the reader a good feel that each place is slightly different and has its own flavour – a point that is made by the attention to the artwork in each section too. Whilst it is all tied by a common theme, there are distinct differences which is a nice touch.

Overall, Anima players and GMs alike will find this a valuable addition to their bookshelves (virtually or in print) and the internal links make this a game-night-friendly supplement.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Anima: Gaia Volume 1: Beyond the Dreams
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Anima Beyond Fantasy: Core Rulebook
by James b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2010 14:56:21

WOW! I curse myself for not getting this sooner then I did. Amazing in almost every aspect, definitely something I am going to get my group to take a serious look at when it comes time for a new campaign. From the rules, simple but can get as crunchy as ya like, to the general feel of it all, it works wonderfully. A nice break in the world that seems obsessed with the D20.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Anima Beyond Fantasy: Core Rulebook
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Grimm: Core Rulebook
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2010 07:18:07

Grimm is a fantasy-type setting for a world of imagination that resembles the classic fairy-tales of old. You play the part of a kid caught in this world, trying to make your way home, completing adventures and quests along the way.

It's a fascinating book, with a unique game-play system and a rich world to explore. The rating would have been 5 star, except for the price; either buy the PDF or the book, but not both: I suggest that you buy the book, unless you really like to read things from the computer screen.

All in all, a great purchase and a great game -- seasoned game players will find it interesting, beginners will find it informative. Grimm is a must-have for your collection.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grimm: Core Rulebook
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Fireborn: Player's Handbook
by John Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2010 23:11:34

great game great product....fast download and the ebook is excelent in quality....extreamly clear :) worth every penny I spent...maybe more would recommend this to a friend



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fireborn: Player's Handbook
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Midnight: Fury of Shadow
by Arnon R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2009 03:11:07

Fury of Shadow is part of the Midnight line, a campaign setting detailing a war-torn land where evil has won, and the dark god Izrador reigns supreme. The forces of Izrador have crushed the land of man, where pockets of resistance still exist, and are now waging war on two main fronts: the Kaladrun Mountains to the east, home of the dwarves; and the great forest of Erethor that occupies nearly half of the western side of the continent, home to the elves.

Erethor and the elves is the focus of Fury of Shadow.

The box contains the following: a big map of Eredane, character sheets, DM screen, map booklet, and 160 pages soft cover campaign book (the meat of the box).

The map is a very high-quality image which you can zoom in to with very little distortion (to a point) and I can just imagine cropping small areas of the map, pass it trough some image manipulation tool (photoshop, paint.net, etc.) and hand them over to my PCs as prize.

The character sheet is just like the standard D&D character sheet but with a Midnight logo on top and a place to write your character’s Heroic Path, the magic area still has ‘Spells per day’ boxes where Midnight uses spell points, and Knowledge (planes) and Knowledge (religion) which are removed from Midnight are still there. And the DM screen, while it has nice paintings on it, has the usual information one would expect on a DM screen such as AC modifiers, actions, movement, and even a Turn Undead table, something not available normally to PCs; and a very small amount of stuff significant for a Midnight game: languages available, time to learn new spells, and the Sahi calendar. All these three things could have been much better.

The most important part of the box is of course the campaign book. This book is a must for any DM who plans to run a campaign in Erethor, or who just wants to expand his/her knowledge of the elves and what they are facing. The file comes with bookmarks to head of chapters.

I’ll break down the chapters for you:

Chapters 1 to 3 describe the various regions of the elven forest Erethor that are directly affected by the war with the Shadow (Izrador): the Caraheen (central), Veradeen (north) and the Arrun jungle and Druid’s Swamp (south). The Caraheen receive the most attention with a page count that almost equals both the south and northern area, which is a shame. The relatively quite coastal area of western Erethor, the Miraleen, does not receives it’s own chapter, and while it get several other mentions in other areas of the books, I think that some more information on this area of Erendane would have been welcomed. Even though, all three chapters a choke full of great locations and interesting personalities with enough quirks and twists that a cunning DM could have his players constantly on edge and asking themselves whether they should truly trust that elf. that particular person (and in my opinion, one of the most important parts of a Midnight campaign)

Chapter 4 goes into a little more detail about the various elven societies (all four), their strength and how they fight the Shadow, what could happen should the Shadow succeed in corrupting or defeating some of them, as well as some adventure hooks. The chapter also provides on some other groups that help/hinder the elves in their fight such as the Cult of the Witch, Roland’s Raiders, and the Pirate Princes.

Chapter 5 provides an excellent recounting of the war on Erethor for the past 99 years, an Arc by Arc (months in Midnight) description of the Shadows “final” and greatest offensive against the elves, and some of the Witch Queen plans to counter such an offensive. It is important to know, and the authors keep reminding us, that this chapter is a possibility of things to happen to provide adventure seed andor a backdrop to the party’s adventure in the elven forest.

Chapter 6 describes the Shadow’s forces besieging Erethor, the location and difficulties these forces have, their plans of conquest, the personalities and ambitions of the various captains (with all the conflicts between them), giving us a better understanding of how they might react; and as well as the elven forces and how they try to counter the Shadow’s minions. This is another excellent part of the book with plenty of ideas.

Chapter 7 provides general adventure ideas in Erethor for both good or evil parties, and three short encounters taking advantage of the various areas described in the book. Chapter 8 gives us the new monsters and several important NPCs complete with their personalities and quirks. Chapter 9 is the shortest and gives us a handful of feats and one Prestige Class, the Erunsil Blood.

The book on the whole is very well written. Short stories (several paragraphs at most) dot the chapters and give readers a more in-depth look at what the elves and orcs fighting in this warfront feel. You cannot read a page of this book without an adventures idea, if not a whole campaign, jumping out at you (in fact, I recommend reading this book with a notebook and pen on the side. Just in case).

There are no meta-plots in this book. The authors keep reminding the reader that everything written down are suggestions and ideas, a possibility of things to come, nothing more. They leave enough gray area for the DM to run around in and fit and mold into his/her own campaign.

The book in black and white (as all Midnight books are) and I like this because I believe it very fitting for this dark setting. While I do not like the cover art of the book, I do like the interior art. The map booklet is also black and white, and I have no problem with that either; I do not think it detracts from them, and still believe they are very good.

For people not playing Midnight, Fury of Shadow offers little. There are several mechanics strewn throughout the book for forest travel with haunted trees, braving rapids, dealing with thin ice, and more, but there are plenty of books out there offering such mechanics. Fury was made for Midnight and fits into the setting perfectly.

I bought the original box set when it was firs published (The original box set cost $50, and I do think it was a little too much for what the box offered. I’m sure a little shopping around will produce a better price. ); Read it and loved it; and over the next several years flipped through it from time to time. Recently, I have re-read the book and have fallen in love with it again.

With this new offer of Midnight PDFs and only a $7 tag price, this should be a no brainer. If you are a Midnight DM and plan to run an Erethor campaign, then this is it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midnight: Fury of Shadow
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Midnight Chronicles
by Jason T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/22/2009 20:20:52

Writer/director/producer Christian Petersen’s Midnight Chronicles is an indie film based on the fantasy role playing game Midnight from Fantasy Flight Games. Evil rules in Midnight’s world of Aryth after Izrador, the dark god defeated the free races in a war 100 years prior. Men are now enslaved while Elves and Dwarves have disappeared into the forests and mountains. Hope resides in only the few brave enough to pursue it. As Mag Kiln travels to Blackweir to investigate the disappearance of a fellow priest, others also descend on the small town where a complex web of good versus evil develops that has implications on the future of the dark forces that rule the land.

For as relatively small a production as it is, Midnight Chronicles is incredibly ambitious. And while it surprisingly rises to the level of visual prowess demanded by its subject matter, it falls woefully short in the story department. Like a lot of recent indie flicks, Midnight Chronicles is another impressive-but-flawed realization of a lot of hard work, money, and time and it’s also one hell of a mixed bag of movie pros and cons. Unfortunately the cons are so fundamentally important to the art of storytelling that they are impossible to overlook.

I’ll start with the things Midnight Chronicles does well.

The photography is beautiful and stark, utilizing various filters to washout primary colors and enhance the dark oppressive settings in which this story takes place. Filmed in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Midnight Chronicles’ locations and sets are on par with movies that boast much larger budgets. This is apparent immediately during the film’s large scale opening shot of slaves being marched through a vast valley overlooked by a kingdom nestled in the hills.

Midnight Chronicle’s sound production is also very well done. This movie takes place in multiple and various settings, including large scale outdoor and underground locations. It features crowds, fights, the occasional flock of birds, creatures, magic spells, you name it. Yet the sound mix remains polished and consistent throughout.

The cast is wholly comprised of theatre, television commercial, and indie film talent based in the Twin Cities. Midnight Chronicles has more characters than the average indie movie which usually predicts a huge drop off in performance between the leads and the supporting characters. However, by casting capable actors rather than friends and family, Petersen by and large avoids the aforementioned indie flick malady. While no one here threatens Brando’s spot on the all-time list, more importantly there are no sore thumbs in this group.

From a production perspective – the sets, the costumes, the effects, the acting, i.e. the tools used to help tell the story – this movie is top notch. However, a movie’s entire reason for being is born well before the actors are cast, the sets are lighted, and the cameras role. Storytelling matters most and it’s here that Midnight Chronicles falls short.

Midnight Chronicles’ script appears to have been a structural mess from square one. I consider myself a fairly astute movie watcher and I spent over half the time wondering what the hell was going on. This is because the very basic essentials of plot, specifically movie plot are never clearly defined and in some cases they’re missing all together. For example, the three act structure is a forgotten concept. This makes it difficult to discern who the protagonists and antagonists are as there is no clear main tension established early on. The main tension defines when the first act ends and thrusts us into the bulk of the film armed with knowing who to root for, who to root against, and what they all want. It’s a simple concept the by-product of which results in a compelling story.

Midnight Chronicles also suffers from a considerable lack of originality. Conceptually, it’s extremely similar to Tolkien’s Middle Earth mythos. There are Orcs, and Elves, and references to Dwarfs. Even the proper names spoken throughout the film sound like they were cribbed from a Lord of the Rings improv group. I understand that the source material for the movie is a strain of RPG that owes much of its existence to D&D and by extension the Tolkien books, but this is a level of similarity that’s off-putting and distracting.

It comes down to the fact that I’m on the outside looking in and that usually doesn’t bode well for one’s reaction to a film. It’s certainly possible that Petersen is a bit too familiar with the source material for the film’s own good. And maybe fans of the game will dive right into Midnight Chronicles and feel at home. However, I’m neither familiar with the game, nor am I a gamer in general so perhaps too many of those source elements are lost on folks like me. The bad news for Midnight Chronicles is that there are more of us on the outside than there are on the inside.

Christian Petersen’s film is an admirable effort. Compared to the vast majority of true independent films, this movie is made with a superior level of effort and skill and the aesthetic results bear that out. However, it must not be overlooked that in an age when digital cameras and high-end digital editing suites are commonplace, the production quality of a film is no longer enough to ignore its flaws. As a matter fact, with this technology being both cheap and readily available to the masses it has put an emphasis on the most basic and timeless components of movie making – a creative angle on a well-crafted story. If Midnight Chronicles had succeeded in these areas as well as it has in all other areas I’d be trying to sell you on the second coming of Peter Jackson. Instead, I’m writing about a movie that didn’t quite fulfill its potential.

2.5 out of 5



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Midnight Chronicles
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The Hidden Emperor
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2009 21:27:12

"The Hidden Emperor" Alderac Entertainment Group ($9.99 USD)

98 page pdf black-and-white with color cover. This is the last of the dual-statted d20/L5R products.

Overview: This product covers the time period from the coronation of Toturi I until the Battle of Oblivion's Gate in Rokugan. The book is broken into six chapters, each of which focuses on a different part of the period. Each chapter contains new ancestor feats, prestiege classes/paths, and adventure hooks.

Covers a very important period in the history of Rokugan, which is about 30 years before the end of the timeline in the Rokugan campaign setting book.

Likes: 1) Includes more history and details about what was going on behind the scenes in Rokugan during this turbulent period of history.

2) New feats and prestiege classes are always a good thing.

Dislikes:

1) The book is dual-statted for both d20 and L5R. You are supposed to be able to tell the difference between the two because the L5R stuff is in blue ink. Unfortunately, the book was scanned in black-and-white. The dark blue ink comes out looking exactly the same color as the rest of the text.

2) There are no bookmarks in the PDF.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Hidden Emperor
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Grimm: Core Rulebook
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/12/2009 23:46:07

Although none of the hosts have yet played it, we are all very excited to try a game. The players portray ordinary school-aged children who are whisked away to a magical world where fairy tales are true ... and twisted.

We've analyzed the game system, and we've found it simple to learn and elegant.

A more extensive review is available on our podcast, Happy Jack's RPG Podcast, Episode 14 (http://www.happyjacks.org/?p=348). Note: the podcast in general is NSFW and contains explicit content.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grimm: Core Rulebook
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Midnight Chronicles Package
by Robin U. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/26/2009 06:02:31

Firstly, I have to say that the film has very impressive production values for the budget. Not only is this a remarkably pretty film, and you can tell it's a labour of love, and since this is one of the best settings for D&D to ever come out, and definitely one that deserves updating to 4e, I'm going to feel really bad for bringing up the following:

The file format is the 'apple-only' .mov type. I had never heard of such a thing, but it meant I had to use VLC to play it. Not a roadblock to watching it, but unhelpful- doubly so since it meant I had a lot trouble streaming it to the Xbox to watch it on the TV.

This film is terrible and feels like it has nothing to do with Midnight. Sorry, but it's just a waste of time - and it's not just a poor film, but a poor Midnight film. The whole story misses what I felt were the most interesting elements of the RPG setting in favour of, ultimately, a bad monster movie. It has a painfully disjointed pace that makes the whole film drag, and beyond a few scenes which are interesting, I found myself not caring one bit what happened next. You get the impression that there's a larger story going on, but it's infuriating that your not told any of it and have to assume the reasoning behind most of the plot. The main flaw in the film, though, is the characters. While the acting is OK, the characters obediently shuffle through the obvious plot to its conclusion, making decisions almost entirely for plot purposes. Also, some characters and character abilities get conveniently forgotten to make things more dramatic.

And finally I won't spoil anything, but if every sprawling dungeon, library and bottomless-chasm-with-rickety-rope-bridge was really under that town, the whole place should have collapsed inward years ago.

On the plus side, I get an original 4e Midnight adventure and the original game in PDF, which was definitely appreciated. I haven't looked through the adventure properly, except to gasp in horror at the vardatch weapon stats, but anything new for a Midnight RPG is awesome.

tl;dr: The frustrating afternoon I spent allowing the file to be watched on the TV was wasted by the film itself. Avoid.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Midnight Chronicles Package
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Midnight Chronicles
by Bo M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2009 15:24:25

The world of Midnight is different from your 'normal' fantasy setting in one major way... the 'bad guys' control the world; 100 years ago (in their timeline) they won, good people are pretty much criminals now. Dark, gritty and all about survival it is a wonderful change of pace from the standard fare of the 'cookie cutter' Tolken-ish worlds.

For those of you that already enjoy the world of Midnight, the movie portrays it perfectly - ironically making it perfect for the television series that the movie was made from. There are no large battles (stealth is the only way 'good' can hope to survive) and very little magic (a blessing for TV people worried about special effects budgets). The movie is very story and character driven and while there are very few 'flashy' effects the quality of the production is on par with anything a major Hollywood studio would put out.

Highly Recommended



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midnight Chronicles
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Midnight Chronicles Package
by Michael T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2009 20:25:45

For $14.95 this is one hell of a good package. First and foremost, you get a feature-length movie with great production values. Second, you get the core rulebook for the Midnight campaign setting, which at 400+ pages would have been a huge value at the price by itself. You also get the movie scripts and a free adventure module set in the town in which the movie is based. Wonderfully good value.

The movie: The film is really a long pilot for what I hope will become a tv series; the SyFy channel would go great with this. If youare not familiar with midnight you get a brief rundown in the film; thousands of years ago the god of evil was cast out of heaven onto the world of Aryth, but in so doing a Veil was raised that prevented the gods from interfering with the world in any way...but also cut off the dark god Izrador and everyone else on Aryth from leaving the world in any way, including through death. Three times Izrador rose up against the people of Aryth, and the third time he won the battle. It has been 100 years of a world in Shadow.

Though the plot is really about the rise of two diametrically opposed heroes -- one for good and one for evil -- most of the movies focus goes to the evil legate Mag Kiln. And it's great that it does, but it's one of the few movies that really shows things from the bad guy's perspective. Charles Hubbell is excellent as the dark priest destined for great power. His companion Kruce is an interesting and likeable character,despite being on Team Evil. Chuzara the young legate that goes to Blackweir with Mag Kiln is OK as a character, but she makes up for it in good looks. ;)

Anyone familiar with the campaign setting with enjoy all of the references to the gaming world. Being that the movie is made by the company that created the game system maybe that's obvious but worth pointing out. I just wish we had the chance to see more of the orcs and some of the Fell in action. There isn't a lot of combat or flashy magic in use, possibly because of budget constraints, but what we do see looks good.

Midnight 2nd Edition Core Rules: Midnight has become my favorite campaign setting over the years, to the point I've made the definite SRD for it (http://darknessfalls.leaderdesslok.com). Having this massive volume in PDF at a more-than-reasonable price is fantastic. Only down side is that at over 400 pages it really should have bookmarks.

The scripts are, well, scripts. I don't usually pay much attention to such things, but if you like that sort of thing it's all there for you.

The adventure: From a marketing standpoint, it was a pretty good idea to release the adventure in D&D 4E format. This allows curious gamers who enjoy 4E an opportunity to see what playing in the Midnight world is like. From a Midnight gamer's standpoint, it's a horrible slap in the face. FFG published one campaign adventure for Midnight, Crown of Shadows, but it was made for the 1st edition of the game (3.0 rules). They never released another adventure until now, and while it's great to have another one, it's ridiculous to me that they provide a 4e module for a game written for 3.5, even going so far as to include the 3.5 campaign core rules which are useless in playing the adventure! If this is a sign that FFG is planning on re-releasing Midnight for 4E I am disappointed, as I am not a fan of the system. I would much rather see them move into Pathfinder.

However, overall the Midnight Package is still a phenomenally good value. Excellent movie and great game!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Midnight Chronicles Package
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Midnight Chronicles Package
by Brendon C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2009 21:30:23

I bought this as an impulse purchase not really sure what I'd get.

What I expected: A medium quality Indie film with decent effects and an okay story. A standalone RPG with an adventure that I would maybe look at and, if I was lucky, run an adventure in.

What I got: A movie that both looks and sounds fantastic with fun characters that brings to life a world I hadn't expected much from. A hungry thirst for a sequel that I eagerly await! An RPG much like Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved in that it is more of a spin-off of DnD 3.5 (a system that I greatly adore). I greatly recommend this bundle to fans of role-playing in a dark and gritty fantasy world.

The only thing that put me of was the 4th Edition adventure. The rule book provided is under the v3.5 rules so I feel they should have made the adventure with the same system. However, I still intend on running the story, while simply changing a few stat blocks.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midnight Chronicles Package
by Jason W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2009 14:11:21

Wow! This movie is impressive. It really captivated me, and gave me a sense of wonder about the world of Midnight. I am very impressed they did this as the production quality was stellar (although not LoTR, but com'n money was no object there). I was slightly disappointed they didn't resolve one of the characters more fully, but that only added for my hunger for a SEQUEL! Com'n Fantasy Flight! Technically, there were no issues, good video, good sound quality, played fine, could skip around the video quickly to rewatch parts. Also, for the movie (in two definitions), the Midnight core book, the script, and everything else included the value was quite high for the price. I'm quite satisfied with the purchase that I almost didn't make (I was on the fence about it).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midnight Chronicles Package
by James P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2009 10:43:06

This is not a review as much as a warning - The Heart or Erenland, the new Midnight adventure included in this package is for D&D 4e.

This was a huge surprise and disappointment to me since (1) Midnight is a D20/OGL setting and (2) there was no indication in the product description that this is a 4e product.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of War: The L5R Companion
by Nathan R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/06/2009 11:48:58

If you are looking for very detailed information on the Crab, Lion and Unicorn Clans especially as it relates to how they wage war then this book is for you. Well written with plenty of new material and the scan is good. However, you will need access to Emerald Empire to get the full use of the book and a few other books as Alderac did not reprint anything in this book that was in other books, even books that are no longer in print.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of War: The L5R Companion
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