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Bardic Lore: Ogham
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2005 00:00:00
Ogham opens with a look at this ancient writing system famous for its association with historical druids. There is an explanation of each character, their association with trees and a pronunciation guide. There are some magical items and one item creation feat that allows you to use Ogham to create Ogham markers and a metamagic feat to add curses to other spells. There are some modifications to the druid spell list to allow them to use curses and a new DC for knowledge checks related to Ogham.

There are pictures of all the Ogham symbols and a photograph of a standing stone marked with Ogham.

I like the ?tree Ogham? magic the best, providing standing stones that provide spellcasters with metamagic enhancements to their spells (but burns off charges from the stone). The great balancing feature is that standing stones are very hard to move and carry around because of their enormous weight.



LIKED: This supplement provides a good overview of Ogham and is a useful guide to inspire further research into the language. There are links at the back to further assist any such endeavors.

If you are a fan of the Slaine or medieval Europed, this is a handy addition to your campaign setting.


DISLIKED: I would have liked to have seen more for actual game play; Perhaps a new druid and new spells. I would very much have liked to have seen examples of Ogham words and expressions.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bardic Lore: Ogham
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Bardic Lore: The Villa of Mysteries
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2005 00:00:00
High Moon Production has been putting out a very nice series of Celtic themed products. So far the books have been well done and improving as the line of products goes on. With luck at some point they will greatly expand these products and really give us something of great substance. Up to now it feels like I have been getting nice little snippets and I long for the whole thing. Bardic Lore Villa of Mysteries is a PDF that really captures the place. The PDF is only twenty two pages long but it has a nice layout and it is well book marked. The book does have green page borders that can make it consume a bit of ink when printed. The art is nice and the maps of the place are really well done. The maps eat even more ink though.

The book is a nice ground work of a place and the people that live and work there., However, it just needs to go father and have some plots and day in the life stuff to bring the place alive., What is here is great. The book just needs more for me. I guess one could think of it like a blank canvas. For some they will like that the basics have been provided but the important campaign details they will be able to come up with and create specifically for what they want and what they need. Others though will feel that book just does not provide enough and not want to take the extra time and effort to find a way to use the book. It can be a tough situation for a writer as too much info some people love and some people complain about. Of course that is the same with too little like we have here.

The details in the book are really well done. There is a very nice history of the place and a good eye for detail on some interesting events and family issues in the past. The place is as much about the people as it is about the villa. The NPCs are well written up and given a lot of very good detail. They are going to be easy to use and to portray. The characters have good histories and motives clearly defined. The book really leaves me with wanting more, lots more.

The book is well written and has creativity in it. It just comes down to how much does a person need for a book to be useful. I would have liked to have seen more detail and I eagerly wait to see what the next book in this product line is. All in all it is a very positive book that has a lot of good things going for it. So whi8le the star rating is not as high as one might guess from the positives listed here, it is a good book that those who like this type of thing will really enjoy.



QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bardic Lore: The Villa of Mysteries
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Bardic Lore: The Fachan
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2005 00:00:00
The Falchan is a small PDF detailing in great detail this new creature. The PDF is only eight pages long and the file less then a half a meg in size. The book has so so art, but the lay out is pretty good. The PDF is also nicely book marked.

The Falchan is a very odd race. They have one eye, one arm out of the center of their chest and one leg. While the detail on these creatures is extensive and easy to use, the appearance seems rather silly. The book includes information on their society, how they are in combat, and some simple notes for including it in any campaign.

The book continues on to give full stats for using one of these creatures as a player character and includes a small three level paragon class for the race like seen in Arcana Unearthed. There is an NPC example of the leader of them written up. And lastly they have a great bit of info for players depending on a Bardic Lore roll.

While the detail of the creatures is well done I just have a hard time getting past their appearance. They are based on a creature from Celtic mythology and I like to see things from myth stated out, but with the options out there I think a better creature could have been done. So, if you can get past the appearance this is a very well done book.


QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bardic Lore: The Fachan
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Bardic Lore: Ogham
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2005 00:00:00
The PDF is not a big one only covering twelve pages. It is nicely laid out though and has some art in it. The book marks are well done even for a small book such as this. It only has one file of it and does have some color to the pictures so it can eat up some ink for people concerned about that especially with its green borders.

The book first gives a nice historic look at the language. It has the alphabet and what letters in our alphabet they correspond to. They have added five letters to it as well to make it more closely resemble our own and make it much easier to use. The letter s each have a name, how they are pronounced, and even the tree associated with them. The language is presented to be used as Druidic for the druids and if suggests bards might be familiar with it. I like that it brings the druid a little bit back to its Celtic routes, but thing the class should be overhauled to really fit. A new version of the core class that used Ogham and other ideas from the Celtic myth would have really strengthened this product.

The language is given some magical ability in the book. It is like Draconic is for arcane magic in that the letters themselves can hold magical ability. A product that actually makes draconic magical would be a great sequel to this book. There are a few magical standing stones that use the language depicted here. There are feat a druid can learn to be able to craft such items. The book does add a few spells to the Druids list of kno0wn spells to help with this all. There is also a metamagic feat that allows for curses to be integrated into the other spells. This addition to make the druid a bit more Celtic, but it just is not enough.

The book does a nice job of given definition to something that is bland and without purpose in the core rules. Now the druids secret language has purpose and reason for being. It serves to aid them and to off mystery and new options. That alone is enough to make me look favorably on a book. I hate to harp on the druid but I like the Celtic feel this brings to the class and just wish they would have taken it farther.



LIKED: They do a nice job with taking the language and making it relevant to the game.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bardic Lore: Ogham
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Liber Sodalitas: The Blind Path (3rd Fantasy edition)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2005 00:00:00
Liber Sodalitas: The Blind Path draws on a pseudo-Chinese cultural background to present an organization that uses extensive training to overcome the limits imposed by blindness. It is a well written and interesting background, though it will require a bit of adaption to a culture with a different set of cultural assumptions.

The organization trains those who are blind to use their other senses to compensate, an excellent idea and very well executed. The prestige class that represents this training (the Unsighted) is solid. My only concerns are that it is very much a Monk focussed class, I would have liked something a bit more open, and that you lose the abilities of the class if you regain your sight. Other then that, it is perfect for the blind champion and as a way to make a blind character playable without just having their sight restored.

A solid product, but fairly narrow in application. If the idea of Blind Masters has a place in your campaign world, check this product out.


LIKED: Gives a way to make blind character playable, good background material.

DISLIKED: May require some adaption to your campaign setting to be usable.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Liber Sodalitas: The Blind Path (3rd Fantasy edition)
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MonkeyGod Presents: Frost & Fur
by Richard H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/18/2005 00:00:00
A nice product overall. I am running a campaign where the party is going to be in some colder lands for quite a while and I think that this book will be very valuable for that.

LIKED: The different weather conditions and effects are invaluable to any cold land based adventure.

DISLIKED: The equipment section was relatively weak. Although quite a few weapons, armors, and modes of transportation were discussed, it almost completely lacked any entries on basic survival equipment in this element--which was something I was really hoping for. There were only two new items introduced--the sun visor and solarsteinn. Very dissapointing.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: Frost & Fur
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Liber Sodalitas: Scions of the Holy Triad
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2005 00:00:00
Liber Sodalitas: Scions of the Holy Triad looks at the emergence of a new religious sect, the Holy Triad, which seeks to reunite three gods (prophecy, protection and war) to their ancient harmony. This places them at odds with established religions and provides a wealth of conflicts (and thus adventure ideas).

In this 18-page document, just over four pages are devoted to the history and evolution of the sect, giving a fairly complete background and understanding of how the sect came to be. The tenants of the religion could have been fleshed out more but that would have made the Scions less adaptable to individual campaign settings. Even with that limitation in mind, a holy day or festival could have been detailed to expand on the faith. The Scions have their own community and the governance and organization of the community and the sect, which are intertwined, are presented. Four named NPCs, the leaders of the Scions, are detailed for role-playing purposes (no stat blocks are provided) and generic Triad Scion Knight is fully statted out.

A new Prestige Class, the Triad Scion, is presented. The Triad Scions are trained in fighting in units of three, each one exemplifying one of the aspects of the Holy Triad by use of the new Triad Combat feat. The Triad Scions are the holy warriors of the order, gaining abilities that are gifts from the Holy Triad. The Triad Scion has a good balance of fighting capability, special abilities and minor spell casting. They are also specialists in the Triskele, a new three-bladed exotic weapon that can ?boomerang? back to its thrower. I think the Triskele is rather silly but it is thematic. Three new Clerical domains (Divination, Fate and Holy) are introduced, the Divination and Fate Domains both have strong granted abilities but neither are likely to be game breaking. Lastly, the two new spells look useful and balanced.

It is good to see a supplement that takes the role of religion in a campaign seriously. If a DM is looking for a way to bring religious conflict into a campaign, this may just be what you are looking for. Some suggestions on how to use the Holy Triad earlier in its development would have given this product even more flexibility and allowed for its easier use in a wider variety of campaigns.

LIKED: It treat religion seriously.

DISLIKED: Very minor balance concerns.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Liber Sodalitas: Scions of the Holy Triad
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MonkeyGod Presents: Frost & Fur
by I. P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/10/2005 00:00:00
The ?Frost and Fur? PDF file (244 pages total) contains both the actual book and errata (3 pages). The actual text contains a notation where there is errata and refers to the page that the errata is located. Given this product has been around a while, it does not seem unreasonable that the text itself would be corrected in the PDF, rather than having a simple notation adding or correcting an error. Separate errata are an artifact of paper publishing. Electronic publishing allows more. In addition, the PDF bookmarks has at least one minor inconsistency with the actual text. For example, some of the bookmarks within the ?Environmental Hazards? chapter are listed out of order. Finally, with this download a second PDF is included that contains a six page web enhancement.

?Frost and Fur? itself provides rules on surviving in cold climates, discusses the cultures that have historically done the surviving, and points out lots of things, both great and small, that a campaign set in this environment must consider.

To provide some guidance on the content I will divide my comments by chapter.

Cold Terrains
This chapter contains eight sections, each focused on a different terrain. For each of these terrains, in addition to the descriptive text, they provide a table for encounters with varying entries for day and night. The descriptive text for each terrain includes a portion dedicated to the variety of creatures likely to be present and to the types of resources likely to be found there.

Environmental Hazards
There are four different sections to this chapter; ?Arctic Climate?, ?Dangers?, ?Terrain Features?, and ?Natural Disasters?. The first section, ?Arctic Climate?, contains fourteen different hazards. I will provide a closer look at this section to provide you with an idea of what the remainder of the text includes. Some of the hazards include the wind, temperature, fog, sleet, and daylight. For example, you can find a table establishing the number of hours of daylight in any month at any particular latitude or a table providing guidelines for starting a fire in ten arctic or subarctic terrains. Among the topics of discussion in the ?Dangers? section are dehydration, frostbite, starvation, and sunburn. Crevasse, glaciers, icebergs, and serac (towers of ice) can all be found, among others, within the ?Terrain Features? discussion. The ?Natural Disasters? section includes discussions of events such as avalanches, icefalls, and lahars (which are mudflows created from volcanic eruptions in cold weather regions).

Races
This chapter discusses each core race in its own section. (Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Half-Elves, Halflings, Half-Orcs, and Humans.) Each core race has suggested racial modifications for the cold climates. Then subraces of each core race, based on different cold weather cultures, are described. (Such as Slavic, Nordic, Eskimo, and Ice Age.) These variant races provide an interesting opportunity to customize a campaign world.

Classes
This chapter suggests a variety of concepts to allow both adventurer and NPC classes to be altered due to cold weather climates. Again, each class is associated with one of the previously mentioned cold terrain cultures. There are eighteen classes discussed here. Remember that this chapter does not contain new classes, nor does it address prestige classes. Instead it discusses which adventurer and NPC classes are appropriate to specific cold weather cultures and how they are modified due to the influence of each of those cultures. This is great for the dungeon master hoping to build the ?feel? of a campaign.

Equipment
This chapter covers everything you expect to see in a chapter concerning equipment. New items suited to the cold climates that are the focus of this book comprise this chapter. The trade system for each cold climate culture are discussed briefly. The chapter then describes miscellaneous items, shelters, transportation, weapons (including a weapon table), and armors (including an armor table).

Skills & Feats
New skills are described in this chapter along with the impact of the cold weather climate and cultures presented throughout the book on the core skills. The chapter then presents seventy eight new feats that are appropriate for cold weather. That?s right...78 new feats. Take a deep breath.

Magic
The chapter begins by describing how cold weather impacts on the abjuration, conjuration, evocation, illusion, necromancy, and transmutation schools of magic. Then, the author sets out a new ?Ice? domain. Nineteen altered spell effects, due to the cold, are then discussed in the following section of this chapter. The chapter concludes with a long list of new spells appropriate to the cold climate cultures discussed throughout this book.

Monsters
This chapter provides exactly what it promises, hordes of frigid and icy creatures. Plenty of winter wonderland woe.

Magic Items
The descriptions of magic items in this chapter are broken down into Nordic, Eskimo, Slavic, and Ice Age categories so as to assist the dungeon master looking to import a particular flavor into their campaign.

Norse Culture
The first culture described in whole is the Norse. The Norse entry is divided into the following sections: Classes (3), Prestige Classes (6), Weapons and Armor, Monsters, Nordic Spells, Runecasting, Herbs, Pantheon, and Campaign Hooks.

Eskimo Culture
The Eskimo entry is divided into the following sections: Classes (1), Prestige Classes (3), Weapons and Armor, Monsters, Eskimo Spells, Pantheon, and Campaign Hooks.

Slavic Culture
The Slavic chapter is divided into: Races (3), Classes (3), Prestige Classes (5), Weapons and Armor, Monsters, Slavic Spells, Pantheon, and Campaign Hooks.

Ice Age Culture
Finally, the Ice Age chapter is divided into: Prestige Classes (3), Weapons and Armor, Monsters, Ice Age Spells, Pantheon, and Campaign Hooks.

The final four chapters are the gem of ?Frost and Fur?. The dungeon master can use these to guide the creation of a new campaign setting. The earlier chapters all support these campaign settings by identifying which cold climate cultures are relevant to each particular detail. In keeping with that line of thinking, the web enhancement is a listing of all the relevant game material from ?Frost and Fur? listed by culture.

If you are interested in creating a cold weather campaign, ?Frost and Fur? is a must have resource.

To rousing gaming and ample rewards,
I. Perez

LIKED:
1. Contains a web enhancement that perfectly fits the concept of the book.
2. Great idea that expands an underused campaign concept.
3. Provides a solid historical basis for the dungeon master interested in creating a rich and authentic wintery campaign setting.
4. Substantial content.


DISLIKED:
1. Separate errata.
2. Formatting of the Table of Contents.


QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: Frost & Fur
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review. As far as the errata is concerned, it wasn't included in the actual text because of the lack of the original layout files. While it is easy to fix a few words here and there with Acrobat, whole paragraphs of text are beyond the scope of the editing tools. Should we ever get a hold of the layout files, rest assured we will fix and update the e-book. Glad you enjoyed it.
MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/10/2005 00:00:00
There are pictures of every weapon and armor, every single one. The stone age alone includes 70 pieces of equipment. Each pictures contains two or more weapons/armor. There is a key below indicating which is which. My only frustration is that the weapon table does not contain the key so it can take a few seconds to find the associated weapon.

Something I REALLY like is that, finally, someone put the hardness and hit points on their weapons! It takes minutes of flipping through the DMG to find the hardness/hit points tables and basically from there you must guess how many hit points a given weapon has based on their examples. Damage and repair can be an important part of the game but it is often overlooked.

Weapons are organized into historical ages; Sticks and Stones, Chariots of Bronze, Iron and Empire, Rome, the Far East and so forth. This can make it harder to find a particular weapon but the index contains a complete list of every weapon and there is also a table of contents at the beginning of each age listing the weapons from that age. It is a novel way of organizing a book but it makes it very clear without overwhelming the reader with page after page of weapons.

The stone age includes rules for amputation and infection. It was a harsh time. Going through the rest of the book there are a number of new rules for different weapons, barbed weapons, spikes, weapon breaking and so forth. Obsidian, used in the DarkSun setting, uses different rules which I like. Obsidian does more damage. The stuff is very sharp! However, it tends to break.

A good amount of space is dedicated to chariots. These look like a lot of fun. There are a variety of animals listed that can be used to pull them. Later there are animals, with stats listed, that were used in Rome.

Each age contains some information about famous warriors from that age, such as Alexander, Hannibal, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace ? which even includes a note on the use of wode, the blue body paint used by the Celtic warriors.

There is, of course, the infamous Roman gladiator detailed as a prestige class with period armor and weapons to use.

I wanted to skip right to the oriental section and when I reached it, it did not disappoint. There are some beautiful pictures of katars, punching daggers. Well versed in a long variety of weapons, there are a number of oriental weapons I have not seen before. Many look strikingly similar to the Star Trek Batleth and are, no doubt, the inspiration for the weapon. The Chinese rocket should appear in more martial arts movies as an excuse for explosions. The is a Mongol Horseman prestige class.

There is a picture of Raiden with holding Kabaal?s hooked swords but everyone knows that Raiden uses a staff. That is a Mortal Kombat joke. It is a good picture and depicts the Guang Ho Adventurer prestige class which uses meditation to gain combat bonuses and training to gain extra skills.

Finally Japan, the Ninja, the Samurai and the Katana, a weapon favored by far too many role players for its famous history and high damage. This book does much to offer alternatives to this weapon but it does not ignore or lessen the katana. I appreciate the fact the Samurai is depicted wielding a spear instead of his swords because it points out the fact that the Samurai did use other weapons.

The barding for the Elephant lists spell failure as N/A and, as a big fan of awakened animals I?m almost tempted to complain. But in over a decade of play, no elephant has ever made it to my gaming table so I?ll reserve judgment.

The dark ages are called the golden ages and I suspect that is because of many inventions that were used on battlefields all across Europe during this age. The more I look at this book the more I like it. There are sections on a woman?s place in war during this age, flaming clothing, tournaments, Chivalry and so forth. A lot of research has clearly gone into this book.

After the dark ages is a section on firearms and then we delve into magic with pages of new weapon abilities and then new magical weapons. Famous weapons such as Mjolnir (Thor?s hammer), Poseidon?s trident, the Nemean Lion Skin worn by Hercules, Odysseus?s Bow and finally, the king of legendary weapons Excalibur. There are even some new spells which affect weapons.

The following section deals with new materials, crafting weapons, maintenance and repair, optional rules. The book ends with an appendix of terms, a bibliography, a reprinting of the weapon tables in order and finally an exhaustive Index.

Catalogue: A catalogue is included as a separate file. I have not seen another product which includes a catalogue and I think it is a good idea. There are so many products on RPGnow that anything that gives me better access to the list of products available is welcome. Also, as a PDF, the catalogue hardly takes up much more space and as a separate file, I don?t need to print it.


LIKED: The book has a lot of history behind a lot of weapons. Anyone can write up stats but in this product they have taken the time to research the background of many weapons. Now as for the stats, there are a lot of stats. There are hundreds of weapons in this book. If you can not find something pointy that is to your taste in here, you may have to turn to made-up weapons. The art is solid and clearly depicts every piece of armor and each weapon. There are a number of good rules for weapons, new prestige classes and new magical weapon abilities.

DISLIKED: There are no random tables for finding weapons and armor or their magical counterparts. I very much would have liked to have seen period tables that could substitute the weapon type and armor type tables in the Dungeon Master?s Guide when determining magical arms and armor. It?s a minor failing though and one that can be fixed easily enough just by rolling a d20 or d30 against the any period?s index of weapons.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
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MonkeyGod Presents: The Last Initiate
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2005 00:00:00
This site-based adventure presents a more than usually sensible excuse to have an abandoned temple (chock) full of dangerous traps and deadly creatures in the middle of a dangerous wilderness. The cover gives fair warning that there's a strong steampunk influence to consider depending on your taste.

LIKED: It's well written with some wit and surprises.

DISLIKED: The new creatures called 'restless dead' seem unnecessary and bland. They could have been described by existing creature types. Generally I don't like the use of undead here as merely people who have the eccentricity of not breathing any more - they lack menace.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: The Last Initiate
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MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
by I. P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/02/2005 00:00:00
The aim of this giant resource (352 pages in PDF file, with the last page being the Open Gaming License) is to help dungeon masters make their games more realistic or provide fodder for interesting cultural accents that can be applied to a campaign world. The entire content of the book is focused on the wide variety of weapons, armor, and shields available at one time in different cultures; and on their development over the course of history. If you identify the culture and period of time that your campaign is set in, this product will help you along to imagine what weapons to use, what materials it might be made out of, and a potential prestige class or two. Even if you have never considered bringing this level of depth to your campaigns, you may find that this tour through history interests you none the less.

To provide some guidance on the content I will divide my comments by chapter. The discussion of the earlier chapters will contain slightly more detail so that you can get a feel for the flavor of the text before reviewing the mostly shorter summaries that follow.

Sticks and Stones
Appropriately, ?Stone to Steel? begins with sticks and stones, the most basic of weaponry. (Remember, they can ?break my bones? even if the words, spoken by a non spellcaster, do no damage!) It covers what one might call technology, resources, and strategies for this initial period of time. For some reason, this chapter also includes general information about war and infection. The text tries to tie it to a discussion of the possibility of large scale conflict during this time period, but it still seems out of place in this chapter. Specific advancements that were particular to six different cultural entities (one if which is an ad hoc ?other? group) are then discussed. Mixed into the descriptions of weapons can be found two prestige classes based on Aztec culture. Both of them are melee focused, though one is more stealthy. Finally, this chapter ends by identifying some of the developments that led to the advancement of human society, such as particular materials, strategic tactics, and the first stage of using metals. This final section leads inevitably to the discussion in the second chapter.

Before moving to the next chapter a (nearly completely two page) table can be found listing the ?stone age? weapons discussed earlier in the chapter. This is immediately followed by a similar table for the ?stone age? armor. These tables appear following each chapter except the final two chapters.

Chariots of Bronze
As befits a chapter with chariots in the title, this chapter begins with the domestication of animals and the ride skill. That discussion is followed by a section on copper and bronze. Five different regional discussions and one discussion of chariots rounds out this chapter. The chariot discussion provides interesting mechanics for everything from the impact of chariot riders on the speed of the chariot to crashes. In addition, there is a charioteer prestige class and six new charioteer based feats.

Iron and Empire
There is a minor error in the table of contents for this third chapter (the iron heading appears twice). The chapter begins with a discussion of iron, followed by steel. The advances and quirks, of course including arms, of six different cultures are then described and discussed in the remainder of the chapter. These advances include an upgrade of chariots, which establishes that the author took that extra step to provide a complete product.

Rome
This chapter begins with the Roman monarch and follows the development of the Roman Empire. The Roman legionnaire is presented as a prestige class and a new knowledge skill subset concerning the construction of military defensive and offensive devices. A prestige class is described based on German cavalry. The chapter also includes a discussion of gladiators, including presenting them as a prestige class, and the variety of animals involved in gladitorial contests.

The Far East
This chapter contains a discussion of seven different cultures and contains a section discussing other important cultural contributors. There are an additional six sections of this chapter that explore in depth particular periods of time and provides information that helps a dungeon master bring those periods of time alive in a far eastern campaign. (Such as the Wudan Movement of China.) In addition, interesting combat options are discussed; such as a new combat maneuver called ?Sword Breaking?, the use of tassels on weapons, and a new feat called ?Improvised Weapon Training?. A prestige class based on horsemanship is presented which focuses on melee combat from horseback. This class looks very exciting to play and quite powerful in an appropriate campaign. An adventurer cult/gang prestige class is also presented which focuses on a steady progression in weapon proficiency/focus/specialization (with options for the player). In addition, you will find six new martial techniques available to class members. The discussion of Japan contains a ninja prestige class which uses a similar mechanic to the adventurer class that allows the player to make some choices during advancement. In addition, there are 11 ninja abilities to choose from. Of course, having discussed Japan, there was no choice but to present a samurai based prestige class, which also allows for player choices during character advancement. Finally, it should not go unnoted that the weapons and armor tables at the end of this chapter require a full eight pages.

A Dark Age, A Golden Age
This chapter contains sections on both Christianity, Islam (two sections), and the Crusades. In addition, there is a discussion on the ?barbarian? European factions after the fall of Rome, the British Isles and Arthur, and the Vikings. A short discussion of sieges is included which is just enough to get you thinking about the uses of a siege without getting sidetracked from the main point of individual weapons, armor, and tactics that ?Stone to Steel? focused on so well. An interesting new mechanic for the use of flails is presented in this chapter. It complicates combat with a flail and makes them more difficult to use, but also allows the dedicated combatant to overcome these penalties by additional training as reflected in the selection of weapon proficiency feats.

Pagentry, Platemail, and Pistols
The six sections of this chapter cover a wide range of considerations in combat and uses 14th - 17th century England and Europe as the focus. Interesting discussions of vassalage, serfdom, and peasantry can all be found in this chapter to help dungeon masters bring these economic systems to life in their campaigns. An optional variant rule concerning the benefits of different styles of helmets/helms is presented among the discussion of the developments in armor during this period of time. An NPC class for commoners proficient with archery is presented and discussed. A variety of firearms are presented and there are four new relevant feats. The chapter includes an Ottoman Empire based warrior prestige class. This class contains a mechanic for using tactic ?points? available to be used during combat for particular outcomes. A prestige class for those warriors that want to focus on one on one combat is available in this chapter, and includes seven new feats. In addition, a new ?Fencing? skill is presented. The weapons and armor tables that follow this chapter require seven pages.

Myth and Magic
This chapter provides new magical weapon and armor special abilities. It then, listed by region, includes information on a number of mythical magical items (except for one item that is listed independently rather than by region). The chapter begins with a section on ?divine? items and eight new special divine properties that any divine item may have. Unfortunately, this section contains a dreaded, ?refer to Size Chart on page ???? reference. Following the divine properties, comes a section devoted to identifying the fifteen new magical item abilities for either weapons or armor. The list of magical items are derived from the following regions; America (5 items), Australia (2 items), Sub-Sahara Africa (2 items), Egypt (6 items), Asia (6 items), India (4 items), Japan (1 items), Mesopotamia (2 related items), Tuetonic/Nordic-Europe (6 items), Celtic-Europe (4 items), Rome (2 items), Greece (14 items), and Medieval (3 items). Next, the chapter contains a list of historical racial items for elves, dwarves, and briefly discusses a variety of ?other? races. Finally, the chapter provides descriptions for seven new spells.

Materials
This chapter begins with a general discussion of a variety of mechanics that are impacted by an understanding of the materials used in item creation; such as item damage, deterioration, and calculation of the break DC of an item. The chapter then proceeds to a section which describes the properties an item receives based on what material it has been crafted out of. The section specifically discusses thirteen materials; including among others four different metals, dragon parts, and ice. The next section discusses the maintenance and repair of items. Finally, the chapter ends with a discussion of how to generate stats for an item, and provides tables for weight, hit points, and hardness.

Appendix
The appendix discusses weapon size and damage, suggests optional mechanics for providing a more realistic combat experience, and contains a glossary of terms and bibliography. The optional mechanics range from a damage resistance armor system to an alternate fatigue system. The appendix close with a weapon and armor listing of the traditional d20 weapons and armors.

Master Tables
The thirteen ?Master Tables? that follow the appendix collect all of the new material presented in this book. Each of the thirteen tables corresponds to a category of weapon or armor. For example, a table for ?simple melee weapons?, another for ?exotic weapons - ranged?, and another for ?shields and accessories?.


All in all this is an excellent product. It is thorough and well presented. It provides information on an area that few are inclined to independently research. Of course, after using this as a primer you may find yourself using the bibliography to do additional reading. At the very least, you may wonder why did you not enjoy history more in college or high school! No matter what, you will likely find it influencing your campaign elements in ways small and large.

To rousing gaming and ample rewards,
I. Perez

LIKED:
1. Plenty of content.
2. Organized.
3. Variety in cultural elements used which enhances usefulness to greater number of campaigns.
4. Stays focused on its purpose.
5. Attacks the sterility of generic campaign settings.

DISLIKED:
1. While this is far from a serious problem, I would have loved some additional classes (prestige or otherwise) that were based in some of the time periods and cultures.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
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MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/28/2005 00:00:00
From Stone to Steel is a history lesson and gaming resource book in one, which makes it perfect for a historian-gamer like me. This book details the evolution of muscle powered weapons from stone knives to early firearms and provides D20 statistics as well (3rd edition). In addition to the history, every weapon and type of armor is illustrated. Expanded rules on damage and wear to weapons and armor is present along with information of how various materials effect durability. Beyond basic weapons and armor, it also presents 12 historically based prestige classes, additional feats (mostly involving weapon use) and magic items.

One of the things that makes this book exceptional is that it does not restrict itself to Europe, with sections on Meso-America, Africa, Asia and Polynesia and Australia, as well as the more familiar Classical World and Middle East.

While not for everyone, military history buffs and those who like to add details to their game worlds will benefit from this book. It is a bit expensive by you do get your money?s worth with well over 300 pages worth of material.

LIKED: See above.

DISLIKED: Some of the prestige classes and feats need minor adjustments (especially to align them with the 3.5 rules) but that is a small problem.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: Frost & Fur
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2005 00:00:00
Tons of material, but none of it is very well thought out. A few ideas that were really fleshed out would have been nice. Some of the art was excellent, but much of it was poor.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: Frost & Fur
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Publisher Reply:
Would you care to expound further on any of your comments? These don't really say much.
MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
by Allen H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2005 00:00:00
This is probably the best weapon/armor supplement I have seen outside of numerous historical books(which are useless as far as the game goes). Pictures of the majority of gear is included as well as descriptions of the gear and why and how it was changed.

The best feature, IMO is that the gear was broken down into historical periods, from stone age to Renassaince era, as well as a "fantastic/heroic" type period. This book is GREAT. There are so many weapons and armor types. I just printed up the master tables for reference use and it totalled 24 pages, of standard type, single space print.

LIKED: Everything, now if they could do a book on equipment throughout the ages...

DISLIKED: Nothing, this book is excellent

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
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Bardic Lore: The Fachan
by Steven T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2005 00:00:00
One of the joys of DMing is seeing the looks on the players? faces when you manage to surprise them. My personal favorite is when I surprise them with some new and bizarre creature they have never heard of. And when it comes to bizarre creatures, they don?t get much more bizarre than the one seen in Highmoon Media?s Bardic Lore: The Fachan.

HMP?s Bardic Lore line is a series of PDF?s dedicated to translating ancient Celtic myth and legend into d20 statistics. The Fachan detailed in this file is a legendary creature of terror that originates in the Highlands of Scotland. I was quite excited to review this product, since I am of Scottish and Irish descent. Legends say that these freakish monsters were said to have only one of all their body parts ? one eye, one leg, one arm, etc. The opening illustration for The Fachan certainly adequately depicts such a creature. Artist Kelso Kaiser?s two Fachan illustrations in this file (the only two illustrations in this file, aside from a Celtic knot work-style border at the bottom of the pages) remind me favorably of the style seen in White Wolf?s Changeling: The Dreaming game, which is good for an illustration trying to capture that same feel of Celtic myth.

The opening text surrounding this initial illustration is a short fiction piece describing a horrific encounter between an angry Fachan and the narrator, one Amergin O?Mil. The story itself is well written and gives an idea of the role this monster takes in the game, but the font it was laid out in is hard to read. This might just be a personal preference, but if the fiction must be in a different font, it really needs to be just as legible as the main body text. That said, while it takes a little longer to work through, this is only a minor problem.

Full d20 stats are given for this new monster, and are laid out in a fairly standard format similar to that seen in the MM. Personally, since legends usually connects the Fachan to their giant relative the Formorian, I?d have liked to seen the Fachan as a Giant. Again, this in no way reduces the playability of the monster as written. It?s just my personal preference based on my interpretation of Scottish myth. And mechanically, the Fachan works just as well as a Monsrous Humanoid.

One particularly nice touch the author includes in the monster?s Special Qualities is a specific mechanic for the creatures Horrid Appearance. Old Scottish tales often detail how a man could die of fright by simply looking at a Fachan. Horrid Appearance allows a Fachan to treat a Charisma penalty as a bonus for the purposes of Intimidation checks. Add in a racial bonus to Intimidate, and you?ve got a scary looking monster, that can use its awful appearance as an advantage. This is a nice design. A brief section on Fachan society and a guide to using them in your campaign rounds out the monster stats.

Guidelines are also included for those brave souls that might like to play a freakish beast as a PC. The Fachan has a Level Adjustment of +1, putting it in the same league as the Bugbear, Hobgoblin, Aasimar and Tiefling. There?s even a three level Racial Paragon class similar to those seen in Unearthed Arcana. A Fachan Paragon can become even more frightening, improve his armor and Strength, and ultimately even grow to large size. This is another reason I feel the Fachan would have been better served by being statted out as a Giant, rather than a Monstrous Humanoid. A sample NPC Fachan named Gwrgenau is also included. Perez wisely chose to have Gwrgenau make use of the new Fachan Racial Paragon class. This is a feature that should be used by more products. By have the new monster use the new class, we see how the author intended both to work together. Gwrgenau?s personality is sparse, but well done. I particularly liked the fact that a leveling scheme is included for Gwrgenau. Not everyone can use a CR 12 monster in their campaigns. By including a leveling scheme, Perez has added a lot of playability to this monster, without requiring too much work on the DM?s part.

As a big Bard fan, I was also quite pleased to see a table including DC?s for Bardic Knowledge checks regarding the Fachan. As I said in the introduction one of the best parts of DMing is seeing the surprise on the faces of the players when they encounter a new monster. Another great feeling is seeing the look of triumph on their faces when the use a rarely utilized ability to gain knowledge about this unfamiliar encounter. This is a feature that would have been a real asset to the MM! Bards are a core class that is difficult for many DM?s to handle. Including Bardic Knowledge checks for new monsters makes a DM?s job easier, and I?m all in favor of that.

Bardic Lore: The Fachan is a solid hit. If you?re running a Celtic themed campaign, this critter is sure to puzzle your PC?s. While mechanically the Fachan is merely playable, the extra effort put into the presentation, even in such a small PDF is quite impressive. You?ll get a lot of mileage out of the Fachan.


LIKED: This product really captures the feel of Celtic myth. The Fachan is not a creature most players are likely to have encountered in other games, so if you're looking for a surprise. This will work really well. The new mechanics for the Facahn's frightening appearance is very flavorful and well done.

DISLIKED: While I would have preferred to see the Fachan statted up as a Giant, hat's just a design preference, and there is nothing mechanically wrong with the creature as presented.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bardic Lore: The Fachan
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