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Kressmer's Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Enchantments
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2012 09:52:54
Seven enchantment spells to use in your 3.x/OGL/Pathfinder games. Nothing here that will break your game and the price can't be beat. Good spells. Frankly I liked Power Word Laugh and Haunting Melody.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kressmer's Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Enchantments
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Kressmer's Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Illusions
by David K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2010 13:03:22
Kressmer's Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Illusions offered a great new look to deception magic. More than simple ethereal monsters or geographic modifiers for disbelief, the Seven Illusions magnified the role of an illusionist. This four page file condenses seven spells onto two pages (the other two pages include a cover with quarter-page art, and a final page of legal information). The illusion spells offer a wide range of utility, and target uncommon things like money and language and spell-caster familiars. Even one of these additional spells helps the illusionist fill a special role in any party. Surely, there are two combat related spells rife with trickery and imagination. Personally, I liked the inclusion of the “Shadow Puppet” for an immediate feel of this publication. Designed for 3rd Ed. D&D, the utility for illusionary magic also fits with typical Sword & Sorcery magicians. For example, these spells could certainly be easily modified to Barbarians of Lemuria or Broadsword RPGs. The spell casting complexity ranges for moderate power levels with good humor; these spells should not unbalance any game. For the price (free), consider adding Kressmer's Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Illusions to your shopping cart before it disappears!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kressmer's Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Illusions
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Book of Templates
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2009 16:44:44
This book contains around thirty templates for use in d20 fantasy games. Templates are applied to monsters in order to give them particular abilities, or boost or lower them in power.

Some of the templates seem awfully specific, as if targeted directly at someone's home campaign and not much use outside. Others are off in their calculation of how much the template affects the Challenge Rating of the monster. However, there are many that are very creative and some that are downright fun. Mixing and matching templates and monsters will give a GM lots of cool things to do when preparing and running monsters.

There are no particular special features for the PDF, but the length is such that this is not an issue.

A solid outing and the price is right.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Templates
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Book of Templates
by Davin P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/16/2008 19:27:39
All of the templates are interesting and inovative. The biggest flaw is that the CR adjustment on some of them are miscalculated.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Five Free Races
by Nadine S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/22/2008 10:21:58
These races are nicely presented and well designed. Any one of them would make a nice additional to a campaign setting to add a bit of exotic flavor to a strange locale. Some might require slight tweaking before allowing as playable races, but none of them are overly powerful that it would be too much of an issue to use as is. The writer did a nice job of providing useful background information for each race that can help give GMs a better idea of how to use them.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Five Free Races
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Twisted Menagerie
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2008 22:34:33
Twisted Menagerie
Old school variety and style. If you like monsters, you'll like this book.

Silverthorn Games is well known for its template books. Like a chemistry set of strangeness, they have offered DMs a way to twist and modify standard monsters into something new and, more importantly, unexpected. But what if you don't want to mix the monsters yourself? What if you're sitting down to design or modify an adventure and you just want something imaginative, already written out?
This is the focus of Twisted Menagerie. Monsters with full stats that you can drop into your games. The authors have allowed themselves a little time to apply their templates and show off the results. It means less work for the busy DM who wants something for right now.
I like many of these monsters. They will find a way to my table – but more of that later.

Twisted Menagerie is 71 pages long with enough meat to get lost for a while. It has a fun, chaotic mix of offerings. I counted 36 'Monsters', including 11 unique creatures and 21 examples with level adjustments. A few of the 21 LA critters would be interesting PC races while others would be good NPCs. There is also a gang of 5 monstrous humanoids. For each entry there is line art, a short background followed by a statblock.
The graphics are black and white. They are reminiscent of the old school monster manuals although I think the artwork here is better. The bookmarks throughout the work are decent. The index at the back, by challenge rating, is very helpful.
I liked the monsters - this is a nice eclectic grab bag. Twenty-seven of the challenge ratings are between ½ and 7 and nine are 8 or above. If you're tired of Orcs and Goblins this book is a good choice. The selection hits a useful sweet spot for populating adventures. I think the monsters themselves stick out against other offerings for being a little different and interesting. Some books have done very well with situation or race centered categories – I feel that Twisted Menagerie is more flexible because the choices are so chaotic.
I especially like the monstrous races: The Gnasher (Gnome\Badger), The Gray Nymph (Elf\Nymph), The Pseudokin (Spellcaster\Pseudo Dragon), The Spheth (Fey Touched Lizardfolk), The Stone Children (Gargoyle\Humans), and the Valco (Human\Goats). These alone makes this PDF a welcome addition to my library. The Stone Children and the Pseudokin are arcane creations but I think they are suitably balanced to become a regular irregularity in my game world.

If I have a criticism of this work it is in a sense an unfair one - other monster books have set the bar so high for monster publications. Colour art, expanded backgrounds, longer entries and sheer numbers of offered monsters are widely available amongst the competition. But quantity is not quality. Reading this book suggested multiple plots and fun adventures – that is the measure of a publication.

If there was a way to give a 4.75 that would be my rating for this book. As there is not I have to give it a 4.

All in all, this is a really solid publication. Much more useful to me as a DM than many of the tiny 5 page or less pdfs out there. I wish there were more like it. I'll go back to this collection for some of the player races. The unique monsters will make for interesting encounters. You'll be happy to have some of these critters up your sleeve. Even the most jaded players wont expect these :).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Twisted Menagerie
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Twisted Menagerie
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/04/2008 11:31:09
Silverthorne Games, the company known for its variety of interesting and bizarre templates, has returned after a long absence with their latest product, Twisted Menagerie. But how well does this new product hold up compared to their previous works, particularly their magnum opus, The Book of Templates? Funny you should ask…

Twisted Menagerie is a book of monsters. It contains a grand total of forty-two monsters, with several being specific individuals. I hesitate to call them “new” monsters, however, because all of these creatures have one or more templates from The Book of Templates: Deluxe Edition 3.5. In essence, Twisted Menagerie is something of a companion piece to that book, though make no mistake, all of the monsters here work just fine if you don’t have the BoT – that said, there is a single brand new template here (“Servant of Olamet”), along with several new magic items, some new non-magic items, a few new deities, and some spells reprinted from the BoT:DE 3.5. Note that each creature also has, in their description, a listing for what the base creature is, along with (in several cases) full PC race information.

The zipped file that I received contained only a single PDF of the full version of the file. Presumably this has since been corrected and a printer-friendly version has also been added, but I can’t say for certain. The full version of the file is seventy-one pages long. It has full bookmarks as well as a table of contents. The art in the full version is quite plentiful. All of the pages are grey, with the edges being a darker color than the center; while I wouldn’t say the color scheme made the text any harder to read, it did seem to present a sort of muted tone when browsing the book. Almost every monster has a black and white illustration, nicely showing what they look like.

The book keeps a fairly orderly layout, with every monster occupying either one or two full pages. Each entry begins with some descriptive text, and moves right on to the creature’s special abilities. Their full stat block is listed at the bottom of the page, and the picture is off to the side. Listed by the picture is the name of the monster, and in parenthesis what the base creature and template is. This is a fairly compact system, and works well enough, but it leads me to my major complaint about the book: the text resolution is too small. While never truly hard to read, the text is just small enough that I found it to be slightly uncomfortable, and in a few cases confusing – the letter “e” and “c” were largely indistinguishable at that size, for example. It won’t be anything that ruins the book for anyone, but it’s slightly irking.

Twisted Menagerie is a very nice book, and a good return for Silverthorne Games, but while I liked it, it doesn’t quite live up to the book that it’s working from. Even with the scattering of new crunch, a book of existing monsters with templates applied doesn’t quite raise the same level of excitement as a book of new monsters/templates does. This book tries hard to compensate for that by giving us flavor text to try and integrate these as new, complete monsters, along with racial information for some of these as PC races, but it doesn’t quite pull it off. Add in the problems with the text size, and while I’d still say this book is a gem, it’s a flawed one. Nevertheless, it’s worth its cost, and if you want a book to nicely showcase what you can get from the Deluxe Edition of the Book of Templates, look no further than Twisted Menagerie.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Twisted Menagerie
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/25/2008 13:58:35
Oh, Silverthrone, you had me at hello.

When I read the first book of templates you published, I thought it was pretty darn creative. When I read the deluxe version, which I still find myself pulling things from (I can’t say that about a lot of books), I was impressed by the level of thought and effort put into them.

It did not take much for me to want to get my hands on Twisted Menagerie. Whereas the Deluxe Book of Templates was like the Director’s Cut of Planet Terror, Twisted Menagerie is akin to a series of top notch extras that did not make it into he DVD. If you have the Deluxe Book of Templates, there is nothing in Twisted Menagerie that you can not create your self. All you need is a little creativity and the twisted psyche to combine certain templates that only a demented person would have thought of.

Seriously… A half gnome dire badger. Hive minded Kobolds. A demon undead dog the size of a city block.

If you had doubts about taking a purchase break until 4e arrives, this monster manual has enough twisted badies to make you rethink converting your campaign all together. This is 71 pages of proof that there is a decade’s more life in 3.5.

There are 38 creatures in the book. As with previous material from the publisher, you will not find too significant a balance issue with any of the creatures. What you will find is some really “different” things to throw at your PCs. The entries are formatted a tad differently than normal monster manuals that begin with the statbock. Instead you get the abilities and write up of the creature and on rectangle notepad at the bottom you receive the statblock. The bookmarking is precise, though the page numbering is slightly off. Everything looks very clean and the papyrus background makes me feel like I am reading about some things I was never meant to find. If I had to find issue with something, it would be the small type font, but is that really an issue when dealing with PDFs and the magical magnifying glass.

For the Dungeon Master
There are lots of creatures to choose from which can fit into various environments. I am in an aberration set of adventures now, so plucking the aberrant ettercap was a no brainer. As much as my players hate these things they will especially despite the ones with confusing gaze and fast heal. As an surprising trap I really liked the Marble Guardian, a different kind of construct that has the powers of a medusa.

The Iron Word
I feel I should recommend this product with a series disclaimer. Do not go through all of your currently written adventures and delete the creatures there and put in a bunch from the Twisted Menagerie. Because you will not stop. And then you will start trying to figure out ways to put in this creature and that creature, until whatever adventure you wrote is not even what you wrote and your players will be looking at you in the middle of game wondering why you have that devilish smirk on your face. If you can prevent yourself from getting carried away you might not find a better monster supplement this year better than Twisted Menagerie. .

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Five Free Races
by Craig S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2008 08:19:38
6 foot, two-headed kobolds…does anything else need to be said? I don't know if any of these are useable as PCs, but as unique NPCs or monsters they sure will be interesting to throw into a game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Five Free Races
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Book of Templates - Deluxe Edition
by Alan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/10/2007 14:05:15
I am very pleased with this pdf! Dozens of templates to spice up your D&D game. My personal favourites would be the spirit templates and rules.

Very good buy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Templates - Deluxe Edition
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Minor Magicks
by Michael T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2007 00:00:00
An assortment of unexceptional magical effects found in many other products. A number of specific spells with the same strength as Prestidigitation but lacking its versatility.

The product claims to include many spells useful in a fantasy world's daily life, yet it misses out on most kinds of spells useful to a medieval lifestyle (no farming charms, no tool-strengthening charms, few craft-specific charms). Most spells look like bland replacements for modern concepts.

Not a bad product. Just dull. Certainly nothing millions of DM's haven't already written for themselves.


LIKED: The emphasis on low-level magical effects.

DISLIKED: The bland flavorlessness of the offerings.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Minor Magicks
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Mind the Gap (Revised)
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2007 00:00:00
This is a very fine and comprehensive treatment of a basic type of trap, both providing a complete listing for simple pits and presenting many well-thought-out variants. The costing system derives from a rational system for the actual work involved in digging a hole, which is a refreshing correction to the 3e DMG's arbitrary level-appropriate numbers for traps. The game stats have a solid and reliable feel to them.

As for the cover, well .. nice Mandelbrot set, but it doesn't have much to do with the contents, except possibly some of the magical variants. This bit of art doesn't do justice to the production quality of the interior which is well laid out, carefully edited and has, get this, coloured bookmarks.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mind the Gap (Revised)
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Book of Templates - Deluxe Edition 3.5
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/29/2006 00:00:00
Sometimes it feels like I have reviewed a book before. But rarely is it this true. In fact I have in one way of looking at it reviewed this book twice before. The first time was when it was just the Book of Templates and then the second time when it became the Book of Templates Deluxe. Now it is the Book of Templates Deluxe 3.5 Edition and with each change it has gotten a great improvement and been one of the most used books at my gaming table. It is really cool to see such a great book finally come out in print as well as PDF like the first two were. Silverthorne Games and Goodman games should be very proud of this book and it has to be rare if not unique for a non core gaming book to get three releases with two significant improvements over the original which was a very solid and useful book in its own right.

Book of Templates 3.5 Deluxe Edition is a great looking hardbound book. It is one hundred and ninety two pages long and all black and white. The layout is well done with many table for the templates and also rules for helping the DM improve monsters. The pictures are nicely done depicting some strange new creatures to show some of the example creatures created with the templates in here.

The book is very well organized with templates grouped with who they can be used for. If one needs a template for an undead there is a chapter filled with undead templates. The same goes for plants, animals, constructs, and other creature types. There is also one large chapter on templates that can pretty much be applied to any creature. Some of the chapters only have a single template like the plant chapter but all templates do have an example creature making this book partially a very different monster manual.

The book starts off strong with a chapter on applying the templates and modifying the creatures. The book is useless if people do not understand how to use the material and the book does a nice job of taking a person through the steps and considerations when doing so. There are tables for the different creature types, how to handle size increases and decreases, ways that challenge rating can be modified, working with level adjustments for players, and other key things that people will need.

The book is filled with interesting templates as one might imagine. One of the interesting ones is the Fallen. It is a template to be applied to Outsiders, more specifically good Outsiders that have well fallen to the evil side of things. There is the Degenerate Template that represents a creature in isolation or part diet that weakens a bit but becomes more unpredictable of its kind. There is the Metalvore template that represents a creature that eats metals much to the fear of fighters and clerics everywhere. I really like the example creature they use applying this template to a bulette. I also really like the picture of this thing as well. There are pages and pages of interesting possibilities and cool ideas in this book.

This is a book that I and lots of other people get a lot of use of. The only comparable book is the Advanced Bestiary by Green Ronin which is another nice collection of templates. I do use the Book of Templates more though. But in reality both are very important in my quest for new and unique creatures to make my players lives more interesting and deadly. This book has a PDF and book version making it very versatile coming in the format the person will find most useful. This is a great book and about as close to a must have in the realms of fantasy d20 game books as we see.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Templates - Deluxe Edition 3.5
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A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2006 00:00:00
A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls is a d20 supplement from Silverthorne Games. The zipped file is 5.76 megabytes in size, and contains three PDFs. The first two are the book itself, and a printer-friendly version thereof. The third file is a short (four-page long) PDF of other products from Silverthorne Games.

The file itself is fifty-one pages long, including a page for the cover, one for the credits/legal, and one for the OGL itself. The printer-friendly version has the same number of pages, having simply removed the colors (the cover has been rendered in grayscale). Both files have bookmarks. Interestingly, beyond the cover, there?s very little interior artwork. The only real art in the book is that the three different card types each have a different symbol on them.

A Turn of Events has a large number of cards, each with different effects, which players and the GM can use during their game. The three card types are boons, critical hits/fumbles, and curses, all of which have some sort of mechanical effect. Each type of card has an introductory section laying down the basics of how to use them. The boon cards, for example, talk about when to award them to players, how many they can use in a round, etc. The critical cards all have two listings on them, one for a critical hit, and the other for a fumble. Each section ends with a few bank cards of each type so that GMs can write their own.

The majority of the love here is pretty clearly given to the boon cards, which take up just over half of the available cards in the book. They?re also the only cards to have rather cool quotes from Shakespeare (or other sources) on them that fit the theme of the card. That said, all of the cards cover a wide range of what they?ll allow for, particularly if you use the option that the curse cards can?t be gotten rid of with a simple remove curse spell.

All in all, A Turn of Events gives a nice new option for GMs looking to add a bit of flair to their game. Using these cards as suggested rewards for good role-playing (and/or punishments for poor playing) can help to spice up a campaign, and give the players a nudge when they need one most. Being as simple as it is elegant, your game will doubtlessly benefit from having A Turn of Events.



LIKED: The idea of having cards to lay out when needed, or warranted, is both innovative and simple. The quotes on the boon cards are also a nice touch.

DISLIKED: Players and GMs who want to use more critical and/or curse cards will find that the majority of the cards in here are boons.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls
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Template Troves, Volume I: Serpents, Spiders & Godlings
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/19/2006 00:00:00
Template Troves I: Serpents, Spiders, & Godlings is a monster book from Silverthorne Games. In keeping with this company?s claim to fame, this monster book consists of templates (along with creatures they have been applied to). The zipped file is 3.76 megabytes in size, containing a single PDF, which weighs in at 4.27 meg.

The book itself is forty-two pages long, including a page each for the front and back covers, a page for the credits, a page for the table of contents, a page for the OGL and legal information, and a page of ads. It has bookmarks to not only each template, but also to the scattering of new materials, as well as specific creatures, also found therein.

The book?s covers are done in full-color, but other than that the product is entirely in black-and-white with grayscale. The pages have borders on alternating sides. Most, but not all, of the new templates given have a picture of what a creature with that template would look like. There is no printer-friendly version.

The book opens with an introduction describing how to use the twenty templates that it provides. In addition to the template itself, each has an introduction of a paragraph or two explaining where such creatures come from, or how they would be created. It also briefly discusses appearance changes to the base creature once the template has been applied. In addition, each template has an example creature.

Most of the score of templates in the book fall under its title theme; a few, however, such as the devourer survivor or the twilight haggling, do not. Interestingly, most of the ?godling? templates are representative of creatures that are descended from one of the legendary beasts from Norse mythology, such as Fenris or Sleipnir. None of the templates are very powerful, though, being at most Challenge Rating +2 (one, the Skoth, can be +4, but that?s rare). Additionally, a few extras are thrown in, such as a single brand-new (non-template) monster, a few feats, or a trio of new spells, among others, all of which are presented to round out existing entries.

Altogether, Template Troves I: Serpents, Spiders, & Godlings does a good job in presenting templates that alter the flavor of the monsters they?re applied to. The only real flaw with the book is that it doesn?t seem to go far enough with its inspirations. Many of the templates here represent crossbreeds, or otherwise creatures with the blood of another ?standard? monster in them, which seems somewhat lackluster. Luckily, this only makes up about half of the templates presented here, with the other half being colorful enough to more than make up for the cut-and-dried nature of their fellows. GM?s looking for new ways to spice up existing monsters would be well served to make them into Serpents, Spiders, & Godlings.



LIKED: Additional bonus material, such as the oxeph (a new monster) helped to round out the material quite nicely. Likewise, many of the new templates here (such as the oxeph host) were exceptionally colorful.

DISLIKED: Some of the templates seemed rather dry in their nature, such as a template that can be placed on spiders representing an aranea ancestor, or one for snakes that's indicative of a couatl ancestor. Likewise, the product had no printer-friendly version.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Template Troves, Volume I: Serpents, Spiders & Godlings
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