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Ave Molech (Second Edition)
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2009 15:14:17
The two preceding reviews cover the scope and intent of the product, and to be honest, the core principle is a very interesting world concept, producing a magic/tech mix on a world recovering from near-destruction.

What the other reviewers fail to mention is that the writing is horrible, just terrible. The background reads like a 14 year old GM’s notes. As one example, for several consecutive paragraphs a great hero (the background primarily focuses upon the world-changing deeds of Great Heroes, who are Men of Mystery) is forced by enemy action ‘to make a fast decision’. Apparently this king was too stupid to make a choice unless things were desperate. After the enemy destroyed his city in a single night (no one farms, it appears-cities are the only unit of political measurement discussed), he made a fast decision: build an underground city. How this was accomplished with his city already over-run is not touched upon. Later, his followers, once again operating on the instructions of a man incapable of the most basic advance planning, manage to extend the city downwards faster than the enemy can invade. This is not an isolated example.


Run-on sentences with absolutely no attention paid to structure, very juvenile approaches to setting issues, and a serious lack of editing detract from what is actually a pretty decent world concept. This extends into the support information on equipment, races, politics, and the like; everything is described in what I would call “GM’s quick notes’ style which reminds me of Judge’s Guild material; simplistic sentence-long notes on how things work which are open to multiple interpretations.


A good twenty pages are nothing more than the same map with one feature placed on it: roads on one map, etc. In summary, this is an interesting setting with some original concepts, but unless you’re looking for a quick background to justify old-school ‘clear the dungeon’ crawls , a GM is going to have to put a lot of work into the setting.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ave Molech (Second Edition)
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Lore: Sharess & Talon
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2008 10:35:33
This product is a short story which covers a lot of the background history of the land of Ave Molech. It's recommended that you read it after you have read the campaign setting book, as it might otherwise be rather confusing.

It tells the tale of events between Sharess, a large black dragon, and her erstwhile follower and then betrayer Talon, as seen by a bunch of scavengers who encounter them while rooting through the layers of deserted and abandoned levels under the city of Hork. Marred by poor proofreading and outbreaks of pottymouth, the story otherwise is quite atmospheric and gives a good feel of the sorts of things that scavengers might find.

However, the truths revealed here are ones unknown to the inhabitants of Ave Molech and, although fascinating to read, it is difficult to see how even the most inventive of DMs can make use of them to advance his adventures. At times it is almost incoherent and hard to follow, even armed with the outline of events as given in the Ave Molech setting book. Overall, I am not sure that it really advances your understanding of events much, and certainly does not promote any empathy with the main protagonists. While contributing to the overall history of the land, it is not usable within your game.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Lore: Sharess & Talon
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Ave Molech - Journals - Volume 5
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2008 08:56:23
Subtitled "Three Storms," the core of this product is a short story, accompanied by adventure ideas and other support material. The story, told from the viewpoint of a junior crewman, tells of a pirate attack on a cargo-bearing airship. It's an atmospheric and evocative tale, marred by sloppy proof-reading (possibly over-reliance on computer spelling and grammar checks rather than the mark 1 eyeball), which gives sufficient background to enable you to describe life on a commercial airship should your characters have occasion to be on one.

The adventure ideas include being caught up in such a raid as innocent bystanders, as hired guards... or even from the other side as the pirates themselves. Next comes more detail about airships in Ave Molech (especially useful if you have not got the setting book but fancy adding them to your own world), leading in to game descriptions of the items mentioned in the story and additional remarks, not just the airships themselves but weapons and other gear, much with a steampunk flavour.

There is also a map of Ave Molech showing where the action takes place - which leads me to wonder if there is scope for adding greater intrigue to your own adventure, as the crewman in the story attributes the pirate attack to chance brought about by the airship following a more northerly route than planned, which took them into known pirate-infested areas... and yet, the map shows that the attack occurred once the detour was ended and they were back on track. Perhaps deliberately targeted rather than chance - well, you decide!

Overall this gives a nice impression of ordinary airship trade, sufficient to permit you to incorporate it into games set in Ave Molech, or someplace else you decide to permit similar technology.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ave Molech - Journals - Volume 5
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Ave Molech (Second Edition)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/15/2008 11:22:30
Ave Molech is a fantasy steampunk setting created under the Open Games Licence. It's actually been loose since 1997 and this is the Second Edition, although regretfully this is the first time I've seen it. The Introduction helps, as it is a reminisce by the author about how he got into role-playing and how the Ave Molech setting came about.

Chapter 1: The World of Ave Molech sets out its stall: a post-cataclysmic mediaeval fantasy world with steampunk inventions and a Wild West attitude; and recommends that not only the core Dungeons & Dragons 3e books but also D20 Modern be used. Due to the catacysmic events of the past, much of the population has been living underground or floating high above, and only the past couple of hundred years has seen more than the most adventurous venture out on the surface. Now both magic and technology are being harnessed to make the surface a fit place on which to live again. Much knowledge, especially the detailed history of what took place, has been lost; but some remains to be discovered. A brief history describes what little is known of how the cataclysm came to occur, how it opened the world to external invasion, and how matters developed thereafter until the present day. Then comes a couple of 'eyewitness' reports and a timeline of major events.

Next, the current state of affairs is described - basically, fragmented outposts of various sizes each doing their best to survive against the remnants of alien invasions and hostile neighbours. However, different groups bring a range of talents, skills and knowledge to the world community as a whole - there is even a primitive Internet to enable different settlements to keep in touch with one another! Magic exists alongside technology, being of the familiar arcane and divine persuasions as well as 'ancient magic' from which all else stemmed. Most divine magic comes from a belief in oneself rather than in an external deity, as veneration of gods seems to have vanished during the cataclysm and its aftermath... and the gods themselves appear to have gone to sleep. Various other topics, ranging from psionics and planar travel to fashion, economics to body-art and piercing, transportation and more are also discussed to present an overall picture of Ave Molech as it is today.

Chapter 2: The Races and Lands of Ave Molech gets into a bit more detail than the overviews already presented. On races, any fantasy race can exist here, but the most common are humans, goblins, tiefling, halflings, half-elves, half-orcs, half-giants and the sec'toda. Full game details for these races as they appear in Ave Molech are provided. Few pure-blood elves remain. Sec'toda appear human, adapted to subterranean living, but they are not - instead they are the outwardly-visible partner of a symbiotic relationship with a 'bloodmate.' Being a new race, they are described in greater detail than the others.

Next comes a gazetteer section, describing the cities, swamps, coastal areas and other parts of the world. The level of information is sufficient for at least a visit to each location mentioned. The maps presented are somewhat rudimentary but provide a good overview of the world with plenty of scope for individual DMs to develop areas of interest within that context.

Chapter 3: Organisations and Important People puts some meat into the setting, providing details of various groups and individuals with which characters might interact - or whose wider machinations may well impinge on their lives. It's a setting in which both exploration and intrigue can flourish, depending on your group's tastes.

Next comes Chapter 4: Game Mechanics begins with a look at character creation. It's suggested that the D20 Modern methodology be used for such as ability scores and core classes, with amendments as appropriate to fit the setting. However, skills and feats from both D20 Modern and the D&D Player's Handbook, modified as necessary, can be taken. The DM should judge, based on the type and focus of campaign, just what will be available.

Just to give you a start, though, Chapter 5: Advanced and Prestige Classes goes into much more detail to enable progression to be planned and characters developed. Each in turn is presented with the necessary information to enable them to be used. They include members of several of the organisations mentioned earlier as well as more general classes that do not require you to sign up to a specific group. One intriguing prestige class is the Dragonne, who have mastered the use of technologically-advanced battle armour as well as more mundane combat skills. Sneakier folks might prefer to become Shadow Dancers, while a Fearasitic Mage is as scary to his enemies as he is inspiring to his friends. In a land without religion, the dead (or more correctly, the undead) might become a problem, hence the Ecclesiarch class, specialist in controlling them; while for more mundane problems, you might want to send for a Bounty Hunter.

Characters sorted, Chapter 6: Equipment, Vehicles and Other Ware looks at the kit your characters might acquire. Note that the D20 Modern wealth system has been used, so those desiring more realistic economics will have to devise their own price lists. There's a range of delightfully exotic personal equipment which is described in enough detail for you to know what it does without necessarily needing to know how it does it: perfect for the steampunk-style tech in this setting. Mechanical vehicles, ships and airships, wonderous items... even piercings that deliver a magical effect... enough is here to get you started. Oh, and there are some exotic riding animals if you prefer creatures to mechanical wonders.

Worthy of a chapter of its own, next we have Chapter 7: Clockwork. Developed to a level to rival real-world electronics, clockwork can be used to power and control devices of all natures, limited only by the inventor's imagination. One major use is in Clockwork Companions, in other words, robots - but not advanced enough to be living or self-aware. The chapter concentrates on the manufacture, programming, operation and repair of these constructs.

Next is Chapter 8: Monsters, detailing the wildlife - or at least three of the more dangerous species - inhabiting Ave Molech. You really don't want to encounter any of them! This includes more detail on the main alien invader, the Hybrude - including background that is not known to natives of Ave Molech. There are also notes on quite a few other creatures that you might encounter, although you can of course use many of the creatures in the Monster Manual series of books as well... although they may have been warped on their way there. Chapter 9: Creature Templates provides some of the tools, with a selection of templates you can apply to the monster of your choice.

Chapter 10: GM Stuff lifts the curtain on some of the underlying concepts, and shares things like the house rules and mechanical approaches which the author has found best reflect the flavour of this setting. In terms of general gaming, there is a rules-light approach avoiding as much number-crunching as possible with the aim of keeping action as the focus of the game - worth reading if this style of game appeals even if you are not using this setting. One intriguing idea reflects the racial melting-pot Ave Molech has become, using a system of Heritage to accommodate a character with several different races in his ancestry, rather than the easily-derived half-and-half model. There's also more background on what the deities which created the place were really doing, and the few cults which survive in the godless present day. Oh, and there are plenty of adventure ideas, some based on location for those who want to explore, and others involving the characters in intrigue or open warfare.

Next is woven in the first 4 Journals - if you buy this book, only buy Ave Molech Journals Vol.5 as the material from the others is in here! The concept is a combination of short story with adventure seeds and other game ideas. There's lots of atmospheric description as well as useful ideas - and much could be used in another setting if you prefer.

Finally, Chapter 11: A First-level Campaign is just that - a linked series of events aimed at a group new to Ave Molech (although they'd do better at 4th-6th level than 1st!). Reaching out to sieze and involve the characters from the outset, a simple plea for help from a frantic halfling whose clockwork cleaner has gone beserk leads to... well, a series of adventures which demonstrate how Ave Molech is such a unique setting to explore.

Overall, this is indeed a rich and intriguing setting with a heady blend of steampunk and fantasy with elements of horror lurking, potential for exploration and intrigue and scope for a range of adventures to suit all tastes, especially those which go beyond pure combat and loot aquisition.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ave Molech (Second Edition)
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Ave Molech (Second Edition)
by Bratty K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2008 14:24:21
I picked this up on a whim because the cover artwork caught my eye and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Of the 160 pages, about 50 to 60 of that is lore and with the way the book is laid out it seems like the authors really focused more on story and game-play rather than mechanics and rules. There also seems to be a lot of room for possible expansion.
I found the world of Ave Molech interesting since it doesn’t really have a specific genre. The setting starts off with a brief history of the world with a chaos god being killed and the succeeding gods losing their powers due to lack of belief in them. Then there is mention of ifrits and dragons gaining power briefly and eventually mankind is left to fend for itself. Which all happens very quickly and moves on to an invading force of powerful beings that outright destroy civilization. Next come in guns, airships and car-like vehicles next to swords, magic and howler riders.
After the write up on the current world, its people and places, which have some organizations I could easily work into my existing campaign. There is a series of maps and then it starts to get into the classes, skills, spells and equipment. The classes are in fact d20 modern based, even though there are races and converted 3.5 edition classes like the Shadow Dancer. Though there are some classes I have not seen before and I assume are unique to the world like the Dragonne and Fearasitic Mage.
Then there is a section on clockwork and monster templates, a DM section and a first level campaign. All pretty straight forward, however the DM section contains a series of short stories, additional npcs, monsters and places not mentioned in the previous sections.
Liked: Lots of world setting info and ideas for stories and campaigns.
Disliked: I thought some of the classes, skills and equipment could use a little more work.
Quality: The PDF is well constructed with bookmarks and a black and white printable version at the end.
Value: Satisfied

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ave Molech - Journals - Volume 2
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/31/2007 00:00:00
Add Ave?Mokech Journals ? Volume 2 to the short list of sequels that not only do not suck, but far exceed the original. For those whom did not enjoy Volume 1, Volume 2 will redeem your faith in the Ave?Mokech Campaign world.

With Journals ? Volume 2, Morbid Games has created a d20 hybrid PDF that combines a well written short story, solid adventure hooks and a few crunch items. Whereas it is not a complete adventure, and does not advertise to be one, it is a well designed skeleton of one detailed enough for a small campaign or quick adventure. By not concentrating on simply the town or campaign world, Journals is able to provide enough components without locking you into a definite adventure. The 20 page PDF (actual 10 pages as half of the book is a print only version), begins by telling the story of an unlucky fellow being chased by a swift Bounty Hunter. Unlike a lot of beginning useless short stories, do not discount this prose. A good amount of crunch is tucked inside of it. The prose details the two men encounters and does a good job of describing enough people and places.

After the three page story, the authors provide some crunch details about the bounty hunter, the organization that he works for and the town the setting takes place in. Again, everything is brief enough so that you do not feel locked down inside a particular adventure. Because of this, as a DM you are able to go a lot of places with the story. You can have your PCs working with the bounty hunter, being hunted or working as a rival bounty hunting group. Towards the end there is a strong bounty hunters prestige class and a colorful map.

For the DM
Consider Journals ? Volume 2 a 10 page adventure hook. Instead of getting a book of one paragraph ideas, you get a meaty adventure hook centered around the job of bounty hunting. I really like Percival, the man in the story. The write-up describes a good NPC that would fit into any devious plot.

The Iron Word
Ave?Mokech Journals ? Volume 2 succeeds at giving the reader a lot more than simple inspiration for an adventure. Whereas not an actual adventure, Journals- Volume 2 provides a solid plot that would work out great in a hurried pick me up game or a well thought out campaign.



LIKED: - the bounty hunter theme and story is exciting and pulls in the reader
- some good detail about the location and organization in charge of the bounty hunts
- the map works even if not using hte setting
- though not original, the bounty hunter PR fits well into the theme

DISLIKED: - The font on the grayish paper can be hard to read. I'm glad there was a print friendly version.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ave Molech - Journals - Volume 2
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Ave Molech - Journals - Volume 1
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/09/2007 00:00:00
Ave' Molech Journals: Volume 1 is a unique title that makes a half-hearted attempt at being a blown out adventure hook, but whimpers to the ground in a scattering of half-completed ideas.

Ave'Molech is a product without a category. There are twelve pages in the PDF, but few of the pages are product, and even less is useful product. Take away the random art, obligated d20 laws and cover pages (I still don?t understand why non-print PDFs waste my time with extravagant cover art) and you are left with six pages of actual material. But, wait, we are not finished subtracting yet. Take away the two pages of poorly written prose and you are left with four pages of material. The prose is not even about the journal, but a sort of introduction of someone who previously found the journal.

But, hold on again buckey. Because one of those pages is a map, which is limited if plan on using this product in an established campaign. That leaves the reader with 3 pages. On those pages is an adventure hook and brief description of Godon's journal, which are both quite good. It appears the point of the product is that there is this cursed leather journal that details a research lab where people are turned into machine zombies. The write-up is not terribly original, but it does form a very nice concept, as the book is nothing but a tool to steer wayward adventurers to the lab where they are turned into the experiment.

The Last two pages are entries of several monsters that the reader is expected to include into their adventure. The clockwork abomination screams poorly made rip-off of a half-dozen better designed mechazombie templates. There is also an assassin vine, which I can only guess is an encounter outside of the research lab. There is also a creature called a howler, but, as with the other descriptions, it feels like a retread.


For the DM
The last usable page of the book is a colorful and well laid out map of a jungle where the research laboratory is suspected to be. It is the only part of the PDF that glimmers at a complete idea.

The Iron Word
Ave' Molech suffers from identify crisis. It does not have one. Beginning with a long drawn out prose and ending with three monsters with little design work put into them, there is nothing in between that supports the research facility, machine zombies or the horrors that were in the prose. If there is to be a journal two, the authors will have to stick more to the adventure and on filler.





LIKED: - map on page 4

DISLIKED: DISLIKED: - a lot of typos
- no focus to the product.
- two pages of long prose
- misrepresentation of the page count. There are 6 pages, maybe, in this product
- the art is good, but random and not connected to the product
- the creatures and templates are not original and do not appear balanced.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Ripped Off

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ave Molech - Journals - Volume 1
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review our products. We had not meant to be misleading in our page counts or description, but clearly there was a miscommunication as to what exactly ?Journals? was. Because of this we have updated the file as well as the product description. We sent out the revisions, but in case you have not received those please contact us at morbidgames@gmail.com. Thank you.
Ave Molech - Journals - Volume 1
by Jonathan G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/27/2006 00:00:00
Ave'Molech - Journal 1 is the first in a series of twelve short story / game resource combinations that are designed for the Ave'molech campaign setting but suitable, according to the authors, for use in other worlds as well. This is true enough. Although the product does make some mention of buzz words that aren't fully explained, it's generally possible to work out what is meant by them from their context.

The first thing that you ought to know about Ave'Molech Journals (Vol. 1) is that it's a fair bit shorter than it would appear. Although the PDF does indeed sport 12 pages, this count includes the front and back cover, a contents page, two pages of legal information and one page which contains only a very simplistic sketching of what look like shrunken heads hanging in rope that really doesn't justify a full page to display. The actual useful content runs to six pages, literally half of the product. Now in its defence the price is pretty cheap, but even so it's annoying that such a narrow percentage of the content actually contains any... well... content!

The first two pages of that content consist of a short story, or more accurately a piece of flash fiction. I can't say that I was very enamoured with the writer's style much, which felt very rushed. It seems (to me at least) as if the author wanted to squeeze a much longer tale into a very small space so that what might once have taken a page or even two to tell is now recounted in a brief paragraph. This makes the prose infuriatingly vague in places and the reader is left wondering what on earth is meant by certain turns of phrase. Nor did I find the plot, which concerns two men going hunting for legendary devices in a ruined city, either engaging or original. The inspiration of the piece seems to be vaguely Lovecraftian, especially given the antiquated style of the writing. Unfortunately, the quality does not approach that of the great H.P. The author particularly seems to have difficulty with words that sound the same but are spelt differently, for example using 'sale' instead of 'sail', 'here' instead of 'hear', and even 'unassailable' (which means 'unable to be attempted / attacked') used in a context that suggested to me that the author thought it meant 'not seaworthy'.

The next three pages are game content, consisting of a very brief adventure, a few new monsters and a new vehicle. These are provided with full statistic blocks (compatible with D20 Modern) which seem solid enough. Sadly the grammar has not improved since the short story, and one particularly awful sentence contains no less than three mistakes. As for the adventure, it is an extremely simple affair that nevertheless is not described in anywhere near enough detail to satisfy my own tastes and isn't really suitable for novice GMs. For example, while there is a brief (very brief) description of the laboratory that the main adventure takes place in, there is no map of this facility. There IS a map of the world, but since very little seems to happen even in the area surrounding the ruins this serves little useful purpose other than to show the most appropriate route to the site. Incidentally, this route takes up a small rectangle in the southwest corner of the map and doesn't even cover one eighth of its surface. The rest of the map has no relevance at all.

The book makes some use of artwork which, while sketchy and occasionally plain amateurish, is certainly not the worst I have ever seen. Most of it is small, less than a quarter page, except for the one full-page illustration which doesn't seem to have anything at all to do with the rest of the book. On the other hand a very attractive texture has been applied behind the text, giving the page an old, weathered look. Unfortunately there is no printer friendly version, so expect to use up far more ink and time printing this document out than you might need or want to.

The overall impression I got from reading this product was of an unedited magazine article. It felt lost and alone without other articles to keep it company, and even at the low price of $2 I couldn't help thinking that there wasn't really enough here. Some serious editorial work needs to be done to bring the language up to scratch, and the details need to be thoroughly expanded. Maybe it will have more merit when all twelve supplements are ready and printed side by side, but as it stands, I cannot recommend this product. The only reason that I didn't mark it down further for value is that it is indeed quite cheap.




LIKED: The attractive page texture, the clear stat blocks, the concept of a short story being used to illustrate an adventure.

DISLIKED: Poor grammar, pointless art and misleadingly short length. A decent idea that is crippled by poor execution.

QUALITY: Poor

VALUE: Disappointed

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review our product so thoroughly, it does appear that our editors fell asleep on this one. Rest assured they will be flogged and a new PDF will be up uploaded shortly. The new version, with much bettter spelling and grammar, will be sent out to all previous customers later this afternoon 07-01-02.
Ave'Molech Campaign Setting
by Derek H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2006 00:00:00
An interesting concept but the execution is poor. The file looks very pretty, though there is no alternate for printing. The write up for the setting lacks enough that it doesn't come alive at all. There is a section on new creatures and old, where the latter gives physical descriptions and doesn't give how they fit into the setting, for the most part. And several of the artists are not given credit. They may be part of Octavirate Entertainment, but they still should have their own names listed.

One thing that shouldn't matter to most potential buyers, but annoys me to no end, is the very incorrect section 15 of the OGL. If one uses the Modern SRD, one has to put it in the s15.

With a major rewrite and expansion, I think the authors should produce a good product.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ave'Molech Campaign Setting
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review our product. Currently we have corrected the OGL in the back of the book and the updated version, free to previous customers, should be available by this weekend 06-11-03. We also have now forced those like Michael, who are not associated with Octavirate, to place signatures in their artwork. This will also be included in the updated version as well. Thanks again.
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