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Pirates & Dragons Core Rulebook
Pirates & Dragons Core Rulebook
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Fractal Mapper v8.0
by Michael L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/11/2013 11:51:27
I purchased Fractal Mapper to help me visualize the setting for my novel. I've only scratched the surface of what the program is capable of, but even the small number of features I used enabled me to produce a fantastic map. My characters have a nice, detailed sandbox to play in thanks to Fractal Mapper. I intend to use it often in the future.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper v8.0
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Symbol Pack 1: Campaign World (for Fractal Mapper)
by Chris S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2013 03:18:46
This add-on symbol pack contains more than enough excellent symbols to justify the reasonable price. And if you have the option to buy it with FractalMapper as a bundle for an additional discount, don't hesitate to do so...it's definitely worth it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Symbol Pack 1: Campaign World (for Fractal Mapper)
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Fractal Mapper v8.0
by Chris S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2013 03:15:44
This is an excellent mapping tool for fantasy campaigns. The tool has a few minor shortcomings that could potentially be addressed with a future patch (such as the ability to zoom in/out via a mouse wheel), but overall it works exactly as advertised. The learning curve is a touch steep for beginners, but if you stick with it and consult the documentation, it becomes a VERY handy mapping package. And for the price, it is definitely recommended for any DM/GM who is looking to develop custom maps.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper v8.0
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AstroSynthesis v3.0 (UPGRADE)
by Wayne L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/20/2013 10:18:25
I have been using Astro Synthesis for some time and recently upgraded to version 3.0. It is a great tool. My group is playing an interstellar 4X game that used to be PBM. We get the stellar coordinates from the game database file and paste them into a spreadsheet saved as CSV. Run the import in Astor Synthesis and viola! There are several useful plugins as well.

The only improvement I would like to see is a way to dynamically access the underlying AstroDB file system from an external MS Access or VB application using a robust ODBC driver. Alas, we have yet to find a reliable way to do that to date and the author does not seem willing to facilitate our needs in that regard. This has us continuing to look deeper at developing our own tools and eventually leaving Astro Synthesis behind. But for now it is great once you get the data imported.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AstroSynthesis v3.0 (UPGRADE)
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The Keep 1.0 - Personal Information Manager for Gamers
by Anthony T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2013 12:32:54
I've been using The Keep to help in the construction of a campaign setting, and so far it's functionality is pretty great. It's easy to do a lot of the word processing I need to do (bullet points, outlines, lists, tables, etc.), and keep the window relatively clutter free. The ability to include hyperlinks and images is also great. It's also very helpful to be able to organize your work into nested tabs so you can find your notes with ease. The more effort you put into it, the more time you'll save later.

On the downside, however, I'm not certain it's worth $30, however, as I feel a lot of the things I'm doing can be done in Google Docs for free. Worse, some of the functionality appears to be unsupported at this time (Inspiration Pad 3.0 doesn't integrate, and I can't get my notes to e-Pub no matter how hard I try). I own a few other NBOS Software products and always like what I get, but with the specter of RealmWorks' release looming over The Keep, I would like to hope some more steps would be taken to improve the software as fast as possible in order to remain competitive.

Once the Inspiration Pad 3.0 functionality is included and some patching to get epublishing to work, I genuinely believe The Keep can compete with any other RPG campaign tool.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Keep 1.0 - Personal Information Manager for Gamers
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GM's Software Bundle [BUNDLE]
by Bruce L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2013 16:17:05
"The Keep" is amazing. It has allowed me to finally get myself organized as a DM. I have put my PDF files of campaign materials I created, into it, along with HTML copies of the core rulebooks, so that I can have access to them all, with just a few clicks, opening them within the program itself, no external launcher needed. My game notes are entered during the game, so they are up-to-date. The program saves everything to disk, auto-magically, so I can just close it when I am done (notes can be backed up, and exported/imported between PC's, allowing back-up's). It is truly amazing.

The "Fractal Mapper" is powerful... It is not too difficult to learn, but it has a curve, and it will take you some time. The free-hand drawing capabilities are challenging: I created hand-drawn maps, 30 years ago, which I have photographed, and Xeroxed. To convert them to the "Fractal Mapper", is challenging to get them to look the same. It would be much, much easier to let the program create new coastlines for me, but the maps are too familiar to me, and to my players, so I have to struggle with this part.

Scaling of the maps is a bit challenging. It can be used for world-sized maps, or close-in maps, of, say, a hamlet. It's all possible, but there are some subtle nuances which need to be learned. Probably the neatest thing, though, is to tell it to take your 2D map, and make it into a spinning globe graphic -- truly astounding to see your world spinning on the screen!

These programs are a home-run, completely out of the park! They have some add-on's, including a PC record sheet application which allows you to design a custom PC Record Sheet, but that is rather complex to set up a record sheet with. Tried, but it was more labor than I wanted to invest in it. It also features random name generators, and other random generators -- may prove useful to you, or not. They are, however, icing on the cake! If your budget will allow the bundle purchase, go for it. They are extremely useful, and reasonably priced for what you get. Cheers!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Software Bundle [BUNDLE]
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The Keep 1.0 - Personal Information Manager for Gamers
by Brian R H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/19/2013 21:19:26
The Keep has become an indispensable part of my gaming life. It's a great one stop shop for the PDF rulebooks of all the games I'm currently running, and all the content I'm generating. It integrates with most of NBO's other offerings (Inspiration Pad, Character Sheet Designer, Screen Monkey, and Fractal Mapper). I use it to write scenarios, track combat, reference rules, create maps, keep various lists, and house images.

While it's an off-label use, I've installed the program in my Google Drive folder (using the thumbdrive installation method -- did I mention you can install it on a thumb drive?) which allows me to access the program and all the content I've put into it from any machine linked to my Google Drive account.

It's very useful to the pbp GM. Using character sheets generated with Character Sheet Designer and loaded into the Keep, I can update PC stats, then export the lot of them as images to a public Dropbox folder. In the game thread, I've linked to those images. So, it makes record keeping much easier.

Can't say enough good things about it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Keep 1.0 - Personal Information Manager for Gamers
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The Keep 1.0 - Personal Information Manager for Gamers
by D J N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2012 04:31:34
I haven't used all the features yet, but this is the first RPG database that I feel I can use during a game.

I do have the nits, and I'll take them up with NBOS, but the program is easy to use with minimal use of the help system. I really like how this application works well with other NBOS appllications (Inspiration Pad Pro and Character Sheet Maker and even Screen Monkey). For my upcoming Traveller campaign I'll be using this to keep track of all the things that happen. I can use my laptop as a GM's screen and the Keep to handle dice rolling and character sheets.

One *really* positive thing that this does is to allow a second screen to be used to show things to players. And I happen to have an extra LCD or two lying about.

There are a few things I think of as flaws, but maybe I just don't know how to do them:
1. Sometimes I'd like to open multiple windows, and I haven't found a way to do this.
2. I can't figure out how to make hyperlinks work within the Keep; I assume they'll work if I publish the information.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Inspiration Pad Pro 2.0
by D J N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2012 04:12:18
A very interesting and useful program. The program as delivered is mainly for fantasy games, but more files can be added for whatever game you're running.

And for the price, it's a very good buy!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Inspiration Pad Pro 2.0
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Fractal Mapper v8.0
by Benjamin H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2012 12:48:49
When I first purchased this program I was apprehensive on whether I could use it for anything other than basic generic maping, however after getting used to its capabilities I am now able to use it to make maps that very close to the world I already had established. The main advantage is I can make the maps a detailed as I want and print only the items I wish the characters to have when the purchase an in-game map. Another advantage is I can use it with The Keep program so while I'm running a session, I can easily pull up a map where the characters are and even modify it on the spot if something notworthy is discovered while they trek through the wilderness not fully mapped yet.
All in all, I highly recommend this program especially if you like making maps for your game so world info stays consistent.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper v8.0
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AstroSynthesis v3.0
by Constantine T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2012 19:50:02
Summary: Astrosynthesis (AS) is a good product for the basic user, but users who want to use its more advanced functions will be let down by a lack of support.

Review: From what I have seen on the NBOS forums, there are two types of user for AS: Basic users are those who just want software that allows them to make a 3D starmap at the click of a button, and then tweak the results to their liking. Advanced users are those who want to delve more deeply into the scripting and customisation side of the program, or import their own starmaps for their own settings into the program to tweak and develop. The basic users are most likely to just want to use the program a couple of times to generate their setting and then not really need it anymore, whereas the advanced users are more likely to be using the program for lengthier projects and will be making use of the scripting and advanced output settings.

The "Basic users" will find that this program is pretty decent. The 136 page manual is fairly complete and well-written and helpful in this regard, and the creation settings are reasonably customisable. However, once the universe is created then a fair bit of work may be required to tweak it to the user's needs (e.g. the author has a strange definition of "hospitable planet" which amounts to "an environment that won't instantly kill you" rather than a world that is remotely "hospitable" by any normal definition of the word), and some of the astronomical information in the glossary is not accurate. But overall if you are a basic user then you shouldn't have too many issues using the program if you read through the manual. It is likely however that basic users would have to do a fair bit of 'post processing' of the results in a spreadsheet program to get it to really match what they want for their settings.

Advanced users, however, will have a lot of problems in getting AS to do what they want it to do. I consider myself an "advanced user", having used AS3 to make realistic maps of the stars near Sol for my Stellar Mapping page at http://evildrganymede.net/rpgs/stellar-mapping/ , and to attempt to update the Near Star Map in 2300 AD ( http://evildrganymede.net/2012/02/13/stellar-mapping-2300ad--
near-star-map/ ). The scripting functionality ("AstroScript") is potentially very powerful and can grant the ability to make custom plugins that let the user find distances between stars, create custom displays (e.g. different route for different empires), change the distance that labels are viewed at depending on world parameters, or even create a new method of world generation. Other more advanced functions are the ability to import stars from csv files, and output 2D star maps. Pretty much everything on my stellar mapping/2300AD pages has been created using the Astrosynthesis' more advanced features.

The problem is that there is little to no support available for these more advanced aspects of the program. Astroscript is a variation of VBScript, so if you have some experience with that (or basic programming) then you may be able to figure out how to write a script or plugin to get it to do what you want. However, the API documentation is pretty much useless. It is little more than a bare framework, with most of the terms and functions lacking any explanation or examples beyond what type of variable they are. Additionally, the NBOS forums are pretty useless for support on this matter since the program's author is not interested in explaining how to use functions or in filling in the gaps in the documentation. As such, the user is left to figure out for himself how to use these functions... and more often than not will be unsuccessful. The sad part is that there isn't enough of a userbase on the forums to help out other users either, because the poor API documentation and lack of "official" support drives most advanced users away.

It's unfortunate because Astrosynthesis is a program with a very specific purpose that has the potential to be really useful for those who want to create 3D starmaps - but the lack of support is likely to frustrate those who buy it for that purpose. The market for this program is pretty small, so one would think that NBOS would be interested in supporting the people who pay $35 for AS3 to use the advanced features that are advertised - but that support is not forthcoming (which is very disappointing given the cost of the product). As such, people who are interested in using the more advanced features of the program will currently have to be prepared to face an uphill struggle to get the program to do what they want it to do, and should be prepared for little help (and should be prepared for the possibility that despite their efforts they just won't be able to use the program for their purposes at all).

So is the program useful for advanced users? Yes... but only to an extent. The advanced user is likely to have to lower their expectations of what the program can give them though. Despite the great potential of this program, the lack of support forces me to give this product a low mark (2 stars out of 5) for advanced users. For Basic users I would probably rate this 3 stars out of 5.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
AstroSynthesis v3.0
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Fractal Mapper v8.0
by Bruce L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2012 10:32:48
I was a bit intimidated by this program, at first. I really could not just 'figure it out' on my own. Finally, I opened up the tutorial, and followed it, step by step... The tutorial does not cover every aspect of the program -- after finishing the tutorial, there are still a great many elements left to be figured out on your own, but you will be able to put together some beautiful maps, nonetheless.

I have had my campaign world maps since I created them, back in 1983. I have expanded them in the past 29 years, and I have fleshed out many areas of my world maps, as players have ventured into different areas. I had hoped that I could control the overall shape of the continents within this program so that I could make digital versions of my hand-drawn, and crude computer drawn maps of old. Unfortunately, this program only allows limited control of the overall shapes it generates. This means that I will have to alter the shapes of some of the continents which the PC's are already quite familiar with, but the program delivers so much more professional results, it is sooo much faster to use compared to the old programs and methods, that I really do not mind at all.

This program does, in fact, allow you to create a world map, which can be rendered into a spinning, turnable, globe! Now that is one very fun thing to do! I will be expanding my world design, as a result of using this program, plus I can finally see it all, as a spinning globe. I can even rotate the globe, so that I can see the polar regions, while it is spinning. This may seem like so much wasted programming, but in reality, it allows the world designer to see spatial relations between continents which would otherwise be impossible. It really is a hoot, as well as being useful.

To make detailed maps of continents, islands, countries, or even counties, the GM simply creates a 'continent', and stretches it off the edges of the map, or leave one, or more, edges showing, to create a coastline. Add in land features, such as rivers, and lakes, mountains, hills, swamps, etc. Multiple layers can be created, to allow for GM maps showing everything, and PC maps, showing only what the GM wants them to know.

Dungeon maps can also be created, with the same ease, and speed (there is a tutorial for dungeons, as well, which is highly recommended to get you up to speed quickly! The layering feature could be quite useful here. This program would work superbly for projecting the dungeon onto a tabletop, for miniature use. I've seen such video projectors available for less than $200 retail, new, around Christmas time. This would allow the GM to project the map onto the tabletop, without need of pens, or tiles, or 3D dungeon props; it would be completely fluid in design, with minimal set-up time (depending upon the number of layers used...).

Overall, this is a highly useful, and amazing program to use. If you produce a nice map, and you would like to have it produced professionally, check out this company for transferring your map to vinyl: http://www.bannersonthecheap.com/rpg-maps-and-banners Cheers!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper v8.0
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The Keep 1.0 - Personal Information Manager for Gamers
by Benjamin H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2012 13:37:32
At first glance the program looked like it could be of some use during gaming for organizing some of campaign's info, however once I started playing around with it, I began to realize this could be a great tool. Since I had a gaming session coming up at the end of the week after purchasing it, I loaded quick links to a number of charts/tables I had also recently purchased as well as entered general info on the campaign lands and some pricing info. When it came time to play, I decided to give it a test run by setting my 3" binder aside and see if I could avoid opening it while using the program. . . It worked great. I was able to call up charts or tables quickly without having to thumb through pages worth of info even with tabs. The time savings the program gave me was significant enough that a couple of my players commented on how much quicker I was able to find things which allowed for more gameplaying. I just wish I had something like this years ago and I plan on getting some of the add on programs later down the road to enhance my GMing behind the scenes. I definitely recommend this to any GM, organized or not.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Keep 1.0 - Personal Information Manager for Gamers
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GM's Software Bundle [BUNDLE]
by Gregory M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2012 18:05:15
It isn't very often that I find software that I really like, and then, when it is offered in a bundle, great!

The Keep is the main reason that I purchased the bundle. NBOS has a demo that you can download and try it out. The software allows you to enter your content, and that can be anything from an image to a pdf, into it's database. I quickly immersed myself into the program, and found it much easier to author and revise my campaign content. You quickly get used to the idea of authoring content in granular topics and hyperlinking them.

Traditional layout programs are useful, up to a point, that being where you add content and the flow gets horribly disturbed. With The Keep you avoid all that. The Keep goes well beyond a normal word processor and allows you to integrate NBOS wonderful Inspiration Pad Pro generators, which allow you to randomly generate content from tables. There is a bit of a learning curve for IPP but the time spent is well invested. The Keep also integrates NBOS other software, some of which is free like the Character Sheet Designer, so you get a suite of usable tools.

I highly recommend trying the demo out in order to find out if this is the campaign management software you've always wanted. In my case, I wish I'd had this years sooner. Users can share their .keep files and import their friends files into their own DB. You can export to HTML, print to PDF, save files out to RTF, and control what secret information is in that output so your players only see what you want them to see.

Fractal Mapper 8 I have yet to fully explore. The demo from NBOS is limited in that you can't save your work. However I was impressed enough while using the demo to consider purchasing the bundle. I am familiar with Adobe Illustrator, and ACD Canvas, and FM8 beats them in price by a wide margin! FM8 can use both vector and raster art. That is, drawn lines and pictures.

I"m very happy with my purchase.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Software Bundle [BUNDLE]
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Fractal Mapper v8.0
by Naomi B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2012 18:59:58
I had a few problems with this product, probably my own ignorance. I could manage the large world maps with the help of the instructions but everything else turned to custard. I couldn't get a small local map of a village or town to form properly and the spaceship was a disaster. There weren't any other instructions to help.

Obviously you need to be more techno savvy than me to work this.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper v8.0
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Fractal Mapper v8.0

01.Fractal Mapper v8.0
02.AstroSynthesis v3.0
03.The Keep 1.0 - Personal Information Manager for Gamers
04.Symbol Pack 1: Campaign World (for Fractal Mapper)
05.AstroSynthesis v3.0 (UPGRADE)
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