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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #4: Hribixul, Memnech, and Quasi-Dragon
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2009 12:10:54
The fourth in the series of Monstrous Menaces maintains the quality of the previous three offerings. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical details that all add richness to the game without overworking the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref.

The hribixul is a great wilderness monster that will be a challenge for any party of adventurers. The memnech is less likely to be used as a random creature, but gives the GM/DM/CK/Ref a nice creature to when a campaign needs direct interaction by otherwise distant and removed deities. The quasi-dragon is similar to the pseudo-dragon in name only--the quasi-dragon being a large, primitive dragon-like creature (maybe the missing link between large reptiles and the dragon?).

The monsters are setting neutral--despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will have a set of monsters that are usable in almost an campaign setting. And, despite the Castles & Crusades template, can fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal work.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #4: Hribixul, Memnech, and Quasi-Dragon
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #3: Akhlat, Oogloog, and Woodwose
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2009 10:39:15
The third is the series of Monstrous Menaces does not disappoint. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical details that all add richness to the game without overworking the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref.

The previous Monstrous Menaces monsters were setting neutral--despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will have a set of monsters that are usable in almost an campaign setting. And, despite the Castles & Crusades template, can fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal work. I'm not sure that I can say the same with these three creatures in Monstrous Menaces #3. We still get the same attention to detail as in the previous Monstrous Menaces releases, but I am not sure that any of the three of these creatures could be useful in every campaign. However, for those looking to add something unusual to their game, these creatures fit the bill.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #3: Akhlat, Oogloog, and Woodwose
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #2: Blade Dancer, Goblin, and Tharghûl
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2009 10:07:22
The second is the series of Monstrous Menaces does not disappoint. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical details that all add richness to the game without overworking the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref.

My personal favorite was the recasting of the goblin. There is a lot of great information here that is directly useful at the gaming table and will help distinguish the goblin from otherwise similar creatures, such as the orc and kobold.

The monsters are setting neutral--despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will have a set of monsters that are usable in almost an campaign setting. And, despite the Castles & Crusades template, can fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal work.

Well done.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #2: Blade Dancer, Goblin, and Tharghûl
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #1: Gharlidh, Grulnosc, and Rocktopus
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2009 10:01:02
It may seem a bit strange to pay a buck for three monsters, but Monstrous Menaces #1 is well worth its Extra Value Menu price. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical combat details, plus little extras like alchemy uses for body parts, all of which give the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref plenty to use without doing more work.

The monsters are setting neutral; despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will have a set of monsters that are usable in almost an campaign setting. And despite the Castles & Crusades template, these creatures will fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal effort.

Well done.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #1: Gharlidh, Grulnosc, and Rocktopus
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Towers of Adventure Wizard's Tower
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/06/2009 03:37:08
I could take issue with some of the editing (change shelf - a fearsome spell indeed), dimensions of the tower and exactly what breed of creature the villain is supposed to be, but for the price, it delivers very much what the description promised, with some degree of subtlety.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Towers of Adventure Wizard's Tower
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Towers of Adventure Wizard's Tower
by Mark S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2009 02:31:10
There's nothing here. The great map described is four circles on a piece of graph paper with a couple pages of text.

Things I liked: I think the cover looks interesting and it certainly promises something.

Things I Disliked: The absence of a Wizard's Tower described on the cover.

This should have been a free product, guys.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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StarSiege Introductory Manual
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2009 09:36:28
This work, originally released for Free RPG Day 2008, begins with an Introduction which points out just how wide-ranging the definition of 'science fiction' can be, and announces that this is a ruleset that can be used to present whatever sort of science fiction you want - pulp, cinematic or grittily realistic. After briefly explaining what an RPG is, it goes on to explain the core mechanic of the system which is based on that used for Castles and Crusades. It's a quick and simple task resolution system based on comparing the character's skills with the task he is attempting, setting a target based on his appropriate skills and the difficulty of what he wants to do, making a single D20 roll and applying any modifiers as needed. Unlike many games, opposed rolls are rarely used as the difficulty of the task includes any opposition that the character may face!

It moves seamlessly on to describe the sorts of modifications you can make to the roll depending on such variables as how hard the task is, environmental factors, the equipment you have available and a whole load more. Naturally, it also looks at combat - including a range of actions that you can take during a brawl - and the inevitable aftermath of injury and healing. Next comes some fairly generic rules about equipment, including technological level, size, and reliability. Each item, whatever it is, will have certain properties including these over and above its actual functionality. This is followed by some basic listings of common science fiction kit, including weapons, armour, vehicles and other useful bits and pieces.

Next come characters themselves - how they are created and described in game terms. A nice touch for a science fiction game is that each character has a 'Tech Score' which reflects the level of technology with which he is most familiar - more primitive or more advanced technologies may prove hard or even impossible for him to use. There are also something called Nova Points, which can be used in several different ways to bend events in a character's favour - from ensuring an automatic success at a single task to keeping him alive when that last blow should have sent him for a dirt nap... or even to attempt something that would normally be impossible!

There are also some general remarks about the sort of skills a character might have, and how they can be used (with promises of more in the main rules...). It all rounds off with some NPCs, and sample characters laid out on character sheets.

While this gives a good introduction to how this game works, there is not enough here to actually sit down and try it out. At the very least, you'd have to come up with an adventure for the sample characters to play... This could be used to introduce prospective players to the ruleset, so that they can at least some idea of how the system works before the game begins.

Probably actually worth three and a half stars rather than four, due to the lack of a sample adventure, but as the rating system doesn't allow that I'll err on the side of generousity: after all the ruleset is good!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
StarSiege Introductory Manual
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Castles & Crusades: 100 More Calamitous Curses
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2009 17:55:15
This is grand fun, exactly as advertised, 100 curses that range from the goofy to the horrendous. No layout bells-and-whistles, nothing to distract, and quite well-written. Each curse has a full description, though some are quite simple. Good job for what it does.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: 100 More Calamitous Curses
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #3: Akhlat, Oogloog, and Woodwose
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2009 17:36:44
As advertised, this is a brief stat block and description of three Castles and Crusades monsters. Though there is little enough detail and no bookmarks, the brevity is right for the price and the monsters seem interesting. Certainly I know I'd be happy to stab them!

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #3: Akhlat, Oogloog, and Woodwose
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StarSiege Introductory Manual
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2009 08:55:41
This is an interesting adaptation of the C&C game system. I plan on getting the full product asap.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
StarSiege Introductory Manual
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Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/27/2009 16:26:44
Castles and Crusades is on my top 5 rpg list. The designers of the game have really done a great job in capturing that old school feel in a modern day package.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
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Castles & Crusades: 100 Exciting Encounters — 1st Level Encounters
by Zachary H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2009 22:42:41
Look, if you spend your time looting ancient dungeons for magic items and pissing off evil wizards, chances are as an adventurer, you're going to end up with a curse bestowed upon you at some point.

As a Game Master, it can often be difficult to come up with different or original curses. James Mishler's and Adventure Games Publishing's 100 Calamitous Curses solves that problem by delivering precisely what the title suggests: 100 curses to entertain, hinder, and cause mayhem for your campaign.

The curses are ostensibly designed to be used with Castles & Crusades, but like other AGP products, they are easily usable with any number of both d20-related, older D&D versions, and retro-clone titles. Mishler's characteristic entertaining writing style (with a decided swords n' sorcery bent) shines through, and he does an excellent job of making each curse unique and engaging. Here's just one example:

"64. Curse of the Life Leech: Whenever the accursed one heals damage, the nearest friend, ally, or neutral being suffers a like amount of damage. If cured by a spell, usually the friendly caster suffers the damage; if healing through bed rest, the nearest person loses a similar number of hit points regardless of distance!"

Ouch! Most curses are appropriate for a general-audience sort of group, but there are a few that have to do with childbirth and sexuality that GMs who run younger folks through their games want to specifically consider before using. Still, I believe the product will be quite helpful to a wide range of gaming groups.

Coming in at 12 pages, this pdf normally retails for $2.50, but at the time I write this, It is on sale for only $2. Either way, if, like me, you have a GM's Binder or use a laptop for some of your pdfs, you'll want to make sure this great value finds its way into your collection. It's the sort of short, handy pdf I love as a GM, and so long as James Mishler keeps making 'em like this, I'll keep buying 'em.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: 100 Exciting Encounters — 1st Level Encounters
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Castles & Crusades Monsters of Aihrde IV
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/31/2009 09:36:18
There is a lot of potential when it comes to creating monsters. Not only can you create something that will thrill in combat, but you can also create something that can have a real impact out of combat. A monster's ecology, behaviour or society can often play an important role in the grander setting and can be pivotal in any campaign world. I'm a firm believer that monsters should be something more than just statistics on a page, and that there should be some sort of ecological balance which they form an integral part of. Every monster should have a purpose and a reason beyond what is dictated by its statistics, but at the same time its behaviour and ecology should be reflected in its combat behaviour.

Monsters of Aihrde IV is a short 7 page pdf containing 5 monsters for the legendary world of Aihrde (as first publishing by Troll Lord Games in their Codex of Erde). This product is the fourth in a series of four which aims to revise and update the creatures from Aihrde and provide several new ones. In the light of what I wrote above, this product does a grand job of providing creatures that fit the bill in terms of ecology, setting and behaviour. Monsters of Aihrde IV is designed for the Castles and Crusades system, although can be modified for other rule systems by modifying the mechanics.

This product comes as a single pdf file. The presentation standard is very high and professionally done, with some gorgeous artwork by artists Mark Allen, Jason Walton and Peter Bradley. The cover art of the mogrl is particularly impressive. The product contains an excellent cover, informative credits and information page, and 5 pages of content. There are no bookmarks, but that doesn't really matter for such a short pdf. Writing and layout is excellent, with some really descriptive text and excellent details on each of the monsters contained in the product. Overall, a top quality presentation from Troll Lord Games.

Monster of Aihrde IV contains five monsters from the world of Aihrde - the eshchl (realistic demi humans), the io-topek (apemen), the mogrl (a powerful demonic creature), the sarab pool (magical, living pools), and the ceeana olgdonberg (powerful horse-like steeds). Each creature is presented with complete statistics for Castles and Crusades, detailed descriptive information on ecology, society and role in combat, and lastly a section on the creature's history and place in the world of Aihrde. The details are fascinating in places, and really give you a sense of the creature's role and place in Aihrde, and the descriptions do a good job of providing a vivid image of what the creature looks like beyond the artwork in the product.

I found this product presented these five creatures really well. I think the level of detail is just right, and allows room for creativity while at the same time giving the creatures a firm footing in one's imagination. At the same time, however, while the details are excellent, I'm not sure that the uniqueness of the creatures is the best. In the product we have a typical demi human, a humanoid creature based on an animal, a demonic/devilish creature, a sentient pool and a stronger breed of horse. Despite the concepts perhaps not being the best, the details themselves, and particularly how they fit into the campaign setting, make up for the somewhat weaker creature ideas. In a way, these are more creatures re-imagined for the world of Aihrde, than unique creatures in their own right.

Overall, I found this to be a good product. I loved the details provided on each of the monsters, and the thought that had gone into making them slot into the campaign setting. The presentation is top notch, both the writing and the artwork. While perhaps the concepts of each of the creatures weren't the best, I think the way in which these concepts are used in the setting makes up for this slight weakness in the pdf. Good product that one can get a good amount of use of, irrespective of setting or rule system.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters of Aihrde IV
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Castles & Crusades PDF1 Encounters: Bands of Orcs
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/04/2009 05:54:25
One of the beautiful things about the 3.5e OGL system is that publishers and fans were allowed to modify and change the system to spawn a variety of variants. And the majority of these variants are fantastic games, such as Mutants and Masterminds, True20, Iron Heroes, Arcana Evolved and Castles and Crusades. The latter presents a simple and elegant system of resolution that streamlined gameplay for those that wanted to escape from the complexities of the OGL. This product, Encounters: Bands of Orcs, is a short supplement for Castles and Crusades, presenting a series of versatile and adaptable orc encounters to throw at your party of characters.

Encounters: Bands of Orcs is a short 7 page pdf file written by Davis Chenault for the Castles and Crusades system. The presentation and layout of the product is fantastic, particularly for such a short product, and a high standard of professionalism is evident in the product design. A great piece of artwork by artist Peter Bradley is included, and the cover features and neat design to kick off what will presumably be a series of products. Interior writing and design is good, with clear written descriptions and concise summaries of the various encounters in the product. Overall, an excellently presented product with high quality standards from Troll Lord Games.

This product presents 7 different orc encounters that can easily be inserted into any campaign or adventure. The product is aimed at those Castle Keepers that require an on the fly encounter or perhaps those that are too busy to make the required preparations. The encounters come with complete descriptions of the nature of the encounter, the mechanical details and statistics of the creatures involved, detailed treasure and equipment listings, and lastly a series of useful plot hooks to expand the encounter and give it more meaning, motivation and purpose. The encounters are suitable for a variety of different levels, using encounter levels from 1 to 6, but very easily scalable individually beyond what they're designed for.

The product starts with a brief introduction to the product and its aim and purpose. This is followed by a useful introduction to orcs, orc behaviour, orc combat tactics and other useful bits of information on orcs. The background introduction provides a better sense of direction and purpose to the combat encounters presented. The seven combat encounters presented are: orc raiders, orc hunters, orc warriors, orc miners, war party, orc shamans, and lastly a complete war band encampment.

Along with all the details on each encounter, the product provides adventure hooks to guide you in using these encounters and particularly in thinking beyond the combat encounters. These adventure hooks are phrased as a series of questions to get you thinking about motivation, background, and purpose for each of these encounters. In a way, the encounters are more like mechanical encounter templates, and the Castle Keeper needs to fill in the meaty story and plot details to flesh things out. This is both a good and a bad thing, depending on the requirements of the Castle Keeper at the time. The pdf concludes with some useful suggestions for orc names in the event, for example, that an orc gets captured.

Like many similar products for various systems on the market, the utility of this product largely depends on the needs of the individual GMs. Band of Orcs provides enough flexibility to cater for the majority of those, but not really for those GMs that require an out of the box encounter, complete with plot, motivation and story. Sure, that can be gained by working through the adventure plot hook questions, but that naturally requires extra work. Overall, the mechanical details of the product are logical and neatly organised, but I wish the adventure hooks had gone slightly beyond the norm. Asking a question such as 'Why is the raiding party here?' does not necessarily lead one in any useful directions. Perhaps if the product had actually answered some of those questions in the adventure plot sections with creative and inspiring suggestions, this product would've impressed more. As it is, it's impeccably presented, well written and certainly useful, but I expected perhaps a little more in creating interesting, fantastical, and memorable encounters.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades PDF1 Encounters: Bands of Orcs
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Castles & Crusades: 100 Calamitous Curses
by Dominique C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/03/2009 10:17:16
A very useful DM's help, with lots of ideas that could be used as they are, or altered on the spot as the DM sees fit. Just note that although it is a Castle & Crusades supplement, you can use it witth any other "old school" game, such as AD&D, OSRIC, BFRPG, Labyrinth Lords, and even others.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: 100 Calamitous Curses
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