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Far West: Amble's Map
by Matthew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2012 15:06:15
I love maps.

Real maps, alternate history maps, fictional maps, game maps. I don't care; I love pouring over them for hours. This map is for a setting that I have barely introduced myself to but it is already proving useful and fascinating. Reading the Tales of the Far West collection of short stories and being able to follow the travels of the heroes, and villains, is a truly wonderful experience.

The map itself is also well put together, it comes with a full version to view on your monitor as well as a multi-page version suitable for printing. The details and cartographic artistry make it a beautiful and seemingly authentic example of the kind of map one would expect from the setting.

All in all, a wonderful little package for any cartographil fan out there.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Far West:  Amble's Map
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Tales Of The Far West
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2012 19:30:54
A very solid offering of short stories from around a very intriguing setting. The mix of Western genre with Wuxia trappings is a compelling one and the stories here show that off in style. Each tale has a sense of that dusty trail with a hint of silk robes. Some of the stories are action and adventure, and some are more character studies with the occasional gunfire and/or kung fu, but whether action or emotion are on primary display in each story the writing keeps you hooked in. Well worth the price-tag and a rollicking good setup for the coming game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tales Of The Far West
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FOE FACTORY: MODERN
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2012 12:51:24
Although I really enjoyed d20 Modern's attribute-based character creation rules, they did exacerbate the preparation problem that all d20-era games had, that it was difficult to quickly create adversary NPCs or villains for the players to face. The Foe Factory attempts to address this while still acknowledging the complicated nature of a lot of d20 Modern systems.

Foe Factory's approach is to focus specifically on things that will be rolled against the player characters, like initiative, attack bonuses, and equipment. The idea is that rather than a full set of stats, what you need is a clear picture of the level of challenge the NPC poses to the PCs.

It jumps right into the technical details with several pages of tables, followed by rules for adjusting NPCs created with the tables to the challenge level desired. The end has several sample characters.

As always with Adamant, the quality of the PDF is high. It's in landscape format, well-edited, and easy to follow. There are no bookmarks, but the length of the work isn't such that they're really needed.

I question whether a PDF is the right format for something like this. This sort of product seems ideal for a foe creation program in Flash or other simple programming language.

Another area of improvement that might be useful is in figuring out what challenge levels to "feed into" the Foe Factory. In other words, how do I decide how tough a particular encounter should be? Some insights or ideas regarding that subject would really elevate this solid work above the pack.

But it is solid and it provides an approach to NPC creation in D20 Modern that's beyond "winging it". If you're looking for that, this is probably the best thing out there.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
FOE FACTORY: MODERN
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Bloodlines: New Options for Sorcerers
by Kenneth A. C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/03/2012 02:58:02
I love playing sorcerers, and in Pathfinder, they have a lot different bloodlines that allow a player to create a unique background. With this short pdf, nine pages of content, the sorcerer gets a whole bunch of new bloodline options. The author is Stefen Styrsky and I've noticed how much he loves to make bloodlines for sorcerers, and fortunately, he does this very well.

Bloodlines presents us with 13 new bloodline options. They are based around various monsters, such as the barghest, naga, medusa, treant and my favorite the lillend. Each of these have some signature abilities that makes it easy to understand the background of the sorcerer, such as the medusa's serpent hair and petrifying stare, or the barghest ability to change into a wolf. I didn't think these monstrous bloodlines would work, but actually, the do! Most of them seem perfectly balanced, but there is a few abilities that seem a little too powerful, like the serpents of the medusa, which each deals 1d3 points of strength damage, and the sorcerer has a number of these equal to his Charisma modifier. It is a level 15th power, so of course it should have some level of power.

Finally, the layout is simple and nice, with a couple of boring illustrations that has nothing to do with the bloodlines. I didn't find a lot of mistakes, which is also a huge plus. However, don't expect anything beyond what the title offers... you get 13 sorcerous bloodlines, nothing more. At this price, a couple of feats and spells would have been nice as well, to build on the bloodlines, so I'll settle for a 4 star verdict.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bloodlines: New Options for Sorcerers
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40 Alchemical Items
by Stephen Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2012 05:33:15
15 and a bit pages of decent alchemical data/help concerning the Craft Alchemy skill.
Some items include: De-icer, Instant Sobering, Liquid courage, Rage gas.
The few bits of artwork I've seen in other PDFs, but the alchemical content is what it's all about.

Well worth the £1.90.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
40 Alchemical Items
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THRILLING TALES Advanced Class Collection One
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/23/2011 21:01:48
Adamant Entertainment's Thrilling Tales has been a top-notch pulp game for many years, whether in its d20 Modern incarnation - as in this collection - or in its current Savage Worlds incarnation. By going directly to the source material - 1930s and 1940s pulp stories, Thrilling Tales has a unique, authentic feel that "neo-pulp" approaches like the Indiana Jones movies lack. It's not afraid to shy away from the weird - period pulps emphasized action and adventure over perfectly assembled plots or deep characters.

The Advanced Class Collection assembles 8 advanced classes from the Thrilling Tales line.

The Mystery Man is a masked crimefighter, who combines combat effectiveness and investigative prowess, the Air Ace is a stunt and combat pilot, the Paragon is a unique Doc-Savage-esque near-superhero, the Mesmerist is a powerful hypnotist, the Mad Scientist, Mastermind is just what it sounds like, the Noble Savage is a Tarzan-esque master of the wilderness, and the G-Man is an investigator who also has abilities related to government backup.

Although each of these are very fun and flavorful, there's a few things to note: first, game balance is not a goal of these advanced classes. The Paragon is just better than any other advanced class out there, which is as it should be - in Doc Savage stories, he really was better than most of his compatriots. The idea is that this would be the central character of your series, and the other characters would be support characters. It's not a problem exactly, but it's something to be aware of.

If there's a weakness to the collection, it's that there's not much attention to integrating the classes into your campaign. While each of them are flavorful and interesting, it is hard to decide exactly how to use them. Some attention to how the Air Ace would fit into a campaign would especially be nice, since plenty of times characters based around vehicles or transportation have a difficult time becoming part of the action outside that transportation. While the Mastermind is mentioned as being a villain, I think it could be interesting to be a Mastermind player character - some incarnations of the Shadow are best understood this way. Developing how these classes affect gameplay would be the best way to improve this product.

In general, if, like me, you use your advanced classes as a way to make d20 Modern campaigns distinct and flavorful - even if they're not perfectly balanced - this product is for you. You might even get some good ideas for character types for your Savage Worlds Thrilling Tales game if you don't have a lot of experience with pulp archetypes.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES Advanced Class Collection One
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Far West: Amble's Map
by Andy G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2011 12:17:22
I have no complaints about this map for the upcoming Far West game. It is full of unmarked spaces in which to carve out one's own stories, and although the environment is mostly desert (as would be expected for the genre), there is still a variety of environment types such as lakes, mountains, forests and rivers. The artwork fits the Far East meets western mashup well, and the story that the map was created by a character in the game gives it a further sense of realism and allows for changes to be made later if needed; after all, he may be inaccurate or have purposefully fudged some details on the map.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Far West:  Amble's Map
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Fell Beasts: Volume Two
by Jeffrey T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2011 23:34:43
Overall, some pretty good beings, especially in concept. A few things need looking over, though: for example, the mer-octopi have an effective straight-line speed of about 200' thanks to a lack of a limit on their "jet" ability. You can certainly mine worthwhile ideas, though.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fell Beasts: Volume Two
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Blood of Freeport
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2011 08:06:50
This adventure is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving 24 pages of adventure, so what's up with this Freeport adventure?

I only recently saw this particular Freeport adventure, as it somewhat has slipped beneath my radar in the 3.5-days of old. Wanting to complete my Freeport collection, I immediately bought it.

This being an adventure review, this contains SPOILERS. Potential players beware.

Set in a dastardly hot summer that has tempers across the city of adventures flare, Blood of Freeport is an unconventional adventure in both its premise and presentation: This adventure has the PCs stumble into a merchant feud between the (almost) equally depraved and hate-consumed Lotharian and Ischern merchant families, being recruited for either side (or serving as double agents) to give the family an edge in the current escalation of the conflict, which, among others, sees a double-cross involving mega-raptors as well as family-specific final encounters. While I did love this rather non-linear, open-ended approach as well as themes like a descent into alcoholism/lost honor etc., this adventure has several problems as well:

First of all, the formatting could have been better - not due to glitches, but due to the fact that the linear narrative structure has to juggle a lot of alternative situations for the PCs: Are they aligned with the Lotharians? The Ischerns? Double-agents? - All these opportunities are accosted for in a steady stream of text, making running this semi-spontaneous rather impossible, something that could have easily been accosted for by better formatting.

On a rules-side, this adventure unfortunately is also not exciting - the henchmen that provide the cannon-fodder throughout the adventure as well as the families per se are rather dull with regards to their crunch. The adventure also features no cartography, which is especially annoying as the finale(s) take place around the families' mansions and no maps are provided. Seeing that the adventure seeks to evoke a secret-agent/family-feud-theme, this lack makes running the espionage action rather hard. The adventure suggests handwaving the infiltration by forcing each PC to succeed on bluff-checks every day, which should pop out as a bad idea immediately to anyone.
Furthermore, while the families are not necessarily despicable, I found a lack of champions/special bodyguards a bit disconcerting.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are ok, while I did notice some glitches and the formatting could be better, it's not enough to qualify this as abysmal. Layout adheres to a no-frills b/w-2-column-standard and apart from the cover-artwork, the interior-artwork seems to have been reused from other/stock sources. The pdf has no bookmarks.
This adventure has me gnashing my teeth for several reasons - first of all, I love the premise and the fact that such feuds/socially-driven adventures are rather rare. However, at the same time, the plethora of options leads to a dilution in quality and crunch-wise, the adventure also falls rather short of its own premise by abandoning an inner-family-strife plot-point altogether, handwaving the central exciting action (the espionage/double agent-story) in favor of dull combats with unnamed henchmen. The climax features a masque and the lack of cartography makes unfortunately for a confusing, hard to run finale. As written, this adventure needs A LOT of work. Additionally, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was supposed to be Freeport's Romeo & Juliet (The subtitle being "love & betrayal"), but was cut down to size, as the "love"-aspect is completely absent from any NPC's motivations. Had this adventure been expanded to the 60+ pages that would have been necessary to make it work and unique with all different options, this would have been an awesome adventure indeed. As written, though, it feels like a hastily cobbled together sketch of an adventure rather than a full-blown installment worthy of Freeport. Oh yeah, campaign-specific fluff is also mostly absent from this pdf apart from some generic nods towards local flavor. While this is in no way a bad sketch, it's also far away from realizing its potential. If you're willing to invest a lot of time, you might consider this a 3-star file. For all others, this is 1.5 stars, rounded up to 2.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Blood of Freeport
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THRILLING TALES: Omnibus Edition
by Txabier A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2011 12:22:26
Quite simple: this is the very best Pulp-inspired RPg on the market today. The engine is modified d20, but fine-tuned to the stunts and technology of the time and style. With lots of add-ons, sure, but this one really has everything you need to start a sound and fun campaign full of two-fisted action and .38 special reasoning.

I heartily recommend it for anyone seriously into Pulp, as it is one of the best researched tomes you will ever find.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THRILLING TALES: Omnibus Edition
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MARS: Savage Worlds Edition
by Asen G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/31/2011 19:05:24
It's a very nice product. The setting rules are a nice addition to the Savage Worlds rules and really fit the genre.
I especially appreciated the Random adventure generator. It waves some nice plots and allows you to prepare a basic plot in minutes. Then you thrust the characters in it, and wait for the action to start. Normal GMing, just made easier.
I also really appreciated the attention to politics between Red Martian cities and other races. Obviously, these give you even more plots waiting to happen. And it's a good thing that the Earthmen aren't totally overwhelming, like they would be in an ERB books. This way, you can have a nice mixed party.
All in all, I have only good words for this product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MARS: Savage Worlds Edition
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UNEARTHLY: Cosmic Heroes
by David J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/08/2011 23:02:48
Contains good advice about how to run games for Green Lanterns and Galactus Heralds or Greek and Norse gods when they're out among the stars. While reading it, I started to think about Azathoth's stats. That means it was hitting the right buttons.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
UNEARTHLY: Cosmic Heroes
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ePublishing 101 - Collected Edition
by Brian B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2011 14:11:37
I picked this book up and it truly opened my eyes to the world of e-publishing. This is a simple pdf; it contains next to no art and its design is no frills. But what it lacks in visual coolness, it makes up in spades with content.

Point blank, if you want to e-publish -- don't hesitate to pick this up.

-Necro/TPK Games

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ePublishing 101 - Collected Edition
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Modern Dispatch (#91): Space Opera Adventure Generator
by Alexie R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2011 21:05:01
Is five page PDF worth the price? The answer is, quite simply, yes! Astonishingly, this product is exactly what it says on the cover: a random mission generator that could be adapted for any system in space opera genre. A few dice rolls is all it takes to get a plotline and with a little bit of effort, you can make your own story seed generator using the example given. Very handy for rules-lite, minimum preparation games.

But the best part is that this PDF gives you a valuable lesson in plot structure that you wouldn't otherwise know unless you took courses in script writing. A welcome cure for writers' block.

Since I got a lot of mileage out of this product, I give it a definite A.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Dispatch (#91): Space Opera Adventure Generator
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30 Character Motivations
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2011 06:47:17
This pdf is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 10 pages of new content, so let#s take a look at it.

We have all seen it in different media: Be it comics, cinema, books or even real life: Motivations that drive us to the point of being driven, principles that can and will not be broken by the respective people and, while constraining, also provide for a tremendous boost in capabilities at the same time, enabling them to endure and draw strength from their particular idiosyncrasies. This is made especially evident in moments where conflicting values between hero and villain or pro-and antagonist collide.
Why is it, then, that these iconic moments happen not too often in RPGs? First of all, there is a disconnection between players and PCs - the first reaction in many an otherwise great round will be to do what benefits the group in contrast to what the character might usually do. While some rpg-groups (Thanks for all the great years, fellows!) manage to transcend the benefits of the group for an "authentic" character reaction, it always leaves a shallow taste, even when XP-rewards are handed out later. There just is no immediate benefit for "driven" characters that adhere to a principle or flaw.

30 character motivations sets out to change that. Being portrayed as 15 pairs of opposable concepts, their mechanics are simple: When conflicted/confronted with a situation that goes against the motivation, a special check of d20+Int or Wis-mod is rolled against a DC set by the DM (guidelines are provided, basic DC is 15) - when successful, the PC can reign in his/her/its urges and act contrary to them. Otherwise the motivation has to be acted out, though not necessarily in self-destructive ways. From loyalty to lustfulness, honorable characters and cruelty - the range covered in the short space is quite interesting and offers something for just about anyone. Each motivation also comes with objects, i.e. concrete triggers: If your family has been slaughtered by goblinoids, you might have your lust for vengeance triggered in the face of these creatures.
Mechanically, the bonuses are not to be trifled with - they offer a higher power-gain than a feat (e.g. Brave: Immune to shaken and frightened conditions, +4 against fear and despair effects and reroll a fear/despair-related save once per day), thus a GM wishing to implement the rules should definitely make sure that situations come up that trigger the motivation to the detriment of the character in order to balance the benefits. On the other hand, the system facilitates e.g. playing characters like a smart fighter or a headstrong rogue.
We also get a new feat that gives you a bonus on the check to reign in the motivation.

Conclusion:
Layout is ok and adheres to the two-column standard. Editing is fine, too and the full-color artworks are also ok. The pdf is short, thus I won't detract a star from the rating due to the lack of bookmarks - at 10 pages the file is easily maneuverable. I should note that the sub-header of the book is "New Traits for Characters", which is kind of a misnomer - this system has nothing in common with the standard traits in PFRPG. That being said, to tackle the system on its own ground, it works, is concisely written and professionally presented. However, as always with systems like that, DM-and player-discretion is advised when using the system to prevent suicidal stunts and balance issues/too frequent character deaths. My only true points of criticism for the system are that a) the motivations and their benefits are not that balanced and that some grant significantly stronger bonuses than others. GM-discretion is advised; and b) we don't get more content - while 5 bucks is not expensive, it's at the upper range of the impulse-buy range. I hope that we'll see 30 more motivations in a future supplement - the concept does lend itself to expansion. My final verdict will thus be a straight 4 stars.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
30 Character Motivations
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