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Modern Floorplans: An Average Modern Bowling Alley
Publisher: Fabled Environments
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/27/2013 08:40:11
Hopefully there won't be a brawl next time the party visits a bowling alley, but should something go down you now have a fine battlemap on which to plot out the mayhem.

The alley consists of a large hall in the main subdivided by half-walls into the bowling area itself, a bar/lounge and a games area with arcade machines and pool tables. There is also office space and a desk where bowlers can pay lane fees and rent shoes. The place has front and side entrances, and rest rooms are available. And for the important bit - there are twelve lanes... at full capactity it probably gets a bit noisy here.

There is a single sheet overview and a massive single-sheet 'full-size' version, at the 1 square to 5 feet scale. If, that is, you want squares. By good use of the layers facility, you may have a square grid, a hex grid or none at all. You may also choose whether or not the furniature and text labels are displayed.

If you do not have access to a plotter you can make appropriate selections when printing to print a series of pages to put together to get the fullsize floorplan. A visit to a copyshop is recommended, however, and they've even added a helpful note to reassure copyshop staff that it's legitimate to print the floorplan out for your own use!

Enjoy your next trip to the bowling alley...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Floorplans: An Average Modern Bowling Alley
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Gostor: Skill Encounters
Publisher: First Ones Entertainment
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/25/2013 08:39:41
OK, so what is a skill encounter anyway? Basically one occurs any time you want to use a skill (other than that of waving a sword around or casting spells) with a desired outcome in mind... and others who might prefer that you do not accomplish it. Easy, you say, check my skill list, roll a d20 and apply appropriate modifiers... but do you really want to reduce all the effort that, in the alternate reality of the game, your character is putting into using that skill down to a single die roll which may not work in your favour anyway?

A skill encounter can work like combat, if you use these rules. Instead of a single die roll, several are made - just as most combats last several rounds and involve a whole bunch of die rolls. Several people can be involved too, just as most brawls involve more than two combatants. Whilst it sounds mechanical talking about lots of die rolls, this approach can also enhance role-playing, weaving player descriptions of what their characters are doing with the aforementioned reaching for the dice.

It is a good way of involving everyone in what is going on, as a skill encounter works best as a collaborative effort. Players need to be aware of what sort of things they need to do, and the GM has to be flexible and responsive to whatever ideas they come up with.

From the game mechanics point of view, to succeed in a skill encounter the party must achieve a set number of successes, the number being derived from the Encounter Level set for the skill encounter and the number of player-characters involved. Moreover, each round the party must gain more successes than failures.

Once the basic details of how a skill encounter works have been described, the discussion moves on to detail a format for laying out a skill encounter in your notes. Three examples - besieging a castle, a compacting room trap and a night at court where the aim is to determine which nobles are on the side of good and which are evil - are given to demonstrate how it is done.

This rules addition is nicely presented, clearly explained with good examples - and the illustrations and overall presentation are pleasing to the eye as well, an added bonus. If you want to promote role-playing and all-party involvement, but prefer a solid structure over a looser 'winging it' way of running non-combat encounters, this is well worth a read!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gostor: Skill Encounters
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Raid on the Blackrock Mines
Publisher: Red Pub Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/25/2013 07:35:24
In an area ruled by a despotic princeling, it is best not to catch his attention. But if you do... well, you had best be prepared to demonstrate your loyalty in a spectacular stunt.

Opening with the historical background, provided mostly for scene-setting reasons as it is not of great importance for this adventure but will be in those that follow, the plot begins when the party are noticed by the local Thieves' Guild (which now has quasi-legal status as the princeling's enforcers) as either possible recruits or as threats to their cushy little number - various suggestions are made as to how you can effect this. This is followed by the offer of the chance to serve the locals by clearing out a tribe of kobolds that are causing problems... the sort of offer it is best not to refuse.

The actual adventure, in the main an exploration of the kobold's lair in a deserted coal mine, is presented clearly and with plenty of atmosphere to bring the scene to life. All the details necessary to run each encounter are provided just where you need them, and there is a good variety of things to figure out, traps to avoid, features to notice and opponents to fight.... and there is a surprising yet cinematic chase scene to enjoy!

A wealth of maps are provided, to the level of having the ENTIRE MINE provided as battlemaps... complete with an element of 3D as all doorways are designed to stand upright.

A neat first-level adventure with excellent supporting features, good as a campaign starter or at least very early on, especially if you like the political intrigue in the background. Recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Raid on the Blackrock Mines
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Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/24/2013 07:39:07
Herein is an exciting 1st-level adventure (suitable for 6 characters and possibly best as a one-off rather than part of a campaign) to shake off the effects of a large dinner - assuming that is that you can round up enough gamers over the holidays, here they all vanish until after the new year is in.

The background explains how in the long-distant past ancient civilisations fled advancing ice, but sometimes left treasures behind... and one such has come to light as an iceberg containing it breaks off of a glacier to be set loose in the ocean... excpet that as it floated free, ancient magicks reactivated and instead of drifting off on the sea the iceberg rose high into the air! A long forgotten godling stirs... and pestilence falls on the land beneath.

OK so what does the party have to do with this? It's the time to celebrate the shortest day of the year in a remote village (their home, or just where they happen to be that night) and rumours of disease and a strange glittering shape in the sky soon turn to aweful reality. With the characters being the only adventuring types to hand, it's up to them to deal with the problem.

Imbued with power by the sun-god worshipped in the village, the party needs to chase and then gain access to the flying iceberg - no mean feat in itself as it is some 100 feet in the air! However, several methods are suggested to accomplish this. Once in, there are some interesting and unusual places to explore and a very godling to battle - not bad for first level!

Everything is well-laid out for the GM, with monster stats just where they are needed and atmospheric illustrations and maps to set the scene. It should prove an enjoyable adventure and something to remember, with a seasonal feel that doesn't descend into bizarre appearances of contemporary holiday trappings. Recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return
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Tallow's Tipsy Tales
Publisher: Fishwife Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2013 11:30:15
Ostensibly penned by a bard noted for his enjoyment of alcoholic beverages, here is a fine collection of carefully-developed drinks to have on hand whenever the party drops into a tavern.

Each drink has not only a name but Talloow's own tasting notes, a detailed description of the drink and how it's made and even notes of its origin. Some have magical or medicinal properties as well. There is a section on likely costs and how drink may be supplied which is straightforward to relate to the game system that you are using.

How about a refreshing glass of Bumblebutton's Berry Barrel Beer - a halfling brew infused with the flavour of summer berries, or if you prefer white wine try some Gelf's Golden-White. (Gelf makes several other drinks as well, if white wine is not to your taste.) There's Raldenshyre, a red wine, or Red Scoundrel - possibly the best known vodka. There are some racial favourites from both elf and dwarf suppliers and plenty more besides.

The aim of these is just to provide some flavour during a tavern visit, but it would not be too hard to write a plot around them!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tallow's Tipsy Tales
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[PFRPG] - Fantastic Feats Volume VIII - Bards
Publisher: Ennead Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2013 11:07:59
A nice collection of feats for Bards, aimed primarily at improving their performance skills.

For those who attract an enthusiastic audience there is Anything For A Fan, granting a bonus on all social interaction rolls (bluff, intimidate, etc) neatly mimicing the way in which a dedicated fan is likely to believe what his idol says more readily than they'd accept the same from anyone else.

Then there's a collection of performance enhancing feats which give subtle advantages to some of the more combat orientated elements of performance - countersong, fascination and so forth.

For the flashy and spectactular there's Power Slide, where striking a magnificent chord can propel the bard five feet in the desired direction (or land him flat on his face if he flubs his roll!).

Finally for those who really want to make an impression, there is Shatter Wine Glass. Which does exactly that, and impresses the audience no end (especially if they're of low intelligence) again making them all the more likely to believe what the bard says.

A neat bunch of feats for bards, which play to their strengths.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] - Fantastic Feats Volume VIII - Bards
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Adventure Seed - The Christmas Robbery
Publisher: Christian Hollnbuchner
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2013 10:30:52
Potential excellent, execution flawed... bestrewn through a jumbled outpouring of information there are the strands of a good plot in which to embroil the characters, but it is difficult to tease them out into an organised storyline.

So a bank robbery has taken place... for a start, there is absolutely no indication of why the party should get involved. The limited amount of information that is made public (that the characters could reasonably have access to) is muddled up with details of what was actually going on, likewise the evidence that they can unearth should they decide to start investigating.

The annoying thing is, it is a very good plot... there is plenty of scope for getting characters into all sorts of trouble, with different factions involved and the potential for an interesting news story as well. There's even a good handout in the shape of the local broadsheet newspaper headlines of the robbery to hand to your players. A sensible structure, an introduction explaining how the whole affair comes to the party's attention, then a logical description of what can be discovered and how coupled with the background of what's really taking place and I would be shouting how wonderful this is...

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Seed - The Christmas Robbery
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Tomb of Curses (DCC RPG)
Publisher: Dragons Hoard Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2013 11:31:03
You've heard the one about the sailor with a wife in every port?Well, this adventure starts with a wizard who has a wife in every dimension he's visited... and ends with an extra-dimensional tomb in which the party is trapped. You may prefer to use one-off characters for this one rather than risk the characters that you've nurtured to the dizzy heights of 6th-8th level on this one.

The tomb is the resting place of the eight wives who all predeceased the wizard (some, tis said, by his hand), and they do not rest easy. Powerful women, they reach out, infusing the legendary artefacts of the wizard and tampering with one is the way to enter the tomb - to escape it again the party needs to collect various artefacts belonging to all eight wives and complete a ritual.

Little is provided by way of hooks to get the characters involved in the adventure. There's an in media res battle with a giant, apparently the last defender of one of the wizard's artefacts, with the assumption that the party will defeat him, grab the artefact and... find themselves elsewhere. You may wish to play through the entire artefact hunt (especially if weaving this into your regular campaign) or have another idea entirely.

The actual Tomb itself is mapped out and described well. It is very much a 'puzzle dungeon' - if you or your players do not care for such things, find something else. Most of the puzzles are pretty deadly and clues to solve them are limited (I'm finding many hard to figure out even with the book in front of me...), you may wish to add clues or allow the players to roll for hints. Plentiful use is made of random tables and teleport spells, it can all get quite confusing... but played in the right spirit, this has the potential to be a blast, a fun adventure (provided you are not too attached to your character).

The illustrations are glorious, however, many looking like mediaeval wood-cuts. There's a lot to explore here, a lot to do... never a dull moment indeed... this dungeon may not be for everyone but for those who like this style of adventuring it will prove memorable.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of Curses (DCC RPG)
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Master Nicholas and the Wayward Wizardy
Publisher: Silver Gryphon Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/21/2013 11:03:52
It is Winterfeast in Summerfort, a time when the calm chill of winter is enlivened by ten days of feasting and merriment. Only there's something evil stirring in the nearby forests and Master Nicholas, the wisest wizard in town, wants the party to go out into the snow to investigate.

This adventure is based around exploration, but there are combats to be fought and puzzles to be solved with a culminating moral dilemma that will make the characters consider the very nature of being a hero.

It opens dramatically, with a frantic local pleading for help to rescue his daughter from 'monsters' - a task which of itself should be simple enough but which brings the characters to Master Nicolas's attention and the main part of the plot develops from then on. Once out in the woods, it soon becomes clear that all is not how it ought to be...

Everything is clearly if loosely presented. There are no maps for the forest, just encounters which need to happen if the adventure is to be brought to a conclusion. All the information you'll need to run each encounter is provided, however, making it all quite straightforward to run the adventure. There are one or two places where a little proofreading would have improved things, but it is possible to discern what is meant.

Overall it is a nice winter-themed adventure to keep a party occupied, and several ideas for follow-on adventures are provided. Whilst it is written for the Ingenium RPG, if you are happy providing the necessary rule mechanics it would translate well into most fantasy games.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Master Nicholas and the Wayward Wizardy
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FP12 - Raiders at Fargone
Publisher: Adventures in Filbar
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2013 08:35:15
A neat adventure that could be run stand-alone but which is well-embedded into the area with lots going on - much of which could lead to further adventure - so works well as part of a campaign. If your adventures are not in Filbar, you may wish to amend a few names but it ought to be relatively easy to find a suitable location in your campaign world.

A plot hook is given - a spot of bounty-hunting - to get the party heading in the right direction, up into the mountains towards the remote settlement of Fargone. Whether they take that bait or have some other reason for going there, once they arrive there are good thumb-nail pen portraits of some notable inhabitants - plus, of course, plenty of notes for the DM about what is really going on!

As well as wandering monster encounters suitable to the mountain terrain, there are a tomb and a cave system to explore and some bandits to fight as well as resolving either the bounty hunting job (or at least, getting clues as to where next to go) or whatever other reason the party has for being there - plenty of action to keep the characters entertained. They ought also to be able to help the inhabitants of Fargone to reopen a mountain pass and renew trade links with a seaport on the far side of the mountains.

The adventure is supported by some basic maps and even a few photos of appropriate snowy scenes. It is a good, solid, traditional plot with hidden depths. Recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FP12 - Raiders at Fargone
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Starships Book I00I00 : Heavy Yacht
Publisher: Christian Hollnbuchner
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2013 10:54:01
This work introduces a quite fascinating starship: the Trilobite-class heavy yacht. Noted for heavy armour and shielding, it's designed to be able to make close approaches to stars and enter heavily-irradiated areas... and all to provide new thrills for jaded nobility and other persons of wealth!

A second use is suggested - black ops insertion - as the vessel is quite stealthy even if it does not bear weapons. It also seems to me that research scientists might find it useful, provided that they work for a university or other institution with very deep pockets, as this is not a cheap starship - over 600 MCr.

Because of its intended clientele, the interior is luxurious and the crew includes several stewards to cater to the passengers' every whim.

As well as backhistory of the type and full statistical details, there are several exterior views and a deckplan (although for some reason the bridge is buried in the centre of the ship when there is an ideal 3-seat area in the upper level to the front... I think I'll remodel the layout in mine!).

Certainly an interesting starship to encounter, or even to use with a party interested in exploration - or luxurious adventuring!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Starships Book I00I00 : Heavy Yacht
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The Great Game [ICONS]
Publisher: Fainting Goat Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/18/2013 07:19:29
Truly cosmic in scale, this epic work takes superheroes out of their neighbourhood and onto a galactic stage. In the introduction, we meet the Prometheans who have written the history of the universe page by annual page in a book that stands 820 miles thick and which seems to have a life of its own! Their goal is to bring civilisation to the teeming inhabitants of the universe... and found human beings both a challenge and of great potential. For they proved easy to modify, and formed the core of the Janissaries, the Promethean's loyal troops... but not all were biddable enough and these were left behind. Of such seeds are today's superpowered individuals born.

Out in the black, struggles rage on, and this is the Great Game of the title. Where and how will humans become involved? The local powers to Earth are described and mapped, and these details are followed by a wealth of advice on running a cosmic campaign. Your first choice is to decide if aliens come to Earth or some folk from Earth venture forth to encounter aliens... both options present plenty of potential for adventure and are, of course, not mutually exclusive. Examples are given from the history of comics as well as within the context of the universe as postulated for this work.

Both factions and individual aliens are presented in detail, plenty of resources here with which to create your own campaign, and the descriptions are peppered with ideas on how to utilise the individuals and factions described, giving plenty of direction without becoming too prescriptive. There's a lot of intrigue out there and it is well worth thorough study to embroil your characters in at least some of what is going on.

There is great scope for adventure here, if your party dares to enter the universe-spanning conflict between the Greater Bright and the Greater Dark. However, there will be work to do before the universe is ready for them: this book is replete with ideas but you will have to create the actual adventures in which they will participate. But for those prepared to put the effort in, epic campaigns await.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Game [ICONS]
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HT 1 - The Perils of Cinder Claws (DCC)
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2013 09:10:54
Many TV shows like to have a 'Christmas Special' and if your gaming group is the same, this is a good book to pick up so as to indulge them... and it has TWO adventures so if you are lucky enough to actually have some gamers around (my local group always vanishes over Christmas), good times may be had.

The first adventure is The Thing in the Chimney, a low-level adventure ideally suited to a 'funnel' horde of 1st-level characters or to smaller numbers of higher-level folk. It's a bizarre dream-like caper in a weird world, an alternate dimension perhaps, in which the party comes across a great hall in a freezing northern land on the longest night of the year. Mix in a sentient fruit cake and a map that bends reality (before you have scoffed any alcohol-laden fruit cake!) and you can see why I call it bizarre... but fun, something completely different to regular gaming yet providing a gaming 'fix' over the holidays. It could even prove an amusing diversion for non-gamer family members, as the holiday theme makes it quite accessible to someone unfamiliar with role-playing.

The second adventure is The Nexus of Yule and it's aimed at a regular party of 3rd-level characters. This again has bizarre and interdimensional aspects due to Cinder Claws, who appears in both adventures but is the instigator of this one. All manner of strange events await the characters, including a brawl between rat-people and toy soldiers, animate figgy puddings and a surreal conversation with Cinder Claws once you meet him. Again one to enjoy with a tongue-in-cheek approach.

This kind of thing may not be to everyone's taste, but if you are willing to let go and enter into the holiday spirit, there's fun to be had!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HT 1 - The Perils of Cinder Claws (DCC)
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Medical Drug Generator
Publisher: Ennead Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2013 05:54:43
If you play a medic in a contemporary or science-fiction game, but don't happen to be one yourself, it can be quite hard to sound convincing... so here's a handy system to generate likely sounding drugs and derive their uses, side-effects, etc. Likewise if you GM such a game and want to expand on what can be a quite limited list in your chosen ruleset, this will be of use.

Basically, the product consists of a wealth of tables which cover everything from how legal the drug is to how it should be administered, how effective it is and what side effects it may have, as well as a rather nifty name generator that enables ready creation of the tongue-twisting monstrosities of names that adorn most packets of pills. However, there are notes on how to come up with a shorter 'use name' for the drug that you have created, as most of the time if you say the full name, the patient will have expired before you can administer it!

The one thing that isn't covered is what condition the drug is supposed to treat... no doubt this will be the topic of a future 'generator' book. Until then, cobble together a few symptoms and call it the 'plague' or the like.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Medical Drug Generator
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Publisher Reply:
Hiya, thanks for the review, allways appreciated. :D Just a small correction - What the drug treats is under the \"Conditions/Side Effect\" section - they both use the same chart. Although it just lists the basic problem not the full condition
Hero Kids - Adventure - Yuletide Journey
Publisher: Hero Forge Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2013 05:36:11
If you are looking for a pleasant activity to entertain youngsters during the holidays, this is worthy of consideration - a fine introduction to role-playing using the Hero Kids ruleset (which you will need to run this adventure) that is appropriate to the season.

It is a nice combination of interaction and combat that should keep everyone happy and involved, and deals with some of the myths and legends that revolve around this time of year. Whilst the text involves meeting Odin-Father, you may - especially with younger children - choose to call him Santa instead.

Everything is laid out clearly, with atmospheric 'read aloud' text, maps and all the details you need to run encounters. It could be an ideal way to entertain children whilst introducing them to the role-playing hobby - you could even, with care, use it to introduce older people to role-playing as it recreates the wonder of the time of year as seen through children's eyes, something many adults enjoy recapturing.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hero Kids - Adventure - Yuletide Journey
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