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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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NPC Arsenal No. 4: Kitsune Mistress of Manipulation
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2013 11:15:17
Occupying but a single page (so handy to slot into your game notes...), this presents an 8th-level NPC, a Kitsune Mistress of Manipulation (just why the product page says 'Mistress of Enchantment I'm not too sure!).

The character is definately a schemer, but can be shaded towards good or evil as you wish. She might be a spymaster or other court intriguer, rather than a criminal mastermind or thrall to some dark deity. A detailed stat block is provided as well as plenty of background notes.

Interestingly the first part of the notes explains the thought behind the build of this sorcerer kitsune. As well as showing you how she was put together, the rationale makes it possible to make intelligent changes as required to suit your needs.

There are also some tactical notes, although to be fair this character is not one for whom violence is a preferred option. She'd rather hire or otherwise manipulate others into engaging in brawling on her behalf or to further her ends, than do it herself! Yet should the distasteful need arise, she's perfectly capable of defending herself.

A neat character, just the sort of person you could imagine spinning intrigue and plots throughout part of your campaign world.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
NPC Arsenal No. 4: Kitsune Mistress of Manipulation
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Execution Corner
Publisher: GM Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2013 10:45:47
In mediaeval times (indeed, probably later) executions were regarded as public entertainment as well as a warning to potential offenders, so this product equips you to present them in similar manner within your games.

Just pick a rural but reasonably settled area in your campaign world and plop this in. There's a charming hand-drawn map showing the execution site, with the hangman's dwelling and an inn nearby, with a field in which the remains are buried. Just schedule an execution on a day the party comes by (or, knowing some characters, they may be more intimately involved!) and let the fun begin.

Described simply yet vividly, we meet Willem the hangman, who takes pride in his work and gets really passionate on the subject of rope, and a couple of locals who peddle their wares on execution day. The innkeeper too, who does fine with passing trade but reckons any hanging is very good for business.

Apart from a few rumours (local superstitions for the most part) that's it. A location, an interesting one, but you will have to supply your own adventures... but here's a unique location in which to have them.

Perhaps the party has been tasked with getting there in time to prevent the hanging of someone who has been condemned by mistake, or they are escorting convicts on their final journey. Or they are just passing through, but someone approaches them for help... the possibilities are endless.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Execution Corner
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FT - Arcanum College
Publisher: Adventures in Filbar
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/14/2013 08:46:23
This is a charming 'setting' book which describes not only Arcanum College but the township that has grown up to serve the needs of both mages and visiting adventurers. It could prove an ideal base for a party, or at least somewhere to visit to obtain jobs and supplies.

The work is replete with vivid descriptions of the people and places to be found in the township of Cordicstown (but could use a proofreading, there are some muddled sentences and unclear bits). Visiting adventurers can find just about anything that they need here, and there are several locations where those in need of adventures go to hire them. There are also establishments catering to the needs of wizards, especially students at the college. These include a wand-maker and a store that specialising in providing familiars - there's a delightful pen-picture of second year students lining up across the road from the shop to cast their spells, curious as to what creature will come out to bond with them!

Both the town and college are mapped out, and there are a few photos as well, supposedly of the nearby Keep (in the grounds of which stand the college) and the town streets.

It's all quite delightful, well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
FT - Arcanum College
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The Secrets of the Divine: Pantheon, Love, Sky, & Wright
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/13/2013 10:46:48
This is a delight for anyone who wants to make religion an important part of their campaign world, rather than merely regarding deities as sources of divine power for clerical spellcasters. Each of the four faiths presented has been written up with a whole bunch of flavour and detail, so that characters choosing to follow that faith are equipped with the information that they need to portray a devotee appropriately, knowing what they believe and how they should conduct themselves... there are even snippets of sacred texts to quote at apposite moments!

First up is the Great Church of the Pantheon, a NG aligned faith that venerates all the deities in heaven equally. Perhaps they are hedging their bets, or maybe they see that any being acknowledged as a deity is equally worthy of worship. They welcome those who worship a single god, or who pick the most appropriate deity for their immediate needs, and have one quirk: no god is ever adddressed or spoken about by name. Like any well-established religion there are differences of opinion amongst the faithful - and from experience I can say that this can lead to some memorable role-playing when characters of different views start arguing about religion in the middle of a game!

The Great Church of the Pantheon offers a prestige class, the Deacon, open to the non-clerical faithful. As well as full details of this class, there are copious notes on beliefs, mythology, holy days, religious orders (including a paladinical one) and something called a Divine Vessel, an individual who becomes an avatar with some quite spectacular powers.

Next up is Our Fairest Lady of Love and Song, a CG deity ideally suited to bards and artists. Again there is a wealth of detail to enable you to bring this faith to life and to empower those characters who wish to become devotees. There are feats, religions orders (this faith is well suited to cavaliers) and other useful notes.

Similar treatment is given to Our Father of Star and Sky and to Our Grand Wright of Heaven. Each becomes a distinct, living faith that you can easily imagine being practised somewhere within your alternate reality. Pick one or two, or use the lot... it is this kind of detail that makes your campaign world really come alive.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Divine: Pantheon, Love, Sky, & Wright
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100 Nightmares
Publisher: Lee's Lists
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/13/2013 10:19:40
Neat way of winding up the characters... every so often, when someone falls asleep, roll your dice and pass them a note: the poor dear has had a nightmare. If you occasionally slip in something apposite to the adventure, they will get even more paranoid every time they dream...

"You wake up in a panic and do not know why. You are afraid to fall asleep again." Most of us know that feeling in real life, how would you react if it happened to your character?

Or this: "You must give a public speech naked."

Some of the options are quite disgusting. A few refer to technology such as TVs, but it's a trivial matter to switch those out for items appropriate to the genre of your game.

A nice way to mess with your players' heads.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
100 Nightmares
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The Manual of Mutants & Monsters: Infected Zombie
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/13/2013 10:08:57
If you like superhero games but have a hankering for some zombie action (or wondered how a superhero would deal with a zombie horde) this is worth a look.

Starting off with a couple of rules additions that are used later, the product then dives straight in to outlining what they mean by 'infected zombie' - it is, of course, the classic movie zombie that is out for your brains having been reanimated after death through the actions of some infective agent, supernatural cause or disaster. The mechanics are presented as a template which you can apply to whoever you decide has falled victim to whatever is making zombies in the first place. There's also an alternative template - the 'lasher zombie' - which has the remarkably disgusting habit of lashing out at opponents with its own intestines, attempting to entangle them.

Examples of both kinds of zombie are provided with full stat blocks, as well as notes on the infectious nature of zombies. Don't let them bite!

Finally, if you are in search of how to use zombies in your game, three adventure ideas are presented. You'll have to flesh them out, but two are suitable for a single adventure or a whole campaign (especially if the threat is not dealt with promptly in the initial adventure), the third is a campaign idea in its own right.

Braaiinnns! All I want is brains!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manual of Mutants & Monsters: Infected Zombie
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The Fallen Tavern
Publisher: Assassin Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/13/2013 06:09:23
Rather a neat and at times claustrophobic adventure that takes some of the common tropes of fantasy adventuring and twists them into something new. How many times have you started a game with a bunch of well-armed strangers meeting one another in an alehouse and setting off to risk life and limb together with scant reason for doing so? This adventure starts with a bunch of well-armed strangers meeting in an alehouse but turns everything on its head to meld them into a real party with reasons for sticking together... and as such makes an idea campaign-starter as well as an interesting adventure in its own right.

The inn in which the adventure starts is well-detailed with a fair few interesting locals for the characters to interact with, and it is a prime opportunity to mix in rumours and seeds of any adventures that you have planned for later on in your campaign. Much of the suggested interaction is designed to facilitate character introductions - someone who asks loads of questions about their pasts and the like - which also fits with the campaign starter model.

And then events take an unusual turn... the inn subsides in a massive landslip that leaves the characters trapped underground, apparently the only survivors, and have to find their way out through many dangers to the surface again. The actual collapse could be better described (just imagine an earthquake strong enough to do structural damage), although the 'characters waking up afterwards' is nicely done. A good dungeon crawl ensues.

Everything is well-described and there is a clear map for the DM. Even better, there's a page-full of suggestions for further adventures based on what the party find in the depths as well as a selection of wandering monsters to complement the ones situated permanently in the various subterranean chambers they explore. There are also a collection of traps and some quite unusual treasures that you may distribute as you see fit. For the botanically-inclined, there is a section of 'random flora' that you can place as appropriate - some of them are quite interesting - and there is also a write up of a minor deity.... and the full stat blocks for everyone/thing that will be encountered.

As a starting adventure, this one has it all. Recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fallen Tavern
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Urban Dressing: Sages
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/12/2013 09:51:40
Sometimes the party will come into town in search of information, sometimes there are questions to be answered... and one often-neglected resource is the sage. Too often characters wander aimlessly around whilst their players make 'Gather Information' checks and just assume that the information they seek will pop out at them. Now let their inquiries lead them to the source of some quality information: a sage with appropriate knowledge.

The first table has suggestions for suitable housing/offices for local sages, with separate sections for the exterior appearance - to use as the party arrives - and the interior, for once they get inside. This is all flavour, window-dressing, but it all helps make your sages sound like they are a integral part of the community rather than something you've just thought up when the party suggested visiting a sage.

The next table is quite interesting - rumours that the party might pick up about the sage as they roam the town seeking information or perhaps looking for where the local sage lives. Many of these suggest possible side-adventures to embroil them in...

The final table is one of hooks, complications and opportunities - all further grist to your adventure-devising mill - and there's a subtable to see if the sage is busy, out or has time to consult with the party.

But there's more, a collection of fully-developed sample NPC sages all ready for you to use.

Overall, a treat is here, a way to make information gathering an integral part of the game rather than a few die rolls followed by an info-dump from behind the GM's screen.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Sages
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Megan! I much appreciate it.
Oracles of Porphyra [PFRPG]
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/11/2013 10:24:56
This work contains a neat collection of oracular items relating to Purple Duck Games's setting of Porphyra - but even if you are not basing your game there you will find material of interest and use to any Oracle's player (or indeed their GM..).

First up is an archetype, the Deadmagic Oracle. These have their origins in areas of the land where there is little or no natural magic; indeed where magic - arcane or divine - fails to work, even magic items won't operate there. They function by twisting the lack of magic to draw upon their own innate abilities to mimic the spells and powers that other oracles display... and whilst it's open to their players to explain to the GM how they can create whatever effect they please, it may not always work even if it does at all. Only Revelations of the Exceptional Ability work for them, so pick your Mystery with care!

Next there's a goodly collection of new oracle Mysteries to browse through. Whilst these are related to the deities of Porphyra, it is reasonably straightforward to retool them to work with your pantheon of choice. The Apocalypse mystery sounds quite fun, complete with fire and brimstone, or you might prefer the Sigil mystery, which delves into this strange habit of writing things down... Then there are location-based mysteries, perhaps you like deserts and would like to be an Oracle of the Shifting Sands or one of the Wasteland.

Finally, there's a complete sample Oracle character in full detail, stat block and all. He's taken the mystery of the Apocalypse and is described thus: Ragged and gaunt, yet with a fervor in his cloudy eyes, the man approaching stabs a finger at a book he carries, claiming “The End is Near!” He could make a fun encounter, if nothing else.

It's nice to see an attempt to embed a class into the setting in which you are playing, but as mentioned earlier, most of the material here is almost as useful even if you don't use Porphyra.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Oracles of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2013 10:57:23
A simple introduction to role-playing suitable for little children - but equally capable of captivating the young at heart irrespective of age - this product reduces everything to the very simple yet retains the essential charm of role-playing: you as character, and something going on around you to which you can respond.

The concept is simple, the 'graduation exercise' from a village's basic combat training class that all youngsters are required to take. Cut-down rules contain the basics of rolling dice to hit and to damage monsters, and blows dealing points of damage subtracted from a monster's (or character's) total. Instead of initiative, monsters and then characters take turns to act (just moving around the table to determine order as far as characters are concerned). The action takes place on a simple board, showing starting locations of the monsters. Counters are provided for characters and monsters, and each has simple basic stats laid out.

And the sketch of the young red dragon is just sweet!

Although it looks as if it were thrown together quickly, it is deceptive in its simplicity. If you want to introduce youngsters (or anyone else for that matter) to role-playing without getting bogged down in a full-blown ruleset, this could serve as a good starting point... and it comes at the right price!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod
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Battlemap : Stilt Houses
Publisher: Christian Hollnbuchner
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2013 10:36:36
It's a charming setting and looks a lot warmer than the UK in December... perhaps that's because such stilt houses are popular in the far east.

The scene is simple, a cluster of houses linked by walkways in a shallow lake ('cos big waterlilies like the ones to be seen only grow in shallow water), with a few trees along the shoreline.

The cover illustration shows the location more clearly than the actual battlemap, which is of course in the standard top-down view so all you see is the house roof rather than the more interesting bits underneath (open-sided airy rooms and of course the stilts).

It could certain prove an interesting and unusual setting: perhaps a rebel force has holed up here, or some drug runners... or it may be a pleasant vacation spot for the party!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Battlemap : Stilt Houses
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Pixel Dungeon: Holiday Horrors
Publisher: Octopus Apocalypse
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2013 11:09:58
If you are planning some seasonal mayhem on your tabletop, these might be appropriate miniatures to use.

In a distinctive slightly blocky style (OK, pixellated!) you have the choice of arctic goblin warrior and mage (a 'cryomancer' no less) who come standing or mounted and look a little bit like Smurfs, a frost wolf (who can come with saddle or barding or just in his fur, and serves as a mount for the arctic goblins), a dire penguin, a gingerbread golem, a snow golem (think animated snowman) and a gorgeous giant snowflake snow elemental.

The instructions supplied are clear and easy to follow. You do need to provide some bases (Octopus Apocalypse sell these separately).

The real gem is the way you set up what sheets of miniatures you want to print. Sheer mastery of PDF technology (I'm still trying to figure it out!) lets you pick not only which miniatures you want but also their arrangement on the sheet.

So a festive brawl or just some nice paper miniatures to decorate your desk, these will do quite nicely!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pixel Dungeon: Holiday Horrors
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