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Crimson Blades: Dark Fantasy RPG
Publisher: Beyond Belief Games
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2014 21:25:17
Crimson Blades is an interesting modernization of Basic D&D, which drops the d20s for a d6 based resolution mechanic. The smaller die size gives combat a more consistent, less 'swingy' feel, and several other innovations distinguish Crimson Blades from other OSR games. Their interesting take on Elves, which owes a little more to Moorecock than Tolkien, well thought out Fighter and Rogue options make this my favorite retro-clone out there.

I also have to commend Beyond Belief Games on making good use of stock art and public domain artwork- they're taking advantage of Sine Nomine's generosity in putting much of their in-game art into the public domain. The designers made some smart choices- though a relatively small company, they were able to put out a great looking, well illustrated game with a minimal art investment. Good for them.

CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Blades: Dark Fantasy RPG
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Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/17/2014 16:03:48
Deep Magic is an amazingly innovative beast of a sourcebook. Deep Magic boasts almost 400 pages of extremely thorough content, including hundreds of new spells, dozens of new ways of wielding magic, several innovative new schools and subschools of magic, as well as pre-generated spellbooks you can toss into your campaign as treasure. Kobold Press has always had really high production values, but the art in this PDF is among the best I've ever seen, from them or any other company.

I hope there's a POD edition of Deep Magic coming soon- I want a copy of this on my bookshelf.
CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
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Scarlet Heroes Art Pack
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/29/2014 15:08:21
Sine Nomine puts out incredibly fun, OSR games and the fact they release the majority of their art into the public domain is an incredible gift to the gaming community, especially other small press publishers.

Scarlet Heroes includes dozens of high quality black and white images, as well as a color cover image and color map. Most of the included images have a pan-Asian flavor; the collection also includes images of some genuinely disgusting monsters and very creepy undead, especially useful for horror games.

I already can see lots of use for these image in my own future releases, and I'm sure the Scarlet Heroes Art Pack will be as useful to other small press publishers.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scarlet Heroes Art Pack
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Solo char: Rogue
Publisher: Shaman's Stock Art
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2014 21:49:26
Like always Anthony turns out great work. His recent run of post-apocalyptic and sci-fi characters have been especially useful, and will be filling out several future products of mine. Good stuff.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Solo char: Rogue
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Stock Art (Sci-Fi/Horror/Fantasy)
Publisher: Wooden Vampire Games
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2014 17:05:38
Great and very usable CGI stock images. I've already used some of the images in my products, and will certainly look for more work from Wooden Vampire.
Thanks for the awesome free art!
CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art (Sci-Fi/Horror/Fantasy)
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The Ninth World Bestiary
Publisher: Monte Cook Games
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2014 17:02:10
Absolutely beautiful product, and one of the best bestiaries I've ever encountered for any game, in any genre. Even if you don't play in the Numenera setting- even if you are not a gamer- there's lots to love in the Ninth World Bestiary. It's got tons of wild creature ideas and beautiful art, and is pretty much a 21st Century version of Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials. It's filled with tons of great concepts that can easily be poached to your favorite sci-fi or cross-genre systems (especially Rifts, Cthullutech, classic Call of Cthullu or anything else). It's an awesome book.

CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ninth World Bestiary
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Cheben
Publisher: Michael LaBossiere
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/28/2013 12:27:25
Cheben is a rather basic adventure. It does very few things wrong, but doesn't do anything particularly imaginative either.

The basic premise of the adventure is there is a rather typical fantasy village besieged by low level monsters: goblins in an old armory, skeletons and zombies out by the graveyard, and some rather neat low-level constructs in an abandoned library.

However, the world, the village and the threats are nothing that even an entry-level GM couldn't come up with on their own. Local NPCs are defined mostly by what gear they have to trade the player characters rather than by personal motivation, and the example dialogue is flat and noninflected. There's no roleplay hooks for any of the local NPCs- they are as emotionless as the townsfolk in an early Final Fantasy CRPG. They have one or two lines of dialogue and a few things to sell the PCs, nothing more.

I would love to see the adventure re-released with expanded personalities and goals for the major NPCs, more villagers to interact with. Even bullet-pointed lists of personality tics or relations with other villagers would go a long way in bringing the villagers to life.

As it stands now, the layout is very clean and mostly legible (though there were some cut and paste errors in the statblocks of the abandoned library's guardians). The pages are sparse though, with only 3-4 pieces of amateurish, 'old school' art scattered throughout. I'm sorry, with stock art as cheap and readily available on this site as it is, there is no excuse for poorly illustrated gaming PDFs.

However, the basic skeleton of the adventure had potential. I'd love to see Cheben re-released soon with corrected statblocks for the library monsters, additional art and a punched up layout, and more NPC depth.

CHRIS

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cheben
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Necropunk Campaign Setting
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/30/2013 14:38:55
One of the best and most imaginative space opera sci-fi settings I've ever seen. Necropunk has a great premise and explores the possibilities inherent within that premise fully. This awesomely weird setting takes the concept as far as it can go and leaves me wanting some more splatbooks soon.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Necropunk Campaign Setting
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DC ADVENTURES Universe
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/17/2013 14:12:48
DC Adventures Universe is easily the best of Green Ronin's DCU campaign guides. More than the two alphabetized character rosters, Universe really captures the feel of the classic DCU as a place of oddities, awesome second string heroes, obscure trivia and wonders. I've barely begun reading through Universe, but I've already discovered some neat things I never knew about the DCU. Universe is a great historic record of the DCU post Infinite Crisis and pre-Flashpoint, presenting fans with a very complete look at the universe as it stood just a few years back. As always, presentation is wonderful, and the comic art used is well chosen and neatly laid out. I'm hoping Green Ronin gives us some more DC sourcebooks in the future. I'd love to see more Legion of Superheros related content, because the 31st Century has enough plothooks for a dozen gaming hardbacks, as well as a second volume of Universe dealing the places and planets of the New 52 DCU.
CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DC ADVENTURES Universe
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NeuroSpasta (FREE PREVIEW)
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/17/2013 17:15:15
NeuroSpasta looks like its going to be an excellent cyberpunk campaign setting, one obviously inspired by great anime like Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed, as well as computer games like Dues Ex. I'm looking forward to the full release. I'm not even much of a D&D 4th fan, but I really like the twists Dias Ex machina has put on the rule set. Just an aside to the authors: lower the opacity of the 'circuit' page borders, please. Those things are so dark they're very distracting.
CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NeuroSpasta (FREE PREVIEW)
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Publisher Reply:
The full game has been released. We'll address the page border opacity with the next update. Thanks for the positive comments.
FUTURE HEROES - Art pack
Publisher: The Forge Studios
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/18/2013 14:59:35
I normally like Forge Studio's stock art, but I'm disappointed in this one. The figures are very sketchy, looking more like warm-up sketches or costume proposals than finished products, and the proportions are off. These characters tiny heads and such huge torsos it's impossible to take them seriously.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
FUTURE HEROES - Art pack
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Spears of the Dawn Art Pack
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/06/2013 13:45:05
An amazing collection of high quality inked images with an African fantasy vibe. If you're a publisher looking to produce a follow up to Nyambe: African Adventures, you could use virtually every one of these excellent, free images. I'll be using tons of these images in my Endara campaign setting, which has a psuedo-African nation as one of the good guy factions.
CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spears of the Dawn Art Pack
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Star Frontiersman #19
Publisher: Frontier Explorer
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/25/2013 14:00:51
Tons of great content for an old school system, including a better bestiary of local alien fauna than most paid products.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Frontiersman #19
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Cheap Stock Art: Sci-Fi Hexes Background
Publisher: 2nd Story Games
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/09/2013 19:39:29
This is one of the simplest pieces of stock art I've ever bought but one that I use the most. Since purchase, I've used this hex art as the background on three different PDF covers, as a printable tactical map for a board game and will be using it, overlaid over some public domain NASA art to make hex maps for an upcoming sci-fi product.

Buy this thing; you'll find a use for it.
CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cheap Stock Art: Sci-Fi Hexes Background
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Scorn (Playtest edition)
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/02/2012 15:16:30
Scorn is an amazing, modern horror game about demon hunting and killing monsters in gruesome ways. It's closest cousin would be White Wolf's classic Hunter: The Reckoning, but Scorn is tons gorier, more vulgar, much more blackly funny, and better organized and with far superior art. Scorn also has some of the best original demons I've seen in a modern horror game.

The only, and I mean only reason I didn't give this puppy five solid stars is that most of the spells are inconsistently named. About 75% of the spells in the game have one name in the fiction and another name in the game rule paragraph above the fluff. It's obvious that the spells changed names during the revision process, and an editing pass didn't catch this.

Fix that one problem and you've got a dead solid perfect, rules light action/horror game.

CHRIS

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Scorn (Playtest edition)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the kind words, Chris! I apologize for the typos. In point of fact, there were way many than I imagined -- I figured there might be a couple, but not this many. I have renamed this PDF the "Playtest Version", because in addition to the typos, a few people have pointed out a couple of system issues. Between that and my insufficient editing, I think it's best to change the name to reflect the partially-complete status of this game. Again, I really appreciate the review! I hope to update the game's text later in the year to bring it up to snuff.
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