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Ambient Environments - Druid Ceremony
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2014 18:16:45
This may be one my favorite tracks from Gil Luna yet. The pulse of drums, twittering of birds, ambient vocals, and other audible elements of this track deliver a feeling of awe, sacredness, and nature. Admitting the influence of the track's name, I can easily picture myself at Stonehenge or some other circle of standing stones, looking on while druids do their thing. I also like this track just for listening; earlier today I had it looping for over an hour while I worked on another project, and it never became distracting or boring.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Druid Ceremony
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks Chris! Glad you enjoyed it. Forest of the Fae is similar in that context as far as listenability goes. Thanks for all of your reviews. It helps me see where I can make improvements and do! Cheers! ~g
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules
Publisher: Chaosium
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2014 16:57:45
As someone who's always wanted to play Call of Cthulhu but has never really had the opportunity, I very much appreciate these quick-start rules. They're also a nice "holdover" for players waiting for the 7th edition to ship (which hasn't happened yet, as of this review). Be forewarned, however, that you won't be able to use these rules to play much other than the included adventure; they don't really contain enough for a keeper to devise further adventures using just the quick-start booklet. That adventure, by the way, is written both for new players and new GMs; as an RPG veteran but CoC newbie I thought it hit the mark rather well. The layout is a bit "Microsoft Wordy" and I noticed at least one missing word in some of the read-aloud text for "The Haunting," but these are fairly minor blemishes on an otherwise fine product. It's not a complete game, but you can get at least one good night of gaming out of it, at no cost. I call that a win.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules
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Pro RPG Audio: Haunted Mars
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 15:01:53
This loop evokes a mysterious, barren, windswept plain. You could be standing in a Martian desert; you could be standing in Egypt next to a broken statue of Ozymandias. There are some strange noises in the background that add to the sense of wonder and mystery; I suppose these might imply a haunting. Whatever they suggest to you, the track is very effective at setting a "haunted" (either literally or metaphorically) mood in a desolate place.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pro RPG Audio: Haunted Mars
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Pro RPG Audio: Black Mud Swamp
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 14:45:25
How do you know this soundscape represents a swamp, other than the title? Mainly from the buzzing insects. The mud is implied by occasional "sticky" footfalls. Why is the mud black? Well, because the title says so, and because it's nighttime, as you can tell from the crickets. Unlike most of Plate Mail Games's background loops, this one also has touches of "music" in the form of sustained, relatively high-pitched tones. The sound is sometimes almost like an electrical hum. These long notes add a touch of mystery, making this an excellent loop to play under any swamp scene, such as (but not limited to!) a visit to a black dragon's swamp in a fantasy RPG or the Louisiana bayou in Call/Trail of Cthulhu scenarios.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pro RPG Audio: Black Mud Swamp
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Pro RPG Audio: Fantasy Medieval Battleground
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 14:38:29
Clashes of swords and shouts of warriors resound through this battlefield, implying a rather large number of combatants. What makes this a *fantasy* medieval battleground is the fire-breathing dragon (or inarticulate fire giant, perhaps). Very effective and enjoyable.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pro RPG Audio: Fantasy Medieval Battleground
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Pro RPG Audio: Superhero Hover Fortress
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 14:14:54
Once you get over the misspelling in the track title and realize that this is not about superheroes hanging out with vacuum cleaner salespeople, you can appreciate the track for what it is: a fine background soundscape for the control room of an orbiting superhero base. I think I've heard of at least one decidedly courageous team with one of those.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pro RPG Audio: Superhero Hover Fortress
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Pro RPG Audio: 1890s Train Station Platform
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 14:10:01
In this loop you can hear almost everything you'd expect to hear on the titular 1890s train station platform: train brakes, bells, whistles, turning wheels, puffing bellows. There's only one thing missing, and it's a fairly significant oversight: people. Where are the passengers? The conductors? Judging by the apparent number of whistles and trains, this would seem to be a fairly busy station, but there's no crowd noise. There might be a faint hint of footsteps now and again, but they're so faint I had to turn the volume up fairly high to hear them, and they didn't imply more than one or two people. I wouldn't want to hear distinct conversations, of course, but more evidence of a crowd on the platform would make this a five-star track.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pro RPG Audio: 1890s Train Station Platform
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Pro RPG Audio: Deep in the Jungle
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 13:52:33
The worst thing one can say about this loop is that it seems misnamed. The soundscape actually puts one in mind more of the aviary at a zoo than the deep jungle. When my son heard it, he actually thought it was my bird-sounds morning alarm sounding. The key shortcoming in the track, relative to its title, is the fact that you hear nothing but birds. Where are the monkeys/apes? The reptiles? The mammals? And most tellingly, the sounds of wind and animals acting on the foliage? If you're looking for a soundscape for a scene set in a deep jungle or rainforest, I would suggest looking elsewhere. But this track would make fine backing for a trip through an elven glen, a bird sanctuary, a lively but lightly wooded forest, or the aforementioned zoo.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pro RPG Audio: Deep in the Jungle
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Pro RPG Audio: Villain's Spaceship Bridge
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 13:31:37
This loop is very unobtrusive—perhaps even too unobtrusive, if that's possible. I would describe the sensation more as a derelict spaceship bridge, barely functional, than a villain's spaceship bridge. A bed of white noise is interrupted occasionally by twittering sounds that might remind you of R2-D2 or a Star Trek communicator pin's chirp, and that's pretty much it. I don't hear a bustling villain's lair; I hear a ghost ship. Reframe the expectations set by the title and you get a good track for playing under a scene of exploring an abandoned (or haunted) spaceship. Think Ripley aboard the crashed ship in "Aliens," not Spock aboard the Narada in "Star Trek."

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pro RPG Audio: Villain's Spaceship Bridge
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Pro RPG Audio: Steampunk Zeppelin
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 12:47:28
I'm not altogether sure how you'd know this soundscape was supposed to evoke a zeppelin if not for the title. But maybe that's actually a strength in this case, because it means that the loop isn't locked into just one use. There is a steady background thrum that does sound vaguely like a propellor; otherwise, the ambience consists mainly of ticking clockworks. That makes it useful for many different types of situations where the adventures are in or near any number of clockwork contraptions. (If you're not familiar with this series of background loops, be forewarned that by design there is no music here, just sound effects.) Finally, a quick proofreading note to Plate Mail Games, the "P" in "steampunk" shouldn't be capitalized.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pro RPG Audio: Steampunk Zeppelin
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Abandoned Carnival - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2014 12:37:58
A noticeable but unobtrusive sound of wind, as if from a fan, sits at the base of this track, as it does so often when Gil Luna wants to convey a sense of abandonment or desolation. The sounds of creaking metal and rhythmic thumps suggest the “carnival” atmosphere. I was already “primed” to envision a carnival by the title, but those sounds really do make me think of an empty roller coaster, Ferris wheel, or similar ride—empty and stuck in an endless loop. Which means there’s either live electricity or some kind of mystical motive force around here somewhere. Soundscapes like this one inspire me to want to set RPG encounters in the locations they suggest, thereby earning my highest ratings.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Abandoned Carnival - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Ambient Environments - Ghost Town
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2014 12:26:12
What would you expect a ghost town to sound like? Wouldn’t it be practically silent, since it has been abandoned? This track somehow manages to make that desolation audible. The track consists essentially of the dull sound of a constant wind, lightly accented with an occasional low “thrum” or breathy “moan” and crackly/chittery sound that makes me think of tumbleweeds, but that’s probably the track name imposing itself on my imagination. It’s spooky and nonintrusive, setting the mood without drawing attention to itself.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Ghost Town
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Ambient Environments - Haunted Forest
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2014 11:21:45
This track should probably bear the title “Outdoors in a Thunderstorm” instead of “Haunted Forest.” The cries of ravens (or a similar bird) punctuate the sounds of a thunderstorm throughout the soundscape. Only the ravens, though, imply any kind of “haunting” or, for that matter, any kind of “forest.” This could just as easily be a thunderstorm in a prairie wheatfield. If you’re looking for sounds of ghosts or spirits or whatever, look elsewhere. But if you reframe your expectations, you can put this track to great effect under a scene where travelers are caught in a thunderstorm in a desolate area frequented mostly by scavenger birds.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Haunted Forest
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Ambient Environments - Zombie Lab Outbreak
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2014 16:20:21
I’m really not much into zombies, but I could definitely imagine using this track during an RPG where zombies, genetically-engineered monstrosities, overly intelligent chimpanzees, or whatever escape from a high-security biocontainment facility. Any kind of modern horror game might find a use for this soundscape. Be forewarned, though: it’s noisy. A claxon sounds throughout, glass shatters, trapped people (?) pound on metal doors, and the zombies or demons (Buffy) or whatevers occasionally growl, grunt, or screech. The screams are presumably the zombies’ victims. I think there are even some fire extinguishers being fired off about halfway through. But that’s what happens in a zombie lab outbreak, isn’t it? One relatively minor technical complaint: the track name was encoded in the MP3 as “ZedLabOutbreak” rather than “Zombie Lab Outbreak.”

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Zombie Lab Outbreak
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Ambient Environments - Haunted Mansion
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2014 16:05:54
It’s raining when you enter this haunted mansion, judging by the crashes of lightning. Breathy sounds, spooky near-voices, creaky floorboards, rattling chains, and a scream or two punctuate the rain. The track is great for any haunted house scene. That scream I mentioned keeps it from being near-perfect, though. Distracting and it might come at just the wrong time at the gaming table. Otherwise, fantastic.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Haunted Mansion
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