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Henchfolk & Hirelings
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2015 13:55:03

RPG System: Pathfinder Converting to d20: Effortless

This book contains a collection of 100 NPC's that can serve as henchfolk and hirelings for your PC's adventuring group, and some notes on how to use them in your campaign.

The book begins with a brief introduction of the leadership feat in d20, and why it isn't very useful to most groups beyond the one main cohort gained. It then describes playing "old school" games where henchfolk and hirelings were an integral part of the adventuring group, and how this book is an attempt to update the older henchfolk and hirelings system to be usable with Pathfinder.

There is a page devoted to the various methods of recruitment based on town size, method and other modifiers. I found the recruiting system to be well made and ready to use. DM's will be pleased to find random tables to let them generate applicants by alignment, class, race and even alphabetical by percentile. This is a very useful feature for DM's who are randomly generating applicants! There is a page devoted to the process of interviewing, pay and upkeep, adventuring with and dismissing of henchfolk and hirelings. I found the information to be weak and not well detailed. The modifiers on interviewing seem to be very generalized (for example, not every applicant or employer will get negatives for interviewing with a different or non-standard race) and will need some customizing to your particular campaign. I also disliked that the payscale was represented as a flat monthly fee, with no regard for the work done. I don't think it's fair to the employer or the employee that accompanying an adventuring group into the "caverns of endless despair" merits the same payscale as staying behind and guarding a base camp. I will be creating my own system based on expected hazards and danger as well as duties expected.

The NPC's are pretty straightforward - listing their name, alignment, gender, race, class, attributes, appearance, background, personality and mannerisms. That's it - no statblocks (yay!).

The NPC personalities are system-less except for their character class and their attributes. They can easily be converted to d20 (or most any other system) with a minimum of effort, as all hirelings are standard races and classes.

While I appreciated the many different tables made for generating random applicants, I felt that the section on interviewing and pay needed a bit of work on the DM's part to fit with the campaign. All the NPC's were well done, and they were detailed personalities ready to walk into your campaign word and interview with your adventuring group with a minimum of work on the DM's part. I consider this a useful book, and several of these NPC's will be appearing in my game as applicants to the PC's in the near future.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Henchfolk & Hirelings
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Robin. I\'m delighted you found the book useful! I hope it enhances your game.
101 Npc Grudges (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2015 13:51:49

RPG System: Pathfinder Converting to d20: Easy to moderate Series: The counterpart of this book is the previously published 101 NPC Boons.

This book offers DM's creative new ways to have NPC's react to a grudge against the PC's in ways that are in keeping with their position and abilities. Inside is a selection of various types of NPC's, sorted by the locations the PC's may meet the in - for example, city guards, upper/middle/lower class, wilderness, nautical, etc. When a PC mistreats or otherwise offends any of the various NPC's, the NPC may decide to hinder the PC with a grudge. A guide or explorer who provides incorrect directions or omits the dangers of known monster lairs, a priest who offers the PC's shelter or sanctuary when they are being pursued - then drugs their food and informs on their whereabouts to the pursuers, and a toll collector who informs on the PC's movements and known equipment are all examples of situations where a PC could find themselves hampered from offending an NPC.

Most of the book is nearly system-less, as a NPC scribe in Pathfinder vs D20 vs GURPS usually doesn't need stats to interact with PC's or to hinder them with their connections. There are 3 NPC's for Pathfinder within, and all were created using other 3rd party products by this publisher. If you are playing another RPG system you may be able to use their backgrounds as-is, but you will need to convert their statblocks, and probably their races and classes as well.

I like the idea behind having NPC's more empowered to hinder the PC's when they are mistreated or slighted. I think it encourages players to role play interactions with the NPC's that may sometimes be taken for granted, and to take more care and be conscious of how the NPC's perceive their characters. Sadly, this book is nowhere near as good as it's counterpart - 101 NPC Boons. I suppose that's to be expected, as the books were written by different authors. I was left with the impression that this book was an afterthought, made to "cash in" on the success of the previous book. There's a few good ideas in here, but I wasn't terribly inspired to use anything in my game. Overall, I was disappointed it wasn't as good as 101 NPC Boons was.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
101 Npc Grudges (PFRPG)
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Treasure Chests
Publisher: The Forge Studios
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2006 00:00:00

I bought this expecting to get a book of unique and interesting treasure chests, readily usable in any fantasy setting. I was very disappointed.

The 5 chests you'll read about are: a starfish chest, a chest of leaves, the golem chest, the tower chest, & the cathedral like chest. Unfortunatly, the nice artwork does not make up for the rehashed and rather uncreative ideas within. Really now, a nicely designed chest that summons a guardian creature is something I could have come up with on my own thanks, and saved the 3 bucks.

While a mildly interesting read, these chests are terribly impractical for ... well, most everyone really. I can't imagine any PC or NPC in a fantasy game world setting actually making or using these silly things. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Nicely done artwork <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Content was pointless, impractical, and generally useless to me.

Spelling errors abound through what little text there is, such as "The Deva is connected with the relict as the genie from the Efreeti Battle."

The two page, side by side page layout is annoying to read and view on smaller monitors.

To print the same artwork again, on a seperate page without the descriptions was really just space wasting filler. There wasn't much useful information in the brief descriptions anyway, so seeing the artwork twice was annoying - it's a way to make it look like there would be more useful content when there really isen't.

There is nothing in this PDF I will be using in my game - the ideas and information in it were useless to me. I regret paying for this PDF, and I won't be buying anything from this publisher again.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Poor<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Ripped Off<br>



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Treasure Chests
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Fantasy Community: Applehaven
Publisher: Dark Quest Games
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/23/2006 00:00:00

This book is 15 pages long, and there is little artwork within - it's mostly information from cover to cover. It's a generic fantasy setting that's not system specific, so the descriptions aren't stat blocks but rather more detail on the info of the businesses and people in the area, right down to their spouses and kids. The people in town are well described and have personalities instead of stat blocks. The businesses are well detailed, and "make sense" with the setting. It's also noted which businesses are most dependant on outside trade and which are more community specific, and I found that helpful in prepairing possible side adventures. I also liked that there is a empty storefront/home available for purchase ... adds an interesting option for players who might wish to establish a more permanent base.

I'm really happy with this book. It will be seeing use in my game world, and I am pleased it will require almost no effort to just "drop into" my game setting. It was a good value for the money.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: plug-n play ease<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Community: Applehaven
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Fantasy Community: Swampwoode
Publisher: Dark Quest Games
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/23/2006 00:00:00

The third book in the Fantasy Community series, Swampwoode is bigger then Applehaven but smaller then Riverport. It's also in a more dangerous (swampy) area, so most of the threats to the town come from without, rather then from within. Nasty things do come crawling out of the swamp sometimes.

This book is 11 pages long, and there is almost no artwork within besides the map - it's mostly dense information from cover to cover. Swampwoode is a generic fantasy setting that's not system specific, so the descriptions are details on the info of the people and businesses in the area, right down to their spouses and kids. There's no stat blocks here, rather there's suggestions of how to adapt things to your world and game system - like suggesting what kind of God/dess you might wish to select for the town's temple, based on the history and outlook of the cleric there. The people in town are well described and have personalities instead of stat blocks. The businesses are well detailed, and "make sense" with the setting. It's also noted which businesses are most dependant on outside trade and which are more community specific, and I found that helpful in prepairing possible side adventures.

Did you ever notice how many pre-made settings never have any buildings for sale? Not so here - there's a empty building in town available for purchase. I think it makes the town a bit more realistic, and it also adds an option for players who might wish to establish a more permanent base. The building is two stories tall with a chicken coop, and can be used as either strictly as a large residence or to convert the downstairs into a shopfront while keeping the upstairs living space. (Interestingly, my players bought the building for a family they had rescued from the last dungeon crawl. The family was the last survivors of a scaked town who had no place left to go home to, so the PCs helped to establish them in town.)

I'm really happy with this book. I was pleased it required almost no effort to drop into my game setting, and it was used immediatly in my game world. It's become a place my players visit frequently. It was a good value for the money.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Community: Swampwoode
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Fantasy Community: Riverporte
Publisher: Dark Quest Games
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/23/2006 00:00:00

The 2nd book in the Fantasy Community series, Riverporte is the largest community in the line so far. Unlike peaceful Applehaven and dangerous Swampwoode, most of the threats to Riverporte come from within.

This book is 40 pages long, and there is almost no artwork within besides the map - it's mostly dense information from cover to cover. The cover and the map are seperate pdfs. Riverporte is a generic fantasy setting that's not system specific, so there's no stat blocks here. The descriptions are details on the info of the people and businesses in the area, right down to their spouses, kids and pets. The people in town have names but not races, allowing you to easily alter the population to be of varied races as would fit your campaign world. The businesses are well detailed, right down to the stock of the orchard's cider and the menu at the inn. It's also noted which businesses are most dependant on outside trade and which are more community specific, and I found that helpful in prepairing possible side adventures. There's a bit of active criminal elements here, and your players would be wise not to cross them. Though their reach isen't far, in the town they have significant influence. There's two retired adventurers in town, a wizard (location 60) and a bard (location 61). The wizard has set up a small wizards college.

Like all the books in this series, there's some empty buildings in town available for purchase. There's an unused guard tower (location 45) which might make a good building for a wizards tower, if a PC was looking to establish a lab and take some downtime off to create a few items. Theres also a three story abandoned building for sale (location 66) which has fallen upon some disrepair, that could be fixed up nicely to a storefront or a large manorhouse residence. You could probably comfortably house a whole adventuring party in that building. Another abandoned building (location 70) is not as large or in as good repair, but is priced to sell. There's also an abandoned farmstead (location 86) in poor repair.

I'm really happy with this book. It will be seeing use in my game world, and I am pleased it will require almost no effort to add to my game setting. It was a good value for the money, and I look forward to more books from this series.

<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Many towns I've seen were just a collection of NPC's, but something I particularly like is the people of Riverporte have actual ties to each other - you find out who's son married who's daughter, and how the families feel about each other. It really has the sense of being a community.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Community: Riverporte
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Hussle
Publisher: 12 to Midnight
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/23/2006 00:00:00

A great little adventure in a small town where things are not as they seem, and are about to heat up in unplanned ways. Some neat new ideas that were great fun to run.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hussle
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Character Options: Commoners
Publisher: Emerald Press
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2006 00:00:00

A well done exploration into the non-adventuring common folk, Character Options: Commoners explores the NPC classes in detail. The 5 standard NPC classes adapted to be a bit more playable, plus 3 new NPC classes are added. In addition to giving your NPCs depth, it also allows your players to play the NPC classes in a new and interesting way. Balancing power levels is done in some very interesting ways - with a system of 'rewards' allowing further character customization, and through negative level adjustments. Great ideas there, but not as fleshed out or crunchy as I'd have liked to see them detailed. Still, a great overall coverage of an often ignored topic. If you ever thought about having your PC's begin as common-class folk, this is a great resource for you. There's also a section on mixing PC class adventurers with NPC class commoners, for example as a sidekick, hireling, or rescued person.

I was very pleased with this purchase. The information was well written and well organized, and will be immediatly useful in my games. Well worth the money.

Important Note: other reviewers have mentioned that the ebook has no bookmarks or table of contents. My copy does have bookmarks, so perhaps it's been updated since their reviews. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The book focuses more on guidelines then hard-n-fast rules, making it easily customizable and tweakable for your specific world-setting. Mixes crunchy mechenics with game advice without being boring. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Character Options: Commoners
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0one's Blueprints: The Great City
Publisher: 0one Games
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2006 00:00:00

This pdf is a collection of city maps - it contains an overview map of the entire city, and more detailed maps of each of the 6 districts within. I think this is a great fantasy city, very customizable to your own world-setting. Very useful, and it will be seeing use in my games soon. I'm pleased with the purchase, it was well worth the money.

Notes: The back cover mentions that each ward will get it's own book in upcoming months, further detailing the city. It's mentioned that other wards might become available later to exchange with the current wards, allowing the city to be customized further simply by changing a ward out - by removing dock ward and replacing it with another ward, you no longer have a coastal city. I look forward to seeing this, to make the city even more unique.

<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
0one's Blueprints: The Great City
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The Bookshelf Stuffer, Vol.11
Publisher: Dark Quest Games
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2006 00:00:00

This ebook contains 20 summaries of various non-magical, mundane books for your players to purchase, get hired to recover or find in a treasure. This particular Bookshelf Stuffer contains massive volumes of massive information, what I presume to be the "coffee table books" of the fantasy role playing worlds. And volumes of lore they are! From "Abbalik's Tome Of Minotaur Ritual And History" to "Naughty Nymphs, Whorish Harlots, And Dirty Damsels", your players will find some new and interesting reading material here. Most books are described in apperance as well as content, which is a nice growth from the earlier books in the series which did not often have such detail.

I feel this was a good price for the content, and it will see use in my games. I'm happy with my purchase.

<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: I like that it's generic enouigh to be usable in any fantasy setting, yet easily customizable to add authors or subjects specific to your own fantasy world-setting. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Bookshelf Stuffer, Vol.11
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Fantasy Holidays, Vol. 4
Publisher: Dark Quest Games
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2006 00:00:00

A plug-and-play collection of generic fantasy holidays suitable to add to most any fantasy setting. There's a wide variety of celebrations and holidays for every race from humans to centaurs. All holidays are universal and non-world specific - yet they are easily adaptable to any game setting. You can easily customize these holidays to your world, or run them as-is. I plan to run "Lich's Gathering" as-is, since one of my players is a necromancer and I think they would find such an event very interesting. On the other hand, I loved the idea of "Blue Foot Day", but I find it fits perfectly with our Goddess of winter and will be altering it slightly to make it more of a religious holiday.

Another perk is I now have a use for that oft-ignored d30! The next time my players wander into a town, I plan to use it for a chance that the town is celebrating a holiday. :)

I found the ideas and information in this book useful in my games, and I will be adding some of the ideas here to my game-world. I'm pleased with my purchase, it was a good value for the money. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Holidays are very adaptable to any fantasy setting, and ready to run right out of the book.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Holidays, Vol. 4
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Athenaeum Arcane: Festivals, Fairs, and Holy Days
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/12/2005 00:00:00

In this book you'll find 5 different festivals, each leaning more toward a horror bent then a fantasy one. A few festivals have some interesting backgrounds, but every one of the "adventure hooks" was universally awful.

This book was : not interesting, not inspiring, not useful, and most importantly - not worth what I paid for it. With a significant alteration, I may take bits of one of the festivals and adapt it for use in my games. I found no entertainment value from the read. Not a good value for the money, and not anything I would find useful.

A book from your local library of medieval festivals and holidays would be more useful.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Taken alone, some of the ideas for festivals weren't too bad. But they weren't anything I'd call unique, inspiring, special or creative either.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The recycled, uber predictable "adventure hooks" which are either so cliche as to be laughable (the dark mysterious figure who is always the evil villian and must be stopped by the PCs), or the outright railroading of the PCs (2 of 5 adventures frame the PCs to get them involved.)<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Athenaeum Arcane: Festivals, Fairs, and Holy Days
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Athenaeum Arcane: Letters
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/12/2005 00:00:00

From love letters to betrayl letters, they're all here - some very good plot hooks and ideas are found within these letters.

Don't be mislead by the tital though. They're all in text format - to actually make these into player handouts will require some layout work on the DMs part. For those disappointed that they aren't "ready to print" letters, you can find freely available parchment pages and fantasy fonts here. http://www.vaughanvisual.com/RPG/DM/DMResources.html Sadly, you have to do the letter layout yourself - the book only provides the ideas.

Good plot ideas, good campaign flavor. I'm happy with both the entertainment value and the usefulness to my game. A good value for the money. Glad I purchased it. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Plug-n-Play: It's easy enough to change the names of a few people and cities to fit these letters into most fantasy settings. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: It would have been nice if the book had actual letters you could just print out and hand out to your players.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Athenaeum Arcane: Letters
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Shards of the Heart
Publisher: Tabletop Adventures, LLC
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2005 00:00:00

This is a great collection of interesting NPCs, most with a romantic bent to them. All the characters have B&W artwork to show your players, so they'll know who they're talking to.

The ebook's description is accurate that the NPCs don't depend on stats to be interesting. Altering them by several levels in either direction is easy, because their personalities is what makes them stand out - not their stats or their equipment. I find that most characters are well written in thier backgrounds, and sometimes in their motivations. Still, on a few I feel their motivations could have been better fleshed out. Instead of telling me that Jean-Claude will flirt shamelessly with female adventurers at every oppurtunity, tell me WHY he's doing that, WHAT he hopes to gain from it, and WHERE he eventually wants to go in life. Any DM can create a hottie stablehand who's a flirt and give him a name, but since I'm paying for premade detailed NPCs I'd like to know MORE about why he's acting like that. When I have to answer such basic questions as character motivation and goals, I also have to ask myself why I am paying cash for this product. Another downside is that the book's very poorly organized -- the NPC's are only listed by name, so if a DM is looking for a half-elf or a druid NPC to add to the game quickly, they'll have to waste time flipping through 93 pages or trying to remember their name. With a bit of forethought the "bookmarks" could have been better arranged to include the characters alignment, race and class instead of just their name - now THAT would have been a real timesaver!

While I am rating the book "acceptable", overall I don't feel this book was worth the money I paid, and I got it on sale. To be a good value for the money, the product would need to either lower the everyday price or add more detail about character motivations and goals.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The NPCs come with premade character sheets in seperate pdfs for easy printing - that's a helpful timesaver for a rushed DM who has other things to do besides copy stats. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: THE FILLER!!!!! :GRRRRRR: There's nothing noted in the ebook description that indicates that almost 20 pages of the 93 page book is taken up by someone's "short story". And I don't mean a "detailed character history", I mean a story - painfully described in space wasting detail are a few points that could have been summed up in a paragraph of character background, leaving more room for useful relevant content. Ugh. And it's right in the middle of the book too. What an annoyance. I was very annoyed and dissappointed by the inclusion of the "story". I feel the space it wasted would have been better used to add more NPC characters, or to better detail the motivations and goals of the NPCs already in the book. This would have been rated a 4 without the needless, unwanted 'story' filler.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shards of the Heart
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Publisher Reply:
While we cannot please every customer all the time, we can do something about organization. As of 12-10-05, a revised version of this product is available which includes bookmarks by race/gender and class/level, as well as name. Anyone who purchased this product is eligible to receive a free update to the revised version. The fiction piece at the end of the book is an example of developing a romantic relationship between a player character and an NPC. The author graciously included detailed write-ups for the main characters in the story, to allow other game masters to use the characters in their games. Since this is an e-book, this additional material was exactly that ? an addition, and did not replace any other material that might have been included.
Renowned Figures - Bebil Rout, Component Broker
Publisher: Primal Urge Games
by Robin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2005 00:00:00

Another great NPC from the "Renowned Figures" series. I found Bebil to be a very interesting character. From his start in a family trade of 'questionable moral values', it's interesting to watch him grow and change over the years. His life experiences are well detailed, and his reactions shape his goals and motivations over the years. As a DM it's easy to "get inside his head" and run him as an NPC, because he is so well detailed and well thought out. You know how he would be thinking at any point in time, because you know what he's been through and how he feels about it. Bebil makes either a great addition to adventuring parties, or a great source of spell components for your arcane casters in need.

A good addition to any NPC library, I am pleased and found this worth the money.

PS: Although this is the first book in the "Renowned Figures" series, I actually read it after reading book 2 (Olin Van Gausst, Lich Bane). I'd encourage you to check out that book as well. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The detailed level progression chart matches well with his history, creating a very plug-and-play NPC you can drop into any campaign, and world setting, at any level.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Renowned Figures - Bebil Rout, Component Broker
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