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Colonial Gothic: Rulebook Second Edition
Publisher: Rogue Games, Inc
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2014 10:29:13
The best thing about this book right out of the gate is it compatible with the older, and out of print, Colonial Gothic Rulebook. So all the books I have from Gen Con are still good.
CG uses the same d12 based (I remember the guys at the Rogue Games booth going on with glee on how they used the often neglected d12!) system that you find in Shadow, Sword & Spell (I am not 100% sure, but both games look like they are completely compatible with each other).
The core book comes in at 282 pages, plus covers. The second thing I noticed that this book is much better looking than the first core book. No slight against that book, but this one is a gem. The first book had a nice hip "indie" feel about it. This book manages to pull off "indie" and "big time professional" between it's two covers. I like that.

But what is Colonial Gothic? From the book:
Colonial Gothic is a supernatural historical roleplaying game inspired by the history and setting of the American colonial period, from the founding of Roanoke in 1568 to the end of the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

Pretty cool if you ask me. For me Colonial Gothic continues the story that Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade began and Ghosts of Albion continued to the industrial age; science and reason over superstition and magic in a world filled with horrors. But CG is more than just that. In this game the "Americans" are on new soil, but it is only new to them. There are horrors native to this land and their are the horrors they brought with them.

The game mechanics are rather simple, which is a good thing, most often it is 2d12 +/- mods vs. a Target Number. It is called the 12° System. Often the Target Number is your Ability + Skill and rolled under. In other cases, such as an Ability test, you roll 1d12 and roll under the ability. Opposed Tests include things like combat. There are also Critical Success (double "1"s) and Critical Failures (double "12"s). Also the degrees of success (or failure) are important. In combat for example your degree of success is a multiplier to the damage. So is you need a 15 and roll a modified 10 you have 5 degrees of success. Simple.
Chapter One covers all the basic rules from Abilities and Skills, to combat, to movement and even common ailments (and uncommon ones) to fear and sanity.
Chapter Two is Character Creation. You get 45 points to divide out to your abilities (7 is human average). You can then choose a background ("class" for you class and level types; archetypes for everyone else) and then you get 45 points for your skills. These point totals can also be shifted up or down depending on the nature of the game. 40 for more grit, 50 for more action-adventure types.
The new aspect is the choice of 5 character hooks. These provide your character with more detail and background and help explain why your character is an adventurer and not just a common Joe or Jane.
Chapter Three goes into more detail about Skills and Hooks.
Chapter Four covers magic, the magical arts and common spells and Alchemy. Magic has a price in CG and not everyone is cut out for it. Witches presented here are mostly evil, but there is some wiggle room.
Chapter Five covers weapons, currency, equipment and trade. This is actually quite an important chapter since goods or the availability of them is not just part of the real Colonial history, but makes a great plot point.
Chapter Six is a guide to the Colonies. It is a nice mix of history, geography and the occult conceits of the game. If you know some of the history of this time then you have an edge up, but there is a lot of great information here. Obviously some liberties have been taken, but it is less alt-history than I feared.
Chapter Seven covers enemies and monsters. Both mundane and magical. At this time even a mundane bear is a threat.
Chapter Eight covers advice for the game master and campaign ideas.

If you want a cool game with occult dealings, magic, survival, or just plain good historical fun with a setting not often used in historical games then this is a must buy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Colonial Gothic: Rulebook Second Edition
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The Basic Illusionist
Publisher: Darkwater Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/01/2014 12:48:09
The one thing you can say about the entire OSR Gestalt that despite it all there is still a sense of community and of giving back. Case in point, The Basic Illusionist.

The Basic Illusionist is the brain-child of +Nathan Irving and was first seen during the S&W Appreciation Day Blog Hop.

Before I delve into the book itself. Lets take a moment to look at this cover.
Seriously. That is a cool ass cover. I am not sure what made Nathan Irving choose this piece ("Beauty and the Beast" by Edmund Dulac) but I love it. The title works in seemlessly, like they were meant for each other. The woman in foreground is no longer the "beauty" but she is now an Illusionist.

Ok. So the book is overtly for Swords & Wizardry, but there isn't anything here keeping you from using any Original of Basic inspired system. I know it works out well in Labyrinth Lord and Basic D&D and it really should work well in ACKS, Spellcraft & Swordplay or any other system. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea might be a trick, but they have an Illusionist class already.

Getting into the book now we have 34 pages (with cover) on the Illusionist class. The book starts off with a helpful FAQ. Personally I think Nathan should also put that FAQ on his blog as a page so every knows why they should get this. The Illusionist class itself is in S&W format, but the only thing keeping you from using this in any other Basic or Advanced Era game is a table of Saving Throws. Copy over what ever the Wizard or Magic-user is using in your game of choice and give them -1 bonus to saves when it comes to illusions.
The Illusionist gets a power or feature every odd level, but nothing that is game breaking when compared to the wizard. The Illusionist trades flexibility for focus in their magical arsenal. There is even an Illusionist variant class called the Mountebank. Which is more of a con-artist. Not sure how it compares to other classes of the same name.

One of the best features of the book is a guideline on illusionist magic and how to play with illusions. Great even if you never play the class.

What follows next is over 150 Illusionist spells. Many we have seen before and come from the SRD. That is not a bad thing. Having all these spells in one place and edited to work with the class is a major undertaking. I for one am glad to see them here. Spells are alphabetical instead of sorted by level.
A list of conditions ported over from the SRD is also included. I like that personally. We all love how the older games and the clones play, but in our zeal we tend to forget that 3.x and later games did in fact have some good innovations and ideas; this is one of them.

We end with a couple of monsters and a two page OGL statement.

Really, this is a fantastic piece of work and really should be the "go to" document if you ever want to play an illusionist.

Since this book was released in April I have had a chance to try it with various systems. I can say it works great with S&W, Basic D&D, AS&SH (when used with their own illusionist class) and even AD&D.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Basic Illusionist
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All Flesh Must Be Eaten Character Journal
Publisher: Eden Studios
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 12:44:47
The AFMBE Character Journal is one of those products that is quite literally great on paper, but must better as a PDF resource. Why? Because for the price of the PDF and printer ink I can print out as many as I like. I can reorder pages, print multiple pages and assemble it all as needed. Typically that is a 3-ring binder with extra pages of paper.
This journal follows in the same great level of artistic style that we come to expect from Eden. It looks like a spiral notebook, like the kind a zombie hunter might keep in a back pocket. But instead of lists of kills or notes on how to kill what supernatural beastie, this has all the information you need for your character.
Plenty of room for qualities, drawbacks, skills and notes.
And of course pages dedicated to weapons and gear.
There is even a place to record how to kill what supernatural beastie.

It would also work good for WitchCraft or any of the other Classic Unisystem games, but no dedicated pages for Metaphysics.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
All Flesh Must Be Eaten Character Journal
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200 Victorian Era Names
Publisher: Lee's Lists
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 12:34:56
A list of 200 names for a buck.
Great if you need a quick NPC or PC name.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
200 Victorian Era Names
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D20 Victorian Era Bundle [BUNDLE]
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 12:28:24
Victorian Age Feats
14 pages of new feats (12 of content and 2 of OGL). While there is a Victorian sensibility to these, most, if not all could be used in Pathfinder or d20 Modern. In particular I liked the Astrology, Bookworm, Charmed, Empathy, Expert Healer and Look Harmless feats. Others like Puritan Witchfinder might be more suited for 200 years before the Victorian times. A bit of a different feel to feats which I like. With a price of under 2 bucks this is a pretty good deal really.

Victorian Age Feats 2
Like Victorian Age Feats, this product is 14 pages (11.5 for content, 2.5 for OGL). It offers a wide variety of interesting feats to use with your d20/Pathfinder based game. Again what strikes me the most about these is how well they work with Pathfinder out of the box. A minor quibble though. Some of the feats are related to guns, this is fine, but the Victorian era saw a wide variety in technology related to firearms. The "Rip a Clip" feat is fine, but only useful for firearms created after 1890 (near the end of the era). Also not appropriate for Pathfinder even with the Gunslinger (but that is not a strike against this product).
For under 2 bucks it is a good deal, but I didn't like it as much as the first.

Victorian Horrors: Jack the Ripper
It is very difficult to talk about the late Victorian period and NOT mention Jack the Ripper. This 6 page PDF covers how to use Jack in your games and assumes that he will be an adversary of the Characters. Two possible means of link Jack to the PCs as a nemesis are discussed. Some detail is given on the public and police reaction to the Ripper case. Some basic d20 crunch is given to help move the players along.
Stats are given for Jack the Ripper (d20 Modern) and some ideas are given based on the level of magic in your games.
The text of the "Jack the Ripper letters" are reproduced.
While I think this is a good starting effort a lot more could have been done. For example a time-line of the Ripper case should have been included and the names of his victims. Also a map of the killings would have been extremely helpful. While all of this is readily available, that is also the exact reason why it should have been included. As it stands this is just a PDF of a potential threat to the PCs with not much in it that says it is Jack the Ripper.

Victorian Horrors: Martian Invaders
A much better effort here than the Jack the Ripper product. This details the Martian invasion ala H.G. Wells. This product details the Martians, their crafts and their technology. Though curiously missing are stats for the Martian alien themselves. Also while the inspiration is obviously Wells, he is not mentioned in this product. Quotes from the War of the Worlds text would have also been nice. Plus there is not much here that says "Victorian" to me. This could have been about the Wells book or the classic 1953 movie. Actually it seemed more similar to "Day of the Triffids" to me.
7 pages, 6 of content, 1 of OGL.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
D20 Victorian Era Bundle [BUNDLE]
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Victorian Horrors: Martian Invaders
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 12:27:15
A much better effort here than the Jack the Ripper product. This details the Martian invasion ala H.G. Wells. This product details the Martians, their crafts and their technology. Though curiously missing are stats for the Martian alien themselves. Also while the inspiration is obviously Wells, he is not mentioned in this product. Quotes from the War of the Worlds text would have also been nice. Plus there is not much here that says "Victorian" to me. This could have been about the Wells book or the classic 1953 movie. Actually it seemed more similar to "Day of the Triffids" to me.
7 pages, 6 of content, 1 of OGL.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Victorian Horrors: Martian Invaders
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Victorian Horrors: Jack the Ripper
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 12:15:57
It is very difficult to talk about the late Victorian period and NOT mention Jack the Ripper. This 6 page PDF covers how to use Jack in your games and assumes that he will be an adversary of the Characters. Two possible means of link Jack to the PCs as a nemesis are discussed. Some detail is given on the public and police reaction to the Ripper case. Some basic d20 crunch is given to help move the players along.
Stats are given for Jack the Ripper (d20 Modern) and some ideas are given based on the level of magic in your games.
The text of the "Jack the Ripper letters" are reproduced.

While I think this is a good starting effort a lot more could have been done. A lot more. For example a time-line of the Ripper case should have been included and the names of his victims. Also a map of the killings would have been extremely helpful. While all of this is readily available, that is also the exact reason why it should have been included.
As it stands this is just a PDF of a potential threat to the PCs with not much in it that says it is Jack the Ripper.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Victorian Horrors: Jack the Ripper
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Victorian Age Feats 2
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 12:02:21
Like Victorian Age Feats, this product is 14 pages (11.5 for content, 2.5 for OGL). It offers a wide variety of interesting feats to use with your d20/Pathfinder based game. Again what strikes me the most about these is how well they work with Pathfinder out of the box. A minor quibble though. Some of the feats are related to guns, this is fine, but the Victorian era saw a wide variety in technology related to firearms. The "Rip a Clip" feat is fine, but only useful for firearms created after 1890 (near the end of the era). Also not appropriate for Pathfinder even with the Gunslinger (but that is not a strike against this product).
For under 2 bucks it is a good deal, but I didn't like it as much as the first.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Victorian Age Feats 2
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Victorian Age Feats
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 11:45:59
14 pages of new feats (12 of content and 2 of OGL). While there is a Victorian sensibility to these, most, if not all could be used in Pathfinder or d20 Modern. In particular I liked the Astrology, Bookworm, Charmed, Empathy, Expert Healer and Look Harmless feats. Others like Puritan Witchfinder might be more suited for 200 years before the Victorian times.
A bit of a different feel to feats, which I like. With a price of under 2 bucks this is a pretty good deal really.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Victorian Age Feats
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The Manor, Issue #7
Publisher: GM Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2014 13:40:16
One of the cool things about the early days of this hobby was finding great little zines of new content. Sometimes it was an alternate rule, or new monster or class. Some of these were good, many were mediocre but all of them were a lot of fun. Back then I didn't care how good or bad it was, I was just glad to have something new and exciting to try out.

The Manor reminds me of the best parts of that time.

This is the newest one on the batch (for now) and it shows. The evolving layout and feel of the zine gives it a nice organic feel. I love the PDFs, but this issue makes me want them all in print form too.
The other big difference here is that creator Tim Shorts is only the editor of this, he has no content of his own in it. I am taking that as a sign of good growth.
"Boltswitch's Mobile Potion Emporium" by Boric Glanduum is a great throwback to the traveling snake-oil salemen of the previous turn of the century. Whether his potions work is up to the GM I guess, but I like the idea enough to steal it! I hope he has some Guards from Issue #6 to protect him.
"The Skinwalker (Coyote)" by Joshua De Santo is a Native American feeling lycanthropic class for S&W. It looks fun, but leaves me wanting more to be honest.
Chris Coski is back an he has a number of magical mirrors in "Mirror, Mirror". His penchant for alliteration is amusing, but it could have gotten tiresome quick.
A couple of smaller adventures are next. "Trouble Down the Well" by Simon Forester and "Horrid Caves" by Garrison James. Horrid Caves is the larger of the two. It has some new spells and a couple of new monsters.
Rusty Battle Axe brings us some Mind Flayer art and an Illithid haiku. Two words that I have never used that close to each other.
We end with an ad for Tenkar & the Badger's OSR Radio podcast. Though no URL is provided. Here it is just in case, http://www.tavernradio.com/.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #7
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The Manor, Issue #6
Publisher: GM Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2014 13:40:02
One of the cool things about the early days of this hobby was finding great little zines of new content. Sometimes it was an alternate rule, or new monster or class. Some of these were good, many were mediocre but all of them were a lot of fun. Back then I didn't care how good or bad it was, I was just glad to have something new and exciting to try out.

The Manor reminds me of the best parts of that time.

The Manor #6 is back to 28 pages and jam packed by the looks of the Table of Contents.
The first adventure/setting is "The Brothel at Wargumn". It might be a little to risque for the youngest gamers, but it is sure a lot less risque than things I was reading at the time when zines were popular (70s and 80s). Easy to drop this into any game, any world or even any town.
The Guard class is next. It would not be right unless a new class showed up every now and then. I am not sure that this class adds anything above and beyond say a dedicated fighter, but it still looks solid and looks like it plays well.
"Getting from Point A to Point B" is an interesting addition from Ken Harrison. It details three portal traps/puzzles of getting from A to B in a dungeon setting. A great little addition to any dungeon where a magic-user may want to keep something hidden (Point B) but still need to get to it time to time.
"Witches of the Dark Moon" is a great little one-shot written by Tim Shorts himself using a lot of elements he had at his disposal. This includes using my own Witch Class for the witches. You don't need my book to play this, but it does add a little extra to the mix. Consequently this one shot also does the one thing my witch DIDN'T do well and that is provide a ready to play adventure for witches. The adventure it self is a lot of fun.

The only "ad" at the end is one for a the Manor Compilation of issues #1 thru #5. Now I do want to point out. I LIKE the ads at the end. I do. It gives the Manor a nice zine feel and reminds me of reading the Owl & Weasel or older White Dwarf magazines.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #6
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The Manor, Issue #5
Publisher: GM Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2014 13:39:35
One of the cool things about the early days of this hobby was finding great little zines of new content. Sometimes it was an alternate rule, or new monster or class. Some of these were good, many were mediocre but all of them were a lot of fun. Back then I didn't care how good or bad it was, I was just glad to have something new and exciting to try out.

The Manor reminds me of the best parts of that time.

The Manor #5 is a bit shorter than #4, but at 28 pages it is still a great deal.
First up is the "Vineyard of Villain. Four Evil NPCs to use in your game and illustrated by Jay Penn.
"Cursed Concoctions" by Chris Coski is a collection of 7 new poisons/potions for evil GMs. There is a random table of tavern names if you need a dive in a hurry. The "Sullen Hagfish" has good food I am sure.
There is a lengthy article on doors. With a nice font for the header. Made this feel like a cool 70s Zine, The article itself is a good one and a good read for GMs.
There is another longish article on random city encounters.
Like before, we end it with an ad (of sorts).

I am not as overtly enthusiastic about #5 as I was for #4; but there is a lot great stuff here all the same. Taken as a body of work it is still fun and still gives me that same thrill that I got when discovering Zines in the 80s.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #5
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The Manor Issue #4
Publisher: GM Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2014 13:39:21
One of the cool things about the early days of this hobby was finding great little zines of new content. Sometimes it was an alternate rule, or new monster or class. Some of these were good, many were mediocre but all of them were a lot of fun. Back then I didn't care how good or bad it was, I was just glad to have something new and exciting to try out.

The Manor reminds me of the best parts of that time.

At 39 pages this issue takes the Manor beyond the Zine world and puts it more firmly in "magazine" territory. Even the Owl & Weasel or the Strategic Review got to this size.
We start out with an adventure for Swords & Wizardy for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level. The adventure is 15 pages and includes 2 new monsters including a very cool, Lovecraftian-feeling "big bad". The last part of this adventure with the monster (the Or'Drog) and it's lair are worth the price of this Zine alone. Slap this bad guy into your generic Caves of Chaos and suddenly the stakes have gone up a lot. I am kicking myself for not reading this sooner. This was out in July of 2013. I could have used this very monster in exactly what I mentioned above when playing Keep on the Borderlands with my kids. Yes, this 11 HD monster would have been too much for them, but it would have up the stakes considerably.
SO if you have copies of these laying around, READ THEM! There is good stuff in here.

"From Beneath the Manor" is so great. It is a feature that I hope to see more of; Contributors send in their monsters to be stated up for any OSR compatible game and illustrated by Jason Sholtis. It reminds me of the old Fiend Factory from White Dwarf.

We end with a couple of ads (for that full Zine feel).
Seriously though, The Manor #4 is awesome and I can't wait to read the next ones.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor Issue #4
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The Complete B/X Adventurer - RBG002
Publisher: Running Beagle Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/31/2014 18:49:43
The Complete B/X Adventurer is the second book from Jonathan Becker.

It certainly lives up to it's hype and to it's predecessor the B/X Companion (BXC). Though there is no emotional investment on this one for me. I waited for the B/X Companion for almost 30 years. I waited for this one for only about a year or less.

I am going to make comparisons of it to B/X Companion AND to the old Bard Games "Compleat Adventurer" series (Adventurer, Spellcaster, Alchemist). I think both comparisons are fair. The first is obvious, but the second I want to explain. It is obvious in the construction that this book owes a lot to those previous books. The author, Jonathan Becker, acknowledges this in his Introduction. There is also a feel to this book that reminds me of the later Bard Games books, The Arcanum and the Atlantis series.

In all these cases the books provide additional classes, spells and magic with additional rules that can be added with little effort to your game. We saw something similar from the official D&D books in the Unearthed Arcana books.

But getting on with the review proper.

The physical book is now perfect bound, not stapled, and it comes in at 62 pages. The cover doesn't try to invoke any other old-school product I am aware of, but I could be wrong. This is a good thing really since it should have it's own identity. BXC very much wanted to invoke the images of the old Basic and Expert sets.
Table of Contents is on a page, not the inside cover.

Now on to the meat. We get a nice introduction from Jonathan Becker about how the book should be used. It does indicate compatibility with Labyrinth Lord, LoftFP and Swords & Wizardry. Though I don't see the compatibility licenses those products require. I hope that is not an issue, but something that the author should look into. Also this is not an OGL product, so no license and no OGC. May not matter to you. In terms of buying. I supposed if someone wanted to use some of this material in say an adventure that was broadly compatible Becker would give his permission (and he has said as much if I recall correctly). For me I like to operate in the safe harbor of the OGL. But this doesn't detract my opinion from the book at all.

First up we have charts on random head gear. While this section is very good, it feels completely random. Not in terms of the tables, but why does the book lead off with this? I would have made this an appendix or part of a later chapter. Oddly enough the class table does not include any of the new classes in this book. Move this to the back in future printings I say. This follows with class exceptional traits. Also very cool. This one would belong here, but I would have put it after all the new classes. Again, this does not have all the new classes listed. Sure use the sub-class idea with Witches as a type of Magic-User. Follwing this firearms. Again move to equipment. I might not ever use this, but my son wants too (he read the book before I did).

Next up are all the classes. These are the gems of the book in my eye. The classes get about a page each. So this will be nice to print out the PDF pages and re-org as needed. The classes are Acrobat, Archer, Barbarian, Bard, Beastmaster, Bounty Hunter, Centaur, Duelist, Gnome, Mountebank, Mystic, Ogre-Kin, Scout, Summoner, Tattoo Mage, Witch, and Witch Hunter.

The classes are about what you would expect if you have been in this game for a number of years, but they have their twists. The gnome, centaur and ogre-kin are obviously race-classes in the Basic/Expert style. The Summoner is really cool. You summon creatures to do your magic for you. So part demonologist, part Pokemon trainer! (ok ok) only really awesome about it. It is one of the neatest takes I have seen on this ill-used fantasy archetype. I will discuss the witch and the witch-hunter in detail in a bit.

This is followed by all the new spells that these classes need. It's a good amount, taking up the remaining 20 pages of the book. The spells are of a good sort and there are a lot of them here.

The art is good and similar in style to BXC, sharing a couple of the same artists. Each class gets an art piece (another similarity to the Bard Compleat books) but the spells doesn't get much if any. That is too bad since the art is generally very good.

My Thoughts
Again I think I would have put some the beginning material in the back to focus on the classes more.
But I really enjoy all these classes and I think that for my kids old-school AD&D game I would let them choose from this as a possible source. I can see my youngest wanting to play an Acrobat and my oldest a Bounty Hunter. I would some tips I have written in the past about converting "Basic" classes to "Advanced" ones, but honestly there is not much here I would change.

Another thought is that most of these classes are stated out to 14th level. This makes them perfect, obviously, for pure Basic/Expert style D&D. But there is something else they would work well with, ACKS.
In fact I have mentioned before how well BXC would work in extending ACKS. Well now you can use the TCBXA as an add on to ACKS. These two games have different purposes in life, but they fit together rather nicely, and this gives you some new classes to play around with till ACKS Player's Companion is out.

NOW all we need is Jonathan to give us a B/X Companion boxed set. It can include the B/X Companion, the CBXA, and a brand new module. I think that would be great!

The Witch

Ok, I have to play special attention to the witch. Not just because it is a witch class, but because it is different than the other spell using classes. For starters the witch can cast in groups to cast higher level spells. That is a nice feature really and something very much in tune with the archetypal witch. The witch is the class in the book that is stated up all the way to 36th level AND built to gain powers to that point, also something I rather like. Why? Because a 36th level witch is the only class that can cast 10th level spells. Yup. This one goes to 10!

Crafting spells. The witch does not memorize a spell, but she does have a limit on how many she knows. The witch needs both a high intelligence (to know the spell) and a high wisdom (to learn and scribe it down in the first place). So a first level witch with a high Intelligence knows 1+Int mod 1st level spells. She can also scribe spells of 1st level + how ever many extra levels equal to her Wisdom mod. I like it. It is a nice quick way to know what can be done. In fact I would like to use that for clerics since gods should know ahead of time what spells their flock need and then they just give them to the cleric at that time.

For the witch though I would reverse it. Intelligence to write or scribe the spell and Widsom to know how many they can cast. Witches are often called the "Craft of the Wise" after all. But all in all I like it.
10th level witch spells are nothing at all to sneeze at. This is a powerful witch class.

The 10th level spells are a nice solution to the "Coven spells"/"Powerful magic" vs independent witches. I can't see too many witch covens in groups. Maybe two or three at a time. With what JB has done here is given us a way to have powerful magics in groups at lower levels and keep those same magics out of the hands of solitary witches till much later. This then does not make them a more attractive solution over Wizards/Magic Users.

Witchhunters
If you are going to have witches then you should have witchhunters. The ones here are fairly straight forward but they have some nice features. I like that they get magic, but not as spells but powers. Sure you could do a multi-classed Cleric-Ranger, but this is B/X not 3.x. I'd like to give this witchhunter a spin sometime.

Bottom Line
If you enjoyed BXC or even Basic/Expert or other Old School play then this is a great buy. If you enjoy old school play but are sticking with your clone of choice then I still say get this. Look at the class list above and decide if any of those sound interesting to you.

I like it and I recommend it. I would have organized things a little differently, but that is about it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Complete B/X Adventurer - RBG002
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Calidar, In Stranger Skies
Publisher: Calidar Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2014 15:36:42
Calidar, In Stranger Skies is the latest gaming product from former TSR writer Bruce Heard.

If you have been on the internet or follow any of the news surrounding Kickstarter or Mystara then you should have certainly heard about Bruce and Calidar.

If not here are two brief introductions:
http://bruce-heard.blogspot.com/p/a-word-about-calidar.h-
tml
http://bruce-heard.blogspot.com/p/where-can-i-get-calida-
r.html

Calidar is exactly what I expected it to be. Thankfully I expected it to be awesome. It is a real treat reading this. In a sea of "grim dark" settings Calidar brings back magic, fantasy and adventure to "D&D" and any game you care to use it with.

But that is getting ahead myself.

This book is designed for Pathfinder, at least is says so on the cover, but please do not let that stop you from using this with any other "D&D"-like game/system you own or play. In the majority of the book is system neutral. The book is even a fair amount setting neutral, which might sound odd about a setting book, but you could put The Great Caldera on any world's polar region and then drop that world into the Calidar Universe with only a little work. But that would get rid a lot of great stuff...

The first 40 or so pages set the stage of what is possible with this game with some game-related fiction. Now normally I dislike game fiction and tend to ignore it. But this one deserves a read since this is different than what you might be used to doing. A large part of the sense of wonder for this new universe is setup here.

Up next is the Calidar Universe. Oh where was this book 25 years ago! Immediately I am taken back in time to my aborted attempts to bridge Traveller and D&D. This book does it and does it so well. The "Solar" system of this universe is the Soltan Ephemeris. Nice! Mine was Sol Invictus. Not a surprise really. I loved Bruces work back in the day and I am certain we drew on similar sources. But alas that is as far as I got and Bruce kept on going at, well, light speed. Other planets are detailed such as Draconia (wonder who live there?), Lao-Kwei (a Mars-like planet), Canis Major (no relation to the Constellation) home of the Dog Headed people, Felix Major (Cat heads of course) and Ghüle, a Pluto like dungeon planet of alien creatures and gods (ie mostly Orcs). Calidar also has three moons where humans, elves and dwarve comes from respectively. There is also an Asteroid Belt (The Fringe).

In addition to the normal races we have the aforementioned God-folk and Cat-folk and the Starfolk. Starfolk are a catch-all race of aliens from other galaxies. Little is know about them. There are also the Fellfolk, or the natives of Calidar (aka Halflings).

Some Gods are also presented and I am sure there will be more. Gods are manifestations of the souls of the heavenly bodies. Interestingly enough there is an "American Gods"-like version of Odin. Here he is native to Calidar, brought by a group of Vikings stranded here. I like it.

Next Chapter deals with the World of Calidar itself. Various lands and countries around the Great Caldera. Several countries are covered in a familiar Gazetteer style. There is also a great historical timeline that helps set the stage for this world.

One land is covered in detail, the Kingdom of Meryath. I can't help to feel there is a bit of "Glantri" in the roots here. Nothing specific, just a feel. Though I have to smile that name of the main island is the same as my current hometown ("Palatine"). Also detailed are the various NPCs you are likely to encounter; both heroes and villains. I do like that no race in particular is designated as a "heroic" or a "villainous" one. With the exception maybe of the orcs. There is certainly a swashbuckling, high seas feel to these NPCs.
Guilds are detailed, and are likely to be more important in future works; books and adventures. Finally we end the chapter with the largest city in the Kingdom, Glorathon.

Creatures of Calidar deal some of the unique creatures we can find here. Mostly this is background text, no stats.

System Conversion covers the Pathfinder rules stats for both the characters and the new creatures.

Skyships of Calidar cover the ships of various sizes more moving about the universe.

The PDF has a few nice features. The Maps are all index via bookmarks as is all the art.

Let's talk about the maps and art.
Thorfinn Tait is one of the main people behind the maps and cartography of this book. Thorf has been one of the big names in maps for sometime now. He has done a ton of work of the maps of Mystara, which is certainly how he and Bruce Heard know of each other. The maps are a work of art and I love how planets and other objects are listed in "days of travel" on hexes instead of miles. A nice little change that means a lot really. Great from a DM's perspective and easier to adjudicate from a narrative standpoint.

The art is also fantastic. A nice cross between the style of Planescape, Spelljammer and 7th Sea. Which, if you think about it, also describes this book pretty well too.

Calidar, In Stranger Skies is an awesome product. It grabs you and makes you want to play in this world. I am not sure what the plans are, but certainly I can see an OSR version getting produced or even a D&D 5. But if not you could do it on your own with just a little effort (less if you know Pathfinder really well).

Personally I can't think of a single reason NOT to buy this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Calidar, In Stranger Skies
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