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YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones
Publisher: Jeremy Reaban
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2016 15:17:24

YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones was written by Jeremy Reaban. I have featured some of his products on my blog in the past.


Y in this case might stand for Yuggoth, which is the home-world of the Mi-Go, or at least one of their outposts. This adventure, designed for characters 6th to 10th level for any old-school game, heavily features the Mi-Go. While he describes it as a "Science fiction" "dungeon crawl" only a tiny bit of work is needed to make this one horror or a mystery. Afterall, people are going missing, strangers are showing up in town and there is that whole eerie cave system.


Like most of the old-school adventures, this one is light on plot and heavy on the dungeon crawl atmosphere, and that is by design really. The adventure is simple enough but there is so much more that can be done with it if you want. Note: I should point out this is NOT a criticism of the adventure, quite the opposite really.

So basically the Mi-Go are in town and they are doing what the Mi-Go do, removing brains from bodies and putting them into other bodies or their special cylinders. The brains stay alive and are even immortal after a fashion. They are also experimenting on the local fauna. A couple of things in this adventure jumped out as me as hitting that 70's/80's nostalgia sweet spot. There is a Flumph the Mi-go can't figure out. A bionic Sasquatch! (I mean really, was this written just for me?) I biologic towel, a Valley Girl brain, and this whole "Escape to Witch Moutain" vibe about it. There is a witch and Swanmay in it as well.


Personally I would take Jeremy's advice and expand the module a bit. Have the party meet the old witch Gwen in her "old" form, but then encounter her again when she is in one of the brain jars and then again when she is in her new body. Also, I'd make all the Mi-Go's human form all look roughly the same; perfect, blonde, blue eyes, devoid of any real personality. Like something out of Village of the Damned. Liked they learned how to be human by reading it in a book.
I'd also make their plans a little more nefarious. This is a scout group looking to colonize this planet. Makes that bionic Bigfoot look a little more scary if you ask me!


Obviously, a good companion to this adventure would be Jeremy's own OSR Warlock. Make Gwen a warlock AND the one responsible for bringing the Mi-Go here. I'd also play it under Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Give it that "colder and darker" feel that AS&SH can provide. Plus there are already a number of good Lovecraft Mythos beasties in that game.


My biggest issue with this adventure is where do I use it? I have so many choices to be honest. I could easily slot it in as a "Monster of the Week" story, but that would sell it's potential short. I could make it part of a larger campaign, but I would also want the Mi-Go to be more that just a one shot.


In any case I know this will be a fun one.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones
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JD2 Darkland Moors
Publisher: UNIgames
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/28/2016 17:15:00

Another mini-adventure, this time for a little bit higher lever adventurers. The basic idea here is to investigate the moor and defeat a cyclops causing trouble. There are three black and white maps. Given this is about a cyclops I could work it into the Giants series pretty easily.


Both Jeff Dee's JD Adventures are under $2.50. At just under 10 pages it is perfect for a quick afternoon game. It would work great while traveling to another adventure or in-between towns. Good for slotting in between other adventures or even to break up the campaign a little.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
JD2 Darkland Moors
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Ravenloft (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/09/2016 13:09:50

The 3.0 era was on us. I had just come back to D&D from a long hiatus and to my surprise we were getting a new Ravenloft setting and it was going to be penned by Swords & Sorcery Studios/Arthaus/White Wolf. Say what you like about WW, they do know vampires.


Ravenloft 3.0 was one of my favorite books I bought in the new 3.x era and I loved how it looked. I splurged and grabbed the limited edition version from my favorite local game store.


I thought the art was fantastic and loved how well it adapted itself to the 3.0 rules. But I had already had some experiences with 3.0 and even had pictured up some Swords & Sorcery Studios books and enjoyed those as well. The races were a nice treat to be honest. For the first time I really felt like I could run a Ravenloft game with the likes of gnomes, halflings and especially half-orcs, now rebranded as Calibans and the new Giogoto.


I think though I was expecting more at the time. SSS was part of White Wolf like I mentioned and I was hoping for some of what made Vampire: The Masquerade so good to be here. In re-reading it now, so many years later, I find I had unrealistic expectations. In truth this book is a much better organized and updated version of the 2e Domains of Dread book. The nice thing about Ravenloft (and many of the D&D worlds) is that the plot kept moving along despite edition changes. Though there is also a nice timeline included so DMs can do what they want.


This book has a black and white interior when most others were going full color. To me this is a feature, not a bug. Ravenloft is world of shades of grey and the art here is helps convey this. The book is a basic campaign guide including the people, the lands and most important for Ravenloft, the horrors of the lands. There are some new feats and skills. No new spells, but suggestions on how magic will be altered by the Mists. There is even a section on the Gods of Ravenloft.


Since most of this book covers the lands, their inhabitants and the Cultural Level of each, there is not a lot of crunch. Translation: You can use this with any other version of D&D you like. Even the feats look like they would work well with 5e still. Even the section on "Fear, Horror and Madness" would work well.


It lacks large foldout maps of the 2e days, but it is a surprisingly good resource to me these days.
Well worth picking up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ravenloft (3.0)
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Scum and Villainy
Publisher: Stellagama Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2016 16:30:05

"Scum and Villainy" is likely to be the most aptly named supplement for the White Star game I have picked up in a long time. After all, if White Star is the godchild of Star Wars and 70s D&D then Scum and Villainy had to come up sooner or later.


S&V is a 17-page book (cover, credits page, table of contents, 1.5 pages of OGL bring us to 12.5 pages of content) for playing the low-life of the galaxy. Written by Omer G. Joel it also features some really nice art from Luigi Castellani. It is very evocative. I see that and I think "Traveller" and that is not a bad thing. Nor is it an accident.
I am in love with that cover.


There are two new classes, the Assassin and the Rogue who do pretty much what you think they do, but there are some nice features to make them fit the WS universe a bit better.


The gems of this though are the expanded rules. How to go unnoticed in space. How to sell stolen goods. Really the stuff that you expect to see in a book like this, but never really do.


There is a section on ship mods, new equipment and new weapons.


There was a lot of good things here, but I was hoping for more. Maybe a bit on a notorious crime synidicate or something along those lines.


With 17 pages at $3.99 I was expecting more. Compare this to the B/X Rogue which is 24 pages at $1.50 and covers similar ground. Combining the two would give you some really potent rogues!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Scum and Villainy
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Character Crucible: Dhampirs (A Race for 5E)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2016 07:32:56

Not very large, but it does exactly what it needs to do. The Dhampir is a great race to play in any version of D&D, but Mark capitalizes on the strengths of D&D5 to make a fun race. I would have an easier time working these Dhampirs into my games than the Dragonborn and Tieflings my kids want to play all the time.
Perfect for a buck.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Character Crucible: Dhampirs (A Race for 5E)
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Psionics Unearthed: Tesseract (A Martial Archetype for 5E)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/11/2016 07:25:39

I just got it and love it. The best way to describe it is "blinky thieves" but it would work for any martial class too. It might actually be a little underpowered compared to say the Arcane Trickster, but the fact that a Tesseract can use their powers multiple times between long rests makes up for it. My kids will fight over who gets to use this one!
I can easily think of several places where a character like this would work well in a fantasy game. A half-elf theif with this archetype with a backstory of living on the streets, abandoned by both races...the character practically writes itself!
All this for just a buck? Yeah, that is a steal!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Unearthed: Tesseract (A Martial Archetype for 5E)
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Deities and Domains: Specialty Priests of the Forgotten Realms (39 Feats for 5E)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2016 07:16:54

At 25 pages and 39 dieties this is one of the larger products I have purchased here (DM's Guild). While overtly for the Forgotten Realms, there is so much here that any D&D 5 palyer should grab it and just swap out the names for their own gods. Plus it comes with a printer-friendly version. I am already using the cleric of Mystra, only in my game it is a cleric of Wee Jas.
Easy to read. Flexible and not overpowering. Easily slotted into any D&D game. Honestly what more could you ask?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deities and Domains: Specialty Priests of the Forgotten Realms (39 Feats for 5E)
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Stock Art Characters
Publisher: Space Pirate Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/03/2016 06:52:55

Another really great piece of art. Sometimes I know where I want to use something before I buy it. In this case I bought this just becuase I liked it a lot.
The file format is PDF, which is fine if I am going to use this for personal use only (I think I want to print it out as part of a character folio) but for publishing my own works I would prefer TIFF or PSD files.


Use to use re-license for comercial work.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art Characters
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Publisher Reply:
Let me know if that works, not sure if I updated it all correctly.
Stock Art Star Ships 5
Publisher: Space Pirate Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/02/2016 12:49:22

Exactly what I needed when I needed it!
The ship is perfect and having so many different points of view is great.


Hi Res TIFF or PSD files would have been nicer, but I made it work.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art Star Ships 5
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Alpha Blue
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/11/2016 07:26:12

Alpha Blue is the latest release from Kort'thalis Publishing and +Venger Satanis.


Alpha Blue is a Space Station where the party never ends. The book is 111 pages (114 if you count covers and extra page). The art is what you would expect from Venger; good and on the creepy side. Some I think I have seen before, but I can't be sure really. But all of it really comes with a nice vibe of late 70s/early 80s sci-fi cheese. Basically if you grew up in the 70s and 80s watching any sci-fi you will recognize something here. If you are like me then something you will like. They layout is clean and easy to read. I also appreciate the color and b/w versions of the character sheet.


The book has a basic system attached to it, mostly, as the author describes to set the tone for a game. The character generation system actually would well as an additional bit of character information for your standard OSR game. There is some good material here that can be used for something like White Star or Starships & Spacemen. Print out your game's regular sheet and an Alpha Blue sheet back to back.


The rest of the book is the reall meat of the book and might not really be most people's cup of tea. Alpha Blue is a Space Brothel. The obvious nod here is to the old adult movie The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue. I will happily admit I have seen and enjoyed the movie. Actually the movie is an interesting social commentary that all the best sci-fi movies have. But that is for another discussion.


Alpha Blue, the book, is thankfully devoid of social commentary. I am not trying to say the book is nothing but sleazy encounters, but there is a lot here that can be great setting material...and some sleaze.


I think that Venger missed a good opportunity here to call the game master a "Blue Dungeon Space Master" or a BDSM. A little awkward? Yeah. No worse than Dungeon Master I guess.


I mentioned in the past that this premise reminds me of the +Shon Richards' story Pleasure Station Sigma. The comparison still holds, but there is more to Alpha Blue than just that.


Honestly there are so many hidden gems and easter eggs here that I am still finding them weeks in to reading this game. Which brings up a point.
The one thing this book lacks, and really could use, is it's own "Appendix N". A collection of late 70s early 80s B and C grade Sci-Fi movies and TV shows. Off the top of my head I saw influences of Logan's Run, Barbarella (ok 60s), Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek (TOS), Star Wars (the first trilogy only), Doctor Who (explictly mentioned), Galaxina, Cherry 2000, Westworld, Heavy Metal, Weird Science, the Buck Rodgers RV series, the Flash Gordon movie and of course, Satisfyers of Alpha Blue.


There are a lot of random tables in this book too. Personally I am not a fan of a bunch of random tables, but here it works. After all this is a space station with a lot going on. Plus it fits not only the Gonzo-Sci-Fi style VS has going here, but also the Gonzo-OSR style all his books have.


Alpha Blue is not for the easily offended. It is also not really for anyone that did grow up in the 70s or 80s; too much of the content will be lost on anyone that hears "Starbuck" and thinks coffee or Katee Sackhoff. There is the right group out there for this book, and for that group it will be a lot of fun. Some reviews have called this an "adult" title. Maybe. Personally I would say it is R-rated at the worst. Though now I do know how much damage a jelly-double headed dildo will do if used in combat.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alpha Blue
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Between Star & Void
Publisher: DYS Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2016 07:19:54

White Star isn't just a cool set of rules, it is also a nice sandbox with some minor assumptions on a game universe. The best elements are left open for others to play with and develop further.


Between Star & Void is a great example.

This book covers the Star Knights and their enemies, the Void Knights, in greater detail. +Matthew Skail has done a great job of showing us what both groups of Knights can do. I came away not so much wanting to run "Jedi" or "Sith" but something more akin to the Green Lantern Corps. At 109 pages it is a pretty full (101 pages of content) of material for Star Knights and Void Knights. This book also includes Mystics, Star Pilot, Way Adapt and Alien Star Knight, and of course, Void Knights and an extra special group, the Eclipse Knights.
There are plenty of new Meditations for the Knights and Mystics and new Empowerments for Void Knights. The Void Knights really kind of steal the show here a bit. I think everyone loves a good bad guy. Though the Star Pilot will get a lot of love in some game groups I am sure.
We also have a chapter on Star Knight Martial Styles and a chapter on Star Sword construction. They really put the "Tao" in "Way" here. I have to admit reading this feels just like playing games in the late 70s early 80s when sci-fi was king and everywhere. I had toys from various franchises and freely mixed them all together is a crazy, and mostly incoherent, whole. But I didn't care, it was fun.
This book is like that. Not crazy and incoherent, but certainly a lot of fun.

There are some great Appendices here too. There is an alternate Meditation system in Appendix A.
Appendix B includes some "Fantasy Conversions" for Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, Adventurer Conqueror King, or higher level White Star games. This includes higher level Meditations


The art is a mixed lot, but I love the cover.
There are some obvious typos and the text needs some cleaning up here and there, but nothing that impacts readability or use. There is a lot of fun in this book and I can't wait to try it out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Between Star & Void
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GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/08/2015 11:40:05

The pdf is 102 pages (the original book was 96 pages, a detached cover and large map of the country and Glantri City). The PDF is a good quality scan and retains all the information found in the print book. The cover art was done by the fantastic Clyde Caldwell. While this book is a D&D "Basic" book, there is so much here of use that it can really be used with any D&D system. This book really set the stage for all the other Gazetteers to follow.


The first part, Welcome to Glantri, gives a very brief overview of what the country is and what this book sets out to do.
Up next is the History of Glantri. I spent hours and hours reading this over and over. I won't go into great detail, but linking Glantri to ancient Blackmoor was wonderful in my mind. Mostly because I loved the link but also I had done something similar for my own games. What follows next is a time line from 3000 BC, The Rain of Fire (Before Crowning of the first Emperor of Thyatis) to 1000 AC (today) and even on to 1200 AC. I always wondered if the Rain of Fire that destroyed Blackmoor was related or even just the same spell that destroyed the Suel in the Greyhawk world.


Geography of Glantri is next. Like much of Mystara, Glantri is a mix of all sorts of races and people, but Glantri also has it's fair share of "monsters" those will be detailed later. Glantri's climate is also touched upon, making it one of the colder lands.


The is followed by The Glantrian Economy. I really enjoyed this section because it really breathes life into the people that live here. Each of the Principalities is detailed here for the first time. A quick read and one immediately recognizes analogues to Scotland, Italy, France, and even Transylvania. Glantri is very cosmopolitan. We move into the Grand Army of Glantri and Politics and Rivalries of Glantri. Glantri is the place to play out political intrigue where everyone is mage of some sort or has one on retainer. Like the Economy section, this section breathes more life into the people of the land, in this case all the great houses. I will admit once again that the interior art by Stephan Fabian links this to Ravenloft in my mind. Not only are there humans here, but vampires, werewolves and liches ruling. We will get to witches in a bit.


Guilds and Brotherhoods are also one of the more important features of this book and life in Glantri. There are so many here that characters could each belong to many and none overlap. Some are complimentary to each other and others at cross purposes. Really good fodder for role-playing.


Glantri City by Night details what happens to the 39,000+ residents when the sun goes down. The book is like a what we now call Modern Supernatural. So all sorts of "monsters" come out and mingle with everyday people. It says "by Night" but really this an overview of the city itself and all it's sections. It reminds me of a travel guide to London I once read, so I am rather fond of this section.


Living in Glantri City details life in the city including the laws, who is in charge, magic use and various holy/high days. There is no religion in Glantri, but there is a state philosophy. Of course it is tied in with magic.


The Great School of Magic. Outside of Hogwarts or Professor Xavier's school has a school been so rich detailed. Though there is enough here to make me want more, a lot more. This is followed by Creating Spells and Magical Items and The Secret of the Radiance. The source of Glantri's magical power.


Nest we get into The Seven Secret Crafts of Glantri. If you only buy this book for this section then you will be well rewarded. Think of these as schools or even colleges of magic. Each one ads something special to the Magic-User class, almost like a Prestige Class or Paragon class feature. They include, Alchemy, Dragon magic, Elemental magic, Illusion, Necromancy, Rune magic, and of course, Witchcraft.
We wrap up with Adventures in Glantri.


The Gazetteer series were works of art and none more so than the Glantri book.


I mentioned before that this book would work fine with other versions of D&D. Looking deeper into the Seven Secret Crafts of Glantri, one could EASILY replace the Arcane Tradition feature of the 5th Edition Wizard and replace those powers with the craft powers. The 5e wizard gets 4 Arcane tradition powers/features and the Basic craft wizards get 5. They work out to about the same levels too.


So if you have not picked this up, do so. I highly recommend it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri (Basic)
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The B/X Rogue
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome Productions
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2015 12:06:41

I love new B/X classes. If I have demonstrated nothing else here it is that. So when +Gavin Norman of the excellent City of Iron blog and Necrotic Gnome Productions came out with a new B/X class, well I had to get it.
Gavin has already given us some great classes in his Theorems & Thaumaturgy and The Complete Vivimancer. Now he takes on the thief archetype in The B/X Rogue.


I say archetype because what this book tries (and succeeds, but more on that in a bit) to do is create a Rogue class that encompasses all of the various "sub-classes" we have seen on the thief over the years. How he does it is both very elegant and very, very basic, if not Basic.


Like the thief the rogue has a number of talents at his/her disposal. Instead of a percentile (or d20) roll the rogue is assumed to be fully proficient in their talent. The differences lie in the choice of talents and some of the talents themselves. The example given is the iconic Remove Traps. If a rogue has this at 1st level then they can remove or disable a trap 100% of the time. However the types of traps are now changed. The rogue can only disable small mechanical traps. Not huge pits in the floor.


The rogue class begins with 4 talents. This increases by 1 per level. Some talents have prerequisites and can only be taken at 5th level (Expert Talents, love the split of Basic and Expert Talents here). Outside of that the class it remarkably like the B/X thief.


The bulk of the book describe the 36 talents a rogue might take. This allows for near infinite (or close enough for the amount of character sheets I'll print out) rogue types. There are even magical talents for the Bards and Arcane Tricksters out there. Of course I immediately went to the magic section and quickly figured out an Occult Scholar, a rogue that raids tombs and libraries for bits of arcane knowledge and some spells to help them out. Won't help you when you need an orc killed, unless he has a scroll for it.


There is also a very useful table to help you with your archetypes. Want an assassin? Great, take back-stab, hide, garotte, move quietly at 1st level. There are 10 of these, so a d10 will also get you up and going fast. Don't want a magic-one? Easy. Roll a d8 instead.


The PDF itself is 26 pages; a front cover, a back cover and two page OGL, all for a $1.50. Not a bad deal at all really, especially when consider how flexible this class is now.
If you are a fan of the theif class, B/X or Gavin's other classes then this is a must buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The B/X Rogue
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Psionics
Publisher: DYS Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2015 13:03:04

This book is designed for the White Star game.Though it can be ported over to Swords & Wizardry with no issues. The psionist is introduced and powers are detailed. The psionist chooses a focus power area and sticks with that in the game. A nice, simple system with some useful powers. 11 pages with cover and OGL.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics
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Crypts & Creatures Psionics Handbook
Publisher: Pick Up & Go Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2015 12:45:04

At 12 pages for 50 cents this looks like a deal. But what we have here is a stripped down version of the psionic classes from the d20 SRD for the OSR crowd. I would have liked to see some more to be honest. There are classes and powers listed, but not really detailed. Now for someone this will be just perfect, but most people I think will want some more.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Crypts & Creatures Psionics Handbook
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