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Colonial Gothic: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Publisher: Rogue Games, Inc
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2014 13:38:22
This is a great little book to be honest. The first half is the story of Sleepy Hollow and the second half is how to use it in your Colonial Gothic Game. The geography of Sleepy Hollow, the Hudson and the Tapan Zee are discussed as well as Sleepy Hollow's role in history. It reads like a small campaign guide.
This book is not very big, nor does it cost very much, but it is certainly punching above it's weight class in terms of content.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Colonial Gothic: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
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Colonial Gothic Bestiary
Publisher: Rogue Games, Inc
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2014 13:32:34
I have said it many times. You can never have too many monsters. The Colonial Gothic Bestiary satisfies that craving and then some. At 110 pages it is full of monsters and many are illustrated. The artwork varies. Personally I am a fan of the older wood cut images, but I know those are are difficult to find perfect representations of various beasts. The monsters themselves are a varied lot; some local monsters like the Jersey Devil and some "from back home" like the Gargoyle and Gorgon.
I think this is a good mix, but I am more fond of the local fauna than something I can find in any book. I do have one nitpick (ok maybe two), first there is no Piasa Bird. A local legend from here in Illinois that I am surprised didn't make the cut. Supposedly the first mention of it is in 1673 (or the 1920s), Sure Illinois is way away from the Colonies. Though it was a very nearly a full state (1818) by the end point of the game, The War of 1812. The other was that the Chupacabra was included. The Chupa, for all it's fun, is squarely a 20th century invention. But these are only nitpicks, not criticisms. There are plenty of American Indian monsters too that could have been included. Some like a naaldlooshii would be good too (I know, Navajo and not near the Colonies...). Maybe A Bestiary 2 is in the works.
The indexes in back are quite useful since they also include creatures from the core rule books.
Lots of great creatures here and fully worth the price.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Colonial Gothic Bestiary
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Colonial Gothic: The Player Companion
Publisher: Rogue Games, Inc
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2014 13:09:41
This is the newest book (as of this writing) to the Colonial Gothic line. Mostly though this is related to the cover. As the title suggests this is a set of options for players of the Colonial Gothic game.
We get a list of new skills and some additions to old skills. Normally I prefer it when a game reuses old skills in new ways, esp. point buy games where the budget per skill is not likely to change. After all Character A created with the Core has the same 45 points as Character B created with this book. In this case though it works both thematically and systematically.
Chapter Two covers Advantages and Disadvantages. Characters are given 4 points to buy advantages and can also take disadvantages. Works pretty much like other systems in that respect, save there are not pages and pages of them (like for example GURPS). Most in fact are story related and can be used in conjunction with the character's Background.
Chapter Three covers family and social status. A must have really for playing in this age.
Chapter Four has a bunch of character templates. So if you want to play a Native Shaman or emulate your Assassin's Creed character then this is a great place to start.
Chapter Five details more combat options and how to use them. Think of these as advanced combat skills.
Chapter Six has more magic including Counter-Spelling and more Common and Arcane Spells.
Chapter Seven has more equipment.
All in all worthy, but not really required additions to the game. It is one of the books that if you don't know about it, you won't miss it, but if you do then you will wonder how you got on with out it.
If there is a 3rd Edition of Colonial Gothic then a lot of these rules should be folded into the main core rules.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Colonial Gothic: The Player Companion
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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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