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Bardic Lore: Riastradh $2.00 $1.00
Average Rating:3.8 / 5
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Bardic Lore: Riastradh
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Bardic Lore: Riastradh
Publisher: Highmoon Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/29/2011 16:02:05
Very cool for any Celtic flavored game and cool for any game to be honest.
The warp-spasm of Cú Chulainn is something that has been in the stories of the Ulster cycle, but never really implemented well in a game. This is a pretty good way to do it.

If you are running a Celtic game, then this is a good product to have. Great price as well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bardic Lore: Riastradh
Publisher: Highmoon Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/15/2006 00:00:00
Bardic Lore: Riastradh is a 10 page pdf product and the fourth in Highmoon Media Productions' Bardic Lore series which chronicles the travels of the bard Amergin O Mil as he records in his journal all things magical, mundane or exotic. This particular journal entry relates to the Riastradh or warp spasm, and brings the Celtic myth to life in a d20 fantasy environment.

Bardic Lore: Riastradh comes as a single, bookmarked pdf file. Highmoon Media Production provide professional and quality layout and editing, and the pdf looks good despite its length. The text is densely packed, so it means you get a little more for the page count than one would normally expect. There are two excellent art pieces in the pdf that depict warriors in various stages of a warp spasm. Overall a high quality presentation from Highmoon Media Productions.

The Riastradh or warp spasm is an ability akin to a barbarian's rage ability, although different in its implementation. During a warp spasm a warrior's form and shape change into a powerful force of destruction and reckoning. The riastradh is mentioned several times in Celtic tales, and this pdf brings the ability or feat to life in several different ways throughout the pdf. Scattered in the pdf are descriptive examples of what happens to a warrior during the riastradh, providing enticing examples of what to expect and visually imagine.

Two ways of introducing the riastradh into a d20 game are presented - the warped ones 'race' and the warp legacy feat. Warped ones are those humans that have the special touch or destiny, and they gain the ability to use a warp spasm. The riastradh of a warped one is stronger than that of a character with the warped legacy feat. Details of the warped one 'race' are provided including personality traits, descriptive details, and game mechanics. The warp legacy feat is a special Riastradh feat that allows one to discover your destiny and grasp hold of the might of the riastradh.

The riastradh is quite a strong ability, and based on the above implementations would probably require some careful balancing by prospective DMs. The warped ones in particular should probably be given a level adjustment of +1. Complete details of entering a riastradh, ending one, how to deal with armor while growing in size and other details are fully described in the pdf. A character capable of warped spasm is driven by a geas-like honor and reputation, and although this is touched upon in the pdf, it is not detailed sufficiently. In fact, it refers the reader to another Bardic Lore product, something that is always painful to see.

Having detailed the riastradh, the pdf provides a good number of other options related to the warp spasm. The first is the warped one paragon, a three-level class that can turn a warped one into a paragon of his kind and powerful wielder of the riastradh. The second is a collection of Riastradh feats, each allowing characters touched by warp spasms to expand on their abilities. There's an excellent collection of options here, making for a versatile and flavorful description of Celtic myth in a d20 fantasy universe. The pdf concludes by providing lore DCs to learn about the riastradh and a sample NPC which has a rather faulty and incomplete stat block.


LIKED: Bardic Lore: Riastradh is a good pdf which truly brings Celtic myth and tales to life. It provides a number of options related to the warp spasm or riastradh, making for a very useful pdf. Artwork and layout is good, and general presentation excellent. The mechanical implementations of the riastradh provide a number of different ways to introduce this into a campaign.

DISLIKED: The riastradh is a strong ability that some DMs may feel is overpowered and may require some additional tweaking to balance it. The NPC stat block provided was poorly done and incomplete in places.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Peter, thank you for your review. If you can, please email me directly at daniel [at] highmoonmedia.com and let me know what was wrong with the stat block so that it can be fixed and reissued as an update to the PDF.
Bardic Lore: Riastradh
Publisher: Highmoon Games
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2006 00:00:00
Riastradh is a product in Highmoon Media?s Bardic Lore series. Each PDF takes a different idea from Celtic mythology and applies it to D&D. The rules are presented with just enough history, plus a glazing of flavor text, to make them interesting and put them in context.

The thing I?ve enjoyed most about the Bardic Lore books is their ability to showcase the influence of the myths of the ancient Celts on D&D. Before reading Riastradh, I had no idea what the ?warp spasm? was, or how it related to the idea of a barbarian?s rage. It seems that the concept of the berserking warrior was not limited to the Norse, and the Celtic version was even more fanciful and chaotic than one might expect.

During a warp spasm, the recipient becomes a living embodiment of rage. His skeleton twists and inverts beneath his skin, his hair stands on end and drips with blood, and his organs protrude from his body. While in this state, the warrior mows through enemies with a mindless, ruthless efficiency. At its heart, its very similar to barbarian rage, but the description (taken directly from actual Celtic mythology) makes it seem like something more alien and terrifying than the charging Viking.

The game ability described in this book is not the barbarian's rage class ability, but it is statistically very similar. The warp spasm gives its recipient bigger bonuses, and it lasts longer, but it comes at the price of temporary Con damage. There are two ways to access the spasm: a character either has to be a member of the warped one race (a human with the blood of the riastradh), or somehow gain access to the Warp Legacy feats. The two methods are presented side by side, with advice for using one or both, depending on your campaign.

I prefer the feat option, honestly, as it seems like it would be easier to retroactively add to an existing campaign. Also, since race must obviously be selected at character creation, players must set out to learn the Warp Spasm from the beginning, rather than developing that direction over the course of several adventures. Fortunately, the Warped Ones aren?t really a brand new race so much as slightly altered humans, so either option would probably work with minimal tweaking.

The book?s mechanics, while sound, border on overpowered. I thought the Warped One probably warranted an ECL of at least +1. The race itself isn?t that powerful (though it has unbalanced ability scores), but the free access to the Warp Spasm once per day pushes it over the top. Likewise, the Warp Spasm feats seem a bit powerful compared to other feats and similar class abilities.

The main balancing factor of the Warp Spasm is temporary Constitution damage that the character suffers once the spasm ends. The book makes a special point in mentioning that this damage can only be partially healed via magic (the rest must be recouped normally). While this goes a long way toward balancing the spasm?s potent combat enhancement, I?m not sure if it goes far enough. The Warp Spasm lasts far longer than most D&D combats, and the bonuses it grants are hefty. Due to the Con damage, I think that most players would save their Warp Spasm for pivotal combats, after which the penalties of fatigue and diminished hit points won?t matter. A clever DM can (and should) work around this, but it doesn?t change the fact that the Warp Spasm is obviously better than most other feats.

While I?m a bit wary of the new rules in Riastradh, I wouldn?t call them broken. Part of the challenge is that, according to the mythology that inspired the ability, the Warp Spasm was an incredibly potent gift granted only to the greatest heroes. That?s a difficult thing to emulate while still maintaining a measure of game balance, so I have to cut the author some slack.


LIKED: Bardic Lore: Riastradh is a well-written book that takes an idea from Celtic myth and fits it neatly into D&D. The ideas in this book, and the way they are presented, are downright inspiring. With a bit of rules tweaking, the Warp Spasm will definitely find its way into my D&D campaign.

I honestly had no idea that such a bizarre and fantastic ability was part of a real world culture. This book gives no less than three methods to insert the Warp Spasm into a D&D game, plus advice and supplementary rules. Everything is clear and professional, with a lot of flavor and rules crammed into ten pages.

DISLIKED: It?s not likely that I would use the Warp Spasm as written in my home D&D campaign. The idea is neat, but the feat seems a bit powerful for my tastes. Perhaps if it had a more meaningful tradeoff or, at least, one that couldn?t be so easily circumvented, I wouldn?t be quite so wary. It?s not unbalanced enough to be called broken, so I can?t deduct major points. Without some long term playtesting, I?ll chalk my objections up to personal opinions and call the ability slightly overpowered.

There were a few mentions of concepts called Enech and Gessa, which are detailed in another Bardic Lore product. I found the references to rules detailed in another book a little annoying, but this is a minor point of contention since these rules aren't in any way essential to Riastradh.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bardic Lore: Riastradh
Publisher: Highmoon Games
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2006 00:00:00
Bardic Lore: Riastradh is a new sourcebook from Highmoon Media Products, released as part of their Bardic Lore line of products. The zipped file is just under 1.5 megabytes in size, containing two PDF files. The first is the actual product, weighing in at almost the exact same size as the zipped file. The second is a small (64 kb) PDF file detailing a St. Patrick?s Day contest that has, as of March 25, 2006, ended.

The main file is ten pages long, including a single page that is both the cover and an in-character except, and a single page for the credits and OGL, leaving a solid eight pages of game text. The product has no table of contents, but does have full bookmarks. Company images, colored tables, and the bit of cover art notwithstanding, the product only has two pieces of black-and-white interior artwork. As such, having no printer-friendly version isn?t that great a loss.

The product opens with an in-character accounting of seeing someone entering a ?riastradh,? or ?warp spasm.? Drawn from Irish folklore, this is a state that characters can undergo that warps their body into that of a huge beast, so that they can tear through their enemies. The exact flavor text is left intentionally ambiguous, so that players may specify exactly what their character?s riastradh looks like.

The book presents two ways that characters can undergo a riastradh. The first is that they are members of the new race presented in the book: the warped ones. Warped ones are essentially humans who are born for greatness. They?re born to humans, and there?s no way to identify them until they first enter a warp spasm. As to why they?re born that way?only the gods can say. The warped one race presented here is laid out in full PHB style, and has distinctive and separate racial traits from humans. Their major ability is to enter a warp spasm, which is mechanically similar to, but still different from, a barbarian?s rage. The other way a character can make use of a riastradh is to take the Warp Legacy feat. This feat, which means you?re descended from a warped one, lets you use a lesser version of their warp spasm power.

The book then spends a few pages defining a riastradh in more detail, including the effects of entering one, the exact consequences of the size change involved, and ending a warp spasm.

The Warped One Paragon class is given next. This three-level class is effectively a racial prestige class, that only warped ones, or characters with the Warped Legacy feat can take levels in (though that doesn?t seem to be explicitly stated anywhere, it?s quite obviously the intent). The class is given a PHB-style entry before the exact mechanics and powers are given.

Eleven new feats are given next. All of them are ?[riastradh]? feats, with prerequisites that only a warped one or (in most cases) someone with the Warped Legacy feat can take. All of them either increase the power of your warp spasm, or decrease its drawbacks, or both. One feat is notably epic-level.

A sort section on bardic lore is given, detailing what a bard can find out about the riastradh, and those who use it, at various DCs. The table also works for knowledge checks too, though those have a +5 increase to the DC (as the riastradh is more a subject of lore than study or religion). Finally, a sample NPC warped one is given, in the new NPC style laid out in the DMG II.

Altogether, Bardic Lore: Riastradh is a product that is as versatile as it is interesting. It presents a new mechanic that is innovative but still balanced, along with myriad options for introducing and customizing it in your game. Changing the flavor is easily done, as one needs to just alter a few names and flavor text to use this product in any kind of setting. Any game, be it fantasy or modern, could benefit from having a warp spasm introduced to it.



LIKED: I enjoyed learning about how this was inspired from actual Irish folklore. I also appreciated how there are multiple ways to make a character that can use a warp spasm, as well as great options for customizing a character with that ability.

DISLIKED: The product didn't have a printer-friendly version, but that's a very minor complaint given the size and sparsity of artwork. I would have liked it, however, if the product had told me how to pronounce "riastradh."

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review, Shane, and I'm glad you enjoyed the product. It is one of my personal favorites. The pronunciation of "riastradh" (in Old Irish) is REE-uh-struth, with the final "th" being the same sound as in the words "then." In Modern Irish, the "th" becomes a "uh" sound. Either one is correct, though remember these are approximations since I am not a native Irish speaker. Maybe I could start embedding sound files in the Bardic Lore products with the pronunciations of the Gaelic words.
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