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Modern Music Set 1
Publisher: Silven Publishing
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/15/2006 00:00:00
When a GM goes about choosing music to use in his or her game or campaign, it?s important to find music that isn?t overly distracting (in either a good or bad way), isn?t immediately recognizable (again, in either a good or bad way) and isn?t boring (there?s no good way to be boring). It?s easy to raid your soundtrack collection, of course, or you can turn to any of the music tracks that are being specifically promoted and sold as gaming soundtracks.

The four tracks presented in Silven Publishing?s Modern Music Set 1 (by Dan Cross) have a definite modern or bordering-on-science fiction vibe. All of them have the ?sound? of belonging to the soundtrack of a pay-cable television series, which isn?t necessarily a bad thing, but it does limit the music?s use in your game.

?Cyborg? sounds most like this potential television series? opening credit music. It?s the shortest track ? two minutes and eleven seconds ? and could start to grate the nerves of your players of set to repeat more than a couple times.

?Theta,? however, could be repeated to help set a certain mood. This track is not much longer than ?Cyborg? ? it?s only twenty-two seconds longer ? but its tempo is slightly varied and the instrumentation is interesting enough that this is something the GM can set to play and leave alone while he or she handles other matters at the game table. ?Theta? is a slower-paced piece, and might be best used as a ?between-action-scenes? score, or perhaps as a build-up to a climactic moment of the game.

?Robotz? tries to start impressively, but after its first thirty seconds or so, it becomes a repetitive up-tempo track that could have been used in your game?s action or combat scene. The instrumentation begins strong enough, but as this two-minute, twenty-two second track continues, it does not deliver on its promise of being an inspiring piece of action music; it becomes more "catchy tune" than "game music."

?Evolve? is the longest piece of this set, clocking in at four minutes, twenty seconds, and, like ?Cyborg,? feels like ?credit music? (in this case, it would fit over the long end credits scroll). I?m not sure it would fit very well in the middle of a game, but perhaps it could be used as either a long introduction to a gaming session as players are getting their character sheets and dice ready, or perhaps it could be played as experience points are being handed out at the end of a game.


LIKED: These four tracks are well recorded; they can easily be inserted into an .mp3 play list or recorded to CD. As compositions, they're interesting recordings.

DISLIKED: There are four distinct tracks here, but they do tend to ?blend? in their playability. A lot of them have a similar sound that is a bit distracting and repetitive. Also, these tracks would have a very narrow use at the game; they don?t have a flexibility in terms of the kinds of games, or even game scenes, in which they could be effectively used.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Music Set 1
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Fantasy Music Set 1
Publisher: 12 to Midnight
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2006 00:00:00
When used correctly, music can enhance the gaming experience tremendously. However, not all Dungeon Masters have ranks in Craft (Gaming Music), so an alternative needs to be found. Most gamers have a handful of movie or game soundtracks in their music collection, but even these can detract from the game if they?re overused (how many times can music from ?The Lord of the Rings? be used before the players expect Frodo and Sam to come bumbling around the corner?).

Silver Publishing presents four unique pieces of music produced by Eytan Bernstein in this Fantasy Music Set 1. Players will be hard pressed to immediately link this music to any specific fantasy film of game soundtrack, to be sure, but they may welcome a return to more ?traditional? gaming music after the DM uses any of these tracks.

These four tracks are short (the longest clocks in at two minutes, forty-two seconds), and lack the depth of audio quality that is required of music that is designed to fill the background. Instead of enhancing the fantasy gaming experience, these .mp3s are quite distracting in their somewhat tinny sound and lack of variety. Somewhat loop-based, these songs grow quite repetitive (especially ?Attack? and ?Demon Unleashed?) despite their short length, so a DM or GM looking for a piece of music to set on ?Repeat? during a battle sequence might be better off finding music elsewhere.

The clicking sound of what might be a recorder or player being turned on or off can be heard at the end of three of the four tracks as well.

Music can be used to better the gaming experience for all those around the table, but this Fantasy Music Set does little to inspire or complement the role-playing game experience.


LIKED: Try as I might, there is nothing I liked about this product. I'm all for adding new and unique music to role-playing games, but these four tracks contain nothing that impressed me.

DISLIKED: Three of the four tracks have an audible "click" sound at the end of the tracks, which is quite distracting. The music itself is uninspired (some of it sounds like "adventure" music from an NES game, and offers little to the gaming experience. As a player, I would be bored and distrubed to listen to this music during a gaming session. As a DM, I would chose not to use this music at all.

QUALITY: Poor

VALUE: Ripped Off


Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Music Set 1
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Publisher Reply:
HI Derek, I am sorry to hear you did not enjoy the music, but these kind of things are truly very subjective and it all depends on what the players want to hear. That is why we provide a sample of every track to ensure that buyers can listen before they buy. As you can see from other reviews on this product, the opinions vary greatly. So make sure you listen to the samples that we provide for each such product before making your purchase.
NEO MONKS: The Dragonlord
Publisher: The Le Games
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/05/2006 00:00:00
The Le Games? ?Neo Monks: The Dragonlord? takes one of the traditional player classes ? the monk ? and presents, as the title suggests, a ?new monk.? This class is less a variant of the standard monk, however, and more a completely new class with monk-like tendencies.

The Le is the writer behind this product, and also handled the layout. This supplement comes with both a printer-friendly version of the product, as well as a screen-friendly version. Both versions are presented in an easy-to-read/easy-to-use format, and for purposes of this review, the print-version was used.

The dragonlord is a fully-developed 20-level playable class. The class? roots are definitely monastic; many of the dragonlord?s abilities are derived from deep meditation and reflection. As one would assume, many of the class abilities are dragon-related. A dragonlord receives Dragon Knowledge (a bonus to all dragon-related knowledge checks and a +1 bonus to all attack roles versus dragons) and Dragon Meditation (the ability to meditate for an hour to receive a full night?s rest and healing) at his or her first level. Many of the other class abilities are tied into the dragonlord?s Soul Points, a points-based mechanic introduced here that allows the dragonlord to receive abilities as varied as Soul Edge (adding a +2 bonus to the dragonlord?s next attack roll or saving throw), Dragon Reciprocation (granting the character an additional attack of opportunity), or Dragon Stomp (allowing the dragonlord to, when jumping 10 feet into the air, landing with enough force to cause a tremor within a 20-foot radius).

Even though the common monk abilities like Improved Unarmed Strike and Evasion are also listed among the dragonlord?s class abilities, this Soul Points system really sets this class apart, and not in the best of ways. I found this new mechanic to be a bit too clunky and a bit at odds with the established d20 system in that it is a bit unwieldy to use easily. The affects of the dragonlord?s abilities are unique and bring an interesting flavor to this unique class, but keeping track of and using these Soul Points adds an unnecessary component of complexity to the game.


LIKED: The presentation, the layout, and the art are all brought together in this professional-looking package. Even though stock art was used in "Neo Monks: The Dragonlord," the art used adds to the overall supplement. Also, The Le Games has been great about including multiple versions of their products in each download. This package includes a printer-friendly version, a screen-friendly version and a Word-document version of "Neo Monks: The Dragonlord," and also includes a .pdf of the core monk class for reference and comparison.

DISLIKED: As mentioned above, I did not find the implementation of the Soul Points to add anything of benefit to the class. I felt it to be a bit cumbersome, and would prefer to see the class abilities that are dependent on the Soul Points enjoyed by PCs in some other fashion. Also, as a nitpick, there is no reason to capitalize the letter 'D' of dragonlord in this material. As the core rulebooks do not capitalize the 'C' in cleric of the 'F' in fighter, this was slightly distracting.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
NEO MONKS: The Dragonlord
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the comments! During testing, we found that the players were very happy with the abundant number of Soul Points, allowing the Dragonlord to go toe-to-toe with a fighter or barbarian! While we understand that some are uninterested in keeping track of daily Soul Points, we also determined that all our playtesters found this aspect to be as simple as keeping track of Hit Points and/or Action Points (from the modern system). Still not convinced? Well, we encourage everyone reading this to download and check out the free demo! The Le Games ? We Enhance Worlds.
E.N.Arsenal - Spiked Chain
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/01/2006 00:00:00
?E. N. Arsenal ? Spiked Chain? was the first release in E. N. Publishing?s Arsenal series. Written by M. Jason Parent, this ?Complete Weapon Sourcebook? installment takes a look at the titular weapon by presenting a bit of potential real-world history of the weapon, weapon variants, feats, prestige classes, spells and magic items.

The first chapter presents the spiked chain with more detail than the weapon has received in the core sourcebooks. Different-sized spiked chains ? from Tiny to Colossal ? are detailed here with their costs, damage, weights and hardness. Information on stowing this potentially-awkward weapon is also given.

There are a number of variant spiked chains here. The balled chain is essentially a spiked chain with a morning star head attached to either end. The chain-axe, designed by dwarves, is topped with a double axe-head. The spiked ribbon actually appears to be a sash or belt that reveals barbs along its length when used. Some of the variants are also Asian in flavor, like the chigiriki and kusari-gama.

Rules for using a spiked chain as a sort of grappling hook are given before several new feats are introduced. Several of these feats stand out. Blood Lust and Blood Frenzy (neither of which are spiked-chain-wielding-specific) increase the character?s Constitution, Strength and even armor class, but at the cost of their Dexterity modifier or maybe even a little bit of damage. Firm Grip and Firm Stance give the wielder a +4 bonus versus being disarmed or a +4 bonus versus trips, bull rush or overrun attempts, respectively. Greater Sunder and Greater Disarm give the character an extra immediate melee attack when successfully making a sunder or disarm attack against an opponent. Strike Around allows a spiked chain wielder to reduce his or her opponent?s shield bonus by half.

Two prestige classes are introduced ? the scorpion warrior, whose Ripping Blow forces his or her opponent to make a Fortitude save or suffer a bleeding wound that deals one point of damage per round until Healed, and the raveller, who combines spiked chain use with magic. The sinuous cobra school is also introduced, but this isn?t a prestige class. Instead, it?s a full 20-level playable class multiclassing the monk, rogue and, eventually, the assassin.

The raveller?s spell list contains over 30 spells, but only five of them ? ?weeping wounds?, ?steel shrapnel?, ?iron web?, vertebrate chain? and ?wall of chains? ? are new. The other spells on the list, however, are all given slight variants. For example, a raveller doesn?t cast ?barkskin?, ?hold portal? or ?blade barrier.? Instead, a raveller would cast ?iron skin?, ?chain portal? or ?chain barrier.?

Of the new spells, ?vertebrate chain? caught my attention the most. When using this spell, the caster transforms the spinal column of a slain creature into an unholy spiked chain. If nothing else, an NPC could use this spell to dastardly effect.

Six weapon enhancements and seven specific magic spiked chains round out this supplement. They are all well-designed and well-balanced.

This is a great supplement. While mostly spiked chain-specific, the material in this weapon sourcebook is quite varied, and can be used by almost any character class (a deity of chains ? Darreal, the Binder ? is even included for players interested in playing a chain-based cleric).




LIKED: This entire sourcebook is well-balanced and quite playable. Both players and DMs can find something of use in ?E. N. Arsenal ? Spiked Chain.? The artwork supplements the material nicely as well. The new spells, and the way the existing spells from the existing sourcebooks are modified, give this supplement a great deal of flavor.


DISLIKED: I'm not a fan of breaking down a multiclassed character into a 20-level progression like the sinuous cobra school. This may be a personal bias, but it isn't enough to detract from the product.


QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
E.N.Arsenal - Spiked Chain
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Spells of Farming
Publisher: Red Anvil Productions
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/24/2006 00:00:00
Writer Emmit Other is the creator behind ?The Elemental Dimension of Magic ? Spells of Farming? from Red Anvil Productions. Here, he has assembled twelve spells whose primary application is, as implied, farming. This short sourcebook belongs to Red Anvil?s line of ?Elemental Dimension of Magic? supplements, of which Farming is a subschool. Vague references are made to the Jeshatan, the people/casters for whom this is a subschool of spellcasting, but little information is given about the world they inhabit. One can guess that their world is either a harsh world in which magic has to be used to aid in their farming and survival, or that their world is extremely rich in magic and resources and that these spells have cropped up due to this. Since these spells are pretty much presented ?as is,? this supplement must be reviewed as a stand-alone product.

The first nine spells are presented in order of spell level. The first spell listed is a 1st-level spell; there are no cantrips. As material presented in a book dedicated to ?Spells of Farming? should, most of this material is strictly farm-based magic. The 1st-level spell ?bless crops? and the 5th-level spell ?harvest? do exactly what they sound like they?d do. However, some of these spells may allow for some non-farming applications. The 3rd-level spell ?pest control? creates a cloud of acid that rains down in a 10-foot-wide circle, causing 1d4 hit points/level of damage, excluding plants. The spell?s original purpose is to kill vermin and protect crops, but nowhere does it state it couldn?t be used in combat against non-plant opponents. While not as obvious, the spells ?plow? and ?create fence? could also be used in non-agricultural manners.

Some of these spells do seem to have somewhat off-putting material components however. The aforementioned ?harvest? requires a small silver model of a sickle worth at least 125 gold pieces. Outside of the time difference involved, it would seem that instead of casting a spell to harvest a 25-foot-radius area (per level) that requires 125 gold as an investment, one might afford hired help for the some amount of money.

Two of the three epic spells ? ?bless crops, greater? and ?improve soil? ? don?t seem as immediately useful, but ?rain of bovines? would definitely spice up any encounter with a sorcerer, wizard or druid using this spell.

Three of this seven-page supplement?s pages are dedicated to the front- and back-covers, as well as the d20 license. However, this product?s low price reflects this four-page spellbook?s value.


LIKED: There is some creativity to some of these spells, and with little work, they can be incorporated into your standard D&D game. The cost of this supplement is well-suited to its content; for less than a dollar, players and DMs will add twelve new spells to their spell books. For this reason, I've marked the VALUE of this supplement as 'Satisfied.'

DISLIKED: These spells seemed to have developed as a result to the living conditions of the Jeshatan, but there is no information or even a sidebar giving users players or DMs any idea as to exactly what kind of character would have created the 'rain of bovines' spell. Also, the material components of some of these spells seem somewhat mismatched.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Spells of Farming
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From the laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar
Publisher: Nitehawk Interactive
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2006 00:00:00
Shadmar was a wizard with high aspirations, and ?From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar? gives players and DMs a brief glimpse into who this character was and the mistakes he made. The mistakes are the cursed items he accidentally created, and writers Craig Tidwell and Daniel Deadmarsh have detailed eight of his cursed creations, as well as the ?amulet of creation,? the artifact that gave Shadmar the unasked-for ability to create these items.

Each of these nine items is given an illustration and a brief description, and they?re presented alphabetically. Starting the collection is the aforementioned ?amulet of creation? that, as the name implies, is the amulet Shadmar used to create the cursed items in this .pdf. There is nothing about the amulet?s appearance or even immediate use that would indicate its peculiar creation property to a player. Somewhat vague rules are given for the amulet?s actual use, however, (?It bestows to the wearer all of the metamagic Craft feats as soon as it is worn?), leaving a lot of work to the DM for incorporating this artifact into a game or campaign.

The other items in this supplement suffer the same lack of rule-focus. While most of the items? description do make clear what their particular effect is ? the ?circlet of learning? grants a +15 bonus to its wearer?s Knowledge checks, the ?ring of competence? bestows its PC a 10% experience point bonus, etc. ? exact rules and rulings are missing. ?From the Laboratory...? fails to list item costs or creation requirements. (Oddly, one specific rule regarding the ?circlet of learning? is given; this item adds 1 point to a character?s Insanity Score for every month that the item is worn. Outside of mentioning that a character?s Insanity Score acts as a negative modifier when it comes to skill Wisdom-based skill checks or saves, the Insanity Score is not further explained or mentioned again.)

Despite this lack of rules-material, there is some entertaining reading here. When Shadmar first donned the ?amulet of creation,? he became obsessed with outfitting an adventuring party with powerful magic items that could be used to forever benefit mankind. Some of the items? descriptions ? ?Eli?s shoes? and the ?flute of the farmer,? for example ? give a little backstory for Shadmar and his allies, and what happened to them once they got their hands on these cursed items.

Unfortunately, there isn?t enough rules-material here to make this an overly valuable addition to your game without a bit of work on the DM?s part.


LIKED: Each item is given a strong "flavor" description, and the included art matches the test extremely well. While there are only nine items here, alphabetizing the items is appreciated. The ideas behind these items, and more importantly, the ideas they may inspire, are strong. Also, this supplement concludes with an excerpt from the SRD, placing the Dungeons & Dragons rules for Cursed Items in this supplement's hands as well.

DISLIKED: The rules are not specific enough. While the items are well-described, the actual game rule-specific information is missing. There are no item costs or creation costs listed for any of these items, and this is extremely disappointing.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
From the laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar
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E.N.Arsenal - Whip
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/19/2006 00:00:00
The whip is already a ?niche? weapon in your d20 fantasy game, but this E. N. Arsenal installment makes the whip an even more unique weapon by fully fleshing it out, offering a few variants, feats and prestige classes. If you need to know the stats for a whip wielded by a Tiny- or Colossal-sized creature (1 hit point or 2d6 hit points, respectively), want to learn how your character can make his or her own whip or even a bit of real-world history about the whip as a tool and a weapon, ?E. N. Arsenal: Whips? is highly recommended.

Chapter One covers the basics of this weapon. As mentioned above, statistics are given varying sizes of whips, and while a D&D gamer with the core rulebooks would be able to determine how much damage a whip designed for a Gargantuan character can cause, it?s nice to have this information conveniently together in one place. Here, you?ll also get a brief real-world history of the whip, and the chapter concludes with a paragraph explaining potential fantasy racial preferences for this weapon.

Chapter Two introduces five whip variants. The whip itself is already a unique weapon, but if you?re looking for something even more exotic, this chapter includes weapons like the bladed whip (a whip whose plaited strands also include strips of slashing blades), the signal whip (which grants its wielder bonuses when performing trick shots) or the whipsword (which is a sword made up of multiple segments linked to a metal strand). This chapter also includes information on how to improve the craftsmanship of the whip (making it extra durable, for example, with an increased Craft DC), as well as variant material from which to craft the whip (a whip made of moonhair ? hair from a lycanthrope ? can bypass a lycanthrope?s DR, for example).

Chapter Three covers fighting tactics. Before presenting more than twenty new feats, however, this section first applies whip-use to some of the more common combat actions in the D&D game. Information on how to disarm with a whip, grapple or even use the Power Attack feat is presented here. The feats, most of which can be selected as a fighter?s bonus feat, are whip-specific and covers uses as varied as deafening an opponent for one round (Deafening Strike), causing damage regardless of an opponent?s armor or natural armor bonus (Whip Strike), and using the whip ?for a variety of actions beyond those normally possible with a whip? like retrieving and throwing unattended objects (Third Hand).

Chapter Four presents whip-based prestige classes. The Nailo-Shalanth whip-duelist and the thunderchild are stand-outs here, but all four prestige classes are built around 10 levels, and they are even two sample NPCs here for DMs looking to introduce unique opponents/allies to their game.

Chapter Five focuses on magic. There are three spells ? dramatic assist, drive and whipform ? and one psionic power ? pain schism ? presented here before three magic enhancements and five specific magic/psionic whips are detailed. Even though it?s obvious throughout this entire supplement, it?s quite evident here that writer Ryan Nook has strived to create a balanced product. The flair of this material never becomes unwieldy, and its integration into your existing game or game setting is apparently easy. This is the final chapter of this supplement, and ends with the introduction of Ford, the god of adventure (whose favored weapon is, obviously, the whip) and a sidebar explaining why it?s a bad idea to include War as a granted domain for a deity whose favored weapon is an exotic weapon (like a whip). (The War domain grants the cleric Weapon Focus and Weapon Proficiency of his or her deity?s favored weapon, and since the whip is already an exotic weapon, this, as Nook points out, may ?front-load? the cleric.) Again, the creators? commitment to game balance is evident here.


LIKED: This is a dense 24 pages of material; the amount of information in the sidebars alone warrants taking a look at this product. The entire supplement is well designed and well written. If you?re looking for a longer-reaching whip made of dweomerflesh (and the feat you need to wield such a whip), this supplement more than fills that need. ?E. N. Arsenal: Whips? hits all the bases of your D&D game, providing spells, magic items and even a psionic power. Very good, indeed!

DISLIKED: There's little NOT to like here. Perhaps a bit more artwork showing off the variant whips a bit more?

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
E.N.Arsenal - Whip
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17 Paladin Spells
Publisher: The Le Games
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/12/2006 00:00:00
The Le Games? ?17 Paladin Spells? actually presents 18 spells for your paladin to use, and before getting into the spells themselves, writer Tony DiGerolamo spends little time on an introduction and gives us an artifact called ?The Tome of the Crusader.? This book contains the spells presented in this supplement, and, with the suggested GM?s options, can grant a paladin bonus experience points (10,000 experience, which does seem like quite a bit) or the ability to cast an additional spell of each level per day (which seems a bit more balanced). These spells are unique and fill niches that aren?t quite filled by most paladin spells, so that they are written in this ?tome of the crusader? is fitting.

There five 1st- and 2nd-level spells each, and four spells for both 3rd- and 4th-level casting, with most of the spellcasting schools represented (necromancy is understandably not represented here). Some of the standout spells include: ?shared sacrifice,? in which the paladin transfers up to half of a creature?s hit point damage to himself; ?paladin mind trick,? which does exactly what it sounds like it would do; ?blessed favor,? which instead of aiding the paladin in combat, aids the paladin in making a skill check instead; and ?sword of the crusader,? which allows a paladin to enhance his or weapon by granting it an additional 1d4 bonus to its attack roll and damage (even if it?s already enchanted), and granting that weapon additional bonuses versus evil items and undead.

For the most part, the writing is clear, but some of the spells could use further tightening of their text. For example, the description of the 2nd-level spell ?create holy water? states ?to cast the spell, the Paladin [sic] must be in the process of turning undead creatures.? The spell has a casting time of 1 standard action, and since making a turn attempt also takes a standard action, this wording is confusing. Does it take two standard actions to cast this spell? Is it cast during the same round as the turn attempt?

Also, one of the spells refers to a concept of the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, rather than the 3.5 update. ?Righteous strike? refers to enhancing a weapon so that ?it will be able to strike and deal damage to creatures that can normally only be hit by +2, +3, +4 and +5 weapons.? This sort of damage reduction doesn?t really exist in the current version of the game.

Taking this one spell out of the mix, however, still leaves you with a total of 17 spells, which is what the supplement?s title promises. These are unique spells, and binding them all to the ?tome of the crusader? even gives you more than just a handful of new spells for a PC, but maybe even a bit of a plot hook for a creative DM.



LIKED: The artifact presented at the beginning of this supplement can inspire a number of different game ideas for the creative DM. The spells are unique and don't all focus on combat, but the ones that do are quite good.

DISLIKED: Outside of lumping them together by level, there is no organization to the spells contained in this supplement. A simple alphabetization of the spells would make it a bit easier to read. (And as a nitpick, there is no reason to make "paladin" a proper noun by capitalizing the first letter.)

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
17 Paladin Spells
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UNORTHODOX Fighters
Publisher: The Le Games
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/27/2006 00:00:00
The bastion, the bully, the dogfighter, the legend seeker and the second son are the five core classes presented in The Le Games? ?Unorthodox Fighters.? Each is treated as a fully-playable fighter-type class for use in your standard d20 game. This is a difficult and thin line to walk; the fighter can be the most customizable of the classes presented in the core rules of the D&D game. Fortunately, ?Unorthodox Fighters? doesn?t simply present classes that could have been created by adding just the right feat or a certain number of skill points. Writer Doug Kilmer?s five classes all stand out, and still manage to fill the melee-niche most fighters represent in a Dungeons & Dragons game.

Each class listing provides enough suggested background material that both beginning and experienced players can find inspiration in these unorthodox classes. Rather than just putting together a handful of special abilities and coupling them with good saves or attack bonuses, real in-game reasons for the character design choices are given. The second son wants to bring honor to his or her family, and isn?t afraid to work for it. The legend seeker strives for glory. The bastion makes lasting stands not necessarily because it is the (paladin-like) right thing to do, but simply because he or she can.

Both the bully and the dogfighter stand out the most here, but unfortunately not for the same reasons. The bully is a class designed around, as one could guess, being a bully. The ultimate in the chaotic neutral stereotype (no alignment restriction is given, but it?s made clear that the bully?s tendency is toward either neutrality or chaos), this class doesn?t seem like it would fit in well with a group of other player characters. It actually feels like it would be better suited as an NPC, so DMs may take a look at this supplement for an idea or two for a mid-level encounter for their group.

Whereas the bully seems best suited to one-up any other (player-)characters, the dogfighter might shun others because he or she would rather associate with a loyal canine companion. The connection a dogfighter has with his or her dog is much more personal than that of a ranger and an animal companion, and while the dogfighter may also shun being part of a group, the reasons are a bit more well-rounded and better suited for long-term play. Allowing this class at the game table may cause just a little more work for the DM due to the added element of the dog companion, the flavor and feel of the class more than balances out this extra bit of work.

This supplement comes both as a landscape version and a printer-friendly edition, as well as an appendix including feats and spells an unorthodox fighter might need. In the landscape version, a character portrait is provided, and while an odd choice is made in showing the dogfighter as having birds flock around and on him (instead of dogs surrounding him), the interior artwork is consistent. The cover art doesn?t match the integrity of the included text, however.

?Unorthodox Fighters? is a well though-out supplement, and is a solid addition to the game.


LIKED: These are well-defined, well-designed classes. Most players and DMs will have no trouble integrating some of them into their game. Of the classes, the dogfighter stands out as the best. It is a great concept, and great care has obviously been taken to make this a "classic" character without duplicating any of the standard core classes or their class features. Even though the bully seems ill-suited for player use, it could definitely be used as an interesting NPC class. Also, the added appendix is a nice touch.

DISLIKED: The cover art doesn't live up to the promise of these five unorthodox classes, and as mentioned before, the bully is a poor choice for a player class in a game that features teamwork and cooperation.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
UNORTHODOX Fighters
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50 New Ways to Turn Things into Other Things: Transmutation
Publisher: 12 to Midnight
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2006 00:00:00
?50 New Ways to Turn Things Into Other Things? is a spellbook written by the powerful wizard Starlanko the Magnificent, with a little assistance from d20 designer Matthew J. Hanson. As the title implies, it is a collection of transmutation spells. The first few pages include a brief introduction to Starlanko and the school of transmutation, as well as a breakdown as to how much each spell would cost (Starlanko is an enterprising individual), as well as some mention of the tactics with which these spells can be used.

It?s actually here that the supplement starts to lose some of its unique flavor. Writer Hanson, using Starlanko?s ?voice? begins discussing ?buff spells.? As a gamer, I know what a ?buff? is, but if the character Starlanko is talking with is a player character, would this word really be part of the vocabulary in that dialogue? It was a little off-putting. The same detachment from the fantasy world happens when Starlanko begins referring to feats. A feat is an in-game mechanic, and not something a character would really know about.

These stumbling blocks in the introduction aren?t enough to detract from the spells. While most of these are wizard and sorcerer spells, the bard, cleric, druid, ranger and even assassin can add a few of these spells to their spell list. ?50 New Ways to Turn Things Into Other Things? has a nice selection of spells, ranging from cantrips (like ?pants,? which causes the target?s pants to fall down around his or her ankles, or ?balance weapon,? which gives a touched weapon a +1 enhancement to attack roles) through 9th level spells (like ?petrify? which sends a 40 foot cone rippling outward, turning all in its path to stone). The bulk of the spells, however, are in the mid-range (like the 2nd-level spell ?fall up,? the 3rd-level spell ?corrosive blood? or the 5th-level spell ?flatten?). These are creative spells, and well-balanced.

Each spell?s entry includes the standard block of spell statistics and description of the spell. But this supplement does push itself a bit further offering a bit of history of each of the spells, and even offers a pronunciation of the verbal component/incantation required to cast the spell . . . in both Common and Draconic. Those are some nice touches.

Overall, these spells (there are actually more than 50) are well-written and can definitely see some use at your game table. The shakiness in the voice of Starlanko the Magnificent aside, most of this material can be readily dropped into your game.



LIKED: This supplement is available in both a full-color .pdf and a printer-friendly version, and there doesn't seem to be any loss in layout quality going back and forth between these versions. The spells themselves are quality spells; writer Matthew J. Hanson has created fifty-plus spells that could be easily-used at your next game.

DISLIKED: The use of "buff" or "feat" terminology (when spoken by the character Starlanko the Magnificent) threatens to break the illusion of the fantasy world in which this material is to be used. Starlanko's "voice" is almost not quite strong enough here.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
50 New Ways to Turn Things into Other Things: Transmutation
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FORGOTTEN WEAPONS: Stonebow
Publisher: The Le Games
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/23/2006 00:00:00
Writers Dave C and Mike Ring have put together ?Forgotten Weapons: Stonebow? for The Le Games. This supplement featuring a unique weapon for use in a d20 fantasy game comes in three formats ? one .rtf document; and two .pdfs, a screen-friendly version and a printer-friendly version. For purposes of this review, the printer-friendly version was used.

This 19-page supplement (the final two-and-a-half pages are devoted solely to the Open Game License) introduces the stonebow, an actual weapon that was first developed in Europe between 1400 & 1500 AD. Similar in design to the crossbow, the stonebow launches stones instead of bolts at its wielder?s opponents. Both the standard stonebow and a repeating variant are presented here. The indicated damage of 1d6 hit points seems well-balanced, placing the stonebow?s damage output between the standard crossbow and a bullet-firing sling.

A too-brief description of what a stonebow actually looks like and how it works is given before three special ammunition-types are presented. In addition to standard stone pellets, the stonebow can also be used to fire phosphorous bullets (only dealing one point of damage, but potentially being able to dazzle opponents), shatter bullets (potentially stunning opponents with a sonic burst) or smoke bullets (bursting into a cloud of smoke). This ammunition can also be used in slings.

This supplement continues with two new feats ? Alchemical Ammunition (which allows a character to fire vials of alchemical substances from his or her stonebow) and Skipping Shot (which allows a bullet fired from a stonebow to skip along a smooth surface to go around any cover bonuses an opponent may have) ? before featuring eleven new spells. Unlike the feats, these spells can be used by or for characters using nearly any kind of ranged weapon, not just stonebows. ?Backsling? allows a reroll on a failed attack made with a thrown or projectile weapon, while ?seeking shot? allows ammunition to negate concealment. ?Twinshot? is an interesting spell in that it duplicates the next attack with a ranged weapon ?as though an invisible twin fired an identical shot,? but the material component (a small replica of a bow or other ranged weapon worth 25 gp) seems a bit steep.

The stonebow sworn is a prestige class built around this weapon. This is an elite group of primarily-female-and-solely-dwarven warriors. It?s not an overly exciting prestige class in that most of its class abilities can be duplicated easily with spells or special equipment (casting ?true strike? once-or-more a day, gaining one of the stonebow feats as a bonus feat, etc.). This prestige class is also incredibly limiting due to its race restriction and sex preference.

That said, the description of this prestige class offers a little bonus to DMs. A column is devoted to Guild Day, a yearly ceremony held by the stonebow clans in which a large statue of a villainous orc is placed in the center of a hall and the stonebow sworn fire at it. The stonebow sworn that topples the statue is given the title ?Hailborn? for the year until the nest Guild Day takes place. This brief glimpse into this custom of the stonebow sworn could serve as a bit of plot inspiration for DMs wanting to do something more unique with their dwarven encounters.

Overall, ?Forgotten Weapons: Stonebow? is an interesting supplement, but outside of its spells, it?s such a niche product that unless you have every intention of introducing the stonebow as a weapon into your game or campaign, you may be disappointed. It?s a solid enough product; the disappointment would come from its extremely narrow applicability.


LIKED: This is a mechanically-sound supplement. The rules are well thought out, and none of this material can be considered disruptive to the game. Also, ?Forgotten Weapons: Stonebow? continues the incredibly helpful habit of The Le Games to include descriptions of various effects within the text of the rules. (Immediately after the description of the phosphorous bullet, which can dazzle opponents, the game definition of what it means to be ?dazzled? is listed in italics. The definition of ?stunned? is listed underneath the shatter bullet.) I always appreciate The Le Games? commitment to providing this kind of information within their products.

DISLIKED: The layout of the printer-friendly version of this supplement could have been tightened a bit more. An extra line inserted after the end of one spell description could have prevented the name of the next spell hanging alone at the end of a column, with its spell information floating above at the top of the page by itself. Also, the artwork is inconsistent. It?s quality art, but it?s not unified. Pieces of Elmore art start the supplement, and one of the last illustrations is a photograph of a badger (the sample NPC of the stonebow sworn has a badger familiar). It?s not overly distracting, but it did feel a bit disjointed.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
FORGOTTEN WEAPONS: Stonebow
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Hilltop Incantations
Publisher: Bailey Records
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2006 00:00:00
As a DM or Judge, it can sometimes be difficult to paint a unique ?word picture? for your players when their characters stumble into yet another dungeon or fight yet another group of goblins and orcs. When the party encounters a group of cultists performing some sort of chant or incantation to an otherworldly being bent on destruction, it might seem a bit too familiar if this is the third or fourth group of cultists the party has come up against.

A DM can use music to help enhance the story and scene, but if the DM uses an overly familiar piece of music (like a bit of music from the soundtrack of ?Lord of the Rings? or ?Conan the Barbarian?), now he or she may have to fight against any preconceptions in mood and storytelling the players may now have as a result of hearing that familiar music.

This track from Bailey Records is an alternative to this scenario. Titled ?Hilltop Incantations,? this three-minute-fifteen-second track suggests exactly that - some sort of religious or supernatural ceremony is taking place in an isolated location (like a hilltop). A rhythmic drum beat (complete with bells or cymbals?) introduces the ceremony and pulls the listeners/players closer to the action. At the end of the first minute, the tempo changes, which could imply a change in tempo at the ceremony, or perhaps even worse, the player-characters have been caught spying on this holy (or unholy) event.

Because of this change in tempo (another change in tempo occurs after another minute), this is a piece of music that can be set to repeat itself throughout an entire encounter without the music becoming monotonous.

This is a fun piece of music that has a definite dark edge, and it could add an extra touch or two to your game.



LIKED: I wrote this review from a Dungeons & Dragons player viewpoint, but it could also be easily used in a d20 Modern game or especially a Call of Cthulhu session. It's a versatile piece of music that is sure to inspire a dark mood when it's needed at the game table.

DISLIKED: I have little complaint - this is a great piece of inspiring music. Perhaps it could have been a bit longer?

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hilltop Incantations
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Advanced Race Codex: Dwarves
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2006 00:00:00
This installment of Green Ronin Publishing?s ?Advanced Race Codex? focuses on another of Dungeons & Dragons? core races - dwarves. This is an enjoyable sourcebook with lots of information for both dwarven newcomers and experienced players, complete with two new dwarven subraces, a number of new feats and spells, prestige classes and dwarven equipment. It is a nicely put together supplement which is well designed and easy to use.

?Part One: Playing Dwarf Characters? is perhaps the most ?basic? of the six chapters of this book. That?s not to say that it is somehow lesser than the rest of the chapters, but only that the material here is perhaps more aimed at a player with less experience at the game table. The writers - Robert J. Schwalb and Jesse Decker - present four character concepts and eight racial concepts that are rich with role-playing tips and suggestions. For a player that?s never played a dwarf before, the advice given here is invaluable. For a player with a little more dice-time under their belt, this material may still inspire an idea or two. (As a DM, I feel the pull of one of the racial concepts - the idea of the dwarves being a dying race, ?losing the battle with time? - and I?m sure that this idea will end up in a game or two of mine.)

?Part Two: Dwarf Options? presents two new dwarf subraces. The isen are arctic dwarves, and while there are other arctic dwarves in other dwarf-based supplements, Green Ronin?s isen stand out. In addition to a higher Constitution bonus (the trade-off is a Dexterity penalty) and applying the Stonecunning ability to ice structures as well, the isen are immune to cold damage, and most uniquely, list the druid as their favored class. The other subrace is the less-dwarf-and-more-fey-like eldlorn, or arcane dwarves. Instead of a Constitution modifier, the eldlorn are given an Intelligence modifier. They do take a speed penalty when wearing medium or heavy armor, and, as fey beings, are immune to spells and spell-like effects that specifically target humanoids. However, what sets the eldlorn apart is their ability to commune with his or her ancestor. Once a week, an eldlorn character can make use of the Ancestral Memories supernatural ability. While this ability functions like the ?augury? spell, it is the eldlorn?s ancestors, rather than a deity, that provides guidance. (And the eldlorn just LOOK cool ? their skin is a mix of gray, black and white speckles, giving them the appearance of granite.)

?Part Three: Supplemental Rules? is a collection of feats created with the dwarf in mind (but not excluding non-dwarf characters). Some of these feats include Low to the Ground, which provides a bonus to resist being Bull Rushed; and Lock Shields and Shield Wall, which allows your character to work with another shield-bearing character to receive greater shield or cover bonuses. Green Ronin also introduces a number of Spell Channeling Feats which would allow its spellcasting user to expend a spell to create a specific effect. Mystic Endurance uses a transmutation spell to increase the character?s Constitution; Mystic Resistance uses an abjuration to gain damage resistance; Mystic Sight uses a divination spell to gain a Spot bonus.

?Part Four: Dwarven Prestige Classes? presents five dwarf-specific prestige classes. The ironbound is a prestige class designed around a character becoming more and more proficient with his or her armor. The stormhammer combines magic-use and wielding of a battlehammer (a weapon which is described in Part Six). Green Ronin even takes the extra step of including information for progressing some of these prestige classes, like the acolyte of the crystal path, into epic levels.

?Part Five: Spells and Magic? contains few 1st-level spells, but this is a testament to the designers? dedication to game balance. Spells like ?acid burst? (which causes acid to spray outward from the caster?s body, causing 1d6 points of damage per level, affecting opponents and solid objects), ?ice armor? (which sheathes the caster with ice adding a +3 deflection bonus to AC and fire resistance 30), and ?shard rain? (which causes razor-sharp shards of crystal to fall into an area, dealing 1d6 per level of piercing damage) have no business being on a 1st-level caster?s spell list.

?Part Six: Dwarven Equipment? introduces exotic armor (the required feats to use this armor were included in Part Three). Articulated half-plate offers greater freedom to run and sculpted scale mail offers a +4 bonus on opposed grapple checks. Even though this armor appears in a dwarven sourcebook, this armor is not dwarf-specific; any race could wear this armor (or throw the last throw shield into battle, and maybe connect for 1d6 points of slashing damage). Some of the dwarven weapons, however, are a bit more race-specific (like the dwarven battlehammer, a two-handed weapon capable of dealing 1d10 damage), but not all of them. The hooked axe is an axe that can also be used in trip attempts, while the skullbreaker pick is a larger pick that retains the x4 critical multiplier but must be used with two hands (and does a bit more damage - 1d8).

This is a solid 35-page supplement that can be added seamlessly to an existing game, or can be used to launch a more dwarf-specific campaign. There?s enough material in here that any player, whether they prefer fighter-types, caster-types or even monks, will be able to use it. ?Advanced Race Codex: Dwarves? is typical of most of Green Ronin?s products in that its layout is clean and easy to follow, and typos are kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, It could have used a bit more artwork (especially in Part Six to help illustrate some of the more unique armor and weapons). The writing is solid and open enough that very little work would need to be done by a player or DM to incorporate this material. The game mechanics are well-constructed and are incredibly balanced, and I would recommend this supplement to anyone wanting to add some unique and usable dwarf material to their game.


LIKED: This is a solid product. The rules are well-balanced and the material is creative and unique. Green Ronin Publishing has succeeded in creating a dwarf-specific supplement that is usable in nearly any campaign with little time needed to adapt or modify the material.

DISLIKED: There could have been a bit more artwork to illustrate some of the more unique dwarven items (like the woven plate armor or forked pick). Also, while all the core classes are represented and usable by this material, I would have liked to have seen some material for players of psionic characters.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Race Codex: Dwarves
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(Su) Monsters: The Headless Horseman
Publisher: The Le Games
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/12/2006 00:00:00
Whether your vision of the Headless Horseman is Disney-inspired or Tim Burton-esque, ?(Su) Monsters: The Headless Horseman? will add a decidedly Dungeons & Dragons-flavor to the story of the jack-o-lantern-wielding horseman. This supplement is over 50 pages long and contains several different versions of the headless horseman monster as well as a few magic items and even a short story. There is no single one author of this supplement; this is a group effort from The Le Games.

The supplement begins with the short story, titled ?All For Love? (written by Martin Jenner). As a piece of short fiction, it holds up well (even if it does get a little muddled near the end), and it serves its purpose of combining the mythology of the headless horseman and the Dungeons & Dragons milieu (complete with a character named Crane). It?s a fast read at ten pages so gamers looking for hard-and-fast rules won?t get bogged down or bored with the material.

After an introductory word from The Le Games? Ewan Conradie, the next several pages detail the headless horseman for a fantasy role-playing game. A dark goddess (?Some called her Death. Some called her Vengeance.?) and her followers (?murderers, scorned lovers, sinister necromancers?, etc.) are described as having been the originators of the headless horseman. Rules for summoning a headless horseman are provided. This is a complicated ritual that is described with enough flavor to give the DM some decidedly wicked ideas for their game.

There are several different versions of the headless horseman creature, and they all stem from one base template. The instructions for creating a headless horseman are fairly simple: some spell-like abilities - like ?fog cloud? and ?crushing despair? - are added to the creature?s arsenal; any slashing weapon wielded by the headless horseman becomes a ?keen? weapon; the creature gains damage reduction, as well as the Decapitated Gaze, supernatural ability (which causes a paralysis effect within 30 feet).

Seven pages are devoted to the different types of headless horsemen, and most of these are determined by whether or not they carry their heads with them as they terrorize the land. This section does get a bit heavy and a little difficult to push through. There?s nothing wrong with the writing, it?s just that there?s so much information here that it could have broken up slimmed down into easier-to-digest bites.

Five more pages give examples of headless horseman characters (the headless horseman fighter, sorcerer, blackguard, etc.), ready to drop into a game or campaign as they are.

With all this material, only one page is devoted to actual campaign options. With as much information that?s crammed into this supplement, more material could have been devoted to suggesting just HOW to use this information in a game. There are some good ideas here (as there are in the pages describing the ritual used to summon a headless horseman), but compared to the rest of this supplement, it?s just not enough.

?(Su) Monsters: The Headless Horseman? concludes with six magic items. The ?flute of sorrow? (crafted from the femur of a succubus) which causes despair in those who (failing a Will DC 14 save) hear it and the ?key of the dead,? which can be used as the focus of ?animate dead? and similar spells. While these magic items have that ?spooky? feel, there is no attempt to tie them into the mythos of the headless horseman.


LIKED: This is a hefty book, and there's a lot of information here. The layout is consistently tight, and it's easy to use. The "mood" of the Headless Horseman is present througout the entire supplement. The idea of using a piece of short fiction to introduce some of the concepts in this supplement was a good one.

DISLIKED: Some of this material could have used a little more editing to make portions of this supplement easier to digest and use. Reading this .pdf from front-to-back is a bit numbing, especially with so many different versions of the headless horseman presented.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
(Su) Monsters: The Headless Horseman
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Poor Gamer's Almanac (February 2006)
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2006 00:00:00
Pirate weapons, new spells, a chaotic prestige class (with accompanying feats) and an enhanced hell hound is what you?ll find in this issue of Alea Publishing Group?s ?Poor Gamer?s Almanac.? Don?t let the price of this installment of the ??Almanac? fool you; even though this is a free download, there is some quality material to be found in this .pdf.

?Pirate Weapons? by Joshua Raynack details a number of weapons that would find use in a pirate-game or -campaign (without narrowing its focus so much as not to be useful in a non-nautical gaming situation). After a few brief paragraphs of concise background material, writer Raynack presents several new rules: concealment and Hide bonuses involved with black powder firearms; reliability as a mechanic for use with firing firearm weapons; and firing mechanisms that can be used to either increase a weapon?s reliability, range increment or time to reload. Additionally, rules are given for different loading types (muzzle-loaders and breech-loaders) and different barrel types (smooth barrels or rifle barrels). This section is a bit mechanics-heavy, but the new rules are easy to understand and use.

There aren?t just firearms listed among the ?Pirate Weapons.? Also included are more hand-to-hand-style weapons, like gully knives, boucan knives and boarding axes. Also the marlinespike is given stats as a weapon. These statistics and rules are well-rounded and -balanced, and can add a definite black powder flavor to your game. There?s even a new feat - Speed Loader - introduced to take advantage of some of these new weapons.

?Greater Hell Hounds? are nastier, meaner and more cunning versions of the hell hound. Cameron Guill has created an interesting and challenging beast that may thrill the DM but scare the players at the game table. These outsiders are a mixture of hell hounds and minor demons, and their enhanced intelligence definitely make them a threat most players would not see coming (especially since greater hell hounds tend to conceal themselves within a group of ?regular? hell hounds before revealing their true nature).

Unfortunately, past the initial description and statistics, not much more is said of the greater hell hounds. There are no plot hooks. These is no mention of where a greater hell hound may be encountered. At the beginning of this column, writer Guill states that if a greater hell hound is found outside its native plane, it is usually on a specific mission, yet no mention of just what kind of missions a greater hell hound would undertake is made.

(Additionally, as a nitpick, the cover of this ?Poor Gamer?s Almanac? proclaims the inclusion of the ?Greater Hellhounds? in this issue, even though the creatures are correctly referred to throughout the rest of this supplement as ?greater hell hounds.? Even in the Monster Manual, the name of the hell hound is made up of two words; it is not ?hellhound,? but rather ?hell hound.?)

Three spells are presented in ?Spells of the Month,? a new column in ?Poor Gamer?s Almanac.? Cameron Guill provides the writing for these three variations of the ?faerie fire? spell ? ?lesser reveal?, ?reveal? and ?greater reveal.? These three spells of varying intensities are druid-only spells, which might limit their use in a game, but when writer Guill states that these spells have been playtested for balance, it can be believed. These are fair spells; the only drawback is that ONLY a druid can cast them.

Shawn Folk is the writer behind the ?Harbinger of Chaos? prestige class. A character with the ability to rage can tap further into their personal chaos and fury and take levels in this prestige class. With class abilities like Chaotic Rage (adding harbinger of chaos levels to his or her rage bonus to Strength), Chaotic Toughness (adding to the rage bonus to Constitution) and Chaotic Resilience (adding the ability to expend a use of rage to gain temporary damage reduction), this prestige class would definitely appeal to the barbarian of the group.

Accompanying the prestige class is a handful of feats with the chaotic subtype. These feats (like Chaotic Vitality, Chaotic Sprint and Chaotic Reflexes) all use the character?s rage ability to produce other beneficial effects (like adding a +3 to Fortitude saves, adding a +10 bonus to speed or adding a +3 to Reflex saves, respectively). The feat Chaotic Mind, which, here, exchanges a use of a character?s rage for a +3 to Will saves, sticks out since there?s already a feat called Chaotic Mind created by Wizards of the Coast (from their ?Expanded Psionics Handbook?); a more unique name for this feat could have been chosen.

This ?Poor Gamer?s Almanac? is peppered throughout with ads and preview material for other Alea Publishing Group products. All in all, it is a solid supplement, and provides a variety of rules material that can be used at your game table.


LIKED: ?Poor Gamer?s Almanac? has a unified look ? the artwork of both the articles and the advertisements, the layout of the magazine, etc. is unified and helps to present a cohesive product. The variety of types of articles in this issue - pirate weapons, enhanced hell hounds and improved ?faerie fire? spells - makes this not just a supplement for just one gamer, but rather for an entire gaming table?s worth of gamers. Also, the price is perfect - it's free!

DISLIKED: While most of this supplement is well-edited and free of grammatical or typographical errors, the opening ?Thoughts From the Publisher? is scattered with incorrect wording or spelling and incomplete sentences. Also, in the ?Thoughts From the Publisher,? mention is made of the Alea Publishing Group?s upcoming 2d6 String System. However, more information about what this is can be gleaned from the full-page ad on a preceding page (it looks to be some sort of collectible card game with statistics that can be used for a table-top RPG).

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Poor Gamer's Almanac (February 2006)
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