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RDP: Monsters of Illusion
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2006 00:00:00
From Reality Deviants Publications is "Monsters of Illusion," by Kenneth "Axel" Carlsson and artwork again from Jason Walton. (I wasn't aware of Jason Walton's work prior to reading these two supplements, but I really liked what I saw and look forward to more from him.)

After a brief introduction in the form of a journal entry from adventurer Bendelbrook of Lorthin's Creek, the book dives into its main subject - monsters and creatures that derive their unique abilities from some form of illusion magic. Each monster is prefaced with an excerpt from Bendelbrook's journal, and wraps up with adventure hook suggestions. As with the sidebars from the "A Touch of Evil" supplements, these hooks provide DMs with suggestions on how best to work this new material into an on-going game or campaign. I'm already considering using an ever-changing ooze or shimmer dragon in an upcoming game session! (In fact, this seems to be one of Reality Deviants' strengths - making their material user-friendly and instantly-usable.)

The first appendix (there are three in this 27 page .PDF) provides a handful of new spells, including confuse tracks, which does exactly what it sounds like it does, and 'betrayal's illusion,' which causes its target to believe his or her companion has committed an act of betrayal. I could easily see how 'betrayal's illusion' could be useful in the middle of combat - there's nothing like a little in-party fighting to help the villain escape! The second and third appendixes provide NPCs based on the "Monsters of Illusion" creatures and adventure locations using the new material and rules, respectively.

"Monsters of Illusion" does have a few formatting and grammatical errors (mostly spells improperly capitalized and not italicized, a few columns not lining up or the occasional typo), but these are not overwhelmingly distracting.


LIKED: Ease of instant use, diversity of moneters

DISLIKED: Some minor editing issues

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
RDP: Monsters of Illusion
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RDP: A Touch of Evil, Vol. 1: Orcs
Publisher:
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2006 00:00:00
After spending just over a page discussing the importance of having unique villains in a role-playing game, and then about as much time explaining how orcs can be used to fill that antagonist role, Reality Deviants Publications' "A Touch of Evil: Antagonists in Your Campaign, Vol. 1: Orcs" wastes little time presenting six NPCs that can inserted into any role-playing game or campaign. (And for DMs that need a little help, sidebars are included providing several suggestions for how to best utilize these characters and pit them against a party of PCs.)

Don't discount this book as just another NPC collection. As a DM, I pride myself on being able to create my own NPCs for my games, so I very rarely look at pre-generated villains, but at least two of these orcs (one is technically an orc/half-dragon, while one is technically a half-orc) are incredibly tempting to use in an upcoming game. Each one of these characters can be used in one-shot style games or, with a little tweaking and imagination (and maybe a little sidebar advice); they could all individually find their way into a campaign. (Or, as in the case of the aforementioned orc/half-dragon, could become the campaign itself.)

Don't expect a treatise on orc history or culture here. Instead, this product focuses solely on individual villains who just happen to be orcs. These NPCs were created keeping their orc heritage in mind, but as individuals, they provide the biggest threat to your PCs.

Each of the NPCs is given a brief history. As a DM, I wish all the players I've had at my game table over the years put this much flavor and thought into their character backgrounds. These orc NPCs could have all been boring and bland (they're orcs, after all), but writers David Jarvis and Chris Swenson have given each one depth, personality and purpose. The accompanying artwork by Jason Walton fits oh-so-well, and completes the pictures of these orcs perfectly. (Jason Walton also provided the cover artwork along with co-writer David Jarvis.)

Overall, I would recommend this supplement. It's a quick read with lots of information about its subjects, and has given this DM at least one idea for an upcoming game or two.


LIKED: Ease of instant use, well presented material, well written and planned

DISLIKED: Some of the orcs here are magic-users, yet there is very little orc-specific magic material listed

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]

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