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Complete Guide to Fey
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/09/2005 00:00:00
A hidden treasure. It's almost a "fey building toolkit". Can recreate the fey in the core book or make your own. Definitely consider this if you have a campaign featuring fey or even on with fey as PCs.

LIKED: I like toolkit products, I like fey... what else is there to say?

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Complete Guide to Fey
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The Second World Sourcebook
Publisher: Second World Simulations
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/09/2005 00:00:00
One of the most intriguing settings and toolkits out there, curiously ahead of its time.

Second World sourcebook presents a parallel earth as a fantasy world, but is also flexible enough to use your favorite fantasy game world as a destination for modern characters. Being able to use Earth and plug in fantasy ideas is a very convenient setup.

The way that the warden powers shapes the world can be used to plug in a variety of different setting locales; I use Nyambe, Freeport, and Legends of the Samurai. It's also my world of choice when running published modules.


LIKED: The in-depth discussion of converting between d20 modern and D&D.
The idea of warden powers
The pact system (Marilith forensic surgeons and summoned bio weapons... how cool is that?)



DISLIKED: Some of the setting elements could use fleshed out a bit more. If there were room...

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Second World Sourcebook
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Legends of the Samurai Hardcover
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/09/2005 00:00:00
A fine resource for gaming in medieval Japan or a fantasy version thereof. Classes are well done, closely based on fact and legend behind the classes. Very playable in different types of games in the setting.

LIKED: Well researched, well balanced.

DISLIKED: Samurai should segue into Ronin class better. Could perhaps use a little more setting material.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legends of the Samurai Hardcover
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The Dread Codex
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2005 00:00:00
A nice little collection of undead creatures and other undead related crunch, updated (theoretically) to 3.5 rules.

Some of these creatures you will recognize if you have many other d20 references, but some were new to me. There are a lot of neat little purpose built and interesting undead creatures in here, such as flying skulls with a hatred for magic items or a prestige class to allow ghouls to become ghasts.

LIKED: Some of the art is awesome. I especially dig the cinder ghoul.

There are "in your campaign" sections that provides some ideas for using the creatures. Some of the advice is pretty apparent (like observing that some treasure is from dead adventurers), but some of it is well considered and should spark some ideas for using these creatures in your game.

DISLIKED: The layout is not the best, especially for an Adamant product. Creature descriptions start in the middle of a column. The placement of art could have served both to deal with the column arrangement issues and to have presented the art better.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Dread Codex
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Lions Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy
Publisher: Lion's Den Press
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
An unusual product to say the least, but a nice one to have. Classics of Fantasy provides different takes on some classic creatures. So if you want snake-men, chaos-spawm, or psycic alien entities, either because you are a publisher who can't tap into the wizards IP, or are merely a GM who wants to go a fresh direction or wants to surprise your players, this is a nice book.

In some places, while the author taps into the same basic concepts, he turns some things around. For example, the Ophiduan social caste is reverse from that of the Yuan-Ti; the most human ones are the nobility.

I also like the Ei'risai. Randomized traits were sort of an afterthought with the slaad; the concept is a lot more central to the Ei'risai.

LIKED: Ophiduans and Ei'risai, mainly.

Cover art is also good.

DISLIKED: Being a fan of the XPH, I would have much rather seen the Ophiduan's and the Phrenic Scourge magical abilities expressed in those terms. (Incidentally, Malhavoc's Hyperconscious contains such a beast, an open content mind-flayer like alien psychic entity.)

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lions Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy
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Blue Rose - The Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
Blue Rose is intended as a system to represent the "Romantic Fantasy" genre, which Green Ronin defines as various novels with authors such as Marion Zimmer Bradly, Tanya Huff, Dian Duane, and others, marked by strong female protagonists, often with psychic powers, and a nature-friendly outlook.

The book has a setting revolving around this style of play, and a system to support it. The system is a stripped down version of the d20 system (no d20 logo, hence they are free to provide basic chargen details.) It reduces the class set to three classes, uses a background system to add further details. The spell and magic system are skill-and-feat based. The 3-18 statistic range of classic d20 is replaced by simply a stat modifier for each stat.

The setting does not feature the standard Lord of the Rings inspired races, but a new set of races.

LIKED: The system. It's a good adaptation, much truer to the ideal of a "simplified d20" than C&C.

I love both Stephanie Law's and Jennifer Meyers' artwork, and the whole book is simply beautiful.

DISLIKED: I thik they went just a little too far in cutting corners on classes; it leaves you too little flexibility with skills as your character advances.

Other than the races, the background of the Aldis setting is pretty typical of a d20 fantasy setting. On first blush, the nations and cultures of the setting seemed a bit uncomfortably like charactures of modern social issues.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Blue Rose - The Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy
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MEG: Artificer's Handbook
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
Of all the MEG products that have been hitting PDF, this is the one I was waiting for. Strangely enough, I don't really agree with the author's main fist-shaking tenet: that paying XP for magic items is a bad thing.

But I do like the slot method for creating items (as opposed to the spinstery old-school "you stop for tea and you have to start all over again" approach) and the types of items you can create with it.

LIKED: Great system and ideas. The slot mechanic also removes the artificial distinction between bonus and normal items, which also makes conversion of pre-3.5 material easier

DISLIKED: I don't care for "generic" style item creation feats; it doesn't leave particular classes or organizations with special and unique item creation capabilities, which would strip campaign specific elements of flavor (fortunately, this is easily ignored.)

Art also wasn't the greatest; this is from before Soler was doing his best stuff.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
MEG: Artificer's Handbook
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Aasimar & Tiefing: A Guidebook to the Planetouched
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
A very nice sourcebook of character options for planar gaming in general, not just for planetouched characters.

LIKED: The planetouched creation system is just what the DM ordered when it came to peicing together some of the odd individuals that haunt the corners of planar games.

DISLIKED: Some of the PrCs are a little weak or otherwise did not grab me conceptually.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Aasimar & Tiefing: A Guidebook to the Planetouched
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Six Living Planar Gates
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
An imaginative selection of gates/portals for use in your planar game. Just using one of two of these should empasize to your players they aren't in Kansas anymore.

DISLIKED: One of the entries is a bit TOO bizarre for my taste, and if you read into it just a little it seems tack to boot.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Six Living Planar Gates
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Publisher Reply:
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "tack" but I'm fairly certain I know which entry you're talking about. It wasn't until after publication that someone suggested to me that the Princess as a gate was a little . . . suggestive. I never even considered it as I was writing, instead thinking fairy tale strange when the idea came to me.
Advanced Player's Manual
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
Provides a bevy of new character options for the game, including a luck statistic, new core character classes, a race customization system, more detailed treatment of skills, and a variety of new feats and spells.

LIKED: The Eldritch Weaver makes for a great variant spellcasting class with some spell like abilities; does a much better take on the "Warlock" concept without kicking the existing spell system to the curb.

DISLIKED: Skip repeats his quirky mass combat system from "Cry Havoc" here. Why a mass combat book is in a "Player's" manual is one head scratcher, but more importantly, it's just not a great system. Very table-reliant and it has some odd rules for unit sizes.

I am generally not a fan of new core classes but I was particularly not jazzed to see a MORE combat oriented cleric variant.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Player's Manual
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Fantasy Player's Companion: Fantastic Stunts
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
These stunts are based on the action point rules in the Unearthed Arcana book; if you were looking for an electronic version of those, these are they.

The stunts are basically additional options that you can use with action points.

LIKED: Makes for a great action point handout to print out and pass around the table for player use (except for the following...)

DISLIKED: I wish they had repeated the text about metamagic feats from UA.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Player's Companion: Fantastic Stunts
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Bow & Blade: A Guidebook to Wood Elves
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
I hear complaints about all the elf books out there...

And to be honest, I am not seeing too many. I figure people forgot that this is not second edition anymore.

Well, at any rate, I opened this book expecting something more typical of elf supporting material and was presently surprised. Yeah, there is some of the typical stuff you might expect for elves, like elfy prestige classes (one of them being the soul archer -- very cool) and spells (canopy walk should make fans of Lodoss War all happy inside), magic items and feats.

The twist of the book is the elemental elves... five new elven subraces. Yeah, I know, you are tired of FR elven subraces. But these subraces make magic of elves seem authentic. These races are LA 3 and gives elves the abilities they are legendary for. Tie this up with the material on a new elven deity, it's a great package, with both good ideas and good mechanical support.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bow & Blade: A Guidebook to Wood Elves
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Advanced Bestiary
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
If you like templates, this is one of the two books you should have in your collection. As Book of Templates has yet to be updated to 3.5, you might bookmark that one and get this one first.

The book has an interesting and inspired selection of templates. Some are more complicated to apply than others, but the book has a system fore-warning you. One template allows you to mix and match creature. The selection of "dread" undead templates provides you with template versions of non-templated creatures, and surprise versions of templates the players have learned to underestimate. Then the book has some great takes on a variety of concepts -- dream creatures, making a creature into a swarm of smaller creatures, the four horsemen of the apocolypse.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Bestiary
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The Dungeon Under the Mountain, Level 2
Publisher: 0one Games
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
Pretty much the same deal here as volume 1.

If you are familiar with some of 0one's other map products, you should be familiar with the "control" feature that allows you to hide or display different features. The older product like dungeon rooms let you add and remove traps, chests, doors, etc. The map scale here is different, and it allows you to turn of the highlighting of colored and numbered rooms, as well as traps, teleports, and numbers, and a ink-conserving option for print-outs. Lets you print the maps, run them from your laptop, and prepare player versions of the maps as well.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Dungeon Under the Mountain, Level 2
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The Dungeon Under the Mountain, Level 1
Publisher: 0one Games
by Alan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
Ah, man. Some old school nostalgia here. If you ever ran/enjoyed the old 2e Ruins of Undermountain, the look (and the title) should be familiar.

If you are familiar with some of 0one's other map products, you should be familiar with the "control" feature that allows you to hide or display different features. The older product like dungeon rooms let you add and remove traps, chests, doors, etc. The map scale here is different, and it allows you to turn of the highlighting of colored and numbered rooms, as well as traps, teleports, and numbers, and a ink-conserving option for print-outs. Lets you print the maps, run them from your laptop, and prepare player versions of the maps as well.

LIKED: Flexibility, nostalgia.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Dungeon Under the Mountain, Level 1
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