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Death Knight
Publisher: Barrel Rider Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 14:35:27
This class is something of a cross of warlock and an anti-paladin. The Death Knight are not undead per se but do have their life force changed to undead or demonic power. It is a full 20th level class and in addition to fighting prowess the Death Knight has powers and spells. The class is very comparable to a Paladin only Chaotic of course. Like some of the alternate classes that used to appear in Dragon magazine the Death Knight works great, and maybe better, as an NPC class.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Death Knight
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Commander
Publisher: Barrel Rider Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 14:34:58
Commanders feel like they are on the opposite end of the fighting spectrum than beserkers. They are cool efficient battle strategists. The Commander is like a Basic-era Fighter, but his "powers" are his abilities to command and bolster others. For example at higher levels those under his command are immune to fear.
It is an interesting class and has some nice features.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Commander
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Berserker
Publisher: Barrel Rider Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 14:34:35
The Beserker class takes us back to some of the earliest days of D&D and The Dragon magazine. The Berserker presented here is different but the feel is the same. This class is a full 20 levels for Labyrinth Lord and gives the beserker such powers as Terror of the North and Form of the Bear. One can almost hear The Immigrant Song playing in background. There is a decidedly Norse flavor to this one (as opposed to say a Celtic one) but it works great.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Berserker
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Bard
Publisher: Barrel Rider Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 14:34:12
The Bard is a full 20 level class for Labyrinth Lord. Like the Bards in other games they have the ability to perform with musical instruments and they have some thief abilities as well. These bards though do not have magical abilities. I would like to see some spell casting with Bards, even if it is limited to just 5th or 6th level spells.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bard
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Angel
Publisher: Barrel Rider Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 14:33:49
What is says on the tin. The Angel class is something like a more powerful flying Paladin. It works and if you like playing divine messengers or celestial ass-kickers of evil then this might be a good class for you.
Limited to 9th level the Angel has such special powers as Heal Touch, Holy Aura, Wings and Flaming Sword.
What I like the most about this class is that it could be used as something akin to a Prestige Class for Basic-era Paladins. That is if your GM allows multi- or dual- classing.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Angel
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Castle Adlerstein and Environs Map Pack
Publisher: James Mishler Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2014 15:54:10
8 maps. Pay What You Want
The maps are all hires PNG files.
Features the hex area around Castle Adlerstein which is to be detailed in the future. Again at present it is avery sandboxy and can be used with anything. 8 maps (7 maps and a grid) and PWYW make this a great deal. It will be a better deal when the rest of it comes out too.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Adlerstein and Environs Map Pack
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Chronicles of Mhoriedh Map 00 Olden Lands Continent
Publisher: James Mishler Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2014 15:51:21
7 maps and a guidebook. Pay What You Want.
The maps are all hires PNG files.
The guidebook lists various monsters and resources of the areas. No descriptions of the lands or anything else. That is all coming in the in the Gazetteer of the Olden Lands. But it works as a huge sandbox and I was already mentally placing it in my own world. Easily worth the price of a look and throwing a few bucks into James' hat. Easily more things to do here than I can put down on paper (pixels?) now. IT really recalls that feel that getting the original Expert Set box and seeing the maps.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chronicles of Mhoriedh Map 00 Olden Lands Continent
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Ogres of the Olden Lands
Publisher: James Mishler Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2014 15:40:54
Ogres are the boogeymen of the Olden Lands. Or at least that is how they are depicted here. I love what James is trying to do with the ogres here. Give them something more of the supernatural. It works to be honest and for how little this book costs you have no excuse not to be using this to spice up the ogres in your own game. Ok though, I do plan on using this information for goblins instead! The random ogre feature tables for both Ogre and Ogre Magi is just great.

Though the STAR of this book is the Half-Ogre as a player character. Gamers of A Certain Age (like James and myself) grew up on a steady diet of fantasy and the half-ogre is the result of that. Either from the pages of Dragon magazine or the pages of Piers Anothony, the half-ogre was something that was sure to show up in someone's game in the early 80s. This half-ogre does that memory justice.

As a bonus we get the lands of the ogre and full color maps!

This book is designed to be used with any Old-School game. It is overtly labeled for Labyrinth Lord and dual-stated for Castles & Crusades, but really you could pick up anything from the *D&D family and play these.

The look of the books is certainly Old-school with the Souvenir/Soutane font.
The layout is crisp, clean and easy to read. Like other books from this publisher it lacks art (save for the maps), but I don't think it is lessened because of it.

All in all a great addition to my game library and something I plan on using in my own game world.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ogres of the Olden Lands
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Hercynian Grimoire #1
Publisher: James Mishler Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2014 15:31:53
46 pages (cover, OGL, 44 pages).
The first of hopefully more books in this series as well. This is also the first of the Olden Lands and the Chronicles of Mhoriedh line. The book is divided into a recognizable "Men & Magic", "Monsters & Treasure", "Underworld & Wilderness" and a newer, but still recognizable "Gods & Demi-gods". So needless to say I am hooked so far.

First up a great few of pages on Gnolls and their human-half breed kin the Gnoles. I never gave gnolls a second thought but this is some good stuff.

Another feature that you see the d66 table. Roll two d6s like percentile dice and get 36 outcomes. Like Traveler used to do.
Next up is a section on spells. What I love about this and can get 100% behind is that Magic-user/Wizard spells are also labeled as "Intelligence", Cleric spells as "Wisdom" and Witchcraft spells as "Charisma". It is like it is custom made for my Witch class!
There is a Gnoll encounter table, a random faerie table.

The next section is a collection of new magic items.

About half-way we get to a monster manual like section. Plenty of new hyena types and more. All monsters are dual stated.
Following some more tables we talk about some of the Olden Lands. Up first, the Realm of Alspadia and it's major settlements.
This is a pretty packed book at 46 pages. Lots of things to use to be honest and all can be added to your current game with no troubles.

This book is designed to be used with any Old-School game. It is overtly labeled for Labyrinth Lord and dual-stated for Castles & Crusades, but really you could pick up anything from the *D&D family and play these.

The look of the books is certainly Old-school with the Souvenir/Soutane font.
The layout is crisp, clean and easy to read. Like other books from this publisher it lacks art, but I don't think it is lessened because of it.

All in all a great addition to my game library and something I plan on using in my own game world.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hercynian Grimoire #1
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Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants
Publisher: James Mishler Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2014 15:03:08
This 21 page (cover, OGL, and 19 pages) book is the first of the GODS,DEMI-GODS, AND CULTS series. This one features Khraliche Karinkhamür the Chaos Queen of Ants. Presented here is plenty of detail about the cult, the sub cults and the important figures. Worshipers are detailed and discussed. We also get some new spells for both Wizards and Clerics and some new monsters.
What I like most about this is that it can be easily added to any game world. The feel is overwhelming old-school and sandbox, but that is great.

This book is designed to be used with any Old-School game. It is overtly labeled for Labyrinth Lord and dual-stated for Castles & Crusades, but really you could pick up anything from the *D&D family and play these.

The look of the books is certainly Old-school with the Souvenir/Soutane font.
The layout is crisp, clean and easy to read. Like other books from this publisher it lacks art, but I don't think it is lessened because of it.

All in all a great addition to my game library and something I plan on using in my own game world.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants
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Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/12/2014 13:51:01
Original posting here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2014/05/review-masque-of-red--
death-and-other.html

A couple of caveats. I love Victorian RPGs. Also, I primarily reviewing the PDF release.

Wizards of the Coast and their partner DNDClassics.com has released the latest PDF from the TSR/WotC back catalog, this time a product I know very, very well.

Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales is nominally released under the Ravenloft line and you will need one of the Ravenloft core books to be able to play this along with the AD&D 2nd Edition rules. However if you know the AD&D rules well enough you might be able to get by. The premise of the game it rather a simple one. What if the Dark Powers from Ravenloft found their way to Earth? Well...I should state out and out that they never actually say that, but imply it rather heavily. The is a dark, malignant force controlling things on Earth, known here as The Red Death, and this Earth of the 1890s certainly has a lot more in common with Ravenloft.

Pretty much from the time it was published to the onset of the new 3rd Edition rules, Masque of the Red Death was my campaign world of choice. I still played AD&D2 in Ravenloft, or rather, I ran AD&D2 in Ravenloft, but the lines between Ravenloft proper and "Gothic Earth" became very, very blurry.

For this review I am going to talk specifically about the PDF and only discussing the original boxed set format when appropriate.

To begin with we get five PDFs in this package. These correspond to the four books and the DM's screen.

Book I is the main Masque of the Red Death book. It is 130 pages of a high quality, OCR scan. Some the images are fuzzy, but I feel that is more due to the source images rather than the scan itself. The scan comes in at just over 35 meg.
We begin with an overview of what this campaign guide is about. I might be mistaken, but this is the first official AD&D product to take place on Earth. This followed up with a history of Gothic Earth. Things began to go downhill for everything around 2700 BC when Imhoptep (yes, same as the Mummy movies) began experimenting with darker magics. The next dozen or so pages bring us to the present day (1890s). The history is a fast read and I would not ignore it. It sets the tone for the entire game.
Chapter II details character creation. There are different methods used than the PHB to reflect that characters are not your sword wielding barbarians of a bygone age. So characters are more average.
There are rough parallels to all the classic AD&D classes, Soldiers, Adepts, Mystics, and Tradesmen. The AD&D Proficiency system is used here as well. Interestingly the system seems make more sense here (since skills are really what sets characters apart) but also shows its wear and tear.
Money and Equipment is also detailed in Chapter IV. Interestingly this one of the few Victorian era games where the default currency is listed as American Dollars rather than Pounds Sterling.
It should be of note that this also the book that adds guns to AD&D2. Quite a number of guns are detailed here as well.
Chapter V covers magic and you really need the Player's Handbook for this section.
Chapter VI covers the changes to combat.
Getting back to what really makes this special is Chapter VII An Atlas of Gothic Earth. I should point out at this point that the large poster sized map that came with the boxed set is not included here. It gives a brief overview of the world. This section is done much better in the full fledged product that shares it's name.
The first Appendix covers various character kits. If you remember 2e at all, you remember kits. Quite a few interesting ideas are detailed, but you could also do these with the base four classes and good roleplaying.
Appendix II covers some villains of Gothic Earth. There are plenty of old favorite here and some new takes on old characters. Though I will admit the one thing that still gets on my nerves is Moriarty re-done as a Rakshasa. In my games he was human. And yes, Dracula is there as well.
And finally Appendix III covers adventuring in Gothic Earth.

Book II is an adventure in 3 parts by future Pinnacle Entertainment head honcho Shane Hensley and featuring the rock star of Gothic fiction, Dracula. The advantage of this PDF over my boxed set copy? I can print this out and make changes to it. Yeah it is a good adventure, but I can't help but feel it is a pastiche of Hammer and Stoker's original work.

Book III is a Jack the Ripper adventure, Red Jack. Unlike Moriarty's change into a supernatural creature, this adventure make "Jack" into something more mundane. Normally I would be fine this, but the name of the adventure itself and some of the elements BEGS it to be tied to the old Star Trek episode The Wolf in The Fold and Redjac.

Book IV is the Red Death, an adventure based around elements of the Edgar Allen Poe story. Some details have been changed and added, but the spirit is the same. Again, I am tempted to make the main antagonist, Prospero, the Prospero.

Book V is the DM's screen.

Again I'll point out that the large poster sized map is missing.

Once upon a time this boxed captured my imagination like no other game. This PDF makes me want to crack open some 2e.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales (2e)
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Modern Basics: Feats of an Adult Nature
Publisher: NUELOW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2014 15:14:39
This is a hard one to judge.

The feats are for the most part exactly what you expect. They pander to stereotypes in broadest sense and most are somewhat immature.
I think the authors were going for that to be honest. So maybe a point up for blunt honesty.

But the trouble is that most of the feats are not much as unusable but worthless. Will "Gaydar" help me in a situation? Will I ever say "wow I am glad I took that instead of Cleave". No. Plus it would work better anyway as a specialized skill.

The price is even tongue in cheek, so I know they don't take this that seriously. Still though I like to get something for my money.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Basics: Feats of an Adult Nature
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The Werewolf Hunter #1
Publisher: NUELOW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2014 15:03:29
I am not 100% sure what this product is trying to be.

The cover is from Weird Tales, so that caught my attention.
There is a short story from Robert E. Howard. Some other stories all around a werewolf theme.

There are some comics featuring the PD character Lady Satan.
There is some ideas for a game, and the OGL.

I like that it feels like an old Pulp or Golden Age comic, but I think it is trying to do too much in one book.
For RPG elements some character write-ups say using a couple of the most popular open Supers games (Icons, BASH, M&M) would have been useful.

Lots of potential here but it needs focus.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Werewolf Hunter #1
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NUELOW Stock Art Collection #5: Visions of Beauty and Nightmares
Publisher: NUELOW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2014 14:56:40
Clipart Collection #5

30 pages, split between black & white and color versions of Golden Age inspired art.
A license is included for you to use the art on your website or publication, but you are warned that the images might not be of high enough resolution.
The art has a cool Golden Age Horror comic vibe to it. Not sure what I am going to do with it yet, but it is pretty cool and only $2.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
NUELOW Stock Art Collection #5: Visions of Beauty and Nightmares
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Publisher Reply:
Hi Timothy, Thank you for your review! I just want to clarify that the content is adapted from Golden Age comics art, not inspired by it. It consists of retouched and/or edited cover images, or individual panels from stories. Also, the resolution on all the illos should be fine for any digital use--even at 200 times the size we present the art in, I think, if you want to crop this or that detail for a particular image for a spot illo. Most of the scans are NOT high enough resolution for quality print products, though. --Steve Miller
The Complete Vivimancer
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome Productions
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/14/2014 21:40:21
I recently downloaded The Complete Vivimancer the new book from Necrotic Gnome Productions, the same folks that gave us Theorems & Thaumaturgy.

Gavin Norman, of the City of Iron blog, gives us a new(ish) class, the Vivimancer. The book is 88 pages and advertised as Labyrinth Lord compatible with both Basic and Advanced stats (more on that in a bit).
The class was introduced in Theorems & Thaumaturgy. The basic class is a type of Wizard/Magic-User and detailed on two pages. The experience per level, saves, spells, and attacks are not too different from the Magic-user normal.
For the Advanced option elves and half-elves can also be vivimancers. Interestingly enough elves can advance to 11th level and half-elves to 10th. I would have expected it to be the other way around.

The next substantial chapter is on Spells and Laboratory procedures.
The biggest expense in gold and time for the vivimancer is his laboratory. The vivimancer according to the rules needs to spend 6 hours per day in his lab. I wonder how much time this leaves for adventuring, eating and sleeping. Sure some apprentices can cover this time. Upkeep costs is 10 gp per spell level, so about 1980gp per month at 20th level. Not unreasonable really.

The next 65 pages detail spells levels 1 to 9. Like most Labyrinth Lord compatible products the spells are compatible across a wide variety of products. You could use these with any old school product wizard, magic-user and yes witch. Though to do so I think robs the class of some it's charm and power.
The spells are a varied sort. There are some very useful, some are variations on a theme and others will have limited utility to the adventuring vivimancer. But all have a lot of style. If you prefer your games a little more G-rated then this isn't a book for you. While not as over the top as Carcosa or Lamentations of the Flame Princess, there are a lot of cutting things up and putting them back together.

The chapter on magic items is nice varied lot as well, with attention paid to things the vivimancer needs to perform his craft.

We also get Appendices on Psionic Powers and Mutations. Both are fine and work but in use I might swap out the same rules in the Labyrinth Lord compatible Mutant Future.

Overall I really liked it. Like the book said why let Necromancers have all the fun. There is a lot here that can be used in any game really even if you never use them as a class. Personally I wonder what a bad guy team of a Vivimancer and Necromancer might produce. Heck with the Advanced rules, a Vivimancer/Cleric.

There are couple of places where Insanity is mentioned but not a lot of details on how insanity would work in a game.

The art is somewhat sparse, but it is all original and unique to this book (ok maybe 1 or 2 are in T&T). So that gives it a sum positive in my mind.

The book is 88 pages, as mentioned above, and lists at $10.00 for the PDFs. Maybe a bit higher $/page ratio, but I'll be honest I am not sure where to price these things. I think $7.50 would have been best, but I am not judging.

I have to admit I was set to like this book. "The Complete Vivimancer" reminds me of the old Bard Games "The Compleat Spellcaster" and "The Compleat Alchemist". Not just in terms of title and feel, but in terms of content. This is the sort of thing I enjoy from the OSR/Old School publishing realms. I like something I can drop into my games with no issues. Plug and Play gaming.

I would like to recommend this book. I particularly recommend it as a change of pace from the evil Necromancer NPC.

There is a lot to love about this book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Complete Vivimancer
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to write the review Tim! Just to clarify what you mentioned about the rules for laboratory usage: the requirement of spending 6 hours a day in the lab is only when a magical procedure (i.e. a spell) is underway. The rest of the time the vivimancer is free to go adventuring or get up to whatever mischief he or she should wish.
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