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100 Steampunk Inventions
Publisher: Lee's Lists
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2013 12:50:43
I balance cost against the value of an RPG product, and an item priced at a dollar is an easy sell for me.

With that in mind there isn't a single cent of value in this product.

Its a complete rip-off. It is not a list of 100 steampunk inventions, it is a list of 100 sentences which appear to be compiled either by a random word generator or cut & paste.

Each is : (name) & (name)'s (nonsense sentence) powered by (steam, coal, radium), this (size) device is useful for (most practical adventurer / person of breeding / etc).

For a buck I knew I wasn't going to get any sort of detail, but I expected that I would get some ideas about steampunk devices that I could expand upon, seeds as it were.

Instead I received gibberish. There isn't the slightest indication of what any of these items are supposed to do.

Don't waste a dollar. There is nothing here.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
100 Steampunk Inventions
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Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One
Publisher: FASA
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/17/2012 22:34:49
A poor product. You get 98 actual pages, about a third of which are NPC statistics. Art is frequent, the blocky, primitive type usual to Fading Suns. Each page is fitting with ink-cartridge killing black heading bands and scroll-work.

The scenarios presented within are simplistic, and linear to an extreme. The players get two or three choices at best, and the actions of NPCs are so scripted that player participation seems rather moot.

The objectives of two scenarios are endless wealth in the form of utterly invaluable tech, which is rather loosely guarded at best. A common device is the ‘moral choice’, where the authors substitute a (rather vague) moral dilemma in place of a plot.

Despite a vast number of adjectives which were expended in an effort to bring various extremely specific settings to life, there is not a single diagram, floor plan, deck plan, or map in the book. Given that ships and a space station are extremely common scene settings, and two assassination attempts (which are pre-foiled in the plot) are planned, there are no tools to help a GM set out who is where, even at the most basic level. The authors would have done well to drop half or more of the art and throw in at least casual layouts of key areas.

Although the book opens with a reference to the Questing Knights, the scenarios are free-lance operations in the service of a minor House not well covered in existing material.

In summary, you would be better off just taking the brief descriptions of the enclosed scenarios listed on the product site and using them as seeds, as the full material adds very little.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One
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0one's Colorprints #10: The Sunken City
Publisher: 0one Games
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/15/2010 00:53:31
Oones has the best maps, bar none. I have bought most of their product line and will likely own all of it eventually.

That said, I docked them a star for this product because the Rule the Dungeon feature (while nice) is wonky in this product, and because since I use the maps as jpgs with MapTool, I'm stuck with the big ugly button covering a portion of the map. The older products' discrete check boxes were much better.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
0one's Colorprints #10: The Sunken City
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Whitewash City Set 5
Publisher: Hotz Stuff
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/08/2009 00:51:34
On the surface, this appears to be a great buy-you can download a sample, which is excellent.

They promise high production values-they're not bad.

They promise flexiblity (quote):

"All models include Blank Floor Plans of EVERY floor, so you have the option of creating your own perfect floor plans to match your own games/scenarios."

What they do not mention is that the pdf is locked, so if you had hoped to copy & adjust those blank floor plans, or use the floor plans in a virtual tabletop, you're out of luck.

And $10.

If they had bothered to add that simple fact (locked pdf) on the prodict listing it would be no problem, but all you get is a 'zip file' listing.

Good thing I only bought one set to check the hype.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Whitewash City Set 5
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e-Adventure Tiles: Wilderness Cabins
Publisher: SkeletonKey Games
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/11/2009 00:54:24
You cannot go wrong with E-A tiles. These are particularly useful as you can set up a small (and simplistic) village, a cabin in the woods...many options.

Remember, guys: you've done dungeons & caverns to death. Village & urban tiles, chop-chop!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
e-Adventure Tiles: Wilderness Cabins
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Whitewash City FREE Model Sample
Publisher: Hotz Stuff
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/11/2009 00:52:41
I was only interested in the floorplan for my virtual tactical maps, and as such the sample was crisp, clean, and well-drawn. I'll be buying more WW products!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Whitewash City FREE Model Sample
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Broken Swords & Battered Shields - Lorekeeper's Tome
Publisher: visioNation studios
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/14/2009 13:01:12
You get a hefty package for your purchase price ($6 when I bought it); the core book is 379 pages; the bulk of the 160mb download is the character sheets, battle board, and cards included.

The core book is printer-friendly; art is sparse and B&W, simple mood stuff with some truly awful drawings of people and creatures.

The writing in this product is poor, and in need of editing: incomplete, choppy sentences, incorrect use of tense, a shotgun approach to the use of commas, confusion about ‘affect’ and ‘effect’; very amateur work. Its not too bad except when the writer attempts to explain complex ideas such as the career path system, when it becomes almost illegible. The use of acronyms is fierce; there is even one for the character sheet. This is an excerpt from the combat section: “On your CRS (character record sheet) you will notice CAV, RAV, DDV, PDV, and SDV. These are the prime fighting scores for fighting without magic or powers. The CAV (Combat Attack Value) or RAV (Range Attack Value) is what you roll to hit an opponent and the DDV (Dodge Defensive Value), PDV (Parry Defensive Value) or SDV (Shield Defensive Value) is the number you roll to dodge, parry or put a shield in the way of their return swing. See, easy!” The five-page glossary is mostly a list of acronyms.

There are 12 acronyms used to detail a weapon’s stats, plus Weapon Type. There are also exotic weapons such as the Curvana, Curvia, Curvalla, and Curva Knife to name four. Despite being a fantasy game, you can equip your PC with an 1851 Navy Colt revolver, repeating rifle, or sawed-off shotgun. The writer says heroes prefer swords to doing their killing at a distance (the revolver has a range of 300’), but does not explain why. There are also cannon and a variety of grenades and bombs.

The game itself has the Strange Name Complex, in which things familiar to gamers are given new names in an attempt to add ‘color’; for example, Emmortal instead of Immortal, Grizzer bears, Elfare for Elves, and Drazz’n for Dark Elves (that name is so familiar-where have I heard it?). On a positive note, phonetic pronunciations are provided for the more exotic titles, something far too rare in RPG products.

There is a wide variety of races, and both Humans and the Elves (Elfare) have sub-cultures. And every single race and culture has a unique mount. The animal and insect Kingdom was heavily culled to come up with a unique creature that is ridden by that race or culture (one Human group actually rides horses-how they survive against Grizzer cavalry or Dwarves on centipedes is uncertain). The races are pretty stock: Men, Elves, Dwarves, weres, ogres, cat-men, dog-men, bison-men, lizards-men, goblins, Orcs, and so forth, all with new names. While the game places a heavy emphasis on role-play, the descriptions of races and cultures limited to physical & environmental descriptions, and the kewl nature of their unique (and often unlikely) mount. No information on what makes these races or cultures different from each other (other than the traditional mish-mash of pluses and minuses to stats & skills) is offered.
Despite the stated emphasis on role-play, there is no depth at all to the races listed, much less the cultures. While both races and cultures are tied to specific geographical locations, no information on those locales, the world, nor is a map provided.

Combat is basic in format: one Initiative roll for the whole battle (meaning if you do something quick the first round, you can hold the first slot no matter what else you do during the fight), followed by the traditional roll to hit with a d20 and countless pluses and minuses, most of which have three-letter codes. I am a veteran of years of Rolemaster, and the BSBS combat system seems slow, calculation-heavy, and clumsy. In addition, cards (included in the purchase) are dealt out to add random factors to the fight, such as your weapon breaking. Then the fight is tracked second-by-second on the included Battle Board.

In keeping with the stated focus on role-play and setting, primary villains are referred to as ‘Bosses’.

The spell creation system is not bad at all; it isn’t as heavily beset with acronyms, either. Basically, a PC takes a very generic spell and uses his powers to tailor its range, damage, etc to his needs of the moment.

In short, this work is nothing more than the outgrowth of someone’s house rules (obviously, someone who loves endless pluses, minuses, and kewl acronyms) designed for endless dungeon crawls.

I will give the writer credit for making reference to Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie material. That’s worth a star.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Broken Swords & Battered Shields - Lorekeeper's Tome
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A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying
Publisher: Green Ronin
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2009 16:22:13
I am a great and long-standing fan of the excellent epic; it is one of the most original concepts to hit fantasy fiction in quite a while.

This product, however, falls badly short in depicting it. You get 224 pages which are print-hostile, with color borders on every page, colored backgrounds for tables, and far too much art, much of it second-rate. Less art would save a lot of printer ink, as these are big pieces.

By page count about 12% of this product is the setting; the rest is (besides art) a very clunky, dated d6 game system. You get a grand map of Westros, spanning two pages, which is decent quality, but there is no indication of scale, so its use to a GM is questionable. It, too is in color, which means printer unfriendly, and likely would not print well set in B&W. No smaller maps of any sort are included.

Unless your players are fans of the core works, they will not get much of the flavor. Setting issues which make the books so interesting (the winters, maester’s chains, the stirring of magic, etc) are hardly touched upon. The writers have managed to take a truly great setting and reduce it to the extremely vague.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying
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Skull & Bones
Publisher: Green Ronin
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2009 16:18:32
D&D at sea. The production values are average, with second-rate interior art (verging on truly amateur stuff). The use of a margin intended to look like a map makes it very printer-unfriendly. Setting detail consists of Wikipedia articles on various personalities, and a decent listing of the major islands and colonies; each island has a period-esque map the size of two postage stamps which lays out the coastline and major features. There’s also a full-page period map of poor quality. Fortunately, maps of the region are but a Google away.
In terms of setting, there is very little; the politics of the period are touched on, but not in any organized way; the New World in this period was a hotbed of politic, religious, and social issues, all of which are virtually untouched by this product.
The writing is plain and primitive, and needing the work of a good editor; the authors tried to stay in period, but still made many obvious blunders in terms of ships, weapons, and social conventions which are wrong for the period (given that this is AD&D, its not really an issue).
Organization of the material is poor; the book is more a series of articles than a coherent whole.
The goal of the product is to create a campaign of pirate heroics, as implausible as such a setting might be; whether deliberately or by accident, the authors undermine this by noting various pirate personalities’ career spans, which normally were measured in terms of months. They also note the bloody and bestial nature of the pirates, something few works of this period actually admit.
A lack of research in several areas hamper this work, notably the decision to rate cannon (a key aspect in the pirate genre) by ‘small’, ‘large’, etc., and to use terminology that is not period appropriate, all when the actual period measured these guns by the weight of the shot they threw, and whether the barrel was full-length or not (a long nine-pounder, as an example).
Ironically, this work would be of tremendous value to anyone wanting to base a campaign on Tim Power’s ‘On Stranger Tides’, an undertaking I heartily recommend.
The section of Voodoo consumes far too many pages, all the more so because it contains no spells, merely a guide to adapting D&D spellcasters to Voodoo. As such, it elevates the Bokor to the dominant forces within a campaign, as tarred wood ships carrying tons of gunpowder are no more than so many fireworks displays awaiting a low-level spell.
The writer’s treatment of Christianity is very juvenile and disrespectful; its treatment of slavery is not much better.

Positive: Useful for fans of Tim Powers; inexpensive.

Negative: Juvenile writing styles, poor organization, lack of editing, shallow period research, poor choices on terminology, portrayal of religious and social issues likely to be offensive to some readers.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Skull & Bones
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Buccaneers & Bokor Treasure Chest (Issues 4-6)
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/09/2009 19:00:47
I picked up this trio for $1, and as such it badly over-priced. There is very little material of any depth. The ‘setting’ information is available on Wikipedia for free. The writing in these products is poor, and the editing is worse; for example, ‘the’ is often used in place of they’, and mis-use of words is common, for example the use of ‘Straight’ instead of ‘Strait’. The first three issues weren't bad, but these latter three are worthless. A few minutes browsing Wikipedia will obtain more information for free.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Buccaneers & Bokor Treasure Chest (Issues 4-6)
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Buccaneers & Bokor: Treasure Chest (Issues 1-3)
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/09/2009 18:54:38
I picked up this trio for $1, and as such it was a fair value, but for more than that these products would have been greatly over-priced. There is some decent B&W art, and a couple articles of interest, but very little material of any depth. The ‘setting’ information is available on Wikipedia for free. The writing in these products is poor, and the editing is worse; for example, ‘the’ is often used in place of they’, and mis-use of words is common, for example the use of ‘Straight’ instead of ‘Strait’. Wait for it to go on sale.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Buccaneers & Bokor: Treasure Chest (Issues 1-3)
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Modern Floorplans: Nightclub
Publisher: Fabled Environments
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2009 20:58:39
Decent product. The floorplans are sharp and presented in a variety of styles. Its not as good a value as Oones products, but Oones doesn't do modern, so its decent enough.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Floorplans: Nightclub
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Modern Floorplans: Diner
Publisher: Fabled Environments
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2009 20:58:23
Decent product. The floorplans are sharp and presented in a variety of styles. Its not as good a value as Oones products, but Oones doesn't do modern, so its decent enough.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Floorplans: Diner
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Modern Floorplans Volume 2: Goin' Out [BUNDLE]
Publisher: Fabled Environments
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2009 20:56:55
Decent product. The floorplans are sharp and presented in a variety of styles. Its not as good a value as Oones products, but Oones doesn't do modern, so its decent enough.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Floorplans Volume 2: Goin' Out [BUNDLE]
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Modern Floorplans: Neighborhood Drugstore
Publisher: Fabled Environments
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2009 20:55:25
Decent product. The floorplans are sharp and presented in a variety of styles. Its not as good a value as Oones products, but Oones doesn't do modern, so its decent enough.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Floorplans: Neighborhood Drugstore
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