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[PFRPG] The Genius Guide to the Time Thief
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2010 16:14:28
THE GOOD --- If you like time travel, buy this product. It fits easily into any campaign and would blend in well with the existing chronomancy material because it really is a present-only class. It doesn't cause significant paradoxes. This product is a self contained class. It has everything you need to play this class and add it to your campaign setting. Built as an upgraded thief, the class brings a lot of material to the table with two good saving throws, a rogue attack bonus, 6 skill points a level, d8 hit points and typical martial weapon proficiencies. The class has no alignment restrictions so anyone can play. Giving up 2 skill points and rogue abilities, the Time Thief gains a boat load of temporal abilities which are nicely spaced across the 20 levels of the class. A lot of choices in abilities makes sure that Time Thieve's are different. It also opens the door to additional ability choices. The only thing the class isn't good at is combat, with no abilities to enhance damage or other combat elements. However, a few magical items and certain feats, would probably shore up this shortcoming for the more combat oriented among us. The class, using certain abilities, becomes an excellent trap breaker and has strong roleplaying opportunities - if you don't mind having the same conversation more than once. The Time Thief is the king of avoiding the Faux Pas. This is a VERY good present-only chronomancer. The class has a lot of different abilities which are all very well themed to time travel, but have minimal impact on the past or future. Even the few abilities which dig into the past or future are either temporary or have negligable impact. There are welcome homage's strewn throughout the product with a nod to 'Back to the Future', 'Price of Persia' and references to Deja Vu and the Butterfly Effect. I got a great laugh out of "Bolt Time" which points squarely at the Matrix's 'bullet time'. I have probably missed some. You'll have to discover them for yourself. LAYOUT - Layout - I very much like the clean and simple layout. The artwork, the lovely model Veronic, is well used. The text is easy to read. The cover is well designed. The high volume of white will make printing easier. The book is only availible in a landscape format but it is a PDF and designed to best appear onscreen where it will be seen most often. THE NUETRAL --- This text in this product is written with the tone of 4th edition. It's fairly subtle but I suspect the writer is well versed in 4th writing. This does not impact the product negatively and I could be totally wrong. It's very definetly a Pathfinder compatable class written with strong flavor text to support it. I just kept looking for the colored boxes. The class is obviously created to mimic the Prince of Persia character but that does not detract from it. It is an excellent source for temporal ideas and I'm glad this class was created. THE BAD --- There are 4 photographs in this document, and 2 of them are cropped and used twice. With access to a live model, it is a shame additional images were not used instead. However while the images are cheesecake, they are very tastefully done and compliment the product. The spells referenced in the document, time stop and temporal stasis, should have been included. It's just a little touch which would have meant adding another page but it would save the user from having to look that material up. It took me less than 20 seconds. I would have liked Owen Stephans to push the boundaries a little more. Although the Time Thief's abilities are creatively employed, they are all old abilities. Everything from Haste to Time Stop to undoing 1 round of actions - these elements are very familiar to everyone. This does make the introduction of Motes and Aevums, which limit the use of the powers, easier to understand but I would have liked to have seen some time travel. I say that even knowing that the product size would double trying to include time travel rules, and it would create headaches making the book syngergy with other time travel products, which it does nicely the way it is right now. Motes and Aevums are a good idea, unfortunately, they are yet another custom system that will never be used again. I might have dug around in Pathfinder to use a system for limiting daily powers that was compatable with your ideas which was supported by the core material. I realize that's asking you to write by cutting out clips from one newspaper article and gluing them together in a different order, but it also would give the product the possibility of synergies with future products. Finally, you stepped one foot into the old trap and insulted Time Travel with the second paragraph of your product. Time travel is an important part of fantasy roleplaying, especially since we the Players are trying to imagine back to historical times. Controll over time and paradoxes should not be any more important or difficult than keeping a handle on powergaming, hoarding or other troubles at the table. Still, I'm very impressed with the class and the efforts you have taken to make it very playable and balanced. I hope I haven't been too harsh with my review. It really is an excellent product.

Mark Charke

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] The Genius Guide to the Time Thief
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Fantasy Occupations & Signs
Publisher: Skortched Urf' Studios
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/16/2007 00:00:00
This is a logical conversion of the profession system from d20 Modern to d20 fantasy. It's hardly a new thing and goes back to the days of 2nd Edition kits. Your character has a background that provides you with a feat or another ability and several skills become class skills for you. It's a min/max'ers dream - but it's also a good roleplayer's dream.

Its very frustrating trying to play the pickpocket wizard because Sleight of Hand is cross classed. So that character concept isn't really viable unless you also play rogue and become and Arcane Trickster or other class. This system opens up a few more doors without having to spend levels on classes you don't want to take.






LIKED: The Fantasy Occupations offers characters more flexibility in character design by allowing them to choose a number of skills to become class skills.

DISLIKED: Some of the occupations offer some fairly significant (powerful) feats. The signs, while interesting, require tracking celestial cycles, something I've never seen done in a game - so it requires a little extra effort to implement.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Occupations & Signs
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Character Drawbacks
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/16/2007 00:00:00
Having played with Flaws that grant feats I've seen how unbalancingly powerful they can be, especially early on. In some cases characters could qualify for prestige classes much sooner - and suffering a -1 penalty to ranged attacks isn't much of a hardship to bear.

Gaining 4 skill points is more functional, especially with the skill rank cap. It lets a character have a few more background skills which will probably never rise above 4 ranks, unless the character's Intelligence score increases later.

Everyone loves flaws (sort of). I have players who insist on taking them! So here is a fair system for rewarding their roleplaying efforts. Some of the flaws are arguably better or worse than others openning the door for min/maxing but 4 extra ranks in a skill is hardly game breaking.


LIKED: It enhances character generation without making characters that are overly powerful.

DISLIKED: I would have liked different levels of flaws, worse flaws granting more skill points than lesser flaws.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Character Drawbacks
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Bad Dog
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/02/2007 00:00:00
As a dog lover and a role player this is a great little article to give a lot of flavor to dogs in a Modern setting. A good number of different dog types are given stats, ranging from the Great Dane, my favorite, to the wolf.

The book provides feats for getting a dog, in case you don't have druids or rangers in your campaign - likely in the modern setting. Other feats give dogs abilities ranging from Barbarian Rage to Seeing Eye Dog Training.

The Dogman prestige class is part ranger, part cop. There are dog templates to give your dog an upgrade and new tricks for dogs (see Handle Animal). And my favorite is ACE the great dane at the end of the book - born to be the "best of the best".



LIKED: This book gives dogs a little more flexibility and options. The Animal Companion for the Dogman prestige class is accelerated to account for the higher level you must be to start the animal companion progression.

DISLIKED: There are no clear rules as to how your dog earns a template. I would have liked to have seen some advancement options for dogs. However they must be forgiven because both of these areas touch on character creation which is not allowed under the d20 liscence.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bad Dog
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Blood and Time
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/18/2006 00:00:00
Blood and Time opens with a snappy cover and both print and on-screen versions of the PDF, pretty much a standard in PDF publications today. It offers 3 new prestige classes and a new occupation.

There is a slew of new weapons and equipment for different time periods which is heavy on the iron/bronze weapons, ideal for an older age fantasy campaign. This helps fill out the oldest weapons not already listed in the d20 Modern.

The chapter on temporal mechanics takes a look at different forms of time and how major changes to the past affect the future. This look at elasticity is must better than the all-or-nothing hard line many writers take on time travel, trying to establish very strong rules to prevent paradoxes.

Hitler and the Nazi?s are so very often dragged into time travel that it has just become a staple and here they are again, but along side Egypt and other civilizations. There is a slew of NPCs to go along with these organizations.

On an esthetic note, I enjoyed the art. It would have been a really nice touch if the clock hands changed on each page, but it would have meant a lot of extra work for the Easter egg. The picture of Hitler and what appears to be a time machine is a darned sight better than the clock-o-rama that older chronomancers have been saddled with.

Most of the book, pages 41 to 80 of 81 pages is taken up by a timeline of earth giving a year by year account of events from 1897 and 500 BC then jumping back by millions through the other ages. This is a useful extra if you are running an Earth campaign and can be adapted to other settings but isn?t something you want to print otherwise. There are some neat adventure ideas tucked in among all this history.


DISLIKED: There is no way to actually time travel in the book. This is my chief complaint about the book (and please correct me if I somehow missed it) but there are no time machines, no spells or powers, no rituals, no magic items or natural gates that allow time travel. The book discusses method, accuracy, preparation time, effects of transport and size/weight restrictions but there no examples of actual time machines. The GM is left to create them herself.

?Paradoxes are headaches.? This negative statement starts the section on paradoxes and could have been better worded with a positive spin. The book offers two solid solutions to paradoxes ? you can only change an event once (difficult to enforce) or paradoxes shunt you over into an alternate time line which is a great solution to these problems.

None of the Anomaly prestige class?s abilities indicate what action (how long) they take to perform and none of the three prestige classes gain the ability to time travel.

There is no index or table of contents, although the book is short enough that this is not a major problem.



QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Blood and Time
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DM Genie - Software for 3e RPGs
Publisher: Mad Scientist Studios
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/19/2005 00:00:00
The DMgenie looks like a great peice of software. It is very flexible - all the stats can be changed to suit the DM. All the monsters from the SRD (the Monstrous Manual) are included in the program. You can modify monsters by increasing their HD, giving them class levels or changing their ability scores and more. With the DMgenie you can run the entire game in the program. It even rolls up random treasure for you and the treasure tables can be modified to roll up more or less of a certain type of treasure.




LIKED: It is very flexible

DISLIKED: Every monster I generated with this program had errors in its stats. I purchased this program to double check my numbers as a d20 writer. The number of bugs makes the product virtually unusable. I have reported the bugs to the program designers and hope for a patch of some kind in the future.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DM Genie - Software for 3e RPGs
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The Evoker Core Specialist Wizard
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2005 00:00:00

The Core Specialist wizard I was most looking forward to, I decided to finish my collection of this serries despite being released as a reviewer for RPGNow. This has been a good serries of specialists.

As with the other Core Specialists, the format fits very well in the screen and there is a more page-freindly version for printing. This is a short product that focuses on the evoker, providing a few feats, a couple of new prestige classes and a new version of the evoker class.

I guess red was taken by the enchanter, because the format for the evoker is green, acid green. It's a good format but I couldn't help but wish for flame red or orange. However it's a smart decision not to copy the color of another book and anyone who liked the matrix or Star Trek's borg will get a kick out of the color.



LIKED: Like the other core specialists, this is a solid expansion of the core rules. It fits perfectly into existing rules and provides a variant from the basic evoker without being over-powered.

DISLIKED: Perhaps it is because this is the product I most wanted to see, I can't help but want it to be more than it is. I feel the evoker was given enchanter and conjurer abilities.

The evoker can reach into his pockets and pull out mundane items at random. This is one of the major abilities of the evoker that replaces their standard feat every five levels. I'm a little disapointed in this ability because it seems appropriate for a conjurer instead.

The Arcanamest is a great prestige class but requiring 3 item creation feats, other than scribe scroll, is a steep cost. A human evoker would have to use up All of his feats to take the class starting at 6th level. A non-human evoker could not take it till 7th. Item creation is great but in a practical sense it does not make for a good adventurer unless the character is rich and has lots of time and xp to make items. Again, this prestige class really seems like something the enchanter should have.

The elemental troubadour is another interesting prestige class but I don't think it is appropriate for evoker. The character must take bard levels to get this class and I feel this would be better suited to a bard or cross-over book.

I realize everyone wants to avoid enhancing the fireball spewing evoker class. It is an interesting solution to touch on elements from other schools of magic and other classes. It does tend to round out the evoker and give the class some interesting abilities not related to raw destruction but its not for everyone. Some people are really going to love this product though. I might just love watching everything burn down around my characters too much.



QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Evoker Core Specialist Wizard
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Publisher Reply:
Avoiding the fireball or magic missile machine was something I decided on long before starting to write this product. I didn't want it to be d20 fantasy's version of a wizard machine gunner and thought it would be more interesting to take the "something from nothing" aspect in different directions. Sorry for disappointing you in that regard, but I'm glad you're still satisfied with it. Also, I'm glad you took the time to come back and review it--from past reviews I knew you were looking forward to it.
The Transmuter Core Specialist Wizard
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/01/2005 00:00:00
This book has a new version of the transmutor specialist wizard, 2 new prestige classes, new feats, some new magical items and mundane items.

The pages are shorter than normal pages ? each page fits in a computer screen. This is handy because you can see the whole page at a higher resolution without having to scroll up and down to see all the text. Included is a print-version, where the pages are the normal length and the border has been removed. I?d like to see more companies build their products like this. It solves a problem with columns where you have to scroll down and then up to continue reading the column.

One of my favorite roleplaying elements is polymorph and similar shape-changing abilities so my favorite part of this book is the strong emphasis on shapechanging, especially in the prestige classes. Like Enchanter, this book has a very strong border without overpowering the text. There isn?t a lot of art but that which there is fits the topic very well. I like the focus on material components. Transmutors get a lot of lee-way in terms of what they use for components, especially with the Improved Eschew Material Components feat.

The Fury prestige class is an interesting mix of barbarianism, magic and shapechanging. Requiring 4th level spells, rage and an alternate form, this sets the prestige class at a fairly high level, at least 10th but it looks like it is worth it.

I have some confusion about having an alternative form. This can be a difficult thing to get. I assume spells such as alterself or polymorph do not count ? they aren?t special abilities. The Druidic wildshape does not mention alternate form, and you have to invest 5 levels in druid to get it anyway. Lycanthropy seems like a way to go, but even the ?cheapest? lycanthrop costs 3 racial levels, unless you are using some Savage Species style rules in which case you can get it for 1 level. Vampirism also has an alternate form and so do some races but they all have a number of race levels required. Perhaps some examples are in order. How did you intend characters to gain their alternative form for this prestige class. (I want to try the class out!)

I really like the Morph Mage prestige class. I regret that polymorph does not last very long as of the 3.5 edition but it helps balance the game. I would like to see a feat or ability that increased the abilities the mage gets. Using polymorph you never get the supernatural or extraordinary abilities. As a dragon, this means you can not use breath attacks.



LIKED: The book is a solid expansion of the Transmutor specialist. It offers a lot of options for someone wanting to play a character of this class. I play transmutors and having this material is handy for creating a new one. For the cost, there is no reason not to pick these up to enhance your Players Handbook material.

DISLIKED: I would like to be able to get the supernatural and extraordinary abilities, even in a limited capacity, as a Morph Mage. Another feat could fix that up. I would like some clarification on ?alternate form?.

I?m still very much waiting for evoker!


QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Transmuter Core Specialist Wizard
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Publisher Reply:
"Alternate Form" is one of the special abilities available to the Transmuter core class beginning at level 10 (second on the list.) This is because the PrC is purposely intended to be taken only at high level.
The Valley of Frozen Tears
Publisher: Ancient Awakenings Publications
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2005 00:00:00
Overview: This product describes a valley and the places, people and creatures within it. It is designed to be added to any campaign setting. The product is generic in some areas, NPCs are not named, there are no references to places outside the valley and so forth, so that it can better fit into any whatever setting you are using.

There are 3 files. A JPG cover. The standard version of the product and the Print version which has no shaded backgrounds.

CR: The valley appears to be a challenging area for characters between 1st and 8th level, or higher, depending on the number of players. A few simple additions could continue to make the area challenging for higher level characters.

Art: The art is classic ink drawings which are simple to print and well done. There are some really neat snow pictures which make tremendous use of the white spaces.

Monsters: Every monster is stated out, meaning there are blocks of information for them. Most of the monsters are taken straight from the SRD (from the Monstrous Manual) but some are new and a number have minor variations ? such as the arctic versions of animals.

NPCs: Writing NPCs is a lot of work and there are a lot of NPCs in this book. Each NPC is detailed from CR 1/2 up to CR 6. This gives the game a lot more flexibility and allows the DM to build mixed groups of opponents or allies.

Mixed in with the NPCs are ?rules to remember?, reminders on how to use skills especially for the NPC these rules are next to. This is very important because it points out to the DM potential strengths of the DM that might go overlooked. A lot of NPCs are built to perform a certain task very well and may have skills, abilities and feats which synergy that the DM might miss otherwise.

I am undecided if it is a good or bad thing, but there are no unique NPCs. Each NPC is a generic woodsman, merchant and so forth. This is the theme for the product to better allow it to be added to any setting so perhaps it was the best choice. With the stats all done, a DM only need make a few notes to flesh out these generic NPCs into unique ones.

Maps: There are ten pages of maps. I always like to see maps because it gives the players places to go and allows them to better visualize where they are going.

Equipment: There is a list of the standard equipment from the Player?s Handbook but there is availability. This is a nice touch and adds a theme to the setting. Some items are more easily available and others may be very hard to come by. This helps maintain the setting. For example, while it is possible to get oriental weapons, it may be too hard or time consuming for the players to bother pursuing them. This cuts down a little on the min/maxing.

Cold: This book has new cold rules. There are several levels of cold and the appropriate saving throws required to endure them without taking damage. Wearing clothing improves the cold level. The better the clothing, the less severe the weather affects that player. This makes it well worth picking up a masterwork winter cloak made from a creature that had cold resistance ? such as a winter wolf. I like this because it gives mundane equipment importance without resorting to making them magical.

Standard Fare: There are no classes, prestige classes, feats, spells or even many new magic items to distract from what this product is ? a well detailed location. There is nothing here to min/max players or make them more powerful. It is an interesting place where which you can explore and enjoy adventuring in.

Bookmarks: There are no bookmarks in the PDF. I rarely use them so this has little impact on my impression of the product. I use the Find command and depend on the Index and Table of Contents. The table of contents is clear and organized. There is no index but the product is short enough that creating one is not absolutely necessary.

- Edit: Since writting this review it has come to my attention that I have worked with the writer, John Bowden. We worked together on the charity book Heroes of Hope. I have not changed the review, only added this notice. -



LIKED: Rather than an entire adventure, this is a location you can insert into a campaign setting. It is fleshed out with a lot of NPCs, new monsters, locations and even new rules regarding the cold.

Cost: At 68 pages and with the amount of work put into the book I was expecting it to cost considerably more than it does.


DISLIKED: About my only complaint is that the animals have no descriptive text. DM?s not familiar with them will have to refer to the Monstrous Manual. I would have liked to have seen a paragraph or two describing the creature in brief and its role in this setting.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Valley of Frozen Tears
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100 Horror Adventure Seeds
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2005 00:00:00
The Meat
The core of this book is 100 horror adventure ideas, each taking up one page. It describes the situation, three twists and an epilogue ? what happens afterwards. There is a tremendous amount of material here, covering a wide range of horror movie plots without referring to any movie in particular. It is all generic and very usable in any campaign. While some seeds are inherently set in the modern day, a few changes can adapt them for any setting.

I like the material. It is a good source for ideas. Instead of watching a hundred horror movies, you can search from this material for the ideas. I?m really temped to go look at the fantasy and sci-fi adventure seeds.

Sprinkled throughout the book are words of wisdom in sidebars. They offer ideas on how to improve your game and where to look for additional ideas. They are good reminders for old game masters and great advice for new ones.






LIKED: It's a big book, full of useful ideas. Its great for a GM who did not have time or the inspiration to coble together an adventure or who wants inspiration doing exactly that.

DISLIKED: I raised an eyebrow when the book opened with an accreditation for ?stress related illness? and ?sleepless nights? but after 100 pages, I can write that off as deserved author humor. I was a little put off, however, by the Word About Piracy section which says to the reader ?Odds are you do not really give that much of a crap?. It goes on to ask for donations. This should be reworded without the frustration.

The 100 Horror Adventure Seeds opens by commenting on how difficult it was to write and then puts down the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. The author apologizes that the book is not as good as the other adventure seed books because his source material was not very good. This should be cut. Never put down your own product and just not a great idea to put down popular pop culture.

It can be frustrating to write and publish but the customers do not want to know about it. They want to just enjoy your book and appreciate your labors. Complain to your fellow authors and publishers because complaining to the customer just puts them off.

The writing is consistently possessed of a mild awkwardness. For example, grabbed at random:

?The child is the second coming of Christ. Well, perhaps not the second but perhaps the fiftieth. The powers that be on Earth like their positions and power a great deal and do not want to lose them in some religious upsurge or with the end of the world as we know it.?

Perhaps is used twice in the second sentence. In the third sentence ?them? refers to power (singular) and positions (plural). There are two clich?s in the third sentence ?powers that be? and ?(its) the end of the world as we know it?. These are minor problems. The material simply needs a good edit.

Although it would mean a tremendous amount of work, I would have like to have seen proposed solutions to the problems. Of course, many of use are well versed enough with horror that the solutions are common knowledge once the problem is established.

If there is a revision, give me a yell. I?d love to pull this stuff down. The book is very solid but it needs a little work on the polish. (I reviewed the 8/23/2004 version of the book ? perhaps there is already a new revision?)


QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
100 Horror Adventure Seeds
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Publisher Reply:
As usual the criticisms seem to be stylistic rather than content oriented and, as a later item in the line, this book was better edited than most. I think its a difference in style, I prefer a much more conversational and intimate with the reader style in my writing, which here is ascibed to be 'awkward'. As ever, I wish these reviews would be a little more useful to me in improving my work. There is no revision but next year should see some more, or similar, in the line.
Bardic Lore: Ogham
Publisher: Highmoon Games
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/03/2005 00:00:00
Ogham opens with a look at this ancient writing system famous for its association with historical druids. There is an explanation of each character, their association with trees and a pronunciation guide. There are some magical items and one item creation feat that allows you to use Ogham to create Ogham markers and a metamagic feat to add curses to other spells. There are some modifications to the druid spell list to allow them to use curses and a new DC for knowledge checks related to Ogham.

There are pictures of all the Ogham symbols and a photograph of a standing stone marked with Ogham.

I like the ?tree Ogham? magic the best, providing standing stones that provide spellcasters with metamagic enhancements to their spells (but burns off charges from the stone). The great balancing feature is that standing stones are very hard to move and carry around because of their enormous weight.



LIKED: This supplement provides a good overview of Ogham and is a useful guide to inspire further research into the language. There are links at the back to further assist any such endeavors.

If you are a fan of the Slaine or medieval Europed, this is a handy addition to your campaign setting.


DISLIKED: I would have liked to have seen more for actual game play; Perhaps a new druid and new spells. I would very much have liked to have seen examples of Ogham words and expressions.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bardic Lore: Ogham
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The Enchanter Core Specialist Wizard
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2005 00:00:00
The layout of this book caught my attention immediately. Everything is Valentines day red and it looks very appropriate for the enchanter. This immediately sets the tone of the book as one dedicated to the manipulation, charming, of others. The book is very light on romance however, focusing on the core enchanter abilities.

The core enchanter is rewritten. This new class gains spell DC increases against ?favored races? with its force of will ability. It also brings up the DC of all enchantment spells. The class gains additional spells like a specialist but gets fewer feats than a Wizard, which is balances it out. The change from Intelligence to Charisma for spellcasting is appropriate and synergies with many sorcerer feats and spells the character may wish to take.

Of the two prestige classes, I really like the Alpha Warden, which blurs the line between wizard and druid, giving the character animal companions and spellcasting every other level. The requirements are stiff with 8 ranks required in Handle Animal, a cross class skill for the Enchanter unless you hunt down a skill adding feat. The book has a host of new feats and rules for hypnosis.

I was not sure if the book had anything to do with Valentines day until I ran across the Lovers Arrow in the magic item section. This is about the only direct reference to cupid and it?s enough. It keeps the book from becoming silly while allowing for a little fun.



LIKED: This is a solid addition to the enchanter. If I wanted to play an enchanter, I would want this product for the additional options it provides.

DISLIKED: Evoker is not out yet. I?m very much looking forward to evoker. When all the schools are done, I would really like to see a print compellation of the books.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Enchanter Core Specialist Wizard
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Curses!
Publisher: 12 to Midnight
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/18/2005 00:00:00
The book opens with an overview of curses from Egypt, Greece as well as Judeo-Chirstian, Voudoun and the evil eye curses. Each area is only given a few paragraphs but this provides a good general overview.

There are a number of new spells and a new spell type (curse) and a list of which core spells are curses. The spells, all curses, and well thought out and flesh out the spell selection of a curse-based spellcaster, offering a good range of new low level and high level curses to supplement existing curses.

Many of the new feats are curse themed variations on existing staple feats. They increase the caster level for curses, increase the saving throws against curses or increase caster level when trying to defeat curses. These are all very good feats for spellcasters working with or against curses. I especially like Power Word Master feat but I don?t want my DM to know about it. The Death Curse Contingency feat provides the infamous dying curse ability. While many players might not choose such a feat, it is very appropriate for a spellcaster specializing in curses.

There is a solid block of prestige classes. I liked the evil eye because rather than giving the spellcaster 1 extra spell of each spell level that specialist wizards get, they have done something different that fits the theme of the evil eye. The spellcaster gains uses of evil eye per day and has a variety of curses he can cast with it, and a cost in uses for each curse.

The book comes as a set of 4 PDF files, one for viewing, one for print-on-demand and another for home printing. The last is a high-resolution version of the cover.


LIKED: The book is very compatible with core d20. The curse based feats, spells and prestige classes are built very much like a new school of magic, with a few new mechanics that makes them different. Nothing appears to be over-powered or game unbalancing. I very much like the new spells which round out the spell list for a curse-based spellcaster.

DISLIKED: I would have liked to have seen more historical information on real-world curses. Where is the origin of turning people into toads? Why do they call them ?curse words?? Why do people spit in relation to curses? What is with biting your thumb?

It is a minor detail but I would have enjoyed a curse-based class, especially a curse-wizard specialist. The prestige classes do the job, but they are not available right away.


QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Curses!
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D20 Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2005 00:00:00
The game starts with a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in acts, with notes for the events the players will be involved in. There are some custom magical items for the game including the Friars potion and Tybalt?s sword. There are four characters at various levels, 2, 4 and 6. Finally there are some variant endings and methods of play.

Good Comedy: This product ends with optional twists that left me laughing. There is room to run the game in the traditional fashion but the twist will make it more effective when dealing with players who just might have heard this story and do not want to kill themselves.

Stat Blocks: Stat block are a frustrating but necessary evil and they need to be done correctly to provide information to the Game Master and Players. A few minor elements are missing; hit die size and Constitution modifier to hit points. Designation of melee or ranged attacks. Critical modifiers are shortened but there are only 3 kinds of weapons. All the necessary information can be gleaned from the stat blocks as they are.

NPCs: There are only four characters with stats, Friar Lawrence, Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio and Tybalt. There is a much longer list of characters in the play, and their levels, including the Prince of Verona, Paris, guards, citizens, pages, watchmen, attendants, Montague, Benvolio, Balthasar, Abraham, Lady Montague, Capulet, Samson, Gregory, Nusrse and Peter. There stats are not included. Some have a note about their class and level. Some have no notes. In order to properly prepare this game, for players who may wander off the script from time to time, over a dozen NPCs would need to be written, although many would only be 1st level.

Art: There is only the cover art and background art. It is simple but serves its purpose. The format is clear and the art gives it a old-scroll feel, without demanding too much color ink for a print out.

Just as a side note, I would really love to see a d20 Modern version of this product based on the modern version of Romeo and Juliet that came out in the 90?s.

The script of Romeo and Juliet is not included in full but it is so easily available on the web, and so many people own copies, it would be redundant.


LIKED: This is a solid retelling of Romeo and Juliet with some ingenious optional endings. Just enough new rules have been added to give it the right feeling. Armor and weapons, for example, are somewhat restricted in Verona, ?on pain of death?. It sends a pretty clear point to the players who might otherwise be hunting great swords and ballista. The layout is very clean and printable.

This is a great chance for those who have played in Romeo and Juliet and those who would like to, to reenact various scenes and memorize a few lines.


DISLIKED: With stats for only 4 characters, there is not enough here to run the game should the players get into any combat situations other than Mercutio-Tybalt fight. The product needs many of the other characters written up with stats for the players who want to see what would have happened if the fighting went a little differently.

There are no maps. This is not a major issue. Virtually everyone has seen some version of Romeo and Juliet before, but maps would help.


QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
D20 Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet
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MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
Publisher: Highmoon Games
by Mark C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/10/2005 00:00:00
There are pictures of every weapon and armor, every single one. The stone age alone includes 70 pieces of equipment. Each pictures contains two or more weapons/armor. There is a key below indicating which is which. My only frustration is that the weapon table does not contain the key so it can take a few seconds to find the associated weapon.

Something I REALLY like is that, finally, someone put the hardness and hit points on their weapons! It takes minutes of flipping through the DMG to find the hardness/hit points tables and basically from there you must guess how many hit points a given weapon has based on their examples. Damage and repair can be an important part of the game but it is often overlooked.

Weapons are organized into historical ages; Sticks and Stones, Chariots of Bronze, Iron and Empire, Rome, the Far East and so forth. This can make it harder to find a particular weapon but the index contains a complete list of every weapon and there is also a table of contents at the beginning of each age listing the weapons from that age. It is a novel way of organizing a book but it makes it very clear without overwhelming the reader with page after page of weapons.

The stone age includes rules for amputation and infection. It was a harsh time. Going through the rest of the book there are a number of new rules for different weapons, barbed weapons, spikes, weapon breaking and so forth. Obsidian, used in the DarkSun setting, uses different rules which I like. Obsidian does more damage. The stuff is very sharp! However, it tends to break.

A good amount of space is dedicated to chariots. These look like a lot of fun. There are a variety of animals listed that can be used to pull them. Later there are animals, with stats listed, that were used in Rome.

Each age contains some information about famous warriors from that age, such as Alexander, Hannibal, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace ? which even includes a note on the use of wode, the blue body paint used by the Celtic warriors.

There is, of course, the infamous Roman gladiator detailed as a prestige class with period armor and weapons to use.

I wanted to skip right to the oriental section and when I reached it, it did not disappoint. There are some beautiful pictures of katars, punching daggers. Well versed in a long variety of weapons, there are a number of oriental weapons I have not seen before. Many look strikingly similar to the Star Trek Batleth and are, no doubt, the inspiration for the weapon. The Chinese rocket should appear in more martial arts movies as an excuse for explosions. The is a Mongol Horseman prestige class.

There is a picture of Raiden with holding Kabaal?s hooked swords but everyone knows that Raiden uses a staff. That is a Mortal Kombat joke. It is a good picture and depicts the Guang Ho Adventurer prestige class which uses meditation to gain combat bonuses and training to gain extra skills.

Finally Japan, the Ninja, the Samurai and the Katana, a weapon favored by far too many role players for its famous history and high damage. This book does much to offer alternatives to this weapon but it does not ignore or lessen the katana. I appreciate the fact the Samurai is depicted wielding a spear instead of his swords because it points out the fact that the Samurai did use other weapons.

The barding for the Elephant lists spell failure as N/A and, as a big fan of awakened animals I?m almost tempted to complain. But in over a decade of play, no elephant has ever made it to my gaming table so I?ll reserve judgment.

The dark ages are called the golden ages and I suspect that is because of many inventions that were used on battlefields all across Europe during this age. The more I look at this book the more I like it. There are sections on a woman?s place in war during this age, flaming clothing, tournaments, Chivalry and so forth. A lot of research has clearly gone into this book.

After the dark ages is a section on firearms and then we delve into magic with pages of new weapon abilities and then new magical weapons. Famous weapons such as Mjolnir (Thor?s hammer), Poseidon?s trident, the Nemean Lion Skin worn by Hercules, Odysseus?s Bow and finally, the king of legendary weapons Excalibur. There are even some new spells which affect weapons.

The following section deals with new materials, crafting weapons, maintenance and repair, optional rules. The book ends with an appendix of terms, a bibliography, a reprinting of the weapon tables in order and finally an exhaustive Index.

Catalogue: A catalogue is included as a separate file. I have not seen another product which includes a catalogue and I think it is a good idea. There are so many products on RPGnow that anything that gives me better access to the list of products available is welcome. Also, as a PDF, the catalogue hardly takes up much more space and as a separate file, I don?t need to print it.


LIKED: The book has a lot of history behind a lot of weapons. Anyone can write up stats but in this product they have taken the time to research the background of many weapons. Now as for the stats, there are a lot of stats. There are hundreds of weapons in this book. If you can not find something pointy that is to your taste in here, you may have to turn to made-up weapons. The art is solid and clearly depicts every piece of armor and each weapon. There are a number of good rules for weapons, new prestige classes and new magical weapon abilities.

DISLIKED: There are no random tables for finding weapons and armor or their magical counterparts. I very much would have liked to have seen period tables that could substitute the weapon type and armor type tables in the Dungeon Master?s Guide when determining magical arms and armor. It?s a minor failing though and one that can be fixed easily enough just by rolling a d20 or d30 against the any period?s index of weapons.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
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