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Neiyar: Land of Heaven and the Abyss
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Jason G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2008 14:49:14
Neiyar is not your normal game setting. The typical male gamer will have to completely rethink his attitude, because it is a matriarchal world (at least, the human civilization, anyway). The gender role reversal isn’t along the lines of the evil-drow-sacrifice-unwanted-males-to-lloth variety, but it is readily apparent and permeates the world. Nor is it the femi-nazi sort of GYRLL POWER thing you would expect. The social structure isn’t portrayed as good or evil, it just is what it is.

There is a sort of cold war going on in the setting. The enemies of the Neiyar culture, the Krakodons, are almost the polar opposites of the human culture. The Krakodons are a draconic sort of race that is highly patriarchal. The Krakodons control most of the southern half of the island, and while there is trade between the two groups and the war is officially over, both sides wage a subversive war to keep the other in check. Also thrown in the mix are the Mahaultae, a race of cat people, who more often than not side with the Neiyar, but sympathize with the Krakodons. The Amphikin are a frog race of con artists and opportunists that play both sides against each other. Auronnes are a swan race that are mostly loyal to the Neiyar, but try to stay out of the political fray.

There is a lot going on with the setting. Of course, you have your prerequisite assortment of ruins and abandoned cities to explore. There are also a lot of special organizations, secret societies, and sects waging political wars with each other. Joining an organization has distinct advantages in game play. Many of the churches are on the verge of fragmenting due to internal squabbles over dogma, and players can get caught in the middle. Add to the whole mix the fact that prophesy claims that the Demon God Nephar will rise and launch another Demon War soon and you can need a scorecard to keep track of who is on whose side.

Some of the prestige classes resemble similar stuff that has been produced elsewhere. There are a few really cool spells and feats, but nothing earth shattering. There is a spattering of new magic items as well. The Hearth Magic system, however, totally rocks. It’s simple and makes perfect sense considering the flavor of the setting. The monsters section includes some sweet critters to throw at players. A swarm of fleshcutter ants (carnivorous ants that are the size of a dog) will definitely strike fear in the hearts of adventurers. The Sleeper Bat can serve as a familiar, and there are special rules that allow it to learn and cast spells independently of its master.

The real strength of the book is the flavor of the setting itself. The island isn’t just an exotic jungle. There is a distinct Ravenloft vibe (I actually used the setting as a domain in a Ravenloft game I was running). See, elves, dwarves, and such are not native to the island, but sometimes end up there due to shipwrecks or magical backlashes. And once you end up on the island, it’s almost impossible to leave. Teleportation magic doesn’t work. Scrying often fails. And there is a big, nasty, immortal sea monster called the Green Death ready to crush any boat foolish enough to try to leave.

I like the look of the revised format over the old edition. The new design makes it easy to read onscreen, and easier to find information quickly. There is some nice new art added, though I wish there was more of it. The maps are the same ones from the old edition, though. They are OK, but not stellar.

A disclaimer. I bought a copy of the old version of this book from a now defunct vendor two or three years ago. When I saw the publisher’s press release about the new version being available at RPGNOW and that RPGNOW customers could get the new version free, I contacted them because I wanted my freebie, too. After some back and forth, I found my old confirmation e-mail to confirm my original purchase, and the publisher sent me a coupon to download a free copy of the revised edition. After thanking her and giving her my thoughts on the new version, she asked if I’d think about leaving a review. So I thought about it, and I did. Since she went to the trouble to help me get a new copy, the least I could do was write a review.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Neiyar: Land of Heaven and the Abyss
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Generic Maps #6: Floorplan Pack II
Publisher: GMC
by Jason G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2008 13:47:41
Well, these are definately generic maps. The mansion floorplan is nice, and worth the price just by itself, but the other floorplans are just square plans with the interior walls moved around. Wanted to print and go with these, only to find that the PDF doesn't show all of the maps, just the instructions for how to edit the maps. So I had to open the zip folder and print each png file individually. They took a long time to print due to the size of each file. I understand that they are big files because they need to be high rez for editing, but a PDF file with print-ready maps for the average Joe like me would have been nice.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Generic Maps #6: Floorplan Pack II
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STOCK ART: Dungeon Maps #4
Publisher: Big Finger Games
by Jason G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2008 13:26:59
Nice maps for the price (bought on sale). The product includes both a PDF file and a zip folder with tiff files. The product shows multiple versions of the same map. One version has mystical domes or pools in the center of some of the larger rooms. The other does not. Both versions come with a blank map and a map with encounter markers. The tiff files are fully editable so they can be recolored, altered, sized, flipped or whatever if you have the ability to edit them. High resolution file printed nice and crisp.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
STOCK ART: Dungeon Maps #4
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the feedback Jason! Actually the regular price on these is $2.49. I was using the site's "list" and "site" price categories, but on second thought it does make all of our stuff look like its on sale. But our prices are normally low! ;) I've changed that now so all our prices are shown only at the lower "site" price. Thanks again for the review!
APG Paper Figures: Military Orders ($1.00)
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group
by Jason G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2008 15:32:01
My first time buying paper minis, and I like the results. Sharp images printed nicely from my printer. Authentic design for those of us looking for more realistic images.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
APG Paper Figures: Military Orders ($1.00)
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Journal of American Paranormal Research issue 3
Publisher: 12 to Midnight
by Jason G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2008 15:20:35
Proof that sometimes less is more. With its newspaper style three column layout and minimal illustration, this little freebie is still a slick adventure. The adventure plot is pretty linear, but still just fine for a starting adventure. You really can't go wrong with alien fungus and zombies, can you?

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Journal of American Paranormal Research issue 3
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