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Five Henchmen
Five Henchmen
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Map of Berem Town
Publisher: 1191 AD Publishing
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/21/2011 00:28:03
This is a generous and fun publication. It doesn't have a lot of detail. It is only a page, but it is attractive and might spur your imagination.

AND ITS FREE.

Every single DM has had the question of "what does this place look like?" or "what will the city look like when they get there". Here is a pleasing isometric drawing (like the cover illustration only bigger) of a high fantasy city. According to the PDF its a coastal city with 800 inhabitants but you can turn off the statistics in a pdf layer control and it can be whatever you want. I really think 1191 AD Publishing should be commended for this simple generous pdf. If you want a city to build an adventure in or a base for your players you could do a lot worse.

Kudos for a simple, useful free product. I'll keep an eye out for this company.


Bo

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Map of Berem Town
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The Complete Book of Denizens
Publisher: Inner Circle
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/08/2009 13:11:59
This really is an often overlooked gem. Nice weird monsters in a well organized and clearly OGL publication.
There is a lot to like here. I'm not a big fan of the artistic style of the work but the monsters are very well thought out and they're what matters. Inner Circle has a clear sense of place and it unifies all their writing. Avadnu may not be your style (I don't think its mine) but the collection benefits from the overarching idea. The creatures are suitably creepy and alien - that's a good thing.

Whatever your setting, I think it has an extra value because your players wont see it coming. Sometimes another bugbear isn't what you want.


* Well bookmarked
* Selectable text
* Modified Summoning Tables
* Templates, Feats, Skills
* Monsters by CR
* All setting specific info is very well separated making it easy to use the stuff in other settings.

This work has all the organizational stuff I want to make things easier. If you want another monster book this is a good choice.

Sigurd

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Complete Book of Denizens
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Planar Maps #1: Prison Demiplane of Sagyanak
Publisher: GMC
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/31/2008 15:47:35
This is a believable, irregular swath of sand with three elevation marks on it, a scale and an arrow pointing north. Towards the middle, there are some hills a few corpses and a some dark patches.

There is no backstory. There are no mechanics. No description of the nature of the plane. No discussion of its placement or any of its inhabitants. What you see behind the text on the cover is what you get, only 30 or 40 times larger. Between zipped images and pdf the product takes up a whopping 154mb on the hard drive.

I can only think this is an incomplete package. It would profit from some substance - differing shelters of the wasteland, inhabitants, items, legends, description of gates etc. etc...

I have never been less impressed with a pdf.

I think the time based 'sale' where the price doubles each month is a clever promotion but I think the product's lack of context and the single, albeit hugely zoomed picture, makes this uninteresting and very disappointing.

Save your bandwidth and hard drive space.


- Sigurd

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Planar Maps #1: Prison Demiplane of Sagyanak
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Free Species of the Month - Gnome
Publisher: Spectrum Games
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/16/2008 06:34:52
The Price is Right.

Its a single page with pictures of 11 miniatures and a small blurb about mostly cute gnomes. Seems like page 49 from Spectrum Games "Fantasy Compendium".

I would like to have seen a little more care to make it more useful generally and more entertaining for downloaders.

Still, its free and if you want to see another page preview from the "Fantasy Compendium" here it is....

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Free Species of the Month - Gnome
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Twisted Menagerie
Publisher: Silverthorne Games
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2008 22:34:33
Twisted Menagerie
Old school variety and style. If you like monsters, you'll like this book.

Silverthorn Games is well known for its template books. Like a chemistry set of strangeness, they have offered DMs a way to twist and modify standard monsters into something new and, more importantly, unexpected. But what if you don't want to mix the monsters yourself? What if you're sitting down to design or modify an adventure and you just want something imaginative, already written out?
This is the focus of Twisted Menagerie. Monsters with full stats that you can drop into your games. The authors have allowed themselves a little time to apply their templates and show off the results. It means less work for the busy DM who wants something for right now.
I like many of these monsters. They will find a way to my table – but more of that later.

Twisted Menagerie is 71 pages long with enough meat to get lost for a while. It has a fun, chaotic mix of offerings. I counted 36 'Monsters', including 11 unique creatures and 21 examples with level adjustments. A few of the 21 LA critters would be interesting PC races while others would be good NPCs. There is also a gang of 5 monstrous humanoids. For each entry there is line art, a short background followed by a statblock.
The graphics are black and white. They are reminiscent of the old school monster manuals although I think the artwork here is better. The bookmarks throughout the work are decent. The index at the back, by challenge rating, is very helpful.
I liked the monsters - this is a nice eclectic grab bag. Twenty-seven of the challenge ratings are between ½ and 7 and nine are 8 or above. If you're tired of Orcs and Goblins this book is a good choice. The selection hits a useful sweet spot for populating adventures. I think the monsters themselves stick out against other offerings for being a little different and interesting. Some books have done very well with situation or race centered categories – I feel that Twisted Menagerie is more flexible because the choices are so chaotic.
I especially like the monstrous races: The Gnasher (Gnome\Badger), The Gray Nymph (Elf\Nymph), The Pseudokin (Spellcaster\Pseudo Dragon), The Spheth (Fey Touched Lizardfolk), The Stone Children (Gargoyle\Humans), and the Valco (Human\Goats). These alone makes this PDF a welcome addition to my library. The Stone Children and the Pseudokin are arcane creations but I think they are suitably balanced to become a regular irregularity in my game world.

If I have a criticism of this work it is in a sense an unfair one - other monster books have set the bar so high for monster publications. Colour art, expanded backgrounds, longer entries and sheer numbers of offered monsters are widely available amongst the competition. But quantity is not quality. Reading this book suggested multiple plots and fun adventures – that is the measure of a publication.

If there was a way to give a 4.75 that would be my rating for this book. As there is not I have to give it a 4.

All in all, this is a really solid publication. Much more useful to me as a DM than many of the tiny 5 page or less pdfs out there. I wish there were more like it. I'll go back to this collection for some of the player races. The unique monsters will make for interesting encounters. You'll be happy to have some of these critters up your sleeve. Even the most jaded players wont expect these :).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Twisted Menagerie
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Legends of Excalibur: Arthurian Adventures (True20)
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/20/2007 22:48:38
Legends of Excalibur – Thumbs up!

King Arthur is the center of one of the most powerful stories in literature. The tale has powerful elements of magic, knights, ladies, monsters etc and a great deal of atmosphere. It resounds through our culture for gamers and non gamers in a way that is denied to 'modern' settings. If you or your players have a wish to explore Arthurian Britain in chivalric 13th century Europe this is a good place to start.
I have had a deep interest in this product both for D20 and True20. Its first edition was, for me, one of the big settings for D20. Who doesn't want to have a knight of the table round? I've read a couple of versions of the Arthur story but I always sort of got lost in the size of the tale. By the time I reached the gaming table my head was full of ideas. Yet there was always so much that the players wanted that I hadn't thought through. Legends of Excalibur has really beefed up the material available to me. Charles Rice has done the monumental job of converting the setting and central characters to gaming.

The True20 pdf has 84 pages of material with a clear view of Chivalric 13 century life. It has great maps, historic artwork, and a lot of crunch for True20.
I like crunch.

6 social classes – think background feats etc
13 Archetypes
Adept – Druid, Enchantress, Hedge Mage, Hermit, Priest
Expert – Fool, Minstrel, Noble, Robber Baron, Skald
Warrior – Crusader, Knight
Marauder – Yeoman

(For more descriptions of the various components, I recommend the review by Treebore)

If you have any experience with the tales of Camelot, the archetypes jump out at you, as does the societal tension in the setting. The struggle between paganism and Christianity is central – this is not necessarily a 'religion light' story. Of course you can always water down elements to suit your game table but Charles has given you something to work with if you want to play a more edgy, historic game. The conflict makes it very interesting to role play. Motives and beliefs for Druid's and Priests, Hermits and Hedge Mages are not the same.
The tales of Arthur were complicated by the biases and experience of real life. Tensions heighten the realism and give the DM material to twist game plots.
True20 is a wonderful fit for the setting. The D20 version has a supplementary honour system but here conviction points can tie effortlessly to chivalric faith. Character motivation and rewards are really well suited for True20. If you have experienced a level of confusion with some of the free form True20 rules, the strength of setting is a welcome structure.

I most liked the close fit of this setting to rule system.

The artwork is very nice and the sample maps are very evocative and solid. They have the authenticity of being real world settings and will improve any historic game. The pdf has a Town, City, and Henge – good examples for your own work.
The writing is well done and the author has a lot to draw from. If you like King Arthur you might have differences of opinion on some of the details but Charles will save you a boatload of work.

My chief criticism is probably in the number of stated out monsters. There are 35 monster descriptions with a good variety but they don't have stat blocks. Most are available in standard monster collections but it would have been nice to see more fully printed. Only the 2 new and original monsters have statistics.

I'd recommend this to anyone interested in an historic setting from the 13th century onwards. It is a tasteful, broad survey with a great framework for you to develop. Both D20 and True20 versions are, of course, very similar. The True20 version is a little shorter because it fits so well.
If you want the magic, romance and intrigue of Arthurian Britain this is a good choice.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legends of Excalibur: Arthurian Adventures (True20)
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APG City Tiles
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/16/2007 07:55:19
Its not fancy.

Everything is set up to fit within the limits of a PDF page with a grid overlay appropriate for miniatures use. There is a little introductory page and a comment about medieval buildings, one page of grass, a couple of cobble road graphics and more than a dozen graphics of building interiors suitable to inhabit with miniatures. The product has no NPC's, monsters or separate item cards.

The art and presentation is reasonable but very straightforward - everything is aligned in straight lines with the page for example. The product feels like the result of a dunjinni session or two. Its worth it, if you want to save yourself the work of making the graphics yourself or perhaps if you are playing online and need some rooms quickly.

Its intended to be printed and placed on a table. The pictures are clear and 300dpi for crisp printing. It is the creation of a graphic program not a great resource for other graphics programs. There are no pages with just items, clipart or other doodads - if you like making digital graphics you should go elsewhere. If you just want a few extra tiles for your strategic layouts or a floor mat on which to show off your miniatures this is a good product.

Simple, straight forward, inexpensive.


Bo

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
APG City Tiles
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Broken: The Memory of Solaris
Publisher: The Le Games
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/12/2007 16:36:18
This is a powerful setting. The broken up remains of a planet and people desperately relying on magic to survive. Its definitely a situation in need of heroes! This is a difficult setting to work with and the author presents a deep and thorough portrayal of challenges, places, survivors and new magic.

If you want something very different for your group to explore this is a good choice. Its packed with writing and gives a DM a lot to think about. The rules for replenishing air and survival in the void would make an interesting addition to any planar adventure. I found it a good balance of playability and physics, after all magic enables the impossible. I think DMs who want background for truly strange locations will enjoy this setting.

Doesn't the DM need an answer for what could happen _after_ everything blows up ? :)

Perhaps vital magics to your plot line have survived the great cataclysm and must be retrieved from the inky bleakness of void? Perhaps your high level mage is approached by displaced survivors from Broken who want to create an escape portal for their families or a battleship for conquest?

It's a rich description and a great option to have if your own setting really, really, goes KaBoom!


My chief criticism of the piece is that it isn't bookmarked and the author may have tried to do too much. Its a one man show with great writing and inspired but perhaps over ambitious art work. The cover is great but some of the internal art is amateurish. These flaws are not crucial but I think they mar a great PDF. I hope the product life will allow this to be addressed with a revision.

This has many different options from the standard little town or regular city. The setting could be adapted to many genres (some posters seemed interested in resurrecting Spell Jammer). Broken would make an admirable alternate universe setting, where something went drastically wrong. It would make a good source for refugees in need of rescue or even a cruel punishment plane created by a fickle deity. It might be a ruin the characters survive or a retreat for a powerful demigod who hates people. The core value is there and the work is very original.


In an overcrowded PDF marketplace this is a gem with some rough edges - but certainly a gem.


Sigurd

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Broken: The Memory of Solaris
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Fantasy Grounds II - Full License
Publisher: SmiteWorks
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/27/2006 00:00:00
This is amazing. I have never used that description on game product but I use it here.

Get the bundle of Full and lite versions to save yourself a little money or simply get full versions for eveyone in your group. What you save in gas will vastly outwheigh the cost of this product.


LIKED: This is the friendliest most game table like interface for a cross internet gaming product on the net. It is still improving but what is there is already the basis for a great part of my week. If you gave up on gaming because people moved away or because you don't know people in your area you need to try this product. You still need all the WOTC books but now you can use them to play with friends who might be a thousand miles away.

DISLIKED: It is still a growing product and not enough players use it yet.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Grounds II - Full License
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The Crypt of Ra'Lim'Ka'Anar - Fantasy Grounds Version
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/25/2005 00:00:00
What can you say about the first dungeon for a new game? This is a rocking choice from a company willing to listen to players. No other dungeon available for Fantasy Grounds at publication time.

Absolutely worth it if you are getting Fantasy Grounds.

LIKED: Good people putting out a good product.
They are converting their whole catalog for Fantasy Grounds !

DISLIKED: The adventure is a little short, but UKPubllications deserves high marks for being first!

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Crypt of Ra'Lim'Ka'Anar - Fantasy Grounds Version
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the comments, customer comments are always valued, particularly when we are venturing into unknown areas with Fantasy Grounds. We have no other publishers to compare our product with, we are currently going through our back catalogue and updating all the products. We hope that this process will not take too long. Whilst we are doing that we are also busy writing some higher level adventures with more involved plotlines for the more experienced party and dm's. Hopefully you should see these products on line soon. We are also open to other publishers on this, for collaborative work on converting their products to work with this software; now that we have worked all the bugs out of converting files to use Fantasy Grounds ------ Kev (editor for UKG)
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