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The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts
Publisher: Creative Conclave
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/08/2008 09:35:07
One of the great things about the d20 core rules is that they're expandable and customizable, and for monsters that is a real treat. With templates, advanced monsters and other means around, the DM can create a treasure trove of wild beasties to throw at their players. No two monsters of the same species need to be the same, and the flexibility this allows is huge. In fact, some of the best books for the d20 market out there have dealt with templates. Part of the DMs job is to create fun and challenging encounters, and customizable monsters offers a powerful tool in doing just that.

The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts is the latest product from Creative Conclave and the 5th product in their Lazy GM series (6th if you count Creative Conclave's free Halloween release last year). This product show cases (within the limits of the core d20) the power of customization of monsters. In the pages of this product 40 dungeon beasts have been turned into over 400 through the use of advancing, templates and the like. As the name suggests, this product is about dungeon beast, essentially all the creatures with the magical beast or aberration types. The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts presents 146 pages of stat blocks of every CR allowing the DM to pick a dungeon beast to suit his needs without any hassle. This product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

This product comes as a single easy-to-use pdf file. While there are no bookmarks, the product allows you navigate at the click of a creature's name, meaning with the extensive table of contents you can go wherever you want within the pdf. Layout is in a single column, with the various monsters sorted alphabetically throughout the product. Like the other products in the series, the stat blocks are impeccable, and with over 400 stat blocks in this product, that's saying something. The product also includes an extremely useful introduction, as well as handy tables to sort creatures by role, such as ambushers, guardians, and relentless hunters. This is a very well presented pdf, with excellent mechanics.

The Lazy GM series is all about providing DMs with scores of pregenerated stat blocks of various creatures in a large number of different variations. Dungeon Beasts features creatures such as: ankheg, grick, rust monster, hellhound, choker, basilisk, owlbear, manticore, chimera, gorgon, and numerous others. Naturally these creatures have been expanded and advanced in numerous ways, and templates such as zombie, skeleton, vampire, paragon, phrenic, fiendish and pseodonatural have been applied liberally to each creature, creating a vast quantity of creatures of every CR. Some creatures have class levels as well, where appropriate, for example, with a blink dog. And speaking of CRs, the CRs range from 1/3 for the lowly dire rat, to 35 for that paragon purple worm. The majority of the creatures fall in the region below CR 10, but there are a fair number of scores of creatures in the higher CR ranges.

A product like this is a huge undertaking, particularly if you want to provide huge variation and get the details right. Creative Conclave have once again succeeded at this, creating an extremely useful document for those that don't really like generating creatures or typing out stat blocks for various creatures. It's one thing to create a product with 40 stat blocks, and quite another to do that for 400 accurate stat blocks. This is a valuable resource, and along with the other four products so far in the series, almost means you'll never really need to create another stat block again. Creative Conclave have produced an impressive product. While it doesn't bring anything new to the d20 arena, its utility is enormous and as such a product that many DMs wonder what they did without it. This product can shave hours off preparation time, particularly if combined with other products in the series. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what's next for The Lazy GM series. Excellent product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lazy GM: Dungeon Beasts
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Sidetrek Adventure Weekly #01: Blood on the Waterfront
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/04/2008 11:00:08
Sidetrek Adventure Weekly is a new series from LPJ Design, and each product in the series provides a detailed adventure scenario that can easily be dropped into your campaign or adventure. The scenarios can either be played as stand-alone scenarios, or all 12 scenarios of the, presumably first, series can be linked together to form an action-packed and fast paced adventure. The first scenario is called Blood on the Waterfront, and sees the PCs involved in a mad skirmish in an abandoned warehouse filled with rope swinging masked monks and scurvy pirates.

LPJ Design have generally always impressed me with their presentation in short pdfs, and this product is no exception. Blood on the Waterfront features some excellent art by Anthony Cournoyer with a really gripping front cover that allows one to vividly imagine the scene of the scenario battle. But they don't just stop at providing great art, but also include a bunch of other useful features in their pdfs, including useful counters (monks only, unfortunately, so none for the pirates), a margin on each page for notes, and blank stat cards to fill in for easy reference for the various NPCs and villians of this product.

Sidetrek Adventure Weekly also features a new rating system which allows you to judge each adventure based on difficulty, magic, traps, location, etc. This is extremely useful, although it doesn't always capture the complexity of the adventure itself. Blood on the Waterfront is quite a complex scenario, involving scores of combatants, and novice or beginner DMs may have a hard time keeping track of all the elements of the adventure as they unfold around them, something that's particularly important in order to keep the action fast paced. Still, this first product has impressed me with the presentation, attention to detail, good writing, excellent stat blocks, and quality artwork.

The scenario takes place in a dilapidated warehouse, where the PCs, for reasons developed in a number of plot hooks, watch an illicit trade going on. No sooner has the cargo changed hands, that masked monks jump down on ropes from the ceiling, and a massive battle ensues with monks fighting from ropes, pirates jumping on crates, and battles raging all over the dodgy floor of the warehouse. The action is fast paced, with the entire scenario battle likely over in about ten rounds of combat, although that excludes the adventuring to be had before reaching the warehouse, and of course what happens afterwards in the second instalment of the series. DMs can cater for the outcome of the scenario as they see fit, depending on how they're planning on running the adventure - stand-alone or as a part of a series.

The general outline of the pdf details quite effectively the general flow of the battle and the precarious nature of the location. Good sections of read-aloud text are provided where needed and hints for DMs that do not wish to run the entire combat by rolling for each individual NPC. The advice for running the adventure is sound, and the attention is on the important NPCs and the PCs rather than the dozens of mooks that are running around the place. The pdf also provides two wonderful maps - one detailed with the locations of all the NPCs, while the other is more of a PC handout in that it is blank except for some minor details. Both can be used effectively to run the encounter, and to prepare for the scenario set-up. Where needed, new rules are provided, such as for fighting on the various stacked crates, or for fighting while climbing or holding on to a rope. References to page numbers in the core rules are provided for other useful rules.

This pdf certainly lives up to its promise. The action is fast paced, the scenario filled with vivid action, and there's loads of swashbuckling fun to be had. Given the sheer number of combatants, it might be intimidating for some to run, but the advice on glossing over the numbers allows it to run more smoothly. The adventure gives a few hints about what's next in the series, but doesn't really cover significant details on the overall plot of the whole series. So, those wishing to run these as a 12-part adventure will most likely need to wait for the first few to appear before deciding if they like where the adventure is going. Nevertheless, this first instalment in the series is grand and bold, and players and DMs alike will have fun describing a mad battle that's bound to excite. Very good scenario and great presentation.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sidetrek Adventure Weekly #01: Blood on the Waterfront
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Claw / Claw / Bite ! Issue 10
Publisher: Unicorn Rampant Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2008 11:36:22
Claw/Claw/Bite! Issue 10 is the latest issue of this periodical from Unicorn Rampant Publishing. Each issue is produced on a monthly basis and consists of the collected d20 material posted to the clawclawbite.com website. The aim of the periodical is to provide storytellers and gamemasters with new material to enable them to create exiting and exhilarating adventures, characters and scenarios. The material contained within this product is suitable for any d20 fantasy campaign setting, and is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

This short 20 page magazine comes as a single pdf file. Unicorn Rampant Publishing have done a fair job with the editing and layout of the product, converting the material from blog posts into the articles in this product. The general feel of the product though is one of haste, and not much care appears to have gone into the presentation of the material. There are a lot of errors in this product, both on the editing/layout fronts, but more substantially on the mechanics front.

Incorrect and incomplete mechanics abound, and some of the new mechanics is just clumsy. Sentences like 'this spell grants a 5 ft. reach bonus on all attacks' is just clumsy and confusing. Most of the stat blocks have substantial errors and many incomplete sections where, for example, the damage for an attack is missing. Consistency within the presented material is poor as well, with a variety of different stat blocks used without sticking to a consistent form. Overall, I was disappointed by the lack of care, although the few art pieces and background layout was fairly decent. Presentation and mechanical care could've been a lot better.

Despite the poor mechanical presentation, what this product does well is present a wide range of options to the reader - feats, spells, NPCs, races, locations, maps, new creatures, magical items, etc. There's something of everything in this product, even a short comic at the end, with an amusing nod to games like Angband and NetHack. The material variety succeeds at its stated intent of allowing you to expand your worlds and create something new from it. Some examples include the spell Animal Alarm, which allows you to use local animals to warn you of intruders, the deep sea gnome race, a bugbear villain and blackguard, a selection of 5th level PC stat blocks, new creatures such as the spider zombie and the neat wormhole, several new magical items like the cloak of daggers, and the walled town of Junction.

I liked most of the new material in this product. The wormhole creature was an interesting creature that can transport you to another plane if it engulfs you, I really liked the map of Junction that's provided with the product as it was realistic and well-created, and the Animal Alarm spell has some nice flavor. The remainder of the material was a bit of a mixed bag - some of it could've used a little more information, such as, for example, the classes of the members of the Council of Junction, or something on the personalities, motivations and quirks of the NPCs presented.

There's no doubt that a product like this has tremendous potential, although I felt it failed in a lot of key aspects that would make this so. A tidy up of the mechanics, a little more detail and extra information here and there, and this product would've been very good. As is, it's difficult to look past the numerous omissions. While the product says you can just use this material as is, it's not really the case. You'll need to do a lot of mechanical work, and even supply your own motivations and personalities for various NPCs.

Overall I enjoyed bits of this product, and found others disappointing. The potential for this product is very high, but the quality at present is not up to standard. There's no denying that the authors and creators of this material, and Unicorn Rampant Publishing, are a creative and dedicated company, as is evident from some of the unique and interesting material in this product. So what can one say about Issue 10 of this publication? It definitely needs more work and a tidy-up of the presentation and the mechanics, and a little bit of extra information. The uniqueness of some of the material strengthens the content overall, but I find myself hard pressed to think of a reason to use some of the other incomplete or poor mechanical material, although I liked a lot of the flavor in the product throughout, including magical items, spells, and the like. Poor execution, but good flavor, variety and elements of uniqueness.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Claw / Claw / Bite ! Issue 10
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Weapon Focus: Improvised Modern Weapons
Publisher: Aleph Gaming
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2008 07:37:21
Weapon Focus: Improvised Modern Weapons is the 3rd product in Aleph Gaming's Weapon Focus series of products. This series explores weapons from different genres and sources, providing something a little more for each of the weapons in each product. Improvised Modern Weapons takes a look at different modern implements that can be used as weapons when one is in a pinch. From the home to the office, and the restaurant to the bar, this product contains a wide variety of weapons that can be used when the unexpected happens.

Aleph Gaming is a relatively new publisher, having released their first product just over a month ago. As a new publisher they've done well to produce good-looking short pdfs for the d20 market. Improvised Modern Weapons is no exception, and is presented well and in line with other products in the series. The overall look and feel of the product compares well with other market leaders in short pdf publishing, something on which Aleph Gaming should be commended.

The pdf starts by presenting the rules for using improvised weapons. Most of these rules are already contained in the d20 core rules, but are given here for easy reference when using the long list of weapons presented in this product. The remainder of the product is essentially one long table of improvised weapons, from alarm clocks to dinner forks, to the odd Ming vase one might have lying around (which will break if you throw it, in case you're wondering). Most items also get a brief description on their use, something that may or may not include special rules. In most instances the descriptions are fairly self-explanatory and in check with how one would imagine a particular improvised weapon being used. Some of the weapons are a little odd, for example, wielding a 40 lb. filing cabinet as a weapon. Here bulk more than weight would probably play a larger role in allowing one to use something like that as a weapon.

Having looked through the product I was left with the impression that there needed to be something more to it. The advertising blurb for the product and the series promises a lot, but this product doesn't really deliver anything significant other than the big table of weapons. While it is imminently useful, to make a product good or even great, one has to go the extra mile, and this product didn't. From that point of view it's somewhat disappointing that something new and unique wasn't brought to the d20 Modern gaming environment. Given that, this product isn't really anything more than an average summary of common implements that can be used as weapons. Useful, sure, but lacking in anything that would make it good or great.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Weapon Focus: Improvised Modern Weapons
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Tavern Menus: Pirate Food & Spirits
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/30/2008 03:58:49
Tavern Menus: Pirate Food and Spirits is a 12 page accessory containing a number of delightful menus of food and drink for the taverns and inns in any campaign. This product is the second product from Small Niche Games featuring Tavern Menus, each detailing a wide variety of different foods and drinks for different types of inns and taverns. This product should be suitable for most campaign settings and worlds featuring pirates or coastal areas, although in some instance it might require a change or two with the menus.

The product comes as a single pdf file containing the various menus. There are 6 menus in all in this product, two per page, but each menu is accompanied by a black and white version for easier printing, as well as a black and white version that doesn't contain a name for the tavern or inn, nor the tavern's logo or pattern. The latter allows you to customize the menu to a particular location in your campaign world. The menus look visually good, with some nice additional artwork to accompany each tavern or inn. From a presentation point of view, this is a good quality product.

Almost every RPG player out there has created a party in a tavern or inn and set off on some grand adventure. And most parties actually spend a fair amount of time in taverns and inn, discussing plans or just waiting for the next adventure. Whatever the case may be, taverns and inns feature quite heavily in most RPG games, particularly fantasy ones. This product provides a great opportunity to flesh out those scenes a little more with these tavern menu cards. Players will now have the opportunity to look through and order from unique and interesting menus, that may even result in some additional plot hooks coming to light, such as finding an ingredient or helping the cook to avoid his nasty competitors for the village cooking competition. Whatever your tastes, I find these menu cards to be very useful, realistic, and visually good.

One of the nice things about these menus is that they're not outlandish. You won't find steak from a blink dog, or dragon heart on the menus. Here are just good foodstuffs that are not extravagant in any sense. Some of the menus probably cater to a more upper class society in a campaign world, while others pride themselves at selling hearty stew. If you're in the mood for Hare served with Swordfish and Garlic or just something more ordinary like Black Bean Gumbo and Bread, there something for everyone's taste. It would actually have been really useful to be able to mix and match some of these items to create your own menus, but that's well beyond the scope of this pdf.

Overall I found this a satisfying pdf. It brings something useful to the gaming table that's both visually impressive and realistically interesting in food selection. It's well worth a look at for those DMs wanting to flesh out a tavern or inn that's going to feature heavily in a campaign, particularly in a city, or otherwise useful for throwing something on a table when characters seek shelter on a dark and stormy night. These menus can also serve as plot hooks for creative DMs. It would've been interesting to see some of those perhaps in this product as well. Good product, useful, and original.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Menus: Pirate Food & Spirits
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Master at Arms: Shieldbearer
Publisher: Blackdirge Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/14/2008 05:51:22
Master at Arms: Shieldbearer is the 16th instalment in Blackdirge Publishing's Master at Arms series. Each product in the series features an historical overview of a particular weapon or class of weapons, and then presents a short 3 or 5 level prestige class and NPC based on this prestige class. Master at Arms: Shieldbearer focuses on the shield, and in particular the light and heavy shields, with a 3-level prestige class, the Shieldbearer. This 8 page pdf product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

The product presentation is of a very high quality, and includes some very good art by Jesse Mohn, who pretty much does the art for most of the Master at Arms series. I like the standardized format to the presentation that's maintained throughout the series, and the consistent quality in a series that already has 16 titles is good to see as well. This product is pretty much error free with some good and concise descriptive writing. The only minor slip up is the use of terminology to refer to light and heavy shields as small and large shields. Other than that, a very good product with some strong writing and well-conceived mechanics.

This product focuses on developing the shield for the d20 game to make it fit the historical usage better. To that end, author Aeryn Rudel presents the Shieldbearer prestige class. As noted in the pdf, the aim is to make the shield competitive against other options such as the two-handed weapon wielder with the Power Attack feat. It does this by turning the shield wearer into both a more offensive character, as well as a more defensive character.

The former is achieved by relying on the shield bash in combat (and hence two-weapon fighting), while the latter is achieved by adding a number of useful new abilities that give the character improved defence, such as a shield parry (although as a slight negative it's fairly easy to get your shield destroyed this way) and a limited damage reduction. In addition, the 3-level prestige class as presented makes it easier to wield shields in general. Those that have watched films and series like 300, Troy, Alexander, Rome and others will note the effective military use of shields in combat.

Historically, the shield was used as an extremely effective defensive weapon, but also as a very effective offensive weapon. While the two-weapon fighting requirements don't necessarily makes this the 'optimum' choice for combat in the d20 system, it suits the historical flavor very well, and that's always where the Master at Arms series shines. The prestige class presented takes the knowledge of history and effectively builds it into a good, realistic prestige class.

Does the prestige class make the shield a viable choice within the high damage Power Attack two-handed weapon d20 arena? I think it does. It certainly improves in an area where the shield is made more effective in combat, as it becomes more than just something you can wield for static defence or just occasionally bash someone with. The prestige class allows you to use the shield to intercept charges, to actively deflect blows and use the deflection to bash opponents with the shield, and to use the shield as a means to hide your weapon, thereby giving you a distinct advantage on your next weapon attack. It adds a versatility to the shield and sword combination by providing more active options to the character.

Naturally all this comes with a good dose of history and some interesting design notes. Add in a flavorful NPC and you have a very good and useful product. Seeing the Shieldbearer prestige class makes me want to play one, and that's always a good sign in any product on the market. If there's something you've seen a shield used for, I think this prestige class caters very well to those ideas and concepts of shield use. A thoroughly enjoyable pdf, and a great, short, and focused prestige class.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Master at Arms: Shieldbearer
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Monsters of NeoExodus: Cerebral Assassin
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/21/2007 09:34:15
Monsters of NeoExodus: Cerebral Assassin is the latest pdf for LPJ Design's NeoExodus, A House Divided setting. This 7 page pdf contains the write-up for a single monster, the cerebral assassin, a new monster for NeoExodus, and includes several miniature counters and blank monster stat cards. This product is one of several in the Monsters of NeoExodus line of products, and is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

The product comes as a single pdf file. The first page doubles as a cover and features some fantastic art for the cerebral assassin. Unfortunately the pdf never states who the artist is, but the work presented is of a very high, vivid and rich quality. The overall presentation is similar to all the other products in the NeoExodus series. While I can understand that in the pdf industry smaller pdfs generally sell better than larger ones, it would've been nice or would be nice in the future, to see a complete collection of NeoExodus monsters, rather than receiving them piecemeal. Writing, editing and layout are all good, and the author David Caffee has done a good job, even with the stat blocks, although there are a couple of minor errors or incomplete mechanics in there. Generally, the quality of the presentation is in line with other products in the series, which is high for short pdfs.

The cerebral assassin is a psionic creature with a lust for power and a thirst for vengeance. They are a race of intelligent and manipulative creatures often found in the employ of powerful villains where they can fulfil dire service for them. The pdf provides a good background description and establishes a credible origin and motivation for these nasty creatures. I couldn't help but feel that they are similar to a very familiar tentacled creature from the d20 core rules, although with a slightly different flavor and a few new abilities.

Speaking of abilities, the creature possesses a number of psionic abilities but none of these compare to its powerful brain blast. This ability literally allows the cerebral assassin to blow somebody's head apart if they fail a saving throw. Given the creature's CR of 8, a lot of level 8 characters are going to be blown to bits when facing this creature (in most instance a 70% fail chance for characters with a poor Will save). While it's balanced by a limited number of uses over time, it could mean a couple of easy deaths for a number of characters in a single combat. The Will save required appears artificially high as well, with no indication as to which ability it's tied to, or if there's a racial bonus as well. Facing 2 of these creatures is exceptionally deadly.

In addition to presenting the cerebral assassin, the pdf also presents the cerebral paragon, a tougher and more deadly CR 11 version of the cerebral assassin, with broadly the same range of abilities, though improved on its smaller and less deadly cousin. Cerebral assassins make for good villains, and can easily integrate into a city environment. They make excellent assassins, and deadly combatants - quite a serious challenge for a party of adventurers. The wonderful art is presented in counters at the end of the pdf, along with a few small monster stat cards for the DM to fill in an use during the game.

Monsters of NeoExodus: Cerebral Assassin is a good, well presented pdf that features a new monster, the cerebral assassin. While this monster is for the NeoExodus campaign setting, no actual information is provided on what role or ecology or niche it fills within the fantasy punk setting. While this means it's a useful creature for any campaign, more information on using this creature in NeoExodus might've been useful. I suspect that the piecemeal approach to constructing the setting makes it difficult to tie things together. While on the surface this class looks original, it's very similar to other creatures published in other works, and hence loses a lot of its originality and appeal. Overall, though, it's a fair monster, fantastic art, good presentation, and decent short pdf.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of NeoExodus: Cerebral Assassin
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Cerberus Royalty Free Clip Art Pack
Publisher: Cerberus Illustration
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2007 10:51:10
Cerberus Royalty Free Clip Art Pack is a 44 page collection of clip art images from artist Joe Calkins and Cerberus Illustrations. This product contains over 175 fantasy and science fiction clip art images of black-and-white art that are entirely royalty free and hence ready to use. This product contains a handful of images with nudity, and hence is only suitable for appropriate users.

The product comes as a large 60 MB download in pdf format that contains all the images of this product within a single file. A cover is provided that highlights the images contained in the product, but the remaining 43 pages of the product contain only the clip art images. No introductory text is provided, although the nature of the product is fairly self-explanatory. It would've been useful, though to get complete clarification on the 'royalty free' aspects, particularly regarding mofifying images, for example. Images within the product are all 300 dpi, and each page contains roughly 4 or 5 images, taking up about a quarter of a page in size per image. In addition to the clip art images, the product also contains 6 background or border pages reflecting the fantasy/science fiction theme.

Picking up such a large collection of images is generally like opening presents in Christmas day - you just don't know what you're going to get. Some of the art could be horrible and some could be fantastic, or the product could be something right out of your worst nightmares. I have to say that in this instance, the fantastic art on the product cover and previews does the product justice as it contains a great selection of artwork in a variety of different styles. Images range from the downright cartoony, to high quality shaded images that look fantastic. Others are just simple pencil drawings, but overall there's a great variety of interesting and even more importantly useful images in this product. DMs looking for good handouts or publishers looking for art can't go wrong with this product. Given that all the art in the product is from a single artist, despite the large variety of styles, the images can generate a sense of sameness. I don't think this matters much from a publisher's point of view though, or even for a DM looking for art as handouts.

The images themselves cover fantasy and science fiction, although the former gains vastly more coverage than the latter. In addition, by far the majority of the images are not scenery, but people, faces, and creatures with the odd symbol or scenic moment thrown in. The images aren't organised in any particular fashion, meaning that you're going to have to look for something you're after by scanning the entire product, but that gives you a general overview of the scope and quality of the product as well. I wasn't particularly fond of some of the styles, although I know this can be very subjective. Some of the art uses a style where shading looks very blurry, and the sharp lines or outlines of an object or creature are mixed into the blur of the image. This makes the entire image look a little out of focus. Overall, though, most of the work is of a very high quality.

Art in the industry can be expensive, so this product has created a good collection of royalty free artwork that can be used by players, DMs and publishers alike. I was impressed by the quality and quantity of the images, although there are some eye-sores in there (thankfully, few), but the organisation makes it a little more difficult to make the best of this product. For the price though (at ~12 cents per image), you get excellent value and even if you don't appreciate some of the art, there are still scores of other images to choose from. This is a handy, vivid collection of art that has great value and utility.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cerberus Royalty Free Clip Art Pack
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Locales-Volume 1
Publisher: The Fantasy Cartographic
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/18/2007 09:53:58
Locales Volume 1 is a 46 page pdf product and the first product from a new publisher, The Fantasy Cartographic. This product is a collection of unique maps for interesting and distinct locations that any DM can use to include in his or her game world. Volume 1 of the Locales series offers nine new maps, complete with a large number of plot hooks, story ideas and other bits of useful adventure information.

This product comes as a single pdf file. The product is devoted to maps, and provides more than 30 pages of good quality, detailed, black-and-white maps that DMs can use to create adventures from. The product layout and general look of the pdf is good, and most locations have additional 'stock art' that gives a deeper and more visual addition to the maps themselves. The writing and descriptive text associated with each location shows good creativity and imagination, with some unusual and unique locations presented. The product includes a table of contents, and useful introductory text, although there are no bookmarks. Maps are provided on a single page per map, in most cases with room for making notes on each map.

Locales Volume 1 provides 9 new locations with over 30 pages of maps for use in any campaign world. Most locations consist of multiple maps per location, with a page or more of descriptive text, plot ideas or general adventuring hints and tips. These maps provide a wide range of varied and interesting, even exotic locations, for DMs to use. Locations include The Cavern at S’siyerteresk Falls (a large natural underground cavern with a lake, river, fungus garden and stalactite and stalagmite columns hosting various denizens of the underdark), the Column Fortress of Deep Rushing (an enormous natural column within the aforementioned cavern and consisting of multiple levels), The Temple Tomb of Bgixilidynon (a vast dimensional fortress wrapped around itself), and The Lair of Ancient Malice (a secret lair, the entrance of which is submerged beneath a lake).

The locales offer exciting opportunities for adventuring, and provide promising and challenging locations for novice and experienced adventures to explore. The write-ups and details provided for each location give many new ideas and insightful plot hooks for use with these locations. This is one of the more unique products in this regard, offering something more unique and interesting than the typical product of its kind. I was impressed by the variety and possibilities of the various locations, and well as the creativity that had gone into creating each of the locations presented.

The maps themselves are all in black-and-white, and provide a detailed view of the nine locations presented. The maps don't include any interior details, barring the usual doors and stuff, but things like beds, altars, and other interior furnishing are not included. This allows the DM to create his own unique character using the map provided. The product is not intended as a plug-and-play product, but rather as a collection of maps that would inspire DMs to create something magical from. I generally found the maps very clear and good, although in some instances the detail over multiple levels takes a little more studying to appreciate the true scope of these maps. The map complexity ranges from ten level complexity to smaller maps containing only a handful of chambers or interior locations.

I was pleased with this product. It provides good maps with excellent background supporting material, and is very useful as it doesn't constrain the DM in any way when using this product. If you don't like the story for a particular map, just use the map. If you like the story but would like to create your own map interior, you're free to do that as well. The product offers good versatility, and achieves what it intended to achieve in providing good maps for DMs to create their own adventures from in unique locations. The maps aren't brilliant, but they provide enough to create something memorable and build on the ideas provided. A very good product from the Fantasy Cartographic.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Locales-Volume 1
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Hot Chicks 1
Publisher: Dakkar Unlimited
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/12/2007 09:20:00
Hot Chicks 1 is a 2 page pdf product from Dakkar Unlimited, and presents a number of paper, stand-up miniatures for your modern roleplaying games. Hot Chicks 1 is the first product in this series of paper miniatures from Dakkar Unlimited, with other products being Hot Chicks 2: A Space Fantasy and the Hot Chick 3 products, Naked Distress and Dangerous Curves. There is a companion product, Hot Dudes, available as well.

This product comes as a single 2 page pdf file - a cover, and a single sheet containing the stand-up paper miniatures. The cover features a number of quality rendered images of 'hot chicks' while the second page contains 48 miniatures of girls in different poses, clothing, and in a small number of cases, weaponry. The artwork and rendering is very well done, with high quality imaging and good attention to detail. The resolution is probably not the best to use these images for much other than paper miniatures to scale, which is naturally what they were intended for. Brief folding instructions are provided to assemble these figures into a A-frame structure or stand-up structure.

The product presents 48 miniatures of girls or 'hot chicks' for modern roleplaying games. These figures can be used on battlemaps for a variety of purposes, including hostages, bystanders, spies or villains, although in most cases it will be the former two given the lack of weaponry throughout the selection (although martial arts could be a feature). Despite this, there is actually quite a fair amount of variety, with a good number of unique characters. By a quick count, roughly half are unique although there are several instances of these miniatures presented in a variety of different states of clothing (from full dress down to underwear). With only a single page to print, you can have a number of hot chicks in no time, although I'm not sure how many any one person can need in your modern roleplaying game.

Hot Chicks 1 presents some high quality paper miniatures for modern roleplaying and other games. The artwork and quality is good, although the resolution is a little lower. There's good variety, although I'm dubious about the utility of these miniatures in many modern games that don't require an abundance of good-looking girls in small or tight outfits. Nevertheless, it's a good product, and offers good miniatures at a fair price. Given the general lack of paper miniatures in the market, and indeed modern miniatures, this product has its place to fill.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hot Chicks 1
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #51: Castle Whiterock
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2007 05:42:09
It's probably worth putting a disclaimer in right at the start of what is likely to be quite a lengthy review. Firstly, I won't claim that I've read every word on every one of Castle Whiterock's 761 pages. However, having said that, I've had an extensive look through the product, reading the majority of the material, so I think this review will fairly reflect the material that's contained in Castle Whiterock. For those of you that don't want to read a rather lengthy review - this product is good, very good even. If you've liked similar products on the market, this one is as good or even better. As Dungeon Crawl Classics go, Castle Whiterock has parts in it that are far better than many of the single dungeon products in the DCC series. And it's fantastic value for money - this will most certainly keep a group of players entertained for a very long time. Now that that's said, on with the actual review.

Castle Whiterock is a mammoth 761 page pdf product and the 51st product in Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics line of products. This is their first mega dungeon adventure, and takes the PCs on a wild ride through the depths and history of the great Castle Whiterock. This mega dungeon takes characters from 1st to 15th level, or possibly even higher. Castle Whiterock is really suitable for any number of players (typically 4-6), but easily adapted (each level in the adventure provides scaling information) to other adventuring parties of different levels and sizes. This product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules. While it is set in Goodman Games' campaign setting, the world of Aereth and more specifically the Kingdom of Morrain, it can easily be converted into another campaign setting.

Castle Whiterock comes as four separate zip files containing the adventure material and support material. The download is 110 MB, so it might take a while if you're on a slower connection. The zip files contain an extensive overview of the Kingdom of Morrain, handouts, maps, four adventure booklets (cleverly in the same colors as the D&D boxed sets of the 80s as character and adventure level increases), pregenerated characters, a lovely poster map of the town of Cillimar and the lower levels of Castle Whiterock, and a very useful index and glossary. There are some useful bookmarks, although unfortunately not too detailed. The pdf content is completely background free for easy printing (and reading!), although parts of the product have included backgrounds in the pdfs (the gazetteer, for example), but a background free version of these is provided.

The production quality of this pdf is excellent. The maps are good and mostly clear (there are no legends so it's sometimes difficult to tell what the map is depicting without reading the area description), the handouts are fantastic, and the artwork in the pdf is mostly great (there are a few poor pieces in there, it should be said). In addition the editors and writers have done a fantastic job - both in the general product editing and the editing of the monster stat blocks which are included along with each encounter area's description. In 761 pages you're bound to find mistakes, and they're there, for sure, but overall I think Goodman Games have done a splendid presentation job on this product. I would even go so far as to say that this DCC product, despite its length, beats most of the other products in the DCC line for presentation and production value. And that's not even talking about content, which will give most other DCC adventures and other mega adventures/dungeon out there a good run for their money.

As one can expect from Goodman Games and their product and adventures, Castle Whiterock contains a whole host of new material, including skills, feats, spells, magical items and monsters. Those familiar with new monsters from other DCC products will find some of them here, and Castle Whiterock even provides a page detailing tie-ins to more than forty other DCC adventures and the events in those adventures. No stone is really unturned in this product - if you're looking for something, you'll find it there, from the smallest details to the more important ones. This is as complete an adventure as you will find - years of gaming fun in a single product.

On with the adventure itself. Castle Whiterock is a mammoth castle with more than 15 different levels. Each level corresponds to the appropriate character level, so level 1 is for 1st level characters, while level 7 is for 7th level characters. Many levels have sublevels or subsections for exploration, meaning that there are about two dozen different adventure areas to explore. The introduction provides numerous plot hooks through which characters can get involved in the story of Castle Whiterock. DMs may wish to even use more than one plot hook, although those that wish to 'kill stuff and take their loot' will find that there is plenty of opportunity to do just that. The plot hooks are fairly decent, although with such large mega dungeons, one always has to be concerned about plot exposition. Using multiple plot hooks will bring Castle Whiterock to life and will aid this plot exposition, and avoid having this good adventure and its story line turn into just a hack-n-slash adventure.

Plot exposition still remains a concern, and while many plots and subplots are detailed, not that many are completely revealed to the party, meaning that the adventure loses a little of its spark. While reading through this adventure, I was genuinely excited about what I was reading, and quite hooked on getting to see what the authors had done on the next level and how everything was going to turn out in the end. I couldn't help but feel, though, that most of this information is lost on the players. Some advice to DMs running through this adventure would be to ensure proper plot exposition of all the numerous ideas in Castle Whiterock.

That said, Castle Whiterock has a detailed, interesting and entertaining history, and one of the things I liked about this adventure was the way the history has become part of the story, and how the journey through Castle Whiterock reveals this history and bits and pieces to form a complete picture of Castle Whiterock through the ages. Again, the exposition is not perfect, but it brings Castle Whiterock to life as a bastion of struggles where things of consequence have happened and that these consequences are felt through the centuries. It means Castle Whiterock in more than just a 'place', it's something that has become legend in the area, and something that has felt the presence of good and evil through the centuries of its existence.

Around Castle Whiterock is the town of Cillamar where the adventure is in part based, and the entire Kingdom of Morrain. While Cillamar is integrated into the plot of the adventure in several ways, it forms only an early base for adventurers as they clear the first few levels of the castle. It would've been nice to see the town of Cillamar become more than just a brief stay, and become more integral to the story rather than just the initial plot hooks until adventurers tend to shelter in the dungeon itself. The Kingdom of Morrain itself, while fantastically detailed, has largely little bearing on the adventure, which is slightly disappointing.

The story itself, as mentioned, consists of several main plots and a number of subplots. In general the main plots, slavery for one, are fairly straightforward, but it's the details that make it an interesting adventure. The fifteen levels of the adventure allow characters to uncover many elements of Castle Whiterock as they follow the many storylines through the adventure. There are numerous quests and subquests to be had that parties can partake in as they adventure through Castle Whiterock, giving a little bit of variety in the overall plot. The levels of the dungeon fit together coherently, meaning that there are no levels that are there without good reason, or that don't form an integral part of Castle Whiterock's ecology or history.

Through the adventure characters will face pretty much every threat that one can imagine. While not every monster is present, and levels of the dungeon are generally arranged around a 'theme' or 'historical element', there are plenty of fun and unique challenges. Characters can white-water raft through subterranean tunnels, walk the paths of ancient academies, come face to face with the unlikeliest of allies, face monsters never seen before, and uncover the exploits of long-lost heroes in Castle Whiterock. There's plenty to be had here for adventuring - new monsters, great encounters, good villians, good back story and history, and interesting locations and terrain.

The adventure itself, though, has at times a bit of a 'video game' feel to it. The many 'themed' levels in the dungeon, the numerous hidden locations, the 'easter eggs' and other elements that one would associate with video games. For example, there are numerous subquests that often require specific items that are scattered across the levels. To complete these subquests will likely entail travelling up and down the levels of Castle Whiterock, because various items are distributed across the entire dungeon. This can be quite tedious if you're trying to solve a riddle or quest on the 9th level and can't find the hidden item on the 6th level, for example. I do like the subquests, though, as I think they add a lot of flavor to the adventure that's often needed beyond the main plot elements. There are some less interesting levels in there, and these side quests help to make them a little more interesting.

Castle Whiterock is an epic mega dungeon adventure, and one of the best I've seen. It combines a fantastical history and background into several plot elements that take the characters on an adventure through the multi-faceted halls of Castle Whiterock, revealing a location with life and history. The adventure features great encounters, adventure to be had, wonderful villains, great twists in the tale, and many hidden secrets waiting to be uncovered. On the down side, there are some tedious bits, the plot exposition needs to be carefully managed to avoid this getting boring, and the Kingdom of Morrain and Cillamar are not as involved as they could be. I'm torn with regard to how to rate this adventure, though. My gut instinct, the potential of the adventure to be great when run and the enjoyment I had in reading it give the product five out of five stars, but I think it could've been better and has its problems. I think one question that really needs answering is - is this the greatest story ever told as the adventure blurb suggests? I think it's one of the better ones, that's for sure. Based on that, I'll go with my gut instinct.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #51: Castle Whiterock
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Simply Creatures
Publisher: Mad Scotsman Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2007 09:36:40
Simply Creatures is a 64 page d20 pdf presenting a number of new and bizarre races and monsters from the far reaches of the world. This compilation of creatures is a stand-alone product from Mad Scottsman Games, and is fully compatible with the revised d20 core rules. The creatures and races are suitable to any fantasy d20 campaign setting.

The product comes as a single pdf file. Layout and presentation are done in a single column, with a good selection of artwork thrown in for each of the races and monsters presented in the book. Not every monster has its own unique artwork, although for the most part something fitting has been added to the pdf to enhance the verbal description. The product lacks bookmarks, but contains a thorough table on contents. Writing and editing are good, with some vivid narrative pieces thrown in between various parts of the pdf, although the mechanical editing has missed quite a number of mistakes in the stat blocks of the creatures presented in the product. Overall, it's a decent looking product, though by no means great, and the presentation could probably have used a little more polish to bring it into line with the leading products produced for the d20 market.

Simply Creatures starts with a brief overview of the product before jumping into the two sections of the pdf - races and monsters. The themes, as it were, are races from the edge of the world, and monsters of legend and waste. These are the creatures found in the unexplored territories and in the dark corners of every game world, though naturally that does not have to be the case when throwing these creatures at a party of unsuspecting adventurers.

The pdf presents seven new races for use in your d20 game, in a mixed combination of level adjustments. Some of the races feel like they should probably have been written up as monsters instead as pure races without a stat block and just racial characteristics, but perhaps that is a matter of personal preference. The races include the gresh (half desert giants), the huarti (spawn of the breeding between serpent-creatures and humans), komainu orc (monk-like and philosophical orcs), the nhar (a lizardfolk-like race from the desert), the surion (half-elf, half-dragon), the veral (humanoid plants), and finally half-veral (half of the former).

The races show some unique characteristics and the write-ups are detailed enough to get a good idea as to the nature of the race. I couldn't help shake the feeling that while these were mechanically different and here of there had some unique characteristics, they were just similar creatures in disguise. The surion, for example, could just as well have been created using the core rules and the half-dragon template, while the nhar and the komainu are just different flavors of lizardfolk and orc. They're more subraces, than races, in some respects, although each has its defining and more unique characteristics.

The monster section presents 12 new monsters ranging from CR 1/2 to a whopping CR 27 for the celestial dragon. Several monsters have numerous incarnations, so that expands the number of monsters a little bit. Much like one or two of the races should probably be written up as monsters, so to some of these monsters should've been written with templates, rather than creating half a dozen monsters of similar kind but only slightly different characteristics. The monsters presented in this product include the celestial dragon, the insect-like xix, the gearhead and tree goblins, the humanoid-like doll golems, the desert giant, and the dust lich. As mentioned earlier, the editors missed quite a few mechanical errors, including a number of instances where the creature type should probably have been different. Goblin-like creatures should probably have had the humanoid type rather than the monstrous humanoids time, for example.

The monsters themselves are fairly decent, and in some places unique, but in general they were mostly not particularly spectacular. The desert giant is just another giant-type, the tree goblin is just another goblin type, and the celestial dragon just another dragon largely similar to other creatures of its kind. The khatarin (humanoids with animal heads) would probably have been better suited to a template, and again it's not a particularly novel idea. There are some interesting creatures here, like the xix and the dust lich, but for the most part these monsters are again just different flavored incarnations of similar creatures. I liked the write-ups and they gave sufficient information to use the creatures, so if you would like a different flavor to a creature, this product has some new variants to take a look at.

Overall this is a decent product. It presents a lot of new races and monsters, that, while not all unique in some kind of way, at least add a refreshing new take on a similar concept or creature. There are still a slew of mechanical errors, with some rather odd type designations in the mix, but for the most part this product holds its own as a monster book. The artwork is numerous, though not often entirely relevant, and the layout could've used a little more polish. Simply Creatures does offer some good utility, though, and even with its few defects, can provide good entertainment when challenging your adventures with these monsters and races.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Simply Creatures
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Propz: Dungeon Features
Publisher: Arid Hills Productions
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/19/2007 11:20:22
Propz Gaming Aids: Dungeon Features is a 35 page pdf product of 3D models for fantasy roleplaying games. This is one of several products in the Propz Gaming Aids lines of products from Arid Hills Productions, and features a large collection of dungeon or even castle features for creating high quality 3D models for your roleplaying games. Propz Gaming Aids are designed around 25 to 28 mm miniature figures, and this product should therefore easily be compatible with similar 3D dungeon or castle sets.

This product comes as a single pdf file that contains an extensive set of bookmarks for easy navigation. Each model in the pdf comes complete with a set of instructions, and the artwork appears on a single page to make printing easier. The pdf also includes a lengthy section on techniques, equipment required and advice regarding 3D models and cutting, which is extremely useful for first-time and would-be 3D dungeon builders. There are a total of 32 different models in this product, although not all are of different types, so for example, there are 6 different types of table, and 3 different altars. The variety in general is more than adequate to meet basic adventuring and dungeon needs, and having seen the quality of this product I'm hoping Arid Hills Production expands on this to create more dungeon features in future products.

Dungeon Features includes the following 3D models: 3 different staircases (stone, spiral wood, and wood), 6 types of table (parchments, with dead chicken, two standard tables with different types of wood, mugs, and a map), 4 types of chair (different woods with or without leather seating), 4 different benches (two different woods with or without padded seating), 3 different altars (runes, sacrificial victim, and dagger/holy water), a door (wooden with a stone arch and skeleton above doorway), a raised pool, 2 styles of pillars (carved square and fluted), 2 treasure chests with five content inserts (treasure, weapons or skeletons), 3 stair tiles to match the stair models (for stairs going down on a level), 3 pit traps (with water, unfathomly deep and with skeleton at the bottom), and standard floor texture. As can be seen, there's excellent variety, and some very useful features that are typical for most dungeons or castles.

Artwork of the models is done at 300 dpi, and is of fantastic and realistic quality. The models once built look really good, and are designed to be used with standard 80 gsm paper, meaning you don't need special cardstock to complete these models. The ones I crafted to get a feel for the product were easy to assemble and looked excellent from all angels, even when turned upside down, since all models such as chairs and tables include bottoms as well as top details. Instructions are easy to follow with very useful photographs showing what the model should look like after each step.

I was impressed by this product - it's got high quality artwork, easy to assemble models, good variety, good selection of models that will actually get used, and the overall pdf was well organised with good bookmarks and layout for printing. There's not much else to say - it's a great product with excellent 3D models that will go well with other sets from Arid Hills Productions, or other publishers. You really can't go wrong here - high quality and good value for money. And, once assembled, these models are sturdy enough to be used time and time again. Excellent product from Arid Hills Productions!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Propz: Dungeon Features
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Master at Arms: Legionnaire
Publisher: Blackdirge Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/14/2007 05:11:36
Master at Arms: Legionnaire is a short 8 page d20 pdf and the 14th product in Blackdirge Publishing's Master at Arms series. Each product in the series focuses on a specific weapon and builds a prestige class, often with historical background, based on the use of that weapon. This product takes a look at the short sword, and in particular the quintessential historical wielder of the short sword or gladius, the Roman legionnaire. This product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

Master at Arms: Legionnaire follows the standard format of all the products in the series, coming with a standard cover including some good art by Jesse Mohn. The same art is also used once as interior art, amongst a few minor pieces that are largely standard to the format of the series. Like all the products in this series, the product is professionally presented, with good layout, editing, writing and general organisation. The mechanics is strong, and there are some useful design notes included to detail the origin of most of the mechanics and tie it in nicely with the historical background presented. Overall, another splendid presentation job from Blackdirge Publishing.

This product presents a new prestige class built around the short sword. In this instance, the prestige class is the legionnaire, a wielder of the gladius which is akin to the short sword as a stabbing sword. The legionnaire is one of the more famous warriors of the ancient world, renowned for combat prowess, discipline, endurance, will, and superior equipment and tactics. The legionnaire was one of the key features of the Roman Empire that allowed the empire to conquer vast territory during its prime.

The product starts with a brief introduction to the history of the legionnaire, by describing weapons, tactics and features of this superior infantry warrior. This gives a good, albeit short, and very useful overview of the legendary legionnaire, allowing those unfamiliar with this Roman warrior to place the prestige class into perspective and add some flavor. The legionnaire prestige class, like other classes in this series, is built to follow the historical character fairly well. It encompasses aspects of the Roman warrior well, for example, endurance (Endurance feat requirement and the ability to improve carrying capacity), discipline (Iron Will feat, and an ability that allows the warrior to resist certain effects), combat proficiency (a range of good abilities and feats), and versatility (by including Profession (soldier) as a required skill).

As a warrior focused on the short sword the class gains improved ability with its use in the form of feats, synergy abilities with the fighter class, and several new abilities that make short stabbing and piercing thrusts with the short sword much more deadly. The prestige class fights effectively with shield and short sword against two-handed weapon wielders, and can deliver very deadly blows to the body. The class is well built with good flavor, and forms an interesting and balanced representation of the Roman legionnaire. I wasn't particularly fond of one or two of the mechanics, but that's largely because of the massive damage mechanic used that gets slightly modified for one of the legionnaire's abilities.

As per usual, the last part of the pdf details a new NPC that uses this prestige class, in this instance a fiendish character with devil ancestry. The write-up is as usual excellent, with good background and flavor and strong mechanical exposition. The NPC will make a useful and interesting villain or even ally for a d20 fantasy campaign.

Overall, I liked this product. It provides a flavorful and useful class that builds strongly on the historical basis for the Roman Legionnaire. The prestige class will fit in well with an organised military unit that forms part of a larger campaign world. Whether this concept should've been built as a base class rather than a prestige class is a matter for debate, particularly given that the legionnaire in most fantasy games will be a commander type (higher level, given the entry requirements) rather than an infantry and to a certain extent disposable warrior. The NPC is very good, and something that I can see easily being used in many games. Very good product, once again from Blackdirge Games.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Master at Arms: Legionnaire
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for another nice review. I really wish I could have included more historical info on the Roman legionnaire, as history is fairly bursting with information on the subject, but in the end I had to resign myself to cover only the main points, basically arms and armor. And what's funny, this intro still ended up being the longest one in the entire series.
Clash of Arms: Infantry
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/23/2007 05:07:19
Clash of Arms: Infantry is a short 13 page d20 pdf product from Vigilance Press. This is the fifth product in their line of historical fantasy sourcebooks, and details the infantryman or foot soldier from the Middle Ages. Each product in the series covers a different aspect of the Middle Ages, bringing it to life in a fantasy world and presenting a new core class. Other products in the series have looked at witches, nobility, and cavalry warfare. This product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

This product comes as a single pdf file that includes a suitable front cover with some medieval art, but no bookmarks. The format and layout of the product is good and professional, with a clean two-column layout without any interior art. The editing and writing is good as well, supported by some decent mechanics, although in some instances the mechanics can be a little unclear or might need a little clarification work. Overall, this pdf slots in nicely with the others in the series, and looks like a decent, solid product.

This product takes a look a the common medieval foot soldier, and creates a fantasy d20 class based on that concept - the infantryman. The product starts by offering a brief introduction to the foot soldier, and, later on in the product offers some more mouth-watering tales from history describing the role of the infantryman in battle. The infantryman is a rather long and complex class since it attempts to incorporate all types of infantryman into a single class - the spearman, the man-at-arms, the skirmisher, the commander, the archer and the scout.

As such the class description is quite length although held together by a single block of statistics describing the progression of the class. I've always liked the utility of this kind of format, allowing a single class to take multiple paths and roles, and this does not disappoint in allowing you to build the infantryman to your tastes. Where it really shines is to allow you to combine aspects of the different infantrymen. Want a scout good at archery and command? Easy to do. Want a man-at-arms commander that can skirmish? Even easier. The class is flexible, and when combined with the d20 feats system, even more flexible.

Each of the different aspects of the infantryman gain multiple different abilities as they advance in level. Archer's, for example, gain the ability to rain arched fire down on their enemies, commanders can rally their troops, the man-at-arms is exceptional in heavy armor, the skirmisher fleet of foot, and the spearman effective against charges and in creating a shield wall. There's a lot of new material here in the mechanics to digest, in some cases offering different implementations of familiar ideas. In one or two cases the mechanics is a bit long-winded and could be more succinct or clearer, but for the most part this class captures the medieval infantryman well and builds a versatile and flexible class.

Next the pdf takes a look at a new skill - Craft (fortification). Throughout the course of medieval times the 'modern' armies of the time were adept at both warfare and numerous other skills. The more proficient an army was at surviving on the march and going on long campaigns by being self-sufficient, the better for the army. This skill takes a look at crafting fortification and digging in defences. It's a good skill with some versatility to most games. Lastly, but not least, the pdf takes a look at three climatic battles in history that illustrate the role of the infantryman. These battles are - Battle of Hastings, Battle of Arsuf and the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V's victory. These are all enjoyable reads, bringing together the concepts in the pdf and history together nicely and illustrating how history was used to build the infantryman class. It gives a broad overview of the role of the infantryman in each battle, providing material for building on the class from a roleplaying perspective as well.

Overall I liked this pdf. It's got a good balance between historical perspective and the new class, builds a strong and versatile class with good foundations, and illustrates the effectiveness of the class using historical examples. Here and there the mechanics is a bit weak, but for the most part this is a good pdf that hangs together nicely with itself and others in the series. I'm looking forward to seeing more products in the series!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Clash of Arms: Infantry
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