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E-Z DUNGEONS: Expansion Set 5
Publisher: Fat Dragon Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/17/2011 12:16:49
There are only a handful of publishers that stand out in my mind for producing 3D terrain objects and structures for gaming, Fat Dragon Games being one of them. Their E-Z Dungeon series of products is a fantastic display of high quality art, ease of design and build, and general user-friendliness. The structures that this series of products can create cover the majority of the basics, and with six expansions sets at the time of writing this review, there is a lot of additional material on offer to expand your 3D offerings around the gaming table. This product, E-Z Dungeons - Expansion Set 5, is not the largest of the various expansion sets, but does provide some vital items to populate your dungeons with - more objects. The focus on objects in these expansion sets is very welcome, as good 3D dungeon objects are hard to come by, particularly for cardstock craft.

E-Z Dungeons - Expansion Set 5 provides several pdf files containing general instructions for assembling and creating cardstock creations, specific instructions related to this expansion set, and several pdf files for the various objects and dungeon features that this product contains. The general instruction set is one of the most pleasing I've seen, making it easy for even the total amateur to assemble something that looks fantastic. The instructions give numerous useful tips on crafting high quality cardstock structures, including such ideas as using bobby pins to hold various sections of a structure together. This is a fantastic introduction to cardstock modelling, and very well presented with good photographs and detailed, yet simple, step by step instructions. The specific instructions for this set follow in a similar vein, making it easy to construct the various objects on offer.

This expansion set provides the following structures or objects - bookcases in a variety of options and wood colors, bedding and beds, various crates, broken tables and a spiral staircase, all easily customizable within the pdf product. Artwork is fantastic and detailed, allowing you to create something that looks realistic on the gaming table. The product makes excellent use of good textures and colors to give that real-world feel to all the crafted structures. The modular design of some of the structures also offers room for expansion simply by printing out more of the modular sections. Overall, this is a top-quality offering of more 3D objects with which to create the ultimate table prop. Excellent product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
E-Z DUNGEONS: Expansion Set 5
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Book of Monster Templates (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/14/2011 13:38:24
Some of my most memorable and indeed favourite RPG books are books on monster templates. The template mechanic is certainly one of the most innovative concepts to come out of modern RPGs as it allows you to transform any number of different creatures, effectively doubling the number of critters at your disposal, with a single template. The Book of Monster Templates is no exception to the above, providing a stream of high quality templates for the Pathfinder RPG. This product comes as a 111 page pdf, and collects new and never before seen templates into an outstanding reference for boosting any GMs monster arsenal. With a bunch of new and innovative templates at your disposal, characters and their players need never again be entirely sure what they are facing.

The Book of Monster Templates introduces more than 30 new templates, each presented over several pages. Each templates consists of a brief description, the template mechanics and special abilities, a section on lore and Knowledge checks, ecology, and a sample creature along with some fabulous and rich art. Overall this combines to a splendid presentation. If that wasn't enough, each template also contains a handful of new material in the form of feats or spells that can be used to enhance the template's existing abilities. The writing and editing is very good, and the pages devoted to each template capture the flavour well. In places it's not entirely clear from the description what the template is intended to be, but the mechanics capture the concept well and illuminate it well.

The product contains a number of interesting templates and concepts, such as the Phalanx creature for creatures that share a familial bond with one another, or the Aware Arcana which is a magical and aware construct formed from residual magic. I'll readily admit that I read many of the templates with relish, enjoying the concepts and the write-ups in equal measure. It's a sign of a good product when it easily and without effort gets the creative juices flowing with only a few sentences or a single idea and this product doesn't disappoint in that department. I was really pleased and impressed by the quality of the material, the scope covered by the variety and range of the templated creatures and the concise write-ups that manage to capture the flavor and concept well. This is an excellent product that provides amazing utility and versatility, both in the templates and the additional monster feats and spells, and as the first, I think, monster template book for the Pathfinder RPG, will sit comfortably in any RPG library along with other classic monster products. Excellently presented, excellent material.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Monster Templates (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
I wanted to thank Peter for taking the time to do a review of our product, Steve Russell; Rite Publishing (5/5 stars! snoopy happy dance of joy!)
Advanced Arcana
Publisher: Necromancers of the Northwest
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/14/2011 13:33:09
Many of the spell-products that have been released over the years are extensive collections of spells that are mostly just variants of existing spells with perhaps something new strewn into the mix. It's rare and unusual to find a product that doesn't just present new spells, but takes things a little further. Advanced Arcana Volume I (which is something of a misnomer as the product also contains numerous divine spells) is such a product that presents three new spell types and the spells that go along with each new type. It's much more than a book of spells though, as it covers other new additions such as sorcerer bloodlines, cleric domains and other useful material for the Pathfinder Roleplaying game.

Advanced Arcane is a 59 page color pdf product, very well presented with some good quality art and layout. The background is a little dark for my tastes, but that's an entirely subjective opinion. While the vast majority of the product is mechanical in nature, it's partially presented from the perspective of a wizard well versed in the lore of the spells presented. As such, there are many pieces of conversational prose in the product, that both make an entertaining read as well as provide useful and beneficial information about the product to the reader. Both the mechanical and fictional writing are very good, as is the editing. The mechanics is also solid. It should be said though, as is highlighted in the product, that this is a product of rare or unusual spells, and as such their power levels may be beyond what one would normally be used to. DMs are encouraged with good advice to be judicious in handing out the spells in this product.

As mentioned, this product is about spells, but more importantly perhaps about three new spell types. The first is the segmented spell, which is essentially a spell that requires multiple castings to complete and one that can be completed co-operatively. There are a number of cleverly crafted versions of these spells, and naturally if they're actually cast can be quite deadly. This kind of spell also acts very well as a plot hook, and as such it's probably best if they do exhibit almost exorbitant levels of power. The second type of spell is the fountain spell, which when cast allows you to recall a spell of lower level in addition to the effect from the spell itself. This is clever in that it extends the mage's arsenal, while at the same time not increasing their power. Lastly, the third spell type is a modal spell, which has different strengths depending on the amount of casting time put into the spell. All these types of spells combine well to create additional possibilities for spellcasters of all classes.

I was quite pleased with the selection of spells presented and the implementation of the above types within them. There are a lot of fun and quite entertaining spells there. Xelar's Prismatic Sphere is a wonderful visual spell, for example, where the wizard's body explodes each round with a different part of the standard prismatic sphere. Such spells, when used properly, can be devastating and highly visual, but more importantly offer extensive subtext for plot hooks and story arcs. Overall this is a wonderful selection of new spells and spells types, perhaps a little on the powerful side, but understandably so. A solid product that's well worth a look if you want to increase the versatility of your spellcaster or as a DM to use the more powerful spells as a campaign arc or story incentive. Neat product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Arcana
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[PFRPG] Forgotten Foes
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/01/2011 14:51:26
Throughout the many different fantasy roleplaying games there are always a small number of foes, adversaries or monsters that stand as 'classic'. This can be for a variety of reasons, be it a memorable battle or a prolonged struggle against the evil machinations of said creatures. Whenever new fantasy roleplaying games and monster books get produced, a number of these 'classic' creatures are left out. This could simply be a matter of space, or otherwise because one person's 'classic' is not the same as another's. Forgotten Foes attempts to address this 'imbalance' for the Pathfinder RPG, by presenting in glorious formatting a whole slew of monsters that didn't make it into the early releases of the Pathfinder RPG. If you're missing some of your favorite creatures to throw at your players, or simply want to find something you've not seen before, Forgotten Foes is a great place to look.

Let me start and say, right from the begining, that this is an excellent and classy product. It's one of those products that really should be on your shelf if you're GM of the Pathfinder RPG. In its 197 pages you'll find more than a hundred classic and new monsters - ones that you've never seen, or ones that you may have forgotten about. For older gamers this product will bring back to the Pathfinder RPG monsters and creatures that will appeal to your nostalgia, while newer gamers will get to see a marvelous collection of innovative and fun creatures to enhance their gaming experience. This book has it all, really - great monsters, fantastic art, wonderful presentation and attention to detail, buckets of new material in the form of spells and monster abilities; and many tables to help you select the most appropriate creature for your play level and terrain location. Presentation and content are both top notch, and the conversion team have managed to capture the true spirit of each monster very well from its original incarnation. Some of the creatures left out of the Pathfinder RPG are now finding their way back into the game.

Example creatures in this product that are now available for the Pathfinder RPG include many classics such as achaierai, blink dogs, flail snails, howlers, skulks, phantom fungi, trappers and many, many more. The monsters in this product complement the existing Pathfinder monsters very well, and boost the arsenal of creatures available to GMs. Each creature comes complete with a converted statistics block, full description of mechanics and ecology, and wonderful art for every single creature in the product. I cannot recommend this product enough - if you're looking for something special or different, or just wondering what happened to classic creatures from earlier editions, this product is for you. An excellent product all round.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Forgotten Foes
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Slumbering Tsar: The Desolation, Part 2 - The Ghosts of Victory
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/22/2010 03:40:30
Slumbering Tsar - The Desolation - The Ghosts of Victory is the second part in a 14 chapter mega-adventure from Necromancer Games and Frog God Games. This mega-adventure is further divided into three primary adventures - The Desolation (three chapters), the Temple-City of Orcus (five chapters), and the Hidden Citadel (six chapters). The primary adventures can be run as stand-alone or as part of the larger campaign arc, though it is not recommended that the individual chapters be run on their own, other than using material from said chapters in other adventures.

The Ghosts of Victory kicks off where the first part of the Desolation - the Edge of Oblivion - ended, with the characters about the leave the Camp and set out into the Desolation and beyond. The Ghosts of Victory described two of the four quarters that form the massive expanse that is the Desolation - the Ashen Waste and the Chaos Rift - while the third chapter in the Desolation describes the remaining two quadrants - The Boiling Lands and the Dead Fields - along with the network of paths and crossroads that run through the barren and dangerous Desolation. In the Ashen Waste the characters will encounter numerous threats and dangers while exploring the area, while the magically sundered rift, the Choas Rift, will reveal more about the history of the Desolation, the Army of Light and the hordes of Orcus and his disciples.

Like the first part, the Edge of Oblivion, the Ghosts of Victory is a high quality presented product, with excellent layout, art and fantastic writing. The maps are a bit sparse and perhaps bland, but no less functional because of it. The story details and background are handled very well, and elements of it are scattered throughout the various encounters of the Ashen Waste and the Chaos Rift. It's worth re-mentioning my complaint from the first part of the Desolation - there's no campaign summary, making it difficult to know exactly where all these chapters of the larger adventure are headed and how to plan around that to make the most of what is undoubtedly great background material. The problem is a little more prevalent in a way in this and the third part of the Desolation, in that there can be a lot of seemingly purposeless wandering and encounters that aren't necessarily tied to the plot in any way. It's a little like experiencing a vast wasteland of random encounters, though most of the encounters are either tied to events in the Camp or to story elements, though the players may not always be aware of this.

Issues of overarching story elements and plot aside, the Ashen Waste and Chaos Rift are locations oozing with flavor. The author has gone out of his way, even in the numerous available random encounters, to create every drop of flavor that he could, making each encounter here rich in detail and fun to play. There are some fantastic encounter locations, all described in gorgeous detail and with some challenging and interesting combat encounters. I naturally gravitated to those tied to the story elements or the exploits of the Camp, and it was a pleasure to read through this material. Each of the two quadrants in this product have their own flavor and theme, the Ashen Waste one of intense bone storms, and the Chaos Rift a deep gash in the earth caused by immense magical power. Despite the potential unrelated events and encounters that can be in these regions of the Desolation, players and their characters will no doubt have a blast. There's a very good variety of encounters and challenges, and with the Camp not far away, excellent opportunity for further roleplaying in between combat encounters. There is also some room for the characters to discover more about what happened here in the Desolation, the main players involved in that fatal clash of armies long ago, and what lies ahead for them in the Desolation.

The Ghosts of Victory is a very good product, oozing flavor and offering plenty of rich combat encounters and roleplaying opportunities. It's a pity the story elements, as yet, can not be tied together properly, but this product will be lots of fun even without that. Rich in detail, challenging in combat, and fun in unravelling the machinations of the Camp, this product offers a good taste of what is potentially to come. The differences between and themes of the two quarters of the Desolation are tangible, and players will enjoy the atmosphere created, and experience how the Desolation lives up to its name. Overall, a good product with a lot on offer - a dungeon crawl in the wilderness as only Necromancer can.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Slumbering Tsar: The Desolation, Part 2 - The Ghosts of Victory
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Slumbering Tsar: The Desolation, Part 1 - The Edge of Obilvion
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/19/2010 13:34:33
Slumbering Tsar - The Desolation - The Edge of Oblivion is the first part in a 14 chapter mega-adventure from the creative minds of Necromancer Games and Frog God Games. This 14 chapter mega-adventure is divided into three main adventures: The Desolation (consisting of three chapters), the Temple-City of Orcus (consisting of five chapters) and lastly the Hidden Citadel (consisting of six chapters). It is generally not recommended that any of the individual chapterss are run on their own, though those chapters that form a particular adventure can be run as a single adventure product with some modification.

The Edge of Oblivion is the first part of the Desolation and sees the adventurers arrive at a rather dilapidated settlement called the Camp, where they get the chance to explore, learn about the various northern lands of the Desolation and encounter some of the numerous threats that pervade the area. The Ghosts of Victory, the second chapter in the Desolation, continues the exploration of the Desolation with the magically created Chaos Rift and the deadly storms of the Ashen Waste, while chapter three, the Western Front concludes the details of the Desolation with the Boiling Lands and the Dead Fields. In essence, this first adventure acts as a spring board to further exploration of the Desolation, which in turn, at the end, brings the characters to the gates of the Temple-City of Orcus where the adventure continues.

The Edge of Oblivion is a professionally and excellently presented product, with high production quality, excellent writing and very good art. It ticks all the boxes as far as presentation and writing go, providing vivid and frankly quite compelling details on the adventure background which features the battle between the Army of Light and the hordes of Orcus. The background details are rich and ripe with opportunity, allowing plenty of room to incorporate your own ideas and thoughts. The adventure hooks are enough to get you started on exploring the Desolation and the Camp, though I have my doubts about whether they're compelling enough to provide incentive and motivation to continue the exploration beyond that. With less than a handful of parts in the mega-adventure released so far, it's hard to estimate the purpose and motivation of the rest of the adventure, and how easy it will be to keep the characters hooked on the plot hooks provided. The lack of a complete adventure overview in some form is quite bothersome, as it doesn't give you enough information to make the most of the material provided, or to incorporate overarching plots across the three adventures.

This chapter of the adventure is focused solely on the Camp, a small, but wretched settlement. The aim is to give characters both a base of operations as well as an introduction to the adventure and the Desolation itself. Here the characters will deal with all sorts of interesting characters and creatures, and find themselves embroidered in a variety of schemes and conflicts. I though the Camp was very well done, with great roleplaying opportunity, very interesting encounters with all manner of creatures, and the opportunity to learn a lot about what lies ahead. There are several fixed encounters in the adventure, but also other encounters that are triggered by various events as the characters explore the Desolation. I thought this was an excellent touch, though at the same time I was disappointed that the adventure couldn't have provided more details or integrated further. For example, there's no integration with the other two adventures in the series (Temple-City of Orcus) and (The Hidden Citadel), and it would've been really nice to give a well-fleshed out base with colorful characters a more lasting role in the overall adventure.

Having read all three parts of the Desolation adventure, I have to admit that I like this one the best. It's got the most opportunity for roleplaying, the most opportunity for DMs to stretch the creative minds, and the author has provided a compelling area to act as a springboard to the rest of the Desolation. Within the scope of the broader adventure the Edge of Oblivion has a few faults, but as a stand-alone area it's a lovely settlement with diversity of characters and interesting subplots. For those not interested in running through this mega-adventure, the Camp is an unique location that can easily be used in other campaigns. Overall. a great start to the mega-adventure, but lacking in details as to what this mega-adventure actually entails, and a more lasting connection to its material for the Camp itself.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Slumbering Tsar: The Desolation, Part 1 - The Edge of Obilvion
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The Inn of Lost Heroes
Publisher: Small Niche Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2010 14:38:39
The Inn of Lost Heroes is one of the best adventures for Labyrinth Lord I've read in a while. It features all the classic elements of a great adventure - loads of atmosphere, plenty of action, roleplaying galore, the unexplained and unknown, and a perfect balance between all the aforementioned elements. In this adventure the heroes become involved in the dark, horror and unexplained events surrounding a well-known inn. As they get drawn deeper into the inn's twisted world, where rules are meant to be broken, they must look for a sliver of light that will release them from their nightmare. The Inn of Lost Heroes is suitable for 3 to 6 characters of levels 3 to 5, of which it is recommended that one of each class be present in the party. The presentation of this product is very good, although the maps are fairly average, and I wished the organisation had been a little bit better. There's an awful lot of referring to different sections backwards and forwards across the product, and things could've been improved by simply breaking various sections down a lot better. As is, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're in a new section or still busy with the old one. Artwork is fairly sparse, though good when present. I though the cover was fairly decent, and reminiscent of old-school adventure gaming.

I really enjoyed this adventure product. From the moment I started reading it I was hooked. This product oozes flavor and atmosphere, and will make a great horror or dark adventure for any GMs party and characters. On top of that it's ingenious in its handling of the various elements of the background and the plot, as well as the fabulous location that's presented in the product. The author and team create a really vivid and alive inn with some impressive flavor. I really appreciated the roleplaying opportunities involved in this adventure, although in places I thought it could be quite frantic for GMs to run as a result of the sheer number of NPCs. It might have been better, particularly in latter parts of the adventure, to keep some of the NPC numbers down, but even so their large numbers are handled very well mechanically. Novice GMs might struggle to effectively portray chaotic and frantic scenes with so many NPCs. Even reading it made it difficult to discern all the actions.

The adventure is full of action and activity, and can be quite breathless by the end of the adventure. There's a lot happening, and the adventure provides for more action than any GM really needs to include. I thought the concept and plot were very good, and the execution even better. I wasn't really a big fan of the parts of the adventure that were aimed at solo characters, but even so the reasoning behind this was clear and the outcome of these encounters will just add to the atmosphere and horror of what the characters are living through. Plenty of details are provided on all the NPCs (and GMs will really have to be on their toes when running this adventure), and each NPC has a clear purpose in the adventure. I thought some of the NPCs were very well handled, and the conclusion of the adventure, if run all the way to its natural end, is very satisfying, and indeed emotional. I can't recommend this adventure enough. It's a fantastic blend of breathless action, horror-flavored atmosphere and innovative opportunity. Great product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Inn of Lost Heroes
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Fantastic Maps: Arena of Fire
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2010 14:35:14
Fantastic Maps - Arena of Fire is Rite Publishing's latest offering of 2D terrain tiles. This set features a magical and mystical temple through which a dangerous river of fire and lava flows. This map set, like all in the Fantastic Maps series, features a single location in one inch scale to each map square. The entire map has a size of 34 by 44 inches, with each individual tile being 8 by 8 squares. Tiles overlap a small amount to allow for easy assembly. As this is not a generic tile set, it's likely quite difficult to combine it with other sets in the same series, and is best used as a single encounter, single location product. The product includes additional features such as MapTool files, a global image of the whole map for easy GM reference and assembly guide, and both color and black-and-white versions of the terrain tiles for printing.

The Arena of Fire is a striking map that offers lots of tactical opportunities. With loads of mystical, magical glyphs and symbols dotted around the map and a river of fire bisecting the map, creative GMs can make good use of the possibilities. Various areas offer different chances and opportunities at crossing to the other side, and with multiple entry points into the chamber it can be a fun scramble with good strategic and tactical nuances. The artwork is very good - I particularly liked the vibrant fire of the river, and the magical symbols themselves. The rest of the map is very clean in the sense that it doesn't offer any typical dungeon or temple features. A little bit of background featuring, for example, marks on the surface stones, bones and other small items would've made the map a little more realistic. The glyphs or symbols are useful to designate various magical zone in a radius around the glyph or to trigger various effects. The possibilities of these glyphs are left the GMs imagination. Overall, I thought this was another very good product in the Fantastic Maps series. If you're looking for an exciting and tactical map for a final adventure encounter featuring magical effects and a river of fire, this is a very good option. Good product.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantastic Maps: Arena of Fire
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Publisher Reply:
I wanted to thank peter for taking the time to do a review of our product. Steve Russell Rite Publishing
Castles & Crusades Where Cool Waters Run
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2010 12:15:09
Castles and Crusades - Where Cool Water Runs is a short stand-along encounter from Troll Lord Games for the Castles and Crusades gaming system. This encounter is suitable for 3 to 5 characters of levels 4 to 7, and sees the characters being hunted by several cunning and deadly creatures as the PCs inadvertently approach their nest. As one would expect, the encounter takes place in a single setting - in this instance a refreshing glade through which a gentle stream runs. The presentation of this product is top notch, sticking to the format maintained throughout all Troll Lord Games' products. My only quibble here is the lack of a scale on the map provided. This encounter can be used in any campaign setting, and very useful and interesting adaptations are included in the 6 page product for Troll Lord Games' own world of Aihrde.

The encounter is a fairly simple one but very well detailed to make sure that CKs will know exactly what to do with which creature and when. I thought the tactics of the creatures involved, a new creature called the charon fiend, were very good, suiting both the nature of the encounter and the details of the creatures themselves. Often the best encounters are those that use the terrain well, and some elements of that are present here. The tactics will give the PCs some thought, and make for an entertaining encounter where the PCs won't know where the threats are coming from. The charon fiends themselves are probably the best part of the product as a whole - I liked their flavor, their description and their mechanical details. I think these creatures can be both terrifying and dangerous at the same time, particularly if used with the tactics described in the encounter. One weakness of the encounter, and really with a lot of products of this nature, is that the encounter is by and large telegraphed. If the CK starts reading blocked text in a seemingly innocuous clearing, there's little doubt the PCs and the players will expect something. It would've been useful if the encounter had been scripted to not be so obvious, or at least given the characters a non-mundane reason for stopping in the clearing and hence triggering the encounter. Overall, though, a very clean and neat product with some uniqueness in the new creature involved and some decent encounter design.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Where Cool Waters Run
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Advanced Adventures #15: Stonesky Delve
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2010 13:27:14
Advanced Adventures 15 - Stonesky Delve is an OSRIC adventure of exploration, deep cave delving and unlocking ancient dwarven secrets. The adventure was run as a tournament adventure at GenCon Indy 2010, as presented in this format, although it can easily be run as a standard adventure without the need for tournament time-keeping or scoring. In this adventure the PCs are asked to explore a recently opened and uncovered region of the dwarven lands on the slopes of Stonesky Mountain, where they will need to spelunk down into dark, watery and dangerous caves to explore, navigate and map these parts of the dwarven religious lands. In the process, they naturally stumble on things not bargained for, as dwarven history comes to life in the deepest caverns. Stonesky Delve is suitable for 4th to 7th level characters.

The one thing that immediately impressed me with in this adventure was the level of detail and realism. The cavern exploration is done wonderfully well, with full three-dimensional details and realism in the sense that there are critters and monsters where they should be. The exploration is very detailed, and characters will get a real sense of wonder as they pass through the caves. The adventure structure and layout is very logical, with a lot of thought going into design and placement of each encounter area or cavern room. As the exploration continues, they characters uncover ancient and sacred locations within their exploration, and here I felt the exposition was a little weak despite the creative design and verisimilitude of the exploration remaining top notch throughout. While I can expect that an exploration of some caverns is just that, if some additional story elements are added, it would've been nice to seem them become tantamount to the exploration itself rather than just another part of it. In the same vein, while the exploration is required to take place over a few days, why not add a sense of haste to the overall adventure rather than the somewhat artificial adventure background requirement? Perhaps this is all an artifact of the tournament nature of the adventure - who can explore the furthest in the least amount of time. Nevertheless, this is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure that can be real fun, with good and exciting combat encounters, lots of atmosphere, and an adventure that can have equal amount of terror and excitement for the players and characters passing through it. Good product.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Adventures #15: Stonesky Delve
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The Monkey's Key - A Treasured Maps Adventure (PFRPG)
Publisher: Protagonist Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/30/2010 07:17:56
Everybody likes a good treasure map, and particularly the player characters in a GMs campaign. There can be a lot of excitement if they find one hidden in a secret compartment or as part of some long lost creature's treasure hoard. The Monkey's Key is the first adventure in a new series of 'Treasured Maps' adventures from Tabletop Armory, each adventure designed around a particular map and aimed at being a secondary or supplemental adventure to the main campaign, a side-trek if you will. This adventure sees the player characters navigate treacherous jungle terrain to find a sacred relic, the Green Monkey, in a lost tomb. The adventure is for the Pathfinder RPG and suitable for 5th level players characters.

The Monkey's Key is a fairly straightforward adventure, really. Characters discover the map (the means of this is left to the DM), prepare for the expedition (and meet some useful NPCs related to the map in the process, if they so choose), and set out to conquer the Monkey Totem and recover the blessed artefact. Over the course of the adventure they encounter fiendish creatures and cunning traps, with the odd roleplaying encounter strewn in. I wish there had been more opportunity for roleplaying - having a local jungle tribe and then not using them for something really interesting is a bit of a shame. The adventure caters well mechanically to the rules of getting lost in the jungle, and guidelines in following the map and the locations marked there-on. The maps and handouts provided are fairly rudimentary, as is the overall presentation, but everything required to run the adventure is in the product. I think this is a fair adventure - I think it could've been made more interesting than just a straightforward trek through the jungle and exploring the Monkey's totem. A few conundrums for the players, opposition, roleplaying opportunities and the like would've filled it out nicely. As is, it's fair, with some challenging encounters and a little bit of thinking to avoid some traps and cunning guardians, but average overall.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Monkey's Key - A Treasured Maps Adventure (PFRPG)
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Monster Menagerie: The Kingdom of Graves
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/29/2010 06:38:45
Mythic Menagerie - Kingdom of Graves is the second Mythic Menagerie monster book from Super Genius Games and OtherWorld Creations for the Pathfinder RPG. This product presents a small number of new creatures around the theme of undead, or more specifically undead that are in a position of power or influence. These creatures can be central to a campaign or if not used as undead creatures conspiring for domination, as new and interesting creatures to spring on unsuspecting player characters. The presentation standard is top quality, with some fabulous art - in fact, each creature is superbly illustrated, giving a vivid visual impression of the creatures to go with the written text. The creatures in this product (eight in total) range from CR 3 to CR 15, so are suitable to use in a variety of levels of play.

I really liked this product. While all the creature's aren't all that original in their bare statistics (e.g. a mummy aristocrat or vampire Fighter) the flavor text more than makes up for the lack mechanical ingenuity. The rot giant that can swallow a creature and then regurgitate it as a skeleton under its command is both creepy and clever, while the Masque Ghul is a formidable foe with flavors of Pirates of the Caribbean. The other creatures are equally useful and interesting - the flavor text strongly reinforces the theme of these being creatures that are meant to govern and conquer. I found that each creature description gave you plenty to work with as a GM, and the range of CRs means that this can appeal to all levels of play. This second instalment of Mythic Menagerie is a lovely product, with strong themes that are very well supported by good flavor and mostly strong and original mechanics. Coupled with top quality presentation, make this a worthy product to take a look at.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Menagerie: The Kingdom of Graves
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The Lazy GM: Undead and Other Fell Foes
Publisher: Creative Conclave
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/23/2010 07:18:19
The Lazy GM: Undead and Other Fell Foes is one of those products that makes a GMs life a lot easier. The product presents a bucket load of statistics blocks for numerous undead and other creatures, using class levels and monster advancement to generate an assortment of powerful foes of different abilities and challenge ratings (ranging from CR 1 to CR 24). Of the two dozen odd base creatures that are included in this product, hundreds of additional creatures are created in a variety of forms, shapes and sizes. The choice of class levels and advancement HD is well balanced against the creature's native CR, and make sense within the culture of the base creature. The majority of creatures in the product are undead, but numerous other foes are presented such as Howlers and Yeth Hounds.

This is an extremely useful product overall, crafting accurate statistics blocks that can add a huge amount of variety to any GMs game. With the product designed with the 3.5e OGL in mind, it might not be that compatible with the Pathfinder RPG without some modification, but players of the 3.5e OGL can do a lot with this product. Combined with all their other Lazy GM offerings, one never really has to create another stat block from scratch again. Creative Conclave have done it all for you, true to their product slogan of 'We Work, You Play!'. I have to admit though, that I wasn't as enthusiastic about this offering as I have been in the past about some of the other Lazy GM products. It's not that the work isn't spectacular, but rather that I felt it lacked the spark when churning out the statistics blocks. It looked more like an exercise rather than an attempt to also create unique and interesting creature combinations. I really liked the categorization of the creatures according to 'roles', another aspect of the product that makes it easy to use and pick the creature you want based on CR and purpose. Nice product, perhaps not the strongest offering in the Lazy GM series, but still superb value and usability.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Lazy GM: Undead and Other Fell Foes
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Inked Adventures: Modular Dungeon Cut-Up Sections Basic Pack
Publisher: Inked Adventures
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2010 06:43:21
Inked Adventures: Modular Dungeon Cut-Up Sections Basic Pack presents three dozen pages of good quality artwork for creating richly detailed 2D and pseudo-3D dungeons. The product includes all the basic tiles needed to construct elaborate dungeons, including stairs, doors, corridors, and rooms. The artwork consists of very good hand illustrated images, though the style may not be to everybody's liking as it can appear quite 'cartoony' with rich vibrant colours. The product includes ample advice on how to use and construct the various structures, as it blends 3D standing doors with more conventional 2D terrain tiles.

One of the great things about this set of terrain tiles is that it includes objects. I've longed for a decent set of terrain objects for quite some time, and here is finally a product that delivers. Now you can populate your dungeons with all manner of interesting features that don't have to be part of the tile itself. The objects include all the usual culprits of tables, chairs, barrels, bodies, chests and then some more. That's the feature of this product that makes it stand out from being just another 2D terrain tile set. On the slightly negative side, some of the larger room maps require you to cut other tiles to generate the required tile that you want. While this is not a major issue (since you're going to cut it out in any case), in a pdf I would've hoped to have seen that tile just reproduced rather than having to cut it from another tile. There aren't really issues with space in pdf. Overall, I think this is a splendid little find. I think the hand illustrated artwork is very good, the variety and versatility is excellent, and you can mix and match the objects to your heart's desire. Very useful product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Inked Adventures: Modular Dungeon Cut-Up Sections Basic Pack
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101 3rd Level Spells (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/19/2010 17:12:35
101 3rd Level Spells does exactly what it says on the tin, presenting 101 3rd level spells for the Pathfinder RPG. The spells cover all the available classes, with a rounded distribution of number amongst the core RPG classes and, for wizards and sorcerers, the schools of magic. Layered in between the many spells are a few scattered art pieces, although the cover artwork is by far the better piece, being a vivid image of a spellcaster using the Weapon of Nightmares spell. Rite Publishing have impressed me with their professional outlook on publishing, and this presentation is a serious document from a top notch publisher.

The spells, as one would really expect from a product with some many spells of the same level, are a bit of a mixed bag, but that's not something you can hold against the product. You're inevitably, amongst 101 spells, going to find some you don't like, whether for flavor or power or other reasons. Rest assured that the majority are very neatly crafted and designed, and there are a lot that combine good descriptions with good mechanics to create an enticing spell that even players spoilt for choice with spells will still think of selecting. It was good to see some of the spells break the traditional mould, and by that I mean going beyond being a 'clone' of an existing spell with just a subtle difference in damage, energy type, or spell data. It's too easy when creating such a vast library of spells to create 'filler' material in this way, and I'm pleased that the authors (both the Sorcerer Supreme and the Meddling Archmage are they're called in the product credits) have largely managed to avoid this.

I particularly liked the enchantment and illusion spells for wizards and sorcerers, Glossolalia being one of my favorites where you curse a person with random speech. The evocation spells are largely standard fare, although here spells like Object Grenade with no save or spell resistance bring visions to mind of parties hurling these damaging grenades all over their place as a result of the overly long duration of the spell. I also liked the additions to the paladin spell list, such as Disarmament, for disarming a group of enemies with the wave of a hand, and Intercession, for protecting allies and innocents. I though the flavor and mechanics there supported the compassionate side of the paladin class, rather than the holy warrior aspects. Overall, a solid product with plenty of creativity, the odd rotten tomato, but by and large nifty additions to any class' spell list.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
101 3rd Level Spells (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
I wanted to than Peter Ingram for taking the time to do a review of our product. "Rite Publishing have impressed me with their professional outlook on publishing, and this presentation is a serious document from a top notch publisher." Those are some very kind words, and I truly appreciate them. Steve Russell Rite Publishing
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