RPGNow.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse
 Publisher Info
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsLog in or create an account and you can choose to get email notices whenever your favorite publishers or topics get new items!









Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Gamescapes: Story Maps, Fantasy Set 1
Publisher: Savage Mojo
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/26/2008 04:46:11
Gamescapes: Story Maps - Fantasy Set 1 is a 80 page pdf product and the first set of fantasy story maps produced by Talisman Studios. This product features nearly 80 1" scale, full-colour dungeon tiles filled with all sorts of magical and supernatural terrain as the set's title 'Mystic Dungeon' suggests. The product comes as a large pdf file, and barring the covers with brief credits, contains only high quality mystical dungeon tiles to create a magical 2D dungeon layout.

There are quite a number of companies that do 2D terrain tiles these days, and more seem to be heading in that direction as time goes by. I've seen quite a few new publishers to this area, which is always a good thing as it provides the customer with a larger variety of tiles to choose from. Talisman Studios' offering of Fantasy Story Maps is one of the more unusual ones, in a good way. It offers a vast amount of different tiles, and probably a selection of tiles that you won't likely find anywhere else. This particular set, Mystic Dungeon, has tiles filled with various magical effects and other mystical features that I've rarely seen in other products. For that Talisman Studios are to be commended.

As such these tiles allow one's imagination to run wild. While some of the tiles are quite confusing and often appear somewhat psychedelic, the majority contain elements that spark the imagination and put a little bit of magic back in the dungeon. It's the supernatural tiles that really make this set, but it also includes several variations on standard wall tiles and various other standard room configurations. But if you wanted a dungeon filled with random and wild magic, the bizarre and the supernatural rather than another series of kobolds and orcs in four-walled rooms, this set of story maps has plenty to offer.

I wish, though, that there had been even a one line or one word description of each tile, as it would help clarify some of the more bizarre tiles and make what they're depicting a little clearer. The images are generally quite dark, so it's hard sometimes to see the detail, or see how the tile is meant to be implemented. For all its wonderful magical tiles and imagination running wild, there's an element of non-user-friendliness to this set. I'm sure that's not the case, but it looks like some of the tiles may have been thrown together to create a bizarre looking tile without thinking what the customer would make of it.

Overall, though, I found this a stimulating product with some good, unusual, interesting and inspiring tiles. This set puts the magic back into the dungeon, and creates an environment that will terrify players and spark the imagination. Here and there the tiles can be confusing as it's not always easy to be certain how a tiles should be used. The sheer volume of tiles, and the balance between standard tiles and mystical tiles, though, makes this a good product that can be used for a wide variety of 2D dungeon tile needs. A good set of tiles from Talisman Studios.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gamescapes: Story Maps, Fantasy Set 1
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Sidetrek Adventure Weekly 2: The Undead Chronicles – #1 The Blood Rush
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/25/2008 07:28:46
Sidetrek Adventure Weekly 2 has finally arrived and it's learnt some lessons from the first series of 12 adventures that formed part of Sidetrek Adventure Weekly 1. This second series of SAW features the town of Merzel's fall, and sinister undead creatures that plague the town. I was generally impressed with the first series, but had a few reservations about the format and how things were strung together. This second series seems to tie things together a whole lot better, allowing more leeway in running the series as a complete adventure rather than as the individual scenarios. The presence of both a Player's Guide and a Gamemaster's Guide to this series goes a long way in accomplishing just that. The individual scenarios, judging by this first offering The Blood Rush, still feature high octane, fast-paced action.

Sidetrek Adventure Weekly 2: The Undead Chronicles #1 - The Blood Rush starts off the new SAW series with a action packed battle as the dead come to life in a gold panner's stream. The PCs are systematically drawn into the action, eventually culminating in them arriving in Merzel's Fall where even more sinister foes and events await. This 20 page scenario forms parts of the larger series, and can be played as a stand-alone scenario, or as part of the larger adventure. I think, having read this offering, that it's likely better played as part of the overall adventure, mainly due to the 'cliff-hanger' type ending to the adventure. Nevertheless, the product offers plenty of advice on using the scenario for both these situations.

The Blood Rush is for characters of 5th level, a fact you really only learn once you hit page 12. Why this information is not readily available on the product cover is beyond me. Most DMs pick up adventure by looking first at the adventure level to see if it's suitable. Why bury it at the back of the pdf? Admittedly, the very useful rating system on the front cover tells you a lot about what the adventure is suitable for, but a level of 'Medium' doesn't really equate to much. Presentations-wise this product is very well done. Good cover, good rating system to give information on the product, good writing and editing. In addition, the product provides a whole host of other additional useful things, such as monster initiative cards, monster counters, a character sheet and a useful 'Notes' bar at the side of each page to add DM comments or statistics.

The adventure itself is well structured and organised. There are one or two areas that are somewhat contrived, but for the most part the action is smooth and runs quickly and easily. One of my initial concerns on an undead focused campaign is that any cleric focused on undead would breeze through this adventure. Thankfully this so far doesn't seem to be the case. While there are undead about, there are more encounters featuring other creatures that don't make it feel like this is the cleric player's adventure and chance to shine. The foes the PCs encounter at Merzel's Fall are cleverly done with good additional flavor that ties in nicely with the theme of the overall adventure. Much of what's written in the Player's Guide and Gamemaster's Guide haven't come to the fore yet, but I'm assuming this information will be useful as the adventure progresses.

The Blood Rush is a good start to this 6 scenario adventure. It's an interesting start to the adventure, is good at drawing the PCs into the action, and maintains a steady pace with good combat and roleplaying opportunity throughout the scenario. In many ways this is a better start to the series than for the first SAW, and it looks like the adventure is going to improve over the next few scenarios. I'm looking forward to seeing them, and what SAW 2 can deliver. So far it's off to a fun, exciting, and interesting start.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sidetrek Adventure Weekly 2: The Undead Chronicles – #1 The Blood Rush
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Blackdyrge's Templates: Deep Spawn
Publisher: Blackdirge Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2008 11:54:24
I'll freely admit that I'm a big fan of templates. And monsters in general too. But templates are great as they allow you to take something familiar and turn it into something that your players won't expect. Templates are by far one of the best things about the revised d20 core rules. In fact, many of the best books published for the d20 system are books about templates. Templates allow you to take something generic, and turn it into something specific. Blackdyrge's Templates is a great series of products from Blackdirge Publishing, featuring a brand new template and some sample creatures using the template from the mind of author Aeryn Rundel. This offering, the Deep Spawn template, features a horror of the depths of the oceans, an aquatic creature of nightmares.

The product comes as a single, high quality pdf file. The presentation is excellent, with some fantastic art from Hunter McFalls, and some very good descriptive writing from the author. Like other products from Blackdirge Publishing, this product includes the campaign construction system, which is a system that allows one to utilize the material in the pdf to create a campaign binder or folder. Information such as author, type of material, etc. is printed clearly on each page so that when placed in a binder it can be easily found and identified. Blackdyrge's Templates: Deep Spawn is a very professionally presented product that ticks all the boxes as far as presentation goes.

The Deep Spawn is an aquatic horror from the depths of the ocean. As such it's a template that can be applied to any creature with the aquatic subtype, although Deep Spawn are also amphibious and hence can go on land. The Deep Spawn's signature abilities include its great maw that can swallow creatures whole, and the bioluminescent patches on its skin that can duplicate various spell effects. As such it ties in with the concept of the 'lure of the deep' or the general concept of 'enchanted by the oceans'. The template is solid from a mechanical point of view, as are the sample creatures, a Deep Spawn hag and a Deep Spawn sea cat. The flavor and descriptive text is very good, both the introduction from Blackdirge on the Deep Spawn, and the descriptive text of the sample creatures and the template.

Despite resting on solid mechanical ground and having good descriptive flavor, I felt that the template was disappointing in that there was nothing unique or new about it. The mechanics was really just a bunch of stuff from other creatures mixed together to create the template and I'd hoped that something new would come out that would be more closely related to the flavor text. The mechanics just lacked imagination - there's the familiar improved grab, the familiar swallow whole, the familiar fast healing, etc. and even the new bioluminescence ability just used familiar spell effects. Where's the novelty in the mechanics? Has this version of the d20 game depleted everything that makes creatures unique? It's great to come up with good concepts, even if they are somewhat familiar, but then to not support it by great new and novel mechanics just makes the template provided uninteresting.

Like all of Blackdirge Publishing's products, this is very well presented, with solid mechanics and great descriptive text. But there's nothing that's really new. It feels like old mechanics jumbled together to make a new template, rather than designing new mechanics to create a novel and interesting template or new creature. I think the pdf lacked a little uniqueness in the mechanics and could've done something a little more interesting. That aside, it's still a useful and solid product, although not something that inspired me to use it immediatly.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Blackdyrge's Templates: Deep Spawn
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Figure Flats Set 1 - Male Fantasy
Publisher: Infinite Dreamers
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2008 08:30:38
Figure Flats Set 1 - Male Fantasy is 40 page pdf product that presents 36 different male fantasy hero paper miniatures. This product is the first set of paper miniatures from Infinite Dreamers, with the second already on release and featuring female fantasy figures. The products in this series include both the paper miniatures, as well as full page images of the same figures.

This product comes as a single pdf file. The paper miniatures themselves take up 3 pages, while the full page artwork of each miniature takes up the remainder of the product. The product comes with a good cover showcasing the paper miniatures and their art. The images themselves are suitable to the A-frame format of folding miniatures, and are created from computer generated images. Image resolution is very good, meaning that these will print out nicely and with high quality on paper. Bookmarks are provided to each image, and only here is there a mention of what each paper miniature is supposed to represent. No indication is given in the actual pdf body, which is a good thing in a way as it means you can use the miniature for another purpose of character race or class.

This product presents 36 fantasy male paper miniatures, and covers a wide variety of typical fantasy types of class and race, for example, barbarians, clerics, dwarves, elves, monks, rangers, rogues, wizards, knights and several others. These provide a good variety of useful figures and many of the figures can be used for a multitude of other race/class combinations. The majority of the figures are human, with only a handful or so of elves and dwarves. Some of the figures are rather odd such as the monk looking more like something out of a rice paddy, while the one wizard appears to be a half-naked pharaoh. These are the only ones that won't necessarily fit the typical fantasy world, and most of the will readily fit into a high or low fantasy world where your typical heroes and races reside.

I was impressed by the quality of the computer generated images, and in the resolution of the artwork. Infinite Dreamers have done well to provide high quality figures, and good attention to details and good use of armor, clothing and equipment to enhance the look and feel of the character. Most images have something exciting going on in them, or something that grabs your attention, meaning that the figures aren't bland. It's a very traditional style of computer art that's used, but the figures look good despite not going outside the box to create a new fantasy style. In this was the figures can appeal to the majority of gamers and campaigns out there. Some of the figures, such as the dwarven warriors, all share the same facial features, with different armor and weapons. This is generally not a big deal, but can be if you want a higher degree of dissimilarity in your dwarven army.

Overall this is a very nice product. Not only does it provide a good variety of paper miniatures, but also provides full size artwork for each that can be used in a variety of ways over the game table. Most of the figures are good with good detail, although there are a few that are rather weird or bland, and others that could've used different facial features. With 36 figures you can generally cover all the bases, and have enough left over to provide for NPCs and other characters. The set only caters for traditional fantasy tropes in the traditional fantasy style as well, meaning that it will appeal to most gamers but doesn't really go outside the box. Generally a very nice product and good value for money.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Figure Flats Set 1 - Male Fantasy
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Blood of Freeport
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2008 09:25:17
Freeport is one of the great settings for d20/OGL, and its swashbuckling, pirate nature appeals to many who like intrigue, fast-paced action, betrayal, high-seas, and all things pirate. Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean have done a lot to encourage the swashbuckling pirate RPG games and the Freeport setting, and Freeport as a setting has grown through the years to accommodate the appeal. In fact, I'd not really hesitate to call Freeport the quintessential pirate setting for d20/OGL, as it's been included in quite a number of other different worlds from other publishers. And Freeport is certainly not called the City of Adventure for nothing.

Blood of Freeport is the latest adventure from Adamant Entertainment in support of Green Ronin's Freeport setting. Written by Justin S. Bow, it's an event driven adventure for characters of 6th to 8th level and takes place entirely in Freeport. As such, the running of this adventure largely requires the Freeport setting material. The adventure sees the characters drawn into an adventure of love and betrayal where they get involved in the rivalry between two merchant families. This adventures is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.

Blood in Freeport is a 28 page event-based adventure. The product is well designed and laid out, with some good art and a lovely cover from A. Nemo. The writing is immersive, and the editing and mechanics generally good. There are no maps in the product at all, again highlighting the fact that the setting material for Freeport is required to run the adventure properly. It's possible to run this adventure in another setting or city similar to Freeport if the latter doesn't fit your campaign setting very well. All stat blocks are provided towards the end of the pdf, although I wish they'd detailed the personalities and backgrounds of important NPCs a little more to define them a little better than just providing a mechanical stat block. Overall, a well presented pdf.

This adventure sees the PCs get involved in the rivalry between two large and powerful merchant families in Freeport. The nature of their involvement is left largely to the PCs, which means that the course of the adventure is determined by how the PCs view the feud and what they believe they need to do about it, if anything. This implies that the actions of the PCs actually matter, and that the events of the adventure are not something beyond their control, but can be shaped or changed by their actions. This kind of dynamic approach in adventure writing makes for a fun and exciting adventuring. The PCs will have plenty of opportunity for both combat and roleplaying, and indeed over the course of the adventure and several in-game days, there will be amply opportunity to delve into the mysteries of the adventure. The combat encounters are challenging, largely because so many days lapse between events.

That said, spanning the adventure over so many days can make parts of it dull and boring, so it might be difficult to get the adventure flowing along at the right pace between events separated by days. The action events themselves are structured in that they eventually all lead up to a climatic ending, increasing the tension and the rivalry between the two families as time progresses. This creates a good amount of in-game tension, atmosphere, and indeed is likely to affect the entire city of Freeport. I quite like the idea that the entire city is watching events closely, and that the actions of the PCs will most likely be noted by other powerful families or Captains within Freeport. There is a sense that actions have consequence throughout the adventure, and that will keep the PCs on their toes.

The adventure is equally well suited to running as a one-off or as part of a larger campaign story. In fact if the build-up to the rivalry needs to be increased, it can be done through an entire campaign before this adventure is reached. This might make the families and people involved more meaningful to the PCs. As it is, I felt there wasn't enough information in the adventure to detail the NPCs, the merchant families, the histories of the families, etc. More depth in these areas would've gone a long way to making these NPCs come alive a little more and provide more richness to the adventure.

Those that wish to delve into the secret histories of powerful merchant families, get involve in spy activities in the pirate city, or merely enjoy the subterfuge and intrigue will find this adventure to their liking. I think DMs will need to do a little extra work to make this adventure flow together nicely so that it doesn't feel like the PCs are just hopping from one event to the other. It's a good adventure, though, and a refreshing break from dungeon crawling and combat intensive games that are quite frequent in the d20 market. It has something for every player and every character, a good background and story, and a few unexpected surprises. Good art, good writing, exciting scenes, lots of intrigue and politics, and overall a fun adventure.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Blood of Freeport
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

0one's Colorprints #7: Dwarven Excavation
Publisher: 0one Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/30/2008 10:53:33
0One's Colorprints: Dwarven Excavation is the 7th product in the Colorprints series, and presents a set of detailed, fantasy, color maps of a dwarven excavation or underground mining complex. The Colorprints series aims to provide customizable, detailed, classic fantasy locations that you can use to build an adventure or as the basis for a brief sidetrek. Dwarven Excavation features an underground complex consisting of a variety of different mining locations, and the four detailed maps provided can be joined together in a number of different configurations to form a larger complex. This product requires the use of Acrobat Reader 6+ to fully take advantage of the pdf technology features incorporated into the product.

This 17 page product comes as a single pdf file, containing all the maps and associated pdf features. There is a brief introduction to the product, including useful details on the nature of various features of the maps, such as the mining camp and military outpost. The maps are provided with a full legend on a separate page, and a brief guide to using the various pdf features is also presented. The latter is one of the strong points of this series of maps, in that it allows you to customize the map exactly the way you want to. The utility of this is not to be underestimated, as it allows you to create player maps, GM maps, overview maps, and a number of other configurations. I wish publishers that write and sell adventures would incorporate these features into their adventure maps, as it would make these immensely more useful.

The product contains four maps, as well as black-and white (greyscale) copies of each of these maps. In addition, there are some handy reference sheets that you can use to add details to the various areas of the map, and create the underground complex that you desire. The maps and the detail are excellent, and when combined with the ability to customize the look and detail of the map, makes this a great product. The customization allows you to remove room numbers, furniture, background details and other useful features. As mentioned before, the maps can be assembled to form a larger map. The pdf itself doesn't illustrate this, but it's easy to figure out how to assemble them. There are a number of different configurations, particularly if you repeat certain tunnelled areas.

The maps themselves are very well designed, both in the artwork and the layout of the various areas of the map. Very often fantasy maps that you see don't make sense, but these maps capture a form of realism that works well. There's ample sleeping room, for example, with single communal areas, and a small number of utility locations. Of course, there are unexplored areas filled with monsters and other surprises, making this both and adventure location and a useful camp or resting place with lots of opportunity for roleplaying and adventure.

Generally I was very pleased with this product. It provides a great adventure location, very detailed and useful maps, fair background details to get your started, and excellent utility in customising the maps. And excellent value too! The maps have good resolution for printing, and look good when laminated as well. 0One has impressed me with the way in which they created these maps, and the way in which they use the features of pdf technology add a lot to the quality and value of their products. Great product and an excellent series! 0One know their maps!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
0one's Colorprints #7: Dwarven Excavation
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Sidetrek Adventure Weekly 2: The Undead Chronicles Player’s Guide
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/18/2008 09:20:55
I've thoroughly enjoyed the first scenario series of Sidetrek Adventure Weekly, and have to admit that I was pleased to see this second series of scenarios coming so soon on the heels of the first. The second series is titled 'The Undead Chronicles' and this product serves as a player's guide to that series, giving prospective players a brief introduction to the series, NPCs, towns and environment in which the various scenarios and adventures will take place.

This player's guide is identical to the one found in the Sidetrek Adventure Weekly 2 Subscription, so it's not required to purchase if you're picking up the product subscription. As the title of the product suggest, Sidetrek Adventure Weekly will feature undead, although it hasn't been specified what level of play this scenario series will be for. Judging by what I've seen so far, it's likely to be in the mid-level range of 4-6, and I'm also assuming that this will be written for the d20 OGL revised rules.

The Undead Chronicles Player's Guide is a 21 page pdf product that aims to provide players of the second Sidetrek Adventure Weekly series with options and details for them to create interesting characters for the series. The product looks great, with some excellent art on the cover and throughout the pdf, and the production standard and quality of presentation and writing is high. The product includes a full set of bookmarks, lovely maps (with and without legend) for the town of Merzel's Fall, and contains a good amount of detail to get you started in creating that undead battling concept for the Sidetrek Adventure Weekly series. I've always been pleased with LPJ Design's presentation and in particular the artwork, and this product does not fail to disappoint. They've created a unique presentation style which means that you can open a pdf and know that it's from LPJ Design just by looking at the presentation.

This adventure is set to take place in and around the small prospecting town of Merzel's' fall. The Player's Guide provides a brief introduction to the history of Merzel's fall, and includes a detailed map with overview of all the important locations within the area. I found the information useful, and it sparked a few ideas for concepts for characters that can take part in this adventure. I suppose one can always ask for more information, but given that characters are likely not going to be familiar with the little town at the start of the 6 scenario adventure, the amount of information is fair.

The second half of the pdf details a bunch of new mechanical elements for the adventure, including a new prestige class (Hunter of Ghedet), several new feats, new spells, a new clerical domain, and a new undead-loathing god. Apart from the goofy names for the feats (although I suspect some horror fans might like them), most of the mechanics is fairly decent. I guess my only concern with all this material is that it is geared towards undead. What I mean by that is that players will inevitably build their character to be geared at destroying undead, which will most likely mean that the undead will not stand a chance, or will have to be tougher than normal for the given challenge level. No doubt there will be undead slaying Hunters of Ghedet around that could spit and kill undead, and likewise a fair amount of clerics with Improved Turning, Sun Domain and other undead-busting abilities. I realise this is probably not the intent of the product (or maybe it is), but it's possible that the focus on undead for the player builds might make the rest of the scenario too easy. I hope I'm not correct.

In addition to the overview of Merzel's fall and the variety of undead related mechanics, the product also includes a full character sheet (7 full pages), some initiative cards to smooth things along during combat, and some counters for the Hunter of Ghedet prestige class. The character sheet is good, although to nitpick it does refer to spells as being memorized rather than prepared. A range descriptor in the spell section would've also been more useful than the Area descriptor. Other than that, the character sheet is as complete as you could need it.

It's naturally very hard to judge the scenarios of the second SAW by the contents of the player's guide. The player's guide, though, does a decent job of introducing characters to the environment of the adventure, and provides them with numerous mechanical options in feats, prestige classes and spells, that will naturally make them more effective against undead creatures. How well this undead focus will work for player characters remains to be seen when running the adventure. Overall, I liked what I saw in the player's guide. It gave a good feel for the scenario, and while zombies might not be for everyone, from what I've read I think this one will be different. Good player's guide, and I'm looking forward to seeing the first scenario!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sidetrek Adventure Weekly 2: The Undead Chronicles Player’s Guide
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Shamanistic Warrior
Publisher: Paragon Publishing
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2008 04:01:04
Shamanistic Warrior is a new d20 product from new publisher, Paragon Publishing, and one of several simultaneous releases of products for their Warriors of the Wild product line. This product line is designed to offer players and DMs a variety of classes and prestige classes constructed from animal, natural or tribal themes. Releases for this line so far include Child of the Bear, Wolfpack Hunter, Owl Prowler, Adaptive Hunter, the free product Juggernaut, and several others. Shamanistic Warrior features a core tactical combat class that relies on animal powers and links to nature spirits to overcome foes.

Shamanistic Warrior comes as a single 10 page pdf file, of which 6 pages are devoted to the content, and 4 pages to the covers, credits and OGL pages. The overall presentation and design of the pdf is very good, with some great custom art by Karim Idrissi, and a professional layout and design that's great to see from a new publisher. The writing is clear, presenting a well-constructed class, both in terms of concept and mechanics, that captures the flavor of a wild, animalistic warrior that relies on the powers of the animal spirits. I'm pleased with the presentation and overall look of the pdf, which is shares with other products in the series, and the production quality is very good.

The Shamanistic warrior relies on his wilderness abilities and the powers of animal spirits to enhance him in combat or in other scenarios. The key ability of this class allows the warrior to infuse himself with a totem power, granting him the ability of a specific animal. For example, a shamanistic warrior can draw on the alligator spirit to enhance his initiative, or on the crocodile to enhance his natural armor. Other animals such as the rabbit increase Reflex saves, while the scorpion gives a bonus to damage rolls. As a shamanistic warrior advances in level, the power of these abilities increases, and the bonuses granted consequently get bigger. In addition, the shamanistic warrior has knowledge of more totem powers of which there are dozens to choose from. In addition to this key ability, the shamanistic warrior also gets a number of abilities related to the wilderness, such as trackless step and hide in plain sight. Overall, a versatile warrior class.

On first look this class looks quite neat and elegant. It's written with good flavor and solid mechanics, and offers quite a lot of tactical options in combat with the various totem powers that the class gains. On second look, though, it appears to be a variant druid with a handful of abilities added from the ranger and barbarian classes. Despite the fact that by it's core it appears to be an amalgamation of standard core classes, it achieves a harmony between these classes in the shamanistic warrior that I think would be difficult to achieve otherwise. It does easily with this class that cannot be as elegantly done using a combination of other classes, though it fills the same niche as many wild warrior concepts. In that sense, this is a good class that's easy to play, looks fun to play, and appears mechanically balanced. The useful design notes that accompany the class indicate that the class was designed as a tactical fighter, and I think it succeeds very well at that.

The pdf includes two new NPCs that highlight the strengths of the class and illustrate how the class can be implemented. These are just stat blocks without any background information, but nevertheless still useful. There are one or two mechanics errors here (the saves are wonky, for example), but otherwise they look good, and illustrate well the class in action.

Having thoroughly looked at this class I'm quite pleased with it. The concept of the wild and savage warrior tied to the animal spirits is not necessarily new, and even some parts of the implementation are just hacked from other classes, but I think the end result is a somewhat unique, balance class in both flavor and mechanics. There's a good harmony between the class' flavor and mechanics, and the mechanics flows neatly throughout the 20 level progression of the class. The bottom line is this class allows you to play a animalistic warrior without the need for multiple classes or prestige classes, and looks like a lot of fun. I would certainly want to play one at some time. Good class, good presentation, and overall good quality pdf.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shamanistic Warrior
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Heroic Moments #2: Unregistered Mutant
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/11/2008 05:51:40
Heroic Moments 2: Unregistered Mutant is the second product in Highmoon Media Productions' Heroic Moments series. This series of products is designed for the free 4C System (from Seraphim Guard), a superhero system that uses a easy and streamlined task resolution system based on the d100. Each Heroic Moment is a single scenario that can be inserted easily into any superhero campaign with minimal preparation required. This Heroic Moment sees the heroes deal with an unregistered mutant, a superhero that can be either friend or foe, and the powered-armored group of genetic purists that aim to capture him.

The products in this series share a unified presentation format, and in all cases it's very good. The product makes great use of blocked text, sidebars and other features to highlight important details, and streamline the use of the material when gaming. The scenario itself only has 3 pages of text, with 2 further pages of text provided for various new items, powers and stat blocks. The writing and the editing is good, and I liked the new mechanics and concepts introduced to expand the core 4C system.

The scenario takes place in a crowded Farmer's Market, where the heroes are unexpectedly thrown into a sequence of events involving a potentially dangerous mutant superhero, and a group of high powered people attempting to catch him. The product provides a detailed and exact description of the scenario, which makes it really easy to run and handle. Numerous hooks are provided to get the PCs to the market, although one of them requires some small changes to one's campaign with regard to mutants and mutant registration. This is a prevalent thought throughout the scenario, though it is fairly easy to circumvent if required.

I liked the way the scenario was handled, as well as the new powers and equipment of those involved. This means that the superheroes will face the unexpected. Depending on how the scenario plays out, there can be quite a few different outcomes, and the pdf also provides a number of useful ways in which to mix up the encounter, making it more interesting or generally complicating matters for the PCs. This makes the scenario quite varied, and one that players will very likely enjoy.

The product also provides a number of useful new rules and additions to the 4C system. There are two new powers, digging and poison touch, and there's new equipment in the form of combat gear and a special gun. Most of the new material is used in the scenario, although the digging power is not, making it a rather unrelated addition. There's also a very useful new rule, The Unexpected Event, which allows characters to change their powers. While this is not something that should be overly used, it's a neat plot device tied to a good mechanic.

This is a good little pdf and scenario. The scenario provides exciting options, is varied, and the outcome is not fixed. All these things combine to create something fun. Some of the overarching assumptions of the scenario (for example, there being registered and unregistered mutants) affect the campaign as a whole and might not fit a specific game, but those are relatively easily circumvented. Good use of additional material and powers, streamlined layout for easy use, and some good new mechanics. A good pdf, and at the price worth looking at if you want a fun new scenario for your superhero game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroic Moments #2: Unregistered Mutant
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review, Peter. I just wanted to make one quick clarification, 4C System is not from Seraphim Guard perse. It was written and designed by Phil Reed and Michael Hammes. Seraphim does distribute the core game here at RPGnow/DriveThruRPG.
Cartophile No. 4
Publisher: SkeletonKey Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/31/2008 10:43:59
Cartophile No. 4 is the latest product of 2D Building/Terrain Tiles from Ed Bourelle and the crew at SkeletonKey Games. Most gamers that regularly buy pdfs know of SkeletonKey Games and the quality gaming aids and terrain tiles that they produce. This product is part of the relatively new Cartophile series, where each product presents a unique miniature-scale set of terrain tiles that cannot be easily built using conventional e-Adventure Tiles. This fourth product contains a large ziggurat in an open wilderness area, possibly even a clearing in a jungle or forest, and can form the basis for a ruin that the adventurers can explore. The Cartophile series is compatible with other tiles in the e-Adventure Tiles series.

Cartophile No. 4 contains 8 tiles that form the ziggurat - 5 are used to form the actual building, while the remaining 3 allow you to customize the ziggurat with a few extra features and add-ins, such as added plants and vines or a plain platform or sacrificial circle at the top of the ziggurat rather than a shaft. The product also includes a number of other useful features, including a small map showing how the tiles in the product fit together, a one page summary of all the tiles, and a miniature map that uses the tiles and a number of tiles drawn from e-Adventure Tiles: Deciduous Wilderness. The summary page gives you a great overview of the various tiles in the product, and how to assemble them, while the miniature map provides you with a ready-to-go map for that ziggurat encounter. All the tiles in this product at 6x9 squares, with each square being equivalent to a 1-inch scale.

The artwork of the tiles is fantastic, with good use of colour and good detail on the various part of the product. Vines and other plant crawling up the sides of the ziggurat give it some additional definition, while the entrance to the ziggurat via a shaft is littered with small bones from animal, beast, or creature. I love the attention to detail in this (and indeed all SkeletonKey Games' products) product as it gives the scene more depth. The various tiles are easy to print, and not terribly ink consuming.

The tiles in this product are not modular like the e-Adventure Tiles product, and can only create a very small number of scenes, meaning reduced versatility compared to an e-Adventure Tiles product. However, they allow one to create a novel and unique scene, and something that is more specific than the e-Adventure Tiles. In a way, these are almost add-ons to the E-Adventure Tiles, allowing you to create unique and novel features that you wouldn't otherwise be able to, at good value for money. Nevertheless, using the five tile pattern does make it difficult to extend the scene, whereas perhaps a slighlty different arrangement of tiles (and the addition of a universal ziggurat edge) would've made it possible to increase the size of the ziggurat.

Cartophile No. 4 is another top notch product from SkeletonKey Games. It's got fantastic art in the tiles and the details on the tiles, and good utility in building something unique for your game world. While not as versatile as your typical e-Adventure Tile set, it nevertheless fills an important niche in the 2D Building/Terrain market, and it's great to see novel and unique buildings and features appear through SkeletonKey Games.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cartophile No. 4
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Background Noise
Publisher: Second Rat Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/28/2008 11:40:37
Despite what many people think about different RPG games, RPGs are by their very nature all about roleplaying not roll-playing. By extension, this involves a character or characters of some sort, each with their own histories, backgrounds, personalities, motivations, and general character quirks. Background Noise, a new product from Second Rat Games, helps one with exactly those mentioned aspects of creating a character. It allows one, through a multitude of tables, to generate a fully detailed, fleshed out and most importantly flavorful character. Background Noise contains more tables than most people would need, and certainly quite a few that many wouldn't even think of. While some players of RPG games might not want this kind of rigid structure, it's a marvellous source of inspiration for extending character concepts that players have envisaged.

This 34 page pdf product comes as a single pdf file. The product contains both a table of contents, and an extensive list of bookmarks, allowing you to easily navigate through the pdf. The bookmarks are doubly useful as they actually link to specific tables, which makes it easier to find what you want. Layout and editing is good, with the addition of some wonderful stock art from the talented people at Cerberus Games. The majority of the pdf contains over 40 different tables to use when creating a character, and good advice is provided on both using the tables, and what each table is for. As is almost natural for most products on the market these days, there are one or two minor writing/editing blips, but nothing that's needs specifically pointing out. Presentation is overall very good, with an easy to use product, good and liberal use of art, and good writing in the tables.

This product is all about breathing life into your character, fleshing out his or her personality or background, and generally making them more flavorful as an individual and a person (or creature, as there's no reason this can't be used for something like that, albeit it might require some modification here and there). The large variety of tables include details such as family status, birthplace, childhood events, personality, hobbies, good or bad events in a character's life, pets a character may have had, love events of the past or present, curses, crimes, disfigurements, etc. There is literally something for most areas or aspects of a character's life that you can think of. And most of the writing detailing, for example, a childhood event, shows some imagination and is generally a good fit for a typical individual. The product should be useable for any genre, although it feels like it's more geared towards fantasy, rather than modern or space.

I found this a useful, and often thought-provoking pdf. It does exactly what it says on the cover, and does so well. The product doesn't help to create concepts per se, but it does help to flesh out a character once you've decided on a specific concept, and it's possible that the process of working through the tables of this product will inspire a specific interesting concept. You could argue against the utility of the product, as other useful resources exist to determine a character's background, but having all the right information in a single place is a good utility. I think the areas covered by the product are covered well, although here and there a little more imagination, or perhaps an additional table or two would've enhanced the product. Overall, extremely useful, well presented, shows good imagination, and decent value.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Background Noise
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

ERS Character Cards: Tavern Folk 2
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2008 09:52:06
ERS Character Cards: Tavern Folk 2 is the second product in the Character Cards series of products from Small Niche Games/Empty Room Studios. Originally this series was called SNG's Character Cards, but the name has changed due to the recent merger between Small Niche Games (SNG) and Empty Room Studios (ERS). Each product in the series provides a detailed set of color character cards/portraits for use with NPCs or PCs during gaming sessions, and includes brief descriptions of the various characters for those that don't just want to use the character portraits themselves. The products in this series all form part of a larger bundle of 54 character cards, some of which are yet to be released.

This 9 page pdf product includes 16 character cards or portraits as visual aids for use in any campaign setting and, like the first product in the series, this product also features tavern folk or those people typically found in taverns. The product includes a cover showing some of the fine art of the character cards, 7 pages containing various combinations of the character cards (blank or with descriptions), and an advertisement page. The character cards are designed to fit 8 to a page, a very useful number, and are full-color images.

The character card visual aids in this product come in two forms - blank and with descriptions. The former does not include the name of the character on the front of the card beneath the image, nor does it contain a brief description of the character in question on the back of the card. Both these are left blank, allowing DMs that print them out to fill in their own details. Here it would've been useful if the pdf had been form-fillable, allowing you to type the details in rather than have to pen them down with a hasty scrawl.

The second version of the cards includes a character name on the front, and on the back a description detailing information on the NPC in the following categories: personality traits, sayings or quotes, background/description and lastly a plot hook to involve the character. I found these to be concise and useful, allowing you to have the knowledge you want at your finger tips. The details are interesting, and in some ways the characters are related, and the plot hooks should provide you with some inspiration for further adventures or side treks. While the pdf focuses on tavern folk for fantasy settings, the images themselves can probably used for a wider range of people or genres, as some of the art pictures aren't necessarily tied to tavern folk only.

The artwork used for the portraits is very good, and the personalities on the back reflect aspects of the appearance of the characters. If a particular individual in a portrait looks shifty, it's likely the character themselves are. I like the way this plays on first impressions, though it may be giving away too much to the PCs that encounter them. Overall, though, I was pleased with this product. Great art, useful descriptions, including motivations, background and personality, and utility in the product allowing you to use the portraits as blank cards as well. A good resource for those wishing to add some props or visual aids to enhance their games.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ERS Character Cards: Tavern Folk 2
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Heroic Moments #1: My Favorite Charity
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2008 08:53:42
Heroic Moments: My Favorite Charity is a short scenario for the 4C or 4 Color system. The 4 Color system is a simple superhero game system very reminiscent of older RPG games and game systems, and the core rules for the system are freely available to download from the publisher, Seraphim Guard. The 4C resolution system is based on the d100, the result of any given roll being used to assign a specific outcome color to the roll (via a Master Table). For example, an outcome color of red is a minor success, and black is a failed attempt. Based on the color of the attempt roll, a specific outcome is achieved for each action. The higher a character has a rank value in a particular ability or for a particular task, the easier it is to succeed at it. This system, while tied to a table, allows easy, adaptable, flexible, and straightforward resolution of most tasks or actions.

My Favorite Charity is a short 4C scenario set in The City, a generic city full of superheroes and supervillains. This 5 page pdf product can be dropped seamlessly into any superhero 4C campaign, with minimal preparation time. The product comes as a very well presented pdf file written by Mark Gedak. The format and layout is easy to follow and essential information is clearly indicated. The editing missed a few issues, and some the text reads a little halting, but for the most part I was pleased with the presentation and general production of the pdf.

This scenario features a revengeful mastermind, Dr. Nightmare, and his involvement in a movie-production charity event that draws his attention. The scenario involves a battle between Dr. Nightmare and his minions, although with hostages abounding, and Dr. Nightmare's unique powers, things aren't as simple as they seem. The pdf provides full details of Dr. Nightmare and his minions, including background, personalities and motivations. Two new powers are also provided for Dr. Nightmare, with which to torment the characters and make their super lives difficult. The various NPCs involved in the charity event also get detailed write-ups, and the adventure scenario makes the flow of the action easy to adjudicate and handle.

The scenario does feel a little incomplete, though, simply because some of Dr. Nightmare's plans as revealed in the adventure have only a tenuous link to his activity at the charity event, and the scenario could've used this depth of information to expand and turn Dr. Nightmare into more than just a single bump in the road for the superheroes. That said, the other side of the coin means that GMs can use the information to expand the adventure themselves. Generally, though, the adventure appeared a little short, with not much substance other than a single staged encounter with some plot hooks to get the characters involved.

Overall, this was a decent scenario for the 4C system. I liked the NPC and villain personalities, the fact that this adventure didn't feature off the chart supervillains, and the new mechanics was a great addition to the 4C system particularly the Fortune Fund, which allows superheroes to pool Fortune. The 4C system works really well with the scenario, and the superhero genre as well, creating a simple and even elegant design system. On the down side, the adventure could've used a little expansion, more continuity and a tighter link between the nature of the scenario and the villain himself.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Heroic Moments #1: My Favorite Charity
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review, Peter. I wanted to reply something you mentioned, just to clarify. You say, "Generally, though, the adventure appeared a little short, with not much substance other than a single staged encounter with some plot hooks to get the characters involved." The Heroic Moments are fully intended to be just that, moments (or single action scenes, as we denominate them), not full-on scenarios or adventures. Those will be coming down the line, but the HMs are meant to be a snapshot of a particular moment where heroes are needed to save the day.
Image Portfolio 1.27 Romans & Robots
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/12/2008 11:04:03
Image Portfolio 1.27 Romans and Robots is an art resource pdf containing 8 pieces of art of robots and Roman soldiers. This product is the 27th product in the Image Portfolio series of products from LPJ Design, and each product in the series provides several images and a license governing their usage in publishing and product use. Romans and Robots features five color images of Roman soldiers, commanders and the like, as well as three black and white image of robots (or mecha for those that use d20 Future).

The product comes as a single pdf file that contains the eight images, and includes a one page license that governs the use of the images for various uses (profit or non-profit, for example). Each piece of art takes up its own page, and although the resolution of the images is never specified, it looks very good on a A4 size page when printed. The black and white images, however, look like they've been drawn on a piece of paper and then scanned in, but the scan has left tell-tale signs on the actual image, like, for example, black lines, or in some cases what looks to be the remnants of some sort of inverted text. A little more work could've been put into touching up these images nicely, although unless you plan to use them at their full size, it's unlikely that you'll noticed it in a smaller image.

The five color images are all of Roman soldiers and commanders of various stations in Roman civilisation. I generally liked these - they had very good attention to detail in most cases, with good use of color, and the drawings look accurate with good posture and proportions. Here and there the images look slightly odd, like the one Roman soldier's shield that lacks the detail the rest of the image does, or other areas where heavy shadowing was used. Other than that, these are high quality images that would enhance the product they were used in.

The images of the robots or mecha are much better than those of the Roman soldiers, despite the errors mentioned earlier. The attention to detail and the fine drawing is excellent, and the robots really come to life on the page. Again, though, areas of the image where heavy shadowing would exist (for example, the back leg of a robot that's behind the robot itself), lack the detail that the rest of the image contains, making it look slightly odd. Nevertheless, these are great images as well, with vivid details and imaginative creations.

Image Portfolio 1.27 Romans and Robots is a very good and high quality selection of images from LPJ Design. Apart from the one problem with the tidying up of the scanning of the images, this is a top notch product that many publishers will find use in for their products. For as little as slightly more than a dollar for a single image, it seems like good value, although in some instances there may be a licence fee attached to the use of the product. Nevertheless, I was impressed by the quality and detail of the images, which makes for a good art resource.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Image Portfolio 1.27 Romans & Robots
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Behind the Monsters: Skeleton
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/29/2008 08:57:06
The skeleton is one of the most common creatures in most fantasy gaming systems, and as such I was pleased to see this release from Tricky Owlbear Publishing deal with this quintessential creature. Behind the Monsters: Skeleton is one of a growing number of monster products in this new series from Tricky Owlbear Publishing, by the same author, Bret Boyd, that originally brought d20 the successful Behind the Spells series. This 7 page pdf deals with the origins of the skeleton, and adds some useful new rules and enhancements to your gaming experience.

The Behind the Monster series of pdfs is a series of good, interesting and entertaining pdfs. Monsters are brought to life will some good background flavor and some new elements of game play are added to make dealing with or encountering these creature more interesting. On top of that the pdf provides some good presentation and art from artist, Rick Hershey. The writing is clear and concise, and the editing and layout done to match all the other products in the series and give them an unique identity. For those OGL junkies out there, all the mechanics in the product is OGL and clearly marked as such, although the background information is naturally not.

The skeleton backstory deals with the fall and 'rise' of a powerful priest of the god of protection. The pdf details his life under the god of protection, his battling with his enemies, his eventual almost tragic fall, and the subsequent matters of his rebirth as the first of a new race of undead creatures. The imagery is good, and the prose well written, although as far as enthralling stories go, it's not the best I've seen out there. Nevertheless, it gives a compelling and useful tale to the rise of the skeleton, and it's a tale that can be easily modified to suit your campaign world and pantheon. Like most stories, they can easily be adapted and changed to meet one's needs, or to spice up some of the more mundane aspects of the tale. There is a brief tie-in to a product from the Behind the Spells series (Animate Dead), although this is not required to use the material in this specific product.

The pdf adds a few new mechanics, including a Knowledge check table on the skeleton, ways of weakening the bone structure of the skeleton to give you an advantage in combat, new turning effects when dealing with skeletons, a new magical item and a variant monster called the flesh stealer skeleton. These variants and ideas can add some spice the skeleton, and the flesh stealer skeleton can be quite creepy. Mechanics is generally good, and nothing presented is too outlandish.

Behind the Monsters: Skeleton is a good pdf with some good writing and a number of suitable mechanical variants. It's a good pdf, although there's nothing that jumps out of the page and hits you in terms of fabulous new mechanical ideas, brilliant imagery, or imaginative invention of the skeleton's origin. I think in the old end despite it's good presentation, writing, and overall potential for usefulness, it's lacking in that bit of spark that will grab somebody's attention. With so much new material out there, something really has to shine to allow DMs to take hold of it and incorporate it in one's game. While there are certainly elements of this pdf that can be used, convincing a DM to use them might be difficult, despite the niche this product fills. The flavor is far more useful than the mechanics, and perhaps that's the part that will see more use, in its current form or not.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Behind the Monsters: Skeleton
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 121 to 135 (of 302 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG