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Bonus Bestiary for 4th Edition D&D
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Dennis P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2013 11:32:17
The Midgard Bestiary has quickly become one of my favorite 4e product. When I saw the bonus bestiary, I picked it up fairly quickly. Like the bestiary, the monster are well designed an interesting. I've used the Bagiennik and Dragonleaf Tree. The Bagiennik is a strange water fey that looks more like an aberration. They are described as mad healers who sometimes help and sometimes attack seemingly without reason. That description inspired an encounter where a small group of the creatures were healing a unicorn. While I designed the encounter with them as a potential combat, the PCs decided not to engage them. The PCs referred to the Dragonleaf Tree as a half-dragon treant. They provided a pretty good challenge for the PCs. In preparing for a session, I did find the lack of chart of monsters by level annoying. Here is the one I made:

Doppelrat Level 1 Solo Skirmisher

Witchlight Level 2 Artillery

Kikimora Level 5 Elite Lurker

Oculo Swarm Level 6 Skirmisher

Bagiennik Level 7 Skirmisher

Dragonleaf Tree Level 9 Artillery

Protostar Drake Level 12 Skirmisher

Salt Golem Level 15 Brute

Star Drake Level 17 Elite Lurker

Stuhac Level 18 Solo Brute

Andrenjinyi Level 19 Solo Brute

Chort Devil Level 22 Skirmisher
Strangling Watcher (Urochar) Level 22 Solo Lurker

As you can see the creatures are rather spread out in level. Unless you modify the creatures, you'll need another monster book but that isn't surprising giving that this is a bonus bestiary. If my players were lower level, I'd use the Doppelrat which can make copies of itself. As a beholder fan, the oculo swarm looks interesting. It even includes a level 9 wizard daily attack to summon the creature. I would definitely recommend this for 4e DMs.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bonus Bestiary for 4th Edition D&D
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OBE: Races of the Shroud for D&D 4E: The Apelord
Publisher: Highmoon Games
by Dennis P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/27/2013 06:26:59
As a fan of Planet of the Apes, Gorilla Grodd, and Grommam, I've always like ape-men. The Apelord by One Bad Egg intrigued me as soon as I saw it on drivethrurpg. Since I'm currently running 4E and not playing, I put off purchasing it for a long time. One Bad Egg no longer exists but it's products are still available from Highmoon Games.

Races of the Shroud: Apelord describes a new race for players. It includes several new feats to enhance the Apelord. Additionally it provides some Apelord monsters for the DM to throw at players. Finally it closes with several adventure ideas to use the race.

The apelord race seems fairly balanced to me. It does have a climb movement that might give some DMs pause. The product was released early in the life of 4E. Due to this it follows the early standard for races. The race has two bonus stats, Strength and Dexterity, unlike the one stat bonus with a choice of between two others as is the current approach. If you wanted to update them, I'd probably allow Constitution or Dexterity as a bonus stat.

An unusual ability of the apelord is Arms Like Clubs. An unarmed apelord uses the statistics of a club for their unarmed attacks. This includes both the damage and the proficiency bonus. While useful, most PCs would probably not rely of that too much since you can't get magic bonuses and a melee combatant probably wants something better. One possible solution for players wanting to make use of this is to allow them to use Ki Focus implements like Monks. There is a feat to increase the damage die size by one which could make it attractive enough for a class with only simple weapons.

The racial power relies on the Arms Like Clubs feature. As a standard action the apelord can make two attacks provided he is bare-handed. This makes it problematic to make use of the power as most characters will be holding something in their hands. Like most weapon powers, it doesn't increase the to-hit bonus. Unless your DM allows you to gain a magical enhancement it will become less effective over time.

Most of the feats enhance a feature of the race like Tall-Tree Tumbler which allows fall damage by 20 feet instead of 10 feet. The paragon tier feat is a power swap feat which have fallen out of favor in feat design. Using the power requires the character to be above the opponent. If a character can consistently use the power the 2[W] plus 3d10 bonus damage may make it a little unbalanced.

While the race can be easily used in other campaigns, the history for the race is based on the Shroud. What is the Shroud? One Bad Egg has prepared a pdf to provide a short explanation. In the frozen north, a huge chasm opens. From it's depths comes a warm mist that melts the ice. Everything is shrouded by the mist and fog. The sudden climate change wreaks the ecosystem. The strange mist alters some animals like the savage apes into the apelords. Concealed an undead force steps out of the chasm. The setting sounds very intriguing to me but it was designed as a seed for your games. One Bad Egg never intended to full fleshed out the setting.

Given the age of the product the monsters are the most problematic pieces to use of the supplement. They conform to the original monster creation rules. While they seem interesting and well done, you will probably want to adjust their damage. All the monsters are heroic tier and apelords (or at least were apelords). The early description of the apelords way of life and their conflict with necromancers gives plenty of hints about how to use the monsters. Many of the adventure ideas include moral dilemmas instead of simple good versus evil.

Overall I enjoyed the product and I'm tempted to collect the other Shroud material to build a more complete image of the setting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
OBE: Races of the Shroud for D&D 4E: The Apelord
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Broncosaurus Rex: Dinosaurs That Never Were
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Dennis P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/02/2012 21:11:02
Dinosaur Planet seems like a fascinating setting. I haven't gotten the main book yet but the information in the Broncosaurus Rex: Dinosaurs That Never Were makes me interested in more.

The opening chapter is about the Storm Valley. It is a distinct area in the Dinosaur Planet setting that contains these unusual dinosaurs. It has some mysteries to it that have obvious potential for adventures. The area is under continual storm clouds but it allows light through. The storms make aerial travel dangerous. The valley dinosaurs are even more intelligent those of other valleys. The Confederate and Union are kinda setup in reverse rolls where the Union is trying to use dinosaurs and the Confederate have more technology. They have a set of plot hooks after the history of the valley but I kinda prefer the hints of possibilities in the valley's history.

Dinosaur Planet was made for 3rd edition not 3.5. On top of this the authors have chosen to do some things differently than standard 3rd edition. You could still use the creatures without too much trouble in 3.5. The descriptions of the dinosaurs are very interesting. I do find that some pictures aren't as good a match as I would like. The ankylosaurus peltaspinos picture doesn't have a club like tail and ends up looking similar to the spinoflagella peloros. Similar problem exists with the craspedoceratops gregarium where the picture doesn't seem that different from the multiceratops tarbos. The description (and stats) of the craspedoceratops gregarium explain that the frill should be larger and go back to protect the sides as well as the front. I was surprised there isn't a poison spitter in the monsters.

I'm not currently running Dinosaur Planet or even 3.5. I actually purchased the book with the intention of using the creatures in a 4th edition game. The pictures will work well as visual aid and the tactics of the creatures can give ideas for 4th edition power. Still it has convinced to put the rest of the Dinosaur Planet products on my wishlist.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Broncosaurus Rex: Dinosaurs That Never Were
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Fire From the Sky
Publisher: Darklight Interactive
by Dennis P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/04/2011 08:41:04
Warning this review includes spoilers. Do not read if you intend to play in the adventure.

When I first read the description of the adventure, I wasn't expecting much. A meteor crashes into the ground and the PCs need to investigate is a rather bland intro. The preview for the adventure didn't do anything to change my opinion.

However, the product is better than I anticipated. The other encounters seem more inspired than the first. I'm a fan of the earlier Gamma World games so I don't mind the lacking of "off the wall" content from the current game. Since the earlier editions didn't have aliens/spaceships (or at least not so blatently), you could reflavor the spaceship as an advanced fightercraft that the octolus stumbled into and accidentally launched. The fighter crashed soon after take off since it had no idea how to control the ship. The alien ooze becomes a biological weapon or some other mutant creature.

The streets of Wildwood and Stuckie's garage are my favorite encounters. The octolus in the last encounter is missing a range for it's tremmorsense. Ma Bell is alright but I'm left wondering why she and her allies weren't attacked by the ooze. The crashsite looks interesting to run with the repairman zipping around the battlefield trying to fix the other bots. Interesting use of a penalty if you get caught in the self-destruct since Gamma World doesn't have healing surges to use up like 4E D&D. As already mentioned I'm not a big fan of the first encounter.

It would be nice if the streets of Wildwood gave some suggested townsfolk to make survivors more interesting if the PCs knew them. The octolus really should have given a different name like "Psychicly Damaged Octolus" or something as it is not a normal octolus. The adventure contains no artwork other than the maps.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fire From the Sky
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Advanced Class: Sorcerer — Aberrant Blood
Publisher: Silent7Seven Games
by Dennis P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2010 21:49:19
I really like the idea of the aberrant blood sorcerer. It has some interesting ideas. Manifesting only under some conditions is a nice setup. The conditions don't seem like they would always come up and might end too quickly although I haven't played with them yet. I was disappointed to see only the only level 1 power is an at-will. The level 3 powers can only be used when manifesting a particular aberrant growth. I could see that being problematic for example you manifest coiling tentacles when first bloodied but get hit with a melee attack before your turn ending the manifestation. Similarly a well timed stun could prevent you from using the encounter power before the manifestation ends.

The higher level spells level 5 and 9 look interesting. To fill out some of the other power levels they include upgrade options to make the lower level spells into higher level ones. I'd like to see more variety in powers and covering every level but I understand the limitations of the small book.

The twisted descendant's attack 11 power seem to do more damage than most other powers of that level.

There is only one image. I don't particularly care for it myself.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Class: Sorcerer — Aberrant Blood
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