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Galactic West powered by Fate Core
Galactic West powered by Fate Core
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/12/2014 17:17:53
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41575.

The Keeper’s Guide is the Game Master’s handbook to the Acthung! Cthulhu setting, along with being a source for the seedier background material for plots and themes within the Acthung! Cthulhu campaign. It contains mechanics for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds. While the original Acthung! Cthulhu campaign modules are designed for Realms of Cthulhu from Reality Blurs, the Keeper’s Guide no longer appears to require that setting guide. This book presents two new pieces to the Acthung! Cthulhu core setting: the Axis and the occult/mythos. It also augments the already present Allies information by giving the Keeper a collection of filler they can add to their adventures and campaigns to fill the gaps within the story and background. This includes things like Allied NPCs, a full look at intelligence agencies, and some behind-the-scenes things that the players and player characters may not realize. This means the Keeper can present a complete backdrop of both sides of the war without getting bogged down in fiddly bits like creating Allied NPCs for the PCs to interact with.

Probably the most important pieces of the Keeper’s Guide is the Axis forces and the occult/mythos. As much information that was presented for the Americans and British in the Investigator’s Guide is presented for the Germans in this book. This is a pretty in-depth presentation of what it’s like to create small and large forces to create obstacles for the PCs to get around. The occult and mythos side of things (including the various secret societies and intelligence agencies) are presented as protagonists for the PCs to encounter. Once again, World War II is being presented in a very complete manner to simulate that backdrop, keeping the setting cohesive with the era it’s presented in. Amongst all this content is a huge collection of adversaries covering soldiers, intelligence personnel, cultists, and mythos beings. There’s a good chance that a Keeper would never need to create their own adversaries and can simply stick to those presented in this book.

There is one section within the Keeper’s Guide that I question its placement of: vehicles. Not just German vehicles, but also American and British ones. These are military vehicles, ones the characters could feasibly come into contact with, steal, or maybe requisition. I can understand how they’re presented in this book as a part of the backdrop, but they’re really detailed and presented in a way that says “Hey, the characters can use these.” This even includes mechanics for aerial combat. Again, this is something the players should have access to, but I can see why it’s presented in this book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper's Guide
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/28/2014 20:37:09
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41426.

The Investigator’s Guide is the player’s handbook to the Acthung! Cthulhu setting, along with being a source for background material for characters within the Acthung! Cthulhu campaign. It contains mechanics for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds. While the original Acthung! Cthulhu campaign modules are designed for Realms of Cthulhu from Reality Blurs, the Investigator’s Guide no longer appears to require that setting guide. The book is really two parts: a look at life leading up to and during World War II and the types of common professions available to investigators within the setting.

Before going further, I would like to note that I did not back the Acthung! Cthulhu Kickstarter campaign. I considered it heavily, but in the end there were other things I wanted to back instead. Although I like the Acthung! Cthulhu campaign modules, I was unsure about how the two setting guides would turn out.

A large part of the Investigator’s Guide is dedicated to making the backdrop of the Acthung! Cthulhu campaign come to life. I say backdrop because the campaign is ultimately a Cthulhu Mythos investigation of the Axis delve into the occult during World War II (WWII being the backdrop). This book focuses heavily on life during World War II. This allows for a great amount of background material that can be leveraged during character creation, including defining what life is like back at home while the investigators are out chasing the Nazis and their cohorts. Timelines are provided to note the major events during and around the time in terms of the war and “what’s going on back home.”

The WWII backdrop also plays heavily into the character background information provided. If the characters are military personnel, there is a plethora of information regarding the different forces and divisions involved in the war, including intelligence. Support roles are touched on, but not significantly.

Fleshing out all this backdrop and background information from a mechanics standpoint is a large chunk of the book. Call of Cthulhu mechanics take up more than the Savage Worlds mechanics as a load of new skills are provided to represent the different skill sets each character background would feasibly have. Military occupations during WWII are provided in mechanical terms including elite and special forces. These backgrounds are considerably streamlined for the Savage Worlds mechanics and presented as quick-use archetypes. This is accompanied by new Hindrances and Edges. The book is capped off with a look at WWII equipment and a Quick Play Guide that sums character creation.

The Investigator’s Guide is a solid player’s book for games set in World War II. It’s quite obvious that the character focus is on those in the military as opposed to something more pulp-like. This is a good way of setting Acthung! Cthulhu apart from other settings during this era as it provides value in the hands of the players (they’re not getting a rehash of pulp heroes fighting Nazis). One thing I like the most about the book is that it presents the players with World War II and doesn’t really lead-on that much to what’s going on in the shadowy world of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide
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Shadow World: Emer III
Publisher: Guild Companion Publications
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/08/2014 11:45:40
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41136.

Emer Atlas III is a Shadow World sourcebook for Rolemaster, detailing the southeastern areas of the Emer continent. It contains a very in-depth look at the regions history (including a very detailed timeline), geographical features, flora, fauna, cultures, climates, weather, NPCs, adventure hooks, and the kitchen sink. It’s presented in an extremely straight-forward, easy-to-read manner and flows quite nicely from beginning to end. The majority of the book is dedicated to pure source material that can be translated to any fantasy system desired and then supported by Rolemaster/Rolemaster Classic/Rolemaster Fantasy/every Rolemaster version currently supported. These mechanics are presented in a supportive manner, completely disconnected (physically, as in layout) from the source content, preventing them from getting in the way. Thus, you can casually read through all the source material and then come around it again at the end through the use of the mechanics.

Calling Emer Atlas III a sourcebook is simply not enough. It is THE sourcebook detailing the southeast of Emer. In other words, this isn’t your standard sourcebook; it sets quite an amazing benchmark. Let’s start at the beginning with the region’s history. Author Terry Kevin Amthor chose not to simply provide the readers with the basic historical look at the region. Instead, he got down to the absolute nitty-gritty, bringing you all the way back to the very first intelligent roots that arose in the region. He then takes you through this entire history leading up to present day (this spans 200,000 years). I will admit that I often became confused by the fantasy-lingo used during this timeline, but the more I read, the more I understood.

From here, the book moves into an extremely detailed look at the region’s climate, geography, flora, fauna, and inhabitants. Funny enough, I could have sworn this section was written by a climatologist and geographer, or a general scholar of those items. I was floored by the amount of information, but better yet, how plausible, believable, and realistic it seemed. I know those are basically the same thing, but that’s how I felt. Best of all, it was written in a way that can be easily referenced at a later time. This is mainly due to how they formatted the headers by including the climate zones in the headers of each applicable item (such as a particular poisonous plant).

After this highly-detailed information, the book moves on to what I would consider a more typical sourcebook format. It reviews the major areas within the southeast region, detailing the cultures, inhabitants, NPCs, and cities (with maps). There is a bit of a background story relating to the waxing and waning powers within the region and their source; a short chapter is given over to detailing this further and outside of the other content that its typically dropped into. Finally, Emer Atlas III takes everything you’ve already learned and gives it meaning by providing eight adventures and adventure hooks (the really short ones I would consider adventure hooks). What I would consider an appendix provides maps of the region and a chart of applicable fantasy weapons.

All in all, Emer Atlas III is an amazing book. If you are a Shadow World fan, this is a definite must have to expand your world in such a detailed manner. If you are just a Rolemaster fan, then you’ll be provided with a vast quantity of adventuring ideas, NPCs, weapons, and cultures to drop into your game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadow World: Emer III
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Monster Templates: Headless Horseman
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2014 08:45:00
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41080.

This is a nine page supplement that contains four pages of actual crunch. In typical Rite Publishing fashion those four pages are overflowing with good and, more importantly, useful information. This supplement opens with the the Headless Horseman Monster Template which adds a plus two Challenge Rating (CR) to any creature it is placed on. Monster Templates: Headless Horseman includes the Headless Horseman fully realized as a Challenge Rating eleven creature. The headless horseman write-up includes statistics for its horse Stygian, which when included with the Horseman along with several other factors actually bumps the Headless Horseman up to a much higher Challenge Rating. Following the stat blocks is a detailed description of the Headless Horseman as well as an extensive lore section. This Monster Template includes two new monstrous feats, Come Back Strong and Strike of Sharpness. The new spell Animate Headless Horseman rounds out the crunch.

While most people might think of the Headless Horseman as just a Halloween monster that only belongs in a Halloween-themed game, Rite has come along and proved them wrong. Sure the tale of the Headless Horseman is classically associated with Halloween and any respectable game played on Halloween should include an encounter with one, there is much more to this type of creature than tangling with an awkward academician. What Steven D. Russell and the folks at Rite Publishing have done with Monster Templates: Headless Horseman is take this well known seasonal tale and turn it into a challenging creature. A creature which has thematically appropriate powers that not only have the potential to own a party of Player Characters if they are not careful, but has the potential of creating an ongoing conflict with a powerful creature that requires “quests” to defeat.

The cover art is solid and seeing a Headless Horseman in broad, bright daylight was a refreshing change. At first I was going to comment that it should have been set at night time, but by achieving cranial rectal separation, I realized it was a smart and unique move. The ethereal pumpkin page borders were unique and wonderful. I would have liked to have seen Rite play with the whole concept of the pumpkin head a bit more and would have loved to seen some “other” suggestions, but I in no way felt cheated on that front. The formatting was up to Rite’s normal high standard, but I was distressed to see a grammatical mistake on the first page. Rite normally catches stuff like this. In their defense they are human and I’m sure they will have it fixed soon. There was the usual mix of original and stock art and as usual it met with mixed success. All of the art was relevant, but still felt disconnected.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Templates: Headless Horseman
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1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/01/2014 09:44:01
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41122.

1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells is a collection of 134 spells for the Pathfinder Magus base class. These spells are presented in playing card format, essentially making them a utility accessory. Additionally, you are presented with all 134 powers in a single location that is also very easy to read.

1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells is a very interesting product. I’m not exactly sure where all 134 spells comes from, but judging by the quantity of products listed in the OGL (a reference of where the open content came from), these spells came from all over the place (around 50 if my count is correct). If you want to play a magus and like to have loads of spell options, the utility value of 134 Magus Spells is incredible; you only have to buy the one product (of course, you don’t get whatever options also appear in all those products). Additionally, the cards are color-coded according to their ‘School’. The PDF is organized by spell level, which is indicated in the upper right-hand corner. There’s only one problem, the cards are one-sided and a bit boring.

Aside from its very valuable utility use, the spell cards are a bit drab. With the single-sided design, options are limited and when the text gets long, the font gets small. These aren’t playing cards in a game where the opponents can’t see the back, they’re utility cards that are used as a reference. There’s no reason why the front and back cannot be utilized to allow for a larger font and maybe a more exciting design.

The design is one of simplicity. If you like simplicity, then these are perfect. For me, I’d like to see something a bit more fun so that I would actually want to use the cards and not just write everything down on a note card, making it easier to read (due to font sizes). There’s also the occasion where the space provided wasn’t fully utilized, but the font size was decreased, making it that much more difficult to read. In these cases, it would make sense to fill the available space by adjusting the font size, which also makes it easier to read.

I should note that each card contains a full description of the spell. Rite Publishing didn’t skimp on the content by short-cutting the description, meaning you’ll always know what it is and will never have to reference another product for that description. Again, this adds to the immense utility value, but does little for the visual appeal. There’s no artwork (although I honestly would never expect that from a utility product as the cost would sky-rocket) so plenty of space is given to the description area. Thus, you are given everything you need in one place. If this is all you care about, then you should definitely buy this to make being a magus that much easier.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells (PFRPG)
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EPOCH: Frontier of Fear
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/25/2014 09:19:58
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41058.

Frontier of Fear is a collection of sci-fi horror scenarios for EPOCH. Although these, and probably all, scenarios for EPOCH are designed to be one-shot, they can ultimately be linked together as they revolve around the same basic background structure – the not-too-distant future where humans have started exploring other areas of our solar system and corporations have funded expeditions throughout for various purposes. The four scenarios are Red Gold, Space Station Icarus, Quintessence, and Hard Time. Each one is set within the aforementioned backdrop and all take place away from Earth. Although they are set within the same basic setting, they are not actually linked, although the GM could link them if desired. Frontier of Fear is also accompanied by a new set of cards that correspond to the scenarios.

EPOCH is an interesting game to define. The ‘CH’ within its name pretty much says it all: Cinematic Horror. However, do not confuse some forms of cinematic horror with what EPOCH recreates. Whereas cinematic horror may refer to a horror RPG that has qualities akin to a ‘slasher flick’, in EPOCH, you are actually creating a horror movie. Each player assumes the role of an on-screen character, fighting to avoid being the tragic zero that dies for no good reason. For a heroic death is good in a horror movie, as is survival, but a tragic death which doesn’t help the other characters survive leaves you wondering what that character was for. This is the ultimate struggle of a good EPOCH game: to create a memorable character that doesn’t necessarily have to survive.

With this in mind, Frontier of Fear creates the environment to produce four sci-fi horror movies through role-playing. The way these scenarios are presented is incredibly simple, straight-forward, and easily understood. It’s almost like watching a movie unfold, filling in the blanks as you go along. If I can get this effect from reading through it, imagine how awesome that experience could be when you slot yourself into those blanks with a character you created.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
EPOCH: Frontier of Fear
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In The Company of Fey: A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/16/2014 08:44:34
The following review was originally posted at Rolepalyers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=40932.

In The Company of Fey is a wonderful sourcebook for those gaming groups that want to really run a fey-inspired campaign rather than just inserting fey type things into their games. This book starts out as a narrative overview of the fey lifestyle by an enigmatic figure named Red Shuck. This narration covers things like Physical Descriptions, Fey Society, Relations, Alignment, Religion, and Naming Conventions. The standard information one would expect. Following this is a racial description of the First Folk. After the description of the First Folk, the creators move into describing 2 Class Archetypes, The Solstice Pariah (Taskshaper) and the Wild Hunter. Next comes an extensive and compelling description of the Fey Racial Paragon Class, taking a character from level 1 to 20. This book closes with six fey feats.

This is by far the most stunning book I have reviewed from Rite Publishing! In the past I have been critical of their use of stock art and flirtations with color art. My only complaint with this product is I wish there had been more art. The cover of this book while Drow worthy, was hauntingly beautiful, just like the Fey themselves. The page borders (which Rite has always chosen well) – a woodland scene that is museum quality. What makes this product even better is that it’s much more than just a pretty face.

I have seen the fey get different levels of treatment from fantasy RPGs for years; as you can imagine some of those treatments have been overwrought, while others have seemed like an afterthought. This book hits that sweet spot; it is dead center and spot on. The introduction and its narrative form are compelling. I felt like I was being treated to the introduction to a really good novel that happened to contain some really solid, rules crunch. I was slightly distressed that the abbreviation Dr. was used in the introduction as I think that is a more modern term for someone who is learned, but that was minor, really minor. This product had its hook into me quickly, after just a few pages of the background information I was already formulating ideas for a fey campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Fey:  A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to do a review, Special Note: The term Doctor is older than you think and was in use in the 11th and 12th century (thanks to places like the University of Oxford and the University of Paris among others). Steve Russell Rite Publishing
Convergent Paths: Students of Arcanum Archetypes (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/03/2014 20:59:41
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=40862.

This 11 page product ends up with 6 pages of content. Students of Arcanum Archetypes introduces 4 new archetypes for magic users, in the form of different houses that focus on various forms of magic use. The houses include House Dweomerden, House Glammerforge, House Nethervault, and House Spell Tower. This book includes 4 new spells, and 6 new traits.

House Dweomerden focuses on utility spells and for the sacrifice of the scribe scroll feat gives a member of this house an extra spell slot and includes a limited amount of daily opportunities to substitute the wizards bread and butter spellcraft skill for much more utilitarian skills like heal, craft, and survival skill checks.

House Nethervault members are the heavies of the institution, for taking the nethervault template they are given intimidate as a class skill. To add to this they are given the coveted use magic device skill. Because of their duties as protectors of lore that is best forgotten, they get a secret language that has a good deal in common with druidic. Nethervaulters are given a +5 to their spellcraft checks when they are building items they couldn’t normally build. As they gain levels they become more and more resilient to curses, poisons, and diseases and acquire some immunities at 20th level. Because of the nature of their positions as lore keepers, when contacting creatures from other planes they can take some wisdom penalties to tell if their otherworld contact is telling the truth or not.

House Glamerforge is aptly named as it adds perform to a wizard’s skill list and gives the wizard a limited amount of daily uses of bardic music-like abilities. These abilities are limited to countersong, distraction, and fascinate. But with great power comes great responsibility and the use of each of these abilities has a condition that goes with it. Being a member of this house includes the ability to fuse scrolls with inanimate objects and they have the bonus of concealing their spell books in works of poetry and drawings.The final house, House Spelltower, is listed as One School and provides no archetype.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Convergent Paths: Students of Arcanum Archetypes (PFRPG)
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The Demolished Ones (Fate)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/28/2013 09:21:45
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=40343.

Few games are capable of deeply exploring what drives a character while at the same time completely discouraging any kind of back story from the players. The Demolished Ones is a game where players must put a lot of trust into their GM and the writers of the module to create a compelling experience of self-revelation. Players won’t like what they discover about their characters, but then again, that’s kind of the point of the game – discovery. This is a game that revolves around a big secret, and it’s pretty tough to talk about it without at least touching on that secret. You have been warned.

The Demolished Ones is a fantastic little book that offers the best way I’ve ever read to introduce your players to the world of the Fate RPG system. If you’re not familiar with Fate, it’s an abstract, rule-medium system that has become quite popular recently, in no small part thanks to the massively-successful Kickstarter campaign from Evil Hat Productions, the creators of Fate. Since the demise of the glut of d20 products of the late 90′s and early 00′s, Fate is one of the systems among a handful of options available to third-party publishers. It’s a difficult game system to describe in just a few words, but the important thing to note is that it’s highly-adaptable and perfect for pulpy action. You can mold Fate to do many, many different things, and the folks at Rite Publishing appeared to have designed the perfect introduction to the basic game mechanics.

So what is this big secret of the game? Let me start with the premise. The characters wake in a room with a dead man and no sense of who they are or why they’re there. Through the course of the game, they discover the secrets of the Domed City (the setting of The Demolished Ones), the ones who put them in this situation, and of themselves. Here’s the thing though, can they trust what they find out, or is just another layer of illusion – another lie? If you’re familiar with the movie Dark City, you’ll see that The Demolished Ones owes a lot of its inspiration to it. Of course, while Dark City may appear quite original, it shares a lot in common with some universal themes of deception, deceit, and out-right subjugation of one’s will to a more powerful, malevolent being. These themes pop up in other movies where reality is hidden under an illusion for the purposes of control.

Reality is what you make of it. This is a central theme of the game and the story. It’s a particularly strong theme to match up with the rules of Fate. Fate offers players the freedom to create or discover new aspects of their environment, sharing some of the responsibility of setting the scene and telling the story. This translates well to the story because players will discover that their characters eventually have the power to actually change reality around them; at a price. As they discover more about their past, what they were supposed to be, they’ll gain power and abilities in the game as well. It’s a very tidy way to tie story and mechanics together for a powerful effect on the players.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Demolished Ones (Fate)
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One Foot in the Grave
Publisher: Creepy Doll Studios
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/21/2013 08:08:10
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=40291.

One Foot in the Grave is a comedy horror RPG by Creepy Doll Studios and it is far from decaying or even dying, even when the PCs are “guests” at an Assisted Living Facility or (ALF). That’s right, you didn’t misread it; you play an elderly person who is trapped in an ALF that has just been infested with zombies thanks to a sick and often caught sleeping employee who had a fight with a hobo on his way into work. The characters must kill all of the zombies, or find the security guard who has the pass key to escape the ALF. The only problem is that he is convinced that everyone in the building is a zombie. Grab some, okay a lot, of d6s and let the fun begin.

Talk about 52 pages of fun! Creepy Doll Studios has managed to create a very legitimate, and really fun beer and pretzels type game. I’ve played and reviewed plenty of gimmick games, some work really well but the vast majority fall flat on their faces and end up being a huge waste of time. One Foot in the Grave is easy to learn and quick to play. Because it is a location based game, the Event Coordinator (EC) doesn’t have to come up with endless maps or even building plans; the building plans might be helpful, but with very little prep time this game can be fun and started quickly.

The cover of this book is great – the subdued zombie, green splattered with black sets the mood. Throw in a zombie, some well thought out text and you have a simple yet highly effective game book cover. Throw in the Creepy Doll Studios Logo in the top right corner and the entire package comes in at just right. The layout is fairly standard and most of the interior art is black and white silhouettes. Creepy Doll Studios isn’t a big publisher, however I feel like they know their limits and produced a clean looking book that still tells the story they want to tell. They stayed within their means and in this case less was more, and more importantly, more felt right.

[Read more at Roleplayers Chronicle]

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
One Foot in the Grave
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Adventure Quarterly #4 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2013 09:11:11
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=38979.

Adventure Quarterly continues to feed hungry gamers with regular installments of modular pre-made adventures or adventure situations that will please almost any gamer. The fourth issue of AQ maintains the high standard that the other three issues have established, maintains, but does not supersede. This product is 85 pages of usefulness, especially if you are the type of GM who loves to have a few pre-made adventures in your hip pocket in case your players do what they always do, which is go where they shouldn’t and never meet the people you want them to meet or go the places you have lovingly spent the better part of two weeks mapping out. This issue contains three adventures, one including Ratfolk, another that creates clones of the party’s player characters and a ghost story. Followed by these adventures is one of Creighton Broadhurst’s Dungeon Dressing series where he gives us 100 entries dressing up and having to do with doors. The final product in this installment is a wide-open sandbox description of an anywhere setting called the Dam War.

I normally start with the physical aspects of Rite Publishing’s products and I can’t see where this product should be any different. The cover art looks horrible digitally. Because of the colors used, the Ratfolk depicted on it is like a brown blob. I had to look really hard to determine that it was actually a Ratfolk. I think this is just another case of stock art gone bad, but that seems to be par for the course for Rite Publishing. Other graphics did much better on the interior of the book and while they were not top notch, the maps were useable for the GM. I would have loved to have seen a map that was player friendly. Rite Publishing has included them in the past and there is no reason they shouldn’t do it in the future. The layout and the page borders are almost a foregone conclusion for Rite Publishing; they have figured out what Rite Publishing looks like and have stuck to it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #4 (PFRPG)
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101 Variant Monsters (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/16/2013 08:15:54
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=38519.

One of the latest installment of the 101 series from Rite Publishing is an odd combination of elation and disappointment. Elation because who doesn’t love 101 variations on monsters. Disappointment because technically there are 101 variant monsters, however, wisely using economy of effort Rite Publishing has re-used several of the variant abilities these monsters have (several time throughout the book) making the 101 number seem like much less.

Rite Publishing has proven over and over again that they know what they are doing, they have their layouts down pat, generally make good art decisions and their content can stand up to just about any other game company out there. This book takes what I call a small entry approach to these variant monsters. Imagine the typical entry you would find in a bestiary or monster manual; then cut those typical entries down by half or even a quarter. There is quite a bit of information that can be omitted because these are not new creatures, just variations on existing creatures. These creature entries do not include the normal or base creature’s statistics, so this book must be used in conjunction with the regular Bestiaries. I am a much bigger fan of products like this when they can stand alone, but the addition of stat blocks would have greatly increased the length and cost of this product. A spread sheet at the end might have answered the mail without adding too many pages.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Variant Monsters (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Ur-Shogga, the All-Consuming Thought (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/08/2013 08:25:13
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=36604.

If Ur-Shogga decided to make me it’s victim, it would go away hungry. Matt Banach and Justin Sluder have tackled a difficult creature in this installment of Faces of the Tarnished Souk, by adding an Intellect Devourer to the ever eclectic and ever increasing cast of characters that wander the twisted way of the Tarnished Souk.

OVERALL

These guys really put their substantial brain power into Ur-Shogga, the All-Consuming Thought. Not only is it longer than most of the products from The Faces of the Tarnished Souk line, but it is a holistic product that does an amazing job of covering a very difficult monster; a monster that can inhabit the bodies of its victims and control multiple bodies in a collective process.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
I’m not sure if this was a chicken and egg situation. I’m not sure if the art motivated the character or if the character was already developed before Rite Publishing was able to acquire the rights to the art. The cover art by Mark Hyser is really well done, however it reflects a generic intellect devourer, not Ur -Shogga, the All-Consuming Thought. Ur -Shogga, the All-Consuming Thought has gimped legs due to being dumped into acid, the rear legs on the creature depicted on the cover of this product seem just fine. Rite Publishing is so close to pulling 10s on every category. Some might say that I’m being petty dinging them for this but they have set the bar high and their content is on par with much bigger gaming companies out there.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Ur -Shogga, the All-Consuming Thought shows that not only does Rite Publishing understand actual mechanics, they understand the spirit of the mechanics as well. Here is what I mean: when you have a creature like Ur -Shogga, the All-Consuming Thought who can consume and assimilate most other creatures, mechanically this can cause problems, really big problems. This product addresses some of the mechanical nightmares this situation can cause by giving you the stats for the creatures Ur -Shogga, the All-Consuming has already consumed.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
11 different stat blocks. Not two or one but 11 different stat blocks as well as new templates and Ur -Shogga, the All-Consuming at three different challenge ratings. That is value, enough said.

Overall: 10 out of 10
The art is good, but would it kill you guys to use more original art? I want to see Ur -Shogga, the All-Consuming Thought’s gimp acid scarred legs, it would take it from just another intellect devourer to something much more sinister. I’m not sure if the cover picture inspired the character or if it is the other way around. I know I shouldn’t get consumed with this point, but the more I thought about it the more I felt it needed to be discussed.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Ur-Shogga, the All-Consuming Thought  (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Vhulgus Sangrevorro, the Endless Dandy (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/01/2013 14:09:57
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=36610.

A dandy who is more than they seem… nothing new, a dandy who is not what they seem who makes clothes that feel the maker’s blood hunger if blood is spilled on them or while wearing them, now that is dandy. But Vhulgus Sangrevorro is more than just a blood drinking haberdasher, he is a well traveled prankster who remains ready for anything and will do everything in his power to avoid combat.

OVERALL

This product is Rite on target. The folks over at Rite Publishing have listened to the people and have honed their latest products from the Tales of the Tarnished Souk into very sharp and deadly products that won’t kill a GM to use. Some of the aspects of Vhulgus Sangrevorro, the Endless Dandy are predictable, but of most of the information about this blood sucking trickster is fresh, not scabbed over.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Rite Publishing has tweaked their format just enough to put them on par with the bigger companies that can afford to throw money at a project until it is tops. These guys have done it by listening to their customers and working smartly. The format is standard and will not surprise anyone familiar with RPGS. The cover art by Nicholas Cloister, while not originally created for this character, fits well. Not perfect, but really well. The interior is minimal, but in good taste. Rather than pushing a bad angle, the folks over at Rite Publishing have finally chosen to minimize what I have long considered their weakest area: artwork. It isn’t that they always choose bad art work, it is more that some of their choices of stock art are disjointed from the rest of the product. Well done Rite Publishing, you are proof that a willingness to listen to your customers can take you a long way.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
This is another aspect of Rite Publishing’s products that are becoming a given. I will say that because their concept for this character and his special abilities are so unorthodox, they had to create several very specific magic items. I applaud their willingness to do this rather than trying to trash the rules just to suit their needs for a single product.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
With a few name changes, several of the magic items and the bloodthirsty raiment spell is really devious and I can see it being used my many a clever GM in many, many settings. If you use the picture of Vhulgus Sangrevorro, the Endless Dandy on the cover of this product, then sans an extra planar setting or a high magic setting he might stick out much more than you normal monstrous humanoid.

Overall: 10 out of 10
This is a great example of what gaming companies can do with creative, open minded staff. Rite Publishing is using their resources in what I believe to be the best way possible. The concept behind Vhulgus Sangrevorro, the Endless Dandy is really innovative and while I’m not a fan of the eternal template, it is used really well in this case. Vhulgus Sangrevorro, the Endless Dandy is bloody brilliant!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Vhulgus Sangrevorro, the Endless Dandy  (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Zara, the Girl Who Died Dreaming (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/24/2013 08:03:08
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=36602.

Undead powerful children are creepy; they always have been and always will be. So it figures that the Tarnished Souk would have their own version. The good news (as long as you are not a monster) is that Zara is there for payback; so If you are in the scare business, beware.

OVERALL

Did I mention creepy, yea I did; Zara, the Girl Who Died Dreaming follows the creepy little vampire trope really well. What I enjoyed was her need to punish creatures who normally punish other creatures. At a CR 22 Zara the Girl Who Died Dreaming gives GMs a really heavy hitter to throw at PCs. Add in a cuddly, not so caring bear and things get interesting!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Rite has the format for The Faces of the Tarnished Souk books down. The inclusion of advice on how to use Zara, the Girl Who Died Dreaming is upfront, concise and useful. Placing Zara’s character sheet upfront with the descriptions of her abilities listed, is a format that most Pathfinder players recognize and is a no brainer, but still very important. What made this product a 10 was the art. The cover art of Zara holding Mr. Bear with her dead (OK undead) stripper eyes just finished off the effect. The art feels cohesive rather than a disjointed mix of stock art and original art. Rite Publishing has always done a good job of using the same pictures for templates or feats throughout their products. I guess all of this art just formed the perfect storm, because this one looks good. I think they should revisit some of the old stock art they used to brand templates in the past and update them with art like this.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Rite Publishing knows how to make outrageous concepts work and keep them within the Rules As Written. However, the inclusion of the + 5 weapons wielded here made this product more mechanically difficult. I have mentioned the huge amount of special abilities many of the characters from The Faces of the Tarnished Souk have, and those alone are difficult enough to manage, especially if you have multiple bad guys. Thankfully these books have really good write ups on those abilities; the weapons ability write ups are there and there are plenty of them. Most of the weapon abilities included are common abilities, but the combination of all of them and ensuring that each of them comes into play adds a big burden to the GM especially in the heat of combat.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
The concept is great and a “teddy bear” toting undead girl with an agenda is challenging no matter where you place here, there are some good template write ups and Mr. bear makes me look at imps in a whole new light. Because the Tarnished Souk is such a unique place, using Zara the Girl Who Died Dreaming could take quite a bit of tweaking. The concept is solid enough but the details, well the imp is in the details.

Overall: 9 out of 10
This book is a positive step in the Rite direction. There are not many changes in the art, but things are really looking good. The +5 weapons should be avoided but all of the pluses made sense; there were just a lot of them. This is almost a 2 for 1 product as you get stats for Zara the Girl Who Died Dreaming and Mr. Bear. I like the idea that Zara the Girl Who Died Dreaming has a tie in to one of the other Faces of the Tarnished Souk, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out. Zara is not the girl of my dreams, but she is a nightmare to my worst dreams.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Zara, the Girl Who Died Dreaming  (PFRPG)
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