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The Ruined Abbey of Saint Tabitha
Publisher: Olde House Rules
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/14/2014 12:34:21
First, I am completely in love with the design aesthetic James & Robyn George use for their products. This booklet looks like you could have bought it 30 years ago at a garage sale: old typewriter font, simple formatting and layout, and all black and white art. It may simply be nostalgia but I WANT to read this in a terribly bad way. So I printed out a copy to read by the pool with a cup of joe.

One thing I noticed immediately upon printing this out to read was the subtitle on the cover - "An Adventure Setting" and this truly is more than a simple adventure. While the booklet does have an adventure of a ruined abbey at its focal point, this booklet goes to great depth to present the lay of the land and really does provide a starting point for an entire campaign setting.

The Ruined Abbey
The first half of the booklet details the ruined abbey, providing two maps with twenty-eight locations for exploration and pillaging. All the rooms are fleshed out adequately with enough details for GMs to provide an engaging encounter and adventure

Here I would like to take a moment to discuss something I find unique about the booklet. Each encounter area is described as seen in the picture below. A quick paragraph the GM should have knowledge of, but not the dreaded "Boxed Text" unpopular by many. These paragraphs provide a basic overview of the location the GM can use to describe and 'operate' within the room. Traps and basic layout are discussed here. There is also a block of lines for additional notes the GM might make. I find this interesting and likely very useful for GMs as they read through this in preparation to run the adventure. I found myself coming up with ideas on the room and wanting to drop quick notes to myself here.

You may notice that creatures, treasures and the like seem to be missing here and you would be correct, these are listed out later in the book:

I find this an interesting method for describing the abbey. At first read I liked it, a good deal in fact. I was able to read through the abbey and get a solid feel of the layout, the former and current uses for the rooms. I felt I had a good mental picture of the ruins and could run a group through the place. Then I got to the "Matrix" as it is called and that all changed. I found the two locations of text, pretty far from each other, to be a tad annoying as I flipped back and forth.

This could just be me as I like to read the room description and then look at the map. I tend to use my visual senses to to piece information to tie text to image in my mind (I know this from my military training and reading mission orders and maps). So I found myself having to flip from the description text, to the map, then to the matrix to get a clear picture of what the room is like. This is not terrible, but certainly a design choice that I would think twice before using myself. I certainly DO LIKE the empty area for GMs to write notes, this is brilliant and something I may incorporate into my own publishing material.

Overall, the Abbey is nice but man I think it will be deadly. The details laid out in the Matrix are pretty tough, and numerous enough that it will take a pretty good, and smart, group to make it through the place alive.

The 'Setting' Part of the Adventure Setting
The second part of the book is a combination of a setting, the Matrix and a local lore section, adding up to approximately half the book.

The setting is great, this part of the book truly shines. Normally some adventures have a page or so about the area around the dungeon but this is about ten pages and details the locations, the religions a good section on the important NPCs in the town. This section is simply stupendous. It follows the same format as the Abbey section: a short paragraph with details on a location or place and a section for notes form the GM.

This may seem trivial to some but I can clearly see it being used and being very useful during the game. Perhaps the GM drops in the name or detail not in the booklet when his players visit the chapel, he can write it directly there. Most GMs I know keep a notebook for notes they take during the game, I myself have horrible memory and run the game by the seat of my pants, so having a spot right there in the book for me to take notes? Brilliant!

Below is the only map you are going to see of the town. I love it. Has the feel of the rest of the artwork in the book and certainly evokes the feel that this book is going for. You know I love maps but this one is perfect. I think it fits in with some of the Carcosa-ish maps you see floating around as well.

After reading this book I really feel the setting portion of the book is a winner. The adventure is good as well but I felt this part of the book really shined. It hits just the right level of details, provides enough interesting facts for a GM without becoming some massive historical guide for a fantasy world. I particularly love the historically sound bits about a newer religion absorbing and slightly changing the pagan religion it replaced to help it gain acceptance.

Final thoughts
I really like the booklet and think it is a great product. While I am not enamored with the splitting of the treasure/monsters from the description of the rooms (too much flipping) it is not something that would make me not like the product. The layout is perfect, the art is fitting and they have done a great job on writing and editing this booklet. As P&P is simple but still old school, this adventure setting can easily be translated over to another game system. In fact, I am thinking of running for my group which is currently enjoying D&D 5e, the switch over would be a very simple thing to accomplish.

There is nothing outlandish or crazy or off the wall here, so do not go in expecting a homosexual hydra with laser for eyeballs or giant space rocks that cause people to sprout a penis in their forehead. This is an old school, straight laced adventure of heroes vs monsters.

I would recommend this to others, especially those who like Pits & Perils and old school games, but even to those who enjoy other game systems. I would say 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Ruined Abbey of Saint Tabitha
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VS1 - The Caves of Ortok - Swords & Wizardry Edition
Publisher: InfiniBadger Press
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/06/2014 19:10:30
Great little introductory adventure. This one is stated for S&W and included a fool page if pregens and two new monsters to torture players with. The adventure covers a variety of monsters to defeat and a couple of puzzles to overcome. Overall, a nice set up for the adventure and a well done adventure.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
VS1 - The Caves of Ortok - Swords & Wizardry Edition
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Pits & Perils Wilderness Worksheets
Publisher: Olde House Rules
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/25/2014 21:33:56
Nice, simple and lite GM tool. Good for any game in need of a hex map but also includes handy little rule additions for the Pits & Perils RPG.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pits & Perils Wilderness Worksheets
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One Spot #3: Dolothar's Shrine
Publisher: Moebius Adventures
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/22/2014 13:10:43
This issue expands the supplement to 5 pages, printed in portrait mode and provides an overview to a small shrine that could easily be dropped into any fantasy campaign. It includes a map, NPC details, ideas for connections to other businesses in the surrounding town, and even has a few handy tables to help a struggling GM flesh out their players' visit to the shrine. Dolothar is an interesting enough NPC that he could become a major set piece in a setting and a regular the players visit for information, help or even as a source of unloading some of that vast wealth they accumulate in the adventures.

All in all, a nice little addition to my library of gaming tools. Inspirational, detailed enough to be used as-is and it even has the old school, do it yourself feel that I so enjoy.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
One Spot #3: Dolothar's Shrine
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the great review!
Oath of the Dead (fiction)
Publisher: DwD Studios
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/04/2014 20:29:46
This is a quick little story that drops us right into the action. Author Eric Johnson does a great job giving us just enough information to grab hold of our interest without bogging us down in needless details. The story is fast paced, includes a bit of mystery and tension and gives us a few details of the Keranak Kingdoms without becoming a lexicon. Of the few characters that are introduced, the old knight is excellently written and I finished the story wanting to know more about the character. The main female lead is interesting as well, but in something this short there is just not enough room to give us much more.

Overall, I enjoyed this story and wish there was more. For the price ($1.99), this is a great diversion for someone that likes fantasy and enjoys reading. Eric is clear, well written and easy to digest.

I would recommend this story and look forward to reading more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Oath of the Dead (fiction)
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Lost City of the Dwarves: Prologue
Publisher: Pen & Forge Productions
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2014 09:23:19
This is a great introduction to the author's system (which I would call more OSR than d20ish in feel).

This book is pretty unique in that you actually roll up a character to use, so you have a few stats, hit points, armor class and weapons. All of these are very indicative of an OSR game and really made me feel like I was playing OD&D. I really liked this aspect of the game as it provided an extra depth of immersion for the game. Its the little things. :-)

The game functions as expected, providing you with choices that then determine how successful your character will be at navigating the dangerous world beneath the surface. The stats add just the right level of crunch to the game to allow for a lunchtime adventure without becoming burdensome and time consuming. The system opens the door to easily being bent or cheated by someone but I think doing so would make it much less fun to do so.

I felt the writing was clear, interesting and I never felt I was being 'railroaded' or steered in a particular fashion or route. The rules add just the right touch to make this feel more like an RPG than a book. While I would have enjoyed the book anyway, the excitement of 'while I win this fight' and 'what treasure might I find' add another layer to the adventure that I find most welcoming.

I rolled exceptionally well throughout the entire adventure and was never killed. Close, but not quite. Those damn spiders are pretty tough! After concluding the adventure, I found I was actually a little sad I had not been slain because I suspect I missed much of the adventure by rolling so well. Likely I will go back and run through this again, purposefully making a few different choices so that I can see more of the adventure as it was written (rather than cheating and just reading the entire book).

I have downloaded the second part and will be giving it a run through as well, to continue the adventure. I really like the set up, the rules, and the presentation. All are a top-notch effort.

I will certainly be purchasing the the first part of the paid adventure (at right). I understand it has puzzles and riddles that must be solved in addition to battling the forces of evil. I am also interested in seeing how the game is expanded in this larger book. I understand there are more bad guys, more equipment, weapons and magic items.

If you are like me and need a serious break over lunch during your workweek, these seem like a perfect way to relax and recharge. I highly recommend you at least download the free introductory adventure books and see if this is for you. I am guessing they will be.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lost City of the Dwarves: Prologue
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Knowledge Illuminates
Publisher: GM Games
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/17/2012 12:21:08
This first (of a proposed series) of One Shot Adventures from Tim Shorts I snagged and read over lunch one day and it, along with the other two products above, have spurred me on to start prepping my own OSR game. This 15 page adventure starts with a sort of sandbox set up with a small regional map with numerous ideas and fun bits that could keep a group running around for a few sessions with a teeny bit of fleshing out by the GM. Here is where we see one of my favorite parts of the entire product. Viz. I won't give up what it is because it will be a surprise to players, but man it is a great idea. A great idea that I will be stealing, thanks Tim. ;)


Once the players progress through the adventure the enter an eleven room dungeon for a well thought out and pretty spooky adventure. The creatures are tough and scary and presented in a great, clear way. What starts out as an everyday ordinary adventure and in the end comes up as a pretty unique and interesting adventure. Heck, Tim even includes a new spell, new monster and a new magic item. Very cool.


The adventure is story driven and every thing is in place for a reason, not just for a fight or treasure. It just all makes perfect sense. This is my sort of adventure and Tim has done a great job, this is one adventure I would certainly recommend.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Illuminates
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Fantasy Grounds II - Full License
Publisher: SmiteWorks
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2005 00:00:00
This product is one of the best I have seen, it REALLY will replace a tabletop fo games. I have been running games over IRC for years now, and this replaces it, and bumps it up to another level. Totally customizable, even allows you to add houserules.

LIKED: Works perfectly. Customer support is quick and the developers are quick to add features that are requested by the users.

DISLIKED: Have not ran into anything yet.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Grounds II - Full License
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