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Lost Treasures: Curiosities from the Dancing Hut
Publisher: Pantheon Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/30/2015 09:45:40
This was written for the Fortune's Fool RPG, but is written in such a way that it can be easily adapted to any game. This gave me some great ideas for using the D&D version of Baba Yaga's hut. Plus I also want to check out the Fortune's Fool game as well.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Treasures: Curiosities from the Dancing Hut
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Baba Yaga's Hut
Publisher: Fat Dragon Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/30/2015 09:37:38
This is not an adventure or a book but a papercraft model. One of the first I have gotten from Fat Dragon.
This was an easy-ish little model to build and it really looks quite nice. I love being able to display this with the minis while we are playing. When we are done with our Baba Yaga adventures then this is going on my shelf with my little witch minis.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga's Hut
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S5 The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/30/2015 09:33:40
This is the official/unofficial continuation of the famous S series. I picked this one up because it was about Baba Yaga and my kids have gone through all the S modules now.
This module is for 2nd Ed AD&D and from the earlier days of that system. I "feels" like a late 80s adventure instead of a mid 90s one (1995). I think in part this has to do with it's origins and that the Roger Moore Dragon magazine (March 1984) article about Baba Yaga's hut was still on people's minds at the time.
This adventure is more plot driven than the other S series adventures. Baba Yaga is more of a defined character than say Acererak or Drelnza. In fact she is presented in much of the same manner as Strahd was in Castle Ravenloft. Though there is the assumption that the PCs wont be so stupid as to attack her. Could the right group do it? Sure, but that is not the fun of this adventure. The fun here is investigating her magical hut and finding things that might be unique in your world.
The Hut itself is almost a mini-campaign world, complete with it's own rules of magic and control over the daylight and nighttime hours.
Each level of the hut is designed for different level of characters. It does recall some of the "funhouse" dungeons of the S series in terms of what is being offered but there is some logic applied to most of the rooms. Others unfortunately feel like filler.
It is a fun adventure, but not one that really lives up to the S legacy or the potential of Baba Yaga herself.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
S5 The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (2e)
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The Manse on Murder Hill
Publisher: Taskboy Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/18/2015 16:29:38
The Manse on Murder Hill is a Labyrinth Lord Adventure for character 1st to 3rd level written by Joe Johnston. The PDF is 50 pages which includes 2 title pages, 2 blanks and an OGL page.
Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this pdf in exchange for a fair review.

Ok now that I have that out of the way I also want to add that this is also the exact kind of adventure I would have sought out. Especially these last few weeks. It is "Basic Era" so already I like that and it is a haunted (or so they say!) house. So pretty much I am sold and I have not even gotten past the cover yet.

The art includes work by Stuart Robertson, David Guyll (whom I have been enjoying a lot of his Dungeon World material of late) and Tim Hartin. I want to take a moment to talk about the art. IT is great and really helps set the mood. This module feels different than other "old-school" modules and it is a nice change of pace really. The art and overall feel of the module make this feel more like something you would play with Chill than Labyrinth Lord. Maybe Joe and his team could redo it for something like Cryptworld, Rotworld or Majus. Course the monsters would need to be changed to something else, but it still works.

The adventure itself is for 6-10 characters. I am not sure what the survival ratio is supposed to be, but that seems like a lot. I would rather reduce the party size a bit and have higher levels go. There is a lot going on here, so the larger numbers do work. I think one of the issues some Labyrinth Lords might face is a party "splitting up and searching for clues".

The feeling of this adventure is old school, but old-school+. Like I mentioned above there are modern sensibilities here. Yes, there is a great rumor table (which has a nice XP award system attached), but there is also a backstory to what is going on. The village of Little Flanders feels like something you would have found in a book from a red box, but there are other touches as well.
Characters should feel free to search the village, but keeping in mind that a village is not a dungeon.

The titular Manse itself is not very big. It doesn't have to be really. The place has the requisite eerie feel to it and the table of random "illusions" (I would have called them "hauntings" or "phantasmagorias" but that is me) help. There are also some wandering monsters.

Truthfully I kept picturing #12 Grimmauld Place from the Harry Potter books when I was picturing the Manse. There is plenty of great descriptive detail, but anything more you can add while playing is great. Don't forget the smells and the little noises too.

The module progresses until the goal is discovered, the lost children.

The module is quite flexible. I could not help but think that I could change the monsters to Bogarts and Goblins and have a Faerie-lands sort of adventure. Change them to degenerate humans and suddenly we have a cult to break up. Change them to various types of undead and...well you get the idea.

It should be a perfect rainy-afternoon sort of adventure. Which also happens to be one of my favorite kinds of adventures.

Maybe it can go without saying, but I will say it anyway. This is a very flexible adventure and you can put it into just about any campaign world you want.

Now lets talk about the price. At $2.00 this is criminal steal. Seriously I have very recently paid twice as much for far less adventure than what I got here. This a great adventure.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manse on Murder Hill
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Better Mousetrap 3e
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/16/2015 15:24:39
Described as "the most extensive, largest third-party rules supplement for ... Mutants & Masterminds" this book lives up to the hype. At 293 pages (covers, ogl, and toc still leave this at 289 pages of solid content) calling it "supplement" undersells it. Personally I prefer to think of it as "The Villain's Handbook". Everything you need to create a super-villain (not just a villain), their lair, plenty of skills and gadgets and of course powers. There is so much here really.

Chapter 1 covers skills. Plenty of new uses for old skills. Reading it over it seemed obvious that a lot of skill uses for ancient or immortal characters/villains/heroes. So perfect for your Vandal Savage types or old vampires like Dracula. There are some new skills as well. Brainwashing is a nice one. But there are lot of good ones. All in all about 25 pages worth of skills.

Chapter 2 gives us new Advantages. Ace is a nice one but there plenty here, including some Minion Advantages. This is actually really nice. I tend to gloss over minions. Maybe all those years of watching the "Adam West" Batman series. There are also Organization Advantages.

Chapter 3 has all the new Powers. And there are a lot here. There are new Power Effects and new Power Builds. There are also plenty of new Flaws. Needed for bad guys really.

Chapter 4 covers new rules. This chapter is more utilitarian. There are some car chase/combat rules and some mounted combat rules. There are some limited Mecha rules too.

Chapter 5 gets into what I consider the meat of the book and the reason I like it; Making a Better Bad Guy. This is what you need to make your villains into super-villains. Some of this chapter covers the motivation of villains and (the best parts) their evil plans. Some motivations are given ("The World Shall Be Mine!" and "The Voices Told Me to Do It" among others) which discusses why villains do what they do. Motivations are also discussed based on when the villain got their start. For example A Silver Age Villain does things differently than a Golden-Age or Modern-Age Villain.
It is often said that a hero is only as good as their enemies. Well this takes the opposite take, a villain is only as good as their enemies are evil. There is a good section on anti-heroes and even Arch-Enemies. Every hero needs a good arch-enemy.
Several new villain archetypes are presented. Many should be familiar since they pull on some strong archetypes or at least stereotypes, but that is perfect really. Any of these can be filled out to a full blown villain. Once you do that there are plenty of rank and file minions; brutes, troopers, pilots, infiltrators and cyber versions of all of them.

Chapter 6 includes Gadgets and Gear. This includes melee weapons and archaic weapons. Again for our old immortal villains. There are also plenty of guns and vehicles for the minions.

Chapter 7 is the Many Faces of Evil. This covers not just villains, but their organizations.
Chapter 8 covers Headquarters. This covers where those organizations and villains will hide
out. There is quite a lot of material here too.

Chapter 9, Evil to the Utmost, talks about how to use evil and villains. There are even some villains detailed here.

All in all a really good product. If you need to detail your villain and evil organization then this is the book you need.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Better Mousetrap 3e
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Magic8s
Publisher: Composite Games Limited
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/16/2015 12:42:58
Great system for various types of game play.
I hate to use the word "generic" but I mean it in the best possible way.

Various ways magic can be used. Emphasis is given on Fantasy and modern games.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Magic8s
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The Great City: Castle Ward
Publisher: 0one Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/08/2015 16:46:34
Was looking for a walled castle and this fit the bill. I used it mostly for the maps and really didn't use the NPCs (although they were perfectly fine).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Great City: Castle Ward
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Amazing Adventures Companion
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/05/2015 12:01:55
The Amazing Adventures Companion is now out. If you enjoy the Amazing Adventures game (and I do) then this is great news. The book is 162 pages with covers and OGL statement. Beyond that it is packed with all sorts great things.

Book One covers Astounding Action Heroes, or ways to improve your characters or make them closer to your vision. Abilities above 18 are covered and even how to get them there.
Each class is also presented and tips on how to play "other classes" with them. For example The Gadgeteer can be refocused into a street-level, Pulp Age Superhero. Think Batman in his early days. OR take the Gadgeteer and make his gadgets into potions and you have The Alchemist. The Gumshoe can give you an Ace Reporter (something I have really wanted) or the Consulting Detective. Play that aging Sherlock Holmes if you like. No new rules are needed for these since the rules are largely flexible enough. But....if you really want new characters then you are covered here as well. The Companion introduces The Acrobat, The Archer, The Duelist, The Gunslinger, The Pirate and The Soldier. What they do should be fairly self-explanatory.
The next section is one I was really looking forward to reading. This discusses porting over the classes in AA over to a Fantasy game like Castles & Crusades. While there is nothing shocking here it is a good set of guidelines. With the new classes, say like the Alchemist, Archer and Gunslinger it is nice to have so guidelines.
Next we have AA multiclassing, which is a port of the C&C "Class and a half".
We dive into equipment next which includes an expanded firearm list and how to use "classical" armor in an AA game.

Book Two covers Advanced Action Heroes. New rules for your Pulp Character. This includes some new generic class abilities. My new favorites are Occult Library and Wild Talent.

Book Three is Mysteries of Magic, Mentalism and Gadgets. It's like it was written just for me!
More information is given on Magic and Sanity; with caveats of what sort of game are wanting to run. A game where magic is dark can include Sanity and then some spells are removed, others added. We get a few pages of new spells, some tips on adapting C&C spells and then some revised Spell Lists.
For Mentalists we get some new Psionic Powers. For Gadgeteers we get some new gadgets and powers.

Book Four is Astonishing Stories. This covers some basic and advanced rules including contested rolls, Fate points, "Movie Physics", and various issues regarding damage and healing. It's kind of a catch-all chapter, but the overall theme is making your game more cinematic when you want to.

Book Five is Spinning Strange Tales. While it does feature a kickass Snake-headed monk get ready for some kung-fu fighting there is more to this chapter than that. This chapter covers different types of games you can play with AA and what alterations are needed. Most times this is about which classes to include and what equipment to use or not. My favorite might be the "Science Fantasy" section. I mean really, what is more "Pulp Adventures" than Edgar Rice Burroughs? Seriously. Reading this section suddenly I want to give up all my current games and play a Barsoom game using AA/C&C.
Of course I have to mention the section on "Tales of Swords and Sorcery". The author, Jason Vey, has honestly forgotten more about Conan and Robert E. Howard than I'll ever know. He makes some great points about using AA to emulate a Conan style game. Ok. Conan on Mars. That's what I want to play now.

Book Six is our Rouges Gallery. NPCs and Groups. This includes the historical (Harry Houdini) the semi-historical (Robert Locksley) and the comics.

All in all if you are a fan of Amazing Adventures or the Pulp Era in general then this is a must buy!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures Companion
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Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 4
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 16:32:52
These books are a collection of various items for use in C&C by James Michler. Vol 4. has to offer five new artifacts/magic items and 10 new White Box style monsters.
Again not bad for the money.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 4
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Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 3
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 16:30:10
These books are a collection of various items for use in C&C. Vol. 3 includes a couple of new artifacts, about a dozen new "White Box" menaces (monsters) and finally (and why I bought it) 3 new druid spells.
Not bad for the price.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 3
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Castles & Crusades The Giants Wrath
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 16:25:17
Another Celtic-themed adventure featuring some classic Irish and Welsh monsters and situations. Giants used to populate the lands but now men do. Some of those giants are not happy about it.
This adventure is 26 pages and can be played in a couple of sessions. Be warned though, it is a tough one given that there are a large number of giants to fight. Characters should be strong and the party should include a fair number of fighters and rangers. A wizard would help too.
This adventure also makes for a good bridge (somewhat literally) between the normal fantasy of C&C to the Celtic-fueled darker fantasy of the Codex Celtarum.
Also a good way to introduce the lands of faerie to new players.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades The Giants Wrath
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Castles & Crusades A Druid's Lament
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 16:15:21
A nice little adventure that can be played in a single session. While not specifically tied to the Celtic world of Codex Celtarum, it does work well with it. It is an introduction adventure so there are many of the tropes of that, but that is fine. It works here.
If you have an afternoon and couple of bucks then this is a great choice.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades A Druid's Lament
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Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 15:22:17
Another Celtic/Fey themed adventure for characters 1st to 5th level. This time they have to deal with the rise of the Grey King (who I really, really want to call Jareth). The book is 26 pages with the artwork you come to expect from Troll Lords. Also written by Brian Young this adventure feels like someone should be playing uilleann pipes in the background. I love that C&C can effortless emulate old-school D&D, but these adventures take to someplace new...or rather someplace old. Someplace that is a little darker.
This adventure is simple enough (as it should be) but it also might be more difficult in terms of the challenges faced. Granted life in Celtic, even pseudo-Celtic, times was supposed to be harsh. I would say have the characters start at 2nd level instead.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
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Castles & Crusades Night of the Sprits
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 14:26:51
I LOVE Halloween themed adventures. This one comes from Brian Young who also gave us Codex Nordica and Codex Celtarum. The adventure takes place in the Codex Celtarum version of the world over three days of Samhain, or Halloween to you heathens.
The veils between the worlds are thin and there is every chance that fae lords and lady or even th Lord of the Dead himself will make an appearance.
Personally I am a little jealous of this one. It features the machinations of a Dark Druid. I ran something similar myself many years before. I am jealous because this one just oozes style and creepy atmosphere. The adventure is not long. It could be played in a couple of sessions or a longish one on Halloween night. Start at 6:00 or so and you can be hitting the end of Act 3 at Midnight.
Honestly. There is so much I love about this adventure I kinda want to blame Brian Young for hiring clairvoyants to get exactly what I wanted out of my head and on to print.
It is that good and I hate him forever for it.
(not really...but maybe a little bit)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Night of the Sprits
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Castles & Crusades Book Of Familiars
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 13:48:11
I love playing magic using classes. I also love having familiars. Nothing it more iconic that a witch and her cat or a wizard with his owl. Or a necromancer and a floating skull!
This book covers the basics; what is a familiar? How is it different than an animal companion? What does it do for a wizard?
We move into a number of familiar "abilities" that a caster can use. Now these look an awful lot like feats from 3.x. That is no shock, this book began as a d20 supplement and this is the new C&C version. That is fine, they have been reworked and it works well here. Don't think of them as feats really. Familiars also get a few special abilities themselves. A lot of these are true special abilities and set the familiar off from the rest of animal kind.
We get a list of "standard" familiars and the benefits they grant. We also get "Greater" and "Supreme" Familiars. Pretty much anything can now be a familiar.
If we wanted to just talk about basic familiars we could stop here. But we don't. Next chapter deals with the familiars Assassins can get. This is followed by a chapter on Barbarian familiars and special mounts. This is includes an awesome bit on Totem Spirits. Buy it for the wizards, keep it for the barbarians! (and we are only 1/4 of the way through!) This is followed by chapters for Bards, Clerics, Druids, Fighters, Monks, Paladins and Knights, Rangers, Rogues, and finally special ones for Wizards.
We get 12 pages of new animals and 25 pages of new monsters.
We get 2 pages of new spells and 4 of new magic items. All in all 210 pages. Pretty nice really.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Book Of Familiars
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