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The Genius Guide to Feats of Subterfuge
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/29/2010 10:35:51
OtherWorld Creations tends to have the best introductions in the supplement PDF realm. In the beginning of every one of their books, I have silently said to myself, preach it brother.

The publisher of the line of “Genius Guide to.” Gaming supplements write the things that fans of Roleplaying games think. With their previous supplement, they addressed the lack of quality feats for spellcasters. With Genius Guide to Feats of Subterfuge they take aim at another often ignored class, roguish classes.

A few months ago a situation came up in my game where I had a player build a smart, stealthy character, only to have few feat options to compliment her character. Sneak Attack and Evasion seem to be as stealthy as a rogue gets in combat situations. Feats of Subterfuge introduces 27 feats to implement stealth and deception into combat situations. The result is quite successful, giving the rogue (or any other character you want to play with stealth and cunning) an assortment of options.

The 9-page PDF includes feats that can be chosen by any class. Each of the feats uses a different type of subtlety. Most of the feats are used in combat, where others are useful in social situations.

For the Player
Secret Spell is a feat I can see quickly moving of the feat list of players. As a DM, I often come across players who want to cast spells in secret, only to be disappointed by silent spell. Secret Spell allows players to cast spells secretly without caring about the spells’ verbal or somatic components. Thieves Cant offers tons of great opportunities for groups trying to covertly hide their conversations.

For the Dungeon Master
I love the creativity that went into Self Delusion, which adds charisma, instead of Wisdom to will saves. It has a ton of flavor in the brief paragraph. If you have nosy players (you know players who are always trying to prepare by figuring out their enemies spells) throw a curve ball at them with Spell Bluff, which allows you to not only hide what you are casting, but trick people into believing you are casting different spells.

The Iron Word
The Genius Guide series keeps getting better and better and this is one of their most stellar supplements. Just about every class says secret or deceptive.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to Feats of Subterfuge
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The Genius Guide to Feats of Spellcasting
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/29/2010 10:13:01
I tend to be more critical of Feat books than other role playing supplements. Primarily because in the realm of feats we have seen it all before in some shape or form. Either it’s a slight various of a previous feat or an ability nabbed from a preexisting prestige class. In order for a feat book to be worthy of purchase, it has to contain material that can really bring out the personality in a character. It takes a special kind of creativity to make pack of feats stand out like that and Genius Guide to Spellcasting is in possession of this ingenuity.

The Genius Guide to: Feats of Spellcasting is a short 7-page book that saw the same old metamagic path to Feats for spellcasters and took a sharp turn on a dirt road right into dark forest. The result is a fantastic little supplement that will sure to make spellcasting classes stand out.

Feats of Spellcasting contains 28 very different feats that can be categorized as defining feats. That is, feats that, when performed, says a lot about the character you are playing.

For the Player
Signature Spell should be an early selection in casters’ feat selection process. It allows players to substitute spells for a specialty spell. For those who love combining classes, an essential feat is Synergistic Training which allows players to level their caster level with non-spellcasting classes.

For the Dungeon Master
Inspired by Dragon Age and sorely disappointed in the tabletop RPG, I have been looking for a good Blood Magic system and this is it. It is a very easy system for incorporating blood magic into a game without redefining classes.

The Iron Word
Spellcasters are often neglected when it comes to feat books. They often have a small little list of metamagic feats that add little to nothing to the character. The Genius Guide to Feats of Spellcasting adds a good deal of depth to the caster classes. Though it may be slightly overpowered for some dungeon masters, it delivers on animating the feats of our spellcasting allies.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to Feats of Spellcasting
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Call of Cthulhu: Snows of an Early Winter
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/25/2009 23:38:47
Most good fantasy writers fall into a Lovecraftian black hole when they attempt anything out of the sword and sorcerer genre.

Unlike fantasy adventures, most historic and modern settings come off as unbelievable and unplayable when large chunks of combat are the focus. Thus, adventure writers need to have a good command of plot and player options.

Snows of an Early Winter, by Super Genius Games, is a new adventure for the Call of Cthulhu game system by Chaosium, Inc. Simply, it’s a textbook template of what adventures set in similar setting should be light. Never again will you want to plod through a straight line linear adventure.

What the 118-page adventure does so well, is allow players to really explore the complex characters that Call of Cthullhu allows you to create. To that extent, you can use this adventure in any similar horror system, such as unearthed arcane or a Supernatural RPG, and still provide your players a smart, fun experience. The game design techniques instituted in Early Winter implore the Keeper to have as many options available for their players. Most writers would not dare to use this style, because they would be so worried that a few of their encounters would not be used. However, this extra writing allows the players to investigate leads they want to pursue and chase clues that they have worked hard to gain.

Four plot hooks are introduced to draw in the players, each hook leading to a different starting location. From there, the writer uses a tier system to insure that a steady flowing plot is maintained, but provide an abundance of things for players to do. There are five tiers, each tier has multiple encounters. If the players follow certain leads, perform their own research or ask the write person, they may be led to other encounters. The adventure is so smartly written, that I can not tell you what the overall plot is, because, the exact details will change depending on what clues, paths and research the players decide to follow. What I can say is that the players will be traversing all over the city of New York to stop a huge evil that is to occur by Halloween.

Another technique utilized is a small chart that the Keeper maintains throughout the adventure. It has a few powerful figures on it. Depending on the evidence collected, who the investigators chatted with and where they go, some powerful beings may take more of an interest in the party. Another cool thing the writer adds is a way to integrate the players’ role-playing into the game. Depending on how the players ask questions they will receive different responses. Physical violence may result in one thing whereas being nice may provide a different response.

Unfortunately, Early winter sometimes feels like a prized show dog whose owners are horribly abusing it. Poor editing in places makes several of the encounters fairly hard to figure out. The same NPC is referred to by several different names, creating a bit of confusion when trying to understand a very detailed encounter. The layout is horrendous in places. Every adventure should have proper bookmarking. An adventure that requires you to continuously move to earlier presented encounters needs bookmarking. Even more confounded is the layout of designer notes and textboxes. They seem to be thrown in without any regard to the text. Some textboxes are clearly appendixes that have nothing to do with the main adventure. Some should be placed further in the adventure or earlier in the adventure.

For the Investigator
This is an investigator’s adventure. It will be one of the few times in your gaming life where you can do something on your character sheet and not feel like you are detouring the story or feel like you have broke the module.

For the Keeper
Outside of all the intricate game design techniques, the adventure provides fun handouts for the players. Newspaper clippings provide small plot leads, web pages show clues and other handouts provide crisp visual aids.

The Iron Word
Score the strong material one point over bad editing. I ran this adventure with several Cthulhu novices and one player who hates anything non-fantasy. It was pretty unanimous that it was one of the best times they have had gaming. Those who enjoy Lovecraft will eat up the absolute dread presented in every encounter. Fans of Clue, or, for that matter mystery theater, will find the mix of suspense and light game mechanics very fun. Whether its as an introductory adventure of a part of a longer campaign, Snows of an Early Winter captures the feeling of unknown famous with Cthulhu.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu: Snows of an Early Winter
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Dragon Age RPG, Set 1
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/14/2009 21:56:07
You have to really like Dragon Age the video game/computer game to want to play Dragon Age the tabletop RPG.

Dragon Age, the video game, is a great role playing game that captures the old school feel of party based games. Dragon Age, the tabletop game, published by Green Ronin, takes the epic tale of Dragon Age and bastardizes your intense memories of battling the darkspawn with system that feels very uneven.

Video games just do not equate into tabletop RPGs too well. Rarely is it successful, and Chris Pramas, of Warhammer RPG fame, tried to recreate his miracle with Dragon Age, which fails more miserably than most adaptations.

Dragon Age: the First Set contains two PDFs, a players guide and a dungeon masters guide, and a map of Ferelden, the world of Dragon Age. The two PDFs are less than 70 pages. If you think this is small for a complete system, you are absolutely correct, it is too small. The game is greatly undeveloped.

But lets start with the good. If there is a savior for this system, it’s that the story of Dragon Age and the artwork are simply amazing. The story of the blight, at its surface, is a strong homage to Lord of the Rings. But the world is very detailed and the history can inspire adventures for some time. The artwork feels as if it was lifted from the amazing graphics in the game.

However, most people will not buy a game based on its story and artwork, and this is where Dragon Age falters. I get a feeling that Green Ronin were given specific orders from Bioware to make this game as unDungeons and Dragons as possible. It is too faithful to a video game. As with most RPGs games for Video Game systems, the statistic element is made fairly simple. After all, there are only so many buttons on a controller. Characters do not have any more options than the buttons of the game system allow. The limitations of a videogame are counteracted by the video game’s ability to produce intense combat after intense combat with spectacular graphics. Oddly enough, there are some places in character creation where you have more control over how your character is created in the video game than in the tabletop RPG.

It amazes me that anyone with experience in tabletop RPGs thought it was a good idea to give this same limited number of options to the player. The limitations begin when you roll your ability scores, and there’s not provided option of getting rid of low scores. According to the rules, if you rolled a character with 8 stats below 5 you keep that character. You then choose from one of the seven backgrounds, some of which have an option to play as elf or human. Your background gives you a set number of abilities and focuses and 2 absolutely random abilities based off of your race. Why you are not able to choose these abilities is never explained. You then are allowed to choose from three classes. There is some slight variety in the focuses you choose, but for the most part, one rogue will probably be designed fairly similarly to another. At various levels, the three different classes can choose a different talent, spell or focus. Talents are special abilities similar to feats, and focuses are skills the player has that are based on one of the eight abilities. Characters are finalized when they choose their equipment, or, actually they are assigned their equipment based on your character class.

As stated, the system is based on a 3d6 system. That means your roll can range from 3 to 18, however, unlike most systems that have a wide range, you do not have skill ranks or points to greatly enhance this roll. You simply receive a +2 if you choose a focus that relates to the reason you are making a particular skill test. Combat is pretty straight forward, and also relies on rolling 3d6’s. Players will need one of the dice to be a different color as it represents the dragon dice. If you both succeed on an attack roll and roll doubles the third dice is checked against a chart and a stunt happens. Magic uses a mana point system where players pick spells and roll a stress test when they cast the spell to see if their armor or other equipment interferes.

The Dungeon Guide is pretty basic material for what you would expect in a dungeon Guide. There’s information on how to make a plot, how to run a campaign, a few creatures and how to reward your party. There’s also a few charts for easy reference of system material and an adventure called the Dalish Curse, a very nice intro adventure designed by RPG Designer Steve Kenson.


For the Player
The system is very simple, and if you are looking at playing a video game like role-playing game, even more of one than Dungeons and Dragons 4e is, Dragon Age is an easy system to build a character and play. Building a character will take no more than 10 minutes.

For the Dungeon Masters
It’s nice to have goodies included. A complete adventure makes for an easy time your first go around. The charts are also a nice touch, as they prevent the need to make or buy an additional DM screen.

The Iron Word
If you loved the story that the video game Dragon Age presented, this is an obvious no brainer buy. The additional fluff of the book would go great when designing a campaign for any other system. For this material alone, fans will find their money well spent. However, as presented, the actual system drops the ball. Gone from the video game are the cool class tree system of the game and the ability to be unique characters such as dogs, golems and foreigners. Character options are few and far between and produce too many similar characters. Instead of going into more detail of the unique locales of the countryside, the Dungeon Book reprints basic Role Playing advice that an eight-year old who has played pretend should know. It also does not take advantage of being a tabletop RPG. As a person who is going through their second go around in the game, there are obvious flaws that could have been fixed. Classes could have been greatly expanded on, races from the other country could have been fleshed out and places where you only spend a little time could have been expounded on. Thank goodness the designers at Bioware created a fantastic story and game, because the crunch material alone would easily be well below a 3 star.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Age RPG, Set 1
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Encounters Series 6: Woman Trouble
Publisher: Corvus Lunaris Ltd
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2009 11:57:29
Corvis Lunaris LTD’s Encounter series promises quick encounters for those times that Dungeon Masters are pressed for material but have nothing prepared. However, if Encounter Series 6: Woman Trouble, is any indication, you better be severely pressed for material.

Woman Trouble is a short 20 pg. PDF of just two encounters. I have seen solid adventures of at least five encounters with less pages. The layout is one step below decent. White space and uneven columns makes a harder than should be read. Beyond this, and the lack of artwork, is the adventure.

The adventure is only average as far as detours go. The PCs go into a forest, they find a bad guy attacking an innocent person and they investigate. The result can be seen coming a mile away by any party that has played at least one session of Dungeons and Dragons. Few parties would even reach the second part of the encounter as they will figure out and deal with the rouse early.

For the Dungeon Master
The adventure is very salvageable. The writing is very informative and the writer tries to utilize the situation to the best of its ability. It’s just the situation is not very good. By replacing the creatures with ones that are more than a challenge and increasing the level of the rouse, the encounter will be more doable. There needs to be more than a simple creature ability that hides the true identity of the antagonist.

The Iron Word
Encounter Series 6: Woman Trouble, is probably challenging as is for a party under 4th level, but by no means will it interest an 8th level party without some work. The stable writing helps this product stay above water, but a touch of work is needed before introducing it into your game.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Encounters Series 6: Woman Trouble
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The Genius Guide to the Dragonrider
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2009 11:28:53
I come into this review with a bit of a bias.

I strongly believe that every campaign should have a point where the players get a shot at riding a dragon. In my current campaign, a player wants to utilize its new dragon buddy. She immediately perked up when I told her how cool of a supplement Super Genius Games has released with A Genius Guide to: The Dragonrider.

Dragonriders is a 13-page supplement that introduced a single class, The Dragonrider. Lets face it, the name of the game is Dungeons and DRAGONS. They are the iconic monster of the game. Every campaign I have completed, I have finished with a big battle with a dragon. Considering how powerful these creatures are, they are hard to ally with players. My current player had the delusion that she was going to train a dragon as a pet, and she soon learned that it was her who was the pet. Super Genius understands this, and has though the class mechanics of Dragonriders is pretty familiar with other dragon rider classes of 3rd edition ole, the idea to underpower the dragon and explain it with the flavor of bonding is super genius. Okay, maybe not genius, but a pretty smart and balanced idea none the less.

The class demonstrates a true bond. The Dragonrider gains spells and dragon like abilities while maintaining the dragon’s ability as a strong flying mount. As the pcs grows, so does the dragon. Stat progression and level packages are included to easily guide the reader. This is a complicated class, but the layout and detail are specific enough to guide even a novice player to creating a high level character.

For the Player
Flavor and mechanics unite to create the dragon riding class you have waited for. It runs balanced with the pathfinder classes, though the d10 hit die may be one step too many. I like the idea of the limited spells that go well with the dragon nature.

For the Dungeon Master
This feels more like a player class to provide a balanced dungeon rider. A DM would probably be best picking a normal dragon and npc if he is going to go the route of an npc riding dragon that will only make a guest appearance. However, if an NPC is going to travel with the party for a while, then using the dragonrider class would be the best way to insure party balance. There are stats provided for both good and evil dragons.

The Iron Word
A Genius Guide to: The Dragonrider is a superbly designed class that allows players to finally have that dragon mount without screwing with the balance of the game. The key comes in the dragon progression start and doing away with minor differences between the various dragons. Super Genius put a lot of work into one class and it shows with the Dragonrider.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to the Dragonrider
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[PFRPG] Paths of Power
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2009 10:30:25
Paths of Power: A sourcebook of Base and Prestige Classes, adds something new to your Pathfinder campaign. This time 4 Winds Publishing not just gives you class options, it introduces 12 whole classes to its fans.

Paths of Power drives the median line as far as Pathfinder class books go. There are six base classes, three prestige classes and, a rarity among supplement books, three new NPC classes. The base classes are a tad bit below the creative bar that 4 Winds has set in previous material. The Anti-Paladin is the opposite of a normal paladin with nothing overtly new to separate it other than a few changes to alignment based abilities. The Elemental Wizard replaces wizard specialized schools and adds elemental schools. The Gladiator, the most inventive and flavorful of the lot, is a fighter type class that excels based on a cool reputation mechanic and a superb array of weaponry. The Samurai class is one of the most researched and best implementations I have seen, introducing various bushido combat styles to the class. The latter two classes, Voyageur and Witch were not very impressive. The witch feels out of place in most traditional fantasy campaigns and the Voyageur has restrictions on his abilities that make little sense from a flavor point of view.

Supporting these classes are new skills, feats, spells and equipment. The whole point of pathfinder is to limit bloating, so introducing new skills seems a waste, especially skills like Handle Canoe. How many times in any campaign will anyone ever use such a skill? This would have been better implemented by making it an option for Survival. Most of the feats enhance the classes introduced in the book, primarily the samurai class, which is a good thing.

For the Player
The samurai and gladiator class are two of the best primarily classes. The samurai has a few different ways of fighting that makes each one created special. The Gladiator’s ability to use its charisma to aid in flavorful combat is a nice touch, and comes up much better than warlord type classes I have seen before. If you are looking to add some specific undead, assassin or scout flavor to a character you have now, look at one of the three prestige classes. Though they are not special, they are solid enough builds to add a bit of distinction.

For the DM
If you like to use NPC Classes, the three half-classes in this book will feel niches in your campaign. The best of which is the sycophant, which is a noble class that makes sense for non adventuring nobles.

The Iron Word
Paths of Power: Base Classes and Prestige Classes has a dozen flavorful classes with several falling short in the mechanics department. However, 4 Winds knows how to produce a complete product, and by including skill uses, feats and spells to support the new classes, makes Paths of Powers a campaign enhancing buy.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Paths of Power
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you very much for the review!
Feats 101 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/01/2009 12:50:46
After eagerly reading through Feats 101 this morning, I wanted to send it to other publishers who are making books of Feats to show them how it is done. Feats 101 is a true feats supplement for the Pathfinder System. The 30 page supplement is neatly filled with 101 feats to enhance your characters. It is the best book of feats released for the system so far.

Feats 101, written by Steven D. Russell and published by Rite Publishing, is delicately laid out. A feat table precedes the feat listing, listing the feats in alphabetical order, with exception for feat chains, which are listed with their preceding feat. The table is written very concisely. Whereas many feat books attempt to save space by briefly, and often inaccurately, posting a blurb description of the feat in such a table, Feats 101 goes the extra mile of including at least a two sentence explanation of the feat function. Not to be outdone, the layout also includes useful bookmarks that allow the reader to navigate by alphabet.

I touched briefly on it earlier, but the writing of clearly needs to be emphasized. With a good many of the feat related material released for Pathfinder, I can tell that a few of the feats were pulled from the OGL world. With Feats 101, it felt like the writer clearly thought about the Pathfinder system, and wrote them specifically for the system. Sure we have seen many similar feats in the OGL world, the writer goes a mile to distinguish them and make the book worth the purchase. The writer even introduced four new types of feat types that are inherently designed for the Pathfinder system. Combat Maneuver feats take advantage of the Combat Maneuvers, Bonded Feats enhanced bonded animals, Talent Feats are feats taken at 1st level that help define a character and Spell-Touched Feats provide magical powers to characters.

For the Player
There are only two spell touched feats, but, boy are they a nice. One allows players to redirect spells; the other allows players to avoid certain energy spells. Players who like sorcerers will enjoy using the new sorcerer bloodline feats. I like the idea of the draconic bloodline influencing the energy of the spells cast.

For the Dungeon Master
If you’re making creatures with character levels, particularly sorcerer, the bloodline feats allow you to inject a bit more flavor into them. I also enjoyed several new Metamagic feats that allow energy spells to take on additional effects like Freezing a target or causing acid to seep through armor.

The Iron Word
This is the only complete feat book I have allowed in my campaign, and I consider myself a strict DM. Feats 101 contains feats that enhance characters mechanically and flavorfully without overshadowing the other players. If this is an example of the type of supplements Rite Publishing is going to produce for Pathfinder, we can look forward to more products.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats 101 (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks Nathan for taking the time to do the review (and so quickly after its release too, This really made my day. Steve Russell
Undefeatable 8: Druids (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2009 13:26:50
I have a feeling that when writers Simon Rocquette and Louis Porter Jr. of Louis Porter Jr. Design got together, they decided that their feat books would go against the grain of traditional. Undefeatable 8: Druids, is a clear example of not doing what has been done before.

Undefeatable 8: Druids is a short six-page PDF of 31 feats for the druid class, though some can be used by other nature focused characters. As with the previous books in the Undefeatable series, the feats are quite unique. Most druid feats center around the druids Wild Shape ability, so it was incredibly refreshing that only a couple of feats actually do anything with the Druids Wildshape. Instead, the book builds useful feats around the other often ignored qualities of the druid. Readers will notice a lot of focus on fey and fey magic in addition to feats that play a lot with the Druid’s Animal Companion. Many more feats naturally progress the druid to its nature origin, making it feel like a hybrid with a ranger.

For the Player
The Sight feels like a must have feat for a Druid. A single feat that allows the player natural aura detection skills without wasting a spell slot.

For the Dungeon Master
Fey often get ignored in games, despite being the oldest and most powerful type of creatures in most campaigns. A druid flavored campaign utilizing this supplement would benefit greatly from an infusion of Fey.

The Iron Word
Undefeatable 8 maintains the quality of the LPJ Designs brand. The feats mechanically improve and flavorfully infuse the Druid class.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Undefeatable 8: Druids (PFRPG)
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Supernatural Adventures
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2009 13:06:15
Supernatural plots can be summed down to episodic adventures where the detectives get to kill the bad guys instead of taking them to jail. There is always a complication to the straight forward approach the Winchester brothers take and, usually, they manage to overcome this complication.

Supernatural Adventures brings five stories attempts to mimic this formula, however, there just feels like something is missing.

Supernatural Adventures provides five unrelated adventures for you to run your Supernatural RPG group through. The 96 page PDF is well bookmarked, and very well laid out. As these are mystery stories, it is hard to describe them without giving too much away. Red Ghost finds the characters in the desert researching a mysterious murder, Transmutations has the characters helping out a mutual friend in a bad situation, Hell Hounds has the PCs mowing down DMs and helping out a stranger, His Lesser Half is a straight forward location chase as you track a dark evil and Synchronicity revolves around the PCs and another hunter.

Each adventure is broken up into Acts, which are broken up into scenes. The author does a nice job of separating out what the problem is, how the PCs may solve it and what the role of the Gamemaster is. The adventures themselves are solid, but lack the spookiness I want in my Supernatural game. The Red Ghost in particular felt like a Scooby Doo episode as opposed to a deadly adventure. All of these adventures need more dead bodies to emphasize the threat of the evil.

In addition to more dead, Supernatural Adventures lacks any pregenerated characters , a standard in any adventure book. Though there are a few handouts in the game, two more per adventure would have been even better. Especially considering that most of the adventures are research and the players deserve a payoff.

The Game Master
Each adventure is exceptionally organized. I found them all easy to read through and run. The adventure the best captured the feel of Supernatural was His Lesser Half. I also ran Transmutation but had to do a lot of work to it to make it creepier.

The Iron Word
Supernatural Adventures supplements the Core Supernatural book well. The adventures are well organized and paced, but lack the darkness of some of the stronger episodes of the show. It also lacks player characters which means a bit more work for the gamemaster.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Supernatural Adventures
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review! We've been thinking of a web enhancement for the book that includes pregenerated characters. The free quickstart, in the meantime, does provide four pregens: the Winchester brothers, as well as newcomers Daniel and Jenny. This group of four would be ideal for the five scenarios in Supernatural Adventures. In addition, we're planning to release sheets for the GhostFacers (the reality TV rookies from the show), and potentially Jo Harvelle and Ash.
Supernatural Role Playing Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2009 12:44:51
Supernatural is one of the best fantasy horror shows to come along since the Whedonverse brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Through its five seasons, it has developed an intriguing mythos revolving hunters and the things that hide in the dark. More than any other television series, Supernatural is perfect for a Role Playing game, having already established that there are dozens of hunters, maybe even hundreds, all over the world.

Margaret Weis Productions, following up its successful Serenity and Battlestar Galactica RPGs with Supernatural the RPG, by far the best presentation of the publisher’s Cortex system, despite lacking some of the resources of the previous mentioned RPGs.

At its heart, Supernatural is an action horror RPG. Players create a group of individuals who, for some reason or another, are together chasing evils throughout the country. In previous “television RPGs” group interaction feels forced, as shows like Battlestar and Serenity rarely focus on the entire group doing anything in cohesion. Often times, those RPGs have you splitting up 3 or 4 different ways to best utilize the characteristics of an individual player. Supernatural has frequently introduced the idea of teams of hunters on the show, so players feel right at home working together within the spirit of the show. A researcher could be right next to an gun toting hunter and still have something to contribute to a situation.

The PDF is 186 pages, well laid out and book marked and covers every aspect of the RPG. There is material for game masters and players. The Cortex system is suitable system for role-playing heavy RPGs. Because players are not dealing with static statistics that need to be added with specific dice, it is easier to teach someone new to RPGs. The six basic stats in the game are given a specific die, as are skills, perks and compilations. You simply roll that die when a relevant check comes up and you match the results against a standard chart that ranges from easy to impossible. As with other Cortex games, players receive plot points, which allow them to altar the die used and effect the story aspects of the game.

The material comes together well, but lacks enough pregenerated characters, something that made Serenity far easier to set up a campaign. The only characters included are the four main characters from the show.

For the Game Master
There are stats for all level of supernatural as well as animals and ordinary people. The Game Master section does a comprehensive job of describing how a game is run. It really made running the first game very easy.

For the Player
The beauty of the Cortex system is its ease of use. Making a Rookie character takes 15 minutes. It also is a horror RPG system above being a “Supernatural” property. I had a player tell me she hated the show Supernatural, but had a ball playing the RPG.

The Iron Word
Supernatural plays to the strengths of the Cortex system. The action horror RPG’s simple explanations and attention to flavor put players in the world of Supernatural. Regardless on if you are familiar with the show, you will appreciate the nuances the system brings to a game where you are a hero hunting down the evils of a modern world.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supernatural Role Playing Game
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review, Nathan! We hear you on the pregenerated character front. Perhaps a standalone web enhancement with more characters would be helpful?
Mega-Feats Revisited
Publisher: Skortched Urf' Studios
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2009 14:05:41
Usually a revision is a chance to improve upon the original product. It is an opportunity to fix errors, add those nuggets that you regretted leaving out and include tidbits you only recently realized. Mega-Feats Revision, a revised version from the poorly reviewed Mega-Feats: New Paths to Victory, gains little if any new ground, improving some areas and taking a huge leap back in others.

The 87-page book that lacks any type of PDF navigation contains over 250 feats that are taken from the first two Mega-Feats books. Gone are the weapon, item creation and weapon specialization feats. Unlike the first book, Mega-Feats Revision is not organized in the least, with all 250 some odd feats crammed together alphabetically. There is no table of contents or description table so you will have to read through the feats to see if there are any you like. The layout is a mixed bag, with nicely aligned columns blended with good to horridly cropped pictures.

There is still quite a bit of explicit material in the book even without the Iron Forge stuff (a group of feats that often allowed you to have robotic sexual organs). There are feats on sexual positions, homosexuality and sex magic. There are more than 20 feats that deal with sex. There is a noted maturity in the writing, but there still needs to be some type of warning.

This time, the number of good feats balance out the excess, creating a good product that you will have to really explore the material to find what you are looking for. They have done a good job of converting feats to benefit the Pathfinder system. With so many feats I am pretty sure that a good many can easily be exploited by power gamers, but if you have power gamers, why are you allowing feats from other sources.

For the Player
Clerics rarely get any love in feat books, so its nice to see a good many divine feats in the book. Divine Marriage and Divine Midwife are quite clever and the Anointed Cleric feels like a must have feat for clerics. Its an example of what Mega-Feats does well and that is create flavorful feats.

For the Dungeon Master
The Vampiric Metamagic feats are another set of unique feats I have not seen before. They allow spells to feed off of the shedding of blood.

The Iron Word
Mega-Feats: Revision fixes a ton of the maturity and writing errors from the first book, but fails to provide a book that is easy to navigate. There are dozens of really fun, flavorful feats in this book, but do note you are going to have to spend some time to get to them. Still, many of these feats can define campaign long villains and makes it well worth the purchase.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mega-Feats Revisited
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Scaldcrow Generic: Town of Alliancia
Publisher: Scaldcrow Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2009 14:05:51
The word “Generic” means more than plain or ordinary.

In the gamer world, it is a challenge. The publisher is saying that their product has achieved the holy grail of being easily adaptable from one system to another.
Scaldcrow has laid down such a challenge with the latest entry in their Scaldcrow Generic: Fantasy Landscape line, the Town of Alliancia.

The 36-book claims on the cover that it is a supplement for all systems. However, its pages tell a different story.

The town of Alliancia presents a fantasy town ready for you to plop into your campaign world. During the initial pages, there is a conversion guide to indicate how npcs rank on power level and skills to your party. A set of skulls indicate how dangerous they are. If Alliancia just included flavor, it would be a great supplement. The city comes alive with colorful characters, detailed history and a landscape marred by war that seems rich for adventuring. There are dozens of locations in Alliancia, all briefly written about with inhabitants and stories that serve as fun adventure hooks. The product is marred however, by its inability to be generic. The conversion charts are confusing to follow, as it is a difficult system to convert to another system. It would have been far easier if the writer had used a smaller scale and more generic words.

Its easy to determine that the authors didn’t use a smaller scale or more generic terms because this product leans heavily, if not was first created for, the Dark Fantasy of Sundrah Rule system (also by Scaldcrow games) and the author decided it would be more marketable to create a conversion chart and make deem it generic. Over half of the book is statblocks to play the npcs in the Sundrah system.

For the Dungeon Master
Disregard the npc stats and the Sundrah system tidbits and you have a flavorful city with a lot of life for your pcs to inhabit. Its very well thought out, things like trade commissions and land lot commissions are a nice touch. And adventure hooks like the Lumberjack’s obstacles in the north can greatly be built on.

The Iron Word
So no, this product is not 100 percent generic. As a matter of fact its barely 50 percent generic. But that 50 percent provides a nicely designed, fantasy town for any campaign.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Scaldcrow Generic: Town of Alliancia
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[PFRPG] The Book of Divine Magic
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2009 13:25:03
Like Church and State, I like my supplements separate from campaign books. The least conversion that I have to do the more I like a product. The Book of Divine Magic, the second supplement from 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, makes the fatal flaw of combining campaign information with supplemental material and, if not for the great writing and creative spells, that flaw may have sunk the Thomson’s second effort.

Instead, The Book of Divine Magic is a imaginative book of spells that is slightly hampered by a needless inclusion of new gods. Divine Magic begins by describing 21 new gods for your campaign and the domains associated with them. In what we can only hope is the norm, the writing is engaging and the Gods are not poorly created, only not needed. Most DMs using the Pathfinder system either have their set of gods chosen for their campaign or are using the dozens of gods included in the corebook. Obviously most of the gods in Divine Magic duplicate the role of established gods in a traditional campaign. Do not get me wrong, the descriptions of these gods and personalities are unique and different and two or three could be introduced into a campaign as small cults or from foreign lands. The new Domains are fairly weak considering 4 Winds previous material. Only three are exciting enough to include in an established campaign; the Dream, Time and Pleasure domains.

Fortunately, once you pass the first 1/5 of the book, you find material that is easier to integrate into a campaign. With twice the number of casters to make spells for than in their first book, Divine Magic takes the flavor of each class to reflect the new spells. Spells are given names that relate to religion for clerics and paladins and given names that relate to nature for rangers and dwarves. Some spells play to the more priestly cleric, some to the warring harbinger, some to the preservationist druid, some to the fury druid, etc. Chapter 3 introduces temples and despite crisp descriptions of the worshiping places of gods, that can be translated to other gods, there is not enough detail. The structure or hierarchy of the church is ignored as well as other information such as unique titles and artifacts. This chapter does round out with feats, and if it is one thing I hear from my friends is that there are not enough feats for priests. They would have worked better if domains had been prerequisites instead of specific gods. Chapter 4 discusses new options for mounts and companions. There is even an option for priests to bring an animal messenger from their god. The Magic Items and Relics in the last section are flavored for specific gods but are potent and nice enough to be assigned to similar gods.

For the Player
This is the divine casters Toys R Us of spells. Its hard to pick any two to call my favorite but every priest I make would have body to body (protection for the whole party) prepared and every druid would have Greater Healing Stones (A new way to remove ability damage). There are some good feats included in this supplement. I like maximize channel for any cleric. Lay priest is pretty awesome for none divine casters, especially if you like making characters and keeping your party guessing.

For the Dungeon Master
Spells aside, giving clerics an animal companion with different flavor from other “companions” in the game is unique. This animal acts as a messenger from your god and provides some unique abilities.

The Iron Word
The Book of Divine Magic stumbles from the gate, but picks up steam once you get to the spell sections. Once it gets started it charges forward, with useful spells that add a bit of story when they are cast.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] The Book of Divine Magic
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Thank you for the review!
[PFRPG] The Book of Arcane Magic
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2009 12:07:42
The impressive Book of Arcane Magic sneaks up on you.

It pretends to be just another book of spells, However, presented in its pages, in addition to dozens of flavorful new spells, are some potent, and balanced options for your Pathfinder game.

Published by 4 winds Fantasy Gaming and written by Connie J. Thomson and Robert W. Thomson, The Book of Arcane Might: A Sourcebook for Bards, Sorcerers & Wizards is a 70-page trove of cool things for your arcane magic users. It begins by presenting the over 100 spells in the book, and for once, it offers something different. Where most spell books just go for more powerful versions of current spells or spells that are designed to break or near break the game, Arcane Might goes a different route. Instead, a good many of their spells are designed to add flavor to a character. Many of the spell names are simple, descriptive and jovial. The spells alone would be worth the price of admission. Heck, most companies would have probably just divided the spells and rest of the book into two supplements for the same price.

The Colleges of Magic section introduced eight colleges of magic that a PC can be from. Again, fluff takes center stage here. New Sorcerer blood lines come into play in Chapter 3 that offer a different perspective on the types of blood that power a sorcerer than the perspective in the core book. Some appear close in name to those bloodlines but the flavor and abilities are fairly distinct. Chapter 4s Familiars emphasizes the books mission of flavor over powergaming with familiar classes that move beyond the generic “dog” or “cat” but utilizing exotic breeds that offer similar level but different skills than traditional familiars. The final section lists magic items that are again useful and detailed.

For the Player
Players can do so much with some of these bloodlines. My favorite is the Lycanthropic bloodline. Also, the bardic spells and schools introduced make the Pathfinder Bard even more fun to play.

For the DM
You can really stamp evil on a new NPC by giving them the Nightmarish or Scaly bloodline and limiting it in your game. You can build an entire campaign around the Nevermore and Forever More memory altering spells.

The Iron Word
The Book of Arcane Might is a fantastic thesis on how spells can be both useful and packed with inspiring description. Its packed with spells and useful tools for casters that can further define a character or a campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] The Book of Arcane Magic
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Publisher Reply:
Many thanks for the review!
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