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Campaign Guide - What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2016 07:56:17

Designed as a GM resource (players, stay well away!), it's not actually necessary to run the Adventure Path but provides additional material that will enhance your game and offer wider options. It also gives the author a platform to share some of his ideas about underlying thoughts and concepts, a bit of a peek behind the curtain that may prove of interest - but does not, of course, dictate how it should be played.

The work is made up of six sections, beginning with Campaign Background. Compared to the backstory sections in the first three installments of the Adventure Path itself, this is a bit of a swift summary, capturing the high points and showing you how everything hangs together... and it all begins when a mismatched group of fledgling adventurers takes shelter from a storm in a ramshackle country inn. A synopsis of each adventure in the Adventure Path follows, highlighting important incidents and NPCs that you should bear in mind as the series progresses.

Next is a section on Running the Campaign, which looks at both in-game and out-of-game facets of the process. There's a lot here, beginning with the twin themes of thriller/horror and epic fantasy - and the need to maintain some level of good taste at your table. Some aspects may prove difficult for young or sensitive players and they are discussed here: points to bear in mind, but of course you know your players and what they can handle. The ramifications of the rarity of divine magic in the setting is discussed along with the general dim view that is taken of religion altogether. Signs and portents, rewards and punishment, redeption and atonement are all covered along with major NPCs, using 'reputation' and more.

This is followed by notes on the City Setting and a detailed City Gazetteer. Your party will spend a fair bit of time here, so it is worth getting to know it well so that you can present it to them effectively. There are maps and notes on locations and people the length and breadth of the city, along with details of law enforcement, crime and punishment and, well, everything you'll need to make the place come alive as a backdrop for the adventures.

Then there are suggestions for Alternate or Adjusted Campaigns. Perhaps there's something in the Adventure Path as written that you would like to change. Notes cover some of the headline aspects that you might want to vary, with ideas about how to go about it and how much such a change would alter the nature of the adventures (and indications of how much work you'd need to do to effect the change you have in mind). This is a refreshing change to most settings, where about the only thing touched upon is whether you want to run the adventures in your own campaign world rather than the one provided. (That option is included in case you want to use another city, however!)

Finally, there are four side-trek adventures you can weave in to the overall plot and a Bestiary with full details of all novel creatures that show up during the course of the entire Adventure Path. The side-treks enhance the plot, although their omission won't spoil anything (and they are quite fun!), and it's nice to have all these ghastly critters gathered into one place! The download also includes a map pack with a glorious city map and a few other useful maps of places in which brawls might take place - always useful!

Overall, this provides a thoughtful companion to the Adventure Path and is well worth study both before and during the time you are running it.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Guide - What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
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Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/05/2016 12:53:33

Perhaps it's a mistake to read an adventure about blood sacrifices over lunch, but this twisted tale involves a priestess who is busy gathering blood for her own nefarious purposes. A brief background and adventure summary lays out what is actually going on, and some adventure hooks are provided to help you entice the party into dealing with this menace... although at least one of them is closely entwined with the political scene in the Midgard Campaign Setting, the intended location for this adventure. If that is not where your game is set, you may want to come up with a reason of your own for why the local villages feel obliged to pay tribute in the form of blood in the first place... it is apparently a regular ritual by devotees of the Red Goddess, but normally a willing (and non-lethal) offering rather than one that is demanded. Suitably adapted, it could make a good side trek if you are running Curse of Strahd.

The adventure opens with the village elders of Karvolia requesting the party's help. They regularly provide a blood sacrifice to the Red Goddess, but a new priestess has moved into the area and the last group of people who went to donate blood have not returned... and now a second tribute has been requested far earlier than normal. The people selected to make it have already left. The party will have limited time to gather information before they set off to the priestess's location, the Blood Vaults, to find out what's going on and ensure that the villagers return home safely.

There's a brief description of how to get to the Blood Vaults and a clear plan of the place with detailed room descriptions including monsters, treasure, etc. Two new monsters and the priestess - Sister Alkava - are described in full including game statistics; for other monsters you will have to consult the SRD, Monster Manual or in one instance Kobold Press's Tome of Beasts for any details beyond the bare name of the creature.

In essence, this is a fairly straightforward delve. The monsters - including Sister Alkava - are not inclined to conversation or negotiation, all will have to be engaged in combat. What makes it interesting is Sister Alkava's motivations and how this links in to the underlying politics of the power structures in the area. Removing her will certainly remove a considerable menance not just to the village of Karvolia but to the wider area as a whole, and the possibility of rescuing some of the villagers makes it even more worthwhile.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava for 5th Edition
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Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2016 08:19:19

The worthy intention of this book is to provide an array of ready-to-go scenarios for when you are too busy to spend time preparing for the next game. Crammed into a scant 27 pages, there are a dozen scenarios, each containing background information, adventure elements, area descriptions, and some ideas for continuing the story introduced in the scenario. They are classified by level, and are suitable for dropping in to whatever's going on in your campaign.

To save space, monster stat blocks are not provided, it is assumed that you have access to the Monster Manual and to the Tome of Beasts published by Kobold Press. However, what is excellent are the maps and plans provided along with the notes about what the party will find and what is going on in each scenario. Eachone starts with two or more 'adventure elements' which outline something that is occurring in the situation presented, something with which the party can interact. Several areas are then detailed, creative annotation of the plans provides insight in a consise manner, and each entry concludes with some questions that ought to inspire a few ideas for taking the adventure further.

So, has this achieved its purpose? As glorified encounters, each scenario works well and (apart from having to hunt up monster stats) you can run them with no more than a single read-through to discover what is taking place and how to get your party involved in the action. All the scenarios present interesting and intriguing situations and should prove entertaining. One neat thing is that they are not pure combat - whilst those who are looking for a fight will not be disappointed, there are frequent opportunities for interaction and investigation as well. You might even choose to include one or more of them in your ongoing plot, but they are certainly worth keeping to hand for that day when the players turn up and you have not had time to prepare!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
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Cat & Mouse for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/03/2016 08:23:01

First level adventures have their own particular charm, with weak characters who will need to use wits as well as sword-arms and spellbooks to survive. This one, set in the City of Per-Bastet in the Southlands portion of the Midgard Campaign Setting, could make a good introductory adventure as it sends the party all over the city without presupposing that they've been there before. You may be able to find a suitable alternate location in your own campaign world: you need a desert city which is very fond of cats (or you will have to amend a lot of details in the adventure).

The adventure itself centres around a minor artefact and no less than three people (initially - others may join in once they get wind of it) who'd like to possess it. One of these key players hires the party to go after one of the others, who has already got hold of it (of course, she maintains that it was stolen from her...). It's up to the party what they do, they have a lot of freedom as to where they go and who they talk to in their quest. Depending on how they go about their business, a party could complete the entire adventure without bloodshed or find themselves in plenty of street-brawls. If they intend to stay in Per-Bastet their reputations will, of course, be established by their conduct. An interesting side-bar suggests how you can reward parties who prefer to use intrigue and cunning rather than force to achieve their ends. Those choosing force will, of course, gain XP based on their victories.

There are plenty of notes to help you set the scene, but if you are using the adventure as written in the city of Per-Bastet you can find even more details in the Southlands setting book also published by Kobold Press. Most of the action takes place in the Perfume District and there's enough of a map to give you an idea of its layout (think narrow twisting streets, crowds, stalls - pretty much a traditional North African/Arab souk!). There is also a good map of one of the antagonist's dwelling - a typical riad (house around a courtyard) - and one of a plaza outside a cat temple, as well as the somewhat bizarre lair of another personage who gets involved halfway through the tale, and a couple more for places the party is likely to visit.

The ending is open-ended: it is up to the party - assuming they get hold of the artefact - to decide what to do with it. Any choice will have its consequences, which will be of greater significance if they decide to stay in town... and should they have completed their business in some style, they will find themselves well on the way to being players themselves in Per-Bastet affairs. It's an excellent low-level adventure with the potential to kick off an epic campaign.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cat & Mouse for 5th Edition
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Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/01/2016 08:39:41

This adventure is based around an archaeological project in the Southlands (or indeed any suitable location in your campaign world - somewhere hot and dry with ancient long-dead cultures to explore, basically). There's plenty of background to set the scene, both notes on ancient times and the present-day excavations, including the group of scholars who will hire the party to explore the tomb. Now, you may say that your group wouldn't hire out like that, well, this was originally a convention scenario, but if you don't care for such constraints you'll have to come up with alternate reasons for the tomb to catch the party's attention - there are some suggestions for characters initially unwilling to sign up. On the other hand, hiring out may prove an attractive proposition for a relatively new group of adventurers (this is a 2nd-level adventure after all), and the first part of the adventure covers getting hired in the first place. For reasons made plain in the background information and throughout, even if the party doesn't choose to work for the group - Golden Falcon Antiquities - you will want to have them around.

OK, once they have signed up (or evaded GSA to undertake their own exploration), the next - and main - part of the adventure comprises the visit to the tomb itself, in two stages (above and below ground). It's a fifty-foot high pyramid with an adjacent mortuary temple which provides the entrance to the pyramid. Detailed descriptions and plans let you navigate your way through, although you do need to study the text closely to make sense of the plans.

The challenges to be faced include traps, puzzles, other visitors and undead... and needless to say, the place was constructed with an eye to dealing with tomb robbers in a permanent manner. And of course there is the odd curse or two as well!

Eventually, when the place has been investigated thoroughly (or the party has had enough!), they emerge into the light of day. If they had been hired by GFA they need to report back on their findings and collect their pay - if they choose not to, or were acting independently, they are likely to be hunted down and brought back to do so. Here it gets interesting, there are several alternate endings to pick from: decide which one works best for your campaign. At least one could lead to a whole campaignful of adventures. There's also some details of notable treasures the party might have acquired and a bestiary to introduce some novel monsters in full (their stat block also appear at the relevant point in the adventure).

This is an exciting excavation of the fantasy equivalent of an ancient Egyptian pyramid, with a good mix of standard tropes and novel ideas to maintain the atmosphere and yet surprise the party. A neat low-level adventure which could set the path for your party for a while to come, depending on the options you - and they - choose.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of Tiberesh for 5th Edition
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Deep Magic: Angelic Seals
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2016 09:11:13

Angels are the most powerful agents in the service of the gods, and the angelic seals and wards discussed in this book provide a means to harnessing their power through knowing the angels' names. Whether or not you subscribe to the Judeo-Christian view of angels - the fellows with wings wearing long gowns on Christmas cards - they apparently only serve good deities, and whilst they are not harmed by someone tapping into their power, they do notice and will object if it's done for evil ends.

Some definitions. A seal is the angel's very name inscribed in such a way as to draw on its power which flows through it into the individual who makes (or has) the inscription, or into a ward. We also have some angelic spells, variations of the seals that function like conventional spells, but which cross the boundaries between divine and arcane magic. It's a rare and specialised area of magic and short of training by someone who knows about them or chancing on a spellbook that explains the processes in enough detail, spell casters will not be able to figure them out on their own.

The best way to get into this form of magic use is to follow the Angelic Scribe arcane tradition, which is described here. There are also two feats which give more limited access. Following the tradition enables the individual to learn the actual seals - the angel's name written in Celestial in a specified format - and there's a list of them to choose from (you start off knowing just two of them). It takes ten minutes to draw one, or eight hours if you prefer to carve a more permanent version in stone. Only one seal can be activated at a time, though. The example seals are complex but beautiful (cruel DMs might make players draw them!) and each provides a different effect - choose wisely which ones you learn.

The new angelic spells presented are few - just one per level and a cantrip - and may be learned by clerics, paladins, warlocks and wizards who are lucky enough to find a written version (or be taught them). There is a mix of protective and offensive spells in the list.

This is an interesting and novel concept, bringing the traditional power of angels as a force for good into game terms elegantly and sympathetically. There's no indication of what an angel would regard as misuse of its power, nor what it would do about it - perhaps that's best left to the DM to determine in the light of divine power structures in their campaign world's cosmology. If the forces of good and evil feature large in your campaign, this is worth a look.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Angelic Seals
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Sanctuary of Belches for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/28/2016 09:08:19

Delightfully described as a 'temple delve' (because the party will be prowling round a temple rather than a dungeon), this adventure sends the party on a spot of tomb raiding. Of course, they are not the first, someone else started excavating first - a mixed bunch of dwarves and giants attracted by rumours of riches to be found in an abandoned temple. Needless to say, they have disturbed that which should have been left alone, and the party will have to pick up the pieces.

Someone - it's one of the giants actually - has found a large horn, and is insisting on playing it. The racket is dreadful and people from miles around are complaining. It's the sort of noise that makes you clap your hands over your ears, and it definitely scares the horses! A local village hires the party to go find out what the din is, and silence it.

The adventure is located in a remote northern area - any suitable remote place in your campaign world will do. It doesn't even need to be cold, although you'll have to amend some of the descriptions if you choose a warmer location. There's a note as to where it is in the Midgard Campaign Setting if you are using that.

Several encounters are provided for the journey from the village to the temple, there are a couple of basic maps for those and a plan for the temple - which is subterranean (you could probably get away with calling it a dungeon delve actually!), along with relevant descriptions and the basic details you need to run the encounters. Why 'basic'? Many of the monsters are drawn from Kobold Press' Tome of Beasts and while you get the bare bones of what they are capable of in the shape of a stat-block, if you want full details about them you will need to go get yourself a copy. It's a shade frustrating if you like to re-use new monsters first encountered in an adventure.

Once the party gets into the temple, there's a lot going on. Plenty of fighting, of course, but there are also opportunities to figure out what originally went on there, as well as what is happening now, and to talk to some of the beings encountered who may become unlikely allies if not slaughtered out of hand. Hopefully they will figure out enough of what's going on to deal with it... and avoid the belches!

There's a lot crammed in to a few pages here, there's even a history of the temple and a few new magic items as well as the adventure itself. It should prove entertaining, even if at least one of your players probably starts muttering "Gou'ald" at some point - you'll see what I mean when you read it, and they may well have provided inspiration. It's a nice solid delve to toss in at an appropriate point in your campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sanctuary of Belches for 5th Edition
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The Raven's Call for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2016 09:01:17

This adventure takes some staples of fantasy (and historical, for that matter) stories and weaves them into game form. At the core of things, there's a village. It is the party's job to defend them against a veritable horde of bandits who are out for food and other plunder rather than a brawl. It's the sort of thing that will make a successful party FEEL heroic, even if it doesn't contribute that much to party coffers.

There's quite a lot packed in to the adventure, which should occupy but a couple of days total of the party's time. Several hooks are provided to get them involved, interestingly it's best they start a fair way away from the village of Nargenstal, because once they get close enough to see what's going on, fighting is almost inevitable. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities for combat, but the adventure works best if the party has scouted and met survivors - they will become much more involved in the outcome if they know why they are fighting rather than operating in 'see monster, hit monster' mode. The range of options provided for ensuring that this happens is quite impressive - use as many as you like, in some ways the adventure is quite a sandbox in which what the party decides to do dictates how you'll run it.

As written, the adventure is located in the Midgard Campaign Setting, but it should be reasonable straightforward to transplant it into your own campaign world, although you might have to leave out some references - leylines, for example - unless you have them in your world too.

Resources are excellent, with lots of background and little snippets to help you bring the scene to life, and notes on how those the party will encounter will react - and fight, come to that. If there's anything novel about the combat, the relevant game mechanics are laid out clearly just where you need them. There's a nice sketchmap of the village itself (without many annotations, so it's player-safe) with a matching numbered list of locations and details, this being clear enough to follow even though there are no numbers on the map, and full floor-plans of the village inn. Some pre=generated characters are provided should you want to jump straight in.

Whilst it might seem a simple adventure, to run bandit invaders out of a village and get the locals back in, the whole thing is presented seamlessly with a compelling freshness that makes it a joy to run.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Raven's Call for 5th Edition
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Doctor Who - The Eighth Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2016 11:38:21

The Eighth Doctor was portrayed by Paul McGann, with limited appearances - a movie and a bunch of audio dramas, as well as novels and comic strips. As the original TV show ended in 1989, the movie was made in 1996 in an attempt to rekindle interest... although well-received, it's not until 2005 that the TV show returned to our screens. So you can argue that the Eighth Doctor is the longest serving incarnation.

This regeneration of the Doctor is an effortlessly charming fellow, dashing and romantic. Chapter 1: The Eighth Doctor and Companions provides plenty of detail about him and his role... thinking the Time War is over he revels in scampering around space and time and enjoys introducing new people to it, then when he discovers that it's not over and the Master isn't dead after all, he finds himself unsuited to the situation, becoming somewhat cynical. His companion in the movie was Dr Grace Holloway, a cardiologist committed to her profession and with a strong ethical bent, who was understandibly fascinated by the Doctor's two hearts! An interesting sidebar speculates about whether or not she's become immortal. Two others, Chang Lee and Cass, are also included, all four with full character sheets. There are also notes on the TARDIS, which apparently is a better navigator than it has been.

Next, Chapter 2: Designing Eighth Doctor Adventures provides plenty of resources for those interested in rising to the challenge of running adventures in the era of a Doctor who didn't actually have many adventures that we saw in the show - only his first and a little glimpse of his last were seen! Thinking the Time War was done, he threw himself into exploration, so that can provide a good platform for adventure. Parallels can be drawn with the real world of his time, when the Cold War was over and people worried about things like the Y2K bug that was supposed to bring computers to a juddering halt and predictions that the Second Coming was about to take place. Once the Time War restarted the universe began to unravel, and this could be used creatively to unravel some of the Doctor's past adventures, forcing your party to go and 'refix' things. An interesting thought, and there are plenty more in this chapter.

Chapter 3: The Eighth Doctor's Adventures examines the TV movie, with a thorough synopsis, notes on running it as an adventure, further adventures you could run based on it and notes on NPCs and gadgets. The short adventure The Night of the Doctor, which was the Eighth Doctor's final adventure, is covered in like fashion.

To make up for this paucity of material Chapter 4: Doom of the Daleks is a full-blown campaign you can run, no matter what sort of group you have. The Doctor has fallen victim to a Temporal Exterminator, a rather nasty weapon wielded by the Daleks that unravels your complete timeline. The Doctor asks for help - to save him, the party has to travel through his timeline and stop it unravelling before it comes completely apart and the Doctor dies. A prologue (which sets things in motion) and a full twelve adventures are provided. Most draw on the Doctor's previous adventures - this could prove an interesting way of running games for a group of players well-versed in Doctor Who!

The real gem here is the campaign, and that's well worth getting, even if you think there isn't enough material about the Eighth Doctor to justify a sourcebook, or don't regard the movie as being quite as canonical as the regular TV show. Revel in it, but don't let it all unravel!



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Doctor Who - The Eighth Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2016 07:42:54

This book focusses on the personality, companions and adventures of the seventh incarnation of the Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy. Some dismiss this Doctor as a mildly insane lightweight, others speak of hidden depths, of a sharp intellect and someone who tests and challenges everyone, enemy and ally alike. Read on and decide for yourself.

Chapter 1: The Seventh Doctor and Companions looks at the people and personalities involved. The Seventh Doctor himself is a mystery, mad professor (if you're being kind) on the surface, bumbling along and talking to himself, but this unprepossessing exterior hides an incisive mind with a deep understanding of space, time, and whatever situation he's got into at the time. He also has a novel approach to companions: they are fellow-travellers, expected to pull their weight, rather than assistants or strays he's picked up along the way. He sees, better than they do, what they can grow in to and 'encourages' them along the way. The companions discussed are Melanie Bush, Sabalom Glitz, and Ace (complete with homemade Nitro-9 explosives, of course). This chapter also contains full character sheets for this Doctor and the three companions. Finally, there are notes on the latest TARDIS.

Next, Chapter 2: Tools of the Trade rather oddly starts by analysing the sort of companions the Seventh Doctor prefers, with an eye to empowering you to come up with your own (if you don't want to use Mel, Glitz or Ace, that is). There are also ideas for alternative campaigns using this era as a basis - even ghost hunting and a crime spree are considered! We also get some new traits (good and bad), and of course new gadgets. Nitro 9 is mentioned, but mostly with a strong warning about leaving it well alone! There are no concrete game mechanics for it, it is just too powerful for its (your?) own good. There are some quite detailed notes on designing your own artefacts too, excellent if you fancy dreaming up some remarkable device to urge your plot along.

Then Chapter 3: Enemies takes a look at the opposition. Cybermen and Daleks, of course, there's also Fenric, the Master, and the Rani. Plenty of background detail, food for many a plot, and appropriate character sheets.

This is followed by Chapter 4: Designing Seventh Doctor Adventures. A wealth of advice here ranging from themes to the role of UNIT, adventure structure, getting scary, and general game mastering snippets.

And then we are on to Chapter 5: The Seventh Doctor Adventures. Here we find the standard pattern of adventure synopsis, notes on running the adventure, details of significant characters, monsters and gadgets involved, and finally suggestions for further adventures. Some may like to see how their group of players will cope with the actual adventures, others may prefer to use them as a jumping off point, perhaps using the suggestions for further adventures or drawing on something else that takes their fancy. Others will just revel in remembering past episodes (or discovering them for the first time depending on age and viewing habits back then!), but there's plenty here to enjoy whatever your intentions.

Again a comprehensive, definitive word on the Seventh Doctor. Sit back and be swept away once more...



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - The Sixth Doctor Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/21/2016 08:32:26

This book covers the tenure of the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker), detailing the adventures that he had and the companions that he shared them with. This was a flamboyant Doctor from a flamboyant time, with adventures involving Daleks, Cybermen, at least one of his earlier incarnations and culminating in his being put on trial by the other Time Lords on Gallifrey.

Chapter 1: And Not A Moment Too Soon! takes a look at the style, the look and feel of this Doctor's adventures. In personality brash and over-confident, the Doctor could be quite difficult to get along with, frightening even. He viewed the universe as a place that was getting darker, and wasn't sure whom he could trust, perhaps not even his companions. This could make him difficult to run as an NPC. This wasn't helped by discovering that his own people were as bad as the rest of the universe's inhabitants, corrupt and meddling: all the things the Doctor has stood against. There's plenty of discussion here to help you get everything straight, and even a few adventure seeds that might spark ideas.

Next, Chapter 2: The Sixth Doctor and Companions presents character sheets for the Sixth Doctor, Peri and Mel and, of course, the TARDIS... a pretty wilful beast in this incarnation. There are a few new traits and the like as well.

Then the main body of the book is given over to Chapter 3: The Sixth Doctor's Adventures. Starting with a comprehensive synopsis there are sections on running the adventure, new creatures and game mechanics introduced during it, NPCs and gadgets; finishing off with further adventures (in quite brief outline) that could spin off from the actual one being discussed. As always, it's slightly strange. Do you want to recreate an adventure directly from the show? At least some of your players may have seen it. On the other hand, many of them are cracking adventures and even if your players did see it they may not have perfect recall. The follow-up adventures will need quite a lot of work to become playable. Yet this chapter provides a marvellous account of what happened during the Sixth Doctor's tenure, and makes fascinating reading for that alone.

Chapter 4: The Trial of a Time Lord covers, in extensive detail, the pivotal time when the Doctor was placed on trial on Gallifrey. There's loads of background and details of four complete adventures... and then ideas for where you can take your campaign next. This section is jam-packed with ideas about how you can weave elements of this story into your own plots (or, of course, make use of it entire).

Finally an Appendix looks at The Sixth Doctor and the Time War. This overarching event has its beginnings in the time of the Fourth Doctor and rumbles on even up to the present-day show. You may choose to ignore it, taking each adventure in isolation or you may prefer to weave it throughout your storyline. Here you will find plenty of ideas for doing just that - even if the Doctor, at this point, doesn't know much about it.

Full of ideas for adventure, this book should keep a group interested in this era, Gallifreyan politics or the Time War busy for a long, long time.



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Doctor Who - The Sixth Doctor Sourcebook
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Deep Magic: Ley Lines
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2016 08:01:57

Ley lines are channels of magical energy that criss-cross the land - many people in the real world believe they exist, so it's reasonable to suppose that you can find them in worlds where magic is real! Here, they are accessible to casters of both arcane and divine magic. Details of where they are to be found (along with a note on their presence in the Midgard Campaign Setting) and how they are detected are accompanied by notes on how they are actually used - basically, a caster taps into ley line energy to provide a burst of power to the spell he is casting at the time. The effects can be a bit unpredictable, but a caster can 'lock' a particular ley line to get rather more consistent results.

If you do use the Midgard Campaign Setting there's a map showing where the ley lines are. If you don't use it, the map will serve as an example of how to distribute them across the surface of your chosen campaign world.

Tapping in to a ley line requires specialist knowledge, provided by taking the appropriate feat (or by studying with a geomancer during downtime), and a die roll to measure the level (if any) of success. Random effects can be obtained even from a 'locked' ley line if the roll to tap the line is not very good. Several tables, based on how powerful the ley line is, are provided to supply the random effects... and if the roll is really bad the caster can suffer backlash effects!

There are two feats to choose from, as well as the geomancer arcane tradition for those who want to immerse themselves in the study of ley line magic. Unlike many traditions, it is not a specialisation of itself, but intensive study of how to use ley lines irrespective of what sort of magic is being cast. Some practitioners of magic rather look down on geomancers due to the nature of their studies - but I can see how it's a potentially useful discipline, especially as they appear to be the only people with the ability to lock a ley line to themselves.

We then come to a collection of ley spells, which are available to druids, sorcerers, warlocks and wizards. Apparently despite the 'pure energy' nature of ley lines, other spell-casting classes do not have access to these spells - it's not clear whether or not they can access the ley lines themselves given the appropriate knowledge. Each spell has a full description and the necessary game mechanics to use it.

This is an interesting and nuanced exploration of ley line magic, which should make it straightforward to introduce it into your game.



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Deep Magic: Ley Lines
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Deep Magic: Illumination
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/18/2016 08:40:03

Invented it is said by the shadow fey, illumination magic mixes astrological observation with an elemental-style manipulation of light and shadow to track the paths of fate and control light and the absense of liight. At its most practical level, it uses the stars to predict when danger is near, and then draws on the power of darkness to attack their foes. It's an obscure school of magic, barely known outside the shadow realms.

The work opens with the abilities granted to practitioners of this school of magic. Whilst it is necessary to be able to see the stars frequently to gain various powers, many of them actually work best in total darkness. There's a single feat - Star and Shadow Reader - which enables the mage to track and interpret what's going on in the stars, and a spell list followed by details of each spell and the game mechanics necessary to use them to effect. Spells are practical and in the main offensive, as in designed to be used in combat. There's quite a necromantic flavour as well, which some people may find off-putting.

A fully-developed NPC illuminator (as practitioners of this school of magic term themselves) is also provided. She's quite intriguing and an encounter with her would make a good way to introduce illumination magic into your game.

It's quite an inventive form of magic with considerable potential. There is little background to how it came to be and how it interacts with the rest of magical knowledge, you will have to figure out how it fits into your world and its cosmology, but it is a neat way to combine the concept of reading fate in the stars with some practical in-game application.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Illumination
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Deep Magic: Void Magic
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/17/2016 07:24:18

Many creation myths speak of the universe coming into existance when some all-powerful being spoke words into a void - what if that void's still there and you can find out some of the words that will bestir it into doing something? That's what void magic is all about. Sounds tasty... but those who look into the void tend to go mad, so beware!

The school of void magic hinges on being able to master void speech. It's pretty dangerous, after all the void is a big nothing, oblivion... and by using void speech you give oblivion a form. It's pretty nasty even when not mixed with magic, and the written word is not much better. Expect bleeding eyes and the very paper degrading in front of you. Even when used with the best intentions, void magic tends to nasty consequences. It's hard to learn although apparently aboleths are quite good at it. Void magic spells are also hard to learn. You don't pick them from a list, you have to be taught them by someone else or find them in a scroll or captured spellbook. For those using the Midgard Campaign Setting there are some notes on the best places to find those who can speak void speech and who might know some interesting spells.

Still want to dabble? Only wizards are able to learn void magic, and there are a couple of feats to aid them. There's also an arcane tradition,, the Void Speaker, that you can follow. Next we get a very short spell list, a couple of cantrips then one or two spells at 1st to 9th level, followed by their full descriptions and necessary game mechanics. That's pretty much it, although Void Speakers have the ability to weave a few words of void speech into any spell and cause temporary insanity as well as whatever the spell is supposed to do - nasty.

It's an interesting concept but one possibly best confined to your NPCs (until someone steals a spellbook and starts leafing through it...). It reads a bit like a hasty summary of an idea that has been better developed, more is needed if you want to make void magic an integral part of your game. For example, what are the effects of studying void magic for any length of time? A mechanism for staying sane would be helpful after all the vague threats of it being dangerous to use, although the effects on other people are covered adequately. Even just wandering around muttering in void speech can make people frightened of you. (Wonder if that works on students?)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Void Magic
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Pirates of Drinax: Theev
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/15/2016 12:58:40

In the middle of the Sindal Subsector you'll find the three systems that make up the Theev Cluster. Strategically important, it has a bad reputation as a pirate hotspot that encourages many merchants to go the long way around to wherever they are going. They are also remarkably hostile towards the Imperium. For most Traveller players I've met, it's their kind of town!

The Introduction gives the history and background of the cluster along with a map of part of the Sindal Subsector to help you get located. It winds up with a discussion of the Imperial Navy's dealings with the locals.

We then move on to the first of the systems, Vume. It's probably the least hostile system, but that doesn't mean it's a very welcoming place - and that's not just because the main planet is an airless, waterless rockball of a world! Most life is found on the orbital highport, although people venture to the surface to explore some ancient ruins... billed as an Ancients site although nobody is really sure if it was them or some other long-lost race who built the ruins. They are now inhabited by some quite peculiar folks.

Next we read about the Theev system. Now a bit of a backwater if not pretty much abandoned altogether, it used to be part of a major trade route. Their highport was bored out of a moonlet artificially placed in a geostationary orbit around the main world. It is not recommended to break the law here, as they don't go in for the nicities of law courts and endless appeals - perpetrators are merely shown out of an airlock... and that's the official law enforcement by a black-robed bunch called the Widows. Travel to the downport is discouraged, and as the world is arid and very dusty, people generally only go there on business - or hunting for rumoured treasures outside of the controlled environment that protects the one inhabited city that has grown up around it. The place is ruled by the Pirate Lords, and the Widows enforce their rule at least in the Upper City. The Lower City is darker and meaner...

Finally comes Palindrome, the third system in the cluster. It's a run-down backwater, even the highport is scruffy and half-abandoned, even though it still claims to be Class B. The planet below is uninviting, with a thin atmosphere and little surface water and a single domed settlement called Astrogo which is run as the personal property of a retired pirate, the Lady Yemar. Here, the standard of living is high, supported by a TL of 12, and the community is quite insular and inward-looking. It is a good place to find those 'special' items not on sale elsewhere, and a haven for fugitives. The place is quite welcoming to outsiders provided they don't strut around in Imperial uniforms.

This is an intriguing group of worlds likely to prove popular with the ethically-challenged. Each is brought to life in the concise notes provided, although you will have to provide even the notable inhabitants and any maps you might need, even the rest of the systems are not well-developed. When your party decides to go 'shopping', send them here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pirates of Drinax: Theev
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