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Triumphant! Clip Art Pack 1
Publisher: DM Studios
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2013 16:11:23
Another great collection of Public Domain super-hero character clip art from DM Studios. With more and more Public Domain comic character being resurrected by comic publishers it means that there is going to be interest in these characters from other sources as well. Now, designers can have good quality, low cost art for their tie-in games as well. Another good package of art from DM Studios!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Triumphant! Clip Art  Pack 1
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Clipart Critters 279: The Snerk Maiden
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2013 12:15:22
A solid piece of clipart that can be used in a number of different situations. One again the Clipart Critters line shows that you can get good art for projects that do not cost a lot of money.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 279: The Snerk Maiden
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Arduin Adventure
Publisher: Emperors Choice
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/02/2013 19:16:12
Dave Hargrave's Arduin and Steve Perrin's "Perrin Conventions" were influential in creating the West Coast style for D&D back in the late 70s and early 80s. Both of these lead to a style of play, and a style of game worlds that were different from the "mainstream" D&D that TSR was selling. This West Coast style lead to The Arduin Adventure and also to Runequest. There are references to DMs and designers like Perrin and Greg Stafford throughout the Arduin Grimoires. Like Bigby and Tenser in the OD&D rules, there are spells and monsters named for both Perrin and Stafford.

So, what is the Arduin Adventure? It is a fantasy role-playing game, class and level-based, very much in the mold of OD&D. In fact, these codified rules owe a lot to the Holmes boxed set for D&D that helped to codify and mold those rules into something cleaner and clearer. The influence of Holmes' rules, however, are filtered through the imagination of David Hargrave.

If D&D is Tolkien's Middle Earth and Moorcock's Young Kingdoms as filtered through the imagination of Gygax and Arneson, then Arduin takes those influences and a number of science fantasy ones (Star Wars being very important to Hargrave) and pulls them through the psychedelic experience that was the mind of Dave Hargrave. I consider this to be very much a plus because Arduin definitely has a much stronger voice to it than D&D did at the time, perhaps because it was the vision of one person instead of a growing committee. Don't get me wrong, D&D is a great game (I play one of the retroclones of OD&D on a regular basis), but it does not have the voice to it that Arduin has. For some this might be considered a weakness, but I think that it was a strength of the game. I believe that Arduin was the first RPG that was as much the vision of its author, rather than just a way to come up with some rules that could be used within a certain genre. I think in this way, Arduin is the spiritual father of games like Kevin Siembieda's Palladium Fantasy and Rifts. There are a lot of similarities between Arduin and Palladium Fantasy to me (but that is probably something for another post).

Now, while The Arduin Adventure has everything that you need to play, it is really not a complete game. Much like how the Holmes version of OD&D covers only the first three levels of play, so does The Arduin Adventure really only cover the equivalent for Arduin. You have enough to get play started, and play for a bit before having to "upgrade" to a fuller version of the rules in order to continue. If you have The Arduin Adventure and the first three (at least!) Arduin Grimoires you can fill in a lot of the gaps and play for a while. If you're interested, Emperor's Choice does offer a print version of The Arduin Trilogy that contains the first three of the Arduin Grimoires and The Arduin Adventure. This thick book will give you a lot of gaming, whether you use Arduin's native rules, or plug them in to D&D or some retroclone of it. If The Arduin Adventure whets your appetite for Arduin, then I really recommend getting the Trilogy in print.

All of the things that are familiar to OD&D players will make Arduin easy to pick up. The classes are basically the same, races are handled in a similar manner, and spells and advancement are very similar. Moving between the two games would be ridiculously easy. Picking up Arduin will not be difficult, if you already have a familiarity with OD&D or various OSR games that duplicate the experience of it. If you aren't already familiar with the "old school" approach to fantasy games, Arduin may cause some problems for you because it does assume a familiarity of that style of play. However, at 66 pages, reading Arduin and picking up the rules shouldn't be that much of an investment of your time. Whether you want to pick up Arduin in order to learn about an old school game that you may not have known about previously, or if you want to pick it up because you want to supplement your OD&D/OSR games with some new material, I think that you should be picking up The Arduin Adventure (and then moving on to as many other of the Arduin Grimoires that you can find). You will not be disappointed.



Combat is a bit more complicated in Arduin than in OD&D. Dave Hargrave liked his critical hit and fumble charts. Each weapon hits differently, depending upon the Armor Class of a character's opponent. This looks more complicated, but the combat tables in The Arduin Adventure and The Arduin Grimoires make this process much simpler than it should be. Regardless, this is still OD&D at its heart, and that game really only gets so complex. Some may see this added complexity as a boon in their old school games.

On the negative side, this is an ugly PDF, however as it is a reproduction of the original game (layout warts and all), I don't know that I can hold that too much against the publisher. Much like with the older edition D&D PDFs available, this book is an artifact, a reflection of its time. If pretty and shiny is a requirement of your role-playing games, then The Arduin Adventure may not be for you. However if you like rough and tumble RPGs that do at the table what they say they will, you will want to pick this up for your gaming library. And then, go to the Emperor's Choice website and buy more Arduin stuff.

All in all, if you like old school style D&D and you haven't already experienced Arduin, you should buy The Arduin Adventure and kick the tires. I think that you will like what it can bring to your gaming table, even if it is as a supplement to your OD&D/OSR game of choice. Go out now and get your copy.

[You can find a complete review over at the Dorkland! blog: http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-arduin-adventure.ht-
ml]

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arduin Adventure
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Clipart Critters 264 - Stabbity Sacrifice
Publisher: Postmortem Studios
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/02/2013 12:42:24
An evocative piece of art from Bradley K McDevitt and Postmortem Studios, this black and white illustration would work great in a dark fantasy or horror work, demonstrating the during (or after) of a ritual sacrifice. The quality of the scan is excellent and it is well-framed for use in a game book. McDevitt is one of the best at "dark art" in gaming, and these Clipart Critters are an excellent way to get access to his art on a small press budget.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Clipart Critters 264 - Stabbity Sacrifice
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Teratic Tome
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2013 15:04:41
Looking for cool monsters for your old school games? Look no further than Evolved Grottoes & Griffons: Teratic Tome from +Rafael Chandler. This volume of new and original monsters was created for use with OSRIC, but as we all know it can easily be adapted to any old school game, with a little bit of effort.

Chandler has developed the (now free) horror RPG Spite: The Second Book of Pandemonim, from which a number of these creatures have been derived for use in Chandler's own old school fantasy campaign. These monsters are not your father's (or big brother's) old school monsters. Over one hundred monsters from Chandler's game and imaginings fill the Teratic Tome.



The illustrations in this volume are amazing and straddle the line between an old school and newer schools of thought. Honestly, I think that the art in this book is going to set a high bar for future supplements of this type.

As for the creatures themselves... If you would imagine, for a moment, if H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker collaborated on an AD&D monster manual, you would have the Teratic Tome. Honestly, I don't know if I need any more to this review than that one sentence. Seriously, but this buy already. These are definitely monsters with a horror influence to them, but for me that is what makes them cool. There is definitely a Lovecraft meets Barker meets Moorcock meets Warhammer 1e vibe to these creatures that makes me want to use them immediately in a game. There are definitely creatures in this book that are not for the faint of heart, or for those with children in their games, but that is a good thing. There need to be more gaming material produced for a variety of ages and maturity levels, particularly by writers who are as good at this as Rafael Chandler. From the creatures in this book, this man must have some doozies of nightmares, but for those of us who like a dose of the strange and disturbing in our role-playing games, I have to say that I am glad that he does.

All of these creatures have engaging, detailed and provocative write-ups and descriptions that make you want to use them. There are so many hints and suggestions about the worlds that these creatures inhabit that will add new depth and variety to your old school games.

[find more at the Dorkland! Blog at http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2013/01/from-fever-imaginings-o-
f-rafael.html]

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Teratic Tome
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Deities & Demigods (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/22/2013 14:50:32
This PDF is so much prettier than the ones that were previously offered. Scanning technology has advanced a lot in the years since these materials were last available, and this PDF shows that. The Deities & Demigods book is fully bookmarked and it has a hyperlinked table of contents. It is also fully OCRed and allows for copying and pasting of text out of the PDF and into your own documents. I consider this to be a big win. The quality of the scanning is good too. I printed a page to see how it would look, and the quality was pretty good. Yes, you can print your PDFs.

Unfortunately, the dndclassics.com site will not offer POD versions of these books. I think that is a mis-step, even if Wizards is doing that to make retailers happy. Retailers could easily set up an affiliate site of their own and take a cut of the sales. Not that many retailers would probably do that. Anyway, I understand why they aren't doing POD, but I think they are sticking to an antiquated sales mode. This is meant as a pseudo review, so I won't get into that tangent.

The PDF isn't cheap. Deities & Demigods costs $9.99 to purchase, that is however a lot cheaper than what you'll find on eBay or online retailers, if they have a copy. I would like to see the price drop to maybe $4.99 across the board for the early edition stuff, but the market will take what it takes. This PDF is worth the ticket price. The scanning is good, the bookmarks work and the hyperlinks definitely help. This book (with or without the Cthulhu & Elric material) is the definitive book on deities for your AD&D games, and if you do not have it you really should get yourself a copy of it.

[full review available at http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2013/01/deities-and-demigods-re-
turns.html]

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deities & Demigods (1e)
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Amazing Adventures!
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/28/2012 20:26:19
If you like the pulps, and I know I do, then this just might be the role-playing game that you have been looking for. I'm going to get this out of the way right from the get-go, Jason Vey is an (dare I say it?) amazing designer. If you haven't seen his work on the Unisystem stuff from Eden Studios, or his own retroclone Spellcraft & Swordplay, you are surely missing out.

If you're not familiar with the heroic pulps of the 30s and 40s, they were a precursor to comic books that featured crime-fighting men and women who became embroiled in global whirlwind adventures. Some of the best known of the characters from the heroic pulps would be Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Spider and The Shadow. Other famous literary precursors to the pulp traditions could be characters like Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Nick Carter or the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. More modern neo-pulp characters could be ones like Indiana Jones, Buckaroo Banzai or even someone like Jack Burton. Big, bold, larger than life characters against a backdrop that is just as large, and as dangerous, as they are.

Amazing Adventures is from Troll Lord Games, publishers of Castles & Crusades, and features a modified version of the SIEGE Engine d20 variant that powers that game. Vey has taken a number of variants that take the SIEGE Engine out of traditional fantasy play and move it towards heroic fantasy characters and adventures. He also mixes in some bits from the d20 Modern SRD, as well. Even if you are not a fan of the pulps (or aren't one yet), this game can still hold an interest for you because of the fact that it can also serve as a streamlining and updating of WotC's old d20 Modern stuff for you. One of the things that I never liked about d20 Modern was the sort of attribute-based classes. That is gone in this game, with a more traditional take on character classes. A variety of the pulp archetypes are represented in these rules, classes that could easily be modified backwards for those looking for a more Steampunk style of gaming, or modified forwards for contemporary era role-playing. Actually, this game impressed me a lot more than Castles & Crusades did, and it I were to run a fantasy-based SIEGE Engine game, I would reverse engineer it out of Amazing Adventures rather than play Castles & Crusades. Maybe there will be a special edition (or supplement) featuring the rebuilt iconic fantasy classes for play in Amazing Adventures some day. I would like something like that.

It was also nice to see some Lovecraft seep into this game. Amazing Adventures has a nice little sanity mechanic, for those who want those sorts of things in their games, and a few Lovecraftian monsters managed to sneak their way into an already ample bestiary. For those who have wondered if Pulp Cthulhu was ever going to come out from Chaosium, this is the substitute that you have been waiting for.

[You can read this review in its entirety at http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2012/12/troll-lord-games-amazin-
g-adventures.html]

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures!
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Image Portfolio Platinum Edition 23: Storn Cook
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2012 18:05:13
Once again LPJ Design provides an excellent selection of stock art featuring industry art name Storn Cook. The pieces in this collection (six in all) are perfect for use as cover or spot illustrations for a commercial role-playing product, particularly for publishers on a budget who could not normally afford an artist of Cook's caliber. This art collection, like the others in the Image Portfolio Platinum edition line, does not disappoint.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Image Portfolio Platinum Edition 23: Storn Cook
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Publisher's Choice - Classic Adventure Covers (Multi-Colored Modules)
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2012 23:49:56
These covers are a great resource for those who want to create a retro-looking cover for their game or adventure, but just don't have the ability to make them themselves.Easy to use, just place in DTP software of your choice, add an image and some text and you are ready to go. This is a great resource for the starting publisher.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Classic Adventure Covers (Multi-Colored Modules)
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Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2012 12:19:33
One important starting point: Dan Harms knows his Cthulhu Mythos. You almost forget that this could be a scholarly work as you page through the entries on various creatures, places and entities of the Mythos fiction started by H.P. Lovecraft. Like with previous editions, there is so much information crammed into this book that the reader can learn something new and different on each reading. My suggested method for finding inspiration is to open the book up to a random entry and then follow the "read also" entries until full. You won't come away from it without something to inspire you. This book is set up like an encyclopedia and it charts the various people, places and things from the Cthulhu Mythos started by Lovecraft and embellished by so many other creators in the decades after his death. Unlike previous editions, this edition deemphasizes the Call of Cthulhu RPG from Chaosium in favor of further Mythos-inspired fiction. I don't think that is a bad idea because, for me, it elevates this present edition above being just a gaming supplement and turns it into something that can have a wider appeal, whether the read is a gamer or non-gamer. There is plenty in this book to inspire for years to come.

If I had a complaint, it would be that the electronic format was not fully embraced. I am not sure if this is possible, but I think that it would be much more useful if the "see also" lists at the end of each entry were hyperlinked to allow for better movement from one entry to another. This, however, does not take away from the otherwise high quality content of the book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia
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TFS Super Clips #3: Super Scenes
Publisher: Team Frog
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/24/2012 16:43:48
This clip art package was a bit of a mixed bag. I found that the more dynamic action scenes were definitely better pieces than the ones that we posed. The posed pieces had more of a wooden quality to them, while the action scenes were definitely much more dynamic and living pieces of art. For the price, I do think this package is worth it for the dynamic pieces of art. They would definitely liven up the art of a super-hero game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
TFS Super Clips #3: Super Scenes
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TFS Super Clips #2: Female Heroes & Villains
Publisher: Team Frog
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/24/2012 16:38:42
The quality of this collection was less than that of the male super-hero clip art (and there were three fewer pieces of art of the same price), but the art in this package was still well drawn, by an artist who has an idea of what a woman's body looks like. Except for a couple of pictures that were closer to fan service than art, the quality over all was decent. There is still some exaggeration, but this is super-hero comic book-styled art.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
TFS Super Clips #2: Female Heroes & Villains
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TFS Super Clips #1: Male Heroes & Villains
Publisher: Team Frog
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/24/2012 16:33:26
For $5 you can purchase twenty pieces of black and white line art of male super-heroic figures. They are definitely of a period belonging to the Image Comics-styled art of the 90s, but the quality isn't actually that bad. You receive a nice range of types of characters and poses, which can all be used for either commercial art, or they would make great illustrations for a character sheet. I like the more vintage feel of the art, but that is the sort of super-heroic characters that I enjoy. I have yet to find something in a Team Frog clipart package that was not useful for me.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
TFS Super Clips #1: Male Heroes & Villains
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Esoteric Skull
Publisher: Gethsemane Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/13/2012 13:47:00
This moody and atmospheric piece of art would make an excellent addition to any horror-based product or handout. The quality of the image is excellent and would reproduce well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Esoteric Skull
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Homicidal Transients
Publisher: Left of the Moon Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/27/2012 19:28:06
There is a lot of good stuff to be found in this little game (weighing in at a whopping 41 digest-sized pages). This is a game that works at the digest size, instead of inflating page counts for games that most likely should have been done at a traditional page size.

In this game you play homicidal transients, pretty much like it says on the tin. This isn't a game mocking the homeless or making homeless people into some sort of reprehensible figure. This is not Bumfight The RPG. And, having been homeless in the past, I can say "thank God for that." Playing a transient has absolutely nothing to do with being a homeless person, although it could if you wanted it to. I know, that's a bit of a weird double standard. I have nothing against playing or portraying a homeless person in a role-playing game, as long as it isn't done in an exploitative or insensitive manner. I don't think that Homicidal Transients does either of those things.

There's not a lot to this game, so if you need a game that has a lot of rule, or that has a lot of rules to enforce a certain mode or style of play...this game is not for you. If you like a rules light framework that will allow you a lot of freedom within those rules to do cool and interesting stuff...this just might be the game for you.

Characters are defined by a handful of skills (five of them in all), two traits (homicidal and transient), and a level. Level works pretty much as a bonus to your attempts to have your character do something. Homicidal and Transient give your character special talents and abilities. The skills work much like the skills in any other RPG that you may have seen or played. There are no attributes.

The game uses a single for combat, skills, tests and everything else. The cool thing is that it uses a pool of whatever dice you have the most of sitting around. Everyone uses the same dice, but the game isn't linked to the use of one particular die type. I think that is one of the qualities that would make Homicidal Transients a good game for pick up play. Skills do not seem to have levels, as much as they have modifiers due to the talents that your character has (not to mention situational bonuses). This part of the rules is a little bit confusing, as you aren't really told if there is a bonus from skills (or I somehow managed to miss it), or if you just use bonuses given from talents. That could stand to be better explained in the rules.

While I don't mind it (maybe because I am mostly a GM), someone out there will be upset by the rules for experience: "Go up a level whenever the GM says so." I wouldn't play in a group where there isn't trust between the players and the GM (and I cannot fathom why someone would play in a group like that), so I don't have a problem with a rule like this.

You can find more of this review at http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2012/09/homicidal-transients-fu-
nny-little-role.html

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Homicidal Transients
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