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Humanity [BUNDLE]
Humanity [BUNDLE]
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Summoning Circle - Bonus track from the Adventurer's soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2014 17:55:00
I like most of the "Adventurer's Soundtrack" pieces quite a lot—but not this one. Part of the reason is just that the track implies too much of a storyline that might fit poorly with the pacing of a summoning scene during gameplay. A larger part of the reason is all the screaming in the first half of the track, and the very quiet chanting about 3/4 of the way through. The ups and downs in the volume and "body" of the piece draw attention to themselves, at least for me, and this diminishes the track's usefulness as RPG background music.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Summoning Circle - Bonus track from the Adventurer's soundtrack
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High Elven City - Track 3 from the Traveller's soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2014 17:43:47
The musical line in this track has a peaceful, almost lullaby-like quality to it. The light and airy vocals and sounds of songbirds add beautifully to the ambience. The occasional sequences of more distinct dialogue in some kind of Elvish dialect, however, beckon listeners to try to focus on them and understand the words, which could be very distracting at the gaming table.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
High Elven City - Track 3 from the Traveller's soundtrack
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The Dark Forest - Track 4 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2014 17:30:58
This track strongly resembles "The Dead Marshes," track 9 of "The Adventurer's Soundtrack," except that the animal sounds here are forest creatures like wolves and bears, or perhaps other things more exotic, and there is no sound of water. Next time the PCs at your table venture into a haunted forest or the like, start this track going to heighten the sense of spookiness and vague threat. I wish this track didn't have the human scream and the large-animal snarl, which lock down your story a bit. But I like everything else about it!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dark Forest - Track 4 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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The Dead Marshes - Track 9 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2014 17:20:16
I think there must be alligators in this swamp! I can definitely hear bullfrogs and plenty of insects—and the crickets make me think it's nighttime. but near the beginning and middle of the track, some significantly larger, threatening creature makes noises. I wish those sound effects were more subtle, or even absent, as I find them a bit disruptive. Otherwise, the track is great. Use it to give your table a spooky ambience when the adventurers find themselves exploring a black dragon's swamp or a Cajun bayou.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Dead Marshes - Track 9 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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Dwarven City - Track 2 from the Traveller's soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/12/2014 19:50:41
This does not sound like a very friendly place! "Duergar City" might be more like it. Barking dogs give you the sense that you're not really welcome here. Gruff voices, soft cries, and the sounds of pickaxes working away at ore deposits might give you the sense of slave labor. The track is pretty well done and relatively non-intrusive, even with the voices. But I don't see myself using it that often, unless the PCs at my table get captured by dark dwarf slavers or something like that.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dwarven City - Track 2 from the Traveller's soundtrack
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Battlefield Ruins - Track 7 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/12/2014 19:15:08
Melancholy and haunting, this track could serve as decent backing for almost any RPG scene of exploring ruins that are open to the sky. Only a few drumbeats give you the sense of a "battlefield," per the title; the track surely works for such a setting, but you're definitely not locked into that description. However, bird cries near the beginning do pretty much limit you to outdoor scenes.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Battlefield Ruins - Track 7 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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The Sea of Shadows - Track 8 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/12/2014 16:54:07
The cawing of seabirds implies that you’re not too far from land, but the light, melancholy instrumentals give you a sense of hopelessness. The creaking of wooden planks abounds; once in a while the ship’s bell rings lightly. This piece makes me want to write up a skill challenge for sailing through haunted waters or getting out of a dead calm (although a "gust of wind" spell makes the latter a bit less challenging). This track runs unobtrusively in the background, enhances the mood, loops perfectly, and inspires the DM—hard to beat all that!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sea of Shadows - Track 8 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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The Frozen Tundra - Track 6 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2013 00:12:16
I wish I’d had this track back when my home D&D campaign went through an antarctic story arc. It makes me want to find another frozen clime just to use it! The howling winds and howling wolves give a good sense of the dangers of the tundra: the weather and the wildlife. The track isn’t perfect, though. It took me a while to realize that the crunching sounds at the beginning were supposed to be footsteps in the ice and snow, and the track doesn’t loop as well as I’d like. It’s not too disruptive, but the beginning and ending are rather distinct and there are about 3 seconds of silence at the end. Still, a good addition to your soundscape library for any RPG that might include a cold-weather adventure. I could easily imagine using this with any fantasy RPG or with horror titles like Call of Cthulhu (maybe some of those sounds presage an encounter with Ithaqua).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Frozen Tundra - Track 6 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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[ICONS] Defy the Prophecy: A Stark City Adventure
Publisher: Fainting Goat Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2013 23:58:33
“Defy the Prophecy,” an ICONS adventure for the Stark City setting, has a rather cliché core plot: the bad guys are stealing objects to perform a dark ritual they must not be allowed to complete. What keeps the adventure from being hackneyed is the nature of the thieves—a bit of mystery that actually shouldn’t take the heroes too long to unravel—and the main villain’s motivation. The best thing about the adventure plot is the tie-in to Stark City lore.

Unfortunately, the text’s references to the game mechanics are imperfect, possibly even downright confusing. For example, there is no such thing as a “Know Test” (p. 3) in ICONS; rather, you make an Intellect test to find out if your PC knows something. Similarly, ICONS has no “Occult test” (p. 5), though it does have an Occult specialty that can give PCs bonuses on Intellect tests when dealing with occult matters. I can easily imagine a new GM reading this adventure and wondering, “What on earth is a [whatever]?” when the terminology doesn’t follow the core rules. On the other hand, grammatical errors and inconsistencies are few and minor.

The cover art by Jon Gibbons and the interior art by Jacob Blackmon are quite good. In fact, the cover art is almost too good, as it depicts a scene unlikely to occur during the adventure!

If you consider the “stop the ritual before it’s too late” plot to be “tried and true” rather than “overdone,” you should be able to give a group of ICONS players a fun evening of play with “Defy the Prophecy.” On top of that, if you’re kicking off a Stark City campaign, the adventure provides a good way to introduce players to a major potential threat in the campaign world. Adapting the adventure to non-Stark settings would be difficult, I think, unless you want to adopt the whole Gloriana storyline into your world as well.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[ICONS] Defy the Prophecy: A Stark City Adventure
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On the River - (Event Version) Track 12 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2013 23:02:14
From the raptor’s cry at the beginning of the track to the rapids or waterfall at its end, this track is inspiringly creepy. It’s a great combination of natural beauty and otherworldly mystery, and in general would make great backing for a brief trek through a haunted forest or something like that. I say “brief,” though, because this is the first Ambient Environments track I’ve heard that doesn’t loop well. The sound of the water, in particular, builds throughout the piece in a way that makes looping feel disruptive when the river becomes peaceful again after its fever pitch. The sound effects are great and well executed, but the non-loopability really limits its usefulness at the gaming table and accounts for my rating.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
On the River - (Event Version) Track 12 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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Halls of the Mountain King
Publisher: Fat Dragon Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2013 22:51:37
Like all of Fat Dragon’s 3D terrain sets, “Halls of the Mountain King” features beautiful artwork that will really make your miniatures-scale battle scenes pop. In this case, however, the word “halls” in the title might be slightly misleading. In fact, you get some great dressing for something like an “audience hall,” and indeed the props will put you in mind of the great throne room in Gauntlgrym if you’ve read those novels. But you cannot construct “halls” in the sense of “corridors” with this product, because it doesn’t include walls (except for flanking pieces integrating the large statue into standard-sized E-Z Lock walls. You’ll need additional sets if you want to build a full scene. The set includes exactly what the product description states, so know what you’re getting before you buy. It’s definitely a worthwhile purchase if you’re into paper modeling for your tabletop.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Halls of the Mountain King
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Forest of the Fae - Track 5 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2013 22:33:50
Imagine a beautiful, perhaps slightly mysterious forest. Birds chirp in the trees, the wind blows softly, and a brook babbles nearby. Add some musical accents and you’ve got “Forest of the Fae.” This track is very peaceful, even beautiful, and loops perfectly. I left it running for well over an hour earlier today and never got tired of it. The only “downside” to this piece is that RPG sessions don’t usually feature extended scenes in lovely, peaceful locales …

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forest of the Fae - Track 5 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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Publisher Reply:
Love this review! Especially the last part, which is why this is one of the only "peaceful" ambient tracks in the collection.
Lost in the Dunes - Track 2 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/28/2013 18:39:29
“Lost in the Dunes” definitely achieves its goal of providing a soundtrack for a journey through a windswept sandy desert wasteland—think the Sahara, not Arizona. Vague moans might lead your players to believe the desert is haunted, but otherwise the soundscape suggests a “desert of desolation.” Note that you can save a dollar by purchasing “Lost in the Dunes” together with three other tracks in the Adventurer’s Soundtrack 1 bundle (http://bit.ly/19ebUHs).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lost in the Dunes - Track 2 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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Ruins of the Pharaoh - Track 3 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/28/2013 18:34:49
“Ruins of the Pharaoh” ups the ante on its companion piece “Temple of Dread” with more distinct and forceful sound effects. Vague moans and sighs, hissing and slithering snakes, fluttering bats, and perhaps even the sound of dripping water populate this track. It could be really effective to use “Temple of Dread” when the PCs arrive at a lost temple in the desert and explore the outer reaches or upper floors, switching to “Ruins of the Pharaoh” as they get to the inner chambers but haven’t yet awakened the mummy. A few of the sound effects in “Ruins of the Pharaoh” seem to me too loud for the background, though, and could disrupt gameplay a bit. The publisher has populated the ID3 tags well, even embedding the cover art in the MP3. Note that you can save a dollar by purchasing “Ruins of the Pharaoh” together with three other tracks in the Adventurer’s Soundtrack 1 bundle (http://bit.ly/19ebUHs).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ruins of the Pharaoh - Track 3 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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Temple of Dread - Track 1 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/28/2013 18:29:17
“Temple of Dread” does a great job of evoking a spooky, mysterious, vaguely threatening atmosphere. As the name and catalog description suggest, it would be perfect as the backdrop for exploration of an ancient temple in the desert. One minor glitch: the catalog description calls this “track 2 from the Adventurer’s Soundtrack,“ but it’s actually track 1 according to the illustration and the ID3 tags. Speaking of ID3 tags, Ambient Environments has done a good job of populating them fully, and has embedded the cover artwork in the MP3. Note that you can save a dollar by purchasing “Temple of Dread” together with three other tracks in the Adventurer’s Soundtrack 1 bundle (http://bit.ly/19ebUHs).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Temple of Dread - Track 1 from the Adventurer's Soundtrack
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review! Also, thanks for catching that glitch. It has been fixed. Let us know what you think of the other tracks. Your reviews are very helpful to us. ~AE
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