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Midgard Campaign Setting
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2012 21:20:17
This is a fantastic alternate setting and especially for AGE games (although the Pathfinder roots remain quite evident and are sometimes jarring). It is well organized and beautifully illustrated. Even if one only intends to mine the sourcebook for piecing into a homebrew campaign the backgrounds will be extremely useful both as written and for inspiration.

This is not Earth restyled. Midgard is flat and has a rich cosmology. Included are not just sections on the divine but descriptions of festivals, holidays, and languages. A rather nicely developed urban area named The Free City of Zobek is provided but there are also non-standard areas such as kingdoms of vampires and ghouls. Nor are all the races stock fantasy in origins as Midgard features some distinct takes on such matters including the nomadic Windrunner Elves of the steppes. Adventure seeds are provided and culturally specific weapons and equipment detailed.

In fact, I have only one real complaint but in my mind it is a major problem. The PDF has no print-friendly settings. The illustrations and decoration is quite nice but printing the document (even inpart) will be prohibitively expensive. I gues some could order a bound edition rather than the PDF but the electronic version makes it easier to design adventures and customize the game experience.

Open Design is to be commended for a very strong offering but the lack of a print friendly layer or discrete download knocks it down a star. Buy this PDF only if you never intend to print most of it OR you are independently wealthy so that printing costs won't bankrupt you,

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Campaign Setting
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Flynn's Guide To Azri Drakara: Rodan Subsector
Publisher: Samardan Press
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/27/2011 23:03:34
Whether this product is for you depends largely (as usual) on how you intend to use it.

Although superficially similar to the old GDW sector booklets, Flynn's Guide To Azri Drakara: Rodan Subsector concentrates on one subsector but does so reasonably well by providing quite a bit of additional help to a GM than just a starmap, some UPP codes, and a brief encyclopedia. Samardan Press also provides expanded world codes that are more readable than the intentionally brief UPP codes, a rumors table, and several patron encounters. These additions can be helpful to a referee both in terms of time and in background/atmosphere. There are also entries for sports, the location of a military academy, and several alien species are noted (but not elaborated on) including one very interesting space jumping life form.

I wish the publisher would release a slightly more detailed survey of the Dracosian Republic as that would make a few things more clear. The encyclopedia offers some help in that direction but a 10-20 page primer regarding the Republic, its rivals, a brief historical sketch, etc. Heck, even five pages that organized the pertinent parts of the encyclopedia would be appreciated! A lot of that information is there but the fragmentary arrangement of the encyclopedia makes it work to tease out.

This is NOT the OTU so the setting vagueness is not necessarily a bad thing if one plans on using this book to start a classic Traveller game without all the burdens of the OTU Canon (may it live and be published forever). But the lack of a basic overview would seem to caution a referee from adopting this as a starter with the intention of expanding it as new materials come online for the milieu. I can recommend this book as a sandbox platform but with caveats about tying it with future products as there are no real hints as to the direction the publisher is going. Such tie in may work but it remains to be seen.

One of the things I love about the setting is that it uses no special rules. The core rules are quite sufficient. Jump drives work just as they always have and there is no FTL communications. Consequently, importing other published material should pose little mechanical problem leaving the referee to rework background material for the most part.

I really like the setting. It is for the most part what I have been wanting...something not bound by the OTU but still holding to the classical feel. The referee has considerable freedom to swap out or add planets, cannibalize parts of various settings, and do a host of other things without worry about how it plays with the very detailed OTU Canon. Of course, referees have always been able to do that but "Flynn's Guide To Azri Drakara: Rodan Subsector" greatly simplifies the process. The only people likely to be disappointed are those referees that like to drown themselves with minute details. The rest of us, GMs and players alike, should find the setting quite fulfilling.

Production values are as good as most PDF based gaming material. Outside the cover and the starmap, there are no illustrations but the product is well laid out and lovingly appointed by the author. I know where my next Traveller game will be set. Rodan Subsector here we come!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Flynn's Guide To Azri Drakara: Rodan Subsector
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Dave Arneson's Blackmoor: The First Campaign
Publisher: Zeitgeist Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/03/2009 18:05:49
From the moment I became familiar with the D&D 4E ruleset, I considered Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor to be the perfect setting. I was frankly aggravated that it took so long to release an updated campaign book. Whether it was worth the wait or the expense will depend on your expectation.

In many ways, the 4E Blackmoor campaign is just a rehashed version of the 3.5E release with updated character generation rules consistent with 4E including one non-standard race (the Docrae) and six new professions with paragon paths. New skills and powers are included. Some, like the Arcane Warrior, are a lot like Sword Mages from the Forgotten realms and others may see similar WotC releases in future Player Handbooks. Still, the Elderkin and Idolater look fresh and having a Noble class PC in a party could make for some interesting situations! As to the new races of the 4E, Blackmoor does a very credible job of integrating them into the setting. The back story for Tieflings could be the underlying quest of an entire campaign itself regardless as to whether anyone played such a race.

Also included are a handful of magic items, artifacts and rituals that add detail and character to a Blackmoor campaign. I was especially impressed with the artifact selection.

The gazetteer of locations is very much like that found in the 3.5E release with little additional information and some information from the previous edition missing. Information is included as to racial physical appearances, how hair is worn, types of clothes worn, common naming conventions, etc. Deities are reasonably well fleshed out and attention is paid to things like calendars, festivals, and the politics of the North. A time line is also provided that adds welcome detail as to how the north got where it is today.

One area where the gazetteer adds considerable information above the prior edition is in the area of organizations. Several magic oriented organizations with conflicting interests are outlined setting the stage for friction and mysterious plotlines.

Several NPCs are provided as well new monsters to battle in the wilds of the North.

Those comfortable with adapting 3.5 professions and races themselves may not find the value they are seeking if they already own the excellent 3.5E of Blackmoor. There is new stuff to be had but 110 pages out of 260 are devoted to character development and another roughly 50 pages are spent on NPCs and monsters. A few pages are used for fiction to aid DMs in understanding the ambiance of Blackmoor.

Roleplayers new to Blackmoor or who would rather have professionals handle the retooling for the 4E will find a great deal to like. The classes appear to be well balanced although it will take more than a few sessions to really make determinations on that score. As a Point of Light setting, few will be able to match Blackmoor’s potential and I doubt any will exceed it. It has a wealth of detail but manages to avoid being overwhelming. Of course, the number one concern is whether the setting is sustainably playable and the answer is a resounding “yes!”

There are a handful of shortcomings that future updates will hopefully address. 1) The 4E campaign guide inexplicably lacks population information for the various settlements. Of course, no DM is bound by such guidance but it is usually helpful in conveying a sense of the settlement’s provincialism or lack thereof. If the campaign guide is updated, I hope CMP will add that information back in. 2) While I appreciate the digital version being created in a printer-friendly fashion, the lack of a color map is a major (and inexcusable) oversight. Purchasers of the digital Blackmoor 4E campaign guide should be allowed an additional color download of the regional map as a separate file. Correcting these two issues, especially the lack of a color map would increase my rating by a star.

If D&D 4E is your game and you are in the market for a setting in which to host a campaign, you need look no further than Blackmoor: the First Campaign.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dave Arneson's Blackmoor: The First Campaign
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Castlemourn Campaign Setting
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/05/2008 07:08:12
Noted author and co-creator of the Forgotten Realms setting has crafted a new world for D&D/D20 players to experience. Although not as geographically expansive as FR, Castlemourn is every bit as ambitious and somewhat easier to digest. The setting is semi-closed using a land roughly 1200 miles wide and 300 miles deep isolated by mountains, seas, and remnant magicks left over from when the land itself revolted gainst the ills mankind and their peers had inflicted upon it some three hundred years before. No passes or sea lanes exist to allow transit to and from Castlemourn but some may enter the lands through "estemal" - planar or dimensional portals from other worlds that can be used to introduce subject matter from outside Castlemourn. Questors seek out artifacts and knowledge about life before the cataclysm giving players an unusual stamp of legitimacy in their activities. New classes, magic, and races are introduced including the mysterious Thaele. Astrological signs also impact on the game in a unique twist that adds to character flavor. Castlemourn is also replete with setting calendars, directions, measurements, coinage names, dietary details and other information designed to enhance immersion.


I really enjoyed the setting. It is quite detailed without being overly burdensome and the relatively limited land mass makes it somewhat easier to do justice to the whole product. The “estemal” give DMs considerable latitude to use external material without undermining the basic foundation of the setting. If there is a problem to the setting, it is because it was released so close to the debut of the D20 4th edition rules that one has to wonder about any future material for the setting being released.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castlemourn Campaign Setting
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Ptolus: Monte Cook's City By The Spire (Ptolus Core)
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 22:13:15
The world of fantasy gaming may never see another setting as lovingly and richly detailed as Ptolus. Designed as the test bed for D&D 3.0/3.5, Monte Cook's creation captures the high magic atmosphere marked by wonder and mystery. A mix of urban and dungeon settings, only the inveterate wilderness wandered will ever wish to leave. Whether you intend to run the campaign itself or use it as a model for another city, Ptolus makes for a living and breathing canvas of matchless detail and originality. Details abound and yet lack incongruity as each piece fits seamlessly. Laws, taxes, government, coinage, gods, and trends are outlined and the list keeps going. Other settings address these issues as well but never with the same attention and artfulness. Lavishly illustrated and mapped with a keen eye, Ptolus is a visual extravaganza. Although Ptolus is a creature of the 3.0/3.5 D&D edition, much of the setting may be easily converted to the recent 4E release albeit with some changes in atmosphere due to how arcane casters are treated now. Dungeons that are detailed in Ptolus will require some work but the overall city setting can be used with few real changes even though it is not consistent with the 4E Point of Light meta-setting. I cannot recommened this product highly enough to any players of the 3.0/3.5 editions of D&D but anyone who appreciates lofty production values and peerless imagination should also get this product. It is the Hope Diamond of settings!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ptolus: Monte Cook's City By The Spire (Ptolus Core)
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Points of Light
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:52:59
This may be one of the most useful fantasy setting guides on the market for several reasons.

1 - It was apparently designed in particular for the D&D 4E rules but is written in such a way that any rules set would work with the setting.

2 - The settings (there are four of them) are detailed enough to get a GM started but not overburdened with detail giving the GM increased latitude for making the setting his own.

3 - The regions outlined are sizable chunks of geography but are small enough to easily slip into any existing world setting.

4 - The maps are easy to use and easy to manage.

In many regards, this book is the opposite of Monte Cook's Ptolus campaign which set the standard a detailed fantasy setting. Whereas Ptolus was a fully formed body complete with muscles and nerves, Points of Light is a fully articulated skeleton that can be the framework for incredible gaming!

Suitable for experienced and novice GMs alike.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Points of Light
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Darcassian Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:42:35
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended although I am not as big a fan of the Dalcassian line as opposed to some of the others.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Darcassian Set
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Aliens Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:41:49
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aliens Set
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Science Fiction Soldiers Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:41:28
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Science Fiction Soldiers Set
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Robots Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:41:10
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Robots Set
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Sci-Fi Civilians Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:40:32
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sci-Fi Civilians Set
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Darcassians II set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:40:15
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended although I find the Dalcassian line less useful than the other miniature collections.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Darcassians II set
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Science Fiction Soldiers II Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:39:05
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Science Fiction Soldiers II Set
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Robots II
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:38:46
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Robots II
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Science Fiction Heroes Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2008 21:38:30
Pewter or plastic minis are great but can be cost prohibitive when amassing a reasonable variety for a campaign. Arion Games paper minis are a cost effective alternative that look great and can be printed in whatever quantities are needed. When printed on cardstock, they are also fairly durable. Most come in both 2-sided and 3-sided formats and all are in full color. Even if you intend to acquire more traditional miniatures over time, these paper miniatures are an outstanding base from which to start. Highly recommended!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Science Fiction Heroes Set
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