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Shadowrun: Book of the Lost (A Shadowrun Campaign Book)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/03/2017 10:34:32

Shadowrun: Book of the Lost is a campaign book for Shadowrun and provides a considerable amount of potential adventure for a GM. But is it necessary? Not really, unless your group is already intrigued by the Sixth World Tarot, you do not have to prioritize this book, it is pretty and has quite a bit of fun stuff but all of it will need to be adapted to your campaign. But if a tarot hunt sound like it would be fun for you and your players, then pick this up.

Shadowrun: Book of the Lost, is a Shadowrun Campaign Book for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, this particular book covers how to use the Sixth World Tarot (SWT) in a Shadowrun game and how, story-wise, that tarot deck is affecting the word of Shadowrun. The book is jam packed with beautiful full color art, much of it from the SWT, but, my, there is a lot of art.

After a short introduction to what is in the book, we get two fiction sections, and then it moves into what is known about the SWT in the setting. The chapter called Deck Building talks about the major players who are hunting the SWT and some of the tactics they use. A variety of plot hooks are scattered through this section waiting to catch a GM’s eye.

Next is Aligning the Court which deals with the interaction between the Seelie Court and the Tarot, essentially a useless section if you are not playing a Fae Court game at least it is short. More art and Using Themes and Motifs follows and gives some general advice, do not interpret the cards too literally, and gives an out for the GM (in the form of an NPC, the Wondering Fool) to help players who get lost.

Items and Objects is two parts, first an insetting lecture about the symbolism of the things that appear in the SWT (if you have a deck, it would be good to have it available as you read through this section). Interesting but very dense going without the cards as reference. The second half is a set of divinations (again, in setting) and possible interpretations thereof (i.e., plot seeds).

After more art and a very short piece of fiction there is People, a bunch of snapshots of people involved directly or indirectly in the hunt for the SWT. Useful as NPCs, just to namedrop or as plot seeds, or some mix there of. This section provides considerable amount of inspirational stuff for your game here. Next up, Taco Temple, a new fast food chain that has sprung up in the last couple of years and appears on multiple SWT cards. This section discusses what might be the secrets behind Taco Temple and its relationship to the SWT, interesting if convoluted stuff.

Codes and Puzzles is the setup for how to use the SWT in game, starting with what a character is likely to know about it, then moving into how the various power players perceive it. Then some, but not all, of the puzzles presented on the cards are discussed, others are hinted at. But the bulk of this section is sample operations and campaigns building off of the puzzles on the cards, given who is hunting the SWT some of the easy missions seem, well, too easy when they involve actual acquisition of cards from the SWT. But these puzzles provide a good foundation to work from if you want to integrate the SWT into your campaign.

Cards as Augury talks about how to use the SWT as, well, a tool for prediction. This section covers how its symbolism differs from most tarot decks and some of the patterns that appear in the SWT. It also provides some advice on using divination in a game which is always tricky.

Ending the primary resources is Power of the Cards, which talks about what sort of magic can be worked with the cards themselves, these are usually ritual and are tied to possessing four of the same card (say “2s”) of the minor arcana or any card of the major arcana. Looking at the sorts of effects the cards can generate, it is easy to see why people are hunting for them. But be warned, the effects from some of the cards are potentially campaign changing, a GM should think very carefully before letting the power of the cards loose in their game.

The final section is a bunch of stat blocks for the people referenced in the People section, the problem is, it is mostly just stat blocks. A few get a couple of sentences of tactics, some get a paragraph of background info, but mostly just page after page of stats. There are three new mentor spirits, an alternate Raven, Goddess and Lion, and the highest of high end comlink as new equipment, scattered through here as well. And, as is mostly usual for Shadowrun books, no index.

This book looks beautiful with the color pieces from the SWT scattered throughout and there is so much implied adventure here as long as you want to focus on the magic and mystical side of the Shadowrun setting. If you prefer to focus on the grim and gritty cycberpunk side, this book will not give you much to use. Still, a worthwhile addition to a GM’s library if not a priority.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Book of the Lost (A Shadowrun Campaign Book)
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Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2017 11:19:27

Through Their Own Eyes: New Personality Features for Fantasy Races for D&D 5e presents good roleplaying tools for constructing nonhuman characters. It is entirely support for character building and is quite helpful for those interested in playing nonhuman characters.

Through Their Own Eyes: New Personality Features for Fantasy Races for D&D 5e by Brandes Stoddard and published by Tribality Publishing is what you would expect, new traits for fantasy cultures tied to the traditional type of fantasy folk. The layout is clear with thematic color photographs for illustrations.

For each dwarves, elves (surface and drow), halflings, gnomes, half-orcs, dragonborn, tieflings, aasimar, goblins, and kobolds there is a short paragraph with thoughts on their culture. Then each of either six or eight options for personality traits (gnomes get ten options here, the only ones that do), ideals, bonds, and flaws to mix and match with those from backgrounds.

The only layout issue is that the notes on aasimar culture are repeated, it is not a lot of wasted space but some more thoughts on aasimar would be interesting. While primary player oriented, a DM can get some food for thought about the nonhuman cultures in their campaign world as well.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Also, Brandes is a friend of mine and one of the players in my original Sea of Stars campaign, but I like to think that did not influence this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
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Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana (Advanced Magic Rulebook)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/25/2017 09:46:44

Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana will be on the list to acquire for anyone GMing a magic heavy Shadowrun campaign, both for useful background information on what is happening with magic and new things to play with. For players, sightly less useful but there is still a lot of good information and interesting options for characters here. Overall, one of the more solid works to come out of for Shadowrun lately.

Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana are the Advanced Magic Rules for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, expanding on the earlier rules presented in the Street Grimoire (which is required to use several sections of this work).

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then it begins with a section called Seeing the Invisible World which talks about how non-magical people perceive magic with a variety of (in game) first hand accounts of encounters with magic. This is useful for both for players and GMs when describing magical effects to characters who cannot directly see magic.

The Magic Mastery section is the character option section starting with new Mastery Qualities representing the ability to manipulate magic in refined ways all of which have requirements, usually skill based, and which can be acquired after character creation (which is good as many of them have steep requirements) at no increase in cost. Some of these provide interesting options, from improved alchemy to allowing mundanes to assist with rituals and new options for peace makers, which are rare in most game systems. New focused spellcasters: elementalist, hedge witch/wizard, null mage and seer provide more ways to have character to use a narrow section of magic. There is new metamagic, including way for characters to flip to insect or toxic shamanism, most of which builds on that presented in the Street Grimoire but tarot magic and necro magic is new to this book. Aspected magicians are expanded with new options for “apprentices,” enchanters, explorers and the barely magical Aware. Of course, there are new spells, including one that manipulates gravity(!) and a few new rituals, including the necro-magic one that creates animated dead things, always good for a scare.

Traditions talks about, well, traditions and how there are changing under the effects of Unified Magical Theory (UMT) and its effects on existing traditions, updating seven existing traditions which include some radical changes to how some of them work which may cause problems in an ongoing campaign with practitioners of these traditions. Some advice for GMs on how to incorporate (or not) the way these traditions change for existing characters would have been helpful. The eleven new traditions cover a lot of ground and variety, from cosmic to green (plant) magic, Olympian gods to Tarot, red (animal) and necro magic, good tools for players and GMs alike. Fourteen new mentor spirits are presented, including one for religions Holy Text, and alternate versions of three existing totems (rat, spider and wolf) are included again, providing some strong new options for those using mentor spirits. Magic oddities introduces the possibility of hybrid traditions and rules for an awakened martial art (Way of Unified Mana Hapsum-do). A section on magical demographics, i.e. how many magically active people are out there?, rounds out this section and is an interesting read.

No prize for guessing what is in the Blood Magic section, this builds on the rule presented in the Street Grimoire and tries to restrict the use of blood magic as well as presenting a noble path (self-sacrifice) that uses blood magic. There is a lot of information on how blood magic works, what sorts of people are drawn to using it and the dangers of doing so. Additionally, there are new blood magic spells and rituals, blood crystals (functionally magical cyberware) and new spirits (bone spirits and blood shades). Lastly, there is the addiction danger of blood magic which will turn the user of blood magic into a remorseless and casual killer if they succumb. Placing limits on blood magic, social and cultural as well as mechanical, is a good call as maybe that will keep players from messing with it.

Where the Wild Things are drops back into UMT and how that has affected the application of magic and spirits in the Sixth World and what (may have) been behind the explosion in the number of wild spirits in the world and the new sorts of spirts than have been appearing including the spirits of beast, radio waves and vehicles! So much fun to have with spirit here. Then, then, a huge amount of metaplot partly revealed through in-game world discussion. This section concludes with statistics for the new spirit types and new rules for summoning and negotiating with wild spirits.

Advanced Alchemy is just that, with a discussion of corporate alchemy, new reagents, new tools, compounds (which are new ways to use alchemy) and preparations (which are common ways spells are bound into alchemical items). All of which give the alchemist considerably greater flexibility and utility which they sorely needed. A short discussion on how the “dark traditions” (blood, insects and toxic) use alchemy to leverage their forms of magic in ugly but effective ways. Research, Rumors and Legends are five bit of knowledge which, unusually but usefully, each come with a set of adventures seeds both for groups with or without an alchemist in them. This section ends with some brief advice for the shadowrunning alchemist, basic but solid.

The entire book ends with an index of all of the new things included inside.

Forbidden Arcana is a useful resource for any Shadowrun campaign in which magic plays a major role and even in those where it is just a background element, it is a useful book for the GMs shelf. It does provide considerable support for alchemist characters and anyone playing such will want at least access to this book (a gift for you GM maybe?) but that is probably is not worth the purchase price alone.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana (Advanced Magic Rulebook)
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Shadowrun: Cutting Aces (Deep Shadows Sourcebook)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2017 14:52:35

Shadowrun: Cutting Aces is a sourcebook for Shadowrun and provides an odd mixed bag of information on the metaplot and setting which providing more options for social-based characters and challenges. As it covers some neglected aspects of the Shadowrun world, such as the Middle East and social skills, it is probably a good investment for a GM but the book is so unfocused unless cons or Constantinople are the focus of your campaign, I cannot say that it should be a priority to acquire.

Shadowrun: Cutting Aces, is a Deep Shadows Sourcebook for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, this particular book covers a variety of sins, confidence games and swindlers, Constantinople (formerly Istanbul) and a bit more about current events in the Sixth World.

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then moves into what is going on with the big megacorporations and the world, including the special election for the Governor of the Seattle Metroplex, what is going on with Spinrad Industries in the Middle East, too much news from Faerie, and -perhaps most importantly- what sorts of cons (and thus scenarios) the situations exposed are ripe for.

Next we have Constantinople, in all its glory, which lacks that most useful of props, a map of the city, the two and a half pages spent on the pre-21st century history of the city would have been better used for maps. Oddly, the Constantinople at a Glance sidebar neglects to mention what languages are used in the city. The city is full of interesting places and adventure potential and the new information blocks for NPCs scattered throughout look useful. It is rather off the usual beaten path for Shadowrunners and while the adventure seeds are interesting, more ways to tie the city into an ongoing campaign would have been useful.

After another fiction section, there is Alibi Artists of Constantinople, twelve interesting NPCs done in traditional NPC stat blocks, not the one used in the previous section which contains some information that should be folded into any NPC that can be used into a contact. This section then has a selection of life modules for those who wish to play confidence artists (and use that alternate character generation method).

The Art of Confidence covers just that, running down the basics of short and long cons. It is mostly a list of traditional cons, sometime with more modern names, and some idea of how they run. At best an overview of the subject but sufficient for the purpose of most games.

Gat and Glad Rags is the toys section with new weapons, clothing (armored mostly), modification to armor, gear including many things that can be useful in a con (tailored perfume, social subscription software), a handful of smaller drones. Information for Sale lists the price to acquire various types of information that can be of use to con artists and shadowrunners both. A selection of new qualities, both positive and negative, almost all social oriented follows. Next a few new adept powers (three) and spells (four). Then it sets up the expanded social interaction section with new “social maneuvers” that really could have been better defined and structured. And this section then ends with a shift into a list of five character (personality) archetypes.

The next section, the Grifter’s Bible, is the rules section starting with Factional Reputation, that is how particular groups see you and what you can use such reputation for. A good idea but possibly too much of a bookkeeping chore as written. Expended rules for social skills detail, maybe excessively, the value of things when Negotiating prices for services (i.e. a run) or selling gear or information. Rules and structure for using the Con skill to actually run cons. Some advice on using Intimidation in the game. And the world thing ends with a page and a half example of the new social rules in action.

Cutting Aces is a interesting resource providing new tools for the GM, and possibly for the players, but it is scattered, covering a lot of ground in different directions. However, maps for the city and tables for the social maneuvering would have made this product more useful.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Cutting Aces (Deep Shadows Sourcebook)
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Three Sorcerous Arts (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/21/2017 08:45:25

Three Sorcerous Arts: Three Sorcerous Origins for Firth Edition provides some excellent options for sorcerers in 5E and expands the range of choices for that class. Everything seems well balanced and if you like playing sorcerer, or using them as rivals to the players, give this product a look.

Three Sorcerous Arts: Three Sorcerous Origins for Firth Edition by Brandes Stoddard and published by Tribality Publishing is just that, three new Sorcerers’ origins (or bloodlines as they would have been called in some other sources) and some supporting magic items. The layout is clear with thematic color photographs for illustrations.

After a very brief introduction to the product, it presents Royal Sorcery, the blood of queens and kings flows through you and imbues your magic. Royal Sorcery provides an interesting mix of increased combat abilities, ally support and Charisma tricks which some payers will delight in, especially though that like to take a leadership role in a game.

Tidal Sorcery is, naturally, tied to the sea and if you want to play an underwater campaign, convince some of your players to take this origin; while they are far from useless inland, they shine in, or under, the sea.

The third origin is Winter Sorcery, the fae touched magic of frost and cold, which does mostly what you would expect with some nice weaving in of the fae’s ability to charm when dealing with creatures who are otherwise not much damaged by cold. The18th level capstone ability, Master of the Frost, gives the ability to impose additional conditions but lacks a note of when those conditions end (I would say a save at the end of each of the target’s actions to shake them off, but clarification would be nice).

Lastly, there are seven new magic items several of which are only for spell casters of various type but just one is a sorcerer only item, though several get attritional benefit when used by particular type or sorcerer (and a few others). These items are all quite potent and worthy of being the end result of quests or major victories.

A solid addition to the options for sorcerers, and other spell-casters when the magic items are included, except for the one concern above (easily fixed) I would have no problem with allowing any of these in my campaign.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Also, Brandes is a friend of mine and one of the players in my original Sea of Stars campaign, but I like to think that did not influence this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Three Sorcerous Arts (5E)
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HARP Loot
Publisher: Iron Crown Enterprises
by Customer Name Withheld [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2016 19:30:09

HARP Fantasy Loot is more than just lists of treasure, it has some good world building advice folded in and a very complete set of magic item creation rules. It should be indispensable for a HARP GM and those of others systems can probably find a goodly amount of material as well but obviously the rule heavy parts would be of much less use.

HARP Fantasy Loot by Jonathan Cassie and published by Iron Crown Enterprises presents rules and advice for loot and treasure for the High Adventure Role Playing (HARP) system. The layout is clean with sparse but good illustrations.

It begins with a short introduction and then moves into a look at what can be defined as loot beyond the obvious treasures, things such as information, items of sentimental value, trade goods and more are all potential loot. This section provides useful advice and good things to keep in mind for a GM.

Next it moves into Loot in the Wilderness, which discusses both loot placement and what sorts of treasure the common monsters of the HARP are likely to have. Some of this is tied specifically to the HARP view of certain creatures (say hobgoblins) but the general sweep of the discussion is still a good guide to the things that should be considered when placing treasure. Two example ruins show how to weave these creatures linked threads together in a setting that character might wish to explore (and loot). Then, Loot in the Big City, which talks more about cities than loot but is a solid reference section all the same covering types of cities: core and periphery, human and other. But indeed some loot can be found in a variety of city markets, though more through trade than seizure.

We then move onto Fabrication & Materials, this section is intimately tied to the HARP system, detailing the rules of creating magic items in the system. The sorts of materials, plant, animal, mineral and even more unusual things (such as hearts of fire) that can be combined to create magic items, and what they can be applied to and how much magic they provide, is carefully detailed. A nice selection of charts provide the costs to create a wide variety of effects which are paid for the components used to create them, providing the basics of a fascinating if clunky system. It then moves onto specific types of items: Potions define the steps needed to make potions, or other consumables, of two general types which provide many different potential potions. Runes are next, which are the scrolls of the HARP system, and are easy and useful items, there is a subset, Crystal Runes, inscribed on gems which are reusable within certain limits. Crafting Talismans covers charms, fetishes and talismans, which all fill the niche of a basic defense or enhancement item and differ in duration, weeks for charms to permanent talismans. Creating high magic items and intelligent items wraps up the fairly comprehensive fabrication section.

The short Now What? Chapter deals (briefly) with debased currency but mostly with what happens when magic items go wonky with some tables to help out the GM when such happen.

The last third of so of the book is random treasure tables and a general overview on the various kinds of loot that can be found, from coins to cultural artifacts. Then in moves to an adventure favorite sort of loot, magic, with many magic item lists and descriptions of the unusual ones, most of which come with some implied world building and a few of which are jokey or punny, so be warned. But overall a wide selection of interesting items that, while statted for HARP, could be easily adapted to other settings.

The book ends with an index, which is always helpful.

For a GM of HARP, this book is likely to be invaluable. For those who play other systems, there is still a lot of good material here but perhaps not enough to justify its purchase.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HARP Loot
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Kemonomimi - Moe Races (5e)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Customer Name Withheld [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2016 16:33:59

Kemononmimi: Moe Races for Dungeons & Dragons 5e opens some interesting options for character race by opening seven races of animal spirit touched beings for use as characters. While they certainly will not be to the taste of every player, or fit in every campaign, there are some good and useful ideas here that are worth taking a look at if animal-themed races have a place in your game world.

Kemononmimi: Moe Races for Dungeons & Dragons 5e by Wojciech Gruchala and Greg LaRose and published by Amora Game presents the seven new subraces of the Kemononmimi, animal spirits given human form to aid humanity. The layout is clear with color artwork illustration for each of the different type of Kemononmimi.

Simply put the Kemononmimi are animal spirits that were given human form to aid, guide and protect humanity. For example, the Inumimi (dog spirits) were tasked as guardians and the Akaimimi (red panda spirits) are to help humankind in its spiritual and meditative journey. They all share darkvision, an affinity for the animals their spirits reflect but otherwise have statistic and skill bonuses to reflect their personalities and assigned role. It seems to me that the universal traits could have been placed at the beginning of the descriptions rather than fully repeated for each but that is a minor layout issue.

For the right campaign niche, they could be quite interesting to encounter in game and the animal-person vibe will appeal to some players. Though some DM guideline on divination might not have been a bad call as the Akaimimi gain supernatural insight in the form of the Augury spell once a day, and if you give a player character a free use of Augury each day, they are going to use it. The other spirits all have their own themes as well with the effect that there is a subrace of the Kemononmimi here for most player styles.

If this product has a weakness is that it is only the Kemononmimi, no backgrounds or other support material is provided to allow for quick, thematic character generation.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Races (5e)
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Genies (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Customer Name Withheld [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2016 13:31:52

Genies for Fifth Edition is not, as one might expect from the title, a book of genie-type creatures (though it does include four genies of legend) but rather primarily a book about genies and their magic. If you are thinking of including genies in your D&D Fifth edition game, this product, though short, will give you useful ideas and tools to build from.

Genies for Fifth Edition is for D&D 5e by Colin McLaughlin and published by Tribality Publishing is about genies and their magic. The layout is clear with thematic color photographs for illustrations.

It begins with a brief look at how genies perceive the world and the four elemental courts they are organized into, and what they want. It is short but evocative and provides the framework for the rest of the book.

Next are four genies of legend, each one a powerful exemplar of its element and has their own lair, briefly described, complete with lair actions. These are tough (CR 16) beings so not everyday encounters but good to have access to in a world with genies about.

Next there are new spells: one aligned with each element for Cantrip (Zero), First and Fourth Level spells. The First level spells are an interesting design as each enhance the cantrip of the same elemental type. While the fourth level spells let you call upon the power of the genie-kind, granting you a spark of their power including protection from their element.

Eleven new magic items (the “Genie’s Horde”) round out the product with a good mix of weapons, defenses and utility items including a cursed hat and a carpet that functions as a trap. A nice selection even if a few are quite specialized, a common trait among D&D magic items though.

A good selection of genie-based magic and idea here, that being said, it really seems like this book should have had a genie-based subclass or two to really have a character type who was integrated into the lore presented here.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Genies (5E)
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Kemonomimi - Moe Races (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Customer Name Withheld [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/16/2016 16:26:34

Kemononmimi: Moe Races for Pathfinder opens some interesting thematic options for character race. While they certainly will not be to the taste of every player, or fit in every campaign, there are some fun and interesting ideas here that are worth taking a look at if animal-themed races have a place in your game world.

Kemononmimi: Moe Races for Pathfinder by Wojciech Gruchala and Greg LaRose and published by Amora Game presents the seven new subraces of the Kemononmimi, animal spirits given human form to aid humanity. The layout is clear with color artwork illustration for each of the different type of Kemononmimi.

Simply put the Kemononmimi are animal spirits that were given human form to aid, guide and protect humanity. For example, the Inumimi (dog spirits) were tasked as guardians and the Akaimimi (red panda spirits) are to help humankind in its spiritual and meditative journey. They all share low-light vision and an affinity for the animals their spirits reflect but otherwise have statistic and skill bonuses to reflect their personalities and assigned role.

For the right campaign niche, they could be quite interesting to encounter in game and the animal-person vibe will appeal to some players. Some of the particular abilities are quite interesting the Akaimimi gain supernatural insight, the Araiguma (raccoon spirits) can dowse for water and purify food by washing it in clean water while the Usagimimi (hare spirits) have a creative craftsman ability reflecting their roles as builders that encourage in game crafting. So, there is a subrace of the Kemononmimi here for most player styles.

The products only weakness is that it is just the subraces, no traits, feats, or other support material is provided to really flesh them out and give them focused, thematic options.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Races (PFRPG)
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Shadowrun: Howling Shadows
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/12/2016 19:25:55

Shadowrun: Howling Shadows is the latest creature book for Shadowrun and as such provides new beings and new challenges. Worth putting on the ‘pick up if you are a GM list’ as it provides so many useful tools and potential adventure ideas, not nearly so useful for players but still a good read.

Shadowrun: Howling Shadows, is a Core Critter Book for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, so it provides additional information on the strange, wonderful and dangerous creatures out and about in the Sixth World.

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then it looks into how (meta)humanity and (para)animals interact from pets to the nations that include awaken animals as citizens or even rulers. An interesting section though the viewpoint of the ‘author’ (as it is written in character) is a bit annoying at times.

Then we move to the part important to the core of the game, Untamed Security, which talks about how animals and para-animals are used by corporate security with subsections on how to train animals and how to defeat them. The section ends with a quick guide to how the Big Ten megacorps approach using animals for or with their security.

Next up is mundane animals, alligator, boar, cockroaches and other animals we would recognize along with rules for basic genetic modifications (cloned, luminescent and so on) of such animals. Eight new mentor spirits, from alligator to spider, are included in this section and add some nice options for magical characters.

Following is Paranormal Animals, filled with weird and wonderful creatures from the omnipresent (and omnivorous) devil rat to cerberus hounds and vollying porcupines, a fun variety to bedevil shadowrunners with. My only complaint is that there are only a few illustrations and the descriptions are often short or nonexistent, yes, we can guess what a greater wolverine is like but what does a piasma or peryton look like? We can guess but a proper description, or better yet, illustration, would have been very helpful. A subsection covers beings altered by the HMHVV (Human-MetaHuman Vampiric Virus) which comes in three types and can infect and alter just about any sentient creature, so you have elvish banshee, human vampires, ghouls and so on. Interesting and dangerous foes or possibly friends for those that still possess their intelligence.

For fun and destruction, there is a selection of Toxic Creatures and Mutants that have been changed and empowered by toxic wastes and radiation and even a couple warped by bad juju. Lovely creatures such as Radhounds, radioactive dogs that hunt in packs, and souleater leeches that, well, I will let you work that out. Many of these creatures are scenarios waiting to happen, if your shadowrunners are up to the task, most of these creatures are really dangerous. This also has a section on the awakened creatures infected by HMHVV, so lamia (infected naga), chupacabra (which seem to be genetically engineered creatures deliberately infected) and others are covered here. In this section there are two pieces of art that showed up in the first HMHVV section which is mildly annoying.

Extraplanar Travelers talks about being from the magical metaplanes who visit or have been pulled into our world, they are manifest spirits often of considerable power and alien agenda. Interesting stuff here but using it strikes me as risking really changing the tone from fantasy cyberpunk to high fantasy with high tech trappings. That warning being mentioned, I do like the Chindi, Native American vengeance spirits, and the spirit of a city made manifest, some good plot thread could be spun off from them.

Then come Technocreatures, which are to animals what technomancers are to other people, i.e. animals that can interact in technology in unique and occasionally destructive ways. From data devouring snakes to playful hacking dolphins, fun stuff to disrupt the cozy lives of the technology dependant.

Next there are the Protospapients, creatures of resonance who live in the deep web and munge (consume) code, including the dark dwelling Grue and the Sintax who very presence makes systems vulnerable to exploitation. These are things to use carefully to drive stories not just to make life miserable for characters, which they would be perfect for, but do not be that GM.

Drakes get a more in depth write up, which admits that no one is really sure how the dragons make them but they do, and more rules for playing a drake and more options for drakes. Though they are more likely to show up as NPCs then player characters as it is so expensive to play one.

The final informational section is Building Man’s Best Friend which covers: creating chimeric creatures, that blend traits from multiple creatures, Warforms, which are genetically perfected animals, dogs being especially popular. Along with discussion of augmenting creatures through various technological means. This section concludes with rules for training animals.

The book wraps up with new critter powers, an index to all of the critter power and a guide to where to find the various creatures. Though it seems odd, and a missed opportunity, that we do not get any new qualities related to animals or other things included in this book.

Howling Shadows is a useful resource providing new tools for the GM, and possibly for the players, with a considerable amount of implied adventure ideas.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Howling Shadows
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Mysteries of the Gods (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/11/2016 12:16:23

Mysteries of the Gods: New Cleric Domains and Spells for D&D 5e opens some interesting options for Clerics in 5e with both new Domains and new spells. Each of the new Domains suggests an interesting direct for faith in a world and the spells provide some solid support, if you are pondering what to do with clerics in your game it is well worth looking at.

Mysteries of the Gods: New Cleric Domains and Spells for D&D 5e by Brandes Stoddard and published by Tribality Publishing presents just that, three new domains and eight spells. The layout is clear with thematic color photographs for illustrations.

The Blood Domain draws on the idea of blood as potent force both of life and death, its tricks are mostly combat oriented enhancing both healing and offense. A nice balance and suitable for both heroes and villains.

The Exorcist Domain is much more focus and, as a helpful sidebar note, may not be suitable for all campaigns because of that. Its focus is on driving out possessors and denying the ability of otherworldly creatures to control others and it should be very effective in that role.

The third Domain, Spirit, slightly recasts the Cleric as shaman and mediator with the spirits (rather than a prestress of a god or gods), this domain gains a spirit guardian who protects and aid the Cleric and provides useful ability that are triggered by Channel Divinity. A interesting adaption of the clerical powers to a different aspect of spiritual belief.

Of the eight new spells, four are damaging cantrips, two of which are associated with the new domains (spirit claw for the Spirit Domain and word of censure for Exorcism) which are appropriately flavored, I would live to see a version of song of battle cantrip for the Paladin as it is so well themed. The remains four spells are 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th level and all are strongly in theme with the cleric, especially the Exorcist, righteous accusation which has the optional material component of a scroll detailing the target’s crimes is fantastic. While a few the spells might lean a bit too much towards a Christian vision of the divine for some, I think that framing has always been part of clerical magic in D&D and thus appropriate.

A solid addition to the options for cleric, I would have no problem with allowing any of these in my campaign.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Also, Brandes is a friend of mine and one of the players in my original Sea of Stars campaign, but I like to think that did not influence this review.

Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mysteries of the Gods (5E)
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Shadowrun: Market Panic (Campaign Book)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/03/2016 15:55:33

Shadowrun: Market Panic lets you know what is going on with the megacorporation at the top of the business food chain in the Sixth World of Shadowrun. It is an interesting read and has a lot of background material that with work, could be leveraged into interesting game sessions but there is very little support for the actual game of Shadowrun in this book, it is almost entirely background material. While a fascinating read, how much use it will actually be for a campaign depends on how tightly your game is tied into higher level corporate politics.

Shadowrun: Market Panic, is a Shadowrun Campaign Book for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, so what does that mean? It means that this book all about the top tier megacorporations, the movers and shakers in the Shadowrun world.

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then it looks into what life is like for the average corporate worker via a heavily noted “day in the life” report on a corporate drone. Some interesting perspective on how life is lived among the corporate masses. For the average game masters, this is probably the single most useful section.

Next, Courting Disaster, discusses the Corporate Court that oversees sorting out “disputes” between the major corporations. It gives a brief history of the court and how it has become a major power in its own right even as serving as a tool of the top megacorporations. The current judges each get a brief description but mostly this serves as a framework for the current corporate power struggles.

The rest of the product is looking at the Big Ten megacorporations in detail starting with Ares and ending with Wuxing and each starts with a one page fiction piece that tells you something about the corp followed by their corporate ranking, list of major shareholders and divisions. While each is done in a slightly different format, generally each corporation’s history, corporate culture and current plans and troubles are examined along with a short section on typical runs for and against that megacorp are covered.

These corporate profiles are the bulk of the product, filling more than 170 pages of the 210 of the book. There seems to be some minor editing problems as the information within each profile sometimes conflicts with those presented in others, but arguably some of that can be written off as the idiosyncratic views of the various section presenters. But it is a bit strange to read one section about how Mitsuhama is now number one, pushing down Saeder-Krupp to the number two ranking while the NeoNet section is all about how they are almost number two. It also assumes a fair amount of familiarity of the setting name-dropping people and places with little context that could be confusing to a new arrival to the setting.

Market Panic is an interesting sourcebook but it is essentially all deep background material. Which is interesting reading and all unless you are running a campaign with really high powered characters, the politics between this CEO or that board of directors is really not important. Especially not to the street level shadowrunner trying to earn the money for their next meal. A discussion on how corporate politics affect shadowrunner and runners would have been helpful and made this book more than just an interesting read.

Consider my rating of this to be 3.5, rounded up to 4 for the RPGNow system.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Market Panic (Campaign Book)
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By Flame, Storm, and Thorn (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2016 15:44:01

By Flame, Storm, and Thorn: Three Ranger Archetypes for D&D 5e opens some solid options for Rangers in 5e and nicely expands the range of choices for that class. Everything seems well balanced and if you like playing rangers, give this a look.

By Flame, Storm, and Thorn: Three Ranger Archetypes for D&D 5e by Brandes Stoddard and published by Tribality Publishing is just that, three new Ranger archetypes. The layout is clear with thematic color photographs for illustrations.

The Lantern-Bearer, unsurprisingly, uses a lantern both as a weapon and as a focus for magical light that can protect and heal, allowing the ranger to provide support as well as direct combat potential. A nice balance.

While the Stormcloak melds the tempest to the ranger, giving them the ability to ride out (and later briefly ride) storms while bringing the wrath of the storm to their foes in the form of lightning and thunder. Really, it is pretty much what you would expect from the name, not subtle but effective.

Lastly, there is the Thornguard which stretches the rules in interesting ways by giving the ranger the ability to set traps which inflict various temporary status effects and can be enhanced by spending spell slots. Very clever and a nicely builds on the ranger theme as a defender.

A solid addition to the options for rangers, I would have no problem with allowing any of these in my campaign.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Also, Brandes is a friend of mine and one of the players in my original Sea of Stars campaign, but I like to think that did not influence this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
By Flame, Storm, and Thorn (5E)
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Seekers of Fortune
Publisher: Rats in the Rain
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2016 14:18:36

These class option products from Rats in the Rain provides expansion to the new D&D rules, each providing a new background, two new class paths (one of these race specific) and a new full 20-level class. Nice to see people grasping the new OGL with both hands and creating things with it, now let us see how successful they are.

The products are fairly minimalist, two-column layout with art from public domain sources, it is clean and readable if not particularly exciting.

Seekers of Fortune has the Town Crier background, which is a good option for social (or just loud) characters. The new paths are Master Thrower for Fighters and Mountain Defender for dwarven fighters, the Master Thrower does what you would expect and has a set of new throwing weapons (including the caber!) to give them more flexibility, while the Mountain Defender is built around an idea that I frankly find silly, that of the two shield fighter but that being said, it runs with the idea fairly well. The new class is the Harlequin which is a very strange class, having limited spell use, D12 hit dice but no armor and is restricted to simple weapons, and an odd grab bag of powers, not sure what to make of this class but the idea of a battle jester is an amusing one, so I like the concept even if the execution is odd.

Overall, an interesting mix of adaption and innovation, and certainly useful as reference and inspiration even if not all will be useful for every campaign.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Seekers of Fortune
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Warriors of Destiny
Publisher: Rats in the Rain
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2016 14:18:21

These class option products from Rats in the Rain provides expansion to the new D&D rules, each providing a new background, two new class paths (one of these race specific) and a new full 20-level class. Nice to see people grasping the new OGL with both hands and creating things with it, now let us see how successful they are.

The products are fairly minimalist, two-column layout with art from public domain sources, it is clean and readable if not particularly exciting.

Warriors of Destiny provide Tavern Owner as a background, which works, though perhaps it could have been broadened a little to encompass all sort of tavern worker. Druid Lyricist for Bards and Eldritch Archer for elvenkind Rangers only are the new paths, the Lyricist -obviously- blends druidic magic with bardic ways, which has a good tradition in D&D, and has the ability to increase the potency of their ally’s magic which may be a little too powerful, the eldritch archer does pretty much what you would expect but fill a common trope. The new class is the Ninja which is a hybrid of the monk and rogue class but nothing particularly groundbreaking or innovative but it does work as a classic cinematic ninja.

Overall, an interesting mix of adaption and innovation, and certainly useful as reference and inspiration even if not all will be useful for every campaign.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Warriors of Destiny
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