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Into The Pit 9 - Pits and Traps
Publisher: Forever People
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/26/2012 12:58:05
There's some lovely elements in this set. I especially like the "Surprising Pit in 5 parts" - there's a different tile for each stage of the opening pit. Optional modular parts like a waterfall being interchangeable with a lavafall are a nice touch. There's plenty of unique whole-room pieces which can be used for one-off encounters as part of your own dungeon with your usual plans, but they probably look astounding when used with the other sets from the series.
The style is colourful, very atmospheric - there's a good balance between computer-generated art and old style free-line details.
Lots of imagination and creativity has gone into this. Inspiring stuff!
-Billiam B.
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into The Pit 9 - Pits and Traps
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Empire of the Petal Throne (Original Manuscript)
Publisher: M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/26/2012 12:35:54
A rare and ancient artefact!
If you have a mental entry-point to the world named "Tekumel" or "EPT" then you may get rather excited about this document which was originally released prior to TSR's 1975 release of this D&D based game. What is delightful about this manuscript is that it is both a facsimile and an e-text book. The odd numbered pages reminded me of the pre-photocopy spirit duplicated worksheets we had in primary school - rendered readable by the digital text on the even pages. This is an artefact from gaming history, so very close to the genesis of the tabletop role-playing game. Dedicated EPT fans will possibly be very charmed by this, the earliest of the editions and will possibly not think twice about the $15 price tag.
If you're already a player or fan of EPT then you may want to take a long educated browse through the Original Manuscript; if you're researching a genre or looking for the quintessential old-school gaming experience, but are still very new to EPT, then you're probably better off downloading the TSR1975 rulebook and maps first. :)
-Billiam B.
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Empire of the Petal Throne (Original Manuscript)
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/26/2012 12:27:59
Beautifully presented, lots of graphic novel art. System: plot points and dice pooling will appeal to modern players - it looks pretty fast play, if you remember the right formulas for mixing up the abilities dice - some help is provided by a couple of handy prompt sheets. There's plenty of the more popular heroes to choose from, but being a basic game, there's not much in the way of adversaries beyond the scenario included - so curious referees will feel obliged to buy more material pretty quickly. I like the fact that the hero stat cards are also provided in a grey format which may hurt colour printers a little less than the high contrast glossy colours of the manual.
One for the new generation of Marvel fans. :)
-Billiam B.
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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Black Crusade: Game Master's Kit
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2012 23:35:01
Interior and border art alone is utterly stunning! (Full colour PDF only)
Slick table presentation, nice little adventures and forbidden background information for "Heretical Campaigns"!

Billiam B
bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Black Crusade: Game Master's Kit
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Thousand Suns: Rulebook
Publisher: Grognardia Games
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2012 08:54:58
My printed copy has arrived! It's C-format hardback - which is a really portable size - looks incredibly like a school book sci-fi text. Also got the PDF on the iPad. (Well worth the $30)

At the moment I'm mainly buying games to read -and what a great read! Well fleshed out background ideas based on the classic 40s-60s "Imperial" theme, whilst providing a vast open setting to develop and explore. Very informed, with literary quotes scattered throughout.

Strangely enough, I haven't read half enough books from that period, and my concept of "Space Opera" was more based on Star Wars, so it's refreshing that the game is presented as a "straight" setting, without the camp Flash Gordon associations, so prevalent in some retro-sci-fi games.

Given the choice between playing this and my GDW Traveller, I would choose this, partly because the fast play d12 mechanics provide a broader probability range with more opportunities for modification (see the previous review for a brief description of the d12* system) But also because I love the feel of rolling two d12s. ;)

The presentation is incredibly slick and professional, with a high standard of illustrations, consistent with the classic sci-fi theme, whilst the starships have a plausible clean hi-tech look.

The section on Esperanto took me by surprise! :) This is an optional extra will entertain dedicated fans lovers of the genre.

James Maliszewski is a master of game and gaming culture observation (I'm a fan of his Grognardia blog). It's great to see those skills channelled into this game.

It's also a "complete" system. This rulebook is pretty much all you need.

If you're curious... just go for it.

Billiam B.
bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Thousand Suns: Rulebook
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Companion Expansion
Publisher: Barrataria Games
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2012 13:38:25
A hundred-plus pages of old school fantasy goodness! Perfect for players who only have access to basic/expert level play in old D&D sets or "retro-clone" product-equivalents.

Billiam B
bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Companion Expansion
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The Little Book of Dungeons: Geomorphs
Publisher: Crooked Staff Publishing
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/28/2011 15:37:12
Simply: sublimely awesome.

12 of the 15 pages of this pack are dedicated to geomorphic map tiles of varying size at a small enough scale to be practical to a dungeon master assembling a large level at speed (i.e. maps for reference, but not cumbersome tiles for minis).

Currently at $1, this is a marvellously fun resource of a quality I have come to expect from CSP, which I believe, in terms of grey-scale black and white printing, rivals products by larger publishers, like WotC and Paizo.

Simple single shade geomorphs used to be a traditional staple of fantasy gaming, but these, by contrast, have a high modern production standard in terms of design, texture, shadow and believable solid dungeon structure, whilst also being free of smaller details - allowing for a creative DM to decorate and populate the dungeon to match their campaign.

Excellent. :)

Billiam B
(http://bit.ly/rpgblog)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Little Book of Dungeons: Geomorphs
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Fantasy Clip Inks:: Magic Items set 2
Publisher: Outland Arts
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2011 14:28:45
This is a really splendid pack of 33 black and white line art .tiff files from talented artist William McAusland. The art will work well as specific items or as an RPG rule book interior filler art. Wands, potions, crystal ball, weapons - all could be employed as paragraph or chapter dividers. This is also perfect for a dungeon master who likes to prepare treasure for his players in "hand-out" card format.
The sharp lines and high contrast mean that these images are well suited for all black/white printing.
If you're a writer or publisher this pack is good value for money, bearing in mind the potential these images have in transmogrifying you manuscript into a professional and beautiful product!
Excellent.

Billiam B
( http://bit.ly/rpgblog )

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Clip Inks:: Magic Items set 2
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Judgment Day
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/12/2011 15:46:04
Slick, comprehensive, professional, inspiring. The product lives up to its description and has quality illustrations to boot.

If you're a fan of modern horror, Buffy, or Constantine, or anything with a good vs evil war, and you like the Savage Worlds system then there's oodles of material here tailored just for you.

Happy demon hunting!

Billiam B
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Judgment Day
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Legend
Publisher: Mongoose
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2011 20:11:04
RQ-style game with lush black and white illustrations.

I'm loving what I'm seeing so far, but the Games Mastery section seems a little light - a handful of pages at the back tagged onto what feels like a player's guide; no bestiary, or NPCs, no sample quests, but in using RQII (Mongoose) system, the range of source material out there is quite substantial. One explanation is that since Legend is very "human" centric - the adversaries can be generated using the main rules - but what lovely rules!

The character backgrounds have just enough general facts to provide history back-story and motivation, which an inventive GM will merge with the gameworld. The format is novice-friendly with examples of character a called "Alaric" throughout.

I'm drawn to the familiar here, but I realise that a more thorough read may reveal subtle nuances specific to this game.

For the moment it is a mere one dollar. Clearly Mongoose Publishing is trying to get us hooked! :)

Billiam B.
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend
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[PFRPG] Purple Mountain I: Temple of the Locust Lord
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2011 08:01:45
This is a really well presented module. Although it represents one level of the Purple Mountain megadungeon, it could also be played individually in a low level campaign for pathfinder / DnD3.5 – but could easily be adapted by a confident DM to most systems, since there’s a focus on environment and some NPC motivation/tactics - enough "meat" for any system.

Don’t be fooled any negative associations with the term “Megadungeon” – the encounters follow logically, the adversaries are consistent with a dungeon population and themes, there’s also few nods to dungeon ecology.

The dungeon level has a traditional gaming feel, but the descriptions are modern and slick.

Purple Mountain 1 ‘Locust Lord has inherited from classic dungeoneering style the very best elements of play and plot by the way it is guided by the physical environment of the dungeon - which was the original purpose of a original D&D dungeon - as opposed to the war gaming open field of battle.

The DM is given plenty of “what if/then” guidance if the players are struggling or alternative approaches to reaching the end points of the plot.

Appendices (inc. Monster stats) and inset tip boxes make this scenario very easy on the eye and implies minimal preparatory work on behalf of the DM.

I’m especially excited about this product because it can be played using it’s sister product – a gorgeous and massive battle-map by CSP (briefly looked in my post here). I’m a sucker for glossy play aids.

As I type this, the product is at an absolutely bargain price for what you get. Disgustingly cheap! If you don’t buy this product now, definitely keep an eye out for deeper levels in the Purple Mountain. Again – this is playable as a single dungeon in its own right, the fact that it is part of a series of a huge sprawling megadungeon structure is a plus.

Billiam B
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Purple Mountain I: Temple of the Locust Lord
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WCP's Monstrous Garage
Publisher: Escape Velocity Gaming
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/13/2011 08:29:09
A really nice strip-down and boost-up kit for a selection of monsters. Ideal for 4e DMs who find themselves tailoring and scaling their encounters. WCP's system is fast to use and well-illustrated.

Billiam B.
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
WCP's Monstrous Garage
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Purple Mountain: Level 1 Battle-Map
Publisher: Crooked Staff Publishing
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/06/2011 07:15:01
Why are you even reading this? Are you having doubts?
It's 25 pages of printable dungeon. It's massive. It's looks great.
It's a bargain too!

Go for it. :)

http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Mountain: Level 1 Battle-Map
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Kobold Quarterly Magazine 19
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2011 06:04:06
Highlights of KQ19 (or what I liked) :

- A complete character class for Pathfinder, moral knife-edge White Necromancer - an "enlightened" breed of necromancers as opposed to the "foul, twisted individuals obsessed with corruption and death." Which made me grin. Bad necromancers, bad!
- An article by Monte Cook on making races more "flavourful" deserves a mention because he suggests that "Elves never get dirty." could be an actual class feature. Cue: blood and mud splashed heroes looking over at the sparkling-clean elf, picking something from under a nail.
- A pick up and play d20 style solo text entitled "Aneela, Human Cleric - Party of One"

There's also articles with cool ideas about traps and playing characters as werewolves (I've noticed on my travels that people like werewolves, when they're not going on about zombies or vampires, pirates or combinations of...).

Although Kobold Quarterly mainly caters for Pathfinder and 4E, I'm often supprised at how transferable many of the ideas are, for example, the article about Magic Items Shops would be relevant to almost any fantasy RPG running mid to high level campaign - also the Midgard settings article could customise most locales.

My PDF copy was a free review copy, but I think if you're shopping for inspiration it's worth the $5.99 it's selling at on DriveThru.


Summary:
KQ19 - Slick, professional, inspirational, good teeth, class act all around. :)


Billiam B.
http://bit.ly/rpgblog

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kobold Quarterly Magazine 19
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Printable Pawns: Basic Dungeoneers
Publisher: Fantanomicon Press
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/22/2011 09:49:06
I like these. It's a proper selection of adventurers of a unique style, and simple enough assembly for those of us with big thumbs - with an option of different styles. The black and white line art option would also be great for players (younger and older!) who like colouring pictures in. :)
It's a great debut set - nice that it's free.
Looking forward more from Fantomicon Press. :)

Billiam B
( bit.ly/rpgblog )

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Printable Pawns:  Basic Dungeoneers
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