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Lost Artifacts of Greyghast - A 5e Magic Item Compendium
Publisher: Many-Sided Dice
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/01/2018 16:22:21

I know what you're thinking. Ah, yeah, another magic item book. Why do I need another magic item book, anyway? Well, yes, this is true. Lost Artifacts is a magic item book at its core. But this book is a LOT more than just a magic item book. First of all it's friggin' HUGE. If you ever decide to quit playing D&D, you could always tie a chain to this and use it as an anchor for your boat. Secondly, it is GORGEOUS. There is a lot of really brilliant fantasy art in here, page after page of amazing items and artwork. But the most important reason you want to get this, as GM at least, is because each of these hundred odd artifacts has an actual STORY to them, and those stories WILL kick off your creative juices and can easily turn into unique adventures for your campaign that you build yourself. There's really a LOT of little hooks here in nearly every item description. You could write adventures for multiple campaigns with all the good ideas here. And that it why this book is a highly recommended for 5e DM's. And as for players, well hey, some of these items are also really USEFUL, so you could pick up a copy and try to convince your DM to put one of these in the next random chest or goblin horde. Yeah, right. I mean, sure, it COULD happen. So why not buy and try?!

Art: 5/5 Story: 5/5 Crunch: 5/5 Value: 5/5

OVERALL: 5/5 - Highly recommended for DMs and tentatively recommended for players of 5th Edition.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Artifacts of Greyghast - A 5e Magic Item Compendium
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The Pine Barrens
Publisher: DARK BY DEZIGN
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/14/2018 20:53:48

The Pine Barrens feels like a love letter to the slasher flicks of the 70's and 80's like Haloween, Friday the 13th series, Nightmare on Elm Street, and more. There are some really twisted scenes in this, but it's all good, as long as the players are up to a huge challenge. Even with a full party of level 8 characters, this adventure has a lot of potential for TPK's at every corner. You may wish to tone down the challenge of some of the combat and instead focus on the horror elements like the creepy ghosts, insane asylum inmates, witches, cultists, slashers, and all around monstrous denizens that wander the Turzee Island, including the infamous TURZEE DEVIL!

FEATURES:

  • Excellent artwork
  • Lots of player handouts to get them in the mood
  • Lots of great maps / cartography
  • Twisted dark encounters with creepy NPCs
  • Good variety of encounters and locations

If the DM puts another small village on the other side of one of the working bridges to the island for the players to use as a base of operations, this module, at over 100 pages of content, could easily last you several sessions of fun if not an entire campaign. This is written for Pathfinder but could also pretty easily be used for 5e or other OGL d20 based games, or even OSR / original edition games with a little minor tweaking. This is a great bargain for the amount of excellent content. Also the book is FULL of great player handouts, maps, creepy as hell artwork, and other content that you can use to evoke the "slasher flick" feel. Put on the soundtrack to Friday the 13th and dim the lights, and you're players will have nightmares for days!

This is part 4 in a 7 part series of very loosely tied adventures that began with Escape from Skullkeep Island. No prior experience with the earlier adventures is required to understand this, at all (there's little that ties them together other than the PC's). Each one of these had gotten progressively more and more sophisticated, and Pine Barrens is so far easily my favorite adventure put out so far by Dark by Dezign. It's quite the bargain given how much content is here compared to the price. You could do a lot worse than pick this up if you like dark fantasy and horror themed adventures. RECOMMENDED!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Pine Barrens
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The Ghoul Well
Publisher: DARK BY DEZIGN
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/24/2018 11:12:52

TL/DR: Nice starter adventure for level 1 or 2 party that can be done in a single session, at a sweet price.

A murder most foul. A baron gone mad with jealousy. An island full of danger for those who seek justice. A boat load of treasure for a crafty band of murder-hobos.

PROS:

  1. Only $1 for 11 pages of actual content is a steal (excluding pages like covers, licenses, or credits).
  2. Nice mix of creatures to deal with.
  3. Cool maps and interesting areas to explore.
  4. Evocative artwork that captures the mood of this decidedly grim fetch quest.
  5. Nice opening story that is generic enough that could easily fit into most campaign settings with minor tweaks.
  6. Should be easy to convert to other d20 RPGs like 3.5e or 5e with little trouble.
  7. A good adventure for new DM's and/or a party of new Players.
  8. Leaves room for some follow up adventures (and promises to have 2 more sequels).

CONS: (No points removed for these because basically these are just things I wish were included and the author already gave a lot of value for the price)

  1. A few missed opportunities for some non-combat scenes that a seasoned DM could make minor changes to add.
  2. Could have used a few more maps and also some maps for VTT play added as JPGs to the package.
  3. There's some missing details about NPCs that can be encountered that could have added more depth to the story.
  4. Some of the encounters will most likely result in a party wipe of level 1's without making a few changes. New DMs or those with new players should take care not to overwhelm the PCs with too many creatures at one time unless they are being stupid.

CONCLUSION: You really can't ask for a better $1 adventure, and this is a sweet little starter adventure for a new campaign. Highly recommended for a DM starting off a new Pathfinder or 5e or other fantasy RPG game and needing content his players probably never saw before. The writing is solid and the artwork is good, and this adventure hits all the right notes for an engaging evening of fantasy role playing. I eagerly await more in this series! This adventure is especially good for new DM's who want something easy to run that will still provide some challenge for even seasoned players.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ghoul Well
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Slaughterhouse Of The Ogre Mage
Publisher: DARK BY DEZIGN
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/24/2018 07:00:43

TL/DR: A stand alone "oriental" adventure with really great art, good cartography, and plenty of player-handout material, bargain priced for the amount of content that is here.

You know Kung Fu? Well you better know some before taking on this blood soaked "drive-in double-feature" bounty-hunt reminescent of Kill Bill or other extremely violent Kung Fu movies. Do not enter this adventure without a big ass sword and a really strong stomach. Fans of really dark, violent action will probably really like this adventure. It really gives players a chance to cut loose with the carnage. Unfortunately it also seems like a good place for a GM to cut loose with the carnage against the players. A level 5 or even 6 party has about a snowball's chance in hell of surviving this adventure without copious pit-stops.

PROS:

  1. Lots of creatures and opponents here that are fun and rarely encountered in most published adventures.
  2. An interesting dungeon design that is quite surprising and intersting, with some really cool puzzles and traps.
  3. Enemies that are so nasty and arrogant they just have a "come kill me now, kill me a lot" sign written on them.
  4. Artwork is excellent, lots of cool "oriental" flavoring.
  5. Solid cartography and plenty of player-handout pages.

CONS:

  1. It would be preferable to have the maps as JPG files for easier use on VTT.
  2. Severe balance issues (see below).
  3. No real personal investment into the story for the PC's, somehow the GM will want to tie in the ogre magi's forces into the histories of the PC's so they really, really, want to kill them. All.

Balance Issues: For real I don't see how any 5 member party of level 5 standard Pathfinder characters could possibly make it through this grind house without using tactics like going in, surviving 3 or 4 encounters, going out, resting, going back and somehow the enemy hasn't really changed anything to tighten up defenses, doing a few more encounters, going out, resting, repeat. Which would make no sense, the Ogre Magi would start putting up more defenses earlier so it would completely change the "dungeon" layout and encounters, in my opinion. I feel like this adventure would challenge a party of level 9-10 characters. Even level 11-12 characters would not find it to be a cakewalk, and would have to rest a few times. Level 5's? They're going to get seriously murdered unless the GM is not playing the monsters to their full potential. Nearly every encounter has the potential for a TPK, and on top of that, a lot of the encounters are in close proximity to each other, and battles could cause enough noise to bring reinforcements that would ENSURE a TPK of level 5's. Admittedly I haven't run the adventure yet to verify what happens on a play test, but damn! I would suggest just waiting until your players reach level 8 at earliest before throwing this at them.

Conclusion: This is still a very solid adventure, I just feel that it's geared for a party of more competent characters if they want to really be successful. This adventure would not be hard to convert to 5e or 3.5e or other editions of d20 based role playing games. Even if you don't use this adventure outright, there's plenty of fun encounters here that you can borrow and transport into adventures of your own design, so you really can't beat the price tag for this amount of well written and interesting NPCs, enemies, and encounters. Not to mention there's some cool magic items and ideas for traps here too. I only took one point off for balance issues, you could do a lot worse than pick this up. This is billed as part 3 of 7 in a string of adventures but the adventures so far in the series have little to nothing to do with each other, so I'd treat it as a stand alone.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Slaughterhouse Of The Ogre Mage
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Escape The Lair
Publisher: DARK BY DEZIGN
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2018 16:58:14

TL/DR: 75 pages of Tomb of Horror style dungeon romp for Pathfinder, or easily converted to 3.x or even 5e, with tons of great artwork, player handouts, and great looking cartography that will work well for VTT use.

Escape the Lair may have a simple name. Escape the Lair may have a simple plot. Escape the Lair may even have a simple villain. But what Escape the Lair does right, and what it has in spades, is a series of challenging encounters where players will need to use their brains more than their dice to prevent a total party kill. The villain for EtL is a lich, a twisted and evil one that seems to enjoy mentally torturing creatures as well as physical tortures. The lich taunts the adventurers that attempt to enter his lair, fully aware at all times of their progress. The lich has a demented mind, and it shows in the various puzzles and obstacles that he set up in his death-trap "lair". If the party survives this dungeon, they can count themselves fortunate.

Pros:

  1. Non-linear series of unique and interesting encounters that challenge the player's brain as much as the character's stats.
  2. Really good cartography that sets the mood and would work well for VTT.
  3. Lots of player handouts that evoke the proper mood as the lich taunts the characters and frustrates them to get them to make mistakes.
  4. Plenty of content for the price, a bargain!
  5. Easily converted to other systems especially flavors of DnD like 3.5 or 5e.

Cons:

  1. This could be a pro if you really want a true Tomb of Horror experience, but this dungeon probably will kill off a party of level 4 characters. I could actually see a TPK on the very first encounter being a strong possiblity. Be sure to bring a cleric.
  2. The setup as written for how the party gets into this adventure to me felt a bit contrived. I think if they discovered the caves on the mountain peak themselves and just decided to explore without any forknowledge of the "lich" would make for a better story, but YMMV. This kind of "Hook" is something almost every DM has to change anyway so I didn't take off any points for this.
  3. I would prefer to have high detail JPG files of the maps separate from the PDF but in a pinch a screen shot of the PDF page will work for VTT.

Conclusion: This is billed as part 2 of a series of adventures, however, there is little to no connection between the story presented in Escape the Lair and the one from Escape From Skullkeep Prison. A DM could probably make a connection if desired, but this actually works better as a stand-alone dungeon. This could easily be a starting point for a campaign that will end with a final confrontation of the lich villain who set this lair up, and perhaps Dark by Dezign will put out a follow up for this that does that very thing. I would recommend playing with characters that are at least level 5 so they have access to some decent spells and abilities; they will NEED it, trust me. Balancing issues aside, this has some really wonderful traps and encounters in it, and your players will be both thrilled and perhaps killed... haha... better keep a few backup characters on hand. :)

Highly recommended if you're looking for a challenging dungeon that will put your player's dungeoneering skills to the test. Not recommended if your players are babies that can't take a TPK. :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Escape The Lair
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Creator Reply:
Thank you very much for the entertaining review! I LOVE your idea about using the separate jpgs to use as player handouts in the way that you said. I am really going to try and carve out some time to ADD these to the DTRPG listings that have them. GREAT IDEA, and I will send them to you as well. Yes, it is a bit challenging. My first adventure, MURDER ON MONTELLIO was cool and fun and received some nice input, but I got the distinct impression that it was just a little bit easy. NOT A PUSHOVER, but not as much of a challenge. Perhaps I may have slightly overcompensated in areas of some adventures. Gathering this data, I am seriously considering doing the following with the 7-adventure, 500-page adventure Compilation. A fellow named Scott has offered some future suggestions to tie these together. It is not because I cannot think of these things myself, but with the KS project going on, and with other KS projects, I SINCERELY like to network and work with other KS backers and supporters. It really is fun! Also, perhaps I can share these adventures with you before I put them out for the public? I Do like your input. Also, I really am considering ADDING a small NPC “Bible” at the back of the compilation. This way, the GM can choose interesting and BRAND NEW NPCs to help HEAL (LOL) the party! I think that was a good point, and I do put in multiple healing potions in my adventures, but I hear ya! Anyway, thanks again for the invaluable input I truly appreciate it and I laughed out loud TWICE while reading thsi entetaining review. I was in Whole Foods and two ladies started laughing AT me because I was bursting out into two bouts of laughter, seemingly out of the blue! THANK YOU FOR THAT!! : ) Let me know if you would like to Preview these adventures? Seriously! Matt
Xas Irkalla
Publisher: Atramentis Games
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2018 15:50:58

ABANDON HOPE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE.

Welcome to Xas Irkalla. You will die here. You will die here painfully. Brutally. Without hope. Without love. Without anyone caring. You will die here, lost in the warped realities of dreaming psychotic telepaths. Lost in the chaos that is where dreams and nightmares touch reality. You will die here, in the dark, alone, in a personal hell made all too customized for your own fears, demons, and failures.

Some of you, the smart ones, will fall early, resigned to the fact that your demise is inevitable and more desirable than the torture that is living in this forsaken world. A few of you, the stupid, stuborn ones, will try hard, will survive, for a while, will be brutalized, tortured, maimed, ruined, and finally destroyed. Perhaps before your inevitable demise, you will have some small impact on the everchanging landscapes of Xas Irkalla. Perhaps it will even matter for a year, a few years at best, and then as the sands of time march along, and the shifting reality of this world ebs and flows again, nothing will remain of your deeds, of your life. Nothing, you are nothing, and nothing is all you will ever be.

To describe Xas Irkallas as unforgiving would be a gross, laughable understatement. Millions suffer constantly in the harsh and painful conditions that the terrible gods of this place have allowed to exist. To live is to suffer. Daily, thousands upon thousands of tortured souls gladly welcome death as respite from this blighted world. Thousands more persevere on, surviving, but never thriving, at least not for very long. Souls turn to darkness just to survive here, climbing on the broken backs and shoulders of the less fit, becoming the abuser to avoid the abuse. Will you give up your soul for another day in hell?

ART: 10/10 The artwork evokes a haunting, terrible place reminescent of HR Giger or Keith Thomson. If you like dark, horror-inducing art, you should get this soley based on the artwork alone.

RULES: 8/10 The rules are similar to PbtA except it uses a 1d10 + Modifier (based on skill or attribute) vs target number, 7-9 for "success with complication", or 10+ for "success". Players can chose to use up to 3 dice per roll and take the best roll, however, rolling a 1 causes "stress" which causes your character to slowly go insane and also spawn "demons" from the mind into the reality of Xas Irkalla.

SETTING: 10/10 Most players are not going to probably appeal to this type of setting. This is a setting for masochistic players that want an extreme challenge in a brutal, completely unforgiving place. This is the kind of setting that your players will have to give up idealism and morality just to survive. Sadistic GM's will love this setting. This setting might be fun for a lot of gamers in short spurts, like as a halloween special.

FLAVOR: 10/10 I've read a lot of twisted RPG books. Kult. In Nomine. Demon: The Fallen. The Book of Vile Darkness. Those ain't got NOTHING on Xas Irkalla. This is without a doubt the DARKEST fantasy role playing game I've ever read the rules for. If dark and despairing is what you want in a game, you can't really get better mood and flavor than Xas Irkalla delivers, in spades. If not, well, you probably already stopped reading above when I told you to abandon hope.

STORY: 10/10 There's a lot of history and cool characters, locations, dark gods, and two mini-adventures written here. The vast majority of this book is not game mechanics, it's describing the brutal alien landscape that is Xas Irkalla. Very well written. The starting short story does a great job of setting up the mood right from the beginning, and later chapers that go into details about specific NPCs and places really bring the world to life.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION If you are looking for care bears and little ponies full of loving friendship, this isn't the place. If you're looking for a dark, brooding, and seriously F'd up horror fantasy role playing game, good luck finding anything similar, or anything nearly as horrifying. Highly recommended for the admittedly small audience of gamers that are looking for "blacker than black" dark fantasy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Xas Irkalla
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Vagabonds of Dyfed
Publisher: Sigil Stone Publishing
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2018 14:55:53

TL/DR: Hippy love-child of OSR and PbtA game theories. Takes the deadly, simulationist aspects of OSR, as well as being somewhat compatible with OSR material (to some degree, tho not to my satisfaction, really). Marries that with the smooth, player-driven narrative and 2d6 mechanics of Apocalypse World Engine games.

Pros:

  1. Very easy to memorize and implement game mechanics that allow a vast range of freedom for both the players and the GM while still retaining some semblance of simulationism reminiscent in old-school revival games.
  2. Flexible character creation that should not take a very long time but allows flexibility for players to emulate many different fantasy tropes or mash ups of different tropes.
  3. Conversion is pretty simple for OSR creature stats to VoD format. But not necessarily that easy for creatures with class levels.
  4. Things like money, economy, encumbrance, resources, and even equipment are somewhat abstracted to speed up play.
  5. At least moderately compatible with literally thousands of OSR adventures.
  6. System lends itself well for "Adhoc" sandbox GMing style where little to no prep can still mean a fun time and meanigful story progress.

Cons:

  1. Conversion of characters or NPCs with class levels from OSR material significantly more work than the monsters without too much guidance in rules so far.
  2. Some things are glossed over while in reality can become sticky points in a simulationist style gameplay going for "harsh but fair" reality. These things can be proactively fixed by adding a little bit more details to the rules based on OSR examples.
  3. The "speed" or initiative system uses negative numbers, seems as if this should have been scaled outward to simplify it by only positive numbers.
  4. OSR magic items and spells will not directly translate over well to VoD, but they are so intrinsically important to the balance of a lot of OSR adventures, this will require the GM to prep more and either convert the spells and items ahead of time OR rework portions of the adventures that make use of them.
  5. While there's a pretty good amount of special abilities for characters presented in the core rules, this is one area that could easily be expanded upon and provide some "advanced" abilities that are unavailable until higher levels. As a result, characters using the core rules only for advancement will tend to have more options and become better at more variety of things rather than getting better and better at whatever their core concepts are about. What you'll end up with is a party of Jack of All Trades instead of a party of specialists, which could make it harder for the GM to spotlight certain PC's for certain things.

Final Thoughts: When I heard about this Kickstarter for Vagabonds of Dyfed I was elated AND saddened. I had already started my own attempt to write a PbtA / OSR style game compatible with OSR material but using PbtA mechanics! So yeah, someone else was already doing my thing. Which is cool, because it saved me from having to do the work, I guess, but kind of sad because I realized I'd never be able to get my rules out before Vagabonds landed. :) However, they had some really great ideas and things I hadn't thought of, so this along with my own conversion ideas has allowed me to finally have a set of OSR style rules that get rid of the d20 in favor of the 2d6 and most importantly requires no-rolling for the DM, other than for random tables and such (but not in combat, fortunately). I feel like Vagabonds of Dyfed is a good "first attempt" at what ultimately will be perhaps the best fantasy RPG rules I could imagine playing. There's a lot of rough that still needs some polish, but I expect that the community for this game will iron out most of that and maybe in a few years we'll have a Vagabonds 2.0 that will include everything I would ever want.

Until then, BUY THIS, by all means, this is a superb mix of fast and player-oriented indie-gaming Apocalypse World Engine style that can still make use of all of those wonderful toys you've collected in your OSR library. Vagabonds of Dyfed is highly recommended for anyone who likes OSR and also likes Dungeon World, Blades in the Dark, or things like that. Or for anyone, really, looking for a solid yet rules-light fantasy RPG rules.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vagabonds of Dyfed
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Escape From Skullkeep Prison
Publisher: DARK BY DEZIGN
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/18/2018 14:22:06

TL/DR: This is a nice size adventure with lots of nice full color artwork that should take a few sessions to go through clocking in around 90 pages, at a price that is very economical.

PROS:

  1. Lots of memorable NPCs and creatures / opponents.
  2. Interesting plot that is mostly straightforward but enough twists to keep players on their toes.
  3. Interesting encounters throughout some of which are optional.
  4. Great full color artwork and some nice B&W artwork spread generously throughout the book, never feels like "wall of text".
  5. Very good cartography with detailed maps that would work well for VTT if they were separated from the PDF.
  6. Interesting new magic and magic items and other interesting items.
  7. Excellent player handout props that can help draw the players into the adventure.
  8. You get a lot of content for the price.

CONS:

  1. Maps should be separate JPG files to make it easier to use on VTT.
  2. Encounters seem really difficult for their CR. I think inexperienced players at level 1 party would most likely party wipe.
  3. A lot of the information is presented haphazardly in a way that reads ok but makes looking up things during play harder, could use a detailed index.

First of all, this adventure is more of a rescue mission than an "escape", just to nitpick the title a bit. I suppose you could actually easily change the scenario to be an actual escape if you wanted to use some higher level PC's and bump up the difficulty a bit by making them search for their equipment while escaping. The plot overall is straightforward, but there's a lot of characters here with their own motivations that can complicate things easily. Smart players will play off the various factions in the prison against each other. This adventure would be pretty easy to convert to 5e or other versions of DnD. This is part 1 of a series but there does not really seem to be much here other than possibly NPCs that would carry over after this mission is over, so it's also great as a stand alone adventure. This adventure would be pretty easy to scale up to challenge a higher level party, in fact I doubt that many level 1 parties will survive it. Overall I recommend this adventure as an interesting and "twisted" dark fantasy adventure.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Escape From Skullkeep Prison
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Creator Reply:
Thank you, John. I believe this to be a 100% honest and fair review, which I greatly appreciate. Your input/suggestions are appreciated as well! I DO admit that I have to not be too cruel with the PCs and make it more possible to survive some encounters in some areas of my adventures. I really appreciate it, and will try to focus on this issue and perhaps next time will receive a 5-star rating in doing so! Thank you again, and have a great week! : ) Matt B.
Thank you, John. I believe this to be a 100% honest and fair review, which I greatly appreciate. Your input/suggestions are appreciated as well! I DO admit that I have to not be too cruel with the PCs and make it more possible to survive some encounters in some areas of my adventures. I really appreciate it, and will try to focus on this issue and perhaps next time will receive a 5-star rating in doing so! Thank you again, and have a great week! : ) Matt B.
Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock
Publisher: Sinopa Publishing LLC
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2018 12:36:32

TL/DR: A great follow up adventure for a new series that offers a lot of help for novice DM's to 5e, featuring a setting-agnostic "home base", great artwork, compelling NPC characters, and plenty of room for the DM to expand during or afterward.

Young Pieron, Lord of Glenfallow, requests your party's aid (again if you played Draw of Glenfallow) in securing a nearby silver mine. Help him, and your band of adventurers could wind up with lands, titles, and even rights to some of the silver mine's profits!

PROS:

  • Well defined and interesting NPC characters that can provide quests and assistance.
  • Small, detailed micro-setting that can easily nestle into a wilderness region of most D&D style fantasy settings.
  • Well balanced encounters with good advice for a novice DM on how to run them or tweak them to fit different adventure groups.
  • Fantastic artwork that really draws you into the adventure and evokes just the right mood.
  • Very well done cartography that can be used on VTT or printed out if need be for tabletop use.
  • Plenty of opportunities in the story for a DM to expand if desired.
  • Part two of a series of adventures that can be interlinked for a larger campaign.
  • Example pregenerated party to use if needed for your players or possibly you could use them as a "rival" group seeking the same goals...

CONS:

Not really much I can say that is negative other than, I wish it were longer (it's not too short, but I just really liked it and wish to see more!), and I would also like to see more variety in the monsters, perhaps some rarely used ones or even new unique ones would have been great. This is more of a "wish list" than a "con" against what the adventure actually did. This is an extremely well written adventure booklet and I could find little to complain about. Very eager to see the rest of this series, now!

Final: Recommended for those wishing to continue the Tarot Adventures series that started with Draw of Glenfallow, or if you desire an example of a low level adventure with a good "base of operations" setting with NPCs and a nice mix of overland and "dungeon" encounters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock
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Creator Reply:
Thank you John! I am really grateful that you enjoy the adventure. The art team did a great job and I'll pass this on to them soonest. W.S. "Sam" Quinton
Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow
Publisher: Sinopa Publishing LLC
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/22/2018 17:06:39

TL/DR: A very well done, setting-agnostic very new-DM-friendly campaign starter adventure with some great artwork, compelling NPC characters, and plenty of room for the DM to expand during or afterward.

A young mild-mannered commoner meets with a fortune teller and learns he is to become the new lord of a long lost Glenfallow Keep. He hires the adventurers to help him reclaim his birthright and rid the old fortress of the foul monsters within. Help him, and when young Pieron eventually becomes the Lord of Glenfallow, he will share with your party his good fortune.

PROS:

  • Colorful NPC characters that have their own goals and motivations potentially at-odds with the party’s.
  • Small, detailed micro-setting that can easily nestle into a wilderness region of most D&D style fantasy settings.
  • Well balanced and designed encounters with plenty of advice for new DMs on running them.
  • Really nice artwork that evokes a unique flavor and mood to the adventure.
  • Plenty of nice maps.
  • Several places in the story for a DM to expand if desired.
  • Part one of a series of adventures that can be interlinked for a larger campaign.

CONS:

  • A bit too linear and possible to derail without the DM intervening with deus ex machina for key NPC characters.
  • Could have used a few more example side-quests for a new DM to understand how those can work into a larger plot.
  • More “hex-crawl” random or fixed encounters would have given it a bit more OSR flavor that I’m a fan of, but this is a very minor “problem” and one easily fixed by a more experienced DM, if desired.

Final: Recommended for 5e DM’s looking for a good way to kick off a campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the Pros and Cons style review. I appreciate it because it points areas where I can improve on future books. I hope you and your friends have a terrific time playing through. W.S. Quinton Author Founder/Executive Officer Sinopa Publishing LLC
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/19/2018 13:51:29

Stars Without Number: Revised Edition is the best kind of "2nd edition" that other RPG titles should aspire to emulate. Why? Because it did not throw away the baby with the bathwater. It is fully compatible with all the original SWN sourcebooks and adventures. The original Stars Without Number was an amazing but identifiably "indie" set of rules. Was it bad? No, it was great, chock full of great ideas, interesting systems of rules, exciting content. But as a gamer who has been around since the '77 basic set, I've certainly read my fair share of RPG rule books, and the original SWN was a very well done "budget" book that looked very good but was not the highest quality layouts and artwork I'd seen before. This new Revised Edition corrects all of that, in spades, and adds a ton of new excellent content as well. There were a few issues I had with the earlier system, and almost all of those minor issues I had have been corrected with the Revised Edition also.

This game starts with the basic OSR d20 core system of abilities we've all come to know and love (or at least understand), as a base, and then builds onto it custom layers of science fiction content onto it. So, no, you do not have "Fighter" but you have a warrior class that is similar to Fighter and you have an Expert class similar to Thief (but a far better way to handle the skills compared to 1e), and you have a Psychic to be the "magic user" to add some cool psychic powers to the game. And that's just for starters, there's tons of customization that can go into individual classes, and for the most part, you can develop the character in whatever directions you choose.

There's also some amazingly great GM tools included in this book that can be useful for anyone playing any type of science fiction space opera type setting regardless of the rules you're using. There's chapters on designing your own space sectors, with advise on handling interstellar trade, societies, diplomacy, alien physiology and psychology, robots and VI's (androids or droids with "virtual intelligence" or semi-sentience),how to develop alien, robot, or VI player character classes, factions, etc. Starfinder GM's may want to consider getting this just for its world-building and sandbox play assistance.

But is there anything negative to say about SWN:RE? For fans of lighter "indie" roleplaying games similar to Apocalypse World, Stars Without Number Revised Edition like it's original will feel a bit "heavy" in terms of game mechanics. There's a lot of little mechanics to either remember or reference in the book when they come into play. Not everything is handled by one simple 2d6 mechanic, although basic skill use is, so that's something that fans of PbtA games will probably appreciate. But for the most part, you will need amost all of your polyhedrals to play SWN:RE, and you'll want the handy GM's screen set up while playing so you can quickly reference various charts and tables that will be required to successfully judicate the mostly player-driven narrative. Since SWN is intended to be a player-driven sandbox style game, it has similarities with "indie" titles following the AWE / PbtA model, but there are more rules to handle all of the various situations that can come up in a science fiction setting. For example, starship design, starship combat, designing robotics and VI's and True AI's, hacking into stuff, psychic abilities, the effects of scifi hazards like vacuum, radiation, pressure sickness, poisons, disease (terran and alien), technology levels, etc. All of that may seem overwhelming for a PbtA GM, but you know what? It's there if you want to use it, and if not, you can chunk that and just let the narrative dictate the result just like always because it's YOUR GAME and as the GM you're the final arbiter of the results of any attempted action on the part of the player or non-player characters.

Revised Edition is FULLY COMPATIBLE with the supplements and adventures of the original edition of the rules, so you don't have to go re-buy all of your SWN books to stay current. Or if you are new to SWN, you already have available a lot of adventures and supplements compaitible with this new rulebook! And did I mention that the production values are way up? WAY UP, amazingly beautiful full page artworks and a full color printing that just pops right off the page and is absolutely gorgeous. Along with all the new optional content like Transhuman campaigns, AI's, Mecha, and even Space Magic, SWN Revised is an incredible value for the price and a gorgeous edition to any scifi fan's bookshelf.

I did participate in this book's Kickstarter, full disclosure, but I bought this book, and this is not a paid review. I honestly feel this is one of the best science fiction RPG rulebooks ever produced.

virtuadept



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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Tale of the Wizard's Eye
Publisher: Sinopa Publishing LLC
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/07/2017 15:41:55

This review is primarily for the print version of this product which I received as part of the Kickstarter from the summer of 2017. I did get the PDF also but to be honest I haven't actually looked at that yet, assuming that it is the same as the print except for possibly minor fixes possibly depending on when you are reading this. This was the author's first Kickstarter and presumably first published RPG product, but I'm not absolutely certain about that. However, do not be discouraged, seasoned 5e dungeon master! This product is EXACTLY what you need to fill in between levels 6 up to 9 (iffy, more on that later) for your campaign.

PLAYERS STOP READING THIS NOW, THE REST IS SPOILERY. I assume if you keep reading, you play to DM this.

PROS:

  • Locally very specific setting information and interesting world details and NPCs, yet unspecific enough to fit into ANY mid-to-high fantasy setting. For example, when there is a shrine to an evil god, you fill in which one.
  • Important speaking NPCs have "sample dialogue" to give you a feel for how they talk, so you can breath life into them, without feeling like a "wall of text" monologue.
  • Most of the creatures and characters in the game have a history and motivations that make sense, and since you know their motivations, even if the "as expected" plot derails, you can "predict" how they would react to the changing conditions.
  • While there is a basic plot, the players can go about it in lots of different ways, so it does not railroad them down a central linear story, its more like branching story lines that can come together for a similar final scene.
  • The non-linear, almost "sandbox" story lends itself well for this to be expanded by the DM by adding more encounters, especially around the ruins of the drowned town.
  • The nature of the "monsters" to be encountered lends themselves well to adding depth and expanding the PC's interactions with them. There are various factions of creatures at conflict with each other. A smart group of players can use that to their advantage, and a prepared DM should encourage and expand as needed to support that effort.
  • Solid unique artwork evocative of a flavor that feels a bit like the old D&D or fantasy cartoons (Western ones).
  • Vampires vs. Werewolves. NUFF SAID!

CONS:

  • I feel like if you're going to allow for a party of 6th to 9th level characters, you should have some scaling options on how to scale up encounters. Some advice is actually given for this, actually, but I feel like swapping out some of the encounters with beefier critters could have been better for the upper end of the range. YMMV. This may be cause of concern from a new DM. If your party is level 6 or 7 you can run this without modification.
  • While I do appreciate the monster statistics blocked right there in the page they are encountered, rather than having to flip to an appendix in the back, the downside to this is that it feels like "duplicate" pages at some point. But since I feel that you get a decent length adventure from this regardless of page count, that isn't enough to take off "stars" from my rating.
  • I wish all the cartography was all color, with more details, but it's not that big of a deal. The main map is and that's the important thing.

This is your basic "treasure hunt" quest expanded out with some interesting creatures that are at odds with each other (and probably the PC's) and in some ways competing for similar goals. The author does a great job of making NPC characters feel unique and interesting. This includes intelligent "monster" characters. One core aspect of the adventure is that a bunch of vampires are at war with a bunch of werewolves. There is this other little role playing game series called World of Darkness which has among other things Vampires and Werewolves that mostly don't like each other. Introducing elements of WoD into this adventure would work very well and could be advisable especially if you're planning to run this as a mini-campaign instead of a one-or-two-night single adventure. The end of the adventure happens in a flooded village or small city that got flooded when a river came out of its bed and ended up splitting, sending some of the river permanently through the town and the main path of the river still where it had been before. There are no real details given for the town, except for a wizard's tower where the main "treasure" of this adventure rests. However, this means that there's a whole town of ruins that the DM could create if they wish to expand the module. Not only that, but there's room for expansion with the giants in the "shallows" section and of course adding more details, rooms, and vampires in their lair, or detailing a lair for the werewolves or other woodland lair encounters.

So in a nutshell what I really liked best about this adventure is that 1. if you want a quick level 6 or 7 adventure that can be completed in an evening, you can use this as such. 2. If you like the map and the characters, you can easily expand this single adventure into a little "mini-campaign" that could take the characters from level 5 or 6 to level 9. There are places that a level 5 party will get party wiped unless you put something in there to warn them or help level them a bit. You could just downgrade some of the encounters a bit or play them un-optimally, but it is also pretty open as far as how things are layed out so you could just add a few more lower level encounters as needed to get them up to 6th.

Enjoy, and most of all, have fun!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tale of the Wizard's Eye
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Creator Reply:
John, Thank you for you review. I for one, am very grateful for the pros and cons in this review. The cons tell me areas I can look to improve in future books, and the pros give me a good feel for what people liked in the book itself. For those of your reading this, yes I did also thank John on the KickStarter page. I wanted to post this here for everyone considering buying this book or others I release. I do genuinely want people to enjoy the books I produce. I'm glad I've done that with Tale of the Wizard's Eye, and I hope to continue with my coming projects. I invite all of you who have experienced this adventure to add your own review as well. Thanks again John for providing this review. I look forward to your opinion of future releases. W.S. Quinton Author Founder, Sinopa Publishing LLC Frankfort Kentucky
Wyrms & Warlocks: Medusa's Hunger
Publisher: Goblinoid Games
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/19/2006 00:00:00

Medusa's Hunger is a short, one-night or less single major encounter adventure following the old school style of RPG like original AD&D 1e. This adventure is compatible with OSIRIC, the OGL old school rules set. You really don't need OSIRIC to use this product, however, the general plot and meat of the adventure is easily translated into just about any fantasy themed RPG. This adventure can fit into any gaming world and doesn't rely a lot on details of any setting, it should fit into almost any campaign. There is some amount of NPC interaction but the adventure's primary focus seems to be on combat. There could be multiple solutions to the main encounter without having to kill everything in sight. Overall the quality of the artwork was pretty weak, such as a very basic generic map and some overused clip art. There is no bookmarking in the PDF but it's so short that's not a major problem. For what you pay for this, around 2-3 dollars, this module is a pretty good value.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Interesting monster NPCs, simple plot that is easy to fit in any campaign.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Low production values, lack of attention to detail on PDF. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wyrms & Warlocks: Medusa's Hunger
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the feedback John. A few issues with the map have been fixed, mainly that some customers expressed a desire for the map to include graph grids, so these have been added. The map has also been tightened up a bit, and a couple of editorial problems have been fixed. I hope these meet your concerns about lack of attention to detail. Thanks again for the review and your interest in our products.
Death in Freeport Revised
Publisher: Green Ronin
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2006 00:00:00

This is a suberb adventure for low level characters and a great introduction into the Freeport setting. There is a good blend of puzzle solving, NPC interaction, and of course, fighting in this one. And it kicks off a great trilogy of adventures, not to mention a great city setting that you can plop down into just about any campaign world. Highly recommended. Get the Freeport: City of Adventure hardback book if you want to add in more details to the setting.

I made a map for an online game, on a grid so that I could use little images for "minis" for each combattant. This is for one of the fights.

http://img144.imageshack.us/my.php?image=vengeancebgbi9.jpg <br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Interesting NPCs. Excellent game balance. Very good artwork and production values. Cool plot, lots of good background to set up the story.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: A bit on the short side, but does offer a lot of spin-off side adventure potential if you're paying attention.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Death in Freeport Revised
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