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    Greeks Set
    Publisher: Arion Games
    by Don R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 03/06/2006 00:00:00

    This set is another in the line-up of high-quality paper miniatures from Arion games. As products go, there isn't much to it, so this review will be brief.

    The product consists of folding paper miniatures of a large number of ostensibly Greek figures, from warriors and monsters to philosophers and peasants. The images themselves are beautiful and very high-quality CGI stills. The minotaur looks kind of weird to me, but maybe that's just me. The selection of miniatures is fairly large and each comes in two types: two-sided fold-at-the-top, and three-sided fold-on-the-sides.

    These could prove useful to any Classical campaign, and are a cost-efficient way of populating a map. After all, a single download yeilds unlimited minis as long as your printer holds out.

    I have two major beefs with this product. The first is that there aren't enough mundane NPC types, maybe one or two, while there are multiple warrior-types. The second is that the imagery is much closer to Roman than Greek. The artists seem to be running on a stereotype of classical Greek life rather than actual history. The upside of this, however, is that they can be interchangeable, used in a Roman campaign as well as a Greek campaign.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Very high quality imagery. Very economical.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Low selection of anything but warrior-types. Blatantly historically innacurate.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Greeks Set
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    Roma Imperious
    Publisher: HinterWelt
    by Don R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 02/04/2006 00:00:00

    Roma Imperious by Hinterwelt Enterprises is an alternate history fantasy campaign setting running on the Iridium System. It is set in an alternate history of ancient Rome where the Empire never fell but rather embraced the practice of magic and survived.

    In real history, Constantine won a decisive battle under the sign of the cross and so legalized Christianity, embracing it politically if not personally and causing the religion to grow in power and popularity. After his death, the Empire collapsed due to plague, barbarian invasion, and a number of other factors. In Roma Imperious history, Constantine won a decisive battle using magic, and it was made legal and encouraged throughout the Empire for its usefulness, creating a whole new social class, the magi.

    The world is set approximately 400 years after Constantine?s victory, and the empire still stands strong thanks to its use of magic. Many other factions exist over the rest of the Eastern Hemisphere, which is nicely mapped out early on. There?s the Jade Empire of the Far East, the Skandian Kingdoms of the Far North, kingdoms in Africa, India, and North Asia, as well as barbarian tribes that are sort of part of Roma but also somewhat autonomous, like the druids, from whom Constantine got his magic. Everyone has their own brand of magic in this world.

    Roma Imperious also gives the reader an in-depth look at the politics and economics of the Empire, from the general structures to the specific NPCs that run them. More than a handful of new Iridium classes are offered, and more can be made easily due to the flexibility of the Iridium System. The setting also contains rules for era- and setting-specific items, as well as some pretty sweet monsters pulled from the pages of world mythology.

    The setting is remarkably complete. A large chunk of the book is dedicated to fleshing out just the setting. The writing can be amateurish at times and there are more than a few typos, but these are easily forgiven as one gets sucked into the mythology being weaved.

    After the setting is laid out, the Iridium Core System rules are given. Now, theses can also be downloaded as a standalone supplement, but they?re here for convenience. Here, as everywhere, the Iridium System offers flexibility at the expense of complication. Iridium allows you to do almost anything you can think of and it is also more realistic than most rulesets, but only if you can down the complications and the often vague or disorganized nature of the rules. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Awesome, well-developed setting built from an interesting premise. Very thorough with politics, social structure, history, timelines, and specific bios. The fiction draws you into its world and makes you want to play. Generally good art. Nice long lists of classes, skills, and spells.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The writing comes of as just plain weak at parts, with strange wording and awkward phrasing, as well as many punctuation problems. The Iridium System is almost as obtuse as it is flexible. The sheer length of this setting may put some off. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Roma Imperious
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    Golemcraft 101
    Publisher: Dog Soul Publishing
    by Don R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 01/30/2006 00:00:00

    What we have with Golemcraft 101 by Dog Soul Publishing is a sleek, colorful guide to building constructs. The major feature of Golemcraft 101 is that the constructs can potentially be built by a character as low as 6th level. This opens the field of construct construction up to many to whom it was previously closed.

    The first section of the supplement, also titled ?Golemcraft 101,? details prices in gold and experience of making golems from various materials and how to imbue them with a controlling spirit. It covers with very clear tables how both material and size relate to price, and how size relates to various statistics. The method of imbuing the construct is interesting and makes sense for the power level of the golems to be built.

    The second section, ?Golemcraft 201,? covers more advanced additions to constructs. There are clear and easy-to-follow rules for adding all sorts of pretty awesome features to your golem, so you don?t end up with that same old humanoid iron golem that looks the same in the MM and Neverwinter Nights. You can do all kinds of fancy mundane stuff to the golem, and the changes in gp cost and xp cost are explicitly stated. Not to give away too much, but I think my next character is going to build a construct and name him ?Bender.? There are also rules for minor magical modifications to your construct.

    The third and final section of the PDF is a detailed breakdown of ?The Order of the Golem,? a new organization that focuses on golemcrafting. The info on the order is exhaustive, with demographic information among other stuff. The order itself is an interesting addition and I feel it adds to the idea that golemcrafting isn?t just for stodgy old epic level wizards anymore. The organization has some new feats, as well as a few new types of golems you can build if you join up. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Beautiful presentation. The whole thing is visually arresting. Seriously high-quality digital art here. The text and pictures flow well on the page, and every bit of information you need is there and easy to find. The new ideas and rules open up many new possibilities for your game. The best thing I can say is this: before reading Golemcraft 101, I never gave a second thought to making a construct of my own, in any game, ever. Now I?m chomping at the bit to build the coolest one I possibly can.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Some of the wording is a little confusing occasionally, and I?m willing to chalk that up to typos that were missed in editing. There?s an inset box on page 5 that talks about the nature of the spirit summoned to inhabit the construct, and I?m not sure what it?s trying to say. The rules offered within seem to be at odds with other rules of stat assignment offered. I think it?s missing an ?if? somewhere, but I can?t be sure.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Golemcraft 101
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    Challenges and Rewards
    Publisher: Bards and Sages
    by Don R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 01/26/2006 00:00:00

    Challenges and Rewards from Bards and Sages Publishing does exactly what its first page says. It offers a few hard and fast rules that allow GMs to give a decent amount of experience for non-combat challenges. The idea is a good one. Giving a set of equations by which to figure non-combat experience saves a GM interested in doing so some trouble. With rules to reference, he doesn?t give too low or too high by his own misestimation of the numbers.

    The first section of the supplement gives an equation for figuring experience from any skill check. It uses the DC of the check along with some creative use of a character?s skill level to ascertain a CR for the check, and requisite experience is then assigned using that CR. This is an intuitive solution, I think, to the problem of non-combat experience. Offering a fairly simple equation makes things much easier on everyone and nobody can argue with it, so long as they?ve agreed to the rules.

    Further rules in the supplement cover how to assign XP for other situations, like contests and item creation. What?s very nice about the supplement is that it uses the same basic principles as for skill checks, with minor modifications for other types of non-combat actions.

    A potential balance problem is cleared up easily. The authors urge throughout the supplement that XP is not to be given for every single skill check made, only for skill checks that were highly beneficial or significant. This leaves part of the question in the hands of the GM while still offering rules. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: A great idea. I know that I and many people I know wish that d20 was more role-playing friendly, and this supplement allows it to be. Using Challenges and Rewards, a character is not stifled every time he wants to do something other than combat. The chosen equation is only slightly modified for different situations, and so the consistency is nice. It makes for streamlined usage. It?s also good that they cover pretty much any non-combat situation where you might want XP.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The basic equation isn?t exactly easy to remember. You?ll be keeping this book on the table for constant reference, and you?ll need a calculator. Of course, that?d hardly different from normal XP. I?m also not sure how well the whole thing balances, and I imagine you won?t know until you submit it to some fairly rigorous playtesting. I?m also not sure how useful the whole supplement will be to a whole lot of people.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Challenges and Rewards
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    0one's Blueprints: The Great City
    Publisher: 0one Games
    by Don R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 01/24/2006 00:00:00

    Okay, so what we have here with 0One?s Blueprints: The Great City is a collection of blueprints of, well, The Great City. That?s it?s name. The Great City?s basic layout is covered in this book of blueprints, with more in-depth books of the city?s six districts to come later. It starts with a blueprint of the city as a whole and then has a blueprint of each district. The later books, it says, will have floor plans and details for every building in the different districts, and this one is provides the basics of the city as a whole. Seems that these guys might be trying to get a jump on AEG?s upcoming (hopefully) World?s Largest City, and who can blame them. And who can deny the quality of their work, at that?

    With the rider that I?m sure somebody can, I?m going to say that I, frankly, cannot. The quality of 0One?s Blueprints: The Great City, both as a game supplement and just as a PDF are very high.

    As a supplement, the blueprints give the GM a nice, large city to play in. It?s a realistic city and chock full of buildings and locations, some of which are numbered and then named in the back, some of which aren?t. What?s truly fantastic about it, in my book, is that it?s much more than just a grid and some boxes representing buildings. Most everything you could think of is laid out in the maps, from trees, different styles and sizes of walls (they?re more than just single lines), and a large, almost labyrinthine cemetery replete with graves and mausoleums already placed. There?s a Roman Style Coliseum (Circus Maximus), and in the Dock Ward every pier and ship is shown on the map. It?s all easy to read, and if you ever have trouble with a particular item on the map, just refer to the third page for a detailed and exhaustive legend. Moreover, each separate map is offered in both traditional blue as well as a carbon copy in black for those that prefer it.

    As a PDF, The Great City is beautiful and versatile. That?s not a word often used to describe Acrobat documents, I know, but this one is an exception. The pages are laid out two at a time, side by side, by default, so you can view both the blue and the black copies of a particular map at the same time. This allows you to compare and decide which you?d rather print. In addition, each map has at the bottom two check boxes. One toggles the trim marks that outline the borders of each map and one toggles the numbers on each map in case you?d rather use your own. Very thoughtful of them.

    Like I said, there are no details about the locations contained herein. This is meant to act only as a basic layout for The Great City, and we can only hope that greater detail will be reached with the further supplements in The Great City line from 0One.

    <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Nice-looking maps with lots of detail, plus the option of blue or black. The buttons at the bottom allowing the toggling of trim marks and numbers are a nice touch. It has a nice feel to it, and is something I can really see myself using in a campaign sometime.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: In the lists of locations for each map at the end of the document, it happens quite often that the name of a place will exceed the space given. There are three columns: one for ?Number,? one for ?Name,? and one for ?Short Description.? The numbers column is far bigger than it needs to be and the description column is empty all the way through, so I don?t see why this needless overlap has occurred.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    0one's Blueprints: The Great City
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