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    Karmic Grimoire
    Publisher: Bards and Sages
    by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/07/2008 08:02:53

    First things first, from a purely design standpoint, this book looks great. The PDF has the look and feel of an ancient magical tome. There is no art in the PDF except for a spattering of arcane symbols that look like they were taken from a real magical text, and a background image that appears to be a bunch of arcane symbols.

    Secondly, this is less a spell compendium than a spell and magic item primer for the Karma roleplaying system. All the spells are broken down with their point assignments so you can see exactly how they were made. This lets you edit them or advance them for your own game. There are also several indexes that sort the spells by type, elements, and impacts, so specialists can quickly find the spells they want (though the indexes don’t include page numbers or hyperlinks). The same is true for the magic items presented. They all show the complete point assignment, so players know immediately how many crafting points they need to make them.

    The most important information in this book is the item pricing guide (which probably should have been in the core book). This provides the details on how to price magical items, how much they resell for, and how to calculate pricing in modern era games. Basically, it can get extremely expensive to have a magic user craft items for you, unless you can supply all of the materials. And trying to buy magic items on the open market isn’t easy, either. This makes treasure finds, particularly gems and precious metals, actually important beyond a “you find a ruby worth 200 gp” way.

    The information on alchemy is comical in its perspective. Basically, the book presents alchemy as a giant scam perpetuated by magic users on unsuspecting commoners. It’s funny in that it is so believable, and it is an interesting take. The “Consumer-grade” magic items rules are perfect for modern campaigns for the same reason.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Karmic Grimoire
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    Grave-Wights
    Publisher: Columbia Games Inc.
    by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/07/2008 07:36:11

    It's free, so worth grabbing. It's an undead like ghoul that isn't really dead, but a living race that feeds on corpses. Would be useful just for screwing with players by letting them think they are fighting undead and having all of their "undead" spells fail. Probably would be well suited for something like a Ravenloft setting.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Grave-Wights
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    Gatekeepers: Lords of the Gateways
    Publisher: Ancient Awakenings Publications
    by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/07/2008 07:32:38

    What's the difference between a Teleportation Circle and a Gateway? Not really all that much. All this product really does is introduce a whole bunch of new rules and a prestige class to allow you to do what you can already do with existing spells in the Player's Handbook. With the exception that you need to waste precious skill points on a gateway skill to really maximize the power of the gateway spells.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Gatekeepers: Lords of the Gateways
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    Karma Roleplaying System Core Rules Book
    Publisher: Bards and Sages
    by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/06/2008 08:30:40

    At first, this core rules books seems a bit backwards, because it presents things like combat and ability check rules before it goes into character creation. But yet that makes sense, because in order to maximize your character you need to understand how certain things work so that you know how to assign your points. I think this might be the first game system that not only acknowledges that DMs house rule, but seems designed to encourage house rules. Want to run a high power game? Just give players more points to spend and more flexibility with things like race and spell creation. Want to run a more low-power game? Reign in points and limit access to certain powers. Spell creation and magic item creation is a mixed blessing. If you are the type of player that always spends time thinking up new spells and items and trying to convince your DM to let you use them, you will fall in love with this system. Combine the right specializations with the right magic group and you can pull off some amazing spells and magic items relatively early in a campaign. If you prefer to flip through a book and just pick out stuff a la carte, Karma might not be for you. There is a pre-generated list of starter spells included in the core book (there is also a supplement that has more spells and pre-generated magic items) but otherwise ready made spells and magic items are scarce. Playing any sort of spellcaster in Karma can be a time consuming effort as you make your own spells from scratch. If you enjoy having that kind of power, you will love it. If you don’t, then you’ll play a non-caster. Non-caster character creation can be done in under fifteen minutes once you understand the basic rules. There are a few things that aren’t clarified in the basic rules, maybe intentionally. Do spells require a verbal component? Can wizards be “silenced” for example? What exactly happens if you are encumbered (the rules mention it in passing, but don’t provide a firm “if X then Y”). The answer may depend on the type of game, and basically these are the sort of things you need to sort out in advance with players before starting play.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Karma Roleplaying System Core Rules Book
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    The Valley of Frozen Tears
    Publisher: Ancient Awakenings Publications
    by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/05/2008 09:08:24

    A fine location sourcebook for a starting level campaign. Well detailed descriptions of each of the settlements in the area, with information on important people and the politics of the area. Plenty of pre-generated encounters and some new critters that are well suited to the setting. This is NOT an adventure module, but a generic setting book that can be dumped into just about any sort of fantasy game world. I like these sort of supplements, because the background information can be used across multiple game systems. So even if you aren't running a d20 style game, you want to pick this up just for the maps and the source material (and at the current price (ten cents), why wouldn't you pick this up?)



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    The Valley of Frozen Tears
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    Venture 4th: Monster Maker
    Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
    by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/04/2008 11:45:27

    If you are the type of GM that like spends hours of your life making up your own monsters...if you have dreams of publishing your own monster compendium one day for 4e...if you just want a better understanding of how monsters are "built"...grab this product. For the price, it is a great primer to understanding monsters for 4e. And if you want to make your own monsters for 4e, you'll want this to help keep your monsters somewhat balanced (not that balance ever really mattered in D&D, no matter how much we kid ourselves otherwise). This is written in plain English, and even people relatively new to gaming in general will be able to "get it."



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Venture 4th: Monster Maker
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    100 Temperate Forest Plants
    Publisher: Dark Quest Games
    by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/04/2008 11:39:57

    It is exactly what it says it is...a list of 100 plants. Would have been a more useful product if it includes some sort of description, particularly since most people (like us city folk) would have no clue what half of these are. I suppose I can go troll wikipedia and look up the plants...but if I wanted to do that I don't need to buy supplements. probably should have read some of the other reviews for similar products first to get a better idea what to expect.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    100 Temperate Forest Plants
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    CF Quickmaps
    Publisher: Critical Failure Games
    by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/04/2008 11:34:02

    It's only 25 cents. It's functional. Saves me the hassle of shopping for hex or grid paper. I don't think I'd be laminating these sheets like the product suggests (if I'm gonna spend money on lamination, I'd buy a full size battlemat). It's not completely editable. The grids themselves can't be edited, only the "back" of the cards. Would have liked it is the actual grids were editable, so you could, say, color grids different colors to signify terrain, walls, etc. Would allow for a neater apearance instead of manually having to color in or draw these elements.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]

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