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Skirmisher Publishing
Skirmisher Publishing
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Castle Builder Volume 1: Strongholds
by Eric S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2012 21:06:03
I have been waiting on this book for a long time, and now that it is here I am happy to say that it delivers just what I was looking for! Using the information presented in this series of PDFs my Players were amazed at how strongholds suddenly came to life in our campaign and at my grasp of the subject matter!

This is not just another useless book of floor diagrams with discussions on scale and how to draw straight lines on graph papers that we have all seen before. (And what gamemaster worth their salt does not know how to do that anyway; and what software does not do that automatically?)

What Mr. Balsley does with Castle Builder goes far beyond a mere dissertation on designs and delves into the psychology behind and reasons why buildings are built as and where they are. Want to know where to build your stronghold and why? This book tells you. Want to know what kind of stronghold is likely to be bypassed by a large enemy army and still keep out the local riffraff and why? This book tells you. Want to know what outsiders or nearby settlements might think about your stronghold and why? This book tells you. In this fashion Mr. Balsley goes into detail on Location, Structure, and Accommodations VS a stronghold’s Personality, Purpose, Perception, Advantages & Disadvantages.

And there is more beyond the psychological and strategic insight on strongholds of which Mr. Balsley writes; also given is a complete, multi-game compatible system for determining all salient issues concerning the construction, construction time, waste removal, and maintenance of all types of strongholds. (i.e. Foundations, Materials Transportation of Materials, Labor, Furnishing levels, Excavations, Ventilation, etc.) And I will say here that Mr. Balsley also treats Fantastical Materials such as Elemental Fire & Ice and will say no more of leaving the rest to your imagination… Until you read the book!

If you are a novelist, world designer, or gamemaster and want to take you work to a new serious and realistic level, then buy this Castel Builder series and gain the knowledge and tools you need to get you there. You will be glad you did.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Builder Volume 1: Strongholds
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Skirmisher Update: Winter 2008
by Roy D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2012 13:31:32
unable to review item failed to down load so have not seen it yet

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Skirmisher Update: Winter 2008
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Castle Builder Volume 2: Manor Houses
by Mark S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/19/2012 19:15:46
What I liked: This is a good work on the sort of small fortresses likely to be encountered by (or built by) player characters. There are excellent details about the cost of building and the like. There were maps of a manor house and an inn. The description of the manorhouse is likely to be extremely useful for anyone who wants to grab and run a local fortress. It could be dropped into a campaign and used in minutes.

What I didn't like: The maps are computer graphics with standard icons for furniture. A hand drawn map would have been much more compelling and useable. I am not in love with computers as a substitute for artwork.

Overall: This $1.99 price tag for this publiction is exactly right. I gave it a five star rating because it provides a product a DM could actually use. This product delivers exactly what is promised in the sales description.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Builder Volume 2: Manor Houses
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Castle Builder Volume 1: Strongholds
by Mark S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/19/2012 19:10:36
What I liked: There's some good details here for anyone who wants to use castles in an RPG.

What I didn't like: The artwork is public domain and/or picked up off the internet. There are no diagrams of castles or fortified towers or anything. These were not promised in the sales text, but diagrams would seem to be standard in any how-to work on castles.

Overall: I gave the product a rating of three stars because it delivers some good ideas on the topic. At $4.99, it is somewhat overpriced for what you get.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Builder Volume 1: Strongholds
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Castle Builder Volume 1: Strongholds
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2011 08:38:49
Intended to be the first in a series of books about fortifications in fantasy games, this volume focuses on the purpose and basic design of such buildings. It begins with a thorough analysis of the role that castles, towers, and other strongholds play, and discusses considerations such as placement, shape, use of the local geography, and so on. Taken together, this section of the book helps ensure that strongholds have a feel of living, breathing, places that could really exist, even in a fantastic realm.

What follows is a detailed design system that works, not just for strongholds, but for just about any building imaginable. Although written with d20 in mind, aside from the prices, this system could be used for any game where you want a detailed description of building construction. It's most likely to be useful if PCs want to build a castle or wizard's tower for themselves, explaining how long it takes, how much it costs, what materials it needs, and various other factors that need to be considered.

However, even if all a GM wants is a checklist for drawing floorplans of his own buildings, and some discussion as to how such things actually work, this book would be very valuable. The amount of detail and thought put into the book is remarkable, and, while focussing on what could really be achieved with medieval European technology, it does not forget more exotic building materials for magical otherworldly palaces of pure crystal, or the like.

For less than $4, this book is highly recommended. It's around 50 pages long, ignoring contents pages, etc. and well illustrated with appropriate copyright-free work, and writing and layout are both of high quality. I recommend this to anyone looking for a bit of detail and realism in their building design.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars: Shadows of a Dying World (An OGL Guide to Monsters, Races, and Beasts)
by Darren B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2011 03:22:22
I thought this was an utter piece of rubbish. Sorry I wasted my money on it. I found the details provided in the supplement to be little more than what you would get from reading ERB's novels themselves, and the added abilities of some of the creatures were really unnecessary. While the layout is ok, the internal art is terrible. I don't like being too harsh with reviews, but this supplement really left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars: Shadows of a Dying World (An OGL Guide to Monsters, Races, and Beasts)
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The Island: A Script for Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition
by Barbara F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2011 22:30:11
The Island is a live action one-shot adventure for Call of Cthulhu available from DriveThruRPG. It looks like fun--there are lots of different characters for players to choose from and one in particular is desperate, broke, duplicitous, and otherwise a total hoot to play. The characters seem well enough connected to each other to keep anyone from feeling left out, and every one has a 'Who and what you know' on the sheet itself. If I had to quibble with this portion of the game it would be that some of them are gender-specific when they don't have to be. 8 men, 2 women, and 2 that could go either way--I've seen worse ratios. Still, I'd make as many roles gender neutral as possible i.e. all of them, except for necessarily-heterosexual couples. The head of a smuggling ring a woman? Why not? It's a stretch to have a woman head of a bank in '47, but for a game it's not out of line--you could fall back on the ' heiress' trope for that.

The characters are the most important part and the author has that nailed. The story's vital too and I felt he short-shifted there. The story has a beginning and one ending but no guidelines for what to do in between. If the plot stalls, the GM is on his own. There's much plot inside the character descriptions, but I feel the GM needs a backstage version of all this. A chart or at least a detailed global plot to make the big picture clearer.

Generally speaking though "The Island" covers the points I consider necessary for a good LARP. Its focus is on story between characters, and it includes props to keep the game physical.

It has interconnectedness. Each character should be connected to at least two other characters. Looks good on that point.

Redundancy. Any plot point or object should be in at least two different sets of hands, in case one of them is clueless or paranoid and won't play it. Clem's letters and Straker's cross could get lost, and while neither is vital to the arc it would be sad to lose either.

Not on a rail. Allow for any ending the players can think of. Try to anticipate alternate endings and note them in the Ending the Adventure section. Even Cthulhu players like to change up the endings once in awhile.

Bottle your players. An island is an excellent device for keeping them together--as long as the storm destroyed all boats. A little contrived, but it works.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Island: A Script for Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition
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Castle Builder Volume 1: Strongholds
by Diana L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2011 00:22:03
Your gaming will never be the same after reading Richard T. Balsley’s book Castle Builder Volume I: Strongholds. The first of a ten-part series, Strongholds will give both the seasoned gamer and the novice an original perspective in exploring and understanding the how-tos and whys of creating buildings, the importance of their locale, and the essential roles that they play.

Balsley’s work is inventive, well-written, and clear. He goes to great lengths to reveal the stronghold not just as edifice but as a living, dynamic, and significant part of any game. Readers will be struck by the amazing detail with which Balsley has written this book. He will take you brick by brick (or possibly flesh or solid air, fire, or elemental water as building materials if you are so inclined) into implementing a well laid out edifice that fulfills its mission and complements any game. His coverage of the various types of strongholds and their attributes is comprehensive--such that everything from size and cost and quality of construction to staffing, accommodations, maintenance and more are included. Such detail, however, does not exclude readers from adapting this work to their particular game or need. Balsely is careful to assure that his book and its application in his readers’ games are accessible and easily incorporated.

Balsley has previous authored other RPG books, including Gary Gygax's Cosmos Builder, and his passion for gaming and creating original and fantastic realms is evident. Not only does he offer his own creativity but he encourages it in his readers as well and challenges them to truly utilize their imagination and enhance their games in new ways. Balsley illustrates that he is a master at his craft and takes his gaming very seriously. There is much to be discovered in the pages of Castle Builder Volume I: Strongholds, and after reading this volume, not only will you be a fan of Balsley’s work, but you, too, will be looking forward to the books to follow in what promises to be an excellent series.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Builder Volume 1: Strongholds
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Creatures of the Tropical Wastes (Mutant Future)
by william w. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2011 11:10:09
I've been a fan of Post Apocalyptic RPG's for quite awhile now, cut my gaming teeth on first edition Gamma World back in '79. Anyways, on to the good stuff. First let me say the author Chris, was kind enough to send me a pdf copy of this because he knew I was such a big fan of Mutant Future and all things of a P.A. RPG Nature. So keep that in mind, however, I fully intend to pick up a print copy of this with my own $$ asap. This is a great resource for Mutant Future or other P.A. Games. You can tell the author has a real love for the genre and a knack for creating Mutant Beasts that are useful for not only maiming your hapless wasteland explorers but also have some interesting Campaign twists to them. I'm also excited to have a tome of mutant beasties from outside the 'norm" in my collection. It seems most P.A. Games and resources seem to be based around North America, the author has taken his Apocalypse on the Road, or across the Ocean rather and pulled in beasts and legends from the Phillipines to work up this Manual of Mutant Beasties. BUT wait there's MORE! Not only does this tome have a plethora of mutant monsters, it has quite a few additional Mutations also! That was one thing I wish the Mutant Future core rules had, and now thanks to this book I've got some more! If your a fan of Mutant Future, or P.A. RPG's in general I encourage you to pick this up!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creatures of the Tropical Wastes (Mutant Future)
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Sight Unseen: A Script for Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition
by Bane H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2011 05:19:02
This script is really scary. It can really freak the hell out of your players. My only criticism is the preparation. If you wish for a game you can begin playing right the way, this is not one of them.

There's a lot of props you have to prepare to make this game work: stereo boombox, phone, fake blood, fake gore/body parts, portable tape recorder, some food stuff. You need a place which you can get messy. Body parts, food, and fake blood will scatter all over your floor and your persons. You need someone with sound editing skill to make various convincing sound effects, like chaos police shoot out and men slaughter, and abominable monstrous sounds. You need a couple of strong stagehands to help drag your players around by force, and convincingly play various roles, and make monster effects work.

This takes a lot of work. If you have a trope devoted to this scale of production, then go for it. It'll be an unforgettable experience for the players. If you don't have the means to produce this, it's still a great read anyway.

This game is a stand alone, it doesn't require the use of any game system. The players are blindfolded to simulate blindness. They can't read their character sheet (thought the sheets are provided anyway). Things will happen to players according to timing on the script and GM's judgement. There's no need for any task resolution. Hence the game is free-form.

I'd give this 5 stars, but it requires so much preparation, I don't think I'll ever run it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sight Unseen: A Script for Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition
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Creatures of the Tropical Wastes (Mutant Future)
by Randy M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2011 10:32:37
Skirmisher Publishing has been cranking out good stuff for years now, so it was no surprise when I opened this newest installment and found yet another gem.

Chris Van Deelen, co-author of the Outlanders novel "Mask of the Sphinx", pens a great list of mutants, mutations and more! I thought just to skim this originally, but was so caught up in what I read that I ended up reading the entire 60+ pages in one sitting.

There are a lot of devious creatures here...lethal, in fact...that GMs amd Labyrinth Lords alike will find to challenge their players. Chris uses the Phillipine mythos as a model for some of his creations. He fills his descriptions with excelent "wasteland" history as well as their traditional stories, making them an execellent blend for any campaign. Creatures, like the Ahas Folk lend themselves to possible PC types, whereas creatures such as the Palmers will be sure your players never look at coconuts the same way again!

I've laways been a fan of new mutations, so the selection included in this installment also caught my eye. I like in particular the concept of "companion mutations" (ones that remain dormant unless the PC also possesses another pre-requisite mutation), such as the Memory Erase mutation included here. I have created similar mutations for my players and the fact that they can build on one another makes their play much more interesting. There are others, such as Shapeshift and Unique Sense that are the blueprints for powerful mutants as well.

Chris and Derek Holland's personal commentaries set the stage and give you a glimpse into what the author was thinking when these goodies were devised. As a fellow writer and GM, I especially appreciate this sort of insight into a work such as this.

Bottom line: 5 Stars...GO GET IT!!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creatures of the Tropical Wastes (Mutant Future)
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d∞ (“d-Infinity”) Volume #1: The Adventure Begins
by Martin M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2011 12:24:26
“Roll d∞ (d-Infinity). A Multi-Platform Game Supplement” is a quarterly games magazine (single issues available) published by Skirmisher, which covers a wide range of topics and contains “material compatible with many rules systems and the products of many different companies”. Maybe it is even the material of some other game system that inspires you for something in your game? Or you discover a new gaming system? I think it is quite save to claim that, while not everything inside will be for everyone, for everyone something will be inside the magazine. There is so much wealth in it, that it surpasses a description. To see for yourself, issue 0, “The Shape of Things to Come”, is available for free – check it out here: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=8-
1842. Additionally a preview sample of this issue 1, “The Adventure Begins” is available. That should really be enough to convince you! And now it is also possible to order a printed copy. Last I want to mention that a bonus place for “City Builder: A Guide to Designing Communities” is contained in each issue (in this issue: The Smugglers Tunnel).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d∞ (“d-Infinity”) Volume #1: The Adventure Begins
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d∞ (“d-Infinity”) Volume #0: The Shape of Things to Come
by Martin M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2011 12:22:14
“Roll d∞ (d-Infinity). A Multi-Platform Game Supplement” is a quarterly games magazine (single issues available) published by Skirmisher, which covers a wide range of topics and contains “material compatible with many rules systems and the products of many different companies”. I think it is quite save to claim that, while not everything inside will be for everyone, for everyone something will be inside. As this issue is even free, you should just get it and see for yourself. It should be mention that a bonus place for “City Builder: A Guide to Designing Communities” is contained in each issue (in this issue: The Quarry).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d∞ (“d-Infinity”)  Volume #0: The Shape of Things to Come
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City Builder: A Guide to Designing Communities
by Martin M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2011 12:19:18
“City Builder: A Guide to Designing Communities” is exactly that: A manual for the Game Master to design communities. It answers such crucial questions as: What types of communities are there? Which buildings are to be expected in which type of settlement? What types of work shops, shops, religious places, government institutions/facilities and so on can be found in which community? The descriptions are system-independent and best used with “ancient, Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance, fantasy” RPG setting. They give a lot of background (even real live history) and do not restrict the GM by giving maps and inventories of single, specific locations. On the other hand for each place one to four adventure hooks are presented. When not building a community from scratch, each place can be used independently, of course.
While the individual chapters are also sold separately, this compilation covers some additional places but nevertheless is cheaper as the sum of the single chapters. Thus, you get more for less!
The lavish illustrations, appendix on Guilds, versions for screen and printer must not go unmentioned, neither the intelligible style of writing.
While City Builder: A Guide to Designing Communities encompasses all volumes of the City Builder series (and additional material), in each issue of d∞ (d-Infinity) the description of a bonus place is contained. (d∞ 0: “The Shape of Things to Come” is even available for free – check it out there: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=8-
1842).
One thing, though: You might want to think about purchasing this (also) in print.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City Builder: A Guide to Designing Communities
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City Builder Volume 11: Underworld Places
by Martin M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2011 12:14:24
“City Builder Volume 11: Underworld Places is the final volume in a series of 11 complementary books“ (original description) – but have no fear! You can get the compilation of the City Builder series (which contains additional material and is cheaper than the eleven parts combined), and d∞ (d-Infinity) contains in each volume the description of a bonus place. (d∞ 0: “The Shape of Things to Come” is even available for free – check it out here: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=8-
1842).
Now about the Underworld Places: These are Brothels, Gambling Dens, Pit-Fighting Rings, and Thieves’, Assassins’, and Beggars’ Guilds. All places are detailed (including overviews regarding their history in real live) while being system-independent. The descriptions are not specific for one location (map, names of people working there, inventory) but more general templates. A lot of adventure hooks are provided and the places are generously illustrated. (A text-only version for printing is included.) This e-Book will get your imagination running! While $1.99 is quite cheap for this, you should consider getting the complete City Builder instead.
In another review it is written: “the places you send your party of heroes to root out the bad guys!” Just wanted to mention that it also works perfectly well to send your party of bad guys there to have fun, make money, gain information/experience,...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City Builder Volume 11: Underworld Places
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Skirmisher Publishing
Skirmisher Publishing
Publisher Average Rating

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