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Magic & Manuevers
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2012 19:23:33
A massive collection of magical effects and items for the 54 Fantasy game. All of the maneuvers are clearly outlined and organized, with an extensive index at the end.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Magic & Manuevers
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Aurora Hold
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/28/2009 17:58:07
Aurora Hold is a simple adventure with a simple plot and a simple premise. The simple setup follows a simple path which leads to a simple conclusion. The simplicity of the adventure may be a turnoff for more advanced players looking for a bit more bite.

As a straight dungeon crawl that begins in a town, it introduces nothing new under the sun as far as adventure design, but will mildly entertain a party for a few hours or so, so long as the Dungeon Master can make up for the bland parts with a little pizzazz. The 21 page adventure is very well written and well laid out, despite a slight bit of discoloration in font color from page to page.

The story revolves around an ancient elf appearing on his ancestral lands and telling the town that has now built itself up there that they must vacate it so he can reclaim it, as it is a powerful, and deactivated, portal. The players must venture into the elf’s newly appeared structure and find deactivate the portal before it is too late.

For the Dungeon Master
The saving grace of this adventure is the really cool puzzle and handout that accompanies it. The writer does a great job of designing a visual handout that tells the tale of the puzzle, but also providing clues for the party that want to insure their skills are beneficial in solving the puzzle. Rarely do you find a good puzzle in a short adventure (or any adventure).

The Iron Word
Aurora Hold is a solid version of this familiar story with a well done defeat the creature and solve the puzzle ending. It benefits from being short, so using it as a sidetrek or a one night deal will not distract your party. The combat encounters need to be spiced up and the box text condensed, but colorful dundjinni designed map and the clear layout make up for its shortfalls.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Aurora Hold
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54 - Fantasy
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2009 17:33:04
An interesting fantasy corebook that doesn't stray too far from D&D in terms of the setting presented or the actions of an expected group of PCs, but which uses a deck of playing cards (with jokers, hence "54") as the resolution system, permitting a degree of player control over pacing and character success and failure that dice don't normally give. Further, as character skills increase, "maneuvers" are learned that give additional abilities not available at lower levels.

This is a fully-featured game that can be played with just this PDF - it has a spell list, an extensive monster section, a sample of play, an introductory scenario, and the campaign design advice is far more detailed than most D&D-derived fantasy games undertake. This is a welcome change from many fantasy games that just present something with underlying assumptions that are never explored or explained, and raise the score on this product significantly.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
54 - Fantasy
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Stone of Life
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/17/2009 15:22:06
There’s an old saying which says, pithily enough, that simple is best. It’s an axiom that gets lost sometimes in the 3.5 design mindset, as writers and publishers mix in new and ever more complex options. Even adventures are guilty of this, oftentimes looking to take place in new venues with labyrinthine storylines. Stone of Life, from Worlds of Adventure, eschews all of that, taking the familiar tone of a straightforward dungeon crawl for low-level characters.

The adventure, meant for 2nd-level characters, is simple in its execution. There’s a magical pool that heals the injuries of anyone who drinks of it, and a druid wants the PCs to find it and get a flask of its water for his dying master. The characters must then navigate the network of caverns that leads to it, fighting off the minions of a death god who currently try to keep the pool away from those who’d use it, and locate the pool.

I found myself surprised with how much I enjoyed this adventure as I read it over. I admit, for such an uncomplicated offering from a small company, I’d really thought that there’d be little to recommend it. Instead, it felt liberating to read an adventure that didn’t feel that it had to bombard us with unnecessary complications. Moreover, there was no sacrifice in quality going along with this product. Instructions were given on altering the adventure for 1st- or 3rd-level parties, stat blocks were neatly presented where necessary for encounters. Even the bookmarks were thorough and professionally nested, allowing for easy navigation, something that’s usually ignored in shorter products.

Of course, there were some aspects to the adventure that I was somewhat critical of. There’s a heavy reliance on undead over the course of this adventure, for example, which may place too much of a burden on clerics while rogues are marginalized (though the use of traps might help alleviate the latter problem). Also, the undead in this adventure had a curious vulnerability in that they’re tied to an item in the dungeon; if the PCs happen to find and destroy it while starting out, which is possible, they could have an unexpectedly easy time of it. Finally, the last encounter seems too deadly for a group of 2nd-level PCs. Maybe they’re supposed to level up over the course of the adventure, but as it stands the last enemy could be a TPK waiting to happen.

I also can’t help but note that there’s very little artwork here. Besides the cover, there’s an interior map (which seems a bit blocky) and an interior illustration for one of the new monsters, the ghargoyle. There’s also a slim green sidebar on alternating pages, but beyond that, if you prefer nice artwork in your books, you won’t find much here.

Still, this adventure was quite enjoyable for how unassuming it was. It gave me a very retro “back to the dungeon” feeling that newcomers will quite enjoy, and veteran players will probably feel nostalgic about. If you’re feeling old school, give your group a run through Stone of Life.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stone of Life
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