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Defenders of Midgard (4th Edition D&D)
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/02/2013 21:26:35
Update: I wrote the review below yesterday. Today, the product description has been updated on the site, incorporating my feedback. That's great customer service! I'll leave the review, as much of it still applies, but my complaints about "themes" originally being listed as "classes" and the lack of a statement that Kobold #16 is required to create Gearforged PCs no longer apply. Hope you enjoy the book as much as I have!

First, I was happy to see additional support for D&D 4E in the Midgard setting. While I've been playtesting 13th Age and D&D Next, my gaming group continues to play 4E in its ongoing campaign.

The layout of this e-book is very professional. All color art, easy to find what you're looking for, quickly recognizable 4E formats for powers, backgrounds, etc. I enjoyed the new options this book provides. The "fluff" text is short but helpful. The "crunch" looks to be about right in terms of power level.

My only complaint is really a problem I have with the product write-up on this site. First, the description states that there are 7 new classes. In reality, there are 7 new themes. I enjoy the relatively late addition of themes to 4E, and while I haven't had time to see these themes in play, they appear to be appropriate in terms of usefulness and power-level (I'd say they're comparable to several of the themes found in Heroes of the Feywild). So if you're looking for entirely new classes, please be aware that you won't find them here (and at 24 pages, I should've known that before I made the purchase, too...a single class generally requires more than 24 pages in any of the 4E books). What you will find is what you'd expect from a theme:

• A starting feature, a level 5 feature, and a level 10 feature
• Optional utility powers for levels 2, 6, and 10

Second, when the description said that the book includes Gearforged Racial Powers, I was expecting something like optional starting racial powers to change Eberron's Warforged into Midgard's Gearforged. This would have been similar to Dragon Magazine articles that have replaced the Dragonborn's breath weapon with a Dragonfear power, for example. Instead, optional racial powers are presented, which would be selected as alternatives to class powers as PCs level. This approach is used in recent 4E splatbooks, such as Heroes of the Feywild and in the "Making Race Count" Dragon Magazine articles. It provides further options for an existing Gearforged character's development, which I appreciate, but wasn't what I expected. The e-book makes it clear that the Gearforged race is found in Kobold Quarterly #16, but this should be explicit in the product description, so that you don't purchase the book expecting to be able to create Gearforged characters.

Last, the Schools of Magic that are presented (compatible with the 4E Essentials Mage from Heroes of the Fallen Lands) present features up to level 10. The book states in its introduction that it's intended for the heroic tier, but this omission leaves a Clockwork or Glyph Mage in a bit of a quandary—the Essentials Mage doesn't select a Paragon Path the way the core Wizard (Arcanist) does. The school of magic selected at character creation guides the Mage's development through both the heroic and paragon tiers. Something as simple as a sentence stating that the Mage should, at level 11, choose a Paragon Path would help. Clearly, if your character is using any of these options, you're already going outside of the "official" rules, so an Essentials Mage selecting a Paragon Path will allow the character to advance, even if his/her powers aren't very clockwork/glyph focused—perhaps some re-skinning of the spell fluff would help here. Even better would have been to expand these entries to include the 3 powers and 1 feature needed to fully define each school.

To summarize: the quality of the book is very good. It is well written, easy to understand, and visually attractive. Just be aware of what you're buying, and make sure it's going to meet your expectations—the product description can be misleading.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Defenders of Midgard (4th Edition D&D)
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Midgard Campaign Setting
by Jason C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2012 18:28:23
In a word: brilliant.

This is without doubt or hyperbole the very best fantasy RPG campaign setting that I have ever read (and I've read many!).

Wolfgang Bauer and his team have delivered a dark reflection of old world myth and legend and given them a richly-detailed home in Midgard. The usage of real-world elements is just familiar enough to give the place a strong sense of the believable--there are gnomes and Baba Yaga, for instance--but they've been re-imagined in ways that seem fresh and new. The elves are nearly extinct. Familiar gods wear masks to conceal their machinations. The gnomes have sold their souls to the infernal in hopes of escaping Baba Yaga's vengeance. And the cannibal hag herself isn't what you expect! The result is that Midgard feels like it could be a genuine place for your heroes (and villains) to call home.

This gorgeously-illustrated volume contains rules for both Pathfinder and the AGE systems, but isn't dependent on them: the designers have wisely kept the rules information to the minimum required to guide the GM and players. It could be adapted with ease to any system. I can't wait to use this setting as the foundation for a new campaign!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Campaign Setting
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Midgard Adventures: To the Edge of the World
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/10/2012 04:47:09
We've all been there, those little squishy tasty scooby snacks known as low level characters...just waiting to be fed to a group of rats, or maybe if you're really lucky a pack of goblins....Woopee!! Yeah, not so much, right? Low level notoriously blows, because so little is written for it with the idea that the group can handle a real challenge, let alone is worthy of a story that goes beyond the most absolute basic concepts...after all, the good stuff is reserved for those characters that can do something with it. Well, Wolfgang says NO MORE!!

To the Edge of the World by Wolfgang Baur is (like every book in the Midgard series) a visual treat to look at. To say that Marc Radle was a good choice for graphic design for the Kobolds has got to be one of the biggest understatements one could imagine. Everything Radle touches ends up with a higher degree of professionalism and just all around sexiness. Sexiness? Yeah, I went there. I can not stress enough how much I have fallen in love with the look of the Midgard series of books, and am thrilled to see that the look is going to carry into the adventures as well as the sourcebooks, as this truly ties them all together as a cohesive set.

Now, I know, I know...you didn't come here to listen to me go on and on about how pretty it is, you want to know about the meat of it all, The adventure itself. And how in the world any adventure written for a beginning playgroup could possibly incorporate a cover that freaking cool, right? Well, let me break it to you buttercup....Oh, wait, almost forgot...PLAYERS BEGONE (wiggles the fingers, tosses the dust) ...Alright, almost forgot to cast that handy little incantation SPOILER ALERT...lol. Now, where were we?? Ah yes, the cover, and just what the heck is going on in this adventure....read on my friends, read on.

The PCs are going to find themselves hired to travel to meet with an undead queen, there to do the diplomacy dance and ingratiate themselves through gifts and flattery to try and gain access to a tomb with the intentions of retrieving an item for their employer. Following me so far? Cool. Because what you have here is essentially the hook to get your PCs moving. The man of means hiring them is going to hook them up with some handy dandy toys to help, things well beyond their means as PCs, but in the end they are acting as emissaries for their employer, which is a great way to put means within the grasp of a group without breaking the mechanics of what they themselves could afford to have access to.

Offered the usage of a ship with an experienced captain (a dragonkin by the name of Gullnipper, who has an excellent piece of art on a sidenote), the PCs should have no problems in reaching the island of Karn'lothra. To keep the journey interesting several side encounters are presented to be used or not, as the GM chooses. Upon arrival to the island (which is described with absolutely cool little features - the corpse of a titan washed up on the beach, a ring of large sculpted heads surrounding the islands coastline, the immense amount of tombs forming a veritable wall of mazeworks.) the PCs will have to jump through the diplomatic hoops and deal with the Bloodless Queen (lich-queen) in attempting to get permission to search for a specific tomb, and then enter said tomb to retrieve an item for their employer.

It should be noted that at this point, yes, the PCs are dealing with things that could easily kill them all, without trying. And that's exactly the point. A group that remembers their place in the larger scale of things, and talks instead of unsheathing their weapons stands a much better chance of getting through several areas of this adventure alive. Assuming they get to the tomb, and survive its defenses, they will find themselves in possession of both that which they came for, and an unexpected treat that should amuse any GM out there...an intelligent, talking spellbook. Yeah, a built in NPC who may or may not co-operate at its own discretion, without being so intrusive that it gets in the way of the storyline.

The book, in the attempt to facilitate escape from the Queen's minions, summons a Leviathan Island for the PCs to "board" and "set sail" on. The leviathan island is freaking huge people, and the map showing it off is a piece of artwork on its own, an actual island of stone and vegetative growth, complete with a group of mongrelmen who worship the freaking thing.

So, pretty cool so far, no? I mean, let's face it, that's some pretty epic stuff for a low level group to experience...but we're so not done yet. The Midgard setting presents us with a flat world, and this leviathan is intending to leave, and get back to the celestial sea by sailing to the edge and making the leap...and yes, the PCs are going along for the ride unless they choose to bail, with no ship or hope of survival. Amongst the stars the leviathan heads towards the Citadel of a Million Stars, wherein the PCs will find themselves embroiled within the court politics of the celestials in residence, with no real allies to rely upon.

A fantastically envisioned adventure that allows for the reality that it is OK for a low level group of PCs to encounter things beyond their combat scope, to be put into danger that will require them to do more than hack and slash to survive, and truly pushes the envelope of what a low level adventure is.

Presented in a dual column format with embedded artwork from Mark Bulahao and Marc Radle, cartography from Todd Gamble, Alyssa Faden and Peter Bradley, and of course that insanely cool cover piece from Pat Loboyko. Editing is top notch, with nothing really jumping out and grabbing me.

Whereas the adventure could be ported to another setting, the true weight of the design and the subtle beauty really shines through when it is left right where it was designed to be played, within the Midgard setting. Several references are made throughout the PDF to other Kobold Press publications, ranging from other Midgard titles to KQ issues, all of which one should have within their library (lol), or can be referenced from the D20PFSRD easily enough.

Wolfgang reminds us all why he's a force to be reckoned with in the industry with this adventure, and easily earned a 6 star rating from me, rounded down to a 5 for the purposes of this forum. A true treat, and well worth the price of admission folks!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Adventures: To the Edge of the World
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Monsters of Sin 7: Wrath (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2012 05:51:51
This pdf is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's check out the final installment of the monsters of sin-series!

As is the tradition with the series by now, we kick off with an introduction to the sin at hand as well as the wrathful creature simple template (CR+3),which allows the creature to rage 1/day for 1d6+1 round as the spell and gain the diehard feat as well as reflexively rage when reduced to negative HP.

The new monsters are:

-Hulking Whelp (CR 5): A cute small fey somewhat resembling a small canine, cute humanoid, these neurotic fey grow to a dread huge size when their personal space is violated - per se a nice idea that may grant satisfaction to all those annoyed by yelling small dogs...or crush them! the creature comes with stats for both forms.

-Savager (CR 9): Supremely creepy artwork for a porcupine-like quilled grizzly with saberteeth and scimitar-like claws and a cool armor of scabs.

-Spiteful Spirit: CR-2 template that makes for a temporary undead after a foe has been vanquished. Nice simple template to give an NPC killed by a lucky shot another chance to shine. Per se a nice idea, but honestly, nothing any DM can't make him/herself.

-Embodiment of Wrath (CR 23): The final embodiment of sin-creature is a hulking, 4-armed apelike beast with an aura of anger, the power to detect those seeking to hide from them and a superbly cool ability: When damaged, it gains anger-points that it can use to deal bleed damage, grow an extra arm, haste, bonus feats etc., making the fight progressively harder and making the fight feel like it has phases. Very cool to make the boss fight work very well!

The pdf closes with a page on wrath-related fluff in the Midgard Setting.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the series' beautiful two-column standard and this issue's b/w-artworks are all rather well-made and iconic. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a pity - apart from BP-length pdfs, all should have them by now.
The monsters of sin-series triumphs and falls with its brevity and unfortunately, this brevity also means that any creature that is not all killer, detracts from the issue's appeal. And said thing unfortunately holds true for the Spiteful Spirit template, which at best is boring and something that most DMs probably pulled off without having the template. Furthermore, the template's lack of any signature ability apart from its short-livedness is a wasted chance. The other creatures herein are stellar, though, with especially the embodiment's increasing lethality something I'd wish more designers used for their boss beasties. Kudos for the neat design - though I wished the other embodiments had similar options. All in all, this issue is a fitting, albeit not perfect final installment of author Ryan Costello Jr.'s series and will clock in at a final verdict of 4 stars from me.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of Sin 7: Wrath (Pathfinder RPG)
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Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design
by JONATHAN N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2012 14:16:36
The best product on the market for aspiring role-playing game authors. Five stars!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design
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Midgard: Player's Guide to the Dragon Empire
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2012 04:06:11
A 30 page book, the Midgard Player's Guide to the Dragon Empire is a very attractive PDF, with an accent framed parchment style background to the pages, heraldry shield page decorations, both color and B&W artwork, a predominately two column layout and truly astounding editing work. Where as the TOC is not linked, the PDF comes with nested bookmarks that handle the issue just fine.

So, the Dragon Empire...Imagine for a second what would happen if the biggest and baddest dragons out there got tired of defending themselves constantly. If they got tired of having to put out their own efforts to keep their lands and hordes growing. What would happen if egos and personal ambition could be put aside long enough to realize an alliance, a council if you will, would be beneficial for far more reasons than not. From this the Mharoti Empire came into being, named for the dragon who brought the proposal to his fellow dragons within the lands that came to be ruled by the empire.

The really cool thing here in this concept is that we have a very familiar thing here, in that a ruling council governing a large body of people living in various social castes, but we are presented something very new and fresh at the same time. The idea of a society that is in fact designed to favor the scaled races, while allowing for the usage and growth of the various “hairy” species is really cool. We are given not only the social caste and who falls where, but the terminology in Draconic for each level. Coolest thing there in regards to the draconic language being incorporated? We get a common phrase straight from the lips of the Jambuka (Jackals – or to be less polite, us humans and our fellow hair growers). Now, the oddball thing here is that the office of power within the empire is given to a human, as the dragon lords recognized that they could never trust each other to rule the collective lands and amassed armies. Where as the position carries a great deal of power with it, in the end it is a puppet string away from the teeth of the Great Dragon Lords, and the Sultanate lives a life of constantly trying to balance the desires of her draconic masters.

A collection of new traits provided give plenty of options for characters who choose to be from the Dragon Empires as opposed to merely traveling there. Several of the traits however seem to be missing their prerequisites. By the wording, and the sheer names of some of the traits it is not hard to see what the prerequisites should be, but a GM will need to impose them to avoid those players looking for loopholes, as gaining traits benefiting from draconic heritage when one need not be of draconic descent could make it very easy for someone to gain an unfair advantage. As an example of what it is I am referring to I offer up the trait Quick and Cunning Kobold Child - Your quick wits and quicker reflexes are reflective of your kobold ancestry. Now, I'm not going to list the benefit here, but I will say that there is no requirement for you to be either kobold, or at least have an associated bloodline, even though the wording makes it pretty clear you're supposed to. Now, there are section heads detailing for some of the groupings of traits (Combat, Magical, etc.) to whom they are supposed to belong, but there are several points where no distinction has been made, and I find only one trait that specifically has a prerequisite. We are also given a full set of traits that are specifically linked to certain races, as explained in the section lead-in, and the names of each trait. To be clear my complaint in regards to missing prerequisites is for various traits before the racial traits section.

So, that out of the way, what are we getting out of this traits section? A lot. 43 traits in total, with my favorite out of them all being Draconic Trait. This trait allows ANYONE to take a trait meant only for dragons, drakes and dragonkin. It still has its limitations to keep one from going insane, but it does allow you to replace a racial trait with one from the kobold or dragonkin options. A very cool way to allow for the idea that those who live amongst and serve the reptilian races will, in time, pick things up.

24 new Feats make up the next section of the book, with a small sidebar recommending how to handle playing a Drake as a PC race. A great deal of the feats here help take a dragonkin or kobold a step further towards their ancestral big cousins, with feats covering flying, gliding, thicker hide, breath weapons and the such. But there are plenty of feats here for any and all races as well, and even feats to recognize the four elemental gods of the dragons of this region as well. A decent collection of feats, with prerequisites in place and a couple of small feat chains for those who love to link their feats for bigger and better effects.

The next section brings us the archetypes and prestige classes for the Dragon Empire, and the first offering impressed me to no end. Order of the Firedrake (Cavalier Archetype) is in fact a rider, be it dragon or drake, aimed at being that character on the battlefield inspiring and leading her allies into combat with a roar on her lips, and the blood of her enemies painting the ground beneath her. An impressive set of class abilities, my favorite being Dragon Strike (15th level she brings her allies with her on a charge attack, granting them an attack on their move as long as they reach a target...imagine the damage of such an attack folks). The Elemental Exarch (Druid Archetype) gives us a druid who doesn't worship nature, but rather the elements themselves, the underlying keys to nature. Gaining an elemental companion in much the same sense as an animal companion, although with several much cooler perks in regards to what one's companion can do for you, these druids can literally be fused with their elemental, gaining instant bonuses to ability scores depending upon the nature and size of the elemental.

There are 7 more archetypes covering the Magus, Dragonkin, Monk, Oracle, Rogue and Elementalist classes...and no, I didn't miscount, there are two for the Monk – Monk of the Fiery Mist and Monk of the Wind Palm. I could easily write another full page discussing these archetypes, but having nothing negative to say in regards to them, I am going to move on instead to the prestige class. Dragon Emir is a full 10 level prestige class that takes what the Order of the Firedrake started in whetting my appetite with a mounted concept and kicks it into high gear. The Dragon Emir are the elite, those few chosen to ride draconic mounts in to combat, leading the charge, rallying the troops and devastating the enemy. A very cool prestige class, even if it is limited to only the scaly races, lol.

Now what good would a book introducing us to a new lands and society be without a section on new magics, right? Thankfully the Kobolds agree, and they have graced us with 17 new spells to make you twirl your mustache while laughing evilly...mwahahaha...oh..ahem..sorry. So, spells, let's discuss my new favoritest spell for the week...Coin Swarm. Turn any pile of 1,000 coins into a freaking swarm of flying cutting whirling disks of metal, with all the bonuses of potential exotic metals (cold iron, silver, etc.)...I warn my players here and now, as I know a few of them read my reviews...every dragon from this day forward will know this spell....lol. Wyvern's Sting does one of two things, either it transforms the end of a character's tail into the whiplike stinger of a wyvern dealing Con damage, or for those PCs without tails it grows a full wyvern tail for the duration of the spell dealing the same damage as above.
Fiery Sandstorm brings into being a bludgeoning sandstorm enhanced with burning damage as well thanks to the flames licking through the sand. Extra perk? Natural flight impossible, and spell chuckers have to make concentration checks or fall back to manual labor while in the midst of the sandstorm.

A sampling of the exotic goods of these lands closes us out, and is truly the only place in the PDF where I feel let down. We open with a collection of monsters and animals that serve different purposes within these lands, and the list for the most part makes perfect sense and really helps sell the fact that a great deal of the Dragon Empires is in fact a desert nation ruled by draconic races. However, in the intro to these animals and their usages it is mentioned that zombies and yeti are amongst the creatures imported for usage, but they do not appear in the actual write ups, so we are not given a reason for them to be there. From the imported critters we move along to some of the more exotic wares one would find amongst the bazaars of these lands you might not find back home, like Aboleth Brain, or Basilisk Heart (both a delicacy amongst dragons), various weaponry for those with a draconic body frame, poisons that will overcome a dragon's natural resistance to sleep and paralysis...just over all cool exotic stuff...with no prices. And that is where we hit my disappointment with this book. This insanely cool chapter filled with really cool new gear, with no simple chart showing us weights, prices, etc...the basic information we need for gear to incorporate it properly. I can overlook the zombie and yeti being left out of the first part of this chapter, but teasing me with all of this cool gear, and then not giving me prices and basic info...ouch.

Four new magical rugs/carpets tie it all up as the last offerings in this PDF, with a magical trap in the form of a Carpet of Confusion, another in the Rug of Suffocation and Flying Carpet of Suffocation offering the more mobile version of the rug of the same name. The Teleportation Carpet allows for instant transport between two rugs sharing the same plane as long as one knows the correct activation word, unless of course these are set up as traps as well, causing any and all who step upon them to be whisked away...ah traps, wrapped up in cool magical items...gotta love it.

Which brings me to the final thoughts and rating. Overall, I loved this book. I did. My only real complaint is that the chapter handling gear feels like it is missing a very vital chart, detailing not only the gear, but the weaponry introduced there as well. The problem is I don't feel that is a small thing, as it leaves us without prices for any of it, let alone weights. Luckily, this is the type of thing that would take up enough of a page all on it's own it could easily be drawn up and released in the form of an enhancement to avoid having to update the PDF. Hopefully we'll see such a chart at some point.

Now, on to the positive stuff...everything else. No really, this PDF is solid, and introduces a really cool new locale for your Midgard campaign. Not playing in Midgard? Not an issue, a scaly race empire could easily make any campaign world it is dropped in a cooler place to play within. The art is very thematic and will have you thinking along the lines of Persia, Arabia and the vast deserts...well, except for the tribute piece to the classic arcade game Joust....lol, that piece alone needs to be put on T-shirts...just saying Wolfgang, put me down for one, lol.

OK, so, rating. I'm settling at a 4.5, with a rounded rating of 5 for the purposes of this forum, but I am going to clarify that the only reason I am not giving a true 5 is the lack of important information in regards to the new items and gear. And I do hope that something formal is made available to address this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard: Player's Guide to the Dragon Empire
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Kobold Quarterly Magazine 23
by Tim W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/02/2012 12:55:15
Midgard Campaign setting unveiled! Pathfinder options galore! Demons and Devils abound (Dispater, Pages from Asmodeus, Mechuiti - demon lord, Selling Your Soul, Devil's Food, The Devil Smiter)! World-building advice from Monte Cook! PFSOP adventure by Adam Daigle! Living Gods for 13th Age by Ash Law! A great article on how to scare your players by Steve Winter! And so much more! This issue so kicks butt, I'm not sure how I sleep at night! If you play table top RPGs, you MUST have this issue! 8')

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kobold Quarterly Magazine 23
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Kobold Quarterly Magazine 23
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2012 12:33:19
This issue of Kobold Quarterly has a distinct slant toward demons and devils, which is quite fitting for a Halloween issue. However, if fiends from the lower planes aren’t your thing, don’t despair – this issue also has over a dozen articles covering a wide variety of non-infernal topics. Let’s look at a few of them first.

What does your older brother plus a water balloon have in common with spreading dread amongst your players? More than you might think. The connection is explained, very eloquently and entertainingly, by Steve Winter in his Howling Tower article, “Real Scares, 11 Techniques for Creating a Strong Horror Atmosphere at the Table.” And no, absolutely none of the techniques involve hiring your older brother to ambush your players with water balloons.

James Thomas brings us “A Few Suggestions, 8 Ways to Influence Weak Minds.” With humor, concise examples, and even a Star Wars reference, Mr. Thomas shows that the humble suggestion spell is unfairly neglected by GM and players alike. And of course, he also shows how to easily remedy that neglect.

“Slithering in Moonlight” by Marc Radle is a guide to using Lamia Commoners as player characters. In addition, he also explores lamias in a way that recalls the excellent “Ecology Of…” articles from back in the print-edition days of Dragon Magazine. Whether as prospective PC’s or just as better-developed foes, this article improves the usefulness of lamias. Also, I thought the story fragment used to introduce this article was particularly effective.

“The Gauntlet Witch” by Morgan Boehringer and Jim Wettstein is an archetype that lets characters mix martial and magical arts. This is the most well-developed archetype description I’ve ever seen. Most archetypes are described in a couple of short paragraphs which say “swap this power for that power.” That’s not the case here. Brace yourself for a detailed, in-depth discussion.

This issue includes two adventures: The first adventure, “Devil’s Food” by Michael Lane, is suitable for a 6th level group. It involves autumn festivals, chocolate, and some wonderfully nasty gnomes. This adventure is set in the world of Midgard, but as with all good adventure modules, some careful name changes will let you securely place it in your own world.

The second adventure, “The Urge to Evolve” by Adam Daigle is a Pathfinder Society Quest. It is nicely compact, should be playable in the course of a single game session, and even includes a sidebar suggesting how to scale it for your group.

I do have one nit to pick with both these adventures. Both use the “I have a job for you” setup, which is one of my least-favorite ways to start an adventure. However, this complaint reflects my personal prejudice rather than any flaw in the adventures themselves, both of which looks like they will be properly entertaining.

Now let’s look at a sampling of the Fiendish Articles:

“Dispater” by Wes Schneider provides everything you need to bring this Arch-Fiend to life in your campaign. Giving major foes a real personality and complex, understandable motives can be quite a challenge … for me, anyway, but apparently not for Mr. Schneider. He shows exactly how to do it for this iconic arch-devil. He has even included a sidebar on the real-world history of Dispater.

Ed Greenwood gives us “Pages from Asmodeus”, a book unlike any I have ever heard of before. This evil object is more imaginative and intriguing than any of the Artifacts from back in 1st Edition days, yet it is suitable for use with a group of almost any level.

“Selling Your Soul” by Rodrigo García Carmona presents a detailed and excellent set of rules to guide both GM’s and players in striking a Fiendish Bargain. I am not familiar with the Age system for which this article was written, but that doesn’t matter. The information in this article is so clearly and logically presented that I know I’ll have no trouble at all adjusting it for use in my 3E/PF game.

Please be assured, I enjoyed all the articles in this issue, even the ones I didn’t choose to mention here. Every article had something interesting, useful, or entertaining to say.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Midgard Campaign Setting
by Brett G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2012 21:20:17
This is a fantastic alternate setting and especially for AGE games (although the Pathfinder roots remain quite evident and are sometimes jarring). It is well organized and beautifully illustrated. Even if one only intends to mine the sourcebook for piecing into a homebrew campaign the backgrounds will be extremely useful both as written and for inspiration.

This is not Earth restyled. Midgard is flat and has a rich cosmology. Included are not just sections on the divine but descriptions of festivals, holidays, and languages. A rather nicely developed urban area named The Free City of Zobek is provided but there are also non-standard areas such as kingdoms of vampires and ghouls. Nor are all the races stock fantasy in origins as Midgard features some distinct takes on such matters including the nomadic Windrunner Elves of the steppes. Adventure seeds are provided and culturally specific weapons and equipment detailed.

In fact, I have only one real complaint but in my mind it is a major problem. The PDF has no print-friendly settings. The illustrations and decoration is quite nice but printing the document (even inpart) will be prohibitively expensive. I gues some could order a bound edition rather than the PDF but the electronic version makes it easier to design adventures and customize the game experience.

Open Design is to be commended for a very strong offering but the lack of a print friendly layer or discrete download knocks it down a star. Buy this PDF only if you never intend to print most of it OR you are independently wealthy so that printing costs won't bankrupt you,

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Campaign Setting
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Shadow Planes & Pocket Worlds (Pathfinder RPG)
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/23/2012 20:13:24
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=28065.

This supplement to the wildly popular Dark Roads and Golden Hells takes the sometimes confusing and completely amorphous concept of the planes in RPGs and provides more interesting and exciting planes and monsters to encounter while taking a wild planar journey.

Kobold Press has hit a real home run with their view of the planes and how they operate. Shadow Planes Pocket Worlds feels like a solid supplement rather than something that was just tacked on because there was extra material just lying around. Even without the benefit of Dark Roads and Golden Hells, this book still works well as a standalone, product for extra-planar information.

OVERALL

If you are planning on running a game that involves planar travel then this series is for you. This supplement does not go as far as its predecessor to explain how the planes work, but that isn’t the purpose. The two new locations alone make this a product worth buying; add in the rest of the crunchy information makes Shadow Planes Pocket Worlds even more appetizing.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The cover is branded correctly, complementing its older sibling very well. The layout of this book is spot on, rather than trying to fix what wasn’t broken, the folks at Kobold Press stuck with a winner. The page borders still look great and they are just what the Dr. ordered for a product dealing with the planes. The interior art is well done in black and white; there were a few “white spaces” that would have been great for art, but that is minor. The fonts are the right size and easy to read, this book looks great!

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The diseases and poisons were handled well. Rather than just a charted entry for each poison, there is a brief description, not just a collection of numbers. The templates are reasonable and don’t feel overpowered. Putting a template to an imaginary friend was innovative, but I should realize that Kobold Press has shown a willingness to go there and make it work when they get there. The magic items were interesting, without adding additional burdens to the GM or the player.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
If you are not running a game that involves the planes, then this product loses some value. Even a product as well thought out and as well presented as this one diminishes if not used in the context for which it was intended. If you are even hinting at any type of extra planar activity in your game, then there is something here you can use. The poisons and diseases lose a bit of their flavor in the same way the entire product does if not handled correctly.

Overall: 9 out of 10
This is a tight, tight product! The layout and editing are spot on; the content is top notch. There was a little too much white space on a few pages that could have been filled with art or even designer notes or suggestions on how to run a better planar game. For many of you, this might seem like I’m asking for and expecting way too much, but when you do things as well as Kobold Press does, expecting more is the only way they will maintain their high standards or strive to top themselves. This is a product that should spend no time in the shadows or be kept in anyone’s back pocket.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadow Planes & Pocket Worlds (Pathfinder RPG)
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Midgard Campaign Setting
by Jan R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2012 10:10:12
The Midgard Campaign Setting is a wonderful book. The different regions are very diverse and colorful. From a Warring Renaissance Italy over a Cthulhuesque Wasteland to Arabian Nights with Dragons! - there's just so much to dive into and get inspired by. Every place and every NPC is ripe with adventure hooks, everything is designed to create something for your game. With other settings you sometimes get the feeling the authors wanted to write a fantasy novel - not so with Midgard. Here it is clear from page 1 that you have a setting that really wants to help you to create a setting you can and want to play with. It's just great!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Campaign Setting
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Midgard Campaign Setting
by Gerald R. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2012 14:49:00
A wonderful take on fantasy. Introduces fresh ideas using familiar faces, with a setting full of possibility! I am currently using Midgard in my game, and the adventure ideas keep growing the more I read. The art is beautiful as well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Midgard Campaign Setting
by Edward P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2012 10:56:31
I love this book. The art is superb, the writing is crisp, and the world is deeply rich. This belongs in every gamers collection and will provide a lifetime of adventure for your characters.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Midgard Campaign Setting
by Keil H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2012 21:20:37
Bottom line up front: the Midgard Campaign Setting is an excellent piece of work. As a DM, I strongly endorse it.

Disclaimer: I love campaign settings. In addition to doing the classics like Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms, I've tried out a lot of alternative settings for my players. Back when it was new, I sent an established FRCS party from Toril to Eberron. I've also bridged Eberron with Dark Sun (decent), and set a game in the pre-history of Eberron (better). In recent years, I've climbed all over Golarion (Pathfinder RPG) over the course of four Adventure Paths. I've even dabbled in the new edition of Midnight. Lately, though, I've found that I'm quite taken with the Old Margrave, the Free City of Zobeck and the rest of Midgard.

Bluntly, even though I've been DMing games for a really long time, the Midgard Campaign Setting helps me to tell a better story. The Central European influence is rich in role-playing flavor and helps even my novice players create PCs with solid hooks on which to craft character arcs, fears, plot complications and distinctive, memorable features. The adventures that I've run in Midgard have very well received by my players. Races like the Gearforged and regional traits like those from the Margrave forest supplement export very well to other settings, but are richest in their native land.

If you're a 3.5 or 3.75 player, this PDF is definitely worth your time. If you're a DM, I submit that it's a must-have. And if you're a hardcore gamer, you'll probably buy the printed edition, too. I did.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Midgard Campaign Setting
by Chris K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2012 16:07:25
I was lucky enough to be a patron of the Midgard project from the start. What a pleasure it has been seeing this , well to be frank, work of art. Makes a perfect addition to any Pathfinder/AGE world, or use the rich background that it contains.

I mean how many other games have Loki, Baba Yaga and Other Nastys in one setting and makes it all work?

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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