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Oracle of Orcas
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2011 21:55:55
Oracle of Orcas is a free, single adventure module (Exploit) for Dungeons & Dragons designed with a generic theme allowing it to be dropped into virtually any adventure series or campaign. The adventure has a somewhat vague storyline that allows a GM to create much of the details as to why these encounters are occurring and even when.

Oracle of Orcas is designed for characters of 9th Level and part of Alea Publishing Group’s Feudal Lords campaign setting. However, the actual encounters are standard enough that they can easily be fit into any campaign setting.

OVERALL

Oracle of Orcas is a great set of encounters that can be played in a single-game session or tied into an ongoing campaign. This module could be inserted in-between an overall storyline or used as a launching point for new adventure ideas. Considering it is designed for 9th Level characters, you can’t simply use it as a launching point for a starting campaign. However, the underlying story points can be extracted so that a new campaign can be created with these items in mind.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Many publishers release free products but don’t keep with a high-quality publication. Oracle of Orcas has a wonderfully smooth layout and presentation with only a few minor issues here and there. One thing to note is that, for a free product, the stat blocks look great and are extremely easy to read.

Storyline: 6 out of 10
The storyline is loosely developed throughout. This has its own inherent positives and negatives. As an adventure that is able to be placed within any campaign, a loose storyline allows the DM a certain level of flexibility in how they use the encounters. The negative side, which is fairly important, is that the individual encounters are not tied together well bringing the PCs from the end of one encounter to the beginning of the next encounter. There is a definite storyline that the adventure aims to create, but key points to the storyline seem to be missing.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
The encounters are very well written, easy to use, and should be fun (unless you’re only into strict dungeon crawls or pure role-playing). The collection of encounters is geared toward groups who like a combination of combat and non-combat with the option for a certain level of role-play. Another key point that makes this adventure more desirable is the flexibility of the setting, giving DMs the opportunity to place it within the campaign they have already created.

Overall: 8 out of 10
Overall Oracle of Orcas is a great set of encounters, and you cannot beat the price. For a free adventure module, it is a very high-quality publication and a great combination of combat and non-combat. Oracle of Orcas is also a great, free demonstration of Alea Publishing Group’s ability to make quality publications.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Oracle of Orcas
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Dead Age Player's Guide Preview
by Gerwazy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2011 09:54:29
Well, this preview sounds good (nasty!), but this whole "no actual human" concept is not really that new. There is a game from Poland namely "Robotica" which is already "running" and this whole concept from Dead Age seems very similar. Well, I am still curious about how Dead Age will turn out at the end, but if you are hungry of apocalyptic, no-human world give Robotica a try if you have the opportunity. It is well worth it, in my opinion.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Age Player's Guide Preview
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Feudal Characters: Noble
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2010 11:51:06
While the supplement may be short, there’s no shortage of great material contained throughout. This multiclass provides a number of new options for playing a more humanistic setting, introducing royalty into a campaign, or simply creating another unique character for the players to explore. One thing to note is that the Noble multiclass is meant for those with strength in melee and not magic as the majority of the powers are Melee Weapon based with a mixture of ranged Psychic attacks.

For a small publisher, the quality of the layout and presentation of the content is superb! Alea Publishing has followed the high quality displayed by the Player’s Handbook and keeps true with its purpose and material. The new powers are in-line with what is presented in the Player’s Handbook but with new ideas and flavor text that enhance this new multiclass. The only thing it truly lacks is an expanded description of what a Noble truly is, be it narrative or by presenting “build” options. The publication could benefit from a more 3-dimensional look at the Noble as a character and not just a multiclass. To add to all this wonderful material, Alea Publishing has included all the Power Cards for these new powers in the back of the supplement.

Needless to say, I really like the idea of being able to create a Noble as a multiclass, especially a Noble Warlord. Not only are new powers presented, but these powers draw upon a new “source” (bloodline). I find this to be a fantastic way of presenting original ideas into a system that already is filled with lots of powers and mechanics.

It’s tough to add to the comments already stated about the new material added throughout. The option to create a Noble character can be quite valuable to those seeking more role-playing opportunities or those looking to make their characters more unique than the ones otherwise found. The Noble multiclass also has a more humanistic feel for those looking to move away from the standard fantastic races or those trying to recreate a typical feudal system from Medieval times.

Overall I highly recommend GMs and players taking a look at the Noble multiclass not only for it’s possibilities but for the setting that could be created around the use of Nobles. Just taking a look at this supplement makes me want to see more of the Feudal Lords setting for Dungeons & Dragons.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feudal Characters: Noble
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Player Options: Flaws and Merits
by Maurice C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2010 03:28:33
A great addition to any home brewing session but the rules may seem a bit strange at first, players may want to take more flaws and no merits or opt out of regular feats for merits. Follow the rules in the pdf and no serious issues should arise. Not compatible with D&D insider services.
Welcome to 4.1.2

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Player Options: Flaws and Merits
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Player Options: Ancient Wizard Magic
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/25/2009 07:48:40
One of the complaints I've read about that's used against the 4e GSL system, is that the wizard class got a serious reduction in power. Under the old 3.5e OGL system, a high level wizard was truly a force to be reckoned with, able to use an immense volume of powerful spells in displays of both destructive power and versatility. Under the 4e GSL, the number of wizard powers has reduced, and access to versatility is largely a function of rituals. Inside combat, though, you're limited to those handfuls of powers that are available to the class. Whether it is intentional or not, Alea Publishing's Player Options: Ancient Wizard Magic, offers a fairly neat way to enhance the character's versatility by using rituals to allow one to effectively gain an alternative power, thereby increasing the wizard's combat versatility.

Player Options: Ancient Wizard Magic is a short 18 page pdf product presenting new rules and mechanics for Ancient Magic Rituals and ancient magic in general. The product comes as a wonderfully presented pdf file, with some good, if perhaps a little suggestive, art, good writing, wonderful flavor and a bag full of new and interesting powers and mechanics. The writing and editing is top notch, as is the overall design and layout of the product. I suppose the only thing missing from the product is a summary table, something that's always a useful feature and allows one to quickly select those bits of information you're interested in. Bookmarks are also fairly limited. Overall, though, a professional effort from Alea Publishing Group.

This product introduces the concept of ancient wizard magic. Essentially magic has changed through the centuries of its use, and had become much less bonded to a particular wizard that it originally was. This bonding of magic to a wizard is the way ancient wizards used to cast their spells, and this product details how, through the use of rituals, more modern wizards can gain access to ancient magic. Ancient magic is by and large a means of using a ritual to replace an existing power with a slightly more powerful ancient wizard spell. The product provides plenty of flavor for each ritual and its associated power, along with useful and intriguing details of some powerful and respected ancient wizards.

Around forty new powers are introduced, and these cover pretty much all levels up to 30, different kinds of at-will, encounter and daily powers, as well as attack and utility powers. There's quite a lot to choose from, and while some powers fall into the rut of being very similar to other existing powers, there are some useful new rules and mechanics for these powers. One thing that can definitely be said about this product is that it brings something new to the gaming table, and something that's worthwhile looking at.

As mentioned earlier, while I'm not sure the concept was intended to be used this way, it does provide an avenue through which powers can be switched, even if only for a short while. I think that's a concept that can go a long way in the 4e GSL game, and can be played with and modified in a number of different ways to make it suit the game style of the group or the world the campaign setting is set in. This concept can go a long way beyond the use of ancient magic rituals, though the flavor there is fairly strong as well. I guess that's one of the things I liked about this product - these powers presented here don't only offer new mechanics, but also associated flavor. Having a wizard learn a new power is very different from having one learn the ancient power of a legendary wizard.

Overall, I think Ancient Wizard Magic is a splendid product. It introduces something new, creates plenty of scope for fiddling with the mechanics and expanding it, and does so with plenty of flavor and good presentation. This is one of the few products for the 4e GSL that really brings something new to the table that can be quite useful within the scope of the game. This could make rituals far more useful than they already are, and improve on the versatility of the wizard class (or other classes, should this concept be expanded). Player Options: Ancient Wizard Magic is well worth looking at for those wishing to expand the class or the influence of wizards and magic in their game. I'm really starting to like the Player Options series!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Player Options: Ancient Wizard Magic
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Dead Age Player's Guide Preview
by Ben M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2009 00:37:03
Can't wait for this to come out!
It's not your father's Gamma World without Humans!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Age Player's Guide Preview
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Dead Age Player's Guide Preview
by Mark A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2009 19:35:24
Intriguing. I'll be looking forward to this. I don't even play 4E, but this looks like a book that may even have some worthwhile things to mine even for me. I'd like to be able to see the table of contents at some point.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Age Player's Guide Preview
by Adam P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2009 12:01:46
Is it Gamma World, Rifts or something else? The concept seems fun and exciting. I am a big-time fan of the Rifts campaign setting but not the system. If this is something similar or better then that, we may have something wonderful here! It will really depend on how they develop this concept world. For now I would say I am optimistically cautious, but definitely looking forward to it.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the praise - we are working hard to make this setting truly unique, non-cliche setting of a future without humans.
Studio Companion: Dinosaurs
by Julie D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2009 12:12:56
These are images culled from public domain sources. They have been cleaned up and presented at a higher resolution than one would generally be able to find online. If you are looking for images suitable for print format, this is a good deal. If you are only interested in digital format, you can get the images free elsewhere. But really at the price no point in going through the process of cleaning the files up yourself unless you enjoy that sort of thing.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Studio Companion: Dinosaurs
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Player Options: Flaws and Merits
by Kevin Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2009 19:52:49
This is by far one of the best 3rd party resources for 4th edition. This resource introduces a small extension to the 4th edition rules that lets players choose flaws for their character in exchange for receiving an extra feat. Both the flaws and merits listed in this book are very flavorful and explore a lot of new ground not covered in the WotC's resources. These options can really help you develop your character in new ways and make him/her feel unique. Want to play an aged Wizard, a hero that is dreadfully afraid of spiders, or a proficient teacher that can bolster your parties skills? There is mechanical support for all these things in this book and more. Everything looks really well balanced, though a few have a few "loopholes" that may require DM arbitration.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Player Options: Flaws and Merits
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Dragon's Hoard Issue 1
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2009 11:28:07
This begins with a hyper-excited editorial concerning not just the arrival of Dungeons & Dragons 4e but some incoherent references to online gaming (I think referring to some of the hype from Wizards of the Coast that has yet to materialise), and saying that they'd decided to drop the Poor Gamer's Almanac in favour of a new journal. They see it as a 'newsletter with perks' with an erratic release shedule, containing upgrades of existing product to 4e, previews, playtests, maps, small adventures... a bit of whatever comes to hand or mind.

Without further ado, an update to the Noble character class, as presented in Feudal Characters: Noble; giving him some novel powers such as the ability to deliver a 'tongue lashing' - literally berating an opponent into submission (useful trick for teachers!). Next, a preview of a product called Noble Characters: Possessed, a class drawing power from a new power source, the infernal, but unlike warlock's pact magic the character can have quite a struggle keeping the demonic or devilish entity possessing them under control. Some unusual ideas there, and definitely one for those who enjoy role-playing to the full!

The next item is an exploration of noble titles, used in human circles as both rank and reward. It's intended to provoke thought in the hope of receiving feedback for future products - with such matters being important in their Feudal Lords campaign setting, it's vital to ensure that they work mechanically within the context of the game. While these noble titles - closely based on the British system, even to the proposed design for coronets! - are humanocentric, the next article covers the Ancestral Knight, a path that can be followed by eladrin or dwarven warlords; while those of evil aspect may prefer the Dark Champion instead. Good paladins can try the Knight of Dawn, dedicated to the destruction of 'foul nocturnal creatures' as they believe only the righteous can walk in the daylight.

For those who wonder what this feudalism is all about, there's a piece on Feudal Obligations - true feudalism consists of a network of obligations in both directions, each individual owing loyalty and service to his lords but having a duty of care to those inferior to him that is just as important. Putting some rules behind these obligations a sample house that you might wish to take service in is presented, along with the requirements and benefits of so doing. Finally, a couple of rather small maps of Caldor, a city that features in their campaign world, are given.

Whle a bit fragmented, and of use mainly to those using the Feudal Lords campaign setting with its structured feudal system, it is an interesting first issue. Wonder when the next one will be out?

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon's Hoard Issue 1
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Player Options: Flaws and Merits
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2009 10:37:39
Player Options: Flaws and Merits is a 16 page pdf product from Alea Publishing Group by author Joshua Raynack. This product provides elegant mechanics for giving your player characters certain flaws and merits, thereby combining roleplaying and mechanics in a useful little system for enhancing your player character's options. This product is stand-alone and self-contained, and is written for the 4e GSL system.

Player Options: Flaws and Merits comes as a neatly presented pdf file. The cover illustration is good, though perhaps not entirely related to the product content. No bookmarks or a table of contents are included, but it should still be fairly easy to navigate the pdf. The interior of the pdf contains some striking and impressive art by artists N.C.Wyeth, Sade and Joshua Raynack. Of the 16 pages of the pdf, 14 are devoted to content, offering good value for money. Writing and editing is good, and the new mechanics are well defined and well described. Flaw and merit descriptions are straight to the point and easy to understand. Layout is also very impressive. Overall, this pdf shows all the characteristics of a professional product and indeed it is.

I'm generally a fan of combining the mechanics of the game and roleplaying characteristics all in one. It has, of course, its up and down sides. On the up side, it gives you a neat system of roleplaying your character within certain clearly defined rules, and those rules have a certain in-game impact. On the down side, this kind of thing is often quite stringent, and doesn't provide a lot of flexibility in escaping the rules. That depends on how a system is written, of course, but most I've seen through the years in different gaming system don't escape this very well. Characters by their very nature change their persona as time goes by - you can hardly expect that 1st level novice to be the same as the 30th level god-killing champion.

Which brings me to Player Options: Flaws and Merits. This product details a flaws and merits system which is essentially based on the feat system. Whenever you would gain a feat, you can take a flaw (to a maximum of 2) and given the nature of flaws, you can also take either a feat to offset the flaw or a merit, which is essentially a special kind of feat. The system balances itself very well, offering roleplaying opportunities in both flaws and merits as well as good mechanical balance. The system is designed to offer flaws and merits to specific character roles - so a striker will have different flaws and merits to a controller, for example. There's impressive variety here, which means you can place mechanical emphasis on pretty much any character roleplaying trait.

I think for the most part this system works well. Unlike other systems that are largely on or off, this system has an additional mechanic called 'going against the grain'. Essentially it means you can choose not to suffer from your flaw should you choose to do so. In this way, the mechanics effectively allow you unlimited roleplaying freedom when it comes from your flaw. Does your nervous character want to show some backbone - it's possible every once in a while where your roleplaying dictates it. With 52 flaws and 28 merits to choose from, you gave great flexibility in designing a character, working through the flaws, and even overcoming them. This was the only part of the system I didn't agree with - when you overcome the flaw you also lose the associated feat or merit. I would've thought that if you'd gained a skill, you would be able to keep it. Just because you overcome sort of phobia it doesn't mean you forget to do something like be a natural leader of a fast healer.

The last few pages of the pdf are devoted to providing flaw and merit combinations for all character classes, which provides a very useful framework starting point for using this product. Overall, I think this is a welcome product for the 4e GSL system. Now that the product for the 4e GSL are moving away from races and monsters, publishers are starting to fiddle and add to the rules with new and useful additions. Flaws and Merits will make a good addition to your game, and it will certainly encourage roleplaying. It's a very well presented pdf, with good and useful material that's well worth a look at.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Player Options: Flaws and Merits
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Player Options: Flaws and Merits
by Naomi B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/01/2009 16:45:45
Anyone familiar with the GURP system will recognise this idea but I think that it is a better format here. In GURPS you get enough disadvantages to buy the advantages you want. Not with this format. Pick a flaw and then you can have a merit that affects your attitude or behaviour. The lists are arranged in controller, defender, striker, leader or general order. At the end are suggested lists in character order. The suggested scenarios show how these can make the game more interesting and characters more fun to play. Or use it as a jump start to making up your own flaws or merits. Either way you can add so much more depth to the game and your character.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurer's Guide to Cthonia
by David H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2009 00:50:35
I have always enjoyed this original campaign setting. The two authors have spent a lot of time and effort to not only make it a 'fun game' but to also incorporate a lot of historical material. Yes, it is still a fantasy game; but I think anyone who enjoys history, especially of the medieval era will enjoy this setting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurer's Guide to Cthonia
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Feudal Characters: Noble
by David H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2009 00:43:52
Having used this product in the game I am playing in; I can honestly say good job to the Alea Publishing Group and it's authors, Cameron and Josh. I agree that while not all the powers mesh 100% with each other or a real game, it's a well written and useful multiclass.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feudal Characters: Noble
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