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Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom
by Christopher B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/20/2006 00:00:00
From the design and layout right down to the story and creatures, "Pod-Caverns" resurrected those long-since-dead days of my youth, when playing the game was more about enjoying the adventure (Kill the evil monsters, take their stuff!) and less about munckin-izing your character.

For those who like "old school" D&D, this product is a "must have," but even if you're not an old school gamer, this adventure's worth the price of admission.


LIKED: Everything, but especially the way it seamlessly integrates old school gaming with "new school" sensibility.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom
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A Magical Society: Silk Road
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2006 00:00:00
Silk Road

The Silk Road brings upon great images of adventure into the unknown and with new and possible exotic civilizations. I like the adventure and campaigns the imagery of the Silk Road brings up. A mercantile campaign of exploration and diplomacy can be a very different style from what I see as a normal D&D campaign.

A Magical Society: Silk Road is the latest book in the series by Expeditious Retreat Press. This one is written by Suzi Yee. The book comes in print as well as PDF like most of their products. The book is about a hundred and sixty pages long with a nice standard lay out and art. The PDF version is very well book marked. It does lack an index and a book filled with information like this one can really benefit from one.

This book reads a little better then the others in the series because of the tighter focus in the subject. There are editing errors in the book, but not enough to cause me any confusion or really even bother me that much. The gamers though that are more annoyed by this sort of thing will of course hold it as a much larger flaw then I do.

The book does a very thorough covering into what goes with a large overland trade route like the Silk Road. The first two chapters go into that very well. I especially like the emphasis on cultures and how geography can really influence how they develop and differ. There are good design notes that will help one to create their own overland trade route in most campaign worlds. I say most because the father away from an Earth like setting and assumptions the tougher it is to group all settings together. The book has a lot of nice ways for complicating overland travel. One of the themes that runs through the book is the importance and danger of the journey. This can really help out in campaigns that want to have that type of focus without worrying about the overall Silk Road topic.

Any overland travel that deals with merchants and their many goods for trade will involve a caravan. The book deals with caravans going through four of the more extreme environments. Traveling through a desert is going to have a lot different feel and dangers then traveling through High Altitudes, Swamps, or even the Underground. These sections deal with the different environments very well. They cover the many different hazards, types of animals a caravan would use both real and fantastic as well covering the landscape and what exactly each environment is. This section like the last will also be useful for DMs that are just setting a campaign or just and adventure in that area. It will offer additional problems for even a normal adventuring party and help bring the environment to life.

The book covers trade items trade systems like no other product I have seen. The economy of the D&D game has never been a strong point and while this will not fix this it does help make it a little more realistic. The book has a very complete list of trade goods. This type of detail might be a little alien to some players but I like the idea of instead of placing coin in a treasure the players find to have them find tobacco or other items that can be worth good money but make the players work at it and involve them in new directions for the campaign.

The book does a very nice job of condensing the historical Silk Road and it makes a great example people can borrow from and read over to see how it all fits together. It also brings up a bit of a issue some can have with the book. It has more of a real world approach then a magical world one. It is not devoid of magic or the fantastic but it does seem to be a lower assumption of magic then the core rules presents. For instance I would have enjoyed reading about the different core races and their own unique approaches to some thing like a Silk Road.

I want to make a special mention of Section 15 of the OGL in this book. That is the part that lists other books used and built on. I was shocked to see a list of dozens of books there. Silk road was a very smooth read and I did not imagine that so many resources were used here. I am impressed by that a whole lot.

Silk Road is the type of book that has a very strong focus and on the surface seems like it will have limited use. However, the different sections each have information a creative DM can use in their normal campaign to enhance it in unique ways. Of course for me using the book all together to develop a single campaign involving the Silk Road will be the highlight of the book. There is a lot of adventure ideas and creativity for something different hidden in the pages of this book.



LIKED: It covers a topic that has been mostly ignored in the game. And it does it very well.

DISLIKED: THere are some editing gaffs and I would have liked additional info dealing with a more magical approach.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Silk Road
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A Magical Society: Silk Road
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/23/2006 00:00:00
Absolutely enjoyable and helpful.
Recommended for any large scale campaign.


LIKED: The historical background, the associated tables and the underground caravan materials (actually the swamp caravans were fun as well).

DISLIKED: not much.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom
by Johnny H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/18/2006 00:00:00
Having known about the OSRIC project, and having kept up with it's progress via discussion on the Dragonsfoot forums, I was interested to take a look ath the Pod Caverns module and see how Expeditious Retreat Press had handled the first release done under the OSRIC umbrella.

I downloaded this product with the hopes of actually converting it to the Castles & Crusades system for a play-by-email campaign I am about to start for my gaming group (as opposed to using it for with the 1st Edition rules a lot of us grew up playing). However, after reading through the module tonight, I will probably be using the original game.

I got such a nostalgic feeling when I saw the font, and read the text of the module, that it actually pulled me back to those summers where AD&D was king, and the only game we played...and play it we did, for countless summer hours.

I really enjoyed reading through the module, and feel that it does an excellent job of capturing the feeling of those early modules created for the AD&D game.





LIKED: The old-school look of the font and imagery. The actual setting of the module and way it was written to get the characters into the adventure with no muss and fuss...It's a cavern waiting to be explored without a lot of extraneous background. It's up to the Dungeon Master to fill in the background of his campaign, not this module.

DISLIKED: I don't enjoy buying PDF products. I wanted the print version, but it's not available yet....so about the only thing I didn't like was the fact that I will be buying this module twice...the PDF and the print copy. What can I say, I like it that much.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom
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A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
by Benoit B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2006 00:00:00
Nothing more should be said on this excellent product. It is a must-have for any serious DM running "verisimilitude" medieval campaigns.


LIKED: There is as much deeply descriptive text as there are tables and practical rules to implement the background information. City layout, economic simulation, estate production yields and financial benefits, can be neatly and easily computed using the methods provided in the book.

DISLIKED: The influence point system to define the influence centers in a city is not so well explained and does not seem completely self-consistent. However you can easily work yourself around this flaw.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
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Seeds: Sci-Fi
by Matthew F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2006 00:00:00
Great idea, good concept.
More than just ideas for RPGs... ideas for short stories and novels and stuff. Multifunctinoal goodness!

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Sci-Fi
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Seeds: Sci-Fi II
by Matthew F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2006 00:00:00
Very handy. Its good to see that anyone can contribute almost anything.

Also try randomly picking three or four, and have them as seperate plots in stories... teh challenge being to intertwine them.



QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Sci-Fi II
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Seeds: Sci-Fi III
by Matthew F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2006 00:00:00
Short sharp and shiny. Helpful with one off adventures, side missions and also for story fan/fic writing. Very useful.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Sci-Fi III
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Seeds Compilation: Supers I-V
by Richard F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2006 00:00:00
This is nice set of ideas for any superhero style game. I found that the first few ideas spurred my imagination into gear and come up a few different directions for them. I would recommend this to anyone that need a bit of inspiration for your adventures.

DISLIKED: Would have liked a portrait version for the print out, not a landscape version with no borders.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds Compilation: Supers I-V
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A Magical Society: Beast Builder
by Robert M. J. Date Added: 06/28/2006 13:24:29
Going into this book I was wondering if it had what I, as a 30 vet of D&D, would want in a monster creation type tome.

Well, I was happliy suprised by how indepth it really goes. Mind you if your not into learning game mechanics your going to find it a very long and pretty dull read but they also warn you as the reader of this fact and they are right.

The mechanics discused in this book are very indepth and comprehensive. It deals with ground up creation of monsters in all settings and lists LOTS of verried options for any level of diffeculty and experience.

They also put a random monster generator appendix in the back of the book consisting of many charts.

I think the only thing I may say is a draw back of this system is the math you have to do to calculate DC for the creatures you create. It's something Enistine might enjoy looking at.

Over all a great book and one of the most worthwhile RPG suppliments I have bought in a long time!

Great work Expeditious Retreat Press!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Beast Builder
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A Magical Society: Beast Builder
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2006 00:00:00
A Magical Society: Beast Builder is one of my favorite d20 books. It?s easily one of the three or so best PDF products that I own. While it might not be for everyone, it does what it sets out to do with absolutely flying colors.

Never in the history of gaming has it been so easy to self-publish an RPG supplement. The portability of the PDF format combined with the openness of the d20 license allows designers of expand on a lot of niche products. The end result is some great products that boldly go in directions that Wizards of the Coast doesn?t have the interest or the pagecount to explore. Things that were once esoteric in D&D are now open to the masses.

MS: Beast Builder is a book devoted to one thing: d20 monster design. The authors have done a great job reverse-engineering the how and why of d20 monsters and compiling everything into one easy to use resource. Monster design can often involve flipping through multiple books, cross-referencing creature special abilities, and comparing and contrasting stats. With all the nuance and detail in third edition, its easy to make mistakes when making new monsters, a truism that even Wizards of the Coast have trouble escaping.

Expeditious Retreat Press has taken all of the guesswork out of monster design. MS: Beast Builder compiles all the rules relevant to creature creation into one source. Need to rate a new animal?s natural AC? Simply find its hide (or scales, or whatever) on the Estimating Natural Armor chart. Need the list of skill synergy bonuses? It?s right here on page 76.

In addition to the raw data, MS: Beast Builder gives plenty of advice. Each statistic (base attack bonus, types of attacks, saves) is explained with game mechanics, advice on how the stat might affect Challenge Rating, and examples from the core rules. Rules that I often need to look up during monster design are explained here as well. For example, what happens when a creature with natural weapons also wields a sword? MS: Beast Builder gives you a clear, easy to find explanation of the rules. Even ?non-crunchy? bits like name and concept get some attention. There is advice on making your creatures unique, various roles that monsters fill in the context of the game, and plenty of examples from the core rules.

The book also contains a number of appendices with useful charts, checklists, and a random monster generation system. Its pretty good stuff. I find the monster creation checklist is particularly useful for helping me avoid common mistakes in my work.

While the brunt of this book is concerned with the nuts and bolts of monster design, the first 50 odd pages are devoted to the ecology and environment of animals in the real world and how these things translate into the reality of the d20 system. The book contains a fairly in-depth primer on how ecosystems work and why animals evolve the way they do.

This section is full of examples of real world creatures whose strange abilities and characteristics would fit right in with the monsters in a typical fantasy campaign. Anyone looking to develop somewhat more realistic creatures, or at least design monsters that give a nod to a realistic ecology will find this section useful. It?s well-written, informative, and a pretty entertaining read.


LIKED: This book has saved me a great deal of time and helped me eliminate a lot of small errors when designing monsters. The stats are spot on, the organization is good, and the advice is very useful.

If you?re designing a lot of monsters, and you want to do things right, I can?t recommend this product enough.

DISLIKED: Magical Society: Beast Builder is a niche product. If you aren?t interested in monster design, or you prefer to trade technical accuracy for speed, this probably isn?t the book for you.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Ecology and Culture
by william e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2006 00:00:00
I bought this book a while ago, and had not ahd a chance to use or read it for a while. I REALLY wish I had read it right off the bat, as it is an invaluable resource for any GM, or even an aspiring writter building his own world.
As with any Exped. Retreat product, it is very well laid out, and even more well thought out. One of the most excellent tools you can purchase.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Ecology and Culture
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A Magical Society: Silk Road
by Anna D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2006 00:00:00
Another excellent product by Expeditious Retreat. Just in time too, since I'm working on something that includes caravans and caravan routes.




LIKED: Good information on caravans and what they carry.

DISLIKED: Nothing to dislike.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Silk Road
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World Building Library: Fantasy Racial Foods
by Jeff T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2006 00:00:00
An interesting read for a few minutes. I printed this off and read it while waiting for the dentist in his office (no joke). It gives the reader a few decent ideas, but is not much more than a typical article you would find in a magazine. I'm glad it wasn't expensive


LIKED: The comparison of racial foods to modern day ethnic foods

DISLIKED: Could have used many more examples of foods and meals. I would have like charts that I could use to determine meals.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World Building Library: Fantasy Racial Foods
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1 on 1 Adventures #1: Gambler's Quest
by Paul R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2006 00:00:00
I'd like to able to fill this box in without having to put anything in this comment box, alas I cannot- I apologise but I've not got a lot of free time and yet I want to rate the products.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
1 on 1 Adventures #1: Gambler's Quest
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