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1 on 1 Adventures #2: The Star of Olindor
by Paul R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2006 00:00:00
I'd like to able to fil this box in without having to put anything in this coment 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: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
1 on 1 Adventures #2: The Star of Olindor
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Seeds: Supers II
by John T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/07/2006 00:00:00
I was very disapppointed with this copy of Seeds. In my opinion the majority of the plot seeds are difficult to integrate into an existing campaign. Many of them rely on other super teams, deaths of superheroes, etc. I only found a couple of seed that I liked.


LIKED: There are a couple of seeds that I could use.

DISLIKED: Many of the seeds are not easy to integrate into existing campaigns.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Supers II
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Monster Geographica: Underground
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/31/2006 00:00:00
Monster Geographica Underground (MGU) is a PDF by Expeditious Retreat. They are best known for their PDF/Book a Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe. As with that they break new ground by offering a new type of monster book. MGU focuses on creatures that can be found underground and while this is not anything new in itself (see Monster of the Endless Dark for example), this is compilation of previously released monsters. About half of the monsters had yet to be updated to 3.5 before this volume. All the monsters have been edited to make sure that they are done properly and all the little errors are nonexistent. The book offers two hundred monsters in this 200 pages of text. And its all text as to conserve on space and price no art except the cover appears in the PDF.

The PDF comes in a zip file a little under five megs in size. Inside are three different PDFs. The first is the cover done in full color and by Ravindra Rana. The other two are the bulk of the book one in designed for on the screen and the other designed to be printed. One of the highlights for me is the book marks. This is possible the most concise book marking I have seen. One of the great things they did was have the monsters listed three ways in the book marks. They are listed by challenge rating, alphabetically, and by creature type. That is a great way to make sure the creatures can be found with ease. However, there is no art. As I said they did not include art for cost and size reasons. I can understand that, but monsters are nice to have pictures of. It is just easier to envision some of these creatures using a picture then the written descriptions.

There are two hundred creatures here. I am not sure exactly how many monsters are found in the other monster books, but two hundred does sound like a good amount. They range in challenge rating from one fourth to twenty. Creature types are also very varied. One really good thing that they include is flora and fauna. These are a great addition for people who want exotic but not always deadly plants to enhance their world.

MGU is a very good monster book. The stats of the creatures were specifically all checked and redone when necessary to ensure accuracy. The two hundred monsters that come from a few dozen different sources brings together the creatures one needs to populate the underground.


QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Geographica: Underground
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World Building Library: The Prince
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2006 00:00:00
A great resource from the public domain for any DM who needs to run a convincing mediaeval warlord, together with a very useful introduction from the original translator.

As for XRP's work, the layout is clean, perhaps a little cramped, with the introduction and text butting up on the same page. It's bookmarked, but only by chapter numbers - the chapter titles would have been of great help. The PDF includes a number of period illustrations that could have been better chosen (for example, a map of classical Greece would have helped where Machiavelli talks about Greece, rather than a map of Italy, or a portrait of Giovanni or Lorenzo de'Medici would have been more interesting in the introduction). 4 1/2 stars for the idea of the series, 3 stars for presentation.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
World Building Library: The Prince
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A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
by Jacob S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2006 00:00:00
A Magical Medieval Society has been thoroughly reviewed, so I'll just add some comments that I think are not covered as much. The writing is quite good (easy to read and understand) and the editing is pretty good (some misspelled words and rough subsection placement), and the ideas it contains are well-reasoned. This puts a lot of knowledge about how medieval society functioned at your fingertips without you having to do nearly as much research. It's geared specifically towards integrating medieval societies more completely (and realistically) into the game, which I think provides a much better roleplaying experience. It also has instructions for generating aspects of medieval society that are often too complex for a DM to handle. What more could you ask for?

For one thing, better inclusion of magic. The discussion about how magic affects society are good, but as one of the focal points of the book they could be much better. Most information about how magic affects society is presented as ideas without enough incorporation into the instructions on how to generate manors, towns, etc. Also, the information is based strictly on the presentation of magic in the core rulebooks, which are geared towards adventurers, not society at large. It should be obvious that arcane spellcasters who are not adventurers would have a very different spell selection, geared toward accomplishing the hardest and most common tasks. These spells could easily be specialized in a way that makes them more powerful than the utility spells listed in the core rulebooks, although they'd mostly be useless to adventurers. For example, it is mentioned that the spell Mage Hand can help someone sow seeds twice as fast. However, one would expect that a spell caster would eventually develop a spell specialized for sowing (or harvesting) crops which could accomplish much more than Mage Hand, so the effect on society is larger than what comes from spells in the core rulebooks. In fact, it's possible and even likely that a spellcaster who does not go on adventures has a spell repertoire that is almost completely different from a PC wizard, other than ubiquitous spells such as Read Magic.

The problem the authors faced with assuming lots of spells that aren't in the core rulebooks is anticipating their effect on society. Actually, that's not too hard. Spells are most likely developed to accomplish the most labor intensive and unpleasant tasks. Which ones are those? Other than a few mentioned anecdotally (e.g. cleaning and harvesting), this information is not in the book. I don't think it would have been too difficult to research, especially given the depth of research which the rest of the book displays. One hint is the list of professions and their incidence rate. The fact that porter is one of the most common professions indicates that carrying things requires lots of labor -- there's probably spell casters in large cities that have spells specialized to help carry things. How does that affect society?

That said, the quality of this book is generally excellent and sufficient to allow any DM to simulate a realistically-feeling medieval society.


LIKED: Great material, reasoning, and presentation.

DISLIKED: Could have had better integration of magic into society.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
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Seeds: Fantasy II
by Callan T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/07/2006 00:00:00
Fantasy Seeds II contains about 36 adventure seeds, each about four to six sentences in length. Each seed sets up a situation that could act as the start of an adventure, though they hardly qualify as adventure ideas in themselves. None of these seeds is well developed and they are not linked in any way.

There is nothing here that is particularly original and anyone who has played D&D at all will have seen it all before. It seems unkind to criticize such an inexpensive product but I can't really recommend it to anyone except perhaps very inexperienced DM who is new to D&D and has trouble coming up with any ideas on his own.


LIKED: Inexpensive

DISLIKED: Filled with trite ideas that lead nowhere

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Fantasy II
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Publisher Reply:
Seeds Fantasy II contains material consistant with the free demo Seeds Fantasy I. If you enjoy Seeds Fantasy I you will also find this product enjoyable. If you don't find Seeds Fantasy I enjoyable you won't find the rest of the Seeds Fantasy line to your tastes as well.
A Magical Society: Beast Builder
by Hardy L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2006 00:00:00
This seems like a great tool-set, but it is not something you can go into lightly. So be prepared to read a lot of the material before you can use it.


LIKED: It's powerful utility in the creation of monsters

DISLIKED: It has a slightly painful learning curve.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Beast Builder
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A Magical Society Aggressive Ecology: The Undead Leviathan
by Derek H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2006 00:00:00
Once again Joseph Browning works his magic and comes up with an amazingly useful product. Though it is much more limited in scope than Beast Builder, it gets as much attention to detail for both science and fantasy.

As for the example organisms- an undead whale that has 3 stages of existance (one being just dead) and 4 living or undead symbiotes- all are very well concieved and written up, though some may not like the idea of a flying undead whale. The concept alone is useful and can be adapted to non-whale creatures.

I can't wait to see what are next in the line.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society Aggressive Ecology: The Undead Leviathan
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A Magical Society: Beast Builder
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/30/2006 00:00:00
Beast Builder

It sometimes seems odd that with all the monster books out there has never been a good source for creating one?s own monsters. Sure there are a lot of great monsters but every now and again I just can not find one that fits exactly what I need. Most of them time I will find something as close as I can and maybe alter it. But it just never seems as right as when creating them from scratch. But doing that can be time consuming and it can also be easy to forget stuff. And that brings us to spring. It seems that spring not only brings in the nice weather, picnic lunches, and lots of pollen; but it brings along with it the new Magical Society book from Expeditious Retreat. This is the third year in a row we have gotten a book in the springtime and this marks the third book in the series.

Magical Society Beast Builder is the new and anticipated book by Expeditious Retreat. They have the other two books in the series; Magical Medieval Society Western Europe, and Ecology and Culture. Both of those are top notch books well research and well put together. Beast Builder is out as a PDF right now but will be in print ins a few months or so. The two hundred nad twenty five page book is filled with information. It has a three page table of contents and some very nice book marks. I hope the print version also gets an index as there is none here. The art is good but there is not a lot of it there. The book is black and white with some nice borders so it will not be that big a deal to print out.

The book is filled with a lot of information and might to some have too much information in it. For me though too much is better then too little. I might not need to know what the food supply of the creature the player characters are just supposed to kill is, but other times with a druid and range er in the party knowing about the local food webs and how it all works can create some very interesting and different sorts of adventures. There are little adventures ideas in here with how to use monsters and creatures in different ways. Many are not overly obvious and require one to think outside the box. It is not every book that presents a way to send the player characters into an environment to fix a food web that is out of whack for the local druids.

The first couple chapters deal with some good if sometimes not that useful monster information. This book is constructed to give you full information on all aspects of the creatures and in Dungeons and Dragons that is not always needed. The book starts with a nice introduction and goes into creature concepts and function. This is a nice section for people who might not know exactly what they want to create. Next it goes into the food chains and the food webs. It has some great information for what the monster will eat and how it interacts with its environment. It has some great information on magical eco systems and magical metabolisms. Fantastic creatures can be difficult to fit into nature but this book does a good job of saying how it can happen. I like the bit on what the creature eats and what eats the creature. What the creature does in terms of defense, reproduction, digestive, and many other traits are looked into as well. This will really allow for a creature to be created in a way that makes it almost alive. These details help make the environment more real and to have the beasts react in a way that might seem a little more realistic. The book has good sentimental information so one can determine where the beast place for the creature to live, roam, and hunt is. It covers tundra, grasslands, forests, desert and scrublands, rivers and lakes, swamps and marshes, coastline oceans and islands, underground environments, and mountains. The only area I think is missing is creatures that live only in the air and never come near the ground. I think that would be an interesting environment if a difficult one to describe. How the creature interacts with other creatures is next and it is followed up by evolution and intelligence. This is a great chapter filled with ideas and details that make it easy to create a creature even if one has little idea where to begin.

The next chapter should really be known as the John Cooper Chapter; it is all about the stat blocks. For those that may not know John Cooper is on of the reviewers here and is well known for deconstructing stat blocks in books and checking them to make sure they are all correctly done. There is a lot of information here but the two most important pieces I find are under the Challenge Rating and Level Adjustment. The best way to figure both of these out is to play test them. Creatures need to be play tested to see how they actually stand up to different levels of opponents. It seems at times that monsters do not get to be play tested enough. This whole section is really good and should really allow people who may feel uncomfortable creating the stat blocks for new creatures the confidence and knowledge they need to do so.

The book moves on to types and subtypes next. Everything is listed here and given skill points, feats, hit dice and all the other fun information that gets tied to the creature types. Then it goes into special abilities and conditions. This is a complete list of every special ability and condition that exists in the system reference document and in Monster Geographica Underground. And in all instances except for the extremely common ones like low light vision, each monster that uses the ability is listed. This is a fabulous resource for finding monsters. I want someone who can detect Gems. So, looking that up I find only the Gold Dragon can do that. I was actually expecting a few more then that for some reason, but gold dragons will work. Next, I look under sneak attack and see that there area few creatures this time: Babau and Derro from the SRD and Cave Hermit, Gutslug, Leytru, Silid, and Slithe from Monster Geographica Underground.

The book has a great appendix checklist that helps one check over his own work . There is an appendix with some d20 mechanics in it, but my favorite appendix is the random monster generator. This is the perfect way to just start getting the creative juices flowing and come up with something that no one has ever seen before. Just rolling and combining everything might not be the best thing so a person may need to alter some of the rolls to something that makes a little more sense to them.

This is a pretty darn useful book. I think it would be interesting to see someone create a PDF of monsters using this as their resource. The book has everything one needs to create a monster or fifty. This book is really something that anyone who want to create some new and different monsters for their campaign really needs.



LIKED: Well organized and useful

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Beast Builder
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World Building Library: Items of Myth and Legend: India
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/25/2006 00:00:00
Items of Myth and Legend India

This is one of those nice deals where a company I really like ends up covering a topic I really want to see covered. It is a rare occurrence since real world inspired d20 products are pretty rare in the market these days. Avalanche Press did some but their covers were highly criticized. Green Ronin has done some great works but it seems they just did not appeal to fans. RPGObjects has also done some nice ones that I have been enjoying greatly. This review of course covers Expeditious Retreat?s covering of the topics.

Items of Myth and Legend: India is the first of series of PDFs by Expeditious Retreat. This PDF is only seven pages and that for me is the biggest downside. But lucky there are many other PDFs of this topic coming out. The PDF is nicely book marked and laid out. There is some color art and borders in the PDF so printing it can eat some ink but the product is small so it is not too bad.

The book describes nine items out of India?s myth and gods. Most of the items are written with different power levels. There is the powerful version as if it was wielded by a god or great hero. There is a lesser version that is more appropriate for a god?s Avatar. And the lest version that is more along the lines of what most high level PCs would be able to make or use. The different power levels for the weapons are a really good idea. It will make it really easy for a DM to use the right one for their campaign.

The individual items are nicely described but there is some knowledge the reader should have like who these gods are. There is some very brief information on them when objects they have are defined but these just are not going to be enough. Hopefully this bit of information will come out in future PDFs and in talking to Joseph Browning a PDF on the gods should be out later this year hopefully. Obviously things like this are prone to change but hopefully it will be.

The book also has a a new weapon and two new weapon properties in it. The weapon is the Chakram made famous by Xena Warrior Princess. For those not familiar with the weapon it is a bladed circle of metal designed to be thrown. The two weapon properties are both epic in nature having a market price of +6 each. They are basically the same thing only one is fire and the other is sonic in nature. They do additional damage of that type on a hit and even more on a critical.

This is a nice PDF for someone looking for artifacts and items from the myths and legends of India. It does not quite give enough info so some people not really familiar with the gods and places might need to do a little research in these things. The items though are well done and are going to be useful for someone looking for India inspired items.




LIKED: different power levels of items

DISLIKED: not enough info on gods and places referenced in the items

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World Building Library: Items of Myth and Legend: India
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Seeds Compilation: Fantasy I-V
by Arthur J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/05/2006 00:00:00
GREAT stuff. Just what the DM ordered. Sometimes all you need is a little seed to grow a great tree. This product really delivers.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds Compilation: Fantasy I-V
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Seeds Compilation: Modern I-V
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2005 00:00:00
Good compilation, seeds range from one-liners to well-thought-out adventure ideas.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds Compilation: Modern I-V
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A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
by Craig M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2005 00:00:00
Absolutely one of the best products (pdf or otherwise) that I have purchased in the last few years. If you are looking for an informative, consistent medieval take on a fantasy world, then this is the product for you.


LIKED: Everything

DISLIKED: Nothing

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
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Monster Geographica: Forest
by lior s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2005 00:00:00
superb product. Already used it for a forest ambush in my Eberron campaign


LIKED: very clear, very well organized. It was easy to pick a monster that suited me. I copied the stats over to my adventure document which I printed out very easily

DISLIKED: I would like art but know that's hard. I would appreciate longer descriptive texts

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Geographica: Forest
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Seeds: Sci-Fi IV
by Michael D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2005 00:00:00
A bit weak for my purposes. Many of the seeds offered seem more like pitches for sci-fi short stories or campaign settings than inter-relatable adventure hooks. Too many caused me to think, well, that's an unusual world to grow up in, but what do my players have to do about it? This flaw is shared by Sci-Fi Seeds I through III.


LIKED: I did find one I could adapt to my campaign, so I got some use out of this product.

DISLIKED: Tone is uneven. Near-future cerebral SF ideas like memory implantation as a way of childrearing are jammed up aginst kooky stuff like vampires from the edge of the universe.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Sci-Fi IV
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