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10 Taskshaper Feats
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/28/2012 14:12:48
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19787.

When new base classes are developed and introduced they are often left to fend for themselves. They tend to receive little support in the way of magic items and feats. For fans of the utilitarian Taskshaper class, never fear; Steven D. Russell and the folks over at Rite Publishing have not abandoned the Taskshaper, and even show this fledgling class some love with 10 Taskshaper Feats.

OVERALL

I applaud Rite Publishing and Steven D. Russell for stepping up as the Taskshapers baby daddy. As previously mentioned, people tend to abandon their creations to whither. As a player who enjoys playing unusual classes, I always get giddy when products like this are released. I have been forced to develop my own feats for under-supported classes in the past and having the actual developer of the class produce something like this is a godsend.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Instead of their normal faux brown leather cover style, Rite went with a green-hued faux leather cover, which actually works really well with the green and black cover art. The picture goes well enough with the content. One of the hallmarks of the Taskshaper is the ability to change into a dragon form. This drawing gives the reader a sense of transformation but the end creature depicted is an eagle, not a dragon. Based on the unusual qualities of the Taskshaper I can see where finding stock art to depict the class would be difficult. I would have recommended original art for this product, but I’m satisfied with the art they chose and the use of green and black instead of black and white was different and appreciated. The feat write-ups were well-done and in familiar formats. Rite used it’s sepia lion border which always works well. I would have love to see the Taskshaper class written up in the product or a small introductory write-up on the first page, call me old fashioned, I like a little fore-play.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
This is Rite Publishing, what do you expect? Rite thinks before they publish when it comes to mechanics. Their products are well-thought out and while they can get complicated at times, they always provide an outstanding payoff. The Taskshaper is a paperwork intensive class and the addition of these feats will add to that paperwork. The good news is that because the amount of feats a character gets is limited, each and every one feels like they are worth taking. I always fret over which feats to take and all of these would interest me if I was playing a Taskshaper.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
If you are playing a Taskshaper or if you are a GM who is running a Taskshaper NPC these feats are golden. If there are no Taskshapers in your game or in the foreseeable future, then this product has limited use for you. Some of the feats can be tweaked for other shape-changing classes.

Overall: 10 out of 10
My only real problem with this product is its length. All three pages that contain the write-ups for the feats are well-done, but this should be an erratum to the Taskmaster class write-up as opposed to a stand-alone product or like other Rite Publishing products, could have been included in another supplement. However, at a cost of 10 cents (US) per feat how can you go wrong? Rite Publishing, thanks for being a responsible parent and looking after your intellectual children.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Taskshaper Feats
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101 Not So Simple Monster Templates (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/27/2012 14:52:38
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19633.

Templates are nothing new, but they are often spread throughout multiple books, slowing down games and wasting valuable table time. 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates takes monster templates that Rite Publishing has included on many of their products and consolidates them into one book.

OVERALL

In a day and age when players have learned to min/max their characters and have no fear of things like orcs and goblins, it is good to see a product that gives Game Masters a chance to beef up lower challenge rating creatures or gimp out creatures that might be a perfect fit for the story but overpowered for the adventuring party.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Rite Publishing has done a good job of mixing color and black and white art into 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates. I have to give them props for selecting art that is more in-tune with the text they are presenting. The addition of captions or titles that describe is a clever way to make sure that some of the stock or public domain art is useable. There is a quick reference chart that lists each of the template’s names and their challenge rating adjustment. Charts like this are a must to ensure that a product with this much information is table-friendly for players and GMs. The templates are in alphabetical order, which works. To improve the usefulness of the well-done chart, I would recommend including a page number behind the challenge rating adjustment number, to make things that much quicker to find. The chart works at the back of the book, but I would be interested to see it at the front of the book where it could be an index/quick reference chart. These are minor points that should not overshadow a well-set up supplement.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Some of these templates still feel over-powered, but they are all done well. 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates mechanically gives GMs a huge amount of flexibility in how they create monsters to face adventuring parties. Throw a few of these templates on your everyday kobold and you could achieve a total party kill on a 3rd or 4th level adventuring party. Some of the templates include quick rules and most give rebuild rules. This is important especially if a monster acquires one of these templates later in its career. The addition of challenge rating adjustments that subtract from a creature’s challenge rating adjustment is almost as valuable as the challenge rating adjustment on the positive side. Most of the negative challenge ratings involve the loss of a limb or sense, but mechanically they could easily be applied for a player character that gets their arm or leg hacked off, gnawed off, burnt off or dissolved during an adventure.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
There are a boat load of templates in this book. Some are very specialized while others could be used in most situations. Adding these templates to creatures that face adventuring parties will create a variety and add a feeling that these monsters are not just stat bags and treasure generators. Some of these templates would be interesting on player characters. This book should be in every GMs toolkit.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Templates, if used correctly, can add so many dimensions to a game. Rite Publishing is getting better and better with every product they produce and 101 Not So Simple Monster Templates is an example of a supplement that is useful, good-looking and thoughtfully executed. There are some truly inspired templates in this book that I doubt you will see anywhere else.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Not So Simple Monster Templates (PFRPG)
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So What's That Shiny Thing Like, Anyway?
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/26/2012 21:00:50
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19570.

In this continuation of the ongoing Raging Swan Press series of ‘So What’ supplements, author Richard Green provides a collection of ready references for GMs to utilize for inspiration–this time making what might ordinarily be mundane gems and goods a more interesting and flavorful find. Whether put on the spot unexpectedly or pondered up during prep, So What’s That Shiny Thing, Anyway? sets out to add spice to a session’s sweet rewards–so let’s take a look and see how this twist on mundane treasures measures up!

OVERALL

So What’s That Shiny Thing, Anyway? further expands upon the growing collection of GM tools in Raging Swan’s repertoire, serving to facilitate evocative and flavorful finds at a glance to spice up a given game’s loot. The content can be utilized quickly and easily and covers a wide variety of cool flavor–while also offering up additional descriptive details, hooks and complications along for the ride.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan Press’ two-column standard is shown here crisply and cleanly, continuing to boast a nice professional presentation. Eight pieces of black and white artwork are found herein of a nice quality and flavor the material well. Layout and spacing are handled consistently–and given that much of the product is presented in reference tables, that these are found to be neatly formatted is apt. I did not find any editing glitches–everything appears ship-shape! The PDF is thoroughly bookmarked and broken down to individual tables underneath each category of goods, making it a fine electronic reference as well.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Given the nature of this product, the main meat to make or break it is in the tables themselves–and those presented do not disappoint. While the title denotes all things shiny, there are more goodies included than just gems and coins–and the full gamut breaks down to coins, gems, jewellery, books & scrolls, art objects and miscellaneous objects. Each of these categories is presented within multiple tables with individual entries providing their cash value and a distinct description for flavor. The range of value spans as little as a few copper pieces and as grand as twenty-thousand gold–which needless to say, ought to satisfy mundane finds at all levels of play.

Beyond the tables themselves–which are quite thoroughly chock full of evocative details–two sections of goods include additional layers to further tailor these findings. The coins include a table for what is printed on their reverse side, while the gems section provides reference tables both for appraising and identifying their value and for assessing the magical properties of gemstones (an especially neat table.) A few of the entries include minor mechanical effects, such as a bowl with mushrooms which provide a fortitude bonus versus disease for an hour if eaten–a nice extra inclusion among the mix.

Finally, at the tail end of the product is the Hooks & Complications section, which is really quite neat; here a table provides ‘looks and hooks’ (quite catchy) for gemstones, such as being marked by a wizard’s sigil or being the missing eye from a statue of a demon; while another table denotes ‘previous owners’ for the goods found herein, boasting a nice collection of potentially quirky or precarious encounters to be had should said owners cross paths with a party of adventurers. From start to finish, all of the tables presented include plenty of detailed information about the entries.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
I make no secret that I am a fan of supplements which provide a GM tools with which to spice up their adventures–and one which helps bring more memorable finds among mundane treasures certainly satisfies this calling. So What’s That Shiny Thing, Anyway? goes a long way in regard to providing plenty of alternatives to simply waving a hand and announcing the discovery of fifty gold of this and seventy gold of that–which in and of itself suits nicely for mechanical purposes.

Beyond just flavor, however, is another underlying element: these descriptions could just as well serve as inspiration for adding additional hooks to a given story and its characters–and that is really where the ‘shiny’ begin to shine. Many of the entries provide enough of a curiosity that they have the potential to spark a given player’s interest–and an attentive GM could certainly feed off of these piqued regards to further flesh out a particular find into something more meaningful. It’s these little perks that I feel help supplements, such as this, bring lasting value to the table.

Overall: 10 out of 10

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's That Shiny Thing Like, Anyway?
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Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/23/2012 15:09:26
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19581.

Don’t Rest Your Head is a psychological, player focused mind trip of a game that incorporates aspects and ideas from some of today’s most innovative writers and film makers into a unique game setting that will keep you up all night.

OVERALL

Don’t Rest Your Head isn’t new, it’s been around for 6 years and during that 6 years it has helped to change the way designers and players look at RPGs. Don’t Rest Your Head is a high concept advanced RPG that is player centric and player focused. Character creation is mechanically simple, but intellectually challenging. The game focuses on the players who are suffering from insomnia in such a way that they are now known as the awakened. The player’s lack of sleep has opened up an existence that inhabits a place called the Mad City. The Mad City plays host to diverse denizens like the Wax King, the Blind Knights, the Roof Rats, the Paper Boys and the Ladies In Hating to name a few. In the Mad City there is a 13th hour and it is dangerous. All of these elements combine to create an RPG that easily gets into your head and is as far from the normal hack-and-slash dungeon crawl as can be.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Don’t Rest Your Head was produced before the concept of crowd sourced funding was around. Even without the benefit of public support Evil Hat Productions managed to produce a solid product that is minimalistic, well-thought out and useable. 99.95% of this rulebook is in black and white; the only color present is some red shading and a touch of blue on the face and in the hair of the person depicted on the cover. When color is done right it blows my mind, when black and white is done right it holds this eldritch power that is hard to explain.

Fred Hicks showed sheer genius in his use of black and white to create the mood and feel for Don’t Rest Your Head. At first glance, the page borders create the feeling of ripped pages, but as I delved into the book I got more of a feeling that the black around the edges of the pages represented the darkness creeping into the reader’s soul as they become immersed in the world of Don’t Rest Your Head. The fonts used in this rulebook resemble old newsprint typeface. You could easily picture this being done on an old school typewriter or printed in an even older school newspaper. This book sets the standard for the use of stock photos. All of the photos are in synch with the text and the skilled use of Photoshop makes some stock photos that many people will recognize feel fresh and in some cases imposing. Some of the art has been altered just enough to look like the old plates that were inked then pressed on paper in the early days of printing. Nothing in this rulebook is overdone or overwrought in this book.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Don’t Rest Your Head does not have a crunchy rules system. For the type of game that Don’t Rest Your Head is, the rules are just right. When there is a conflict the player rolls three dice then can add additional dice based on the possible addition talents and madness dice. A roll of 1,2 or 3 is a success, the total number of successes is called a degree and the person who has the highest degree wins the conflict. Conflicts can occur between players, between players and the GM or between players and the environment. Tie goes to the player. There are other factors that come into play but this is the basics. If you want to get all of the details, buy the book. This is a game of simple dice pools and easy to learn rules. The rules are easy to learn and not complicated, they are flexible and simple enough to cover most situations and the entire feel of the game follows the rule of cool. The rule of cool states: If it is cool and not covered by the rules always go for cool, or strange or odd or just plain freaky. (Please note that the rule of cool is a subset of the Bro Code, unisex version 2.5.)

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
This game is not for everyone. If you are the type of player who likes to name your character Fightor and the only time you speak at the table is to let the GM know your roll results, avoid this game like the monster under the bed. If you enjoy role-playing games that focus on the player, this is for you. At the more than fair price of $15.00 USD for the hard copy and $5.00 USD for the PDF there is no way you can go wrong with this book. This is a great convention game and perfect as a short term game. There are mechanics that allow you to run an extended adventure, but I think it works best in the short role. Because of its’ outstanding price point it is an affordable game to introduce to most gaming groups. This game is worth your time and money.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Don’t Rest Your Head was, and in some way still is, ahead of its time. This game embraces a player centric focus that many games forget. For many GMs, especially the ones who normally railroad their players, this game will be a huge change for you, in the best possible way. In this review I used the word players but throughout the entire Don’t Rest Your Head rulebook, the player characters are call protagonists. While this might not seem important it really is. This lets us know that this game is a storytelling game that is focused on the players, not the GM. There is no room in this game for NPCs in god mode. There are points in the game where the players actually take the game over. For some players who have never run a game or are table flowers this could be a deal breaker. This game is truly a team effort and if you have the right team or even mostly the right team you will enjoy it. This is a game that delves into human emotions, feelings and, most of all, fears. Don’t rest your head opens that closet door that kept you awake at night. It crawls under the bed where that unseen, but well-known, creature lurks. Don’t Rest Your Head looks down between its’ legs to see the potty hands before they grab you!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
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So What's The Human Called, Anyway?
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/22/2012 15:08:21
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19450.

Ithmar Adlard, Emmi Keto, Cassander the Gentle, Luciana Numidicus, Gorm Skull Splitter, Hanish of Girsu, Sunilda the Weaver, Clovis of the Teutons, Kifi of Nuweiba, Mathfrid of Lorsch. Do you recognize these great names? No? That’s probably because I just generated them using Raging Swan’s name generators, So What’s the Human Called, Anyway I and II, two 13 page books loaded with tables for historically accurate name generation.

OVERALL

Not being a historian of any kind, I cannot attest to the historical accuracy of the lists. More important than the historical reality of the names though, is that they do allow you to create names for a variety of cultures that have identifiable differences and distinct characteristics. That said though, the real strength of this product lies not in its content, but rather what you do with said content.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The layout is clean and simple with readable fonts. Unfortunately, plain is the word that comes to mind when assessing the appearance of So What’s the Human Called, Anyway?. The lack of artwork and preponderance of charts reminds me of a statistics book. However, it’s a name generator, not the catalogue of works at the Prado and the format allows for name generation quickly and efficiently. Additionally, Raging Swan is known for simple, elegant layouts. I expect it just doesn’t work as well aesthetically for a product like this.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The mechanics work exactly as intended and generate tons of different names using two percentage rolls, one for first names and one for last names. If you have a die roller you can speed it up, and if you made an app for that you could do it even faster. Those aren’t really mechanical considerations however.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
While the books are both positioned as name generators, their utility extends well beyond that. It can be used to generate a name for anything. Need a town in an Egyptian setting? You are covered. Need a list of the professions of the businesses on the street? You’ve got that too. Want to instantly have a set of names that define your orc baddies as being a culture apart? Done.

Overall: 9 out of 10
I think So What’s the Human Called, Anyway? is a great product. As I mentioned, the utility extends way beyond simply generating random, culturally-appropriate names for NPCs and I have no doubt it will be making regular appearances when I plan campaigns or build characters. I really do wish it was just a tad more interesting to look at though.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's The Human Called, Anyway?
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So What's The Human Called, Anyway? II
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/22/2012 15:07:05
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19450.

Ithmar Adlard, Emmi Keto, Cassander the Gentle, Luciana Numidicus, Gorm Skull Splitter, Hanish of Girsu, Sunilda the Weaver, Clovis of the Teutons, Kifi of Nuweiba, Mathfrid of Lorsch. Do you recognize these great names? No? That’s probably because I just generated them using Raging Swan’s name generators, So What’s the Human Called, Anyway I and II, two 13 page books loaded with tables for historically accurate name generation.

OVERALL

Not being a historian of any kind, I cannot attest to the historical accuracy of the lists. More important than the historical reality of the names though, is that they do allow you to create names for a variety of cultures that have identifiable differences and distinct characteristics. That said though, the real strength of this product lies not in its content, but rather what you do with said content.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The layout is clean and simple with readable fonts. Unfortunately, plain is the word that comes to mind when assessing the appearance of So What’s the Human Called, Anyway?. The lack of artwork and preponderance of charts reminds me of a statistics book. However, it’s a name generator, not the catalogue of works at the Prado and the format allows for name generation quickly and efficiently. Additionally, Raging Swan is known for simple, elegant layouts. I expect it just doesn’t work as well aesthetically for a product like this.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The mechanics work exactly as intended and generate tons of different names using two percentage rolls, one for first names and one for last names. If you have a die roller you can speed it up, and if you made an app for that you could do it even faster. Those aren’t really mechanical considerations however.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
While the books are both positioned as name generators, their utility extends well beyond that. It can be used to generate a name for anything. Need a town in an Egyptian setting? You are covered. Need a list of the professions of the businesses on the street? You’ve got that too. Want to instantly have a set of names that define your orc baddies as being a culture apart? Done.

Overall: 9 out of 10
I think So What’s the Human Called, Anyway? is a great product. As I mentioned, the utility extends way beyond simply generating random, culturally-appropriate names for NPCs and I have no doubt it will be making regular appearances when I plan campaigns or build characters. I really do wish it was just a tad more interesting to look at though.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's The Human Called, Anyway? II
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Fold-N-Go: Sewer Kit #1
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2012 20:23:48
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19166.

Sewer Kit #1 is the latest set of Fold-n-Go modular paper model terrain from Lone Tree Games. It is designed in the same fashion as their previous kits with the idea that the publisher provides the basic components and the user prints the quantity of each page desired to construct the overall terrain. The beauty of having a modular setup in this fashion is that you can print these sections once (with a given quantity of each) and simply rearrange the pieces to create a new design. The only aspect you’re truly limited to is the height of the walls. Each one is already defined on the page and only one height is provided. Is this a problem? Absolutely not! These paper terrain pieces are designed to accommodate 25mm/28mm miniatures commonly used through many role-playing and miniatures war game systems. You even get a wide selection of doors to customize how you want the design to look.

OVERALL

I really like the Fold-n-Go paper terrain products for their universal use and ease of growth (just print another page). However, possibly one of the greatest value pieces in the Sewer Kit #1 is the layered floor page where you simply click on the tile and it changes to a different texture (allowing you to create the sewer flow throughout the overall design). It’s absolutely brilliant and allows you to construct a multitude of floor tiles all from a single page. I would love to see this same mentality applied to one printable wall section that allows you to apply whatever texture you envision for that particular wall section.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Sewer Kit #1 is a very high quality publication. It’s designed to accommodate printing companies or even simply printing it from your personal computer. There isn’t a black-and-white version, but that can easily be achieved through your printer settings. In addition, the sewer residue all over the walls comes through wonderfully and the wall textures are beautifully shaded for depth.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
All of the textures look great, especially the sewer “slime.” Much of it is fairly standard in a dungeon-like fashion (the walls, doors, and regular floor tiles), but is what you would expect to see in a fantasy sewer. I would prefer to see more of the blue-green tinged walls like the floor tiles, but they still are visually stunning.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
The Fold-n-Go sets are a great alternative to expensive plastic or resin kits that require additional investment to grow your terrain design. With these kits, you can simply print another page (granted paper isn’t free). They do require a bit of work to construct, but you’ll never have to paint them and they can be reused and reorganized time and time again. The layered floor tile is a driving factor for using this particular set as it allows one to better customize their terrain. The only drawback to the design of the walls is that you cannot change the color to suit your needs or desires.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Sewer Kit #1 continues the great series of Fold-n-Go modular paper terrain from Lone Tree Games in the best way. These paper terrain pieces look great and can easily be added to the other sets as an underground layer to your adventures or campaigns.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fold-N-Go: Sewer Kit #1
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Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2012 07:51:55
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19271.

Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands is a location-based adventure module for Pathfinder. It is designed for 1st Level characters to be brought to 3rd Level if the entire keep is purged of threats within. The adventure has an old-school appeal with a romp through the entire keep, above and below ground, similar to a dungeon delve. The biggest difference here is that the encounters are defined from room to room, although random encounters are possible.

OVERALL

Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands is an excellent location-based adventure; not only in design but also in flavor and layout (layout of the adventure, not the publication.) It’s an excellent introduction to a lengthy campaign for those who enjoy this style of game-play. It creates the ultimate campaign starting point and launchpad, with campaign hooks included in the publication.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan Press is known for their simple yet extremely effective and efficient layout and format. Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands is one of their best products yet, if not the best. The flow of the publication is incredibly smooth and any GM will find it extremely easy to run the adventure. One of the factors that make it so easy is how detailed each encounter is in terms of tactics, environment, and scaling. Additionally, there are some beautiful illustrations that create a lot of visual appeal for important locations. Topping it all off is an old-school style cartography showing off every room and area of the adventure module.

Storyline: 8 out of 10
Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands has very little storyline involved while at the same time it has three different mini-storylines framing the different aspects of the keep. The three storylines frame the keep’s original purpose (along with its downfall) and its current residents. These mini-storylines are not designed to develop throughout the adventure as they are simply given purpose in the beginning and their outcomes will be decided by the actions of the PCs. The keep’s ultimate storyline is that of the PCs and how they view the keep. If they clear it and walk away, then the keep’s storyline ends there.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
As far as playing a location-based adventure, Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands is an excellent choice and filled with details and possibilities. The GM can incorporate the keep in a number of ways, gauging the response of the PCs and how they view the keep’s future use. As far as using it as a launching point for a lengthy campaign, it’s a fantastic way for the PCs to get their feet wet while providing a base of operations should they deem it worthy. Essentially, Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands can serve a number of purposes besides just being a location-based romp through this broken down keep.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands is an excellent adventure in terms of quality of design and possibilities for use. Every single room within the keep is extensively described and detailed, making the GMs job much easier, and the flavor of which change or grow as the PCs get deeper and deeper into the adventure, which avoids the feeling of repetitious or mundane. Don’t expect the same old thing when you enter a new room, because you will possibly be very surprised at what you find.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands
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The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/20/2012 16:12:14
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19349.

The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items introduces, or I should say “re-introduces,” GMs and players alike to, as the title suggests, forgotten magic items. Most of the material introduced in this supplement isn’t so much forgotten magic items as it is creative and unusual modifications that can be made to make things like scrolls, potions and runes more useful and interesting.

OVERALL

This supplement works hard to re-invigorate the value and desire to use and create ubiquitous magic items like scrolls and potions. The authors don’t hold back as they examine the value and reasoning behind why most people don’t take the brew potion feat. This supplement will add some additional rules and calculations for the GM, but the payoff is well worth it. Who said magic was easy?

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The cover art comes from none other than Rick Hershey. Rite Publishing abandoned their normal use of a faux leather cover in favor of a white background. While I appreciate mixing things up, most of Rite Publishing’s products have a similar appearance that has established a certain type of brand recognition that is good for a small publisher. This departure from their normal format would not draw me to this product as a Rite Publishing product if I was skimming a large page of new products on a site like http://www.rpgnow.com The cover depicts a Dromite festooned with adventuring gear and scrolls. The art is good and the coloring is well-done, other than Dromites being a psionic race the picture is a good fit. Where this cover totally fails is the use of the bright red top and bottom borders with bright blue writing on them. It doesn’t work and never will. I could hardly read that this was a Rite Publishing product or read Will McCardell’s name. In digital format this should be a quick fix, but it needs to be fixed!

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items introduces quite a few mechanics to the system. There is no fluff when it comes to these mechanics; they are all designed to create balance while still giving some old standbys a fresh coat of paint and a new set of tires. I would have never thought of creating enchanted flasks, brilliant. Not only did Will McCardell think of them, he has done an amazing job of translating that idea into useable and uncomplicated rules that make sense. Sprinkled throughout the descriptions in the book are designer’s notes that really help. The addition of the magic item charts at the end truly brought all of the mechanical concepts introduced in this book home on a single useable page.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
Finally someone has taken the time to take established magic items like potions and scrolls and add real and interesting value to them. This book, while easy to follow, is not written for beginning GMs or players. The book is outstanding when it comes to describing the concept behind these forgotten magic items. The magic item charts located at the end of the book are essential to making a product like this easy for a harried GM to use. One of the major themes to this supplement is that the items discussed are a good way to provide unusual treasure for adventuring parties. Using these items in this manor breaks the wash, rinse, repeat cycle of “you found another +2 long sword.”

Overall: 10 out of 10
I really enjoyed this book; the items were interesting, there was plenty of good useable information and all of the items and concepts were well-thought out. This book could easily be a “how to design cool and interesting items” instruction guide for GMs. I learned much from this book and hope that any items I design in the future can be as well-thought out as these. As a GM it is rare to find a book that really covers the bases for me and the players and The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items does that in spades. Even if you are not interested in new variations on scrolls and potions, check this supplement out and emulate Will McCardell’s design style. I promise no one will be able to forget your magic items!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items (PFRPG)
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Curse of the Yellow Sign, Act I: Digging for a Dead God
Publisher: John Wick Presents
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/19/2012 17:45:06
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19449.

Digging for a Dead God is a story module for Call of Cthulhu set in Africa just before the outbreak of World War II. I say story module in echo of John Wick’s own words. Rather than being an adventure full of things like stats and a boss fight, Digging for a Dead God contains a few key events, but otherwise leaves everything up to the GM. Mr. Wick provides a helpful section at the end of the story to help flesh things out into an adventure as well as the six characters intended to be used in the scenario.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The production quality of Digging for a Dead God is quite high from what I can tell from the PDF. The layout is logical with easy to read fonts. The artwork is well-selected and doesn’t distract from the text. Not much else to say. If you printed it out on nice paper and bound it, I expect it would be a great looking product. The only two things I didn’t like about it was how the sidebar John Wick mentions appears suddenly and occupies an entire page, which interrupts the flow on a straight read through, and the stats of the pre-generated characters are hard to read.

Before the review continues, let it do so with the understanding that I am assessing this product under the assumption that the person using it will be happy to invent most of the details of the story, aren’t adverse to inter-PC conflict, and likes horror. If that isn’t the case, you should drop the following two scores by half.

Storyline: 9 out of 10
The adventure is both internally consistent as well as the type of story one associates with Call of Cthulhu; that is to say, horror, rather than a shoot ‘em up. The story also lends itself to being the kickoff for a larger campaign set during World War II. As previously mentioned, there is a lot of room for a GM to make the module fit whatever they had in mind for their campaign. Alternatively, it can be used as designed, as a one-off, without any trouble.

Desire to Play: 8 out of 10
This is a refreshing way to spend an evening or kick off a new campaign. Depending on your group though, it might be more fun to make up 6 PCs rather than use the ones provided, although that will disrupt certain interparty dynamics. Compared to similar adventures I have seen in, for lack of a better term, skeletal form, this one is quite good. It lays out what you need to play and not much else, allowing for plenty of customization either beforehand or on the fly.

Overall: 9 out of 10
As I said, what you get out of this adventure really has to do with your taste in adventure design. Personally, my PCs always just blow the plot up anyways, so I find something like Digging for a Dead God’s design, with only the major plot points established, to be highly useful. John Wick’s plot isn’t the sort of thing I would normally come up with, but there is enough room in his design for the addition of elements that I like and that I am comfortable using. I typically don’t do one-offs and I’m more of a fantasy guy, so the premade PCs and default setting are a bit of a turn-off. That said, the beauty of having only the theme mechanics of the system mean it can be moved easily not only within setting, but also rule sets.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Curse of the Yellow Sign, Act I: Digging for a Dead God
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Bonetongue, Steward of Dead Dreams (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/16/2012 14:18:21
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19102.

Faces of The Tarnished Souk (FotTS): Bonetongue, Steward of Dead Dreams is a supplement for the Coliseum Morpheuon adventure for the Pathfinder Fantasy system in which the reader meets an old white necromancer goblin who appears to be the only person in the Coliseum Morpheuon who has respect for those that lose, should it matter that they are all dead?

OVERALL

Bonetongue, Steward of Dreams is the prototypical hard to kill, but why would you want to kill this kind of NPC? His templates, abilities and back story make him resilient; his aversion to direct conflict combined with his love and respect for life make Bonetongue the kind of powerfully balanced NPC that most GMs try to make, but end up putting in god mode causing resentment and feelings murderous in nature from most players. Bonetongue is interesting because if played as written, he breaks many stereotypes while still retaining a certain amount of gobliness.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Rick Hershey brings Bonetongue to life in well-done black and white hues that bring the steward of the dead to life (pun intended). The attention to detail is outstanding; Bonetongue’s shovel matches the magic item description perfectly. I’m not sure if Mr. Hershey’s art inspired the creation of Bonetongue or if this is a case of original art done really well. Whatever the case this is killer art/information fusion, they were dead on! The interior art was well-placed and nicely labeled. Page 12 was dominated by the description of the Eternal Creature template and in the top right corner there is a picture of Ladon, the eternal hundred-headed dragon. While some might feel insulted by the picture caption, I felt like it tied an otherwise unassociated (albeit well-rendered) picture of a multi-headed dragon with the Eternal Creature template. The simple act of giving the dragon a name brought it alive and planted some naughty little seeds in my sick monkey mind for future encounters.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Balance achieved! Well-balance achieved, but not in the way I normally view balance in a game. Bonetongue is a powerful creature, but he is designed to use his power sparingly, if at all. He is a treasure trove of knowledge and the gateway to hundreds of adventures if used correctly. As I previously mentioned, he is a durable NPC who is really, really difficult to kill. Normally this really, really hard to kill aspect would worry me, but with Bonetongue, it just feels right. He isn’t power hungry, but mechanically has the tools to wreak some serious havoc. The magic items he has are interesting and balanced. Some of his templates would be downright scary if placed on an angry beholder.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
Rite publishing is notorious for giving players their monies worth and Faces of The Tarnished Souk: Bonetongue, Steward of Dead Dreams is no exception to their dedication to customer service and satisfaction. Every Coliseum needs “that guy” who collects and disposes of the bodies. Bonetongue could be the undertaker in any cemetery and still seem like a great fit. I am actually looking for excuses to interject Bonetongue into my game.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Bonetongue, Steward of Dead Dreams is a well-executed product from cover to cover! Some of the templates associated with Bonetongue are found in another Rite Publishing supplement, properly referenced and fully described. This practice might seem redundant, but it has the added benefit of making me want to see what other goodies Rite Publishing might offer. Well-done magic items, art and mechanics aside, what really makes this supplement is the loving care that was put into making Bonetongue a resilient, deep character that bucks the normal trend of the callous, uncaring undertaker. Necromancers as a group are creepy folks and while some of that creepiness seeps into Bonetongue, his role as a white necromancer is well-played. Bonetongue is an excellent example of how non-evil necromancy can be used in a game. To not buy this product would be a grave mistake!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Bonetongue, Steward of Dead Dreams (PFRPG)
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No Man's Land Paper Minis
Publisher: SSDC, Inc.
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2012 14:32:52
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19163.

SSDC has published two sets of paper miniatures for use with Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century. Paper Miniatures Battlelords features races found in the core rulebook while Paper Miniatures No Man’s Land features races found in the No Man’s Land campaign setting. Both paper miniatures products are produced in the same fashion and are thus being reviewed under the same posting.

OVERALL

Both sets of paper miniatures look excellent and are perfect additions to your collection due to the uniqueness of the different races (try finding miniatures that look like that, it’s probably impossible). The only drawback is that they all look like their dressed for diplomacy or a stroll through the park instead of being outfitted for combat through their career as a battlelord. Although they perfectly represent the races of Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century, they do a poor job of representing the military sci-fi theme of the system.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Both paper miniatures publications are of the highest quality, as is all SSDC products. The triangle format is an interesting style for paper miniatures, but has the advantage that you don’t need to purchase plastic bases or attempt to construct one out by folding and gluing/taping the paper.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
Both sets of paper miniatures look fantastic. The races come through crisp and clear and the coloring is superb. The inclusion of male and female miniatures is a perfect addition to really show off the different characteristics of the race considering male versus female. This is a great visual representation of Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century.

Desire to Use: 5 out of 10
Here’s where I find a big problem with both sets of paper miniatures. All of the miniatures are dressed in basic clothing. There is no armor, no weapons, and none of them look posed for action. While it’s a great representation of what the races look like, it’s a poor representation of what atmosphere the game system is designed to create. There’s a good chance that you’ll never find miniatures for the Battlelords’ races, so these miniatures may be necessary. But if you want your tabletop to look like a scene from what you picture in a Battlelords encounter, you’ll have to look elsewhere as these ones look like diplomats instead of battlelords.

Overall: 8 out of 10
Both sets of paper miniatures are a great addition to your Battlelords games, as long as you can overlook their attire. Being that the system’s races are so unique, it’s helpful to have a constant reminder of what your player characters look like.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
No Man's Land Paper Minis
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Battlelords Paper Minis
Publisher: SSDC, Inc.
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2012 14:32:44
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19163.

SSDC has published two sets of paper miniatures for use with Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century. Paper Miniatures Battlelords features races found in the core rulebook while Paper Miniatures No Man’s Land features races found in the No Man’s Land campaign setting. Both paper miniatures products are produced in the same fashion and are thus being reviewed under the same posting.

OVERALL

Both sets of paper miniatures look excellent and are perfect additions to your collection due to the uniqueness of the different races (try finding miniatures that look like that, it’s probably impossible). The only drawback is that they all look like their dressed for diplomacy or a stroll through the park instead of being outfitted for combat through their career as a battlelord. Although they perfectly represent the races of Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century, they do a poor job of representing the military sci-fi theme of the system.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Both paper miniatures publications are of the highest quality, as is all SSDC products. The triangle format is an interesting style for paper miniatures, but has the advantage that you don’t need to purchase plastic bases or attempt to construct one out by folding and gluing/taping the paper.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
Both sets of paper miniatures look fantastic. The races come through crisp and clear and the coloring is superb. The inclusion of male and female miniatures is a perfect addition to really show off the different characteristics of the race considering male versus female. This is a great visual representation of Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century.

Desire to Use: 5 out of 10
Here’s where I find a big problem with both sets of paper miniatures. All of the miniatures are dressed in basic clothing. There is no armor, no weapons, and none of them look posed for action. While it’s a great representation of what the races look like, it’s a poor representation of what atmosphere the game system is designed to create. There’s a good chance that you’ll never find miniatures for the Battlelords’ races, so these miniatures may be necessary. But if you want your tabletop to look like a scene from what you picture in a Battlelords encounter, you’ll have to look elsewhere as these ones look like diplomats instead of battlelords.

Overall: 8 out of 10
Both sets of paper miniatures are a great addition to your Battlelords games, as long as you can overlook their attire. Being that the system’s races are so unique, it’s helpful to have a constant reminder of what your player characters look like.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Battlelords Paper Minis
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Type SD Serpent Class Police Cutter "IISS Anaconda"
Publisher: Scrying Eye Games
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2012 14:29:49
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19169.

Type SD Police Cutter is the next battlemap in the Scrying Eye Shipyard series of spaceship battlemaps designed for use with Traveller. This battlemap features a single police cutter with a docking bay for a smaller personal ship. Included with the police cutter are two copies of the smaller ship that fits inside the docking bay, mimicking the same design style as the larger police cutter, providing great synergy between the entire set. Overview illustrations along with designators are included for both ships and optional tokens are included to add a little more flavor for when you place it on your tabletop. One thing should be noted that while this spaceship is a police cutter, there are no markings designating it as such allowing it to be used for a number of possibilities.

OVERALL

The series of Scrying Eye Shipyard spaceship battlemaps are truly a thing to see. They consistently make efficient use of the space provided and are always stuffed with an incredible amount of detail. As a user of Campaign Cartographer and the Cosmographer add-on, I am amazed at the combination of symbols used in the Type SD Police Cutter to create interesting designs for the different areas within the spaceship (such as the bridge and engine rooms). If you play in a sci-fi setting and ever need a spaceship to fly, you should check the Scrying Eye Shipyard first.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Scrying Eye Games produces very high quality battlemaps. Type SD Police Cutter has a wonderful layout overall, except for a couple little things here and there. Some pieces of the battlemap are cut in funny places and the overview pages are mixed within the pages of the battlemap instead of prominently in the front, leading into the battlemap. These are all very little things that don’t detract from the usage or beauty of the battlemap.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
Type SD Police Cutter is a beautiful spaceship battlemap with an incredible amount of detail and a superb use of available space. As with other products, Scrying Eye Games is extremely efficient and effective with their ship designs along with providing an interesting combination of elements that create the design of the ship’s interior. If you zoom in on the battlemap, you’ll see an immense number of small items put together to create the ship’s inner-workings. With the inclusion of the exterior, you can help but be impressed by how this battlemap looks.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10
Although Type SD Police Cutter has a specific use in mind, it’s universal design on the inside and out provides a number of other possible uses. It can be used as a simple, short-ranged transport ship or something regularly used for a small scouting party. By avoiding the use of defining details, the battlemap can be opened up for a number of different uses.

Overall: 9 out of 10
The Scrying Eye Shipyard battlemaps are beautiful renditions of unique spaceships, designed for Traveller. But don’t let the Traveller logo sway you, as they can easily be used for other sci-fi RPGs that use miniatures. Scrying Eye Games is extremely good at making intriguing battlemaps that always make me want to see more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Type SD Serpent Class Police Cutter "IISS Anaconda"
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101 Barbarian Feats (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/12/2012 14:32:38
The following review was originally posted at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19198.

‘Beserker’ Steven D. Russell of Rite Publishing has set out to provide a plethora of flavorful feats meant to ensure enemies are both crushed and driven before you – and one needn’t contemplate overlong ‘neath the tree of woe to find a satisfying selection at hand. 101 Barbarian Feats includes a wide variety of fun new options to further define and fine tune a given barbarian’s play style; as an added bonus, the material herein offers functionality among rage powers as well – and a number of entries may even make their way to the sheets of fighters and other martial combat characters with the right inspiration.

OVERALL

101 Barbarian Feats is an excellent tool-kit to tailor together truly iconic barbarian characters; the breadth and variety of the options inside cover a broad swath of creativity and amply serve to inspire entire character concepts and allow opportunities to delve further into existing archetypes previously lacking in support.

Between background seeds, extension and expansion on existing archetypes and mechanics and finally the character-defining, cinematic capstone abilities, 101 Barbarian Feats could certainly serve as the foundation for a ‘Complete Barbarian’ style of product. Even as it stands on its own, I was thoroughly impressed by the material’s creativity matched in equal measure by carefully considered crunch, which together serve to stand as a stellar offering of character options.

On the whole, if you are a fan of playing barbarians and enjoy having a bevy of customization choices available to you, this really is a must-have supplement; if you’re a GM with players interested in pursuing barbarian characters, they’re apt to love the offerings here. As well, one could create rather interesting NPCs – or even compelling barbarian villains – utilizing the options included here.

With only very minor hiccups present in presentation and a product bristling with flavor and creativity, 101 Barbarian Feats packs a considerable punch and I’d highly recommend it for any prospective game with the raging rabble-rousers involved!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Rite Publishing’s two-column standard of formatting is present, with plentiful full-color (a mix of stock and public domain) artwork throughout – nearly one piece on every page. The artwork is suitably flavorful for the feats each piece accompanies, with most adding nicely to the feel. Layout and spacing are good on the whole, though there are some minor glitches and inconsistencies e.g. italics among the flavor text and a few typos among the mechanics – but ultimately nothing is glaring enough to detract from the otherwise solid presentation. The PDF is bookmarked for groupings of feats by letter, which is serviceable.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Included here among the feats is a fairly even spread between those that are wholly new and those which provide ‘improved’ and ‘greater’ versions of current mechanics. This serves well to not only open up new avenues of barbarian styling but to also continue to empower those which one might already be fond of. Each of the new offerings tend to balance off of a combination of expending rounds of rage or limited usage per day, which serve to keep things in line while offering a chance for barbarian characters to prompt powerful, cinematic moments.

As with any supplement of character options, it will ultimately vary in personal preference for what you are comfortable introducing to your game, but on the whole I found the mechanics presented within 101 Barbarian Feats to be very manageable and thoughtfully balanced in line with existing character options.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
One of the biggest values to me in this product is that various barbarian archetypes receive feat support here which can broaden their functionality. For example, the ‘Hurler’ archetype ordinarily starts and ends at the ‘Skilled Thrower’ ability; included here are a pair of feats to augment this class feature – but additionally one might take Covering Throws to inflict morale penalties on enemies, or Perfect Pitch to gain further range and damage on thrown attacks. Having these new options to augment existing archetypes is quite keen and handled in a very sensible but flavorful fashion!

Since many of the feats included may also be utilized as rage powers, there is considerable flexibility and ease in introducing them to new or existing characters; many of the feats included also serve to help strongly define a character’s background – such as an origin as a pit fighter involved in deadly blood sports or a seaborne raider pillaging from port to port. Not only might these spark the inspirations for entire character concept, but they might also be employed to so simply solidify an homage to classic tropes.

Between all of the background options, archetype augmentations and the various chains and trees presented here one might comprise an entire party of distinct individual barbarians to go cavorting and conquering together!

Overall: 9 out of 10
101 Barbarian Feats is the sort of supplement where you might find yourself reading along and wondering: ‘Why wasn’t this included in the core material?’ Here Steven D. Russel has provided organic options for the continuation of current options and archetypes which feel perfectly in theme and balance with their roots; from there, we are also presented with a great many new avenues of exploration for barbarian character concepts not previously offered by the rules.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Barbarian Feats (PFRPG)
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