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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Khufusiris, the Crooked Sleuth of Unfathered Sin (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/29/2013 20:43:18
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=34283.

Buddy is only part of the word, and Khufusiris the Crooked Sleuth of Unfathered Sin knows how to complete the rest of that statement. Actually, if there was ever an NPC designed to better screw their allies over, I’ve never seen them!

OVERALL

Even when the folks at Rite Publishing go for some really obvious troupes, they still make their NPCs feel fresh. Who hasn’t seen the scruffy criosphink who comes off as really loveable and seems almost cuddly, who turns out to be a raging a-hole who screws his buddies over at the worst possible moment?

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Even though the art in this supplement doesn’t take any risks or blaze any new paths, it works and it works well. Rite Publishing stuck with the art style from other supplements to depict some of the templates. While not all of that art was groundbreaking, it re-enforced those templates the second time I saw them. Layout in this supplement is standard for Rite publishing as well as the supplements for the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series. I do think Khufusiris, the Crooked Sleuth of Unfathered Sin could have looked a bit more friendly and approachable but his depiction wasn’t enough to deduct points for.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
I rarely have any complaints about Rite Publishing’s ability to produce top-notch products that are mechanically sound. The addition of several templates will cause a GM to have to do some homework to run this NPC correctly, but that is to be expected with products that cover higher-level creatures. Rite Publishing isn’t afraid to get complicated, and they do a great job when they do it.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
The main reason that Khufusiris, the Crooked Sleuth of Unfathered Sin got dinged is because, lets face it, in most settings other than the Tarnished Souk, a criosphink just wandering around, even in the largest hives of scum and villainy, sticks out. Even when he is described as friendly and affable, he is still a criosphink! If disguised as something else he becomes more useful, but part of the appeal is that he is a criosphink.

Overall: 9 out of 10
I have never ever seen a creature who was so specked for betrayal, and I love it. I do feel that if played as written, Khufusiris, the Crooked Sleuth of Unfathered Sin and his true colors will show way too soon. Any characters that have spent time in the Tarnished Souk and survived should very easily see through his guise as a loyal friend. Smart players know not to trust anything in the Souk and they know that nothing, and I mean nothing, is as it appears. Khufusiris is best used as a long time ally so that if the players let their guard down, the betrayal will hurt that much more. When you feel that knife twisting in your back, you, as a GM, will know where it came from.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Khufusiris, the Crooked Sleuth of Unfathered Sin (PFRPG)
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Village Backdrop: Bossin
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/22/2013 15:30:01
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=34429.

Nestled in a deep dell behind the cliffs guarding the Lonely Coast, Bossin is a troubled village. The rich bounty of the nearby mines and the excellent farmland should provide the villagers with a comfortable life, even though the lower part of the village periodically floods, but instead the populace now labor under the tyranny of Jacca Lander and his hired thugs. Extortion, disappearances and “accidents” are a daily feature of life in Bossin and the villagers are desperate for salvation, but they dare not speak of their woes for fear of ending up in the Pit.

OVERALL

Bossin is a village that can easily be dropped into any campaign, anywhere, which is something that I love the most about Raging Swan Press Products. Although I still wish this product was in color, this is where sometimes, colored pencils are your friend.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The layout is done in the traditional style of Raging Swan Press which is minimalist black and white. While it doesn’t take away from the quality of the publication, I WISHED they would do something in color. Again, they are passing the savings to their customers by not doing color, but it would be nice to see some color! The bookmarks are done in a clean style, and the transfer to mobile devices is made awesome by the company’s policy to give you both the high resolution and low resolution for whatever your needs are.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Mechanically it is sound, I don’t find many issues with Raging Swan Press goodies, and this is no exception.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
While this is an amazing supplement, I still hate that it’s not in color! When you do cities, locations, and other things, art becomes incredibly important in making the world that much more realistic. But as is, I am still content. What I wouldn’t give to see some color though.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Overall, this product is a sound product. It’s light, affordable, and quite really nice. Bossin, can fit into any campaign, adventure or small skirmish and it gives the players and the GM, the maneuverability to play with the city as much as they like.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Bossin
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2013 15:38:07
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=34250.

He’s just a good ole’ boy never meaning much harm… A Dwarf Bard, this is the Souk, you shouldn’t be surprised, a Dwarf Bard that parties hard and drinks too much; no surprises there. His mood swings range from jubilant to destructive and he does it all with aplomb.

OVERALL

While not many think Dwarf Bard, it has been done before and it will be done again. Where the folks at Rite Publishing did this take right was making him a singer and a dancer – sure he is a drum beater, but I’m glad he wasn’t a one trick pony.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
No surprises when it comes to this supplement’s layout, print quality or formatting. The Faces of the Tarnished Souk supplements are a very established brand, and while some would ding Rite Publishing for not changing things up, I commend them. They are a small company who knows how to stretch their dollar and still put out a high quality product. I enjoyed the cover art, it let me know who Balduros Thundrsen is with one look. In past reviews I have asked Rite Publishing for additional pictures of the character the supplement is covering and they did, well they did or they used the picture of another similar looking Dwarf, but I think they went the extra mile and included a picture of Balduros Thundrsen wielding a hammer. The rest of the stock art didn’t feel cohesive, but it is stock art.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Balduros Thundrsen is no push over, but he felt like he would not be difficult to run as an NPC. Even at level 16 with very minor preparation, a GM could improve any game with the inclusion of Balduros Thundrsen.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
Bards tend to be a polarizing class; people love them or they hate them. If run properly, Balduros Thundrsen could be that NPC that might bring a few players to the bard side. Outside of the Souk he would be a powerful warlord, who happens to have musical talent, but in the Souk he is just right.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Even with some of the typical elements that are included in the Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer he is still a really well executed and realized NPC. His templates are not too complicated and his backstory is interesting. Some of his motivations and reasons for his actions are diminished when he is out of the Souk, but lets face it, artsy folks tend to be eccentric so some of his normal behaviors in the Souk wouldn’t be too far off in other settings. As an NPC, Balduros Thundrsen brings the noise!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer  (PFRPG)
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Dreams of Steam 2: The Foul Strumpet
Publisher: Scrying Eye Games
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/11/2013 14:39:10
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=33922.

The Foul Strumpet is a well-depicted battlemap of a steampunk airship. A gas bag suspends the upper and lower decks of a hanging ship, with large props that drive the entire thing forward with a suitable trail of fumes. This battlemat is a perfect example of how helium is better than hydrogen, because the gas bag is obviously not a hot air balloon. It would not do to be under the bag if the contents could explode from one tiny spark, so the vote goes to helium – or some suitably inert fantasy equivalent!

OVERALL

The Foul Strumpet is an excellent battlemat, allowing the players to indulge in mayhem on several levels of a steampunk airship. It is complete with an upper gas bag, surface deck, and lower deck.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Scrying Eye Games has done an excellent job of sizing the battlemap segments across multiple pages. My suggestion for the best final result is to cut the white edges off after printing without scaling, since the original scale is set to one square equals five feet. Laminate the pieces, then use glossy tape on the butted edges so that, once assembled, nothing shifts or stains when players get excited and scatter snacks in their haste to sweep the decks with projectile weapons.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
This map has perfectly captured the qualities of the steampunk experience. Steam, smoke, cannons, and all sorts of nice tactical features are presented with great quality. It also has a stylish Victorian look, just the sort of thing for a nice parasol or cutlass. The various levels can be used for game play whether the characters are in, on, or under the depicted surfaces.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
I’m more of a high fantasy player, but the next time I use an airship I’m using this battlemap! The Foul Strumpet is the perfect place for aeronautical derring-do and hijinks, should you have a fancy for the steampunk genre. What you get is a complete airship experience, so grab your aether pistol and blast away or just drop a nice crate of impact bombs on the helpless fools below!

Overall: 10 out of 10
The Foul Strumpet is an excellent addition to your steampunk environments and a quality piece from Scrying Eye Games. The Foul Strumpet provides the Game Master with an excellent site for an encounter or a tasteful means of long-distance propulsion for the characters and their foes.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dreams of Steam 2: The Foul Strumpet
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Fantastic Maps - Trader's Warf
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2013 21:06:18
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=33921.

Trader’s Wharf is perfect for a fantasy encounter by the sea or the river. The depicted terrain includes a small merchant ship docked on the shore next to a nice little warehouse, with quality terrain features for fantasy encounters. This battlemap is perfect for some serious medieval mayhem!

OVERALL

This is a beautiful battlemap. The art is excellent and the terrain allows the characters or their antagonists to approach the dock from land or sea with equal facility. What players get, once the sheets are assembled, is an artistic depiction of a medieval or renaissance private dock with suitable surroundings.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Jonathan Roberts has done an excellent job with this publication, which includes a square-grid depiction in full color as well as one in printer-friendly greyscale. The panels are sized such that they can be printed on both letter or A4 paper. Owners of this product should print this at actual size, with no scaling. There are complete instructions, and the panels are set with an overlap for precise positioning and taping. The white edges can be entirely removed and the pieces will combine seamlessly. One excellent way to make this last is to get adhesive lamination sheets from an office supply store and cover the sections, cutting the plastic to fit. Alternately, a print shop can easily laminate the sections. Either way, once assembled and taped together using the slight overlap provided, nothing shifts or stains when players get excited and spill their beverages during a hasty boarding action or while attempting to pillage the warehouse.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
If you’ve been spoiled by multiple-layer PDF renditions, be aware that this is a single-layer file, so what you see is what you get. In my opinion, this map is perfect. The debris and stacked items inside the warehouse are well-depicted, as is the dock and surrounding terrain. The color selections are beautiful, and they give this battlemat a realistic appearance. The ship at the dock is well-rendered. If you’ve seen the Princess Bride movie, this ship is very close to the size and shape of the ship operated by Vizzini the Sicilian villain, roughly 60 feet from bow to stern, and is fully detailed in another product: Fantastic Maps – Merchantman. If you want internal details of the lower decks or would like to float off in the ship after leaving the dock, pick up that product as well.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10
As a high fantasy genre gamer, I’m using this! I’ve already laminated my set and will be enjoying it at the next gaming convention. This battlemap perfectly depicts a shoreline haven for characters or their foes. Whether the characters are armed with swords, crossbows, or magic wands, this is an excellent product for the ragged edge between the land and sea!

Overall: 10 out of 10
Trader’s Wharf is a high-quality addition to your fantasy environments and another fine product from Rite Publishing. Trader’s Wharf allows the Game Master to establish a rich tactical shoreline situation that is visually appealing.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantastic Maps - Trader's Warf
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#30 Portable Rooms (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/25/2013 15:13:45
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=33523.

OVERALL

Overall, I like this product. It’s a different kind of beast and great for those who want to put players in a situation that makes them “think outside of the box” per say. For me personally, I deal with enough issues within non-magical rooms, that having additional rooms within rooms, is a little too much for my taste. But it doesn’t mean it won’t work for other GMs and players who are interested in creating their own favorable room.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The layout is done in primary black and white, with nice borders around the layout. The art is placed well, and the bookmarks are definitely in the right spots (Huzzah!) On mobile, it is light and easy to navigate. To print, it is not as ink friendly as I had hoped. So try not print it at home, take it to Kinko’s instead.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Mechanically, the supplement is sound, and I like that there was an explanation of how portable rooms work. A lot of people who will be looking at the product will want to know how to make them work in application to the rest of the adventure.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
It’s a hard sell for me, because in this day and age of RPGs, having a regular room is enough of a challenge. Then you have to deal with a room within a room? That’s a little much for me, but for those GMs who are looking for a little something new and of a different style, they will benefit from a lot of the ideas therein. Even if they do not utilize the mechanics, the room descriptions and additional goodies never hurt to add into a campaign.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Overall, this is a good product. For me , it’s a hard sell based on the grounds that it feels a little “Whovian” in the respect of “Why do I need another room within a room? The said room being bigger on the inside?” But if you are a GM/Player, that wants to add a little more to your campaign in a very time-wimey kind of way, then consider taking on this supplement and have fun!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Portable Rooms (PFRPG)
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Wu Xing: Truth and Lies
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/23/2013 16:34:40
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=33168.

Truth and Lies is another clan-oriented sourcebook for Wu Xing, delving deeper in to a pair of clans and adding new options to go along with that content. Truth and Lies focuses on the Will of Iron and Hidden Strands of Fate clans along with a pair of new clans that coincide with those clans. The source content is presented in narrative fashion as if you, the reader, was having a conversation with the person in the book. Albeit slightly odd at times as the person in the book responds to questions you didn’t actually ask, the source content is an interesting read that strives to keep the reader engaged.

OVERALL

For those who enjoy Wu Xing and want to flesh out more of the background of their ninjas or gain a better understanding of what the clans are like, these clan sourcebooks are exactly what is necessary. As an ongoing series, players and GMs will definitely get a greater sense of what the Wu Xing setting is about as these books focus heavily on the source material and present new mechanics almost as a bonus instead of being the focus of the book. Thus, you get more material to make your ninjas more interesting and give them more purpose within the overall Wu Xing setting.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Truth and Lies is a great looking book. Being funded through Kickstarter helps to produce top-notch artwork and it utilizes the already-established layout and format of other Wu Xing books. I’m not always a fan of how some of the artwork is sized and placed on the page, but they still work and do a great job of representing the content in visual format.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
Truth and Lies is a solid book for new mechanics in terms of what you get. I would prefer to see more of the source content translated into mechanics to tools regarding some of the people and places being mentioned. There’s a lot of great mechanical content here for players, but not as much mechanical content for GMs. I understand the focus is on the clan, but it would be nice to have further translations of the source content into quick plug-in module type tools for GMs (such as presenting a stat block for an important person, presenting the stats for a particular village presenting frequently in the book, etc.).

Value Add: 10 out of 10
Truth and Lies is an excellent sourcebook to add to your collection, especially players. Not only does it present an in-depth look into a pair of clans, it offers new player character options to better represent what those clans are about. For GMs, you also get another adventure to slot into your campaign.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Truth and Lies is another great clan sourcebook for Wu Xing. This series does a proper job of presenting clan-oriented material and lays out a lot of options for the players and GM to pull from (source content that is). It feels extremely balanced with the core Wu Xing book and presents content that has a certain synergy with the core rulebook, making it feel like an integral part of the overall setting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wu Xing: Truth and Lies
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City Slums
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2013 14:58:58
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=33606.

City Slums accurately captures the hopeless wreckage of a decayed urban blight. The combination of rubble and terrain features at various altitudes gives the players a rich environment for frenzied combat tactics, whether it’s up close or blasting away with assault rifles. This battlemap is perfect for contemporary scenarios, superhero escapades, or for apocalyptic doom in the husk of a shattered city. What players get, once the sheets are assembled, is a rich area of blighted urban street that includes several floors of surrounding buildings and metallic bridges above the rest from which to engage in spirited sniper fire or high-level martial arts mayhem.

OVERALL

City Slums is an excellent urban map, allowing the players to have a complete modern city combat experience. It assembles into an inner city block, with a rich range of terrain features. There are buildings that surround the edge of the map, along with several narrow buildings in the middle that are connected by metallic walkways on the top levels.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
DramaScape has done an excellent job of sizing the battlemap segments across multiple pages, including a square-grid, hex-grid, and gridless version. There are complete instructions, along with a panoramic view that allows the reader to pan around from a viewpoint in the middle of the block to see what the map looks like from the perspective of a character. Owners of this product can choose where to cut the white edges off so that they can assemble the pieces in a way that allows them to combine seamlessly. My suggestion for the best final result is to laminate the pieces once this decision is made, then use non-permanent double-sided tape on the white edges so that everything holds together nicely. Alternately, all the edges can be cut off and the map sections can be laminated and butted together directly with glossy tape. Either way, once assembled, nothing shifts or stains when players get excited and spill their beverages in their haste to tear up the streets with rapid-fire weaponry

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
This map has perfectly captured the hopeless sense of dust and shattered bricks. The coloration is grey and ominous, with toxic waste drums, overburdened dumpsters, scattered traffic cones, and a variety of well-crafted terrain features. The different levels are slightly offset visually, so it’s easy to tell the relative altitude of the various roofs and walkways. It also has a fantastic weathered look, showing that the environment has seen many years of gradual decay. There are so many places to hide on this map that the characters and their adversaries will have a hard time keeping track of opposing forces.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
I’m personally more of the high fantasy genre gamer, but the next time I run an urban blight game this will be a centerpiece! City Slums is the perfect place for a major misunderstanding involving gangs, drug production facilities, villainous headquarters, zombie hordes, or the fight for food after civilization coughs out its final breath. Whether the characters are armed with assault rifles, crossbows, or flamethrowers, this is an excellent product for the final epic battle!

Overall: 9 out of 10
City Slums is an excellent addition to your modern or apocalyptic environments and another quality piece from DramaScape. By focusing on an open central area surrounded by high walls and walkways, City Slums allows the Game Master to establish a rich tactical urban conflict where the winner can’t easily be predicted, but creativity will definitely be rewarded.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City Slums
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The Reactor
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2013 21:05:48
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32955.

The Reactor is where the trouble is brewing. Millions might die. After the characters have been to the SciFi Bar, or spent some time in the SciFi Diner, this is where they will save the world, or at least the starship. It could be the future, the present, or the past, because this battlemap can handle any genre where serious chemistry or nuclear energy production is underway.

OVERALL

The Reactor is a well-rendered specialized area, invoking scenes where the heroes battle terrorists, aliens, or are tasked with preventing serious hardware malfunctions. This battlemap renders two levels of a reactor environment with enough flexibility to support a wide variety of options, allowing the players to have a complicated tactical encounter. There is one entrance and, by definition, only one escape. This is the place where the heroes will win or die, and their actions will determine the fate of many.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
DramaScape has done an excellent job of sizing the battlemap segments across multiple pages. This product includes square-grid, hex-grid, and gridless renditions of two reactor levels. The imagery is rendered with great quality. Owners of this product can choose which white edges to cut off so that they can assemble the reactor levels seamlessly. If you want this to last for years, I suggest that you laminate the pieces and use double-sided tape on the white edges so that nothing shifts or stains when players get excited and spill their beverages in their haste to blast aliens before they can blow up the reactor. Another option is to cut off all the white edges and just tape the laminated pieces together directly with glossy tape.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
This map is an excellent rendition of a high-tech energy or chemical production environment. There are walkways, tubes, valves, control panels, and all sorts of features to indulge a variety of tactical challenges. The two levels are similar, but the top and bottom of the ladders for access between the levels are visually well-rendered.

Desire to Use: 8 out of 10
As I’ve mentioned, this is a very specialized environment but perfect for one specific kind of encounter. It could be used in Cold War scenarios, contemporary high-technology situations, or in science fiction confrontations. Fantasy characters would probably blow themselves up in fairly short order in this environment, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be used as a mystery in such a genre. The Reactor is equally effective for tense combat situations or technical challenges where the characters must solve complex issues to avoid massive destruction.

Overall: 9 out of 10
The Reactor is an excellent addition to your science fiction, espionage, or contemporary action environments, and a quality product from DramaScape. This battlemat is perfect for a final confrontation with enemies or the raw forces of technology. The Reactor allows the Game Master to provide an epic focused situation where the options are limited only by the imagination of the players.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Reactor
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Dungeon Dressing: Pits
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/04/2013 20:33:19
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32532.

Looking for a new way of dealing with pits? Or even make the pits worse by adding additional items? This is the product for you! This is straight forward, no fuss, supplement that will make pits even more deadly and fun to have in your adventures!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: As always, it is done in the traditional Raging Press Style of minimalist black and white. Which if fine and acceptable especially for supplements. The layout of information is rather easy to read and done in the traditional style.

Ease of Mobility: The nice thing about Raging Swan Press, is that they have dual formats for those who wish to print, and carry mobile. It’s nice and keeps the files light and readable.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Mechanically it’s sound, and I learned a few new things about Pits that I can use on my players in my personal campaigns. But I wouldn’t pass this on to a few others because then I know for a fact, I would get hit and die with one of these pits. Which is a good thing in the supplement’s case.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
If you are looking for something that adds flavor to the infamously boring pit, is definitely something you should purchase. With a two dollar price tag, it’s hard to not buy it.

Overall: 10 out of 10
If you are looking for something to expand your pits for your trap-filled lair, this is one of the supplements for you. The price is right, you learn new things about pits that you didn’t know before. It’s awesome and you want to take advantage of the low price.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Pits
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SciFi Diner
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/28/2013 21:06:55
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32452.

Some things don’t change, even in the sci-fi worlds. Before your characters hit the bars, or afterwards, they just might need to grab some basic food. This is where SciFi Diner comes in! There’s nothing too fancy about this place, but there are seven seats at the bar, twelve booths, and something warm in the nutrient tanks. Entry is through an airlock door, so the diner could be set in the mean streets of the starport, the halls of a starship, radioactive ruins, or within the vacuum of space outside. The choice is yours!

OVERALL

SciFi Diner is an excellent map, allowing the players to have a fulfilling sci-fi diner experience. An interesting combination of high-tech and seedy street feel makes this the perfect place for that nice hot bowl of ramen (or unidentifiable soup) for a possibly edible meal.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Personally, I’m suspicious of high ratings, but I can’t find anything wrong with this battlemat! It is beautifully rendered. DramaScape has, as usual, done an excellent job of sizing the segments across multiple pages. The pieces go together seamlessly. This product includes square-grid, hex-grid, and gridless version of the diner, complete with kitchen, storage area, bar, main corridor with booths, and an optional add-on bathroom.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
This map has captured the grungy feeling of a greasy-spoon diner blended with the high-tech props that might be expected at a starport. The coloration is an urban grey cast, with a lot of thought put into the placement of the features. The booths have a nice solid wall separating them, which is a nice touch when the plasma weapons come out and people need a place to dive for cover. As a bonus, the PDF has an amazing 360° dynamic panoramic view on page 6 that lets you rotate an image of the diner in Adobe Acrobat Reader for a full view from the perspective of someone standing near the bar.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10
I’m going to combine this with DramaScape’s excellent SciFi Bars when I run my next science fiction game. SciFi Diner is a perfect place for whispered conspiracy in the booths, or a frenzied firefight down the main corridor. This product comes with great instructions. If you want this to last forever, I suggest that you decide which white edges to keep so that the pieces can be held together, laminate the pieces, then use non-permanent double-sided tape on the white edges so that everything is properly held together. Alternately, you can cut off all the edges and just butt the laminated pieces together using transparent tape so that nothing shifts or stains when enthusiastic players jostle the table during the blaster battle.

Overall: 10 out of 10
SciFi Diner is a fine addition to your science fiction gaming, and another quality piece from DramaScape. The design and rendering of this diner is excellent, and you’ll have fun using it for your futuristic adventures.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SciFi Diner
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The Secrets of Adventuring (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/28/2013 20:47:32
The following pre-release review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30768.

The Secrets of Adventuring offers a host of new insights and options for your characters to make your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game feel new again! The sourcebook brings you new tools to help you create the type of character you want to play without breaking the game.

OVERALL

Now for this review, I am breaking formatting protocol intentionally. (To the inevitable serious displeasure of my Editor)

But! I do this because, this sourcebook may or may not be published when this review debuts. Currently, this product is being pre-ordered in a bundle setup via Cubicle 7 Entertainment (at the Paizo Webstore) which means for one price you get both the PDF and printed copy. The copy I received is only the PDF copy, so I did not get the opportunity to review the printed copy. I state this, to let my readers know that I am reviewing simply on the content and the digital format and that the printed item may vary, but probably not by much.

Also, this review will be incredibly long, so before you dig in, I wanted to give a short version of my review for those who are still on the fence about buying this product or not. That being said, here we go!

Overall, I think this book has wonderful things to add to the Pathfinder RPG System. But those of us who are used to the traditional formatting of RPG books, may have a little trouble navigating it, which could frustrate some. Also, the price of the book for the content that you receive may make you wonder what you paid for, but don’t be deterred (please note that prices of printed books from Cubicle 7 Entertainment are set by Cubicle 7 Entertainment and not the publishing studio). If you are looking for material to add to your classes and campaigns in 2013, this is definitely a product to consider investing in if you like what you read in my review below.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: The layout is clean and simple. Someone has been reading my reviews, and the bookmarks are spot on! Which makes navigating this rather big book a lot easier! The entire format is done in black and white which will be nice if you plan on printing it out. The artwork, while nice, is rather huge and sometimes takes whole pages and adds to the page count. But it’s done with the mission that it separates sections and chapters, which I can also appreciate.

Ease of Mobility: The downside to this product is that digitally it’s HUGE! So transferring and navigating through mobile means is incredibly cumbersome. Now granted, this digital product is formatted for print, so I won’t hold it against them too hard, but it would be nice to have a formal version and a mobile-light version for those who buy the bundle pack. Another thing I should mention, that if you are a Paizo diehard, and are used to seeing your books in an organized format such as classes/archtypes, feats, traits, spells, etc, this book doesn’t quite have that format. They are all lumped together with the main class, which makes navigating through for one specific item a little harder. With the bookmarks in their proper place this time, it significantly makes this a lot easier.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
My big thing about this product is that it is being advertised as something that “Enhances the game, without breaking the game.” But frankly, after looking at all the feats, mechanics, spells and archetypes, this product is built to break the game. A plain cleric or gunslinger from Paizo’s designs in comparison to the options provided here are seriously different and in some cases ruin the mechanics of the RPG. Now this isn’t a bad thing, but it’s something to consider if you plan on mixing the options between a Paizo core class and these core classes. Overall it’s not a terrible product, but it’s hard to make the two of them sync.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
Now this subject takes a little bit of a hit. So this product is currently at press time valued at $34.99 and being sold as a Print/PDF bundle. But $35 bucks is a little bit of a high price for a product that is mostly a compilation of a lot of works they have already published. Perhaps if there were pregens or other options that were added on to give a little more new OOMPH! to the product, I could see the price tag being that high. Granted, you have printing costs, but I’m still seeing a price gap. (Again, the pricing is set by Cubicle 7 Entertainment and not Rite Publishing.)

Now if you have some extra cash to spare and you are a fan of Rite Publishing and their class options, then this is something you should consider getting. It’s not a terrible product, and if you haven’t already committed to some other big 3rd party buy-in (Yes, I’m looking at you Pathfinder Online Kickstarter Supporters..) then this is something to take a look at.

Overall: 8 out of 10
Overall, this isn’t a bad product, it’s a good product. But this isn’t a cheap product, so make sure that when you get ready to purchase this product, you have the cash to drop. If not, I would recommend waiting until the PDF-only option becomes available.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of Adventuring (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Dread Captain Miraxa, Queen Corsair of the Slumbering Sea (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/27/2013 08:06:36
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32275.

Faces of the Tarnished Souk meets Pirates of the Caribbean in the best possible way. Dread Captain Miraxa would add all sorts of swashbuckling goodness to any seafaring campaign. On dry land, while still effective, she isn’t nearly as cool. Miraxa is a bit of a departure from the normal fare for the folks over at Rite Publishing, in this case the risk paid off.

OVERALL

It wasn’t just the fact that Captain Miraxa was a pirate that made this product stand out from the usual stable of characters that comprise the Faces of the Tarnished Souk, the amount of ancillary information included in this supplement made me want to take to the seas with much quickness. The information about Miraxa’s ship was great and there is some really good source material here.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Not much new to say, Rite has the brand established for the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series and between the borders of the pages, the clear typeface and even the cover art, anyone looking for the products know what to look for. The cover art was good, not great but good and I knew I was looking at Miraxa right away. The stock art in this supplement was hit and miss as it normally is. Fortunately there is pirate stock art out there; however most of it is not geared towards fantasy settings. While historically accurate in the real world, most of the art felt wrong for this setting. Some of the art would be great for a game like 7 seas, but not here.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Because the folks at Rite Publishing went a little out of their comfort zone with this product, you would think there would be growing pains, but there were not. The rules for the use of Horrifically Overpowered feats need to be read several times to really make sense; in fact I found it best to read them out loud to myself to ensure I got them right. Even with the personal need to re-read those rules several times, in the end they make sense and what do you expect from a feat that is horrifically overpowered. Rite Publishing took the time to give good solid explanations for the magic items and weapons that are included in Dread Captain Miraxa, and these weapons and items feel much more alive because of it.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
I actually believe this product has as much, if not more, use in other settings than it does in the Tarnished Souk. I understand there is a sea and interesting things happen there, but where this product would really shine is a purely nautical campaign. The good captain fits quite well in this setting, but boy imagine having to deal with her on the Sea of Fallen Stars!

Overall: 10 out of 10
The inclusion of information about Captain Miraxa’s boat combined with interesting weapons and magic items would have made this product good enough. Captain Miraxa is unusual (even for the Souk) and her cold blooded (pun intended) approach to her business makes hers a ship I would not want to pass in the night. This is a great product and even if you are running a game that has nothing to do with the Tarnished Souk or the Coliseum. Buy this product it will not leave you lost at sea.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Dread Captain Miraxa, Queen Corsair of the Slumbering Sea (PFRPG)
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Dark Waters Rising
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2013 14:09:53
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32079.

Catastrophe strikes the frontier village of Swallowfeld! With a grinding groan, the town’s mill slews into the Kilian River and breaks through the ceiling of an ancient subterranean dungeon. This accident frees a long-imprisoned evil to prey upon the shocked townsfolk. When several Swallowfeld residents—some innocent and some not so innocent—are spirited away into the rapidly flooding dungeon, it falls to a brave group of heroes to venture underground and rescue the missing before dark, rising waters seal their fate.

Reviewers Note: I have done my best to keep spoilers down to a minimum. But if you plan on playing this adventure, please do not read this review to prevent the terrible curse known as “meta-gaming”.

OVERALL

This is a no-stress, no mess adventure that you can drop in and out of your campaign/game night with little to no prep as needed. It is indeed a very fun adventure worth it’s weight in gold (in and out of game!)

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: The layout of the adventure is done in the traditional Raging Swan Press style of minimalist black and white. While it’s not a bad thing, it kind of irritates me. When you look at an adventure, you want there to be some color, you want there to be some life and energy in the adventure that makes a GM want to run and a player want to play. With the format, the way it is, it’s kinda… Unexciting… But it doesn’t take away from the adventure in the same respect as well. It’s just something to note for those who are used to full color adventures.

Ease of Mobility: The file is light and easy to manage from mobile to print. The plus side of minimalist formats is that they are ink friendly.

Maps: The maps are simple and light. Easy to draw for those who hate drawing maps, but if you wanted to blow them up and print them out, that can also be arranged quite easily.

Storyline: 9 out of 10
Plot Development: The plot of the story is pretty linear–Bad stuff happens to a mine, and the party needs to go down and not only save the innocent people who are still trapped down there, but in the same respect they need to destroy whatever is down there causing bad things in the mine. Although the plot is pretty linear, it’s still a great adventure! Ron Lundeen is one of my favorite adventure writers in Pathfinder Organized Society Play.

Pacing of Story: The pacing of the story is rather quick and rightfully so due to the nature of the adventure. It always has this sense of urgency, but it does leave a GM time to add in roleplay before and/or after the adventure as needed. If you want to expand from there, you also have that option.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
NPC Interactions: The NPC interactions are a little flat, but there is room for a GM to expand upon them and make them memorable. If you have charismatic characters, I would recommend fleshing them out a bit, as they can be quite fun!

Encounters and Rewards: The encounters are appropriate to the level, and leave a good amount of a challenge for those who are combat oriented. The XP is fine, and the treasure is a little lacking. GMs can make up for that by dropping their own special items.

Overall: 9 out of 10
For Players: Dark Waters Rising is a great adventure for players who like crawling through dungeons and discovering the many secrets this city and area have to offer! The possibilities are endless and you will have no problem going where and doing whatever you want.

For GMs: If you are having a campaign dry spell, or looking for a new location, Dark Waters Rising definitely helps with that! You can run it standalone and have a good time, or you can add it into a campaign or even expand from this one adventure alone!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Waters Rising
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SciFi Bars
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/22/2013 08:23:19
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32451.

Grab your blaster, plasma sword, and deflection harness! It’s time to hit the cantina or, better yet, that nice place at the other end of town where they serve Xentaxian Ale! SciFi Bars is an excellent battlemap for those nights on the town at the local starport. You can easily use this battlemap for classic sci-fi adventures, or for mystery scenarios where the characters encounter futuristic landscapes. The main focus of this battlemap is the high-tech entertainment environment, combined with features that support all sorts of tactical options. What players get is a set of two 48 x 30 inch full-color floor plans of futuristic bars.

OVERALL

SciFi Bars is an excellent map, allowing the players to have a complete sci-fi bar experience in two completely different classes of establishment. It is complete, even down to the toilets and toxic waste drums! I’ll definitely be using this in my next sci-fi run.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
DramaScape has done an excellent job of sizing the battlemap segments across multiple pages. This product includes a square-grid, hex-grid, and gridless version of each location. The pieces go together seamlessly. If you want to have this battlemat last forever, I suggest that you decide which white edges to keep so that the pieces can be held together properly, laminate the pieces, then use non-permanent double-sided tape on the white edges so that, once assembled at the table, everything is properly placed. Alternately, you can cut off all the white edges and just butt the pieces together using transparent tape so that nothing shifts or stains when players knock their drinks over in their haste to blast away at the bad guys.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
This map has perfectly captured the grungy feeling of a lower-class starport cantina for the first location as well as the clean, high-tech feel of a classy establishment for the second location. The coloration is vibrant, with a variety of well-crafted terrain features.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10
I’m using this in my next science fiction game! SciFi Bars is the perfect place for a some high-tech hijinks. I’ve already laminated and assembled the nastier cantina, and will soon have the classy circular bar ready for adventure as well.

Overall: 10 out of 10
SciFi Bars is an excellent addition to your science fiction gaming and another quality piece from DramaScape. The designs of both establishments are excellent, and the creators have a perfect grasp of how to put together an excellent product for futuristic adventures.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SciFi Bars
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