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#30 Evocative Vehicles (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/04/2013 21:35:36
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30550.

30 Evocative Vehicles is 18 pages, and has thirty vehicles. There are ones for air, water and land. There are a few other special vehicles such as a Zephyr, and hot air balloon called Skydancer. It is currently available online at DriveThruRPG for $0.99.

OVERALL

I think it is a fair supplement. But there is nothing there that is making me go, “WOW! I have to buy this!” Also, with a good number of vehicles that are already a part of the Pathfinder PRD, (which is available for free) there isn’t anything new or unique that makes me personally want to buy the supplement, even with it’s discounted price. But if you are looking for something outside of the Paizo box, this is worth considering.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: The layout is clean, simple and standard as all things with Rite Publishing and their 3rd party supplement lines. The artwork is public domain which means it’s not super amazing, but it’s not terrible to look at either.

Ease of Mobility: The file is easy to transfer and download. Scrolling is light and easy, and printed it looks quite nice and elegant. The bookmarks are a little hit or miss due to the formatting, but it’s nothing major that can deal break the product.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Mechanically the items are sound, and quite adequately written. The history sections of each item is definitely great if you are a GM who is bad at writing histories and back stories of items.

Value Add: 4 out of 10
I hate to admit that I am not a fan of this product. But I am not a fan on the grounds of the product not having any actual uniqueness about it. After reviewing “The Way of The Samurai,” there is just no excuse for this product being as flat as it is. I know it’s harsh, but the market is already flooded with tons of products that are similar to this, and each product has to stand out from its competitors. This product does not do that, which can be quite the disappointment to those who are fans of Rite Publishing or those who are looking for more interesting flavors for their campaigns.

Overall: 7 out of 10
This product sounds appealing and if you are looking for some small flavor, then at it’s current price, buy it by all means. But there are many of us who, when it comes to value for money, will find this item quite disappointing. Now, it’s not the worse product ever, it’s just not something I will be flocking to buy right away.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Evocative Vehicles (PFRPG)
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Solar Echoes Player's Guide
Publisher: Corefun Studios, LLC
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/01/2013 15:26:07
The following review was originally written at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30510.

Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is the base handbook for the Solar Echoes core mechanics and a very high-level overview of the setting in terms of the history that has led to the setting’s present day and a look at the different character races. Everything else is core mechanics only, giving the player everything they need to play in an adventure or campaign. While not saying it outright, Solar Echoes is a space opera setting whereas the player characters are explorers or warriors of some type that travel the stars along with a host of others.

Solar Echoes utilizes a roll-over dice pool system whereas a player rolls a number of d6′s equivalent to the character’s base stat and adds any applicable modifiers (including those from skills) in hopes to meet or exceed the given target number. (Opposed rolls use a dice pool where the only the highest die rolled is considered.) The target numbers are fairly static meaning that as a character progresses, they do get better because the target numbers don’t continually increase. The base dice mechanics are very simple and straight-forward. Base attributes are determined by character race and then players choose the skills their character is going to have. There are no character classes and players are free to create whatever character type they want, given the inherent flavor of the character race. The game does include a number of recommended archetypes to help players get started.

As stated, this Player’s Guide provides all the basics and core mechanics. Outside of that and you’ll have to get the Mission Controller’s Guide.

OVERALL

Solar Echoes is a decent space opera system. I can’t say much about the setting as there is little information here in regards to the setting. The combat system utilizes an integrated turn sequence whereas the players and MC act upon and react to each other going back and forth without slowing down. It can definitely keep the game moving better and keep players from getting bored. However, there are a lot of mechanics and it almost seems as though there are too many situations attempting to be discerned in the core mechanics. In other words, too many modifiers for too many situations means too much memorization or constantly referencing back through the book.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 6 out of 10
Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is a decent publication. The layout is smooth enough, but I was quite let down by the artwork. Each chapter has a two-page piece of artwork leading into the chapter, although none of them seem to pertain to what that chapter is about. Yes the artwork looks cool, but it has little to no meaning to the system or setting. While the cover art looks excellent and really draws you in, the large color pieces inside are let downs. The artwork in the character creation and equipment sections look awesome, and the rest of the artwork should have followed their lead. I also found a problem with all of the sidebars – none of them seemed to be legible. Either the font wasn’t right or they weren’t placed properly, but I really couldn’t read any of them without squinting.

The content formatting, however, was fairly bland; most of it read like a Power Point presentation. Each section has lots and lots of crunch, but there is very little narrative to either fully introduce the section, describe the mechanics, tie the mechanics to the setting or to other mechanics, or to simply give the reader something to read. There was definitely too much crunch and not enough narrative, and the setting doesn’t come through outside of History and Character Creation.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
The base mechanics are interesting enough, but suffer from bloating in some areas. Although the character creation part is streamlined and the skills are kept trim, combat and talents are a bit much. The talents all seemed to be oriented toward combat leading to characters that may be useless outside of combat or at least the game falls short on exciting non-combat encounters. Additionally, a lot of the mechanics carried too many situations for penalties or bonuses whereas too many situations are trying to be compensated for instead of keeping it simple and consistent. Combat, while interesting and designed to keep everyone involved all the time, has a lot of fiddly rules that seem more like a miniatures war game than a role-playing game. All of the combat mechanics appear to be written exclusively with the use of a square-grid battlemap, otherwise they may break down. To me, this could slow things down. I would have preferred to see all the mechanics as trim and streamlined as character creation and skill usage.

Desire to Play: 6 out of 10
The core mechanics for Solar Echoes present an RPG that is interesting and unique. However, the setting information within this Player’s Guide does not; it completely falls flat and fails to present the player with enough information to immerse themselves within the game’s setting. If you want to try something new whereas combat is designed to be more interactive and presents itself as a grid-based system, then Solar Echoes is a great place to start. However, there is very little setting information and you would have to get as much out of it as you can or want to.

Overall: 6 out of 10
Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is obviously a great place for players to start should they be getting ready to play a Solar Echoes adventure or campaign. You’ll have to rely on the MC to provide additional setting information (hopefully) from the Mission Controller’s Guide, but you’ll definitely have no problem making a character. You may have some difficulty plowing through the combat mechanics during the first few sessions, but having a chance to act and react back-and-forth from PC to NPC can make for some excellent game sessions and you may find yourself preferring the integrated turn sequence over the basic initiative system.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Solar Echoes Player's Guide
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for the honest review of our Player's Guide. We looked into the issue you brought up regarding blurry text in our “Flavor Text” boxes, and realized on some computers the resolution of these images was not as sharp as intended. As a result, we have corrected this by uncompressing the file to produce optimum clarity—we had wanted to keep the file size smaller for everyone, but agree that the text was slightly blurry in some instances due to the compression. Regarding your comments on setting, a lot is detailed in the flavor text boxes throughout the book, but we have also now added some of the setting material from the Mission Controller's Guide into the Player's Guide in the History section. As for mixing rules text with setting text, we had decided against this because we want players to be able to quickly find the rules they need to keep the game moving. The Player's Guide is intended to provide players with everything they need to create a character, buy equipment, and jump right into the game with an understanding of the rules. Yes, we do use a battlemap grid system for squad combat, which is a familiar method of gaming used in many RPG's. However, we step away from this for our vehicle combat, using a simplified, abstract system that frees players up from using a grid to conduct exciting battles. We believe these systems are well-suited for a tactical combat game. We hope that everyone enjoys the updates we have made to the Player's Guide, and welcome your reviews. Thank you for your thoughts on Solar Echoes! Andy Mitchell, Corefun Studios
#30 Staves (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/31/2012 20:53:09
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30288.

So why stick with that plain old staff your character has been claiming is just a “walking stick” for the last ten years when you can get something more? #30 Staves, provides a new avenue of new staves that makes your characters more unique and awesome.

OVERALL

#30 Staves is a part of the #30 Series that Rite Publishing has published to give players a new unique option for the staff. With books and movies like The Hobbit bringing staves back in to geek and gaming fashion, this is definitely one of the things that is worth looking at.

RATINGS:

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: The format of the supplement is simple, clean and consistent. The artwork is simple and lovely. I would have liked the art to be labeled so that way I could line up which one represents which stave, but it allows them to be used in different forms. The bookmarks work well, and the layout is easy to read. I personally like the note of introduction that is presented adds a little personal flavor which I always like.

Ease of Mobility: The file is small, which makes transfer to mobile quite easy enough. The pages are easy to move through and the bookmarks are quite easy to work with.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Mechanically, it’s sound enough. One of the things that gets me is that all the staves are of Wondrous Item price and style, which makes them impossible to purchase, unless you hijack a bank or have a GM who likes to give stuff like that away. Although I assume that it is the point, it would have been nice to see some staves that are affordable.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
As a supplemental item, it holds it’s own, and the items are unique and different. But there is nothing that makes me go “WOW! I have to buy that!”. So it dings it for me, but isn’t something that is considered a deal breaker in the value of the product.

Overall: 10 out of 10
This is an item that is definitely worth looking at. It’s priced fairly as a PDF, and could definitely make for great additional items for GMs and players who are looking to spend their hard earned loot.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Staves (PFRPG)
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Way of the Samurai (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/27/2012 14:58:45
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30016.

The Way of the Samurai is a whopping 52-page book quite loaded full of options to expand the Samurai class.

OVERALL

The samurai class is one of the quieter classes of the Pathfinder system. But for 3rd party publishers, this is one of the most expanded upon classes. Rite Publishing however, has taken the expansion of the class to a whole new level, which makes the class that much more awesome. Add to the fact that if you intend to utilize the Kaidan Campaign setting that Rite Publishing has developed, you can’t go wrong with picking this item up!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: The presentation of this book is well done. The bookmarks are well done, and the artwork is incredibly impressive. Although most of it is public domain, you can tell they did a great job in choosing very delicately what they wanted to showcase, and it was quite impressive indeed. If printed, this would look magnificent, and I would definitely purchase it printed for any campaigns in which I would utilize it for.

Ease of Mobility: It comes in at 38MB, which means it’s a little bigger than what Rite Publishing does normally. But in size, they make up for in layout and presentation. I am wondering if they do have plans to print this one eventually, for it would make a great addition print wise into any campaign setting as well as their own that they are working with. Navigating it though is a little bit of a challenge on tablets and E-readers due to size. The bookmarks in place make this a lot easier, but if you are looking for something specific via search , it’s quite a bit of work due to the size.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
There are no major issues with the mechanics of the archetypes, traits or feats. I am not a big fan of the Honor system, since Pathfinder already has Hero Points in place that can do the same thing. But it’s not a deal breaker in the grand scheme of things. Also, the clan building stat blocks are a little confusing at first, but if you take your time and read it, it’s a nice little addition – it takes it’s cues off of the Kingmaker Adventure Path and makes things easier to understand.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
There is so much stuff here, that it will last quite a long time! Even if you don’t play the Kaidan campaign setting, there is still a good number of items that make expanding on your normal Samurai even better. What impresses me is the price. For $6 you get a book that normally you would see for $10 in the industry, if not more. So Rite Publishing has definitely won my heart in the “affordable publisher” category for 2012.

Overall: 10 out of 10
The last few reviews I’ve had of Rite Publishing have been a little blah. But this is a product that not only do I mind giving 10 out of 10 for, mechanically and on item presentation. But this product is something that I actually plan on using in my newest campaign that I am writing. It’s a product that if you plan on utilizing for Kaidan and/or your own personal games, you will have material to last you for quite a long time.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Way of the Samurai (PFRPG)
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101 Bard Feats (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/24/2012 16:12:07
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30011.

101 Bard Feats is 26 pages of new options so that the vision you have of your master of lore and song can easily be obtained and explored. It offers support to all of the class archetypes from the Animal Speaker to the Street Performer. It also offers the options of gaining some of these feats through the versatile performance class feature and making use of your rounds of bardic performance as an expendable resource, as well as expanding upon the role of bard beyond being an artisan, but embracing its role as a master of charm and lore. It is currently available for $5.99 at DriveThruRPG.

OVERALL:

For me, this is a great expansion of the bard class. If you are looking for more options for the bard class, this is definitely a great option to make available at a campaign table. Personally, I don’t play bards, but there are definitely a lot of people who do, so this is definitely something for those who play “resident bards” to expand their creativity and flexibility depending on the campaign.

RATINGS:

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10

Presentation of Layout: The presentation is very simple, clean and easy to read. Bookmarks are a little hit or miss, but not so bad that it makes navigating impossible, or will frustrate the person who is looking for something specific.

Ease of Mobility: The file is small and under 10MB. This makes it easy to navigate, and transfer back and forth from computer to mobile. It’s easily to scroll via tablet as well.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Mechanically, there are no serious rules issues. But if you plan on using feats from this add-on, be sure to double check that they don’t counteract with other rules in the Pathfinder RPG system. Some of the feats can actually work against a Bard’s build if not put in proper application. Also, as I say with all 3rd party material, make sure you show a copy to your GM before you implement it so the GM can give you approval.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
101 Bard Feats adds a lot more versatility to not only archetypes that are already in place in Pathfinder, but if you are building a custom bard, definitely adds flavor. The price is also right for the item and the information that you get for it.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Overall, the presentation is nice and simple, it’s got a good wealth of information and options for bards and GM’s who are looking to spruce up the bard NPC’s that a party may meet along the way.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Bard Feats (PFRPG)
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Heroes of the Sea - Savage Worlds
Publisher: Modiphius
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/21/2012 17:48:44
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30113.

Heroes of the Sea is the follow-on campaign module for Acthung! Cthulhu, Zero Point campaign. This particular version was written for Savage Worlds using Realms of Cthulhu from Reality Blurs. Acthung! Cthulhu is set within the midst of World War II taking the action in Europe and giving it a Cthulhu Mythos twist. Heroes of the Sea even incorporates the Dreamlands into the campaign.

OVERALL

Having previously read through the first campaign module using Call of Cthulhu, I find Acthung! Cthulhu lends itself much better to using Savage Worlds than Basic Roleplaying. As an action horror setting and not just an investigative horror setting, the pulp-like features of Savage Worlds help to enhance the action-like features of Acthung! Cthulhu without subjecting the characters to the restrictions of character strength like Basic Roleplaying (due to things like Bennies, Edges, and the ease of rolling over a TN of 4 with higher die types). Not that I don’t like the setting combined with Call of Cthulhu, I just like it a lot more when combined with Realms of Cthulhu and the Savage Worlds core system.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Heroes of the Sea is a wonderful looking publication, albeit a bit slow at times when reading on a handheld device. The layout looks fantastic, the fonts are easy to read, and the general formatting is excellent. There is a lot of great artwork and maps.

Storyline: 8 out of 10
Heroes of the Sea has a good storyline that does an okay job of developing from beginning to end. A lot of additional storyline information could be added or at least additional elements of the surrounding activities could be added throughout the development of that storyline. At times I felt the storyline was progressing too quickly and would have liked too see additional Dreamlands information woven into the that developing storyline.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
The entire Acthung! Cthulhu campaign (so far) is an excellent action horror gaming experience. The PCs are thrown directly into the mix of World War II but from a very localized aspect instead of the war as a global feature. In other words, the war is going on all around the PCs, and they have to continue with their efforts without getting caught or killed. It’s a great collection of action with a layer of the Cthulhu Mythos over it. However, it should be noted that the Cthulhu Mythos is not the centerpiece of the series (at least so far), but rather an integral part of everything going on. Thus, the war is as much a part of the campaign as the mythos.

Overall: 9 out of 10
The Acthung! Cthulhu campaign is developing very well so far. The modules are nice and small (not page length, but in focus) considering the grand aspect of being surrounded by a war. In other words, you’re not trying to save the world or stop the war, you are simply a small group of special ops doing specific jobs behind enemy lines.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Heroes of the Sea - Savage Worlds
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Epoch
Publisher: Imaginary Empire
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/20/2012 20:17:50
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30327.

EPOCH is epic! This is more than just a role-playing game, in that it is also a new kind of narrative tool with the power to improve your storytelling and role-playing in general. EPOCH is a cooperative game, meaning that the players and Game Master work together to weave a quality horror story. It is a contemporary horror game, but the elements of the game can easily be ported to other genres.

This review was delayed by a considerable margin, much to the chagrin of my Chief Editor, for a very selfish reason. Upon reading the book and assembling the cards, I gathered some players and began to play . . . and play . . . and play.

We played the Tension Phases, in which drama is built up and invoked. We played Challenge Rounds, in which some characters survived and those who ran out of the right sorts of cards perished in a particularly entertaining and horrific manner through total mental collapse, death, or something much worse. We cringed. We laughed. We voted for the most interesting character, who received a card back that had been played and therefore had a better chance of surviving the total game. These games went on. Addicted, we played more. So it went.

You’ll notice that certain keywords in this review are capitalized. These correspond to major categories of cards. This game is played with cards – lots of cards. There are no dice involved. Cards drive the narrative progression. Cards define your Relationships, be they Colleagues, Friends, Family, or Strangers. Cards are used to portray your Traits, Strengths, and Weaknesses – and you get to keep them secret until you use them in the game.

When you run out of certain cards, the opportunity to role-play a quality doom is upon you. Scream. Throw yourself on the floor and have a fit. Cower in a corner, whispering strange nonsense. Die poetically, or badly – it’s your choice. Think of any horror movie you’ve ever seen. EPOCH lets you enter such a story and play it to whatever extreme your creativity permits. As a horror game, it allows three possible Outcomes, using a tool known as the Horror Track: Defeat, Hollow Victory, or Total Victory. The more points the characters score as they work through the story, the better the outcome.

OVERALL

I have been enthralled by EPOCH. This is a totally new way to run a role-playing game and is extremely satisfying. EPOCH is also educational, and the mechanics force a cooperative structure and atmosphere that can enhance the play of other role-playing games as well. Get it.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
This rating will improve to 10 out of 10 as soon as a professionally-rendered print-on-demand set of playing cards is available. As a PDF product, the graphics, type, and structure are excellent. Full sets of cards are well-rendered and everything you need to play is presented in an excellent fashion. The different types of content are visually separated, and the progression of information is well-formatted. I found that assembling my deck of cards took quite a while. It was well worth the work but, being a lazy sort dedicated to instant gratification, this took some effort. To our great fortune, Imaginary Empire is planning to release a print-on-demand EPOCH card deck in 2013, along with two sci-fi scenarios and an additional volume with optional rules, additional scenarios, and advice on constructing your own storylines.

Until then, here’s a helpful hint: print the PDF cards using “actual size” rather than “fit to printing area”. Use a good thick paper 30 – 50 lb stock. Cut the cards out carefully towards the inside edge of the thick black lines. The fronts and backs can then be slid into clear Ulta Pro 54 mm by 80 mm Board Game Sleeves. These can be found online in packs of 50. Get two packs.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The mechanics are laid out systematically and the breakdown has been structured in a way that makes the system easy to grasp. There is a one-page overview sheet that shows the structure of the entire game, complete with page references for immediate review. EPOCH is a different type of game, so there is much to learn, and this has been structured in an excellent fashion.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
The only reason this isn’t a 10 rating is that EPOCH is very different from most games in this genre. There are some players who might rebel against the lack of dice in a purely card-driven system. There is very little room in EPOCH for the admittedly popular adversarial relationship between the Game Master (GM) and the players, so there may be certain players who might not be able to adapt to this extremely different narrative approach.

Overall: 9 out of 10
In conclusion, EPOCH has already improved the quality of my own role-playing and story-telling. I have complete confidence that it can do the same for you. Give it a try.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Epoch
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101 Featured Alternate Racial Traits (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/17/2012 20:29:15
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29407.

101 Featured Alternate Racial Traits is small sourcebook that focuses on a small set of racial traits from Paizo’s Advanced Races Guide. It gives players more options to expand and customize a character’s racial traits which can thus expands a character’s uniqueness.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: What kills me about the presentation is that it could have been done so much better. The bookmarks in the PDF are rendered useless due to the fact there are two races per page. They had enough text and art to easily give each race a page without too much white space waste. Instead they slapped on the artwork at the top of the page and did a continuous flow of the text instead of taking the extra time to give each race a page of it’s own. To me this looks like either a deadline crunch or laziness. If you are going to charge $6, then take the extra time and do the layout right. However, at its sale price, you can overlook that. This layout makes looking for a specific race a little more cumbersome and defeats the purpose of having PDF bookmarks. The artwork is nice and not too heavy, I especially like the artwork that comes with the Undine race.

Ease of Mobility: The file is easy to view and transferring to mobile devices is easy and without major issues. The file is a nice small size, and with the simple layout presentation, zooming in an out is a breeze. There are bookmarks, but they are somewhat rendered useless due to how the layout of the information is done. Rite Publishing is good with making layouts that are easy to load and somewhat navigate, and if you needed to print any pages out, it wouldn’t burn too much ink. If you plan on printing this as a source guide, either as a player or as options being the GM, it will look pretty darn nice.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
Mechanically, there are no major errors in 101 Featured Alternate Racial Traits. I dislike that it has alternative racial ability score options, but they aren’t overpowering. One of the things that also kills me about this product, is that they took only a few races from the Advanced Races Guide. I was expecting to see something for Orcs and Tengus and possibly even some of the more uncommon races. But they skip those two, and do away with all the uncommon races period. I feel like this is product is incomplete, because I was expecting all of them, but they were not there.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
Although I feel all of the races were not featured in this product, this is not to say the racial traits provided are not good and viable options. There are quite a lot of options available for all players and GMs for building memorable NPC’s. The product also takes advantage of skills that many races or classes may not carry and allows players to customize as necessary.

If you are going to highlight a chapter or a section of a Paizo product, especially one with notoriety such as Advanced Races Guide, then you should make sure you take a section and do all of them, not just pick and choose. Mechanically to me, this is not “Racial traits except Orcs and Tengus”, so to leave them out is a little bit of a minus point to me.

Overall: 8 out of 10
This isn’t a bad product, it is a very good product. But as a GM and a player, layout and presentation of information is everything. I have to be able to access what I need as simply as possible, in the most efficient format possible. Add to the fact that there are two major races missing from and it makes it hard for me to give it a higher score. I want to really love this product, but it really is the small things that keep me from loving it more. However, for the sale price, this is a product worth taking a look at and adding to your repertoire if it works for you. I would buy it, but make sure that my orc and tengu players know there is nothing here for them.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
101 Featured Alternate Racial Traits (PFRPG)
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The Observatory
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/14/2012 15:03:43
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30121.

The Observatory is a fantasy-styled observatory with a design that I think resembles Renaissance styling. The map consists of two floors plus a roof (The location of the telescope). Throughout the interior floors is a very decorative design on the floor with no shortage of inscribed runes. An armillary sphere serves as the centerpiece and a scattering of work desks can be found. Overall, the effect is one of arcane mysticism combined with the beauty of the room creating a masterpiece showcase for any fantasy scholar interested in searching the cosmos.

OVERALL

The Observatory is a simple yet intricate battlemap whereas you get a couple of large open spaces sparsely consumed with furniture and a highly-decorated floor with an incredible amount of detail. As with many other DramaScape products, it’s the details that make the big difference.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The Observatory is a dodecagon-shaped building that cuts across nine pages for each floor. The edges get a little funky due to their relative size, but using the centerpiece armillary sphere as the center “tile” makes construction across those nine pages much simpler. Thus when you layout the entire battlemap, the highly decorative centerpiece is not cut across those pages. Additionally, the map comes in square, hex, and no grid.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
The Observatory is a beautiful map with an exquisite amount of detail. The alignment of the wooden floor is not always perfect, but the textures are beautiful and very lifelike. The decoration of the first floor and all other little details throughout (such as the large number of runes) make the map very visually appealing when looked at as a whole.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
The Observatory is obviously a very niche battlemap. The very open floor plan may seem a bit too open for some, but others may opt to fill it with other goodies or use as a great place for an interesting encounter. A map such as this can easily be used as a source for plot ideas within an adventure or campaign given its uniqueness and a wonder of who’s observatory it is and what are they looking at? Maybe they’re attempting to call down horrific creatures from distant planets and are locating them through the use of the telescope!

Overall: 9 out of 10
The Observatory is a great and unique battlemap. Its use can easily spark a number of interesting plot hooks and possible storylines, although it may not fit within too many settings given its design. If you’re running a Renaissance themed fantasy adventure, this can easily be a showcase piece for your setting as its styling really fits that “look and feel.”

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Observatory
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10 Luckbringer Magic Items
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/10/2012 20:15:54
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29493.

10 Luckbringer Magic Items showcases ten items that can be used for Rite Publishing’s original Luckbringer class. Each one of these items can also be used with non-Luckbringer classes. This is currently available for purchase at DriveThruRPG for the price of $.99 cents.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10

Presentation of Layout: 10 Luckbringer Magic Items is a great product with a nice layout and the information is well presented. It would look rather lovely printed out and is short, sweet and simple.

Ease of Mobility: It’s easy to load and simple to page through. There are no bookmarks due to the small size of this product. It transfers easily and causes no major hangups.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Mechanically, there are no major errors. But there are a few items in there that are quite overpowered and rather cheap to purchase. Now granted, most campaigns make it really hard to find magical items in their games because it is supposed to be a treat. But the items are built more specifically for the original class, which if you choose to play, would be rather helpful. Outside of the class, it’s okay.

Value Add: 7 out of 10
These are good quality items usable for a Luckbringer character. But outside of the class, it’s not something that could enhance game play, especially since there are so many other items in the Core Rulebook and Ultimate Equipment that can aid the Luckbringer class and are quite affordable on the in-game coin purse.

Overall: 9 out of 10
This is a great product; it’s nice and light. It’s great if you play in a campaign as a Luckbringer, but primarily for outside Pathfinder games it can get really overpowered rather quickly. So if you are the GM, use them as special items found after a special big battle as part of a treasure hoard! For .99 cents, it’s worth getting!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Luckbringer Magic Items
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[PFRPG] Shadowglade: Game Master's Guide to Shadowglade
Publisher: Neo Productions Unlimited
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/06/2012 15:27:47
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29637.

*SPOILER ALERT* If you are going to be a player in a Shadowglade game, do not, I repeat DO NOT read this review of the Game Masters guide: buy it and don’t touch it until after that game has ended, but buy it anyway!

Shadowglade: Game Master’s Guide picks up the intentional slack left from the Shadowglade: Player’s Guide. Yes Nate Peterson and crew actually lied to the players in the player’s guide and what players might think is the truth is very far from it, how cool is that? This Game Master’s Guide tells the real story of Shadowglade and how things really run, not what the Player’s Guide would lead the players to believe.

d-sworn enemies made as the surviving nations have begun to rediscover their roots. Out in the wilds and darkness, however, not all that lurks is friendly…or human…or even alive. The history of Shadowglade is one shrouded in mystery and uncertainty. The ruling nations and popular churches and inquisitive souls have documented what little history they could, however, in an attempt to ensure the ravages of time could not scour what little they knew ever again.

The Game Master’s Guide to Shadowglade is a supplemental setting for Pathfinder containing a human-centric world that focuses on below 10th level play. There are three core products that support this setting including the Player’s Guide, Game Master’s Guide and Basic Bestiary but several more are in the works or have already been released. The Shadowglade Game Master’s Guide has all of the tools a game master needs to take their players through a wild romp within the Shadowglade setting.

OVERALL

What this game lacks in dynamic cover art it more than makes up for by uncovering the authors brilliant deception during the course of the Player’s Guide. Yes Nate Peterson used common sense and decided to let the players believe one truth while the game master knows the real truth, well played sir, well played.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Nothing has changed between the Game Master’s Guide vs. the Player’s Guide. The cover art is still uninspiring, and the interior artwork still looks like it was lifted from a Dragons Lair type video game. The fonts and text are still crisp and this, like almost every other RPG book, uses the two-column format. The only real difference between this book and the Player’s Guide is that I think there is actually less art and because the content is so outstanding, it actually might be a slightly better product. I was disappointed that the Game Master’s Guide did not include a map.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
The E10 setup for this game is really smart, it doth smell of D&D 4th edition, but I like the way Mr. Peterson and crew dealt with it. I am focusing on the E10 concept because it is really the major mechanical factor making this game standout. There are things like Supernatural Points as well as traits and defects, which are setting appropriate and a few of the old standbys. The E10 setup focuses on what I call the sweet spot in gaming, by level 10 you have some really cool powers but a combat turn doesn’t take 3 hours. There are rules to support game play after 10th level and they seem balanced and fair. The lack of most arcane spellcasting classes may turn many folks away from this setting, but sometimes it is good to be forced to change things up a bit. I like playing non-standard races and there really isn’t much room for those in this setting, again the change of pace should be welcomed not a deal breaker.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
This is how a Game Master’s Guide should be written. I love that the Player’s Guide is actually deceptive. This Game Master’s Guide is succinct and full of useful information, while still addressing rules support. While it contained more charts than the Player’s Guide, it didn’t feel like a simple collection of charts with a few pictures. Sometimes less is more and this is a svelte GM guide that does what it sets out to do.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Even with racial and class restrictions, Shadowglade is still a wonderful setting. The player’s and game master’s guides are wonderful examples of blending meta-game and in-game concepts. The fact that the players guide does not provide meta-game data is done really well. Most GM guides are full of charts and tell GMs how to run a game, this GMs guide actually gives the GM the truth about the world and presents a bird’s eye view of what is going on. There is more information that could have been included in this setting, but I know that will come out in more supplements. The sub 100 page GM guide is a great way to provide the necessary information without getting too deep. The differences between the truth in the Player’s Guide and the actual truth as revealed by the Game Master’s Guide alone make this a product to be reckoned with. This GM guide really reveals what is behind the shadows in the world of Shadowglade.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Shadowglade: Game Master's Guide to Shadowglade
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Dungeon Dressing: Statues
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/03/2012 14:55:54
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29488.

Dungeon Dressing: Statues, is a product that specializes in an under-utilized object in dungeons: the statue. Something that most players walk right by, this small product helps bring a statue to life. Now whether you want it to really come to life or not is up to you!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: Raging Swan has a very minimalist format in their publications. If you purchase items from them, you should know that they don’t have heavy art or colorful layouts. But although they go small on the layout and art, they make up for it with the extensive amounts of information within the product. I personally, would love to see a little more color in their productions, but it’s not something that ruins the product. Information-wise, there is quite a lot of original and new information provided and done in a very efficient and clean way.

Ease of Mobility: The file is quite small and easy to transfer. It’s great to also see bookmarks that are done properly on an item as well. As a result of this minimalist approach, it’s easy to navigate through and is light enough to move around from mobile method to mobile method.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
One of the things that this product does well, is that it explains to the reader, the rules that are already in place concerning statues in Pathfinder’s rules mechanics. They also expand upon these rules and remind you of other things you can do with statues. Along with that, they come up with some new fun traps that can bring statues to life.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
I do wish there was a little more art but I understand the way Raging Swan Press works. Their art is more in the information they provide. This is a great addition to a GM’s toolbox, especially if they are looking for something to add a little spice to the dungeon.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Personally, being a card carrying member of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, I would love to see things like this in our actual adventures. To have statues that turn into traps, or even real constructs in a dangerous way is stuff that only 3rd party adventures can supply. This is something I look forward to utilizing in my future adventures both at the table and in my own campaign writings. Raging Swan Press once again shows us why less, many times, means more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Statues
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Sheriff's Office
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/30/2012 20:31:48
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29639.

Sheriff’s Office is a simple map depicting a simple building from an era where many buildings looked simple inside. If you want to match the western theme properly, then doing so requires lots of wood, open spaces, and simple decor. That’s what you get with the Sheriff’s Office map, a wonderful depiction of a western-themed sheriff’s office that really captures the look you would think of when picturing the interior of a western building.

Sheriff’s Office is a multi-part map set in that you get the battlemap, a Virtual Tabletop image-only, and a 360° flash file that gives you the ability to look at the interior from a 3-dimensional perspective. It truly is a complete package, even if you don’t need all of it.

OVERALL

Sheriff’s Office is a great western-themed battlemap with a good collection of holding cells, desks for the sheriffs, and a back room for whoever is spending the night. It has an excellent design in terms of the textures of the wood and is very convincing in terms of representing a western building.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Sheriff’s Office is a fairly small map and is broken up appropriately across its pages. This set does include the VTT and 360° versions as well, giving you additional options besides just the battlemap. All in all, it matches the standards established by DramaScape on all previous maps.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
This is really where the Sheriff’s Office map stands out. The wood textures are phenomenal and extremely varied across the whole piece. This gives the building a very natural look instead of using wood textures that look forced or are too cartoon-like. The map is also designed in that old western simplistic style whereas there isn’t a lot of furniture or clutter and everything is properly in its place and has a purpose.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10
If you’re running a western game or one with a western theme, this is an excellent map to add. There’s an endless number of NPCs that can end up in those cells and this could become the main stomping grounds for the PCs if they are acting as the local lawmen. Either way, it makes a great location to add to your western town.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Sheriff’s Office is a map with a definite purpose, and does that purpose quite well. You could use it for other means, but the design wavers outside of being used as a sheriff’s office. Thus if you are running a western-themed game and need a sheriff’s office, this is a definite must-have. Even if you don’t need a sheriff’s office, you can use this map to stage some type of important encounter as the big villain sits idly within a holding cell.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sheriff's Office
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[PFRPG] Shadowglade: Player's Guide to Shadowglade
Publisher: Neo Productions Unlimited
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/30/2012 08:30:19
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29596.

Players Guide to Shadowglade introduces us to a world that ended 500 years ago and has been reborn with a distinct lack of arcane magic. Divine magic is still around, but magic is generally a rare thing to be feared. Society has been slowly rebuilding itself, but when there are people involved, conflict is sure to follow.

Players Guide to Shadowglade is a supplemental setting for Pathfinder detailing a human-centric world that focuses on below 10th level play (E10). There are three products supporting this setting including the Players Guide, The Game Masters Guide and a Basic Bestiary. Settings for Pathfinder are a dime a dozen, however the Shadowglade setting incorporates some interesting concepts that allow it to feel unique without complicating the game mechanics.

OVERALL

This is what a players guide to a setting should be. Many guides follow the lead and style of a D&D type players guide and while that works for some, this guide is written with the idea that the information contained within is really attainable for player characters. Shadowglade is a mysterious world and this is the type of player’s guide a player could keep with them at the table and reasonably reference during a game without breaking the game with meta-thoughts.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Player’s Guide to Shadowglade looks good, not great; the sparse art has that cell-shaded feel that many people are using these days. For me that style still looks like screen captures from the Dragons Lair video game, but some people are really into it. The cover art is done well, but not evocative. The picture of the Gunblade revolver felt forced and inaccurate. There are no revolvers in this world, so why picture them? The font used is good and easily readable; the textured blue faux leather pattern that forms the background of the front and back covers is smart and simple. The “world map” looks great; it is minimal but effective. There is plenty of “white space” for an enterprising GM to “color” in. This book uses the standard 2-column format that most gamers are familiar with. The page borders are interesting without being a distraction.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
This setting doesn’t blaze a bunch of new or innovative game mechanics, but rather expresses its qualities in other subtler ways. The setting is designed on the tier 10 system. Put into simple terms, this means the primary focus of Shadowglade is to play below 10th level. There are suggestions and advice and simple, straight forward rules for running the game past 10th level, but the focus is 10th level and below. I enjoyed going into this setting knowing that it was designed as an E10 setting. I am not a fan of firearms in a fantasy setting, but their development makes sense based on the lack of arcane magic and the fact that the Pathfinder system has several firearms-based abilities and classes.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
Player’s Guide to Shadowglade is top notch when it comes to how it is written and information that is contained within. Shadowglade could be inserted on that mysterious continent that always seems to exist on any RPG world with almost no difficulty. Because of the restrictions on arcane magic, some class choices are limited, but rather than being a detractor I think this makes the system even more interesting. The rules in this setting make sense and with this guide most players can really make their characters come alive in an interesting way.

Overall: 9 out of 10
If you want to play an exotic race, Shadowglade is not the place to do it. If you want to reach 20th level, this is not the setting for you. If your entire gaming career is based on playing arcane casters, stay away. And yet I still give this product a solid, well deserved 9. This book seamlessly integrates game back-story with the realistic table-side implications of those rules. Player’s Guide to Shadowglade does a great job of changing its voice to reflect the world it is describing as well as what an everyday sword swinging adventurer knows. Stay tuned for my reviews of the other two core books from Shadowglade, but be warned, there will be spoilers involved with those reviews and I recommend you not read those reviews if you are going to be a player in a Shadowglade game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Shadowglade: Player's Guide to Shadowglade
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Classic Encounters Revisited: The Inn
Publisher: Wolf & Raven Games
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/26/2012 14:24:33
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29390.

Classic Encounters Revisited: The Inn specializes on the one common place of all games, the local Inn and/or Tavern. Or both, depending on what kind of world you build! Every world has its watering holes; those places where everyone knows your name (or at least one of your names). These are the places where characters plot their rebellions, conquests and adventures. The inn/tavern is the ultimate location where all adventures come to begin or come to end. Although the title states “Inn” this is a sourcebook that can easily be utilized in a tavern or pub, depending on your needs as a world builder.

OVERALL

If you have difficulty in creating custom inn and tavern experiences, this will definitely help in getting out of the defaults of D&D and Pirates of the Caribbean style inns/taverns. This book helps GMs think outside the box and have loads of fun while doing so! If you have players who like to create taverns, it’s also for them to learn whether or not they have what it takes to run one of their own. For the first official publication of K² Games, this is a great first product launch. But it is not without a few minor glitches that I share in my review. These small glitches however, do not seriously affect the awesomeness of this product, and for the small price of $3.00 for the PDF, it’s worth the minor glitches. I am happy to say, that this is definitely a company and a product that is going in the right direction. I recommend this product to all and I would love to see this item as a printed product. I look forward to seeing what this company will produce in the near future.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
I base my publication quality rating on two things: Ease of Portability and Layout Presentation of Information. The layout presentation is amazing, it’s all neatly and simply put together perfectly. It would have been nice if the section about creating the name of your tavern was up front. There are many players who pick the name before they even begin to develop the rest of the tavern, but that is a minor nitpick. The sourcebook keeps the art down to a minimum and there is very little white space being wasted. It is presented in a simple layout where GM’s can easily read it and if the GM needed to print pages out, they can do so in a way that does not burn excessive ink.

The reason this item is getting a low publication rating however is due to the ease of portability issues that it has. The file comes in at a whopping 81MB! Most apps on an E-reader or iPad are not even this size and I’ve seen other 3rd party publishers who have far more art and layout design, but still keep their file sizes down. This unfortunately means that downloading or transferring the file is not fast even on the fastest of download speeds. Moving from section to section in the PDF is even slower than molasses as a bigger result. The product is properly bookmarked does save time when moving from section to section, but only slightly.

When you are a GM, and you have to go from section to section when building an inn/tavern or on game day, it is an incredibly frustrating process. When I attempted to download this on my computer, it took quite a long time, and on my Kindle it was worse. I can understand a file of this size if you planned on printing this book or if this was a Core System Rulebook. But if you plan on purchasing this, and intend on using it regularly at your game table, go to your local printer and print it out. Otherwise expect a serious lag on your technology. (I personally call mine Ye Olde World Kinkos since they still have Fax machines and scanners.)

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Mechanically, there are very few major errors. The adventure doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of inn/tavern life, but if you are looking for a foundation in which you can create a custom ruleset based on whatever your players try to throw at you, this product does that. The stat blocks for the Innkeeper and his family are nice touches. Concerning the tables, they are incredibly nice, but you could do well without it if you have a GameMastery Guide or the brand new NPC Codex. But overall, the mechanics are sound for the system, and allow GMs to be as flexible as they need to be when in-game.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
One of the things I love about 3rd party publications is that they are able to do things that many major game systems cannot cover due to time or development restrictions. This is one of those products that fits the mold. Where you can take something that is already established in a system, and think a little more out of the box. The tables are a little more diverse than what you would see in the GameMastery Guide section of building taverns, but if you don’t have it, and don’t want to buy it, then spending three dollars to focus completely on inns/taverns is a worthy investment. You add the high resolution maps that come with the product and you definitely have a great return on your small investment.

Overall: 8 out of 10
Overall, this product is a great item for those who spend a lot of time building adventures around inns/taverns. The price is definitely affordable, and you get quite a lot for your money. What keeps this product from getting a higher score is the fact that it is rather huge and cumbersome to load and/or navigate through. In an arena where publishers are doing more on less, it is something that this new company will have to master, formatting wise, and figure out as they continue to publish more material.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Classic Encounters Revisited: The Inn
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