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Star Map
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/29/2012 15:39:59
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26494.

Do not be fooled by the cover, Star Map is not just a great looking tabletop for your outer-space miniatures war game. For with every RPG system or setting that embraces space exploration and travel, it is inevitable that combat will ensue. Ship-to-ship combat is difficult to picture when thinking in terms of distances. Ships are so far apart that scale is key. To make it visually easier to run that combat, a battlemap such as Star Map is a great tool to use. Whether its a miniatures war game, such as Noble Armada or Firestorm Armada, or whether you are playing an RPG that includes space combat, such as Fading Suns, Traveller, Rogue Trader, and some Savage Worlds settings, this set of maps allows the minds eye to better picture what is going on.

OVERALL

For what its designed for, Star Map is a beautiful representation of near space for the purpose of having a good looking map during outer-space, ship-to-ship combat. In addition, you can use the Virtual Tabletop JPGs as a backdrop to help set the mood in any spacefaring game.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Space combat with miniatures typically utilizes a hex grid. DramaScape stuck with the hex grid demonstrating the purpose of the map in addition to the gridless JPGs that are included. The three versions depicting just outer-space, a nearby planet, and a space station allow for quick options when you decide to place this on the tabletop. These versions also mean that you’re not just fighting in the middle of nowhere, your combat is bringing you precariously close to something you either aim to protect or destroy.

Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
Depicting a realistic outer-space is difficult enough. Star Map includes what is probably thousands of star depictions making feel as though you are actually in outer-space. The colorful nebulae make it that much better. It truly is a beautiful depiction of what you would see should you find yourself in a spaceship in outer-space. The space station looks great, although it could use a few detail additions, and the planet looks pretty good, albeit a bit fuzzy next to the outer-space design.

Desire to Use: 8 out of 10
Star Map does a great job of doing what it’s setting out to do. I would like to have seen it be bigger from a use on the tabletop stand-point for larger ship-to-ship combats, but as-is the size works well for RPGs and smaller battles.

Overall: 9 out of 10
I like the Star Map and think it can make a great centerpiece for any ship-to-ship combat. It could make a great exploration map and really has an appeal for space combat miniatures war games or RPGs with a good chance of experiencing space combat. The colors of the actual space map is incredible and the detail is second-to-none. An awful lot of time was spent putting those stars together…

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Map
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Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2012 14:40:23
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25950.

Cosmic Patrol is a storytelling game set in a pulp sci-fi setting. You may say that “aren’t all role-playing games ultimately storytelling games?” While this is pretty much true, Cosmic Patrol is solely focused on the characters and the story they create. How is this done? By removing the Game Master and giving everyone the chance to tell the story according to the plot hooks that are laid out for that adventure. This is a big thing as Cosmic Patrol is meant to be more of an improvisational game whereas all you know is a description of the adventure’s framework, but everything inside is determined by whomever turn it is to be the Lead Narrator (the one taking the head spot for that particular narration). The key here is that the Lead Narrator is also a player and also telling their own story in regards to the adventure’s framework. The end result is an experience in collective narration creating a game that is not only fun, but extremely flexible in terms of how you want the setting to look and feel.

The basics of Cosmic Patrol are to use building blocks and plot points to create the story, continue moving it forward, and give players and the Lead Narrator the chance to do something spectacular. These elements are done on a narrative basis using things like cues to describe your character instead of just abilities and skills. But when the dice need to roll, there are basic abilities to aid resolution (for things like firing a weapon). When the dice are called upon, it is a simple base die (d12 or your Combat Stat Die) plus the applicable stat die and modifiers. Using a progressive die system, characters’ stats are defined by the die type, increasing as they “improve.” This, however, is only when the dice need to be rolled for particular resolutions, otherwise everything is done in narrative. It’s a simple system and quite visual (you’ll have to read about the armor and health system as they really can’t be summarized).

OVERALL

Cosmic Patrol is a great blend of storytelling and dice rolling that focuses very heavily on the characters and the adventure they have. The removal of a Game Master and taking turns as the Lead Narrator mean that everyone involved in the game is fully involved and able to drive the story in new and interesting ways. The pulp sci-fi setting means that the sky’s the limit and you can really go any direction desired with a large amount of flexibility.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Cosmic Patrol is designed as a simple but pleasing book. The layout and formatting are very simple and there is little to no “flash” throughout. The art within only covers the different character types (PC and NPC), but provide a nice collection of flavor that really represents the genre. The book is extremely easy to read and the content flows quite nicely from beginning to end. I would have liked to see some pulp sci-fi art covering spaceships (because that can be a big part of the genre too), but what was included look excellent.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
Cosmic Patrol is a role-playing game and heavily leans toward storytelling elements. It does not focus on dice rolling outside of very specific situations and requires the players to be as involved with the game as the Lead Narrator. The removal of the Game Master means that the storyline could follow the adventure’s direction properly or end up somewhere in outer-space (figuratively and literally). The use of cues, objectives, and tags for this type of game-play is excellent for storytelling games, but what if you end up with a player that tries to take everything way off the farm? Sometimes giving everyone an equal amount of power can backfire, but with the right gaming group, Cosmic Patrol can produce hours of wonderful role-playing experiences and lots of great stories to be told.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
For those looking for a story-heavy role-playing game, Cosmic Patrol is an excellent blend of simplicity, flexibility, and narration. I feel that a story-telling game such as this works extremely well in the pulp sci-fi realm (given its inherent fantastical appearance and virtually impossible scientific feats), blending the game’s mechanics perfectly with the setting. Take this game into another genre, and it may not be as exciting, but pulp sci-fi really allows the mind to be as creative as possible. If you’re going to tell a story, this is a great place to do it without forcing the players to roll the dice or make mechanical decisions.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Cosmic Patrol truly fits in with the storytelling crowd. It will be interesting to see what directions the game takes in future supplements, but for now there is a solid base to start from and an excellent amount of material to get your games running. I can see these types of games being extremely popular at conventions and random gamer gatherings with its ease of understanding and the ability to provide flexibility to the players and the Lead Narrator without being bogged down in rules.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
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Floorplan Tiles
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/20/2012 14:10:54
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25670.

Floorplan Tiles is a collection of battlemap tiles of various shapes and sizes usable for constructing a castle or palace. Although it claims to be usable for creating a dungeon, the style and texture of the tiles is more akin to what you would find in a castle where things are clean-cut and designed to be shown off. The collection is quite vast and the tiles vary greatly in purpose from a square room to a stone walkway over moving water.

OVERALL

Floorplan Tiles is designed for maximum flexibility and positioning by only creating hallways when necessary but allowing the tiles to overlap in a way that the hallway can cut directly into the wall of the adjacent tile to form a new doorway. This means that more tiles can be created without worrying about creating separate ones for 1-doorway or 2-doorway rooms. Additionally, the doors are designed as actual tiles that can be laid atop the walls to present a doorway to an adjoining tile. The end result is a lot of tiles with specific purposes (such as the kitchen or private chambers) next to a lot of tiles that can be virtually anything using overlapping tile and included doorways.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Floorplan Tiles is an excellent collection of battlemap tiles with lots of flexibility. Some space could have been saved by not including so many replica hallways, but there are still a lot of different rooms and tiles that allow for a maximum amount of flexibility within the design of the finished product. Additionally, there are a lot of scenery accessories including doors, lighting, traps, and drains allowing you to finish off those empty rooms with your own design.

Visual Appeal: 8 out of 10
The floors and every little accessory look fantastic. I like the use of colors and the jumbled desk in the chamber room looks very cool. I don’t particularly care for the walls as they look a little flat and look too much like the floor. However, if you are building a multi-level castle, this is a great set of tiles to use to demonstrate how wealthy a castle should appear.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
Floorplan Tiles is designed for construction of castles, palaces, dungeons, and villages according to the description. The texture of the floor and the walls are not conducive to that of a dungeon. They’re more like a basement would be if it was truly an extension of the castle above. This is due to the smooth, marble-like effect of the textures on the tiles. With that in mind, this rating is based on using the tiles as what they appear to be designed for: castles and grand palaces. You wouldn’t want your castle battlemap to look rough would you? So go in style with these tiles and show off how a true king would construct his abode.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Floorplan Tiles is an excellent collection of tiles for constructing the home of nobility or royalty (or whoever runs the land). There are tiles for many types of rooms in a medieval style including a vast kitchen with heaps of meat on the butchers table. These tiles are truly a work of art and can be a great centerpiece to any fantasy adventure.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Floorplan Tiles
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Inked Adventures Square Dungeon Tiles
Publisher: Inked Adventures
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2012 15:10:35
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25668.

Square Dungeon Tiles contains a collection of 31 hand-drawn tiles plus a collection of scenery options in a single, handy collection. The tiles use a common grey-stone floor texture along with a darker grey-stone/brick wall. The entire thing is hand-drawn and uses perspective and shadows to represent walls and stairs. To avoid visual boredom, the floor stones are “textured” in a way that makes them feel much more “realistic”.

OVERALL

The collection of tiles is enough to sell you on the Square Dungeon Tiles kit, but the addition of the scenery options truly seals the deal. With these options, you can add real doors, remove hallways from the tiles (or add a secret door), and add other bits and pieces to make the assembled dungeon more appealing. The hand-drawn style look beautiful and the method of shadowing and “texturing” the floor really helps keep it from looking static and boring as if all the stone was smooth and polished. All in all, it is a great collection for a great price when you want to set your explorers into a dungeon using a battlemap.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The size consideration of these tiles works very well. Each tile is essentially 8×8 with the edges actually cutting down the middle of the last squares, allowing them to meet-up with adjacent tiles. More importantly, the wide variation from tile to tile means you can add a lot of different rooms.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
The hand-drawn style truly gives it that old-school appeal while remaining clean and clear for the non-OSR fan. The use of shadows on the tiles and stairs give a sense of depth while the perspective of the walls clearly define the height of those walls. The design of the doors also enhances the visual appeal of the set as a whole, providing a sense of the types of wooden doors you’d expect in a dungeon.

Desire to Use: 8 out of 10
Square Dungeon Tiles is an excellent collection for building dungeons. The addition of the scenery is fantastic although it could probably use another page or more variety (although you can get these from other Inked Adventures products). I would like to see more room dividers such as archways or something rough leading into a cave or cavern. In addition, all the hallways are 2-squares wide, although this is fairly standard. It is common to create dungeons that have varying sizes of hallways such as 1-square or up to 4-squares wide. A very minor thing and doesn’t really detract from the overall usage.

Overall: 9 out of 10
If you’re going to design an old-school styled dungeon crawl using a detailed battlemap that spans multiple sessions, Square Dungeon Tiles is one of the best tile collections you can get. The price is extremely reasonable and you get a lot of options aside a beautifully hand-drawn design. It should be noted that you also get a set of tiles that allow you to create a flexible-sized room in 8×8 chunks.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Inked Adventures Square Dungeon Tiles
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Shadowrun: 2050
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2012 16:22:23
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25327.

“Back in 2050 we needed Decks to access the matrix, none of this technomancer crap you ‘ve got these days.”
“Grand pa, whats a Deck?” Shadowrun 2050 takes runners back to the good old days when cyberware looked like cyberware and runners like Captain Chaos and The Laughing Man were the talk of the streets. This historical setting takes the roots of Shadowrun and converts them to the 4th edition rules. So dust off your deck making skills, jack in and enjoy the retro ride.

OVERALL

I have played every edition of Shadowrun and this book really brought back the memories, some not as good as others. Seeing the 2050 date made me want to go out and buy 30 more d6s because I knew I would need them, until I saw that these were 4th edition rules, then I thought “cool I’ll only need about 15 more d6s.” Seeing the names of long forgotten runners and reading about their exploits was a real treat and if you are a fan of Shadowrun but feel like the current timeline has gotten a little corporate, then this is the book for you.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The folks at Catalyst Game Labs went old school on this one, but they did it right! I remember some of the old art in the previous editions and while it worked well in mostly black and white, it really pops in colors. The covers blue/black/green color scheme looks great, expressing the grit of the setting. Seeing people with “decks” was a real eye opener. The table of contents followed in the normal Shadowrun tradition with a few welcome additions. The dark page borders with the techno symbols was a nice touch, I’m not normally a huge fan of dark borders, but the green hues of the actual pages contrasted nicely with the border and create a product that is easy on the eyes. This is a text heavy sourcebook. There is some great art that really ties it all together. I was disappointed that there were not more pictures in the equipment section and that there were no maps of the cities covered. I know those maps are available elsewhere, but this book could have really used them.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
When you play Shadowrun you need a bunch of d6s, there is just no way to get around it. Having run the gambit of the rules sets I think 4th edition is the most streamlined to date. I was worried about the re-introduction of matrix surfing decks as I remember spending hours of out-of-game time working with my GM to build and upgrade my character’s deck. With the 4th edition rules, this appears to be a much less arduous process. I still feel like some of the game’s rules are too heavy, but overall I’m satisfied. It was interesting to see how the new rules set actually interacted with some of the old concepts and surprisingly they worked well.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
For people who played Shadowrun back in the day, this product will be a real treat. If you have only played the latest edition, this product might be less useful. As a historical reference for games run in the current timeline this book is great. It serves well as a historical setting, but its limited appeal to people who didn’t play back in the day combined with its cost greatly narrows down the target audience for this product. The Hiring board section was genius! The Hiring board was well thought out and is an adventure seed for Shadowrun games from all editions, because let’s face it a run in the shadows is a Shadowrun!

Overall: 9 out of 10
Shadowrun 2050 is a great looking product and a real treat for people who crave the feel of Shadowrun of yesteryear. The information provided in this book is extensive and I loved the Hiring Board section. In fact, I think it should be part of all new Shadowrun products. The lack of maps and equipment pictures was a great disappointment; I really think these additions would have shown people who have never played the older additions just how much times have changed in the world of Shadowrun. Catalyst Game Labs is a top tier game company and this product is another example of how to use resources for good, not evil. This one isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t take a smartlink to tell me that this will be a hit with its target audience.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 2050
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Scions of Evil
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/06/2012 20:45:16
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=25138.

Scions of Evil is a collaboration of many creative minds from the Raging Swan Press stable, a compilation of thuggery and villainy fit for all levels of play. With a staggering collection of stat-blocks, back-stories and brutal bad guys and gals–browsing the depths of this rather sizable collection one is sure to find compelling foils and antagonists to suit a given campaign.

OVERALL

Scions of Evil is, simply put, a massive collection of antagonists rife with crunch and flavor alike; from minions and fodder to full-on organizations, the spread of creativity and challenge ratings presented throughout make for a robust library of adversaries for adventurers of all levels of play–and foils for more storied plots as well. While primarily Scions of Evil is a compilation of previously released Raging Swan Press supplements under the same vein, a considerable amount of potent bonus material is included with some seriously wicked and powerful foes; that aspect coupled with having everything collated into one well-organized package makes this supplement a fantastic resource for expanding upon adventures and campaigns or building the foundations of the same.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan Press is well-versed and practiced in the editing room–and their high standards remain present here. Formatting largely adheres to a clean two-column layout, with a staggering number of stat blocks and reference points for game mechanics presented in a fashion that is concise and easy to work with. Additionally, plenty of artwork is interspersed among the many malicious individuals throughout the supplement–and finally, the PDF is thoroughly bookmarked, a must for navigating such a large compilation. Printing this beastly collection would be an endeavor, but the product is nevertheless printer friendly beyond being quite voluminous. Very well done on the whole.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
In execution, the crux of Scions of Evil is coupling the clever and cruel with sound crunch by way of well-made stat-blocks–and in this regard, the supplement is a fine sum of its parts. There is certainly a distinction between different challenge levels–as generally speaking, minions and low-level miscreants are somewhat limited in the complexity they can be afforded while high-level villains have much more flexibility in this regard. That said, one of the things that I have traditionally enjoyed about the component products of this collection is that even ‘simple’ foes are presented with variety. For example, in the stead of just generic ‘goblin’ minions, we have four flavors of goblins: adepts, with a smattering of magical talent, raiders, scouts–skirmishers with tanglefoot bags and champions, tougher and better-equipped than most.

Villains arrive with an even more robust offering, presented with varying additional material such as adventure seeds, encounters (e.g. possible combinations of a given villain minions with encounter level), lore for adventurers to unearth, tactics for battle and plot hooks. Some of the entries also include GM notes with suggestions and advice for running a particular villain–and throughout the whole of Scions of Evil, each of the named adversaries also come with their own back-story, of course.

While the staggering spread of stat-blocks overall are solid and competently crafted, the higher level villains are definitely my favorites when it comes to raw mechanical crunch. Gahlgax Atarrith (who appears for free in Pathways magazine #16 if you’d like an example stat block) is a vampiric balor fighter and servitor of Orcus who arrives at a whopping challenge rating 23–and to make facing him all the more daunting, he is presented alongside ‘Swords of Orcus’–graveknight marilith antipaladins (CR 21 themselves) who pack a considerable punch. It’s foes like these that would make excellent opponents for high-level adventuring parties–and could also fit well into grand campaigns such as the Slumbering Tsar Saga by Frog God Games.

Others among the villains present similarly potent combinations. A Memory of Allwinter is an awakened demilich druid (CR 19) with wicked signature abilities; Vaerosk Ixuzygax is an aasimar half-fiend antipaladin (CR 15) and so on. From liches to witches, barbarians to balors–there is a breadth of bedlam-wreaking adversaries to machinate grand plots, orchestrate schemes and place adventurers in perilous predicaments; as suggested at the beginning of the product, one could approach the progression of power levels as a wheels within wheels sort of endeavor–a ruthless rabbit hole through which a party follows a trail climbing through the ranks of an evil organization along the way.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
It’s hard to go wrong with Scions of Evil when it comes to bang for one’s buck; the library of ready-to-use stat blocks alone are legion (135, for those keeping score) and the collected back-stories and pre-made organizations can suite a broad range of levels of play from low to high plateaus of adventuring. While there are certainly plenty of fairly straightforward foes throughout the product, the presented ‘persona’ villains are cleverly written and boast personality–and the methods and machinations these foils and antagonists could bring to a given campaign are well-realized and often inspiring. Adventure seeds, plot hooks, info-gathering lore and combat tactics all serve to add extra shine to the villains and personas–providing much flexibility for tailoring each into an existing story.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Scions of Evil is an impressive product, formed from the union of a number of Raging Swan Press’ already released and well-written GM resources. A collection of the works of many authors, this supplement is more than simply a compilation–re-organized, polished and presented in a fashion which serves as a powerful workshop for flavorful foes. It would have been simpler no doubt for Raging Swan to simply offer a discounted bundle of the prior products–but between the bonus material and the re-alignment of the material gleaned from each, Scions of Evil stands well on its own.

For one who may have already purchased the various components included in this compilation, re-acquiring them here may prove less desirable–but the added content is quite solid and I feel that having everything neatly organized in one source is a value unto itself. Whether perusing in a pinch to drop-in devious variations on simpler adversaries (spice up that pack of gnolls, goblins or kobolds with those of different roles, etc.) or pored over to plan a grand over-arching network of continent-spanning villainy, this supplement can serve as a powerful resource in any GM’s collection–and is one that I would definitely recommend picking up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scions of Evil
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Castle Ruins
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/31/2012 15:19:30
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24708.

Western Castle Ruins depicts an extremely ruined castle, with essentially very little left of its former glory, and a dungeon dwelling underneath. It has a very generic style allowing you to use it virtually anywhere a castle would be fitting. As it is a completely ruined castle, you could even use it in modern or near-future settings as an unexplored set of ruins formerly buried under years of weathering or in a remote location that hardly sees travel. In other words, you can use it for much more than just fantasy.

OVERALL

Ruined castles can be excellent plot hooks given the immediate number of questions that arise. Who owned the castle? Was their a village nearby? Who lives there now? Is it haunted? What stories can these ruins tell? And more importantly, what can we find within its dungeon? This is definitely the style of battlemap that invokes numerous possible hooks for your adventure. You could even throw it down and let the PCs create this castle’s history.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
DramaScape does a great job of dividing up their battlemap sections from page to page. This helps to retain the understanding of what each page represents by not cutting the map in important locations (causing confusion when looking at on-screen and during assembly). As always, there is a square and hex grid for both the ruined castle and the dungeon. The only difficulty I had with “piecing” the battlemap together is figuring out exactly where the dungeon connects to the ruins above.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
Western Castle Ruins utilizes from beautiful textures with no shortage of broken rocks and random overgrowth. The dungeon has an excellent unused feel to it showing that it too has aged since the castle once stood. Rounding off this battlemap is a good-looking grass texture that has the feel of being able to grow wildly for many years if not centuries.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
If you’re looking for a ruined castle with some underground secrets, this is a perfect match for what you’re looking for. The only thing that could be added to improve its usability is a way of connection other possible branches (or even caves) to the dungeon below ground. Not that this would be very difficult, but it may require a larger room that lacks as much detail. However, the ruined castle is still a perfect representation of what it’s trying to be and the dungeon is an excellent way of expanding the possibilities for what lurks within the ruins.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Western Castle Ruins is a great battlemap combining the ruined aspects above ground and the “what may be lurking in the dungeon” underground. The castle is completely ruined, so if you’re looking for more of a recently destroyed castle, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a ages-old castle that was destroyed and has weathered significantly, then this is a perfect choice.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Ruins
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So What's The Spellbook Like, Anyway?
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2012 15:37:21
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24646.

So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? by Landon Bellavia serves as another sister in the series of ‘So What’ supplements, this time bringing about an open invitation into libraries of grandeur. Whether elaborating upon and imbuing detail into the prized possession of a villainous wizard, populating an ancient arcane study, or even simply seeking to add progressively more intriguing nuances to an adventuring arcanist’s most precious of possessions–the many tables and reference resources herein embark to bring so much more to the scene than ‘You find a spellbook, here are the spells in it.’ Let’s crack the arcane lock, dodge the lightning bolt and summoned spiders and see what’s inside!

OVERALL

So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? is a compelling assemblage of a la carte wonder which wizards and their ilk everywhere are apt to want to get their hands on. Details abound, both clever and bizarre–easily scaled for as much or as little elaboration one is apt to present with a given tome. While the writings and tables herein are ready for random rolling, I feel the real treasure comes in tailoring together stylish and intriguing thematic tomes–and with the nature of the material’s presentation, even players of spell-slinging adventurers could find much inspiration for their personal book. If you’ve ever been disappointed by spellbooks serving as tear-away pages of spells, this one might once again make such tomes a more exciting find!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan’s high standards of editing and formatting ensure that the work here is solid and accessible. A clear two and three column layout presents tables and information neatly and is interspersed with nice black and white artwork of tomes; as well, the PDF is well bookmarked for easy reference and the whole should prove very printer-friendly. No complaints here!

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Utilizing So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? will depend largely on just what you’re aiming for–as there are thirteen sections altogether with different tables and functions for detail. If one is keen to put together an ancient and venerable compilation penned by a legendary wizard, the results could easily span a paragraph filled with great detail–while likewise, there are tables present to accommodate quickly generating lightweight books with their spell contents and cost ready to go at a moment’s notice. Much comes down to simply deciding on degrees of detail–particularly since several of the tables presented could apply multiple times to a given tome.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
More than just a collection of random tables, I feel that this supplement could serve as a powerful spellbook construction kit–and in that regard, could be enjoyed by GMs and players alike. Throughout each section are a great many interesting and inspiring offerings both curious and evocative–and really, entertaining to piece together to boot. Because of the scalability of the sections presented, the material is well-suited for everything from fashioning a villain’s iconic volume to outfitting a worldly adventuring wizard or filling out an arcane library with multiple treasured tomes on short notice; the flexibility is considerable.

Overall: 10 out of 10
So What’s The Spellbook Like, Anyway? is an imaginative and well-realized endeavor which author Landon Bellavia has clearly crafted with care. While the supplement can work wonderfully for constructing a random spellbook on the fly, my feeling is that its true value is in offering a great variety of options whether behind the screen or not–it is a fantastic resource which can serve as a toolkit for GMs and players looking for inspiration. I made several spellbooks running the full run of the supplement to see what might result and was entertained and pleased with each–they’re liable to show up at the table before long. For something as iconic as a wizard’s spellbook, scribing nuance and history for such is an excellent goal for added flavor in a given campaign. My hat is off to Landon and Raging Swan both–this is definitely a supplement that I would highly recommend.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's The Spellbook  Like, Anyway?
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Chaos 6010 A.D. Core Rulebook
Publisher: Arcanum Syndicate
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/13/2012 15:12:50
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24257.

Chaos 6010 AD is a unique system and setting placing the characters in the midst of an alternate future of earth in the distant future of an apocalyptic event in 2206. The basics of the setting are that after this apocalyptic event, chaos consumed the planet and threw humanity into another dark age. The apocalyptic event, a massive asteroid that this the planet, created a link between Earth and other dimensions, allowing beings of chaos to pour out. Portals then opened allowing elf-like “cousins” into the world to hunt down the chaotic beings. From here, humanity’s “playground” opened up and a number of new galactic races have been encountered. However, Earth stills seem to be a shattered planet.

Chaos 6010 AD utilizes a roll-over system where the dice being used are dependent upon a character’s stat or attributes and comparing them to a somewhat static target number based on difficulty. Oddly enough, the character levels rise in number to the nth degree bringing the characters from lowly humans to dang-near supernatural levels. A bit much but can produce some epic campaigns.

OVERALL

Chaos 6010 AD is an interesting collection of mechanics and themes that can create a very unique experience. There is a lot of fantasy elements to mash with your sci-fi and throw this all into a dark version of Earth’s future producing a setting that requires a lot of survival skill. There are definitely a lot of options to keep your characters alive, but if they die, there are mechanics to continue their career. All in all, it’s a lot different than most settings available with mechanics that embrace epic game play.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 5 out of 10
Chaos 6010 AD is a decent looking book but loses marks for some overwhelming visual issues. The art is pretty good with smattering of pieces that are really cool. However, the layout is inconsistent and at times very non-functional. Throughout the book the layout changes from 1-column, to 2-column, to 3- column and back and forth. Sometimes there’s 1-column with a large illustration next to what could be a 2-column format. Sometimes the illustrations are within the 2-column format but not always well-placed. Some of the headers look awkward and there’s even times when the charts are in such a small font that you can hardly read them. Inconsistencies like this really detract from the quality of the book but at least it’s backed by some good illustrations.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
The mechanics for Chaos 6010 AD are pretty good, although I don’t understand the need to bring them to such a high level. I like systems that allow for character definition through bonuses (values) and penalties (flaws), although I typically prefer them to be simpler. At times the mechanics felt bloated such as the large number of skills which can easily be consolidated and a core rulebook with too many options. Core rulebooks should be designed with the necessities in mind to avoid overwhelming new players. There’s almost too many character races and classes along with too many types of magic. The system, however, seems to be designed for epic-style play such as you would see in a movie or comic book, and the mechanics really embrace that. From a theme stand-point, the mechanics appear to do what they intend to do.

Desire to Play: 7 out of 10
If you’re looking for some truly epic-styled playing in a sci-fi setting, then Chaos 6010 AD has a lot of great features. If you’re looking for something simple or a quick-start, Chaos 6010 AD will probably not do well. This game is made for those who like to play lengthy campaigns with characters that are given a ton of options for customization. The setting could use further fleshing out, but that can be easily remedied in future supplements.

Overall: 6 out of 10
Although the term “too much” could probably be used here, Chaos 6010 AD is all about long-term games and lots of character options. The higher you go, the more epic your game play will be. Chaos 6010 AD is a lot like epic fantasy in that the game-play is continually turned up through the levels and your characters become more and more epic as they go along. It’s a very cinematic style of sci-fi and if you’re in to that, then take a look at what Chaos 6010 AD can offer.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Chaos 6010 A.D. Core Rulebook
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MARS: Savage Worlds Edition
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2012 15:27:21
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24255.

If you enjoy the planetary romance genre as envisioned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, with a bit of H. G. Wells “War of the Worlds” tripod action thrown in, you’ll have fun with this product. All of your favorite people and creatures are here, whether red, green, white, or grey. This is a collection of all the best tropes in the genre along with some new perspectives, set up to deliver some serious Savage Worlds fun.

OVERALL

I enjoyed MARS and found many worthwhile things that could be used in various genres. One of the strengths of Savage Worlds supplements is that the materials can easily be ported over into other environments. In eight chapters with a 192 page count, the planet and its history are presented very well. Character creation, player character races, gear, setting-specific rules, a gamemastering section, a five-part Plot Point campaign, and an excellent bestiary fill this book with quality content.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The production quality is excellent. There are several grammar and spelling issues which could have been avoided with some more extensive proofreading, but this is only slightly distracting from the otherwise rich content. There is a lot of “white space” which makes the content seem light for those used to very compact formats, but the art and content are very good.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The new Edges, Hindrances, and Setting Rules presented in this volume integrate well with the core Savage Worlds rules, and they provide an excellent extension that serves this genre well. The rules for creating new character races and species are particularly useful.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
The planetary romance genre is well-represented and the materials can easily be used to spice up Savage Worlds games in completely different environments. The pricing on both the hard-copy and PDF editions is at the higher end, however the content probably justifies the investment.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Overall, this is an excellent addition to the Savage Worlds RPG and will permit the players to have a rollicking good time on Barsoom. One interesting thought might be to mix elements of Mars: Savage Worlds Edition with Pinnacle’s excellent Space 1889 – Red Sands setting, just to give the British Empire a bit of a challenge. Mars: Savage Worlds Edition is well-supported with a series of supplements available at RPGNow.com, including Blood Legacy of Mars, City-States of Mars: Korium, Face of Mars, Minions of Mars, Rebels of Mars, Sell-Swords of Mars, Sky-Tyrant of Mars, Soul-Thieves of Mars, and Warriors of Mars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MARS: Savage Worlds Edition
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So What's the Hoard Like, Anyway? III
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2012 14:04:58
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=24048.

So What’s The Hoard Like, Anyway? III by Ben Kent brings this line to a high-level close, a collection of ready-made and flavorful finds for high-level adventurers (15th through 20th level, in fact) to purvey, appraise and plunder as hard-won spoils of battle. If after a long and glorious campaign you find yourself feeling a bit tired of turning to randomly-rolled baubles and trinkets to hand-wave away at straight gold value, the third and final entry of the Hoard series from Raging Swan Press could be just the ticket to really spice things up and catch your players’ eyes–containing the sorts of treasures which inspire their collection rather than simple sale!

OVERALL

So What’s The Hoard Like, Anyway? III is an imaginative and thorough resource for adding flavor and style to the spoils of higher-level encounters; with each ready-designed to suit mechanically for per-encounter loot at each of the five levels covered herein, every encounter can reap something new and interesting–while the flexibility is also there to tweak or combine hauls for truly memorable hoards after climactic showdowns as well. If you’ve ever tired of trying to inject life and intrigue into randomly rolled finds, you owe it to yourself to check it out–these levels of play are when cool treasure matters more than ever!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan rarely disappoints when it comes to editing and formatting–and the final installment of the Hoard series is no exception. Clear two-column layout work is supplemented by nice black and white artwork of treasures along the way in a clean presentation; as well, the PDF is nicely bookmarked for easy reference and the lot should prove very printer-friendly. No complaints here!

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Mechanically, So What’s The Hoard Like, Anyway? III is very straightforward and easy to work with: each of the five levels of loot covered herein are organized into twelve caches of interesting prizes. Every hoard included has been ready-calculated to be of an appropriate overall value for a single encounter at its level (e.g. the 15th level hoards average around the base value of 19,500 gp for a single 15th level appropriate encounter.) This value breaks down between coinage, gems and jewelery, objects of art or magical items in varying measures. A hoard could be selected at random with the roll of a twelve sided die or hand-picked at one’s leisure–and naturally it’s easy to combine sets for larger hauls after a particularly big battle if one is so inclined.

One of my favorite things about the hoard sets is that not only are they packed with evocative flavor–but many boast a cohesive theme among their contents. A great example of this is one of the collections with a draconic artistic direction which includes a platinum brooch of a dragon’s claw, an oil painting depicting a blue and silver dragon locked in mortal combat, an elaborate woven tapestry with near to a dozen dragons battling over a burning city, a set of crystal wineglasses with stems resembling dragon tails, a silver statuette of a dragon and a magical glowing falchion with a hilt of blue hide.

Together, this makes for a very cool set of treasure and just the sort of thing I could see players finding and going ‘Cool! We keep it!’ By the time you’re fifteenth level and beyond, one ought be collecting decor for the forthcoming floating sky-castle the party’s bound to commandeer. The magical items interspersed among the hoards are befitting the level of play they’d be found at as well, of course–and each is presented with descriptive text to make them a bit more than ‘just another ring of protection’ and so on.

I’ll also note that there is great ingenuity in presenting some of the objects of art as particularly challenging to -recover–the sorts of things that could leave adventurers pondering and bringing their cleverness to bear to retrieve their prize (such as a 6′x10′ wall mirror worth a handsome sum intact, but a tenth of its value in pieces.) This is an element I particularly enjoyed throughout the product–and anyone who has experienced one of those gaming moments where the party becomes -determined- to have the giant platinum monkey statue that was never intended to be moved might enjoy this element (and those who haven’t, ought!)

Value Add: 10 out of 10
I very much enjoyed the variety and flavor of the findings throughout the collections presented here–and with 72 hoards to choose from, the challenge in presenting such is appreciable. A few particular examples of treasures that I found quite cool: a crystal pitcher sculpted to resemble a pear tree with crystal goblets fashioned to look like plump peaches. A six-volume collection of leather-bound manuscripts dealing with the very beginnings of magic, as annotated by their original author. An amulet of natural armor which is presented as a small chunk of adamantine ore dangling from a steel chain. A BARREL of holy water bearing a holy symbol (400 pints!)

These are ‘typical’ to the treasures in the book here, a very fine par in my opinion; even beyond utilizing the lot of the findings herein as ready-to-go rewards after encounters, one could just as easily peruse the contents to hand-pick individually interesting goodies to custom-build an evocative hoard, decorate a lair, start plot threads or more.

Overall: 10 out of 10
So What’s The Hoard Like, Anyway? III stands out marvelously as a supplement for adding variety and wonder to any game at high-level play; Ben Kent has done a superb job bringing to life an impressive variety of wondrous treasures for adventurers to covet and cherish–and I could certainly see a great many of the finds throughout this product ending up as permanent fixtures in the homes of those same-such heroes. It would have been easy to make a product of this nature simply churning through random rolls to populate lists as a simple time-saver for GMs–but reading through this supplement it is clear that care was taken to ensure that everything read and felt compelling. In closing, I give the final entry in the hoard line a high recommendation–if you’ve a campaign at these levels of adventuring, it’s a must have for making the prospect of finding what goodies foes have hoarded away an exciting prospect again!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's the Hoard Like, Anyway? III
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Gobseck Vaultwright, Meister of the Golden Anvil (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/03/2012 15:56:10
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=23869.

Money talks and his vault walks! In the realm of dreams, money still has value and you can pawn your dreams. Gobseck Vaultwright sits atop a living vault that is filled with the hopes, dreams and gold of others. He sees no profit in fighting, but he will fight when it comes to protecting his ever increasing horde. Gobseck is not a Druegar to be crossed. He and his magic items can detect and smite cheaters from miles away.

OVERALL

I have rated Rite Publishing’s Faces of the Tarnished Souk very highly in the past, however Gobseck Vaultwright hits the reader with a level drain that might make Rite publishing fans cringe. This entire supplement lacked the spirit of many of the past additions to this series and ended up feeling more like a coherent collection of complex mechanics.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
For me this book’s cover was the start of a product that is below Rite Publishing’s standards. Does that mean it is a horrible product that isn’t fit for whipping my backside with, no way! Rite Publishing reads reviews of their products and if the suggested changes make sense they do it. While the cover illustration was well done, it is white on a black background rather than the penciled looking drawing Rite has used in the recent past. This product doesn’t look like part of the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series. Rite has used this drawing before and it normally works, but not in this case. I found a grammatical error on the first page. It could be a word agreement issue, but it just didn’t sound right, not a good way to start a supplement. The suit of armor depicted on page 4 looks like a regular photo with a grey filter placed over it. I’m glad they didn’t go with color on it, but it seemed a bit out of place. If it is a drawing I’m sure it is a great drawing. The pictures of the interior of the living vault felt like they were phoned in. I know it is stock art, but Rite Publishing had a chance to do something amazing with a great concept and failed. A picture of the living vault from the outside would have been epic, but I guess there just wasn’t any stock art to support that…. Rite is still doing a good job of branding some images with bits of information from other books and the reprinting of feats or templates is helpful and creates the “one stop shopping” experience GMs crave.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
Rite Publishing’s templates, while interesting, are overpowered; they need to develop more prerequisites to balance them out. I have tried to justify the whole these characters are high level, but with no level requirements of these templates, things could get out of hand really quick. Some of these abilities are like putting a cocked and loaded gun in a small child’s hand, something bad is bound to happen. Many of the mechanics in this supplement were good, but really crunchy, like crack your tooth crunchy. I’m not sure if it was because I got off to a bad start with this supplement, but as I read what some of the abilities and magic items do I tried to figure out how long a round of combat would take and how many calculations would need to be made to resolve that round if you were the GM running Gobseck Vaultwright, and I shuddered.

Value Add: 7 out of 10
There is some great stuff in this supplement, but much of it feels heavy. I can see the point of having a character like Gobseck Vaultwright, but outside of the Tarnished Souk he reeks of diminishing returns. There are some interesting magic items and abilities but they will require lots of paper work and the ability to do cool things becomes un-cool if those cool things become over complicated.

Overall: 7 out of 10
When you are producing top shelf products you are bound to have a bad batch and sadly for Rite this is that “bad batch” The character concept in this felt like the plot to a porn, kinda useless and a bit laughable. Big surprise an angry Druegar banker who was scorned by his one true love, so he dedicated his life to greed… The living vault is a really cool concept that kept this supplement from dipping lower in the standings. When on sale it is well worth the price, otherwise unless you are running a Coliseum Morpheuon game pass this one up. Don’t worry, Rite Publishing has plenty of other great products out there for you.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Gobseck Vaultwright, Meister of the Golden Anvil (PFRPG)
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The Raven Airship
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/01/2012 20:31:15
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=23166.

The Raven Airship is a multi-level ship (with “wings” for flight) with dock in the fantasy style. The wood is a rich reddish-brown and the battlemap includes the upper deck along with the lower deck. As an added bonus, the lower deck comes in two designs: one open and one with manacles for captives or slaves. Incorporating these two types means the ship makes perfect sense as a merchant ship or a pirate ship.

OVERALL

The Raven Airship is a beautifully designed airship and I especially love the two different interior options. The wood textures are incredibly life-like and features of the upper deck are amazingly well detailed.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
One thing I often find frustrating with ship battlemaps is when the publisher cuts the map down the center of the ship to lay it out across multiple pages. I always find it frustrating to properly visualize the map as a whole. The Raven Airship avoids this problem by placing the ship off-centered so that the middle is not cut by the page division, making some of the most important details that much clearer. Additional options to further customize the ship could have been included, but what’s there is already excellent and properly placed.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
If I could give this rating a 15, I would. The wood textures found throughout the airship are absolutely phenomenal. They look incredibly life-like and I love how they vary from plank to plank. In addition, a lot of attention has been paid to all the little details such as they ropes, canons, ballistas, and the manacles overlay for the lower deck. Visually, The Raven Airship is stunning!

Desire to Use: 8 out of 10
The Raven Airship is a really cool airship. I would like to see other overlays or page options such as removing the cannons, adding more cannons, and possibly a captain’s quarters on the upper deck. This does not mean one wouldn’t desire the use of the battlemap, it just means that the options that are presented are static other than the lower deck. However, with the to different lower decks, the airship could fall under the control of various types of captains.

Overall: 9 out of 10
The Raven Airship is a beautiful airship and another fantastic battlemap from DramaScape. If you’re looking to sail the skies, why not do it in style with an airship you can be proud of? The best part of a battlemap such as this is that it could come into use time and time again across the course of a single campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Raven Airship
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the Great review, I must point out though that there is an option to remove the cannons, there are replacement tiles which can be used, at the back of the pdf.
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Po'Kesteros, the Lostling (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/28/2012 14:47:40
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=23091.

Most fairytales that we were told as children were much more gruesome and seldom had happy endings (what do you expect from a pair of brothers with the last name Grimm). Po’Kesteros made a wish that took him to a land full of the kind of fairies that don’t leave change under your pillow in exchange for body parts, these fairies just take them, by force! The little boy survived and even grew up and now he is a tricksy old man who walks the dream streets ignoring every penny he passes, because he knows that luck is already on his side.

OVERALL

When I think of lost boys I think of Peter Pan and not glittered vampires; minus the semi-Native American appearance of Po’Kesteros the similarities end there. Po’Kesteros alone is interesting, but his role as the deposed reluctant leader of the Court of Fell Fortunes (the Tarnished Souk’s thieves guild) takes him over the top. This supplement is another example of why Rite Publishing is a force to be reckoned with.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Rite Publishing is full of human beings and while I have lowered my ratings for past editorial mistakes, for Po’Kesteros, the Lostling no errors jumped out at me. Rite Publishing was wise to stick with black and white illustrations, instead of risking color which has had mixed results for them in the past. Rite has really embraced branding in a really smart way. Instead of trying to shove stock art in whenever they can, they are using the picture of the luckbringer when they give us luckbringer stats. This might seem like common sense, but many of the smaller companies don’t get it. Wizards was actually really smart by making their core classes character art iconic. When you saw pictures of those characters you knew you were looking at the Monk or Cleric or Fighter or whatever.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Because of the high character levels in Coliseum Morpheuon, things can get complicated. Rite Publishing has found a way to strike a balance between the numbers game that occurs at close to, and at epic levels and playability. I love to game but I do find myself lost with the rules and mechanics complexities around 15th level. Think about the amount of abilities you need to manage for a fighter at this point in their career.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
By Himself, Po’Kesteros is a well thought-out NPC, put him up against Z.Z. Grimshanks (Faces of the Tarnished Souk) the current leader of Court of Fell Fortunes (the Tarnished Souk’s thieves guild) and that is where the real value comes in. Sure Po’Kesteros can stand on his own, but his tie-in with the Court of Fell Fortunes and Z.Z. Grimshanks makes him stand out. I would not want to get caught in the middle of an encounter between these two and to be honest, I would love to see a Tarnished Souk Fight Club over on Rite Publishing’s web site. This product’s value is limited for the player, but great for the GM. As a player there are some outstanding character ideas and good mundane and magic items, but Po’Kesteros really lets GMs take a walk on the wild side.

Overall: 10 out of 10
At this point it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Faces of the Tarnished Souk team consisting of Matt Banach and Justin Sluder is a winning combo; add in a little Stephan D. Russell and the result is a line of products that is hard to beat. I like the intertwined story arc between Z.Z Grimshanks, I think Rite might have done well to bundle both of these products or to come up with a versus PDF bundle in the future. This product is well done and reasonably priced; it shouldn’t be overlooked because you could be lost without it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Po'Kesteros, the Lostling  (PFRPG)
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Ancient Temple
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/25/2012 15:08:10
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=23160.

The Ancient Temple battlemap is difficult to classify. It can be used in fantasy, horror, historical, pulp, or even sci-fi settings. It is an extremely simplistic battlemap depicting a temple atop a series of stones labs and surrounded by jungle. A set of stairs leads you to the temple and the textures have a very weathered feel to them (confirming the use of the term “ancient”). And that’s pretty much it.

OVERALL

Representing a structure that rises 3-dimensionally on a 2-dimensional surface is tricky. Representing one that has different levels is even more difficult. While you can visualize what the battlemap is supposed to be, I would like to have seen different shading to represent this changing of levels as the battlemap rises to the temple. With that said, the shading means you can tell where one level ends and the other begins and the overall look and feel looks visually wonderful.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
The Ancient Temple battlemap received in this package is laid-out wonderfully and cut perfectly across the grid. The presentation is good but the map is missing overlays for the actual temple. I’d like to see what’s inside of the temple or at least have an overlay that removes the roof. In fact, it would almost be easiest to have a battlemap without the roof and have the roof as an additional overlay. Otherwise the package includes a square-grid, hex-grid, and grid-less versions (the latter is for virtual tabletop use).

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
I really like the textures as they definitely pop from the battlemap. The entire battlemap has a very ancient look to it with stone overgrown by grass, stone obviously worn and even missing, and the subtle addition of a skeleton no longer intact. What really pops out at you (you may have to look closely) are the carvings around the actual temple. That is paying an extreme attention to detail.

Desire to Use: 7 out of 10
Without the ability to remove the roof of the ancient temple, the battlemap is seemingly limited to an external use of the temple instead of looking at what’s inside. However, it’s generic design allows it to be used in a number of genres. When I look at it, I see a pulp exploration into ancient Mesoamerican jungles where a lonely temple awaits its next victim.

Overall: 8 out of 10
Ancient Temple is a great utility map that has visual appeal to create an exciting encounter. While the interior of the temple itself is not shown on the battlemap, it can still easily be used as a center-piece for something interesting if not something extremely big. (What if ancient horrors were locked inside and simply stepping foot onto the temple’s platform woke the beasts, setting them free of their captivity?) Truly the possibilities for use are quite vast which gives the battlemap its true value.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ancient Temple
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