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101 Combat Feats (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/17/2012 20:22:21
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21912.

Returning to the field with weapons at the ready and maneuvers in mind, Steven D. Russell of Rite Publishing once more enters the breach to bring feats which expand existing chains further and open up new options for fighters and their martial ilk. 101 Combat Feats follows a similar vein to 101 Barbarian Feats in that it supplements existing options smoothly and seamlessly–a fine avenue of approach sure to appeal to all manner of mighty combatant.

OVERALL

101 Combat Feats provides a fantastic spread of specialty feats to fine-tune and tailor any fighter and their ilk; there is a considerable variety to the offerings here which both bolster the potential of existing chains of character focus as well as inspiring new kits. From combat maneuvers both offensive and defensive to mobility and opportunity-based options, there’s plenty of excellent synergy to help martial characters master the battlefield around them.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Rite Publishing’s two-column standard of formatting is present and ever neatly organized; after the feat tables there’s art on every page, a mix of full-color and black and white which match the material well. The artwork accompanying throughout has popped up among other products, but each piece fits nevertheless. Layout and spacing are good, I did not notice any egregious glitches or typos during my reading; if I had one complaint, it would be that since a number of these feats are at the end of such long chains of prerequisites that at times it can be a bit daunting to pore over everything required for a particular pick–but there’s not a whole lot that could be done in this regard. The PDF is bookmarked for groupings of feats by letter, which is serviceable.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
While there are some outliers in the mix, the majority of the feats included here generally fall into one of four foci–weapon specialization, attacks of opportunity, combat maneuvers and grappling. I note grappling separately from combat maneuvers simply because there is a more fine-tuned focus there–essentially wrestling maneuvers chaining off of successful grapple attempts to inflict a variety of status effects or special follow-up maneuvers on opponents who have the misfortune of coming into a martial character’s grasp. For example, Painful Pin can cause a foe to become sickened for a number of rounds equal to your base attack bonus.

Feat effects functioning off of base attack bonus and the like is a rather interesting angle to this supplement on the whole–as not only do the options here provide new ways in which a warrior might control the flow of battle, but having such mechanics ensures these choices continue to scale and remain useful as a character grows in power. In a similar vein to a magic user’s spells growing more potent, here too a martial character might match a similar stride–especially once you look to the later options in each of the newly presented chains, many of which could serve nicely as capstone abilities.

As far as weapon specialization, there are rather interesting options for devotees–particularly those fond of bludgeoning weapons. A series of ‘crush’ feats allow you to debilitate an opponent’s movement, dizzy their own attacks, bypass a shield’s armor class, daze or sow confusion; or, perhaps you’d like to throw your hammer such that it ricochets about? If pole-arms are more your style, there’s new versatility available for getting more mileage out of bracing, lunging and intervening to protect allies from an opponent’s charge. Thrown weapons, shields, and double weapons get love as well–on the whole, there’s plenty of great flavorful feats which broaden options beyond merely making full-round attacks of swings.

Providing added effects to attacks is one of the main themes throughout, and one which is sure to appeal strongly to any martial combatant; all too often the name of the game in melee boils down to full-round attack or bust. Being able to sow status effects on top of damage while maneuvering around the field goes a long way to improving on this predicament. Those fond of exercising battlefield control will find much interest in the feats focused on opportune moments; Opportune Focus kicks off a sizable series of duelist-flavored moves for finesse weapons such as Bold Riposte, which allows you to respond to an attack of opportunity with one of your own (very cool!) while other options like Press the Opportunity–allowing you to reposition in lieu of an attack of opportunity–are present.

Finally, the feats oriented around combat maneuvers are among my favorites of the offerings here, flavored strongly around tactical control; take Strikedown to add a trip attempt to blows modified by Power Attack–or Leap into the Fray to augment a charge attack to overrun your opponents and bowl them over in a blitz. As well, one might get more mileage from Combat Expertise by utilizing Close Quarters Shift to swap places with a foe, or fight with follow-ups based from Dirty Trick like Blinding or Bloody Assault. Needless to say, there are plentiful options available to open the door to a greater engagement of martial mechanics in battle!

Value Add: 10 out of 10
101 Combat Feats is bristling to the brim with a veritable arsenal of new feats; there is tons of variety which can serve to satisfy anyone fond of arms and armor on the battlefield. Large feat compilations can often end up with entries which feel like filler or, worse-yet, unbalanced–but such is certainly not the case with this collection. Particularly in regards to martial characters, providing interesting, engaging, and mechanically meaningful options is crucial to the appeal of any supplement of this sort–and here Steven D. Russell does not disappoint.

As mentioned before, there are feats which would serve well as capstone abilities and truly bring a feeling of awesome power to a martial character’s presence; Destructive Power brings to bear the option, once per day, to force an opponent to make a fortitude save (based off of base attack and strength bonuses) or suffer an additional 10 points of damage per base attack bonus possessed. Fearsome! Bear in mind that the prerequisites include seven feats and 18 levels of fighter. I definitely feel that these feats provide a valuable breadth of appealing options for characters which will grow alongside them on their adventures and serve to add a bold impact at higher levels as well.

Overall: 10 out of 10
On the whole, the options presented herein are flavorful, cool and mechanically interesting and prove very sensible when weighed with existing mechanics; I’ve got to give Steven D. Russell praise for managing such care and thoughtfulness in balancing such a sizable spread of new options while constructing so many choices for characters. To me, these feats feel mechanically in-line with those found in the core–they could easily be included as part and parcel with the official line, which is a simply fantastic benchmark for any 3PP supplement. With that said, the choice is clear: high marks from me and a hearty huzzah!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Combat Feats (PFRPG)
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Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
Publisher: FableForge
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/14/2012 14:10:43
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21586.

Enter the Shadowside is a horror-infused setting surrounding a modern fantasy system, designed to create a unique experience for the players and GMs. It uses a d20 roll-over target number system where the target is determined by comparing the initiators might (a combination of their attributes, skills, and items) to their target’s difficulty (a combination of their attributes, skill, and items for opposed actions or simply a measure of difficulty). These two numbers are placed on a scale, referred to as Jacob’s Ladder, and then connected virtually with a ruler or straight edge to determine the target number (or minimum dice roll needed). This presents the players and GM (referred to as StoryHost) a sliding target number scale always determined by using the chart (so both parties are always aware of what the target number is). The attributes, skills, and items that play into these mechanics are modern fantasy based.

The Enter the Shadowside setting is a horror-infused version of our modern world such as this horrific parallel realm, essentially a spiritual realm where the spirits of the dead and other beings reside, is tapped into for creating the supernatural abilities the characters of the setting acquire. They do this by becoming imbued with a being from this parallel realm (called the Shadowside), gaining supernatural abilities. The system and setting have a lot of abstract behaviors producing a game that is meant to be flexible, but not really meant for the beginning player. It is an advanced system being that much of the crunch is determined through game-play and player input instead of simply existing in the rules. It allows for a huge amount of flexibility, but hampers those who lack the drive to determine these things themselves.

OVERALL

Enter the Shadowside is a unique system and setting for the advanced tabletop role-player. The game demonstrates appeal to those who wish to make their campaigns into “their game” by creating the mechanics presented as flexible or open-ended (such as skills and items). The system and setting also embraces the group participation philosophy on story design by allowing everyone’s character to truly affect the overall design of the campaign. Instead of having a campaign with a defined end, there are plot factors highly influenced by the characters’ design and what organization they belong to. Do they fight for the good of the people or just themselves? Do they attempt to make things better or exploit things to make them worse? It’s truly a game that can be pulled in multiple directions depending on how the players respond to the setting.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
I have very mixed feelings on the layout and structure of Enter the Shadowside. The book visually looks great, but is not ideal in some ways. The book is designed as a PDF-only product. This is obvious through the lack of mirrored pages reflected by page numbers always being on the right and a background that doesn’t change from left to right page. That’s not a problem for a PDF-only book, especially those designed for use on handheld devices. However, the book is laid-out in a 3-column format which results in a lot of scrolling while reading the PDF. In addition, there are no bookmarks to help navigate quicker from section to section. You simply have to flip through every page and find what you want. There is no index pointing you quickly to the right sections (this is very important in core rulebooks).

The art, however, is absolutely stunning. There is a comic within the early pages of the book depicting the process of Hierogamy with a venture through the Shadowside. This comic presents an interesting depiction of the Shadowside, but does very little to explain the greater setting as a whole.

Mechanics: 5 out of 10
The Jacob’s Ladder system for determining target number is very interesting and innovative. It’s a unique implementation of a roll-over chart presented in a very simple manner. In addition, the game’s core mechanics are quite solid and easy-to-understand. If you’re a new to tabletop RPGs, however, you may find it extremely difficult to create the skills that define your character. I understand the desire to be flexible, but one must remember that the skills are used as a bonus to your base attributes. Thus, what they are exactly isn’t nearly as important as why your character possesses them (as in, defining how they are better in this skill compared to other characters).

One thing Enter the Shadowside relies heavily on are the different Organizations. Each one defines how the character goes through Hierogamy and what supernatural abilities are available to them. They are described, but not fully described. The content tells you who they are and what they do (albeit in a limited fashion), but it fails to explain why these organizations exist (as in what fuels their actions) and what their end goals are. After reading through the entire book, I have no idea what these organizations want and why they would want it. I’m sure this will be discussed in subsequent sourcebooks, but it really leaves large gaps in the base setting. This is explained slightly within the book as something the GM needs to decipher throughout game-play.

As discussed, skills are discussed but not detailed. Players are supposed to create the skills that define their character concept and provide a reason as to why they have those skills. But none of these skills are defined and the players and GMs are left to determine what is reasonable and what isn’t. They are also left to define what is relevant and what adds no value. Yes it allows for maximum flexibility but at the same time it opens the game to a lot of debate and a lot of situations where the players may try to associate a skill with an action while the GM does not. It is a mechanical implementation of abstract storytelling fluff to provide bonuses to your might when determining your target number. Connecting the dots is tricky, but advanced players may find it easy.

One gaping hole I found is the Item bonuses allowed. Characters carry equipment just like every game. This equipment provides bonuses or penalties to an applicable action. This equipment covers weapons, armor, and mundane items. However, there are no weapons, armor, or mundane items listed in the book. How do I know how much of a bonus is provided for a pistol versus a dagger? What about different types of armor? What bonuses are provided by mundane items? None of this is addressed other than the example character sheets which are not explained. Item bonuses are an integral part of the game, but never actually given. While this may seem like another flexible mechanic like skills, leaving this to player and GM interpretation can result in a thousand possibilities.

Another gaping hole is what do you do with the Shadowside after Hierogamy. Do the creatures come out? Do they attack the characters when attempting to use a supernatural ability? Or is it simply there for grabbing a spirit to perform hierogamy? There’s no bestiary in this book so I don’t understand how the Shadowside affects the greater setting other than providing spirits for hierogamy.

Desire to Play: 8 out of 10
Please note this rating is for the advanced player who can create the flexible mechanics easily. Beginning players may have a lot more difficulty. Enter the Shadowside has a lot of potential and an extremely interesting setting. If you are able to work through the flexible mechanics without over-debating it, the potential for interesting games is quite large. The fluff surrounding the Hierogamy process is enough to grab your attention simply to find out more. But how it plays is really up to the players and their dedication.

Overall: 7 out of 10
One of the reviews I saw stated Enter the Shadowside felt more like a sourcebook than a core rulebook. I agree with that statement as there are too many gaps that need to be filled and too many items that are open to debate. The book seems to focus a lot on the Hierogamy even though it’s only a portion of the game system. Some of the content reads like a blog of forum post instead of providing valuable content such as what you may find in a sourcebook. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what supplements come available.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Enter The Shadowside - Core Book
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Barroom Brawls
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/12/2012 20:37:32
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21594.

Barroom Brawls provides quick, concise and easily accessible mechanics for a given gaming group to throw down, flip tables and get into a bawdy brawl at a moment’s notice. With a variety of fun prompts and at-a-glance inspirations, the material herein could be used for a planned-out plot and introduction of hooks or characters–or simply spontaneous mayhem after a hard adventuring session for rowdy rabble-rousers to cut loose and let off some steam. Let’s take a look at what it entails to really get the fisticuffs flying!

OVERALL

Barroom Brawls is short, sweet and entertaining in its offering of easy-to-use rules for ruining the taprooms of beleaguered barkeeps everywhere. While more powerful adventuring parties would require a bit more prep if the intent is to give an equal challenge (though certainly sometimes, a given group may just enjoy mopping the floor with patrons), inside are handy inspirations and reference material for chaotic bar ‘battlefield’ conditions and improvised weapons from tankards to table legs.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Raging Swan’s high standards for editing and formatting continue in this concise mix with some nicely flavorful black and white artwork interspersed with the material presented (including of course frothy tankards aplenty.) The layout is unsurprisingly clean and professional–and as always there are very welcome elements of convenience, from thorough PDF book-marking to the material being nicely printer-friendly. Top marks.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
We begin with a general overview of the elements of a barroom brawl–which breaks down into the Brawl Trigger or catalyst for the coming chaos; a collection of twenty triggers are provided with descriptions of prompts which might begin a given fight, which one could simply pick or roll randomly. After this are Brawl Events, sudden and unexpected twists which might change the ‘terrain’ of the tavern, shift the fight out into the streets or simply see some random sod smashing a chair over the back of one of the PCs–these serve to add a lot of spice and flavor to a given bout of fisticuffs. Again, these could be picked or rolled at your leisure.

Of course, the brawls can’t all be fun and games–for next comes the Brawl Aftermaths, potential consequences and outcomes for once all the dust and chandeliers have settled. Some of these are simple enough–damages and expenses as a result from rowdiness in a given establishment–while others offer potential hooks or opportunities for characters; perhaps the brawl served as cover for a robbery, or the proprietor was so impressed by a particular PC that they’re offered employment! This was one of my favorite sections of the supplement.

After these flavorful sections we have on tap a collection of sample brawlers for ready use; an iconic barkeep, a merchant, a member of the town watch and a sergeant-at-arms are offered as potential participants. We’re also presented with collected rules for non-lethal damage and maneuvering about a changing ‘battlefield’ as tables are overturned and drinks are spilled–Barroom Brawls also includes an amusing set of new conditions by way of Tipsy, Drunk and Hammered to toss out to tavern-goers at the table.

Finally, we wrap up with sections on taproom features and improvised weapons–both of which are suggested as print-outs for brawl participants, such that a given player can quickly eyeball their options before wading in tankards akimbo. On the whole, the mechanics are simple and straightforward, but no less sweet because of it–not only are there readily available references for a variety of improvised weapons to be found about a taproom melee, Creighton’s gone and put together furniture presented as terrain features.

Alongside the spontaneous events to start a tavern brawl or to occur during a brawl in progress, the sheer novelty of having these sorts of mechanics grouped cleanly and concisely makes for a fast and fun experience–while avoiding headaches (though the same cannot be said of the brawl’s participants!)

My only complaint regarding the mechanics herein is more a minor wish–I’d have loved to see the premise taken as an opportunity to include a set of new combat maneuvers flavored for pub-bound pugilists (e.g. a dirty trick splash of ale, etc.) Nevertheless, the mechanics are well-thought out, very functional and quick to pick up–introducing the system to a given game should prove a snap.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
It’s likely safe to say that there is a frightening drought of drunken brawls in most adventuring circles–and that for all the origins of organized groups springing forth from gathering at a tavern, far too few fisticuffs accompany most tales as they unfold. Tongue-in-cheek aside, folks generally don’t delve into such situations strictly to avoid flipping through books to round up the appropriate mechanics–and thus Creighton’s endeavor to bring together a nice collection of the lot makes for a very practical product.

Ultimately, Barroom Brawls is added fun–easy to implement and use and a nice change of pace from pounding (or being pounded by) ogres and their ilk. Personally, I’m fondest of the proposition within to utilize a good old-fashioned tavern brawl as a means of introducing rival adventurers to a party of players–but at the end of the day, it’s precisely the sort of affordable supplement that serves splendidly in any GM’s toolbox for a rainy day.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Barroom Brawls is a shot-glass-sized supplement that packs a punch; Creighton Broadhurst has done a fine job of bringing together a thematic and functional collection of rules apt to bring a breath of fresh air to any table’s adventures. If you’re looking for an interesting way to introduce new hooks or characters with a classic approach or just keen for an unexpected change of pace, this is a fine way to pull it off. Pound for pound, the material herein serves to expand options for entertainment at a very affordable price; grab it, print some quick reference sheets for your players and embrace a bawdy brawl!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Barroom Brawls
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Basic Tavern
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/11/2012 20:19:30
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21583.

Basic Tavern is a free offering from the recently create DramaScape. Although it’s free, it doesn’t fall short of detail or visual perfection. In fact, it is quite a stunning battlemap with a great number of details within. The tavern itself is very simple with a door on both short walls, an assortment of tables, a fire place, a kitchen, and a wooden floor area. To coincide with the beauty of the battlemap is a front cover illustration depicting the battlemap as you would see it from the main door.

OVERALL

For a free product, this is an amazingly detailed battlemap. Combine that with the front-door perspective on the cover and you end up with an exquisite look at everything within the tavern.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The battlemap is laid-out very well consider grid placement and location within each page. It comes in two formats with a square grid and a hex grid. However, it does not include a greyscale version to save you on ink. In addition there is an overview showing the taven as it is designed and a very valuable mapping of the different pages showing their location in relation to the battlemap as a whole.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
Basic Tavern is a visually stunning battlemap for something so simple. Besides the extremely detailed floor, each table is given a variety of items to make the scene more realistic such as plates, food, and knives. However, one of the most appealing items on this battlemap is the textures of the stone floor and wood use throughout. It is extremely detailed and quite a sight. Battlemaps often lack this amount of detail on a simple texture.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10
Many adventures start in a tavern. Why not make that tavern the best looking one you can find? Any GM would be proud to put this on their gaming table and show their players exactly what the tavern looks like, eliminating the need for all those detail questions… just look at the map and you’ll have an answer!

Overall: 9 out of 10
When you pick-up a free battlemap such as this, you really get a semblance of what DramaScape is capable of creating. Its simplicity should not be overlooked as many fantasy and historical games involve taverns at some point in time. And if they do, why wouldn’t you want the best looking map you can find? This Basic Tavern is truly a work of art!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Basic Tavern
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Adventure Quarterly #1 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2012 15:00:55
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21468.

Adventure Quarterly is a new Pathfinder magazine from Rite Publishing with a different mindset than their ongoing Pathways. While not being offered as a free product, it is much more focused and can be considered more as a collection of individual products rather than just a magazine (in other words, it is a magazine-styled release of multiple supplements and modules). With that in mind, Adventure Quarterly Issue #1 contains three adventures and two supplements.

OVERALL

Adventure Quarterly is a great direction to take in terms of offering smaller publications in a single product. It helps reduce the cost for customers and allows them to pick this up in Print-on-Demand (you can’t do POD for products under 40-something pages without it costing too much). This is a great direction for Rite Publishing and really provides a great value to the customer as they don’t have to purchase a bunch of smaller PDFs and pay to have them printed elsewhere or use all their own ink when printing them at home.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Adventure Quarterly Issue #1 is a great offering and a great-looking book. With a combination of content in a magazine style, the layout and formatting are clean, clear, and concise. In addition, along with the PDF purchase, a set of battlemap images are provided to coincide with the scaled-down versions found in the magazine. The stock art chosen matches up extremely well with the content and I love the creature commissioned for the cover and inside.

Mechanics/Storyline: 9 out of 10
The best part of this magazine-style of release is that you get adventures and supplements in a single product. The three adventures have solid storylines with adventure #3 being my favorite and the one I feel has the best plot line. The mechanics provided for the Tribal Name Generator and the incorporation of mechanics for the Forked Legion means a GM can add their own flavor to those adventures using included content, create their own adventures launching off the ones inside, or creating your campaigns using bits and pieces of what’s offered. It’s truly a complete offering for GMs.

Desire to Play/Use: 9 out of 10
The three adventures in Issue #1 do not tie together, nor do they flow from one to another in terms of PC level. In fact, there’s a chance all three are so completely unrelated you wouldn’t be able to run them all in a single campaign. That said, you can certainly use them all in a number of different campaigns or create different hooks throughout your campaign to weave these three adventures into your overarching storyline. The included Tribal Name Generator and Forked Legion means the GM just has that much more material to work with when constructing their own adventures and campaigns, which could be used to tie the three adventures together. I can see a number of different uses for what you find in Issue #1.

Overall: 9 out of 10
I may be slightly biased, but I’m a fan of the magazine-styled release format for smaller, sometimes seemingly unrelated releases. The customer is getting a great deal for their money and the publisher doesn’t have to pay the extra overhead of offering multiple, low-cost publications. Topping this all of is the availability of the Print-on-Demand, another driving factor for this style of product. In my opinion, it’s a definite great buy for Pathfinder GMs, even if you only use 60% of the content.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #1 (PFRPG)
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101 Magus Feats (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2012 20:32:00
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21094.

The Magus is a complex hybrid character class for the Pathfinder Fantasy system that is flavorful right out of the gate. With 101 Magus Feats, Rite Publishing has kicked things up a notch for the already yummy Magus.

OVERALL

101 Magus Feats is more than just a list of feats for one class. 101 Magus Feats takes Archetypes into consideration and categorizes the feats presented in this book to create a user-friendly product that is well-thought out and well-executed. Rite Publishing has always gotten crunch right and with 101 Magus Feats they have listened to feedback from the “field” and continue to tweak their format in ways that benefit players and Game Masters alike.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The cover of 101 Magus Feats looks amazing. Rite Publishing went went with their black faux leather pattern this time and the combination of the black “leather” with an outstanding picture of what I could best describe as a dominmagus. This lady looks tough; her sword, while completely impractical, is really wicked looking. Combine the wicked looking sword with stiletto heeled boots, an exposed midriff and spiked spaulders and you have the makings of a woman I wouldn’t want to cross; add the fact that she is casting some type of spell and things only get more interesting. This supplement uses Rite Publishing’s sepia lion boarder which I have yet to have a problem with. The feat entries are standard fare and easy to read. Some of the interior art in the book still fell short for my tastes but the art or images that were chosen normally had a description below them letting me know what feat each image went with. Those small captions make a world of difference. The sinister harbinger picture on page 23 was awesome! One of the best aspects of 101 Magus Feats is the chart listing all of the feats with a brief description. I have seen these charts 100s of times; what made this chart really matter was they broke it down by magus archetype. This small act makes the product much more user-friendly.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
These feats are mechanically sound. Rite Publishing has always done a good job of keeping mechanics in mind when they design and produce their products. Mechanics is another area where I felt that Rite really hit a home run in 101 Magus Feats. Many of the Archetypes that Rite developed for this product were actually written by Pazio or other third party publishers. All of the archetypes are properly referenced and credited to their originators. There are plenty of third party developers out there and they rarely go out of their way to support concepts that other third party developers come up. I have said that Rite Publishing is good about supporting their products with additional supplements; with 101 Magus Feats, they have just turned themselves into that mom in the neighborhood who feeds all of the kids on the block because she loves to do it and because it is the right thing to do. This mutually supportive environment is what the RPG industry needs.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
Who doesn’t like more feats? 101 feats for your Magus are great, but they are even better when they are this well-written and organized. As far as value, this product is useful on both sides of the screen. As a GM I could add a few of these to any Magus NPC to throw my players a curve ball. When I use this product I will consider actually giving my NPC Magus feats that are normally associated with an Archetype they do not possess just to mix things up.

Overall: 10 out of 10
There is nothing revolutionary about this product. The feats chart I mentioned earlier is a standard, but by placing it in the front of 101 Magus Feats and organizing the feats by Archetype, Rite Publishing did players and GMs a favor. Third party RPG companies work together all of the time, but Rite seems to show special love to their fellow publishers. Their quality work and the way Rite Publishing handles the feats for other publishers concepts shows they are in this business for their customers.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Magus Feats (PFRPG)
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The Unspeakable Oath 19
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2012 15:05:55
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=20891.

The Unspeakable Oath is a magazine dedicated to Cthulhu Mythos role-playing, not just standard Call of Cthulhu. This concept is brought to fruition quite well within issue #19. Not only do you get some of the to-be-expected style content for Call of Cthulhu, you also get content for Trail of Cthulhu and Deltra Green and a new ultra-light rules system called Cthulhu Dark. The best part about all this is that everything is in the style of the Cthulhu Mythos and can be farmed for all aspects of Cthulhu gaming. The Unspeakable Oath continues to be the ultimate handbook for Cthulhu role-playing.

OVERALL

I love the direction The Unspeakable Oath continues to take. It does a wonderful job of incorporating new Mythos material while expanding upon existing material. It also shows love for the entire gambit of Cthulhu role-playing by incorporating Delta Green, Trail of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Dark, and reviews that focus on content outside of Call of Cthulhu in addition to the Call of Cthulhu content. I’m truly looking forward to perusing future issues.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The Unspeakable Oath is a beautiful magazine. The layout is wonderful, the formatting is superb, and the illustrations are beautiful; I especially love the covers they continue to use. This magazine sets an excellent standard for those looking to create similar products that incorporate a multitude of content. Also, this format of product allows you to obtain a lot of valuable content at an extremely low price.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
What mechanics within The Unspeakable Oath 19 are perfect, especially Cthulhu Dark. They do a perfect job of grasping the Cthulhu Mythos and its inherent concepts through new spells and bestiary along with presenting a number of great objects to seed your adventures.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
The Unspeakable Oath 19 has a ton of content for the Keeper, but very little content for the player. I understand the desire to present tools and scenarios the Keeper can quickly and easily incorporate into the regular game sessions, but offering a little love to the players is a good way to keep them coming back to the magazine. This is especially difficult if the Keeper plans on running one of the given articles inside the magazine and ensures the players do not read it. However, there is still a lot of great, valuable content.

Overall: 9 out of 10
The Unspeakable Oath is a great way to get your Cthulhu Mythos fix for a low price. For Keepers, it presents you with a ton of great content for your regular game sessions without having to buy piles of expensive books. While creating your own is rewarding and a lot of fun, sometimes the rushed Keeper needs something fast. With the incorporation of non-standard Call of Cthulhu content, Arc Dream Publishing and the crew is showing how much they appreciate all aspects of Cthulhu role-playing and not just the one system that started it all.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 19
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Roads-2-Nowhere 1: Urban Crawl
Publisher: Scrying Eye Games
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/24/2012 14:09:06
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=20887.

Roads-2-Nowhere is part of the TopoTiles set of modular battlemap tiles from Scrying Eye Games designed under a specific theme but for universal applications. Urban Crawl carries a post-apocalyptic theme with possible use in modern and sci-fi applications. The set consists of generic road tiles with small attached buildings that can ultimately be used for a variety of purposes. The set is post-apocalyptic themed, however, as the associated elements (such as the ruined or rusted cars, broken pavement sections, tossed buildings, and random “destruction”) fall under what you would envision in a post-apocalyptic setting.

As is common with almost all of Scrying Eye Games’ battlemaps, there are an abundance of minute details (such as the small pieces of debris in the buildings, the grass protruding from the cracks in the pavement, and the sewer grates on the road) that make the battlemap visually appealing. In addition, the tiles are designed to be used in any configuration by offering very generic designs that can be mixed and matched at your leisure.

OVERALL

Urban Crawl is a good set of battlemap tiles, although the title really doesn’t fit the theme. To me it has more of a suburban if not rural feel as the roads are sparsely populated and the buildings quite small. However, I would not rate a product based on its name but rather its design and functionality and it could be used as the outskirts of an urban area.

The set of included roads comes in two flavors: 2-lane and 4-lane. The 2-lane roads appear to be one way streets due to the white lines in the center instead of yellow (although it can easily be used as a bi-directional street), while the 4-lane roads appear to be bi-directional. Linking these two flavors together is a single intersection with four lanes going one direction and two lanes going the other. At least, I believe the purpose of that tile is to link the two together. I would like to point out that this set is designed for a neighborhood or industrial park and not the open road as there is only one 4-lane tile and it happens to be straight.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Urban Crawl is a good set of tiles that look great and provide a decent number of options. I would like to see more 4-lane road options and additional items such as front yards, back yards, alleys, intersections with street lights, and commercial buildings. Still, as-is, Urban Crawl is a good set of tiles with a lot of options. The tile format presents the user with an endless number of combinations.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
Scrying Eye Games is one of the best battlemap-makers when it comes to detail. They always include a lot of little things to their battlemaps that make them interesting and believable. And besides the tiles, you get a heck-of-a-lot of add-on elements to further flavor the tiles you decide to use. A lot of work and dedication goes into making these maps and the visual appeal truly pays off.

Desire to Use: 8 out of 10
When I think of a suburban wasteland, wiped out by some apocalyptic event, this really matches my vision. I like the use of the street tiles combined with the various buildings, although I think more options should be available for buildings and streets. Many mapmakers ignore the post-apocalyptic theme and this one not only embraces it, it really fits what that vision of wasteland would be. It definitely needs more options, but there at least plenty here to get you started, and the price is extremely reasonable.

Overall: 9 out of 10
If you are running a post-apocalyptic setting in a suburban environment, Urban Crawl is a great set of tiles to show your players what the city looks like after that apocalyptic event. The decay of the surroundings are prevalent and the obvious neglect (because everyone in that area died) really comes through. It really has that “What happened here?” look to every single tile, producing a very cohesive battlemap for post-apocalyptic settings.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Roads-2-Nowhere 1: Urban Crawl
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10 Luckbringer Feats
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/20/2012 14:52:53
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=20572.

Once again Steven D. Russell and the crew over at Rite publishing provide even more support for their creations of RPG goodness by adding additional feats for the Luckbringer class.

OVERALL

This is one of those short and sweet, no frills kind of products. Rite Publishing knows how to support the products they make and the classes they develop and these 10 feats make the Luckbringer just that much more playable.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The cover of 10 Luckbringer Feats is a departure from the normal faux leather cover of many Rite Publishing products. The best way to describe it would be that it is like watching the Prince of Persia jumping off of the Arch De Triumph getting ready to kick the reader in the face while singing, or casting a spell or getting ready to make an obscure gesture with his hand. The full color background is a nice change of pace, but when you combine it with the acrobatic breast plate wearing Prince of Persia wanna be, it becomes less appealing. It almost looked like old school green screen, think Total Recall. The picture of this Faux P of P is repeated on the first interior page and without the CGI background and smaller it looks much better. This product uses Rite Publishing’s Sepia Lion border which always looks great . The text is easily readable and the feat format is standard. No need for an index with only 2 pages. There is a short paragraph which lets the read know where to find the entire Luckbringer class write-up. I think a Hyperlink to The Secrets of the Luckbringer would be great in the PDF version. This would allow me to buy the base class if these feats interested me.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The Luckbringer is a crunchy class and these feats do nothing to make it more chewable. People who are playing Luckbringers and GMs who are allowing them in their games or running NPCs with Luckbringer levels understand this and won’t bat an eye at the extra crunch and flavor these feats add.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
If you have the Improbable Class feature, this is the product for you! 7 of the 10 feats require the improbable class feature while the remaining 3 require the Moment of chance class feature. Some of these could be tweaked, but I think the requirements are balanced as-is.

Overall: 9 out of 10
If a GM or player at your table is remotely interested in playing a Luckbringer, check this product out. Will these 10 feats go down in history as the greatest feats developed for a class ever? Probably not; however they seem balanced, well-written and show that Rite Publishing won’t leave you hanging; if they develop a class or a product they are good at supporting them in subsequent supplements. In the end, it is a win for the publisher and player. Hats off to Steven D. Russell and Rite Publishing, what you do for RPGs it is no easy feat.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Luckbringer Feats
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API Worldwide: Canada
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/10/2012 15:12:14
The following review was originally published at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19996.

Worldwide: Canada is a sourcebook for Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. (API) detailing, of course, Canada. But don’t think of this is a geographical reference book as everything inside is geared toward expanding the API setting to the frigid north (in regards to the US of course). If you think about it, Canada is a natural choice for oddities within the API world with its general size and large areas of wilderness. Demons, as they are called in API, can thrive in a land where humans rarely travel. To add to this natural value, the book is filled with great new options including applicable organizations, locations of interest, new races, and two detailed adventures. Even if you don’t want to run a game in Canada, this book is filled with lots of great content that can be incorporated elsewhere.

OVERALL

If you want to confine your Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. games to the borders of the United States, then Worldwide: Canada won’t do you too much good. However, a crafty GM can easily find a way to pull some of the organizations and adversaries in Canada into the northern fringes of the United States. So what does this mean? It means the book is a must have for adventures in Canada and a should have for those near the border. Everything else and it’s just another great addition to your library.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Worldwide: Canada is a well-put together book with a high quality layout and format. There are many minor editing errors, but none that stand out so much they broke the flow of the content. The book follows the same clean, simple layout as with other Third Eye Games’ books and a smattering of great-looking art supports the content. Third Eye Games has a tendency to stick with simple layouts that are efficient and effective, and look great.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Only about 1/3 of the book contains mechanics, but what is there, really adds value to the system (especially the setting). The new mechanics include character races, equipment, adversaries, paths, elite techniques, and mechanics for fighting in the frozen north. These alone are enough to add plenty of value to the sourcebook, but Third Eye Games includes plenty of content to tie all the mechanics to the setting and create a 3-dimensional description of API’s involvement in Canada.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
Worldwide: Canada is a great value for any API Game Master or player. The only drawback, albeit a small one, is that much of the mechanics are tied directly to the Canadian setting making them a little more difficult to adapt elsewhere. Granted, the intent of the publication is to create mechanics that embrace the Canadian setting, but that also means that if you don’t plan on running any adventures in Canada, then much of the content is lost. While this does not make the product less valuable as it is extremely valuable for those running adventures in Canada, it does mean that its use is very specific and not everyone will find it necessary.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Worldwide: Canada is a great addition to anyone’s API library should they want to branch off their adventures into Canada or even just to run adventures that occur within northern regions (or southern regions in the Southern Hemisphere) similar to that of Canada. Players will find new options for creating characters and outfitting them and Game Masters will find a wealth of new organizations and adversaries to throw at those players. It’s an extremely well-rounded product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
API Worldwide: Canada
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So What's the Hoard Like, Anyway?
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/09/2012 14:35:33
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19870.

A glistening silver chalice, delicately crafted and possessing an airy lightness, lies within a frayed hempen sack. A fist-sized blue-green stone with tiny red flecks. A scuffed and well-worn text written with manticore blood ink on fine linen paper… Masterwork Bongos? All these and more can be found among the random hoards that await within this release from Raging Swan Press.

OVERALL

While short, this is a strong edition to any GM’s resource library. In addition to providing tables for generating loot as well as descriptions for each item in the hoard, the basic rules for appraisal and magic item construction are included. Furthermore, several hoards contain items that are all thematically related, a scepter, a crown, and royal robes for example.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The book is up to Raging Swan Press’s usual standards, which look back, artistically, to older RPG products. It is black and white, free of unnecessary ornamentation, and is quite legible. Overall, an elegant package in PDF or printed form.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The format of the entries is easy to use and the mechanics are organized in a consistent fashion. After the name and description of an item, it is followed up by rules for appraisal and magical item construction, as previously mentioned, verbatim, allowing quick reference during play.

Value Added: 9 out of 10
SWtHLA falls just short of a ten in Value Added because it only goes to level seven and can only be used with the intended ease for one third of the standard twenty levels. One might combine hoards to increase their level value or make other adjustments to change the values of a given hoard. I hope they release another book that contains hoards of higher levels. Additionally, all the various items can be used independent of the hoards as general descriptors.

Overall: 10 out of 10
This book rocks. While I love writing descriptions and noodling around with treasure, I certainly appreciate having someone else do the work for me. As I said, I hope they produce more of these books for higher levels, or even just books of descriptions of items. This is my second review of a Raging Swan product and I hope to have the opportunity to review many more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's the Hoard Like, Anyway?
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Five Room Dungeon: The Rabbit Hole
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/05/2012 14:34:56
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19815.

Alice had it easy! The Rabbit Hole is an extra dimensional trip that dreams are made of literally. While 5 “rooms” might not seem like much, this adventure will turn players and GMs in directions they never thought or dreamed they would go.

OVERALL

WOW! I have seen some interesting concepts for dungeons, but this takes the crumpet! (tea anyone?). I am astounded by the way the trio of Ben McFarland, Clinton J. Boomer and Matt Banach were able to shove 10 rooms of adventure into a 5 room dungeon!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Rite Publishing used a black faux leather cover pattern instead of their normal brown. Some of their more recent products have used a variation of colors and I applaud Rite for mixing things up. The cover art by Mark Hyzer would make Lovecraft proud, and it looks great in black and white. The cartography by Jonathan Roberts is top notch. The actual depiction of what I can best describe as flexibly amorphous rooms were elegant in their execution. Instead of their normal page border patterns, Steven D. Russell and company went with a full color sort of starry night type of drawing on the header and footer of the page (as found in Coliseum Morpheuon). This touch added a dream like quality to an adventure that focuses on those subconscious thoughts that occupy our thoughts when we sleep.

This product lost points for a few reasons, such as some misspellings, but this is minor. There were a few times when the information from knowledge checks seemed to cut off abruptly. In one case it looked as though if the players got a higher result on their knowledge check, they would have the rest of the knowledge contained in the descriptive sentence. If this was the writer’s intention, it didn’t work. There was no indication in the beginning of the adventure as to the recommended level of the players. Not a big issue but it should be noted in a more immediate and obvious location. I think some of the adventure background information could have been re-ordered to make more sense for the GM, but I will confess that I have been brainwashed by the big companies to look for a specific format.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
There was only one small problem with the mechanics in Five Room Dungeon: The Rabbit Hole. Regardless, this adventure takes the idea of a dimension with flexible laws of gravity and even reality and puts a set of logical if not a bit complicated set of rules to them. This is no minor feat. Anytime designers and writers can place useable mechanics onto a high concept that can change based on the most unpredictable factor of them all (the player), you have something that us mere mortals are not worthy of (cue Wayne and Garth).

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
This product was designed for a very specific setting and while it could be tweaked to be used elsewhere, its lack of modularity was my only complaint. The fact that this adventure is for high-level characters might cause problems for some and limit the audience to use within the upper levels of the Coliseum Morpheuon adventure, but don’t let that stop you from adding this to your bookshelf (real or virtual). The rules that cover situations where the player can change the surrounding environment and the rules of gravity are worth the full cost of this product. The cartography is outstanding and the complex thought processes that went into creating this should be acknowledged with your money and support!

Overall: 9 out of 10
This adventure is unique in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I went into this product thinking it was going to be a kind of tongue and cheek Alice in Wonderland set up. I was right and I was wrong, there are a few well-done homages to AIW, but those were serious and added great, spicy flavor to the adventure. This adventure does so much to help the GM set the mood and bring a twisted dream realm to life in ways that would make James Cameron blue with envy. Products this complex and well-thought out are rarely produced, and when they are, they are often too complex and not useable. Five Room Dungeons: The Rabbit Hole is the type of product lesser companies could only dream of making.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Five Room Dungeon: The Rabbit Hole
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The Secrets of the Oracle (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2012 14:49:26
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19789.

The Secrets series is a wonderful example of what a third party publisher can do to enhance material produced by the original publisher. The Secrets of the Oracle takes a hard look into the Oracle class and makes it not only more interesting, but much more fun to play.

OVERALL

The Pathfinder Fantasy system has done a great job of establishing mechanics that add modular versatility to most of the base classes with mechanics like Archetypes and mysteries. These “add-ons” Help ensure that very few Oracles will be alike with The Secrets series and especially The Secrets of the Oracle.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The cover of The Secrets of the Oracle is done in a faux blue cover instead of the normal brown. I think that moving to a color-coded format for each series might be a good thing. Rite Publishing has quite a few products out there and the different colored covers might be an easy way for a reader to identify exactly which series a product belongs to. I have been critical of Rite Publishing’s use of stock or public art in the past and even more critical when it comes to the use of color art in those domains, The Secrets of the Oracle bucks that trend. While not overburdened with art, this supplement feels like it has much more artistic cohesion and I was blown away by the drawings on pages 4 and 5 depicting the Primeval and Rot mysteries.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Providing outstanding 3rd party support for products is not an easy thing to do. In The Secrets of the Oracle, David Mallon has taken the time to study the Oracle and produce enhancements that are useful and balanced. The mysteries are interesting and, if used correctly, will act as a good role-playing direction for Oracle characters. The feats are solid and really work mechanically and thematically with the rest of the product. The most mechanical flavor comes with the curses. There are only six curses but they add so much to the Oracle as a character class. As player curses are fun to role-play and as a GM they provide some great adventure hooks and are a small way to reign in that player whose head gets a little big for their helmet.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
This product is great for players and GMs, provided there are Oracle player characters or Oracle NPCs. At a price of $3.99 USD I would not recommend this product just to have on hand. If you are running a game that involves Oracles in any way then this one is worth the cost. I am not saying that this product is overpriced, but it isn’t versatile enough to justify an impulse or an “I might use this product” buy.

Overall: 9 out of 10
While The Secrets of the Oracle is not a versatile product, it’s well-crafted and well-thought out. The mysteries, curses and archetypes make me want to play and include Oracles in my games. To be honest, before reading this supplement I had passed Oracles over as yet another flavor of Cleric, boy was I wrong and The Secrets of the Oracle has shown me the light.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Oracle (PFRPG)
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Supernatural Role Playing Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/31/2012 16:57:58
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19817.

Using the Cortex System at its foundation, the Supernatural RPG allows a group of die-hard fans the opportunity to play the Winchester brothers, or other hunters, and one other to be the screenwriter/producer/director they’ve always dreamt of within the surreal world of darkness created by the popular TV show. For me, it’s my first full experience with these mechanics and Margaret Weis Productions’ continuing line of licensed games. I’ve seen the show a few times, but never caught it on a regular basis, because I’m a slave to watching everything in order and have yet to find a channel airing it in syndication or a local store selling the first season on DVD.

All that adds up to an eager anticipation on my part to see what all the fuss is about: game mechanics and the setting material alike. The latter is very effective and highly evocative, written as if it were spoken by Dean himself, and sets a clear tone for both those familiar and inexperienced with the show. The former was an acceptable system capable of embracing player participation and character interaction, but seemed rather ho-hum on resolution and combat.

OVERALL

After reading through the book, I felt as if the Supernatural RPG‘s mechanics were heavily influenced by White Wolf’s World of Darkness games and while I’ve never read Hunter: The Gathering, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to adapt that game into a homebrew of this show. While the book is well-written and mechanically solid, I have to admit disappointment at what I was expecting. It feels typical to nearly every other RPG out there and while Plot Points are a nice touch, it’s only a fresh coat of paint on a street where all the houses are built the same. If you’ve been waiting for a RPG to come out supporting your favorite show after spending weeks working on a hack from another system, I’d be hard pressed to insist on ditching that work.

This doesn’t mean the game itself is poor, just standard. If you’re new to role-playing, it’s a perfectly acceptable way to enter or continue into the genre. But if you’re experienced and looking for something new and exciting, you might not find it here. I’m in the second category, which is why this game doesn’t quite do it for me in light of what I came to expect.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Every page looks as if it came from one of Winchester’s journals and helps propel the mood of the game and its relation to the show. Very effective in print, a bit of a bother in PDF (my copy came in at 42Mb and was a bit slow to load on the tablet).

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
Functional, yes. Effective, yes. Evocative? No. While Plot Points and Traits were a nice touch, they didn’t make a massive difference to differentiate this game from any other out there.

Desire to Play: 5 out of 10
I’m more psyched about watching the show more than ever and would pull this out if my players squealed when they found out I had a copy. Otherwise, it’s another book to add to the shelf.

Overall: 7 out of 10
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good RPG and demonstrates Margaret Weis Productions as a worthy publisher. Jamie Chambers and the team’s handling of the material is excellent and perhaps if I was already a nut for the show, I’d be more enthusiastic. Yet my personal feeling on the been-there, done-that mechanics is not my cup of tea. Some of my discontent also stems from my expectations of the Cortex System – I don’t think this game lives up to the potential I’ve come to expect from this system. If you’re a fan of the TV show, the rating may be more like 8 out of 10.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supernatural Role Playing Game
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Xoti, the Usurper (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/30/2012 14:17:24
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19699.

Faces of The Tarnished Souk (FotTS): Xoti, the Usurper is a supplement for the Coliseum Morpheuon adventure for the Pathfinder Fantasy system. Xoti, the Usurper is the celebrated playboy of the Tarnished Souk. He seems to deal quite well with being exiled from his homeland, or maybe he’s just overcompensating.

OVERALL

Xoti, the Usurper is a godling walking. Some believe that he is a god while others feel that he will be a god someday. His larger-than-life personality combined with his physical prowess and his martial skills lend credence to these god and god-to-be rumors. He is loud and brash, everything that we love and hate in our RPG gods.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 6 out of 10
The Faces of the Tarnished Souk series has done such a good job for so many of the products in the series that they had to fall short at least once when it comes to publishing, and it looks like Xoti, the Usurper is where and when that happens. There is little art in this book and, to be honest, none of it really worked for me. The cover depicts a well muscled bearded man who must be Xoti. The problem is he looks more like a tall dwarf rather than the picture of the new race the Mahrog that is found later in the book. The use of stock art here could be greatly improved upon. The depiction of the Mahrogs looks more like pictures of either Orcs or Half-Orcs, with the Mahrog name tacked on. The public domain art that was chosen to depict the Fortune-Based creature (some people playing cards) was decent at best. In the description on how to use Xoti, the Usurper, there is a grammatical mistake on page 1 that can stop the easy flow of reading, standing out a bit too much. On the plus side, Rite Publishing does a great job of referencing the sources for any material not covered in this product.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Matt Banach and Justin Sluder and the Rite Publishing crew know mechanics and they know them well. In past reviews I have felt that some of their templates are a bit overpowered, but for the Tarnished Souk and Coliseum Morpheuon, most of these templates work well. The Coliseum is a deadly place and the people who live and fight there are no slouches. I am a big fan of templates and Xoti’s templates really add to his image as an interesting NPC and his status as a once and future god.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
Xoti, has the potential to be a wonderful plot driver and is the type of NPC that I personally love to hate. Some GMs put their NPCs in god mode, Xoti, is in god mode, no need for additions from the GM. Xoti is the kind of NPC that gets players into trouble and into the action. In fact, Xoti creates action even where there shouldn’t be any. He is larger than life and not ashamed of it. My hatred for this type of NPC is quickly overshadowed by just how epic of a plot device Xoti can be. If you are a GM and you want to stir things up, unleash Xoti on your players and let the fun ensue. This guy is good to go right out of the box!

Overall: 8 out of 10
I didn’t feel like Matt and Justin immersed Xoti like they have with other NPCs in the past. Xoti is interesting and could really change a game session, but there is something missing. I hope the grammatical error and less-than-ideal use of stock art is improved upon in the future. The Mahrog, as a race, are interesting and definitely on my races-to-play list. The use of what I call the runic border for this product was a good call and the formatting was spot on. I hope that GMs and fans of Rite Publishing and Faces of the Tarnished Souk look past the visual depictions of Xoti, the Usurper to find the godling inside.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Xoti, the Usurper (PFRPG)
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