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Ninja
Publisher: Barrel Rider Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/02/2013 06:52:25
You can't buy a lot for just a buck these days. But Barrel Rider Games is in the business of giving you a class for a buck.
Not a bad deal really. I used to spend $3 for a Dragon magazine back in the day, often to get a new class.

This time BRG is giving us a Ninja class. Part thief, part assassin and part ranger this class has everything you would expect to see in a ninja class (almost, and I'll get to that). I have been following BRG classes for some time now and each of these pdfs gets a little bit better. So I am pleased to say that the class book here is complete. Saving throws, attacks, xp per level, and all the special abilities of ninja are here and ready for you to drop it into Labyrinth Lord...well like a ninja.

I only noticed one small, tiny thing. Typically with a ninja class we get a number of new weapons. This doesn't have those. I did not down-grade the pdf because of this because it is outside of the scope of the call books and that material is easily found elsewhere.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ninja
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Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts
Publisher: ZERObarrier
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/27/2013 16:24:09
Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts (MT&DP) is an Old-school reference for all things Magic-user.
The book is designed with what I call "Basic Era" in mind, so the rules from right around 1979-1981 where "elf" is a class, not just a race. Overtly it is designed for Labyrinth Lord. That being said it is still compatible in spirit to 99% of all the OSR and books from that time.

The book itself is 6"x9", black and white interior and 161 pages. So for a "Class" book there is a lot here. There are 5 Chapters covering Classes, Spells, Magic Items, Monsters and a section on using this book with the "Advanced Era" books (and their clones), along with an Introduction and OGL page.

The introduction covers the basics. What this books, what it is for and it's very, very open OGL declaration.

Chapter 1 is the heart of this book really. It details 13 Magic using classes. The two two core classes, Cleric and Magic-User (Wizard) and 11 new classes.

From the product page:
Cleric (warrior-priests)
Wizard (classic magic-users with 10 levels of spells)
Elven Swordmage (elves from the core rules – arcane warriors)
Elven Warder (wilderness elves, guardians of their kin)
Enchanter (artists, con-men, and masters of… duh… enchantments)
Fleshcrafter (twisted magic-users that work with flesh)
Healer (compassionate and tough hearth-healers)
Inquisitor (ecclesiastic investigators and master intimidators)
Merchant Prince (elite merchants with spellcasting support)
Necromancer (you know exactly what these guys do)
Pact-Bound (magic-users who sell their souls for power)
Theurge (divine casters who learn from liturgical texts)
Unseen (thieves with an innate knack for magic)

Clerics are as you know them, but Magic-Users are now Wizards (since everyone here is a magic user) and they get 10 levels of spells. The "Elven" classes replace the "Elf" class in the book. The others are as they are described, but there is more (much more) to them than re-skinned Magic-Users (not that there is anything wrong with wrong that). The classes are re-cast with many new spells, some powers (but nothing out of whack with Basic Era) and often different hit-dice and altered saving throws.
Nearly a third of the book is made up in these new classes.

Chapter 2 covers all the spells. Spells are listed alphabetically with class and level for each spell noted (like newer 3.x Era products). There are a lot of spells here too. Many have been seen in other products, but some are new. In any case they are a welcome addition.
This section makes up slight more than a third of the book.

The last three chapters take up the last third or so of the book.
Chapter 3 covers Magic items. There are 28 new magic items with these spellcasters in mind.
Chapter 4 covers some magical creatures. These are monsters listed in many of the new spells for summoning. There are not a lot, but needed.
Chapter 5 is the Advanced Edition conversion materials. It covers HD changes, racial limits and multi-class options.

So what are my thoughts. Well you get a lot of material in 160+ pages to be honest. At 10 bucks it is a good price. For me it is worth it for the classes. Sure we have seen variations of these over the years, but it is here all in one place and they all work well together. The spells are good. At first I balked at 10th level spells, but really they are for the most part other people's 9th level spells, so they work for me.

The magic items are nice, but for me the value is in the classes and the spells.

Who should buy this? If you play old-school games and enjoy playing different sorts of Magic-Users then this is a must have book. If you are looking to expand your class offerings or even add a few new spells then this is also a good choice. Personally I think it is a great book and I am glad I picked it up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts
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Crypts and Things
Publisher: D101 Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/25/2013 12:55:10
Crypts & Things is one of those games that has been sitting in my "to be read" pile forever. It is an Old School game built off of Swords & Wizardry. Some of the material is familiar to anyone that has played S&W or any of the various D&D/Retro-clone games. Where C&T differs is in scope (what the characters can eventually do vs what the creatures can already do) and tone. C&T is very much "Conan vs. The Horrors". It tries to go after the same ethos as say Dungeon Crawl Classics or Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I think though it succeeds where those two games fail with me because it still assumes that the characters, rough cut as they are, are still something of a hero.

The game begins with the same basic info on Abilities found in all old-school games. We get to classes. Here there are some changes. The Barbarian is a core class for example. The Magic-User and Cleric are now rolled into a Magician, which is not a bad change really. They are stronger than their OSR counterparts (d6 HD vs the more common d4). The Magician also can channel White, Grey or black magic; so effectively 3 classes. The other classes are Fighter and Thief. If you don't like Clerics (as a seperate class), well this is your game.

Hit points are also handled differently in C&T. It is less health and more a measure of health, will, and determination to live. Honestly it is the same as a house rule I used to use back in the day.

There is a completely old-school Random Life Events table (which, like most everything in this book, can be used with other games).There are a few pages on equipment, on styles of play and about 20 pages of spells.
Additionally there is a minimalist Sanity mechanic that I thinks works rather well. I am a huge critic of sanity mechanics in RPGs and I feel that most never get it right, especially in a heroics-based rpg. While there is a lot of room for interpretation in these rules, the gist of the rules are good. I can certainly say I don't hate this mechanic.

The rest of the book (about 3/5 ths) is devoted to the game master or Crypt Keeper. This includes a little bit about the assumed game world, a pastiche of Howard, Lovecraft, Smith, Moorcock and other Appendix N luminaries. Normally I scoff at this, but here it works rather well. More to point it can also be ignored or added as needed since it doesn't take up a lot of space.
Next we have Treasure. Like many games of this sort there is not a lot of magic items. Indeed there are only 20 total; designed to be rare and special.
After that is the monster listings. This is what really sets this game above and beyond it's peers. There are plenty of monsters here both new and old. There is also a monster creation section.
We end the main book with a sample adventure.
13 Appendices follow that would work for any game and finally a great looking character sheet.

What is Crypts & Things good for?
It is a great addition to any S&W game for starters. Get it for the monsters alone, or the revised Magician or Barbarian. There is something here new for you.
It is a great addition to any OSR game for a grittier, "us against the darkness" sort of game.
In terms of horror, it is the subtle creeping horror. It is somewhere between Ravenloft (minus the camp and cliches) and Call of Cthulhu. Though unlike those games which has the implication of "looking for trouble" in C&T trouble comes for you.

Honestly almost everything you need to know about C&T is on that cover. A magician and barbarian fighting snake-like lizard men.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crypts and Things
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B1 Journey to Hell
Publisher: Sacrosanct Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/19/2013 16:19:55
I bought this on a whim but I am so glad I did.

First off you get a lot of adventure for your buck. 45 pages of adventures and maps (granted it is the same adventure twice, but still).
The artwork is great, coming primarily from sources like The Inferno. This is quite fitting given that the adventure itself is quite reminiscent of Dante's great tale.

It is dual stated for the OSRIC and Altus Adventum Role-Playing Games, always a plus in my book, but it can be played with any number of OSR systems or their fore-bearers.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B1 Journey to Hell
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Villains and Vigilantes
Publisher: Monkey House Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2013 07:29:45
V&V was written by Jack Herman and Jeff Dee. Jeff Dee got his start on D&D doing some of the classic module art and book art for the 1st edition game. So the game has some obvious D&D roots.
V&V was unique at the time (and still somewhat) in that in the game you play yourself. You work out with the other players what your strength, endurance, intelligence and the rest are and then you roll randomly on a table of super powers. It's a very interesting and fun concept that we completely ignored. Back in the day we liked playing a "multi-verse" so our V&V characters were our D&D characters in a supers universe. The stats were the mostly the same and both games had levels. Plus it gave us excuses to have strengths of 50 or more (human max is 18). I remember it being a very good time.

As typical of many old school games there are lots of random rolls, charts and a fair amount of math involved. I went back recently to make a character and was thrilled to see that Monkey House Games had an Excel character sheet. The math isn't hard really, but Excel is still faster. Though such things have been around for a long time even with the older edition.

Powers are list by type. So Power Blast is just a blast of some sort of power. It could be Superman's heat vision, Iron Man's repulsors, or even Zatanna's magical blast. What is interesting is the combat matrix of powers vs. defenses and how they interact. Again, the D&D DNA is here since it reminds me of the Psionic Powers Attacks vs Defenses in 1st Ed AD&D.

There is a V&V campaign world as well. It is loosely defined in the core books, but much greater detail is given in the supplements. It is also one of the few Supers games I can recall where the characters were working for the government at some level.

There are a couple of great sections on Being a Superhero and Gamemastering that work great with any supers RPG.

IF you like old school RPGs and want to get into a supers game that feels like those, then this is a great choice. The price is low and there are plenty of places on the web that support either version of the game with materials, character write-ups and community.

What sets this apart from the earlier 2nd edition is newer are and generally cleaned up text. Monkey House also has a number of support documents on their website for free.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villains and Vigilantes
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Villains and Vigilantes
Publisher: Fantasy Games Unlimited
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/06/2013 07:28:22
V&V was written by Jack Herman and Jeff Dee. Jeff Dee got his start on D&D doing some of the classic module art and book art for the 1st edition game. So the game has some obvious D&D roots.

V&V was unique at the time (and still somewhat) in that in the game you play yourself. You work out with the other players what your strength, endurance, intelligence and the rest are and then you roll randomly on a table of super powers. It's a very interesting and fun concept that we completely ignored. Back in the day we liked playing a "multi-verse" so our V&V characters were our D&D characters in a supers universe. The stats were the mostly the same and both games had levels. Plus it gave us excuses to have strengths of 50 or more (human max is 18). I remember it being a very good time.

As typical of many old school games there are lots of random rolls, charts and a fair amount of math involved. I went back recently to make a character and was thrilled to see that there are Excel character sheets. The math isn't hard really, but Excel is still faster. Though such things have been around for a long time even with the older edition.

Powers are list by type. So Power Blast is just a blast of some sort of power. It could be Superman's heat vision, Iron Man's repulsors, or even Zatanna's magical blast. What is interesting is the combat matrix of powers vs. defenses and how they interact. Again, the D&D DNA is here since it reminds me of the Psionic Powers Attacks vs Defenses in 1st Ed AD&D.

There is a V&V campaign world as well. It is loosely defined in the core books, but much greater detail is given in the supplements. It is also one of the few Supers games I can recall where the characters were working for the government at some level.

There are a couple of great sections on Being a Superhero and Gamemastering that work great with any supers RPG.

IF you like old school RPGs and want to get into a supers game that feels like those, then this is a great choice. The price is low (under 10 bucks at the time of this review) and there are plenty of places on the web that support either version of the game with materials, character write-ups and community. FGU has a large number of supplements here as well. More than enough to keep you playing for years.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Villains and Vigilantes
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Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2013 14:09:54
The Codex Celtarum is written by Brian Young. He is a gamer and an academic in Celtic history and languages and all around nice guy. Honestly he is the kind of guy I want writing this sort of thing. You talk to him and get the feeling that he could immediately tell you a story from the Mabinogion and it would roll off his tongue like the bards of old. This is the guy you want working on your Celtic game.

The first thing I noticed in his introduction was his acknowledgement of the differences in legend and in history and where he was putting his cards. For me, as someone that has had to have the same tug of war, the value of this book went up several degrees.
Before moving on to the book itself I spent a lot of time with Castles & Crusades again, this time from the point of view of a Celtic-themed game. Honestly I think it might be one of the better systems to do it with.

The book itself is divided into eight sections plus the forward.
Now at this point it should be noted that the design of this book is to play in a Faery realm, so it is something you can drop into any game world. There are some game-based assumptions made, but nothing to keep you from making this your own.

Chapter 1: Once Upon A Time covers the creation of the Celtic universe including the various wars that happened at the dawn of time and various personalities. We are introduced to various gods. The Horned One and the Blue Hag take central stage. At this point I want to say that reading this is like reading a story of old as an adult; familiar yet nuanced in ways I didn't know then. For me the myths and tales this is based on are familiar, but this is new telling for a new world. We are treated to so many names that are familiar and new at the same time; The Tuatha Dé Dannan, Danu, Lir, Goíbhníu, it's like hearing the names of old friends. In a mere 6 pages we have the whole background of the world to the present day. Nothing extra, nothing left out.

Chapter 2: In Lands Far Away details the physical and metaphysical lands of Faery and mortal plane they touch. There are the Two Cauldrons, Night & Day (which have affects on the faery) and the Twelve Houses of the Gods (with a cool map). Given the subject the human lands are the British Ilses and Ireland and given the author we get a lot of Welsh names. The faery lands don't have the same rules of nature as the mortal realms. So there are some tables about the odd passage of time or the nature of the land. Normally I would balk at this sort of randomness, but here it not only works, it is part and parcel of the mythos. BTW if you don't quite recognize the map of the lands, hold it up to a mirror.

Chapter 3: There Lived a People has everything you want to know about the Faery races. This includes the major sub-races (Light, Darkness and Twilight) and traits faeries can have. Now the utility of this chapter should be obvious. I will also add that if you want to give your FRPG Elves a nice shot in the arm then adopt this part of book. We are given detail (in terms of monster stat blocks) of the Children of Light, Children of Twilight and Children of Darkness. Nearly every Celtic-fae type is here in one form or another. There are lot of new creatures here (unless you are very familiar with Celtic myths) and some that I don't believe have ever been featured in a game book before. There are also plenty of Faery beasts and supernatural animals. We also get some giants, but no stats since they are legendary.

Chapter 4: Great of Magic and Power details, what else, magic. If human wizards study magic and human priests pray for it then the Fae ARE magic. The distinction is not a subtle one. The magical powers here are listed as spells. So they can be used by the fae as if they were spells, but that robs them of what makes them so interesting. Instead go with the suggestion in the book that each member of the fae get a number of special powers based on their intelligence. And there are plenty of powers here! If you are anything like me and love magic, spells or powers for characters then this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. I have to admit I am pleased to see similar powers here as to what I have in Ghosts of Albion under Faerie Powers. It tells me that we were drawing from similar sources. There are plenty of differences though allowing for personal preference, but it shows that Brian and I were thinking along similar lines.

Chapter 5: Strong of Feats and Deeds handles what the Celts did best. Fighting. Well they did other things too, but this is what those stories were all about. If your fighting-type characters felt left out in the last chapter, then this is one help you out. Plenty of options. I particularly liked the Tattoo magic. There are feats as well. Before you panic these are feats in the traditional sense of the word and there are only a score of them. If you have read any of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, then these are the feats of Cú Chulainn. There are also some fighting orders detailed such as The War Sisters, the Fian (Fianna) and the Dragons of Prydain (of which the most famous is Arthur).

Chapter 6: With Great Gods and Heroes covers the gods, demigods and heroes of the lands. We have been introduced to a few already like The Horned One and his wild Hunt. Arthur is mentioned as well as my personal favorite Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool). There are no stats for these gods or heroes. Why? That is easy. They are not meant to be killed or even interacted with. They are the legends of this land.

Chapter 7: Great of Name and Mighty of Deeds covers new rules. First up are changes to the various character classes. Not a lot needs to be altered here. Again as I mentioned above, the classes in C&C are based around concepts and skills rather than powers, these can translate better. There are some new classes too. The Woodwose is something like a wildman, a mix of barbarian and ranger. These are humans that have lived in Faery a little too long. The Wolf Charmer are something like a Beast Master. They charm animals to follow them. There are some adventure hooks from classical Celtic tales. A list of names for characters from Brythonic and Gaelic roots.

The last part, Chapter 8: Items Enchanted and Divine, are all the pieces that didn't fit above. But it still has a lot of good material. We get a nice discussion on Faery Metals and how they can be used. There is a list of divine items (artifacts in other games) listed by owner; that's right the Gáe Bulga is not just lying around waiting for you to find it. No this +8 spear (!) is well in the hands of Cú Chulainn.
Ogham is discussed and the various societies and cultures of the heroic age; the Picts, the Britons, the Anglo-Saxons and the Gaels. Holidays around the isles are also detailed.
We end with a map.

Ok. So what can say here.
First the book is absolutely excellent. I am insane with jealousy on how good it is really. At 176 pages it crams a lot into space. I love the feel of this book. There is something about that just feels right to me and it makes C&C the perfect system to play a Celtic-based Faery game. Now. Some points of clarification again. This isn't a book about playing in a Celtic society per se. There is no "day in the life of a Celtic warrior" bit. Only lip service is given to Bronze Age tech or what the larger Gaelic society was like. Also this book isn't about playing "weird elves". There is nothing here for example from the Germanic tradition of Faerie stories. The aim of this book is very specific. If you are looking for one of the above sorts of books then this might not fit your bill.
But if you are looking for a book to play in that intersection of Celtic myth and Faery lore, then this is the book you want.
As with all C&C books the layout is clean and easy to read. The art is fantastic.
If you are a fan of Celtic myth, Faery lore, or Castles & Crusades then I highly recommend this book. Even if you don't play C&C, I would get this book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum
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BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules
Publisher: Dreamscape Design
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2013 14:00:36
At 60 pages it is a small but complete retro-clone of the Holmes Basic game.
The price is great. If you are looking to get into the Old School Renascence and play some old-school games, then this a great place to start.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules
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Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 6
Publisher: Art Fantasies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2013 13:57:34
11 hi-res Computer 3-D images. Both in JPG and TIFF formats.
Easy to understand and use license. Images are predominately fantasy and maybe even a little Cheesecake. But that is what it says it is on the cover, so that is exactly what I was wanting/buying. Vague anime feel to all the images, again, to be expected and what I was looking for. But not as much as previous volumes in this series. You can see the growth of the artist(s) in these.
Not sure where I'll use them yet, but I have them for when I do.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 6
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Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 5
Publisher: Art Fantasies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2013 13:56:20
11 hi-res Computer 3-D images. Both in JPG and TIFF formats.
Easy to understand and use license. Images are predominately fantasy and maybe even a little Cheesecake. But that is what it says it is on the cover, so that is exactly what I was wanting/buying. Vague anime feel to all the images, again, to be expected and what I was looking for.
Not sure where I'll use them yet, but I have them for when I do.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 5
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Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 4
Publisher: Art Fantasies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2013 13:55:17
11 hi-res Computer 3-D images. Both in JPG and TIFF formats.
Easy to understand and use license. Images are predominately fantasy and maybe even a little Cheesecake. But that is what it says it is on the cover, so that is exactly what I was wanting/buying. Vague anime feel to all the images, again, to be expected and what I was looking for.
Not sure where I'll use them yet, but I have them for when I do.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 4
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Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 3
Publisher: Art Fantasies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2013 13:54:10
11 hi-res Computer 3-D images. Both in JPG and TIFF formats.
Easy to understand and use license. Images are predominately fantasy and maybe even a little Cheesecake. But that is what it says it is on the cover, so that is exactly what I was wanting/buying. Vague anime feel to all the images, again, to be expected and what I was looking for.
Not sure where I'll use them yet, but I have them for when I do.
This one has a couple of witches and demoness I really like.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 3
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Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 2
Publisher: Art Fantasies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2013 13:53:13
11 hi-res Computer 3-D images. Both in JPG and TIFF formats.
Easy to understand and use license. Images are predominately fantasy and maybe even a little Cheesecake. But that is what it says it is on the cover, so that is exactly what I was wanting/buying. Vague anime feel to all the images, again, to be expected and what I was looking for.
Not sure where I'll use them yet, but I have them for when I do. A good number of witches in this, which I like.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 2
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Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 1
Publisher: Art Fantasies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2013 13:52:08
11 hi-res Computer 3-D images. Both in JPG and TIFF formats.
Easy to understand and use license. Images are predominately fantasy and maybe even a little Cheesecake. But that is what it says it is on the cover, so that is exactly what I was wanting/buying. Vague anime feel to all the images, again, to be expected and what I was looking for.
Not sure where I'll use them yet, but I have them for when I do.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 1
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Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 1,2,3,4,5,6 [BUNDLE]
Publisher: Art Fantasies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2013 13:46:46
Bundle of 6 Fantasy Women Clipart. Not bad for the price. See individual volumes for full reviews.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Women Clipart Volume 1,2,3,4,5,6 [BUNDLE]
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