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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2014 10:14:04
An absolutely great product, I'm not sure how more value could be crammed within these pages. I love the human-centric system and the base/expanded class options. I originally bought the pdfs for AS&SH and then just had to have a hard copy, so I ordered one for my nightstand. Although I plan to run a game of this sometime in the future, some of the material is already working its way into my current campaign, it is an incredibly rich resource to mine. Cthulhu, Burrows-esc high adventure, Amazons, Conan...this game hits all the right epic genres from the 1880's to the present.

The generic things that make pdfs/game books easy to use have not been ignored either. Mundane things like font size and layout are superb and the books are well edited.

Definitely a 5 out of 5 product!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
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Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome Subscription
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/09/2013 10:12:37
I ponied up for the subscription of this module so I will probably get a few words in on each piece as it becomes available. The pdf for this installment is 10 pages long, which for $2.50/2.99 might not hit people’s sense of value too well, especially when the first page is the cover and the second is the licensing information, so right there you’re down to 8 pages of content. I appreciate material for my favorite game system and I’m willing to pay to keep the content coming, but I was concerned with the low page count from the moment I opened the file and that nagging voice at the back of my mind never quite let up the entire time I was reading the content.

As for the content it is packed fairly tightly, for my group this would be an evening worth of fun…well fun if I enjoyed it, I’m not sure how well my players would respond to some of the viscous traps. There is very much the potential to kill characters here and at the very least you can expect some of them to be poisoned or gain a cursed item or two. So for all this negative potential, how does the treasure stack up? There is some good loot to be gained from the Beneath the Dome; a few +1 weapons, a +2 long sword, some protective gear and a smattering of scrolls with new spells. The magical items seem geared towards fighter types primarily.

What I don’t like:
• The length; a couple extra pages of content with a few more rooms would have tipped me towards the positive on this.
• The new spells. Honestly if I were playing a spell caster I wouldn’t consider using any of them except in incredibly limited circumstances; they seem underpowered for the level. As these appear on scrolls in a place where they could be useful this isn’t terrible, but the fact that there are limited rewards for spell casters makes them a form of treasure, one which is lacking for the wizard/cleric types that came along.
• Some of the text is confusing; there were a few minor grammatical things that threw me off.

What I like:
• The artwork is good, the cover especially. Also the art doesn’t intrude or dominate the pages as ‘filler’.
• Lots of descriptions for the various locations.
• The challenge is good for an appropriately leveled group. None of the monsters require magic or special weapons to hit and whacking zombies is always a good time.

‘Beneath the Dome’ will work for me and I will use it. This kind of adventure is something I would not throw at a general purpose group, it screams as a challenge for a group of Knights, Paladins and Fighters (good aligned) who need a challenge to clean out a den of definite, no gray areas, evil. 4-5 2nd level fighter types should be up to the challenge, swapping a fighter out for a 3rd level thief and another for a 3rd level cleric should work just fine too. Magic users can stay home for this installment.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome Subscription
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Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2012 11:35:55
My players have been wandering around the wilderness for ages and complaining about a decent place where they can unload some of the coins and treasure they have been lugging around. I've been dragging my feet about giving them a place to do this as I want to make the location special for them, you know, filled with memorable characters and scenes, and some adventure hooks with perhaps a tad of danger. Unfortunately I do not have a lot of time to design a decent city so when the "Town of Kalas" popped up on my social network I immediately snagged a copy.

First, the town is a little more light hearted than most of the Castles and Crusades supplements are, it is more magical and the otherworldliness is thrown in your face from the get go. This is not a low magic, gritty medieval city; it is a robust town that embraces the things that are in the world and uses them in ways that make sense. Be warned, there are some grammar/spelling issues with this supplement, nothing that set me off and in fact one had me laughing a bit in regards to a master work quarterstaff, something I am certain will be corrected promptly.

Now to the meat of it; the city is dissected into various locations that we have all come to expect with Inns, merchants, ships, nobles, and other nefarious NPCs around every corner and under every street. I like this, it gives the place a great feel and the brief descriptions of each of the major players is not overly done and not too sparse, it is just right. The writer has a sense of humor and isn't afraid to let it show through in the area descriptions, if you like your supplements to read like banks statements you may want to steer clear of Kalas.

In addition to the usual descriptions of areas and NPCs, there is some attention given to what the locals do for fun. The Axe Beak races are brilliant, people love or hate sports and this one little detail around which most of the populace has an opinion is well done. Most of the areas where social interaction occur also have a variety of random tables to generate on the fly encounters that bring the setting to life. I'm particularly fond of the unique menus and drinks (and their possible affects) of each of the inns and the "Celebrating to Excess" table, where you can roll to find out where/what condition the character is in the next morning. ("These are not my pants!", classic!)

There is some mature type content here too, (brothels, prostitution, drinking, drugs), but it is easily left out if you're playing with younger players and the supplement as a whole deserves the highest rating. It seems geared towards 1st to 7th level player characters, but could easily be scaled up if your PCs like to make trouble.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
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Castles & Crusades DA1 Dark Journey
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/24/2011 11:15:28
The Bad: Unexplained areas ‘K1’-‘K5’ on the first level and ‘T/T’s on level 2.

The Good: Every room has a great description and layout, I knew were things were in the room based on the descriptions given. The dungeon has a mix of everything, traps, puzzles, combat, deserted areas for the party to catch their breath in and a maze.

The Awesome: A 100 areas of fun, four new monsters and a great assortment of treasure for lower level characters.

This is a solid dungeon delving adventure that I was able to drop into an existing campaign with no problems. Each area of the dungeon comes with its own description and the stats/treasure of anything within that area. I love the combination of traps/riddles/combat; it hit the sweet spot for my group of players who tend to be heavy on the brawn, but get frustrated with overly complex puzzles.

I read the adventure through a few times before hand and modified the ‘K’ and ‘T/T’ areas on the map, plus changed one sequence of rooms on level two and the ‘end encounter’ with the bad guys to reflect my group of players, these changes were by no means necessary the module is excellent as written. However ‘Dark Journey’ easily lends itself to this sort of re-modeling to throw in that little something extra for your players. I can see myself reusing it as an introductory adventure to Castles and Crusades with new players in the future and can’t wait for Kim Harsfield’s next work.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades DA1 Dark Journey
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