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Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/26/2014 13:29:05
Whether you are after a unique item for your combat wardrobe, want to know just what to do with the remains of the last creature you slew or have designs on a profitable sideline selling helmets and shields, this might prove of interest.

First up we get straight to the bottom line: how much do monster hide helmets and shields cost? Important for both buyer and seller, or even if you are finding the raw materials and want to know how much to charge the craftsman who wants them. Or of course, if you are dividing the spoils of an adventure and include stuff you can make helmets and shields out of.

Next are three feats: Monstrous Aspect, Taxidermic Crafter and Terrifying Trophy. Interestingly, only Taxidermic Crafter is for the would-be craftsman, the other two are for people who choose to wear items made from monster bits, enabling them to draw on them to gain special powers. This might at least get some people think about getting such items...

The next section looks at different kinds of helmets and what you need to make them. A few completely developed examples are given, but the main strength is giving you the tools (game mechanical tools I mean, not craft ones!) to design and make a helmet out of whatever monster parts you can obtain, and deduce appropriate special properties or characteristics. Finally, shields get the same treatment.

Perhaps this is a rather specialist niche area. Many characters won't be particularly interested. But even if they don't want to start crafting or commissioning monster hide helmets and shields, they could make interesting items to fill out a treasure horde.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
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A Little Adventure
Publisher: Aegis Studios
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/26/2014 12:19:35
This presents a useful NPC for any GM to have to hand: a sassy pixie information broker (and treasure hunter./thief) called Devlin Chaplain. In it, you get her full character sheet and background details (along with a charming portrait by Sade), and some delightful extras.

Well, she is a treasure hunter, after all. So here are four magical items that she has, or had at some time. Or might have sometime in the future. Each has not just its full details, stats and an illustration, there is also an adventure seed associated with each one. The items are a Mobile Hide-Site Rifle, a really neat bit of kit if you are a sniper; Nancy's Necklace of Not-so-smallness (which for most people makes them grow to giant size, if you start off pixie-sized you reach medium!); the Ring of Assassin's Advantage and the Vision Pipe. Most of the adventure seeds involve the theft of the item in question, either by Devlin or from her.

There's also a couple of size-related spells: Enlarge and Shrink.

Just a neat little collection that brings something quite fantastical into your campaign world.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Little Adventure
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed A Little Adventure!
Foreven Worlds: Fessor Subsector (Traveller)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/25/2014 12:13:38
New worlds to explore is what Traveller is all about - and here is an area with considerable scope, as much is not aligned with the big power blocs (Imperium, Zhodani, etc) and parts even unexplored... territory your party might put their own stamp on, maybe even establishing their own government.

Most of the worlds in Fessor Subsector either stand alone or as part of small multi-world states, with many regimes being noted for their tendency to be led by warlords or dictators rather than public servants in office for the good of their citizens. Other worlds began as colonies of like-minded folk seeking freedom (perhaps to practice a particular way of life) and some have even retained that spirit. Others were sponsored by corporations, content provided a regular supply of whatever resource sent them there in the first place is maintained.

As well as a formal UPP, each world gets a write-up of several paragraphs that gives a summary overview of what that planet is like. Whist short, these pen-pictures give a good feel of the overall picture at an appropriate level for a visitor to the planet - and should provide plenty of ideas for inventive referees should the party decide to go there.

A nice part of the universe to visit, scope for adventure without being the sort of place nobody in their right mind would visit. Oh, and they have pirates, too!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Foreven Worlds: Fessor Subsector (Traveller)
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Demoncall Pit
Publisher: Gaming Paper
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2014 12:06:12
A compelling backstory launches an epic adventure in which the party is called upon to stem an influx of demons called up by a ritual spoken of in prophecy... what is there not to like?

There are suggestions as to how to get the characters involved, and a wealth of notes to help you run the adventure effectively - especially as clue-finding and puzzle-solving are inherent to the plot and not all groups favour such things, or find solving puzzles easy. Ways to make this work with the group you have - after all, you know them and their preferences! - are given, select the route that suits the folk at your table.

But fear not, there is plenty of demon-slaying, undead to turn or otherwise defeat and treasure to grab so whether or not your party likes puzzles they will have plenty to deal with.

Basically, the adventure involves the characters advancing on a crypt out of which demons are already streaming, with the intent of doing something about it. Simple, yet challenging. It's all go from the outset, supported by an extensive map and concise but evocative descriptions. Notes continue the introductory theme, providing information on how to cope with whatever the party throws at you. Players being players, they WILL come up with something you haven't thought of, but used carefully the information provided will enable you to cope, and cope well (especially if you are well-prepared and know the module well in advance!).

As you can imagine with demons streaming forth, the consequences of both success and failure are going to be quite critical as far as the world is concerned. Four possible outcomes are discussed, one of which involves the party visiting the Abyss (and yet again, it's explained how to manage that, if you are even willing to run such an excursion). Overall, a well-contrived and exciting adventure presented a good challenge to an organised and competent party. Enjoy!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demoncall Pit
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Fate+Fiction: Semper Fidelis (Fate RPG)
Publisher: Asparagus Jumpsuit
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2014 10:38:06
This is extremely thought provoking... and what really makes you think is not the overt concept of a piece of fiction and the role-playing snippets you can extract from it, but the underlying thought-processes of how to look at something you read and glean it clean for role-playing ideas.

Now, this is something that I have been doing ever since I started role-playing, a mere couple of years before the author did, but he explains it so well, breaking it down and relating the elements to different aspects of the game system of choice (here, of course, the FATE system).

The story itself is but an hundred words or so. It would be easy to dismiss it as holding little for a role-player to grab hold of... but you'd be wrong. Just a few words can contain a lot if you look at them in the right way, and here you are shown how.

I'd recommend you to buy this, but it's free! No reason at all not to pick it up and read it through.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate+Fiction: Semper Fidelis (Fate RPG)
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Mythic Mastery: Mythic Curses
Publisher: Necromancers of the Northwest
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2014 12:40:09
Curses can be rather fun... well, not if you are on the receiving end. But in terms of interesting events, a curse can be a powerful plot driver, although hitherto, game mechanics have not supported curses well despite their role-playing potential.

Here is an attempt to redress this, by making curses more interesting mechanically. Basically, curses are treated as intelligent entities capable of employing various powers each day against the luckless soul who is cursed. Each curse has a set of 'moral axioms', a code of behaviour which it wishes to impose on the victim and it uses its powers to modify the victim's behaviour by a mechanism whereby it is granted extra ones if the victim does not conform! The fun bit is that the character afflicted may have no idea, at least at first, what moral axioms the curse has.

To throw off a curse, the victim may seek magical help or attempt more exotic methods such as following the curse's moral axioms to such an extent that it no longer has effect. Also, each curse designed using this system will have a method for removal included - again, not something the victim will be privy to.

Five mythic curses are provided as examples, which may be used as presented or as a basis for your own designs. These curses - Ageing, Babble, Gender Reversal, Ill Fortune and Petrification - do not come with their own moral axioms, however a list of suitable ones is provided so you may add whichever you feel are appropriate. These can involve things like controlling fear or your temper, displaying generousity or even avoiding drunkenness. Interestingly, the moral axioms presented are all good things. It's entirely likely that a curse bestowed by an evil creature may have a more malign influence!

Finally, if you decide to let characters bestow curses as well as suffer them, there is a Mythic Curse feat that the would-be curser can take.

Altogether interesting, and certainly making curses more exciting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Mastery: Mythic Curses
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City of Shiran E14: Bull Ring Tavern
Publisher: Columbia Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2014 10:47:16
This nice little write-up describes a tavern in the City of Shiran. As always, it is embedded beautifully into the setting, with little details that bring it to life and a few adventure hooks thrown in.

This is no ordinary tavern. It lurks unmarked in the cellars of a warehouse, but is popular with local working folk and with members of the nobility who have a taste for low-life and blood sports for the Bull Ring boasts a combat arena in which dogs, rats, cocks, badgers and men fight. Fighters can make good money, if they survive victorious, and of course betting on the outcome thrives.

The normal residents of the building sound decidely unpleasant types, indeed the entire tavern is ripe for clearing out by decent and upstanding citizens. If your party, however, has more disreputable tastes they may find it a suitable watering hole and a place to make useful contacts.

There is a page of descriptive material about the tavern and what transpires there, floorplans and room descriptions and four hooks to get the party involved with the place.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Shiran E14: Bull Ring Tavern
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Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure
Publisher: Creative Mountain Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2014 10:59:42
System neutral adventures are always handy, provided you are comfortable statting up any NPCs and monsters to your chosen game mechanics... and this one is designed to be easy to slot into your campaign world as well.

So, it starts with a township that tired of warfare, and so established a methodology of setting disbutes via tabletop wargaming rather than the more lethal full-scale variety of combat. This inititative was led by local wizards, but recently one suffered a malicious and devastating arson attack... can the party help bring the arsonist to book?

The adventure works at several levels. To start with, it's a neat little action adventure that, if completed successfully, will give the characters a feeling of accomplishment, of having done something to help the community. At another level, if you have been involved in the background to the role-playing hobby, there are all manner of cunning references and nods to people and other things that have influenced it - yet this self-reference is not overdone, and if you have never heard of them it won't detract from your enjoyment of the adventure as an adventure in the slightest.

There's lots of colourful detail about the township, called Gamington, and the surrounding area, including an enticing array of businesses. Local legends abound and as an added bonus there's an epic poem that tells the tale of the adventure as it might play out... although hopefully your party won't meet quite so many gruesome fates! Another nice touch is convenient blank boxes to scribble in your own notes, stats and other game mechanics when you are preparing to run the adventure.

The work is richly illustrated, and has some useful maps. There are also a collection of NPCs (who could be used as the basis for pre-generated characters), all you'll need to do is add stats approriate to your chosen game system.

It should prove a fun adventure, and buying it contributes to a good cause as well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure
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City of Cherafir D5: Clothier
Publisher: Columbia Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2014 07:54:24
You'd never think there was so much to write about a garment shop, but this is filled with little snippets that make this small but prosperous establishment fair spring to life!

This is a very speciast place, an ecclesiastical robe-maker's shop - a broad minded one, they cater to several faiths - providing the very best in vestments and other apparel to the well-heeled religious. Fine embroidery, gold thread, silks in delicate and rare shades, it's all here. Perhaps there's the odd hidden secret as well.

Crammed into a scant two pages are a wealth of background detail, a full plan and description of the premises and several adventure ideas involving the shop and its inhabitants.

It is this level of detail that makes a place really come to life, a sheer delight to have even if your characters walk straight by without a second glance... and if they don't, why you have every last detail at your fingertips, whether that high-level cleric in the party wants some ceremonial garb or if they want to get involved in any of the adventures described, or one of your own.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Cherafir D5: Clothier
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Of Towns and Heroes
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2014 07:28:44
Are you running out of ideas for how to make the townships the party visits in the course of their adventures interesting?

This may provide the answer, being an hundred little ideas for events and side-adventures that can happen within whatever settlement the characters are in at the time. Each situation is applicable to any fantasy game, not just BareBones Fantasy - the upside of this is you can make use of this supplement whatever game you run, the downside is that you will have to develop any necessary NPC/monster stats or other game mechanics required (indeed, you will even if you are playing BareBones Fantasy....).

Some of the adventures suggested will occupy mere moments, others have the potential to develop into full-blown adventures in their own right, if not into whole campaigns... or at least, events whose ramifications haunt the party for years to come, at least whenever they visit that particular settlement again.

Interspersed with the adventure ideas are some charming 'hand-drawn' sketches of town layouts. You could make use of these for the various settlements visited, if you like.

Overall, if urban adventuring is not the main thrust of your game, this could prove very useful in ensuring that visits to towns are never boring. On the other hand, if you want to develop city-based adventuring more, this should kick-start your ideas and help you develop this aspect of your plotting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Of Towns and Heroes
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100 Places Of Fantasy Geography
Publisher: Fishwife Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2014 08:28:33
It's always a bit tricky to find names for everything when you are mapping out a new corner of your campaign world. In real life, place names grow and develop from all manner of things - visible features, names of local landowners, corruptions of older languages - yet when you are mapping you have to just pull them out of a hat.

So here's a helper - a list of an hundred names for places. You may like them, you may even be amused by working out why the name you have rolled (or picked) is appropriate for the place you have assigned it to...

The good thing is most of them sound reasonably plausible. The downside is that they are listed alphabetically, rather than by the type of place... so if you know you are looking for a name for a stream, you cannot check 'stream names' but have to search for the ones that are... or of course, take any name and decide that it is a stream name rather than the island or jungle name that it's given as.

The best use is that it's a good way to get your own creative juices flowing. Just read it and you'll start coming up with your own variations... get your map out and get busy!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
100 Places Of Fantasy Geography
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Yarr! The Rules Light Pirate RPG
Publisher: BD Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2014 12:45:39
'Rules Light' doesn't mean that they have neglected the rules, just that they are streamlined and unobtrusive, unlikely to get in the way of best-quality pirate role-playing action!

You get everything that you will need to unleash a band of pirates across the ocean quickly and simply. Characters are generated by describing them, the only numbers you need are level, armour class and hit points. The rest flows from the class and special abilities that you choose for your pirate. Accompanying notes encourage you to enable creativity (especially if you have youngsters trying their first hand at role-playing) by letting players have any ability that they can articulate, or be of a different class that they come up with, showing you how to assign skills etc. in a balanced way by mixing existing rules as appropriate.

Combat, indeed any task resolution, is handled simply as well with an eye to keeping the action (and the excitement) flowing... and yet there is scope for plenty of detail if that is how you like to play, special moves, different damage depending on weapons and much, much more.

There's pirate ship-to-ship combat as well as the up close and personal variety, which can be conducted in a fast, abstract manner or in as much detail as would satisfy any board wargamer's heart, depending on what you and your group prefer. There are also some beasts, and the scope for magic, undead, and other fantasy staples. Although these are presented as inherent, you could excise them quite easily if it's 'real' pirates you are after rather than the fantasy variety. Given the apparent Caribbean setting (this is assumed rather than mentioned outright), there's Voodoo as well. And legendary monsters like the Kraken to come and wrap its tentacles around the pirate ship.

There's a surprisingly sensible section on Pirate Talk, providing some proper nautical jargon and pirate terms as well as pointers to develop the correct silly accent if you want to go Arrr all the time. Details of special treasures, a detailed skill list and a selection of character sheets round this out.

Don't be deluded by 'rules light' or a preponderance of pirate talk, this is a solid, quite elegant, role-playing game based around that ever-popular thing, the pirate in the age of sail. If that appeals, do try this out. You'll have a blast.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Yarr! The Rules Light Pirate RPG
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Mindblast! - Classic Monsters Augmented (PFRPG-Psionics))
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2014 11:56:38
It's an interesting idea, that if you want to use psionics in your game, every creature might become psionically active. Or at least, have the chance to, just as some sentients will be but most will not.

So, if that takes your fancy, here are a whole bunch of well-known familiar monsters retooled to have psionic abilities as well as teeth and claws and whatever. The neat thing is, they are not just the monster you already know with psionics tacked on, read through the descriptive text and you will find that they have become quite different creatures, subtly twisted to become something else entirely. Use the original non-psionic version as well and really catch the party out!

There's a quick psionic primer, but if you are not familiar with the underlying concepts you may be a bit lost: Read 'Psionics Unleashed' by Dreamscarred Press to get the full picture.

A lot of the monsters are evil, and those who are not are generally neutral, like the Cat Psionic (thought all cats were a bit that way inclined anyway) or the Crystal Eater, a remote cousin of a Rust Monster which scoffs crystal rather than ruins metal. The Golden-Eyed Owlbear is more intelligent than the mundane version, unfortunately it may be smarter but it is no less vicious and bad-tempered. And as for the Red... it is a psionic hobgoblin, and a really nasty piece of work.

Each creature comes with a picture as well as full stat block and descriptive text. The picture of the Golden-Eyed Owlbear is particularly beautiful, with fur and feathers blending in a realistic manner.

An appendix contains psionic feats and powers for those wanting to explore some new ones. Plenty of scope for confusing, dominating or plain scaring your enemies there.

Overall a nice collection that is plausible within the context of psionics having developed within your campaign world, rather than having arrived from elsewhere. Well worth considering if you want to run a campaign that includes psionics as something that is around, generally available, embedded within the fabric of your alternate reality rather than an alien force imported in to it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mindblast! - Classic Monsters Augmented (PFRPG-Psionics))
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100 Welsh Names - Female
Publisher: Ennead Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/14/2014 12:56:28
A nice collection of just a few Welsh girl's names for anyone wanting a Celtic feel to their game (or if a contemporary game takes you into Wales).

Try not to get your tongue knotted... Welsh is in fact a phonetic language, it is just that Welsh phonetics are like nothing else! A quick guide - a single F comes out like a V, a double FF is like F in English... and Y is a vowel. LL is like the 'CH' in loch...

And just to give you a bonus: MY name (Megan) is Welsh, and my daughter's middle name is Angharad, another Welsh name.

My parents always said that they chose Megan because they were living in London at the time and wanted a Welsh name the English could pronounce!!!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
100 Welsh Names - Female
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Midgard Tales Map & Art Folio (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/14/2014 10:57:17
If you are running Midgard Tales and like showing your players what their characters see, grab a copy of this...

It's packed with maps, floorplans and illustrations apposite to each of the Midgard Tales adventures - each one occupying a full page (so no trying to hide other things when showing the players something) and unlabelled so that nothing is given away.

The plans are particularly useful as many of the complexes visited in the course of these adventures are of unusual shapes and prove quite tricky to describe in words. What is it that they say: a picture's worth a thousand words?

The illustrations, in a range of different styles, will also help you bring various scenes and characters to life as the game proceeds.

OK, you don't need this to run Midgard Tales, but using it to effect has the potential to enhance your adventures with some quality visuals.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Tales Map & Art Folio (Pathfinder RPG)
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