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Edge of Infinity: The Scarred Planes
Publisher: Nocturnal & Onyx Path
by Robert D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/19/2013 18:52:12
Much of the foundation of this book will feel familiar to any existing fans of D&D's planar adventures (Planescape in particular) but pushed through the particular dark and dynamic lens of the Scarred Lands. The core cosmology is an abbreviated great wheel - Etheral, Astral, Shadow, Dreams, 4 elements and 8 aligned planes (each home to one of the gods of the pantheon). If it had just left off at that, this would have been an excellent resource for someone looking to jazz up Planescape, or to run a Planescape style game with a harsher tone, and it would have been worth 4 stars for that (and the supporting rules material). The extra star is earned by the Zodiac realms, one for each of the 16 constellations of Sharn and accessabel only when their sign is ascendant. Each of these realms is a bounded space, and while some are just extended lairs for Big Extraplanar Thingees, a handful of them are really quite interesting as idea seeds and potential adventure hooks.

I picked this up because I'm a planescape nut who enjoyed the Scarred Land material I'd read previous. I only accidentally discovered that this book existed, but it was definitely a good find.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Edge of Infinity: The Scarred Planes
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Feudal Characters: Noble
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group
by Robert D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/08/2008 13:58:13
This is a gorgeous, well laid out and well presented product, possibly the best produced 4e product I've seen from a third party publisher yet.

The contents are strong, but not quite as strong as the production. Designed as a multiclass (like the spellplagued in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide) rather than a full class, it offers all the powers necessary for that, but also provides a template and a sample NPC, both of which greatly increase the utility of this product. The inclusion of power cards for the abilities are a very nice touch.

The powers themselves are clever, though a little uneven. I am not 100% sure they are all intended to work exactly as they read, with the biggest disconnect coming from powers that require the target can hear you. There are also a few 3.x-isms that could be shaken off. Still, they're definitely much more good than bad.

With another round of smoothing of the powers, and the inclusion of either some at-will powers or a paragon path (the lack of these being a little jarring against he otherwise very complete contents) this could easily be a 5 star product, and even without that, it was worth my three bucks. I definitely will be lookign to see what Alea Publishing does in the future.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Feudal Characters: Noble
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Questers of the Middle Realms
Publisher: Silver Branch Games
by Robert D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/29/2006 00:00:00
So, I picked this up based off two things. First, I enjoy the PDQ system as something light, fast and playable, and second, because Chad Underkoffler had some nice things to say about it. Allin all, it was well worth the price of admission. It strikes a wonderful balance between making sure that play and setting grow around the players (rahter than leaving them as pure observers) without going intot he realmof GM-less play.

The humorous tone makes the setting a more enjoyable read, but honestly, while I think the system gives itself to slightly stylized play (with the assumed mode being a tongue in cheek nod to D&D) it woudl work just as well with something like Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser and other adventures on the urbane side of the Sword & Sorcery vein.


LIKED: The rules for handling gods are wonderful and easily stolen for other games. They assume an abundance of meddlesome deities, and it handles them in terms of their relationships to the players. The rules for organizations are also quite solid.

DISLIKED: Honestly, the rules excited me far more than the setting. It's not that there's anything wrong with the setting - it's a fun read and an entertaining attempt at a world where Adventurer logic makes sense - but if I want a fantasy setting to do this in, I already have a LOT to choose from. Heck, if I wanted to really embrace the satire, I'd just bust out the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk. Anyway, bottom line is that the non-setting material was so strong that I wish the ratio had been different.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Questers of the Middle Realms
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DM Design Kit
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Robert D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2005 00:00:00
Man, I bought this in a fit of nostalgia. It's got some great advice and the charts are first rate.

LIKED: The plot-generating charts are still first rate.

DISLIKED: Other content feels a little dated, but less thna you'd expect.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DM Design Kit
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Truth & Justice
Publisher: Atomic Sock Monkey Press
by Robert D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/22/2005 00:00:00
I purchased this in POD, and the first thign I must say is that if I did not know it was POD, there was nothing in my experience that would indicate otherwise. The book is of excellent quality, and arrived quite promptly.

The game itself is a joy. Lighter than most supers fare, it's not all the way into the conceptual/freeform arena, which makes a nice balance for when I want to kick evil's ass more than I want to tell a story. It's looking like a strong contender to knock SAS out of my top supers slot.

LIKED: The introductory breakdown of comics is a solid read. Additionally, while I've always loved the PDQ system, this seems a much cleaner presentation of it than, say, Dead Inside. It might be my imagination, but I think that the author has really hit stride with pitching the system.

DISLIKED: The cover was not really too my taste, but I'm not so much a Kirby Guy.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Truth & Justice
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Dead Inside: the Roleplaying Game of Loss & Redemption
Publisher: Atomic Sock Monkey Press
by Robert D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/22/2004 00:00:00
Ok, most straightforward praise I have for this is that I liked it enough that I subsequently bought the P.O.D. version.

I've been really happy with this for a number of reasons. First, this is a nice, solid basis for a slice of urban fantasy I'm really fond of - the model of their being a world of the supernatural but it simply not mattering to most people unless you end up stepping in it somehow (think Neverwhere or Midnight Nation). Since "stepping in it" in this case means losing your soul, it generally provides a very strong sense of impetus from the get go.

That said, the game s somewhat more deeply layered tan I expected. Certainly, the initial goal will usually be to get your soul back, but that's an attainable goal, and the game does not leave you hanging at that point. Beyond play as a Dead Inside is play as a Sensitive, a Magi and potentially beyond. There is no shortage of scope.

There are also numerous subtle elements that really shine. Sure, your characters are motivated to do good deeds and generally try to get their souls back, but there are interesting ripples from this. Most notably, almost NPC you encounter is dealing with the same realities of the soul, and this provides a solid index for people interacting with NPCs. Unless the NPC has a specific reason to act against the PC, they'll generally be nice (or at least polite) because they've got their own souls to look out for.

The GMs advice may be the best I've seen in any printed product for one simple reason - before it gets onto things like how to run the game, design adventures and the like, it takes some time to discuss the most important element of gaming, the fact that it takes real people getting together. In comparison to the sheer volume of academic-sounding nonsense that fills a lot of comparable chapters, this is a breath of fresh air.

The setting itself is quite vibrant. Focus is mostly given to the spirit world, a place full of spirits, jungian archetypes, magi, zombis, ghosts, food vendors and almost anything else. It's a dreamscape, and while it has some expected tropes (Shifting city streets, abstract goods and services), it's got enough clever elements and questions to remain interesting.

The system is simple, but solid, reminiscent of Over the Edge or Fudge in certain elements (And CORPs, in fact, in that they share a similar sense of when to roll the dice). it does include a Virtue and Vice system, which provides a nice yardstick for GMs to know what kind of ethical considerations to throw at players. Powers are very elegantly handled, with my favorite element being that learning new powers is generally as easy as seeing them used - it's nicely egalitarian.

Now, all that said, there are a few warts. While the book is solid all the way through, the writing is strongest near the very beginning, and some of the later material suffers in comparison to itself. The layout, while excellent and clean for printing, is not entirely screen-friendly.

The biggest issue is one that is likely more a matter of taste. The emphasis of play is on the Spirit World, with the players facing ethical challenges, getting guidance and interference from the Imagos (Their personal Jungian Archetypes, who muck about with the PC's life, mostly to their benefit) as well as the other participants of the Spirit World. It is easier to regain your soul in the Spirit World, so there is little incentive to leave it. And that's where the split comes up.

A game set in the Spirit World is going to be primarily about the exploration of the _character_, with the color and fantastic elements providing tools to further that exploration. And that's cool. However, the premise is so solid and so compelling that a player may be more interested in exploring the world - in seeing what sort of things they can do and find in the real world. The book does not provide a lot of support for that sort of play, though it also puts up no barriers to GMs wishing to explore that aspect of it. Thankfully, a supplement on the real world is in the works, and I for one can hardly wait.

All in all, this is a purchase I was more than glad to make. Not only is it solid in its own right, it's full of ideas i could easily pull into any contemporary fantasy/horror game, like Unknown Armies, Over the Edge, Witchcraft or nearly anything in the World of Darkness.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Inside: the Roleplaying Game of Loss & Redemption
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