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Hornsaw: Forest of Blood
Publisher: Nocturnal & Onyx Path
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/01/2014 07:56:25
Hornsaw, Forest of Blood

Black and White PDF, 126 pages

This is a scan, which means no bookmarks. It makes navigating the document kind of clunky. The text is legible but feels faded. Page 41 was actually scanned upside-down and nobody caught it. I'm just not a fan of this product.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hornsaw: Forest of Blood
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GAZ7 The Northern Reaches (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2014 00:40:00
I really enjoyed this Gazetteer. It has a lot of information on the history and traditions of the Northlands. It is a fantasy version of Scandinavia, so if you are expecting historical accuracy, you will be disappointed. The book includes new rules options, a clan of insane dwarves, and all sorts of challenges for your characters to face.

I took off one star because the book makes no mention of the Immortals Forsetta and Cretia, which are central to the plot line of module X3 (set in Vestland). Also, the book makes frequent references to the nearby nations of Rockhome and Ethangar. Neither of those source books has been released yet.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GAZ7 The Northern Reaches (Basic)
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X3 Curse of Xanathon (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2014 00:27:06
This module details the Jarldom of Rhoona in Vestland, part of the Northern reaches. The plotline of the module involves a conflict between the gods Cretia and Forsetta. Oddly enough, there is only passing reference to these deities and their followers in the module. (they aren't even mentioned in GAZ7)

I had to do some research online to learn who these deities were and what their worshipers were like. I feel that is a flaw, which is why I only gave the module 3 stars.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
X3 Curse of Xanathon (Basic)
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Numenera
Publisher: Monte Cook Games
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/16/2013 07:38:39
This book is nothing short of revolutionary. No experience for combat encounters? That's just the tip of the iceberg! In Numenera, Monte Cook has examined every bit of the traditional RPG and reworked it. This is Monte Cook at the height of his powers as a game designer.

At first glance, you will notice that there are only three character types: the Glaive, Jack, and Nano. However, each character also chooses a descriptor and a focus. These three elements of the character concept give over a thousand potential combinations, ensuring that no two characters are quite the same.

The setting is a blend of high fantasy and post-apocalypse Science Fiction. People familiar with either genre will find a home here.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Numenera
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DMR2 Creature Catalog (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/09/2013 11:29:12
I gave this product a four-star review in October 2008, taking off one star for the quality of the scan. That issue has been fixed, so I am giving this product the five stars it deseves.

The Creature Catalog adds 150 monsters to BECMI D&D which aren't in the Rules Cyclopedia. (including early versions of the Neh-Thallgu/brain collector, the choker, the mimic/polymar and other favorites)

The best parts of this book are the new wilderness encouter tables and a comprehensive index of which creatures are located where. This saves a lot of book-flipping and frustration.

The Creature Catalog and the Rules Cyclopedia are the only two books you need to run an real old-school campaign of D&D.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DMR2 Creature Catalog (Basic)
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Fantasy Craft Second Printing
Publisher: Crafty Games
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/02/2013 09:23:28
Fantasy Craft, Second Printing (Crafty Games)
402 page PDF

The good:
I really enjoyed the point-buy system for creating NPC/Monster challenges for the party to face. I've never seen anything like it before.

The bad:
Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good. Organizationally, this book is a hot mess. I read the character creation chapter twice, and I am still not sure I understand it. (I have been gaming for 30 years) Most of the book just seems needlessly complex to me.

After reading the dozen-plus glowing reviews on this website, I was expecting this to be the best book in the history of gaming. (I guess disappointment was inevitable)

The bottom line:
If you are looking for a ready-made campaign, this isn't your game. It's more of a toolbox that lets you create the fantasy of your choosing. Be prepared to do a LOT of work preparing and planning the campaign before play begins.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Craft Second Printing
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BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
Publisher: DwD Studios
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/06/2013 20:45:49
Overview: PDF, 84 pages

Includes everything you need to run a game in 84 pages! Chapters are as follows: Introduction, Character Creation, Gameplay, GM Guidelines, Setting Overview.

This book assumes that you know what an RPG is and how to roleplay a character. So, not a whole lot of long-winded explanations. That being said, this would be a great RPG to start new players in.

The good:
Some people have derided BBF as a 'beer and pretels' game. I disagree with that assessment. It is decidedly rules-light, but in a good way. More time is spent rolling dice than looking up obscure rules scattered over a dozen books. I call that a positive.

The bad:
It could use a few more monsters. More monsters are showing up in the modules, so I guess they are working on this issue.

Bottom line: Best money you will spend on a basic RPG this year.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game
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High Adventure Role Playing Fantasy
Publisher: Guild Companion Publications
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/23/2012 17:16:28
Disclosure: As a frequent ICE/GCP customer, I received this product at a reduced price. This has no bearing on my review, but it is worth noting.

This is the second edition (or third, depending on who you ask) of HARP, re-written to be compatible with HARP Sci-Fi. The changes are minor, but pervasive. Changes from the previous version include re-balancing of the races and professions, due to feedback from 8 years of playtesting.

Likes:
-The new typefaces are easy to read and there is new interior artwork.
-Will feel familiar to Rolemaster players, but plays fast enough to hold the interest of other gamers. (This is a big plus in mixed groups)
-A POD version is in the works. This might actually be the book that gets me to try print-on-demand.
-Single roll combat resolution! (A big plus for people who are not fans of Rolemaster).
-Very few typos or grammatical errors. (Because, as a matter of fact, I AM the grammar police. )

Dislikes:
-No Hyperlinks or bookmarks in the PDF.
-Because of balance changes, the new rules are not backwards-compatible with previously released products in this line. (Such as "College of Magics").

Overview: No system is perfect, but this one comes close. I can't wait for more monsters, spells, and professions in future releases. Generally speaking, any book that leaves me wanting more gets high marks.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
High Adventure Role Playing Fantasy
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Amethyst: Renaissance
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/09/2012 13:42:56
"Amethyst: Renaissance" by Dias ex Machina Games

THE GOOD:
-Nice layout, good artwork, easy-to-read typeface.
-PDF comes with extra goodies, like a map and wallpaper pics.
-The PDF is searchable and hyper-linked for ease of use.
-New races, classes, feats, equipment, monsters and PRC's for use with Pathfinder.
-The free preview was actually more than just the table of contents, for a change.

THE BAD:
I could whine about a few minor layout issues and the odd typo, but there really aren't any deal-breakers in this book.

OVERALL:
I am usually not a big fan of companies that rely on glossy artwork and fan fiction to sell their products. I am also not a big fan of settings that throw around phrases like "post-apocalypse" and "Science-Fantasy crossover setting". I was pleasantly surprised by DEM Games and the Amethyst setting. It is obvious that a lot of thought and care went into the preparation of this product.

Most amazing of all, the product left me wanting to know more about the world and its inhabitants. I've been playing RPG's for decades, and I must say it has been a while since that has happened. I give this book an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Renaissance
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Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2012 19:46:23
Mage:The Awakening (White Wolf) Pages: 404

Overview: A complete overview of the Mage and her role in the World of Darkness setting. It includes the history of magic, the traditions, mage politics, spells, and everything else you need to run a Mage campaign in the World of Darkness setting.

Note: Use of this book requires the 200-page main "World of Darkness" rulebook. The Mage rules rely on concepts that are only covered in the main rulebook.

Likes: The first chapter (about the origins of magic and the history of Atlantis) was truly inspired. The fact that it was stat-free was an added bonus.

Dislikes:
1) The first chapter doesn't start until after a 25-page work of fiction. Not interested--stick it in an appendix and get it out of my way.

2) This system has a steep learning curve, and the book layout doesn't encourage ease of use. Thank God for bookmarked PDF's!

3) While this book does provide an overview of the Mage universe, you'll have to buy additional splat books if you want the details. Each order has its own book, plus the equipment guide, and the antagonists have their own books, too. Want to add Vampires and Werewolves to the mix? That's another two lines of books to add.

4) Character creation is a bewildering array of paths, orders, and traditions. While this allows for widely diverse character types, it is a little intimidating for newcomers.

Other opnions: Stop whining about the bad artwork. If you want good artwork, go to a museum. I want information out of a book, not pretty pictures.

Bottom line: Unless you are a World of Darkness fanboy, this is not your game.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
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Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying
Publisher: Amarillo Design Bureau
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/12/2012 08:52:35
You should be aware that these rules only incorporate information from the original TV show from the 1960's. None of the information in the movies, TNG, DS9, Voyager, or Enterprise is included in this game.

Also, the game takes the TV show as a base then goes off in its own direction, which contradicts later shows in the Star Trek genre in some cases.

Overall, I would have to say that I was displeased with the product as a result of these problems. It's a fine RPG, but it's not what I would consider to be "Star Trek".

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying
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RMFRP Races and Cultures
Publisher: Guild Companion Publications
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2011 19:34:26
Rolemaster Races and Cultures
Guild Companion Publications (2004 original/2011 reprint)
PDF (128 pages)

Overview:

Part One: provides 24 racial templates for use in RMSS and Shandow World campaigns. (Many of these races were formerly considered NPC/Monster races.)

Part Two: provides 11 cultural templates for use in RMSS and Shadow World campaigns.

Part Three: Provides a few examples of using the new rules to design a character.

Likes:
1) The author makes a strong case for the fact that race and culture should be separate considerations. (For example, a dwarf raised in a big city would have more in common with a half-elf from the same city than he would with a dwarf who grew up hundreds of miles away in a mining community.)

2) You can now run monsters as PC's in your RMSS campaign!

3) The interior text is all black and white, making this book very printer-friendly. (Permission is granted to make one personal use copy of the manuscript.)

Dislikes:

1) No bookmarks or hyperlinks in the PDF.

conclusion: If you run an RMSS campaign, buy this book. Even if you've never heard of Shadow World, this is a good book. (The SW information is clearly marked as such, making it easy to separate.)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
RMFRP Races and Cultures
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Dungeon Crawl - Quest
Publisher: Greywood Publishing
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/31/2011 20:12:27
Adds a new dimension to the basic game: This set of rules allows you to go on a quest rather than searching for a finale room. It also contains rules for two-player parties.

Again with the spelling errors? (rolleyes) "Alter" refers to a change of some kind. "Altar" refers to the big stone thing priests pray at. Really five seconds at dictionary dot com is all it takes..... (Don't even get me started on the "Chaple" in the Forest Quest Cards)

Overall, you get a good value for the money. Definitely money well-spent.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl - Quest
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Arms & Equipment
Publisher: Mongoose
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/12/2011 02:54:18
RQ2 Arns & Equipment Guide by Mongoose Publishing

An overview of arms and equipment available to RQ2 characters.

Likes:
-Very throrough treatment of the subject matter
-rules for barter and haggling
-rules for alchemy and item enchantment
-rules for making armor out of monster hide

Dislikes:
-PDF Does not contain any bookmarks
-All measurements are metric
-no rules for deciding how to dole out treasure for encouters

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arms & Equipment
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Arcana Journal #1
Publisher: Avalon Game Company
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/02/2011 19:10:45
This is a brilliant idea for a camaign setting book. Instead of releasing one socking huge book worth a fortune, it is being released in the form of a monthly digest. Each issue includes details on one hex of the regional map. Most issues also include an article on one of the kingdoms in the setting, and part of the "Encyclopedia Arcana".

Dislikes: spelling and grammar continue to be an issue with this series of products. (Manner house? Really?)

Also of note: Say you want to adventure in the Kingdom of Mulithor. You would need the journals that cover hexes 2, 9, and 10. (Not a complaint, but it is something you should be aware of.)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arcana Journal #1
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