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Pozas Art Pack: Fantasy vol. 10-Locales
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/14/2012 03:28:09
The Pozas collections are rather variable, and this one is poor. Five pieces. If you want a "common room" set up in a cave with a surprisingly large fire, or very black steps down into a catacomb with skulls, you might get value from the price. The library with torch is really hard to make sense of - I think that's a chair but it could be a giant hand! The garden and modern flat-roofed compound buildings are undetailed and not very interesting, but could serve as small spot pics.

Expeditious Retreat ought to provide decent previews of these products so customers can see what they'll be getting. In this case I gambled and lost.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Pozas Art Pack: Fantasy vol. 10-Locales
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OtherWorldly Art Portfolio Volume Six
Publisher: Super Genius Games
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/22/2007 00:00:00
Even more cat-people than in portfolios 1 and 2. I count 11 out of 23 illustrations (a previous reviewer is right that one pic is simply repeated). There's a fair bit of other stuff that looks specific to their setting as well. Quality is variable - some quite good, a couple rather poor.


LIKED: Very good price in the bundle offer I got.

DISLIKED: I question whether it should be sold for general use, given the amount of material relating to uncommon setting elements. Had I not seen the cheap bundle offer I wouldn't have bought it without seeing a demo - until one appears I suggest you exercise similar caution.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
OtherWorldly Art Portfolio Volume Six
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Medieval Landscapes
Publisher: The Forge Studios
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/19/2006 00:00:00
Very nice pieces in a realistic line drawing style. Suitable for conveying a medieval European style setting with forests, streams, rivers, mine workings, etc.


LIKED: Good quality, excellent value for money, good demo PDF.

DISLIKED: Nothing. Well, OK, I'm not sure how useful the beehives will be... ;)

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Medieval Landscapes
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Quick20
Publisher: Mob United Media
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/06/2006 00:00:00
I picked this up thinking it might be a pared-down version of the d20 rules, a little bit like True20, which would be a handy tool to have. It's not: it's kind of a blend of the author's own system with bits borrowed from d20 and elsewhere, specifically catering for fantasy. Nothing wrong with that, but unfortunately it's poorly presented and poorly thought out. Basically it's a product that wasn't ready to be released.

Characters are defined extremely simply. Their capabilities are almost entirely defined by four attributes: Fortitude, Might, Reflex and Will. They have an open-ended rating that's added to a d20 roll vs a target number. (You might think they look a bit like saves, and they're used for those too.) Will covers *all* mental and social tasks, including perception - presumably this means the author thinks these not terribly important in the business of monster-bashing, but it also means it's a disproportionately good investment for your points. The other important feature of a character is class: Warrior, Mystic or Expert. (Pretty much the same as True20, though it doesn't appear to be a source.) Each has a points pool that helps it to be good at its kind of stuff. And that's basically it. In the rules for advancing in level there's a bit about gaining bonuses for specific tasks for sneaking around, so you'd get some differentiation over a long period, but there doesn't seem anything to make characters *interesting*.

Combat rules are fairly D&Dish, with an odd blend of simplification and fiddliness. Damage works by saving throws rather than hit points, with a number of possible states (again reminiscent of True20), but it's complicated and hard to understand - not good for a very condensed thing like this, where simplicity is key. (It needs a damage track diagram or something.)

Magic's kind of freeform - it talks about a number of common *kinds* of spell and how they might be implemented, probably covering most of the D&D standards. Spellcasting runs off the Mystic class' pool (unlike the others, which boost rolls). You have to spend some points to memorise a spell so you can access it, then some more to cast it at a basic level, and more if you want to extend area, duration or range. It could be a reasonable toolkit, though again too fiddly for this size product. I think the cost is a problem: a Level 1 Mystic is basically going to be able to cast one weak spell per day, which doesn't give them a big input to the fun.


EDIT (10th Nov, original review content unchanged): This product has been updated 4 times in the few days since I reviewed it. The layout has been slightly improved (more column spacing) and some sections made a bit clearer; some typos removed but I think I saw more creeping in. In particular:
* It is now stated that memorised spells and woven spells are different ways to use magic rather than parts of the same process, which will enable mystics to do more. The former is an advance commitment of points allowing unlimited use of that spell at base level; the latter is improvising on the spot.
* There is now an included supplement that models standard fantasy races and gives guidance for creating monsters - a welcome and important addition. (I suppose making this separate preserves the claim that Quick20 itself is under 10 pages.)
I still think the product has a lot of problems, but it's certainly worth the $2.

LIKED: Well, I think it could probably work - with a GM willing to untangle it and a group that's not bothered by cardboard cut-out characters. With some strong editing and extra material there's a better product to be made of this.


DISLIKED: Layout: columns squashed close together, ugly word breaks at line ends (like oth- erwise and be- tween, yuck). Editing - frequent typos, unclear and confusing bits, repetition and redundancy, and stuff being referred to that we haven't seen before. Organisation - needs better planning, for instance the section on encumbrance appears before basic task resolution. No info on what characters are supposed to do, or on creating opponents; no sample monsters.


QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Quick20
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for your feedback. In response, I've updated the file to include a cleaner layout (the earlier version was built to be compact, not pretty) and clarify portions of the text. As for the rules, we'll have to agree to disagree. The game strongly adheres to OGL design principles, especially regarding bonus caps and interactions. Character individuality is a matter of choice, since the power to assign specialized competence rests with the players' special ability pools. Quick20 is a "high trust" version of the game. Ironically, the damage section that you cited as being especially confusing was, for the most part, verbatim OGC!
ePublishing 101 (#11) - Line Planning
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/02/2006 00:00:00
Another in the series passing on advice from two experienced e-publishers. This one covers planning a line of products rather than just firing them off haphazardly: coming up with the line idea, identifying product types that'll sell, and marketing them.

There's a good grounding in a small number of pages. One niggle, not quite a Dislike: a chunk of the text is devoted to the author's planning of a new product line, as an illuminating example. I would have liked a little bit more to draw it out into possible models for the reader. What alternative choices might be made? Would things be different if you're not publishing d20 add-ons?


LIKED: Plenty of good common sense things, even "obvious" ones, that the reader almost certainly hasn't thought of.

DISLIKED: Layout and editing is a bit rough - which is a general issue for this line. The frequent word breaks over line ends are just yucky, and there don't need to be so many typos. We pay a price premium for the page count to get well qualified advice, but it would be good to see an example of high quality e-publishing too.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
ePublishing 101 (#11) - Line Planning
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Image Portfolio 1.17 Modern & Urban
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2006 04:02:00
Not impressed by this one. It's 12 figures of street thugs, gangsters, corporates and enforcers; all male. It'd be a sight better if they didn't all have a heavy shaded background made of graduated spots, letting you just use the figures and maybe a shaped wrap; as it is they're going to dominate a page. One figure has a weird hatched pattern going across his grey suit - presumably an error rather than a cloth pattern as it doesn't follow his shape. Other than that the pictures are OK, but nothing to write home about.

It's a shame, because modern/urban is under-represented in clipart collections. There'd be real scope for a product with city skylines, police cars, bridges, street scenes, alongside a variety of character types.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Image Portfolio 1.17 Modern & Urban
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OtherWorldly Art Portfolio Volume Three
Publisher: Super Genius Games
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2006 00:00:00
Pieces by 6 artists in a variety of styles, from shaded pencil and wash to comic-like ink lines. These are mostly scenes: cultists around the Eiffel tower, Nazis with a mole machine, weird science montages, undersea exploration... They're solidly pulp-based, but there's a fair amount of scope for using them in other modern genres.

They're presented in a pdf book, so you have to extract them with Acrobat's snapshot - quality won't be high enough for large size in a print publication.


LIKED: At the sale price of $1.99, exceptional value for modern-imaginative projects.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
OtherWorldly Art Portfolio Volume Three
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OtherWorldly Art Portfolio Volume Five
Publisher: Super Genius Games
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2006 00:00:00
Art pieces by 8 different artists with quite different styles. Presented as a pdf book so you have to use Acrobat's snapshot function to get the images out - this wouldn't give sufficient quality to make the images large in a print version.

These are pulp pictures, mostly of NPCs who might be encountered: scholars, fashionable ladies, Indiana Jones types... There's a bit of scope for adaptation to other modern-ish genres. Quality is mostly pretty good, though solid rather than spectacular.


LIKED: At the reduced price of $1.99 even one picture usable for my purposes would be a good deal!

DISLIKED: Two of the pictures are identical except for a slight change of clothing.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
OtherWorldly Art Portfolio Volume Five
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RPGnet - 25k IMPRESSIONS
Publisher: RPGnet
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/25/2006 00:00:00
The ads definitely ran, and RPGnet's customer service was fine. I'm sure it increased the profile of my product, and it probably led to a few people checking out the details, but I can't trace any actual sales to it.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
RPGnet - 25k IMPRESSIONS
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Dragon ClipArt
Publisher: Sacrosanct Games
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/06/2006 00:00:00
A pack of 18 digital colour images of dragons. Different types, colours and poses.


LIKED: You certainly get a good number of images for the money.

DISLIKED: * The description says "high resolution", but actually these are rather small JPGs, of the order of 500 pixels on a side. They wouldn't do for a situation that needs detail.

* The artist has used the ability of digital packages to create lots of detail in scales etc, but this tends to make the outlines harder to make out. In a lot of the poses parts of the dragons overlap and it's visually confusing. The artist needs to get better at contrast.

* No usage/credit information in the package, which is an oversight by the publisher, and no document with the lot as thumbnails.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon ClipArt
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Fantasy Clip Art: Dragons Vol 1
Publisher: Dragon Keep
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/06/2006 00:00:00
This is a very cheap product, but there's only a small amount of content.

The 7 digital colour dragons are OK, and if one has the right look and pose for your purposes this could be a bargain. Even so, they could be a bit more smoothly done, and more wouldn't hurt.

The 8 pencil sketches are far too rough to include in a product. They look like part of the development process, getting the basic shapes for the colour versions; most appear like a quick sketch of a statue. They shouldn't be offered for sale as images in their own right.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Clip Art: Dragons Vol 1
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ePublishing 101 (#4) - Short PDFs -- Revisited!
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2006 00:00:00
Solid, basic advice from someone who really knows the market. Looks at release frequency and pricing for PDFs up to about 20 pages long.


LIKED: A good introduction to what you need to think about and what works in the market.

DISLIKED: Editing: it hasn't received the proper attention, with numerous typos etc. Layout: I really dislike splitting words with a hyphen over the ends of lines, and there's loads of that ugliness here.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
ePublishing 101 (#4) - Short PDFs -- Revisited!
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Fantasy Filler Art by Rick Hershey
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2006 00:00:00
You're definitely getting more quantity than quality here. And it's definitely filler art rather than feature pieces. About 8 are characters - knights and fighters - and the rest are mostly equipment (with an emphasis on weapons but some other bits like a lantern, a barrel, a vial), a few animals, and a couple of tall scenery bits. And 3 skulls. It's line art with no particular distinctive style.


LIKED: Good number of pieces, and you can probably find a few to slot into any fantasy work. Reasonable price.

DISLIKED: No demo to look at before purchase, nor any sort of thumbnail reference sheet in the purchased product. Quality is very variable - a few items are too unclear or flat-out bad to use, and they all have a bit of a rough feel.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Filler Art by Rick Hershey
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ePublishing 101 (#2) - Setting an Art Budget
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/27/2006 00:00:00
The content breakdown didn't work well for me. The first 3? pages are about setting a realistic art budget and finding art, which is what I was after. What's there is useful; I just wish there was a bit more.

The remainder of the 12 pages is about taking a black and white image and colouring it yourself using Photoshop: very handy if that's what you want to do, but dead pages if you don't.

The initial advice is probably worth $5 anyway, given the source, especially if you're new to art. But it's worth being aware of how the content divides up before you buy.


LIKED: Good basic advice.

DISLIKED: Not much of it.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
ePublishing 101 (#2) - Setting an Art Budget
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Fantasy Filler Art by Paul Daly
Publisher: Ronin Arts
by Tim G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/27/2006 00:00:00
A pack of 12 graphics, mostly of objects like a book, a dagger, a rack of scrolls, etc. The "eye" one is actually a close-up of a man's face.

I can see myself using two or three of them to break up text, but overall I wasn't very impressed. They just don't come over as being that *good* - and actually I think that's mostly about the style, which uses heavy lines and hatching, sometimes to the detriment of clarity. For three of them (cloak, dice, ring) you might not be able to work out what they are without the filename to refer to. There's certainly nothing here taht stands out as an attractive or striking image.


LIKED: Cheap.

DISLIKED: Limited utility of graphics.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Filler Art by Paul Daly
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