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Fantasy Women Clipart JPEG 7
Publisher: Art Fantasies
by Avram S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/03/2011 15:35:29
I received this work as part of the Haiti Bundle.

This is a tawdry walk into the uncanny valley. This product has a number of computer generated females, in various stages of undress. Unfortunately, for me at least, computer generated artwork is off-putting. I respect the amount of work which went into creating these pictures, but I have not use for them. If you are not put off by the style of art-work, there are 20 images which can be used to enhance a role-playing game, especially a fantasy/horror one.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Fantasy Women Clipart JPEG 7
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Dork Covenant
Publisher: Dork Storm Press
by Avram S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/30/2011 13:31:02
Simply put, John Kovalic makes me laugh. I first read Dork Tower in Shadis Magazine, many years ago, and I have been an avid reader of Kovalic's work ever since. I met him one year at Origins, and was pleased with how nice and pleasant he was. Kovalic's comics are ink drawings, so they show up beautifully on my Kindle DX. Since this is older, it is interesting to see how his style has improved over the last few years. I still get a chuckle out this--I recommend, for John Kovalic is a funny man.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dork Covenant
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Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Avram S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/30/2011 13:14:00
This is an interesting fantasy game. I recognize that it has been out long enough, and has enough of a fan following, that in some ways I add nothing with my review, but many voices makes for a clearer picture.

In many ways the concept of Exalted is spectacular. It purports (and for the most part succeeds) in being a fantasy game derived from different sources than Prof. Tolkein and his imitators. It claims in particular to derive itself from ancient epics like the Illiad and from anime. This last influence is felt most clearly in the art. The introduction to the game says that it is the anime influences which differentiate the game most strongly from its competitors (pg. 14), which to me sometimes plays out that this is the strongest influence on the game. This is certainly the feeling which I get from the game. The ancient heroes vibe is there, but I feel like the anime vibe is stronger. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Anime is not my usual cup of tea, but I still enjoy this game immensely. There are some aspects which feel very much inspired by Asian fantasy, like the enormous swords. And of course, the art.

The art is excellent. It is in a very cartoon style, which is keeping with the stated influences of the authors. I feel that the nudity count was higher than I was comfortable with, but this is a discussion which White Wolf and I have been having since the first edition of Changeling (I was much younger and less mature then--I have much more of an ability to ignore nudity in a book now). Still in general, I like the art. The comics provide a quick and dirty jump into the world, which I prefer to in-world fiction. The .PDF is art intensive enough that my Kindle DX slows down a little drawing the whole page, but not so much that it is unreadable.

The world of Exalted is extremely detailed, even in the core rulebook, which is quite nice. I like being able to run a game with essentially one book, and the main Exalted rulebook gives you a lot to work with. The world is one where there are extremely powerful humans, called Exalts, who receive their powers from various divine agencies. The main rulebook has rules for playing Solar Exalts, men and women given power by the Sun. There are other books describing the other types of Exalted in much greater detail, but I do not have those books.

In accordance with White Wolf's ready custom, the Solar Exalted are divided into Castes, which provides for the usual stereotypes, interactions and benefits associated with splat based character creation. Broadly speaking they are fighters (Dawn), clerics (Zenith), magic-user (Twilight), rogue (Night), and noble/faceman (Eclipse). In many ways, such broad archetypes help a game which is derived (at least in part) from epic, because it makes sketching out a broad character quite easy.

The system in Exalted is complicated, although simple enough on the surface. It uses a modified version of the Storyteller system, which is well and good, but there are so many powers and choices in character creation that it is quite easy to become overwhelmed, and subsequent to that, the Storyteller will need a clear picture of how the various powers interact with one another. From a book-keeping stand point, Exalted's system requires a fair bit of work. Although is different from the stated putative purpose of the Storyteller system, I think that it represents an understandable move for this game. Characters are supposed to awesome from the get-go, and one way to do that is to lay on the nifty powers. The only thing is just to keep on top of things, and try to be aware of the interactions of the various charms.

In the end this is a fine game. It has justly earned its following. The first time I read this book, I turned to my brother and said, "There is a lot of awesome in this book." It is not without its shortcomings. It is not, as noted, especially rule light. But for gamers craving epic, over-the-top fantasy gaming, Exalted is definitely worth a look.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
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The Book of The Dead
Publisher: Dane of War
by Avram S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/26/2010 20:47:38
I cannot in good conscience recommend this book. It is essentially a repackaging of E. A. Wallis Budge's translation of the Ani papyrus of The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, commonly known as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It has no commentary. There is no suggestion as to how this material would be useful in a role-playing game. For a product sold on a role-playing site, as an aid to role-playing, this seems an egregious error. Instead, the texts are merely reproduced, inside a cover that has nothing to do with anything relating to these important religious texts.

The tag line on the front cover of this book even comes from the ad-copy on the back of the Dover reprint of Budge's translation. This book is rounded out by a lengthy statement designed to protect Dane of War Publishing's intellectual property rights. There is an irony in borrowing the work of one Egyptology's great (although flawed) scholars wholesale, and then worrying about ones own intellectual property rights.

To be clear I do not believe that Dane of War Publishing has done anything illegal, as Budge's translation is almost certainly in the public domain now--and therefore available on the Internet. This actually brings up one final point--Budge's translation is over a hundred years old, and Egyptology has come a long way since 1895. Raymond Faulkner has a more recent translation, but it does cost more, as it represents current scholarship and is not in the public domain.

This book is the Book of the Dead, as stated on the cover. It is not, however, a role-playing supplement.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of The Dead
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